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Posts Tagged ‘gay rights

Gay teacher fired from Catholic school — Did you think the new pope changed old bigots?

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Vincent Giannetto and his partner Michael Griffin

A gay teacher says he was fired from his job at a suburban Philadelphia Catholic school after applying for a marriage license with his partner.

Officials at Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem said Michael Griffin, who taught Spanish and French at the private all-boys school until he was fired Friday, had violated his contract when he applied for a marriage license with his same-sex partner in New Jersey.

Today I applied for a marriage license since NJ now has marriage equality,” Griffin posted on his Facebook page. “After 12 years together I was excited to finally be able to marry my partner. Because of that, I was fired from Holy Ghost Preparatory School today. I am an alumnus of the school and have taught there for 12 years. I feel hurt, saddened, betrayed and except for this post, am at a loss for words.”

Griffin said he had sent an email to school administrators informing them of his intentions, not expecting to be terminated given that his relationship had not been a secret among school faculty and staff, WCAU-TV, Philadelphia, reported.

“I’ve been with my partner for more than 12 years, the entire time I’ve been teaching at the school,” Griffin told the TV station. “He’s been to numerous school functions with me…”

The Rev.James McCloskey, the school’s headmaster, confirmed in a statement that Griffin was fired over his application for a same-sex marriage license…”…this decision contradicts the terms of his teaching contract at our school, which requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the church as a condition of their employment.

Of course, if state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court, had the courage to follow our Constitution, they would support the rule that contracts that violate state and federal law aren’t legal and binding.

The crap “tradition” defense is as useless as any other line of bull from bigots. Cripes, I recall passage of the Civil Rights Law freeing up the trade union I belonged to at the time. The national union constitution only allowed the president to be white and male.

Republicans on the Supreme Court are as beholden to the “higher power” of bigotry as today’s Roman Catholic church. Mail me a penny postcard when justice unexpectedly breaks out.

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Written by Ed Campbell

December 10, 2013 at 8:00 am

From Goldman Sachs to Microsoft – corporate support for gay civil rights puts pressure on backwards politicians

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Support for gay marriage by companies as varied as Goldman Sachs, Microsoft and Starbucks is gathering steam to change policies in states that bar same-sex couples from tying the knot.

Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions on June 26 heartened supporters of the cause while showing an increased willingness of business to back the effort. In one case, more than 200 companies signed a brief against a federal law that denied benefits to same-sex couples. Five years ago, only a handful had lobbied against California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages, the target of the high court’s other decision…

State legislators stand to feel the heat as more businesses speak out against laws in states including Texas, Florida and Michigan that recognize only heterosexual marriage. While fewer than half the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 are based in states that allow gays to wed, most already have policies that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“Companies do have the choice where they locate, where they set up shop,” said Kellie McElhaney, founding faculty director of the Center for Responsible Business at the University of California Berkeley. Local policies on sexual orientation “will eventually become part of the choice process…”

Goldman Sachs and Expedia are among businesses gearing up to support a federal bill to prevent workforce discrimination based on sexual orientation. Of Fortune 500 companies, 88 percent include orientation in their nondiscrimination policies and more than 60 percent offer domestic partner health benefits, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Companies moved ahead on providing health benefits for same-sex couples and adopting nondiscrimination rules since the 1990s just as Congress went in the opposite direction to approve the federal government’s rejection of gay marriage in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Now, corporate America is pushing for uniform laws that protect against workplace discrimination, said Edith Hunt, Goldman Sachs’s chief diversity officer…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ed Campbell

July 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

SCOTUS finally strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

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In a breakthrough legal victory, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. In a 5-4 ruling, the court majority said the anti-gay law is discriminatory: “DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.”

The decision was written by Justice Kennedy, who was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan…

First Update: The full ruling is online here (pdf)…

Second Update: From the ruling: DOMA is “unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

Third Update: Pete Williams’ initial read suggests this ruling is “broad” enough that marriage-equality proponents “to attack laws in other states.”

Fourth Update: Some of the reach of the ruling will depend on a deeper analysis of the decision itself, but keep in mind that the end of DOMA will have significant consequences. The Defense Department, for example, ended DADT, but could not apply equal benefits to gay servicemembers because of this law. Now that it’s been struck down, it’s no longer an issue.

Fifth Update: It’s worth clarifying that the DOMA ruling does not extend marriage equality to all 50 states, but rather, as Amy Howe explained on Scotusblog, that “same-sex couples who are legally married will be entitled to equal treatment under federal law– with regard to, for example, income taxes and Social Security benefits.”

Sixth Update: The other major Supreme Court case on gay rights was a challenge to California’s Prop 8. In this case, Chief Justice John Roberts and the court majority punted on procedural grounds, saying the defendants lacked the standing needed to defend the case in court. The full ruling is online here (pdf).

I’ve editorialized elsewhere about the number of times I still get to say, OVERDUE. Our Supreme Court is still essentially a Republican Supreme Court – often dominated by the inherent racism, class loyalty and bigotry of corporate America, tempered slightly by one or another of these four cowards worrying more about what history books will say about him than his buddies at the country club.

