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“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 April, 2013

My Brush With Celebrities

Jim Burroway

April 4th, 2013

That’s Kathy Snowden and Deborah Grier, the proprieters of Finders Keepers Antiques and Collectables, my favorite antique store in Bisbee, Arizona, which is saying something because tiny “Keep Bisbee Freeky” has quite a selection of antique stores and junk shops to chose from. Kathy and Deboray, who have been together for twenty years, are some of the nicest people you will ever know, and I was thrilled to see their photo illustrating this story in USA Today about how Bisbee wound up becoming a center of statewide and national attention in the battle for marriage equality:

Grant Sergot, 63, who is heterosexual and has lived in Bisbee for nearly 40 years where he owns Óptimo Hatworks, described Bisbee as a “well-informed and educated community.”

“Very independent-type people live here, free-thinking people,” he said.

Kathy Sowden, who has been with her partner for 20 years and owns Finders Keepers Antiques and Collectibles, said a civil ordinance seemed natural for Bisbee.

“We’re a border town,” she said. “We thrive on diversity. It’s not surprising at all that little Bisbee is the first to do this.”

(By the way, I also have two custom-fit hats from Óptimo Hatworks.)

The town’s Civil Unions ordinace was staunchly opposed by several of the town’s churches, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, and the Center for Arizona Policy (a Focus On the Family state policy council). But as Mark Hundley told the packed council chambers Tuesday, in answer to remarks made by some of those religious opponents, “I am not an abomination. It’s strange to have to say that.” The Bisbee council agreed, and voted 5-2 to make civil unions legal.

You can read more about what I love about Bisbee here. And maybe next time I’m in Bisbee, maybe I’ll finally break down and get that Roseville vase I’ve had my eye on at Kathy and Deborah’s shop.

Bisbee AZ Authorizes Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

April 3rd, 2013

The tiny southeastern Arizona town of Bisbee — pop: 6,000; unofficial motto: “Keep Bisbee freaky;” located just four miles from the Mexican border —  has adopted an ordinance to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples. The terms of the city’s civil unions are extremely limited: while it covers joint property ownership, property inheritance, guardianship and adoption rights, it only applies within the city’s boundaries, which effectively makes it no different from a number of domestic partnership registries in Tucson, Phoenix, and other Arizona cities. Bisbee City Attorney John MacKinnon acknowledged that in the end, the ordinance’s impact will apply only to things within the city’s control, such as personnel policies.

But it’s the term “civil unions” which has caught Arizona’s conservatives off guard. Who knew that they would suddenly become all riled up over the sanctity of civil unions?

And just hours before the meeting, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, at the urging of state lawmakers from Cochise County, sent a letter warning Bisbee that his office would take legal action against the city if council members approved the ordinance.

Horne said Bisbee does not have the authority to offer civil unions and that “the impact goes beyond (city) boundaries.”

MacKinnon, referring to Horne and the state, said: “They chose to interpret it broadly. We believe this was a desire to make a political statement.”

MacKinnon said he was proud to bring the issue to the council. “I think for too long many of us have been silent while we have witnessed discrimination against some in this community,” he said. “It’s time to stand up.”

In fact, state law does not address domestic partnerships or civil unions. Arizona voters in 2006 refused to adopt Prop 108, a constitutional amendment which would have banned domestic partnerships and civil unions in addition to same-sex marriage. In 2008, conservatives placed Prop 102 on the ballot to ban same-sex marriage only. That proposition passed by a margin of 56% to 44%.

However, there is a possibility that Bisbee’s civil unions ordinance may be successfully challenged in court. The ordinance addresses, for example adoption rights, which are regulated by state law. These clauses are moot in the city of Bisbee since there are no adoption agencies in the city. But even if there were, those agencies would be regulate by state law, which cannot be superseded by a city ordinance. Horne has promised to challenge the law in court. The Center for Arizona Policy, an official state policy council for Focus On the Family, has also promised to sue, and threatened additionally to bankrupt the city.

And you can safely bet your life savings that the neanderthal state legislature will quickly act to patch any other legal holes they can find to ban local governments from recognizing same-sex relationships altogether. After all, it’s one of two things our state government loves to do more than anything else in the world. The other is panicking over made-up stores about kidnapping, headless corpses and other wild imaginings from the anti-immigration crowd.

