Hate crimes increase in California

Don Thompson | Associated Press


Brian Levin

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —The number of hate crimes in California increased about 11 percent last year, the second consecutive double-digit increase, but the overall number still was a third lower total than a decade ago, the state’s attorney general reported Monday, July 3.

Blacks, Jews and gay men were among the most frequent targets.

There were 931 such crimes reported statewide, nearly 100 more than in 2015. That equated to about one for every 42,000 Californians.

By comparison, there were 1,426 hate crimes reported in 2007, when the state had about 3 million fewer people than the more than 39 million in 2016.

More than half the crimes reported last year were based on the victim’s race or ethnicity. Hate crimes involving a victim’s sexual orientation increased about 10 percent, to 207 last year, with about three-quarters of those targeting gay men.

Less than 20 percent were because of the victim’s religion, and the number declined last year. Jews, not Muslims, were the most common targets even amid heated rhetoric by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign regarding potential terror threats from Muslims.

There are no statewide statistics on hate crimes in California since Trump took office in January.

It’s the first back-to-back increase in hate crimes reported in California since 1996, though the number is less than half the spike that occurred in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 2001, when Jews also were the leading religious target, said criminologist Brian Levin, a former New York City police officer who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

“The good news is we have a lower number of hate crimes than we have in the past. The bad news is the trend is up,” he said. “People feel disenfranchised, and there’s a tribalistic tone that has come out.”

He speculated that gay men may be seeing a “spillover effect” from the increased prominence of the LGBT community and discussions of same-sex marriages.

Trump has been blamed by many for coarsening the political rhetoric. Those on both sides of the political spectrum agree angry tweets from him and at him could lead some to violence.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra said as much in a statement released with the annual statistics that are submitted to his office by California law enforcement agencies and district attorneys’ offices.

“Words matter, and discriminatory rhetoric does not make us stronger but divides us and puts the safety of our communities at risk,” he said.

Racially motivated attacks spurred much of the overall increase last year. They increased more than 20 percent, from 428 in 2015 to 519. Those targeting whites increased from 34 to 56; those against blacks from 231 to 251.

Nearly two-thirds of all the hate crimes reported last year were violent, while the rest were property crimes.

About 40 percent of crimes categorized as violent involved intimidation and 30 percent simple assault. About a quarter were aggravated assaults. Ninety percent of the property crimes involved vandalism.

More than 300 hate crime cases were forwarded to county prosecutors last year, and they filed charges in 220 of them. Of the cases completed by year’s end, more than 80 percent resulted in convictions.

—  Tammye Nash

SCOTUS lets stand California law banning conversion therapy

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal of a lower court ruling to leave standing a 2012 California law banning conversion therapy for minors.

According to Reuters, this was the second time in three years the court had rejected an appeal of the California law. That ruling left in place a lower court ruling that the law neither impinged upon free exercise of religion nor impacted the activities of clergy members.

California passed the law prohibiting state-licensed mental health counselors, including psychologists and social workers, from offering therapy to change sexual orientation in minors back in 2012, making it the first state to pass such a law. SCOTUS refused to review the law in 2014 after an appeals court rejected claims that the ban infringed on free speech rights under U.S. Constitution’s the First Amendment. This time, a Christian minister challenged the law, claiming that it violates religious freedom.

New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico and the District of Columbia now have similar laws on the books. The Supreme Court turned away a challenge to New Jersey’s law in 2015.


—  Tammye Nash

Religious school creates ceremony to mark student’s transition


Rabbi Tsipi Gabai

A California Jewish Day School created a special ceremony for a 13-year-old boy at the school.

Usually the age of 13 marks the bar mitzvah, but this ceremony marked a trans student’s transition from female to male, according to the Times of Israel.

Many schools and synagogues have made gender-neutral bathrooms available, but this is believed to be the first time a Jewish ceremony was created to affirm a gender transition.

The school also began a year-long process of understanding and learning about gender with a partnership with Gender Spectrum, a local group that provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages. Gender Spectrum led workshops for students, faculty and parents.

Tom Sosnik, the 13-year-old trans student, said he came out after he read about the suicide of a 17-year-old trans girl in Ohio who was forced into reparative therapy. Sosnik thanked his family and his school for their support. He transferred to the school after being viciously bullied at his previous school in Fresno.

Rabbi Tsipi Gabai said she took into account the high suicide rate and the Talmudic commandment that to save one life is like saving the world when deciding to create the ceremony.

