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The Senate Judiciary Committee begins consideration of the Gang of 8′s Immigration Reform Bill today. C-SPAN’s coverage should be must-see-TV for an audience of one: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Among the potentially contentious issues facing the committee is the inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Under current law, special immigration provisions available to the spouses of U.S. citizens are not available to LGBT Americans. Originally drafted to get around the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), UAFA would give equal immigration access to LGBT couples in state-recognized relationships, be they marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships.
The need to even discuss UAFA should make one thing clear to Kennedy as he considers his decision on DOMA and Proposition 8: moving slowly on marriage equality is more a step toward chaos than justice.
Until same-sex marriage is a reality nationwide, changes in the tax code, military benefits and more than 1,000 other federal rules we learned about in the DOMA debate could all require a UAFA-esque patch to deal with same-sex relationships. Every time that patch could be used to hold a bill hostage, despite Chief Justice Roberts’ rosy assessment of the political power of the LGBT community. Every time the patch fails, the status of same-sex couples and straight couples becomes more separated and less equal.
First off, Lord Carey is accusing the government of sidelining and marginalizing opponents of marriage equality and minority ethnic communities:
Lord George Carey of Clifton told the House of Lords yesterday that the Government has painted opponents of marriage equality as a “strange breed of non-relevant dinosaurs” while ignoring minority ethnic and religious communities. Following comments by Lord Fowler on the recent Queen’s Speech, Lord Carey said the Conservative’s push for same-sex marriage had helped create a “broken society”, rather than their intended “big society”.
Another marriage equality opponent, Baroness O’Cathain, once the government to admit that marriage equality is a “mistake”:
I believe that it is a deeply flawed Bill and a deeply concerning attack on the values of great swathes of the population. Where is the pressure coming from? Are the Government taking any notice of the widespread antipathy to the redefinition of marriage? It is a wrong Bill, and it beggars belief that the Government have wantonly decided to push it through at any time, let alone when we are in such a parlous state. Marriage must be supported and valued, not dismantled. For the sake of the future of marriage in this country, I urge the Government to admit graciously that this has been a great mistake and drop the Bill.
Perhaps the original mistake was to only grant gay lesbian couples civil partnerships, a second-class status that tells everyone that game lesbian couples are not “as good as” everyone else. The real mistake would be to backtrack now.
On the flipside, Lord Norman Fowler makes the argument for the marriage equality bill:
Suffice it to say at this stage that my personal view is that Parliament should value people equally in the law, and that enabling same-sex couples to marry removes the current inequity. A legal partnership is not seen in the same way and does not have the same promises of responsibility and commitment as marriage. There are many same-sex couples, including those working in the churches, who view marriage as fundamentally important and want to enter into that life-long commitment. It is therefore Parliament’s duty to enable that to happen, and in so doing strengthen the society in which we live today.
Lord Fowler goes on to say:
An opinion poll in this country suggested that many Christians in Britain believed that they were a persecuted minority. I can only say that if anyone wants to see a persecuted minority they should look at the plight of gay, lesbian and transgender people around the world. As you travel you go to countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence and where people who are suspected of being homosexual are persecuted and even forced to leave their family homes. In one country a newspaper was dedicated to exposing homosexuals–to identifying them, photographing them and publishing their addresses–so that the local population could take action against them. In one case, this led to a murder.
I have rarely seen this point so eloquently made.
One more – former police Chief Constable Lord Dear told the House of Lords that marriage equality will create a backlash against gays and lesbians:
But I sincerely believe that the passage of this Bill into law will, in turn, create such opposition to homosexuals in general that the climate of tolerance and acceptance in this country that we have all championed and supported and seen flourish over recent years could well be set back by decades. The noble Lord, Lord Fowler, who is not in his place, spoke eloquently and, indeed, spread his wings on the subject of what is going on in Uganda. None of us would want to see anything like that in this country; the last time that sort of behaviour occurred was several centuries ago. I ask the noble Lord and others to reflect on the fact that this Bill is not so much about equality as sameness. I leave those two words with your Lordships.
In other words, gays and lesbians should just sit down and shut up and be happy with the tolerance they have been given.
