Tag Archives: same sex marriage

Victories for the LGBT Community and for Humanity

8 Nov

ENDA copyThe past week has seen a number of big events in LGBT news and the majority have been very positive. It’s nice to have a chance to celebrate!

A major milestone happened yesterday when the U.S. Senate finally passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Some version of the law — which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity — has been in the works for nearly 40 years. The current ENDA has been floated in almost every Congress since 1994; the inclusion of gender identity has been a point of contention and has been in and out of the bill. The current version is the most comprehensive, requiring most employers with more than 15 employees to comply and with a very narrow religious exemption. ENDA was a lifetime goal of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D – MA). Just before he died, he passed the torch to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D – OR), who was instrumental in similar legislation in this state. I’m very proud of our Senator for pushing so hard to make this a reality.

I feel that such discrimination is wrong and our vision of equality in the Constitution, our vision of the pursuit of happiness in the Constitution and kind of a fundamental sense of fair play—all of those things mean that it is just wrong for people not to have a fair shake at getting or retaining a job.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid built on the post-shutdown debacle momentum and rounded up enough Republican support to break a filibuster. In fact, when opposition voices were invited to speak, no one stepped forward, not even rabid opponents like Ted Cruz. After a bit of amendment posturing, the bill got a full vote and passed by an impressive  64 – 32 vote. Now it’s up to House Speaker John Boehner to move it forward. He has expressed skepticism, saying that ENDA would lead to “frivolous lawsuits.” Points to Sen. Reid for this sharp rebuke:

Speaker Boehner opposes ENDA for fear of frivolous lawsuits? He led a frivolous lawsuit defending DOMA that cost taxpayers over $2 million!

Well said, Sen. Reid. Let’s hope the House can help move equality forward. President Obama has expressed his full support and encouraged Boehner to do the right thing.

On the marriage front, Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to have full equality for same-sex couples. The Illinois House finally passed a Senate bill from May. Gov. Quinn has indicated that he will sign the bill soon. When he does, another 13 million Americans will live in a place with marriage equality, moving the nation up to 37%. In Hawaii, a similar bill is moving forward and seems likely to pass by the end of the year. True equality is never piecemeal, but this is certainly movement in the right, inevitable direction.

Also in workplace protection news, Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has said that his first act after being sworn in will be to reinstate an Executive Order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for state workers. How nice to see him living up to his promises already!

Also on the gubernatorial front, things heated up in Maine this week. Toxic Governor Paul “Tea, please” LePage tried to start a smear campaign against his chief competitor, Rep. Mike Michaud. Showing his rabid disregard for many of his constituents, he hinted that Michaud was gay and that this was sufficient grounds to vote against him. Merging the kindergarten playground with McCarthyism — how lovely! Michaud’s response was flawless:

Yes, I am. But why should it matter? […] I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. And if seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better.

Well said, Rep. Michaud, and best of luck in next year’s election.  I guess current Gov. LePage is only interested in serving selected residents of his state.

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.

Hero of the Week Award: February 22, Oregon United For Marriage

22 Feb

OU4M_logoThis week a dedicated group of Oregonians began the official process of undoing a great injustice. In 2004, during the great wave of anti-equality measures across the nation, Oregon voters passed Measure 36, a constitutional amendment denying LGBT couples marriage equality. Although the margin was smaller than in most states, it was a decisive and depressing result.

Oregon United For Marriage (OU4M) is a new group allied with Basic Rights Oregon. Their goal is to place a measure on the November 2014 ballot to overturn the constitutional amendment and create true equality. The initial petition required 1,000 signatures; OU4M gathered over twice that many, including signatories like Gov. John Kitzhaber and former Gov. Barbara Roberts. They must now obtain approximately 100,000 signatures to get the measure certified for the ballot.

Oregon was one of the first states to issue same-sex marriage licences. In early 2004, Multnomah and Benton counties decided that the equal protection clause in the state constitution trumped the male/female language in the marriage statutes. That effort resulted in the backlash that passed Measure 36. Even in the wake of that defeat, the Oregon legislature created a “marriage in all but name” domestic partnership law championed by Senator Frank Morse (R – Albany). That separate but equal provision at least creates some basic rights and protections. With polls showing a huge 54 – 40 margin in favor of equality, the new measure should put Oregon on the right side of justice and history with the nine (and counting) other states.

Honorable mention this week goes to former Utah Governor and GOP Presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman. In an article for American Conservative, he makes the case that if his party continues to oppose simple equality it will be “made irrelevant in the marketplace of ideas.”

While serving as governor of Utah, I pushed for civil unions and expanded reciprocal benefits for gay citizens. I did so not because of political pressure—indeed, at the time 70 percent of Utahns were opposed—but because as governor my role was to work for everybody […] That was four years ago. Today we have an opportunity to do more: conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry. […] There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love.

Well said, Gov. Huntsman, and thank you.

Defense of Marriage Act Gets Even More Indefensible

22 Oct

Chief Judge Jacobs insists on Heightened Scrutiny

This week yet another court rejected the horrific “Defense” of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA. Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Thursday that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. That’s the section that forbids the Federal government from providing benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in their state of residence.

There are a couple of remarkable things about this ruling. The first is Chief Judge Jacobs himself. He is an extremely conservative judge, first appointed to the federal bench by George H.W. Bush, not known for his prowess in appointing judges, a la Clarence Thomas. His rulings over the years are aggressively pro-business and have little regard for marginalized populations. His opinions are often in the mode of people like Antonin Scalia.

