1487 posts categorized "Legal"

February 05, 2014

Another missed birthday

Trayvon and Dad

Today another birthday passes that Trayvon Martin did not live to see. He would be in college now. But it wasn't just one prejudiced man that killed him. It was a culture of fear stoked by hate groups, exploited by politicians and gun manufacturers, and fed by the media. He or Jordan Davis could have been one of the teens I mentored or gave academic advice. They have so much to offer, their minds just beginning to mature and stretch in new directions, and out of the blue at any moment a seething hatred they did not earn can snuff them out. We have to push back against the hatred. We have to find more helpers to overcome it. Helping to nurture a young mind is the closest I will ever come to parenting. I don't want to outlive these kids. They deserve so much better from us than mourning.

The arbitrary pursuit of deadly confrontations by people emboldened by a gun and lubricated by a sense of untouchable privilege is itself a kind of drive-by shooting. For such a person to refer to others as thugs is like the leaders of the Catholic Church decrying others as child molesters. Clean up your own house first. We must confront this hypocrisy more forcefully in a creative and nonviolent way. We must touch our fellow citizens. And while we're at it, stop the arsonists like Fox News. But the media provide so much distraction, bread and circuses as the old phrase goes, that waking people from their complacency is a tall challenge.

Click here to see the set of draft policy principles developed by NAACP known as "Trayvon's Law." In summary:

  • Ending racial profiling;
  • Repealing stand your ground type laws;
  • Creating law enforcement accountability through effective police oversight;
  • Improving training and best practices for community watch groups; and
  • Mandating law enforcement data collection on homicide cases involving people of color.

February 04, 2014

PBS on Sochi and "homosexual propaganda"

@JeffreyBrown could be fined or jailed in Russia for this interview.

 

Russia has done similar things recently. Andranik Migranyan says that the majority of Russians want a law outlawing "homosexual propaganda". In this country we have a Bill of Rights that protects people who say things that the government or a majority of the public doesn't like.

Russians have a long history of authoritarian rule from the tsars through the Soviet Union and on to Putin. But as unrest about his continued reign grows (he has been in office far longer than their constitution allows) he needs to appeal to outside groups to maintain his power. And one of those is the Russian Orthodox Church. Giving support to this law has strengthened the churches support of Putin. On this issue opinion outside of Russia counts little.

Marriage equality heads to court in Virginia; haters rally outside

Joe Jervis writes:

Tens of anti-gay protesters appeared this morning outside of the Virginia federal courthouse hearing opening arguments in AFER's marriage equality lawsuits. In the sparse group was failed Virginia lieutenant governor candidate and freak show crackpot E.W. Jackson. Today's protest was organized by NOM, the Family Research Council, and the Virginia Family Foundation.

AFER reports on what is going on inside the court.

January 30, 2014

Enforcing an executive order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors

Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality expresses the perplexity shared by many LGBT advocates as to why President Obama has refused to sign an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination against employees of federal contractors, as he promised during the 2008 campaign.

But as our friend Kurt Vorndran, legislative representative for the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), points out, such an order would not be enforceable in practical terms unless the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) gets sufficient staffing and budget to enforce compliance. OFCCP was created by President Johnson through executive order in 1965, and expanded under Nixon. It was decimated (not eliminated) by Reagan. In other words, Reagan kept the window dressing. Right now, according to the DOL website, OFCCP has 800 staff. That is for all their EEO and affirmative action programs related to federal contracts nationwide. Firms they go after love to drag proceedings out as long as possible and then demand dismissal because the action is not timely.

House Speaker John Boehner says we have enough regulations already, but that is a mere slogan to conceal the GOP's long and relentless efforts to cripple the government's ability to regulate everything from food and medicine safety to employment discrimination. Then they decry government ineffectiveness. That is a most cynical game. The Obama administration has worked tirelessly in federal agencies to repair and restore the government's regulatory apparatus. But there is a limit to what you can do without the resources being budgeted for it.

