Friday, August 28, 2009

Profile of Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage -

learn about your opposition Brian Brown of NOM

Profile of Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage -

The nightmares of gay marriage supporters are the Pat Robertsons of the world. The James Dobsons, the John Hagees -- the people who specialize in whipping crowds into frothy frenzies, who say things like Katrina was caused by the gays.

The gay marriage supporters have not met Brian Brown. They should. He might be more worth knowing about.

Brown is the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, the preeminent organization dedicated to preventing the legalization of same-sex marriage. For two years, Brown has been traveling across the country. He moved his wife and six kids to California, where NOM was instrumental in passing Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as an institution only between a man and a woman. Before that, Connecticut, where his cause was hurt when the state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

It was NOM that Miss USA runner-up Carrie Prejean went to shortly after her infamous "opposite marriage" pageant answer. "Gathering Storm," the much-YouTubed announcement in which actors discussed how gay marriage would negatively affect their freedom of religion? That was NOM.

Now NOM is moving its national headquarters to Washington.

The thing about the John Hagees and the Pat Robertsons is that some people consider them "fringe." And when they speechify, the people they're most persuasive with are the ones who already believe them.

But this country is not made up of people in the far wings, right or left. This country is made up of a movable middle, reasonable people looking for reasonable arguments to assure them that their feelings have a rational basis.

Brian Brown speaks to these people. He has a master's degree from Oxford, and completed course work for a doctorate in history from UCLA. He shoulders the accusations of bigotry; it's horrible when people say that your life's mission is actually just prejudice. He tries to help people see that opposing gay marriage does not make them bigots, that the argumen

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

N.J. bishops target same-sex unions -

so here we go again the Catholic church puts its two sense in What happened to separation of church and state?

N.J. bishops target same-sex unions -

N.J. bishops target same-sex unions
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Jeff Diamant

Catholic bishops in New Jersey have begun a campaign against same-sex marriage in anticipation of a possible vote on the issue by state legislators sometime after the November election.

The bishops directed Catholic priests throughout the state to distribute in parish bulletins last Sunday a 2,300-word letter opposing same-sex marriage. The priests are also expected to speak about the issue from the altar after Labor Day.

"The Catholic Church teaches today and has always and everywhere taught for 2,000 years that marriage is the union of one man and one woman," the letter reads. "This great truth about marriage is not some obscure doctrinal fine point but a fact of human nature, recognized from time immemorial by people of virtually every faith and culture."

Official Catholic teachings against same-sex marriage are widely known, although polls indicate U.S. Catholics don't collectively heed church teachings. In a Washington Post/ABC poll this spring, 46 percent of white Catholics favored legalizing same-sex marriage, compared with 49 percent of the general population.

The official Catholic teaching "needs to be reinforced often," said the Rev. Marc Vicari, vicar for family life in the Newark Archdiocese, explaining why the state's bishops are pressing the issue for at least the third time in the last two years. "I don't think people understand what marriage is from a Catholic perspective -- even some Catholics who are getting married."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has supported past efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

The letter distributed last Sunday mentions Vatican writings and a verse straight from the catechism of the Catholic Church, a text that spells out official Catholic teachings.

The bishops reason that, given that God "bestowed" the gift of marriage on humanity, "governments, therefore, have a duty to reinforce and protect this permanent institution and to pass it on to future generations, rather than attempt to redefine it arbitrarily for transitory political or social reasons."

The document, signed by bishops of the dioceses of Newark, Metuchen, Trenton, Paterson and Camden, and by the Byzantine bishop of the eparchy of Passaic, takes a less critical view of civil unions -- legal arrangements designed to grant same-sex couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples -- that are legal in New Jersey .

"Same-sex civil unions may represent a new and a different type of institution, one in which government grants to same-sex couples benefits and protections, but same sex unions are not marriage," the bishops' letter says.

The document's language complies with church teachings against gay sex, said James Goodness, a spokesman for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.

"Certainly the church does not approve of sex outside of marriage," he said.

Not all Christian religious leaders in the state agree with the Catholic bishops. Mark Beckwith, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, has vocally supported same-sex marriage for several years.

"From my faith perspective, we need to do all that we can to support lifelong relationships that are marked by commitment and fidelity and to bless the gift of people who have discovered love with each other," Beckwith said yesterday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Filling in NOM's conveniently excised words - Good As You:: Gay and Lesbian Activism With a Sense of Humor

Filling in NOM's conveniently excised words - Good As You:: Gay and Lesbian Activism With a Sense of Humor

Since fully fleshed out thoughts are the enemy of their cause, the National Organization For Marriage doesn't want you reading Iowa Governor Chet Culver's full comments on his state's fair-minded marriage ruling. This is why in their latest anti-equality video, they snip Culver's words so as to make him seem tyrannical and unfair.

We, however, are big fans of transparency, reasoned consideration, and taking time to actually think about what is being said before acting with a reactionary knee jerk. Which is why we've taken the liberty of reinstalling the 577 surrounding words that Maggie Gallagher and company removed from Gov. Culver's explanation as to why, exactly, he opposes any attempt to tyrannically overrule what a unanimous court found to be constitutionally sound. Enjoy:

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver today issued the following statement after reviewing the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision in Varnum v. Brien:

“I have carefully reviewed the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous decision on civil marriage and discussed it with the Attorney General.

“Let me begin by saying that I recognize that the issue of same-gender civil marriage is one that evokes strongly held beliefs and strong emotions both for and against. These beliefs and feelings need to be respected. I hope that the views of those on all sides will be treated respectfully and will not be subjected to name-calling or fear-mongering, but instead will lead to rational discussion.

“At the outset, I want to emphasize that the question before the Iowa Supreme Court was one of civil marriage only – a state-recognized legal status constituting a civil contract. Civil marriage always has been, and will continue to be, separate from religious marriage that takes place in churches and places of worship.

“As I have stated before, I personally believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a tenet of my personal faith. The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision has, in fact, reaffirmed that churches across Iowa will continue to have the right to recognize the sanctity of religious marriage in accordance with their own traditions and church doctrines. The Supreme Court’s decision does not require that churches recognize marriages between persons of the same gender or officiate over such unions. The Court does not have, nor should any court ever have, that kind of power over our religious lives. Our churches and places of worship are free to decide for themselves, as they were before, who may enter the sacred covenant of marriage. As the Supreme Court’s decision states, ‘The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Leonard Link: Back to Square one for California DOMA Challenge

Leonard Link: Back to Square one for California DOMA Challenge

he Associated Press is reporting that U.S. District Judge David O. Carter has granted the federal government's motion to dismiss the pending lawsuit of Smelt v. United States (U.S.Dist.Ct., Central Dist. Calif.) on the ground that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case. The lawsuit claims that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, reciting a litany of constitutional provisions. Judge Carter reportedly accepted the government's argument that because the case was originally filed in state court, it must be dismissed on the ground that the state court has no jurisdiction to hear suits against the federal government seeking declarations that federal statutes are unconstitutional. (The case ended up before Judge Carter because the federal government's response to the filing of the complaint was to remove the case to federal court, then to move to dismiss it.) Of course, the federal court would have jurisdiction over such a claim as an original matter, and Judge Carter pointed out as much, indicating that the dismissal is without prejudice to the plaintiffs' right to refile the case as a federal lawsuit. This means that, at most, there will be a delay rather than an abandonment of the case, because Richard Gilbert, the plaintiffs' lawyer, announced that the suit will be refiled in federal court.

