Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The End, for now

Like a number of other gay bloggers, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, I think this is a natural time to bring this particular blog to a close.  

I started this blog in the wake of Prop 8, first as a way to tell the stories of those of us who had married, and then to chronicle our battles.

First the California Supreme Court.
Then the case from AFER, Perry.
Judge Walker and the federal district court, the 9th circuit, and SCOTUS.

And looking beyond California to other states.  The court battles and legislative fights, until the logjam broke and we started winning elections. Then the Windsor case and the flood of other cases in different states.  And other countries.

I followed the steady rise in support in the polls, until today almost 60% of Americans support marriage equality.  I presented graphs and statistics.

I discussed politics and policy, identifying hypocrites and bad science.

And I made a particular point of highlighting support from people of faith, in a series called Voice of Faith.  Because despite what the media narrative is, "Christian" does not equal anti-gay.  Heck, the Episcopal Church  just voted to change its canons and formally eliminate differences between same sex and opposite sex marriage liturgies!  But I didn't hesitate to highlight the malign effects of religion as well.

Finally, of course, I have been running Videos on Sunday and other days.

The blog will stay here as a resource.

Up at the top of the page, there are tabs for permanent pages including pages about genetics and orientation, and in particular, the Prop8 timeline and theological resources to fight those religious bullies.

There's a slew of other labels  on the right sidebar that you can use to find other posts.

 I may be back, because we haven't finished yet.  We won this particular battle, but there is a long way to go, until being gay finally becomes just a fact, like being left-handed or having red hair.  And there's a lot of anger from the opposition, which is casting our rights as an assault on religious freedom.

So you may hear from me yet.  But till then, please explore what's here and celebrate the journey.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

#Howwefamily (Video Sunday)

Directed by Dustin Lance Black, of Milk fame, this is a Tylenol project.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Voices of Faith: Episcopal Church makes marriage official

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Voices of Faith
Meeting in its triennial General Convention last week, the US Episcopal Church voted on two resolutions. One made the marriage liturgy equally accessible to straight and gay couples, and the other modified the canons in agreement (essentially the church rules). Previously, a special trial liturgy was used for gay couples on a case by case basis, but now they are equal.

Out gay bishop Gene Robinson reflects on how the Episcopalians got there. 

While the resolutions passed overwhelmingly, there's a small handful of dioceses whose bishops disagree, and they are able to refuse permission to marry LGBT people.  However, they must provide some access to marriage.  Whether this is a phone number to a neighboring diocese, or the ability to import a priest, or ecumenical strategies with the Lutherans (the ELCA and The Episcopal Church are in communion with each other), remains to be seen.

Still, it's great news as the Episcopalians join other churches including Lutheran and Presbyterian in allowing same sex marriages.  Or as we can now call it, marriage!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A brief history of how we got here

This excellent article in the Atlantic tells the whole story, starting with a man named Baker....
When Wolfson was a law student at Harvard in 1983, his adviser tried to discourage him from writing his thesis on gay marriage, on the grounds that it was too far-fetched. Sullivan’s 1989 New Republic essay, “Here Comes the Groom,” got a similar reception. “It was difficult just to get past the laugh factor at the beginning,” Sullivan recalled. “I remember going on Crossfire in the early days and having Gary Bauer laugh in my face—‘It’s the most bizarre and silly idea to come down the pike in a long time! It’s ludicrous!’”
and then, how the message changed after the cluster of the Prop8 campaign, as the participating groups started to strategize together
There was stiff resistance within the movement to the new approach. Some thought it made no sense or wasn’t aggressive enough; some resented the strictly vetted, disciplined, sanitized faces the movement was putting forth. But in 2012, after 31 straight losses for gay marriage at the ballot box, Freedom to Marry spearheaded a centralized, politically savvy, message-tested campaign in four states—Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington. On Election Day, the gay-marriage side won in all four states.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Religious freedom and civil marriage

Several states are resisting implementation of the Court's decision on same sex marriages, by throwing up the "religious freedom" meme.

The most extreme example is this, in which a lawyer under Alabama Justice Roy Moore claims
Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.
Well, that's patently not true.  Alabama is NOT a theocracy and neither are these United States, and the oath to uphold the Constitution that they all took is not predicated on "when it agrees with my religious views."

In Michigan, efforts to protect "religious freedom" are renewed, including a demand that marriages only exist in religious settings.
Conservatives in the House have introduced legislation that would only allow religious clergy to perform marriage ceremonies and remove that responsibility from local clerks and judges. Other couples who don't want to use clergy for their nuptials could provide an affidavit of marriage to county clerks. The legislation also would allow marriage certificates to be shielded from public record laws.

"If this legislation becomes law it will protect our public officials from having to perform same-sex marriages and put the marriage licensing business back in the position of being in the realm of the churches and religious leaders," said state Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, in a statement explaining the bill he sponsored.
But that is putting religion front and center in a CIVIL contract.  That is WRONG.

In Texas, the Attorney General has suggested that clerks are free to refuse licenses on religious grounds.  The Dallas Morning News correctly states,
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have equal rights to marry. Top Texas leaders must stop standing in the way by encouraging government employees to invoke a personal religious exception when asked to provide marriage-related services, such as issuing licenses or officiating at civil ceremonies.

