Gay Primary Source

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Federal Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage in Utah

"The Plaintiffs in this lawsuit are three gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry, but are currently unable to do so because the Utah Constitution prohibits same-sex marriage. The Plaintiffs argue that this prohibition infringes their rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The State of Utah defends its laws and maintains that a state has the right to define marriage according to the judgment of its citizens. Both parties have submitted motions for summary judgment. The court agrees with Utah that regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states, and remains so today. But any regulation adopted by a state, whether related to marriage or any other interest, must comply with the Constitution of the United States. The issue the court must address in this case is therefore not who should define marriage, but the narrow question of whether Utah’s current definition of marriage is permissible under the Constitution.

Few questions are as politically charged in the current climate. This observation is especially true where, as here, the state electorate has taken democratic action to participate in a popular referendum on this issue. It is only under exceptional circumstances that a court interferes with such action. But the legal issues presented in this lawsuit do not depend on whether Utah’s laws were the result of its legislature or a referendum, or whether the laws passed by the widest or smallest of margins. The question presented here depends instead on the Constitution itself, and on the interpretation of that document contained in binding precedent from the Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Applying the law as it is required to do, the court holds that Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law. The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional."...

"Conclusion:  In 1966, attorneys for the State of Virginia made the following arguments to the Supreme Court in support of Virginia’s law prohibiting interracial marriage: (1) “The Virginia statutes here under attack reflects [sic] a policy which has obtained in this Commonwealth for over two centuries and which still obtains in seventeen states”; (2) “Inasmuch as we have already noted the higher rate of divorce among the intermarried, is it not proper to ask, ‘Shall we then add to the number of children who become the victims of their intermarried parents?’”; (3) “[I]ntermarriage constitutes a threat to society”; and (4) “[U]nder the Constitution the regulation and control of marital and family relationships are reserved to the States.” Brief for Respondents at 47-52, Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 1967), 1967 WL 113931. These contentions are almost identical to the assertions made by the State of Utah in support of Utah’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. For the reasons discussed above, the court finds these arguments as unpersuasive as the Supreme Court found them fifty years ago. Anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia and elsewhere were designed to, and did, deprive a targeted minority of the full measure of human dignity and liberty by denying them the freedom to marry the partner of their choice. Utah’s Amendment 3 achieves the same result.

Rather than protecting or supporting the families of opposite-sex couples, Amendment 3 perpetuates inequality by holding that the families and relationships of same-sex couples are not now, nor ever will be, worthy of recognition. Amendment 3 does not thereby elevate the status of opposite-sex marriage; it merely demeans the dignity of same-sex couples. And while the State cites an interest in protecting traditional marriage, it protects that interest by denying one of the most traditional aspects of marriage to thousands of its citizens: the right to form a family that is strengthened by a partnership based on love, intimacy, and shared responsibilities. The Plaintiffs’ desire to publicly declare their vows of commitment and support to each other is a testament to the strength of marriage in society, not a sign that, by opening its doors to all individuals, it is in danger of collapse.

The State of Utah has provided no evidence that opposite-sex marriage will be affected in any way by same-sex marriage. In the absence of such evidence, the State’s unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the State’s refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens. Moreover, the Constitution protects the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights, which include the right to marry and the right to have that marriage recognized by their government. These rights would be meaningless if the Constitution did not also prevent the government from interfering with the intensely personal choices an individual makes when that person decides to make a solemn commitment to another human being. The Constitution therefore protects the choice of one’s partner for all citizens, regardless of their sexual identity."

Judge Robert J. Shelby, US District Court, District of Utah, December 20, 2013; Kitchen et al v. Herbert et al, Case No. 2:13-cv-217.

click here to read complete opinion

Friday, December 20, 2013

New Mexico Supreme Court Rules for Same-Sex Marriage

"Summary:  We conclude that although none of New Mexico’s marriage statutes specifically prohibit same-gender marriages, when read as a whole, the statutes have the effect of precluding same-gender couples from marrying and benefitting from the rights, protections, and responsibilities that flow from a civil marriage. Same-gender couples who wish to enter into a civil marriage with another person of their choice and to the exclusion of all others are similarly situated to opposite-gender couples who want to do the same, yet they are treated differently. Because same-gender couples (whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, hereinafter “LGBT”) are a discrete group which has been subjected to a history of discrimination and violence, and which has inadequate political power to protect itself from such treatment, the classification at issue must withstand intermediate scrutiny to be constitutional. Accordingly, New Mexico may neither constitutionally deny same-gender couples the right to marry nor deprive them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of marriage laws, unless the proponents of the legislation - the opponents of same-gender marriage - prove that the discrimination caused by the legislation is “substantially related to an important government interest.” Breen v. Carlsbad Mun. Sch., 2005-NMSC-028, ¶ 13, 138 N.M. 331, 120 P.3d 4.

The opponents of same-gender marriage assert that defining marriage to prohibit same-gender marriages is related to the important, overriding governmental interests of “responsible procreation and childrearing” and preventing the deinstitutionalization of marriage. However, the purported governmental interest of “responsible procreation and childrearing” is not reflected in the history of the development of New Mexico’s marriage laws. Procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law, as evidenced by the fact that the aged, the infertile, and those who choose not to have children are not precluded from marrying. In addition, New Mexico law recognizes the right of same-gender couples to raise children. NMSA 1978, § 32A-5-11 (1993) (recognizing parties who are eligible to adopt children); see also Chatterjee v. King, 2012-NMSC-019, ¶ 84, 280 P.3d 283 (Bosson, J., specially concurring) (recognizing the right of a former same-gender partner who supported both the child and her former partner to have standing to seek custody of the child). Finally, legislation must advance a state interest that is separate and apart from the classification itself. It is inappropriate to define the governmental interest as maintaining only opposite-gender marriages, just as it was inappropriate to define the governmental interest as maintaining same-race marriages in Loving. Therefore, the purported governmental interest of preventing the deinstitutionalization of marriage, which is nothing more than an argument to maintain only opposite-gender marriages, cannot be an important governmental interest under the Constitution.

We conclude that the purpose of New Mexico marriage laws is to bring stability and order to the legal relationship of committed couples by defining their rights and responsibilities as to one another, their children
if they choose to raise children together, and their property. Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the governmental interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified. Therefore, barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law."...

