Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, and Dan Savage, writer of the Savage Love column, met at Savage’s home in Seattle for dinner and a debate over same-sex marriage and the Bible.
A federal judge on Friday rejected a request made by lawyers acting on behalf of House Republicans that the court delay a DOMA challenge where a disabled war veteran is contesting the law’s block on equal spousal disability benefits.
U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall of Los Angeles denied a stay in a brief order Friday. She did not spell out her reasoning but said she had considered all pertinent factors, including the harm that a delay might cause.
That harm amounts to $124 a month that the law is costing former Army Sgt. Tracey Cooper-Harris in disability benefits, her lawyers said.
Cooper Harris v. United States is a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris. The suit challenges the denial of equal disability benefits for Harris’ same-sex spouse.
BLAG, lawyers acting on behalf of the Republican House leadership, wanted a delay until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had decided the case of Karen Golinski, a federal worker challenging DOMA’s ban on spousal benefits, arguing that they were substantially similar and that the more advanced case, that might have implications for the Cooper-Harris case, should take priority.
However, Judge Marshall’s order rejected this, pointing out the cognizable monetary cost to any such delay.
BLAG, rather controversially, is also defending the military’s Section 101(3), (31) of Title 38, related to military benefits, even though no formal vote was held on whether the House should defend this aspect of the military code, something that Democratic lawmakers have decried.
Cooper-Harris, currently a resident of Pasadena, was stationed in Kyrgyzstan and Kuwait during her time on active duty. She was highly decorated, receiving in excess of 24 medals and commendations during her 12 years of service. Since discharge in 2003, Cooper-Harris has continued to suffer with a number of health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder. She was diagnosed in 2010 with multiple sclerosis, which the government has acknowledged is connected to her military service.
Read the original story at Care2
By Kevin M. Cathcart, Executive Director
The furor is about much more than just a chicken sandwich.
When Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy declared his opposition to marriage for same-sex couples, reaction was swift. Some LGBT groups called for a boycott, the Jim Henson Company pulled out of a merchandising deal, and politicians in Boston and Chicago said their cities would not tolerate such discrimination. But the backlash points to a bigger shift in the national conversation about the freedom to marry. We have been saying for some time now that the tide is no longer turning—it’s already turned.
A few weeks ago, more than three dozen companies signed on to a brief in support of Lambda Legal’s challenge to DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act—Microsoft, Google, Viacom, Xerox, CBS, eBay, the Gap and other corporations much larger than a fast-food chain. All of them agree on one thing: Discrimination is bad for business.
Last week, Jen Cast, a former Lambda Legal board member and one of Amazon.com’s first employees, emailed the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, asking for his support in the fight for marriage equality in Washington State. Lambda Legal and the Northwest Women’s Law Centersued in 2004 for the freedom to marry in the Evergreen State, but we did not prevail in court. In February of this year, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a marriage equality bill into law, but opponents collected enough signatures for a referendum in November.
Jen is now finance co-chair of Washington United for Marriage. She asked Bezos for $100,000 or $200,000 to help defeat the antigay initiative. Instead, she got this email from Bezos and his wife: “Jen, this is right for so many reasons. We’re in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie.”
It is right, and not just for business leaders. Some 132 members of Congress signed on to a brief in support of Lambda Legal’s DOMA challenge. So did labor unions, bar associations, religious groups, health care professional organizations, legal scholars and historians—a groundswell of support from nearly all walks of life. The Justice Department has concluded that DOMA is unconstitutional, and has asked the Supreme Court to hear our case. And President Obama has announced his opposition to DOMA and his support of marriage for same-sex couples.
Lambda Legal has had an agenda for nearly 40 years—equality for LGBT people and people living with HIV. People like Dan Cathy are increasingly finding themselves on the wrong side of history. DOMA is on its last legs. The day will come when same-sex couples and their families can enjoy full equality under the law. More and more, that day is looking inevitable—sooner rather than later.
Read the original post at Lambda Legal
by Mastin Kipp
I’m in London right now during the worldwide celebration of the Olympics. I am out of my comfort zone and surrounded by every race, creed, gender, religion and possible amalgamation of human being possible.