So we need more than an executive order. We need the staffing and budget to enforce it. The devil is in the details.

Update: Kurt Vorndran adds:

In the last year of the Clinton Administration, OFCCP had an FTE level of 786. The G.W. Bush Administration decimated the office to a level of 585. By FY2011, the Obama Administration was able to restore the office to the approximate level before Bush (755 FTEs). While the office is now back to the level of staffing from 13 years ago, it has a tremendous backlog. Director Shiu has tried to make the office more efficient, but given an increase in workload since 2001, she has a tough job.

Enforcing a sexual orientation E.O. is also going to take resources as most of OFCCP's effectiveness and work comes not from individual complaint examinations but by compliance reviews. They are going to have to develop some innovative ways to do lgbt compliance reviews.

Ninth Circuit stands by decision in conversion therapy cases

Dale Carpenter at the Volokh Conspiracy discusses yesterday's decision by the Ninth Circuit standing by its decision of last year rejecting the First Amendment defense of conversion therapy on minors.

I note that Carpenter and Eugene Volokh are among the libertarian supporters of marriage equality who have submitted amicus briefs defending the Alliance Defending Freedom in its defense of anti-gay photographers, florists, and others in their claim of a religious right to discriminate. Their attempt to thread the needle is seriously off-track, in my view, as its logic would unravel the Civil Rights Act. But Dale does see a distinction between what he sees as religious freedom in the wedding-related businesses case and the medical care in this one.

This is of local interest in D.C. because we and our allies are attempting to pass Bill 20-501, the Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act of 2013.

January 26, 2014

Gay libertarians defend discrimination as freedom of expression

Valerie Richardson at The Washington Times reports that some illustrious gay and pro-gay libertarians have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in defense of the right of anti-gay photographers, florists, and bakers to refuse their services to same-sex couples:

Those filing friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of the ADF’s position [defending the anti-gay business owners] include some high-profile supporters of gay marriage, including Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute legal counsel; Eugene Volokh, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law professor; and Dale Carpenter, professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

No. We are talking about licensed businesses. What our libertarian friends are effectively defending, as with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), is the right of businesses to refuse their services to anyone of whom they disapprove (including based on religious beliefs). By their logic, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have applied only to discrimination by the government -- while restaurants, shops, hotels and other places of public accommodation would have been able to continue refusing service to African Americans. No way. But do not call the libertarians sellouts: they are being true to their principles. I just think they are wrong. At some point we must check our principles against reality.

A further point: Personally, I would not want to hire someone for my wedding who disapproved of us. But that should be our choice. It should not be the right of a licensed business owner to discriminate without penalty.

January 22, 2014

Indiana House speaker moves failing anti-gay bill to more favorable committee

IndyStar reports:

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma pledged to treat a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage like any other bill this year. But critics say that vow fell away on Tuesday when he yanked the measure out of a committee where it seemed doomed to fail and sent it to one where it's all but certain to pass.

The highly unusual move means the proposed constitutional amendment is almost certain to get a vote on the House floor. It also reveals just how quickly positions are shifting on the issue — especially among Republicans.

A few weeks ago, no one would have anticipated that the measure would have had any trouble getting out of the House Judiciary Committee, where Bosma initially assigned it. But last week, three GOP committee members surprised many observers — including, apparently, Bosma — with reservations about the amendment.

That left Bosma with few options. He could let the measure die and risk angering conservatives who want an opportunity to vote on the issue. Or, he could use his powers as speaker to push the measure through at the risk of seeming desperate or heavy handed.

He chose the latter.

Freedom Indiana responds:

In a last-ditch effort to advance this deeply flawed, anti-freedom amendment, Speaker Bosma has broken his word and interfered with the traditional legislative process. Since it was unclear if there were enough votes to pass HJR-3 in the Judiciary Committee, Speaker Bosma has switched the amendment to a new committee, the House Elections and Apportionments Committee, which will hold a hearing [today] at 3:30pm.