"Remedy:  Having declared the New Mexico marriage laws unconstitutional, we now determine the appropriate remedy. We decline to strike down our marriage laws because doing so would be wholly inconsistent with the historical legislative commitment to fostering stable families through these marriage laws. Instead, “civil marriage” shall be construed to mean the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. In addition, all rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples. Therefore, whether they are contained in NMSA 1978, Chapter 40 or any other New Mexico statutes, rules, regulations or the common law, whenever reference is made to marriage, husband, wife, spouse, family, immediate family, dependent, next of kin, widow, widower or any other word, which, in context, denotes a marital relationship, the same shall apply to same-gender couples who choose to marry."

Edward L. Chávez, Justice, New Mexico Supreme Court, in unanimous decision, December 19, 2013; Griego v. Oliver, Docket No. 34306.

click here to read complete opinion

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gay/Lesbian Presidental Medal of Freedom Honorees

"We salute innovators who pushed the limits of science, changing how we see the world - and ourselves. And growing up, Sally Ride read about the space program in the newspaper almost every day, and she thought this was “the coolest thing around.” When she was a PhD candidate at Stanford she saw an ad for astronauts in the student newspaper and she seized the opportunity. As the first American woman in space, Sally didn’t just break the stratospheric glass ceiling, she blasted through it. And when she came back to Earth, she devoted her life to helping girls excel in fields like math, science and engineering. “Young girls need to see role models,” she said, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” Today, our daughters - including Malia and Sasha - can set their sights a little bit higher because Sally Ride showed them the way.

Now, early in the morning the day of the March on Washington, the National Mall was far from full and some in the press were beginning to wonder if the event would be a failure. But the march’s chief organizer, Bayard Rustin, didn’t panic. As the story goes, he looked down at a piece of paper, looked back up, and reassured reporters that everything was right on schedule. The only thing those reporters didn’t know was that the paper he was holding was blank. He didn’t know how it was going to work out, but Bayard had an unshakable optimism, nerves of steel, and, most importantly, a faith that if the cause is just and people are organized, nothing can stand in our way. So, for decades, this great leader, often at Dr. King’s side, was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay. No medal can change that, but today, we honor Bayard Rustin’s memory by taking our place in his march towards true equality, no matter who we are or who we love."

President Barack Obama, November 20, 2013

"Tam O’Shaughnessy accepting on behalf of her life partner, Dr. Sally K. Ride. Thirty years ago, Dr. Sally K. Ride soared into space as the youngest American and first woman to wear the Stars and Stripes above Earth’s atmosphere. As an astronaut, she sought to keep America at the forefront of space exploration. As a role model, she fought tirelessly to inspire young people - especially girls - to become scientifically literate and to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. At the end of her life, she became an inspiration for those battling pancreatic cancer, and for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The tale of a quiet hero, Sally Ride’s story demonstrates that the sky is no limit for those who dream of reaching for the stars.

Walter Naegle accepting on behalf of his partner, Bayard Rustin. Bayard Rustin was a giant in the American Civil Rights Movement. Openly gay at a time when many had to hide who they loved, his unwavering belief that we are all equal members of a “single human family” took him from his first Freedom Ride to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights movement. Thanks to his unparalleled skills as an organizer, progress that once seemed impossible appears, in retrospect, to have been inevitable. Fifty years after the March on Washington he organized, America honors Bayard Rustin as one of its greatest architects for social change and a fearless advocate for its most vulnerable citizens."

Military Aide Lee, November 20, 2013. 

Click here to watch the video of the ceremony

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hawaii Legalizes Marriage Equality

"The legalization of marriage for same-sex couples is part of the long history of civil rights movements in the United States. Many people have worked tireless to make this day possible. This significant piece of legislation is a clear example of people exercising courage, determination and patient perseverance. The result advances equity in marriage and honors all First Amendment religious imperatives."  Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie.

"We have moved into a new era of Aloha for same-sex couples, who can now share in the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Hawaii Attorney General David Louie.

“Although Hawaii was not the first to enact same-sex marriage, what shouldn’t be lost is Hawaii was the first in the Baehr v. Lewin lawsuit, that started the same-sex marriage discussion nationally. I am pleased today to be able to open a new chapter in our state’s history and to join the growing list of states in conferring to all Americans equal treatment under the law.”  Hawaii State Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.

November 13, 2013.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Illinois Senator Lauds ENDA Passage

"Today the Senate advanced civil rights by sending a message that there is no place for employer discrimination in this country. For me, supporting this cause means following in the footsteps of two leaders who championed civil rights issues, Senator Everett Dirksen and Abraham Lincoln, men who gave us the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 13th Amendment. I believe passionately in enacting ENDA, and I know it will help keep our competitive edge in the global economy."
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), November 7, 2013.

Maine Senator on ENDA Passage

“We are about to make history by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, better known as ENDA. We will establish that the right to work free from discrimination is a fundamental right of each and every American, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, disability, national origin, and now sexual orientation.

“It has taken a long time to get to this day. More than ten years ago, I was proud to join a lifelong champion of civil rights, the late Senator Ted Kennedy, as a cosponsor of ENDA. Over the years, we have rightly taken a stand against workplace discrimination in a wide variety of forms, and it is past time that we close this gap for LGBT employees. The time to pass this bill has come.

“I would like to thank Senators Merkley and Kirk for taking up the mantle and moving this bill forward. They have worked tirelessly across the aisle to make this happen. In addition, Senator Kirk, along with Senator Murkowski and Senator Hatch, led the Republican support for this bill during its consideration by the HELP Committee. I also want to acknowledge the work of Chairman Harkin in bringing this bill to the floor. He has been champion of civil rights throughout his long career.

“I also want to acknowledge the hard work of Senators Portman, Ayotte, Heller, Hatch, and McCain in their effort to improve the bill with anti-retaliation language. This amendment, which was adopted unanimously, improves the bill by strengthening the protections for religious institutions. And I would like to thank each of those Senators for their willingness to work with the sponsors and cosponsors of this legislation.

“All Americans deserve a fair opportunity to pursue the American dream. ENDA is about the fundamental right to work and the right to be judged based on one’s abilities, qualifications, and talents. Much of corporate America has already voluntarily embraced LGBT protections because they know that doing so allows them to retain and attract the best and brightest employees. Nearly 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have sexual orientation non-discrimination policies. In fact in my home state of Maine, this has been the law for nearly a decade.

“ENDA is about fairness and workplace equality. Today, I hope the Senate will affirm the principle that the workplace is simply no place for discrimination.”

U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), November 7, 2013.

