A Fascinating read from: Don’t Eat Trash
Ok time for my two cents I suppose.
I have been discussing a few things with people for the last few days because of some decision in a state of a country that i don’t live in. Makes me laugh a little. Because a couple of days ago, it wasn’t really being spoken about. But the issue still existed.
I want to illustrate two things and see where that gets me.
Number one – democracy is not Gods best.
No where in the bible do you find the blue print of democracy. The trinity isn’t a democracy. Its holy. It is perfectly relational? Do I tongue in cheek think that the three members of the trinity discuss things and disagree on certain designs? Maybe. But are they relational perfect anyway? YES. More then our peon brains understand.
Democracy is a stunted version of what God envisioned for government. A very stunted version. And although most of the conservative right of the western world has convinced themselves and the rest of humanity that capitalism is Gods best, that is also a fallacy. Capitalism works in a supply and demand language, collecting as much as one can. Gods kingdom works on a giving and receiving mentality. Balance. Not consumptive excess.
So when one argues that God wants us to uprise and call on our governments to outlaw gay marriage, it makes me laugh. Because it makes Jesus look bad. When we call on our governments to give more in international aid, it makes me die a little inside, as we facebook our friends sitting next to us, buy our retardedly expensive cars that drive on a fuel that will cease to exist in 40 years and think ‘i have no money to help’.
- The spiritual elite – the hypocrites.
- The pagans that got in the way of the gentiles having access to God in the courts.
- and Peter.
- aaaaaand technically Satan by destroying the enemies power at the cross.
Why do we think we can attack sinners when Jesus called for no rocks to be thrown, no judgements to be made, and no stumbling blocks put in their way.
Where would one find a bigger stumbling block then presenting a Jesus that hates people and protests friendship even going as far as picketing funerals with signs that speak of God hating fags. Does God really hate fags?
Back to the point. Taking Australia for example, through wise choices and intelligent living we could each afford to personally send financial support to the developing world, making sure everyone can eat. Aid money accounted for. If the body of Christ took to loving and servant-hearted community, we would fully exemplify the freedom of Gods love, as opposed to carbon copying the world in our day to day lives and saving Jesus for the church service. We are a tribal people of significant influence over life and love. We need not mere nation state puppet governments, who can neither legislate morality or stop love from changing the world.
If Jesus was invited to a gay wedding, would he go?
As he walks in he begins to teach people how to live abundantly. He dances hard, he drinks wisely, he has crazy conversations, he’s honest and real and affirms people deeply. he becomes the king of the party because he is the best partyer. and people are drawn to his freedom-from-fear-of man. He walks out of that wedding with more people following him then if he stayed at home angry that gay people get to marry.
Secondly, if God calls us to not judge people outside of the ‘church’ could it be because he wants us soft hearted so that the holy spirit can move? But if we are elitist, judgmental – we toe the line of broken-relationship or ‘sin’. Let God do what he does best – healing the broken, freeing the captive. Hes much better at it then our sinful hearts, hands and feet.
The last few days i’ve heard scripture quoted as the reason we should out law ‘the gays’ as if a law would stop people falling in love. Does the fact that divorces happen stop you from being in a committed loving marriage? Does the law that permits tobacco being sold to people mean you have to be addicted to it or smoke at all? The law means crud-all when you are a free man. The law is for the guilty. But so is human non law.
If pedophilia wasn’t against the law does that mean we let people abuse our kids? FRAG NO.
And no i am not making a correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia. They are two completely different things. Pedophilia just seems to be the universal moral absolute. #pointmade
Lastly, to those who are already formulating comments to do with ‘But God says homosexuality is wrong, we must stamp it out’ God’s perfection speaks of everything less then holiness is wrong. We were designed for relational perfection. Pointing fingers is the echo from the garden of eden when Adam first felt uncomfortable being naked of Gods holiness. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil means we compare, judge, become prideful and faux humble.
God wants YOU, reader, to be able to love uncomfortably, and unceasingly.
Courtesy: BarackObama Tumblr
The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:34-40
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
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You wonder if all those voters read the same bible as I do? And if they do, why did they vote the way they voted? Because in the end Love will win. You reap what you sow people. And one day, you will reap it big …
Courtesy: Flickr 21lau_z
What a bru-ha-ha it has been today.
Are you married or are you not? Does Canada acknowledge your marriage as legal and binding if you live elsewhere other than in Canada? Did the government nullify more than 15,000 gay marriages that have been performed in Canada since the law went into effect in 2004? The Government says it isn’t opening the marriage debate again, but what is it going to do with you all who want divorces???
This story is still evolving. From CTV News:
Sonja Puzic, CTVNews.ca
Date: Thu. Jan. 12 2012 11:30 PM ET
The federal government is considering changes to the law that will make it easier for foreign same-sex couples who married in Canada to obtain divorces, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Thursday.
Nicholson also stressed the government has no intention of reopening the same-sex marriage debate after a day of confusion over the validity of marriage licences issued in Canada to same-sex couples from abroad.
Ottawa was pressed to clarify its position on gay marriage after an apparent about-face on the issue surfaced in a Toronto divorce case.
A lesbian couple who married in Canada seven years ago and recently filed for divorce was told by a Department of Justice lawyer that their marriage was not legal.
The stated reason was that because the partners live in Florida and England, where same-sex marriage remains illegal, their Canadian union was invalid too.
The case threw into question thousands of marriages non-residents entered into since 2004, when same-sex marriage became legal in Canada under a Liberal government.
In a statement, Nicholson said the issue centres on dissolution of marriages performed in Canada.
Non-resident couples who marry here must live in Canada for one year before they can legally divorce. The lesbian couple at the centre of the controversy has launched a constitutional challenge of that provision in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Nicholson said he will be “looking at options to clarify the law so that marriages performed in Canada can be undone in Canada.”
In an interview with CTV’s Power Play, Nicholson’s parliamentary secretary Kerry-Lynne Findlay said the Canadian marriages of non-resident same-sex couples are legal in Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had little to say Thursday other than relate his government’s reluctance to wade back into a same-sex marriage debate.
“We have no intention further of opening or reopening this issue,” Harper told reporters gathered for a shipbuilding agreement announcement in Halifax.
“This, I gather, is a case before the courts where Canadian lawyers have taken particular positions based on the law. But I will be asking officials to provide me more details with this particular case.”
Opposition parties and critics quickly weighed in on the issue, accusing the prime minister of trying to rewrite Canada’s same-sex marriage laws “in stealth.”
In a statement, Egale Canada, a human rights organization advocating equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, called the apparent flip-flop “a direct insult to gays and lesbians both in Canada and abroad.”
If the federal lawyer’s arguments in the Toronto divorce case are a misunderstanding, Harper should make that clear, NDP MP Olivia Chow said.
