They're using un-credible, specious arguments to block the posting of testimony on YouTube. From the NY Times: (also see Today's Brown vs. Board of Education: Perry vs. Schwarzenegger):
The Supreme Court indicated Monday that it might soon have something significant to say about whether and when video coverage of federal trials is appropriate.
Shortly before a federal trial over same-sex marriage began in San Francisco, the court temporarily blocked a judge’s plan to broadcast the trial on the Internet. Saying they needed more time to consider the issues, the justices said their order would remain in effect until Wednesday at 4 p.m. Eastern time.
The Supreme Court does not allow video coverage of arguments in its courtroom, and cameras are routinely banned from most federal courtrooms. In an experiment begun last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which includes the Federal District Court in San Francisco, agreed to allow federal judges to permit cameras in civil cases.
The trial judge in the San Francisco case, Judge Vaughn R. Walker, had intended to allow streaming video to several federal courthouses around the nation and had planned to post it after the end of each day’s proceedings on YouTube. The Supreme Court order allowed only “streaming to other rooms” within the San Francisco courthouse, where an overflow crowd of journalists and spectators attended the trial’s opening on Monday ...
In papers filed Saturday in the Supreme Court, Charles J. Cooper, a lawyer representing opponents of same-sex marriage, argued that a stay was needed to prevent “harassment, economic reprisal, threat and even physical violence” against witnesses prepared to testify in favor of Proposition 8. Some witnesses said they would withdraw if the trial was broadcast, the brief said.
“Whether to broadcast trial court proceedings, especially in controversial, high-profile cases such as this,” Mr. Cooper said in urging the Supreme Court to intercede, “is an issue of surpassing national importance.”
In a response filed Sunday, Theodore B. Olson, representing proponents of same-sex marriage, said the case would affect hundreds of thousands of gay men and lesbians in California and thus warranted broadcast coverage.
“Concerns about the possibility of compromised safety, witness intimidation or harassment of trial participants,” Mr. Olson added, “are utterly unsubstantiated and groundless speculation.”
All of the witnesses said to fear harassment were paid experts named after Judge Walker first noted the possibility of broadcast coverage, Mr. Olson wrote, adding that the views of these experts were already well known.
A coalition of news organizations also urged the Supreme Court not to grant a stay. Its brief noted that the case did not involve criminal fair-trial rights and would not be heard by a jury.
“Any witnesses will be testifying in open public court at the trial, with heavy accompanying publicity in the print and electronic media,” Thomas R. Burke wrote for the news organizations. “If the purported harms identified by petitioners exist at all, they will flow from the witnesses’ mere participation in the trial.”
Opening statements were expected Monday in Federal District Court in San Francisco, in a case that is being anxiously watched by gay rights groups and supporters of traditional marriage nationwide.
“It’s not just a trial of gay marriage,” said Maggie Gallagher, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, a backer of Proposition 8 and other measures to forbid same-sex marriage nationwide. “It’s a trial of the majority of the American people.”
The case comes at a time when gay groups have suffered several setbacks, including the defeat of same-sex marriage legislation in New York and New Jersey and a vote last fall that overturned such unions in Maine. Efforts to overturn Proposition 8 with another ballot measure in California also face uncertain prospects, with most major groups having decided to wait until at least 2012 to go back to the voters.
All of which has heightened expectations for the Boies and Olson case, filed in the spring after the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote after a bruising and costly campaign.
Groups advocating equal rights for gay people were planning to rally in front of the courthouse here on Monday morning, and officials were expecting large crowds in the courtroom and in a separate viewing room. Live video and audio were to be piped into federal courthouses in California, New York, Oregon and Washington.
In addition, under a decision last week by Judge Vaughn R. Walker, the district court’s chief judge, who is hearing the case, the trial was to be videotaped and distributed online. Supporters of Proposition 8 have objected to that, and they appealed to the United States Supreme Court on Saturday to keep cameras out of the courtroom.
“The record is already replete with evidence showing that any publicizing of support for Prop. 8 has inevitably led to harassment, economic reprisal, threats and even physical violence,” Charles J. Cooper, the lead counsel for the defense, wrote in a brief to the court. “In this atmosphere, witnesses are understandably quite distressed at the prospect of their testimony being broadcast worldwide.”
Indeed, several of the figures who helped pass Proposition 8 are expected to be called to testify under oath, something that gay rights advocates hope will play in their favor.
“It has the potential to be an extraordinarily powerful teaching moment because it’s going to be televised,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, senior counsel and national marriage project director with the gay civil rights group Lambda Legal in Los Angeles. “This is usually just bandied about on attack TV shows. But this promises to be a serious examination of the arguments in a trial setting, with evidence and cross-examination.”
During the trial, which is expected to last three weeks, Mr. Olson and Mr. Boies plan to argue that Proposition 8 violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and due process.
Before we get to the near term loss, here's another bit of evidence that in the long term, marriage equality, and equal civil rights for gays in general, is going to win out: the first ever gay sex scene on daytime TV, posted about by Emma Ruby-Sachs (and check out the favorable reaction on this soap opera forum):
ABC is not the most gay friendly station, but they have taken a big step forward: airing a sex scene between two male characters on the soap opera “One Life to Live.” The scene, romantic and adorable, is a pretty amazing break though.
But what I found really incredible is that one of the male actors is out of closet in real life. This means that “One Life to Live” actually showed a gay actor having gay sex on television. As many out actors can tell you, it’s one thing to play a homosexual and another to actually be a homosexual. How incredible that Scott Evans (Oliver) gets to do both.
So, for 2010 I have lots of wishes, many of them have nothing to do with television. But one is that I hope more LGBT media personalities see their sexuality celebrated instead of having it impede their professional progress.
Here's the NY Times report of the defeat of the marriage equality bill in the New Jersey Senate:
The State Senate on Thursday rejected a proposal that would have made New Jersey the sixth state in the nation to allow marriages involving same-sex couples. The vote was the latest in a succession of setbacks for advocates of gay marriage across the country.
