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Following Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s veto of a bill aimed at allowing businesses and service providers to refuse to serve LGBT people, it’s time for those of us pushing back on efforts to misuse religious liberty as a license to discriminate to realize that the momentum is on our side.
First, some background. As marriage for same-sex couples becomes a reality in more states, the go-to “Plan B” for opponents of LGBT equality has been to support measures that purport to protect religious liberty, but really exist to give a license to discriminate against LGBT people. In this distortion of religious liberty, a failure to provide employers and service providers with special rights to break non-discrimination laws somehow represents an attack on religious freedom.
This strategy is not new or unique to LGBT people. It is something that opponents of civil rights — for African-Americans, women, and others — have repeatedly turned to throughout history, particularly when it becomes clear they can no longer defeat, outright, the underlying civil rights gains of a particular movement. These efforts become a way to undermine and rollback gains, creating a kind of “Swiss cheese” equality. Sure the rights exist, but with a lot of holes.
You Gays Blame Christians for Your Own Pain
So says the Focus on the Family’s Stuart Shepard, explaing that gays are so emotionally tormented that they lash out at the poor “Christians” like himself who have done absolutely nothing to deserve such treatment. Nothing except constantly belittle, persecute, and attack the LGBT community at every turn.
Gays in Drag Made Putin Invade Crimea
American Family Association radio host Kevin McCullough says the gays are to blame for the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Because there was a drag show on a US military base in Okinawa, and everyone knows gays are weak and so Putin now knows the US is week. Or something like that. Hey, logic never was these guys’ strongest suit.
George Washington Would Totally Hate Sodomites Getting Married
Dr. Steve Hotze, president of Conservative Republicans of Texas, has a direct channel to the will of the Founding Fathers, apparently – he knows they would hate “sodomite marriage”. Somehow I think they might hate the way the religious right has hijacked the Republican Party even more.
Here’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!
Africa: Some people in Africa are starting to speak up against the continent’s new anti gay laws. full story
Cameroon: Four lesbians have been arrested and imprisoned in the African country. full story
Ireland: The Irish Government says it “would not be appropriate” to cut aid to Uganda over the country’s harsh new anti gay law. full story
UK, Northern Ireland: A long-delayed consultation on LGBT rights is set to launch next week. full story
Uganda: Uganda’s Ambassador Christopher Onyanga Aparr, speaking at the UN, claimed the country’s harsh new anti gay law is all about protecting children. full story
UK: Half of UK men think gay men shouldn’t be allowed to adopt. full story
USA: The HRC Foundation just released a new report on LGBT legislation state by state. full story
USA: The IRS has posted a video with tax tips for married same sex couples. full story
USA: Republicans at CPAC seem to mostly be ignoring LGBT issues this year. full story
USA: It looks like the US has been giving money directly to the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, a group pushing for the newly-signed anti gay law there. full story
USA, Kansas: The Senate has once again shelved any action on a proposed Right to Discriminate bill, this time until at least next year. full story
USA, Massachusetts: St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers just backtracked on a deal that would have allowed an LGBT group to march in the parade for the first time. full story
USA, Mississippi: Gay rights groups are taking the fight for LGBT rights to Mississippi. full story
USA, New Jersey: Lambda Legal is urging the 3rd circuit to uphold the state’s new ban on gay conversion therapy for minors. full story
USA, Utah: The Anti-Defamation League filed a brief in favor of marriage equality in Utah with the 10th circuit. full story
USA, Utah/Oklahoma: Three states with marriage equality – Minnesota, New Jersey, and Hawaii – have not filed briefs in the cases before the 10th Circuit. full story
USA, Washington: Mark Zmuda, the former Eastside Catholic High School vice principal fired for marrying his same-sex partner, is suing over his termination. full story
USA, Washington DC: Our old friends NOM are at CPAC. full story
USA, Wyoming: SDGLN profiles the couples behind the new marriage equality lawsuit in the state. full story
LGBTQ Nation reports:
A second lawsuit has been filed challenging Florida’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, this time in federal court. FloridaJacksonville attorneys Bill Shepard and Samuel Jacobson filed the suit in U.S. District in Tallahassee last Friday on behlaf of James Domer Brenner and Charles Dean Jones, a same-sex couple married in Canada in 2009 and seeking to have their marriage recognized in their home state of Florida. Brenner works for the Florida Forest Service and Jones for the state’s Department of Education. The couple resides in Tallahassee.