With files from Kieron Lang and The Canadian Press
We shall see where this story goes. It was all over the news tonight. All those people came to Canada to get married and have that joyous moment in their lives. And now I fear that we are beginning to see just how long those marriages lasted, as this is probably not the last divorce case we will see come from abroad.
I mused earlier that you came all this way to get married, and you spent all that money on that day. And now you want a divorce. What to do??? They say in gay circles that lesbians mate for life. I guess that’s not really true any more.
I guess you all got caught up in the woo hoo about being able to get married so you came here and cashed in your relationship chips for a marriage license.
Six state governments (along with the District of Columbia, the Coquille Indian Tribe, and the Suquamish tribe) have passed laws offering same-sex marriage: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. In all six states, same-sex marriage has been legalized through legislation or court ruling. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since May 17, 2004; in Connecticut since November 12, 2008; in Iowa since April 27, 2009; in Vermont since September 1, 2009; New Hampshire since January 1, 2010; and New York since July 24, 2011.In 2009, New England became the center of an organized push to legalize same-sex marriage, with four of the six states in that region granting same-sex couples the legal right to marry.
And now couples are starting to figure out that they really don’t want to be married any more. And we could speculate on just what the reasons are that a couple would want a dissolution of marriage.
As good gays and lesbians we are supposed to show up the heterosexuals and prove to them that we can marry and stay together longer and truer than our straight counterparts.
Marriage in celebrity circles has become a mockery and a joke. What have they done to the institution of marriage for all of us ???
This whole push to legalize gay marriage nationwide in the United States is going to come up eventually in the campaign race. They just haven’t gotten around to it yet, but rest assured those Christians who want to see us damned are going to make sure their chosen candidate does all he can to stop gay marriage from being passed across the rest of the 44 states.
Why did you come here and get married then gone home with that little piece of paper, that got all dusty and forsaken. And now you want a divorce. What a waste. It is very sad to see couples separate for any reason. I just hope it was a good reason and not something stupid like, “oh well, we thought we’d get in on the excitement and really when we came to think about it, we really did not want to abide by our wedding vows, till death do us part …”
So now we want a Canadian divorce because we got a made in Canada marriage.
I Don’t think Canada prepared for this contingency in hindsight.
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Ottawa will change law so same sex marriages are valid: Nicholson.
By The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press
13 January 2012
TORONTO – The federal justice minister says the government will change the law to ensure gay couples from abroad who marry in Canada will have their unions recognized here.
Rob Nicholson says it’s the government’s view that these marriages “should be valid.”
“We will change the Civil Marriage Act so that any marriages performed in Canada that aren’t recognized in the couple’s home jurisdiction will be recognized in Canada,” Nicholson said Friday during a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto.
Doubts were raised about the validity of thousands of marriages conducted in Canada for same-sex couples from the United States and elsewhere following a federal twist in a Charter of Rights case launched in Ontario by two foreign women seeking a divorce.
A legal brief filed by federal lawyers denies the women are even legally married.
Critics accused Stephen Harper’s Conservative government of seeking to rewrite the rules on gay marriage to suit its right-wing agenda.
In announcing the government would change the law, Nicholson said Friday that “the confusion and pain resulting from this gap … is completely unfair to those affected.”
Liberal Leader Bob Rae, speaking to reporters at the party’s policy convention in Ottawa, responded to Nicholson by lamenting, “Oh please, give me a break.”
“These guys specialize in trying to turn the tables,” Rae said of the Harper Conservatives.
“The only gap is the gap between the heads of Conservative cabinet ministers who have failed to live up the best and finest traditions of Canada with respect to our positions of tolerance,” Rae added.
The couple seeking a divorce, identified in court records only by initials to protect their privacy, were married in Toronto in December 2005 and separated two years ago. One lives in Clearwater, Fla., the other in London, England.
Their marriage is not recognized either in Florida or the United Kingdom. As a result, they are unable to obtain a divorce in their home cities.
The couple also faced a barrier to divorce in Ontario — a requirement that at least one of them live in the province for a year or more. They have launched a constitutional challenge of that provision in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 11: Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes at 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001 in New York City. The crash of two airliners hijacked by terrorists loyal to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and subsequent collapse of the twin towers killed some 2,800 people. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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It has been a week of quiet reflection and introspection about those events that took place on September 11, 2001. Many people are writing on this memory over the last few days and I was going to write on Sunday, but I think I can write on it now.
It was a quiet morning in South Beach that morning. I was asleep in my bed when the phone rang. It was my friend Ricky. He said to turn on the tv, that something was going down in New York City.
I sat rapt and cold watching the events transpire as they did. At that time my memory started running because my brother was employed as was his wife by the government. And when the plane hit the Pentagon, I panicked. I called my mother for some shard of news that neither of them were there.
My mother would neither confirm nor deny where they were at that moment. The punishment of silence was being played out on me because of my parent’s belief that I was less than human and unacceptable as a member of the family. Even then relations were strained between us and she wasn’t going to give up her information without me groveling for it.
But after 12 hours of relentless questions she finally let go the info that they were not at the Pentagon.
I did not report to work that day or the next. I wandered up and down the island watching tv and talking with friends about what we had seen. We were all in shock. And life on the island stopped. The party hardy city was struck stone cold sober. I sat in an internet cafe on Lincoln Road trying to find things to do, people to help and news to watch. The young man who ran the cafe would eventually give me free time every day for the 2 week period of time that the benefit period lasted on the island.
We had a week of mourning. There were no parties. It seemed the club atmosphere was sobered up. Nobody was in the mood to party or drink to excess because of what happened in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
They told us that we should go to the beach and lay candles lit in the sand at nightfall, because the satellites above were taking pictures of the coastline from space. So we did that every night for two weeks.
After a week of not knowing what to do, and seven days of forced sobriety, the island began to open up again. And the fund raising began. At the major clubs on the beach would have matching donations drives and if you donate so much money – you could have the equal back in alcohol.
So we went from stone cold sober to hot stock drunk over night. We drank every drop of alcohol that was stocked on the island for more than a week. And whatever money we raised was sent to the disaster zones up North. It was a very emotional time for us.
I spent a lot of time in front of the television. I had a computer at home during this time, even writing to Peter Jennings while he talked on tv news for days and nights after it happened. I had a direct email address for him and I would write him during the night while he was alone on tv.
One night – and I have it recorded on vhs, Peter was having a hard night, trying to remain stoic and strong, and it was wearing on him badly. So I dropped him a note and I said “Peter, take a breath, loosen your tie and just relax for a few minutes. You aren’t alone. Just do it …”
That email reached him and there on live tv, he took a breath, he loosened his tie and he stopped talking for a few minutes and he got through the rest of that shift that night. Peter Jennings was the voice of reason I had grown up with from a young boy into the man I was at that time. I have 20 VHS tapes that I have in my video collection from the morning of 9-11 through the following weeks time of news, interviews and finally the first night David Letterman came back to do his first live show after 9-11 with Dan Rather in chairs – we all cried that night.
