Posts Tagged ‘Gay Rights’

In response to LGBT outrage over the Obama administration’s fierce advocacy of DOMA, Barney Frank issued a statement yesterday defending the administration.

Now that I have read the brief, I believe that the administration made a conscientious and largely successful effort to avoid inappropriate rhetoric. …

It was my position in that conversation with the reporter that the administration had no choice but to defend the constitutionality of the law. I think it is unwise for liberals like myself, who were consistently critical of President Bush’s refusal to abide by the law in cases where he disagreed with it to now object when President Obama refuses to follow the Bush example. …

… after rereading this brief, I do not think that the Obama administration should be subject to harsh criticism in this instance.

If you had any doubt that Barney was a party hack first and a civil rights advocate second last, you might be disappointed. Barney is upset that his big fundraising gala, featuring an appearance by Joe Biden (who voted for DOMA) is under fire. Barney would like all the queers out there to sit down, shut up, and sign a few checks. Your civil rights can wait. Barney wants your money.

The Obama administration says it will take action on LGBT equality eventually, probably, they guess. They’re thinking some time before 2016 they might have some time for that. I’m thinking that any gay, bi, or trans citizen who gives the Democrats another nickel is a damned fool.

Barney doesn’t speak for our community. Barney speaks for his party. Barney’s party has made it clear that it doesn’t give a tinker’s dam about LGBT equality.

Note to Barney: Thanks, but no thanks. We’ll speak for ourselves.


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Harvey Fierstein – Where is our anger?

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Mildred and Richard LovingFifty years ago last month, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter got married in the District of Columbia. Richard and Mildred met and fell in love in Caroline County, Virginia, where their families had lived for generations, but in 1958 interracial marriages were illegal in Virginia. Mildred said later that she didn’t even know about the law, but she thought Richard did. They went to D.C., picked a preacher out of the phone book, got married, and came home to Caroline County.

But Virginia, then as now, saw no reason to honor the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution. Getting married outside the state didn’t mean you were married in Virginia. In fact, the law specifically prohibited Virginia residents who couldn’t marry within the state from traveling outside the state to marry. (The same kind of law is still in effect in some states, and could be applied against same-sex couples from those states if they went to California or Canada to get married.) In July, Mildred and Richard were awakened at 2 a.m. to the sight of the sheriff standing at the foot of their bed. Caroline County Sheriff R. Garnett Brooks and two deputies shone flashlights into the couple’s faces.

Judge Leon Bazile“Who’s this woman you’re sleeping with?” barked the sheriff.

“I’m his wife,” said Mildred.

That’s when Mildred found out it was illegal for an interracial couple to marry in Virginia, and that it was illegal for an interracial couple in Virginia to go elsewhere to get married, too. The servants of the law rousted the couple out of bed and arrested them. At the October session of the Caroline County Circuit Court, a grand jury indicted them for violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws. On 6 January 1959, the Lovings pled guilty to the charge, and Judge Leon Bazile sentenced them to a year in prison, to be suspended on the condition that they leave the state and never return together for twenty-five years. Judge Bazile, not unlike today’s marriage opponents, invoked the will of God in his decision:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The Lovings paid $72 in court costs (about $525 in 2008 dollars), packed their bags, and moved to the District of Columbia. Over the next few years, they made furtive visits to see their friends and relatives in Virginia, never traveling together. They didn’t like city life, and they wanted to go home for good. Neither one of them had ever lived anywhere but Caroline County before.

In 1963, Mildred Loving wrote to Attorney General Robert Kennedy to ask him a question. If the Civil Rights Act were passed, would she and Richard be able to go home? Kennedy referred the Lovings to the American Civil Liberties Union, and soon they had attorneys, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop. With their help, the Lovings would challenge Virginia law.

Bernard S. CohenCohen told the Lovings some of the legal approaches they could take in the case, but the Lovings were quiet people, uninterested in constitutional law. They weren’t out to change the world; they just wanted to go home. Richard Loving said, “Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.” Years later, Cohen recalled that when he told the Lovings their case would probably go to the Supreme Court, Richard’s jaw dropped.

