Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crowd Heckles Ford Jr. On Gay Marriage Stance -

Crowd Heckles Ford Jr. On Gay Marriage Stance -

Possible U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Junior received an icy welcome Wednesday from a leading gay Democratic club over what he called misguided votes on same sex marriage. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Harold Ford Junior got a verbally mixed reception Wednesday night in the West Village.

While speaking to the Stonewall Democratic Club, some audience members held up signs that read "Liar." Others interrupted him on several occasions chanting "Anti-Choice, Anti-Gay, Shame on Harry, Go Away!"

At issue is Ford's voting record as a Tennessee congressman, where he twice supported an amendment to the constitution that would bar same sex marriage.

Eyeing office in New York now, he said he was wrong. To many, the gesture oozed insincere politics -- and they let him know it.

"I voted twice in favor of it and I was wrong. I now recognize the wrongness of my ways," said Ford Junior.

"Here's somebody who took very anti-gay positions, and took very Republican positions and joined with the Bush White House in trying to make us political scape goats, and that's why people are so angry, that's why so people are so hostile," said gay rights activist Jeffrey Campagna.

Though Ford denied it Wednesday, activists have accused him of misleading Tennessee voters when the amendments were being debated.

Two gay activists in Memphis said in telephone interviews Wednesday that Ford's office had informed them he was voting against the amendment.

Adding fuel to charges of insincerity is a heavily-circulated ad from his failed 2006 Senate race in Tennessee in which he touts his stance against gay marriage.
Crowd Heckles Ford Jr. On Gay Marriage Stance

While the record isn't entirely clear, Gillibrand insists says she has supported same sex marriage since she entered the House of Representatives to represent a conservative upstate district.

What is clear is that she has been a forceful supporter of gay rights since Governor David Paterson tapped her to fill the Senate seat early last year.

"It's very problematic to vote to enshrine in the Constitution discrimination. And I find that extremely problematic," said Gillibrand.

Ford's remarks Wednesday were the most extensive on the fateful votes and comes as he realizes the strength of the gay vote in a Democratic primary.

During an appearance last month upstate, Ford reiterated his stance saying, "My support for civil unions is longstanding. I support same sex marriage. And if you want to ask me more about it, I'm probably not going to answer the question."

Ford is expected to make a decision this Sunday as to whether or not he intends to seek New York's junior Senate seat.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Maryland AG Releases Opinion In Favor Of Gay Marriage | On Top Magazine :: Gay & Lesbian News, Entertainment, Commentary & Travel

Maryland AG Releases Opinion In Favor Of Gay Marriage | On Top Magazine :: Gay & Lesbian News, Entertainment, Commentary & Travel

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler released a long-awaited opinion on gay marriage Wednesday morning, the Washington Post reported.

Gansler, a Democrat, concluded that Maryland's highest court is likely to decide in favor of recognizing gay marriage performed in other states.

The Court of Appeals “will likely apply the principle that a marriage is valid in the place of celebration is valid in Maryland,” Gansler said in a 45-page opinion.

“The opinion reaches this conclusion in light of the evolving state policy, reflected in anti-discrimination laws, domestic partner laws and other legislation, that respects and supports committed intimate same-sex relationships,” he added.

Proponents of gay marriage are likely to use the opinion, which is only an interpretation, to persuade state agencies and courts to rule in their favor.

Maryland currently bans gay marriage by law. Earlier in the month, a key House committee killed a bill that would have prohibited the state from recognizing legal gay marriages performed in other states.

A gay marriage law in the District of Columbia, which cuts into Maryland's western border, is expected to take effect on March 3.

The Bi-College News Online » Blog Archive » How They Argue Against Gay Marriage

Fighting the arguments of NOM

The Bi-College News Online » Blog Archive » How They Argue Against Gay Marriage

How They Argue Against Gay Marriage
By Alex Lopatin
Staff Writer

It is not entirely unfounded to claim that the past year has been a humiliation for those who had previously been confident about the inevitable forward march of gay rights, particularly same-sex marriage. California’s Proposition 8, widely expected to fail, was inscribed in the state constitution in November 2008. Then came Maine; a legislative victory for gay marriage was followed by a resounding “people’s veto” of the newly signed law. The New York Senate, wary, perhaps, of endorsing a position rejected by the voters of another solidly Democratic state, voted overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage. Finally, a bill to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey failed by a wide margin in the State Senate.

If this recent string of events has chastened and humiliated gay rights advocates, it has brought recognition and prestige to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Claiming as its mission “protect[ing] marriage and the faith communities that sustain it,” NOM has undoubtedly emerged as the leading organization opposing same-sex marriage. This invites the question: to what does NOM owe its rapid and powerful rise?

