Category Archives: marriage equality

Marriage Equality Gains Support

The Pew Research Center reports that more Americans are supporting the supposed all-American principle of equality for all. I find this really refreshing–especially these days when LGBT kids especially are not believing that there is any future for them and are committing suicide.

I hope that older members of the LGBT community will go out there and talk to kids and let them know that there is a future after the travail of growing up gay. I applaud Dan Savage’s It Gets Better initiative. More of us have got to speak the truth to LGBT youth. I want LGBT youth to expect total equality. Not just marriage equality.

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Odds on Marriage Equality in Prop. 8 Case

Pat Gozemba

Listening to Ted Olson and David Boies on Bill Moyers’ Journal gave me great hope that our cause for marriage equality was in good hands. Like many in the LGBT community, I had to evolve to this position. Olson’s role in the Bush administration gave me great pause in jumping to trust him. The presence of Boies made me believe that I ought to be open-minded.

If they are successful in challenging Proposition 8 with the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case, Olson and Boies may win marriage equality for LGBT people in 45 states. This would be a major sweep for civil rights. It would also make those of us in the five states and one jurisdiction that have marriage equality feel more secure.  There are, however, possibilities that the outcome of the case may have downsides for the LGBT community.

Matt Coles, head of  the ACLU’s LGBT Project, has given us some scenarios on Huffington Post of what the decision of the Federal District Court may be. Well worth reading.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Equality Time Warp in Hawai’i

Pat Gozemba

Yesterday at the Hawai’i State Capitol we celebrated a Senate vote of 18-7 in favor of civil unions. There is some irony in the celebration because in 1993 Justice Steven Levinson, writing for the majority, ruled in Baehr v. Lewin that same-sex couples should not be denied marriage equality.

But yesterday, 16 years later, I found myself with Justice Levinson and hundreds of others celebrating the first step of achieving relationship equality in Hawai’i: passing a civil unions bill out of the Hawai’i state senate.

Levinson.20100123_nws_gay2

Supporters of the civil unions bill — including Pat Gozemba, left, and retired state Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson — celebrated yesterday. In 1993, Levinson co-authored the decision saying that Hawaii needed a “compelling state interest” for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Photo by Dennis Oda of The Star Bulletin.

How did Hawai’i get itself in this time warp? A constitutional ballot amendment in 1998 gave the legislature the authority to determine what marriage is. The legislature chose the discriminatory route: one man and one woman.

But the legislature did not take the ultimately discriminatory route and institutionalize marriage inequality in the state constitution through a constitutional convention.

The Hawai’i House of Representatives will now take up the civil unions bill. Marriage equality, a glimmer of hope in 1993, seems so remote.

Lying to Defeat Marriage Equality

by Pat Gozemba

Karen Ocamb wrote an insightful and very instructional piece, “Federal Challenge to Prop 8 Hearing Today,” in LGBT.POV. Ocamb is focused on the Ted Olson and David Boies federal suit on behalf of Americans for Equal Rights. They have set out to prove the unconstitutionality of Prop 8. Ocamb gives important context for today’s case. All of us who are struggling to achieve marriage equality should read her article and consider the strategies that our opponents are mounting against us.

I’m back in Hawaii and looking forward to joining with the LGBT community and our many allies in trying to bring some semblance of equality to this island state where the contemporary marriage equality movement all began with a favorable court decision in 1993. Sure, the brave decision of the Hawai’i high court brought about the backlash of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, but it also woke up many of us to come to believe that we deserved the right to marry. No matter how many states put in place their own versions of DOMA, the very possibility of a hope for equality ignited the imaginations of millions of people committed to justice.

Since 1993, the creativity of civil rights activists across the country has brought us to courts, legislatures, and public forums of all sorts. It’s pumped up our grassroots organizations like the Courage Campaign and Join the Impact and some of the tried and true warriors on our side like the American Civil Liberties Union.

But that, sixteen year-old court victory in Hawai’i has done the same for the anti-equality movement, those who want to assure that they are more equal and more righteous. Their forums have largely been hidden behind church doors and fueled by church coffers. The religious engines that are stoking the denial of our civil rights are Catholic and Mormon. They have created the National Organization for Marriage, a slick hate group that has served as a conduit for Mormon and Catholic money and kept up an internet presence.

The anti-equality side also hit pay dirt when they hired political consultants Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint to run the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign in California (2008) and then the “Yes on 1 Stand for Marriage” campaign in Maine (2009). The campaigns were virtually the same and were fueled by the big lies of made up “consequences,” of marriage equality particularly the sure-fire inner, the teaching of gay marriage to schoolchildren. We will hear this and all of their other nightmarish projections all over the country. The lies work.

As the Hawai’i Family Equality Coalition focuses its attention on the state senate in hopes of passing HB 444 a civil unions bill, we would all do well to study Karen Ocamb’s analysis of the strategies that Olson and Boies are using in federal court as well as those of Schubert and Flint that local copycats like the Hawaii Family Forum and Transformation Hawai’i.

LGBT allies, read and study Ocamb’s article.


Powerful, Handsome, Rich and Anti-Equality

By Pat Gozemba

“Powerful, handsome, rich people like JFK Jr. and Princess Di are dead so now it’s up to me to take care of the world.” So saith Republican Scott Brown, candidate for the US Senate seat once occupied by Ted Kennedy. Don’t believe me? I know it’s pretty unbelievable.

