Tag Archives: same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage, civil rights

by John Oliver Mason, The Mason Missile, July 4, 2014

Greetings! At last! Pennsylvania has joined the roster of states legalizing same-sex marriage. Originally, the plan was to have the court, and thereby the state, recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states. The federal court, however, took it to the next level.

Bans on same sex marriage are also being challenged in Texas and Utah, traditionally conservative states. There has been the fear raised about how same-sex marriage would change the definition of marriage, that it would lead to marrying farm animals (ridiculous!). But HAS the definition of marriage ALWAYS been one-man, one-women, till death they do part?

In the Torah, we have Abraham marrying Sarah and holding Hagar as a concubine-servant; Jacob conned into marrying Leah, and marrying Rachel after seven more years of work with Laban; Jacob’s wives and concubines together giving birth to Jacob’s sons; David marrying Machal, then lusting after Bathsheba; Solomon with a thousand wives and concubines to seal alliances with neighboring tribes and kingdoms. So, you can’t say “religious values” as a reason for why marriage is a one-man-one-woman thing.

One book that discusses this is Sex At Dawn, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, which chronicles marriage practices among indigenous tribes in Central and South America and in the Pacific; in many tribes marriage and divorce is as simple as leaving and entering the other person’s hut, usually on the initiative of the female; many of these tribes are matriarchal, with much decision-making by the women. In more patriarchal societies, marriage has nothing to do with who loves who, but it is a matter of transferring property and sealing alliances.

Echoes of this is in the new conservative Christian phenomenon of “purity balls,” featured on ABC News; the fathers pledge to protect the sexual “purity” of their daughters and vet any men that go near them. At the “purity ball,” the fathers sign a pledge to watch over the purity of their daughters “as high priest of the home.” The fathers sign it, and it resembles a marriage vow, and they conclude with a “father-daughter” dance. As far as I know, there is no similar ritual that fathers take towards guarding the “purity” of their sons; the sexuality of the young women is thus the property of the father, and it is transferred, via marriage, to the husband.

All this takes place in the anniversary of the Stonewall riot of June 1969, when young Gay men, drag queens, and lesbians sat in a crummy, mob-owned bar and the police came to raid the place and arrest everyone; but, this time, instead of taking the harassment and abuse from the cops, the patrons fought the riot cops for several days, thus starting the current LGBT rights movement.

There was, previous to the Stonewall riot, underground organizing of Gay men and Lesbians; there was the Mattachine Society, called a “homophile” organization, founded in 1950 by Harry Hay, who was a veteran organizer for the Community Party and the CIO; and the lesbian Daughters of Bilitis, founded in 1955 by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. These groups were organized in the 1950s, the time of the Red Scare, the time when “homosexuals” were considered security risks. All this could be seen in the wonderful documentary film Before Stonewall, go rent the DVD; it shows the enormous historical and political “prep work” that went on before the Stonewall incident.

Really, equality doesn’t need the permission of others to happen. But still it has been fought for, usually with blood. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the murder of three young Civil Rights activists–James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman–in June 1964 in Philadelphia, Mississippi, during the “Freedom Summer” campaign to register Black people to vote. They investigated the arson fire at a Black church, were later arrested by the police for “speeding,” and then were handed over to the Ku Klux Klan to be killed.

Later that year, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination in schools, housing, and other facilities. (Voting rights were not included in the bill; it was covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.) But–The Republican party has taken over the tactic of code-worded race-baiting. Not for nothing did Ronald Reagan start his presidential campaign in 1980 in a town near Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney were murdered, and he included the phrase “I believe in states’ rights,” the old war cry of the pre-Civil war-south, as their mantra for enslaving African-Americans.

It is a tribute to the Civil Rights movement–and to the young activists who risked their lives against official and freelance terror in the South–that blatant, public, in-your-face racial slurs are not acceptable in public discourse (which is the basis of the right-wing whine about–I HATE this term–”political correctness,” as if they would fight to the death for the right to scream racial and ethnic slurs). The tactic from then on was exemplified in the “Southern Strategy” of the presidential campaign of Richard Nixon in 1968, to play on racially-motivated fears of “urban crime’ and “welfare loafers.”