We’ll start with Iowa’s Bob Vander Plaats, one of the top opponents of marriage equality in Iowa. Joe.My.God reports that he thunks it will be repealed. Eventually. Maybe. Watch the clip:
NOM’s Brian Brown is at it again… after having recently predicted defeats for mariage equality in Delaware and Minnesota, he now thinks Senators Rob Portman and Mark Kirk will be pushed out for supporting marriage equality. On Top Magazine reports:
“They need to be primaried, period. I think that folks in Ohio, if Rob Portman decides to run again, he will be primaried. He may not run again because there’s been such a backlash in his state, and I think the same is true of Mark Kirk,” said Brown.
But let’s face it, The National Organization for Marriage hasn’t exactly had a stellar record lately when making predictions.
The next one comes from the “oh no, they didn’t” file. A conservative group is once again going after Glee. Pink News reports:
Collins writes: “Pity William McKinley. Our 25th president was a Civil War hero who successfully prosecuted the Spanish-American War and presided over a booming economy. For his trouble, he was assassinated. Adding insult to injury, he’s the namesake of The World’s Gayest High School. “It’s no secret that ‘Glee’ frequently and flamboyantly pushes a gay agenda. So many characters play for the other team it’s hard to believe that there’ll be any future generations of McKinley High students to mock the Bible and cheer on transgendered [sic] performers. But as this season prepares to wrap up this week, things are heating up on ‘Glee.’ Last week’s episode featured a particularly large dose of gay.”
Wow… never knew President McKInley had such a big fan club. And hey, World’s Gayest High School? Well, ok, maybe that’s not so far off the mark. ::: grin :::
One more for you, this one out of Singapore. Dot429 Magazine reports:
Once more, Singapore is showing its anti-LGBT colors, with a pastor delivering a sermon recently on the importance of heterosexual marriage and referring to the LGBT community as “diabolical.” “I believe that God has awakened to face one of the greatest attacks on the family by the evil one,’ said pastor Lawrence Khong of the Faith Community Baptist Church. Khong also lashed out at the LGBT movement, referring to it as the “onslaught of the evil one.”
Wow, “onslaught of the evil one.” Well, I guess if you define “onslaught” as the desire to get married, have the same rights as straight couples, raise kids, buy a house, and generally settle down, then I guess he’s right about that part. But who’s this “evil one”? Mark tells me I can be kind of a bitch in the morning when I first get up, but “evil one” is kind of pushing it… LOL
Whoever wrote the marriage equality bill in New Zealand was careful to include transgender and intersex folks in its provisions. Our pal Melanie Nathan explains:
New Zealand passed same-sex marriage into law which will take effect on August 19, 2013. It does not just provide that same-sex couples may marry, Section 5 of the act amended the interpretation section of the Marriage Act 1955 to read: “marriage means the union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity” (emphasis added). This definition is significant as it allows the marriage of any two people, without the need for either person to define themselves as either the same or different sex as their partner, or to be legally recognized as either male or female.
This is a great example of how the fight for marriage equality doesn’t have to leave anyone behind.
Although three tribes have endorsed it, marriage equality is still a divisive issue in many Native American communities. The Miami Herald reports:
With more Native Americans making similar demands, the Suquamish tribe is one of three that have signed off on marriage by same-sex couples, laws that apply only on their land. Legal analysts predict that more tribes will follow, giving new rights to what many Native Americans call “two-spirit” individuals, who carry both a feminine and masculine spirit. Still, the issue is far from settled in Indian country.
The tribes are subject to some of the same divisions that mark American society as a whole:
“God created woman for man, and when you try to rewrite creation you can expect judgment to fall on your people,” tribal elder Doug Emery said. He ran for the tribal council and lost in Monday’s primary, but he hopes there’s enough turnover on the council to scrap the law after the June general election.
But it wasn’t always this way:
Scholars note that before their introduction to Christianity, many tribes accepted their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members as “two spirits,” even giving them added respect because they were thought to have special powers. Consequently, they say, same-sex marriage is easier for many tribal members to accept, though it still kicks up plenty of controversy.
Of the 566 recognized tribes in the US, only 3 currently recognize marriage equality.
