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Posts for November, 2014

And the purple grows

Timothy Kincaid

November 20th, 2014

marriage 2014

As Jim has let us know, we now can add Montana to the states in which one can legally marry their same-sex partner. Also, the Supreme Court has denied a stay in South Carolina and marriages there have begun.

We are now up to 36 states (plus the District of Columbia) in which there is marriage equality (purple).

There are four states in which federal courts have ruled for marriage equality but which are within the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the only appeals court in which the bans on same-sex marriage have been upheld (red).

The remaining states are in circuits in which an appellate court has not ruled and, in some cases, in which neither a federal nor state court has yet heard the marriage question.

In Texas and Arkansas, federal courts have ruled for equality but the ruling is stayed pending appeal. In Florida, a pro-equality ruling is stayed until January. In Louisiana, a federal judge ruled for exclusion and a state judge ruled for equality (but under the federal, not state constitution).

The Most Momentous Supreme Court Non-Decision Ever Made

Jim Burroway

October 6th, 2014

EqualityChart

With today’s Supreme Court non-decision, about 53% of all Americans now live in jurisdictions with marriage equality. That’s twenty-four states and the District of Columbia. Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Utah will open their clerk offices to same-sex couples as soon as the various Federal District Courts go through their formalities. Those formalities are already out of the way in Colorado, Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah. Things are happening so fast I wouldn’t be surprised if Indiana gets the go-ahead before I finish writing this post. Meanwhile, you can expect that Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming will follow suit any day now, since they too are now bound by the decisions already handed down in the in the 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit, and 10th Circuit Courts of Appeals.

The biggest wild card remains the Sixth Circuit, which heard oral arguments last August in a Michigan challenge to that state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That court also heard oral arguments from four other states — Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee — challenging those states’ bans on recognizing legal marriages from out of state. If the Sixth Circuit goes all contrarian and upholds any of those bans, then we could expect the issue to be dropped once again at the Supreme Court’s footsteps.

And to think that barely over a decade ago, our relationships were still criminalized in fourteen states.

Now, it’s possible that the three-judge panel in Cincinnati may rule against marriage equality. It’s also conceivable that a three-judge panel in the Fifth, Eighth and Eleventh Circuits could uphold a same-sex marriage ban in, say, Louisiana, for example.

But if one did, it seems much more likely that the entire circuit would step in for an en banc decision. But even if that didn’t happen, then sure, maybe an anti-equality decision could conceivably make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But by then, some two-thirds or more of all Americans are likely to be living in marriage equality states. Would the Supreme Court go back and overturn all of that? That now seems preposterous. Today’s non-decision is the new law of the land.

Haley’s right-wing challenger supports marriage decision

Timothy Kincaid

July 29th, 2014

Nikki Haley, the Republican governor of South Carolina, is perceived to be weak by some of the state’s more extreme citizens. She simply isn’t sufficiently conservative on taxes, spending, education, or health care.

And in the race as an “Independent Republican”, seeking to provide an alternative to her radical liberalism (from a South Carolinan’s perspective), is former legislator and judge Tom Ervin. But Ervin may not tick all of the boxes one might expect from those to the right of Haley. (CharlestonCityPaper)

Ervin writes:

Government does not belong in the bedroom. My personal faith affirms that marriage is between a man and a woman but under our Constitution, people in this country are afforded equal protection under our laws.

This means that anyone should be free to marry the person they love. Government should not be in the bedroom, but it should also not be in the church. Individual churches should be allowed to decide which marriage ceremonies they want to perform.

Further action on this matter, such as an appeal by the state, is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Well, ummm, yeah exactly!

So far, Haley has expressed support for the ban and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen was noncommital.

States Defy Pentagon Order Requiring Equal Treatment for Guard Members

Jim Burroway

November 4th, 2013

Several GOP-led states have vowed to resist Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s order requiring National Guard to issue ID cards to spouses of Guard members who are in same-sex marriages. Those ID cards are critical for accessing spousal benefits. According to Reuters:

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the Republican head of the National Governors Association, called on President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to “stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda,” her spokesman, Alex Weintz, said in a statement on Friday.

“The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage. He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions,” Weintz said.

Josh Havens, a spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry, said, “Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such is obligated to adhere to the Texas Constitution and the laws of this state which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman.”

Nine states were initially identified as refusing to issue identity cards to same-sex spouses: Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and West Virginia. Reuters reports, “Indiana notified the Pentagon on Friday it had begun issuing the cards after a month-long review, a move defense officials said they welcomed.”