Gilbert is representing Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, a longtime couple who originally filed a federal suit challenging the constitutionality of DOMA many years ago. That suit came to grief when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that they lacked standing to challenge DOMA because they were not married when that lawsuit was undertaken.

DOMA has two operative provisions: Section 2 says that no state is obligated to give full faith and credit to same-sex marriages performed in other states. Since the Smelt-Hammer couple was not married, this provision did not adversely affect them in any way. Section 3 says that the federal government will not treat same-sex couples as married for any purpose, even if they are legally married under the law of a state. (When DOMA was passed in 1996, no state permitted same-sex couples to marry, so this was entirely hypothetical.) Since the Smelt-Hammer couple was not married, again, the court said they were not adversely affected by the law. In order to have standing in federal court, a plaintiff must present a "real case or controversy," not a hypothetical case. Thus, court said that only a married couple could challenge DOMA.

In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had a right to marry under the California constitution. The ruling went into effect in June 2008, and over the summer of 2008 Smelt and Hammer got married. Then the public narrowly voted in November 2008 to amend the California Constitution to end the right of same-sex couples to marry there. A legal challenge was filed to this amendment (Proposition 8), but it was upheld by the California Supreme Court. However, that court said that Prop 8 was not retroactive, and that the marriages that took place during the period June-November 2008 prior to its enactment remained valid. Thus, for purposes of California law, Smelt and Hammer are validly married.

They filed their new lawsuit in December 2008, claiming that now as a married couple they were entiled to challenge the constitutionality of DOMA. But they filed their lawsuit in state court, because the federal court was unwilling to waive the normal filing fees and the couple, who are disabled and have limited resources, did not want to pay the federal court fees. One wonders what their attorney, Richard Gilbert, was thinking in filing in state court. State courts do not have jurisdiction over claims against the federal government, which has only waived its sovereign immunity in specific kinds of cases to be heard in the federal court system. I'm not sure exactly why the Justice Department did not promptly move the state court to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds (could it be that Justice just refuses to get involved in litigation in state courts, even if it just involves a motion to dismiss an errant complaint?), but in any event they removed it to federal court and then moved to dismiss it on jurisdictional grounds, also making the argument (unnecessary and, unfortunately, quite provocative) that DOMA is constitutional. (In my opinion, they are wrong as to the constitutional argument, but I agreed with their jurisdictional arguments.) Indeed, their brief in support of the motion was so provocative on the merits that it threatened to alienate gay supporters of the Obama Administration. The President then made nice at a Gay Pride reception at the White House, and when the government filed its reply brief to the plaintiffs' responsive brief on the motion, the White House issued a statement reiterating the President's commitment to repeal DOMA.

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NJ activists ready for battle over gay marriage :: EDGE San Francisco

NJ activists ready for battle over gay marriage :: EDGE San Francisco

by Geoff Mulvihill
Associated Press
Sunday Aug 23, 2009

VINELAND, N.J.-In a pew of the Chestnut Assembly of God on a Tuesday night, Pat Mannion decided that for the first time in her 58 years, she would get involved in politics. She would call lawmakers and tell neighbors about her cause: Keeping New Jersey from becoming the next state to recognize the marriages of gay couples.

Louise Walpin and Marsha Shapiro, who also never thought of themselves as activists, made a similar decision about two years ago. They have been talking with legislators about why they believe the state should recognize them as a married couple.

The women have joined the movements as the debate over gay unions in New Jersey goes from the philosophical to the practical, and from the courts to the Legislature.

Both sides -- those who say they want to "protect marriage" as it is, and those who call for "marriage equality" -- are recruiting and mobilizing volunteers to pressure lawmakers.

A bill that would allow gay marriage is expected to be debated in Trenton during the lame-duck period between the Nov. 3 election and start of a new legislative session in January.

In the fall, there probably will be television and radio ads on the issue. But for now, the focus is mostly on the faithful speaking to their representatives in Trenton.

In 2006, the state Supreme Court said that committed gay couples deserved the same treatment as straight married couples. The Legislature responded by making New Jersey the third state to offer civil unions, which give the same legal benefits the state offers to married couples, but not the title of marriage.

That didn’t settle the issue.

As couples first entered into civil unions in February 2007, Garden State Equality chairman Steven Goldstein vowed that within two years, his group would persuade lawmakers and the governor to do what no other state had done -- pass a law recognizing same-sex marriage.

Then, only Massachusetts allowed same-sex marriages, and that was because of a court ruling, not a law.

Goldstein did not meet his deadline, and New Jersey will not be the first state to recognize the marriages under a law.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Group that backed Prop. 8 focuses on reinstating Iowa's gay-marriage ban | L.A. Now | Los Angeles Times

Group that backed Prop. 8 focuses on reinstating Iowa's gay-marriage ban | L.A. Now | Los Angeles Times

Opponents of same-sex marriage launched a campaign today to re-ban gay marriage in Iowa.

The National Organization for Marriage, which was active in getting Proposition 8 approved by voters in California, sent out an appeal for donations to run advertisements on behalf of political candidates who oppose same-sex marriage.

It said the first ad would support Republican Stephen Burgmeier, who supports putting the issue of same-sex marriage to a vote in the Hawkeye State. He is up for election in less than two weeks.

In April, Iowa became the third state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage after the state Supreme Court ruled that a law defining marriage as only between men and women was unconstitutional.

Brian Brown -- who spearheaded the National Organization for Marriage's efforts in California, and is now the group's executive director -- also wrote supporters that donations could be used nationwide, to “allow us to rapidly intervene … in key races across the country where a handful of House or Senate seats could make the difference between whether a same-sex marriage bill or state marriage amendment passes or fails.”

-- Jessica Garrison

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

U.S. Lutheran branch loosens gay clergy policy | U.S. | Reuters

U.S. Lutheran branch loosens gay clergy policy | U.S. | Reuters

By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS (Reuters) - The largest American Lutheran denomination cleared the way on Friday to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve in ministry, ending a policy that had opened leadership posts to them only if they remained celibate.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also encouraged its congregations to find ways to support or recognize members in "accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships."

But it did not give official sanction to gay marriage or approve any rites for such ceremonies.

Still, the stance taken by the 4.6-million-member church is one of the most liberal by any U.S. denomination on matters of sexual orientation, which are among the most divisive political and religious issues in America today.

The church adopted the resolution at its biennial meeting in Minneapolis.

"It is about people in committed, same-gender relationships," said John Brooks, the director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's news service and a spokesman for the church.

Previously gays and lesbians had been barred from service unless they stayed celibate.

The resolution, approved by a vote of 559 to 441, said the church was committed to finding ways to allow people in "accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church."

The measure applies to clergy as well as professional lay leaders.

The assembly still has to approve procedural changes to allow the resolution to go forward. Brooks said he expected the new policy to be in place by 2010.


The move follows the lifting last month of a de facto ban by the U.S. Episcopal Church on the consecration of gay bishops, setting the stage for wider conflict in the global Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal Church, which is the U.S. branch of Anglicanism, is also in the process of developing official rites or liturgies to bless same-sex unions.