All the while, my Facebook is BLOWING up with Chick-fil-A beliefs left and right. I usually stay away from most debates of a political nature, but gay marriage is one I must stand up for. Why? Because it’s not a political issue, it’s a civil rights issue. And not only that, but because I love Jesus, and the way that many Christians are responding to the idea that gay people should be able to marry makes me cringe.
There are all kinds of places in the Bible that can be quoted to support “traditional marriage,” New and Old Testament. There are also places in the Bible that can be quoted to support stoning your son to death if he is rebellious (Deuteronomy 21: 18-2). There are also places in the Bible that say that male and female have no boundary within the body of Christ (Galatians 3:28).
But as far as I can tell, there is nothing in the Red Letters of The Bible where Jesus preaches against homosexuality. It’s just not there. If it is, please show me so that I can stand corrected.
What I DO know is this… Jesus DID give his TOP TWO Commandments, in fact, Jesus says that “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40).
So, what are these top two Commandments? As a Christian, a lover or follower of Jesus, wouldn’t you want to know what these top two commandments? ESPECIALLY if “ALL THE LAW and the Prophets” hang on them?
Now, by Law and Prophets, I can only accept that Jesus meant for us to forget EVERYTHING else that we’ve heard, no matter who said it or what the Law says. This MUST include everything in the Old Testament and everything that every other prophet or disciple wrote BEFORE or AFTER Christ’s death. These are his TOP TWO irrevocable commandments that PRECEED and HOLD DOMINION over ALL OTHER LAWS and PROPHETS!
So… what are they?
Simple… Read in Matthew 22:36-40. Here goes:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Now, Jesus didn’t stutter. He did not say, “Love your straight neighbor as yourself,” or “Love your gay neighbor as yourself,” or your “white neighbor,” “black neighbor,” “Christian neighbor,” “atheist neighbor,” etc. He said it PLAIN, SIMPLE and without stuttering: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
If you are a Christian or a lover of Jesus like I am, then it BEGINS and ENDS here. Why? Because Jesus said in His own words that these are the TOP TWO commandments that EVERYTHING else lay upon.
This is not out of context. This is not to be subverted because Paul said something, or another Prophet said something else in the Old Testament. Jesus was VERY clear that these two commandments TRUMP everything and everyone else and what they said.
So, if that is the case my Christian friends, let me ask you a question: If you are a straight Christian, do you want the right to marry? Yes, or no? Do you think as a straight person you have that right? Would you want that right? How would it feel to not be able to marry the person that you love? If someone said that they supported you not being able to marry the person that you Love, how would that make you feel?
Jesus calls us to have empathy, compassion and an open heart for all human beings. Not just people who follow Him. Not just Christians. Not just believers. Not just straight people. BUT EVERYONE. And this includes gay people. They are your neighbors, too. So if we are to follow what Jesus is asking of us, we MUST demand that gay people have the right to marry. Why? Because to NOT do so would not be loving them as we love ourselves. And that would make us hypocrites pretending to love Jesus.
Christians and lovers of Jesus should be the first people to allow people who love each other to get married, regardless of their sexual orientation. Jesus was all about Love, not rules and regulations. But LOVE.
It’s that simple. Based on these top two commandments, I believe that Jesus would support gay people getting married.
On top of that, the idea of gay marriage is absurd. We live in a time where we are being asked to open our hearts, expand our minds and step into a larger world view. Marriage isn’t gay or straight, any more than voting is male, female, white, black or yellow. There’s just the right to vote. The right for every HUMAN BEING to vote. And the same goes for two consenting adults who want to get married.
Calling it “gay marriage” is akin to “separate but equal.” It’s still not fully recognizing the closed mindedness of such a label.
If we love Jesus, if we call ourselves a Christian, then we must follow these top two commandments above all else and rise to the occasion so that every consenting adult has the right to Love and be Loved as they please.
It’s that simple.
Read the original story at Huffington Post
In his latest screed, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat implored those who are opposed to Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay views to, “Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.”
Well, let’s toss the idea right back at Douthat. “Say what you really think: that you and other fundamentalist Christians are superior and that allowing people with whom you disagree to have equal rights and opportunities threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to continue in the un-American business of using the levers of power to bend us to your will.”
Fundamentalist Christian authors George Grant and Gary North best summarized this view in their infamous book, Changing of the Guard:
“But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after.
