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Posts for October, 2014

The Most Momentous Supreme Court Non-Decision Ever Made

Jim Burroway

October 6th, 2014

EqualityChart

With today’s Supreme Court non-decision, about 53% of all Americans now live in jurisdictions with marriage equality. That’s twenty-four states and the District of Columbia. Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Utah will open their clerk offices to same-sex couples as soon as the various Federal District Courts go through their formalities. Those formalities are already out of the way in Colorado, Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah. Things are happening so fast I wouldn’t be surprised if Indiana gets the go-ahead before I finish writing this post. Meanwhile, you can expect that Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming will follow suit any day now, since they too are now bound by the decisions already handed down in the in the 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit, and 10th Circuit Courts of Appeals.

The biggest wild card remains the Sixth Circuit, which heard oral arguments last August in a Michigan challenge to that state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That court also heard oral arguments from four other states — Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee — challenging those states’ bans on recognizing legal marriages from out of state. If the Sixth Circuit goes all contrarian and upholds any of those bans, then we could expect the issue to be dropped once again at the Supreme Court’s footsteps.

And to think that barely over a decade ago, our relationships were still criminalized in fourteen states.

Now, it’s possible that the three-judge panel in Cincinnati may rule against marriage equality. It’s also conceivable that a three-judge panel in the Fifth, Eighth and Eleventh Circuits could uphold a same-sex marriage ban in, say, Louisiana, for example.

But if one did, it seems much more likely that the entire circuit would step in for an en banc decision. But even if that didn’t happen, then sure, maybe an anti-equality decision could conceivably make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But by then, some two-thirds or more of all Americans are likely to be living in marriage equality states. Would the Supreme Court go back and overturn all of that? That now seems preposterous. Today’s non-decision is the new law of the land.

Bryan Fischer’s extra helping of stupid

Timothy Kincaid

October 3rd, 2014

Bryan Fischer, the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, is not the sort of person you want for a neighbor. Nor your garden variety bigot, Fischer specializes in spouting the most offensive thing he can think of about pretty much anything and anyone, but especially about gay people.

And most of what he says has no basis in reality. Nor does he care. Fischer doesn’t even try to tie his rants into facts or logic – that doesn’t get him the attention he craves.

I try not to oblige this man’s sad effort to be seen and heard. But today’s an exception. Today Bryan Fischer has tweeted something so absurdly ridiculous that it merits mention.


Followed by

He’s not the first to claim that HIV was not the cause of AIDS. We’ve heard from plenty of HIV denialists in our community. But that school of argument has pretty much died out.

Maybe Sen. John Cornyn Was Right After All

Jim Burroway

September 29th, 2014

Three Arrested In Philly Gay Bashing

Jim Burroway

September 24th, 2014
Philip R. Williams, Kathryn G. Knott, Kevin J. Harrigan.

Philip R. Williams, Kathryn G. Knott, Kevin J. Harrigan.

Three Philadelphia suspects turned themselves in after the Twitterverse solved a gay-bashing hate crime last week. Kevin Harrigan, 26, Philip Williams, 24, and Katherine Knott, 24, turned themselves in this morning after arrest warrants were issued yesterday. Knott, it turns out, is the daughter of a Chalfont, Bucks County Police Chief Karl Knott. News reports — and these captures from her Twitter feed — suggests she’s a real class act. Her employer at Abington Health’s Lansdale Hospital, where she worked as an emergency room tech, announced that she was suspended for allegedly violating a patients confidentiality by posting an X-ray on her Twitter account. Lawyers for the three however assert their innocence, claiming that it was one of the victims who threw the first punch.

The three face charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment. The victims, a 28-year-old man and a 27-year-old man whose names have not been released, were approached by what was described as “a visibly intoxicated” group of about a dozen people who, according to police, made disparaging remarks about their sexual orientation. One of the men suffered serious facial injuries, with an orbital fracture and his jaw wired shut. The rest of the group have not been charged in connection with the assault, and police say that the reason for that “will come out in court.” One of those who weren’t charged, Fran McGlinn, was resigned from his job as assistant basketball coach at Archbishop Wood High School.

None of the suspects will be charged with a hate crime because Pennsylvania’s hate crime law does not include sexual orientation. At a news conference in Harrisburg yesterday, several Democratic state lawmakers urged the passage of proposed legislation to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crimes statute. One of those lawmakers, Allegheny County Sen. Jim Ferlo, took that opportunity to come out in grand fashion: “I’m gay. Get over it. I love it. It’s a great life.”

The sweetest story

Timothy Kincaid

September 18th, 2014

There is nothing I don’t love about this story. (Des Moines Register)

For so long, their love was not public. But when the news broke about their Sept. 6 wedding, their story was spread across the Internet and social media. In one week, decades of silence ended. They had never before talked to anyone about their relationship.

“In all those 72 years, no one said anything about it, either negative or positive,” said Vivian, 91, sitting across the dining hall table from Nonie, 90, on Wednesday at a Davenport retirement community where they have lived since 1987.

