By Georgetown/ On Faith, Published: July 23 at 5:31 pm
Anti-gay marriage protesters lost in Maryland in 2012. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)
QUOTE OF THE DAY |
“I do believe, and I still will tell you that our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Our party believes that life begins at conception. I think those are foundational issues that aren’t going anywhere but what I have said, which I don’t think should be controversy at all and I would think that Christians and pastors and everyone in between should agree that our principles have to be draped in the concepts of grace, love and respect and that’s not code language. That’s the New Testament so I don’t think there should be any problem with that thinking in our party. If you’re looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics. ”
On Tuesday, an official in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County made a decision that he said would put him "on the right side of history and the law." He decided that he would issue a same-sex marriage license to anyone who wanted it.
In Pennsylvania, same-sex marriage is illegal, but Register of Wills Bruce Hanes said in a press release that he made his "own analysis of the law." He also noted that the state's attorney general announced on July 11 that she would not defend that state's gay marriage ban against a legal challenge by theAmerican Civil Liberties Union. At least one same-sex couple has already been married in Montgomery County.
In the end, little may change in Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) is likely to make sure the state's gay-marriage ban is defended in court, and Mr. Hanes's protest might not survive legal scrutiny. But the ferment in Pennsylvania is indicative of a brewing fight in gay marriage's "battleground states." With Delaware, Minnesota, and Rhode Island all legalizing same-sex marriage this year, advocates on both sides of the issue are preparing to spend millions of dollars in a handful of states that could follow their lead.
Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon are at the top of the list, legal experts say. But there is unlikely to be a stampede toward the acceptance of gay marriage, despite the Supreme Court's two landmark rulings this summer.
"It is unlikely that all states will adopt same-sex marriage in the foreseeable future," says Jack Tweedie, director of children and families program at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. "The political solution is a state-by-state one, and it will be slow."
Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage, while 37 states ban or do not recognize same-sex marriage. No one expects to see any movement in the South or parts of the Great Plains or inland West. However, a switch may be more realistic in states that already have civil unions for same-sex couples, or have ballot initiatives for legalizing same-sex marriage moving forward
Before adjourning in May, the Hawaii Legislature failed to vote on several same-sex marriage bills and is expected to reconvene for a vote in January.
Gay-marriage proponents in New Jersey see an opportunity for overturning last year’s veto of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage by Gov. Chris Christie (R); the override would require 27 Senate and 54 House votes, where Democrats rule 24 to 16 and 48 to 32, respectively.
A gay marriage bill passed the Illinois Senate in February and had the backing of Gov. Pat Quinn (D), but was voted down in the House in May. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the gay rights group Lambda Legal filed a motion in Cook County Circuit Court earlier this month, arguing the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.
In Oregon, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is on the books, but a referendum to overturn it will take place in November 2014 if it can collect 116,000 signatures. If it is successful, it will come the first state to overturn such a ban.
Intensifying the debate is the fact that, in all four states, polling shows that the majority of residents support some form of same-sex marriage.
Freedom to Marry, a gay-rights group based in Washington, is spending more than $6 million to push same-sex marriage in all four states by 2014, and it plans to raise an additional $2 million by the end of the year. The organization then plans to turn its efforts to six more states by 2016. Possible contenders, the organization says, are Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
For its part, the American Civil Liberties Union hired Republican political strategist Steve Schmidt, who worked for President George W. Bush and was a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, to lead an effort to gain Republican support in these states. The organization says it will spend nearly $10 million on such efforts during the next four years.
Proponents of traditional marriage say efforts to turn back these bans will fail because voters have spoken.
Gay advocates are “hugely overplaying their hand. These are states where gay marriage advocates have been saying for months, if not years, that gay marriage is inevitable and they’ve made no progress,” Thomas Peters, a spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), based in Washington, told Reuters earlier this month.
In April, NOM said it would spend $250,000 to defeat any Republican legislator in Illinois or New York who voted to support same-sex marriage bills.
Ohio has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; James Obergefell and John Arthur have been together for two decades and got married earlier this month in Maryland because Arthur has Lou Gehrig’s disease, and is expected to die within weeks.
