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.
Montana takes a DADT approach to tax filing status
October 2nd, 2013
The Montana Revenue Director Mike Kadas has said that same sex couples in Montana cannot file joint state income tax returns – even if they do have a valid marriage from another state and their federal filing status is ‘married’. However, he won’t be asking. (Billings Gazette)
He told the committee the department has had few cases in which a taxpayer’s marriage status has been at issue.
“Therefore, we do not believe any compliance initiatives associated with verifying the marital validity of any type of marriage, opposite sex or same sex, is necessary,” he said.
Kadas said if the agency undertook a compliance initiative effort to verify marriages, it would apply to all types of marriages — opposite sex, same sex and common law. That would require the department to ask taxpayers to provide it with information that supports their claim that they have a valid marriage, he said.
Unfortunately, the department has no other means to verify taxpayers’ marital status other than directly asking them, Kadas said. That is something that at least some taxpayers would find to be intrusive, he said.
“We are also confident that if we did undertake a marriage compliance initiative, the cost of such an initiative would far outweigh any financial benefit received from enforcing Montana’s tax laws,” he said.
Scott Lively’s Running for Governor Again
October 2nd, 2013
After long contemplation and prayer I am convinced that I should run for Governor of Massachusetts. I will run as an independent.
…As a long-time favorite target of extreme “gay” and leftist slander I have skin thicker than a rhinoceros and cannot be intimidated or manipulated by critics or the media. As someone who voluntarily gave up a lucrative and growing law practice in preference for a non-materialistic missionary lifestyle, I cannot be corrupted by money or big-spending lobbyists. As a church and university lecturer and government consultant on family issues and human rights with service in more than 30 countries, I interact comfortably with leaders from widely diverse backgrounds and cultures, and can draw from a deep reservoir of personal experience for problem-solving. As an author of five books and veteran of more than 700 radio and television interviews, I know how to communicate effectively. As the founder and lead attorney of the Christian Mediation Center I know how to bring hostile opposing parties to a mutually agreeable compromise. These are all valuable skills that a chief executive must possess.
I am not a politician and will not become one to run for office. I will conduct no polling. I will not lie about my positions to earn votes I don’t deserve. I will plainly say what I believe and what I would do as governor. On the many issues on which I do not have a strong opinion I will say so, and yield to the views that seem most beneficial to the state. Where my views differ from the majority on issues that are most important to me I will try to win the voters to my reasoning rather than pander to the majority. I will not compromise my principles to win political office. I expect this approach will be appealing to a great many people.
In the next few days I will file my paperwork with the state and open a bank account. I will then begin raising money with which to campaign.
I expect to often be asked by reporters what I think my prospects are for winning this election. To this I reply that it would take a miracle from God for Scott Lively to become Governor of Massachusetts — and I wouldn’t want it any other way. God should get the glory for any good thing that comes from this campaign. So don’t expect me to campaign like a politician. I will do nothing more than travel the state to offer what I believe are Biblical solutions to Massachusetts’ problems — and leave the rest to Almighty God.
NYT features gay GOP Pennsylvania Rep.
September 28th, 2013
At the end of last year, he announced that his marriage of 10 years was over. And that he’s gay.
Plenty of people figured that he’d exit state politics after that. But on Monday he’ll announce his campaign for a fifth term. This time, it will almost certainly be a campaign, with rivals and an uncertain outcome, hinging on whether he can persuade his constituents that he’s the same politician they embraced before, the same man, apart from a reality owned up to, a truth embraced.
Their acceptance or rejection of that will be an unusually clear-cut referendum on attitudes about homosexuality in rural America, or at least in this verdant stretch of the heartland about 75 miles west of the state capital of Harrisburg. Fleck, 40, hasn’t changed his position on issues like gun control, of which he’s skeptical. (He owns a pistol, two rifles, one muzzleloader and 10 other firearms.) He didn’t come out of the closet in a swirl of scandal. There was no news about an intern, no talk of an affair. He just came out, because his marriage had unraveled, because the toll of staying in was too steep and because he saw an opportunity to challenge the bigotry in his community by presenting its residents with something that he certainly never saw when he was growing up here, an openly gay man who doesn’t conform to the sorts of stereotypes that are especially prevalent far away from metropolitan areas.
Barilla apologizes. Again. Kinda.
September 28th, 2013
Now Guido Barilla has released a video in which he non-apologizes for about the fourth time.
In case you need a transcript, it’s something like this:
Me. Me me me. Good guy, me. Me. Me. Always respectful me. Me. Me me me me me me. The reaction to me has made me unhappy me me. I’ll be listening to me me me and me and some good family groups. Oh, and also some of the people who are mad at me. Me.