On 8 November 1963, the Lovings filed suit in Virginia asking that their convictions be vacated on the grounds that Virginia’s marriage laws violated the Fourteenth Amendment. After nearly a year with no results, they filed a class action suit in the U.S. District Court on 28 October 1964, asking the Court to find Virginia’s marriage laws unconstitutional. On 22 January 1965, the state trial judge upheld the Lovings’ convictions, and they appealed to the state Supreme Court. The U.S. District Court continued the case to allow it to play out in Virginia.

The Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia reversed the Lovings’ convictions, but refused to recognize their marriage. The Court cited an earlier case that had said allowing interracial marriage would give rise to “a mongrel breed of citizens,” and “the obliteration of racial pride.” As Cohen had predicted, the Lovings were headed for the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in December 1966, and heard arguments on 10 April 1967. Cohen declared, “The Lovings have the right to go to sleep at night knowing that if should they not wake in the morning, their children would have the right to inherit from them. They have the right to be secure in knowing that, if they go to sleep and do not wake in the morning, that one of them, a survivor of them, has the right to Social Security benefits.”

If you’ve been following the arguments against same-sex marriage, you can probably guess what Virginia’s arguments were. They said that the framers of the Constitution and the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment clearly didn’t intend to legalize interracial marriage. They said that marriage laws were not for the courts to decide, but should be up to the state legislatures. They said that Virginia’s marriage laws didn’t deny equal protection under the law, because everybody was equally allowed to marry a member of his own race. If you care about equal marriage, you’ve heard those same arguments more recently.

One of the ways conservatives both black and white try to discredit our movement is to say that it’s not like the African-American civil rights movement. Equality for lesbians and gay men is whole different kind of thing. People who ought to know better say that African-Americans deserve equal rights, but lesbians and gay men don’t. The immortal Coretta Scott King gave the lie to that argument, saying that her late husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, supported equal rights for gay people. She reminded them, too, that the great civil rights hero Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the March on Washington, was gay.

Still people like the Kings’ daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, and her cousin Dr. Alveda King are not ashamed to belie themselves. They are not ashamed to use their famous name to fight for bigotry. Martin and Coretta King marched for equality; Bernice King marches for inequality. If there were a hell, it would gape for the likes of Bernice and Alveda King.

I want you to remember, even if some people prefer to forget, that the Commonwealth of Virginia used the same arguments against interracial marriage in 1967 that Christian zealots use against same-sex marriage today. This is the way it’s always been. The courts have no right to decide the issue. The laws as they stand don’t deny equal protection to anybody. Changing the law would be bad for children. Changing the law would be bad for society. It was bullshit then, and it’s bullshit now ― and now as then, everybody who isn’t blinded by bigotry and hatred knows it’s bullshit.

Chief Justice Earl WarrenBut back to the Lovings. On 12 June 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the laws of the sixteen states that still prohibited interracial marriage. The Court said, in an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Earl Warren:

These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

“I feel free now,” said Mildred Loving.

By that time, the Lovings had already moved back to Virginia. Today, the 12th of June is Loving Day, a celebration of the love between interracial couples, and the Lovings are heroes to millions. But the Lovings lived out the time left to them quietly. They lived seventeen years as man and wife, less than half of it in a marriage recognized by their home state. On 29 June 1975, a drunk driver hit their car, and Richard was killed. Mildred lost an eye, and her health was never the same, but she lived on for nearly thirty-three years as Richard’s widow. She never remarried. She died of pneumonia on 2 May 2008.

Mildred Loving never understood why she was a hero. The year before she died, she said, “It wasn’t my doing. It was God’s work.” She didn’t like to talk about herself; didn’t like to give interviews. When the preacher at her church compared her to Rosa Parks, she demurred.

“I don’t feel like that,” she said. “Not at all. What happened, we really didn’t intend for it to happen. What we wanted, we wanted to come home.”

