Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Update: Waiting in Virginia

Never let it be said that state elections "don't matter". In Virginia, which has such a harsh anti-gay policy that I call it the State of Hate, there has been a complete change since the election of Democratic Governor and Attorney General. They are marriage equality supporters for one. However, the AG is defending the law as it stands. So far, the 4th Circuit has found against the marriage ban, and refused to stay their order further. The marriage opponents have appealed to SCOTUS for a stay. THe AG agrees, because he doesn't want the on-again off-again spectacle of Utah or other states.

The 4th circuit falls under the responsibilities of Chief Justice John Roberts. It's widely assumed that he will continue the stay, since the Supremes also stayed the marriages in Utah. We'll know today. In any case, we'll almost certainly be seeing the Court take up marriage equality in their next session (starts in October).

Update: and, as expected, the stay is granted. No marriages in Virginia this week.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Catholics protests latest firing of gay church employee

In an emotionally charged meeting Wednesday, parishioners of Holy Family Catholic Church in northwest suburban Inverness voiced opinions over the firing of their longtime music director, who lost his job after announcing his engagement to his male partner on social media. 
Many of the roughly 700 people who attended appeared to support Colin Collette, who received a standing ovation when he entered the sanctuary. ....
The church pastor, the Rev. Terry Keehan, organized Wednesday’s meeting “in light of the many and varied emotions that so many of you have expressed,” he wrote in Sunday’s church bulletin.
He called it a “Town Hall Meeting for Listening and Respect” and described it as an opportunity to voice emotions about Collette’s departure. ....
In the bulletin, Keehan also wrote that he was concerned how the various emotions affect “our larger community.” 
“It is truly a very complicated and complex situation,” his message read.
Not complicated in the least.  The church doesn't want to employ gay people who marry.  And, the law says they don't have to--this man was a music director, and that's a ministry.  End of story.   So this is a pointless exercise. I'm not sure what the priest hoped to accomplish.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Analysis of "the Streak"

Scotusblog's estimable Lyle Denniston takes on the concept of a winning streak in marriage equality cases:
What the occasional breaks in the “streak” illustrate, though, is that the outcome is not necessarily predictable as other courts take on the question, and an ultimate Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage is hardly inevitable. ....
The “streak” also has created a lower-court record that, even if it does not produce the same result each time, will surely impress the Supreme Court when it finally allows itself to be drawn into the fray. Some historians have said that they know of no instance when the Court has bucked a trend such as this one has become. 
But the very nature of that trend can also be an argument against the Supreme Court choosing to get involved itself. If the only breaks in the “streak” have been a handful of rulings by divorce-court judges, none of whom so far has gone deeply into the issue before ruling, the Court could conclude that the issue is working itself out sufficiently in lower courts..... 
But that may not happen.
A number of observers who listened to hearings held last week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit came away with a clear impression that a majority of that three-judge panel might well uphold one or more of the state bans in effect in the four states involved in that hearing. 
That kind of a break in the current “streak” would certainly demonstrate that there is a real division of opinion on the question, one that it would take a Supreme Court decision to resolve.
And there are no guarantees from the Supremes.  Ever.

Monday, August 11, 2014

New "Study" from discredited Mark Regnerus

You remember Regnerus, the U. Texas sociologist who claimed kids of gay parents had bad outcomes, only to be censured by his professional society and scolded by his department because he didn't actually study kids with gay parents. NOM et al have tried to build a lot on this, only to have the study decisively thrown out by judges who can think. (Our prior coverage of Regnerus here.) 

He's done another one:  this one a "study" of views of sex.  You can clearly see the goal here is to tarnish anyone who supports equality with the idea that they support all sorts of sexual immorality too, including lack of fidelity and use of pornography.  From the New Civil Rights Movement:
Today, Regnerus has announced the completion of yet another anti-gay study.

It clearly is designed to make same-sex marriage supporters appear "immoral" .... 
"Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage are more likely to think pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are acceptable," Regnerus writes at the Witherspoon Institute -- his benefactor. "And it’s reasonable to expect continued change in more permissive directions."

And he displays his glaring ignorance on same-sex marriage and LGBT people -- as if there are some strange cultural differences married same-sex people exhibit.
Notice the logical fallacy "it's reasonable to expect...."

This has already been used for fund-raising by NOM.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hobby Lobby: A thumb on the scale

From the Advocate:
Of course churches, other houses of worship, and religious schools must have full control over their selection of clergy and those who teach religion and lead religious activities. But when an organization invites people of all faiths (and no faith) to apply for jobs doing nonreligious work (such as food service, janitorial, medical, and business functions), those workers need to be treated just as fairly as in any work setting. No child labor or cheating on wages. No toxic chemicals in the air. And no toxic discrimination either.

