Clarence Thomas’s Dissent Is Worse Than Scalia’s
June 26th, 2015
In his own quieter way, Justice Clarence Thomas out-scaliad Scalia. Thomas argued that gay couples didn’t have it so bad:
(p9): Whether we define “liberty” as locomotion or freedom from governmental action more broadly, petitioners have in no way been deprived of it.
Petitioners cannot claim, under the most plausible definition of “liberty,” that they have been imprisoned or physically restrained by the States for participating in same-sex relationships. To the contrary, they have beenable to cohabitate and raise their children in peace. They have been able to hold civil marriage ceremonies in States that recognize same-sex marriages and private religiousceremonies in all States. They have been able to travel freely around the country, making their homes where they please. Far from being incarcerated or physically restrained, petitioners have been left alone to order their lives as they see fit.
And even if they had been incarcerated, so what?
(p17): The corollary of that principle (of human dignity) is that human dignitycannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved.Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignitybecause the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignitybecause the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.
He also predicts “ruinous consequences for religious liberty”:
(p14): Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect.
(p16): Although our Constitution provides some protection against such governmental restrictions on religious practices, the People have long elected to afford broader protections than this Court’s constitutional precedents mandate. Had the majority allowed the definition of marriageto be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.
Guerrero legalizes same-sex marriage
June 25th, 2015
The state of Guerrero (Acapulco) in Mexico has announced that it will no longer enforce its ban on same-sex marriages.
In real terms, this means that Guerrero will not enforce the ampero process which requires the first five couples in a state to hire a lawyer, go to court, and get official permission to marry.
No Marriage Decision Today
June 25th, 2015
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, won today, as did all of us who depend on it for our health care. The remaining decision days for the marriage case are tomorrow and Monday.
NSW parliament calls for free vote on marriage in Australia
June 24th, 2015
The Parliament in New South Wales is controlled by the same coalition of political parties as the nation’s Parliament, the Liberal Party and the National Party of Australia. It has just voted to encourage the federal Parliament to have “a respectful debate that is tolerant of all views”, or in other words, to allow a free vote.
The vote was unanimous and was supported by Premier Mike Baird. (Sydney Morning Herald)
[Independent Sydney MP Alex ] Greenwich called on the federal government to “stop delaying the inevitable”.
“The Liberal Party claims to be the party of “individual freedom” and a free vote should be its default position on this issue,” he said.
This move increases the pressure on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow a free vote on the issue.
And it undoubtedly pisses off Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher. I wonder if more letters are forthcoming.
Sydney Catholic diocese writes businesses about marriage
June 24th, 2015
A number of Australian and global businesses have been putting pressure on the Australian government to support marriage equality. Representing some of the biggest players in the Australian economy, they have been jointly running advertisements in papers announcing their support and asking other businesses to join them.
This obviously concerns the Catholic Church, which opposes equality. But its response is baffling. (ABC)
The Catholic Church in Sydney is sending letters to companies that publicly support same-sex marriage, expressing its “grave concern” about their stance.
The Archdiocese of Sydney has targeted some of the 150 businesses that put their names and logos to recent newspaper advertisements supporting gay marriage.
While it’s a bit odd that they write the letters at all, it’s the language and tone that are perplexing.
“It is… with grave concern that I write to you about the Marriage Equality for Australians campaign,” it reads.
“You are publically supporting a strategic, political and well-funded campaign designed to pressure the Federal Government into changing the Marriage Act.
“For corporations to speak on such issues… is indeed overstepping their purpose and it is to be strongly resisted.”
I can’t imagine that anyone opening a letter from the Catholic Church informing them that they are “overstepping their purpose” is going to receive that news without objection. And after the Church has been yowling about marriage for months, to tell someone else that they should not express an opinion reveals a level of arrogance that is astounding.
The Church then includes a not-so-subtle threat
“You may be aware that the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is a significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international,” it reads.
Needless to say, the company providing ABC with the story was not amused. Nor were they inclined to back away from their support.
Maurice Blackburn principal Liberty Sanger said she was not sure what the intention of the letter was, but either way the law firm would not be intimidated.
“Now it may well be that their intention was to try and frighten us into not participating in the debate,” she said.
“If that was the objective, well it’s had… obviously had the opposite effect.
This heavy-handed tone deaf missive might have been effecting in the 1500’s. But I very much suspect that it has only earned ill will from the businesses in Australia, along with the Australian people.
Franklin Graham clarifies his bank move
June 12th, 2015
Franklin Graham is in the process of moving the accounts of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association from Wells Fargo Bank to BB&T Bank. He cited Wells Fargo’s commercial showing a lesbian couple learning sign language so as to adopt a little deaf girl.
