Tag Archives: Same Sex Marriage

Californial Prop 8 Struck Down by Scotus

From Mercury News:

In a ruling that assures further legal battles, the high court found that backers of Proposition 8 did not have the legal right to defend the voter-approved gay marriage ban in place of the governor and attorney general, who have refused to press appeals of a federal judge’s 2010 ruling finding the law unconstitutional.

It was a 5-4 decision, usual suspects.

Reminder: Who is on the Supreme Court matters.

Reminder: Who is in the White House matters to who is on the Supreme Court.

Reminder: Which party controls the Senate matters to the ability of whomever is in the White House to determine who is on the Supreme Court.

Reminder: The Senate has boneheaded rules so the above reminder isn’t just about a majority, but about a “supermajority” of 60/100.

Reminder: The Republicans want to restrict marriage, what you do in your bedroom, and reproductive rights of women. The Democrats don’t.

Reminder: Party politics is important, ignore that at your peril.

“DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons”

The Supreme Court of the United States has truck down the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” as unconstitutional. It was a 5-4 decision. A ruling on California Prop 8 is expected soon.

From NPR:

Section 3 of the law defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and a spouse as “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” That provision had been struck down by eight lower courts before the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in United States v. Windsor.

This decision means that legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to the same federal benefits as married opposite sex couples.

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito dissented.

Reminder: Who is on the Supreme Court matters.

Reminder: Who is in the White House matters to who is on the Supreme Court.

Reminder: Which party controls the Senate matters to the ability of whomever is in the White House to determine who is on the Supreme Court.

Reminder: The Senate has boneheaded rules so the above reminder isn’t just about a majority, but about a “supermajority” of 60/100.

Reminder: The Republicans want to restrict marriage, what you do in your bedroom, and reproductive rights of women. The Democrats don’t.

Reminder: Party politics is important, ignore that at your peril.

Minnesota Same Sex Marriage Bill

The Republican dominated Minnesota Legislature got almost nothing done over the last two years that they were in power. But they did manage to put two boneheaded constitutional amendments on the ballot for last November, one to restrict voting rights in a way that Republicans would have a better chance of winning, the other making it unconstitutional for same sex couples to marry. Same sex marriage was already illegal in the state, but the GOP saw the handwriting on the wall and knew that this legal restriction would not last, so they imposed the amendment on us.

Both of those amendments were resoundingly defeated by the good people of Minnesota. And now, there is a bill before the Democratic Party ruled legislature that would allow same sex marriage if it is passed.

Of note: Many religious organizations came out in recent committee hearings on both sides of the issue, but Minnesota Atheists took a different tact. They came out in favor of the bill, but noted that this is not a religious issue at all. August Berkshire of Minnesota Atheist provided the following moving testimony:

Minnesota Atheists Testifies in Favor of Marriage Equality

(Testimony by August Berkshire, representing Minnesota Atheists, at a Minnesota House Civil Law Committee hearing, in favor of the bill HF 1054, changing state law to allow for marriage equality. March 12, 2013, 6:00 p.m. The bill passed the committee on a 10-7 party line vote – Democrats for, Republicans against. The 9 p.m. “FOX at 9” local TV news on channel 9 reported that the bill’s “supporters ranged from Catholics to atheists.” Earlier that day a companion bill passed a Minnesota Senate committee. The bill now moves to the full legislature, which will vote on it after they have passed a budget.)

Thank you, Mr. Chair; Committee Members. My name is August Berkshire and I represent Minnesota Atheists, our state’s oldest, largest, and most active atheist organization.

We view this as a matter of separation of church and state. It can be confusing because the same word, “marriage,” is used for both a civil contract and a religious ceremony. But we must keep in mind that these are two separate things.

Today you may hear testimony from some people that their god is in favor of same-sex marriage, and testimony from other people that their god is opposed to same-sex marriage. Fortunately, that’s not a debate you have to resolve. Government laws must have a secular basis.

The best secular arguments in favor of same-sex marriage are the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and the fact that long-term relationships, gay or straight, help to stabilize society.

In our opinion, there are no secular arguments against same-sex marriage that hold up to scrutiny. Many of these arguments were also used 50 years ago to oppose interracial marriage.

I would like to end on a personal note. My partner, Rachel, and I are heterosexuals and we have been together for 17 years. We are both atheists, and so we will not be getting married in a church, synagogue, or mosque. Instead, we will seek a judge to perform a civil marriage ceremony.

However, we will not get married until it is legal for everyone, because how can we stand up in front of family and friends, some of whom happen to be gay and lesbian, on what is supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, knowing that this happiness is not available to them as well?

So please pass this pro-marriage bill and make civil marriage available to everyone. Thank you.

If you want to sign a petition to encourage the legislature to do the right thing, visit the newly redesigned Minnesota Progressive Project web site and look for the petition on the right sidebar.

Quiet down the atheists

When Atheists talk, people listen.

Then, they tell them to shut up.

