Friday, April 29, 2005

More from Lexington

The Article 8 Alliance folk (director Brian Camenker) did not disappoint on the mad dad who staged a sit-in at a Lexington, Massachusetts, school. While David Parker himself has little to say and his court appearance for refusing to leave the school after two hours of requests is June 1.

However, look to the Article 8 Website and the MassResistance one for the tropes and illogic. The former site fairly screams, as much as online type can:
Read the Massachusetts Parental Notification Act which the school is ignoring. In this case, the Superintendent claims that homosexuality is not about "human sexuality issues" but "real life" that must be taught to kids.
Unfortunately for the argument, the law is pretty specific. They link to it, where the school is "implementing or maintaining curriculum which primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality issues" that it must notify parents and let them opt out.

Not only does the school do that, the education here involves those picture books. The offending images are of a two-mom family in the yard, kids playing, one mom washing a dog and the other carrying towels on the other side of the picture. Likewise, the other image has two dads preparing dinner in the kitchen. The daughter reads, while one dad sets the table and another cooks.

So to the Parkers and Camenker, that's sexuality. You gotta wonder what their idea of foreplay and sex is.

For more good stuff, go to the MassResistence site for Lexington's New "Captain" Parker. It flames about "homosexual curriculum materials and possible discussions in his child'’s kindergarten class" and whips out Bible quotes. There's Ephesians 6: 10-18. If you've forgotten, sample verse 11: Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. (Actually the King James is a tiny bit more poetic. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. I prefer that one.)

MassResistence included an exhortation for our moral guy — "Yes, David, you are a soldier! Suit up..."

That is "suit up" not "shut up."

Think of the Children: Last?

Oh, shucks, the mad dad in Lexington, Massachusetts, who sat in at his kindergartner's school to protest a diversity picture book may not be as much fun as he first appeared. David Parker seems more like a singer with a one-octave range.

Today's Boston Globe has details about his thinking. Key points include:
  • He chose to spend the night in jail on the trespassing charge rather than accept bail.
  • Parker (63) and wife Tonia (34) recently moved her from New Jersey (not a sin; I went to high-school there).
  • They oppose same-sex marriage, but swear "(t)his is not about creating a forum for hate...We are not intolerant. We love all people. This is part of our faith."
  • The diversity packet he fustigated was no surprise. The school notified them in September that these would come home, what they included and when. The contents were displayed at a back-to-school night, and parents could have refused for kids to bring them home.
  • Tonia may have nodded off that those meetings. She claims ignorance of what the other parents heard.
The point of the packet was informational. The design was for parents to discuss families and diversity with their kids, which is what Parker claims he wants to do.

He somehow decided that two non-judgmental illustrations in a picture book saying that some families had two daddies or two mommies were both sexual in nature and promoting homosexuality rather than stating the obvious.

Alas, David Parker...claiming to be a victim when he had the choices all along,,,finding slights in the breezes...denying his hate while calling it love...refusing to accept his responsibility to teach his child his values and morals when handed the materials...

The only chance for good rhetoric is if the fringe sort at places like the Article 8 Alliance hold forth about this. We can only hope.

Crews Gets Blues

The current Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) president, Kristian Mineau took over when Ron Crews went on leave. Crews, who uses the Dr. honorific because of a divinity degree and not Rev., stepped down as head of the MFI to run for U.S. Congress from Massachusetts’ third district last year. He went toe-to-toe with Democratic incumbent Jim McGovern, a very strong supporter of same-sex marriages and civil right in general.

In a very heavy-handed campaign, Crews used the marriage issue, and such votes and positions as McGovern’s call to finally stop the Cuba embargo. Crews’ campaign site has his colorful and puerile rhetoric, such as the Cuban-issue statement, “VOTE FOR RON CREWS: HE WILL WORK FOR HIS DISTRICT, NOT FLY AROUND THE WORLD TO SUPPORT COMMUNISTS!!!”

Crews earned his extreme positions. He was a Georgia state rep for six years, an Evangelical Presbyterian minister, a chaplain for the Army’s 82nd Airborne, and colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. One would have to have extraordinary intellect and maturity to come out of such a background and not have simple-minded responses to complex issues.

By the bye, the 2004 Election Results for the Massachusetts District 3 U.S. House Race were:
  • Jim McGovern (D): 71% (191,397)
  • Ron Crews (R): 29% (79,948)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Think of the Children: 3

Oh, goody, it looks like a self-righteousness fest, with the emphasis on right. In Lexington, Massachusetts, that David Parker character will fight his trespass charge for sitting in at the local school because he can't get the right to be notified when homosexuals are mentioned, even if the kids bring it up.

Yesterday after a night in jail, he was arraigned in neighboring Concord, where he pleaded innocent. The judge released him on $100 bail and ordered him to stay off school grounds.

Immediately, the Article 8 folk already played a victim card on their Website. The twist is, "Father brought to court Thursday in handcuffs, scolded by judge. Had been refused opportunity to call a lawyer, so did not have legal counsel at hearing!!"

The dad wants privileges no one else gets from public or private schools. There is only one way this can end, but the rhetoric should be a series of keepers. (Unfortunately, the local paper in his town hasn't paid much attention. One teen girl slashed another with a bottle and that's keeping the main reporter hopping.)

Think of the Children: 2

It seems David Parker's interests go beyond picture books. The local paper, the Lexington Minuteman, reports that he also was put out with the Day of Silence for tolerance, or perhaps he couldn't tolerate it, two weeks ago at Lexington High.

At the school committee meeting the day before he staged his sit-in after not getting his petulant demands for selective education, he held forth. The Minuteman reports he and another parent don't need no stinking diversity. To wit:
"[Schools] have unfettered ... access to children's psyches," he said, adding he resents being denied the role of gatekeeper of the information his son is exposed to.

Parker said the accepting of homosexuality is inextricably linked to the sexual element of the lifestyle, something he felt the schools should not foster.

Lorraine Fournier of Cedar Street said she finds "what's happening in the school system appalling," attributing the efforts to the "liberal agendas of the school system."

She protested that words which demean students who are homosexual are banned from the schools but other words like "bigot" and "homophobe" are still used, making students who are exercising their rights feel threatened.
Ah, threatened with ridicule for their this a bad thing?

Think of the Children

You'd best not mention gay couples or gay marriage around a David Parker in well-to-do Lexington, Massachusetts. He was willing to be arrested at his 6-year-old son's kindergarten rather than leave when he didn't get what he wanted -- a promise of censorship rights on what his kid will see and hear.

You can read his statement here. He is backed by the anti-same-sex-marriage Article 8 Alliance, the folk who want to fire the judges who voted to legalize gay marriages.

One would suppose that he is defending his boy against sex education. But wait, there is a requirement that schools get parent approval and give an opt-out form for that. So, what do you suppose twisted the stalwart steward of morality's knickers?

It turns out that it is a picture book, Who's In a Family?, that arrived in a diversity package. Amusingly enough, the Article 8 site shows this probably copyrighted book, apparently to support Parker's case.

In fact, it undermines dim dad. It simply cites the obvious reality that some families have two fathers or two mothers. Parker clearly doesn't like this truth. He seems particularly offended that these normal families are drawn as though they are, well, behaving normally.