U.S. District judge Timothy Black issued a temporary restraining order Monday, recognizing Obergefell as Arthur’s spouse, and suggested that failing to recognize the couple’s out-of-state union violated their rights to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
“This is not a complicated case,” Black wrote. “The issue is whether the State of Ohio can discriminate against same sex marriages lawfully solemnized out of state, when Ohio law has historically and unambiguously provided that the validity of a marriage is determined by whether it complies with the law of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated.”
While the ruling is temporary and limited to Obergefell and Arthur, the case could ultimately have broader implications. The court will hold a more extensive briefing on the issue in the future, noted Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s marriage project director, and any final ruling could be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This is particularly tragic and compelling case and it shows to all of us in the country, not just those of us who are gay or those of us who are in the judiciary, but to all Americans, the degree of commitment shown by many gay couples and their desire to take care of each other in the worst time of life that any of us can imagine,” Taylor said.
The case not only sends a powerful message, Taylor said, but she said Black’s “reasoning is sound” and could form the basis for a broader challenge to state bans on same-sex marriage: “This decision foreshadows what will happen to marriage bans across the country.”
In practical terms, the ruling will allow Obergefell’s name to be added to the death certificate as Arthur’s surviving spouse, give him access to federal and state benefits, and allow him to be buried next to Arthur in his family cemetery where the plot is restricted to direct descendants and spouses.
“This is yet another example of an activist federal judge substituting his views for those of the people. The people of Ohio have determined through overwhelmingly enacting their state marriage amendment that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and the federal government must respect that decision,” said Frank Schubert, national political director for the National Organization for Marriage.
During the runup to the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, one number kept recurring: The government’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages meant gay couples were denied more than 1,000 federal benefits that straight couples enjoy. Now that the justices have struck down DOMA, gays can look forward to equality under U.S. tax laws. That is, just as soon as the Internal Revenue Service can figure out how to make equality happen. The tax agency has promised to “move swiftly” to recognize gay unions, but for many couples it won’t be as simple as checking the “married” box on their 1040.
Those living in Washington, D.C., or the 13 states that allow same-sex marriages can file a federal tax return next April just like other married couples. Not so for the thousands of gay couples who took their vows in one of those states but who live in one of the 37 others where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized. It’s not yet clear whose definition of marriage the IRS is supposed to follow in evaluating their taxes—the state where the couple got married, or the one in which they reside. And will the federal government recognize gay couples in civil unions who file a joint return?
To avoid confusion, a single nationwide rule makes the most sense, says Patricia Cain, a tax law professor at Santa Clara University in California. “The IRS has the power to construe the Internal Revenue Code,” she says. “So for them it’s, ‘What does the word spouse mean?’ ” President Obama has weighed in, saying it’s his “personal belief” that same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as married couples regardless of where they live. He’s asked federal agencies to research legal issues that might stand in the way. Such a ruling, though, could cause headaches for the IRS, which until now has typically followed states’ definitions of marriage, says David Herzig, a tax law professor at Valparaiso University. “You may solve this problem,” he says, “but you may open up another.”
Many gay couples might not like what marriage equality looks like on a tax form. Until now, they’ve been able to take advantage of their separate status to maximize tax savings—claiming multiple capital-loss deductions unavailable to opposite-sex married couples or multiple tax credits for adopting children. Straight married spouses with roughly equal incomes typically pay a marriage penalty under the tax code, because more of their income is subject to higher marginal tax rates. Gay couples would get hit with the same penalty. And unless the IRS exempts them from paying back taxes, some same-sex married couples could owe penalties for underwithholding during the time they’ve been married, even though the federal government didn’t recognize their unions until now.
On the other hand, gay couples with unequal incomes would get the same marriage bonus as straight couples and could seek a refund for the extra taxes they paid in recent years. Typically the IRS allows taxpayers three years to redo their tax returns. “One of the biggest issues is what to do retroactively,” says Elda Di Re, a partner at Ernst & Young in New York. “One would think that the IRS will allow there to be filing refunds—but not mandate filing to pay additional tax.”
