PA Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

I can now legally marry in Pennsylvania.  Of course that would require having a partner but, theoretically, I now have equal marriage rights with straight Pennsylvanians thanks to Federal Judge John Jones.  The state’s constitutional ban on same sex marriages was declared a violation of the U.S. constitution’s Equal Protection clause and struck down.  The ACLU of PA led this fight and must be congratulated.

After the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling I predicted it would cause a cascade of individual state rulings and that’s exactly what has been happening.  No Federal judge can ignore the findings of that case and uphold these discriminatory laws.  Is there any news out of Butler County yet about Rep. Daryl Metcalf’s head exploding?

Pending a stay on appeal marriages should begin immediately and all those couples in the state who have wed elsewhere now have those marriages recognized under Pennsylvania law.  The case essentially wasn’t defended and Judge Jones granted a summary judgement based on the case briefs filed in his court.  Also, recall that this is a Republican Federal Judge.  Because there was no essential legal case made defending the old law the likelihood of a stay pending appeal is small.

It is a great day for equality in the Keystone State.

Rep. Brian Sims, the first openly gay person elected to the state legislature issued this statement:

“I join millions of Pennsylvanians today in supporting the federal court’s decision,” Sims said. “When Rep. Stephen McCarter, D-Montgomery, and I introduced the Pennsylvania Marriage Equality Act last fall, we recognized that numerous legal challenges throughout the Commonwealth had the potential to bring marriage equality much faster to the state, while our legislators sat on the sidelines. Today, a federal court in Pennsylvania has affirmed what a majority of Pennsylvanians already support: the fundamental right to marry the person they love.”

“I’m thankful for all of the hard work that has gotten us to this point. I’m proud to live in a state where I am one step closer to being an equal citizen. And I am empowered to ensure that we continue the effort to bring equality in the form of an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination law to the Commonwealth.”

Rep. Erin Molchany issued this:

“Today is a great day for equality.”

“Today’s decision to strike down Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional ban on marriage is a celebration of  human dignity and another step toward greater equality for all. Our friends and neighbors should not be denied basic rights because of who they love, and this decision is a great step forward for our commonwealth.”

DOMA Is Dead

The defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional according to a decision announced this morning by the Supreme Court.  The decision, written by Justice Kennedy, was expected because he is a major supporter of equal rights.  The Court says (in a 5-4 decision) that DOMA was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.  This is the argument I’ve been pushing for years:  it is unconstitutional to establish two classes of rights, one for straight people and another for gays and lesbians.

Court: No More H8 in California

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage this afternoon.  The 2-1 decision was issued following  a lengthy court battle where the proponents of hatred and bigotry were unable to mount any coherent legal argument for their position.  AFER, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, fought hard for this landmark civil rights action.

There is no longer any foundation for inequality in California.  The fight against Proposition 8 has been long and those against equal rights for all are bound to appeal this to the U.S. Supreme Court.  For now, however, all Californians will be equal in the eyes of the law when it comes to marriage.  Gays, lesbians and transgenders can now wed the person they love and enjoy the fruits of equality in more than just the taxes they pay.  

Herman Cain’s Sexual Infidelity

Ginger White went on Atlanta news last evening to disclose she had a 13 year intimate affair with the very married Herman Cain.  She says he broke it off about eight months ago which would probably coincide with his decision to run for president.  He denies the adultery but says the private sex lives of people are their own affair (pun intended) and not for public consumption.

This is the case for public persons who don’t claim the moral high ground, don’t comment on the sexual affairs of others, who don’t judge other people’s private sexual affairs or who don’t adopt “family values” as a political position.  Let us take the issue of gay marriage for instance, Cain opposes the right of gay Americans to have their loves and relationships equal with those of straight Americans.

Cain actually has a section on his campaign site dedicated to “family values.”  The difference between Bill Clinton’s infidelities and Cain’s is hypocrisy and that’s what makes it relevant.  If you’re going to stand and claim to be holier than thou you’d better be.  Ask Joe Paterno about it.  Bill Clinton never claimed to be a saint and we all knew he wasn’t so when Monica’s blue dress came out who cared?

Herman Cain can’t run on family values and against gay marriage when it appears he’s a sexual harasser and had a 13 year adulterous relationship.  We aren’t talking about a fling here but a long extramarital relationship.  He announced yesterday he will attend a family values conference in Arizona.  Gloria Cain went on Fox News after the sex harassment allegations defending her husband.  I wonder how she feels this morning?  Does she know who “that person” is today?  We do.

