Wedding Day

 Posted by at 21:41  General
Dec 232015
 

I did something today that I never thought I would be able to do. I got married. In Texas, in a church.

It really was a lovely ceremony. Wish y’all could have been there.

Jun 302015
 

An excellent editorial published in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News. It is worth the couple of minutes it will take you to read it.

Public servants’ religious beliefs do not trump same-sex couples’ rights

No one should deny government employees’ right to exercise religious freedom in their personal affairs, but there must be no ambiguity regarding their official responsibilities. They are constitutionally bound to uphold rights and provide government services without discrimination.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have equal rights to marry. Top Texas leaders must stop standing in the way by encouraging government employees to invoke a personal religious exception when asked to provide marriage-related services, such as issuing licenses or officiating at civil ceremonies.

Denton County Clerk Juli Luke struck the right tone regarding Friday’s ruling by stating, “Personally, same-sex marriage is in contradiction to my faith and belief. … However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family Bible to uphold the law, and as an elected public official, my personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened the door for judges, county clerks and other government employees to defy the ruling with an opinion Sunday that they may refuse to perform their official duties based on personal religious objections to same-sex marriage.

The opinion attempts to pit government employees’ First Amendment right to religious freedom against a Supreme Court ruling mandating the equal treatment of same-sex couples under the law. But this isn’t about personal religious freedoms; it’s about public servants’ duties under the Constitution.

Fortunately, it appears most Texas county clerks are honoring the Supreme Court’s ruling. However, a handful of clerks are raising religious objections and refusing to grant same-sex marriage licenses. The effect of the attorney general’s opinion was to sow confusion where clarity should reign: Same-sex marriage is now a constitutional right.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who requested Paxton’s opinion, appears to be among those misinterpreting the legal latitude of public servants. “No public employee, judge or justice of the peace should be forced to participate in activity contrary to the covenants of their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Patrick said.

State employees do not have discretion to selectively embrace the constitutional protections they agree with while rejecting those they object to, even on religious grounds. Constitutionally, governments — including their employees — must present themselves as religiously neutral.

Paxton suggested in his opinion that same-sex couples have ample options to go elsewhere should an employee refuse services on religious grounds. But it’s not the couple’s job to shop around for services from employees whose salaries are paid with tax dollars.

The exercise of free religious belief ends at government employees’ office doors. Texas leaders gain nothing by introducing confusion and erecting discriminatory loopholes now that the Supreme Court has made clear where it stands. Same-sex marriage is indisputably the law of the land.

Read that again. Carefully. “State employees do not have discretion to selectively embrace the constitutional protections they agree with while rejecting those they object to, even on religious grounds.”

Any government employee who refuses to perform his or her duties should be summarily dismissed. Period. End of discussion.

Summer of 2013

 Posted by at 09:53  Politics
Jun 262013
 

The summer of 2013 is only a few days old, but already it has made its mark on history.

Last night, the people of Texas stopped their “representatives” in the State Senate from enacting the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. It may be too soon to celebrate on this one, however, as Texas Republicans are not beyond playing dirty politics to get their way. There is a possibility that Rick Perry could call a second special session of the legislature in order to get this bill passed. (Update: Perry has, as expected, called a second special session of the Texas state legislature. It will begin on Monday, July 1.)

In other news, the Supreme Court this morning ruled in favor of equal rights for all citizens of the United States of America. First, they ruled that the party in favor of California’s Proposition 8 did not have standing before the court and the ruling of the lower court on this issue will stand. Same sex marriages will soon resume in California. Second, they ruled that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Same sex couples who are married in one of the twelve states that currently recognize the civil rights of same sex couples can no longer be denied all the federal benefits enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.

So far a very good day in America.

UPDATE: President Barack Obama released the following statement on the Supreme Court decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act:

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

Marriage in New York

 Posted by at 22:01  Politics
Jul 242011
 

I have yet to see any reports of the Empire State Building turning into a pillar of salt…

New York state celebrates first same-sex marriages

(Reuters) – Wedding fever hit New York on Sunday, as hundreds of gay and lesbian couples married on the first day that same-sex marriage became legal in the state.

The marriages across New York, the nation’s sixth, and largest, state to allow gay marriages prompted calls from activists and officials to repeal a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had pushed for same-sex marriage, officiated personally at the marriage of two men belonging to his City Hall inner circle on Sunday evening at Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s official residence.

“Today in this city and in this state, history takes an important step forward by allowing every person to participate,” Bloomberg said as he married John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz, accompanied by their daughters at the podium.

“Therefore by the powers vested in me by the state of New York, I pronounce you both married.”

City officials said a record-breaking 659 couples, all five boroughs combined, braved a summer heat wave and long lines to obtain their marriage licenses.

 

New York approves marriage

 Posted by at 21:32  Politics
Jun 242011
 

By a vote of 33 to 29, the Republican-controlled New York State Senate just passed that state’s marriage equality bill. Since the bill had already passed the Assembly, it now goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature and will take effect in 30 days.

Congratulations, New York!

UPDATE: Republican State Senator Mark J. Grisanti explains his vote:

 

DOMA unconstitutional

 Posted by at 17:32  Politics
Feb 232011
 

I love it when the President of the United States and I are on exactly the same page…

Obama pulls defense for law banning gay marriage

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama has determined that a federal law that barred gay marriages was unconstitutional and told government lawyers to stop defending it, the Justice Department said on Wednesday, a major reversal that quickly angered conservatives…

The decision by Obama to drop support for the law in federal courts came after he received a recommendation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who had conducted a detailed review over the past several weeks.

“While both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court,” Holder said in a statement.

The Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional when it was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 and it remains unconstitutional today. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has stated that she will introduce legislation to repeal the law, though it is highly unlikely that it will make it past the Republican Tea Party controlled House of Representatives. This is something the Democrats should have gotten off their duffs and done while the adults were still in charge of both house of Congress. I do not doubt that it will be repealed eventually – most unconstitutional laws are – but I don’t think it will be repealed right now. (Elections have consequences.)
 

Zach is guest on Ellen

 Posted by at 21:36  Politics
Feb 172011
 

Remember Zach Wahls, the young man who spoke to the Iowa House of Representatives against a bill they were considering that would add an amendment to the state’s constitution making gay marriage illegal? He was a guest of Ellen DeGeneres on her show today. Watch the video…

I don’t know Mr. Wahls and yet even I am proud of him. His mothers must be doubly so.

(If you somehow missed it, you can watch the video of Zach’s appearance before the Iowa House by clicking on his name in the first paragraph above.)
 

Meanwhile in Iowa

 Posted by at 22:19  Politics
Feb 032011
 

On Feb.1, the Iowa House of Representatives voted 62-37 in favor of Joint Resolution 6, an amendment which would prohibit currently legal same-sex marriages. The vote was taken after hearings which featured speakers on both sides of the issue, including a remarkable young man named Zach Wahls…

Amazing.

I hope I live to see the day when full and equal rights will be granted to all citizens of the United States. I am beginning to wonder.