Thursday, July 31, 2008

Massachusetts Eliminates a Shameful Relic of the Past

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the repeal of the 1913 racist law originally meant to discriminate against interracial couples. It was resurrected by Mitt Romney to use against gay couples.

From The Advocate

Massachusetts on Thursday began allowing any gay couple to get married there as Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill repealing a 1913 law that had blocked most out-of-state same-sex couples from tying the knot.

The old law barred couples from marrying in Massachusetts
if their union would not be valid in their own states.

Patrick said the repeal shows that "equal means equal" in Massachusetts, where a 2003 ruling by the state's highest court made gay marriage legal a year later.

"In five years now . . . the sky has not fallen, the earth has not opened to swallow us all up, and, more to the point, thousands and thousands of good people -- contributing members of our society -- are able to make free decisions about their personal future, and we ought to seek to affirm that every chance we can," Patrick said.

Supporters of repealing the measure said the old law had the taint of racism because it was passed 95 years ago as states tried to prevent interracial marriages. The exact reasons the Legislature approved it remain unclear.

Opponents said it prevented Massachusetts from interfering with the decisions of other states -- the overwhelming majority of which specifically bar same-sex marriage.


Asked if the change might create legal problems for couples returning to states with same-sex marriage bans, Patrick said: "What we can do is tend our own garden and make sure that it's weeded, and I think we've weeded out a discriminatory law."

Full article here

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Could Equality Have Saved Thomas Disch?

From The Advocate

Writer Thomas Disch's life had been hard over the last few years. His partner of 35 years, the poet Charles Naylor, died in 2005 after a long struggle with cancer that used up their savings. His own health was not good: Disch, a big man, was diabetic and had difficulty walking.

In October, the landlord of his rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan's Union Square won a decision in appellate court against Disch -- it was Naylor's name on the lease -- and was threatening to evict him. The pipes in his second home, in upstate New York, burst in 2007. When Disch assessed the damage months later, he found mold growing on keepsakes, books, the piano and the box containing his partner's ashes.

On July 2, he posted a piece on his blog, Endzone, about the rising price of food. Two days later, at 68, he
shot himself in his apartment.

When we think about same-sex marriage, especially in states where it is legal, we tend to focus on happy couples like Phyllis Martin and Del Lyon, who married after more than 50 years together. We look at pictures of the newly betrothed surrounded by friends, family, and even cheering strangers. We treasure those symbolic moments of promise and commitment -- even as the hundreds of federal protections and benefits of heterosexual marriage remain vague abstractions.

But if Disch and Naylor had been married, at least one of those abstractions might have kept the science fiction writer in the world a little longer. Thanks to the 1989 decision in Raviv v. Raviv, their Union Square apartment would have been considered part of their communal marital property in New York -- even though the lease was in only one spouse's name.

Thomas Disch would at least have had the assurance that his home couldn't be taken away from him; his landlord would have had no legal standing to start proceedings against the grieving widower. But without marriage equality, same-sex couples have no protection against predatory landlords, hostile families or unsympathetic courts.

It's impossible to know someone else's heart; maybe Disch still would have killed himself. He had certainly been thinking about death. In a poem published on his blog in early June, he wrote:

Am I happy to have lived
When and where I did
America the 20th century
I've often said so
Grateful anyhow for my good luck
But I'll be happier soon
To have shed both when and where
My landlord has had me evicted
Katrina struck
As Charlie lay on the mattress
Of a New York hospice
And he had as little care
For the deaths of those other paupers
As for his own
May I achieve the same
Dark wisdom
We'll never know whether the specter of losing his apartment was the inspiration for his suicide or yet more fodder for the bleak outlook the writer couldn't shake. But one thing is certain: Gay marriage is more than a symbolic commitment -- it's a necessity.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Idiocy Is Not Confined To Lambeth

Massachusetts Takes the Second Step Towards Erasing a Shameful Remnant of the Past

One more step towards removing the 1913 racist law resurrected by Mit Romney to use against GLBT people.

