Bipartisan bill would protect global LGBT rights

Rep. John Tierney introduced a bipartisan bill to protect LGBT people worldwide.

Rep. John Tierney introduced a bipartisan bill to protect LGBT people worldwide.

A bill recently introduced by a bipartisan group of representatives in Congress would protect and advance the global rights of LGBT people if passed.

Reps. John F. Tierney, D-M.A., Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., and Richard, R-N.Y., introduced the International Human Rights Defense Act Wednesday, July 16. Sen. Edward Markey, D-M.A., introduced the bill in the Senate on June 3.

If passed, the bill would direct the Department of State to prioritize protecting LGBT people worldwide. The bill would require the department to develop a strategy to promote and protect LGBT rights worldwide and also appoint a “Special Envoy on the Human Rights of LGBT People” to oversee the strategy.

According to American Jewish World Service, a chief proponent of the bill, 77 countries jail people for having same-sex relations. Five of those countries allow LGBT people to be put to death.

“Defending the rights of LGBT people worldwide is crucial, as many governments are passing punitive laws and sanctioning acts of hate against LGBT people,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS. “As American Jews, we are members of a minority whose rights have been trampled in the past, and we understand fully that neither nor our government can stand by as the rights of vulnerable minorities are trampled in other parts of the world.”

—  James Russell

Nixon tapes reveal he thought gays were born that way

NixonIn April 1971, Richard Nixon had a discussion in the White House with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman. Kissinger had not yet become secretary of state.

“I am the most tolerant person on that of anybody in this shop,” Nixon said in newly released tapes that were secretly recorded during his administration.

Kissinger agreed but thought those kind of people should keep it a secret — especially the gays in his administration. Nixon may have actually been ahead of his time, though.

“They’re born that way. You know that. That’s all. I think they are,” Nixon said.

He said there were a number of intelligent people who were gay. The transcript was released by Vanity Fair.

The discussion must have been in relation to civil rights laws. In December 1971, Nixon issued an executive order requiring contractors to develop “an acceptable affirmative action program.” In 1972, Nixon endorsed congressional passage of the Equal Rights Amendment that would have put equal rights for woman into the constitution had it passed enough states. The Texas legislature was the first state to approve the ERA.

So the conversation seems to be in the context of what rights should be protected by national policy.

“It’s one thing for people to, you know, like some people we know, who would do it discreetly, but to make that a national policy,” Nixon said.

But Nixon was no champion of gay rights in public. In May, Nixon made this statement:

“I do not think that you glorify homosexuality on public television. You don’t glorify it anymore than you glorify whores.”

The Vanity Fair article, however, also quoted from a conversation in July 1971 where they discussed whether Kissinger should resign because of a Newsweek article discussing Kissinger’s religion. He is Jewish.

—  David Taffet

Boulder won’t back down, Florida case in court and more

equalityfloridaToday in marriage equality news: A Florida attorney told a trial court the state’s marriage ban should end. Colorado’s attorney general told a county clerk to stop issuing licenses until he has a final ruling even though he favors an end to the ban. The ACLU wants to make sure licenses issued in Wisconsin are considered valid.

Florida

Florida’s marriage ban case went to court yesterday.

Attorney Jeffrey Cohen asked the judge to issue a ruling similar to those in more than 20 other cases across the nation striking down discriminatory marriage bans as unconstitutional. Cohen also pointed out that while Florida allows same-sex couples to adopt children, it still refuses to let them marry.

“It’s the right of a person to choose who they love and who they make their future with,” Cohen said. “We should not make anyone a second-class citizen.”

The judge didn’t indicate when she would rule on the case.

Colorado

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers demanded Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall stop issuing marriages licenses.

But this isn’t an issue of liberal v. conservative. Suthers wants Hall to stop until he receives a clear ruling from the Tenth Circuit and joined Gov. John Hickenlooper in requesting the court overturn the state’s marriage ban. Hickenlooper is a Democrat and Suthers is a Republican.

