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Posts for June, 2015

Michigan allows religious adoption agencies to turn away couples of which they disapprove

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

June 11th, 2015

chihuahua

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?

Timothy Kincaid

June 11th, 2015

wapo rant ad

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

June 10th, 2015

campolo

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.

This week he revised his position.

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Will Franklin Graham’s new bank hide gay support? UPDATED

Timothy Kincaid

June 9th, 2015

bb&T

Yesterday, Franklin Graham announced that he was switching the accounts of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and the charity Samaritan’s Purse away from Wells Fargo because they “promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards”.

It would be hard to find a bank with a longer and stronger commitment to the LGBT community than Wells Fargo. They were there early and they’ve weathered boycotts and attacks during the years in which the right wing actually had some remaining moral authority. And they have made a concerted effort to make certain that gay people are not just a target market, but part of the broader Wells Fargo family.

Currently Wells Fargo is running a television ad by the bank in which a same-sex couple learns sign language in order to tell a deaf girl that they would be her new mommies. And this ad is not just on gay websites, but in the regular rotation of their media visibility.


It is to this broader visibility that Franklin Graham objects.

Graham has made clear that he does not object to businesses that serve gays and lesbians. (Charlotte Observer)

“There’s lots of businesses out there that do business with gay people,” he said. “That’s fine.”

But he doesn’t want to see same-sex couples on his television. He doesn’t want it “shoved down his throat”.

So it is with interest that we learn the identity of the new bank providing services to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Samaritan’s Purse. It turns out to be a North Carolina native, BB&T Bank.

At first glace, it would appear that BB&T also “promotes sin and stands against Almighty God’s laws and His standards”. They do have a history of support for community events.

Several websites are declaring that BB&T is “the sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride”. That does not appear to be strictly correct.

They do, however, have an entry in the parade and are “Platinum Sponsors” of the event, the fourth tier of support and likely a significant contribution. BB&T also hosted an event at one of their Miami Beach branches in February which honored long-term same-sex couples. (Herald)

BB&T Bank, in partnership with Miami Beach Gay Pride, will host a fundraising reception to honor the popular “Legacy Couples” program established during the first Miami Beach Gay Pride in 2009 and held every year since. Legacy Couples are featured guests of the Miami Beach Gay Pride parade and are celebrated for their committed relationships of 10 years or longer. Special guests at the event will be Frank Petrole and Marc Rudick, together for 55 years, and Mary Maguire and Jackie Emmett, together for 53 years.

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.

I have emailed the company to inquire as to whether they made these or any other assurances to Graham.

* – Have there been any assurances provided to Franklin Graham, either in relation to your advertising or any other matters?

* – Does your general (not targeted) advertising strategy include using same-sex couples in the future?

I recognize the value of targeted advertising and appreciate BB&T’s support.

When Wells Fargo began their support for the community, it was narrowly targeted. They did not run gay inclusive advertising in general media. In the 80’s supportive companies didn’t even show gay people in the ads they ran in gay publications.

But while narrowly targeted advertising has its place, it’s no longer the 80’s. And that a bank has joined the long long list of companies that want our business is great, but it’s not enough.

If BB&T has promised Franklin Graham that gay people will remain invisible outside of gay venues, that would concern me. Should that prove to be true, perhaps our community and those who support us can reconsider their banking options. Wells Fargo is but one of many many financial institutions which are happy to include gay people as part of the broad and diverse fabric of everyday life.

UPDATE:

In a Charlotte Observer article, BB&T clarified their position on the highly controversial issue of including gay people in advertising just as if they were socially acceptable and equal to everyone else.

BB&T spokeswoman Cynthia Williams said in a statement to the Observer that the bank “has a strong history” of sponsoring community events to help the lender reach prospects and clients. “This does not imply endorsement of these organization’s positions on any or all political or social issues,” she said.

“Our mission is to help our clients achieve economic success and financial security regardless of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. … BB&T embraces diversity and inclusion for our associates and in all aspects of our business. However, we do not take formal positions on non-banking or social issues.”

Translation: we’re happy to have gay customers and will sponsor their little events, but don’t expect us to approve of the filthy homosexuals. And we most certainly will not be showing any nasty gay couples in our advertising. That would be promoting sin and standing against Almighty God’s laws and His standards.

I’m not calling for a boycott. But, for me personally, if I lived in North Carolina there is no way whatsoever that I would bank with BB&T.

Congrats Guamanians

Timothy Kincaid

June 8th, 2015

fireworks guam

It’s now 8:00 am on Tuesday morning in Guam and marriage licenses are now available to same-sex couples.