Even more remarkable, Jacobs is the second judge in a few weeks not just to strike down DOMA, but to do so by invoking “heightened scrutiny” for LGBT Americans. This is a particularly strong ruling, requiring that laws negatively impacting the gay community must pass several tests relating to government interests before even being considered constitutional. It’s the same level of scrutiny required when looking at laws that impact people based on their race. In all four factors in Windsor v. United States, Jacobs finds that the matter requires heightened scrutiny.

A) homosexuals as a group have historically endured persecution and discrimination; B) homosexuality has no relation to aptitude or ability to contribute to society; C) homosexuals are a discernible group with non-obvious distinguishing characteristics, especially in the subset of those who enter same-sex marriages; and D) the class remains a politically weakened minority.

This is the fourth case this year to strike down one or more parts of DOMA. Three have been decided by fairly conservative justices, using rationale that relies on states rights and other principles tied to conservative jurisprudence. All four are bound for appeals to the Supreme Court. Given the way things have been set up, there’s a reasonable chance that at least one of the conservative justices would uphold the ruling(s), gutting or overturning DOMA. It’s not over ’til the fat justice sings, but something significant is bound to happen during this SCOTUS year.

As the country grows increasingly supportive of marriage equality, the Republican tactics of marginalization look more vicious and archaic than ever. John Boehner’s House has spent nearly $1.5 MILLION in taxpayer funds to defend DOMA. He’s lost every time and has just about expended the whole amount budgeted for bigotry. Will he try to authorize more to argue his case before the Supreme Court?  To add to further to the tragedy that is Boehner, we have Presidential candidate Romney running on a platform to strip people of civil rights, specifically women, the LGBT community, and anyone that might fall into the sad 47%.

More on the Gay Agenda (Caution for readers)

11 Jul

I take my role as a gay man quite seriously and I know I have to abide by the “Gay Agenda” I signed up for when I “chose” to be gay.  It is a very ambitious day today and I only hope I can accomplish all that needs my attention.  (I feel rather bad for fierce LGBT allies like Jennifer Carey, and many of my other heterosexual friends, for I know my actions today may cause the demise of many a heterosexual marriage).

Monday, 6:20 am: Reveal the “Master Plan” on SJFA and delineate point by point the weapons of mass destruction from the Big Wheel at Homo Headquarters.

Here it is folks.  What you will read next is not for the faint of heart!

6:45:  Feed all four cats.  Oscar and Oliver both get surly if they are not fed in the morning, while Max will just get grumpy and Earnest decides to jump on countertops.

6:50: Go downstairs to wash all the breakfast dishes and then clean countertops and stove top. I will then proceed to go back upstairs and brush my teeth.  This is a complicated process. I like to brush first with a regular tooth brush. I then brush again with my electronic toothbrush which is followed by a thorough flossing.  Remember, flossing regularly  can add seven years to your life expectancy. After flossing I like to then use my waterpik.  I like to get all my toiletries out of the way before I shower.

8:00: Shave and then shower.  I like to moisturize after showering, so I put on sun screen on my face.  Then comes the blow drying and straightening of my hair, which starts at 8:25.

9:30: My hair is now somewhat straight and I’m ready to conquer the day, with every move I make I realize I am terrorizing and threatening heterosexual marriages everywhere.

Most of my morning will be talking with financial aid for school next year and running errands preparing for the school year.  Later this afternoon, I need to run to the grocery store and buy turkey and swiss cheese for dinners this week.

Upon returning home from my errands, I shall water all of our flowering plants and retrieve the mail.  I also need to clean out the shower basin and scrub the bathroom countertop. Vacuum all the cat hair from the runner downstairs. Change the litter box. Clean the refrigerator. Pick the basil from the garden for dinner tonight. Hopefully there will be time left in the day so I can get caught up on some reading.  I also need to return phone calls and write a couple of thank you notes. I’m trying to finish Jean Auel’s Shelters of Stone.  

When my husband returns from work, I shall make us dinner and then we will clean up after.  We may just throw caution to the wind this evening and watch the tv.  Yes, I’m feeling rather dare-devilish. I think we will watch a repeat of Modern Family (The Show of our people).

As the day progresses and I find that I have attended to other tasks, I shall update SJFA readers.  I suspect many of you have clutched your pearls after reading this rather aggressive diary. Alas, I cannot rest until we have full marriage equality and there is peace in our time.

Women’s History, January 31

31 Jan

First Female Supreme Court Justice

January 31, 2006, Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, retires. Justice O’Connor was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981.  O’Connor supported the fundamental right to abortion protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Many argue that O’Connor was the swing vote when the US Supreme Court voted George W. Bush as President of the United States. On December 12, 2000 at an Election Night party at the Washington, D.C., O’Connor’s husband was quoted: “his wife would be reluctant to retire if a Democrat were in the White House and would choose her replacement,” as reported in the Wall Street Journal. However conservative O’Connor is, she did support the justices in Iowa that supported same sex marriage. Unfortunately, those justices were ousted.

Happy Birthday, Tallulah Bankhead.  Bankhead best known for her sultry voice, was an actress, and radio/television host.

Happy Birthday, Carol Channing. Channing is probably best known for her role in Hello Dolly, but I loved her best in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Quote of the day:

    Making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence: to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationship, context.–Marilyn Ferguson


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