Gay Primary Source

Monday, December 14, 2009

Houston Elects New Mayor

"Tonight the voters of Houston have opened the doors to history. I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who thought we could never achieve high office. I know what it means. I understand, because I feel it too. But now, from this moment, let us join as one community." City Comptroller Annise Parker; elected as the first openly gay mayor of Houston, Texas, the largest city in the U.S. to do so; Dec. 13, 2009.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Positive Spin - Gay Marriage in New York

"It is always darkest before the dawn. The darkest day in the history of the American civil rights movement was in 1857 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Dred Scott, making slavery legal north of the 36th parallel. That was the darkest day for the abolitionists. But when we look back in history, we forget that this was only five years before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862. I understand the anger; I understand the frustration; I understand the feeling of betrayal; and I understand the profound disappointment of those who came to Albany today thinking they could get married tomorrow. But I am also here to tell you that we are not back to square one. Governors don’t come to the Senate floor after losing a vote. This one does, because this is a fight that is bigger than one legislative vote. This is a civil rights issue. Marriage equality is as important as the emancipation of any group from oppression and the granting of equal rights to any community. I believe in my heart that if people had voted their consciences today, we would be celebrating marriage equality tonight. That did not happen. As disappointed as we are today, let’s get up tomorrow and redouble our efforts. We are going to lay the foundation to make people feel comfortable to vote their conscience and not fear political backlash. Now we know who we have to talk to. We are going to quash the intimidation; we are going to alleviate the pressure; we are going to move this issue back to the floor of the Senate and we are going to have marriage equality in New York State and equal rights for everybody." New York State Governor David Paterson, December 2, 2009, on State Senate defeat of same-sex marriage legislation.

The Vote: Dec 2, 2009

DEMOCRATS FOR [courage & integrity]: Eric Adams, Brooklyn - Neil D. Breslin, Albany - Martin Malavé Dilan, Brooklyn - Thomas Duane, Manhattan - Pedro Espada Jr., Bronx - Brian X. Foley, Long Island - Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Bronx-Westchester - Craig M. Johnson, Long Island - Jeffrey D. Klein, Bronx-Westchester - Liz Krueger, Manhattan - Velmanette Montgomery, Brooklyn - Suzi Oppenheimer, Westchester - Kevin S. Parker, Brooklyn - Bill Perkins, Manhattan - John L. Sampson, Brooklyn - Diane J. Savino, Brooklyn-Staten Island - Eric T. Schneiderman, Manhattan-Bronx - Jose M. Serrano, Manhattan-Bronx - Malcolm A. Smith, Brooklyn-Queens - Daniel L. Squadron, Brooklyn-Manhattan - Toby Ann Stavisky, Queens - Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Westchester - Antoine M. Thompson, Buffalo - David J. Valesky, Syracuse.

DEMOCRATS AGAINST [cowards & bigots]: Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., Queens - Darrel J. Aubertine, Watertown - Rubén Díaz Sr., Bronx - Shirley L. Huntley, Queens - Carl Kruger, Brooklyn - Hiram Monserrate, Queens - George Onorato, Queens - William T. Stachowski, Buffalo. REPUBLICANS AGAINST [just plain bigots]: James S. Alesi, Rochester - John J. Bonacic, Middletown - John A. DeFrancisco, Syracuse - Hugh T. Farley, Amsterdam - John J. Flanagan, Long Island - Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., Long Island - Martin J. Golden, Brooklyn - Joseph A. Griffo, Utica - Kemp Hannon, Long Island - Owen H. Johnson, Long Island - Andrew J. Lanza, Staten Island - William J. Larkin Jr., Orange and Ulster Counties - Kenneth P. LaValle, Long Island - Vincent L. Leibell, Brewster - Tom Libous, Binghamton - Elizabeth Little, Glens Falls - Carl L. Marcellino, Long Island - George D. Maziarz, Niagara, Orleans and Monroe Counties - Roy J. McDonald, Troy - Thomas P. Morahan, Rockland County - Michael F. Nozzolio, Seneca Falls - Frank Padavan, Bronx, Queens, Nassau County - Michael H. Ranzenhofer, Erie and Genesee Counties - Joseph E. Robach, Rochester - Stephen M. Saland, Poughkeepsie - James L. Seward, Oneonta - Dean G. Skelos, Long Island - Dale Volker, Erie, Wyoming, Livingston and Ontario Counties - George H. Winner Jr., Elmira - Catherine Young, Olean.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Positive Spin - Gay Marriage in Argentina

"El Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires ratifica su posición en defensa de las libertades individuales y la igualdad ante la ley, tal como lo sostuvo el jefe de Gobierno, Mauricio Macri, diez días atrás. Hoy, martes 1 de diciembre, ante el conflicto planteado entre dos jueces de distintas jurisdicciones, se instruyó al Procurador de la Ciudad para recurrir a la Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación en defensa de la autonomía de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires y de la Justicia local. Provisoriamente, hasta tanto la Corte no se expida, el Gobierno porteño está impedido de realizar el casamiento de Alex Freyre y José María Di Bello."

[translation] The Government of the City of Buenos Aires confirms its position in defense of individual freedoms and equality before the law, as the head of government said, Mauricio Macri, ten days ago. Today, Saturday 1 December, before the conflict set up between two judges from different jurisdictions, it instructed the City Attorney to appeal to the National Supreme Judicial Court in defending the autonomy of the City of Buenos Aires and the Local Justice. Temporarily, until the Court has not been issued, the city's government is unable to perform the marriage of Alex Freyre and José Maria Di Bello.

Attorney General of the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

President Lauds Hate Crimes Bill

"To all the activists, all the organizers, all the people who helped make this day happen, thank you for your years of advocacy and activism, pushing and protesting, that made this victory possible. You know, as a nation we've come far on the journey towards a more perfect union. And today, we've taken another step forward. This afternoon, I signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This is the culmination of a struggle that has lasted more than a decade. Time and again, we faced opposition. Time and again, the measure was defeated or delayed. Time and again we've been reminded of the difficulty of building a nation in which we're all free to live and love as we see fit. But the cause endured and the struggle continued, waged by the family of Matthew Shepard, by the family of James Byrd, by folks who held vigils and led marches, by those who rallied and organized and refused to give up, by the late Senator Ted Kennedy who fought so hard for this legislation, and all who toiled for years to reach this day. You understood that we must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits - not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear. You understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights - both from unjust laws and violent acts. And you understand how necessary this law continues to be. In the most recent year for which we have data, the FBI reported roughly 7,600 hate crimes in this country. Over the past 10 years, there were more than 12,000 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation alone. And we will never know how many incidents were never reported at all. And that's why, through this law, we will strengthen the protections against crimes based on the color of your skin, the faith in your heart, or the place of your birth. We will finally add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. And prosecutors will have new tools to work with states in order to prosecute to the fullest those who would perpetrate such crimes. Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability. At root, this isn't just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another - whether we embrace our differences, rather than allowing them to become a source of animus. It's hard for any of us to imagine the mind-set of someone who would kidnap a young man and beat him to within an inch of his life, tie him to a fence, and leave him for dead. It's hard for any of us to imagine the twisted mentality of those who'd offer a neighbor a ride home, attack him, chain him to the back of a truck, and drag him for miles until he finally died. But we sense where such cruelty begins: the moment we fail to see in another our common humanity - the very moment when we fail to recognize in a person the same fears and hopes, the same passions and imperfections, the same dreams that we all share. We have for centuries strived to live up to our founding ideal, of a nation where all are free and equal and able to pursue their own version of happiness. Through conflict and tumult, through the morass of hatred and prejudice, through periods of division and discord we have endured and grown stronger and fairer and freer. And at every turn, we've made progress not only by changing laws but by changing hearts, by our willingness to walk in another's shoes, by our capacity to love and accept even in the face of rage and bigotry. In April of 1968, just one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, as our nation mourned in grief and shuddered in anger, President Lyndon Johnson signed landmark civil rights legislation. This was the first time we enshrined into law federal protections against crimes motivated by religious or racial hatred - the law on which we build today. As he signed his name, at a difficult moment for our country, President Johnson said that through this law "the bells of freedom ring out a little louder." That is the promise of America. Over the sounds of hatred and chaos, over the din of grief and anger, we can still hear those ideals - even when they are faint, even when some would try to drown them out. At our best we seek to make sure those ideals can be heard and felt by Americans everywhere. And that work did not end in 1968. It certainly does not end today. But because of the efforts of the folks in this room - particularly those family members who are standing behind me - we can be proud that that bell rings even louder now and each day grows louder still." President Barack Obama, October 28, 2009 (Remarks by the President at Reception Commemorating the Enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act).

