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Posts for October, 2014

Supreme Court denies Alaska’s request for stay

Timothy Kincaid

October 17th, 2014

marriage 2014

Dark Purple – states with marriage equality
Light Purple – states in circuits in which marriage equality has been ruled.
Pink – states that recognize legal marriages from other places

The US Supreme Court has denied Alaska’s request for a stay. Marriage is now equal in 31 states plus the District of Columbia.

Alaska gets two day stay

Timothy Kincaid

October 15th, 2014

The State of Alaska asked for a stay to its marriage ruling. And by astonishing odds, two of the Ninth Circuit’s most conservative judges, Diarmuid O’Scannlain and Jay Bybee, were on the three judge panel deciding the matter. O’Scannlain and Bybee were two of the three judges who would have given Proposition 8 an en banc hearing.

However, things were different this time around.

Bybee sided with judge Marsha Berzon in denying stay at the Ninth Circuit level and in issuing a temporary two day stay for the state to appeal to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting a more permanent stay.

Which means that marriages will not begin first thing tomorrow in The Last Frontier, but rather at noon on Friday.

Marriage at the top of the world

Timothy Kincaid

October 14th, 2014

barrow weddingsAlthough Alaska state law requires a three day wait, Magistrate Mary Treiber waived the requirement and allowed two lesbian couples to marry. Which is a pleasant little story.

But perhaps more interesting is where this happened, the town of Barrow.

Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States, lying above the Arctic Circle and just 1,300 south of the North Pole. The population is less than 5,000.

Congratulations, ladies.

(ktuu.com)

Vladimir Putin Can See Gay Marriages From His House

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2014

The Land of Sarah Palin is now in the marriage equality column. In a surprise summary judgment — the surprise being that it came out on Sunday afternoon local time after having heard oral arguments Friday afternoon –Federal District Judge Timothy Burgess found (PDF: 206KB/25 pages) ” that Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same sex marriages lawfully entered in other states is unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

The ruling comes less than a week after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Alaska’s Federal Courts, overturned bans in Idaho and Nevada. The ruling takes effect immediately, and there was no stay issued with it. Nonetheless, Gov. Sean Parnell quickly announced that he would try to appeal the decision.

Alaska has a three day waiting period. While couples should be able to get marriage licenses on Monday, marriages may not take place before Thursday.

Alaska Supremes: tax discrimination against gay couples is unconstitutional

Timothy Kincaid

April 25th, 2014

Alaska is one of the three (and soon to be two) states in which there is not a current court challenge to anti-gay marriage bans. However, in a tax matter, the Alaska Supreme Court has just ruled that the state cannot discriminate against same-sex couples. (ACLU)

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled today that the state unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex couples by denying them equal access to a property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled veterans.

The rules were challenged by the ACLU of Alaska, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP on behalf of three couples who were denied full access to a $150,000 property tax exemption that Alaska makes available to opposite-sex married couples. Because same-sex couples cannot legally marry in Alaska, the state treated them as roommates rather than as families and let them get the exemption for only half of the value of their homes.

In 1998 Alaska amended its state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. As it seems unlikely that the state Supreme Court invalidated that constitutional provision, it will be interesting to see how this ruling is administered. It would seem that, in application, the court ruled that same-sex couples must be treated as though married.

NOMian reality

Timothy Kincaid

June 20th, 2013

Sometimes I think the National Organization for Marriage gets so caught up in their own spin that they have no notion of how surreal their proclamations sound. Consider this bit about Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s recent support for equality:

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, responded: “Senator Murkowski has sealed her political fate. Alaskans voted by an overwhelming majority (68%-32%) to protect marriage in their Constitution when given the opportunity, and an even stronger majority of Republicans in Alaska supported that move; thus, her betrayal of marriage is tantamount to political suicide.”

For those who have forgotten, in 2010 Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers ran a candidate against Murkowski in the Republican primary. She just wasn’t conservative enough for them. And when Joe Miller won the primary, they thought that Murkowski’s moderate positions had sealed her political fate.

But Murkowski ran a write-in campaign.

I don’t mean a third party ticket. I don’t mean being listed without a party. I mean that people had to pull out a pen and physically write her name down on their ballot. There hadn’t been a US Senate seat win by write-in ballot since Strom Thurmond in 1956.

Murkowski won. Miller challenged a bunch of the ballots due to misspellings of Murkowski’s name, but she still beat him. He sued and went to court claiming that there must have been fraud (cuz, really, how could that many people go write in her name?) and the courts still said that she won. The people had a choice between ticking the box for a NOM-approved candidate or remembering and writing in a difficult-to-spell name. They chose Murkowski.

So in just what surreal reality – let’s call it a NOMian reality – does Brown think that the Alaskan voters are going to replace Lisa Murkowski with a more conservative candidate?

