Friday, July 31, 2009

Portugal’s Constitutional Court Rejects Challenge To Same-Sex Marriage Ban - Lez Get Real

Portugal’s Constitutional Court Rejects Challenge To Same-Sex Marriage Ban - Lez Get Real

A Constitutional Court in Portugal has upheld the constitutionality of a same sex marriage ban in that country and rejected an appeal filed by a lesbian couple who are unable to marry because Portugal’s constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman only.

The women were first denied the right to marry in a civil registry office in 2006 and challenged that decision by using an article of the Portuguese Constitution that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

However, the court said in a statement it had reviewed a earlier successful appeal by the two women, Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, against a lower court ruling, which had denied them the right to wed, and reverted to the lower court’s verdict by three votes to two, saying the Portuguese constitution does not say same-sex marriage must be permitted.

“The decision makes more evident the urgency of solving this issue via parliament by parties wanting to fight discrimination and promote basic equality,” the Portuguese chapter of the International Gay and Lesbian Association said in a statement sent to LGR this afternoon.

The Constitutional Court is the final word on constitutional issues in the Portugal, but the women now say they will appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights and despite this setback; marriage equality in predominantly Catholic Portugal appears to be gaining some support, despite strong opposition to it from the church.

Socialist Party Prime Minister Jose Socrateshas pledged Wednesday to introduce a marriage equality bill if re-elected in September’s general election.

The Vatican is always strongly opposed to granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in any country. In 2005 bordering Spain legalized marriage equality and the Vatican has called for the government’s ouster ever since.

Portuguese law presently offers same-sex civil unions to gay and lesbian couples that provides for a basic set of legal rights.

Questions for Benjamin Todd Jealous - Race Matters - Interview -

Questions for Benjamin Todd Jealous - Race Matters - Interview -

Published: July 30, 2009

As the new head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, can you tell us how your organization plans to respond to the case of Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor who was recently arrested for disorderly conduct at his own home — charges that have since been dropped — after he reportedly chewed out a cop who suspected him of burglary?
Our local volunteers are already engaged with the Cambridge Police Department, as we are with police departments across this country. The next step is passing the End Racial Profiling Act in Congress. Racial profiling is a constant drumbeat in this country. It’s a form of humiliation that strikes like lightning on a daily basis, and that is part of what Professor Gates was responding to. It’s hard to be in your house, told you’re a burglary suspect and then when you are no longer a suspect, told you are the problem.
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Times Topics: Henry Louis Gates Jr. | National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
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Even so, many of us were surprised to hear President Obama accuse the Cambridge Police of acting “stupidly.” The president didn’t try very hard to extend his famous capacity for empathy to Sgt. James Crowley, who claims he was verbally abused by Gates.
I would be concerned if the Cambridge police chief didn't feel the same way.

The N.A.A.C.P., which just held its 100th annual convention amid much fanfare, was founded to advance civil rights. Why has the organization failed to take a stand on same-sex marriage, one of the most urgent civil rights issues of our day?
We’re engaged in fighting a whole range of issues of urgent relevance to the gay community and people of color in our country, including school bullying, hate crimes and employment discrimination. But we’re a barge, not a speedboat. We’re not going to repeat the mistakes of so many other institutions that have literally torn themselves apart over this divisive issue.

Exit polling suggested that 70 percent of black voters — the largest by far of any minority group — voted to make gay marriage illegal in California by voting in favor of Proposition 8 last fall. How do you explain that? The bond between black culture and church culture?
You’re looking at this from 50,000 feet. I’m looking at if from the ground, and I know that church leaders are on both sides of the debate. Black voters have been scapegoated — so many pundits blamed the passage of Proposition 8 on them. But it would have passed even if 100 percent of the black voters had voted against it.

Why do you think it’s such a divisive issue in the black community?
If gay rights groups want to change the opinion polls in the black community, they have to invest in it. It’s a long-term conversation. The battle to oppose Prop 8 could have been much better run. They came to the black community late, with the expectation that they were going to get certain results.

So you think gays should mobilize blacks instead of expecting you to?
That’s exactly right.

As the son of a white father and a black mother, do you refer to yourself as black?
Yes, without qualification.

What was it like growing up with the name Jealous?
People tended not to forget me. I embraced it as a competitive advantage.

You're 36; you were born after the big civil rights struggles. Do you think that makes your generation more willing to work within existing channels of power?
You’re talking to somebody who was kicked out of school for organizing student protests and has gone to jail in New York and Mississippi for civil disobedience. So draw whatever conclusions you want.

You’re also a Columbia graduate and a Rhodes Scholar. So you must have done something right.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, so they say.

How were you treated when you were arrested?
They treated me better Down South than they did up North. The North is not always a refuge.


The Associated Press: Maine gay marriage opponents submit challenges

The Associated Press: Maine gay marriage opponents submit challenges

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gay marriage opponents hoping to derail Maine's new law before it can take effect submitted petitions Friday that they said contain more than enough signatures to force a people's veto referendum.

Leaders of the Stand for Marriage campaign delivered a stack of cartons holding petitions with more than 100,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office, which has until Sept. 4 to certify at least 55,087 of them. If it does so, voters will be asked on Nov. 3 whether to repeal the law.

Maine became poised to recognize same-sex marriages in May, when lawmakers set aside a state law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The other New England states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont recognize gay marriages, as does Iowa.

The Maine Legislature's action needs to be reversed because traditional marriage between one man and one woman is a basic building block of society that must be protected, Stand for Marriage campaign leaders said at a news conference Friday.

"I am greatly concerned about the Legislature's redefining what has been the very foundation of our civil society," said Brian Souchet of Brunswick, standing next to his wife and children.

Campaign leader Rep. Bob Emrich, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Plymouth, also criticized lawmakers for "mocking and disparaging the deeply held faith of Maine people" before they voted to recognize same sex marriages this spring.

Gay marriage supporters said they weren't surprised by Friday's filing and stressed their own efforts to marshal support for their cause.

The No on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign also continued to criticize the other side for hiring an out-of-state company to assist in the petition drive. Stand for Marriage spokesman Scott Fish responded that both campaigns have received help from organizations not based in Maine.

"We know this is going to be a really hard-fought election. There are passionate supporters on both sides of this issue. But we feel very confident that our campaign (has) over 60,000 supporters so far," said Jesse Connolly of the No on 1 campaign. "I think our advocates knew when they went into this ... that they'd have to win both in the Legislature and also at the ballot box."

