Recent Comments

    National and Local News Map

    Compiled and with commentary by Dennis McMillan

    Juneau, AK – Alaska Will Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples – 10.13

    Alaska will begin accepting marriage applications from same-sex couples after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage – the nation’s first such prohibition approved by voters.

    The decision caught many people off guard. No rallies were immediately planned, but some plaintiffs celebrated over drinks at an Anchorage bar.

    Matthew Hamby, with his husband Christopher Shelden, was one of five couples to sue. Hamby said he was “elated” U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess sided with them, and he planned to be among the first in line to apply for a license.

    Another couple, Susan Tow and her wife Chris Laborde, was among those who sought to overturn Alaska’s ban and celebrated the ruling.

    “This is just an amazing day for Alaska,” Tow said. “We’re just so fortunate that so many have fought for equality for so long – I mean, decades.”

    Alaska has a three-day waiting period between applications and marriage ceremonies.

    Sunday’s ruling in Alaska came in a lawsuit brought by five gay couples who asked the state in May to overturn a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998, the first such ban in the nation. The amendment defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.

    The lawsuit sought to bar enforcement of the ban or any state laws that refuse to recognize gay marriages legally performed in other states and countries, or that prevent unmarried gay couples from marrying.

    The judge heard arguments and released his 25-page decision. Burgess said the laws violated gay couples’ due process and equal protection rights.

    In an email, the state said it would appeal Burgess’ ruling.

    “As Alaska’s governor, I have a duty to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution,” Governor Sean Parnell said in a press release. “Although the district court today may have been bound by the recent Ninth Circuit panel opinion, the status of that opinion and the law in general in this area is in flux. I will defend our constitution.”

    Isn’t it amazing how people can claim to defend the constitution – while in reality they are doing just the opposite?!

    Source: edgeonthenet.com 

    Washington, D.C. – Prominent Washington-Area Rabbi Comes Out to Congregation – 10.13

    Gil Steinlauf, the prominent rabbi at one of Washington, D.C.’s most distinguished synagogues, has come out as gay in an e-mail widely circulated throughout his congregation and republished in the Washington Post.

    Steinlauf came to the Adas Israel Congregation in 2008 and is recognized as having been influential in the organization’s efforts to court members of both the progressive and traditional Jewish communities. In 2012, Steinlauf officiated Adas Israel’s first same-sex marriage, an experience that he recounted in an article for The Jewish Journal entitled “The Queerness of Love: A Jewish Case for Same-Sex Marriage.”

    “Today, I am unfazed by the apparent biblical injunction against homosexuality as an ‘abomination,’” he wrote. “It is, in fact, the Jews’ queerness in the world that captures our particular Divine message to all humanity. Love is queer, and in recognizing this, we find its holiness, its Godliness.”

    In the e-mail, Steinlauf described his lifelong struggle with accepting his homosexuality and spoke of the strength he found in his marriage to Batya Steinlauf, his wife and a fellow rabbi herself. The pair met as students at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City and together they had three daughters. While their intentions to divorce are firm, they’ve decided to continue to live together for the time being.

    “What we’ve had for 20 years is very real, and the last thing I’d want is for us to live a lie,” he said of his family.

    Reactions to Steinlauf’s coming out have been supportive. Arnie Podgorsky, president of the synagogue, reached out to the congregation encouraging them to understand the couple’s decision.

    “I have great respect for their ability to face changing circumstances in their lives with honesty and integrity,” he said in a letter. “We can all learn from their example.”

    Well, all I can say is: Mazel tov, Rabbi! Which translates to both “Congratulations!” and “Good luck!”

    Source: towleroad.com 

    Austin, TX – Texas AG Says Same-Sex Marriage Ban Reduces Out-Of-Wedlock Births – 10.13

    Texas Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott says the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is in the state’s interest because it reduces “out-of-wedlock births.”

    In a brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Abbott says legalizing same-sex marriage would do little or nothing to encourage heterosexual couples to get married and have children.

    But, despite that assertion, Abbott tells the court he “is not required to show that recognizing same-sex marriage will undermine heterosexual marriage,” noting that “it is enough if one could rationally speculate that opposite-sex marriages will advance some state interest to a greater extent than same-sex marriages will.”

    “First, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in encouraging couples to produce new offspring, which are needed to ensure economic growth and the survival of the human race,” Abbott wrote.