—  David Taffet

‘Christian’ activist: Bullet to the brain for gays

Screen shot 2015-03-03 at 2.31.20 PM

Matt McLaughlin, who calls himself a “Christian activist,” has paid $200 out of his own pocket to file a ballot initiative with the California Attorney General that would require all California LGBTs to be executed by firing squad.

McLaughling says enacting his “Sodomite Suppression Act” as law would save all the non-LGBTs from having to face the wrath of God.

According to TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com, McLaughlin calls same-sex sex “buggery” and “sodomy,” and says it is “a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha [sic].”

McLaughlin also says: “Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

Any other convenient method? WTF?!

McLaughlin does not state if minors – say, high school students – would be treated as adults and included in the execution mandate.

His “Sodomite Suppression Act” would impose a $1 million fine for each act of transmitting, distributing, or performing “sodomistic propaganda” to minors and make it illegal for any LGBT person to hold public office, be employed by the state, receive any benefits such as welfare or social security or use any public assets like, for instance, roads.

You can read the complete text of the Sodomite Suppression Act here.

McLaughlin needs 365,000 legitimate signatures from California residents for his initiative to move forward.

Wonkette has also posted an article online about McLaughlin’s initiative, explaining their efforts to find out more about McLaughlin. They did find a lawyer named Matt McLaughlin with a Mail Box Express address in Huntington Beach that matches the address on the filing at the OAG’s office. But while there are a number of Matt McLaughlins that come up in a Google search none of them “seem to fit the profile of batshit lawyer with strong Jesus feelings against the gay sexytime.”

That same lawyer “submitted a citizen ballot initiative in 2003 to give bibles to all public school kids in California, grades 1-12, because ‘great literature.’” That one went nowhere because McLaughlin couldn’t get the necessary signatures.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: Appeals court won’t rehear Prop 8

Full 9th Circuit opts not to reconsider panel’s ruling that Calif. marriage ban is unconstitutional; case now likely headed for Supreme Court

LISA KEEN  |  Keen News Servic

A glimmer of politics showed through Tuesday when the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined a request from supporters of California’s ban on same-sex marriage to review a three-judge panel’s ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

In a dissent from the order refusing to have the full 9th Circuit hear the landmark Perry v. Brown case, three judges signed onto a dissent, noting that just a few weeks ago, President Barack Obama had “ignited a media firestorm by announcing that he supports same-sex marriage as a policy matter.” The three said the refusal to review the circuit panel’s decision “silenced” President Obama’s suggestion that the nation continue its “conversation” about same-sex marriage “in a respectful way.”

All three dissenters were appointees of Republican presidents.

But politics or not, the refusal to give Perry v. Brown full circuit court review is a major victory for supporters of marriage equality and means almost certainly that the “final chapter” in the historic litigation can now begin, said Chad Griffin, co-founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which organized and funded the lawsuit.

Attorneys for Proposition 8 supporters said they will now file a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 9th Circuit decisions. Ted Olson, a lead attorney for the gay couples in Perry, said that, even if the Supreme Court refuses to hear that appeal, the litigation would be a “complete victory” for the plaintiff couples.

One looming question for the Perry case is whether the Supreme Court, if it accepts the case, would review the 9th Circuit panel’s very narrow reasoning to strike down Proposition 8 — or the federal district court’s more sweeping reasoning concerning equal protection, due process and the fundamental right to marry. While Olson said upholding a narrow reasoning might still affect same-sex marriage in some states beyond California, upholding the broader reasoning could affect every state.

With last week’s 1st Circuit decision striking a core section of the Defense of Marriage Act also heading to the nation’s highest court, it is now likely the Supreme Court will have two major same-sex marriage cases on its docket in October.

The 9th Circuit case, if accepted, could ask whether states can take away the right to marry from same-sex couples or whether same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marriage and to be treated equally under marriage laws. The 1st Circuit case, if accepted, would ask whether the federal government can refuse to recognize marriages licensed by states to same-sex couples.

David Boies, the other lead attorney for the Perry couples, said that, while the questions in the two cases are “distinct,” the issues are closely related and could — if both are accepted — be heard very close together.

The three-paragraph order June 5 stated that the request for a full court review “failed to receive a majority of the votes” of active judges. It also noted that the order would be stayed for 90 days to enable proponents of Prop 8 to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The dissenting judges did not mince words in their three-paragraph dissent. They said the circuit panel’s 2-1 decision striking down Prop 8 was a “gross misapplication” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Romer v. Evans. In that 1996 case, the Supreme Court said states could not pass laws that excluded gays from protection based on animus against the group.

