Gay Primary Source

Friday, November 9, 2012

WA Gov Lauds Vote for Marriage Equality

“Washington has made history and I couldn’t be prouder. Voters stood up for what is right and what is just and said that all Washington families are equal under the law. I am proud that our LGBT families will no longer be treated as separate but equal, they will be equal. “This is a day that historians will look back on as a turning point for equality. It is a day I will look back on as Washington state leading the nation. And it is a day that I will carry with me forever.”
Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire,
statement on the passage of the state's Referendum 74, legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington, November 8, 2012.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Viking's Kicker Kluwe Lauds Voters

Gay Marriage Legalized! What an Amazing Day To Be an American
"I would like to thank every single person that helped defeat the same-sex marriage ban in Minnesota, as well as every person who contributed to passing marriage-equality legislation in Maryland and Maine and (likely) Washington. Together, we made a statement that America is tired of division. America is tired of discrimination, of exclusion, and of unthinking oppression - the belief that people have to live their lives according to someone else's views rather than their own free will. Together, we made sure that the world our children will grow up in is one step closer to tolerance, love, and equality; a world where our children can make their own choices instead of being shackled to dusty hate from the past. Together, we showed this nation that a polity functions best when it includes all of its citizens, when it celebrates their differences as part of one glorious whole, when it synthesizes a wide assortment of cultures and beliefs under the guiding principles of freedom and happiness for everyone. Together, we can approach the work still at hand. We can face the continuous fight for equality that every society must wage each generation. We may not know the specifics until they’re upon us, but the underlying foundation is always the same - living your own life vs. someone else making your choices for you. Together, we can promote free will over oppression. We can treat others the way we want to be treated, with dignity and respect. We can work together to find common ground, despite our differences, and build a stable, nurturing society. There is work yet to be done, but we passed an important milestone today. Ten, 15, 20 years from now, when our children ask us, "What did you do when it came time to fight for someone else?," we can tell them about Minnesota and Maryland and Maine, states where people finally said: Enough. Enough with the hate. Enough with the bigotry. Enough with the discrimination. We are all Americans, and we are all in this together. Without each other, we have nothing."  Minnesota Vikings' Chris Kluwe, posted November 7, 2012, in Slate.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

MD Gov Lauds Vote for Marriage Equality

“Over these past few weeks, Marylanders joined together to affirm that for a free and diverse people of many faiths - a people committed to religious freedom - the way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights and human dignity of all. A lot of people worked very hard to make this day possible, including the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP, SEIU, clergy and community leaders. To Maryland’s children - please know that you and your families matter to the people of our State. Whether your parents happen to be gay or straight, Democratic, Republican or Independent, your families are equal before the eyes of the law. We have tremendous challenges as a nation, and it is my sincere hope that we can come together to meet those challenges with greater respect for the dignity of every individual. We are One Maryland, and all of us, at the end of the day, want the same thing for our children: to live in a loving, stable, committed home protected equally under the law. As we have done so often in our State’s history, Marylanders chose to come together to affirm this profound truth that has served as both the cornerstone - and the beacon of hope - of our nation. By this vote, the people of our State affirmed that we are One Maryland and that we’re all in this together.”
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, commenting on state vote in favor of Civil Marriage Protection Act, legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland, November 6, 2012.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Support for Maryland Marriage Equality

"Marriage equality has never been approved at the ballot box anywhere in the country. But all that could change profoundly in less than two weeks in Maryland. Marylanders will be heading to the polls to uphold Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which protects religious freedom and equal rights under the law. Recent polls show a majority of voters support the measure, but we know from other states that it will be close. As public servants, we do not believe that government has any business telling one class of couples that they cannot marry. The 14th Amendment guarantees us all equal protection under the law, and that's what Maryland's Question 6 does - it treats all citizens equally under the law, while protecting religious freedom at the same time. Both of us made sure such protections were included in the bills we worked to pass through the legislatures in each of our states.

