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Obama, DADT, DOMA and the War on LGBT People.

October 15, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Thought of the Gay

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...
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Lamar Smith (R-TX), a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the U.S. House of Representatives – and my district’s representative – has asked the court to let him, and not the Obama administration’s Department of Justice (DoJ), appeal the ruling in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. US Dept. of Health and Human Services, et al., striking down key provisions of the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Smith claims that the DoJ, “has clearly let the president’s policy preferences dictate its litigation strategy” and that, “DOMA … should receive a true defense rather than a hollow one designed to pacify political constituents.”  It’s no surprise that Smith’s actions are being supported by the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization of “Christian” lawyers.

But Lamar Smith doesn’t have to intervene.  The DoJ has already filed their appeal in this case indicating that our fierce advocate, President Barack Obama, will continue to defend the legislative acts he feels are unconstitutional.  According to a DoJ spokesperson: Tracy Schmaler, “The Justice Department is defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged.”

And that appears to be exactly what the DoJ has done with the recent ruling and court order declaring the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy unconstitutional.

At some point, we need to recognize a fact.  There is no legal requirement or duty for the president to defend a statute.  While the DoJ keeps implying it, you’ll note they’ve never said it, because it isn’t true.

In fact, the Justice Department has recently refused to appeal a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  That ruling, issued Aug. 6, 2010, declared the regulations forcing individuals or small groups to obtain a permit for First Amendment-protected activities unconstitutional.

So why is it that the man who said: “My attitude is if people are being treated unfairly and unequally, then it needs to be fixed,” and who has been labeled as a fierce advocate of LGBT people, is defending DOMA and DADT?  Is it like Lamar Smith alleges and they aren’t going to defend the laws as aggressively as opponents of equality would hope? Alas, I’m afraid the only answer I have for you is this:

Obama is no Lady Gaga.

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VIDEO: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Protests Interrupt Obama Fundraising – Dan Choi and Others in Chains Again

April 20, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

GetEQUAL activists interrupted President Barack Obama during a speech designed to raise funds for California Senator Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign.  The group shouted for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the U.S. Military’s policy prohibiting openly gay soldiers from serving this country.

President Obama attempted to regain control of the speech and stay on topic, by acknowledging the group, then returning to endorsements for Senator Boxer.  Early on during the interruption, Obama states:

I don’t know why you have to holler, we already hear you.

Thereafter, Obama continually advises the group that he supports the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, but again reiterates his inquiry:

Barbara and I are supportive of a repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, so I don’t know why you are hollering.

But support doesn’t equate to action, and therein lies the problem.

In what is becoming typical fashion for GetEQUAL organizers, bicoastal events were held.  The day after the group interrupted Obama in Los Angeles, Dan Choi, Autumn Sandeen and 4 others chained themselves to the the gates of the White House [photo by David Mailloux of dymsum]:

Repeal DADT GetEQUAL: Protestors outside of the White House

CNN has some video footage of the chained veterans available here.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Don’t Come Here if You Have HIV

November 01, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationTake a moment to imagine this: You are a U.S. citizen, a hardworking productive citizen whose job requires travel to foreign countries. You are HIV positive. It doesn’t matter how you contracted HIV. Your gender, race, age and socio-economic class don’t matter. You are HIV positive. You take your medications, you know how the illness is transmitted. You are healthy otherwise. You don’t have tuberculosis or any other casually transmitted disease.

And no other country in the world will let you in. Never mind that the country that won’t let you has plenty of its own citizens with HIV, the incidence of HIV is rising and they cannot get the disease under control in their own country.

Does this make any sense to anyone?

Yet, since 1987, the United States has had a ban on allowing foreign travelers into the country that have HIV. The ban started with Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) and led to one of the most restrictive and controversial travel bans in history. Scientists and health organizations continued to argue that the policy made no sense. HIV is transmitted only through the exchange of bodily fluids, as opposed to an illness like tuberculosis or H1N1 that can be caught through surfaces and coughing.

President Obama just recently lifted this travel restriction and already we are seeing the right wing criticize him. Perhaps they should have paid attention when President Obama thanked President Bush for beginning this reform in the year 2008. That’s right folks. We have President George W. Bush to thank. Furthermore, we do not have President Clinton to thank. Don’t believe me? Let’s have a little history lesson, brought to you by The Society for Historians of Foreign Relations or SHAFR.org.

