Posts Tagged ‘Same Sex Marriage’

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) publicly announced his support for marriage rights for same-sex couples in a press release Monday.

The second-term Democrat had previously backed civil unions and LGBT rights legislation, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He also co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but he had not voiced support for full marriage rights.


Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan greeted a crowd outside St. Patrick's Cathedral on Easter Sunday in New York.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan greeted a crowd outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Easter Sunday in New York.

Weeks after returning from Vatican City, where he helped elect a new pope for a worldwide church that is struggling with declining numbers and controversy over social issues, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said on two morning talk shows on Easter Sunday that the Roman Catholic Church could be more welcoming of gays and lesbians despite its opposition to same-sex marriage.

In prerecorded interviews with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program “This Week” and Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” on CBS, Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York and one of the leading voices of the Catholic Church in the United States, did not suggest any changes in church teaching. He defined marriage as “one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life,” but, he told Mr. Stephanopoulos, “we’ve got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people.” (more…)

We knew that the Human Right Campaign’s (HRC) red and pink logo in support of gay marriage had spread across the web at a record pace, but Facebook is now confirming that with some numbers. Facebook says that millions of people change their profile photos every day, but on Tuesday,

Credit: Facebook

Credit: Facebook

March 26, the day the HRC asked gay marriage supporters to “paint the town red” with a new logo, 2.7 million  more users changed their photo compared with the previous Tuesday. Profile photo uploads were up by 120 percent, it says. Facebook has more than a billion users.

Facebook doesn’t have exact numbers on whether all those users changed it to the pink and red logo or some variation of it. Facebook did confirm that the rise in uploads occurred after the HRC released its status message encouraging people to change their pictures in support of gay marriage.

“We find that the increase in uploads does indeed start around the time when HRC began urging their Facebook followers to change their profile photos at 1 p.m. EST,” Facebook’s Data Science Team said in a blog post today.


What does The Red Equal Sign MEANS?..



This questions can raise in your minds….We tried to find the answers….

This morning, you may have noticed an onslaught of red equal signs taking over your Facebook feed … and maybe even your Twitter stream. And Instagram. What we’re witnessing here is a social campaign gone viral – and if you’re feeling out of the loop (as obvious as the symbol may be), we’re going to break it down for you.

What’s up with these red equal signs?

The United States Supreme Court is hearing an argument today about Hollingsworth v. Perry, a case that will determine whether California’s controversial Proposition 8 law is constitutional. Prop 8 declares marriage can only be between a man and a woman, so if the Court strikes it down, it will be celebrated as a victory for everyone who supports marriage equality. Tomorrow, the Court will hear United States v. Windsor, which will determine the constitutional fate of DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act. Together, these two cases are by far the deepest the Supreme Court has entered into the debate over marriage.

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To say this is a significant moment in the fight for equal rights is an understatement – even though neither outcome will determine the legality of gay marriage in the U.S., both decisions will have a major impact on how the issue is addressed in the future.

So where did the red and pink icon itself start? The Human Rights Campaign, an organization that advocates for LGBT rights, changed its symbol from a blue and yellow equal sign to the pink on red version today to draw attention to the importance of the Court decisions explained above.

How did it spread so fast?

The HRC is a sizable lobby, and it does a good job of engaging with the Facebook community – right now, over 40,000 shared its original post to spread the word some 23 hours ago, and that’s just from the group’s homepage.

Internet superstars like George Takei helped boost support by re-posting to their popular pages; Takei got over 60,000 “likes” for his post.

And it’s not just Facebook. The red sign migrated to Twitter and Instagram as well – hashtags like #MarriageEquality and #SCOTUS are trending, with people changing their pictures there to the red equal sign, and many others weighing in – including President Obama’s official account:


Taking the sign and running with it

A lot of people are putting individual twists on the symbol, adding some personality to the otherwise identical see of red equal signs.

Now, obviously not everyone in the United States supports marriage equality, or it wouldn’t be as contentious an issue.

In fact, a recent study illustrated how what people express on Twitter differs from actual mainstream opinion, and the same likely holds true for Facebook. And since the Twitter study showed that opinions on Twitter did not match up how people voted for Prop 8, it’s safe to say social media is not an entirely accurate barometer for popular sentiment.

