Tag Archives: Prop H8

Pink triangle proposition won’t become law in California, but it’s the thought that counts

History repeats itself. Above are shown victims of fascist Nazi Germany’s persecution of accused gay men, tens of thousands of whom were required to wear an inverted pink triangle marking them as non-heterosexual. A theofascist California lawyer has submitted to the state’s attorney general’s office a ballot proposition to “put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method” “any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification.”

An Orange County, California, lawyer has paid the $200 filing fee to start the process for his “Sodomite Suppression Act,” which would, at its most merciful, prevent any non-heterosexual from being a public school teacher, a police officer, an elected public official or any other public employee, and which would, at worst, “put [non-heterosexuals] to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

My reading of the fairly short “act” gives me the impression that the sentiment is not entirely unlike the Catholick Church’s or the Mormon cult’s: Merely having same-sex attraction is bad, but actually acting upon it is the worst, because the fuller phrasing of the “act” is: “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.”

In a shout-out to Vladimir Putin, the “act” also mandates that:

No person shall distribute, perform, or transmit sodomistic propaganda directly or indirectly by any means to any person under the age of majority. Sodomistic propaganda is defined as anything aimed at creating an interest in or an acceptance of human sexual relations other than between a man and a woman. Every offender shall be fined $1 million per occurrence, and/or imprisoned up to 10 years, and/or expelled from the boundaries of the state of California for up to life.

Although this modest proposal first emerged weeks ago, this past week it has hit the media as “news.”

The legal consensus is that California Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose office is the first stop for any ballot initiative in the state, does not have the legal authority to shut down the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” even though it patently violates the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution. The legal consensus also is that the office of the California secretary of state, the second and final stop for a state ballot initiative, does not have the legal authority to stop the “Sodomite Suppression Act.”

Of course, the right-wing lawyer who has proposed the “act,” a Matt McLaughlin, has cleared the easiest, lowest bar in the California ballot initiative process: he paid his $200 to the state’s attorney general’s office to obtain his ballot title and ballot summary, which he first must obtain from the attorney general’s office before he may begin to collect the 365,880 valid signatures of registered voters in order to qualify his ballot initiative for its placement on the November 2016 statewide ballot.

Collecting that many signatures would require some resources; McLaughlin would have to print his own petitions in a strict format dictated by state law and would have to get the bodies to go out and gather all of those signatures, be they paid or be they volunteers or some mixture of both.

Vox.com posits that the “[California state] Supreme Court is likely to step in and stop the [ballot] measure, particularly if the proposal gets enough signatures to qualify for the ballot,” but doesn’t cite its source of this assertion.

Oddly, though, neither Vox.com nor Slate.com, in their explainers on the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” notes that even though the majority of California’s voters might adopt a ballot initiative (for which only a simple majority is required), a federal court always can rule that the ballot initiative violates the U.S. Constitution (and, to my knowledge, the state’s Supreme Court can rule that a ballot initiative violates the state’s Constitution).

There is precedent for this: The hateful, anti-immigrant California Proposition 187, passed by the state’s voters by a disturbing 59 percent to 41 percent in November 1994, was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge in 1997 (indeed, most of the law never even went into effect, because the same federal judge had imposed a permanent injunction on most portions of the law in December 1994).

And in November 2008, California’s voters narrowly passed (52 percent to 48 percent) the hateful, anti-non-heterosexual Proposition 8, which then was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2010. (The federal judge’s ruling was challenged legally but ultimately was left intact by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013, and same-sex marriages in California have been legal since then.)

The California Supreme Court declined to prevent the unconstitutional Proposition H8 from appearing on the ballot, so it would be interesting to see what the court would do if it were asked to prevent the “Sodomite Suppression Act” from appearing on the ballot. Indeed, while Prop H8 “only” sought to outlaw same-sex marriages, the “Sodomite Suppression Act” calls for the Nazi-style wholesale slaughter of non-heterosexuals who ever have acted upon their same-sex attraction.

But, Wikipedia notes, citing a 2006 California Supreme Court case, “As a general rule, it is improper for courts to adjudicate pre-election challenges to a measure’s substantive validity.” In other words, the state Supreme Court apparently believes that voters get to weigh in on a ballot measure first, and the constitutionality of the measure, if it is passed, is to be hashed out in the courts only after the measure’s passage.

Thank Goddess for the federal court system and its ability (indeed, its duty) to weigh in on whether laws passed by the states’ legislatures or by the states’ voters violate the U.S. Constitution, as history has shown that even the states’ highest courts are fairly toothless, by choice or by design (to my knowledge, the states’ highest courts have jurisdiction only over their states’ constitutions, and state judges don’t have the legal authority to determine whether a state law violates the U.S. Constitution*).

True, it took years for the odious and unconstitutional California Prop H8 finally to be undone by the federal court system (that said, while today same-sex marriage is legal in California and in 35 other states, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage once and for all), but, even if the “Sodomite Suppression Act” were to make it to the November 2016 California ballot (unlikely, given the amount of money that is required to get anything on the statewide ballot in the nation’s most populous state) and pass (which is highly unlikely in this blue state), a federal court (if not also the California Supreme Court) immediately would halt its implementation, of course. Not a single bullet would be fired into the head of an accused non-heterosexual (not by the state government of California, anyway).

But, you know, it’s certainly the thought that counts, isn’t it?

Apparently wingnutty lawyer Matt McLaughlin is unlikely to be disbarred by the state for his ballot proposition. While proposing a law that blatantly violates the U.S. Constitution by proposing the wholesale murder of an entire class of human beings amply demonstrates McLaughlin’s blatant moral turpitude (if not also his blatant incompetence) as a lawyer, whose duty is to uphold the state and federal constitutions, not propose to violate them, McLaughlin should, in my book, be disbarred, but apparently he will be able to hide behind his First-Amendment “right” to propose, Nazi-style, that a whole class of people be executed.