Someday, America will do the right thing by its lesbian and gay citizens. Our fight may be tougher and longer than the Lovings’ fight, but we will win it. The preachers will fight us harder than they fought the Lovings, but we will win. The people who think they know the will of God, and think the law is a tool to force their religious superstitions on others, will fight us tooth and nail, but we will win. If we ever go to the Supreme Court, you can bet we won’t win a unanimous decision. We might not win at all the first time, but we will win eventually. There’s a black man living in Virginia today with his white wife, a man who sits on the Supreme Court, who’s likely to vote against us. But we will win.

The Christian bigots who fight against us know their day is nearly over; that’s why they’re so concerned to fight against us now, while they still can. They’re fighting for hate, though, and we’re fighting for love. I still believe that love is stronger than hate. Those who spread hate in the name of Jesus might win in California this November. They might even get the constitutional amendment they want. I don’t know if America is ready to do the right thing yet. Time will tell. But whatever they do today can be undone by the same process tomorrow. However long it takes, someday we’ll all feel free. Someday we can all go home.

For now, I’ll leave you with the words of Mildred Loving. On the fortieth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, that quiet woman issued a statement:

Loving for All

By Mildred Loving

Prepared for Delivery on June 12, 2007,
The 40th Anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia Announcement

When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married.

We didn’t get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there. We did it there because the government wouldn’t allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and build our family. You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who should marry whom.

When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is?

Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the “crime” of marrying the wrong kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed.

The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.

We left, and got a lawyer. Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a cause. We were fighting for our love.

Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn’t have to fight alone. Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men,” a “basic civil right.”

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Read more:

Bernard S. Cohen and Evan Wolfson have a blog.

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Heroic Bulgarians deliver message of tolerance
despite right-wing hatred and violence.

Aksinia GenchevaViolence erupted in Sofia at the first Bulgarian pride march on Saturday, leading to the arrest of 88 people, including Boyan Rasate, leader of the Bulgarian National Union.

Bulgarian gay rights organization Gemini organized the event, which drew between 150 and 200 participants and about 1000 observers, including protesters, journalists, and police. Gemini’s Executive Director, Aksinia Gencheva, noted that the first gay pride march in Ireland drew only five participants. Gencheva said Gemini had received letters of support from the British Embassy, the Council of Europe, the Party of European Socialists, and many other organizations and gay rights supporters.

Patriarch MaksimThe parade was opposed by the leader of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Maksim, 93. Maksim, who has been a bishop since 1956, was named Patriarch in 1971 and successfully fought back from a challenge to his authority in the 1990s resulting from accusations that he had been uncanonically appointed Patriarch by the Communist Politburo. The Patriach wrote an open letter to the Mayor of Sofia urging him not to “participate in the fruits of darkness, but counter them,” and demanding that he stop “this shameful and undignified march.” Metropolitan Neofit of Rousse also issued a statement opposing the parade and calling homosexuality a sin.

The Chief Mufti of Bulgaria, Mustafa Alish Hadji, weighed in, too, calling homosexuality “a disease” that “desecrates Bulgarian society and threatens its future” and denouncing gay attempts “impertinently to change the public opinion, and the moral, religious, and traditional values of the Bulgarian society through public happenings like gay parades.”

Boyan RasateBoyan Rasate’s group, the Bulgarian National Union, had proclaimed a “Week of Intolerance” preceding the parade, and had hosted a forum on “How to fight and minimize the damage from homosexuality and pedophilia in Bulgaria.” The group also conducted a campaign against the parade, spreading posters all over Bulgaria saying “Be Intolerant, Be Normal.”

The Bulgarian National Union was formerly affiliated with the right-wing Bulgarian National Attack movement, but split from that group after a power struggle between Rasate and Attack’s leader, Volen Siderov, in late 2005 and early 2006. Both the National Union and Attack are nationalist groups, saying Bulgarian identity is threatened by minorities, including Roma (Gypsies), Turks, Jews, and homosexuals. After the arrests, Attack declined to support Rasate directly, but issued a statement that the police exceeded their authority and claimed that over a hundred protesters were detained and beaten by police.