I don't like our nation's nuclear arms programs, but I don't demand that schools notify me when they plan to discuss this with my kids. I know it is my obligation to give them a moral framework at home, in church, and particularly by example. Which of those issues would you suppose is more a moral one?

Of course, schools can't cater to every parent's neuroses and prejudices. On the other hand, you have to note that Parker was willing to do one honorable thing, protest and bear the consequences. Thoreau would have applauded his willingness to take his lumps...but surely would have derided the basis for his protest.

Unfortunately for the public view of Parker's position, he let the Alliance 8 folk publish his strident email exchange with the school. One extract includes:
Discussions concerning homosexuality issues will not take place in front of our son, [son's name] (5 yrs old), at Estabrook. This includes material given to [our son] to covertly transport into our household (i.e.- diversity book bag). Such doctrine is against our Christian family beliefs. We will be notified when there are plans to have homosexual material discussed with the students - when [our son] is present - so that we can take action to ensure his spiritual safety. You are not permitted to infringe upon our religious beliefs and parental rights or obviate our freedom of choice, to exclude our son from material that would expose him to beliefs contrary to the Word of God in our Christian faith. Our parental rights and Christian belief system will be respected in this diversity- oriented, anti-biased school community. We know other parents, of various faiths and values, that endorse this position. This is not solely a Christian assertion of rights.

May God bless everyone who reads this to be shown his Love and truth of his Word.

In Christ,
Dave and Tonia Parker

PS- It is requisite that our assertion of rights be documented to teacher/staff; since, there were previous examples of less than adequate communication within the Lexington School system.
It is wonderful to behold the human in civilization asserting rights with no legal basis. This may be akin to rioters telling news photographers they have no right to photograph them doing evil.

Of course, the Parkers have no legal basis here. Perhaps they'll hie their kids to religious schools that offer only a scripted reality. No queers there. Thank you very much.


Do check the new issue of the Stranger, Seattle's alternative weekly. It broke the Microsoft-caves-to-bigot-on-gay-rights story last week. The lead for the April 28th-May 4th issue breaks down the he-said/they-said on it.

It's not often that a big-city weekly gets to run ahead with stories. Bless `em. I hope they have fun for a few more weeks with it.

Bilious Bill Gates has been reacting to news from this tiny rag. That has to be tough for a spoiled rich kid, who blossomed into filthy rich. His legendary arrogance and sense of entitlement do not welcome criticism.

Regardless, the gist of the tale is that Dr. Ken Hutcherson called Microsoft Number 2, Steve Ballmer, on his assertions about gay-rights support. The anti-gay, very anti-gay-rights minister detailed the two meetings he had with MS Senior VP and General Counsel Bradford L. Smith.

According to Hutcherson, Microsoft caved after the meetings. The bit pushers swear that they had already decided to back off supporting gay rights before the meeting. "They're lying," Hutcherson told the Stranger's Sandeep Kaushik. He added that it was only when he promised a nationwide boycott of MS products that the company decided to go neutral on the bill.

The dailies and other media are picking up crumbs from the Stranger's coverage. I recommend heading right to the source to get the details. The spins by all involved are breathtaking.

So whom are you to believe – the homophobic, self-promoting evangelical or the honest-as-any-capitalist megacorp?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bashing/Marriage Coincidence

The dreadful timing of increased anti-gay violence suggests a strong tie to the same-sex marriage debate. The data in a new national report don't prove it scientifically, but it is easy to infer when the bashing soared during the two months of the hottest Massachusetts Constitutional Convention debates.

A third of the 105 incidents reported in the commonwealth occurred in February and March 2004, the months that the anti-same-sex-marriage and general anti-gay demonstrations, oral, print and online rhetoric were strongest and most frequent. "The fact that hate incidents increased during these two months is not coincidental,”" said Emily Pitt, Violence Recovery Program Coordinator of Fenway Community Health Center. "“These numbers bear out what the LGBT community has known for some time, that hate speech leads to hate violence."

You can read the press release on this here. You can get the whole national survey in PDF (an Acrobat-compatible reader required) here. The whole survey is ANTI-LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER VIOLENCE IN 2004: A Report of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

Overall, this area saw a 30% increase in incidents from 2003 to 2004. Disturbingly enough, serial incidents against the same victim increased 240%.

The Fenway Community Health Center collects the data locally and works with the police among others.

The Massachusetts section of the national report includes:
In the last edition of this report, it was noted that while a number of other programs and regions were charting increases, Massachusetts which was a hotspot of both pro and anti-LGBT attention during that state's same-sex marriage battle showed an overall decline in anti-LGBT incidents.

However, it was also pointed out in that edition that there was some evidence of an 'Eye of the Storm' effect in locations at the center of LGBT focus that may depress anti-LGBT violence at the height of attention, but allows such violence to increase once the spotlight is removed and to that end, though Massachusetts showed and overall decrease in anti-LGBT incidents for 2003, and even a 36% decrease in incidents in the last half of 2003, that decline had slowed to 9% in the year's final quarter. That apparent reversal of the significant declines in reported anti-LGBT violence in Massachusetts indicates that as attention moved from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decisions specifically, to the broader issue of same-sex marriage as a national issue, anti-LGBT violence in Massachusetts began to creep up. Additionally, the experience of anti-LGBT violence in Massachusetts clearly changed throughout 2004, resulting in the dramatic increase in incidents throughout the year.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Pro and Con-necticut

The reactionary’s protest of Connecticut’s new civil-union law met in Hartford yesterday. While they only managed 3,000 – less than 1% of the population, the folk there were plainly unhappy.

As claimed by the Family Institute of Connecticut (the leader of the anti forces), the law is pretty much marriage in all but name. It provides the same rights and obligations of a married couple to those in a civil union. This takes effect October 1st.

If polls are reliable, Connecticut is ambivalent. The voters’ will seem to vary considerably by who is asking what question. The Family Institute got a 78% favorable when it asked whether a marriage should be only between a man and a woman. On the other hand, an academic poll by Quinnipiac University this month found that 56% to 37% favored civil unions, while only 42% to 53% favored same-sex marriage.

At the protest, state Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca, said, "I never heard any hate and bigotry from those who support marriage. I heard it from the other side."

He must not have been able to hear the other speakers, many of whom spewed bile and made tabloid-sensational scare claims.
  • The word of God tells us to speak against homosexuality. The word of God tells us to speak against bestiality. Homosexuality is an aberration. – Bishop LeRoy Bailey Jr., The First Cathedral, Bloomfield
  • Calling same-sex struggles for rights a civil rights issue are an "affront to the civil rights movement" as well as "an affront to nature." – Bishop Jay Ramirez, Kingdom Life Christian Church, Milford
  • Show me the evidence that people are born this way. What's next? Marrying your sister? Polygamy? – Ramirez
  • Even the animals respect their boundaries. We are not homophobics. We love all people. But we don't love practices that are out of place. – Rev. Moses Mercedes, Greater Bridgeport Clergy Council
Well, it’s a good thing there was no bigotry there. Thanks to all the men of God who showed us how they love others.

