Is Arizona a Turning Point?
February 27th, 2014
It would appear that the outcry over Arizona’s license-to-discriminate bill that was finally vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer last night may have reached something of a high water mark. Major companies, business group, professional organizations, and major league sports all came out with strong statements denouncing the bill in the moments leading up to Brewer’s veto. Typical was this one from Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:
SB 1062 would serve to create an environment where consumers would not know how they would be treated – or whether they would even be served – when they patronize a business. This bill goes against the rule that every great business subscribes to, which is that the customer is always right. It will not only be bad for customers, but also bad for local business in the state. I also believe that it would be in consumers’ interests to be made aware of businesses within the state that did engage in discriminatory behavior. Since early 2010, Yelp has hired over 650 employees in Arizona. Over the next few years, we hope to hire hundreds more. It would be unconscionable for the state to encourage discrimination against any of them.
Arizona joins three other states in putting an end to their license-to-discriminate bills in just the past twenty-four hours:
- Sponsors of Ohio’s license-to-discriminate bill withdrew their support yesterday. Moments later, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee announced that the bill was dead.
- The Mississippi House of Representatives Civil Subcommittee late yesterday voted to strike almost all of the provisions of their license-to-discriminate bill, leaving only a provision adding “In God We Trust” to the state seal. This move came after the state Senate gave its unanimous approval in January.
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced yesterday that he will veto a proposed license-to-discriminate bill if it reaches his desk. Earlier that day, he had refused to address the question during an interview on MSNBC.
Over the past several weeks, license-to-discriminate bills have been defeated or withdrawn in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Tennessee, and Utah. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Similar bills are still working their way through Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Georgia, where Atlanta-based Delta Airlines has announced its opposition. The Idaho bill was returned to a House committee last week, with the sponsor saying he wants to “find the right language.” In addition, there’s a push to put a similar measure on the ballot in Oregon in November.
Ohio cannot summarily divorce dead people
December 23rd, 2013
A federal judge has issued a ruling that finds Ohio’s ban on gay marriages to be unconstitutional. If you married elsewhere. And are now dead. (AP)
A federal judge has declared in a ruling that applies only to death certificates that Ohio’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
In his decision Monday, Judge Timothy Black orders state officials to recognize such unions on death certificates. Although his ruling applies narrowly, his statements about Ohio’s gay-marriage ban are sweeping and expected to incite further litigation challenging the law.
I know that jurists prefer to issue the least broad ruling possible, one which directly addresses the case before them but not much further, but wow is this one a narrow ruling.
Ohio Man Challenging Marriage Equality Ban Has Died
October 22nd, 2013
John Arthur, who flew to Maryland in July to marry his longtime partner Jim Obergefell, touching off a legal battle to force the state of Ohio to recognize their marriage and those of other same-sex couples, died Tuesday at the age of 48.
Mr. Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2011, and his terminal illness played a prominent role in the couple’s decision to marry and in the ensuing legal battle. He and Obergefell had been a couple since 1992 but decided to marry after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 decision striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
…Although he was bedridden in the last months of his life, the publicity from his court case gave him a link to the outside world as hundreds of people sent gifts, letters and cards of support. Known throughout his life for a sense of optimism and an equal sense of the absurd, Mr. Arthur saw both in the attention their story garnered. “It’s been a swell of anonymous support,” he said in August. “It’s truly the supporters who are seeking us out to congratulate us and acknowledge us and give us words of support and thanks.”
Soon after they married in July, the Cincinnati couple filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court challenging Ohio’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Judge Timothy Black issued an injunction requiring the state of Ohio to list the couple as married on Arthur’s death certificate.
