Post-DOMA-ruling chaos, mayhem, slippery slopes, Bert and Ernie on the New Yorker cover

Well, you were right, everyone. The world ended.

All the horrible things you feared have come to pass. Moments after the Supreme Court handed down its DOMA ruling, every marriage contract signed between a man and a woman began to shiver and shake, and the ink faded away like a spell gone wrong. People on the Internet knew the end was near and began posting ill-advised Vines and comparing each other to Hitler.

The New Yorker did put this on its cover, which I guess is similar to having a giant, wrathful Sharktopus surge up from the ocean and swallow Seattle — but not really.

The sky fell, the waters rose, and everything that everyone always feared would happen, happened.

In all the confusion of joy surrounding the ruling, I slid down a slippery slope and entered a polygamous compact with a cat. Justice Scalia was wed, against his will, to a cyborg dog. It was awful.

via Post-DOMA-ruling chaos, mayhem, slippery slopes, Bert and Ernie on the New Yorker cover.

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OP-ED: Murkowski Shares Thoughts on Marriage Equality with Alaskans

The Pursuit of Happiness – Without Government Interference

Not too long ago, I had the honor of nominating an Alaskan family as “Angels in Adoption,” a celebration of the selflessness shown by foster care families and those who adopt children.  They arrived in Washington, DC, a military family who had opened their doors to not one child but four siblings to make sure that these sisters and brother had the simplest gift you can give a child: a home together.  We had lunch together, and they shared their stories with me.  All the while, the children politely ate lunch and giggled as content youngsters do.  Given my daily hectic Senate schedule, it’s not often that I get to sit down with such a happy family during a workday – and I think of them often, as everything our nation should encourage.

I bring them up because the partners were two women who had first made the decision to open their home to provide foster care to the eldest child in 2007.  Years later – and after a deployment abroad with the Alaska National Guard for one of them – they embraced the joy and sacrifice of four adopted children living under the same roof, with smiles, laughter, movie nights, parent-teacher conferences and runny noses.

Yet despite signing up and volunteering to give themselves fully to these four adorable children, our government does not meet this family halfway and allow them to be legally recognized as spouses. After their years of sleepless nights, after-school pickups and birthday cakes, if one of them gets sick or injured and needs critical care, the other would not be allowed to visit them in the emergency room – and the children could possibly be taken away from the healthy partner.  They do not get considered for household health care benefit coverage like spouses nationwide.  This first-class Alaskan family still lives a second-class existence.

The Supreme Court is set to make a pair of decisions on the topic of marriage equality shortly, and the national conversation on this issue is picking back up. This is a significant moment for our nation when it comes to rethinking our society’s priorities and the role of government in Americans’ private lives and decisions, so I want to be absolutely clear with Alaskans. I am a life-long Republican because I believe in promoting freedom and limiting the reach of government.  When government does act, I believe it should encourage family values.  I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values:  it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples’ lives – while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another.  While my support for same sex civil marriage is something I believe in, I am equally committed to guaranteeing that religious freedoms remain inviolate, so that churches and other religious institutions can continue to determine and practice their own definition of marriage.

With the notion of marriage – an exclusive, emotional, binding ‘til death do you part’ tie – becoming more and more an exception to the rule given a rise in cohabitation and high rates of divorce, why should the federal government be telling adults who love one another that they cannot get married, simply because they happen to be gay?   I believe when there are so many forces pulling our society apart, we need more commitment to marriage, not less.

This thinking is consistent with what I hear from more and more Alaskans especially our younger generations.  Like the majority of Alaskans, I supported a constitutional amendment in 1998 defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, but my thinking has evolved as America has witnessed a clear cultural shift.  Fifteen years after that vote, I find that when one looks closer at the issue, you quickly realize that same sex unions or civil marriages are consistent with the independent mindset of our state – and they deserve a hands-off approach from our federal policies.

First, this is a personal liberty issue and has to do with the most important personal decision that any human makes.  I believe that, as Americans, our freedoms come from God and not government, and include the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence:  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What could be more important to the pursuit of happiness than the right to choose your spouse without asking a Washington politician for permission?    If there is one belief that unifies most Alaskans – our true north – it is less government and more freedom.  We don’t want the government in our pockets or our bedrooms; we certainly don’t need it in our families.

