Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Human Rights, LGBT.
Tags: aids awareness, aids quilt, amy goodman, briggs initiative, castro street, cleve jones, clifford alexander, defense of marriage, Democracy Now, doma, don't ask don't tell, gay rights, gay rights activists, george moscone, harvey milk, human rights, lgbt, lgbt federal employees, lgbt rights, obama administration, obama gay, roger hollander, san francisco gay movement, sean penn, tammy baldwin
AMY GOODMAN: In recent days, many in the gay community have been sharply critical of the Obama administration’s positions on some of the hot-button issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and queer Americans across the country. On Wednesday, President Obama signed a memorandum to extend some, but not all, benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. Comprehensive healthcare, for example, is not included.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today I’m proud to issue a presidential memorandum that paves the way for long-overdue progress in our nation’s pursuit of equality. Many of our government’s hard-working and dedicated and patriotic public servants have long been denied basic rights that their colleagues enjoy for one simple reason: the people that they love are of the same sex.
Currently, for example, LGBT federal employees can’t always use sick leave to care for their domestic partners or their partners’ children. Their partners aren’t covered under long-term care insurance. Partners of American Foreign Service officers abroad aren’t treated the same way when it comes to the use of medical facilities or visitation rights in case of an emergency. And these are just some of the wrongs that we intend to right today. […]
It’s a day that marks a historic step towards the changes we seek, but I think we all have to acknowledge this is only one step. Among the steps we have not yet taken is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe it’s discriminatory, I think it interferes with states’ rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama’s promise to work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, Wednesday came one week after his administration filed a controversial legal brief supporting DOMA, an action which greatly disappointed activists fighting for marriage equality.
In a strongly worded letter to President Obama on Monday, Joe Solmonese, the president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, said, quote, “I cannot overstate the pain that we feel as human beings and as families when we read an argument, presented in federal court, implying that our own marriages have no more constitutional standing than incestuous ones.”
The President also has been criticized for not pushing more strongly for an end to the military’s discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Taken together, the administration’s actions have angered a number of gay rights activists. Some prominent voices in the community have decided not to attend a gala LGBT fundraiser for the Democratic Party next week, which Vice President Biden is expected to attend.
Well, I’m now joined by one of the giants of the gay rights and AIDS awareness movements. Cleve Jones is the founder of the NAMES Project, the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and the co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. In the 1970s in San Francisco, Cleve Jones was a close friend of the pioneering gay rights leader, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. In fact, he found his body under his desk as he was shot dead in his office. Cleve Jones worked as a student intern for Milk after he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
More recently, Cleve served as a historical consultant to Gus Van Sant’s award-winning film MILK, and he works with UNITE HERE to strengthen the growing coalition between the labor movement and the LGBT community. Now Cleve is planning a national equality march on Washington for October 11th, National Coming Out Day, to call for equal rights for the LGBT community.
Cleve Jones, Welcome to Democracy Now!
CLEVE JONES: Thank you. My pleasure.
AMY GOODMAN: There has been a lot of action in the Obama administration in the last few days. Is it really because there’s this big fundraiser planned and some of the leading gay rights activists and donors are pulling out?
CLEVE JONES: Well, of course, I can’t get inside their heads, though I’ve wanted to very much over the last couple of weeks. I think the people pulling out of the fundraiser is part of it. I think the momentum building for the march on October 11th is part of it. I think that they understand that the anger and frustration is not diminishing, it’s getting much stronger.
We’re really baffled by this. You know, we voted in enormous numbers for Obama. We want very much to believe that he has our best interest, as well as the entire country’s, in his heart. But he seems to be continuing this really hurtful policy of doling out increments of rights, fractions of equality. And I think our movement is really beyond that at this point. We’re tired of this state-by-state, county-by-county, city-by-city struggle for fractions of equality. And this latest thing, this is really just crumbs. And it’s disheartening to see so many of the leaders of our community standing there behind him while he sprinkles out these crumbs.
