Welcome Out, Tim Cook
October 30th, 2014
The fact that he’s gay is probably one of the worst kept secrets — if, indeed, it ever was a secret. The Apple CEO has rarely spoken about anything other than Apple. Unlike his predecessor, Steve Jobs, whose persona and that of Apple’s was one and the same, Tim Cook has always been one to stand back and keep the focus on Apple and its products. That probably won’t change a whole lot, but this morning, in an essay for Businessweek, Cook removed whatever wisps of ambiguity that may still be out there:
While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.
The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.
I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.
Earlier this week, Cook was in his home state of Alabama where he was being inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor. In his acceptance speech, he challenged Alabama for its slowness to grant equality to everyone: “As a state, we took too long to steps toward equality. We were too slow on equality for African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage, and we are still too slow for the equality for the LGBT community.”
Arizona edges closer to equality
October 16th, 2014
Today was the deadline for parties to submit their briefs arguing whether or not the Ninth’s Circuit’s ruling on marriage equality applies to the state of Arizona. Attorney General Tom Horne seems to concede that it does. (AZCentral)
The state’s brief argument concedes that the 9th Circuit ruling would apply to Arizona, but says Sedwick should wait to issue his ruling until the 9th Circuit issues a mandate. The mandate is essentially a technical document telling the courts to go forward with the opinion. The 9th Circuit issued a mandate within hours of its original ruling but withdrew it so Idaho could appeal. That appeal is concluded but the 9th Circuit has not yet reissued the mandate.
Plan your Brokeback marriage
October 16th, 2014
Wyoming, home of the fictional Brokeback Mountain, may get marriage equality as early as Monday. (Casper Star Tribune)
Acknowledging his order could have grave consequences if incorrect, U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl plans to issue an order by Monday in a case that could legalize same-sex marriage in Wyoming.
The judge said he would consider the arguments and examine a few more issues before making a decision because “the impact of this court’s ruling if incorrect” could have grave consequences. Skavdahl said he would issue his ruling by 5 p.m. Monday.
Alaska gets two day stay
October 15th, 2014
The State of Alaska asked for a stay to its marriage ruling. And by astonishing odds, two of the Ninth Circuit’s most conservative judges, Diarmuid O’Scannlain and Jay Bybee, were on the three judge panel deciding the matter. O’Scannlain and Bybee were two of the three judges who would have given Proposition 8 an en banc hearing.
However, things were different this time around.
Bybee sided with judge Marsha Berzon in denying stay at the Ninth Circuit level and in issuing a temporary two day stay for the state to appeal to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting a more permanent stay.
Which means that marriages will not begin first thing tomorrow in The Last Frontier, but rather at noon on Friday.
North Carolina high school bans play because Teh Ghey
October 15th, 2014
You’ve never been to Maiden, North Carolina, but your selfies probably have. It’s the home of Apple’s Cloud data center.
It’s also home of some pretty nasty prejudice. (GayStarNews)
The school’s principal, Rob Bliss, has released a statement surrounding the outrage.
He said: ‘In regards to the request for students to perform the play “Almost Maine,” careful review and consideration was given to the contents of this play.
‘The play contained sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.
‘As principal of Maiden High School, I have an obligation to ensure that all material, including drama performances is appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages.’
And, by “appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages”, Bliss means “ain’t got none of Teh Gheys!!”
Almost, Maine is a play containing nine vignettes about love and loss. And yes, stories about love and loss can have “overtones” and “innuendos” that reference sex. Read Shakespeare.
But Almost, Maine is no worse than prime time television and downright tame compared to pretty much any music video. And that isn’t, of course, what got Principal Bliss all in a tither. The play’s real crime is that one of the nine vignettes includes two men who say they love each other.
And while Almost, Maine is sufficiently age appropriate that in 2010, it was “the most-produced play in North American high schools“, it’s just too scandalous for places where attitudes like those of Principal Bliss prevail.
The drama students are hoping that a petition can pressure Principal Bliss into allowing them to perform the play and, consequently, their program to survive.
Ron Hart on marriage
October 14th, 2014
I seldom read something on Christian Post and do anything but shudder. Today I chuckled:
Neither government nor citizens should waste time and energy trying to keep two loving, consenting, committed people from a public acknowledgment of their union. If we were to have a law against allowing a subset of our country to marry, it should be directed squarely at the Kardashians.
Is a couple of lady gym teachers with three cats and a joint checking account really a threat? Are two guys living in a once-blighted neighborhood that becomes gentrified with fixed-up homes and where, before you know it, bistros and bakeries pop up, a problem? How is that damaging to America? Who else is going to adopt twin Chinese girls? Madonna and Angelina Jolie can’t take them all.
Marriage at the top of the world
October 14th, 2014
But perhaps more interesting is where this happened, the town of Barrow.
Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States, lying above the Arctic Circle and just 1,300 south of the North Pole. The population is less than 5,000.
Updated marriage map
October 13th, 2014
Dark Purple – marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples
Light Purple – states in circuits which have ruled for marriage equality
Pink – recognizes legal marriages conducted elsewhere
It is now possible to drive from Chicago to LA without ever becoming “not married” along the way.
October 13th, 2014
With Idaho, North Carolina and Alaska now liberated from anti-gay marriage laws, we have now crossed the 60% mark in the American population living in the thirty states and the District of Columbia with full marriage equality. If we were the Senate, we could break a filibuster.