Still, there isn’t an anti-gay marriage symbol gaining nearly as much traction. The closest thing we found was the National Organization for Marriage’s symbol, and while the group didn’t come prepared with a viral-ready image, it is advertising a march on the Capitol today to defend Prop 8 and DOMA.

Social media’s problems predicting actual popular opinion may stem from who uses it. Twitter users skew younger than the general population, so while this marriage equality meme campaign’s popularity doesn’t necessarily mean that mainstream opinion has shifted substantially, it does mean that the kind of people who post on social media – which is generally a younger demographic – hold these views. And that may help presage future popular sentiment, if not how the nation feels on average today.

We still don’t know how the Court will decide these pivotal cases, but at least we can take comfort in the fact that we know how “The Golden Girls” felt about marriage equality:

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Justices question claims that central purpose of marriage is procreation and suggest court may be entering ‘uncharted waters’



The polarisation of the supreme court was laid bare on Tuesday, the first of two days of hearings on gay marriage.

US supreme court justices tore into a central argument of opponents of same-sex marriage on Tuesday as the court heard for the first time arguments over whether gay couples have a constitutional right to wed.

The deep polarisation of the court on social issues was laid bare on the first of two days of hearings on gay marriage, which saw liberal justices shoot down claims that same sex-couples should not be allowed to wed because they cannot procreate, while the conservatives attacked rapid change as undermining centuries of tradition.

But none of the parties in the cases under consideration on Tuesday, involving a 2008 California referendum barring gay marriage, may get the definitive rulings they are seeking. One persistent line of questioning raised the prospect that the court will sidestep a decision on the basis that the plaintiffs – the proponents of the gay-marriage ban – do not have legal standing to bring the case after the state of California declined to do so when the referendum result was overturned by a federal court.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is regarded as the potential swing vote on this issue, raised the question of whether the court should even be hearing the case. He said the court may be entering “uncharted waters” by deciding on who has the right to marry, and wondered aloud why the justices had agreed to hear the case.

“I wonder if this case was properly granted,” he said.

Other justices also pressed questions that appeared to reflect scepticism about whether the supreme court should have taken up Proposition 8.

A second case, over a federal law preventing the government from recognising same-sex unions, is to be heard on Wednesday.

A considerable amount of the questioning from the bench on Tuesday focused on whether the central purpose of marriage is procreation. Charles Cooper, legal counsel for four Californians seeking to uphold the results of Proposition 8, barring gay marriage in the state, told the court on Tuesday that the inability of same-sex couples to have children together meant that to allow them to wed would change the historic definition of marriage.

“We are saying the interest in marriage and the state’s interest and society’s interest in what we have framed as responsible procreation is vital. But at bottom, with respect to those interests, our submission is that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are simply not similarly situated,” he said.

But that position was met with deep scepticism and even derision from several of the justices. Sonia Sotomayor asked how permitting gay couples to marry interfered with procreation. She then pressed Cooper on whether his argument meant that sterile heterosexual couples should not be permitted to wed because they cannot have children.

Kagan leapt in. “Suppose a state said that because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licences anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55. Would that be constitutional?” she asked.

Cooper said it would not, but tried to suggest that age didn’t matter. “I can assure you, if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage,” Kagan said, to laughter from the audience.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg picked up on the theme, asking whether someone serving a life sentence in prison should be prevented from marrying because there is no possibility of them becoming a parent.

Cooper struggled for an answer.

Sotomayor also pressed Cooper on whether it would be acceptable to discriminate against gay couples on grounds other than marriage.

“Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other rational decision-making that the government could make? Denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?” she asked. Cooper said he could not.

Kagan pressed the lawyer on how allowing gay couples to marry possibly harms the state’s interests, as it does not interfere with the right or ability of heterosexuals to procreate. Cooper responded that the real question is whether or not redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would advance the interests of marriage.

The charge against arguments in favour of gay marriage was led by the conservative justice Antonin Scalia. “If you redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, you must permit adoption by same-sex couples, and there’s considerable disagreement among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a single-sex family, whether that is harmful to the child or not. Some states do not permit adoption by same-sex couples for that reason,” he said.

Ginsburg noted sharply that California already permits same sex couples to adopt.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said Scalia may have a point, but there was another interest to consider. “There’s substance to the point that sociological information is new. We have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more. On the other hand, there is an immediate legal injury or what could be a legal injury, and that’s the voice of these children.