Denton County Clerk Juli Luke struck the right tone regarding Friday’s ruling by stating, “Personally, same-sex marriage is in contradiction to my faith and belief. … However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family Bible to uphold the law, and as an elected public official, my personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”
State employees do not have discretion to selectively embrace the constitutional protections they agree with while rejecting those they object to, even on religious grounds. Constitutionally, governments — including their employees — must present themselves as religiously neutral. 
Look, this is not a religious issue.  Civil marriages are civil contracts.  I haven't noticed Roman Catholic clerks refusing licenses to previously divorced people, although such marriages are disallowed by their faith.  Nor devoutly orthodox Jews refusing licenses to interfaith couples.  This is only about bias against LGBT people.  And it needs to stop.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rachel Held Evans nails it (Voices of Faith)

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Voices of Faith
Noted Evangelical Blogger, Rachel Held Evans, summarizes things nicely on her facebook page (Click to read the whole thing)
...Nothing about yesterday’s decision forces people with religious convictions against same-sex marriage to perform those marriages. That freedom is preserved, just as it remains totally legal for a church today to refuse to marry an interracial couple. Yesterday's ruling simply allows for those who do not share that same religious conviction to enjoy the same civil liberties that the rest of us enjoy. Furthermore, is it not a more serious violation of religious liberty to tell a same-sex couple whose religion allows for, and in fact celebrates, marriage that they cannot practice that religious conviction because some of their fellow citizens do not agree with their particular expression of it? Civil rights aren’t up to a vote. They aren’t up to public opinion. Civil rights are part of what it means to be an American citizen. ....

Monday, June 29, 2015

A great overview from CBS (Video )

If this doesn't embed, the link is here.

I just wish they had pointed out that although the opponents claim religion as the basis for their opposition, the majority of mainline Protestant denominations, and the Roman Catholic laity are vigorous supporters of marriage.  Opposition is NOT a "Christian" thing.

Friday, June 26, 2015

5-4 for equality. We win!

From the Opinion:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embod- ies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people be- come something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be con- demned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civiliza- tion’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


It was on June 26, 2003 that a divided Court said in Lawrence v. Texas that a Texas law making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in intimate sexual conduct was unconstitutional.

And on June 26, 2013, a divided Court in United States v. Windsor said that the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) was unconstitutional as a “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

Gay rights are human rights

Okay, it's a campaign video.... but it still made me tear up.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Waiting for Obergefell

Obergefell v. Hodges is the case that will be in the history books, and the decision is expected within the next two weeks, and Jim Obergefell is waiting in line.
Arthur died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease) just three months after the two men married in Maryland in July 2013. They filed suit to try to force their home state of Ohio, where gay marriage is not legal, to recognize their out-of-state union by putting Obergefell's name on the eventual death certificate.

Though Obergefell, wearing a suit and tie in Washington, D.C.'s oppressive June humidity, was first in line – and empty-handed so that he could go straight for the front-row seats without stopping at a locker – his case was not one of the decisions released on Monday.

So, taking time off from his real-estate job back home, Obergefell will be back on Thursday. And again next Monday, and again and again every day the justices expect to issue decisions between now and when the court recesses June 30.
This is what we've been waiting for.  This is the end of the arc that I started with this blog back in 2009, with a challenge to Prop8 in the California Courts. 

It all comes down to this.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Religious liberty and marriage

From one of the amici briefs to the Supreme Court: my emphases

Significant religious liberty issues will  indeed  follow in the wake of same-sex civil marriage. But it  is not an appropriate response to prohibit same-sex  civil marriage in order to  eliminate every risk of  possible  impositions  on religious liberty.  No one can  have a right to deprive others of  their important  liberty as a prophylactic means of protecting his own.  Just as one’s right to extend an arm ends where  another’s nose begins, so each claim to liberty in our  system must be  defined in a way that is consistent  with the equal and sometimes conflicting liberty of  others. Religious liberty, properly interpreted and  enforced, can protect the right of religious organizations and religious believers to live their own lives  in accord ance with their faith. But it cannot give them  any right or power to deprive others of the corresponding right to live the most intimate portions of  their lives according to their own deepest values
It  goes on to argue for robust religious freedom exemptions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Church and society should endorse same-sex marriage (Voices of Faith)

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Voices of Faith
From Lancaster Online:
I write as a 97-year-old retired Mennonite Christian pastor. ....

My wife and I believe the church must rise up and reclaim a godly and wholesome sexuality. A sexuality:

— That includes public vows of faithful love and is blessed within the church (not left to fend for itself outside the church).
— That calls everyone to commit our bodies and to respect the bodies of others (whether homosexual or heterosexual) as temples of the Holy Spirit.
— That is committed to a lifelong monogamous relationship.

We believe gay people should have the opportunity to create a Christian household within the blessing of a lifelong committed relationship. We want them to belong to a church and live a life with faith.

Last year, when the laws of Pennsylvania changed, I was happy to be invited to marry my son and his partner in a small private ceremony in their backyard. What a joy-filled day! I feel that my act of love in officiating this marriage was in line with those in the early church who learned to welcome outsiders into the family of God.

My prayer is that our church leaders will warmly invite into congregational fellowship and the joys of marriage those believers and nonbelievers who have suffered exclusion from our church. And I pray that the laws of our country will assign societal benefits of marriage to them as well.

Let us pray the Spirit of Christ will teach us all how to love and welcome the outcasts, as Jesus did.

Chester L. Wenger was a long-time Mennonite Church pastor and leader, who served as a missionary in Ethiopia for 17 years. The Lancaster Mennonite Conference terminated his credentials in 2014, after he officiated at the wedding of his gay son.