Christie Drops Same Sex Marriage Appeal

“Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced on Monday that his administration would drop its legal challenge to allowing gay marriage in the state, hours after same-sex couples started exchanging vows.
Mr. Christie’s decision to withdraw his appeal before the state’s Supreme Court, a reversal from his long-held position that the question of gay marriage should be decided by voters, effectively removes the last hurdle from making same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey.”

~~ New York Times Oct 21

Christie left unresolved the question of whether he thinks New Jersey voters should allow we gays and lesbians to vote, attend or teach in public school, use the same restroom facilities as “normal” New Jersey voters, own property, or be counted as whole persons for the purpose of the lawful census.

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Michele Bachmann, Immoral and Disgusting?

I’d already had my fill of Bachmann after recent her television gaffes and embarrassingly infantile “rebuttal” of the President’s State of the Union address. I already agreed with most of what the President had to say, but it IS nationally embarrassing when a spokesperson for the loyal opposition makes such an unprincipled hash of principled debate. As concerned Europeans look across the ocean to see how America will handle the largely USA-triggered global financial crisis, when they see creatures like Bachmann announcing for the most powerful executive office in the world, what can they be thinking?

I’d dismissed Bachmann as just another lightweight candidate, but I was wrong there.

Being opposed or strongly opposed to gay marriage is still not specific to just one or more individual candidate or political party. What separates Bachmann from Sarah Palin, that other supermarket tabloid sensation, is the singular intensity of her opposition to gay marriage, gay unions, or anything else to do with gays and lesbians, period.

Not following all the Republican wannabe announcements religiously, I was unaware Bachmann is rabidly homophobic.

From the New York Times comes a Sunday feature article “For Bachmann, Gay Rights Stand Reflects Mix of Issues and Faith” by Sheryl Stolberg. How many things can you find wrong with the following statement?

We will have immediate loss of civil liberties for five million Minnesotans,” Mrs. Bachmann, then a state senator, told a Christian television network as thousands gathered on the steps of the Capitol to rally for a same-sex marriage ban she proposed. “In our public schools, whether they want to or not, they’ll be forced to start teaching that same-sex marriage is equal, that it is normal and that children should try it.”

Off the top, what I come up with is:

  1. Civil liberties allegedly includes the right to deprive others of their civil liberties. Teaching civil rights equality allegedly equals loss of “civil liberties” for people who presently enjoy them.
  2. Schools will allegedly be forced to start teaching equality. Horrors!
  3. Schools will allegedly be forced to start teaching that students should try same-sex marriage. Oh, sure!

For the record, Bachmann seems to actually believe in a homosexual agenda to indoctrinate children into adopting a gay lifestyle — presumably, thereby, swapping sexual identities. Bachmann is said to be a “Christian conservative.”

She stood up as a Christian,” said Bob Battle, pastor of the Berean Church of God in Christ here. “She made her point of view known, and she gave Christians a voice.”

I think it’s time for mainstream Christians to take back the name “Christian,” which has been hijacked by religious conservatives and political bigots hiding behind undebatable religious artifacts. Bachmann may represent the biggest inroad into national politics yet made by prejudiced anti-gay religious fundamentalists, as typified by the homophobic rantings of “God Hates Fags” Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. But she is not the only one.

We live in a time when respected moderates are vilified as evil, unprincipled and indecisive, when people who fly the American Flag are automatically associated with “my country right or wrong” yahoos, and where people who are different, or perhaps go to a different church, are demonized as disgusting and immoral, and xenophobically branded as “threats to freedom.”

It’s time to take back our flag, our symbols and our language of morality. The folks who are truly immoral and disgusting are people who persecute others, people who deprive others of their civil liberties, and people who twist and hijack American principles toward myopic and exclusionary agendas. For my money, that’s Michele Bachmann in a nutshell.

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Perry v. Schwarzenegger

Alex Forbes and Bob Sibley - link to memoriam

1990-2005 forever

When I’ve talked about the wonderful fifteen years I spent with my partner Bob Sibley (Bob passed away of cancer in 2005), that’s just “anecdotal“.

When I’ve written of our own hard-won California State Registered Domestic Partnership (SRDP), and about our legal inability to bind those ties with a contract having the same constitutional force of law as a marriage, that’s just the way things have always been for two hundred and thirty-four years.

The times they are a-changin’. Many believe this is all about state sanction of “approved” sexual orientation, and who may “regulate” that approval. Put that way, it is. All of which inescapably leads to the broader understanding: it’s really about equality and  civil rights.

In Perry v. Schwarzenegger the big legal guns are appearing before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The case is likely to wind up in the Supreme Court.

Once again, this case challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 (which overturned a previous state Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage). Many in the LGBT community are fearful that a defeat in Perry v. Schwarzenegger could upset the applecart – that long, drawn-out slow process of winning full civil and legal equality from the existing reactionary and uncharitable entrenched political establishment.

The prospect of the United States Supreme Court effectively validating gay marriage (as long as Scalia is seated) is universally conceded to be a long shot.

The Perry v. Schwarzenegger defense – the pro-Prop-8 lobby – has filed with the court to prevent live filming of the proceedings.

Decades ago, gays and lesbians mortally feared exposure of their identities by the press. In an ironic reversal, it’s now the anti-gay forces who seek legal shelter from press disclosure.  Perhaps this is the surest sign yet the establishment is on the defensive.

So there’s no guarantee Perry v. Schwarzenegger won’t prove a setback for LGBT civil rights – as some fear.

What has changed over the decades is the new perception of gays and lesbians as the underdogs. Even within the anti-gay lobbies and political action groups,  rank-and-file citizens  increasingly aren’t especially anti-gay at all. They may harbor a certain sympathy for the legal plight of gays and lesbians, but simply aren’t ready for the “marriage” word.

If Perry v. Schwarzenegger fails, this will be understood as further proof that the law still sanctions selective discrimination in the United States. We’re still excluding what’s probably America’s last minority group, a target group which still lacks recognition and standing before the very courts and legislatures sworn to uphold the constitutional rights of all.

Here in La Parola, we’d argued for years that we didn’t care whether it was called “marriage” or “civil union”; we wanted equal rights. Unfortunately, as long as it’s called something else, it’s legally distinguishable from “marriage”, and will suffer from the same old exclusionary discrimination.

One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him. — Booker T. Washington

We need to suck it up and do what we can to save our Liberty Bell. When some citizens are allowed to let rights be dispensed like so many party favors, or a reserved chair in “musical chairs”, we thereby undermine the foundation of  rights for all citizens.

It’s time for all of us to get over the “m” word and eliminate partisan dispensation of constitutional rights to favored groups of American citizens.


No matter where you thought you stood on “gay marriage”, it’s time to brush up on the constitutional issues and new legal developments. We recommend these two postings:

  • A Risky Proposal – by Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker
  • Perry v. Schwarzenegger – Wikipedia briefing
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    NJ Senate defeats gay marriage bill

    New Jersey gay rights activists said: we want the same constitutional protections as everybody else. We’re United States citizens seeking legal classification as United States citizens. We want legal recognition of our permanent partnerships.

    A majority of New Jersey’s state senators said: “Oh no you don’t.”

    The AP news release follows.

    NJ Senate defeats gay marriage bill; NJ gay marriage law unlikely in near future

    01-07-2010 03:00 PM MST
    TRENTON, N.J. (Associated Press) —

    New Jersey’s state Senate has defeated a bill to legalize gay marriage, leaving it unlikely the state will have a gay marriage law in the very near future.

    The bill needed 21 votes to pass; only 14 senators approved the measure Thursday.

    Gay rights advocates had pushed hard to get the bill passed before Jan. 19, when Republican Chris Christie becomes governor. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine promised to sign the bill if approved by the Legislature but Christie has said he would veto it.

    New Jersey offers civil unions that grant the legal rights of marriage to gay couples. Five states _ Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont _ allow gay marriage.

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    Catholic Bishops Meeting

    Mrs. Perez, of the same street address on another street in Phoenix, did not get her July 2 edition of the Catholic Sun, a local paper that keeps church members up to date on what’s new in the Catholic world. I know Mrs. Perez didn’t get her Sun, because the Post Office mis-delivered it to my house.

