Monday, December 26, 2011

Virginia Inches Toward Marriage Equality

A bare majority of Virginia voters say they oppose gay marriage, just 53%. This is according to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling. Virginians tend to be conservative. The poll shows that only 24% define themselves as very liberal, or somewhat liberal, compared to 42% who are in the conservative camp. One third, 34%, say they are moderates.

34% of voters there fully support marriage equality. Only 38% of Virginians oppose any kind of legal recognition for gay couples while 28% will accept marriage-lite, in the form of civil unions. Total support for some sort of legal recognition of same-sex relationships stands 62%.

The key for the direction in which is going is the total percentage supporting both civil unions and full marriage equality. All the trends have shown that people who support civil unions start coming around to full marriage rights rather quickly. Civil unions are the half-way house for people, where they pause and take a breath before embracing full equality.

There are also reasons to suspect that support for marriage equality is higher than they indicate in this poll. According to their site 20% of the people they polled are over the age of 65, a generation that is very unsupportive of equal rights. But, according to the US Census, 12.2% of the state population falls into this age category. And it appears that younger voters, who tend to favor marriage equality, were under polled. About 20% of the population falls into that age group, but only 14% in this poll did. In general older voters were over represented in the poll.

Even among those who define themselves as "very conservative" 17% say they support either marriage equality or civil unions. For those who are "somewhat conservative" the figure jumps to 46%. For moderates it is 70%, for "somewhat liberal" it is 87% and for "very liberal" it drops to 78%. Among women support for legal recognition was 61%, for men it was 56%. And according to political identification, 70% of Democrats favor some form of marriage equality—41% for full equality and 29% for civil unions. For Republicans 14% support marriage equality and 25% support civil unions, a totla of 39%. With independent voters the total is 37% for marriage, 29% for civil unions, or 66% support for one of the two.

The trending is all in the right direction which means it is just a mater of time before full marriage equality has majority support in Virginia.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Uncomfortable Questions for the DOMA Defenders.

There are numerous court cases that are investigating the legality of the sort of discriminatory policies which where imposed by the Defense of Marriage Act.  The Republican congress passed a measure to spend millions of taxpayer’s dollars in order to defend this intrusive regulation. They even created a misnamed  Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to handle defending the undefendable.

 One of the cases winding its way through the coursts is Golinski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The court that will be hearing the case has asked BLAG and attorneys for Golinski to address numerous questions in a hearing scheduled for December 16. These are all good questions and we are reprinting them here, though in shorter format geared for non-legal audiences. These questions get to the heart of DOMA and why it was such a radical assault on the traditional separation of powers between the states and the federal government. I shall be curious to see how the Republicans answer these question and what mental gymnastics will be required for them to justify this unprecedented attack on the federalist principles that apply to marriage laws.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mr. Santorum: Are you an idiot, or do you just play one on television?

Santorum demonstrates health classes after marriage equality.
No doubt Rick Santorum thought speaking at a Christian college made him safe from annoying questions. Jason Kornelias, who just graduated from the college, asked Santorum about his stand on marriage equality for same-sex couples and compared it to the opposition to interracial marriage that restricted the rights of Americans in the past.

Santorum was confused when Kornelias said he couldn't think of any way that equal marriage rights would "be a hit to faith and family in America." Santorum then tried to concoct an answer. He said that if marriage equality was passed then "their sexual activity," we presume same-sex couples, would be seen as "equal." And then it would be taught in the schools.

I was unaware that classes teach sexual activity. I know they teach health and they teach the risks for various sexual practices, or exaggerate them in the case of the abstinence classes the Religious Right pushed through. But they don't teach sexual activity. They describe risks of various sex acts.

Now, I don't know what Mr. Santorum thinks that gay couples do sexually. But, there is nothing that same-sex couples can do sexually that differs from what heterosexuals can do. Every act that gay couples are capable of committing in bed, can be done by heterosexuals as well.

Santorum said, "So, what is going to be taught to our people in health class in our schools?" Answer: nothing that ought not be taught there now. Any health class that covers the risks of heterosexual sexual activity would also cover the risks of homosexual activity. In other words, there is nothing new to teach folks. Oral sex between two men carries the same risks as oral sex between a man and a woman. Anal intercourse works the same in straight couples as in gay couples. There is no "gay" plumbing that somehow offers gay couples options that are closed off to straight couples. The answer is that nothing new needs to be taught. Any basic information on sexual practices and risks would already cover the topic.

Then Santorum worried about "What families look like in America?" Here the danger appears to be that at some point in their life individuals learn that gay people exist and form families. Really? That's a risk. Are we to assume that these people never watch television? Have they no gay relatives, or family friends? Are they in such an insulated bubble that this widely-known fact will harm them? In other words, families will look just like they look now. Like it not, Mr. Santorum, gay people exist and they are committed to one another and they form families. Even worse, for you, most Americans know this.

This fact is in the newspapers. It is on television. It is apparent in grocery stores, schools, and churches across America. Thanks to your harping on the issue, even your followers are fully aware that gay families exist. You told them so! If this information is so damaging, maybe you should have kept your mouth shut. Well, even if it were not damaging, maybe you should have kept your mouth shut.

After the remark of what families look like, Santorum went even more incoherent: "So, you are going to have in our curriculum spread throughout our curriculum worldview that is fundamentally different from what is taught in schools todays? Is that not a consequence of gay marriage?" My question is: Is there a complete sentence? If it is what, does it mean?

This was almost as brilliant as his response on people dying for a lack of health care. He said: "People die in America because people die in America." This is a man incapable of intelligent thought.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gary Johnson Endorses Marriage Equality

Presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson announced during an on-line Town Hall Thursday night that he supports civil marriage for gay Americans.  Having long supported civil unions for gay couples, Johnson’s decision to endorse gay marriage is based on “a great deal of deliberation, discussion with the gay community, and a conclusion that government has no business choosing who should be allowed the benefits of marriage and who should not.”

Announcing his support for gay marriage, Johnson said, “As a believer in individual freedom and keeping government out of personal lives, I simply cannot find a legitimate justification for federal laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, which ‘define’ marriage.  That definition should be left to religions and individuals – not government.  Government’s role when it comes to marriage is one of granting benefits and rights to couples who choose to enter into a marriage ‘contract’.  As I have examined this issue, consulted with folks on all sides, and viewed it through the lens of individual freedom and equal rights, it has become clear to me that denying those rights and benefits to gay couples is discrimination, plain and simple.

“Certainly, religions and people of various faiths have the right to view marriage as they wish, and sanction marriage according to those beliefs.  Just as government shouldn’t interfere with individual rights, government should not interfere with how marriage is treated as a ceremony, a sacrament or a privilege within a set of religious beliefs.  However, when it comes to the rights of individuals and couples under the law, government’s promise should be to insure equal access to those rights to all Americans, gay or straight.

“For a very long time, society has viewed gay marriage as a moral and, yes, religious issue.  Today, I believe we have arrived at a point in history where more and more Americans are viewing it as a question of liberty and freedom.  That evolution is important, and the time has come for us to align our marriage laws with the notion that every individual should be treated equally.”

Johnson’s announcement came during an on-line Town Hall co-hosted with GOProud, an organization of gay conservatives and their allies.