President Signs Hate Crimes Bill

"So today I'm pleased to say that we have proved that change is possible. It may not come quickly, or all at once, but if you push hard enough, it does come eventually. Now, speaking of that, there is one more long-awaited change contained within this legislation that I'll be talking about a little more later today. After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are. I promised Judy Shepard, when she saw me in the Oval Office, that this day would come, and I'm glad that she and her husband Dennis could join us for this event. I'm also honored to have the family of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who fought so hard for this legislation. And Vicki and Patrick, Kara, everybody who's here, I just want you all to know how proud we are of the work that Ted did to help this day -- make this day possible. So -- and thank you for joining us here today. So, with that, I'm going to sign this piece of legislation. Thank you all for doing a great job. All right. (The Act is signed.) (Applause.) 2:52 P.M. EDT." President Barack Obama, October 28, 2009 (Remarks by the President at the Signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Senator Feingold Exlains 'No' Vote

"I oppose this legislation because it does nothing to bring our open-ended and disproportionate military commitment in Afghanistan to an end and or to ensure that our troops are safely and expeditiously redeployed from Iraq. I am concerned that our current military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan may undermine our ability to combat al Qaeda while imposing a tremendous burden on our brave service members and on American taxpayers. This bill includes several important provisions, including provisions I authored that will help improve care for wounded warriors, and the hate crimes legislation that was first introduced over eight years ago. But I cannot support a bill that does not do enough to protect our country from our top national security threat, al Qaeda." Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold on the Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

US Senate Passes Hate Crimes Bill

H.R.2647 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Engrossed Amendment as Agreed to by Senate) - Division E - Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act - Section 4702 - Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The incidence of violence motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim poses a serious national problem.
(2) Such violence disrupts the tranquility and safety of communities and is deeply divisive.
(3) State and local authorities are now and will continue to be responsible for prosecuting the overwhelming majority of violent crimes in the United States, including violent crimes motivated by bias. These authorities can carry out their responsibilities more effectively with greater Federal assistance.
(4) Existing Federal law is inadequate to address this problem.
(5) A prominent characteristic of a violent crime motivated by bias is that it devastates not just the actual victim and the family and friends of the victim, but frequently savages the community sharing the traits that caused the victim to be selected.
(6) Such violence substantially affects interstate commerce in many ways, including the following:
(A) The movement of members of targeted groups is impeded, and members of such groups are forced to move across State lines to escape the incidence or risk of such violence.
(B) Members of targeted groups are prevented from purchasing goods and services, obtaining or sustaining employment, or participating in other commercial activity.
(C) Perpetrators cross State lines to commit such violence.
(D) Channels, facilities, and instrumentalities of interstate commerce are used to facilitate the commission of such violence.
(E) Such violence is committed using articles that have traveled in interstate commerce.
(7) For generations, the institutions of slavery and involuntary servitude were defined by the race, color, and ancestry of those held in bondage. Slavery and involuntary servitude were enforced, both prior to and after the adoption of the 13th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, through widespread public and private violence directed at persons because of their race, color, or ancestry, or perceived race, color, or ancestry. Accordingly, eliminating racially motivated violence is an important means of eliminating, to the extent possible, the badges, incidents, and relics of slavery and involuntary servitude.
(8) Both at the time when the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States were adopted, and continuing to date, members of certain religious and national origin groups were and are perceived to be distinct `races'. Thus, in order to eliminate, to the extent possible, the badges, incidents, and relics of slavery, it is necessary to prohibit assaults on the basis of real or perceived religions or national origins, at least to the extent such religions or national origins were regarded as races at the time of the adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
(9) Federal jurisdiction over certain violent crimes motivated by bias enables Federal, State, and local authorities to work together as partners in the investigation and prosecution of such crimes.
(10) The problem of crimes motivated by bias is sufficiently serious, widespread, and interstate in nature as to warrant Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes.

Passed by the Senate, October 22, 2009

YEAs - 68 - Akaka (D-HI) - Baucus (D-MT) - Bayh (D-IN) - Begich (D-AK) - Bennet (D-CO) - Bingaman (D-NM) - Bond (R-MO) - Boxer (D-CA) - Brown (D-OH) - Burris (D-IL) - Cantwell (D-WA) - Cardin (D-MD) - Carper (D-DE) - Casey (D-PA) - Collins (R-ME) - Conrad (D-ND) - Cornyn (R-TX) - Dodd (D-CT) - Dorgan (D-ND) - Durbin (D-IL) - Ensign (R-NV) - Feinstein (D-CA) - Franken (D-MN) - Gillibrand (D-NY) - Gregg (R-NH) - Hagan (D-NC) - Harkin (D-IA) - Hutchison (R-TX) - Inouye (D-HI) - Johnson (D-SD) - Kaufman (D-DE) - Kerry (D-MA) - Kirk (D-MA) - Klobuchar (D-MN) - Kohl (D-WI) - Landrieu (D-LA) - Lautenberg (D-NJ) - Leahy (D-VT) - Levin (D-MI) - Lieberman (ID-CT) - Lincoln (D-AR) - Lugar (R-IN) - McCain (R-AZ) - McCaskill - D-MO) - Menendez (D-NJ) - Merkley (D-OR) - Mikulski (D-MD) - Murray (D-WA) - Nelson (D-FL) - Nelson (D-NE) - Pryor (D-AR) - Reed (D-RI) - Reid (D-NV) - Rockefeller (D-WV) - Sanders (I-VT) - Schumer (D-NY) - Shaheen (D-NH) - Snowe (R-ME) - Specter (D-PA) - Stabenow (D-MI) - Tester (D-MT) - Udall (D-CO) - Udall (D-NM) - Voinovich (R-OH) - Warner (D-VA) - Webb (D-VA) - Whitehouse (D-RI) - Wyden (D-OR).