Secondly, civil marriage also touches the foundation of our national culture: safe, healthy families and robust community life. In so many ways, sound families are the foundation of our society.  Any efforts or opportunity to expand the civil bonds and rights to anyone that wants to build a stable, happy household should be promoted.

Thirdly, by focusing on civil marriage — but also reserving to religious institutions the right to define marriage as they see fit — this approach respects religious liberty by stopping at the church door.   As a Catholic, I see marriage as a valued sacrament that exists exclusively between a man and a woman.  Other faiths and belief systems feel differently about this issue – and they have every right to.  Churches must be allowed to define marriage and conduct ceremonies according to their rules, but the government should not tell people who they have a right to marry through a civil ceremony.

I recently read an interview where Ronald Reagan’s daughter said that she believes he would have supported same-sex marriage, that he would think “What difference does it make to anybody else’s life? I also think because he wanted government out of peoples’ lives, he would not understand the intrusion of government banning such a thing. This is not what he would have thought government should be doing.”

Like Reagan, Alaskans believe that government works best when it gets out of the way.  Countless Alaskans and Americans want to give themselves to one another and create a home together.  I support marriage equality and support the government getting out of the way to let that happen.

Op-Eds – Press Office – United States Senator Lisa Murkowski.

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Court watchers: Opinion shift on gay marriage hard for justices to ignore – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill |

The dramatic shift in public opinion on same-sex marriage is likely to affect the Supreme Court’s historic rulings on the issue later this month, say legal scholars.

The justices often say they do not worry at all about politics or public opinion, and simply do what they believe the law compels them to.

But it will be hard if not impossible for them ignore the enormous transformation in opinion on same sex marriage, court watchers say, especially with two cases that offer them flexibility in how to rule.

“I have to think the justices — and especially the chief — are very cognizant of the shifting public opinion,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

The justices aren’t driven by polling the way elected lawmakers are, but they are often mindful of the court’s credibility. Chief Justice John Roberts, in particular, has shown himself to be an “institutionalist” who wants to protect the court’s legitimacy, Tobias said. That was clear in last year’s decision on ObamaCare.

The political pressures facing the court on same-sex marriage are blowing from several directions, however, making it uncertain exactly how the court will rule.

“I don’t think you can say confidently which way it cuts,” said Tom Goldstein, a Supreme Court attorney and the founder of SCOTUSBlog.

via Court watchers: Opinion shift on gay marriage hard for justices to ignore – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill |

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Supreme Court DOMA Ruling Looms Over Immigration Overhaul – ABC News

Before U.S. lawmakers decide whether they will address same-sex couples in a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill, the Supreme Court could make the decision for them.

The high court faces a choice this month to uphold or strike down all or parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. If DOMA is struck down, gay marriage advocates will view it as an unambiguously positive outcome for their cause because, in part, it also resolves the question of whether the immigration law can apply to same-sex couples.

“For the first time in immigration equality’s history, our legal team is now assisting couples in preparing their green card applications,” said Steve Ralls, the communications director at the advocacy group Immigration Equality. “We’re definitely preparing couples. The court ruling and the backup plan of congressional legislation make us confident more so than at any other time.”

But a court decision has its downsides as well. Although the Obama administration is likely to implement the court’s decision in a way favorable to gay marriage advocates, a future administration might not.

If DOMA is upheld or if the court’s ruling on the constitutionality of a federal definition of marriage is less clear, the result could be continued legal uncertainty for gay couples. One way Democrats in the Senate and gay marriage advocates have hoped to resolve this is by attaching an amendment to the immigration bill that would give same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples under the immigration law.

But Democrats face an uphill struggle in Congress where Republicans have staunchly opposed the inclusion of a same-sex marriage amendment in the immigration bill. A principal Republican sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Thursday he would walk away from his own immigration bill if a same-sex marriage amendment is included.