Johnson is running for the Republican nomination for president but both the media and GOP have frozen him out of the debates. At points they change rules for admittance to debates mid-stream after it was shown Johnson actually qualified. After failing to keep him out of two debates the debate sponsors came up with a rule saying only people who had been in three debates prior could enter the debate. So, they basically made their exclusion of him a reason to exclude him.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Australia Moves Closer to Marriage Equality: PM Still Fighting

Left-wing Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, continues to fight marriage equality in the name of defending traditional marriage. She also continues to refuse to marry her long-time male partner while do so.

Now, one Australia's more conservative states has legalized gay civil unions. In Australia marriage is entirely regulated by the federal government and while states can vote for civil unions they are forbidden to vote on marriage—the sort of centralized system that conservative Republicans are now trying to foist on the United States.

Same-sex civil partnerships were voted in law in Queensland by a 47-40 vote.

Meanwhile Gillard is having to fight her own party. Given widespread public support for same sex marriage, the Labor Party delegates are starting to feel that their party is out of sync with the voters. Now 400 delegates from the Australian Labor Party are holding their meeting in Sydney. And delegates are going to be asked to buck Gillard and openly support equality.

A measure will be introduced by Andrew Barr, a leader of the conservative wing of the Labor Party. And it will seconded by Penny Wong, the second highest official in the Labor government. Wong is in a same-sex relationship and she and her partner are expecting a child shortly. Barr has said that enough delegates from the right wing of the party will support the delegates from the left wing, and that the party platform will be changed.

Meanwhile the relatively small fundamentalist Christian sects are up in arms trying to scare members of parliament into supporting inequality of rights.

But five of the eight Australian states have already spoken. And public opinion polls show a clear majority of Australians are in favor of marriage equality. As things stand, only Gillard is stopping marriage equality from happening now, through her use of office to prevent the Labor Party from adopting equality. If the party platform is change she will lose and Labor MPs will have to vote with the platform, meaning marriage equality will become a reality.

Below is an ad from Australia on marriage equality that has taken Youtube by storm.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Australia's PM Stiffs Charity to Avoid Gay Couples

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, of Australia, said she wanted to help raise funds for charities. She auctioned off a dinner with her. Now the idea of a having a pleasant meal, while eating with a politician, may be contradictory. But the winning couples who bid on the dinner were more anxious to talk to Gillard, a fervent opponent of equality of rights for gay couples.

The left-wing politician has been doing her best to "defend traditional marriage." Oddly, her defense of traditional marriage doesn't mean she will marry the man she has been living with. But neither does she want gay men (or women) to marry either.

Six months ago the group GetUp! won the charity auction of with a bid of $31,000AUS. But Gillard has refused to set a date, especially since her own party has been pushing for a vote on marriage equality, which Gillard is attempting to sabotage. So far Gillard has stiffed the charity refusing to set a date for the dinner. After bad publicity for her deceit her office now claims they will set the dinner sometime in the new year. Anyone want to bet that if it happens it will be after any parliamentary vote the matter.

Typical politician.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pastor May Lose Church Over Support for Marriage Rights

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
Rev. Matt Glover, of the Lillydale Baptist Church in Australia is facing a church vote to throw him out as pastor. Glover says that church members are "happy with my work here, my preaching and my care of people struggling, they're all okay with that, it's just my option that the government should recognize gay marriage which is the sticking point."

"I've said the church doesn't have to recognize gay marriage," said Glover, "the church doesn't have to practice gay marriage, but I think the church needs to stand up for the right of gay people to have their relationships, their marriages, legally recognized by the government." Apparently the good reverend's view are far too libertarian for some in his congregation.

Meanwhile, in Raleigh, North Carolina another Baptist Church is breaking with tradition. The congregation voted to forbid the minister to perform any legally-binding marriages until same-sex couples are given the right to marry. The congregations issues a formal statement attacking a Republican-sponsored measure to ban gay couples from entering into marriage contracts. The vote of the congregation was unanimous.

The church says the minister may perform religious ceremonies but is forbidden to sign state issued documents making the marriage legal. In 1992 the Southern Baptist Convention threw the church out because it wasn't considered sufficiently anti-gay. (Did they thrown out churches that were not sufficiently pro-slavery in the past? The denomination was founded when southern Baptist churches split from northern churches because the southern Baptists supported enslaving human beings as being the will of God.) Pullen also welcomed black members to the church during the late 50s.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Australia to Vote on Equality: PM Scuttles Chances

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, from the left-of-center Labor Party, is a staunch opponent of marriage equality. Most of her own party supports the measure and polls show that 62% of all Australians feel the same way.

But Gillard has a "strong conviction that the institution of marriage has come to have a particular meaning and standing in our culture and nation and should continue unchanged." Gillard, like so many defenders of "traditional" marriage does not live by her own words. She is not married and instead is shacked up with man. In "traditional" terms she is "living in sin."

Gillard and the man she "shacks up" with.
She also reveals her ignorance of this history of marriage by saying it should "continue unchanged." If that were the case Ms. Gillard would be in jail for living in sin and would be forced to marry her partner, Tim Mathieson. Ms. Gillard would not be an attorney in all likelihood, unless her husband permitted such a scandalous thing. Any wages she earned would belong to him. Traditionally she would be denied the right to vote, or run for office, and thus wouldn't be prime minister, or even local dog catcher. It would be assumed that her husband represented her at the polls. She would be very restricted in her ability to divorce him if she saw the need. Traditionally she would be legally incapable of refusing his sexual demands, and if she did, he would have the right to take it forcefully. It would not be considered rape under traditional marriage. I suspect that Mrs. Mathieson would be a relatively unhappy woman, but she would be fulfilling her traditional role, in traditional marriage.

Perhaps she should be thankful that marriage has not remained unchanged instead.

Gillard has faced a growing complaint within her own ruling party about her constant attempts to prevent a vote on marriage equality. So she is pulling a parliamentary maneuver to allow a vote while making sure it fails.

In the parliamentary system the normal process if for the party caucus to determine the position of the party as whole. Members of Parliament represent their party and are normally bound to vote along with the decision of the caucus. If this were followed, the Labor caucus would vote for marriage equality and all MPs would vote along with that decision. Given that Labor holds 72 of 150 seats, their votes with a handful of independents and/or Green Party MPs would be sufficient to pass the measure.

But, a handful of Labor MPs, such as Gillard herself, are opposed to equal rights for gay couples. So Gillard is calling for "conscience" vote which would allow MPs to ignore the party caucus and vote against the measure. This would divide the Labor Party vote in parliament and is likely to send the measure to defeat.

However, supporters of marriage equality, such as Senator Arbib, say that if the opposition Liberal Party allows their MPs a conscience vote as well, then social liberals in this economically conservative party would be sufficient to make up for Labor Party defectors.

Gillard has made it clear she will not allow her Party to reflect the wishes of party members or MPs. She says the government will not bring forth legislation for equality but any Labor MP is free to introduce a private member's bill. Gillard has promised to fight the party membership on the matter at party conference.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Proposal Made: Will Washington Say "I Do?"

A campaign will be launched this week for the state of Washington to become the 7th state to enshrine the idea that all are created equal, when it comes to marriage.

Voters in Washington have previously supported a "all but marriage"  measure of civil unions meant to mimic an actual marriage contract. State Sen. Ed Murray said he and colleagues are "going to push it" and that they think 2012 will be the year that marriage equality happens.

Opposing this deregulation of marriage are Republicans who insist that state controls are necessary to "preserve marriage in its traditional form." Apparently they are ignorant of history otherwise they would not speak of a "traditional form" of marriage at all. It was once deemed that marriage meant women should not vote because their husbands represented them. Before marriage their fathers did that job. Women could not own their own property at times, all property had to be owned by the husband. Even the income of women from employment was deemed to belong to their husband. This was "traditional" marriage. While Sen. Dan Swecker, a big government Republican, wants to preserve "traditional" marriage he only wants to preserve some aspects of traditional marriage.