After months of intense lobbying and hours of emotional debate, lawmakers voted 20 to 14 against the bill, bringing tears from some advocates who packed the Senate chambers and rousing applause from opponents of the measure, who also came out in force. The vote ends the effort to win legislative approval of the measure, and sets the stage for a new battle before the New Jersey Supreme Court.
“We applaud the senators for upholding a time-tested institution: marriage,” said Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, which has argued that gay marriage would weaken the social fabric by redefining one of society’s bedrock institutions.
Supporters of gay marriage had hoped to win approval for the measure before Jan. 19, when Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who promised to sign it, will be replaced by Gov.-electChristopher J. Christie, who opposes it.
With the effort to win legislative approval now dead, supporters of same-sex marriagevowed to focus their efforts on the state’s highest court, which in 2006 ordered lawmakers to give same-sex couples the same rights as others whether or not they called such unions marriages. The Legislature responded by enacting a civil unions law, but gay-rights leaders say that the measure still leaves them subject to discrimination when applying for health insurance or trying to visit partners in hospitals, and that they will ask the court to grant them equal treatment ...
The defeat in New Jersey, which has widely been viewed as one of the nation’s most socially tolerant states, was a significant setback for advocates of gay marriage. Last month, a similar measure was defeated in New York’s Legislature, and in November voters in Maine repealed a gay-marriage law in a referendum.
But leaders of Lambda Legal Defense Fund, which has helped coordinate gay rights causes in New Jersey and elsewhere, said they said they were confident that the court would prove more receptive than the Legislature.
The Obama administration has inserted language into the federal jobs Web site explicitly banning employment discrimination based on gender identity.
The protection is expected to apply to the small transgender population — people who identify their gender differently from the information on their birth certificates — and it merely formalizes what had been increasingly unchallenged government practice over several years.
But civil liberties and gender rights groups welcomed it on Tuesday as the clearest statement yet by the Obama administration that such discrimination in the federal workplace would not be accepted.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said, “The largest employer in the country is doing what all the other large employers in the country are doing, so that’s really great news.”
But the new standard brought instant criticism from cultural conservatives.
“We at the Family Research Council oppose including gender identity as a category of protection,” said Peter S. Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies.
Mr. Sprigg said his group believed that what it calls “gender identity disorder” should be “treated with therapy to help people be comfortable with their biological sex rather than affirming and celebrating and protecting those who want to deny their biological sex.”
When the administration foreshadowed the change back in June, it was thought the guidelines would be in an updated federal handbook for managers and supervisors. Their inclusion instead in the equal-employment opportunity notices on www.usajobs.gov, the federal jobs site, was viewed as even more significant.
“This is frankly a bigger deal,” said Christopher E. Anders, senior legislative counsel for the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The first NY Times article sets the appalling scene:
“We walk on the streets knowing that at any moment someone could be knowing you and there could be mob justice,” said Stosh Mugisha, a woman who is going through a transition to become a man. “You feel embarrassed by someone touching you. People provoke us. But I just play it cool. Keep a low profile. It is terrible.” ...
Anti-gay sentiments are one thing, and hardly unique to Uganda. But what seems different here is the level of official, government-sponsored anti-gay hate speech.
“I detest gays in my heart,” said Kassiano E. Wadri, a member of Parliament and the chief whip of the opposition. “When I see a gay, I think that person needs psychotherapy. You need to break him.”
Then the second article describes the American evangelical role in Uganda's state sponsored oppression:
Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.
The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.
One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.
Donor countries, including the United States, are demanding that Uganda’s government drop the proposed law, saying it violates human rights, though Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity (who previously tried to ban miniskirts) recently said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”
The Ugandan government, facing the prospect of losing millions in foreign aid, is now indicating that it will back down, slightly, and change the death penalty provision to life in prison for some homosexuals. But the battle is far from over.
Instead, Uganda seems to have become a far-flung front line in the American culture wars, with American groups on both sides, the Christian right and gay activists, pouring in support and money as they get involved in the broader debate over homosexuality in Africa.
“It’s a fight for their lives,” said Mai Kiang, a director at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a New York-based group that has channeled nearly $75,000 to Ugandan gay rights activists and expects that amount to grow.
The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.
First the AP provides an update on Latin America's first gay newlyweds:
An Argentine couple participated in Latin America's first gay wedding on Monday, but interpretations vary on whether the law allows such unions in Argentina, and the question is now before its supreme
Argentina's Constitution is silent on whether marriage must be between a man and a woman, effectively leaving the matter to provincial officials, who approved Monday's wedding. But a law specifically legalizing gay marriage has been stalled in its Congress since October ...Latin America's first gay newlyweds — Alex Freyre and Jose Maria Di Bello — were eager to relax and honeymoon.
"We want to rest now. It was a time during which we suffered a lot of humiliations," Freyre told The Associated Press after returning to Buenos Aires from Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, where the couple were wed.
The men tried to get married in Argentina's capital but city officials, who had earlier said the ceremony could proceed, refused to wed them on Dec. 1, citing conflicting judicial rulings.
Then the AP reveals part of Mexico City's motivation for their breakthrough and discusses the state of marriage equality in Latin America:
Mexico City enacted Latin America's first law recognizing gay marriage Tuesday and said it hopes to attract same-sex couples from around the world to wed.
The law, approved by city legislators on Dec. 21, was published in Mexico City's official register Tuesday and will take effect in March. It will allow same-sex couples to adopt children and municipal officials say it will make Mexico's capital a "vanguard city" — and attract extra tourism revenues.
"Mexico City will become a center, where (gay) people from all over the world will be able to come and have their wedding, and then spend their honeymoon here," said Alejandro Rojas, the city tourism secretary.
"We are already in talks with some travel agencies that are planning to offer package tours that include flights, hotels, guides, and everything they need for the wedding, like banquets," said Rojas. "We are going to become a city on a par with Venice or San
Francisco" — the current leader in the gay travel market segment.
