Equality in America: Ding, Dong, DOMA’s Dead? Maybe…

gay couplesBill Clinton Doma

While the debate inside the High Court continues, things heated up outside the court and across the nation. Of course no event would be complete without the Westboro Baptist Church. The Supreme Court is considering the constitutional challenge to the Federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and the debate has drawn protestors for the second day in a row even members of the fringe anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church who flanked two couples with their offensive, homophobic signs but kudos to couples for not letting their hate filled rants effect their public display of affection. Bravo! The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today on whether Congress can withhold federal benefits from legally wed gay couples by defining marriage as a man and woman. Even former President Bill Clinton has called for the Supreme Court to overturn the law he signed as he believes that the Defense of Marriage Act is incompatible with the Constitution according to the Associated Press. He signed the law in 1996 to avoid legislation that would have been worse. In a Washington Post op-ed, Clinton writes society has changed and realizes that the law discriminates against gays and provides an excuse for other to do so too. The Obama administration stopped defending it as well as the Supreme Court will be the final say on what happens to the bill as well as California’s ban on gay marriage.

As the tensions rise outside the High Court, the U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday morning questioned the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and woman. and whether the decision is really up to them or not. This is the second day the High Court heard arguments with the main issue on Wednesday dealing with the United States v. Windsor and whether it was constitutional for the government not to recognize same sex marriages that have been recognized by the states. Justice Antohony Kennedy said Tuesday that children of same sex coupes “want their parents to have full recognition and legal status” had a hard time accepting that DOMA refuses to recognize those same sex unions recognized by the state according to Huff Post. Kennedy believes that DOMA does cause injury to these couples whose marriages are not recognized by the federal government but the state. Seciton 3 of DOMA, at issue on Wednesday reports Huff Post states “the word marriage means only a legal union between a man and woman as husband and wife” for the purpose of “any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States.”

The Plaintiff, Edie Windsor, 83, brought suit against the federal government after the IRS cited DOMA to deny her a refund for the $363,000 in federal estate taxes paid following the death of Thea Spyer in 2009 who was her partner for 40 years reports Huff Post. Windsor and Spyer married in 2007 in Canada and lived in New York. Windsor argues that she would have been eligible for the estate tax exemption had Spyer been a man therefore DOMA’s Section 3 violates her equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment. Two of the justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Kennedy, seem to side with Windsor with Ginsburg stating that DOMA creates two types of marriages likening same sex marriage to the skim milk version of straight marriage while Kennedy struggled to determine whether or not the federal government can regulate marriage. Solicitor Genral Donald Verrilli, representing the Obama administration ont he merits of the case chose to emphasize COngress’ discriminatory purposes in 1996 stating the law “is not called Federal Uniform Definition of Marriage Act. It’s called the Defense of Marriage Act.” Justice Elena Kegan shared simliar sentiments as she told Clement, defending DOMA on behalf of the House of Representatives’ Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, “that maybe Congress had something different in mind than uniformity” in the definition of marriage reading from the House Report which said DOMA was a reflection of Congress’ “collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.”

Therefore, the key to this case may lie in whether the law singles out gays and lesbians through “heightened scrutiny” where a measure singles out politically disfavored and less powerful groups. Chief Justice Roberts along this line focused on the change in public opinion regarding gay marriage and how it happened unless gay and lesbian Americans had significant political power as it seems politicians are falling over themselves to support it. The main question on his mind was why did President Barack Obama enforce it for so long if he thought it was unconstitutional. Clement commented that 10 years from now the nine states don’t have gay marriage will be force by federal government to recognize these unions. According to Huff Post, after Wednesday’s oral arguments the case may be about whether or not the justices have the power to hear the case at all. In United States v. Windsor, the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit declared DOMA unconstitutional while the Obama administration agree Roberts asked Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan, arguing for the Obama administration, whether there was any cases where all parties agreed with the decision below, but the court upheld its ability to hear it. Clement on Wednesday faced some serious questioned from the Supreme Court’s liberal wing on why the House had any legal interest in represent the position that has been abandoned by everyone involved with DOMA especially the executive branch. As Justice Stephen Breyer commented, ” How is this case any different from enforcing general powers of the United States.” The fight will continue as so many things remain uncertain.

The Calm before the Storm: Same Sex Marriage Uncharted Waters for the Supreme Court

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For photos and updates on the latest controversy click here.

The U.S. Supreme Court has begun to hear oral arguments on both sides of the Prop 8 ban after the proposition passed in November of 2008 thereby reversing by popular vote the state Supreme Court’s decision to recognize marriage equality just months earlier. As Justice Anthony Kennedy on Tuesday commented, the prospect of same sex marriage is “uncharted waters.” According to Huff Post, Kennedy commented, “And you can play with that metaphor,” and  continuing that in that consideration, “There’s a wonderful destination” or “a cliff.” Kennedy acknowledged that the issue of same sex marriage is fairly new, but the immediate legal harm to those same sex couples who cannot marry is apparent as the voices of thousands of children of same sex couples is an important aspect of the case. Kennedy went so far as to tell Charles J. Cooper, representing supporters of Prop 8, that: “They [the children] want their parents to have full recognition and legal status.  The voice of those children is considerable in this case, don’t you think?” Kennedy also casts doubts on Prop 8 and same sex marriage bans in general believing that it discriminates against gays and lesbians. Before the justices can discuss the merits of the constitutional case, Chief Justice John Robers told both advocates to argue whether the parties had legal standing to defend Prop 8 as the liberal bloc — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan –believe Prop 8 supporters could not represent the state of California after the Governor and Attorney General refused to defense the law where the Republican appointed  members — Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito — agree with the California Supreme Court which ruled Cooper’s clients could represent the state’s interest.