On a personal level, both of us have deep ties to Maryland: one of us a lifelong Marylander, the other an alumnus and board member of the Johns Hopkins University. We want our families, friends, neighbors and staff to have the same opportunity we have to marry - and to marry in Maryland, this state that we love. It was a historic moment last year when marriage equality became law in the state of New York. It was a bipartisan victory that enjoyed the backing of a majority of New Yorkers young and old, Fortune 500 companies, and faith communities - similar to the coalition that came together to help pass Maryland's marriage equality law. At the time, opponents of marriage issued warnings about how life in New York would change. They said that there would be "unintended consequences" for New York if same-sex marriage became legal. They were wrong. Nothing has changed, except now thousands of committed couples, parents and their children can enjoy the same equal protection under the law. And despite the warnings from opponents, marriage equality has actually been good for business in New York. New York City alone has generated an estimated $259 million in economic impact in the first year after same-sex marriage passed.

Right now in Maryland, we're hearing the same warnings from the same opponents using the same old playbook. Their scare tactics won't work this time, either. The way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights and dignity of all. And it is this belief in treating everyone equally under the law that has led to the surge in momentum in favor of Question 6. The country has moved at lightning speed on the question of marriage equality in the past two years. A majority of the American people support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, as do some of the nation's largest and most respected companies. Six states and the District of Columbia have a marriage equality law on the books already. And we're expecting Maryland to be the seventh. It's going to be a close race, but at the end of the day we believe voters will decide it's the right thing to do to treat their gay friends, neighbors, sons, daughters and other family members fairly and equally under the law."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, published October 25, 2012, in Baltimore Sun

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Appeals Court Rules DOMA Unconstitutional

"For the following reasons, we conclude that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates equal protection and is therefore unconstitutional...

"DOMA’s classification of same-sex spouses was not substantially related to an important government interest. Accordingly, we hold that Section 3 of DOMA violates equal protection and is therefore unconstitutional...

"The judgement of the district court is AFFIRMED."

[Click to read the entire decision]

Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, October 18, 2012. Windsor v. United States (nominal) and intervenor Bipartisan [?] Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives (BLAG); Nos. 12-2335, 12-2435 - opinion regarding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act - appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Lady Touts Prez' Record on Gay Issues

"...[W]hether it’s passing hate crimes legislation or refusing to defend DOMA; whether it’s ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” or ensuring that or ensuring that people can be at their loved one’s hospital bedside or speaking out for the rights of all Americans to be able to do what Barack and I did and marry the love of our lives as President, my husband has stood strong for the basic values of freedom, justice and equality that make this country great. And he always will..."  First Lady Michelle Obama, remarks to the Human Rights Campaign/Victory Fund Luncheon Honoring LGBT Elected Officials, Charlotte, NC, September 5, 2012

First Lady Supports Same-Sex Marriage

"...If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire, if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores, if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote, if a generation could defeat a depression and define greatness for all time, if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream, and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream..."  First Lady Michelle Obama, Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, NC, September 4, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New York Court - Gay Is Not Slander

"This appeal presents the issue of whether statements falsely describing a person as lesbian, gay or bisexual constitute slander per se. Given this state's well-defined public policy of protection and respect for the civil rights of people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, we now overrule our prior case to the contrary and hold that such statements are not defamatory per se.

After a nonparty allegedly told defendant that plaintiff was gay or bisexual, defendant relayed that information to third party defendant, a close family friend of plaintiff's long-time girlfriend, with the hope that the girlfriend would be told. Plaintiff maintains that defendant's actions caused the deterioration and ultimate termination of his relationship with his girlfriend. He commenced this action against defendant, alleging slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress and prima facie tort. Defendant then commenced the third-party action, seeking indemnification based upon the republication of the statements.

Supreme Court subsequently denied third-party defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the third-party complaint, and partially granted defendant's motion for summary judgment by dismissing plaintiff's claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress and prima facie tort. The court denied defendant's motion insofar as she sought dismissal of plaintiff's slander claim. As relevant here, the court concluded that it was bound to follow prior appellate case law holding that statements falsely imputing homosexuality constitute defamation per se and, thus, plaintiff's slander claim need not be dismissed despite his failure to allege special damages. The parties cross-appeal, and we now modify by dismissing the complaint and third-party complaint in their entirety.

