Kenneth Cole Partners With Broadway’s ‘The Prom’ to Support LGBTQI+ Equality

Kenneth Cole has joined forces with Broadway’s new musical comedy, “The Prom,” to support human rights of LBGTQI+ people and equality.
The partnership includes a fund-raising initiative for the UN Foundation in support of UN Free & Equal, a global public information campaign of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to promote the fair and equal rights of LGBTQI+ people globally.
“The Prom,” which has been in preview, officially opens Nov. 15. The musical takes place in a small town in Indiana, where a high school student isn’t permitted to bring her girlfriend to their prom. Several actors travel to Indiana to support the girls’ cause.
“We have been supporting social justice and equal rights issues since its inception and specifically for the LGBTQI+ community for over 25 years,” said Kenneth Cole, chairman and chief creative officer of Kenneth Cole Productions. “We’re proud to partner with ‘The Prom,’ not just because it is an extraordinary theatrical production, but also because of the shared values it portrays and the important story of inclusion and acceptance that it brings to life.”
Inspired by the Act 1 finale of “The Prom,” Cole has designed a custom T-shirt which reads, “Today Is Not a

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Episode 166 Scott Adams: Hawk Newsome on the Agape March for Love, Food equality and More

Topics: 

  • Black on Black crime isn’t the top killer of Black people
  • Chemical tests being used to increase addiction to garbage food
  • Good nutrition reduces medical costs resulting from consuming garbage
  • Rejuve-a-nation movement
  • Building a bridge between communities
  • Seeking productive conversations

 

I fund my Periscopes and podcasts via audience micro-donations on Patreon. I prefer this method over accepting advertisements or working for a “boss” somewhere because it keeps my voice independent. No one owns me, and that is rare. I’m trying in my own way to make the world a better place, and your contributions help me stay inspired to do that.

See all of my Periscope videos here.

Find my WhenHub Interface app here.

 

The post Episode 166 Scott Adams: Hawk Newsome on the Agape March for Love, Food equality and More appeared first on Dilbert Blog.


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Redmayne, Maisie Williams talk gender equality at “Early Man” premiere

Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne says Hollywood’s gender equality campaign has been ‘a long time coming’ and a ‘huge amount of change’ is still needed. Rough cut (no reporter narration).


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Rowan Blanchard: ‘White Feminists Forget That Feminism Means Equality’

Teenagers everywhere: listen up. Actually, humans of all ages: listen up.

Disney star Rowan Blanchard made a name for herself this year (and earned a spot on Time’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2015 list) for her thoughtful comments about feminism and equality. In June, the 14-year-old spoke at the UN Women’s annual summit about her personal connection to feminism: “When I was in preschool, I played catch with the other kids and I was told I threw like a girl. I’ve identified as a feminist ever since.”

In August, she published an essay about the importance of intersectional feminism in a three-part Instagram post (see parts two and three here):

Part 1. By me

A photo posted by Rowan Blanchard (@rowanblanchard) on

The posts went viral, garnering more than 97,000 likes on Instagram — and the platform took note. This week, Blanchard joined Instagram in Los Angeles to co-host the launch of Instagram’s new initiative, #MyStory, which aims to highlight powerful female voices on the platform. Twenty-eight women and their photos were selected for the exhibit.

HuffPost asked the young but seasoned feminist about the most problematic misconceptions the movement faces today. She said, ”to treat it all the same or say all women are treated equally is not fair. The way that I experience sexist comments is different than the way a black woman experiences sexist comments.”

The actress continued: “Race is such a difficult conversation to have in America because everybody is so afraid of talking about it. We don’t have to say we are colorblind. People have different experiences. To say you don’t see color erases the experiences of so many.”

In addition to opening up about how young girls are taught to evaluate their own beauty, Blanchard also talked to HuffPost about race in America and what it was like to grow up with yogis for parents. Read highlights from our conversation below.

Both of your parents are yoga instructors. Did their work influence your relationship with body image growing up?

Yoga is knowing that you can try again and again. Yoga is so universal — the feeling that it gives you. I didn’t really realize until I was much older that I could have a mind, body, spirit connection. I feel like I was definitely much more in tune with my body and in tune with not always succeeding partly because of them. I grew up with my parents teaching me yoga. My mom would donate classes to my school and teach everyone. But it was more embarrassing when my dad would do it because he likes to sing and embarrass me. Now I look back on that and that makes my dad my dad [laughs].

What is the importance of a platform like Instagram when it comes to conversations about body image and young women?

When I was younger, there were only white European princess dolls to play with. I would play with them and I loved them. The girls I would hang out with loved those princesses too. Now I look back, and there were no African American princesses. They were just European. It was a very specific type of beauty standard. When you’re little girl that loves princesses, you go to the store and you can be Sleeping Beauty, Ariel or Cinderella. That was the diversity. It makes you question, ‘Am I not pretty enough to be a princess?’ Looking back, I think that it must have had an impact on girls who didn’t look like that.

Do you think there are more ways to define beauty now because of technology and social media?

I do, especially with Instagram because it’s photo-based. You can take pictures of yourself and other people. I feel like you don’t have to be one type of beauty and you don’t have to fit somebody else’s standards of beauty. One of my favorite things about tonight’s event is that the [photos] are so diverse. I love that.

Do you think that as women, we are naturally drawn to want to look at things that are pretty? Do we care most about beauty?

I think society has taught us that our beauty is the only thing that is valued. That’s how we are measured. Women tend to gravitate towards questions of ‘Am I beautiful?’ and ‘Am I enough?’ because that is what we have been taught — to evaluate our own beauty.

Do you think that needs to be changed? And how?

I think it needs to be changed, absolutely. I don’t think it’s fair that you have to base your self-worth on whether or not the cute guy likes you back. I feel like we can change that by initiatives like #MyStory that says you can be from this place or that place, or look like this or look like that. What matters is the message that you’re putting out there. The event is called My Story; it’s not called My Beauty.

Sometimes conversations about feminism can be polarizing. How do we make it more inclusive?

Unfortunately, a lot of white feminists forget that feminism means equality. It means equality for trans women and equality for black women. Even when people make comments like ‘Boys don’t have to worry about the way they dress’ — actually, Trayvon Martin was killed because he had a hoodie on. I think it’s about acknowledging your privilege and looking at how you can help other people. Feminism can seem like this thing that polarizes people because the version of feminism that we most often see does polarize people.

I think it all comes down to recognizing your privilege and recognizing how to help others. So obviously a white man is more privileged than I am, but I am still more privileged than somebody else.

 

What is your hope for the future of feminism?

I think it all comes down to recognizing your privilege and recognizing how to help others. So obviously a white man is more privileged than I am, but I am still more privileged than somebody else.

Check out all 28 women selected for Instagram’s #MyStory exhibit:

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Still Fighting Against Marriage Equality? “Dude, Get Over It.”

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I’m From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit archive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer stories. New stories are posted on the site every Wednesday.

When Paul Lalonde was in his early 20s, he would watch conservative televangelist Charles McVety on TV every Sunday evening. Needless to say, it rubbed him the wrong way. Paul recalls:

He would just go on and on about how if gays get married, it would be the end of society, nothing will work, trains wouldn’t be on time, it would be terrible, chaos everywhere. I think what made me so mad is that when I would watch him, he would be talking to me, directly at me, and telling me that I’m a terrible person and I’m awful and I would be a terrible father.

Instead of just getting angry, Paul decided to do something about it. He joined Canada’s LGBTQ pro-equality organization “Egale” and was put to work. One day he was asked to attend a public meeting organized by the anti-marriage equality side, which had an unexpected speaker: the very televangelist whose actions and words motivated Paul to get involved in the first place. Sitting in the same room as Charles McVety, Paul remembers his range of emotions:

I was enraged, I had to just sit there and listen to this guy and tell me that I’m going to be an awful parent, society is going to hell and all that stuff. And I think it was actually sitting through that day, that rather than actually being angry, because I wasn’t anymore, we won, we got what we wanted, I had won, I beat him, but instead I just almost pitied him. I was looking at this guy like, “Really? You’re still fighting this? Dude, get over it.”

Get over it, indeed.

WATCH:

For more stories, visit I’m From Driftwood, the LGBTQ Story Archive.

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How Julia Roberts Really Feels About Gender Equality in Hollywood

The star opens up about her buddies in the A-list Hollywood boys’ club, what it’s like working with her husband, and her thoughts on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
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Voice of equality through music ends Proms season

US conductor Marin Alsop performs at the last night of the BBC Proms festival of classical music at the Royal Albert Hall in London, BritainAmerican conductor Marin Alsop brought the 120th season of the Proms, the world's biggest and longest running music festival, to a close in London on Saturday, with an acknowledgement of the power of music to help overcome inequality. "It's clear inequality is one of the greatest challenges facing us today," said Alsop, who returned to the podium to lead the BBC Symphony Orchestra through the traditional Last Night of the Proms celebrations two years after becoming the first woman to conduct the concert. In the cavernous, oval-shaped Albert Hall, German tenor Jonas Kaufmann continued the final evening's eclectic musical program with a selection of Puccini arias, including 'Nessun Dorma', while Danielle de Niese, described by the New York Times as "opera's coolest soprano", led an audience sing-along of a medley of songs from The Sound of Music in celebration of the film's 50th anniversary.



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Cyndi Lauper, Sara Bareilles and Others Channel Rosie the Riveter For National Women’s Equality Day

Some Broadway heroines are rolling up their sleeves and posing in a familiar way to support National Women’s Equality Day.Kristin Chenoweth, Laura…
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Betty Buckley Talks Provincetown Events, LGBT Equality and More (AUDIO)

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This week, I talked with Tony Winner Betty Buckley about her upcoming events presented by Adam Berry at the Peregrine Theatre Ensemble in Provincetown, Massachusetts on September 2, 3 and 4. Buckley is doing a “talk back” with the audience after the performance of Carrie the Musical on Sept. 2 and on Sept. 3 and 4, she will be performing songs from her album Ghostlight produced by T Bone Burnett, and material from her musical theater catalogue for a two-night concert event entitled “An Evening With Betty Buckley.”

Betty has been called “the Voice of Broadway” and won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. Her career spans across theater, film, television and concert halls around the world and she was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2012. Currently, she’s appearing as Big Edie in the musical Grey Gardens now through August 30th at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, New York. I talked to Betty about her busy summer schedule and as a fierce gay ally she shared her insights on our LGBT issues.

LISTEN:

When asked what her personal commitment is to LGBT civil rights Buckley stated:

Everyone in theater is completely committed to that and has great concern because all of our companions are gay. So many artists in the theater are gay men and gay women, that’s been a cause of mine.

My original dance teachers from the time I was eleven in Fort Worth, Texas were a gay couple. Thank God for gay people in the arts and in theater and design. What would we do otherwise? Some of the great fashion, great theatrical minds are persons from the gay community.

My brother Norman Buckley who’s a brilliant director in television, he directed Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, Mysteries of Laura and Rizzoli & Isles amongst other TV shows is a gay man who just lost his husband last fall to suicide. His husband Davyd Whaley was a brilliant painter who had been very abused in his childhood for being gay.

It’s a profound and necessary concern of our community. We’ve all raised money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS through the years, which has been an honor and a privilege. I was just at a friend’s house in East Hampton and their little six year old son has been persistent about saying that he is a girl and they finally in recent months have allowed him to assume the identity that is obviously most naturally his.

It’s good that all this information is coming to our consciousness the way it is now. The bullying and the scare that people feel about not being part of the mainstream is such a sad thing and we have to stop because its uniqueness, its individuality that’s created all good things and we should praise that and celebrate it wherever it occurs in our world.

Betty Buckley other Broadway credits include 1776, Pippin, Song and Dance, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Carrie. Her films include her debut in Brian de Palma’s screen version of Stephen King’s Carrie, Bruce Beresford’s Tender Mercies, Roman Polanski’s Frantic, Woody Allen’s Another Woman, Lawrence Kasden’s Wyatt Earp and M. Night Shymalan’s The Happening. On television Buckley starred for three seasons in the HBO series Oz and as Abby Bradford in the hit series Eight is Enough. She has also appeared as a guest star in numerous television series, miniseries and films for television. For information and tickets for her upcoming events in Provincetown,
Massachusetts on September 2, 3 and 4th: peregrinetheatre.com
For More Info: bettybuckley.com

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Country: Women push for equality, and quality, in new music

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Leslie Fram started seeing the problems that women were facing in country music when she came to Nashville four years ago to lead CMT's music strategy division. A former rock radio programmer, she immersed herself in the songwriter community and was blown away when she heard Brandy Clark performing at the tiny Bluebird Cafe. Grammy-nominated Clark, an artist who has penned hits for Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves, was …
News, reviews, interviews and more for top artists and albums – MSN Music
ADULT ENTERTAINMENT NEWS UPDATE:Gabby Love’s top pick! Click and enjoy!

Hey, Rick Santorum, Here’s Why The Dred Scott Case Has Nothing To Do With Marriage Equality

Conservatives never want to talk about slavery until it helps them push their agenda.

Enter Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania and one of the junior varsity GOP candidates. On Thursday night, during the first Fox News 2016 debate, Santorum compared Obergefell v. Hodges, the recently decided Supreme Court case that upheld marriage equality, to the Dred Scott case in 1857.

Asked whether the Obergefell case was still up for debate, Santorum said, “It is not, any more than Dred Scott was settled law to Abraham Lincoln … This is a rogue Supreme Court decision.”

The Supreme Court ruling in Dred Scott’s case determined that black people were property and not, nor ever could be, U.S. citizens.

Now, you’re probably wondering what that has to do with marriage equality — and the answer is nothing.

Conservatives maintain that, just as Lincoln ultimately overturned the decision in the Dred Scott case, they will overturn legalized gay marriage. But there’s a lot of false equivalence floating around. It’s insulting to invoke America’s history of legal racism to explain why states should be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples (many of which include people of color, incidentally).

Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts made similar remarks in June when they compared the decision to slavery and interracial marriage, respectively.

At the time, Santorum said that, as president, he would do all he could to strike down the court’s ruling.

“As president, I will be committed to using the bully pulpit of the White House to lead a national discussion on the importance to our economy and our culture of mothers and fathers entering into healthy marriages so that every child is given their birthright — to be raised by their mother and father in a stable, loving home,” he said. “I will stand for the preservation of religious liberty and conscience, to believe what you are called to believe free from persecution.  And I will ensure that the people will have a voice in decisions that impact the rock upon which our civilization is built.”

Santorum also compared the marriage equality ruling to Dred Scott at that time.

“Now is the people’s opportunity respond because the future of the institution of marriage is too important to not have a public debate,” he said. “The Court is one of three co-equal branches of government and, just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record. The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices.”

For more GOP debate coverage, visit our liveblog.