In 1988, the World Health Organization argued that restrictive travel and immigration policies directed at people with HIV were irrational and without public health justification. In 1990, when U.S. immigration officials barred HIV-positive foreigners en route to the International AIDS Conference in San Francisco, over 70 organizations of many nationalities, including the International Red Cross, the British Medical Association, and the European Parliament, boycotted the meeting.

In January 1991, the Centers for Disease Control called for the removal of HIV and all medical conditions other than active tuberculosis from the exclusions list. But the proposal triggered outrage among Christian conservatives who orchestrated a mass mailing campaign opposing the removal of the HIV-provision. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Representative William Dannemeyer (R-CA) and sixty-six fellow Republicans signed a public letter opposing the CDC recommendations. Finally, the Public Health Service argued that because Congress adopted the HIV travel ban in the 1987 Helms Amendment, only Congress could invalidate the HIV exclusion. In March 1993, President Bill Clinton signed legislation codifying the exclusion of HIV-positive aliens, thus violating a campaign promise.

For the next 15 years, the United States had one of the most restrictive policies on the immigration and travel of HIV-positive people in the world. It compelled all non-citizens to attest that they were HIV-negative before being admitted to the United States for any reason – despite the obvious impossibility of enforcing this provision. At the same time, non-citizens living long-term in the United States were denied permanent resident categorization solely on basis of their HIV-positive status. The U.S. government clung to policies suffused with the ignorance and bias toward HIV-positive people illustrated at the earliest stages of the AIDS pandemic. It disregarded the fact that for almost 25 years, it has been common medical knowledge that one cannot contract or transmit HIV casually. AIDS activists asserted that the HIV bar dissuaded immigrants unsure of their HIV status from getting tested; prompted HIV-positive immigrants not to seek to medical treatment until they had full-blown AIDS; and caused HIV-positive people seeking visas to lie on their applications and then enter the U.S. without their medications – situations posing exactly the threats to public health the 1987 ban aimed to prevent.

On July 17, 2008, roughly two weeks after the death of Jesse Helms – the champion of the HIV ban, the Senate voted 80 to 16 to repeal the exclusion. The repeal passed the House by a vote of 308 to 116 shortly thereafter. On July 30, Bush signed the PEPFAR legislation spending $50 billion over the next five years to fight AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in developing nations.

Jesse Helms is well known for his bigoted attitudes toward blacks and the LGBT community. It is interesting that two weeks after his death, this issue was addressed? This just goes to show how much influence one man can have. It also reveals, yet again, how right wing religious conservatives are unable or unwilling to comprehend science. How ironic and dangerously sad is it that these are the same people who refuse to teach their children that condoms prevent the spread of STDs and pregnancy?

Surely the only motivation to keep this ban was prejudice, discrimination and ignorance. Thank you Presidents Bush and Obama for doing the right thing.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

Hate Crimes Go Under Punished and Result in More Crime.

September 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Hate Crime - RacismYou may remember the 2006 convictions of Pete Billiot and Dwayne Adam Racine for the attack of a black offshore worker, but it’s likely you don’t.  The story received some national media coverage, but as is the case with most hate crimes, it wasn’t enough.  We can all grimace when someone murders another person regardless of the motivation, but when the motivation is bias or prejudice because of the persons race, creed, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, it’s particularly painful, particularly to members of that “suspect class.” Lots of thoughts race through the minds of those that could have been attacked and/or murder because of the same violent biases.

There have been many cases wherein those that commit such crimes get nothing more than a slap on the wrist.  In fact, a recent case of murder resulted in a full acquittal of the charge against the admitted murderer simply because he was motivated to kill a queer man after the man “hit on him.”

In the present case of Billiot and Racine; however, there may be some form of justice yet – albeit not for the proper crime.  It was reported yesterday that Billiot and Racine, who received very little jail time for their crime which outraged civil rights leaders, were arrested again.  This time for possession of marijuana with intention of distribution.

The two men were passengers in a car being driven by 17-year old, Samantha Scott.  Officers stopped the vehicle due to an expired inspection sticker, and upon obtaining consent, searched the vehicle and found a “crack pipe” and 52 grams of marijuana.  Samantha then reported to the officers that they were going to try to sell the drugs.  This is where “insert thud noise” would ordinarily be appropriate; however, no one ever said those that keep company with racists, or racists themselves were very “smart.”