The Democrats in Ohio decided to endorse marriage equality and the repeal of the state’s gay marriage ban. On Top Magazine reports:
In an email to supporters, the party asked, “Isn’t it time that we make Ohio the 12th state to embrace equality?” a reference to the recent passage of a marriage bill in Delaware. The organization also unveiled a fundraising campaign revolving around the issue.
Remember when the ban was George Bush’s number one weapon to win Ohio in 2004 and thus to win the nation? How the times have changed.
The Illinois House is set to adjourn in just three weeks… when will the marriage equality bill get a vote? The Chicago Phoenix reports:
“The eyes of the nation now look to Illinois,” said Rep. Greg Harris, the bill’s chief sponsor in the chamber, following the Delaware victory. “Each of us who are called upon to cast this vote must decide how we wish to be remembered by history. I believe my colleagues will want to be on the right side of history, remembered among those who stood for fairness and equality.” House lawmakers have faced a number of contentious issues this session ahead of same-sex marriage, including a solution to Illinois’ conceal carry law, a comprehensive sex education bill, a measure that would legalize medical marijuana and reforms that would remedy the state’s multi-billion dollar pension crisis.
What’s the hold-up?
State LGBT advocacy leaders such as Anthony Martinez, executive director at The Civil Rights Agenda, declined to comment on the vote count, and like Harris, confirmed it is near 60. “We are incredibly close,” said Martinez. “It’s a matter of just getting those last few votes. It’s going to take some higher level conversations the Speaker and the Governor will need to have with the legislators on the fence to hopefully get those last few votes.”
We hope back-to-back victories in Rhode Island and Delaware, and now likely in Minnesota too, will spur the Chicago house on.
Former GOP Governor Charlie Crist just announced his support for marriage equality on his Facebook page today. Towleroad.com reports:
“Some great news: On Tuesday, Delaware became the 11th state to allow marriage equality. And just a few days ago, Rhode Island adopted a similar measure, which followed victories last fall in Maine, Maryland and Washington. I most certainly support marriage equality in Florida and look forward to the day it happens here.” Crist is potentially planning a run for governor of Florida as a Democrat.
That would be something, wouldn’t it? The former Republican Governor back as a gay marriage-supporting democrat in Florida?
Several Amendments were brought up, as On Top Magazine reports:
An amendment designed to shore up Republican support by inserting the word “civil” in front of marriage and sponsored by Republican David FitzSimmons was adopted with a voice vote “In my mind, it’s further reassurance that it’s the state role in marriage and not the religious institutions we’re talking about,” FitzSimmons told the Pioneer Press. An amendment to abolish marriage in Minnesota failed by a wide margin (111-22).
One Democrat, a minister, made up his mind on the floor:
Rep. Tim Faust, a previously undecided Lutheran minister and a Democrat, announced on the floor that he would vote for the marriage bill. Faust said that gay people are “children of God” and “yet they do not have the same rights.” “Today, we have the opportunity to give our brothers and sisters the same rights that most of us have taken for granted,” he told colleagues.
During the three hours of testimony on the bill, other representatives also offered testimony for the bill on the House floor. Edge Boston reports:
“My family knew firsthand that same sex couples pay our taxes, we vote, we serve in the military, we take care of our kids and our elders and we run businesses in Minnesota,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Karen Clark, a Minneapolis Democrat who is gay. “… Same-sex couples should be treated fairly under the law, including the freedom to marry the person we love.”
Demonstrators for the bill filled the halls:
Pro-marriage demonstrators filled the hallways outside the House chambers, some dressed in orange T-Shirts and holding signs that read, “I Support The Freedom to Marry.” Behind them, opponents held up bright pink signs that simply read, “Vote No.” Among the demonstrators was Grace McBride, 27, a nurse from St. Paul. She said she and her partner felt compelled to be there to watch history unfold. She said she hopes to get married “as soon as I can” if the bill becomes law. The legislation would allow her to do so starting Aug. 1. “I have thought about my wedding since I was a little girl,” she said.
