June 12, 2014

Rick Perry Can Put A Checkmark Next To "San Francisco" Now

Texas Governor Rick Perry is not running for President and he had the not bad idea of speaking in San Francisco now while the Presidential election is far enough off that whatever he said might be forgotten. He spoke at the Commonwealth Club last night.

Commonwealth Club interviewer Greg Dalton then asked him whether he believes homosexuality is a disorder.

"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that," Perry said. "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."

"The large crowd gathered at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill included many Perry supporters. But the comment still drew a murmur of disbelief."

One reader made the comment that in order to keep all non-candidates for the Presidency on the same playing field they all should be asked "Do you agree or disagree with Rick Perry's ideology that homosexuality, like alcoholism, is a choice?"

permalink | June 12, 2014 at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 6, 2014

Wisconsin

Having reviewed the parties' and amici's filings, I am granting plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and denying defendants' motion to dismiss because I conclude that the Wisconsin laws prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples interfere with plaintiffs' right to marry, in violation of the due process clause, and discriminate against plaintiffs on the basis of sexual orientation, in violation of the equal protection clause. So saith Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the Seventh Circuit. She was appointed by President Carter in 1979. She is a native of Green Bay and got her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law school in 1962. (Wikipedia)

These decisions have all been essentially the same. The state presents unbelievable arguments that have been shredded by every judge. Then the state's ban is ruled unconstitutional based on its violation of either due process or equal rights. The interesting variations lie solely in the writing skills of the judges, which range from literary to straightforward legalese.

The decision is not yet effective. The plaintiffs have until June 16 to submit a proposed injunction. After that is dealt with, she will address the defendants' motion for a stay.

Even so, some jurisdictions in Wisconsin are breaking out the party cheese and have begun issuing marriage licenses. "Minutes after learning about this decision, the Office of the Milwaukee County Executive announced the courthouse will stay open until 9:00 p.m. The courthouse will also be open Saturday, June 7, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to process marriage licenses." Usually there is a 5-day waiting period, but the county will waive the waiting period for a $25 fee! Yessirree, that's how you get some revenue. "Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says he will personally cover overtime pay for all employees if he has to." Okay, now they're just going crazy.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, stands firm with the Republican tradition to continue wasting taxpayer dollars on a losing case to deny people their 14th amendment rights. "While today's decision is a setback, we will continue to defend the constitutionality of our traditional marriage laws and the constitutional amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters. I will appeal."

permalink | June 6, 2014 at 05:44 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2014

Time Has Stood Still For Texas Republicans

The Texas Republican Party has refused to allow the Log Cabin Republicans to have a booth at the Texas State Republican convention this year.

"Overall, Log Cabin Republicans of Texas has found incredible support within the Republican party — Texans, like the rest of the country, are evolving on LGBT rights issues," said Log Cabin Republicans of Texas Chairman Jeffrey Davis. "The Republican Party of Texas has even welcomed many of our members as delegates to the Texas State Republican Convention. However, the party has denied our several attempts to host a booth in the convention exhibit hall, citing archaic language in the party platform to support their actions. We deserve to occupy a booth just like anyone else, and it's time that the Texas GOP's hypocritical policies and procedures are replaced by new ones that match the general opinion of Texan Republican voters."

Here is the archaic language cited in the Texas Republican Platform:

Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable "alternative" lifestyle, in public policy, nor should "family" be redefined to include homosexual "couples." We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

This is not simply opposition to marriage or to an anti-discrimination law. The Texas Republican Party wants to roll time backwards a few decades.

permalink | May 30, 2014 at 06:43 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2014

N.S. Sherlock Lives!

Hold onto your hat, in September 2014 the U.S. Census will release an unprecedented report that those same-sex married couples we've been hearing about are, like, married! The mind boggles at trying to visualize the endless, heated conference room meetings to come to this point.

permalink | May 28, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2014

George & Tony's Wedding

Yesterday was George and Tony's wedding. They had a commitment ceremony 10 years ago, but now it's all legal. The wedding took place in Francis Stevens Park in Palm Springs and then we took over a nearby restaurant.