Many gay rights supporters acknowledge that part of the reason behind NOM’s success may be the organization’s conscious decision to limit its mission to opposing marriage for gay and lesbian people and to avoid the bombastic, far-reaching, and overtly religious rhetoric of such Christian conservatives as James Dobson and the late Jerry Falwell. These same gay-rights supporters are quick to point out that the mere absence of egregiously homophobic material in NOM’s campaigns does not mean that the organization or its core membership is in any way opposed to or removed from the virulent and religiously motivated anti-gay sentiment that characterizes so much of the Christian right. Gay rights leaders are correct on both these counts; unfortunately, they have, by and large, failed to identify, articulate, and expose the system that has enabled NOM to exercise its current degree of influence over ordinary Americans.

This system, or some variant of it, is common to many Christian conservative policy campaigns in this country. It involves, briefly, the use of seemingly secular social and “scientific” arguments to advance a position whose origin is purely religious. Evangelicals opposed to the teaching of evolutionary theory — because it contradicts, in their view, the biblical account of Creation — deploy buzz phrases like “teach the controversy” and seemingly rational “critiques” of evolution that, upon deeper inspection, have no scientific merit.

Christian conservatives opposed to allowing gay and lesbian citizens to serve openly in the armed forces — because of their religious opposition to homosexuality — use the standard refrain of “unit cohesion” to suggest that LGBT service members would effectively dissolve military discipline. This argument is belied by the successful integration of gays into the active militaries of such nations as the United Kingdom and Israel. Similarly, those who oppose gay marriage — because gay relationships, in their religious worldview, are intrinsically sinful — make use of social, historical, and political arguments that, they hope, will be more palatable to the general public than a direct appeal to the Word of God.

NOM is not alone among Christian-dominated groups in using a secular veneer for religious goal. What distinguishes the organization of Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and Robert P. George is the success it has had in crafting pseudo-sociological and deceptive political talking points, and in convincing the general public that this veneer is, in fact, the substantive core of their ideology. To effectively counter NOM, gay rights advocates must relentlessly and publicly refute and expose its trademark arguments.

First among these arguments is the assertion that marriage is, by “definition,” a union of a man and a woman and that this “definition” is older than, and indeed transcends, legal and civil tradition. But to define a concept in a way that prohibits rational inquiry is merely to make a statement of pure faith, immune from both corroboration and refutation. By stating that marriage “transcends” legal understanding, gay marriage opponents are merely attempting to place the institution beyond the realm of judicial and legislative examination; beyond the scope of Constitutional principles of justice, equality; and beyond the necessity of a rational, compelling state interest in order to justify denying certain citizens the right to form contractual relationships with individuals of their choice. Brian Brown, NOM’s Executive Director, makes a pithy summation of this method of shielding marriage law from scrutiny when he says that “government did not make marriage, God did.” Despite their pontification about the need for civil, vibrant debate over the issue of marriage, Mr. Brown and his organization don’t really believe that any debate is possible — they’ve defined their opposition out of existence. This is sophistry as much as it is religion.

Then there is the question of the “definition of marriage” itself. As anyone who has made the most cursory examination of human social history knows, however marriage has historically been “defined,” it has most certainly not been a relationship between two equal partners who chose to love and value one another for life in absolute fidelity. Polygamy, the social acceptability and even institutionalization of concubinage and extramarital affairs, the once universal phenomenon of arranged marriages and, most strikingly, the subjected status of women, all betray the lie that the twenty-first century, Western institution of marriage is the unchanging definition of marriage. In fact, it was precisely the redefinition of marriage to mean the union of two equals who love and cherish one another that makes the concept of gay marriage so much less foreign to modern civilization than it would have been in other times. Leading figures in NOM, members of Congress, and other prominent Christian conservatives love to sternly admonish those “redefining” marriage, but given the history of radical marriage redefinition, their argument is easily identifiable as nothing more than a fig leaf for religious objection to state recognition of gay relationships.