NAYs - 29 - Alexander (R-TN) - Barrasso (R-WY) - Bennett (R-UT) - Brownback (R-KS) - Bunning (R-KY) - Burr (R-NC) - Chambliss (R-GA) - Coburn (R-OK) - Cochran (R-MS) - Corker (R-TN) - Crapo (R-ID) - DeMint (R-SC) - Enzi (R-WY) - Feingold (D-WI) - Graham (R-SC) - Grassley (R-IA) - Inhofe (R-OK) - Isakson (R-GA) - Johanns (R-NE) - Kyl (R-AZ) - LeMieux (R-FL) - McConnell (R-KY) - Risch (R-ID) - Roberts (R-KS) - Sessions (R-AL) - Shelby (R-AL) - Thune (R-SD) - Vitter (R-LA) - Wicker (R-MS).

Not Voting - 3 - Byrd (D-WV) - Hatch (R-UT) - Murkowski (R-AK)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Israeli President Supports Gay Community

"The shots fired at the beginning of the week at the gay and lesbian community hurt all of us - as people, as Jews, as Israelis. The person who pointed a pistol barrel at Nir Katz and Liz Trobishi pointed it all of you, all of us, at me. All citizens are citizens with equal rights. Every man was created equal, and every citizen has the right to be who they want to be." [translated] Israeli President Shimon Peres, August 16, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

APA Slams Reparative Therapy

"Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation. Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions. At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex. Unfortunately, much of the research in the area of sexual orientation change contains serious design flaws. Few studies could be considered methodologically sound and none systematically evaluated potential harms.
Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome... In other words, we recommend that psychologists be completely honest about the [non-]likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality." Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, American Psychological Association, August 5, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Congressman Spearheads Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell

"Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell clearly isn’t working for our military, and it hinders national security and military readiness at a time when America is fighting in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy. “My time in Iraq taught me that our military needs and deserves the best and the brightest who are willing to serve- and that means all Americans, regardless of their orientation. Discharging brave and talented servicemembers from our armed forces is contrary to the values that our military fights for and that our nation holds dear.” Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA), July 8, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Massachusetts Sues Feds to Overturn DOMA

"In this month of July, as we have just celebrated the Fourth of July and our Independence Day and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we, or at least some of us, are reminded that the phrase, "All Men are Created Equal," at the time really referred to only certain men, and at the time, only certain men who owned property. Much has clearly changed in this country since 1776. As our country grew, our population grew, and our Bill of Rights and the interpretation of them included a rational and evolving sense of what liberty and justice and equality for all meant. It’s not as important as to what the founding fathers would have done in the 18th Century, as to what their vision, based upon their espoused principle at the time, would do today. And we believe that as Massachusetts, in 2004 when our Supreme Judicial Court interpreted those words of John Adams in our Constitution upon which the U.S. Constitution is based, to mean that if the state of Massachusetts is to confer rights and responsibilities to some married couples, it must provide equally to all couples who choose to assume those rights and responsibilities.

Today, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Federal Defense of the Marriage Act, otherwise known as DOMA. In 2004, as I mentioned, Massachusetts became the first state to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, and since that time, more than 16,000 committed and qualified same-sex couples have married in our state. Our families, our communities, and even our economy, have seen the many important benefits that come from recognizing equal marriage rights, and frankly, no downside. However, we have also seen how many of our married residents and their families are being hurt by a discriminatory, unprecedented, and, we believe, unconstitutional federal law. The Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996, creates a federal definition of marriage limited to a union between one man and one woman. What this means is that for married same-sex couples in Massachusetts, they are not recognized as married for purposes of all federal laws.

We are taking this action today because, first, DOMA directly interferes with Massachusetts’ long-standing sovereign authority to define and regulate the marital status of its residents, which – by the way – all states have enjoyed, until this instance, to define and regulate the marital status of its residents. Massachusetts has a single category of married persons and we view all married persons equally and identically. DOMA divides that category into two distinct and unequal classes of marriage in our state by denying hundreds of rights and protections to married same-sex couples and their families. Second, we believe that DOMA is a discriminatory law that unfairly penalizes married same-sex couples and their families. And third, DOMA puts Massachusetts in the difficult position of choosing between complying with the mandates of federal programs that require Massachusetts to disregard marriages that are valid under our state law, or risk losing federal funding, by ensuring that Massachusetts residents are treated equally under our Constitution.

DOMA is an act, as I mentioned, enacted in 1996 by our Congress. It was passed in anticipation that the state of Hawaii would recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry. It has two substantive provisions. Section 3, which is the one we challenged today, it defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman for the purposes of all federal laws and regulations. And I should mention that the other substantive provision, Section 2, is not challenged in our lawsuit. That establishes that no state shall be required to recognize a same-sex marriage that is entered into in another state. That provision is known as the "Full Faith and Credit Provision," and it is not challenged today by us in this lawsuit. But what DOMA does mean for Massachusetts couples with the application of Section 3, is that access to over 1,100 important rights and protections that directly affect couples and their families are affected. These include federal income tax credits, employment and retirement benefits, health insurance coverage, and Social Security payments.

The following are examples of some of the rights and protections that are denied to those couples. Income tax, for example: married couples have the option to file jointly, which can enable them to pay lower taxes. Spouses can contribute portions of their income to I.R.A.’s of their spouses, not in Massachusetts who are otherwise legally married. The gift tax: Spouses have an unlimited ability to make gifts and transfer property to one another without incurring tax consequences, but not for single-sex couples in Massachusetts. Flexible Spending Accounts, Social Security Spousal Benefits, Medicare, Medical Leave. Public Safety Officer Benefits: For example, spouses of public safety officers – police officers or firefighters – and military veterans are entitled to healthcare coverage, annuities, and tuition fees, as well as survivor benefits, if their spouse is killed in the line of duty, but not in Massachusetts for those same-sex couples. Because of DOMA, all of those above rights and protections are denied to married same-sex couples and their families.

As I mentioned, same-sex couples have been married quite successfully in Massachusetts for over five years. They are entitled to equal treatment under the laws regardless of whether they are gay or straight. Married same-sex couples seek nothing more than to be treated fairly and equally, like all other married couples, with all of the protections and responsibilities that come with marriage. And we seek that in our lawsuit today. I might add that it is my belief, that because it has been so successful in Massachusetts, that other states, particularly in New England, have followed our lead, and we believe that the move toward equality in this country will dictate that it is only fair and just that same-sex marriages be recognized. But our lawsuit again is confined to Massachusetts and the impact of DOMA on Massachusetts. It affects the Commonwealth as we are an employer. The Commonwealth issues family health policies to its employees. These employees may obtain healthcare coverage for their spouses. But because of Section 3 of DOMA, the Commonwealth must withhold additional federal taxes from married individuals in same-sex couples who choose to cover their spouses on their health insurance plans. Different-sex spouses do not pay the extra income tax because healthcare coverage for those spouses does not count as taxable income under the federal tax code.

