3174 posts categorized "Human Rights"

July 24, 2014

GOP Candidate In Arizona Promises To Fight 'The Gay Lobby,' Stop Illegal Immigration 'Before It's Too Late'

Miranda Blue reports at Right Wing Watch:

In a campaign ad that began airing last week in Arizona, Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Thomas boasts of having “stood up to the gay lobby” and promises to stop undocumented immigrants “before it’s too late.”

“When I enforced the law, illegal immigrants fled this state. Now they stay and protest” Thomas, a former Maricopa County attorney, says in the ad, as he’s flanked by a mostly-white crowd.

Thomas was disbarred in 2012 after facing corruption charges. He isn’t considered a frontrunner in a large Republican field that includes executive Christine Jones, State Treasurer Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Rep. Frank Riggs, and others.

Summer of Liberty, or something

Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America on how the gays have stolen our freedoms.

Radio Raheem And The Gentle Giant

Embedding of this video by Spike Lee is disabled, so you have to click on the link to view it.

Twenty-five years after Lee's Do the Right Thing portrayed the murderous use of a chokehold by NYPD officers, and long after the use of chokeholds was banned, the real-life Eric Garner was killed by an NYPD officer in the same manner. This is murder.

July 21, 2014

President Obama signs executive orders on LGBT workplace protections

Free Speech and the Bible Museum

I want to draw your attention to an article that I have just published on the Daily Kos blog:

Free Speech and the Bible Museum

This concerns plans by the owner of Hobby Lobby to create a Bible museum a few blocks from the National Mall, and the response by Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out to the news. Besen, who has done invaluable work in exposing anti-gay junk science and religious extremism, has called for D.C. Government officials to somehow prevent the planned museum from opening. But since the museum is to be privately funded and located on private property, there is no legitimate basis to block it.

As my article discusses, GLAA has a long history of defending our opponents' First Amendment rights. This allows us to hold the moral high ground, and has won us praise, including from Washington Post columnist Colby King. We are much better off in the long run by respecting the rights of all, not just those who agree with us. Our longtime allies at the American Civil Liberties Union stand with us on this.

July 18, 2014

Obama to take executive action against anti-LGBT bias on Monday

The Blade reports:

President Obama is set on Monday to take executive action to prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees working for federal contractors and the federal government, the Washington Blade has learned.

In a conference call with reporters on Friday, senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Obama plans to amend existing executive orders barring discrimination against workers to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Déjà vu: NY father dies after police chokehold

25 years after Do the Right Thing, NYPD cops are still using the chokehold. The Root reports:

Witnesses say that Eric Garner was breaking up a fight when police approached him about selling untaxed cigarettes. A struggle ensued, a police chokehold was applied and moments later Garner was dead.

This is excessive, barbaric, and unacceptable. As Radio Rahim would say, ‪#‎fightthepower‬.

Mayor de Blasio vows a full investigation.

DOD: Chelsea Manning May Begin Transition in Prison

Advocate.com reports:

WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning has been approved to begin receiving hormone replacement therapy while serving her 35-year prison sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Associated Press reports.

This is the right decision. Denial of healthcare is not an appropriate form of punishment. All prisoners are entitled to proper healthcare, and transgender prisoners are no exception.

July 17, 2014

AFA's Bryan Fischer is sick of being bossed around by a 'little tiny minority'

Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reports:

In this video, Bryan Fischer says he can't believe America has allowed itself to be bossed around by a tiny minority of bigoted gay bullies.

USA Today ran this story on July 15 about the CDC survey to which Fischer refers. USA Today reporter Cogan Schneier asked for a comment, and I replied: "I have no expertise in population estimates, so I leave that to others. I have not read the CDC survey, which I just heard about today, so I cannot comment on their methodology. In general, I suspect that underreporting by LGB people is a potential factor in any survey, so I would look to see how the researchers sought to ensure the most accurate sampling and the fullest reporting. In any case, none of GLAA's advocacy has depended upon how many LGBT folk there are. Plainly there are more of us than the most virulent opponents of equality would like. To be clear, GLAA's advocacy includes the 'T' for transgender; I referred above to LGB because a colleague told me that the CDC researchers did not include transgenders in this survey due to difficulties they encountered in counting that population. We hope CDC overcomes those challenges and includes trans folk moving forward."

