Tag Archives: Equal Protection

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…

Where Is It Safest to Be Gay? Ranking the States

12 May

Come for the scenery, stay for the civil rights

Despite President Obama’s wonderful declaration of support for marriage equality, the devastating passage of Amendment One in North Carolina shows how far we have to go as a nation. It is also imporant to understand how your rights are protected based on where you live. Now there’s a handy tool to look at gay rights by state.

In a very thorough analysis this week, British news daily The Guardian, published a ranking of all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) on seven key areas of civil rights. The factors rated by The Guardian include:

  1. Marriage, indicating whether it is fully allowed or banned and including partial credit for domestic partnerships.
  2. Hospital visitation rights, including how same-sex partners are respected as family members.
  3. Adoption rights, indicating whether LGBT couples can jointly adopt (or are explicitly banned from doing so).
  4. Employment, indicating what workplace protections exist based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  5. Housing, indicating laws requiring fair treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  6. Hate crimes, indicating laws providing for harsher punishment of crimes motivated by the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
  7. Schools, indicating laws that protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity and any explicit anti-LGBT bullying provision.

The analysis also compares states by region. Generally speaking, the Northeast has the strongest, most consistent protections (including three states with perfect scores – CT, MA, and VT) and the Southeast has the weakest (followed closely by the Midwest). Using a distinctly British approach to the regions, The Guardian identifies six Northwest states (OR, WA, ID, AK, MT, and WY). Washington received a perfect score; Oregon fell short on marriage equality but was otherwise perfect, ranking in the top 10. Only Oregon and Washington meet any of the categories other than some school protections. It’s also nice to know that many elected officials in Oregon responded positively to the President’s announcement on Wednesday.

Of course day-to-day safety and success for LGBT Americans varies based on more than the state or region in which one lives. Metropolitan areas are generally safer and more accepting than more rural areas, regardless of the state. But knowing how a region demonstrates its support (or hostility) to gay rights is an important factor in daily life.

Hero of the Week Award: February 24, Karen Golinski

24 Feb

Hero of the Week

In case after case, the forces of inequality are losing ground as courts make fair decisions. This week we are pleased to present the HWA to a woman who stood up for her rights and made progress for all of us. Karen Golinski  has worked for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for two decades. When California law allowed her and her partner, Amy Cunninghis, to marry, they joyfully did so. Since she had a legal spouse under California law, Golinski sought spousal insurance coverage from her employer. Because of the nefarious “Defense of Marriage” Act (DOMA), the federal court denied her claim (talk about lack of civil rights).

Karen Golinski did not give up. She followed each step in the tortuous path to receive the legitimate benefits, culminating with a lawsuit. This week, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White ruled that by creating an unequal class of married persons, DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Fighting this kind of legal battle is demanding, even when you know you are right. The LGBT community and everyone interested in equal rights for all owe Ms. Golinski and Ms. Cunninghis a debt of gratitude for standing up for their rights.

Honorable mention in this case goes to the couple’s superior legal team and to Judge White. The Judge presented a strong decision based on numerous cases in recent years that declares clearly that centuries of oppression are not legal grounds for discrimination. While the forces of bigotry will certainly appeal this decision, the reasoning is sound and in the long term equality will prevail. For a detailed legal analysis, visit the legal scholar at Towelroad.

US Supreme Court Gets One Right: Something Nice About Scalia

25 Jan

North American Stainless, Stained by wrong doing!

Eric Thompson was dismissed from his job at North American Stainless, despite that he received good evaluations and raises through the years.  Could there have been darker forces at work?  Could his sudden dismissal been connected to the fact that his finance had filed a sex-discrimination complaint against the same company?  While the lower courts ruled in favor of North American Stainless, protecting corporate America and sacrificing individual citizens, it is a pleasure to report that the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Thompson, and he may now go back and file a lawsuit for retaliation by his bosses.

Those of you that follow this blog, know I am a harsh critic of Scalia, however I am always willing to give credit where credit is due.  Scalia wrote on behalf of the court:

We think it obvious that a reasonable worker might be dissuaded” from filing a complaint “if she knew that her fiancé would be fired.”

Well done!  The larger question for me is, does this now help set a precedent that will offer equal protection for the LGBT community.  I would argue it does!  Click here to see the full article.


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