Congratulations to Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero and all the other same-sex couples who now have access to equality.

Texas Governor does not call special session

Timothy Kincaid

June 8th, 2015

Texas Governor Greg Abbott will tell you that be absolutely supports traditional marriage and wants to protect that treasured definition. And so will every GOP legislator in that state.

But somehow the legislature managed to end the legislative session without passing any bills that would in any way hinder marriage equality coming to Texas after the Supreme Court rules later this month. And Abbott has now responded to demands that he call a special session for them to do so. (WOAI)

“I do not anticipate any special session,” he told News Radio 1200 WOAI. “They got their job done on time, and don’t require any overtime.”

A cynical soul might conclude that the Texas GOP passed exactly the number of bill protecting traditional marriage that they wanted to pass. None. Such a person might even think that the Texas GOP is far more concerned with the demands of the Texas business community, which has opposed such bills as bad for business, than they are the demands of the Texas Eagle Forum or Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

Franklin Graham call for boycott of everything

Timothy Kincaid

June 8th, 2015

franklin graham

Until he was into his 90’s, famous evangelist Billy Graham was known for his acceptance and inclusion of people of all walks of life. Never an advocate for gay people, he also made a point of avoiding hostility and a demeaning attitude. And he avoided political advocacy or lending his name to commercial ventures.

But Graham is now in his mid-90’s and suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. And in his twilight years, as his son Franklin took more and more control over the evangelist and his organization, suddenly statements attributed to Billy Graham have become the center of anti-gay political campaigns. His picture was used in full page ads asking people to go to the polls to restrict the rights of gay people. And the tone of “Billy Graham” is harsh and condemnatory.

While many of those who know and have worked with Billy Graham find these statements to appear inconsistent with his history, they were right in line with Franklin Graham, now the head of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

And irrespective of the extent to which Billy Graham endorses (or knows about) these actions, the organization carrying his name is now becoming one of the more prominent protestant Christian voices in opposition to gay rights and equality. Lacking his father’s compassion and charisma and recognizing that he will never inherit his father’s position as the Nation’s Pastor, Franklin has chosen to seek relevancy instead by being the Nation’s Scold.

While many conservative Christian denominations have been walking back from anti-gay political advocacy and turning their attention inward, Franklin has been ratcheting up his fiery denunciations against gay people and marriage equality and seeking to influence the public sphere. And each of his rants seems more shrill than the last, revealing a Graham that is confident of his superiority and tone deaf as to how those outside his isolated circle live.

But Franklin’s latest wild-eyed nonsense is truly laughable.

Have you ever asked yourself–how can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community? Every day it is something else! Tiffany’s started advertising wedding rings for gay couples. Wells Fargo bank is using a same-sex couple in their advertising. And there are more. But it has dawned on me that we don’t have to do business with them. At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank. And guess what—we don’t have to shop at Tiffany & Co., there are plenty of other jewelry stores. This is one way we as Christians can speak out—we have the power of choice. Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards. Maybe if enough of us do this, it will get their attention. Share this if you agree.

Ironically, Franklin posted this rant on Facebook, a very vocal supporter of gay rights. And it was likely written either on an Apple product or a computer using Microsoft software, both of which are contributors and advocates for marriage equality.

So I wonder exactly what this boycott of “those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards” would look like.

Perhaps Franklin can start his boycott by consulting with the Human Rights Campaign’s Buyers Guide so as to know what companies to avoid.

He could start his day by not using his Keurig coffee machine. Or, if old school, he can avoid his Mr. Coffee or Black and Decker coffee brewer into which he will not load Folgers, Maxwell House, or Seattle’s Best coffee grounds. Or he could just save himself time by not going to Starbucks or McDonalds for his morning joe.

And for breakfast he can enjoy an nice bowl of nothing from Kellogg or General Mills. Nor will he have good ol’ fashioned Quaker Oats with a Hormel meat product and a Pillsbury croissant. But maybe he’d like to toast a slice of bread which he didn’t buy from any of the Kroger (Ralphs, Food 4 Less), Safeway (Von’s, Pavilions), Supervalu (Lucky’s), Mal-Mart, Target, or CostCo stores without I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter nor Smuckers‘ Jam.

Then he’s off to his office in his car which is not a Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, FIAT, Jeep, Ram, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Nissan, Infiniti, Tesla, Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Volkswagen, Subaru, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, or Hyundai. Of course, his tires are not Bridgestone or Firestone and he doesn’t get gas at Chevron, Shell, BP, Texaco, 76, or Phillips 66.

As he’s out and about, Franklin will likely stop at whatever bank he’s moved to from Wells Fargo. Because unless it’s some regional or local bank, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association can’t bank there. I think a shoebox might be best.