Whether particular statements are susceptible of a defamatory meaning – and therefore actionable – presents a question of law. Only "[i]f the contested statements are reasonably susceptible of a defamatory connotation [does] it become[] the jury's function to say whether that was the sense in which the words were likely to be understood by the ordinary and average [person]." A statement has defamatory connotations if it tends to expose a person to "public hatred, shame, obloquy, contumely, odium, contempt, ridicule, aversion, ostracism, degradation or disgrace, or to induce an evil opinion of [a person] in the minds of right-thinking persons." Because the defamatory tendency of a statement depends "upon the temper of the times [and] the current of contemporary public opinion," a statement that is "harmless in one age... may be highly damaging to reputation at another time."

Generally, a plaintiff asserting a cause of action sounding in slander must allege special damages contemplating "the loss of something having economic or pecuniary value." Plaintiff has not done so and, thus, he cannot maintain his slander claim unless the challenged statements constitute "slander per se" – those categories of statements that are commonly recognized as injurious by their nature, and so noxious that the law presumes that pecuniary damages will result. The four established "per se" categories recognized by the Court of Appeals are "statements (i) charging [a] plaintiff with a serious crime; (ii) that tend to injure another in his or her trade, business or profession; (iii) that [a] plaintiff has a loathsome disease; or (iv) imputing unchastity to a woman" (id.). As Supreme Court noted, the Appellate Division Departments, including this Court in dicta, have recognized statements falsely imputing homosexuality as a fifth per se category.

We agree with defendant and amici1 that these Appellate Division decisions are inconsistent with current public policy and should no longer be followed. Defamation "necessarily . . . involves the idea of disgrace." Defendant and amici argue – correctly, in our view – that the prior cases categorizing statements that falsely impute homosexuality as defamatory per se are based upon the flawed premise that it is shameful and disgraceful to be described as lesbian, gay or bisexual. In fact, such a rule necessarily equates individuals who are lesbian, gay or bisexual with those who have committed a "serious crime" – one of the four established per se categories.

That premise is inconsistent with the reasoning underlying the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Lawrence v Texas, in which the Court held that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution . The Court stated that people who are homosexual "are entitled to respect for their private lives", but "[w]hen homosexual conduct is made criminal by the law of the State, that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination in both the public and in the private spheres." These statements of the Supreme Court simply cannot be reconciled with the prior line of Appellate Division cases concluding that being described as lesbian, gay or bisexual is so self-evidently injurious that the law will presume that pecuniary damages have resulted.

In regard to New York in particular, we locate "the public policy of [this] state in the law as expressed in statute and judicial decision and also [by] consider[ing] the prevailing attitudes of the community." Rather than countenancing the view that homosexuality is disgraceful, the Human Rights Law, since 2002, has expressly prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, public accommodations, credit, education and housing. Most revealing of the respect that the people of this state currently extend to lesbians, gays and bisexuals, the Legislature passed the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011, which was strongly supported by the Governor and gave same-sex couples the right to marry in New York, thereby granting them all the benefits of marriage, including "the symbolic benefit, or moral satisfaction, of seeing their relationships recognized by the State." Even prior to the Marriage Equality Act, this Court had previously explained that "the public policy of our state protects same-sex couples in a myriad of ways" – including numerous statutory benefits and judicial decisions expressing a policy of acceptance. Similarly "evidenc[ing] a clear commitment to respect, uphold and protect parties to same-sex relationships[,] executive and local orders extend[] recognition to same-sex couples and grant[] benefits accordingly."

We note that the most recent Appellate Division decision considering the issue in depth was decided nearly 30 years ago. In that case, the Second Department concluded that it was "constrained... at this point in time" to hold that a statement imputing homosexuality was defamatory per se in light of the then-existing "social opprobrium of homosexuality" and "[l]egal sanctions imposed upon homosexuals in areas ranging from immigration to military service." Ultimately, the Court held that "the potential and probable harm of a false charge of homosexuality, in terms of social and economic impact, cannot be ignored." In light of the tremendous evolution in social attitudes regarding homosexuality, the elimination of the legal sanctions that troubled the Second Department in 1984 and the considerable legal protection and respect that the law of this state now accords lesbians, gays and bisexuals, it cannot be said that current public opinion supports a rule that would equate statements imputing homosexuality with accusations of serious criminal conduct or insinuations that an individual has a loathsome disease. While lesbians, gays and bisexuals have historically faced discrimination and such prejudice has not been completely eradicated, "the fact of such prejudice on the part of some does not warrant a judicial holding that gays and lesbians [and bisexuals], merely because of their sexual orientation, belong in the same class as criminals."