With the court’s final decision fast approaching, here are some ways the issue could shake out:


via Supreme Court DOMA Ruling Looms Over Immigration Overhaul – ABC News.

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Marriage Equality in Illinois: Hurry Up and Wait | WCHI News

In light of the passing of marriage equality laws in 12 states plus the District of Columbia, a microscope seems to be on Illinois to see if legislators and Governor Quinn will support their fellow Illinoisan, President Obama.  On May 29th, Obama raised the issue at a fundraising dinner in Chicago when he said of the pending marriage equality bill in the Illinois State House, “I just want to say for the record it’s something that I deeply respect.”

Obama reiterated his support in his speech last Thursday during an annual Gay Pride reception held at the White House, saying that it was time for marriage equality.  “(I)t’s clear we’re reaching a turning point. We’ve become not just more accepting; we’ve become more loving, as a country, and as a people.”

“I’ll continue to support marriage equality and states’ attempts to legalize it, including in my home state of Illinois. We’re not giving up on that,” he later added.

Many Illinois lawmakers remain undecided and certainly feel the pressure but refuse to make their intentions known.  Marriage equality supporters appear to have good cause for worry.

In the waning moments of the legislative session, Representative Greg Harris announced that the sixty votes needed to pass the bill simply weren’t there and that his colleagues needed more time to vote.  Harris is the sponsor of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.  Later, in an interview with Center Square Journal, the northside Chicagoan said, “at the eleventh hour, some members who had said they were inclined to vote yes became very nervous.” He added, “back in their district forces who oppose equality had been…saying the bill was going to attack religious freedom and take the rights away from churches – those kinds of things are not true.”

Pastors Larry Trotter and former State Senator Rev. James Meeks, from the African-American Clergy Association said that it was a victory…that the bill was not called for a vote for “the God-fearing Black Caucus members”.  Harris indicated that forces that “try to drive a wedge between the gay community and other progressives” cannot be allowed to succeed, citing the Black and Latino communities.

As it currently stands, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, having passed in the Illinois Senate in February, has been extended to August 31, with possible further extension into the veto seesion in late October and early November.  The good news for supporters is that Governor Quinn has agreed to sign the bill.


via Marriage Equality in Illinois: Hurry Up and Wait | WCHI News.

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Why Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Issue | Same Sex Married Life | 10 Thousand Couples eMagazine

Marriage equality. The phrase conjures images of gays and lesbians marching in front of state capitols, their multi-colored flags whipping in the harsh wind of intolerance, their shouts and gestures angry, hoarse, strident as they scream for this and that ‘right’, and generally make a nuisance of themselves, tie up traffic, and act like so many spoiled children. Watching them cavort, in their ragged clothes, unkempt appearance and tacky behavior, we straights are disinclined to even consider their ‘demand’ for marriage equality. Our impulse is to lock the car door, turn up the radio, take a detour to avoid this mob. What in the world could they be thinking? Marriage equality is the last thing we’d consider, even if these urchins were hetero, but a bunch of homos? Please.

Here’s why we straights need to look long and hard at the very issue that those urchins are demanding. Why, indeed, we ought to be out there marching with them, waving that colorful rainbow flag, shoulder to shoulder with that rag-tag group of warmed over hippies and recycled flower children. Marriage equality is, as any good conservative must admit if they’re honest and study its merits, a very conservative issue, indeed, an issue they need to not only accept, but embrace. Skeptical? I’m not surprised. You’ll change your mind after reading this.

via Why Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Issue | Same Sex Married Life | 10 Thousand Couples eMagazine.

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As marriage equality sweeps the Midwest, Republican domination holds back Wisconsin | Wisconsin Gaze | Wisconsin Gazette – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) News

Wisconsin’s neighbor Minnesota became the 12th state in the country to legalize same-sex unions, and Illinois is inching closer. In Iowa, marriage equality has been law since 2009.

But although Gov. Scott Walker has had out gay associates, including two who’ve been convicted of crimes committed while serving as part of his Milwaukee County Executive staff, he strongly opposes marriage equality. As a result, marriage equality is not on the legislative agenda in Wisconsin, and that situation is not expected to change in the near future.