Battered and Bruised

Jim Burroway

March 7th, 2012

Romney hangs in there again like a punch-drunk fighter staggering toward the finish of the sixth round (ooh look at me, I’m using a sports metaphor), picking up wins in six of the states up for grabs yesterday including a very hotly contested Ohio, where Santorum very nearly pulled off an upset. Romney did best in his home state of Massachusetts, and he did well in neighboring Vermont. He also did very well in the Idaho caucuses, where 23% of spudsters are fellow Mormons. There were no exit polls in Idaho, but in Arizona where Mormons made up 14% of the vote, they broke 96-4 for Romney on Feb 28.

Romney also did very well where he had very little actual competitors (Virginia, where Santorum and Gingrich weren’t on the ballot). Which is to say that he has done very well where he had the home field advantage (as did Gingrich) or where his most potent opponent was missing. Or Alaska.

AK GA ID MA ND
Romney 32% 26% 62% 72% 24%
Santorum 29% 20% 18% 12% 40%
Gingrich 24% 47% 2% 5% 8%
Paul 14% 6% 18% 10% 28%
OH OK TN VT VA
Romney 38% 28% 28% 40% 60%
Santorum 37% 34% 37% 24%
Gingrich 15% 27% 24% 8%
Paul 9% 10% 9% 25% 40%

Which goes to day that Romney is still having trouble closing the deal with Santorum racking up rack up wins in the more conservative middle bits of the continent. In Oklahoma, Santorum’s first place finish came in spite of Sen. Tom Coburn’s endorsement of Romney, while Romney actually came in third in North Dakota and just barely avoided that same fate in Oklahoma. And in Ohio, where Romney poured massive amounts of dollars into the race, he only managed to pull out a 1% win over Santorum in the bellwether state. But even there, he he lost among Evangelical, blue collar and rural voters, but won among those who were 50 and older.

But here’s the stat I find most telling: When Ohio voters were asked whether they’d support Romney in the general election regardless of who they voted for in the primary, 36% said they would not be satisfied with a Romney candidacy, versus 33% who said they’d reject a Santorum candidacy. In other words, Ohio Republicans are less willing to settle for Romney than Santorum.

Delegates
Romney 404
Santorum 165
Gingrich 106
Paul 66

But this is a race for delegates, not popular votes. And whatever weaknesses that exist in Romney’s popular support within the GOP, he’s still by far the frontrunner in the delegate race according to CNN’s count, with more delegates than his opponents combined. But at only about half way through the primaries, Romney’s still a long way from the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination. Kansas, US Virgin Islands and Guam hold caucuses next week, followed by primaries in Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii the week after that. Which means that for Romney, the long slog continues. But for the other candidates in the field, the slog is even longer.

The idea behind Super Tuesday was to bring the nomination process into clearer focus. The only thing made clear yesterday is that GOP voters would still prefer another candidates. But that’s not the choice available to them. Which means that Romney will almost certainly be the nominee when all is said and done, but what is said and done before then will continue to be the story. As Ezra Klein at the Washington Post put it, “For three guys who profess to not like the media very much, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are really making all our dreams of a long, unpredictable primary come true.”

It’s Pride Week…

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2011

New Yorkers were celebrating the passage of marriage equality on Friday night, on the eve of that city’s massive Pride celebration commemorating a raid on a gay bar on Christopher Street in 1969. Local police got in on the fun by staging a modern day raid on a gay bar on West 28th Street:

An unannounced inspection that several agencies carried out at a gay bar in Manhattan on Friday night occurred at nearly the same time that patrons were celebrating the passage of legislation in Albany legalizing same-sex marriage.

…“I was on the roof deck, smoking a cigar and having drinks with friends, and all of a sudden, the police showed up and started shining flashlights in everyone’s face and offending everyone,” said Thomas J. Shevlin, a financial markets researcher and the treasurer of the Stonewall Democratic Club.

…Along with flashlights being shined in people’s faces, lights were turned off and patrons were forced to empty their pockets “without probable cause,” Mr. Shevlin said.

And then there’s this in Chicago:

In what could be a hate crime, dozens of tires on floats headed for Chicago’s Pride Parade were cut with knifes just hours before the Parade Sunday.

Chuck Huser, owner of long-time Pride float provider Associated Attractions at 4834 S. Halsted on Chicago’s South Side, said the floats were fine when he left 8 p.m. Saturday night, but when he returned 5 a.m. Sunday to start preparation for drivers to depart, he found two tires punctured each on more than 30 floats.

“This is catastrophic,” he told Windy City Times at 8 a.m. June 26. “This has never happened before, and we have been doing this since 1989.”

