Do they even listen to what they say?
May 13th, 2014
Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments for and against overturning Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruling that Virginia’s gay marriage ban was in violation of the US Constitution (the Olson-Boies case). There were, as expected, protesters on either side.
The anti-gay side made some interesting remarks.
Dean Nelson, chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, told the crowd, “Things have gotten so bad that even when you’re watching ESPN on Mother’s Day we have the kisses of homosexuals forced down our throats.”
Sometimes it’s just too easy.
Controversy for the coming generation
May 12th, 2014
Among the piles of press that surrounded the selection of Michael Sam during this past weekend’s NFL draft selection, I found this little gem regarding the decision of ESPN to air Sam’s reaction and his kiss with his boyfriend. (Sun Times)
When [ESPN Producer Seth] Markman’s wife explained to their 7-year-old son that dad was busy working on something that was controversial, Sam’s kiss on TV, the boy replied: “Is it because they’re not married?”
UMC approved married couple benefits
April 30th, 2014
A majority of United Methodist Churches in the United States have, for several years, attempted to be inclusive and supportive of gay Methodists and same-sex couples.
However, unlike most American denominations, the UMC is a global organization and representatives from Africa and Asia join local conservative churches to vote down progress on these issues. It is highly likely that this will soon lead to a division in the denomination and, indeed, this past year has seen an escalation of inclusive pastors defying the mandates of the Methodist Book of Discipline and publicly officiating at same-sex weddings.
A new move by the denomination may play a large role in schism (Religion News Service)
Same-sex partners can’t marry in a United Methodist Church. But if one of the spouses works at one of the denomination’s 13 general agencies, the couple can get benefits if state laws allow it.
The decision, made at last week’s meeting of the UMC’s Judicial Council in Little Rock, Ark., affirms one made in October by the church’s General Council on Finance and Administration, which expanded the definition of “spouse” to include same-sex spouses and partners.
Advocating for rights within the Utah GOP
April 28th, 2014
The former executive director of the Utah Republican Party was at the state party convention this weekend advocating for gay rights. (Salt Lake Tribune)
Along with his wife Megan, DuBois attended Saturday’s state GOP Convention wearing a big Equality Utah sticker. The couple, who were not delegates, were there to mingle with old friends, some of whom did a double take when DuBois urged them to support legislation to ban housing and workplace discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Such bills have received little traction in the conservative, Republican-dominated Utah Legislature.
His message was simple and blunt.
“I’m not scared of gay people,” said DuBois, who left his party post last year. “You can be a really good Republican and support people who don’t fit the same mold as you.”
Let’s hope they’re very persuasive.
UCC sues North Carolina over marriage freedom
April 28th, 2014
A strong component of the organized opposition to marriage equality lies in a desire to impose religious conformity. Although expressed as “religious freedom”, it’s quite the opposite. Opponents are not content with having the state stay out of their religious sacraments and ceremonies; rather, they desire that the state step in and declare that only their religious marriages are respected and those of other positions or faiths be denied.
Now the United Church of Christ is fighting back. (Charlotte Post)
The General Synod of the United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, contending state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and woman restrict its ministers from performing their religious duties is unconstitutional.
North Carolina prohibits couples of the same gender from obtaining a marriage license and makes it a crime for ministers to officiate a marriage ceremony without determining whether a couple has a license. UCC attorneys say the law limits ministers’ choices, violates the principle of “free exercise of religion” and restricts the freedoms of religion and expressive association guaranteed in the First Amendment. The church seeks a preliminary injunction that would allow ministers the choice of performing a religious marriage.
Although UCC is taking the lead, other individual places of worship have added their name to the lawsuit. (Charlotte Observer)
The Charlotte-area clergy members who have joined them include Allison of Holy Covenant; Robin Tanner, pastor of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church; Rabbi Jonathan Freirich of Temple Beth El; Nancy Kraft, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran, and Nathan King, senior pastor at Trinity Reformed UCC in Concord.
They are joined by Asheville ministers Joe Hoffman of First Congregational UCC and Mark Ward of the city’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation; along with Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist in Raleigh.
I commend the denomination for this latest step in their long history of supporting the gay community. And I think that this may effectively illustrate for some that their insistence at imposing their own religious creeds into state law impose a burden not just on gay people but also on communities of faith.