Peter Jennings, in a moment of weakness, started smoking again after 9-11 a choice that ended very badly for him as he contracted cancer and later died from it – it was a sad time for everyone. But for those crucial few days after 9-11 Peter Jennings was the man of the hour of ABC news. I will always be proud of him and what he did for the city, the world and his viewers.
This is what happened to my community in South Beach at the time of 9-11.
What is your story?
I just love this photo.
I am powerless over people, places and things. So that allows me to let go and let god. Enjoy the day and stay in the moment…
Don’t ask Don’t tell was given a sharp blow to the chest today. We are ashamed at the Republican party for their filibuster today. And we are also confused that the Democrats did not shore up the votes, they said they had just 24 hours ago. Gay rights in association with the military will just have to wait for the President to make his move. I guess we shall just have to wait for the military review to be completed in January. But the President has already promised a repeal by the end of this year. Someone needs to light a fire under his ass to get this done, already.
Last night I worked on the blog finding new imagery for my header and the sidebar. I really like the update. It is fresh, poignant, and brings a different slant to the blog. I have found a couple of sites through my tumblr account that collect these beautiful photographs from all over the world, by some of the best photographers in the business.
I started writing a post last night, that I later abandoned because I wasn’t sure about my topic. I’ve been talking to some of my friends lately about life, it is always great to hear that friends are doing great, having fun with life and exploring different aspects of our lives.
After reflecting on those conversations I’ve been reminded of the past and what once was, and just how much I miss certain people and times in my life, almost to the point of lamentation.
I wonder what life would be like, if those parts of my life, that have been long since gone many years now, that I miss so terribly, were a part of my life today, would life be so different? We do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it …
Today we revisited the past in talking about “Hitting Bottom.” Junior pulled this topic from the daily reflections and the group did not hold back the honest sharing.
I remember my experience with a crash and burn bottom when I first got sober in 1994. It was really bad, I almost died, save for the team that rallied around me to help me get better. Things that happened in my first round of sobriety did not happen the second time I got sober. I have said this before.
Everything that happened in my life the first few years I was sober, was cathartic real life teaching. It was the most transformative period in my life. If I had to do it all over again, I would. I would not change one thing about my past, in order to make it any better or worse. I had the right people in my life, I had the right job at that time, and I had the right friends in the family we created amongst ourselves.
I remarked that the second time I got sober, I hit more of a psychological bottom. On Miami Beach, where I was living at the time, it was all about being seen in the best light. Having the best body, using the best drugs, and drinking the best booze, and partying at the best nightclubs week after week. I could not keep up with the partying, nor could I compete with the gym bunny crowd any longer.
I was socially stuck in my thirties, trying to act as if I was twenty, playing the social games of society, trying to be good enough or pretty enough… But I grew up. And I knew the party was over by the time I decided that I had had enough…
I knew the way back. The prayers I said when I decided to quit drinking the second time were well placed. And once again, god put the right people in my path, at the right moment, to facilitate my return to the program.
Once I crossed that threshold back into the room, I hit my second psychological bottom. I was ashamed of myself. I hoped that none of my sober friends would see me coming back to the rooms. I thought getting sober on the beach, and not in the city, would save me face.
Later I learned that it was all in my head. My friends were happy to see me back. I had to get past all the shame and remorse I felt coming back a second time.
At that time, the right people welcomed me back to the meetings. They took care of me day in and day out. I had a good job, I had a place to live, and I was getting sober again.
I know that after those first four years, I forgot about how and why I got sober. I became blind and the disease of alcoholism was eating away at me, in certain aspects. At four years sober, I was living in Miami and not Ft. Lauderdale, where I first got sober.
I did not have the support of the men who were in my life in the beginning. I did not do enough to shore up my sobriety. When I pulled the geographic at four years sober, it was a slip in the making. I had no control over the first drink and drug.
Even there, on my slip, when I picked up and used, I had hit another bottom. There was no going back, I was fucked from the word go. I should have never done what I did. That whole 18 months of my life were a waste of time, talent and treasure. I lost everything I owned and almost my life. We heard tonight that if you go back out after time in the program, you are powerless over the first drink, and that once you start drinking again, it only gets worse.
It is a caution to the newcomer just how crucial it is to stay on track, to know your bottom, and respect it for what it was. If you were blessed to come in and stay in, then you must do what is necessary to make sure you shore up your sobriety against another drink.
I have been consumed with thoughts about the past over the last few days. There seems to be a lesson coming. I am not sure what the lesson is yet, but a theme is coalescing around me. I am too far out from my anniversary, to get on the pre cake roller coaster.
I guess I am polishing my gem, so it seems. Issues are cyclical. Life is cyclical. In sobriety, you get to review your life on a continual basis. As we hit beginner meetings, and you go over 1,2, and 3 over and over again, month after month, the act of self evaluation comes and goes. Every time you get to look at some period of your life and each time that specific point comes up, you get to look at it with fresh eyes, sober eyes of today.
What happens is that once you learn the lesson that happened in the past, you get to review it again. And from that comes gratitude. Gratitude that the lesson came and you learned from it, and that you can move past it, and let it go, until the next time the review takes place.
Every pass of the polishing wheel cuts and shines the gem, that is sobriety. Every memory that is cataloged is grace. Every person in your life, is there by divine position. I begin to see in sobriety the universal plan. The great hand of god making his presence known to me on a grand scale. Sobriety is a wonderful grace. Every day brings something new, and today we got to take a look at a specific area of life and we are reminded just how blessed we are to be sober today.
I had asked a friend of mine to speak at the 8 pm meeting, and she was fabulous. I’ve been asking people from my sober circle of friends to speak at the meeting this month. This group of people all got sober around the same time period and we are all coming up on our nine year mark. Every day is a gift, including the people in our lives.
Ok, I think I am finished with this thought.
If you have a cell phone, I wonder how many of you play Foursquare? A few of my facebook friends foursquare. It is an online application that you have running in the background on your phone, and as you move about your city, it knows where you are at any given moment and you “check in” throughout your day. You collect badges and you can see where your friends are during their days as well. It is quite fun.
I have a bunch of apps on my phone that I use on a daily basis. Hubby spends a lot of time on his phone with his work and all. he loves the functionality of it all. I never imagined what a freeing experience it is to have the phone, I don’t know how to explain it but having hubby just a phone call away when we are out and about is totally freeing. It just makes sense…
Ok it’s 11 o’clock I need to eat and do my other online activities…
That is all for tonight.
Just ashamed … what else do we have to say?
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A federal judge on Wednesday struck down a California ban on same-sex marriages as unconstitutional, handing a key victory to gay rights advocates in a politically charged decision almost certain to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker also ordered the voter-approved ban, known as Proposition 8, immediately lifted to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry while the case moves to a higher court.
