Nel's New Day

November 7, 2014

Obamacare, Marriage Equality at Risk

The voters—or lack of them—have done their damage to the federal legislative branch, and the Supreme Court has decided to see what disaster they can wreak. Today, at least four justices decided to take on a review of King v. Burwell, a case similar to Halbig v. Burwell. Because of sloppy drafting, the ACA law was left with contradictory statements after two chambers agreed on the changes. One provision limits subsidies to “an exchange established by the state,” but the law allows the federal government to run exchanges in states that do not have them. If the Supreme Court were to rule in the former terminology, at least 5 million people would see the cost of their insurance to skyrocket above what they could afford, disenfranchising them in the same way that people lost the right to vote in the most recent election.

ACA states that when a state doesn’t set up its own marketplace, the federal government “shall establish and operate such exchange.” The IRS issued a regulation allowing subsidies whether the exchange is run by a state or by the federal government. A few months ago, however, a conservative three-judge panel from the D.C. Circuit ruled in Halbig that the Obama Administration had rewritten the law and that Congress never intended to allow subsidies to people on a federal exchange.


On the same day, the 4th Circuit Court ruled in King in favor of a federal exchange. Judge Roger Gregory ruled that the law is ambiguous and therefore “applying deference to the IRS’s determination . . . we uphold the rule as a permissible exercise of the agency’s discretion. His precedent is a 1984 Supreme Court ruling in favor of Chevron giving agencies great deference in interpretations of laws. More recently, the Court ruled in Arlington v. FCC that agencies could define their own jurisdiction.


The D.C. Circuit decision is not final: Halbig is on en banc review with all the judges in that specific appeals court with argument set for December. Reversing the original ruling would leave no split in the circuit courts, yet the Supreme Court decided to take on the case before a lower-court ruling was made.


As Brian Beutler wrote in the New Republic, the four justices taking the case have changed a court into a death panel for people in 36 states. Their potential to void health care subsidies in three dozen states would cripple the insurance market and kill people who couldn’t afford insurance. Placing the onus on red states for health care would be worse than the current situation in which these states refuse to allow the federal government to provide Medicaid for most of the poor residents.


Many articles about the problem, particularly ones from conservative writers, broadly quote Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, as an expert who opposes ACA. Adler, who has tie-ins with the Heartland and Cato Institutes, is making a name for himself with the inconsistencies he discovered in the drafting of ACA. Case Western Reserve law school is ranked 64th in the nation.


The Supreme Court is also likely to address the issue of marriage equality after the 6th Circuit Court determined that Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee can continue to ban same-sex marriage. The court waited three months after arguments to release its opinion. Earlier this year, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had said that the high court would probably not hear any marriage equality cases unless a split on decisions from the circuit courts creates “some urgency” to resolve a circuit split. Now the 6th Circuit has done exactly that.


The panel striking down same-sex marriage included Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a former law clerk to Scalia and a George W. Bush appointee. Adler described another judge on the panel, Deborah Cook, as “not likely to recognize a constitutional right that the Supreme Court has not yet recognized.” In arguments Sutton called any problems caused by banning gays and lesbians from being married—such as not being able to get drivers’ licenses or adopt children—as an “inconvenience.” Only senior Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey seemed supportive of constitutional rights for LGBT people who cannot be legally married in the state where they live.


The panel ruled that same-sex couples can neither be married in its jurisdiction nor be considered married if they wed in a state where marriage equality is legal. It used the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding a state ban on same-sex marriage in the 42-year-old case, Baker v. Nelson (1972) and rejected any reasoning in other federal court rulings that struck down state bans. Sutton claimed that the rational foundations are to regulate sex between men and women to establish stable family relationships. Neither judge could find any hostility toward gays and lesbians in denying them the same marriage rights as heterosexuals have. The solution to marriage equality, according to Sutton’s opinion, is for gay rights advocates to achieve “greater acceptance” so that people will legalize it.


In his analysis of Sutton’s ruling, Mark Joseph Stern wrote:


“Instead of analyzing the 14th Amendment’s dual guarantees of liberty and equal protection, he simply states that gay people have no business fighting for their civil rights in court. After a while, Sutton’s repeated insistence that it’s not a federal judge’s duty to enforce the constitution makes you want to grab him by the shoulders and ask, then what in the world were you hired for?”