Franklin’s a busy man so he might want to drop in at lunch time for a quick bite at Chick-Fil-A, which his organization recently endorsed. But you can’t eat there everyday, so maybe instead he’ll try a fast food place that isn’t McDonalds, Burger King, Umami Burger, KFC, Taco Bell, Chili’s or TGI Friday’s. Perhaps Carl’s Jr might work for him. But wherever he eats, I’m sure he won’t want Coca-Cola, Pepsi, A&W Root Beer, or Dr. Pepper. Nor will he choose Snapple, 7-Up or Country Time lemonade.

During the afternoon, Franklin will get some work done on his computer which does not use Microsoft products, does not include an Intel chip, and isn’t from Apple. He’ll want to check his email so he’ll connect to the internet without a Motorola router and through an ISP which is neither Comcast, AT&T, Time-Warner, Comcast, AOL, or T-Mobil. He might print something out but not on an HP or Xerox printer.

And if Franklin gets hungry mid day, he can boycott Hershey’s, Reeses, and Healthy Valley products. He also won’t have any Honey Maid Graham Crackers (irony there) nor Famous Amos cookies.

Careful that he doesn’t accidentally support those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards by eating at Outback Steakhouse, Franklin with probably have a fresh salad from his own garden at home. But, of course, it won’t be with Hidden Valley dressing.

Then, after a long day of not shopping at Macy’s, Gap, Nordstrom, Sears, Penney’s, Target, Crate & Barrel, or John Deer, he might read a book that he didn’t get at Barnes & Noble or through Amazon or have shipped by UPS or FedEx. Then maybe catch a movie (at home, not AMC Theaters) on his not-Sony TV, provided that it isn’t Disney, Hallmark, CBS, NBC, ABC, Showtime, Bravo, Netflix, HBO, Columbia, Cinemax, CNN, Turner, History Channel, Nickelodeon, Lifetime, New Line, Paramount, or ESPN. Well, maybe he should just stick to Fox News and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Finally, after a long exhausting day of not promoting sin, it’s time for bed. Gotta get up in the morning and get a fresh start on boycotting more of the companies who “promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards”. Tomorrow he’s planning on tackling the 300 or so companies that signed an amicus brief supporting marriage equality in the Windsor case. And then on to the 379 companies who signed a brief in Obergefell, just to be sure.

Gov. Ricketts in Chicago for a special event

Timothy Kincaid

June 6th, 2015

One of the odder early moments in the 2016 primary season was a week or two in which the presumed GOP candidates were asked whether they would go to the same-sex marriage of a close friend or family member. And in what seemed to be a weird effort to play both sides, several responded that while they oppose the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, they’d happily attend the wedding of someone they love.

But, as it turned out, they weren’t necessarily being cynical. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had already attended a gay wedding reception and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had RSVP’d and had plans to attend.

So maybe it’s a thing.

It does seem a bit hypocritical, but I suppose one can simultaneously hold the position that society is better off restricting marriage to traditional couples while also celebrating your friend’s happiness. Politicians have certainly held stranger positions.

In any case, Walker and Kasich are not alone. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is staunchly defending the state’s ban on marriage equality, insisting that the only a vote of the constituents should bring about equal protection under the law. But while he’s holding firm against gay marriage in Nebraska, he’s attending one in Illinois. (Omaha.com)

Ricketts will attend the wedding of his sister, Laura Ricketts. She is marrying Brooke Skinner, a brand strategist for Twitter.
Laura Ricketts was one of the leaders in the gay-rights movement in Chicago and was active in pushing for the legalization of gay marriage in Illinois, which took effect last year.

It would be reasonable to object to the idea of a politician opposing equality and then showing up for the ceremony. But I can’t help but think that this is positive. It’s hard to hold a continued objection once you’ve been a part of a lovely and touching and beautiful ceremony.

And who knows, maybe this is the tool that is needed not only for them to confront this issue on a personal level, but also to explain an eventual change of heart.

Marriage licenses now a certainty across Mexico

Timothy Kincaid

June 5th, 2015

mexico fireworks

Mexico has a complicated judicial system, particularly when it comes to civil rights. Rather than single marriage rulings that apply broadly to all citizens, individual couples get an amparo which relates specifically to their case. However, once five amparos have been issued in a state, precedent is established and then marriage equality has reached that state.

Or something like that.

Well it now appears that the rule of five also applies on a federal level. (Buzzfeed)

The Supreme Court and several lower courts have already ruled in almost every state that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the Mexican constitution. But because of the Mexican court system’s often confusing technicalities, none of those decisions have been binding in future cases. Theoretically, any court could rule against a couple who has sued for the right to marry even though there have been many cases decided in favor of others couples.