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks for the Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Marry reports:

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks shares why he supports the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. "This is the right thing to do. Individuals have rights and freedoms, and we need to allow everybody to have those same rights and those same freedoms."

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports:

For the first time in [Mississippi's] history, a sitting mayor has publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage, an announcement preceded by a wave of Mississippi towns approving anti-discrimination resolutions for LGBT residents during the first half of 2014.

Waveland Mayor David Garcia added his name to the Freedom to Marry – and LGBT rights group – list of U.S. mayors who support same-sex marriage.

Florida Keys judge overturns gay marriage ban; state AG to appeal

Steve Rothaus and David Smiley of The Miami Herald report:

A Florida Keys judge overturned the state’s 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban on Thursday, and ordered that two Key West bartenders and other gay couples seeking to wed be allowed to marry.

Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia — overjoying gay rights advocates and outraging opponents of same-sex marriage —ordered the Monroe County Clerk’s Office to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples Tuesday morning....

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi swiftly announced she would appeal Garcia’s ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal.

Connecticut Ruling Sparks Debate on Retroactive Gay Rights

Dave Collins reports for AP:

A new Connecticut Supreme Court ruling is adding to the debate on whether gay marriage rights should be applied retroactively and qualify same-sex couples for rights and benefits for which they weren't entitled before state laws allowed them to marry.

Although no states that allow gay marriage have made their laws retroactive, many same-sex partners believe they should have received Social Security survivor payments, tax breaks, inheritances and other benefits that were afforded only to heterosexual married couples before gay marriage laws were passed.

The Connecticut high court ruled unanimously Wednesday that a woman whose wife died amid a medical malpractice case may sue a doctor over the loss of her wife's companionship and income, even though that right to sue was limited to heterosexual married couples at the time. Legal experts called the decision the first of its kind in the country.

NBC News Pulls Veteran Reporter from Gaza After Witnessing Israeli Attack on Children

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(Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Gaza City on killing of four Palestinian boys by Israel. Photo credit: NBC News)

NYT reports that Israel has begun its expected ground assault on the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald reports:

Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed yesterday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately. According to an NBC source upset at his treatment, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepares a ground invasion, a claim repeated to me by an NBC executive. But late yesterday, NBC sent another correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault (both Mohyeldin and Engel speak Arabic).

Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-American with extensive experience reporting on that region. He has covered dozens of major Middle East events in the last decade for CNN, NBC and Al Jazeera English, where his reporting on the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza made him a star of the network. NBC aggressively pursued him to leave Al Jazeera, paying him far more than the standard salary for its on-air correspondents.

Yesterday, Mohyeldin witnessed and then reported on the brutal killing by Israeli gunboats of four young boys as they played soccer on a beach in Gaza City. He was instrumental, both in social media and on the air, in conveying to the world the visceral horror of the attack.

NBC, you are beneath contempt.

"I don't know if I have paralyzed you."

Mandela the master politician at work, a few months after his release from prison. In the full video of this 1990 town hall meeting in NYC (here and here), Madiba's questioners from the audience are stacked with right-wing tools trying to bait him. As this clip shows, they woefully underestimated him. At another point, he said, "Some people make the mistake of assuming that their enemies must be our enemies." Cheers erupted. I understand those cheers much better now than I did then.

July 15, 2014

Marriage News Watch

AFER's Matt Baume provides an update on marriage equality developments across the country, including a surprise victory in Colorado.

Republican ENDA backers dig in while LGBT supporters jump ship

Ros-Lehtinen

Metro Weekly reports.

I heard the same yesterday from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who was interviewed by Atlantic Editor-at-large Steve Clemons at a Women of Washington event at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. She criticized the bill's LGBT critics for insisting on perfection, and described the religious exemption as moderate and reasonable, while acknowledging that ENDA (which has passed the Senate) only has 9 Republican co-sponsors in the House.

Sorry, Congresswoman, but nine Republicans do not a surge of bipartisan support make. As for a reasonable religious exemption, why should the standard be any different for LGBT people than for the groups protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act? I am sorry, but ENDA only focuses on employment discrimination to start with, and to have an overly broad religious exemption on top of that gives us little to rally around.

