Prop 8 appeal today
December 6th, 2010
At 10:00 am (Pacific Time), three judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral argument about whether Proposition 8 is a violation of the equal protections and due process clauses of the US Constitution. But first, they will hear argument about whether there is anyone who is legally entitled to defend Proposition 8, now that the Governor and Attorney General have chosen not to appeal Judge Walker’s decision.
You can follow the case on CSPAN.
Courage Campaign is liveblogging. I’ll provide my thoughts and opinions later.
Couple recognition, state by state
December 1st, 2010
Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:
Marriage on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:
District of Columbia
Civil Unions – a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:
Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population
Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population
Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships
In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.
Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.
Not a good night for NOM
November 2nd, 2010
The Republicans picked up significant gains in the midterm election, gaining control of the House of Representatives, and bringing the Senate to within a few votes. This is not good news for the prospect of having issues of inequality addressed in the next two years.
However, this change in the direction of power was not a mandate for social conservatives. Indeed, it was those Republicans who made the most of their socially conservative credentials who fared least well. Christine O’Donnell lost miserably, as did Tom Tancredo, while Tea Party and Republican candidates that minimized or refused to discuss their positions on social issues attracted support.
But no indicator seems to have been more consistent this election than the extent to which a candidate was supported by the National Organization for Marriage. If you were a Senatorial or Gubernatorial candidate whom NOM supported, it seemed to be the kiss of death.
In New Hampshire, NOM has ran an anti-Lynch campaign for two years, and has ratcheted up the anti-Lynch television ads going into the election. Lynch just won his fourth consecutive election, a feat not accomplished for the past 200 years.
In California, NOM sponsored a bus tour for senate candidate Carly Fiorina, encouraging Latino voters to “vota tus valores“. Not only have the networks called this election for Barbara Boxer, Latinos found Fiorina’s valores not to be their valores by two-thirds.
NOM sued the state of New York in hopes of running anonymous ads in favor of Carl Paladino. Paladino’s homophobia sunk his campaign and he ended up pulling but 35% of the vote leaving Cuomo – a marriage support – one of the strongest winners of the night.
In Minnesota, NOM ran radio ads for Tom Emmer claiming that “Mark Dayton and Tom Horner want to impose gay marriage with no vote of the people.” Although Minnesota has not been called, Dayton is 7% ahead of Emmer with 85% of the vote counted.
This kiss of death is consistent with results of NOM’s electioneering in the District of Columbia during their primary. It would seem that using gay couples as a fear tactic seems to have peaked and dissipated.
This is not to say that NOM will not have any causes for celebration. The efforts to reject three supreme court justices in Iowa who were part of the unanimous decision to recognize gay Iowans as protected by the state Constitution, appears to have succeeded. Each appears to have only 46-47% support. Expect NOM to claim this as a clear mandate that the “people of Iowa have spoken” and that they don’t like their gay neighbors so much. NOM was not, however, successful in their effort to oust the Polk County judge who first found for marriage equality.
And NOM’s very own Andy Pugno – the attorney for the Prop 8 campaign – is running for state assembly in California’s 5th Assembly district. At present the vote is too close to call.
All in all, while NOM’s vindictive smearing of the Iowa justices may have proven effective (and may well prove to bring a chilling effect to future legal battles), we can say that they were big losers tonight.
UPDATE: 10:28 pm PST. LA Times:
With more than half the votes counted, Democrat Richard Pan holds a 51% to 45% lead over Republican Andy Pugno in a seat currently held by Republicans.
Not only may Pugno’s repugnant attack on gay couples have cost him the 5th Assembly seat, it may actually move the Democrats in CA closer to a supermajority. NOM must feel so proud.
Middle School Student Takes a Stand Against Bullying
October 16th, 2010
An NBC affiliate in California covered this story about 7th grader Marco Melgoza, a victim of anti-gay bullying at his middle school in Madera, CA. Despite efforts made by school administrators to curb the bullying, Marco reports that it is still happening. It’s amazing to see youth standing up for themselves with the support of their parents.
Seth Walsh’s “Daily Gauntlet”
October 7th, 2010
The mother of Seth Walsh, the Bakersfield-area teen who committed suicide in response to a daily dose of bullying in school, quietly mourns the loss of her son. She is refusing to speak to the public, as are Seth’s friends. But Seth’s grandparents have opened up, and the world gets to see just a bit of the incredible kid that we lost:
Judy and Jim still laugh over his tastes. He colored his hair blond on occasion and wore it with a long swoop that partly covered his eyes. Judy took him shopping once, and he went to the girl’s department to find pants with tapered legs. He added a vest, and a few months later she noticed the style everywhere.