City to Gay Bar Owner, Site of Anti-Gay Attacks: Stop Calling 911
September 12th, 2013
Cocktails Lounge, on Cleveland’s West Side, has been the scene of at least two designated hate crimes in less than a week and at least six attacks on patrons since spring. Two weeks ago, Jared Fox was surrounded by a gang of juveniles, beaten and robbed while they shouted anti-gay epithets. These things are the kind of attacks that can happen in any American city, but they’re happening in Cleveland now, where the City’s Director of Public Safety, Martin Flask, is on the case: he sent a letter to the bar’s owners demanding that they stop calling 911 so often:
Our records indicate from September 02, 2012 through September 01, 2013 Cleveland Police Officers and/or Dog warden have been dispatched and responded to your property located at 9208 Detroit Avenue inns for various Calls for service. Repeated calls to the same property place an and inappropriate burden on the taxpayers of the City of Cleveland and on our safety forces. The estimated cost for the city safety forces to respond to your property is approximately $100.00 per call for service.
l am confident that we share the same goal and that you will take the necessary steps to eliminate the repeated calls for police services to your property. Therefore, within 10 days of the date of this letter, you will be required to submit your action plan to the First District Neighborhood Police Commander (623-5105), outlining your strategy to eliminate the problems at this location.
Cocktails Lounge manager James Foster was appalled at the letter.
Foster said what’s most frustrating is that the majority of those police calls didn’t have to do with the lounge itself. Instead, managers and patrons called about incidents happening near the lounge.
“It’s your neighborhood bar, everybody knows everybody, everybody’s got nicknames,” said Mary Wishar, a regular at Cocktails who describes the lounge as friendly and safe.
Outrage erupted on social media yesterday after the letter went public. City Councilman Jay Westbrook, who represents the ward where Cocktails is located, said, “Just when we thought we were turning a corner with these incidents, the safety director shot us in the foot.” Mayor Frank Jackson ordered Flask to rescind the letter:
“If I had to do it over again, I would have handled this particular situation differently,” Flask said. “After reviewing this issue with Mayor (Frank) Jackson, he has directed me to rescind the letter and instead set up a meeting with the District Commander and the property owners so that we can work together to address the issues raised by the calls for service to 9208 Detroit Avenue.”
Lyons could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. The letter said 13 police reports were filed over the one-year period for everything from fights to robbery. None of the calls, Flask said, involved hate crimes currently being investigated by police.
“(I)t is an early warning letter that the Department of Public Safety sends to property owners to help prevent a location from becoming a ‘nuisance property’” Flask said. “224 such letters have already been sent to various property owners this year.”
Cleveland was selected to host the Gay Games in 2014.
Federal Judge Orders Recognition of Second Ohio Same-Sex Marriage
September 4th, 2013
A U.S. District Judge has ordered that the state of Ohio and local officials to recognize the marriage of a male couple who had married out of state. The case involves William Herbert Ives and David Michener, residents of the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming Township, who had been together for eighteen years and were raising three children. They had married in Delaware on July 22. Ives died suddenly on August 27. Judge Timothy Black ordered the state to recognize the couple’s marriage on the state’s death certificate:
Black ruled that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and other state officials are restrained from enforcing Ohio’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages. He also ruled that Cincinnati officials cannot accept a death certificate for Ives unless it records his status as married and lists Michener as his surviving spouse.
Judge Black also ruled Michener can join the lawsuit filed by John Arthur and James Obergefell, the Cincinnati couple who had flown to Maryland to marry soon after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. Arthur is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Judge Black issued a temporary restraining order requiring the state to list the couple as spouses in the event of Arthur’s death.
Judge grants injunctive relief to Ohio married couple
July 22nd, 2013
John Arthur and Jim Obergefell married last week in Maryland. It is a marriage that is doomed to be short, as Arthur has ALS and is not expected to live much longer.
Upon returning, they sued in Federal Court to have Ohio, their home state, recognize their marriage. In 2004, voters amended the Ohio Constitution to limit recognition of marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Today Federal Judge Timothy S. Black ordered that the State of Ohio recognize the marriage and list the couple as married on Arthur’s death certificate.