Ros-Lehtinen also mentioned she is pro-life. If one of her fellow Republicans is elected president in 2016, and has a chance to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she will doubtless be pleased at the likely loss of women's reproductive rights. The gay rights movement gained a great deal from the women's rights movement. Indeed, the 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas that overturned remaining state anti-sodomy laws grew out of a string of constructive-due-process rulings starting with Griswold v. Connecticut and continuing through Eisenstadt v. Baird and Roe v. Wade.

I would love to know how Ros-Lehtinen squares supporting my rights while pulling out one of the foundations of our movement. But given the glib political answers she gave to several questions, it wouldn't leave me any more enlightened. I thanked her afterward for her support of gay rights, but given that, the last time I checked, she was the only member of the Republican caucus to have gotten a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign, if this is the best the GOP can do, we shouldn't get our hopes up.

(Photo of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen courtesy The Washington Post)

Holder: DOJ will file brief in marriage case before Supreme Court

But you knew that.

July 12, 2014

Cultural appropriation goes in multiple directions

Sierra Mannie is a senior at the University of Mississippi, in whose student newspaper she wrote a strong article that has been picked up by Time. It is titled, "Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture," and here's how it opens:

I need some of you to cut it the hell out. Maybe, for some of you, it’s a presumed mutual appreciation for Beyoncé and weaves that has you thinking that I’m going to be amused by you approaching me in your best “Shanequa from around the way” voice. I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t care how well you can quote Madea, who told you that your booty was getting bigger than hers, how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you’ve been bottoming — you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.

She then explains. She makes legitimate points. But then I read a response on Tumblr by my friend David Mariner, Executive Director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community. Here are a few excerpts from his thoughtful and eloquent piece:

The second thing I need you to know is that I can’t change who I am. I know you may suggest, as you did in your article, that gay men can simply ‘hide’ who they are. Perhaps I should lower the pitch of my voice artificially? Butch it up? Let me assure you, I tried that for the first twenty years of my life, and it came very close to killing me. I can’t hide who I am, nor should I....

Fourth up, and I really need you to hear this one, many of the expressions, sayings, mannerisms, and culture that you claim white men have appropriated from black women.... well a lot of it never really belonged to to straight women to begin with. It originated from LGBT culture, and predominately the Black and Latino Gay scene. Do a little research and look into Ball Culture. Watch Paris is Burning or Tongues Untied. Learn where all those expressions come from.

I encourage you to read both pieces. In a diverse society, respect and understanding must be reciprocal.

July 11, 2014

Laborers and newcomers: who are the heroes?

Proposition-8-580

Jeffrey Toobin blogs at The New Yorker on the controversy over a couple of celebrity super lawyers hogging credit for the work of a generation of marriage equality activists.

It's not the best piece on this subject. The flap over credit hogging is hard to separate from HRC's relentless star-fucking, which short-shrifts the thousands of us at the state and local level without million-dollar P.R. operations who were laying the groundwork years before Griffin, Olson, and Boies showed up. Plus those paying attention know that the Windsor case was far more important in its impact, since the Prop 8 case was thrown out for lack of standing, leaving the District Court ruling in place that only affected California.

Update: Andrew Sullivan responds to Toobin:

The issue is not between laborers and newcomers; it’s between laborers and a tiny number of newcomers who declared themselves indispensable saviors of a movement that had previously been allegedly “languishing in obscurity” – and then launched on a lucrative publicity tour to cement their place in history (something also that no one had ever done before). So no, Jeffrey, the correct historical analogy of Ted Olson is not to white freedom-riders in the South. They didn’t turn around and claim exclusive credit for the work of African Americans and then bill them over $6 million.

And no, Jeffrey, it isn’t just about the first paragraph. The framing of this lawsuit as “the legal battle to bring marriage equality to the nation” was the central message of the book, which is why Toobin used that exact phrase in his now-embarrassing blurb. It was neither of those things, as Toobin must now know. And as for the first paragraph, you know who doesn’t regret or retract a word of it, even when given several opportunities to do so? Jo Becker. There’s only so much the media establishment can do to keep a lie alive. And I guess Jeffrey just did his part.

100 rubles says this isn't gay propaganda

HuffPost reports:

A Russian politician is referencing his country's "gay propaganda" law in hopes of overhauling the design of a banknote he's deemed pornographic.