AMY GOODMAN: One of those who was there was Tammy Baldwin, well-known lesbian Congress member. She will not be boycotting the fundraiser. She said she’ll be there, but she’ll bring the concerns of those who are boycotting. And she, too, is deeply concerned.
This memo that he signed, it was late in the day. Not to be confused with an executive order, it means whatever of the limited rights that were granted expire on the day President Obama leaves office. And we’re not talking about healthcare here for federal employees who are gay or lesbian—visiting rights, I guess he said, to the hospital.
CLEVE JONES: Well, it feels like Clinton all over again. You know, Bill Clinton gave wonderful speeches and told of his vision of a country, a vision that he claimed included us, and what we got out of that was the Defense of Marriage Act and “don’t ask, don’t tell.” So, what we’re getting now from President Obama are flowery proclamations, probably a few key appointments for some of our more powerful community members, and very little for ordinary people.
And on this issue of healthcare, I think it’s ironic that this memorandum does not extend healthcare benefits. But that’s also an example of an area where my community could be very helpful, I think, in helping to build support for the President’s healthcare package. My community cares deeply about access to healthcare. So much of the impetus for marriage rights has really come out of our experience with the epidemic, so we certainly would be a staunch ally in his efforts to provide affordable healthcare to all Americans. So I feel that he’s burning some bridges rather rapidly.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play a clip from this past year’s Academy Awards. Actor Sean Penn, who won an Oscar for his role as Harvey Milk in the film MILK, talked about equality and gay marriage in his acceptance speech.
SEAN PENN: For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Sean Penn, who played Harvey Milk, won the Oscar for that. We’re going to be talking about “don’t ask, don’t tell” in a minute.
We’ll be speaking with the first African American Secretary of the Army, Clifford Alexander, who is a strong proponent of Congress repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But I wanted to go back in time a bit. Actually, Harvey Milk graduated from my high school, from Bay Shore High in Long Island. But you met Harvey decades ago. You have devoted your life to helping to fulfill his dream. Can you just talk for a moment about what that dream is, and your experiences with Harvey, how you met him, the assassinated San Francisco City Supervisor?
CLEVE JONES: Well, I met Harvey on Castro Street back in 1975. I was pretty much a street kid. He got me off the street. He got me to go to school, got me to cut my hair, get a job. He was a great father figure.
AMY GOODMAN: When was this?
CLEVE JONES: I got to San Francisco at the end of 1972. I met him in passing but didn’t really pay attention to him until probably ’75. And then, when I came back from a couple of years of hitchhiking around the world, it was 1977 and his last campaign and the campaign against the Briggs Initiative. And that’s when we got close.
AMY GOODMAN: Which was…? The Briggs Initiative?
CLEVE JONES: The Briggs Initiative was a really hateful initiative. It was a referendum to require the dismissal of all gay and lesbian schoolteachers—or actually, not just teachers, anyone working in the school district, plus any heterosexual who supported their rights. It was a bitter fight that we won statewide in California thirty years ago against many of the same people who opposed us with Proposition 8 this past year.
And, you know, Harvey had a message of liberation and equality, but he also was very critical of the established gay leadership at the time and said that they were all too willing to accept crumbs, to accept compromises. I think Harvey understood clearly that every time our community accepts compromises or delays, we are really participating in undermining our own humanity. No other group of people would settle for fractions of equality. There is no fraction of equality. You are an equal people, or you are not. So, I am—
AMY GOODMAN: He was the first openly gay elected official in the United States?
CLEVE JONES: Actually, I want to correct that. He is known to be the first openly gay, but in fact I believe that honor goes to a woman named Elaine Noble, who had been elected to the Massachusetts state legislature two years prior. And then there were two members of the Ann Arbor city council who came out after they had been elected. But he was, I think—I think his significance was as our first really shared public martyr. There are many martyrs to this cause, but he was the one whose name became known.
