Tag Archives: equality

Supreme Court rules that existing federal law prohibits LGBTQ discrimination in workplace

This is a recreation of one the the two flags Gilbert Baker orignally created from Pride.
This is a recreation of one the the two flags Gilbert Baker orignally created from Pride.
I must admit, I did not expect there to be good news for queer people from the Supreme Court this year. The best I hoped for is that things wouldn’t get substantially worse. So when I saw the first headline this morning, I didn’t believe it: The US Supreme Court Just Ruled In Favor Of Protecting LGBTQ Workers
. I figured this had to be a joke. No way would this court, with two Trump-appointed arch conservatives on it, rule in favor of queer people! Right?

Yet, it did. And one of Trump’s appointees wrote the opinion!

It’s a 6-3 ruling, which is also unexpected. I want to pause here to point out that one of the rationalizations many Republican politicians have been giving for supporting Trump was that he had promised to appoint conservative judges that would start taking rights away from all us queer people. And one of those justices and just voted the other way. What was it a particular angel said? Oh, yes: “Evil always contains the seeds of its own destruction.”

One thing that is important to note about this decision is that it is about interpretation of legislation. This ruling does not assert that this is about a constitutional principal. So, if Congress passed a law amending the Civil Rights act of 1964 to change the verbiage of this section of the act (and whoever is President at the time of such passage signs it into law), this could all go away.

Clearly the Democrats currently controlling the House of Representatives aren’t going to vote for such a change, so there isn’t an immediate danger. But it is worth remembering this.

“Gay people exist. There is nothing we can do with public policy that makes more of us exist or less of us exist. You guys have been arguing for a generation that public policy ought to essentially demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist, but you don't make any less of us exist. You just are arguing in favor of discrimination. Politics with Jared and Dave”
Gay people exist…
On the other hand, this case would appear to invalidate the reasoning the Trump administration used for writing the anti-trans rule that was announced on Friday. The policy that health care providers can discriminate against transgender people relies on the argument that when the Affordable Care Act says providers can not discriminate against an individual based on sex, that the term “sex” does not include gender identity. But today’s ruling says the opposite: it lays out that discrimination on the basis of sex does include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The reasoning is summed up in this sentence from the majority opinion: “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.”

Now, this doesn’t settle everything, and I’m sure there are going to be multiple legal challenges involving this, but I think we should all take a moment to savor a win.

Today’s announcements from the Supreme Court had two more pieces of bad news for Trump and his alt-right cronies:

California’s ‘sanctuary’ cities rules stay in place after Supreme Court rejects Trump’s challenge.

Gun-Rights Appeals Turned Away by U.S. Supreme Court. There were ten different cases pending before the court where the court could have significantly expanded the definition of the right to bear arms and therefore invalidate some state restrictions. The court turned all of those away, leaving those restrictions in place for now (and signaling that if other states enacted the same restrictions, they would likely be left intact, as well).

Oppression Olympics, part 2: What’s so radical about being yourself?

“There's nothing wrong with you. There's a lot wrong with the world you are in.” —Chris Coffer
(Click to embiggen)
For longer than I’ve been alive one of the lines of dispute within what we would now call the LGBT+ Equal Rights movement can be characterized as the Gay Assimilationists vs the Radical Queers. Gay Assimilationists tend to define equality as the integration of non-heterosexual people within existing cultural norms and institutions, while Radical Queers tend to define equality as changing cultural norms and institutions so that all sexual orientations, genders, and presentations of such are welcomed and supported. The Radical Queers reject integration because they see it as embracing and approving of the toxic values that created sexual and gender-based oppression to begin with.

This divide, or course, exists on a spectrum. The beliefs of most people within the community fall somewhere between the extremes, but, enough are on one side or other of the middle that arguments happen. For instance, I’ve been accused of being an assimilationist because Michael and I got legally married once we were able to do so, and I watch football. I’ve also been called out in the other direction because I wear earrings, the color purple, rainbows, and call myself ‘queer.’

The tension between these two ideas plays out in many (and sometimes weird) ways—and not just within the community. There are still plenty of people (straight and not), who insist that LGBT+ rights advocates should be civil, and politely make their case about why we deserve equality. They wrongly insist that the radical approach never works. They completely ignore the actual history of the movements: decades of work by so-called homophile organizations in the U.S. and Europe politely advocating for decriminalization—always careful for the men to dress in suits and ties, and the women to were skirts and blouses—and never making any progress. It was the riots by drag queens, transgender people of color, and the like that finally made any change happen at all.