Civil rights leaders in Louisiana had been planning a protest against the lenient sentencing of Racine and Billiot for today.

In another breaking case, a suburban New York teenager with a tendency to wear clothing marked with symbols such as swastikas and Ku Klux Klan logos, recently attacked another non-white. His last attack was in April; however, in the more recent attack, apparently motivated by bias/prejudice, a Hispanic man was shot with a BB gun and suffered minor injuries.  The teen was out on bail awaiting trial for the precious hate crime charge.

Race was the motivating factor in over half (51%) of all hate crimes committed in 2007, followed by religion (18%), then sexual orientation/gender identity (17%).  Yet, we are still waiting for Obama to sign Federal Hate Crimes Legislation… when will we learn?

Hate Crimes Legislation: Obama, won’t you buy me an F22?

July 20, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, Hate Crimes

f22The Hate Crimes Bill has, at long last, passed the Senate. Hooray! Wait, what? Obama might veto it? That’s right folks. Why? Because Republicans added 1.5 billion dollars for F22′s. Those would-be state of the art military jets.

Let me just get this off my chest first. I have no clue what those two things have to do with each other. Yet, we all know, that passing legislation is a game of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It’s never really been about what citizens deserve. It’s all about special interests and party allegiance. What I’m trying to say is, crazy or stupid, like it or not,  this is how our government works. Heck, I’m ready to tie same-sex marriage to a new Star Wars program. Why not?

How do I feel about this? How does the LGBT community feel about this? Here’s what I feel. Rational? I have no clue. I feel tired of waiting for this legislation. I’m straight, white, not disabled, not part of a targeted group of any kind. I just believe in protecting people who are targets. Even people I disagree with, like the religious right. Violence isn’t an answer.

Does the military need F22′s? I don’t know. Are there F22 pilots, sitting around, “plane-less”? Well, not if they are gay with 18 years of spotless service and they’ve been outed. Will F22′s hurt the LGBT community? Hmm. Seems unlikely. It will make jobs for people who make F22′s. Can we use them for night time surveillance of high crime areas? Can we give them to gay pilots?

Obama, won’t you buy me an F22? My enemies fly bombers, and you know what they can do. Worked hard for equal rights, so close to the end. Obama, won’t you buy me protection for my friends?

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Geekgirl (Jude) is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Check out her LGBT Science blog.

Celebrating LGBT Pride 2009: Vandals, Thieves and Police OH MY.

July 01, 2009 By: christophersays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

taintedAs Pride month closes we should take a moment to address the proclamation made by the President of the United States of America, issued on June 1.  In his opening statement, President Barack Obama declares:

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Mr. President the reference to the injustices the LGBT community experienced at the Stonewall Inn falls short of addressing the harassment this minority continues to encounter throughout the country; including the abhorrent dismissal of our rights by your very own administration.  While the repeated raids and unconscionable treatment of the patrons of Stonewall Inn led to rioting in the summer of ’69, four decades later our community is still faced with intimidation, coercion and even worse based on nothing more than our identity.  This discrimination is only promoted as the government of the United States denies equality to LGBT citizens.

Repeating history and marking the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, the wee hours of Sunday, June 28, saw police raid the Rainbow Lounge; a gay bar, new to Ft. Worth, Texas.  Reports indicate that two straight bars were also surprised with inspections by six Ft. Worth police officers and two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers earlier that evening.  Conflicting allegations by both the officers involved as well as patrons of the Rainbow Lounge about what took place during the raid leave much to be determined.  However what is fact is that of those arrested at the gay bar one individual ended up in a sling while another ended up with a fractured skull.

Meanwhile, June 29, during San Francisco’s 39th annual Gay Pride festivities, vandals set fire to an acre wide pink triangle; a memorial designed to honor LGBT victims of the Holocaust.  The message these degenerates sent is very clear.  The smoldering embers of what is left behind of this symbol, is not only slightly representative of what our people have already gone through but also a reminder of those that wish to see our end.

Hanging in 35 elevators located within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) building, Washington DC, were posters commemorating LGBT Pride Month.  Many of the posters were removed or defaced.  As new posters went back up, they continued to be vandalized and torn down.  This criminal activity is believed to have been executed by an employee of the department.