    I’m not Catholic, and I was sorting through three weeks of delivered mail, so I almost chucked it. But you never know what pearls you’ll find in the local rags, so I checked it out.

    Sure enough, Catholic bishops held their annual UCCBS meeting in San Antonio June 17-19. They could not agree on a number of topics, mostly liturgical stuff, but voted to urge reform of our US immigation laws. Apparently they want more humane policies for non-citizens while maintaining the ban on illegal immigration.

    They also heard from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, of Lousiville Kentucky, who heads the ad hoc committee on Defense of Marriage. What a surprise! Apparently they want less humane policies for Americans citizens in the LGBT community while maintaining the ban on gay marriage.

    With six states now recognizing same-sex unions in one form or another, the committee is concerned. They focused on four key points in their report:

    — That marriage is inherently related to sexual differences and the complementarity of men and women.

    — That marriage is for the good of children, who are themselves “a great good of marriage.”

    — That marriage is a unique bond reserved to men and women by nature.

    — That same-sex marriage has negative effects on religious rights.

    This last one is the reason for this post; it’s the only one I hadn’t heard before. What “religious rights” are we talking about, exactly? Are we to assume our right to equal protection for same-sex unions under the law is an infringment of Catholics’ rights to prevent us from doing so?

    I found no explanation. Just thought you’d want to know.

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    Miss USA Contestant Flunks Gay Marriage Question

    When Carrie Prejean was asked for her views on gay marriage in the Miss USA beauty pageant, she answered that she believes marriage is “between a man and a woman”. 

    Prejean is currently Miss California. She was the acknowledged  frontrunner in the USA pageant – until that question. The question was asked by pageant judge Perez Hilton, said to be a “celebrity blogger”. Read about it in the BBC post if you haven’t already.

    To be honest, my first reaction was, “serves her right.”

    Hilton said he had been “floored” by Ms Prejean’s answer, which, he said, “alienated millions of gay and lesbian Americans, their families and their supporters”.

    He told ABC News: “She lost it because of that question. She was definitely the front-runner before that.”

    Just a minute here … how is that supposed to work? Supposing her answer to the same question had been “I’m definitely for it” — and the judge had been an evangelical religious fundamentalist? Are the social and political views of a beauty content contestant even relevant? How would you react  if  the first question pitched to you in a job interview was, “who did you vote for in 2008?”

    To her credit, Prejean answered honestly. The country is still divided almost 50%-50% on this issue; it’s not as if  the Holocaust denial of Iran’s Ahmadinejad was on the table.

    Gays and lesbians will ultimately win on this equal rights issue. But not that way.

    I don’t give a hoot for beauty contests in the first place. I tend to agree with those who say they’re demeaning because they reinforce negative sexual stereotypes.

    But what do you think about dragging social and political issues into such contests?

    Should Prejean’s win or loss have hung on this one question? Was Hilton fair to set her up for this question, and then nail her when he didn’t agree with her position? Should such questions be asked at all?

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    Same-Sex Marriage: Ready or Not

    The 30-second radio spot introduces San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, rolling out same-sex marriage in The City in 2004:

    “It is going to happen now, whether you like it or not.”

    This is emotional stuff. Nobody likes to see the opposition viewpoint forced down their throat. And I can’t leave it alone, because the radio spot ticks me off. Newsom’s boast was immature, ill-advised and off-topic. Perhaps he doesn’t understand the issue himself.

    The California State Supreme Court this year ruled unconstitutional Prop 22, the 2000 anti-gay initiative that seemingly squashed same-sex marriage in this state.

    The radio spot promotes Proposition 8, which is basically Prop 22 back for another try. Proposition 8 is backed by such telltale groups as “California Family Council”, Boy Scouts of America and “Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays”, with a coat-tail following of dissident school board members, doctors and Knights of Columbus.

    Their response: “we don’t have to stand for this.”

    Our response: au contraire, yes, we think you do.

