Same Sex Marriage: Atmosphere changing

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

Court Strikes Down Key Part of DOMA

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.

Gay-couple friendly civil union bill dead in Colorado

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.

Same Sex Marriage is the Issue of the Day…through 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

Senator Peter Brunstetter = White Supremacy + Anti Gay Marriage

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.

Your Support of Bill C-279 is Urgently Needed Now

“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!

Maryland Bill Passes Senate

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.

How To Make Diversity Happen

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.
Continue reading

The More Than Men Project

The More than Men Project is an effort initiated by the Women Thinking Free Foundation to develop a space where men, often white and/or straight and/or Of Priv, could spend a little time and energy telling their fellow Hetero-occidentaloid-Y-chromosomists something useful or interesting about diversity, and to encourage the promotion of said diversity.

When I was asked to contribute to this project (which was being cooked up last July) I had some concerns. I wasn’t sure if I needed a space to do this, since I have a widely read blog in which I am constantly telling my fellow Hetero-occidentaloid-Y-chromosomists how to behave, and they pretty much do whatever I tell them to do. Hetero-occidentaloid-Y-chromosomists are so compliant and all. Since then, I’ve gotten Yet Another Blog where I can do even more of this behavioral mentoring, so, I thought, why should I bother with another effort like this. Just let the other guys have a space.

But then I decided to take advantage of the offer to try something entirely different. The project is self explanatory, but since you may need some encouragement to pay attention to it, here are the opening sentences in the first of three videos I made for More than Men:

The More Than Men Project is a campaign by the Women Thinking Free Foundation. This is for white men (usually straight , often privileged, etc.) to take an active role in diversity advocacy. This is my chance to tell my fellow white guys what I think about what they should be thinking.

But I get to do that all the time. So, I thought I’d ignore the instructions and try something a little different.

A short memo …. with attachments. It is the attachments that matter.

Dear Straight White Male with Privilege:

This is not hard.

You just need to pay attention to the voices in your head. You supply the head. Attached, please find the voices, in three parts, which I call Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Part I: Sheril Kirshenbaum, Desiree Schell, and Jafsica.

Part II: Asha.

Part III: C. Anderson, Stephanie Zvan, Natalie Wagner, Serena

I would appreciate it if you’all would consider self censoring your comments, and trying to put encouraging or positive comments on the More than Men site posts, the YouTube videos, or my Scienceblogs copy of this post, and if you have criticisms or can’t stop yourself from being a dick, put those comments below, on this version of this post. Thank you in advance for that.

Gays to Koch: “We are sorry for ruining marriage”

Amy Koch was the highly placed Minnesota legislator who recently resigned from her leadership post when it became clear that she was about to be, or was being, accused of/caught doing a staff member.

Koch issued an official statement yesterday about the situation:

Amy Koch apologized late this afternoon for “engaging in a relationship with a Senate staffer,” though she did not name the individual.

Koch declared in an official statement that she’s “made some mistakes and errors in judgment” and has “deep regret.” She apologized to constituents, the Republican party, fellow legislators, and her family.

“The events of recent days have been very difficult for me and those close to me,” Koch said.

Although Koch has not named the other person whom she was boinking, it is rumored that it was/is Michael Brodcorb.

Now, who really cares? This is between Amy her boyfriend, her husband, and anyone else who may or may not be involved/uninvolved. But, of course, we tend to make a big deal out of it when the person doing the extra-marital affairing is a Family Values Teabagging Republican Shit, as is the case here.

But really, is it Amy’s fault that her marriage is ruined? After all, marriage in general has been ruined by the gay people, right? Gay people have, generally speaking, ruined everything, including marriage, and other stuff too. So, of course Amy was unable to maintain her Family Values Marriage under those circumstances.

And, to their credit, Teh Gayz have apologized.

The gay and lesbian community of Minnesota has issued a letter of apology to recently resigned Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch for ruining the institution of marriage and causing her to stray from her husband and engage in an “inappropriate relationship.”