Marriage Insecurity

It is really to easy to make fun of the Massachusetts Family Institute’'s statements and press releases. They tend to be simultaneously reactionary and emotionally based. That doesn'’t mean that they aren'’t sincere. One of the most risible and most quoted MFI-related comments was:
"This is affecting me immediately because my children are in conflict. It's putting my children in turmoil," said Kris Mineau, leader of the conservative Massachusetts Family Institute. "I've always argued that from May 17 onward, my heterosexual marriage was no longer unique, no longer a standard for the culture, and that's an affront to me and it grieves me."
Wags were quick to ask what part of the U.S. or Massachusetts constitutions guaranteed “uniqueness” to individuals. Yet Mineau'’s remarks do illustrate that basic reactionary conundrum. They seem to have a very bad feeling that somehow same-sex marriage is doing something terrible to heterosexual marriage. Now if they could only have some intellectual basis for this...

In contrast, the many legislators and other who support same-sex marriage rights tend to be straight, married and secure. Same-sex marriage doesn'’t threaten or demean their own marriages in any way, they typically state.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

MS #2 Dances

Well, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, supposedly has the guts of the management team. At least he permitted publication of his response to the furor of his company dropping support for gay-rights legislation. It lost by one vote right after this, as described here.

Ballmer let his memo to 35,000 MS folk hit the Web. It's widely available, including here.

It is less than convincing or satisfying. It reads like what it is, huge company PR. He wrote:
When our government affairs team put together its list of its legislative priorities in Olympia before the Legislative Session began in January, we decided to focus on a limited number of issues that are more directly related to our business such as computer privacy, education, and competitiveness. The anti-discrimination bill was not on this list and as a result Microsoft was not actively supporting the bill in the Legislature this year, although last year we did provide a letter of support for similar legislation.
He also claimed that "while the company was not taking a position on HB 1515, the company remains strongly committed to its internal policies supporting anti-discrimination and industry-leading benefits for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees." Of course, that's so many words and does not jibe with reality of MS knowing this legislation was up for a vote and that "committed" to anti-discrimination means acting not posturing.

The memo added:
I understand that many employees may disagree with the company's decision to tighten the focus of our agenda for this year's legislative session in Olympia. But I want every employee to understand that the decision to take a neutral stance on this bill was taken before the Session began based on a desire to focus our legislative efforts, not in reaction to any outside pressure.
So, that is supposed to make it okay that the silent sanction MS gave to the anti-rights people was its own decision. It can foster discrimination through inaction – without any outside bigots forcing it to do so.

Sorry about your rights. You have them inside the Microsoft campus. What'd ya want?

If employees wanted to know what Microsoft's commitment means, they should have gotten it this time.

Hush My Mouth in Hartford

Well, I was wrong when I implied that the Family institute of Connecticut wouldn't be able to rally the troops today in Hartford to protest civil unions. They did manage to get about 3,000 unhappy folk, many spouting hateful slogans and election threats against legislators.

The full report is online at the Courant Website.

It should not be amusing but it is to wonder how the nervous legislators who amended the law to put in DoMA wording – marriage = one man + one woman – will take this. They thought they had covered their back pockets. Most voters approved of civil unions and the House members who put in the restriction likely figured they'd placate the disgruntled minority. Well, they did not gruntle them.

The Institute's executive director, Brian Brown, urged voting out the legislators who approved the law. That would be the large majority of the legislature, senators and representatives who tend to a lot more constituent services and bills than this one. Of course that's not going to happen and a few thousand unhappy voters out of millions won't do it.

Yet, it is fascinating to see how hostile and angry the demonstrators are. What is sure is that many senators and representatives in Connecticut will be spending the off-session making nice to small pockets of sore losers.

Same-Sex Timeout

The jolly Catholic Action League of Massachusetts is back at it. Last November, it joined with the odious Liberty Counsel in trying to overturn -- using activist judges to correct activist judges -- the same-sex marriage decision by the Supreme Judicial Court.

Now on May 2nd, its suit to halt these marriages here goes to a hearing before -- ta da -- the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). The full report appears in the Springfield Republican's site here. A highlight:
C. Joseph Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League, contends that gay marriages are undermining the rights of himself and others to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage simply as the union of a man and a woman. Doyle is asking the court to suspend the marriages, at least until a vote.
This is too delicious. Stop the merry-go-round, I'm feeling dizzy.

The docket entry for this hearing is here. There's nothing juicy in it.

His lawyer, Chester Darling of Andover, had to argue that poor Joey's "ability to vote is being inhibited and interfered with. The court declared an outcome before a vote was taken on the amendment."

GLAD attorney Michele Granda countered in her brief that the suit showed no connection, or as she added, "His argument makes no sense." Hear. Hear.

Last year, Doyle's similarly ungrounded suit for a six-month stay same-sex marriages was denied by an SJC judge because he didn't have any standing to file it. Both that suit and the current one revolve about issues from eighth-grade civics and first-year law-school. You gotta ask whether the Catholic Action League folk are just chest thumping or not too bright.

A calm head, if you pardon the pun on the League's acronym, was Jennifer Levi, co-counsel for the seven same-sex couples in the original action that legalized their marriages. "People have been married. No one has been harmed by that."

Indeed, that may be the highest hurdle, legally and emotionally, for the reactionaries to get over. There I do agree with them – the longer people see that same-sex marriage do not cause problems or undermine anything except to aggravate the neuroses of a few, the less likely they are to object.

"Move along. These are not the droids you seek," worked for the Jedi knight in Star Wars. I wonder if he's available for service in Massachusetts.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Who is Dr. Ken?

Inquiring, perspiring minds want to know, who is this Rev. Ken Hutcherson of the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond Washington, who can melt Microsoft's marshmallows?

He's an affable looking fellow, as you can see on his bio page. Interestingly enough, he wasn't very big for a pro footballer at six feet and 220 pounds. He married a white lady and has cultivated a mulit-racial congregation in the past 21 years of preaching.

By the bye, he preaches less than three miles from a large software maker in Redmond.

Hutcherson Facet #1

He is a literal evangelical. He honestly believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

I sincerely doubt that even exegesis by brilliant Biblical scholars offering anything but a straight ahead acceptance of the very faulty King James version would change his mind at all.

An example of his thinking came from a Memphis religious rally. He was widely quoted including this account, as he said, ""God took time out from all of that creation -- stopped, made man, said 'It is not good for man to be alone,' made woman -- and he created man and woman for the privilege of marriage. Do not touch God's creation."

Hutcherson Facet #2

He is a homophobic reactionary, one who wants to convert homosexuals or shun them.

In a Washington Post interview for example, he discussed his attitude.
God, Hutcherson said, condemns homosexuality. "I think it's a choice," he said. When his church members identify a gay person who is unable to change, "you kick them out," he said.
A study on his attitude about how black ministers should ban together to fight same-sex marriage is available on the very conservative site.

Note that this brings up a newsletter in PDF. You need a compatible reader (and tolerance) to view it.

"If the church doesn't come together and fight against the issue of gay marriages, we might as well quite trying to tell the world what's right and wrong," he said. In the same piece, he adds, "Some people have been surprised that I am not afraid to fight the homosexual community, but I have a calling from God. Nothing else worries me."

