Law students protest bigot lawmaker

Young, well-educated people keep improving the bigoted world created by older, one-foot-in-the-grave generations:

More than 100 newly graduated lawyers walked out of their own graduation at the University of Michigan Law School on Saturday to protest the commencement speech by antigay Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

It’s just mind-boggling that there really are still people who hate gay people. It’s like these bigots haven’t even bothered to consider what sexuality is, how it works, how it doesn’t work, and what goes into forming healthy human relationships.

Anti-gay bigots misstep

Anti-gay bigots are making a stink about the judge who struck down Prop 8 in California. They’re arguing that he should have recused himself or at least disclosed that he is in a long-term relationship with another man:

“Only if Chief Judge Walker had unequivocally disavowed any interest in marrying his partner could the parties and the public be confident that he did not have a direct personal interest in the outcome of the case,” attorneys for the coalition of religious and conservative groups that put Proposition 8 on the November 2008 ballot wrote.

Saying Walker’s sexual orientation is cause for vacating his ruling would be like saying a black judge who rules in favor of other black people is acting improperly. I don’t think this argument will fly, especially since the ruling is being appealed anyway.

But that isn’t what’s really interesting about this. Look at the argument the bigots are trying to piece together. The only way the public could be confident of Walker’s impartiality is if “he did not have a direct personal interest in the outcome of the case”. And, of course, the reason they claim he has a direct personal interest is because he’s gay. So I presume a straight judge doesn’t have a direct personal interest in the matter? So if the only way a judge would have no personal interest in this case is if he was straight, then how is it that any straight people have any personal interest? It seems to me that the bigot organizations just argued that straight people have no legitimate personal interests to raise when dealing with gay marriage.

But then, I don’t really expect any coherent arguments from these sort of people.

Justice Department to no longer defend DOMA

Given that the act is legally and morally indefensible, this makes sense.

Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships — precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus” the Constitution is designed to guard against.

Good.

Also, take note of this:

Holder’s statement said, “Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed” the Defense of Marriage Act. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The highlighted portion references Lawrence v. Texas. Political Justice Scalia, being purely political and all, made his biggest objection to overturning the anti-gay laws in Texas on the basis that the decision could lead to the legalization of gay marriage. He also says that it’s important to abide by the past decisions of the Court less there be an overwhelming reason for change. That means – logically – that he will likely support overturning anti-gay marriage laws. Key word “logically”. So don’t expect him to care about that. Just watch. The guy is a joke, the worst legal mind the nation. He will vote to uphold every anti-gay law that comes his way, no matter the constitution or previous rulings of the Court.

Ken Ham is a real piece of shit

Ken Ham, that dishonest creationist D-bag with a ‘museum’, recently held a “Date Night” where he spouted off about “love” and his own, personal ideas concerning marriage. People were allowed to buy tickets for the Christian price of about $72. And, as you do with events about “love”, Ham had security goons posted all over the place. That led to some problems.

Three of us (myself, my girlfriend and our friend Brandon) passed the security checkpoint despite minor scrutiny. We arrived right at 6:00 p.m.; Ken Ham was just beginning his talk of love in the museum’s special effects room, and we were eager to hear it. Brandon’s “date,” Joe of Barefoot & Progressive, was late, and so the solo Brandon was the focus of much interest for the two guards, who carried the air of actual police.

“What kind of car will she be driving?” asked one of the guards. They wanted to know so they could keep strict tabs on who came into the museum.

“Oh,” I said. “His partner’s name is Joe. I think he drives one of those hybrids…”

You can guess how things went from there. The gay couple was denied entry for not being very Christian and Ham continued on about “love”. It’s weird, isn’t it? There is no way to resolve what makes one person more or less Christian than the next when both stake a claim to that awful title, yet people still seem to think otherwise. It’s a wonderful exercise is pure subjectivity.

Of course, none of this may have happened if the state was different. Kentucky has no law granting equality to its gay citizens. Maine and about 20-25 others states do (depending on the exact extent of equality being discussed). So as it stands, Ham’s immorality is perfectly legal right now, even if ultimately unconstitutional. That’s terrible, but at least it will be easier for future generations to see his sort of bigotry for how absurd it really is; I predict in 35-40 years that the actions of Ham and his goons will be widely viewed much as we would view them if they did this to a black couple today.

Same-sex marriage in Maryland

If there’s one thing we know about the U.S. constitution, it’s that none of our laws are allowed to support any particular religion. And by “we”, I mean those of us who haven’t been blinded by, well, a particular religion. For that other group – you know, the irrational one – things aren’t so clear.

