Geidner: Christie’s argument has been procedural, not personal
October 21st, 2013
Christie’s entire defense of the marriage law, in fact, has been premised — like Monday’s statement — upon process and not upon his personal opposition to same-sex couples’ marriages, which he has continued to maintain in his bid for reelection.
When the trial court ruled against Christie in September, for example, he did not defend “traditional marriage” or something similar. Instead, he looked to process, with a spokesman saying, “Governor Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day. Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”
NJ Assembly Republican Leader weighs in
October 21st, 2013
Dropped in at the end of an article (PolitickerNJ)
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) praised Christie’s decision. “This is why he’s so respected,” Bramnick said. “He’s a practical realist.”
Bramnick, it should be remembered, is not an equality supporter, taking the Governor’s “let the people vote” position.
It’s an interesting peek into how Republicans in deep blue states want to get the issue behind them. They know marriage equality is coming and that any protracted battle is not going to benefit them. They just need a way to graciously concede without changing their public stance.
A vote of the populace is ideal. It allows them to hold their “personal view” while upholding “the will of the people”. And it shields them entirely from the debate. Which is, to some extent, why Democratic politicians in New Jersey fought that option.
Absent that, a swift court decision gives them an out. The judges can have “overstepped” and “dictated”, but it gives Christie and the Republicans a way to be “practical realists” and accept the eventuality.
And today’s dropping of the appeal in New Jersey allows that state’s Republicans to put this issue completely behind them. There is zero chance that they will make any effort to “take it to the people” and within the next week or so, some GOP legislator is going to conduct a wedding of a close friend or staff member and then this issue will cease to be trouble for the party at all.
NOM has no love for Christie
October 21st, 2013
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today sharply criticized the courts of New Jersey for orchestrating the redefinition of marriage, and also criticized New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for withdrawing an appeal of the court ruling imposing same-sex marriage and thus abandoning the right of voters to determine the definition of marriage. NOM pledged to continue to fight for the right of New Jerseyans to define marriage, and suggested that Christie’s decision will end any chance of him winning the GOP nomination for president.
“…and thus abandoning the right of voters to determine the definition of marriage.” Huh?
I think NOM has now completely given up any pretense at making sense and is now just throwing up catch words and phrases in the hopes of stimulating emotions.
NJ’s largest synagogue on marriage
October 21st, 2013
In the seven blessings we bestow upon couples under the wedding canopy (Sheva B’rachot), there is one that will resonate particularly for us in the legal marriages we will be blessed to perform as of today, October 21st, 2013: “Praised are you, Adonai our God, for the creation of people.” Indeed, all people. We are so fortunate to now be able to bless those who stand under the wedding canopy without question of their sexual orientation. This is a milestone moment for our state and a milestone moment for us as God’s servants, who feel renewed in our privilege to serve all of God’s people.
Cory Booker Conducts First Wedding as Mayor, Handles Heckler With Aplomb
October 21st, 2013
Senator-elect Cory Booker is still mayor of Newark. Since becoming mayor in 2006, he has refused to conduct any weddings unless he can marry everyone equally. Now he can, and did, last night at Newark City Hall’s rotunda.
Russian MP Temporarily Withdraws Bill To Remove Children from Gay Parents
October 19th, 2013
Russia’s RAI Novosti’s headlines makes it sound like good news — “Russian MP Withdraws Bill Taking Children Away from Gay Parents” — but you only have to go to the second paragraph to see the other shoe drop:
A bill that proposes stripping gays with children of their parental rights, introduced by Russian lawmaker Alexei Zhuravlyov, has been withdrawn from the parliament, a spokesperson for the lawmaker said Saturday.
“Yes, he has indeed withdrawn it,” spokesperson Sofia Cherepanova said, adding that the document would be later revised and again submitted to the Russian State Duma. She said that the author’s position on the matter “remains unchanged.” “Anyway, we are interested in passing the bill,” Cherepanova added.
The bill had been scheduled to come up for debate in February, at about the same time Russia would take center stage internationally as host to the Winter Olympics. Given that Zhuravlyov intends to resubmit the bill, this may be a delaying tactic to avoid drawing attention to Russia’s dismal human rights record while the television cameras are on in Sochi.