The issue here isn’t adultery it is hypocrisy.  I don’t actually care who Cain has slept with or what they did in bed though I know Rick Santorum will.  Cain cannot claim same sex relationships are immoral however when he is an adulterer.  He cannot run on “family values” knowing he had a 13 year affair with Ginger White.  The man is a lying phony who lives by the principle of “do as I say not as I do.”  He has no moral authority to dictate to me who I sleep with or what I do privately or whether I can be equal with him under law.  He’s nothing but a lying hypocrite.

The Prop H8 Decision

Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision overturning California’s Proposition 8 was a welcome relief for all those who cherish equality under law.  The well reasoned and well written decision outlined the case quite well and undercut all of the myths and bigoted beliefs against granting all Americans identical access to what it terms a “fundamental right.”  The proponents of sexual apartheid actually were forced into a federal court to prove the fear mongering advertisements they used to convince voters gays and lesbians were evil sexual predators looking to recruit children.  Of course this is as nonsensical as many of the conservatives other beliefs and they were unable to prove any of it in court.

So bad was their case the Judge totally dismissed the testimony of their “expert witnesses” because, as it turned out, they weren’t experts at all.  In fact they hadn’t even read most of the studies on the matter.  Their opinions weren’t supported by any facts and therefore their case was thrown out.

Judge Walker affirmed that marriage is a fundamental right which has undergone massive changes in our country’s history.  He also cited cultures where homosexuality is open and accepted and where couples are free to wed.  Studies prove children of same sex parents grown up as well adjusted as any others and that there is no risk to child molestation.  In fact the vast majority of sexual molesters are white heterosexual men.  

The decision also affirms the right that no minority group can have their fundamental rights stripped away at the ballot box.  Judge Walker condemned the practice early in his written  dissertation.  An appeal of the decision was filed yesterday but, by my understanding of the law, it must be based on this case as presented to this court.  If so I don’t understand how this can be overturned because the case presented by the proponents was so weak as to be wholly dismissed.

It is difficult to describe what this means to the LGBT community.  We were demonized, victimized and described as sub human by those against gay marriage in thousands of commercials, speeches and campaign materials during a campaign which became known as Proposition H8.  The Mormon Church combined with evangelical christian cults to raise millions of dollars to spread their message of hate and they failed.  Some friends and regular readers of TPP happened to be in Salt Lake City at the time and report that thousands of gays and lesbians marched on the LDS tabernacle and surrounded it celebrating the overturning of Prop H8 and desired to let the Mormon cult know how happy they were justice was served.  The Mormons locked down their temple trapping my friends inside.

Mary Matalin, on CNN Thursday morning claimed gay marriage is not a civil right and called the decision an “overreach.”  She obviously hadn’t read it and we know why she’s a pundit and not a lawyer.  Marriage has been a right and Judge Walker termed it a “fundamental right.”  There are 1138 federal rights which go with marriage and this is why another Judge (Republican at that) recently ruled the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.  You cannot have separate classes of citizens under the law and depriving LGBT citizens of those rights creates a system of sexual apartheid.  That is clearly unconstitutional.

The Judge also declared Prop 8 unconstitutional under the due process clause.  Since same sex couples are forced to pay lawyers to draft legal documents in lieu of a right to marry they are deprived of property without due process.  Since married couples are documented to live longer and earn greater assets this also creates a violation of due process.  Denying anyone of life, liberty or property without due process is unconstitutional.

Tea Partiers are so fond of their pocket constitutions but they either don’t read it or don’t comprehend its meanings.  Judge Walker does and determined that no one has the right to deprive someone else of their rights.  It really is as simple as that.

Marriage Equality: Details You Should Know to Make it Happen

( – promoted by John Morgan)

Cross Posted from SumofChange.com

Also from the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit (paprogressivesummit.com), I’d like to bring you a few videos form a panel simply entitled ‘Marriage Equality’.  On this panel, the speakers discussed the benefits, issues, and consequences or allowing homosexual couples marriage rights equal to those of heterosexual ones.  The panelists and approached the topic from a variety of angles.  Some spoke about the legal issues equality, both in the PA state legislature and in the constitution, others talked about the religious aspects, especially from the Christian and Jewish traditions, and others talked about the moral and human rights aspect of the debate.

The clips below go into many of the arguments against marriage equality and gay marriage and why most of them struggle for validity.  The first video, PA state senator Daylin Leach, who sponsored a bill in the PA state legislature in support on marriage equality, goes into many of the arguments against gay marriage that he has heard while debating the bill.  As he says, no one has debated him twice, because no one has presented him an argument with any validity.  The second video looks at many of the religious issues brought up by the marriage equality debate.  Many think that religion has no part of the legal debate over gay marriage and often when religion is invoked, it is done so incorrectly.  Finally, the last clip discusses why marriage equality supporters should want legalized gay marriage and not civil unions.  Civil unions seem like an acceptable compromise, but really they are impractical and still discriminatory.