In short, the disputed statements in this case are not slanderous per se and, thus, plaintiff's failure to allege special damages requires that the remaining cause of action for slander be dismissed. Inasmuch as the complaint did not adequately allege extreme and outrageous conduct sufficient to support plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress or special damages to support a prima facie tort claim, Supreme Court properly dismissed those causes of action. Accordingly, the complaint and third-party complaint should be dismissed in their entirety."

J.P. Mercure, with Garry Stein and J.J. Egan Jr. concurring, 
State of New York, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, May 31, 2012; Opinion 512996.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

9th Circuit Denies En Banc Rehearing of Prop 8 Case

"A majority of the panel has voted to deny the petition for rehearing en banc. The full court was advised of the petition for rehearing en banc. A judge requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc. The matter failed to receive a majority of the votes of the non-recused active judges in favor of en banc consideration. The petition for rehearing en banc is DENIED. The mandate is stayed for ninety days pending the filing of a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court. If such a petition is filed, the stay shall continue until final disposition by the Supreme Court.

"O’Scannlain, Circuit Judge, joined by Bybee and Bea, Circuit Judges, dissenting from the order denying rehearing en banc: A few weeks ago, subsequent to oral argument in this case, the President of the United States ignited a media firestorm by announcing that he supports samesex marriage as a policy matter. Drawing less attention, however, were his comments that the Constitution left this matter to the States and that “one of the things that [he]’d like to see is–that [the] conversation continue in a respectful way." Today our court has silenced any such respectful conversation. Based on a two-judge majority’s gross misapplication of Romer v. Evans, we have now declared that animus must have been the only conceivable motivation for a sovereign State to have remained committed to a definition of marriage that has existed for millennia. Even worse, we have overruled the will of seven million California Proposition 8 voters based on a reading of Romer that would be unrecognizable to the Justices who joined it, to those who dissented from it, and to the judges from sister circuits who have since interpreted it. We should not have so roundly trumped California’s democratic process without at least discussing this unparalleled decision as an en banc court. For many of the same reasons discussed in Judge N.R. Smith’s excellent dissenting opinion in this momentous case, I respectfully dissent from the failure to grant the petition for rehearing en banc.

"Reinhardt and Hawkins, Circuit Judges, concurring in the denial of rehearing en banc: We are puzzled by our dissenting colleagues’ unusual reliance on the President’s views regarding the Constitution, especially as the President did not discuss the narrow issue that we decided in our opinion. We held only that under the particular circumstances relating to California’s Proposition 8, that measure was invalid. In line with the rules governing judicial resolution of constitutional issues, we did not resolve the fundamental question that both sides asked us to: whether the Constitution prohibits the states from banning same-sex marriage. That question may be decided in the near future, but if so, it should be in some other case, at some other time."

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, June 5. Perry v. Brown, Nos. 10-16696, 11-16577 - order to deny a rehearing en banc [before the entire court or equivalent, rather than the panel who issued the previous opinion] regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the denial of a motion to vacate the lower court judgment.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Appeals Court Upholds No on Prop 8

"By using their initiative power to target a minority group and withdraw a right that it possessed, without a legitimate reason for doing so, the People of California violated the Equal Protection Clause. We hold Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional on this ground. We don not doubt the importance of the more general questions presented to us concerning the rights of same-sex couples to marry, nor do we doubt that these questions will likely be resolved in other states, and for the nation as a whole, by other courts. For now, it suffices to conclude that the People of California may not, consistent with the Federal Constitution, add to their state const itution a provision that has no more practical effect than to strip gays and lesbians of their right to use the official designation that the State and society give to committed relationships, thereby adversely affecting the status and dignity of the members of a disfavored class. The judgement of the district court is AFFIRMED."