 

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Kate Clinton, Edie Windsor and LGBT Supporters Talk Equality (AUDIO)

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In the conclusion of my exclusive two part audio montage series I talked with LGBT lawyers, activists and allies at the annual Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Summer Party at the Pilgrim Monument and Museum in Provincetown, Massachusetts. This has been an epic year to celebrate especially with the historic Supreme Court marriage equality ruling but we still have a lot more work to do and this work needs to be funded. There was a silent auction at the event and our favorite political humorist Kate Clinton returned as auctioneer extraordinaire raising $ 160,000 for GLAD. Then I talked to Elyse Cherry who is CEO of Boston Community Capital and served as a board member of GLAD in the 1990’s when the marriage battle began 20 years ago. Cherry hopes that our LGBT community builds on the momentum of the historic Supreme Court ruling and LGBT candidates run for political office throughout the nation. Then I chatted with Gary Buseck GLAD’s Legal Director who has been involved with GLAD in various capacities for more than 35 years including serving as Executive Director from 1997 to January, 2004. Gary talked about celebrating the wonderful progress GLAD has achieved so far and ready to move to the next level of LGBT equality which include national nondiscrimination protections for our community. He is especially concerned about our LGBT youth’s safety in and out of the school and religious liberty issues.

LISTEN:

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Next I chatted with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey who is the first openly gay state attorney general elected in America. Maura talked about celebrating the work GLAD has done advancing equality across the country. When asked about what she would you like to see happen for LGBT equality in the next few years Healey talked about advancing transgender protections, safety for LGBT young people and ensuring LGBT seniors’ healthcare and nursing home protections. Then Dianne Phillips, GLAD’s Board of Directors President talked about what’s on the agenda for the organization including their current lawsuit Jacqueline Cote, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. where Wal-Mart has violated the federal Civil Rights Act by discriminating against Jacqueline Cote based on her sex.
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When I asked Kate Clinton about her spin on recent advancements for our LGBT community she joked that you can always judge our success by backlash that’s already happening by our opponents. Kate also reminded me that although we can now legally marry in all 50 states our community can still be fired in 30 of those states where sexual orientation is not protected and how the national Equality Act needs to pass to finally end LGBT discrimination. Next I chatted with Robert Four who has been involved in the marriage movement since the late 1990’s. Robert stated he would like to see comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation across the country that would ensure housing and job security for our LGBT community. Then I spoke to artist Barbara Cohen who has supported GLAD for years and also strives to see equality across the board for our LGBT community. Barbara attended the Summer Party with marriage icon Edie Windsor who she graciously introduced me to. Edie told me she was at the event because GLAD began the whole marriage movement. Windsor had one request and that was to stop using the term “same-sex marriage.” I agree with Edie 100%. For over ten years I have been trying to educate the heterosexual and LGBT community to not use the term that was conceived by Karl Rove the former White House Deputy Chief of Staff during the George W. Bush administration to raise a red flag with the religious right by using the word “sex” in describing our LGBT community. When mainstream media uses this term all you can hear is the redundancy of the word sex. When asked what she would like to see happen for LGBT equality in the next few years Edie added she would like to see LGBT homeless kids who statistically account for 50% of all homeless youth to be off the streets and receive the love and support they deserve just for being themselves. She concluded by saying she was pleased to see the progress happening for trans people in this country and hopes to see rights for not just gender but gender identity.
(Photos by Marilyn Rosen)
For More Info: glad.org

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Emma Watson Talks Fashion and Gender Equality With British ‘Vogue’


As if you needed another reason to love her.

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A Letter To My Uncle Who Isn’t Dealing Well With SCOTUS’ Marriage Equality Decision

Last week, a relative reached out on his own accord to assure me that although he disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, he still loved and respected me as a gay family member. Drawing on my own experiences growing up in the Church, our collective family history, and my eventual coming out in a conservative religious culture, I sent the following response to him.

Dear Uncle G,

Your letter expressing your love and respect for me even though you disagree with the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling speaks to the heart of our current national dialogue regarding marriage equality and civil rights, specifically within religious communities and families. Please indulge me as I respond.

Within the Church, we are taught that we can (and should) “love the sinner and hate the sin.” In doing so, people of faith disassociate themselves from any harm or accountability to those whose identity is deemed inherently “sinful,” specifically: gay people. My understanding when I attended church was as follows:

If we can accept someone and yet not accept their “sin,” we’re effectively demonstrating love while still not condoning sinful behavior. Any confusion or hard feelings from outsiders due to this practice are misplaced. We’re merely maintaining God’s will on earth and adhering to His instructions as to how we should live. If our actions translate to prohibitive politics, reformative therapy, or the repression and rejection of someone’s identity, the church bears no responsibility for simply carrying out what we’ve been instructed to do. Furthermore, as sinners ourselves, we recognize that we all have to work to achieve salvation and it’s not on us to water down what is required of us as followers of Christ. Any dissension from those on the outside is often an instance of persecution for our faith.

Here’s the truth: that’s not the case. To ascribe to as much essentially passes the buck for some severely damaging policies and attitudes. Whatever the genuine, faith-based intentions of the church have been over the last five decades, their actions through anti-gay marriage campaigning and legislation have been inarguably prohibitive, discriminatory, and scathing to the American gay community.

During the decades in which churches have claimed to uphold a “standard” by campaigning and asserting the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman (even regardless of sexual persuasion), countless gay men, women, and couples have been shut out and left federally unrecognized. They’ve paid higher taxes than married couples with comparable assets, have been denied medical benefits, willfully withheld from visiting their partners in the hospital due to the fact that they aren’t “family,” and experienced countless inequalities on a consistent and massive scale.

Furthermore, the gay community has suffered an extraordinary amount of persecution and violence towards them in a country that bears responsibility for as much by consistently denying gays rights and, therefore, basic human value. Compounding that violence, churches have passionately preached and characterized gay folk as harmful, synonymous with pedophiles, and in danger of hell no matter what their personal actions demonstrate. Lastly, churches have ruthlessly preached the fearful ideology that legalizing gay marriage will rob America of its morals and values and fundamentally compromise the American family structure.

I alternately witnessed and felt every one of these examples in my childhood. When my parents told me at the age of eight that Uncle John was gay and had AIDS, it was intensely confusing and traumatizing to try to experience John’s love, affection, gifted nature, and presence in my life, yet have the legitimacy of that called immediately into question because of what I had been negatively taught about gay people as a child in church. Thankfully, my parents chose to keep my brother and I close to John until the end, as tragic as it was. However, after John’s death, you can imagine my sheer terror when my first substantial attractions leaned towards the other boys at school. This is not okay, I told myself. What have I done wrong? I felt betrayed by my own body, worthless, that I had done something terrible to cause these feelings which had to be rectified, and, of course, that I was in danger of hell. I hadn’t yet turned thirteen.

To make matters worse, just a few months after John’s passing our church began holding intensely emotional and distraught “Town Hall” meetings during Sunday night services in response to local petitions from gay men and women seeking legal recognition as couples (not even marriage, at that point). During these meetings, our leaders vehemently warned the congregation that this petition heralded the church’s darkest hour: that the passage of such laws would bring an assault on the church, hail the end of morals and values, and that the church MUST stand in the way of such destructive legislation. This only struck further terror into me and intensified my self-loathing.

School was no better: Taunted for being artistic and effeminate (the latter I effectively beat out of myself by high school), I received consistent harassment both physically and verbally for being “gay.” Truly, from school, to church, to John’s horrific death, there was no worse thing to be called or to be. And even, John, I wondered, did he bring this on himself? Was his death God’s punishment for being gay? Did his extraordinary mind, talent, his noteworthy contributions to the computer industry, generosity, love, and struggle with his identity not count for something in the eyes of God…?

Guess not.

After a painful and confused adolescence with some pretty self-destructive behavior, I moved into the present. The world finally opened up to me as I came out. To say “opened up” does not mean that life became easier, but gradually became clearer as I eventually found the integrity and honesty I thought I could never possess due to my attractions. The precept that I was doomed to a life without integrity because I was gay was the most insidious lie taught to me as a teenager, relentlessly communicated over and over again through church and church-influenced culture.

Much to my relief (and theirs), my immediate family didn’t pull away when I came out. Though we’ve moved through a few issues over time, they’ve got my back. There’s not merely an understanding between us, but a joyful acceptance of my identity. Something I know they’ve been longing for since they felt their own internal struggles with Uncle John when he came out to them in the ’70s. Being gay has become a welcome and celebrated part of me and my nuclear family.

Over time, I witnessed firsthand the frustrations, inequalities, and discriminations fced by my gay friends who were partnered. Gradually, marriage equality passed into legislation state by state and granted the couples in those states with equal rights regardless of their orientation. Few of these gay couples who benefited were religious. They sought a purely legal recognition of their partnership, even refusing to accept “civil unions” which still denied gay couples in certain benefits and rights afforded to those straight couples who were married.

As conservative opposition increasingly mounted from the naysayers in California, and in every state where this swiftly came to the forefront of the political stage, the overriding sentiment among my current community was one of befuddlement and incredulity. “What is their PROBLEM?” we asked. “The majority of us don’t WANT to get married in a church and aren’t TRYING to infringe on anyone else’s rights! MY rights have been infringed upon for the last 10/30/50 years! I want equal standing!”

So finally, after a battle spanning several generations, the Supreme Court cited the Constitution to recognize gay married couples as federally legitimate in all 50 states. Every marriage, regardless of orientation, now receives equal treatment under the law, granting victory to those who have worked tirelessly for their own benefit and the benefit of others for decades. As I walked jubilantly to work that Friday morning, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders that I hadn’t realized was there: I was finally an equal citizen in this country and no longer needed to fear that equality being threatened or taken away.

I took a moment to reflect on Uncle John and his legacy. I thought about the terror and uncertainty he had experienced growing up all the way until his death and considered my own traumatic history. Taking a breath, I reached toward John to share the hope and promise that this landmark decision would eradicate from the experiences of future generations of gay men and women the fears and abuses he had suffered. Nor did those fears hold a part in my story any longer. This ruling not only guarantees us equality, it dignifies and legitimizes us in a way we have not been prior to this moment. Whether marriage is a prospect for any one gay individual or not (and though there are certainly still battles to fight) we are equal and we are free. I thanked John for his and his generation’s part in that.

I know, and have known for some time, that you have not sided with gay Americans on this issue and further, your church has actively campaigned against marriage equality. Knowing this has not affected how I’ve interacted with you or the warmth I’ve shared when seeing you over the last few years. While I’ve not wholly ignored your stance on this issue, I figured a conversation regarding it would happen at the right time. Until such time, I didn’t feel we should hold back any of the love and affection we feel toward each other in the so few times we’re able to visit. I hope none of this will change.

However, I also hope this letter gives light to my confusion when you express that you love and respect me even though you disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision. The SCOTUS ruling, as I’ve detailed it, gives my community and I legal recognition and validation in a way we have never had. It extends my rights, legitimizes me and a prospective partner should we choose to marry, and affords me equal standing with my parents, brother and sister-in-law, likely my nephew, and you.

To hear you say you love me and yet disagree with that is confusing. In fact, as frustrating as it may be to hear, to say as much is discriminatory. That’s not an accusation, it’s a clear-cut fact. You can’t say you love someone (which assumes you want the best for them) and then disagree with a positive movement for their civil rights.

I love you. Sometimes when I visit with extended family on either side, there’s a distance from one or two people that’s never articulated. I can sense they feel awkward due to my sexuality and yet, they want to be warm. As a result, much to their own bewilderment, when they share that they’re proud of me and love me they’re also keeping an emotional distance.

This annoys me. Not because I think less of them for not having it all figured out or because I think they’re stupid, but because they don’t have to feel that way. Their confusion is completely fear-based and obstructs the positive energy they’re naturally trying to express. I’m guessing they’re annoyed, too. Not to mention fearful and sad.

That’s a crime. I should never have felt sweat-inducing fear for Uncle John’s soul at the age of eight and no one should feel fear for me (and you can be sure my nephew won’t feel any such fear, even if I have to strong-arm it). These fears only cause distance, which is needless and tragic. If you hold any of these fears within you, I hope you can find a way to process and move through them because distance isn’t fun, it’s not family, and it’s not necessary. Let me know how I can help.

Thank you for reading. I hope this provides an avenue for further dialogue.

All my love,

Colin

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Here’s Why LGBT Equality Must Be About More Than the U.S.

Like many reading this, I was elated over the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling on June 26. Two days later, Jeff (my partner of 20 years) and I joined friends to celebrate New York’s annual LGBT Pride March. And with the timing of the court’s decision, you could feel the hope among the millions of participants marching down Fifth Avenue.

Our joy was colored, however, by the news coming out of Istanbul where activists had tried to celebrate LGBT Pride several hours before New York’s march kicked off. And where attendees were met by riot police armed with water cannons, rubber bullets, and pepper spray. While we were toasting the marriage victory with our mimosas held high here in the U.S., our counterparts in Turkey were running for their very lives.

People who support and work at various points in our movement have been trying to anticipate how our movement should evolve after this historic milestone.

As we go forward, the movement’s agenda in the U.S. includes a number of clear priorities, including employment nondiscrimination, still lacking in the 29 states where a person can be fired on the basis of their sexual orientation. The number of states is even higher (32) for transgender people in search of a secure and stable job.

But we also have to be concerned about countering so-called “religious liberty” legislation being passed in states like Indiana, giving a free pass to those who want to undermine laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination.

These issues are familiar to anyone who has been reading the news headlines following the Supreme Court ruling. Unfortunately, support for LGBT activists abroad has not found its place on that agenda. It’s almost as if our concern for the lives of LGBT people ends at our nation’s shores.

So allow me to go on record by stating: We in the U.S. are not, in fact, the world. We need to cure our movement of its myopia and remember that justice for the LGBT community is a global cause, spreading far beyond our borders.

LGBT activists around the world have repeatedly asked us to support their work to improve such dire circumstances. We need to answer their call.

And yet, I have often heard the argument among LGBT activists here in the States that we already have enough on our plates. We can’t afford to divert our attention elsewhere for fear the U.S. movement will lose its own momentum.

I call bull. And I don’t think many of those asserting that argument fully understand the magnitude of the fatal consequences of inaction.

In more than 75 countries worldwide, you can be arrested simply on the basis of your sexual orientation. These countries have a collective population of over 3 billion — nine times the number of people living in the U.S. and almost 43 percent of the world’s population. In eight of those countries, it’s perfectly legal to be sentenced to death for being gay or lesbian.

I would encourage you to take a moment to reflect on those numbers.

Do you remember the old American Express slogan “Membership has its privileges”? The catchy saying referred to an exclusive set of benefits not available to other credit cardholders. LGBT Americans are similarly entitled to a long list of benefits granted to us through citizenship — usually obtained by the total accident of birth — and increasingly recognized by the institutions that govern our lives.

