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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for September, 2012

Supreme Court Declines Prop 8, DOMA Cases For Now

Jim Burroway

September 25th, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its Orders List (PDF: 136KB/10 pages) following yesterday’s conference session in which it was scheduled to consider whether to hear four LGBT-related cases. Today’s Order list indicates that the Supreme Court has agreed to accept six pending case, but the appeal of Hollingsworth v. Perry — the new name for Perry v. Brown, which itself was previously Perry v. Schwarzenegger, challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 — was not on the list.

It’s not clear yet though that this means that the Prop 8 case was rejected by the court. We won’t learn that until next Monday, when the Supreme Court will issue a list of cases it has decided not to hear this term. If Hollingsworth v. Perry is on that list, then the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional will stand and California’s same-sex couples will have their marriage rights restored. But if Hollingsworth v. Perry is not on that list, then it means that the Supreme Court is still weighing whether to accept the case. It takes four justices to agree on hearing a case before it is accepted by the court.

The court also held off accepting the appeal of Windsor v. USA, which challenges the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. This case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behal of Edie Windsor, who is required to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes following the death of her legally-wedded wife in 2007. If she had been in an opposite-sex marriage, her estate tax bill would have been zero. Four other DOMA challenges are making their way through the Appeals courts, and the U.S. Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to hear three of those cases along with Windsor for a more comprehensive look at DOMA’s constitutionality.

The court has also, so far, declined to accept two other LGBT-related cases. In Diaz v. Brewer, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer cannot withdraw domestic parner benefits from state employees without violating the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. And in National Organization for Marriage v. McKee, NOM is again trying to get the Supreme Court’s attention in its efforts to circumvent Maine’s finance disclosure laws. The Supreme Court refused to hear an earlier challenge from NOM in February.

Memorial And Rally? Very Well: A Memorial and Rally

Jim Burroway

January 13th, 2011
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The memorial was nothing short of magnificent, and it was exactly what this city needed. It was, at turns, somber and celebratory. Tucsonans have been in a severely depressed funk, dazed and stunned that something like this could happen here.

I hear some small-minded grumbling that the event was somehow too “raucous” or a “rally.” Well you know what? A rally is just what we needed. Those who sit in judgment in their comfortable offices and studios on the coasts tut-tutting last night’s memorial haven’t had to drive by the still-closed Safeway every morning and every evening to and from work. They haven’t been within a thousand miles of the nightly vigils at UMC and at Gabrielle Giffords’s congressional office. They haven’t turned on television to see their own neighbors grieving in wall-to-wall coverage. They haven’t picked up their local newspapers to read the dozens of stories about the tragedy and then turn the page, thinking perhaps that they were finished with those heartbreaking stories, only to be confronted by the same familiar names and photos in the obituaries. They haven’t made plans to attend some of the funerals which begin today. They won’t pull over to the side of the road as the funeral processions pass on the way to the cemetery. They haven’t seen their beloved town turned into something unrecognizable. When they have experienced all of this, maybe then they can legitimately criticize our desire last night to tentatively shake off our sack cloths and wash away the ashes, if only for a moment. But not until then.

Tucsonans have undergone a stunned mourning for five solid days now. It’s about time we also celebrate, and yes, cheer, our community’s coming together and move toward the future. It is time to rally our wounded community, and to resolve to build a better, kinder, and more civilized world.

When tragedies like this strike, we expect the President to come grieve among the people. And yet, Tucsonans appeared genuinely surprised and touched when the President announced he was coming here. I had wanted to take a half-day off work and get in line for the memorial, but when I got up yesterday morning I learned that a long line had already formed the night before. By noon it was already clear that there was no way anyone who wasn’t already there would get into the McKale Center. So my partner and I saw it on television at home. I don’t know how the major networks carried the event. We chose to watch it on local TV, which simply carried the live feed and ditched the voiceovers, pundits and real-time crawls.

I thought Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s address was splendid. She was kind, wonderfully gracious, and very generous. The blessing at the beginning was touching, given by someone whose ancestry in Tchuk Shoon predates the arrival of “Americans” and reminds us of the timelessness of this valley that has drawn so many to the Old Pueblo, as we like to call our city. We celebrated our heros who ran toward the gunfire, and we learned for the first time that Gabby Giffords had opened her eyes. And with that, it is my hope that President Barack Obama’s exceptional speech opens all of our eyes, so that we, too, can build a society worthy of Christina Taylor-Green’s spirit.

Click here to read a transcript of President Obama’s speech

Judge Blocks Arizona’s Termination of Domestic Partner Benefits

Jim Burroway

July 24th, 2010

Among the first policy changes pushed by Arizona’s legislature as soon as Republican Janet Brewer succeeded Janet Napolitano (D) as governor was to pass House Bill 2013, which changed the definition of “dependent” to specifically exclude domestic partners and adopted children of gay individuals, effectively ending insurance coverage for the families of gay state employees. This move came despite denials from Arizona’s Prop 102 promoters that they would seek to remove domestic partner benefits if the amendment banning same-sex marriage was added to the constitution. Prop 102 was approved by Arizona voters in 2008.