Nevada Senator Supports ENDA

“After listening to Nevadans’ concerns about this issue from a variety of viewpoints and after numerous conversations with my colleagues, I feel that supporting this legislation is the right thing to do. Under the leadership of this Governor, as well as the legislature over the past several years, Nevada has established a solid foundation of anti-discrimination laws. This legislation raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstance.”
U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), November 4, 2013.

Monday, September 30, 2013

NJ Court Rules for Same-Sex Marriage

“... Every day that the State does not allow same-sex couples to marry, plaintiffs are being harmed, in violation of the clear directive of Lewis... Plaintiffs are ineligible for many federal benefits at this moment, and their right to equal protection under the New Jersey Constitution should not be delayed until some undeterminable future time. In the face of an injury of constitutional proportions, the court must act to ensure the continuing vitality of Lewis...

... Following the
Windsor decision of the United States Supreme Court and the subsequent implementation of that decision by several federal agencies, same-sex couples are only afforded the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples if they are married. Since New Jersey currently denies marriage to same-sex couples, same-sex civil union partners in New Jersey are ineligible for many federal marital benefits. The parallel legal structures created by the New Jersey Legislature therefore no longer provide same-sex couples with equal access to the rights and benefits enjoyed by married heterosexual couples, violating the mandate of Lewis and the New Jersey Constitution's equal protection guarantee. Under these circumstances, the current inequality visited upon same-sex civil union couples offends the New Jersey Constitution, creates an incomplete set of rights that Lewis sought to prevent, and is not compatible with “a reasonable conception of basic human dignity.”... Any doctrine urging caution in constitutional adjudication is overcome by such a clear denial of equal treatment.

Because plaintiffs, and all same-sex couples in New Jersey, cannot access many federal marital benefits as partners in civil unions, this court holds that New Jersey's denial of marriage to same-sex couples now violates Article 1, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution as interpreted by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Lewis v. Harris. The equality demanded by Lewis v. Harris now requires that same-sex couples in New Jersey be allowed to marry. As a result, the court will grant plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and will order the State to permit any and all same-sex couples, who otherwise satisfy the requirements for civil marriage, to marry in New Jersey...

The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts: civil union partners who are federal employees living in New Jersey are ineligible for marital rights with regard to the federal pension system, all civil union partners who are employees working for businesses to which the Family and Medical Leave Act applies may not rely on its statutory protections for spouses, and civil union couples may not access the federal tax benefits that married couples enjoy. And if the trend of federal agencies deeming civil union partners ineligible for benefits continues, plaintiffs will suffer even more, while their opposite-sex New Jersey counterparts continue to receive federal marital benefits for no reason other than the label places upon their relationships by the State. This unequal treatment requires that New Jersey extend civil marriage to same-sex couples to satisfy the equal protection guarantees of the New Jersey Constitution as interpreted by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Lewis. Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution...

… 2. Effective October 21, 2013, Defendants, or such officials of the State of New Jersey as are empowered to do so, shall permit any and all same-sex couples, who otherwise satisfy the requirements to enter into a civil marriage, to marry in New Jersey.”

Judge Mary C. Jacobson, Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer County, September 27, 2013. Decision on Motion for Summary Judgment, and Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and Entering Final Judgment in Favor of Plaintiffs.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hawaii Gov Forwards Marriage Bill

"We are doing our due diligence to remain open, transparent and accessible on this important issue of equality. Over the coming days, I along with the Lt. Governor, Attorney General and staff will be available to legislative caucuses. Next week, it is my hope to meet with House and Senate leadership to discuss the possibility of a special session.”

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie provided state legislators and news media a marriage bill drafted by the state Attorney General, August 28, 2013. The bill is based on Senate Bill 1369, introduced in the 2013 regular session, and was drafted in collaboration with legislators, staff and stakeholders.

"This Act shall be known as the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013. The purpose of this Act is to recognize marriages between individuals of the same sex in the State of Hawaii. The legislature acknowledges the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675(2013), which held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Public Law 104-199, unlawfully discriminated against married same-sex couples by prohibiting the federal government from recognizing those marriages and by denying federal benefits and protections to those couples. This legislature has already extended to same-sex couples the right to enter into civil unions that provide the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under state law as afforded to opposite-sex couples who marry. However, these civil unions are not recognized by federal law and will not receive equal treatment to a marriage under federal law. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to ensure that same-sex couples are able to take full advantage of federal benefits and protections granted to married opposite- sex couples by allowing same-sex couples to marry under the laws of this State. It is the intent of the legislature that marriages solemnized in accordance with this Act be equal in all respects to the marriages of opposite-sex couples under the laws of this State. It is the intent of the legislature that there be no legal distinction between same-sex married couples and opposite-sex married couples with respect to marriage under the laws of this State. Thus, the legislature intends that all provisions of law regarding marriage be applied equally to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples, regardless of whether this Act does or does not amend any particular provision of law..."

Click here to read the entire proposed bill

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Prime Minister Cameron on Passage of UK Marriage Equality Bill

"I am proud that we have made same sex marriage happen. I am delighted that the love two people have for each other - and the commitment they want to make - can now be recognised as equal. I have backed this reform because I believe in commitment, responsibility and family. I don’t want to see people’s love divided by law.

Making marriage available to everyone says so much about the society that we are and the society that we want to live in – one which respects individuals regardless of their sexuality. If a group is told again and again that they are less valuable, over time they may start to believe it. In addition to the personal damage that this can cause, it inhibits the potential of a nation. For this reason too, I am pleased that we have had the courage to change.

I also want to acknowledge those that worked to bring about this moment: the campaigners, groups such as Out4Marriage and Freedom to Marry, and the team in the civil service and Parliament who worked to deliver it.

The UK is rated as the best place in Europe for LGBT equality - but we cannot be complacent. There are subjects we must continue to tackle: not least taking a zero tolerance approach to homophobic bullying, and caring for elderly members of the LGBT community. Rest assured, this government will work tirelessly to make sure this happens.

As the sun shines this week on our country, the LGBT community now know that the unique bond of marriage is available to them. As Lord Alderdice put it when arguing for civil partnerships in 2004: ‘One of the most fundamental rights of all is the right to have close, confiding, lasting, intimate relationships. Without them, no place, no money, no property, no ambition – nothing – amounts to any value. It seems to me a fundamental human right to be able to choose the person with whom you wish to spend your life and with whom you wish to have a real bond.’

I couldn’t agree more. Yesterday was an historic day."

