SCOTUS to Hear Marriage Equality Cases

The Supreme Court affirmed it will hear both cases regarding marriage equality this term.  One regards DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act passed and signed under President Clinton.  The second is about California’s controversial Proposition 8 ballot initiative which denied LGBT citizens the same rights as straight residents of the Golden State.

Marriage Equality is now the law in nine states and the District of Columbia but those couples are denied over a thousand rights granted to straight couples because of DOMA.  The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees all Americans equal justice under law and federal appeals courts have overturned DOMA on those grounds:  you cannot have one set of rights for some people and another set for others.

The Proposition 8 case advocated by AFER on behalf of the gay community was overturned by the Ninth Circuit when it was, essentially, undefended.  The proponents of discrimination could not muster a single bona fide legal argument for their case.  Formally known as Hollingsworth v Perry it was decided on the basis of a Supreme Court case written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the acknowledged swing vote on a divided court.  This bodes well for a successful decision by the end of June.

News & Notes October 18, 2012

The Koch brothers and other billionaire company owners are using intimidation and threats to get their employees to vote Republican.  I thought voter intimidation was illegal?

Joe Pitts sent me a mailer today.  Has he forgotten who I am?  Why would he waste money trying to get my vote and claim he’s working to create jobs.  That what GOP Congressional candidates promised in 2010.  They, including Pitts, proceeded to block every job bill submitted by the president.  These assholes vowed to force the President to fail by filibustering every bill in the senate then turn around and blame HIM for the lackluster job creation numbers.  I thought conservatives believed in personal responsibility?

Mitt Romney blamed parents for violence done by their children during the debate.  Then his 42 year old son said he wanted to slug the president.

Any woman who votes for Mitt deserves what she’s going to get.  By the way, it won’t be a job.  More likely, if you’re a woman, voting for Romney will cost you your job.  Signing the Ryan Budget will slash government programs, many of which are staffed by women.  Cuts in education will cost female teachers their jobs.  Tax cuts will deepen the recession causing more layoffs.

Mitt syas he’ll cut taxes for the rich and won’t increase them for the middle class.  Guess who that leaves to pick up the tab?  Poor people.  Here’s a basic economics lesson:  you tax money.  Poor people don’t have any.

The state House was busy at the end of its session for the year.  After taking all summer off our hard working Representatives are off for the rest of the year.  Don’t you wish you had a job like that?  A charter school reform bill went unpassed.  It would have strengthened ethics and reporting for these bloodsuckers.

A gas chamber ban for animal shelters did pass.

A Senate bill allowing companies to keep your state income tax withholding is on a path for passage.  This would create a new Delaware type loophole for out of state corporations putting local firms at a competitive disadvantage.  It also robs taxpayers of their contributions to state government.

Sen. Larry Farnese is justly proud of his bill outlawing straw purchases of guns.  The bill strengthens current law.

Gov. Gasbag says he will sign a bill criminalizing sexting by teens.  There’s nothing like forcing kids into court for being young and dumb.  That’s it, give them a criminal record for showing their tits.

One of the few good things to be accomplished by this radical conservative state House was the voting down of a bill violating the Fourth Amendment.  It would have authorized police to obtain DNA samples, without warrants to search person’s bodies, for even summary offenses.  The ACLU said this today:  The government is constitutionally mandated to explain to a court why it wants to search someone,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This bill undermined that fundamental liberty by allowing warrantless searches of a person’s body.”

The US Court of Appeals for the Second District struck down DOMA today.  It says it violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.  From the American Foundation for Equal Rights:  

“Today’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit continues the unceasing momentum toward marriage equality for all Americans and affirms that discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans is unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional.  The body of evidence in support of marriage equality is clear and convincing.  This decision, as well previous decisions in other DOMA cases and in our federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, signals that the arguments opposing the recognition of marriage for gay and lesbian Americans have no legal basis.  With today’s ruling, we are one step closer to the day when marriage equality is a reality for every American.”