All of this is unfolding against the backdrop of America's wider debate over issues such as gay marriage, child adoption by same-sex parents and the status of homosexuals in the military. Gay marriage has been approved in six U.S. states but it is being challenged in Maine.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the United Church of Christ is alone among major U.S. Christian denominations in officially recognizing gay marriage.

Polls consistently show gays enjoying growing acceptance in American society, a fact readily visible in popular culture. But fast-growing faiths in the United States such as many evangelical Protestant churches and the Mormon church regard homosexual relations as sinful and proscribed by scripture.

Ballot initiatives to ban gay marriage at the state level have been a regular feature in recent U.S. election cycles and commentators say they have helped boost turnout among the Republican Party's conservative Christian base.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

the horrible things that gay marriage will do

Maggie responds to previous post

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Horrible Things That Gay Marriage Will Do

by Conor Clarke

As Peter noted earlier today, Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman challenged conservatives who oppose gay marriage on practical grounds to "make simple, concrete predictions about measurable social indicators," now that various states are letting gays wed. According to Chapman, they refused.

But now I see that Maggie Gallagher, President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, has circled back around to Chapman's question over at the National Review. She writes:

1. In gay-marriage states, a large minority people committed to traditional notions of marriage will feel afraid to speak up for their views, lest they be punished in some way.

2. Public schools will teach about gay marriage.

3. Parents in public schools who object to gay marriage being taught to their children will be told with increasing public firmness that they don't belong in public schools and their views will not be accomodated in any way.

4. Religous institutions will face new legal threats (especially soft litigation threats) that will cause some to close, or modify their missions, to avoid clashing with the government's official views of marriage (which will include the view that opponents are akin to racists for failing to see same-sex couples as married).

5. Support for the idea "the ideal for a child is a married mother and father" will decline.

Oh come on. Is this really the best they can do? First, none of these things are "simple, concrete predictions about measurable social indicators." But there's a bigger problem here: None of them -- with the exception of #4 (where I think Gallagher is just plain wrong) and this vague, unconvincing business of being "punished" in #1 -- are bad things! If this is Gallagher's "parade of horribles," then the battle over gay marriage has been won. Every other item on Gallagher's list amounts to this: As support for gay marriage grows, the public institutions and sentiments that oppose gay marriage will become increasingly marginalized.

To which one might add, Rightfully so.

An odd silence on gay marriage --

An odd silence on gay marriage --

Opponents of same-sex marriage reject it on religious and moral grounds but also on practical ones. If we let homosexuals marry, they believe, a parade of horribles will follow -- the weakening of marriage as an institution, children at increased risk of broken homes, the eventual legalization of polygamy and who knows what all.

Well, guess what? We're about to find out if they're right. Unlike most public policy debates, this one is the subject of a gigantic experiment, which should definitively answer whether same-sex marriage will have a broad, destructive social impact.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire have all decided to let gays wed. Most of the remaining 44 states, however, are not likely to follow suit anytime soon. So in the next few years, we will have a chance to compare social trends in the states permitting same-sex marriage against social trends in the others.

But with the experiment looming, some opponents seem to be doubting their own convictions. I contacted three serious conservative thinkers who have written extensively about the dangers of allowing gay marriage and asked them to make simple, concrete predictions about measurable social indicators -- marriage rates, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, child poverty, you name it.

You would think they would react like Albert Pujols when presented with a hanging curveball. Yet none was prepared to forecast what would happen in same-sex marriage states versus other states.

Maggie Gallagher, president of the Virginia-based Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, has declared that losing this battle "means losing American civilization." But she politely declined my invitation.

Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, has been equally dire. The change, he has warned, would weaken social taboos against adultery and incest and "set in motion a series of threats to the ethos of monogamy from which the institution of marriage may never recover."

When it came time to offer more specific predictions, Kurtz was missing in action. I e-mailed him twice and left a message on his office voice mail. After two weeks, I'm beginning to lose hope.

The only person willing to talk was David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values. His 2007 book, "The Future of Marriage," made a serious and temperate effort to grapple with the case for same-sex marriage. Blankenhorn opposed it out of fear it would drain marriage of its central role by making it "exclusively a private relationship" that is "essentially unconnected to larger social needs and public meanings."

When I talked with him, though, he declined to predict what tangible bad things will occur in same-sex marriage states. "I disagree with those who say it will have no impact at all," Blankenhorn told me. "But beyond that, I don't think you can say."

What's equally striking is that when I made similar inquiries to people on the other side of the debate, I encountered no such reluctance. They forthrightly asserted that granting gays access to matrimony will have no discernible impact.

"I wouldn't expect much effect on the social indicators that would be visible to the naked eye," said Jonathan Rauch, a researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington and author of the 2004 book, "Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America." Evan Wolfson, founder of the organization Freedom to Marry, agreed: "I don't think social indicators will get worse" in same-sex marriage states.

M. V. Lee Badgett, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of the new book, "When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage," was happy to answer my question. "I don't think we'll see those kinds of negative social consequences," she said. "In Europe, there's no evidence that patterns have changed for marriage, divorce or non-marital births because of same-sex marriage or registered partnerships."

In a few years, we won't have to rely on such forecasts, because the facts will be there for all to see. And they should settle the issue once and for all.

But I have a strong suspicion that both sides of the debate are right. The supporters of same-sex marriage are right in predicting that it will have no bad side effects. And the opponents are right not to make predictions.

Steve Chapman is a member of the Tribune's editorial board and blogs at

Anti-gay group to fight marriage efforts in D.C.

There on the move

Anti-gay group to fight marriage efforts in D.C.

National Organization for Marriage relocates to city, seeks to block DOMA repeal
By LOU CHIBBARO JR, Washington Blade | Aug 19 2009, 5:09 PM [Bookmark and Share]

In a little noticed development, a national organization credited with playing a lead role in persuading California voters to ban same-sex marriage through Proposition 8 moved its headquarters last month to Washington, D.C.

The National Organization for Marriage plans to use its projected 2009 budget of $6 million to, among other things, help ban same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia and prevent President Barack Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress from repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, according to Brian Brown, the group’s executive director.

“The fight over Proposition 8, as far as the ballot initiative, is over. We won,” Brown told the Blade in a telephone interview. “So right now I think both sides agree that the real focus is on what’s happening in the Northeast.”

Brown said that in addition to focusing on D.C. and Congress, his group is working to overturn through a ballot measure a same-sex marriage law in Maine and head off pending same-sex marriage bills in New York and New Jersey.

He said NOM also is closely monitoring developments in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, where same-sex marriage has been legalized, to “document” the harm his organization is certain will occur to families, the institution of marriage and society in general as a result of the legal recognition same-sex marriage.

A recurring theme in the group’s literature and public statements is that legalizing same-sex marriage will forever change the definition of marriage, causing profound societal consequences, many of which the group says won’t become apparent until it’s too late to reverse them.

“Once you put same-sex marriage into the law, what you’re putting into the law is that there is no difference between two men and two women and a man and a woman, in terms of marriage, and anyone who says otherwise is a functional equivalent to a bigot or a racist,” he said.

Same-sex marriage advocates take strong exception to Brown’s assertions and those of NOM founder, conservative activist Maggie Gallagher.

Groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry argue that no valid research data or scientific studies can be found to back up NOM’s claims that same-sex marriage has or will in the future harm families or the institution of marriage.

But Brown said that a solid majority of voters in every state or jurisdiction in which same-sex marriage has been placed on the ballot has voted down same-sex marriage — or similar legal rights for same-sex couples granted through domestic partnership benefits.