The dissenters said refusing to give full 9th Circuit review to Perry v. Brown means the Ninth Circuit judges “have now declared that animus must have been the only conceivable motivation for a sovereign state to have remained committed to a definition of marriage that has existed for millennia.”

Proponents of Prop 8, known as Yes on 8, filed the appeal seeking review by the full 9th Circuit, asking it to overturn a decision by the panel in February. That panel decision found that California’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution by stripping from same-sex couples a right they had (to marry) prior to passage of Prop 8. In order for a limited full court review to have been granted, at least 14 of the circuit’s 26 active judges would have had to say another review is warranted.

The Perry v. Brown lawsuit is led by famed conservative attorney Olson and pre-eminent liberal attorney David Boies, and organized and funded by AFER.

In the case, two same-sex couples sued the state after being denied marriage licenses after the voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage went into effect in November 2008.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled, in August 2010, that banning same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. He agreed to delay enforcement of the decision, pending an appeal by Yes on 8 attorneys to the 9th Circuit.

In February 2012, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, in a 2-1 vote, upheld Walker’s decision but on much more narrow grounds. The panel majority — Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Michael Hawkins — said Proposition 8 improperly removed from a group of citizens (gays) a right they already enjoyed (marriage) without sufficient justification.

Reinhardt and Hawkins submitted a paragraph with the June 5 refusal order, saying they were “puzzled” by their dissenting colleagues’ “unusual reliance on the President’s views regarding the Constitution, especially as the President did not discuss the narrow issue that we decided in our opinion.”

“We,” said Reinhardt and Hawkins, “held only that under the particular circumstances relating to California’s Proposition 8, that measure was invalid. In line with the rules governing judicial resolution of constitutional issues, we did not resolve the fundamental question that both sides asked us to: whether the Constitution prohibits the states from banning same-sex marriage. That question,” they said, “may be decided in the near future, but if so, it should be in some other case, at some other time.”

The “particular circumstances” they referred to were that the California Supreme Court had ruled, in May 2008, that the state Constitution required that same-sex couples be able to obtain marriage licenses the same as straight couples. Thousands of couples did begin obtaining marriage licenses, but, in November of that year, voters approved Proposition 8, amending the state constitution to explicitly ban the recognition of same-sex marriage.

While attorneys and activists uniformly called the Feb. 7 panel decision a major victory, they acknowledged that the decision stopped short of saying that same-sex partners, like straight partners, have a “fundamental right to marry.” Instead, the decision said Prop 8 deprived same-sex partners only of the “right to use the designation of ‘marriage.’” If it had ruled same-sex couples had a fundamental right to marry, said Lambda Legal Defense’s legal director Jon Davidson, “the marriage laws of 44 states would have been cast into doubt….” And by rendering such a relatively narrow ruling, said Davidson and others, the panel reduced the likelihood the U.S. Supreme Court would take the case.

“The fundamental right to marry, as protected by the US Constitution,” said Williams Institute legal scholar Jenny Pizer, “has to have the same contours throughout the country. So a decision concluding that same-sex couples have the same fundamental right as different-sex couples would call into question all the marriage restrictions states currently impose.”

© 2012 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

California Senate wants to make it more difficult to use “reparative” therapy

California state capitol

Members of the California legislature want to make it more difficult for therapists to use junk science in their practices when it comes to treating gays and lesbians.

California Senate Bill 1172 or the “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” bill would prohibit physicians and surgeons, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, educational psychologists, clinical social workers, and licensed professional clinical counselors “from performing sexual orientation change efforts, as defined, in the absence of informed consent of the patient.”

Reparative or conversion therapy that attempts to change the sexual orientation of gay people to straight would be prohibited for minors.

Adults would have to sign a consent form acknowledging that this “therapy” is not recognized by any licensing body and could lead to depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior.

The bill is out of committee.

Truth Wins Out is a nationwide organization based in Vermont that works to expose “ex-gay” ministries and therapists as fraudulent.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Appeals court strikes down Prop 8

Experts say ruling narrowly crafted to avoid Supreme Court review

LISA KEEN  |  Keen News Service

Calling Proposition 8 “remarkably similar” to Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment 2 in 1992, a divided federal appeals court panel in San Francisco ruled today that California’s same-sex marriage ban violates the federal Constitution.

It was, noted many attorneys working on the issue of equal rights for LGBT people, the first time a federal appeals court has issued a decision in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. And it was, as lead attorney Ted Olson put it, “a very significant milepost on the way to equality.”