Stern described Daughtrey’s dissension as “a scorching, bitterly funny, profoundly humane excoriation of Sutton’s sophistry.” In her opening, she writes:


“The author of the majority opinion has drafted what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy. But as an appellate court decision, it wholly fails to grapple with the relevant constitutional question in this appeal. … Instead, the majority sets up a false premise—that the question before us is “who should decide?”—and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism. In point of fact, the real issue before us concerns what is at stake in these six cases for the individual plaintiffs and their children, and what should be done about it. Because I reject the majority’s resolution of these questions based on its invocation of vox populi and its reverence for ‘proceeding with caution’ (otherwise known as the ‘wait and see’ approach), I dissent.”


She continues by objection to Sutton’s opinion because he fails to view “the plaintiffs as persons” and instead perceives them as “mere abstractions” with no concern for the plaintiffs’ children. According to Daughtrey, the children of gays and lesbians are punished by the parents’ inferior status thrust on them by law from an irrational animus simply because they are gays and lesbians. Such a situation violates the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.


In conclusion, she wrote:


“More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office … I solemnly swore to ‘administer justice without respect to persons,’ to ‘do equal right to the poor and to the rich,’ and to ‘faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me … under the Constitution and laws of the United States.’ If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams.”


Even the conservative Washington Post found Sutton’s arguments to be “weak” and worse.


Rights for same-sex couples did advance in two states this week. On Tuesday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from the Kansas attorney general to stop same-sex marriages because doing so violated the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.  Kansas is appealing to the Supreme Court through Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In Missouri, U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith struck down that state’s marriage ban but delayed his ruling pending appeals to either the 8th Circuit Court or the Supreme Court.

Smith wrote:


“There is no hardship in requiring that public officials adhere to the Constitution, and the public interest is always served when the Constitution is obeyed.”


Despite the delay, same-sex couples began getting licenses and married in St. Louis.


Before the Supreme Court decided Windsor v. United States, it was estimated that about 130,000 same-sex couples were married in the United States in a little over half the number of states that now have legalized marriage equality. That number must have doubled or tripled by now although no one is keeping statistics. If the Supreme Court rules that the people can decide to take away this right, many of these marriages could be dissolved because most of the 34 states recognizing same-sex marriage have done so through judicial or legislative action. These people will join the 7 million disenfranchised voters and the 5 million people losing health insurance. Such is the power of the “high court.”

October 30, 2014

Apple’s Cook, Openly Gay

Filed under: LGBTQ Issues — trp2011 @ 7:45 PM
Tags: , ,

When Tim Cook officially came out as gay this morning, he became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Rumors of his sexual identity had been swirling, but Cook clarified it in an essay in Bloomberg Business Week. It ranks high as a gracious acknowledgement of an important part of his private life. This is his essay:

“Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.

“At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” ’ I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.

“For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

“Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

“The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.

“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.

“I’ll admit that this wasn’t an easy choice. Privacy remains important to me, and I’d like to hold on to a small amount of it. I’ve made Apple my life’s work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be. That’s what our employees deserve—and our customers, developers, shareholders, and supplier partners deserve it, too. Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender. I’m an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things. I hope that people will respect my desire to focus on the things I’m best suited for and the work that brings me joy.

“The company I am so fortunate to lead has long advocated for human rights and equality for all. We’ve taken a strong stand in support of a workplace equality bill before Congress, just as we stood for marriage equality in our home state of California. And we spoke up in Arizona when that state’s legislature passed a discriminatory bill targeting the gay community. We’ll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up.

“When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.”

Many powerful people responded to Cook’s essay, calling him inspirational (Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella and Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson ) and courageous (Mark Zuckerberg). On CNBC, former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the first person in Congress to come out as gay, said:

“When the man who has been the leader for several years with great success of one of the most important … businesses in America, says, ‘Oh by the way, you know those people about whom you have these negative feelings, well I’m one of them.’ That does such an enormous amount to diminish the negative feelings. I am very grateful for him doing it.”

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), both homophobic and heterosexual evidently by choice, said:

“Those are his personal choices. I’ll tell you, I love my iPhone. Listen, Tim Cook makes his personal decisions, and that is his life.”