The annual economic impact of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers is about $70 billion in the United States alone, according to Community Marketing Inc., a tourism research
companythat specializes in gay and lesbian consumers.
Gay marriages of foreigners in Mexico City would presumably only be recognized by countries and states that also have legalized same-sex marriage. An exception is New York State, which doesn't allow same-sex marriages but which recognizes those which were performed legally in other jurisdictions ...
But even as Mexico City officials celebrated enactment of the law, others vowed to stop the marriages from taking place.
In a Sunday Mass, Roman Catholic Cardinal Norberto Rivera said "the essence of the family is being attacked by making homosexual unions equivalent to matrimony between a man and a woman."
Armando Martinez, the president of a local Catholic lawyers' group, said he was planning demonstrations against same-sex marriages, and will also support legal efforts to overturn the Mexico City law.
"We are going to carry out exhaustive campaigns at the offices of the justices of the peace in the city, using acts of peaceful civil resistance to prevent homosexual couples from being married," Martinez said.
The biological mother of a 7-year-old Virginia girl must transfer custody of the child to her former partner, a Vermont family court judge has ruled, adding that it seemed as though the mother had “disappeared” with the girl.
The judge ordered the mother, Lisa Miller of Winchester, Va., to turn over the child, Isabella, to her former partner, Janet Jenkins, at 1 p.m. Friday at the Virginia home of Ms. Jenkins’s parents.
The case of the two women fighting over their daughter has attracted national attention, with judges in Vermont and Virginia at odds about whether a child can have two mothers.
Ms. Miller and Ms. Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. Isabella was born to Ms. Miller through artificial insemination in 2002. The couple broke up in 2003, and Ms. Miller moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian.
When William D. Cohen, the family court judge in Vermont, dissolved the civil union in 2007, he awarded custody to Ms. Miller but granted liberal visitation rights to Ms. Jenkins.
The Supreme Courts of Virginia and Vermont ruled in favor of Ms. Jenkins on visitation rights, saying the case was the same as a custody dispute between a heterosexual couple. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear Ms. Miller’s appeal.
On Nov. 20, Judge Cohen awarded custody to Ms. Jenkins after finding Ms. Miller in contempt of court for denying Ms. Jenkins access to the girl. The judge said the only way to ensure equal access to the child was to switch custody.
But in a Dec. 22 order denying a request by Ms. Miller to delay the transfer of custody, Judge Cohen wrote: “It appears that Ms. Miller has ceased contact with her attorneys and disappeared with the minor child.”
Ms. Miller’s lawyer, Mathew D. Staver, declined to comment.
Two men in Argentina have become Latin America's first legally married same-sex couple, after the governor of the country's southernmost Tierra del Fuego province permitted their wedding.
Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre, both gay rights activists, were married in Ushuaia, the provincial capital, in a civil ceremony on Tuesday.
"My knees didn't stop shaking," 41-year-old Di Bello said. "We are the first gay couple in Latin America to marry."
Claudio Morgano, president of the national anti-discrimination institute and a witness at the wedding, called the marriage a "historic occasion".
Argentina's constitution does not specify that marriage must be exclusively between a man and a woman, but the country's civil code does make the distinction.
The couple had previously tried to marry in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, but were prevented from doing so by city officials citing conflicting judicial rulings on the issue.
The couple then tried again in Tierra del Fuego where Fabiana Rios, the provincial governor, authorised the wedding after a local registry official refused to officiate.
Rios said in a statement that gay marriage "is an important advance in human rights and social inclusion and we are very happy that this has happened in our state".
Di Bello, who is an executive at the Argentine Red Cross, met Freyre, the executive director of the Buenos Aires Aids Foundation, at an HIV awareness conference. Both are HIV-positive.
At Monday's indoor ceremony, the grooms wore sport coats without ties, and had large red ribbons draped around their necks in solidarity with other people living with HIV.
Many in Argentina and throughout Latin America remain opposed to gay marriage, particularly the Roman Catholic Church.
Bishop Juan Carlos, of the southern city Rio Gallegos, told the Argentine news agency DyN: "The decision took me by surprise and I'm concerned."
He called the marriage "an attack against the survival of the human species".
Same-sex civil unions have been legalised in Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and some states in Mexico and Brazil.
When an openly gay woman won the mayor’s race here this month, it was the latest in a string of victories by gay candidates across the country, a trend that seems to contradict the bans on same-sex marriage that have been passed in most states in recent years.
Take Texas, by many measures one of the most conservative states in the nation. In 2005, it enacted a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage; the voters passed the referendum by a ratio of three to one.
Yet in the last decade, an openly gay woman has twice won election as the sheriff in Dallas County, and another openly gay woman was elected district attorney in Travis County, which includes the city of Austin. Gay candidates have also won city council seats in Austin, Fort Worth and Houston.
Then, this month, Annise Parker, the city controller who is a lesbian, swept to a solid victory in the mayoral race in Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city.
There are currently at least 445 openly gay and lesbian people holding elected office in the United States, up from 257 eight years ago, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a political group that supports gay candidates.
And while Ms. Parker’s victory in Houston, a city of 2.2 million people, was the biggest victory for gay rights advocates this year, gay candidates made strides in other places in the last election cycle.
Charles Pugh, an openly gay former broadcaster, swept to victory as City Council president in Detroit in his first bid for public office. Akron, Ohio, elected its first openly gay council member, Sandra Kurt, an industrial engineer at Goodyear Tires.
Some political scientists say the rise in openly gay candidates’ winning public office is a better barometer of societal attitudes than are the high-profile fights over same-sex marriage.
“Gay marriage ballot measures are not the best measure,” said Patrick J. Egan, a political scientist at New York University who studies issues surrounding gay politicians. “They happen to be about the one issue the public is most uncomfortable with. In a sense, they don’t give us a real good picture of the opinion trend over the last 30 years.”
For instance, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has been polling people since 1973 about whether homosexual behavior is morally wrong. In 1973, 73 percent of the people polled described it as always wrong and only 11 percent as “not wrong.” By 2006, those saying homosexuality was “always wrong” had dropped to 56 percent, and 32 percent said it was not wrong.