Supporters of same-sex marriage came to Annapolis on Tuesday armed with personal stories, emotional pleas for equal treatment and arguments about how allowing gay couples to marry could help Maryland’s economy.

Opponents countered with biblical verses, research suggesting that children are better off with both a mother and a father, and warnings that “redefining marriage” could undermine other social institutions.

Emphasis added.

As for the rest, there is no research which says children are better off with a mother and father versus with two mothers or two fathers. This is exactly what I was talking about when I lamented the abuse of science. It’s so ugly when science is abused to support bigotry. The only silver lining here is that this makes it all the more clear that the bigots have no real arguments; their dogma demands they resort to just making it all up.

Fortunately, according to the people on the right side of history, this bill has a good chance.

Before the proceedings, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) put the chance of passing a same-sex marriage bill by his chamber at 60 to 70 percent, saying a vote could come next week.

If the bill clears the Senate, then the House of Delegates, typically the more liberal chamber on social issues, would take up the issue, deciding whether Maryland should join the District and five states that allow same-sex marriage.

I don’t know what the state’s citizen appeals process looks like, much less how many bigots populate the state, but all the reports make it sound like it’s just a matter of time until Maryland becomes the newest state to treat more of its citizens fairly – and with absolutely no ill consequences, just like in every other instance.

“I didn’t choose to be gay.”

Take a look at this video where a high school senior by the name Kayla K (“Kearney” appears in the tags of the video) takes the stage at a Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly earlier this month to come out as gay. Or rather, to bravely come out as gay.

It’s people like this that ought to give us real hope.

Tyler Clementi

It would be disingenuous and misguided of me to pretend like I can at all relate to what happened to Tyler Clementi. I’m a white male whose biggest claim to having anything remotely close to a hardship is being an atheist. The stigma that surrounds my lack of belief is trivial in comparison to what gays and other minorities go through. And there’s a significant difference: I choose to be an atheist. Tyler Clementi didn’t choose to be gay, no more than one chooses to be black or white. That was his identity – and he was forced to keep it in the ‘closet’. We have society to blame for that.

Minorities have been held down and ostracized and mocked ever since early humans began to notice the superficial differences we have between us. But how many minorities have been forced to stay silent on who they were? Blacks have historically been kicked, but they haven’t been forced to hide the physical color of their skin as a routine matter. The same goes for all racial minorities. This doesn’t make their plight any less significant or less important than any other plight, but it does make the discrimination gays face a unique beast. Gays are in the unique position where they can disguise who they are. The horribly hateful bigots out there take advantage of this, proclaiming the existence of some fairytale ‘homosexual agenda’, suggesting homosexuals want to teach gay sex to children, among all the other ugly lies we hear every day. This forces many gays to keep a major defining aspect of their lives a complete secret; fear drives them to hide who they are.

That’s why Tyler Clementi killed himself. If society accepted who he was because, damn it, he’s a human being and deserves at least as much, he would still be alive. He would graduate in three and a half years from Rutgers University, ready to contribute as much as he could to society, to his family, to his friends, to his own well-being. Instead we’re left with an unnecessary and permanent absence because that very society to which Tyler Clementi would have contributed so much is so immersed in a dark, dark hate.

‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ unconstitutional

It isn’t even a surprise when these rulings happen. Of course bigotry is unconstitutional.

A federal judge on Thursday declared the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional and said she will issue an order to stop the government from enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy nationwide.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips said the ban violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of gays and lesbians. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but requires discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or are discovered engaging in homosexual activity, even in the privacy of their own homes off base.

In her ruling, Phillips said the policy doesn’t help military readiness and instead has a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services.

Same-sex marriage ruled constitutional in Mexico City

One of the things many founding documents and fledgling governments have done is enshrine rights as broad principles, open to slow, steady interpretation. This allows for the biases and prejudices of the majority to be counteracted with a rational basis. This has been a great source of achievement for civil rights because it offers a method to come to a greater internal consistency based upon liberty rather than the capriciousness of the morals of the day. The Mexican Supreme Court is a testament to that fact.

The Mexican Supreme Court has ruled, 8-2, that same-sex marriage in Mexico City is constitutional, dismissing arguments that it violated guarantees to protect the family.

Because same-sex marriage protects families.

Bob Emrich and Uganda

Uganda has been well established as a good place for bigots to visit. In October of 2009 it introduced an Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would have made being gay punishable by life in prison or even death. This was on top of the already strong anti-gay laws in Uganda, one of which already made homosexuality punishable by 14 years in prison.

