A good article about Obama’s Defense of Marriage Act Decision

Just so you know what’s up!

“The Obama administration announced it no longer will defend the constitutionality of a federal law that bans recognition of gay marriage. Here, in question-and-answer form, is a look at the Defense of Marriage Act and the impact of the administration’s policy reversal on this 15-year-old law.

Q. What is the Defense of Marriage Act?

A. Passed by a Republican-led Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in 1996, DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages and allows states to deny recognition of same-sex unions performed elsewhere.

Q. What changed in the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law?

A. Barack Obama promised to work for repeal of DOMA in his campaign for president, but his administration continued to defend and enforce it for the past two years. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that while the Justice Department would continue to enforce the law, it no longer would defend its constitutionality. Specifically, Holder said, the section of the law defining marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional, in the administration’s view. Importantly for judicial review, Holder says courts also should apply a heightened level of scrutiny that makes it more difficult for laws to be upheld.

Q. What are the practical effects of the act’s definition of marriage?

A. DOMA has been used by federal officials to justify excluding gay couples from a wide range of benefits that are available to heterosexual couples. These include federal health, Social Security, pension and tax benefits, even to gay couples who were legally married in the handful of states that recognize same-sex unions. The Government Accountability Office has estimated that there are more than 1,000 provisions of federal law “in which benefits, rights, and privileges are contingent on marital status or in which marital status is a factor.” Widows have been forced to pay estate taxes, where a survivor in a heterosexual marriage would have no tax bill from an inheritance. Federal employees may not enroll their same-sex spouse in federal health plans or take family and medical leave to care for their partner. Same-sex couples cannot file joint income tax returns or benefit from state retiree health insurance plans that are controlled by federal tax law. DOMA even has been used to prevent a gay couple from filing a joint petition for bankruptcy.

Q. But isn’t gay marriage legal in some parts of the United States?

A. Yes, same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia. Thirty states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Still other states recognize civil unions, but not gay marriage, between partners of the same sex. In addition, California’s constitutional amendment banning same sex-marriage, Proposition 8, has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court. The case is on appeal.

Q. So what changed with the administration’s new view of the matter?

A. DOMA remains in effect. But in federal courts, the significant legal firepower of the federal government has changed sides, which could influence judges’ consideration of anti-DOMA lawsuits.

Q. How have the legal challenges to DOMA fared?

A. The legal case against DOMA was difficult to make before states began recognizing gay marriage. But last year, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro in Massachusetts ruled DOMA unconstitutional in the face of challenges by same-sex couples as well as the state of Massachusetts. Two new federal lawsuits in Connecticut and New York raise many of the same issues.

Q. What has the Supreme Court said about DOMA?

A. Nothing, so far. The court has turned down appeals asking it to weigh in on the law. But those appeals were filed after lower courts upheld DOMA. The court often hears appeals when a federal law has been struck down. There is no timetable for when the next DOMA case might reach the Supreme Court.

Q. Are the DOMA and Prop 8 cases in California alike?

A. Yes and no. They both deal with the same basic issue: Does the government have a legitimate interest in preventing gay couples from getting married and enjoying the same benefits as other married couples? But the details differ and eventual Supreme Court review of one or the other would not necessarily produce identical results. The Prop 8 case probably would ask the court to decide whether gay marriage should be a right nationwide. In DOMA, the court could strike down a portion of the law without forcing states to recognize same-sex marriages. Of course, until appeals come forward and the court agrees to hear them, this is all speculation.”

This is from Watermark Online, a blog I follow. I did not write this. For the original post click here.

 

Obama Appoints Gay Man as Social Secretary

Jeremy Bernard, the new White House Social Secretary

President Obama has appointed Jeremy Bernard, the former special advisor to the US ambassador to France, as the new social secretary.

The position has generally been filled by females and involves planning White House events. The social secretary also assists the First Lady in her social endeavors.
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President Obama said: “Jeremy shares our vision for the White House as the People’s House, one that celebrates our history and culture in dynamic and inclusive ways. We look forward to Jeremy continuing to showcase America’s arts and culture to our nation and the world through the many events at the White House.”

In the words of Rupaul, “You betta work!”

Congratulations Jeremy.

Priest Fired From Catholic College for Being Gay

Father James St. George

Chestnut Hill College, outside of Philadelphia, has fired a priest/professor claiming that they would not employ an openly gay priest.

We all know why, because with all the gays in the Catholic priesthood the church still wants to claim they don’t exist. Maybe some parents will get scared that their 18 year old or older sons will not be able to fight off this gay monster? Is he going to lasso them with his rosary? *Makes the sign of the cross* I know I shouldn’t be so sacrilegious.

The priest, Father St. George, claims that he belongs to the Old Catholic Church of the Americas, a sect of Catholicism that began in the 1870’s and openly supports gay marriages.

The college claimed they knew nothing about this until the priest came out publicly with revealing he had a same-sex partner. Although, St. George says he would never have brought up his sexuality in class.