The DOL’s mission statement reads:

The Department of Labor fosters and promotes the welfare of the job seekers, wage earners, and retirees of the United States by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their retirement and health care benefits, helping employers find workers, strengthening free collective bargaining, and tracking changes in employment, prices, and other national economic measurements. In carrying out this mission, the Department administers a variety of Federal labor laws including those that guarantee workers’ rights to safe and healthful working conditions; a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay; freedom from employment discrimination; unemployment insurance; and other income support.

The Department of Labor cannot keep a simple poster on the wall and while they claim to “guarantee workers’ right to safe and healthful working conditions” including “freedom from employment discrimination.” The LGBT community is faced with the reality of harassment in the workplace as well as wrongful termination based again on nothing more than our identity.  What truly is the department’s message?

So we’ve covered the heartland.  We’ve covered the West Coast…Ahhh, San Francisco.  Gay San Francisco.  Let’s move onto one of the most diverse cities of the U.S., New York City.

While in New York on business, Joe Holladay walked out of the apartment he was staying at to smoke a cigarette.  Standing on the sidewalk, minding his business, Mr. Holladay was attacked by five to six men sporting “crewcuts, wearing wife-beaters” (yeah, those guys).  Neighbors reported the group of men shouted anti-gay slurs, before the victim was struck down with a blunt object.  Mr. Holladay and neighbors recall the assailants calling Mr. Holladay a “faggot” before and during the assault.  Upon making his way down to the street, John Jerome (the apartment tenant), mistook Mr. Holladay for dead.  Does this message need to be any clearer?

Back to the heartland, Omaha:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As William Crilly, 66 year old resident of Omaha, Nebraska, made his way through the Omaha Pride parade with a rainbow covered wagon and attached sign reading the above scripture, Romans 6:23, HRC volunteer Kendra Konrady took notice.  At the time the make-shift float caught her eye, she was handing out the well known HRC equality stickers.  Ms. Konrady then threw a few stickers into the wagon.  The next thing she knew her arms were flailing as she was accosted by Mr. Crilly who grabbed her from behind and placed her into a headlock.

Apparently Mr. Crilly, like so many of the Religious Reich, does not believe in turning the other cheek, but sir…we did get your hateful message.

The invasions are not limited to public spaces or even the work place, they are even happening in private residences.  While hosting a fundraiser for Congressional candidate Francine Busby, Shari Barman was arrested and several other guests were pepper sprayed by police officers.  The officers had responded to a “noise complaint” they had received at approximate 9:33 in the evening (well before the city’s curfew on noise levels set in).  Before and during the intrusion, an unidentified man (presumably a neighbor) could be heard shouting anti-gay slurs and other obscenities.  Once again the message is clear.

And though the discrimination against the LGBT community is even recognized and acknowledged by the President of the greatest country in the mostly free world, little has been done to effectively make the changes necessary to raise our status to equal.

Mr. President, your proclamation ends by declaring June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride month.  You’ve called “upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.”  What about June 2010…2011…2012 and so on?  What is your message?

To you dear reader: although we have only been granted this one month, “in the year of our Lord, two thousand nine” by a President, who perhaps views us in a different light than his predecessors, do not be fooled.  We must continue to celebrate our pride, make our way in this world and effectively change what is not right.  The message is clear…no one will do it for us. Stand up, speak out and most importantly:

Celebrate your pride!

christopherchristophersays: Jay’s counter-part and partner authors the blog christophersays and helps out at the main site. Christopher and Jay often disagree about politics and the gay rights movement leading to very stimulating and sometimes frustrating conversations. Thus, Jay dubbed him a “radical.”

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: the Obama Administration and I.

June 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

ObamaDo you remember the pre-President Obama?  He would stand before a crowd of say, 20 people at a community center talking about the American Dream and living it.  At that time, and currently, he had a “wife” that he loved, someone he could turn to while speaking and say, “Thank you to my beautiful ‘wife’ for helping me live this dream.”

Well Mr. President, I have a dream too. I dream that someday I can stand before a crowd of people and say, “Thank you to my beautiful ‘husband’ for helping me live this dream.”  I like the way that word sounds.  It’s not too formal, like “significant other” or too whimpy like “partner” – both of which belittle what it is I have with my husband.

I’m sure President Obama has experienced horrible levels of discrimination in his life.  He has fought hard and he has triumphed, setting a new era for American Politics.  But through it all did anyone ever say, “Now, do it all again but were taking away your ‘wife?’”