Yes, the other approach works well for raising money and countering backlash to each step forward. So both approaches have their place in the long running battle for equality.

Which isn’t to say that only the non-conforming people matter, or that there is some sort of meaning to the question of whether one person is gayer than another (despite some people trying to drag that distinction into some political races this year), it’s mostly a recognition of the old proverb that the “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Both kinds of LGBT/queer person are valid and just as “gay” as the other.

In the last few years as a small number of mostly-gender-conforming male professional athletes have decided to come out of the closet, you see various media people calling them trailblazers whose bravery will somehow make it easier for non-heterosexual kids to be themselves. Ignoring that fact that the actual trailblazers were blazing those trails for many years. It’s not the macho professional male athlete coming out in the twenty-teens who is leading the way, they are trailing far, far in the dust behind the femmy boys and glittery street queens and butch dykes and trans people of all types who led the way at Stonewall and in the years immediately following. And as has been demonstrated many times, no matter how unthreatening, conventional, and mainstream non-heterosexual people are, as soon as they dare to come out of the closet someone is ready with the slurs and attacks.

The two philosophies I mentioned at the beginning (Assimilationist/Radical) roughly map to two distinctive kinds of experiences many queer people lived through growing up:

  • Some of us never fit in. We were bullied by classmates (as well as adults) for the way we talked, or the way we walked, or the things we expressed interest in.
  • Others blended in so well that when they eventually did come out, people who knew them when they were younger express genuine and emphatic shock.

Make no mistake: neither kind of kid had it easy. The ones who did blend in realized, at some point, that they were different, and they lived in just as much fear as those of us who couldn’t figure out why we were constantly being called all those homophobic slurs. Both kinds internalized homophobia leading to feelings of self-loathing.

Those of us who couldn’t blend in are somewhat more likely to focus on trying to make society more accepting of all differences, while those who did blend in seem to be more likely to think our goal should be to convince straight people that we are no different from them.

But it isn’t an exact correlation.

I’m saying all of this for context. Now, let’s move on to my point: any time in the last few months that I have criticized the policies and statements of presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg I get accused of saying he isn’t gay enough. As if that phrase even means anything. That’s not what’s happening. My beef with Buttigieg is very few of his statements about policies would sound amiss coming out of the mouth of 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush. Most wouldn’t sound amiss coming out of the mouth of 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

Mayor Pete is not a progressive politician. He doesn’t advocate positions that I believe will move us forward. At best, his detailed policies look to undo most of the harm Trump has done, and otherwise only promise to not to let things get much worse.

We can do better than that.

Now, I have some theories about why he doesn’t see how harmful late stage capitalism is to most working class and middle class people of every gender, orientation, and race. And I have some theories on why many of his responses as mayor to issues related to marginalized communities were tone deaf or outright dismissive. The quickest summation is: he is unaware of how the privileges he has had (being a man in our society, being white, having university-educated parents, being from a family well-to-do enough to send him to private school, and then to Harvard, and yes, being the kind of gay who can pass for straight when he wants) has protected him from the problems those less fortunate have had to deal with.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t think he’s gay enough. That does means I don’t think he is either self-aware enough nor empathetic enough to be a good president.

Misleading notions my teachers taught, Part 2: Protestors were small, unconnected groups

People always mis-remember the famous flower in the gun barrel photo as being a young woman. It wasn’t. The photo, taken by Bernie Boston, is of George Edgerly Harris III better known by his stage name Hibiscus. He was a member of the San Francisco based radical gay liberation theater troupe the Cockettes. He died of AIDS in 1982 (when the disease was called GRID for Gay Related Immuno-Deficiency). The photo was taken on October 21, 1967 at a protest at the Pentagon.
People always mis-remember the famous flower in the gun barrel photo as being a young woman. It wasn’t. The photo, taken by Bernie Boston, is of George Edgerly Harris III better known by his stage name Hibiscus. He was a member of the San Francisco based radical gay liberation theater troupe the Cockettes. He died of AIDS in 1982 (when the disease was called GRID for Gay Related Immuno-Deficiency). The photo was taken on October 21, 1967 at a protest at the Pentagon.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, often cited as the beginning of the Modern Gay Civil Rights movement in America. It’s a little weird to realize that events which happened within my lifetime are looked on as distant history by a significant number of adults. To be sure, I was only 8 years old with the Stonewall Riots happened—it was the summer between first and second grade for me—and I didn’t hear anything about them at the time. What I do remember being in the national news was mostly the Black Civil Rights movement and the Anti-War Protests.

