OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with United States
Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Catholic school in Boulder, Colorado, has kicked out a student after a year of preschool for having lesbian parents.
While an anonymous staffer revealed that the school itself is furious with the decision, the archdiocese is quite content with themselves. In an official statement, they said that booting the child from classes was simply a board-wide policy: “No person shall be admitted as a student in any Catholic school unless that person and his/her parent(s) subscribe to the school’s philosophy.”
Punishing children with expulsion because of the sexual orientation of the parents may be malicious, uncaring, and very un-Jesus-like, but, hey, that’s Catholic schools for you. As a private institutions they’re likely well within their right to behave as unethically as they like.
Not a very good place to send a child, come to think of it.
I managed to survive my entire gradeschool education in the Catholic system, but it wasn’t pretty. Who knew that escaping that awful institution could have been so easy? If only I pretended my parents were gay!
- Catholic school boots student with gay parents [Associated Press]
- Gay couple’s child denied re-enrollment at Catholic school [9News.com]
Alfred Baldasaro, a Republican State Representative for New Hampshire, went on a bizarre rant this week, starting with the accusation that the state government was selling children to gay couples for $10,000 a pop.
The statement was made in reference to same-sex adoption, which has been legal in New Hampshire since 1999. When asked to rescind the offensive remark, Baldasaro simply repeated it: “I wanted to make sure everyone understood here, that this legislature sold the rights of $10,000 per kid under title four, when they said that homosexual couples, not married, can adopt.”
This was only the start of the rant, mind you. Baldasaro then directly compared gay couples to incestuous ones, asking “aren’t we discriminating against all them?”
“What about the Muslims?”, he continued. “Everyone’s praising the Muslims. They’re killing us. What about them, they want three, four wives. We’re discriminating against them!”
Well, that was a masterpiece of crazy.
Baldasaro’s statements were made in support of a bill that would ban same-sex marriage in the state, demonstrating exactly the type of people that are typically behind those types of bills.
- New Hampshire GOPer: State is selling children to gay couples [Digital Journal]
I love mayors. They’re inherently funny, like the head of a condo association—passionately seizing what amounts to no real power. And aren’t we in luck? There are two mayor stories today!
Bill Mills, the mayor of Truru, Nova Scotia (who you may remember for some earlier anti-gay shenanigans), is facing extra accusations of homophobia after declaring that gay men alone are responsible for a proposal to install a locked gate at Victoria Park, restricting hours for all residents. Many people are angry with the proposal, and while the park has a reputation of being shady (pun kind of intended), it has many problems, including drug dealers, underage drinking, and teenage hookups—not just gay cruising. Still, Mayor Mills has refused to withdraw or clarify his comments. The rest of the city council, meanwhile, has publicly distanced themselves from the mayor’s craziness.
In some better mayor-related news, our friends in Houston, Texas have reason to celebrate after electing their very first lesbian mayor! Annise Parker, an openly gay politician with a partner of 16 years and two adopted children, won with 53.6 percent of the vote in the normally über-conservative U.S. state. The voter turnout was one of the lowest in history, mind you, at just over 16 percent. But that’s just more proof that mayors are silly positions. Am I right?
Slap reader John writes in with some good news coming out of Washington, DC. The city council has voted in favour of legalizing equal marriage rights for gay couples!
The bill’s fate is now with congress, which has 30 days to veto it, which appears unlikely, or let it be.
Of course, gay marriage opponents are already in hysterics. A group calling themselves Stand4Marriage (meaning opposite-sex only marriage) has declared their intentions to put the issue to a referendum vote on the next ballot, asking every single resident whether or not to take away the marriage rights from gay couples.
Still, if all goes well, DC residents will have full equal marriage rights by St. Patrick’s Day. Here’s hoping for the best!