In a 2 to 1 decision in Perry v. Brown, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel noted that the rights at issue in this landmark case concerning the ability of voters to withdraw the right to marry from same-sex couples in California was essentially the same as the ability of voters in Colorado, in 1996, to withdraw from LGBT people the protection of laws prohibiting discrimination.

“Laws may be repealed and new rights taken away if they have had unintended consequences or if there is some conceivable affirmative good that revocation would produce,” noted the majority, “but new rights may not be stripped away solely because they are new.”

The California Supreme Court had ruled, in May 2008, that the state constitution required that same-sex couples be able to obtain marriage licenses the same as straight couples. But in November of that year, voters approved Proposition 8, an initiative that amended the state constitution to explicitly ban the recognition of same-sex marriage.

Quoting from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 decision, Lawrence v. Texas, striking down laws barring sexual relations between same-sex partners, and referring to the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, striking down bans on interracial marriage, the appeals panel noted that the “fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice; neither history nor tradition could save a law prohibiting miscegenation from constitutional attack.”

Olson and co-lead attorney David Boies said the Ninth Circuit panel’s heavy reliance on decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court makes the panel’s ruling “extremely strong.”

“There’s a high likelihood,” said Olson, in an afternoon phone conference with reports, “that the Supreme Court will find [Perry v. Brown] very hard to ignore.”

Olson and Boies made clear that they have always considered the case to be one headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. They said the Yes on 8 coalition which successfully campaigned for Proposition 8 has 14 days in which to announce whether it is appealing the decision and to where. The Yes on 8 coalition could ask for appeal to the full 9th Circuit bench or go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court. Until Feb. 28, said Olson, a stay on the 9th Circuit panel’s decision is in effect.

Olson said that, while he expects Yes on 8 to seek an extension of the stay beyond Feb. 28, his legal team would oppose that extension.

The highly anticipated ruling also rejected a motion from Yes on 8 proponents to vacate the district court ruling of former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker because Walker had not disclosed, prior to presiding over Perry v. Brown (known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger at the time), that he was in a long-term relationship with a man.

And while attorneys and activists uniformly called today’s decision a major victory, the appeals court panel did stop short of saying that same-sex partners, like straight partners, have a “fundamental right to marry.” Instead, it said Proposition 8 deprived same-sex partners only of the “right to use the designation of ‘marriage.’”

“We therefore need not and do not consider whether same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry, or whether states that fail to afford the right to marry to gays and lesbians must do so.”

“If the 9th Circuit had ruled that the fundamental right to marry protected by the Constitution is shared equally by same-sex couples,” said Lambda Legal Defense’s legal director Jon Davidson, “the marriage laws of 44 states would have been cast into doubt…” Such a broad ruling, he said, “in all likelihood would have resulted in Supreme Court review of the decision.”

“The fundamental right to marry, as protected by the US Constitution,” said Williams Institute legal scholar Jenny Pizer, “has to have the same contours throughout the country. So a decision concluding that same-sex couples have the same fundamental right as different-sex couples would call into question all the marriage restrictions states currently impose.”

An attorney on the Olson-Boies team said they think the 9th Circuit majority wanted to write as narrow decision as possible and minimize the likelihood that the Supreme Court would review the decision.

And, like the U.S. Supreme Court in the Colorado case, the 9th Circuit panel declined to examine whether it should apply the most stringent form of scrutiny — heightened scrutiny — to laws disfavoring gays and lesbians. Proposition 8, like Amendment 2, said the majority, failed to satisfy even the simplest rational level of review.

Walker, in his August 2010 decision, said Proposition 8 violated the federal equal protection clause because there was no rational basis for limiting the designation of marriage to straight couples. He also said it violated the federal due process clause because there was not compelling reason for the state to deny same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry.

The 2 to 1 majority opinion was written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt and joined by Judge Michael Hawkins. The partial dissent, by Judge Randy Smith, concerned the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

The majority said California’s Proposition 8 was more of a “surgical precision” attack than Colorado’s Amendment 2. Proposition 8, it said, attacked “one specific right: the right to use the designation of ‘marriage’ to describe a couple’s officially recognized relationship.”

The Ninth Circuit panel heard oral arguments concerning these key issues in the case in December 2010.

Yes on 8 attorneys argued during the January 2010 trial that the ban on same-sex marriage was justified because same-sex marriage would make children “prematurely preoccupied with issues of sexuality.”

Olson, arguing against Proposition 8, called that reasoning “nonsense” and said, “If believed, that would justify the banning of comic books, television, video games, and even conversations between children.” And during their 2008 campaign to pass Proposition 8, said Olson, Yes on 8 claimed the ban was justified to protect children from the idea that marriage between same-sex partners is OK.

