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An Historic Marriage Equality Anniversary

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Rainbow Supreme Court

Today is the one year anniversary of the Windsor and Prop 8 decisions from the US Supreme Court, as well as the 11 year anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas case.

And they were all very close calls, a fact that’s easy to forget now, looking back.

Keen News Service reports:

Kennedy’s words in both Lawrence and Windsor have been repeated in numerous court decisions since. And the powerful influence of words and decisions has almost obscured the fact that they were narrow victories.

In Lawrence, Kennedy wrote for just five of the six justices who considered sodomy laws to be unconstitutional; while Justice Sandra Day O’Connor provided a sixth vote in concurrence with the judgment, she did not join Kennedy’s opinion to the extent that it overruled the 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick (which had upheld state sodomy laws). O’Connor said she would simply strike Texas’ law on equal protection grounds. (“Moral disapproval of this group, like a bare desire to harm the group, is an interest that is insufficient to satisfy rational basis review under the Equal Protection Clause.”)

In Windsor, Kennedy wrote for just five justices. One of those five, Elena Kagan, had been on the bench for only two and a half years and apparently had to recuse herself from a similar DOMA challenge that had reached the high court sooner because she likely discussed it while serving as Solicitor General. If the court had taken that first case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the court likely would have rendered a tie vote and DOMA would still be in effect in most states.

Over at Time, Stuart Armstrong II looks at the impact the DOMA ruling had on LGBT finances:

The Supreme Court’s ruling last year on the Defense of Marriage Act has had a momentous impact on financial planning for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples. But the momentous impact has little to do with the case at issue. The focus of the landmark case, United States v. Windsor, was an estate tax issue. Given that it takes millions of dollars in assets to trigger federal estate taxes, hardly any Americans are subject to them. Yet the decision allowing for federal recognition of same-sex marriages has a major influence on the day-to-day financial lives of LGBT couples — not just the high-net-worth ones — affecting everything from income taxes to Social Security benefits.

And James Esseks at The Advocate looks at Windsor’s other effects:

…with a year’s hindsight, it’s clear that Windsor signaled more than just the end of DOMA, it also propelled us on an accelerated journey toward the freedom to marry nationwide.

In just the last year, Windsor has helped create incredible momentum for the freedom to marry:

- We’ve won six new marriage states since June 2013, bringing us to 19 states plus Washington, D.C., where gay couples can marry.

- Now 44 percent of the country lives in a freedom-to-marry state, up from 18 percent just a year ago.

- Polls show a clear majority nationwide supports marriage for same-sex couples.

- We’ve won 21 court rulings for marriage since Windsor, including two just yesterday (one from a federal appeals court covering Utah and another from a federal trial court in Indiana), and we’ve lost an incredible record on a “culture war” issue in the courts.

- There are now over 80 marriage equality cases pending in state and federal courts across the country, including in every state that doesn’t allow same-sex couples to marry and in seven federal appeals courts.

So happy birthday, US vs. Windsor – and we hope we’ll have a lot more to celebrate when you turn two.

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The Case Against 8 Premieres Tonight

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The Case Against 8HBO’s documentary “The Case Against 8″ premiers tonight on HBO. The documentary covers the legal fight against Prop 8, and some have accused the documentary of being too one-sided.

HBO’s been on a bit of a gay tear lately, withBehind the Candelabra, The Normal Heart, and now this show.

Here’s the trailer:

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Marriage Equality Round-Up 6/23/14

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Gay Wedding - HandsHere’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!

Russia: A new poll says Russians would rather see nudity in public than transgender people. full story

UK: The new head of the Football Association’s discrimination panel says homophobia is unacceptable. full story

USA: Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is urging the GOP to give up its focus on social issues, including gay marriage, in order to win elections. full story

USA, Florida: The Sun-Sentinel takes a look at the status of the marriage equality fight in the state. full story

USA, Indiana: Opponents of a proposed constitutional ban outspent supporters 2-1. full story

USA, South Carolina: Several Presbyterian churches in the state have indicated they will not try to leave the denomination over the Church’s acceptance of marriage equality. full story

USA, California: The Case Against 8 Trailer Released

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Prop 8 OverThe new trailer for the Case Against 8 has been released.

