Tagged: gay rights

Pope suggests reforms making Catholic Church more liberal than Republican Party

A panel of high-ranking Catholic officials has proposed a dramatic change in the way the church treats gays and lesbians. The group of Cardinals, known as a synod, suggested the church is capable of “valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine.”

The Cardinals stopped well short of endorsing gay marriage, stating “unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman.” But they also acknowledged, in a section called “Welcoming homosexual persons,” there “are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.” The Cardinals also suggest that same-sex couples should never be discriminated against in ways that could impact their children…

The new language is reflective of more inclusive thinking by Pope Francis on homosexuality. Earlier this year, Pope Francis may have hinted at support for civil unions for same-sex couples. Speaking specifically about gay priests last year, Francis said, “Who am I to judge [homosexual priests] if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem… they’re our brothers…”

Several of the world’s Catholic countries — including Argentina and Brazil — have begun to embrace gay marriage.

Unsurprising, the Catholic equivalent of Protestant fundamentalist ideologues have their knickers in a bunch over how this is progressing. As far as they’re concerned, the Church ended The Inquisition way too soon. Meanwhile, the Pope seems to be acting like his names’ source more and more.

Watch this space. Maybe we’ll see priests back in civil rights marches, again – along with the nuns who never left.

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Civil Rights continue to grow – Republicans continue to fail


Marriage freedom selfies, a new day in Idaho, NevadaJIM URQUHART/REUTERS

Legal momentum for extending U.S. marriage rights to same-sex couples accelerated on Tuesday as a federal appeals court struck down bans on gay matrimony in Idaho and Nevada a day after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand similar rulings for five other states.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the bans in Idaho and Nevada violated the constitution and cannot be enforced, adding to a growing list of states where same-sex unions are now legal.

The 9th Circuit move puts the United States on track for legal gay marriage in 35 states, as rulings by the court are binding on all states in its region including three others that do not permit gay marriage, Arizona, Montana and Alaska…

Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, whose state withdrew its opposition to gay marriage earlier this year, said he respected the ruling, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada welcomed it warmly…

By contrast, Idaho Republican Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said blah, blah, blah…

County clerks’ offices in big cities in Idaho and Nevada said they were reviewing the ruling and waiting for formal direction before issuing licenses.

Diana Alba, clerk of Nevada’s Clark County, said her office had been preparing for weeks, including changing the forms for marriage licenses so they use gender-neutral pronouns, employing “party one” and “party two” instead of “bride” and “groom.”

When we get the green light, we’re ready,” Alba said…

Click the link above to read the complete article. It finishes with a state-by-state update on further challenges to the last few states dragging their feet. Still afraid to enter the 21st Century.

Republican commitment to Christian sharia law illustrates what a dead end that party has become. They haven’t a conservative viewpoint to offer. They only whine “NO”, beat their holier-than-thou bosoms and hope there are enough old white folks left to keep them in office – picking plums off the tree of corporate lobbyists.

In this occasional land of the free, there are plenty of old white folks like me who were willing to stand up for our Black brothers and sisters in the 1950′s. We’re still here and perfectly able to smack Democrats on the butt to get them to join up with progressive women, minorities, young people. Speak out, march to the polls and shove foot-dragging bigots out of the way.

It may not be quick enough to satisfy this short time each of us has to tread on this Earth – but, the need for freedom shall prevail.

UPDATE: Idaho governor apparently whined loud and hard enough to nudge Justice Kennedy into ordering a temporary stay of the order allowing same-sex marriages. Shouldn’t be long before the appellate court can review the plea. Sanity will return.

SCOTUS hides from civil rights — refuses to rule on gay marriage

The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for an immediate expansion of same-sex marriage by unexpectedly and tersely turning away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. The court’s order effectively makes gay marriage legal now in 30 states.

Without comment, the justices brought to an end delays in same-sex marriages in five states- Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin…

Couples in six other states – Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming – should be able to get married in short order. Those states would be bound by the same appellate rulings that were put on hold pending the Supreme Court’s review.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, called on the high court to “finish the job.” Wolfson said the court’s “delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places.”

Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an opponent of same-sex marriage, said blah, blah, blah!

James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union said he believes the court will quickly take up a case if an appeals court upholds state bans.

It takes just four of the nine justices to vote to hear a case, but it takes a majority of at least five for an eventual ruling. Monday’s opaque order did not indicate how the justices voted on whether to hear the appeals.

Most important, the SCOTUS non-ruling lets all the Circuit rulings overturning homophobic state law stand – and extends it automatically to the other states within each circuit. Otherwise, the Supreme Court is as adept as Congress or the White House at avoiding the demonstration of leadership on any critical question.

We are an obedient nation led by cowards.

Pic of the Day

gay-marriage-pennsylvania
Click to enlargeReutersDelma and Peg Welch

A federal district judge has struck down a ban on same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania, giving American gay rights campaigners their third judiciary victory in just a week.

“We hold that Pennsylvania’s marriage laws violate both the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14h Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said Judge John Jones in a 39-page ruling.

Overdue. Welcome.

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


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.

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

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…

Continue reading

SCOTUS finally strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

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.

Prominent Republicans sign on to supporting gay marriage

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.

Italy’s Court of Cassation rules for gay adoption rights

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.

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

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.