Category: Articles

Idaho’s Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down By Federal Judge – 05/14/2014

 

I know that my mission is for all the earth, not alone for my dear devoted followers in Christian Science…All my work, all my efforts, all my prayers and tears are for humanity, and the spread of peace and love among mankind.
Mary Baker Eddy
 Interviewed in New York American, 1907.

 

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The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

Idaho’s gay marriage ban is latest to be struck down in court

Not counting Idaho, 17 states have legalized gay marriage. Idaho’s governor has said he plans to appeal the decision by a US district magistrate judge.

      Same-sex marriage supporters gather on the steps of the Idaho statehouse in Boise on Tuesday night, May 13, 2014, after US Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled earlier in the day that Idaho’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
                  (Kyle Green/The Idaho Statesman/AP)

By Noelle Swan

posted May 14, 2014 at 1:02 pm EDT

A federal court overturned Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday, forcing the state not only to recognize same-sex couples married in other states, but also to permit gay and lesbian couples to legally marry in Idaho.

US District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled that the statewide ban, which voters enacted in 2006, is unconstitutional and infringes on the rights of gay and lesbian couples.

“Idaho’s Marriage Laws withhold from them a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted,” Judge Dale wrote in her opinion. “By doing so, Idaho’s Marriage Laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status.”

The Idaho ruling is the latest in a string of similar decisions since the US Supreme Court ruled last year that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Since that ruling, no federal judge has upheld any statewide ban, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Not counting Idaho, 17 states have legalized gay marriage since Massachusetts became the first state to do so in 2003. Residents have challenged gay marriage bans in all but three of the 33 states that restrict marriage to heterosexual partners.

In Arkansas, which is also not counted among the 17 states, 400 gay and lesbian couples have received marriage licenses since a Pulaski County judge tossed out a voter-approved ban on Friday. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D), who has said he opposes same-sex marriage, told reporters Tuesday he thinks it will ultimately be up to the Arkansas Supreme Court to decide whether the marriages are valid. The clerks from two other Arkansas counties said they wouldn’t issue any licenses to same-sex couples until the case has been resolved by the state’s highest court.

On Monday, five couples brought suit against the State of Alaska, where voters approved a ban in 1998. And South Dakota couple Jennie Rosenkranz and Nancy Robrahn have said that they will file suit challenging that state’s ban, which was passed in 1996 and reaffirmed by constitutional amendment in 2006. Montana and North Dakota are the other two states that to date have unchallenged bans.

In Idaho, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) has said that he plans to appeal Tuesday’s decision.

“In 2006, the people of Idaho exercised their fundamental right, reaffirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” Governor Otter said in a statementaccording to the Associated Press. “Today’s decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Dale argued in her written opinion that the American public does not have the right, even by majority decision, to restrict the rights of others.

“This case asks a basic and enduring question about the essence of American government: Whether the will of the majority, based as it often is on sincere beliefs and democratic consensus, may trump the rights of a minority,” she wrote. “[T]he facts are clear and the law teaches that marriage is a fundamental right of all citizens, which neither tradition nor the majority can deny.”

Arkansas Judge Strikes Down State’s Gay Marriage Ban – 05/10/2014

 

“Justice waits, and is used to waiting; and right wins the everlasting victory.”

Mary Baker Eddy

 (Miscellaneous Writings (p. 277)

 

“This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality,” Piazza wrote. “The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.”

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza

 

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Arkansas Judge Strikes Down State’s Gay Marriage Ban

AP  | by  ANDREW DEMILLO
Posted: Updated: 

 

* Photo – Courtesy of allposters.com

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A judge on Friday struck down Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriage, saying the state has “no rational reason” for preventing gay couples from marrying.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that the 2004 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution violates the rights of same-sex couples. He didn’t put his ruling on hold as some judges have done in other states, opening the door for same-sex couples in Arkansas to begin seeking marriage licenses, though it was not clear whether that would happen before Monday.

“This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality,” Piazza wrote. “The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.”

State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office said he would appeal the ruling and asked Piazza to suspend it during that process.

“We respect the Court’s decision, but, in keeping with the Attorney General’s obligation to defend the state constitution, we will appeal,” spokesman Aaron Sadler said.

Piazza issued his ruling late Friday, about half an hour after the marriage license office in Pulaski County closed.

Arkansas courthouses typically aren’t open on weekends, but with the state in its early-voting period for a May 20 primary, several clerks’ offices will be open Saturday. However, clerks reached by The Associated Press after Piazza issued his ruling said they hadn’t been formally notified of it and weren’t prepared to begin issuing marriage licenses.

At least one couple who sued over the ban said they hoped to wed quickly. Kathy Henson said she and her girlfriend Angelia Buford planned to seek a marriage license in neighboring Saline County as soon as offices opened.

“We think that (Piazza) did a really great job and that he ruled on the right side of history,” Henson said.

The ruling came a week after McDaniel announced he personally supports gay marriage rights but would continue to defend the constitutional ban in court. Sadler said McDaniel sought the stay because “we know that questions about validity of certain actions will arise absent a stay.”

The amendment was passed in 2004 with the overwhelming support of Arkansas voters. Piazza’s ruling also overturns a 1997 state law banning gay marriage.

In his decision, Piazza cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1967 decision that invalidated laws on interracial marriage.