Of course, representatives against the bill also had their say. The Washington Blade reports:
State Rep. Kelby Woodard (R-Belle Plaine) said HF 1054 would classify “half of Minnesotans as bigots” as he spoke against it. “We are being asked to redefine marriage,” he said. “We are redefining today in this bill the definition of marriage that has been the bedrock of society for thousands of years.” State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) cited 2,500 studies he said confirms the benefit of “traditional marriage for men, women and especially children.” State Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) added HF 1054 would remove “gender-specific terminology” from Minnesota’s marriage laws. “There will be consequences intended and not intended to the very essence of who we are and what we become,” state Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) said.
In the end, four republicans joined the democrats to pass the bill. Towleroad.com reports:
Though no Republicans had said they were ‘yes’ votes beforehand, four of them — David FitzSimmons of Albertville, Pat Garofalo of Farmington, Andrea Kieffer of Woodbury and Jenifer Loon of Eden Prairie — voted with the Democrats. Democrats Sawatzky and Fritz voted no.
Now the bill goes to the Senate for a final vote Monday.
Confounding predictions of a close vote, the Minnesota House just passed the marriage equality bill 75-59. Equality on trial reports:
The Minnesota House convened today to debate on the marriage equality bill, H.F. 1054, and the House has just voted to pass the bill 75-59. As we reported earlier this morning, the state senate will convene on Monday at 11AM, and will vote soon after that on the marriage bill. State senate officials have said they have the votes to pass it. Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton is a marriage equality supporter and will sign the bill once it reaches his desk. Minnesota will be the 12th state to allow same-sex couples to marry, once the bill is signed into law.
It has long been believed that Minnesota had the votes on the Senate but that the House vote was dicey. This should put those rumors to rest.
Onward to Monday’s Senate vote – state number 12???
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There may be another vote on the marriage equality bill in Australia next month. Gay Star News reports:
The Greens party in Australia are pushing for another vote on same-sex marriage before the general election in September. Greens MP and deputy leader Adam Bandt is campaigning for his Marriage Equality Amendment Bill to be voted on in the House of Representative on 6 June… Whether Bandt’s bill will pass depends if opposition leader Tony Abbott will allow his MPs to vote freely in a conscience vote, rather than as a block against legislation… But Bandt said that even if the bill doesn’t pass, it gives voters the chance to see how their MP goes on the issue in a real vote.
With a left-wing government in power and marriage equality still being blocked, who knows how long gay and lesbian Australians will have to wait? But hope springs eternal.
The District Council in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, has passed a Sinn Fein motion in favour of “supporting the same rights and entitlements to civil marriages for all citizens of Fermanagh regardless of race, religion or sexuality.” The motion passed, despite strong DUP opposition, with one councillor stating his religious objections to allowing all citizens to marry.
This is the second time the council tried to pass the bill – it failed the first time, in September.
ABC has just released a new poll on for gay-rights issues – marriage equality, gays in the Boy Scouts, banning gay Scout leaders, and Jason Collins recent announcement that he is gay. Joe.My.God reports:
Backing is widest and deepest for Collins, with 68 percent of Americans saying they support the NBA center’s decision to announce his sexual orientation. Those who “strongly” support his step outnumber his strong critics by a 3-1 margin. A substantial 63 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, also support the Boy Scouts’ plan to begin admitting gay scouts younger than 18, while 56 percent oppose its intention to continue to ban gay adults. Again strength of sentiment favors gay rights, by 16- and 12-point margins, respectively. Both policies go to a vote of the group’s governing council, meeting the week of May 20 in Grapevine, Texas. Some of these views even overcome political sentiment to some degree. Majorities of Republicans and conservatives, 52 and 54 percent, respectively, support Collins’ step, and 53 percent of Republicans support admitting gay scouts. These groups are much less apt to support admitting gay scout leaders or legalizing gay marriage.
According to the poll, support for marriage equality is becoming more and more lopsided, with 55% supporting it and only 40% opposed. However, only 33% of Republicans support it.
The UK’s gay marriage bill is finally back on the table, with debate planned in the House of Commons on May 20 and 21st. Pink News reports:
The bill’s remaining stages will be debated on 20 and 21 May, Leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley told MPs on Thursday. If the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is approved on 21 May, it will then pass to the Lords for further scrutiny. A group of MPs has been taking detailed evidence on the proposals in a public committee since February. The House of Commons Public Bill Committee received testimony from both advocates and critics of the bill.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is hopeful that gays and lesbians will be able to marry by this summer in the UK.
