Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mitt Amidst His Own

Last night in Stamford, Connecticut, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney verbally danced before 600 Republicans. The titular event was the annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner. The real event was a practice POTUS-candidate speech.

It is the state GOP's biggest fundraiser, but it was poorly attended. In fairness to our big-haired guy, this was right before a long holiday weekend. Also, last year's was even worse, maybe because the outgoing governor (John Rowland) was in disgrace.

This time, the honoree, Jennifer Blei Stockman, who is the national co-chair of the abortion-rights group Republican Majority for Choice. That didn't play too well with many who might have attended. Mitt worked that theme before his speech, but avoided messy connections like his own state's same-sex marriages.

To hear him, he was always anti-abortion. He spoke in loaded terms, both of embryo farming and sanctity of life – this from someone who elsewhere pitches himself as a social moderate. Was there something in the air that suddenly switched him into conservative mode?

His half-hour speech got a middling review from the Stamford Advocate. The Hartford Courant dwelt mostly on the sour politics surrounding Gov. M. Jodi Rell's reign. While she is a Republican, she does not play toady to the rich as much as many former governors. For example, she signed a law that taxes gifts and estates worth over $2 million, if you can imagine not letting the rich passing their wealth directly to their kiddies!

This was a tune-up for Romney. However, he'll have to do better than pretending to be highly accomplished when he doesn't have accomplishments to back it up. He'll also have to prepare to bring up same-sex marriage and his LDS background. The country associates him quite fairly with both of those, both are unusual to most Americans, and the campaign trail will not be one right-wing fundraiser haven after another.

Partners Win One in California

It's not about justice or fairness or humanity. Rather, it is about spite.

Even though the California Supreme court gave a victory to domestic partners, the nasties will not let it rest. The odious coupling of the Campaign for California Families and the Liberty Counsel got knocked down again yesterday, but the voter ballot initiatives continue. The state's highest court refused to hear an appeal to a lower-court finding that the domestic-partner law stands.

The short background is that since January 1st, the state has had a middling domestic-partner law. It lets gay couples who live together and register have minimal benefits. They do not get the right to community property, joint tax filing, nor any federal benefits such as social security, Medicare, federal housing, food stamps, veterans'’ benefits, military benefits, and federal employment benefit laws.

It is the wording of the law that seems to rile the anti-gay folk. Part of Family Code 297.5 reads:
Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law . . . as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.
This makes the haters drag out their dirty flag of marriage-in-all-but-name. Of course, this clearly is not, and if it were, that would be better, wouldn't it?

Note: Two following references to legal papers bring up PDF documents. You need an Adobe Acrobat compatible reader to view or print them. The suit filing is 61 pages and the court ruling 26.

The suit to overturn this law hinged on a narrow point, that the DoMA-style Proposition 22 forbids any accommodation of same-sex couples. The Appeals Court ruling told them to take a hike, or in more legal terms, "Contrary to petitioners'’ suggestion, the Legislature has not created a 'marriage' by another name or granted domestic partners a status equivalent to married spouses."

The initial AP report on the lower-court findings is here.

As the San Francisco Chronicle recap on yesterday's development notes:
The court action ends the legal case, but may not resolve the issue. Three proposed ballot initiatives that would amend the state Constitution to prohibit both same-sex marriage and marital benefits for domestic partners have been submitted to state officials for review, said Geoff Kors, executive director of the gay-rights group Equality Now. The initiatives could be cleared for signature-gathering by August and qualify for the state ballot next year.
More's the pity. Such anti-gay sorts are like a tick in the ear. They just don't want to stop until they get what they came for.

Spain Edges Canada

In a sudden move, the parliament voted same-sex marriage as law yesterday, 187 to 147. This makes it the third country to legalize such unions.

While Canada's House of Commons passed its version earlier, the arcane formalities of Senate approval and the Queen's signature means its law won't be final until later this year.

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero concluded, "We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Same-Sex Marriage Documentary Recap

Check out Massresistance Watch's report on the Showtime same-sex marriage special. It was great for me. I'm not a TV guy and only see cable at someone else's house. So, this overview was very useful. I almost felt plugged into the popular culture.

You should also snoop around his blog. He has chartered himself to counter the inanity, inconsistency and outright lies of Massresistance, Article 8 and their running dogs. He covers a lot more and is good for the soul and mind.

The Inane in Spain

On Saturday in Madrid, Spain, hundreds of thousands of protestors led by Roman Catholic priests expressed their disapproval of the pending same-sex marriage law. It passed Parliament's lower house and should be confirmed by the Senate next week to make it the law of the land. Spain does nothing quickly and this has been in the works and unstoppable for many months.

See the Washington Post coverage of the demo here.

A solid majority of the nation favors same-sex marriage. The government would not have considered this law otherwise.

However, our guys in the frocks are not in that majority. One, Fr. Jose Ramon Velasco, said the implementation of the law would be like the start of Nazi Germany. "Back then the majority of people also backed Hitler just like the majority back this law. I'm serious, give it time and it will destroy the moral fiber of Spain and the West."

The protestors are about discimination, according to Deputy Socialist Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega. She noted that they would deny rights they have to others. She added, the law "does not oblige anyone to do anything they don't want to do."

A Big Maybe in Maine

The anti-gay-rights groups in Maine hoping to overturn the state's new equality provisions think they might have enough valid signatures to do this a third time. They need 50,519 valid voter signatures on petitions. They turned in over 57,000, which the state has a month to verify.

The Christian Civic League of Maine and its spin-off Maine Grassroots Coalition collected 12,000 in the final day. Normally in the petition process that is a sign of cutting corners and fudging qualifications or outright faking petitions.

For a different perspective Susan Madore, whose hubby Paul runs the Grassroots show said the surge was "a miracle" and "a gift from God." Her side best be praying that their version of God paid attention to the qualifications as well as the quantity.

So the question is whether one in seven of the signatures is a duplicate, from a non-voter or otherwise invalid. If they don't get the minimum, the gay-rights wording stays. If they have enough, the question of whether to overturn the anti-discrimination wording goes to voters in November. That's slightly likely to fail, as voter polls show Maine has lost its taste for hate.

Anyone wondering why these reactionaries are against adding sexual orientation as a basis for discrimination in Maine law can ask Paul Madore. "(T)his opens a door, without a doubt, to same-sex marriage."

Canada - Reviews Pour In

The best rush reviews of Canada's House of Commons vote for same-sex marriage is this morning's Washington Post article by Doug Struck. Up top, he quotes gay-rights activist Alex Munter saying, "The big peaceable kingdom on the U.S. border will demonstrate that it is absolutely possible for religious freedom to coexist with the end of discrimination against gay and lesbian people."

Then again, people see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. Beyond the Post piece, we in the United States will have to see whether anti folk consider this a threat. Many claim Massachusetts' same-sex marriage is.

Federalists and cosmopolitans among us believe in the full-faith and credit practices and principles. We honor another state's driver's licenses, for example. We expect the same from other states and nations.

On the other hand, we do impose hard limits. In marriage, for example, all of our states forbid polygamy. Just because another nation permits a man four wives, we do not bend the rules to let him import them as legal spouses here.

So the Chicken Little states who have waited and waited for Massachusetts to collapse under the weight of sin from homosexuals marrying remain fearful. What happens when a Massachusetts marriage sues in their courts for recognition? Will their oh-my-God-not-here amendments or laws prevent a court-imposed recognition, hence legalization?

And now, there is a huge trading partner, ewww, actually touching Minnesota, Michigan, Maine... Canada doesn't even impose a residency requirement. It is even plainer about equality than Massachusetts. What happens to the gay couples from there who become U.S. citizens and want their status recognized?

It must be tough being timorous.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gay Old Time in Canada

The Canadian Commons passed the same-sex marriage bill C-38 late Tuesday. The Senate will make this official later this week.

Canada thus joins Belgium and the Netherlands in permitting homosexual couples to marry. Spain should legalize this this year.

The final vote was 158 to 133, even with a couple of dozen defectors from the Liberal and NDP MPs.

All the wire services and papers are beginning coverage. A good overview is in Canoe.

With Conservatives still muttering that they want to overturn this if they get to form a government, the piece includes:
The Liberals said Harper has only one tool at his disposal: the Charter's notwithstanding clause, an escape hatch which no federal government has ever used.

"They're going to have to at least be honest with the people," said Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.

"They're going to have to acknowledge that they want to override the (Charter of Rights), override constitutional-law decisions in nine jurisdictions in this country, override a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, override the rule of law in this country."

Crack Your Cheeks, Harper

To paraphrase West Side Story, when you're a jerk, you're a jerk all the way. Canadian Commons Conservative Leader Stephen Harper compounded his blunders this afternoon. This time he said that assuming same-sex marriage becomes nationwide law today, he'll revisit and maybe overturn it if he gets to form a government.