Boston Globe reports: The House today voted 118 to 35 to repeal a 1913 state law that prevents gay and lesbian couples from most other states from marrying in Massachusetts.

The measure, which the Senate passed earlier this month, will head to the desk of Governor Deval Patrick, who is expected to sign it into law. The move will clear the way for out-of-state couples to marry in Massachusetts, making it the second state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry regardless of their place of residence.

"I'm glad that we finally did it," said Representative Byron Rushing, a Boston Democrat, who described the repeal on the House floor as a "question of fairness and … a question of equality."

After the vote, Rushing said he hoped lawmakers or the governor would add an emergency preamble to the bill to speed its effect and allow for September weddings.
Unlike the Senate, which quickly voted to repeal the law on a unanimous voice vote, the House debated the bill for about 45 minutes.

Supporters of the repeal called the law archaic and rooted in racism, urging fellow lawmakers to strip it from the books in the interest of equality. Repeal opponents argued for keeping the law in deference to other states, to prevent legal tangles involving couples who would marry in Massachusetts and want rights in states where gay marriage is outlawed.

There's more

Anglicanism's Wizard of Oz

A gay Nigerian Anglican activist has been granted political asylum. Why won't the bishops stand up to his persecutors?

From Steven Bates, Guardian UK

The news that Davis Mac-Iyalla, a Nigerian Anglican who is gay, has been granted political asylum in Britain ought to give the 670 bishops currently meeting in Canterbury pause for thought about the African church which has so often been held up as a shining example of growth and spiritual dynamism in the worldwide denomination.

Mac-Iyalla, whose offence has been to try and organise a movement for gay Christians in Nigeria, has been regularly smeared and denigrated by the church authorities there and has been threatened and physically assaulted sufficiently often for him to seek sanctuary, first in nearby Togo and now here. The fact that the immigration authorities in Britain believe his story sufficient to give him protection and allow him to stay ought to suggest to the Archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues that all is not necessarily sweetness and light in the Nigerian Church, whose bishops are boycotting their conference because of their opposition to mingling with "apostate" gay-friendly bishops.

When Mac-Iyalla first surfaced three years ago, organising a local chapter of the
Changing Attitude pro-gay Anglican group, the Nigerian hierarchy refused to believe he existed - their line was that there were no homosexuals in Nigeria and, anyway, such people were worse than beasts. Then, when he produced proof that he was not only a practising church-goer but also had formerly been assistant to a Nigerian bishop, who had since died, the press officer of the Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola shamelessly claimed that Mac-Iyalla had embezzled church funds - an allegation for which he provided no proof, which Mac-Iyalla denied and which the Nigerian police have never investigated. When Mac-Iyalla organised a meeting of gay Anglicans, the Nigerian church first denied it had taken place, then that it had been attended by only a few dissidents, in the face of a news story and photographic evidence from a New York Times correspondent that it had indeed occurred and had attracted quite a crowd.

Archbishop Akinola it was who enthusiastically endorsed an attempt by the Nigerian government to introduce laws criminalising the friends and relatives of gays with up to five years' imprisonment and who, when asked at a conference in Jerusalem last month to condemn violence against gay people, somehow could not find the words to do it. Incidentally, for those English bishops, wracked with post-colonial guilt, who defend Akinola as having to stand strong against militant Islam in Nigeria, it has to be said that some of his statements have come very close to inciting violence against Muslims. All this and yet he still has an honoured position in conservative Anglican circles.

The smears against Mac-Iyalla continue to surface, without evidence being produced, by supporters of the Nigerian church elsewhere. You only have to look at
Ruth Gledhill's blog about the story on the Times website today to see the bile directed, not against the Nigerian church authorities, but against Mac-Iyalla himself. It is vicious stuff and, at the most basic level, unChristian, visceral and homophobic.

The article continues with more gruesome details of the arch homophobe, Peter Akinola.