In recent weeks, Prime Minister David Cameron has once again been on the receiving end of criticism for pushing for marriage equality. Another such attack came yesterday from MP Dr. William McCrea, who sided the absence of the bill in the “Queen’s Speech” as an indication that the government was no longer pushing the marriage quality but so hard. Pink News reports:
In February, Conservative Equalities Minister Helen Grant dismissed this claim, saying: “It was in the Contract for Equalities that was published at the same time as the Conservative General Election manifesto. It was quite clear what our intentions may well be.” Downing Street said yesterday there was no need for the bill to be in the speech because it was a “carry-over” measure introduced midway through the last session.
McCrea went on to add:
“The prime minister should reflect on whether parliamentary time should be devoted to pushing through the redefinition of marriage. No party has a mandate for that change, and many Conservative activists who have deserted to UKIP have cited the government’s pushing that legislation through this Parliament as showing that they are out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of ordinary voters.”
And yet, marriage equality is a day to day concern for many ordinary gay and lesbian voters. And their families. And their close friends. Perhaps Dr. McCrea doesn’t count LGBT folks as constituents?
In the wake of the passage of the marriage equality bill in Delaware, the Delaware Family Policy Council promises to help run out of office legislators who voted for the bill, especially those who were expected to vote no. On Top Magazine reports:
Speaking to the News Journal, Theis had a warning for lawmakers who voted for the bill. “There are legislators who said they would vote ‘no’ on redefining marriage. We trusted them. We stood by them. Now we must hold them accountable,” she said. “We did poll Senator Hall-Long’s district, because she has very active evangelical churches in her district. According to that polling, she will be replaced,” Theis said.
Of course, elections are still a long ways away, and Delaware is already at 54% support for marriage equality, according to the latest polling. So good luck with that.
Our regular feature – what anti-gay folks are saying about us. Think Progress reports that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a new bulletin regarding marriage and the Supreme Court:
The Court is expected to rule on both cases by the end of June. A broad negative ruling could redefine marriage in the law throughout the entire country, becoming the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined with many other organizations in urging the Supreme Court to uphold both DOMA and Proposition 8 and thereby to recognize the essential, irreplaceable contribution that husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, make to society, and especially to children.
The primary difference between this and Roe v. Wade, of course, is a public opinion is already much stronger for marriage equality than it was in favor of choice at the time of that decision. Maybe the bishops are hoping that such a comparison will encourage marriage equality opponents to wage a continuing fight against marriage equality?
One more for you this morning – to pastors with a radio show have found a new metaphor for homosexuality – the flesh eating virus. LGBTQ Nation reports:
The body itself is shot through with this disease and it is occasionally busting through in these sores called homosexuality and these sores seem to be spreading all the time,” Swanson said, “They are taking these sores and they are carving happy faces into them, they are calling this sore ‘gay’ and they are carving happy faces into them, they are making it appear to be a wonderful, wonderful thing that we have these sores breaking out.” Buehner elaborated on the analogy, calling homosexuality a “nasty flesh eating virus” that is spreading “all over the body” and lamenting that political and religious leaders who support gay rights are like “shepherds leading the sheep to death.”
Lovely. And these guys call themselves Christians?
A minor change to the bill’s language might make it more palatable to GOP politicians. CBS Minnesota reports:
The House is scheduled to debate and vote Thursday on a measure that would make the state the 12th in the country to allow gay marriage. An amendment posted Wednesday from GOP Rep. David FitzSimmons suggests reframing the bill’s proposed changes to Minnesota’s marriage laws, swapping in the term “civil marriages” in all instances whether couples are of the same or different genders. Richard Carlbom, director of Minnesotans United, the lobby group pushing for gay marriage, told The Associated Press that the group is backing the amendment. It’s meant to guarantee that religious organizations couldn’t be fined, punished or stripped of special status for refusing to perform gay marriages.
The Minnesota House vote is scheduled tomorrow, and the Senate will likely vote on it this weekend.
The US Supreme Court will rule on the Prop 8 case sometime between now and the start of July. AFER has a flow chart of how the decision might go:
The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of its term in June on whether Proposition 8, California’s ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples, violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Here’s what could happen: