Support for marriage equality lowest among blacks, Republicans in Texas | Dallas Voice

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling found that 63 percent of Texas voters believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry or form civil unions in the Lone Star State.

The poll found that 34 percent support marriage equality, which is lower than a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Support is still lagging among black and Republican voters, according to the PPP poll.

Among those who identified as very liberal, 74 percent support marriage equality and 18 percent are in favor of civil unions. As for very conservative voters, 4 percent support same-sex marriage and 45 favor civil unions. Eighteen percent of very liberal voters opposed any form of relationship recognition, compared to 48 percent of very conservative voters.

African-American Texans have the strongest opposition to same-sex relationship recognition, with 44 percent opposing any recognition, compared to 31 percent of white voters and 21 percent of Hispanic voters. Twenty-one percent of African-Americans support civil unions with 18 percent supporting same-sex marriage. White voters supported marriage by 33 percent and 31 percent favoring civil unions. Hispanics favored civil unions by 44 percent with 29 percent supporting marriage.

The poll also found that 75 percent of those surveyed believe employers shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation and 54 percent support the Voting Rights Act.

The poll surveyed 500 registered voters between June 28 and July 1. The margin of error was plus/minus 4.4 percentvia Support for marriage equality lowest among blacks, Republicans in Texas | Dallas Voice.

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Arkansas Group Submits Proposal for Marriage Equality – OzarksFirst.com

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A grassroots group of Arkansans have turned over an initiative to legalize same-sex marriage, hoping to get it on the ballot for 2016.
Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality (A.I.M.E.) submitted the ballot initiative to the Arkansas Attorney General Tuesday. That date happens to be the 145th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

The group anticipates several rounds of rejections from the Natural State’s attorney general, but it hopes to get all that cleared up so they can work on getting signatures. The group says it will likely need around 100,000 signatures to get the measure to a vote of the people in Arkansas.

“The American dream for a lot of people is a good job, a nice house, marriage, kids — the whole nine yards,” says supporter Trey Weird. “If you don’t have that one single thing — marriage — then a lot of that is just not possible.”

The ballot initiative would not only legalize same-sex marriage in Arkansas, but it would provide assurances that no church or member of the clergy would be forced to perform any marriage ceremony it didn’t want.

A.I.M.E. started the day after the 2012 elections in which Minnesota voters rejected a ban on gay marriage similar to the one put in place in Arkansas in 2004.

“We hope that LGBT equality will find its way to Arkansas and the rest of the south in the near future,” the group states in a news release. “Our success is based not only on getting this initiative passed but also on educating our fellow Arkansans on the issue. We want to start a public dialogue about marriage equality, with it brought up both at the water cooler and the dinner table. We hope that our efforts will put marriage equality and other LGBT issues on the fast track in the right direction here in Arkansas.”

via Arkansas Group Submits Proposal for Marriage Equality – OzarksFirst.com.

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Historic, Bipartisan Vote Sends Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the Senate Floor | American Civil Liberties Union

WASHINGTON – The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions today adopted the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by a bipartisan vote of 15-7. ENDA would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in most American workplaces.

“Coming on the heels of the landmark Supreme Court marriage rulings, today’s strong, bipartisan vote in favor of expanding workplace non-discrimination protections to include those who are LGBT is yet another sign that the tide has turned,” said Ian Thompson, American Civil Liberties Union legislative representative. “Advocates have been working for nearly 40 years to pass these basic protections to ensure that all American workers, who stand side-by-side in the workplace and contribute with equal measure in their jobs, will stand on the same equal footing under the law. In 2013, it is completely unacceptable to force individuals to hide who they are out of fear of losing their livelihood.”

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Historic, Bipartisan Vote Sends Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the Senate Floor | American Civil Liberties Union.

Senate HELP Committee approves Employment Non-Discrimination Act; protects gays and transgender works – Jacksonville Business Journal

A Senate committee approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by a 15-7 vote this morning, giving gay Americans a victory in their long fight against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“We finally got it out of committee,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “It has been a long time coming.”

Harkin said Senate leaders have indicated could be brought up in the full Senate for debate sometime this fall.

