Obama Will Stop Enforcing DOMA Today

In a statement issued by the White House President Obama says he has instructed the Attorney General to begin reviewing all federal rules regarding discrimination against legally married same sex couples.  This will likely be a lengthy process as the law has been enshrined in federal statues for a good period of time.  It means LGBT couples legally married can now not be denied Social Security or federal pension benefits, a spouse must be notified if his/her partner is killed in action and over 1,000 other federal benefits granted to married couples.

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.  This was discrimination enshrined in law.  It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people.  The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.  We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital.  How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions.  Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.  

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts:  when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

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.”

 

What DOMA Means in Pennsylvania

What do today’s decisions by the Supreme Court mean for marriage equality in Pennsylvania?  I believe this means that no one in the Commonwealth can legally deny marriage licenses to same sex couples.  The sweeping decision by Justice Kennedy in DOMA says that discrimination of this sort is a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Though the decision is around the act passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton today’s action by the Court opens the door to anyone to challenge their state’s laws under United States v Windsor.

A couple rejected at their county courthouse can now file a lawsuit against that county and the Commonwealth claiming the prohibition of equal rights to marry is a violation of this DOMA decision.  The cases will be litigated on a state by state basis but it’s clear no federal appeals court will be able to overturn decisions limiting equal rights.

Marriage equality in Pennsylvania will be a reality soon.

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.

Casey Not Supporting Marriage Equality

In a week where the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on both DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. remains one of only ten Democratic Senators not supporting marriage equality.  Equal rights are a fundamental American trait but the country remains divided between those who have all the rights and those who do not.  This two class system is one of sexual apartheid.  Though LGBT persons pay the same taxes as straight couples they are denied over a thousand federal rights given to the others.  These include Social Security survivor benefits, the ability to file taxes jointly, inherit pensions, etc.

When Casey ran for the Senate in 2006 much of Pennsylvania’s LGBT leadership supported him because he openly pandered tot he community reversing his long standing opposition to gay adoption and several other issues.  As of today though he is still opposed to equality.  This is shameful.  I didn’t support him in 2006 due to his long record opposing gay rights and engaged in several email arguments with some of those who believed Casey supported us.  Who’s crying now?  Sen. Casey needs to come into the 21st Century and stop supporting sexual apartheid.

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.

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.

News & Notes July 20, 2011

I spent yesterday morning getting a root canal, a wonderful experience only because it saves a tooth and ends some pain.  Having found a badly infected tooth explains why I was so lethargic the past few weeks.  As I quickly approach the big 6-0 more and more of my body fails me.  Not that I’m complaining since I never expected to see 50 much less 60.

With the state legislature on hiatus the action going on has been in Washington over the debt ceiling vote.  Normally summers are rather quiet on the political front, especially August when they all go on vacation.  I’ll be in New Mexico again traveling to Santa Fe on August 20th and returning September 7th just in time for the Democratic State Committee meeting in Gettysburg.

Amid new reports she suffers from debilitating migraine headaches Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann dodged questions from ABC News reporter Brian Ross.  The candidate’s security shoved him after an event in South Carolina.  He wanted to know if she’d missed votes due to her headaches.  This, obviously, would be an important factor for voters electing someone to such a crucial decision making position.  I think Bachmann needs to release her medical records, something expected of every major presidential contender.

Speaking of Bachmann she has also been mired in controversy for her husband Marcus’ “clinic” where they use religious prayer on clients to “pray the gay away.”  Undercover video showed a therapist equating gays to barbarians.  I think they need therapy for their transference issues.  After the audio received wide coverage Bacmann tried to deny the statement but evidence showed the recording NOT to have been doctored.  The Bachmann clinic in Minnesota is partially funded by the state.

In a 2010 interview with the Christian radio show ‘Point of View,” Bachmann was asked how parents should deal with LGBT teenagers, to which the good doctor replied, “We have to understand: Barbarians need to be educated… They need to be disciplined. Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road.”

While her Tea Party supporters and other morons keep claiming the U.S. has the best health care in the world (we don’t and it isn’t even close) a new report says we now have the second highest newborn death rate in the modern world.  Maybe this is because people like the Koch Brothers and their Tea Party enablers are turning us into a Third World country.  The Paul Ryan Plan and the Cut, Cap and Destroy legislation passed yesterday in the House would gut programs and benefits for children, the elderly and the disabled.  How we treat those most vulnerable among us says what and who we are as a people.  I’m afraid this statement is now very ugly.

The first Wisconsin recall election was held yesterday and Democrat Dave Hansen won.  The showdowns are the result of the anti-labor, anti-middle class warfare raging there earlier this year.

