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Posts for March, 2010

Supreme Court says “yes” to DC Marriages

Timothy Kincaid

March 2nd, 2010

capitolOpponents of marriage equality in the District of Columbia have been trying everything they could think of to stop marriage license from being issued to same-sex couples tomorrow. Unable to persuade city council members from choosing discrimination, they sought to get a congressional veto.

Recognizing that their congressional efforts were simply a clown show, they went to the courts and demanded that they be allowed to vote by initiative. After the District Courts all declined their demands, they made a last ditch appeal to the Supreme Court. (AHN)

Efforts by conservatives to overturn the law have continued. A group of conservatives including clerics Harry Jackson and James Silver filed papers Monday asking the Supreme Court to stay the law.

“The D.C. Council violated the congressionally authorized process for amending the D.C. Charter and, as a result, the citizens of the District are being denied the right to refer the act to the people,” the group said in its petition.

The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled against Jackson’s group last week. Jackson and Silver, members of a coalition of community leaders and pastors called Stand4MarriageDC.com, also tried to seek approval last year from the D.C. board of elections for a ballot initiative on whether marriage should be between persons of opposite sexes.

Today Chief Justice John Roberts declined placing a stay. (AP)

The Supreme Court has refused to stop the District of Columbia’s gay marriage law.

The court on Tuesday turned down requests from gay marriage opponents to stop the law, which will take effect on Wednesday.

This is good news for DC and Maryland residents.

But it may possibly also be good news for California gay couples and those around the nation. Were Justice Roberts an anti-marriage advocate, he may have been willing to lean towards granting the stay. It is, of course, far too soon and far to speculative to assume that this is a forerunner of his position on Perry v. Schwarzenegger, but it certainly weighs on the side of hope.

Catholic Charities Ends Spousal Benefits

Jim Burroway

March 2nd, 2010

In a bid to avoid inadvertently providing spousal benefits to gay men and women who happen to be employees, Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. , has taken the extraordinary step of ending spousal benefits for all of its employees, the Washington City Paper reports.

Catholic Charities President and CEO Edward Orzechowski sent a memo out to employees yesterday informing them that spouses’ who have already been enrolled in the health plan would continue to receive care under a grandfather clause, but that new employees or newly married employees would no longer be eligible to obtain coverage for their spouses through Catholic Charities.

The change goes into effect today. The District of Columbia will begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning on March 4.

According to the Washington Post, Catholic Charities employs 850 people in the District and five surrounding Maryland and Virginia counties, but fewer than 100 use the spousal benefits option.

Forty Years of LGBT History Is Now Safe

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2010

It was a horrendous loss when the venerable Washington Blade went belly up last year. While the paper itself was thriving and profitable, it’s parent company, Windows Media, was a financial disaster. The Blade had become the LGBT paper of record for the nation’s capital, and with its tremendous access to Congress and administration figures, I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that the Blade was the nation’s paper along the lines of the New York Times or Washington Post on LGBT issues.

Today, the paper’s successor, DCAgenda, announced that they have successfully purchased the print and electronic archives and other assets of the Blade, ensuring that this historical treasure will be in safe hands.

Maryland recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere

Timothy Kincaid

February 24th, 2010

Earlier today Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler released a report that seemed to suggest – but not state – that the State of Maryland could – but perhaps didn’t have to – recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. For much of the day confusion reigned.

Now he has clarified (WaPo)

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) said Wednesday that effective immediately, and until challenged in court, the state recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and that Maryland agencies should begin affording out-of-state gay couples all the rights they have been awarded in other places.

“State agencies in Maryland will recognize out-of-state gay marriages as of right now,” Gansler said at a news conference explaining the effect of a long-awaited opinion he released Wednesday morning.

This will be particularly relevant next week when the District of Columbia will allow same-sex couple to begin to marry. Most of the residents of Maryland are within a short drive of the District and it would not be a incapacitating inconvenience to plan weddings there.