The legislation would prohibit employers from firing or refusing to hire people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity — extending workplace protections that already apply to race, religion, gender, national origin, age and disability.

Nearly 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and 57 percent of these large corporations also ban discrimination based on gender identity.

But this form of workplace discrimination is not against federal law, and it’s legal in 28 states.

via Senate HELP Committee approves Employment Non-Discrimination Act; protects gays and transgender works – Jacksonville Business Journal.

Gay marriage: Pennsylvania attorney general pulls an Obama on DOMA – CSMonitor.com

Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, announced Thursday that she will not defend her state’s ban on same-sex marriage in court

In taking that step, Attorney General Kane (D) joins a select group: President Obama, US Attorney General Eric Holder, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), and current California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) – all of whom declined to defend measures blocking recognition of same-sex marriage.

But in Pennsylvania, there’s a big difference: The state will still defend its own law. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) opposes gay marriage, and he can have his general counsel defend Pennsylvania’s anti-gay-marriage law in court.

Kane’s announcement came in response to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union, challenging Pennsylvania’s version of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The state law, passed in 1996, prohibits same-sex marriage and the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

“I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA, where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional,” Kane told reporters at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Thursday.

The ACLU lawsuit, known as Whitewood v. Corbett, was filed Tuesday on behalf of 10 same-sex couples, two children, and a lesbian widow, on the grounds that the Pennsylvania law denies them the “fundamental right” to marry regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

via Gay marriage: Pennsylvania attorney general pulls an Obama on DOMA – CSMonitor.com.

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WE DO Campaign: Local couples push for marriage equality | Hattiesburg American | hattiesburgamerican.com

In the hearts and minds of Petal residents Sara and Lynn Bell, May 11 will forever be their wedding anniversary.

Recognized in Connecticut as a legally married couple, Sara Bell, 31, and Lynn Bell, 43, say they are “legal strangers” in their home state of Mississippi.

For that reason, the two women found themselves standing in line Friday morning at the Forrest County Courthouse with five other same-sex couples and their friends and families. Each couple filed into the office to be denied a marriage license.

Supporters of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s WE DO Campaign, the Bells are working with equal rights activists across the South to tell their story and take steps toward marriage equality.

The WE DO Campaign brings together same-sex couples and their supporters to call for equal rights under federal law for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The campaign’s mission is to draw attention to “the harms created by states’ laws across the South that prohibit same-sex marriage.”

“We want couples to be able to tell their stories of why they are in loving and committed relationships,” said Aaron Sarber, Campaign for Southern Equality’scommunications director. “You have situations where parents are raising kids, and they don’t have legal rights to those kids.

“We recognize that there are folks across the South, including Mississippi, who don’t agree with same-sex marriage, and that’s fine. We want to remove this from being such a controversial political issue and talk about the couples and the realities of these families raising children.”

via WE DO Campaign: Local couples push for marriage equality | Hattiesburg American | hattiesburgamerican.com.

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Marriage equality a step to end bigotry toward gays – Other Views – MiamiHerald.com

You’d never accuse the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, of liberal activism. Not even now. This year’s decisions made it easier for states to discriminate in voting practices, harder for employees to sue their bosses for discrimination, and easier for property owners to resist government takings for public ends.

Faced with rising opposition to discrimination against gays and lesbians, though, the court struck down DOMA’s federal marriage ban in Windsor v. United States. The federal government will now treat legally married same-sex couples the same as straight couples. Same-sex couples in discrimination states like Florida face ambiguity and more litigation.

Apart from new rights for some and hope for others, Windsor reframes the public debate by conceding what anyone familiar with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) knew: the statute was about irrational hostility towards a minority rather than the ludicrous argument that gay marriage could harm straight people.

Hostility is easy to spot with the Westboro Baptist Church — a small group in Kansas that seeks media attention by holding anti-gay protests at military funerals even when the dead soldiers are not gay. At least the Westboro group owns up to its hostility when it protests.

Legislators are wilier in their hostility. When demeaning a group, t

via Marriage equality a step to end bigotry toward gays – Other Views – MiamiHerald.com.