In addition to pseudo-social arguments, NOM employs a pseudo-political argument to conceal its religious motivations. This is the infamous “let the people decide” refrain, whereby Ms. Gallagher, Mr. Brown, and others purport to be champions of simple democracy and popular empowerment by fighting for direct referenda on gay marriage. A NOM press release trumpeted, “the people of D.C…have a God-given right to vote for marriage.” Such an approach, though vulnerable to criticism for placing individual rights of a disfavored minority in the hands of the majority, would at least be authentic if NOM actually believed that the people should have the right to decide whether or not to allow same-sex marriage. But NOM has made clear that it does not consider any form of legalization of gay marriage, even through a popular vote, to be legitimate. When the Maine legislature passed a bill allowing persons of the same sex to marry, Ms. Gallagher opined, “politicians can pass a bill saying a chicken is a duck and that doesn’t make it true. Truth matters.” Ms. Gallagher is here reverting to the super-rational “definition” system. The problem is, not only does this put the achievement of gay marriage beyond the reach of politicians, but of the people as well. Again, Mr. Brown betrays the fact that his organization only respects the “will of the people” when it is in accordance with his own religious convictions. He refers specifically to a “God-given right to vote for (heterosexual-only) marriage,” implicitly denying the right to vote for gay-inclusive marriage. In other words, the people have the right to vote, provided they vote in accordance with the Christian conservative interpretation of the Eternal, Immutable Word of God. That is not democracy; it is theocracy.

NOM has proven itself a dangerous foe to the movement that seeks to fully enfranchise gay and lesbian citizens of the United States. Its appropriation of tautological and specious messages has earned it a level of success that should shatter the complacency of gay rights supporters. But NOM, like every other anti-gay organization of the Christian right, cannot fully conceal its religious motivations — nor does it always attempt to, as Mr. Brown’s quote above demonstrates. If supporters of marriage equality can expose the reality that this is not, in the final sense, a debate about gay marriage so much as a debate about whether our country will be governed by secular or religious law, then we can be assured that the American people will choose the right path.

Lopatin, a junior classic major, can be reached at

Despite defeat, same-sex marriage advocates rally in Albany | | The Ithaca Journal

report on Marriage Equality Rally in Albany that Robert and I attended yesterday

Despite defeat, same-sex marriage advocates rally in Albany | | The Ithaca Journal

ALBANY -- Some might think that two months after the Senate nixed a same-sex marriage bill and eight months before an election that could shift New York's balance of power isn't the best time to lobby on the issue, but gay-rights advocates disagreed Tuesday.

"Some organizations in this movement feel that being in Albany, even here today, may not have been the best idea. But, you know what, just because a vote can't happen this year doesn't mean we can rest," Ron Zacchi, executive director of Marriage Equality New York told about 100 members from Buffalo, Rochester, Westchester County, New York City and elsewhere in the state.

The Senate voted 24-38 in December to reject same-sex marriage legislation. No Republicans voted for it and eight Democrats, one of whom is no longer serving in the Senate, voted against it.

The Assembly, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, has twice passed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, but the Senate has taken up the matter only once.

In November, voters will select representatives for all 212 seats in the Legislature. Gay-rights advocates have pledged to work against lawmakers who didn't support the same-sex marriage bill.

Michael Sabatino of Yonkers, and his partner of more than 30 years, Robert Voorheis, said they and other advocates are determined to keep the issue alive. The two were married in Canada several years ago.

"I think we have to stay in front of our elected officials, let them know that this is a very important issue, that we are expecting them to vote again on it in the future and that we are serious about getting this legislated here in New York state," he said.

Senate Democratic leaders continue to work on building bipartisan support for marriage equality bill, "which guarantees dignity, equality and privacy under the law for all committed couples," said Travis Proulx, a spokesman for the Senate Majority Conference.

The Rev. Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, which opposes same-sex marriage, said the legislation is a non-issue in 2010.

"There's zero chance that it's going to come up for a vote this year," he said. "It's just not an issue that people are going to want to touch again."

Anne Tischer, 58, of Gates, Monroe County, traveled to Albany Tuesday because "without (same-sex) marriage, there really is no progress," she said. "Marriage is the brass ring and it will impact rights for all other LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) groups."

There are many rights that come with marriage, said Tischer, who married her partner of 16 years, Bess Watts, five years ago in Canada. For example, the couple have to pay extra taxes on health-care benefits that Tischer receives through Watts' job, taxes that aren't levied on heterosexual married couples.

Kitty Moran, 55, said she would be lobbying her own senator, James Alesi, R-Perinton, Monroe County, who was thought to be a supporter of the legislation but who voted no.

"I'm not asking for the moon here. I'm just asking for basically the same rights that heterosexual couples have," said Moran, whose partner is Debbie Heintz.

Kitty Lambert, 53, said she and her partner, Cheryle Rudd, 52, asked for a marriage license at Buffalo City Hall earlier this month and were denied. They have been together for more than 10 years. A young man whom she had never met before volunteered to acquire a marriage license with Lambert, and they received one.

Lambert, whose actions are documented in a video on You Tube, said activists were making a point.