Tony & George's Wedding (2298)

Tony & George's Wedding (2327)

Tony & George's Wedding (2323)
Tony & George
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The Priest Making It Legal (2317)
Gil, a priest, makes it official
. I saw that he gave his title as "Rev," so I'll have to call him that now.

More photos from the wedding here.

permalink | May 23, 2014 at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

North Dakota Stands Alone

In 49 states plus the District of Columbia same-sex marriage is either legal, undergoing court challenge, or has been found unconstitutional and the decision appealed.

Today six couples filed a federal lawsuit to overturn South Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage.

Yesterday four couples filed a federal lawsuit to overturn Montana's ban on same-sex marriage.

Only North Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage remains unchallenged. But Friday is another day.

permalink | May 23, 2014 at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2014

#20: Pennsylvania

Judge John E. Jones wrote this today: "we hold that Pennsylvania's Marriage Laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because these laws are unconstitutional, we shall enter an order permanently enjoining their enforcement. By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth." Judge Jones was appointed to his seat by President G.W. Bush in 2002, upon a recommendation from Senator Rick Santorum. He is a Republican. He ruled in 2005 that a mandate to teach intelligent design in a public school was unconstitutional.

According to the Washington Post same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states plus DC (total of 20) now; there are 21 states where lawsuits are in process but have not yet reached the inevitable declaration that the state's laws are unconstitutional. There are 7 states where the laws have been declared unconstitutional, but there is an appeal ongoing. There are still three states that ban same-sex marriage where no lawsuit is yet underway (Montana and both Dakotas). See map here.

Read the full decision here. There is no stay. It is effective immediately and people are getting married in Pennsylvania as you read this.

The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of "separate but equal." See Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), overruling Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896). In the sixty years since Brown was decided, "separate" has thankfully faded into history, and only "equal" remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.

We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.

permalink | May 20, 2014 at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2014

Utah Adjustment

In Utah, you will recall, same-sex marriages took place from December 20, 2013, to January 6, 2014. On January 8 the Governor's office issued an email saying "[w]herever individuals are in the process of availing themselves of state services related to same-sex martial status, that process is on hold and will stay exactly in that position until a final court decision is issued." It's as though the state tried to pick a middle way. Yes, those marriages are valid, but no, those married people do not get any of the benefits of marriage provided under Utah law.

Today Judge Dale A. Kimball ruled that was just nonsense. Much of the discussion focuses on an adoption cases as an example.

Matthew Barraza and Tony Milner got married in Washington DC in 2010. They adopted a son in 2009, but under Utah law only one of the men could be the adoptive parent. In this case Matthew was recorded as the adoptive parent. The couple got a Utah marriage license and were married again on December 20, 2013. On December 26 they began legal proceedings so that Tony could also adopt their son. A hearing was scheduled for January 10. On January 9 the court decided to stay the adoption proceedings. A hearing was held on that subject on January 29 with the Utah Attorney General filing a brief. On March 26 state Judge Andrew Stone rejected the AG's arguments and ordered that the adoption should go forward. The two fathers duly went to the state Office of Vital Records and showed them the only two required documents: the decree of adoption and the report of adoption. Nevertheless, the registrar also asked for their marriage certificate. The office of the Attorney General instructed the registrar not to issue the new birth certificate. On April 7 the state Department of Health petitioned the Utah Supreme Court for a court order relieving the state of following the orders of federal Judge Kimball. A month later Judge Kimball issued an order for the AG to show why he should not be held in contempt. On May 16 the Utah Supreme Court issued the requested stay.

Judge Kimball pointed out that the state had originally moved this question from state courts to the federal courts and that its attempt to move it to the Utah Supreme Court "appears to be a delaying tactic." Citing Windsor, Lawrence and Strauss (Prop 8) the Judge ruled that the state must afford all the "protections, benefits and responsibilities" of marriage to those who married during that 17-day window, saying the state's current position violates the due process clause of the 14th amendment. He issued a 21-day temporary stay to give the state time to request a stay pending appeal.