AMY GOODMAN: And explain, for those who aren’t familiar with what happened to Harvey Milk—extremely outspoken fighting for gay rights, as well as just for everyone in San Francisco—the day he was killed and who he was killed by.
CLEVE JONES: Yeah. He predicted his death. In the film, when you see him making this tape recording predicting his assassination, that wasn’t contrived. He actually believed that. I used to tease him about it and tell him he wasn’t important enough to be assassinated.
But he was killed by a former colleague, a former member of the Board of Supervisors, a former police officer, a man named Dan White, who was very troubled and, I think, clearly confused about homosexuality, homophobic. I don’t want to claim that I have any great insight into what was going on in his mind, but he was very troubled and very much in over his head in the day-to-day dealings of the Board of Supervisors. And he assassinated both Harvey Milk and our mayor, a wonderful man named George Moscone, on November 27th, 1978.
AMY GOODMAN: And it was you who was walking towards Harvey Milk’s office, when you saw?
CLEVE JONES: I was outside of City Hall when the shootings occurred and was frightened by all of the confusion over towards the mayor’s office, which is on the other side of City Hall. And I let myself in through the back door to the supervisors’ chambers and found his body there. And then—
AMY GOODMAN: Recognized his feet?
CLEVE JONES: Yeah, Harvey only had one pair of dress shoes, these old battered wingtips.
You know, it was terrible. It was terrible. And I remember thinking all day long, it’s over, everything’s over. You know, he was really a father figure to me. I’m very close to my actual father, but at the time I was estranged from my family. And he was so kind to me, and he was our leader. And all day long, I just kept thinking it’s over, until the sun went down, and San Franciscans, gay and straight, young and old, black and brown and white, began to gather by the tens of thousands and lit their candles and marched down to City Hall. And then I knew it was really just beginning.
AMY GOODMAN: And now, decades later, you are organizing this march on Washington. You were also the co-founder of the AIDS Quilt. And talk about the significance of that and how it’s led into this mass march.
CLEVE JONES: Yes, I’ve had a lot of experience organizing protests and demonstrations. But, you know, back in the ’80s when the pandemic was so horrifying and so many of my friends were dying, I was struggling with new ways to try to communicate to the media and to the public and the politicians about what was happening to my community. And I was also obsessed with the reality that most of my friends were dying, and it seemed to me that we were all going to die and leave no trace. And my friends were brilliant people. You know, had they lived, they would be taking home Emmys and Pulitzers and Nobels and sitting in the Senate and the House of Representatives. And so, I was struggling with a way to break through the stupidity and cruelty and ignorance, that still hampers our planet’s response to this pandemic.
And I was at a protest where we climbed up the walls of the Federal Building in San Francisco and covered it with names of people who had died. And as I looked at that patchwork of names, I thought it looks like a quilt and thought immediately of my grandma, my great-grandma back in Bee Ridge, Indiana. And it worked.
I think it’s important to go to Washington. And we’re going back on October 11th. We’re not taking a quilt. We’re not having a rock concert. It’s not going to be Lollapalooza. It’s going to be a demonstration, a protest. It is not against President Obama. It is for equality. And it’s for shifting the strategy.
Back when Harvey Milk was alive, we had no choice with the strategy. There were only a few pockets in the entire country where we could gain any rights at all. When I came out of the closet, it was a felony to engage in sexual behavior with another person of the same sex. People went to prison. People committed suicide. People were arrested regularly and prosecuted. For young people, it may be bizarre to hear this, but it was illegal for us to dance. Two people of the same gender were forbidden by law from dancing. You could be arrested for that. So, in the ’70s, we took whatever we could get. In a small college town like Ann Arbor or Madison, you know, you might be able to get some kind of job protection.
But that was a long time ago, and we’re not putting up with that anymore. We want full equality, which I define as being equal protection under the law in all matters governed by civil law in all fifty states. It’s the Fourteenth Amendment. It’s the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. That’s what we want.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Cleve Jones, who’s organizing a mass march for gay equality on October 11th in Washington, DC.
Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, LGBT.
Tags: andrew sullivan, broken promises obama, california supreme court, civil unions, equal justice, gay marriage, gay rights, glass ceiling, human rights, joan venochi, lesbian rights, lgbt, lgbt rights, Obama, obama promises, Prop 8, proposition 8, robert gibbs, roger hollander, same-sex marriage
As President Obama attended a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton, activists rallied outside the hotel, speaking out against Proposition 8 and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. (Photo: Reuters)
28 May 2009
by: Joan Vennochi | Visit article original @ The Boston Globe
President Obama had much to say about the glass ceiling he is smashing on behalf of Hispanics and nothing to say about the glass ceiling the California Supreme Court is reimposing on gays.
On Tuesday, Obama announced that he would nominate Sonia Sotomayor, a federal appeals judge in New York, to the Supreme Court. In nominating the daughter of Puerto Rican parents to become the nation’s first Hispanic justice, Obama said that when she “ascends those marble steps to assume her seat on the highest court of the land, America will have taken another important step towards realizing the idea that is etched above its entrance: equal justice under the law.”
Those are stirring words, and ironic ones, too, given the day’s other momentous judicial news: The California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, last year’s ballot initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Asked about that ruling, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he had not spoken to Obama about it, and added, “The issues involved are ones that, ah, you know where the president stands.”
On gay rights, as with other controversial issues, Obama stands where it’s politically smart to stand. He finds the political sweet spot that placates the left and doesn’t alienate the middle.
Obama supports civil unions, not same-sex marriage, a position he embraced as a national candidate. Earlier this year, the political website politico.com produced a questionnaire Obama filled out in 1996 for a Chicago gay and lesbian newspaper. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” Obama wrote in a typed, signed statement.
In what is becoming a pattern, his thinking evolved to a less-liberal stance. As president, Obama has been less than eager to take up a campaign pledge to grant equal federal rights for gay couples; or to reconsider the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. As Andrew Sullivan, a prominent blogger and gay rights advocate, recently wrote: “I have a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach and the feeling deepens with every interaction with the Obama team on these issues. They want them to go away. They want us to go away.”
A year ago, the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples enjoyed the same right to marry as opposite-sex couples. The decision led to Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and eventually won 52 percent of the vote last November. With this week’s ruling, gay marriage advocates pledge to put the issue before California voters yet again.
In Massachusetts, the first state to recognize a legal right to same-sex marriage and the state that stopped a gay marriage referendum from going to the ballot, there is also disappointment with Obama.
Representative Carl M. Sciortino Jr. of Somerville, who went to California to work against Proposition 8, said, “What was frustrating at the time was that Candidate Obama never showed up in California and said, ‘That’s an outrage … it goes too far.’” Now, said Sciortino, “I do hope for and want to see our national leaders being more aggressive in saying discrimination is wrong and the Constitution should not be used to discriminate.”
By upholding Proposition 8 in a 6-to-1 ruling, the California Supreme Court did Obama a favor – for now. Just as Obama was nominating a Supreme Court nominee whose detractors are trying to frame her as a liberal activist, California’s highest court declared ‘that our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board celebrated “that sigh of judicial restraint.” Imagine if a majority of justices instead shared the view of the lone dissenter, Justice Carlos R. Moreno, who wrote, “The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry … it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities.”
That’s a stirring call for equal justice under the law – what Obama said he believes in with Sotomayor at his side.
Posted by rogerhollander in California, Human Rights.
Tags: california history, California Prop 8, california supreme court, civil right, civil union, gay marriage, gay rights, harvey milk, human rights, iowa caucuses, iowa gay marriage, iowa history, jodi mardesich, lambda, lesbian rights, lgbt rights, loving v. virginia, one iowa, propostion 8, roger hollander, same-sex marriage, Varnum v. Brien, vermont gay marriage
AP Photo/Steve Pope
Shannon Morgan of Minnesota, left, Riane Menardi of Wyoming, and Brittnany Swanson, also of Minnesota, rally in support of the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, on April 3 in Des Moines, Iowa.
