While we wait for what I’m pretty sure is going to be bad news from Wisconsin, where Democracy is about to get kicked out by a pack of hoodlums, there’s this:

California’s Prop 8 Same-Sex Marriage Ban Looks Headed To Supreme Court

A federal appeals court in San Francisco says it will not reconsider an earlier ruling that California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Today’s decision is posted here. It does not mean that same-sex marriages are suddenly legal again in California. KQED writes that the court said its decision “is stayed for 90 days pending the filing of a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court.”

That is probably good news.

And, in Minnesota: Continue reading

U.S. Defense of Marriage Act denying federal benefits to married gay couples unconstitutional: Appeals court

BOSTON — A U.S. appeals court Thursday declared that the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a groundbreaking ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The unanimous ruling said the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman discriminates against gay couples because it doesn’t give them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.

The ruling was very narrowly defined and did not address the specific issue of same sex marriage.

The Republicans in Colorado’s state house killed a bill that would have made gay marriage a lot like straight marriage. This was expected, and it will become a campaign issue as Democrats attempt to take the Colorado State House in November.

Republican Rep. Don Coram, whose son is gay, cited his reasons for voting against the measure while his wife, Dianna Coram, wiped away tears in the audience. Coram said civil unions are too similar to same-sex marriage, which Colorado voters banned in 2006. He blasted Democrats, accusing them of bringing up the issue to try to gain votes.

“The gay community is being used as a political pawn,” he said.

Perhaps. Or, perhaps they are not pawns. Perhaps they are rooks and nights and bishops and kings and queens!1!!!

Checkmate in November.

Why would it be that about half of Americans want to deny same sex couples the right to marry? Indeed, why would conservatives want to let same sex couples get away without the legal features that Marriage provides to protect the rest of society with respect to debt and other responsibilities?* It was not long ago that a majority of Americans were against same-sex marriage, with varying degrees of support for inadequate social contracts such as civil unions. Very recently, according to Nate Silver’s calculus, pro-gay marriage opinions have a slim majority, and an absolute majority (about 51%), which is, unfortunately, a little softer than ideal.

In November, a lot of things will happen related to same sex marriage. For example, now that Obama has come out supporting same-sex marriage, and Scissor-hands Romney is now running full steam against same-sex marriage, the role of this issue in the minds of the electorate is key to both gay rights and the presidential election (and thus, well, gay rights…SCOTUS is at stake after all). Of the nine states considered to be the most swing with respect to the presidential election, five have prohibitive laws passed over a range of time (Pennsylvania in 1996, Ohio in 2004, Virginia and Colorado in 2006, and Florida in 2008), two swing states have restrictive laws that are less severe (Nevada passed in 2002 and Wisconsin in 2006) and only two allow same sex marriage (Iowa and New Hampshire, both passed in 2009).

That bodes poorly for both progressives seeking to re-elect Obama and everyone trying to expand same-sex marriage, unless the pro same-sex marriage trend is strong. Which it might be. In fact, that might be the main news of this year’s election cycle.

On the positive side, the issue of same-sex marriage being central this year will result in mutually beneficial outcomes. In Minnesota, we have a ballot question that would make same-sex marriage illegal constitutionally. The measure’s language leaves it open to being struck down by courts (maybe even before the balloting) and the presence of this initiative along with an anti-democracy voter ID rule will bring progressives out in November. We expect heavy campaigning by progressives in three or four congressional districts to push out Tea-Party Temps or other Republicans, along with a really annoying Republican controlled state house and a federal senatorial race along with whatever pull-in Obama provides to support efforts against the initiatives. In other words, we are hoping for a perfect storm of issues and candidates to produce a defining moment in state history and to be one of the first states to resoundingly squash an anti-gay same-sex marriage amendment.

In a sense, this election year will be a barometer of both strength of progressive will and ability for different groups to work together on common (or nearly common) progressive goals. The unknown factor (other than factors that are, well, unknown) is the interaction between the African American vote (which helped Obama win in ’08) and less than friendly feelings towards same-sex marriage by some self-identified Democrats who are African American. Everybody has to remember this rule: No pulling the damn ladder up into the tree house no matter who you are, who is already up there, and who isn’t there yet.**

The best graphic of the year award is probably going to go to Nate Silver for producing a trend line graph showing opposition to vs. support of gay marriage over the last several years, which shows a very interesting pattern. This graph was so good last August when first produced that Silver did it again a few days ago with added data that, shall we say, harden the conclusion that pro same-sex marriage opinion is an absolute majority. I couldn’t resist making a crude moving GIF showing both graphs together. Not work safe and below the fold: Continue reading

Or so we hear, from his wife.

Senator Brunstetter is a Republican in North Carolina. He introduced an anti-gay marriage amendment. He should have been more careful about having the little lady keep her mouth shut becuase … well …

There is a transcript here.

I am so confused. I have heat stroke. Do you have heat stroke? I have heat stroke.

“We don’t have a ‘Bill of Rights’ in Canada. We don’t need one.”

A colleague from Canada told me that once. I was pretty sure she was more or less wrong, but I was working in a lab of mainly Canadians at the time and I know that as an Ugly American I had no chance if I disagreed, so I kept my mouth shut. It turns out that only months before that declaration, Canada had passed the Constitution Act, and before that they had the “Canadian Bill of Rights” and subsequently some other stuff has happened along these lines, but just as in the United States, unless you are really quite specific, these sorts of protections don’t extend to everyone, and especially to people who are in certain groups or categories that many seem comfortable viewing as unworthy for some reason or another.

Well, at the moment, transgender Canadians are not protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the prevailing constitutional law. However …

Next month, in April, an extremely pivotal bill is going to be up for debate in the Canadian parliament. It’s Bill C-279, which will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of statuses protected under the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms.

Currently, transgender Canadians have no such protections, and may be discriminated against on the basis of their gender by employers, businesses, shelters, institutions (public or private) and individuals without any legal consequence. … This is not okay.

Natalie Reed has all the details here. It appears that Bill C-279 has not received much media attention, and the current political climate in Canada is such that it is at risk of not passing.

So read Natalie’s post and get on this, please. If you know of a petition or something, tell us in the comments!

The Maryland house recently passed their same-sex marriage bill, and now, moments ago, the Senate has done the same thing. Governer Martin O’Malley is expected to sign it.

Go Marry-Land!

Details

Maryland would join the District and seven states in allowing same-sex marriages. Supporters have cast the bill as a major advance in equal rights. Opponents have called it a misguided attempt to redefine the institution of marriage.

Despite one of the largest Democratic majorities in any state legislature, backers of gay marriage in Maryland had to overcome fierce opposition from blocks of African American lawmakers and those with strong Catholic and evangelical views to cobble together coalitions big enough to pass both chambers.

There are several very basic misunderstandings of how things work when it come to engendering and encouraging diversity, and I’d like to make a few comments with the aim of clearing them up, at least partially. One example of a misunderstanding came up a while back when some of us were complaining about the number of Y-chromosomes represented in Richard Dawkins’ otherwise excellent science anthology, and I have been reminded of it more recently by the inexplicable blogarrhea coming from the general direction of the former John Loftus, who can’t stop complaining about (… oh never mind, it does not matter). In the end, it is all about how we make selections, which are samples of a larger population, and we make selections quite often.
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