In 2010, Bisbee was named the gay-friendliest city in Arizona. You can read more about  Bisbee here.

“Show Me Your Papers Before You Pee”

Jim Burroway

March 19th, 2013

Cathi Herrod, of the Center for Arizona Policy (an official state affailiate of Focus On the Family) is shopping a proposal around to Arizona state legislators:

Now there is a “bathroom bill” before the state Legislature — “show me your papers” before you pee. Read it:

A PERSON COMMITS DISORDERLY CONDUCT IF THE PERSON INTENTIONALLY ENTERS A PUBLIC RESTROOM, BATHROOM, SHOWER, BATH, DRESSING ROOM OR LOCKER ROOM AND A SIGN INDICATES THAT THE ROOM IS FOR THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF PERSONS OF ONE SEX AND THE PERSON IS NOT LEGALLY CLASSIFIED ON THE PERSON’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE AS A MEMBER OF THAT SEX.

The targets are transgender residents of Arizona. They would be committing a crime (a misdemeanor) by using the wrong bathroom with the wrong birth certificate. (Moms and dads would be allowed to bring opposite sex kids into the bathroom with them.)

Acording to Arizona Repiblic’s Brahm Resnik , “The new bathroom bill, SB 1432, is a ‘strike-everything’ bill inserted in the shell of another bill that had the same number.”  The original SB 1432 was supposed to deal with the licensing of massage therapists. A hearing is set for 2:00 p.m. tomorrow before GOP State Rep. John Kavanagh’s House Appropriations Committee.

Jeez, I live in a total freak-show of a state.

Update: From the Arizona House of Representative’s web site:

Overview:

SB 1432 requires the Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy (Board) to appoint an Executive Director (Director), outlines the Director’s powers and duties and establishes the Board’s fund.

Summary of the Proposed Strike-Everything Amendment to SB 1432

The proposed strike-everything amendment to SB 1432 is an emergency measure that adds a person who intentionally enters a specified area designated for the opposite sex to the disorderly conduct statutory classification, with exemptions.

History:
Arizona Revised Statutes Title 13, Chapter 29 establishes offenses against public order.  Specifically, statute outlines offenses classified as disorderly conduct, which include a person committing any of the following:

  • Engaging in fighting, or violent disruptive behavior,
  • Making unreasonable noise,
  • Using abusive or offensive language to provoke an immediate physical retaliation by another,
  • Preventing the transaction of business of a lawful meeting or gathering,
  • Refusing to obey a lawful order to disperse issued to maintain public safety, or
  • Recklessly handling, or discharging a deadly weapon.

Provisions:

  • States a person commits disorderly conduct if they intentionally enter a public restroom, bathroom, shower, bath, dressing room or locker room, and a sign indicates that the room is exclusively for the use of one sex, and that person is not legally classified as a member of that sex on their birth certificate.
  • Classifies the disorderly conduct violation as a Class 1 misdemeanor (6 months/$2,500).
  • Provides an exemption from the violation for persons that:
    • Enter as part of their job responsibilities,
    • Enter to give aid or assistance to another,
    • Is a child in need of assistance, or
    • Are physically disabled.
  • Contains an emergency clause.
  • Makes a conforming change.

The amended Section 1.  Section 13-2904 as proposed is shown here.

Arizona man files paperwork to start reversing marriage ban

Timothy Kincaid

November 20th, 2012

I love Arizona politics. Half the stories I read, I have to check that I haven’t wandered onto The Onion’s satire page. (East Valley Tribune)

Tanner Pritts has formed Arizona Advocates for Marriage Equality. But he also has filed the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office to allow him to start raising money for a 2014 campaign.

The initiative drive, if successful, would put the issue back on the ballot just six years after Arizonans voted by a 56-44 margin to define marriage in the state constitution as solely between one man and one woman.

…Pritts said he is a registered Republican and voted in 2008 for John McCain and just this year for Mitt Romney, both of whom are on record as opposing same-sex marriage. Pritts said, though, he is hoping to convince the GOP to alter its stance on the issue.

Okay, so Pritts is a bit naive.

But it’s Arizona. Anything could happen.