Hall has refused and continues to issue licenses to same-sex couples. She began issuing the licenses immediately after the Tenth Circuit ruled Utah’s marriage law is unconstitutional. The appeals court stayed its decision, but the stay specified Utah, so Hall, along with two other county clerks in Colorado, began issuing licenses. With legal council, she said the ruling applies to Colorado, which is also in the Tenth Circuit, but the stay on the ruling did not apply to Colorado, since it specified Utah.

While Suthers would like Colorado’s marriage ban overturned, his motion to the court could stop Hall until the court issues a final ruling.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the ACLU is filing a suit seeking legal recognition for the marriages of the same-sex couples who wed in the days after a federal judge overturned the state ban. Following Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling, more than 500 same-sex couples were married. Days later, Crabb stayed her ruling, pending appeal by state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

Ireland

Although a date hasn’t been set, the Irish will vote on marriage equality sometime early in 2015. Should people really be allowed to vote on other people’s civil rights? According to all courts who’ve weighed in on the issue in the last year, it was wrong when voters in the early 2000s stopped LGBT rights. Does even a yes vote make this election any better?

—  David Taffet

This week in marriage equality

KarenMueller

Crazy of the week: Wisc. Republican Congressional candidate Karen Mueller

Louisiana

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman set July 16 as a deadline to file briefs involving Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban. The same judge heard arguments last week about recognizing out-of-state marriages and said he was not comfortable ruling on such a narrow issue. He hasn’t set a date to hear the full challenge to the marriage ban or said if he will even hear additional arguments.

Colorado

Three counties in Colorado continue to issue marriage licenses after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Utah’s marriage ban. Although the court put a stay on its ruling, the stay specified Utah. County clerks in Colorado, which is also in the 10th Circuit, said the ruling applies to them and the stay does not.

Colorado State Senator Jesse Ulibarri and his partner Louis Trujillo were among the couples who got married last week in Boulder county.

State Attorney General John Suthers said the licenses are invalid and that the Utah decision does not apply to Colorado.

Florida

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for the office again this fall, filed an amicus brief supporting marriage equality in a challenge to his state’s marriage ban. Crist is running as a Democrat.

In his last term in office, he served as a Republican and did little to advance LGBT rights. He supported the Federal Marriage Amendment to put the ban on same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution. As rumors spread that Crist was gay, he got married at age 50.

Indiana

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals put a stay on a lower court’s ruling that allowed same-sex marriages to begin in the state.

Hundreds of couples married between Tuesday’s ruling and Friday’s stay. While the attorney general said those couples are in legal limbo, their marriages will be recognized by the federal government.

Lambda Legal filed papers with the 7th Circuit to go ahead and recognize the marriage of Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler. Quasney is battling Stage IV ovarian cancer. The trial court granted relief to the couple but the attorney general appealed. The emergency relief granted by the court is no longer in effect since the appeals court’s stay went into effect.

Crazy of the week

Wisconsin Republican Congressional candidate Karen Mueller said on the campaign trail same-sex marriage will lead to “the legalization of marriage between siblings.”

Mueller said that if a same-sex couple can marry, any two people would eventually be able to tie the knot and that the state ban does not actually discriminate against LGBT couples.

Where do they come up with this crap? Must be something going on in her own head and Dallas Voice warns her brothers and sisters to beware.

—  David Taffet

Colorado clerks begin issuing marriage licenses

boulder_1

Couples can marry in Boulder … for now.

As a result of the Tenth Circuit’s ruling yesterday that struck down the Utah marriage ban, Boulder County has begun issuing marriage licenses. Lafayette and Longmont counties will begin on Friday, according to the Denver Post.

Colorado is in the same circuit as Utah, so the Boulder County clerk said the ruling applies to her state. The attorney general disagrees and said the licenses won’t be valid.

By the end of the Wednesday, two couples were married. Boulder’s county clerk said she will continue issuing licenses today.

On Wednesday, the Tenth Circuit issued a split ruling declaring Utah’s marriage ban unconstitutional. The court put a stay on its ruling until it’s heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The stay only mentions Utah, not Colorado, and Boulder’s county clerk acted after advice from the county’s legal staff. The circuit also encompassed Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Wyoming.