Marriage to Republicans is like the Bible to fundamentalist—they insist on the right to pick and choose which parts to like and ignore the rest.

Currently the Democrats have a majority in the state Senate and House, but conservative Democrats have previously voted with Republicans to keep government restrictions on marriage contracts in place. Some Republicans will have to jump ship and support deregulation and smaller government in order for the marriage measure to become law. Swecker says there is a 50/50 chance of the deregulation becoming law.

Conservatives pledge to have the rights of the gay minority put up to a public vote where the majority gets to decide whether a minority has the same rights as themselves. Jefferson said that the "most sacred" duty of government is "to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens." He wrote that the best principles of the country was to "secure to all its citizens a perfect equality of rights." He said no man "has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another." The concept of equality of rights, in Republican views means, everyone has the same right to vote the rights of minorities and deny them equality of rights because they are not the majority. It is the very sort of democracy that the Founders warned us to avoid in favor of a Republic.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rhode Island Loses Millions with Second Best Civil Union Option

Gay residents of Rhode Island are leaving Rhode Island and getting married out of state. They are taking their marriages and the costs to fund them to other states. There is no financial advantage to ignoring the marriage rights of same-sex couples. The NOM spokesperson doesn't even try to marshal an argument here. He just asserts that allowing gay marriage won't fix the budget. I doubt anyone thought it would fix the budget but it would help.

Once in a Century Wedding

Sheila Barnett and Melissa Patrick, a same-sex couple from Florida, was one of 11 couples to win a lavish wedding from the Crowne Plaza in Manhattan. The brides have picked out matching dresses, one in white, the other in purple. In New York the couple will be legally married, but Republicans in Florida have made sure that the marriage will have no legal standing there. The couple have known each other for over 20 years, since high school.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Senate Committee Votes to Abolish DOMA Regulations

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act which regulates which marriages the federal government will recognize, in violation of the 10th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution—in this writer's opinion.

All the Democrats voted for deregulation and all the Republicans voted to keep federal interference in the marriage contract. Republicans have vowed to continue their fight for big government and federalizing marriage. In addition DOMA imposes high costs on private employers and raises the cost of regulatory compliance for any employer who hires individual with same-sex partners.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Will Maine Vote Again on Marriage Equality?

Advocates for marriage equality in Maine had 396 volunteers at the polls yesterday asking voters to sign petitions to put a referendum on the ballot to legalize gay marriage. In that one day some 36,000 signatures were gained for the pro-marriage side. The total number of signatures, on hand, now exceeds 100,000.

This means that another vote can be held next year to legalize marriage contracts for same-sex couples. Voters in Maine previously turned down the idea in a close election. Since then public opinion polls have shown voters shifting their stand on the issue. If the polls are correct a narrow victory is now possible.

But, what proponents have to remember is that the National Organization for (sic) Marriage is a "terrorist" organization that invents lies and distortions to literally scare voters. NOM has regularly produced dishonest advertisements to promote their bigoted agenda. In addition NOM acts as if it above the law. It is a political action committee yet it regularly refuses to report where it's funding is coming from, unlike every other PAC in the country. NOM has argued that they should be required to obey financial reporting laws because they are afraid—if you remember their "I am afraid" commercial you will realize NOM spends a lot of time wallowing in fear and inventing bogeymen to scare the public.

Below is that commercial. What is astounding is that almost every single line they use is a lie. It is astounding how many lies they can pack into one commercial to scare the bejesus out of people. It should be noted that when NOM's allies in California tried to defend Proposition 8 in court that they left out the claims that NOM makes in their advertisements? Under cross-examination their lies would be exposed easily and quickly. But in campaigns the only way to expose their lies is to outspend them massively trying to get accurate information to people. And, as long as their are bigots like John Templeton, Jr., willing to throw a $1 million into hate campaigns fighting their lies is difficult.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ripping Into the Sex Police and

The Family Research Council insists that they have to defend the "family" from the threat of marriage equality. So, to show their support for the family, they gave a award to a deadbeat dad who has refused to pay child support for his own kids. Yep, another marriage defender who defends everyone's family but his own.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Maine Residents Reverse Course on Marriage Equality

Two years ago the National Organization for Marriage and other Religious Right groups mounted a scare campaign about marriage equality in order to convince voters in Maine to overturn a marriage equality law—before voters actually had a chance to see that no harm was inflicted because of it. The vote at the polls was 47% to keep marriage equality and 53% to strip gay people of the right enter legal marriage contracts.

Public Policy Polling revisited the issue in March of this year and their poll showed that 47% now supported marriage equality and 45% opposed it. Now they have released their newest polling results and find that 51% support marriage equality while 42% would oppose it.

But once again they have broken down support and opposition into more nuanced positions. When you include the supposed "separate but equal" position of civil unions support for legal recognition of gay couples jumps dramatically. In Maine only 17% of the residents say they oppose all legal recognition of gay relationship. Support for gay marriage and/or civil unions garners support from 82% of the residents—36% supporting civil unions, and 46% supporting full marriage rights.

A similar pattern in shifting views on the topic is seen over and over. Individuals had strong opposition to the issue. As the matter is discussed and debated the percentage of people supporting civil unions increases, as does the percentage supporting full marriage rights. At first the percentage supporting civil unions tends to be greater than the percentage supporting marriage. Individuals who support civil unions rather rapidly move over to supporting full marriage rights as opponents to equality shift their views to support civil unions.

As things are currently going "civil unions" is not the compromise position where the consensus will settle. It is a half-way house where the public pauses for a second breath before moving on to supporting marriage equality. In other words, all the evolution is going against the Christian Right—they have already lost this issue, it is now just waiting for the final results.

Gay Marriage Inspires Joy Behar to Marry

Joy Behar, of The View, has married Steve Janowitz. The two have been a couple for 29 years but never married. Behar said that gay marriage caused  her to think about marriage. The campaign for marriage equality "brought to my consciousness why gays needed to get married. And I thought it was a good reason for me to get married. And so did Steve, so we did it."

One of the ways marriage equality is good for marriage is that it does cause people to consider why marriage is important. People simply do not understand the function of the marriage contract, they seem to think it is some nice ceremony, but it is much more than that. It is a legal structure which, like the legal structure of property rights, allows individuals to flourish. It is a set of protections for a contractual agreement that allows the couple to move forward the way property rights allow people to create and transfer wealth.

North Carolina and Marriage Equality

Elon University has released its most recent poll regarding marriage equality. A Republican measure has been put on the ballot to make it unconstitutional to allow same-sex couples enter into marriage contracts. These constitutionally-imposed regulations would mean that no gay couple could have a legally valid marriage contract.

Opposition to all forms of legal recognition of gay couples remains steady in the state. It was at 35% in February, 34.4% in September, and is shows up at 34.5% now. This indicates that the most hard core anti-gay population is around one-third of the public. Support for the "civil unions" option—an attempt to be separate but equal—has been slowly eroding. It was at 29% in February, 28.6% in September, and is now at 26.4%. This would seem to indicate a shift in views. But with opposition standing steady it would have to mean the shift was going in the direction of full marriage equality for same-sex couples. And that is what the poll shows. In February 27.8% supported full marriage equality, it rose to 33% in September and is holding steady at 33% now. This would indicate that about two-thirds of residents of the state support some legal recognition of gay relationships.