Well, from the New Testament view, I think he should be pretty worried about such intolerance.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Gormless Gates

Oh stereotypes, where are you now? Just when we all knew that Microsoft was arrogant and powerful, Billy Gates cowers before an evangelical group on gay rights.

Microsoft of course denies all, but the facts speak pretty loudly. They first came to light in the Seattle weekly The Stranger. It produced an article about how after meeting with a threatening minister, the computer coward withdrew his company's decades-long support for anti-discrimination just before a gay-rights bill came before the legislature. The bill lost by a single vote. Read the original report by Sandeep Kaushik here. Read the New York Times take on it here.

House Bill 1515 would have forbidden discrimination by sexual orientation in employment, housing, banking and insurance. Read the text here. Microsoft, with an allegedly liberal management and a good dose of homosexual employees and contractors had long supported such legislation.

Company officials met twice with Antioch Bible Church Senior Minister Ken Hutcherson, who seems to be rabidly anti-gay. Word from inside Microsoft and boasting from Hutcherson's people is that Gates' people folded upon threats of a nationwide boycott of its software.

Former Seahawks linebacker Hutcherson heads a church with 3,500 members. He previously organized Mayday for Marriage that rallied 140,000 anti-same-sex folk in the other Washington (D.C.) last spring. He was one of the most outspoken of black leaders who object to any comparison of gay rights and African-American ones.

The article in The Stranger reported that he not only wanted Microsoft to withdraw support for the legislation, he also wanted two gay Microsoft employees who testified in favor of the bill to be canned. Apparently he got the former but not the latter.

The article cites state State Rep. Ed Murray as saying that "...the company was faced with a 'profound' moral test, which it failed. The backpedaling 'sends an incredible message of weakness and shows a lack of moral backbone. I mean, what is this? Is this the 1930s, and are they Krupps?'"

In Kaushik's judgment:
After meeting with Hutcherson, Microsoft had to make a choice: Maintain its long-standing, progressive support for civil rights or side with reactionary forces advocating discrimination. The company chose the latter. The gay Microsoft employee who spoke to The Stranger concluded, "Microsoft needs to feel the pain of a bad decision here."
What good is it to be a corporate bully if you cave to a petty tyrant and bigot? Ask Bill.

There is much shame tonight in Seattle, both for the bully preacher and the bullied capitalist.

Senator Heavy in D.C.

Apparently, Congress still considers the District of Columbia as its playground. The new chair of the Senate Appropriates Subcommittee on the District has threatened D.C.'s mayor with financial disaster.

Sen. Sam Brownback (D-Kansas) told Mayor Anthony Williams that if the District recognizes same-sex marriages, it will likely lose federal money and domestic-partner benefits. That's serious stuff to the District, which can't tax like a state can. It gets about $8 billion from Congress every year to run the show.

News reports quote the bristly senator as, "I was hopeful we weren't going to be confronting this issue. But it appears there will need to be a review and a discussion."

That's pretty strong posturing, but not surprising from someone who may run for POTUS in 2008.

From his office, Williams has consulted with each the District CFO and attorney general. He expects to have a decision soon.

New Pope Old Thoughts

It didn't take long for the new pope, Benedict XVI, to show his colors. While he claimed he would try to unify and reach out to diverse groups, like John Paul II attempted, he condemned the Spanish parliament's Thursday vote in favor of gay marriage.

He knew this was pending and that the approval by the Senate and subsequent enactment are almost certain. The Spanish newspapers today run this as the second, third or fourth story. It's a yawner there, even in that heavily Roman Catholic country.

However Pope Benedict used the head of the Pontifical Council on the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, to denounce the vote. The Cardinal spoke to the Italian newspaper of record, Corriere della Sera.

A report in English is available from the Spanish daily Expatica here. You can get the flavor from the lead:
The new pope hit back at a new Spanish bill allowing homosexuals to marry and adopt children, saying Christians had a duty to oppose such 'iniquitous' legislation.
While the Netherlands and Belgium have also legalized same-sex marriage, only Spain so far also allows homosexual couples to adopt children.

Trujillo called for Spanish municipal officials (virtually all of them Catholic) to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages. He said that homosexuals "deserve all our love, our support and our aid." However, his points of practice conflict jarringly.

The municipal officials "should exercise the same conscientious objection asked of doctors and nurses against a crime such as abortion. This is not a matter of choice: all Christians... must be prepared to pay the highest price, including the loss of a job."

There's your reaching out, pardner.

The Curious Emile Goguen: Part 5

Unless Rep. Goguen acts up again, this should be the final post on him.

Most people in Massachusetts don’'t seem to see a connection between permitting same-sex couples to marry and threatening heterosexual marriage. Emile Goguen does. His full letter seeking support for removing five Supreme Judicial Court justices appears here. The part iterating his motives is:
Several in my Party were concerned about my expression of my feeling. They understood that I am a team player and not a crusader. However, this attack on traditional marriage is a huge event for our state, our country and Western civilization. I knew this ruling from Marshall and her colleagues had hit the core values in my marriage, as it would in so many others.

I know many gay people. They know I bear no ill will to them, but they also know that my family is the key to my life, and I knew that I could not allow just one person to make this monumental change to our civilization that had been in place for thousands of years. Certainly it required more discussion than had been allowed by Judge Marshall.

As I learned more about the process that Margaret Marshall had used, I felt my decision even more strongly.

The other three judges on the court, Francis Spina, Martha Sosman and Robert Cordy said that Marshall broke our Massachusetts Constitution, because she did not have the power to do what she was doing. If this were to be done, it must be done by the legislature after long and careful debate. However, there is no doubt in my mind that it must be done only by the citizens after years of debate in the amendment process, but not the amendments we passed last spring, which were a farce. If the citizens do not have the ability to make a decision in this matter, then the whole principle of our government must be discarded.

I do not believe we are ready to jettison our democracy and choose a new form of government just because some are in a rush to proceed.

Have “we” given up on our citizens? And if so, exactly who is “we”?

I believe we must slow up what is happening and take a long, slow look at what has been serving us well since the founding of our country. As I learned more about the removal process that was put into our Massachusetts Constitution by the man who wrote it in 1780, John Adams, I realized this is what we must use in order to be sure we do not act hastily. It was put here just for an occasion such as this. If we remove Judges Marshall, John Greaney, Roderick Ireland and Judith Cowin, we do not do so in anger or to punish. We do so in order to take a long, hard look at what we are accomplishing, instead of rushing it through.

Part one of this series is here.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

From Hartford, Yes...But

As predicted, Connecticut has enacted civil unions, but with DoMA restrictions. Yesterday, the conference committee's work ground up the unrestricted Senate version with the one man/one woman amendment House one, putting the civil-union sausage on the governor's desk. She signed it.

As of October 1, 2005, Connecticut becomes the third state in the nation to recognize same-sex unions or marriages. In an amusing form of boosterism, the Hartford Courant article differentiates the law, but not by the DoMA trapping or by its stopping short of recognizing marriage. Instead, it reports:
Vermont is the only other state to recognize civil unions. Massachusetts allows gays to marry. But unlike Connecticut, those states were reacting to court rulings.
Similarly the Boston Globe found a local angle. It led page one with the story (probably a welcome relief to readers from Big Dig leaks). Its version reported:
'Massachusetts had a profound impact on the debate here," said Andrew McDonald, the openly gay chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a chief proponent of civil unions. ''People took notice of that -- that a state had adopted same-sex unions and not been diminished one bit."
So sub-regionalism aside, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell considers it a big victory for civil rights. Although she's a Republcan, she shouldn't have any serious problems for supporting this among other homosexual rights. Most of the voters favored civil unions.

