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Posts for July, 2014

The Big Mo, By the Numbers

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2014

EqualityChartB2014.07.28As I pointed out in today’s Daily Agenda, today marks the date in which Illinois formally rescinded its anti-Sodomy law in 1961. I included a version of the above chart in that post. But where the original chart also showed the percentage of the population living in states offering civil unions, I decided that the more interesting development now is the dizzying number of court cases that have struck down marriage bans in fourteen states and two appeals circuits.

So this brought out the geek in me, which resulted in the updated version you see here. And as you can see, it took 41 years from 1961 when time Illinois eliminated its anti-sodomy statute before 70% of the U.S. population was free of those archaic laws. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court freed the remaining 30% with Lawrence v. Texas.

In 2004, marriage equality arrived in Massachusetts, making the freedom to marry available to 2.2% of the U.S. Population. In just twelve years, that figure has risen to 44%. Another 31% now live in states where state and federal courts have struck down marriage bans. Those decision are on hold pending further appeals, but also it means that in about a quarter of the time that it took to get rid of criminal penalties against gay and lesbian relationships, three-quarters of the U.S. population now live in states which either provide marriage equality or are on the cusp of doing so.

And with the three recent Appeals Court decisions, two in the Tenth and today’s in the Fourth, there are now five more states — Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — where those decisions are now established precedent for cases working their way through the courts in those states. That’s another 6% of the U.S. population. And as BTB commenter Matt pointed out, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) has announced that it would be “futile” to try to continue opposing similar lawsuits in his state, and so he’s not even going to try to do so.

That leaves only 19% of the U.S. population untouched by the fast-paced expansion of what is quickly becoming a universal recognition of the fundamental right to marry. Can you feel the exitement?

Six AIDS Researchers, Advocates Confirmed Dead on MH17

Jim Burroway

July 19th, 2014

An earlier report from The Australian placed that toll at 108, but this morning Malaysian Airlines released its official manifest which confirms that six AIDS researchers and advocates were on board MH17 on their way to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine:

Malaysian Airlines has confirmed six HIV/AIDS researchers and advocates were among those who were on an airliner that pro-Russian separatists apparently shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

Joep Lange, a prominent Dutch HIV researcher who is a former president of the International AIDS Society, which organizes the biennial International AIDS Conference, and his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, were among the 283 passengers and 15 crew members who were on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

A passenger list that Malaysian Airlines released on Saturday also confirms Pim de Kuijer, another Dutch national who worked for Stop AIDS Now, and Glenn Thomas, a former BBC journalist who was a press officer for the World Health Organization, were also on Flight 17.

The airlines has also confirmed Lucie van Mens, another Dutch HIV/AIDS researcher, and Martine de Schutter, a program manager for Bridging the Gaps, were on the flight.

Report: More Than 100 AIDS Activists Were On Board Aircraft Shot Down Over Ukraine

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2014

The Australian is reporting that among the passengers of Malaysian Flight 17 that was shot down over Eastern Ukraine were as many as 108 AIDS activists who were flying to Melbourne in Australia to attend the 20th International AIDS conference. That conference is set to begin on Sunday.

Among those thought to have been killed was prominent Dutch researcher Joep Lange, a former president of the International Aids Society. Glenn Thomas, a World Health Organisation media relations coordinator, also died in the crash, according to Dr Haileyesus Getahun, coordinator of the WHO’s Global TB program. Delegates Lucie van Mens, Martine de Schutter, Pim de Kuijer and Jacqueline van Tongeren were also reportedly on the flight. Dr Van Mens, director of program development and support at the Female Health Company, has been involved in public health, focusing on prevention of STIs and HIV/AIDS, since 1995.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation tweeted that MH17 was due to change its flight number after landing in Kuala Lumpur to MH129 before proceeding to Melbourne.

Malaysian flight in Ukraine included many AIDS researchers/activists

Timothy Kincaid

July 17th, 2014

Buzzfeed is reporting that the Malaysian flight which may have been shot down by Russian forces in Ukraine included a number of prominent AIDS researchers and activists traveling to the AIDS 2014 Conference in Australia. Confirmed so far include Joep Lange, prominent HIV researcher from Netherlands and Glenn Raymond Thomas, a Geneva-based spokesman for World Health Organization.