Asked if they would support an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage contracts a majority of residents still express opposition to the idea, again there is slow evolution in attitudes. In February 21.8% of residents said they strongly opposed the idea of the ban, now it is 32.1%. In February 34% said they opposed the idea, just not strongly so, today it is 24.9%. This indicates that opponents to the measure have been firming up their opposition.

Similarly, those who wish to ban marriage contracts for gay couples have also become more firm in their desires to enshrine unequal protection before the law. In February only 16.3% strongly supported a constitutional ban, today it is 21.8%. Those who supported the ban, but not strongly, stood at 21.6% in February and is now at 14.7%

Add them together and you find that opposition to the amendment stood at 55.8% in February and is at 57% today. Total support for the discriminatory clause was at 37% in February and is now at 36.5%. In other words, neither side is gaining or losing ground, but opinions are becoming more polarized.

The real issue on election day is who turns out. An issue can have majority support in the state but still lose at the polls depending on whether the opponents turn out in greater numbers than the supporters. If the Republicans lose one of their hate campaigns in a Southern, Bible-belt state, it could mark a turning point on the issue. Long-term trends are against the Republican strategy of stirring up hatred for gays and immigrants and at some point those trends will tip the votes against the Republican agenda.

John Leguizamo on Marriage Equality

Ricky Martin Takes Spanish Citizenship Over Marriage Issue

Martin and Gonzales
Ricky Martin is an American citizen by virtue of his birth in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. But now he is a Spanish citizen instead. Martin, who is the father of two children, wishes to marry his partner Carlos Gonzalez, something he can not do in Puerto Rico.

Martin's grandmother was born in Spain and the very wealthy singer owns a home there. The Spanish government granted him citizenship and it also allows same-sex marriage. Martin has not been asked to give up his U.S. citizenship, but in my thinking, why should he remain a citizen of a nation that treats him as a second class citizen, in spite of the massive amount of taxes he is forced to pay.

Martin says his twin boys love Gonzalez and Gonzalez loves them. He has expressed his wish to marry but lamented how he was not allowed to do so in Puerto Rico, his home. Martin is currently set to star in a Broadway production of Evita. Gonzales is an economist.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The High Cost of Government Mandated Discrimination: DOMA and the Regulatory State

Conservatives frequently talk about the cost of regulations. For instance, Freedomworks, a well-known conservative organization, published a piece called The Hidden Cost of Regulation. It said: “Complying with regulations is not cheap,” noting that regulations aren’t paid for by just corporations, but by “the entire economy.” It notes that consumers pay higher prices as well, due to these regulations, and that they “act as a drag on economic growth.”

Allow me to add two other points Freedomworks did not mention, but which I believe they would agree with. 1) Motives of the regulators do not change costs imposed by the regulations. That is, costs are not lower if the motives of regulators are good. 2) Costs are not changed if regulations are imposed by one political party rather than the other. In other words, the cost of Republican-imposed regulations would be just the same if Democrats had been the guilty party.

With this in mind, let us turn to a set of regulations Republicans put into place, with the claimed motive of “protecting the family:” The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

On the surface, DOMA doesn’t appear to create new regulations. It says: “In determining the means of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” It sounds simple, but then some of the worst results come out of the simplest of regulations.

Until DOMA, for the entirety of American history, marriage was defined at the state level. Over the last couple of centuries the federal government and the states have woven a web of rules and regulations around the marriage contract. Until DOMA the federal government accepted state-recognized marriages as valid on the federal level. Now there are federal regulations that don’t correspond with the laws in 10 states and the District of Columbia. 

To read the full article go here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Just a Piece of Paper Says Florida Official

Marriage licenses are legal documents issued by the states recognizing the legal nature of a marriage. They recognize the rights that couples have in relationship to one another as well as recognize certain rights that each of the partners have. One such right is that upon marriage it is legally accepted that a spouse can change their name to reflect the name of the person to whom they are married. And, contrary to assumptions, there is no obligation to do so, and both partners have the same rights. Even though a woman traditionally changes her name to reflect that of her husband, there is nothing to prevent the opposite from happening.

If you are married in California and live in Illinois your marriage is recognized by the state of Illinois as valid. The reason for this is that the U.S. Constitution guarantees that: "Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records and Judicial Proceedings of every other state." Similarly a divorce granted in one state is recognized in another state. This has been the case since the Constitution was ratified.

Rachel Jolley was married in Connecticut. She went to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles—a bureaucratic hell on earth— and presented her marriage license in order to register a name change on her driver's license. She was refused service. Ann Howard, speaking on behalf of the state of Florida, said: "The out-of-state marriage certificate is a piece of paper that means nothing to the state of Florida."

Now, if a man a woman get married in Connecticut that marriage certificate is no longer just "a piece of paper," but is considered a legal document. The ONLY time this marriage certificate loses its legal validity, according to Florida, is if the couple holding the certificate are gay.

Republicans argue that the Defense of Marriage Act "protects" the States and their right to violate the equal rights of citizens. But, acts of Congress, do not trump the Constitution. Republicans have it ass-backwards and are embracing a totalitarian concept. If the legislature can pass laws superior to the Constitution then there is no restriction on the powers of Congress. The entire Constitution becomes just "a piece of paper" with no validity on any measure.

Republicans are actually arguing that there are NO restrictions on government because any law passed by the legislature is superior to any right guaranteed in the Constitution. And they call this "limited government!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Republicans Push to Strip Gay Employees Only of Health Benefits for Spouse

Republicans continue their campaign to attack gay couples. A new law is being pushed in Michigan to strip gay state employees of any benefits that their spouses or children receive, even though the same benefits are offered to straight couples. In addition, the law would make it illegal for unions to discuss such benefits during collective bargaining.

Andries Coetzee and partner Gary Woodall, one of the gay
couples under attack by the Republican Party
In 2004 state universities agreed to offer the same health benefits to gay employees that are offered to straight employees. Numerous individuals signed labor agreements with the universities based on these promised forms of compensation. And though universities in Michigan are supposed to have independence from political manipulation of their budgets, according to the state constitution, Republicans are attempting to do a run around the constitution and pass legislation that would prohibit any benefits for the spouses of gay employees along with their children. For 160 years universities had constitutional autonomy with management and control of the universities resting solely with the governing boards.

Republicans, in order to punish people for being gay, are happy to violate Constitutional restrictions on the powers of the legislature. This meant the universities were free to make budgetary decisions of how to spend their funds. So much for constitutional restrictions on the power of the state. Republicans clearly will violate any "principle" they claim to uphold in order to conduct their jihad against gay people.

The bill has already passed the House and is now under consideration by the Senate.

Republicans insist that "defense of marriage" acts previously passed give them the right to go after the benefits of gay university employees since giving their spouses benefits is a form of recognizing their relationships, something the GOP doesn't want to do under any circumstance. This indicates that the Religious Right intends to use such laws a wedges that allow them to go after gay people in ways that were not part of the original legislation. Laws preventing marriage are now used to say that gay couples don't have a right to health coverage even if the coverage is part of the labor contract.

Andries Coetzee is a linguistics professor and has been with his partner, Gary Woodall, for seven years. Woodall's health insurance is included in Coetzee's policy as an employee of the university. Woodall, has been combating cancer and is now in remission. The new legislation would strip Woodall of his health coverage.