That was also a summer that I spent with my Grandparents, which meant that most nights I watched the news with my Grandpa, and during the day I listened to the radio, hearing hourly news updates of about 3 minutes duration, and then listening to Paul Harvey at noon. And the impression I had then and over the next couple of years was that there were a very small number of black people who were unhappy about… things. And any equally small number of completely unrelated people were protesting the war in Vietnam because war is bad.

My teachers mostly didn’t talk about any of this stuff until a few years later, and again the attitude was less than sympathetic to either movement. They didn’t go so far as to call the war protesters cowards, like my dad did, or the much worse words he used for the black people, but the overall impression was that people were upset about something that wasn’t a real problem. And, again, it was emphasized that it was a few isolated groups of troublemakers behind it all. Similarly with the Women’s Rights movement and the Native American Rights movements. Each of those things were treated as distinct, unconnected things.

And it only got worse in middle school and high school. By the time I was in high school the U.S. had pulled out of Vietnam and the consensus seemed to be that the whole war had been a mistake, but the people who protested it were still described by many of my teachers as a fringe group that hadn’t really been proven right, but more that their knee-jerk peacenik attitude just happened to coincidentally align with reality. Or something. The woman who taught my high school history class was quite in favor of women’s rights, and had a lot to say about how poorly Native Americans were treated by our society, but seemed to think that the Voting Rights Act of 1964 had taken care of any inequalities facing all other racial minorities.

By high school the Gay Rights movement was at least acknowledge, but none of my teachers (even the ones that many of the students thought might be gay) referred to at as anything but a small fringe group of mentally ill people (almost all of whom lived in California) who wanted their sickness treated a something deserving of special rights. And I do mean all of the teachers. The state-approved text book for my high school health class had an entire chapter on sexual deviancy, and it not only defined all kinds of kinkiness and homosexuality as mental illness, it explicitly referred to it as a single mental illness, in which straight kinkiness would always lead to bisexual and then homosexual behavior which would always progress to bestiality, pedophilia, and necrophilia. Yes, I’m absolutely serious. On the test we had to list all of the stages in the “correct order.” Note that this was in the late 1970s in a state that has been reliably blue for many decades.

But the one thing that all of them still agreed upon was that each of those movements advocating for a better society was a unique, distinct, and totally separate group. Even when I got into college and had not one but two stereotypical uber-liberal history teachers (one always wore turtlenecks, like the other alternated between turtlenecks and ponchos brought back from his summer sojourns into Central America) treated each of those movements as totally autonomous things. They portrayed the Civil Rights movement as solely the work of some African Americans. They portrayed the Native America Rights movement as soley the work of some Native Americans. They portrayed the Women’s Rights movement was solely the work of some women (usually white women). And they portrayed the Gay Rights movement as solely the work of a small group of (white) gay men and lesbians.

The truth was, that the people who stood up to the police and started fighting back at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago were trans people of color. There were a lot of lesbians of various races in the crowd and some gay men. But most of the white faces in that crowd that night were street kids—the homeless teens kicked out by the families who found their way the New York City and did what they had to do to survive.

And the bigger truth was that all of those civil rights movements and the anti-war movement had a lot in common. There were people who participated in all the fights. George Edgerly Harris III, the young man how put flowers in the gun barrels was a queer man who was part of a radical gay theatre troupe. He went by the name Hibiscus, and became famous for wearing the outrageous drag while keeping a full beard—a look that would later be labeled genderqueer or genderfuck. And in 1967 he joined a protest march on the Pentagon. He was active in the anti-war movement and the Gay Rights movements, obviously, and at different times in life worked with or supported the efforts of the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movement.

Bernie Boston, the photographer who took the “Flower Power” picture, was a photojournalist who covered all of those events, at least one time famously getting into a conflict with some KKK members. And by frequently arguing vehemently with cops or MPs or National Guardsmen when they tried to interfere with the coverage. He was multiracial, of African American, Native American, and Irish American descent, and strangers usually assumed he was black. As a journalist, he was trying to cover the events, not be part of them, but sometimes that line blurred.

