Archive for category GLBT issues
The case of the Masterpiece Bakery in Colorado is one of a number of cases in which small business owners refuse to do business with gay couples on the basis of the owner’s religious objections to gay people doing things like getting married and forming long term commitments to one another.
Friday’s order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer says Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver will face fines if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes for their wedding celebrations.
It started out simply enough:
In July of 2012, the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple who were planning to celebrate with friends and family the marriage they had received in Massachusetts. The couple, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, filed a complaint, and the Colorado Attorney General proceeded to do the same, and Friday, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert Spencer ruled against Jack Phillips, the owner of the bakery.
The ACLU’s argument is very straightforward:
“While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No one is asking Masterpiece’s owner to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple.”
In these cases, the courts, businesses and individuals are struggling to distinguish between religious and commercial activity.
Apparently, Southern Republicans governors have no shame.
When the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act was struck down on June 26, 2013, the Pentagon ordered same-sex spouses to be treated the same as the spouses of heterosexual US service members. The National Guards in the states mentioned above refused to issue ID cards to the spouses of gay service members, arguing that anti-”gay marriage” laws in the states forbade them from doing so.
These National Guard units are directly defying orders from the Secretary of Defense. But it gets more interesting:
You see, there’s a little known fact that the National Guard, while split in its administration between the states and the federal government, tends to get the lion’s share of its funding from the feds.
Take Mississippi (please). The Mississippi National Guard annual report for fiscal year 2011 shows that the state of Mississippi appropriated almost $7.8 million for the state National Guard. In that same year, the federal government gave the Mississippi National Guard $679 million. In 2012, the figures were similar: $685 million from the feds, $7.2 million from the state of Mississippi.
In other words, Mississippi gets nearly 99% of the budget of its state National Guard from Secretary Hagel, the guy they’re now saying they don’t need.
The folks in South Carolina, who have never been on the right side of any civil issue in American history decided:
. . . by telling the feds, in essence, that if they want blacks swimming in South Carolina pools, South Carolina will simply shut down the pools altogether, so no one can swim in them. South Carolina is now refusing to issue an ID to anyone, requiring all National Guard families, straight and gay, to go to federal facilities, which are not always nearby. No word yet on whether South Carolina is going to balk at providing federal marriage benefits to gay couples.
The governor Oklahoma liked that approach so much, she took it a step further:
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced earlier this month that state-owned National Guard facilities will no longer allow any married couples to apply for spousal benefits, regardless of whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act means that servicemembers with same-sex spouses are now eligible for federal benefits. Fallin’s unusual tactic is designed to avoid having to recognize those couples, which she asserts would violate Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman . . .
Oklahoma is not alone in defying Hagel’s orders. The Texas Military Force acknowledged this week that it will not allow same-sex couples to apply for a housing allowance at state-run National Guard facilities, having already turned away at least one couple. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia have also refused to comply, but some states that previously had balked have begun complying, like West Virginia. A total of 29 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, but most are complying with the federal recognition for purposes of the National Guard.
It’s pretty simple. The Secretary of Defense has authority over the National Guard. The Federal Governments funds the national guard. The actions of these states is nothing more than hostility to gay and lesbian folk.
At Americablog, Becca Morn documents the ways in which the American religious right is aiding and abetting the spread of anti-gay attitudes around the world. The strategy is one with which American activists are familiar – create and publish a scientifically questionable study, but market it as scientifically valid (or just distort legitimate research), spread it far and wide and sit back and wait. Read the rest of this entry »
The news stories coming out of Russia are depressing and heart-breaking.
John Aravosis at Americablog has been all over it. First, Russia adopted a draconian anti-gay law.
It is now literally illegal in Russia to say that you are gay. It is illegal to kiss your partner in public – say, after you win a gold medal. It is illegal for a gay athlete to wear the rainbow flag. Or even to acknowledge during an interview that they are gay – or for the foreign press to acknowledge it – unless they mention that gay sexual orientation in a negative way . . .
Then there’s the seemingly officially-sanctioned violence against gay, bisexual and trans people in Russia. It’s been made clear for years now that Russian government will turn a blind eye towards anti-gay violence, and many have alleged that the Russian government is actually behind such violence. Will gay Olympic athletes and gay Olympic fans be targeted for violence while in Russia? No one knows.
In recent weeks, the situation in Russia has taken a turn for the horrific. Buzzfeed published a series of photos of anti-gay violence in Russia. Then the story broke about Russian neo-nazi skinheads arranging dates with gay teens then beating, abusing, and torturing them.
Oddly enough their idea of fighting pedophiles targets exclusively male teenagers who respond to the same-sex personal ads and show up for a date. Captured victims are bullied and often tortured while being recorded on video. These self-proclaimed “crime fighters” perform their actions under the broad day light, often outside and clearly visible to general public that indifferently passes by or even commend them. Video recordings of bullying and tortures are freely distributed on the Internet in order to out LGBT teens to their respective schools, parents and friends. Many victims were driven to suicides, the rest are deeply traumatized.
In an interview with the NY Times, Harvey Fierstein said:
Mr. Putin’s campaign against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain taken straight from the Nazi playbook. Can we allow this war against human rights to go unanswered? Although Mr. Putin may think he can control his creation, history proves he cannot: his condemnations are permission to commit violence against gays and lesbians. In May a young gay man was murdered in the city of Volgograd. He was beaten, his body violated with beer bottles, his clothing set on fire, his head crushed with a rock. This is most likely just the beginning….
