Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oh the Reality of Christian Chicken- How the Gay Blogosphere Got it Really Really Wrong

     Is Chick-fil-A anti-gay? That question has been working its way through the gay blogosphere of late, and to many people the answer is obvious. As one of the blogs I read, Good as You  has shown, there are are direct ties to the southern food chain and those who oppose marriage equality. So now because of this, the chain is coming under increased pressure from gay rights groups and many are threatening boycotts.

      All I have to say is this....where the hell were you people? Are you that blind? Is it something new that Chick-fil-A was founded on traditional family principles and that they were an overtly Christian company? Not at all!! Everyone and their mothers have known this - you can tell right away just by the fact that they are closed on Sunday, and if thats not enough...you can do just a tad bit of research (like two minutes) on the internet.

      The gay blogosphere has really outdone themselves with this one. Seriously, what did you guys expect? For example, I would not walk into Lifeway Christian Bookstores - a chain owned by the Southern Baptists - and expect that they would be pleased with the whole gay thing. Therefore, do I shop at Lifeway? Nope!! In regards to Chick-fil-A, I think that LGBT community really didn't care that the company was "anti-gay", they ignored the obvious signs of a very very conservative Christian company and instead decided that they just wanted their chicken. So I have to question why now? Why after all these years are you seriously making an issue - have you finally got tired of their sandwiches?

       Do you (and I mean LGBT bloggers) really think that Chick-fil-A will give a damn about your tirade? Do you think that your petitions on Change.org will really make that big of an impact? Though I applaud your passion, I really think that it is misguided at this moment. Chick-fil-A really doesn't care about its gay customers, and it never has cared about them. The group that keeps it in business is not those who are equality minded, instead it is those who like the fact that the company was founded on "Christian Principles".  If it bows to our pressure, it will lose them, and if it fights back, it gains from them a larger and more stubborn support base. You are not messing with a Target or a Best Buy, companies that DO have to exist in the real world, instead you are dealing with a company that not only is completely privately owned, but is also firmly in the pocket of religious conservatives. All I have to say is, by the LGBT community making a big issue out of this, I believe the end result will not be helping our cause.

9th Circuit Court Denies Government Request to Suspend DADT lawsuit!

      The 9th Circuit Court on Friday decided that it was going to allow the Don't Ask Don't Tell case brought forth by the Log Cabin Republicans to go forward. The Obama administration had asked for the suit to be dismissed, as the repeal effort was already underway. But, the 9th Circuit decided against dismissal...and I for one am pleased!! With the case still working its way through the Courts, there is now pressure on the administration to ensure that there will not be any "delays" in the implementation of the legislative repeal. The Associated Press has the full story...

A federal appeals court has denied the government's request to suspend a lawsuit challenging the military's ban on openly gay servicemembers.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued an order Friday requiring the Department of Justice to file papers by Feb. 25 arguing why the court should overturn a Southern California trial judge who declared the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional.
Government lawyers asked the 9th Circuit earlier this month to set aside the case because the Pentagon was moving quickly to satisfy the steps Congress outlined last month when it voted to allow the ban's repeal. The Department of Justice did not have immediate comment Saturday.
The appeals court did not explain in its order why it rejected the request. In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said he expected to finalize the repeal and allow openly gay Americans to join the armed forces before the end of the year.
On Friday, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that the training of officers and troops the Pentagon has said is a predicate to full repeal would begin in February month.
The Log Cabin Republicans, the gay political group whose lawsuit challenging "don't ask, don't tell" persuaded District Court Judge Virginia Phillips in September to enjoin the military from enforcing the policy, had opposed the government's effort to put the case on hold.
R. Clarke Cooper, the group's president, said Saturday that while he thinks the Pentagon's efforts are sincere, the case should proceed as long as gay servicemembers still can be discharged.
"We said all along to the government we would drop our case if they would cease all discharges and remove all barriers to open service," Cooper said.
Cooper, an Army reserve officer, said he knew of at least one service member facing a discharge hearing next month, even as the Pentagon moves forward with its training plan.
"We are not questioning the implementation process. We recognize the need for a deliberative process for implementing proper training materials and guidances for leadership," he said. "But when you have a servicemember going before a discharge panel, this is kind of a 'left hand-right hand' thing that is happening."