Perhaps we was a particularly spoiled child. He at least seems to act like one on this. His response to losing now is:
How Harper might handle the issue is unclear since almost every provincial and territorial government has made gay marriage legal.

But he raised eyebrows Monday when he suggested the federal vote will be stamped with illegitimacy because it will owe its passage to Quebec separatists.

"I'm not going to question the legitimacy of the Bloc in the sense that they're elected people," he said Tuesday as he defended his statement.

"But I don't think Canadians are going to accept as the final word a decision taken by only a minority of federalist MPs imposed because the government made a deal with the Bloc."


Canadian Fallout

Party rules trump may trump conscience in the Canadian Parliament. While 24 Liberal MPs have voted against same-sex marriage, a cabinet minister just quit over it and an NDP member who bolted may be tossed from the caucus.

The minister for state for northern Ontario economic development called it quits before the historic afternoon vote. Joe Comuzzi is a long-term friend of Prime Minister Paul Martin. He said he was a Roman Catholic and felt he had to do this to vote against the bill C-38. He likely will be the only cabinet member to leave over the bil.

In parliamentary terms, this means he moves to his party's back bench, reserved for those considered not in line.

One NDP member, Bev Besjarlais, and five Bloc Québécois MPs have joined in the doomed Conservative effort to defeat the bill. Apparently they felt they could vote their conscience when it became clear the votes were there for the three-party bloc to

NDP leaders had threatened to expel MP Besjarlais if she did not vote the party position. Caucus executives will decide her fate today or soon.

C-38 Gay and Civil Rights

The pending Canadian same-sex marriage law is similar to and different from the Massachusetts implementation. It provides our style of civil contract as the basis for marriage, but it bases this clearly on its constitutional and chartered specific human rights equality.

Officially, the bill is C-38, Parliament 38, Session 1. You can see its final, amended form in HTML, French and English, here. Click through the Next arrow at the top to see the full text.

The summary reads:
This enactment extends the legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes to same-sex couples in order to reflect values of tolerance, respect and equality, consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also makes consequential amendments to other Acts to ensure equal access for same-sex couples to the civil effects of marriage and divorce.
Massachusetts' is like their provinces' and territories' court decisions. It is a judicial interpretation of equal-rights statutes. C-38 is also similar in reinforcing the civil contract as the basis for marriage.

In both countries, various groups try to pretend that this would be government changing the nature of a religious rite. Yet the truth as well as tradition is that marriage in North America has always been a contract between two people, whether religious rituals were involved or not.

The Canadian constitution and subsequent charter of rights are much plainer about protecting everyone's rights and offering equality. Good on them.

When Can Canadians?

The vote in Ottawa legalizing same-sex marriage throughout Canada should occur today. Yesterday afternoon, the Liberals voted to limit debate. The votes are there for passage. So legislators can soon paddle their canoes in the lakes and rivers.

The debate limit is for eight legislative hours. That brings on the vote by this evening.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are still being jerks about their loss on this issue. House Conservative Leader Stephen Harper continued his graceless silliness yesterday by claiming the passage will be seen as illegitimate.

One may well ask how that could be in a bill debated for two years in an open parliamentary system. According to Harper, the vote only is possible with the support of the legislators from the Bloc Québécois , who joined with the NDP and Liberals. From here, that appears to be how parliaments are supposed to work. Grow up Stevie!

By the bye, the Bloc, which continues to make separatist rumblings, has 54 of 308 seats in the Commons. Conservatives are wont to call them traitors and anti-federalists. Yet while they remain in the government, they are elected and they vote.

Monday, June 27, 2005

And Then There Were Three

We missed it in all the Canadian hoopla over the same-sex marriage act. Last Thursday, a judge in New Brunswick ruled in favor of four same-sex couples. Marriage in that province is between two persons. That leaves only Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Prince Edward Island where same-sex marriage is not allowed.

Justice Judith Clendening
did not cite the larger turmoil or the flood of rulings throughout Canada. She only referred to Newfoundland's decision favoring the marriages.

This may all be moot this week or next when Parliament codifies same-sex marriages. However, the Conservatives are painted into a very tight corner indeed.

Waiting for the Falling Rock

The same-sex-marriage politics seem to drag on in Ottawa. The Conservatives now admit it will pass, they've lost, everyone hates the extended legislative session, and they will flog it more regardless. So there.

Like a little kid who's birthday party didn't suit her, the Tories want to express their petulance. While Parliament could easily pass the bill today, Conservative House Leader Jay Hill said his group jolly well won't let that happen. The delay may be a few days or up to two weeks.

In a TV interview, he said, "I don't know how many speakers we'll want to put up (this time) but it will be quite a number I'm sure, because this is a highly controversial piece of legislation."

Liberal House Leader Tony Valeri said he would let the Tories carry on, for awhile at least. He might resort to cloture to force the vote if they are too long-winded.

Same-sex-marriage support, NDP Leader Jack Layton agreed that the Tories could vent a bit. "The key thing is that we get to a vote. If that means it takes a number of days, or a couple of weeks, for anyone who wants to speak to do so, I don't have a big problem with that."

From the lower 48, the ironic angle is that the Conservatives know they are beaten. They just want to make their point, and make their point, and make their point. By the time they finish, all Canadians should be aware they oppose gay marriage.

Kiddy Mind Control

Apropos of fundamentalists who are so irrational about same-sex marriage specifically and homosexuality more generally, professionals wonder – and research. When we went looking to see what shrinks and sociologists have concluded, we found a lot of rich, thoughty material.

If you are inclined to peek into the brains of the mad dads, you can start with educational psychologist David C. Berliner. The Arizona State professor delivered the E.L. Thomdike Award Address for the Division of Educational Psychologyy of theAmerican Psychologist Association, August 1996, in Toronto, on the mad dad's interest. The speech was Educational Psychology Meets the Christian Right: Differing Views of Children, Schooling, Teaching, and Learning. In our terms, it might be What About Those Loonies Who Want to Control the Schools?

Among Dr. Berliner's conclusions is:
The antagonism of the Christian Right to these programs is based on a fear of losing control over their children's thinking, rather than any compelling empirical data. It is concluded that many among the Christian Right are unable to engage in politics that make a common school possible. They may be unable to compromise and live with educational decisions rejecting a pluralistic democracy keeping separate church and state.
The 24-page HTML version of the address details his research, other reports and his conclusions.

He cites some scary sorts, such as Christian Right advocate and educator Robert Thoburn, who has a popular book in this subculture, The Children Trap (Dominion Press, 1986). The gist is that public schools "are immoral" and "they breed criminals." "I imagine every Christian would agree that we need to remove the humanism from the public schools. There is only one way to accomplish this: to abolish the public schools. We need to get the government out of the education business. According to the Bible, education is a parental responsibility. It is not the place of the government to be running a school system." Then much like Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals (Vintage, reprint, 1989) does for leftists, Thoburn offers a blueprint for infiltrating and crippling the local school boards to do just that.

It seems clear that our mad dad has read the book and believes this. To the vast majority of us, the questions are why do they think this way and what can one do to deal with them?

A key insight that recurs in the findings of those who study such folk is quoted from Mel and Norma Gabler, the self-identified first couple of conservatism. These delightful folk have asked fellow Christians to pray for the deaths of local school-board members. A peek into Norma's mind reveals a critical element of this group. She said, "Too many of today's textbooks leave students to make up their own minds. Now that is not fair to our children: What some textbooks are doing is giving students ideas, and ideas will never do them as much good as facts."

That's right. Independent thinking is the mark of this educational beast. If you keep this in mind for this set, much becomes clear.

Dr. Berliner commented:
In addition, whole-language teachers believe that children should choose their own books on the basis of their own interests‚—a well-established motivational strategy. This practice, of course, is unacceptable to the Christian Right for the same reason; parents lose control of what their children read.

...whole-language educators believe that the development of language occurs through the processes students choose and the decisions they make. Reading is not so much taught as learned; it is an act of volition. Thus language development is a process of personal "empowerment" of the students. This too is unacceptable because the Christian Right prefers an obedient, not an empowered, child.
To most of us, that seems as irrational as it is self-evident to these folk. Dr. Berliner states that "their world allows no politics, no negotiation, and their views are often irreconcilable with those held by most of the educational community."

He concludes that educators and parents need to keep in mind that they want to destroy public education. "All who are interested in the preservation of our public schools must be polite to the Christian Right and respectful of their concerns – some of which are shared by all of us," he said. "But we must also be extraordinarily vigilant to prevent them from gaining control of the public's common schools."