(ps. this should be a Jim Burroway story, but he’s enjoying family time where every third block is not a TimeWarner WiFi hotspot)

Babeu wins in Arizona

Timothy Kincaid

November 14th, 2012

Amidst the many wins for our community – marriage, legislators, and even the first openly gay US Senator (no, a certain bachelor from a southern state doesn’t count) – it was difficult to note all the changes and interesting results of the election. And one story which I had been following was overlooked.

Paul Babeu, the openly gay conservative sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, was re-elected. Also elected was Lando Voyles, Babeu’s hand-picked candidate for Pinal County Attorney.

This is an interesting turn of events in that it runs counter to presumptions about rural conservatives and anti-gay attitudes.

Paul Babeu sought to leverage his position as Sheriff into a Congressional seat. But in February, the Phoenix New Times – disliking Babeu’s political positions – ran a story on him which was designed to discredit him with his constituents. Assuming that those who supported Babeu would desert him if they knew he was gay, they ran a story about him threatening a former boyfriend with deportation. To their surprise, Babeu immediately acknowledged his orientation – and endorsed marriage equality and open military service – but fought the accusation of misuse of power.

Over the next month, the Phoenix New Times doubled down on their story, regularly adding sensational tidbits, seeming to hope that Pinal County voters would be turned off by seeing their sheriff in his underwear (provided by the ex-boyfriend) or reading his personal text messages. In the process, they veered into blatant homophobia, calling for Babeu to be fired for joining a gay dating site and ratcheting up the implication, “don’t vote for Babeu, see he’s GAY!!” And Babeu eventually dropped out of his congressional race and ran for reelection as Sheriff.

However, by the end of their effort, it seemed increasingly evident that this was a personal vendetta for the New Times and they lost much of their credibility. Rather than discredit Babeu with his constituents, this may have became a moment when they decided that they preferred openly gay, marriage-supporting conservatives to straights who they believed would be less law-and-order. And so not only did they reelect Babeu, but they confirmed his choice for County Attorney. Which, while odd progress, is progress.

It will be interesting to see how this develops.

When gay Democrats began to gain access and influence a few decades back, it was not always with joyous acclaim; there were period of tolerance in which some more conservative or older Democrats may not have supported our rights but were willing to work with specific gay politicians. They were seen as “our gay politician”, accepted despite long-established prejudices. And slowly, through time and familiarity, “our gay politicians” broke down stereotypes and presumptions. Though I’m no fan of Barney Frank, he was effective in transforming many Democratic leaders from being tolerant of “our gay politician” to support for the gay community.

I think that for many Pinal County Republicans, Paul Babeu might be seen “our gay politician”. They may be unsupportive of our community in general and even dislike “those other liberal gay politicians”, but be able to find ownership of this one. I wonder if Babeu can be effective in gradually breaking stereotypes and engendering support.

Minnesota Was NOT the First State To Defeat A Constitutional Ban on Same Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

That distinction goes to Arizona, which became the first state to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in 2006 when voters rejected Prop 107 by a margin of 48.2% to 51.8%. Prop 107 would have been a comprehensive ban, prohibiting same-sex marriages as well as any “legal status for unmarried persons… that is similar to that of marriage.” That was the sticking point for Arizona’s large number of co-habiting seniors who remain unmarried in order to protect their pension benefits. Once that clause was removed, Prop 102 passed in 2008.

A lot of people are celebrating Minnesota’s defeat of Amendment 1. I, too, am overjoyed to see Minnesota — as Midwestern a state as they come — declaring that discrimination stops here. But it is really bugging the hell out of me to see so many media outlets proclaiming Minnesota as the “first state in the nation” to reject a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. That is not correct. I live in one of the most god-awful, backward and angry states in the union, but for two lovely years from 2006 to 2008, my adopted home held the distinction for being the only state to turn down a marriage amendment, and it will always remain the first to do so.

So that truly wonderful feeling that Minnesotans are feeling right now? That feeling that the world has changed in a most woderful way? That feeling that you get when you look at your neighbors with the confidence of knowing that they also see you as their neighbor in a way you perhaps hadn’t felt before? I know that feeling very well, and I’m thrilled that others are feeling it again today. And I’m not giving that memory up. It’s one of the very few proud memories around here to hold on to.

Voters Send Record Number of LGBT Pols to Washington

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

“Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin’s first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member,” Baldwin said to loud cheers and chants of “Tammy, Tammy!” from her supporters. “But I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.”

