Posts Tagged ‘Equality’

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Senate Set to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Legislation

12.18.10

For nearly two decades, homosexual Americans haven’t been able to serve openly in our armed forces due to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation passed in 1993.

Despite opposition from much of the Republican Party – spearheaded by a cynical Sen. John McCain – and the glacial moving by the Democrats to act in the way that a majority of Americans want them to, the Senate voted today, 63-33, to move toward a final vote on the discriminatory law’s repeal.

Enough has already been said, at length, about this.  Suffice to say that it’s time.  It’s beyond time for this law to be sent into the history books.  It’s frustrating to feel like we’re so behind the times with these things — compared to other first-world countries like Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom — who already allow gays to serve openly in their militaries.

I’ve heard the reasoning against repeal, namely that we’re at war and that we need to make sure that we can do this without affecting the troops in combat.  To which I reply: how could repeal possibly affect anything? It’s pathetic that some people truly believe that gays will all of a sudden show up in drag to the front-lines or something, as if the repeal would cause people to stop being the extremely well-trained, professional military troops they are and have been due solely to the openness of their sexuality.

What’s going to happen is that these men and women who fight wars for those politicians who choose to go to war will be able to do so without having to pretend that they don’t have loved ones for whom they care deeply about simply because they’re of the same gender.  The indignity and emotional trauma of having to call their partners “friends” to avoid losing their jobs will finally come to an end.

It’s about time.

Image courtesy of vassego’s Flickr Photostream.

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Lame Duck Congress Could Still Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

11.18.10

With the Democratic majority ending in the House of Representatives – and becoming considerably smaller in the Senate – come January, we’re currently in what we call a “lame duck” session of Congress.

It remains to be seen what legislation they will pass, if any, but it looks like the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that forces gay service members to remain in the closet if they want to serve our country has a decent chance of passing.

Andrew Sullivan pins our hopes on Senate majority leader Harry Reid:

If Harry Reid allows a two-week debate on DADT, there may be 60 votes in the Senate for repeal, bypassing McCain’s bitter, and incoherent obstructionism. If I were you, I’d email Reid, not Obama, to lobby for repeal. It may be the last chance we get for years, now that the virulently anti-gay Tea Party has taken over the House.

Sullivan follows up with a recommendation: email Reid.

While I’ve been politically vocal for a couple years now — first on MySpace, then Facebook, and now this blog you’re reading here — I haven’t been all that politically active aside from voting in every major election since turning 18.  I have only once called a representative and now my second time was just now emailing Sen. Reid.  It took me barely a couple minutes.

I encourage you to do the same and join the majority of other Americans and 70% of active-duty and reserve troops to all agree that DADT needs to end. I have no idea how much good it will do, to be honest — but, it sure can’t hurt.  If we can take the time to forward on random jokes in email or post viral videos on Facebook, it seems like we all have the time to email the Senate majority leader to end a discriminatory policy like DADT.

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Stay

10.20.10
President Barack Obama delivers the 2010 State...
Image via Wikipedia

Less than one week ago, a U.S. District Court Judge struck down the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy disallowing gays to serve openly in the military.

Now, the Obama Administration said that they would ask for a stay since Judge Virginia Phillip refused to suspend her ruling that the 17-year-old policy was unconstitutional. All this while simultaneously saying that they disagree with DADT.

Huh? Perhaps this snippet from ABC News can explain it:

The administration has argued that it disagrees with the policy, but that it should be repealed legislatively and not through the courts.

So, it’s now up to the executive branch to decide whether the judicial branch can make a decision on something?  Talk about expanding the presidential powers.  By that reasoning, what’s the point of even bringing a lawsuit to the high courts?  Might as well just write a letter to the sitting president and ask first if you can bring this case forward.  It’s even more frustrating that this is coming from Obama, who announced in his State of the Union address that he wanted to repeal the DADT law yet now that it’s essentially been done, he’s trying to stop it from being so.

Who cares if a wrong is righted by the courts or by the legislature?  Is one truly better than the other?