Other than Cruz’ comment and a bit of whining from far-right fundamentalist Christian leaders, the conservatives pretty much ignored Cook’s statements. Apple’s stock went down 0.6 percent recently, not a big homophobic reaction. People like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) haven’t called for a boycott of Apple. Maybe conservatives can’t protest when they’re wedded to their iPhone.

We’ll wait to see if Cook has started a trend toward personal honesty. And what the GOP will do now that it’s caught between big money and controlling far-right Christians.

October 19, 2014

Vatican Shifts Left, Backtracks to Right

Pope Francis  seemed to lead the Catholic Church away from the former narrow bigotry last week when an assembly of Roman Catholic bishops called for the church to welcome and accept LGBT people, unmarried couples and divorced individuals as well as the children of these families. In past interviews, the pope has criticized his own church for putting moral doctrines above serving the poor and marginalized and said that the church is “obsessed” with gays, abortion, and birth control. His move was a moved to the Second Vatican Council convened over a half-century ago which brought great changes in church liturgy, relations with other faiths, and the roles of priests and laypeople.

A Vatican official said the church should “respect the dignity” of every person, and a 12-page report stated that pastors should recognize that there are “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation.” LGBT people have “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” and some gay and lesbian couples provide each other “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice” and “precious support in the life of the partners,” according to the report.

The report led to discussion and modification by bishops within the next week with a final report issued for worldwide discussion. Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert with the Italian newsmagazine L’espresso, said that the “progressives” who want change in the church “are in positions of strength, put there by Pope Francis.” The Rev. James Martin, editor at large of the Jesuit magazine America, that “even though this is an interim document, it represents a revolution in the way the church speaks about our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

That was all last week. Now the Vatican has released another statement that removed welcoming language toward LGBT people from the message after Timothy Dolan, New York City’s homophobic archbishop cardinal, vowed that he would fight with fellow conservative Catholics against the language until it was taken out of the document. On CBS This Morning, Dolan gave this message:

“All of this is almost like antipasto to help the holy father arrive at a fresh new way to teach the timeless teaching on marriage and family…I know there is remarkable unanimity and enthusiasm in backing the holy father’s attempt to present the teachings of the church in fresh, exciting and engaging new ways, but there might be some good, deep discussion on the way that is being expressed.”

Instead of the subtitle “Welcoming homosexual persons,” the document, formally known as the Relatio of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, uses these words, “The pastoral care of people with homosexual orientation.” The new language:

“55. Some families live the experience of having members who are of homosexual orientation. In this regard, questions have been raised on pastoral care which is appropriate to deal with this situation by referring to what the Church teaches: ‘There is no basis whatsoever to assimilate or to draw even remote analogies between same-sex unions and the plan of God for marriage and the family.’ Nevertheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. ‘In their regard should be avoided every sign of unjust discrimination. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons , 4).

“56. It is totally unacceptable that the Pastors of the Church pressures in this matter and that international bodies condition financial aid to poor countries, on the institution of laws that establish the ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex.”

All the following has disappeared:

“50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

“51. The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

“52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.”

Gone is any respect. No “mutual aid” among couples. And certainly no indication of accepting “civil unions.”

The elders of the Catholic Church, a description aptly fitting the older men who lead the religion, are in direct contrast to 85 percent of young Catholics in the U.S. who express support for gays and lesbians.

Acceptance of those who have divorced and remarried also got knocked out of the report because of lack of votes.

Despite the loss of acceptance for the pope’s report, he managed to demote U.S. anti-LGBT Cardinal Raymond Burke to a figurehead position as the Patron of the Knights of Malta which works among the sick. Almost a year ago, the pope dropped Burke from an important Vatican bureau. As the head of the Roman Catholic Church’s version of the U.S. Supreme Court, he had been the second most-powerful man in the Vatican.

Burke recently said that legally-married gay and lesbian family members should be shunned from family celebrations during the upcoming holidays, asking “what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?” As a member of the Congregation of Bishops, Burke had led the group in such controversial positions as moving Salvatore Cordileone, the church’s leader in California’s Prop 8 movement that reversed marriage equality in the state, to San Francisco. Burke also wants the Latin Mass and prefers the clerical clothing popular before Vatican II in the 1960s modernized the Catholic Church.