After the re-election of Nixon in 1972, it was as if the country had amnesia–all the discussion about Civil Rights and reducing poverty was reduced to cutting needless government spending and kicking the lazy welfare bums off the rolls, and in general reducing the size of so-called “big government”–and including liberating corporations from the burden of regulatory agencies, while consciously not discussing the problems of air and water pollution, occupational safety and health, product safety, financial fraud, to name a few, and trusting in the “free enterprise system” to handle everything, trusting the corporate geniuses (such as Bernie Madoff) running our corporations (such as Enron) to handle everything.

Remember, it was NOT the federal government deciding all of a sudden to implement from on high financial regulation, Civil Rights enforcement, occupational safety laws, consumer safety, etc.; it came from the work of dedicated activists, people like those you go to school and the job with, who worked hard at campaigning for these things-people like Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney, and the other young brave Civil Rights activists of the Freedom Summer of 1964. We may not have to face fire hoses, mean police dogs, even meaner cops, or homicidal Klansmen, but ever time we make a stand, people will join us, and we set an example for future campaigns for freedom-and believe me, the campaign for freedom never ends.

Enjoy your Fourth-bye!

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Filed under Gay & lesbian issues, History, John Mason, Race, Ethnicity, Immigration, Religions, Republican party, Right Wing, Values

Why We Need Federal Law on LGBT Marriage!

Nel’s New Day, September 18, 2013

Since the Supreme Court overturned a part of DOMA, the federal government decided to give all federal benefits to married same-sex couples who live in one of the 13 states and the several other jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C. and six Indian reservations, that have legalized marriage equality. Same-sex couples who live in other areas but who married in one of these states or other areas can get some of the federal benefits, but not all of them. Social Security denies spousal benefits for legally married gay couples who live in one of the 36 states that don’t recognize gay marriage. Legally married same-sex spouses of activity military service members can get the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses, but veterans could not until the Veterans Administration changed its mind, following a federal court ruling.

Confused yet? Let’s talk about the federally-funded National Guard. Gov. Mary Fallin announced that Oklahoma has become the fourth state to block processing the same benefits, such as health care and housing, for legally married same-sex spouses of National Guard members that married opposite-sex spouses receive. In so doing, Oklahoma followed Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

In Oklahoma, however, the National Guard was already processing requests from same-sex couples, according to Oklahoma National Guard spokesman Col. Max Moss. Earlier this summer, they indicated that they were following federal law on benefits applications after the Pentagon issued the directive mandating the same benefits for all legally married couples….

continue reading at Nel’s New Day

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Court Cases in Pennsylvania: Good vs Evil

by DocJess, Democratic Convention Watch, 8/1/13

Two interesting happenings in the courts of Pennsylvania this week. Both of them relate directly to Tom Corbett and show him to be the kind of person dedicated to personal gain and opposed to human rights. What a governor….

Certainly you remember the Jerry Sandusky case: the coach who was abusing young boys for years and is now in prison for life. When pedophiles are brought to light, it is the obligation of those in charge to DO SOMETHING to prevent further abuse. Tom Corbett, as Attorney General, chose not to, and instead to take $640,000 from Sandusky for his gubernatorial campaign coffers. He’s not being charged, yet, but the three men who oversaw Jerry Sandusky are now going to trial. Former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz, and Penn State ex-athletic director Tim Curley are charged with knowing about Sandusky’s abuse, not reporting it to police, and then lying about it to the Grand Jury. Specifically, perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to properly report suspected abuse and conspiracy.

My guess is that Corbett’s complicity will come up at some point. And probably someone will end up mentioning that he’s up there with Bob McDonnell for turning the governor’s mansion into a pay-to-play site. Read this.

So, in the battle of good vs evil, we have a bunch of powerful men putting their own institutions (Penn State and the Pennsylvania Legal System) ahead of the protection of young boys. EVIL.

In the other court case, the Pennsylvania Board of Health is suing Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes. Hanes is the man in charge of issuing marriage licenses. In light of the recent Supreme Court decision, he started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples: 34 of them so far.