Roman Khudyakov, a member of parliament for the nationalist LDPR party, wants to change Russia's 100-ruble banknote (worth less than $3), which depicts an image of a statue of Apollo that appears atop the Bolshoi Theater, Reuters originally reported. Khudyakov said he opposes the design because "you can see clearly that Apollo is naked, you can see his genitalia."

O-100-RUBLE-NOTE-570

How appropriate that the Bolshoi would be involved. Incidentally, and I hate to mention this, but in the photo of the sculpture it appears that the horses' penises have been cut off.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

First Denver same-sex couple gets marriage license after judge's ruling

The Denver Post reports:

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson was beaming as she awaited the first couple to walk through the doors.

"It's so gratifying," she said. "I'm so excited. I was just talking with someone on the phone, and I said, 'I didn't think it would ever happen in my lifetime.' "

Johnson began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday, just hours after Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman rejected a request by the state to stop the Boulder clerk from continuing to do so. Hartman's ruling has potentially thrown open the doors as elected county clerks across the state consider whether they will begin issuing the licenses, despite the risk that they may later be declared invalid.

The ruling was the second defeat in two days in Colorado Attorney General John Suthers' effort to defend the state's voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

Blade: GLAA opposes ENDA over religious exemption

Jeri_Hughes_and_Rick_Rosendall_insert_cMichael_Key
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Blade reports:

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, D.C.’s leading non-partisan LGBT advocacy group, voted at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night to declare its opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA.

GLAA becomes one of the first prominent local LGBT groups to join a growing number of national LGBT advocacy organizations that have announced their opposition to ENDA within the past two weeks.

GLAA's statement is here.

Wisconsin appeals gay marriage ruling

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Thursday appealed a decision from last month that struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage.

The two Republicans filed a two-page notice of appeal that will soon be followed up with a full brief explaining their legal arguments.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in June found the state's gay marriage ban violated the U.S. Constitution, but she stayed her order so Van Hollen and Walker could pursue an appeal.

Thursday's filing puts the case before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. It comes amid a wave of court rulings across the nation striking down state bans on same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to ultimately determine whether gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry.

The 7th Circuit is already hearing an appeal of a decision striking down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage. The appeals court last week agreed to put that case on a fast track.

On Wednesday, Utah officials announced that they are appealing the 10th Circuit's ruling in their marriage case to the U.S. Supreme Court, making Utah's gay marriage ban the first to be appealed to SCOTUS since the Windsor ruling in June 2013. Which case, if any, the high court will hear in the coming term remains to be seen.

Perkins: 'Liberal Jewish Folk' Wrong To Favor Gay Rights, It Will Hurt Israel

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council explains how those Israel is endangered by "those who are pushing to make homosexuality and other forms of sexuality that deviate from God's design not just acceptable by the broader society but in many cases preferred under our law." I'd love to hear the details of how he thinks we are seeking an advantage rather than equality. But more noteworthy is the entire tone of his remarks, which suggests that he is no mere cynic but actually believes the presumptuous, dire nonsense he spouts.

July 09, 2014

Washington Lawyers' Committee approves

Our friends at the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs tweeted today during the Judiciary Committee hearing on three bills. I testified for GLAA on two of them, including the bill to repeal Prostitution Free Zones. @WashLaw4CR liked what I had to say, including my statement about redlining during questioning.

GLAA testifies for repeal of Prostitution Free Zones

RJR_and_allies_testify_on_PFZ_repeal
(At witness table: Cyndee Clay, HIPS; Kishan Putta, ANC 2B; Maneka Sinha, Public Defender Service; Rick Rosendall, GLAA)

Today I testified for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-760, the Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014. I filled in for GLAA Secretary Saul Cruz, who was out sick. Below is my reading text. Full written testimony is here.

Good morning, Chairman Wells. I am Saul Cruz, Secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which was founded in 1971.

GLAA strongly supports repeal of Prostitution Free Zones, as we testified in 2012. We therefore thank Councilmembers David Grosso, David Catania, and Mary Cheh for introducing Bill 20-760, the "Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014."

The use of PFZs facilitates discriminatory profiling of transgender people. As our colleagues in the DC Trans Coalition note:

  1. The Attorney General has determined that PFZs cannot be defended in court and are likely unconstitutional.
  2. MPD suspended PFZ implementation and said it was working to rescind its PFZ general order.
  3. Eliminating PFZs is a step toward reducing violence against sex workers.
  4. PFZ repeal makes sense from a public health perspective.