This Court finds that Plaintiffs have established by clear and convincing evidence their entitlement to injunctive relief. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order (Doc. 3) is GRANTED, and a temporary restraining order shall issue by separate order, directing, inter alia, that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur whichdoes not record his status as “married” and/or does not record James Obergefell as Mr.Arthur’s “surviving spouse” at the time of Mr. Obergefell’s death, which is imminent.
Ohio recognizes heterosexual marriages in other states that it would not allow to be conducted within its borders (first cousins, for example) provided that the marriage was legal where conducted. While this order is not a ruling on the merits of the case, it seems a foregone conclusion that Judge Black will find for Arthur and Obergefell when this case is determined.
Federal Judge Orders Ohio Officials To Recognize Gay Couple’s Marriage
July 22nd, 2013
In as stunningly swift development, a Federal Judge has issued a temporary restraining order requiring Ohio state officials to recongize the marriage of John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, who were married two weeks ago in Maryland. Federal District Judge Timothy Black ordered Ohio officials to recognize the Cincinnati couple’s out-of-state marriage just as they recognizing marriges performed in other states even when those marriages cannot be performed in Ohio:
Throughout Ohio’s history, Ohio law has been clear: a marriage solemnized outside of Ohio is valid in Ohio if it is valid where solemnized. Thus, for example,under Ohio law, out-of-state marriages between first cousins are recognized by Ohio,even though Ohio law does not authorize marriages between first cousins. Likewise,under Ohio law, out of state marriages of minors are recognized by Ohio, even thoughOhio law does not authorize marriages of minors.
How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single outsame sex marriages as ones it will not recognize? The short answer is that Ohio cannot … at least not under the circumstances here.
By treating lawful same sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sexmarriages (e.g., marriages of first cousins and marriages of minors), Ohio law, as applied to these Plaintiffs, likely violates the United States Constitution which guarantees that”No State shall make or enforce any law which shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.
The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,’”
Judge Black noted that when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, it left in place Section 2, which allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but:
…the issue whether States canrefuse to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages is now surely headed to the fore.Indeed, just as Justice Scalia predicted in his animated dissent, by virtue of the presentlawsuit, “the state-law shoe” has now dropped in Ohio.
John Arthur is bedridden with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurological disease which robs patients with the ability to walk, move, and eventually breath. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Arthur and Obergefell, partners of 20 years, used donations from friends and relatives to charter a special medical transport plane and fly to Maryland two weeks ago, accompanied by a nurse, two pilots trained in emergency medicine, and Arthur’s aunt, who had been ordained specifically to perform the wedding. They married on the tarmac at an airport in Baltimore and immediately returned to their home in Cincinnati. Last Friday, the couple filed a lawsuit in Cincinnati Federal District Court demanding that the State of Ohio recognize their marriage.
Judge Black limited the order to Arthur and Obergefell only, citing the plaintiff’s “strong likelihood of success on the merits” and Arthur’s declining health for the urgency of his order:
…In addition to the alleged denial of Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, the Court must also consider the fact that Mr. Arthur is in hospice care and death is imminent. Without a temporary restraining order, the official record of Mr. Arthur’s death, and the last official document recording his existence on earth, will incorrectly classify him as unmarried, despite his legal marriage to Mr. Obergefell. The death certificate will also incorrectly fail to record Mr. Obergefell as the “surviving spouse,” which status he lawfully enjoys. Furthermore, Mr. Arthur wants to be buried in his family plot at Spring Grove Cemetery. He also wants Mr. Obergefell to be buried next to him someday. The family plot directive limits those who may be interred in the plot to descendants and married spouses. Thus, without a temporary restraining order, Mr. Arthur’s burial may be delayed or his remains may have to be exhumed when this case is finally decided.
…Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence that the State of Ohio or its citizens will be harmed by the issuance of an order temporarily restraining the enforcement of these provisions against the Plaintiffs in this case. No one beyond Plaintiffs themselves will beaffected by such a limited order at all. Without an injunction, however, the harm toPlaintiffs is severe.
