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Posts for June, 2015

NSW parliament calls for free vote on marriage in Australia

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2015

The Parliament in New South Wales is controlled by the same coalition of political parties as the nation’s Parliament, the Liberal Party and the National Party of Australia. It has just voted to encourage the federal Parliament to have “a respectful debate that is tolerant of all views”, or in other words, to allow a free vote.

The vote was unanimous and was supported by Premier Mike Baird. (Sydney Morning Herald)

[Independent Sydney MP Alex ] Greenwich called on the federal government to “stop delaying the inevitable”.

“The Liberal Party claims to be the party of “individual freedom” and a free vote should be its default position on this issue,” he said.

This move increases the pressure on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow a free vote on the issue.

And it undoubtedly pisses off Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher. I wonder if more letters are forthcoming.

Sydney Catholic diocese writes businesses about marriage

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2015

aussie ads

A number of Australian and global businesses have been putting pressure on the Australian government to support marriage equality. Representing some of the biggest players in the Australian economy, they have been jointly running advertisements in papers announcing their support and asking other businesses to join them.

This obviously concerns the Catholic Church, which opposes equality. But its response is baffling. (ABC)

The Catholic Church in Sydney is sending letters to companies that publicly support same-sex marriage, expressing its “grave concern” about their stance.

The Archdiocese of Sydney has targeted some of the 150 businesses that put their names and logos to recent newspaper advertisements supporting gay marriage.

While it’s a bit odd that they write the letters at all, it’s the language and tone that are perplexing.

“It is… with grave concern that I write to you about the Marriage Equality for Australians campaign,” it reads.

“You are publically supporting a strategic, political and well-funded campaign designed to pressure the Federal Government into changing the Marriage Act.

“For corporations to speak on such issues… is indeed overstepping their purpose and it is to be strongly resisted.”

I can’t imagine that anyone opening a letter from the Catholic Church informing them that they are “overstepping their purpose” is going to receive that news without objection. And after the Church has been yowling about marriage for months, to tell someone else that they should not express an opinion reveals a level of arrogance that is astounding.

The Church then includes a not-so-subtle threat

“You may be aware that the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is a significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international,” it reads.

Needless to say, the company providing ABC with the story was not amused. Nor were they inclined to back away from their support.

Maurice Blackburn principal Liberty Sanger said she was not sure what the intention of the letter was, but either way the law firm would not be intimidated.

“Now it may well be that their intention was to try and frighten us into not participating in the debate,” she said.

“If that was the objective, well it’s had… obviously had the opposite effect.

This heavy-handed tone deaf missive might have been effecting in the 1500’s. But I very much suspect that it has only earned ill will from the businesses in Australia, along with the Australian people.

Southern Baptists resolve to oppose equality

Timothy Kincaid

June 18th, 2015

The Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Columbus, OH, earlier this week and the theme seemed to be gay marriage. As Jonathan Merritt noted,

SBC president Ronnie Floyd preached a fiery sermon declaring, “the Supreme Court of the United States is not the final authority, nor is the culture itself, but the Bible is God’s final authority about marriage and on this book we stand.” At a press conference on Wednesday, leaders released a letter signed by 16 past denominational presidents–including my father, James Merritt, who presided from 2000 to 2002–stating, “we will not accept, nor adhere to, any legal redefinition of marriage issued by any political or judicial body including the United States Supreme Court.” And the denomination’s political arm released a legal guide for churches, schools, and ministries to protect themselves as culture grows more comfortable with same-sex marriage.

But the most significant action was a resolution passed by the denomination declaring their ‘public witness’ opposing the rights of other citizens to marry. And, as far as resolutions go, it’s a mess.

It starts with a bunch of whereas statements, the first two of which show such astonishing ignorance of scripture that I marvel that they can be claimed with a straight face.

WHEREAS, God in His divine wisdom created marriage as the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18–24; Matthew 19:4–6; Hebrews 13:4); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith & Message (2000) recognizes the biblical definition of marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime,” stating further, “It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race”;

Yes, the carefully selected scriptures do discuss marriage between a man and a woman. The first is one of the variations of the Creation Myth presented in Genesis (it is paired with the more commonly recognized seven day timeline of creation/evolution).

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

So the Lord God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal; but for the man no helper was found as his complement.

