Kane Gets Blowback on DOMA Decision

Attorney General Kathleen Kane is getting blowback this week on two separate issues.  First is her shameless wrangling to evict Judge Barry Feudale from his responsibilities overseeing central PA grand juries.  The second is over her decision not to defend the state’s Defense of marriage law in a suit filed by the ACLU.  Right wing ideologues are scorching her for this claiming she must because it is her duty to uphold the law, in this case, a law which has been declared unconstitutional on the federal level.

How can a law which has been declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court be defended on a state level?  It is no longer lawful and therefore indefensible.  Why is it these idiots, blinded by their bigotry, cannot understand that she is defending the law of the land by not defending this state one in court?

Kane Won’t Defend Pennsylvania Marriage Ban

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced yesterday her office will not defend the state’s DOMA law in a legal action entered into federal court by the ACLU of PA on behalf of two dozen same sex couples.  The Commonwealth passed the law limiting rights and we just saw the U.S. Supreme Court strike down the federal law as unconstitutional.  If the federal law is unconstitutional because its violates couple’s rights then each state law is also unconstitutional.  Unfortunately they will need to be litigated on a state by state basis.  Ours is the first such challenge to be filed nationally.

I called for such action the day the SCOTUS decision was issued, challenging my peers in committed relationships to seek marriage licenses then hire civil rights counsel to challenge the law.  This is what the ACLU is doing.  There’s no way, following the SCOTUS decision, that a Judge can go against that momentous, landmark decision and uphold these discriminatory laws.

Meanwhile State Reps Brian Sims and Steve McCarter  have co-sponsored a marriage equality bill in Harrisburg.  Sims is the first openly gay person elected to that body in Pennsylvania.  McCarter issued this statement yesterday following the Kane announcement:

I’m extremely proud of Attorney General Kane for doing what is best for Pennsylvanians and agreeing that we must not stand in the way of progress and true marriage equality for all,” McCarter said. “The law banning gay marriage is obsolete and frankly, a violation of the rights of thousands of LGBT citizens.

“It’s the right thing to do and is a fundamental civil rights issue,” McCarter said.

The lawsuit challenging the gay marriage ban was filed in federal court on Tuesday by two dozen Pennsylvania residents seeking to force Pennsylvania to allow them to marry or recognize their same-sex marriages performed in other states.

“Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast that does not allow either gay marriage or civil unions, which only acts as a detriment to our state,” McCarter said. “I’m honored to be working with Representative Brian Sims to gather support in the legislature for a bill that would legalize gay marriage and finally bring true marriage equality to all Pennsylvanians.”

 

ACLU, Couples Seek to Overturn Marriage Ban

The Pennsylvania ACLU is suing to overturn the state’s ban on same sex marriage in an action representing four couples denied equality under the law.  As I predicted after the SCOTUS decision on DOMA there is now legal precedent that denial of equal justice under law is unconstitutional and a gateway towards overturning state marriage bans.

If DOMA is unconstitutional then so is Pennsylvania’s ban on same sex marriage.  This lawsuit will take this case to federal court where the Supreme Court decision will be the basis of the decision.  The Court made very clear that gay couples cannot be denied the same benefits provided heterosexual couples who are allowed to marry and given rights denied under the law to LGBT couples.  The law of the land now says this is illegal.

Equality Pennsylvania Statement

Equality Pennsylvania issued this statement today on the two landmark Supreme Court cases:

In response to these decisions, Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, the state’s leading advocacy organization for gay and transgender people, released the following statement:

“The striking down of DOMA brings about a joyous day for loving, married couples and their families.  Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that all loving and committed couples who marry deserve equal legal respect and treatment.

The historic ruling on Prop 8 means the swift restoration of the freedom to marry in California.  Now same-sex couples can legally marry in 13 states and Washington, DC, and more than 93 million Americans – nearly a third of the population – live in a jurisdiction with marriage for all families. Because of today’s rulings, all of these families now have access to comprehensive federal and state protections to take care of the ones they love.