Alaska Supremes: tax discrimination against gay couples is unconstitutional
April 25th, 2014
Alaska is one of the three (and soon to be two) states in which there is not a current court challenge to anti-gay marriage bans. However, in a tax matter, the Alaska Supreme Court has just ruled that the state cannot discriminate against same-sex couples. (ACLU)
The Alaska Supreme Court ruled today that the state unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex couples by denying them equal access to a property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled veterans.
The rules were challenged by the ACLU of Alaska, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP on behalf of three couples who were denied full access to a $150,000 property tax exemption that Alaska makes available to opposite-sex married couples. Because same-sex couples cannot legally marry in Alaska, the state treated them as roommates rather than as families and let them get the exemption for only half of the value of their homes.
In 1998 Alaska amended its state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. As it seems unlikely that the state Supreme Court invalidated that constitutional provision, it will be interesting to see how this ruling is administered. It would seem that, in application, the court ruled that same-sex couples must be treated as though married.
Oregon to have hearing tomorrow without NOM
April 22nd, 2014
Judge Michael McShane denied the National Organization for Marriage’s attempt to delay tomorrow’s scheduled oral arguments in federal lawsuit challenging Oregon’s marriage ban.
Previously, no party had stepped up to defend the ban. But this morning, the D.C.-based NOM filed a motion requesting to intervene in the case, simultaneously urging the judge to delay Wednesday’s oral arguments as he considers the last-minute motion.
With Judge McShane’s ruling today, oral arguments will proceed as scheduled tomorrow afternoon at the Federal Courthouse in Eugene. However, the judge will consider NOM’s motion to intervene in the case and has scheduled oral arguments on that issue for May 14th. If the motion to intervene is accepted, Judge McShane would then schedule a second briefing schedule on summary judgement or move the case to trial.
Sorry NOM, your delaying tactic didn’t work today.
Pennsylvania marriage ban may not get trial
April 22nd, 2014
The ACLU, which is challenging Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage, and Governor Tom Corbett (R), who is defending the ban, have both called on Judge John E. Jones III to not schedule a trial. (ACLU)
A trial became unnecessary after the commonwealth stated that it will not call any experts to counter the plaintiffs’ argument that there is no rational reason why lesbian and gay couples are excluded from marriage, nor does it plan to dispute the specific harms caused to the plaintiffs by the marriage ban. All legal papers in the case will be filed by May 12, meaning a ruling could come at any time after that date.
Both sides have presented written briefs and asked the judge for summary judgment.
Corbett’s defense of the ban has been tortured and troublesome.
On July 24, 2013, the county clerk in Montgomery County began issuing marriage licenses. And after the state Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) said that she was not defending the ban, Corbett took nearly a week before he announced that he would do so.
Then when his legal team filed a brief comparing same sex marriage to a union between 12 year olds, Corbett refuted the comparison and apologized. And then he provided a comparison of his own, marriage between siblings. And then found himself apologizing again.
Since that time, Corbett has tried to keep his defense of the ban mostly about “because it’s my job to defend the law” and has come out in support of a non-discrimination bill.
Illinois GOP ousts anti-gay committee members
April 21st, 2014
Pat Brady, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, started 2013 off with a bang by announcing that he was lobbying state legislators to support marriage equality. While this received immediate reaction, the situation did not play out as might have been expected.
There was movement for Brady’s removal and some members of the state central committee called for a vote on his ouster. But this effort did not receive support from party leadership and both the GOP House Leader and US Senator Mark Kirk (who has endorsed equality, himself) supported Brady.
Eventually, Brady resigned from the position. But not before it became clear that he did so on his own volition and that the ouster effort did not have the necessary votes to remove him. Only seven of the 18 committee members signed onto a letter demanding his removal.
In November the state legislature passed a marriage equality bill, by a narrow margin, with the necessary support of three GOP representatives. Anti-gay activists vowed that they’d pay for their “betrayal” at the polls. Last month Republican voters rejected primary challenges to all three.
And now it appears that the social agenda activism of the anti-gay committee members has placed them on the outs in Illinois GOP politics. (Daily Journal)
A crop of Republican officials who wanted to oust former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady for his statements supporting same-sex marriage have been replaced in their party positions.