“Thousands of opponents of HJR-3 have called, written and come in person to the Statehouse to explain to lawmakers how this divisive amendment will harm our families, friends and loved ones. We’ve explained the very real problems with this amendment through our personal stories. We’ve followed the legislative process with an earnest expectation that legislators truly seek to represent their constituents,” said Megan Robertson, Freedom Indiana Campaign Manager.

There's a smell of right-wing desperation in the air.

McDonnell and wife indicted on federal charges of receiving illegal gifts

Rachel Maddow reports.

Ninth Circuit: Jurors can't be cut because they are gay

Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

A lawyer can't remove prospective jurors from a panel because they are gay or lesbian, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a decision that could open the door to challenges of other types of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco extends to gays and lesbians the same rights in jury selection that the U.S. Supreme Court granted to African Americans in 1986 and to women in 1994. Just as importantly, the appeals court interpreted a recent Supreme Court ruling as requiring "heightened scrutiny" for any government discrimination based on sexual orientation - the same standard that covers gender bias.

The June 2013 ruling that granted same-sex married couples equal rights to federal benefits made it clear that the high court "refuses to tolerate the imposition of a second-class status on gays and lesbians," Judge Stephen Reinhardt said in the appeals court's 3-0 decision.

January 20, 2014

Obama: pot safer than alcohol

In an interview with The New Yorker, President Obama says that he thinks marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and is concerned about what reporter David Remnick calls "the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities."

We at GLAA agree.

Marriage News Watch

Matt Baume of AFER gives an update:

A huge victory in Oklahoma this week, with yet another marriage ban declared unconstitutional. Now comes the appeal, in the same federal circuit as the Utah case. We'll take a look at what to expect. Plus, more progress across the country, from Indiana to Texas to Idaho and Georgia.

January 14, 2014

Dozens of gay people arrested in northern Nigeria

Nigerian_gay_protest

AP reports from Lagos on mass arrests that have followed the signing of Nigeria's harsh new anti-gay law by President Goodluck Jonathan:

First the police targeted the gay men, then tortured them into naming dozens of others who now are being hunted down, human rights activists said Tuesday, warning that such persecution will rise under a new Nigerian law.

The men's alleged crime? Belonging to a gay organization. The punishment? Up to 10 years in jail under the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which has elicited international condemnation for criminalizing gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them.

There were varying accounts of how many arrests were made in Nigeria's Bauchi state, and a local law enforcement official denied that anyone was tortured. Nevertheless, the aggressive police action shows that Africa's most populous country is attempting to enforce anti-gay measures that are becoming increasingly common throughout the continent.

Horrific. Blogger Melanie Nathan lists actions we can take. Write to the Nigerian ambassador to the United States here.

January 11, 2014

Norton denied courtesy of testifying on anti-choice bill targeting D.C.

220px-Eleanorholmesnorton

At a hearing on January 9, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, denied Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) the courtesy of testifying on his bill, H.R. 7, which would, among other things, permanently prohibit the District of Columbia from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women, and define the D.C. government as part of the federal government for the purposes of abortion. (At present, the prohibition against the District spending its own locally-raised tax revenues on abortions for poor women is prohibited by a rider to the District's annual appropriations bill.)

It is a standard courtesy for a member whose district is targeted by a bill to be allowed to testify on it. All Rep. Franks would do was to point out that the single witness the Democrats were allowed at the hearing could be Norton (the Republicans were allowed three witnesses), despite the fact that the bill also had nationwide implications and the Democrats needed a witness to discuss those provisions. The normal practice would be to allow the affected member to testify over and above the witness allocation. But Franks, in addition to being opposed to women's reproductive freedom and to the District's right to govern its own affairs, is opposed to basic courtesy toward a colleague.