"There are groups out there that talk about the sacredness of marriage and the sanctity of marriage and have absolutely no idea how much comprehension we have of how sacred that piece of paper is, because our relationships are without it. They're unprotected," said Lambert, president of Outspoken For Equality, a western New York gay-rights group.

Joe Tarver, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, which wasn't a part of Tuesday's lobbying event, said if there's an avenue to get the same-sex marriage bill passed this year, the group will work on it. The organization has an eye toward November, he said.

"I know that one of the things that we're working on is getting more pro-(gay) marriage senators in that chamber," he said.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tax Tips for Same-Sex Couples - Bucks Blog -

Tax Tips for Same-Sex Couples - Bucks Blog -

Tax Tips for Same-Sex Couples
What if You're Gay - Your Money - Bucks Blog -

Gay couples have complicated financial lives, and preparing tax returns is no exception.

Since the federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, gay couples who are living in states that do recognize their various legal unions must still file separate federal returns. That requires more record-keeping and planning than their heterosexual counterparts — and oftentimes, gay couples will have to pay more to an accountant to prepare their returns.

But the consequences aren’t all negative. By remaining unmarried, some same-sex couples will avoid the so-called marriage penalty. This occurs when a couple’s combined income pushes them into a higher tax bracket than if they had remained single. Or, they may qualify for more tax deductions or credits that phase out as their income rises.

On the other hand, plenty of same-sex couples end up paying higher tax bills than their heterosexual married counterparts, including those with a stay-at-home parent. That’s because the tax code tends to favor married couples with disparate incomes or a nonworking spouse.

No matter which category you fall into, tax experts say the best way to minimize the tax bite is to look at both partners as an economic unit. If the higher-earning partner won’t get the full child tax credit, should the lower earner take it? Who should file as head of household, which has more favorable rates than the single filing status?

“Gay taxpayers will do best when they look at their tax results as a household, and not as individuals,” said Tina Salandra, a certified public accountant in New York.

Just be prepared to spend some extra time strategizing. “If you are filing separately but are really leading very joint lives, there are many extra things you need to do,” said Jeff Pretsfelder, a senior tax analyst at the tax and accounting business of Thomson Reuters.

We list some of those items below, along with several other things you need to keep in mind:

New Items for 2009 If you bought a home and expect to be eligible for the home buyer’s tax credit, remember that you must split the $8,000 credit with your partner. “The I.R.S. was very clear that if two unmarried people or a same-sex couple buy a home, they need to split the credit,” Ms. Salandra said. But there is a potential benefit: Since the home buyers’ credit phases out as your income rises, and same-sex couples don’t combine their income on their federal returns, the lower-wage earner may still qualify for half the credit even though the higher earner is above the limit, she added.

Separately, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance in a memo from its chief counsel’s office that clarifies how much mortgage interest is deductible for people who own homes jointly. Taxpayers who file as single or married filing jointly can generally deduct all of their mortgage interest on up to $1 million in mortgage debt and $100,000 in home equity debt (or half those amounts if married filing separately).

Some same-sex couples — or the professionals advising them — have interpreted that to mean that each partner could deduct interest on up to $1 million in debt. But in a memo in March 2009, the I.R.S. said that the $1 million limit is per home, not per taxpayer. So a gay couple who jointly owned a Manhattan apartment could deduct interest on only up to $1 million in debt, not $2 million. “That is incredibly significant for gay couples, especially in a high real estate market like New York City,” she added.

Filing Status. Unlike heterosexual married couples, same-sex couples can choose to have one partner file a federal return as “head of household,” where tax rates are lower than filing as single. To qualify, you must be unmarried or considered unmarried, have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home and live with a “qualifying person,” like a dependent child. So generally, only one partner (who is also the legal parent of a dependent child) can claim this status on a federal return. But it’s not impossible for two partners to claim head of household — one partner, for instance, may be supporting an elderly parent, while the other is supporting a child.

It often makes sense for the higher-earning partner to file as head of household, but not always.

States operate according to their own rules. And not all states that recognize same-sex marriage extend that recognition for tax purposes. New York, for instance, says it recognizes gay marriage, but it doesn’t allow married couples to file joint state returns.

But if you live in a state that recognizes your union — whether you’re married, registered domestic partners or part of a civil union — you will probably be required to file joint returns (or married/civil union/domestic partner filing separately). But each state varies, so be sure to evaluate which filing status will save you the most money.

Strategies If you have joint accounts, property or children, the question then becomes who should deduct what and what filing status each partner should take, if one or both have the option of filing as head of household.

Generally speaking, the person who pays the expense gets the deduction, said Chris Kollaja, an accountant and partner at A.L. Nella in San Francisco. For instance, if you paid 60 percent of the mortgage payments, you could deduct that percentage of interest, while your partner could deduct the remaining 40 percent. But to take a deduction, you need to have an ownership stake in the property.