Compass points get marriage

Timothy Kincaid

July 17th, 2014

Marriage equality is now the law of the land in the

* Southernmost part of the contiguous United States: Ballast Key, Florida

* Northernmost part of the contiguous United States: Sumas, Washington Northwest Angle Inlet in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota [still equal]

* Easternmost part of the contiguous United States: West Quoddy Head, Maine

* Westernmost part of the contiguous United States: Cape Alava, Washington

Utah To Appeal Marriage Decision Directly To Supreme Court

Jim Burroway

July 9th, 2014

After a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling striking down Utah’s marriage equality ban as unconstitutional, the state’s Attorney General’s office had two options: they could either seek an en banc review by all twelve judges of the Tenth Circuit, or they could appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Actually, they have three options: they could have decided not to appeal altogether, but they’ve never shown an inclination to consider that one.) Today, the  Attorney General’s office has announced its decision:

“To obtain clarity and resolution from the highest court, the Utah Attorney General’s Office will not seek en banc review of the Kitchen v. Herbert Tenth Circuit decision, but will file a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United State Supreme Court in the coming weeks,” a news release said. “Attorney General Sean Reyes has a sworn duty to defend the laws of our state. Utah’s Constitutional Amendment 3 is presumed to be constitutional unless the highest court deems otherwise.”

The Utah case now stands a very good chance of becoming the first marriage case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court since the high court last summer struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. That decision led to a wave of more than twenty court decisions since then striking down state marriage bans in more than twenty states.

Hearing on Florida marriage lawsuit today

Timothy Kincaid

July 2nd, 2014

New Times

Eleventh Judicial Court Judge Sarah Zabel will preside over the case of Pareto v. Ruvin in a hearing scheduled for 4 Wednesday afternoon.

The suit looks to overturn Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, which was added to the state constitution in 2008. According to Equality Florida, the six couples’ motion asserts that Florida’s marriage ban cannot stand in light of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” violates the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Florida Equality is livetweeting

Burger King adds new item

Timothy Kincaid

July 2nd, 2014

Over the weekend, Burger King added a new menu item to its Market Street location in San Francisco, coincident with the city’s Gay Pride. They prepared a video of the response:

YouTube Preview Image

World Congress of Families To Meet in Utah for 2015

Jim Burroway

July 2nd, 2014

The World Congress of Families, a project of the Rockford, Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society and an officially designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has announced that it will be holding its 2015 Congress in Salt Lake City:

The World Congress of Families is to be held at the Little America and Grand America hotels in late October 2015. It’s an event that could attract a couple of thousand people, said Paul Mero, president of the Sutherland Institute, a Utah conservative think tank that is hosting the gathering.

Mero, who serves on the congress’ management committee and used to work for The Howard Center for Family Religion and Society, which founded the Congress, said Salt Lake City is the perfect place for the conference.

“I think there’s no better locale more focused on family as the fundamental unit of society than Utah,” Mero said. “I think Utah is exceptional in faith, family and in freedom.”

I am so there! Anyone with me?

The World Congress of Families typically holds its Congresses outside of the United States with the aim of exporting anti-gay rhetoric and other socially-conservative ideas to other countries. This year’s Congress, scheduled to take place in Moscow, was “suspended for the time being” after Russia invaded the Crimea. Not so much because WCF was dumbfounded that Russia would violate human rights on such a massive scale, but because U.S. and European Union sanctions “has raised questions about travel, logistics, and other matters necessary to plan WCF VIII .” The fact that WCF and its partners were happy to heap praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin for passing its so-called “homosexual propaganda” law should tell you everything you need to know about the WCF’s concerns over human rights.

