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Marriage Equality gets a beating

I’m sitting now watching the web cast of the New York State Court of Appeals hearing on cases regarding marriage equality for same-sex couples. The hearings occured earlier today.

I’ve only watched so far as to see two of the attorneys arguing for marriage equality. In what I have seen, marriage equality has gotten a beating. Question after question from the panel of judges consistently butted against the arguments being made by the attorneys. One even started to ask about polygamy and bigamy, almost going to the point of insinuating that marriage equality for same-sex couples would open the door to marriage equality for bigamous couples.

One judge asked why a state-wide civil union arrangement would not work. The attorneys responded by saying that, of course, many of the equal protection issues would be resolved by offering civil unions, only if those benefits and privileges were exactly the same as those offered by civil marriage. The attorneys were quick to add that civil unions would not work because it creates a sense of second-class citizenship placing LGBT couples and citizens in a different class or state of being (aka, “separate but equal” – which doesn’t work, remember?). The attorneys were also quick to say that the simple word “marriage” carries with it a certain weight and honor. There is a distinct difference in society between couples being married or simply living together or being commited to one another.

A couple of judges also kept asking why the New York state legislature is not dealing with this issue instead of the court. Although the attorneys tried to answer these questions the judges would hardly give them the chance to do so, cutting their answers off only to supply them with another question.

The answer as to why the state legislature cannot deal with this issue is simple. The legislatures of almost all of our states have consistently shown bias and prejudice against same-sex couples and LGBT citizens. From failures to enact laws protecting LGBT persons from employment, housing and health-care discrimination to enacting laws (and sometimes state constitutional amendments) prohibiting marriage equality, it is clear that state legislatures are not willing to fairly deal with the issues of equality and justice for all American citizens.

The issues are often clouded in the state and federal legislatures. Many legislators and elected representatives often mix religious or faith issues into arguments based simply on civil issues. The civil institution of marriage, as regulated by the government, should not be held hostage to the religious or spiritual beliefs upheld by a certain faith group or institution.

I would go as far to say that by prohibiting marriage for same-sex couples, the government not only denies equal protection and due process for all of its citizens (as being argued by the attorneys in New York), but that it also denies freedom of religion and its free practice. While many faith groups and institutions do look unfavorably on marriages for same-sex couples, there are many other faith groups and institutions which would allow and bless same-sex couples wishing to be married, if only the government recognized that right.

By excluding same-sex couples from marriage, the government is taking sides with those religious and faith groups who hold the same views. As we all know, the government should not be using religious philosophy or religious beliefs to dictate public policy. The policy of government should be based solely on civil matters. When legislators and elected representatives rely upon arguments such as “God ordained marriage as between man and woman,” government is undeniably taking a certain religious ideology to define law. By taking out all religious arguments, it is clear to see that no other valid legal or scientific argument exists to deny marriage to same-sex couples.

If a religious or faith group doesn’t want to perform a civil marriage for a same-sex couple, then they shouldn’t be forced into doing so. If another religious or faith group was willing to perform such a ceremony, however, it shouldn’t be denied, as it is under current law.
Allowing same-sex couples to marry would provide these families with the same benefits and privileges to allow them to take adequate care of their partners and children in the same way straight couples can. Allowing same-sex couples to marry provides the full equal protection guaranteed by the federal Constitution and state constitutions.

Everyone knows that marriage equality for same-sex couples is inevitable, although the wait is sometimes unbearable for LGBT individuals and especially for those same-sex couples already waiting for the right. We all know that the anti-LGBT marriage amendment in the US Senate will fail next week. A similar state amendment is expected (or at least I hope it is expected) to fail in the North Carolina legislature.

Time will bring change. I only wish time moved more quickly.

The Catawba Valley LGBT Community Center in Hickory, NC, (http://www.gayhickory.com) has drawn the ire of the Reverend Fred Phelps of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church and www.godhatesfags.com in Topeka, Kansas.

According to an community update from the Catawba Valley Center, Rev Fred Phelps has sent them a letter in regard to their outspoken support of ending religious-based prejudice and discrimination.

According to the email:

In the midst of a very positive campaign thus far, this week the Catawba Valley LGBT Community Center received an email from the Rev. Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS. Rev. Phelps is known around the country for his anti-gay hate messages and in particular his famous “GOD HATES FAGS” campaign. The email condemned the Center for taking a public stand against religion-based bigotry. Rev. Phelps has promised to boycott the opening of the Center and says his group is keeping a close eye on the happenings here in the Catawba Valley. Further details will be released via our website and this media list as they are appropriate to release.