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Baptist Church marriage policies being tightened

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) — Churches are beginning to add a stipulation in their bylaws that their ministers perform only traditional marriages on their premises, in response to the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decisions in late June.

Greg Erwin, a Baton Rouge attorney who represents the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Baptist Message state paper and several Louisiana Baptist entities, said it is hard to speculate on what the decisions may mean for churches.

“The ruling means the same for Louisiana churches as for churches in all states except that in states where they have banned discrimination based upon sexual orientation, churches are more at risk than churches in states that would not pass such a law,” Erwin said.

If the Supreme Court becomes reliably liberal by losing one conservative judge to a liberal, Erwin said, the court in a future decision could require that churches marry homosexuals.

“It would seem that the law now is that churches do not have to perform marriages that violate its beliefs,” Erwin said. “However, if a church rents out its facilities for weddings to anyone but same-sex couples, then a court could find that the church is discriminating in violation of law by only refusing to rent to homosexuals.

“The free exercise of religion guaranteed by our Constitution is subject to future restriction by Congress, legislatures and the courts under the guise of balancing competing rights,” the attorney said. “We are at risk by staying true to our biblical principles.”

Stacy Morgan, a church administration strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, is working with Erwin to develop a standard policy that churches may adopt regarding the use of facilities and church membership.

Morgan advised churches to start a conversation on how they will address the issue.

“Specifically, we need to examine how we can continue to be a good neighbor in the community and honor God with the resources He has entrusted to us,” Morgan said. “How can we uphold a high standard of holiness that honors God and still be integrated with the community? That is what we’ll have to deal with.”

Some churches acted before the Supreme Court rulings to include wording in their bylaws that they would recognize marriage as only between a man and a woman.

“We did it because we saw this coming several years ago,” said Tom Carlton, pastor of Grawood Baptist Church in Keithville, which made a change four years ago. “Many churches have been preparing for this for a while. It’s sad but necessary.”

Airline Baptist Church in Bossier City added a policy in May that addresses weddings, receptions and other events.

“Our culture is changing and the standards are being lowered,” said Chad Mills, Airline Baptist’s pastor. “We wanted to be proactive and address the church policies and to put something into action that would protect our church and our values.

“We don’t want to be legally forced to recognize, to allow or to host any kind of marriage that is not a marriage as defined by the Bible as one man and one woman,” Mills said.

Ridge Memorial Baptist Church in Slidell decided in June to recognize only traditional marriage and said no one is allowed to perform a same-sex marriage on their property.

“It is a shame that we have to vote on something like this,” said Paul Dabdoub, Ridge Memorial’s pastor. “But for protection, it is a must.”

First Baptist Church in Blanchard changed its bylaws in June after reading a Baptist Press article on the need to include a traditional marriage definition.

Randy Davis, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Hammond, said he planned to meet with other pastors in his area to discuss making proper bylaws changes dealing with marriage.

“Whatever statement we make, I want to affirm human dignity, which applies even to homosexuals, who like all of mankind [are] made in the image of God,” Davis said. “Homosexuality is more than a sin; it is a degradation of the image in which we are made.”

Neil Caver, pastor of Cedarcrest Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, said the church’s bylaws already define marriage as between a man and a woman, but the church is considering adding a stipulation that no pastors affiliated with the church will be allowed to perform gay weddings.

First Baptist Church in Calhoun plans to add relevant language to its bylaws in the near future.

“Our bylaws will state the biblical teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman and that marriages outside those parameters will not be performed by church ministers or on church property,” said Neil Everett, First Baptist Calhoun’s pastor.

The current policy at First Baptist Church in Westlake requires premarital counseling with the pastor. Wayne McEntire, the church’s pastor, said they’re adding a precaution for the same reasons as other churches — “to protect ourselves from the possibility of having a possible scenario where someone joins the church and demands use of the facilities for a same-sex ceremony.”

“As it is now, our policy would prevent that because it requires premarital counseling sessions and I would deny access to an unbiblical wedding,” McEntire said. “A stated bylaw would further articulate the position of the church should it ever be challenged in a legal manner.”

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