Tag Archives: DOMA

Number 1 Hero of the Year Award 2013: United States Supreme Court

31 Dec

marriage-equalityI always love to find people and events to celebrate, especially when they move humanity forward.  This past June, the Supreme Court helped to create equity and equality and move humanity forward with its decision to end the nefarious Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a rather sad legacy of President Bill Clinton. One presumes he has had a change of heart.

Sadly, the move towards equity and equality was not a resounding unanimous cheer.  The country certainly needs to celebrate and acknowledge the wonderful work of Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Not a big surprise that the following four justices leave a legacy of hate, bigotry, and discrimination:  Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin (I hate the gays) Scalia, Samuel Alito, and of course Clarence Thomas.  How very sad for these four powerful men and even more sad that the Chief Justice sent a very loud message about how he will misuse his power regarding civil rights.

Today, we now have 18 states (if one counts Utah) that provide marriage equality; this is far better than what I expected in my lifetime. Now I have hope that we will see full marriage equality throughout the United States within my lifetime.

There were many nominations for the following Honorable Mentions this year:

Antoinette Tuff

Russell Brand

Pope Francis

I look forward to being able to celebrate many heroes in 2014!  Happy New Year!

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Bigot of the Week Award: June 28, The Supreme Corruption

28 Jun
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

The Supreme Court wrapped up its judicial year this week with a number of major decisions. On the four that got the most press — and had the largest impact — they managed one disaster (Voting Rights), one victory (DOMA), and two adequate indecisions (affirmative action and Prop 8). As those rulings were rolled out, however, the aggressive activists on the right of the bench bared their ugly souls once again.

The most vile decision was Shelby County v Holder, in which the Four Injustices of the Apocalypse were joined by two-faced Kennedy in gutting the Voting Rights Act. Despite the fact that the VRA was renewed unanimously by the Senate and by an overwhelming majority in the House after extensive research, the Court ruled that Congress acted capriciously and violated States’ rights. That rationale fails to disguise the clear desire to allow states to practice voter suppression, disproportionately impacting marginalized populations which coincidentally vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.  Talk about intentional disenfranchisement!

Chief Racist Roberts penned the poison decision, helping secure his horrible legacy. He also wrote an ugly dissent in Windsor v United States, the case that overturned DOMA.

Speaking of ugly legacies, Justice Scalia managed to spew his usual bile with flair and volume. He continues to argue that calling a bigoted law bigoted is biased against bigots. That’s some weird reasoning. He also displayed his split personality in the Shelby and Windsor rulings. To support racism, he trumpets States’ rights and blames Congressional overreach. To support homophobia, he says that Congress should have the final say, and the will of the states that support LGBT rights be damned. In a curious bit of double-speak, his Windsor dissent includes:

It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive. It envisions a Supreme Court standing (or rather enthroned) at the apex of government, empowered to decide all constitutional questions, always and everywhere “primary” in its role.

That is one huge spleen that Scalia has!  Justice Alito-Mussolini, joined in the discrimination chorus. He also demonstrated his ongoing behavior as a petulant brat. During Justice Ginsburg’s scathing Shelby dissent, he rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. He displayed similar disrespect to opinions offered by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor on other matters. Racist, homophobe, misogynist — score three for Alito, but of course “he does make the trains run on time.”

Justice Thomas remained inert, participating only far enough to support a version of the Constitution that must have been written in 1276, content to continue suppressing the rights of others now that he’s got his lifetime gig.

What a horrible example of judicial activism and abuse of power!

There’s plenty of dishonorable mention to spread around, as well, so let’s just highlight two magnificent examples.

  1. Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose efforts to crush Planned Parenthood and severely restrict reproductive choice in his state were thwarted by true democracy in action, chose to demonize state Sen. Wendy Davis. He argued that she’s lucky she wasn’t aborted by her unmarried mother and should take a lesson from that. My he is Klassy!
  2. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R – What’s the Matter with Kansas) followed the DOMA decision by introducing a new bill to ban same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution. I guess the House didn’t waste enough taxpayer time and money defending the indefensible.

Many of the usual homophobes spewed their bigotry in despair after the Windsor ruling as well. Rather than bother with names and quotes, let’s take a lesson from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose flawless response to their angry bloviating was a calm, “Who cares?”

LGBT History Month 2013: The Death of DOMA!

26 Jun

Constitution-No-DOMAToday marks a landmark decision from the United States Supreme Court and a victory for the LGBT community.  Clinton’s legacy of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is now dead.  Even now, I am having to write this article through tears of joy!  The unconstitutional, shamefully discriminatory DOMA has finally been put to rest.