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. Then the Lord God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. And the man said:

This one, at last, is bone of my bone
and flesh of my flesh;
this one will be called “woman,”
for she was taken from man.

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.

Which is a lovely parable, but it says nothing about marriage being “the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman.” In fact, as far as this tale is presented, the man and the woman didn’t enter into any covenanted union at all.

The second scriptural passage is Jesus’ rejection of divorce, in which he quotes Genesis.

“Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” and He also said:

“For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh?

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

And at that point the Baptists quickly slam their Bible shut, lest they accidentally read the 12th verse of Matthew 19, in which Jesus rejects binary gender definitions.

But irrespective of whether the discussion of eunuchs can be distanced from the Baptists’ selection, again this text is not definitional. Jesus is quoting Genesis to reject the cruel practice of dumping wives after the new wears off and leaving them (at that time) without any financial security. He wasn’t defining marriage.

The third biblical reference is even less supportive of the whereas assertion.

Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers.

I see no “biblical definition” there.

And the reason that Baptists can’t actually point to a passage in scripture in which it defines marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime” is because such passages don’t exist. A scholar of the sacred texts in ancient times would likely be highly amused at such a definition and find it to be a rare family structure, rather than indicative of God’s commands or expectations.

Let’s consider what most familiar marriages and family structures looked like in the Bible as shown in the Bible stories.

  • Adam joined with the only woman in existence, Eve, without assistance of any pastor or covenant.
  • Abel and Seth married their sisters.
  • Abraham married his half-sister Sarah. And when she didn’t conceive, she gave him her maid with which he had a child.
  • Jacob (Israel) married two sisters, the first through fraud and deception.
  • Moses likely had at least two wives, one of them Ethiopian
  • David had at least six wives, in addition to Jonathan, whose love was “more wonderful Than the love of women”.
  • Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
  • Daniel was a eunuch with whom God brought the Chief of the eunuchs “into favour and tender love”.
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace story) were also eunuchs
  • There’s no mention whether Jonah married. Nor Elijah. Nor Elisha. Nor Joshua.
  • Lot (who escaped Sodom) slept with his daughters so they could have children
  • Rahab, one of Jesus’ ancestors, was a prostitute
  • Jesus didn’t marry, nor did most of his disciples
  • The first Christian convert was an Ethiopian eunuch
  • Other than Isaac and Noah, I can’t think offhand of any biblical marriages or biblical family structures that are of the sort that would be allowed in a Southern Baptist church today.

    But lest there be any lingering confusion about the definition of marriage as “one man and one woman”, the early Christian church did, indeed, lay out what the requirements were for marriage. But only for some. Titus 1:5-6

    For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

    The bishops (elders) of the church were to be the husband of one wife. By this reference we know that there were some in the church – not appointed bishops – that were not (nor expected to be) husbands of one wife.

    Irrespective of what one believes about the value of restricting marriage to heterosexual unions, claiming that one man / one woman marriages are in any way “biblical”, much less defined as such in the Bible, is self-delusion and absurdly so.

    But it isn’t just in the Whereas clauses that this declaration falls apart. The Resolved clauses are no better:

    1. RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, prayerfully call on the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the right of the citizens to define marriage as exclusively the union of one man and one woman; and be it further

    2. RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists recognize that no governing institution has the authority to negate or usurp God’s definition of marriage; and be it further

    3. RESOLVED, No matter how the Supreme Court rules, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirms its unwavering commitment to its doctrinal and public beliefs concerning marriage; and be it further

    4. RESOLVED, That the religious liberty of individual citizens or institutions should not be infringed as a result of believing or living according to the biblical definition of marriage; and be it further

    5. RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention calls on Southern Baptists and all Christians to stand firm on the Bible’s witness on the purposes of marriage, among which are to unite man and woman as one flesh and to secure the basis for the flourishing of human civilization; and be it finally

    6. RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists love our neighbors and extend respect in Christ’s name to all people, including those who may disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good.

    [numbering my own]

    Reading the second and first resolved paragraphs together leaves a very confused message. Basically the SBC is claiming that the Supreme Court has no authority over marriage and also begs them to let anti-gay states ban equality. They reject the court’s authority while requesting that the court rule as they wish.