But these privileges come with the moral obligation for us to help others who by no accident of birth and no fault of their own do not share our good fortune. The LGBT movement here in the States is part of a larger and, sadly, more difficult world for LGBT people. We must see justice in global terms and do our part to ensure others abroad are afforded the same kind of freedoms in their own communities that we here increasingly take for granted.

I recently accompanied Arcus’ trustees on a trip to Africa where we were invited to meet some of the 300 LGBT activists from across the continent who had gathered at a regional conference in Kenya. We left deeply affected by the passionate leaders we met who are leading LGBT activism on a continent that remains both largely misunderstood and nearly completely unfunded. In a world as connected and integrated as ours, there’s simply no excuse for either of those facts.

We cannot and should not turn a blind eye to the grim realities that affect so many LGBT people around the world.

All of us here in the States — individuals, organizations, and funders — can leverage our influence and connections so that LGBT activists abroad can benefit from a broader range of support to achieve their goals. The question is: Will we?

Learn more about Arcus’ Social Justice program and how it works to ensure that individuals and families around the world of every sexual orientation and gender identity are able to live their lives with dignity and respect, and express their love and sense of self.

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After Marriage Equality, What Will We Create Next?

After Obergefell v. Hodges, the first decision from the Supreme Court of the United States that broadly affirms the lives of lesbian and gay people and provides us with vital recognition for our intimate relationships, many national organizations and leaders quickly pivoted from marriage equality to workplace and public accommodation protections. The stark reality that a gay or lesbian person could marry in the morning, be fired in the afternoon and evicted from an apartment or restaurant in the evening, echoed across my screen as people shared these messages on social media.

I support federal legislation to protect LGBT people at work and in public, of course, and I recognize how crucial federal legislation is for people who do not live in states or cities that already provide these protections. At the same time, I want time to take a deep breath and savor marriage equality before moving to the next national issue.

The struggle to recognize loving, committed relationships of same-sex partners has been a long struggle. While Justice Scalia’s words in the Lawrence v. Texas dissent in 2003 portended this victory in 2015, gay men and lesbians have been talking about relationship recognition for decades. Before Genora Dancel and Ninia Baehr in Hawaii, there was Jack Baker and Michael McConnell in Minnesota; before them, there were discussions about marriage in The Ladder and One Magazine, and before that, there were other gay men and lesbians thinking about how their relationships could be recognized in the worlds where they lived. Lesbians and gay men have imagined the day when they could be fully, completely, and legally married for a long time–decades, even centuries. Savoring the decision honors the work and dreams of those who came before us.

Savoring the decision also gives us space and time to recognize the importance of imagination and creativity in our movements for social change. How do we create and promote communities that value imagination and creativity? How do we nurture the minds and spirits of people who help us imagine a different world and defy the conventions of the day to envision this new world and take steps to create it? How do we affirm the significance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender creative production? In particular, how do we carve out space for queer creativity amid increasing mainstreaming of LGBT people and identities? Thinking about and answering these questions is as urgent as workplace and public accommodation protections. Without imagination and creativity, our community cannot envision the changes we want to see. From our creativity, from our imagination, come the visions of the worlds we might create.

Imagination transforms worlds. Nurturing imagination and creativity is crucial. What can we do to nurture LGBTQ imaginations? How can we envision worlds where LGBTQ people can live and thrive? Considering these questions and answering these questions are an important part of our political worlds today. The imagination of a world transformed, the imagination of a world with marriage equality helped to create the world that we have today. How can we ensure that imagination and creativity are a part of the forefront of LGBTQ communities as we move forward?

Yes, attorneys and legal strategists were crucial to marriage equality. Yes, we need political strategies to win new federal, state, and local victories that make the daily lives of lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and transgender people better. We also need transformative imaginative capacities in our community. I want to hold space for creativity and imagination in our new world where organizations and individuals reorganize their priorities after marriage equality.

My greatest hope is that new resources will flow to organizations that build and celebrate LGBT culture in the aftermath of marriage equality. Tending to our culture, building on the rich and vibrant cultural tradition of LGBTQ communities, promoting queer creativity and imagination is for me an opportunity for LGBTQ people in this new world of marriage equality.

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It’s Time for Blood Donation Equality, Too

For several decades, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused to accept any blood donations whatsoever from “men who have sex with men (MSM)” – in other words, gay and bisexual men. Amidst the growing criticism of this ethically and scientifically unjustifiable ban, the FDA recently released a proposal to modify it. Yet this proposal, which would allow only celibate MSM to donate blood, is essentially just as bad as the original policy.

Fortunately, the same public activism that drove the marriage equality movement can move us towards blood donation equality as well. Proponents of LGBT rights can advance this cause, for example, by submitting a public comment on the FDA’s proposal by July 14.

The FDA has received 189 comments as of this writing; let’s shoot for at least 500. You can submit your comment here. My comment, which you are free to copy or modify as you see fit, is below:

I am writing to express concern about the proposed revision to your blood donor deferral criteria for gay and bisexual men (MSM). Our knowledge of HIV transmission and the experience of other countries in adopting safe, reliable, and nondiscriminatory donor eligibility criteria indicate that a one-year deferral, while marginally better than the lifetime deferral currently in place, would continue to stigmatize gay men without improving the safety of the blood supply.

While the prevalence of HIV is higher among MSM than among the general population, an individual’s risk of contracting HIV from sexual contact depends both on the probability that a sexual partner has HIV and the probability that HIV will be transmitted through a given type of sexual contact. As a result, many individuals who engage in unprotected heterosexual intercourse with multiple partners have a greater risk of contracting HIV than gay or bisexual men who use protection, especially if those gay or bisexual men are in committed relationships.

In fact, the BloodDROPS study you commissioned found rates of HIV prevalence among MSM blood donors lower than rates of HIV prevalence seen in the general population. These results suggest that MSM who engage in riskier sexual behaviors already abstain from donation, and that they would continue to do so if provided with a more appropriately-constructed questionnaire.

I strongly urge you to strike items IX and X from your recommendations for an updated donor history questionnaire. I also urge you to strike the footnote that puts “anal, oral, or vaginal sex, regardless of whether or not a condom or other protection is used,” into the same category. Those items could be replaced with the following recommendations for deferral in the DHQ:

1. A history in the past twelve months of anal sex with multiple partners or of unprotected anal sex,

2. A history in the past twelve months of unprotected vaginal sex with multiple partners.

Making this change would not require new resources. It would preserve blood safety, end the FDA’s discrimination against gay and bisexual men, and improve the educational value of donor education material. And it would also bring the US policy in line with policies in place in Mexico, Spain, and Italy. A recent study of Italy’s policy, instituted in 2001, found that the country maintained the integrity of its blood supply after it discarded its ban on MSM in favor of unprejudiced deferral criteria.

I believe ending deferral based on sexual orientation entirely is the only way to simultaneously avoid discrimination, preserve the safety of the blood supply, and maintain the FDA’s credibility. Thank you very much in advance for considering my proposed revision.

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We’ve Laid the Foundation for Equality: Here’s What’s Next

The Supreme Court’s decision granting all Americans the freedom to marry instantly made me think fondly back to the day I wed, which was one of the happiest days of my life and incredibly meaningful to my daughter and our family. Now, young people like her — especially lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth — will grow up in a country where they can marry the person they love and where they are equal under the law — something so many of us never dreamed possible in our lifetimes.

As the Executive Director of Equality Federation, the strategic partner to the state-based equality movement, I am humbled by my role in the decades long struggle to push love to the forefront and win equality, one step at a time. But, we are not done.

The ruling solidified the foundation: now we have to build the house.

More heavy lifting is needed to achieve our vision of a world free of all forms of discrimination: a world without racism; a world without violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people; a world where everyone has the health care they need; and a world where all of us are able to live without the fear of being fired from our jobs or kicked out of our homes simply for being who we are.

As the LGBT movement charts its path forward, we should reflect on how we got here. The pathway to this historic victory felt long and arduous, but in the arc of history was quite short. We learned and adapted quickly as the public began to support our families.

Equality Federation was formed to partner with the state-based equality organizations. So much of the national progress we see today began with efforts at the local and state level. Examples abound. MassEquality became the first organization to lead an effort that resulted in a super-majority of state legislators supporting the freedom to marry. Equality Maryland made history when they led a successful campaign to win marriage equality at the ballot box. Equality California showed great courage in the Proposition 8 battle, and the many lessons learned from that valiant effort continue to inform our work.

State-based equality groups throughout the country worked tirelessly — amplifying the heartwarming stories of couples, lobbying legislatures and so much more — alongside the legal teams who fought marriage bans in the courts and brought down the Defense of Marriage Act. Our community owes enormous gratitude to all these organizations and, of course, the thousands of people who participated in the lawsuits, campaigns, lobbying, canvassing and storytelling.

We also honor all of the couples and families who simply lived their lives openly and authentically day in and day out, even when it was uncomfortable or dangerous. There are insights to be gleaned from the aunt who held signs at her local farmer’s market or the college student who collected signatures on campus.

In order to harness the momentum of this great win, it will be important to remember that equality is not achieved by relying solely on one person, organization or strategy. We found success by collaborating and sharing lessons learned in unprecedented ways, and that is what we must continue to do in order to ensure all Americans are protected from discrimination.

In the coming months, Equality Federation will continue working with our partners in the state-based equality movement — with even more vigor — to pass over 30 statewide nondiscrimination laws to include protections for LGBT people, and to struggle against racism, violence and injustice.

As during the early days of the marriage movement, many people are already doing their part. People have been sharing their stories of being fired from their jobs and kicked out of their homes simply for being who they are. Leaders in towns big and small are passing nondiscrimination ordinances. Now is not the time to rest — coming off of the marriage victory — we need to push forward so that no one is left behind.

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Love Wins Again – SCOTUS’ Marriage Equality Case Movie On Its Way

Hollywood will adapt the true story of Jim Obergefell, whose fight for equal marital rights changed the nation.
News

What Evan Wolfson and Marriage Equality Have Done for the People Who Despise Them

At a moment when Marriage Equality has become national law, albeit by the slimmest of margins, (and, thank you Justice Kennedy), LGBTQI folk and our allies would be moronic not to realize how harrowing is this decision for millions who don’t share our belief in what is now deemed to be a Constitutionally guaranteed right. Revolted by their visualizations of what same-sex unions mean, and haunted by unreal notions, including that we will soon agitate for the freedom to marry dogs, they spin their wheels in an effort to comprehend what has happened to a country they thought they understood as one explicitly defined by the Bible.

In fact, what “the father of marriage equality” Evan Wolfson and his colleague, Mark Solomon, (among others who worked at Freedom to Marry) have done is to make the nation stronger. Though our adversaries don’t yet realize it, this transformation of consciousness will be perceived much in the same light as the 1919 law granting women the right to vote. Or the momentous Civil Rights — and Voting Rights — legislation which LBJ passed, thereby enfranchising African Americans. Both advances were epochal; both had been met with stout resistance; in both cases, the losing side bewailed the future of the United States, as previously received.

As previously received….

Therein lies their fallacy and the same blunder which opponents of Marriage Equality make today. For in these movements towards “a more perfect union” postulated by the Constitution, the Republic and its people make actual progress. In the process, of course, old givens are recycled; that which was known — a received wisdom, oftentimes never questioned — are subjected to new inquiry. It is the never-ending quality of regeneration at the heart of the American Experiment: our willingness to start over, to cast aside the unworthy or the unworkable and put our shoulders to the wheel in the service of a finer and more compassionate Whole. And this is the very essence of healthy democracy.

One side doesn’t necessarily have to degrade or shame the other for being tardy. As Lao Tze wrote 2500 years ago, “If one leads, another must follow.” It is the law of Nature; it’s also human nature — to grow and stretch, expand and put aside the archaic in favor of what meets the reality of the Present.

This is where we are as a People: in the Present.

The gift which Evan Wolfson, Mark Solomon and their colleagues at Freedom to Marry bestowed upon the nation is to help harness a huge and still-expanding recognition of humanness. And human diversity. In its way, it is as stunning an achievement as the Emancipation Proclamation or the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education. As a civil people, we have the right to expect leaders to lead; legislators to legislate; and courts to rule. This is the usually difficult, oftentimes infuriating, way in which our system plays out. That some will bridle is to be expected. But, in due course, they certainly will come to appreciate that what makes us truly strong isn’t our weaponry. Our power — true power — lies in our character. Some may call it virtue. I do. But in leading us to this wider embrace of our own citizens, irrespective of superficial differences, the patriots who ushered this issue forward brought us into the moment, reminded us of whom, and what, we are and renewed our collective sense of Self.

They are heroes.

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What Was It Like to Be at the Supreme Court When the Marriage Equality Judgement Was Announced?

What was it like at the Supreme Court when the marriage equality judgment was announced?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Answer by Stephanie Vardavas

I arrived at the Supreme Court building at about 9:25 and waded directly into the crowd. It was a big crowd. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of people. The mood was very festive. Many people had brought their kids and even their little dogs. People were reasonably confident of a positive decision but still a little wary. Everyone was friendly and animated. People were handing out little flags from the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU, "Proud to be a Democrat" stickers, signs that read "America is Ready," and rainbow buttons with President Obama on them. Chatted with the woman next to me, who had brought her teenaged daughter. She said she was from “the reddest, most horrible part of Michigan, but I hope soon that won’t matter anymore.”

There was a lot of jovial speculation about what Justice Scalia's dissent might be like.

MSNBC estimated at least a 10:1 ratio between supporters and opponents of same sex marriage in the crowd. I would peg it at more like 20:1 or even 25:1 or 30:1. There was one guy in a black t-shirt covered with Biblical references to Sodom and Gomorrah. The vast majority of the crowd were gay rights supporters who were there in the hope of seeing justice done. Several of them were Christians with colorful signs proclaiming their support for marriage equality.

In addition to the two above I saw other people with signs that said things like "I'm an Evangelical for Marriage Equality."

There was a guy with a giant homemade sign collage proclaiming that the wages of sin are death, and that HIV/AIDS are God's wrath. There were a few other "Christian" demonstrators but they disappeared relatively quickly after the decision came out.

A minute or two after 10 am we saw "the running of the interns" carrying copies of the decision and dissents to the various TV reporters waiting at their setups on the sidewalk. At about this time somebody who had been able to load SCOTUSblog on his phone started shouting, "We won! 5 to 4!" Everyone started cheering and hugging.

I was standing next to about 20 guys in identical blue t-shirts, who turned out to be the DC Gay Men's Chorus, and just a minute or two later they began to sing the national anthem. Everyone around me joined in. We were all singing the national anthem and by the end of it I was crying like a baby. I am almost 59 years old and in my whole life I have never been prouder to be an American.

Gay Men's Chorus of Washington

They followed it up with a wonderful song called "Make Them Hear You," about fighting for justice. I cried some more.