The 5-4 decision found Justice Kennedy siding with the reliably progressive Justices Bader Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. The ruling is quite clear, emphasizing that by ignoring state marriage law, the federal government violated the Fifth Amendment. It reads, in part:

The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.

Of course, Scalia and his other school yard bullies  (including homophobic Chief Justice Roberts) voted to keep DOMA intact. They put forward a few different rationales, but basically relied on the “gays are icky” defense.  Sadly, Chief Justice Roberts who holds enormous power, has sent a clear message that he does not intend to treat all citizens equally or equitably.

Congratulations to Edie Windsor, whose steadfast insistence on having her marriage recognized moved this case forward. She is a true hero and her legal team deserves our thanks.

We still have a way to go. The patchwork of state-by-state marriage equality means that LGBT Americans get different rights based on where they live. This decision, however, makes it clear that marriage is marriage. That’s a huge step forward.  Poor John Boehner who spent so much of our tax payer dollars defending DOMA.  Is that a tear I see, Mr. Boehner?

LGBT History Month: Why We Need to Celebrate

3 Jun

Happy_Gay_Pride_MonthJune is recognized as LGBT History Month, a time for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community to come together and celebrate who we are and stand in solidarity with each other.  We celebrate in June because it was June of 1969 that jump-started the Gay Liberation Movement in our country’s history with the Stonewall Riots.

In 1969 it was illegal in the United States to be gay and we were targeted by police for raids and put in jail.  Sadly, the LGBT community is still policed disproportionately and there are still 14 states where it is still illegal to be gay, most of those states are in the South, despite Lawrence v. Texas. Yes, most states in the South have zero protections for LGBT folk, so one can be denied employment, denied housing, and denied healthcare just for their sexual orientation.

As much as we think It Gets Better, we still have a long way to go.  One wonders why we don’t have a better campaign that says; Make It Get Better, and put the onus on the dominant culture.  We know from the 2010 National Health Report that harassment and violence against the LGBT community have increased by 20% and the increase of violence is even greater for LGBT folks of color.

Sadly, this trend is international and shows no sign of abating. Look at the spike in protesting and violence in France that started as marriage equality began to work its way through the legislative process. Look at the violence in Russia and the Ukraine and the official indifference — or outright support — it receives. Nigeria just passed “All Gays to Be Jailed” law. Closer to home, look at the TEN anti-gay hate crimes in New York City in just the past month: bashings, beatings, assaults, and at least one murder. The closer we get to equal, the angrier — and more aggressive — our foes become.

Granted, our heterosexual brothers and sisters do have to live in fear of the Gay Agenda, but when are we going to have actual movement towards civil rights?  Will the Supreme Court do the right thing and send the message by overturning DOMA that we must treat all of our citizens equally and equitably? Will the Boy Scouts’ lame half-measure finally break them as the California legislature plans to strip them of any non-profit privileges for their incessant discrimination?

LGBT History Month provides a time and place for the community to celebrate and come together in “numbers too big to be ignored” (you I love me some Helen Reddy).  I ask all of our heterosexual brothers and sisters to stand in solidarity and support all LGBT folk in the many colors and lives we represent.

Hero of the Week Award: May 24, Eileen Peterson

24 May

RacismI need to say a huge thank you to friend, activist, and LGBT ally, Bruce Kestelman for nominating Eileen for HWA.  Honestly, Bruce needs to also be celebrated as HWA also for many of the same reasons we are celebrating Eileen.

Standing up for Social Justice seems like it would just be obvious and easy.  Working to ensure space for equity and equality and treating all humans with dignity and respect feels like it should be a no brainer.  Sadly, this is not the case.  I suspect all of us have too often witnessed very ugly behavior on different social media sites around human and civil rights issues.  I know I have seen my fair share of awful, nasty, ugly behavior on Facebook and on LinkedIn around the issues of racial equity and marriage equality.  Garbage that I will not bother to repeat here spews forth from the foaming mouths and frantic fingers of bigots everywhere.

Delightfully, within all of this muck there are gems I find that need to be celebrated.  People with tenacity, grace, and perseverance that gracefully — and at times with great wit — work hard to interrupt oppression.   Eileen Peterson is someone who does not shy away from social justice issues.  I admit that there have been times when comments get so ugly, I throw my hands up in despair and walk away from interrupting oppressive comments.  I recently read a thread on LinkedIn regarding marriage equality and I have to say that Eileen Peterson won my heart over.  She does not use accusatory or inflammatory language, but she does try to hold people accountable for their behavior and she asks great clarifying questions that help to expose they hypocrisy within people’s arguments.