And finally, some truly tragic news of a fatal accident that led to the cancellation of Anchorage’s Pride parade:

A convertible carrying the grand marshal in Saturday’s gay PrideFest parade struck and killed a man just as the event began in downtown Anchorage, police said. Police late Saturday identified the victim as 50-year-old James L. Crump of Anchorage. Crump worked as a registered nurse for the city’s Health and Human Services department and was walking in the annual parade, police said.

…”It’s a pure accident,” Frank said. “(The driver) just panicked and kept hitting the accelerator and it kept jumping forward.”

Maybe It Was The Line “Galileo Figaro”

Jim Burroway

May 13th, 2011

Dateline Wasilla:

The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reports today that the principal of Wasilla High School told members of the school’s symphonic jazz choir that they would not be allowed to perform the 1975 Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody” because Freddy Mercury, who wrote it, was gay.

In the face of student protests, and fearing ACLU involvement, the principal backed down–to a point.

The choir will be allowed to perform the song, but only in a censored version, without lyrics the principal deems objectionable.

In a lame face-saving move, principal Dwight Probasco decided to compromise by banning the lyrics about the singer having “just killed a man.” No word on whether “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” are allowed at hockey games. Joe McGinniss is having a field day on his blog, including a “separated at birth” photo of Probasco alongside Elton John that you absolutely have to see. His commenters are also getting in the spirit, including one Sandra Tompkins who re-wrote the lyrics of “Bohemian Rhapsody” just for Wasilla and its favorite daughter. It totally needs to go viral:

Click here to sing along to "Wasillian Rhapsody."

Lou Engle’s TheCall Announced for Wasilla, Detroit

Jim Burroway

April 20th, 2011
YouTube Preview Image

Lou Engle is taking his dominionist craziness of TheCall Crisis to the capital of crazy, Wasilla, Alaska. Why? “We believe that Alaska is key to the future of this nation,” he explains. Citing Oil, earthquakes, and apparently Johnny Cash, all signs point to Alaska as “a place of refuge for our nation.” Engle’s TheCall is part of a larger 2-day conference set for June 3-4.

Engle, who is transfixed by key numbers when they repeat themselves on the calendar, has also announced a gathering slated for Detroit on “11.11.11.” He is also a stealth supporter of Uganda’s “Kill-the-gays” bill.

Frum: Did California’s Marrying Gays Destroy Bristol Palin’s Marriage?

Jim Burroway

August 9th, 2010

Alaska was among the earliest states in the Union to pass a constitutional amendment in 1998 to ban same-sex marriage. Bristol Palin was nine years old at the time, which would be plenty of time to protect her marriage. Half her life, in fact. In another nine years she became pregnant and gave birth to Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston on December 27, 2008. She never married. She and the boy’s father, Levi Johnston have been off-again and on-again since then, but they are now back off again

And according to David Frum, this is precisely why last week’s decsision striking down Prop 8 is a danger to heterosexual marriages.  I kid you not.

Update: Frum’s last paragraph says, “The harm feared from same-sex marriage has already arrived: Whether same-sex marriage is accepted or not, opposite-sex marriage as a norm and expectation has already collapsed.” Maybe I misread, but I took this to mean that regardless of what the court finally decides, at least some of the “collapse” is attributed to same-sex marriage. That’s the premise he cited at the begining, and it’s where he appeared, to me at least, to be at the end — after having dismissed the racial discrimination claims pretty effectively. But of course that wasn’t NOM’s argument. In fact, in addressing NOM’s argument, he called their warnings about the supposed superiority of opposite-sex parents rasing children “important and valid.”

Maybe I misread it, maybe he’s inelegant in wrapping this up. Thank God, being confused or confusing isn’t a crime. But I still find his position unclear, and I struggle to understand whether he thinks there’s any connection or not.

Anchorage AK Mayor Dan Sullivan Endorses Anti-Gay Discrimination

Timothy Kincaid

August 17th, 2009

Of course the mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, has not formally announced that he supports and encourages anti-gay discrimination. But he might as well have.

Non-discrimination policies are hardly new, controversial, or unexpected. Currently 21 states, 85% of Fortune 500 companies, and dozens more cities and municipalities protect their gay and lesbian residents from discrimination in employment and housing. It is expected that Congress will pass with bi-partisan support, and the president will sign, a Employment Non-Discrimination Act into law.

So why then would Mayor Dan Sullivan veto a provision passed by the Anchorage assembly on a 7 to 4 vote?

“My review shows that there is clearly a lack of quantifiable evidence necessitating this ordinance,” the mayor said. “My review also shows that the vast majority of those who communicated their position on the ordinance are in opposition.”

