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LGBT Orgs Respond To NJ Court Ruling ‘Same Sex Couples Must Be Allowed To Marry’

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State and national LGBT civil rights groups are responding to the NJ Superior Court’s ruling this afternoon that demands marriage begin for same-sex couples.

Garden State Equality

“We 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.”

Indeed, immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its DOMA decision in June, Stevenson said:

“When 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. I’m going to stand before you today and say whether it’s through litigation or legislation, I promise you with no reservation that New Jersey will have marriage equality before the end of this year.”

Via Facebook today, GSE added that “there is still work to be done, but this is a historic day!!!!”

Freedom to Marry

“Today’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. “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, it’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 Christie’s veto on New Jersey’s freedom to marry legislation so that the long wait ends for committed couples in the Garden State.”

Human Rights Campaign

“Civil unions are separate and unequal, particularly in light of this year’s historic Supreme Court term,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin.  “There are no rational arguments why couples in New Jersey should be relegated to second class status.  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.”

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund  

“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. “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, and tomorrow 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

“This 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 else’s,” said Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “The U.S. Supreme Court’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. Today’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 court’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.”

“The court got it exactly right. Civil unions aren’t marriage, and they aren’t equal,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No married couple would trade the word ‘marriage’ for the words ‘civil union.’ But while we praise today’s ruling, committed same-sex couples shouldn’t have to wait for the courts. The legislature should grant them the freedom to marry now.”

Lambda Legal

“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 Jersey’s same-sex couples are at the threshold of the freedom to marry.”

Speaker Christine C. Quinn

“Today’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. “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.  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. Today’s ruling advances the efforts of New York City’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.”

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.

“Still, 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.”

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

“Today’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,” said Family Equality Council Executive Director Gabriel Blau via an email statement. “Marriage 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.”

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News

Trump’s Scheme for Absolute Immunity From State Prosecutions Forever: Report

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Having successfully obtained delays in his federal trials and his state trial in Georgia, possibly until after the November election, Donald Trump is now seeking an “insurance policy” to protect him from any future state prosecutions if he again becomes president.

The indicted ex-president who turns 78 next month “seems convinced that if he wins another four years in the White House, state prosecutors will still be waiting for him on the other side of his term — ready to put him on trial, or even in prison, just as they are now,” Rolling Stone reports.

“To avoid such risks, the former and perhaps future president of the United States wants Congress to create a very specific insurance policy that would help keep him out of prison forever, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. Trump vaguely alluded to this idea last week outside his New York criminal hush money trial, when he said he has urged Republican lawmakers to pass ‘laws to stop things like this.'”

Trump “has pressured” Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill to do so, describing it as imperative that he signs such a bill into law, if he again ascends to the Oval Office.”

READ MORE: Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

Rolling Stone also notes, “Trump appears fixated on the idea of passing a law to give former American presidents the option of moving state or local prosecutions into a federal court instead, the two sources add.”

Trump “has hinted at a legislative push to limit his exposure to such criminal charges. In an improvised press conference outside the Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday, Trump said he’s been telling the Republican lawmakers who want to attend his trial and show solidarity to focus on legislation instead.”

“We have a lot of ’em. They want to come. I say, ‘Just stay back and pass lots of laws to stop things like this.’”

In 1973, while still President but under the cloud of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon said, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook.”

If Trump is elected in November, he can have his Attorney General drop any federal prosecutions he is currently facing. That may call into question, for some legal experts, the actions of the far-right justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who have delayed ruling on his immunity claim, and U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.

On May 7, Judge Cannon indefinitely suspended the Espionage Act case, also known as the classified documents case, against Donald Trump.

READ MORE: ‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf this week blasted the judge:

“Judge Cannon is not, as commentators and cartoonists would have it, just working on behalf of Trump. She is actively working on behalf of the enemies of the US who have and would benefit from the national security breaches she is effectively defending and making more likely.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) earlier this month declared, “The courts are deliberately delaying justice — and effectively denying it.”

This coming week Americans may get a verdict in the New York criminal case against the ex-president. If it comes, it may be “guilty” or “not guilty,” but it could also be a hung jury, forcing another trial which also would not likely come before the election.

If Trump is elected in November, and can get his “insurance policy” legislation passed, he could possibly avoid all criminal trials for the rest of his life.

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OPINION

Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

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Mike Pence is defending far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, whose ethics and ability to serve on the nation’s highest court are being questioned after The New York Times revealed he had been flying a highly-controversial flag used by the January 6 insurrectionists, neo-Nazis, and a far-right neo-fascist hate group. Democrats are demanding the justice recuse himself from all cases involving Donald Trump and the 2020 presidential election, and some are also demanding his resignation or impeachment.

The former Trump Vice President, in defending Alito, may have made the situation even worse for the 74-year old jurist by highlighting the flag’s ties to revolution and the overthrow of government. In his defense Pence also encourages all Americans to fly the flag: “The ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag is part or our proud heritage of Faith and Freedom and every American should be proud to fly it,” he writes.

“The Appeal to Heaven Flag” dates back centuries, to the American Revolution, but in recent years was very clearly co-opted by the radical religious right and was seen being carried by the insurrectionists during the assault on the U.S. Capitol, some of whom who chanted, “hang Mike Pence,” as he and his family were being whisked away by Secret Service on January 6:

MSNBC columnist Sarah Posner, who for years has been writing about religion and politics, on Thursday noted, “the more one knows about the background of the flag, the more chilling its presence at [Alito’s] house becomes.”

READ MORE: ‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Posner says the flag is “an unmistakable emblem for an influential segment of Christian nationalists who claim the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, contrary to God’s will, and that believers’ spiritual warfare is essential to restoring God’s anointed leader to his rightful office.”

