The Rhode Island senate has voted and the result is a monumental movement for gay rights. Same sex marriage is now legal in Rhode Island.
David Klepper on Salon brings us the latest details on this breaking news.
Rhode Island senators put the state on the path Wednesday to becoming the 10th state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The gay marriage legislation easily passed the Rhode Island House in January, and the Senate vote was seen as the true test. The bill passed 26-12, and now returns to the House for a largely procedural vote, likely next week, before going to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who supports the legislation.
“This is a historic piece of legislation, one that literally has been in the works for more than 20 years,” said Sen. Donna Nesselbush, D-Pawtucket, the bill’s main sponsor in the Senate. “This is something that undoes centuries of discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.”
While the other five New England states already allow gay marriage, heavily Catholic Rhode Island has been a hold-out. Supporters this year mounted an aggressive and coordinated campaign that included organized labor, religious leaders, business owners and leaders including Chafee and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.
Last week, New Zealand became the 13th country to recognize same sex marriage. Maurice Williamson, Member of Parliament, gave this wonderfully funny and spot on speech. Demonstrating how silly the opposition is is much more effective than arguing with them.
The main point of his speech is summed up here:
“So don’t make this into a big deal. This is fantastic for people this affects, but for the rest of us, life will go on.”
He also quoted Deuteronomy 1:29. ”Be ye not afraid”
Watch/Read this beautifully written and moving letter from a gay dad to Justice Scalia and his fellow justices. Powerful and moving.
Below is the text, but watch the video – what a beautiful family!
Published on Mar 30, 2013
Dear Justice Scalia as well as your distinguished peers serving on the Supreme Court,
First let me thank you for hearing the historic cases this week on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). My husband, Kelly Vielmo, and I adopted three beautiful siblings from DC’s foster care system last year. Being an inter-racial, same-sex family we are used to being conspicuous and sometimes the center of attention on a local level depending on where we happen to be. With the cases being heard in the Supreme Court this week our family is now on debate at the national level. With that said I am following with interest your ruling on these cases. One comment that stuck with me was the speculation of potential “deleterious” effects of kids having same-sex parents. After I looked up deleterious (adj. causing harm or damage) I had to reflect on the harm and damage that has been done to my children. I know that you are listening to these cases from a nationally-scaled legal point of view, but the intent of this letter is to offer you the lens and point of view of one individual family your rulings will affect.
Children who are placed in the care of foster systems throughout this nation have suffered from either the neglect or the abuse of their biological families. For all intents and purposes, we will call this deleterious parenting. Sadly my children were born into these circumstances. They further had statistics against them. The adoption rates of both African American children and sibling pairs (not to mention trios) are greatly reduced. When my husband and I looked at our options for growing our family, DC’s Child and Family Services Administration seemed to be our natural choice. We knew we wanted siblings, had no racial preference for our children, and living in the District were able to help our local community at the same time.
I do not want to go into too much detail of my childrens’ history for the sake of their privacy. When our children arrived we welcomed a five-year-old who was not potty trained, a two-year-old who was withdrawn, and an almost two-year-old who never learned to walk. Please understand that there were no biological impediments to the development of these children. Their situation was entirely brought on by deleterious parenting. Since their arrival our children quickly graduated from the need of any additional services to include physical, speech, and play therapy. They are now happy and active members of their community.
I do not tell you these facts to paint ourselves as the saviors of these children. These children have done more for us than we have for them. Having the extraordinary privilege of watching these childrens’ souls grow and thrive despite the obstacles placed before them has been the lesson of our lives. I tell this story to establish myself as an expert witness to the effects of deleterious parenting. As you prepare your response on Proposition 8 and DOMA you now have the opportunity to decide what further obstacles will face these children. What are the deleterious effects your decision will have on my children? What states within our nation can these children live in and still declare their family legal? Next year during tax season will their parents have to hire a CPA to determine who and how to list the children as dependents? When the first of their parents passes away will their family’s assets and property be preserved and passed between parents as a married family or be treated as legal strangers?
I am not naive enough to think that any verdict of your court will change the opinions or hearts of the individuals we encounter on a daily basis. I accept that the stares our family receives walking down the street on a daily basis elicits both judgment and inspiration. What I do not accept is that the United States of America is willing to devalue my childrens’ family more than others and have a separate grouping of laws and benefits. I pray that as you rule on these cases that you keep Cardel (6), Raine (4), and Ravyn (3) in your hearts and do all in your power to keep deleterious obstacles from their lives.