British Prime Minster David Cameron, July 18, 2013; commenting on Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill receiving Royal Assent.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hawaii Gov Lauds Supreme Court Decisions

“In Hawaii, we believe in fairness, justice and human equality, and that everyone is entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else, including the ability to get married. So I am pleased that the Supreme Court, in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case, did not overturn the federal district court’s ruling striking down Proposition 8 – which attempted to bar same sex marriage in California – thereby effectively allowing same sex couples in California to be married.

“Although the Supreme Court did not directly require that same sex couples in other states be allowed to marry, I am encouraged by the fact that language in the Windsor ruling supports my position in the Hawaii lawsuit, which is currently pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In that lawsuit, I argue the Constitution’s equal protection clause requires same sex marriage in all states, including Hawaii.

“I believe my position to support a constitutional right to same sex marriage in Hawaii and elsewhere was given a substantial boost by today’s Supreme Court rulings. I will continue to work to assure justice and equality for all.”

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, June 26, 2013; statement on the US Supreme Court decisions to strike down DOMA & Prop 8.

Friday, July 5, 2013

NY Gov. Cuomo Lauds DOMA Demise

"Today’s decisions by the [Supreme] Court are groundbreaking civil rights victories for the LGBT community and a major step forward in our efforts to achieve full marriage equality in this nation.

Two years ago, New York became the largest state to enact marriage equality, and since then we have seen a growing recognition across the country that all citizens deserve equal rights under the law, regardless of sexual orientation.

From the Stonewall Riots 44 years ago this week, to the passage of marriage equality in New York, to today’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act that originated from a case brought by a New York resident, this state has been at the forefront of this movement.

It is my hope that today’s breakthrough decisions will propel our nation forward and finally allow all Americans to be granted the same rights and protections under the law."

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, June 26, 2013.

Federal Employee Benefits Extended to Same-Sex Married Couples

"Today my Administration announced that, for the first time in history, we will be making important federal employee benefits, including healthcare and retirement benefits, available to eligible married gay and lesbian couples and their families.

This is a critical first step toward implementing this week’s landmark Supreme Court decision declaring that all married couples - gay and straight - should be treated equally under federal law. Thousands of gays and lesbians serve our country every day in the federal government. They, and their spouses and children, deserve the same respect and protection as every other family.

Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, we will continue to move as quickly as possible to fully implement the Court's decision."

President Barack Obama, June 28, 2013.

Pres. Obama Lauds SCOTUS DOMA Decision

"I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal - and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision - which applies only to civil marriages - changes that.

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts:  when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free."

President Barack Obama, June 26, 2013.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Supreme Court Voids DOMA

"Two women then resident in New York were married in a lawful ceremony in Ontario, Canada, in 2007. Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer returned to their home in New York City. When Spyer died in 2009, she left her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim the estate tax exemption for surviving spouses. She was barred from doing so, however, by a federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act, which excludes a same-sex partner from the definition of “spouse” as that term is used in federal statutes. Windsor paid the taxes but filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of this provision. The United States District Court and the Court of Appeals ruled that this portion of the statute is unconstitutional and ordered the United States to pay Windsor a refund. This Court granted certiorari and now affirms the judgment in Windsor’s favor...
When at first Windsor and Spyer longed to marry, neither New York nor any other State granted them that right. After waiting some years, in 2007 they traveled to Ontario to be married there. It seems fair to conclude that, until recent years, many citizens had not even considered the possibility that two persons of the same sex might aspire to occupy the same status and dignity as that of a man and woman in lawful marriage. For marriage between a man and a woman no doubt had been thought of by most people as essential to the very definition of that term and to its role and function throughout the history of civilization. That belief, for many who long have held it, became even more urgent, more cherished when challenged. For others, however, came the beginnings of a new perspective, a new insight. Accordingly some States concluded that same-sex marriage ought to be given recognition and validity in the law for those same-sex couples who wish to define themselves by their commitment to each other. The limitation of lawful marriage to heterosexual couples, which for centuries had been deemed both necessary and fundamental, came to be seen in New York and certain other States as an unjust exclusion.

Slowly at first and then in rapid course, the laws of New York came to acknowledge the urgency of this issue for same-sex couples who wanted to affirm their commitment to one another before their children, their family, their friends, and their community. And so New York recognized same-sex marriages performed elsewhere; and then it later amended its own marriage laws to permit same-sex marriage. New York, in common with, as of this writing, 11 other States and the District of Columbia, decided that same-sex couples should have the right to marry and so live with pride in themselves and their union and in a status of equality with all other married persons. After a statewide deliberative process that enabled its citizens to discuss and weigh arguments for and against same-sex marriage, New York acted to enlarge the definition of marriage to correct what its citizens and elected representatives perceived to be an injustice that they had not earlier known or understood. See Marriage Equality Act, 2011 N. Y. Laws 749 (codified at N. Y. Dom. Rel. Law Ann. §§10–a, 10–b, 13 (West 2013))...
In acting first to recognize and then to allow same-sex marriages, New York was responding “to the initiative of those who [sought] a voice in shaping the destiny of their own times.” Bond v. United States, (2011)...
The States’ interest in defining and regulating the marital relation, subject to constitutional guarantees, stems from the understanding that marriage is more than a routine classification for purposes of certain statutory benefits. Private, consensual sexual intimacy between two adult persons of the same sex may not be punished by the State, and it can form “but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring.” Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558, 567 (2003). By its recognition of the validity of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions and then by authorizing same-sex unions and same-sex marriages, New York sought to give further protection and dignity to that bond. For same-sex couples who wished to be married, the State acted to give their lawful conduct a lawful status. This status is a far-reaching legal acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between two people, a relationship deemed by the State worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages. It reflects both the community’s considered perspective on the historical roots of the institution of marriage and its evolving understanding of the meaning of equality marriages performed in other jurisdictions and then by authorizing same-sex unions and same-sex marriages, New York sought to give further protection and dignity to that bond. For same-sex couples who wished to be married, the State acted to give their lawful conduct a lawful status. This status is a far-reaching legal acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between two people, a relationship deemed by the State worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages. It reflects both the community’s considered perspective on the historical roots of the institution of marriage and its evolving understanding of the meaning of equality.

