Friday, February 5, 2010

Last post of the week...

Nothing like ending the week with a video clip of a lab doing salsa.  See you Monday!

A minor victory is still a victory (and a number of other sites and publications) is reporting that a proposal to declare same-sex marriages illegal in Maryand has been rejected.  According to the site:

Same-sex marriage is currently not legal in Maryland, but the proposal was considered to be a pre-emptive strike or pro-active measure against the legal opinion of state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler that same-sex marriages which occur in states where they are legal be recognized in Maryland
Burns stated his concern stems from the growing number of nearby states and Washington D.C. who have legalized same-sex marriage and felt it necessary for Maryland to close what he referred to as a legal loophole, which could possibly lead to full legalization of same-sex marriage in the state
However, the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee voted 12-8 to toss the measure which essentially killed the bill.
So for now, at least, if you are an LGBT couple married in one of the few states that will marry you, Maryland will recognize your union.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Just chalk this one up to meanness...or yet another reason why some people call it hate is reporting that Senator Bob Bennet from Utah (left)  is leading eight other senators in a movement to block same-sex marriages in Washington, DC:

Senator Bob Bennett of Utah, a Republican, introduced the bill on Tuesday. It calls to postpone the scheduled effective date of the original bill until voters have a chance to decide on whether or not gay marriage should be legal in Washington, DC. To contact Senator Bennett and express your opinion on the issue, visit his website at
     The original bill was passed by the DC City Council in December and is currently slated to go into effect in March. However, because Washington is a federal district and not a state, Congress has the final say on all laws within its boundaries. The gay marriage bill is currently under a state of congressional review, allowing Senator Bennett to introduce his own plan. A fellow Republican in the House, Representative Jason Chaffetz, has filed similar legislation in the lower branch of Congress.

A similar bill has been written in the House.  But here's the catch: the bills have virtually no chance of even reaching the floor.  The Democratic leadership, who controls the legislative agenda, have promised as much.  This begs the question: Why on earth write these bills?  Is it just a way to say we don't like what you're doing, gay people, so we at least want to make it as unpleasant as we can?

Sounds like pure meanness to me.  And it's another reason why some folks call the anti-marriage equality movement hateful. 

Dan Wasserman Cartoon from the Boston Globe

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Republican Party and DADT

The way some members of the Republican Party have dealt with Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been, to say the least, interesting.  Let's focus on a few of them.

1. Colin Powell.  All right, we don't really know what party he belongs to.  But he was Secretary of State under George Bush.  Powell recently came out for the repeal of DADT.  This is a very good thing.  In his announcement that LGBT people should be able to serve in the military, he said that times have changed.  What I have some difficulty with is knowing that for many of us, times have not changed.  The views of people like Powell have.  There were many, many people telling Powell that his DADT policy in 1993 demeaned a group of Americans.  Remember, Powell was one of the major opponents of LGBT people serving openly.  I am extremely glad that he has changed his mind.  But where's the apology, Mr. Powell?  Where's the acknowledgment that you were wrong?  If and when someone like Mitt Romney recognizes that same-sex couples deserve marriage rights, should we be elated?  Should we be grateful that he has finally seen that equality is an American value?  Or should we also remember that some very brave politicians like Deval Patrick -- Romney successor -- stood on the right side of history and that Mr. Romney wasn't one of them?

2. Senator Jeff Sessions.  After Admiral Mike Mullens movingly testified before a Senate panel on why he thought DADT should be repealed, Senator Jeff Sessions castigated him for expressing his personal views on the subject.  Sessions is from the same party that for years used military leaders' opinions as a basis for opposing LGBT people openly serving.  Joe "You Lie" Wilson has gone so far as to say that even if the military supports the repeal of DADT, he and other members will oppose the repeal.  These are the same folks who have relied on the military support of DADT to explain their own bigotry for years.

3. Senator-Elect Scott Brown.  Once upon a time, Scott Brown was opposed to repealing DADT and vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage.  Now that he's been elected senator from Massachusetts (still a progressive state despite his election), he had modulated a bit.  Actually, he has pretty much relinquished any responsibility for leadership in these areas.  DADT?  Leave it to the military.  Same-sex marriage? Leave to the states.  Sometime soon Senator-elect Brown is going to have to make a serious decision on a social issue.  Then we'll know whether he takes the Mitt Romney route and moves to the right, or represents his home state of Massachusetts.

4. Senator Orin Hatch. Okay.  I admit that I have always had a tiny soft spot for Senator Hatch knowing that he was such a close friend of Ted Kennedy.  Perhaps Kennedy's sense of justice has touched Hatch.  While he refused to take a stand on the repeal of DADT, he made it clear that he at least understood why it is so degrading.  His interview with Andrea Mitchell was confusing, but had glimmers of hope.. Let's hope he comes to some clarity soon.

5. Senator John McCain. Here's a quote from Senator McCain as cited by the Washington Post. 
 ...the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,' then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to.
Well, Senator McCain, that happened at the senate hearings this week.  Why are you still sticking to your DADT guns?

Let me end by citing a new poll taken of Republicans.  Only 24% of Republicans feel LGBT people should serve in the military. This muddies the water even more, doesn't it?

Even scarier?  73% believe LGBT people shouldn't teach children.

Orrin Hatch wants to repeal DADT, or maybe he doesn't, or maybe he does

Just what is Orrin Hatch saying in his muddled response?