Maine has a domestic partnership registry, but gay marriage advocates say it doesn't go far enough to ensure marriage equality.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Albania to Legalise Gay Marriage ::

Albania to Legalise Gay Marriage ::

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the government would push for a law that recognises homosexual marriages.

“This is an important law against discrimination,” said Berisha, who often stresses the importance of family values.

The prime minister said that the law had already been put to parliament and that MPs should treat it seriously because it provides a legal basis against discrimination, bringing the country into line with a framework already approved by the EU, which Albania aspires to join.

Although deeply secular, Albania is one of only two countries in Europe with a Muslim majority - the other is Bosnia - and it is unclear how the government’s decision will be accepted by the public.

While the Albanian parliament decriminalised homosexual relationships in 1995, more than a decade later, gays and lesbians are still heavily stigmatised, and a majority live clandestine lives, fearing that if their sexual orientation is discovered their safety will be endangered.

“The attitudes toward homosexuality have not changed much, and they have to protect themselves,” Genci Terpo a human rights lawyer based in Tirana told Balkan Insight in an earlier interview.

“It’s not that now, there is any real difference to what we have seen before. They continue to be subjected to discrimination in all walks of life, and that includes state institutions,” he said.

According to Terpo, who works for the Albanian Human Rights Group, AHRG, the homosexual community in Tirana is roughly 3,500-strong.

Human rights reports on Albania concede that ingrained attitudes among the public leave Albanian gays and lesbians on the fringes of society. AHRG reports that Albanian homosexuals face “intolerance, physical and psychological violence - often from the police - and discrimination in the workplace.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nadler Details DOMA Repeal  | News |

Nadler Details DOMA Repeal  | News |

By Kerry Eleveld
Nadler Details DOMA Repeal

Rep. Jerrold Nadler has told the Bay Area Reporter that the Defense of Marriage Act repeal bill will only recognize married same-sex couples, not those in a civil union or domestic partnership. But the proposed DOMA legislation will be a wholesale repeal of the act.

"It will not include domestic partnerships or civil unions. It is going to be just marriage," said Nadler, who will be the lead sponsor of the bill and chairs the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

Section 2 of DOMA allows states to disregard same-sex marriages that have been legally performed in other states, and Section 3 prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. According to Nadler, his bill would repeal both sections.

But even with the repeal of Section 2, legal scholars say the bill would not require hostile states to recognize same-sex marriages for state-law purposes.

"While repealing the 'full faith and credit' portions of the Defense of Marriage Act is very important for a number of reasons, it will not have the dramatic and far-reaching effect of 'imposing' same-sex marriage upon other states, as many on both sides of the debate often assume," writes Tobias Wolff, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania.

Nadler said "the time for dumping DOMA is long overdue" but added that he did not know what type of support the legislation would garner. "We have to see what reaction we get. It won't pass this year."

Nadler expects to introduce the bill either this week or after lawmakers return from their August recess.

Rick Santorum Shilling for NOM | Tips-Q

His BIGOT self is Back!!!!

Rick Santorum Shilling for NOM | Tips-Q

Submitted by David Hart on Mon, 07/27/2009 - 22:10

Rick SantorumFormer US Senator, Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum [R-PA] is lending his name to National Organization for Marriage. Who's next? Joe the Dumber Plumber? Santorum's pitch against marriage equality is that same-sex marriage is a "nightmare." He is also conforming with the NOM meme that judges who rule in favor of marriage equality are "anti-marriage." Yet, I am still waiting for one of these theocrats to explain how any couple's same-sex marriage affects any other couple's "traditional" marriage. Overall, this is a pretty standard send us some money.

There is a Palinesque framing of progressives as "elite" and DOMA is described as defense of children. This was probably written by one of NOM's high-priced political consultants. NOM uses the same PR firm that the swift boaters used and they have also hired a brigade of bigots as spin doctors.

2 Million for Marriage

I need you to be one of 2 million Americans working to STOP Washington from repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. Will you help?

Dear Supporter,


Should people who disagree with same-sex marriage be treated by the law as racists and bigots?

Should schools force kids to learn that it’s good for men to marry men and women to marry women?

Should Congress allow a radical judge in Boston to impose same-sex marriage across the nation?

I trust your answer to these questions is an emphatic “No!”

But these nightmares could happen soon—because President Barack Obama and liberal leaders in Congress have promised to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

That’s why I’m asking you to (1) sign the online petition to Congress and/or (2) send a donation to join the Two Million For Marriage Campaign, a project of my friends at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

Our historic campaign has one goal: STOP Congress from abolishing the Defense of Marriage Act (known as DOMA).

DOMA was carefully written to specifically shield any state from being forced to recognize gay marriages from other states.

This makes DOMA a strong firewall against out-of-control, anti-marriage judges.

But . . . if Congress repeals DOMA, then gay couples, who “married” in the six states where radical officials have imposed gay marriage, will sue other states to recognize their “marriages”.

Soon gay marriage, like a grassfire, would spread across America!

In state after state, gay marriage activists and liberal courts would rapidly destroy laws protecting marriage—even constitutional amendments approved by voters.

That’s why I hope you will join our Two Million For Marriage Campaign with an online gift that will instantly be put into action!

As a U.S. senator, I helped pass the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. But now President Obama has vowed to “repeal . . . the Defense of Marriage Act.”

President Obama’s campaign was in great part bankrolled by a small yet zealous network of Hollywood liberals and gay marriage activists.

This elite has been plotting to take away our right to define marriage as a husband and a wife . . . and then to use legalized gay marriage to indoctrinate our children in school.

In Massachusetts, where radical judges imposed gay marriage on unwilling citizens, schoolchildren as young as first grade were read books like King and King, which features a gay wedding between two princes, complete with a kiss. Judges have banned parents from opting out their own children from same-sex "education" in their schools. A Christian adoption agency—Catholic Charities—was forced to shut down because it refused to obey Massachusetts’ requirement to give innocent children to gay married couples.

Please click here to stop these outrages from spilling across all of America.

Make no mistake, the plot to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act is a ruthless attempt by a rich, politically powerful minority to take away the rights of the vast majority of Americans and faith communities.

For example, billionaire gay activist Tim Gill has vowed to “punish the wicked”—meaning people like you who oppose gay marriage.