BOTW - Sarah Palin's America By Heart

America by Heart : Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag     This weeks Book of the Week is Sarah Palin's anecdotal book America By Heart. Before I go on, I will state quite plainly that I am in no way a Sarah Palin fan. Though this is the case, when reading her book, I attempted to let the words speak for themselves instead of extrapolate my feelings for the author to the content. Though I feel as though I am going to be able to do that, based upon my dislike for Palin, and the way that I am going to be treating her book in the next few paragraphs, some will say that I am biased.

    A reader who was not familiar with American politics at all and picked up Palins book would think that she was the "true voice" of America, fighting against the evils of those who want to destroy the most amazing country on earth. You see, countless times, Palin infers that those who disagree with her in any form are anti-American; that they are violating the very principles that the nation was founded upon. Incredibly arrogant of her - especially since in many of the policies that she addresses (healthcare, energy, military, religion), there is quite a bit of grey.

     Her discussion of religion and the "Judeo-Christian" foundation of the United States reminded me of a conversation that i was having the other day with a friend of mine. She was expressing to me that it is very difficult to talk with someone who holds fast to a specific worldview, and is not able to be convinced through logic and reason. This is the kind of tone that I got from Palin. It seems as though she is so ingrained in her own ideological position that she is not able to appreciate where anyone else is coming from, and instead lashes out at them.

      One of her main positions is that Americans should not take for granted the freedoms that we enjoy and that the purpose of America is to be,
"A shining city on a hill, a beacon of liberty and hope for all the peoples of the earth. Our country was created by believing men and women to be a good and virtuous place, a nation capable of producing people fit to exercise the gift of freedom. And for those who fear that people of faith desire to rewrite the Constitution and the laws on a presumed authority of God, let me be clear that I don't believe that any of us can claim to know the mind of the Creator who gave us life and liberty."
       But to many Americans - specifically thinking of the LGBT community - these words of "freedom" ring hollow. For the Party that Palin aligns herself with, as well as what she herself believes (she states that all "lifestyle choices" are not equal in the context of what makes a family), is essentially putting their interpretation of the word of God in the Constitutions of states all across America.  White conservative Christians would love the above paragraph, for they have not been on the receiving end of overt discrimination, and instead have enjoyed aristocratic privilege in the United States. But those who have experienced this writing of the laws of "God' into the laws of the United States see that these supposed freedoms that Americans enjoy are not for everyone - but instead those who are deemed acceptable.

      In the end, I did not like Palin's book. Instead of anything of substance, it seemed like purely a "rah rah rah"...lets go America work of bullshit. Sorry for calling it that, but thats what I feel that it is. In the end, I felt as though I wasted hours of my life, reading about the small stories of a woman who obviously has a very skewed version of both America and reality. So therefore, this weeks BOTW only read if you want to know what is going to happen to our country if she reaches high office.



  

Wyoming Civil Unions Bill Fails in Committee

     Sad news from Wyoming today. In a 5-4 decision, state lawmakers voted to kill the legislation and not allow it to go to the floor for a vote. Citing reasons like the ambiguity of the bill, the two swing votes, voted against the legislation.

     What continues to astound me, is that those who want to "protect" traditional marriage most always oppose civil unions. They say that they do so because civil unions are just a "stepping stone" to gay marriage. Stepping stone or not, the real reason why they oppose civil unions is because they don't want LGBT people to have their relationships recognized by the government. Marriage is not the issue - it is that they want to keep their heterosexual relationships superior to gay and lesbian ones.

        Anyway, this news is rather disheartening for Wyoming, for though there is no chance for a marriage equality bill to be passed any time soon in the state, there was a possibility that if the civil unions bill would have reached the full legislature for a vote it would have been approved.  The Casper Star Tribune reports...