I know, you don’t understand what the Register of Wills and the Health Department have to do with marriage licenses. This is Pennsylvania, and we’re weird. For example, my mailing address has a zip code that includes part of 3 counties, and is different from my actual township. If I had a landline, it would be in yet another town. In addition, Pennsylvania is one of the only states in the country that does not have a gay marriage or civil union law, and also doesn’t have a constitutional ban on marriage equality. Marriage licenses come from the Register of Wills, which is a county position, and the State Health Department oversees, among other things, marriage and death certificates.

The Attorney General’s office, headed by Kathleen Kane, is refusing to defend the state against the ACLU suit related to the ban on gay marriage. She won’t touch this, either. Under PA law, the Health Department is allowed to sue in Commonwealth Court because marriage licenses are a civil, not criminal, matter. That’s why it’s a suit in lieu of a criminal action.

Further, the Health Department is an arm of the Executive Branch, and Corbett wants to defend against both the ACLU suit, and anything that would allow gay people to marry. Because, again, he’s against civil rights and human rights, and basic moral decency. EVIL.

On the up side, Jerry Sandusky is in jail where he can’t hurt any more boys, and he’s never getting out. Spanier, Schultz and Curley will likely join him there in a year or two. It’s not out of the realm that Corbett will end up an indicted co-conspirator one of these days on either this charge or something else…so many choices. In the end, the PA DOMA law will be struck down, and the Montco marriage licenses will stand, and will end up issued in all the other counties, too. GOOD!

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Filed under Gay & lesbian issues, Jessica Weingarten, PA govt & politics

We’re Going to The Supreme Court! The Supreme Court Takes Review of DOMA and Prop 8!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project, 12/7/12

This is it – the Supreme Court marriage moment that the ACLU has been working towards for years. The Court announced today that it has granted review of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in Edie Windsor’s case. The Court also took review of California’s Prop 8, so the full range of marriage issues will now be before the high court. These cases are poised not just to take down DOMA and Prop 8, but to be the next building blocks for LGBT equality more broadly.

The Windsor and Perry rulings, expected in June 2013, will be a watershed moment if our side wins either one.

Here’s why these cases are so important:

* Ending explicit federal discrimination. DOMA requires the federal government to discriminate against married same-sex couples by treating them as legal strangers for purposes of all federal statutes and programs. There are approximately 120,000 married same-sex couples in the U.S. today, and DOMA treats all of them as single in each of the 1,100+ places in the federal code where being married makes a difference – from eligibility for family medical leave, to social security survivor’s benefits, to access to health care for a spouse. It’s the last explicit federal declaration that gay people are inferior, which is reason enough to get rid of it.

* Heightened scrutiny in the balance. The Windsor ruling from the federal appeals court announced an important new protection for LGB people – “heightened scrutiny” by the courts. Under this standard, courts will presume that anti-gay discrimination by the government is unconstitutional and will require the government to have a good explanation for why it needs to treat us badly. Courts have usually applied a much less rigorous standard that often allows the government to discriminate against lesbians and gay men. While DOMA and Prop 8 should fail under any standard, if the Supreme Court adopts the heightened scrutiny standard, it would help eliminate anti-gay discrimination in many different contexts, from the workplace, to state parenting laws, to public schools across the country.

* Showing the country that discrimination in marriage is wrong. Both Windsor and Perry make profound contributions to the public’s understanding of the freedom to marry. Edie’s story resonates because her relationship with Thea exemplifies what many people think marriage is all about – making a commitment to another person and sticking with it through difficult times. When two people make the commitment that’s at the heart of marriage, it’s profoundly unfair for the government to treat them as though they’re not a family. The evidence presented at the Prop 8 trial helped the country see how baseless are the many anti-gay stereotypes that are at the core of our opponents’ arguments. And having prominent conservatives like Ted Olson champion this cause gets a big chunk of America to take another look. Once they do, many realize they don’t really have a problem with same-sex couples tying the knot.

The two cases both involve marriage for gay couples, but they actually present quite distinct issues. Edie Windsor is already married – she just wants to stop the federal government from treating her marriage different from everyone else’s marriages. The plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case, on the other hand, want to get married….

continue reading at ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project

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