    Similarly the fourth, fifth and sixth paragraphs are incompatible. In the sixth they declare their love and respect to all people, but in resolve number 4 and 5, they basically assert that Baptist clerks and cake bakers should refuse service to gay people.

    What these Baptists fail to realize is that their declaration is inherently lacking in “love and respect”. It is directed externally, declaring what courts should do, what gay people should not do, and defending their own rejection of their neighbors.

    The only way this can be seen as “love and respect” is through the notion that whatever Christians do, regardless of how cruel, is by definition “loving” and that the difficulties that they place on others is “for their own good”.

    Ultimately, this resolution has no weight. They can “not adhere to” any “legal redefinition of marriage” that they choose, be it marriages between gays, mixed-race couples, or those of different faith. They can “stand firm on the Bible’s witness” (as they see it) all they like. They can defend to the death their right to believe whatever they want to believe. They can reject the authority of courts to their heart’s content.

    But in practicality, marriage equality is coming. And they can do nothing to stop it.

    And this messy, contradictory, self-congratulatory statement of self-righteousness is not likely to serve them well as they go about the business of trying to evangelize to a nation that finds their rejection and exclusion to be morally reprehensible.

    Marriage equality comes to Chihuahua

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 11th, 2015

    chihuahua

    Although Chihuahua is perhaps known most for a tiny dog, it is actually Mexico’s biggest state – roughly the size of Michigan – placed alongside New Mexico and Texas. It is also the latest Mexican state to lift all restrictions to same-sex marriage. (proceso badly translated by google)

    The government of Cesar Duarte Jaquez decided not to put more obstacles to marriages between same sex and from now on married couples who request them.

    Chihuahua joins Quintana Roo (Cancun) and Coahuila (the state to Chihuahua’s east also bordering Texas) as states in which marriages are now immediately available. In the remainder of Mexico, couples may still need to go to court to get an amparo (civil rights ruling), but the outcome of the ruling is assured to be positive.

    NC House overrides veto on magistrate protection bill

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 11th, 2015

    In May the North Carolina legislature passed Senate Bill 2, a bill designed to allow individual Magistrates to give up conducting marriages and to allow assistant Registrars to give up issuing marriage licenses. Republican Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the bill, saying that public officials who swear to perform the duties of their office should not be exempt from doing so.

    On June 2nd, the state Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto and today the House did the same. So the bill becomes law.

    Here’s what it does:

    • The Register of Deeds in a county cannot refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That is an integral part of their duties and they have to fulfill their obligations.
    • Assistant Registers of Deeds can, however, give up issuing marriage licenses altogether as part of their tasks. But they cannot pick and choose; It’s either all legal marriage licenses or none.
    • Magistrates can give up conducting marriage licenses altogether. But they cannot pick and choose; It’s either all legal marriage ceremonies or none.
    • If all magistrates in a jurisdiction refuse to conduct civil marriages, a magistrate will be assigned by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Until that magistrate is assigned, the Chief District Court Judge (or his assignee) will be deemed a magistrate to conduct civil marriages. There is no down time.
    • Marriages before a magistrate must be available a minimum of ten hours per week and over at least three days per week. This appears to be a new requirement.

    While this is seen as an affront to our community, it is not clear that it will have much real impact on same-sex couples seeking marriage. The provisions require that licenses be issued and marriages be conducted and it probably matters little whether any specific Magistrates or Assistant Register of Deeds individually participate.

    And it should be noted that the state has been issuing marriage licenses and conducting marriages since October 2014, and things appear to be going smoothly. I suspect that the offices of the various Registers of Deeds and Magistrates have by now pretty much identified ways to comply with the law without any serious loss of religious freedom or significant inconvenience to marrying parties. I doubt much will change.

    Michael Brown is not a pastor

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 11th, 2015

    michaelbrowndvd

    On May 27th I wrote an article in which I said that it appears to me that Charlotte anti-gay activist Michael Brown has taken the step from truth-spinner and fact-bender to blatant liar for repeating the false claim that the Yes Campaign supporting marriage in Ireland was funded by an American billionaire.

    There is a difference between funding organizations with an ideological bent and who seek a social position, and funding an actual campaign for a referendum. This is a clear distinction and one that Michael Brown knows well.

    On June 3rd, World Net Daily presented a commentary by Brown in which he attempts to set the record straight.