Yesterday’s election was a watershed moment for LGBT equality. Not only did voters defeat attempts to deny marriage equality in four states at the ballot box, but a record number of LGBT representatives will be going to Washington to serve in Congress, including the nation’s first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin (D) from Wisconsin. With 99.6% of the vote counted, Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) 1,528,941 (51.5%) to ,363,994 (45.9%).

Five other openly gay representatives have won their races for Congress. Returning to Congress are Jared Polis (D-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI). New gay members include Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Mark Pocan (D-WI). Pocan made history himself be becoming the first openly gay representative to take over a House seat from another openly gay representative when he won Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s old seat.

Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (D) leads in a tight race over former Paradise Vally mayor Vernon Walker (R) to become the first openly bi member of Congress. All precincts have been reported, but there are still a number of provisional ballots to be counted, making a final call in that race impossible.

Click here to see the latest results for Congress.

Election Liveblog

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2012

2:00 EST: One more thing:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Retention Vote:
David Wiggins:
Yes (retain): 54% 
No: 46%
83% reporting.

NOM is having a very bad night. A historically bad night. I’m going to bed now and I will sleep very, very soundly.

1:39 EST: President Obama is now giving his victory speech. And with that, I’m going to sign off for the night. I will provide an update with the latest results again tomorrow morning.

1:30 EST: Here is a rundown of all of the LGBT-related races I’ve been following:

BALLOT MEASURES:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.2% √
No: 45.8%
58.1% reporting.

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.2% 
No: 48.1%
96.8% reporting.

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 49.2.5%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 49.2%
67.4% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.8.9%
No: 48.2%
49.9% reporting.

SENATE RACE:

Wisconsin:
Tammy Baldwin (D, openly lesbian): 51.2%
Tommy Thompson (R): 46.2.%
86.8% reporting.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES:

Arizona:
Kyrsten Sinema (D, openly bi): 47.4%
Vernon Parker (R): 46.3%
86% reporting.

California:
Mark Takano (D, openly gay): 54.4%
John Tavaglione (R): 45.6%
13% reporting.

Colorado:
Jared Polis (D, openly gay): 54.6%
Kevin Lundberg (R): 40.4%
45.3% reporting.

Massachusetts:
Richard Tisei (R, openly gay): 47.1%
John Tierney (D) 48.4%
98.3% reporting.

New York:
Sean Patrick Maloney (D, openly gay): 51.7%
Nan Hayworth (R): 48.3%
96.7% reporting.

Rhode Island:
David Cicilline (D, openly gay): 53.1%
Brendan Dohert (R): 40.7%
97.0% reporting

Wisconsin:
Mark Pocan (D, openly gay): 67.4%
Chad Lee (R): 32.6%
90.5% reporting.

12:55 EST: Gov. Mitt Romney is now giving a very classy consession speech, congratulating President Obama for his win.

12:50 EST: Here is a rundown of the ballot measures addressing same-sex marriage. Voters in two states have approved marriage equality. Voters in Washington are on their way to approving marriage equality, and Minnesota voters look poised to turn down a proposal to write a permanent ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution. After voters in 30 states have written marriage equality bans into their state constitutions, we now have a remarkable turnaround in 2012. Remember this day.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54% 
No: 46%
51% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52% 
No: 48%
93% Reporting

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 48.5%
Blanks: 3.7%
Yes: 47.9%
53% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52%
No: 48%
50% reporting.

12:40 EST: Tammy Baldwin has now given her victory speech. With 79% reporting, she has defeated Gov. Tommy Thompson 51-47%, making her the first openly gay Senator in American history.

12:38 EST: Now I’m ready to call Maryland’s Question 6 a win for equality! With 92% reporting, Question 6 has passed 1,126,598 to 1,050,179 (52-48%) Maryland voters have joined those in Maine to approve marriage equality at the ballot box. I don’t know about you, but this really feels like a truly historic turning point.

12:30 EST: Colorado has now gone to Obama, bringing his lead to 290-201. There’s a lot of talk about whether Ohio was prematurely declared, but even if Ohio went red, this would still be Obama’s victory. An ugly one, especially if he doesn’t win the popular vote, but it is a win.

