Marriage Equality: Overview and CA Prop. 8

July 16, 2008

Marriage Equality: Overview and California Proposition 8
Freedom, Fairness and Equal Treatment under the Law

The historic struggle for marriage equality is a struggle for freedom, fairness and equality for all. It is a fight for the most basic of American values: equal treatment under the law.

The most central American value is freedom. It is the principle upon which our nation was founded. It is what we pledge our allegiance to: “… with freedom and justice for all.” Fundamental freedoms like the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the freedom to marry are at the heart of who we are as Americans. While many things divide us; this principle is what binds us together as a great nation.

Those who support the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples understand this. Regardless of their own personal views on gay and lesbian couples, regardless of whether they personally wish to marry; they understand that the freedom to marry is basic. No group of tax-paying, law-abiding Americans should be singled out and denied freedom or equal treatment under the law.

Those who oppose marriage equality seek to single out and exclude long-term, loving, committed gay and lesbian couples from the freedom granted to all Americans: the freedom to marry. In state after state they work to write exclusionary language into the state constitutions that denies the basic freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples.

Even in California.

Gay and lesbian marriages began June 17th, 2008 in California. It was an emotional and moving day for all Californians that believe in love and commitment. A day some couples had waited 25, 30 and even 50 years for. But the struggle for freedom did not end on that note.

On June 2, 2008 the California Secretary of State certified Proposition 8 for the November 2008 ballot. A yes vote on Proposition 8 would amend the California constitution to excluding lesbian and gay couple from the fundamental freedom to marry and to only recognize marriages “between a man and a woman.”

Those who oppose equal treatment under the law are determined, will go to any lengths and have promised to spend millions to deny gay & lesbian couples the fundamental freedom to marry and deny those couples equality.

Some call the battle for equality in California the “civil rights battle of our lifetimes.” Other writers remind us that the nation is watching. Civil rights and equal treatment for all Americans is what is at stake.

Make sure your answer to the question from our youth, the question that will undoubtedly be asked: “Where were you when that fight was going on?” is a resounding “I was there. I was there fighting for freedom for all Americans.”

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Feeding the Fears of their Faithful

July 9, 2008

By Delores Jacobs, Ph.D., CEO The Center Advocacy Project

In their on-going, desperate efforts to exclude gay and lesbian couples from the fundamental freedoms promised to all Americans under our constitution, the extremists resort to the sad tactics we have all seen before. Tactics designed to manipulate their own faithful congregations!

Their basic strategy is to feed the fears of their faithful.

What is to be feared, according to them? They say (with an entirely straight face) if gays and lesbians are allowed to marry, it is only a matter of time before pastors will be arrested in their pulpits and all Christians will be forced to give up their religious beliefs. Sound contrived and alarmist? It is.

But it is a message they continue to repeat over and over, pull up obscure cases from Spain and Canada, and take decisions about the improper use of government money out of context. Apparently, they never met a fact that couldn’t be made up or misrepresented.

Read below from their own http://www.protectmarriage.com website. First they tell their readers that, in fact, the constitutional decision that granted gays and lesbians the right to marry DOES PROTECT THEIR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

“On page 117 of the California Supreme Court ruling, it exempts pastors, stating the following: “Finally, affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4.);”

Wow, they can all relax a bit! It is possible, as the US Constitution and its framers saw decades ago, to guarantee us all freedoms: freedom to marry and freedom of religion. But, instead of preaching hope, optimism, faith, belief in justice, and celebrating a great nation, they go on with the following:

However, before you breathe a sigh of relief … the freedom to proclaim the Gospel hinges on the outcome of this election.

Instead of celebrating the protection of their freedoms, they tell their faithful that they are more vulnerable, they are going to be arrested for believing, and the very freedom to believe itself is in danger!!!

Unbelievable? It shouldn’t be. These are the tactics we have seen time and again throughout this country and in this battle. The only difference is that this time, long-term, committed gay and lesbian couples are the alleged hidden, explosive, world-altering danger. And , according to their spinners, the only apparent remedy or safety lies in excluding loving, committed couples from the fundamental freedoms granted to us as Americans.