Go read it.

Those Twitchy people sure are lovely, aren’t they?

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2014

Today I receive an odd Tweet directed at me.

That seemed a bit odd. I really had no idea what Mr. Jones was going on about. But then I got another tweet and this one gave me a clue:

It turns out that they were in response to a tweet I sent out last night while watching Dancing with the Stars.

As I said on another post, DWTS is developing the bad habit of casting the progeny or close family member of someone who has made a name for anti-gay activism. Maybe that’s getting the viewers they want, but I find it troubling.

Twitchy, Michelle Malkin’s right-wing social media activism site decided to write a piece using my tweet as their leaping off point. And boy did they leap.

haters gotta hate

After half a dozen tweets praising the Robertson child’s dancing, Twitchy picked back up with their indignation. And then they ran a bunch of comments from some mouthy teen – without mentioning that the first tweet and the string of abuse from the teen were not the same person. Not exactly admirable behavior.

And, fired up by the child’s immature insults, off went the twitchers is a deluge of abusive tweets. Towards me.

Now I’ve not encountered the Twitchy mob before. But I do have to say that from what I can tell they are a pretty disgusting bunch who lack even rudimentary reading comprehension skills. But maybe I’m biased.

Several just took the quick-and-easy personal insult ruite.

A few went with the gay insult – sadly they weren’t very clever

But that last fellow gets bonus points for using pink flowery wallpaper.

Some sought to give insights about hate

And quite a few assumed that they knew my party, ideology and faith and lectured me about tolerance

And the “real” definition of homophobia

But mostly they just demonstrated it for me

NOM exceeds its goal

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2014

TargetLogo
A month ago we told you about the ambitious efforts of the National Organization for Marriage to slap down mega-retailer Target over the company’s support for marriage equality. At the time, NOM had accomplished a significant portion of their lofty goal, getting 2,800 people to pledge to join a boycott on the store.

Now it appears that not only has NOM reached their goal of 2,800, but they’ve done so with such confidence that they’ve moved the goal-post. Now NOM, having achieved 2,856 signatories, is eagerly seeking 2,900!

I suppose a cynical person might be inclined to believe that the goal just automatically updates itself to the next 1,000 so as to let the next visitor to the site believe that their signature really matters. But, then again, a cynical person might also believe that NOM is a shell group that has no real grass roots, does nothing but attempt to get its name in media, and is nothing but a front for the nastier side of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But we’re not cynical here. No, we choose to believe that NOM is bravely marching forward to make tangible change at Target and that some day they just might have enough signatures to scare the retail giant. Maybe, just maybe, if they keep at it, Target’s response to NOM’s protest might not be to increase gay visibility in their marketing.

So buck up, Brian Brown. Maybe you’ll be relevant again in the US some day. And if not, you can always learn Russian.

Is Arizona Next?

Jim Burroway

September 16th, 2014

Last Friday, Federal District Court Judge John W. Sedwick issued a partial ruling which ordered the state to recognize a gay couple’s marriage after one of the partners died last summer. The state is now required to list the couple as having been married on the death certificate.

The case involves more than a dozen gay and lesbian couples seeking to overturn Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage, and a ruling on the larger issue hasn’t come down. But Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog thinks this early ruling tells us that Judge Sedwick is about to strike Arizona’s ban:

Judge Sedwick, who usually sits in Anchorage, Alaska, but is doing temporary duty to handle civil cases in Phoenix, cited a string of other federal court rulings striking down state prohibitions on same -sex marriage, and he commented on “the absence of any persuasive case law to the contrary.” He then added that the surviving partner in this case “is likely to prevail” in his challenge before the judge.

Because that claim is part of a broader case before the judge, involving one lawsuit filed in January and a separate case filed in March and proceeding jointly before him, his remarks were a strong indication that a 2008 state constitutional amendment and two state laws against same-sex marriage probably are going to be nullified.

A huge factor weighing against Arizona’s ban is that it is in the Ninth Circuit, which requires the more demanding “heightened scrutiny” test. Judge Sedwick has already denied the state’s claim that it doesn’t apply for this case in last week’s ruling.

Croatia gets first civil union

Timothy Kincaid

September 6th, 2014

Croatian coast

Last December, the populace of Croatia, a very Catholic nation, voted to limit marriage to opposite sex couples. But in July the legislature passed a bill creating civil unions, providing same sex couples with nearly all the same rights as marriage.

Now the first such civil union has been conducted. (rtl)

Le premier couple gay s’est uni en Croatie en vertu d’une loi adoptée à la mi-juillet qui aligne les droits des unions homosexuelles et hétérosexuelles, sauf en matière d’adoption des enfants, a annoncé un groupe de défense des droits des homosexuels.