Supporters of the law were pleased, to varying degrees. Some took it as a triumph. Others, such as Anne Stanback were understandably angry at the DoMA amendment. She is president of Love Makes a Family of Connecticut. Her group was one of several that initially opposed civil unions, thinking Connecticut had a real shot at a Massachusetts-style same-sex marriage. "It's bittersweet," she said. A supporter in the Senate, Edith Prague (D-Columbia) called the House amendment "belittling."

Make that just bitter for the anti forces and haters. While there were only happy folk at the State House yesterday, the dark side will try to assemble a protest demonstration for Sunday. It will be fascinating to see how many they can muster in such a get-along-go-along state.

In his analysis, the executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, Brian Brown called this law "a sad day for the state." Predictably, he threatened -- the majority -- of legislators with loss of their seats. "This vote will not be forgotten," he blustered. "If the goal was to push this through in a non-election year, they were 100% wrong."

His Website has been advertising the rally as a call for Rell to veto the legislation. Since she already signed it, you have to wonder whether they'll cry in their beers or make more threats against the majority of their legislators. Good luck, eh? At least the rally is at 4 p.m., so that they can go to church and mow their lawns first.

Amusingly, the Republican leader of the Senate, Lou DeLuca, probably has the right map in front of him. He opposed civil unions, wants a plebiscite on the issue, and fears that gay marriage is in the works for Connecticut eventually. As he put it, "This is just one step on the way to what I believe runs contrary to the will of the people of Connecticut."

That is very similar to the Massachusetts rhetoric by the folk trying to roll back same-sex marriage to civil unions with an amendment by ballot in 2006. Yet, time works against the anti folk when they see that neither civil unions nor same-sex marriages cause problems nor do anything but positives. Even in a heavily Roman Catholic state like Connecticut, no one seems to be expecting an Old Testament Lord to appear suddenly to do any smiting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Curious Emile Goguen: Part 4

Rep. Emile Goguen has a couple of other marriage-related bills up for consideration this term of the Massachusetts House, as well has trying to throw out the justices who legalized same-sex marriage.

His 653, is a DoMA fill that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It precludes civil unions as well with its wording. “Any other relationship shall not be recognized as a marriage or its legal equivalent, nor shall it receive the benefits or incidents exclusive to marriage from the Commonwealth, its agencies, departments, authorities, commissions, offices, officials and political subdivisions.” That bill is so nasty and so against the feelings of most voters that civil unions would be okay, that he only got Rep. Philip Travis to co-sponsor it.

His 654 was even worse. Nobody would sign on. It wants to void the same-sex marriages performed since May 17, 2004.

Last year, his bill to can the justices died in committee. “I’'ll keep submitting it until hell freezes over,” he told the Fitchburg area Sentinel & Enterprise.

Incredibly, in comments to that newspaper, Goguen tries to compartmentalize his actions. “He says his opposition "wasn'’t targeted at gays but at the Supreme Judicial Court justices who ruled the state had unconstitutionally banned same-sex marriage...’'I have nothing against gay people. I know I'’ve been accused of not treating people the same. It’'s not true.’”'"

Go figure.

Part one of this series is here. Part five is here.

DC Tax Clarity -- Kind of

District of Columbia same-sex couples who married in Massachusetts can file joint tax returns, according to the attorney general there. However, the city's tax folk have the authority to reject any of these filings reports the Washington Post. Huh?

The move by D.C. Attorney General Robert J. Spagnoletti has thus squeezed D.C.'s Mayor Anthony A. Williams and CFO Natwar M. Ganhdi. The latter wants clarification from the other two. Likewise, the mayor turned to the District's lawyers for advice.

Spagnoletti says his ruling was in response to two married-in-Massachusetts men who asked for it as last Friday's tax filing date approached. He says it is the only such request he got from a D.C. couple who had married in Massachusetts.

Williams has tried to avoid taking a position for the District on same-sex marriage. A local paper, the Washington Blade quoted him last spring as, "I'm getting pressure from people who are saying, 'Look, with the political situation we're facing nationally, why do we need to do this now?' And I'm facing, obviously, pressure from the other side, saying we needed to do this last week."

That last-week allusion is real now. As Peter Rosensetin, a member of the local gay and lesbian taskforce there told the Post, "It was felt there would be a case where someone married in Massachusetts would file in D.C. Obviously that's now happening. And the city will have to deal with it."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Putting the Uh-oh in Oregon

Put on a flack jacket and hardhat and head over to the Salem, Oregon, Statesman Journal. It ran a reader poll about the recent state Supreme Court nullification of over 3,000 same-sex marriages.

Those who think that Massachusetts voters were conflicted about same-sex marriages and civil unions, need to cruise the many pages of response to:
The Oregon Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling nullifying gay marriage. What do you think about it? What should happen now? Should the state Legislature back Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s legislation allowing civil unions for same-sex couples and outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians? Should the Legislature do nothing about it? Should the plaintiffs file another lawsuit to seek gay marriage?
How about:
  • The gay people of the world have all of the same rights as I have. They are just wanting more above the norm. Let them get their mind straight, and get married to one of the opposite sex and their marriage rights will be upheld."
  • Good for the Oregon Supreme Court! It shows real leadership when our courts take a stand against an abnormal behavior that for centuries has been outlawed. Everyone knows that a homosexual relationship is declared as a sin. It seem like people have forgotton what God has declared through writings in the Bible. Anyone for gay marriage has declared that they are on the dark side and will be damned in hell when the time comes (which is a lot sooner than they can imagine).
  • Incrementalism hits a bump in the road. Expect other attacks. The agenda continues . . . . .
  • It is a travesty of injustice, but not unexpected. The dying behemoth of homophobic intolerance is making its final marks in the sands of time... but those marks, like any in the sand of a beach, will eventually be washed away. In ten, twenty, thrirty or more years the hysterical and intolerant majority of today will be looked upon as the same kind of closedminded fools that raved against and persecuted interracial marriages, who circled the wagons against the concept of equal rights for women or before that those who fought against women even being allowed to vote.
And there is much, much more.

Belly of the Beast

Down in Connecticut, Ryvr is intellecutally and emotionally involved in the marriage/civil-union debate and legislation. See his blog for comments from the trenches.

He's against DoMA wording too, and remarks:
There is a theme that runs through the right-wing successes of the past few years and also the liberal failures. It is this: the right-wingers wage their campaigns on *principles*, even if they are misguided ones. We must have principles both in order to win and also to be able to sleep at night.

These are my principles with regard to equal marriage rights and civil unions:

- Same-sex couples fully and urgently deserve equal marriage rights.

- Civil unions may give some of the rights of marriage, but this separate-and-not-equal institution is overall an insult and should not be welcomed.

- DOMA's (Defense of Marriage Act) are unconstitutional and wrong. They cannot be accepted under any circumstances, certainly not as a compromise with civil unions.