    He spends several paragraphs patting himself on the back for conducting “the gold standard” of anti-gay activism and attempting to place the label of dishonesty on me instead of himself. For example, I describe his pack of annual protesters as “a red shirt mob” but he assures the readers at WND that they are “fine Christian men, women and children, including grandmas and grandpas”. Ya know, that sort of thing.

    As for the meat of my argument, I predicted Brown’s response well.

    Now Brown and others may say that this is splitting hairs, a mere technicality. They might argue that because Mr. Feeney funded organizations that advocate for marriage equality, he is funding the campaign in a more general sense. He’s not actually funding buttons and flyers and posters, maybe, but he’s helping fund groups that are pro-gay so it’s all the same really.

    Which was exactly how Brown responded.

    Not only is this hair-splitting, but it has been clearly documented that the push to redefine marriage in Ireland goes back more than a decade, with much of the groundwork laid by Atlantic Philanthropies, through which Feeney donated millions.

    In other words, Brown claims that back when same-sex couples could marry only in the Netherland, Belgium, Ontario, and Massachusetts, a billionaire in New Jersey concocted a decade long scheme in which he would bring about marriage equality not in his own state or country, but in what was possibly the most Catholic nation on the planet, Ireland. I’ll let you decide if you think that is likely.

    Oh I suppose that if your worldview is such that efforts to protect children from bullying equals “the homosexual indoctrination of your kids” or if you believe that casting demons out of a gay person can turn them straight then you can convince yourself of anything.

    Now it is true that marriage equality is part of the overall drive for equality and inclusion. And though I think that no one, Feeney included, dared to dream that in 2015 two dozen countries would have marriage equality, full equality and inclusion of LGBT people into the fabric of daily life has always been the long goal. And Feeney has, for many years, given to groups in Ireland who support the goals of the community.

    But the claim Brown repeated is flatly false. It’s an assertion that illegal contributions paid for a vote in which those who support his exclusionary and rejecting view of society lost and lost badly. In telling “what really happened in Ireland” he insisted that “Ireland was not ready for the massive influx of gay activist funding from America”. In other words, the only reason they lost is because the Yes Campaign broke the law and accepted a American gay money.

    And it is interesting (and telling) that no where in Brown’s rebuttal does he admit that this accusation is untrue, choosing instead to double-down by implying, suggesting, hinting that what he really meant was based in fact.

    Without this decade-long effort (which Kincaid cannot possibly believe was not part of a larger plan, leading up to the “Yes” campaign), it is almost certain that Ireland would not have voted 62 to 38 percent to redefine marriage.

    This is what my Irish supporter was trying to convey when she wrote, “We tried so hard to prevent it, but were up against every political party and up against millions of U.S. dollars that were being poured into the yes campaign. American billionaire, Chuck Feeney alone contributed over $24 million.”

    Again, without massive American funding over a period of more than 10 years, the campaign would likely have failed.

    Which isn’t quite the same thing as that unexpected “massive influx of gay activist funding from America”, is it? So I guess there was no sneaky influx of foreign gay activist money that “Ireland was not ready for”, was there? But that doesn’t much matter to Brown.

    Repeat the lie, imply it was true in what was ‘trying to be conveyed’, conflate the timeline, and the average WND reader will walk away believing that Feeney dumped $24 into the Yes Campaign. End result: the desired deception.

    Meh. Liars will lie. Prevaricators will be truth-benders.

    But as for me, I will readily admit that one part of my commentary is not correct. And for that I apologize.

    I called Michael Brown a pastor. He insists that he is not a pastor. And let the record so state.

    Tony Campolo endorses marriage equality

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 10th, 2015

    campolo

    Tony Campolo is a speaker and author and is highly influential in the side of evangelical Christianity that prioritizes social justice and charity. He has long been supportive of gay people, but his position on marriage was that the government should honor only civil unions for all and let churches decide for whom to conduct marriages. And he has been, for some time, a bit ambiguous about what he believes the church should do.

    This week he revised his position.

    It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.