Circuit Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt, for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, February 7, 2012. Perry v. Brown, Nos. 10-16696, 11-16577 - opinion regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the denial of a motion to vacate the lower court judgment in the case – appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

NAACP Supports Marriage Equality

"The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the "political, educational, social and economic equality" of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution..." Resolution passed by the NAACP Board of Directors, May 19, 2012.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

President Obama Supports Same-Sex Marriage

[We can't find an adequate primary source, but this is so important that we had to post something. Here's a clip from ABC on YouTube. Note: don't click their link - it crashed our browser; ABC site, you have to watch the whole show; Yahoo News, not acceptable; inexplicably not on the White House official site; and pay-to-play only on the official Obama-Biden site] Click the following: President Obama expresses his personal support for same-sex marriage on ABC-TV's Good Morning America, May 9, 2012.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

MD GOV Signs Marriage Equality Into Law

"Lt. Governor Brown, Speaker Busch, President Miller, Men and Women of the General Assembly, Members of the Clergy, Fellow Marylanders: For a free and diverse people,… for a people of many faiths,… for a people committed to the principle of religious freedom,… the way forward is always to be found through greater respect for the equal rights of all; for the human dignity of all. Religious freedom was the very reason for our State’s founding. At the heart of religious freedom is the freedom of individual conscience. If there is a thread that unites the story of our people, it is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work; the dignity of family; the dignity of every child’s home; the dignity of every individual. We are One Maryland, and all of us, at the end of the day, want the same thing for our children: to live in a loving, stable, committed home protected equally under the law. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, March 1, 2012, Marriage Equality Bill Signing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Maryland Gov Urges Same-Sex Marriage

"There are certain aspirations that I believe all of us share; certain hopes. One of the most basic is the hope that every child in our State has the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home, protected equally under the law.

Earlier this week, as they ruled on California’s Proposition 8, the Judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that to treat families differently under the law because they happen to be led by gay or lesbian couples serves to, quote, “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

As I shared with all of you just a few days ago at the State of the State, if there is a common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland – including controversial efforts – it is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of family, the dignity of faith, the dignity of every individual.

It is not right or just that the children of gay couples should have lesser protections than the children of other families in our State. Nor would it be right to force religious institutions to conduct marriages that conflict with their own religious beliefs and teachings.

The mystery of human existence; the mystery of our own relationships with one another; mystery of our own individual relationships with the creator of Creation, is a deep, deep mystery. All faiths search for the truth that is at the center of that mystery. This search requires individual freedom. And this search also requires religious freedom.

In fact, the very reason for our State’s founding was for religious freedom. And at the heart of religious freedom is respect for the freedom of individual conscience.

We are a people of many different religions and many different faiths. The only way forward, in a pluralistic society of diverse faiths such as ours, is to have laws that protect and respect the freedom of all, equally.

In New Hampshire, they’ve been able to come together and pass a law that protects individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom equally. In New York, last year, they came together in a bipartisan way to protect each of these freedoms. And in Washington State just this week, they came together to do the same.

In all, seven states have passed laws protecting individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom equally. We have the opportunity to do the same thing.

Here in Maryland, we already recognize civil marriages performed in other states and just over our border in the District of Columbia. The civil marriage equality bill that you consider today draws upon the lessons we’ve learned from these other states – where none of these measures would have passed were it not for the explicit protections of religious freedom.

This bill balances equal protection of individual civil marriage rights with the important protection of religious freedom for all.

Because it protects both these unalienable rights, it is supported by a broad coalition of Marylanders, which includes clergy, community leaders, faith-based organizations, civil rights groups, and those who hold that most important of all titles in our State: the title of citizen.

Moms and dads from across our State want the same things for their kids: we want them to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home protected equally under the law.

I urge you to pass the bill before you and allow our State to move forward with protection for religious freedom and protection for the individual freedom of all."