Vladimir Putin Can See Gay Marriages From His House
October 12th, 2014
The Land of Sarah Palin is now in the marriage equality column. In a surprise summary judgment — the surprise being that it came out on Sunday afternoon local time after having heard oral arguments Friday afternoon –Federal District Judge Timothy Burgess found (PDF: 206KB/25 pages) ” that Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same sex marriages lawfully entered in other states is unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
The ruling comes less than a week after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Alaska’s Federal Courts, overturned bans in Idaho and Nevada. The ruling takes effect immediately, and there was no stay issued with it. Nonetheless, Gov. Sean Parnell quickly announced that he would try to appeal the decision.
Alaska has a three day waiting period. While couples should be able to get marriage licenses on Monday, marriages may not take place before Thursday.
Did SCOTUS just bless heightened scrutiny?
October 10th, 2014
When Idaho presented its brief explaining why the Ninth Circuit’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, it focused on one point. Rather than argue the same tired arguments that have lost across the country and which were insufficient to merit certiorari in the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits, Idaho argued that it was the reasoning used in the Ninth, rather than it’s conclusion, which should be reconsidered.
On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit included in its ruling:
Without the benefit of our decision in SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Labs., 740 F.3d 471 (9th Cir. 2014), reh’g en banc denied, 759 F.3d 990 (9th Cir. 2014), the Sevcik district court applied rational basis review and upheld Nevada’s laws. Sevcik v. Sandoval, 911 F. Supp. 2d 996 (D. Nev. 2012). After we decided SmithKline, the Latta district court concluded that heightened scrutiny applied to Idaho’s laws because they discriminated based on sexual orientation, and invalidated them. Latta v. Otter, No. 1:13-CV-00482-CWD, 2014 WL 1909999, at *14–18 (D. Idaho May 13, 2014). We hold that the Idaho and Nevada laws at issue violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny lesbians and gays who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex, and do not satisfy the heightened scrutiny standard we adopted in SmithKline.
When the Ninth Circuit decided SmithKline, Abbott Labs chose not to appeal the ruling, specifically because it was their wish to leave the section on heightened scrutiny as precedent and not subject it to potential loss at the Supreme Court. So this assertion by the Ninth has not been considered by the higher court.
Which brings the denial of extended stay by the Supreme Court into a different light. It may be that SCOTUS did not predict any likelihood of Idaho’s ban being upheld irrespective of the degree of scrutiny. Or it may mean that SCOTUS sees no likelihood of the Ninth’s application of heightened scrutiny being reversed.
Meanwhile in Arizona
October 10th, 2014
U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick issued an order Thursday night stating he believes this week’s appellate court ruling that declared Idaho and Nevada’s marriage restrictions unconstitutional applies to Arizona as well. The U.S District Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said Tuesday that Idaho and Nevada’s marriage restrictions violated couples’ rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
Sedwick, an Alaska judge who often helps pick up Arizona cases, gave the parties in two lawsuits challenging Arizona’s law until Thursday to file briefs arguing how the 9th Circuit decision does or does not apply.
North Carolina GOP petitions to intervene
October 9th, 2014
The Republican majority in the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives have filed a brief arguing that the ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which was denied certiorari by the Supreme Court, does not apply to their state. Because those crazy liberals in Virginia made concessions in court that the Republicans in the North Carolina legislature would never make, therefor their ban on same-sex marriage – unlike everyone else’s – should be upheld.
They are being represented by John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, who ran Attorney General in the Republican primary, winning 34%. Eastman is not exactly the most persuasive of legal minds and his involvement is likely to be an advantage to marriage equality proponents. You may recall him from his unbroken string of colossal losses in NOM’s battle to defy state political donor laws.
Should the judge write a big giant F in red ink across the face of their brief, they alternately want to be granted the right to appeal any ruling for marriage to the Fourth Circuit (who already ruled for equality), to the court en banc (good luck with that) and to the Supreme Court (which has already denied cert from this circuit).
October 9th, 2014
Just for some perspective:
When the National Organization for Marriage was formed to oppose marriage equality in 2007, only
two one state, Massachusetts and Connecticut, offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Today, seven years later, 27 states along with the nation’s capital offer marriage equality.
NOM was helpful in passing four state-based constitutional bans on same-sex marriages:
* California – has marriage equality
* Arizona – is in the Ninth Circuit and should have equality shortly
* Florida – ban has been found unconstitutional and is on appeal in the Eleventh Circuit
* North Carolina – is expected to issue marriage licenses quite soon
Estonia recognizes same-sex couples
October 9th, 2014
Estonia is the northernmost of the Baltic states with about the same population and half the land mass as Maine. Bordered by Latvia and Russia (it’s a former soviet country), it does not have a strong history of support for its gay and lesbian residents.
However, Estonia appears to be taking steps towards Western Europe and away from Russia and her satellites. (ABC)
In Estonia, lawmakers voted 40-38 vote to approve a partnership act that recognizes the civil unions of all couples regardless of gender. Twenty-three lawmakers were absent or abstained in the third and final reading of the bill.
The new law will gives those in civil unions — heterosexual or gay — almost the same rights as married couples, including financial, social and health benefits provided by the government and legal protection for children. It does not give adoption rights for couples in such unions but does allow one partner to adopt the biological child of the other.
It comes into force in January 2016, after it has been signed by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves who supported the bill.
This is likely disappointing to Scott Lively who made Estonia, along with Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Belarus, a target for his exportation of anti-gay activism.