“Whenever we’ve been able to have a direct vote on the issue, we’ve won — in 30 out of 30 states,” Brown said.

He said his organization is poised to help local ministers fight plans by the D.C. City Council to pass legislation this fall that would allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the District.

He said NOM also will join local opponents of same-sex marriage to seek to overturn the law passed by the Council in May, and later cleared by Congress, that allows the city to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

Brown said NOM would “definitely” contribute funds to pay for a court challenge of D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics and D.C. Superior Court rulings that stopped a ballot measure on the issue from taking place.

Both the election board and a Superior Court judge ruled in June that a referendum calling for overturning the same-sex marriage recognition law could not be held because, if approved, it would violate the city’s Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“The people of D.C. deserve the right to vote on this issue,” he said. “It really sort of boggles the mind that one of the key issues in the District is the idea of voting rights. There’s a lot of support for voting rights, especially coming from some of those who support same-sex marriage.

“And while there’s a push for voting rights and the idea that D.C. would have a right to vote in Congress, it’s a little incongruous that there’s this attempt to block the right of D.C. voters to have their say on an issue of this much import — the very definition of marriage.”

Michael Crawford, president of the marriage equality group D.C. for Marriage, said Brown and other opponents of same-sex marriage misrepresent the city’s efforts to win voting rights for the city in Congress by linking it to a marriage referendum.

He said the marriage recognition law approved by the City Council occurred through the democratic process of a local representative government, the Council, which was elected by the people.

“So really, what this is, is an attempt to go around our elected officials to attack gay and lesbian families,” Crawford said.

NOM created a stir this spring when it launched a series of TV ads aimed at states where same-sex marriage laws were pending before state legislatures or where the issue was expected to come before voters in a ballot measure.

One of the ads, which became known as the group’s “Gathering Storm” TV spot, was denounced by gay rights and civil liberties groups as a blatant attempt to use scare tactics and factual distortions to build opposition to same-sex marriage. The ad used actors to portray citizens who expressed alarm that same-sex marriage laws would force elementary schools to promote same-sex marriage among their children and would force religious organizations to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in buildings they own.

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement pointing out what it said were inaccuracies in each of the ads’ assertions about alleged harmful effects of same-sex marriage. And New York Times columnist Frank Rich joined other critics of the ad in pointing out that its dramatic backdrop of storm clouds and sinister lighting resembled the 1960s-era horror film “The Village of the Damned.”

Brown called criticism of the ad unfounded, saying all of its “factual assertions” can be substantiated. He said polling data shows that a majority of voters agree with the basic contention of that and other NOM media ads — that same-sex marriage is a serious threat to the traditional family and the institution of marriage.

He said NOM would assess whether ads like the “Gathering Storm” spot would be used for a possible voter initiative in D.C. next year on same-sex marriage, an initiative that NOM is working to place on the ballot along with Bishop Harry Jackson, the Maryland pastor who has surfaced as the lead opponent of same-sex marriage in the District.

NOM’s critics, meanwhile, have complained that the group has yet to release information about its finances. Fred Karger, founder of the West Coast group, Californians Against Hate, sent a letter to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Elections Practices, which monitors election campaigns, alleging that NOM might be “laundering” money from anonymous Mormon donors to the referendum campaign seeking to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law.

Brown called the accusation “ridiculous.”

“We welcome contributions from all religious donors, including Mormons,” he said.

He said NOM won’t release the names of individual donors because doing so would subject them to “intimidation” from same-sex marriage advocates, whom he said attempted to badger and intimidate people who contributed money for Proposition 8.

Brown promised to release to the Blade NOM’s 2007 IRS 990 finance reporting form and said the group would also release its 2008 990 form as soon as it completes its processing. He said the group submitted the 2008 report to the IRS last Friday.

The 2007 report was not available from the national non-profit monitoring group Guidestar, which publishes all 990 forms it obtains from the IRS.

A Guidestar spokesperson said the IRS did not provide it with the 2007 report from NOM.

Civil Rights Commission endorses legalization of same-sex marriage

Civil Rights Commission endorses legalization of same-sex marriage

DES MOINES - A state civil rights panel is preparing to endorse a court decision legalizing gay marriage, but says other issues remain unresolved and Iowans need to re-dedicate efforts to end discrimination for all Iowans.

The six-member Iowa Civil Rights Commission will meet Thursday to consider a proposed updated policy position on marriage equality that supports the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruling and opposes efforts to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the April decision, executive director Ralph Rosenberg said.

He said the panel was previously on record in opposition to a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman. While supporting equal rights for all persons and couples, the commission recognized a religious exemption in regard to same-sex marriage.

The state civil rights panel last addressed marriage equality in a December 2008 resolution that encouraged all local human rights commissions to foster nonbiased discussions on the subject.

"This would be their new position in light of the Iowa Supreme Court case, if it passes," Rosenberg said. "I think it will pass. I think there are at least four votes."

Several commissioners have been outspoken in their support on the issues of marriage equality and extending civil rights to the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender community, he said, and view the proposed constitutional amendment as an effort to write discrimination into Iowa's constitution.

Rosenberg said the commission considers the marriage equality issue as "settled law" in light of the Supreme Court ruling and believes the focus should shift to unresolved civil rights issues such making sure buildings in Iowa comply with federal ADA guidelines and ending discrimination in housing and employment based on race, national origin, sexual orientation or other factors.

The commission has initiated an online survey regarding discrimination in housing and scheduled fair housing forums in Marshalltown, Storm Lake, Perry and Urbandale to discuss the issue in areas with diverse demographics or growing suburban populations.

Results of the commission's findings should be published in September, he added.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

January trial set for U.S. court challenge to California's gay-marriage ban - San Jose Mercury News

January trial set for U.S. court challenge to California's gay-marriage ban - San Jose Mercury News

By Howard Mintz
Posted: 08/19/2009 12:28:56 PM PDT
Updated: 08/19/2009 12:56:58 PM PDT

A federal judge today set a Jan. 11 trial date for the legal challenge to Proposition 8, setting the stage for the most exhaustive legal review of a state's ban on gay marriage in any court in the nation.

During a hearing in San Francisco, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ordered lawyers on both sides of the case to gear up quickly for the trial, which foes of California's same-sex marriage ban hope will be the first step in getting the legal fight over gay marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Backed by former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson and prominent lawyer David Boies, two same-sex couples sued in federal court this past spring to overturn Proposition 8, approved by voters in fall 2008 to restore California's ban on gay marriage. The lawsuit maintains Proposition 8 violates the federal constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples by denying them the equal right to marry, and marks what is likely to be the first crucial legal test in the federal courts over the issue.

The California Supreme Court this past spring upheld Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage, but the justices left intact an estimated 18,000 gay marriages that took place last year before voters approved the measure by 52 to 48 percent. Those weddings took place after the state Supreme Court struck down the state's previous laws banning same-sex marriage.

In today's hearing, Walker refused to allow a coalition of gay rights groups to directly join the lawsuit, concluding that the current plaintiffs can adequately mount a challenge to Proposition 8 on their own.

The plaintiffs had urged Walker to deny the groups' request, still miffed that those organizations originally opposed taking the legal fight over gay marriage into the federal courts at this point. The groups include the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which have led the legal fight over gay marriage in state courts around the country, but worry about how the conservative U.S. Supreme Court might rule on the issue.