At the least, mainstream parents need to speak up about what should be taught. Berliner suggested, "If we find their demands unreasonable, a proper response is to remind these adamant school critics that by law and by tradition, public schools cannot accommodate narrow sectarian beliefs. If the schools now operate in ways that are unacceptable to these people, they should be told to remove their children from the public schools."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Huffy in Ottawa

Perhaps we in the United States could use some more theater in Congress. The Canadians have seen prancing, pouting, girning and high dudgeon in many forms this week. It looks like the same-sex marriage bill is secondary, tertiary or even lower compared with the slights in Parliament.

The Canoe version has lots of detail and color.

As far as we're concerned here the point is, "The same-sex bill, over strenuous Conservative objections, now is expected to pass handily as early as Monday with the combined support of most Liberals, NDP and Bloc MPs." Getting there though would be normal politics here, but apparently insults never to be forgotten up there.

Oddly enough to us, the worst seems to be when the bloc voting against the Conservatives to pass the big supplementary budget called for a vote when the Tories had skipped town. Here was a huge vote and the party had pledged to block the bloc, which included the Bloc (from Quebec). Enough Tories slipped out Thursday early for the weekend that the combined other parties used a rule that limited debate to an hour, and then won by five votes.

Tory Leader Stephen Harper is seething. Again, downtown this seems like legislative business. If you want your guys to vote, make sure they hang around the hall. He calls it treachery and worse.

Next, this nefarious group of voting lawmakers extended the current session to deal with the same-sex-marriage bill. They have the votes unless a lot of them drown over the weekend.

In a sharp tweak of irony, Toronto's huge gay-pride parade and celebration is this Sunday. Harper won't attend.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Oh, Really, Reilly?

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly continues showing his intent to destroy his credibility and any shot at governor in the next election. His latest was announcing that the 1913 law aimed at keeping peace with segregationist/antimiscegenation states was not dusted off for same-sex marriages.

Excuse me for a moment, while I stop snickering.

The law (207:11) forbids solemnizing marriages that would not be valid in another state. It was passed to keep black/white couples from the South from sneaking into the Bay State then returning home married.

It has not been used for decades until Gov. Mitt Romney discovered it and made it clear that Justices of the Peace, town clerks and others here were disobeying this law if they married out-of-state homosexual couples.

Reilly claimed (Globe here and the print edition of the Herald has a short on it) that the law was applied equally to het and gay couples. Previously he had announced a few times that he would continue to enforce it, pulling the public-servant, it's-the-law-of-the-land ploy.

To many here, the point is that this is a lame law, a vestige of racist hate, now used to keep peace with anti-gay states' legislature and governors. An attorney general with guts, one worthy of being governor, would say as much and ask our lawmakers to toss this turkey.

In an afternoon addendum, the coverage at 365gay.com provides more details on Reilly's filing in reaction to a GLAD suit for couples from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The background was that Superior Court Justice Carol Ball upheld the law, although she was troubled by the state suddenly finding reason to enforce it. She rules that nothing in it said it was to be enforced only on homosexuals.

Reilly's filing admitted that there was a greater likelihood that it would be applied to same-sex couples attempting to marry in Massachusetts. "The Registrar has made every effort to do so in a manner that treats same-sex and opposite-sex out-of-state marriage applicants evenhandedly," he wrote.

Perhaps such lawyers will always try to twist the truth in spirals to gain political advantage. One can hope that the court does not let them get away with it.

Manly in Manchester-by-the-Sea

The very Republican, very wealthy Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, constituent meeting got its thrill last night. The first state legislator to kick the anti-same-sex-marriage amendment when it's down was Rep. Bradford Hill.

To show the tenor of the Eastern half of the state, at least, the meeting cheered and applauded when he said he would no longer support the amendment proposed to go on the ballot next year. It needs a second majority vote of the combined legislature to do so.

Someone, maybe Marry in Massachusetts, should begin keeping score. We predict that this is the spark that signals many small (and pretty meaningless) explosions. Senators and Representatives surely are wondering how they can gain advantage here. Salient points include:
  • When self-identified religious voters, particularly in exurban and blue-collar communities complained about same-sex marriage, a slim majority of legislators voted for the first passage of the amendment.
  • When same-sex marriage proved positive for over a year, the confused and haters have dropped a bit.
  • Several anti-gay or anti-same-sex marriage legislators got dumped in the last election, replaced with equality-minded folk.
  • Polls show a growing majority of voters are happy with same-sex marriage, or at least don't want to strip existing rights from any group.
  • The recalcitrant queers-are-bad group has fewer fellow travelers.
  • The anti folk recently turned tail and now support a simple overturning of same-sex marriage and not civil union version. (Not coincidentally this would be much easier to get on the ballot, but not until 2008, by which time, all but the hardest heads will see that same-sex marriage threatens nothing.)
Today's Boston Globe has the fullest coverage of Rep. Hill's reversal. He's left himself the option of supporting the second amendment. That gives him plenty of time to suss the political points to gain by scampering this way or that.

A second prediction – an average of one politician a week announcing a new, firm, morally based position on this...subject to change, of course.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Ridge Runners for Children

Blood lost and the kid won last week in poor, rural Clay County, West Virginia. The state Supreme Court of Appeals handed a 5-year-old boy to the psychological parent, a lesbian, over the biological grandparents.

In a fit of sensibility and reason, the court decided that what served the child's interest superseded any other in the case. You can find the local news coverage here and the fundamentalist Christian take on it here.

The brief recap is:
  1. Lesbian partners Tina Burch and Christina Smarr were raising the latter's son Zachary as a couple.
  2. In June 2002, they were in a car wreck in which Christina died and from which Tina was hospitalized.
  3. Christina's parents grabbed Zach.
  4. A family court judge ruled on the advice of the child's court representative that Tina should have custody.
  5. The grandparents appealed to circuit court, where the judge ruled that Tina has no standing (no civil unions or same-sex marriage protection in the Mountain State).
  6. The state's high court issued Tina a temporary injunction of custody.
  7. Although Tina gets Zach, this does not necessarily grant other non-married West Virginians standing in child-custody disputes.
In the three to two decision, Judge Robin Davis wrote:
Thus, there unquestionably exists a relationship of significant duration between Tina (Burch) and (the child) in which Tina (Burch) has provided for the physical, psychological, financial and emotional needs of (the child) and such that the child regards Tina (Burch) as a parental figure in his life...To reunite Tina (Burch) and (the child) through a formal custodial arrangement would be to secure the familial environment to which the child has become accustomed and to accord parental status to the adult he already views in this capacity...(praising the grandparents' efforts to keep Zach) because too many people love this little boy. Oh, that all of the children whose fates we must decide would be so fortunate as to be too loved.
Perhaps a deciding factor was that the biological father supported Tina's claims from the initial court filings. The filing to the high court contains the particulars of the case, the state laws, and the standard for review.

By the bye, this is another of those no-will issues. The dead mom was intestate and there was no custody arrangement.

Typically you can contractually arrange for your child(ren) to go to a friend or more distant relative. In this case, the lawyer for the grandparents, Stephen Crampton, defines the high court's application of the best-interest-of-the-child laws as taking "advantage of a loophole." "This court took the opportunity to drive their truck through the loophole which the legislature left, and establish new law that I believe decimates the traditional family and elevates same-sex parenting and custody to a new level previously unknown in this state."

However, he admits defeat and probably won't appeal. There doesn't seem to be any federal issue involved.

It is ironic though that such self-described pro-family sorts would sacrifice the child to keep a lesbian from having rights to continue to raise him.

Note: Crampton is chief council for the American Family Association’s Center for Law and Policy, the Tupelo, Mississippi-based anti-everything folk.

Conservatives Shocked, Shocked

In Ottawa, the Tories got set on their heels yesterday. They expressed outrage that the other major parties –– Liberals, Bloc Québécois and the New Democrats –– played politics. They were shocked, shocked to find them voting together to pass the budget.

According to the Globe and Mail (free registration with valid email addresss required), Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper raged, "The Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc are now in a coalition, and I guess we've seen this coming for some days. So I guess what it should remind Canadians is that when push comes to shove, the Liberals will make a deal with anybody. It doesn't matter if it's with socialists, or the separatists or any bunch of crooks they can find."

That's the way to win the hearts and votes of your fellow parliamentarians, eh?

The short of the budget vote is that the momentum and likely the votes are there to pass countrywide same-sex marriage in Canada next week. We'll have to see what the Tories try, but pouting won't cut it.

Note: There's a lot more to the budget part. It had party-specific amendment and some politicking worthy of Massachusetts. You can get the running account of what's behind the scenes at the vote here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Poor Brian, Poor David

If you have the stomach, head over to Massresistance Watch, where coverage of the whines and bile of the Article 8 people get full coverage.