This is precisely what fundamentalists have been doing for as long as they could get away with it. When it was permissible, they would bully non-Christian students into reciting their sectarian prayers in public schools.
How about race?
“If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 [Brown v. Board of Education] decision would never have been made,” Rev. Jerry Falwell once wrote. “The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn the line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.”
For much of American history, secular Americans were forced to abide by repressive Blue Laws, which dictated when people could drink alcohol or sell goods and services. For example, until April 2011, one could not buy alcohol in Georgia on Sundays because the states’ former governor, Sonny Perdue, was a right wing teetotaler. Even now, instead of individuals having the right to decide when they drink in Georgia, it is voted on in each county.
Given this historically despotic behavior by religious majorities, isn’t it rather hypocritical for fundamentalists to now claim that their religious freedom is threatened because Boston mayor Tom Menino is against having Chick-Fil-A open up in Boston?
“You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population,” the mayor said, with his comments echoed by the mayors of Chicago and Washington, DC.
The histrionic fundies are now pretending to be martyrs. However, I’d love to have them answer a simple question: If Gov. Perdue can use his beliefs to tell people they can’t have a cold beer on a hot summer day in Georgia, than why can’t Mayor Menino use his equally heartfelt beliefs to tell people that they can’t have a greasy chicken sandwich in Boston?
The answer is that fundies believe that religious freedom is a one-way street. For example, they can gang up on secular and religious minorities and vote for a dry county and that is “liberty.” But if voters ever decide to vote for a city free of fundie fowl, it suddenly becomes a perfidious act of religious persecution. You either adhere to their values, or they scream “victim!”
The same principles apply for marriage equality. There are religious denominations and clergy who would perform same-sex unions. However, they aren’t allowed because fundies think that their beliefs supersede both secular law and the religious freedom of others.
Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy, is an example of this double standard. While he trumpets his own personal religious liberty, he funds the Family Research Council (FRC), a group that has no compunction about limiting freedom.
“The oft-repeated mantra ‘you can’t legislate morality’–the contention that moral arguments have no place in formulating public policy–is absurd,” FRC writes in a brochure opposing same-sex marriage. “It is the duty of legislators to evaluate the right legislation needed to correct some wrong or injustice, or promote some positive or good result.”
Isn’t that exactly what Mayor Menino is doing – using his sense of morality to correct an injustice?
Contrary to their insincere shrieks, there is no crisis of religious liberty for fundamentalist Christians. The problem is that they have been drunk on their own power for so long that they equate the exercise of religion with forcing others to live by their restrictive rules. Because they can no longer dominate, dictate, and discriminate without push-back, they are whining that they are somehow suppressed.
The truth is, Chick-fil-A should be able to open wherever it wants in the same way that I should be able to marry in any state that I want. However, as long as fundies insist on a puritanical pecking order where the “moral” majority rules, they have no basis in which to complain when they can’t have their fundie fowl in Boston. The fundies must decide if they want dominion or democracy, but it is doubtful that both ideas can co-exist in the free society they claim to cherish.
Read the original story at Truth Wins Out
SO why are the Churches so petrified of gay marriage that they are demanding a referendum on it? Is it really such a threat to civilisation?
Some claim that because parenthood is fundamental to marriage and gays cannot conceive, it should not be allowed.
So what’s next — imposing divorce on heterosexual couples who cannot conceive?
Not so long ago the same Churches taught that slavery was an institution supported by God. They ignored all the things the Bible said about the equality of mankind.
‘Good’ Christians in favour of slavery used a handful of passages from the scriptures to justify slavery, and today some find verses to apply to gays, without acknowledging that they are based on a culture that is no longer relevant to us.
Of course other Christians quoted the same Bible in the battle to abolish slavery.
Churches once justified bans on interracial marriages citing religious beliefs, arguing it violated natural order and would lead to unhealthy, disabled children.
Today those arguing against gay marriages privately call gays unnatural, but publicly claim their concern is about the sanctity of marriage.
Which Biblical tradition of marriage are they defending? Is it the polygamy of the Old Testament prophets or sleeping with slaves if a wife is infertile?
Maybe church leaders should look at what Jesus did in his day, welcoming into his circle the whores, the tax collectors, the thieves, the sick, the lepers, the disabled and the unclean. He said “love thy neighbour” not “love your STRAIGHT neighbour”.