Louisiana has also confirmed that they will also defy Sec. Hagel’s order, while Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said she is exploring her legal options. Georgia’s National Guard has said it will ignore Hagel’s order.

Defense Secretary Orders State National Guards To Treat Gay Couples Equally

Jim Burroway

November 1st, 2013

Since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, the Defense Department has been rushing to implement policies designed to treat legally wedded same-sex couples equally with married couples generally. But several states have refused to issue Defense Department ID cards to same-sex spouses of National Guard members. Those states include Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, has announced that he is putting a stop to such discriminatory practices:

“Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation. At my direction, he will meet with the Adjutants General from the states where these ID cards are being denied. The Adjutants General will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.”

A senior defense official told the Washington Blade that the Pentagon has some critical leverage to deploy against recalcitrant states:

“These are federal ID cards paid for with federal funding to provide federally mandated benefits,” the official said. “I’m not going to speculate on our legal options.”

Bachmann Two Weeks Ago: Nobody Cares About Marriage. Bachmann Now: It’s a Fundamental Issue.

Jim Burroway

August 26th, 2011

It depends on who's asking.

GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann finally answered a question about same-sex marriage, and her answer went well beyond repeating “I am running for the Presidency of the United States.” At a townhall meeting in South Carolina on Thursday, Bachmann was asked about same-sex marriage. She responded:

“In our coalition we have fiscal conservatives, national security conservatives, the Tea Party movement, and we have social conservatives,”” she said. “You put that team together and there’s no way that we can possibly lose the election in 2012. We need to stick together.”

Bachmann even touted her time as a Minnesota state lawmaker when she introduced a bill to put a gay marriage ban up to a statewide vote. She said her bill, which failed at the time, was inspired by what she saw happen in Massachusetts when the state Supreme Court intervened and same-sex marriage eventually became legal.

“When that happened, I knew that my home state of Minnesota could be next,” she said. “Minnesota and Massachusetts have a lot in common. And I was very concerned about that. And so I introduced a bill that would allow the people of Minnesota to define marriage as one man and one woman. In my home state, I was not exactly popular for doing that measure. But I felt that it was right to let the people of Minnesota decide on the definition of marriage, not a plurality of judges.”

Unlike with her appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press where she tried to downplay her stance on marriage, she told the South Carolina gathering that marriage was “a fundamental issue, this issue of marriage, that I think it’s one the people have to vote on.” She also reiterated her support for a federal constitutional ban on marriage equality.

SC Baptists confirmed their opposition to your immoral behavior and deviant lifestyle

Timothy Kincaid

November 18th, 2010

Just in case you were wondering, the Southern Baptists in South Carolina want to make it perfectly clear that they ain’t like those homo-lovin’ Lutherans. In their state convention they voted on a resolution to remind us – in case we forgot or were confused – that they don’t like Teh Ghey so much. (Greenville online)

The resolution on “homosexuality and religious liberty” noted the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religious expression, “including speech pertaining to social and religious values.” It said Christians “must also use our freedoms to defend traditional marriage, protect the sanctity of human life, and combat the propagation of immoral behavior and deviant lifestyles.”

And they aren’t in confusion about what message they are sending.

“Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians have been portrayed by the media as intolerant or dangerous because of our commitment to Christ and our belief in biblical precepts,” it said.

Yep. I’d say that pretty much covers it. Intolerant and actively endangering the lives of children who grow up hearing them spew their bile.

Sen. DeMint Fears A Gay President

Jim Burroway

December 15th, 2009

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), tea-bagger and right-wing GOP insurgent, has ripped Ronald Reagan’s “big tent” to shreds. He’s an ideological purist who will only tolerate fellow ideological purists, and thinks the Republican Party should purge those who aren’t as pure as he. He’s a huge supporter of states’ rights with one exception: same-sex marriage. On that issue, he things the Federal government should usurp states’ traditional role of regulating marriage in favor of a ban on same-sex marriage:

“Governments should not be in the business of promoting a behavior that’s proven to be destructive to our society.”

He cringes at the notion of a gay or lesbian president: “It would be bothersome to me just personally because I consider it immoral.”

Not every kid can dream of growing up to be president.

Sean Kennedy’s Murderer is Free

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2009

Sean Kennedy / Stephen MollerRemember Sean Kennedy?

