No, Todd, they won't. Unlike Canada, which you cite, America has something called the First Amendment. And we at GLAA have defended our opponents' First Amendment rights time and again. Here is the latest example.
(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)
The loss of extraordinary transgender health activist Andrew Cray last week at age 28 has been hard for a lot of us to get our minds around. The August 30 memorial service at St. Thomas Church in Dupont Circle helped, as gatherings of love and respect do. Working through his illness, Andrew played a crucial role in getting the details right for Mayor Gray's historic executive action earlier this year to guarantee transgender people non-discriminatory access to health care. The service was led beautifully by Bishop Gene Robinson, who had worked with Andrew at the Center for American Progress and had officiated at Andrew's wedding to Sarah McBride six days before. The mutual grieving and celebration of Andrew among the CAP staff and local and national LGBT activists at the service was especially poignant in that he had helped so many people in such a short life.
Here is the eulogy given by Sterling Washington, Director of the D.C. Office of GLBT Affairs:
Before Amy reads the condolence letter from Mayor Gray, I wanted to say a few words about Andrew Cray. I admit to struggling with what those words would be, which is a bit unusual for me. This all seemed to happen so fast and I haven't had time to wrap my head around it. And I know that if it is difficult for me, it is unbearably arduous for his family. After all, it was just six days ago that Andy and Sarah were married and now we are eulogizing him.
To say he was an indefatigable activist is an understatement. Andrew Cray did more in his 28 years than so many accomplish in a lifetime. And he did so in service to others. For example, he worked closely with the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs last September to educate the LGBT community about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the local DC Health Benefits Exchange. But, Andrew's most enduring work with the Office involved his legal research and advice when the District moved to bar discrimination against the transgender community in health insurance. This was no easy task and was a year in the making. As we approached the end of the process, there were several surreptitious calls late at night between my Office and a handful of advocates – Andy Bowen, Kellan Baker, and Andrew. Sometimes, it involved Kellan carrying messages to Andrew, whose health had really begun to deteriorate by that point. You see, Andrew was among a handful of legal experts in the country who understood the verbiage needed to ensure our policy was as inclusive as it could be. To be clear, many activists had begun laying the groundwork for this years ago; however, when it came to shaping and actually writing the policy clarification, Andrew was invaluable. Because of his work and that of a handful of advocates, the District has the most comprehensive policy barring discrimination in health insurance (including Medicaid) on the basis of gender identity of any jurisdiction in the country. We are mourning Andrew today, but the fruits of his labor will live on and help so many get the life-saving procedures they so desperately need. And not just here in DC. On Thursday – the day that Andrew died – the city of Cincinnati decided that it would cover gender reassignment surgeries.
Aside from his work, Andrew's passing leaves a hole in the heart of so many of us here. And that is harder to speak to. His love, energy, and friendship still endures albeit in a different state now. And we will carry with us every day the memory of those and we are indeed changed – in a positive way - because our lives were touched by his.
Mayor Gray's condolence letter was read by GLBT Affairs Deputy Director Amy Loudermilk.News reports at the Blade and Think Progress. Cray wrote an op-ed at Advocate.com in March of this year. May this beautiful young man rest in peace. He has certainly left the world better than he found it.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today praised federal court Judge Martin Feldman for ruling today that the US Constitution does not preclude the state of Louisiana from defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and that voters made a rational decision in doing so when they adopted the state's marriage amendment. Feldman becomes the third federal judge to have ruled that traditional marriage laws are not unconstitutional, and the first since the US Supreme Court issued their decision invalidating a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. A state judge in Tennessee has also ruled that the US constitution does not prohibit states from defining marriage a one man and one woman.
"Here we see the house of cards collapsing that supported the myth that redefining marriage is inevitable," said Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "This decision by Judge Feldman in Louisiana is a great win for the cause of marriage, coming as it does on the heels of other pro-marriage court victories, that puts the lie to the claim that it is inevitable the US Supreme Court will redefine marriage. To the contrary, we believe they will leave this issue with the states."
Matt Baume of AFER gives an update on marriage equality cases.
Richard Wolf at USA Today examines the pros and cons of various state marriage equality cases being chosen for review by the Supreme Court of the United States. My bet is on Utah.
Mark Joseph Stern at Slate has excerpted a string of audio clips from Tuesday's 7th Circuit hearing on the Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans, in which conservative Judge Richard Posner quietly and brutally exposes the bankruptcy of the state governments' position.
Listening to the audio has a much more powerful impact than just reading Posner's words on the page. I think this is going to be a legendary moment when the history of this struggle is written. Judge Posner is devastating.
The Daily Mail reports on Tuesday's hearing before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans:
Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, hit the backers of the ban the hardest. He balked when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to "tradition" as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.