Prop 8 supporters had sought to keep the measure in place pending the outcome of their appeal.
But Vaughn said the lawsuit challenging Prop 8 “demonstrated by overwhelming evidence” that it violates due process and equal-protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” Walker wrote in the conclusion of the 136-page opinion.
Outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco, a cheer went up among a group of about 70 same-sex marriage supporters carrying small U.S. flags, as a large rainbow-striped flag — the symbol of the gay rights movement — waved overhead.
The highly anticipated ruling marked a major turning point in a social debate that has sharply divided the American public and its political establishment.
Gay rights advocates and civil libertarians have cast the legal battle as a fight for equal rights, while opponents, including many religious conservatives, see same-sex marriage as a threat to the “traditional family.”
Both sides have said an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was certain regardless of the outcome on Wednesday. The case could then go to the Supreme Court, provided the high court’s justices opted to hear it.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)
By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The Democratic-controlled Congress handed President Barack Obama a huge victory Sunday night extending health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and cracking down on insurance company abuses, a climactic chapter in the century-long quest for near universal coverage.
Widely viewed as dead two months ago, the Senate-passed bill cleared the House on a 219-212 vote, with Republicans unanimous in opposition.
Congressional officials said they expected Obama to sign the bill as early as Tuesday. He was expected to make a statement following the vote.
The stakes could not have been higher for Obama’s presidency. Republicans hoped that by blocking the legislation, they would be able to thwart the president’s ambitious domestic agenda, including immigration reform and climate change legislation.
Obama watched the vote in the White House’s Roosevelt Room with Vice-President Joe Biden and about 40 staff aides. When the long sought 216th vote came in – the magic number needed for passage – the room burst into applause and hugs. An exultant president exchanged a high-five with his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.
While national health care has been a goal of presidents stretching back decades, it has proved elusive, in part because self-reliance and suspicion of a strong central government remain strong in the U.S.
After more than a year of political combat – certain to persist into the fall election campaign for control of Congress – debate on the House floor fell along predictable lines.
Immediately following the vote, Democrats turned back a Republican move to undo the bill by a vote of 219-212. Republicans argued the legislation would permit the use of federal money to pay for abortions.
“We will be joining those who established Social Security, Medicare and now, tonight, health care for all Americans,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the vote, referring the government’s pension program and health insurance for the elderly established nearly 50 years ago.
“This is the civil rights act of the 21st century,” added Rep. Jim Clyburn, the top-ranking black member of the House.
Republicans readily agreed the bill would affect everyone in America, but warned repeatedly of the burden imposed by more than $900 billion in tax increases and Medicare cuts combined.
“We have failed to listen to America,” said Rep. John Boehner, leader of a party that has vowed to carry the fight into November’s midterm elections for control of Congress.
Earlier in the day, the House argued its way through a thicket of Republican objections toward an evening vote on the bill to extend coverage to 32 million Americans who lack it, ban insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.
A shouting band of protesters outside the Capitol dramatized their opposition, and one man stood up in the House visitor’s gallery shouting, “Kill the bill” before he was ushered out – evidence of the passions the yearlong debate over health care has stirred.
Obama lobbied by phone from the White House, then took the crucial step of issuing an executive order that satisfied a small group of Democrats who demanded that no federal funds be used for elective abortions.
Over and over, Democrats stressed the historic nature of the day. The measure represents the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted in 1965 during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration to provide government-funded health care coverage to the elderly and poor.
“Health care isn’t only a civil right, it’s a moral issue,” said Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy. He said his late father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, had worked his entire career for nationwide health care, and President John F. Kennedy before him.
Obama has said often that presidents of both parties have tried without success to achieve national health insurance, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.
The 44th president’s quest to succeed where others have failed seemed at a dead end two months ago, when Republicans won a special election to fill Edward Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat, and with it, enough votes to prevent a final vote.
But the White House, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid soon came up with a rescue plan that required the House to approve the Senate-passed measure despite opposition to many of its provisions, then have both chambers pass a fix-it measure incorporating numerous changes.
Under the legislation, most Americans would be required to purchase insurance, and face penalties if they refused. Much of the money in the bill would be devoted to subsidies to help families at incomes of up to $88,000 a year pay their premiums.
The legislation would also usher in a significant expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor.
The insurance industry would come under new federal regulation. They would be forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and from cancelling policies when a policyholder becomes ill.
Parents would be able to keep older children on their coverage up to age 26. A new high-risk pool would offer coverage to uninsured people with medical problems until 2014, when the coverage expansion goes into high gear.
Once enacted, the two bills would create a series of so-called “insurance exchanges” beginning in 2014 where self-employed people and small businesses could pool together to shop for health care coverage.
To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade, roughly half of it from a new Medicare payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000.
Associated Press writers David Espo, Jim Kuhnhenn and Erica Werner contributed to this report.
“I will work with Congress and the military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”
One step closer …
From: The White House Blog
Found on: Joe My God
More than 22 years after it was first proposed by Sen. Jesse Helms, as of today the federal government has stopped blocking people with HIV from entering the United States.
President Obama said the ban was not compatible with US plans to be a leader in the fight against the disease. The new rules come into force on Monday and the US plans to host a bi-annual global HIV/Aids summit for the first time in 2012. The ban was imposed at the height of a global panic about the disease at the end of the 1980s. It put the US in a group of just 12 countries, also including Libya and Saudi Arabia, that excluded anyone suffering from HIV/Aids. The BBC’s Charles Scanlon, in Miami, says that improving treatments and evolving public perceptions have helped to bring about the change. Rachel Tiven, head of the campaign group Immigration Equality, told the BBC that the step was long overdue. “The 2012 World Aids Conference, due to be held in the United States, was in jeopardy as a result of the restrictions. It’s now likely to go ahead as planned,” she said.
Found on: DC Agenda.com
Posted on 01 December 2009 by Chris Johnson
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the conference will bring together 30,000 scientists, policy makers and activists from around the world. (Photo by Michael Key)
Touting U.S. dedication to combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic, top Obama administration officials formally announced Monday that D.C. will host the 19th international AIDS conference in 2012.
The announcement came at a White House event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as part of the commemoration of World AIDS Day, which is geared toward heightening awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the globe.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the conference would help foster discussion on combating HIV/AIDS.
“This conference will draw together an estimated 30,000 researchers, scientists, policy makers, health care providers, activists and others from around the world,” she said.
The U.S. is able to host the conference after repealing the administrative ban that prevents HIV-positive foreign nationals from entering the country. The repeal, implemented earlier this year, is expected to go into effect Jan 4.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, praised the end of the ban during the event and said it will help the U.S. continue its lead in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
“The HIV entry ban was a policy that tore apart families, kept people from getting tested, forced others to hide their HIV status and forgo live-saving medications,” she said. “And most of all, it didn’t reflect America’s leadership in fighting the disease around the world.”