They Didn’t Know What They Were Up Against

Jim Burroway

July 1st, 2014
YouTube Preview Image

A group of Christians protesters tried to disrupt the start of Seattle’s gay pride parade last Sunday. They tried to invoke the power of Jesus Christ, but they failed to take into account the power of Mama Tits:

MamaTits“I saw them coming up the road pre-Parade and looked at Sylvia and DonnaTella and said, ‘Ladies, let’s make a wall!’ Before I knew it, I was standing tits to nose with the leader guy on the megaphone. It felt like I had the strength of all the people who had ever been hurt by these people standing right behind be me giving me power! I was almost in auto-pilot mode from my days as a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence. I planted myself in his path and wouldn’t move. When he walked around me, I got back in front of him again and again.I stared him in the eyes and could see the pain in his eyes, I could see he was scared and he should have been. He tried to hit me with his sign, but like Bianca Del Rio says “Not Today, Satan!”

I pushed his sign away from my face and hair, because you DO NOT TOUCH my hair. And, it was all I could do to NOT get violent, but I didn’t because once that happens, we all lose. They tried to surround me in an intimidation tactic, but let’s face it, I’m fucking HUGE and it didn’t work at all! The police came to me and asked to let them pass, and told me not to let them get me upset. I told the cops I wasn’t upset, but I WILL defend myself when assaulted, and they needed to remove them from our Parade. I then walked over and grabbed my mic and started to get the crowd involved. I wanted them to make so much joyful noise to drown out the hate… and, boy did they ever! The crowd made the walls rattle down on 4th and Pine!

Nevada marriage hearing set

Timothy Kincaid

July 1st, 2014

Reno Gazette-Journal

A federal appeals court says it will consider Nevada’s gay marriage ban on Sept. 8.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has scheduled 20 minutes of oral arguments in the case of Beverly Sevcik v. Brian Sandoval. The court will also hear arguments that morning over similar cases in Idaho and Hawaii.

You may recall that Attorney General Cortez Masto and Governor Sandoval have pulled all state defense of the marriage ban, leaving only the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage to argue the case.

Supreme Court Declines to Review California’s Conversion Therapy Ban

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2014

In other less-talked about Supreme Court news today, the high court declined to hear an appeal challenging California’s ban on sexual orientation change therapy for minors. This leaves in place a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling stating that the state of California had a legitimate interest in banning professional treatments that were considered harmful. As is customary, the Supreme Court didn’t give a reason for declining the appeal.

While California’s converstion therapy ban prohibits licensed professionals from providing change orientation therapy to minors, it does not apply to unlicensed religious-based ex-gay ministries, nor does it prohibit licensed professionals from providing sexual orientation change therapy to adults. Nevertheless, it’s likely to have a serious financial effect on licensed providers. In 2012, Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) which bills itself as the professional arm of the ex-gay movement, admitted that about half of all NARTH clients are teens. NARTH, which had appealed the case to the Supreme Court with the help of Liberty Counsel, has not yet issued a statement responding to the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear their case. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver issued a statement however that is about as nasty as it gets:

I am deeply saddened for the families we represent and for the thousands of children that our professional clients counsel, many of whom developed these unwanted attractions because of abuse of a pedophile. …These children have been victimized twice –  first by the likes of Jerry Sandusky, and second by legislators and judges who have essentially barged into their private therapy rooms and told them that they must pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior.

Google Docs Celebrates Pride

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 7.34.16 AM

Google Docs is celebrating pride with an Easter Egg in the spreadsheet app. Just go to Google Docs, create a new spreadsheet, and type P, R, I, D, and E in the first five cells in the top row. For the nerd in all of us.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 7.29.50 AM

Former Arizona AG op-ed in support of equality

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2014

Grant Woods, a Republican, was the Attorney General of Arizona from 1991 through 1999. Today he shares his views with the Arizona Republic:

I had the honor of serving as Arizona’s attorney general from 1991 to 1999. If I were serving in that role today, I would make the case that our state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

As Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the Windsor decision, DOMA’s ban on same-sex marriage “violates basic due process and equal protection principles.” I agree with the Supreme Court ruling and believe the same law and principles apply to Arizona’s ban.