That’s why I need you to click here to (1) sign your online petition to Congress and (2) donate to the Two Million For Marriage Campaign.

We aim to bury Congress in an avalanche of petitions telling them: “Don’t Mess With Marriage!” Don’t repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Not now. Not ever.

But we’ll need every petition.

And while your petitions are being delivered on Capitol Hill, your contribution will be hard at work throughout America creating a firestorm of resistance to the plan to repeal DOMA. Your donation will help: Recruit millions of Americans to stop the repeal of DOMA through ads on radio, TV, Internet, magazines . . . mail and e-mail . . . interviews . . . and more.

Build coalitions across parties, races, and denominations to create a chorus to stop the repeal of DOMA that the Washington politicians cannot ignore.

Persuade members of Congress. The National Organization for Marriage is legally allowed to lobby Congress—and with your help, we will!

The National Organization for Marriage—creator of the Two Million For Marriage Campaign—is a proven winner in the battle to defend marriage and children.

We helped win the battle for marriage in California in 2008, playing a crucial lead role in the Proposition 8 marriage amendment.

We are endorsed by Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Dr. Dobson and his wife, Shirley, personally contributed to the National Organization for Marriage.

That’s why I urge you to join the Two Million For Marriage Campaign today! Click here to (1) sign your online petition to Congress and (2) donate to help us convince Congress and America to stop Barack Obama from abolishing the Defense of Marriage Act.

If we don’t act now, DOMA will soon be repealed—quickly, quietly, and with little fanfare—just like the gay marriage activists are planning.

It’s up to us—you and me—to stop them by petitioning Congress and recruiting millions of Americans to join in our effort.

Please let me hear from you today.

God bless you,

Rick Santorum

Gay Highland couple to wed in Amsterdam |

Gay Highland couple to wed in Amsterdam |

By Meghan E. Murphy
Times Herald-Record
Posted: July 28, 2009 - 2:00 AM

HIGHLAND — Four hundred years after sending an explorer to the Hudson Valley, the Dutch are looking to influence New York once again. The world's first country to recognize same-sex marriages is hosting five American-Dutch homosexual couples for a wedding Saturday as a way to promote equal rights in the United States.

Among the couples are Highland residents Stephan Hengst, 32, and Patrick Decker, 25. The Culinary Institute of America graduates are the founders of, a Web site highlighting issues and events in the region's gay community.

The couple initially discussed marrying in New York, Decker's home state, if the vows became legal. The state Assembly has already passed a gay marriage bill for which New York Gov. David Paterson has expressed support.

But when they saw that Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen had initiated a search for five Dutch-American couples, they decided to apply their unique backgrounds for a cause.

The couple will marry on a barge during the gay pride canal parade in Amsterdam. Because of a directive by Paterson last year, their marriage will be recognized in New York.

Hengst, who was born in a town near Amsterdam, said the wedding is both personal and political.

"We hope the attention raised as a part of our wedding helps people realize that it's one thing to tolerate and it's another thing to create equality," Hengst said.

The couple is encouraging state senators to pass the gay marriage bill, too. "The only thing holding equality back in our state is our state Senate," Hengst said.

Check for further details and updates.

Monday, July 27, 2009

70 years together, most spent in fear and hiding - Topix

70 years together, most spent in fear and hiding - Topix

By IHOSVANI RODRIGUEZ South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Published: Monday, July 27, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 11:35 p.m.

DANIA BEACH - Yes, couples in their 90s still argue occasionally.

This is how it went recently for Caroline Leto and Venera Magazzu as they sipped lemonade on their couch in Dania Beach: "We're not going to have a party," said Magazzu, 97, insisting they are too old for such things.

"Oh, yes we are," responded Leto, 96, who noted the two can still polka. "This is a big one."

Indeed. A party celebrating 70 years together is a big deal for any pair. But a celebration of this couple's love takes on special meaning, considering they had to keep silent about it for decades.

"You just couldn't tell everyone we were lovers," said Leto. "You tell people we're friends, and some thought we were sisters."

Leto and Magazzu downplay their pioneering role in the gay and lesbian community. But many of their friends and relatives talk it up anyway, marveling at how their love was able to transcend a lifetime's worth of obstacles.

To mark their Aug. 17 milestone, members of Etz Chaim, a gay and lesbian congregation in Wilton Manors, are planning a party. They hope Leto and Magazzu will attend and show everyone how to do the polka.

"Honestly, I think they are more in love with each other than they were back then," said longtime close friend and congregation member Gayle Scott. "Look at straight couples. You are lucky if you are married after seven years. ... That is an amazing love story."

In 1939 Leto and Magazzu met at a party in New York. Leto thought Magazzu was stylish. Magazzu thought Leto was funny.

After a courtship of about a year, Magazzu, a teacher, and Leto, a telegraph operator, moved into a tiny house in New York. They spent most of their lives there, with only close family members and closer friends knowing about their relationship.

Magazzu, a former Army medic, said she often fought the urge to tell others, and feared what "outsiders" would think. She believes society back then was more receptive to two women living together than two men -- or at least less inquisitive.

"I think most people had their suspicions, but they didn't really make a big deal about it because it was just two women," she said. "They didn't ask, and we just didn't talk about it."

Leto's niece, Patricia Dillion, said she grew up believing the two were sisters and referred to them as aunts. One day, at a family party, an apparently tipsy Leto let Dillion in on a secret.

"She mentioned they got married," said Dillion. "I was so happy, but then I got sad thinking that all that time they really couldn't be upfront about it."

In 1996, the couple registered as domestic partners in New York City. They said they did it because they felt the need to tell everyone about their life together.

Years later they moved to Florida, where they got more active in the gay and lesbian community, attending rallies and galas and recounting their story. They led the life of any Florida retiree couple, going on cruises, playing poker on Tuesday nights with friends. At one point, they adopted a pet monkey named Chi-Chi.

In 2006, as age slowed them down a bit, Magazzu put their story in a self-published book called "An Unadulterated Story: Young and Gay at 90."

During a reporter's recent visit, the two quibbled over where they had last seen a copy. Magazzu insisted it was in a bedroom. Leto said she saw it in the trunk of their car.

"OK, so if you know where everything is, then you look for it," Magazzu huffed as she turned her head toward the kitchen.

