March 6, 2010
VA rollback of protection for universities, state workers shows that as the culture changes, GOP clings to anti-gay policies
Several weeks ago, an executive order by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell reversed protections that his predecessor, Democrat Tim Kaine, had provided to state employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation. As a follow-on, the state's socially conservative attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, has now told the state's public colleges and universities to rescind policies that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, arguing in a letter sent to each school that their boards of visitors had no legal authority to adopt such statements. Cuccinelli claims that only the state's legislature can extend legal protections to gay state employees, students and others.
For the sake of their academic reputations and ability to attract the best faculty and students, one hopes the schools will ignore or challenge Cuccinelli's advice. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 109 of the US News top 120 colleges and universities maintain non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation, and 57 cover gender identity.
Bill Moyers on Prop 8 and an interview with Olson and Boies
Veteran PBS journalist devoted his Bill Moyers Journal program Feb 26 to the federal court challenge to Proposition 8, including an interview with lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies. Video, transcript, and podcast are available on the show's web site.
March 3, 2010
Marriage equality is now the law in the nation's capital
On Wednesday, Washington, DC, joined Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont as the jurisdictions licensing marriages for same-sex couples. Congress could have overturned the will of the city's government, but its 30-day period for doing so expired yesterday. By late Wednesday afternoon, more than 140 couples had filed to be married, the NYT reported.
Lieberman steps up for lead role on repeal of DADT
The campaign to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell gained momentum today with the announcement that CT Sen. Joe Lieberman will introduce legislation to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military. Before today's announcement, no senator had emerged to take a lead role in repealing DADT.
DC marriage opponents fail in request for stay from Supreme Court
Acting as Circuit Justice for the DC Circuit, Chief Justice Roberts refused Tuesday to grant a stay of Washington, DC's Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act, which allows same-sex marriage. The stay had been sought by conservative Christian and African-American opponents of marriage equality led by pastor Harry Jackson (whose church is in Maryland, not DC). Our colleague Ruthann Robson has coverage here. The Washington Post story is here. The Roberts in-chambers opinion is here.
March 2, 2010
Obama's flip-flop on marriage equality: he was for it before he was against it
As an obscure Illinois state senate candidate in 1996, Barack Obama answered a questionnaire from a gay-oriented newspaper this way: "I favor legalizing same-sex marriage, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."
The same Obama now opposes marriage equality for same-sex couples, citing his personal religious convictions, though he favors the separate-but-equal status of civil unions. In 2008, running for president, he told pop Christianity pastor Rick Warren, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian ... it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix." (Obama's denomination, the United Church of Christ, actually supports full marriage equality.)
It's unclear whether very many people knew about this flip-flop before it was documented recently by the San Francisco Chronicle's Bob Egelko.
As Geoff Kors, the leader of Equality California, told Egelko, all this is more evidence that Obama is a fairly conventional politician:
"When he was running for office in Chicago and wanted strong support from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, he made it clear he supported full equality," Kors said. "Since he has continued to seek higher office, he has changed his position for the worse.
"It's especially appalling that he is citing his religious beliefs as grounds for his public government position on the civil marriage issue because he knows better," Kors said.
March 1, 2010
To Lynch a Child: Bullying and Gender Non-Conformity in Our Nation’s Schools
See Michael Higdon's new Article about the role gender stereotypes play in school bullying (the targets of which are frequently LGBT youth) and the pernicious harms this form of bullying can cause. So evil are these potential harms, that he compares gender-based bullying to the lynchings that took place during the civil rights movement.
You can find this Article on SSRN here.
February 28, 2010
How red state Indiana keeps dodging a marriage-discrimination amendment
Professor Sheila Kennedy offers a case study on how LGBT advocates and allies in conservative Indiana once again this year avoided passage of a state constitutional amendment mandating anti-gay marriage discrimination. The keys: a difficult-to-amend constitution, a unified approach, coalition building, cogent political arguments, and strong support from the business community.