On May 16, 2007, Steven Moller shouted anti-gay epithets at Sean Kennedy and then attacked him. Moller then called a friend of Kennedy and left this message:

Hey. (laughter) Whoa stop. (laughter) Hey, I was just wondering how your boyfriend’s feeling right about now. (laughter) (??) knocked the f— out. (laughter). The f—— faggot. He ought to never stick his mother-f—— nose (??) Where are you going? Just a minute. (laughter). Yea boy, your boy is knocked out, man. The mother——-. Tell him he owes me $500.00 for breaking my god—- hand on his teeth that f—— bitch”

Kennedy died. And in June 2008 South Carolina’s judicial system decided that five years, reduced to three, minus seven months for time served was adequate punishment.

Now, after a reduced sentence for getting his GED, Mohler is free. His life goes on. His debt is paid. And I’m sure his hand healed nicely.

As for Sean Kennedy? Yeah, Sean is still dead.

I’m sure there’s a parable to this story, but right now I’m too nauseous to think of it.

Gov. Sanford Admits To “Hiking the Appalachian Trail”

Jim Burroway

June 24th, 2009

if you know what I mean:

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) admitted that he had conducted an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina who he had gone to visit over the last five days — during which time a massive media story developed over where he was and why.

“I have been unfaithful to my wife . . . I developed a relationship with what started as a dear dear friend,” said Sanford.

He said that he had met the woman, who he did not name, roughly eight years ago and that it had become romantic within the last year. He visited her three times during the past year, Sanford said, and noted that his wife, Jenny, had been aware of the affair for the past five months.

I have a feeling that “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” is fast becoming a new euphemism for “that whole sparking thing.”

Gov. Sanford hasn’t resigned as governor yet, although he has resigned as chair of the Republican Governors Association. The Values Voters Summit quickly scrubbed Sanford from their list of invited speakers The State has posted emails from Sanford to the unnamed woman they obtained last December. They haven’t explained why they held those emails until now. Maybe it’s because they feared publishing it would be a crime against the high art of purple prose:

I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night’s light – but hey, that would be going into sexual details.

Sanford was serving in the House of Representatives during President Clinton’s impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky affair, which he described as “reprehensible”:

This is “very damaging stuff,” Sanford declared at one point, when details of Clinton’s conduct became known. “I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign)… I come from the business side,” he said. “If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he’d be gone.”

Explaining his decision to back impeachment articles against Clinton, he added, “I think what he did in this matter was reprehensible… I feel very comfortable with my vote.”

Sanford is against same-sex marriage and civil unions, and voted against allowing gay couples adopt children. He also chose to spend Father’s Day away from his own wife and four kids. Go figure.

Sean Kennedy Murderer Denied Parole

Jim Burroway

February 11th, 2009

We reported last month that Stephen Moller, Sean Kennedy’s murderer, was seeking parole this month. We’ve now learned that Moller’s request for parole was denied Wednesday morning.

Stephen Moller was originally charged with murder for the death of Sean Kennedy, 20, who was attacked outside a Greenville County, S.C. bar on May 16, 2007. Witnesses said that Moller shouted anti-gay epithets at Kennedy before attacking him. Sean died of his injuries. While Moller was originally charged with murder, a grand jury reduced the charges to involuntary manslaughter. Moller pleaded guilty to those reduced charges and was sentenced to five years. That sentence was then reduced to three, minus seven months for time served. Moller’s attorney said that when all is said and done, Moller will probably serve about a year and a half. With credit for time served, he is due to be released in September.

South Carolina has no hate crime law covering sexual orientation, but it does have a law that says torturing animals can get you five years in prison. Killing a gay man? Half that.

Sean Kennedy’s Murderer Up For Early Parole

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2009

Last June, we asked what a young gay man’s life was worth. A judge in South Carolina concluded that it was worth about a year and a half. That’s the sentence that Stephen Moller received for the death of Sean Kennedy. Sean, 20, was attacked outside a Greenville County, S.C. bar on May 16, 2007. Witnesses said that Moller shouted anti-gay epithets at Kennedy before attacking him. Sean died of his injuries.

Moller was originally charged with murder, but the grand jury reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter. Moller pleaded guilty to those reduced charges and was sentenced to five years, reduced to three, minus seven months for time served. Moller’s attorney said that when all is said and done, Moller will probably serve about a year and a half. With credit for time served, he was due to be released in September 2009.