This week, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick granted a temporary injunction against the state of Arizona from implementing the new law:

“Because employees involved in same-sex partnerships do not have the same right to marry as their heterosexual counterparts, Section O has the effect of completely barring lesbians and gays from receiving family benefits,” Sedwick wrote. “Consequently, the spousal limitation in Section O burdens state employees with same-sex domestic partners more than state employees with opposite-sex domestic partners.”

Sedwick dismissed the state’s argument that exempting gay employees would make the benefits program “much easier to administer” and that “scarce funds for employee benefits are better spent on employees and dependents as defined in the new statute.”

Gov. Brewer claims that the state cannot afford to provide domestic partner benefits. But the annual cost of domestic partner benefits make up only about $3 million, or less than one-half of one percent of the $625 million spent on benefits for all employees. The elimination of domestic partner benefits would affect more straight families than gay. Gay and lesbian couples are believed to comprise a small fraction of the 893 domestic partners who have signed up with the state. The injunction against the elimination of domestic partner benefits applies only to families of gay- and lesbian-led employees because, as Judge Sedwick noted, heterosexual couples have the option of marrying.

Arizona Cancels Health Care For Thousands

Jim Burroway

September 8th, 2009

It was just last year when proponents of Prop 102, Arizona’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage promised — pretty please promised — that unlike their earlier unsuccessful effort in 2006, this time they learned their lesson and have no intention of going after domestic partnership benefits in order to get the gays fully discriminated in the state constitution. Crossed their heart and hoped to die, in fact.

Well Arizona’s new budget is in, and it proves the lie. Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has signed the budget bill that strips health insurance from the families of approximately 800 Arizona state employees, along with other domestic partnership benefits. Now how’s that for pro-family politics?

AZ Legislature Moves To Strip Domestic Partner Benefits

Jim Burroway

June 6th, 2009

Here’s a story that goes to show that marriage opponents will lie, cheat and steal to have their way.

Last summer, Arizona lawmakers broke Senate rules in order to place an anti-marriage amendment on the 2008 ballot. At the time, they said that Prop 102 would not endanger domestic partnerships, and that all they wanted to do was “define marriage” in the state constitution. Marriage opponents went on to make this a key centerpiece on their Prop 102 campaign, that they had no interest in denying anyone’s domestic partnership benefits.

Well now we know that was yet another bold-faced lie:

State lawmakers are moving to strip the domestic partners of state and university employees of the health insurance coverage they gained just a year ago.

A provision in the state budget would legally define “dependents” of state employees who are entitled to coverage as a spouse or a child younger than 19 — or younger than 23 if a full-time student. Changing the law would override regulations adopted last year that added domestic partners and their children to the list.

The state Department of Administration says about 750 workers who have signed up for the benefits would be affected.

The measure passed the House last night and is now on the governor’s desk. Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who became governor when Janet Napolitano (D) became Homeland Security secretary for the Obama administration, was on record in 2006 for opposing domestic partner benefits for state employees.

Equality Arizona is urging state residents to call Governor’s office (602-542-4331 or toll free at 1-800-253-0883) or email the Governor here.

AZ Ballot Will Describe Prop 102 With Legally Accurate Language

Jim Burroway

August 27th, 2008

A headline like that should be a given, but — this being Arizona — one cannot always take such things for granted.

Thanks to a deal between Secretary of State Jan Brewer and Attorney General Terry Goddard, the November ballot describing Prop 102, Arizona’s latest anti-marriage amendment, will remind voters that Arizona law already bans same-sex marriage. This clarification is especially important this year with all the attention being given to California, where same-sex marriage is currently available. Not only is there intense national attention on California, but a large portion of Arizonans live in California media markets.

Similar language was placed on the ballot for a previous anti-marriage amendment in 2006. That amendment was defeated by nearly 3.6%, making Arizona the only state in the union to have turned back an attempt to further ban same-sex marriage in the constitution.

Prop 102 supporters have filed suit against Brewer and Goddard, demanding that any reference to state law be stripped from the ballot descriptions. The lawsuit, however, may be too late. The final go-ahead was given Tuesday night to start printing the publicity pamphlets, which will be sent to the home of every registered voter. The pamphlets, like the ballots themselves, will have the agreed-upon description.

Arizona has had a law banning same-sex marriage since 1996. That law also bans recognizing same-sex marriages conducted in other states. On October 8, 2003, a three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the Arizona Defense of Marriage law against a challenge brought by two men who were denied a marriage license by a court clerk. The Arizona Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal on May 25, 2004.

Supporters of Prop 102 have out-fundraised opponents by more than 150:1. Please support our campaign to defeat Prop 102 again.

Arizona - Vote No On Proposition 102 - Again!