While this is a day of celebration for legally married same-sex couples, 37 states — including Pennsylvania — still treat gay and lesbian citizens and their children as unequal and second-class.  But work to win the freedom to marry here in the commonwealth will continue.

People all across the country, and right here in the Keystone State, are ready for a conversation about marriage. In the months and years ahead, we look forward to talking with our neighbors about why marriage matters to all Pennsylvania families.”

 

Casey Comes Around On Marriage Equality

I stand corrected.  I said anyone hoping Sen. Casey would change his mind and support marriage equality had best not hold their breath waiting.  Today he reversed his long standing position and not only supports it but says DOMA should be repealed.

Thank you Senator.

A statement today from Equality Pennsylvania:

Equality Pennsylvania Applauds U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s Leadership

Harrisburg – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey announced his support for extending the freedom to marry to all loving, committed couples. His announcement follows weeks of pressure from Equality Pennsylvania and its partners, including Keystone Progress and Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania.

“We applaud Senator Casey’s courage and leadership,” said Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania. “Marriage matters for all families, and Senator Casey’s support for marriage for all committed couples puts him squarely on the right side of history.”

Over the past several weeks, fair-minded Pennsylvanians flooded the Senator with more than 10,000 calls and e-mails. They were urging the Democratic Senator to join with the majority of his colleagues in the Senate and endorse marriage for all couples. Senator Casey had been one of less than 10 Democrats in the Senate who hadn’t voiced support for extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

“Across the country, we’ve seen an incredible sea change in public opinion on this issue. As Americans come to know their gay coworkers and neighbors, they’re coming to support the freedom to marry for all loving couples,” said Martin. “Like most of us, Senator Casey has given the issue a lot of thought, and he’s realized how much it hurts committed same-sex couples to be denied the protection, dignity, and respect of marriage.”

From Rep. Brian Sims who sent the Senator a letter last week on the issue:

April 1, 2013 (PHILADELPHIA): Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims (D – Phila.) today applauded Senator Bob Casey for coming out in support of same-sex marriage. Rep. Sims had just last week penned an open letter to the Senator urging him to stand up and voice his support for LGBT equality.

“Senator Casey is a thoughtful and contemplative man who today not only listened to the millions of voices of Pennsylvanians calling for him to support same-sex marriage, but strongly voiced that support as well,” Rep. Sims said. “I am pleased to see Senator Casey responding to the voices of his constituents and am eager to work with him in reaching out to the hundreds of thousands of LGBT Pennsylvanians who can now count on his support for LGBT equality.”

On Thursday of last week, Rep. Sims, Pennsylvania’s first openly gay elected state legislator, penned an open letter to Senator Casey urging him to take a stand and voice his support for LGBT equality.

“Senator, the same people who voted for me, voted for you, and I am so excited to report that a vast majority of them now support LGBT equality.” Rep. Sims wrote in his open letter. “So too do a majority of your Democratic colleagues. In fact, as of [March 28] you are one of only nine Democrats in the Senate who does not support marriage equality.”

Along with Rep. Sims, a chorus of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians flooded Senator Casey’s offices with letters and phone calls asking him to support same-sex marriage in efforts led by Equality Pennsylvania, Keystone Progress, and Moveon.org.

State House Endorsement: Babette Josephs

Babette Josephs is in the fight of her career to keep her House seat in Center City Philadelphia.  Attorney Brian Sims is challenging her after serving as her campaign Treasurer in 2010.  He has raised $150,000 through extensive contacts nationwide.  Brian was an out football player at Bloomsburg and tours the nation speaking on campuses about LGBT issues.  He is the past President of the Board of Directors of Equality Pennsylvania.  Brian is a great guy and would make a good State Representative.  The problem is that Center City already has a great State Representative.