Don’t have the time to read the full transcripts of the SCOTUS Prop 8 oral arguments? You’re in luck. Courtney Milan has made a “Truncated Transcript”. It is very funny helps us read between the lines of Tuesday’s historic event.
Among my favorites:
BREYER: I’m going to ask you an extremely long question riddled with nonspecific nouns, and you’re going to have to guess what I mean by it.
COOPER: I’m pretty sure the answer is no? But let’s stop talking about whether I should be allowed to talk, and get on to what I’m going to be talking about. Which is: nostalgia. Nostalgia for the good old days of traditional, bedrock values. Man, back in 1971, this Court said there was no federal question as to same-sex marriage. Those were the fuckingdays.
GINSBURG: The Supreme Court hadn’t even recognized gender-based classifications then.
COOPER: Are you harshing on my nostalgia?
FANTASY GINSBURG: I was alive back then, and trust me, I am not feeling particularly nostalgic for the time.
COOPER: Traditional bedrock of society. Let me say the words traditional and bedrock a couple more times. It’s really all about the tradition. And the nostalgia. The tradition of marriage is one of rearing children together, you know. And we don’t want to disrupt society by making marriage about anything else, like love or affection between two adults.
SCALIA: Tell me, Counsel. Gay marriage: Bad for children, or the worst for children?
COOPER: We really don’t know. Gay marriage is so new. We have no evidence. It could be that gay marriage will cause aliens to descend on this planet and eat the flesh of all children under the age of sixteen. Or maybe not. We just don’t know. We have to think of the children.
KENNEDY: This is extremely persuasive to me.
The whole thing is here and definitely worth your time.
Breaking News! CNN brings us the latest update as the Supreme Court hears both sides on same-sex marriage. An excerpt of the CNN article is below.
Washington (CNN) — As partisans argued pointedly over same-sex marriage outside the U.S. Supreme Court building, either hoping for or dreading a landmark decision, justices inside seemed reluctant Tuesday to extend a sweeping constitutional right for gays and lesbian to wed in all 50 states.
In the first of two days of hearings on cases that have the potential to fundamentally alter how American law treats marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy — considered the likely deciding vote on the divided court — questioned whether justices should even be hearing the issue.
“This was a deeply divided Supreme Court, and a court that seemed almost to be groping for an answer here,” said CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who watched the arguments over California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage.
Voters approved the proposal 52% to 48% in November 2008, less than six months after the state Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a fundamental right that must be extended to same-sex couples.
The court will listen to arguments Wednesday on a separate challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which — like the California law — defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
The overriding legal question in the California case is whether the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law prevents states from defining marriage as that state has.
Regarding allowing same-sex couples to marry, Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal member of the court, asked, “What harm is there to the institution of marriage?”
But more conservative members of the court took a go-slow approach. Justice Samuel Alito said the law on same-sex marriage is too new.
“There isn’t a lot of data on its effect” on children and the institution of marriage, he said.
While the justices were clearly torn on the larger constitutional questions, they may be poised to dismiss the appeal on jurisdictional grounds.
A key question is whether the private citizens who put Proposition 8 on California’s ballot have standing to defend it in court when the state’s governor and attorney general have refused to do so.
If the court dismisses the appeal on those grounds, it might mean lower federal court rulings declaring the proposition unconstitutional would stand.
But it wouldn’t allow for a broader, final rule outlining the power of states to say who can or can’t get married.
Kennedy admitted the law’s supporters are “not just any citizens.”
But he later raised concerns about whether the possibility of same-sex marriage was enough to establish they had suffered harm, a key jurisdictional hurdle allowing them to appeal in the first place.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said it is the state’s responsibility — through its elected leaders — to defend laws in court, and that private individuals could not establish “how their injury was separate from everyone else.”
Attorneys who represented the two couples seeking to overturn Proposition 8 said they couldn’t tell how the court would rule.
“We are confident where the American people are going with this,” said Theodore Olson. “We don’t know for sure what the United States Supreme Court is going to do, but we’re very, very grateful they listened, they heard, they asked hard questions, and there’s no denying where the right is.”