“Like any two people who are roommates that don’t file a joint return, there is the question of who pays for certain things, and there is a need to document that,” Mr. Pretsfelder said.

Extra Paperwork When it comes to jointly held accounts or property, you should call your bank or brokerage to get two copies of the forms that report any sort of miscellaneous income (including the 1099 form, which lists any income earned other than wages, salaries or tips, or the 1098 form, which lists mortgage interest paid). The banks usually send out only one form to the person whose Social Security number is listed first, which doesn’t affect heterosexual couples filing jointly.

If, say, you split the interest income collected on a joint savings account for tax purposes, you will want to attach a letter to each partner’s tax return, along with a copy of the relevant form. The letter should state that the accounts are held jointly, and that you’re splitting the interest, the dividends or whatever the item.

“The partner whose Social Security number is not on the tax form may be challenged by the I.R.S., saying we have no records,” Ms. Salandra said. “That is all remedied by a letter and documentation that shows the other taxpayer’s name on the joint account.”

Gifts While heterosexual couples can freely transfer money, property or expensive cars and gifts to one another without tax consequences, same-sex couples cannot: anything valued above $13,000 per calendar year is considered a taxable gift. So Ms. Salandra recommends that her clients keep a joint bank account to pay their joint expenses — and that each partner keep records of how much he or she contributed to the account.

“I caution them not to put more than the gift limit over than what the other person was putting in,” Ms. Salandra said. If you did give your partner a gift valued at more than $13,000 last year, you are required to file a gift tax return by April 15, and the amount will be counted against your $1 million lifetime exemption.

Heterosexual married couples “can arrange their affairs any way they want without a tax burden, and generally that doesn’t happen for gay and lesbians,” Mr. Kollaja said.

Professional Help It often pays to get professional help, especially from an accountant who is well versed in these issues. PridePlanners, a group of financial planners who serve gay and lesbian clients, has a list of providers by state.

But same-sex couples can expect to pay more in tax preparation fees. This is especially true for couples who live in states that recognize their unions and require them to file their state returns jointly (or married/civil union/domestic partner filing separately). That’s because the couple must first file separate federal tax returns (as single or head of household). But the tax preparer must also create a dummy federal tax return using a married filing status, so that they can use that data for filing the joint state return.

While a heterosexual married couple needs to file only two returns, a same-sex married couple living in a gay union state must file three returns, but technically fill out four. (In our article that tallied up the extra costs that same-sex couples incur over the course of their lifetimes, we found that same-sex couples could spend around $12,300 more on tax preparation fees than their heterosexual counterparts).

What issues have you run into when filing your returns? How did you solve them? Please share your tips in the comment section below.

Have a specific question? Ask our tax expert, who will be answering questions from same-sex couples throughout the week

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fresh Litigation Route For NY Gay Marriage

Gay City News > Archives > Gay City News > Perspectives > Fresh Litigation Route For NY Gay Marriage

Remember that great song where Sinatra croons, “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, it’s an institute you can’t disparage”?

Well, for the gay and lesbian citizens of the State of New York, the “institute” has been quite disparaged. And while Frank failed to mention it, marriage is not just about love, it’s also about economics and the law. The discriminatory denial of the fundamental right of marriage to same-sex couples works real and substantial hardships on many New Yorkers.

For example, studies show that a same-sex unmarried couple can end up paying $450,000 more over their lifetimes than an opposite-sex married couple due to differential taxation, estate planning treatment, and, of course, insurance costs. In fact, when New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, upheld marriage discrimination in 2006, the court acknowledged that New York affords married couples at least 316 benefits, including the “right to be treated as family members in obtaining insurance coverage.” Advocates have identified more than 1,000 rights and benefits of marriage under state law.

Even as it refused to recognize a right to marriage for gay and lesbian couples under New York’s Constitution, the Court of Appeals invited the State Legislature to address the issue. The New York State Assembly thereafter passed a same-sex marriage bill no less than three times. The State Senate, however, failed even to vote on the matter for three years; and when it held a belated vote in December, it refused to pass the bill.

To add insult to injury, 37 of the 38 senators who voted “no” declined, during the floor debate, even to give a reason for denying same-sex couples this fundamental right.

The good news is that some gay and lesbian New Yorkers now have the ability to enjoy at least 316 benefits that New York’s judiciary and Legislature have, so far, unjustly refused them, and I am proud to say that I was able to play a role in addressing this ongoing injustice.