This is an interesting case being brought to court, deciding whether or not a religious school can engage in employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It makes me wonder if St. George was only a professor, or was he also employed in a priest capacity serving the college community?

Even if he were both, I don’t see how his sexuality would factor in unless he encouraged students to follow his example. Obviously, his lifestyle is contrary to Catholic doctrine, but how many other Catholic school system educators live lives contrary to the church’s doctrines and remain silent about it?

NJ Couple Wins $3.15Million After Burger King Beating

A jury in New Jersey has awarded  gay couple in Union City $3.15million after they were attacked following a Burger King altercation.

“Violence against anybody, including gay people, cannot be condoned. The jury spoke to this issue,” Nutley attorney James F. Fine says in reference to the compensatory and punitive  awards to Peter Casbar, 43, and Noel Robichaux, 46.

The two men got into an argument with a Burger King cashier, and were eventually chased out of the restaurant and beaten.

“The manager and a group of angry restaurant employees chased the couple and then mercilessly kicked, beat and spat upon the two men while screaming hate-filled anti-gay invectives,” Fine said in a statement.

The couple filed suit against the company under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, claiming they were victims of a hate crime. The court agreed with them and the two were awarded $1.7million each which must be paid  by Food Service Properties Corp. and Union City Restaurant Corp. which own seven Burger Kings, including the one at 3501 Bergenline Ave. in Union City.

I guess Burger King lied, you can’t have it “your way”.

 

First Transgender Pageant in Singapore

An online beauty pageant is being held in Singapore for transgender individuals. This is the first pageant of its kind on the small island.

The Tru Me pageant allows the community to celebrate transgender individuals expressing themselves openly. Feel free to browse the contest site, the girls’ blurbs are entertaining.

Personally, I like Jamie Lee. She doesn’t believe in ugly people, only ugly hearts, and her most memorable moment was returning a wallet she found in a restroom with $3000+ in it. Do I believe this story? Probably not, but it sounds nice.

“Hope you can recognise the effort rendered not to look like a lovelorn pirate on mascara.” -Jamie Lee-

I hope you can too! Start voting!  http://tru-me.sg/

Israel Appoints First Openly Gay Judge

Dori Spivak, an Israeli attorney and Association of Civil Rights Israel chairman, has been appointed a Tel Aviv Labor Court judge.

Spivak is the first openly gay judge in the country.

Dan Yikar, another attorney for the Association of Civil Rights Israel, congratulated Spivak: “As a personal friend and a partner in the civil rights struggle I can say this is an excellent choice. Dori is an expert on equality at work and health rights. He will contribute to developing human rights at the work place.”

This is a very good sign for Israeli LGBT rights, congratulations Dori. L’Chaim!

Facebook Includes New Relationship Options for Same-Sex Couples

Options like ‘in a civil union’ and ‘in a domestic partnership’ are now available as relationship statuses on Facebook.

Depending on the country you live in, and their stance on same-sex marriage, you will be given different options on how to define your relationship. In the United States your options reflect the state in which you reside, according to your profile.

I guess I can forgive all that Mark Zuckerberg did in The Social Network, he was so mean to that girl and to Eduardo…

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation(GLAAD), has worked with Facebook and applauds the additions saying:

“Today, Facebook sent a clear message in support of gay and lesbian couples to users across the globe,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios.

“By acknowledging the relationships of countless loving and committed same-sex couples in the US and abroad, Facebook has set a new standard of inclusion for social media.”

Of course there are the nay-sayers, who think that these options perpetuate the inequities of marriage rights between same-sex and heterosexual couples.  Wouldn’t it be worse if our new rights were ignored completely?

Quentin Equality Hill, a Facebook member commented on the options,  “I dislike this. It’s the same as anti-gay-marriage states. We are not good enough for the word marriage. Now Facebook is agreeing.”

Facebook isn’t the state legislature. I don’t think it’s fair that most states don’t provide equal marriage rights, but the website is reflecting current realities, not our wishlist. It is a step in the right direction.

 

 

 

Murderer of Two Lesbian Women Taken Off Death Row

Acrement, now taken off death row.

A man who murdered two lesbian women in 1995 has been given a reduction in his sentence after being diagnosed as delusional and incapable of assisting with his own appeal.

Robert James Acrement, who was originally sentenced to death, has now been given life in prison without any possibility of parole. Acrement was convicted of  the murder, kidnapping and robbery of Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill.

Acrement had targeted the woman after observing their work on a campaign in the 1990’s that eventually defeated a statewise measure aimed at limiting gay rights.

Acrement has claimed voices have been speaking to him inside his head through transmitters controlling him.

 

 

Arkansas Supreme Court Grants Visitation Rights to Lesbian Partner

The Supreme Court of Arkansas has upheld visitation rights of a woman whose lesbian partner gave birth to a child, despite the state’s prohibition on same sex marriage.

The court gave visitation to Emily Jones based on Jones’ role as primary caregiver to the child for it’s first three and a half years of life.  The court said that Jones was in a parental role.

The child’s mother, Alecia Bethany, had appealed the lower courts granting of visitation to Jones.

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