Leto smiled. "Cute, isn't she?"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gay Rights - Catholic Church Would Rather Spend Money to End Marriage Equality than Save Churches

Gay Rights - Catholic Church Would Rather Spend Money to End Marriage Equality than Save Churches

Maine became the sixth state to legalize marriage equality earlier this year, when the state legislature passed a bill recognizing same-sex marriage in May. In the wake of Maine's same-sex marriage laws, a handful of anti-LGBT activists have launched a campaign to kill marriage equality, and the state's Catholic Church has taken the lead in these efforts. The Catholic Diocese of Maine, in fact, gave $100,000 toward efforts to defeat marriage equality, and the Diocese's main communications guy, Marc Mutty, is a leading spokesperson for the anti-LGBT movement in Maine.

Here's an interesting fact, though: While the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine gave $100,000 to bash the rights of gays and lesbians, they also had to close two parishes in Lewiston, Maine, as well as fire employees at Trinity Catholic School. The reason for the parish closings and the firing of Catholic school employees? Declining revenue.

Maybe, just maybe, the Catholic Diocese of Portland should stop spending money on anti-LGBT campaigns, and instead spend a little money taking care of their own. Instead, they're hemmorhaging money toward an effort to beat back civil rights, while churches are forced to close and Catholic school employees get fired. Talk about misplaced priorities.

Mutty, the anti-LGBT spokesperson from the Diocese, even seemingly admitted that people might start to question the priorities of the Catholic Church. Here's a quote from the Sun Journal in Maine from Mutty:

There's no question that some would say that it's a shame we have to spend this kind of money on this kind of issue when we should be spending it on the poor or those kinds of things.

Here's a memo to Mutty: not only would some people say it's misdirected to spend this type of money on denying rights to gays and lesbians instead of on initiatives for the poor, but Jesus himself would have likely said the same thing, too.

The Catholic Church isn't the only one guilty of this, either. Focus on the Family, which has already had to lay off more than 20 percent of its staff, has found a way to funnel more than $30,000 into Maine to blast marriage equality.

Here's one last interesting tidbit of information about the efforts of anti-LGBT forces in Maine to end marriage for gays and lesbians. Despite the fact that the Catholic Church, Focus on the Family, and other national organizations have raised more than $300,000 for their discriminatory campaign, only $400 has been raised from actual Maine citizens to defeat marriage equality. So it sure seems that while national groups throw money into Maine, the state's actual citizens aren't backing them up with resources from their own pocketbook. Might that be a sign that these national organizations and the Catholic Church are out of step with Maine's population on the issue of marriage equality?

One can only hope so. For more information on the battle taking place in Maine over marriage equality, check out Maine Freedom to Marry.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gay Marriage and the Constitution -

Gay Marriage and the Constitution -


When I got married in California in 1959 there were almost 20 states where marriage was limited to two people of different sexes and the same race. Eight years later the Supreme Court unanimously declared state bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional.

Recently, Ted Olson and I brought a lawsuit asking the courts to now declare unconstitutional California's Proposition 8 limitation of marriage to people of the opposite sex. We acted together because of our mutual commitment to the importance of this cause, and to emphasize that this is not a Republican or Democratic issue, not a liberal or conservative issue, but an issue of enforcing our Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process to all citizens.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the right to marry the person you love is so fundamental that states cannot abridge it. In 1978 the Court (8 to 1, Zablocki v. Redhail) overturned as unconstitutional a Wisconsin law preventing child-support scofflaws from getting married. The Court emphasized, "decisions of this Court confirm that the right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals." In 1987 the Supreme Court unanimously struck down as unconstitutional a Missouri law preventing imprisoned felons from marrying.

There were legitimate state policies that supported the Wisconsin and Missouri restrictions held unconstitutional. By contrast, there is no legitimate state policy underlying Proposition 8. The occasional suggestion that marriages between people of different sexes may somehow be threatened by marriages of people of the same sex does not withstand discussion. It is difficult to the point of impossibility to envision two love-struck heterosexuals contemplating marriage to decide against it because gays and lesbians also have the right to marry; it is equally hard to envision a couple whose marriage is troubled basing the decision of whether to divorce on whether their gay neighbors are married or living in a domestic partnership. And even if depriving lesbians of the right to marry each other could force them into marrying someone they do not love but who happens to be of the opposite sex, it is impossible to see how that could be thought to be as likely to lead to a stable, loving relationship as a marriage to the person they do love.

Moreover, there is no longer any credible contention that depriving gays and lesbians of basic rights will cause them to change their sexual orientation. Even if there was, the attempt would be constitutionally defective. But, in fact, the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians is as much a God-given characteristic as the color of their skin or the sexual orientation of their straight brothers and sisters. It is also a condition that, like race, has historically been subject to abusive and often violent discrimination. It is precisely where a minority's basic human rights are abridged that our Constitution's promise of due process and equal protection is most vital.

Countries as Catholic as Spain, as different as Sweden and South Africa, and as near as Canada have embraced gay and lesbian marriage without any noticeable effect -- except the increase in human happiness and social stability that comes from permitting people to marry for love. Several states -- including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont -- have individually repealed their bans on same-sex marriage as inconsistent with a decent respect for human rights and a rational view of the communal value of marriage for all individuals. But basic constitutional rights cannot depend on the willingness of the electorate in any given state to end discrimination. If we were prepared to consign minority rights to a majority vote, there would be no need for a constitution.

The ban on same-sex marriages written into the California Constitution by a 52% vote in favor of Proposition 8 is the residue of centuries of figurative and literal gay-bashing. California allows same-sex domestic partnerships that, as interpreted by the California Supreme Court, provide virtually all of the economic rights of marriage. So the ban on permitting gay and lesbian couples to actually marry is simply an attempt by the state to stigmatize a segment of its population that commits no offense other than falling in love with a disapproved partner, and asks no more of the state than to be treated equally with all other citizens. In 2003 the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas held that states could not constitutionally outlaw consensual homosexual activity. As Justice Anthony Kennedy elegantly wrote rejecting the notion that a history of discrimination might trump constitutional rights, "Times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom."

There are those who sincerely believe that homosexuality is inconsistent with their religion -- and the First Amendment guarantees their freedom of belief. However, the same First Amendment, as well as the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, preclude the enshrinement of their religious-based disapproval in state law.

Gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters, our teachers and doctors, our friends and neighbors, our parents and children. It is time, indeed past time, that we accord them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It is time, indeed past time, that our Constitution fulfill its promise of equal protection and due process for all citizens by now eliminating the last remnant of centuries of misguided state discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The argument in favor of Proposition 8 ultimately comes down to no more than the tautological assertion that a marriage is between a man and a woman. But a slogan is not a substitute for constitutional analysis. Law is about justice, not bumper stickers.

Mr. Boies is the chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Episcopal Bishops Give Ground on Gay Marriage -

Episcopal Bishops Give Ground on Gay Marriage -

Episcopal Bishops Give Ground on Gay Marriage

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Published: July 15, 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The bishops of the Episcopal Church agreed Wednesday to a compromise measure that stops short of developing an official rite for same-sex unions, but gives latitude to bishops who wish to go ahead and bless such unions, particularly in states that have legalized such marriages.

Over two days of debate, some bishops said they felt compelled to act because of their pastoral responsibility to gay couples who were increasingly coming forward to ask the church to bless their unions. Many also said they saw it as a simple matter of granting equal rights to gay men and lesbians.

The measure was written to defer to bishops who oppose adopting a liturgy for same-sex blessings and to those who say their constituents are not ready for such a step. But it opens the door to doing so in the future, saying they will “collect and develop theological and liturgical resources” for same-sex blessings, and report to the next convention three years from now, which could then design an official rite.

Even with the nuance, the vote was a momentous step for a church that has been mired in intrafactional warfare over homosexuality for more than a decade. Advocates for gay rights in the church celebrated it as a victory, noting that the vote count was a resounding 104 in favor and 30 opposed, with 2 abstentions.

“It’s a big step forward,” said Bishop Thomas C. Ely of Vermont. “The House of Bishops worked hard to get to the place where we could have such a large majority voting to move forward on the development” of a rite for same-sex blessings.

click link above for full story

Thousand role in to defeat marriage in Maine

Sun Journal | Connecting you with your Community

Hundreds of thousands pour in for campaign to repeal gay marriage law
By Rebekah Metzler, Staff Writer
Published: Jul 16, 2009 12:00 am

LEWISTON — The group hoping to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law has out-raised the measure's proponents by more than two to one, according to state campaign reports filed Wednesday.

Stand for Maine Marriage, the group leading the effort for repeal, raised a total of about $343,000 from nine donors as of July 5, the end of the reporting period.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland contributed $100,000, the Knights of Columbus of Washington, D.C., chipped in $50,000 and Focus on the Family, a Christian group based in Colorado Springs, Colo., donated $31,000 to the political action committee seeking to repeal the gay marriage law.

Nearly half of the group's fundraising, $160,000, came from the National Organization for Marriage, a New Jersey-based group established in 2007 "in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures," according to its Web site.

The campaign finance report also shows four Maine citizens contributed a total of $400 to the cause.

Maine Freedom to Marry, the group campaigning to maintain the law, raised a total of about $138,000 from more than 350 donors during the same period, according to a release.

Donations from Mainers totaled about $80,000, with the remaining $58,000 coming from out of state, the release said. A spokesman for the group said it expected to file its official report with the state sometime on Wednesday, the state's deadline for the filing, but were being held up by technical difficulties. The updated report had not been posted on the state's Web site by 9 p.m.

The campaign focusing on gay marriage law has steadily progressed since the Legislature enacted and Gov. John Baldacci signed the legislation earlier this year. Petition gatherers recently submitted tens of thousands of signatures to the Maine Secretary of State's office in hopes of successfully certifying 55,087 of them, which would allow a repeal question to appear on the ballot this fall for judgment by Maine voters.

Marc Mutty, on leave from his job with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and chairman of the Stand for Maine Marriage PAC, said he was happy with the fundraising efforts so far, but added that the campaign had just begun.

"Most of our emphasis has been on collecting signatures, of course, but we're on the wind-down stage of that now and we're entering the next stage, which will be spending a lot of time actually putting the plan together and moving from there," he said.

The group leading efforts to keep the law is pleased with its positioning going into the next leg of the campaign.

"We're in a good spot to start; we always knew we would be out-raised, but I am really happy with where this report is," said Jesse Connolly, the campaign manager for Maine Freedom to Marry. He said he was particularly excited about the number of individual donors, both from Maine and away, who have contributed so far.

"You are also going to see consistently us being able to grow that donor base," Connolly said.

With about four months remaining before a potential vote, Mainers can expect to face a blitz of advertisements and calls, not to mention continued pleas for monetary contributions, from both sides.

Despite raising more than $300,000 in about a month, Stand for Maine Marriage had about $50,000 in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period, according to state records. The records also show more than $140,000 in unpaid obligations for the group.

Most of the spending, nearly $200,000, went to a national signature-gathering firm to expedite the petition process. More than $40,000 has been spent on campaign consultants, including the firm that worked successfully to overturn a similar law in California last year. Other money has been spent on campaign literature and office space, which has been rented on Route 1 in Yarmouth, according to the reports.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bill Clinton Backs Same-Sex Marriage

Bill Clinton Backs Same-Sex Marriage
Former President Bill Clinton has come out in support of same-sex marriage.

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Bill Clinton Backs Same-Sex Marriage

Gay Marriage

Michael Tracey: The former president's reversal is the highest-profile one to date. It may also have political implications for the future of the Defense of Marriage Act.

After speaking at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington, DC, on July 8, the former president was asked if he supported same-sex marriage. Clinton, in a departure from past statements, replied in the affirmative.

Clinton opposed same-sex marriage during his presidency, and in 1996, he signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which limited federal recognition of marriage to one man and one woman. In May of this year, Clinton told a crowd at Toronto's Convention Centre that his position on same-sex marriage was "evolving."

Apparently, Clinton's thinking has now further evolved. Asked if he would commit his support for same-sex marriage, Clinton responded, "I'm basically in support."

This spring, same-sex marriage was legalized in Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire. In his most recent remarks on the subject, Clinton said, "I think all these states that do it should do it." The former president, however, added that he does not believe that same-sex marriage is "a federal question."

Asked if he personally supported same-sex marriage, Clinton replied, "Yeah." "I personally support people doing what they want to do," Clinton said. "I think it's wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [same-sex marriage]."

The former president joins a string of prominent Democrats who have recently switched their position on the issue, including former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd.