Several parties have noted that BB&T also is pro-gay and has sponsored some gay pride events. But as I said then,
But sponsoring a pride entry is not the same as running an inclusive commercial on Franklin Graham’s television set. And this makes me curious as to whether BB&T has made assurances to Graham that they will keep their pro-gay visibility solely to gay venues.
BB&T clarified that while they did do sponsorship within the community so as to increase business from gay customers, this should not be interpreted as being supportive of the goals of the gay community. Nor do they advocate in their advertising for “social issues”, such as the existence of same-sex couples who might want to adopt a deaf girl.
Franklin Graham has now further clarified the reason that Wells Fargo is unacceptable, but BB&T is okay. (USAToday)
It is true that a local BB&T branch in the Miami area hosted a fundraiser for a program called Legacy Couples, which recognizes same-sex couples who have been in committed relationships for 10 years or more, but the bank did not promote this program through a national advertising campaign (or we would still be looking for another bank).
I think there is a difference between being friendly and being a public advocate. By staying at Wells Fargo, we would not only be associating with the promotion of a lifestyle we believe to be wrong, we also would actually be helping to pay for the advertisements by virtue of banking with them — because a bank has no money to advertise with other than the money its customers place in its trust and the interest earned on that money. We simply chose not to continue doing business with a bank that is promoting something that violates our conscience and beliefs.
Graham does not state whether BB&T has given him assurances that none of their national advertising will include same-sex couples. But it certainly seems likely.
I’ve not heard back from BB&T as to whether they have made any assurances to Graham.
This ad is going to give Franklin Graham a headache
June 12th, 2015
Last week Franklin Graham, the President of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, announced that he’s moving the group’s accounts from Wells Fargo to BB&T Bank because Wells ran a commercial featuring a lesbian couple adopting a little deaf girl.
Well he’s really not going to like this ad from Tylenol.
See that middle finger that Corporate America is waving in your face, Franklin? Get used to it.
Florida removes gay adoption ban from its books
June 12th, 2015
While Michigan is taking steps which will make it more difficult for same-sex couples to adopt, Florida is removing a piece of obsolete law that restricted gay adoption. (tbo.com)
The nearly four-decade-old law that prevents gays from adopting children will disappear from Florida’s statutes on July 1.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill today that removes the language – though the ban hasn’t been enforced for the past five years.
Michigan allows religious adoption agencies to turn away couples of which they disapprove
June 12th, 2015
The state of Michigan has approved three bills that will authorize religious-based adoption agencies to turn away certain applicants.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday quickly signed controversial legislation allowing adoption agencies that contract with the state to decline service to prospective parents on religious grounds.
The laws impact about 17 of the state’s 62 adoption agencies and requires that all religious agencies keep referral lists so that they can send prospective couples to alternate facilities. The Governor’s rationale for signing the bills is that without the protection, some of the agencies would close and that this would result in fewer children being placed in homes.
I don’t object to adoption agencies that target their placement. If a Catholic woman wants to be certain that her son is raised respecting the beliefs and traditions of her faith, I have no problem with her going to a Catholic adoption agency that will place the child with a Catholic family.
But don’t ask me to pay for it. It stops being “charity” when you get paid to do it.
Funding religious service providers has always been a tricky proposition. But for as long as they did not discriminate in the services they provide, the state could not exclude certain providers just because they were religious.
But these bills change the ground rules. These specifically say that contractors CAN discriminate, using taxpayer funds, so long as it’s based on a religious reason. And that is an unjustifiable position for a state. If a state contractor cannot provide services to all citizens on an equal and fair basis, then it’s time to go be a charity again.
I think that the legislators and Governor in Michigan will regret this decision. While it is intended to protect religious adoption agencies from placing children with gay couples, laws tend to never stay in the box for which they were intended. Unable to just come out and say “you can refuse gay people”, the legislature used the vaguer concept of ‘religious objection’ and that is a notion that is very broad.
Of course Catholics won’t place children with gay couples. That’s a violation of their beliefs. But can they, in good conscience, place children with Satanists? I mean, c’mon, Satanists?
And then there’s Wiccans. And Pagans. Surely a Christian organization doesn’t have to place children in the homes of people who worship demon spirits in trees and lakes.
And certainly we don’t want to place Christian children with Jews, where they won’t be taught Jesus or go to heaven. Or Hindus; they’re idol worshipers. Or Muslim – definitely not Muslims. Or the crazy Pentecostals.