 Legislation that would have made Wyoming the third state to recognize civil unions narrowly failed in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.
The 5-4 vote to defeat House Bill 150 came after hours of impassioned testimony from supporters who said civil unions would give same-sex couples basic rights and opponents who claimed civil unions were a thinly disguised stepping stone to gay marriage.
But state Reps. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, and Frank Peasley, R-Douglas, who cast the deciding votes against the bill, opposed the proposal not on ideological grounds, but rather because they worried the wording of the bill -- which almost exactly mirrored the rights and responsibilities Wyoming law lists for marriage -– could lead to legal pitfalls in the future.
For example, Peasley pointed to a part of the bill stating that in a Wyoming civil union, like a marriage, the man in the partnership would be considered the father if the woman gets pregnant.
"What if it's two women that get into a civil union and one of them's pregnant?" Peasley asked. "How do we work that one?"
State Rep. Cathy Connolly, the Laramie Democrat who sponsored the bill, answered that "those were sticky wicket questions that might end up in court."
Nicholas, who supports civil unions in theory, also said Wyoming law already provides many of the same legal benefits the legislation sought to give civil union partners. For example, he said, whenever two Wyomingites who have joint assets split up, state courts have an established process for deciding how their property and assets should be divided.
Nicholas and Peasley, like a majority of Wyoming legislators, believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Earlier this week, the Wyoming Senate passed a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and the House narrowly approved a bill prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions from out of state.
On Friday, Judiciary Committee members killed a different bill by Connolly that would have legalized gay marriage outright; no committee members even moved to vote on the legislation, House Bill 149.
However, many anti-gay marriage legislators this session have said they see civil unions as an acceptable compromise -– so long, Nicholas said, as civil unions aren't just marriage by another name.
"There are ways to recognize a civil union -– you can try and put it together in a one-page bill," Nicholas said. "All you have to do is say you'll recognize [out-of-state] civil unions here as being a binding contract."

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Case For The Constitution: Federalist Three

      In todays reading of the Federalist, we see John Jay attempting to explain to the people of New York why it is better for the separate states to band together instead of be separate entities. To Jay, the main concern is the safety of the people within those states; and he believes that a strong central and unified government would be better able to provide for the defense of the people than small confederacies.

     I have one major issue with Jay in this paper, and this might me being nit-picky. But, if anyone reads Federalist three, they are bound to wonder where Jay gets his logic. To him, war is only about defense and protection from without. He does not necessarily see the United States as being the instigator in war, and instead sees it as being the "victim" of other nations imperial designs. Thus, in Jay's mind, it IS essential that there is a strong national government - for the states would not be able to defend themselves individually against a stronger more wealthy power. Yet, the converse could also be true, that individual states could not instigate wars like a strong national government would be able too. While reading this I found that Jay did not fully think through the logic and the converse of his position. And if anyone studies American history, you can see that the converse DID play itself out quite frequently.

     This Federalist also gives a little insight into the position of the Founders in regards to who they thought would be running the nation. You see, we as Americans are all under the delusion that our Founders believed in the goodness of the people, and that the common man could rise up and become a leader. This was not necessarily the case, as shown by the tone of Jay's words in Federalist 3. For he states,
When once and efficient national government is established, the best men in the country will not only consent to serve, but also will generally be appointed to manage it....hence it will result, that the administration, the political counsels, and the judicial decisions of the national government will be more wise, systematical and judicious, than those of individual states...
     Though he may be saying that the best will eventually rise to the top, who were the best men? Well, those who were able to get an education, had money, etc. As will be shown in further summary's of the Federalist Papers, our conception of the Founders may very well be skewed based upon preconceptions that we may have.  It is for these reasons that I am doing these surveys, for not only can we learn from the wisdom of these men, but we can also learn from the negative ideas that they espoused.