I started wandering around, listening to snippets of the various standup reports being done by the TV news people, taking pictures for groups of people who wanted to get pictures with the Supreme Court building in the background. I was interviewed by a reporter and cameraperson from ThinkProgress and while I haven't seen the video I believe I was reasonably coherent, although I'm sure my eyes were still full. I'll post it here if I ever find it online.

The Gay Men's Chorus started singing again. They repeated the national anthem and "Make Them Hear You," then added "The Impossible Dream," which was incredibly moving, and then they sang some modified lyrics to "We Shall Overcome." "We shall marry free / we shall marry free / we shall marry free today…"

I never got close enough to hear any of the remarks by the plaintiffs, their counsel, or the lawyers representing the other side. But we had set our TiVo to record MSNBC from 10 am till noon, and I was able to watch that after I got back.

This decision was exceptionally meaningful for me because my old friend Evan Wolfson is the godfather of the marriage equality movement. He is the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, and spoke today on MSNBC about his plan to unwind the organization now that it has achieved its objective.  We've been friends for almost 40 years and I'm so proud of him that I could burst.

Stephanie Vardavas' answer to Who is your favorite LGBT person and why?

tl;dr It was amazing.

More questions on Quora:

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The Welcome Challenges of Marriage Equality

For some time now, my spouse and I have been bickering over where we should live in our retirement years. She, being a child from the South, and me, being from the North, well, we have our tensions. I have jokingly dubbed them our “Mason-Dixon line feud.” We are not stretching our imaginations much to feel some of the same concerns our enslaved ancestors must have encountered as they considered the free states up North.

My spouse is tied to the weather of the South — a moist, subtropical climate with sultry summers. I like the four seasons of the North, but could live in autumn all year round.

During particularly heated battles, I have questioned if her desire to live in Georgia was worth living in a state that didn’t recognize our marriage. Our marriage would be de facto dissolved.

Our ongoing exhaustive argument gained a new complication (in my mind, at least) with last week’s historic Supreme Court ruling — Obergefell v. Hodge — that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was once again the swing vote on this tough ruling. Kennedy wrote all recent decisions protecting LGBTQ rights, including the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas — which struck down sodomy laws that targeted gay men; and the 2013 US v. Windsor — recognizing and providing federal benefits to same-sex married couple in states where their marriages were legal. His argument last week was Loving v. Virginia (1967) redux, showing how these two historic struggles for marriage equality are interconnected.

Of course, I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision. It would have been both wrong-hearted and wrong-headed to rule otherwise.

But with victory comes backlash. This change in law will not come easy. A movement is already afoot with a 50-state plan to pass “Religious Freedom Restoration” acts to roll back progress.

As the country battles this issue on a new front, we should hold on to Thomas Jefferson‘s words about how change is required for progress:

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But . . . laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.”

Same-sex marriage is of our times. And it’s democracy at its best.

I understand democracy to be an ongoing process, where people are part of a participatory government working to dismantle all existing discriminatory laws truncating their full participation in society.

But democracy can only begin to work when those relegated to the fringes of society can sample what those in society take for granted as their inalienable rights. The right to marry regardless of a couple’s sexual orientation or gender identity is now one of them. How wonderful to know that a same-sex couple in Mississippi has the same right to marry as someone here in Massachusetts.

Back to the challenge in my home: My spouse is all smiles now with this new ruling. She has been doing what I call “nicey nicey,” which is her way of using charm to wear down my recalcitrant stance on issues.

In celebration of Obergefell v. Hodge we went out for drinks at Legal Sea Foods in Harvard Square. While enjoying the evening summer breeze, my spouse said we could have this experience all year if we moved to a milder climate.

I snapped back and said, “I ain’t moving to Georgia!”

And that’s what marriage equality looks like.

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Celebrate Love and Equality at Pride Music Festival in San Diego

2015-07-02-1435876581-6502834-Pride.jpg

The art of change is one that occurs slowly, its early brushstrokes seemingly unclear except to the eyes of its believers. As the painting becomes more complete, a vision begins to materialize, a vision that many saw all along. When true change finally occurs, a masterpiece is unveiled. The United States of America has seen many changes over the past decade, but one of the most colorfully celebrated is the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage a constitutional right (which it always has been) nationwide.

Pride celebrations began long before this ruling and will continue on long after. However, the timing is impeccable as the pride celebrations are just a little more special this time around. San Diego Pride is proud to present Pride Music Festival, the San Diego region’s biggest and most grandiose music festival celebrating diversity and equality. This epic event will unite over 40,000 people over two days from across the nation to celebrate, rejoice, dance, and of course, share love.

In addition to being a massive city-wide party, this event also supports dozens of charitable organizations and has raised and donated over $ 2 million over the years. The surrounding neighborhoods as well as the city and county of San Diego have long supported Pride Music Festival because of its respectful and excellent reputation for safety. Among many other things, Pride Music Festival will feature an open-air art gallery, food trucks, craft beers, spirits and more than 200 exhibitor and vendor booths. There is also a VIP section available which offers a VIP entrance, restrooms, catered food, and four hosted drinks each day.

Providing the pulse of Pride Music Festival will be five electronic and live music stages sprinkled amid the lush greenery of San Diego’s Balboa Park during the weekend of July 18th-19th. The recently unveiled lineup includes current dance, pop, hip-hop, Latin and many other genres of music such as Emma Hewitt, Late Night Alumni, Mary Lambert, Ruby Rose, Pierce Fulton and Taryn Manning, just to name a few. Even Carmen Electra will be showing her support by hosting the mainstage on day 1, keeping attendees rallied.

The 2015 theme is “Liberty and Justice For All,” a true call-to-action for equality not just in the U.S., but globally. “It’s a memorable experience to unite with thousands of people, taking pride in who you are and celebrating each other,” said executive director Stephen Whitburn. “Pride Music Festival is for everyone.”

Music festivals are currently one of the strongest uniting forces in popular culture. Combining the unity of a music festival and the power of the Pride movement creates a unique and unforgettable experience that will keep this event alive for years to come. Pride Music Festival 2015 will not only be an epic party, but a beautiful moment in history shared even by those who cannot attend. It will represent a time when the voices of millions were finally heard, where full acceptance and equality are not just possible but necessary, and when an entire nation finally shares this same freedom. Under the warm San Diego sun, humans will dance and celebrate together united beneath the banner of love.

Website & Tickets: www.pridemusicfestival.org/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ThePrideMusicFestival

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George Takei Calls Justice Clarence Thomas A ‘Clown In Blackface’ Over Marriage Equality Dissent

George Takei has come under fire this week for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “clown in blackface” over the judge’s stance on marriage equality. However, the “Star Trek” actor insists that his comment was not racially motivated.

During an interview with Fox 10 Phoenix, Takei, who is gay, discussed the Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Takei said he was “angry” at Thomas, who dissented to the decision, for his position on the issue.

“He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court,” said Takei. “He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there.”

In his dissent, Thomas, who is black, wrote that “human dignity cannot be taken away by the government,” adding: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”

Takei, whose family was held inside a Japanese internment camp during World War II, took issue with this logic.

“For him to say slaves have dignity, I mean, doesn’t he know that slaves were in chains? That they were whipped on the back?” Takei said. “My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives, in their 30s. His business, my father’s business, our home, our freedom and we’re supposed to call that dignified?… This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”

In the wake of the interview, Takei has been slammed for what has been called a “racist” comment — an accusation that the 78-year-old fiercely rejects.

On Thursday, he wrote on Facebook:

A few fans have written wondering whether I intended to utter a racist remark by referring to Justice Thomas as a "clown…

Posted by George Takei on Thursday, July 2, 2015

Takei elaborated on his thoughts in a op-ed for MSNBC.

“To say that the government does not bestow or grant dignity does not mean it cannot succeed in stripping it away through the imposition of unequal laws and deprivation of due process. At the very least, the government must treat all its subjects with equal human dignity,” he wrote. “It seems odd that Justice Thomas, as an African American, would be an opponent of marriage equality. His own current marriage, if he had sought to have it some fifty years ago, would have been illegal under then-existing anti-miscegenation laws. I cannot help but wonder if Justice Thomas would have felt any loss of dignity had the clerk’s office doors been shut in his face, simply because he was of a different race than his fiancée.”

Thomas is married to attorney Virginia Thomas, who is white.

William Shatner, who has been known to “feud” with Takei online, defended his “Star Trek” co-star on Twitter.

In October 2008, a few months after California became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage (and a few weeks before Proposition 8 made it illegal again), Takei and his longtime partner Brad Altman tied the knot in Los Angeles.

The couple have been together for almost 30 years.

Watch Takei’s interview with Fox 10 below:

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George Takei Calls Justice Clarence Thomas A ‘Clown In Blackface’ Over Marriage Equality Dissent

George Takei has come under fire this week for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “clown in blackface” over the judge’s stance on marriage equality. However, the “Star Trek” actor insists that his comment was not racially motivated.

During an interview with Fox 10 Phoenix, Takei, who is gay, discussed the Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Takei said he was “angry” at Thomas, who dissented to the decision, for his position on the issue.

“He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court,” said Takei. “He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there.”

In his dissent, Thomas, who is black, wrote that “human dignity cannot be taken away by the government,” adding: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”

Takei, whose family was held inside a Japanese internment camp during World War II, took issue with this logic.

“For him to say slaves have dignity, I mean, doesn’t he know that slaves were in chains? That they were whipped on the back?” Takei said. “My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives, in their 30s. His business, my father’s business, our home, our freedom and we’re supposed to call that dignified?… This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”

In the wake of the interview, Takei has been slammed for what has been called a “racist” comment — an accusation that the 78-year-old fiercely rejects.

On Thursday, he wrote on Facebook:

A few fans have written wondering whether I intended to utter a racist remark by referring to Justice Thomas as a "clown…

Posted by George Takei on Thursday, July 2, 2015

Takei elaborated on his thoughts in a op-ed for MSNBC.

“To say that the government does not bestow or grant dignity does not mean it cannot succeed in stripping it away through the imposition of unequal laws and deprivation of due process. At the very least, the government must treat all its subjects with equal human dignity,” he wrote. “It seems odd that Justice Thomas, as an African American, would be an opponent of marriage equality. His own current marriage, if he had sought to have it some fifty years ago, would have been illegal under then-existing anti-miscegenation laws. I cannot help but wonder if Justice Thomas would have felt any loss of dignity had the clerk’s office doors been shut in his face, simply because he was of a different race than his fiancée.”

Thomas is married to attorney Virginia Thomas, who is white.

William Shatner, who has been known to “feud” with Takei online, defended his “Star Trek” co-star on Twitter.

In October 2008, a few months after California became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage (and a few weeks before Proposition 8 made it illegal again), Takei and his longtime partner Brad Altman tied the knot in Los Angeles.

The couple have been together for almost 30 years.

Watch Takei’s interview with Fox 10 below:

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This Woman Refuses To Shave Her Armpits, And Gender Equality Is Only Part Of It

More and more women are refusing to shave their armpits — and resisting patriarchal beauty standards in the process.

Loyola University of Chicago student Bobby Crowley, who stopped shaving her underarms a few years ago, spoke to the double standard men and women face when it comes to their body hair in a conversation with HuffPost Live.

“It’s not just a body image thing, but it’s also a gender thing,” she said. “This is very clearly a gendered prescription that has been put upon women, whereas men are walking around and no one expects them to shave their armpits, obviously. People will talk about it like it’s a hygiene thing, but really it’s a gender thing. It’s absolutely only prescribed only to women, and there’s no way that women are any messier than [men], that’s for sure.”

While Lizzie Crocker, a staff writer at The Daily Beast, told HuffPost Live’s Nancy Redd that unshaven pits have become “inextricably linked to feminism,” Crowley said her choice to stop shaving was simply a personal one.

“Most importantly for me, when I started, it wasn’t about a movement. It wasn’t about anyone but myself. I would shave [my armpits] and they would be bleeding,” she said. “And really the reason I stopped is because I sort of looked at myself and said, I’m literally hurting myself every day because I have really sensitive skin.”

When she stepped back and questioned why she had been shaving every day, she had an epiphany.

“[I was not shaving] for me. It was a worry that when I lift my arms, I’m going to be shamed for having made a decision about my body that doesn’t go with how other people feel,” she said. “And that, to me, was most important.”

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about the female armpit hair movement here.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

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Stars React To Marriage Equality Ruling & Blake Shelton’s NASCAR News

Stars react to Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality. Plus, Blake Shelton’s ‘Bringing Back The Sunshine’ kicks off NBC’s coverage of NASCAR, which begins July 4 weekend.


Access Hollywood Latest Videos

A Photographer Lost A Client For Supporting Marriage Equality. His Response Shows Why #LoveWins

A photographer in Florida says he lost a client after he showed his support online for marriage equality. His response to the situation has won him legions of fans.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide last week, Clinton Brentwood Lee of Brentwood Photography took to Facebook to show his support for the decision, changing his profile picture and cover photo.

Lee says a client later contacted him to say that they would no longer be “using [his] services” for their upcoming wedding.

“My fiancé and I support traditional marriage between a man and a woman and don’t want to our money going to places that supports otherwise [sic],” the client allegedly wrote.

The photographer shared a screenshot of the exchange on Facebook Saturday, with the caption: “Lost a client for supporting gay marriage. But that’s ok! We love everyone, even this now former client who may not have liked our reply. Lol.”

This was Lee’s full response to the client:

Wow, I’m not really sure what to say here. I would say this disappoints me, but I actually find this to be a good thing because our company now would now not like to work with you as well.

It’s not that because you have a different view from us, but it’s because, since you don’t like an support gay marriage, no one else should be able to have it. That’s like me not liking broccoli, and demanding that everyone else in the world should not have broccoli either! If you’re not in favor of gay marriage that’s fine, don’t marry a woman.

Personally, I was taught not to judge others and to love everyone else. So I will try not to judge you here and say anything more as to my opinion of you.

At Brentwood Photography we see love in all forms. Now as far as your retainer goes, I hope you’ll read the first article in the contract you signed stating that this retainer is nonrefundable.

But don’t you worry, I’m not going to keep it!

Because of this conversation, I have decided to donate your $ 1500 to GLAAD [the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation], a group created to help and support gay rights.

So let me be the first to say [redacted], thank you very much for your donation and support for this great cause!

I couldn’t have done it without your money.

Sincerely and with Love,
Brentwood Photography

The Facebook post has since been liked more than 58,000 times, with scores of netizens praising the photographer for choosing principle over profit.

Lee told Buzzfeed that he’s also received his fair share of hate mail.

“I think it’s truly beautiful the amount of positive messages and words of encouragement I have received, it is been about 90 percent positive and 10 percent gut wrenching sad personal attacks,” he said. “The hate that comes out of these people’s mouths make me want to cry, but the 90 percent give me the strength to stay strong and not doubt what I did.”