The Curious Emile Goguen: Part 3

Last June, Rep. Emile Goguen did his Martin Luther variation. He released a five-count “indictment” of four of the seven justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The full text is on-line here.

It is rambling and of highly questionable legal reasoning, but he put a lot into it. The indictment, as he called it, was as detailed as it was inflammatory. It accused Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and the others with willful misconduct and actual crimes. The other three are complacent and complicit, he claimed. Marshall he accuses of aiding, abetting and colluding with same-sex marriage advocates before and during the case.

The counts are:
  1. Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall Did Encourage, Aid and Abet Atty. Mary Bonauto and GLAD in Bringing the Lawsuit, "Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health" In Violation of the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct
  2. Justice Marshall Permitted the Chief Justice of the Superior Court, Suzanne V. DelVecchio, to Encourage GLAD and Attorney Mary Bonauto to File the "Goodridge" case in the Massachusetts Courts, In Violation of Section E(1) of the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct
  3. Justice Marshall Spoke to the Press Immediately After the Release of Her Opinion in Order to Portray Herself as a Champion of Civil Rights, in Violation of Section B(9) of Canon 3 of the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct
  4. Judge Marshall's Three Companions Have Joined Her in Violating Article XXX of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights
  5. No Open and Fair Public Discussion Was Ever Allowed In Violation of the Preamble to the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct
Note: Article XXX is a spongy phrase about courts not exercising legislative or executive branch powers.

He subsequently filed a bill of address, House 652, to kick the judges off the court. Despite his personal pleas and a letter to each other state rep, he only managed to get four co-sponsors to sign on. They are Philip Travis, 4th Bristol; Edward G. Connolly, 28th Middlesex; David M. Nagle, 17th Middlesex; and Marie J. Parente; 10th Worcester.

In response, speaking to the Boston Globe Arline Isaacson, cochairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, dismissed the bill as "absolute insanity." "I can understand if our opponents don't like the decision, but our opponents have no rational basis for removing any of these judges. They were clearly doing their job and, quite frankly, doing it well. Their job, after all, is to determine what's constitutional or not. Our opponents are acting like sore losers."

Part one of this series is here. Part four is here.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Curious Emile Goguen: Part 2

He seems like a good Catholic kid (he’s in his 70s now). His affiliations are pretty wholesome – American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and Knights of Columbus.

His town, Fitchburg, is alive, but not too healthy. Is 40,000 residents saw much better days when Worcester County was an important manufacturing area. Its downtown is a tarnished shell of its former diverse glory, the upper classes have deserted the area, and it shares abandoned mill buildings as a characteristic with many small New England cities.

First as a councilor and now as a state representative, Goguen has been the bring-it-home type of politician. He is unabashed in asking what he can do for Fitchburg.

A lot of years ago in my first college sociology class, the professor admonished us not to try to ascribe motives in our analyses or expect to predict behavior. Yet, I still have to wonder why Goguen would let his good works be overshadowed in this quixotic jousting at same-sex marriage.

He doesn’t have to posture with the voters for re-election. He undermines his credibility with other legislators. There is no tangible benefit to his constituents. So I am left assuming that as he has declared in letters to be quoted later, that he honestly believes that same-sex marriage is in some unspecified way harmful to his own heterosexual marriage.

Despite his speeches, letters and garment rending, he can’t line up enough legislators to support his silly bills. Sometimes, he has been the only sponsor of one. It’s embarrassing.

His main efforts have been toward having a DoMA passed in Massachusetts — long after the horses have left the barn, and lately to remove the judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

Part one of this series is here. Part three is here.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Curious Emile Goguen: Part 1

Perhaps it is a cautionary tale for each of us. A somewhat good-hearted appliance-repairman soils his legacy through unrelenting mean-spiritedness. A second career of public service will likely bear the brand of division and spite. At the best, folk will say he aged badly, hence the caution.

Picture if you will Emile J. Goguen, a graduate of the New England Air Conditioning and Technical School. He is a disabled Korean War vet. He had a career in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He became a Fitchburg city councilor for 24 years. Along the way, inspired by recovering alcoholics on his staff, he bought a building 11 years ago to convert to a shelter for manic depressives and drug addicts.

In 1991, he won election as Representative to the State House, where he still serves. He sits on Joint Ways and Means, House Ways and Means and Elderly Affairs (where he is co-chair), and Local Affairs and Regional Government committees. He was a major player in keeping his town'’s hospital open.

That’s not exactly sainthood, except for funding the shelter, but he sounds pretty good, eh?

There is a big wrinkle in his fine garments, however. No matter what else Goguen does or says, he’'ll surely be known primarily as the crackpot, homophobe who tried his damnedest to get the pro-same-sex voting Massachusetts Supreme Court justices thrown off the bench.

Details to follow.

Part two of the series is here.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Hints from Oregon

It turns out that Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski favors civil unions. He campaigned on them, was elected with that on his platform, and now sees the recent state Supreme Court nullification of same-sex marriage licenses as reason to press the issue.

At his request, Senate bill 1000 was already in the works. It provisions include:
Establishes requirements and procedures for entering into civil
union contract. Applies only to civil unions between persons of
same sex. Provides that partners in civil unions have same
privileges, immunities, rights, benefits and responsibilities
under state law as are granted to or imposed on persons who are
or were married.
In Salem, the Statesman Journal recaps the next legislative steps. It quotes the Senate majority leader, Kate Brown, as saying the door is wide open for civil unions after the court decision. As legal experts, she notes that the decision avoided the constitutional issues.

On the House side, Rep. Vicki Berger has not read Senate 1000 yet. She likes the idea. She has sponsored an unrelated bill that outlaws discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

It could be a fun session. The Statesman Journal reports that in the past three decades, the voters have turned down anti-homosexual ballot initiatives repeatedly. On the other hand, the pro-homosexual-rights bills have failed in the legislature.

What Next in Salem?

Following the Oregon Supreme Court decision nullifying same-sex marriage licenses issued last year, everyone from the governor on down seems unsure about the next step. The Oregonian has a recap of the issues and steps.

The key points seem to be:
  1. Like numerous states, Oregon forbids discrimination. So the legal foundation is there for at the least civil unions.
  2. Yesterday's decision avoided the broader, constitutional conflicts between the old marriage wording and the discrimination laws.
  3. Because the court decided on narrow, procedural issues rather than the Massachusetts decision on the underlying ones, other suits can still bring the big issues up.
  4. The governor wants civil unions, but the legislators are nervous and pretend that other big topics will keep them from even debating that.
For the short term at least, both pro and anti same-sex marriage forces intend to lobby the legislature. A few groups have promised more legal actions to force rulings on the constitutional issues.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Almost Civil Civil Union

Yesterday, the Connecticut House approved a civil-union bill for same-sex couples. However, conservatives amended it with a rider than specifies that marriages in the state are between a man and a woman only.

The state Senate had already passed a civil-union bill -- without the rider -- and should approve one with the amendment in conference. The House vote was 85 to 63, and last week's Senate one was 27 to 9.

Some bad will may remain. Of 52 Republicans in the House, 14 joined 71 Democrats in favor in the House, but Speaker James A. Amann did not. The DoMA-style amendment was tighter and more partisan. It was 80 to 67 to define marriage as heterosexual. The Republican vote was 47 to 4 (one absent). Democrats were 33 for and 63 against (three absent).