12:28 EST: Another gay congressman is headed to Washington. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) has defeated Rep. Nan Hayworth (R), 52%-48%.

12:15 EST: Believe it or not, Politico has had the results swapped between Question 6 and the “Illegal immigrant tuition” question all night long. For the love of god!!!  Question 6 is up, but only 52-48%, way too early to call.

12:00 EST: With 44.1% reporting in Maine, Question 1 is projected to win!

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.4%
No: 45.6%
44.1% Reporting

11:45 EST: With 81% reporting in Maryland, Question 6 is projected to win!

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
81% Reporting

11:31 EST: Remember James Hartline?

I took my Bible with me today and proudly honored God with my decisions. I refused to vote for the demonized Mormon Cultist Mitt Romney or Obama. Instead, like nearly two million other voters, I marked other and wrote in Jesus.

11:30 EST: Has Tammy Baldwin won her Senate race? Reuters called it, but right now with 53% reporting, she is only up 49-48%. She may yet win, but it looks like a lot of folks might have jumped the gun a bit.

11:23 EST: CNN has given Ohio to Obama. President Barack Obama, the most pro-gay president in American history, has been re-elected.

11:05 EST: A slew of new projections has put Obama on top 243-191. Ohio continues to lean toward Romney, but CNN is now mapping out multiple possibilities for Obama to win even without Ohio.

Here are the state marriage ballot measures. All of them are still looking good so far.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 53%
No: 47%
30% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
55% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 52%
Blanks: 3.8%
Yes: 45%
19% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:55 EST: Obama is now tied with Romney, 172-172. Ohio is leaning toward Obama, and FLorida and Virginia are very nearly tied so far. It’s going to be a long night.

10:35 EST: Great news so far in the three states with marriage on the ballot that are reporting:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 55%
No: 45%
16% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 60%
No: 40%
41% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 57%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 42%
7% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:25 EST. In Rhode Island, it looks like openly gay Rep. David Cicilline has defeated Republican challenger Brendan Doherty. With 82% reporting, Cicilline is ahead 50-44%.

In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei is trailing in his question to become the first openly gay Republican congressman. Rep. John Tierney is leading 49-47% with 58% reporting.

10:15 EST: We can celebrate Tammy Baldwin’s win now. Fox News is projecting that she will be the new fabulously openly lesbian Senator from Wisconsin. History is made!

Question 1 in Maine is now tightening. With 11% reporting, it is now up 53-47%.

10:00 EST: Mitt Romney has won his home state of Utah. But he lost New Hampshire

With 7% reporting, Question 1 is passing in Maine, 55-45%.

With 23% reporting, Question 6 is passing in Maryland, 61-39%.

With only 3% reporting, Amendment 1 is trailing in Minnesota. 61-38%, with about 1.5% of the ballots blank for the proposed amendment. Blank ballots are will be counted as no votes.

9:45 EST: CNN Projects Elizabeth Warren (D) has unseated Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts, and JOe Donnelly (D) has defeated Richard Mourdock (R) in Indiana. God’s will, you know. These are both pick-ups for Dems.

9:42 EST: NBC and Fox have given Wisconsin to Obama. CNN has finally given Pennsylvania to Obama also.

9:35 EST: The Associated Press has declared Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) the winner in her Senate race against former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), making Baldwin the first openly gay Senator in U.S. history. Oops, take that back. The AP has NOT called for Baldwin.

9:20 EST: Fox called Pennsylvania for Obama. I’ll take it.

9:15 EST: Vote counts for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1 are excruciatingly slow. With 3% counted in Maine, Question 1 is trailing 4,253-5,362. In Maryland, Question 6 is passing 192,860-157,767 with only 1% of the vote counted. Obviously with vote tallies this low, it’s way to early to see any trends.

9:00 EST: Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Last polls close in Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas. And with it, a whole slew of new projecitons, mostly lining up with expectations. So far, it looks like the red states are going heavily red, while the blue states are slower to come in. Right now, Romney is up 152-123.

CNN says that the Republicans will hold on to the House. Obama is getting a lot of grief for not campaigning in key House races on behalf of Democratic candidates.

8:50 EST: Alabama is red. Romney is up 82-64.