Since many participants for the international AIDS conference are foreign nationals who are HIV positive, the ban had prevented the event from occurring in the U.S. The last U.S. conference took place in 1990 in San Francisco. Another was scheduled in Boston in 1992, but was moved to Amsterdam out of concerns over the U.S. ban.
Elly Katabura, the Uganda-based president-elect of the International AIDS Society and international chair of the conference, said his organization decided to hold the event in the U.S. after the Obama administration lifted the HIV travel ban.
“This change is a significant victory for public health and human rights,” he said. “The IAS now calls on all countries that still have similar policies that restrict free movement of people with HIV and AIDS through their borders to remove them immediately.”
The decision to hold the conference in D.C. also is significant because the HIV/AIDS epidemic has hit the city hard. Around 3 percent of D.C. residents are known to have HIV/AIDS.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, who attended Monday’s event, told D.C. Agenda that hosting the conference in the district will help raise awareness of “how this disease is affecting inner cities in the United States of America.”
“Hopefully, by having it here, by being the showcase with the biggest problems and what we’re doing to solve them, we’ll also come up with new ideas that will be taken around to places throughout this country and the world following the conference in 2012,” he said.
Sebelius said HIV/AIDS still has an impact on LGBT people throughout the country, particularly those who are black. She said in five major U.S. cities, almost half of all black gay men are HIV positive.
But officials touted the work the administration and Congress has done in confronting this epidemic both at home and abroad, including the reauthorization of funds under the Ryan White Care Act to provide assistance to low-income people with HIV/AIDS and the inclusion of HIV/AIDS provisions in health care reform legislation before Congress.
The development of a national AIDS strategy also is underway. Sebelius noted the administration is holding town hall meetings in cities throughout the country to hear concerns about addressing the epidemic.
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser and assistant to Obama for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement, said HIV/AIDS is a “personal” issue for the president, particularly with regard to the domestic epidemic.
“He has said that we’re not always very good at talking about HIV/AIDS,” she said. “We have to do a better job of talking about it in our places of worship, throughout our communities and our organizations, our schools and, of course, our workplace.”
Reflecting on the symbols of World AIDS Day, including the large AIDS ribbon that adorned the White House in recognition of the occasion, Jarrett said fighting HIV/AIDS is “deep and personal” for her and that her sister-in-law died a “tragic death.”
“I saw the other members of her family and 5-year-old daughter, as well, all struggle with her death,” she said. “I’ve also had close friends who have either passed away as a result of AIDS or who are living with AIDS right now.”
The issue of how discrimination against LGBT people abroad interferes with combating the global HIV/AIDS epidemic also was discussed during the event.
Clinton said the Obama administration would “combat discrimination” around the world, noting how international efforts against HIV/AIDS are “hampered whenever discrimination or marginalization of certain populations results in less effective outreach and treatment.”
“We have to stand against any efforts to marginalize and criminalize and penalize members of the LGBT community worldwide,” she said, drawing applause from the audience. “It is an unacceptable step backwards on behalf of human rights. But it is also a step that undermines the effectiveness of efforts to fight the disease worldwide.”
Additional efforts to confront the global epidemic are expected to emerge soon. Eric Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, said he planned later this week to unveil the new five-year strategy for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, an effort designed to fight the global AIDS crisis first implemented by former President George W. Bush.
He said the new strategy “will focus on sustainability” as well as programs that are “country-owed and economy-driven” and “address HIV/AIDS in the context of the broader health needs.”
PORTLAND, Maine – Maine voters repealed a state law Tuesday that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed, dealing the gay rights movement a heartbreaking defeat in New England, the corner of the country most supportive of gay marriage.
Gay marriage has now lost in every single state — 31 in all — in which it has been put to a popular vote. Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine — known for its moderate, independent-minded electorate — and mounted an energetic, well-financed campaign.
With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, gay-marriage foes had 53 percent of the votes.
“The institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine and across the nation,” declared Frank Schubert, chief organizer for the winning side.
Gay-marriage supporters refused to concede, holding out hope that that the tide might turn as the final returns came in.
“We’re here for the long haul and whether it’s just all night and into the morning, or it’s next week or next month or next year, we will be here,” said Jesse Connolly, manager of the pro-gay marriage campaign. “We’ll be here fighting. We’ll be working. We will regroup.”
At issue was a law passed by the Maine Legislature last spring that would have legalized same-sex marriage. The law was put on hold after conservatives launched a petition drive to repeal it in a referendum.
The outcome Tuesday marked the first time voters had rejected a gay-marriage law enacted by a legislature. When Californians put a stop to same-sex marriage a year ago, it was in response to a court ruling, not legislation.
Five other states have legalized gay marriage — starting with Massachusetts in 2004, and followed by Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa — but all did so through legislation or court rulings, not by popular vote. In contrast, constitutional amendments banning gay marriage have been approved in all 30 states where they have been on the ballot.
‘A personal thing’
The defeat left some gay-marriage supporters bitter.
“Our relationship is between us,” said Carla Hopkins, 38, of Mount Vernon, with partner Victoria Eleftherio, 38, sitting on her lap outside a hotel ballroom where gay marriage supporters had been hoping for a victory party. “How does that affect anybody else? It’s a personal thing.”
The contest had been viewed by both sides as certain to have national repercussions. Gay-marriage foes desperately wanted to keep their winning streak alive, while gay-rights activists sought to blunt the argument that gay marriage was being foisted on the country by courts and lawmakers over the will of the people.
Had Maine’s law been upheld, the result would probably have energized efforts to get another vote on gay marriage in California, and given a boost to gay-marriage bills in New York and New Jersey.
Earlier Tuesday, before vote-counting began, gay-marriage foe Chuck Schott of Portland warned that Maine “will have its place in infamy” if the gay-rights side won.
Another Portland resident, Sarah Holman said she was “very torn” but decided — despite her conservative upbringing — to vote in favor of letting gays marry.
“They love and they have the right to love. And we can’t tell somebody how to love,” said Holman, 26.
In addition to reaching out to young people who flocked to the polls for President Barack Obama a year ago, gay-marriage defenders tried to appeal to Maine voters’ pronounced independent streak and live-and-let-live attitude.
The other side based many of its campaign ads on claims — disputed by state officials — that the new law would mean “homosexual marriage” would be taught in public schools.
Both sides in Maine drew volunteers and contributions from out of state, but the money edge went to the campaign in defense of gay marriage, Protect Maine Equality. It raised $4 million, compared with $2.5 million for Stand for Marriage Maine.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, voters in Washington state voted on whether to uphold or overturn a recently expanded domestic partnership law that entitles same-sex couples to the same state-granted rights as heterosexual married couples. With half the precincts reporting, that race was too close to call.