- DC City Council votes to legalize gay marriage [Associated Press]
Uganda is on the verge of passing one of the most homophobic pieces of legislation in history. The law would not only proscribe the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” (say, that’s a new term), but would also imprison anyone who doesn’t out a gay person to the police within 24 hours of discovering their sexual orientation. The prison sentence would last three years, but there’s also a seven year prison term for anyone who defends the rights of gay and lesbian people.
Several governments have gone on record to condemn this atrocious bill, including Canada’s own Prime Minister’s Office. I don’t think the PMO put much effort into the condemnation, mind you, as it was stolen word-for-word from one issued by the United States several weeks ago.
Here’s the U.S. version:
If adopted, a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda. We urge states to take all necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests, or detention.
And the Canadian one: (Identical phrases are in bold)
If adopted, a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda. Canada has clearly spoken out against human-rights violations committed against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and we urge states to take all necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests, or detention.
Of course, regardless of the PMO’s lack of imagination, condemnation was the exactly right thing to do. Here’s hoping that world governments do more than just verbally condemn Uganda’s Orwellian bill, and see to it that this horrific violation of human rights is put to an end immediately.
- Uganda’s anti-gay bill causes Commonwealth uproar [Globe and Mail]
- Ugandan law targeting gays is vile and hateful: minister [The Canadian Press]
Bethany Smith, a lesbian seeking refugee status in Canada from the U.S., will get a second chance to have her case heard by the Immigration and Refugee Board after the Federal Court ruled that her previous plea was wrongfully dismissed.
Bethany, a 21 year old U.S. soldier, fled the U.S. in September 2007 over the institutionalized homophobia in the country’s army. Bethany says that other soldiers discovered she was a lesbian after seeing her hold hands with another woman at a shopping mall. Gays and lesbians are forbidden to serve openly in the U.S. army, so this information was used to harass, blackmail, and threaten her with violence—with no available recourse in the army’s administration.
The Immigration and Refugee Board originally rejected Bethany’s case in February, but will now give her a second chance with a different adjudicator. The Federal Court says the IRB should have taken into account “the particular environment” at Bethany’s Kentucky army base, including information that a gay man was murdered there in 1999 by fellow soldiers as he slept.
Considering Canada’s abysmal record on these sorts of cases, I don’t know how much of a chance Bethany has of getting full refugee status. Still, I wish her the best, as well as the speedy turfing of the U.S’s terrible Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and other forms of institutionalized homophobia!
Luv Ya Bunches, a short novel for ages nine to twelve, has been pulled from U.S. book fairs by the Scholastic publishing company because one of the book’s characters, Milla, has two mommies.
The novel, published by Scholastic and written by Lauren Myracle, is about four school girls who form lasting friendships despite not having much in common other than all being named after flowers.
Shortly before the book’s release on October 1st, Scholastic sent a letter to the author asking her to remove several offensive words (specifically “geez,” “crap,” “sucks,” and “oh my God”) and to change Milla’s parents to be straight—or be banned from the publishing company’s book fairs. (Oh my God, that sort of crap sucks. I mean, geez!)
The author, speaking to a literary news site, had this to say:
The other issues, words like “crap,” just made me shake my head and laugh. But the idea that two moms could be problematic… well, astonished would be the best way to describe my reaction.
Myracle agreed to clean up the filthy, filthy language by changing “crap” to “junk” and so forth, but absolutely refused to ungayify Milla’s parents. As a result, Scholastic’s book fairs division banned the book outright, budging only a tad after gaining some negative press. So, while they continue to refuse to include the novel in book fairs targeted toward the book’s intended readers, they will permit it to appear at middle-school book fairs where the readers are too old to hold any interest in the novel. (Scholastic’s Canadian division, notably, never had a problem with the book and features it both in their book club and book fairs division.)
Still, it’s a good thing that Scholastic isn’t in charge of publishing this blog, or they’d probably blacklist me for even thinking to utter the following scathing and profane invective:
Jeepers golly gosh, Scholastic! What gives?