Several Evangelical Christians visited Uganda at this time, some of them specifically being involved in encouraging the bill. Bob Emrich, a pastor and one of the sexually immature leaders of the anti-equality movement in Maine last year, was in Uganda for two weeks just after the bill was introduced. He sent an email to his faith-heads in which he expressed support for a Ugandan article which said this:

This whole concept of human rights grates my nerves. It has made people un-african, mean and self-centered.

One can now shamelessly stand up and tell you: “I do as I please. You have no business in my affairs.” A sodomist can now swear to you that what they do in the privacy of their bedroom does not concern the public.

No wonder when a brilliant MP comes up with a Bill against homosexuality, the human rights activists baptize him an enemy of the people.

It is high time politicians, religious leaders, cultural leaders and all concerned Africans woke up and defended the African heritage against the moral confusion of Western civilization. This civilization is eroding African moral pride.

The so-called human rights activists have hijacked the driver’s seat and are sending nations into the sea of permissiveness in which the Western world has already drowned.

Emrich later said he was against life imprisonment and the death penalty for gays, but he had also already noted what “a refreshing change of pace” it was to be in Uganda. Uganda – a country known for its imprisonment of gays, something which was being discussed in an article Emrich was quoting and lauding.

Fast forward and now someone has called Emrich out on his bigotry.

It’s time to remind people about Emrich. In the fall of 2009, Emrich spent several weeks in Uganda working alongside anti-gay activists.

Presumably at that time, Emrich thought it was a good idea to remind people in Uganda about the evils of gay people.

Since gay marriage in Uganda was nowhere in sight, the activists’ motivation was to marginalize gays in general.

In October 2009, amidst the anti-gay activity in Uganda, a bill was introduced in the Ugandan Legislature that criminalized gay activity in Uganda, including the death penalty for a number of gay “crimes.”

It might seem hard to believe that Emrich would approve of the death penalty for gays, but shortly after his return to Maine, he sent an e-mail to his supporters about his trip.

Emrich’s e-mail included text from an article published in Uganda that condemns gays and their supporters and lauds the “brilliant” person who introduced the anti-gay bill.

Concerning the article, Emrich says “I think it speaks for itself.”

He was conspicuously silent about the death component of the Ugandan bill.

There’s some wiggly truth in this. First, Emrich claims to have been there to help build schools, train pastors, feed children, and conduct medical clinics, not working alongside anti-gay activists. But who isn’t an anti-gay activist in Uganda? I believe Emrich when he says he was not expressly working alongside any particular, organized political groups, but “expressly” is key. The building of schools and training of pastors fits is the method Emrich was choosing to indoctrinate children into a sea of ignorance, hate, and sexual immaturity. As he said, one of his favorite sentiments in Uganda was that “in order to have a healthy village, there must be a strong and healthy church”. This reflects the ideas of hate in the article Emrich loved so much which urged for a rejection of human rights in favor of maintaining small, heritage-based (read: anti-gay) villages in Africa. Emrich’s actions and subsequent email reflect what his whole mission was all about: he was trying to strengthen religion in a country which enthusiastically condemns gays, going so far as to praise an article which called that death penalty bill for gays “brilliant”.

But let’s hear from Emrich himself.

As for Uganda, the people still need help. Thousands live in remote villages, without access to clean water, sufficient food and medical care. Without transportation, electricity or newspapers, they have no time for political activism. They appreciate the help some Mainers have provided, and they are finding great hope and strength in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I skipped the opening and body of his response since I’ve already summarized some of his contention, but this conclusion is indicative of the sort of sexually immature, bigoted person Bob Emrich is. He’s pretending like his concern is purely for the people of Uganda, but he belies his claim when he goes on to imply the need for political activism in Uganda. He knows exactly what an increase in a focus on social issues means for gays in Uganda. He may disown parts of the article he lauded before he got caught, but he has never said he disagrees with the criminalization of homosexuality. In fact, in another email (some people are just too old to handle this stuff, I think), he clarified his position by saying this:

Personally, I agree that these (acts of sexual consent between two people of the same sex) are serious and grievous offenses but I do not believe they should be punishable by death or life imprisonment. The homosexual activists and bloggers are claiming that Ugandan officials, with the endorsement of American Christian leaders, are calling for the execution of all homosexuals. They are not to be believed. But deception and confusion serves their purpose.

Actually, it’s true that Ugandan officials and some Christian leaders in America have called for the death penalty, but that’s besides the point. What I’m wondering is why Emrich is so unwilling to homosexuality should not be a crime. But then, just like with the article he loves so much, maybe human rights really grate his nerves.