"It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away," the 75-year-old judge said. Prohibition of same-sex marriage, Posner said, derives from "a tradition of hate ... and savage discrimination" of homosexuals....
Posner, who has a reputation for making lawyers before him squirm, cut off Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher just moments into his presentation and frequently chided him to answer his questions.
At one point, Posner ran through a list of psychological strains the children of unmarried same-sex couples suffered, including having to struggle to grasp why their schoolmates' parents were married and theirs weren't.
"What horrible stuff," Posner said. What benefit to society in barring gay marriage, he asked, outweighs that kind of harm to children? ...
At one point, a visibly uncomfortable Samuelson struggled to offer a specific reason for how gay marriage bans benefit society. He then noted a yellow courtroom light was on signaling his allotted time was nearly up.
"It won't save you," Judge Ann Claire Williams, a Bill Clinton appointee, told him, prompting laughter in court.
(Photo of Judge Richard Posner courtesy University of Chicago Law School)
Anti-gay crackpot Eugene Delgaudio's latest cry against gay people taking away his religious liberty.
Fayetteville, Arkansas mayor Lioneld Jordan strongly advocated an anti-discrimination ordinance in the early hours of August 20. It was then passed by the city council. Congrats to the people of Fayetteville and their elected leaders.
Florida AG Pam Bondi says y'all can just stay in limbo until SCOTUS rules.
Chris Johnson reports in the Blade. You can get the flavor from his tweets:
Daughtry skeptical about procreation argument. Responding to Qs, Tenn. lawyer refused to say why excluding gay couples advances procreation.— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) August 6, 2014
Sutton said ban "does seem harder to justify even on rational basis grounds" through lens of changing perception of purpose of marriage.— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) August 6, 2014
Marriage bans took a beating. 2 justices - Daughtry and Sutton - were skeptical of laws. Cook was quiet, but seemed to want to uphold them.— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) August 6, 2014
On the Oklahoma case: AP reports:
The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage is constitutional.
The appeal was filed Wednesday by an organization representing Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith, who was sued after refusing to grant a marriage license to a same-sex couple several years ago.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the couple last month, upholding a federal judge's ruling that found the ban unconstitutional. However, those rulings are on hold as the case moves through the courts, meaning same-sex couples haven't been allowed to marry in Oklahoma.
We have heard this endlessly, of course; but I've never been clear as to exactly how my right to marry the man I love could endanger all of Western civilization. Still waiting for that explanation.
Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:
An anti-LGBT activist writing for Alan Keyes’s Renew America this weekend called gay adoption “a crime against humanity” that must be stopped.
“If, as a society, we claim to truly be against the abuse and harm of our children, then we have a moral responsibility to keep them out of the hands of gay couples, whether ‘married’ or not,” Tim Dunkin of Conservative Underground wrote. “Don't let perverts corrupt our kids while trying to live out an impossible fantasy.”
But he wasn’t done there. He went on to insist that “handing children over to gays to be raised” is actually “worse” than “locking them in hot cars for hours on end,” writing that no society should “allow gays to ‘recruit’ children into the constellation of ‘queer’ lifestyles.”
The Daily News today reports that the NYC Medical Examiner has ruled that Eric Garner was killed by a police chokehold, a restraining tactic that is still being used despite being long forbidden.
Breaking news , I am officially legal . The constitutional court in Uganda has declared anti homosexuality law 2014 null and void— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) August 1, 2014
Frank Mugisha has just tweeted this great news from the constitutional court in Uganda. Congrats to him and his colleagues. This does not immediately protect LGBT folk there from mob violence. Lord knows what President Museveni or Martin Ssempa will say. They could stir up public backlash further. So our friends in Uganda must still be very careful. But the court's ruling is most welcome news. Stay tuned for details, but based on what was said in court yesterday, the ruling may be based on the fact that Speaker Kadaga held the vote on the bill without a quorum.
Update: Mugisha posted this follow-up:
Still in celebration mood safely made it out of court amidst crowd of journalists & demos' by anti gay groups - UG anti gay law nullified— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) August 1, 2014
Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch reports:
The anti-marriage-equality movement seems to have anointed Ryan T. Anderson as its next intellectual leader. Anderson, who is now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, follows in the footsteps of his mentor Robert P. George and National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher in being able to talk about the marriage issue without spewing fire and brimstone or talking about how gay people make them want to vomit.
This kinder, gentler approach has endeared Anderson and his predecessors to a movement that’s trying to snatch its image away from the likes of Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson.
But it also can obscure the fact that Anderson’s supposedly intellectual arguments against marriage equality can still be far out of the mainstream.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a lower court ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriages and on the recognition of such marriages from other jurisdictions is unconstitutional, Justin Snow reports in Metro Weekly:
A federal appeals court found Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in a ruling handed down Monday.