“On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community’s successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage,” reads the letter from John Medeiros. “We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry.”

Both Koch and her alleged boinkee Brodkorb campainged hard to get a constitutoinal emendment on the ballot so that Minnesota Voters can Trample Out the Gay by making it unconstitutional to even change the law to allow those gay people to marry. But, apparently, they did not campaign hard enough, too little too late, leaving the barn door open after the horse has flown the coop. And now, sadly, they had to pay. By fucking. And getting caught doing so.

Those Gay People are ruining it for everyone.

And now, the complete text of their letter: Continue reading

Americans For Truth About Homosexuality’s LaBarbera mad at Obama

… and other matters.

You will be stunned to learn that Americans For Truth About Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera isn’t happy either, asking, “Who knew that when President Ronald Reagan spoke idealistically about America becoming a ‘shining city on the hill,’ that city would turn out to be Sodom?” LaBarbera said that Obama and Clinton are putting America in a position of “defiance toward her Creator to a new level” and endorsing an “affront to our Declaration of Independence”

More here.

Meanwhile, Republicans break out the popcorn to watch anti-choice porn:

Mike Huckabee has been making the rounds on right-wing radio promoting a new anti-choice documentary he produced with Citizens United called “The Gift of Life” which profiles anti-choice activists as well as those who were “saved from the abortionist”…Huckabee is scheduled to premier the film in Iowa next week and he invited the candidates seeking the Republican nomination to join him for the event where each would be given five minutes to address the audience and flaunt their anti-choice credentials … and so far, four candidates have accepted the invitation…

source

Here’s a triler … you could always visit the YouTube site and unlike it!
Continue reading

School District Rethinking Policy on Gender Orientation and Identity Issues

Over the last two years, six students in the Anoka-Hennepin County Schoool District committed suicide, it is believed, after being bullied or harassed for their gender orientation. This is the largest school district in the state of Minnesota. Up to this point, the district has had a strange kind of “don’t ask don’t tell” policy regarding gender orientation. According to this policy, if a student walks into a councilor’s or trusted teacher’s office with concerns about his or her gender-identity related situation … e.g., the student is being bullied in the teacher’s class … the teacher is required to pretend that they know nothing about gender identity and to say nothing and do nothing. Or, to be more precise, the staff or faculty member is requires to “remain neutral” in the matter. It is against policy to be sympathetic, to emphatic, to express concern or, in short, to stand up for the student. Continue reading

Benson v. Alverson Update

An Update from August Berkshire:

There have been three recent developments regarding Benson v. Alverson, the court case in which Minnesota Atheists has filed the sole amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief on behalf of the Appellants.

As you may recall, the case involves three same-sex couples (collectively known as “Marry Me Minnesota”) who are trying to get their out-of-state legal marriages recognized in Minnesota, as well as to obtain the right for other same-sex couples to obtain legal civil marriages in Minnesota.

Read the rest here.

Homophobia? There’s an app for that…

I am not surprised but I am annoyed.

Google’s Android Marketplace is selling smartphone owners of all ages an app which promises to answer what they think is a pressing question: “Is My Son Gay?”

If we alert the Google team to this outrageous questionnaire, we’re sure they’ll do the right thing and shut it down.

Go sign the damn petition.

Debbie the Blogger on Natural Transitioningâ„¢

Debbie is a friend that I KNOW has a lot of blog posts in her. I have special powers, I can see these things. And she’s told me that she wants to write more, and I strongly sense this is more than a half baked idea; It might even be a need. Or at least, a fully baked idea.

So, I’m very happy to see that Debbie caught a break. Our mutual friend, Amy, was kidnapped by Pirates, and her blog had an open space in it so Debbie has jumped in to fill it with a very interesting post on gender transitioning vis-a-vis the Naturalistic Fallacy. Have a look:

NATURAL TRANSITIONING FOR FTMs