Five states, including bordering Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, as well as several other nations, currently allow same-sex marriages. Since 2008, New York has recognized such marriages entered into in other states and countries. During my tenure as the New York Superintendent of Insurance, I ordered all insurance companies doing business in New York to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally wed elsewhere.

As a result of that regulatory action, New York insurers must now provide the very same property, life, and health insurance policies and benefits to same-sex married couples that are available to opposite-sex married couples under the state’s insurance laws.

It is, however, fundamentally unfair that only those same-sex couples who are able to travel elsewhere to get married can have their unions recognized in New York — and thereby obtain the economic and legal benefits that marriage allows. It is the least wealthy, and therefore the most economically vulnerable, same-sex couples who are also least likely to have the wherewithal to leave New York to get married — and therefore are being left without any of the crucial economic and legal benefits of marriage in our state.

The differing treatment of couples who can leave the state to get married and those without the means to travel only serves to underline the irrationality of the current state of the law. Indeed, it may provide a new basis to challenge the unjust 2006 ruling in the courts.

If I have the privilege to become New York’s next attorney general, I will — as the state’s chief law enforcement officer — ensure that every state agency and private company provides those same-sex couples who are able to marry outside New York with the benefits and rights they are entitled to under New York law. Furthermore, I will ensure that New York continues to advocate for the marriage rights of gays and lesbians in the courts.

Simply put, the Court of Appeals’ conclusion that the unequal treatment of lesbian and gay New York couples is permitted under the due process and equal protection guarantees of our State’s Constitution is wrong, and should not stand. I look forward to the day when “love and marriage” really do go together for gay and lesbian New Yorkers.

Eric Dinallo, a former superintendent of insurance for New York State, is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a candidate for New York State attorney general.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Anne Hathaway's family left Catholicism to support her gay brother - Topix

Another Smart former roman catholic.

Anne Hathaway's family left Catholicism to support her gay brother - Topix

Anne Hathaway's family left the Catholic Church because of its intolerance of homosexuality. Anne grew up wanting to become a nun but shunned Catholicism when she learned her older brother, Michael, was gay. Hathaway says, "The whole family converted to Episcopalianism after my elder brother came out. Why should I support an organization that has a limited view of my beloved brother?" Anne was nominated for an Oscar™ for Rachel Getting Married ['08]. She's also co-starred in The Devil Wears Prada , The Princess Diaries , and Brokeback Mountain

House, Senate reject same-sex marriage resolution | | The Des Moines Register

House, Senate reject same-sex marriage resolution | | The Des Moines Register

Both the Iowa House and Senate on Tuesday rejected Republican-led efforts to move forward on a resolution to repeal same-sex marriage.

The actions were procedural and not direct votes on the issue of marriage. They centered on identical joint resolutions in each chamber seeking to amend the Iowa Constitution to specify the state will recognize only marriage between one man and one woman.

Republicans sought to pull the resolutions out of committees so that they would be placed on the debate calendar and avoid a legislative deadline this week.

No vote was taken on Senate Joint Resolution 2001. However, all 18 Senate Republicans signed a petition circulated by Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, as well as one Democratic senator, Tom Hancock, D-Epworth. They needed 26.

"I live in a highly Catholic area, and I think that's what the folks wanted me to do," Hancock said.

The House spent almost 30 minutes on a rarely used "call of the House," in which all of the 100 members were ordered into the chambers to vote unless they were previously excused. The effort to advance House Joint Resolution 6 out of the committee process ultimately failed in a 45-54 vote, mostly along party lines.

Rep. Dolores Mertz of Ottosen was the only House Democrat to vote in favor of pushing the resolution out of committee. Rep. Mark Kuhn, D-Charles City, was previously excused to attend a public meeting in his district. He returned to the Capitol later in the day and notified House staff that he would have voted against the effort if he had been present.

An Iowa Poll taken earlier this month showed that 62 percent of Iowans think the issue of gay marriage doesn't deserve lawmakers' time, rating below texting while driving, puppy mill legislation, gun control, payday loans and gambling.

House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, said Republicans "can go ahead and use" the House vote in this fall's elections. "I would advise Republicans that 'it's the economy, stupid,' " Murphy said.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in April 2009 that fairness and constitutional equal protection require that same-sex couples be allowed to marry. Some Iowans now want to amend the Iowa Constitution to specify that marriage is between one man and one woman.

If approved by the House and the Senate, House Joint Resolution 6 would also need to be approved by the Legislature in 2011 or 2012 before it could be put before citizens for a vote.

It's unlikely that the resolution will meet this week's legislative deadline for passage out of committee, Republicans and Democrats said.

