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Archives – January, 2012

A birthday wish

By Adam Bink

It’s my birthday today (one year closer to 30, which many consider age 80 in gay male years). Normally I take today off, but today I’m working… and running.

That’s because I decided for my New Year’s resolution to run the Los Angeles Marathon in March with Team Courage Campaign, not just to fulfill a goal but to help make LGBT people equal everywhere. So that means there’s two finish lines — the one at the 26.2 mile marker, and the one I’m writing to ask you for help with today!

For a birthday present, P8TTers, I’d be honored if you’d sponsor me for the 2012 Los Angeles Marathon to help support the work our members do every day to achieve LGBT equality.

As of this post, I’m over halfway (59%) to my $2,000 fundraising sponsorship goal. With your small sponsorship contribution, I can reach it!

What will your sponsorship support? First of all, this site. Many of the dollars we raise go to support P8TT — that means writing, tech support, site management, and adding new features. Your sponsorship will also support videos like that of Ed and Derence’s to help educate the public on Prop 8 and DOMA. It’ll fuel our 2012 program phone calls and door knocks to swing voters in states facing marriage equality fights at the ballot this year, including North Carolina, Maine and Minnesota. It’ll help support our work to educate the public on what the Defense of Marriage Act is and why it has to go — work that has delivered fruits as more and more co-sponsors in Congress support the Respect for Marriage act, and poll numbers move in our favor. Finally, your sponsorship will help train thousands of grassroots organizers to fight for LGBT equality through our acclaimed Camp Courage program. Even $10 would help me get to the finish line!

You’ll be entered for a great Crowdrise prize. You’ll help make the world better for LGBT people (and those who love them). You’ll help make today a great birthday 🙂 Lastly, it would really mean the world to me to get to the finish line in March with your support.

Please, consider a sponsorship to help Team Courage get to the finish line and make the world more equal for LGBT people.

Thanks for your support, P8TT!

Update: Thanks to everyone who chipped in!

9 Comments January 25, 2012

NH House panel considers ‘license to discriminate’ bill

By Jacob Combs

The New Hampshire legislature may be holding off on voting to repeal the state’s marriage equality law, but that doesn’t mean their schedule is entirely anti-gay free.  Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee considered a new bill, HB 1264, that has become known as the “license to discriminate bill.”  From the Eagle-Tribune:

The bill would put an exemption in state marriage law. The proposed text says no person, including a business owner or employee, should be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for wedding services in “violation of the person’s conscience or religious faith.”

Proponents of the bill say they are worried clergy could be forced to officiate same-sex marriages against their will.  Opponents, on the other hand, argue that religious officials are already protected under the New Hampshire marriage law and the federal constitution.  They believe the bill has a different aim: to open the door for anyone, including business and individuals, to cite their religious views in denying services to same-sex couples.

This is familiar ground for marriage equality advocates.  Last summer, the religious exemptions in New York’s marriage equality bill were crucial in garnering Republican support to pass the measure.  The civil union bill passed last year in Rhode Island contained religious exemptions that were so broad (and could provide for such blatant discrimination) that it was condemned by many LGBT organizations.  Only a few couples have entered into civil unions in the state.

Passage of the New Hampshire bill is unlikely–it is, in a way, even more radical than the overarching repeal bill.  And, as ThinkProgress points out, there’s another wrinkle:

Given the bill doesn’t even specify “same-sex” marriage, it would hypothetically protect the right of “conscience” to discriminate against any kind of marriage, including interracial, binational, and interdenominational couples. For this reason, it’s likely this bill would be preempted by the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, among other nondiscrimination statutes.

24 Comments January 25, 2012

Breaking: NJ Senate committee approves marriage equality bill, Christie says issue should be decided by voters

By Jacob Combs

We just received an email from Steven Goldstein, head of Garden State Equality, with the news that the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the state’s marriage equality bill on an 8-4 vote.  One senator, Paul Sarlo (D), who voted no on a similar bill in 2009 voted yes today.

Still, with marriage equality moving forward in New Jersey, there are more obstacles ahead, and one of those obstacles is Governor Chris Christie.  In the last few weeks, Christie has made some unexpected moves, including nominating the first openly gay judge to the state’s Supreme Court and seemingly stepping back from his earlier promises to veto a marriage equality bill should it come to his desk.

Today, it looks like Christie has changed his mind: he announced after a town hall in Bridgewater that he would veto the bill and pressed the legislature to send the issue to voters instead by putting it on the ballot in November as a constitutional amendment.

Christie’s move throws a wrench into the legislature’s plans to pass the marriage equality bill, which began today with a hearing in the state Senate.  Still, his idea for a popular vote on the issue would require a new numbers game in the legislature, where a three-fifths would be required to send the issue to the ballot.  In laying down his challenge, Christie makes it unlikely for Democrats to support such an amendment.

69 Comments January 24, 2012

Minnesota appeals court rules that state DOMA trial was improperly dismissed

By Jacob Combs

Almost two years ago, three couples filed a suit in Minnesota arguing the state’s ‘mini-DOMA’ violated their constitutional rights and seeking to overturn a 1971 state Supreme Court decision, Baker v. Nelson, ruling that Minnesota law prohibited marriages for same-sex couples.  A district court judge, Mary DuFresne, dismissed their lawsuit in March, holding that the 40-year old decision still prohibited marriage equality, and writing that until that ruling was overturned, “Same-sex marriage will not exist in this state.”