On December 11th , WCVB-TV Channel 5 in Boston ran a piece on Brown and his opponent Democrat Martha Coakley. She talked about her heroes, people like Abigail Adams and John Adams. But Brown identified with the “powerful, handsome and rich”—JFK, Jr. and Princess Di. He promised to pick up where they left off. He’s alive. They’re dead. It’s up to Scott. Check it out:

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/21945397/index.html

Tina Fey couldn’t have thought up a better routine to pump up Coakley’s campaign.

Besides his sheer arrogance, I am truly disturbed by his consistent commitment to deny equality to LGBT people in Massachusetts. Whenever there is an opportunity to make sure: that funding does not go to LGBT youth, that marriage equality should be blocked, that the rights of trans people should be curtailed, that LGBT seniors should not get the same coverage that heterosexuals get, Brown is there in the Massachusetts Senate to vote anti-equality.

In contrast, Coakley continues to be one of the LGBT community’s staunchest allies. As Massachusetts Attorney General her most recent bold move on our behalf was in challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). On July 8, 2009, Coakley became the highest elected official in the US to take on this discriminatory federal act. No other attorney general in our country had the insight or guts to file a case in a federal district court challenging this blatantly discriminatory act.

Brown did not vote to support marriage equality in Massachusetts—even over a 5 year period. Nothing. He’s that far away from even imagining looking for equality for LGBT people at the federal level. Meanwhile Coakley’s office explained the discrimination against us in the July 8th press release:

“The Commonwealth’s complaint alleges that Section 3 of DOMA unlawfully creates separate and unequal categories of married individuals in Massachusetts, due to the fact that only different-sex married couples are considered married under federal law.  Among other things, DOMA prohibits married individuals in same-sex relationships from taking advantage of the ability to file a joint federal tax return, Social Security survivor benefits, guaranteed leave from work to care for sick spouses, flexible spending accounts for medical expenses of spouses, and gift tax and estate tax exemptions for spouses.  These rights and protections affect all facets of life from the workplace to healthcare to retirement, and every married person is affected significantly by these laws.

The Attorney General’s Office further contends that Section 3 of DOMA unlawfully requires Massachusetts to disregard valid marriages in its implementation of federally funded programs.  The complaint focuses specifically on two programs, MassHealth and veterans’ cemeteries.” More

The senate choice for people who support civil rights for LGBT people is clear: Coakley.  What Brown fails to realize is that the “powerful, handsome, rich” JFK Jr. and Princess Di actually did support civil rights for LGBT people, as did Ted Kennedy.

Handsome is as handsome does, Scott.

Marriage Proposal

Tambry makes a long-distance proposal to Suzanne

Tambry makes a long-distance proposal to Suzanne

Tambry arrived in Massachusetts from Honolulu, HI, a week ago to help out with Maine’s “No on 1” campaign. Then she realized, she could do more than fight for the right to marriage—she could marry her partner of 28 years here in Massachusetts. So an elaborate proposal was put together long-distance, that included the above photograph. Suzanne said “yes”—and on Saturday, November 7, Suzane and Tambry will marry in Salem, MA, with many of our Courting Equality friends there as witnesses. Suzanne and daughter, Shylar, fly in on November 4 to begin the festivities! Everybody wish them well!

Maine: Will Voters Protect All families?

Pat Gozemba

The “No on 1: Protect Marriage Equality” effort is a civil rights movement to support and protect all Maine families. In contrast, the conservative religious fundamentalist, “Yes on 1: Stand for Marriage Maine,” movement is an effort to limit the rights of families to the heterosexual one man one woman variety. Despite high divorce rates in heterosexual families, fundamentalists opposed to marriage equality insist that the heterosexual dyad is where it is at for raising children. They ignore the reality of successful parenting among single parents and same-sex couples—who are increasingly approaching over half of the families raising children in this country. Preserving heterosexual superiority is the agenda of the Catholic Church, Protestant fundamentalists, and especially Mormons. Not surprisingly these groups are the largest contributors to the Yes on 1 campaign in Maine.

In asserting heterosexual superiority, fundamentalists insist that granting the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples will be giving them special rights, privileges, and benefits. Unspoken is the conservative commitment to reinstating patriarchy. Their movement is bigger than an assault on LGBT civil rights. It is an assault on feminism and a longing for “the way things used to be” before women raised their voices for equality and gays and lesbians busted down closet doors. Most of all it is a cruel denial of reality.

According to the 2000 Census, self-identified LGBT families are in 99% of all US counties and in 96% of those counties these families are raising children. Maine is probably no different. Children in LGBT families are usually not LGBT. They are heterosexual kids who are in our schools and have to listen to ads on TV and radio that denigrate their LGBT parents.

Families are supposed to be our safe havens. Indeed they serve that purpose for other minorities. But LGBT kids are not likely to have LGBT parents and they often have no one at home who understands them. Perhaps they are in a heterosexual family that supports denying any rights, especially marriage to LGBT people. What message are these heterosexual parents giving to their LGBT kid? You’re not worthy of rights, especially the right to marry.

Maine voters have an opportunity to affirm all of Maine’s families at the polls on November 3rd. Voters have an opportunity to protect all of Maine’s children making sure that the families that they live in are protected by all the rights, privileges, and benefits that is the birthright of all Americans. Marriage is the gold-standard for family protection in this country and that is why LGBT people are seeking it.