Washington Archdiocese: No Foster Family For You!

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2010

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has ended its foster-care program in response to the District’s move toward marriage equality. Catholic Charities turned their 80-year-old foster care program over to the National Center for Children and Families on February 1. Catholic Charities CEO Edward Orzechowski said that he believes the other social service programs run by the group will continue to operate as long as they don’t recognize the validity of same-sec relationships:

Asked if that meant looking at ways to avoid paying benefits to same-sex partners or ways to write benefits plans so as not to characterize same-sex couples as “married,” Orzechowski said “both, and.”

“Now we’re in a position where we need to scrutinize everything,” he said. “From our point of view, it’s important that we don’t in any way compromise our religious teaching.”

Eleven Republican legislators reveal that they oppose equality more than they oppose big government

Timothy Kincaid

February 3rd, 2010

One of the much-touted principles of the Republican Party is that government which is closer to the people is preferable to big centralized Federal government. For some Republican legislators that is just rhetoric to be ignored when big government better suits their personal agenda.

Nine Republican Senators and two Republican House Members have signed as co-sponsors to a bill to override the near-unanimous decision of the elected representatives of the District of Columbia to allow for marriage equality in that municipality. Although local elected officials and local election boards and local judges agree that this is a local decision and that it is not appropriate for the rights of some citizens to be up for majority veto, these Senators and Representatives believe that Federal intervention is the answer.

    The 9 Senate co-sponsors are Senators

    Robert Bennett (UT) – Mormon
    Sam Brownback (KS) – Catholic
    Jim Bunning (KY) – Catholic
    John Cornyn (TX) – Church of Christ (Restoration Movement)
    Mike Enzi (WY) – Presbyterian
    James Inhofe (OK) – Presbyterian
    Pat Roberts (KS) – Methodist
    David Vitter (LA) – Catholic
    Roger Wicker (MS) – Southern Baptist

    The 2 House co-sponsors are Representatives

    Jason Chaffetz (UT) – Mormon
    Jim Jordan (OH) – Grace Bible Church (independent)

This bill is going nowhere. It will not be brought up for a vote in either the House or the Senate. So the only reason to sign on is to publicly identify with the idea of forcing the city to do what the they want by use of the full power of the Federal government. These eleven Republicans do not really believe in what the Party claims to believe about local v. centralized power.

Conservatives are quick to claim that moderates who verge from the party platform on an issue or two are RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). I wonder if they will use the same term for these Republicans who have flipped the bird to one of the central tenets of the Party.

Where The Money To Overturn Same-Sex Marriage in DC Coming From?

Jim Burroway

February 2nd, 2010

Hint: None of it is coming from within Washington, D.C.. Rev. Harry Jackson’s three groups to wage three different ballot fights against DC’s new marriage equality law have raised a total of $199,000 so far. Of that, $102,192 came from Rev. Jackson’s MAryland-based High Impact Leadership Coalition. That sum is followed by $40,000 from Focus On the Family, $32,130 from the National Organization for Marriage, and $25,000 from the Family Research Council. None of the donations are from DC residents.

Chaffetz feebly tries to stop DC marriage

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2010

From the Mormon Church’s Deseret News

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced a bill Wednesday that seeks to overturn a new District of Columbia ordinance allowing gay marriage, but he predicts Democratic leaders will not allow it to come to a vote.

Not only are the Democratic leaders going to ignore Chaffetz, so are the Republican leaders. The poor guy is the Rodney Dangerfield of Congress.

Case against DC marriages thrown out

Timothy Kincaid

January 14th, 2010

A motion for summary judgment is when you tell the court that the law is so obviously on your side that a trial would be a waste of time and request that you be declared the victor up front. Litigants on both sides of an issue often request summary judgment just as a matter of practicality, but it is generally only granted if there is little question as to the outcome of a case.

The coalition of anti-gay religious leaders headed by Bishop Harry Jackson seeking to force a referendum to oppose marriage equality filed a motion for summary judgment. So did the District of Columbia.