    “Second, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas’s marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society. Recognizing same-sex marriage does not advance this interest because same-sex unions do not result in pregnancy.”

    Abbott concedes that same-sex marriage might have some positive effects, such as providing a more stable environment for children raised by gay couples. But he said, it’s for the Legislature, not the courts, to decide whether to expand the right to marry.

    Texas’ same-sex marriage ban was struck down by a federal judge last February, but the ruling has been on hold pending appeal.

    Abbott, who is leading the fight against the ruling, said in a gubernatorial debate against Democrat Wendy Davis in Dallas last month that he opposes same-sex marriage because he’s been married to his wife for more than 33 years.

    In the coming months, the 5th Circuit will consider cases from Louisiana and Texas.

    The appeals court, which has jurisdiction over federal courts in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, is one of a handful of circuits that have yet ruled on the issue since the Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government had to recognize marriages performed in states where gay marriage is legal.

    Why in the world is Texas so terribly concerned about what goes on in their bedrooms?

    Source: lgbtqnation.com 

    Lexington, KY – Kentucky Human Rights Commission Dismantles Another Anti-Gay Religious Liberty Story – 10.8

    The Human Rights Commission in Lexington, Kentucky, dismissed the argument that a business could refuse to serve gay customers on First Amendment grounds, ending a years-long conservative campaign to disguise anti-gay discrimination as free speech.

    In March of 2012, the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington (GLSO) filed a complaint against Hands-On Originals, a t-shirt company that refused to print GLSO’s shirts for the Lexington Pride Festival celebration. GLSO argued that the company had violated the city’s Fairness Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    Conservative media outlets rallied to the t-shirt company’s defense, accusing GLSO of trying to “ruin” a Christian business by forcing Hands-On Originals to promote a message it doesn’t agree with. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the legal group representing Hands-On Originals, similarly framed the dispute as a free speech issue, stating that “the Constitution prohibits the government from forcing business owners to promote messages they disagree with.”

    On October 6, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission released its recommended ruling in the dispute, concluding that Hands-On Originals had violated the city’s ordinance. The decision roundly dismissed ADF’s “free speech” arguments:

    “The Respondent argues that Mr. Adamson’s objection to the printing of the t-shirt was not because of the sexual orientation of the members of the GLSO, but because of the Pride Festival’s advocacy of pride in being homosexual. Acceptance of the Respondent’s argument would allow a public accommodation to refuse service to an individual or group of individuals who hold and/or express pride in their status. This would have the absurd result of including persons with disabilities who openly and proudly display their disabilities in the Special Olympics…and persons of differing religions who express pride in their religious beliefs.

    The Fairness Ordinance does not require the Respondent to display any message, and does not require the Respondent to print promotional items including t-shirts. The Fairness only mandates that if the Respondent operates a business as a public accommodation, it cannot discriminate against potential customers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

    The Commission’s decision makes clear that refusing to print a “gay pride” shirt isn’t just expressing disapproval of political message, it’s expressing disapproval of an entire class of people!

    Source: mediamatters.org 

    NYC, NY – GOP Civil War: Huckabee Demands Republicans Oppose Marriage Equality – 10.12

    Fox News host Mike Huckabee advised Republicans to “grow a spine” and oppose marriage equality, blasting court rulings overturning same-sex marriage bans as “the betrayal of our Constitution.”

    During an October 7 interview with the anti-gay American Family Association’s radio program, Huckabee said that he is “utterly exasperated with Republicans … who have abdicated on this issue,” and warned that he might leave the Republican Party and become an independent if the GOP stops fighting marriage equality. The former governor of Arkansas is reportedly considering a run for president in 2016.

    Huckabee reiterated his criticism in the opening monologue of his October 11 Fox News show. Huckabee denounced the court decisions that led to same-sex marriage becoming legal in several more states, emphasizing that judges overruled “the collective votes of the people themselves” in a “betrayal of our Constitution.” He concluded that he is “utterly disgusted” with Republican governors and other officials that complied with the court orders overturning same-sex marriage bans.

    Huckabee quotes Matt Staver of the Liberty Counsel and dean at the Liberty University School of Law: “Our constitutional make-up does not give the minority veto rights over the majority. The major political and social questions of our day have by constitutional design been given to the majority through the legislative process. Continually taking away the right of the majority to shape their culture will ultimately result in rebellion…oligarchy…or government of the few, and it results in tyranny.”