DOMA seeks to injure the very class New York seeks to protect. By doing so it violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government. See U. S. Const., Amdt. 5; Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U. S. 497 (1954). The Constitution’s guarantee of equality “must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot” justify disparate treatment of that group. Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U. S. 528, 534–535 (1973)... DOMA’s unusual deviation from the usual tradition of recognizing and accepting state definitions of marriage here operates to deprive same-sex couples of the benefits and responsibilities that come with the federal recognition of their marriages. This is strong evidence of a law having the purpose and effect of disapproval of that class. The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States...
DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose in equality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities. By creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State, DOMA forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law, thus diminishing the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the State has found it proper to acknowledge and protect. By this dynamic DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage. The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects, see Lawrence, 539 U. S. 558, and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives...
The power the Constitution grants it also restrains. And though Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

What has been explained to this point should more than suffice to establish that the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage. This requires the Court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution...
The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is affirmed.

It is so ordered."

[Click here to read the entire decision]

Justice Kennedy, for U.S. Supreme Court, June 26, 2013. U.S. v. Windsor; No. 12-307 - opinion striking down as unconstitutional section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (which defined marriage as man/woman for purposes of Federal statutes), as a violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constititution.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rep. Pelosi Celebrates CA Marriage Equality

“What has been a momentous week for Californians, and indeed all Americans, continues. As we celebrate Pride in San Francisco, we are filled with joy as marriages resume in our state and we continue to savor the historic wins this week for all LGBT Americans and their families. Our fight continues – as we keep working to ensure the fair treatment of LGBT couples wherever they live in our country and ensure that justice is done for every American, no matter who they love.”
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (CA), June 28, 2013; after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals immediately lifted its stay on same-sex marriages in California.

9th Circuit Lifts Prop 8 Stay

"The stay in the above matter is dissolved effective immediately."

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Perry, et. al, v. Brown, et. al. Order No. 10-16696, June 28, 2013.

California AG Lauds Prop 8 Demise

“The Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry means that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to be legally married in all of California’s 58 counties. The Court agreed with our argument that opponents of same-sex marriage lacked the legal standing required to bring the issue to the court. Same-sex marriages can legally resume in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifts its stay on the District Court Ruling. I ask that the Ninth Circuit lift this stay immediately, because gay and lesbian couples in California have waited long enough for their full civil rights.”
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, June 26, 2013.

“I am thrilled that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay to allow same-sex couples to legally marry in California. Gay and lesbian couples have waited so long for this day and for their fundamental right to marry. Finally, their loving relationships are as legitimate and legal as any other.”
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, June 28, 2013.

San Fran Leaders on Supreme Court Decision

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Board of Supervisors and other San Francisco leaders discuss historic U.S. Supreme Court decision supporting on marriage equality in California. Click to watch video. June 26, 2013.

Supreme Court - No on Prop 8

"The public is currently engaged in an active political debate over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. That question has also given rise to litigation. In this case, petitioners, who oppose same-sex marriage, ask us to decide whether the Equal Protection Clause “prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.” Pet. for Cert. i. Respondents, same-sex couples who wish to marry, view the issue in somewhat different terms: For them, it is whether California - having previously recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry - may reverse that decision through a referendum. Federal courts have authority under the Constitution to answer such questions only if necessary to do so in the course of deciding an actual “case” or “controversy.” As used in the Constitution, those words do not include every sort of dispute, but only those “historically viewed as capable of resolution through the judicial process.” Flast v. Cohen, 392 U. S. 83, 95 (1968). This is an essential limit on our power: It ensures that we act as judges, and do not engage in policymaking properly left to elected representatives. For there to be such a case or controversy, it is not enough that the party invoking the power of the court have a keen interest in the issue. That party must also have “standing,” which requires, among other things, that it have suffered a concrete and particularized injury. Because we find that petitioners do not have standing, we have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the Ninth Circuit...

Article III standing “is not to be placed in the hands of ‘concerned bystanders,’ who will use it simply as a ‘vehicle for the vindication of value interests.’... No matter how deeply committed petitioners may be to upholding Proposition 8 or how “zealous [their] advocacy,”... that is not a “particularized” interest sufficient to create a case or controversy under Article III...

Neither the California Supreme Court nor the Ninth Circuit ever described the proponents as agents of the State, and they plainly do not qualify as such...

The Article III requirement that a party invoking the jurisdiction of a federal court seek relief for a personal, particularized injury serves vital interests going to the role of the Judiciary in our system of separated powers. “Refusing to entertain generalized grievances ensures that... courts exercise power that is judicial in nature,” Lance, 549 U. S., at 441, and ensures that the Federal Judiciary respects “the proper - and properly limited - role of the courts in a democratic society,” DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U. S. 332, 341 (2006). States cannot alter that role simply by issuing to private parties who otherwise lack standing a ticket to the federal courthouse.

We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here. Because petitioners have not satisfied their burden to demonstrate standing to appeal the judgment of the District Court, the Ninth Circuit was without jurisdiction to consider the appeal. The judgment of the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

It is so ordered."

[Click here to read the entire decision]

Chief Justice Roberts, for U.S. Supreme Court, June 26, 2013. Hollingsworth v. Perry; No. 12-144 - opinion upholding the decision of U.S. District Court ruling that California's Proposition 8 (ballot initiative defining marriage as man/woman) was unconstitutional, by ruling that petitioners (Prop 8 supporters) had no legal standing on the Federal appeals level.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mayor Presides Over Same-Sex Weddings at Baltimore Pride

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiated at Baltimore's first mass same-sex wedding ceremony, held at the Baltimore Pride Festival in Druid Hill Park on Sunday June 16. Nineteen couples were cheered on by hundreds of family, friends, and the festival crowd.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake acknowledged the victory in achieving marriage equality in the state of Maryland; then presided over the brief service, and filled out and signed the official Maryland marriage certificates. The mayor was also Grand Marshal for the annual Baltimore Pride parade held the previous day, June 15, 2013.

Gay Primary Source - wise, we present our first Gay Primary Source photo gallery from the Official Photo Gallery of the City of Baltimore government website.

Click pic for full photo gallery

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hillsborough County Repeals Gay Ban

“Today, I commend the Hillsborough County Commission for supporting equal rights by unanimously repealing its policy against gay pride that was passed in 2005. Many of us have fought hard over the years to overturn this unfair policy and encourage equal opportunity for our neighbors. Today, the voice of the greater community prevailed. Hillsborough County residents should applaud our local leadership for repealing the discriminatory policy, which became a symbol for prejudice and intolerance. It hurt our community economically and culturally.  Now we can turn the page.”

