State and national LGBT civil rights groups areÂ responding to the NJ Superior Court’s ruling this afternoon that demands marriage begin for same-sex couples.
Garden State Equality
â€œWe have been saying it for months and it stands true today: through litigation or legislation, we will win the dignity of marriage this year,” said Troy Stevenson, Executive Director, Garden State Equality, via an email statement. “We just won the first round through litigation and we will continue to fight until we guarantee marriage for all New Jersey couples.â€
Indeed, immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its DOMA decision in June, Stevenson said:
â€œWhen I took this job six months ago, I declared that this year New Jersey would have marriage equality. People scoffed, they laughed, and they said no. Iâ€™m going to stand before you today and say whether itâ€™s through litigation or legislation, I promise you with no reservation that New Jersey will have marriage equality before the end of this year.â€
Via Facebook today, GSE added that “there is still work to be done, but this is a historic day!!!!”
Freedom to Marry
â€œTodayâ€™s court decision affirms what loving and committed couples in New Jersey have known all along: civil union is no substitute for the protections and dignity of marriage,” Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, said via an email statement.Â “Every day of denial in New Jersey is an emotional and tangible burden on same-sex couples and their families. Now that civil union has been proven unconstitutional in the court of law, itâ€™s the time for the legislature to act quickly. As a lead partner of NJ United for Marriage, Freedom to Marry is working hard to secure the votes needed to override Governor Christieâ€™s veto on New Jerseyâ€™s freedom to marry legislation so that the long wait ends for committed couples in the Garden State.â€
Human Rights Campaign
â€œCivil unions are separate and unequal, particularly in light of this yearâ€™s historic Supreme Court term,â€ said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin.Â â€œThere are no rational arguments why couples in New Jersey should be relegated to second class status.Â State officials should not appeal this sound decision and no longer stand in the way of loving couples being able to make a lifelong commitment with full state and federal recognition.â€
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund Â
“This is a significant victory for same sex couples in New Jersey,” Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Lesbian and Gay Task Force said via an email statement.Â “The state’s motto is ‘Liberty and Prosperity’. Now lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples will get the chance to experience the ideas behind the motto through the freedom to marry. We applaud Garden State Equality, New Jersey United for Marriage, ACLU and Lambda Legal on today’s victory. We’ll celebrate today, andÂ tomorrowÂ we will continue the hard work of changing legislator’s hearts and minds until the freedom to marry is guaranteed for all New Jerseyans.”
American Civil Liberties Union
â€œThis is a great day for all of New Jersey. The court has recognized the love and commitment that same-sex couples share is no different from anyone elseâ€™s,â€ said Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey. â€œThe U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™s decision in Windsor to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act made it clear that civil unions discriminate against same-sex New Jersey couples. Todayâ€™s decision leaves no doubt that only the freedom to marry provides the equality that same-sex families deserve. We encourage the state to respect the courtâ€™s decision and to not further prolong the inequality suffered by New Jersey families. The ACLU-NJ will continue to work with our allies across the state to encourage the legislature to bring full equality to New Jersey as soon as possible.”
â€œThe court got it exactly right. Civil unions arenâ€™t marriage, and they arenâ€™t equal,â€ said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. â€œNo married couple would trade the word â€˜marriageâ€™ for the words â€˜civil union.â€™ But while we praise todayâ€™s ruling, committed same-sex couples shouldnâ€™t have to wait for the courts. The legislature should grant them the freedom to marry now.â€
“The Supreme Court opened the door to federal benefits, and now the Court in New Jersey has ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry,” Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director said. “This news is thrilling. We argued that limiting lesbians and gay men to civil union is unfair and unconstitutional, and now the Court has agreed. The end of DOMA made the freedom to marry even more urgent than before because the state stood between these families and a host of federal protections, benefits, rights and responsibilities. With this ruling, our clients and all of New Jerseyâ€™s same-sex couples are at the threshold of the freedom to marry.”
Speaker Christine C. Quinn
â€œTodayâ€™s court ruling declaring the State of New Jersey can no longer deprive same-sex couples the right to marry is a victory for civil rights across America,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn via an email statement.Â “I applaud Judge Mary Jacobson for sending a clear message to the nation – that no one should be denied the security and benefits of marriage because of who they are, or who they love.
“This decision marks another important step in the march toward full equality and justice for all Americans.Â Those who stand in the way of justice fail to understand something fundamental about the American people: that we are a nation founded on the belief that equality is not a gift to be granted or taken away, but an inexorable part of what makes us human. I thank Lawrence Lustberg and his team from Gibbons PC and Hayley Gorenberg of Lambda Legal for their tireless efforts to bring marriage equality to New Jersey, and our nation. Todayâ€™s ruling advances the efforts of New York Cityâ€™s own Edie Windsor and further underscores the impact of the bravery of Edie and the legal work of Roberta Kaplan.
“We will not stop fighting until all Americans are recognized as fully equal.â€
New Jersey United
“Clearly this is a monumental decision and a tipping point in the fight for marriage equality in New Jersey,” said Michael Premo, campaign manager for New Jersey United For Marriage via an email statement. “The court saw what over 60% of New Jerseyans believe: that all loving, committed couples deserve the freedom to marry.