The Family Institute of Connecticut had led a vote-no drive on the civil-union law. The ever-jolly executive director, Brian Brown, told the Hartford Courant reporter that the amendment was only "paying lip service" to anti groups like his."It's still same-sex marriage in everything but name," Brown said.

On both points, he may well be right. The House version includes:
Parties to a civil union shall have all the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law, whether derived from the general statutes, administrative regulations or court rules, policy, common law or any other source of civil law, as are granted to spouses in a marriage.
Another minor amendment limits civil unions to those over 18.

The New York Times quoted Senator Andrew J. McDonald, main sponsor of the bill in the other house, as saying "There are 588 rights and opportunities that are going to be made available to same-sex couples. That's an undeniable victory of unprecedented proportions."

Gov. M. Jodi Rell should sign the bill after both houses finalize it. According to the Washington Post, Rell checked with her attorney general's office to ensure that this was not really legalizing same-sex marriage. When she heard from Attorney General Richard Blumenthal that it was not, she urged the House members to pass the bill.

If the cliché that good agreements mean that everyone is a little unhappy, this one qualified. The same-sex marriage folk wanted Massachusetts-style legalization. The anti groups wanted defeat. The liberal sorts hate the DoMA worded amendment. The conservatives fear a slippery slope into the swamp of happy homosexuals debasing marriage for all of us straights.

Oregon Gone

Well, it's back to Massachusetts only marrying same-sex couples. Today the Oregon Supreme Court nullified over 3,000 marriages conducted last year in Multnomah County. You can read the full decision in HTML here.

The decision reversed a circuit one that supported the marriage because they led to the couples receiving the benefits of marriage previously denied them. In slicing and dicing, the state's highest court directed the circuit court to dismiss that action.

Since the marriages, the voters adopted Ballot Measure 36, a DoMA, state-constitution amendment that reads: "It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage." Today's decision goes into some depth with reasoning by this has the effect of law.

The conclusion of the decision is:
In summary, we conclude as follows. First, since the effective date of Measure 36, marriage in Oregon has been limited under the Oregon Constitution to opposite-sex couples. Second, Oregon statutory law in existence before the effective date of Measure 36 also limited, and continues to limit, the right to obtain marriage licenses to opposite-sex couples. Third, marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in Multnomah County before that date were issued without authority and were void at the time that they were issued, and we therefore need not consider the independent effect, if any, of Measure 36 on those marriage licenses. In short, none of plaintiffs' claims properly before the court is well taken. Finally, the abstract question whether ORS chapter 106 confers marriage benefits in violation of Article I, section 20, of the Oregon Constitution is not properly before the court.
So, 6,000 people were married and are suddenly not.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wallet-ful of Bills

The Massachusetts legislature was back in session, with a plethora of same-sex marriage related bills. So far, there are at least eight to consider, including:
  • Ban both same-sex marriage and civil unions
  • Remove four of the five Supreme Judicial Court justices who approved same-sex marriage
  • Repeal the 1913 law forbidding out-of-state couples from marrying if the wedding would not be legal in their home states.
These go before a hearing to decide which advance to the House and Senate here. Most will drop because their subjects are already on the agenda in preparation for the votes later this year on whether to put a same-sex amendment to the voters next year.

Not in the Same Can

Nothing in Massachusetts marriage law forbids two homosexual prison inmates from wedding. The commonwealth Department of Correction can, and has, forbid it a few times already. It has allowed others.

According to the Boston Globe, it has a copy of the denial letter to Essie Billingslea and Bruce Hatt. It says that letting two men in the same prison marry presents "very serious security the Massachusetts Treatment Center and the Department of Correction." This came with the signature of the Bridgewater Superintendent, Robert Murphy. Gov. Mitt Romney concurred.

The department split on the two other same-sex marriage requests it has received. In another involving two men in the same facility, it also denied the request. In one where a female inmate wanted to marry an unincarcerated woman, it permitted the union.

Murphy said that he thought the men in the recent case might be harassed or assaulted by other inmates if he permitted the marriage. He also said that he thought that the inmate who had previously said he was homosexual might have coerced the one who had not.

The Boston Herald quotes different sections of the letter, as well as referring to the men as "jailbirds turned lovebirds." It cites Murphy as writing, "Your record reflects that you have been found guilty of several disciplinary infractions including threats to another resident, encouraging a riot, and threatening a staff member." Department of Correction spokeswoman Kelly Natal, noted that the men could legally wed, but, the Herald reported "security concerns take precedence."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Another Roy Cohn

You know you have amoral behavior -- or worse -- when what you do lets Bill Clinton take the high ground. Spinmeister Arthur Finkelstein has managed to do that in spades.

The fellow who is starting a preemptive anti-Hillary-for-President site and campaign also was the brains behind the negative campaigning of Jesse Helms. He devised the campaigns to smear Democratic gubenatorial candidate Paul Cellucci as a free-spending, Dukakis liberal, and for North Carolina Senator Lauch Faircloth to attack John Edwards as a Bill-Clinton liberal.

He has earned his living for decades advising the worst of the hate-mongers. While he was outed as gay in 1996, he persisted in working for homophobic Republican right.

That shouldn't be a problem in this capitalist nation. He's from conservative North Shore Ipswich, Massachusetts. There according to Boston Herald columnist Margery Egan he's seen as by one neighbor as "'great with his kids and really well liked,' among the landed gentry, horsey, private school set." Again, no problem.

Oh, there is one other thing...last December he married his male partner of 40 years. According to the New York Times, his primary motivation was to get the capitalist benefits of insurance and healthcare, and to have the rights for hospital visitation.

So, we all need to wrap our minds around the arch-conservative professional political consultant acting out. He fosters homophobic legislation through his candidates. He trains and helps elect the anti-gay-marriage crowd. He takes what his guys deny to others.

The Globe was just one paper who had sources noting that Finkelstein is a hypocrite. They cite state Democratic Party chair Phillip Johnston as, "For years he's worked for right-wing candidates who demonize gays and lesbians, and who have tried to prevent gays and lesbians from being married."

Well, it's legal for gay men to marry in Massachusetts. As Finkelstein might say, "Don't blame me. The pie was on the windowsill."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Cohabitation Inspiration

Sharon, Massachusetts, is a pretty wealthy, staid commuter town south of Boston. In 1986, it saw the catalyst for overturning the 202-year-old state law against cohabitation by an unmarried couple.

We may never know if it was a disgruntled ex-something that made the complaint, but someone notified the town selectmen that two police officers, Linda Farris and Lawrence Phaneuf, had cohabitated for six months in nearby Foxborough. [Speaking for the town without saying much, Norman Katz commented about who initiated the complaint, "It's interesting, but I'm not going to tell you," according to an article at the time in the Boston Globe.]

An additional wrinkle was that Farris was separated from her husband but a couple of weeks away from the divorce being final.

In a three-hour meeting, the selectmen flogged the subject to death. The cops faced losing their jobs. Yet, there was no way to prove that immoral behavior was going on behind those apartment doors. The board let the officers keep their jobs. Subsequently, the pair agreed not to sue the town for discrimination or civil-rights issues. They married.