With a 2-1 decision, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling finding Virginia law prohibiting same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The ruling is here. The attorney general of North Carolin said after the ruling that he will no longer defend that state's same-sex marriage ban, as it will not hold up in court. Lyle Denniston discusses the ruling at SCOTUSblog. As he notes, the county clerks who defended the ban have a right to seek an en banc review by the full 4th Circuit; stay tuned on that.
Ari Ezra Waldman at Towleroad analyzes the lone dissent by Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, who during oral arguments kept calling gay relationships "new" and "different," echoing Justice Byron White's notorious opinion in the 1986 Bowers decision in which he framed the dispute over sodomy laws as whether the constitution guarantees a right to have gay anal sex. Of course the constitution lays out broad principles, and was never set up to be a list of permitted activities. Indeed, it specifies the powers of the three branches of the federal government, leaving all others to the states and the people. Conservative judges like Niemeyer were effectively rebuked in 2003 by Justice Anthony Kennedy's Lawrence decision, but they persist in their discredited, biased approach.
The celebrity superlawyer team of Boies and Olson, touted in NYT reporter Jo Becker's much-criticized book on the Prop 8 case, Forcing the Spring, were involved in the Virginia case. Be assured that they will be fighting like alley cats for the right to do the oral arguments if the Virginia case is taken up by SCOTUS.
The Catholic Bishops of Virginia slammed the 4th Circuit's decision, saying, "This action reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and is an injustice to Virginia voters." Their arguments, based on "natural law" and other doctrine dressed up in pseudoscientific drag, have been refuted many times -- as has their suggestion that voters should be able to deny a fundamental right like marriage to people they don't like. These bullies are losing, and the final blow at the Supreme Court, likely in the coming term, cannot come soon enough to suit me.
The group Faith and Action says on its "About" page:
The missionary outreaches at Faith and Action are targeted specifically toward our nation’s public policy makers and particularly to Capitol Hill. We believe such a narrowly targeted effort is the most effective method for accomplishing our mission – to challenge our leaders with Biblical TRUTH.
If you suspect they are not big fans of GLAA's work, you are right. But on Friday, I came across this tweet in response to my article, "Free Speech and the Bible Museum":
Religious Freedom: Applause where applause is due. http://t.co/iuC99hnpK1 We’re often too quick to condemn and too slow to compliment....— Faith and Action (@FAADC) July 25, 2014
Here is the praise from Faith and Action blogger kaitlynn:
We’re often too quick to condemn and too slow to compliment. So, this time we wanted to make a point to applaud the writer of this article for standing up for religious freedom to back a cause that we happen to agree with, and HE happens to disagree with.
Richard J. Rosendall (President, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance) there are plenty of things we fully disagree with you on, but find your willingness to champion the freedom of speech and religious freedoms of everyone (despite the fact that you disagree with their views, and probably taking some heat for it) impressive.
Oh, dear, I'm in trouble now! But thank you. I hear faint echoes of the famous Christmas ceasefire in WWI. Or to quote JFK: "We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
Best wishes and God bless America,
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
A friend joked that I would be run out of town by angry liberals, and offered me sanctuary in another state (which I will keep confidential in case I need it); but joking aside, it is foolish and ahistorical to think we weaken our position by defending the free speech rights of our opponents. Censorship by our side is not only obnoxious and hypocritical, it is (as my article points out) unnecessary because we have the better arguments. As another friend put it yesterday, GLAA's approach demonstrates the maturity of our movement. (Or at least our corner of it, as I said back to him.)
Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out has responded to my criticism of his effort to get District of Columbia officials to somehow block the planned Bible museum two blocks south of the National Mall. (My piece originally appeared on July 21 at Daily Kos.) Our exchange via Twitter is below.
Washington Should Reject Divisive Bible Museum Near Mall http://t.co/dpT1SlFQto— Wayne Besen (@WayneBesen) July 24, 2014
Marriage Equality USA interviews Edith Windsor on her historic victory last year against DOMA before the Supreme Court of the United States. Click here for the previous segments.
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.
I want to draw your attention to an article that I have just published on the Daily Kos blog:
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.
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.
Laurie Goodstein at NYT reports:
Just two years ago, the Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis was making headlines as a leader in the battle against same-sex marriage. But for the last year and a half, the archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, has been battling to hold onto his post in the face of a series of scandals, which further deepened on Tuesday with the filing of an explosive affidavit by the former chancellor of the archdiocese.
Your Holiness, why does this man still have a job? Kindly stop apologizing and take action.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
AFER's Matt Baume provides an update on marriage equality developments across the country, including a surprise victory in Colorado.
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)
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.
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.