    For me, the most important part of that process was answering a more fundamental question: What is the point of marriage in the first place? For some Christians, in a tradition that traces back to St. Augustine, the sole purpose of marriage is procreation, which obviously negates the legitimacy of same-sex unions. Others of us, however, recognize a more spiritual dimension of marriage, which is of supreme importance. We believe that God intends married partners to help actualize in each other the “fruits of the spirit,” which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, often citing the Apostle Paul’s comparison of marriage to Christ’s sanctifying relationship with the Church. This doesn’t mean that unmarried people cannot achieve the highest levels of spiritual actualization – our Savior himself was single, after all – but only that the institution of marriage should always be primarily about spiritual growth.

    This casts the role of same-sex marriage not as acceptable, but as a spiritual good, a blessing to the couple and the church. He cites his experiences with gay Christian couple, and watching how they function, as influential to his change of thinking.

    This is no inconsequential endorsement.

    Congrats Guamanians

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 8th, 2015

    fireworks guam

    It’s now 8:00 am on Tuesday morning in Guam and marriage licenses are now available to same-sex couples.

    Congratulations to Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero and all the other same-sex couples who now have access to equality.

    Texas Governor does not call special session

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 8th, 2015

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott will tell you that be absolutely supports traditional marriage and wants to protect that treasured definition. And so will every GOP legislator in that state.

    But somehow the legislature managed to end the legislative session without passing any bills that would in any way hinder marriage equality coming to Texas after the Supreme Court rules later this month. And Abbott has now responded to demands that he call a special session for them to do so. (WOAI)

    “I do not anticipate any special session,” he told News Radio 1200 WOAI. “They got their job done on time, and don’t require any overtime.”

    A cynical soul might conclude that the Texas GOP passed exactly the number of bill protecting traditional marriage that they wanted to pass. None. Such a person might even think that the Texas GOP is far more concerned with the demands of the Texas business community, which has opposed such bills as bad for business, than they are the demands of the Texas Eagle Forum or Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

    Gov. Ricketts in Chicago for a special event

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 6th, 2015

    One of the odder early moments in the 2016 primary season was a week or two in which the presumed GOP candidates were asked whether they would go to the same-sex marriage of a close friend or family member. And in what seemed to be a weird effort to play both sides, several responded that while they oppose the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, they’d happily attend the wedding of someone they love.

    But, as it turned out, they weren’t necessarily being cynical. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had already attended a gay wedding reception and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had RSVP’d and had plans to attend.

    So maybe it’s a thing.

    It does seem a bit hypocritical, but I suppose one can simultaneously hold the position that society is better off restricting marriage to traditional couples while also celebrating your friend’s happiness. Politicians have certainly held stranger positions.

    In any case, Walker and Kasich are not alone. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is staunchly defending the state’s ban on marriage equality, insisting that the only a vote of the constituents should bring about equal protection under the law. But while he’s holding firm against gay marriage in Nebraska, he’s attending one in Illinois. (Omaha.com)

    Ricketts will attend the wedding of his sister, Laura Ricketts. She is marrying Brooke Skinner, a brand strategist for Twitter.
    Laura Ricketts was one of the leaders in the gay-rights movement in Chicago and was active in pushing for the legalization of gay marriage in Illinois, which took effect last year.

    It would be reasonable to object to the idea of a politician opposing equality and then showing up for the ceremony. But I can’t help but think that this is positive. It’s hard to hold a continued objection once you’ve been a part of a lovely and touching and beautiful ceremony.

    And who knows, maybe this is the tool that is needed not only for them to confront this issue on a personal level, but also to explain an eventual change of heart.

    Marriage licenses now a certainty across Mexico

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 5th, 2015

    mexico fireworks

    Mexico has a complicated judicial system, particularly when it comes to civil rights. Rather than single marriage rulings that apply broadly to all citizens, individual couples get an amparo which relates specifically to their case. However, once five amparos have been issued in a state, precedent is established and then marriage equality has reached that state.

    Or something like that.

    Well it now appears that the rule of five also applies on a federal level. (Buzzfeed)

    The Supreme Court and several lower courts have already ruled in almost every state that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the Mexican constitution. But because of the Mexican court system’s often confusing technicalities, none of those decisions have been binding in future cases. Theoretically, any court could rule against a couple who has sued for the right to marry even though there have been many cases decided in favor of others couples.

    That is no longer true. On Wednesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued the first blanket statement that laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying are unconstitutional in every state — what is known as “generic jurisprudence.”