In our written testimony we quote extensively from 2005 testimony by Stephen M. Block, then legislative counsel for ACLU of the Nation's Capital. I will not read those passages. I will just note that we include his many case law citations to emphasize that PFZs are not only ineffective and harmful, but unconstitutional.

Continue reading "GLAA testifies for repeal of Prostitution Free Zones" »

GLAA testifies on marriage dissolution amendment bill

Earlier today, I presented testimony for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-793, the "Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Clarification Amendment Act of 2014." I filled in for GLAA Secretary Saul Cruz, who was out sick. Below is my reading text. Official copy is here.

Good morning, Chairman Wells. I am Rick Rosendall, President of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which was founded in 1971.

Bill 20-793, the "Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Clarification Amendment Act of 2014," amends the D.C. Code to clarify that the mechanism for the dissolution of marriage includes divorce and legal separation. We thank Chairman Mendelson for introducing it. We support the bill with a recommended change.

We agree with Professor Nancy Polikoff that the bill should be amended to make it clear that the court can decide matters of property division and spousal support. As she explained in an email on May 7, "[F]or a same-sex couple married in DC but domiciled in a non-recognition state, there is no other place that will determine a division of property and an award of spousal support if appropriate because those laws apply only to married couples and the state of domicile does not consider them married."

If District judges think they cannot divide property or award spousal support in such cases, it is best to be explicit. We will leave the amendatory language to Professor Polikoff. We thank her for lending her expertise, which has been invaluable in helping the District navigate its journey to equality for same-sex couples and their families. The greatest challenge, as in this case, has stemmed from the confusion and gaps in legal protection caused by differences in family law from state to state. We cannot be governed by speculation as to when the U.S. Supreme Court may end all such confusion by establishing marriage equality nationwide. So let us clarify our law this year.

Thank you.

Geidner: Three Reasons LGBT Groups Are Fighting Over A Bill That Isn’t Going To Become Law

LGBT_logos

An interesting analysis by Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed.

GLAA opposes ENDA over sweeping religious exemptions

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
www.glaa.org

For Release:
July 8, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall
(202) 328-6278

GLAA opposes ENDA over sweeping religious exemptions

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA) voted at its monthly meeting on July 8 to adopt the following statement. It may be attributed to GLAA President Rick Rosendall.

GLAA joins the growing list of LGBT rights organizations that oppose the present version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In its current form, sweeping religious exemptions in ENDA could enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law by allowing far more organizations to bypass civil rights protections than are permitted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Furthermore, provisions added by Senator Rob Portman through amendment seek, in his words, "to ensure that government cannot penalize a religious employer because it qualifies as exempt from the non-discrimination requirements of ENDA." These assurances could weaken existing state and city non-discrimination protections resulting in a step backwards in protecting the LGBT community.

Continue reading "GLAA opposes ENDA over sweeping religious exemptions" »

July 07, 2014

Marriage News Watch

An update from AFER's Matt Baume, who is in Pennsylvania this week.

George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me

Gay actor George Takei tells of when soldiers with bayonets came to his Los Angeles home when he was 5 and sent his family to a Japanese-American internment camp on a presidential order, without due process. He then talks about his heroes, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in American military history. And he explains why he loves America and is committed to democracy.

July 03, 2014

Oh no, Scott Lively is unhappy with John Oliver

International poison merchant Scott Lively is unhappy over the above segment by "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver, whom he calls "a liar and a fraud." Well he would know. Oliver, who recently moved from Comedy Central's "Daily Show" to helm his own show on HBO, is one of the best things on television. I ran a portion of his interview with Pepe Julian Onziema before, but if you haven't seen the full thing, including his intro, I recommend it. Oliver nails it, and Pepe's restraint and quiet confidence and poise in the face of ignorance and hysteria are simply astounding. I saw Pepe at the U.S. Capitol last week, and he is not someone you forget.

July 02, 2014

Federal court strikes down Kentucky's gay marriage ban

Equality's march continues.