People are still in line in Florida and Virginia, even as polls have officially closed. Those who are in line will get to vote. Twitter hashtag #stayinline is now trending upward. It sure would have been nice if someone had mentioned to Florida and Virginia election officials that they were supposed to be ready for an election today.

8:30 EST: Polls just closed in Arkansas, which CNN has called for Romney. CNN has also called Tennessee as well, putting Romney ahead 73-64.

So far, only about 1% of the results are in for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1, which means that there aren’t enough results to talk about yet.

8:25 EST: In the Senate races, it looks like the Angus King, the independent candidate for Maine’s Senator to replace Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) is headed to Washington. He hasn’t said which party he will caucus with, but most observers expect that he will caucus with the Dems. Another possible pickup for the Dems might be Joe Donnelly, who is leading Richard Mourdock by 50-44% with 30% of the votes counted. Mourdock, you may recall, got in trouble during the debate when he said that when a child is born as a result of rape, it’s God’s will.

8:16 EST: Georgia now goes to Romney, bringing the EC count to 64-56 for Obama.

8:00 EST: Polls have now closed in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

CNN has called a Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for Obama, and Oklahoma for Romney. This puts Obama up 64-40 in the Electoral College, with Maine splitting its vote 3-1 for Obama. (Nebraska is the only other state that is not winner-take-all in the Electoral College.)

Virginia officially closed but:

Polls closed in Virginia at 7 p.m. ET, but with long lines at polling places around the state — and those in line still able to vote — the state is delaying counting votes so as not to unduly influence those still waiting in line. Smart move.

7:43 EST: CNN has now called South Carolina and West Virginia for Romney. Not much of a surprise. It’s now Romney, 33-3 in the electoral count.

Polls close in Maryland and Maine at 8:00. Hopefully we’ll start to get an early look at the marriage ballot measures in those states soon after.

7:30 EST: Polls have now closed in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. CNN’s exit poll has Obama up by 3 in Ohio and tied in North Carolina.

7:19 EST: CNN has called Kentucky for Romney, and Vermont for Obama, which means that Romney leads the electoral college count 8-3. And we’re off!

7:00 EST: Polls have closed in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. First results will probably begin within the half hour. Here are the races I’ll be watching, in addition to the presidential election and any others you think I should keep an eye out for.

Consider the comments thread for this post an open thread, which I’ll be watching for whatever tips you have. And jokes. We may need some jokes. Or videos of cute kittens. Whatever you got. You can also email them by hitting the Contact Us link on the sidebar.

No Supreme Court Action on Prop 8, DOMA Cases; NOM’s Finance Disclosure Appeal Denied (Again)

Jim Burroway

October 1st, 2012

The orders page is out for today, with no mention of the Prop 8 case (Hollingsworth v. Perry) or the Defense of Marriage Act Challenge (Windsor v. US). Which means that the court has neither denied nor granted cert to review the cases. There is increasing speculation that the court may not take action on these cases until November when at least three more cases challenging DOMA will be available for review by the Justices.

There are two other LGBT related cases before the court. Diaz v. Brewer, challenging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s attempt to withdraw domestic partner benefits from state employees. The court has taken no action on that case yet

But in National Organization for Marriage v. McKee, in which NOM is again trying to get the Supreme Court’s attention in its efforts to circumvent Maine’s finance disclosure laws, the supreme court denied NOM’s request for certiorari. The Supreme Court refused to hear an earlier similar challenge from NOM in February.

 

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.

Babeu wins sheriff nomination

Timothy Kincaid

August 29th, 2012

Three months ago Paul Babeu dropped out of the race for Congress amidst a bit of a media circus. It went something like this:

The Phoenix New Times ran a story claiming that Babeu, as Sheriff of Pinal County, threatened to have a former boyfriend deported to Mexico if he disclosed their relationship. The paper demanding an investigation. Babeu responded by announcing that he is indeed gay but that the rest of their charges were false.

After a few more stories it became clear that the New Times was under the impression that by outing Babeu they could end his political career and that the boyfriend story was a vehicle to that end.

Especially disconcerting was an article ran by the New Times which consisted, frankly, of homophobic gay baiting. They ran a shirtless picture of Babeu from a dating website (calling it “sexually explicit”) and posted a picture of him in his underwear which was not on the site (provided by his former boyfriend – a man whose identity they and other media sought to shield). They insinuated that membership in a gay dating site should result in his being fired, equating it to porn production.