“It has been over 40 years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice,” Piazza wrote, referring to that ruling. “The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.”

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Since then, lower-court judges have repeatedly cited the decision when striking down some of the same-sex marriage bans that were enacted after Massachusetts started recognizing gay marriages in 2004.

Federal judges have ruled against marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

In all, according to gay-rights groups, more than 70 lawsuits seeking marriage equality are pending in about 30 states. Democratic attorneys general in several states — including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oregon and Kentucky — have declined to defend same-sex marriage bans.

The head of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights, praised the ruling.

“This victory is an essential step on the journey toward full equality for all,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native.

But the leader of the group that campaigned for the ban said the judge was undermining the will of voters.

“This ruling undermines marriage because once people start redefining marriage, there seems to be no place to stop,” Arkansas Family Council President Jerry Cox said.

McDaniel, a Democrat in his final year as attorney general, is the first statewide elected official in Arkansas to support marriage equality.

___

Associated Press Writers Christina Huynh and Kelly Kissel contributed to this report

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/09/arkansas-gay-marriage-ban_n_5298379.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices

 

Federal Judge To End Ohio Ban On Recognizing Gay Marriages – 04/04/2014

 

It is a moral understanding today that gay people are no different and that gay, married couple’s relationships are not significantly different than the relationship of straight, married couples.

Roberta A Kaplan

UNITED STATES V WINDSOR ATTORNEY

 

 

edithwindsor

 

 

 

Federal Judge To End Ohio Ban On Recognizing Gay Marriages

AP

 by  AMANDA LEE MYERS

Posted: 04/04/2014 12:47 pm EDT

Updated: 04/04/2014 2:51 pm EDT

  

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal judge said Friday that he will strike down Ohio’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage, a move that stops short of forcing Ohio to perform same-sex weddings but will make the state recognize gay couples legally wed elsewhere.

Judge Timothy Black announced his intentions in federal court in Cincinnati following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.

“I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio’s recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Black said. “(They’re) denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married.”

The civil rights attorneys who filed the February lawsuit did not ask Black to order the state to perform gay marriages, and he did not say he would do so.

The Cincinnati-based legal team asked Black to declare that Ohio’s gay marriage ban is “facially unconstitutional, invalid and unenforceable,” and indicated that following such a ruling, the window would be open for additional litigation seeking to force the state to allow gay couples to marry in Ohio.

Attorneys for the state argued that it’s Ohio’s sole province to define marriage as between a man and a woman, that the statewide gay marriage ban doesn’t violate any fundamental rights, and that attorneys improperly expanded their originally narrow lawsuit.

“Ohio has made its own decision regarding marriage, deciding to preserve the traditional definition,” state’s attorneys argued in court filings ahead of Friday’s hearing.

They argued that prohibiting the state from enforcing its marriage ban would “disregard the will of Ohio voters, and undercut the democratic process.”

He didn’t say why he made the announcement on his ruling before he issues it. But by stating his intention ahead of his ruling, Black gave time for the state to prepare an appeal that can be filed as soon as he does.

CSMonitor – Fred Phelps legacy . . . 03/18/2014

 

People started to feel bad for the groups they were protesting, their tactics were actually backfiring,” writes Kristen Hotham Carroll, a contributor to The Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog. “They went from being a dreaded enemy of the LGBT community to almost a secret weapon. Their hate made us more sympathetic.

 

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The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

Fred Phelps legacy: Should Westboro Baptist founder be picketed?

With reports that Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps is near death, some gay-rights advocates are conflicted. In the end, they say, his actions actually helped their cause.

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Counterprotesters use flags to screen those attending a military funeral in Lamar, Mo., from Westboro Baptist Church protesters (seen in the background) in this 2010 photo.
(Emily Younker/The Joplin Globe/AP/File)

By , Staff writer / March 18, 2014 at 3:09 pm EDT

For most of the past 20 years, gay Americans dreaded Fred Phelps Sr. and the “God hates fags” pickets by members of his Westboro Baptist Church, a congregation that believes that disciples who do not attack those they see as sinful will themselves be punished by God.

But amid reports that Mr. Phelps is now seriously ill at a TopekaKan., hospice facility,  some religion experts and gay activists are suggesting that the gay rights movement may ultimately owe Phelps a debt of gratitude for his leadership of one of the most controversial small churches in America.

Instead of turning America against gays and same-sex unions, they argue, Phelps may have instead helped to draw attention to the subject of religious intolerance and its impact on fellow Americans.

“We should give thanks for [Fred Phelps’] gift to American society,” writes Mark Silk, a religion professor Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. “So what’s the gift? It’s that he made religious hostility to homosexuality repulsive.

Mr. Silk’s comment comes amid a social media debate over whether those whom Phelps targeted during his nearly 60 years as leader of the church should themselves picket Phelps’s eventual funeral. Westboro became synonymous with the evangelical backlash to gay marriage, strands of which still persist as states and federal courts battle over state laws and amendments that ban gay marriage.

In late February, for instance, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have given new protections to religious business owners to turn down gay customers, which critics saw as an invitation to discriminate against gay people.

In the past year, eight US states have legalized gay marriage, and the US Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has to recognize same-sex marriages from states where the practice is legal. Last month, Kentucky’s attorney general made news when he said he would not appeal a federal court ruling striking down that state’s constitutional ban on gay marriages.