Once upon a time, Southern restaurants used religion to explain racial segregation. Businesses have cited the Bible to justify paying women less than men. Attitudes about race and sex discrimination have evolved through a powerful mix of advocacy and outrage. This past spring, bills to allow religiously motivated anti-LGBT discrimination appeared in too many states, including Kansas, Georgia, and Arizona. Because community advocates, corporate leadership, and elected officials stood together, fairness prevailed. Now, given Hobby Lobby’s thumb on the scale for religious interests, it is ever more important that civic, business, and affirming faith leaders create an urgent chorus of support for explicit, effective and equal legal protections for LGBT people at every level of government. Our extraordinarily talented, diverse American community deserves no less.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What it comes down to: Is same sex marriage a new right, or equal access to an existing right?

Excellent analysis by Lyle Denniston:
When judges have ruled that gays and lesbians must be allowed, constitutionally, to marry, they have done so on the premise that this would not be the creation of a new right – that is, not a new-found right special to same-sex couples, but a right to join in equally in the existing, traditional right to marry. Those judges have accepted the argument of the same-sex couples that they want nothing more than equal access to the legal opportunity to wed. That, in essence, is the marriage equality argument. 
When judges have resisted (most often, these days, in dissenting opinions) the idea that same-sex couples’ choice to marry must be constitutionally protected, they have argued that this would be creating a new and special right, and they have noted that the Supreme Court has actively discouraged the crafting of new rights by constitutional fiat, rather than by constitutional amendment or by the acts of legislatures. That, in essence, is the argument against minting a new right. 
Both sides in this exchange can enlist some Supreme Court decisions on their side. After all, the Supreme Court has been working on its interpretation of just what marriage rights encompass for decades – indeed,at least since the late 19th Century. Little by little, the Justices have moved steadily toward the conclusion that, constitutionally speaking, the right to marry is fundamental to the civic order, a right of the highest constitutional rank. 
But yet to be decided, at least for gays and lesbians, is this: just what is the nature of that fundamental right? Is it a sweeping right to choose one’s life mate without interference by government? Or is it a right that is fundamental only because it has deep roots in the traditional definition of one-man, one-woman marriage?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Anti equality arguments just get sillier and sillier

From Slate:

Judge Vaughn Walker raised [a] point with a lawyer defending California’s Proposition 8, demanding to know “how permitting same-sex marriage impairs or adversely affects” straight people’s marriages. The lawyer had this response: “Your honor, my answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know.” 
The problem here, of course, is that an honest answer—“your honor, we believe gay people will destroy the marital institution altogether”—would undermine the supposedly secular, animus-free nature of these arguments. In developing them, anti-gay activists began with a conclusion—gay people don’t deserve the rights that we straight people have—then worked backward, camouflaging each prejudiced premise with a supposedly neutral talking point. Under any kind of scrutiny, these theories instantly fall apart, revealing their bigoted, constitutionally impermissible core.
And yet the inanity continues full-throttle, because gay marriage opponents have backed themselves into the corner they’ve always dreaded. They can’t give up their quest now—but they’re barred from citing the explanations that they truly believe, deep down, to be correct. The result is the current tailspin of idiocy, a shifting argument with rootless standards roaming from rationale from rationale in a desperate attempt to find shelter from the storm of progress swirling around it. It’s a pathetic display, but not an unpleasant one to witness. Stripped of all logic and reason, the argument against gay marriage has been reduced to gibberish. Enjoy the babbling while it lasts.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Video Sunday: Pride (Trailer)

It's Thatcher's Britain.  What happens when a group of gays try to help some Welsh miners on strike?


Friday, July 25, 2014

Voices of Faith: It's not discrimination if you can't discriminate

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Voices of Faith
I wonder if the increasingly hysterical anti-gay right wing ever listens to themselves.  They are claiming that if they are not allowed to discriminate against LGBT people, that is discrimination against THEM.

From Patheos,

So yeah, apparently we’re being “bullied” because in exchange for accepting government funds we have to agree not to fire people for being gay. 
Poor us.
So listen– I think we as Christians need to set something straight before we go any further:
It’s not discrimination when we are prevented from doing the discriminating. It’s not persecution when we are prevented from doing the persecuting. It’s not bullying when we’re told that we can’t bully others. 
It’s not any of those things. 
In fact, we should actually be embarrassed that we even have to be told that it’s wrong to fire someone for these reasons. Your place of business is NOT the same thing as your church– if you want to accept government funds, you’ll have to play by a set of rules that keeps it fair for everyone. Both for you, and everyone else

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making us go away

John Corvino reviews an essay by Michael Hannon.

Hannon argues that religious conservatives should embrace queer theorists’ view that sexual orientation is a social construction, rather than a natural and inevitable feature of persons. Furthermore, they should stop categorizing anyone as gay, because doing so organizes that person’s sexual identity around a particular temptation to sin, leading him to believe that he needs that sin in order to be fulfilled. Finally, and most important, they should stop categorizing anyone as heterosexual, because doing so lets people off the hook as “normal,” thus blinding them to their own sin. The general idea is that shedding these labels will enable people better to focus on the proper Christian grounding for sex and marriage.....