It seems Brian Camenker is trying the GOP-style duplicity. He spews hate and disrespect, and then complains when citizens call him on it in the local newspaper. Also, a hate post suddenly vanished from Massresistance's blog. The good guy at the Watch site has it for your viewing.

This is like a Monty Python skit. The bad kid slapping a classmate in the back of the head. Then he says, "I never did, never did." Well in this case, the good folk of Lexington noticed and called them on it.

Crews Flew

I just got a good tip from J.P. at MIT, the squamous Ron Crews has left the state. The former head hater (executive director) at the Massachusetts Family Institute and failed politician will spread his compassion to soldiers.

He moved to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to give solace and succor to the Screaming Eagles and their Army chums there. As an Army Reserves military chaplain, he said, "My burden and passion for years has been serving soldiers and their families as a chaplain and this will give me an opportunity to pursue that full time. My wife and I, after praying about it and talking about it, felt like this was the next step for us. We believe MFI has a good leadership and the right direction."

A long-term leader in trying to deny gays men and women marriage, civil unions or any benefits by law, Crews got skunked when he tried to unseat U.S. Rep. James McGovern last year.

Now if only he could take the whole MFI to the Bluegrass State. They already have a DoMA. So he could concentrate on punishing folk in different ways.

Oh-oh in Ottawa

While our own Congress festers, the Canadian Parliament is blooming. The majority in the United States is bending over for George/Dick, but even the leftwingers up North are petulent.

This will require monitoring throughout the day. The Globe and Mail (requires free registration) has a piece today that lets us know:
  • The Tories will try to bring down the government if the Liberals insist on a countrywide same-sex-marriage law vote.
  • Converstiave MPs got email yesterday from the party whip ordering them to be in the House of Commons Monday for voting.
  • Canadians are loath to sit even an extra few days in legislative session (every few decades).
  • The Liberals may or may not be able to get enough of their own votes to override the Tories.
  • In what surely can't be an act of God (Can it?). three Conservatives have been absent, all with cancer treatments.
  • A clandestine deal between the parties may be to pass the budgets, amend the marriage bill, and delay an vote on the latter until the fall.
So, today, Friday and Monday should have more.

Log Rolling for Liberty

That Welsh guy at Scratches, a.k.a. Uncle, riffs on my exhortation to ridicule the hate slingers. He branches into his picket line confrontations with them.

It's good reading, particularly because he touches on their motivation. For example:
If gay rights were taken away from these pathetic people as an issue, they'd claim some other object for their anxiety, and say that god called it wrong, evil or inferior. Their other motivation is to invent, or keep, someone lower on the food chain than they are. The deity gives you the biggest reason to dodge personal responsibility. Imagining there is a biped lower than you offers reinforcement for your delusions.
Yet, I have dwelt lately on why they are about it all. The Ann Coulter/Rush Limbaugh sorts you can figure. They aren't interested in anything true or reasonable. They are famous and rich because they use inflammatory lies. They brag about doing so to their dittoheads, as Rush calls them into their ears.

But the minions and fellow travelers...what is their motivation and thought process? They deny and ignore when they learn how dishonest their puppetmasters are. Who is studying these people? Do they belong in zoos? Is there a chance to replace the blind hate with compassion?

I may have to browse for shrinks and socialists who have insight.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Intestate Lurtsema Still in Play

The nebulous nature of well-to-do folk who die without wills continues in the Robert J. Lurtsema estate battle. The short of it is that the famous classical-music radio host seems to have promised his long-term, live-in honey the bulk of his estate. His siblings contested that and so far have prevailed.

Massachusetts marriage laws
do not recognize common-law marriage in such cases. So the pseudo-widow has to beg, bargain or sue if the blood relatives want the cash.

You can read her petition for summary judgment to get her share in Northrup v. Brigham, et al. The appeals court judge (Patrick F. Brady) decided that her case was not strong enough under the commonwealth statutes. He ordered it remanded to the probate court to continue its hearings on her quantum meruit claim.

Note: For the inexpert of us, the 'Lectric Law Lexicon's Library defines this as:
QUANTUM MERUIT - As much as he has deserved. When a person employs another to do work for him, without any agreement as to his compensation, the law implies a promise from, the employer to the workman that he will pay him for his services, as much as be may deserve or merit. In such case the plaintiff may suggest in his declaration that the defendant promised to pay him as much as he reasonably deserved, and then aver that his trouble was worth such a sum of money, which the defendant has omitted to pay. This is called an assumpsit on a quantum meruit.

When there is an express contract for a stipulated amount and mode of compensation for services, the plaintiff cannot abandon the contract and resort to an action for a quantum meruit on an implied assumpsit.
In other words, she says they had a deal, orally but plainly. Her case is strengthened by the facts of how much professional work she did to advance his career, as well as caring for him in failing health, and moving in with him after his repeated requests.

Plain folk who just live together in what many states would consider common-law marriage are generally out of luck here in such cases.

Hesitating Bobby Lurtsema was not the only one who procrastinated until it was one breath too late. The ElderLaw folk think this case is important enough to keep updating it. They think she has a shot on her suit, as described here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Canada's Turn to Play

Canada's Parliament displays more intricate and theatrical politics about same-sex marriage all the time. While the current session has not extended beyond the scheduled closing next week, pressures to pass the budget and countrywide same-sex marriage are high.

We U.S. North Americans can only look with envy at the governments who can toss an unpopular leader with a simply legislative vote. We get Shrub for four years at a time and impeachment is far too daunting. Meanwhile, the Conservatives in Ottawa make the usual threats of votes of confidence because Prime Minister Paul Martin is flat-out for the marriages. He doesn't have a majority of the 308 House of Commons members, but his coalition does. Meanwhile, all but four Conservatives are against same-sex marriage.

Can they not have noticed that one after another of the provinces, assemblies and courts, have legalized gay marriage (7 and 1 territory so far). It is like a mirror of the United States, where the people have largely enacted DoMA amendments or laws. Perhaps the Canadian brains are preserved better by the cold, as the chilly New England states favor gay rights, civil unions and same-sex marriage.

Martin says he is sick of fooling with the bill...and that he has the votes in his caucus to pass it today. He intends to bring it to a vote this session. The budget bills must pass first and then if necessary, the session must extend.

The Globe and Mail writes that "(s)ome Liberal MPs have said they want the issue brought to a vote, in part because they aren't eager to debate it with their constituents all summer, and in part because they don't want it lagging as an election issue next spring."

One ameliorating effort has failed so far. To placate Liberals who were critical of such marriages, an amendment proposed to exempt churches that will not perform same-sex marriages from losing their charitable tax status. That's a common bogeyman of the right here, even though U.S. discrimination statutes always include exemptions letting a broad range of religious groups be as bigoted as they want. Our only exceptions are for non-religious services and sales, and for where they take government money.

The Commons Speaker Peter Milliken (a Liberal) rejected the amendment.

CTV reports that the Conservatives are still pushing for extended civil unions, "something legal experts say will not pass constitutional muster." Also if C-38 loses in Parliament, the court rules that allow same-sex marriage stay in effect. One way or another, the Tories seem intent on losing this one, probably without grace or civility.

Maine Meanies Mayn't

There's another nine days for the reactionaries in Maine to collect 30,000 more signature in their effort to repeal the benign gay-right bill recently signed into law on March 31st. They need 50,519 verifiable voters to support a petition to put a recall on the November ballot. Otherwise, the law takes effect June 28th.

These jolly self-identified Christians have forced repeal of non-discrimination protection for sexual orientation before. In 1997, they squeaked in during the final days to bring in enough signatures to get the repeal on the ballot.

Back then, the voters didn't get how they were being uses. Polls say Mainers have lost their taste for pettiness and nastiness toward homosexual rights.

Of course, that doesn't make the law's supporters comfortable with the Christian Civic League's efforts. A vaguely chartered Maine Won't Discriminate group is trying to counter the haters. For the life of me, from their Website, I can't see what they are doing in the effort.

The Portland Press Herald has background and the status for the cons as of last week. Also, in the Talk2Action blog (great name, eh?), the June 15th post has an insightful and amusing coverage of the Camenker/Parker road show to Maine.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Ottawa Blessing and Curse

Wait. Wait. Wait. The Canadian Parliament – mostly – wants to vote on making same-sex marriage nationwide. The Liberal leaders are introducing a motion to extend this session another day or two to permit voting.

Government House Leader Tony Valeri says all the MPs have made up their minds after months of debate and a couple of years of watching one province after another legalize it.

Conservatives have been stalling and trying to knock back a vote to the fall in hopes of some magic changing the majority's mind.

