Thursday, July 15, 2010

NOM in NH: The Bizarre World of a Theocracy...

The New Jersey-based “National Organization for Marriage,” or NOM, rolled its bus into Manchester NH in order to rally the troops against Marriage Equality and get signatures in support of DOMA. It must have been embarrassing for them that including the out of state contingency they brought on their bus, only about 50 people showed up in the City Hall Plaza. By contrast, those of us who showed up to quietly support NH’s Marriage Equality numbered 40 – with no bus, no campaign, and no organized effort.

I can only describe the hour-long ‘rally’ as bizarre. Even Circus-like.

One of the touted speakers was Dr. Jennifer Morse, who was introduced as a college professor who would address the group on the scientific basis for prohibiting same-sex marriage. She insisted that religious reasons were not necessary, because there were “bold” scientific reasons. My curiosity was piqued!

I was disappointed to say the least. Her ‘scientific’ opinion was that “Heterosexuality is Normal for our Species.”

Huh? That’s it?! Yup.

After a little research I discovered that our Scientific Doctor has a degree in Economics (not science, not sociology, not psychology, not family studies…). She runs the “Ruth Institute,” a NOM-Project, working with church and college youth groups, and the faith-based Acton Institute.

She then informed us of all the horrible things happening in Canada as a result of same-sex Marriage. Three times she referred to the strange land of “KWEE-beck.” Being a Californian, she apparently was unfamiliar with either the English or French pronunciation for the name of our neighboring Province, so she instead made it sound oddly remeniscent of the word “QUEER”.

She concluded by warning us about what lay ahead for the US. Soon, she said, we might have Language Police listening in on (and I kid you not…) the jocular statements made between guys in locker rooms after sporting events to make sure they complied with politically correct speech codes.

Such was the Scientific Approach. Then we were treated to a sermon by Thomas Peetz, the Pastor at the Pentecostal Word of Life Church in Concord. Detecting another out-of-state accent, I checked his church bio to see that he claims to come from “the nation’s heartland,” and studied under Kenneth E Hagin. Yes, the Health & Wealth Televangelist who claims that “It is always God's will that every believer be 'financially blessed' through faith…," and who, apparently, died three times and even went to hell on one of those trips. Pastor Peetz said, “I’d like to read from the Good Book…if I’m allowed to call it that,” in what became a constant, scripted litany for the rally: that religious people were being silenced. He then instructed us all that there is no ‘separation of church and state in the Constitution...that’s just in a letter Jefferson wrote.” He concluded his sermon by imploring the group that “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

I wonder if he realized the irony in that his purpose there today was to “put asunder” my lawful, Church-approved marriage.

NOM’s Director, Brian S. Brown, probably took top prize for bizarre logic today. Towards the end, he waxed eloquently about how Christian leaders throughout history stepped out and championed unpopular causes in the name of civil rights, from William Wilberforce’s fight against slavery to Dr. Martin Luther King’s marches for racial justice. He emphasized how these men were ridiculed even by other churches and by the public, but they fought and expanded decency and civil rights.

He then took a spasmodic leap in irrationality and claimed that these good works could not happen now, because Christians had been ‘silenced.’

Perhaps, being from out of state, he was blind to the logical, appropriate leap he SHOULD have made: that of Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who walked in the very tradition of those other leaders he mentioned in the fight for GLBT civil rights. It was not lost on those of us who live in New Hampshire.

One theme became very clear throughout the hour: no fewer than 16 times did speakers mention “the children,” or the effect of same-sex marriage on “children,” or depriving “children” of a mom and dad, or the primary purpose of marriage being to raise “children. And throughout the rally, Biblical and moral references were rampant…and the desire for a Theologically Appropriate response to Marriage Equality was the blatant, unabashed and constant undercurrent of this group.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Fleur-de-Lis Tattoo (Courtesy, again, of Mom's of Keene, NH)

En solidarite avec les residents et les pecheurs da La Louisianne, qui ont suffert les catastrophes de l'hurricane Katrina et le deversement de l'huile; et pour touts mes Ours-amis Quebecois!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

DOMA, Prop 8 and Appeals: Outcomes and Next Steps

Yesterday's holding by a Federal District Court Judge that DOMA is Unconstitutional is a big step...but not the end. This was a decision issued by a federal judge on a federal law, but only in a "local" (Massachusetts) case. The question remains of how we turn a Federal District Court holding into a national holding. It would be very unusual for the entire federal government to just roll over and say, "OK, we gotta change now, Congress was wrong on this" as a result of a single District Court holding.