University officials say that they will be hampered in hiring good professors because most other universities offer the spouses of gay employees coverage. A vice president of the university said: "These benefits are important for the successful recruitment and retention of our top-flight faculty and staff. We're in competition on lots of levels, this would be an added competitive disadvantage."

Coetzee has said he has already started applying for positions in other states. Of course, the legislation, if passed, would not only drive away current staff but would also make it harder for the university to recruit employees by limiting the pool they have to select from. The result will be a increase in search costs as the university will need to look longer to find the same number of employees.

The sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Dave Agema—a Republican, of course—says "It is not the responsibility of taxpayers to support the roommates and unmarried partners of public employees."

This is the typical Catch-22 that bigoted politicians use. They have regulations that prevent gay couples from legally marrying and they say that because they are not legally married they should not receive the same compensation for employment that married heterosexual couples have.

Julian Bond on Marriage Equality

Julian Bond, the chairman emeritus of the NAACP, speaks out in support of marriage equality. As a bit of trivia, the first president of the NAACP was Moorfield Storey, after whom our Institute was named. Storey was an advocate of civil liberties, a fighter for the rights of black Americans and immigrants, an opponent to war and global interventionism, and a staunch supporter of depoliticized markets with free trade and property rights.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Washington Poll Shows Majority Support for Equality

A new poll was released by the Center for Survey Research, part of the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. The poll was a wide-ranging one covering matters such as the privatization of liquor sales in Washington—most voters support that—to the popularity of various political figures. It showed voters leaning Democratic in the presidential race, but going Republican in the gubernatorial race. It also showed a majority of voters would not overturn legislation deregulating marriage when it comes to same-sex couples.

The poll mentioned that the state legislature was expected to pass a marriage equality bill "allowing gay and lesbian couples to get married." Voters were asked how they would vote if a referendum were held to repeal equality legislation. Forty-seven percent of voters said they would NOT repeal marriage equality and that they felt very strongly about the issue. Only 31% were strongly motivated to vote against the bill. Another 8% said they would keep marriage equality but didn't feel strongly about it, giving the equality side a total of 55% of the vote. Another 7% opposed equality but didn't feel strongly about the matter, giving the anti-rights 38% support. Seven percent of voters said they were undecided.

The poll, however, also broke down support into various sub groups. And when this is taken into account there is massive support for some legal recognition of gay couples. Seventeen percent of voters say that the law should give no recognition to gay couples, a very small percentage indeed. Another 15% are willing to allow "domestic partnerships" provided they give a set of inferior rights to gay couples. So only one third of the population supports second class legal standing for gay couples.

But 43% of voters say that gay couples should be allowed to marry and should have the full rights of any other married couples. Another 22% will accept full legal rights for gay couples if they pretend that what the entails is something other than "marriage." Two-thirds of all voters in Washington are willing to grant full legal rights to gay couples.

I have found it odd that a set of legal rights called marriage are considered acceptable by some people provided they call it by some other name. This seems to imply that people endow the word "marriage" with magical powers. If it is viewed as a relationship endowed with the exact same rights as marriage then it is marriage no matter what you call it. The opposition to "civil unions" is that they consistently fail to provide full legal rights even when they are intended to, and the creation of this manufactured status only leads to lead confusion throughout the society. 

The poll seemed to show some general libertarian sentiments among voters in Washington. The initiative to close state liquor stores, auction their assets off, and allow private vendors to sell alcohol is leading in the poll by 7 points, with another 7% undecided. Interestingly it is self-described liberals who support the prohibitionist measure to restrict liquor sales to state stores. Liberals favor state control by 8 points while conservatives are against by almost a 2-to-1 margin. Independents favor privatization by 6 points.

A measure that would restrict funding, received from motor vehicles fees and toll fees, from being used for non-transportation purposes is ahead by 1.4 points with almost 19% undecided. One quarter of all voters want the state budget balanced ONLY using spending cuts and only 3% favor only using tax increased. Another 20% want mostly spending cuts to balance the budget with 39% supporting cuts and new taxes equally.

And while voters in Washington would support Obama over any of the leading Republicans a plurality oppose Obama's health care "reform," (47%-37%). Two-thirds of voters favored the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, with only a quarter supporting it. And a plurality, 48% to 42%, support the state law legalizing and regulating marijuana use in the state.

Add this all up and it appears there is a strong libertarian streak in Washington voters and neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are tapping into it.

Does God Punish Bigots?

Whenever something unpleasant happens to individuals, who are not favored by fundamentalist Christians, the extreme fundamentalists claim it was the judgment of God. Pat Robertson does this all the time. A hurricane hits New Orleans and Crazy Pat tells the world it is punishment for a gay celebration that is going to take place a week or two after the hurricane—apparently God's timing is off. The same hurricane knocks down fundamentalist churches across the South—apparently God has trouble with his aim as well.

So, why not argue that God is executing anti-gay bigots?

Consider the case of Pastor Leo Godzich, of the First Assembly of God, Phoenix, AZ. Godzich runs a group called "National Association of Marriage Enhancement." Of course, to enhance his married he has to fight to deny marriage to same-sex couples. A fundamentalist, Godzich was involved in the so-called "restoration" of Ted Haggard, the top evangelical minister who was caught hiring male prostitutes. Godzich was in Uganda, a hot-bed of anti-gay work by the extremists from the United States. A "kill the gays" bill, which would impose death on some gay people, has been resurrected there. The bill has been directly linked to various fundamentalist groups from the United States. According to a badly written article in a local newspaper Godzich was traveling with a group of fundamentalist ministers when they stopped behind a truck. A second truck behind them failed to stop. All the occupants were killed.

Now, one fundamentalist minister on a crusade against the gay community doesn't amount to a hill of beans, anymore than one hurricane a week or two before a gay celebration. But fundamentalists have seen God's hand in less than this. But there is more.

In North Carolina, the Deputy Senate Leader, Republican Jim Forrester, introduced a new constitutional amendment to enshrine in the state constitution godly discrimination against gay people. Of course, it goes without saying that Forrester is a Republican. Forrester has claimed that he knows that gay people "die at least 20 years earlier" than other people and said "we need to reach out to them to try to get them to change their lifestyle and back to the normal lifestyle which we can accept."

Forrester's bill would make it illegal to recognize any "domestic legal union" of a same-sex couple. And there is concern that this would, like other Republican sponsored bills in other states, ban private recognition of gay relationships as well.

In the midst of a campaign to impose this anti-gay legislation Forrester was rushed to hospital over the weekend where he died. Forrester was a deacon in a fundamentalist Baptist Church.

Gee, maybe it is a pattern and maybe the fundamentalists got it wrong all along. After all those hurricanes keep hitting the Bible-belt .

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Partners in First Gay Wedding Now History

Axel & Eigil at their marriage
in 1989.
Axel Lundahl-Madsen and partner Eigil Eskildsen founded a gay rights organization together in Denmark in 1948. Four decades later, in 1989, they were allowed to marry, at a ceremony conducted by the deputy mayor of Copenhagen, Tom Ahlberg. The couple combined their first names to create a new surname for themselves, Axgil. They were the first gay couple in modern history to have a legally recognized marriage.

Axel, born in 1915, died today (October 29, 2011) at the age of 96. Eigil preceded him in death in 1995 at the age of 73. Their partnership lasted 47 years, they were only allowed to be married for six of those years, and then Axel lived another 16 years after Eigil had died.

