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.


[Judge] Heyburn took particular exception to a “disingenuous twist” added to the state’s argument this time, referring to Gov. Steve Beshear’s (D) claim that it’s too expensive to allow same-sex couples to marry. “These arguments,” he wrote, “are not those of serious people,” calling them “at best illogical and even bewildering.” He could think of “no other conceivable legitimate reason” for Kentucky’s laws banning same-sex marriage. 
In his conclusion, Heyburn spoke directly to those who objected to his previous decision this year. “In America,” he implored,” even sincere and long-held religious views do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted.” “Assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree… hopefully, even those opposed to or uncertain about same-sex marriage will see it that way in the future.”
The decision has been stayed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Meanwhile in Indiana....

Also from ThinkProgress
U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young, a Clinton appointee, ruled Wednesday that Indiana’s state law banning same-sex couples from marrying or having their marriages from other states recognized is unconstitutional. The ruling takes effect today, though will likely be stayed as rulings in other states have been. 
According to Young, “It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love.” He expects that, “in time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage — not a same-sex marriage.”

“These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away,” he concluded,” are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

Meanwhile in Utah....

From ThinkProgress:
In the first federal appellate level consideration of same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act last year, the 10th Circuit has agreed with the lower court that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. In a 2-1 decision, the panel ruled that the Constitution guarantees that “those who wish to marry a person of the same sex are entitled to exercise the same fundamental right as it is recognized by persons who wish to marry a person of the opposite sex.” 
The ruling was immediately stayed, recognizing that the Supreme Court had stayed thedistrict court’s original ruling earlier this year.

From the opinion:

We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.
As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can   invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.” Id. at 579. A generation   ago, recognition of the fundamental right to marry as applying to persons of the same sex   might have been unimaginable. A generation ago, the declaration by gay and lesbian   couples of what may have been in their hearts would have had to remain unspoken. Not   until contemporary times have laws stigmatizing or even criminalizing gay men and   women been felled, allowing their relationships to surface to an open society. As the district court eloquently explained, “it is not the Constitution that has changed, but the   knowledge of what it means to be gay or lesbian.” Kitchen, 961 F. Supp. 2d at 1203.   Consistent with our constitutional tradition of recognizing the liberty of those previously   excluded, we conclude that plaintiffs possess a fundamental right to marry and to have   their marriages recognized.

"I don't approve of your lifestyle"

After the march that nobody attended (NOM's poorly attended anti-gay marriage march in Washington last week), there was the usual effort by NOM and its friends (I'm looking at you, Abp Salvatore Cordileone) to pretend that they aren't against LGBT people, but just trying to defend the specialness of marriage from Teh Gayz.

It's not personal. They just "don't approve of our lifestyle".

But we know what that really means, and this article, 5 things you REALLY mean when you say I don't approve of your homosexual lifestyle nails it.

You assent that nothing else about me is part of my "lifestyle"; not the job I do, not the worship I attend, not the food I eat, not the gardening I enjoy, not the children I am raising, and most certainly not the palpable and inescapable love I have for God and my neighbor. Next time, just be honest and say "I am grossed out by thinking about your sex life."
That's the biggest one, because it all comes down to an obsession with sex (particular sex between men, because we know that most straight men are turned on by the thought of women having sex.)

You have decided to ignore all social sciences that inform us that human sexuality is on a spectrum and that some people are in fact built (Created) to be attracted to, fall in love with and desire to make a life with people of the same gender. ....Next time, just be honest and say "I don't believe in science."
Because it's perfectly natural to be gay, a normal human variation like having red hair or being left handed, and yes, lots of animals are gay too.

what you are really saying is DO approve of forcing me to live either a dark and dangerous lie or to be completely alone, forever.....Next time, just be honest and say "I don't  approve of you being whole and loved."
#3 particularly applies to the Catholic bishops who are happy to inflict loneliness on complete strangers, whether or not they are Catholic, by demanding that they live celibate and alone.  Funny how it's so easy to lay that cross on someone else.

Fourth approve of me being persistently a second class, slightly fearful citizen living on the same street, shopping in the same community, worshipping at the same church and subject to the stricter laws than you. ... Next time, just be honest and say “I don’t approve of equal rights for all.”
Because really, what effect does my having the right to marry have on anyone else, except my spouse?  Does it hurt any other person that I have full rights of citizenship?

Fifth, for all the believers out there
what you are really saying is you don't trust God to generously create and extravagantly love an amazing array of differently configured children. What you are saying is that God's love is limited to people like you. And sweetie, we can call it blasphemy or we can call it heresy, hell I am happy to call it willful ignorance, but in truth it is just plain old, small-minded, narcissistic religiosity that denies the radical grace and is terrified of the incomprehensibility of God.....Next time, just be honest and say “I don’t believe in your sacred worth."
Abp Cordileone's God is a very small God, don't you think?

Friday, June 20, 2014

What if you gave a march and nobody came?

From Slate:
Four of the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, and depression—were on full display today at the March for Marriage, a rally outside the U.S. Capitol organized by the National Organization for Marriage and other co-sponsors. NOM President Brian Brown had promised attendees the chance to be a part of “showing that there still exists in this country deep and wide support for the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman," but, judging by photos of the event that revealed a shallow and thin crowd that seemed to gradually disperse as the two and a half hours of repetitive speeches wore on, the rally may have shown just the opposite....

It’s in the constant invocation of persecution, which positively soaked the day’s proceedings, that bargaining comes into play. Many of the speakers seem to be wagering that if they can just convince people...that, in the most religious First World country in the world, Christians are more oppressed than LGBTQ people, they will finally see how mean and hurtful this marriage equality stuff really is. According to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, things are basically as bad now as they were for the early Christians in pagan Rome....
News reports show that religion was the primary justification given by the attendees for their opposition to equality. But it's just one type of religion. Polls show convincingly that majorities of (lay) Catholics, Jews, mainline Protestants, as well as religiously unaffiliated folks all support marriage equality.

And on the same day the Presbyterians voted overwhelmingly to allow same sex marriages.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The march4marriage

The anti-equality troops are marching today in DC. Let's be clear on what they want. They want to forbid LGBT couples from marrying. They want to forcibly divorce my wife and me, and deny any recognition of our marriage. They want children of LGBT families to have no legal rights. They want to prevent The Episcopal Church, The UCC, the Lutherans, etc exercising their religious freedom to marry LGBT couples. They want the right to discriminate against us, to fire us from jobs, and to refuse to serve us in restaurants and shops. They may claim they do this out of "love", but they do not. Listen, and you will hear the words of fear.

And over and over again, although they are a minority, they are given prominent opportunities by the media to spread their hate.