One reason for the shift in attitudes, some political scientists contend, is a rising number of gays acknowledging their sexual preference openly in various walks of life, from workers on factory floors to Hollywood stars.
“More and more people have been coming out,” said Sean Theriault, a political scientist at the University of Texas who tracks gay politics. “Ten years ago, you could talk to a lot of people who didn’t know a single gay person, and now, especially in the cities, you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know anyone who is gay.”
Yet, most of the openly gay politicians who have won races recently have done so by avoiding being labeled as single-issue candidates, several gay politicians said.
The bill, which passed by an 11-to-2 vote, may still face obstacles in Congress, among city voters and in the courts, but most advocates of same-sex marriage say they expect it to become law by spring. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has said he will sign the bill.
“Today’s vote is an important victory not only for the gay and lesbian community but for everyone who supports equal rights,” said Councilman David A. Catania, an independent and the author of the bill.
Opponents have vowed to overturn the bill by putting it to a referendum or by working with Congress, which has a month to review the measure once it is signed.
The city already recognizes same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont. New Hampshire will begin allowing same-sex marriage early next year.
Republicans and conservative Democrats in the House, which oversees the District of Columbia’s budget, are considering a variety of legislative methods to block the bill, including adding a rider to future appropriations bills. But Democrats who support the measure can probably prevent that.
Other opponents vowed to continue fighting.
“The City Council’s action today is not the final word,” said Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., and chairman of a group called Stand4MarriageDC.
Mr. Jackson said he would lobby Congress to intervene, but he acknowledged that such a move threatened to upset some of his local supporters, who may be put off by the prospect of subverting local autonomy in Washington.
The city’s Board of Elections and Ethics decided not to hold a referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage, and Mr. Jackson’s group is challenging that decision in court on Jan. 6.
Councilman Catania opposes putting the matter to a popular vote. He noted that in a referendum in 1865, only 36 of the city’s residents voted to extend the franchise to African-American men.
A November CNN interview:
Though Sexual Orientation Became An Issue In Houston Mayoral Race it all worked out well in the end. Here's the NY Times:
Houston became the largest city in the United States to elect an openly gay mayor on Saturday night, as voters gave a solid victory to the city controller, Annise Parker.
Cheers and dancing erupted at Ms. Parker’s campaign party as her opponent, Gene Locke, a former city attorney, conceded defeat just after 10 p.m. when it became clear he could not overcome her lead.
Twenty minutes later, Ms. Parker appeared before ecstatic supporters at the city’s convention center and then joked that she was the first graduate of Rice University to be elected mayor. (She is, by the way.) Then she grew serious.
“Tonight the voters of Houston have opened the door to history,” she said, standing by her partner of 19 years, Kathy Hubbard, and their three adopted children. “I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who never thought we could achieve high office.”
With all precincts reporting, Ms. Parker, the city controller, had defeated Mr. Locke 53 percent to 47 percent.
Throughout the campaign, Ms. Parker tried to avoid making an issue of her sexual orientation and emphasized her experience in overseeing the city’s finances. But she began her career as an advocate for gay rights in the 1980s, and it was lost on no one in Houston, a city of 2.2 million people, that her election marked a milestone for gay men and lesbians around the country.
Several smaller cities in other regions have chosen openly gay mayors, among them Providence, R.I., Portland, Ore., and Cambridge, Mass. But Ms. Parker’s success came in a conservative state where voters have outlawed gay marriage and a city where a referendum on granting benefits to same-sex partners of city employees was soundly defeated.
Turnout was light across the city on a rainy, foggy day, with only about 16 percent of registered voters going to the polls.
Ms. Parker’s sexual orientation did not become an issue in the race until after the general election produced no winner and led to a run-off between her and Mr. Locke, who is black and enjoys strong support among African-American voters.
The two candidates differed very little on the issues. Mr. Locke, who is 61, promised to crack down on crime and expand the police department. Ms. Parker, 53, said her experience as controller made her a better candidate to steer the city through the tough financial times it now faces.
Houston voters will elect their next mayor on Saturday in a runoff contest that increasingly has become focused on the sexual orientation of one of the two Democratic candidates.
The candidate, City Controller Annise Parker, is openly gay. If she defeats her opponent, Gene Locke, a former city attorney, Houston would become the largest city in the nation to elect an openly gay mayor.
Ms. Parker, 53, has run on her experience in City Hall, portraying herself as a stronger leader better equipped to handle city budgets and municipal affairs, while Mr. Locke has vowed to crack down on crime and has emphasized his endorsement by the Houston Police Officers’ Union.
Throughout the campaign, Mr. Locke has not raised the issue of Ms. Parker’s sexual orientation, and she has played down the historic aspect of her bid for office.
“I am not running to be a role model,” she said at a recent debate. “I am running to be the mayor of Houston.”
But in the final week of the campaign, Ms. Parker’s sexuality has emerged as an issue. A group of black pastors spoke out against Ms. Parker because of what they called her gay agenda. On Monday, Mr. Locke, who is black, came under fire after the revelation that two members of his finance committee made $20,000 donations to the political action committee of Stephen Hotze, an anti-gay advocate.
Mr. Hotze sent out mailings that urged potential voters to reject the candidate endorsed by the “gay and lesbian political caucus.” A flier put out by David Wilson, another opponent of gay rights, shows Ms. Parker with her longtime partner by her side, with the headline: “Is this the image Houston wants to portray?”
Mr. Locke has tried to distance himself from these attacks and has denied that he financed Mr. Hotze’s attack advertisements.
Peter Atlas always thought Concord-Carlisle Regional High School was open to diversity, but when he put out his casting call for the musical “Falsettos’’ he had doubts about the turnout.
How many teenagers would audition for a show about two homosexual couples, a straight couple, and a 12-year-old boy?
Dozens, he learned. When it came time to cast the seven-member ensemble, Atlas had his pick from among around 50 candidates from across the student body.