Another potential mess: what to do about payroll taxes workers paid on employer-provided health insurance for their same-sex spouses, which isn’t taxable for married couples. The IRS could allow refunds, and then businesses would have to figure out how to distribute them to employees and ex-employees. Some companies pay married gay employees extra to cover their health-care tax burdens; they would have to decide whether to seek reimbursements from workers who get income tax refunds. And the IRS has to figure out whether or how to tax alimony payments from gay marriages that end in divorce, and money inherited from the retirement account of a same-sex spouse.
All these decisions will be made with a skeptical—and sometimes hostile—Congress ready to call foul. The IRS is already under scrutiny for its clumsy probes of political groups, and its efforts to formalize gay marriage in the tax code are likely to provoke congressional hearings and lawsuits. “No matter what they do,” says Herzig, “it’s such a volatile issue they’ll end up getting a challenge.”
The bottom line: The IRS, which usually follows states’ definitions of marriage, must find a way to give gay couples nationwide equal treatment.
Rubin is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Washington.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
July 16, 2013 1:43 pm
Gay marriage supporters are launching a $2 million statewide campaign to approve same-sex marriage in Illinois.
Illinois Unites for Marriage is a coalition representing gay rights, civil rights and political groups.
In a statement Tuesday, the group says it will place 15 field organizers throughout the state to engage supporters. They plan to target legislators who oppose a measure to lift Illinois' ban on same-sex marriage.
The Illinois Senate passed the bill in February. It wasn't called for a vote in the House because the bill's sponsor said it didn't have the votes to pass.
Jim Bennett is chairman of the coalition. He says the next few months are critical because lawmakers could take up the bill in the fall.
Opponents say marriage should be between a man and woman.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: July 15, 2013
The California Supreme Court refused Monday to order the state to immediately stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The court denied a request made by backers of Proposition 8, a voter-approved ban on gay marriages, for an emergency order that would have required the state to keep enforcing it while they pursue a legal effort to preserve it. The United States Supreme Court in June dismissed the backers’ appeal of a ruling that found the ban unconstitutional, saying the backers lacked authority to defend Proposition 8 after the governor and attorney general refused to do so. The State Supreme Court will still consider whether the lower court ruling against the ban applied only in Los Angeles and Alameda Counties, where two couples who sued to strike down the ban live.
Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, said on Thursday that she would not defend the state against a lawsuit to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage.
Ms. Kane, a Democrat, traveled from Harrisburg, where the suit was filed in Federal District Court on Tuesday, to make her announcement at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. She quoted from Pennsylvania’s Constitution forbidding discrimination “against any person” and said that “disparate treatment” based on race, religion and ethnic origin were no longer tolerated, and “it is now the time here in Pennsylvania to end another wave of discrimination.”
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union with 23 plaintiffs, including 10 gay and lesbian couples, two teenage children of one couple and a widow who lost her partner of 29 years, cites a ruling last month by the Supreme Court striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
It was the first of a wave of lawsuits that activists are planning to file to expand the number of states allowing same-sex marriage, including in Virginia and North Carolina.
Attorneys general in Illinois and California have previously declined to defend their states in similar cases. In Pennsylvania, the general counsel’s office of Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, was seen as likely to pick up the defense.
Ms. Kane, who was elected attorney general last year and has been mentioned as a possible future candidate for governor, struck a political note in her brief announcement to an audience that cheered and applauded her decision.
“I looked at it this way, the governor’s going to be O.K.,” she said. She wondered, she added, who would represent “the Daves and Robbies, who represents the Emilys and Amys?”
You’re a best-selling author. Your beloved sci-fi novel that’s been a fan favorite for decades is about to come to the silver screen. You can expect more fame, adulation, money, right? Wait just a second! You dared to speak out against gay marriage? Welcome to the new blacklist.
Orson Scott Card, author of the popular sci-fi fantasy “Ender’s Game,” which was just made into a film set to release this fall, is coming under fire from the left for his pro-traditional-marriage views. According to Huffington Post, an “online protest” broke out to blacklist the new movie based on Card’s book because of his conservative views and opposition to the gay agenda. As HuffPo reported, LGBT activists are taking aim at Card for his “controversial” “anti-gay stance.”
The LGBT group Geeks OUT is spearheading a boycott of the movie called “Skip Ender’s Game.” According to the official website the group wants to “send a clear and serious message to Card” because of his “anti-gay activism – whatever he’s selling, we’re not buying.”
