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Law, Unwrapped: Gay Marriage – Why Chris Christie Is Wrong On All Counts



“Take it to the people!”

That’s the rallying cry du jour of those who oppose marriage equality. And it has a certain, superficial appeal: Given the importance of the issue, doesn’t it make sense to let the whole population decide rather than the legislature?

So argues New Jersey  Governor Chris Christie, who wasted little time delivering his promised veto of a marriage equality bill that the legislature comfortably passed. Most readers will recall his infamous statement that African-Americans would have liked to have avoided those pesky civil rights struggles by having their legal status put to a popular vote. Well, a few folks not-quite politely suggested that approach might not have gone so well. So Christie did a clumsy, two-step back pedal (first claiming that blacks would have liked the option of having their rights placed on the ballot, and then caving completely and taking it all back).

But the whole dust-up pinpoints the problem with his approach: We don’t put civil rights on the ballot, because the majority has its own interests and prejudices, and can’t be counted on to do what in hindsight is obviously the right thing. That’s sometimes true of legislatures, too – after all, they voted in the Jim Crow laws – but at least there’s reason to hope that our democratically elected representatives will take the longer view. I could go into some political theory about representative democracy here, but it’s not my job to educate the good governor. One lesson from New Jersey itself suffices: In 1915, Garden State voters were asked whether women should be allowed to join the men in the exercise of the franchise.

Their answer?  No.

The Nineteenth Amendment, which finally gave women the right to vote, and ratified by state legislatures just five years later, was needed to fix what New Jersey voters would not. Really, need any more be said?

Except for rare slip-ups like Christie’s, you won’t hear the anti-equality brigade mentioning these inconvenient historical facts, though. The “let the people decide” narrative is compelling – except when it isn’t. Thus, in New Hampshire they’re pressuring the legislature to roll back marriage equality because they know the voters aren’t likely to turn back time. (A Republican-sponsored measure to send the voters a constitutional amendment stealing gay couples’ right to marry was quietly shelved.) And let’s not forget that, just a few years ago, the cry was that marriage equality was being foisted on a helpless populace by evil, anti-democratic courts. So democracy was OK until they stopped getting the results they wanted. Now it’s all about direct democracy. It’s really all about opportunism.

So far, this is working – notably, with Proposition 8. And that was followed by the Maine voters’ decision in 2009 to roll back the marriage equality bill approved by that state’s legislature. The same efforts are likely in Maryland and Washington this year: the anti-equality forces should be able to gather enough signatures to place referenda on the ballot that would repeal marriage equality laws that have already passed (Washington) or soon will (Maryland).

Polls in both states suggest the strategy will fail, and that voters will decide to retain the marriage equality laws. I’m not so sure. The recent history of these measures suggests that favorable poll numbers don’t always translate into victory in these cases. Some think that people are reluctant to tell pollsters their plan to vote down their fellow citizens’ equality. They should be.

I hope I’m wrong, and my guess is that we’ll win at least one of these two fights. If we do, or when we win a popular vote in some other state, the last argument about how marriage equality is being rammed through by a group of elite activists will have been defeated. I’m sure the National Organization for Marriage and like-minded groups are already working on the next set of talking points.

Christie, though, isn’t NOM. He wants to be seen as a reasonable, moderate Republican (which, on some issues, he is). So his veto message was very chatty: Change this to civil unions and then I’ll create an ombudsman to solve the many problems that same-sex couples have encountered in trying to get public and private actors to treat their relationships the same as marriage.

Got all that? I might suggest, instead, that the simplest solution would be to call the relationships marriages. No other relationship will ever carry the same status. Why do you think they created civil unions in the first place?

A quick bit of recent historical context: In the 2006 case, Lewis v. Harris, the New Jersey Supreme Court instructed the legislature to find a way of granting same-sex couples legal equality. But the court, following the example set by the Vermont Supreme Court in 1999, gave the lawmakers an easy out by saying that, well, they didn’t have to call this equality “marriage.” Both state legislatures took the life raft and crafted the civil union compromise – a doomed effort to give same-sex couples all the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of marriage while withholding the name.

