Filed under: Right-wing
By Scottie Thomaston
Yesterday, EqualityOnTrial reported that the marriage equality bill in Rhode Island is scheduled for its first Senate committee vote on March 21. There is also a “compromise bill” which would put the issue of marriage equality on the ballot for the voters to decide; the bill would also repeal the part of the state’s anti-discrimination law related to businesses that offer services related to a marriage ceremony. The bill was introduced by Senator Frank Ciccone.
As Pam’s House Blend noted, a ballot initiative on the issue of marriage equality is opposed by Rhode Islanders United for Marriage and Rhode Island’s Governor Lincoln Chafee.
The bill is backed by the National Organization for Marriage. Yesterday, they sent an email to supporters which said:
Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, bishop of the Diocese of Providence, had this to say about the newly proposed bill by Senator Frank Ciccone:
“We will continue to vigorously oppose efforts to redefine the institution of marriage in Rhode Island. Nevertheless, the legislation introduced by Senator Ciccone presents an eminently reasonable approach to this divisive issue. It advances the discussion in a positive and democratic way, while at the same time safeguarding the rights of all parties. The citizens of Rhode Island have a right to vote on this crucial issue.”
We stand alongside the bishop 100% in this statement.
NOM has backed civil unions in the past, in New Hampshire, but this is the first time they’ve announced support for a marriage equality referendum.
Since the amendment, if passed, would remove anti-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians, it would seem to pose some constitutional problems at the very least. The Supreme Court addressed the taking away of anti-discrimination protections in Romer v. Evans, and they’re considering the issue again now in the Prop 8 case. Laurel Ramseyer at Pam’s House Blend suggests that the bill is a “poison pill” bill and an attempt to persuade legislators who don’t want to take a position on marriage equality to back an amendment that voters would have to approve.
Also in NOM news, yesterday, the Associated Press ran a story about the family diversity of Supreme Court Justices. The story suggested that the family backgrounds of all the Justices are diverse: two Justices (Thomas and Chief Justice Roberts) raise adopted children, some have no children, and some were never married. Since the Court is going to hear cases related to marriage and families in less than two weeks, the report discussed what impact that diversity might have on the Justices’ views.
The chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, John Eastman, told the AP that Chief Justice Roberts’ decision to adopt children rather than to have biological children and raise them was the “second-best” option. He mentioned Roberts by name. Later, Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade (who is attending CPAC this week) asked NOM’s president Brian Brown about the comments, and Brown didn’t respond directly.
Leave a CommentMarch 15, 2013
By Scottie Thomaston
The Illinois marriage equality bill is reportedly 12 votes short of passage in the House. The bill passed the Illinois state Senate and then passed a House committee. As EqualityOnTrial has previously reported, the bill faces an uphill battle in the House. Marriage equality advocates need 60 votes for the measure to pass and there was speculation all along that they were at least 17 votes short of that goal.
But House Speaker Michael Madigan has told reporters today that 12 additional votes are needed, and he said the effort is very difficult:
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says passing a gay marriage bill out of the state House will be “very difficult.”
Madigan told reporters Wednesday that he backs the measure allowing same-sex couples to marry. The Senate approved it last month and it awaits a House floor vote. Lawmakers aren’t sure when they’ll call it.
Marriage equality advocates are saying the bill will eventually pass.
UPDATE 450PM ET: Rep. Greg Harris has said that the vote tally is “closer than” what the Speaker has suggested, but he didn’t say a number.
1 CommentMarch 13, 2013
By Scottie Thomaston
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its 2-1 decision in a case styled MacDonald v. Moose, striking down the state of Virginia’s “crimes against nature” law. Ten years ago in Lawrence v. Texas, the United States Supreme Court struck down laws like Virginia’s in for violating due process by criminalizing same-sex intimacy. But many states kept their laws on the books even after that decision, and some states continued to arrest gay men and lesbians long after the Supreme Court denied them the authority to do so.
This case involved a 47 year old man and an underage girl, however. He was convicted of “crimes against nature” in 2005. The courts below upheld his conviction, but the Fourth Circuit held that under Lawrence, the law is invalid:
In Lawrence, the Supreme Court plainly held that statutes criminalizing private acts of consensual sodomy between adults are inconsistent with the protections of liberty assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In these circumstances, a judicial reformation of the anti-sodomy provision to criminalize MacDonald’s conduct in this case, and to do so in harmony with Lawrence, requires a drastic action…[rewriting the statute]
The dissenting opinion suggests that the reach of Lawrence is “not beyond doubt” because it may only apply to private consensual activity:
In concluding that Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), invalidated sodomy laws only as applied to private consenting adults, the Virginia Court of Appeals did not reach a decision that “was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fair minded disagreement.”