Today Judge Judity N. Macaluso found for the District (pdf):

ACCORDINGLY, for the reasons stated above, it is this 14th day of January 2010, hereby

ORDERED, that “Petitioners’ Motion for Summary Judgment,” filed November 20, 2009, is DENIED. It is further

ORDERED, that Petitioners’ request for a writ in the nature of mandamus is DENIED. It is further

ORDERED, that “District of Columbia’s Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment,” filed December 18, 2009, is GRANTED. It is further

ORDERED, that Summary Judgment is entered in favor of the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics and the District of Columbia.

Congressmen file amicus in support of DC’s anti-gays

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2010

Two Senators and 37 members of the House (all Republicans) have filed an amicus brief in support of anti-gay activists who are suing to put marriage equality to a vote in the District of Columbia.

Their official reason is some mumble-jumble about serving “as members of the ultimate legislative authority for the District of Columbia and the very body which delegated to the District its limited legislative power under home rule”. But their basic beef comes down to, “When we said that DC residents could make their own decisions, we didn’t mean that they could make choices that we don’t like!!”

Relatedly, last night I saw GOP Party Chairman Michael Steele, arguing on Fox that Democrats are taking away the ability of people to live their lives the way they want… and using DC’s marriage law as example. I’m paraphrasing, but it seemed like he was arguing that DC residents were losing individual freedom because they were not free to vote on what their neighbors could do. Truly, it was an example of someone totally confused about the idea of personal liberty and individual freedom.

The good news is that these congressmen are only a small percentage of the Senate and the House and are even a minority in their own party (twenty years ago you’d have nearly all of the members of both parties). This is not to say that other Republicans would necessarily support marriage equality, but perhaps that they didn’t feel the need to identify themselves with the extremist right-wing caucus of Republicans who never lose an opportunity to attack the rights, freedom, and equality of gay people.

In a way, they did us a favor. We now have a nice list of the most extreme of the extreme. And while I didn’t see any surprises on the list (perhaps our readers might), it’s nice to have a compilation of equality’s biggest opponents all in one place.

Senators:

James Inhofe (Okla.)
Roger Wicker (Miss.)

Representatives:

Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio)
Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.)
Robert Aderholt (Ala.)
Todd Akin (Mo.)
Michele Bachmann (Minn.)
J. Gresham Barrett (S.C.)
Roscoe Bartlett (Md.)
Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.)
John Boozman (Ark.)
Jason Chaffetz (Utah)
John Fleming (La.)
J. Randy Forbes (Va.)
Virginia Foxx (N.C.)
Scott Garrett (N.J.)
Phil Gingrey (Ga.)
Louie Gohmert (Tex.)
Jeb Hensarling (Tex.)
Wally Herger (Calif.)
Walter Jones (N.C.)
Jim Jordan (Ohio)
Steve King (Iowa)
Jack Kingston (Ga.)
John Kline (Minn.)
Doug Lamborn (Colo.)
Robert Latta (Ohio)
Don Manzullo (Ill.)
Michael McCaul (Tex.)
Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.)
Patrick McHenry (N.C.)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.)
Jeff Miller (Fla.)
Jerry Moran (Kan.)
Randy Neugebauer (Tex.)
Mike Pence (Ind.)
Joe Pitts (Pa.)
Mark Souder (Ind.)
Todd Tiahrt (Kan.)

Feel free to walk precincts, call volunteers, work get-out-the-vote, or contribute to the campaigns of their primary and general opponents as much as possible.

DC Mayor signs marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

December 18th, 2009

fentyFrom the Washington Continent:

Dec. 18, 2009, 3:30 p.m. – D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, joined by members of the District of Columbia City Council and residents, signed into law historic legislation granting all residents the legal rights and privileges of marriage.

“Marriage inequality is a civil rights, political, social, moral, and religious issue in this country and many nations,” said Fenty. “And as I sign this act into law, the District from this day forward will set the tone for other jurisdictions to follow in creating an open and inclusive city.”