I attended the Congresswoman's news conference on Thursday morning protesting the action by Franks. Speaking at the news conference, in addition to Congresswoman Norton, were Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), ranking member of the subcommittee, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. The District of Columbia government is not part of the federal government. That is a fact that no law can change. The law, however, can make a mockery of itself, and can cause injustice. Fortunately, H.R. 7 has no chance of passing in the U.S. Senate. This bill is but one example of the mischief that we can expect from Congress if Republicans take control of the Senate in this year's midterm elections.

The Congresswoman's statement, and the testimony she would have given against this egregious infringement on the rights of the District and of its women, can be read here.

AG Holder: Utah gay marriages recognized by U.S.

NYT reports the good news, which is no surprise. Legally married couples in Utah or anywhere else are entitled to federal recognition.

On Twitchy, right-wingers are decrying Attorney General Eric Holder's decision as defiance of both Utah and the Supreme Court, and proof that the Obama administration considers itself above the law. This shows that they don't even understand (or pretend not to understand) what SCOTUS did, which was a stay on any further same-sex marriages in Utah pending appeal of Judge Shelby's decision.

SCOTUS did not address the merits of the case, nor was the stay retroactive. The approximately 1300 marriage licenses issued by Utah to same-sex couples between December 20 and January 6 were the result of a federal court order, not some rogue action. A stay pending appeal does not affect their legal legitimacy.

The saddest thing about our most vocal opponents is that they are so desperate in their lies.

January 07, 2014

What about those 900+ Utah gay marriages?

Chris Johnson at the Blade raises the question of what will happen to the more than 900 same-sex couples who legally married in Utah between December 20 and January 6, before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of Judge Shelby's ruling pending appeal.

I agree with Shannon Minter, Suzanne Goldberg, and the ACLU that the existing marriages should be deemed valid.

Apparently some people are comparing these 900+ SSMs in Utah to the ones done in 2004 in San Francisco by then-mayor Gavin Newsome. But as noted by the Blade, Newsome took executive action. Here we are talking about a federal court order. I cannot imagine how those marriages that were legal when entered into could be set aside pending appeal. The fact that these new facts-on-the-ground are inconvenient for our opponents might make an alternate version of me in a parallel universe weep for the phobes' wounded sensibilities, but they and alt-me can get over it.

This in-between state of being married pending appeal makes more visible the reality of our lives that are affected by this. It's hard for me to see the down side of that, notwithstanding the crocodile tears being shed by Utah Attorney General Reyes on the gay couples' behalf.

Adelante!

Norton moves to end congressional review for D.C. laws

Holmes_nortonDCist reports:

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is once again trying to end the 30-day congressional review of D.C. laws.

The D.C. representative introduced the District of Columbia Paperwork Reduction Act today, which aims to "eliminate the congressional review period for legislation passed by the D.C. Council." At the moment, the review period is 30 days for civil bills and 60 for criminal. But not just any type of days! Legislative days, which mean the review process can take quite some time. While there's now a handy effective date calculator to figure out when the review period is over, this still puts an unfair burden on D.C.

"The congressional review process for D.C. bills provides no benefit to Congress, but imposes substantial costs (in time and money) on the District," Norton said in a statement. "Indeed, Congress effectively abandoned the congressional review process as a mechanism for overturning D.C. legislation twenty-three years ago, yet it still requires the D.C. Council to use Kafkaesque make-work procedures to comply with the abandoned congressional review process established by the Home Rule Act of 1973."

Thank you, Congresswoman. I wrote on behalf of GLAA about the long history of congressional interference in District affairs, including on LGBT issues, in 1997. You can read that here. Our 2011 article on congressional anti-LGBT discrimination can be read here.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A different sort of Tournament of Roses Parade float

Right Wing Watch reports:

Pastors Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner of Generations Radio were upset about a float at the Rose Bowl parade that included a married gay couple which, despite nasty attacks from anti-gay activists, went off without incident (and even won an award). Buehner was perplexed by the fact that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation sponsored the float, saying that its “pro-homosexual propaganda” would “spread AIDS.”

He added: “I wonder what the Rose Bowl parade would do if we had the stoning of a homosexual along the parade just as an expression of free speech and all that.”