Just as Martin Luther King, Jr’s trusted righthand man, Bayard Rustin, was an openly gay man long before Stonewall while he was helping organize things like King’s March on Washington, the New York Bus Boycott, and other events. A lifelong pacifist, of course he supported and worked with the anti-war movement. He argued for making political alliances with other marginalized groups, and was active in the Gay Rights movement, various anti-semitic groups, pro-labor groups, and women’s rights groups.

These are just a few examples. But the thing is that all those fights had both goals and people in common. They were (and continue to be) fighting the forces of oppression in our society. We should all be working together. We should not let people divide us and act as if they are separate fights.

Because nobody is free until everyone is.

Bernie Boston, the photographer who captured the moment, a black/native man who in another incident willingly stood up to a chapter of the KKK.
Bernie Boston, the photographer who captured the moment, a black/native man who in another incident willingly stood up to a chapter of the KKK.

Don’t try to obscure hate and violence with your false equivalence

“We can disagree and love each other and less that disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
“We can disagree and love each other and less that disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” (click to embiggen)
Since I wrote about the Nazi getting punched yesterday, I thought I was through, but a lot of people have been sharing a tweet that says, “I want to live in a world where people wearing Nazi symbols and people wearing rainbows can do so without being attacked.” And oh, I have so many responses to this. The first is that this is the mother of all false equivalents. When queer people and their allies where rainbows, they are saying “everyone deserves to live free of unfair discrimination no matter their sexual orientation and gender identity.” That is it. When a person wears a swastika, they are saying, “I think people like me should be able to live a life of privilege and that everyone who is a different race or religion should go away and/or die.”

That is not histrionics. When they talk about “saving the white race” and so-called “self deportation” and the like, they are saying “go away and die!” When they say that queer people are a threat to the future of the planet, they are saying we deserve to be killed. When they say that brown and black people are destroying “white culture” they are saying brown and black people deserve to be killed. When Richard Spencer said, literally moments before he was punched in the face on camera last summer, “we have to ask ourselves whether humanity needs the black man, and having confronted that question, then ask how to most efficiently dispose of them” he is saying that black people aren’t human and that they must be killed.

And if you don’t believe that saying that deserves a punch in the mouth, then I question more than just your morals.

In the case of the angry man who was punched in downtown Seattle this weekend: he wasn’t punched just for wearing the swastika. He was punched for yelling at every dark-skinned person he passed on the street, specifically calling them an ape. He was explicitly saying that they aren’t human. He brought a frickin’ banana with him that he eventually threw at someone after screaming that that person was an ape—underlining and emphasizing the claim that the person thus targeted isn’t human (and implying that said people don’t deserve rights, dignity, respect at the least, and that killing would not be murder). That wasn’t just expressing an opinion, that his verbal assault and a declaration of intent. And under the law, throwing the banana is physical assault.

Wearing a rainbow and chanting “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” is none of those things.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can say mean, hateful, threatening things to other people and that those other people have no rights to speak up and defend themselves. Calling other humans animals, and saying or implying those humans should he rounded up and executed is not merely stating an opinion, it is revealing their hateful and murderous character. So if other people don’t want to be friends with a hateful person advocating genocide, that’s just making the decision not to associate with horrible people.

“Your sexuality is valid.”
“Your sexuality is valid.” (click to embiggen)
When we wear rainbows, we’re saying “my sexuality is valid, and your sexuality is valid, and bi, gay, pansexual, transexual, asexual, and straight people are all equally valid and have a right to be who they are.” Yes, we’re saying the straight people are valid, too. We aren’t calling for straight people to self-deport. We aren’t calling for straight people to be killed. We aren’t calling for straight people to be converted. Rightwing anti-gay people do call for queer people to be fired from their jobs, denied the right to rent or own homes, denied the right to put their spouses and children on their medical insurance, denied the right to marry their significant others, denied the right to adopt, denied the right to protection from assault and harassment, denied health care, and so forth. They advocate rounding us up and putting us in prison, or camps, or so-called hospitals (depending on how blatant they are in their bigotry). They advocate the widely debunked conversion therapy. They advocate bullying queer kids in school (when you insist that religiously conservative kids can’t be punished for bullying queer kids or the children of queer parents, you are advocating bullying).