    This is not the first time the court had resolved a case with that exact sentence. But Colima is the fifth state in which the court had used this language, and five is a magic number in the Mexican system. Along with rulings from Oaxaca, Baja California, Sinaloa, and the State of México, the Colima ruling forms a new “generic jurisprudence” binding on judges issuing rulings in all the states of Mexico.

    This does not necessarily mean that marriage licenses will now be handed out by every jurisdiction across the nation, but it means that every legal challenge will now have the same result. Perhaps it can be seen as a technicality that sets a two step process for obtaining a marriage license.

    But as each state reaches five amparos (which are now assured) that state will be obligated to issue licenses. Or, in other words, the sixth same-sex couple to marry in a Mexican state will not have to go through the step of a legal challenge. And some states already have reached this threshold.

    It may be that we can now say that same-sex marriages are now available across all of Mexico – though perhaps not yet full equality.

    Marriage equality comes to Guam

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 5th, 2015

    guam couple

    Guam is an island about the size of the Hawaiian island of Molokai located between Papua New Guinea and Japan, east of the Philippines. It was a subject of Spanish colonization from 1668 until 1898 when ownership was transferred to the United States as a spoil of the Spanish-American War.

    The island is an unincorporated territory of the United States. It is self governed with a Governor and Senate elected by the population of about 160,000 residents, but comes under the federal jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Politically it is considered to be fairly conservative.

    In April of this year, Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero filed a lawsuit claiming that the ruling by the Ninth Circuit in favor of marriage equality set precedent for Guam. The Attorney General agreed with the suit and refused to defend the island’s law restricting marriage to opposite sex couples.

    Governor Eddie Calvo, a Republican, said that he would not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples without either an act of the Legislature or a ruling by the court. So yesterday, his counsel went to court and basically begged Federal Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood to issue a ruling bringing the territory into compliance with the Ninth Circuit.

    Tydingco-Gatewood issued an order Friday (last evening by continental US time) (ABC)

    Guam has become the first U.S. territory to recognize gay marriage after a federal judge struck down the prohibition.

    U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood issued the decision after a hearing Friday morning local time. It goes into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, when gay couples can begin applying for marriage licenses, the Pacific Daily News reported.

    Judge Tydingco-Gatewood was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006. She is the first female Chamorro (indigenous) chief judge.

    Guam is the first US Territory to recognize same-sex marriages. There is currently a lawsuit in Puerto Rico which is under the jurisdiction of the First Circuit Court of Appeals. But while all of the states in the First Circuit have marriage equality, this was achieved at the state level either through a challenge to the state constitution (Massachusetts), through legislation (New Hampshire and Rhode Island), or by referendum (Maine) so there is no precedent.

    Alabama House kills marriage contract bill

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 4th, 2015

    bama

    Earlier this week the Alabama Senate came up with a proposal to eliminate the issuance of marriage licenses and instead honor marriage contracts between individuals. They saw this as a way to prevent mass insurrection from probate judges who do not want to treat all citizens equally, should the US Supreme Court rule for marriage equality. (AL.com)

    It was an attempt to prevent chaos from ensuing if the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage this summer, [Rep. Greg Albritton, R- Bay Minette] said.

    “My goal is not to protect a group,” Albritton said. “My goal is to protect the state.”

    But chaos will ensue. Because the Alabama House killed the bill.

    The legislation passed in the Senate, but it won’t go before the House for consideration. It failed 8-3 in the House Judiciary Committee.

    So yeah, there will be probate judges who refuse to do their job. Some will quit. Some will whine. And the Alabama State Supreme Court – led by Chief Justice Roy Moore – will likely issue edicts of varying degrees of lunacy determined to “protect” these people from having to apply the law equally to all citizens.

    But in the end, after the tantrums die out, Alabama will comply with the law of the land.

    Texas legislature dances a little sidestep

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 2nd, 2015
    YouTube Preview Image

    Fellow Texans, I am proudly standing here to humbly see.
    I assure you, and I mean it – Now, who says I don’t speak out as plain as day?
    And, fellow Texans, I’m for progress and the flag – long may it fly.
    I’m a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie.

    Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t –
    I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,
    Cut a little swathe and lead the people on.