Ohio Couple Challenges State’s Marriage Equality Ban in Federal Court
July 22nd, 2013
Last week, John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, partners of 20 years, flew from Cincinnati to Maryland to get married. A trip like that to get married is already complicated enough, but Arthur is in a hospice, suffering from ALS, or Lou Gejrig’s, a neurological disease which, over time, robs patients of their ability to walk, move, talk, and eventually breathe. Aurthur needs around-the-clock care, and a commercial flight was out of the question. After the call went out, friends, family, and total strangers donated aver $12,000 to charter a private plane. They flew to Baltimore, the pilots parked off the runway, and the couple was married on the tarmac. A few minutes later, the couple celebrated with champagne, the pilots climbed back in the cockpit, and the wedding party was back in the sky on the return trip to Ohio.
The Cincinnati Enquirer published a well researched, in-depth story on the couple shortly after they married, illustrating the problems they face in a state which relegates them to legal strangers to each other. Last Friday, Arthur and Obergefell filed suit in Federal Court seeking Ohio’s recognition of their legal marriage. Their attorney, civil rights lawyer Alphonse Gerhardstein, noted some of the absurdities of Ohio’s marriage law:
“(T)he marriages of opposite-sex couples that are legal in other states but would not be allowed in Ohio – e.g., marriages of first cousins or a young partner – are routinely accepted in Ohio if those marriages are legal in the state where they are celebrated,” the suit notes.
The suit seeks a temporary restraining order and injunction, hoping to allow Arthur’s death certificate to reflect that his status at death was “married.” That is more important now, the suit notes, because Arthur is gravely ill.
“It is the final record of a citizen’s life. It must be accurate,” Obergefell said of the death certificate.
Another GOP Pol Takes the Portman Route As Ohio Kicks Off Petition Drive To Reverse Marriage Ban
July 8th, 2013
Former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, who oversaw the state’s 2004 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage and all other forms of partnership recognition, is now supporting the effort to overturn that ban. As Timothy Kincaid reported last week, the former GOP AG’s endorsement of the ban’s reversal had been expected. But today’s announcement goes much further, with Petro being the star speaker at a news conference announcing the start of a massive signature gathering campaign by Freedom Ohio to get the proposal rescinding of the constitutional amendment onto the ballot for 2014.
Petro said when he was asked to support gay marriage, he “quickly and without hesitation said ‘I’m all for it.’ ” He said he will be active in the 2014 campaign and hopes more Republicans join him.
The 2004 constitutional amendment forbidding same-same marriage is a “roadblock to diversity” and leaves the public and the business community with the impression that that the state is “ intolerant and unwelcoming.”
Petro’s personal reason for his change in position is a familiar one:
Petro switched his position after his daughter, Corbin, legally married a woman in Massachusetts last year.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support for marriage equality in March after his son came out to him.
Ohio’s process for getting an issue placed on the ballot is a daunting one. Freedom Ohio must collect 385,245 valid signatures — a number that is equal to ten percent of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election. But Freedom Ohio won’t have the luxury of circulating petitions in larger urban areas where support would be expected to be greatest. They will also need to make sure that in at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, they collected enough signatures to equal at 5% of the number of people voting in the last gubernatorial election for that county. Just getting on the ballot is half the battle, and if Freedom Ohio can accomplish it, then it bodes well for tapping into a broad geographic base of support.
Ohio’s Issue 1 of 2004, which banned same-sex marriage and all other legal recognition for same-sec couples, was approved by 62% Ohio voters. Issue 1 was placed on the ballot by the General Assembly. Equality Ohio, which was formed in the aftermath of Issue 1, has so far withheld its support for Freedom Ohio’s campaign:
Ian James, co-founder of Freedom Ohio, said his organization’s executive committee decided to move forward with Ohio campaign next year even there is no consensus among national gay, lesbian and transgender groups about going to the ballot here in 2014 or 2016.