I’ve had a few issues with Babette, nothing major.  I wasn’t happy when, as Chair of the State Government Committee she buried legislation which would have mandated a citizens Reapportionment Commission.  Then, after the 2010 primary her campaign stiffed me on an $80 flash drive I’d loaned them.  I’m not going to let that personal feeling dictate my endorsement decision however.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is the extremist, fringe Republican currently chairing the State Government Committee.  He’s ruling over it like the fascist he is and Babette is standing up to him, every day.  She is in Harrisburg standing up for all of us, representing us in a very progressive manner and defending women’s rights, gay rights and civil liberties.  She is fearless and refuses to be bullied.  I can’t imagine not having her on our side fighting our battles against the far right wing agenda.

Sims wouldn’t have the kind of influence, power and clout which Josephs brings to Harrisburg.  When the going gets tough I want Babette in there fighting for us.

Equality Pennsylvania Roasts Adrian Shanker

I’m not sure when I first met Adrian Shanker.  It may have been a Planned Parenthood event at Muhlenberg College, perhaps Gay Pride, maybe some political debate in the Valley.  I meet a lot of people doing what I do so its tough to recall.  I’ve met few young people with the heart, dedication and the passion that Adrian has though.  His drive to improve the lives of LGBT Pennsylvanians knows no bounds however and today, as President of the Board of Directors, Equality Pennsylvania roasted him on his 25th birthday.

Adrian impressed me when I got to know him.  He was a student leader at Muhlenberg and began working on Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s re-election campaign and other important progressive things.  He got involved with the Pennsylvania Diversity Network and then Equality PA.

This morning over 200 people, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and a few straight ones, gathered in Allentown to celebrate his 25th birthday by roasting him.  Adrian is so nice most of the roasters had to roast each other instead.  Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, rumored to be a somewhat handsome fellow, went first followed by Easton Councilman and consultant Mike Fleck.  Comic Ryan Hill emceed the stage and attempted to teach the others some fine points of comedy.  Lehigh County Dems Chair Bar Johnston went next and then Pawlowski took his turn.  Finally Adrian got the chance to have his fun at their expense.  It was a fun Sunday and raised a good amount for Equality Pennsylvania.  I can’t post all the video because its such good blackmail material…  Opposition researchers would have a field day with it.  Therefore I’ll post a few pics:

The guest of honor Adrian Shanker:

Adrian, the Mayors and Mike Fleck:

The roasters:

Mayor Callahan:

Some of the attendees:

Chris Dietz:

Equality Pennsylvania head (on the left) Ted Martin (aka the Lavendar Light Special):

Jim Schlener:

John Campbell, Alex Reber and Dietz:

Kathryn Boockvar:

Doylestown Councilman Det Ansinn:

Jackson Eaton and his Congressional campaign manager:

The stage:

News & Notes April 1, 2012

Happy April Fools Day.  Rick Santorum decided to play one on the country by running for president.

I have oral surgery Monday morning so I may be AWOL for the day.  I’m having a wisdom tooth pulled, start the jokes now.

I was in Allentown today for an Equality Pennsylvania roast of their Board President Adrian Shanker.  Roasting him were Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Easton Councilman Mike Fleck, Lehigh County Chair Bar Johnston and emcee Ryan Hill.  I have video but I’m afraid to post it to the blog.  Opposition researchers could have a field day with it sometime.  I’ll have more on that later.

John Callahan did the joke about the difference between a gay man and a straight one:  five drinks.  I hung around after the event when I saw him by the bar.  He was already up to number two and I was willing to buy three more.

Our servers were down yesterday so I apologize for the blog not being accessible.  So much for moving to new cloud servers.  We’ll just blame it on the weather.

I didn’t win Mega Millions Friday so you’re stuck with me a little longer.  I needed the cash to pay my gas bill.  I’m not saying I’ve been driving much but I got into the car after Thursday nights debate in Annville and couldn’t remember where I was and which direction home was…  Thank goodness I have GPS on my iPhone.

Speaking of the Lehigh Valley former DA candidate Ed Koren is suing the Keystone Kops for disclosing what they thought was damaging information about him to the Morning Call.  It was dirty politics by an agency which shouldn’t be involved in anything political.  its yet another example of how political the current Governor’s office has become.

I love this story about how an abortion clinic’s landlord has turned the table on its protesters.