"Bill Clinton joins other important public figures in stepping solidly into the twenty-first century in support of same-sex marriage equality," said the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's executive director Rea Carey. "We certainly hope other elected officials, including President Obama, join him in clearly stating their support for equality in this country. Same-sex couples should not have to experience second-class citizenship."

Clinton's reversal is the highest-profile one to date. It may also have political implications for the future of the Defense of Marriage Act. President Obama has pledged to repeal the law, but in June, the Justice Department filed a brief in federal court defending the law's constitutionality.

A recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Democrats favor same-sex marriage.

Leahy for repeal of DOMA

-Leahy2009The Defense of Marriage Act needs to go, or so says Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. In an interview given to Vermont Public Radio’s Ross Sneyd. Sixteen years ago, Senator Leahy voted for DOMA, but he says that today he would not. It is unlikely that Senator Leahy is announcing this in conjunction with his upcoming reelection bid since it is almost unlikely that anyone serious will challenge the man who first entered the Senate in 1975. Vermonters value seniority in Congress over a need to constantly change the Congressional delegation. Given that it is a small state, it is easy to find out if they become corrupt and they usually do not last long after that. Senator Leahy is the only Democrat to serve as Vermont Senator since the Civil War.

The largest reason that Senator Leahy feels that the time has come to repeal DOMA largely has to do with the wave of six states which have now legalized same-sex marriage rights, and that this move by the states largely renders DOMA unnecessary. According to Senator Leahy, he voted for DOMA sixteen years ago because he believed that it would prevent the federal government from imposing a national law forcing recognition of marriage equality on the states. Unfortunately, DOMA had the effect of creating a great deal of discrimination towards gays, lesbians and transpeople, and Senator Leahy believes that is wrong. “Leahy says he’s always believed gay and lesbian couples shouldn’t be discriminated against. He says he’s come to the conclusion that DOMA is discriminatory,” according to Sneyd.

Senator Leahy has stated his opposition to the policy known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as well. However, his opposition to DOMA is unusual since many Senators are unwilling to state their opposition to that law. Getting DOMA repealed through Congress may be a near impossibility given that the number of states which would resist such a move is larger than the number of states which would welcome it. Support for marriage equality is slowly building, and Nate Silver of 538dotcom believes that the tipping point where the majority of states have a majority of people who support marriage equality will come sometimes around the middle of the next decade. There are, of course, a lot of caveats to that prediction, but then, there are with every prediction.

In 2000, Vermont became the first state to legalize civil unions with the intent of providing the same state benefits to same-sex couples; however, it was not as effective as predicted. In 2009, Vermont became the first state to pass marriage equality through the legislature rather than the courts even though Governor Douglas vetoed the bill. It was overridden by the Legislature. It became the first time a Vermont Governor had been overridden since Richard Snelling, and became the first of two veto overrides to hit Governor Douglas.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gay City News > What the State Senate Democratic Win Means

Gay City News > What the State Senate Democratic Win Means

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With Democratic control of the New York State Senate once again secured, the Legislature’s upper chamber can, after a one-month deadlock, finally turn its attention to some of the year’s most highly contested questions –– issues ranging from mayoral control of schools to marriage equality.

What remains unclear, however –– even after a July 9 press conference by Democratic leaders and an extraordinary midnight release from top Democratic and Republican senators –– is how the promised commitment to reform will take shape in specific rules changes and what impact that will have on prospects for a marriage equality vote in the near term.

Senator Thomas K. Duane, the out gay Chelsea Democrat who is the lead same-sex marriage sponsor –– as well as the helmsman on other key LGBT initiatives such as a transgender civil rights bill and a school anti-bullying measure –– put out a statement immediately after the restoration of Democratic control was announced, saying, “As disappointing as it is to admit, it is clear that this week is not the right moment for same-sex marriage legislation. Senators need some time and distance to regroup after this month’s partisan-charged and explosive atmosphere.”

That statement hastened to add, however, that the Senate would “be called back to Albany” in “the weeks and months ahead,” at which time he would “fight for and demand, with bipartisan support, that bills important to the LGBT community come to the floor for a vote –– and pass.”

In a telephone interview with Gay City News the same evening, Duane said he expected action not only on marriage equality, already approved by the Assembly and supported by Governor David Paterson, but also on the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and the Dignity for All Students Act. The marriage bill, he said confidently, “will get to the floor this year and it will pass.”

In the immediate term, Duane explained, only time-sensitive issues that must be acted on quickly –– such as the one-half cent increase in New York City’s sales tax approved in a late-night July 9 session –– would be taken up by the Senate.

On the morning of July 10, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s LGBT rights lobby, issued a written statement backing Duane’s insistence that critical matters of concern to the community get action in the next few weeks.

“We expect that our equality will remain at the top of the chamber’s agenda,” ESPA’s executive director, Alan Van Capelle, said. “Senators from both sides of the aisle have repeatedly said this past month that reform and doing the people’s business were central to the events that transpired. Our equality is the people’s business; reform means scheduling votes on our issues so senators can vote their conscience. “

As the July 9 Senate session spilled out past midnight, a bipartisan statement –– signed by Democrats Malcolm Smith, identified as the Senate president, Pedro Espada, as majority leader, and John Sampson, as Democratic conference leader, and Republican Minority Leader Dean Skelos –– articulated goals long sought by reformers, particularly those interested in moving progressive legislation blocked in recent years by the former GOP leadership.

Those reforms, the statement read, “give each individual senator the means to effectively represent their constituents and assure each senator will be treated fairly and with respect so they can do their jobs to the best of their ability. The rules will empower the membership and enable all 62 members a greater opportunity to get their bills moved out of committees and onto the floor for a vote.”

One Senate source, however, said reform advocates remain wary and are prepared to carefully scrutinize the rules changes that could be voted on as early as next week to ensure that they truly open up the process of bringing legislation to the floor without first winning leadership’s blessing.

Duane has for several months said he had commitments from a sufficient number of senators to win approval of marriage equality legislation, so reform, done the right way, would presumably give him at least one sure avenue of getting a vote.

The other way, of course, would be for the Senate leadership, now that the deadlock is over, to move the measure itself. The leadership’s commitment to do that has been a matter of considerable speculation dating back to last fall when the first threats of defection came from some in the Democratic caucus. Among the Democrats who warned they might block Smith’s original selection as Senate leader was the Reverend Ruben Diaz, a stridently anti-gay Bronx Pentecostal minister who said he could not support any leader who would allow a marriage equality vote.

