Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New California Poll Shows Strong Support for Equality

The most recent Field Poll finds a big increase in support for marriage equality among Californians. When Proposition 8 was passed in 2008 polls show very slim support for marriage equality: only 51% of voters favored the idea. At the ballot box, after a long, extremely dishonest campaign conducted by the National Organization for (sic) Marriage, the final vote was 52% against and 48% in favor of marriage equality. This was within the standard error rate for a poll of that size. Marriage equality polled 3 points below the best polling guess of 51%, but the error rate was 4.5%.

The newest Field Poll, however, shows support that is significant enough that equality would pass even if the entire error rates goes against supporting the measure. The current polls shows that 59% of voters approve of the idea, that is up 8 points since Proposition 8 passed. When these question was first asked in 1977 support stood at 28%. Opposition stood at a high in 1985 when 62% of voters opposed the idea. Today 34% oppose the idea.

Democrats support marriage equality 69% to 25%; independent voters support by 67% to 25%; and Republicans oppose the measure 55% to 39%. This shows some substantial changes since 2010. In the last two years support for equality increased by 1 percentage point among Democrats. Among Republicans the jump was 13 points, from 36% to 39%. Independents increased their support from 52% to 67%, an increase of 15 points. Even among self-identified conservatives support has increased from 20% to 30%.

Support has also increased among all age groups. Voters 18-39 support equality by 69%, which is up 8 points since 2010. Voters 50-65 support equality by 59%, up 13 points. And those 65 and older are now evenly split 45% to 45%, an increase of 3 points in the last two years.

Sixty percent of women support marriage equality while 58% of men do. A majority of white voters, 64%, support equality. Among Latino voters support is 53% and among Black voters and other minorities it 50% support.

Non-Christian believers support equality by 85%, the second highest level of support is from those with no religious preferences, 80%. Among Catholics 51% support equality and all Protestants are divided 45% in favor, 49% opposed, but I suspect if you broke this down you would find strong support in the more educated protestant sects and low support among the less-educated fundamentalists.

If voters are offered three choices: marriage, civil unions, or no legal representation, the support for legal recognition rises to 80% of the voters (51% for marriage, 29% for civil unions) with only 15% saying they want no legal representation whatsoever—which seems be to the position of the Republican Party.

Once again, polls indicate that young voters and independent voters are taking a libertarian position. This trend, across numerous issues, implies that these two groups in particular have been moving in a libertarian direction for some years.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Proposition 8 is Invalid, Appeals Court Rules

Today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Proposition 8, which stripped gay couples of the right to marry, is invalid and in violation of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

A synopsis of the ruling itself can be found at our main blog site.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Marriage equality moves ahead in New Jersey.

New Jersey is moving toward marriage equality and Republican Governor Chris Christie says that the voters would ratify if put a referendum.

Christie has been an opponent, but the feelings of this observer is that he is a reluctant opponent, shackled by the Religious Right of his own party. Christie's own sentiments, I suspect are more tolerant as indicated by his recent appointment of a black, gay man to the state Supreme Court.

Christie said: "The polls that I've seen show that if this goes to the ballot, I lose."

Recently the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a bill legalizing same-sex marriage to the Senate for a vote. Previously the Senate rejected the measure but several legislator have had a change of mind and the bill is expected to pass.

Christie says he will veto the bill and has asked legislators to pass a bill sending it to the voters—a favored way for cowardly legislators to avoid taking responsibility for their own postions.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Washington Senate Passes Marriage Equality

Today the Washington state Senate passed SB6239 which deregulated marriage to allow same-sex couples to enter marriage contracts. Republicans tried to delay by peppering the bill with proposed amendment, including one that said that legal officials who dislike same-sex marriage don't have to do their job. That one failed. Oddly, Republicans routinely decry marriage equality legislation, claiming it takes up important time for "important" issues. Yet, when they face such legislation they intentionally try to drag it out as long as possible, taking up yet even more time.

Republican  Don Benton chimed in claiming that marriage legislation is like gravity. Apparently he has grandiose visions of what legislation does. Contract laws, such as marriage contracts, are no the equivalent of gravity by any means. The pompous Benton said that "the great citizens of state" should decide if minorities have rights or not. But it was pointed out that when the legislature had previously banned same-sex marriages there was no demand by Republicans that the voters decide. (True, Republican support for referendums is not a matter of principle—whatever system is most likely to give them powers over the lives of others is what they seek.)

Republican Dan Swecker claimed the legislation will silence opponents to marriage equality. Of course, this is why there is no vocal opposition to equal rights in places like Iowa or New Hampshire, because same-sex marriage magically causes muteness among the bigoted. Democrat Jim Hargrove said he would vote against equal rights because his religion demands it. I guess he missed the part of swearing to uphold the Constitution and thought they said "uphold your church's theology" instead.

Sen. Steve Hobbs, said he was voting yes though he doesn't think his conservative district will like it. Hobbs said he served in the military with gay men and does so now in the National Guard. He said those soldiers were willing "to take a bullet for me" and that he didn't believe he could look them in the eye and tell them he voted against their equal rights. He said: "I will never leave a comrade behind."

The chief sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ed Murray, told the senators that no matter how they voted, he would invited them to his wedding to his partner, Michael Shiosaki when he was finally free to marry.

In the end the vote was 28 to 21, a comfortable margin for the legislation. Two additional Republicans voted to pass the bill. The antigay National Organization for (sic) Marriage had promised to spend $250,000 to defeat any Republican who dared vote for individual rights and liberty. This means they are on the hook for $1 million in extra spending in the state, if they remain true to their word. Given that they are having to spend huge sums in New York to defeat pro-freedom Republicans there, and the battles they are funding in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Iowa, New Hampshire and state-wide efforts in Washington, it will be an expensive year for bigotry.