The attorney general’s actions indicate that Colorado will not accept the decision of the court in its marriage cases, as the Oregon attorney general did several weeks ago, and will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Judge rules Pennsylvania ban unconstitutional

Oregon marriage

Oregon couples began marrying immediately after yesterday’s court ruling. (Picture courtesy Oregon United for Marriage)

UPDATE: A Pennsylvania judge ruled the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. No word yet on when marriage begins or if the ruling will be stayed until it can be appealed. The attorney general said she would not defend the ban. The governor has not said if he would appeal.

“We are better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them onto the ash heap of history,” Judge John E. Jones III said in his ruling. Jones was appointed by President George W. Bush and was recommended to Bush by then-Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

ORIGINAL POST: This week is heating up as an active marriage-equality week.

Monday’s decision in Oregon which legalized same-sex marriage was expected. Also expected was an Arkansas state Supreme Court stay that stopped marriage equality in that state after about 500 couples married.

A ruling is expected at 2 p.m. (1 p.m. Central Time) Tuesday in a marriage case in Pennsylvania. Should the judge strike down the state’s marriage law, as every judge who has heard a marriage case since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA last June, marriage could begin in Pennsylvania this week. Rallies are planned across the state this afternoon.

In Utah, Judge Dale Kimball ruled Monday the state must recognize the marriages of the 1,300 couples who married during a two-week period when it was legal in December. He said it was unfair to put those couples into limbo, affecting everything from adoption to taxes to benefits. The decision doesn’t take effect for 21 days to give the state time to appeal.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Will gay Oregon judge legalize marriage today?

Judge Michael McShane

Judge Michael McShane

UPDATE 1: Judge Michael McShane declared Oregon’s marriage ban unconstitutional. The ruling was expect and couples lined up for licenses even before the ruling was released, according to Associated Press. The state is not expected to appeal, but there was no announcement of when marriage equality begins.

In his 26-page opinion, Shane wrote, “At the core of the Equal Protection Clause … there exists a foundational belief that certain rights should be shielded from the barking crowds; that certain rights are subject to ownership by all and not the stake hold of popular trend or shifting majorities.”

UPDATE 2: The first marriages have already taken place in Oregon, according to The Oregonian.

ORIGINAL POST:

Judge Michael McShane will rule on Oregon’s marriage ban at noon (2 p.m. Central time) today.

McShane and his husband are raising a child together.

Oregon’s attorney general said she would not appeal if the marriage ban is overturned and declined to defend the law when the case was heard in McShane’s court on Wednesday.

Should McShane not overturn the marriage ban making Oregon marriage-equality state No. 19, Oregon United for Marriage has enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November.

So the real question is whether marriage equality comes to Oregon this afternoon or will couples have to wait until later in the week. Also, how embarrassed is everyone in Oregon that Arkansas couples were able to marry in marriage-equality state No. 18 first? I mean Arkansas. Sheesh.

—  David Taffet

NOM loses, Idaho governor loses and Ark. attorney general loses, so all appeal

Rosenblum.Ellen

Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum

Judges in Idaho, Oregon and Arkansas just didn’t seem to be in the mood to listen to state officials today who didn’t care for their rulings. Virginia rolled out the same old, tired arguments that have been struck down across the country in its appeal to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter seems desperate to prevent his state’s same-sex couples from marrying beginning Friday. The trial judge refused to put a stay on her decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

Otter said he would ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay pointing to the “unmitigated disaster” that occurred in Utah after that state’s marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional.

Although he didn’t explain the disaster, he probably meant that about 1,300 couples married in Utah between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a stay. Those couples’ marriages are recognized by the federal government for tax and benefit purposes. Utah announced that it would allow those couples to file joint state taxes as well.

So you can see what a disaster marriage has been in Utah, but with the Supreme Court stay, Otter is exaggerating by calling the disaster unmitigated. The court mitigated the horror of couples filing their taxes jointly and, in most cases, paying more.

The 9th Circuit is not expected to grant a stay to Idaho. That circuit includes marriage-equality states Washington, California and Hawaii and has ruled in favor of marriage equality in the past. However, the Supreme Court is likely to stay the decision until appeals are exhausted. That may take several weeks.