Follow the link for an audio clip.

January 06, 2014

SCOTUS stays Utah gay marriage ruling pending appeal

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog gives the low-down on the stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Utah gay marriage case.

Jonathan Capehart explains why this is not a bad thing. He is right. When we were planning the push for marriage equality in D.C., and more broadly talking strategy with our counterparts elsewhere and national movement leaders, we always recognized the confusion that would reign between our first victory and our final victory for equality from sea to shining sea. The alternative was not to start. That most gay folk understand and are okay with this is suggested by the widespread scorn regarding the Utah AG's argument that he's concerned about the married gay couples and how hard it will be on them if we lose. Ha! We are winning, and we are in this, and there is no turning back.

December 31, 2013

Utah asks SCOTUS for stay of marriage ruling

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a stay of Judge Robert Shelby's December 20 ruling overturning that state's ban on same-sex marriages as unconstitutional. The state wants gay Utah couples to stop being allowed to marry pending its appeal of the case. The stay request will be handled by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is likely to refer it to the entire court. Associated Press reports.

Read the state's application here. As Joe Jervis notes, it includes a citation of the discredited Regnerus study.

December 24, 2013

Transformative Year

My year-in-review for 2013 was published before the news broke of Her Majesty's Alan Turing pardon; but it was already a jam-packed year for the LGBT community. Here are a few excerpts:

2013 was a momentous year for the LGBT community, with nine states (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Utah) joining the marriage equality ranks; landmark marriage rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court; the Social Security Administration making it easier for transgender people to obtain Social Security cards reflecting their true gender identity; strong moves in sports and the arts; and Presidential Medals of Freedom awarded posthumously to Bayard Rustin and Dr. Sally Ride….

In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered historic rulings in the Windsor and Perry cases, overturning the federal denial of recognition to same-sex marriages and restoring marriage equality in California. Edith Windsor, whose irrepressible personality made her the perfect "poster girl" for marriage equality at age 84, was a finalist for Time's Person of the Year….

The cause of marriage equality grew more bipartisan in 2013, when former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman organized a pro-equality amicus brief in the Perry case signed by more than 100 Republican officials; Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) endorsed marriage equality after learning his son was gay; and former president George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara served as witnesses at the wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen in Maine.

The year's remarkable string of marriage equality victories ended on an exhilarating note when U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby, an Obama appointee, ruled Utah Measure 3 unconstitutional, setting off a rush of same-sex couples to county clerk's offices in the conservative state ahead of an expected stay of the ruling. Shelby deliciously cited Justice Antonin Scalia's bitter dissents in Lawrence and Windsor to bolster the argument in favor of marriage equality.

I also touch on sports, the arts, and the international front. Read the whole thing here.

AP: Ohio Gay Marriage Ruling May Just Be Beginning

Amanda Lee Myers of Associated Press reports:

A federal judge's decision ordering Ohio authorities to recognize gay marriages on death certificates may be a narrow ruling, but observers — and even the judge himself — predict it will spark further litigation aimed at striking down the state's ban on gay marriage.

In a broadly written ruling Monday, Judge Timothy Black said Ohio's ban is unconstitutional and that states cannot discriminate against same-sex couples simply because some voters don't like homosexuality.

Although the ruling applies only to death certificates, his statements about the ban were sweeping and unequivocal, and are expected to incite further litigation challenging the law.

Good will in a rainbow kerchief

Utah_boy_scouts

A lot of us were pinching ourselves over the news from Utah since Friday, but I doubt any of us expected a picture like this one on our Twitter feed: Boy Scouts bringing pizzas to the county clerk's office in Salt Lake City for the clerks who had skipped their lunch breaks to keep processing marriage licenses for the hundreds of same-sex couples lined up, and for the couples too. That was gracious and moving enough. On top of that, to spot a rainbow-colored kerchief — well here's to peace on earth and good will toward men. What a year of change this has been.