Walker also rejected a bid by the conservative Campaign for California Families to join the case to defend Proposition 8, finding that Proposition 8 supporters can defend the law alone. California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has argued the law is unconstitutional, is not defending the law, nor is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has taken no position.

Walker took a swipe at Schwarzenegger's position at the conclusion of today's hearing, saying, "I must say I'm surprised at the governor's position in this case. "... This is a matter of some importance to the people of the state."

The governor's lawyer declined to comment on the judge's remarks after the hearing.

The judge did permit the city of San Francisco, which has led the legal fight over California's marriage laws, to join the case, and indicated the other groups can present their legal arguments through friend-of-the court briefs.

The January trial is likely to be the first step in a long process before the Proposition 8 challenge can reach the Supreme Court. Even after Walker decides the case, it is certain to be appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals some time next year, and that court could take months or longer to rule

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

US Justice Department hires liaison to gay community

now this is progress

US Justice Department hires liaison to gay community

US Justice Department hires liaison to gay community
By Bob Ewing.

Matt Nosanchuk has been named the US Justice Department's official liaison to the gay community

Matt Nosanchuk, a former adviser to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), has been hired as a senior counselor to the assistant attorney general for civil rights.
OnTop magazine reports Tobias Wolff, a University of Pennsylvania professor, announced the hire in an email. Wolff headed Obama's LGBT Steering and Policy Committee during the campaign.
Matt Nosanchuk would join the department as a senior counselor to acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Loretta King.
Nosanchuk was a top official in Obama's LGBT Steering and Policy Committee and an Obama supporter.
Nosanchuk is a former adviser to Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida.
Wolff said Nosanchuk “will be the front office point person on LGBT issues for the DOJ Civil Rights division” among other duties.
Mainjustice adds a Department of Justice spokesperson Alejandro Miyar issued the following statement on Nosanchuk:
“Matt Nosanchuk joined the Civil Rights Division earlier this summer as a Senior Counselor. He brings extensive experience as a civil rights attorney from his time in Congress, as well as work in the non-profit and private sectors. Among his primary duties, Matt will help manage the Division’s Criminal Section and pursue key policy priorities. He will represent the Division in many capacities, including work with Congress and the LGBT community. He returns to the Justice Department after having been a career attorney in the Office of Policy Development during the Clinton Administration.”

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama admin softens tone in gay-marriage suit - Josh Gerstein -

Progress???? you decide

Obama admin softens tone in gay-marriage suit - Josh Gerstein -

Following a furious outcry from the gay community, the Obama Administration is toning down its defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In a brief filed Monday morning in a lawsuit challenging the validitity of DOMA, the Justice Department put on the record that the administration favors repeal of the statute — a position that was omitted from a controversial legal filing the department made in June. DOJ also explicitly rejected arguments put forward by conservative groups that the importance of marriage for child rearing is a legitimate justification for DOMA's ban on federal recognition of same-sex unions.

"This Administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal," the new brief from Justice Department lawyer Scott Simpson said. The brief then goes on to explain why DOJ is vigorously defending the measure it opposes.

"Consistent with the rule of law, however, the Department of Justice has long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the Department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here," Simpson wrote. "This longstanding and bipartisan tradition accords the respect appropriately due to a coequal branch of government and ensures that subsequent administrations will faithfully defend laws with which they may disagree on policy grounds," he added in a footnote.

On the child-rearing issue, Simpson wrote:

The government does not contend that there are legitimate government interests in "creating a legal structure that promotes the raising of children by both of their biological parents" or that the government's interest in "responsible procreation" justifies Congress's decision to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. ... Since DOMA was enacted, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Medical Association, and the Child Welfare League of America have issued policies opposing restrictions on lesbian and gay parenting because they concluded, based on numerous studies, that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents. ... The United States does not believe that DOMA is rationally related to any legitimate government interests in procreation and child-rearing and is therefore not relying upon any such interests to defend DOMA's constitutionality

Gay and lesbian activists and many liberals were deeply troubled by a brief the government filed in June which sought to defend DOMA by invoking cases barring uncle-niece marriage, first-cousin marriage, and underage marriage. Many in the gay community said the Obama administration was reinforcing suggestions by social conservatives that allowing gay marriage could lead to legalizing incest or pedophilia.

After the controversy erupted, one senior White House official, Lisa Brown, publicly expressed her view that the earlier brief contained arguments it should not have. However, the Justice Department never withdrew or modified the earlier brief.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gay marriage proponents to delay anti-Prop. 8 ballot measure till 2012 [Updated] | L.A. Now | Los Angeles Times

Gay marriage proponents to delay anti-Prop. 8 ballot measure till 2012 [Updated] | L.A. Now | Los Angeles Times

Leaders of Equality California, one of the state’s largest gay rights groups, announced today it will wait until 2012 to push for an amendment to the California Constitution to permit same-sex marriage.

Many gay rights groups have favored returning the issue to voters as soon as 2010. Leaders at Equality California, which spearheaded the campaign against Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage, have said they want to make sure they can win.

They have said they worry about raising the millions of dollars necessary in the current tough economic climate and also that it will take longer than two years to convince enough voters.

Officials at Equality California said they made the decision to wait until 2012 based on discussions with donors and community organizers. The extra time, backers said, will allow for more fundraising and outreach.

Proposition 8 passed by 52% in November after the most expensive campaign in California history over a social issue.

[Updated at 12:05 p.m.: There has been much debate among same-sex marriage backers about when to place a measure on the ballot. There is another group that is considering placing such a measure on the 2010 ballot.

The Prop. 8 victory caused much soul searching among backers of same-sex unions. Some critics said the No-on-8 campaign did not do a good enough job reaching out to Latino and black voters.

The California Supreme Court earlier this year validated the legality of Prop. 8. But challenges to the ballot measure continue in the federal courts.

One high-profile federal lawsuit against Prop. 8 has exposed new strains and divisions within the same-sex marriage movement, as civil rights lawyers who initially condemned the suit now want on board -- and are being rebuffed.

The lawsuit against the anti-same-sex-marriage initiative, launched by Los Angeles political consultant Chad H. Griffin and backed by entertainment industry activists, drew scorn and anger from gay rights lawyers when it was filed in May.

The major gay rights groups called the challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban risky and rash, and warned that an adverse ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court could set the movement back decades.

Now that a trial is nearing, the lawyers who denounced the suit want to join as full participants, asking for seats at the table and the ability to shape legal strategy. But the consultant who defied their advice has vowed to "vigorously oppose" their intervention.]

$6 million budget shortfall forces Focus on the Family to drop Ex-Gay program - Lez Get Real

I am so sad to hear this!!!! you get back what you dish out!

$6 million budget shortfall forces Focus on the Family to drop Ex-Gay program - Lez Get Real

Citing a “serious budget shortfall” the conservative Christian group, Focus on the Family has been prompted to issue a special fundraising plea, and has also decided to hand over control of its contentious “Love Won Out” Ex-Gay program to another religious organization, a FotF spokesman said Tuesday.

Focus on the Family is looking at a $6 million short fall in its $138 million budget for this fiscal year- a budget larger than all national and regional gay-equality organizations combined.