The New Times also sought quotes from his primary opponents, particularly State Senator Ron Gould, who ran an ad saying that Washington needs “a straight shooter”. They finally lost all credibility (with me, anyway) when they started running “caption that photo” contests with the pictures given to them by Babeu’s ex-beau.

Additional allegations arose about him dating a former student in Massachusetts. And a panel was assigned the task of looking at the whole mess. On May 11, he dropped out of the congressional race. I pretty much thought at that point that the Phoenix New Times had accomplished their goal and that Paul Babeu’s life in politics was over.

But to their surprise – and mine – his very conservative constituents did not denounce him. Instead, many seemed to rally around him and offer support. Rather than give up on public life, Babeu seems to have decided to broker for even stronger power in Pinal County. Choosing to run again for the office of Sheriff, he formed an alliance with a fellow Republican running for county attorney and a few county supervisor candidates.

And it seems that the Republican voters of Pinal County didn’t much care that Babeu is gay, supports marriage equality, and has a hook-up site membership. They overwhelmingly nominated him for reelection, giving him over 60% of the vote against three opponents. His political allies had mixed results, and “straight shooter” Gould lost the primary, so – depending on how the vote goes in November – it appears that Babeu has come out of the situation with increased influence.

The New Times is plenty bitter about Babeu’s win.

Babeu banks on conservative support

Timothy Kincaid

February 27th, 2012

The Washington Blade has interviewed Paul Babeu, recently outed conservative sheriff of Penal County, AZ:

In an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade, Paul Babeu, who’s running to represent Arizona’s 4th congressional district in Congress, said his election would be “very impactful and helpful” in changing “the views, perceptions, beliefs about who we are.”

“If they know me first as a sheriff, as a police officer who has responded to, literally, thousands and thousands of emergencies, has fought criminals, has actually saved lives and served our country in the military for 20-plus years … and when regular people see those accomplishments and those results first, then understand at a later point that I am gay, it changes people’s beliefs and perceptions and understanding,” Babeu said.

While this may seem a bit like wishful hoping, it is possible that we are watching a social shifting right before our eyes.

When this story broke, I expected the usual. Babeu would bluster and slink off, Republican leaders would be “hurt by his deception” and the everyone, right and left, would agree that his presumed guilt over the abuse of power allegations was what they found objectionable.

But to my surprise, the revelation about his orientation and accusations of abuse of power did not result in broad rejection from the right. Even with the charge of abuse as a handy cover for homophobia, the Republican Party leadership didn’t jump.

When the Phoenix New Times looked for quotes from those calling for Babeu’s resignation or investigation, they were limited to his primary opponents and pro-immigrant activists. In contrast, on Saturday night, the California Rifle and Pistol Association honored him with their Defender of Freedom Award.

For me, this is a story that is difficult to process. As much as I long for the day in which one’s orientation plays no role in evaluation one’s worth, I do not see that day as here. Like the first poll that reported a majority support for equality, I do not accept one instance as compelling evidence.

But I do think I may be seeing an interesting political development. For some, Paul Babeu may have become an opportunity to jab at The Liberals and take them on at their own issue. For some, this could be seen as an opportunity to, in effect, say, “see, we aren’t homophobic. We aren’t attacking this gay man, you are!”

But for perhaps more, Babeu’s outing has done the unexpected. He may be right. As unlikely as it sounds, Babeu may be changing the minds of his constituents.

At a meeting of the Yavapai Tea Party, the discussion about the sheriff did not play by script. (Arizona Daily Star)

Yet voters, Republican voters in particular, are also asking some questions of themselves, about acceptance and identity and values, about what really matters most to them.

Said Bill Halpin, a 64-year-old ex-Air Force pilot who serves on the local tea party board: “I care less. I just care less. Don’t preach it on me. Don’t push it on me and, by golly, I respect your rights.”

Mona Patton, the 60-year-old real estate agent who is the group’s president, put it this way: “I’m a Christian, but who am I to make a judgment about somebody else?

“I still believe in him. I still back him.”

It is impossible to tell at this point to what extent the perception of Paul Babeu as “our guy” will outweigh long-held beliefs about homosexuality. And the answer to that question may never be known.