Questions:

1. Do you think that the Founding Fathers meant for the United States to be a government of the people and by the people - or were they specific in what type of "person" they wanted the government to be made of?

2. Does Jay's idea of a strong national government lend itself to encouraging conflict, rather than smaller state governments?

Breaking News!! Hawaii Senate Approves Civil Union

        Breaking News from Hawaii!! The State Senate - literally the ONLY roadblock in ensuring that civil unions legislation passes in the state, has voted 19-6 in approval of said legislation! Now the bill goes to the Hawaii House of Representatives, which has the votes needed to pass the legislation. After that on to Governor Neil Abercrombie, who has repeatedly stated that he supports civil unions. From NECN News


The Senate voted 19-6 for the bill Friday, sending it to the state House of Representatives for additional consideration. 
Hawaii would become the sixth state to grant some of the rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself. A civil unions bill also passed the Illinois Legislature last month. 
Democrats, who control the Hawaii Legislature, have said they plan to approve the bill quickly this year and send it to new Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature. Abercrombie has said he supports civil unions. 
A similar bill was vetoed last year by then-Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican.


One more step on the road to equality! It is a great day in Hawaii!!

The Situation in Uganda - Religion Gone Unrestrained.

      I thought I should comment on the situation that has been happening in Uganda over the past few days. If you have not heard, gay activist David Kato was murdered - only months after his name was splattered across newspapers in the country. There have been vigils and condemnation from around the world over this event. Even President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have denounced the murder and have called for Uganda to protect its citizens regardless of sexual orientation.

      The situation in Uganda demonstrates something that the LGBT community MUST start to make an issue. If anyone has followed this situation, there is a direct link to conservative Christian influence in Uganda to the results that we are seeing today. Though we can see this religious connection quite clearly - only those who are blind to the correlations can deny it - why are we seeing Ugandans act in the way that they are, and not seeing the same in the United States? Though I do think that we are seeing a "watered down" version of these consequences with the LGBT suicides - I think the difference is the type of message that is being conveyed and the honesty of the people in the different nations.

      We do not see the same blatant consequences of conservative religions in Western nations because in those nations religious leaders cannot use violent "lets kill them" rhetoric and thus it must water their words down. Does this mean that the feeling or the rhetoric is any different? Not at all. In Uganda we are seeing the natural consequences of the demeaning of LGBT people. We are seeing the consequences of blaming them for the social ills in the world, for saying that they are a threat to Christians, for saying that they are the reason that the family is falling apart. For Ugandans, LGBT people are a threat, and the state (heavily influenced by Christianity) must necessarily be at war with them. Thus, the only way to protect our society is to rid the world of LGBT people - which is exact sentiment that we are seeing in Uganda.

       In reality, the majority of the people of Uganda - in their blatant hatred for LGBT people (I know there are many people in Uganda that do not feel this way) - are being honest in their treatment of them. They believe that our community is a threat and thus are dealing with them as such. LGBT people are Christianity's "Al-Qaeda", and cannot therefore be tolerated. Western conservative Christianity on the other hand, recognizes that they cannot advocate for the murder and genocide of an entire community, so they instead try to bar said community from any form of societal recognition. Yet their rhetoric is the same. Just read the Manhattan Declaration - which I outlined in this blog - and you will see the same words that are being used in Uganda - just couched in more flowery language. The logical extension of the Western Christianities claims about LGBT people is calling, in fact, for their destruction.

      Though I admit that this conclusion will not at all be popular to my religious readers, I for one cannot shy away from it. To often we fail to realize that rhetoric and beliefs have consequences. We do not exist independently - what all of us do and say have consequences. I am sure that conservative Christians in the West are appalled by what is going on in Uganda, but that in no way changes their complicity. Their discriminatory rhetoric (disguised as niceties) of LGBT people and their relationships being somehow inferior to their heterosexual counterparts, does have real world impacts - the worst of which we are seeing in Uganda today. I write this today, not out of animus to those who are of the conservative religious mindset, instead I do it because I for one believe that it is time that the LGBT community hold the conservative branch of Christianity to account for their words and the actions that result from them. The time has started for us to not be silent.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Canada: Blood Agency Looking to Decrease Gay Blood Ban

This just in from the Toronto Star...