By 2009, a decade of experimenting with the civil union had convinced the Vermont legislature that only full marriage equality would suffice, and they passed the bill into law – over the governor’s veto. It’s time for the New Jersey lawmakers to do the same. Whatever individual legislators think about marriage equality, it’s by now clear that they haven’t created the equality that the court was (naively) hoping they would. The only way to carry out the court’s mandate is by defying Gov. Christie’s obfuscating call for an ombudsman and doing what equality demands. If they won’t do it, there’s a case working its way through the state courts that will order them to.

Why not do the right thing now?


Image: Chris Christie by Bob Jagendorf

Were he born 10,000 years ago, John Culhane would not have survived to adulthood; he has no useful, practical skills. He is a law professor who writes about various and sundry topics, including: disaster compensation; tort law; public health law; literature; science; sports; his own personal life (when he can bear the humanity); and, especially, LGBT rights and issues. He teaches at the Widener University School of Law and is a Senior Fellow at the Thomas Jefferson School of Population Health.

He is also a contributor to Slate Magazine, and writes his own eclectic blog. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter if you’re blessed with lots of time.

John Culhane lives in the Powelton Village area of Philadelphia with his partner David and their twin daughters, Courtnee and Alexa. Each month, he awaits the third Saturday evening for the neighborhood Wine Club gathering.

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Watch: Nazis and Proud Boys Clash With Anti-Fascists Outside Texas Church Hosting Drag Queen Bingo



Authorities from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Harris County Sheriff’s Department responded to an anti-LGBTQ protest outside a Texas church on Saturday.

“First Christian Church Katy is hosting a drag bingo fundraiser benefiting the ministry’s Transparent Closet, a free boutique aimed at helping young people in the LGBTQ community in the largely conservative west Houston suburb,” Jay R. Jordan reported for Axios on Friday. “Protect Texas Kids, led by North Texas’ self-described “Christian fascist” Kelly Neidert, plans to protest outside the church, according to a Facebook event from the group.”

The report noted anti-fascist activists were planning a counterprotest.

“Neidert’s protests have drawn support from neo-Nazis and other anti-LGBTQ groups,” Axios reported. “Men in Nazi regalia and alleged Proud Boys wearing Buc-ee’s masks joined Neidert’s protest outside a drag brunch at Hamburger Mary’s downtown in July.”

On Saturday, Jordan posted a video clip from the scene.

“Proud Boys and Kelly Neidert’s Protect Texas Kids are in Katy, Texas, protesting a drag bingo fundraiser at First Christian Church. PB and Houston antifascists just clashed. Heavy police presence dividing the two groups now,” he reported.

He noted “Houston’s Nazis” had arrived and police formed a line between the two sides.

“The group of Nazis appear to be leaving the protest, sporting for the first time today a flag with a swastika. Proud Boys and Patriot Front have also left,” he reported.

Watch below or at this link:


Image: Proud Boys in Washington, D.C. (Johnny Silvercloud /

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‘Pretty Big ‘A-Ha’ Moment’: J6 Staffer Reveals White House Switchboard Called Rioter’s Cell Phone During Insurrection



On Friday, 60 Minutes revealed that Denver Riggleman, a key staffer for the House Select Committee on January 6, discovered the White House switchboard patched through to the phone of a Capitol rioter — while the attack was in progress.

“Riggleman, an ex-military intelligence officer and former Republican congressman from Virginia, oversaw a data-driven operation for the January 6 committee, pursuing phone records and other digital clues tied to the attack on the Capitol. He stopped working for the committee in April,” reported Keith Zubrow.

“You get a real ‘a-ha’ moment when you see that the White House switchboard had connected to a rioter’s phone while it’s happening,” said Riggleman to 60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker. “That’s a big, pretty big ‘a-ha’ moment.”

He added that “I only know one end of that call. I don’t know the White House end, which I believe is more important. But the thing is the American people need to know that there are link connections that need to be explored more.”