And, of course, atheists. Or those who are irreligious. A child needs a good moral structure.
And the list goes on. And on. All with good religious reasons.
All on the state’s dollar.
And that’s a nightmare.
Marriage equality comes to Chihuahua
June 11th, 2015
Although Chihuahua is perhaps known most for a tiny dog, it is actually Mexico’s biggest state – roughly the size of Michigan – placed alongside New Mexico and Texas. It is also the latest Mexican state to lift all restrictions to same-sex marriage. (proceso badly translated by google)
The government of Cesar Duarte Jaquez decided not to put more obstacles to marriages between same sex and from now on married couples who request them.
Chihuahua joins Quintana Roo (Cancun) and Coahuila (the state to Chihuahua’s east also bordering Texas) as states in which marriages are now immediately available. In the remainder of Mexico, couples may still need to go to court to get an amparo (civil rights ruling), but the outcome of the ruling is assured to be positive.
And you won’t do what, exactly?
June 11th, 2015
Lately I’ve been hearing a lot from the anti-gay activist world about how they are revolting, rebelling, standing up, and refusing to comply with the anticipated determination of the US Supreme Court that states must give their gay citizens the same rights as heterosexuals. And today the usual carnival of loons ran a full page ad in the Washington Post pleading with SCOTUS to not force them to choose between the state and the Laws of God.
Most of the expected names are there: Phil Burress, Elaine Donnelly, the Wildmons, the Benham brothers, Franklin Graham, Mat Staver, Alan Keyes, Harry Jackson, Jim Garlow. (It was amusing, however, to note that some names like Linda Harvey and Matt Barber didn’t make the cut.)
Together they warn the Court that “we will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.” They “pledge obedience to our Creator” and affirm their definition of marriage.
They whine and wail and throw words about, but they fail to do one thing: tell anyone exactly what it is that they won’t do.
Will they refuse to recognize the validity of our marriages?
That’s fine with me. They can refuse to recognize Ronald Reagan’s marriage to Nancy because he was divorced. Or refuse to recognize Maggie Gallagher’s marriage to Raman Srivastav because they are ‘unequally joined together’ due to different faiths. Perhaps they can even find former Texas Senator Phil Graham’s marriage invalid because his wife is of a different race.
I really don’t care what marriages they believe to be illegitimate. And no one’s standing in their way; they can believe whatever they like.
Will they refuse to officiate at my wedding?
Okie-dokie. The First Amendment protects their right to conduct their sacraments as they choose, and nothing SCOTUS says this month will impact that in the slightest.
Or will they refuse to bake me a cake?
While some here may disagree, I don’t really care if Elaine Donnelly stands in her doorway screaming, “No cake for you!!” I prefer my cakes baked with love and sweetness, not anger and bitterness. Besides, in most of the states that this collection of harpies come from there are no non-discrimination provisions that protect LGBT people. They can refuse cake, flowers, pizza, or any other trappings that they wish and the only thing hurt is their bottom line.
I’ve got to say that I’m used to vague empty rhetoric is the political sphere; but this word salad lacks all meaning whatsoever. Someone please tell me how they are being forced to “choose”? And they are going to refuse to do what, exactly?
NC House overrides veto on magistrate protection bill
June 11th, 2015
In May the North Carolina legislature passed Senate Bill 2, a bill designed to allow individual Magistrates to give up conducting marriages and to allow assistant Registrars to give up issuing marriage licenses. Republican Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the bill, saying that public officials who swear to perform the duties of their office should not be exempt from doing so.
On June 2nd, the state Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto and today the House did the same. So the bill becomes law.
Here’s what it does:
- The Register of Deeds in a county cannot refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That is an integral part of their duties and they have to fulfill their obligations.
- Assistant Registers of Deeds can, however, give up issuing marriage licenses altogether as part of their tasks. But they cannot pick and choose; It’s either all legal marriage licenses or none.
- Magistrates can give up conducting marriage licenses altogether. But they cannot pick and choose; It’s either all legal marriage ceremonies or none.
- If all magistrates in a jurisdiction refuse to conduct civil marriages, a magistrate will be assigned by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Until that magistrate is assigned, the Chief District Court Judge (or his assignee) will be deemed a magistrate to conduct civil marriages. There is no down time.
- Marriages before a magistrate must be available a minimum of ten hours per week and over at least three days per week. This appears to be a new requirement.
While this is seen as an affront to our community, it is not clear that it will have much real impact on same-sex couples seeking marriage. The provisions require that licenses be issued and marriages be conducted and it probably matters little whether any specific Magistrates or Assistant Register of Deeds individually participate.