"Iowans just want the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage, and this is part of the process of getting there," said House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, who added that the issue was probably dead this year.

Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, R-Chariton, acknowledged that the failed effort leaves Iowans with only one opportunity anytime soon to change the law: a vote in November to call for a constitutional convention.

Some conservatives have criticized such a convention, however, fearing it could open up changes on a wide range of other issues, such as expanding abortion or labor laws.

"Iowans have made it clear that they want a vote on the basic definition of marriage," McKinley said, "and Senate Republicans have again tried to allow all Iowans a vote on the Iowa marriage amendment. Once again, Republicans are standing up to allow Iowans a vote, while Democrats continue to obstruct and turn their backs on the voters."

The Iowa Family Policy Center, which has led efforts against same-sex marriage, issued a statement critical of Tuesday's legislative actions.

"If Speaker Murphy intends to allow courts to make law in Iowa, he ought to stop stealing his paycheck from the taxpayers and go look for other work," said Bryan English, a spokesman for the group.

Carolyn Jenison, executive director of One Iowa, expressed satisfaction with Tuesday's actions. One Iowa is the state's largest gay rights organization.

"It's time to move on from the destructive politics of division and focus on what matters to a great majority of Iowans," Jenison said.

Register staff writer Jennifer Jacobs contributed to this article.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist - Smoke the Bigots Out of the Closet -

love this guy

Op-Ed Columnist - Smoke the Bigots Out of the Closet -

Smoke the Bigots Out of the Closet

Published: February 6, 2010

A funny thing happened after Adm. Mike Mullen called for gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military: A curious silence befell much of the right. If this were a Sherlock Holmes story, it would be the case of the attack dogs that did not bark.
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John McCain, commandeering the spotlight as usual, did fulminate against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But the press focus on McCain, the crazy man in Washington’s attic, was misleading. His yapping was an exception, not the rule.

Many of his Republican colleagues said little or nothing. The right’s noise machine was on mute. The Fox News report on Mullen’s testimony was fair and balanced — and brief. The network dropped the subject entirely in the Hannity-O’Reilly hothouse of prime time that night. Only ratings-desperate CNN gave a fleeting platform to the old homophobic clichés. Michael O’Hanlon, an “expert” from the Brookings Institution, speculated that “18-year-old, old-fashioned, testosterone-laden” soldiers who are “tough guys” might object to those practicing “alternative forms of lifestyle,” which he apparently views as weak and testosterone-deficient. His only prominent ally was the Family Research Council, which issued an inevitable “action alert” demanding a stop to “the sexualization of our military.”

The occasional outliers notwithstanding, why did such a hush greet Mullen on Capitol Hill? The answer begins with the simple fact that a large majority of voters — between 61 percent and 75 percent depending on the poll — now share his point of view. Most Americans recognize that being gay is not a “lifestyle” but an immutable identity, and that outlawing discrimination against gay people who want to serve their country is, as the admiral said, “the right thing to do.”

Mullen’s heartfelt, plain-spoken testimony gave perfect expression to the nation’s own slow but inexorable progress on the issue. He said he had “served with homosexuals since 1968” and that his views had evolved “cumulatively” and “personally” ever since. So it has gone for many other Americans in all walks of life. As more gay people have come out — a process that accelerated once the modern gay rights movement emerged from the Stonewall riots of 1969 — so more heterosexuals have learned that they have gay relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers and co-workers. It is hard to deny our own fundamental rights to those we know, admire and love.

But that’s not the whole explanation for the scant pushback in Washington to Mullen and his partner in change, Defense Secretary Robert Gates. There is also a potent political subtext. To a degree unimaginable as recently as 2004 — when Karl Rove and George W. Bush ran a national campaign exploiting fear of gay people — there is now little political advantage to spewing homophobia. Indeed, anti-gay animus is far more likely to repel voters than attract them. This equation was visibly eating at Orrin Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, as he vamped nervously with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC last week, trying to duck any discernible stand on Mullen’s testimony. On only one point was he crystal clear: “I just plain do not believe in prejudice of any kind.”

Now that explicit anti-gay animus is an albatross, those who oppose gay civil rights are driven to invent ever loopier rationales for denying those rights, whether in the military or in marriage. Hatch, for instance, limply suggested to Mitchell that a repeal of “don’t ask” would lead to gay demands for “special rights.” Such arguments, both preposterous and disingenuous, are mere fig leaves to disguise the phobia that can no longer dare speak its name. If gay Americans are to be granted full equality, the flimsy rhetorical camouflage must be stripped away to expose the prejudice that lies beneath.