â€œStill, we realize this is not the end. Rather than wait for the continued deliberations by the judiciary, we must continue our work in Trenton. NJUM is committed to ending the injustices faced by loving and committed couples as quickly as possible and urges the Legislature to enact the freedom to marry before January 14th.â€
â€” NJ United (@NJ4Marriage) September 27, 2013
Marriage Equality USA
“It’s a brand new day since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark marriage decisions in June,” MEUSA Legal and Policy Director John Lewis said via an email statement. “While today’s decision may be appealed, it shows the accelerating pace of progress towards the day when all New Jersey couples are treated equally under the law.
“The people of New Jersey favor equal marriage rights by margins of 2-1 in the latest polls,” said MEUSA Program Director Tracy Hollister. “Because this decision can be appealed, we need everyone to continue to work in both the courts and legislature to make marriage equality a reality in New Jersey.
“We will not rest until we have full equality from coast to coast,” said MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva. “Marriage Equality USA and our project, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), appreciate the tremendous momentum generated by today’s ruling as we continue the day-to-day work of making the freedom to marry a reality in New Jersey and nationwide.”
Family Equality Council
â€œTodayâ€™s decision is a major victory for New Jersey families, especially the approximately 3,300 same-sex couples in the state who are raising more than 6,000 children,â€ said Family Equality Council Executive Director Gabriel Blau via an email statement. â€œMarriage will provide their children the necessary legal and economic stability they need in life. We call on New Jersey officials to respect this decision and to respect the freedom of loving couples who wish to demonstrate their commitment to each other and their families.â€
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‘Vulgar and Lewd’: Trump Judge Cites Extremist Group to Allow Drag Show Ban
A federal judge in Texas known for a ruling that attempted to ban a widely-used abortion drug is citing an extremist anti-LGBTQ group in his ruling allowing a ban on drag shows to stay in place.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a former attorney for an anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian legal organization, and a member of the Federalist Society, in his 26-page ruling dated Thursday cited the “About” page of Gays Against Groomers to claim, “it’s unclear how drag shows unmistakably communicate advocacy for LGBT rights.”
Judge Kacsmaryk, appointed by Donald Trump twice before finally assuming office in 2019, suggests the First Amendment does not provide for freedom of expression for drag shows, calls drag “sexualized conduct,” and says it is “more regulable” because “children are in the audience.”
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern adds, “Kacsmaryk’s conclusion that drag is probably NOT protected by the First Amendment conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression. It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people.”
Calling the judge “a proud Christian nationalist who flatly refuses to apply binding Supreme Court precedent when it conflicts with his extremist far-right beliefs,” Stern at Slate writes that Kacsmaryk ruled drag “may be outlawed to protect ‘the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.’ In short, he concluded that drag fails to convey a message, while explaining all the reasons why he’s offended by the message it conveys.”
Stern does not let Kacsmaryk off the hook there.
“From almost any other judge, the ruling in Spectrum WT v. Wendler would be a shocking rejection of basic free speech principles; from Kacsmaryk, it’s par for the course. This is, after all, the judge who sought to ban medication abortion nationwide, restricted minors’ access to birth control, seize control over border policy to exclude asylum-seekers, and flouted recent precedent protecting LGBTQ+ equality,” Stern says.
“He is also poised to bankrupt Planned Parenthood by compelling them to pay a $1.8 billion penalty on truly ludicrous grounds. And he is not the only Trump-appointed judge substituting his reactionary beliefs for legal analysis. We have reached a point where these lawless decisions are not only predictable but inevitable, and they show no sign of stopping: Their authors are still just settling into a decadeslong service in the federal judiciary.”
West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler penned the letter that sparked the lawsuit.
Titled, “A Harmless Drag Show? No Such Thing,” Wendler wrote: “I believe every human being is created in the image of God and, therefore, a person of dignity. Being created in God’s image is the basis of Natural Law. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, prisoners of the culture of their time as are we, declared the Creator’s origin as the foundational fiber in the fabric of our nation as they breathed life into it. Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not.”
Journalist Chris Geidner concludes, “It’s an extremely biased ruling by a judge who has established that he does not care about being overturned — even by the most conservative appeals court in the nation.”
Gaetz Praises GOP Congressman Who Echoes His Call for Change ‘Through Force’
U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL). largely seen as pushing Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s Republican-majority House of Representatives toward shutting down the federal government, is praising and promoting remarks made by a freshman GOP lawmaker that appear to suggest the use of violence. U.S. Rep. Eli Crane‘s comments, posted Friday (below), call for change “through force,” remarks echoing Congressman Gaetz’s recent comments which were denounced by an expert on authoritarianism as fascistic.
“The only way we’re going to see meaningful change in this town is through force,” wrote Congressman Crane, Republican of Arizona atop a three-minute video in which he frames what is now an almost guaranteed government shutdown as a “spending fight.” In his video he says, “the only way you’re gonna get any change in this town is through force.” Gaetz in August had said, “we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C.”