“When we file these petitions and reach the ballot, everybody will be with us,” he said.
Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, another LGBT group, said there is “ absolutely no formal commitment at this time” to support a 2014 issue. “Equality Ohio is working with our national partners and we will be going when the time is right.”
It kind of reminds me of when Olsen and Boies announced, over the objections of several national LGBT advocacy orgs, that they were going to challenge Prop 8 in Federal Court.
A similar signature-gathering campaign is also underway in Arizona to overturn constitutional bans are already underway in Arizona, and as similar effort will launch later this month in Oregon. Nevada’s legislature has completed the first steps of a long process to reverse that state’s marriage ban in 2016.
Ohio’s Petro to endorse marriage initiate
July 5th, 2013
From the Columbus Dispatch
Republican Jim Petro, Ohio’s former attorney general and state auditor, is expected to endorse a 2014 Ohio ballot measure that would permit same-sex marriages in the state.
GOP Sen. Portman supports equality
March 15th, 2013
I knew it had to happen at some point. Some Republican US Senator had to be the first to endorse marriage equality, but I was thinking maybe Sue Collins or Mark Kirk. I certainly wasn’t guessing Ohio’s freshman Senator, Rob Portman.
But then again I didn’t know that Portman has a gay son. (Cleveland.com)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman on Thursday announced he has reversed his longtime opposition to same-sex marriage after reconsidering the issue because his 21-year-old son, Will, is gay.
Portman said his son, a junior at Yale University, told him and his wife, Jane, that he’s gay and “it was not a choice, it was who he is and that he had been that way since he could remember.”
“It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have — to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years,” Portman told reporters in an interview at his office.
This is a bit risky. Ohio Republicans are a different breed from the New Hampshire strain.
But I’m going to hazard a guess that this wont much hurt Portman. It might even help him. Times have changed and even the wing-nuts can accept a father acting out of love for his kid.
(CNN has a fuller story )
UPDATE: Sen. Portman has written an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch expressing his views on marriage. Some I disagree with (I hope for an expansive court decision on marriage equality), but as an appeal to other conservatives and Republicans, I welcome this step. It’s far stronger to have Portman assert in his own words his support for equality than simply to tell the press.
Of Kith and Kin in Pomeroy, Ohio
February 9th, 2013
Pomeroy, Ohio is located on the Ohio River, in the Appalachian southeast part of the state, about midway between Huntington, WV and Marrieta, OH. It’s the part of the state that is as red and conservative as they come. It’s also not far from where I grew up, and the familiar name in the headlines caught my notice:
Pomeroy Mayor Resigns Over Comments About Gay Officer
The mayor of a small southeastern Ohio town is resigning over accusations she made derogatory comments about a gay police officer.
The president of council for the village of Pomeroy said Mayor Mary McAngus submitted a letter of resignation on Saturday. The police chief told village council McAngus repeatedly used slurs about a gay officer in front of other officers and dispatchers. The chief warned council any such comments could expose the village to a lawsuit.
This certainly caught me by surprise. I know the culture there, and a story about a small village rallying around a gay part-time police officer seemed very uncharacteristic of the area. But it turns out the Gallapolis Daily Tribune has been on this story for several days, and reported these details:
“Unfortunately, allegations have been made by several officers and dispatchers in reference to Mayor Mary McAngus’s continued behavior and vulgar language used against a gay officer in our department,” (Police chief Mark) Proffitt stated.
“Officers have provided me with statements that they were made uncomfortable during interviews with the use of [the term] ‘queer’ by the Mayor,” said Proffitt. “She also called an officer into her office and informed him that another officer was ‘queer’ and used the word many times. She then asked if [the officer called in] was gay, and he became uncomfortable and left. Another officer responded to the mayor that he has a family member who is gay and did not feel someone of her stature (mayor) should talk like that about an employee.”
Now it all makes sense. This wasn’t just a story about a village rallying around a gay police officer, nor was it just a story about employment discrimination and the threat of a lawsuit. It was about both of those two things, but also about something else which might have been just enough to push this thing over the edge.