Because there is another twist to the story. An Arizona ABC affiliate is claiming that a private school for troubled youth that Paul Babeu ran from 1999 to 2001 had abusive correction policies. That’s not the issue; frankly, getting tough with troubled teens is not going to be seen as a negative by Babeu’s constituents.

But sleeping with them will be. And Babue’s sister Lucy is claiming that he had a relationship with a 17 year old student while he was headmaster of The DeSisto School.

This could be the final straw. This could sink his campaign. Even though a 17 year old is above the age of consent in Massachusetts, sex with teenagers – especially those under your supervision – is not acceptable to rural Arizona voters.

But it is still possible that this could be taken differently. If Babeu denies the charge and can reasonably paint his sister as having suspect motivations, there is a remote chance that it may actually help him. If conservative voters see this as an aggressive witch hunt by the Liberal Media, it could position him as a symbol around which to rally.

Regardless of how this all turns out, it is fascinating to watch. I am truly amazed.

UPDATE: AZCapitalTimes has fuller coverage of the Yavapai meeting. It will leave you wondering if this is an anomaly or if while we were busy battling the professional anti-gays, the world shrugged and decided to take a giant step forward.

Legal Uncertainties Increase For Orosco, Babeu

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2012

The Arizona Daily Star looked into the 10-year tourist visa that Jose Orosco holds:

Tucson immigration attorney Mo Goldman explained to me that no 10-year visa would permit a visaholder to stay in the country longer than six months at a time.

A border-crossing card is valid for 10 years but permits a holder to stay in the country only up to 30 days. The holder must remain in the border zone, which does not stretch as far north Phoenix, Goldman said. If the person fills out an I-94 form and is permitted into the country with a 10-year tourist visa, the holder can stay up to six months at a time but then must return to their country of origin. Neither visa permits the holder to work while in the country.

There is a way for a person to extend his stay beyond six months, but even that extension only allows six additional months, Goldman said.

All of this raises some serious questions about whether Orosco is in this country legally. It is also raising questions about whether Babeu, who made a huge splash as an anti-illigal immigration spokesperson, harbored an illegal immigrant:

“I think the sheriff’s got a problem if that’s what was going on. He’s got a big problem,” (immigration attorney David) Leopold said. “If they indicted him and charged him, there might be some meat to it.”

It’s possible that Babeu could say that the subject never came up or that he was fooled by his ex-boyfriend. But even that might be a hard sell, given Babeu’s expertise on immigration matters and his role as an investigator.

Plus, Leopold said, the subject almost always comes up. “Based on my experience with families with people that don’t have documents, it comes up pretty quickly,” he said. “It’s rare that it doesn’t. And especially if you’re involved in an intimate relationship.”

The “staying over” text message

Timothy Kincaid

February 22nd, 2012

Presented without commentary

Panel to investigate Babeu

Timothy Kincaid

February 22nd, 2012

According to AZCentral.com, a special panel will investigate whether Sheriff Paul Babeu violated his public trust by threatening to have ex-boyfriend Jose Orozco deported. Interestingly, it is at Babeu’s request.

The local county prosecutor is a political ally of Babeu so rather than conduct an investigation that will be seen as tainted, they are turning instead to the Public Integrity Task Force, a non-partisan committee of neighboring county prosecutors.

In addition, Babeu has requested that the Arizona State Attorney General Tom Horne open a separate investigation into whether he has abused his power. But because Horne and Babeu have also supported each other in the past, the Solicitor General, Dave Cole, will investigate.

That Babeu is requesting investigation may reflect his confidence in the eventual conclusions (or the conclusion makers). Alternately, it may be a step taken to ensure that the investigators not focus solely on Babeu’s behavior to the exclusion of that of Orozco. He requested that the scope include “allegations of human-rights violations, threatening and intimidating, misuse of public resources, theft of property, theft of identity, fraud and impersonation.”

The latter relates to counter-charges made by Babeu’s attorney

Babeu, who said he had a romantic relationship with Orozco that went sour, accused Orozco of taking control of his campaign websites and Twitter account without permission in September and posting unflattering messages.

Chris DeRose, Babeu’s attorney and campaign manager, sent Orozco a cease-and-desist letter vowing to sue if the messages were not removed and the accounts turned back over. Orozco complied, Babeu said, and the matter was dropped.

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