But while it’s impossible to pin down Westboro’s exact role in changing attitudes around gay marriage, what’s unmistakable is that support for gay marriage among religious Americans has gone up sharply over time and especially in the last year.

Support for gay marriage has gone up 11 percentage points since last year among black Protestants (to 43 percent), and up 7 points just in the last year (to 62 percent) among white mainline Protestants. Support, however, remains flat among Catholics (59 percent) and Evangelicals (23 percent), according to the most recent survey by the Pew Research Center.

Westboro came into full public light in 1998, when the group picketed the funeral of Mathew Shephard, a murdered gay man. At its high point, the 40-member church spent $250,000 a year traveling around the country to picket. The outrage they caused helped the group’s publicity campaign, as it received news coverage even for events they only threatened to picket but never did.

There remains a lot of pent-up anger about Phelps’s long career as a religious rabble-rouser.

“Fred Phelps, you have done more to hurt the gospel, stir up hateful people, and alienate members of society than nearly anyone in the last 20 years,”writes Jayson Bradley, who blogs on religious issues.

Considered “hyper-Calvinists” by some, Westboro Baptist congregants have never actually tried to change anybody’s mind on the issue of gay marriage, says Mr. Bradley. Instead, their job has been to “spread and communicate [God’s] hatred and anger.”

Yet some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists who long feared Phelps and his picketers say they came to see Phelps and his flock in a different light as time passed.

“People started to feel bad for the groups they were protesting, their tactics were actually backfiring,” writes Kristen Hotham Carroll, a contributor to The Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog. “They went from being a dreaded enemy of the LGBT community to almost a secret weapon. Their hate made us more sympathetic.”

As he led his largely family-clan church on picketing exploits around the country, eventually expanding to picket military funerals, Phelps cut a peculiar figure in American history.

In his early career, he was a civil rights lawyer lauded by the likes of the NAACP. Phelps’s firm represented black Kansans in civil rights lawsuits against the city of Topeka, Kansas Power & Light, and Southwestern Bell, among other cases. But he was disbarred by the Kansas Supreme Court in 1979 for unethical behavior and was forced to surrender his license to practice in federal courts in 1989.

Even before Phelps entered hospice care, Westboro Baptist Church was in a period of transition. The church excommunicated Phelps last summer after he advocated “a kinder approach between church members,” his estranged son, Nate Phelps, told the Topeka Capital-Journal.

I Will Not Picket the Funeral of Fred Phelps – 03/17/2014

 

Hatred and homophobia can never be underestimated.  And the effect of someone saying “God hates fags” can never be underestimated either.  It’s a license to kill. It’s a death sentence.  It’s not funny.  It’s not OK.  It’s not something I can let go easily, because I know what it truly means.

Margaret Cho

Comedian, actor and recording artist

 

Inside (Video)the Westboro Baptist Church

Libby Phelps Alvarez describes growing up inside America’s most hate-filled congregation

 

 

I Will Not Picket the Funeral of Fred Phelps

Posted: Updated: 

 

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost’s signature lineup of contributors

In the late 1990s, I joined an LGBT rights movement called Soulforce, inspired by the principles of non-violence and social justice utilized by Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Mahatma Gandhi. One of our first direct actions was in Lynchburg, VA, where we met with Reverend Jerry Falwell, and other members of his church. Our goal was to begin a dialogue, and to try to end the hateful rhetoric that was leading to the loss of life, both through hate crimes as well as a daunting number of suicides. It was right after the Matthew Shepard murder, and emotions in the LGBT community were soaring.

At that time, for so many members of the community, living authentic and open lives was not a viable option. You could lose your job, your housing, be arrested, or even killed, just for loving the wrong person. However, it was quickly becoming evident that the cost of silence was outweighing the risk of openness and truth. The silence that saved our lives for many generations, was holding us back from living meaningful lives. While there had always been a small contingent of brave and selfless heroes of the LGBT community fighting for our rights, more and more of us were finally deciding it was time to take a stand. Soulforce resonated with me, because it addressed the source of the discrimination where it was the most prevalent, in the churches.

We gathered in Lynchburg, and although we had originally planned to have a dinner with Reverend Falwell and his supporters, at the last moment they said they could not possibly eat with us, as breaking bread with us would compromise their morality. At every turn, we were made to feel less and less human. As we arrived on site at Thomas Road Baptist Church, we were met not only by the scorn and judgment of the church members, but also by picketers from Westboro Baptist Church.

We were instructed at every point to ignore them and not to engage. That was quite hard for me at the time. I was in my early 20s, still in the beginning stages of recovering from an evangelical upbringing that taught me to ignore, suppress, and hate the person I was. Soulforce was a new form of salvation for me. I found out that God loved me and made me, just as I am. I found out there were other people like me, who believed in God and who loved God, and who were also born lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. It was the biggest joy of my life, knowing I could still have a personal relationship with God, without turning my back on the person I was born to be.