That is what the Defense of Marriage Act and state bans on same-sex marriage are doing, plan and simply.  They are taking away our ability to live the American Dream the same way that Mr. Obama has lived it.

Then I think back to Hillary v. Obama and how the “gays” were torn and our thoughts flowed freely:

Hillary says she supports us, but she helped draft DOMA, her ‘husband” put it into law, her ‘husband’ enacted DADT!  We can’t trust her.  But this guy, this guy, Obama, he’s been there too.  He climbed out of the ‘Club of Disaffection!’

But to climb out, he used our rights as his ladder.  I now find myself trying to find humor in how quickly we cast Hillary out for fear of her doing exactly what it is Obama is doing.  As I said once before: Hillary would be like having Jesus in the White House – only the good Jesus, not the bad one “they” keep lying to you about.

But what can we do about it?  Do we go flocking back to Hillary begging she forgive us for tossing her aside as Obama has tossed us aside?  Do we go begging the Log Cabin Republicans to forgive us and help convince their party that now, as they need redefining, is the time to become strong allies with the gay community and reclaim the White House in 2012?  Or do we continue to hold on to what it was Obama promised us and “be patient” even as he pulls the very same, hateful and deceptive language from a hat that those that would have us criminalized do, “pedophiles?”

Tonight, on Rachael Maddow, Howard Dean more than implied that we have to keep pushing for our rights as Martin Luther King continued to push for Obama’s rights.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now — when? — Rabbi Hillel

Obama Administration’s Anti-Gay DOMA Memorandum In Review.

June 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Marriage Equality

ObamaReports are circulating about the Obama Administration’s recent comments in their “Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendant United State’s of America’s Motion to Dismiss” filed in the Smelt case [Case 8:09-CV-00286-DOC-MLG in the United States District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division].  Some blogs are already reporting that the administration equates gay marriage to “incest and child marriage.”  However, after a review of the Memorandum, the reference to “incest” or “marrying children” relating to gay marriage is thus:

Wilkins v. Zelichowski, 140 A.2d 65, 67-68 (N.J. 1958) (marriage of 16-year-old female held invalid in New Jersey, regardless of validity in Indiana where performed, in light of N.J. policy reflected in statute permitting adult female to secure annulment of her underage marriage); In re Mortenson’s Estate, 316 P.2d 1106 (Ariz. 1957) (marriage of first cousins held invalid in Arizona, though lawfully performed in New Mexico, given Arizona policy reflected in statute declaring such marriages “prohibited and void”).

The citing of case law was used to show a states interest in marriage, but it is considered an affront by many in the LGBT community.

A copy of the Removal to Federal Court (with the Original Complaint attached) is available in PDF here.  It is important to note that the arguments made in the USA’s memorandum directly respond to the allegations made in the Complaint.  The following is a summary [as simplified as possible] of the United State’s response to the allegations made by Smelt:

  1. The Court Lacks Jurisdiction:  With this argument, the Defendant claims that because the case was removed from State Court, the Federal Court lacks jurisdiction.  This is a challenge to legal process, rather than directly related to DOMA.  It is interesting to note that the Defendant USA is the party that filed for removal of the action from the California Superior Court into the Federal Courts.  If the Court determines that it lacks jurisdiction, no other points need be argued.  The case will be dismissed.
  2. The Plaintiff’s Lack Standing: Generally speaking, standing under the law asks, does the party have sufficient stake in the controversy to bring a claim?  If the answer is “no” then the party has no grounds for the lawsuit and it must be dismissed.  Again, this is more procedural than with regard to DOMA specifically.  The allegations made by the good ole US of A are that the Plaintiffs’ do not “‘have plans to seek recognition of their . . . California marriage in another state’ … have not established an ‘imminent injury’ and ‘do not suggest that they have applied for any federal benefits, much less been denied any at this point.’”  As with jurisdiction, if the Court determines that Plaintiff lacks standing, no other points need be argued.  The case will be dismissed.
  3. DOMA Is a Valid Exercise of Congress’s Power under the Full Faith and Credit Clause:  The USA cites two factors as to why DOMA is not a violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause being: (i) the Full Faith and Credit Clause “has never been construed to require one State to give absolute deference to another State’s laws in all circumstances; and (ii) because Congress is expressly empowered to prescribe “the Effect” of one state’s laws over another.
  4. DOMA Cannot Be Said to Violate an Asserted “Right to Travel”: The complaint filed by the Smiths does not specify what “Right to Travel” was denied under DOMA.  This could be a “standing” issue as well as they have not shown imminent harm from the policy.  It is obvious that DOMA does violate the Right to Travel; however, as the Federal government is responsible for issuing passports but will not recognize a name change as a result of a “same-sex marriage.”  Therefore, should a passport be issued in the “maiden name” of one spouse, their state issued ID will not match the passport.  This could potentially present problems with security checks, ticketing, hotel accommodations and customs when travelling abroad.  The name on the airline “ticket” must match the name on the identification being used.
  5. DOMA Is Consistent with Equal Protection and Due Process Principles:  Here, the USA argues our of both sides of its mouth, typical in such memorandum as an “in the alternative” sort of argument.  On one point, they argue that DOMA does not violate equal protection because, essentially, gay men can marry a woman.  They further argue that DOMA does not “prohibit gay and lesbian couples from marrying.”  Obviously, DOMA in and of itself does not prohibit gay and lesbian couples from marrying – however, they later admit that, “as a result of their same-sex marriage they will not become eligible for the set of benefits that Congress has reserved exclusively to those who are related by the bonds of heterosexual marriage,” effectively rendering the marriages moot in under DOMA.
  6. DOMA Does Not Violate the Right to Privacy: In this argument, the Court actually sites the pro-choice case, Roe v. Wade, which many of those opposed to marriage wish to be overthrown, which held, “only personal rights that can be deemed ‘fundamental’ or ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,’ are included in this guarantee of personal privacy.”  Thus, the United States argues that marriage is not a fundamental right (fundamental right is a right that is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, they are not two separate test questions).  Some examples of such fundamental rights upheld by courts include: (a) the common law right to self-defense; and (b) the protection of double jeopardy (which was originally found not to be a fundamental right, but later overturned).  There is a distinction between the concept of “Human Rights” and “Fundamental Rights.”  Of interest is the definition of fundamental right in the case, Duncan v. Louisiana, as: “[a right] necessary to an Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty.”
  7. DOMA Cannot Be Said to Infringe Upon any Rights of Speech:  It is widely judicially accepted that “conduct” cannot be considered speech unless it is “inherently expressive.”  The United States argues in the Memorandum that marriage is not inherently expressive and therefore cannot constitute speech.  However, is marriage “inherently expressive?”  To answer that question we can ask the question the Courts will ask to determine if conduct is “speech”: (a) Does the conduct in question convey a particularized message that would be understood by those who viewed it without consideration of the actual speech that accompanies the conduct?  Although the Courts have held that obtaining a marriage license does not constitute speech, using the test question, it seems that the act of marrying would constitute speech.  It is my opinion that there is no legitimate argument that the observer of a marriage ceremony would not understand the message being conveyed, even in the most narrow sense.  However, the United States disagrees claiming that a marriage ceremony does not constitute inherent expression.
  8. DOMA Cannot Be Said to Infringe Upon any “Right” under the Ninth Amendment:  The Ninth Amendment states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  The United States argues in the memorandum that the Ninth Amendment does not provide for any right but is used for construction purposes.  It’s my opinion that they are correct in the interpretation of the Ninth Amendment because the concern at the time of ratification was that the “Bill of Rights” being listed would limit rights not otherwise enumerated.  Therefore, the Ninth Amendment’s intention was to prevent rights not listed from being diminished.  However, this means that rights to federal marriage benefits cannot be dismissed or diminished even though such rights are not enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

So that is the response of the Department of Justice to the Complaint, generally.  The question thus remains, “Is the memorandum, written by attorneys for the Department of Justice, on behalf of the United States of America, whose Chief Executive Officer is Barack Obama, the opinion of the President of the United States?”

The duty of the United States in these cases is to aggressively defend legislation unless such legislation is blatantly unconstitutional.  In the past, Obama has called DOMA ‘abhorrent’ and requested its repeal via legislative means.  However, a direct legislative assault on the federal court’s jurisdiction with regard to DOMA is underway via H.R. 1269 [A bill prohibiting the federal courts from hearings on the constitutionality of DOMA]  These mixed messages are exactly what is frustrating the lowly grass-roots activists while the major LGBT organizations sit back and take Obama’s advice, “Be patient.”