When the anti-gay people (including the neo-Nazis) do that, it isn’t a difference of opinion, it is oppression and assault.

When queer people say we don’t want to be bullied, we shouldn’t be discriminated against, we deserve to have our families and jobs and homes just like anyone else, we aren’t calling for the oppression of anyone else. Because not being allowed to discriminate isn’t oppression. Not being allowed to bully, terrorize, or assault queer people isn’t oppression.

Sexuality isn’t an opinion or a choice. Sexual identity isn’t an opinion or a choice. Sorry, the medical science has been clear on that for a long time.

Hate, however, is a choice. Violence against others because of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, and so forth is a choice.

All races are valid. All sexualities are valid.

Not all choices are valid.

There are only a couple reasons that you can’t see that distinction. There are only a few reasons you would defend the hate by attacking its opposite. Either you aren’t very bright, you’re deeply misinformed, or you are blinded by hatred.

Please, step out of the darkness and join us in a more glittery, sunny world of the rainbow.

Is it worth the outrage? – part three

tumblr_mzq7ewA3w91qk4s2co1_1280A couple of years ago I set myself a personal goal to “Reduce the Outrage.” I modified it and combined it with another last year, and carried it over again this year1. I’ve been sick off-and-on2 for about nine weeks, which means I’m cranky and prone to overreact a lot of the time. In one of the social/cultural spheres I inhabit, certain events are underway which increases the number of things being said about topics in which I have a lot of personal investment. Add to that the histrionics of the U.S. presidential campaign season, and it is really easy for me to find myself in an outraged state.

I’ve written before about letting oneself become outraged in unproductive ways, becoming resentful rather than doing something constructive, for instance. And I’ve quoted before the old proverb, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die.”

The whole reason I set those goals about reducing outrage is because unproductive outrage is toxic and self-destruction and does no good to anyone.

But anger is a symptom of pain, and it is just as self-destructive to ignore pain. Finding something to do to alleviate the harm isn’t always easy. Root causes of many problems are beyond our control. I’m a writer; language is my primary toolset for tackling many problems. Unfortunately, analysis is something of an obsession with me, so I will over-analyze things and easily fall into a toxic spiral of writing, revising, ranting, revising, trying to be reasonable, revising some more—feeling increasingly frustrated and more outraged at every step.

I’ve been stuck in one such spiral for about two weeks.

Then, through a series of fortuitous clicks (reading one article, clicking a link in it, reading the referenced blog post, clicking a link in it, et cetera), I came across this post from Steve Saus4 from last May that said one of the things I’ve been thinking about so much perfectly: And you shall know them by their works. It says it so well, and more importantly, so succinctly, that I’m just going to quote the whole thing here:

There are two sides in our current culture wars.

But don’t decide which side is which by their names.

You will know them by their actions.

One side works so that everyone should have an opportunity to do something – get married, be nominated for an award, pee in whatever bathroom, be on television.

The other side already can – and has – done all those things. That side works so that only their group can get married, be nominated for an award, pee in a bathroom, or be on television.

Forget the labels for a second.

Are you working to give more people the same chances and opportunities… or to deny chances and opportunities to someone else?

It all comes down to that. Are you working to give people opportunities, or are you trying to keep opportunity out of their hands?


1. A post has long been brewing about my failure to post monthly goal reports the last two months of last year, and how I’m handling my goals this year.

2. Or maybe it’s continuously and those stretches of several days when I thought I was well in between the symptoms were just pauses in the illness. We’re not sure.3

3. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that my husband has been sick much of the same time, though frequently our symptoms are out of synch. So when I’ve been feeling almost recovered, he’s been at his worst.

4. Steve Saus is a writer, editor, and publisher who blogs at Idea Trash. A blog which has now joined my regular reading list.

Anniversaries, or, what we remember

I mentioned earlier that Michael used to say that he considered NorWesCon our anniversary, because he was even worse about forgetting the date of our first date (which is one of the dates I tried to remember as an anniversary) than I am, and neither of us could ever remember the date of our commitment ceremony without digging out the paperwork for our domestic partnership registration.

To be fair, we made it a very small thing we tacked onto another get-together with friends. So it wasn’t like an event planned for months ahead or anything. We needed to file domestic partnership paperwork to get us both on the same health insurance, so we did it and that was that. Just a few months afterward I had already started forgetting what the date was. It just never stuck.