The photographer added that he’s been called a “crook” for not returning the money to the client. He stressed, however, that they signed a contract clearly stating that the deposit was non-refundable.

“The retainer is paid for and there to protect us,” he told Buzzfeed, adding that the client responded to his message with the words: “Companies like yours are the reason our country is falling apart… Good luck with the queers, ASSHOLE!”

Ultimately, Lee says he’s “happy I took a stand.”

There’s just one thing he wishes he could change.

“The only thing I wish I had changed … is where it says I support ‘Gay Marriage,’” he wrote on Instagram Sunday. “While I 100 percent do, I wish I had just said that I support marriage opportunity for all. We shouldn’t have to call it ‘gay marriage’ like it is something different. It’s just marriage. Like it is between a man or a woman or a black person and a white person. Every person on this planet deserves their own happy ever after, even if it is different from your view of it.”

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Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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June 26th as “LGBT Rights Day” — A Coda to Marriage Equality That Includes Trans Persons As Well

I move that June 26th shall henceforth be known as LGBT Rights Day. Three blockbuster decisions — Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges — were announced on this day. And as the celebrations continue, some organizations devoted to marriage close up shop, and others gear up for the next campaigns, I would like to add a coda to today’s court decision.

I said June 26th should be “LGBT” Rights Day for a reason. While the Court did not reference trans persons in its decision, the ruling that all marriages between two persons are the same — marriage — applies to transgender persons as well as cisgender persons. Not only because many trans persons are queer, but because trans persons in marital relationships have suffered great hardship from our legal system as it had existed before June 26th. Let’s also remember that there is no such thing as a “gay” marriage — it is “same-sex” marriage, and trans persons have a biological sex just like cis persons, so Obergefell applies to us as it does to our friends and neighbors.

I’m not surprised that few are aware of this; many trans persons had no idea that this decision impacted their lives in any way. There’s a reason for this — we were asked many times over the past decade to not discuss our marriage issues in public for fear that they would muddy the messaging and confuse the public. Though I received the first same-sex divorce in Maryland, I was not free to discuss my personal belief in the importance of marriage equality, neither in Maryland nor beyond. As a good ally, I advocated just like any other gay person, my gender history ignored as irrelevant to the discussion.

The law, however, meant as much to me then as a married woman as it would today. I could have been denied a divorce, which would have forced the issue into the open and might have impacted the campaign in the state. Fortunately, I was not denied, and the divorce was granted with nary a raised eyebrow. Others, however, have not been so lucky. Trans persons, solely because of their gender history, have needed to discuss their surgeries, provide birth certificates and expert testimony as to their fitness as a parent. Vicious, selfish spouses continue to have a field day in court.

Looking back, the most famous case is Littleton v. Prange. The Fourth Court of Appeals of Texas voided the marriage between a deceased husband and his transgender wife, Christie Lee Littleton. The Court ruled that, for purposes of Texas law, Littleton was considered male, and that Littleton’s marriage to a man was therefore invalid because Texas law did not recognize same-sex marriage. So we had a court invalidating a marriage after the death of a spouse.

Another famous case is that of Nikki Araguz, a trans woman who, again in Texas, and again with her deceased husband’s family trying to steal her death benefits because she was trans, lost her initial case on May 26, 2011, as a state District Court Judge ruled in favor of her husband’s family and nullified the marriage. Fortunately, a state Court of Appeals voided that district court judgment and remanded the case back for further litigation, the outcome which will probably turn out to be very different thanks to today’s decision. Because today same-sex marriage in Texas is just plain marriage, and the widow, Nikki Araguz, is entitled to the same death benefits as any other spouse.

Things have been so bad in Texas that trans women have reverted to being legally men for a day to marry their wives. Cruel and unusual, but sometimes you do what you gotta do. No more.

Another well publicized case from the former Confederacy was that of Michael Kantaras, a trans man who divorced his wife who then sued to deny him custody of their children by claiming he was still a woman and therefore they were never legally married. She, of course, knew his trans status from the beginning, but was willing to deny him his dignity to win in court. He won in district court (televised on Court TV), but the judgment was overturned by the state’s Court of Appeals in 2004 and the Florida Supreme Court denied a review. Then, with the help of Karen Doering of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and, believe it or not, “Dr. Phil,” the couple settled out of court. The Appeals Court decision is much less likely to happen the next time, and Dr. Phil won’t be needed.

While these Supreme Court decisions do not touch on issues of gender identity and expression, they do remove the justification that courts have used to deny trans persons their rights — that by refusing to recognize their gender transitions they were entitled to invalidate legal marriages as same-sex marriages. Clearly there is no way to know that a trans person won’t suffer in court in the future due to a judge’s transphobia — and family court judges seem to be the most prone to such prejudices, in comparison to state and federal court judges — but it is much less likely that problems will arise. Even if a court should rule in our favor because of misgendering, the legal victory will still be a victory. Educating the nation about gender identity remains our challenge, now that the nation understands sexual orientation.

Justice Kennedy wrote:

Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The fundamental liberties protected by this Clause include most of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

In addition these liberties extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs [italics mine].

He then continues:

When the American Psychiatric Association published the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1952, homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder, a position adhered to until 1973. Only in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.

Today, the nation’s psychiatrists recognize the personal identity known as gender identity as immutable as sexual orientation, and we have an even better handle on its roots in the brain than we do with sexual orientation. Therefore, the arguments that today apply to the issue of sexual orientation will likely, based on the majority’s reasoning, apply just as well to trans persons who enter into what today we now call (just) marriage.

This victory impacts all of us because it is a great victory for civil rights in general, and the civil rights of sexual minorities in particular. Putting the potential animus of future judges aside, this decision should stand as firmly under trans persons as it does under cis persons.

Justice Kennedy’s concluding paragraph applies to us all:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.

As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.

Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

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Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Marriage Equality Just Became The Law Of The Land. Here’s How That Plays Out.

WASHINGTON — Friday’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage may not end every couple’s legal struggle to have their marriages recognized.

Some states that had banned gay marriage announced after the ruling that they would comply. But officials in other states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, took a more defiant tone.

In Mississippi, Attorney General Jim Hood (D) said same-sex marriages wouldn’t begin until the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals lifts a stay on a ruling from last year that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban. How long that takes is up to that court’s judges, according to Dennis Hutchinson, a law professor at the University of Chicago.

In Louisiana, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in a statement he sees nothing in the Supreme Court opinion to indicate it’s effective immediately. “Therefore, there is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana,” he said.

The Supreme Court will wait 25 days to allow individuals to file a petition to rehear the case — something it rarely grants — before officially returning the litigation to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Louisiana Clerks of Court Association is advising county clerks not to take action until that 25-day period expires, according to The Advocate.

Hutchinson said that the plaintiffs in the 5th Circuit case would ask the court to lift the stay, but that the court may wait to see what the Supreme Court does in that 25 day period.

In Texas, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia on Friday lifted a stay of a ruling that allowed same-sex marriages in the state, but it’s unclear whether state officials will allow the marriages to proceed.

Despite the delays, the Supreme Court ruling on Friday makes it unequivocally clear that marriage equality is the law of the land.

When state or county officials refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses, couples will have to file lawsuits against them to force them to comply with the Supreme Court, Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, wrote in an email

“Because the law is now clear, courts are likely to issue orders quickly forcing officials to act properly,” Winkler said. “If officials refuse to comply with those orders, they can be held in contempt of court — and jailed.

“The law today is as the Supreme Court has announced it and that’s what every court in the land has to follow.”

This story has been updated with additional comments from Hutchinson.

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News in Brief: Report: Only 47,000 Social Justice Milestones To Go Before U.S. Achieves Full Equality

WASHINGTON—Following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision making same-sex marriage legal nationwide, sources confirmed Friday that only 47,000 social justice milestones need to be reached before the U.S. achieves full equality. “This is a watershed moment for civil rights that finally brings the dream of living in an equitable society one tiny fraction of a step closer to reality,” said civil rights lawyer Helene Najjar, adding that the country could now turn its attention to closing the income gap, ending racial discrimination in law enforcement, and providing equal educational opportunities for all children, among tens of thousands of other issues. “We have been striving for this victory for decades, and we will continue to fight for a more just society until we have reached all 47,000 human rights milestones that still need to be achieved. This win proves that we are inching toward living in a …





The Onion

Community Celebrates Marriage Equality Victory At Iconic LGBTQ Battleground

What better way to spend the last weekend of pride month than celebrate a hard-won marriage equality victory in one of the LGBTQ rights movement’s most iconic battlegrounds?

The Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality ensuring same-sex couples the right to marry was quite an introduction to New York City pride this weekend. After the decision, members and allies of the queer community gathered at the Stonewall Inn, the landmark bar that was home to the infamous 1969 riots between queer patrons and the police — and the place that many point to as the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ Civil Rights movement.

stonewall inn

Nearly a half-century later, The Huffington Post headed to Christopher Street on Friday to talk to revelers at The Stonewall Inn, where many shared their reactions to the historic victory.

Couple Ally and Lauren and were thrilled about the court’s ruling. “It’s amazing that in any state, no matter what state, you can be married and love who you love and the government acknowledges that finally,” Lauren said.

ally and lauren outside stonewall

The pace of marriage equality had accelerated in recent years, with 37 U.S. states passing legislation ensuring the right of gay couples to marry in the years and months before Friday’s ruling. Dennis, pictured below on the right, told HuffPost he wasn’t sure he’d have the opportunity to celebrate this pivotal moment in his lifetime. “Just five to seven years ago I didn’t think that it would happen so fast — I did not think this would happen in my lifetime,” he said.

dennis outside stonewall

“It’s honorable to here on such a momentous occasion,” Patrick, below, second from the left, said as he and his friends celebrated outside of Stonewall. “We were here two years ago when New York passed it, now we’re here and the country’s passing it, and I’m excited to see what the next step is — where we go from here.”

patrick and friends outside stonewall

Geff, from the UK, offered an international perspective. “I think that this is sending a signal to other countries around the world globally because people look to America as a source of inspiration,” he said. The Supreme Court’s decision makes the US one of 21 other countries to legalize same-sex marriage.

As the day went on, hundreds visited the Stonewall Inn and shared their celebration of this historic moment in one of the many places we owe it to. See some of their beautiful images below.

So happy to be here, and lucky

A photo posted by Luke Austin-Paglialonga (@lukeaustinphotosthe3rd) on

Love wins

A photo posted by Luke Austin-Paglialonga (@lukeaustinphotosthe3rd) on

#scotusmarriage #Stonewall

A photo posted by Lisa Granatstein (@lisagranatstein) on

Today my neighborhood is the happiest place on earth. #lovewins #fuckyeah ❤️

A photo posted by Erin (@erinkathryn) on

Outside the #stonewallinn #lovewins ❤️

A photo posted by jennifer gandia (@jennifergandia) on

Here for the NYC Pride celebration on historic SCOTUS #MarriageEquality decision

A photo posted by Elton Lugay (@eltonlugay) on

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Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Lena Dunham Drops Proposal Hints to Jack Antonoff Following Marriage Equality Ruling


Talk about subtle.

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Style

Adam Lambert Celebrates Marriage Equality, But ‘No One Is Free While Others Remain Oppressed’

Back in 2009, when Adam Lambert became a household name on American Idol, he made headlines when he came out in a Rolling Stone cover story and was…
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Watch Kacey Musgraves Sing ‘Follow Your Arrow’ To Celebrate Marriage Equality

Kacey Musgraves performed her 2013 anthem for acceptance and equality, “Follow Your Arrow,” to celebrate the legalization of gay marriage.
News

Conservative Democrat Baron Hill Rebrands Himself As Pro-Marriage Equality In Indiana Senate Race

WASHINGTON — Indiana Democratic Senate candidate Baron Hill is casting himself as a champion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, in an attempt to shift away from the anti-marriage equality image he had during his previous stint in Congress.

“Marriage equality is especially close to my own heart,” said Hill in an email to supporters Thursday. “In 2004, I voted against the Constitutional Amendment banning marriage equality. I’m proud of Hoosiers who are fighting to make sure our friends and neighbors are guaranteed equal rights.”

“And any day now,” he added, “the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on whether or not the right to marry is a fundamental right for all Americans. This would be a huge and important step towards a world where acceptance is the norm.”

Hill was a member of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2005 and 2007 to 2011. During his final years in Congress, the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign gave him a 70 percent rating on issues of equality. He supported the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which banned LGBT members of the military from serving openly, but he was not one of the 121 Democrats to cosponsor legislation that would have repealed the federal government’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Though Hill did oppose amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, he didn’t exactly champion the right for same-sex couples to wed either. In fact, he campaigned against it. During his 2006 re-election campaign, Hill ran an ad in which he said that “marriage between a man and woman is sacred.”

But support for same-sex marriage has become significantly more mainstream since Hill’s time in office. The Democratic Party didn’t even add it to its platform until 2012, the same year that President Barack Obama announced that his stance had “evolved” and he now backed marriage equality.

Hill’s email to supporters Thursday reflects the national shift on marriage equality, showing that it’s now an issue that even a more conservative Democrat feels safe running on.

The campaign did not return a request for comment on when Hill began supporting marriage equality but said in a statement that he had evolved on the issue over time. In addition to touting his opposition to the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and support for DADT repeal, the campaign pointed out that he voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — which would bar workplace discrimination against LGBT people — in 2010.

“Baron is proud to support marriage equality — bottom line, everyone deserves equal rights,” the statement read, adding, “Like many Americans, Baron’s personal views have continued to evolve on this issue and he feels strongly that no Hoosier should be made to feel less equal because of who they love.”

There has been some concern among Indiana Democrats that Hill might be vulnerable to a primary challenge from a candidate who is more vocal on LGBT equality, given his record.

He is currently the only Democratic candidate running for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), but state Rep. Christina Hale (D), who has been more outspoken on LGBT rights, is also exploring a bid. On the Republican side, Rep. Marlin Stutzman and former Indiana GOP chair Eric Holcomb have declared campaigns.

LGBT equality has been a hot topic in Indiana since Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a so-called religious freedom law that could have allowed businesses to deny service to same-sex couples. After significant national backlash, Pence signed a revised version of the measure.

Read Hill’s email below:

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Carmen Ejogo Urges America To ‘Do The Right Thing’ On Marriage Equality

Carmen Ejogo and Susan Sarandon are the latest celebrities to add their voice to LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal‘s campaign for marriage equality.

Ejogo, who starred as Coretta Scott King in “Selma,” said in a video for the group’s #IDo campaign that her support for LGBT rights traces its roots in her Nigerian-Scottish heritage.

“I haven’t fully [fit] into the black community, the white community, I’ve had to sort of find my space. And I think for that reason I have a lot of empathy for anyone that’s going through the same kind of desire for identity approval in the mainstream,” she said. “If we do the right thing in terms of marriage equality, there may be other nations that could follow suit. And that’s for the betterment of all of us.”