I ran into a Birther yesterday while getting my Element inspected.  He insisted that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya.  As evidence he cited his wedding ring with its Arabic inscription saying “there is no God but Allah.”  This is yet another myth created by Faux News.  I explained to him that he’s been brainwashed.  I won’t waste precious breaths trying to reason with fools who have chosen to live in a parallel universe where there is no reality.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is retiring and his seat is being contested by former Congresswoman Heather Wilson (disgraced in the GonzalesGate scandal) and Congressman Martin Heinrich.  Spanish normally win elections in The Land of Enchantment.  They have a saying in Santa Fe:  “the Indians have the land, the Spanish have government and the Anglos have the money.”  Democrat Heinrich is leading in the polls rather nicely.  They debated last evening.  I’m hoping to interview both outgoing Sen. Bingaman and incoming Sen. Heinrich next month while in Santa Fe.

Former Sen. George McGovern entered hospice care earlier this week and now is reported as being unresponsive.  He ran for president in 1972 against Richard Nixon.  A paranoid President sent a team of bungling burglars into Democratic headquarters in the Watergate.  The rest was history.

Berks Democrats keep embarrassing themselves.  This time Democratic DA John Adams endorsed Republican Attorney General candidate David Freed.  Another one may be financing the campaign of a Tea party candidate against a fellow Democrat.  I’m digging into campaign finance reports on that one.

Don’t trust those polls allegedly showing the race getting close in our Commonwealth.  If Obama thought there was any chance of losing our 20 electoral votes he’d be here along with Bruce Springsteen and Bill Clinton.  Meanwhile Mitt Romney sent his Pennsylvania spokesman on to Virginia.

Speaking of Virginia that state’s Health Commissioner resigned today over new abortion clinic regulations going into effect.  Gov. Bob McDonnell is trying to convince women to vote for Mitt but he can’t keep his head of Health because he’s so extreme on women’s women’s reproductive rights.  From the Associated Press:

Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley has resigned over the state’s controversial new abortion clinic regulations.

Remley submitted her resignation to Gov. Bob McDonnell Thursday. Her resignation is effective immediately.

Remley said in the letter that issues surrounding the development and enforcement of the clinic regulations have created an environment that compromises her ability to fulfill her duties. She did not elaborate.

The state Board of Health last month adopted regulations that require existing abortion clinics in Virginia to meet the same construction standards as new hospitals. Abortion-rights advocates argued the strict standards could force most clinics out of business.

Here in Pennsylvania our Dept. of Health has granted waivers to abortion clinics for many of the onerous new regulations forced upon them by Senate bill 732.

9th Circuit Strikes Down Discrimination

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down an appeal by proponents of discrimination today.  The effort to restore the hateful Proposition 8 initiative against marriage equality went down in a decision by the full court.  The next step would be an appeal to the Supreme Court which is expected.  If so it could be joined with challenges to DOMA.  On a conference call this afternoon attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson took questions from the media and discussed the historic decision.  AFER founder Chad Griffin, on his way to DC to work for the Human Rights campaign, said discrimination went to court and lost today.  The 9th Circuit said this:

Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.  The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”

Indeed, the 14th Amendment guarantees every American equal justice under law.  Those words are engraved on the front of the Supreme Court and time will tell how many of the nine Justices believe them.

News & Notes June 1, 2012

There’s a lot of news happening.  I’ve been battling one of my periodic headaches for the last week so I apologize for not posting more.

Congressional candidate Missa Eaton (PA-3) in northwestern PA, is holding a reception in Philadelphia to support her candidacy against car dealer Mike Kelly.  The District includes Erie and about five neighboring counties down towards Pittsburgh.  

The jury in the John Edwards trial came back with an acquittal and was hung on the remainder of the six counts against the former Senator, Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate.  They found him not guilty of accepting an illegal campaign contribution from “Bunny” Mellon.  If that wasn’t considered a campaign contribution it means he couldn’t have violated campaign finance law, something most legal experts expected.  Though the man did some despicable things they weren’t illegal, just immoral.