Congress will now have 30 days from the time that the bill is provided to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President to pass legislation blocking the bill. That is not expected to happen.

Washingon Archdiocese: Forget We Said All That

Jim Burroway

December 17th, 2009

Remember when the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington threatened to shut down its homeless shelters, food services and other community services if the D.C. city council approved same-sex marriage? Well now they’re saying “never mind.” In a statement issued Tuesday, the Archdiocese said:

Religious organizations have long been eligible to provide social services in our nation’s capital and have not been excluded simply because of their religious character. This is because the choice of provider has focused on the ability to deliver services effectively and efficiently. We are committed to serving the needs of the poor and look forward to working in partnership with the District of Columbia consistent with the mission of the Catholic Church.

This is the opposite of what they said before the same-sex marriage bill passed. At that time, they said they would be “unable” to continue those services if same-sex marriage became legal.

Click here to read the full statement from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Chaffetz to fight DC’s marriage law

Timothy Kincaid

December 15th, 2009

As expected, Jason Chaffetz will be the pointman assigned to overturn marriage equality in Washington, DC. (SL Tribune)

A Utah Republican renewed his pledge Tuesday to prevent the nation’s capital from allowing gay couples to marry after the Washington, D.C., Council signed off on such a measure.

That Chaffetz is visible in this effort suggests to me that the Republican Party isn’t going to put up much of a fight. Jason isn’t exactly known for either his intellect or his abilities. He was also the lead in trying to block out-of-state marriages from being recognized in the capital. I wish him equal success.

Hunting for ex-gays in Washington, D.C.

Timothy Kincaid

December 15th, 2009

The recent votes by the city counsel of Washington, DC, to first recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages and now to offer marriage equality brought out plenty of anti-gay activists. And many loudly proclaimed the healing power of Christ to overcome the homosexual lifestyle.

But among the many there in the chambers to denounce the evils of homosexuality, one demographic seemed to be missing: residents of the city who had been healed. There just didn’t seem to be any living, breathing ex-gays there to remind their elected officials to represent this often-invisible minority.

The reason may be revealed in an article by Amanda Hess in the Washington CityPaper back in September.

Unfortunately for PFOX and reporters on the sexual-orientation beat, ex-gay Washingtonians are hard to come by. Since each of my dozen or so calls to PFOX headquarters went unanswered, I am unable to confirm any of the group’s purported ex-gay offspring or friends. J. Matt Barber, a member of the PFOX board of directors, tells me that he has “a number of very close friends who are former homosexuals”—none of whom live in D.C. I do track down ex-gay minister Anthony Falzarano, who founded PFOX in Washington in 1995. Falzarano was happy to detail the hundreds of male sex partners he had in his former life, but his flamboyant ex-gayness is no use to PFOX now—Falzarano has since left D.C. for West Palm Beach, Fla. Quinlan, PFOX’s current go-to ex-gay, once called D.C. home, but he has since settled into his heterosexual lifestyle in Dayton, Ohio.

Anti-gay activists are quick to tell you that the world is just teeming with “former homosexuals”. I guess just not in DC.

D.C. legalizes marriage

Timothy Kincaid

December 15th, 2009

Following up on their vote of two weeks ago, the City Council for Washington, DC, has taken the second and final step in enacting marriage equality in the nation’s capital. (AP)

The Washington, D.C., City Council voted Tuesday to legalize gay marriage in the nation’s capital, handing supporters a victory after a string of recent defeats in Maine, New York and New Jersey.

Mayor Adrian Fenty has promised to sign the bill, which passed 11-2, and gay couples could begin marrying as early as March. Congress, which has final say over Washington’s laws, could reject it, but Democratic leaders have suggested they are reluctant to do so.

Congress will have 30 days after Mayor Fenty signs the bill to reject it. Otherwise the District of Colombia will join Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Connecticut in allowing same-sex marriages at some point early in 2010.