Today, however, a state appellate court overturned DuFresne’s decision on procedural grounds, arguing that she improperly relied on Baker. The appeals court, in its unpublished opinion (meaning it cannot be cited as precedent) implicitly cited Justice O’Connor’s concurring opinion in Lawrence v. Texas in its ruling, writing, “the Supreme Court has provided guidance since Baker indicating that moral disapproval of a class because of sexual orientation cannot be a legitimate government purpose that equal protection requires.”  Because of this, the court remanded the case to the district course, ruling that the plaintiffs should have the chance to argue how their rights may have been violated.

Minnesota is one of the battleground states for marriage equality in 2012, with a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage set to be included on the ballot.  Marriage equality opponents point to the case as evidence for the need for such an amendment.  Proponents, meanwhile, worry that the case could end up at the conservative Minnesota Supreme Court with a ruling affirming Baker and setting LGBT rights back in the state.  Intervening Supreme Court decisions, however, including Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans, make it more difficult to argue that the legal issues present in Baker are still controlling ones today.  Either way, there are certain to be a number of wrinkles for marriage equality in Minnesota moving forward.

7 Comments January 24, 2012

Maryland governor introduces marriage equality bill

By Jacob Combs

On the heels of today’s big announcement out of Washington, marriage equality is also moving forward in Maryland, with Governor Martin O’Malley introducing a bill at tonight’s evening legislative session to legalize gay marriage in the state.  The Baltimore Sun reports that O’Malley’s staff worked throughout the day to fine-tune the religious protections language in the bill, which the governor said in a briefing would make the bill “a little clearer” and, he hopes, ensure that it enjoys “additional support” in comparison with a similar bill that failed last year.  From the Sun’s article:

The language provided Monday night made a few key changes, according to Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for O’Malley. She said the bill extended legal protections to leaders of religious groups, while last year’s bill shielded only institutions.

The bill also makes clear that religious leaders, not the state, control theological doctrine, Guillory said. And it further limits any punitive actions — like denying government funds — that the state could take against religious organizations for failing to perform same-sex marriages.

Tomorrow morning, O’Malley will host a breakfast with LGBT advocates and members of the religious community to discuss his bill.  This is the strongest show of support the governor has given marriage equality so far; last year, he said he would sign a bill legalizing gay marriage should it pass the legislature, but did not include it in his own legislative package.

A Senate hearing on the bill will take place on January 31.  In the House, two committees will consider the bill: the Judiciary Committee and the Health and Government Affairs Committee.

25 Comments January 23, 2012

Report: Votes exist in Washington State Legislature to enact marriage equality

By Adam Bink

With the statement of State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, it appears the 25 votes necessary in the State Senate to enact marriage equality exist. Votes in the State House are there and Gov. Gregoire has stated that she would sign the measure (which may be considered for a voter referendum). Sen. Haugen’s statement:

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen statement on Senate Bill 6239 to allow same-sex marriage, issued after today’s hearing:

“For several weeks now, I have heard from the people of my district. They’ve shared what’s in their hearts and minds.

“I have received many letters, emails, phone calls, very heartfelt, from both sides of the issue. I’ve also received a number of very negative comments from both sides.

“For some people, this is a simple issue. I envy them. It has not been simple or easy for me.

“To some degree, this is generational. Years ago I took exception to my parents’ beliefs on certain social issues, and today my children take exception to some of mine. Times change, even if it makes us uncomfortable. I think we should all be uncomfortable sometime. None of us knows everything, and it’s important to have our beliefs questioned. Only one being in this world is omniscient, and it’s not me.

“I have very strong Christian beliefs, and personally I have always said when I accepted the Lord, I became more tolerant of others. I stopped judging people and try to live by the Golden Rule. This is part of my decision. I do not believe it is my role to judge others, regardless of my personal beliefs. It’s not always easy to do that. For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. That is what I believe, to this day.

“But this issue isn’t about just what I believe. It’s about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It’s about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.
“For as long as I have been alive, living in my country has been about having the freedom to live according to our own personal and religious beliefs, and having people respect that freedom.

“Not everyone will agree with my position. I understand and respect that. I also trust that people will remember that we need to respect each other’s beliefs. All of us enjoy the benefits of being Americans, but none of us holds a monopoly on what it means to be an American. Ours is truly a big tent, and while the tent may grow and shrink according to the political winds of the day, it should never shrink when it comes to our rights as individuals.

“Do I respect people who feel differently? Do I not feel they should have the right to do as they want? My beliefs dictate who I am and how I live, but I don’t see where my believing marriage is between a man and a woman gives me the right to decide that for everyone else.

“I’ve weighed many factors in arriving at this decision, and one of them was erased when the legislation heard today included an amendment to clearly provide for the rights of a church to choose not to marry a couple if that marriage contradicts the church’s view of its teachings. That’s important, and it helped shape my decision.

“My preference would be to put this issue on the ballot and give all Washingtonians the opportunity to wrestle with this issue, to search their hearts as I have, and to make the choice for themselves. But I do not know that there are the votes to put it to a ballot measure. So, forced to make a choice, my choice is to allow all men and women in our state to enjoy the same privileges that are so important in my life. I will vote in favor of marriage equality.

“I know this announcement makes me the so-called 25th vote, the vote that ensures passage. That’s neither here nor there. If I were the first or the seventh or the 28th vote, my position would not be any different. I happen to be the 25th because I insisted on taking this much time to hear from my constituents and to sort it out for myself, to reconcile my religious beliefs with my beliefs as an American, as a legislator, and as a wife and mother who cannot deny to others the joys and benefits I enjoy.

“This is the right vote and it is the vote I will cast when this measure comes to the floor.”

30 Comments January 23, 2012

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