Hannon makes clear exactly what these social conservatives ultimately want. It’s not merely to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry. It’s not merely to refuse to do our wedding photography or to bake our cakes. It’s not even merely to push gay-identified people back into the closet, although that’s an essential—and sufficiently frightening—first step in Hannon’s dismantling fantasy. 
What they want is nothing less than to dismantle the very vocabulary by which we express and realize our inchoate longings for intimacy. They want to push us back to a time when homosexuality was not merely the “love that dare not speak its name,” but the love that could not speak it. They want to restore a regime where the boy with the funny feeling might—if he’s lucky—grow up to have a good-enough heterosexual marriage, but he might just as easily grow up to have a lonely life of furtive, dangerous same-sex encounters. 
The old regime died because it was cruel and inhumane. Hannon seems to hope that, by not naming our reality, he can make it go away. He’s badly wrong about that, and thankfully so.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Video Sunday: The Proud Whopper

Burger King has introduced the Proud Whopper.  (Fundie heads, predictably, are exploding.  Well, they can eat at Chik-Fil-ay).

What is a Proud Whopper, you ask?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why LGBT people should care about women's reproductive rights

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Voices of Faith
Heterosexism, the saying goes, is but one room in the house of sexism.  Gay rights and women's rights are linked, because fundamentally both are based on the equal rights of people who are not straight  males.

From the Rev Harry Knox:
[O]ne fundamental connection that I hope we can all see given the events of the last two weeks. It’s that the struggle for LGBT rights and the struggle for reproductive rights are inseparable—and that we have to change the role religion is playing.... 
the larger goal of the extreme anti-gay, anti-abortion movement, which is that it is not ultimately about LGBT people or reducing the number of abortions. It is about imposing one narrow, religious view of sexuality and reproduction on everyone, with as much government support as possible.... their primary goal is not to reduce the need for abortion, it is to regulate other people’s bodies and decisions and punish anyone who makes choices outside what they establish as the moral norm. I call this approach “moralism.” It is deeply rooted in our American culture and it is deeply religious in nature.
As those committed to LGBT equality and/or reproductive health, rights, and justice continue to move the work forward, I hope that more and more of us will come to recognize that they are, in fact, the same struggle. And when it comes to religion, let me say this clearly: whether or not you identify as person of faith, you can help change the role religion is playing in the struggle. You can help your friends, family, and co-workers understand that the people trying to impose their extreme conservative views on others represent only a small minority of the religious community. You can help them to understand that there are millions of people of faith in this country who believe that every person deserves access to the rights and resources they need to make decisions according to their own beliefs and conscience. 
In order to successfully challenge moralism and the misuse of religion as a tool of discrimination, we need to build a broad, inclusive movement that includes both people of faith and people without a religious affiliation. It must include both religious organizations and secular organizations, and religious organizations cannot be the only ones talking constructively about the role religion plays. 
It is only through new and deeper forms of collaboration that we will overcome the challenge before us. I pray that the events of last week, and those that will undoubtedly come in the future, serve as a rallying cry that creates new energy, new allies, and a deeper sense of solidarity in our shared struggle for justice.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Children of gay couples happier and healthier

Oh, how inconvenient to the fans of Regnerus:

From the WaPo:
Children of same-sex couples fare better when it comes to physical health and social well-being than children in the general population, according to researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia..... 
Crouch and his team surveyed 315 same-sex parents with a total of 500 children across Australia. About 80 percent of the kids had female parents and about 18 percent had male parents, the study states. 
Children from same-sex families scored about 6 percent higher on general health and family cohesion, even when controlling for socio-demographic factors such as parents’ education and household income, Crouch wrote. However, on most health measures, including emotional behavior and physical functioning, there was no difference compared with children from the general populatio

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why am I not surprised? Using Hobby Lobby against gays

From the Atlantic,
This week, in the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that a religious employer could not be required to provide employees with certain types of contraception. That decision is beginning to reverberate: A group of faith leaders is urging the Obama administration to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action. 
Their call, in a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court case by arguing that it shows the administration must show more deference to the prerogatives of religion. 
"We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need," the letter states.
Because nothing speaks to the love of God like refusing to hire a homo.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Religious Roots of (Pro) Gay Rights Activism

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Voices of Faith
Uncovering The Surprising Religious History Of American Gay Rights Activism
Today, although Americans for and against gay rights cite their religious beliefs, those who oppose same-sex marriage and other civil rights for LGBT individuals have been especially vocal in declaring that God is on their side. That's not always been the expectation about the faithful. In the mid-1960s, LGBT activists often looked to men of the cloth as allies in their fight for justice and human rights, according to historians.
Fascinating.  NOt surprisng, though.  Just another example of how we have let a minority (the Religious Right) co-opt religion as though THEY define it.