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor (D-Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida), June 5, 2013, regarding the repeal of the discriminatory policy regarding gay pride passed by the Hillsborough County Commission in 2005. Rep. Castor was the sole vote against the measure in 2005 as a Hillsborough County Commissioner.

France Passes Same-Sex Marriage

"Le Parlement hier a adopté la loi ouvrant le mariage aux couples de même sexe. Cette réforme élargit les droits des homosexuels, sans rien enlever à personne. Cette réforme va dans le sens de l’évolution de notre société. Je suis sûr qu’elle en sera fière, dans les prochains jours ou plus tard, parce que c’est une étape vers la modernisation de notre pays, vers plus de liberté, plus d’égalité – les principes qui fondent notre République. Ce débat était long, parfois considéré comme trop long. Je ne le crois pas. Plusieurs mois étaient nécessaires pour entendre toutes les sensibilités. Elles sont respectables : elles méritaient donc d’être respectées. En revanche, quand les passions dégénèrent en violence, elles doivent être condamnées. L’ordre républicain est d’abord le respect de la liberté de manifester, sûrement ; mais aussi de la liberté pour le Parlement de légiférer. Aujourd’hui, je demande que ce qui vient de se produire au Parlement soit compris comme étant la loi de la République. Le Conseil constitutionnel est saisi, il se prononcera sur la conformité du texte aux principes fondamentaux de notre République. Et aussitôt donnée cette décision par le Conseil, je promulguerai la loi qui sera la loi de la République. D’ici là, je cherche et j’appelle chacun à chercher l’apaisement, c’est-à-dire la compréhension, le respect. Parce que tout maintenant doit être consacré à ce qui est l’essentiel : la réussite économique de notre pays et la cohésion nationale. C’est donc une réforme qui devait être faite. Non pas simplement parce que c’était un engagement que j’avais pris devant les Français, mais parce que cela correspondait au mouvement irréversible de l’Histoire, que cela donne beaucoup de joie à beaucoup de nos concitoyens qui attendaient ce moment..."

François Hollande, le président de la République, April 24, 2013 - declaration au sujet de l'adoption par le Parlement de la loi ouvrant le mariage aux couples de même sexe.

Click to view video


Le président de la République s'est exprimé après la validation par le Conseil constitutionnel de la loi ouvrant le mariage et l'adoption aux couples de même sexe. Le Chef de l’État a annoncé qu'il promulguerait cette loi dès le lendemain et a réaffirmé l'importance du respect de la loi de la République. May 17, 2013.

Click to view video

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gov. Brown Declares Harvey Milk Day

"As one of the first openly gay politicians to hold office in the United States, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk is remembered as a hero in the movement for acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. His courage in facing a hostile public and his insistence on being treated the same as anyone else contributed greatly to the advancement of this cause. Milk succeeded because he was not just a gay leader but a champion for his district, a brilliant coalition builder and community organizer who brought the real concerns of ordinary people to city hall. His legacy lives on in the vibrant neighborhoods of San Francisco, which he helped restore to vitality at a time when American cities were in crisis.

Today, on the 83rd anniversary of his birth, I urge all Californians to remember Harvey Milk for his contributions to the more open, free and honest society that we live in today. We should also remember how he died, at the hands of a fellow supervisor, a killing that Milk himself had anticipated because of the virulent opposition he faced. On this day, let us rededicate ourselves not only to the cause of equal rights for all people, but also to the peaceful and democratic process envisioned by our nation’s founders.

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2013, as “Harvey Milk Day.”

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 21st day of May 2013."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Governor Signs Minnesota Freedom to Marry Law

"What a difference a year and an election make in Minnesota! Last year, there were concerns that marriage equality would be banned forever. Now, my signature will make it legal in two and one-half months.

First and foremost, I want to thank the people of Minnesota, who voted last year to defeat a very destructive Constitutional Amendment, and also to elect courageous legislators, who would support this monumental social advance.

I want to thank the activists, all of you here tonight and the thousands more throughout our state, who worked so long and so hard to win this extraordinary victory.  

At the risk of leaving out many deserving leaders, special recognition should go to Richard Carlbom, who brilliantly masterminded last year’s and this year’s campaigns.

Congratulations to the chief authors, Representative Karen Clark and Senator Scott Dibble, who shepherded this bill along an often difficult path – and who have now succeeded, to the amazement of some and the delight of many.  

Thank you to the House and Senate leaders: Speaker Paul Thissen, Majority Leader Tom Bakk, Majority Leader Erin Murphy, and Asst. Majority Leader Katie Sieben for supporting and guiding this legislation.  

And I want to express my utmost admiration to the Republican and Democratic legislators, who voted for this bill. Many of them are standing behind me, and they deserve to hear our gratitude.  

Last week, I suggested that you legislators read John F. Kennedy’s book: Profiles in Courage. Instead, you wrote its latest chapter.  

By your political courage, you join that pantheon of exceptional leaders, who did something extraordinary – you changed the course of history for our state and our nation.

Our country’s founding principle was stated 237 years ago in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That principle was later embodied in the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, “No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Unfortunately, our nation’s founding fathers had bold aspirations, but a bad implementation. They wrongly denied those equal rights and protections to women, African-Americans, and other racial minorities.  

They also left out GLBT men and women, if you believe, as I do, that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness certainly include the right to marry the person you love.

Since then, our country’s most important progress has been to extend those equal rights and protections to everyone. That progress has often been difficult, controversial, and initially divisive. However, it has always been the next step ahead to fulfilling this country’s promise to every American.

It is now my honor to sign into law this next step for the State of Minnesota to fulfill its promise to every Minnesotan."

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, May 14, 2013. 
 Watch also on Youtube

Monday, May 13, 2013

St. Paul MN "Freedom to Marry Week"

“The State of Minnesota is about to write history. Becoming the first Midwest state in the country to legislatively legalize the freedom to marry for all committed couples is an event worth celebrating. Today, we line the Freedom to Marry Bridge with pride flags to show the importance of this legislation to the City of Saint Paul, the families that live here, and to those who have been waiting for this day for many years. Connie and I have been married for 24 years and it is time all of our friends and neighbors have recognition for their love from the state they call home.”

Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, May 13, 2013.

Mayor Coleman issued a proclamation proclaiming May 13 through May 17 “Freedom to Marry Week” in the City of Saint Paul. Pride flags now line the Wabasha Street Bridge, which has been temporarily named the “Freedom to Marry Bridge.”