Twin Cities archbishop accused of child molestation

1387134789000-Nienstedt
(Photo: KARE)

Local news station KARE in Minneapolis/St. Paul reports:

Archbishop John Nienstedt, the head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has been accused of inappropriately touching a minor in 2009.

In light of the accusation, the Archbishop will step down from public ministry while the church and St. Paul Police investigate the incident. The accuser alleges Nienstedt touched his buttocks during a "public photo session" following a confirmation ceremony.

I am shocked, shocked to learn that a homophobic archbishop has been accused of such a thing.

Where a company is deemed more of a person than a woman is

John Oliver gave an excellent take on the Hobby Lobby ruling the day before it was issued.

The fact that court observers saw this one coming is no comfort. Building on the corporations-are-people ruling in Citizens United, SCOTUS on Monday effectively ruled that a closely held corporation has more rights of personhood than a woman does. The notion that a company's religious views (what an absurd phrase) trump the religious rights of its employees is not only topsy-turvy, it threatens to turn every shop into a law unto itself.

Here is an excerpt of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's scathing dissent:

Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. … The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

Our friend Jonathan Rauch has an interesting take on Hobby Lobby's religious liberty claims:

Religious folks are pushing the envelope really far when they say it’s a major intrusion on their religious conscience to have to buy an insurance policy that covers choices that other people make. To me that’s kind of picking a fight. And I am very sympathetic to religious liberty claims.

I agree with the dissenting opinions in the Hobby Lobby ruling, which say, “If you find your religion being burdened by something so indirect then when does it end?” If religious folks try to withdraw too much from practices of ordinary society—if they push too hard for the right not to participate—it will backfire. It sends a bad message about their inclusivity and their willingness to engage with society.

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(Photo credit: AP/Matt Sayles)

June 28, 2014

Ben Carson: gay marriage is a Marxist plot to impose the 'New World Order'

Miranda Blue of RWW reports.

Friday's hearing on bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors

I spent 5 hours on Friday in a D.C. Council hearing on a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors (so you wouldn't have to). One highlight was Peter Sprigg of FRC expressing his fury over the bill. Special thanks to Bishop Rainey Cheeks and Rev. Graylan Hagler for their testimony, to Saul Cruz for representing GLAA, and to Alison Gill of HRC for coordinating the coalition effort. Frank Kameny would be rolling in his grave (if he had one) over the repeated invocations of NARTH and other quacks by our opponents. But we have the science, the DC Council, and 2 federal courts on our side.

Lots of groups got involved, including the DC Center, Wanda Alston Foundation, SMYAL, SPLC, The Trevor Project, American Academy of Pediatrics, PFLAG, National Association of Social Workers, American Counseling Association, Alliance for Progressive Values, People of Faith for Equality, plus survivors of reparative therapy. It was a fine demonstration of a broad and strong coalition effort. Thanks to all of them. But oh, how happy I was when Graylan Hagler's voice boomed from the witness table. It made up for so much nonsense and lies I had been listening to from our opponents.

Oh, and though HIV Testing Day and other matters kept Metro Teen AIDS from attending, they are submitting written testimony. Speaking of which, anyone is free to weigh in. From the hearing notice: "For those unable to testify at the hearing, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record. Copies of written statements can be emailed to rsmith@dccouncil.us or mailed to Rayna Smith at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Room 115, Washington, D.C., 20004. The record will close at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 11, 2014."

In the next few days I will post links to various groups' testimony over at GLAA's main website.

Stonewall 45

Tower_lights_rainbow

Happy Stonewall 45. The reason New York City celebrates LGBT Pride on the last weekend in June is of course because it was on this day in 1969 that gay patrons during a police raid of the Stonewall Inn bar decided to stand their ground.

David Boaz of the Cato Institute reflected in 2011 on the impact of resistance: "Sometimes all it takes is one person or a few people saying, “We’re not going” to light the spark of a movement or a revolution." (Hat tip: Stephen H. Miller)

Contrary to legend, the gay rights movement did not start that night in 1969. People like Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny were already at work before then. But Stonewall was a crucial flashpoint that broadened the movement beyond the relative handful of people who were active before. So we celebrate. Nowadays (specifically since 2009), the celebration also happens at the White House, where President and Mrs. Obama will host a few hundred LGBT folk on Monday, June 30. (Nope, not me. I did attend in 2009, as Frank Kameny's date. And no, I could not resist doing my Jackie Kennedy impression: "This is the Blue Room. We decided to leave it just the way it was when President Blue lived here.")