The federal blood agency says reducing the time men must wait before donating blood after homosexual activity would show the gay and bisexual community it is serious about change.
The Toronto Star reported Thursday that Canadian Blood Services believes a lifetime prohibition against accepting blood from men who have had sex with men at least once since 1977 is no longer justified and that it plans to ask Health Canada to relax the rules.
The agency is funding a $500,000 grant to research a new policy — which could mean changing the donor criteria to focus on specific high-risk sexual activities rather than orientation — but a spokeswoman said Thursday that it will not wait for those findings before approaching the federal government about shortening the deferral period.
“There’s got to be something we can do in the meantime,” said Lorna Tessier, director of public relations for Canadian Blood Services. She noted the grant has already been waiting for successful applicants since 2008.
The momentum for change followed an Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision last September that upheld the current policy but added there was insufficient evidence to support a lifetime ban.
“We’ve always agreed with that, so maybe it’s time for us to say: . . . ‘What change can we bring about now?’ ” Tessier said, explaining enough information is readily available from other countries that have gone that route for the agency to ask Ottawa to shorten the deferral period while it researches bigger steps.
The agency has thought about doing this before, but shortening the deferral period was met with resistance by both patient recipient groups and the gay and bisexual community, Tessier said. Recipients wanted to err on the side of caution and the gay community noted that asking gay men to be celibate for five or 10 years was a de facto lifetime ban.
Both sides are more willing to engage this time around, Tessier said, with gay advocacy groups saying, “Well, it’s still not going to help us, but at least it’s a goodwill gesture. It’s a step in the right direction toward change.’ ”
Tessier did not have a timeline for determining the length of the new deferral period and submitting the proposal to Health Canada, but said the agency plans to “finalize its approach” by the end of the year.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Kyle Freeman, a gay man the Ontario court decision found committed negligent misrepresentation when he falsely donated blood as many as 18 times over a dozen years after having had sex with another man.
“These are nice sentiments, but will it really affect change?” Freeman said, pointing out that even if Canadian Blood Services comes through, the federal government—and maybe politics—will then come into play. “It’s nice to be abstract, but deeds speak.”
A spokesman for Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said the government will evaluate any future submissions when the time comes.
“We’re going to wait and see what they recommend and then we will examine it and comment on it then,” said Tim Vail, her director of communications. “Other than that, anything else is just speculation and we’re just not going to go there.”
       Anyone who consistently reads this blog knows that I have dealt with this issue in the past.( I would encourage looking at that post as I have much better analysis). Though I do applaud the decision of the Blood Services to request that the Federal Government decrease the wait time for gay men to donate blood, it still differentiates between actions and orientation. The gay community is not upset that there is a ban per say, but it is upset that there is no legitimate reason for the ban to be in place. To prove my point, a heterosexual man who is having unprotected sex with a different partner every night can give blood, yet a homosexual man who has been in a monogamous relationship cannot. It should obviously be the other way around, since the heterosexual man is more of a threat to the blood supply than a homosexual one.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Belmont University Adds Sexual Orientation to Non-Discrimination Policy

     Some encouraging news out of my home state of Tennessee today. Belmont University in Nashville - which last month was engulfed in controversy because of the firing of an openly lesbian coach - has added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy. This is an great step for the University in three important ways. 


     First, it shows that Belmont wants to be included among the elites of academia - most of which would not stand for firing someone based upon their sexual orientation. Second, if affirms that you are able to hold devout religious beliefs (Belmont is a strongly Baptist school) and be a homosexual. Third, it will hopefully allow those students at Belmont who identify as LGBT to become more comfortable with their sexuality in such an overtly religious environment. The key to us winning the war against the debasement of LGBT people is by affirming our own sexuality and coming out, and the more that we do that in religious environments the better it will eventually get. 