“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of our administration for supporting this show,’’ said Atlas, a math teacher and sometime theatrical director. “To say I was surprised would be to underestimate them, but I can tell you I was delighted.’’
As Atlas and his cast prepare to open “Falsettos’’ this Friday, they may be making high school theatrical history.
The musical, co-written by Natick native William Finn and James Lapine, won two Tony awards after its 1992 debut. But according to Brad Lohrenz, director of licensing at the agency that handles Finn’s royalties, Concord-Carlisle is the first public high school in the country to produce the show for an outside audience.
“I can’t quite believe that a public high school is doing this,’’ Finn said last week. “It seems either very brave or very stupid to me. But honestly, it’s wonderful that this is being done. It makes me think that high school must be a much more civilized place than it was when I was a student.’’
But it doesn’t surprise the cast members that their school is the one to break new ground in this way. They say they have all grown up in an environment that welcomes diversity of all kinds, including sexual orientation.
“Among most groups here, it’s widely accepted, just another thing that the person is, and not something negative. A characteristic, like having blue eyes,’’ said stage manager Ben Marsh. “There will always be a few jerks who think it’s not OK, but that’s to be expected. This play definitely discourages stereotypes and serves as an information source.’’
“Falsettos’’ tells the story of Marvin, a married man who decides to leave his wife to begin a new life with his male lover, and the effect that decision has on his own family as well as two other couples, one lesbian and one heterosexual.
Watch her and Ellen's Oprah interview
What do you think of this? Wash Post:
Gay, Catholic and fed up with his church's efforts to quash the same-sex marriage movement, Phil Attey has come up with a controversial strategy: outing gay priests who speak out against homosexuality.
Attey's new Web site, http:/
/ churchouting.com, has drawn criticism from groups that advocate for gay Catholics. They worry that his threats to gather and disclose information on gay priests will hurt their cause.
Attey, a D.C. resident, describes himself as an Internet political strategist. On his Web site, he urges people to report encounters with gay priests in the Archdiocese of Washington, which has strongly opposed legalization of same-sex marriage in the District.
He said he will out only gay priests and bishops who speak out against homosexuality. In the case of priests not publicly opposed to gay marriage but still in the closet, he said his goal is not to threaten them but to encourage them to "come out for the next generation and stand up against the anti-gay stance of the church."
Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, which advocates on behalf of gay male and lesbian Catholics, said he understands Attey's anger but condemns his approach. "Equal rights should be argued on the merits of the issue, not with vengeful personal attacks," he said. "Outing priests could cause more harm to a group of people who are already in a difficult situation."
The archdiocese called the Web site potentially harmful. "If anyone has a concern about whether a priest is violating their ministry in any way, we would encourage them to let the archdiocese know rather than some Web site . . .," spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said. "We will follow through and investigate. It's too easy on the Internet to gossip and violate someone's good name on rumors."
I love that the segment is titled, "Beyond the Facts."
The District of Columbia Council is expected to vote next week to legalize same-sex marriage in the nation's capital. While Congress could use its power to overturn the law, local and national factors appeared to be aligned against any effort to do so.
Ten of the council's 13 members have co-sponsored the bill, and Mayor Adrian Fenty, a Democrat, has said he would sign it after it gains council approval with a second vote. The district could start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex partners early next year.
Under the district's limited home rule, Congress has 30 legislative days to undo any law the council passes. In the past, Congress has used legislation to overrule the city on issues such as gun rights and medical marijuana.
Though Democrats control both the House and Senate, many represent districts that staunchly oppose same-sex marriage. Still, Republicans say it is unlikely they could attract enough Democrats to overturn the law. This spring, when the district voted to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, Congress stayed silent.
And national opponents of gay marriage appear to be focused elsewhere -- namely New Jersey, where the legislature might try to pass a gay-marriage bill before Republican Chris Christie takes over as governor in January from Democrat Jon Corzine.
Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, said his group would apply pressure on Capitol Hill to scrap the bill. "It's a difficult thing for Congress to actually overturn a law in the District," Mr. Brown said.
Many advocates in Washington on both sides of the debate say they don't expect Congress to take action -- nor would even opponents of gay marriage want it to, given the contentious history between the city and Capitol Hill.
"The citizens of the District of Columbia do not need the Hill to meddle in our affairs," said the Rev. Patrick J. Walker, who leads New Macedonia Baptist Church and opposes gay marriage. "I'd rather see this in court than on the Hill."
For the city of Washington, the debate has laid bare two social fault lines: race and religion.
While five states have legalized same-sex marriage -- Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont -- the district's population is far different: About 54% is black. None of the five states have a black population above 10%. Nationwide polls show that a significant majority of blacks oppose same-sex marriage.
Opponents of the council's bill are counting on those dynamics in Washington, where pastors of many black congregations are leading the fight against the bill. "In this international city, where we have people coming from all over the world, we just don't think we should get into redefining marriage," said Mr. Walker.
Pastors and other opponents say most district residents don't want the bill and have called for a ballot measure to decide the issue. The city's election board rejected a petition for a referendum, saying it would violate Washington's Human Rights Act. Opponents have sued the election board.
Supporters say allowing same-sex couples to marry in the district, which has one of the nation's largest gay communities, is a human right long overdue. "The majority doesn't get to vote on whether a minority has equality," said council member Phil Mendelson.
Public hearings on same-sex marriage earlier this fall lasted 17 hours over two days, with more than 200 speakers. The majority of those speakers supported same-sex marriage; many of them identified themselves as black ...
The bill's impact on religious groups also has become an issue, though some clergy have spoken in support of same-sex marriage. The bill includes a "conscience clause" allowing priests to not administer weddings for same-sex couples or teach about same-sex marriage in religious classes.
The city's Roman Catholic leaders, in particular, have pressed for a broader exemption to allow the church -- or any group or individual opposed to same-sex marriage -- not to provide benefits to same-sex partners of its employees.