Bertolli likes all kinds of pasta families
September 27th, 2013
Gambian President Calls Gays “Biggest Threats to Human Existence”
September 27th, 2013
Dozens of world leaders are in New York right now for the United Nations General Assembly’s annual General Debate. Gambian President Yahya Jammeh is there, and today he used his allotted time to accuse LGBT people of being one of the three “biggest threats to human existence,” along with greed and obsession with world domination. Together, Jammeh said they “are more deadly than all natural disasters put together.”
Jammeh, who came to power in 1994 following a military coup, has developed a reputation for being notoriously anti-gay. In 2008, he threatened to “cut off the head” of any homosexual he found in his country and promised to introduce legislation that would be “stricter than those in Iran.” He didn’t follow through on that last threat. Homosexuality is currently a felony under Gambian law and carries a penalty of fourteen years in prison.
Help me out with some research?
September 26th, 2013
Some of our opponents argue that the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom means that individuals and groups who oppose same-sex marriage must be exempt from laws requiring them to recognized same-sex marriages as marriages.
Could anyone provide me with links to the very best arguments for that view?
Sometimes it’s fun to point out our opponents’ silliest arguments, but that’s not what I’m looking for here. I want to examine the reasoning from the most serious and intelligent folks on the other side.
Barilla: gay customers “can go eat another brand” of pasta
September 26th, 2013
Guido Barilla, whose firm has almost half the Italian pasta market and a quarter of that in the US, told Italy’s La Zanzara radio show last night: “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand.
“For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company.”
He added: “Everyone has the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them”. But then the pasta magnate upped the ante by attacking gay adoption. “I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose,” he said.
Oh, and after the obvious shocked and disgusted response, “I’m sorry if my comments on La Zanzara have created misunderstanding or polemic, or if I’ve offended anyone.”
No, no misunderstanding. It’s clear. You’re an asshat and I’ll accept your invitation to buy other brands (or, better yet, make my own pasta).
IOC Says It’s “Fully Satisfied” With Russia’s Anti-Gay Law
September 26th, 2013
According to the Associated Press:
The International Olympic Committee has dismissed concerns over Russia’s law banning gay propaganda, saying it doesn’t violate the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination clause, and pronounced Russia ready to host the 2014 Winter Games.
Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, gave his stamp of approval during a news conference Thursday at the conclusion of the commission’s 10th and final visit to Sochi before the games, which begin on Feb. 7.
…Killy said the commission deliberated for several days and concluded “the IOC doesn’t have the right to discuss the laws that are in place in the country hosting the games, so unless the charter is violated we are fully satisfied.”
This comes despite several contradictory statements by Russian officials about how Russia’s so-called “anti-propaganda” law would impact Olympic athletes and visitors. Earlier this month, the head of the Sochi Olympics asked the IOC to somehow make the rest of the world shut up about the draconian law. The IOC’s response then was to do Russia’s bidding, and ask athletes to keep quiet in Sochi like good Russian citizens. None of this was ever in any doubt, not with the real bottom line being:
Killy said the IOC commission was pleased with the ongoing construction ahead of the games, which with a total cost of $51 billion will be the most expensive Olympics in history.
GHW Bush signs same-sex wedding certificate
September 25th, 2013
This past weekend President George H. W. Bush attended a same-sex marriage in Maine (WaPo)
Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara served as an official witnesses this past weekend at the Maine wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, co-owners of a Kennebunk general store.
No big statement from the ex-prez’s office. His rep Jim McGrath confirmed his and wife Barbara’s presence at the wedding: “They were private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”
In an email from their honeymoon in London, Clement told us they’ve known the former first couple first years and were thrilled they accepted the wedding invitation. Thinking about “how monumental this time is in our lives” and “how blessed we are to be in their lives,” they decided to ask them “to really personalize it for us” as witnesses.
While the first President Bush never expressed much animosity towards the gay community, my first response was a bit of surprise. And then I thought that the Bushes are people, and we often say that we welcome the evolution of thought of people on the issue of equality. So I definitely welcome this.
I guess I’m not really all that surprised that Bush Sr. now seems to value and appreciate marriage equality. And, frankly, I won’t be that surprised when Bush Jr. does so.
Senate Confirms First Openly Gay Appeals Court Judge
September 24th, 2013
In a 98-0 vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of Todd Hughes as a judge for the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, making him the first openly gay appellate court judge in U.S. History. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) acknowledged the historical importance of Hughes’s appointment shortly before the confirmation vote was taken: “I’m proud the Senate has finally taken an historic step to break down another barrier and increase diversity in our federal bench.”
In other news, Sen. Jesse Helms is deader now than he ever was before.