“Ce soir, une page de l’histoire a été écrite à Zagreb (…) la première union civile a été conclue”, a annoncé tard vendredi 5 septembre le groupe de défense des droits des homosexuels Pride sur sa page Facebook. “Bonne chance et meilleurs voeux aux mariés”, a ajouté Pride sans fournir de précisions, à l’exception d’une photocopie partielle du document scellant l’union.

Google Translate:

The first gay couple is united in Croatia under a law passed in mid-July that aligns the rights of homosexual and heterosexual , except in the Adoption of Children, said a group of Advocacy homosexuals.

“Tonight, a page of history was written in Zagreb (…) the first civil union was completed,” announced late Friday, 5 September the advocacy group for gay rights Pride on his Facebook page . ” Good luck and best wishes to the married , “he added without elaborating Pride, with the exception of a partial photocopy of sealing the union.

Joan Rivers (1933-2014)

Jim Burroway

September 5th, 2014

Two years ago, she wrote for the Hollywood Reporter a great look back at her career, how tough it was being a lone woman comic in a man’s world, how Johnny Carson made her a star and broke her heart, and the importance of truth and authenticity in comedy. She also added this advice for other women comics:

Ignore aging: Comedy is the one place it doesn’t matter. It matters in singing because the voice goes. It matters certainly in acting because you’re no longer the sexpot. But in comedy, if you can tell a joke, they will gather around your deathbed. If you’re funny, you’re funny. Isn’t that wonderful?

It is. We will miss you.

That’s Entertainment!

Rob Tisinai

September 4th, 2014

Court decisions on marriage can be inspiring, lovely, even wry, but they’re rarely laugh-out-loud funny. The 7th Circuit’s decision on Indiana and Wisconsin is an exception.

In the bit I’m about to quote, the court takes on the “responsible procreation argument” that the other side so often puts forth — that the purpose of marriage is to encourage responsible procreation, and because only straight couples can accidentally procreate, only straight couples need the bond of marriage to keep them together and set up a home for the kids. Gay couples, who only have kids on purpose, don’t need any such prodding.

Yes,  the argument is that ridiculous, but the 7th Circuit demolishes it thus:

Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure.

I see no way of improving on that.

NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade to include gay group

Timothy Kincaid

September 3rd, 2014

St Pats day
Since 1762, New York’s Irish Catholics have celebrated their culture with a parade on Saint Patrick’s Day. And for decades the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the group that operates and organizes the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, has parade organizers have prohibited groups from participating in any manner that identified them specifically as gay.

This has become increasingly a political challenge to the point where many of the city’s politicians saw the parade as a liability rather than an opportunity to greet constituents. And sponsors, most significantly Guinness, have begun to pull away from the event fearing to alienate customers offended by the exclusionary policy.

Now the parade committee has decided to change that policy: (AP)

OUT@NBCUniversal– a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender affinity group at 30 Rock — will be flying its banner and marching up Fifth Avenue on March 17, officials said.

That’ll be the only gay group marching in the 2015 version of the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade but other LBGT groups can apply in future years, spokesman Bill O’Reilly said.

The organizing committee said this move was made in order to “change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics.”

This is a cautious choice. It’s not a specifically Irish group nor Catholic identified. Rather, it’s a group sponsored by the network that covers the event and, with support for the change coming from Cardinal Dolan, is unlikely to find much opposition.

UPDATE: looks like I missed that change in operations back in 1994. Officially the AOH turned over operations to a committee.

LA Times calls for marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

September 2nd, 2014

The editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times penned an editorial calling on the Supreme Court to rule marriage bans unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court often will allow a constitutional issue to percolate for some time and step in only when federal appeals courts disagree. So far that hasn’t happened with the issue of same-sex marriage, but the justices should move quickly anyway. The legal issues have been amply developed and debated. It’s now time for the nation’s highest court to rule unambiguously that gay couples are equal under the law.

Chilean sailor comes out

Timothy Kincaid

August 28th, 2014

This tidbit from the Manila Bulletin:

A sailor with Chile’s navy on Wednesday announced he is gay, an unprecedented public declaration in this socially conservative South American nation. At a press conference Wednesday, 24-year-old sailor Mauricio Ruiz told reporters he hoped the public disclosure about his sexuality will help dispel myths that gays can’t be effective members of Chile’s armed forces. Chile has traditionally been a tough place for homosexuals, although the country decriminalized gay sex in 1999 and attitudes toward gays are evolving. The killing of a gay man in Chile 2012 set off a national debate that prompted Congress to pass a hate crimes law.

Tempe Voters Approve Charter Change Banning LGBT Discrimination

Jim Burroway

August 27th, 2014

A number of cities in Arizona have anti-discrimination ordinances to protect LGB and sometimes T’s from discrimination in hiring, housing and public accomodations. But the only ways to ban discrimination in city hiring would be for the state legislature to do it (fat chance!) or for a city to amend its charter, a process that typically requires voter approval. During yesterday’s primary, Tempe voters were the first in the state to approve such a charter change. According to unofficial results, they did so overwhelmingly with 69% support.

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