“Do not buy a ticket at the theater,” urged the Geeks OUT group, “do not purchase the DVD, do not watch it on-demand. Ignore all merchandise and toys.” The site went on to insist that the “queer geek community” wants to keep its money away from Card because of his supposed “fear-mongering and religious bullying.”
Card previously ruffled liberal feathers because of his uncompromising stance on gay marriage, and this is certainly not the first time he’s come under fire for it. But despite backlash, Card remained a steadfast supporter of traditional marriage. He joined the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in 2009 and frequently wrote articles opposing homosexual “marriage.” In response to the boycott, Card suggested that he’s interested to see whether “proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them.”
Alliance Defending Freedom and the Pacific Justice Institute have filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court that asks the court to review the case of a University of Toledo employee fired simply because she wrote an opinion column in her own personal name with a viewpoint that university officials didn’t like.
The university fired Crystal Dixon, who works in the school’s Human Resources department, after she wrote a short op-ed responding to a local newspaper’s editorial that compared the efforts of homosexual activists to the black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. As an African-American, Dixon respectfully disagreed with the paper’s editorial. She did not mention her job at the university.
“Universities should be the marketplace of ideas, not environments where officials dictate conformity to their own views even outside of the campus,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. “Seventy years of legal precedent make it clear that government officials have no authority to rob public employees of their First Amendment freedom of speech outside of work on a non-work-related matter.”
“University officials cannot mandate that all employees, in their personal capacities, have the same opinion as they do. This much is extremely clear in First Amendment law,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot.
After the paper published Dixon’s column, the university wrote its own in opposition to Dixon’s point of view and then terminated her employment.
In 2006, the Supreme Court wrote, “It is well settled that ‘a State cannot condition public employment on a basis that infringes the employee’s constitutionally protected interest in freedom of expression.’” In a different case in 1995, the high court also wrote, “Even though respondents work for the Government, they have not relinquished ‘the First Amendment rights they would otherwise enjoy as citizens to comment on matters of public interest.’”
The brief filed with the Supreme Court in Dixon v. University of Toledo explains that the university “fired Dixon for writing the op-ed, because they deemed it not in ‘accord’ with the ‘values’ of the University of Toledo. They ignored that she wrote as a citizen and it was the university who publicly exposed her as an employee. In [the university’s] view, any public disagreement with the university’s values, even though those values were neither the subject of the original editorial nor Dixon’s op-ed, warranted Dixon’s dismissal from employment.”
When Dixon sued over her termination, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit rejected her First Amendment claim because she was a public employee.
“In doing so, the Sixth Circuit ignored seventy years of precedent establishing that if ‘there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein,’” states the brief, which was filed together with Kevin Snider, chief counsel of Pacific Justice Institute and one of nearly 2,300 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom.
Pre-marital and casual sex have, in many ways, become societal norms. When young people take abstinence pledges, they are seemingly in a minority. As unrestricted sex becomes more prominent or, at the least, more accepted, many argue that its effects are nothing to worry about.
“Times have changed” and “It’s no big deal” are familiar mantras. But a new study may call these dismissals into question, as it found that casual sex may lead to depression and anxiety among college students.
Published in “The Journal of Sex Research,” the study, entitled, “Risky Business: Is There an Association Between Casual Sex and Mental Health Among Emerging Adults?,” found that students who have had casual sex had higher levels of social and general anxiety and depression,reports Science Daily. It was led by Dr. Melina M. Bersamin of California State University, Sacramento.
For the purposes of the study, “casual sex” was defined as having sex with someone that a respondent had known for less than a week. The online survey included 3,907 heterosexual students, ages 18 to 25, from over 30 schools across the U.S. About 11 percent of students reported having such an encounter the month before the survey (and the majority were men).
“For emerging-adult college students, engaging in casual sex may elevate risk for negative psychological outcomes.” the abstract for the study proclaims.
While one research endeavor isn’t the end all, be all, Bersamin claims that the results show that “casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress.” There were no disparities in gender when it came to the impact of casual sex.
Considering that society continues to loosen up in this arena, the potential results and impact are essential to consider.