The arguments for preserving “don’t ask” have long been blatantly groundless. McCain — who said in 2006 that he would favor repealing the law if military leaders ever did — didn’t even bother to offer a logical explanation for his mortifying flip-flop last week. He instead huffed that the 1993 “don’t ask” law should remain unchanged as long as any war is going on (which would be in perpetuity, given Afghanistan). Colin Powell strafed him just hours later, when he announced that changed “attitudes and circumstances” over the past 17 years have led him to agree with Mullen. McCain is even out of step with his own family’s values. Both his wife, Cindy, and his daughter Meghan have posed for the current California ad campaign explicitly labeling opposition to same-sex marriage as hate.

McCain aside, the most common last-ditch argument for preserving “don’t ask” heard last week, largely from Southern senators, is to protect “troop morale and cohesion.” Every known study says this argument is a canard, as do the real-life examples of the many armies with openly gay troops, including those of Canada, Britain and Israel. But the argument does carry a telling historical pedigree. When Harry Truman ordered the racial integration of the American military in 1948, Congressional opponents (then mainly Southern Democrats) embraced an antediluvian Army prediction from 1940 stating that such a change would threaten national defense by producing “situations destructive to morale.” History will sweep this bogus argument away now as it did then.

Those opposing same-sex marriage are just as eager to mask their bigotry. The big arena on that issue is now in California, where the legal showdown over Proposition 8 is becoming a Scopes trial of sorts, with the unlikely bipartisan legal team of David Boies and Ted Olson in the Clarence Darrow role. The opposing lawyer, Charles Cooper, insisted to the court that he bore neither “ill will nor animosity for gays and lesbians.” Given the history of the anti-same-sex marriage camp, it’s hard to make that case with a straight face (so to speak). In trying to do so, Cooper moved that graphic evidence of his side’s ill will and animosity be disallowed — including that notorious, fear-mongering television ad, “The Gathering Storm.”

The judge admitted such exhibits anyway. Boies also triumphed in dismantling an expert witness called to provide the supposedly empirical, non-homophobic evidence of how same-sex marriage threatens “procreative marriage.” In cross-examination, Boies forced the witness, David Blankenhorn of the so-called Institute for American Values, to concede he had no academic expertise in any field related to marriage or family. The only peer-reviewed paper he’s written, for a degree in Comparative Labor History, was “a study of two cabinetmakers’ unions in 19th-century Britain.”

In another, milder cross-examination — on “Meet the Press” last weekend — John Boehner, the House G.O.P. leader, fended off a question about “don’t ask” with a rhetorical question of his own: “In the middle of two wars and in the middle of this giant security threat, why would we want to get into this debate?” Besides Mullen’s answer — that it is the right thing to do — there’s another, less idealistic reason why President Obama might want to get into it. The debate could blow up in the Republicans’ faces. A protracted battle or filibuster in which they oppose civil rights will end up exposing the deep prejudice at the root of their arguments. That’s not where a party trying to expand beyond its white Dixie base and woo independents wants to be in 2010.

Polls consistently show that independents, however fiscally conservative, are closer to Democrats than Republicans on social issues. (In May’s Gallup survey, 67 percent of independents favored repealing “don’t ask.”) This is why Scott Brown, enjoying what may be a short-lived honeymoon in his own party, calls himself a “Scott Brown Republican.” A Scott Brown Republican isn’t a Boehner or Hatch Republican. In his interview with Barbara Walters last weekend, he distanced himself from Sarah Palin, said he was undecided on “don’t ask” and declared same-sex marriage a “settled” issue in his state, Massachusetts, where it is legal.

It’s in this political context that we can see that there may have been some method to Obama’s troublesome tardiness on gay issues after all. But as we learned about this White House and the Democratic Congress in the health care debacle, they are perfectly capable of dropping the ball at any moment. Let’s hope they don’t this time. Should they actually press forward on “don’t ask” in an election year with Mullen and Gates on board — and with even McCain’s buddy, Joe Lieberman, calling for action “as soon as possible” — they could further the goal and raise the political price for those who stand in the way. Recalcitrant Congressional Republicans will have to explain why their perennial knee-jerk deference to “whatever the commanders want” extends to Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal on troop surges but not to Mullen, who outranks them, on civil rights.

The more bigotry pushed out of the closet for all voters to see, the more likely it is that Americans will be moved to grant overdue full citizenship to gay Americans. It won’t happen overnight, any more than full civil rights for African-Americans immediately followed Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces. But there can be no doubt that Mike Mullen’s powerful act of conscience last week, just as we marked the 50th anniversary of the Greensboro, N.C., lunch counter sit-in, pushed history forward. The revealing silence that followed from so many of the usual suspects was pretty golden too.