…He was a gentle child, they say, who preferred to “relocate bugs” rather than kill them, who made sure his younger brother got his share of Easter eggs and who once apologized to a bed of flowers when he picked one and placed it on the grave of the family dog.
But the Walshes realize that Seth’s gentleness made him a target, and they recall listening to Wendy (Seth’s mother) as she shared her worries about Seth and what he had to endure.
The teasing and bullying began in fourth grade. At first it was because he was different — more comfortable with girls, not interested in sports, neither aggressive nor assertive — and then it was because he thought he was gay. Once classmates found out and the news spread, the abuse became more focused and cruel.
When Judy learned from her daughter that Seth was gay, she became concerned for the challenges that lay ahead of her grandson.
“Life is hard enough,” she says, “but this makes it harder.”
“Especially in a small town,” Jim says.
The Los Angeles Times’ profile is a must-read.
Bakersfield-Area Teen Dies After Suicide Attempt; No Charges Will Be Filed
September 29th, 2010
Another day, another gay teen is dead:
Seth Walsh, the Tehachapi 13-year-old who hanged himself from a tree in his back yard after years of being bullied, died Tuesday afternoon after nine days on life support.
Tehachapi police investigators interviewed some of the young people who taunted Seth the day he hanged himself and determined despite the tragic outcome of their ridicule, their actions do not constitute a crime.
“Several of the kids that we talked to broke down into tears,” Jeff Kermode, Tehachapi Police Chief, said. “They had never expected an outcome such as this.”
Seth had been picked on for years because he was gay, but fellow classmates said that the staff at Jacobsen Middle School offered Seth no help or protection. People run red lights without expecting anyone to die in a horrific traffic accident, but they are charged with manslaughter or negligent homicide. Red lights were flashing at Tehachapi just as brightly and a child is dead because of the direct actions of his peers and the negligence of school officials. But they get a pass because, well heck, nobody meant nuttin’ by it. It was all just harmless fun. It just goes to show how seriously too many school administrators take the lives of gay students in 2010.
If you thought NOM’s tour yesterday was bad…
September 28th, 2010
The National Organization for Marriage seems to be running into a little problem getting people to show up for their “Vota Tus Valores” tour. Yesterday was kinda discouraging with a total of 17 folks at five stops (15 were all from one stop) but today was the kind of day that makes California’s anti-gay Latino Republicans sad at heart.
Day 2, Stop 1: Sacramento
Our state’s capital didn’t exactly swarm out to greet NOM. (Courage Campaign)
Already progressive supporters are beginning to out-organize the tour. The count in Sacramento was 9 to 4.
Day 2, Stop 2: Placerville
The following picture includes all of the ralliers at this stop:
NOM didn’t even get off the bus.
Day 2, Stop 3: Yuba City
The tour website said they would be at the Gauche Aquatic Center at 1:15 pm. But they didn’t show up.
Courage Campaign asked the Aquatic Center and it turns out NOM never followed through with a request to use the parking lot. Fortunately CC was ran into NOM & crew where they had stopped for lunch and now are stuck following the bus.
Day 2, Stop 4: Colusa
The bus was to be there at 2:30, but as of 2:40 they hadn’t left Yuba City (CC will update tonight) so perhaps Colusa is another no-show. Why not? It’s not like anyone is there waiting for them.
Watchmen On the Walls to Gather in Sacramento and Washington State
September 27th, 2010
A Sacramento-area reader tipped us to this flier advertising a Watchmen On the Walls conference that is scheduled for Oct 1-3 at the New Hope Christian fellowship near Sacramento. The conference will feature Latvian pastor Alexey Ledyaev, who cofounded the Watchmen with Seattle-based pastor Ken Hutcherson, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and Sacramento resident and Russian language media owner Vlad Kusakin. The Watchmen On the Walls has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of only about a dozen anti-gay hate groups.
Also appearing on the bill are Craig Carre of Gate Keepers and Alex Rykhlyuk of the Sacramento-based church Ecclesia, which mainly caters to the substantial Russian Evangelical immigrant community in Sacramento. The Russian Evangelical immigrant community has been among the most virulent anti-gay communities in California, and, along with Russian immigrants in the Seattle area, has provided leaders who have been an integral part of Watchmen On the Walls.
Alexeyev’s Riga-based megachurch, New Generation, was implicated of a violent confrontation during a Riga Pride event in 2006 when a churchmember was convicted of throwing feces at participants. Alexeyev and twenty other churchmembers were in the courtroom in support of the church member when he was convicted.
The conference is mentioned in the Watchmen’s official web site, but only in the Russian language version. That brief article mentions the Sacramento conference along with another one for Washington State in “early October.” No further details are given.