December 23, 2013

Members of Pussy Riot freed as part of Putin's pre-Olympics P.R. campaign

Pussy_Riot
(Maria Alyokhina speaks to reporters in Nizhny Novgorod on Monday. Photo by Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

Two members of the Pussy Riot punk band were released today as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's pre-Olympics amnesty. Maria Alyokhina was released in the western city of Nizhny Novgorod, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was released in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. NYT reports:

In a telephone interview on Monday, Ms. Alyokhina said she did not want amnesty and that officials had forced her to leave the prison. She said that the amnesty program was designed to make Mr. Putin look benevolent, and that she would have preferred to serve the remainder of her sentence.

“I think this is an attempt to improve the image of the current government, a little, before the Sochi Olympics — particularly for the Western Europeans,” she said, referring to the Winter Games Russia is hosting in February. “But I don’t consider this humane or merciful.”

She added, “This is a lie.”

Tell it, Maria!

Meanwhile, our left-coast friend Michael Petrelis shares the news that Russia's Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality has awarded Putin its Golden Enema prize. Follow the link for pictures. Bravo to these brave souls.

December 22, 2013

Judge Shelby's Utah marriage ruling is a bracing read

Judge_Robert_J_Shelby

The December 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby overturning Utah's ban on same-sex marriage set off a rush to marriage bureaus in the state as couples lined up to apply for marriage licenses. Judge Shelby's ruling is a bracing read. Here is an excerpt:

The State of Utah has provided no evidence that opposite-sex marriage will be affected in any way by same-sex marriage. In the absence of such evidence, the State’s unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the State’s refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens. Moreover, the Constitution protects the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights, which include the right to marry and the right to have that marriage recognized by their government. These rights would be meaningless if the Constitution did not also prevent the government from interfering with the intensely personal choices an individual makes when that person decides to make a solemn commitment to another human being. The Constitution therefore protects the choice of one’s partner for all citizens, regardless of their sexual identity.

(Photo: Judge Shelby was nominated to the U.S. District Court for Utah in 2011 by President Obama.)

December 20, 2013

Utah marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

Gaymarriage-utah
(The first gay couple to be married in Utah, Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson,
kiss at the Salt Lake County Clerks office. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

Utah on Friday became the 18th marriage equality state. The Advocate reports that U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled today that Utah's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. Brett Logiurato at Business Insider reports that Shelby "trolled" Scalia in his ruling today:

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia handed down a scathing dissent in United States v. Windsor — the case in which the high court deemed the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional — he warned of the domino effect it would have on state bans on gay marriage.

His prediction came true on Friday, when U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that Utah's 2004 ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. And Shelby even made note of Scalia's dissent at points in his ruling, citing it as part of his reasoning in striking down the Utah law.

Scalia warned that the Supreme Court's reasoning that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act — which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples — could be used to strike down state laws banning same-sex marriage. Scalia, who's notoriously anti-gay marriage, was saying this was a bad thing. In an interesting twist, Utah's Judge Shelby quoted Scalia's negative prophecy in his pro-gay marriage opinion….

Shelby then wrote that he "agreed" with that part of Scalia's opinion, and offered his response. Though Scalia meant it as some kind of dire warning, Shelby cited the Supreme Court's decision as a reason to overturn Utah's law.

New Mexico becomes 17th marriage equality state

NMflag

A ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court has made that state the 17th marriage equality state. Hooray!

Ugandan parliament passes Anti-Homosexuality Bill

London-protest-against-Uganda-bill
(Photo of 2009 London protest by Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ugandan parliament today passed the horrifically harsh Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has been pending for years. Ugandan gay rights activist Frank Mugisha tweeted:

Dr. Frank Mugisha ‏@frankmugisha
Breaking News : I am officially illegal : Uganda Parliament passes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009

Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga called the bill a "Christmas present" to the nation. Homosexuality was already illegal as a vestige of colonialism. The bill passed today punishes "aggravated homosexuality" with life in prison. This harsh measure to further escalate the persecution of gay people was largely the result of anti-gay efforts by American evangelicals like Scott Lively. It could be signed by President Yoweri Museveni as soon as tomorrow. This makes me sick to my stomach. As Mugisha stated, "I don't know what to do."