The USA Today has the full story....


A university that came under fire from students for the departure of a lesbian women's soccer coach has added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy, but it was not clear whether it covered sexually active gays. 
President Bob Fisher announced the policy approved by trustees, but wouldn't answer questions Wednesday regarding ex-soccer coach Lisa Howe. The private university has said her departure on Dec. 2 was a mutual decision. But students and players protested, saying Howe was let go because she told them she was having a child with her same-sex partner. 
Belmont is a Christian university that had been affiliated with the Southern Baptists until it broke away in 2007. It is known nationally for its music business school and is widely regarded as progressive, so the accusation surprised some in the Belmont community. 
At the time of Howe's departure, Fisher said that the university does not consider sexual orientation in admissions or hiring decisions. On Wednesday, he said the policy change simply affirms the practices already in place. 
Asked whether his statements could be taken to mean that Howe was not pressured to leave because she came out to students, Fisher said he could not talk about any specific cases. 
"This is a great victory for the values of inclusion, human dignity and respect," Howe said in a statement. "I am grateful to the Belmont board for recognizing that being gay and being Christian are not mutually exclusive. This is a landmark day." 
Several reporters wanted to know whether Belmont was making a distinction between sexual orientation and sexual practice. 
Belmont's student code of conduct lists sex outside of marriage as "sexual misconduct." Since gays and lesbians cannot marry in Tennessee, there is no way for them to be sexually active without violating the code. 
Fisher would not say whether the new policy meant whether openly gay people could work at Belmont.
"I would put that in the category of a hypothetical," he said. 
Fisher was less equivocal when asked whether homosexual practice, and not just orientation, has affected any hiring or firing decisions at Belmont. 
"It has not, in my experience," he said.

Awesome Video from Iowa Subcommittee hearing!

I thought that I would share this amazing video from One Iowa. This is Pastor Matt Mardis-LeCroy, who asserts that it is not the state who needs to be involved in defining what marriage is and what it isnt. So get your hands out of the discussion. He also makes the great claim that by passing the resolution the State is discriminating against those churches who choose to marry gay and lesbian couples, in favor of those who do not. Go Pastor Matt!

The Case For The Constitution: Federalist Two

        One of the least known of the Founding Fathers, John Jay, was also a key contributer to the Federalist papers. In the second of the papers, Jay explains why a United nation is important, rather than small distinct confederacies.

      Should the United States be gathered under one National Government, or should it be divided into three or four distinct confederacies that would then "help each other out". To those who approved of the latter, they claimed that the national government has failed over the previous ten years. In response to this claim, Jay acknowledges that the union that the states have had under the Articles of Confederation was not ideal, yet puts the articles into the context of the time that they were written - during the tumultuousness times right after the War for Independence. Thus, should the national government be done away with because these Articles are not perfect? To Jay, the Union must be preserved at all cost; and as will be seen in future papers there is good reason for this.

    Jay then appeals to Americans peoples sense of purpose. For he states,
"This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous and alien sovereignties."
 This kind of rhetoricis not abnormal in American political literature, for it is hinting at the concept of American Exceptionalism- that Americans have been placed upon the world for a purpose. For Jay, Providence (God, or whatever you want to call him) has put Americans together the way that he has for a time just like this. Providence does not make mistakes, so therefore why should we as fallible humans break apart what He has put together.

      Jay finishes up the second of the Federalist Paper by discussing the nature of what is being placed before the American people. They are not being forced to adopt this new Constitution, they can choose to do something else, even split up the country like some have been proposing. But he warns that before any rash decisions are made, we must carefully consider all the options and weigh each one rationally. This is a good warning for us today, for many of us rely on emotion and reactions to get our point across, yet instead it is essential that we use logic and reason to explain why our opponents are wrong.

Question:

1. Does American Exceptionalism play an important part in the view that Americans take of themselves, and does it influence politics to this day?