Still, if you believe, like I do, that McLaughlin should be disbarred, you can sign, as I have, an online petition calling for his disbarment by clicking here.

Even if McLaughlin were just pulling an attention-grabbing stunt, his “Sodomite Suppression Act,” whether he means it seriously or not — to be safe, I assume that he is quite serious** — is hate speech, and lawyers who practice hate speech (which does not warrant First-Amendment protection, since it so obviously so easily can result in violence, even death, or other injury against its intended targets) should be disbarred.

I might thank McLaughlin, however, for demonstrating quite publicly that his Nazi-like mentality, although a minority mentality, still exists. And shudderingly, I surmise that while many if not most homophobes wouldn’t go so far as to execute an accused non-heterosexual individual with their own hands, the worst of the homophobes, if such execution were routine even here in the United States of America, wouldn’t much care and would do little to nothing to stop it.

*Alabama state Supreme Court Chief “Justice” Roy Moore, for instance, has claimed, quite incorrectly, that he has the legal authority and ability to override and ignore a federal judge’s ruling on the federal constitutionality of same-sex marriage in the state. Moore was removed from the post of Alabama Supreme Court chief “justice” in 2003 for having ignored another federal judge’s ruling on another federal constitution issue, but he was not disbarred, as he should have been, and thus he legally was allowed to run for the post again, which, insanely, is filled by popular election in the backasswards state of Alabama.

**Not much is known of McLaughlin, but the San Francisco Chronicle notes that “McLaughlin, a lawyer since 1998, tried to qualify an initiative in 2004 that would have added the King James Bible as a literature textbook in California public schools. He was quoted at the time as saying he was promoting classroom use of the Bible for its ‘rich use of the English language’ and was not trying to indoctrinate students.”

So McLaughlin apparently has a history of toxic, theofascist fundamentalism and apparently wishes for a theocratic state, much like the members of ISIS, whose mentality is the same but whose bible is different.

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Brendan Eich(mann) got what he deserved

Outgoing Mozilla chief executive Brendan Eich

Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich gave a hate group $1,000, paid a price for it, and this poetic justice is deemed to be a “violation” of “free speech” in the fascistic United States of America. (Yes, the fascistic Nazis persecuted non-heterosexuals, too.)

Most discussion of whether or not the “free-speech rights” of Mozilla co-founder and short-lived CEO Brendan Eich — who stepped down as CEO Thursday after a firestorm had raged over his having donated $1,000 to the 2008 Proposition Hate effort — have been trampled upon wholly ignores or glosses over one simple historical and legal fact: a federal court in 2010 found Prop H8 to be unconstitutional — and thus illegal.

As Wikipedia recounts it, “In August 2010,  [United States District Court for the Northern District of California] Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the [anti-same-sex-marriage California constitutional] amendment was unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, since it purported to re-remove rights from a disfavored class only, with no rational basis.”

So, before we blather ourselves into a lather about “free speech,” let’s take a good, long, hard look at exactly the kind of speech that we’re actually defending here — and in this case, it is hate speech.

Yes, it is.

To have supported Prop H8 was to have supported the continued mindless oppression of a minority group picked out for such continued mindless oppression. “Mindless” oppression because, as Vaughn Walker (whose original ruling still holds as the law of California, since the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legally upheld it) correctly ruled, there is no rational basis to prohibit same-sex marriage.

To have supported Prop H8 was to have supported something that was and that remains unconstitutional and thus illegal.

Whether or not hate speech should have First-Amendment protection — especially when hate speech (yes, even “just” giving $1,000 to a “cause” meant to continue to oppress a certain minority group) so often results in very real harm to many very real people — is another discussion, but for the time being, let’s not pretend that Brendan Eich was just trying to do something nice for someone and that he paid a price for it, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Let’s also not pretend that if Eich (whom I really want to call Eichmann) had a “free-speech right” to donate money to an unconstitutionally and thus illegally oppressive “cause,” that those who wanted his head on a silver platter for his donation didn’t also have a free-speech right to call for his head on a silver platter (so to speak [of course]). They did. They do. We do.

And let’s not pretend that Eich was fired for having given a $1K donation to a hate group. He was not fired. He resigned.

He resigned, apparently, because in his high-level job, his very apparently being a homophobe tarnished the public reputation of the entire organization. Most large organizations wouldn’t have well-known white supremacists as their CEOs, either.

Let’s not pretend that a CEO, a very public person, having given $1K to Prop H8 and then having been fairly forced, socioeconomicopolitically, to resign because of that donation is just like! you or I, a very private person, having given $1K to Prop H8 and actually having been terminated from our much-lower-level employment because of it. Let’s not do that, because context, including the level of the power of the players involved, is everything.

Brendan Eichmann — er, Eich — got what he deserved for having financially supported a hate group. If he believes that his constitutional (such as his First-Amendment) rights have been violated by anyone, then he may sue to his hating heart’s content. Presumably, he has plenty of cash with which to do so. (But he won’t sue, because he has no fucking case.)

There is nothing more to discuss.

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Win some, lose some, but we queer ducks are still ahead of the haters

The first gay couple to be married in Utah, Michael Ferguson and his husband Seth Anderson, kiss as Blake Ferguson and his girlfriend Danielle Morgan watch after the pair married at the Salt Lake County Clerks office in Salt Lake City, Utah

Reuters photo

Michael Ferguson, center, and Seth Anderson, right, of Salt Lake City, were the first gay-male couple to legally marry in the “Christo”fascist state of Utah, on December 20. This unexpected, incredibly ironic historical event more than makes up for this pathetic shit:

This undated image released by A&E shows Phil Robertson, flanked by his sons Jase Robertson, left, and Willie Robertson from the popular series "Duck Dynasty." Phil Robertson was suspended for disparaging comments he made to GQ magazine about gay people but was reinstated by the network on Friday, Dec. 27. In a statement Friday, A&E said it decided to bring Robertson back to the reality series after discussions with the Robertson family and "numerous advocacy groups." (AP Photo/A&E, Zach Dilgard)

Associated Press image

So A&E cravenly has caved in and decided to keep “Duck Dynasty” intact. Here is the “patriarch” of the “reality” show — who won’t be missing from a single episode — spewing forth racist, homophobic and generally stupid-white-male-bigoted venom and bile*, yet the shameless corporate weasels (redundant…) of A&E assure us that “A&E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect.”