    It’s not about whether you think same-sex marriage agrees with your personal vision of marriage. We simply can’t exclude a single group of people from an essential and fundamental right everyone else enjoys:  to marry the one you love.  That’s a right guaranteed to all other Americans, with good reason.

    If Proposition 8 should happen to win, that doesn’t make it any more constitutional. A victory would not be likely to last long enough to actually amend the California Constitution, because it’s discriminatory and just plain wrong, and threatens basic rights belonging to all of us, whether we agree with same-sex marriage or not. That’s why so many citizens and lawmakers are voting against Proposition 8 even though they don’t really support same-sex marriage.

    UPDATE 10-27-2008

    The California Teacher’s Association released a “contra” radio spot pointing out that Proposition 8 has nothing to do with education, rebutting the untrue pro-8 scare tactic that “like Massachusetts”, California kids would be taught about “gay marriage” in the second grade. In California, there is no requirement that kids be taught anything about marriage.

    Moreover, the CTA spoke up for the core issue here, that Proposition 8 rescinds a basic constitutional right, thus threatening everybody’s rights.They affirmed that no matter what our view on marriage may be, Proposition 8 is a bad and dangerous idea and should be voted down.

    Proposition 8 isn’t simply unjust, vindictively discriminatory legislation aimed at just one minority group. It’s really, really bad citizenship.

    UPDATE 10-29-2008: transparency without crediblity

    tHEY’RE baaaacK! Anti-gay Prop 8 backers are back with a new rebuttal: yes, they say, California students WILL be taught about same-sex marriage unless same-sex marriage is rescinded in California.

    So, it’s official: they want to rescind a basic right for a minority of Americans in California, so that kids can’t be taught that “equal protection” really means “equal”?

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    Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

    California’s Proposition 8 would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry by changing the state Constitution to read, “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

    Earlier this year, the California State Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional “Proposition 22”, a 2000 referendum that banned same-sex marriage.

    Proposition 8 backers are running heavy, emotional  radio advertising spots  claiming the Supreme Court ruling forces people to “accept gay marriage” whether they approve of it or not.

    This is a lie. It’s the worst kind of fascist hogwash. No one is forced to “accept” anything of which they disapprove. The question is, can the ballot be used to deprive others of civil liberties?

    I won’t be the first to point it out, but I don’t want to be the last: the court is only saying that religious groups  do not have the legal authority to eliminate the rights of one group to a civil liberty  that is legal for all other Californians.

    Proponents also  offer other untruthes and red herrings. They say the current law will force Californians not only to tolerate gay lifestyles, but to face mandatory “compliance”. They say that school children will be taught that “same sex marriage is the same as traditional marriage”. Neither of these statements is true.

    Proposition 8 propaganda also argues unconvincingly that it’s not about attacking gay couples, and asserts that same-sex couples already have California’s domestic partner law.

    As we’ve previously documented on this site, the domestic partner law is a feel-good law with no teeth and no specificity. Banks, creditors, merchants, courts and even the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) have no idea what they’re supposed to do when presented with a State Registered Domestic Partner certificate. Even the California DMV said sweetly, “we don’t need to see that.” This nice law and its nice certificate aren’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

    We all know many people who feel uncomfortable with the idea of “gay marriage”. In some cases, they’re basing it on tradition; in others, on religious teaching. In many cases, people just feel uncomfortable about gays. We are told to “protect traditional marriage”.

    Who has ever met a man or woman who personally admitted their own marriage is threatened by the possibility of a same-sex couple getting married somewhere in the United States?

    So, what if a citizen is genuinely morally opposed to gays and same-sex marriage? What are they supposed to do, vote against Proposition 8?

    We’re going to go  the extra mile, suggesting they consider doing exactly that.

    When rights are subject to ballot approval, they are also subject to revocation. Obviously, many voters who are still confused about “rights” may still think the referendum process can be used to ban some rights of other groups. But no one can ever convincingly argue that it is OK to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, while claiming it’s unconstitutional to ban the ownership of firearms — just for example.

    If most members of your church are opposed to same-sex marriage, then OK, your church is not ready to perform that private ceremony. And it may never be. But when it comes to civil liberties, we need to recognize that outlawing rights for groups we just don’t happen to like is morally wrong.