    Huckabee continued that “the biggest issue is the betrayal of our Constitution and the surrender to a small group of unelected black-robed jurists who can’t make law, nor enforce it.”

    “Now, if you believe that men should marry men and women should marry women, then get the people’s representatives to vote for it, the chief executive to sign it, and then have the courts agree with it,” Huckabee continued. “I’m utterly disgusted with fellow Republicans who want to walk away from the issue of judicial supremacy just because it’s politically volatile. Here is my advice: Grow a spine, show a modicum of knowledge about the way we govern ourselves, and lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way.”

    Keep preaching against civil rights, Mike baby, and watch Repugnicans lose in a big way!

    Source: mediamatters.org 

    Local News Briefs

    San Francisco’s 9th Circuit Court Orders Two More States for Marriage Equality

    The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit entered an order on October 13 requiring the State of Idaho to permit same-sex couples to marry beginning on October 15. The court’s order came in response to a request by the plaintiff couples who successfully challenged Idaho’s marriage ban for an order allowing couples to marry as soon as possible.

    Headquartered in San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit is by far the largest of the thirteen courts of appeals, with 29 active judgeships.

    On October 7, the Ninth Circuit ruled 3-0 that Idaho’s ban on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Later that day, the Ninth Circuit ordered that its decision take effect immediately, which would have required Idaho to begin issuing marriage licenses the following morning.

    On October 8, United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily stayed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in response to a request by State of Idaho officials to keep that decision from taking effect while the state officials either ask for further review of the case by a larger panel of Ninth Circuit judges or ask the Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court rejected that request and cleared the way for the Ninth Circuit to enter an order allowing its decision to take effect.

    “At long last, all Idaho families will enjoy the dignity, security, and protection that marriage provides,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon P. Minter. “We thank the brave plaintiff couples who had the courage to challenge these exclusionary laws and congratulate them on this historic victory.”

    This victory is on top of the Ninth Circuit Court’s having invalidated Nevada’s marriage ban as well.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of five marriage equality cases, giving same-sex couples in eleven more states the freedom to marry. This decision impacts the Wyoming case, where four same-sex couples are seeking marriage equality. But Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is refusing to allow loving same-sex couples to marry.

    Today, more states have marriage for same-sex couples than had interracial marriage in 1967, when the Supreme Court brought the country to national resolution in Loving v. Virginia.

    Story by Dennis McMillan

    LGBT Community Center to Tackle State of Affordable Housing for Queer San Franciscans

    The San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s LGBT Advisory Committee (LGBTAC) in partnership with the City’s LGBT Community Center will be hosting a public forum on LGBT Affordable Housing as part of the Center’s Annual LGBTQ Economic Justice Week.

    This important forum will bring together community stakeholders, housing experts, and City representatives to facilitate public discourse surrounding the housing affordability crisis and its impact on the LGBTQ community in San Francisco.

    The event will also feature information on the City’s below market rate (BMR) rental policy as well as how to access and participate in the City’s first-time and inclusionary homeownership programs.

    The panel discussion will be moderated by Bevan Dufty, Director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships, and Engagement (HOPE) and Former District 8 Supervisor.

    Confirmed panelists include: Jeff Buckley, Senior Advisor, Mayor’s Office; Kate Hartly, Deputy Director San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (SF MOHCD); Clair Farley, Associate Director of Economic Development, SF LGBT Community Center; Bill Hirsh, Executive Director, AIDS Legal Referral Panel; Oona Hanawalt & Alison Panko, SF LGBT couple fighting eviction; and Tommi Avicolli Mecca, LGBTQ Economic Justice and Housing Activist.

    The public forum will take place on Monday, October 20 from 6 to 7:30pm at the LGBT Community Center located at 1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. The event is open to the public and free of charge.

    The SF LGBT Community Center’s Bicoastal LGBTQ Economic Justice Week is an annual week long program this year occurring October 19 through October 25, entitled “Beyond Survival.” It is focused on creating a thriving LGBTQ community that has access to stable and equal employment, housing, healthcare, businesses, and beyond.

    Part of Economic Justice Week is the “Kickoff Reception” at The Center, October 21, from 6 to 8pm, and “Town Hall – Why is Economic Justice an LGBTQ Issue?” on October 21 from 12:30pm to 5:30pm. Further information is available at lgbtqweek.sfcenter.org

    Story by Dennis McMillan