My wounds were fresh — coming out to the rejection of my family and most of my friends, being told I was less than, a sinner, disgusting and wrong. Having the opportunity to participate in a group like Soulforce, that attacked the source of the rhetoric and the hate directly from the pulpits, was both freeing and conflicting. It was hard to love the people who had made me hate myself for so long. Adding the component of the group from Westboro Baptist Church, with their spiteful signs depicting explicit sex acts, using young children to communicate their message, and preaching a clear message of hate, made this meeting with Reverend Falwell all the more emotionally charged. We were already confronting our tormentors… those who made us hate ourselves… those who made us believe that we were mistakes… those who told us that God didn’t love us, and that we were going to hell… and as we summoned the courage to walk into the church that had famously and loudly preached against us for so many years, we were taunted and yelled at and humiliated by the picketers who shouted to us that God hates us… a message we had all worked tirelessly to heal from.

The following year, I attended a two-week non-violence summit in Cleveland, where our final event was a protest of the United Methodist Annual Convention. Reverend Jimmy Creech had just been defrocked by the Methodist Church for marrying same-sex couples. He was one of the leaders in our training. Alongside him were Soulforce founders Mel White and Gary Nixon, as well as Yolanda King, Arun Ghandi, Bob Graetz, of the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, and many other amazing leaders in nonviolence and social justice. It was one of the most inspiring and life changing times in my life, and once again, Westboro Baptist Church was present.

Much like in Lynchburg, emotions were blazing. We interlocked as a human chain, blocking the entrance and exit to the convention center with signs that said, “No entrance/exit without justice.” We were arrested for blocking the exit and entrance, all the while with the WBC members taunting us, and yelling hate speech toward us. We simply ignored them, praying for strength, courage and peace, and singing songs of freedom. The more they yelled at us, the louder and stronger we sang. For several blocks in downtown Cleveland that hot summer day, “We Shall Overcome” echoed through the streets, drowning out the cries of hate from the congregation from Kansas.

Years passed, the world began to change, and a funny thing happened. I started to see the value of the WBC pickets. They had moved on from just picketing LGBT people and supporters, and they were now picketing funerals for soldiers who had died defending our country. Now, not only were they hurting us, they were hurting everyone. Inspiring widespread disdain, the tides were turning. People started to feel bad for the groups they were protesting, and their tactics were actually backfiring. They didn’t seem to notice or care, as long as they were in the public eye. They went from being a dreaded enemy of the LGBT community, to almost a secret weapon. Their hate actually made us more sympathetic, and I welcomed their increasingly demented and frenzied protests.

Early on, I spent a lot of time on their website. They used to have hand drawn flyers announcing their protests, with ridiculous cartoon style drawings of whoever they were protesting, as well as nonsensical rants describing why they were protesting whatever bride of Satan or fag nation had garnered their attention that particular day. From once being a source of pain, they had almost become a source of amusement for me.

Not too long ago, I had the thought that I could only hope I lived a life that would warrant a funeral picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church. I posted a Facebook status to that effect, and not long after, I noticed several others shared that sentiment, independent of my post. For quite some time, it became a pretty widespread sentiment that I saw throughout many different unique corners within social media. What a shift from the horror and hurt they caused not so many years before! A WBC picket had evolved into the badge of honor for a life well lived.

It is now 2014. Reverend Phelps is nearing death, and the world looks very different than just 15 or 16 years ago. Gay marriage will soon be legal in every state in the U.S. Signs saying “God Hates Fags” are no longer hurtful. They are more an object of amusement at best and an eye roll at worst, than anything else. I can still quickly remember a time when that wasn’t the case.

It would certainly be understandable if there were members of the LGBT community, as well as so many others, who felt inclined to picket the funeral of Fred Phelps. Though the weight of his actions and pickets has dissipated over the years, there was a time when his actions and leadership cause a tremendous amount of grief for an awful lot of people. It is my hope, however, that no one will descend to the level of hatred and pettiness that seemed to fuel the last decades of his life. We would only be harming our own souls, to carry out such a callous, immoral and emotionally void action. It is my prayer that in the last moments of his life, the Reverend is able to find peace and love, as he prepares to be humbled before his maker. The time for the hurt is ending. It is time to let the healing begin. Truly, the best way to avenge hurt inflicted by our enemies is to simply forgive them, and not allow them to have a stronghold in our hearts.

Rest in peace, Fred. I forgive you.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-hotham-carroll/fred-phelps-westboro_b_4976787.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

Follow Kristen Hotham Carroll on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KHCart

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gay Marriage Ban is History – 03/15/2014

 

“At this point, all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs’ marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history,” Judge Trauger wrote in the order.

 

 

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The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

Judge calls Tenn. gay marriage ban historical ‘footnote’: Do Southerners now agree?

The South remains the most hard-line US region opposing same-sex marriage. But a recent shift in public attitudes – even in the Bible Belt – suggests that may be changing.

 

By , Staff writer / March 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm EDT
ATLANTAIn ordering an injunction against Tennessee’s ban on gay marriage, a federal judge on Friday called laws against recognizing same sex couples mere “footnotes” in history.

As the legal battle over gay rights shifts to the South, the big question now is whether Southerners have tacitly begun to agree with that notion.

The injunction ruling by Judge Aleta Trauger covers three couples who filed a lawsuit last year against the 2006 state constitutional amendment that both bans gay marriage in the state and orders officials not to recognize marriage certificates from other states. The judge has not made a final ruling in the case, but did seem to tip her hat Friday.