Speaking of 9th Circuit states, Oregon is the latest state whose marriage law challenge has begun. Last week, the National Organization for Marriage filed papers to defend the marriage laws because the state attorney general declined to defend it.

Today, a federal judge declined to allow NOM to participate in the case.

“This is an Oregon case. It will remain an Oregon case,” U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane said.

NOM plans to appeal the judge’s decision to the 9th Circuit as well. The judge cited Hollingsworth v. Perry, better known as the Prop 8 case. That Supreme Court decision last year said interveners had to have standing. An organization can’t intervene just because they don’t like the interpretation of government officials.

Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum is representing the state in the case, but she called the law indefensible.

In Arkansas, the attorney general continues to ask for a stay because of confusion over the ruling. The ruling said the state’s marriage law was unconstitutional. Some county clerks have begun issuing licenses while others have not.

The confusion seems to be among county clerks who don’t seem to want to comply with the ruling, not with the couples who read the ruling and went to the county clerks’ offices and asked for licenses. About 400 couples have married in Arkansas already.

Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee called for the judge’s impeachment.

In Virginia, the state argued that 1.3 million voters passed an amendment. That argument was knocked down earlier this week in Idaho. Virginia also argued the plaintiffs do not have the right to redefine marriage, and they can’t give children a mother and a father.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Idaho becomes marriage equality state No. 19 on Friday

Gov Butch Otter

Gov. Butch Otter

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Judge Candy Dale denied Gov. Butch Otter’s request for a stay to delay marriage equality until after all appeals are exhausted. Marriage will begin on Friday.

ORIGINAL STORY: Expecting to lose in U.S. District Court, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter filed a motion for a stay of the court’s expected marriage-equality ruling before it was handed down, according to the Idaho Statesman.

The case was heard on May 5. On Tuesday, Judge Candy Dale handed down a 57-page ruling. If the court doesn’t stay its decision, Idaho becomes marriage-equality state No. 19. Last week, Arkansas became equality-state No. 18.

In court, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden couldn’t come up with any real reasons to deny same-sex couples to marry. The state’s main argument was that Idaho voters decided the issue in 2006, and the defendants misread the case if they thought that vote was driven by animus.

Judge Candy Dale wrote, “Because Idaho’s Marriage Laws impermissibly infringe on Plaintiffs’ fundamental right to marry, the Laws are subject to strict due process and equal protection scrutiny.”

Dale said the state’s marriage laws “unambiguously expresses a singular purpose — to exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage in Idaho” and found the laws unconstitutional under due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The judge debunked the state’s argument voters weren’t motivated by animus.

“But ‘preserving the traditional institution of marriage’ is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples,” Dale wrote.

Just how many people does this affect? The U.S. Census Bureau reported 3,245 same-sex households in Idaho in the 2010 census.

In Arkansas, where the marriage laws were declared unconstitutional on Friday, 400 couples have married since the state began issuing licenses on Saturday.

—  David Taffet

Former U.S. Senate candidate Craig James goes to work for hate group

Craig.James

Former U.S. Senate candidate Craig James

Former SMU football player and candidate for U.S. Senate Craig James has taken a job with Family Research Council, listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He will become assistant to the hate group’s President Tony Perkins.

In his Senate campaign, James was best known for his attacks on fellow candidate former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who rode on a float with the Dallas City Council in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. Leppert participated in Pride until he decided to run for the Senate seat.

Leppert came in third in his Senate bid, ahead of James, who came in fourth. Sen. Ted Cruz won the election.

At a campaign debate at Dallas Country Club attended by Dallas Voice, James made this homophobic comment:

“You have to make that choice, absolutely. … Same-sex marriage, if someone chooses to do that, then that’s them, and God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions, but in that case right there, they’re going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions. It should not occur. We have to stay strong on this. This is important, man. I tell you what, we have a fiscal issue in this county, but we also have a moral issue in this country, and as Christians we better stand up.”

After the campaign, Fox Sports hired James, but fired him a week later for comments made during the campaign.

“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here,” Fox told Dallas Morning News at the time.

James is currently suing Fox for religious discrimination based on preserving his right to discriminate.

—  David Taffet