“There are some 40,000 children in California that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”

Theodore Olson, counsel for opponents of the gay-marriage ban, said the referendum “walls off the institution of marriage” to gay people – something he said society does not have the right to do.

“It’s an individual right that this court again and again and again has said the right to get married, the right to have the relationship of marriage is a personal right. It’s a part of the right of privacy, association, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.

Scalia challenged Olson to name the date when existing laws on barring gay marriage breached the constitution. “I’m curious. When did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the 14th amendment was adopted?” he asked.

Olson threw the question back by noting that interracial marriage was illegal in some US states until 1967, and asking when that prohibition became illegal.

Scalia pressed the issue, asking whether the bar on gay marriage has always been unconstitutional. Olson said he could not give a specific date. “So how can I decide?” asked Scalia.

The court also heard from the Obama administration, which sent the US solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, to the hearing. He faced questions over the government’s position that California and other states which permit same-sex civil unions must go all the way and allow gay marriage.

Verrilli was asked if that was not unfair, in that it punished those states which have made some steps toward equality by forcing them to introduce a measure they may not want to, while the 30 states that have a total bar on gay marriage would not be obliged to make any change.

The solicitor general responded that the administration would like to see all states permit gay marriage in time.

Justice Alito asked Verrilli if there is not a need to tread carefully with such a sensitive issue.

“You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the internet? I mean, we do not have the ability to see the future. On a question like that, of such fundamental importance, why should it not be left for the people, either acting through initiatives and referendums or through their elected public officials?” he asked.

Verrilli replied that not doing anything also has an impact. “The argument here about caution is an argument that, well, we need to wait. We understand that. We take it seriously. But waiting is not a neutral act. Waiting imposes real costs in the here and now. It denies to the — to the parents who want to marry the ability to marry, and it denies to the children, ironically, the very thing that petitioners focus on is at the heart of the marriage relationship.”

For all the passions and expectations raised by the hearings, the court may yet sidestep the issue – precisely because it is so divisive.

Part of the hearing focused on whether the four private individuals seeking to uphold Proposition 8 – originally five before one pulled out – had the authority to bring the case to the supreme court after theCalifornia state government decided not to defend the measure.

Cooper argued that referendums are designed to force politicians to fulfil the will of the people, and that if ordinary individuals cannot then seek legal redress, that gives those same politicians and officials a means to negate the vote.

“If public officials could effectively veto an initiative by refusing to appeal it, then the initiative process would be invalidated,” he said.

Sotomayor was sceptical. She asked what injury had been created to the four individuals who brought the case to the supreme court.

Cooper responded: “The question before the court, I would submit, is not the injury to the individual proponents; it’s the injury to the state.”

Justice Stephen Breyer described the plaintiffs as “no more than a group of five people who feel really strongly that they should vindicate the public interest”.

Ginsburg wondered whether the court had “ever granted standing to proponents of ballot initiatives?” She questioned why, once the law is passed, it proponents should be granted any special status to see it enforced.

“The proponents are interested in getting it on the ballot and seeing that all of the proper procedures are followed, but once it’s passed, they have no proprietary interest in it. It’s law for them, just as it is for everyone else. So how are they distinguishable from the California citizenry in general?” she asked.

The sceptical questioning from the liberal justices hinted that they had doubts about whether the supporters of Proposition 8 should ever have made it so far as the supreme court. It remains to be seen whether they were persuaded by the arguments in court, and the much lengthier and more detailed written submissions, to take the next step and rule on whether Proposition 8 should stand or fall.

But the supreme court will hear more arguments about the validity of another gay marriage case on Wednesday when they will consider whether Congress has the legal standing to fight to uphold the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex unions, when the Obama administration has repudiated the legislation.

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Clair Sharpless seeks cover from snow with a rainbow umbrella as she waits to enter the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, on March, 25, 2013. (Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The meaning of marriage.

It’s an issue that does not get more basic, yet the complexity surrounding the legal, social, and political implications of expanding that right to gays and lesbians is now squarely before the Supreme Court.

The justices launch an epic public dialogue on Tuesday when they hear oral arguments in the first of two appeals to state and federal laws restricting same sex marriage. The second round will be on Wednesday.