Yes, so much so that Papa Duck (a.k.a. Phil Robertson) got only a slap on the wrist, if even that, and that from now on it will be business as usual. (Oh, but as a parting gift, a consolation prize, much like Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat, A&E has promised, “We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign [public service announcements] promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty. [!] These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.”

When I was earning my journalism degree, my cohorts and I thought of those who actually were going for a public relations [PR] degree at our university as PRostitutes. We remain correct.)

I had figured that the highly-lucrative-among-white-trash “Duck Dynasty” would live on, albeit at a more appropriate venue, such as FOX. No doubt, there remains a captive audience for the stupid white man’s hate speech. (If they see and hear it on the tay-vay, then it must be the truth!)

Oh, well. I have added A&E to homophobic operations that I steadfastly boycott, including Chick-fil-A (there is one nearby that I’ve never stepped foot in), Cracker Barrel (OK, so I don’t think that we have even one of those restaurants here in Northern California, but I’d never step foot in one, anywhere, ever), and a local ice cream restaurant named Leatherby’s that I haven’t stepped foot in ever since I learned that its “Christo”fascist owner gave $20,000 toward the passage of Proposition H8 (true, the restaurant always struck me as at least a bit dirty and nasty anyway, so that wasn’t exactly a difficult boycott).

But recently there was another addition to another list, a list that is much more important than is my own personal boycott list: the list of states where same-sex marriage is in effect.

To that list we have added Utah. Yes, Utah — to a large degree the home of the now-overturned anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition H8, which wouldn’t have passed here in California in November 2008 if the Utah-based Mormon cult hadn’t aided and abetted the hateful effort (how do they keep their tax-exempt status?) — now has same-sex marriage.

That wonderful irony blows the pathetic Papa Duck right out of the water.

Lest you believe for a nanosecond that the “Christo”fascists of Utah have had a sudden change of heart, that they actually have taken to heart the actual teachings of Jesus Christ (to love others and to not be a fucking asshole), know that in this case, change had to come from without: It was a federal district court judge, not the voters of Utah or the state’s legislature or the state’s highest court, who ruled, correctly, that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage has violated the equal, human and civil rights guaranteed to all Americans by the U.S. Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, and which no one, not even the grand wizards of the Mormon cult in Salt Lake City, is above.

And know that of course the bigoted state of Utah, which is owned and operated by the Mormon cult, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and to stop same-sex marriages in Utah, which recently have been going on at a record pace. (Reports The Washington Post:

Salt Lake City — In the week since a federal judge overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, the number of weddings in the state has skyrocketed, shattering records and accruing thousands of dollars for Utah’s 29 counties.

As of close of business Thursday [December 26], more than 1,225 marriage licenses had been issued in Utah since last Friday [December 20]. Of those, at least 74 percent, or 905 licenses, were issued to gay and lesbian couples. …

Salt Lake County shattered a previously held record of 85 marriages in a given day, by handing out 353 on Monday [December 23] — the first full day of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. …)

This! Unbridled! Happiness! MUST! STOP! NOW!

(That is, after, all, the central teaching of Jesus Christ!)

I’ll live with the fact that a “reality” show about a white-trash family (again, I think of them and their kind as the American Taliban) that I’ve never watched and never will watch continues on.

And that battle isn’t over. Thus far, the weasels of A&E have done the math — the accounting, more accurately — and have calculated that it was safe for them to rescind their indefinite suspension of Papa Duck from his family’s “reality” show before it even had gone into effect.

We’ll see if there is any blowback over this — again, A&E is a venture of Disney and the Hearst Corp. — and if so, whether this blowback makes the assholes of A&E change their minds on Papa Duck and his “reality” show once again.

In the meantime, I expect the U.S. Supreme Court to refuse to intervene in same-sex marriage in Utah, leaving same-sex marriage intact there, which is, after all of the Proposition H8 drama, incredibly fucking funny. (Not that equal human and civil rights for everyone is a joke — it is not — but still!)

What would be even funnier still would be if the U.S. Supreme Court does get involved in the issue of same-sex marriage in Utah, at the state of Utah’s request — only to rule in favor of same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Unlikely, perhaps, but not impossible, and that ruling will come from the U.S. Supreme Court in the not-too-distant future — with or without A&E’s PSAs “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people.”

*In addition to the quotes widely publicized from Papa Duck’s interview in next month’s edition of GQ, in recent years he also said these things (click that link [to the Los Angeles Times’ website] to see the links to the YouTube videos that are videorecorded evidence of these quotations):

  • “Look, [if] you wait ’til they get to be about 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You gotta marry these girls when they’re 15 or 16; they’ll pick your ducks.”
  • “Why do they murder and why do they hate us? Because all of them … 80 years of history, they all want to conquer the world, they all rejected Jesus and they’re all famous for murder. Nazis, Shintoists, Communists and the Mohammedists. Every one of them the same way.”
  • “Women with women. Men with men. They committed indecent acts with one another. And they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”

As Andrew Sullivan has pointed out, this rhetoric is chillingly reminiscent of the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Nazi Germany, where the Jews were blamed for all evil. Sullivan wrote, in response to Papa Duck’s remark to GQ that when it comes to “sin,” you simply “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there”:

… [To] posit gay people as the true source of all moral corruption is to use eliminationist rhetoric and demonizing logic to soften up a small minority of people for exclusion, marginalization and, at some point, violence.