The state house noticed. Then Governor Michael Dukakis said, "I don't know of many people who, whether they approve of it or not, think that people living together out to be a crime." That crime carried jail time and/or fines.

Rep. Marjorie Clapprood, a Democrat from Sharon, sponsored a bill to repeal that portion of the law. The Globe quoted her in 1987 as saying, "It's a silly law that should have been taken off the books a long time ago. Any time you have an antiquated, anachronistic law, it is always subject to abuse."

Her bill passed in 1987 and Dukakis signed it.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Out with Old in New Mexico

New Mexico had a lot of legal catching up to do when it became our 47th state in 1912. It wasn't nearly repressed or restrictive enough as part of Mexico. Yet, it took it 51 years to get around to outlawing cohabitation. Unlike Massachusetts' Puritans, the Hispanic and Native American dominated New Mexico had a more casual attitude about mistresses and unmarried couples, at least until 1963.

Subsequently, Massachusetts dumped its cohabitation prohibition from colonial times, refined in the 19th century, and overturned it finally in 1987. The New Mexican law still forbade such behavior as being against nature. Couples would be fined and ordered to cease and desist.

After the odd complaints against couples, New Mexico debated the law in 2001. A bill to repeal the statute passed the state senate 26-5, breezed through the house, and became law. As Libertocracy puts it:
That anti-love persecutors actually did society a favor and improved the country a little bit by bringing to everyone's attention the petty tyranny and injustice of such an outrageous statute, and by so doing, made people realize that it must be done away with for people to live in peace and freedom from the terror of sex police breaking into their homes because they have no papers that give them permission to engage in politically approved sexual acts.
Today, you can still get in trouble for such forbidden practice in seven states, according to Unmarried America, a civil-rights group concerned with such. It reports:
Nevertheless, laws against cohabitation are still in place in Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia. Arizona and New Mexico decriminalized cohabitation in 2001, said Tom Coleman, executive director of Unmarried America...

Friday, April 08, 2005

Land of Disenchantment

While Massachusetts finally overturned its cohabitation crime statute, one of our newest states enacted its version in 1963. In New Mexico, not only did the state make it illegal for a couple to cohabitate, but anyone could file a complaint for prosecution.

"For $25, you can make someone's life a living hell," Charles E. Knoblauch, the lawyer for the accused woman said, referring to the filing fee. In Peralta, an apparently self-righteous and bitter ex-wife brought the charge against Richard Pitcher and Kimberly Henry. She had remarried but shared custody of their daughter on weekends. According to a New York Times article on the sordid affair, the ex claims that the immorality of that sinful couple, not her spite, led to the charges.

At the time, the local DA, Michael Runnels, said such filing were rare and that his office or the judge would probably dismiss the charge. He stated, "You can't have a 19th-century criminal code and have it survive into the 21st century and have it make any sense." According to the Times, Runnels could not say how many cohabitating couples were in his district, "but he predicted that 'the cohabitation vote' would outnumber those in favor of the law."

The case also attracted the Libertocracy Website's attention. It cites an email response from Pitcher for background.
I had to work late so I called my ex to see if Kimberly could pick up my daughter. I then received a criminal complaint for harassment for calling her at work. In court, she admitted that the call was in reference to this fact and the charges were dismissed by the judge. The judge told both of us to get along for the benefit of our daughter. According to court records, she and Roger (her current husband) filed the cohabitation charges 15 minutes later. There have been many incidents of harassment on their part, the latest was on Feb 15th when she had three police officers waiting for me at the scheduled exchange of my daughter. She told the officers that she had seen my vehicle at a bar, total fabrication. This was done with my daughter present so she could witness it. I did call to discuss this with Roger, then 2 weeks later, another criminal complaint of harassment. It seems this will never end.
In the end, things fared well and badly for the accused. The charges were tossed, but they ended up splitting. Pitcher has remarried and is apparently free from the threat of cohabitation charges for the time being.

Still to come...New Mexico's actions on the cohabitation law.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Cohabitation Common Sense

For over 200 years, couples who lived together in Massachusetts were felons. From 1784 until 1987, cohabitation was a crime. In the original law, couples who shared bed and board without marriage could be sentenced to stand at the gallows for one hour with a noose around the neck. Then they could receive up to 39 lashes each.

After the Colonial era, punishments under Chapter 272: Section 16 Open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior carried serious but less physical punishments – up to three years in state prison or two years in jail or a fine of up to $300. Cohabitation remained in this class

Lewd and lascivious cohabitation. That A.B. and C.D., not being married to each other, did during one month next before the finding of this indictment (or such time as the evidence requires), lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together. This was the same set of penalties for such behavior as running a brothel.

The repeal of the cohabitation here was an overdue decision. More follows in future posts on the effects here and elsewhere.

Monday, April 04, 2005

From the Family Institute Crypt

Just when you thought the extremely reactionary Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) was moldering in its self-dug grave, you find that it has been lobbying the commonwealth legislators. Apparently, anticipating the likelihood that the amendment to replace same-sex marriages with civil unions will not make it through to the 2006 constitutional convention, the MFI is proposing a ballot initiative to ban the marriages outright in 2008.

I shall post a little background on the group, its key players and its positions. I promise not to fixate on it, no matter how good its material is.

Meanwhile the new MFI strategy is to go public next month. The announcement wasn'’t on April First. They were busy with the stem-cell cloning issue.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Putting the ME in Mean

In Maine, the Coalition for Marriage formally announced that it would try to overturn the new gay civil-rights law and that it would go for a DoMA law in 2006. The full statement is available on the organization's site.

Coalition Chairman Sandy Williams delivered his statement on March 31 "in the State House Hall of Flags," which must have some significance to Mainers. The comments are a fine recap of the arguments from the religious right. They are almost entirely emotionally based. Instead of law and logic, they largely rely on claiming their positions are "just common sense."

Unfortunately for the fearful, the legislatures and courts generally end up fairer and less emotional than that. It will be intriguing to see whether fear mongering about impending legalized polygamy and queers around every corner will work with the Maine voters a third time in efforts to overturn the gay protections.

The experiences of Vermont and Massachusetts disprove virtually all of his assertions.

Yet, his tenth argument reads
Children have a right to be loved and nurtured by a mother and a father, and the state must do all in its power to protect and promote that natural right.
If only they did have that right and if only more of our traditional nuclear families were fully functional and offered that love and nurturing. Lackaday, adults are so often burdened by their own baggage that being great or even good parents is beyond them. That's all good for the legal and psychology professions, but not for kids.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Yes and No in Maine

The gay-rights bill (1196) became law in Maine on April Fools Day. It won't take effect until June 29. The Bangor News article on the signing said it was happy event. However, the anti forces will try to overturn it. To wit:
Opponents have until June 28 to submit 50,519 signatures to the Secretary of State's Office in order to force a November 2005 referendum. Opponents hope to collect 70,000 signatures and $2 million to run the campaign. If they can force a referendum, the law won't take effect unless voters approve it.
Maine voters have twice rejected gay-rights legislation. The last time, the defeat was extremely narrow, and the new law stated specifically that it did not include nor sanction same-sex marriage. It doesn't look good for the naysayers.