For more videos from the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit, go to SumofChange.com/paprog

For more info on the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit and it’s organizer, Keystone progress, please go to paprogressivesummit.org and keystoneprogress.org

Pennsylvania Legislature Becoming Gay Marriage Battleground

Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County announced he will introduce a bill providing full and equal marriage rights to same sex couples while neanderthals like Rep. Metcalfe and Sen. Eichelberger seek to enshrine discrimination into the constitution by permanently preventing GLBT residents from having equal rights.  Leach should attach an amendment to that bill then exempting gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders from all state taxes in lieu of our second class rights status.

This isn’t some religious argument tendered over which archaic clause or interpretation of some old book of myths and fables one believes.  It is a legal matter of who has certain rights and who does not.  Some people have these rights and some do not.  Our national constitution and our ethics require that all Americans be treated fairly, justly and LEGALLY under the law.  That is not the case.  Sen. Leach is to be commended for having the courage to stand for equality.  Sen. Eichelberger should return to his cave.

The Value All Families Coalition released this statement on Sen. Leach’s bill:

Civil Rights Coalition Commends State Senator’s Marriage Proposal

(Harrisburg) Civil rights organizations across Pennsylvania today commended Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach for his intention to introduce legislation that would grant full marriage equality to same-sex couples.  The Value All Families Coalition praised Senator Leach’s longstanding dedication to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, calling the proposed legislation an inspiring glimpse into the future of equality for all Pennsylvania couples.

“We absolutely look forward to the day when all Pennsylvania families can enjoy the same benefits and protections under the law that heterosexual couples currently have,” said Jake Kaskey, policy and outreach coordinator of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania.  “We are grateful for all of the work that Senator Leach has done on behalf of the LGBT community over the years and look forward to seeing full equality reached for all LGBT people.”

Senator Leach’s decision to introduce an inclusive marriage bill comes as other states, including Iowa and Maine, pass same-sex marriage legislation and one day after California’s Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, an amendment to California’s constitution prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples.  It also comes at a time when the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is debating House Bill 300, legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

“Gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and responsibilities as all other married couples across Pennsylvania,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “We look forward to demonstrating the need to recognize every relationship across Pennsylvania.”

Senator Leach’s proposed legislation, which is currently circulating for co-sponsorship, was announced just days after another state senator, John Eichelberger (R-Blair), announced his intent to introduce a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

Numerous studies have shown that states that grant marriage equality to all couples receive significant economic benefits.  The New York City Comptroller issued a report this week declaring that marriage equality for LGBT couples in New York would garner the state an additional $210 million in revenue in the first three years.

The Value All Families Coalition is comprised of diverse statewide, regional, and local organizations that support equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians.

,/BLOCKQUOTE>

The Sky is Falling, the Sky is Falling

Word has it the first same sex marriages will take place in California today and major news organization are scattered around the state waiting for the sky to fall or for California to crack off and float out to sea and sink or some other horrific event to take place that the anti-gay religious nut jobs keep insisting will happen. The end of civilization is upon us!!!

OK maybe not so much, but to hear these people that is what you would think is going to happen.

Unfortunately for the anti-gay marriage forces, today is likely to be different in California (from any other day) only for those people who now gain the recognition and equal treatment under law they have long deserved.

What I’m waiting to see is how many heterosexual marriages fall apart in Cali starting tomorrow simply because gay people started getting married in Cali today…I bet we all know the answer (hint…it’s less than 1).

The Last Desperate Measure…well maybe not the Last…

The Campaign for California Families today filed with the California Court of Appeal a motion to stay the California Supreme Court’s May 15 ruling striking down state Family Code provisions that discriminate against gay and lesbian partners as unconstitutional. CCF filed a similar motion with the California Supreme Court on May 30, which was rejected by the high court on June 4.

As wacky as California can be sometimes, even in Cali, a lower court cannot reverse or stay the decision of a higher court…which is what these desperate people are asking the Court of Appeals to do. The Court of Appeals is a lesser court than the Supreme Court. Oddly the word ‘Supreme’ in the name of the court would be, to any rational person, a dead giveaway. But then again, for these people, ‘rational’ seems to have gone out the door.

How much do these people hate and fear gay folks that they are willing to try this absurd path? And more importantly…why?

Someone needs to help me understand please…Government controls marriage licenses, citizens pay taxes, government is supposed to imposed laws on all citizens equally….so why aren’t ALL citizens entitled to the same rights and benefits ofcitizenship? Why MUST it be one rules for gay folk and one rule for non-gay folk….I just don’t understand.