The decision is overdue and welcome. Civil rights for all Americans is a vision held by some of the framers of our Constitution who paid the groundwork during our fight to free ourselves from colonial England. Let us all celebrate.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 26, 2013 at 9:00 am

Prominent Republicans sign on to supporting gay marriage

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Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.

The document will be submitted this week to the Supreme Court in support of a suit seeking to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative barring same-sex marriage, and all similar bans. The court will hear back-to-back arguments next month in that case and another pivotal gay rights case that challenges the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The Proposition 8 case already has a powerful conservative supporter: Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general under Mr. Bush and one of the suit’s two lead lawyers. The amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief is being filed with Mr. Olson’s blessing. It argues, as he does, that same-sex marriage promotes family values by allowing children of gay couples to grow up in two-parent homes, and that it advances conservative values of “limited government and maximizing individual freedom.”

…The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers — 75 as of Monday evening — who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who have changed their previous positions…But the presence of so many well-known former officials — including Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, and William Weld and Jane Swift, both former governors of Massachusetts — suggests that once Republicans are out of public life they feel freer to speak out against the party’s official platform, which calls for amending the Constitution to define marriage as “the union of one man and one woman…”

In making an expansive argument that same-sex marriage bans are discriminatory, the brief’s signatories are at odds with the House Republican leadership, which has authorized the expenditure of tax dollars to defend the 1996 marriage law. The law defines marriage in the eyes of the federal government as the union of a man and a woman.

Congressional Republicans still have no qualms about spending taxpayer dollars to support a baseless law. One, in fact, that doesn’t represent the advancing position of the whole nation. That’s criminal compared to moderates who have decided to support a libertarian position on marriage now that they don’t have to run for re-election.

Mind – it’s not that I don’t think progressive Americans should deny their support. Hey, I wouldn’t even mind a Cardinal or two disagreeing with Rome about something as sensible as contraception. It’s just worth a chuckle at the hindsight that seems to appear when the pressure of appeasing the most ignorant and backwards members of a political party is removed.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Italy’s Court of Cassation rules for gay adoption rights

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Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, has ruled homosexuals should be able to adopt children.

The court Friday rejected a claim by a Muslim man in Brescia that his child was being damaged because his former partner is now living with a woman, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. The court called the belief that being brought up by a gay couple is damaging to children “mere prejudice.”

Flavio Romani, president of the group Arcigay, called it a “historic ruling” and said it will allow future governments to enact laws allowing same-sex marriage.

“The Cassation Court today reaffirmed what we’ve been saying for a long time,” Romani said. “Love is what makes children grow, and not the sexual orientation of their parents…”

Politicians across a broad swath from Left to Rightwing [but interested in re-election] said the same.

The Rev. Domenico Sigalini, a Catholic priest speaking for the Italian Episcopal Conference, said courts should not decide on family matters.

Sigalini, of course, is only centuries out of date.

I don’t think anyone interviewed the Pope.

Written by Ed Campbell

January 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Supreme Court to review same-sex marriage as a civil right

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The Supreme Court has seized center stage in a historic social policy debate over same-sex marriage by agreeing to review the validity under the Constitution of a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

In an order, the court also announced that it would consider a challenge to California’s ban on gay marriage, known as Proposition 8, which voters narrowly approved in 2008.

Same-sex marriage is a hot-button issue in a country where 31 of the 50 states have passed constitutional amendments banning it while Washington, D.C., and nine states have legalized it, three of them on Election Day last month.

Yet even where it is legal, married same-sex couples do not qualify for a host of federal benefits because the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, passed by Congress, only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman.

Gays and lesbians married under state laws have filed suits challenging their denial of such benefits as Social Security survivor payments and the right to file joint federal tax returns. They argue the provision, known as Section 3, violates equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

The court could follow the model of some lower courts and rule narrowly…or it could demonstrate the courage of previous courts and come down on the side of equal civil rights for all Americans, recognize a right to marriage equality.

My concerns are obvious, the same experienced by any American confronting the political theater our legal system has become. There is no shortage of bigots and fools who would apply the heart of constitutional freedoms only to a limited number of citizens. Egalitarian law applied to all citizens doesn’t occur to many who base their beliefs on superstition instead of science, privilege instead of equal opportunity.

I have more confidence in the legal flunkies of the Right who sit on the Supreme Court bench being more concerned – for once – with their image and reputation in future legal histories than with bending to the sound and fury of their class. It would be even more pleasing to see them stand up for the spirit of our constitution.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm

French President keeps his promise to fight for gay civil rights

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BTW – President Hollande and Valerie Trierweile aren’t married – they’re partners

French ministers grappled Wednesday with the issue of same-sex marriage and adoption rights as the Cabinet approved a draft bill in the face of fierce resistance from the Roman Catholic Church and social conservatives.