There’s a lot of new pressure on Santorum to exit the presidential field after he used the “N” word on President Obama this week.  It slipped through his lips like the comment about Blah people a while back.  Excuse yourself Rick, your racism is showing.

Former NBA player, Penn State alumnus and my Skull and Bones Brother John Ameachi had a few words to say on the subject:

PA Just Powers is running a powerful ad against Corbett:

Seven municipalities sued the state over the new law which strips them of their democratic right to govern their own towns, boroughs and townships.

Republicans were busy in DC last week.  They all voted to allow employers to demand your facebook password, further eroding personal privacy rights, then voted, once more, to dismantle and privatize Medicare.  Then they voted to keep corporate welfare payments to “struggling” oil companies and expand tax cuts for the very rich.  Explain to me again why you voted for all these fools?  On April 1st, you’re the fool if you did.

Here in Berks County the Commissioners are busy implementing a $60 million emergency radio system.  Tea Party moron Christian Leinbach ran against the $80 rainy day fund his Democratic predecessors socked away and promised to return it to the voters.  Instead he spent it on this monstrous system.  Now it may be endangering beautiful raptors near Hawk Mountain.  It’s for the birds Christian.

Also in Reading City Council has been giving new Mayor Vaughn Spencer nothing but grief.  Most of is personal animosity by some of them who are putting their grudges ahead of the good of the City.  At the same time they’re screaming about paying his staff they gave $6,000 raises to their own employees.

With all the lawsuits resulting from various state laws which are clearly unconstitutional I’d like to know from “conservatives” and Tea baggers where their cherished fiscal responsibility went.  These are going to begin costing taxpayers a chunk of money.  How do they explain their irrational actions going against our constitutions after they spent the past four years screaming about upholding them.

Pennsylvania did get some positive news this week when Monroe County resident David Gonzalez saved a Jet Blue flight after its pilot went berserk.

Longtime readers of this blog know I’m a huge baseball and Phillies fan.  experts are predicting this to be the year for a young and talented Pittsburgh team however.  The Pirates are a lock to break their 19 year losing record for sure.

Happy April Fools everyone, especially the Pirates fans.

Freedom to Marry Rally 2011

Yesterday’s Freedom to Marry rally in the Capitol Rotunda featured State Representatives, Senators and lay leaders advocate for equality for every Pennsylvanian.  Currently we have a system of sexual apartheid where straight people have a certain set of rights and LGBT people another, lesser slate of rights.  In America we aren’t supposed to have a class or caste system but we do.  Sen. Daylin Leach has introduced his legislation allowing same sex marriage and Rep. Mark Cohen a bill legalizing civil unions.  They, along with Ted Martin of Equality Pennsylvania were among the speakers at the rally.

The rest of the videos are below the fold.

Debating Marriage Equality

Next Monday Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach will debate Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage at Harrisburg Community College.  Leach is the sponsor of marriage equality in Harrisburg.  His bill would legalize same sex marriage.  Gallagher is infamous for her bigotry and intolerance on the issue.  The event is February 8th at 7:30 PM at the Cooper Student Center.  Sen. Leach debated Sen. John Eichelberger last year on WHYY in Philadelphia and the Senator from Altoona said “we allow gays to exist.”  He refused to debate Daylin again.

I’ve never heard anyone debate this issue as well as Daylin Leach.  As a straight, married man he gives real impetus and invaluable credibility to the LGBT community on the issue.  He sat on a panel about this issue at Saturday’s Pennsylvania Progressive Summit.  If you don’t know Daylin he’s a very funny, witty, and self deprecating guy.  How many State Senators would post on their Facebook pages how they locked themselves out of their home in 12 degree weather in nothing more than a t-shirt and gym shorts?  Brrr.  The teasing he took on that was hilarious.  One of his arguments to opponents of equal rights for all is directed towards their dislike of gay sex.  This should be a reason FOR marriage equality according to Leach since everyone knows once you get married you never have sex again.  I’m looking forward to this debate and will attend and live blog the discussion.  I wonder if Maggie has any idea what she’s in for….