    The musical Best Little Whorehouse in Texas parodied the Texas style politician as a good ol’ country boy with the skill of bamboozling the public with words but never quite saying or doing anything concrete. And this past month, life has mirrored art.

    For much of May, the legislature in Texas has been in a whirl of rhetoric about the Lone Star State’s autonomy, upstanding morals, and objection to them gays ruining the sanctity of marriage. No less than 23 bills were presented all designed to either hinder gay marriage, derail gay rights, or just insult gay people. But other than one bill, no legislation seemed to get passed.

    First there was a big show of whether Republicans could rush through the pile of bills before the deadline or if Democrats could run out the clock before a bill could be passed that would block funds for the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And, whew, it was a squeaker but the clock ran out.

    But boy-oh-boy did those Republicans take a stance after the fact. They issued a letter telling the public in no uncertain terms that they pledged to continue to support traditional marriage and the flag and apple pie. A strongly worded letter, mind you.

    And there there was the scare that the Republicans in the Senate would revive that bill or some other bill to stick it to the gays. And, by golly, they found the perfect vehicle on which to attach an amendment protecting the sanctity of marriage: some House bill having to do with county administration.

    But, darn it, it turns out to everyone’s surprise that the author of the bill in the House was a Democrat and a firm supporter of marriage equality. And he let it be known that he’d pull the bill if they did. So that just didn’t work out.

    Well! Gosh! What a disappointment!

    But let it be known that they did get one bill passed. And it was a real crowd-pleaser. Senate Bill 2065

    A religious organization, an organization supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, an individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of that employment, or a clergy or minister may not be required to solemnize any marriage or provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage if the action would cause the organization or individual to violate a sincerely held religious belief.

    Whew, what a victory. Now pastors don’t have to conduct gay marriages. And if the First Amendment to the US Constitution is ever repealed, Texas will have this bill right here protecting pastors from conducting sacraments contrary to their faith.

    Of course, it’s all just window dressing. Meaningless gestures designed to keep the anti-gay rabble happy.

    For, as we now know, the Texas Republicans in the legislature never intended to pass anti-gay legislation. Because as much as they love to wave the Lone Star Flag and quote the Bible, the legislators in Texas don’t answer to the religious right. They have an entirely different constituency.

    Mark McKinnon, chairman of the GOP group Texas Wins, has a piece today in Politico Magazine explaining how Big Business in Texas came down squarely on the side of their gay employees. And no one can run for office these days without either Big Business or Big Union money.

    The Lone Star State just wrapped its legislative session, which included two “religious freedom” constitutional amendments. Learning from what happened in the above states, industry groups and major businesses went out pre-emptively — let me say that again: pre-emptively — before such bills made it too far in the Legislature. The conservative state chamber of commerce, the Texas Association of Business, took the lead.

    The amendments “would devastate economic development, tourism and the convention business,” said Bill Hammond, TAB’s CEO. “One has to look no further than Indiana to realize what a detriment this would be, and how hard it would be to sell Texas to the rest of the country. The Super Bowl [in Houston in 2017], the Final Four, all those things would be at risk in Texas if this were to become part of our Constitution.”

    More than 250 Texas companies — American Airlines, Dell, Texas Instruments, Dow Chemical, the Dallas Mavericks — went on record with a general pledge in support of treating gay and transgender Texans fairly and equally under the law — and that welcoming and inclusive communities are essential to their bottom line.

    Both amendments in the Texas Legislature died a quick death.

    But boy has it been fun watching them all dancing a little sidestep and all the activist, right and left, swaying along to the music.

    NC Senate overrides veto of magistrates bill

    Timothy Kincaid

    June 2nd, 2015

    Last week, the North Carolina Senate and House both passed a bill which would allow individual magistrates (but not all magistrates in a county) to forego conducting civil marriages for all couples, gay or straight. Republican Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the bill, saying that public officials who swear to perform the duties of their office should not be exempt from doing so.

    But the legislature may well be redefining the duties of office. (Reuters)

    The Republican-led state Senate reached the three-fifths majority needed to override McCrory’s veto in a 32-16 vote. The legislation now goes back to the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives, which passed it last week by a margin wide enough to override the veto.

    As discussed earlier, this bill could result in an inconvenience to all couples, gay or straight, in some counties. But it does not appear to me to be a tool for invidious discrimination and would likely hold up in court.

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