Watch Ejogo’s video above.

Last month, Julianne Moore recorded a video for the campaign detailing the reasons why the fight for LGBT rights doesn’t end with marriage equality.

Lambda Legal’s board co-chair, Karen Dixon, blogged for HuffPost earlier this year announcing that she and her wife, Nan Schaffer, would match up to $ 1 million in donations to the #IDo campaign. The organization announced Thursday that it had met the $ 1 million mark.

Watch Sarandon’s message below:

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‘The State Of Marriage’: How Vermont Paved The Way For LGBT Equality

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The freedom to marry feels inevitable in 2015. Nearly 72 percent of Americans live in a state that views same-sex relationships as equal to opposite-sex ones. But how did we get here? For many, including small town Vermont lawyers Beth Robinson and Susan Murray, with Boston-based attorney Mary L. Bonauto, the journey began in the 1980s.

“The State of Marriage,” a new documentary, recounts the challenges in gripping detail as the story of Vermont’s historic establishment of same-sex marriage unfolds. Not without setbacks, the freedom to marry has since radiated throughout the world. In the film, the pioneering efforts of the men and women who sought to eradicate cultural and legal barriers for same-sex couples come into focus.

“Without the strategic exclamation point on it, I think Vermont was essential to keeping this movement alive,” Bonauto told The Huffington Post. “The film captures that exciting story.”

The film’s timely premiere on June 18 at the Provincetown International Film Festival arrives as the United States Supreme Court prepares to rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. “The film is a bookend,” said Murray. “[The Supreme Court’s ruling] will hopefully, finally put this issue to rest.”

In the early ’90s, the LGBT community was “under siege,” says Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson. Without any legal recognition for same-sex couples in the U.S., people were losing their kids in custody cases, getting fired from their jobs for being gay and discriminated against even after years of military service. The movement for LGBT equality was waiting for an opening and someone to take charge.

As a young law clerk in 1989, Robinson admired Murray’s work for lesbian and gay families. Murray described Robinson as a “small, incredible bundle of energy” with an “exquisite legal mind” fueled by Pixy Stix. It was the beginning decadeslong personal and professional relationship. Years before the legal battles began, they engaged in a grassroots movement, traveling to state fairs in Vermont to tell stories of real same-sex couples.

In 1994, Bonauto, the Civil Rights Project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), pulled together a group of New England attorneys to discuss marriage equality. Skeptics thought it was “folly” or even “reckless,” she recalls, but “Beth and Susan clearly said there’s a path forward in Vermont.” After a series of hard-won victories, including the override of a gubernatorial veto, Vermont became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through the legislature.

supreme court plaintiffs 1998

Plaintiffs in Baker v. Vermont, 1998. (Rutland Herald)

Working tirelessly, Murray and Robinson fought for the rights they knew their fellow Vermonters deserved. “[Murray and Robinson] are not self promoters. They did it because it was the right thing to do,” said “The State of Marriage” co-producer Marcia Ross. “They deserve national recognition for the contribution.”

“Both Beth and I were in private practice and not getting paid for this, and it took away from time that we would have spent building up our careers,” explained Murray. “We could not have done it but for the support of our law partners who were also willing to sacrifice in so many ways.”

Though opponents in the film speak virulently about the “consequences” of legalizing same-sex marriage, those in favor cite the changing tide of public opinion as evidence that equality encourages acceptance.

“The law plays a leading role in helping people understand what’s acceptable and what’s not,” Murray told The Huffington Post. “If the law throughout the land is that gay people are allowed to marry, that in turn is going to help a broader acceptance of gay lives. I’ve seen that in person in Vermont. It’s changed the societal message.”

“In the Civil Rights Movement, I saw with my own eyes that it cannot have equality for some and not equality for all. Everyone must be included. Everyone must have a palce at the table,” says Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who emerged as a civil rights leader in the 1960s. “What Susan and Beth did was in keeping with what Rosa Parks and others did.”

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Beth Robinson and Susan Murray on April 7, 2009, moments after the Vermont legislature voted to override Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto. (Floating World Pictures)

Bonauto has since stepped onto the national stage to argue a pivotal same-sex marriage case that could bring marriage equality to all 50 states. In her opening arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in April, representing more than a dozen gay and lesbian couples in Obergefell v. Hodges, she asked the justices to wipe out the “stain of unworthiness” that marriage bans produce.

“I hope that if we are fortunate enough to have a win in the Supreme Court — and I am not one of those people who sits around counting on anything, but should we win? In my view, yes — I’d like to think we’ll have the fourth decision in a row that says stop treating gay people differently because of who they are,” said Bonauto. “And I’d like to think that that would have an effect on things like non-discrimination laws. We have so much work to do from my perspective, like ensuring basic non-discrimination so that young LGBT people can grow up in a world where they are safe and respected. We face an epidemic of homelessness. There are so many systemic issues that haven’t received the attention they deserve.”

A sense of inevitability worries director Jeff Kaufman as well. “One of the things that we encountered while making the film is that there’s a lot of complacency these days,” he told HuffPost. “People don’t realize that political gains often slip back.”

“I don’t think you can totally understand what they had to go through until you understand what they were up against,” added Ross. “If we don’t have a sense of our past, it gets lost and distorted. So much of the movement started with such humble resources, and it not only took over the country, but the world. When they started this process, people thought they were nuts. It’s important to have a sense of that vision to spark further change and inspiration for the future.”

Knowing the outcome in Vermont doesn’t diminish the power of “The State of Marriage.” Instead, with the procedural tedium of momentous legal cases made digestible, the film presents itself as a legal thriller. Audiences will cheer. They’ll be reminded of how far we’ve come, and how far is left to go.

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We Can’t Use 1915’s “Biological Reality” to Assess 2015’s Marriage Equality

As our nine Supreme Court justices wrestle with a decision in the consolidated same-sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, one of the central arguments they will weigh is the role of marriage in raising children. At least, that’s how the opponents of same-sex marriage have framed the issue in recent years: this isn’t about gay people at all, it’s about children.

In arguing the case, former Michigan Solicitor General John J. Bursch said the issue of marriage revolved around “biological reality,” and that the state’s definition of “biological reality” should involve only one man and one woman conceiving a child.

That may have been reality in 1915, but in 2015 “biological reality” has changed, just as has every corner of our society.

Technology has transformed our reality, and that goes for family building. Advances in medicine have opened the door to parenthood for so many people – including same-sex couples – who just a few decades ago would have been unable to conceive a child. Proven clinical protocols have demonstrated that men with HIV can have children safely – with minimal risk to mother or child – with the application of some new techniques. These technologies are inspiring and life-affirming.

Yet by Bursch’s measure, airplanes should be illegal because humans don’t have wings.

Even if someone thinks that same-sex couples having children will lead to the end of civil society, blocking those couples from marrying will do nothing to curb that. I’ve helped hundreds of LGBT people become parents, and the vast majority had no legal recognition of their relationship when they conceived. There are certainly other countries where these couples are blocked from having children through surrogacy or adoption, but in the United States we ended that debate long ago – Married or not, the right of gay couples to have children isn’t going away.

“When you change the definition of marriage to delink the idea that we’re binding children with their biological mom and dad,” Bursch argued, “that has consequences.”

The consequences, in this case, are children who are happier, healthier and well-adjusted to today’s society. Various studies have pointed to that conclusion for children raised by same-sex couples. A recent study of 500 children in Australia said quite clearly that “children in same-sex parent families had higher scores on measures of general behavior, general health and family cohesion.” This corroborates what we know from other studies showing kids with gay parents are just like kids with straight parents.

Yet the Australian study went a step further and found something that did in fact hurt these children of same-sex couples: the stigma associated with their parents. Laws against the legal recognition of these parents, public-relations campaigns demeaning gay people, and yes, arguments before the Supreme Court, hurt these children far more than the sexual orientation of their parents ever could.

Australia is one of the many countries with laws banning surrogacy, a huge impediment to gay-male couples having children. With countries like Thailand and India tightening the controls on surrogacy, many of them now have to look across the Pacific Ocean to California to build the family they want.

Yet even Australia is poised to recognize same-sex marriage by the end of the year.

The children of same-sex couples are 2015’s “biological reality.” The wonderful families I have watched walk through my doors over the last two decades have been inspiring. Now it’s time for the Supreme Court to make our nation’s laws consistent with today’s reality and legalize same-sex marriage once and for all.

It’s what these children deserve.

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As Caitlyn Jenner is Learning, Trans Equality is a Many-Layered Undertaking, Riddled with Paradox

Can a trans woman in the process of becoming authentic advance trans equality while simultaneously setting back women’s equality in the broader sense?

Eric Sasson, writing in The New Republic, put it well, with the headline mimicking Neil Armstrong from Tranquility Base, Luna – “One step forward for Caitlyn Jenner, one step back for womankind.” Six weeks after her coming-out interview with Diane Sawyer we now have the authentic Jenner for the world to see – Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair. Her boudoir cover girl pose, recalling the starlets of the 30’s and 40’s. Introducing her new name, Caitlyn, disconcertingly more characteristic of millennials than Medicare recipients. The rollout set a new record for the Twitterverse, generating more new followers per unit time than anyone before her, including President Obama. Clearly she knows how to market herself well.

There’s been a lot of chatter in the trans community about this coming-out event, with many vociferously defending her right to do it her way. I agree – none of us gets a veto, and few have any input at all. Feminists who believe in full women’s empowerment, as I do, cannot honestly deprive her of her agency in this matter. I also imagine many of us would kill to be shot by Annie Leibovitz, showing us our 30-year-old (photoshopped) selves that never were, and it’s hard to begrudge an American icon that privilege.

Where we can weigh in, though, is on the potential consequences of her actions. She humbly stated in April that she is not a spokesperson for the trans community, and that she hopes she can make a positive contribution. Like it or not, however, she is now the world’s most recognizable trans woman, with no one else close in second place. That stature brings with it a great responsibility.

My concern, and my disappointment with her coming-out profile, was her doing so in a boudoir, pin-up girl pose. Yes, she’s gorgeous. Not bad for an old lady, and we should all look as good when we obtain our Medicare cards. But she could have, as the professional she is, presented herself in a manner that did not slide in so smoothly with the routine sexual objectification of the American woman, and that opens her, and by extension the rest of us, to the claim that she’s playing out an erotic fantasy.

There are those, such as Drs. Michael Bailey and Ray Blanchard, about whom I’ve recently written, who believe just that. This presentation, even when it succeeds as a marketing bonanza, plays right into their hands. We saw the pre-transition Bruce Jenner back in April; now in June we’re treated to a sex kitten.

We all know that Jenner, like most of us, were all once children who understood our transgender selves. That her struggle, as narrated to Diane Sawyer, began as a child in Tarrytown, New York, and was carried out in secret for nearly six decades. Facts like that get lost, however, when people who have never known anything about the transgender experience see Bruce one day in a shlumpy oversized polo shirt and then Caitlyn in a merry widow. Explaining the years it takes for a woman to fully transition gets lost in this rapid “now you see me, then you didn’t” sleight of hand.

This is not to say that trans women aren’t sexual beings with erotic feelings. Just as the gay community needed to bury their sexuality to present the full spectrum of the complexity of gay men and women, so have trans women needed to publicly subsume their sexuality to change the terms of the debate. Cisgender straight men and women don’t have the same problem, though all women have to deal with oversexualization, commodification and objectification. Keeping in mind that not only is she a woman but a part of the greater community of women might bring sufficient understanding to her to consider the larger ramifications. Rhonda Garelick puts it well in today’s New York Times:

The French writer Simone de Beauvoir famously wrote that “one is not born a woman, one becomes one.” She was referring to the innumerable embellishments, codes of behavior and self-censoring acts required by femininity, the turning of the self into a prestige commodity. In becoming a woman before our eyes, Caitlyn Jenner proves that little has changed since 1949, when de Beauvoir wrote those words. To be admired in the public eye, to be seen, a woman must still conform to an astonishingly long, often contradictory list of physical demands — the most important being that she not visibly age.

Trans women, uniquely among all women, have had to fight for recognition as females from a culture averse to scientific reality. In that atmosphere it is all the more important that we navigate the cultural shoals of gender expression and the codes of femininity with greater awareness of the impact of our actions.

When trans persons were finally included in the consideration of sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, I proudly stated that while I was no longer a 4th class citizen, I remained a 2nd class one with all my sisters. However important the battles against transmisogyny are, they are only a small part of the still overwhelming misogyny prevalent in American culture that impacts all women.

We’ve seen the same trans self-centeredness when a group of trans men demanded that women’s reproductive rights groups amend their language to exclude “women” in order to be more inclusive, ignoring the far greater impact of right-wing hostility on the reproductive autonomy and health of women. Similarly we’ve seen a small number of trans men trying to change the language used by women’s colleges, even though, arguably, as self-identified men, they shouldn’t have been accepted in the first place. Such behavior is particularly egregious when many of those women’s schools hadn’t even been willing to accept trans women at that time.

People have been calling Jenner a hero, a champion, and a role model. I haven’t heard anyone call her a leader, a title which she has wisely to date refused to embrace. But the reach of her public exposure, even before the Kardsashian machine goes into full gear, makes her a de facto leader, and that necessitates a strenuous effort on her part to put the community’s needs over her personal ones. This is understandably not an easy thing to do during her second puberty, but she owes it to the community to temper her behavior with some mature self-awareness.

It has been said that Jenner, being white, privileged, Christian, Republican, wealthy and old, is disqualified for this role. Clearly she can’t easily relate to those who don’t have her blessings, but at the end of the day the best she can be is herself. Truly recognizing that her personal needs take priority only when she’s out of the public eye is critical, and that the leadership that is being thrust upon her by her public persona necessitates full consideration for all those less fortunate whenever she speaks out or comes forward. The more beautiful she is, the more people pay attention, and the greater the responsibility. If this is too much of a burden she can do what she described as her future plans – spend her retirement with her children and grandchildren. While there will probably always be paparazzi around, such activities are worlds apart from an Annie Leibovitz spread in terms of their impact on the public. I can only hope that she has at least one confidant who can assist her as she ventures out into the full glare of the reality show universe. Much of our future progress towards equality may depend on it.

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Nicki Minaj Talks Orgasms And Wage Equality Like The Queen She Is

Nicki Minaj is a woman who knows what she wants and gets it, in bed and in the workplace.

The rap goddess graces the cover of Cosmopolitan’s July issue, and opened up about how orgasms are a must for her.

“I demand that I climax,” she said. “I think women should demand that. I have a friend who’s never had an orgasm in her life. In her life! That hurts my heart. It’s cuckoo to me. We always have orgasm interventions where we, like, show her how to do stuff. We’ll straddle each other, saying, ‘You gotta get on him like that and do it like this.'”