Well, some on the right consider this to be an act of a liberal, activist judge, in line with a huge push to the left against the will of the people – which would argue that yes, the legislature is better.

“Judge Virginia A. Phillips‘s brazen and error-strewn ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States provides a useful case study of the all-too-familiar phenomenon of liberal judicial activism — in brief, the wrongful judicial overriding of a democratic enactment in order to advance the agenda of the Left,” Ed Whelan of the National Review wrote.

Wrongful judicial overriding. Since when is making a ruling based on the Consitutionality of a law wrongful or overriding?  The judicial branch is a check and balance to the legislature, so that the laws that they sign pass the test of the law of the land: the U.S. Constitution.  Even if a majority of people vote on something, if it doesn’t jive with the first and fifth amendments (as in this case), it can’t be law.  Whelan should understand this since he’s clearly supportive of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision which also involved the first amendment.  If that right extends to corporations, why not to gay soldiers?

But that coming from Whelan is no surprise.  It’s ridiculous coming from Obama.  The whole courts vs. congress argument feels forced — like they want to be able to say they tried to block it while saying they supported its repeal.  I mean, who is that going to please?  No one.

I love that Judge Phillip’s refused to suspend her ruling despite the president asking her to.  She’s standing by her decision as well she should.  It’s nice to see some intellectual honesty somewhere these days.

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What Do Canada and Mexico Have that the United States Doesn’t? Equality

08.13.10

For being the self-proclaimed “land of the free,” the United States sure has gone out of its way to deny freedoms to a minority group of Americans with so many states pushing legislation to ban same sex marriages.

I understand that a lot of that comes from traditional values associated with religious beliefs; but, being founded on religious freedom and purposefully not having any state-endorsed faith, it seems that of the countries legalizing gay marriage, the U.S. would be one of those few.

Quite the contrary.  And much of the reason that we’re not comes from those religious beliefs being favored over civil freedoms — see the Mormon Church spending millions to help pass Prop 8.

The reality is that religious belief and civil marriage equality can co-exist.  One doesn’t negate the other.  Case in point:

Our neighbor to the south: Mexico legalized gay marriage.

Mexico? Really?  A country whose population is over three quarters Roman Catholic — a faith whose leader has assailed against gay marriage as even being a threat to creation.  A country that has more Catholics than any other country in the world, except for Brazil?  That’s fascinating.

So how did this happen?  Opponents can’t argue that it was purely judicial activism — it was legalized in Mexico City by the legislature.  Only this week did the Supreme Court uphold the law and also required all states to recognize the marriages that are only currently performed in the capital city. And the vote wasn’t even close, either : 9 – 2, in favor.

So, what’s our excuse?

Sure we’re not so liberal as Canada, who also has legalized marriage equality.  But we’re also not so homogeneous in our beliefs as Mexico, either.  (Although if all you do is listen to the current vitriol from the conservative groups, one might forget that America has no official religion.)  Why have we instead gone the completely opposite direction in creating laws that ban same sex marriage?

If Mexico, with it’s overwhelming number of Roman Catholics can elect a legislature that rules in favor of equality, then why in the world can’t we?

Photo courtesy of Sydney Lea Steele

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Supporting Gay Marriage: It’s Not About the Children. Seriously.

08.05.10

Equal Rights is an American ValueCalifornia’s Proposition 8 has just been overturned.

While a huge victory for marriage equality, with many in favor of equality rejoicing in this, the opponents of gay marriage continue their failed arguments that make sense to their personal beliefs but don’t reconcile with the Constitution.

Even after logic, reason, and the law showed that their arguments held no legal water, gay marriage opponents continue with the same tired rationale:

Most people think of marriage as an institution which indicates the strong feelings which two people have for one another. But the state doesn’t have any interest in privileging strong feelings. Rather, the state is interested in the perpetuation of society, which — to again state the obvious — requires procreation.

So what about sterile couples who want to marry?  Should they be banned as well?  Or how about elderly couples who already have kids and don’t plan on (or are too old) to have any more?