- Scholastic Censors Myracle’s ‘Luv Ya Bunches’ from Book Fairs [School Library Journal]
- Scholastic U.S. reverses decision to ban book [Quill & Quire]
The United States has passed and signed into law The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The new law carries stiffer penalties for anyone who intends to terrorize the entire gay community by selecting and violently assaulting gay people at random.
Canada added sexual orientation to the list of minority groups protected from hate crimes in 2004—just five years ago. Hear that, all my stateside friends? You’re not far behind! In fact, at this rate, you’ll have equal marriage rights nationally by 2011. Go, push for it!
Update: Slap reader David writes in with a correction. It turns out that Canada’s 2004 amendment dealt with protection from hate propaganda, and not violent crimes. The equivalent of the Matthew Shepard Act was actually added to Canada’s criminal code in 1995. So, it turns out that my stateside friends are pretty darn far behind after all. Keep pushing, though; you’re on your way!
- President Obama signs expanded hate crimes bill into law [Digital Journal]
Catholic Vote Action, a religious political group based in Chicago, is demanding that an ad supporting equal marriage rights in the state of Maine be pulled off the air.
The ad, which features a real family including a Catholic grandmother who supports her gay son and his adopted child, was produced by Protect Maine Equality in response to an upcoming ballot initiative that would take away the existing right of gay couples to marry in the state. “I’ve been a Catholic all my life,” the grandmother says in the ad, “my faith means a lot to me.” She continues, “Marriage to me is a great institution that works, and it’s what I want for my children too.”
Essentially, it’s a real-life example of how it’s possible to harmonize one’s faith and family, supporting the loving relationships in which families can flourish.
Unacceptable, of course, according to Catholic Vote Action, who released a press release on Monday declaring that all Catholics do not support “counterfeit marriages” and demanding that the ad be pulled immediately. Because, as we all know, loving and supporting your family throughout hardships and mean-spirited attacks just isn’t a value worth keeping.
But back in the land of reality, for all my stateside friends who have a say in the matter, remember to support equality and vote NO on Maine’s Question 1!
Update: Slap reader Alan points out that you don’t need to live in Maine to help out with the No On 1 cause. With only a couple of weeks before the ballot, and with polls showing a statistical tie in opinion, now is exactly the time when volunteers and donations are needed the most! Visit ProtectMaineEquality.org and volunteer to phonebank from home or donate for more ad airtime.
An extended hat tip goes to Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin for the story.
- Pro-Gay Marriage Ad Features Catholic Mom [U.S. News]
Here’s an odd bit of donut drama. Tim Hortons, Canada’s largest fast food chain, (yes—even bigger than McDonald’s) was spotted officially sponsoring an anti-gay political rally to be held in Rhode Island, U.S.A. next week.
National Organization for Marriage, the anti-gay organisation responsible for last spring’s silly ad campaign equating gay marriage to a violent storm, had approached Tim Hortons to sponsor a push for heterosexual-only marriage. Tim Hortons, oddly, obliged—apparently violating their own policy:
Tim Hortons does not sponsor individuals, those representing religious groups, political affiliates, book endoresements or traveling sports teams.
Thankfully, a few hours after word reached the online world, Tim Hortons quickly pulled their support entirely, releasing a statement and minimal apology, offering regret for any misunderstandings.
Quick and sweet. Just like a timbit.
Here’s some encouraging news! The state of Massachusetts has launched a lawsuit against the United States government over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The act, which passed in 1996, prevents states from giving gay couples over 1000 benefits that heterosexual couples already enjoy, including everything from spousal health insurance access to having veterans’ spouses share a burial plot. States that do not comply with the act will lose access to millions of dollars in funding for health care, social services, and other benefit causes.
Massachusetts, having finally noticed that DOMA is ridiculous, has launched the lawsuit on the grounds that DOMA infringes upon the state’s right to define marriage for itself, and forces it to discriminate against gay couples.
The text of the filing is very good:
Congress overstepped its authority, undermined states’ efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus toward gay and lesbian people.