I can only imagine what it is like to receive one of those letters. Although… his letters and threats are almost useless now since he fails to show up to many of the places he has “promised” to protest. I wonder whatever happened to being honest and telling the truth, Rev Phelps? If you say you are going to protest someone, don’t fail to show up on the day you promised to be there. God says lying is a sin, you know?

I’ve never received a letter from those wackos but… who knows what the future holds.

The Catawba Valley Center urges its supporters to visit its site and speak out on religious-based prejudice and discrimination. At their site you can write a letter to the editor of those newspapers participating in Faith in America’s ad campaign against religion-based bigotry. Click here for more info.

The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) published an article yesterday on the race for the 13th District. The Democratic incumbent Brad Miller is facing the infamously anti-everything Republican Vernon Robinson.

Only days ago, I put up a post directing my readers to another blogger’s investigation of illegal cash donations to the Robinson campaign. Because of that blogger’s work, the Federal Elections Commission may start looking in to some of Robinson’s campaign dealings.

The News & Observer article points out what is going to be the obvious downside to the 2006 race for the 13th District. Robinson is intent on mudslinging his opponent, despite his claims to be “sticking to the issues.”

CLICK TO ENLARGEThe article talks about a Robinson mailing I blogged on a while ago (pictured right, click to enlarge). In it, Robinson all but says Miller is gay, by saying things such as “Brad Miller’s San Francisco Soulmate” added on to the statement that Miller is a “childless, middle-aged personal trial lawyer.” Robinson says that Miller’s “soulmate” is a militant, San Francisco homosexual, ignoring the fact that the man is married and has children.

Brad Miller plans to stick to “bread-and-butter issues” while Robinson is out spouting off personal attacks with no basis. At least we might see a good campaign from one side. Don’t bet on Robinson “playing nice” though; his history of negative campaigning, mudslinging and lies go back for years. In his 2004 bid for the 5th District, he called opponent Ed Broyhill a “limp-wristed millionaire.”

Gay-baiting is obviously Robinson’s best tactic, but it sure doesn’t seem to be winning him any races. In the past he has lost two bids for State Superintendant of Schools, a bid for Congress, the chairmanship of the NC Republican Party and in the last City of Winston-Salem elections he lost his City Council seat held for eight years.

Robinson seems to be trying another tactic this time though: He is insinuating Miller is a racist, sort of. In another mailer, Robinson lies to the public by saying that Miller lives in a census district without even one African-American resident. According to the N&O article:

Besides trying to attract white conservatives, Robinson hopes to siphon off 15 percent of the black vote. His campaign has sent separate mailings and left recorded telephone messages in the homes of black voters. The telephone message criticizes Miller for, among other things, living in an all-white neighborhood in the Five Points section of Raleigh.

“Brad Miller does not represent our values, because he doesn’t know anything about us,” says the announcer in the telephone recording. “According to the Census Bureau, he lives in a census district with 3,000 people. Not one of them is an African-American, not a single one.” (The 2000 Census says six African-Americans live in the area.)

Although six is a pretty small number when compared to 3000, how does Robinson do the math? 6=0… I’m confused. Six does not equal “not a single one.” And another question, where does the location of one’s home have anything to do with knowing about his or her constituency? Robinson should be able to answer that one… he doesn’t even live in the district he is seeking to win (Robinson lives in Winston-Salem, in the 5th District – which he lost in 2004).

Vernon Robinson represents the kind of politics we don’t need in our government. We don’t need people who play on other people’s fears. We don’t need people who lie about the personal lives of their opponents. We don’t need people who take the personal lives of their opponent’s wife into the public square (Miller’s wife is now being asked by the media to explain publicly why the couple is childless).

As a citizen who cares deeply about the government and as a person who feels as though Robinson is nothing more than a media-whore looking for attention on his zealot-like “issue” stances, I urge you to vote for Brad Miller in November.

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My 1000th post – Cool

Yesterday I reached my 1000th post here on my blog. This post marks 1001.

Yesterday’s post number 1000 dealt with Pride Charlotte. The funny thing is, I didn’t even notice is was post number 1000 until today… oh well.

That is kind of awesome though. 1000 posts and still going. :)

My one year blogging anniversary comes up in July… I can’t wait for that one.

