Politics & Law
A: None, according to the U.S. Census
Why? A New York Times article on July 18 quotes Steven H. Murdock, director of the U. S. Census Bureau, who explains that because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act marriages between people of the same sex cannot be recognized or counted even in the states where they are legal. Even by the Census.
Why does it matter? Gay rights activists argue that it matters because it renders married same-sex couples invisible. I agree. That absolutely matters. But it also matters because it is evidence of our government's blinding itself to reality. It is further evidence, as with interference in climate research and health research, that the government cannot be trusted to put science and reason ahead of ideology, religion and faith.
The story in last Thursday's New York Times began:
Twenty-one sexually exploited children have been saved from the streets, and 389 people arrested on charges of trafficking children for prostitution, in what the Federal Bureau of Investigation calls the largest such multistate sweep ever, officials said Wednesday.
The five-day operation, this week and last, spanned 16 cities and involved hundreds of local, state and federal agencies in the work of rescuing missing children, many of them runaways, and identifying networks behind domestic child trafficking for the sex trade. (Susan Saulny, "Hundreds Seized in Sweep Against Child Prostitution" June 26 2008)
What are the political issues that matter to sex workers?
Quite often the ones that matter to most people: Affordable housing, health care, labor rights, immigrant rights, day care, reproductive rights, violence against women, and protection of privacy and civil liberties.
It's no surprise then that sex workers are taking on the "Rock the vote" model and putting on their own voter registration and mobilization efforts, and we applaud and support that grass roots work. Want more information?
From $pread Magazine:
From Sin City to the Big Apple, sex workers are organizing for political and economic justice. It's time to organize our sex worker electorate ito a political force and "Grind the Vote"!
Why the Mormons (and other churches) are wrong about their support of the CA ballot initiative to restrictSubmitted by Elizabeth on 25 June 2008 - 4:20am
The Mormon church has asked its members to support the California ballot initiative that would amend the state's constitution to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. Specifically, according to the Associated Press:
"We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to ensure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman," church leaders say in the letter. "Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage."
They should rethink that strategy and their own writings explain why: The LDS church claims, in a letter signed by the LDS president, that:
Co-optation and bureaucratization are great strategies for squashing attempts to create social change. There are some kids in South Carolina who are facing exactly that problem right now. They fought for and won the right to have a GSA in their school (the Irmo High School principal announced his resignation last month after the district ruled that the GSA must be allowed) but their victory might have some unintended and negative consequences.
The school board for District 5 of Lexington and Richmond Counties is now considering new rules regulating "student-initiated noncurricular clubs" that will "allow" GSAs but make them difficult to form and will hinder their effectiveness.
Gov. Patterson polling support for his marriage decision as opposition takes legal action!
GET INVOLVED - Gov. Patterson is polling support for his marriage decision as opposition takes legal action!
Gov. David Paterson told state agencies on May 14 that New York must recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts, Canada and other places where they are legal. The directive should provide gay couples with as many as 1,300 rights afforded to married heterosexuals, including the ability to collect health and pension benefits, being admitted as "close family" in a hospital room and transferring a business license.
As Elizabeth careens through the Heartland of America on her road trip in search of anti-porn paranoia, I'm continuing to sit in the relative comfort of my apartment in Brooklyn doing my own investigations into the heart of America's traditional values crowd. Just think of me as Peter Fonda in cyberspace, baby. But without bad acid trips or getting shot by rednecks, hopefully.
So this afternoon, as the caffeine hits my brain, the first thing that comes to my attention is a news item from Black Jack, Missouri, via Ed Brayton's Dispatches From the Culture Wars. Black Jack has a certain infamy in the area of civil liberties already: in 2006, they were sued by Fondray Loving and Olivia Shelltrack because the couple, who had lived together for 13 years, was denied an occupancy permit on the grounds that they were in violation of a local ordinance that forbad three or more persons from living together if they were not related "by blood, marriage, or adoption." The couple had two children together, but the oldest was from one of Shelltrack's previous relationships. Loving and Shelltrack filed a federal lawsuit, and the city wound up settling by giving them the permit and spiking the ordinance.
Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States, a day that typically means barbecues and parades and the honoring of those who serve the military while remembering those who have served and lost their lives.
Unless those who serve are gay. Because gays, lesbians and bisexuals are prohibited from serving openly, theare rendered invisible, and face losing their jobs if they are open about their sexualities. Because of the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) more than 12,000 service members have been dismissed because of their sexual orientation since 1993 according to Lamda Legal.
With a one-vote majority, California's Supreme Court overturned a law banning same-sex marriage yesterday (PDF of decision). The case is a consolidation of appeals to the same court's ruling in 2004 that San Francisco had illegally granted marriage licenses to same sex couples. In that decision they had expressly stated that they were not ruling on the constitutionality of the law, but only one whether or not the law had been broken. In this case they examine the constitutionality of the law and find that the law violates basic constitutional rights: the right to form a legally recognized family with a partner one loves, and the right to equal protection under the law.
The CA decision refers back to a much earlier decision - Perez v. Sharp in 1948 - in which the court found that laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional. This was 19 years before Loving v. Virginia, the U. S. Supreme Court case that did the same thing nationwide. (Mildred Loving, whose marriage to Richard Loving was at the center of that case, died on May 2.)
Kenji Yoshino, a Yale Law professor writing for Slate today, points out that one strength of yesterday's decision is that it is based not only on liberty (the right to form marriages based on love and choice) but also on equality (the right to be treated equally by the law regardless of sexual orientation), and points out that because of that, this decision goes beyond the right to marry and makes it clear that any California law that discriminates against people based on sexual orientation is equally in trouble. That's the good news.
I agree with the first commenter in this post by Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars: can we please just get the fucking Rapture over with already, so that we can rid ourselves of these subliterate cretins who seem to want to Love the rest of us to death? Failing that, can we just buy all of them first-class tickets to one of the places in the Middle East that they hunger so badly to blow up?
This is a good-news/bad-news kind of story: it's good because it shows idiocy and homophobia given the trouncing that it so richly deserves, but it's bad the fact that it took place at all shows that this country persists in treating lunatics seriously when in a just world, they should be laughed at.