But the bigger issue I have for this argument is: since when does the state have any business in my procreative inclinations? Where in the California or U.S. Constitution does it say anything about requiring married couples to have children?  I would like to see some evidence to this strong claim that our government has a vested, legal interest in whether or not its citizens procreate and that this interest is directly tied to the civil institution of marriage.

I believe this blogger at The American Catholic, along with many others who oppose gay marriage rights, is confusing state with church.  When it comes to secular law, (no, we are not a Catholic nation) the Constitution trumps any religious text.

The American Catholic continues:

The ease with which they [gay marriage supporters] threw out bromides (“finally, equality!”) bothered me, primarily because it revealed two things: 1. a group of intelligent people couldn’t grasp that there might be real objections to same sex “marriage”, and 2. as I’ve noted previously, too many (probably most) Americans simply don’t understand the essential nature of marriage.

1. I question just how real those objections are when the person making them lacks the intellectual honesty to avoid snark by putting quotes around the word “marriage” in order to marginalize it and make it seem that its inferior or not even worthy of the word, making it hard to even have an honest discussion on a logical, rational level and not an emotional-only argument.  And when that person raises objections, offers no legal support for said claims (see above re: marriage being a device of the state to insure the procreation of its citizens.)

2. Given that Americans are a group of widely diverse people with all sorts of beliefs, heritages, and customs, to lump them all together as if there’s some universal consensus on something as personal and varied as marriage shows a very closed-minded, narrow, and narcissistic worldview that believes that one’s own views on marriage are the right way and the only way to think.

The reality is that there are religious rules and there are secular laws.  They don’t always match up because we live in a society that allows for the practicing of all faiths.  But our laws are based on equality and fairness.

Change is difficult. Fighting for equal rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution is extremely tough to secure.  But the fight is worthwhile.

Equality will prevail. This is just another step forward.

Photo courtesy of stevebott’s Flickr photostream

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Same-Sex Marriages Recognized in Maryland

02.24.10

Gansler: Effective immediately Md. recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere

UPDATE 2:50 P.M.: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) says effective immediately the state recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and state agencies should begin giving gay couples the rights they were awarded elsewhere.

UPDATE 10:25 a.m.: Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), who requested the opinion from Gansler, said in a brief interview that he was unsure whether there would be any immediate ramifications.

“It’s reaffirmation of what we thought, that Maryland can recognize gay marriage,” Madaleno said.

He said that changes in state policy could result from a court ruling, legislation or administrative action.

Original Post: A long-awaited opinion by Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) out Wednesday morning concludes that the state’s highest court is likely to rule at some point that same-sex marriages performed in other states are valid in Maryland.

The policy implications of the opinion are not immediately clear, and Gansler says in a one-page summary that his conclusion “is not free from doubt.”

Gansler’s opinion concludes “that the Court of Appeals, when it ultimately rules on this question in a particular case, will likely apply the principle that a marriage that is valid in the place of celebration is valid in Maryland. The opinion reaches this conclusion in light of the evolving state policy, reflected in anti-discrimination laws, domestic partner laws and other legislation, that respects and supports committed intimate same-sex relationships.”

Maryland law currently limits marriages performed in the state to opposite-sex couples.

By John Wagner  |  February 24, 2010; 9:06 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner

This is great news. Now any couple legally married in any of the other five states that have legalized gay marriage will be recognized as a married couple in Maryland. This is an interested step forward – could more states go this route than actually pushing forward with legalizing themselves?

Posted via web from Agree to Disagree

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D.C. Catholic Church Backs Down

12.18.09

The Washington, D.C. Archdiocese has its bluff called.

When will opponents to same sex marriage finally realize that it affects no one other than those couples who wish to bind their love just like some heterosexuals choose to do?  It doesn’t impede upon religion or cause some slippery slope into depraved pedophilia or other nonsense that some will have you believe.

It’s about love and equality.  That’s all.  Plain and simple.