The city refused to prevent the pride march, but the route of the parade was changed twice, and police put strict security measures in place. Police arrested two minors for throwing a Molotov cocktail with the slogan “Death to Gays” at the beginning of the parade. Violence broke out when protesters armed with brass knuckles, clubs and fireworks tried to rush the marchers; the Ministry of the Interior said 88 people were arrested in all.

Bulgarian Pride, 2008

Gemini had declared a policy of non-violence at the parade, urging participants not to respond to any provocation or attack. Marchers carried a banner with the parade’s motto, Me and my family. Some carried a banner saying, “Be careful who you hate ― it may be someone you love!” In spite of the violence, marchers continued on the Red House for a rally after the parade. Some marchers remained at the Red House for up to 18 hours after the rally, fearful for their safety if they left.

Boyan Rasate has been one of the country’s most vocal critics of homosexuality. Interviewed at the parade before his arrest, Rasate said, “I don’t approve of this parade and we will do anything to prevent it.”

“What do you mean by ‘anything’?” asked the reporter.

“I mean anything,” Rasate replied.

After one of his supporters threw a smoke bomb at a policeman, Rasate was wrestled to the ground by a group of policemen and dragged into the back of a police van, shouting, “Don’t hit me, you scumbag! Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me!” According to some reports, his little daughter, whom he had brought with him to the parade, was left alone and helpless after his arrest. Police held Rasate for 24 hours before he was released on 500 leva bail. (500 leva = US$403.50 = €255.67.)

“Bulgaria is in the EU now,” said one participant. “People have to accept us like normal human beings. We are not criminals.” Some participants suggested they should have a parade every month or even every week to get the message of tolerance across.

Boyan Rasate at the parade (with English subtitles):

Read more:

BGO Gemini (Bulgarian gay organization)

BGO Gemini history – 1992-2006 (Video)

BGO Gemini’s MySpace

Rightist Extremists Call for Anti-Gay Measures in Bulgaria (Novinite, 22 June 2008.)

Bulgarian ‘Week of Intolerance’ Targets Gays (BalkanInsight, 23 June 2008.)

First Sofia Pride needs adequate protection (Amnesty International, 27 June 2008.)

Bulgaria Head Mufti’s Office Protests Against Gay Parade (Novinite, 27 June 2008.)

88 held during gay parade in Sofia today (FOCUS Information Agency)

About 60 arrested at Bulgaria’s first gay parade (Reuters, 28 June 2008.)

60 people arrested for disrupting Bulgaria’s gay pride march (AFP)

Leader of Attacks against Sofia’s Gay Parade Freed on Bail (Novinite, 29 June 2008.)

Гей парадът започна с арести (Gay parade began with arrests) (News.bg) (Photos)

„Атака”: Полицията превиши правата си на гей парада (“Attack”: police exceeded their rights at gay parade) (News.bg)

Website of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Патриарх Максим писа на кмета Борисов да спре гей парада (Patriarch Maksim wrote the mayor to stop gay parade) (Dnevnik)

Митрополит Неофит: Гей парадът е грях (Metropolitan Neofit: Gay parade is a sin) (Pravoslavie.bg)

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Wide Stance Larry and Canal Street Dave speak out for Republican family values.

Hoping to bring the ignorant and intolerant out to the polls in November, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi has introduced Joint Resolution 43, proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Most of the co-sponsors are usual suspects ― Wayne Allard, Sam Brownback, Michael Enzi, James Inhofe, Pat Robers, Richard Shelby, and John Thune ― but two of the co-sponsors really stand out.

Wide Stance Larry CraigSenator Larry Craig of Idaho, best known for soliciting a sexual encounter with an undercover cop in a Minneapolis airport restroom, stands forth to defend the institution of marriage against those nasty homosexuals. Because, after all, he’s an traditional kind of guy who believes that gay sex belongs in a public restroom, not in the home. Wide Stance’s values are so traditional that he nearly had a seizure over the Monica Lewinsky scandal: “The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy – a naughty boy. I’m going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.” Nasty and bad, indeed. You can bet Wide Stance never cheated on his wife Suzanne ― not with another woman, anyway.