Dot 429 reports:

“The Case Against 8″ takes an inside look at the groundbreaking Supreme Court case that overturned Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Five years in the making, with exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the powerhouse legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies, who previously faced off as opposing counsel in Bush v. Gore, along with the four plaintiffs in the suit, the film provides a definitive account of the battle that effectively ended marriage discrimination in California.

See the trailer here.

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Prop 8 Defense Lawyer Evolving on Marriage Equality

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Prop 8 OverThe lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in favor of upholding California’s ban on gay marriage learned while he was handling the case that one of his children is gay and now is helping her plan her wedding with another woman. Attorney Charles Cooper says his view of same-sex marriage is evolving after having argued in court that gay unions could undermine marriages between a man and a woman.

The revelation is an unexpected footnote in the years-long debate over Proposition 8, the California measure struck down by the Supreme Court last year. It is also offers a glimpse, through the eyes of one family, of the country’s rapidly shifting opinions of gay marriage, with most public polls now showing majorities in favor of allowing the unions.

Cooper learned that his stepdaughter Ashley was gay as the Proposition 8 case wound its way through appellate court, according to a forthcoming book about the lengthy legal battle. And with the Supreme Court ruling now behind him, Cooper cast his personal opinion on gay marriage as an evolving process.

Authored By Julie Pace – See the Full Story at Edge Boston

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What Should We Do With the “Yes on 8″ Donors?

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Prop 8 OverI know that in 33 states, workers can still be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. I remember the days after the Prop. 8 vote, misting up at random times when I remembered that a majority of my neighbors took away my right to marry. So I hope you’ll forgive the twinge of happiness I felt when Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned over his $1,000 donation to “Yes on Prop. 8.”

Seriously, I hope you’ll forgive me. Because I wouldn’t wanted to be fired or asked to resign six years from now for a less than generous opinion that wouldn’t affect my ability to do my job. Unless I was the public face of an organization that couldn’t handle my views. Then it’s OK. I guess. Maybe.

I’ve read columns and reporting on both sides of the Eich resignation, and my main conclusion is that it is complicated. Let’s start with what’s simple.

Eich technically resigned, but reporting on the events, including his statements, suggest that it wasn’t entirely his idea. As the First Amendment prevents the government, not private companies, from impinging on free speech, there’s little doubt Mozilla could have fired him had they needed to.

Authored By Joel Trambley – See the Full Story at LGBT Weekly

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Opposing View: Was Mozilla Flap Counter-Productive to Gay Rights?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Firefox - MozillaYesterday, we featured Kos’s column on the Brendan Eich resignation. Today we’ll let Andrew Sullivan argue the opposing view.


Thank you for the hundreds and hundreds of emails about the Mozilla- Eich affair. My readers overwhelmingly disagree with me for a host of reasons. But I have to say that this time, the more I have mulled this over, the more convinced I am that my initial response to this is absolutely the right one. And not just the right one, but a vital one to defend at this juncture in the gay rights movement.

So let me concede all of the opposing arguments that have been deployed to defend the public shaming and resignation of Brendan Eich. To recap those points: This was not the “gay left” as such, but the “techie straight left” more broadly. Sure (I’ve been to San Francisco.) He wasn’t fired; he resigned. Undisputed. Mozilla is not your usual company. Obviously not. Being CEO is different than being just a regular employee and requires another standard. Sure. It doesn’t matter because we’re all marching toward victory anyway. Well, probably. This was a function of market forces and the First Amendment. You won’t get me to disagree about that.

