Monday, January 26, 2015

The latest in "unhinged"

The panic of the extreme right over marriage equality continues to bubble in ugly ways.  And Oklahoma appears to be the epicenter of The Crazy.

Item:  Oklahoma rep thinks marriage should be restricted to religious practitioners.
Under House Bill 1125, judges would no longer have the power to officiate at marriages and court clerks would not issue marriage licenses. The clerks' only responsibility would be to file the licenses that couples received through their officiating clergy member. Of course, clergy can grant licenses according to their own religious beliefs, which again leaves a lot of gay couples on the outside looking in.

Representative Russ, (photo right) however, has a solution for those who aren't religious or aren't able to receive religious approval.

"They don't have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don't want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage," Rep. Russ told reporters.

Item:  ever reliably anti-gay Oklahoma Rep Sally Kern has a trifecta of anti-gay bills.  In addition to outlawing taxpayer's money supporting gay marriage licenses, and legalizing ex-gay therapy, Rep Kern wants to specifically enable anti-gay discrimination:
House Bill 1597 would make it legal for businesses to flat-out refuse service to LGBT people:

No business entity shall be required to provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges related to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association.
Supermarket, hotel, paramedic, hospital:  you can all discriminate against Teh Gayz.  Leave 'em dying on the street, if you want.

This is reminiscent of the brief effort in Washington to pass a similar bill, at which a legislative staffer commented if a supermarket refuses to sell food to gay couples, they can just grow their own.

Animus, much?

Meanwhile, not in Oklahoma ,Ben Carson warns gays ominously that if they keep asking for wedding cakes, they might be poisoned.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Holding hands: Video Sunday

A straight guy sees what it's like to hold another man's hand in public.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Chris Geidner:
“ALA. CONST. ART. I, § 36.03 (2006) and ALA. CODE 1975 § 30-1-19 are hereby DECLARED to be unconstitutional because they violate they Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The defendant Luther Strange, in his capacity as Attorney General for the State of Alabama, is hereby ENJOINED from enforcing those laws.”
Additionally, Granade provides no stay in her ruling, nor does she provide any discussion of whether a stay was considered. Without a stay, the ruling goes into effect immediately — meaning Granade’s intention appears to be that same-sex couples can marry in Alabama immediately.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A darker view of SCOTUS...

One oddity in the SCOTUS order is that they phrased the questions they want to argue:

1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

And neither of these are about the rights of gay people, but about state's rights.

   From Bradblog:
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe .... told the New York Times that "The rephrased questions technically leave open a middle path along which the court would prevent states from discriminating against same-sex couples lawfully married in their home states without requiring any state to take the affirmative step of issuing its own marriage licenses to same-sex couples."
Indiana University's law professor Steve Sanders, writing at the American Constitution Society blog speculates: "Chief Justice Roberts (who may be thinking about how history will judge him) might see the possibility for some creative middle ground: 'yes' on the right to remain married, but 'question-reserved-for-another-day' on the right to get married."
"In a year or two, the Court could come back," Sanders continues, "and finally drag Alabama, Mississippi and Texas into line. Not unlike Roberts' opinion upholding Obamacare on taxing-power rather than the commerce clause grounds, such a result could be seen as statesmanlike, even Solomonic." 
Hasen, too, speculated that this could be an attempt by Chief Justice John Roberts to split the baby. "This strikes me as the handiwork of the Chief Justice, perhaps looking for a way to have as narrow a win for same sex couples as it is possible to achieve," he wrote. "That is, if the Chief calculates that Kennedy and the liberals are going to reverse the Sixth Circuit no matter what, perhaps this is a way to have that majority write as narrow an opinion as possible."
 That would leave LGBT people in the remaining 13 states in a limbo, where they have to go out of state to be married, and then have their marriage grudgingly recognized at home.  It's a mess, and I hope it doesn't happen.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Is marriage discrimination a form of sex discrimination?

Lawyer Ilya Somin thinks the question should be decided on the grounds of sex discrimination.