The suit adds that over 16,000 same-sex couples have wed in Massachusetts, noting that “the security and stability of families has been strengthened in important ways throughout the state.”
Way to go Massachusetts!
(Huge tip o’ the hat to James over at Gay Persons of Color for the story.)
- Mass. is 1st to fight US marriage law [Boston Globe]
The number of bias-motivated, anti-gay murders in the United States rose 28% last year, reaching its highest level since 1999 according to a report released by a national advocacy coalition. The research, which was coordinated by a group called the New York City Anti-Violence Project, also found a general trend of increasingly severe violence toward GLBT people.
Sharon Stapel, a spokesperson for the project, suggested that the disturbing increase is partially due to an increase in rhetoric, as gay issues took a more prominent role in the presidential campaign.
I’m inclined to agree.
This sad trend is an emphatic validation of why hate crimes legislation is so important. The correlation between anti-gay rhetoric and violence shows that these attacks aren’t just coincidentally committed against gay individuals, but are intended to terrorize the entire gay community. The faster this shameful statistic can be reduced to zero, the better.
The United States Department of Defense is asking for more time before an end to the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military is considered. U.S. president Barack Obama had campaigned to repeal the ridiculous “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which forbids gays from serving, but has since been silent on the issue.
Over 12,500 gay men and women have been discharged from the United States military under the gay-banning policy, including 219 since President Obama took office. So, while top advisors and the military are all pleading for a delay, my brain is pleading for a sane reason for why this issue could possibly be complicated enough to require all this extensive preparation.
- Military wants more time before gay ban ends [USA Today]
- 12,500 booted in ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ [Dayton Daily News]
- Gay community bitterly disappointed by Obama’s lack of action [Canadian Press]
Well, the big news is no doubt yesterday’s decision by the California Supreme Court that Proposition 8, a referendum banning same-sex marriage in the state, is a legally valid constitutional amendment. While I’m disappointed, I’m not sure I can add to what many other commentators have put more eloquently than I could.
All I can say is to keep up the fight. Equality is not inevitable; it must be fought for, and I wish California all the best in overturning Prop 8 in the next referendum!
Well, it’s the Easter long weekend, so let’s have some fun!
National Organization for Marriage, an anti-gay lobby group based in the United States, has released one of the wackiest anti-gay advertisements I’ve seen, comparing same-sex marriage to a violent storm. YouTube has the goods.
The disparity in outlook has taken a turn for the melodramatic, has it not?
I’ll leave the final bit of amusement courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign, who has managed to get the audition tapes for the spot—and, interestingly enough—every one of those concerned individuals is a California doctor and Massachusetts parent. Fascinating!
Anyway, thanks to everyone who sent this ad in. Have a great long weekend! Slap will be back on Wednesday instead of Monday. Cheers!
In just this past week, Sweden, Iowa and Vermont have all either passed legislation giving equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, or have had laws banning same-sex marriage struck down as unconstitutional. Clearly, equality is unstoppable!
Eventually, anti-gay lobby groups everywhere will realise this and begrudgingly move on… to attack some other minority group, in all likelyhood.
The United States government has indicated that it will finally sign a U.N. document denouncing the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide.
This new move will reverse a bizarre decision made by the Bush administration in December, where the United States broke ranks with the majority of U.N. members (including every European country, as well as all North, South, and Central American nations—excluding the island of Saint Lucia) in refusing to sign the symbolic document.
The anti-gay lobby group, Family Research Council, is, of course, enraged:
Adding to the long list of Bush positions that are now history, the Associated Press reports that the Obama administration will reverse Bush’s policy and endorse a nonbinding U.N. declaration to “protect” homosexuals. [...] Press reports emphasize that the declaration calls for the “decriminalization” of homosexuality, a policy already forced on the U.S. by a 2003 Supreme Court decision.
Ah, yes, don’t we all wax nostalgic now and then for the good ol’ days when U.S. laws were more like those of Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and North Korea? Those halcyon days when gays like me were simply locked away where no one had to concern themselves over our existence. Surely those were simpler times—before that mean old Obama marched on in, tore that cooling pie right off the window sill, and sucker punched grandma in the ribs.