In Kalamazoo, Mich., voters approved a measure that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Among other ballot items across the country:
- In Ohio, voters approved a measure that will allow casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. Four similar measures had been defeated in recent years, but this time the state’s reeling economy gave extra weight to arguments that the new casinos would create thousands of jobs.
- Maine voters defeated a measure that would have limited state and local government spending by holding it to the rate of inflation plus population growth. A similar measure was on the ballot in Washington state.
- Another measure in Maine, which easily won approval, will allow dispensaries to supply marijuana to patients for medicinal purposes. It is a follow-up to a 1999 measure that legalized medical marijuana but did not set up a distribution system.
- The Colorado ski town of Breckenridge voted overwhelmingly to allow adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana.
Filed by: Waymon Hudson- Bilerico Website
October 30, 2009 2:00 PM
President Obama announced an end to the HIV Travel and Immigration Ban during the signing ceremony for the vital Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act this afternoon.
The travel ban, a legacy of Jesse Helms, has been in place since 1987. It prevented HIV+ non-U.S. citizens from traveling or immigrating to the United States unless granted a special waiver from the the Department of Homeland Security.
Here’s some of what Obama had to say (Read the full transcript here):
Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease — yet we’ve treated a visitor living with it as a threat. We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic — yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people from HIV from entering our own country.
If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it. And that’s why, on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year. Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it. We are finishing the job. It’s a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it’s a step that will keep families together, and it’s a step that will save lives.
Some details according to Kerry Eleveld over at the Advocate:
Congress passed the policy reversal last summer under the leadership of Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (D-OR) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA); former President George W. Bush signed it into law, but the Administration was unable to finalize the change before his term ended.
The new regulation eliminates any travel and immigration restrictions that are tied to a person’s HIV status. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) put the wheels of change in motion in late June by publishing the proposed regulation to the federal register, which triggered a 45-day public comment period. HHS has now sent the final change to the Office of Management and Budget for approval, but the source said HHS would not be able to fully implement the new regulation for another 60 days following the president’s announcement.
In the intervening months, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has directed its officers to place holds on any decisions regarding green card applications that are based solely on an individual’s HIV status pending full implementation of the new rule.
Immigration Equality, which has been pushing for lifting the restrictions, had this to say:
We are proud to have been part of a tremendous coalition, including Senator John Kerry, former Senator Gordon Smith, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who have worked tirelessly to repeal this ban. Every day, Immigration Equality hears from individuals and families who have been separated because of the ban, with no benefit to the public health. Now, those families can be reunited, and the United States can put its mouth where its money is: ending the stigma that perpetuates HIV transmission, supporting science, and welcoming those who seek to build a life in this country. Today’s announcement is proof that immigration laws that separate families and stigmatize communities are always destined to fail.
Also key was the extension of the Ryan White Act. The three-year extension of the lifesaving legislation funds an array of innovative and effective services that form the healthcare safety net for uninsured and underinsured Americans living with HIV/AIDS. According to the Government Accountability Office, the program helps about 500,000 annually.
The Ryan White Care Act, first enacted in 1990, is the nation’s largest federally funded program for people living HIV/AIDS.
“No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love.”
Here are the remarks President Obama made a few minutes ago following the signing of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act into law.
“After more than a decade of delay, we have passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are.”
“As a nation we’ve come far on the journey toward a more perfect union and today we’re taking another step forward.”
He described hate crimes as “… crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits, not only to inflict harm but to inspire fear. We understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights from unjust laws and violent acts and we understand how necessary this law continues to be.”
Lifted from: An Inch at a Time.
Taken from: CNN. com Online report
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Senate passed groundbreaking legislation Thursday that would make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.
The expanded federal hate crimes law now goes to President Obama’s desk. Obama has pledged to sign the measure, which was added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill.
President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure.
The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.
“Knowing that the president will sign it, unlike his predecessor, has made all the hard work this year to pass it worthwhile,” said Judy Shepard, board president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation named for her son. “Hate crimes continue to affect far too many Americans who are simply trying to live their lives honestly, and they need to know that their government will protect them from violence, and provide appropriate justice for victims and their families.”
Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate-crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality.
Attorney General Eric Holder has asserted that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, as opposed to the prosecution of speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.
Holder called Thursday’s 68-29 Senate vote to approve the defense spending bill that included the hate crimes measure “a milestone in helping protect Americans from the most heinous bias-motivated violence.”
“The passage of this legislation will give the Justice Department and our state and local law enforcement partners the tools we need to deter and prosecute these acts of violence,” he said in a statement.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the measure “our nation’s first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
“Too many in our community have been devastated by hate violence,” Solmonese said in a statement. “We now can begin the important steps to erasing hate in our country.”
This month, Obama told the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay rights group, that the nation still needs to make significant changes to ensure equal rights for gays and lesbians.
“Despite the progress we’ve made, there are still laws to change and hearts to open,” he said during his address at the dinner for the Human Rights Campaign. “This fight continues now, and I’m here with the simple message: I’m here with you in that fight.”
Among other things, Obama has called for the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He also has urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act.
The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage, for federal purposes, as a legal union between a man and a woman. It allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. The Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act would extend family benefits now available to heterosexual federal employees to gay and lesbian federal workers.
More than 77,000 hate-crime incidents were reported by the FBI between 1998 and 2007, or “nearly one hate crime for every hour of every day over the span of a decade,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June.
The FBI, Holder added, reported 7,624 hate-crime incidents in 2007, the most current year with complete
HYANNIS PORT, Massachusetts – Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate, has died after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.
Kennedy’s family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday.
For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a dominant voice on health care, civil rights, war and peace, and more. To the American public, though, he was best known as the last surviving brother of a storied political family.
Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1962, when his brother John was president, and served longer than all but two senators in history.
Over the decades, Kennedy put his imprint on every major piece of social legislation to clear the Congress.
‘Center of our family’ lost
His family’s statement said:
“Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port.
We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.
We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.
He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”
Nancy Reagan ‘terribly saddened’
Former President Ronald Reagan’s wife Nancy reacted to the news of Kennedy’s death, saying:
“I was terribly saddened to hear of the death of Ted Kennedy tonight.
Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. But Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another.
In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him.
My heart goes out to Vicki and the entire Kennedy family.”
Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.
Editors’ Note: Michael Rajner is a Bilerico-Florida blogger. We’re bumping this post up to Bilerico Project and crossposting it on all of our state sites. Please add the post to your Facebook page, Twitter it and/or steal it for your own blog.
AIDS Action is prompting the national HIV/AIDS community to take action and call President Obama and Secretary Sebelius to demand that Congress act to extend the Ryan White Care Act before
it sunsets on September 30, 2009. Unless Congress and the President take action, the Ryan White AIDS Program will be terminated in 8 weeks and the federal government will shut the doors of access to critical care, treatment and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS.
As America experiences a national crisis involving healthcare reform, conservative groups are actively disrupting town hall meetings for Members of Congress to listen to the challenges of people falling out of medical care simply because they are not eligible for health care coverage or they just find the system of care impossible to navigate.
TAKE ACTION: Call The White House and Secretary Sebelius and tell them to voice their support to Congress for extending the Ryan White Program. For talking points and contact numbers, click on the link for AIDS Action’s Action Alert.
May 26, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES–Integrity joins with those around the nation who express profound disappointment in the California Supreme Court’s abdication of its responsibility to offer equal protection to all California citizens in today’s decision regarding Proposition 8.
“This morning we saw justice both denied and delayed,” said Integrity President Susan Russell. “Today’s ruling by the California Supreme Court does not just affect the lives of same-sex couples hoping to live happily ever after with the love of their life; it sets a terrible precedent that a simple majority of voters can relegate millions of citizens to second class status. Until ‘liberty and justice for all’ really means ‘all’ we are not yet the nation we are called to be and today was a sad step backward on that arc of history that generations of equality leaders have told us bends toward justice.”
Russell continued, “It is a decision that is not only antithetical to the core American values of liberty and justice for all, it flies in the face of the core Christian commitment to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is a decision that grieves the heart of God, violates core values of both our faith and our founding fathers, and puts the State of California on the wrong side of history on the issue of marriage equality. It is a decision that should not and will not stand.”
“As the mother of a son in uniform,” said Russell, “I find it deeply ironic that our Supreme Court would issue an opinion allowing discrimination to be written into our statutes the day after a national holiday dedicated to the memory of the brave men and women who have given their lives to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic–to preserve for their fellow citizens the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
“Integrity will work, pray, and advocate for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments within the Episcopal Church and work with our California Faith for Equality allies toward marriage equality in California as we continue our 35-year history of giving voice to the LGBT faithful within the Episcopal Church and from the church to the world.”
For more information contact:
The Reverend Susan Russell, President
Ms. Louise Brooks, Media Consultant
The California Supreme Court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage today, ratifying a decision made by voters last year that runs counter to a growing trend of states allowing the practice.
The decision, however, preserves the 18,000 marriages performed between the court’s decision last May that same-sex marriage was lawful and the passage by voters in November of Proposition 8, which banned it. Supporters of the proposition argued that the marriages should no longer be recognized.
Today’s decision, written by Chief Justice Ronald M. George for a 6-to-1 majority, said that same-sex couples still have the right to civil unions, which gives them the ability to “choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.” But the justices said that the voters had clearly expressed their will to limit the formality of marriage to heterosexual couples.
Heated reaction to the decision began immediately, with protestors blocking traffic in front of San Francisco City Hall, their hands locked.
The same court had ruled in May that same-sex couples enjoyed the same fundamental “right to marry” as heterosexual couples. That sweeping 4-3 decision provoked a backlash from opponents that led to Proposition 8, which garnered 52 percent of the vote last November after a bitter electoral fight.
The opinion marks a new round in the long-running battle in California over the issue, and will almost certainly lead to a counter-initiative intended to overturn Proposition 8, which changed the state constitution, as early as next year.
The opinion focused on whether the use of a voter initiative to narrow constitutional rights under Proposition 8 went too far.
Supporters of same-sex marriage, who filed several suits challenging the proposition, argued that the change to the state’s constitution was so fundamental that the initiative was not an amendment to the constitution but a “revision,” a term for measures that rework core constitutional principles.
Revisions, under California law, cannot be decided through a simple signature drive and majority vote, which is what led to Proposition 8; they can only be placed on the ballot with a two-thirds vote by the legislature.
It has historically been rare, however, for the state’s courts to overturn initiatives on the ground that they are actually revisions, and many legal scholars deemed the challenge against Proposition 8 a long shot.
The question of whether Proposition 8 was an amendment or revision was the centerpiece of the oral arguments before the State Supreme Court during its hearing on March 5.
The justices who had issued the ringing support of same-sex marriage in 2008 presented a far less supportive front during the three-hour hearing. A number of justices who had voted in the majority in the 2008 case, particularly Joyce L. Kennard, strongly suggested in their questions from the bench that they were reluctant to overturn the will of the voters or to undercut the initiative process.
The justices had seemed to be seeking a middle ground that would allow the rights they had affirmed the year before to be preserved in the form of civil unions, which would be different from marriage in name only. Justice Kennard suggested that the substantive rights of gays were the same after the proposition, and all that had changed was “the label of marriage.”
That distinction was deeply dissatisfying to an attorney for plaintiffs, Shannon Minter, who argued that without the right to the word “marriage,” same-sex couples would find “our outsider status enshrined in our Constitution.”
In the months since the case was argued, three other states have legalized same-sex marriage. On April 3, Iowa’s supreme court struck down a state statute that limited civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman — and cited California’s 2008 decision repeatedly in support of its ruling. Less than a week later, the Vermont Legislature narrowly overrode a veto by Gov. Jim Douglas of a bill that allowed same-sex couples to marry. Then on May 6, Maine’s legislature, too, passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage, and Gov. John Baldaci signed it.
Initiatives are also moving forward in New York and New Jersey; a similar measure has stalled in the New Hampshire legislature by a slim margin this month, but could come up for a new vote next month.
At the same time, attitudes of Americans toward same-sex marriage favor liberalization of the practice. In an April CBS/New York Times poll, 42 percent of those surveyed favored same-sex marriage, up from 21 percent at election time in 2004, when it was a wedge issue during the presidential campaign. That poll suggests the trend will continue into the future: 57 percent of the respondents favored legal recognition for same-sex marriage, compared with 31 percent of respondents over the age of 40.
The language of Chief Justice George’s decision seemed almost regretful, as he wrote that “our task in the present proceeding is not to determine whether the provision at issue is wise or sound as a matter of policy or whether we, as individuals, believe it should be a part of the California Constitution.” Instead, he wrote, “our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.”
Found on: An Inch at a Time…
… and that it bends toward justice
But here’s a great overview of just where we are on that arc … thanks to Elizabeth Kaeton over at “Telling Secrets:”
Vermont. Connecticut. Iowa. Massachusetts. New Hampshire. New York. California (‘yes’ and then ‘no’ and now an even stronger ‘maybe’).
New Jersey, which has had domestic partnership and now civil unions, no doubt, will be next.
Gay Rights Activists are predicting a sweep of the North East (Maine and RI) by 2012.
As of January 1, 2009, NJ, Maine, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Washington, and Maryland have created legal unions for same-sex couples that offer varying subsets of the rights and responsibilities of marriage under the laws of those jurisdictions.