Extending the right to marry and adopt to same-sex couples was one of President Francois Hollande’s electoral pledges in campaigning this year.

The bill is expected to go before the National Assembly and Senate in January, and is likely to be voted on in February or March. If passed, it would mark the biggest step forward for French gay rights advocates in more than a decade…

An opinion poll released Wednesday by polling group Ifop and Le Monde newspaper found 65% of those surveyed support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples — a clear majority of the population…

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Paris, voiced his opposition to the proposed legislation at a meeting of French bishops in Lourdes over the weekend…

Golly gee! There’s a surprise.

Other religious groups in France, including Muslims, Jews and Buddhists, have also expressed their concern over the draft bill, and more than 100 lawmakers are against the legislation…

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said the proposed changes are a matter of justice and equality that reflect the evolving nature of society…

A law legalizing civil unions was introduced in 1999 in France under a previous Socialist government.

Known in France as the PACS (pacte civil de solidarite), the civil union agreement can be entered into by gay or straight couples and confers many but not all of the rights of marriage.

Something the religious conservatives hate to admit is that civil unions are already more popular than marriage. Among other reasons, there is no need for religion to validate anything.

Written by Ed Campbell

November 9, 2012 at 8:00 am

A preacher, Christian fundamentalism and Gay rights

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Please – watch the video all the way through to the end. The good Reverend makes a point about parallel questions in the history of civil rights.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

October 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Scotland’s government to legalise same-sex marriages

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The Scottish government is to introduce new powers to legalise same-sex marriages in churches and in civil ceremonies, despite vigorous and bitter opposition from church leaders.

A draft bill that will enable gay and lesbian couples to marry with the same legal rights as heterosexual couples will be published later this year and is expected to be enacted next year, after Scottish ministers resisted intense pressure from the Catholic church to drop the proposals.

The legislation will include significant new protections and “conscience clauses” for churches and individual clergy who object to gay marriage on religious grounds, said Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy first minister.

She added that opposition to the bill – which included 64% of the 62,000 responses from within Scotland to the Scottish government’s consultation – had not persuaded her to drop or dilute the measures.

“We believe that in a country that aspires to be an equal and tolerant society, as we do in Scotland, then this is the right thing to do,” Sturgeon said…

Sturgeon said she was confident it would be passed comfortably: all the party leaders at Holyrood supported the measure, and a majority of Scottish National party backbenchers did so. The SNP will give their 67 MSPs a free vote.

The Roman Catholic church, backed by senior Muslim organisations and evangelical and presbyterian churches, organised a huge postcard and internet petition campaign against the proposals.

But Sturgeon said detailed responses using the Scottish government’s own online consultation document showed a majority in favour of gay marriage: by 65% to 35% against. Major public opinion polls also showed that most Scottish voters supported same-sex marriage, with about two-thirds of Scots in favour.

A proud day for Scotland indeed. And an object lesson from a government not especially known as being more progressive than conservative – still willing to lead rather than to diddle around with populist opportunism.

May we someday be subject to such bravery in Washington.

Written by Ed Campbell

July 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Indefensible marriage act ruled unconstitutional for the 3rd time

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A federal judge has boosted the campaign for gay marriage by overturning a law which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples.

Claudia Wilken, a district court judge for the northern district of California, ruled on Thursday that congress acted unconstitutionally in discriminating against gay couples in the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA)…

Gay rights campaigners welcomed the ruling. “This adds to the momentum for overturning this radical and discriminatory law,” said Evan Wolfson, of Freedom to Marry, an advocacy group.

Wilken, a Clinton-era appointee based in Oakland, a liberal bastion, was the third federal judge to find Doma unconstitutional following a ruling by judge Joseph Tauro in Massachusetts in 2010 and one by judge Jeffrey White in California earlier this year…

DOMA, which was championed by opponents of gay marriage, defines marriage as “a legal union of a one man and one woman as husband and wife”. It withholds multiple federal benefits, including joint tax filing and immigration sponsorship, from gay couples legally married under state law.

Wilken said gays and lesbians were constitutionally protected from “burdensome legislation that is the product of sheer antigay animus and devoid of any legitimate governmental purpose“…

Wilken also overturned another 1996 law withholding federal tax benefits to long-term health insurance plans for state employees if they included domestic partners.

That, like Doma, was based on “moral condemnation and social disapprobation of same-sex couples,” she said. The judge cited congressional debate transcripts that same-sex domestic partnership was “an attack on the family” and would “undermine the traditional moral values that are the bedrock of this nation”.

Overdue. Of course.

The sort of bigots stuck into denying civil rights to Americans couldn’t care less about the history or value of our Constitution. All that is important to their narrow minds is retaining the sense of privilege their superstition values. Whether they feel “chosen” or “forgiven” is unimportant. All that counts in their petty lives is feeling somehow superior to some other American.

Their peers may choose color or religion or ethnic background as their target. This particular crowd relies on homophobia to justify their fear and hatred. They are all equally invalid and unconstitutional.

Written by Ed Campbell

May 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm

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