Illinois Republicans across the state held elections for all 18 state central committee member posts this week, replacing six of the seven officials who signed on to a letter last year to hold a vote on removing Brady as chairman. The seventh person to sign the letter, Mark Shaw of the 10th Congressional District, was re-elected to a four-year term.
I think it is now clear that irrespective of what they may individually believe about marriage, Illinois Republican voters have no stomach for continuing a culture war against the rights of their gay neighbors.
Prop 8 defender plans daughter’s wedding
April 17th, 2014
Proposition 8, California’s 2008 ban on marriage equality, has suffered much indignity. Not only was it pilloried at trial, condemned in appeal, and pronounced dead at the Supreme Court, but it became an international rallying moment and a watershed in the struggle for marriage equality.
The 2010 trial of Proposition 8 – though not televised or even radio broadcast – was one of the more captivating media events of the year. Social media and websites gave snippets of testimony which collectively provided a tale of drama. Local and national television recounted the day’s events.
And the presumptions and prejudices underlying anti-gay bills were placed in the harsh light of scrutiny. A watching nation realized, many for the first time, that opposition was based not in morality, truth, or tradition, but on animus and a desire to diminish the dignity and honor of gay citizens.
In the subsequent years, greater embarrassment has attached itself to the Proposition and its legacy. Perhaps one of the sharpest cuts came in June of 2012 when David Blankenhorn, the chief – and virtually only – witness in defense of the proposition reversed position and announced that he supports marriage equality.
And now the proposition has yet another disgrace to bear: (WaPo)
The conservative lawyer who defended California’s ban on gay marriage at the Supreme Court is at work on another project: planning his daughter’s upcoming same-sex wedding ceremony.
Charles J. Cooper, a former top official in the Reagan Justice Department and onetime “Republican lawyer of the year,” learned of his daughter’s sexual orientation during the legal battle over California’s Proposition 8, according to journalist Jo Becker’s soon-to-be-released book chronicling the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.
“My family is typical of families all across America. We love each other; we stand up for each other; and we pray for, and rejoice in, each other’s happiness. My daughter Ashley’s path in life has led her to happiness with a lovely young woman named Casey, and our family and Casey’s family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks.”
Malta passes civil unions
April 15th, 2014
The Maltese parliament legalized same-sex unions and gay adoption on Monday in a 37-0 vote, signaling a major change in social policy for a conservative country where Catholicism is the state religion.
“Malta is now more liberal and more European, and it has given equality to all its people,” Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.
The opposition Nationalist Party abstained from the vote, saying that although it supports civil unions, it has doubts about adoption rights for gay couples.
The bill now goes to the President for a formal approval at which time Malta will become the southernmost part of Europe to recognize same-sex relationships. From what I glean from their local press, they are rather proud of themselves for this move. As they should be.
UPDATE: The opposition party was anxious that their abstention was not seen as opposition to civil unions or even necessarily as an absolute opposition to adoption, but rather that they opposed that the issues were addressed together. They proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which both parties supported.
Utah Backs Away from Regnerus Study
April 10th, 2014
A brief filed last month by attorneys representing the State of Utah in its same-sex marriage appeal cited Mark Regnerus’s discredited study purporting to show that children raised by gay “parents” fared worse than children raised by straight parents. (In fact, Regnerus’s study consisted of only two children who had been raised from birth by same-sex parents; both children did “pretty good,” Regnerus admitted during his disastrous testimony before a Michigan court.) In the Utah brief, attorneys included Regnerus’s study as demonstrating that “even when they have two caregivers of the same sex, children who grow up without a father or a mother are socialized in a way that undermines their ability to function effectively in a dual-gender society.” They add, in a footnote:
Professor Regnerus’ study has been criticized by advocates of the “moms-and-dads-are-interchangeable” theory. But in his thorough response, he concludes that, even accounting for his critics’ concerns, the data “still reveal numerous differences between adult children who report maternal same-sex behavior (and residence with her partner) and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents.
That brief was filed in February. Regnerus was fully shellacked on the witness stand in Michigan a month later. And when the ruling came down that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, US District Court Judge Bernard Friedman devoted several pages to smacking down Regnerus’s testimony and study.