Without such an exemption, according to Catholic Archbishop Donald Wuerl, the church won't contract with the city to provide social services, though it won't end its charitable work in the city. He said the archdiocese would continue to negotiate with the city, though Mr. Mendelson said he wasn't optimistic a compromise can be reached.
For more on the Catholic Church's appalling position, see To The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, Discriminating Against Gays More Important Than Helping The Poor.
Sexual orientation is genetic… but not fully genetic.
Each person has about a 4-6% chance of being same-sex attracted. If, however, one has a twin brother that’s gay, the odds increase to about 12%. Make it an identical twin and you have a 50/50 chance that you too will be gay.
Anti-gay activists irrationally declare that this proves that “there is no gay gene.” In a sense they are correct, if orientation were entirely determined by purely genetic composition, then identical twins (who have the same genes) would always have the same orientation.
But the increase in odd with the increase in genetic similarity does show that genes play a part, and a big part. Which leaves the question, how does one twin end up gay and the other straight? The answer may be in how epigenetics triggers genes and can cause identical genes to respond differently.
In the following National Geographic video, the narrator discusses what might cause identical twins to have non-identical orientation.
D.C. Council members are hardening their opposition to the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington's efforts to change a proposed same-sex marriage law, setting up a political showdown between the city and one of its largest social service providers.
Several council members said Thursday that Church officials miscalculated by saying this week that their Catholic Charities organization will have to end its contracts with the city if the proposal passes without changes.
"It's a dangerous thing when the Catholic Church starts writing and determining the legislation and the laws of the District of Columbia," said council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the Human Services Committee.
Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, countered that the city is "the one giving the ultimatum. We are not threatening to walk out of the city," Gibbs said. "The city is the one saying, 'If you want to continue partnering with the city, then you cannot follow your faith teachings.' "
Under the bill, headed for a council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians. Church officials say Catholic Charities would have to suspend its social services work for the city, rather than provide employee benefits to same-sex married couples or allow them to adopt.
Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), one of two openly gay members of the council, said Thursday morning that he hoped to reach a compromise with the Church. He noted that it is a major provider of services for immigrants in his ward.
Late Thursday, however, Graham said he had changed his mind after reviewing same-sex marriage laws in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont. He asked why the Church has not abandoned services in those states. "If the Catholic Church has been able to adjust in Connecticut, I think they can certainly adjust here," Graham said.
Catholic Charities in Boston halted its adoption programs with the city because Massachusetts requires that agencies not discriminate against same-sex couples as potential parents.
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said he plans to meet with his colleagues Friday to discuss the issue. But he added, "I don't know where the compromise would be. "It seems to me if they choose not to provide those services, we will have to find someone else," Gray said ...
At issue is $18 million to $20 million in city funds for 20 to 25 programs run by Catholic Charities, said Edward J. Orzechowski, the charity's president and chief executive officer ...
"We're going to continue to serve those in need," Orzechowski said. "But how we do that, where we do it and the manner in which we do it is what's at risk."
Orzechowski said many of the people who work for Catholic Charities and receive its services are from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, but giving same-sex spousal benefits to staff members or placing adoptive children with gay couples would violate Church tenets.
Linda C. McClain, a law professor at Boston University who is studying the same-sex marriage debate nationwide, said the outcome of the standoff between the District and the Church could have far-reaching implications for other states ...
"This case really pits the commitment to religious freedom against the importance of anti-discrimination," McClain said. "The courts have been pretty clear that you can't force a religious organization to express a message it doesn't agree with. . . . But it's a tougher case to say you won't be able to provide services to the poor because of this."
More than 200 members of the city's clergy who support same-sex marriage issued a statement Thursday denouncing Church's stance. "To hold hostage the rights of human beings over this, I think, is just really despicable," said the Rev. Dennis W. Wiley, co-chairman of D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality. "There are others who can step up to the plate who would love to have the contracts."
Some Catholics also expressed their frustration with the Church. "It's totally embarrassing," said Kathy Boylan, a member of the peace movement Catholic Worker ...
Several council members said the Church is asking them to undermine the 1977 Human Rights Act, which protects gays and other minorities. "It's not even a slippery slope. It's a wire that would be tripped," Wells said.
Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) said the Church, which has tax-exempt property and often interacts with the city government, should be wary of picking a fight.
"I am proud they have done so many community service things, but I would hope this would not be a line in the sand," he said.
Though they helped to perpetuate discrimination in marriage in California, the Mormons just came out against discrimination in housing & jobs in Salt Lake City. Though I don't agree with the line they've drawn, I understand and applaud it. The NY Times:
The Mormon Church has been a target of vituperation by some gay rights groups because of its active opposition to same-sex marriage. But on Wednesday, the church was being praised by gay rights activists in Salt Lake City, citadel of the Mormon world, for its open support of a local ordinance banning discrimination against gay men and lesbians in housing and employment.
The ordinance, which passed unanimously Tuesday night, made Salt Lake the first city in Utah to offer such protections. While the measure probably had majority backing on the seven-member City Council anyway, the church’s support was seen by gay activists as a thunderclap that would resonate across the state and in the overwhelmingly Mormon legislature, where even subtle shifts in church positions on social issues can swing votes and sentiments.
“It’s the most progressive and inclusive statement that the church has made on these issues,” said Will Carlson, the manager of public policy at Equality Utah, the state’s largest gay rights group. “What they’ve said here is huge, in protecting residents in other municipalities, and statewide.”
In its statement backing the ordinance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said that while it remained “unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman,” the question of how people were treated on the job and in finding places to live were matters of fairness that did not have anything to do with marriage.
“Across America and around the world, diverse communities such as ours are wrestling with complex social and moral questions,” Michael R. Otterson, a church spokesman, said in a statement to the City Council. “The issues before you tonight are the right of people to have a roof over their heads and the right to work without being discriminated against.”
Mr. Carlson at Equality Utah said the wording of the church’s statement was crucial. The church previously had used more neutral language when asked about antidiscrimination statutes or hate-crimes legislation, often saying that it was “not opposed” to such measures.