DOMA, through its application to the Internal Revenue Code, requires Massachusetts to be part of discrimination against same-sex couples, and frankly creates a paperwork nightmare and an unnecessary burden as we have this two-tiered system of bookkeeping for all of these benefits. It affects the Commonwealth, as we are an administrator of jointly-funded programs. For MassHealth, which is our Medicaid program, we receive funding from the federal government and provide healthcare coverage to low and moderate-income individuals. DOMA, requires by law, that we treat individuals differently depending upon whether they are same-sex couple or different-sex couples. In terms of veterans’ services, the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services operates cemeteries in Agawam and Winchendon for the burial of Massachusetts veterans and their spouses. We receive money for those purposes and federal grants to construct and improve them. The federal government has said that, in this instance, we cannot inter in either of its cemeteries the same-sex spouses of military veterans, because they are not considered to be spouses under federal law. That seems, to us, to not make sense and to be unfair.

The theories by which we brought this lawsuit allege that they violate, that DOMA violates the Tenth Amendment, to the Bill of Rights. It violates the Spending Clause, and we are seeking a claim of declaratory relief as to Massachusetts and the effect of DOMA. We are specifically seeking a declaration that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to Massachusetts and its federally funded programs, is unconstitutional. We are also seeking an injunction that prohibits the federal government and its agencies for enforcing DOMA against the Commonwealth. We believe, based upon Tenth Amendment sovereignty issues, that Congress has impermissibly interfered with state sovereignty in violation of the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Briefly, under our system of government, there are, although there are not many left, there are certain powers and authorities that are delegated to the federal government and others remaining to the states. For over 200 years, the federal government recognized that the authority to create and regulate marital status was a power that belonged exclusively to the states and was an essential aspect of each state’s sovereignty. However, as a result of this statute, as of DOMA, the federal government invades that sovereignty, we believe, and is a violation of the Constitution.

We also believe that it violates the Spending Clause, because under the Spending Clause power Congress has wide latitude to impose conditions on states seeking to obtain funding for a variety of programs. We recognize that and we accept that. For example, Congress can require states not to discriminate on the basis of race as a condition for funding. However, one clear limitation on congressional authority in this area is that Congress cannot induce states to violate the constitutional rights of its citizens in order to qualify for funding. Our lawsuit asserts that DOMA is unconstitutional because it now requires us, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to disregard the marriages of same-sex couples when implementing federally-funded programs. Again, as our Supreme Court said under our Constitution, it is unconstitutional for Massachusetts to not allow same-sex couples to marry. We believe that we cannot and should not violate the equal protection rights of our citizens in Massachusetts who choose to be married. What this lawsuit does not cover? It is, as I mentioned, limited to Section 3 and only on the Commonwealth. We do not assert any claims regarding how other states define marriage, nor is this necessarily about the right to marry. We don’t assert claims whether the federal constitution permits or prevents a state from extending civil marriage license to same-sex couples.

What we do seek to do today by filing this lawsuit, however, is to remedy the fundamental unfairness that DOMA causes to Massachusetts and its residents by denying those residents equal treatment under the law."

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, July 8, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Homosexuality Decriminalized in India

"The notion of equality in the Indian Constitution flows from the ‘Objective Resolution’ moved by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on December 13, 1946. Nehru, in his speech, moving this Resolution wished that the House should consider the Resolution not in a spirit of narrow legal wording, but rather look at the spirit behind that Resolution. He said, "Words are sometimes cannot convey the magic of the human spirit and of a Nation’s passion. (The Resolution) seeks very feebly to tell the world of what we have thought or dreamt of so long, and what we now hope to achieve in the near future." [Constituent Assembly Debates: Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi: 1999, Vol. I, pages 57-65].

If there is one constitutional tenet that can be said to be underlying theme of the Indian Constitution, it is that of 'inclusiveness'. This Court believes that Indian Constitution reflects this value deeply ingrained in Indian society, nurtured over several generations. The inclusiveness that Indian society traditionally displayed, literally in every aspect of life, is manifest in recognising a role in society for everyone. Those perceived by the majority as "deviants' or 'different' are not on that score excluded or ostracised. Where society can display inclusiveness and understanding, such persons can be assured of a life of dignity and nondiscrimination.

This was the 'spirit behind the Resolution' of which Nehru spoke so passionately. In our view, Indian Constitutional law does not permit the statutory criminal law to be held captive by the popular misconceptions of who the LGBTs are. It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is antithesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality which will foster the dignity of every individual. We declare that Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private, is violative of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution. The provisions of Section 377 IPC will continue to govern non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non-vaginal sex involving minors. By 'adult' we mean everyone who is 18 years of age and above. A person below 18 would be presumed not to be able to consent to a sexual act. This clarification will hold till, of course, Parliament chooses to amend the law to effectuate the recommendation of the Law Commission of India in its 172nd Report which we believe removes a great deal of confusion. Secondly, we clarify that our judgment will not result in the re-opening of criminal cases involving Section 377 IPC that have already attained finality. We allow the writ petition in the above terms."

Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar, for Delhi High Court, New Delhi, July 2, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

White House LGBT Pride Month Reception

"Now this struggle, I don't need to tell you, is incredibly difficult, although I think it's important to consider the extraordinary progress that we have made. There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop. And though we've made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted. And I know this is painful and I know it can be heartbreaking.

And yet all of you continue, leading by the force of the arguments you make but also by the power of the example that you set in your own lives - as parents and friends, as PTA members and leaders in the community. And that's important, and I'm glad that so many LGBT families could join us today. For we know that progress depends not only on changing laws but also changing hearts. And that real, transformative change never begins in Washington.

Indeed, that's the story of the movement for fairness and equality - not just for those who are gay, but for all those in our history who've been denied the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; who've been told that the full blessings and opportunities of this country were closed to them. It's the story of progress sought by those who started off with little influence or power; by men and women who brought about change through quiet, personal acts of compassion and courage and sometimes defiance wherever and whenever they could.

That's the story of a civil rights pioneer who's here today, Frank Kameny, who was fired - Frank was fired from his job as an astronomer for the federal government simply because he was gay. And in 1965, he led a protest outside the White House, which was at the time both an act of conscience but also an act of extraordinary courage. And so we are proud of you, Frank, and we are grateful to you for your leadership.

It's the story of the Stonewall protests, which took place 40 years ago this week, when a group of citizens - with few options, and fewer supporters - decided they'd had enough and refused to accept a policy of wanton discrimination. And two men who were at those protests are here today. Imagine the journey that they've travelled.

It's the story of an epidemic that decimated a community - and the gay men and women who came to support one another and save one another; and who continue to fight this scourge; and who demonstrated before the world that different kinds of families can show the same compassion and support in a time of need - that we all share the capacity to love.

So this story, this struggle, continues today - for even as we face extraordinary challenges as a nation, we cannot - and will not - put aside issues of basic equality. We seek an America in which no one feels the pain of discrimination based on who you are or who you love.

And I know that many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.

But I say this: We have made progress and we will make more. And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps. We've been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration.

Now, while there is much more work to do, we can point to important changes we've already put in place since coming into office. I've signed a memorandum requiring all agencies to extend as many federal benefits as possible to LGBT families as current law allows. And these are benefits that will make a real difference for federal employees and Foreign Service Officers, who are so often treated as if their families don't exist. I've called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination - to help end discrimination against same-sex couples in this country. Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I've made that clear.