Delaware Enacts Marriage Equality

"I know many of you here today, and many up and down our state, have waited years and decades for this day to come. I know many of you know others who had hoped for years and decades to see this day come, but who passed before their right to marry the one they loved was recognized by the state they called home. I do not intend to make you wait a day longer.

It is in moments like this that it is truly humbling to hold this office. I spoke in my Inaugural Address in January about great Delawareans who have changed history and made our state better for generations to come. Those of you who have worked tirelessly for years to make today possible, who started working to make this day possible before today was even imaginable, have joined the ranks of those great Delawareans. You have advanced the cause of liberty, equality, and dignity in our time.

It has taken us time to know and recognize what the children of gay and lesbian parents in committed relationships have long known – that the people they love and look up to, who have dedicated their love and lives to raising them, are their parents, are there family. By extending the dignity of marriage to their parents’ relationships, we recognize what they know – that they and their parents are family – in terms that are unmistakable and undeniable.

Marriage equality would not have become a reality here in Delaware were it not for the extraordinary efforts of Equality Delaware, under the amazing leadership of Lisa Goodman and Mark Purpura. They are passionate advocates, consummate professionals and, most important of all, kind and decent people. They exemplify the virtues of active citizenship in a state of neighbors.

Marriage equality also would not have become a reality in Delaware without the courageous and principled leadership of Representative Melanie George Smith, Senator David Sokola, the Pro Tem, and the Speaker.

It is my distinct honor today to sign this legislation into law - to make marriage equality the law of Delaware. Delaware should be, is and will be, a welcoming place to live, love, and raise a family for all who call our great state home."

Delaware Governor Jack Markell, May 7, 2013. Statement from Marriage Equality Bill signing ceremony. Watch also on youtube.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Governor Signs Rhode Island Marriage Equality Act

"My fellow Rhode Islanders, Today, Rhode Island is making history.

We are living up to the ideals of our founders who believed so deeply in the words etched behind me in marble: "to hold forth a lively experiment, that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained..."

In January 2011, I stood before you in the same spot where I stand today. I said then: "When marriage equality is the law in Rhode Island, we honor our forefathers who risked their lives and fortune in the pursuit of human equality." I believe those words just as much today as I did then, and I am proud and humbled to make the Marriage Equality Act the law of the land in Rhode Island.

We would not be where we are today without the Rhode Islanders who for decades have fought for tolerance and freedom over discrimination and division. People such as David Cicilline, Gordon Fox, Rhoda Perry, Frank Ferri, Donna Nesselbush, Michael Pisaturo, Myrth York, Josh Miller, Art Handy, and Sue Sosnowski. I am so pleased that many of them are here celebrating with us this evening. Sadly, some of them, such as the late Julie Pell and June Gibbs, are not. But they are certainly here in spirit. This legislation also would not have passed without the extraordinary efforts of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, with Ray Sullivan at the helm. The doors that were knocked on, the conversations that took place, the calls that were made to legislators - this is what pushed us over the finish line. I want to thank all of the staff, supporters, and volunteers for their hard work and commitment to a worthy cause. I also want to commend Speaker Fox, who has been a leader in this struggle for many years, for his decision to call a House vote in January. That vote was 51-19. And I give great credit to Senate President Paiva Weed for calling the roll and allowing her members to vote their conscience. That tally was 26-12 ......

In closing, I want to say a few words to our many, many LGBT family members, friends, and neighbors all across Rhode Island. I know that you have been waiting for this day to come. I know that you have loved ones who dreamed this would happen, but did not live to see it. But I am proud to say that now, at long last, you are free to marry the person you love. Thank you."

Governor Lincoln Chafee, Providence, RI, May 2, 2013, Marriage Equality Act signing ceremony.

Senate Passes Rhode Island Marriage Equality Bill

"I am always proud to be a Rhode Islander, but never more so than today. After yesterday’s Judiciary Committee vote, I expressed my hope that the full Rhode Island Senate would pass a bill that chooses tolerance and fairness over division and discrimination. In passing the Marriage Equality Act, they have done just that. I thank the Senators who have taken a stand to move Rhode Island forward and commend the Senate President for calling the roll. Great credit should go to Ray Sullivan, everyone at Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, and the countless volunteers who knocked on doors and participated in phone banks. Finally, I want to applaud the pioneers, such as the late Julie Pell, who for decades have fought for the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders. This day would not have been possible without their efforts. Pending the final vote by the House of Representatives, Rhode Island will no longer be an outlier in our region. We will have the welcome mat out. We will be open for business, and we will once again affirm our legacy as a place that is tolerant and appreciative of diversity."  Governor Lincoln Chafee, April 24, 2013, statement regarding Rhode Island Senate passage of the Marriage Equality Act.

Senate Committee Advances Rhode Island Marriage Equality Bill

"I am pleased that the Committee members have chosen to move Rhode Island forward. Marriage equality legislation has now come farther than ever before in the Rhode Island Senate. Rhode Island currently stands as an island of inequality in our region. At this time of intense economic competition, we cannot afford to lag behind our New England neighbors and New York in this important area. There is still work to be done. Over the next 24 hours, I encourage Rhode Islanders to contact their Senators to urge passage of a bill that chooses tolerance and fairness over division and discrimination. I believe that when the roll is called, marriage equality will become law in Rhode Island."  Governor Lincoln Chafee, April 23, 2013, Statement regarding Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Marriage Equality.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bill Clinton on Jason Collins Coming Out

"I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea's classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason's announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned." President Bill Clinton, April 29, 2013.

NBA Commish on Jason Collins Coming Out

"As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family. Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue." National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern,
April 29, 2013.

Pro Basketballer Jason Collins Comes Out

I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.

I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.

My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.

Now I'm a free agent, literally and figuratively. I've reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.

Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I'm a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.

The first relative I came out to was my aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco. Her reaction surprised me. "I've known you were gay for years," she said. From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imagine you're in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know - I baked for 33 years.

When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."

The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We'll be marching on June 8...

Jason Collins, Washington Wizards, Sports Illustrated magazine, posted online April 29, 2013.

Click here to continue in Sports Illustrated, issue of May 6, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

France Passes Same-Sex Marriage Law

"Mesdames, Messieurs,

Le Parlement hier a adopté la loi ouvrant le mariage aux couples de même sexe. Cette réforme élargit les droits des homosexuels, sans rien enlever à personne.

Cette réforme va dans le sens de l’évolution de notre société. Je suis sûr qu’elle en sera fière, dans les prochains jours ou plus tard, parce que c’est une étape vers la modernisation de notre pays, vers plus de liberté, plus d’égalité – les principes qui fondent notre République.