Gay couples can be and are good parents. Meanwhile, on a daily basis in the criminal courts I see the products of straight couples — often unplanned and unloved. The Church claims it’s best to have parents of both sexes, but it’s actually even better to have good parents.
Some claim 2,000 years of tradition cannot be wrong, but this ignores when the Church has been wrong — burning witches, stoning of bad children, astronomers tortured to death because they challenged the Christian view that the world was flat, or the shameful cover-up of child abuse.
Why is there a pick and mix attitude to the traditions of the Bible?
The Church has had to move with the times. It would no longer be acceptable to speak about blacks or women in the way the Church once did, so why gays?
And what about Muslims? Absolutely — just replace the above words Christian and Churches with Muslims and Mosques — and no it’s not the case that Churches/Mosques will be forced to carry out gay marriages.
Maybe Church leaders should go back to their Bible and consider the greatest human rights laws of all — “love thy neighbour, treat others as you would have them treat you”.
Read the original story at the Scottish Sun
Is the LGBT movement walking down the aisle to nowhere?
As LGBT pride month rang in this June, the gay rights movement seemed to have much to celebrate. President Obama’s announcement of support for same-sex marriage, though denounced by some as a contrived political move, was followed by the overturn of part of the Defense of Marriage Act by a federal appeals court. But these apparent wins haven’t resolved a longstanding debate within the LGBT community: Is winning the right to marry really a victory? Many queer activists argue that the narrow focus on marriage has eclipsed other issues and tamed a once-radical movement. In These Times discussed the direction of LGBT organizing with Kenyon Farrow, former director of Queers for Economic Justice; Josh Friedes, director of marriage equality at Equal Rights Washington; and Yasmin Nair, a Chicago writer with the radical queer collective, Against Equality, who also organizes youth with Gender JUST.
Same-sex marriage is on the ballot in four states this November. What’s the outlook for these initiatives, especially in light of statements of support from President Obama and other leaders?
JOSH: The statements from these leaders are huge. They provide a pathway for many people to evolve their positions, and we’re seeing public support for equality increasing. I am extremely optimistic that 2012 will be the year where we see the first marriage equality ballot initiative move positively through an electorate.
YASMIN: This may be true, but the notion that marriage is some kind of magic button that, when you press it, makes things better for LGBT people, is a dangerous one because it can be untrue in so many instances. The assumption that marrying will extend healthcare to the family members of LGBT people ignores the fact that many of us cannot access healthcare in the first place. The people who are going to benefit the most from gay marriage will be the ones who already have the resources.
KENYON: And plenty of people are willing to support marriage equality who may not support any other aspect of a progressive agenda. The LGBT equality movement is moving further and further to the right, and now we’re developing relationships and even Super PACs with Republican donors who, for personal reasons, are willing to fundraise for marriage equality.
Part of this question is about the nature of marriage itself. Does it benefit LGBT people to gain entry to an institution that many consider heteronormative?
JOSH: If you look at the arc of history—whether it is anti-miscegenation laws or those restricting the rights of Jews to marry—marriage is often used as a way of making people “the other.” If LGBT people are going to be seen as fully equal, we need to overcome this.
KENYON: There’s also an equally long history of the state compelling people to marry. The argument in the ’90s, that what poor women really needed was to get married, provided cover for the state to abandon large parts of its welfare and food stamp programs. We’re also seeing that in states with same-sex marriage, companies are now dumping their domestic partnership benefits, which sometimes were not just for gay couples, but also for unmarried straight couples or family members. So there’s actually a way in which marriage becomes not a civil right, but a civil demand from the state in order to get benefits.
JOSH: Freedom to marry includes the freedom to reject marriage. But I don’t believe in this notion of heteronormativity. I believe that an incredible number of people choose to form a lifelong bond with another person and have that recognized. If marriage had remained a very unequal institution, LGBT people would be working for domestic partnerships or some other status. But marriage has become an increasingly egalitarian institution, and therefore has become more appealing to gay and lesbian people.