Judge Kimball got a BS in Political Science from BYU in 1964. His law degree is from University of Utah College of Law. From 1974 to 1976 he was a full time law professor at BYU. In 1997 President Clinton nominated him to be District Judge.

permalink | May 19, 2014 at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

Oregon

As expected, 9th Circuit Judge Michael McShane overturned Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage because [say it along with me] it violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. The judge wrote his opinion and order in two separate documents. We've seen a range of writing styles in these decisions, but Judge McShane, who is gay, got more personal in his opinion than any of the others. Here is his conclusion:

I am aware that a large number of Oregonians, perhaps even a majority, have religious or moral objections to expanding the definition of civil marriage (and thereby expanding the benefits and rights that accompany marriage) to gay and lesbian families. It was these same objections that led to the passage of Measure 36 in 2004. Generations of Americans, my own included, were raised in a world in which homosexuality was believed to be a moral perversion, a mental disorder, or a mortal sin. I remember that one of the more popular playground games of my childhood was called "smear the queer" and it was played with great zeal and without a moment's thought to today's political correctness. On a darker level, that same worldview led to an environment of cruelty, violence, and self-loathing. It was but 1986 when the United States Supreme Court justified, on the basis of a "millennia of moral teaching," the imprisonment of gay men and lesbian women who engaged in consensual sexual acts. Bowers, 478 U.S. at 197 (Burger, C.J., concurring), overruled by Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 578. Even today I am reminded of the legacy that we have bequeathed today's generation when my son looks dismissively at the sweater I bought him for Christmas and, with a roll of his eyes, says "dad ... that is so gay."

It is not surprising then that many of us raised with such a world view would wish to protect our beliefs and our families by turning to the ballot box to enshrine in law those traditions we have come to value. But just as the Constitution protects the expression of these moral viewpoints, it equally protects the minority from being diminished by them.

It is at times difficult to see past the shrillness of the debate. Accusations of religious bigotry and banners reading "God Hates Fags" make for a messy democracy and, at times, test the First Amendment resolve of both sides. At the core of the Equal Protection Clause, however, there exists a foundational belief that certain rights should be shielded from the barking crowds; that certain rights are subject to ownership by all and not the stake hold of popular trend or shifting majorities.

My decision will not be the final word on this subject, but on this issue of marriage I am struck more by our similarities than our differences. I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families. Families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure. With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed; rather, we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the greater community.

Where will this all lead? I know that many suggest we are going down a slippery slope that will have no moral boundaries. To those who truly harbor such fears, I can only say this: Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."

There is no stay on this decision. There was no defense. The Judge made his decision immediately effective. Marriage licenses are being issued in Oregon today.

The National Organization Against Marriage was denied its motion to intervene in order to act as defense. They want to appeal that decision and they asked for a stay while they appeal. Judge McShane denied that request.

ABC is keeping count and they say this is the 13th victory in a row.

Decisions from Pennsylvania and Virginia are expected soon.

permalink | May 19, 2014 at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2014

Arkansas, Idaho

Judge Piazza's ruling that Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional met a small hiccup when the Arkansas Supreme Court said that he had neglected to list one of the laws banning same-sex marriage in his decision. This error prevented the Supreme Court from issuing a stay. Today Judge Piazza clarified that when he said the ban was unconstitutional, he meant every ban on same-sex marriage in Arkansas was unconstitutional, even if he didn't list them all. I seem to recall Judge Vaughn Walker had to do a similar thing in California in his decision on Prop 8 when Imperial County said that his decision did not say that Prop 8 was unconstitutional in Imperial County specifically. This forced Judge Walker to add that when he ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional he meant it was unconstitutional everywhere in California, even Imperial County.

A scan of yesterday's marriage license in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. I'm not going to strain my eyes to do an accurate count, but it seems that women marrying women are most numerous, followed by men marrying men, and men marrying women comes in a weak third place.

No stay in Arkansas has been announced yet.

The news from Idaho is that there is no news from Idaho, meaning no stay has yet been issued. Same-sex marriage will begin Friday morning without a stay, so I'm sure some lawyers in Boise are scurrying madly.

THIS JUST IN: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary stay pending their decision on a longer stay.

permalink | May 15, 2014 at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)