So now it looks as though that whole episode has left the Utah lawyers feeling nervous. Yesterday, just a day before this morning’s oral arguments, they filed a “Supplemental Authority clarifying position re: Regnerus study”:
Utah files this supplemental letter in response to recent press reports and analysis of the study by Professor Mark Regnerus, which the State cited at footnotes 34 and 42 of its Opening Brief, and which addresses the debate over whether same-sex parenting produces child outcomes that are comparable to man-woman parenting.
First, we wish to emphasize the very limited relevance to this case of the comparison addressed by Professor Regnerus. As the State’s briefing makes clear, the State’s principal concern is the potential long-term impact of a redefinition of marriage on the children of heterosexual parents. The debate over man-woman versus same-sex parenting has little if any bearing on that issue, given that being raised in a same-sex household would normally not be one of the alternatives available to children of heterosexual parents.
Second, on the limited issue addressed by the Regnerus study, the State wishes to be clear about what that study (in the State’s view) does and does not establish. The Regnerus study did not examine as its sole focus the outcomes of children raised in same-sex households but, because of sample limitations inherent in the field of study at this point, examined primarily children who acknowledged having a parent who had engaged in a same-sex relationship. Thus, the Regnerus study cannot be viewed as conclusively establishing that raising a child in a same-sex household produces outcomes that are inferior to those produced by man-woman parenting arrangements.
So get this: Utah is going to argue that allowing gay people to marry will have a long-term impact on children of heterosexual parents. Umm, yeah. Good luck with that.
A Marine speaks out
April 4th, 2014
Go read this op-ed (NewsTribune)
I slept with a gay man for six months in Afghanistan.
No one asked. He did not tell.
In 2005, I and 200 Marines in my squadron deployed to Afghanistan to support the global war on terrorism. We were stationed at Bagram air base, a deep bowl surrounded by snowcapped mountains, where it rained and snowed while the sun beamed, prompting one Marine to remark, “Welcome to Afghanistan, the only place on Earth where you get all four seasons and a rocket in the same day.”
Judge: Ohio must recognize out-of-state marriages
April 4th, 2014
In December, Federal Judge Timothy Black ruled that if you were a resident of Ohio and if you were legally married to someone of the same sex by another state, the state had to recognize that marriage for purposes of death certificates. We noted at that time that this was a very narrow ruling.
Now the plaintiffs have gone back to Judge Black and requested that he expand his ruling to all state functions, and he has agreed. (ABC)
Judge Timothy Black announced his intentions in federal court in Cincinnati following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.
“I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio’s recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Black said. “(They’re) denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married.”
Black said he’ll issue the ruling April 14. The civil rights attorneys who filed the February lawsuit did not ask Black to order the state to perform gay marriages, and he did not say he would do so.
Ohio State Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) has announced that he will appeal the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Regnerus claims judge had bias
April 2nd, 2014
There was, for a brief time, a period in which I was open to argument that Mark Regnerus was a principled researcher whose conclusions were misconstrued by others and whose intent was the advancement of knowledge in the area of family structures. Though he was religious and his research was funded by a conservative organization, that did not preclude him from credibility.
And, indeed, for a while he claimed that he didn’t assert the conclusions that anti-gay media attributed to his paper. Until it became clear that his “not asserting” was a technicality, a game he played so as to advance deception while holding to “but I didn’t personally say it”.
And, following the criticism of his employer and the denunciation by Judge Friedman, the world knows Regnerus to be a charlatan willing to sell his integrity in a futile attempt to forward his anti-gay agenda.
Take, as an illustration, his latest whine in his ongoing effort to portray his dishonesty as a badge of martyrdom. (Anti-gay Catholic website LifeSiteNews)
“I frankly don’t understand why the judge elected to pass on a discussion of some of the very real concerns our research raised,” Regnerus told LifeSiteNews in an e-mail. Regnerus says Friedman “chose to privilege certain scholars as well as research that leaned on self-selected samples.”
“it’s as if raising standard methodological issues on this subject is just unwelcome today, unless it’s clear that you are friendly to the political goals of the same-sex marriage movement.”
Yeah, that’s it. It’s not that your study of children of broken families had no relevance to a case about couples wishing to create intact families. No, it must be judicial bias.
Say bye-bye to your career, Mark. Bye-Bye.