By Jodi Mardesich
www.salon.com, April 15, 2009
How same-sex unions triumphed in Iowa, and what other states can learn from the victory.
April 15, 2009 | Iowa is known for its sweeping cornfields and pigs, fed by those vast amounts of corn. The landlocked state in the heartland isn’t exactly recognized as cutting edge or socially progressive, though its presidential caucuses do tend to predict the outcome of presidential races, as they did most recently with the selection of Barack Obama.
But with its Supreme Court decision in Varnum v. Brien, making it the third state to legalize same-sex marriage, Iowa is shedding its image as cornfed conservative. After the decision was announced April 3, about 1,000 people rallied in Western Gateway Park in Des Moines to celebrate, and Iowans showed their personality by toting signs, like “Corn Fed and Ready to Wed,” and even nodding to the coast: “This One’s for You, California.”
California, which at one time seemed destined to be the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, meanwhile awaits a decision from its Supreme Court on the validity of Proposition 8. The controversial ballot initiative, passed by a narrow margin in November, outlawed same-sex marriage, which had just been legalized via a California Supreme Court decision the previous May.
In fact, in the space of five days this month, the number of states where gays and lesbians can legally wed doubled, when Vermont and Iowa joined trendsetters Massachusetts and Connecticut. Vermont’s approval of same-sex marriage on April 7 was not surprising. After all, Vermont pioneered civil unions in the U.S. in 2000.
Vermonters have had nine years to observe that allowing gays and lesbians to enter into legally binding partnerships did not herald the end of the world. Fire and brimstone didn’t rain down on the land, plagues didn’t smite their iconic maple trees and most important of all, children in these nontraditional families were just as well-adjusted as their peers with straight parents.
The paths to legalizing same-sex marriage are quite different in Iowa, Vermont and California. Iowa, like Massachusetts in 2004 and Connecticut in 2008, relied on Supreme Court decisions to change the law. Vermont’s law, on the other hand, was voted in by the state Senate and House of Representatives, promptly vetoed by Gov. Jim Douglas, and then overridden by the Vermont Legislature. At first glance, the Iowa Supreme Court’s vote may appear surprising, especially to the-world-revolves-around-me Californians, but Iowa has an impressive history of pioneering civil rights legislation.
Iowa abolished slavery in 1839, 26 years before the passage of the 13th amendment in 1865. Iowa disallowed separate but equal racial segregation in schools in 1868, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of education outlawed it nationally. And in 1873, Iowa again protected racial minorities, extending anti-discrimination to public accommodations, 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court. Iowa was also the first state to allow women to practice law. “I think Iowa’s tradition played a big role in the victory,” said Camilla Taylor, lead counsel for Lambda Legal, which represented the couples seeking to marry in Iowa.
It’s a good thing that laws aren’t always left to the people. In Iowa, if the amendment had been put to a popular vote, as it was in California, it probably would not have passed. According to a University of Iowa Hawkeye telephone poll just before the Iowa Supreme Court vote, 26.2 percent of respondents said they supported gay marriage, and 27.9 percent opposed marriage but supported civil unions, while 36.7 percent opposed both. However, the younger voters were more accepting. Talk about a generational divide — among voters under 30, 60 percent supported gay marriage, and 75 percent supported formal recognition of gay relationships.
California’s position on marriage equality has lobbed back and forth. It has been defined through popular vote (2000′s Proposition 22, which defined marriage as a contract between a man and a woman), a maverick decision (San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom’s short-lived permission in 2004 for gays and lesbians to marry) and a Supreme Court decision annulling those marriages. And that was just the beginning; in 2008, a Supreme Court decision reversed Proposition 22 and allowed same-sex marriages again. Then came another popular vote — Proposition 8, which reversed the Supreme Court ruling and left about 18,000 couples who wed between May and November of last year to wonder if their marriages are valid.