Focus on the Family, was founded by James Dobson with funding from Edgar D. Prince, the father the Blackwater Worldwide president Erik Prince, in 1977. But last winter, Dobson officially announced he was stepping down as chairman of the Board of Directors, but would continue to serve as host of the Focus on the Family broadcasts and write a monthly column.

The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, which Erick Prince serves as vice president, is also a major donor to FotF, but recent legal troubles for Prince and his mercenary company, both here and overseas, have some speculating that source of funding may be drying up.

Last fall, budget problems caused by big spending during the Proportion 8 fight in California, prompted Focus on the Family to eliminate more than 200 positions.

In total, Focus on the Family spent $727,250 on the campaign to ban gay marriage in California last November.

Jim Daly, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs, Colo. based organiation said in a letter to approximately 800,000 donors, “Right now we’re facing a serious budget shortfall that threatens our ability to reach out to parents, families and married couples who count on our help. Income is down nearly $6 million from what we expected and planned for this year. I want to assure you that we’re committed to good stewardship AND living within our means, just as so many families are today.”

Focus on the Family also announced yesterday it would no longer hold its “Love Won Out” conferences across the country that promised to “help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually,” and they will now be presented by the Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus International, whose message is “Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.” The last Love Won Out conference run by Focus on the Family will be held in Birmingham, Ala., in November.

Gay rights groups have long criticized such initiatives as harmful. The American Psychological Association last week said mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.

HRC Statement on National Equality March in Washington « HRC Back Story

HRC Statement on National Equality March in Washington « HRC Back Story

WASHINGTON – On October 11, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists and allies will meet by the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. The first national gathering of LGBT volunteers, community members, and supporters since the 2008 elections and the passage of Proposition 8, this event provides a powerful opportunity to harness the energy—both excitement and anger—that this historic year has sparked.

“The Human Rights Campaign considers October 11 in Washington DC to be a starting point—not a destination,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Those who join us in the nation’s capital have more work ahead of them after the crowds clear. They need to become citizen lobbyists, ready and able to tell their Senators and members of Congress what this community needs to see: an ENDA that protects every single one of us. Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Repeal of DOMA. Protections for our families.”

HRC will train march participants to initiate and carry out successful in-district lobby visits—whether they come to DC in person, or take their activism on line. Similar to the successful “No Excuses” campaign, HRC’s work with the October 11 event will focus on mobilizing face-to-face meetings between community members and their lawmakers.

“With thousands of LGBT people and allies coming to Washington to make a difference, it’s our mission to help them become the citizen lobbyists that they want and need to be,” said Solmonese. “Cleve Jones’s vision of bringing us together at this important time is an extraordinary opportunity to capitalize on the energy and commitment of our community and achieve results.

“I’ve heard criticism about this gathering diverting resources from existing goals such as marriage equality in Maine and New Jersey,” added Solmonese. “It’s our intention and our obligation to ensure that in October, we amplify our energy not divert it. Will and commitment are unlimited resources. We intend to ensure that when the event in Washington is over, many more of us will know not only the work that lies ahead, but how to turn that energy into action.”

Monday, August 10, 2009 | Tim Hortons pulls support for anti-gay marriage event

This is proof we have power. Let this be a lesson for the future !!! | Tim Hortons pulls support for anti-gay marriage event

Josh Visser, News Staff

Canadian icon Tim Hortons found itself under fire Monday after a Rhode Island franchise initially sponsored an event for a U.S. anti-gay marriage group.

Tim Hortons was listed as a sponsor for the Aug. 16 event in Warwick, R.I., for the National Organization for Marriage, which is one of the largest anti-gay marriage lobby groups in the U.S.

There was an immediate backlash online from the gay and lesbian community, with more than 1,600 people signing up for a petition at asking Tim Hortons to withdraw its support for the event.

By Monday afternoon, the company announced that the Rhode Island franchise would not be sponsoring the event because it would be against its corporate policy to support religious or political groups.

"It has come to our attention that the Rhode Island event organizer and purpose of the event fall outside of our sponsorship guidelines. As such, Tim Hortons can not provide support at the event," the company said on its website. "We apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience this may have caused.

"As a company, our primary focus is on helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities. For this reason, Tim Hortons has not sponsored those representing religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups."

According to the company, more than 95 per cent of its stores are independently owned, and the "final decision to make a donation is at the discretion of the store owner," says the company's website.

Michael Jones, the blogger at Change.Org who started the online petition and communications director for the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, commended the company for its quick response.

"This shows that when a company is called in question to their support of (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgendered) rights, it's in their best interest to listen," Jones told Monday afternoon. "Kudos to the company for responding so quickly."

Jones said the incident could have damaged the company's reputation in the LBGT community, but the coffee chain's response should lessen the impact.

"The fact that the company responded in 15 hours . . . that shows really good faith," he said. "I still think its unfortunate that an individual franchise in Rhode Island decided to sponsor an anti-gay event but in the end, that's the franchise's own issue and they have been told by the company not to sponsor it.

"I think Tim Hortons as a corporate headquarters has acted as far they can here."

However, some in the Canadian gay and lesbian community, say the company hasn't gone quite far enough.

Curtis Norman of Toronto noted the irony of a company that promotes itself as distinctly Canadian, sponsoring an anti-gay marriage event, considering same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005.

"Tim Hortons is one the most Canadian companies out there . . . and in Canada, gay marriage is accepted," he told "Corporations who are representing Canada and Canadian values, I think they have to be in line with those values."

Norman said that he was happy with Tim Hortons rescinding its sponsorship, but also in the age of Twitter and Facebook, companies need to respond faster to issues with consumers.

"In this age of social media, a lot of companies have been able to act quicker," he added.

Tim Hortons has 36 stores in Rhode Island, according to the company's website.

The NOM event, "Celebrate Marriage and Family Day" is set to go on Sunday. Chris Plante, the executive director of the group's Rhode Island chapter, told The Canadian Press Tim Hortons was going to provide coffee for about 250 people.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Couples criticize church role in gay unions |


Couples criticize church role in gay unions | "Couples criticize church role in gay unions
They say diocese should not be involved in political fight

August 09, 2009 6:00 AM

Two lifelong Catholic couples who are parishioners at St. Raphael's Church in Kittery, Maine, are saying they find legal, moral and ethical problems with efforts of the Portland diocese to repeal the state's same-sex marriage law. Yet they say when they have brought their concerns to the church's hierarchy, they have been ignored.

Jack and Rose Dougherty and Armand and Ann LaSelva, all of Eliot, say they are not involved in the efforts of gay marriage proponents such as Equality Maine, but are merely Catholics who are deeply concerned about the overt political tone taken by their church in recent months.

Their issues range from what they say are essentially dictates from the pulpit, to the fact that diocesan staff are on loan to pro-repeal organization Stand for Marriage of Maine, to legally questionable contributions to Stand for Marriage by the diocese.

And, they say, these efforts are testing their resolve to remain church-going Catholics.

At issue is efforts by Stand for Marriage to repeal a law passed by the Legislature last spring extending civil marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples in Maine. Under the state's Constitution, citizens can mount a 'citizen's veto' of a law, as long as they gather signatures equal to 10 percent of those who voted in the previous gubernatorial election.

That means more than 55,000 signatures had to be gathered to place repeal of the law before voters this November. Stand for Marriage recently submitted 100,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office for verification.