And, this just in: The D.C. Council Tuesday overwhelmingly voted in favor of legislation recognizing same-sex marriages from other states as marriage in the District — a move lauded by lawmakers as a step toward legalizing gay marriage in the city.
President Obama has pledged a full repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which currently guarantees that no state needs to treat a relationship between two people of the same sex as marriage, even if it is considered a marriage in another state, and further directs the Federal Government not to treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.
One possible effect of the repeal, as one Lambda Legal lawyer once said to me a decade ago, that the issue of gay marriage will, eventually, be settled by the IRS.
The arc of history is surely bending, ever so slowly, toward justice.
And yet . . . . according to several sources, as of January 1, 2009, thirty states have constitutional amendments explicitly barring the recognition of same-sex marriage, confining civil marriage to a legal union between a man and a woman.
More than 40 states explicitly restrict marriage to two persons of the opposite sex, including some of those that have created legal recognition for same-sex unions under a name other than “marriage.” A small number of states ban any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage.
Opponents of same-sex marriage swept the last Election Day, with voters in 11 states approving constitutional amendments codifying marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.
The amendments won in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Utah and Oregon.
We’ve come a long way, but we ain’t there yet.
By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then-President George W. Bush had refused to sign, The Associated Press has learned.
U.S. officials said Tuesday they had notified the declaration’s French sponsors that the administration wants to be added as a supporter. The Bush administration was criticized in December when it was the only western government that refused to sign on.
The move was made after an interagency review of the Bush administration’s position on the nonbinding document, which was signed by all 27 European Union members as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and three dozen other countries, the officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Congress was still being notified of the decision. They said the administration had decided to sign the declaration to demonstrate that the United States supports human rights for all.
“The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world,” said one official.
“As such, we join with the other supporters of this statement and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora,” the official said.
The official added that the United States was concerned about “violence and human rights abuses against gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual individuals” and was also “troubled by the criminalization of sexual orientation in many countries.”
“In the words of the United States Supreme Court, the right to be free from criminalization on the basis of sexual orientation ‘has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom’,” the official said.
Gay rights and other groups had criticized the Bush administration when it refused to sign the declaration when it was presented at the United Nations on Dec. 19. U.S. officials said then that the U.S. opposed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but that parts of the declaration raised legal questions that needed further review.
According to negotiators, the Bush team had concerns that those parts could commit the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In some states, landlords and private employers are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; on the federal level, gays are not allowed to serve openly in the military.
It was not immediately clear on Tuesday how the Obama administration had come to a different conclusion.
When it was voted on in December, 66 of the U.N.’s 192 member countries signed the declaration — which backers called a historic step to push the General Assembly to deal more forthrightly with anti-gay discrimination.
But 70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality — and in several, homosexual acts can be punished by execution. More than 50 nations, including members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, opposed the declaration.
Some Islamic countries said at the time that protecting sexual orientation could lead to “the social normalization and possibly the legalization of deplorable acts” such as pedophilia and incest. The declaration was also opposed by the Vatican.
Courtesy: CBC.CA Online
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Barack Obama shook hands and smiled Thursday as the U.S. president arrived on Parliament Hill for a meeting during which the two leaders are expected to take the first step toward a North American climate change treaty.
The pact involves carbon capturing, sequestration and the development of a so-called “smart grid,” or a more efficient power transmission and distribution system to save energy and reduce costs, White House officials told Reuters.
Obama, on his first foreign trip since taking office, arrived just before noon by motorcade at the Centre Block rotunda of Parliament Hill shortly after leaving the Ottawa International Airport.
The leaders met privately for 33 minutes, a session originally slated to last only 10 minutes. They then moved on to a meeting and working lunch with their staff teams. The president and the prime minister are scheduled to hold a joint news conference at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Cameras were briefly allowed into the Prime Minister’s Office, where both men were seen smiling and chatting.
“Thank you so much for having me,” Obama said to Harper as they stood and shook hands for the cameras.
“It’s a great honour to have you here on your first visit. We really appreciate it,” Harper said.
A senior PMO official said the private meeting gave the leaders a chance to establish a “good rapport. This was a good start and bodes well for the rest of the day.”
When the president arrived on the Hill, he waved to a cheering crowd of an estimated 2,500 people who had gathered in front, hoping to catch a glimpse of the U.S. leader.
Clary Fraser, who drove from Toronto to take in the moment, said he was in Birmingham, Ala., during a tragic race bombing in 1963.
“No one, no one in the world would have dreamed, could suggest that there would one day be a black president of the United States,” Fraser said.
Obama had been greeted at the airport by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean after Air Force One touched down around 10:30 a.m.
An RCMP honour guard lined the airport tarmac as Obama was welcomed by the Governor General and other officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and Michael Wilson, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S.
Obama, who was wearing a long, dark coat with a dark crimson scarf tucked into the collar, and Jean, who was wearing a long, charcoal coat and matching hat, smiled and chatted as they walked side by side toward the airport terminal.
Crowds of people braved the light snow and chilly, damp weather to line the heavily guarded and barricaded streets of Ottawa. Busloads of police started arriving in the downtown area around 7:30 a.m. ET to start shutting down the streets.
The RCMP arrested a 20-year-old man Thursday morning who apparently tried to jump a barrier set up on Parliament Hill. The man is being questioned.
Yellow-jacketed officers are patrolling the streets by foot, scanning the sidewalks for any suspicious items.
Afghanistan, economy on agenda
During their meeting, the president, who took office in January, is expected to gauge the prime minister’s views on the future of the Afghanistan mission, as well as discuss what each country is doing to get the global economy back on its feet, CBC national affairs editor Chris Hall said.
Almost certain to come up is the controversial “Buy American” provision in the $787-billion US stimulus package Obama signed into law this week, despite fierce lobbying efforts by Canadian officials against the measure.
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Harper warned that protectionist measures are the greatest threat to the global economy and that Canada will take action if the U.S. violates its international trade agreements.
Obama said in an interview this week with CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge that Canadians should not be “too concerned” about the “Buy American” clause and that the U.S. would abide by trade agreements such as NAFTA, “just as we always have.”
He also said that he did not plan to make a specific request for Harper to reconsider Canada’s decision to end the military component of its mission in Afghanistan.
Obama will not address Parliament during his six-hour visit, but will meet with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff at the airport before departing for Washington at around 4:30 p.m. ET.
Ignatieff said he viewed his meeting with Obama later in the day as a “get-to-know.
“I think I want to excite Mr. Obama with the possibilities of working with Canada,” Ignatieff told CBC’s Susan Bonner outside the House of Commons. “There is so much we can do together.”
He said he wouldn’t use his time with Obama to “score political points” in the meeting, but added it was “appropriate for the Americans to be skeptical about the credibility of this government with respect to the environment.”
With files from the Canadian Press