I'm also urging Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, which will guarantee the full range of benefits, including health care, to LGBT couples and their children. My administration is also working hard to pass an employee non-discrimination bill and hate crimes bill, and we're making progress on both fronts. Judy and Dennis Shepard, as well as their son Logan, are here today. I met with Judy in the Oval Office in May - and I assured her and I assured all of you that we are going to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill into law, a bill named for their son Matthew.

In addition, my administration is committed to rescinding the discriminatory ban on entry to the United States based on HIV status. The Office of Management and Budget just concluded a review of a proposal to repeal this entry ban, which is a first and very big step towards ending this policy. And we all know that HIV/AIDS continues to be a public health threat in many communities, including right here in the District of Columbia. And that's why this past Saturday, on National HIV Testing Day, I was proud once again to encourage all Americans to know their status and get tested the way Michelle and I know our status and got tested.

And finally, I want to say a word about "don't ask, don't tell." As I said before - I'll say it again - I believe "don't ask, don't tell" doesn't contribute to our national security. In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security. Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we'll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.

Someday, I'm confident, we'll look back at this transition and ask why it generated such angst, but as Commander-in-Chief, in a time of war, I do have a responsibility to see that this change is administered in a practical way and a way that takes over the long term. That's why I've asked the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a plan for how to thoroughly implement a repeal.

I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy - patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who've served this country well. But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it is essential for our national security.

Now, even as we take these steps, we must recognize that real progress depends not only on the laws we change but, as I said before, on the hearts we open. For if we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that there are good and decent people in this country who don't yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters - not yet. That's why I've spoken about these issues not just in front of you, but in front of unlikely audiences - in front of African American church members, in front of other audiences that have traditionally resisted these changes. And that's what I'll continue to do so. That's how we'll shift attitudes. That's how we'll honor the legacy of leaders like Frank and many others who have refused to accept anything less than full and equal citizenship.

Now, 40 years ago, in the heart of New York City at a place called the Stonewall Inn, a group of citizens, including a few who are here today, as I said, defied an unjust policy and awakened a nascent movement. It was the middle of the night. The police stormed the bar, which was known for being one of the few spots where it was safe to be gay in New York. Now, raids like this were entirely ordinary. Because it was considered obscene and illegal to be gay, no establishments for gays and lesbians could get licenses to operate. The nature of these businesses, combined with the vulnerability of the gay community itself, meant places like Stonewall, and the patrons inside, were often the victims of corruption and blackmail.

Now, ordinarily, the raid would come and the customers would disperse. But on this night, something was different. There are many accounts of what happened, and much has been lost to history, but what we do know is this: People didn't leave. They stood their ground. And over the course of several nights they declared that they had seen enough injustice in their time. This was an outpouring against not just what they experienced that night, but what they had experienced their whole lives. And as with so many movements, it was also something more: It was at this defining moment that these folks who had been marginalized rose up to challenge not just how the world saw them, but also how they saw themselves.

As we've seen so many times in history, once that spirit takes hold there is little that can stand in its way. And the riots at Stonewall gave way to protests, and protests gave way to a movement, and the movement gave way to a transformation that continues to this day. It continues when a partner fights for her right to sit at the hospital bedside of a woman she loves. It continues when a teenager is called a name for being different and says, "So what if I am?" It continues in your work and in your activism, in your fight to freely live your lives to the fullest.

In one year after the protests, a few hundred gays and lesbians and their supporters gathered at the Stonewall Inn to lead a historic march for equality. But when they reached Central Park, the few hundred that began the march had swelled to 5,000. Something had changed, and it would never change back.

The truth is when these folks protested at Stonewall 40 years ago no one could have imagined that you - or, for that matter, I - would be standing here today. So we are all witnesses to monumental changes in this country. That should give us hope, but we cannot rest. We must continue to do our part to make progress - step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind. And I want you to know that in this task I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a President who fights with you and for you."

Remarks by President Barack Obama at LGBT Pride Month Reception, East Room of the White House, June 29, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Los Angeles Mayor Comments on Prop 8 Ruling

"I traveled to Sacramento today to work with our state legislators to help address a budget crisis caused by a broken system in California - one that puts the process of balancing our books in the hands of a few swing votes in the legislature and requires us to cross a nearly insurmountable threshold just to keep our state’s finances afloat. At the same time, the state Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, stating that the future of thousands of Californians - the extent of our state's commitment to equal opportunity for all citizens to solidify bonds of love and build healthy, caring families - can be determined by the will of a bare majority of voters. These two situations reflect a chilling truth we must face as a community and as a state: That when a bare majority can strip away a fundamental right - yet it takes a two-thirds vote to pass a budget - then our system is fundamentally broken. While there is much to criticize in today’s court decision and there will be plenty of debates about our path forward, one thing is clear: This debate will rest in the hands of the people. And that might just be the best place for it because the fight for equality is not about morality or religion, our schools or our places of work. It's about real people and real human beings. It's about men and women trying to lead successful lives with those they love. It's about parents hoping to raise a family and ready to accept the responsibilities that come along with a lifelong commitment to your spouse and your children. In the coming years - as we make our case to voters and as the majority of our neighbors come to understand the real, painful, human impact of Prop 8 across California - I am confident that this state will have a change of heart, will reiterate its broader commitment to justice for every citizen, and will overturn this unjust ban at the ballot box." Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in response to the State Supreme Court Ruling on Proposition 8, June 17, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

President Extends Equal Benefits


SUBJECT: Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination
Millions of hard-working, dedicated, and patriotic public servants are employed by the Federal Government as part of the civilian workforce, and many of these devoted Americans have same-sex domestic partners. Leading companies in the private sector are free to provide to same-sex domestic partners the same benefits they provide to married people of the opposite sex. Executive departments and agencies, however, may only provide benefits on that basis if they have legal authorization to do so. My Administration is not authorized by Federal law to extend a number of available Federal benefits to the same-sex partners of Federal employees. Within existing law, however, my Administration, in consultation with the Secretary of State, who oversees our Foreign Service employees, and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, who oversees human resource management for our civil service employees, has identified areas in which statutory authority exists to achieve greater equality for the Federal workforce through extension to same-sex domestic partners of benefits currently available to married people of the opposite sex. Extending available benefits will help the Federal Government compete with the private sector to recruit and retain the best and the brightest employees.

I hereby request the following:

Section 1. Extension of Identified Benefits. The Secretary of State and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall, in consultation with the Department of Justice, extend the benefits they have respectively identified to qualified same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees where doing so can be achieved and is consistent with Federal law.

Sec. 2. Review of Governmentwide Benefits. The heads of all other executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management, shall conduct a review of the benefits provided by their respective departments and agencies to determine what authority they have to extend such benefits to same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees. The results of this review shall be reported within 90 days to the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, who, in consultation with the Department of Justice, shall recommend to me any additional measures that can be taken, consistent with existing law, to provide benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal Government employees.

Sec. 3. Promoting Compliance with Existing Law Requiring Federal Workplaces to be Free of Discrimination Based on Non-Merit Factors. The Office of Personnel Management shall issue guidance within 90 days to all executive departments and agencies regarding compliance with, and implementation of, the civil service laws, rules, and regulations, including 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(10), which make it unlawful to discriminate against Federal employees or applicants for Federal employment on the basis of factors not related to job performance.