CA Supremes: Gov and AG need not appeal Perry
September 9th, 2010
After the Pacific Justice Institute was laughed out of court for claiming that Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown should be forced to appeal the decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, PJI appealed the 3rd Appeals court’s dismissal to the California Supreme Court.
And they got all excited when the CA Supremes asked Schwarzenegger and Brown to weigh in on the appeal. (Karen Ocamb)
The California Supreme Court has ordered the Attorney General and the Governor to respond by 9 am this morning explaining why they have not filed this appeal. Then the Pacific Justice Institute has just three hours to respond by noon today.
“We are pleased that the judicial branch is at least considering forcing the executive branch to do its job,” said Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute.
So the Governator and the Attorney General sent a letter to the court reminding them that they have discretion to appeal or not appeal and that this discretion is part of the constitutionally protected separation of powers. (And while it was expected and understood that neither wished to appeal, this is where the Governor went on record stating that he would not do so.)
And then the CA Supreme Court yawned and “denied review Wednesday without comment.”
So now it is official. Neither the Governor nor the Attorney General will be appealing the reversal of Proposition 8. But we will probably have to wait until the first week of December to find out whether the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will find that the appellants (the organization that sponsored Proposition 8) have any standing to appeal the case without them.
California no longer looking for “causes and cures of homosexuality”
August 25th, 2010
After decades of gerrymandering, California’s legislature consists pretty much only of the far left and the far right. So it is not often that you get agreement on much of anything; and it’s very rare indeed that you get agreement on a gay related issue.
But Republicans and Democrats came together on an issue that, while obsolete and amusing, does tell us one important thing. I’ll get to that in a moment.
In 1950, the legislature passed the following law:
8050. The State Department of Mental Health, acting through the superintendent of the Langley Porter Clinic, shall plan, conduct, and cause to be conducted scientific research into the causes and cures of sexual deviation, including deviations conducive to sex crimes against children, and the causes and cures of homosexuality, and into methods of identifying potential sex offenders.
And as of this week, the legislature has changed that language to
8050. The State Department of Mental Health shall plan, conduct, and cause to be conducted scientific research into sex crimes against children and into methods of identifying those who commit sexual offenses.
Now there is no reason to believe that California, either through the Langley Porter Clinic or anything else, has at any point in the past several decades attempted to conduct any scientific research into the causes and cures of homosexuality. But it’s nice to know that they officially have given up.
But more importantly, this bill passed unanimously in the Senate (where it was sponsored by the newly reformed Roy Ashburn) and nearly unanimously in the State Assembly (except for this guy). And that is big news.
In general, California’s Republican legislators just vote “no” on anything that gay folks want. No real reason, often, just a desire to say “no”. So it’s kind of surprising that they said “yes” this time and, for me, it’s interesting and important that the issue on which they finally said “yeah, that’s too wacky even for us” is ex-gay therapy.
Meg Whitman Would Defend Prop 8 If Elected Governor
August 23rd, 2010
Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who is running for the GOP nomination for California Governor, announced that if she were elected governor, she would defend Prop 8 in Federal Court:
Whitman’s first definitive statements on how she would handle the issue as governor came hours before she spoke at the opening of the three-day state GOP convention in San Diego, where she is facing open hostility from conservatives over her positions on illegal immigration and climate change.
“I think the governor of California and the attorney general today have to defend the Constitution and have to enable the judicial process to go along … and an appeal to go through,” Whitman said. “So if I was governor, I would give that ruling standing to be able to appeal to the circuit court.”
The two named defendants, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown, have refused to defend the constitutionality of Prop 8 in Federal District Court. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker then invited the Alliance Defense Fund to defend Prop 8 as intervener. Following Judge Walker’s ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional, it is unclear whether ADF has standing to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit Court. A hearing to decide the issue is scheduled for December 6. The same hearing will also hear arguments on the appeal itself.
Because both the issue of standing and the appeal will be heard before the next governor takes the oath of office in January 3, it is unclear whether the new governor or attorney general could join the case at that later date:
UC Hastings College of the Law professor Rory Little said Whitman’s ability to defend the proposition would hinge on several factors – the biggest of which, of course, is whether she becomes governor.
It would also depend on whether the 9th Circuit decides the standing issue before January 6 and how the court decides.
“There are a lot of ifs,” Little said. “If the 9th Circuit hasn’t decided the matter by December, she could attempt to file a brief to say, ‘Now, the state of California enters the case.’
The state GOP is holding its annual part convention this year at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, which is subject to a boycott by LGBT advocacy groups over owner Doug Manchester’s $125,000 donation to the pro-Prop 8 campaign.