Mugisha tweets:

‏@frankmugisha
Ugandan MP Fox Odoi & author of the minority report, says he will challenge the anti gay bill in the constitutional court

December 04, 2013

Fischer: ''The Next Domino To Fall Is Going To Be Pedophilia'

Bryan Fischer at AFA says that with the man-woman "guardrail" is crossed, "there is no logical place to stop in the kind of sexual relationships you will support, you will endorse, you will embrace as a culture." Therefore the next shoe to drop is pedophilia.

Dear Mr. Fischer: Making one legal change does not require making every conceivable legal change. Legislatures make choices all the time, deciding to make one change but not a host of other possible ones. Gay people have sought the right to marry a single partner, not multiple partners and not underage ones. We have fought for equal protection under the law, not to set aside the law altogether. You are lying. You are hyperventilating. Try putting a paper bag over your mouth and breathing into that.

November 25, 2013

Marriage News Watch for November 25

Matt Baume of AFER gives an update on the latest developments in the states in the fight for marriage equality.

November 22, 2013

'There aren’t enough states for a constitutional amendment.'

Jennifer Rubin at WaPo, in pointing out that the National Organization for Marriage is operating in the red, points out that there are no longer enough states to ratify a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. In the unlikely event houses of Congress passed such an amendment (requiring two-thirds of each chamber), it would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states, which is 38 out of 50. We now have 16 marriage equality states. That would mean that four equality states would have to ratify such an amendment, which is not about to happen.

Mind you, we have not heard any talk about the Federal Marriage Amendment lately; the momentum is on the pro-gay side. Another route to a constitutional amendment would be to call a constitutional convention, but that too is not about to happen. And one sign that our opponents know this is that NOM, as Rubin points out, is in debt. Like Oliver North when he ran for the U.S. Senate from Virginia years ago, they spent a lot of money to lose.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Signs Marriage Equality Into Law

Wednesday's joyous ceremony, as Gov. Quinn's signature makes Illinois the 16th marriage equality state (plus D.C.).

Meanwhile, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield did an exorcism. Because we cannot just be wrong in his eyes, we must be from Satan.

November 21, 2013

Senate reforms advise and consent rules, returns to majority rule

The U.S. Senate today abolished the filibuster for presidential nominees to judicial and executive posts. Ezra Klein explains why this is a big deal. Jonathan Capehart says the decision was right. The graphic below shows how out of hand the Republican obstruction has become. Thank you, Leader Reid.

Filibuster-reform-graphic

November 19, 2013

Conservative Catholic Group Ties Illinois Tornadoes To Gay Marriage

Tornado_damage_in_Washington_IL
(Photo by REUTERS/JIM YOUNG)

Right Wing Watch reports on the latest murderous rampage by the Christian right's angry tribal deity. Why anyone would worship such a monster rather than curse him I have never understood. Just to be clear, I do not for a moment believe that any such infantile brat is supervising the cosmos. I very much appreciate the fact that many people of faith have a conception of God that is not so primitive and idiotic. Pardon me, but that's the best I can do at the moment. Please don't sic a cyclone on me, in the name of Angry Mary Whom You Really Shouldn't Mess With, Amen.

Incidentally, here's a real news story on the deadly tornados that hit the Midwest on Sunday.

Mayor Gray officiates at gay wedding

Vince_Grays_first_gay_wedding
(Photo by Marlon Correa/The Washington Post)

Mayor Vincent Gray today presided over the wedding of Carlos Taylor and Rob Robertson in his ceremonial office in the John A. Wilson Building, his first time assuming those duties since the Marriage Officiant Amendment Act of 2013 became law on November 5. WaPo reports. The Blade reports. The event was arranged by our colleague Peter Rosenstein, a longtime D.C. activist who is a Gray supporter and a friend of the grooms. Thanks to Hizzoner and congrats to Carlos and Rob.