Although the sex discrimination argument has been advanced by several academic advocates of gay marriage, nonacademics tend to be skeptical because the same-sex marriage bans seem to be targeted against gays, not men or women. Hostility towards gays is certainly part of the motivation for bans on same-sex marriage. But that does not prevent these laws from qualifying as sex discrimination. In terms of the way the law is actually structured, a same-sex marriage ban in fact discriminates on the basis of gender rather than orientation. And it is perfectly possible to discriminate on the basis of sex even if the motivation for doing so is something other than sexism. 
Consider the hypothetical case of Anne, Bob, and Colin. If same-sex marriage is forbidden, Anne is allowed to marry Colin, but Bob cannot do so. This is so even if Anne and Bob are identical in every respect other than gender. Bob is denied the legal right to marry Colin (and all other men) solely because he is a man. Denial of a legal right solely on the basis of gender is the very essence of sex discrimination. 
By contrast, sexual orientation actually has no effect on the way the law operates... 
All of this simply underscores the reality that a ban on same-sex marriage discriminates on the basis of gender rather than orientation – even if the motivation for the discrimination is hostility towards gays and lesbians. 
It is also not true that a ban on same-sex marriage avoids qualifying as sex discrimination because it affects members of both genders. It still denies rights to both men and women solely on account of their sex. The fact that Bob cannot marry Colin solely on account of gender is not somehow “balanced” by the fact that Anne is similarly forbidden to marry Carol.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Will Roberts vote for marriage?

The New Republic thinks he might.

After all, Roberts has seen what a watershed decision Windsor has been, and he must surely recognize that if the Windsor majority takes the final step to recognize full marriage equality (as it should), that decision will be even more historic and undoubtedly one of the greatest legacies of the Roberts Court. Will Chief Justice Roberts be content to have such a momentous ruling be issued over his dissent, or will John Roberts want to be part of one of the greatest legacies of the Roberts Court?

We should know by the end of June.
That would be a 6-3, far more satisfying that a 5-4.  Most commenters think that Alito will go with Thomas and Scalia in opposing equality.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Panti Bliss : TEDX (Video Sunday)

The Republic of Ireland will decide in May whether to allow marriage equality. Northern Ireland (part of the UK) does not allow same sex marriages.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Here we go: SCOTUS grants cert

As predicted, the Supreme Court decided to address the split in circuits (with the 6th circuit upholding equal marriage bans).  They have granted certiorari to all the cases from the 6th circuit, with arguments in April and a decision in June.

Is this the endgame?  What will be the civil rights legacy of the Roberts court?

From the NY Times:
The Sixth Circuit’s decision upheld bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The Supreme Court agreed to hear petitions seeking review from plaintiffs challenging the bans in each of those states. 
The court said it will hear two-and-a-half hours of argument, probably in the last week of April. The first 90 minutes will be devoted to the question of whether the Constitution requires states “to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.” 
The last hour will concern a question that will be moot if the answer to the first one is yes: whether states must “recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.” 
ThinkProgress is hopeful:

Although the Court is unlikely to hand down a decision on marriage equality until June at the earliest, it may have already tipped its hand. Last October, before the Sixth Circuit weighed in, the Court began denying review of lower court decisions ruling in favor of marriage — an act that also had the effect of allowing those decisions to go into effect in many states. A decision against equality at this stage could potentially unmarry couples who benefited from those lower court decisions. At the very least, it would create the anomalous situation where people who got married before a certain date would remain married, but no new same-sex marriages would be permitted in some states. 
It is unlikely that a majority of the Court would have allowed these lower court decisions to take effect unless they believed that the Supreme Court was likely to rule the same way.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Is it just me, or is the anti-equality side getting increasingly unhinged?

In South Carolina and Texas, lawmakers are trying to pass laws that would refuse to pay the salary of a government employee who legally issued a marriage license to a gay couple .

One activist is calling for the National Guard to be called out to prevent marriages from happening.

More anti-gay laws, under the "religious freedom" meme, are popping up.  Most striking is the one in Virginia proposed to allow anyone to refuse service to any LGBT person.  Need a paramedic?  Too bad, this one won't do CPR on a gay person.  (Its chance of passage is slim, but still...)

Get a grip, people!  Gay people are getting married. The sun still rises.  End of story! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Interesting how they all have the same handwriting

In Houston, anti-gay activists filed petitions to repeal the city's anti-discrimination law (it must really frost them that the Mayor is a married lesbian).  The petitions were rejected for insufficient signatures and they are suing as a result.

Curiously, many of the people who signed the petition have exactly the same handwriting.

Isn't that odd?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What is religious freedom, anyway?

Perhaps what you think and what those against us think religious freedom means, are two different things.  