YASMIN: The idea that marriage has transformed from a profoundly unequal institution into an equal one is untrue. It has shifted a bit, perhaps: You’re not allowed to beat your wife and get away with it these days. But what has definitely not shifted is the state’s role in marriage, in using marriage as a pivot to take away benefits. What marriage does is persuade us that it’s our sole, private responsibility to take care of our families, and that only through a marriage contract will we be granted lifesaving benefits. If marriage is truly a choice, then the unmarried should be able to receive the same benefits as the married.
And that’s not just an anti-assimilationist argument; you’re also implicating the push for marriage equality in privatization and austerity.
KENYON: Yes, politicians are often given a pass on other issues when they come out for marriage equality. People all over the country laud Mayor Bloomberg for his support of same-sex marriage. But in his recent budget, there was a 70 percent cut in homeless youth services, as many as half of whom identify as LGBT. And many of the LGBT equality organizations, after praising these politicians, don’t show up to the budget hearings to defend these services.
Do we have to juxtapose marriage rights and economic justice? Could marriage equality be a pathway to winning other rights?
JOSH: I think attacks on marriage equality are a bit of red herring. You can look at the budget cuts in New York and blame it on marriage. But you can also look at states without marriage equality and see how much less there is for LGBT people. In Washington state, the political power that has built around the marriage issue has resulted in transgender hate-crime and anti-bullying statutes.
YASMIN:It is probably true that hate crimes legislation and anti-bullying laws in Washington are connected to gay marriage—but that is exactly the problem. Marriage solidifies the idea that the “inclusion” of LGBT people is the solution, and it has been accompanied by a push for inclusion in the military and in hate crimes and anti-bullying legislation. But this ignores the fundamental inequality perpetuated by these institutions—marriage, the military, the criminal justice system. Hate crimes and anti-bullying legislation are punitive measures that will drive the prison-industrial complex and the school-to-prison pipeline.
So how did the push for inclusion in these institutions become so central to today’s LGBT movement?
KENYON: The queer movement was once very much a part of the Left. But as the AIDS epidemic began to impact gay men irrespective of economic or social class, it drew a lot of conservative, wealthy, white gays into the movement, and there was a real debate amongst radical and more conservative segments. As a result, we saw the movement gravitate toward issues involving white folks’ understanding of citizenship: marriage, military service and, to some extent, hate-crime legislation. This is not to say that people of color haven’t fought for those things, but certainly not as ends in and of themselves. AIDS organizations, meanwhile, have lost enormous amounts of funding to marriage equality.
JOSH: I don’t think the emergence of the marriage equality movement has been the outgrowth of political analysis as much as it has been driven by the passion of human couples wishing to marry. There is, fundamentally, a stigma in not having the ability to choose or not choose marriage.
YASMIN: But the gay marriage movement can’t have it both ways, arguing on one hand that there is this tremendous stigma, but on the other hand that people can just choose whether or not to marry. The gay marriage movement wants to pretend that marriage has somehow changed, but it also is invoking this very 1950s narrative that unmarried people are unworthy of respect.
How do you see this split over the marriage issue impacting the future direction of LGBT organizing?
KENYON: The marriage equality movement has increased the identification of white gays and lesbians as members of the suburban middle class and, particularly in urban environments, we’re seeing growing conflict over gentrification and other issues with black and brown LGBT youth.
JOSH: But especially for LGBT people who are white or middle class, the battle for marriage equality has opened their eyes to other forms of oppression. Those of us who work on marriage equality must remind everyone that this is not the ultimate goal of the LGBT movement. But it is an essential ingredient—we need to build political power, not destroy it with a circular firing squad. And we absolutely need to talk about healthcare, but I think we do a disservice when we suggest marriage equality is only about healthcare.
YASMIN: It is worth remembering, though, that the AIDS movement once argued for universal healthcare, and that argument has now dropped out of the picture. Looking into the future, I see gay marriage furthering the neoliberal state. The great irony is, I may see marriage equality in the next 20 years in the United States, but I will likely never see universal healthcare in my lifetime.
CitizenLink, a self-proclaimed affiliate of the anti-LGBT group Focus on the Family, has a unique video out mocking President Obama’s support for marriage equality. The group seizes on unfounded fear tactics to somehow claim that the President’s support – as well as the majority of Americans who support marriage equality – equates to nothing more than a police state. Check it out:
See the original post at HRC.org
A British soldier comes home to his love. Beautiful.
Short, but powerful film.