“At this point, all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs’ marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history,” Judge Trauger wrote in the order.

The ruling is the fourth of its kind in the South, which remains the most hard-line region when it comes to denying people of the same sex joining in state-sanctioned unions. In Tennessee, 81 percent of voters approved the gay marriage constitutional ban in 2006.

But a recent shift in public attitudes on gay marriage – even here in the Bible Belt – suggests that a truce could be near.

Washington Post poll this week showed support for gay marriage in the South at 50 percent for the first time, compared to 59 percent support nationally. Forty-two percent of Southerners say they’re opposed to gay marriage.

“While geographic splits on same-sex marriage approval do show the South lagging other regions, it’s no longer a minority view even here, and it isn’t hard to fathom which way it’s trending,” writes Bruce Barry in the Nashville Scene.

Gay couples are filing lawsuits at a rapid pace in states where voters approved anti-gay marriage amendments to their state constitutions – Indiana, for example, saw 11 couples joining a lawsuit filed on Friday alone. The suits are coming on the heels of last year’s Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the right of same-sex couples to get federal benefits. Since then, judges have struck down marriage bans in Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, and Texas.

In the US, pro-gay marriage states are clustered in the Northeast and Far West; anti-gay marriage states are stacked up in the South, in the Appalachians, the Ohio River Valley, and parts of the Mountain West.

In response to Friday’s ruling in Tennessee, David Fowler, president of Family Action Council of Tennessee, said he expects attorney general Robert Cooper to appeal any final ruling against the marriage ban.

The judge “clearly signaled her intent to continue the war by unelected federal judges against the rights of the states and the citizens … to determine what its policies regarding marriage should be,” Mr. Fowler fumed in a statement.

But it’s not clear, given changing attitudes and legal dynamics – including US Attorney General Eric Holder telling state attorneys general they don’t have to try to uphold laws they feel are discriminatory – whether Southern officials will try to rebuff the courts.

Already, six Democratic attorneys generals have said they will not appeal court rulings striking down gay marriage bans in their states. Such hesitation has begun to spread to the South, as well. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway angered conservatives in the state when he recently signaled he will not appeal a federal pro-gay marriage ruling in his state.

“Southerners are increasingly on a journey in support of the freedom to marry,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, in a statement. “At its core, marriage is about love and family – deeply ingrained Southern values.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2014/0315/Judge-calls-Tenn.-gay-marriage-ban-historical-footnote-Do-Southerners-now-agree

 

 

Breaking – First gay marriages in Utah as federal judge overturns ban -12/21/2013

 

Seeking only what is right is important because it is the only course that will bring lasting good when we are persistent and patient.  Mrs. Eddy writes, “Justice waits, and is used to waiting; and right wins the everlasting victory.”3

Not Who but What Is Right

NOLA AUSTIN COOK

From the April 15, 1972 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

 

 

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First gay marriages in Utah as federal judge overturns ban

US. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled Utah’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.  Republican governor blasted the ruling as going against the will of the people. Gay couples rushed to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office en masse.

By Brady McCombs and Paul Foy, Associated Press / December 21, 2013

 

SALT LAKE CITY

Elisa Noel rushed to the county clerk’s office with her partner immediately after learning that a federal judge overturned Utah‘s ban on gay marriage. They waited in line for a wedding license and were married in an impromptu ceremony punctuated with Noel giving the officiant a high-five.

“I can’t believe this is Utah,” Noel said moments after a ceremony that took place about 3 miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church.

Others had a similar reaction after a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby that declared Utah’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The recent appointee by President Barack Obama said the ban violates the constitutional rights of gay couples and ruled Utah failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.

The ruling prompted a frenzy of activity by lawyers and gay couples. The Republican governor blasted the ruling as going against the will of the people. Gay couples rushed to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office en masse to secure marriage licenses, waiting in line by the dozens and getting married on the spot by the mayor and ministers.

It was a jubilant affair as cheers broke out after ceremonies were completed. A gay bar in Salt Lake quickly made plans for a Friday night party to mark the event. Some made plans to march on the capitol Monday.

“I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. I am working with my legal counsel and the acting attorney general to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah,” Gov. Gary Herbert said.

Late Friday, the state filed both a notice of appeal of the ruling and a request for an emergency stay that would stop marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples. It’s unknown when the judge will make a decision on whether to grant the stay.

The ruling has thrust the judge into the national spotlight less than two years after Congress approved his nomination to the federal bench. Shelby was appointed by President Barack Obama after GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch recommended him in November 2011.

Shelby served in the Utah Army National Guard from 1988 to 1996 and was a combat engineer in Operation Desert Storm. He graduated from the University of Virginia law school in 1998 and clerked for the U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene in Utah, then spent about 12 years in private practice before he became a judge.

Many similar challenges to same-sex marriage bans are pending in other states, but the Utah case has been closely watched because of the state’s history of steadfast opposition to gay marriage as the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church said in a statement Friday that it stands by its support for “traditional marriage.”

“We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court,” the church said.

Not all Mormons were disappointed. A group called Mormons for Equality applauded the ruling, saying it was particularly sweet coming in “the heartland of our faith.”

The group has been among the leaders of growing movement among Mormons to push the church to teach that homosexuality isn’t a sin.