Please Comment!!

Looking Good in Hawaii

        Two things happened yesterday in Hawaii that are news for rejoicing. First, the civil unions bill that was passed by the Hawaii legislature last year but vetoed by Republicans Governor Linda Lingle, passed the  Judiciary Committee of the State Senate - now all it has to do is go before the full Senate for a vote. On Top Mag has the story...


 A bill that would offer gay and lesbian couples identical benefits and responsibilities to marriage was approved by a Hawaii Senate panel on Tuesday, ABC-affiliate KITV reported.
The Judiciary Committee approved the measure with a 3-2 vote.
The civil unions measure is nearly identical to a bill approved last year by the Legislature and vetoed by then-Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican. In announcing her decision, Lingle said that she believed civil unions are “essentially same-sex marriage by another name.”
Voters on November 2 rejected Lingle's lieutenant governor, James “Duke” Aiona, to succeed her in the Governor's Mansion in favor of Democrat Neil Abercrombie. Aiona had pledged to back an amendment that would ban government recognition of all gay unions, closing the option for civil unions or domestic partnerships left open by a 1998 constitutional amendment granting lawmakers the power to define marriage as a heterosexual union. The measure overruled a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that favored gay marriage advocates. Abercrombie said he supported recognizing gay couples with civil unions.
      The only obstacle that is in the way of this legislation would be the approval of the State Senate, for the House as well as the Governor both support this measure. Therefore if you live in Hawaii make sure to call your Senators and tell them to vote YES on the civil unions bill. Capitol Switchboard is - 808-586-1449
        This was not the only news from Hawaii, for the current governor, Neil Abercrombie - also nominated an openly lesbian judge to the State Supreme Court. The Advocate reports...
Hawaii governor Neil Abercrombie nominated Sabrina Shizue McKenna to the Hawaii Supreme Court, where she would be the first openly gay judge, on the same day a senate committee advanced the civil unions measure.
According to the Star-Advertiser, McKenna, 53, is a longtime state judge and former University of Hawaii women’s basketball player. She was born in Tokyo and raised by a single mother.
Governor Abercrombie, a Democrat, called the appointment “the most important decision” in his career, reported theStar-Advertiser.
McKenna said that being the first openly gay member of the court could give "hope to people who feel that they cannot succeed” for reasons including sexual orientation.
Her appointment is subject to confirmation in the Hawaii senate judiciary committee.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Case For The Constitution: Federalist One

      As the State of the Union wraps up, it seems very appropriate that I start my series on one of the greatest works of American Political Theory: The Federalist Papers. Written by James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton, they mapped out why the Constitution was so important to the newly independent colonies. Federalist One - written by Alexander Hamilton - is an excellent opener to this series, as well as one which gives us great advice in todays political climate.

      Hamilton starts by asking whether or not mankind can craft a form of government themselves, or if they are dependent upon accident and force. Can man, being imperfect beings, develop a system of government that will lead to a perfect society? This is a question that has puzzled philosophers for years, and has been the driving force behind such thinkers as Hegel and Marx. Hamilton seems to agree that mankind CAN craft a legitimate form of government and that they are not dependent upon the time in which they exist.

     Further into the document, Hamilton gives us present day Americans a good piece of advice; one which we should take. He warns us that those who cry "for the people, for the people" are historically those who turn against the people and become tyrants in the end. For these sly politicians use the people as a stepping stone to gain notoriety and prestige, then when the time is right, the swoop in and go for the kill. Thus, Hamilton warns us to watch out for these type of people, for those who are concerned only about the "people", actually have no concern about the legitimacy of our form of government - for though our government is by and for the people - it also is constrained by the rule of law. This topic I have dealt with before, when discussing the judicial situation in Iowa.

     Hamilton closes his first paper on the Constitution with a reminder that passion - though good - should not be used in the place of reason. For Hamilton, passion blinds us to the facts and instills in us a bias that is very hard to overcome. I took this to heart, for I have recognized the need to train myself in logically going through an issue, rather than resorting to logical fallacies and incomplete information.