Just today the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a speech that we must consider the perspective of people like Akinola who make the claim that inclusive Christians in countries like Nigeria are in danger of being harmed. I am going to quote that section of his speech, but before you read it, I must issue an ABJECT STUPIDITY WARNING. Apparently the solution for this is to join up with the non-Christians and go gay bashing together. And we're supposed to give this serious consideration!! How convenient for the homophobes!

‘But please remember also that - while you may say that what you do needn’t affect us - your decisions make a vast difference to us. In this world of instant communication, our neighbours know what you do, and they see us as sharing the responsibility. Imagine what that means where those neighbours are passionately traditional Christians - and what it means for our own members, who will be drawn to leave us for a “safer”, more orthodox church. Imagine what it means when those neighbours are non-Christians, delighted to find a stick to beat us with. Imagine what it is to be known as the ‘gay church’ in a context where that spells real contempt and danger.

We can only hope that the Queen will offer a nice golden parachute to the poor deluded Archbishop of Canterbury.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Off for a bit

We're off on a short trip ... back next week.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Protection Restored for Northern Rockies Gray Wolves

A federal judge has restored endangered species protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, derailing plans by three states to hold public wolf hunts this fall.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy granted a preliminary injunction late Friday restoring the protections for the wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Molloy will eventually decide whether the injunction should be permanent.

The region has an estimated 2,000 gray wolves. They were removed from the endangered species list in March, following a decade-long restoration effort.

In his ruling, Molloy said the federal government had not met its standard for wolf recovery, including interbreeding of wolves between the three states to ensure healthy genetics.

"Genetic exchange has not taken place," Molloy wrote in the 40-page decision.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Protector of Marriage Has Illegitimate Child

Well, well .... a hypocrite as well as a bigot.

Are we surprised?

From PinkEBiz

A London civil servant who refused to perform civil partnerships for gay couples because of her fundamentalist Christian beliefs has apparently not let those beliefs govern her own sexual behavior outside of the office.

Lilian Ladele recently won a suit against Islington Council alleging discrimination after she was punished for refusing to do her job and perform civil partnerships for same-sex couples. A judge ruled that Ladele was within her rights to deny service to homosexuals as a staunch Christian.

However, it has now been revealed that Ladele is also a single mother to a child, now 27, born out of wedlock. So Ladele is so firmly Christian that she can’t possibly marry same-sex couples, but not so religious as to remain chaste until married. Presumably God will forgive the sin of extramarital sex but not the “sin” of joining two people together in a loving relationship.

The discovery that she has an illegitimate son could cast suspicion on some of the testimony she gave at the discrimination tribunal. The tribunal wrote: "Ms Ladele is a Christian. Her unchallenged evidence was that she holds the orthodox Christian view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others and that marriage is the God-ordained place for sexual relations.”

"She told us that she believed this to be contrary to God's instructions that sexual relations belong exclusively between a man and a woman within marriage.

"That’s right, she said marriage is the only god-ordained place for sexual relations. How awkward for her. It’s likely even more awkward for the Christian Institute, a far-right Christian group that helped fund Ladele’s appeal and is firmly against sex before marriage.

However, it’s unlikely the group was unaware of the situation, once again proving that groups like the Christian Institute aren’t really “pro-Christian values”, just anti-gay. You can’t pick and choose your beliefs if you’re going to claim to be a fundamentalist. Hypocrisy is a sin itself.

Islington Council had promised to appeal the verdict immediately following their loss last week. Cllr John Gilbert said: "This isn't a decision we’ve taken lightly, but we believe an important question is at stake and the law must be clarified. Islington Council, like all councils and employers, needs to know whether we can expect employees to provide services to all sections of the community, regardless of who they are."This new revelation will most likely give them new ammunition. The council believed that Ladele was not properly cross-examined about the details of her religious faith. Details such as the fact that she won’t marry gays but will have sex out of wedlock could be potentially damning evidence against Ladele during an appeal.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Massachusetts Takes a Step Towards Erasing a Shameful Remnant of the Past

Today the Massachusetts Senate voted to repeal a 1913 law designed to prevent out-of-state interracial couples from marrying. The law was all but forgotten until Mitt Romney resurrected it in order to discriminate against GLBT people.