“It was one of numerous Christian nationalist flags and other iconography carried by Trump supporters Jan. 6 and at the Jericho March, a series of prayer rallies that were like jet fuel for the insurrection,” Posner explains. “The Jericho March featured right-wing evangelical and Catholic speakers alongside militants such as conspiracist Alex Jones, Trump’s disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Oathkeepers founder Stewart Rhodes, now serving an 18-year prison sentence for seditious conspiracy and other crimes.”

Posner adds the flag “originated in Revolutionary times as a call to take up arms against unjust rulers who ignored the pleas of their citizens.”

Pence also refers to the Revolutionary War in his defense of Justice Alito, ignoring that the Revolutionary War was won several hundred years ago, and ignoring that a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice promoting the very concept of taking up arms against rulers, unjust or otherwise, is, as constitutional scholar and University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Laurence Tribe wrote, “close to treason.”

Pence calls the “controversy” of Justice Alito’s flag-flying “absurd and anti-historical.” He quotes English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke, promoting his idea of the right to revolution, to replace a government.

In its Bombshell report Wednesday announcing the existence of a second Alito flag tied to the insurrectionists, The New York Times explains the Locke tie to the “Appeal to Heaven” flag.

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

“Since its creation during the American Revolution, the flag has carried a message of defiance: The phrase ‘appeal to heaven’ comes from the 17th-century philosopher John Locke, who wrote of a responsibility to rebel, even use violence, to overthrow unjust rule. ‘It’s a paraphrase for trial by arms,’ Anthony Grafton, a historian at Princeton University, said in an interview. ‘The main point is that there’s no appeal, there’s no one else you can ask for help or a judgment.'”

Coincidentally or not, Grafton’s “trial by arms” seems to echo Trump acolyte Rudy Giuliani’s January 6 speech in which he specifically called for “trial by combat.”

Religious studies scholar Matthew Taylor, quoted in The New York Times’ report on Alito’s “Appeal to Heaven” flag, told CBS News (video below) Christian nationalist leader Dutch Sheets “was given one of these flags and he believed that he received a prophecy when he received this flag, that it was a symbol of a revolution that would take place in America, a spiritual revolution that would reconstitute the United States as a truly Christian nation.”

He adds the “Appeal to Heaven” flag has become a “very potent symbol of Christian nationalism, Christian Trumpism, opposition to abortion, opposition to gay marriage, and the desire for a more Christian America.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump’s Bronx Rally Attendance Claim Fuels Mockery as Aerial Images Show a Different Story

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OPINION

‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

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A senior U.S. district judge is denouncing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s flying of two insurrection-related flags at his homes in Virginia and New Jersey, declaring the actions “improper. And dumb.”

Judge Michael Ponsor, 77, who has served on the federal bench since 1984, writes in a Friday New York Times op-ed that he has “known scores, possibly hundreds, of federal trial and appellate judges pretty well,” and “can’t think of a single one, no matter who appointed her or him, who has engaged or would engage in conduct like that.”

“You just don’t do that sort of thing, whether it may be considered over the line, or just edging up to the margin. Flying those flags was tantamount to sticking a ‘Stop the steal’ bumper sticker on your car. You just don’t do it.”

Justice Alito’s first flag scandal came late last week, when The New York Times reported an upside down U.S. flag had flown at his Virginia home jut days before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. That flag is associated with the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As of January, more than 1200 who were there that day have been arrested and charged with crimes.

Alito blamed his wife, claiming she made the decision to fly the flag upside down, which according to the U.S. flag code should only be done to signal distress. Martha-Ann Alito, her husband claimed, had gotten into an argument with a neighbor and manifested her anger by flying the “Stop the Steal” flag.

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

The second flag scandal came on Wednesday, when The Times again revealed an Alito insurrection-related flag, this time at his New Jersey home, where the Alitos were flying the “Appeal to Heaven” flag which has ties both to the insurrectionists, and to extreme right Christian nationalists.

Justice Alito has not made any public comment defending his second flag.

Judge Ponsor offered up a hypothetical to counter Justice Alito’s claim his wife was to blame, in this case, an example of him presiding over a death penalty case.

“Let’s say my wife was strongly opposed to the death penalty and wished to speak out publicly against it. I’m not saying this is true, but let’s imagine it. The primary emotional current in our marriage is, of course, deep and passionate love, but right next to that is equally deep and passionate respect. We would have had a problem, and we would have needed to talk,” Ponsor explained.

“In this hypothetical situation, I hope that my wife would have held off making any public statements about capital punishment, and restrained herself from talking about the issue with me, while the trial unfolded. On the other hand, if my wife had felt strongly that she needed to espouse her viewpoint publicly, I would have had to recuse myself from presiding over the case, based on the appearance of partiality.”

READ MORE: ‘Going for the Jugular’: Legal Scholar Warns ‘Trumpers’ Want to End Major Civil Right

Note he mentions as a sitting federal judge he would have applied the same standards that jurors are expected to observe: to not discuss the case with anyone, including their spouses.

And should there have been a discussion, or if she were to air her views publicly, he would be forced to recuse himself from the case.

Justice Alito has not recused from any 2020 presidential election cases, any Trump-related cases, any insurrection-related cases.

That includes the Trump “absolute immunity” case the Supreme Court heard in April, for which they have yet to rule.

The Supreme Court “recently adopted an ethics code to ‘guide the conduct’ of the justices,” Ponsor observes. “One of its canons states that a justice should ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’ That’s all very well. But basic ethical behavior should not rely on laws or regulations. It should be folded into a judge’s DNA. That didn’t happen here.”

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

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