Gov. Christie’s Hypothetical Gay Son Can Marry on Monday
October 18th, 2013
From the New Jersey Star-Ledger:
…And it’s a setback for Gov. Chris Christie, an opponent of same-sex marriage who says only “one man and one woman” should be able to wed.
At a campaign event at a restaurant in Dover, Christie ignored a reporter’s request for comment about the ruling.
Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman, later issued a brief statement.
“The Supreme Court has made its determination,” Drewniak said. “While the Governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the State of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order of the Superior Court under the applicable law.”
Gov. Christie said earlier this week that if one of his four sons had come out to him as gay, he would “grab them and hug them and tell them I love them,” but he would also tell them “that Dad believes that marriage is between one man and one woman.” Beginning Monday, his hypothetical gay son will be allowed to marry just like his other brothers.
In related news, Princeton makes the fifth city (that I know of) to announce that they will accept license applications today from same-sex couples who want to get married on Monday. They early start on accepting applications is intended to accommodate New Jersey’s 72-hour waiting period. Princeton joins Asbury Park, Jersey City, Newark and Red Bank in accepting applications today.
Federal Judge Sets February Trial Date for Michigan Marriage Ban Lawsuit
October 16th, 2013
Federal District Court Judge Bernard A. Friedman turned down requests to issue a summary judgment either for or against the constitutionality of Michigan’s ban on marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. A lesbian couple who, between them, have adopted three special needs children, had asked the court to declare the state’s constitutional ban, which was approved by Michigan voters in 2004, unconstitutional under the Federal constitution. There had been widespread expectation that Judge Friedman would rule on the ban’s constitutionality. A trial date has been set for February 25.
Isn’t It Ironic?
October 15th, 2013
The state of North Dakota doesn’t recognize your same-sex marriage. The state of North Dakota so doesn’t recognize your same-sex marriage that they created a special tax form, a unique form to be used only by you people in same-sex marriages and nobody else, so you can file your taxes in such a way as to ensure that the state of North Dakota double doesn’t recognize your same-sex marriage.
BBC Airs Stephen Fry’s “Out There,” Explores Ex-Gay Therapy
October 15th, 2013
Stephen Fry’s two-part special “Out There,” in the works for at least a couple of years, premiered last night on BBC2. Sadly, only a few clips are available in North American. “Out There,” as the name compactly describes, explores what it’s like to be “out” there — “there” being mostly outside of the United Kingdom. One segment brings Fry to the United States, where he investigates the ex-gay movement with interviews with NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi and BTB’s Daniel Gonzales (and his cool mom).
Part one also featured Fry’s trip to Uganda. Part two, which airs Wednesday, explores life in Brazil, Russia and India.
Moldova Quietly Repeals “Homosexual Propaganda” Law
October 14th, 2013
On May 23, Moldova’s parliament approved a so-called “homosexual propaganda” law modeled after the one that became law in Russia in June. In contrast to Russia, Moldova lawmakers passed theirs much more quietly. President Nicolae Timofti signed it on July 5. Local activists didn’t learn of it until the law was officially published on July 12, the day it went into effect. The law however jeopardized Moldova’s bid to earn Association status with the European Union, so lawmakers quietly rescinded it last Friday:
The decision on October 11 was made by lawmakers while dozens of Orthodox priests and Communist lawmakers were blocking the entrance to the Palace of the Republic in Chisinau, trying to thwart the parliament session. The lawmakers entered the building through the back door.
The Orthodox faithful were protesting the parliament’s discussion of a European Union-backed law on nondiscrimination that would guarantee the rights of Moldova’s gay citizens.
Harvey Milk Gets a Stamp
October 11th, 2013
Stuart Milk, the gay nephew of slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, made the announcement on Facebook:
Breaking! It is official! The USPS will confirm this week that my uncle, Harvey Milk will be commemorated on a 2014 US postage stamp. Another first! My deep gratitude to everyone that supported this effort! More details including the image to come via USPS soon! “Hope Will Never Be Silent” and that enduring message of hope will be on millions of letters represented by Harvey’s image!
The first openly gay American citizen to appear on a US stamp, as far as I know, is Bayard Rustin’s in 2001. (Please speak up in comments if you know of an earlier one.) Milk will be the first openly gay elected official to appear on a US postage stamp. So now when you sit down at your chippendale desk to pen your letter to the Family Research Council on lavender-scented stationary, you’ll once again have an appropriate stamp to adorn your envelope.