One more reason why DODT should cause outrage

On September 11, a group of passengers on TWA flight 93 quite possibly saved the US of an even greater catastrophe: an attack on the Capitol or the White House.  Among those passengers was Mark Bingham (left).  Most accounts of that day agree that Bingham was one of the leaders who tried to break through the cockpit to either take over the plane or keep the hijackers from crashing into the Capitol or the White House.  The passengers were unsuccessful in taking over the plane and landing it safely, but they almost certainly saved the United States from a crisis of governance.  They likely saved the lives of many senators and representatives in Congress.

John McCain spoke at Mark Bingham's memorial service.  He said, "I love my country, and I take pride in serving her. But I cannot say that I love her more or as well as Mark Bingham did."  McCain knew the role Bingham played in saving the country from unthinkable calamity, even beyond what had already occurred on September 11.

Mark Bingham was openly gay.  He was an avid rugby player, and after his death, The Bingham Cup was established to honor the gay rugby team that was victorious over all other gay teams world-wide.

John McCain surely knew Bingham was gay when he eulogized him.  If not, he surely knows it now.

No one cared whether Bingham was gay when he grabbed a drink cart and ran down the aisle of the airplane, intending to bust through the cockpit.  No one cared that right before he boarded the plane, he kissed his lover goodbye at the airport.  No one cared and no one should care.

Bingham is one of thousands of LGBT people who have given up their lives because they believed they were protecting the United States.

That folks like John McCain -- who claims that DADT is working -- can expect people to give up their lives while being forced to deny who they are is, quite simply, outrageous.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Can you answer this question, Mr. McCain?

I'm waiting for someone to ask a question of John McCain and other supporters of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Why do gay people successfully serve openly in the military in the following countries but not ours?

Czech Republic
The Netherlands
New Zealand
The Philippines
South Africa
United Kingdom

Shouldn't even DADT supporters be just a little concerned that so many countries have forged ahead on equality while we still lag behind?

Rachel on the eve of hearings on DADT

A new law regarding gay marriage is pending in California

There is some interesting news in the San Francisco Chronicle.  Here's a summary and an opinion.

A bill is being pushed that would exempt clergy and churches from any legal consequences for denying same-sex marriages to gay couples.  What's interesting is that the major supporters of the  bill are supporters of same-sex marriage.

Politically and (in my opinion) constitutionally it makes sense.  Once a law like this is on the books, it makes it more difficult for anti-equality folks to claim that churches that reject same-sex marriage will be required to perform them.  (Are you listening, Maine?)  It also makes constitutional sense by supporting the notion of the separation of church and state.  The government shouldn't be allowed to tell religious groups what to believe.

Said the bill's author, state senator Mark Leno D-San Francisco (left), "We heard through the Prop. 8 debate great concern from certain clergy that their freedom of religion could be infringed upon and their tax-exempt status revoked. We want to clarify that by putting the constitutional guarantee of the First Amendment, freedom of religion, into statute."

Another benefit from the bill would be that it would highlight the difference between civil and religious marriage by putting the word "civil" in front of references to marriage.  Said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California (right). "There is confusion among many people whether a marriage license is a civil document or a religious document. It's a civil document, and this is putting that in the code so there is no confusion."

Although some religious groups that supported the ban of marriage though Proposition 8, I do wonder if the leaders of these groups would be ready to support same-sex civil marriage.  Said Prop 8 supporter Terry Barone (left), "That certainly would seem to add protections for a clergy member who, for whatever reason, might be hesitant to perform a marriage ceremony." 

What I find fascinating about the bill is that people are talking about gay marriage -- which is not allowed in California because of Prop 8 -- as if it were inevitable.  Why else would people support a move that protected clergy from performing same-sex marriage ceremonies in a state where same sex marriage was unconstitutional?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cute video on the decision to bar cameras from Prop 8 trial

 Some folks at Sundance put this together.  H/T Joe.My.God.

Update from Hawaii

Last week I wrote about the pending civil union legislation in Hawaii.  A bill passed the state senate and was then slated for a vote in the house of representatives to send the measure to the governor.  It was unclear whether or not the governor would veto the bill or not.

Seems like we'll never know.

The house of representatives, which had previously strongly supported the bill, refused to vote on the measure.  What's worse, the vote to put off the vote on civil unions was anonymous: not one representative had to declare his or her position.

And guess what?  This is an election year.   Such cowardice.

How inconvenient that a vote on people's civil rights and the status of their relationships happen to interfere with politicians' need to duck and cover before an election.

What's in a word?

I recently read a piece in a California newspaper about gay marriage.  The writer claimed that she felt many gay marriage opponents were falsely labeled as prejudiced because they objected to the use of the word marriage for same sex couples, not the act of commitment.  In her words:

I have no problem whatsoever with any people of the same sex who want to commit themselves to each other to do so. The issue is, find another word that explains the commitment of two people of the same sex. Marriage means something else — it's a different relationship.

I think every citizen deserves to receive all rights and benefits regardless of their choice of partner, simply find a word that fits your situation.

The question I would like to raise is why don't you want gay people to share that word with you? Why do you want sole ownership of that word?  I question whether or not it is reasonable to accept that there is no prejudice here.  There is enormous variety in the types of marriages in the world. Should second and third marriages have a different name from first marriages?  What about marriages with significant age differences between the spouses?  Should marriages that result in children be labeled differently from those that don't produce children?  What about interracial marriages from marriages of people from the same race?  I think most people would consider it demeaning to rename these marriages.  It is just as demeaning to insist that gay people need a separate word, as if our mere sharing of that word diminishes it.  And isn't that what any civil rights movement is about: insisting that the rights a privileged segment of the population claims to exclusively "own" be made available to other members of society?