The Winter Olympics will be in Russia next year. The IOC’s response has been pathetic. They claim they’ve received assurances that glbt athletes and tourists visiting the games will be safe. I’m sure the skinhead thugs are going to check who’s Russian and who’s not before they fag-bash.
Russia seems to be sliding backwards into the Dark Ages. I don’t think this is going to end well.
With Ender’s Game coming to a movie theatre near you, there’s been controversy about author Orson Scott Card’s homophobia in the past. Card issued a pathetic plea for “tolerance” of his views.
Harvey Fierstein’s response may be the last word:
I think that you can have any opinion you want, but at least be willing to take the consequences of your opinion. It’s like, “Well, I hope that people will be more understanding,” or what did he say? “More tolerant of my views.” The quotes that got me about him weren’t against gay marriage — he wanted homosexuality criminalized in the United States. That’s what he called for. You want me to be tolerant of you wanting to criminalize homosexuality? Fuck you on your grave, you piece of shit.
The Religious Right isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Since the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions, right wing commentators have gone in two distinct directions – some commentators have doubled down on their anti-gay rhetoric, while other commentators have plead for “tolerance” for their views about marriage. That second group is essentially asking for detente – “you won so be nice to us.”
Is detente between the gay community and the religious right even possible?
An interesting commentary from Rachel Maddow about the divergent impact on civil rights of the Court’s Prop 8/DOMA and Voting Rights Act decisions.
She makes an interesting point – that the battles over civil rights – both marriage equality and voting access – are going to take place primarily in red states.
It’s probably less a matter of great minds thinking alike than “some things are so obvious even I can’t miss them,” but Alvin McEwan at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters published a post yesterday morning commenting on the same topic I was working on but not quite ready to publish – namely opponents of marriage equality are trying to turn the debate from one of policy into one about their supposed or lack of bigotry toward gay people. As Alvin observed, people opposed to marriage equality use the “You’re accusing me of being a bigot I’m not a bigot” line as a cynical ploy:
I don’t worry about the so-called bigotry of marriage equality opponents because I am bothered by their deliberate evasiveness. Let’s be honest. Their whine about being unfairly cast as bigots is a cynical dodge. It’s a game many of them play to distract us from a real issue of marriage equality.
This week CNN aired a remarkable moment – following the Supreme Court decision on Prop 8 and DOMA – Anderson Cooper, Andrew Sullivan and Evan Wolfson, three out gay men, talking about the importance of marriage. The clip starts with a boring minute of Jeffrey Toobin, so bear with it.
It’s amazing really – three gay men talking about marriage and dignity and love. Sullivan can barely contain himself, it’s moving. It’s one of those rare times when you can look at him and think, sure he’s usually a total wanker but on this issue, on gay issues, he’s actually pretty good.
I saw a man carrying a sign this week – “Today we are more American.” That’s the shorter version of what these three man are saying. This week, gay and lesbian folks became more American.
So, crazy day for me so limited posting but tons of commentary on the Court’s decisions so here’s a link farm:
Justice Antonin Scalia filed a scathing dissent in which he called Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion “rootless and shifting,” “confusing,” and “perplexing.”
He also said that it consists of “nonspecific hand-waving,” and that it demonstrates “real cheek.”
Kennedy’s opinion in Windsor does not create any constitutional right to marriage, so the slow slog through the states to establish marriage equality is still required.
After six years of litigation, today the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in the states, and dismissed the Prop. 8 case on procedural grounds. Because California’s governor and attorney general declined to defend the law’s constitutionality in court, supporters of the measure took up the task; the Justices found they did not have the proper “standing” to do so. Practically, the decision finding the measure unconstitutional stands, but it applies only to California.
Prop 8 plaintiffs take call from President Obama, aboard Air Force One, offering his congratulations. We shouldn’t forget that the President came around for us and helped immensely on this. It didn’t hurt that he stopped defending DOMA, and it certainly didn’t hurt that he came out for marriage equality. Yeah, it took a while. It often does on our issues with everyone. :) But as someone once said, if we want people to support us, we shouldn’t criticize them once they do.
I’d like to thank Sheriff Ben Wolfinger for his role in making Utah look much smarter and much less nutty than Idaho. Sheriff Wolfinger is unhappy with the decision by BSA to permit openly gay scouts.
The Kootenai County Sheriff said Friday that he is compelled to drop the department’s Boy Scouts of America charter because the organization is promoting a lifestyle that is against state law.
“It would be inappropriate for the sheriff’s office to sponsor an organization that is promoting a lifestyle that is in violation of state law,” Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said.
Sodomy is against the law in Idaho, he added.
Except it’s not:
Idaho’s sodomy law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2003, as a result of the Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102 (U.S. June 26, 2003). Idaho sodomy law applied to both heterosexual and same-sex partners as a “crime against nature,” punishable by imprisonment in state prison for not less than five years.Idaho Code §§ 18-6605 (2001); 18-6606 (2001). The sodomy law did not apply to married heterosexual couples. The Idaho Court of Appeals in Idaho v. Holden, 890 P.2d 341 (Idaho Ct. App. 1995), held that “Idaho’s statute prohibiting the infamous crime against nature may not be constitutionally enforced to prohibit private consensual marital conduct.”
So the Sheriff doesn’t know the law he’s supposed to enforce. And we also need to have a discussion with him about his bigotry. (Thanks to John at Americablog for catching this one.)