The bill, which had the support of Senate President Therese Murray, passed with no objections on a voice vote. Proponents of the repeal called the 1913 law archaic and discriminatory.

"There are very few laws on the books that I can say that I'm ashamed that they're on the books," said State Senator Mark Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat. He said he opposed the law because of the "immorality of discrimination."

"This is a very simple law, contrived in shame, and it exists in shame and we ought to wipe it off the books," he said.

"The 1913 law is a shadow, a terrible shadow. It represents a segregationist past that is best put to rest and put to rest quickly," said Senator Harriette Chandler, a Worcester Democrat.

The law originated when lawmakers in many states were trying to prevent interracial couples from crossing state lines to marry. It fell into obscurity for decades. But it received new attention in 2004, when Republican Governor Mitt Romney invoked it after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts to prevent out-of-state gay and lesbian couples from marrying here and forcing their home states to consider recognizing Massachusetts marriage law.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why Does John McCain Hate Free Speech?

And while we're at it, why are Republicans offended by the comparison of John McCain with the man they've elected twice, George Bush?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ireland's Anglican Archbishop Looks for Scientific Proof

From the BBC: We may allow gay unions: COI head

Archbishop Harper was speaking at the Anglicans in World Mission conference. The head of the Church of Ireland has said if homosexuality is proven to be biologically predetermined then his church would have to allow gay unions.

"If such comes to be shown, it will be necessary to acknowledge the full implications of that new aspect of the truth," said Archbishop Alan Harper.

Frankly, Archbishop Harper, there's a lot more scientific evidence for the biological nature of sexual orientation than there is for the things upon which you base institutional discrimination against GLBT people.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Davis Mac-Ilyalla Arrested on the Eve of Pride London

London, July 4,2008: UK Gay News reports Davis Mac-Iyalla, a leader of Changing Attitude Nigeria, the gay Christian and gay rights movement in Nigeria, has been arrested on the eve of Pride London.

He was due to speak from the main stage in Trafalgar Square tomorrow afternoon.
Mac-Iyalla has been incarcerated in Oakington asylum detention centre in Cambridgeshire.

Last month, he fled Nigeria in fear of his life and sought refuge in the UK.

“His detention is totally unjustified and is an act of cruel vindictivenes by the Home Office,” Peter Tatchell of Outrage! said this afternoon.

“The Labour government’s claim that it supports gay rights cannot be taken seriously when it incarcerates a victim of homophobic persecution.
“It is treating Davis like a common criminal,” he insisted.

Oasis California reports later in the day Davis was released.

“I am delighted that the Home Office has finally seen sense and released him. But he was only freed because he has lots of supporters and a first-class solicitor, Abigale Evans of Wilson and Co. Many gay asylum seekers are not so lucky,” Mr. Tatchell pointed out.

“They end up in detention for months.

“Davis should never have been detained in the first place.

“Treating a victim of homophobic persecution like a common criminal is outrageous, said Mr Tatchell insisted.

It is not known if Mr. Mac-Iyalla will still be speaking at Pride London in Trafalgar Square tomorrow afternoon.

But Mr. Tatchell, who is also on the list of speakers, will be referring to the Mac-Iyalla matter, he said this afternoon.

Remembering Jesse Helms

Hat tip JoeMyGod

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Florida Governor Charlie Crist's 5th Engagement

Gov. Charlie Crist is engaged to a woman he met last September during a trip to New York.

The 51-year-old governor popped the question to Carole Rome on Thursday morning at his St. Petersburg apartment. Crist says she said yes without hesitation.

Crist says the couple may plan a fall wedding, most likely a small ceremony in St. Petersburg followed by a larger reception at the governor’s mansion. While Rome has two daughters from a previous marriage, 9 and 11, Crist said he hopes he and Rome can have a child of their own.

Crist’s first marriage ended nearly 30 years ago.

All of that while a good number of people are wondering if America is about to elect its first gay vice president.

And others are wondering if this engagement is for political reasons. Check out the Sun-Sentinel poll.