The Sanctity of Marriage

Majority in New Jersey Back Marriage Equality

A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has found that a majority of residents in New Jersey support gay marriage. If they ask about "gay marriage" the support comes in at 52%, if they ask if people support marriage equality support jumps to 61%. People are strange. If you ask if they oppose gay marriage, 39% say they do, but ask if they oppose marriage equality for gay couples and then only 27% want legal discrimination. And 9% don't know what they believe.

The poll director, David Redlawsk, says that all age groups support marriage for gay couples except those over the age of 65. "Whatever it is called, support for state recognition of same-sex marriage remains strong and most likely will grow over time," he said. Democrats and independents support marriage rights strongly, while Republicans again are the party of inequality and big government regulation.

The poll shows the importance of terminology. A press statement from the poll says:
While support measured with the term “marriage equality” is stronger than for “gay marriage,” by 61 percent to 52 percent, certain groups are especially influenced by the name change. Support among those who never attended college jumps 25 points to 66 percent for marriage equality, while support among men climbs 16 points to 63 percent. Women, stronger supporters of the issue in the first place, are less influenced; their support increases 3 points to 59 percent when marriage equality is used to describe the relationship. Catholics are also particularly responsive to reframing the issue: 49 percent favor legalizing gay marriage but rises 63 percent when asked about marriage equality.
Language also greatly influences senior citizens. While opposition to gay marriage is strong among those 65 and over, with only 32 percent supporting legalization and 53 percent opposing it, results flip when marriage equality is used. Nearly half (49 percent) of older respondents approve if marriage equality is used. One-third oppose and 16 percent are unfamiliar with the phrase or are uncertain.
“This illustrates how language used to describe an issue really matters,” said Redlawsk. “While on the whole, New Jerseyans are ready to see the state legalize same-sex marriage, calling the issue marriage equality minimizes many of the differences between groups we see when gay marriage is used. Americans have a deep belief in equality as a concept. When equality is attached to same-sex relationships, it generates a more positive response based on that underlying ideal.”
Pollster suggest that Republican opposition "is deep and unlikely to change easily." Deep rooted prejudice is unlikely to change quickly. Young people, under 30 are most supportive. About 70% of them support "gay marriage" and 75% support marriage equality. Redlawski suggests that young people "are really responding 'why is this even an issue?'"

About one in four say they have gay family members and 53% say they have gay friends. People who do have gay friends or family are more supportive of marriage equality, at 60%.

Upper income people are more supportive than people at the lower end of the economic ladder. And religious people are least supportive. For Catholics 63% marriage equality where 49% support "gay marriage." The least supportive group of religious people remains fundamentalists with only 18% supporting gay marriage, though support increases to a plurality (41%) when asked about marriage equality.

Friday, October 28, 2011

GOP Congressman Says Marriage is a Special Right, Not an Equal Right

Republican Congressman Trent Franks says that marriage is a "special right" because it is the best way to "launch the next generation." Thus it has to be denied to gay couples. So what about children in gay families? If as the Religious Right continues to claim, that children are better off when their parents are married, then why deny these children that same right?

Franks continues say how "special" these rights are and that as "special" rights marriage can be denied to gay couples and, if it isn't, it threatens the very survival of the nation. Of course, he was talking to the bigots at the hate group, Family Research Association, which views gay people the way the Klan sees black people.

I wonder if the Congressman would point out the Constitutional power that grants "special rights" only to heterosexuals? But the Constitution does say: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Should Christian Firemen Let the Houses of Gay People Burn?

The question in the headline sounds bizarre. Obviously most people, except the most rabid bigot, would say that Christian firemen most certainly should not allow the homes of gay people to burn to the ground.

But what about Christians who don't believe that gay people have the same legal rights as they do, when it comes to marriage contracts? Should they be required to do their job if their job is issuing marriage licenses?

Rose Marie Belforti is the city clerk in Ledyard, New York. She is paid by the taxpayers to issue hunting licenses, marriage licenses, building permits and the like. When the state legalized same-sex marriage Belforti decided that God had revealed to her that she should not respect the legal rights of gay couples. Instead, she would tell gay people that they had to make a special appointment to come in another day. On that day the Clerk's Office would hire a second person, at taxpayer's expense, to come in and process the license.

Belforti says,"I want to do what the Bible tells me to do." Interesting, but the Bible doesn't say "thou shalt not do thy job if it means helping gay people." Whatever you think the Bible says about homosexuality it says nothing about marriage licenses or the duties of city clerks. But, what if someone argued, as the Church of the Creator does, that God doesn't want white folk, his "chosen people," to deal with black people. Would a clerk be able to require black residents to make special trips that white folks don't have to make, in order to get the same services?

Certainly the hatred that fundamentalists have toward gay people is well-known and widely documented. If a government employee, like Belforti, is allowed to take a salary from all the taxpayers, while not serving all the taxpayers equally, why should this principle stop with a city clerk? Can a fireman tell gay residents that he will not rescue them from a burning building or put out the flames in their home because he only wants to do what the Bible tells him to do?

According to a local newspaper Belforti "says people are opposed to accommodating her faith."

A fellow-Republican who is now running against Belforti says that is false, "it's about her beliefs not letting her do her job." And he is right. Belforti claims that religion, a claim to unsubstantiated revelation from a mystical source, has told her not to do the job for which she is being paid. Instead of doing her own job, she is hiring a second person, also at taxpayer expense, to do the work she refuses to do.

One has a right to religious beliefs, no matter how irrational, hateful, or silly they may be. But one does not have a right to a specific job. If someone takes a job they are obliged to do the job. If they decide that some revelation from beyond has told them to not to do the work, they should relinquish the job.

No employee has the right to hold his employer hostage to whatever religious whims he or she may experience. That remains true whether or not the employer is the government.

Belforti has the right to indulge her own religious beliefs but she is doing so by costing the taxpayers unnecessary funds to hire a second person to do the work she has refused to do. When employees have ceased doing their job they have effectively terminated their employment. If Belforti had the best interest of the taxpayers at heart, and was sincere about her religious beliefs, then she should pay the cost of her beliefs, not the taxpayers, and that means resigning. It would be the decent thing to do.

Where DADT and DOMA intersect.

Married, gay soldiers, sue to overturn parts of the odious Defense of Marriage Act.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pew Survey Documents Cultural Shift on Marriage Equality

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has released numerous charts detailing the shifting attitudes toward marriage equality. Pew does tend to get results that are slightly more conservative than other polling firms. But what is important is the trend lines.

Pew's survey covers from 2001 until today. Had it gone back another 10 years the change would be more obviously dramatic. But in the last ten years opposition to equality of marriage rights has declined by 11 points while support has increased by ten points.

Support for marriage equality has increased generally among all age groups with one exception: those born between 1965-1980. I would, however, suggest that the 3 point drop in support there appears to be an anomaly and is fairly close to the margin of error. I can think of no reason that one age group would see support declining, even if only slightly. Older American, born 1945 or earlier have had the largest increase support. For them the numbers supporting equality increased by about 50% and now sits at one in three of all elderly Americans siding with the angels. About two-thirds of young people are supportive. The survey seems to be about gay marriage only, support in all groups would increase if civil unions were added as a "second class" option.
How religiously superstitious people are impacts whether or not they will accept others having the same rights as themselves. Among those who do not attend religious ceremonies support for marriage equality sits at 2/3rds. Catholics, in opposition to their own church leadership, are supportive as are mainstream Protestants. Fundamentalists, called evangelicals, remain the most bigoted, but that is to be expected. Black Protestants, who are often fundamentalists themselves, are also negative. While the survey shows a 1 point drop among white evangelicals, and a two point rise among black Protestants, the shifts are so minor as to be insignificant long term. It should also be noted that this doesn't tell the whole story.