And it should be noted that the state has been issuing marriage licenses and conducting marriages since October 2014, and things appear to be going smoothly. I suspect that the offices of the various Registers of Deeds and Magistrates have by now pretty much identified ways to comply with the law without any serious loss of religious freedom or significant inconvenience to marrying parties. I doubt much will change.
Tony Campolo endorses marriage equality
June 10th, 2015
Tony Campolo is a speaker and author and is highly influential in the side of evangelical Christianity that prioritizes social justice and charity. He has long been supportive of gay people, but his position on marriage was that the government should honor only civil unions for all and let churches decide for whom to conduct marriages. And he has been, for some time, a bit ambiguous about what he believes the church should do.
It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.
For me, the most important part of that process was answering a more fundamental question: What is the point of marriage in the first place? For some Christians, in a tradition that traces back to St. Augustine, the sole purpose of marriage is procreation, which obviously negates the legitimacy of same-sex unions. Others of us, however, recognize a more spiritual dimension of marriage, which is of supreme importance. We believe that God intends married partners to help actualize in each other the “fruits of the spirit,” which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, often citing the Apostle Paul’s comparison of marriage to Christ’s sanctifying relationship with the Church. This doesn’t mean that unmarried people cannot achieve the highest levels of spiritual actualization – our Savior himself was single, after all – but only that the institution of marriage should always be primarily about spiritual growth.
This casts the role of same-sex marriage not as acceptable, but as a spiritual good, a blessing to the couple and the church. He cites his experiences with gay Christian couple, and watching how they function, as influential to his change of thinking.
This is no inconsequential endorsement.
Greece, Italy, and Cyprus move towards civil unions
June 10th, 2015
Three Southern European countries are taking steps closer to civil unions.
Today Italy‘s lower house has passed a motion supporting civil unions. (ansa.it)
The motion commits the government “to promote the adoption of a law on civil unions, particularly with regard to the condition of the people of same sex”.
It also commits the government “to ensure equal treatment throughout the nation” of civil unions. Premier Matteo Renzi and Justice Minister Andrea Orlando have both said recently that Italy needs a civil unions law.
The motion was approved with 204 votes in favor, 83 against and 98 abstentions.
While this would, no doubt, have infuriated previous Pope Benedict the Malevolent, when Argentina was considering implementing marriage equality, Pope Francis (who was Archbishop of Buenos Aires at the time) proposed civil unions as a compromise. So Vatican opposition may be less fierce than it would have been a few years back.
In April, the government of Cyprus drafted a civil unions bill and sent it to Parliament. (Gay Star News)
The Cypriot Cabinet Wednesday (6 April) approved a long-awaited civil partnership bill that would allow gay couples to register their relationships and grant them all marriage rights except joint adoption.
The legislation will now be sent to parliament, where it will be discussed and put to a vote.
The bill is considered likely to pass.
Also today, the Greek government announced a bill to enact civil unions. (PappasPost)
Greece’s Ministry of Justice announced today it plans to introduce legislation— for the first time in Greek history— giving Civil Union rights to same sex couples. The bill, which will be part of broader legislation introduced, includes rights on insurance, taxation, inheritance and other privileges afforded to other Greek citizens.
The bill is expected to pass Parliament in Early July.
McKinney school district defends “Gay O.K.” t-shirts
June 9th, 2015
Last week we told you of school administrators at Faubian Middle School in McKinney, Texas who disciplined some students wearing “Gay O.K.” t-shirts and then blamed them for the resulting fracas. Now district officials have defended the girls’ right to stand up for fellow gay students. (Buzzfeed)
“We told the campus administration that they should not have asked the students to take off the shirts, or change shirts,” Cody Cunningham, the chief spokesman for McKinney Independent School District, told BuzzFeed News. “We told them that students have every right to wear the shirts.”
Also coming out are further details about the events leading up to the display of support.
The problem began in May, Heiman said, when a seventh grade girl came out as bisexual and a group of boys began harassing her.
“They kept saying rude things to her in the hallways. They would call her ‘dyke’ or ‘fag,’” Heiman said. Even after some of the girls asked the boys to stop, one boy persisted, she added.
When a friend approached the boy in the cafeteria at lunch and asked him to stop, the two took their disagreement to a vice principal, Robert Waite. Heiman said she watched the exchange, in which Waite did not take any action against the boy, but instead mocked the girl to another school staffer, reportedly saying, “This girl’s in charge of school bullying.”
Heiman said Waite made the girl who reported the bullying sit down.
The administrators at Faubian did not inform the district that there had been any bullying at the school. Now an investigation has been initiated.