The Senate Judiciary Committee began deliberating a repeal to the Defense of Marriage Act.  The Respect For Marriage Act introduced by Diane Feinstein of California produced no credible arguments from the religious fringe.   Al Franken really tore up Focus on the Family:

News & Notes April 25, 2011

Nice weather is upon us at last!  I got a lot done around the house today and got the launch permit for one of my kayaks.  They are two year Fish & Boat Commission stickers so I alternate my two kayaks each year.  It seems that fewer and fewer places are handling them.  I have a few things to still do to get my trailer in shape then it’ll be back out on the water after a long, hard winter.

The firm which was preparing to defend DOMA for House Republicans announced today it will not do so.  Paul Clement, the attorney who took the case then resigned from the firm and will do the defense on his own.  The law firm was getting tons of bad press for defending discrimination and didn’t seem comfortable with the publicity.

Tea baggers seem especially upset over gas prices.  Entering the Gamesa plant  afew weeks ago to cover the President’s visit several of them were holding signs blaming Obama for the high prices.  Aren’t these the Ayn Rand aficionados who are all hell bent on free markets determining everything?  I suppose only until the free market hurts them?  Now they’re demanding governmental intervention.  Can you say hypocrisy?

A new WikiLeaks document dump is revealing what happened at Gitmo.  Interviews, dossiers of prisoners and other information is illustrating how sorry our efforts were under Bush.  One detaineee was a sheep herder, another was kept for years because he happened upon some Arabic documents.  It took us years to determine he didn’t even speak the language.  Future terror attacks resulting from Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and other atrocities will be blamed on other factors rather than our own pathetic policies.  The question will pour from lips everywhere?  “Why did they attack us?”

Chesapeake Energy finally got their exploding gas well under control in Bradford County.  One result is that gas companies have finally agreed to stop dumping toxic fracking fluid into our waterways and through sewage treatment plants unequipped to handle the substance.  All of our efforts are beginning to gain some success.  It is imperative everyone continue applying pressure.

Tom Corbett said he wants to make Pennsylvania the “Texas of natural gas” but even in Texas they tax gas extraction.  Texas even has its citizen’s opposition to fracking now.  Can we say “frack you Tom Corbett?”

The gas industry claims natural gas is a “clean” fuel but facts say otherwise.  Five millions of water are required to frack each well each time (each well can be fracked about a dozen times) and loads of methane gas are emitted.  Methane is especially bad for climate change.  Also factoring in the gasoline and diesel from all the rigs hauling water, sand and chemicals to each well and gas may be dirtier even than coal.

Natural gas is mostly methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas, especially in the short term, with 105 times more warming impact, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide (CO2), Howarth said, adding that even small leaks make a big difference. He estimated that as much as 8 percent of the methane in shale gas leaks into the air during the lifetime of a hydraulic shale gas well-up to twice what escapes from conventional gas production.

Sen. Jane Orie’s retrial has been scheduled for October.  Her lawyers are appealing to Superior Court with her argument that she cannot be tried again under double jeopardy.  That’s a bit ridiculous since it is apparent her team doctored evidence presented at trial.  You shouldn’t be able to cheat your way to an acquittal.

The next time someone tries selling you on Amway use this information on them.  Rich and Betsy DeVos are co-owners of the private company infamous for its pyramid schemes.  They sink millions into GOP campaigns, think tanks and religious right organizations.  Now they’re funding the efforts to privatize public schools.  SB1 is in a holding pattern in Harrisburg but it may still get a vote so boycott Amway.

The water problems plaguing Harrisburg last week have been blamed on beavers.  Now the Harrisburg Beavers are being blamed for every ill besetting that poor ‘burgh.  Someone has even begun a Twitter account in their name.  The fake Linda Thompson (the horribly incapable Mayor) account is blaming all of her incompetence on the furry creatures.

Rick Santorum says he will repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if elected president.  This is the same guy who also wants to tell you what sex acts you can and cannot do in the privacy of your home.  Isn’t that the ultimate “big government?”

I went into my local AT&T store this afternoon to complain about my iPhone tracking me and the people didn’t know what I was referring to and had nothing to tell me about how to disable the feature.  AT&T, are you listening?  I can’t hear you now.

Racist Governor Haley Barbour announced he will not run for president.  The GOP fields of clowns remains the same.

Apparently there’s a wedding this Friday for a couple known as Will and Kate.  Seems to be a big deal since the supposed cable “news” people are all agog over the event.  I wonder if the future princess will wear a white gown?  I mean, they’ve been shacked up for a year so I’m assuming she’s no longer a virgin?

I  heard a GOP radio commercial today claiming the Republicans didn’t vote to end Medicare.  Did they read their bill?