Congressman Crane is a former Navy SEAL. He has promoted the false “Big Lie” conspiracy theory that there was massive fraud in the election President Joe Biden won, and called “on the state legislature to decertify the 2020 election.” He is one of six House Republicans who voted against McCarthy’s speakership all 15 times in January.
“Congressman Eli Crane is a fountainhead of political courage,” said Rep. Gaetz Friday afternoon. “He holds the line.”
Crane recently came under fire for calling Black people “colored,” during debate on his legislation that would force the U.S. Armed Forces to not use any diversity requirements in its hiring practices.
Just days before he won his House seat last year, The Washington Post reported Crane had urged an “audience to look up an antisemitic sermon at a recent campaign stop.”
“Crane said that he was motivated to run because of ‘radical ideologies that are destroying this country’ and that he was most concerned about ‘Cultural Marxism,’ which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as an antisemitic baseless claim gaining traction on the American right.”
“He encouraged the audience to watch a speech by a right-wing pastor who blamed cultural change on a group of German Jewish philosophers and condemned Barack Obama for having a ‘homosexual agenda.'”
“If we don’t wake up,” Crane said, according to the Post, “if we don’t study what they’re doing, and if we don’t put people in influential positions that understand what this war is all about, what they’re trying to do and have and have the courage to call it out, we’re going to lose this country.”
In August, while standing next to Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Congressman Gaetz said, “Mr. President, I cannot stand these people that are destroying our country. They are opening our borders. They are weaponizing our federal law enforcement against patriotic Americans who love this nation as we should.”
“But we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C. And so to all my friends here in Iowa, when you see them come for this man, know that they are coming for our movement and they are coming for all of us.”
At the time, Raw Story reported, “historian and author Ruth Ben-Ghiat called Gaetz comments alarming.”
“What he is saying is that they are not going to have change through elections or through legislation or through reform. They are going to have change through violence,” she warned.
“And that’s how fascists talk,” Ben-Ghiat added. “So, even if Trump is out of the picture, these are people who have adopted methods very familiar to me as a historian of fascism, that violence and corruption and lying that’s what the party is today.”
Image via Shutterstock
‘See How Easy That Is to Say?’: GOP Mocked for ‘Weaponization’ of DOJ Claims as Democratic Senator Gets Indicted
The U.S. Dept. of Justice unsealed an indictment against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez late Friday morning, accusing the New Jersey Democratic lawmaker of bribery as prosecutors showed photos of gold bars and nearly half-a-million dollars in cash stuffed into a jacket that bears his name and the seal of the U.S. Senate.
Many on the left immediately demanded Senator Menendez resign, a demand he is refusing. He will step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which Senate Democrats require when a chair is criminally charged.
It took little time for liberals to mock Republicans who have been claiming President Joe Biden and Democrats in general, along with the “deep state,” have “weaponized” the Dept. of Justice against conservatives, especially after Donald Trump’s four indictments on a total of 91 criminal felonies.
“Let me get this straight,” wrote journalist and progressive SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah. “To the GOP, when DOJ indicts President Biden’s son and a senior Democratic US Senator that is great. But when DOJ indicts Donald Trump for attempting a coup and for 32 counts of Espionage that is DOJ’s ‘weaponization’ of criminal justice?!”
“This is the second time that Sen. Bob Menendez has been indicted for corruption. He needs to resign and allow Gov. Murphy to fill that vacancy with someone who does right by the people of New Jersey,” wrote former Human Rights Campaign press secretary Charlotte Clymer. “See how easy that is to say, GOP?”
Journalist, author, and former Clinton White House aide Keith Boykin posted video of the prosecutor announcing the indictment.
US Attorney Damian Williams shows photos of the Mercedes Benz, gold bars, and cash the government alleges Senator Robert Menendez received in bribes. pic.twitter.com/h4hYYwzKVQ
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) September 22, 2023
Boykin later sarcastically commented, “There goes Biden again weaponizing the Justice Department to prosecute political leaders in his own party.”
“President Joe Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice has now indicted Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and *checks notes* Joe Biden’s son,” observed veteran intelligence officer, activist, and social media personality Travis Akers.
Attorney and former Republican George Conway quickly responded, saying, “senile sleepy Joe is playing 65-dimensional chess again.”
“Menendez should resign. Today,” demanded historian and author Kevin M. Kruse.
“One of the nice things about rule of law is that truly believing in it ensures that you don’t end up as a partisan hypocrite,” observed The Atlantic’s Brian Klaas, an associate professor in global politics at University College London. “If Menendez is guilty, he should go to prison as anyone else would. (And it would be prudent to resign swiftly).”
Meanwhile, some used Friday’s indictment of Sen. Menendez to focus on other political figures.
Foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf, warned, “The Memendez case should have Jared [Kushner] and Clarence [Thomas] ordering extra strength Tums today.”
Rachel Bitecofer, the political strategist and analyst also appeared to point the finger at Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni.
You know who else hid money from the IRS and ran his bribes through his wife?! pic.twitter.com/kWJuAPCtbJ
— Rachel Bitecofer 📈🔭🇺🇲🇺🇦 (@RachelBitecofer) September 22, 2023
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