This only shows the level of support among the various religious groups, it doesn't indicate the shift in the sizes of these groups. Fundamentalism has been experiencing a steep decline. Many more liberal and moderate "evangelicals" have left their churches. As the more reasonable types depart these more fanatical sects the result may well be hardening of positions among the church, which becomes more and more dominated by the most rabid elements within the sect. In that sense, one could see a decline in support for marriage equality among a much smaller number of fundamentalists, meaning less opposition over all, not more.

Individuals who describe themselves as liberal strongly support marriage equality. Among moderates a majority are also now in favor of marriage equality. The hold-outs are the conservatives, as to be expected, but even there support has gone up by 8 points since 2001.

Independent voters, an increasingly larger share of the public, saw support for equality go up by 8 points, and among Democrats support has increased by 14 points. Republicans, however, saw little to no evolution in their views—but then Republicans don't believe in evolution.  The Republican Party is becoming more and more alienated from mainstream views in America. It's opposition to equality is basically a result of the dominant role that the elderly and evangelicals play in the party. The problem for Republicans is that both groups are made up of shrinking populations. Old people die and fundamentalism is losing members, especially among the young.

The Republicans seem to have gotten involved with a horse & buggy race but have hitched their buggy to a dying horse. The only thing that continues to save their ass is that Democrats tend to ignore the independent voters and push through measure popular with their hard-core Left support base. Independent voters are becoming increasingly disgusted by both parties. Obama's unpopular health care "reform" has a lot of independent voters returning to the GOP, not because they embrace the narrow-minded universe of fundamentalism, but because they find Obama unpalatable.

I expect the Republicans to make gains, not because independent voters think that morons like Bachmann and Santorum represent them, but simply because they are not Democrats. Obama's policies of bailout, expanded war, higher taxes, and government control of health care are not popular outside the narrow circles of the "base" with the Democratic Party. One result is that anti-gay Republicans will make some gains in the upcoming election, not because the voters are embracing the bigotry of the GOP, but because they are sick of Obama's over-reaching grabs for power. Unfortunately the rights of gay people will suffer because of Obama's thirst for power.

Brazil's Supreme Court Rules on Marraige Equality

The Supreme Court in Brazil voted 4 to 1 on a case of two women who had tried to marry but were turned down. The court said that "sexual orientation should not serve as a pretext for excluding families from the legal protection that marriage represents."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Republicans Push Big Government, Regulatory Controls

Master Bates
Big Government Republicans in the New Hampshire House have pushed through a measure that would impose controls on marriage to prevent same-sex couples from entering into legally recognized marriage contracts. In a vote of 11 to 6 the Judiciary Committee voted to take away marriages from gay couples only.

The bill was sponsor by Rep. David Bates (Republican, Homophobia). Master Bates insists that stripping people of rights is keeping with tradition. It sure is. So was slavery, beating wives, and exposing newborn infants until they died. This didn't prevent advocates of deregulation and individual rights from changing traditions. All decent classical liberals support equality of rights.

Governor John Lynch has rightfully said he would veto the new regulations, which means the bigots in the Republican will need a 2/3rds majority to win.

It should be noted that Rep. Bates is another bigoted member of the so-called Republican Liberty Caucus. The problem is that when conservative Republicans pretend to be libertarians they do such a shitty job of it they embarrass real libertarians everywhere.

Bates claims that the purpose of the regulations and restriction is because "New Hampshire has a unique, distinct and compelling interest in promoting stable and committed marital unions between opposite-sex couples so as to increase the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by both of their natural parents." Interesting. I would assume that they should then make divorce illegal as well as ban adoption.

If Master Bates really means what he says, then he can't stop with just targeting gay couples by banning their marriage contracts. He would logically have to go after all heterosexuals who are divorced, would need to prevent adoption, in fact, he would have to require that parents who are divorced be forced to marry again because of the "compelling state interest" he imagines. There was a time when advocates of liberty argued that individual rights was the prime compelling interest, but when you mix "liberty" with Republicans like Bates, individual rights to contract marriages goes out the window and the state's "compelling interest" comes first, freedom comes second.

NOM Pretends Obama Rallies Are Their Own.

The National Organization for (sic.) Marriage is attempting to get big government Republicans to reregulate marriage in New Hampshire. Apparently the marriage laws are too laissez faire and Republicans are trying to reimpose regulations restricting marriage rights.

NOM, which has always had a tad bit of a problem with telling the truth has a website running for their New Hampshire push for bigger, more intrusive government. Here are two of the images they are showing. 

Wow! Look at the size of the crowds that seem to be showing up at NOM events. They are massive. You see the nice crowd shot and then close ups of the NOM supporters. Hey, did you notice what I noticed. I mean this is really big news. Notice the photo above the comment "Click here to get involved today!" Just above the g in "get" there appears to be a podium. And, maybe I'm hallucinating, but that sure looks like Obama speaking to the NOM rally.

Hmm, perhaps the reason it looks like Obama is because it is Obama and the photos that NOM are using to promote themselves were not taken at NOM meetings as implied, but just lifted from Obama rallies.

Notice the photo directly below.

You can see that NOM took the photo from Reuters, probably without permission, which is considered theft under copyright law. It is an Obama rally and has nothing to do with NOM, they just doctored the collage to make it appear that this was somehow connected with their own rallies, normally attended by a a few dozen bile spewing bigots.

You can see that the second photo was also lifted from an Obama rally. If you look at the second NOM banner you will see the same building in the background and as you compare the crowd they are the exact same people as at the Obama Rally in Ohio.

Considering the dishonest lengths that NOM, and its spokeswomen, Maggie Gallagher and Jennifer Morse, go to demonize gay people and twist the facts about marriage equality, it is no surprise that not even their photos are honest depictions of reality.

Dirty Harry Tells It Like It Is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gay Marriage Adds $100 million to New York Economy Per Year

Helsinki Hudsom
Bloomberg Business Week reports:

New York may reap $310 million over the next three years from license fees, taxes, and tourism related to same-sex weddings, according to a May report by four New York state senators. Morgan Stanley (MS) Chairman John Mack, Goldman Sachs (GS) Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein, and other Wall Street executives argue that legalization was necessary for the state to remain an economic leader. As other places “extend marriage rights regardless of sexual orientation, it will become increasingly difficult to recruit the best talent if New York cannot offer the same benefits and protections,” the business leaders wrote in an open letter in April urging legalization of same-sex unions.

Langdon Florist went after the gay market and found it increased sales of providing wedding flowers from an expected 100 weddings to 125 weddings. Bernadette Smith, a wedding planner typically organizes 50 weddings per year. But since New York saw the necessity for equality of marriage rights she has had 60 inquiries, about triple what she normally does in the same time frame.

The Helsinki Hudson, a huge banquet hall says that reservations for weddings have quadrupled for them and working with gay couples is "part of the daily routine." Co-owner Marc Schafler said: "We're not always motivated by the bottom line, but in this case the morally right thing also makes business sense."

Documentary on the Maine Marriage Attack

Here is a documentary showing some of the lies of the fundamentalist fanatics that ran the campaign against marriage equality in Maine, including them saying that they had to scare people even if they weren't honest about it.

Religion should not be legislated and this is precisely what the religious fanatics in the United States demand: they insist that law reflect their theology. It is the American Taliban with their own version of sharia law.