David Phillip Norris of the Twin Cities recently wrote an article for MNPost called With talk of tolerance and equality, one group is still forgotten: atheists. This was written as a reflection on the just finished and rather dramatic fight against an anti same sex marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot in Minnesota. By today’s electoral standards, the amendment was soundly defeated.

So while I’m thrilled that we can start talking about the possibility of voting “yes” instead of “no” for same-sex marriage in Minnesota, I’m still left feeling frustrated. In addition to being gay, I’m also a secular humanist. And an atheist. With candidates and party conventions making declarations about faith and belief in God, the amount of religious language used this year was alarming, but the marriage-amendment conversation was particularly loaded.

I don’t know how effective the faith-symp strategy was during that campaign, but it was a big part of it. The idea, clearly, was to show that in Minnesota, being religious does not mean being anti-gay or anti same sex marriage. This is true. In fact, not long after I moved to Minnesota, a friend of mine got married in a church. She was gay, her newly wedded spouse was gay, the ceremony was carried out in a Lutheran church by a female minister. I remember thinking, “Wow, Minnesota is progressive.”

Apparently, I had attended a completely illegal activity. The marriage was a sham, because gay marriage was not legal. But, the good people of South Minneapolis apparently chose to ignore that. Still, once “married” my friends would still not have had the rights afforded to others who happened to be in opposite sex marriages.

But I digress. Norris makes this point:

I wondered where my voice was in the conversation, where my link was on websites, and why more atheists weren’t speaking up on my behalf. In September, I attended a public forum on the amendment featuring panelists who shared their reasons for opposing it. All but one – August Berkshire, president of Minnesota Atheists — was religious. His arguments against the amendment were so sound and appealing that I was amazed they weren’t being used in MN United’s talking points. But Berkshire was the only prominent atheist I recall hearing from in the last 18 months about LGBT rights.

I should point out that Minnesota Atheists is the only non theistic group that has provided a legal brief in a law suit being carried out here regarding same sex marriage. Apparently, as Norrris says, the whole same sex marriage debate is a discussion being had among religious people. Go read his post, it’s very good and important. Here, my intention is not to expand on his arguments, but rather, to use this opportunity to point out a different (but very much related) problem: How do non-Atheists react when an Atheists says something out loud, about Atheism or anything relate to it?

You may recall that last summer, Minnesota Atheists (and American Atheists) teamed up with the local minor league team, the Saint Paul Saints, to sponsor a ball game. The Saints have a lot of sponsored games, and they are mutual fund raising activities. They changed their name to the Mr. Paul Aints for the game, and various other adjustments were made. The Saints, or rather, Aints have a lot of fun with their games, and this game was no exception.

But, after it became known that the Saints/Aints wer teaming up with Atheists, a certain amount of fecal matter hit the air moving device. I heard but did not confirm that there was a move in the home town of the team that was to play the Saints that night to forfeit the game rather than to play in an Atheist sponsored event. A couple of local professional journalists wrote columns that were very intolerant, asking why the heck anyone would want to do something with a bunch of atheists.

To our credit, we who often speak out locally on behalf of Atheism responded cooly and calmly and pointed out to those journalists that they were doing it wrong. One approach I took was to re-write one of the journalists columns replacing mentions of “Atheists” or “Atheism” with “Jews” and “Judaism.” That shift in frame made the column look like something from Germany in the 1930s, sort of. This can be a very effective way to point out the true nature of intolerance.

So, now, let’s do something along those lines with the comments on Norris’s post. I’ve screen captured a few of them for you. Note that I did not black out names because these are all public comments on the above cited post. They are shown in order of appearance. You may need more context than I provide here, and that is why you should click through and read Norris’s original essay.

This first one is a bit grammatically flawed (looks like AutoCorrect has had its way with it) but you can get the point:

Let me rephrase:

I have often found Jews to be as dogmatic as the orthodox religious, perhaps a more palatable view (to me) is better expressed by Lutherans.

Well, to each his or her own when it comes to religion, but the author of this comment is saying that often Atheists are unpalatable, presumably not in a cannibalistic sense, but rather, in regard to the things they say. This implies that it would be better (for him) if Atheists remained silent. This, posted on an essay by an Atheists expressing a sense of not belonging and not being listened to could be translated further as:

I do wish that you had not written this post. Please shut up.

OK, let’s look at the next one:

The commenter starts out by putting words in Norris’s mouth. Norris does not say, or imply, that people of faith are not for human rights. Rather, he clearly documents that many Minnesotans of faith were very active in the pro same sex marriage movement. This first statement is also a bit of a smokescreen because he mentions that “…In fact these values are fundamental to Christianity.” So, now we have a “fact” on the table that Christians are all for human rights and equality. But, the anti same sex marriage bill was introduced by members of a very common sect of Christians and supported by many churches. The smoke is rather thin in this case. In fact, he acknowledges this in his next paragraph, but the chance to school the Atheist on how good people of faith are was not deterred by the fact that they often are not so good and that the situation is more complex.