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, February 10, 2012, testimony on marriage equality, Joint Hearing of Maryland House Health and Government Operations & House Judiciary Committees.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wash. Gov. Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"We are here to make history in Washington State! I’m about to sign into law a bill making us the seventh state in the nation to give our gay and lesbian citizens marriage equality. First let me say that as governor for more than seven years, this is a very proud moment. Most surely it is a proud day in the history of the Legislature and the state of Washington. It is a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights. A day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair. We stood up for equality and we did it together – Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old, and a number of religious faiths. I’m proud of who and what we are in this state. I’m proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal. They will be equal. I’m proud that children in our schools and neighborhoods will not have to wonder why their loving parents are considered different than other loving parents. I’m proud of parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children. I’m proud that children who discover they are gay and lesbian can feel good about themselves. Like the 16 year old girl who wrote to tell me her sexual orientation made her life hard, and that she had considered suicide. But marriage equality would make her stronger and allow her to live and to dream of the day she would not have to get on bended knee and say: “Will you civil union me” but instead could say: “Will you marry me?” I’m proud we live in a state where a six-year-old boy came to my office one day with his two Moms to deliver me a note written in neat little block letters that said: “Please change the law so we can marry anyone we love.” I’m proud to live in a state where two women e-mailed me to say they have been together for 20 years this month, and can now look forward to the day they can vow their commitment and love in front of family and friends right here in their beloved Washington. I’m proud to live in a state where, just last Thursday, a gay high-school senior wrote me to say he already has an associate’s degree in computer science, and his future is so bright... Except for one thing! In his e-mail, he wrote: “My biggest obstacle in life is clearly not my passion or intellect. It is my sexuality. I have grown up in a world where people are not accepted for who they are. So I want you to know that I salute you and your government, because one day, as this nation continues to change, people like me will not have to be extraordinary to appear ordinary.” I am so very proud of our young people – including my two daughters – who tell us marriage equality is the civil-rights issue of their time, and who – pollsters say – are helping my generation to catch up. I’m proud of so many who led the way – not just this year, but every hard step that came before. And I’m proud of our legislators of both parties who stood up for what’s right. Who fought against discrimination. Who took a personal journey – as I did – and voted their conscience.

I thank the Legislature not only for making history, but in the way they did it. Proponents and opponents were thoughtful and respectful! Marriage equality is a difficult issue, and feelings run high on both sides. Yet, our Legislature conducted itself professionally and respectfully... On this issue, you and your members showed the world the best of Washington State democracy. We began in 2006 when we passed a law – too long in the making – to ban discrimination against members of our LGBT community. We said yes in 2007 and again in 2008 when we created and expanded domestic partnership rights. Our voters said yes in 2009 to R-71 granting full domestic partner rights – and did so by a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent, the first time voters in any state upheld a domestic partnership law. And now in 2012 our Senate said yes to this marriage equality bill by 28-21, and the House by 55-43. The bill I’m signing today is simple and clear: First, it gives same-sex couples the same right to a marriage license as heterosexual couples. ...Here in Washington, we’ve taken a long, difficult journey, and now the final step – the right step. We’ve finally said yes to marriage equality! We join six other states and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriage, and their experience proves that “the sky will fall” rhetoric is simply not true. A recent University of New Hampshire poll found that a majority of New Hampshire citizens want to keep their marriage equality law partly because they realized it makes no difference in their own lives. In Massachusetts, an economic study found that same-sex marriage improved the economy, and so did a similar study about same-sex marriage in Iowa. The truth is, respectful, welcoming societies make a stronger economy. Thank you to companies like Microsoft and Starbucks, Google and Nike, Vulcan, Real Networks, Group Health, and Concur – who have already said yes to marriage equality in Washington.

And if asked, I believe the voters of Washington will say yes to marriage equality. I believe Washingtonians will say yes because a family is a family – all facing the same challenges: Can we keep a roof over our heads, keep our jobs, and provide for our children’s health, safety, education and happiness? I believe Washingtonians will say yes because it is time to stand up for our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads, friends, and that couple just down the street. I believe Washingtonians know it is time. It is time to give loving gay and lesbian couples the right to a marriage license. It is time to allow them to invite family and friends to witness their marriage. I ask all Washingtonians to look into your hearts and ask yourselves: Isn’t it time? Isn’t it time to tell the children of same sex couples that their parents are as loving and important as any others? Isn’t it time to support strong families, and make Washington stronger too? And isn’t it time to send a message to the world that Washington believes in equality for all – I believe if we ask ourselves those questions – our answers will be yes – marriage equality is right for Washington State. And the time is now. Over the last month thousands of people have called and written from around our state, our nation and the world to say thank you to me. But I have to say that as I look out over this room, you are the ones to thank. You who have been fighting for this day for years. You took time to attend and testify at legislative hearings. You who fought for your gay and lesbian children, and other family members. You with your own loved ones are giving back to your communities and making our state stronger. This is your time. I’m just proud to stand with you at this great moment in our history. I’m proud to sign this bill bringing marriage equality to the great State of Washington. And now I’ll sign the bill."

Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire, February 13, 2012, Marriage Equality Bill Signing.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Washington Gov. Supports Same-Sex Marriage 2

"Tonight the Washington State Senate stood up for what is right and told all families in our state that they are equal and that the state cannot be in the business of discrimination. I believe that this decision should be made by our state Legislature, and I’m proud our elected leaders recognized that responsibility. Tonight we saw the best of Washington and our leaders. They were respectful and they were kind. I thank Sen. Ed Murray for his leadership. This vote was courageous and was only possible with bipartisan support. That support shows Washington’s commitment to equality. Fair-minded and responsible leaders crafted a bill that protects religious freedoms while ensuring equal rights. I commend our state Senators who acknowledged tonight that separate but equal is not equal. Tonight our families are better for this vote. Our kids have a brighter future for this bill. And our state is better for this bill. I encourage the House to approve this bill and get it to my desk for my signature. I look forward to the day when all Washington citizens have equal opportunity to marry the person they love." Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire, February 1, 2012, on state Senate approval of marriage equality legislation.

Monday, January 30, 2012

UN Leader Pushes Gay Rights in Africa

"Events have proved that repression is a dead end. Police power is no match for people power seeking dignity and justice. The women and men protesting in streets and public squares across the region are both an inspiration and a reminder; a reminder that leaders must listen to their people, that all of us must do more. Yes, trade and investment are crucial for development. But Africa’s future also depends on investments in civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a promise to all people in all places at all times. Let me mention one form of discrimination that has been ignored or even sanctioned by many States for far too long - discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This has prompted some Governments to treat people as second-class citizens, or even criminals. Confronting this discrimination is a challenge. But we must live up to the ideals of the Universal Declaration." United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, January29, 2012.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Washington Gov. Supports Same-Sex Marriage

"Today I stand before you as Governor of the State of Washington. And as a wife, a mother, a student of the law, and as a Washingtonian with a lifelong commitment to equality and freedom. Today, I’m announcing my support for a law that gives same-sex couples in our state the right to receive a marriage license in Washington - the same right given heterosexual couples. It is time, it is the right thing to do, and I will introduce a bill to do it. Once again, the call for equality is sweeping through our nation - and this time it’s for our gay and lesbian citizens. Make no mistake, America has been here many times before. In our long, hard road for equality – history shows we have faltered but we have always fought hard when it comes to protections against discrimination. We have made major strides towards equality for racial minorities, for women, for people with disabilities, for immigrants, for religious sects. We applaud the generations before us for their wisdom and courage to fight for equality. Now it’s our time - this generation’s call to end discrimination - discrimination against our gay and lesbian citizens. It is time for marriage equality. That means the State of Washington should not deny our citizens a marriage license based on sexual orientation. For all couples, a marriage license is very important. It gives them the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children if any, are protected by well-established law. Why then does our state deny a marriage license?

Some argue that the state should deny a marriage license to same-sex couples based on the premise that marriage is for procreation. Do we then deny a license to heterosexual couples who choose not to have children? To those who can’t have children or those who adopt? To those who have children through in-vitro fertilization? Some argue that same-sex marriage weakens the institution of marriage. Is this a role of the state? If so, it has failed miserably with a divorce rate among heterosexual couples now at about 50 percent. Some argue that the state must deny a marriage license based on religious beliefs. With a marriage license, couples marry in civil or religious ceremonies. In issuing the license, the state should not involve itself in an applicant’s religion. The responsibility of the state is to license only. The right of a church is to decide whom to marry, and the state will honor the religious freedom of all faiths.