November 18, 2013

ENDA is about equal protection, not victimhood

Our old friend Jonathan Rauch has a piece at Time Ideas titled "The End of Gay Victimhood." He writes:

[T]he civil rights model was an imperfect fit for gays. It cast us as victims who need the state’s protection, and it encouraged us to think of ourselves that way. In doing so, it bolstered the stereotype of the weak homosexual.

In the 1990s, a younger generation brought forward a different agenda, one that focused on the two most egregious forms of governmental discrimination: the bans on gay marriage and military service. Around the same time, the “gayby boom” took off, as openly gay couples became parents. Marriage, military service and child rearing: these were not extensions of the 1970s gay-rights agenda but departures from it. Taken together, they constituted a gay-responsibility agenda. We were seeking the burdens of adulthood instead of running to Mommy; asking to serve our communities and country instead of demanding that they serve us; declaring our strength instead of our perennial weakness....

I would never deny the continuing and often harsh reality of anti-gay discrimination, especially for kids. And I would agree with anyone who points out that allowing gays to sue discriminators in federal court is fair and reasonable. (Federal antidiscrimination law, after all, already protects other groups, like Christians, that endure far less social hostility.) But at this point, the right to file federal lawsuits is unlikely to make a big difference in gay people’s lives, and the 1970s civil rights model has become a warhorse in need of retirement.

I think Rauch sets up a false dichotomy here between a gay-rights agenda and a gay-responsibility agenda. I myself over the years have criticized approaches based on victimhood; but there is nothing inherently victim-based about demanding equal protection of the law, which is guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. Jon's "running to Mommy" line is gratuitous.

Many of the same activists and organizations have fought for both ENDA and marriage equality. For example, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin was previously the co-founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, whose fight against California's Proposition 8 led to last June's ruling in Perry that returned marriage equality to the state.

Surely Griffin embraced responsibility in his marriage advocacy as much as anyone else. Rauch married his husband Michael in 2010 here in D.C., thanks in large measure to decades of work by my colleagues and I in GLAA. In my 35 years of activism, I have never seen myself as a victim. I simply wanted my birthright of equality.

Happy 10th anniversary, Goodridge!

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(Mary Bonauto escorted by police on May 17, 2004, the first day same-sex couples could marry in Massachusetts. Susan R. Symonds / Infinity Portrait Design / Via infinityportraitdesign.com)

Today is the tenth anniversary of the landmark decision by the Masschusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, which established marriage equality in that state. Mary Bonauto of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders had argued for plaintiffs when the court heard the case the previous March. On this date a decade ago, in a 50-page ruling, the court ruled 4-3 for equality, the first high court of any state to do so.

Chris Geidner interviews Bonauto at BuzzFeed. Lisa Keen discusses the pivotal moment that Goodridge represented.

November 12, 2013

Hawaiian senate sends marriage equality bill to Governor

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(Photo by Hugh Gentry / Reuters)

Buzzfeed reports.

Congrats to the people of Hawaii. And thanks to pioneering couple Ninia Baehr and Genora Dancel.

November 09, 2013

California’s Battle Over Transgender Student Rights

Time reports:

The latest battle in California is over 37 words. They are the final clause in a law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this summer affirming the rights of transgender students to use facilities and play on sports teams that align with their gender identity. On Friday, groups led by the same strategist who masterminded the successful drive to ban gay marriage in California will submit a petition to the state that could lead to the landmark measure being overturned.

EU court: persecuted gays have grounds for asylum

France 24 reports on some good news from the European Court of Justice.

Hawaiian House passes marriage equality

Think Progress reports. The second state legislative breakthrough in one week is sweet. The Hawaiian state senate has already acted; now it must pass amendment conforming to the House version, or go to conference to resolve differences in the two versions of the bill. This should be done in the coming week, then Gov. Abercrombie will sign it.