About 100 cities in the United States have passed similar housing and employment protection statutes, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national gender rights organization. Salt Lake’s ordinance will take effect next April, and will authorize the mayor to appoint an administrator to investigate complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Interesting approach from the MCC:
Apparently what many gay activists thought was a terrible idea in May (Taking The Fight To The Federal Courts Now: A Good Or Disasterous Idea?), now seems like a potential new way forward in the fight for equality. From the Wash Post:
Gay rights advocates across the country are regrouping after a crushing defeat at the ballot box in Maine, pledging to continue their state-by-state effort to promote marriage equality and to turn their attention to a federal court case in California.
On Tuesday, Maine became the 31st state to block same-sex marriage through a public referendum. Just over half the voters there repealed a state law that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed, a statute passed by the legislature in May and signed by Gov. John E. Baldacci (D). The law had been on hold, pending the vote.
Gay rights advocates had been optimistic about the Maine referendum, having collected more money, political support and volunteers than in other campaigns nationwide. Polls leading up to the vote indicated a dead heat on Question 1, as the measure was known.
Courts and legislatures have made it possible for gay men and lesbians to marry in five states, but Tuesday's results mirror what has happened in every state where the question of same-sex marriage has gone before voters.
"I think the reality is that we came very close but didn't succeed in dispelling the distractions and fears that are keeping a small slice of people from treating others fairly," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, a national gay rights group. Wolfson, as well as spokespeople for other gay rights organizations, blamed an opposition ad campaign for stoking voters' fears.
The campaign against same-sex marriage in Maine drew heavily from a similar effort in California last year; there, a ballot measure known as Proposition 8 overturned the state Supreme Court ruling allowing such unions. Maine voters were exposed to TV commercials, such as one featuring parents lamenting that their children were being taught about same-sex marriage in school, that were nearly identical to ads used in California.
For the gay rights movement, the defeat is another setback to its long-held strategy of building the case for marriage equality state by state. Historically, the tactics have been to target places where conditions seem favorable, and Maine, characterized by its governor as a libertarian state, seemed to fit that criterion.
Still, advocates say the strategy remains effective. They point to Tuesday's balloting in Kalamazoo, Mich., where voters approved an anti-discrimination ordinance that provides gays protections in employment, housing and public accommodations. Another victory appeared to be likely in Washington state, where incomplete returns indicate that a majority of voters have approved the legislature's expansion of domestic partnership rights.
Advocates say there was a partial victory even in Maine, where the vote was closer than it had been in previous campaigns. "We're hopeful that it's a signal that there is increasing support for gay couples to marry," said Dan Hawes, field director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Nationally, we're going to continue education efforts to move the needle of public opinion, especially in California."
California remains a key battleground. Some gay rights organizations are considering putting the same-sex marriage issue before voters there again as early as next year.
But most of the focus on the state stems from a federal lawsuit challenging Proposition 8 that is expected to go to trial in January. Lawyers David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, onetime opponents in the legal battle over the 2000 presidential election, are representing same-sex couples in the case, arguing, among other things, that Proposition 8 violates gays' right to due process and equal protection under the Constitution.
The federal case marks a shift in direction for the gay rights movement. Activists and legal strategists historically have avoided taking the issue to a narrowly divided Supreme Court, fearing a major setback. And though not all gay rights advocates agree on the timing, there is a growing consensus that there may never be a perfect time for a federal challenge.
"The whole idea that somehow you have to choose between federal and state work is a false 'either or.' The reality is, every movement needs to do both," Wolfson said. "You don't win on the federal level without engaging in those conversations and legal victories in states and communities. At the same time, you want to be part of a national conversation that helps create a climate for more states to move in the right direction."
Voters on Tuesday repealed the state’s same sex marriage law after an emotionally charged campaign that drew large numbers to the polls and focused national attention on Maine.
With 87 percent of precincts reporting, the campaign to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law won with 53 percent of the vote vs. 47 percent opposed to Question 1, according to unofficial results compiled by the Bangor Daily News.
Gay-marriage opponents claimed victory shortly after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. “Question 1 has passed,” Frank Schubert, campaign manager of Stand for Marriage Maine, announced in Portland. “It has all come together tonight and the institution of marriage has been preserved.”
About 40 people who worked on the Yes on 1 campaign cheered as they heard the announcement by computer hookup at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer.
“We went up against tremendous odds,” Marc Mutty, public affairs director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland who has been on loan to the campaign, said from Portland. “We all know we were the little guy going up against the big guy, but we prevailed. We prevailed because the people of Maine — the silent majority — the folks back home spoke with their votes.
“What they had to say,” Mutty continued, “is marriage matters because it’s between a man and a woman. [This campaign] has never been about hating gays, but about preserving marriage and only about preserving marriage, and that’s what we did tonight.”
The defenders of Maine’s gay marriage law — which passed the Legislature in the spring but was never allowed to take effect — acknowledged being behind, but held out hope for a bump as the final votes and absentee ballots were counted.
In a defiant speech to several hundred lingering supporters, No on 1 campaign manager Jesse Connolly pledged that his side “will not quit until we know where every single one of these votes lives.”
“We’re not short-timers; we are here for the long haul,” Connolly told the crowd, some of whom wiped away tears as he spoke. “Whether it’s just all night and into the morning, or next week or next month or next year, we will be here. We’ll be fighting, we’ll be working. We will regroup.”
The Yes on 1 campaign, led by the group Stand for Marriage Maine, built its lead by winning votes in rural Maine as well as in some larger towns such as the Roman Catholic and Franco-American stronghold of Lewiston.
In contrast, the effort to defend Maine’s gay marriage law won strong support in places such as Portland, where 73 percent voted against Question 1, and majority support in Bangor.
Throughout the campaign leading up to Tuesday’s closely watched election, both sides had said that turnout would be key. State election officials estimated earlier Tuesday that turnout likely would top 50 percent.
But while gay marriage supporters hoped the high voter interest would provide a boost, it was not enough to make Maine the first state in the nation where gay marriage won at the polls rather than in the legislature or courts.