UPDATE: My source was wrong. There was no Bayard Rustin stamp. That’s a gross oversight that should be corrected. However, we do have these:
- Poet Walt Whitman: 1940
- Blues singer Bessie Smith: 1994
- Playwright Tennessee Williams: 1995
- Conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein: 2001
- Artist Andy Warhol: 2002
- Author James Baldwin: 2004
NJ Judge: no stay in marriage ruling
October 10th, 2013
When Judge Mary Jacobson ruled that civil unions and marriages no longer are afforded the same rights and benefits (due to the new federal recognition of same-sex marriages) and that the state of New Jersey must allow and recognize marriages between same sex couples, she gave a date for when her ruling would come into effect: October 21, 2013.
When Governor Chris Christie appealed that ruling, he also requested that at stay be placed on the ruling such that it does not come into effect until the Supreme Court had weighed in on her decision. Today Judge Jacobson denied that request. (WaPo)
A judge refused Thursday to delay the start of same-sex marriage in New Jersey until a legal appeal can be settled, denying efforts by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration to put off gay weddings.
“Granting a stay would simply allow the state to continue to violate the equal protection rights of New Jersey same-sex couples, which can hardly be considered a public interest,” Judge Mary Jacobson wrote.
Christie will now appeal the denial of stay to a higher court. And that may be the decision that brings New Jersey into the Equality State column.
If the higher court overrides Jacobson and puts a stay on her ruling pending appeal, then we will all have to wait until the case runs its course. However, if they refuse to place a stay – as I suspect they may do – then it’s pretty much a done deal. Yes the official ruling will be delayed until the process is complete, but once marriage start they are not going to stop.
There is zero chance that the court will allow marriages to proceed without stay, only to later reverse Judge Jacobson’s decision.
Bad news for Lonegan
October 10th, 2013
Today brings some very bad news for former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, who is running as the Republican candidate for US Senate in New Jersey’s special election next week.
No, it’s not that he’s 12 points behind Newark Mayor Corey Booker (D). Actually Lonegan’s been whittling away at what was once a large advantage for Booker.
It’s not that New Jersey is a blue state in registration and state representative. After all Chris Christie is trampling all over his Democratic opponent.
No, today’s bad new is that the National Organization for Marriage is gloriously declaring that Lonegan can win. And they are throwing their support behind him. (NOMblog)
I’m talking about the US Senate special election in New Jersey next week. Marriage, life, and family values are on the ballot in New Jersey one week from yesterday on October 16th — and every marriage champion across the country can play a part to make sure those values come out on top.
Next Wednesday voters in New Jersey need to make a special effort to get out and vote for the only US Senate candidate who will protect and promote marriage, life, and family on the national stage — Steve Lonegan.
…All the polls show that momentum is with Lonegan, meaning by this time next week it could well be a dead heat.
What will push Steve — and marriage, life, and family — over the top?
Well, I suppose that something could. It’s possible, of course.
But we all know what happens when NOM gets behind your campaign.
Iowa bistro sues to deny access to gay couples
October 8th, 2013
The Görtz Haus Gallery operates a “bistro, art gallery, frame shoppe and floral shoppe” out of what used to be the St. Peter Lutheran Church in Grimes, IA. The bistro is in what was once the sanctuary and is an attractive setting that is occasionally rented out for weddings.
But when Lee Stafford wanted to rent out the bistro for his wedding to his fiance Jared, the owners, Betty and Richard Odgaard refused. And after Stafford filed a claim with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the Odgaard’s sued. They are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. (Quad City Times)
Emily Hardman, spokeswoman for the Becket Fund, said the organization doesn’t want to eliminate “sexual orientation” as a protected class in Iowa and said the Odgaards are opposed to hosting the ceremony because of their Mennonite beliefs.
“The Odgaards have long hired and served gays and lesbians, and are happy to serve all persons regardless of their sexual orientation,” Hardman wrote in an email. “The only remedy they are seeking is not to be forced by the government to host a religious ceremony that would violate their own beliefs. The Iowa Civil Rights Act supports this remedy, as it expressly states that the Act is not intended to force individuals to recognize same-sex marriage.”
I tend to err on the side of individual rights and I am no fan of non-discrimination laws in general. They tend to pit people against each other and the blurry line between my right to get what I want and your right to do what you want with your property, time and body tends to leave all sides feeling imposed upon.