“She says she’s a pleaser. I’m a pleaser, but it’s fifty-fifty,” Minaj added.

Minaj also makes sure she gets what she wants when it comes to business matters. She is an advocate for women asking questions and being vocal in the workplace — including discussions about salaries.

“Women are uncomfortable talking about money,” she told Cosmo. “I know it’s taboo to discuss it at work. Technically, you shouldn’t, but you need to know what people around you are making. Otherwise, you’re not going to know what you’re worth. You have to ask questions. ‘What is this person getting?’ Do your research. I’ve always been pretty competitive in terms of my pay.”

Read more from Minaj’s interview in Cosmo’s July issue, on newsstands June 9.

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This Map Shows How Far There Is To Go In LGBT Rights — Even After Marriage Equality

A record 60 percent of Americans now favor same-sex marriage rights, according to a new Gallup poll, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates await the U.S. Supreme Court’s forthcoming ruling on marriage equality with bated breath. Still, in a sobering reminder that true equality is still far from a national reality, a new surveying map finds that 61 percent of Americans reside in states where protections for the LGBT community leave a lot to be desired.

A project of the Colorado-based independent think tank Movement Advancement Project, “Mapping LGBT Equality in America” found that 61 percent of the U.S. LGBT population will “continue to live in states with medium or low legal protections, or that have outright hostile laws.”

In an attempt to show the “uneven and uncertain progress” of pro-LGBT legislation nationwide, Movement Advancement Project officials ranked each of the 50 U.S. states as high, low, medium or negative in regard to equality. They examined marriage and partnership recognition, adoption and parenting laws, workplace non-discrimination policies and the ability of a transgender person to change the gender marker on an official document such as a driver’s license.

Negative laws, organizers noted, were defined by those that specifically limit access to rights, services and programs for LGBT people, such as healthcare exclusions that bar transgender people from gender confirmation-related care and HIV criminalization laws, which disproportionately impact gay and bisexual men.

They found that 29 percent of the U.S. LGBT population were living in 13 states that they determined to have “negative equality,” including Louisiana, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan and Georgia.

On the flip side, 39 percent of that population called one of 12 “high equality” states or the District of Columbia home. States coming in on the “high” end of the scale were California, Oregon, Illinois and five out of the six New England states. (The sole northeastern outlier, New Hampshire, was deemed to have “medium equality.”)

Movement Advancement Project Executive Director Ineke Mushovic said that although a marriage equality victory at the Supreme Court would be “transformative,” additional legislation is “needed to fully protect LGBT people and their families.”

“One state may have high equality while a neighboring state has hostile laws,” Mushovic wrote in an email statement. “Or, a state may have high levels of equality for gay, lesbian and bisexual people while offering almost no legal protections to transgender people.”

The central message of the report is in line with a new book by renowned activist and HuffPost Gay Voices Editor-at-Large Michelangelo Signorile. In It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality, Signorile argues that the lives of LGBT Americans won’t change radically even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage.

Many states, he notes, will still have limited anti-discrimination protections for LGBT employees, while homophobia and transphobia will still be prevalent in public schools even if same-sex marriage laws are in place.

He sees many LGBT rights advocates as being victims of “victory blindness,” because of advances in the fight for same-sex marriage, among other realms. Thus, many of those advocates are lead to believe that “living within this seductive moment of advances for LGBT rights, that we’ve ‘arrived’ and the rest of it is inevitable.”

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Gender Equality Can’t Be Ignored If We Want Global Progress: Report

There’s no other option: Gender equality has to become a priority for the world to reach development goals in the coming years, according to one international advocacy group.

The ONE campaign outlined key elements to ensuring human progress in its 2015 data report, and national spending by the least developed countries will play a vital role. Governments must agree to a “minimum per capita spending level to deliver” on basic needs, such as health and education, “with a focus on girls and women.”

“Poverty and gender inequality go hand-in-hand,” the report reads. “Girls and women in the poorest countries suffer a double hardship, of being both born in a poor country and being born female. Put simply, poverty is sexist.

The report comes ahead of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to be launched this September. They will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were established by the United Nations in 2000 and were to be met by this year.

According to ONE, the world experienced significant progress on a number of MDGs, including a drastic reduction in the proportion of those living in extreme poverty. But other benchmarks weren’t reached and “too many people were left behind” — especially when it comes to global health and access to education.

Nearly half of the globe’s maternal deaths occur amongst women living in the least developed countries, for instance, even though they only comprise 13 percent of the world’s total female population.

“Despite multiple summits to debate these issues, there’s a shocking lack of global leadership to deliver genuine, life-changing commitments for the world’s poorest and hardest to reach,” Eloise Todd, ONE’s global policy director, told Reuters. “New global goals which could set out the roadmap to end extreme poverty will be worth little if leaders fail to back them with an ambitious financing plan.”

While international aid funding from DAC countries remained near all-time highs last year — led by generous giving from Nordic countries — poor nations must implement fair tax policies to up domestic revenue and stop corruption among government leaders that too often hinders progress, the report notes.

A recent initiative by the ONE campaign — which has fought disease and global poverty since its creation in 2004 — took the Internet by storm, garnering support from Malala Yousafzai and Hollywood director and producer Shonda Rhimes.

The #Strengthie movement encouraged social media users to post a photo of themselves mimicking Rosie the Riveter’s iconic pose in hopes of spreading awareness on how poverty disproportionately affects girls and women around the world. The campaign also asked supporters to sign a petition calling on world leaders to prioritize gender equality.

To learn more about the ONE campaign, visit its website here.

To take action on pressing poverty issues, check out the Global Citizen’s widget below.

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Equality In Ireland: Stars React

Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote on Saturday – a historic result celebrated by equal rights supporters across the world.


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In Four Supreme Court Clashes Over 15 Years, a Consensus for Equality Emerges

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Photo by Joshua Glick

The giddy atmosphere outside the Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon was only slightly more festive than the mood in the courtroom itself. As expected, civil rights legend Mary Bonauto knocked it out of the park for marriage equality. But something bigger was in the air — a sense that history wasn’t just turning but had, in some basic sense, turned.

It wasn’t only that the other side’s arguments have imploded, though there was that.

John Bursch, the Michigan lawyer charged with defending discrimination, spent most of his time arguing that gay people marrying will somehow convey that marriage is now about couples rather than children (despite the hundreds of thousands of gay families raising kids), which in turn will cause straight people to have more children out of wedlock.

Also, if a woman weighs the same as a duck, she is made of wood and is therefore a witch.

Bursch did, however, avoid the ever less plausible argument that the freedom to marry is somehow anti-religion — no doubt aware of the quickening embrace of equality by mainstream denominations and millions of religious Americans. That didn’t stop Justice Scalia from repeatedly insisting that ministers could be forced to perform same-sex wedding services as a condition of exercising civil marriage authority. You know, like rabbis are now forced to marry interfaith couples.

That, and a few lingering questions on polygamy, is really about all they have left.

Beyond the lopsided merits, there was a powerful sense in the courtroom that our community has broken through. Even the conservative justices engaged seriously and respectfully (well, Scalia will be Scalia). And a majority of justices bluntly stated their impatience with arguments that fail to recognize the dignity and equality of gay families. It felt like a cultural moment had arrived — confirmation of acceptance and respect that would have been unthinkable a generation ago.

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Photo by Joshua Glick

Contrast the 1986 oral argument in Bowers v. Hardwick, in which a constitutional challenge to criminalization of private intimate conduct was mischaracterized as being about a “right to commit sodomy” and constitutional scholar Larry Tribe was peppered with hypotheticals about sex in public toilets. I wasn’t there for Bowers, thank goodness, but at three other oral arguments over the last fifteen years (all in cases where my firm submitted briefs), I was privileged to witness progress unfold towards Tuesday’s culmination.

First came Dale v. Boy Scouts, in 2000, in which Evan Wolfson (also basking this week in well-earned marriage glory) faced down a skeptical Supreme Court on behalf of James Dale, an Eagle Scout and junior scoutmaster tossed from Scouting when he came out in college. In those days, the Scouts still argued that only heterosexual boys could be “clean” and “morally straight,” and LGBT advocates felt compelled to submit social science briefs explaining that gay people were not mentally ill pederasts — what we used to call the “Homo 101” brief.

On the ground, Dale was a game changer, jump-starting awareness of the irrationality of antigay discrimination. But sitting in court, there was a sense of uphill effort as the justices seemed more concerned with protecting Scouting’s right to enforce its own moral code than with preventing discrimination — previewing the Court’s ruling that the Scouts were a private association immune from civil rights regulation.

Just three years later, when Lawrence v. Texas came before the Court, much had changed. Seventeen years after Bowers, sodomy laws appeared even more obviously archaic, and the issue presented no First Amendment complications. The cause was now represented by Paul Smith — an openly gay law firm partner well known to the justices as a former law clerk and SCOTUS regular.

The argument this time felt more like a tutorial than a battle for respect. There were still some wince-worthy moments — as when Justice Scalia asked Smith whether states could bar gay kindergarten teachers to keep kids off “the path of homosexuality.” But Smith’s insider status made it easier for him to tell the Court how wrong they had gotten it in Bowers — reframing the issue in universal terms tied to fundamental American values of privacy and autonomy: “Most Americans would be shocked to find out that their decision to engage in sexual intimacy with another person in their own home might lead to a knock on the door” and a criminal prosecution.

The Court listened. Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion struck down the Texas law as a violation of personal liberty and expressly overturned Bowers. The Court confirmed that gay people, like any other group, are entitled to respect for their intimate, private choices and free to invoke Constitutional principles “in their own search for greater freedom.” Justice Scalia’s dissent lamented — presciently — that rejecting moral disapproval as a ground for sodomy laws also eliminated the main argument against recognizing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

How right he was. Of course, work on marriage equality (masterminded by trailblazers Bonauto and Wolfson) had already begun years earlier in Hawaii, Vermont, and of course Massachusetts, where same-sex couples began marrying in May 2004, less than a year after the Lawrence decision.

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Photo by Joshua Glick

It took nearly a decade to get back before SCOTUS, as marriage equality advanced in fits and starts in courts, legislatures, and ballot referendums across the country. By the time United States v. Windsor hit the Court in 2013 — challenging DOMA’s federal recognition ban — the tide had shifted, with nine states allowing marriage and public support topping fifty percent.

That momentum was reflected at oral argument, where the pro-equality side for the first time seemed to have the upper hand right out of the box. Even before Robbie Kaplan rose to argue for Edie Windsor, Justice Ginsberg had set the tone with her “skim milk marriage” quip and Justice Kagan had stopped Paul Clement’s defense of DOMA in its tracks by showing that Congress had been motivated by the kind of moral disapproval rejected in Lawrence. This was followed by U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli arguing DOMA’s unconstitutionality on behalf of the Obama administration.

What a change from Evan Wolfson’s brave, solitary stand. When Kaplan took the podium, it was Chief Justice Roberts who seemed on the defensive — acknowledging what Kaplan described as a “sea change” in attitudes towards gay families and noting that politicians were “falling over themselves to endorse” marriage equality. When he tried to flip the issue and suggest that the gay community was now too powerful to require heightened constitutional protection, Kaplan recounted lost marriage battles and other recent discrimination — driving home that the “sea change” was a product of evolving moral understanding rather than political clout.

Windsor, of course, struck down the federal recognition portion of DOMA and sparked an astonishing two years of further litigation, legislation, and public education in which marriage has grown from nine to thirty-seven states and public support for the freedom to marry has hit sixty-three percent nationwide.

All of which brought us to Tuesday, where the argument felt even more one-sided than Windsor. Bonauto, with her trademark quiet intensity, eloquently set forth how exclusion from civil marriage needlessly demeans and harms gay people and their families. The conservative justices pushed back on the length of time marriage had been limited to different-sex couples, but Bonauto explained other ways that marriage has evolved over time and evoked Lawrence in arguing that “times can blind and it takes time to see stereotypes and to see the common humanity of people who had once been ignored or excluded.”

And as to the perennial question of “who” gets to decide marriage, Bonauto beautifully summed up that “it’s not about the Court versus the States. It’s about the individual making the choice to marry and with whom to marry, or the government.”

There was some anxiety when Justice Kennedy, too, questioned changing a definition of marriage that had been around for “millennia” (actually, not true) — but he later re-emphasized the concern he expressed in Windsor for the well-being of children of gay parents and his moral understanding that same-sex couples seek to share in the “nobility and sacredness of marriage.”

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Mary Bonauto and co-counsel meet the press. Photo by Jeffrey S. Trachtman

No one wants to jinx it, but most observers expect another favorable 5-4 vote and have the champagne on ice for the kind of emotional celebration that marked Pride 2011 (when marriage was enacted in New York) and 2013 (following the Windsor decision).

Winning marriage is, of course, just a step along the road to justice. Marriage doesn’t serve everyone equally, and there is plenty left to do to protect LGBTQ youth and elders, achieve equality for our trans and genderqueer neighbors, and advance broader social justice. For many of us in D.C., the events in nearby Baltimore gave the day a bittersweet flavor. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t savor this moment of impending triumph, but let’s keep it in perspective: no rest until everyone is free, safe, and equal.

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Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Serafina Palandech Talks Hip Chick Farms and LGBT Equality (AUDIO)

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This week I talked with entrepreneur Serafina Palandech, Co-Founder of Hip Chick Farms a California based LGBT owned organic, frozen poultry product company providing easy meal solutions for busy families. Hip Chick Farms was recently featured on the Food Network’s “Food Fortunes” where they joined food savvy entrepreneurs from across the nation to seek startup funding. The startup company was founded by Serafina Palandech and her wife Jennifer Johnson a former sous chef at Chez Panisse under Alice Waters who was credited with starting the global sustainable foods movement. For the last 14 years Jen has served as the Executive Chef for Ann and Gordon Getty in San Francisco. Hip Chick Farms makes healthy gourmet, artisan frozen products that provide time-crunched families delicious and easy food solutions. All of their products are made with whole natural foods and they never use any artificial ingredients in their products. At present they have four free-range chicken products including gluten-free chicken nuggets, chicken meatballs, gluten-free chicken wings and organic chicken fingers. They recently developed a partnership with Whole Foods and will be expanding their product line as well as increasing availability in other supermarket venues nationwide. We talked to Serafina about she would like to accomplish with Hip Chicks Farms and her spin on our LGBT issues.

LISTEN:

Now that marriage equality is in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court we asked what she would like to see happen for LGBT equality in the next few years. Palandech stated:

Jen and I spoke about this at length and we both share that marriage equality is incredibly important and that we’re happy to see it progressing the way that it is but we also believe that trans issues and equal equality for trans folk are incredibly important within the LGBTQ community. We need to shift our focus there and more of our energy to ensuring access to education, access to jobs, safety and equality under the law for trans people. Secondly, I would say that women’s equality within the LGBTQ movement sometimes does not get as promoted. So equality, equal pay for women is a very important issue to us as well.