Regarding the Empire State Building's tower lights, ESB's website explains:

The international icon of the New York skyline, since 1976 the Empire State Building’s tower lights have maintained a tradition of changing color to recognize various occasions and organizations throughout the year.

Everything changed in 2012, when ownership installed a new computer driven LED light system. The system is capable of displaying 16 million colors, which can change instantaneously.

We stage dazzling light shows celebrating holidays and events, often synchronized to music broadcast simultaneously on Clear Channel radio stations. Just search "Empire State Building Light Shows" on YouTube to see the shows!

(BTW, June 27 is sometimes given as the date of the start of the uprising. It was the night of June 27/28, and it happened after midnight.)

June 26, 2014

Catholic bishops react to Indiana marriage ruling

Tobin-front

Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Indianapolis, along with five other Indiana bishops, issued the following statement on yesterday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Young overturning Indiana's ban on same-sex marriages:

The dignity of the human person, rooted in his or her creation in the image and likeness of God, is a fundamental principle of Catholic social teaching. The Church upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, whom we accept and love as our brothers and sisters.

At the same time, the Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage as a natural union established by God between one man and one woman, intended towards the establishment of a family in which children are born, raised, and nurtured. This is not simply a matter of belief. It is at the very heart of the nature of marriage. Thus, it is not within the power of any institution, religious or secular, to redefine marriage since it is God who is its author.

Today’s decision by Richard L. Young, Chief Judge United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, to redefine the institution of marriage as an emotional partnership between two consenting adults regardless of gender ignores this fundamental and natural truth of marriage and opens its definition to the whims of public opinion.

With deep respect for all our brothers and sisters, we nevertheless see no basis in law or in nature for any definition of marriage that seeks to expand it beyond that of a covenant between one man and one woman. Our position on this matter seeks only the common good of all men and women as well as the health and well being of families.

As pastors, we will continue to preach and teach the truth of marriage as it is ordered by God, encouraging all people to embrace the fullness of that truth, while upholding the dignity of all persons. We will continue to work through the Indiana Catholic Conference to encourage our legislators and judges to uphold this truth as well. We urge all involved in this issue to conduct themselves with mutual respect and civility in public discourse.

Notice the utter blindness to church-state separation. As Frank Kameny would say, "Your God may say that. Mine does not." We are free to believe differently than His Excellency. In addition, his statements about nature are an attempt to dictate what nature is rather than observe it. That suggests unfamiliarity with, if not hostility toward, the scientific method.

Libertarians and Gay Marriage

Boaz_david

Our friend David Boaz at Cato Institute sends the following, which I publish with his permission:

In the moving HBO documentary “The Case against 8,” Chad Griffin jokes at one point that if the chairman of the Cato Institute supports marriage equality, maybe he should rethink his position. Of course he’s joking. But the implication is that it’s some sort of surprise to find a libertarian scholar supporting equality under the law, perhaps because of the mistaken impression that the Cato Institute is, or libertarians in general are, are “right-wing.” In fact, of course, libertarians were ahead of liberals on gay rights. The Libertarian Party Platform of 1972 called for an end to laws regulating voluntary sexual behavior, and the Party issued a pamphlet in 1976 that endorsed marriage equality. Cato’s amicus brief was cited in the Supreme Court’s Lawrence decision. Indeed, in this Cato video from 2011 John Podesta says you probably had to be a libertarian to have supported gay marriage 15 years earlier:

http://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-video/constitutional-case-marriage-equality

Here’s the Cato Institute chairman’s take on Griffin’s comment, along with a video clip:

http://www.cato.org/blog/case-against-8

David Boaz
Executive Vice President
Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202)842-0200
http://www.cato.org/people/boaz.html

Check out my blog: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/author/david-boaz/
and my books: Libertarianism: A Primer (the theory); The Libertarian Reader (the history); The Politics of Freedom (essays on politics, policy, and libertarianism); and The Libertarian Vote (ebook on libertarians in the electorate).

As it happens, I mentioned Cato's support for marriage equality in my latest column, "When Rights Collide." Those suffering from what philosopher Stephen Toulmin called "hardening of the categories" would do well to recall Hamlet: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."