Today I felt the need to celebrate the individual and collective voices that work with great respect and dignity to interrupt oppression.  Everyday people like Eileen, Bruce, Jennifer Carey, and the amazingly large list of friends I have had the honor and privilege to know in the past two years, need to be celebrated for their dedication to social justice and fierce determination to eradicate racism, homophobia, misogyny, and poverty. I applaud you all!

Honorable mention this week goes to the Peace Corps. Reversing a long-standing discriminatory practice, the Corps announced this week that it will allow same-sex couples to apply for joint service. Married heterosexual couples have been able to do so all along. The Peace Corps could have waited for DOMA to fall; instead, they took a proactive step and will usher in equality starting next month. Nicely done!

Bigot of the Week Award: March 29, Paul Clement and Charles Cooper

29 Mar
Bigots of the Week

Bigots of the Week

As the country focused its attention on the Supreme Court and its two hearings on marriage equality this week, two men stood before the Court and easily walked away with Bigot of the Week Award. Attorneys Paul Clement and Charles Cooper go down in legal history for trying to argue that justice is served through discrimination, bigotry, and denying basic rights to a whole group of citizens–what a legacy to leave.

On a constitutional level, the cases are simple and clear. The Proposition 8 case, argued by Cooper, is an attempt to defend California’s notorious measure banning marriage equality for LGBT citizens. The DOMA case, argued by Clement on behalf of the Republicans in the U.S. House, tries to defend blocking over 1100 rights and privileges to already married citizens just because they are same-sex couples. Both cases are based on bigotry and nothing more. How tragic that these two straight white men could stand up and defend this blatant discrimination without shame.  Of course, I always wonder about people how are so focused on gay folk and consume so much energy on LGBT issues–what a very large closet to accommodate these people.

We won’t know for a couple of months exactly how the justices will rule on these cases. What we do know is that the arguments used by Clement and Cooper were old, tired, and transparently vile. Even the justices who seemed reluctant to move toward full national equality were skeptical of the shallow canards put forth by these hypocritical bigots. They used procreation, history, and (believe it or not) a level playing field as arguments to prop up their sad hate. What they could not do, when pressed, is say why any of their arguments served a state interest or showed why discrimination was merited.

One way or another, with or without the Court, the tide is turning. Public opinion is solidly on the side of equality, shifting over 20 points in just a decade. Over 80% of people under 30 support equality. These tired old white guys can trot out their hate all they like. All they’ll win in the long run is this week’s BWA, which they richly deserve.

Finally, I’m also exceedingly tired of hearing the phrase, “Gay Marriage!”  Might I please encourage folks to use Marriage Equality.  I don’t have a “Gay Marriage,” just as I don’t leave my job and get in my Gay car and go to my Gay house and then fix my Gay dinner.  I just have a marriage–you know, when two people love each other and decide to grow old with each other.

Dishonorable mention comes thanks to my friend Jennifer Carey. Rep. Don Young (R – AK) was waxing nostalgic about agriculture when he uttered the following gem:

My father used to own a ranch. We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes, you know. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.

All I can say to this horrible bigot is that he’s lucky Clement and Cooper were around to steal his award…

Hero of the Week Award: March 1, Phi Alpha Tau Fraternity at Emerson College

1 Mar
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Thanks to my friend Jennifer Carey for pointing me to this week’s heartwarming HWA. The brothers of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity at Emerson College have demonstrated compassion, inclusion, and activism in a true call for social justice.

Donnie Collins is a new pledge to the fraternity. He is transgender, born biologically female. (Before attending Emerson, he went to an all-girls boarding school…) Unable to use his family’s insurance to cover hormone therapy, he has covered all the costs out-of-pocket. Sadly, Emerson’s student insurance is also trans-unfriendly, as most insurers are. Collins is also interested in beginning transition surgery, which is cost-prohibitive.

Enter his fraternity. It’s impressive enough that they were smart and open-minded enough to embrace Donnie, given the gross discrimination that the trans community faces. On top of this, they started an online campaign to raise money for Collins’ surgery. They want to use this opportunity to educate the public on the health care dilemmas faced by men like Donnie Collins. Three cheers for Phi Alpha Tau!

Honorable mention goes to all the groups and individuals who have filed amicus briefs in the two marriage equality cases rising before the Supreme Court. The deadline was yesterday, and dozens of these friend-of-the-court documents have been filed in favor of overturning DOMA and California’s Prop 8. The White House has filed briefs in both cases; dozens of companies have filed a shared brief — ironically taking advantage of Citizens United language — to demonstrate the toll on business morale and effectiveness that discrimination causes. Many politicians and public figures from both major parties have also joined the chorus. Amicus briefs seldom turn the tide, but they do contribute to the Court’s decision making. Let’s hope all this effort helps ensure justice for all.

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