If you think I’m hyperventilating, ask yourself what the response would be if in talking about sin, Phil Robertson had said, “Start with Jewish behavior…” The argument would be totally recognizable, once very widespread, and deeply disturbing. What we’re seeing here – and it’s very much worth debating – is how fundamentalist religion seizes on recognizable, [“]immoral[“] minorities to shore up its own sense of righteousness. You can gussy it up – but it’s right there in front of our nose. …

This is the type of speech that A&E attempts to excuse, as though some fucking PSAs are going to make it all A-OK.

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The Supremes give me reverse November 2008 déjà vu

Updated below (last on Friday, June 28, 2013)

For this progressive Californian, this week feels like an uncanny reversal of Election Day 2008: In November 2008, we Californians saw our nation’s first non-all-white president* elected, a historical milestone — but with the narrow (52-48) passage of Proposition H8, which wrote homophobia into the California state Constitution by banning same-sex marriage, we non-heterosexual Californians were stripped of our constitutionally guaranteed right to marry, which the California Supreme Court earlier that year had ruled was ours.**

Yesterday, in a typically 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, claiming that the act’s provisions were too outdated, despite the fact that Congress had renewed it overwhelmingly in 2006, which wasn’t all that fucking long ago.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg nailed it on the head when she remarked, “Throwing out [U.S. Justice Department] pre-clearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes [to voting laws] is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

While I surmise that Congress will restore the Voting Rights Act in the future, that won’t happen, of course, with the current wingnut-dominated U.S. House of Representatives. Indeed, media reports are that the fascists of the red states, in light of this new U.S. Supreme Court decision, are working fast and furiously to reinstate their voter suppression laws (previously shot down by the Justice Department) just in time for the 2014 midterm elections.

I have to wonder, of course, if that was the goal of the wingnuts on the high court: To help the struggling Repugnican Tea Party in the next national elections. Hey, they’ve certainly involved themselves in election-fixing before, which even former U.S. Supreme Court “Justice” Sandra Day O’Connor, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan and who, with four other like-minded “justices,” put George W. Bush in office, has expressed a potential problem with.

Yesterday was a giant leap backwards for the equal human and civil rights of non-whites, and was yet another stain on our nation caused by yet another 5-4 vote by the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, right up there with the court’s 5-4 coronation of George W. Bush as president in late 2000 even though he’d lost the election by more than a half-million popular votes and even though the pivotal state of Florida clearly had been stolen as a “victory” for Bush and with the court’s 5-4 Citizens United decision, which reinforced the bogus concept that corporations are just like individual people, and that just like individual people, corporations have First Amendment rights.

It’s mind-blowing to ponder the fact that the voting rights for which so many Americans fought and even died were eliminated at the stroke of the poisoned pen of just one right-wing U.S. Supreme Court justice. (Yet at the same time I suppose that it’s a little encouraging to know that it was only a 5-4 vote, that only one “justice” made the difference.)

I hope that the backlash against the right wing’s ongoing attempt to suppress voters is considerable. Generally speaking, the right-wing traitors among us win little battles here and there, but over time, they continue to lose the war. They stymie and delay progress as much as they can, but progress still marches on, and the haters go down in history as the haters that they are or were.

But today, unlike in November 2008, there was good news for us non-heterosexuals when the US. Supreme Court ruled, 5-4 (of course), that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which Congress passed in 1996, is unconstitutional, as it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws (duh).

This ruling means that no same-sex couple that has been married in a state with legalized same-sex marriage may be denied any of the federal benefits of marriage that are enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.

However, this also means that same-sex couples in most states will not have the same rights as do same-sex couples in other states (those states that have adopted legalized same-sex marriage), which, of course, is a patently unfair and thus an untenable situation.

Yes, the nation’s high court, while it struck down DOMA, by yet another 5-4 vote refused to touch Prop H8, ruling that, as Reuters puts it, “supporters of [Prop H8] did not have standing to appeal a federal district court ruling that struck the law down.” Thus, the court apparently very intentionally avoided directly ruling on whether or not any state may constitutionally outlaw same-sex marriage, leaving same-sex marriage, for now, as an untenable issue of “states’ rights.”

Because the U.S. Supreme Court wouldn’t touch Prop H8, the lower federal courts’ rulings that Prop H8 is unconstitutional (because it violates the Fourteenth Amendment) stand, and my understanding is that this means that California will have same-sex marriage again, as it did briefly in 2008 (between the effective date of the California Supreme Court’s ruling for same-sex marriage and the effective date of the same-sex-marriage-nixing Prop H8) — but, I understand, there’s more legal wrangling ahead as to what, exactly, the Supremes’ refusal to touch Prop H8 means for California.

It was cowardly, irresponsible and short-sighted of the court to rule that DOMA is unconstitutional on the grounds of the Fourteenth Amendment but to then refuse to rule that accordingly, no state may outlaw same-sex marriage on the grounds of the Fourteenth Amendment, but apparently today’s rulings were, pathetically, the best that we could get from this right-wing court.

Of course it would have been nice if either or both of today’s high-court rulings on DOMA and Prop H8 (the court’s cowardly refusal to issue a ruling on Prop H8 was the court’s “ruling” on Prop H8) had been 6-3 or even 7-2 (or hell, even 8-1 or 9-0), but the right-wing homo-haters have no credibility in (predictably) calling the 5-4 decisions the “tyranny” of the U.S. Supreme Court against the American majority when a series of recent nationwide polls clearly show that a clear majority of Americans favor same-sex marriage.