Francis has also replaced outspoken Chicago Cardinal Francis George with Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane (WA). Although Cupich opposes same-sex marriage, he rejected attempts “to incite hostility towards homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity.” In a pastoral letter that was read in all Catholic parishes in the diocese, he wrote, “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

The most telling parts of the changes in the Vatican report is that they are only in English. The other versions stay the same.

October 17, 2014

White Privilege in the U.S.

Bill O’Reilly appeared on Jon Stewart this week in an attempt to get people to buy the latest book in his killing series, Killing Patton. The book got short shrift in the discussion, however, as Stewart said all he wanted from O’Reilly was an admission that white privilege exists. O’Reilly denied that it existed and then moved on to say that Asian privilege exists in the country because they make more money than other groups. Then he admitted that slavery and Jim Crow were bad, but “that was then, this was now.” Unfortunately, Stewart didn’t ask O’Reilly about the Jim Crow voting laws passed within the past few years.

Stewart explained that far more blacks are disproportionately arrested and imprisoned for drugs although whites use drugs in far higher numbers. O’Reilly agreed and then said, “America is now a place where if you work hard, get educated and are an honest person, you can succeed.”

o'reilly Stewart said, “You are carrying more of a burden as a black person in this country than a white person in this country.” O’Reilly responded, “Collectively, yes,” O’Reilly responded. “But not –”

“Individually,” Stewart said, completing the thought. “They don’t stop and frisk Wall Street bankers, even though they’ve done far more damage to the economy.” Not letting up on the pressure, Stewart got O’Reilly to admit that white privilege—racism—is “a factor.”

Dialog about “white privilege” came front and center after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO) opened a discussion. As black men tried to explain the problems caused by their color, many white men declared that they had no prejudice and didn’t understand why blacks thought that bigotry existed. The privileged cannot understand the concept of entitlement because the advantages are largely unacknowledged and thus invisible. Peggy McIntosh, a women’s-studies scholar at Wellesley, wrote an amazing essay in the 1980s in which she listed 49 areas of entitlement:

  1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
  2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
  3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
  4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
  5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
  6. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
  7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
  8. If I want, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
  9. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
  10. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
  11. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
  12. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
  13. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
  14. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
  15. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.
  16. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
  17. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
  18. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
  19. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
  20. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
  21. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
  22. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
  23. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.
  24. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.
  25. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
  26. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
  27. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.
  28. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.
  29. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
  30. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.
  31. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.
  32. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
  33. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
  34. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
  35. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.
  36. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
  37. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
  38. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
  39. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
  40. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
  41. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.
  42. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.
  43. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.
  44. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.
  45. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.
  46. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.
  47. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.
  48. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.
  49. I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

McIntosh’s list was published over 25 years ago. Two years ago, Ernestine Hayes added to the list.

  1. Beauty, handsomeness, masculinity and femininity are personified by people who do not look like me.
  2. Authority most often rests in people who do not look like me.
  3. My children and grandchildren are taught by white teachers.
  4. People who are not of my culture are acknowledged experts of my culture.
  5. People appropriate my identity and profit from describing their versions of my experience.
  6. My children and grandchildren are likely to drop out of school.
  7. My children and grandchildren are likely to be victims of violence.
  8. My children and grandchildren are likely to suffer from tuberculosis, alcoholism, diabetes, incarceration and poverty.

After the publicity of police brutality since Michael Brown’s killing, I’ll add one more:

I can be stopped by the police without the fear that they will steal my money, beat me up, or kill me.

October 11, 2014

Marriage Equality on Coming Out Day 2014

October is LGBT History Month, and today is the 26th anniversary of Coming Out Day, the internationally recognized day of awareness and celebration of people coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. Thanks to all the brave people willing to openly declare their sexual preference and gender identity, LGBT rights has progressed more rapidly in the past decade than any other social issue. This past week, marriage equality rights have exploded throughout the nation after the Supreme Court refused to take any of the marriage equality cases brought to them from Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah. That brought the total of states with legalized same-sex marriage to 24. Below are judicial decisions as of midday on October 11. Legalized same-sex marriage changes hour-by-hour, and some of this information can be outdated.

Because each circuit court can set a precedent for all the states within its jurisdiction, all the other states within the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuit Courts benefit from the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the five cases from these courts. Those six states are Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. That action would bring the total to 30 states recognized same-sex marriage.