Shortly after passage of the law, the diocese began what the couples say was an 'overtly political' campaign to convince parishioners at churches statewide to sign the repeal petition. For six weeks, included in the church bulletin was an insert from the Maine Marriage Initiative (a group under the Stand for Marriage umbrella organization).

The insert stated it was intended 'to inform parishioners about the issues surrounding same-sex marriage and why the Diocese of Portland is opposed to this idea.' Each detailed court cases, claims by proponents the diocese felt were unsubstantiated and potential loss of religious freedom.

Each of those six weeks, said the couples, the priest was to make reference to the insert and the petition, and at the end of the Mass parishioners stood at the back of the church, petitions in hand.

'I resent getting a bulletin and in it, it takes a stance against gay marriage. That's not the church's place. Then you walk out of the church and you have the Knights of Columbus standing there getting people to sign the petition,' said Armand LaSelva.

'It was so disingenuous,' said Ann.

The LaSelvas are both retired educators, Armand having had 'the distinct honor' of being called a 'fag enabler' by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, whose members regularly travel the country to protest gays and lesbians.

LaSelva was superintendent of the Dover School Department in 2001 when he overrode the Dover High principal and allowed to stand the vote of graduating seniors to name a lesbian couple as class sweethearts.

'As far as I'm concerned, if we're citizens, we all have equal rights. If you want to be her girlfriend or take her for your lawfully wedded spouse, be my guest.'

Jack Dougherty, a retired engineer, said the actions of the church during those six weeks violated what he believes to be a key underpinning of American jurisprudence, the separation of church and state.

He wrote Bishop Richard Malone in June, saying, 'I believe you are absolutely wrong in trying to impose ultra conservative, Roman Catholic Church views on the civil law of the state of Maine with regard to same-sex marriage.'

He said he never heard back from Malone, 'nor did I expect to.'

Another concern expressed by the couples was the donation, widely publicized, of $100,000 by the diocese to Stand for Marriage.

'They don't have any business doing that. That's money taken under one pretense and used for another, and it's political,' said Jack.

Marc Mutty, the spokesperson for the diocese on loan to Stand for Marriage as one of its top strategists, said no money taken from the regular collection plate has gone to the repeal efforts. Some churches did hold separate collections, but those were announced as such and people could opt not to contribute, he said.

He said as a nonprofit entity, the church is required to accept limits on how much money can be spent and lobbying can be performed, 'and we are well within those limits.' He did say, however, that the church had to create a political action committee to 'meet the letter of the law.'

As for the separation of church and state, he said that concept 'was created to keep the state's nose out of the church, not the other way around. It means the state is not to interfere with the course of business of a religious organization.'

He said he knows there are Catholics who don't see eye to eye with the church on this, but said the diocese is coming from a position of 'fundamental Catholic doctrine.'

'They misunderstand the church's teachings about marriage. It's inconsistent to say that same-sex marriage is equal to heterosexual marriage and say you're upholding Catholic doctrine,' he said. 'This is not about disrespecting people in any way. This is about marriage.'

The Doughertys and LaSelvas said they understand their church's stand about marriage. All in their 70s, they've been practicing Catholics for a long, long time. If the church chooses not to marry gay people, that's its right, they said. But to get in the thick of the political fray over a civil marriage law is wrong.

'Yes, it tests my faith,' said Ann. 'When I see what they're doing, it's hurtful to call it my church.'

'I think God loves us all and we shouldn't be judging,' said Rose.

'I think God loves us all, but not the Catholic Church,' said Ann."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Associated Press: Gay marriage lawyers say no to help from S.F.

The Associated Press: Gay marriage lawyers say no to help from S.F.

By PAUL ELIAS (AP) – 7 hours ago

SAN FRANCISCO — The prominent lawyers leading the fight to legalize gay marriage in California on Friday formally told San Francisco officials and three other groups supportive of same-sex weddings "thanks, but no thanks" for trying to join their federal lawsuit.

Attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson petitioned U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker with legal arguments meant to block the city and the groups from standing together with the lawyers at trial. San Francisco put gay marriage front and center on Valentine's Day 2004 when Mayor Gavin Newsom opened City Hall to same-sex weddings.

Boies and Olson argued that allowing San Francisco into the legal fight would needlessly delay the case's resolution.

A spokesman for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera didn't return a telephone call late Friday night.

Boies and Olson also asked that three other gay-rights groups should be barred from joining the case on similar grounds. They also argued that the conservative Campaign for California Families be prevented from joining the case in opposition, saying the group also doesn't have standing in the case.

"Campaign has failed to offer any argument that differs from those raised by" the parties already officially fighting the lawsuit, Boies and Olson wrote. The lawyers said all of the organization's concerns are being addressed by lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund, which the judge has allowed to intervene to argue against the lawsuit.

Boies and Olson, who represented Al Gore and George W. Bush respectively in the legal fight over the 2000 presidential elections, filed the lawsuit on behalf of two gay couples seeking to marry in California. They argued that they are now in the best position to legalize gay marriage in the state with arguments that the ban violates federal anti-discrimination protections.

The court filing highlighted the continuing disagreement among gay marriage supporters over how best to fight for same-sex weddings in the state.

Many influential gay rights groups fear a fight in federal court will ultimately end up before a U.S. Supreme Court comprised of a socially conservative majority that could deal the same-sex marriage campaign a significant setback with an adverse ruling.

Critics of that tack complain about the failure of the same-sex marriage campaign to defeat Proposition 8, which passed in November with 52 percent of the vote and limited marriage to a man and a woman. Boies, Olson and many others now contend the fight is ripe for a federal anti-discrimination challenge and at least three other federal challenges have been filed in Los Angeles and Boston.

On Friday, Boies and Olson argued that the case should proceed to trial before a judge without a jury before the end of the year. Lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund argued in court papers Friday that the case could be decided rapidly without a trial.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Guns, Gays, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause

Print Version > Guns, Gays, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause

Last week, the Senate narrowly defeated a proposed amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill, under which people who had licenses to carry concealed weapons issued by their home state would be allowed to carry such weapons everywhere in the US, including those states with stricter licensing criteria or outright bans.

The main argument against the amendment was that states should be allowed to establish their own policy on who, if anybody, can carry concealed weapons. Giving nationwide effect to any particular state’s licenses would therefore invade the right of each state to decide what is necessary to preserve public order in its own jurisdiction.

I was struck by the fact that during the debate nobody invoked the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution (found in Article IV, Section 1), which provides that “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.” No senator chose to make the argument that the proposed amendment was unnecessary because the FFCC already requires states to honor concealed weapons licenses issued by other states.

This question occurred to me because in 1996 a frenzy over the Full Faith issue regarding the recognition of same-sex marriages led Congress to rush through, by huge margins, the federal Defense of Marriage Act. At the time, it was argued, Congress needed to pass what became Section 2 of DOMA because Hawaii was on the verge of allowing same-sex couples to marry. Because Hawaii had no residency requirement for marriage, same-sex couples from all over the country could flock to Hawaii, marry, and then demand that their home states recognize their marriage under the FFCC, DOMA’s proponents warned. Its enactment was necessary, they said, to preserve the right of individual states to resist marriage equality from invading their jurisdictions.