As expected, the three-judge panel ruling agreed with a California Supreme Court ruling that Yes on 8, the coalition which successfully campaigned for the ban on same-sex marriage in 2008, did have legal standing to appeal Walker’s decision, even though state officials chose not to. The panel unanimously concluded it was “bound” by the state supreme court determination and that Yes on 8 did not “need not show that they would suffer any personal injury from the invalidation of Proposition 8” because “the State would suffer an injury….”

Kristen Perry, the lead plaintiff of the two couples challenging the law, said at a press conference today that the “dark walls of discrimination” are being dismantled. Her partner, Sandra Stier, spoke, as did one of their two sons who said, “With this ruling, in the eyes of the government, my family is finally normal.”

Plaintiff Paul Katami and his partner Jeffrey Zarrillo introduced Zarrillo’s parents, who have been married for more than 40 years.

Zarrillo’s father told the press conference that he was very proud of his son and his “soon-to-be son-in-law.”

Chad Griffin, head of American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which has been funding the litigation against Proposition 8, dodged a question, asking him to comment on an effort underway, by a pro-marriage equality group, to overturn Proposition 8 through a ballot measure. But drew attention to attempts by opponents of same-sex marriage around the country who are trying such strategies as ballot measures and removing judges from office to overcome judicial rulings such as this one.

“We’re not at the end of the line yet,” said Olson, later in the press conference, “but I cannot overstate the importance of the decision today.”

© 2012 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

Here’s the full text of the decision:

Ninth Circuit Prop. 8 decision

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Prop 8 ruling expected Tuesday

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is expected to rule Tuesday on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban. Below is the official announcement from the court’s public information office. Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly reports:

The long anticipated ruling is expected to address three issues: (1) whether former U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself from hearing the case because he is gay and had a long-time partner with whom he was not married; (2) whether the proponents of Proposition 8 have the right to appeal Walker’s decision striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional when none of the state defendants chose to do so; and (3) whether, if Walker did not need to recuse himself and the proponents do have the right to appeal, Walker was correct that Proposition 8 violates Californians’ due process and equal protection rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

—  John Wright

Supreme Court hearing on Prop 8 to be televised

The seven-member California State Supreme Court will hear arguments Sept. 6, on whether state law gives the anti-gay group which pushed for passage of  Proposition 8, the voter approved state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, the right to appeal a federal court decision declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional. And unlike the initial trial in Judge Vaughn Walker’s court, the Supreme Court hearing will be televised.

Court spokeswoman Lynn Holton said, “Because of public interest in the case, the court has approved a live statewide television broadcast of the arguments on the California Channel, a public affairs network.”

According to SF Appeal, should the sponsors succeed in their right to appeal, the case will go back to the 9th Circuit federal appeals court for review, a process that might take several months — just like everything else involving the court system.

However, the federal appeals court has said earlier this year that if the sponsors lack legal standing, the federal court will be required to dismiss the appeal.

The state high court has broadcast marriage equality-related arguments before, such as In re marriage Cases, was a California Supreme Court case with the dual holding that “statutes that treat persons differently because of their sexual orientation should be subjected to strict scrutiny.”


—  admin

What’s Brewing: Texas judge delays deportation hearing for gay, married Costa Rican immigrant

David Gonzalez and Mario Ramirez, via Stop The Deportations: The DOMA Project

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A Houston judge on Thursday delayed a deportation hearing for a gay Costa Rican immigrant who’s fighting to stay in Texas with his husband. The judge delayed the proceeding for 35-year-old David Gonzalez until Aug. 31 based on a technicality, but also urged the two parties — Gonzalez’s attorney and U.S. immigration officials — to resolve the matter before then. Gonzalez married his husband, U.S. citizen Mario Ramirez, in California in 2008, but is unable to obtain a green card because of the Defense of Marriage Act. According to The Houston Chronicle, “The delay announced by the immigration judge Thursday means the couple will be able to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the day they met, Aug. 21, together without worrying that immigration agents will come knocking on their door.” Read more about the couple at Stop the Deportations: The DOMA Project.

2. The Obama administration has asked a federal appeals court to suspend its order from last week halting enforcement of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” In a brief filed Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice asks the court to suspend the order by today, saying it wants to follow the timetable laid out in the DADT repeal act passed by Congress last year.

3. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday making the state the first in the country to require schools to teach students about the contributions of LGBT people. The bill also prohibits instruction that reflects adversely on people because of their sexual orientation.

—  John Wright