Elsewhere on the legal front the 1st District Court of Appeals in Boston declared DOMA unconstitutional in a unanimous decision.  They found it unconscionable that federal benefits for straight couples are denied to same sex ones.  The Fourteenth Amendment is pretty clear on this:  equal justice under law is the law of the land.  The case is headed for the Supreme Court where we’ll see if the inscription over the entrance means anything.  AFER released this statement:

“Today’s momentous decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals is yet another example of the clear pattern of consistent recognition among federal courts that marriage inequality-by any level of government-violates our nation’s core constitutional principles,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer.  “Whether it is California’s Proposition 8 or the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, court after court has affirmed that marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans is unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional.”

Conservatives are condemning “activist judges.”

For all those morons who still are blaming liberals for the debt situation here’s a visual explanation:

It’s the tax cuts stupid…

Fallout from Fukushima is causing problems with radioactive tuna.  The issues from this disaster will reverberate for decades.  I’m glad I don’t like seafood…

Bad policy decisions also have repercussions.  The state budget woes caused by Gov. Gasbag’s stubborn refusal to lead are causing problems within the State Police.  Now, instead of using available funds to train new cadets for a force being hit hard by retirements at the same time local municipalities are turning to it for police coverage, they’re buying  a back-up radio system.  Are there any adults living in the Governor’s Mansion yet?

Sen. Daylin Leach is outraged the Governor is trying to appoint his political protege Bill Ward (formerly his failed Chief of Staff) to the bench.  This is called “getting kicked upstairs.”

“If he wants to send Mr. Ward to Disneyland or wants to get him to meet Beyonce, I would have no problem with that as long as it didn’t involve state money,” said Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery County.

“To me, the whole concept of justice is a very sacred concept and the process has to be above reproach,” Leach said. “This is not about rewarding cronies.”

I agree.

All kinds of legal items today:  A Judge has frozen Jane Orie’s campaign and pension accounts pending a decision on restitution.  Considering how she plundered her campaign account to pay legal fees this is sensible.

The Gila wildfire in southwestern New Mexico is now over 300 square miles.  This isn’t the region I visit but last  year I visited the site of the Los Conchas fire which, before this, was the biggest they’d had.  It was disheartening to see the devastation and also encouraging to witness nature recovering.  Climate change has turned the southwest into a tinderbox where lightening can cause such destruction.

The Justice department is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to cease and desist in his illegal purging of voter rolls.  Isn’t it a strange coincidence that the people Republican keep disenfranchising happen to be Democrats?  Somehow they keep screaming about voter fraud (which is virtually non-existent) while they engage in election fraud.  This really boomeranged on Scott after a 91 year old veteran was purged.

A White supremacist has been elected to the Luzerne County Republican Committee and he went to his white power websites to celebrate.  Steve Smith helped form the Keystone State Skinheads.

As if the student loan situation isn’t bad enough now banks have found a way to rip off these young people.  Combined with the fraud surrounding the recent facebook IPO this is yet another warning that strict regulation of banks is critical to our future survival as a capitalist society.  If this keeps on the people will demand socialism.

There’s an old saying that people who play with fire get burned.  You’d think that playing with poisonous snakes would fit that right?  What if your father died this way and you continued doing it yourself?  Is that a definition of insanity or stupidity?  A rattlesnake bit and killed a pastor with one of those ridiculous cults this week.  I think he should have died before having a chance to procreate.  This is Darwinism at its finest.

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.  

News & Notes December 9, 2011

AFER argued for the release of video of the court testimony over Proposition H8.  There seems to be no legitimate argument about keeping these from the public.  The effort was streamed on the internets last night.  If these tapes are public everyone could see how lame and absent the arguments are against marriage equality.  Plus, Rick Perry’s head might explode.

The Texas Governor went on a homophobic rant this week in a campaign ad.

He seems to be conflating the fact people are born gay and simply want to defend our country with a constitutional clause prohibiting people like him from brainwashing and indoctrinating our kids into their extreme, fringe religious views.  That makes him unfit to be any kind of leader.  Plus, interestingly, he wore the same coat in the video that Heath Ledger did in “Brokeback Mountain.”  Rick, I just can’t quit you.  Oops, yes I can.