In the case of both guns and marriage, we are talking about a license issued by the state after a state clerical employee determines that the specified requirements are met. After a license is issued, a copy of it is on file in some government office — or more likely today, retained as an electronic record in a state database. The statutes and regulations governing license requirements probably meet the definition of “public acts,” and the filed licenses are undoubtedly “public records.” But in neither case — the issuance of a concealed weapon license or the issuance of a marriage license — is a judge involved, so my bet is that neither qualifies as a “judicial Proceeding.” Even when a judge officiates at a civil wedding ceremony, that is not a formal court proceeding.

Given the similarities of these two licensing procedures, I think it is fair to conclude that the recent gun debate illuminates the ignorance rampant during the ’96 DOMA hysteria.

My own research led me to write, in a law review article more than a decade ago, that the FFCC does not compel marriage recognition by the states, because a marriage itself is not a public Act, a public record, or a judicial Proceeding. The case law on marriage recognition suggests that one state recognizing the marriages of another is a matter of comity — courtesy or mutual civility between them, in popular parlance — not of compulsion under the FFCC. States have always been free to refuse to recognize marriages that could not have been performed in their own jurisdiction if they concluded that according recognition would be inconsistent with their own public policies, as articulated in statutes, regulations, and state judicial opinions.

Those who argued that Section 2 of DOMA, which provides that states are not required to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, was necessary to protect states from being compelled to recognize such marriages were just plain wrong. In its FFCC jurisprudence, the Supreme Court has never ruled that states are required to recognize marriages from other states.

States are required to recognize divorces and adoptions from other states, mind you, because in those instances there is a “judicial Proceeding” — a divorce or an adoption results from a court order based on a judgment exercised by a duly authorized judicial officer, so the FFCC literally applies. This has been dramatically confirmed recently by state appellate decisions in Florida and Louisiana holding that adoptions by same-sex couples judicially approved in other jurisdictions would be recognized pursuant to the FFCC, regardless of the fact that neither Florida, which bans all adoptions by gay people, nor Louisiana allows same-sex couples to adopt children within their states.

And that, by analogy, explains why in the absence of the proposed gun amendment, states are free to ignore or refuse to recognize permits to carry concealed weapons issued by other states. A permit or license does not come within the FFCC. The permit or license is not a “public Act,” a “public record,” or a “judicial Proceeding” as those terms are used in the FFCC. My license to practice law in New York does not entitle me to practice law in New Jersey by virtue of the FFCC. The same is true of medical licenses, and other licenses to engage in various professions regulated by the states, including teaching. I don't think anybody has ever successfully argued that the public schools of other states are required to honor licenses issued by the New York State Education Department.

The lesson to be learned from the gun debate, however, is not only important for DOMA’s proponents to understand — it is also relevant for advocates seeking to undo it. In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter this week, New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler made clear that legislation he intends to introduce shortly would repeal not only Section 3 of DOMA — which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages — but also Section 2. Should the federal government choose to recognize valid same-sex marriages, they would likely extend the corresponding federal rights and benefits regardless of whether a married couple’s marriage is recognized by their home state — and it appears as though Nadler intends to make this policy explicit through what he termed a “certainty provision.”

Repealing Section 2, however, would still not have the effect, in my view, of compelling any state to recognize same-sex marriages from another jurisdiction; arguments about the FFCC would not affect the rights of states to decide which marriages to accord their recognition to. It might, however, remove a psychological barrier, empowering judges to analyze the issue using comity principles rather than just reflexively refusing recognition by citing DOMA.

Interestingly, the lawsuit recently filed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts challenging the constitutionality of DOMA’s bar on federal recognition of same-sex marriage relies on the view that the federal government has no say constitutionally in what kinds of marriages a state can or must recognize. DOMA’s requirement that the US government not recognize gay marriages from that state infringes on Massachusetts’ rights, guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment, to define marriage as it sees fit, the Commonwealth’s attorney general has argued.

Arthur S. Leonard, Gay City News' legal correspondent, is professor of law at New York Law School, founder and editor of Lesbian/Gay Law Notes, a publication of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York, and author of "Sexuality and the Law: An Encyclopedia of Major Legal Cases."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Psychologists Reject Gay ‘Therapy’ -

Psychologists Reject Gay ‘Therapy’ -

Psychologists Reject Gay ‘Therapy’

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: August 5, 2009

The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.

In a resolution adopted by the association’s governing council, and in an accompanying report, the association issued its most comprehensive repudiation of so-called reparative therapy, a concept espoused by a small but persistent group of therapists, often allied with religious conservatives, who maintain that gay men and lesbians can change.

No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the resolution, adopted by a 125-to-4 vote. The association said some research suggested that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.

Instead of seeking such change, the association urged therapists to consider multiple options, which could include celibacy and switching churches, for helping clients live spiritually rewarding lives in instances where their sexual orientation and religious faith conflict.

The association has criticized reparative therapy in the past, but a six-member panel added weight to that position by examining 83 studies on sexual orientation change conducted since 1960. Its report was endorsed by the association’s governing council in Toronto, where the association’s annual meeting is being held this weekend.

The report breaks ground in its detailed and nuanced assessment of how therapists should deal with gay clients struggling to remain loyal to a religious faith that disapproves of homosexuality.

Judith Glassgold, a psychologist in Highland Park, N.J., who led the panel, said she hoped the document could help calm the polarized debate between religious conservatives who believe in the possibility of changing sexual orientation and the many mental health professionals who reject that option.

“Both sides have to educate themselves better," Ms. Glassgold said. “The religious psychotherapists have to open up their eyes to the potential positive aspects of being gay or lesbian. Secular therapists have to recognize that some people will choose their faith over their sexuality.”

One of the largest organizations promoting the possibility of changing sexual orientation is Exodus International, a network of ministries whose core message is “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.”

Its president, Alan Chambers, describes himself as someone who “overcame unwanted same-sex attraction.” Mr. Chambers and other evangelicals met with association representatives after the panel was formed in 2007, and he expressed satisfaction with parts of the report that emerged.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New York Gay Marriage Wedding Chapel Opens | On Top Magazine :: Gay & Lesbian News, Entertainment, Commentary & Travel

New York Gay Marriage Wedding Chapel Opens | On Top Magazine :: Gay & Lesbian News, Entertainment, Commentary & Travel

Two men are protesting New York's ban on gay marriage by creating a gay wedding chapel, the AFP reported.

Gay and lesbian couples in Manhattan are being married at the tiny chapel by a Universal Life Church reverend. Kevin Fey, who owns the revolving space with Joseph Peter, acquired the title on the Internet. The pair charge between $100 and $500 per couple.

Omar Portacio and John, his boyfriend of about a year, married at the chapel in under 10 minutes last Saturday.

“Being married means a lot, it shows our love for each other, it shows we are accepted and recognized as a couple, it is not just somebody we are living with.” Portacio said.

Many of the couples getting hitched at the chapel have legally married outside of the state but wanted to have a ceremony at home with family and friends. Others are getting fake married to protest the state's ban on gay marriage.

A bill that would legalize gay marriage in the state sits tight in the Senate, even after a dramatic leadership coup promised to resolve the issue.

New York Senator Tom Duane, who is openly gay, reiterated that he believes the bill will pass in the fall.

“New Yorkers support same-sex marriage in large part because they believe that denying gay couples the right to marry is legally and morally wrong,” he told the news service, then added, “I am confident that marriage equality will pass this year and that this legislation will pass with bipartisan support in the Senate.”

Meanwhile, the tiny Lower East Side chapel will continue marrying gay and lesbian couples for the next four months.