In the best of all worlds, the decision would need to be appealed to (and affirmed by) the Appellate level (and maybe moved on certiorari to the Supreme Court) strictly on the 10th Amendement aspect of the holding, to create a national holding. The 10th Amendment specifically grants to the States the right to legislate in those areas not given Federal jurisdiction, and this was the legal basis for yesterday's decision: States, not the Federal Government, are the entities with authority to define Marriage. DOMA attempted to allow the Federal Government to ignore State Marriage laws that recognize same-sex unions.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, another decision looms. California's Proposition 8 overturned same-sex marriage in that state, and the Proposition has been challenged on other federal grounds: this one, however, is not based on "State's Rights," but on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The specific holding of that trial - which could be released any day - may very well provide a second Federal ruling requiring clarification or appeal...which could accelerate the process.

I expect that, if appealed, the two cases would be joined at the Supreme Court.

Back to yesterday's DOMA ruling: This puts Obama in a very difficult position. On one hand, he could decide to support the Massachusetts District Court decision nationwide; this would be highly unusual, maybe even unprecedented. District Court level Judges issue rulings all the time, often contradictory with each other and almost never with national application overnight.

On the other hand, Obama's Justice Department could Appeal the Massachusetts ruling, thus angering the less-than-critically-thinking gay blogosphere that understands that it *won* at the District Court level.

Whatever Obama decides to do, he must articulate his reasoning WELL both publicly and "within" party and GLBT leadership so its clear what is going on.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Federal Court overturns DOMA!

From the Boston Globe:

Judge declares US gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional
July 8, 2010 05:21 PM
By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff

A federal district court judge in Boston today struck down a 1996 federal law that defines marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman, according to the office of state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Judge Joseph L. Tauro, in a 36-page ruling that touched on the history of marriage laws, found that the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates Massachusetts’ right to recognize same-sex unions.

“This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the Commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights, and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status,” Tauro wrote. “The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and, in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment.”

We have argued in this blog strenuously and continuously that the Defense of Marriage Act is a violation of the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution. Family law, and the laws surrounding eligibility for Marriage, have ALWAYS been issues reserved to STATE governments, not the federal government.

Some states permit cousins to marry, while others do not; the federal government has historically and routinely accepted each individual state's declaration of what constitutes a valid marriage, even if that changes from state to state. DOMA was a clear violation of this also meant that legimately married same-sex couples were forced to lie on their Federal Income Tax, were ineligible for federal survivors benefits, and had to pay additional income tax if they places their spouse on their health insurance.

Ironically, conservatives - who normally support 10th Amendment States Rights arguements - ignored this violation....While Liberals - such as the regular posters on blogs such as Joe.My.God...constantly called me a "Tea-Partier" and "Right-Winger" because I used a 10th Amendment arguement against DOMA.

Well, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley made this arguement, and won her case in district court.

To be certain, this is not the end of the issue: this was a ruling at the Federal District Court level, which opens up the possibilities of appeals and wrangling before the Appeallate Court and even the US Supreme Court itself if the US Justice Department chooses to pursue this.

But time is in the side of Justice.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Dark Side....

Waterboarding. The Patriot Act. Suspension of Habeus Corpus. Guantanamo Bay. National ID Card Legilsation. Arizona requiring 'papers' for internal mobility. Suspicionless searches. Civil "forfeiture." Kelo vs. New London. Victimless "crimes." Deep Water Drilling without emergency plans. Wall Street Bailouts. Foreign entaglements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Anakin: "I think this war is destroying the principles of the Republic."

Padmé: "Have you ever considered that we may be on the wrong side?"

Anakin: "What do you mean?"

Padmé: "What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we've been fighting to destroy?"

Padme: "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause."

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Independence Day 2010

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

- Emma Lazarus