A super hat tip to JJ at Unrepentant Old Hippie for digging up the story.
- UN Statement on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity” [US Department of State]
- Queer Eye for the State Guy? [Family Research Council]
Despite a growing number of countries demonstrating that gay marriage does not destroy society and all of life as we know it, some very special types of people remain in hysterical panic, as this gem from North Carolina demonstrates.
Speaking to an anti- gay marriage crowd, David Gibbs—the lawyer best known for his fight to keep the brain-dead Terri Schiavo on life support—hypothesized about a post- gay marriage future:
[Same-sex marriage] will open the door to unusual marriage in North Carolina. Why not polygamy, or three or four spouses? Maybe people will want to marry their pets or robots.
Their robots! It all fits into place! Why, just today I caught my robot looking at me with a distinctly amorous gaze.
Why? Why did I order a robot that can love?
And a huge tip o’ the hat goes to JJ at Unrepentant Old Hippie for a story that I just couldn’t resist.
- Marriage rally draws 1,000 [News & Observer]
A New York judge has ruled that the surviving partner of a same-sex couple married in Canada is entitled to the deceased’s estate—as stipulated in his will—without having to involve next of kin in the probate proceedings. It’s a barely interesting legal case for very many, terrifically boring reasons, but it does establish some precendent in how all the “death do us part” matters are handled when it comes to foreign same-sex marriages.
Say, let’s see how those nutty scribes at LifeSite are reporting this!
Despite the fact that same-sex “marriage” is illegal in New York, a New York Judge has ruled that a man will receive the estate of his deceased male partner, whom he had “wed” in Canada eight months earlier. [...] The decision is the latest in a series of decision [sic] in New York which have set legal precedent in the state in favor of same-sex “marriage.”
We’ll ignore, for a moment, that same-sex marrages are not actually illegal in New York when performed out-of-state, and focus on the much more interesting issue here: Scare quotes!
Yes, in their usual LifeSite style, every occurance of the words “marriage,” “married,” “wed,” and “spouse” in the article are encased by a pair of delightfully sneering quotations. Why, even the word “divorce” gets a nice pair of quotes when it refers to same-sex partners. In fact, of the exactly nine sentences, there are 13 pairs of quotation marks—none of which are used for proper attributions. Oh, how the contempt does drip forth! I can almost visualize the author’s face, locked in a disapproving rictus, the Shift key permanently held for maximum quotage.
Almost makes you wonder exactly what their beef is regarding state probate notification procedures with respect to estate transfer between same-sex spouses…
Probably the same-sex part.
Parenthetically, while LifeSite correctly points out that the couple was married in Canada eight months ago, they somehow neglect to mention that the couple had been in a committed relationship for nearly 25 years prior and the surviving siblings had no objections to the will.
- NY Judge Grants Estate to Surviving Partner of Same-Sex “Marriage” Effected in Canada [LifeSite]
- N.Y. Judge Finds Man Entitled to Inherit Same-Sex Partner’s Estate [National Law Journal]
- NY judge: Same-sex spouse gets husband’s estate [Associated Press]
Here’s another reason why the whole concept of separate civil unions instead of same-sex marriage is a terrible idea: New Jersey.
New Jersey happily recognises same-sex marriages performed out-of-state, but in-state, only civil unions can be issued for gay couples. Well, now a New Jersey couple who married in Canada in 2004 wants a divorce so one half can re-marry. Canada won’t issue a divorce because they aren’t citizens; New Jersey, until now, wouldn’t do it because they could only dissolve gay civil unions, not marriages; and, of course, Canada won’t let the other half re-marry if they don’t get a proper divorce first. What a mess!