Despite California’s reputation as freethinking and liberal — it was the first state to recognize domestic partnerships in 1999 — it has its own conservative heartland, the Central Valley, and Republican enclaves like Orange County that tarnish that reputation. Public opinion is divided — some polls show the majority opposing same-sex marriage, while others show the opposite. But polls in Iowa, California and Vermont show that among the younger voters, the majority favor marriage equality. All three states have this in common: They have a history of being on the forefront of civil liberties legislation.
California was the first state to dismantle anti-miscegenation laws in 1948 with Perez v. Sharp, 19 years before the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed it in Loving v. Virginia — a very unpopular ruling at the time. The first Gallup poll on the subject, ten years after California’s landmark decision, revealed an astonishing 94 percent of Americans still opposed interracial marriage. Even ten years later, after the federal decision, 72 percent opposed it, according to Marriage Equality USA. Vermont never enacted anti-miscegenation laws, and was the first to abolish slavery.
The decision in Loving v. Virginia relied on the concept of equal protection found in the U.S. Constitution and that of all 50 states. It calls marriage one of the “basic civil rights of man,” and states that “to deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.”
Supporters of same-sex marriage believe it is a civil rights issue, and hope that the courts will enforce existing laws. “It’s not that we need a new constitution,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry. “We just need a renewed commitment. Properly enforced, the existing equal protection would require equality.” So what worked in Iowa and Vermont? Activists and legislators made the issue personal, taking a cue from Harvey Milk, who advocated that people tell their stories.
One Iowa, an organization formed in 2006, just after Lambda Legal filed Varnum v. Brien, began holding forums across the state, in big cities and small towns, bringing together same-sex couples, legal scholars and people of faith to talk about the importance of marriage equality. Justin Uebelhor, communications director for One Iowa, said the group recognized the need to build support for marriage equality.
“We needed those folks to contact their elected officials,” he said, which they did, both before and after the vote. Lambda attorneys used a new strategy when they filed the case in Iowa: They included children of the couples as plaintiffs. They also called psychologists. “We took a lot of care in making as complete a record as possible of the social science of gay and lesbian parenting,” Taylor said. In light of the New York court’s 2006 decision against same-sex marriage that relied in part on “intuition” that children would be better off with a mother and a father (how many families lack one of those?), Lambda included statements from child development and other experts to make the case that children of gay and lesbian parents are just as well-adjusted as children of heterosexual parents.
This strategy to make things personal appears to be helping. The National Organization for Marriage launched a $1.5 million advertising campaign that included broadcasting the fear-mongering “The Gathering Storm,” which claims that same-sex marriage will infringe the rights of straight people. The video, denounced by gay rights activists, is intended to encourage Iowans to pass a law to dismantle the ruling.
When the embarrassing audition tapes showed up on YouTube, revealing that the people talking about their fear of the darkness were actors, NOM requested the video’s removal. To undo the Supreme Court’s ruling, Iowans would have to amend their constitution. So far, Iowans have not persuaded legislators to introduce a bill to negate same-sex marriage in the state. In order to change the state constitution, the Legislature must vote on the issue in two separate years. It appears unlikely that the current Legislature, which is about to end its 2008-2009 session, will vote on it, meaning that it could be changed by 2012 at the earliest.
Vermont activists, including an organization called Vermont Freedom to Marry, took a similar approach. “We had frank discussions with people: I am gay and I am your neighbor and I am your farmer and I want the same rights that you have,” said Jason Lorber, an openly gay state representative from Burlington. “In California, I don’t think those discussions took place.” California has a population of 38 million. Vermont, at 600,000, is smaller than San Francisco.
Now, attention is turning back to California, where the state Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling by early June on whether Proposition 8 is valid. The California constitution can be changed in two ways: through amendments and revisions. The amendment process is designed for ordinary changes, and can be done through the Legislature or through a signature collection that leads to a vote of the people. “California has an unusually low threshold for changing the constitution,” Wolfson said.