And those fascistic haters who claim that to overturn Prop H8 is to overturn the will of California’s voters conveniently ignore the two facts that (1) any ballot measure passed by a majority of any state’s voters can be overturned by a federal court if that court deems it to be unconstitutional (Civics 101 — duh) and that (2) while Prop H8 passed in November 2008 with 52 percent of the vote, polls show now that around 60 percent of Californians support same-sex marriage; were Californians to vote again on the issue again today, same-sex marriage would pass by a decisive margin. Prop H8 no longer is the will of the majority of California’s voters.

So: Today we can celebrate a significant although incomplete victory for same-sex couples who desire legalized marriage and the rights (and, yes, the responsibilities) that come with legalized marriage.

But we need to fight like hell to regain the ground that we just lost where voting rights are concerned, and we need to fight like hell to gain full marriage equality for same-sex couples in all 50 states.

The U.S. Constitution’s demands for fairness and equality demand that we do so.

*True, Barack Obama (whom I don’t really consider “black” but consider to be of mixed race) turned out to be a huge disappointment, a George W. Bush Lite, but I did cast my vote for him in November 2008 before I knew how his presidency was going to unfold. I voted for him in 2008 at least in part because I thought that it was great to be able to vote for the first non-all-white president in U.S. history. (In 2012 I could not, in good conscience, vote for Obama again; I voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.)

**And this was no radically left-wing California Supreme Court; when it ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2008, most of its justices at that time had been appointed by Repugnican, not by Democratic, governors.

Update (Wednesday, June 26, 2013): Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown has instructed the California Department of Public Health, which comes under his authority, to direct all of California’s 58 counties to begin to issue same-sex marriage licenses as soon as is legally possible, which might take a month or so.

Update (Friday, June 28, 2013): The homo-hating wingnuts here in California (and elsewhere) are going apoplectic over this (from The Associated Press today):

The four plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban tied the knot [today], just hours after a federal appeals court freed gay couples to obtain marriage licenses in the state for the first time in 4 1/2 years.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris presided at the San Francisco City Hall wedding of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier as hundreds of supporters looked on and cheered. The couple sued to overturn the state’s voter-approved gay marriage ban along with Jeff Katami and Paul Zarrillo, who married at Los Angeles City Hall 90 minutes later with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa presiding. …

Although the couples fought for the right to wed for years, their weddings came together in a flurry when a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order [this] afternoon dissolving, “effective immediately,” a stay it had imposed on gay marriages while the lawsuit challenging the ban advanced through the courts.

Sponsors of California’s same-sex marriage ban, known as Proposition 8, called the appeals court’s swift action “outrageous.” Under Supreme Court rules, the losing side in a legal dispute has 25 days to ask the high court to rehear the case, and Proposition 8’s backers had not yet announced whether they would do so. …

Call the homo-haters a waaaaaambulance! Anyway, the AP story continues:

The [U.S.] Supreme Court said earlier this week that it would not finalize its ruling in the Proposition 8 case until after the 25-day period, which ends July 21. But San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who joined the two couples in the lawsuit, said [today] that the Ninth Circuit panel had the power to lift the stay it imposed.

“The fact of the matter is the only thing holding up the weddings was the stay that the Ninth Circuit had in place,” Herrera said. “The fact that there is a separate 25-day period allowing the petition to go for a rehearing is separate and apart from that stay.”

[California Gov. Jerry] Brown directed California counties to start performing same-sex marriages immediately after the appeals court’s order. A memo from the Department of Public Health said “same-sex marriage is again legal in California” and ordered county clerks to resume issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. …

Anyway: Wow. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s handed-down decision on Wednesday not to touch the Prop H8 case, we Californians had figured that there would be a wait of at least around a month for same-sex marriages to resume in California; we didn’t expect them to resume this quickly.

I misspoke above, by the way: The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday did not uphold both federal district court Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 decision that Prop H8 violated the U.S. Constitution and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in February 2012 to uphold Walker’s original ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday vacated the circuit court’s ruling, which then reverted the matter of Prop H8 to Walker’s original 2010 ruling.

Frankly, Vaughn Walker, who is now retired, is a hero to me. Yes, he is a gay man, and yes, the homo-haters tried (but failed) to have his 2010 pro-same-sex-marriage ruling invalidated because he’s gay (apparently only [presumedly] straight white men can be fair and impartial judges, you see), but Walker is no left-wing radical: He was nominated as a federal judge first by Ronald Reagan and then by George H. W. Bush, and apparently his political leanings are conservative-libertarian.

I consider Walker’s ruling to be a landmark document in U.S. gay, lesbian and bisexual history. You can read it, if you want, here.

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Magical Elves, sparkleponies and other assorted gay shit

Pro-gay ally NFL player Chris Kluwe’s colorfully titled book is due out next month. Kluwe earlier this month was dropped by the Minnesota Vikings but was picked up by the Oakland Raiders. I’m glad and proud to have him as a fellow Californian; Minnesota’s loss is California’s gain.

I usually comment on gay-rights issues in the news in a timely fashion, but I’ve been slacking as of late. So here I’ll try to catch up:

It was great to see basketball player Jason Collins, the first active player from one of the “Big Four” sports organizations (the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League ), come out late last month, even if there is at least a grain of truth to gay writer Bret Easton Ellis’ criticism that Collins’ treatment by the media “as some kind of baby panda who needed to be honored and praised and consoled and — yes — infantilized by his coming out on the cover of Sports Illustrated” also made Collins a “Gay Man as Magical Elf, who whenever he comes out appears before us as some kind of saintly E.T. whose sole purpose is to be put in the position of reminding us only about Tolerance and Our Own Prejudices and To Feel Good About Ourselves and to be a symbol instead of just being a gay dude.”