After all the controversy surrounding the cancellation of Charlotte’s LGBT pride festival, the harsh, religiously-motivated prejudice and spiritual violence spouted off from Operation Save America and the eventual announcement that Charlotte would, after all, have a LGBT pride festival, things have finally started to cool off.

I haven’t heard much from Operation Save America (take a look at their most recent, sickening expliots along with the PDF poster) regarding Pride Charlotte here lately, but their claims to have pushed homosexuals “back into the closet and the grave” have been severely proven false.
I found this article via the Pride Charlotte website. It was published five days ago in the Charlotte Observer and is an op-ed from the executive director of the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Community Center.
Enjoy. (original source: The Charlotte Observer)

Why Pride Charlotte endures
by Laura Witkowski
May 25, 2006
For the Record, The Charlotte Observer

From Laura Witkowski, executive director of Charlotte’s Lesbian & Gay Community Center:

A few weeks ago, I was a guest on Keith Larson’s radio show on WBT after The Lesbian & Gay Community Center announced that we would be having a Pride celebration in Charlotte after all. I say after all, because shortly before our announcement, Operation Save America had held a press conference saying Pride had been “pushed into the closet” and claimed “victory” over the festival.

That is not the case. Pride Charlotte, a task force under the umbrella of The Lesbian & Gay Community Center, is excitedly and feverishly working on the festival, which will take place at Gateway Village on Saturday, Aug. 26.

The main question Mr. Larson asked me in one form or another was, “Why Pride?” From his perspective, it looks like one big party — a chance for the LGBT community to have a great time together based strictly on sexual orientation. What, essentially, is the point?

Although sexual orientation is what brings us together, Pride is a chance to find a sense of unity and acceptance in a society where LGBT individuals still do not have access to the same rights as heterosexuals. Pride is a chance for LGBT people and allies to come together and celebrate the diversity of our community.

For many, Pride is one of the few times a year they feel safe and comfortable — one of their only chances to truly be themselves. It is important to remember that regardless of the popularity of “Brokeback Mountain,” “Will & Grace” and “The Ellen Show,” LGBT individuals still run the risk of getting fired on the basis of our sexuality, are denied health care benefits for our partners because we cannot legally marry, and get no support from a Social Security system that we pay into should our life partner (who we cannot legally marry) pass away.

Despite opposition to the festival in the past, Pride Charlotte is too important and valuable to the community to just cave into the pressure and hassle of those who vocally oppose equal rights and acceptance for all Americans.

Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in this part of the country, and that growth means many younger professional people who are looking for a place they see as inclusive and accepting of all its community members. Richard Florida, author of “Rise Of The Creative Class,” points out that people in this younger, hipper, professional group actively look at how LGBT folks are treated in cities they are considering relocating to and businesses they are looking at working for — even if they’re not gay themselves.

Charlotte is a business-driven city with an enormous potential for economic growth. Shutting out events like Pride and perpetuating spiritual violence on Charlotte’s LGBT community isn’t just mean-spirited and wrong; it’s bad for the city.

I am proud to be a Charlotte transplant — and I hope that in its own way, Pride Charlotte can bring that kind of pride into the lives of those who attend the festival to celebrate the best kind of freedom of all: freedom to live as you are.

For The Record offers commentaries from various sources. The views are the writer’s, and not necessarily those of the Observer editorial board. For information about Pride Charlotte or the center, go to www.PrideCharlotte.com or www.GayCharlotte.com.

Pride Charlotte will be held August 26, 2006 at Gateway Village in Charlotte.

North Carolina Advocacy CoalitionWe finally got it! Our permanent domain name for the North Carolina Advocacy Coalition is now up and running. You can check out the new political action committee’s website at www.ncadvocacycoalition.org.

The domain name was given to us as an in-kind donation from our supporter and friend Joshua Henson. Mr. Henson has been made NCAC’s first “Partner in Equality,” which are individuals or groups contributing toward our group’s initial organizational funds. To find out more about how you can become one of NCAC’s “Partners in Equality” visit our Donors & Supporters page at our website.

You can also keep up to date on the latest news at our website and the NCAC blogs (www.ncadvocacycoalition.org/blog). Don’t forget to register an account on the NCAC website in order to receive our email newsletter!

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Anti-LGBT amendment now in NC House

According to an action alert from EqualityNC, 56 Representatives in the North Carolina House of Representatives submitted their version of an anti-LGBT marriage amendment.

The first action was taken on the first day of the 2006 “short session” in the North Carolina Senate, where Senator James Forrester (R-41) and 18 other Republicans submitted Senate Bill 1228. The House version, House Bill 2438, was filed on May 24, 2006.