That is no longer true. On Wednesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued the first blanket statement that laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying are unconstitutional in every state — what is known as “generic jurisprudence.”

This is not the first time the court had resolved a case with that exact sentence. But Colima is the fifth state in which the court had used this language, and five is a magic number in the Mexican system. Along with rulings from Oaxaca, Baja California, Sinaloa, and the State of México, the Colima ruling forms a new “generic jurisprudence” binding on judges issuing rulings in all the states of Mexico.

This does not necessarily mean that marriage licenses will now be handed out by every jurisdiction across the nation, but it means that every legal challenge will now have the same result. Perhaps it can be seen as a technicality that sets a two step process for obtaining a marriage license.

But as each state reaches five amparos (which are now assured) that state will be obligated to issue licenses. Or, in other words, the sixth same-sex couple to marry in a Mexican state will not have to go through the step of a legal challenge. And some states already have reached this threshold.

It may be that we can now say that same-sex marriages are now available across all of Mexico – though perhaps not yet full equality.

Marriage equality comes to Guam

Timothy Kincaid

June 5th, 2015

guam couple

Guam is an island about the size of the Hawaiian island of Molokai located between Papua New Guinea and Japan, east of the Philippines. It was a subject of Spanish colonization from 1668 until 1898 when ownership was transferred to the United States as a spoil of the Spanish-American War.

The island is an unincorporated territory of the United States. It is self governed with a Governor and Senate elected by the population of about 160,000 residents, but comes under the federal jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Politically it is considered to be fairly conservative.

In April of this year, Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero filed a lawsuit claiming that the ruling by the Ninth Circuit in favor of marriage equality set precedent for Guam. The Attorney General agreed with the suit and refused to defend the island’s law restricting marriage to opposite sex couples.

Governor Eddie Calvo, a Republican, said that he would not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples without either an act of the Legislature or a ruling by the court. So yesterday, his counsel went to court and basically begged Federal Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood to issue a ruling bringing the territory into compliance with the Ninth Circuit.

Tydingco-Gatewood issued an order Friday (last evening by continental US time) (ABC)

Guam has become the first U.S. territory to recognize gay marriage after a federal judge struck down the prohibition.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood issued the decision after a hearing Friday morning local time. It goes into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, when gay couples can begin applying for marriage licenses, the Pacific Daily News reported.

Judge Tydingco-Gatewood was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006. She is the first female Chamorro (indigenous) chief judge.

Guam is the first US Territory to recognize same-sex marriages. There is currently a lawsuit in Puerto Rico which is under the jurisdiction of the First Circuit Court of Appeals. But while all of the states in the First Circuit have marriage equality, this was achieved at the state level either through a challenge to the state constitution (Massachusetts), through legislation (New Hampshire and Rhode Island), or by referendum (Maine) so there is no precedent.

Texas school administrators cause fracas, blame pro-gay students

Timothy Kincaid

June 4th, 2015

A Faubian Middle School in McKinney, Texas, a seventh grade student came out as gay and was subsequently bullied. Several girls in the school decided to take a stance in support of that student.

On the next-to-last day of school about fifteen students wore t-shirts blazed with the message: “Gay O.K.”. But this message was not acceptable to the administrators. (nbcdfw)

“We were doing perfectly fine until lunch,” said Sammy Heiman, a seventh grader who designed the shirts. “And then [the administration] called us all out, all the people wearing them, called us out of the cafeteria.”

And that’s when things got rowdy. The other students in the cafeteria saw what was going on and that the students were being told not to wear the shirts and started chanting “Gay O.K.” One student not wearing the shirt argued with an administrator and knocked a cell phone from their hand.

So, having caused a fracas by forcing the girls to change, the administrators are claiming that they banned the shirts only because they were disruptive.

“In this particular case, a verbal disruption occurred between a large number of students in the cafeteria as a result of the shirts,” said Cody Cunningham, spokesman for the McKinney Independent School District. “This was not a civil debate, but rather yelling and shouting, and [it] alarmed a large number of students.”

“While we respect student free speech, our primary obligation is to ensure a safe and productive learning environment for students in McKinney ISD,” Cunningham added.

See, your shirts caused a disruption when we took away your First Amendment rights.

And, in the worst possible reporting of an event ever, the local news is echoing the administration. “… they were not concerned about what that shirt said, just the results you saw there”.

Of course, there were no “results” until after the administrators called the girls out of the auditorium. So that’s simply a falsehood.

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