In Washington State, another referendum on gay couples' equality was also a squeaker. But in this one, gay couples won. The state's domestic partnership law grants gay couples all the rights of married couples at a state level. The usual forces tried to reverse it, as they tried in Maine. But in Washington, the gay side won by 51.1 to 48.9 percent. Again, it's such a slender margin, it's stupid to draw any vast conclusions.
But I do want to point out that, from the perspective of just a decade ago, to have an even split on this question in a voter referendum is a huge shift in the culture. In Maine, where the Catholic church did all it could to prevent gays from having civil rights in a very Catholic and rural state, gays do have equality but may now merely be denied the name. The process itself has helped educate and enlighten and deepen the debate about gay people in ways that never happened before the marriage issue came up.
Maine residents will decide Tuesday whether to repeal a law allowing same-sex marriage, an effort that has succeeded in every state where it has been put before voters.
Public opinion surveys in Maine show a dead heat on Question 1, which would cancel the marriage statute that passed the legislature in May and was signed by Gov. John E. Baldacci (D).
In the five other states where gay men and lesbians are allowed to marry their partners, permission was granted by courts or legislatures. That permission was reversed by referendum in each case, but Baldacci expressed guarded optimism Sunday about the effort to defeat the Maine proposition.
"I believe it's something in the water or the air in this state that recognizes individual rights and anti-discrimination attitudes," the governor said by phone from Augusta, the capital. "It's more of a libertarian-type state than it is Republican or Democrat. We have two Republican senators, two Democratic representatives, and there have been two independent governors."
The campaign against same-sex marriage in Maine draws heavily from the effort that a year ago overturned a California Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriage. TV commercials produced by Schubert Flint Public Affairs, a Sacramento consulting firm, feature parents lamenting that their young children are being taught in school that marriage between two women or two men is normal. Nearly identical ads were highly effective in California.
"I refer to it as sustainable advertising, where you have the same themes," said Scott Fish, communications director for Stand for Marriage Maine. "It's the same issue, and many of the concerns were the same."
Advocates of same-sex marriage responded to the ads with an opinion from state Attorney General Janet T. Mills stating that the law would have no effect on what is taught in schools.
"No way, José," Mills said. "Allowing same-sex marriage does not require teaching of gay marriage in the schools any more than allowing divorce requires teaching of divorce in the schools, or allowing adoption requires teaching of adoption in schools."
Fish called the opinion irrelevant, because curriculum is largely decided by local school boards. "Neither does it say it won't be taught," he said.
Proponents of same-sex marriage are also playing on Mainers' wariness of outsiders, calling attention to the California consultants and the volume of the "Yes-on-1" campaign from out of state.
Questions about the largest contributor have sparked an investigation by the state ethics commission and a court battle.
President Obama on Friday announced the end of a 22-year ban on travel to the United States by people who had tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS, fulfilling a promise he made to gay advocates and acting to eliminate a restriction he said was “rooted in fear rather than fact.”
At a White House ceremony, Mr. Obama announced that a rule canceling the ban would be published on Monday and would take effect after a routine 60-day waiting period. The president had promised to end the ban before the end of the year.
“If we want to be a global leader in combating H.I.V./AIDS, we need to act like it,” Mr. Obama said. “Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, yet we’ve treated a visitor living with it as a threat.”
The United States is one of only about a dozen countries that bar people who have H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.
President George W. Bush started the process last year when he signed legislation, passed by Congress in July 2008, that repealed the statute on which the ban was based. But the ban remained in effect.
It was enacted in 1987 at a time of widespread fear that H.I.V. could be transmitted by physical or respiratory contact. The ban was further strengthened by Congress in 1993 as an amendment offered by Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina.
Because of the restriction, no major international conference on the AIDS epidemic has been held in the United States since 1990. Public health officials here have long said there was no scientific or medical basis for the ban.
Volunteer with ProtectMaineEquality.org
Following up yesterday's GOP's "Big Tent" Shrinks: Paline Endorses Republican Opponent In NY Race, Chris Mathews interviews the leader of New York's Conservative Party
The Senate voted Thursday to extend new federal protections to people who are victims of violent crime because of their sex or sexual orientation, bringing the measure close to reality after years of fierce debate.
The 68-to-29 vote sends the legislation to President Obama, who has said he supports it.
The measure, attached to an essential military-spending bill, broadens the definition of federal hate crimes to include those committed because of a victim’s gender or gender identity, or sexual orientation. It gives victims the same federal safeguards already afforded to people who are victims of violent crimes because of their race, color, religion or national origin.
“Hate crimes instill fear in those who have no connection to the victim other than a shared characteristic such as race or sexual orientation,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said afterward. “For nearly 150 years, we have responded as a nation to deter and to punish violent denials of civil rights by enacting federal laws to protect the civil rights of all of our citizens.”
Mr. Leahy sponsored the hate-crimes amendment to the military bill and called its passage a worthy tribute to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who first introduced hate-crimes legislation in the Senate more than a decade ago.
Opponents argued to no avail that the new measure was unnecessary in view of existing laws and might interfere with local law enforcement agencies. Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said he agreed that hate crimes were terrible. “That’s why they are already illegal,” Mr. DeMint said, asserting that the new law was a dangerous, even “Orwellian” step toward “thought crime.”
Ten Republicans voted for the hate-crimes measure. The only Democrat to oppose it was Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who said he could not vote for the current bill “because it does nothing to bring our open-ended and disproportionate military commitment in Afghanistan to an end and/or to ensure that our troops are safely and expeditiously redeployed from Iraq.” The Senate action came two weeks after the House approved the measure, 281 to 146, and would give the federal government the authority to prosecute violent, antigay crimes when local authorities failed to.
The measure would also allocate $5 million a year to the Justice Department to assist local communities in investigating hate crimes, and it would allow the agency to assist in investigations and prosecutions if local agencies requested help.Federal protections for people who are victims of violent crime because of their sexual orientation have been sought for more than a decade, at least since the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming college student.