In other words, the citizens want to discriminate against gay people… but gay people don’t need protection from this discrimination. Maybe it’s just the Monday blues, but I’m finding it difficult to fathom an interpretation of this statement that isn’t an unstated endorsement of anti-gay discrimination.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin Announced Her Resignation — 23 Days from Now

Jim Burroway

July 3rd, 2009
Gov. Sarah Palin (Shawn Wilson/KTUU-DT)

Gov. Sarah Palin (Shawn Wilson/KTUU-DT)

She gave no reason as far as I could tell from her long, rambling speech — unless it had something to do with Seward’s Folly and Alaska being the air transport crossroads of the world. Her resignation doesn’t take effect until July 26. Something tells me that in the unpredictable realm of Palin-land, just about anything can and might happen in the next twenty-three days.

YouTube Preview Image

Claiming the Antichrist Will be Gay can Make You Look Like an Idiot

Timothy Kincaid

May 30th, 2009

Tim LaHaye’s popular Left Behind novels are a series of fictional tales about the lives of those in the battle of good v. evil after The Rapture takes place and Jesus calls all the saved Christians to Heaven. His archvillian, Nicolae Carpathia, is the Antichrist, the world leader who declares himself God and fights against the forces of Jesus Christ.

As an anti-gay activist and author of the homophobic screed What Everyone Should Know About Homosexuality, it’s little surprise that LaHaye makes his Antichrist the son of pernicious Satan-worshiping homosexuals.

But now a Baptist pastor in Alaska has gone LaHaye one better. Believing that “there is no greater sin against God”, he naturally jumped to the conclusion that the Anti-Christ himself will be gay.

But will the Antichrist be a homosexual? Having seen what the Bible says of sodomy, we have no further to look than the book of Daniel, chapter 11 to find our answer. It says, “Neither shall he [Antichrist] regard… the desire of women….” As I said at the onset, I am not the first to draw attention to this, but the verbiage is clear.

Ron Hamman, pastor of the Independent Baptist Church of Wasilla, has written a Religion View in his local paper, the Frontiersman. Poor Hamman, if he weren’t from Sarah Palin’s home town, no one would pay him much attention. But having set himself up for mockery, it’s only fair that I point out that Pastor Hamman is nearly biblically illiterate as well at intellectually challenged.

Many readers will just laugh or wonder why we are wasting time on this story. But I’ll give Pastor Hamman the courtesy of responding to his great announcement on his own terms. And it is on those terms that Hamman’s argument fails. Miserably.

Perhaps unknown to Hamman, “the verbiage” he’s quoting wasn’t written in English. And though it truly is clear, it doesn’t support his rather irrational assumptions.

Hamman, like many a conservative preacher, only trusts the King James Version of the Bible. So his source for the quote above is Daniel 11:37.

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

We’ll assume for a minute that Hamman is correct in believing that this prophesy of Daniel refers to the apocryphal character known as the Antichrist. We’ll even set aside the irony that Daniel was a eunuch and suppose that “not regarding the desire of women” could mean homosexuality.

But Hamman forgot about context. And original meaning. And the fact that this verse was written in Hebrew. Had he just taken a second to go online and check another translation, he would have realized that this had nothing to do with sexuality at all. Rather, all of what “the king” was magnifying himself above were gods. Here’s the same verse, in the context of the surrounding verses, from the New International Version.

36 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. 38 Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39 He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.

Alas, poor Hamman. Had he gone to Divinity School, or picked up any study reference, or discussed it with any literate Christian, he would have known that he was basing his entire claim on a misreading of a single verse taken out of context.

Now he just looks like an idiot.

Arson Suspected At Sarah Palin’s Church, Gays Blamed

Jim Burroway

December 16th, 2008

The Wasilla Bible Church in Wasilla, Alaska, burned Friday night. Investigators have discovered that an accelerant was poured at several locations around the church, including the exits, and set afire. The fact that the fire was set at the church’s exits is particularly disturbing because five members of the congregation were inside at the time. No one was injured, but the fire caused more than $1 million in damage.

Wasilla Bible Church became famous when one of its members, Alaska governor Sarah Palin, became the GOP vice-presidential candidate. The church became embroiled in controversy when it was learned that it was promoting a Love Won Out ex-gay conference in nearby Anchorage.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which is leading the arson investigation, issued a statement saying, “There is no information that the fire was politically motivated.”

Which of course, explains why anti-gay extremists are putting the accusation out there that “radical homosexual activists” are responsible (“we don’t know if this arson and attempted murder was perpetrated by advocates of homosexual marriage…”). I mean, who else could it be? Certainly not bored teenagers, a disgruntled church or community member, someone with a personal ax to grind against a particular church member, or perhaps someone with a mental illness. No siree, it couldn’t be any of those.

I know what it is to be the victim of an arson fire based on firsthand experience. It’s very unsettling, to say the very least.  The people of Wasilla Bible Church will most certainly rebuild the charred walls of their church. I hope they will also be able to quickly rebuild the sense of safety they found within those walls. And I hope the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice, whoever they are. Even if they are “radical homosexual activists.”

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