But I’m having a hard time finding sympathy for the Odgaards. Their feelings of entitlement run far beyond the right to refuse service based on religious (or any other) convictions or beliefs. (HuffPo)
In an interview, Betty Odgaard defended her decision to turn away the couple, saying it came from “our faith, our convictions.”
“Can I have my beliefs without being ostracized for that? I think I have my right … to stand firm to my convictions and beliefs,” Odgaard, who said she and her husband have received threatening emails and calls in response to the news, noted.
Well, no, Betty. You can’t have your beliefs without being ostracized; that’s what ostracization is for. When your beliefs result in hurtful behavior to other and attitudes that society finds to be counter-productive, the right and proper response is to ostracize you. Or, perhaps, as a Mennonite you’d prefer the term ‘shunning’.
And then there’s all the quivering hurt about having to ‘host a religious ceremony’.
This isn’t like Elain Photography where Elaine Huguenin would have had to physically participate in the event. Or one of those cake bakers who object to putting same-sex cake toppers atop their confectionary creation. It’s not even one of those bed-and-breakfast people who don’t want to be under the same roof as a couple of guys who are doing… you know… it!
It’s a bistro, a friggen room, Betty, and you don’t have to “host”. You don’t even have to be there. If you absolutely must have someone on the premises to make sure no one stills the artwork, you can turn that task over to one of those many gays and lesbians that you’ve hired.
And about that “religious ceremony”… who said it was religious?
Now maybe Lee and Jared wanted incense, blown shofars, latin incantations, the ubiquitous Whether Thou Goest sung badly by a relative and a sermon carefully distinguishing between Lutheranism and Calvinism, followed by saptapadi. But I’m guessing that if they were wanting a ‘religious ceremony’ then they would have chosen a religious venue. And whatever it is that they wanted, you can bet it wasn’t a Mennonite service, and since anything else is not kosher for her anyway it’s no skin off Betty’s nose.
Now I know that the Becket folk will try for an emotional appeal. Mumble mumble former church. Mumble mumble art gallery free speech. Mumble mumble Mennonites and candles and horse-drawn buggies and religious freedom!!
But when it comes right down to it, this is a bistro that doesn’t want to rent out the dining hall to Lee and Jared because they are gay. Period, end of conversation.
Are Pittsburgh police stalling on gay bashing?
October 8th, 2013
Sometimes you read something wrong. Then you read it again wrong. Then you get all indignant and snarky and write a commentary.
And then someone points out that you read it wrong and you feel kinda stupid.
This is one of those times.
Sorry, folks, no story here.
NOM quotes Laurie Higgins; claims it’s Chicago Tribune
October 8th, 2013
Once a voice for those who opposed marriage equality in a somewhat civil tone, the National Organization for Marriage is racing down the fast lane towards anti-gay extremism. In the past few months, as it has became unavoidable clear that equality is the near future, NOM has abandoned all pretense of principled opposition on the issue of marriage and has been edging towards becoming just another of the shrill voices screaming about the homosexual agenda and ranting about what the evil radical homosexual lobby is trying to do to destroy America and harm Christians (as they define them).
Today is another example: (NOMblog)
Same-sex ‘marriage’ radicals are at it again… the latest example comes from Chicago.
In what the Chicago Tribune rightly called “a stunning public admission” openly homosexual Democratic State Representative Greg Harris of Chicago, outright admitted in a public debate that the proposed law in Illinois redefining marriage did NOT provide religious liberty or conscience protections for individual Christian business owners.
The article continued, saying that “it was clear that both he and homosexual Chicago Alderman Deb Mell (a former state representative and co-sponsor of SB 10) oppose any such protections.” (emphasis added).
That seemed odd to me, as the Trib hasn’t referred to someone as “homosexual Chicago Alderman” since the 90′s. This is the rhetoric not of reporters or even editorial boards, but of anti-gay activists. So I did a little searching and, sure enough, this didn’t come from the Chicago Tribune’s reporters or editorial staff at all.
It came from Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute, one of only 34 groups listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an active anti-gay group (a “hate group”). And that “stunning public admission”, yeah that was only Laurie being “stunned”.