Linebacker Endorses Marriage Equality

Brendon Ayanbadejo, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens has taped a television commercial endorsing marriage equality. In the last legislative session marriage equality passed the senate in Maryland, but fell short in the House of Delegates. Governor Martin O'Malley has said he will sponsor another marriage equality bill in the upcoming session.

Plurality in Hawaii Back Marriage Equality

Public Policy Polling says that a recent poll of voters in Hawaii show that 49 percent of them support marriage equality, 40 percent oppose the idea, and 11 percent are still thinking about it. When it comes to support for marriage equality or civil unions support jumps to 77 percent. Among Democrats it is 90 percent, for independents it is 77 percent and for Republicans it is 59 percent.

Denmark's Government Says Equality is Coming

The Danish government said that they will introduce legislation to create same sex marriage early in 2012 and expect the legislation to pass shortly after. Currently Denmark allows civil unions but they are not fully equal in legal rights with marriage.

Scotland is also moving toward legalizing gay marriage and British Prime Minister David Cameron (Conservative) has said that his government plans on doing the same thing. The proposal in Britain already has the support of the Liberal Democrats, a coalition partner in Cameron's government and if Labour Party leader Ed Milliband.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One Evangelical Gets Honest

One of the oldest, and most fraudulent of the "ex-gay ministries," was Love in Action. Love in Action had problems in that it claimed to pray away the gay. But right from the start they had problems—reality doesn't conform to their theology. They simply drove some people into suicide and others left with whiffs of scandal around them because the "cures' were just not happening.

John Smid ran "Love in Action" for years, pretending that Jesus was changing people from gay to straight, including himself. He now admits these cures were elusive and that he's still a gay man, even though he got married as part of the "cure" process. In this clip he says he hasn't "seen many people who have seen an orientation change." Previously he admitted he's seen none. When Rev. Kent Philpott founded LIA he published a book which supposed recounted six "testimonies" of people who changed. They hadn't and some of the people in the book petitioned the evangelical publishing house that was behind the book to withdraw it as fraudulent. The publisher refused.

Smid says that the state should not enforce Christianity. He now says, "I think two gay people should have the same rights as two straight people, because that should not be a Christian decision by the government."

Smid seems to be taking the view that since what fundamentalists have said about "change is possible" being fraudulent, the church needs to rethink how they will deal with the issue. All I can say is welcome to the real world.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Disabled Vet Denied Contractual Benefits Due to DOMA

Veterans who are disabled, as the result of service, are told that they will receive a disability check from the federal government, which hired them. When they marry, the presence of a dependent spouse and/or children, normally means the Veteran's Administration boosts the disability payments.

Carmen Cardona, is married, and was ruled to be 80 percent disabled due to carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. Cardona served for 18 years and rose to the rank of petty officer second class. She was honorably discharged.

But her legally married spouse is of the same sex. They were married last year after spending 9 years together. The VA turned down the request because DOMA requires them to pretend that legally married people are not legally married, if they are of the same sex.

The case was appealed to the Board of Veterans Appeals. That Board said they were "sympathetic to the arguments advanced by the veteran, especially in light of her honorable service." But, the board said it had no authority to change the rule because of DOMA.

I find it interesting that Cardona enlisted before DOMA was passed by a Republican Congress. At the time she enlisted the law did not prevent the VA from giving benefits to disabled veterans who were legally married. So, after she had more than completed her end of the contract, the Republicans changed the rules of the contract, after the fact. Not only was Cardona treated differently from other veterans but the rules were changed midstream. DOMA requires the government to act as if a legal contract with a gay veteran doesn't mean the same thing as a legal contract with a heterosexual veteran.

New York Times on Equality of Marriage

The Defense of Marriage Act forbids the federal government from recognizing legally-bind marriage contracts if they are between two individuals of the same sex. The New York Times, recently editorialized about an attempt to deregulate gay marriage by repealing DOMA.

It noted that the deregulation move has 28 sponsors, none of whom are Republicans. Where are the Republicans in favor of deregulation of same-sex marriage? There aren't any, they are too afraid of the minority of people who are part of the Religious Right. Even at it's height there never was a Moral "Majority." And, on this issue polls show the Republicans are clearly part of an immoral minority.

The Times simply says: "Congress should not need court rulings to recognize the violation of equal protection inherent in the antimarraige act, and should repeal it." Amen. I just wish they felt this way about the reams of other regulations that stifle human freedom.

Read the entire editorial here.

DOMA, Regulations, and the Marines

With the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, military personnel who are gay no longer need worry about be thrown out of the military simply because of their sexual orientation.

But, by no means, are they allowed to the be treated equally. That would be too much for conservatives who firmly believe that gays have lesser rights. This discrepancy in treatment lead three Marines to try to come up with their own solution to government-mandated bigotry.

Under Marine regulations, individuals stationed at Camp Pendleton, who are married, are given a housing allowance as part of their pay packet. This is meant to allow the Marine to live with his or her spouse off-base. ONLY married Marines are allowed to live off-base. Cpl. Ashley Vice, wanted to live with her spouse Jaime Murphy. But the couple was forced to live apart because of the double-whammy of Mormon sponsored Prop 8 and DOMA. First, Prop 8 stripped gay couples in California of the legal right to enter marriage contracts, reinstating government regulations which had said that these contracts were reserved for heterosexual couples only—California had previously abolished regulations restricting marriage rights on the basis of race. Second, under the DOMA regulations the Marines would be forced to disregard any legal same-sex marriage. So, if Vice and Murphy flew to a state that deregulated marriage to allow same-sex couples equal rights, the Marines would still be required by federal regulation to pretend that the couple were NOT legally married.

Now, conservatives told us that military personnel, who will stand up to terrorists, tanks and bombs, are terrified of gay people. They predicted that personnel would flee the military in fear of gays, assuming that the young people in the military hold all the prejudices that old, conservatives hold. Apparently that isn't the case.

Two male Marines, Cpl. Jeremiah Griffin and Cpl. Joseph Garner, learning of the plight of the women agreed to marry them and then use the housing benefits to allow the two women to live together. For this, all three are being given bad-conduct discharges.

One of the things that law and order conservatives are incapable of comprehending is that when regulations restrict the choices of people the law forces people into making choices that are not legal. This is one of the detrimental effects of over-regulation. Now, conservatives whine about over-regulation all the time, but they don't mean it. They don't see how the regulations they support impact groups they hate: such as gay people and immigrants. So, they create a web of regulations, such as DOMA and Prop 8, which are meant to restrict the freedom of choice of groups they target for disparate treatment. The regulatory maze that they impose then leaves the targeted groups fewer choices than they leave white, heterosexual conservatives. This forces the groups who are targeted to take recourses that violate the law, because conservatives have closed off legal options intentionally. Then, these "small government" conservatives crow that they don't really hate immigrants, or hate gay people, they just want them to follow the law. You get this in the conservative whine that they don't oppose immigration, they just want legal immigration even as they work to make the latter nigh unto impossible for most immigrants.

DOMA and Prop 8 show how conservatives lie. They don't want deregulation, and small government. They want a maze of regulations that only apply to groups they really do hate. Both these Big Government sets of regulations strip freedom of choice from some people while living it intact for those conservatives favor. And, as long as legal options are forbidden, illegal options will prevail. In this case, the military lost three recruits, who otherwise were considered good officers. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars were just flushed down the toilet because of DOMA and Prop 8 in just this one case?