However, in a delightful wrinkle worthy of New England spite and hate, a priest in Canada is putting the hex on Prime Minister Paul Martin. Following interviews with numerous media:

Father Francis Geremia, a Roman Catholic priest, told his congregation on Saturday that Martin is doing the devil's work on the same-sex marriage bill the Liberal government is trying to pass in Parliament.

He repeated the charge in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press on Monday, saying Martin no longer deserves the sacrament of communion because of Bill C-38.

Martin has said that as a Roman Catholic, he struggled with the issue, but that it's a matter of human rights that he must uphold.

But Geremia says: "you cannot have two faces: either you serve God or you serve the devil."

I guess the assumption is that subtlety is lost on politicians.

Godzilla vs Mothra

That piece on the anti-same-sex anything types in the Times gnaws on me. It is honestly easier and far, far more pleasant to pretend that there can be reconciliation with those who presently profess such intense hatred for homosexuals that they would sacrifice rights, fairness and reason to punish them.

I guess I know better. The Article 8/Mass Resistance folk and their counterparts outside of Massachusetts are not rational and continue to deny how emotional they are.

Those chilling catchphrase:
  • It's only common sense (as in marriage = one man/one woman).
  • No one wants to discriminate (except let's make sure we deny these gays anything).
  • I'm only trying to be reasonable (and any other position deserves my disdain and slander).
  • I hate the sin but love the sinner (as long as I can make his or her life miserable and inferior to mine).
keep coming from the mouths, publications and Web pages of the anti-gay-right folk. It may be that they tell themselves and each other these things so often that they actually eventually believe they are being rational.

Having run around similar bushes many times, I suppose it is safest to look to the antidotes to the antis. In such struggles as the 1960s civil-rights times, two things worked in concert with the force of law.
  1. Continuing to out-campaign and outvote the clods.
  2. Bring ridicule to bear.
The first is the most obvious. At least here in Massachusetts, the Dark Side is a shrinking minority. There are more among the public and legislature who are in favor of equal rights. There is no reason for it not to continue that way, so long as the pressure from the positive side stays strong and remembers that the anti folk are unrelenting.

For the second, we should not forget how important culture is to perceived reality. From my own experiences in the South in the 60s and 70s, I found that nothing startled a racist out of his hateful little world than finding his rants laughed at by his peers. When a bigot in a bar or church picnic finds others making fun of his hate speech, that makes him think and shut up like nothing else.

We nice folk were raised not to make fun of people. The exception should always be for the hateful. Don't ignore them. Don't start a fight. Ridicule them. Let others around know how wrong and just how stupid they are being. A snicker is often more powerful than a punch.

This is like politicians with voter polls. When the culture, the people, move beyond the basest minds and emotions, we can get past the lowest of us. They are dirty. We need to leave them in the dust.

As the Black folk used to say down South, it's time to tear the rag off the bush.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Mainstream Mitt Mangler

The Boston Globe's Eileen McNamara got in the swing today. Her column today agrees that Gov. Mitt Romney's same-sex-marriage games are just that.

She notes that Mitt engineered and endorsed the civil-union-instead-of-marriage amendment stumbling toward the Constitutional Convention next year (or not). She adds that he delivered the necessary 15 Republican votes to pass it the first of two times to get it going.

Now that it might be more favorable to his POTUS shot to appear solidly against any gay partnerships, he suddenly jumps on the new petition circulating to get a DoMA law on the Massachusetts books. As of last week, the amendment he pitched so hard becomes "muddled" and "confusing" in his newspeak.

As McNamara puts it:
You can bet the governor won't be mentioning his role in winning passage of the marriage-lite amendment as he barnstorms the country in his delusional quest for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Romney's record might be rife with ambiguity; his sales pitch to social conservatives is full of faux clarity on everything from gay rights to abortion and stem cell research.
She also agrees with the bunch of us that the commonwealth's voters want the legislature to get on with business. Same-sex married happened. It works. There's no problem. Do something real.

Of course, Mitt is all theater. Even his current state's polls don't matter a whit to Mitt. He is acting to the national audience.

Halloween Early for Antis

A scary and insightful cover story in today's New York Times Magazine deserves wide reading by all concerned with same-sex marriage. The piece What's Their Real Problem with Gay Marriage? (It's the Gay Part) by Russell Shorto.

Note: This is free and in HTML, but you need to register to see it. If you don't grab it in the next week, you'll have to pay to read it online.

It's not about fairness or compassion or equality or civil rights or reasoning or freedom. It's about the queers.

The anti-same-sex-marriage folk Shorto follows and interviews slice it this way and that. In the end, they will do whatever they can to prevent any semblance of equal rights for gay couples -- no medical visitation, no marriage, no tax breaks, no civil union, no, no, no. They delude themselves and accept glaring lies based on dishonest articles from their leaders. There are a lot of them (a loose affiliation of 60 million from 61 organizations) and they deal in self-righteousness not righteousness.

This piece is not a hatchet job and I suspect the subjects will read it feeling pretty smug. They may momentarily cringe when he calls them on the baseless studies they use, but they can pretend he's either ignorant or damned or both.

Shorto features the Arlington Group and how widely it separates itself from an America of tolerance and freedom. He notes how one of its leaders (Gary Bauer, American Values) revels in same-sex marriage as the new abortion. That is:
(C)onservatives see gay marriage as a culture-altering change being implemented by judicial fiat. But gay marriage is also the new abortion in that it is for groups like Bauer's a base-energizing and fund-raising issue of tremendous power.
While that's not news, the power of the article is how these folk reason away their hate.
Rather, their passion comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: it seeks to spread itself.
It is scary stuff indeed, as he profiles Maryland hausfrau Laura Clark. Her current guerilla tasks involve locating Internet stories to back up the anti-gay campaign and email to the eager minions.

There are also some powerful statements from the "men of God." One is Laura's pastor, Brian Racer. Part of his reasoning is what appears in various forms from the antis.
''The Hebrew words for male and female are actually the words for the male and female genital parts,'' he told me. ''The male is the piercer; the female is the pierced. That is the way God designed it. It's unfortunate that homosexuals have taken the moniker 'gay,' because their lifestyle and its consequences are anything but. Look what has happened in the decades since the sexual revolution and acceptance of the gay lifestyle as normal. Viruses have mutated. S.T.D.'s have spread. It shows that when we try to change the natural course of things, what comes out of that is not joy or gayness.''
In that compact quote, you see this world in all of its slimy glory.

Shorto identifies major sources from the twisted or outright lying truths as these groups pass around to each other. The worst may by Hoover Institute research fellow Stanley Kurtz. For example, he takes Danish studies of young, gay, single men and says their behavior is that of same-sex married couples.

Worst perhaps is how the anti folk justify their efforts to prevent homosexuals from getting fair treatment and take away any gains so far. The core of the argument is that gay is a lifestyle only.
But, of course, the Christian activists aren't vague in their opposition. For them, the issue isn't one of civil rights, because the term implies something inherent in the individual -- being black, say, or a woman -- and they deny that homosexuality is inherent. It can't be, because that would mean God had created some people who are damned from birth, morally blackened. This really is the inescapable root of the whole issue, the key to understanding those working against gay marriage as well as the engine driving their vehicle in the larger culture war: the commitment, on the part of a growing number of people, to a variety of religious belief that is so thoroughgoing it permeates every facet of life and thought, that rejects the secular, pluralistic grounding of society and that answers all questions internally.
For those Baby Boomers among us who grew up with the idea of a free America that shares rights with all in an ever expanding embrace of liberty, these folk are aliens and monsters. We also heard and believed that we were supposed to be stronger and better as a nation than the bigoted and narrow nations who restricted their people. Democracy was supposed to be sharing freedom and rights.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Mitt Meet and Greet

In more of a plunk than splash, Gov. Mitt Romney was the main speaker at the Flag Day celebration of the Orange County, California, Republican Party. The local media apparently didn't notice. The Orange County Register led with the Iranian runoff and Disney raising theme-park tickets by $3. The LA Times didn't cover it either.

Hover, the Globe has a piece on it today. The byline, Michael Levenson, Globe Correspondent, indicates he was an underwhelmed, non-booster California sort. He included in his coverage:
Contrary to what some local Republicans said, however, (Mark Petracca, professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine) said Romney has yet to establish himself as a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination. ''I've not heard a single person talk about Romney," he said. ''Out here, people want to amend the Constitution to allow Arnold Schwarzenegger to run."

Because California's Republican primary is usually held relatively late in the season when the nominee is often all but certain -- he said Romney had little to gain here in the way of votes. ''It's dialing for dollars, not dialing for votes," Petracca said.
What I was most curious about didn't appear. It seems Mitt didn't try his anti-same-sex-marriage ploy last night. That may be wise in a state still divided and conflicted on the subject, even if SUV and BMW crowd at the hotel is not.