The California Supreme Court is currently deciding whether Proposition 8 was simply an amendment or a revision that should have gone through a more rigorous process. “It’s hard to imagine anyone considering the idea of equal protection a mere amendment,” Wolfson says. “Writing out the rights of a minority is a revision.” And if it was a revision, it’s invalid, Lambda’s Taylor said. “We firmly believe it is a revision — it redraws equal protection to permit the exclusion of some people from the guarantee of equality based on a simple majority vote.” Yet in a hearing March 6, it appeared that some Supreme Court justices were hesitant to go against the will of the people. Their decision is expected by early June.
Adding to the momentum, this Thursday, New York’s Gov. David Paterson plans to introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriages in the state. “We’ve got New Hampshire coming up for vote, New York and New Jersey. We’ve got momentum on our side, and we’ve got time on our side,” Lorber said. “When you talk to youth, they just don’t even get what the controversy is all about.”
Iowa’s choices in recent presidential caucuses have made it a bellwether of sorts in presidential races — hence the saying, “As Iowa goes, so goes the nation.” The Iowa decision is important precisely because it’s in the heartland, Taylor said. “It highlights for the nation that marriage equality across the country is inevitable. It’s simply a matter of time and we still have some years to struggle, but we’ve turned the corner as a nation.”
Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Uncategorized.
Tags: anti-war, bayard rustin, charles merrill, Civil Rights, civil rights movement, discrimination, equality, evangelical bigots, faith based, gandhi, gay rights, human rights, john bisceglia, lesbian rights, lgbt rights, non violence, non-violent resistance, quakers, roger hollander, souther baptist bigots, tax protests, tax revolt, war resister
“I agree all citizens should pay their taxes if they are treated as equals and receive all of the benefits and privileges allowed as U.S. heterosexual citizens. For those of us not allowed 100% of the rights and benefits due to E.N.D.A., D.O.M.A., D.A.D.T., objection to the war, etc., we should protest the unfair discrimination dictated by the majority. If we really believe in our cause we will risk going to prison, otherwise the cause is not worth fighting for. Why should we help pay for Faith Based programs of Southern Baptists and other evangelical groups that discriminate against us and refuse to hire us?
I am a great admirer of the unsung hero Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin the main brain in back of the Civil Rights movement. He was a War Tax Resister and Quaker which means he protested war as he saw the injustice against humanity, The 60′s Civil Rights movement was stimulated by economic struggles and withholding taxes were not a strategy but a bus boycott was.
Rustin travelled to India and studied Gandhi’s non violent resistance and salt tax protests to free India. Would Bayard Rustin be a tax protestor today for LGBT equal rights? Absolutely. Not everyone can go this protest route and keep their jobs or non-profit tax exemptions, but those self-employed and retirees who can, should. Rustin’s biography is here. Talk about a hero, his story made into a film would make Milk look weak in comparison. Because he was gay and belonged to the communist party briefly, Black faith based Civil Rights groups keep his name hushed.”
His bio, my hero: Bayard Rustin
from a comment on The Bilerico Project by Charles Merrill
Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: affirmation, anti-gay, California Prop 8, Civil Rights, civil union bill illinois, civil unions, feminist mormon housewives, gay marriage, gay mormon groups, gay rights, human rights, illinois legislature, lds, lesbian rights, lgbt, lgbt rights, Mormon Church, proposition 8, religious bigotry, roger hollander, tanya ganeva, transgender rights
Posted by Tana Ganeva, AlterNet at 2:28 PM on March 4, 2009.
Apparently not satisfied with merely screwing over gays and lesbians in California, the Mormon Church is currently mobilizing its extremely productive, teetotaling followers to block civil unions for same-sex couples in Illinois.