These lawsuits are popping up at a rate of almost one a day now. How long before we reach the US Supreme Court again?
Things ended with a bang. LGBTQ Nation reports:
Douglas Allen, a Canadian economist who has researched 60 same-sex parenting studies during a 15-year period, warned that Michigan should uphold its ban on same-sex marriage because there “is no evidence on the child outcome issue.” But it was Allen’s personal views on homosexuality that emerged following a question from plaintiffs’ attorney Ken Mogill, reported the Detroit Free Press.
“Is it accurate that you believe the consequence of engaging in homosexual acts is a separation from God and eternal damnation?” Mogill asked the state’s expert, then added, “in other words, they’re going to hell.” “Without repentance, yes,” answered Allen.
His personal anti-gay views aside, his testimony was just plain crazy. Among his contentions:
Girls raised by two gay men are only 15 percent as likely to graduate from high school compared to girls raised a mother and father.
I’m sorry, but in what world does having two gay dads reduce your chances of graduating High School by 85%?
Closing arguments will be held tomorrow.
Virginia’s House of Delegates on Thursday unanimously passed in a 100 to 0 vote a bill that would eliminate the state’s unconstitutional ban on sodomy that criminalized oral and anal sex since 1950, ThinkProgress reports. Previously approved by the Virginia state Senate in a similar unanimous vote, the bill now awaits Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s signature or veto.
The statute in question, Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature law, technically should have been made defunct after the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas which found that the state could not infringe on the rights of adult individuals to have consensual sex. However, many Republican legislators in Virginia, including former gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, fought to keep it in place. The sodomy ban was battered in the courts and the Supreme Court made sure to keep clear of the case.
Another victory in Virginia – amazing that the vote was 100 to 0. Now, Virginia really is for lovers.
Yet another Illinois county has already issued a marriage license to a same sex couple.
The Morris Daily Herald reports:
Grundy County joined a handful of counties in Illinois allowing same-sex marriages before the law becomes official June 1. Last Thursday, the Grundy County Clerk and recorder’s office issued the county’s first same-sex marriage license to a couple who were previously united through a civil union. Grundy County is able to issue the licenses four months in advance because of a ruling handed down from a federal district court. The federal judge ruled in favor of allowing Cook County to issue same-sex marriage licenses before the June 1 start date, Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland said.
That makes seven: Cass, Champagne, Cook, Grundy, Macon, McLean, and St. Clair, with Lake and Jackson counties considering it.
Image via the US census
LGBTQ Nation reports:
Two more counties say they will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples before the state’s new marriage equality law takes effect on June 1. St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook and Cass County Clerk Michael Kirchner say they will start accepting applications immediately. That’s after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan advised that counties don’t have to wait until June. Madigan’s guidance was in response to a question about the scope of a federal court ruling that found Illinois’ original ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.
And one of our readers, Emily, reports:
“I called the Jackson County courthouse yesterday and the woman I spoke to said they were waiting on the software to be installed and “some documents from the State” (whatever that means); but they would be issuing same sex licenses as soon as these things were in place. I was happily surprised to hear this response from our small town filled county.”
So that’s six counties for sure, and maybe eight if you include Lake County (which is seeking further clarification from AG Madigan before proceeding) and Jackson County.
Map via US Census
Yes, I have to keep pinching myself. For the longest time, in my marriage equality stump speech from the 1990s, I would end by citing Hannah Arendt’s classic case for ending the anti-miscegenation laws:
Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs.
What I was trying to do was to get (at that point) mainly gay people to see how the denial of the right to marry was effectively a nullification of the Declaration of Independence for gay Americans. The right of gay people to marry was more profound in truth and in law than the right of gay people to vote. “So why aren’t you fighting for it?” I’d declare. Until they did. Getting straight people to see this was actually easier over the years (tell a straight person he doesn’t have the right to marry the woman he loves and you’ll get some powerful pushback).