    If the morality of non-discrimination seems too abstract, consider that a vote for Proposition 8 is a vote to undermine the foundation of your own civil liberties as well.

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    I’m Voting Obama in 2008

    Telling the LGBT community why I’m voting for Obama is like preaching to the choir.

    This full editorial essay appears in our Commentary Department. Why? It contains political, economic and historical analysis of the Republican Party. It contains strong opinion on why the best candidate the Republicans have to offer is not nearly good enough, by any measure. It also contains comment and anecdotes showing why no economic model or reform can truly succeed unless it’s based on a strong platform of equal access and equal civil rights for all Americans.

    Many of us have been raised conservative and tried to win inclusion in an exclusionary Republican process that promises freedom at the price of sacrifice. No matter what you think you know about the parties, this is not the year to vote for a stale rehash of eight years of Republican administration. It’s too late for that.

    The Republican Party needs to reinvent itself, but we cannot wait. In the last 50 years, the economic roles of the two major parties appears to have flip-flopped almost diametrically. I think Obama is the better candidate, I think the Democrats have the better platform, I think the gay and lesbian community stands the best chance of not losing rights we’ve already gained if we elect a Democratic administration, and I’m voting for Obama.

    For the full editorial essay, see the Commentary Page “Why I’m Voting for Barack Obama in 2008.”

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    California Domestic Partnership Act (continued)

    In my earlier article of October 25 2005 on this topic, I concluded:

    In conclusion: “In general, what rights does the Act provide for Domestic Partners?”

    Nobody knows exactly what rights and responsibilities we do have, including us.

    This is just a followup to share what I have experienced so far. It’s not pretty. My partner Bob passed away a few days after that article was posted. We ran out of time and never formed a Trust. As executor of his estate, a number of incidents have provided a rude awakening to what domestic partners might expect in the current civil rights climate.

  • Cox Communications, our Phoenix-based cable and internet provider, demanded that I come down to their business office with a death certificate before they would allow me to take over the billing – even though I had been making the payments for a year.
  • Wells Fargo, our CA-based bank, imposed no problems at all in allowing me to take over the banking. But, they were not interested in the CA Domestic Partnership filing and didn’t even photocopy it. They worked from the Death Certificate and a copy of the will.
  • Farmers and California AAA treated the auto insurance as a simple matter of canceling old policies and issuing new ones. They did not need to see any forms.
  • State of CA DMV (Motor Vehicles) did not need to see any forms to re-register Bob’s car. A simple signed statement formed the legal basis for the transfer.
  • Capital One – the heavy TV credit card advertiser – billed Bob’s zero-balance card for a $24 annual renewal membership fee. As executor I wrote them with a copy of the Death Certificate. They responded that the account could not be closed until the fee was paid (even though the “member” was deceased).
  • California Casualty actually got indignant when I asked to take over our renter’s insurance policy. They extended my coverage for one month to give me time to find a new carrier – and never asked if I would be interested in becoming a paying customer.
  • Protection One, our central burglar alarm company, suggested I write their home office about switching billing and accountholder information to my own name. They requested that I include a copy of the Death Certificate and CA Domestic Partnership filing. Their home office is in Kansas. The result was that they canceled the old account, leaving our Phoenix home unprotected, and in no way acknowledged my letter or interest in remaining a customer.
  • For domestic partners, it would seem the most practical course of action (when possible) is to treat the cancelation of the old service completely separate from resuming coverage as a new customer. However, we often need 100% continuous service and I have no good advice here. I have not tackled the phone companies that were in Bob’s name, as I need for those numbers to remain the same. Switching carriers and taking the old number with me is probably the way to go.

    I suspect that in most cases the underlying problem is both a mix of employee attitudes and confusion in corporate legal departments as to exactly what is expected of them – if anything. The California law is only of the very most limited utility when doing business in the state, and outside of California, both your domestic partnership status and any filing you may have are utterly worthless. If you were thinking that businesses will do almost anything to retain our business, think again. Most of the ones I have dealt with would seem just as happy if I would just go away.

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