President Barack Obama, June 17, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Governor of New Hampshire Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"New Hampshire’s great tradition has always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections. That tradition continues today. Two years ago in this room, I signed civil unions into law. That law gave same-sex couples in New Hampshire the rights and protections of marriage. And while civil unions was recognized as a step forward, many same-sex couples made compelling arguments that a separate system is not an equal system. They argued that what might appear to be a minor difference in wording to some, lessened the dignity and legitimacy of their families. At the same time, the word "marriage" has significant and religious connotations to many of our citizens. They had concerns that this legislation would interfere with the ability of religious groups to freely practice their faiths. Today, we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities - and respect - under New Hampshire law... With the signing of this legislation today, New Hampshire will have taken every action possible to ensure that all families have equal rights to the extent that is possible under state law. Unfortunately, the federal government does not extend the same rights and protections that New Hampshire provides same-sex families, and that should change. Here in New Hampshire, this debate has been filled with passion and emotion on both sides. Two years ago, after an equally passionate debate, the people of New Hampshire embraced civil unions as a natural part of New Hampshire’s long tradition of opposing discrimination. It is my hope, and my belief, that New Hampshire will again come together to embrace tolerance and respect, and to stand against discrimination. That has how we in New Hampshire have always lived our lives and that is how we will continue as we move forward. Most families in New Hampshire will awaken tomorrow, go to work and to school, and feel no impact from what we have accomplished today. But for some, they will awaken tomorrow knowing we have said to them that they are equal, that they have the same rights to live and to love as everyone else. Today is a day to celebrate in New Hampshire. Today should not be considered a victory for some and a loss for others. Today is a victory for all the people of New Hampshire, who I believe, in our own independent way, want tolerance for all. That is truly the New Hampshire way."
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, Weds., June 3, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Secretary of State Recognizes Gay & Lesbian Pride Month

"Forty years ago this month, the gay rights movement began with the Stonewall riots in New York City, as gays and lesbians demanded an end to the persecution they had long endured. Now, after decades of hard work, the fight has grown into a global movement to achieve a world in which all people live free from violence and fear, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In honor of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and on behalf of the State Department, I extend our appreciation to the global LGBT community for its courage and determination during the past 40 years, and I offer our support for the significant work that still lies ahead. At the State Department and throughout the Administration, we are grateful for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in Washington and around the world. They and their families make many sacrifices to serve our nation. Their contributions are vital to our efforts to establish stability, prosperity and peace worldwide. Human rights are at the heart of those efforts. Gays and lesbians in many parts of the world live under constant threat of arrest, violence, even torture. The persecution of gays and lesbians is a violation of human rights and an affront to human decency, and it must end. As Secretary of State, I will advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Though the road to full equality for LGBT Americans is long, the example set by those fighting for equal rights in the United States gives hope to men and women around the world who yearn for a better future for themselves and their loved ones. This June, let us recommit ourselves to achieving a world in which all people can live in safety and freedom, no matter who they are or whom they love." Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, June 1, 2009, in recognition of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month 2009.

President Proclaims June as LGBT Pride Month

"Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans. LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic. Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism. The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect. My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States. These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists." President Barack Obama, Monday June 1, 2009

Ex-VP Supports Gay Marriage

"Well, I think freedom means freedom for everyone. And, as many of you know, one of my daughters is gay, and something that we’ve lived with for a long time, in our family. I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish - any kind of arrangement they wish. The question of whether or not there oughta be a federal statute that governs this - I don't support. I do believe that historically the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. This has always been a state issue, and I think that’s the way it oughta be handled today, that is, on a state-by-state basis, different states’ll make different decisions. But I don't have any problem with that. I think people oughta get a shot at that, and they do at present." Former Vice President Dick Cheney, Gerald Ford Journalism Awards, National Press Club, June 1, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Supreme Court Justice Dissents

"[T]he ‘absolute equality of all’ persons before the law [is] ‘the very foundation principle of our government.’ " (Varnum v. Brien (Iowa 2009) 763 N.W.2d 862, 877.)

"The question before us is not whether the language inserted into the California Constitution by Proposition 8 discriminates against same-sex couples and denies them equal protection of the law; we already decided in the Marriage Cases that it does. The question before us today is whether such a change to one of the core values upon which our state Constitution is founded can be accomplished by amending the Constitution through an initiative measure placed upon the ballot by the signatures of 8 percent of the number of persons who voted in the last gubernatorial election and passed by a simple majority of the voters. Or is this limitation on the scope of the equal protection clause to deny the full protection of the law to a minority group based upon a suspect classification such a fundamental change that it can only be accomplished by revising the California Constitution...

...I conclude that requiring discrimination against a minority group on the basis of a suspect classification strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution and thus "represents such a drastic and far-reaching change in the nature and operation of our governmental structure that it must be considered a ‘revision’ of the state Constitution rather than a mere ‘amendment’ thereof." The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry that this court recognized in the Marriage Cases, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities. It weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority. I therefore dissent.

As discussed, there is no "underlying" principle more basic to our Constitution than that the equal protection clause protects the fundamental rights of minorities from the will of the majority. Accordingly, Proposition 8’s withdrawal of any of those rights from gays and lesbians cannot be accomplished through constitutional amendment. ...As discussed, denying gays and lesbians the right to marry, by wrenching minority rights away from judicial protection and subjecting them instead to a majority vote, attacks the very core of the equal protection principle.

Proposition 8 represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification. The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. I would therefore hold that Proposition 8 is not a lawful amendment of the California Constitution."

California Supreme Court Justice J. Moreno, concurring [legality of existing marriages] and dissenting opinion, May 26, 2009

California Supreme Court Justice Supports Equal Rights

"I agree with the majority that Proposition 8 is a valid amendment to the California Constitution rather than a procedurally defective revision. I reject, however, much of the majority’s analysis... The drafters of our Constitution never imagined, nor would they have approved, a rule that gives the foundational principles of social organization in free societies, such as equal protection, less protection from hasty, unconsidered change than principles of governmental organization.

The history of our California Constitution belies any suggestion that the drafters envisioned or would have approved a rule, such as that announced today, that affords governmental structure and organization more protection from casual amendment than civil liberties. The delegates to the 1849 constitutional convention recognized that "government was instituted for the protection of minorities," and that "[t]he majority of any community is the party to be governed; the restrictions of law are interposed between them and the weaker party; they are to be restrained from infringing upon the rights of the minority." Similarly, the delegates to the second constitutional convention in 1878-1879 well understood the charter they were drafting would provide the only effective protection for civil liberties. The initial draft of the 1879 Constitution, in a provision ultimately rejected, would expressly have looked to the federal Constitution for this purpose... Even the conservative delegates conceded that reliance on the federal Constitution as the principal author of liberties was "a mistake historically, a mistake in law, and it is a blunder all around." Thus, the convention’s refusal to label the federal Constitution ‘the great charter of our liberties’ provided a clear indicator ‘that the idea of rights rooted in the state’s own constitution was a robust one."