The Washington Blade has comments from the ACLU of Virginia:
“It is shameful that Virginia continued to prosecute individuals under the sodomy statute for ten years after the Supreme Court held that such laws are unconstitutional,” said Rebecca Glenberg in a statement on behalf of the ACLU of Virginia. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting MacDonald’s appeal.
“This ruling brings an end to such prosecutions,” she said.
The Blade sought comments from Lambda Legal, who led the challenge in Lawrence v. Texas and had filed a brief in this case, but didn’t obtain a statement.
In two weeks, the Supreme Court hears two gay rights cases. The arguments will take place ten years to the day arguments were heard in Lawrence.
7 CommentsMarch 13, 2013
By Scottie Thomaston
Yesterday, EqualityOnTrial covered the LGBT anti-discrimination bill in Utah that was reportedly backed by the Mormon church. That bill died in the legislature yesterday, before it even reached the floor:
on sexual orientation and gender identity died before it even hit the Senate floor.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, announced Monday he would not bring SB 262 to the Senate floor for debate because there was not enough support in the chamber for it to be considered.
“Why, if we don’t have the votes, do we want to spend the time?” he told reporters.
SB 262, sponsored by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, has gone the farthest in the six years non-discrimination bills have been run through the Utah State Legislature. At a news conference late Monday, the bill’s sponsors were frustrated it died so quickly.
“I’m disappointed there won’t be a roll call vote,” said Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, the only openly gay lawmaker in the legislature. “But that’s the way it goes in politics.”
The bill had passed out of the Senate committee but it appears legislators counted the votes and found there was a significant gap between the yes and no votes.
In other news, three bills affecting LGBT rights will be taken up in the judiciary committee in Nebraska on Thursday. There’s a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, and two related to anti-gay discrimination in adoption practices. More information on those bills, including the text of the bills, is here.
On Friday, an inclusive anti-discrimination bill was introduced in the West Virginia Senate. The bill bans discrimination against LGBT people in housing, and it also bans employment discrimination. The bill will reportedly be introduced in the House of Delegates in West Virginia soon.
Leave a CommentMarch 12, 2013
By Scottie Thomaston
UPDATE 1:40PM ET: Another report says the language was finalized and the bill passed out of a Senate committee.
The Mormon Church is reportedly working on language for a statewide LGBT non-discrimination bill in Utah. The church supported a similar bill in 2009, according to a report:
The church actually endorsed a similar ordinance in 2009 in Salt Lake City.
This is momentous, surely, but the Mormon faith, whether real or done for politics, is changing. In December, Mormon leaders launched a website called mormonsandgays.org, and the church stressed that homosexuality is not a choice, that all the brothers and sisters need to be treated with compassion, that we all “need to love one another.”
The church is well-known for its efforts to pass Prop 8 banning marriage equality in California.
The Salt Lake Tribune first broke the news on Thursday. According to their story:
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, opened a bill file on Thursday — the last day to request attorneys draft legislation — titled Housing and Employment Amendments and will sponsor the legislation should an agreement be reached.
The newspaper notes that talks have been ongoing for the past eight months and there is not a bill yet, though other sources suggest that all the parties to the negotiations are close to final language. The report suggests that if the LDS church signs on to the bill’s language, it’s likely to pass.
10 CommentsMarch 11, 2013
By Scottie Thomaston
- We have a lot of coverage here at Prop 8 Trial Tracker of the latest DOMA petition to the Supreme Court in Windsor v. USA. Here’s our initial news post, here’s some analysis, and this morning Jacob tells us what it all means.
- Geidner’s coverage on yesterday’s news is worth reading. Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade, too.
- The Scottish Government has postponed its decision on marriage equality.
- The Boy Scouts re-affirmed their gay ban.
- The attempt to undo California’s law to allow the teaching of gay history in schools has failed.
- An update on the battle over the language in Minnesota’s proposed anti-gay amendment.
9 CommentsJuly 17, 2012
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