This is Romney's second trip this year to California to make himself known. Meanwhile. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill (Remote Diagnosis) Frist was in South Carolina flashing his grin and doing his similar PR.

No South, Later North

In California, a federal judge will make a homosexual couple appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court in an effort to overturn the state's DoMA law. Uptown in Canada, the sure-to-pass bill legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide was forced to a fall vote when the Conservative Party leader sidetracked it from a vote this session.

In Santa Ana, Central District Judge Gary Taylor refused to rule on a petition Thursday. Christopher Hammer and Arthur Smelt of Mission Viejo, joined by another dozen gay couples, won a March state-trial decision saying DoMA was unconstitutional. Lawyers for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund claimed victory (or Orange Crush). Taylor used standard anti lingo in his non-ruling, writing:
The Court finds it is a legitimate interest to encourage the stability and legitimacy of what may reasonably be viewed as the optimal union for procreating and rearing children by both biological parents.
That's a set of code words usually reserved by anti-gay groups. It always brings to question whether the majority of married heterosexuals who are unable or unwilling to procreate have the right to wed by that standard. Think. Think. Think.

In Ottawa, the Conservative folk and such humorless groups as Defend Marriage Canada! are doing whatever they can to keep this winner from coming to a vote. The San Francisco Chronicle has details on the current efforts here.

Key stages include:
  • An Ontario appeals court okayed same-sex marriage two years ago.
  • Courts in British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon Territory followed.
  • The national government stopped appeals and formulated a uniform bill (C-38) permitting same-sex marriage.
  • Thursday, the legislative committee considering it reported it favorably for a vote by the full congress.
  • Conservative Leader Stephen Harper will try to forestall a vote by June 23, forcing the issue to wait until the fall session.
The Liberals were unable to cut a deal with the Conservatives, who had linked pushing off C-38 with passing the budget. The version that finally passes will probably end up with U.S.-style exemptions for religious groups.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Mitt Goes West

Bada bing. Mitt shares the stage tonight in California with Rush Limbaugh's favorite comedian, Paul Shanklin. They'll be at the Hyatt in Irvine (where Republicans are 60% of registered voters).

The head of the Republican Party of Orange County, Scott Baugh introduces our gubenatorial unit as, "We are thrilled to have Governor Mitt Romney joining us here in 'America's most Republican County.' Governor Romney knows how to get elected and knows how to govern in a 'blue state.'"

It's only $250 for the evening, assuming you can keep from bidding during the silent auction. Drinks start at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 7.

What About Those Married Gays?

Just in case you wondered what would happen to the 6000-plus same-sex marriages if the newest DoMA amendment version passes in 2008, the short answer is nothing. They would get grandfathered. The anti folk would then hope they would wither and disappear, much like the Shakers.

The actual wording of this week's one is:
When recognizing marriages entered after the adoption of this amendment by the people, the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.
Of course, that would be confusing, legally and culturally. Yet, in the unlikely event this occurs, it would make plain the intent of the anti forces —— to limit the freedoms and take away rights from homosexuals. (Judge for yourself how anti-American stripping existing rights from citizens is.)

This might be a good time to recall that unlike other colonies and then states, Massachusetts kept a clear line between church and state, as described here. Marriage here was always and remains a civil contract. Ministers and other clerics were not originally allowed to solmenize marriages, only government officials could. It is fascinating to see how groups are trying to twist this into a religious issue.

Sure, Mitt Will Respect You

Gov. Mitt Romney is out of here. He made one big move yesterday and will do another today. After endorsing a DoMA drive locally, he's touring other states to kiss up to conservative groups.

Along the way to get the GOP POTUS nomination, he's already using the local anti-same-sex-marriage folk. He'll let them fail to get a civil-union-instead-of-gay-marriage amendment, then fail after he's gone to get a DoMA amendment, and stew in their own juices. Meanwhile, he can go to California (today) and Michigan and South Carolina to thump his chest. "Me anti-gay-marriage. Grunt. Look how hard me fight!"

You can read detailed analysis of his ploys in today's Boston Globe. It leads with his use of the Mass Family Institute and its allies here, although this is straight news. It gets down a little bit with its analysis of his new PAC that will shamelessly reframe his wavering politics as steady conservative leadership.

So far, the wires and other newspapers have just the facts. More analysis will follow and the Washington Post has yet to weigh in on this. The California papers may get a giggle out this too; they have their own Republican governor theater.

It really shouldn't be funny, but the Massachusetts anti forces have so clumsily and flagrantly used the sincere, religious and confused (or combinations of those) that Romney jumping up and down on their backs to raise his profile is sweet.

So, we can get a whiff from Orange Country today when Mitt lays it on at the Flag Day fund raiser for the California GOP. That should be rich, in every sense of the term.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Romney for Something

And speaking of Mr. Mitt, the .08 Acres blog has an insightful analysis and commentary on Romney's horizon. See the top June 14th entry Senatorial Approval Ratings.

He compares the approval ratings for Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Then he dissects Kennedy's fundraising mail after the Wall Street Journal urges Mitt to run for Kennedy's seat. Pretty much like Mitt's posturing on same-sex marriage, that could be another meaningless way to puff himself up politically.

In Snit, Mitt Bit

Our governor, Mitt Romney, has likely killed the replace-gay-marriage-with-civil-unions amendment trying to wriggle through the constitutional-convention process. Shortly after the predictable group of anti folk announced today that they did in fact intend to try to get a DoMA amendment before the voters in 2008, Mitt said that's what he had in mind all along.

It looks like surrender clothed in bravado, shouting, "We'll get you now!," as they run away.

Putting the most positive spin on it, Mitt's man at the mic, Eric Rehrnstrom said, "Gov. Romney believes that voters should be given a straightforward amendment to decide the definition of marriage and not one that muddles the water by creating civil unions that would be equivalent of marriage in all respects but name."

It is to laugh.

From here it looks like:
  • The anti folk figured they were not going to win the second vote to get their civil-union amendment on the ballot.
  • Mitt wants to be POTUS or VP and was not about to leave the state soundly defeated by both same-sex marriage and failure to downgrade it to civil union.
  • The bar to get the new amendment on the ballot in 2008 is half as high as the current one, so that even this group of clowns should be able to pull it off.
However, legislators and voters here are losing what light taste they had for this blood. Same-sex marriage works as smoothly as the old kind, letting homosexuals have equal rights has hurt no one and no one's estate of matrimony, and none of the dreadful plagues predicted by the naysayers and nigglers has befallen us.

Assuming the low-bar version gets on the ballot, it looks like a loser. Politicians are seeing that the majority of voters are either in favor of equality or indifferent to this non-problem. It's possible that in three years the only voters who will go for the amendment will be bigots who say they aren't bigoted and discriminators who say no one wants discrimination. Let us be thankful that they are the minority.

By the bye, no one other than Mass News paid much attention to the anti folk's announcement. That stalwart source listed, "Holding Thursday's press conference are Massachusetts Family Institute's Kris Mineau, Maria Parker of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, Dr. Roberto Miranda of the Congregacion de Judah, Bishop Gilbert Thompson from the Black Ministerial Alliance, and Rep. Philip Travis (D-Rehoboth)."

New Jersey Decision Available

LAMBDA Legal has made the decision of the New Jersey Appeals Court rejecting same-sex marriage available online here. (This is in PDF and you need an Adobe Acrobat compatible reader to view or print it. It runs 75 pages of decision and dissent.)

We'll take a look through it. Meanwhile, for a taste of the 31-page dissent, consider its conclusion:
While the Domestic Partnership Act gives, at some cost, many, but not all, of the benefits and protections automatically granted to married persons, we have learned after much pain that "separate but equal" does not substitute for equal rights. Plaintiff Sarah Lael describes the difference in this way:
For me, being denied marriage, despite how hard we work and support each other and our children, it is demeaning and humiliating. These feelings are part of my daily life ... because of constant reminders that we are second class.

What Sarah Lael and her partner lack and seek may be summed up in the word dignity. But there is more they will gain from lawful marriage. That something else goes to the essence of marriage and is probably best left to poets rather than judges. It is the reason that people do get married. For marriage changes who you are. It gives stability, legal protection and recognition by fellow citizens. It provides a unique meaning to everyday life, for legally, personally and spiritually a married person is never really alone. Few would choose life differently.

With great admiration for the wisdom, logic and eloquence of my colleagues, I must dissent.
Judge Donald Collester

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Equality v. Schadenfreude

For those still wondering what more do those queers want, several poignant examples appear in a piece by AP reporter Geoff Mulvihill. The Bridgewater, New Jersey, Courier-News has it here with pix.

The differences between what New Jersey's domestic-partnership law can offer and what married couples routinely get is probably best illustrated by the case of Marilyn Maneely and Diane Marini. They are among the plaintiffs in the three-year-old case suing the state for Massachusetts-style full same-sex marriage.