The Mormon church’s stance has softened considerably since it was one of the leading forces behind California’s short-lived same-sex-marriage ban, Proposition 8, in 2008. A church website launched this year encourages more compassion toward gays, and church leaders backed the Boy Scouts’ recent policy allowing gay youth.

The Utah ruling comes the same week New Mexico’s highest court legalized gay marriage after declaring it unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A new law passed in Hawaii last month now allows gay couples to marry there.

If the ruling stands, Utah would become the 18th state to allow gay marriages, said Jon Davidson, director of Lambda Legal, which pursues litigation on LGBT issues nationwide. That’s up from six before the U.S. Supreme Court last summer struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The District of Columbia also allows same-sex marriage.

Deputy Salt Lake County Clerk Dahnelle Burton-Lee said the district attorney authorized her office to begin issuing the licenses but she couldn’t immediately say how many had been issued. But it was clear from the line at the clerk’s office that was several dozen.

“The momentum we are seeing is unprecedented in any human rights struggle,” Davidson said. “To have this fast a change in the law and in public opinion, is quite remarkable.”

State Sen. Jim Dabakis, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, was one of the first to get married in Salt Lake City with his longtime partner, Stephen Justesen.

“Do you, Jim, take Steven, to be your lawfully wedded spouse?” the mayor asked.

But at the Utah County clerk’s office in Provo, same sex-couples were still denied marriage licenses.

Patsy Carter, 42, and her partner of eight years, 39-year-old Raylynn Marvel, said they went to the office immediately after hearing about the ruling but the clerk said they office was still reviewing the ruling and consulting with the county attorney.

Carter said the ruling was still a positive step and she believes Utah County, considered one of Utah’s most conservative, will eventually have to start granting the licenses.

“If my marriage licenses could say, ‘Provo, Utah,’ that’s probably the most epic contradiction ever,” she said.

Utah’s lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples, including one that was legally married in Iowa and just wants that license recognized in Utah.

During a nearly four-hour hearing on the case earlier this month, attorneys for the state argued that Utah’s law promotes the state’s interest in “responsible procreation” and the “optimal mode of child-rearing.” They also asserted it’s not the courts’ role to determine how a state defines marriage, and that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t give same-sex couples the universal right to marry.

In the ruling, Shelby wrote that the right to marry is a fundamental right protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“These rights would be meaningless if the Constitution did not also prevent the government from interfering with the intensely personal choices an individual makes when that person decides to make a solemn commitment to another human being,” Shelby wrote.

 

 

A Lesson Before Dying – Special Edition – 12/07/2013

 

I’ve always admired Charles Blow of the NY Times, but for a non-CS (I assume), I find the last few paragraphs extraordinary. We Christian Scientists

 don’t have a monopoly on Truth and Love. Let us rejoice that good has infinite means of expression. 

Doug Finney

 

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OP-ED COLUMNIST

A Lesson Before Dying

By CHARLES M. BLOW

Published: December 6, 2013 96 Comments

* Photo – charles M. Blow -Damon Winter/The New York Times

 

One of the great lights of the world went dark on Thursday. Nelson Mandela left this world, having enormously altered it.

And yet, the extraordinary example that he set lives on and provides a lesson — a blueprint — for all of us who still labor for justice, equality and freedom.

Be convinced of your cause. Conviction, character and consistency are sorely lacking in our modern era of fame-chasing, poll-testing and comment-reading. The status quo has a way of lulling the masses into complacency and acceptance. It’s known and familiar. There are always those whose lives are comfortable and whose livelihoods are secure under it.

Upsetting the status quo — or upending it — is always a radical proposition and is often an unpopular one, sometimes even among those who suffer under the entrenched system. Your cause may be unpopular, but history has demonstrated again and again that it will look kindly on the just.

First, be a fighter. Time has a way of rendering history smooth and digestible, of polishing away the rough bits and sweetening the bitter. Mandela was not only a lovely, grandfatherly figure; he was also a freedom fighter, a man willing to commit his life to — or even sacrifice it for — what he believed in.

Mandela’s African National Congress was once deemed a terrorist organization by both his home country, South Africa, and by the United States. And America’s view of Mandela and of South Africa’s system of apartheid cannot be whitewashed, even as we now venerate Mandela in death.

As Noam Chomsky wrote in his 2010 book “Hopes and Prospects”:

“Through the 1980s, U.S. trade with South Africa increased despite the 1985 congressional sanctions (which Reagan evaded), and Reagan continued to back South African depredations in neighboring countries that led to an estimated 1.5 million deaths. As late as 1988 the administration condemned Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress as one of the world’s ‘more notorious terrorist groups.’”

Be brave. Courage is not required to execute that which is easy or convenient. As the Texas progressive author and agitator Jim Hightower once put it, “Even a dead fish can go with the flow.” Courage is drawing up your shoulder and pushing into the resistance. Courage is doing what is unpopular or dangerous or discomforting because, even if you must do it alone, it is the right thing to do.

As Mandela put it: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” We all feel fear. In fact, fear the person who claims that he or she does not. But fear withers under the heat of righteousness. It cannot spread when it is cornered by those of noble conviction.