I have not had the issue at all with remembering our wedding day…

Continue reading Anniversaries, or, what we remember


Explaining that he’s “not homophobic,” but believing marriage should be between one man and one woman is being “on the right side of the Bible.”
I get tired of people telling us that it’s intolerant of us to point out when certain people make bigoted remarks. Especially when they insist that the reason we should not call a bigot a bigot when he or she says such things, is because we’ll never be able to change their mind. As if people who say things such as being gay is “an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle” are open to discussion on the topic.

The folks who quote Leviticus are so deeply mired in superstition and fear of an angry god that logic is just lost on them.

I say superstition instead of faith because the ones that are choosing to fight for the six or so times that English translations of the Bible seem to be talking about same sex sexual activity, but not the dozens of times that Jesus said to love one another, to stand up for the downtrodden, to place compassion over a literal interpretation of the law—those people don’t have faith. They are not engaged in a spiritual journey of discovery in hopes of a deeper understanding of their fellow humans. They want something that justifies their dislike of anything different. They want assurance that they are right, and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong.

Unless they are willing to pull their heads out of the dark place they’ve shoved it, there is no reasoning with them. There is no persuading them. And it’s really not worth our time and energy to try to convince them. Nothing any of us can do or say is going to be able to trump the very simplistic (and limited) notion of god they have enshrined in their head.

This is why I get so tired of people admonishing us with arguments that begin, “You can’t persuade people if you…”

Because folks like Mike Huckabee or Brendan Eich are not persuadable. They have demonstrated that they are not making their decisions based on any semblance of rationality. When Huckabee says that marriage equality opponents are on the right side of the Bible, he’s saying that he rejects logic, science, and even the possibility that any other perspectives are worth consideration. When Eich said that he had nothing to apologize for his participation in an effort to not just ban marriage equality in California, but to literally undo the marriages that had already taken place, that demonstrates that he’s not open to other opinions. When he doesn’t see how giving money to the campaign that went to court after Proposition 8 passed and demanded that judges declare the marriages that had already happened null and void, goes beyond “holding a private opinion,” he proves that he is not using anything a rational person would call logic.

There is nothing private about forcing other people to divorce. And demanding that the courts and state officials undo all those marriages was precisely that: forcible divorce. Forcing other people to end their marriage is not “expressing an opinion.” Forcing children of some of those same sex couples off of one parents’ health insurance (which was another thing that Eich’s money was used to ask the courts to do) is not “expressing a private belief.”

And not being able to see that people would feel hurt by that, and that perhaps some acknowledgement that he contributed to the pain and suffering of a lot of people shows that he isn’t able to see things from another perspective. That means he’s not persuadable.

Not seeing that people would be loathe to trust someone who would do that sort of thing six years ago to make fair and equitable decisions about promoting and compensating his current employees? Not willing to even admit to the possibility that he might owe an apology some of the people who were hurt by the campaign to pass the law and the law itself? He refused to even issue the classic non-apology, “I’m sorry if someone was offended.” He even refused to say something along the lines of, “When I donated, I had no idea that the campaign would go to go and demand this other things.” Instead, he insisted that it was just an opinion, and not anyone else’s business.

Forcing other people to divorce isn’t the business of those other people? Or their friends and family? It isn’t the business of any of your customers or employees who might be members of that community? Really?

Where, in any of that, do you see a person who is willing to be persuaded?

Connections, rainbow or otherwise

I’ve spent some time this morning crying at weddings more than a thousand miles away. I’ll likely spend a lot of time this weekend doing that. A federal judge ruled yesterday that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional (given all the other rulings that isn’t much of a surprise).

Detroit Free Press and WoodTV.com
Couples getting married in Michigan today.
He refused to issue a stay on the ruling, pointing to the evidence presented in the trial that denying the marriages causes harm to the thousands of Michigan children already being raised by same sex couples. This is different than other such rulings, or the situation in Utah where the state simply didn’t think to ask for a stay until the weddings had started.

The Court finds Sankaran’s testimony to be fully credible and gives it great weight. He testified convincingly that children being raised by same-sex couples have only one legal parent and are at risk of being placed in “legal limbo” if that parent dies or is incapacitated. Denying same-sex couples the ability to marry therefore has a manifestly harmful and destabilizing effecton such couples’ children.