Serafina Palandech graduated University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Women’s Studies and Art. She’s a veteran nonprofit executive, project manager, strategic planner and event organizer who before co-founding Hip Chick Farms spent more than fifteen years helping nonprofit organizations access private funding streams through event production and corporate/donor relationships. In her role as Event Director for MZA Events, Inc., she oversaw the planning and execution of AIDS Walk San Francisco, a 1.5 million dollar campaign that raised more than 3.7 million dollars per year with some 25,000 registrants and 400,000 individual donors. Just prior to launching Hip Chicks, Jen founded and ran Tugboat Events, a boutique event production company which produced charity events for organizations in the Bay Area.

Serafina, Jen and daughter Ruby Rose live on their farm the Ramblin’ Rose in Sebastopol, California. They believe in the value of family and together building a business that helps their local economy, farmers and suppliers.
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SCOTUS Marriage Equality

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Laws to Stop Marriage Equality Grow Increasingly Weird

Texas is pushing a proposed law that would let the state overrule the Supreme Court. There’s just one problem: they can’t actually do that. Alabama judges have decided that they don’t have to obey federal courts either, except that in reality, they do. And Oklahoma politician wants to switch from marriage licenses to marriage certificates, which would accomplish … not very much.

Let’s start in Texas this week, where first time State Rep Molly White has introduced a bill that would require the state to ignore any Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage.

Can she do that? Nope, that’s not how laws work. Or the Supreme Court. Or America in general. For better or for worse, Texas is still part of the United States, so Texas can’t just say “no thanks” when the Supreme Court tells them to do something. White’s only been in office for two months, so hopefully she’ll get the hang of it soon.

Over in Alabama, the state Supreme Court is experiencing similar confusion. They’ve ordered probate judges to ignore the federal ruling that they have to issue marriage licenses. So now it’s state law versus federal law, and nobody knows who will win. Just kidding! Federal law will win. That’s the basis of our entire legal system.

Then there’s South Carolina, where a couple of politicians want to amend the US Constitution to ban marriage equality. This has no chance of happening. But State Senator Larry Grooms says that it’s necessary for “the propagation of our species.” Contrary to what Grooms seems to think, reproduction does not, in fact, originate in the U.S. Constitution.

And in Oklahoma, State Rep Todd Ross has solved the marriage debate with a new bill that stops the state from issuing marriage licenses, and instead requires marriage certificates. And this is different because … well, it’s actually pretty much the same, it’s just slightly less paperwork. So, okay.

Finally this week a new national survey shows support for marriage soaring to 59 percent, with just 33 percent opposed. This means that the freedom to marry is slightly more popular than the Pope.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Obama Invokes Stonewall, Draws Comparisons Between Civil Rights And LGBT Equality In #Selma50 Speech

Speaking before a crowd of thousands on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge marking the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery today, President Obama noted the progress made in the fight for racial and LGBT equality and the similarities between those two civil rights movements.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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‘If You Stand For Equality, Then You’re A Feminist’: 9 Fab Quotes From Emma Watson’s Facebook Q&A

To commemorate International Women’s Day, inspiring human and actress Emma Watson participated in a Q&A at the Facebook office in London to stress, yet again, just how critical it is for both women and men to come together in the fight for gender equality.

Watson clearly does not take the topic lightly; she is, after all, a United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador who represents the organization’s HeForShe Campaign, a movement that calls for both genders to advocate for equal rights.

Last year, during a stirring speech at the UN, Watson kicked off the solidarity campaign by formally inviting men everywhere to join the fight for women’s rights. “I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too — reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves,” she said.

On Sunday, the 24-year-old “Harry Potter” actress reiterated the idea during the hour-long Q&A session, saying: “We’re never, ever, ever going to be able to fly as high unless we’re both in support of each other.” Watson said many wonderful, powerful things about feminism and its impact on her life (all of which you can watch here). Below, we share nine of our favorite quotes.


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This Is What a (Marriage Equality) Movement Looks Like

A little over a week ago, same-sex couples from Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking the freedom to marry nationally. Just last Friday, hundreds of Fortune 500 corporations, faith leaders, Republican and Democratic officials, civil rights organizations, law professors, and the Obama Administration filed supporting amicus briefs. And the Supreme Court finally set oral arguments for April 28. For thousands of same-sex couples across the country, the day when their families might be fully protected and their love equally recognized seems closer than ever.

Arriving at this moment was neither an inevitability nor the work product of a few heroic individuals. Rather, it’s the culmination of a movement’s work over decades – careful strategy; individual story-telling; grassroots organizing; setbacks and recovery from setbacks; litigation, legislation, and ballot questions – involving all kinds of people and organizations putting in blood, sweat, and tears.

It’s notable, for example, that like most of the cases currently before the Supreme Court, the first significant marriage equality case was brought back in the early 1990s by a private attorney in Hawaii, Dan Foley, on behalf of Nina Baehr and Genora Dancel. While their initial victory in the courts was eventually overturned by constitutional amendment, their lawsuit catapulted the marriage equality movement to the national stage and, with the help of movement leader Evan Wolfson, kicked off a broader conversation about the injustices and harms of excluding same-sex couples from marriage.

Twenty years later, after a narrowly averted car accident, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse of Michigan, visited their attorney Dana Nessel to ensure that both of them would be recognized as the legal parents of their four children. They were shocked to learn that without the ability to marry, they could not jointly adopt and ensure the security of their family. For April and Jayne, their journey to the doors of the Supreme Court has been guided both by their own moral compass and their parental instinct to protect their children.

And certainly, “the movement” writ large has come together in this moment. All four major LGBT legal organizations that have worked long and hard to get us to where we are today are co-counsel in the cases before the high court. GLAD’s Mary Bonauto, who won the first marriage case in the country in Massachusetts in 2003, is co-counsel in Michigan with Dana and a team of talented private attorneys, including Carole Stanyar, Kenneth Mogill of Mogill, Posner & Cohen, and Wayne State University Law Professor Robert Sedler. Lambda Legal, which won the first unanimous judicial victory in Iowa and later helped secure marriage throughout the 9th Circuit, is co-counsel in Ohio. NCLR, which won a game changing legal victory in California, helping reverse a string of judicial losses in the mid-2000s, is now co-counsel in Tennessee. Finally, the ACLU, whose landmark Windsor victory at the Supreme Court overturning DOMA last year set off the avalanche of federal judicial victories on marriage in the last year, is co-counsel in Kentucky and Ohio.

It’s also significant that the Supreme Court cases originated in states from the heartland and the south, thanks to the movement’s state-by-state strategy that began with Massachusetts and grew to 37 states just last month with Alabama. This strategy has succeeded through a mixture of judicial, legislative, and electoral wins. Statewide equality groups, as well as national organizations like Freedom to Marry, the Equality Federation, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and HRC, knew that to win nationally at the Supreme Court, we needed as many states as possible in the pro-equality column, and we needed to win those states by every means possible. And did. As a result, there are now only 13 states, all in the most conservative areas of our country, left that discriminate against same-sex couples in marriage.

This is what a movement looks like. Ordinary people exercising their ordinary rights with extraordinary courage. Private attorneys sacrificing their time and livelihoods for a just cause. Movement organizations planning a strategy of incremental progress to be included within one of society’s most cherished institutions. And the transformative power of LGBT people and families sharing their lives with their neighbors, friend, coworkers, and family. None of this profound change was inevitable; instead, every piece had to come together, along with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, in order to climb to where we are today.

But this cannot be all that our movement looks like. Even as we reach the top of this mountain, if we fail to see the mountains beyond, then all we will be left with is a steep climb down. Even if same-sex couples begin marrying across the country in June, those same couples still face discrimination in their everyday lives, especially as our opponents seek to expand religious exemptions to undermine anti-discrimination protections. Even as same-sex couples gain greater acceptance within society, the same is not true for all in our community, including youth, elders, people of color, transgender individuals, and HIV-positive individuals.

The real test of a movement is whether it has the vision to imagine an even more just society for everyone, and the tenacity to get it done.

The marriage equality movement has given us the tools to tackle these new challenges. We have built shared values of love, respect and family that we can now use to fuel society’s greater understanding of all LGBTQ individuals, in all aspects of our lives. We have learned how to use personal stories to teach about the realities of our lives in a way that highlights our common humanity as opposed to our differences. And we understand the power of everyday actions by ordinary people – every person who has ever come out to a family member, placed a photo of their partner on their desk at work, or shared a story about their transgender child.

We may not know exactly what the movement will look like going forward, but the many faces of our ever diverse LGBTQ community is not a bad place to start.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Help the Fight for Equality in Alabama

Kim and Cari have been fighting for marriage equality in Alabama since 2008. Apart from their desire to bring equality to all of the citizens of Alabama, they’re fighting for their son, Khaya, and their right to be legally recognized as his parents.
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Marriage Equality Is a National Issue, And So the Time Has Come for Our National Court to Address It


The Supreme Court has been reluctant to jump into the question of same-sex marriage, preferring to let the issue percolate through state-by-state litigation in the lower federal courts.  But the time has come for the justices to come out of hiding.  The denial of marriage equality is a national problem, not a state-level problem, and it requires a national resolution that only our nation’s constitutional court can provide.

At the moment, 35 states allow marriage equality, while 15 forbid it.  The anti-equality states not only refuse to allow same-sex marriages to be licensed and celebrated; 14 of them also refuse to recognize marriages from sister states where such unions are perfectly legal.  Petitions from cases in four of those states – Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee – will be considered by the justices at their next private conference this coming Friday.

One reason marriage equality is a national issue is that our current patchwork of marriage laws imposes unreasonable, indeed absurd, burdens on same-sex couples’ security in their marriages and their freedom to move from state to state.  A married gay couple from a pro-equality state can relocate for job, education or family reasons to an anti-equality state – as long as they’re willing to give up their marriage, and perhaps even their property and parental rights.  A rational legal regime cannot tolerate this state of affairs.

In a 2012 article in the Michigan Law Review, I first proposed that the Constitution provides not only a right to get married, but a right to remain married.  Multiple federal court decisions, including one from the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals involving Utah’s marriage laws, have since endorsed this principle.  There is also an argument to be made that denial of interstate marriage recognition offends the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Aside from the harms they inflict on couples, inconsistent state marriage laws also cost American businesses $ 1.3 billion per year, according to a study released in October by the consulting group Marsh and McLennan Companies.  “As marriage confers a host of legal and social privileges,” the report explains, “the irregular landscape generates a host of administrative and compliance requirements for employers."

A patchwork of marriage laws also means a tax penalty for employers and employees in states without the freedom to marry, because the value of spousal health insurance and other benefits for an employee in a same-sex household is treated as ordinary income, triggering additional payroll and income taxes.  “As many corporate leaders now view national freedom to marry as inevitable,” the Marsh and McLennan report observes, “they would prefer that this tax and compliance burden disappear sooner rather than later."

There is another important reason why marriage equality should be settled at the national level: that is where the campaign to ban it has always been fought.

Although same-sex marriage was not possible in the United States until a decade ago, affirmative and categorical prohibitions are a relatively recent phenomenon.  The first state constitutional amendments banning marriage equality were not passed until 1998, when voters in Alaska and Hawaii approved measures effectively overturning state court rulings favorable to marriage equality.  By 2008, only 10 years later, more than 30 states had approved such measures. 

Aside from the harms they impose, I have argued that the process that was used to enact these measures raises serious constitutional concerns.  It is fanciful to believe that these laws were the products of carefully considered, historically validated, independent policy decisions by each state, and thus worthy of deference as a matter of federalism.  For the most part these laws were, in fact, products of a determined, nationwide blitzkrieg by religious conservative activists and Republican operatives.  In the 2004 elections, President George W. Bush’s strategist Karl Rove helped oversee efforts that saw 11 anti-marriage equality measures approved in one swoop.  James Dobson, founder of the once-powerful group Focus on the Family, called the nationwide fight against gay marriage “our D-Day, or Gettysburg or Stalingrad.” 

The campaign was one of classic backlash:  it sought to exploit short-term public passions and prejudices to slam the door on marriage equality just as a national debate was starting to emerge on the issue.  As CNN’s report the day after the 2004 elections described it, “Six months after gay and lesbian couples won the right to marry in Massachusetts, opponents of same-sex marriage struck back” with amendments in 11 states “codifying marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.” 

Experience demonstrates that when Americans learn more about gay people and their relationships, they become more likely to support marriage equality.  Even while marriage equality opponents were still enjoying success at the voting booth, attitudes were evolving: between 1998 and 2009, the average vote against mini-DOMAs in statewide referenda increased from 31 percent to 46 percent.

If the remaining marriage bans took the form of ordinary statutes that could be revisited by legislatures in light of the growing majority support for same-sex marriage, there might be less reason for the Supreme Court to act right now.  But all 15 remaining bans are in the form of state constitutional amendments, which are much harder to undo because they typically require legislative supermajorities, votes in multiple legislative sessions, and/or statewide voter referenda.

This emphasis on constitutional amendments also was a deliberate strategy pursued at the national level by anti-gay-marriage activists.  The goal was not merely to enact laws that appealed to lawmakers and voters at the time, but to place the question of same-sex marriage beyond democratic debate and the ordinary lawmaking process – that is, persuading a simple majority of your elected representatives, the way most laws are made or repealed – in as many states as possible, for as long as possible.  The spirit of these efforts was captured by a Georgia Republican politician who urged his state to adopt a constitutional amendment because it would “set in stone that marriage in this country is a union between one man and one woman.  The laws of man did not create marriage; the laws of man should not alter marriage.”

The campaign against same-sex marriage has seen its fortunes dramatically reversed in the past few years.  Many Americans who once opposed gay marriage have, with better information and greater reflection, changed their minds.  It is an important principle of the Supreme Court's equality jurisprudence that courts should not intervene in such matters too hastily, because “the Constitution presumes that even improvident decisions” by lawmakers or voters can “eventually be rectified by the democratic processes.” But in the 15 states where anti-equality laws remain, they are embedded in state constitutions, and the ordinary democratic lawmaking process cannot address them.

And so the time has come for the Supreme Court to step in.  The campaign against marriage equality was mapped and executed at the national level, and it continues to impose harms and indignities on individuals and businesses that reverberate across state boundaries.  The validity of such laws should be weighed and ruled upon by the justices whose responsibility it is to interpret and apply our highest national law, the Constitution.



Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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The Lawyer Who Brought Down DOMA Is Amazed by How Far Marriage Equality Has Come

Roberta Kaplan represented Edie Windsor in one of the biggest victories for LGBT rights.
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Marriage Equality Is Coming. The South Should Get On Board.

Same-sex marriage is now legal across the entire Northeast. The American South risks another historical embarrassment if they don’t support gay rights.
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