A comfortable majority in the state House already has signed on to support the legislation and it is expected to pass there next week with the governor promising to sign the legislation. Religious bigots promise to repeal the measure and strip gay couples of their equal rights.

Meanwhile, it appears strongly likely that Maryland will also pass marriage equality in a short time.

Republicans in New Hampshire are trying to reimpose regulations on marriage to restrict it to a privileged class of heterosexuals only. Even the fraudulent Republican Liberty Caucus is joining in the call for more government control of marriage.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Referendum for Marriage Equality Filed in Maine

In Maine 105,000 signatures on petitions were filed requesting another vote on marriage equality. The group EqualityMaine gathered the signatures to place the measure before voters. A representative of the group, Betsy Smith, said that their polling indicates "a 54 percent majority" support the measure. In 2009 groups led by fundamentalist churches ran a campaign of misinformation to narrowly pass regulations denying gay couples the right to enter marriage contracts.

Rev. Bob Emrich, of the Emmanuel Bible Baptist Church, is promising to do the same again this year and is forming a coalition of fundamentalists Baptists and Catholics to try and and defeat equality of rights.

In the years since the last vote public polls have shown consistently growing support for marriage rights for gay couples. In March of last year Public Policy Polling found that 47% supported marriage equality and 45% opposed it. In November they found support had increased to 51% with 42% in opposition.

In recent weeks it has become clear that Washington state will pass marriage equality with all the votes needed in the legislature lined up. Maryland is on the cusp of doing so as well. The trend continues.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Washington State Set to Pass Marriage Equality

It's now all but official—the state of Washington looks set to pass marriage equality over the banshee-like wails of Maggie Gallagher, Jennifer Roback Morse, the National Organization of Marriage and others of that odious ilk.

Today Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen announced she too would support the measure. This means there are the 25 votes in the Senate necessary for passage. The votes are already lined up in the House and Gov. Chris Gregoire supports the measure. Haugen says she simply can not "deny to others the joys and benefits I enjoy. This is the right vote and it is the vote I will cast when this measure comes to the floor."

Rev. Ken Hutcherson denounced the legislature for "saying... you know better than God." God did appear at the hearing himself, just in case you were wondering.

NOM is threatening legislators who vote for the measure but only Republican legislators. NOM says they will channel $250,000 to any challenger. NOM refuses to say where their funds come from and has flouted the law repeatedly at the state and federal levels. Money is laundered through NOM to bigoted candidates with the actual donors kept secret—something no other organization is allowed to do, but then NOM does believe in the inequality of rights.

Fundamentalist hate groups are threatening to try to force a referendum asking the majority to approve that a minority have the same rights they do—something in violation with the essence of the American concept of limited government. But polls showed that a majority of voters said they would vote against repealing the measure. Washington will be the seventh state with marriage equality.

Microsoft Statement Supporting Marriage Equality

The following statement was posted on the Microsoft blog by Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft, on behalf of the company. 

Today, Microsoft is joining other Northwest employers Concur, Group Health, Nike, RealNetworks and Vulcan Inc. in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. We believe that passing this bill would be good for our business and good for the state’s economy. I wanted to take a few moments to explain why.

At Microsoft, we pride ourselves on our products and services, our brand, and our global reach. But unquestionably, our employees are our greatest asset.

To be successful, it’s critical that we have a workforce that is as diverse as our customers. Every day, the national and global economies are becoming more diverse. The lifeblood of a business is its ability to understand and connect with its customers. We’re no exception. Now more than ever, the most effective workforce is a diverse workforce.

While some of our employees literally grew up around the corner, others have come from every state and almost 150 countries around the world. They reflect virtually every background in the country and on the planet. They bring their creativity to work, and they put it to good use in developing new products and serving our customers. There simply is no substitute for their diverse backgrounds, perspectives, skills and experiences.

Inclusiveness is therefore a fundamental part of our values, and is integral to the company’s business success.

This means it’s important to go beyond simply forbidding discrimination; we strive to actively promote diversity, equality and inclusion in our workplace. In 1993, Microsoft became the first Fortune 500 company to provide same-sex domestic partnership benefits. For almost two decades, we’ve benefited from this support and the resulting contributions of our LGBT employees.

In addition to corporate policies supporting diversity and equality, we strive to engage in a thoughtful manner in public discussions on issues that have a significant impact on our employees and our business. For example, Microsoft supported legislation in Washington State prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as legislation expanding domestic partnership rights.

Our support today for Senate Bill 6239 and HB 2516, Washington’s marriage equality legislation, builds upon our previous work in this area.

As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits and their families. Employers in the technology sector face an unprecedented national and global competition for top talent. Despite progress made in recent years with domestic partnership rights, same-sex couples in Washington still hold a different status from their neighbors. Marriage equality in Washington would put employers here on an equal footing with employers in the six other states that already recognize the committed relationships of same-sex couples – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. This in turn will help us continue to compete for talent.

While Microsoft’s support for marriage equality is motivated by respect for our employees, we also respect the views of those who may not agree with our position. For example, we have many highly valued and highly successful employees who hold a wide range of views on this and many other issues. We’re not asking anyone to change their views to conform to the company’s position.

We also recognize that marriage has meaning as both a civil and a religious institution. Like the marriage equality bill passed last year in New York State with bipartisan and business support, this bill preserves religious freedom in Washington’s churches while ending discrimination in Washington law.

Like the New York bill, we believe Washington’s legislation should be passed into law. It will make our state and our economy stronger.