The 9th Circuit Court legalized marriage in Nevada and Idaho after the Supreme Court’s decision. Idaho’s administration plans to file briefs with the 9th Circuit to ask for a full hearing from the 10 panel court. The Supreme Court turned down the state’s appeal after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy briefly blocked same-sex marriage in Idaho until he changed his mind a day later. Yesterday’s 9th Circuit Court ruling about Hawaii ended a pending appeal on same-sex marriage by declaring it moot. That would make the grand total of states where same-sex couples might get legally get married to 35. Lawsuits are pending in the district’s states of Alaska, Arizona, and Montana.

In Arizona, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick ordered the parties in the Arizona same-sex marriage cases before him in the U.S. District Court for Arizona to submit their briefs by October 16. He has issued an order stating that the 9th Circuit Court ruling on Nevada and Idaho also applies to Arizona.

The 6th Circuit Court has not ruled after early August arguments although two of the three judges were leaning against marriage equality. Federal judges in this circuit court region struck down bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

The conservative 5th Circuit will hear a case later this year after a federal judge in New Orleans upheld the ban in Louisiana although a state judge ruled against the state law. In the same district, Mississippi had refused to divorce a lesbian couple because the state does not recognize their marriage. In Texas, on the other hand, a federal judge invalidated the state’s ban in February. The couple wants the case settled before their second child is born so that they can get married. If either the 5th or 6th Circuit Court rules in favor of banning marriage equality, the Supreme Court may feel it has to step in.

In the 8th Circuit, a state court judge invalidated the Arkansas ban, and one in Missouri overturned part of the ban, requiring state officials to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Nebraska’s Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the state’s ban on procedural reason. Cases from North and South Dakota are pending in federal courts.

In the 11th Circuit, both Alabama and Georgia have cases pending in federal court, and a Florida appeals court was asked to delay a ruling until after the Supreme Court had decided.


As with other Supreme Court rulings, some states tend to drag their heels and refuse to change state laws to conform to these decisions. Colorado is already issuing marriage licenses, and Virginia is speedily preparing to do the same. On the other hand, Utah has claimed that it cannot implement same-sex marriage until the state’s marriage laws are re-written.

South Carolina, impacted by the 4th Circuit’s ruling against bans in its district, said that it will keep the bans in force until the courts rule specifically on South Carolina’s law. The 4th Circuit is expected to soon issue a mandate. In the meantime, a clerk in Charleston (SC) accepted a marriage license application by Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley, making the state’s only out lawmaker and her partner among the first to receive a marriage license in the Palmetto State.

GOP Govs. Sam Brownback (Kansas) and Matt Meade (Wyoming) agree with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in refusing to allow same-sex weddings. A Kansas state judge, however, ordered the Johnson County Clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Judge Kevin Moriarty’s order on Wednesday was to “provide guidance and prevent confusion” and said that “any case from Kansas … would be bound by the Tenth Circuit decision.” Kansas law also sanctions clerks and judges who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and Moriarty declared that “our district court clerks and judges are entitled to protection from laws that are unconstitutional.” Citizens should be free, he wrote, “to exercise their constitutional rights” and officials should likewise be “free of any ambiguity or inconsistency in the administration of justice, including the issuance of marriage licenses.” Confusion still reigns, thanks to the state Supreme Court, which stopped marriage licenses for same-sex couples after one couple was able to obtain one. A hearing in that court is set for Nov. 6.

In North Carolina, U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen Jr. gave Attorney General Roy Cooper and attorneys representing same-sex couples until 3 p.m. Monday to respond to requests by state legislative leaders to intervene. Earlier this year, Cooper, a Democrat, announced that his office would no longer defend North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriages after a federal circuit court found a similar ban in Virginia was unconstitutional. In North Carolina’s Western District, however, U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. issued an order late Friday afternoon striking down the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, and Wake County offices stayed open late last night. Same-sex couples are marrying in North Carolina, and more county clerks will issue marriage license to same-sex couples—unless, of course, another ruling comes along.

