The Daily Agenda for Monday, May 20

Jim Burroway

May 20th, 2013

TODAY’S AGENDA:
British Parliament Resumes Work on Marriage Bill: London, UK. About 150 Tories poised to enter into full rebellion as Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s government pushes ahead to bring up the marriage equality for its report stage in the Commons today. That rebellion is being compounded by an amendment being proposed by marriage equality opponent Tim Loughton, which would grant civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. Cameron’s government accuses Labour MPs of supporting the amendment, which the government says would cost the government £4 billion in pension liabilities and force a delay of up to two years to work out the legalities of implementing civil partnerships across the board, and would therefore become a poison pill which imperils the legislation altogether. But Labour sources told The Guardian that Conservative warnings about the amendment’s costs are “farcical”, saying “They are wrecking this bill themselves and trying to blame others.” If the bill survives today’s Report stage, it will then go on to a third and final reading in Commons before going to the House of Lords for consideration.

Mark Carson

March and Rally In Response to Mark Carson’s Murder: New York, NY. Over the weekend, a gunman shot and killed thirty-two-year-old Mark Carson after being followed by three men shouting anti-gay epithets. Elliot Morales, 32, was arrested and charged with the murder. The LGBT Center will hold a march to the crime scene and a rally. The march will begin at 5:30 p.m. beginning at the Center, 208 W 13th Street, and proceed to West 8th Street and 6th Avenue where the shooting occurred. Several elected officials, LGBT community leaders and allies will be on hand to call for an end to the escalating number of anti-LGBT hate crimes that have been occurring in New York City over the past several weeks. You can find more information at the event’s Facebook page.

L-R: Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo

TODAY IN HISTORY:
30 YEARS AGO: AIDS Virus Identified: 1983. In a paper published in the US journal Science, a team from France’s Pasteur Institute, led by Luc Montagnier, described a suspect virus which had been isolated in a patient who had died of AIDS. Montagnier’s groundbreaking work led to the determination by US researcher Robert Gallo in 1984 that the virus was indeed the cause of AIDS. Gallo named his virus HTLV-III, and promptly claimed credit for discovering the virus. But the rest of the world began calling it the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV. A three year acrimonious spat between Gallo and Montagnier ensued over who was the first to discover it. The dispute was finally settled after intensive negotiations resulting in both parties being awarded credit, and everyone lived happily ever after. As it were.

Photo of an Amendment 2 Protest from the Nov. 11, 1992 issue of Out Front.

Romer v. Evans: 1996. On this date, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the landmark decision striking down Colorado’s Amendment 2 to the state constitution which would have disenfranchised that state’s LGBT citizens from the right to petition their state and local governments for laws banning discrimination.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, rejected Amendment 2 supporter’s arguments that the ban on anti-discrimination laws were meant solely to deny LGBT people “special rights”:

we cannot accept the view that Amendment 2’s prohibition on specific legal protections does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability upon those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint. They can obtain specific protection against discrimination only by enlisting the citizenry of Colorado to amend the State Constitution or perhaps, on the State’s view, by trying to pass helpful laws of general applicability. This is so no matter how local or discrete the harm, no matter how public and widespread the injury. We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These are protections taken for granted by most people either because they already have them or do not need them; these are protections against exclusion from an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civic life in a free society.

…(Amendment 2) is at once too narrow and too broad. It identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. The resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence. …We must conclude that Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. This Colorado cannot do. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws. Amendment 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Colorado is affirmed.

Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer joined Kennedy in the majority opinion.

Dissenting justice Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas, considered Colorado’s attempt to disenfranchise an entire class of people “unimpeachable under any constitutional doctrine hitherto pronounced.” Pointing to the Bowers v Hardwick, the 1986 Supreme Court Decision which declared that sodomy laws were constitutional, Scalia wrote, “If it is rational to criminalize the conduct, surely it is rational to deny special favor and protection to those with a self-avowed tendency or desire to engage in the conduct.” Seven years later, the Court would correct that contradiction in Lawrence v Texas, which finally struck down anti-sodomy laws in the 13 states where such laws were still in effect.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Cher: 1946. She started out as one-half of the husband-and-wife singing duo Sonny & Cher with their 1965 hit, “I Got You Babe.” After a string of hits and a popular television series, their marriage ended and Cher’s solo singing career took off. She also became an Academy Award winning actress, winning a Best Actress award for her role in 1987’s Moonstruck. In 2002, Cher began her Farewell Tour, after which she said she would retire from show business. The tour lasted three years, and at some point she re-named it the “Never Can  Say Goodbye” Tour. But in 2005, she finally retired the show and retired herself. Then she retired from retirement in February 2008 for a show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas which lasted until February 2011. A year later, she announced via Twitter that should she would embark on another tour beginning in September 2012. A recent single from the Burlesque soundtrack is fitting: “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me.”

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

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