“I just don’t think it’s very likely in this state anytime soon,” said Joe Heim, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political scientist, told Post-Crescent Media. “It’s pretty clear that public opinion in the United States is leaning toward gay marriage (but) I just don’t see Wisconsin joining that (group) anytime soon.”

Wisconsin’s constitution, unlike Minnesota’s, bans same-sex marriage.

In November 2006, nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin voters supported an amendment banning marriage equality. The effort to pass the amendment was spearheaded by Julaine Appling, director of the right-wing group Wisconsin Family Action.

via As marriage equality sweeps the Midwest, Republican domination holds back Wisconsin | Wisconsin Gaze | Wisconsin Gazette – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) News.

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7 Reasons DOMA & Prop 8 need to be stopped – TGV News

There are currently 12 states, and the District of Columbia currently that allow same sex marriage. The Supreme Court decision will soon be made with Proposition 8, and DOMA. It is time to refocus to many advantages gay marriage would have, and the pursuit of marriage equality.

There are at least seven ways in which the legalization of gay marriage is beneficial for LGBTQ Americans and the United States of America.

Gay Marriage Promotes Equality and Non-Discrimination in Society

Millions of LGBTQ contribute daily to American life in a multitude of ways culturally, socially, financially, politically, vocationally, and spiritually. We are fundamental to this nation’s continued growth and evolution, the U.S.A. would suffer greatly from the withdrawal of our many contributions. The legalization of same-sex marriage affirms the inherent worthiness of LGBTQ people as valued American citizens deserving of equal rights under the law.

via 7 Reasons DOMA & Prop 8 need to be stopped – TGV News.

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BREAKING: Delaware becomes 11th marriage-equality state

Just minutes before the Delaware Senate was set to vote on its marriage equality bill Tuesday, a Democrat senator who had been quiet about how she would vote announced on her Facebook page that she was a yes. The announcement by Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, who represents Dover, the state capital, came just minutes after the city’s other Democratic senator, Karen Peterson, came out as gay on the floor during debate.

The final roll call vote, after three hours of debate, was 12-9, with the gallery erupting into loud and prolonged applause.

Just minutes later, Democratic Gov. Jack Markell signed the bill, making Delaware the 11th state (plus the District of Columbia) to provide for equal protection under its marriage laws.

Meanwhile, a Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee gave the marriage equality bill there a green light Monday, and the House floor is scheduled to vote on the measure Thursday. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is lobbying actively for the measure.

And Illinois is also poised to take a final vote on its marriage equality bill this week. The state senate passed the bill in February; the House bill needs 60 votes to pass.

via BREAKING: Delaware becomes 11th marriage-equality state.

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Marriage equality does not infringe on religious freedom | Reno Gazette-Journal |

When news came last week that the Nevada State Senate stood up for the freedom to marry, I was overjoyed. As bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, I support marriage equality.

I support marriage equality not in spite of my religious beliefs, but because of them. As Christians, we are committed to cultivating love and compassion within our church and community. The moral imperative to respect and care for other people compels us to insist on their right to form loving relationships sealed in the legal bond of marriage. That right is part and parcel of being human.

Our ability to fall in love, commit ourselves to another person and build a life together is a gift of God. However different churches may view same-sex relationships, we should all agree that the state has no right to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples the way it once did against mixed-race couples. A basic sense of justice, found in all religions, stands against such discrimination.

I respect my fellow Christians who do not believe a same-sex relationship can be a sacramental marriage. They have a right to their convictions. But this law is not about sacraments. It is not about what constitutes a “Christian marriage.” That is a question for churches, not the state, to decide. This is about civil law. It is about the right to enter into the legal relationship of marriage. That right is fundamental and should not be denied to gay and lesbian citizens who are as capable of maintaining stable family relationships as straight couples.

Lawmakers took extra steps to ensure that this bill protects religious freedom. Let me make this crystal clear: Allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry will not change how each religion defines marriage. This proposal specifically protects the rights of clergy and religious organizations that choose not to perform marriages for same-sex couples.

via Marriage equality does not infringe on religious freedom | Reno Gazette-Journal |

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