Appalachia is an area that doesn’t deal well in abstracts. Everything is literal, especially the Bible, and attitudes are as hard as concrete. You can talk about abstract ideas like fairness and equality until you’re blue in the face, and it won’t mean much to someone who is confronted daily with a host of cold, hard realities.
But one of those realities is family, and kith- and kinship take on a much greater importance in Appalachia than in most other areas of the country. And since the calendar reads 2013 in this tiny river town (Population: 1,852) just like everywhere else, it now appears that you can’t swing a dead slur without hitting a gay person. And in Appalachia, when someone says something that comes across as an attack on family, well, those are fighting words. Coming out is a powerful thing everywhere, but the particular dynamics of Appalachian culture can have a way of amplifying that power. And so its not much of a surprise to me that McAngus lost that fight. She was fighting against an apparently well-liked police officer, a well-liked police officer’s partner, and other people who had gay family members who were, naturally, going to stand by them. She didn’t stand a chance.
That’s not to say that Appalachia is quickly becoming all warm and accepting. West Virginia isn’t going to be gay-marrying anytime soon. Turning abstractions into realities is a person-to-person, one-person-at-a-time thing there. But when it does happen, watch out.
Marriage in the non-battle states
October 17th, 2012
Back in September, the Washington Post polled swing states Ohio, Florida, and Virginia about the upcoming presidential election. A number of other issues were polled, including this question:
31. (AMONG REGISTERED VOTERS) Do you think it should be LEGAL or ILLEGAL for gay and lesbian couples to get married?
Legal (strongly) 35%
Legal (somewhat) 19%
Illegal (somewhat) 7%
Illegal (strongly) 26%
No Opinion 13%
Legal (strongly) 36%
Legal (somewhat) 17%
Illegal (somewhat) 7%
Illegal (strongly) 30%
No Opinion 10%
Legal (strongly) 33%
Legal (somewhat) 16%
Illegal (somewhat) 8%
Illegal (strongly) 32%
No Opinion 12%
Because these (and other) states already have anti-gay marriage bans in their constitution, they can shift away from the center of our attention. But with numbers like these, it will not be long before we will again be looking at Florida and Ohio and even Virginia. But (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t beat us to it) the next time will be our own efforts to have those constitutional blights removed.
[NOTE: revised to correct for formatting restrictions]
Arrest made in gay church arson; Sheriff sides with arsonist
August 28th, 2012
They caught the guy who burned the historic South Bloomingville Christian Church to the ground. And when confronted by the Sheriff’s department he told them that it wasn’t a hate crime against the gay-friendly church, but in response to his being sexually assaulted by one of them there homos “connected with” the church.
And that was good enough for the Sheriff:
“I believe it brings some closure to the area that wasn’t, per se, a hate crime, as the bishop portrayed it to be,” North said. “It was more a revenge crime for what the suspect had endured in 2011.
Now if the arsonist was assaulted last year then I support prosecution against whomever assaulted him. After all, if true then “what the suspect had endured in 2011″ should be punished. And the Sheriff didn’t mention whether there was going to be an arrest for sexual assault.
But somehow I very much doubt it. There’s just something in his voice that suggests to me that any accusation against one of them there homos was proof enough – not enough for arrest, of course, but enough to justify arson.
Arsonist Destroys Ohio Church
August 21st, 2012
A fire destroyed a historic 158-year-old church in scenic Hocking County, Ohio at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning. Nineteen firefighters responded to the scene, but the church was almost completely destroyed. All that remains are the front steps and a wall. After ruling out all accidental causes, state fire investigators ruled the fire an act of arson. A $5,000 reward has been posted for anyone with information leading to the arrest of those responsible.