The clerks in four counties, so far, have opened their offices on the weekend, to give out “no waiting period” marriage licenses. State and county officials have come in to work on their own time to facilitate the weddings. Judges, ministers, and other people legally authorized to perform the ceremonies have also come in to perform them. Ordinary citizens, some of them friends and families of the couples, but others just people who believe in equality, have come in to help, to congratulate, to cheer.

Couples who have been together over 50 years have been among the people married this morning.

My favorite part of this judge’s ruling (in his findings of fact—that will be very important during the appeals process), is his total evisceration of the notorious Regnerus study:

“The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that his 2012 ‘study’ was hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder, which found it ‘essential that the necessary data be gathered to settle the question in the forum of public debate about what kinds of family arrangement are best for society’ and which ‘was confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study.’ While Regnerus maintained that the funding source did not affect his impartiality as a researcher, the Court finds this testimony unbelievable. The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged. Whatever Regnerus may have found in this ‘study,’ he certainly cannot purport to have undertaken a scholarly research effort to compare the outcomes of children raised by same-sex couples with those of children raised by heterosexual couples. It is no wonder that the NFSS has been widely and severely criticized by other scholars, and that Regnerus’s own sociology department at the University of Texas has distanced itself from the NFSS in particular and Dr. Regnerus’s views in general.”

(You can read Judge Bernard Friedman’s entire ruling here.)

A little girl with rainbow star stickers at a courthouse in Michigan with morning. (Photo by Steve Friess)
In case you are unfamiliar, Regenerus compared a few hundred children whose parents had divorced, and in which the non-custodial parent later came out as gay or lesbian, to a control group of children raised by parents who never divorced. Not surprisingly, the children whose early childhoods were disrupted by a divorce tended to have trouble in school and show the other typical problems that have been documented many time before when families experience “household instability and parental relationship fluctuation.” Regenerus then claimed that this proved that children raised by same-sex parents have worse outcomes than children raised by opposite-sex parents.

Except that this doesn’t show that, because none of the children in that group were actually raised by a pair of same-sex parents. None.

It is true that his study also included two children whose parents divorced and the custodial parent came out as lesbian. Those two children did spend part of their childhood being raised by their mother and her same sex partner. Regenerus was forced to admit under oath that these two children did better than average in school, and otherwise had “better outcomes” in all the areas he measured than the others.

So, the only children in his ‘study’ who actually were raised by a same sex couple were success stories, rather than the horror story he has claimed.

So far, every state that is defending bans against marriage equality has cited the Regenerus study, despite its having been debunked many times before this. As far as I can tell, this is the first time that a court has specifically gone into the reasons that they have not been persuaded by the study.

“The Washtenaw county clerk @kestenbaum hands out xeroxes of the 14th amendment, equal protection.”
Freelance journalist (and former POLITICO writer, and now an instructor at Michigan State University) Steve Friess has been at a courthouse in Ann Arbor covering the story all day. He posted a link to his dropbox folder containing photos he’s been taking all day, which he is offering free with attribution. But I think my favorite is one he tweeted earlier: a print-out of the 14th Amendment one of the county clerks is handing out, reminding us that this has nothing to do the activist judges, and everything to do with enforcing the constitution.

I’m going to go look at more wedding pictures. Pass me another box of kleenex.

Update: Alas, the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court has issue a stay at least until Wednesday, when they will hear arguments as to whether the stay should be permanent until the Appeals Court rules on the original case. It’s disappointing, though not entirely unexpected. I do have to re-ask the question of just what the attorney general requesting this stay hopes to accomplish? He can’t be so delusional as to think the the whole country is going to reverse course on this sometime soon, can he?

16 and counting…

Cartoon showing the equality doesn't unbalance anything.
Freedom to marry doesn’t hurt anyone.
So, the Hawaii legislature has passed marriage equality, setting the Aloha state to be the 16th that will allow all citizens, gay and straight, say “I do” to love and commitment.

It has been an extraordinary year. Think about it, just 18 months ago, the citizens of North Carolina, a state that already had a law banning marriage between same-sex couple, approved an amendment to their state constitution prohibiting the state from performing or recognizing either same-sex marriages or civil unions. Then, 12 months ago, on election night, the voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state all approved measures in favor of same-sex marriage (and the voters of Minnesota rejected an attempt to amend their constitution to prevent the marriages). That brought the number of states recognizing marriage equality to ten. And it was as if the floodgates had opened…

Continue reading 16 and counting…