Equal protection’s continuing vitality in the present context is shown by this court’s unanimous reaffirmation..., that laws discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation are subject to strict scrutiny, and that - excepting the name - same-sex couples are entitled to enjoy all of the rights of marriage. Accordingly, all three branches of state government continue to have the duty, within their respective spheres of operation, today as before the passage of Proposition 8, to eliminate the remaining important differences between marriage and domestic partnership, both in substance and perception. The measure puts one solution beyond reach by prohibiting the state from naming future same-sex unions "marriages," but it does not otherwise affect the state’s obligation to enforce the equal protection clause by protecting the "fundamental right . . . of same-sex couples to have their official family relationship accorded the same dignity, respect, and stature as that accorded to all other official recognized family relationships." For the state to meet its obligations under the equal protection clause will now be more difficult, but the obligation remains."

California Supreme Court Justice J. Werdegar, May 26, 2009

California Supreme Court Validates Same-Sex Marriages

"...we conclude that interpreting Proposition 8 to apply retroactively would create a serious conflict between the new constitutional provision and the protections afforded by the state due process clause. In the absence of a clear and unambiguous statement that the new provision is to have such an effect, the general legal guideline that requires courts to interpret potentially conflicting constitutional provisions in a manner that harmonizes the provisions, to the extent possible, further supports the conclusion that Proposition 8 properly must be interpreted to apply only prospectively. Accordingly, applying these well-established principles of interpretation relating to the question of retroactivity, we conclude that Proposition 8 cannot be interpreted to apply retroactively so as to invalidate the marriages of same-sex couples that occurred prior to the adoption of Proposition 8. Those marriages remain valid in all respects." California Supreme Court, Tuesday May 26, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Maine State Senator Lauds Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"I am truly overjoyed today. The government of the State of Maine has certainly come down on the right side of civil rights, equality and ending discrimination today. I am very proud to be a member of the Legislature. And I am extremely proud to be a Mainer. This has been a long and at times difficult process. Today will stand forever as one of the most historic days in our grand and glorious history. I pray that as Maine goes, so will the rest of the nation. For far too long people have been denied this basic right that so many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted. Today, in Maine, we have said that same-sex couples are not second class citizens, that separate is not equal, that justice and fairness ultimately prevails over fear and hatred. It’s a great day in Maine." Maine State Senator Dennis Damon, sponsor of LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage..., following the signing of the bill into law by Governor Baldacci, May 6, 2009

Governor of Maine Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"I have followed closely the debate on this issue. I have listened to both sides, as they have presented their arguments during the public hearing and on the floor of the Maine Senate and the House of Representatives. I have read many of the notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my decision carefully. I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste. I appreciate the tone brought to this debate by both sides of the issue. This is an emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions. There are good, earnest and honest people on both sides of the question. In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions. I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage. Article I in the Maine Constitution states that ‘no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person’s civil rights or be discriminated against.’ This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State. It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government. Even as I sign this important legislation into law, I recognize that this may not be the final word. Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the State belongs to the people. While the good and just people of Maine may determine this issue, my responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what is right. I believe that signing this legislation is the right thing to do." Maine Governor John E. Baldacci, upon signing LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage...

Maine Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 2. 19-A MRSA §650-A is enacted to read:
§ 650-A. Codification of marriage
Marriage is the legally recognized union of 2 people. Gender-specific terms relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships, including, but not limited to, "spouse," family," "marriage," "immediate family," "dependent," "next of kin," "bride," "groom," "husband," "wife," "widow" and "widower," must be construed to be gender-neutral for all purposes throughout the law, whether in the context of statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil law.

Sec. 3. 19-A MRSA §650-B is enacted to read:
§ 650-B. Recognition of marriage licensed and certified in another jurisdiction
A marriage of a same-sex couple that is validly licensed and certified in another jurisdiction is recognized for all purposes under the laws of this State.

Sec. 4. 19-A MRSA §651, sub-§2, is further amended to read:
2. Application. The parties wishing to record notice of their intentions of marriage shall submit an application for recording notice of their intentions of marriage. The application may be issued to any 2 persons otherwise qualified under this chapter regardless of the sex of each person.

An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage..., Enacted May 6, 2009

Washington DC Recognizes Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriages

DISCLOSURE TO THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT AMENDMENT ACT OF 2009 - A new section 1287a is added to read as follows: "Sec. 1287a. Recognition of Marriages from Other Jurisdictions. - A marriage legally entered into in another jurisdiction between 2 persons of the same sex that is recognized as valid in that jurisdiction, that is not expressly prohibited by sections 1283 through section 1286, and has not been deemed illegal under section 1287, shall be recognized as a marriage in the District.".

"Today’s vote was part of the continued march towards full equality for gays and lesbians in the District of Columbia. I was very heartened by the unanimous support the amendment received. It is also particularly pleasing that the Council took this action only moments after the Vermont legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of same-sex marriage legislation in that state. While our work on this issue won’t be finished until same-sex marriages are permitted in the District, today’s vote was a major step forward for those who support equal rights." DC Councilmember David Catania on the D.C. Council’s 12-0 vote to approve an amendment to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, Tuesday April 7, 2009

"Today’s vote is an important victory not only for the gay and lesbian community but for everyone who supports equal rights. Gays and lesbians bear every burden of citizenship and are entitled to every benefit and protection that the law allows to everyone else. I am proud that the District of Columbia will be among the first jurisdictions to confer equal marriage rights to all its residents. Whenever 12 out of 13 Councilmembers vote to support any issue, it indicates that there is strong support for the issue among our constituents." DC Councilmember David Catania on the D.C. Council’s 12-1 vote to approve an amendment to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, Tuesday May 5, 2009

Only Councilmember Marion Barry, who previously sponsored the amendment, and was "absent" at the first reading, voted against it.
The bill was signed into law by Mayor Adrian Fenty, May 6, 2009.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

US House of Representatives Passes Inclusive Hate Crimes Bill

"Throughout our history, this nation has sought to uphold the ideals of our founding – that all are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today, with the passage of federal hate crimes legislation, we have affirmed these ideals and the inclusiveness that our nation stands for by extending the protection of its laws to all: ‘one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’

All Americans have a fundamental right to feel safe in their communities. This legislation will help protect Americans against violence based on sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, or gender identity. Congress has been debating federal hate crimes legislation for 17 years. It was more than 10 years ago that Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered. The time for debate is long over. I am proud that today the House has acted and in so doing, honored this nation’s commitment to the ideals of justice, equality and opportunity."

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the House passage of H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, passed by a vote of 249 to 175, Wednesday April 29, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Actor Okay With Gay Rumors

“I’d be happy to go and deny it, because I’m not,” he says. “But by denying it, I’m saying there is something shameful about it, and there isn’t anything shameful. The questions about sexuality I find more here in America than anywhere else, because it’s a big hang-up and defines what people think about themselves and others. It’s not a big issue in Australia.” Actor Hugh Jackman, Parade Magazine interview, April 23, 2009, about gay rumours.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mayor of New York City Supports Governor's Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"I was pleased to join the Governor today in support of marriage equality. When it comes to recognizing civil rights, New York State has always been a leader. This is where Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony began the long struggle for women’s suffrage. This is where the NAACP was founded 100 years ago. And still today, New York is a major center for workers’ rights, for immigrant rights and for gay rights.