However, the real challenge and drama will come when they go behind closed doors later this week and vote as a group — at least preliminarily — on questions presented in cases with landmark potential.

The political, social, and legal stakes of this long-simmering debate have once again put the high court at the center of national attention, a contentious encore to its summer ruling upholding the massive health care reform law championed by President Barack Obama.

The outcome in this one could have profound influence on how America defines family. The court is likely to take its time and not act before June.

The drama inside the ornate marble courtroom will be matched by heated rhetoric outside.

Hundreds of activists on both sides will hold competing rallies in front of the court. Dozens of others have waited in line in frigid temperatures and snow — some since Thursday– for a coveted seat.

Prop 8: California’s law

On Tuesday, the justices were set to hear arguments concerning the appeal of a federal judge’s decision that struck down down California’s Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The overriding legal question is whether the 14th Amendment guarantee of “equal protection” prevents states from defining marriage as California has.

California voters approved it as a ballot initiate by 52-48% in November 2008, less than six months after the state Supreme Court ruled marriage was a fundamental right that must be extended to same-sex couples.

Two of the key plaintiffs are Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo from Burbank.They want to marry, and say the state is discriminating against them for their sexuality.

“Stigma is stigma. And discrimination is discrimination,” Katami told CNN. “I think that any time there’s discrimination in the country it needs to be addressed and it needs to be taken care of. And that’s why we feel that anytime in our history when there’s been racial discrimination or sexual discrimination of orientation or in particular marriage at this point that we always bend toward the arch of equality.”

There are an estimated 120,000 legally married same-sex couples in the United States. It is legal in nine states: Washington, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, and New York, along with the District of Columbia.

Another nine states have civil union or strong domestic partnership laws, that stop short of marriage.

The Obama administration has formally expressed support for same-sex marriage in California, weighing in on the case in a brief last month. Obama, whose views on the issue have evolved over his political career to full support, said that he would vote to strike down the state’s law if he sat on the court.

In what some have labeled the “nine-state strategy,” the Justice Department argument is expected to center around the idea that civil union and domestic partnership laws may themselves be unconstitutional and that those states should go all the way and grant same-sex couples full marriage rights.

A politically charged issue

Other prominent politicians have expressed timely opinions in recent weeks, indicating the importance of the matter in the social context of 21st century American politics.

Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, recorded a video for a gay rights group indicating her support.

Republicans have described cracks appearing in their party’s long-held opposition to same-sex marriage.

“There is no putting this genie back in the bottle. It is undeniable. The shift is here and we’re not going back.” Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ana Navarro said on Sunday.

One prominent Republican, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, endorsed it this month after his son revealed to him that he was gay.

A new national poll indicates increasing public awareness around the issue and stronger overall support for same-sex marriage specifically.

According to the CNN/ORC International survey, 57% say they have a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian, up 12 points from 2007. Also, the number of Americans who support same-sex marriage has risen by almost the same amount over the same period – from 40% in 2007 to 53%.

In its separate argument on Wednesday, the justices will tackle the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law defining marriage for federal purposes as between a man and a woman.

That means legally married gay and lesbian couples are denied federal benefits and privileges — things like tax breaks and survivor benefits.

Backers of DOMA and Proposition 8 say it should be up to the public to decide, not the courts.

“Our most fundamental right in this country is the right to vote and the right to participate in the political process, ” said Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian advocacy group.

“We don’t need the Supreme Court to take that right away from Americans of good faith on both sides of this issue and impose its judicial solution,” Nimocks said. “We need to leave this debate to the democratic process, which is working.”

But California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is arguing against Proposition 8, said voter-approved marriage bans “are simply unconstitutional.” The Supreme Court has ruled more than a dozen times that marriage is a fundamental right, “and as it relates to a fundamental right, the court will hold that under the highest level of scrutiny.”

By patiently letting legislatures and the voters decide the social and practical implications of same-sex marriage over the past decade, the high court is now poised to perhaps offer the final word on the tricky constitutional questions.

The split 5-4 conservative-liberal bench has the option of ruling broadly or narrowly– perhaps taking a series of incremental cases over a period years, building political momentum and public confidence in the process.

The case heard Tuesday is Hollingsworth v. Perry (12-144), dealing with Proposition 8; and U.S. v. Windsor (12-307) on comes up on Wednesday over the DOMA issue.