Last Wednesday, Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council issued a report documenting what they call “more than 600 alarming attacks on religious faith. This arson fire happened too late to make it into the report, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to appear in a future update:
The Rev. Scott Davis bought the church in 2010 and opened it to the community for services in 2011. Davis said he suspects arson because he has received many death threats in the past. “It’s because this is a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender church, and people around here don’t agree with it.” Davis said he welcomes all people to the church, regardless of faith, sexual orientation or race. There are approximately 30 locals who attend on a regular basis.
Davis said the residents of the small, quaint town are very upset with the orientation of the church, but doesn’t understand why someone would destroy the last historic building other than for revenge.
No, you won’t see this an any reports listing attacks on religious faith put out by FRC or Liberty Institute. Nor will you see a coalition of 41 anti-gay organizations rally to issue a statement condemning the attack. The only sound you will hear will be FRC loudly complaining that it’s the SPLC who is responsible for all the problems.
Pro-Gay Lobbyist Named Ohio GOP Director
May 23rd, 2012
Sometimes you learn the coolest things on Twitter. The Ohio Republican Party has named Matt Borges their new executive director. Borges had served as the executive director for Gov. John Kasich’s inauguration committee. In 2004, he was convicted of a misdemeanor for soliciting illicit campaign contributions and questions surfaced again over his fundraising for Kasich’s inauguration, which means that his GOP creds are totally solid. He’s also a registered lobbyist at the statehouse. His many clients include Equality Ohio, for whom he is trying to shepherd a non-discrimination bill through a House committee. Borges, being a lobbyist, is simply a hired gun. I have no idea whether he is gay or even pro-gay. Nevertheless, Columbus resident Linda Harvey is “outraged,” and Ohio’s tea party factions aren’t too thrilled either:
“It’s why we’re so detached from regular operations of the Republican party,” said Tom Zawistowski, president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition of tea party groups. “We have some shared goals and work on some of those shared goals, but we certainly don’t have shared values.”
Lambda Legal Sues Ohio School
April 3rd, 2012
Lamda Legal has filed a lawsuit against Waynesville High School in Waynesville, Ohio, about 20 miles south of Dayton, on behalf of Maverich Couch, an openly gay junior who was threatened with suspension for wearing a T-shirt reading “Jesus is not a homophobe” last April for the National Day of Silence. According to Lambda Legal:
The school principle (sic), Mr. Randy Gebhardt, called Maverick into his office and instructed him to turn the T-shirt inside out; Maverick complied. Over the summer, Maverick further researched his First Amendment rights, and when school resumed in the fall of 2011, he approached the school principal seeking permission to wear the T-shirt. Mr. Gebhardt restated that he would be suspended if he wore the shirt.
In January 2012, Lambda Legal sent a letter to Mr. Gebhardt outlining the legal precedent supporting Maverick’s right to wear the shirt, to which the school district issued the response, “the message communicated by the student’s T-shirt is sexual in nature and therefore indecent and inappropriate in a school setting.” [Emphasis mine[
You see, that’s the problem with dealing with people like him. His imagination is far more sexually charged than mine could ever hope to be.
You can sign a petition supporting Maverick Couch here.
Battered and Bruised
March 7th, 2012
Romney hangs in there again like a punch-drunk fighter staggering toward the finish of the sixth round (ooh look at me, I’m using a sports metaphor), picking up wins in six of the states up for grabs yesterday including a very hotly contested Ohio, where Santorum very nearly pulled off an upset. Romney did best in his home state of Massachusetts, and he did well in neighboring Vermont. He also did very well in the Idaho caucuses, where 23% of spudsters are fellow Mormons. There were no exit polls in Idaho, but in Arizona where Mormons made up 14% of the vote, they broke 96-4 for Romney on Feb 28.
Romney also did very well where he had very little actual competitors (Virginia, where Santorum and Gingrich weren’t on the ballot). Which is to say that he has done very well where he had the home field advantage (as did Gingrich) or where his most potent opponent was missing. Or Alaska.