This from EqualityNC:

On the first day of the 2006 session, Sen. James Forrester and 18 other Republican members of the Senate introduced Senate Bill 1228, which would amend the state constitution to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Later, 56 Representatives filed a similar bill, House Bill 2438.

Far right legislators are pushing to pass an anti-LGBT, anti-marriage state constitutional amendment in the next two months. Equality NC and our allies prevented this amendment from passing in 2004 and 2005, but we have to fight hard to stop it again this year.

If passed, the amendment would not only elevate the discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution, it would prohibit any recognition of same-sex partners in North Carolina. In fact, the language of the amendment is so broad it could prevent private companies from offering domestic partner health benefits.

In order to become law, the amendment must pass both houses of the legislature with a 3/5 majority and be approved by a simple majority of voters on the November 2006 ballot.

I urge you to take action on this horribly misguided attempt to “protect marriage.” This so-called amendment to “protect marriage” would in reality leave open the possibility of hurting many more families than just LGBT couples and their children. The language of the amendment is so broad that even domestic partner benefits from private businesses given to unmarried straight and gay couples alike could be prohibited.

Visit the EqualityNC website to learn more and to take action!

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NC HIV Advocacy Day

May 30, 2006 9am – 3pm

Location: NC General Assembly Building in Raleigh

For more information and to register to go, please visit: http://eqfed.org/equalitync/ncaan.html

NC HIV Advocacy Day is a joint project of the NC AIDS Action Network and EqualityNC. Help these groups lobby our state legislators to provide more funding, resources and support for those affected by HIV/AIDS.

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A Learning Moment

There is a heart-felt comment I left over at Chip Atkinson’s blog. Including an apology for the harsh way I have treated Chip in recent days, especially in what some could definitely see as some harsh comments (in my opinion, from both sides of the debate) on my post regarding the anti-gay decision of the NC Baptist Convention.

Chip hasn’t responded yet, but I hope that we can, in the our local area’s spirit of “reconciliation” come to a place where we can both stop focusing on what the things upon which we disagree and start focusing on the things we have in common.

You can check out the post and comments on Chip’s blog.

The recent squables between Chip and I regarding the Convention’s decision has become sort of a learning moment for me. Although my main argument in my post was concerning the Baptist principle of church autonomy (and how I thought the Convention had abandoned that principle), the debate quickly turned sour in the comments section. Through this mess, I’m slowly learning how to be more focused on my arguments and that I shouldn’t let my passion over ride my logic and cool.

As for blogging for the rest of the day… I’ll be taking a break: Partly in observance of Memorial Day, partly due to family functions and partly due to I just need a break from controversy and debate.

I’ll talk to you all Tuesday.

When I started blogging I swore up and down that I would only post on serious issues and speak out on important topics. I told myself that I would never let my blog be like one of those stupid and lame MySpace or LiveJournal blogs where people ramble on and on about when they got out of bed, how they got ready for the day, what they ate or who they hung out with.

Like, who really wants to hear about your day and blah, blah, blah. Unless I’m good friends with a person and they are telling an interesting story or something, I can’t stand to read those lame blogs. They just seem like a waste of time to me.

But, I’m bored and I can’t seem to find much on which to spout off my thoughts and opinions today.

So here is your random, lame, non-gay, Sunday post inspired by a mix of boredom, nicotene and too much coffee.

I’m sitting here listening to my music on the laptop…

Here’s my fav’s (at least my fav’s for right now, as listed in my playlist, lol):

  • “Miss New Booty” Bubba Sparxxx
  • “Everytime we touch” Cascada
  • “SOS” Rihanna
  • “Bad Boy” Cascada
  • “Promiscuous Girl” Nelly Furtado
  • “Cliche” (remix) Simone Denny (theme song on Capital Pride 2006 website)

Anybody have any current fav’s… I know my good friend, colleague and blog reader Samantha is totally in love with the Dixie Chicks right now, lol (Samantha’s 100th post was actually on this subject, too) :)

Oh… and while I’m here, let me add: I absolutely hate weekends. Besides the fact that my site hits go from an average of 300-400 in a business week down to like 100-150 (if not less), weekends are boring unless you’ve got something great to do (wish requires cash). Here lately, I just haven’t been able to find anything cool to do (made worse by the fact that my good high school, Winston-Salem buddies are either in Boone, Charleston or elsewhere for that matter).