Canal Street Dave VitterAnother defender of traditional values is Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, famous mostly for being a client of the late D.C. Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, as well as the Canal Street Madam, Jeannette Maier. Canal Street Dave has bravely stepped forward to oppose same-sex marriage because, you know, letting queers get married would threaten his traditional marriage much more than his long-term business relationship with prostitute Wendy Cortez ― a relationship for which, Vitter assures us, God has forgiven him. So who are you to criticize?


See also:

S.J.Res.43 (THOMAS)

The Federal Marriage Amendment is back — with Vitter’s and Craig’s support (The Carpetbagger Report)

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Arizona flagSupporters of equality had hoped to keep the measure off the ballot, but on Friday the Arizona Senate rushed through the passage of SCR 1042, meaning Arizona voters will vote on a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage. The resolution had failed to get enough votes on Wednesday, but was put to another vote Friday thanks to the maneuvers of Republican Senator Jack Harper, who halted debate on other bills to allow a vote on SCR-1042. This time, it passed by a vote of 16 to 4, garnering exactly the minimum number of votes required to place it on the ballot.

Senator John McCain has supported the anti-gay amendment, but we can still hope the people of Arizona will do the right thing again, as they did in 2006 when they rejected a similar constitutional amendment.

Here’s the breakdown of Friday’s vote:

The Good (Voted No):
*Paula Aboud (Democrat)
*Meg Burton Cahill (Democrat)
*Ken Cheuvront (Democrat)
*Jorge Luis Garcia (Democrat)

The Bad (Voted Yes):
Sylvia Allen (Republican)
Timothy S. Bee (Republican)
Robert Blendu (Republican)
Robert Burns (Republican)
Pamela Gorman (Republican)
Ron Gould (Republican)
Chuck Gray (Republican)
*Linda Gray (Republican)
Jack Harper (Republican)
John Huppenthal (Republican)
Karen Johnson (Republican)
Barbara Leff (Republican)
Tom O’Halleran (Republican)
Jay Tibshraeny (Republican)
Thayer Verschoor (Republican)
Jim Waring (Republican)

The Ugly (Not Voting):
*Amanda Aguirre (Democrat)
*Carolyn S. Allen (Republican)
*Marsha Arzberger (Democrat)
*Albert Hale (Democrat)
Leah Landrum Taylor (Democrat)
*Debbie McCune Davis (Democrat)
Richard Miranda (Democrat)
*Charlene Pesquiera (Democrat)
Rebecca Rios (Democrat)
Victor Soltero (Democrat)

*Voted No on Wednesday.

Contact information for Arizona Senators can be found here: Member Roster.

The President of the Senate, Tim Bee, is running for the U.S. House of Representatives against incumbent Representative Gabrielle Giffords. I’m sure Rep. Giffords would appreciate it if you’d check out her website, and leave a contribution if you’re so inclined. Just click on the image below:

Giffords for Congress

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Legislature puts gay marriage proposal on ballot (Arizona Central)

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A gay pride march planned in Havana yesterday was broken up by police just minutes before it was to have started. Cuba has seen progress toward a freer society since Raul Castro succeeded his brother Fidel as President, but the authorities weren’t quite ready for that. Reports say that two of the organizers have been detained, and Queerty reports that “[s]ome are also saying that police beat organizers.”

Mariela Castro EspinMariela Castro Espín, the President’s daughter and the head of the National Center for Sex Education, has long been an outspoken proponent of gay rights, and held a rally against homophobia last month. However, the pride march scheduled for yesterday had not been officially sanctioned.

Predictably, the Catholic Archdiocese of Havana had objected to the planned march and the government’s growing support for LGBT rights.

The AP reports that the Cuban parliament is studying proposals to give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples.

For more information, see:

  • Cuba plans its first gay pride parade. (The Guardian)
  • Cuban church protests support for gay rights (Associated Press)
  • Cuba’s 1st gay pride parade is scrapped (Chicago Tribune)

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