Also in agreement are the judges who have struck down marriage bans in other states. For example, Judge John E. Jones III, a Republican appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote in his decision striking down Pennsylvania’s ban, “Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection.”

Equality is not only our founding principle, but also the core of the political and legal convictions of Americans across the political spectrum. Throughout our history, Americans, both famous and forgotten, have fought to ensure that we live up to our ideals.

Meanwhile down in Louisiana

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2014

Today Judge Martin Feldman (a Reagan appointee) was expected to rule on whether same-sex marriages conducted in other states should be recognized by the state of Louisiana. He did not. Rather, he said that he wanted to determine whether the state could ban same-sex marriages at all. (nola)

After hearing more than an hour of argument, only on the question of whether Louisiana must recognize same-sex marriages from other states, Feldman told attorneys and a packed courtroom he wants to address the pending legal questions in one ruling, rather than decide the disputes in a “piecemeal” fashion. That means attorneys must file more legal briefs with the court during the next month. Feldman might hear oral arguments.

Sue Collins endorses marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2014

sue collins
Senator Susan Collins (R – Maine) has announced that she supports marriage equality. (Bangor Daily News)

“A number of states, including my home state of Maine, have now legalized same-sex marriage, and I agree with that decision,” Collins said in response to a question from the BDN.

This shocks exactly no one. Collins has been a long-time ally of the community and was instrumental in overturning the ban on open service in the military.

She joins only three other GOP Senators in openly supporting marriage equality: Senators Rob Portman of Ohio, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. It is, nevertheless, an important addition and a step in the long road of changing the position of the Republican Party.

It will be interesting to see the response. I suspect the usual loons in the anti-gay special interest groups will whine, but I’m betting that no one in the party leadership is in anyway critical of Sen. Collins.

We are winning. Today was a good day.

Boulder Colorado starts issuing marriage licenses

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2014

Utah is not, of course, the only state impacted by the decisions of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Also in the Tenth Circuit are Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

And the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder, Hillary Hill, has decided that this decision gives her the authority to act. (Fox 31)

“Because 10th Circuit decisions are binding in the State of Colorado, the precedent established by Kitchen v. Herbert is applicable to the same-sex marriage ban contained in the Colorado Constitution,” said a statement from the Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

“Couples across Colorado have been waiting a long time to have their right to marry the person they love recognized,” said Hall in a statement. “I want to act immediately to let them carry out that wish.”

The decision of the Tenth Circuit was stayed, and likely the move by Hall will be halted. But it will be fascinating legal drama in the meanwhile.

The First Indiana Same-Sex Wedding

Jim Burroway

June 25th, 2014

1403718792000-006-gay[1]

From the Indianapolis Star:

Craig Bowen and Jake Miller were the first couple to get their marriage license and be married in Indianapolis.

The ruling left other county clerks trying to figure out how to respond. The Hamilton County clerk decided not to immediately issue licenses, while the clerk in Monroe County went ahead.

Hamilton County encompases Indianapolis’s northern suburbs, while Monroe County includes Bloomington and the University of Indiana.

Add Indiana to the list

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2014

KWQC

U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled Wednesday that the state’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause in a mixed ruling involving lawsuits from several gay couples.

Details are a bit sketchy so far, but the ruling is here.

Update: Here are the details.

Presbyterian Church (USA) votes to allow marriages

Timothy Kincaid

June 19th, 2014

With 2.8 million members, the Presbyterian Church (USA) is the eighth largest Protestant denomination in the United States. And as we reported yesterday, the denomination is meeting this week in Detroit, where its Marriage Committee passed recommendations that the denomination clarify their support for marriage equality. They have now done so.

Detroit News

The U.S. Presbyterian Church’s highest council Thursday voted to sanction same-sex marriage.

The assembly approved an amendment to the church constitution that would redefine marriage as between “two people” instead of “a man and a woman.” It also approved allowing its ministers to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriages are legal.

The amendment to the Book of Order will require ratification by the presbyteries. But, for all practical effect, same-sex marriages may now be officiated and blessed within Presbyterian churches.

A liveblog of the proceedings is provided by More Light Presbyterians.

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