And I also was happy to hear the news that pro-gay ally NFL player Chris Kluwe, who was dropped by the Minnesota Vikings earlier this month (perhaps at least in part due to his vocal pro-gay-and-pro-gay-marriage stance), shortly thereafter was picked up by the Oakland Raiders.

If Minnesota didn’t appreciate Kluwe, I’m happy to have him here in California, where Kluwe already has done us some good: Kluwe and another pro-gay ally, NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo, per Wikipedia, “filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on February 28, 2013, regarding Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which they expressed their support of the challenge to California Proposition 8,” which in 2008 amended California’s Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, a right that California’s Supreme Court had ruled was guaranteed to Californians by the state’s Constitution before the haters later amended it with Prop H8.

I admire the very apparently heterosexual Kluwe, who is heterosexually married and has two children. According to Wikipedia, Kluwe wrote a blog called “Out of Bounds” for a Minnesota newspaper before he quit the blog last year in protest of the newspaper’s having run an editorial in support of the euphemistically titled “Minnesota Marriage Amendment,” which, just as Prop H8 did in California, would have amended the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. (That amendment failed at the ballot box in November, with the haters losing by just more than 5 percentage points, and subsequently the Minnesota Legislature legalized same-sex marriage this month.)

It takes balls and selflessness to fight for a historically discriminated against and oppressed group of people of whom you apparently aren’t a member. Kluwe did the right thing by boycotting the anti-gay newspaper.

Kluwe also has been outspoken about the facts that not all athletes are dumb jocks and that there is more to life than football, even for an NFL player.

And yeah, I’ll probably buy his upcoming book, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities, which is due out next month.

Also this month, three states approved same-sex marriage: Delaware, Rhode Island, and, as I mentioned, Minnesota. (I find it ironic that just after the Minnesota Vikings dropped Kluwe, very possibly at least in part due to his advocacy for same-sex marriage, the state’s Legislature enacted same-sex marriage.)

True, Rhode Island and Delaware are only our 43rd and 45th most populous states, respectively, but Minnesota is our 21st most populous state, and it joins Iowa as another Midwestern state with same-sex marriage. Once the Midwest goes, how far behind can the rest of the nation be?

Finally, I found it to be a pleasant surprise to learn that President Barack Obama, this past weekend in his commencement speech to the graduates of the all-male, historically African-American Morehouse College, remarked, “… and that’s what I’m asking all of you to do: keep setting an example for what it means to be a man. Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner. Be the best father you can be to your children. Because nothing is more important.”

True, Obama’s wording was inelegant.* If you were a man who had married your boyfriend, he would be your “husband” or your “spouse” or your “partner” or however else you chose to refer to him (hell, call him your “wife” if you want to and if he is OK with that; it’s your marriage, not mine). But if you had married him, you probably wouldn’t still be referring to him as your “boyfriend.”

Still, I found it at least a bit encouraging for the president of the United States of America, whatever his other many flaws and missteps might be, basically state in a college commencement address before an all-male audience that marrying a member of the same sex is perfectly fine if that is what is right for the individual.

You never would have heard George W. Bush, or even Bill Clinton, utter those words at a commencement ceremony.

I noted above that Chris Kluwe is “heterosexually married.” I did that on purpose; married” no longer should automatically mean heterosexually married; “married” should include the possibility of being homosexually married — in all 50 states and in every nation on the planet that recognizes marriage between heterosexuals.

And one day, it won’t matter; “married” will just be married, and no one will much care, if he or she cares at all, whether it’s a same-sex marriage or an opposite-sex marriage.

But it still matters now, and we Magical Elves and our allies have a lot of work to do between today and the day that it no longer matters because everyone (or at least almost everyone) realizes that each and every one of us is a beautifully unique sparklepony.

*Slate.com’s William Saletan reports that Obama’s prepared remark was “Be the best husband to your wife or boyfriend to your partner or father to your children that you can be,” but, again, what Obama actually said was, “Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner.”

Saletan writes:

… But this time, the speech didn’t go according to script. Literally. Obama changed the “boyfriend” line from hetero boilerplate to explicitly gay-inclusive. He ad-libbed. And this was a heck of a time to do it. The speech was about what it means to be a man. The president of the United States, who until a year ago didn’t support same-sex marriage, has just put an official stamp of masculinity on male homosexuality. …

That’s certainly a possibility; it’s a valid interpretation, and it would be my interpretation, too, more or less, but, in my viewing of the clip of the remark, it appears to me as though Obama does stumble and/or hesitate a bit in getting the words out, with a nervous-and-unsure-of-himself-sounding inflection on the final word of that sentence, “partner,” and it’s not 100 percent clear to me whether he stumbles over these words because he’s messing them up or because he’s not sure how what he is saying — that it’s perfectly OK for a man to marry a man — is going to be received by his audience (Morehouse College, after all, is in Georgia, a state that isn’t exactly known as a gay-friendly state).

Indeed, sadly, if you also watch the clip, you will hear and see that after Obama asks his audience to “keep setting an example for what it means to be a man,” he has to pause for applause, but then, after he says next, “Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner,” very apparently his audience at first is silent in momentary confusion but then breaks out in some derisive laughter and mumbling and grumbling.

Indeed, in response to this very apparent derision over his remark that a man may marry a man, Obama puts his index finger up to his audience in apparent admonishment over their apparent homophobia.

As I said, we still have a way to go.

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Love Honor Cherish breaks its vow

Updated below (on Tuesday, February 14, 2012)

No wonder we struggle for same-sex-marriage rights: The organizations that are supposed to be looking out for our interests are in such fucking disarray.

On January 6, 2012, I received an e-mail from the California-based pro-same-sex-marriage organization Love Honor Cherish. The subject line of the fundraising e-mail was “Now it’s our time.”

