Archive for LGBT issues

For those growing up in the 1960s, Eddie Haskell from the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” was our archetype for the conniving, two-faced schemer. Superficially polite — over-polite — when parents were present, he dropped the facade and became his true, devious self whenever the adults left the room. IIRC, at the end of one episode, Eddie gets his comeuppance. As he is led away, he is still working his Mr. Innocent routine, mystified that it seems not to be sparing him punishment. Wally Cleaver turns to his little brother and observes, “Everybody’s wise to Eddie except Eddie.”

It’s not a new observation that conservative politics often exhibits the same public/private, two-faced quality. This week’s sideshow in Indiana over its Religious Freedom Restoration Act bought Eddie to mind again. Protestations that the bill meant to protect religious practice rather than license discrimination were just as transparent.

In the sitcom, Ward and June Cleaver always play along with Eddie’s innocent act, never confronting him about being a fraud, and tacitly encouraging him to keep lying. In real life, don’t our Wards and Junes of the press do the same?

A radio newscast last night reported that RFRA supporters in Indiana complained that the changes made to the law yesterday under national pressure had stripped the law of its religious protections. That is, the right of business owners to use their religious belief to discriminate against customers.

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Indiana In Damage Control Mode

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Watch the guy from the Heritage Foundation. Just watch.

Gov. Mike Pence and Indiana are in full damage control mode. The Indianapolis Star this morning calls for Pence and the legislature to pass clear, unambiguous anti-discrimination legislation and/or to scrap its Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

Why not simply repeal RFRA? First, it appears to be politically unacceptable for the governor and many Republican lawmakers.

Second, there are Hoosiers who support RFRA out of a genuine desire to protect religious freedom. To safeguard that essential freedom, 19 states and the federal government have adopted RFRA laws, largely without controversy. But states like Illinois not only protect religious freedom through RFRA but also provide gay and lesbian residents with protected legal status.

Third, repeal might get rid of the heat but it would not do what is most important – to move the state forward.

They might have thought of that beforehand. Think Progress explains what makes Indiana’s law different from other states’ laws.

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Treachery with a smile on its face

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The Bush administration’s infamous torture memos were not the first legal documents to use the color of law to whitewash moral obscenities. Jim Crow had etched that tradition deep into the national culture over a century earlier.

Jim Crow may be gone, but the tradition persists in the branding of legal initiatives that purport to do one thing but in fact do the opposite. And in laws advertised as defending one American principle while violating others. And in using the color of law, as Bush and Cheney did, to justify the illegal and the immoral. Whether it is “election integrity” measures meant to limit ballot access or “religious freedom” as justification for discrimination, treachery with a smile on its face has become standard operating procedure where many of this country’s laws are made.

Like a wicked, little boy who stomps a cat’s tail then smiles sweetly — Who, me? — lawmakers figure you can fool some of the people some of the time with such legislation. Then they dare us to stop them.

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act isn’t the first of the new, flag-draped attempts at putting “those people,” however defined, back in their places. But it is egregious enough that prominent people are calling bullshit.

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Twisted in Tacoma

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You know, in an alternate timeline we might chalk up this kind of attacker to congenital misogyny, inappropriate toilet training, or just being a horrifically twisted excuse for a human being:

Police in Tacoma were searching for a suspect who allegedly attacked a lesbian woman by stabbing her and writing homophobic slurs on her body.

It was late. She was looking for her lost dog.

“He ran up behind me and he said something like why don’t I sound like a boy, that I look like a boy,” she recalled. “And that’s when it started.”

“Are you a dyke?” she said the man asked. “God hates fags.”

Chris told Tacoma police that the man stabbed her in the breast, jaw, left forearm and left thigh with a pocketknife. Police said that the suspect then stripped away her clothes, and wrote “dyke” on her buttocks and back.

But in this timeline, we could just as easily blame the suspect’s religion and ask Congress to authorize airstrikes.

The terrorist is still at large.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : LGBT issues, News
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A simple matter of law, justice and dignity

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WE DO Campaign, Mobile, Alabama. January 2013

“This is a simple matter of law, justice and dignity,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of North Carolina-based Campaign for Southern Equality in a web statement. “Our fundamental hope is that LGBT people and families would be treated equal under the law and in the social fabric of the South,” she told the International Business Times.