Smith put down that initial challenge by New Year’s Day, but Diaz was a highly visible player during the chaotic last few days leading up his Bronx colleague Espada’s return to the Democratic fold –– and he was right out front as the new leadership team was announced at the July 9 press conference. In fact, only 12 of the 32 Democrats were present at their party’s moment of triumph –– and several prominent Manhattan progressives who are among the strongest marriage equality advocates, including Duane, Liz Krueger, Eric Schneiderman, and Daniel Squadron, were absent.

Duane cautioned against reading anything into who did and did not attend the victory lap at the Capitol. Asked whether the possibility that Diaz may have played a role in forging the new Democratic conference agreement caused him concern, Duane emphasized that he was looking to Governor Paterson’s leadership in making certain that marriage equality, transgender rights, and anti-bullying get votes this year. His most recent meeting with the governor on those matters, he said, may have been going on as Smith, Espada, Diaz, and nine other of his colleagues stood before the press.

“I have spoken to the governor several times in the past week, and he has re-emphasized his interest in moving marriage this year,” Duane told Gay City News. “We are going to strategize on how to move marriage this year, and we will get that done.”

Paterson’s ability to influence the Senate agenda, Duane said, would come in part from his continuing to call the chamber into extraordinary session, as he has been doing since shortly after the deadlock began June 8.

Senate Democrats, however, were among those who challenged the governor’s authority in calling them back in the manner he did, and Paterson’s office on July 10 said it was uncertain how he would proceed on that issue now that the Senate has reestablished an operating authority. The session on July 9 was an ordinary meeting of the Senate, and if the chamber takes up rules reform next week, that too is expected to take place in a regular session.

Harlem Democratic Senator Bill Perkins, a staunch marriage equality ally, was among those who did attend the July 9 press conference, and he is convinced that the Senate is “moving in the direction” of genuine reform on issues such as senators being able to get votes on their legislation. That’s important to him not only on marriage equality, but on other issues such as vacancy decontrol under the city’s rent stabilization law.

Asked specifically about the fact that Diaz is a marriage equality foe and Espada has been viewed as an ally of landlord interests, Perkins, discussing how the Democratic majority was cobbled back together, said, “There was no discussion that I’ve heard about that this is what we are doing and this is not what we’re doing,”

Perkins also emphasized, “The leadership has for some time made a commitment on gay marriage and the majority of members are supportive, notwithstanding the opposition of some.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Associated Press: Gay legal groups want in on Calif court case

this is not good

The Associated Press: Gay legal groups want in on Calif court case

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Three gay-friendly legal groups have asked to be part of a federal lawsuit challenging California's same-sex marriage ban — a request that drew an icy reception from the activists behind the case.

After publicly questioning the wisdom of the suit and then submitting papers in support of it, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights said they want to represent gay community groups in the proceedings.

The three legal organizations are the same ones that have long led the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal's national marriage director, said their full participation is vital now that U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has put the Proposition 8 challenge on a fast-track to trial.

"We think it will be very helpful to Judge Walker and the ultimate resolution of the questions in the case for the litigation to have the benefit of the presence of the community in all its diversity," Pizer said.

But the newly formed political group funding the case, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, is opposing the request. The foundation scored a public relations coup when it persuaded the high-profile lawyers who squared off over the disputed 2000 presidential election to take on the lawsuit.

In a letter to the legal groups sent Wednesday, board president Chad Griffin, a Los Angeles-based political consultant, said the show of solidarity was coming too late since the same groups originally criticized a federal civil rights claim as premature.

"You have unrelentingly and unequivocally acted to undermine this case even before it was filed. Considering this, it is inconceivable that you would zealously and effectively litigate this case if you were successful in intervening," Griffin said. "Therefore, we will vigorously oppose any motion to intervene."

Getting more lawyers involved also would delay and unnecessarily complicate the proceedings, Griffin wrote. He said the public interest groups were welcome to continue participating as consultants.

Pizer said it was unclear when Walker would rule on the motion naming the three community groups — one representing gay families, another representing gay seniors and third representing parents with gay children — as parties to the case.

Wednesday's sikrmish is the latest fallout from Proposition 8's passage, which set off disagreements within the gay rights movement over who was to blame and what strategy would be best for reversing the measure.

State Suit Challenges U.S. Defense of Marriage Act -

State Suit Challenges U.S. Defense of Marriage Act -


BOSTON — The Massachusetts attorney general, Martha Coakley, sued the federal government Wednesday to overturn a section of the law denying federal benefits to spouses in same-sex marriages.

With the suit, Massachusetts becomes the first state to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed by Congress in 1996 and prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage.

Massachusetts was also the first state, in 2003, to grant gay couples the right to marry; five other states — Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont — have since followed. The challenge, filed in United States District Court here, comes as President Obama and Congress face increasing pressure from gay rights groups to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Ms. Coakley, a Democrat, said the act interfered with states’ rights to define and regulate marriage as they saw fit. While same-sex couples can marry in Massachusetts — Ms. Coakley said more than 16,000 have done so — they are denied federal benefits like Social Security survivors’ payments, the right to file taxes jointly and guaranteed leave from work to care for a sick spouse.

“We cannot and should not be required to violate the equal-protection rights of our citizens in Massachusetts who choose to be married,” Ms. Coakley said, adding that the act forced the state “to disregard the marriages of same-sex couples when implementing federally funded programs.”

The suit also highlights two state programs affected by the Defense of Marriage Act: Medicaid, which provides health care coverage to low-income residents, and the burial of veterans and their spouses at cemeteries owned and operated by the state. The suit names as defendants the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the United States.

The Defense of Marriage Act has drawn renewed attention in recent months as more states have legalized same-sex marriage or come close to doing so. (In one of those states, Maine, opponents of same-sex marriage said Wednesday that they had collected enough signatures to get a question on the November ballot asking voters to overturn the new law.)

Mr. Obama repeatedly called for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act during his presidential campaign, and gay advocates have criticized him for what they call a failure to make a priority of that goal in his first few months on the job. Last month, the Obama administration extended some partnership rights to federal workers in same-sex relationships — allowing them to take leave to care for sick partners, for example. But several of the nation’s most prominent gay political leaders quickly said that was not enough.

Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Justice Department, reiterated Mr. Obama’s support for repealing the act on Wednesday and said, “We will review this case.”