Rob Donaldson, writing in LGBTQnation:
To Mr. Bruni, or to Robert Boston, author of “Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What To Do,” it is the “right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes and hearts.”

But conservative Christians disagree. To them, it goes much further....

..., they see it in what they believe is the loftier context of how God views everyone’s acts, as either virtuous or sinful. Whether or not such acts are legal under American law is, to them, secondary. They think Mr. Bruni and his allies would define religious freedom so narrowly, as an “interior and private” thing, excluding religiously motivated acts, that it becomes “no freedom at all,” in the Mormon church’s words.

The problem with this view is that, taken to its logical conclusion, it becomes precisely what the Supreme Court warned against in 1879: it would make religious belief “superior to the law of the land, and . . . permit every citizen to become a law unto [themselves].”
He concludes,
as long as the parties in this debate fail to agree on the very definition of “religious freedom,” they will continue to waste time and energy talking past each other about how to protect it. 
I think this can be described simply as a conflict between religious freedom (the interior, private view), and religious privilege (the exterior practice).

See more of our discussion about religious freedom.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Video Sunday: Keep it clean

More advertisers recognizing LGBT couples. Cute. Once filthy commerce gets it, it's unstoppable....

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Vigorous dissent in the 9th


From Scotusblog:
 Three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sharply protesting a three-judge panel’s October ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in two states, argued on Friday that courts at that level of the federal judiciary have no authority to decide that question. The Supreme Court, those judges argued, took away that power forty-two years ago.

The critique, one of the strongest dissenting statements yet issued amid a wave of federal and state court rulings striking down bans on same-sex marriages, came as the en banc Ninth Circuit refused — by a vote of eight to three — to reconsider the panel’s combined decision in cases from Idaho and Nevada.

.... The heart of the dissent was its argument that lower courts are still bound by the Supreme Court’s one-line decision in 1972 in the case of Baker v. Nelson, declaring that a claim to same-sex marriage did not raise “a substantial federal question.” ....

Judge O’Scannlain did make some of the same other points that the Sixth Circuit panel’s majority had, such as the argument that an issue as sensitive as same-sex marriage should be left to the people and the state legislatures to resolve, and that it will be better for the nation and for its people to have it worked out by representative government rather than by the courts. ...|

The Ninth Circuit dissent, though, added another point that went beyond the Sixth Circuit’s ruling against same-sex marriage. The dissenters said that the courts simply have no authority to decide any question about marital policy, because there is a flat “domestic relations exception” to federal court jurisdiction over that field of law, since it is to be left to the states.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Over 70% of Americans now live in states with Marriage equality.  Tomorrow, the SCOTUS may decide to take up the issue in conference discussing the appeals brought before it, particularly the 6th circuit.  There's a good summary of the SCOTUS cases here.

Despite the ever more desperate screams of the opponents, polls indicate that  56% of Americans approve of legalizing same sex marriage, including 41% of Republicans. 

This is almost over. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014

SCOTUS to consider whether to decide

As we all know by now, the Supreme Court doesn't grant a hearing to all appeals put before it. They consider them in a conference, and then decide whether to decide. Box Turtle Bulletin:
The Supreme Court has scheduled January 9, 2015, as the date on which to consider whether to hear appeals in five marriage cases. The states from which these cases originate are Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Louisiana.

In Louisiana a federal judge ruled to uphold the anti-gay marriage ban, and the other four are in the Sixth Circuit, where the appeals court overturned federal judges who had ruled for equality.

We will not know until next month whether SCOTUS will hear any marriage appeals, but if they do so, it will only be those which are requesting that marriages be allowed. In other words, the court has not scheduled for hearing any appeals which could reverse a state’s current practice of allowing same-sex marriage.
Since there's a split in the circuits (with the 6th ruling against equality), the Court is likely to step in.

Let's hope we have a happy new year!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Talking to a gay person can change minds

Why we have to keep coming out and telling our stories.
Some anti-gay voters in California changed their minds five time faster than their neighbors on gay rights, according to the new study. The secret? Openly gay activists went door to door, engaging these conservative opponents in “heartfelt, reciprocal and vulnerable conversations” about what marriage meant to them, according to a press release about the study. The activists didn’t just push gay marriage, they made a point of listening to their opponents' concerns and experiences, the release said.

 The other thing is, the effect lasted.