Four months ago, Maneely found that she had Lou Gehrig's disease. As the article notes, not only would Marini not be eligible for Maneely's Social Security were the latter to die, but:
Health-care coverage is a big issue for the couple. For 13 years, Marini, who owns a construction business, had been on Maneely's health insurance plan as a domestic partner. But Maneely can no longer work as a nurse and is forced to buy into her current plan. Without being married, Marini cannot be insured that way and must find private insurance.
The New Jersey law doesn't help at all. Of course, with Federal DoMA procedural restrictions, agencies are forbidden from extending marital benefits in such cases.

What Marini gets from the state is the right to visit her long-term partner in the hospital and the same inheritance exemptions for personal property that a spouse could claim.

Among the other theoretical benefits would be freedom from being compelled to testify against a spouse in court. New Jersey is one of five states that offer these minimal partner benefits.

Down Not Out in Newark

By 2-1, a New Jersey appeals court ruled against permitting same-sex marriage. The plaintiffs will take it to the state Supreme Court.

The Star-Ledger has a report online here.

The majority judges wrote that the legislature would have to change the marriage law first to permit same-sex marriages. The dissenter, Judge Donald Collester, had a strongly worded commentary, including that the right is "effectively meaningless unless it includes the freedom to marry a person of one's choice." His dissent included a comparison to race-mixing prohibitions.

The lead attorney, LAMDBA's David Buckel, said, "We are disappointed but not discouraged, because we always knew we were headed to the high court, and so, we'll be trying to get there as soon as possible and we are hopeful the high court will agree with the better-reasoned dissent."

The majority opinion of Judges Stephen Skilman and Anthony Parrillo compared the plaintiffs' arguments to those that could be made for polygamy. In contrast, Collester noted the circular reasoning of the majority — "...plaintiffs cannot marry because by definition they cannot marry."

A wrinkle in the New Jersey case is that while this suit was proceeding, the legislature passed a domestic-partnership act that went into effect last year. This grants same-sex couples limited rights. I bet the legislature thought they had side-stepped this issue.

Hardline DoMA Effort

According to today's Globe, the farthest right of the rights in the legislature will buck the current compromise effort to get a full marriage = 1 man + 1 woman amendment to the commonwealth constitution. They are supposed to announce the effort tomorrow.

Logistically, this try would be easier than the one underway to replace same-sex marriages with civil unions. Realistically, it seems doomed.

As for law, a DoMA initiative petition would still take a cycle of three years, getting on a ballot in 2008. However, instead of needing twin votes of a majority of the combines legislature, it would require only a quarter of the lawmakers to get before the voters.

Ironically, the effort would give voters two more years of seeing that there are no negatives to homosexual marriage. Already polls show that a majority (56% in the most recent) favor same-sex marriage. More people gay and straight are marrying, staying married, and increasing marital stability in Massachusetts.

The odd state Rep. Emile Goguen has his name attached to the latest effort. More on this when they, if you pardon the expression, come out.

Marriage Law Ref Guide

There is a pretty up-to-date and complete marriage/relationship law directory on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation site.

A spot-check shows it to be timely. For example, the Massachusetts section provides the background of the effort to put a civil-union amendment before the voters, but it does not have the latest legislative moves in the past few weeks. On the other hand, the issues with out-of-state residents trying to marry here is current as of the governor's May 205th announcement

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Maine-ly Discriminatory

Slicing and dicing reason exceedingly finely, the repeal-the-homosexual-equality laws folk must still have a hard time making their case. In the following link to the law, you can read the 12 short pages or skip to the summary on the last, which reads:
This bill ensures that all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, have the same civil rights protections now guaranteed in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit to citizens on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin and physical or mental handicap. A religious organization that does not receive public funds is exempt from the prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill makes it clear that this change in the Maine Human Rights Act does not confer legislative approval of or special rights to anyone or any group.
As background, see the law 1365, An Act to End Discrimination, here in HTML. The talking points in the petition effort to defeat it are on the main Maine anti site here.

The repeal people seem to be largely fundamentalists, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. Whether they really believe their talking points is debatable. Yet, they seem to want others to buy into their doublespeak.

For example, the ballot question they want to present to voters reads simply, Do you want to reject the new law that would protect people from discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and credit based on their sexual orientation.

So in response to the quite obvious query from people they want to sign, they suggest:
Q. Isn't this all about discrimination? Why would anyone want to discriminate against gays?

A. Everyone is opposed to discrimination, but the law goes far beyond legitimate forms of discrimination. It is written in such broad terms that it covers behavior which is contrary to God'’s laws, and offensive to common decency. For example, the law would allow a man who believes that he is a woman to use a woman'’s rest room. There are many other examples of this sort. By preventing citizens from speaking out against outrageous and immoral behavior, the law effectively discriminates against people with traditional religious beliefs about homosexuality. The law also grants special privileges to homosexuals, which would allow many unscrupulous individuals to gain an unfair advantage over their fellow citizens through frivolous lawsuits. To say that the law is merely about discrimination is an over-simplification which is intended to be deliberately misleading.
That's a big "Huh?" You want to discriminate, protect those who discriminate, and overturn the anti-discrimination law, but I'm supposed to believe this is not discrimination.

Likewise, the talking point about the sin states to the south reads:
Q. Why do you claim that this is about same-sex marriage when the law mentions nothing about same-sex marriage. Didn'’t the Governor and the Legislature say the law has nothing to do with same sex marriage?

A. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, the actions which made same-sex marriage and civil unions legal took into consideration, or specifically cited, existing gay rights laws as reasons why same-sex marriage laws were needed. The ultimate goal of the gay rights movement has always been same-sex marriage; and they have stated this repeatedly in their own writings. Gay rights activists call this strategy of hiding the ultimate goal of same-sex marriage "“incrementalism."”
I suspect most Mainers will distance themselves from these anti folk. Certainly recently, both voters and lawmakers have shown they don't want to punish and discriminate against folk, no matter what you pretend it's about.

Mad Dad Becomes Maine Gimmick

With four days left to gather 50,000 verifiable voter signatures, the deceptively named Maine Coalition for Marriage is in the second day of its two-day Wake Up Maine tour. They want enough support to get plebiscite on the next ballot to overturn the state's anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation.

If you want to catch the dog-and-pony show, you have until 6 p.m. EDT today in Ellsworth (Family Bible Church, across from Wal-Mart) for the last one. It's likely a short-lived link, but right now New England Cable News' opening page has a video clip of the story.

It shouldn't be funny, but our Lexington head-in-the-sand guy David Parker seems a bit caught up in his reactionary celebrity. He drove downeast to appear with the group. In a piece in Kennebec Journal, the aggrieved agonist played sidekick to the loathsome Brian Camenker of the Article 8 Alliance.
Parker urged Mainers to work to overturn a Maine law that gives gays and lesbians protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

"These laws will be used and have used been in Massachusetts to expose small children to these lifestyles," Parker said to about 25 supporters in the Statehouse Hall of Flags.

Parker and Camenker spoke at the invitation of the Christian Civic League of Maine, which recently launched a "Wake Up, Maine" tour to generate enthusiasm for its people's veto signature drive and to alert Mainers to what's happened in other states with progressive gay rights laws.
It doesn't look on the face of it like even these Traveling Spite Brothers can help amass 50,000 signatures. Yet, there are shopping malls and petition initiatives are very popular, particularly in New England.

Monday, June 13, 2005

More Folk Less Skin Pride Parade

Coming up on 35 years of Gay Pride parades in Boston, this year's version was big – about 8,000 walking, 200,000 watching on Saturday. There was less effort to shock and make personal physical statements. There was more political talk.

This year's organizers themed it Pride in Progress...What's Your Fight? The idea is that while same-sex marriage is in place here, "Gays are still discriminated against in the workplace, children of gay parents are discriminated against," said Pride Committee Director Aandre Davis. "It's still not legal in the rest of the country to get married and AIDS is still a big issue. Until we resolve these matters, the fight is not over."

The Boston Globe coverage noted that this year's parade had numerous corporate and political sponsors. Its article called this trend "another sign of the parade's increasing appeal to the mainstream."

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Up or Down in Oregon

Oregon's hot on Connecticut's tail for civil unions. Its Senate will vote on amending the marriage statutes to permit civil unions. The Senate Rules Committee reported Senate Bill 1073 favorably by 3 to 2.

Not surprisingly, the tally was 3 Democrats for and 2 Republicans against. A full report on the committee action appears in the Salem Statesman-Journal.

Lest you think Oregon is dull, Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown describes herself as a bisexual. She is the unabashed champion of 1073. She is very optimistic that the Senate will pass it.