In the third paragraph, he (as did many of the atheists in the comments) restates the mistaken assumption that Atheists are not organized. We are. But here, we see our organizations, which were mentioned explicitly in the post and illustrated with a photograph of the president of the statewide organization and everything, are being ignored. Or, more precisely, set aside. moved out of the way.

Then we are told that we are annoying. Squeaky wheels. And we are going to do it wrong by being condescending. Go read Norris’s post. It is nothing like condescending. But it was an Athiest talking, and when a Atheist whispers, many theists hear … well, at least a squeaky sound, of not something more harsh.

More precisely, we are being told that until we do it right, we will not be acknowledged.

After all this disrespect, we are told this:

The key is that atheists must respect all people and their beliefs.

And it goes beyond that. After mischaracterizing the Atheist Voice, and not even knowing that there is in fact a statewide group of organized Atheists (and many other groups) even though he was just told this, the commenter tells us he will disregard Atheists until they, Atheists, learn all about him and how he thinks and does things. And he does this in a harsh and insulting way:

…. guess what? I’m not going to give a rip about what an atheist thinks if he or she isn’t willing to even attempt to understand what my values are, where they come from and why I hold them so dear. I’m not looking to proselytize. I’m looking for real relationship with the people I’m devoting months if not years of my free time to work with on a campaign or cause. That’s how effective organizing happens.

So, “effective organizing” means ignoring the perspective and presence of an entire group of potential allies, telling them to shut up when they politely ask questions about their position at the organizing table, and insisting that they jump through hoops that you have designed for them. Huh. Didn’t know that.

The next comment is by the same person responding to an Athiest:

The response is very annoying. First, the Atheist is told he is speaking in the wrong tone. To add to the commenter’s (Greene’s) authority, he explicitly approves of a part of the comment. That was nice of him. But in telling the Atheists to shut up, essentially, and after complaining at length about how Atheists are doing it wrong, he scolds that one should not negatively label people if you want them to like you. In other words, STFU and maybe I won’t dislike you, disregard you, and set you aside. And, again, he verifies that he knows nothing about Atheists in Minnesota, even though he insists that Atheists, to be listened to, must first learn about his beliefs.

And finally, we are reminded that Atheists are not recognized because of their own failure, their own negativity. After a campaign in which theists (some, not all of them, of course) were busy being very negative to a portion of our population, and attempting to extend that negativity into the State’s Constitution:

To many, when an Atheist talks, that is a negative thing. To some, Atheists should only talk when they are not being negative.

The question I have, then, is this: If you throw a person in the mill pond and they sink to the bottom, does that mean that they were not an Atheist?

Are you a Catholic?

And if so, are you against freedom to marry for all?

If not … if you are a Catholic AND you support, for instance, same-sex marriage, the YOU ARE A CHUMP and your beloved church is making a fool of you.

Catholic priest denies confirmation to teen who supports freedom to marry

The Catholic Church is fighting it’s members and is once again on the wrong side of history.

Last month, Lennon Cihak, a 17-year-old living in Barnesville, Minnesota, posted a picture of himself holding an altered ‘Vote Yes’ sign on his Facebook page.
Lennon markered out the ‘Vote Yes’ text and replaced it with ‘Vote No!’ He also changed the sign’s slogan to read, ‘Equal Marriage Rights!’ Shortly thereafter, Lennon’s mother, Shana Cihak, was called into a meeting with Rev. Gary LaMoine, the priest at Assumption Church, the Catholic church the Cihak family attends. LaMoine informed the family that Lennon would no longer be able to complete his confirmation because of his gay marriage stance.

Story here.

Same Sex Marriage at the Polls

This WILL be an historic year at the polls when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage. The question remains, though, what will this year’s election, and the society voting in it, be remembered for? There four states with ballot items related to this issue: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

I heard the following from a state legislator the other day. The pages who come from all over the state, brought in by elected members of both of our ruling parties, get together and do political and educational stuff. One thing they do is to vote on issues. Here are two things this legislator was told by these young, pr-voting age kids from across Minnesota:

1) We voted unanimously in favor of same sex marriage (against the proposed amendment to ban it constitutionally); and

2) We’re coming. If the conservatives want to ban same sex marriage, they better do it this year in the Constitution, because in a couple of years it will be impossible to pass such a law. Because we’re coming.

One way to help might be to click here.

And if you are in Minnesota, also click here.

Minnesota: Current Battleground for Same Sex Marriage

Polls in Minnesota show that the anti-Same Sex Marriage constitutional amendment on this year’s ballot could pass, but it is close. If Minnesota defeats this amendment, it could signal a turning point in this battle for basic civil rights. This, right now, today, this minute, would be a very good time for you to give three dollars to Minnesotans United for All Families, which has been leading the fight against the amendment, very effectively, and very efficiently.

Here’s an ad they just put out (This is their first TV ad):

Here is where you click to give them your three dollars. Thank you very much.

I assume that when you clicked on that you actually gave them $15, right?