Now most of us can pretty easily distinguish between raging bias-based ranting and news coverage. But it is becoming increasingly evident that Brian Brown and others at the National Organization for Marriage live in a world where anti-gay epithets and paranoid raging against gay Americans seems normal and ordinary.
State Department Updates Travel Warning for LGBT Visitors to Russia
October 4th, 2013
The update isn’t dated, so I don’t know when it came out, but recent anti-gay legislation in Russia has the State Department issuing this warning for LGBT visitors:
Attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals: Discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread in Russia. Harassment, threats, and acts of violence targeting LGBT individuals have occurred. Government officials have been known to make derogatory comments about LGBT persons.
In June 2013, the State Duma passed a law banning “the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. Russian citizens found guilty of violating the law could face a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,100). Foreign citizens face similar fines, up to 15 days in jail, and deportation. The law is vague as to what will be considered propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations. As a result, commentators have suggested that the law may make it a crime to promote LGBT equality in public. Violence against the LGBT community has increased sharply since the law was passed, including entrapment and torture of young gay men by neo-Nazi gangs and the murder of multiple individuals due to their sexual orientation. Many view this legislation as encouraging such violence, with the majority of attacks against members of the LGBT community going unreported.
LGBT travelers should review the LGBT Travel Information page.
There, He Said It: PA Gov Thinks Same-Sex Marriage Is More Like “Brother and Sister”
October 4th, 2013
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in August distanced himself from state lawyers which justified the state’s ban on same-sex marriage by saying there’s no discrimination involved because marriages between twelve-year-olds are also illegal. Corbett called that reasoning “inappropriate.” What is an appropriate argument? How about comparing same-sex marriage to a union between brother and sister?
Anchor Sherry Christian of Harrisburg’s WHP-TV didn’t know quite how to handle this exchange:
CHRISTIAN: There was a controversial remark made by a member of your legal team comparing gay marriage to the union of twelve-year-olds, saying both are illegal, which you called inappropriate.
CORBETT: It was an inappropriate analogy. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister. Don’t you?
CHRISTIAN: [Awkward pause] … I don’t know. [Nervous laughter]
CORBETT: Well we…
CHRISTIAN: I don’t know. I’m going to leave the comments to you and your team, but you did say it was inappropriate, and you have a better phrasing that you think…
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is defending its marriage equality ban in Whitewood v. Corbett, which was filed in July in Federal District Court by the ACLU. The Commonwealth is also suing in state court to try to halt Montgomery County from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Georgia President Warns Putin’s Anti-Gay Campaign Part of Larger Effort To Influence Ex-Soviet Republics
October 3rd, 2013
Buzzfeed’s report by Max Seddon is the only original source I’ve run across, but I think it deserves attention. Outgoing Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili told the United Nations General Assembly last week that Russia’s foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin is “fueled by intolerance” in a bid to increase its influence over other countries of the former Soviet Union. The Russian delegation walked out during Saakashvili’s remarks. Saakashvili later expanded his comments in an interview with Seddon:
Saakashvili is concerned that a wave of anti-gay pressure inspired by Russia’s law may spread to Georgia: Moldova has already adopted a similar law, and Armenia came close to doing so last month. In May, 50 LGBT activists who attempted to hold a pride parade in the capital, Tbilisi, had to flee after thousands of Georgians – led by Orthodox priests – chased them through the streets, roughing up anyone they suspected of being gay. In the aftermath, anti-gay Georgians told media that they were angry that tolerance was being forced upon them by the West.
Saakashvili says the Kremlin’s embrace of anti-gay policies is Putin’s last desperate attempt to rein in his old empire. “He had nothing to offer to his former zone of influence. He has no soft power. He has no economic benefits to offer them,” Saakashvili says. “So what he’s telling them: ‘OK, Europe is promising you much more, it’s a better market, they might give you subsidies, they might give you lots of new opportunities and openings. But what you should know is Europe is all about gay rights. If you go to Europe, your family values will be undermined, your traditions will be destroyed. So we as Orthodox unity, we should stick together.’”
In 1991 and 1992, Georgia fought a war against Russian separatists in the Georgian republic of South Ossetia. That war ended with much of South Ossetia in the hands of a Russian-backed government that was unrecognized elsewhere in the world. In 2008, Georgia launched an attack to regain control of South Ossetia in a war that saw Russian troops cross into Georgia to occupy South Ossetia and Abkhazi, where they remain today.