The arguments used today to discriminate based on sexual orientation should remind all of us of the arguments used to discriminate in the past, and specifically the laws banning interracial marriage. It wasn’t until 1948 that the California Supreme Court became the first in the nation to declare such a law unconstitutional. And the United States Supreme Court didn’t declare anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional until 1967! While we have worked hard to confront racial discrimination in our state, we have been on a journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. Until 2006, Washington lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens were denied basic protections from discrimination. It was that year that I signed a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and other areas. A year later, I signed a law creating domestic partnerships for same-sex couples, along with a number of rights enjoyed by married couples. And the year after that, I signed a law expanding those rights even more. Then in 2009, voters approved Referendum 71, which expanded the domestic partnership rights of same-sex couples. It was a notable achievement in our long journey, but it still left same-sex couples with a different status. Some say domestic partnerships are the same as marriage. That’s a version of the discriminatory separate but equal argument of the past. For decades, that argument was used to keep African-Americans separate at schools, apartments, and drinking fountains. After all, the argument went, those separate places were just as good. But we all knew separate is not equal and finally the law caught up. While I understand the experiences of racial minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans are not identical, laws that keep some Americans in a separate status are inherently unjust.

It is now time for equality of our gay and lesbian citizens, and that means marriage. When someone asks me what marriage means, I don’t think about the legal protections of a marriage license. I think about love, commitment, responsibility, and partnership. Same-sex couples should not be denied the meaning of marriage. They have a right to be equal! Throughout our journey, an ever-growing number of Washingtonians have come to understand that equal rights for same-sex couples is not only a good thing, but the right thing to do! It’s time to give our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, and the couple down the street the right to marry in our state. Now it’s time for all of us to stand up for equality in Washington. We have our champions like Sen. Ed Murray and Representative Jamie Pedersen. I stand with them. I also stand with our younger Washingtonians. Is there a generation gap here? Is it time to listen to our young people? Poll after poll show that young Americans - by substantial margins - support same-sex marriage even as their parents or grandparents struggle with it. Why? Can it be that our children knew some kids on the playground who had two moms instead of a single mom, or two dads instead of a mom and dad? Can it be because they befriended children of same-sex families - friendships that endure today? Can it be that today’s young Americans see sexual orientation discrimination as just as unacceptable as my generation saw racial discrimination? We must tell these children and their families that they are every bit as equal and important as all the other families in our state. Finally, I stand in the memory of Cal Anderson - the late state senator who so humbly and courageously fought for civil rights in decades past.

Passage of the law would make Washington the seventh state in nearly as many years to grant same-sex couples the right to marry. The first state was Massachusetts, followed by Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. And by the way, same-sex marriage is legal in our nation’s capitol, throughout Canada, and here in Washington by the Suquamish Tribe! For many people, I know this is a very sensitive issue. I understand that. To those who fear it, I ask them to consider the fact that Massachusetts has permitted same-sex marriage since 2004 without the doomsayers’ predictions. In fact, the people of that state are raising their children, coping in this economy, and working to make a better world, just like Washingtonians. A special commission created by the state of New Jersey recently did a study about the potential impacts of same-sex marriage. It found that the economy of Massachusetts’ truly benefitted, and continues to benefit from the change in the law. Among other findings, the study found that professional same-sex couples continue to move to Massachusetts, bringing their credentials, their children, and even extended families with them. Same-sex couples have strong families, and have been raising happy, healthy children for years - right alongside other couples and single parents. Our gay and lesbian families face the same hurdles as heterosexual families - making ends meet, finding time for career and family, raising their children and saving for college. And we are better for it! They and their kids join us in our churches, our schools, and supermarkets. And we are better for it!

We need to ask ourselves, how would it feel to be a child of a gay couple? How can we tell these children that their parents’ love is seen as unequal under the law, that their families are different. We must tell these children and their families that they are every bit as equal and important as all the other families in our state. As Washingtonians and Americans, we have serious problems to address - a far-off war, the Great Recession, more than 13 million people looking for work, worldwide economic competition. Loving, committed married couples of any sexual orientation can only help us. They can help us defend our Democracy, help our neighbors, and build strong communities. And they will. Fellow Washingtonians: Throughout our history, we have fought discrimination. We have joined together to recognize equality for racial minorities, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, religious sects. Please answer the call to support equality again in our great state. It is the right thing to do and it is time. Thank you."

Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire, January 4, 2012, Olympia, Washington.