As of today, the number of marriage equality states officially reached 29 after same-sex couples began marrying in both Nevada and West Virginia. On Thursday afternoon, WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) said he would no longer defend the ban, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) in turn told state agencies to start the marriage process, using existing marriage license forms until there are variations. Procedural requirements in Nevada needed an injunction from a district court judge, also issued Thursday after a Mormon judge recused himself and was replaced by another judge who issued the injunction.

same sex map better The current status of marriage equality in the United States according to Freedom to Marry:

In 29 states – CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, ID, IA, IL, IN, ME, MD, MA, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, and WI, plus Washington, D.C. – same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.

In an additional six states – AK, AZ, KS, MT, SC, and WY – federal appellate rulings have set a binding precedent in favor of the freedom to marry, meaning the path is cleared for the freedom to marry there.

In an additional 8 states, judges have issued rulings in favor of the freedom to marry, with many of these rulings now stayed as they proceed to appellate courts: In AR, FL, KY, MI, and TX, judges have struck down marriage bans, and in LA, OH, and TN, judges have issued more limited pro-marriage rulings.

In MO, the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states are respected.

Much more information for each state is available here.

In his ruling striking down marriage equality bans in Idaho and Nevada, Judge Stephen Reinhardt referred to decisions mandating racial integrations, women on juries, and gays’ serving in the military when he wrote:

 “The lessons of our constitutional history are clear: inclusion strengthens, rather than weakens, our most important institutions. When same-sex couples are married, just as when opposite-sex couples are married, they serve as models of loving commitment to all.”

The latest argument against banning marriage equality will certainly have the far-right further gnashing their teeth. In an additional concurring opinion to the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling, Judge Marsha Berzon argues that same-sex-marriage bans also constitute sex discrimination and therefore violate Equal Protection on additional grounds. Although this argument has failed in the past, Berzon posits that laws against same-sex couples are based on sex stereotypes of a “real man” and a “real woman.” As ​Alexander Brodsky and Elizabeth Deutsch wrote, “Long before marriage equality was hip, Adrienne Rich spoke of “compulsory heterosexuality”—part of being a good woman is loving men. If courts accept this argument, LGBT rights will go far beyond marriage without the laborious wait for Congress to move into the 21st century. It refuses to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), but Title VII could end job discrimination. The same goes for housing, business services, and the over 1,000 laws discriminating against LGBT people.

All the changes during the past week bode well for the progress of LGBT rights in the United States unless the five conservative Supreme Court judges reverse this forward thinking.

August 27, 2014

Lively Runs for Massachusetts Governor

Little did my partner and I realize what the drastic changes for our lives during the next two decades after we retired from teaching and moved from Arizona to the coast of Oregon. It was 1992, the year of the virulently anti-LGBT Proposition 9 that led to thousands of closeted people in the state coming out in response to the proposed ballot measure. (Note that this wasn’t the only Measure 9: it was followed eight years later by another anti-LGBT measure, ironically numbered Measure 9.)  was the Oregon Citizens Alliance, led by Lon Mabon and Scott Lively. We joined the other LGBT people who came out of the closet because of the outrageous Prop 8 and have had a very different life because of our freedom in Oregon.

Mabon has disappeared, but the 58-year-old Lively has made his mark around the world in the past 22 years. He disappeared from the Oregon scene with his move to California where he founded the Abiding Truth Ministries, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Lively is highly qualified in hatred. He and his believers think that “the gays” are responsible for every problem in history and in the Bible from the Spanish Inquisition and Holocaust to the need for Noah’s ark. According to Lively, God’s anger about wedding songs for gay weddings caused the flood.

In the recent release of his book The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, co-written with Kevin Abrams, Lively wrote that gay people are responsible for Nazi atrocities and accuses gays in the United States currently carrying out the same agenda against Christians in this country.

His hatred went international in 2002 at a conference in Uganda about the connection between homosexuality and pornography. That speech led to others and then to meetings with government officials. Seven years later, Lively was a key speaker in Uganda where he proclaimed that homosexuality caused the Rwandan genocide, Nazism, and AIDS, a justifiable punishment by God. After his impassioned speeches, the Ugandan legislature introduced its infamous “Kill the Gays” bill, downgraded to “Jail the Gays” bill that removed the death penalty. The bill passed but was recently overturned on a technical basis.

On behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the Center for Constitution Rights has filed a federal lawsuit against Scott Lively and Abiding Truth Ministries. The complaint states that he specifically sought out Uganda to further his agenda, knowing that Uganda was fertile ground to “meaningfully provoke and bring about the persecution of the LGBT community.”  It connects his actions to the escalation of anti-gay propaganda and persecution in Uganda. The suit is the first known sexual identity and gender discrimination suit under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which allows foreign victims to sue corporations, governments and individuals for human rights violations.

A year ago, a federal judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Ponsor ruled that the plaintiffs were on solid ground under international and federal law and that First Amendment arguments were “premature.” Ponsor wrote, “[Lively] has allegedly supported and actively participated in worldwide initiatives, with a substantial focus on Uganda, aimed at repressing free expression by LGBTI groups, destroying the organizations that support them, intimidating LGBTI individuals, and even criminalizing the very status of being lesbian or gay.”

Lively’s European came from his organization, Watchmen on the Wall, that he co-founded with a Russian radio host and Latvian pastor. In his 50-city European tour in 2007, Lively declared LGBT rights “as the most dangerous political movement in the world.” Lively is partially responsible for Russia’s anti-LGBT law, causing an increase in anti-LGBT violence and discrimination that Lively blames on the LGBT people themselves. During a radio interview with Bryan Fischer, Lively has taken credit for the Russian law: “I believe I did have something to do with that. I included [these suggestions] in my letter to the Russian people that I published in the very last city of the tour, which was St. Petersburg, and of course, St. Petersburg turns out to be the first city that adopted this law.”

While appearing on religious-right activist Linda Harvey’s “Mission America” radio show, Lively explained that the only LGBT violence in Russia is “gay-on-gay crime.” He said that “the guys that are beating up gays in Russia … are butch homosexuals who are beating up effeminate homosexuals, the same thing that happened in Germany.” In both these situations, Lively has no credible evidence to back up his claims.

Lively also wanted the Russians to adopt the rainbow “as a Russian symbol, a Christian symbol” and said that he met with Russian Orthodox Church’s leadership to present this idea. His idea was that the Russian Olympics could be held under the banner of the rainbow stating “the rainbow belongs to God.” He said:

“It looks like they are going to do that. Get all the pro-family organizations to come along to declare 2014 ‘The Year of God’s Rainbow’ and all of us adopt it—I’m wearing a pin right now that says ‘Reclaim The Rainbow: Ezekiel 1:28’—I think all of us should just start taking the rainbow, putting it on our webpages, wearing it and just take it away from them, it doesn’t belong to them.”

I haven’t noticed that happening.

Six years ago, Lively moved himself and the Ministries to Springfield (MA) where he’s working on his latest goal—running for governor. After talking about running for Massachusetts governor for a few years, Lively has now submitted the necessary 10,000 valid signatures to be an independent candidate for the position. As gubernatorial candidate, Lively has tried to disclaim his involvement with the Ugandan law, but records show that he told reporters that he was “one of the people that helped to start the pro-family movement there. … This was all new to them.” He also said that his campaign against homosexuality was like a “nuclear bomb” against the so-called gay agenda.

Lively has not restricted himself to bashing his description of “the gay agenda.” He said that he “would prosecute abortionists for aggravated first-degree murder if it were in my power to do so.” He believes that the educational Common Core is “Commie Core,” that notions like the DREAM Act are “Marxist,” and that public employee unions are “unconstitutional.”

In his announcement as a candidate, Lively did include condemnation of homosexuality, but he’s also concentrating on changing Massachusetts into a religious state. “They need a leader who will remind the people that Massachusetts was founded upon Jesus Christ and the Bible and that our future security and prosperity depend on restoring our trust in Him. ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!’ Psalm 33:12.:

The candidate knows full well that he has no chance of winning: “My main goal in running for Governor is to advocate Biblical values in the political arena,” he wrote on his website. He does think that “real conservatives” will take back the GOP.

Meanwhile, Democrats are cheering him on. Radical-right votes are sure to go to Lively and away from the mainstream Republican, especially if front-runner, pro-choice Charlie Baker wins the GOP candidacy at the 9/11/14 primary. In 2010, Brian Camenker of MassResistance said:

“Lively is everything that Charlie Baker is not. He is principled, pro-family, pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-2nd-amendment, pro-religion, pro-parents’ rights, and utterly fearless.”

Run, Scott, run!

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