Enter Judge Mary Jacobson, who ruled that the couple should be able to get a divorce within New Jersey because the state has a history of divorcing foreign marriages. This ruling comes much to the chagrin of The Attorney General’s Office, which had argued that only civil union dissolutions should be allowed for same-sex couples in-state, even if they were fully married, not civil-unioned. The argument resolved around the idea that allowing same-sex divorce would eventually lead to same-sex marriage.
So, there you go. Civil unions have become entangled in the long tentacles of the law, the state is arguing that divorce leads to gay marriage, and we’re now left with this fun fact: In New Jersey, same-sex couples can’t get married—but they’ll be happy to divorce you!
But, regardless, congratulations on your brand new president, Barack Obama!
The sponsors of California’s Proposition 8 have filed a brief with the state’s Supreme Court, arguing that the over 18,000 same-sex marriages performed there must be nullified immediately.
This move is somewhat of contradiction to what the sponsors said would happen if Proposition 8 were to pass in November. In a statement recorded by the Associated Press, the Yes On 8 campaign said that they “will not seek to invalidate the marriages already performed and will leave any legal challanges to others.”
Pretty darn shameful, if you ask me.
Encouragingly, though, California’s Attorney General Jerry Brown has also changed positions on the constitutional amendment. The former opponent of equal marriage has studied the law carefully and is now fighting to have the constitutional amendment stricken. He argues that an amendment to the constitution cannot override the guarantees of liberty in prior clauses:
The right of same-sex couples to marry is protected by the liberty interests of the constitution. If a fundamental right can be taken away without any particular justification, then what kind of a right is it?
So, while some are still fighting for equal marriage rights for all, others have begun the process to cancel the marriages of over 18,000 loving couples on the eve of a spiritual holiday about love, giving, and kindness.
Sigh. Where are those Dickens ghosts when you need them?
- Prop. 8 sponsors seek to nullify 18K gay marriages [Associated Press]
- California AG urges top court to void gay marriage ban [CBC News]
- Calif.’s top lawyer seeks to overturn gay marriage ban [Montréal Gazette]
In my web travels, I often collect stories that I intend to share, but then become distracted by newer, shinier stories—or feel too lazy to illustrate them individually. This is what becomes of those stories: a Pile o’ Slaps!
Montreal Simon has an excellent post about an anti-gay group that’s campaigning to have a Pride flag removed from the lobby of St. Michael’s hospital in Toronto. Now, removing the only symbol that indicates gay people won’t be treated differently at the hospital might sound petty, but at least they’re consistent and also support the removal of religious symbols from state build—oh, wait.
A gay penguin couple that had been expelled from a zoo in China for stealing heterosexual penguin’s eggs has been allowed back after protests from zoo visitors. Zookeepers will give the penguins an egg from an inexperienced mother to try and curb the thefts. Religious penguins are furious, calling gay penguinism unnatural and against the teachings of the penguin bible.
Rufus Wainwright, the popular gay folksinger, is in hot water after an interview in which he advocated for equal marriage rights by saying “if you want to marry a dog, why don’t you go ahead and marry a dog, I don’t care.” Well, that ought to convince the religious right to abandon their fight against equal marriage rights. Thanks, Rufus.
United States President-elect, Barack Obama, is being criticised by gay groups after selecting an anti-gay pastor to preside over his inauguration this January. It’s not the greatest choice, granted, but I suppose you’d rather have the previous guy as president?
Reuters is announcing, for reasons I don’t fully understand, that the recently-opened Shrek musical has a “gay pride element.” And a religious right boycott will start in 3… 2…
Uruguay’s senate has (snicker) supposedly paved the way for same-sex marriage after passing a (chortle) law that allows people to legally change their gender. Tee hee. U-ru-guay.
Finally, and surprisingly, the United States has refused to sign a UN declaration opposing the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide. Many U.S. officials had privately expressed concern that signing the declaration would contradict state laws that allow landlords and private employers to discriminate against gay people. Yeah, why oppose unjust laws abroad if it means facing them at home?
Well, that’s it for today’s Pile o’ Slaps. Have a great weekend, kids!