California marriages go civil
August 20th, 2010
Yesterday the California state assembly approved SB 906, which will make the following changes to California’s marriage law:
MarriageCivil marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, established pursuant to a State of California marriage license issued by the county clerk, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone does not constitute civil marriage. Consent must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized by this division, except as provided by Section 425 and Part 4 (commencing with Section 500).
MarriageCivil marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is of the age of 18 years or older:
(a) A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination. No person authorized by this subdivision, or his or her religious denomination, shall be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his, her, or its faith. Any refusal to solemnize a marriage under this subdivision shall not affect the tax exempt status of any entity.
The bill goes on to revise the rest of the law by replacing reference to “marriage” with “civil marriage.”
Officially this bill does nothing, but the symbolism is interesting. It says that the State of California isn’t interested in how your church defines marriage, only in the civil aspect. Further, it assures churches and clergy that they need not conduct any marriages that they don’t find appropriate to their faith, even though such assurances are unnecessary due to the US Constitution’s religious protections.
And the wing-nuts are furious.
You’d think that ensuring and emphasizing protection for clergy would be welcomed. But wing-nuts don’t want such protection; it distracts from their deceptive talking points. They want to be able to scare people into thinking that their church will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages and have discovered that most voters don’t really understand that the First Amendment already protects them. This revision would make it harder to lie.
As the Ruth Institute, the National Organization for Marriage’s college outreach, laments
The real intent behind this bill is to make it appear as though it eliminates one of the main objections to same-sex marriage, that it jeopardizes religious freedom, in what gay activists hope will be an effort to get gay marriage on the ballot in California in 2012. They think that doing this will make gay marriage seem more acceptable to the voters of California and make it easier for such an amendment to pass. The idea is that if this bill passes, they can claim that allowing same-sex marriage won’t have any affect on religious freedom.
And anything that makes it more difficult for NOM and their allies to deceive voters is a threat to their power. Going into a potential 2012 constitutional amendment to reverse Proposition 8 (assuming that this isn’t all resolved through Perry v. Schwarzenegger by then), they didn’t want to have to defend “civil marriage” or lose one of their biggest scare points.
The bill passed with support of virtually all Democrats along with two Republicans. It had previously passed the State Senate but will return for a concurrence vote before going to the governor for signature.
Judge Walker Lifts Prop 8 Stay Effective August 18
August 12th, 2010
We have received word that Chief U.S Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker has lifted the stay on enforcing last week’s ruling declaring California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional. Effective 5 PM PDT on August 18, California becomes the sixth state where same-sex couples enjoy the freedom to marry.
The order reads (PDF: 40 KB/11 pages):
None of the factors the court weighs in considering a motion to stay favors granting a stay. Accordingly, proponents’ motion for a stay is DENIED. Doc #705. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment forthwith. That judgment shall be STAYED until August 18, 2010 at 5 PM PDT at which time defendants and all persons under their control or supervision shall cease to apply or enforce Proposition 8.
It will now be up to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether to issue a stay. Given that none of the defendants have any intention of appealing, it’s unlikely the Appeals Court will intervene. The Alliance Defense Fund, which intervened to defend Prop 8, is not a named defendant and it is unclear that ADF would have any standing either to ask for a stay or seek an appeal.
UPDATE: We have two threads on this order. Please continue conversation on the other thread.
California politicians weigh in on Prop 8 ruling
August 5th, 2010
Unsurprisingly, the Democratic and Republican responses to Judge Walker’s rulings were different.
In the Senatorial race, Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer released the following statement:
This historic decision is a step forward in the march toward equal rights and reflects a growing legal consensus that marriage equality is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Carly Fiorina, the Republican nominee, is quoted by AP as disapproving of the decision.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina says she disagrees with a federal judge’s decision overturning California’s gay-marriage ban.
Fiorina says California voters spoke clearly against same-sex unions when a majority approved Proposition 8 in 2008.
In the gubernatorial race, Jerry Brown – who at Attorney General refused to defend the proposition – released the following statement:
In striking down Proposition 8, Judge Walker came to the same conclusion I did when I declined to defend it: Proposition 8 violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry, without a sufficient governmental interest.
Republican Meg Whitman’s campaing, on the other hand, released the following statement:
Meg supported Proposition 8 and believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Meg also strongly supports California’s civil union laws. Today’s ruling is the first step in a process that will continue.
Hunh? A process that will continue?
So everyone has now made their statements. But with California voters so evenly split over marriage and not one breathing fire over the decision, I think it extremely unlikely that Whitman – or even Fiorona – will make gay marriage an issue in their campaigns.
Prop 8 Rallies Planned
August 4th, 2010
As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.
Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.