“It’s our time. Please support our campaign to put repeal of Prop 8 on the ballot this November 6th,” reads a link in that e-mail that, when you click it, still takes you to Love Honor Cherish’s fundraising page on the left-leaning fundraising website ActBlue.com. The e-mail concludes:

“It is our time. Waiting to do the right thing when we can win this November is just wrong. It’s not fair to gay and lesbian couples and their children.

“Join us and forward this email to your friends and family. Let’s win back marriage equality at the ballot box on November 6th.”

The e-mail bears the electronic signature of Eric Harrison, Love Honor Cherish’s “interim executive director.”

I was thrilled. California’s pro-same-sex-marriage groups have been too pussy to try to get the issue of same-sex marriage back on the ballot after the passage of Proposition H8.

Based upon this e-mail, I agreed to give Love Honor Cherish $20 a month for four months via ActBlue.com.

But today, I received an e-mail from Love Honor Cherish, also under Eric Harrison’s electronic signature, with the subject line of “Cherish Truth.”

The e-mail announces, in part:

Following last week’s victory in the 9th Circuit, we are now hopeful that weddings of gay and lesbian couples will resume by the end of this year, or even, at the end of this month. And what an incredible day that will be when gays and lesbians are able to marry again in California!

In the meantime, our “backup plan” to put the repeal of Prop 8 on the ballot this November is no longer feasible. Although we have had success so far – our wonderful volunteers, significant donor commitments, our campaign office, and support from numerous leaders and organizations around the state – collecting the 807,615 valid signatures required will likely not happen by mid-April as required to qualify for the November 2012 ballot.

We would need more than $1.5 million in donor commitments to hire a paid signature gathering firm to assist us in this massive effort. In view of the 9th Circuit victory and the narrowness of the ruling, making Supreme Court review less likely, raising the additional funds needed is now not realistic. And, as we have stated, we had no illusions that the initiative could qualify based solely on our statewide volunteer signature gathering effort.

Bullshit.

Nothing in the January 6 fundraising e-mail said anything about the ballot effort being a “backup plan.” And there is no guarantee that as a result of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal’s recent ruling that Prop H8 is unconstitutional that same-sex marriages will resume in California any day soon.

The only sure way to overturn Prop H8 right now would be another ballot effort to amend California’s Constitution to allow same-sex marriage — and such a ballot effort, if successful, also would destroy the right-wing haters’ argument that the majority of the people (Californians, at least) don’t want to allow same-sex marriage. (Indeed, to my knowledge, every time that same-sex marriage has been put up to a vote in a state, it has failed. [Polls show that same-sex marriage would pass in California today, however.])  

I get it that getting anything on the statewide California ballot is a gargantuan effort. Indeed, to amend the state’s Constitution does take more than 800,000 qualifying signatures.

However, to put out a fundraising e-mail promising to go forward with the effort, and then, just one month and one week later to announce that the effort is not “feasible” or “realistic” — about two months before the signature-gathering deadline has arrived — is grossly irresponsible at best and fraudulent at worst.

Love Honor Cherish got $40 of my money — only because I believed Love Honor Cherish’s promise to go forward with the effort to put same-sex marriage back on the California ballot. (I stopped any future monthly donations today after I received the organization’s quitter in chief’s e-mail.)

How much money did Love Honor Cherish raise, I wonder, from people like me who were excited to see that the organization was going to fight for our equal human and civil rights?

Today I e-mailed Eric Harrison, in part, “when people trust you with their money and you then renege on your promise, it does not do your organization’s reputation any good.”

He replied, in part, “We did not renege on our promise, Robert. You only fight for what’s right if you’re guaranteed victory?”

WTF?

You stop the effort two months before the signature-gathering deadline? That is a good-faith effort?

Of course I knew that victory wasn’t guaranteed. Of course I knew that after the total of $80 that I would have donated, the effort might fall short of the signatures needed. I was willing to take that risk.

But why even fucking start the effort only to announce a month and a week later that it’s too much to be able to accomplish?

Eric Harrison should step down.

In the meantime, today I mailed a complaint against Love Honor Cherish to the California Attorney General’s Office. Again, I believe that the organization’s actions have been grossly irresponsible at best, but probably in violation of California state law as well.

It’s bad enough to be fucked over by the enemy. To be screwed over by your own, however, is intolerable.

Updated (Tuesday, February 14, 2012): To clarify the timeline on this issue, the California Secretary of State’s Office cleared Love Honor Cherish to start collecting petition signatures on December 15, 2011. The January 6, 2012, fundraising e-mail came out less than a month after that.

So, given that Love Honor Cherish could start collecting signatures on December 15 and then announced on February 13 that it couldn’t possibly be done, that means that Love Honor Cherish didn’t stick with the effort even for a full two months.

Also, despite Eric Harrison’s e-mail claim that the signature-collection deadline is in “mid-April,” according to the Secretary of State’s Office, the deadline for the signatures to be submitted actually is May 14, 2012.

So: Love Honor Cherish gave up on the effort a full three months before the deadline.

Again: Eric Harrison should step down. Now.

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9/11 is back — just in time for 11/2/10!

Mosque near ground zero becoming political football

AFP photo

“Intellectually the president may be right” on the freedom-of-religion issue regarding the establishment of a Muslim complex near the former site of the World Trade Center (which would replace the building on Park Place in Manhattan shown above), one Repugnican Tea Party strategist concedes, but adds: “But this is an emotional issue … and it’s going to be a big, big issue for Democrats across this country” for the upcoming mid-term elections. Because emotion always should trump the rights guaranteed to all by the U.S. Constitution.

President Barack Obama actually seems to have resisted, for once, the urge to sell out those of us of the “professional left.” On Friday he stated, correctly, that to block the opening of the planned Muslim center near the former World Trade Center would be a violation of the freedom of religion, guaranteed to all by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

This is the freedom that the “Christo”fascists want for themselves, like free speech — but, also like it is with free speech, they want freedom of religion only for themselves.