Beach-Ferrara reacted to the refusal of some probate judges in Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday to deny Alabama’s request to delay a federal judge’s ruling that green-lighted the marriages in Alabama. The court is set to rule later this year on whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage:

Many of the state’s 68 probate judges mounted their resistance to the federal decision at the urging of the firebrand chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore. He is best known for refusing more than a decade ago to comply with a court order to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court’s offices.

In Mobile, about 10 gay couples who had expected to be granted licenses first thing in the morning found the marriage-license window closed indefinitely.

Several legal scholars observed that Moore may be within his authority, technically, saying the injunction only prevents the state’s executive branch from enforcing Alabama’s same-sex marriage amendment:

In two memos, one on February 3 and the second on February 8, Moore wrote that probate judges aren’t bound by the injunctions. In the first memo, he said that probate judges aren’t required to defer to the district court’s reasoning—essentially leaving it up to them to decide. In the second, he changed his mind, and ordered probate judges to disobey it “to ensure the orderly administration of justice.”

“Roy Moore got it right,” wrote Florida law professor Howard Wasserman on the Prawfsblawg legal blog last week. “And without bigoted or anti-federal rhetoric.” Probate judges are not covered by the injunction, and Moore is within his rights as head of the judicial branch.

At the U.S. Supreme Court, justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Thomas wrote, “I would have shown the people of Alabama the respect they deserve and preserved the status quo while the Court resolves this important constitutional question.”

I wonder if Thomas would have felt the same in 1963?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : LGBT issues, National, News
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The Other is marrying

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It seems marriage equality is still on the move, scoring victories Wednesday in Kansas and South Carolina:

Gay marriage advocates won another two victories on Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Kansas to become the 33rd U.S. state where same-sex couples can wed and a federal judge struck down South Carolina’s ban.

The high court declined a request from Kansas officials to block U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree’s Nov. 4 ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

And, by the way, a hearing on marriage equality Wednesday in Mississippi. From Aaron Sarver at Campaign for Southern Equality just last night:

After 6 hours in federal court today, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves concluded the hearing in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant by stating he would rule “as soon as possible” in the case.

We’re hopeful that a ruling striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage will indeed come soon.

All this rush of inclusion has a darker counterpoint. JT Eberhard writes at the WWJTDo blog about the reaction to a letter in the local paper:

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WE DO Campaign in Asheville on October 15

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This fall, we are traveling North Carolina with the WE DO Campaign, standing with LGBT couples as they request marriage licenses in their home counties. We are actively seeking a Register of Deeds who will issue a marriage license as an act of conscience.

Our tour is bringing us home to Asheville next week, as we join local LGBT couples at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 15. This will mark the fourth time that Carol McCrory and Brenda Clark have requested a license. Together for 25 years, Brenda and Carol have said they will keep going to the counter until they are served. We’d love to have supporters stand with them and other couples. Come to a Family Dinner on Monday to learn more and get trained for Tuesday’s action:

When: Monday, 10/14 | 6 – 7:30 PM

Where: Friendship Hall, First Congregational UCC, 20 Oak Street, Asheville


Note: Please bring a dish or beverage


Mary and Carole kiss after requesting a marriage license in Henderson County


So far this fall, we’ve been in Madison, Forsyth, Guilford, Henderson and Mecklenburg Counties. In Henderson County, Mary and Carole (pictured here) requested a license after 40 years together; they were denied, but, surrounded by 80 supporters, sent a powerful message that people are calling for full LGBT equality in Henderson County. Read about our action earlier this week in Charlotte here. Upcoming WE DO actions are scheduled for:

  • October 15: Buncombe County
  • November 1: Transylvania County
  • November 4: Cabarrus County
  • November 22: Rowan County


- Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara
Executive Director, Campaign for Southern Equality

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Tomorrow, we will stand with Amanda and Loraine as they ask the Madison County Register of Deeds to issue them a marriage license. With this action, they will be launching a new stage of the WE DO Campaign. In this stage, we are actively seeking a local elected official in the South who is ready to issue a LGBT couple a marriage license because it is the right thing to do. We will be traveling across North Carolina, standing with couples as they seek licenses in person. Couples across the South – from Texas to Alabama – are also writing to their local officials to ask if they will issue a license. We’re taking these actions because we believe that laws like Amendment One are unconstitutional and immoral. We believe it’s time to stand up to such laws in new ways.