Ce débat était long, parfois considéré comme trop long. Je ne le crois pas. Plusieurs mois étaient nécessaires pour entendre toutes les sensibilités. Elles sont respectables : elles méritaient donc d’être respectées.

En revanche, quand les passions dégénèrent en violence, elles doivent être condamnées. L’ordre républicain est d’abord le respect de la liberté de manifester, sûrement ; mais aussi de la liberté pour le Parlement de légiférer.

Aujourd’hui, je demande que ce qui vient de se produire au Parlement soit compris comme étant la loi de la République.

Le Conseil constitutionnel est saisi, il se prononcera sur la conformité du texte aux principes fondamentaux de notre République. Et aussitôt donnée cette décision par le Conseil, je promulguerai la loi qui sera la loi de la République.

D’ici là, je cherche et j’appelle chacun à chercher l’apaisement, c’est-à-dire la compréhension, le respect. Parce que tout maintenant doit être consacré à ce qui est l’essentiel : la réussite économique de notre pays et la cohésion nationale.

C’est donc une réforme qui devait être faite. Non pas simplement parce que c’était un engagement que j’avais pris devant les Français, mais parce que cela correspondait au mouvement irréversible de l’Histoire, que cela donne beaucoup de joie à beaucoup de nos concitoyens qui attendaient ce moment.

Cette réforme pourra, dans quelques jours, quelques semaines, devenir la loi de tous, la loi pour tous.

Mais aujourd’hui plus que jamais, le rassemblement du pays doit se faire sur ce qui est attendu par beaucoup de nos compatriotes : l’emploi, le redressement, la confiance.


Le président de la République Francois Hollande, April 24, 2013. Déclaration au sujet de l'adoption par le Parlement de la loi ouvrant le mariage aux couples de même sexe.

Click here to watch video of French President Francois Hollande

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hillary Clinton Supports LGBT Equality

Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has joined the Human Rights Campaign in their public campaign for marriage equality. Her videotaped statement supporting LGBT equal rights and marriage equality has been released as part of HRC's Americans for Marriage Equality series. Click here to view the video at HRC's website.

Bill Clinton Supports DOMA Repeal

"In 1996, I signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Although that was only 17 years ago, it was a very different time. In no state in the union was same-sex marriage recognized, much less available as a legal right, but some were moving in that direction. Washington, as a result, was swirling with all manner of possible responses, some quite draconian. As a bipartisan group of former senators stated in their March 1 amicus brief to the Supreme Court, many supporters of the bill known as DOMA believed that its passage “would defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more.” It was under these circumstances that DOMA came to my desk, opposed by only 81 of the 535 members of Congress.

On March 27, DOMA will come before the Supreme Court, and the justices must decide whether it is consistent with the principles of a nation that honors freedom, equality and justice above all, and is therefore constitutional. As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution.

Countries where same-sex marriage is legal: While the United States continues to debate the legality of same-sex marriage, some countries have had laws legalizing gay marriage for more than a decade.

Because Section 3 of the act defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, same-sex couples who are legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia are denied the benefits of more than a thousand federal statutes and programs available to other married couples. Among other things, these couples cannot file their taxes jointly, take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse, or receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees. Yet they pay taxes, contribute to their communities and, like all couples, aspire to live in committed, loving relationships, recognized and respected by our laws.

When I signed the bill, I included a statement with the admonition that “enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination.” Reading those words today, I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory. It should be overturned.

We are still a young country, and many of our landmark civil rights decisions are fresh enough that the voices of their champions still echo, even as the world that preceded them becomes less and less familiar. We have yet to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, but a society that denied women the vote would seem to us now not unusual or old-fashioned but alien. I believe that in 2013 DOMA and opposition to marriage equality are vestiges of just such an unfamiliar society.

Americans have been at this sort of a crossroads often enough to recognize the right path. We understand that, while our laws may at times lag behind our best natures, in the end they catch up to our core values. One hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln concluded a message to Congress by posing the very question we face today: “It is not ‘Can any of us imagine better?’ but ‘Can we all do better?’ ”

The answer is of course and always yes. In that spirit, I join with the Obama administration, the petitioner Edith Windsor, and the many other dedicated men and women who have engaged in this struggle for decades in urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act."

President Bill Clinton, published in the Washington Post, March 7, 2013.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Attorney General Files Prop 8 Brief with Supreme Court

“In our filing today in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the government seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law. Throughout history, we have seen the unjust consequences of decisions and policies rooted in discrimination. The issues before the Supreme Court in this case and the Defense of Marriage Act case are not just important to the tens of thousands of Americans who are being denied equal benefits and rights under our laws, but to our Nation as a whole.”  Attorney General Eric Holder on U.S. Government’s filing in Hollingsworth v. Perry [Prop 8 case], February 28, 2013.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pentagon Expands Partner Benefits

"Seventeen months ago, the United States military ended the policy of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell.’ We have implemented the repeal of that policy and made clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation has no place in the Department of Defense.

"At the time of repeal, I committed to reviewing benefits that had not previously been available to same-sex partners based on existing law and policy. It is a matter of fundamental equity that we provide similar benefits to all of those men and women in uniform who serve their country. The department already provides a group of benefits that are member-designated. Today, I am pleased to announce that after a thorough and deliberate review, the department will extend additional benefits to same-sex partners of service members.

"Taking care of our service members and honoring the sacrifices of all military families are two core values of this nation. Extending these benefits is an appropriate next step under current law to ensure that all service members receive equal support for what they do to protect this nation.

"One of the legal limitations to providing all benefits at this time is the Defense of Marriage Act, which is still the law of the land. There are certain benefits that can only be provided to spouses as defined by that law, which is now being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court. While it will not change during my tenure as secretary of defense, I foresee a time when the law will allow the department to grant full benefits to service members and their dependents, irrespective of sexual orientation. Until then, the department will continue to comply with current law while doing all we can to take care of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and their families.

"While the implementation of additional benefits will require substantial policy revisions and training, it is my expectation that these benefits will be made available as expeditiously as possible. One of the great successes at the Department of Defense has been the implementation of DADT repeal. It has been highly professional and has strengthened our military community. I am confident in the military services' ability to effectively implement these changes over the coming months."

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, February 11, 2013; extending benefits to same-sex partners of service members.

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama Inaugural Address

"...We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths - that all of us are created equal - is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity - until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.    Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task - to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time..."

President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013