Well Mr. President, we have been patient.  We believed Bill Clinton and he pushed the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, we believed you and you requested the Supreme Court not hear challenges to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  We started believing in the United States again and the American dream only to have that faith stab us in the guts at the passage of Proposition 8, Amendment 2 and the countless other unconstitutional state bans on equality.  There is no time like the present to stand up with those who stood so strongly with you rather than take a “wait and see” attitude.

They have taken away our liberty to marry, they have challenged our pursuit of happiness, they have even taken many of our lives – but they cannot and shall not have our “HOPE.”

Inauguration Declares Equality for All – Except Gays

January 21, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, LGBT News

My hope for enjoying the inauguration as an American and citizen of the world was lost when, openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson’s invocation was not aired due to a “misunderstanding” between HBO and the Obama administration.  The Obama inauguration committee apparently “mistakenly” advised HBO (the network with exclusive broadcast rights) that this very politically charged invocation by Robinson which was seen by many as Obama’s effort to include the gay community, was part of the pre-show and should not air.  I was sick.  I kept imagining how such a mistake could be made in the spirit of inclusion.  Tuesday came and, having took the day off work for the inauguration, I sat myself in front of the TV to watch the event and hope for some sort of “apology” and recognition of all of us as part of this country.  Instead, what I received was a message of equality and diversity, in Black and White.

By now you’ve all heard the controversy regarding Rick Warren’s invitation to deliver the invocation at the Presidential Inauguration.  Many LGBT activists and their allies called the Obama administration out on his invitation to Warren.  Warren, who compared gay marriage to pedophilia, incest and polygamy, did deliver the invocation.  In true religious hypocracy, he said:

Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans. United not by race or religion or by blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us.

When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches and civility in our attitudes—even when we differ.

I died a little inside and the inauguration – what was supposed to be the greatest moment in my life as it relates to the greatness of the United States was now nothing but meaningless sidebar.  Warren, asking God to forgive when “we fail to treat our fellow human beings… with the respect that they deserve…” while he continually fails to treat a large segment of human beings with ANY respect, reminded me of the man who beats the hell out of his wife every night only to apologize the next morning – over and over again.  Stop asking God to forgive you for your wrongs Mr. Warren and start doing something to earn forgiveness from those you are holding under the water.

I then spent the remainder of the inauguration thinking too much about how the statement “equality for all” was met with such great applause – how comments about the end of discrimination and segregation were met with such great fanfare – yet people are still suffering under the foot of those that rule.  We build a wall against the Latinos, we profile the migrant worker, we bash gays and lesbians and disenfranchise our transgendered brothers and sisters – all the while we celebrate our great victory in the civil rights movement, a movement which is now being defined as “black and white” rather than “we the people.”

The following is what you didn’t see:

Gun Sales High After Obama Election – But Why?

November 09, 2008 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

Analysts will argue that the recent spikes in gun sales after an Obama victory are due to gun fanatics fearing that Obama and a Democratic majority Congress will restrict gun laws further.  See: Obama election prompts surge in US gun sales | World news | guardian.co.uk.  However, could that be the real reason, or is there a deeper one?

For years white folk have feared the black man, moving from neighborhood after neighborhood as black neighbors move-in, which lead to the coining of the terms “White Flight.”  Now, as a black/white man prepares to take the highest seat in American government, whites can’t just up and move, so what must they do?  Arm themselves.

Or perhaps, the plot is even more sinister.  A coup perhaps, or perhaps all the media hype about assassination attempts are starting to get to people’s heads… really, who needs an AR-15 assault rifle?

Of course, Obama clearly stated in his pre-election debates and speeches that he will not support any legislation which takes away the right of American’s to bear arms.  But then again, we’ve been told many things by presidents and presidential candidates.  Take the following for example:

George Bush (the First) stated he would not raise taxes.  Then the economy happened and he regrettably was forced into raising taxes.  Or Clinton’s little lie about not having sexual relations with “that woman,” when he did.  Or the bigger lie of George W. Bush, when he stated that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.  But perhaps the most disappointing lie of all was from former President Ronald Reagan who told American voters that he would never forget us.

So perhaps Obama was just saying that, perhaps he will take away the right to bear arms – the near future will tell.