     So to my readers, I will leave you with the following two questions - which you can comment on in the comment section.

1. Is mankind able to produce a legitimate form of government, or because of our nature, will we naturally form a flawed one?
2. How have we seen passion triumph over logic in political debates in this country? How have we seen those who advocate "for the people", to actually have ulterior motives?

House Republicans to Address D.C. Marriage Issue

       It seems as though Republicans in the House of Representatives are gearing up for voting on marriage equality in the District of Columbia. Obviously they have headed the call of their darling organization - the National Organization for Marriage. For more analysis of this issue, I would recommended reading my post from last week on this issue. The Hill reports...
House conservatives say they will pursue legislation that would ban gay marriage in the nation’s capital.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), told The Hill that he will push for a vote on the controversial issue in the 112th Congress. The RSC has 175 members.  

“I think RSC will push for it, and I’m certainly strongly for it. I don’t know if we’ve made a decision if I’ll do it or let another member do it, but I’m 100 percent for it,” Jordan said.
In the last Congress, Jordan was the lead sponsor on the D.C. Defense of Marriage Act. The bill was introduced after the D.C. City Council and then-Mayor Adrian Fenty indicated they would recognize same-sex marriages. 

Jordan’s measure garnered 53 co-sponsors last year. But it is expected to attract more support in the GOP-led House in 2011. 

Recently, Jordan added his name to a legal brief with other gay-marriage opponents who challenged a decision by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics denying a ballot initiative banning gay marriage. The board concluded that such a ballot initiative would violate D.C.’s Human Rights Act.

Iowa House Committee OK's Marriage Amendment Bill

     Yesterday the Iowa House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted in a 13-8 vote to allow a Constitutional amendment to be debated by the full House - where it is expected to pass. Not only will this bill will not only eliminate marriage equality in the state, but it will also eliminate any chance of civil unions and domestic partnerships as well. The DesMoins Register has the complete story...


The Iowa House Judiciary Committee approved a proposal Monday to amend the Iowa Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages. The vote was 13-8, with Rep. Kurt Swaim, a Bloomfield lawyer, the only Democrat to join Republicans in supporting it. The resolution is now eligible for debate by the full House.
The amendment would not only prohibit same-sex marriages but also would deny state recognition to arrangements such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.
That prospect raises deep constitutional questions and almost certainly ensures that the measure, if approved, would be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, Drake University constitutional law scholar Mark Kende said Monday.
Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana and other states have passed similar amendments, and some are already in the appeals process. 
The resolution is expected to pass the House, where Republicans control 60 of 100 seats. It faces slimmer chances in the Senate, where Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has vowed to block a vote on the proposal.
The resolution reads, "Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state."
Kende, the Drake professor, said of the resolution: "The part that is most troubling is that it gets into something beyond marriage and into arrangements, family situations and unions that sometimes involve benefits. Once you start taking away benefits from one group and not others based on their status, then that is something the Supreme Court is skeptical about. I think it would raise a profound federal constitutional issue."
       I really appreciated the analysis by Constitutional scholar Mark Kende. Though he did not state the specific case law that would be used in a constitutional challenge, I am sure that he was thinking primarily of Romer v. Evans - a case where the people of Colorado voted to make LGBT people second-class citizens just because of their sexual orientation. The Supreme Court voided this law because it targeted a specific people group. Though this amendment will most likely NOT pass, because of the resilience of the Senate Majority Leader, I fear that nationally the LGBT right movement is in a very dangerous position. Though it seems as though we will have victory in Maryland and Rhode Island this year, those who do not support marriage equality are realizing that they are fighting a losing battle, and thus they are attempting to throw in our way any roadblock that they can. That is why we must keep up the good fight in places like Iowa and New Hampshire where the current marriage equality laws are threatened, and in Wyoming and North Carolina where bigotry is attempting to rear its ugly head.
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