On Tuesday the Church sent out an email alerting LDS faithful to a civil unions bill set to go before the Illinois legislature tomorrow. The letter calls on followers to blast legislators with calls and letters opposing the measure.
Why is the Mormon Church so deeply alarmed by civil unions legislation in Illinois? Because it will shatter social mores and crush the innocence of children. Duh.
According to the letter:
This bill will legalize civil unions in the state of Illinois, and will treat such civil unions with the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits as are afforded within marriage. In other words, civil unions will be different in name only from marriage. As has already been seen in Massachusetts, this will empower the public schools to begin teaching this lifestyle to our young children regardless of parental requests otherwise. It will also create grounds for rewriting all social mores; the current push in Massachusetts is to recognize and legalize all transgender rights (An individual in Massachusetts can now change their drivers license to the gender they believe themselves to be, regardless of actual gender, which means that confused men and women are now legally entering one another’s bathrooms and locker rooms. What kind of a safety issue is this for our children?). Furthermore, while the bill legalizes civil unions, it will be used in the courts to show discrimination and will ultimately lead to court mandated same-sex marriages.
The Mormon church recently attracted controversy for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in its push to pass California’s discriminatory Prop. 8. Critics argued that the Church had overstepped its legal bounds by directly interfering in the legislative process (in a state other than Utah, no less). But I guess depriving minorities of fundamental civil rights is too important to leave to the government.
p.s. It needs to be said that not all Mormons support the Church’s bigoted stance towards gays. For example, the group Feminist Mormon Housewives took on the Church on their blog over Prop. 8. There are also gay Mormon groups, such as Affirmation, whose members identify with LDS teachings but reject the Church’s attitude towards LGBT people. Affirmation writes in its about page: “We rejoice in life. We reject the tyranny that would have us believe that who we are — gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender — is evil or wrong. We affirm that we are all children of loving Heavenly Parents.”
Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights.
Tags: anti-gay, bigotry, chris buttars, gay rights, human rights, human rights campaign, lesbian rights, lgbt rights, roger hollander, utah, utah state senate
February 20, 2009
“They’re probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of.”
So what’s America’s greatest threat? The weakest economy in 80 years? Widespread layoffs, bank collapses, meltdown in the auto industry and a housing crisis?
Not according to Utah State Sen. Chris Buttars. In a recent interview obtained by HRC, he says America’s greatest threat is the LGBT community. He goes on to call lesbian and gay relationships “abominations” and claims LGBT people lack morals.
Just appalling. We need to make sure that these kinds of remarks by a public official do not go unanswered.
Words matter. They can’t just be laughed or shrugged off. In the interview, Sen. Buttars calls LGBT people “the meanest buggers I’ve ever seen” – this kind of rhetoric creates an atmosphere of hatred that incites violence against LGBT Americans.
Here are a few more lowlights from Buttars’ vile rant:
- LGBT people “are destroying the Constitution.”
- Their “number one goal is to proselytize to youth” and use schools as “a recruiting station.”
- Thanks to them we are, “moving toward a society that has no morals.”
- They will “destroy the foundation of American society… In my mind, it is the beginning of the end.”
What’s more, Sen. Buttars also takes clear pride in saying he’s “killed” every piece of pro-equality legislation in Utah for eight years.
These remarks were not made behind closed doors, but openly and unapologetically in a January 30th on-camera interview with filmmaker Reed Cowen, taped in Buttars’ official Senate office.
Sadly, hateful speech is nothing new to Buttars. During debate over a school-funding bill last year, he said “This baby is black… It’s a dark, ugly thing,” sparking the NAACP to call for his resignation.
Will Utah’s leaders hold Sen. Buttars accountable? Will they tolerate shameless bigotry in their chamber?
Then tell your friends about Sen. Buttars’ outrageous comments and ask them to write in too.
There’s no lie too hateful, no tactic too low, for right-wing bigots to use in their campaign against LGBT rights and freedoms.
The only one who can stop them is you. Thank you for taking action.