When the arguments reached the constitutional merits, the ideological alliances switched according to Huff Post. As Sotomayor asked Cooper, “Can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other rational decision-making that the government could make? Denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?” And when Cooper responded with “responsible procreation”, Kagan commented, “If you are over the age of 55, you don’t help us serve the government’s interest in regulating procreation through marriage. So why is that different?” The debate became interesting when Scalia asked Ted Olson, the lawyer for the two same sex couples challenging Prop 8, “When did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791 [when the Bill of Rights was ratified]? 1868, when the 14th Amendment was adopted?” Olson responded with, “When did it become unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriages?” Scalia responded with, “At the time that the Equal Protection Clause was adopted. That’s absolutely true. But don’t give me a question to my question.” Olson untimaly answeres that the argument of same sex marriage is on an evolutionary cycle. Alito’s issue with Olson’s argument was, “You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet,” Alito said. “On a question like that, of such fundamental importance, why should it not be left for the people, either acting through initiatives and referendums or through their elected public officials?” Ginsburg has issues with Coopers argument which relies on a case from 1971, Baker v. Nelson, where the Supreme Court dismissed a Minnesota man’s attempt to marry his male partner lacking a substantial federal question at a time when same sex intimate conduct was considered criminal.

Kennedy, who is consider the tie breaker vote on the panel, was trying to determine whether a same sex marriage ban could be viewed as gender based and determined by the end of the arguments that both sides had legitimate reasons to sue. On one hand Kennedy sees that Prop 8 supporters have standing to sue, but the right to marry especially the federal constitutional right that would extend to all states compelled him to dig a little deeper. Kennedy asked Cooper, “Why [do] you think we should take and decide this case?” After hearing the answer, Kennedy sided with his conservative colleagues that Cooper’s clients had the right to be in court, while siding with his four liberal colleagues who believe the Constitution mandates marriage equality. That leaves Kennedy who is the fifth vote in the case to man these uncharted waters and according to Huff Post if his history is any indication he just might take the plunge. The final decision is expected by July in the case, Hollingsworth v. Perry.

Seattle’s Mars Hill Church Moves Close To Gay Neighborhood To Preach To Those ‘Infected By AIDS’

Seattle’s Mars Hill Church Moves Close To Gay Neighborhood To Preach To Those ‘Infected By AIDS’.

Wow this will leave you speechless for a moment. Why people feel the need to save everyone? Let people live their life and if they aren’t bugging you then don’t bother them. Mega church Mars Hill has moved to downtown Seattle which is southwest of Capital Hill a gay neighborhood, but the move has been called into question after a press release to KOMO news by the lead pastor, Tim Gaydos.

“This is an incredible opportunity to be a ministry hub for downtown Seattle as it will allow us to better serve the business men and women in our city, as well as the homeless and marginalized, as we’re closer to one of our ministry partners, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. Also, being closer to Capitol Hill is a blessing as we are serving and ministering to those who are infected with AIDS on the hill.” (source Huffpost Gay Voice)

 

According to ThinkProgress an LGBT blog and news site, Mars Hill has always believed that homosexuality is a sin and that they can “save sinners” through the love of Jesus — has not indicated that it’s partnered with Lifelong AIDS Alliance, the Seattle-based advocacy group that serves people with HIV/AIDS, a red flag that the church’s only means of ministering to those “infected by AIDS” is to “pray the gay away.”

Whether their intention was good or bad, the Mars Hill church has already stated its feelings about homosexuality so its clear they are trying to save this neighborhood literally. The problem I have is the church was not there before the neighborhood and saying that they are going to target those infected by AIDS is assuming that homosexuality and AIDS go hand in hand. It would be helpful if church groups inform themselves on the topic before assuming that AIDS is a homosexual disease which it is clearly not. I just find the pray the gay away concept which there are actually church funded programs that do have pray the gay away camps is funny, sad, and childish.

 

 

Rush Limbaugh Compares Gay Marriage Acceptance To Pedophilia ‘Normalization’

Rush Limbaugh Compares Gay Marriage Acceptance To Pedophilia ‘Normalization’.

Sorry to bring this one up and I apologize for straight men like this who are so misinformed and stuck in the dark ages that I am embarrassed for him. Shout to my LGBTs out there love y’all and I am straight just to keep it straight. I think is sad in any country for anyone with any sway whether political, media, or entertainment to make such hateful comments when it is really no ones business but your own to make your own decision about your life. Freedom of speech in the U.S. I think is used and abused all the time and here is one of those times. If I hear one more person say that marriage is between a man and a woman, I will go crazy because again people that is not my business what you do. By the way side note, what happened to separation of church and state? Anywho, before i get too much more off topic Limbaugh the attention whore that he is stated that there is a movement to “normalize” pedophilia, a movement he says is similar to society’s “normalization” of same-sex marriage.

How can you compare the two and as far as I am concerned the two are very different subject with nothing in common. Limbaugh is oppose to gay marriage as he says Obama has waged war on traditional marriage. The comment was sparked because of a recent article in the Guardian discussing various lines of research on the brains of pedophiles. “There is a growing conviction, notably in Canada, that paedophilia should probably be classified as a distinct sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality,” writes John Henley of the Guardian. Henley cites one researcher who says society may be wrong about the classification of pedophiles, but notes many who are against any such reclassification.

However, Limbaugh claimed such a discussion points to a “movement to normalize pedophilia” and likened such “normalization” to the recent progress that same-sex marriage has made in the U.S.