Andrew Pugno, general counsel for the Protect Marriage Coalition, the group defending Proposition 8, said their attorney had “credibly presented the winning case for marriage.”
“We think the hearing went very well,” he told reporters.
Two of the key plaintiffs are Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, a Burbank, California, couple who want to marry but can’t because of Proposition 8. They say the state is discriminating against them for their sexuality.
“It’s as simple as that,” Katami said after the hearing. “It’s our constitutional right and I cannot wait to start my family with Jeff.”
The court is unlikely to announce its decision until June.
Just days before the Supreme Court of the United States is set to hear arguments regarding same sex marriages, a prominent group of Amercian pediatricians has released a report supporting same sex unions. The report, published on the American Academy of Pediatrics website today, sites research that:
“Parents’ sexual orientation has no effect on a child’s development. Kids fare just as well in gay or straight families when they are nurturing and financially and emotionally stable.”
The policy also cites statistics that say more than 2 million children are being reared in same sex households, many of whom do now live in states that allow gays to marry.
The timing of the release is important. According to the Academy’s president, Dr. Thomas McInterney, “We wanted that policy statement available for the justices to review.”
The Academy has previously supported same sex parents in statements and briefs filed to the SCOTUS.
I can’t wait to hear the bigot’s react!
Read the policy statement here
A recent article by Mark Oppenheimer in the New York Times discusses the shifting perspective on same-sex marriage by David Blankenhorn, a traditional marriage advocate. The unprecedented move may illustrate an overall shift in the GOP’s acceptance of same-sex marriage.
David Blankenhorn, a traditional-marriage advocate and star witness in the Proposition 8 trial in California in 2010, shocked his allies with an Op-Ed article in The New York Times last June announcing that he was quitting the fight against same-sex marriage. “Instead of fighting gay marriage,” Mr. Blankenhorn wrote, “I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same.”
He is about to find out how much support such a coalition can get.
On Thursday, Mr. Blankenhorn’s research group, the Institute for American Values in New York, plans to issue “A Call for a New Conversation on Marriage,” a tract renouncing the culture war that he was once part of, in favor of a different pro-marriage agenda. The proposed conversation will try to bring together gay men and lesbians who want to strengthen marriage with heterosexuals who want to do the same.
President Obama’s Inauguration address is the first ever in the history of the United States to discuss marriage equality at an Inauguration. The American Equal Rights group released a video update on the recent movement that has been made in the realm of equal rights and gay marriage.
“We’re making major progress in multiple states, with bills advancing in Rhode Island and Colorado. Plus historic words from President Obama, strong polling numbers, and the anniversary of the Prop 8 trial.”
Check out the video below.
On Sunday, the French showed their support for marriage equality as thousands gathered to rally in Paris for same-sex marriage bill. In face, police estimate that 125,000 individuals marched in the streets to show support for the same-sex marriage bill that is set to go up for debate by lawmakers this Tuesday.
The French President, François Hollande, had promised during his campaign that he would legalize gay marriage within a year of taking office. He took office back in May of 2012 and there are hopes that the bill could indeed pass and become law by this time. According to the New York Times, the bill, “redefines marriage to stipulate that it is ‘contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex,’ and the words “father” and “mother” in existing legislation are replaced by “parents.” The bill also would allow married same-sex couples to adopt children.”
Passing of the bill would be monumental for marriage equality in France and would help to set a precedent for the United States and other European nations.
Read the full article by Steven Erlanger from the New York Times, here.
(Image Benjamin Girette/Associated Press)
The Washington National Cathedral announced on Wednesday, January 9th, that they will soon host same sex marriages. The National Cathedral, where new presidents are celebrated and national tragedies are mourned, will be among the first episcopal congregations to host gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender weddings.
The cathedral’s dean, Very Rev. Gary Hall, explained more behind the decision for the National Catedral to perform same sex weddings. “As a kind of tall-steeple, public church in the nation’s capital, by saying we’re going to bless same-sex marriages, conduct same-sex marriages, we are really trying to take the next step for marriage equality in the nation and in the culture.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest group for gay rights in the U.S., applauded the move and said that the cathedral’s actions sent a strong message to LGBT Episcopalians, that they are loved for just the way they are.
Gay weddings are allowed immediately but the Cathedral will most not likely see any marriages until this summer due to being booked for the next six months.