Remember that no one can divest you of your basic humanity without your submission and allowance. Discrimination and injustice are insidious, virulent scourges that the world is working hard to remedy, but they remain stubbornly resistant to complete eradication. Even as we labor to be rid of them, let us all retain our resolve and rise up in our dignity.

I like to think of it the way Zora Neale Hurston once put it: “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” The person consumed by discrimination morally subjugates himself or herself, as a matter of principle, to the person free of it, leaving the person free of it with the moral high ground.

Never underestimate the power of grace. Mandela’s immeasurable grace and equanimity, his presidency and his efforts at reconciliation in South Africa will forever serve as an example to the world of the true possibilities and power of the human spirit. We so often think of power as force, but there is also enormous power in love, understanding and forgiveness. Demonstrating kindness to those who have treated you cruelly is an act of moral supremacy. It is the most powerful of human exercises, because in so doing, you conquer the self and diminish your enemy.

Finally, remember that all things are possible for those of strong will and unwavering perseverance. Those who can’t imagine change reveal the deficits of their imaginations, not the difficulty of change. As Mandela put it, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at chblow@nytimes.com.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/07/opinion/a-lesson-before-dying.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

 

World AIDS Day 2013 + Live Coverage (Dance Red & Save Lives) – Now Playing – 12/01/2013

 

Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals.  In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.

 Mary Baker Eddy

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (pps. 476-477).

 

It amazes me that our movement had not yet really handled this belief.  We as LGBT Christian Scientists demand a cure!  And we have it right at hand.  It should be simple.  So why the delay?  Are we all ( Gay and homophobe alike) too much handled by side issues like self righteousness, judgementalism, shame, belief we are sinners, belief in malpractice, and I’m sure, many others.

Member, Board of Directors – Emergence International – 12/01/2013

 

When AIDS is an uncomfortable and untouchable subject, the disease spreads.  But when we bring it to the fore, when we aren’t afraid to confront it, information spreads.  Compassion spreads.  The cure spreads.  Please, help me spread the cure.

It comes down to a simple equation, really.  If you give love out, you get love back.  If you take nothing else from the stories I’ve told here, please take that lesson to heart.  It is the only thing that matters.  It is why we need a global movement for love, and not just when it comes to AIDS.  We need to love the poor, we need to love the sick, and we need to love those who we perceive as different.  If love guides our actions, we can end AIDS.  If love drives our actions, we can build a better world.

Elton John

LOVE IS THE CURE ON LIFE, LOSS, AND THE END OF AIDS

http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/2012/0725/Elton-John-5-stories

 

One of the things about getting to the end of your life is that you become aware of what is important and what is not important. There’s a certain type of wisdom that enters into you when you have nothing left to lose.

Toward the end of that process, that’s when I sat at the piano. I played all day long, all these churchy chords, I just played and played. I knew that the music, whether the vibrations or the exertion of creation, had had a measurable physical effect on my body. I suddenly felt strong.

Steve Schalchlin, 59

YEAR OF DIAGNOSIS: 1993

 

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Let’s World AIDS Day 2013 be a day of reflection, remembrance, and awareness.   It is not that we are celebrating HIV/AIDS but that we celebrate victories won.

The theme for this year is “Getting to Zero” which means zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero babies born with HIV and zero deaths from AIDS related illnesses.

 

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http://www.red.org/worldaidsday (Click Here for Live Coverage) 

 

World AIDS Day 2013: Prayers, Poetry, Meditations For Hope And Healing

Posted: 12/01/2013 8:34 am EST

December 1, 2013

The Huffington Post – Religion

 

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“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

 

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops – at all -

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard -slide_221266_882084_free

And sore must be the storm -

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -

And on the strangest Sea -

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

by Emily Dickinson

 

*Photos –  Act Up’s 25th Anniversary Offers Chance To Reflect On AIDS Activism’s 

 

Prayer that From Suffering, Rejection, and Loss May Come Strength

God of mercy and creator of all: We pray for all those afflicted with AIDS, their loved ones, and all care-givers and researchers, that from suffering, rejection and loss may come strength, compassion and faith, and that we may be healed of fear and moved to give support to those in need. In the name of Jesus, the healer and friend of all, AMEN.

 

Salutation to the Dawn

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth;
The glory of action;
The splendor of achievement;
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

 

Prayer for Persons Living With HIV/AIDS

Almighty and immortal God, as you have promised to comfort, the sick, the lonely, and the despised, incline your ear to your people who live with AIDS and speedily defend and deliver them. Through Jesus Christ our savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.

-Randolph Lloyd Frew, Praying with HIV/AIDS

 

The Maryknoll AIDS Task Force Prayer

God of all compassion, comfort your sons and daughters who live with HIV. Spread over us all your quilt of mercy, love and peace.

Open our eyes to your presence reflected in their faces. Open our ears to your truth echoing in their hearts.

Give us the strength to weep with the grieving, to walk with the lonely, to stand with the depressed.

May our love mirror your love for those who live in fear, who live under stress and who suffer rejection.

Mothering, fathering God grant rest to those who have died and hope to all who live with HIV.

God of life, help us to find the cure now and help us to build a world in which no one dies alone and where everyone lives accepted wanted and loved.