Well, now it’s possible that Moller could be out of prison as early as February. A web site set up in Sean Kennedy’s memory, Sean’s Last Wish, is asking for your help:

The parole board is currently conducting an investigation to decide whether to allow him to have a parole hearing, so it is critical that they hear from you that Stephen Andrew Moller violently murdered Sean Kennedy and should serve the remainder of his sentence!

Please consider writing a letter to the parole board and ask them to deny Stephen Moller parole and serve out his sentence. In your letter, please remind the board of the violent and unprovoked nature of Moller’s offense and the pain and suffering it has caused in the lives of Sean Kennedy’s family and friends. If you have the time, please write a personal letter by hand or by computer, as those will be the most effective, and if you knew Sean or his family personally, please include that information.

Also, please let Elke know if you send a letter and if possible, send her a copy of the letter, so she can have copies to take with her to the parole hearing.

Be sure to include Moller’s full name and ID number:
Stephen Andrew Moller  -  SCDC ID # 00328891.

Send your letters to:
Department of Probation Pardon and Parole Services
2221 Devine Street, Suite 600, PO Box 50666
Columbia SC 29250

Please forward to your contacts, friends and family.
Thank you for all of your support!

Anderson County Teen Charged With False Report

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2008

Last week we noted a report from South Carolina about an un-named teen who was alledgedly beaten by his father with a baseball bat because he was gay. That teen, 18-year-old Dwight Clark Ables, accused his father of yelling and swinging a bat at him on July 13 after attending a gay pride festival. Ables also said his father forced him out of the house.

That teen has now been charged with filing a false report:

After conducting a thorough investigation and the lack of any forensic evidence to support the allegation of the assault, Dwight Clark Ables has been charged with 1 count of Filing a False Police report. He turned himself in today at the Anderson County Sheriff’s office,” read a press release from the Department’s Public Information Officer Suzanne Griffin.

Ables is currently being held at the Anderson County Detention Center where he awaits a bond hearing.

SC Gay Teen Beaten By Father With Baseball Bat

Jim Burroway

July 18th, 2008

An unnamed 18-year-old teen returned to his Anderson County home following a gay pride parade, where he was assaulted by his father with a baseball bat. The teen’s father yelled, cursed, swung a bat, prayed and tried to “cast the demon of homosexuality out of him,” according to the report made to a Sheriff’s deputy. When the teen returned to the house for clothes an hour later, the father punched him again.

The assaults reportedly took place on Sunday, and the teen filed a report with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday. Both assaults are under investigation.

What Is A Young Gay Man’s Life Worth?

Jim Burroway

June 11th, 2008

Sean Kennedy / Stephen MollerAbout a year and a half, with parole.

That’s the sentence that Stephen Moller received today for the death of Sean Kennedy. Sean, 20, was attacked outside a Greenville County, S.C. bar on May 16, 2007. Witnesses said that Moller shouted anti-gay epithets at Kennedy before attacking him. Sean died of his injuries.

Moller was originally charged with murder, but the grand jury reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter. Moller pleaded guilty to those reduced charges and was sentenced to five years, reduced to three, minus seven months for time served. Moller’s attorney said that when all is said and done, Moller will probably serve about a year and a half.

In a statement in court today, Moller shirked responsibility for his crime, saying:

“I wish that young people weren’t allowed to be out late at night and the bars were not allowed to serve them alcohol. I think if that hadn’t taken place, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be here today.”

But contrast Moller’s statement to the court with his taunting phone call to a friend of Sean’s fifteen minutes after the assault:

Hey. (laughter) Whoa stop. (laughter) Hey, I was just wondering how your boyfriend’s feeling right about now. (laughter) (??) knocked the f— out. (laughter). The f—— faggot. He ought to never stick his mother-f—— nose (??) Where are you going? Just a minute. (laughter). Yea boy, your boy is knocked out, man. The mother——-. Tell him he owes me $500.00 for breaking my god—- hand on his teeth that f—— bitch”

Involuntary manslaughter. A year and a half.

Elke Kennedy, Sean’s mother, reacted this way:

“There was no justice today for Sean. The sentence that Stephen Moller received, in my opinion, is a joke and a slap on the wrist. Once again, it proves that in South Carolina there is no justice.”

South Carolina has no hate crime law covering sexual orientation. But hey, South Carolina Equality points out that torturing animals can get you five years in prison.

Killing a gay man? Half that.

Ms. Kennedy is right. There is no justice today.

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