The dickering could then begin. The House pass its reciprocal-beneficiary bill. That lets unmarried folk get the legal and governmental benefits of marriage.

One senator who won't vote for the unions is Charles Starr, a Republican from Hillsboro. He testified that "Civil unions aren't good for the people who would be in them. The record shows homosexual activity is not normal. Neither the mouth nor the anus were intended for sexual intercourse."

There's the sound reasoning upon which to base your thinking and frame the laws for us all, eh?

No Ban in Maine

It wasn't even close in Augusta, where the Maine House of Representatives defeated a bill to ban same-sex marriages. Despite the state's reputation for stodginess, it might be the next one to legalized them, and by vote rather than court mandate.

The vote on June 8th was 88 to 56 against banning same sex marriages.

Technically, this only kills such a measure for this term of the legislature. However, realistically, the anti forces must recognize that they are nowhere near the required two-thirds votes to add such language to the state's constitution.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Walking the (Gay Pride) Walk

Two leading candidates for Massachusetts governor include one who talks and one who walks. Supposedly a politician would barbecue with the devil to be seen and heard by voters, but only one is taking the chance this time.

Tomorrow is Boston's gay-pride parade, with accompanying music, party, speeches and effusion. Duval Patrick will march (as well as Boston's mayor and his chief challenger in the fall mayoral race). Tom Reilly is sitting on his thumbs and likely squashing his ambitions instead.

Attorney General Reilly says he is for gay rights and is kinda, sorta in favor of same-sex marriage, but really only because it is the law of the land. In contrast, Patrick says that he, like the Democratic party here, supports same-sex marriage and demands equal treatment for homosexuals.

It's Squishy Tom looking spongier by the minute. Every time he makes a statement, he qualifies it and looks more and more confused.

He had his spokeswoman, Sarah Nathan, quibble for him. She said that he would attend his granddaughter's christening instead. Besides, she added, he didn't march in previous pride parades. The latter is a statement that cuts many ways, all of them to Reilly's harm.

Massachusetts voters love liberal Democratic legislators and reactionary Republican governors. Go figure. Regardless of why, the Democratic challenger would have to be strong and un-Republican to have a chance.

Timid Tom seems intent on knocking himself out of the box.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Michigander Ganders

I wouldn't want to be the answering machine for either David G. Myers or Letha Dawson Scanzoni. Their What God Has Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage has already gotten quite a bit of attention in Michigan, where Professor Myers lives and appeared in the Boston Globe "Ideas" section yesterday.

Their book hit the street a few days ago (Harper, ISBN: 0060774614). Scanzoni is a Norfolk, Virginia-based Christian scholar and author. Despite Myers' religious credentials and his slot at Hope College, a Christian liberal school in conservative Holland, Michigan, he won't necessarily be the most popular guy right now. You can read a chapter from his book and a letter from the authors about what they intend on his site

The Globe interview was short but delightfully provocative. While scholars and even casual observers have long known how inaccurate and patchwork the King James version of the Bible is, the authors point out how even the twisted wording from the 17th century Bible-by-committee does not even suggest banning same-sex marriage.

Of course, fundamentalists dare not question, but for the vast majority of us, this is good background.

For example:
IDEAS: But isn't the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19, after the men of Sodom demand that Lot hand over his male visitors so that they might ''know" them, often cited as God's judgment upon homosexuality?

SCANZONI: God's judgment was upon the lack of hospitality and attempted sexual humiliation of the visitors through gang rape. The judgment was not about the love of two homosexual persons for each other. Ezekiel 16 says, ''Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door."

IDEAS: What about the passages in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and First and Second Kings that condemn sodomites or Paul's epistles condemning those men he describes as ''abusers of themselves with mankind"?

SCANZONI: Jewish and Christian scholars agree that the word sodomite doesn't appear in the original language. A Hebrew word for leaders in idolatrous rituals was mistranslated as sodomite in some older English Bible versions. The passages from the epistles refer to exploitative male prostitution practices in St. Paul's time. They don't apply to same-sex marriage any more than admonitions against heterosexual prostitution apply to heterosexual marriage.
That's far too Christian an attitude for many.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Benedict as Predicted

Pope Benedict XVI delivered his first major doctrinal speech yesterday. To no one's surprise, it was anti-artificial insemination and anti-same-sex marriage/civil union.

The gist of his 14-page speech was consistent with his previous statements as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the pope's enforcer of dogma. He didn't need his replacement prefect to speak for him on these issues. In effect, any sexual activity that is for pleasure and not procreation is taboo.

He doesn't get into the messy realities. Many married couples are infertile, at any given moment, probably most. They aren't supposed to have sexual contact. That is also the sin of the active homosexuals and reason to forbid gay unions and marriages. As his speech put it:
The various forms of the dissolution of matrimony today, like free unions, trial marriages and going up to pseudo-matrimonies by people of the same sex, are rather expressions of an anarchic freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man.
Apparently most Roman Catholics don't take his prohibition of sex for any purpose other than making Roman Catholics seriously. Yet as an absolutist, he stakes out his turf plainly.

He has stated several times he wants a smaller church of more obedient members. He seems intent on ensuring the smaller part.

Safety in Sneaking

School administrators and police in several Massachusetts towns used diversions to avoid confrontations with the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrators. In Lexington, the ploy was to reroute buses around the back of the school and skirt the anti-homosexual picketers. In Dracut, they shifted assemblies to different schools, so that kids were not where the demonstrators were.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Hot Day, Cool Greeting

In a series of sit-com length demonstrations, a small group of damnation threatening homosexual haters did show in Lexington to picket churches Saturday and Sunday. This is not the first time the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church visited the area to protest. However, this was not in the dreadfully sinful towns of Boston and Cambridge.

They claim that the local churches are going to hell because they have allowed an atmosphere that accepts homosexuality. They were met with the passive-resistance sorts of hand-holding graying and balding sorts, who had been trained in non-confrontational techniques. It was a good day for the upper middle class residents to feel political and righteous.

The catalyst for this visit was mad dad David Parker's control-freak sit-in at a local elementary school. Amusingly, Parker framed even this in terms of himself. He told the Boston Herald that the Kansas protestors should move their demonstrations to his front lawn. "Do they have the courage to face me instead of small children or will they take the coward's way out and ignore me," he said.

We can wonder whether he has a separate garage to house his ego.

Back in Topeka, the locals have long tired of the WBC and its demented leader, Pastor Fred Phelps. There is a great collection of newspaper articles on the church and its founder here, including the locals' opinions of him.

Oddly enough, Phelps was not a general hater. After moving from Mississippi to Kansas, he became a noted and very successful civil rights lawyer. He was a stalwart fighter for the black community. A plaque he received from the NAACP in recognition of his efforts reads in part:
Even though members of the establishment have attacked from every side, you have remained undaunted and never lost your spark and steely determination for justice.
He noted, however, that there is no conflict between his attitude toward black and gay Americans. "God Almighty never said that it's an abomination to be black," he said.

In Lexington, one of his group called out to St. Brigid Catholics as they left, "You're going to hell. Have a nice day."

Today, WBC should wrap up its roadshow with a protest at the elementary school where Mr. Parker has made himself infamous.

Mad Dad at Arm's Length

Oh, shucks, our favorite irate paternal unit, the mad dad of Lexington, David Parker is looking less and less like a principled civil disobeyer. Now he's playing coy with both his tresspassing charge and his affiliations.

Initially, I thought that forcing his arrest at his kindergartener's school was a statement and that he was willing to take his lumps. According to an interview with the Lexington Minuteman, he is not willing to take responsibility for his actions.

I don't agree with his homophobia and his fantasies that the entire educational department has to dance to his fanciful callings. Yet, I thought he might have some principles. It seems from the latest that not only could he use more RAM and a compassion transfusion, but his ethics are somewhat lacking.

Now he and his lawyers claim that they'll pore over town and school phone call records, faxes and radio transmissions. They'll also try to find one or more other cases where parents were in some way accommodated in curricula. In short, it looks like they'll try to find some excuse to claim he should not face charges for his lengthy sit-in demonstration.

Shame.

The Revolutionary War era orators, protestors and fighters knew they were risking fines, jail, life, limb, family and fortune when they stood up for their beliefs. So did Gandhi, Civil Rights era sitters in and countless others worldwide. This quibbling and technicality seeking is unworthy of his town and nation.

Oh, yes, and in the interview, he distanced himself both from his buddies at the Article 8 Alliance, and his supporters from the hate-mongering Westboro Baptist Church. Of the former, he said, "There's a degree of association, but they do not speak for me." Of the latter, he said he called and asked them not to come.

So there we have the modern hero. He won't act heroically. He wants the praises without the wounds. He has a lot of history and philosophy to read.

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