More biblical illiteracy from NOM

Timothy Kincaid

December 2nd, 2009

In a recent statement, National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown once again illustrates that his familiarity with his own Christian religion and its holy texts are only marginally better than that of an atheist raised as a Buddhist in Abu Dhabi.

In responding to the vote for Marriage in the nation’s capital, he declared (for the umpteenth time) that NOM would continue its fight to oppose equality.

We will fight in Congress. We will fight through the courts to get this to the people of D.C. who have a God-given right to vote for marriage and Charter-given right to overturn the council’s decision.


A God-given right to vote for marriage?
What kind of nonsense is that?

Scripture doesn’t endorse democracy, in fact quite the opposite. Kings are set up by God to rule the people and it is your duty to obey them.

Hmmmm. Come to think of it, I’ll bet Brian Brown really would support a “biblical model” for government. For all his endorsement of democracy, he seems pretty fond of theocracy.

D.C. Council Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

December 1st, 2009

The Washington Post’s blog D.C. Wire reports that the District City Council has approved same-sex marriage on an  11-2 vote. The council will have to approve it again in two weeks before it goes to Mayor Adrian Fenty for his signature. Mayor Fenty has pledged to sign the bill.

Marriage equality scheduled to come to District of Columbia tomorrow

Timothy Kincaid

November 30th, 2009

capitol
On Top Magazine:

Two states are expected to decide on whether to grant gay couples the right to marry before the end of the year, but gay marriage proponents are thoroughly sanguine about the District of Columbia, where passage of Council member David Catania’s gay marriage bill is expected to win approval on December 1.

Nearly every council member has endorsed the bill and its passage is certain. Congress has the power to overturn any legislation passed in the nation’s capital but there does not appear to be political will to do so.

And undoubtedly this will be seen as a convenience for some legislators with a conservative public image. Their staff will be able to marry without any political cost to the elected official.

Save The Blade

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2009

The staff of the Washington Blade now have an online presence here. You will soon be able to buy a brick here. They say that they will have a modest premiere of their new publication on Friday, Nov. 20. However modest that issue might be, it will still be a remarkable achievement, and indicative of the tremendous talent and drive of everyone at the Blade. It’s no wonder the Blade has been such a vitally important news source not just for Washington, but for the LGBT community nationwide. These are the people who made it so essential.

Publisher Says He Won Bid to Buy Washington Blade Before Shutdown

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2009

A Washington, D.C.-area LGBT publisher has confirmed that his company had been in the process of purchasing the Washington Blade and working toward a seamless transfer when the current owner, Window Media, abruptly ceased operations.

Window Media had been in receivership with the Small Business Administration. Nicholas Benton, owner of the weekly Falls Church News-Press confirmed in a press release that his company, Benton Communications, had won a bid in September to purchase The Blade “for purposes of a seamless perpetuation of the nation’s oldest gay community newspaper.” Benton says that he was contacted by agents representing Window Media and the SBA in late September and informed that his bid was accepted. He said that the process to complete the sale continued until Nov. 6.

“Everything was in place, although moving slowly, to make the seamless transition we hoped for. But I remain unaware of what happened, and as a result of Monday’s events, The Blade is gone after 40 years of publication, its employees are out of work, and the nation’s and region’s LGBT community has been stripped of an invaluable institution.” Benton said.

So far, there has been no word yet on why Window Media and the SBA suddenly shut down The Washington Blade and other newspapers, including Southern Voice, The Houston Voice and The South Florida Blade. Miami-based Multimiedia Platforms had been negotiating the purchase of The South Florida Blade, but has announced that they will now launch a new newspaper after hiring the former employees at the defunct paper and 411, a companion magazine.

Former Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff has said that he and other staffers plan to investigate starting a new paper. The Blade ran a profit as a standalone publication within Window Media, but not a large enough profit to keep the parent company out of bankruptcy.

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