Defeat the fear-tactics. Say NO to the deceptive, divisive, hate-filled rhetoric. Support the faith leaders who stand up and denounce these tactics. Vote NO on the Marriage Ban November 4th.


A Message from Dr. Delores Jacobs

June 13, 2008

On May 15, 2008 millions of same-sex California couples held hands as they held their breath. Held their breath and hoped. Hoped that a lifetime of love and commitment, paying their taxes and showing up to help would matter.

They waited to hear whether the California Supreme Court would rule for fairness, would rule to honor their love, commitment and families, and would finally offer them the same opportunities for realizing their hopes and dreams that all other Californians enjoy.

They dared to hope that it would matter. And finally, it did. Fairness won.

And no words could ever describe the moment those families realized they had won the right to be treated equally. Screams of joy and laughter for some, just quiet tears for others who have waited and worked a lifetime. The Court did its job that day – to ensure that all Californians are treated fairly and equally under the law. And it made history.

Take a moment today to be grateful. Be grateful for every organization that ever took up this fight, for every volunteer who fought the good fight, for every elected official who took the risk to stand with us, for every dollar that anyone gave to keep the struggle alive, for every family member and friend who believed that love could win over hate and fear, and for an America where fairness and equal treatment under the law can still win the day.

Yours in victory, Delores


Key Points in the Supreme Court Marriage Equality Ruling

May 22, 2008

The historic May 15th 2008 California Supreme Court ruling that upheld the rights of all Californians to marry had several very interesting key points:

“[R]etaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite-sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise — now emphatically rejected by this state — that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects ‘second-class citizens’ who may, under the law, be treated differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex couples.”

“There can be no question but that, in recent decades, there has been a fundamental and dramatic transformation in this state’s understanding and legal treatment of gay individuals and gay couples,”

“California has repudiated past practices and policies that were based on a once common viewpoint that denigrated the general character and morals of gay individuals, and at one time even characterized homosexuality as a mental illness rather than as simply one of the numerous variables of our common and diverse humanity. This state’s current policies and conduct regarding homosexuality recognize that gay individuals are entitled to the same legal rights and the same respect and dignity afforded all other individuals and are protected from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, and, more specifically, recognize that gay individuals are fully capable of entering into the kind of loving and enduring committed relationships that may serve as the foundation of a family and of responsibly caring for and raising children.”

– Chief Justice George of the California State Supreme Court, May 15, 2008


Fairness Wins!

May 20, 2008

5/16/08: Hundreds of energized supporters gathered at the San Diego LGBT Community Center for a Celebration of Love and Equality


Military Continues Recruiting Serious Ex-Felons While Discharging Qualified Gay Service Members

April 21, 2008

An Update from the Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network – April 21, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today released data showing a dramatic rise in the number of moral waivers issued to recruits joining the Army and Marine Corps. The number of waivers granted to recruits convicted of manslaughter, rape, kidnapping and making terrorist threats, doubled between 2006 and 2007. During that same time, the Pentagon continued discharging service members under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel from serving openly in the military. Pentagon officials released the data following a request for the information from Committee Chairman, Congressman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA).

“This data shines a bright light on the outrageousness and absurdity of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “On the one hand, the Pentagon is discharging highly-qualified, honest, law-abiding men and women because they are gay, while on the other hand granting waivers to rapists, killers, kidnappers and terrorists. Granting waivers for child molesters and rapists to serve while discharging lesbians and gays is utter madness. Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will reduce the need to grant felony waivers.”

In 2006 the Pentagon discharged approximately 700 service members under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” According to the Department of Defense data, in 2007 the Army granted 511 felony waivers, including: three soldiers convicted of manslaughter, one soldier convicted of kidnapping or abduction, seven soldiers convicted of rape, sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, incest or other sex crimes, three soldiers convicted of indecent acts or liberties with a child, and three soldiers convicted of terrorist threats including bomb threats. Moral waivers are granted to personnel who do not otherwise qualify for military service due to a criminal background.

“Keeping ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ on the books hardly helps the military’s personnel crisis. In fact, if Congress got rid of the law there would a need for fewer waivers,” Sarvis said. “It is in our national security interests to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

To see the Department of Defense data on felony waivers, visit oversight.house.gov and for more information on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and Congressional legislation to repeal the law, visit www.sldn.org.