This comes after a series of damning revelations about the involvement and support of former President Donald Trump in encouraging the people storming the Capitol.

One of the biggest allegations to come out of the public hearings by the select committee was the claim by former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson that Trump demanded the rioters be allowed onto the premises because “they’re not here to hurt me” — and that he lunged at his security detail in the car after they refused to take him to the Capitol to join the attackers.

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Watch: Torba Warns GOP to Not ‘Disavow or Condemn Us’ Because ‘Christian Nationalists Are the Republican Party’



Far right wing extremist, Christian nationalist, antisemite Andrew Torba, the founder of Gab, the social media platform that is popular with white supremacists, is telling the Republican Party that “80 percent” of its base is Christian nationalists, and warns them to not “condemn” or “disavow” them.

Torba has ties to far right Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano, the Republican party’s nominee for governor of Pennsylvania. Torba has also “endorsed” Arizona GOP secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem, an election-denier and member of the far-right antigovernment group Oath Keepers, and election-denying Arizona GOP state Senator Wendy Rogers.

“We have the numbers, we are the majority. And we are done being the footstool. We are going to wake up the body of Christ in this country. And we’re going to do something about you castrating our children, about you sexually indoctrinating them in the schools, about, you know, taking over our culture and taking over our government and sending all of our money to foreign countries and allowing our border to be invaded,” he says in video published by Right Wing Watch.

READ MORE: ‘Pledging to Sue’: Christian Nationalist GOP Nominee Subpoenaed by J6 Committee ‘Didn’t Answer a Single Question’

Gab is home to QAnon and “great replacement” conspiracy theorists, Trump supporters, MAGA and ultra MAGA extremists, white Christian nationalists, white supremacists, antisemites, and anti-LGBTQ extremists.

“We’re done,” Torba continues in his rant.

“We’re done with it, and we’re going to step up and we’re going to rebuild this fallen and corrupt society from scratch, just as Christians have done many times before. And yes, we absolutely are going to get involved in public discourse and in politics, and you’re not going to shut us up,” Torba declared.

“And it’s a message to the Republican party too that they are not to disavow us,” he warned. “They are not to condemn us, because we are 80% of the Republican Party. Christian nationalists are the Republican Party, and they’re going to start doing the will of God,” he says, appearing to order the Republican Party to meet his demands.

READ MORE: ‘Seize the Power’: Christian Nationalist Doug Mastriano Prayed MAGA Would ‘Rise Up’ Against the Gov’t on 1/6 (Video)

“And they’re going to start, you know, supporting biblical policies, and they’re going to start, you know, fighting back against this and not being complacent or they’re going to get out of the way and we’re going to go in there and we’re going to do it ourselves. Those are their two choices.”

Torba has appeared on Tony Perkins’ Washington Watch show. Perkins is the longtime head of the Family Research Council, which appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

Last week Jewish Insider reported on an “obscure new book calling for the construction of ‘a parallel Christian society’ to replace ‘the failed secular state'” that seemed to be “performing surprisingly well on Amazon.”

That book, Christian Nationalism: A Biblical Guide for Taking Dominion and Discipling Nations, was written by Torba.

Last month the House Committee on Oversight sent Torba a letter “regarding your company’s response to the surge of online threats against law enforcement following the execution of a court-authorized search warrant by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.”

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘Christian Nationalist’ Declaration Is ‘Alarming’ Says Religious Liberty Executive

“We are concerned that reckless statements by the former President and Republican Members of Congress have unleashed a flood of violent threats on social media that have already led to at least one death and pose a danger to law enforcement officers across the United States. We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your company’s platforms,” the letter reads.

But that letter also said, “On August 15, a Pennsylvania man was arrested and charged with making threats of violence against FBI personnel. He wrote on the social media platform Gab, ‘If You Work For The FBI Then You Deserve To Die.’ He also wrote, ‘Every single piece of shit who works for the FBI in any capacity, from the director down to the janitor who cleans their fucking toilets deserves to die. You’ve declared war on us and now it’s open season on YOU.'”

Watch below or at this link:




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