Which goes to day that Romney is still having trouble closing the deal with Santorum racking up rack up wins in the more conservative middle bits of the continent. In Oklahoma, Santorum’s first place finish came in spite of Sen. Tom Coburn’s endorsement of Romney, while Romney actually came in third in North Dakota and just barely avoided that same fate in Oklahoma. And in Ohio, where Romney poured massive amounts of dollars into the race, he only managed to pull out a 1% win over Santorum in the bellwether state. But even there, he he lost among Evangelical, blue collar and rural voters, but won among those who were 50 and older.
But here’s the stat I find most telling: When Ohio voters were asked whether they’d support Romney in the general election regardless of who they voted for in the primary, 36% said they would not be satisfied with a Romney candidacy, versus 33% who said they’d reject a Santorum candidacy. In other words, Ohio Republicans are less willing to settle for Romney than Santorum.
But this is a race for delegates, not popular votes. And whatever weaknesses that exist in Romney’s popular support within the GOP, he’s still by far the frontrunner in the delegate race according to CNN’s count, with more delegates than his opponents combined. But at only about half way through the primaries, Romney’s still a long way from the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination. Kansas, US Virgin Islands and Guam hold caucuses next week, followed by primaries in Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii the week after that. Which means that for Romney, the long slog continues. But for the other candidates in the field, the slog is even longer.
The idea behind Super Tuesday was to bring the nomination process into clearer focus. The only thing made clear yesterday is that GOP voters would still prefer another candidates. But that’s not the choice available to them. Which means that Romney will almost certainly be the nominee when all is said and done, but what is said and done before then will continue to be the story. As Ezra Klein at the Washington Post put it, “For three guys who profess to not like the media very much, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are really making all our dreams of a long, unpredictable primary come true.”
Marriage Advocates to Challenge Ohio Marriage Ban
March 1st, 2012
From the Columbus Dispatch comes a report that the Freedom the Marry Coalition is expected to file more than 1,700 signatures today to Attorney General Mike DeWine which would change the Ohio Constitution to broaden marriage to “a union of two consenting adults, regardless of gender.” It would also add a clause stipulating that “no religious institution shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage.”
In 2004, Ohioans passed a very broad ban on same-sex unions of all kinds by a vote of 62% to 38%. That vote, coming at the same time as the 2004 presidential election, is widely credited with motivating the socially conservative base to turn out on election day and provide President George W. Bush the margin of that he needed to carry Ohio and win a second term.
If DeWine approves the ballot measure, then it goes to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will decide whether it can be placed on the ballot as one or two separate issues. This would only be the first steps. After those decisions are made, an additional 387,000 signatures will need to be collected, including a significant number in at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. This requires a significant effort in more rural counties in order to make the ballot. Equality Ohio estimates that it wold take and estimated $2.25 million just to get on the ballot. And with recent polling (PDF: 156KB/18 pages) showing that only 32% of Ohioans support marriage equality while 55% believe it should remain illegal, I’m really not sure whether this expenditure is wise in the face of other marriage battles in Maine, North Carolina, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington already.
Ohio Teen Speaks About Bullying
February 3rd, 2012
We reported last October about fourteen-year-old student Zach Huston’s vicious beating at Scioto-Union High School in Chillicothe, Ohio. The attack occurred two days after the attacker, Levi Sever, 15, posted anti-gay comments on Zach’s Facebook page. He also posted video of the attack itself on Facebook. Zach was left with a chipped tooth and possible concussion. The attacker was suspended from school for three days. After public outcry over the slap on the wrist, local prosecutors intervened. Sever was arrested, tried and sentenced to serve 90 days in a juvenile detention center.
Zach and his mother, Becky Collins, have appeared on a video released by the ACLU:
Zach and Becky describe years of unending discrimination and harassment that Zach experienced at school based on his perceived sexual orientation. As the years went on, the abuse only escalated. Becky’s pleas to school officials to protect her son were ignored.
According to the release from the ACLU, they are working with the high school to implement anti-bullying policies to address problems like this in the future