Tag Archives: Washington

Arlene’s Flower Shop of Hate…

15 Apr
I love Jesus, but I'm against civil rights.

I love Jesus, but I’m against civil rights.

The State of Washington has filed a lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flower Shop for unlawful discrimination. Stutzman, who was perfectly happy to have a gay couple as customers for years, declined to provide flowers for their wedding.  Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said:

…it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington. Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation.  If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same sex couples the same product or service.

Stutzman has stated that she is not homophobic and that she has gay friends and gay employees, but she cannot do a “gay wedding because of her relationship with Jesus Christ.”  I guess, Jesus says it is okay to take money from gay folk up until they want equal rights for marriage — I’m not sure what book in the bible says that, but I’m sure it must be in there somewhere.  I also always love the reply, “but some of my best friends are (fill in the appropriate targeted/marginalized population).  If Stutzman really does have gay employees, I hope they are able to escape and work someplace else.

Now the rather sticky issue of the law.  While the law most certainly does provide for freedom of religion, the other part (usually and most conveniently forgotten) is that religion may not preclude people’s civil rights in the public sphere.  Stutzman’s religion also used to reject miscegenation. Does this mean she can reject an interracial marriage?  No one is asking Frau Stutzman to abandon her relationship with Jesus.  We are asking that she respect the law and allow civil rights for all humans — I guess that idea of civil rights has not reached her Jesus yet.

A Matter of Civil Rights…

6 Oct

Thank you to my dear friend Eva for inspiring me to post this.  Get a kleenex folks–you will need one.

Marriage Equality Poised for Historic Gains in November

15 Sep

This November voters in four states are poised to make historic votes on marriage equality. Maine, Maryland and Washington have voter initiatives to create full marriage equality; Minnesota faces the latest in a decade-long string of state constitutional amendments to limit marriage to heterosexuals. What makes the 2012 elections especially interesting is the history of marriage equality votes. No state so far has adopted marriage equality through direct voter approval, depending instead on legislatures and courts. More significantly, all 28 states that have presented voters with constitutional amendments to ban equality have succeeded. It seems very likely that this November will see a major shift in these trends.

MAINE: In 2009, the Maine legislature approved marriage equality, replacing the existing limited civil union law. Anti-gay forces pushed the law to the ballot and defeated it 53-to-47. Since then, Mainers United for Marriage has worked diligently to change hearts and minds through a massive public education campaign. Question One on the November ballot will give voters a chance to re-establish full marriage equality in the state. The most recent poll shows the Question passing 57-to-35.

MARYLAND: Maryland also has limited civil union rights; it is also one of only three states that recognizes same sex marriages from other jurisdictions. Last March after strong lobbying from Marylanders for Marriage Equality and other groups, the legislature approved a marriage equality bill which was signed by the Governor. It was promptly referred to the ballot by anti-gay organizations as Question 6. Equality is polling strong in Maryland as well, at 57-to-37; it received a big boost — especially among the state’s African American population — when President Obama expressed his support in May.

WASHINGTON: Earlier this year Governor Christine Gregoire pushed the legislature to pass a marriage equality bill, which it did. As with Maryland, the bill was promptly referred to the voters as Referendum 74. Washington United for Marriage has mounted a strong public awareness campaign that also seems to be paying off. A poll released this week shows equality leading 56-to-33.

MINNESOTA: Unlike previous congressional election years, there is only one state with a marriage ban on the ballot this year. Minnesota is one of the few states with no law regarding same sex marriage at all. The Republican-led majority in the legislature passed an amendment in 2011 which requires approval by the voters. Minnesotans United for All Families is working hard to make their state the first to reject such an amendment. The vote on this measure is tighter, but the ban seems to be failing 43-to-49 in the latest polls.

True equality can only happen when the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is overturned and every citizen of every state has the right to marry the person they love. With every poll putting equality outside the margin of error and with most surviving even if all the undecideds swing negative, there is reason for optimism. Victory in just one state would be revolutionary; providing and protecting equality in all four would signal a sea change in American attitudes.

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.

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