-Provided by the Maryknoll sisters of the San Salvador Diocesan HIV/AIDS program and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance

Pour Out Your Spirit Upon Person Living With AIDS

O God, whose heart burns with compassion and love for your whole creation, pour out your

Spirit upon persons living with AIDS, their families and loved ones, and grant hope and peace in our days. Through Jesus Christ our Savior. AMEN.

 

-Randolph Lloyd Frew, Praying with HIV/AIDS

 

For Times of Fear

Almighty God, the Refuge of all that are distressed, grant unto us that, in all trouble of this our mortal life, we may flee to the knowledge of Thy loving kindness and tender mercy; that so, sheltering ourselves therein, the storms of life may pass over us, and not shake the peace of God that is within us. Whatsoever this life may bring us, grant that it may never take from us the full faith that Thou art our Father. Grant us Thy light, that we may have life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-George Dawson

 

Prayer for Protection of Girls

We are gathered together to affirm the humanity of the girl child. We celebrate the fact that the girl child was created in the image of God and is loved by God. We claim responsibility to protect the girl child and give her the opportunity to grow without fear of being abused by anyone. We pray for a safe environment that is created by all for the safety of the girl child. Amen.

via: Churchworldservice.org and and are adapted from Dube, M., Africa Praying: A Handbook on HIV/AIDS

 

Rainbow Over Hope Road

And for just that instant

when from Hope Road

jrichards

 

we watched the rainbow cut

across the robust body

 

of the Blue Mountains

the way the sun seemed

 

filtered and the light clean

as peace; when the gleam

 

of quick color bounced

giddily off of the cars;

 

in that instant we breathed;

and I was glad we could

 

share this together-

this fleeting lasting thing.

via: Livehopelove.com

 

Prayers for Healing

Let us pray for the needs of all those living with HIV/AIDS (especially ____________), that God’s never-failing love may enfold them; that all who care for them may be strengthened in that ministry; and that the church may be to them a place of refuge where Christ is made known.

Let us pray for recovery from sickness, that God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of the suffering, may mercifully hear our prayers and grant to ______________ healing power, that in Christ their sickness may be turned to health and our sorrow to joy.

Let us pray for those who serve in the professions of healing, that God may guide physicians and nurses and all those called to practice the arts of healing. Strengthen them by your spirit so that the health of all people may be promoted and Christ glorified.

Let us pray for the ministry of family and friends. Give strength and gentleness, patience and faithfulness to family members and friends. Let their love be in you, and by their ministry of love let your love be made known.

Let us pray for all those who depend upon our prayers. Blessed Lord, we ask your loving care and protection for those who are sick in body, mind, or spirit and who desire our prayers. Take from them all fears and help them put their trust in you, that they may feel your strong arms around them.

 

Prayer for Those in Need

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

From the end of the earth will I call unto Thee, when my heart fainteth; lead me to a rock that is too high for me.

For Thou hast been a refuge for me, a tower of strength in the face of the enemy.

I will dwell in Thy Tent for ever; I will take refuge in the covert of Thy wings. Selah

-Psalms 61: 2-5, Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society, 1917)

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Emergence International 2013.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving from Emergence International 2013.

 

We are on the right side of history and love is ever with us.

 

 

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Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost’s signature lineup of contributors

HOT ON THE BLOG

Christian Fuscarino

Founder and Operations Director, The Pride Network

Posted November 26, 2013 | 4:08 PM

 

As we gather around the table for a Thanksgiving dinner or volunteer at a local community center, let’s all take a second to be thankful for the victories that our community has seen recently. I stopped the list at 10, but I know there are plenty of reasons, and I’d love to hear them. Share why you’re thankful this Thanksgiving in the comments below.

 

10. President Obama awarding Bayard Rustin and Sally Ride with the Presidential Medal of Freedom: Tam O’Shaughnessy and Walter Naegle accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom on behalf of their deceased same-sex partners.

9. The U.S. Senate voting to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for the first time in the legislation’s two-decade history: The final vote was 64-32, with 10 Republicans standing on the right side of history.

8. The National Organization for Marriage (an anti-gay-marriage group) ending the year with a $2 million deficit: Maybe they’ll get the message that it’s time to stop.

7. This “Ask Amy” column where Amy Dickinson gives a homophobic parent the best advice regarding a gay son: Get your tissues.

6. Fifty-four openly gay political candidates winning their elections: Fifty-four of the 85 candidates that the Victory Fund endorsed in 2013 won their respective elections.

5. The Social Security Administration modernizing its gender-change policy for trans people: It’s about time!

4. Celebrities and athletes coming out of the closet and being positive LGBT role models: Wentworth Miller, Raven-Symoné, Robbie Rogers, Jason Collins, Ben Whishaw and Darren Young, just to name a few…

3. The Supreme Court striking down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): It was a provision that President Obama had previously declared unconstitutional and refused to defend.

2. Having a strong LGBT presence at the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington: Out LGBT speakers such as Sharon Lettman-Hicks from the National Black Justice Coalition; Eliza Byard from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN); Donna Payne from the Human Rights Campaign; Alan van Capelle from Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice; and many more advocated for LGBT equality on stage. They were also joined by dozens of straight allies.

1. Marriage equality victories this past year: Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Illinois!

Share in the comments below why you’re happy this Thanksgiving!

All images in this blog post are either used with permission or under creative commons, free to copy, distribute and transmit.

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