As I have noted before, I believe that Islam, Judaism and Christianity — at least as they are practiced by the bloodthirsty zealots who claim to follow these patriarchal, backasswards religions — all are bullshit religions, but if we’re going to let the members of one bullshit, psychopathic religion establish a place of worship, fairness (as well as the freedom of religion) dictates that we allow all of them to do so.

But Repugnican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, that bastion of equal human and civil rights, has declared that the establishment of the Muslim center near the former WTC site is not an issue of freedom of religion. Reuters reports:

“This is not about freedom of religion because we all respect the right of anyone to worship according to the dictates of their conscience … but I do think it’s unwise to build a mosque at the site where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as the result of a terrorist attack,” Texas Republican John Cornyn said on the “Fox News Sunday” program.*

Cornyn’s “logic” apparently is that “freedom of religion” is “the right of anyone to worship according to the dictates of their conscience” — but that the majority religion (in this case, what passes for Christianity) may dictate to a minority religion (in this case, Islam) where it may and may not establish centers of worship.

It seems to me that the establishment of places of worship is central to freedom of religion, but Cornyn tries to weasel out of this somehow.

Cornyn, because he cannot win on the matter of the Muslims’ constitutional right to establish a place of worship, then appeals to the tyranny of the majority, to the mob mentality: “To me it demonstrates that Washington, the White House, the administration, the president himself seems to be disconnected from the mainstream of America,” Cornyn said.

So Cornyn’s “argument” becomes that if the majority of Americans — the majority of whom call themselves “Christians” — don’t want Muslims to establish a place of worship at a certain site, then the Muslims should not be allowed to do so.**

The Muslims’ constitutional rights, therefore, in effect, are to be put up for a vote.

Just like my equal human and civil rights — my constitutional rights — were put up for a vote when the Mormon-cult-backed anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition H8 narrowly passed here in California in November 2008 (with 52 percent of the vote).

A federal judge earlier this month ruled that Prop H8 violates the rights guaranteed to California’s citizens by the U.S. Constitution — and he ruled that same-sex marriages must be allowed again in the state of California as of 5 p.m. this Wednesday.

The right wing’s insane response to this is to claim that the haters who voted for Prop H8 are the victims.

The Sacramento Bee actually published a guest editorial on the matter that actually began:

The true victims of prejudice in the decision of federal Judge Vaughn Walker to overturn Proposition 8 are the 7 million Californians who voted for the measure.

So I suppose that the slave owners were the true victims when the slaves were freed. Or, if that’s too far out there for you, we at least can argue that the “rights” of those who believed that mixed-race marriage is wrong were absolutely trampled upon by the tyrannical U.S. Supreme Court when the court ruled in 1967 that no state may outlaw mixed-race marriage.

The “argument” of the right wing here very apparently is that to be a hateful bigot who wishes to curtail the equal human and civil rights of others itself is an inviolable constitutional right.

Uh, I don’t see that right enumerated anywhere in the U.S. Constitution.

As insane as the members of the right wing want to be, calling themselves the victims when they are not allowed to victimize others, those of us Americans who are sane and who truly believe in freedom and liberty and in the U.S. Constitution cannot let stand this new wave of right-wing attacks against the constitutional rights of our fellows — be they brown-skinned immigrants (or brown-skinned citizens mistaken for immigrants), Muslims, or non-heterosexuals. Or even, for fuck’s sake, babies.

The checkered-at-best history of the United States of America demonstrates that during economic downturns, the majority of (or at least a huge chunk of) frustrated (mostly white) Americans, instead of going after the plutocrats and the corporatocrats who are the actual cause of their financial pain and suffering, go after relatively weak minority groups that have little to nothing to do with the nation’s economic downturn — but who, for the most part, can’t fight back.

This dysfunctional, insane dynamic will continue until enough of us real Americans stand up and stop it.

It’s time to stand up.

First they come for the non-heterosexuals who wish to marry, then for the brown-skinned immigrants who want to make a better life for themselves, then for the Muslims who want to establish a place of worship.

Then, they come for you.

*I also believe that it is unwise for the Muslim center to be established, but for a very different reason than do Cornyn, Sarah Palin-Quayle and their ilk. As I noted last month:

I agree with Palin-Quayle that the Muslim complex should not be opened, but for entirely different reasons.

Palin-Quayle wants to milk the whole 9/11 thing and appeal to her Muslim-hating, “Christo”fascist base, but I think that the Muslim complex is a bad idea because the safety of everyone who ever enters the building would be in jeopardy at all times.

I mean, think about it: a Muslim complex opens just two blocks away from where the WTC once stood, and all of the Cooters and Skeeters and Zekes of the backasswards parts of the nation are going to get ideas in their tea-baggin’ heads about gettin’ revenge on them Mooslems for 9/11. If the Muslim complex opens, I envision shootings and/or bombings and/or other violent attacks upon it.

However, as bad of an idea as I believe the Muslim center is (for safety reasons), I never would posit that the center should not be allowed to open merely because its existence would — gasp! — offend the tyrannical majority.

You believe in freedom or you don’t. I believe in freedom. The wingnuts do not — or rather, they want freedom only for themselves.

**Indeed, apparently a majority of Americans, blinded by their identification with their brand of “Christianity” and their ignorance of constitutional rights, oppose the establishment of the Muslim center. Notes Reuters:

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll showed a majority of Americans across the political spectrum opposed the project being built near the site of the attacks.

The survey, released on Wednesday, showed nearly 70 percent of Americans opposed it, including 54 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents.

Of course, we don’t know how many of those Democrats oppose the establishment of the Muslim center also for safety reasons, but it’s a pretty sure bet that the majority of the Repugnicans and the “independents” (I use the quotation marks because the majority of the “independents” and “swing voters” always lean to the right) are just Muslim-haters.

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