Our State has always stood up for individual freedoms. In keeping with that proud tradition, I believe New York should become the next state to permit same-sex marriages. As I’ve said before, I do not think that government should be in the business of telling us who we can and cannot marry.

It’s clear that the tide is turning and support is mounting. Many New Yorkers have been waiting a long time for the State to take up the issue of marriage equality. While we’ve been waiting, New York City has taken a number of important steps to support same-sex married couples. In 2005, we adopted a new policy to recognize equally all marriages and civil unions lawfully entered into in other jurisdictions like Massachusetts, Canada and other foreign nations, and now, Vermont and Iowa. We did so to ensure the same rights and benefits are available to all married couples in New York. We also convinced our pension systems and the City University of New York to adopt similar policies. Just last month, the City’s Board of Health voted unanimously to allow married lesbian couples to list both of their names on a birth certificate as soon as their children are born in New York City.

Despite the progress we’ve made, gay and lesbian couples are still denied many civil protections and benefits that married couples enjoy and that’s why marriage equality is so important. I share the Governor’s belief that marriage equality will happen - here in New York State, and throughout the nation."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, April 16, 2009

Governor of New York Introduces Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"...after the unfortunate accident of Proposition 8 that passed in California, it left a number of advocates in a place of complete confusion and stunned disbelief. Right here in New York at that time, we were musing about when marriage equality would pass in the Senate. Then we changed it to whether or not it could pass in the Senate. Then the discussion became whether or not political opposition could stop a bill from coming to the floor in the Senate. And now, that devolving of energy has moved to a place where we are actually debating whether or not the Governor should introduce a bill on marriage equality - when, in fact, the Governor introduced a bill on the same issue in 2007.

So what we have is not a crisis of issues. We have a crisis of leadership. We’re going to fill that vacuum today. I’m putting a stop to it. I’m introducing a bill to bring marriage equality to the state of New York. This is a civil rights issue. For too long, we have pretended that gay and lesbian New Yorkers have the same rights as their neighbors and their friends. For too long, we have allowed the perception that gay and lesbian New Yorkers have the same privileges as their own straight brothers and sisters or mothers and fathers. That is not the case. All have been the victims of what is a legal system that has systematically discriminated against all of them. And too many loving families right here in New York State have not received the legal recognition that they deserve.

We have all known the wrath of discrimination. We have all felt the pain and the insult of hatred. This is why we are all standing here today. We stand to tell the world that we want equality for everyone. We stand to tell the world that we want marriage equality in New York State.
Now I, honestly, I understand the trepidation and the anxiety that people are feeling right now. And I understand that there is always a risk in any action that you take. But what we have to really come out of this gathering today understanding is that rights should not be stifled by fear. What we should understand is that silence should not be a response to injustice, and that if we take no action we will surely lose; maybe we’ve already lost.

There is no gain without struggle. And there is no corner of this country or region of the world that, timelessly, has not been struggling to bring freedom to those who have never received it. And therefore, we struggle for that freedom for all people, even still here in the United States of America. And I am willing to help lead that struggle for marriage equality in New York.
And the reality is that for me, that this is the time to fulfill the dreams of our founding Constitution, which implored us to expand the rights of the Union. And our founding Constitution has been expanded to include African-Americans; the right of women to vote; the right of Americans to get citizenship here in this country, and we want to expand those rights to all people.

For too long, the gay and lesbian communities have been told that their rights and freedoms have to wait. For too long, New Yorkers have been told that a dysfunctional government is going to make them wait for openness and real transparency. This is real reform. The time has come to act. The time has come for leadership. The time has come to bring marriage equality to the State of New York."

New York State Governor David A. Paterson, April 16, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Supreme Court of Iowa Rules for Same-Sex Marriage

"Having examined each proffered governmental objective through the appropriate lens of intermediate scrutiny, we conclude the sexual-orientation-based classification under the marriage statute does not substantially further any of the objectives. While the objectives asserted may be important (and many undoubtedly are important), none are furthered in a substantial way by the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage. Our equal protection clause requires more than has been offered to justify the continued existence of the same-sex marriage ban under the statute.

In the final analysis, we give respect to the views of all Iowans on the issue of same-sex marriage - religious or otherwise - by giving respect to our constitutional principles. These principles require that the state recognize both opposite-sex and same-sex civil marriage. Religious doctrine and views contrary to this principle of law are unaffected, and people can continue to associate with the religion that best reflects their views. A religious denomination can still define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and a marriage ceremony performed by a minister, priest, rabbi, or other person ordained or designated as a leader of the person’s religious faith does not lose its meaning as a sacrament or other religious institution. The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past. The only difference is civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law. This result is what our
constitution requires.

We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification. There is no material fact, genuinely in dispute, that can affect this determination.

We have a constitutional duty to ensure equal protection of the law. Faithfulness to that duty requires us to hold Iowa’s marriage statute, Iowa Code section 595.2, violates the Iowa Constitution. To decide otherwise would be an abdication of our constitutional duty. If gay and lesbian people must submit to different treatment without an exceedingly persuasive justification, they are deprived of the benefits of the principle of equal protection upon which the rule of law is founded. Iowa Code section 595.2 denies gay and lesbian people the equal protection of the law promised by the Iowa Constitution.

Because our civil marriage statute fails to provide equal protection of the law under the Iowa Constitution, we must decide how to best remedy the constitutional violation. The sole remedy requested by plaintiffs is admission into the institution of civil marriage. The County does not suggest an alternative remedy. The high courts of other jurisdictions have remedied constitutionally invalid bans on same-sex marriage in two ways. Some courts have ordered gay and lesbian people to be allowed to access the institution of civil marriage. Other courts have allowed their state legislatures to create parallel civil institutions for same-sex couples.

Iowa Code section 595.2 is unconstitutional because the County has been unable to identify a constitutionally adequate justification for excluding plaintiffs from the institution of civil marriage. A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution. This record, our independent research, and the appropriate equal protection analysis do not suggest the existence of a justification for such a legislative classification that substantially furthers any governmental objective. Consequently, the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute, and the remaining statutory language must be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage.

The district court properly granted summary judgment to plaintiffs. Iowa Code section 595.2 violates the equal protection provision of the Iowa Constitution. Our decision becomes effective upon issuance of procedendo."

Supreme Court of Iowa - Affirmed - All justices concur. Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Episcopal Bishop Pre-Inaugural Benediction

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president. O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will.

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future. Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah. Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger. Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States. Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people. Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times. Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead. Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States. Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims. Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods. And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace. - Amen

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire
Opening Inaugural Event, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, January 18, 2009

President-Elect Barack Obama Pre-Inaugural Speech

" I stand here tonight, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you - Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there. It is the same thing that gave me hope from the day we began this campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago; a belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together - ... Latino, Asian, and Native American; black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not - then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.This is what I believed, but you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day I walk into that Oval Office - the voices of men and women who have different stories but hold common hopes; who ask only for what was promised us as Americans - that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did. It is this thread that binds us together in common effort; that runs through every memorial on this mall; that connects us to all those who struggled and sacrificed and stood here before. It is how this nation has overcome the greatest differences and the longest odds - because there is no obstacle that can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change. President-Elect Barack Obama, speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, January 18, 2009