Ms. Coakley has expressed interest in running for the United States Senate; some political observers consider her a contender for the seat of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who has been fighting a malignant brain tumor. On Wednesday, however, she said that she was planning to seek re-election to her current post.

The state’s suit is similar to one filed in March by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the legal advocacy group that successfully argued for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. But that challenge, brought on behalf of a small group of same-sex couples and widowers, focuses more narrowly on equal protection as applied to certain benefits.

Gary Buseck, the group’s legal director, predicted that the two suits would eventually be joined and said the state’s involvement would add heft.

“To have the chief law enforcement officer of the commonwealth taking the position that we take — that the federal government discriminates against married same-sex couples — is a good thing,” Mr. Buseck said.

Katie Zezima contributed reporting from Boston.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

People's Veto to Overturn Gay Marriage Nears Finish Line

People's Veto to Overturn Gay Marriage Nears Finish Line

Signature gathering effort is in the homestretch after just four weeks

PORTLAND, Me., July 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Looking to overturn a bill signed by Governor John Baldacci in May approving same sex marriage, Stand For Marriage Maine announced today that they have collected more than the 55,087 signatures needed to place a People's Veto on the November ballot and are collecting additional signatures as insurance to meet the deadline to qualify the measure for the 2009 statewide election.

"In just four weeks, we've gathered more than 55,000 signatures from Mainers who believe they, not the legislature and governor, should have the final say on the definition of marriage," said Marc Mutty, Chairman of the coalition. "There has been an extraordinary outpouring of support from voters across the state. This response gives us momentum that will lift us over the first hurdle of putting the issue before the people and, ultimately, carry us to victory in November."

All signatures must be certified by the Secretary of State for validity. Once certified, the issue is cleared to appear on the November 2009 ballot.

"The fact that we've gathered all these signatures in just a month to proceed with the People's Veto suggests that the people of Maine, like those in 43 other states, want to restore marriage to its historical and time-honored definition as between a man and a woman," said Bob Emrich, founder of the Maine Jeremiah Project and an Executive Committee member of Stand for Marriage Maine. "We look forward to submitting the measure for certification and engaging Mainers in a vigorous defense of marriage. Traditional marriage has never lost on the ballot in any state. We expect it to prevail in Maine."

Stand For Marriage Maine is a broad-based coalition of business, elected officials, the Catholic Diocese of Portland, the Maine Jeremiah Project, and others. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

13 Love Stories

this is what changes minds.

13 Love Stories

D.C. to recognize same-sex marriages starting today

D.C. to recognize same-sex marriages starting today

Washington D.C. will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states starting today. In May of this year, council passed the measure by a vote of 12-1. Councilman Marion Barry was the only person who opposed.

As was expected, the decision caused an outrage among many anti-gay groups. One of those groups included African American ministers who caused such a raucous that they had to be cleared out of council chambers by local police.

Following the vote, Barry warned that the decision could have serious repercussions.

"All hell is going to break lose," Barry said. "We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this."

Although another civil war hasn’t erupted, many in the black community are enraged.
Bishop Harry Jackson, organizer of the anti-gay group Stand 4 Marriage DC believes the decision made is a “declaration of war.”

In June, an open community forum was held that allowed for opinions, no matter how negative or nasty, to be given.

Minister Leroy Swailes, who is believed to own the anti-gay website, believes that some forms of discrimination are positive.

“Me as a black man, when they discriminated against me, I came out of my mother’s womb, like I didn’t have a choice, that was a negative discrimination. If you discriminate against a homosexual, that’s a positive.”

Congress had 30 days to review the bill- 30 days has since expired. Recognizing same-sex marriages is considered to be the first step in the process of eventually allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in D.C.

States that allow same-sex marriage include Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Federal judge moves to fast track legal fight over Proposition 8 - San Jose Mercury News

Federal judge moves to fast track legal fight over Proposition 8 - San Jose Mercury News

By Howard Mintz

Mercury News
Posted: 07/02/2009 12:04:57 PM PDT
Updated: 07/02/2009 10:07:48 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge Thursday refused to temporarily block Proposition 8, moving forward with his plan to put the latest legal challenge over California's gay marriage ban on a fast track to a trial that is likely to produce the most thorough review to date of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

With all sides in the legal battle poised for a fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker agreed with Attorney General Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, concluding that it would cause too much confusion across California if he chose to suspend Proposition 8 while the challenge to the voter-approved gay marriage ban unfolds in the courts. Brown has nevertheless sided with gay marriage advocates on the overall lawsuit, agreeing that Proposition 8 violates the federal equal protection rights of gay and lesbian couples by denying them the ability to marry.

Walker told a packed courtroom that his job is to establish a full record on the legal tangle over gay marriage because he will not be the final word in a case that many legal experts believe will force the U.S. Supreme Court to address the issue.

"What happens here is only a prelude to what is going to happen later," Walker said.

Backed by a high-powered legal group headed by former Republican U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, two gay couples sued in May to overturn Proposition 8, shifting the
legal fight over gay marriage in California to the federal courts. The California Supreme Court in May upheld Proposition 8, concluding that it did not have the legal authority to overturn the voter-backed amendment to the California Constitution.

The justices still refused to invalidate an estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place before Proposition 8 went into effect last November, in the aftermath of a previous state Supreme Court ruling declaring prior laws outlawing gay marriage unconstitutional. The latest lawsuit argues that Proposition 8 violates federal equal rights laws for couples now unable to marry and was adopted to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

With Brown backing the plaintiffs and Schwarzenegger remaining neutral on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, gay marriage foes are alone defending the law, although they've enlisted high-powered legal help as well. Charles Cooper, a former top Justice Department official during the Reagan administration, is leading the Proposition 8 defense, warning that the lawsuit threatens "the common definition of marriage in the laws of 43 states and the federal government."

Walker gave lawyers on both sides until early August to sort through the factual issues in order to establish a framework for a trial that could take place by the end of the year. In an order earlier this week, Walker envisions an expansive, unprecedented exploration of the civil rights challenge over gay marriage, ranging from the history of discrimination against gays to arguments over the impact of same-sex marriage on traditional marriage and child-rearing.

In the meantime, Olson expressed concern about Proposition 8 continuing to remain in effect, despite the fact he will not contest Walker's denial of a preliminary injunction.

"Every day Prop. 8 is in force perpetuates a tragic injustice on tens of thousands of Californians," Olson said in court.