Putin is blaming Hillary for election protests in Russia.  The people think Valdimir rigged his re-election.  At least Russians are smarter than Americans who simply yawned when elections were rigged.  So Putin bought a bunch of DRE Diebold voting machines?

If it’s a “slam dunk” that Mars once had water does that mean we now have to invade it?

The state office controlling the Open Records Act has determined that Penn State doesn’t have to comply with requests to release documents surrounding the Sandusky scandal.  At the time the law was passed concerns that Joe Paterno’s salary might be made public (it eventually was) fueled some concerns to give the university an exemption.  Now that’s seemingly protecting the institution in a case involving the sexual molestation of children.   People are understandably outraged.

Sandusky’s preliminary hearing is Tuesday and I scored a seat in the press room.  I also have an important Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates Board meeting Tuesday so I’ll have to make a decision which to attend.  Update:  Since the PA Newspaper Association isn’t capable of properly credentialing people I’ll be passing on covering the hearing.

The EPA has found fracking chemicals in an aquifer in Wyoming.  This is proof that hydrofracking is poisoning our water sources.  The gas industry keeps attempting to brainwash us with ads littering our television screens that fracking isn’t a threat.  Now we know they’re lying and these commercials need to be banned as propaganda.

Bill O’Reilly hit a man with his umbrella then tried to get him arrested by telling a cop the opposite.  This is so typical of Fox News:  do something bad then blame it on the other side.  If he doesn’t like being castigated in public he might consider adopting a shred of decency.

Chris Christie got mic checked at a Romney event and went off on the 99%.  Is it just me or does his reaction and demeanor remind you of Tony Soprano?  

I have no idea about the reliability of this information but if there’s even a shred of truth in it a federal grand jury needs to investigate.  

A Town Gone Bad: ‘VIP’ sex ring protected by PA Attorney General Tom Corbett from yardbird tv on Vimeo.

Rick Santorum’s latest rant illustrating his lack of common sense is that we don’t need food stamps because so many people are obese.  For someone who is supposed to be smart he’s awfully dumb.  People on food stamps eat rather badly, resulting in obesity, because they still cannot afford healthy food.  Sometimes a candy bar winds up being lunch because they don’t have money for real food.

The Pennsylvania Society is this weekend at the Waldorf Astoria.  As usual don’t expect to see me there, this is way to rich for my blood.

Proposition H8 Loses Again

Proponents of Proposition 8 in California lost anothe rround in court.  The proponents of hate tried to disqualify Judge Vaughn Walker from ruling due to the fact he is in a long term relationship with another man.  Their argument that a gay man can’t rule on an issue affecting gays was ridiculous.  According to such logic no African-American could rule on racial matters, women couldn’t rule on gender issues and white men couldn’t rule on corporate matters.  Judge James Ware rejected the advocates of hate saying Disqualifying Judge Walker based on an inference that he intended to take advantage of a future legal benefit made available by constitutional protections would result in an unworkable standard for disqualification.”

The American Foundation For Equal Rights had this to say:

“This is a powerful ruling that makes clear that gay and lesbian judges are entitled to the same presumptions of fairness and impartiality as all other federal judges and that rejects the false and  unreasonable assumptions and stereotypes that the Proposition 8 Proponents asserted in this deeply offensive motion,” said AFER attorney Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr.  “Other courts will look to this decision for many years to come. We are also pleased to see that Chief Judge Ware addressed the issue of equal protection in which all members of society have a stake.”

In his ruling, Chief Judge Ware discussed the issue of equal protection as such: “The fact that this is a case challenging a law on equal protection and due process grounds being prosecuted by members of a minority group does not mean that members of the minority group have a greater interest in equal protection and due process than the rest of society. In our society, a variety of citizens of different backgrounds coexist because we have constitutionally bound ourselves to protect the fundamental rights of one another from being violated by unlawful treatment.  Thus, we all have an equal stake in a case that challenges the constitutionality of a restriction on a fundamental right.”