So why am I more convinced that what just happened still matters, and matters a lot? I think it’s because these arguments avoid the core, ugly truth of what happened. Brendan Eich was regarded as someone whose political beliefs and activities rendered him unsuitable for his job. In California, if an employer had fired an employee for these reasons, he would be breaking the law:

1102. No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.

Now Eich was not in that precise position. He resigned as CEO under duress because of his political beliefs. The letter of the law was not broken. But what about the spirit of the law?


Editor’s note: I have to say, we’re conflicted over these types of cases – on the one hand sure, no one should be “punished” for what they believe. But on the other hand, I have to wonder if the outrage on Eich’s behalf would have been the same if he had donated to a referendum to strip marriage rights from mixed-race couples. Is it still ok, on some level, to show a public bias against gays and lesbians in a way that it’s not to openly show the same bias towards other races?

In any case, we believe that LGBT rights activists should try to be the adults in the room and show the other side a civility that’s often not accorded to us.

Authored By Andrew Sullivan – See the Full Story at The Dish

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Brendan Eich Was a Victim of Market Forces

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Firefox - MozillaBrendan Eich is a tech legend, the inventor of Javascript–a programming language that powers much of what’s cool on the web. He is also a bigot, a donor to California’s successful Prop 8 effort in 2008 to enshrine hate in the state constitution by banning same-sex marriage.

Last week he was named as CEO of the Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit organization best known for the Firefox browser. It is an organization in turmoil, as the mobile revolution makes desktop computers increasingly irrelevant, and with that, Mozilla’s core product.

The problem with Eich is that, well, he’s a bigot. And worse than that, he hasn’t “evolved” since 2008, like so much of America. He held steadfast to his beliefs, out-of-step with the world his product serves. So the Mozilla community erupted in anger, and after a half-assed effort to hang on, Eich resigned the position. So of course, you have people screaming about “persecution” from the usual conservative suspects to contrarians like Andrew Sullivan.

Authored By Markos “Kos” Moulitsas- See the Full Story at the Daily Kos

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Silicon Valley’s Prop 8 Donations By Company

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Nate Silver Silicon Valley Prop 8 Graph

In the wake of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich’s departure, gay uber statistician Nate Silver breaks down how Silicon Valley donated its money in the Prop 8 initiative race. Note: This is only a breakdown of the individuals who donated to either side of the Prop 8 initiative in Silicon Valley and who noted their company, not how the companies themselves donated.

Joe.My.God reports:

The list includes Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Cisco Systems, Apple, Google, Sun Microsystems, eBay, Oracle, Yahoo, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Symantec. I limited the search to donors who listed California as their location. In total between these 11 companies, 83 percent of employee donations were in opposition to Proposition 8. So Eich was in a 17 percent minority relative to the top companies in Silicon Valley. However, there was quite a bit of variation from business to business. At Intel, 60 percent of employee donations were in support of Proposition 8. By contrast, at Apple, 94 percent of employee donations were made in opposition to Proposition 8. The opposition was even higher at Google, where 96 percent of employee donations were against it, including $100,000 from co-founder Sergey Brin. There isn’t much data on Mozilla. Only four Proposition 8 donors listed it as their employer: Eich, who donated in support of the measure, and three others who opposed it.

It’s interesting to see the different corporate cultures reflected in these donation patterns.

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USA: Mozilla CEO Resigns in Prop 8 Donation Controversy

Friday, April 4th, 2014

The new CEO of Mozilla has resigned after it was revealed that he had donated to the backers of Prop 8.

Firefox - MozillaABC news reports:

“I have decided to resign as CEO effective today, and leave Mozilla,” Eich said in a statement provided by Mozilla. “Our mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader. I will be taking time before I decide what to do next.” Eich was previously chief technology officer of the company, but had been involved in Mozilla’s development starting from its conception in 1998. The previous acting CEO Jay Sullivan had left the company to pursue “new opportunities,” the company said.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’m torn over it – on the one hand, it’s sad to see someone who is opposed to marriage equality running a progressive tech company. On the the other hand, have we just created another martyr for the religious right? He did step down, and was not fired, but such distinctions are often lost on our opponents.

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