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That’s exactly what’s happening in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where Register of Wills Mr. Bruce Hanes began issuing licenses to same-sex couples a month ago. He believes that the Pennsylvania state law banning same-sex marriage  is unconstitutional and that enforcing it is inconsistent with his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. History tells us similar stories – of public officials and leaders who reached a point where they could no longer in good conscience enforce discriminatory laws. Will an elected official in the South stand up in this way? We’re going to keep asking the question and keep taking action to resist laws we know to be discriminatory.

Each elected official we ask to stand with us has a personal choice to make. Whatever their choice, we are committed to treating them with love and empathy. In an era of bitter partisan divides, we have a chance – and, I would say, an obligation – to treat each other differently. All of our work is based on empathic resistance, an ethic that calls for us to make two commitments as we seek equality. First, it calls for us to resist discriminatory laws by expressing who we truly are in public life. Second, it calls for us to express empathy – a recognition of the other’s humanity – in the very moments in which our humanity is denied. Sometimes it is hard to live this ethic out, but if we are seeking recognition of our love, we must also act with love.

That’s what Amanda and Loraine will be doing tomorrow. I’d invite you to read the letter that Amanda wrote to the Madison County Register of Deeds about why she wants to marry Loraine and have their marriage recognized in North Carolina. Her words made me stop in my tracks because they capture so much about what it is to be a LGBT person in the South, and what it means to ask others to stand with us.

Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing updates about what happens at the counter on our Facebook page and through Twitter.

WE DO Marriage Equality Campaign Visits Mississippi

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Tupelo, MS: The Campaign for Southern Equality wrapped up its week-long “WE DO” marriage equality tour through Mississippi in Tupelo on Thursday. CSE visited five Mississippi cities where local gay and lesbian couples applied for marriage licenses knowing they would be turned down, as they were in Tupelo. As they are everywhere CSE goes.

The WE DO campaign puts faces and names to the struggle for marriage equality with an effort designed to garner local media coverage. Opponents easily dismiss “the gay agenda.” But when the local news interviews WE DO couples, dismissing neighbors as “other” becomes more difficult. “It’s hard for them to hate you when they know you,” says Kevin (married to Daniel in Vermont) in a local Special Report.

Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have highlighted past WE DO campaigns. Last Sunday, CSE’s visit to Mississippi made the front page of the Boston Globe’s Sunday edition, in a report from Poplarville, MS.

The exchange lasted all of 15 minutes. But it seemed an eternity for the young couple who had walkedup the courthouse steps, hands tightly joined, to request a marriage license in this rural southern town.

“Male applicant would be?” asked the clerk with the highlighted bouffant as she peered over her reading glasses at the pair standing on the other side of the counter.

Kristen Welch lifted her chin and declared the obvious: “Neither of us.”

Tupelo, where the the swing through Mississippi concluded, is just miles from the headquarters of the American Family Association. The conservative group took umbrage at CSE’s efforts “to induce pity” for LGBT couples. In its press release, the American Family Association accused CSE, LGBT “and queer couples” demanding marriage equality of “a flagrant disrespect for the democratic process.” Also, for using “deceitful tactics” in claiming a lack of marriage equality for LGBT Americans. By which AFA means homosexuals have the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex as everyone else in America.

(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)

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WE DO Campaign: Across Mississippi right now

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I’m writing from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where we just wrapped up a WE DO Campaign action in which six area LGBT couples requested – and were denied – marriage licenses. This is the third action we’ve done in Mississippi this week and this new video tells the story of Jenna and Kristen’s requesting a license in Poplarville, Miss. earlier this week:

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We’re posting daily updates on the Campaign for Southern Equality’s Facebook page and Twitter feed and invite you to follow this story as we continue on to Jackson and Tupelo for more actions and more free legal clinics next week.

– Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Executive Director, Campaign for Southern Equality

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