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Prop 8 Unconstitutional: Marriage And Rights Groups Respond

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Upon today’s news that the Ninth Circuit has reaffirmed California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional, a flurry of responses from LGBT rights groups have come. Here’s a sampling.

Freedom to Marry

NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that found that Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment that stripped the freedom to marry away from gay and lesbian couples in California, violates the U.S. Constitution.

Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, issued the following statement in response to the ruling:

“Today’s powerful court ruling striking down the infamous Prop 8 affirms basic American values and helps tear down a discriminatory barrier to marriage that benefits no one while making it harder for people to take care of their loved ones. The Ninth Circuit rightly held that a state simply may not take a group of people and shove them outside the law, least of all when it comes to something as important as the commitment and security of marriage. We salute the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought this challenge to Prop 8.

“This monumental appellate decision restores California to the growing list of states and countries that have ended exclusion from marriage, and will further accelerate the surging nationwide majority for marriage. As this and other important challenges to marriage discrimination move through the courts around the country, Freedom to Marry calls on all Americans to join us in ensuring that together we make as strong a case in the court of public opinion as our legal advocates are making in the courts of law. By growing the majority for marriage, winning more states, and tackling federal discrimination – Freedom to Marry’s ‘Roadmap to Victory’ – we maximize our chances of winning when one case or another finally reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Mayors for the Freedom to Marry

LOS ANGELES – Today, Mayors Michael Bloomberg of New York City, Annise Parker of Houston, Jerry Sanders of San Diego, and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, who are all Chairs of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, the bipartisan group of more than 130 mayors from across the nation who have pledged their support for ending marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian couples, released the following statement:

“As Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, we know how important marriage is to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our nation.  When committed couples are able to pledge their love to one another and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage, our communities flourish and our cities are more competitive. Today’s decision by the 9th Circuit reaffirms that the American Dream is possible for everyone and brings us one step closer to ending marriage discrimination once and for all.  We look forward to a day when all of our citizens will be able to share fairly and equally in the freedom to marry.”

Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, added:

“America’s mayors understand why marriage matters – to loving and committed couples, to their families, to communities navigating tough economic times.  Today’s important court ruling affirms basic American values, and helps tear down a discriminatory barrier to marriage that benefits no one and make it harder for people to take care of their loved ones.”

GLAAD

Los Angeles, CA, February 7, 2012 – GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today applauded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision affirming the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8.

“Today’s historic decision reflects the growing support for marriage equality among a majority of Americans who believe all couples should have the same opportunity to take care of and be responsible for each other,” said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson. “Though the road to securing full equality for every American remains long, we are deeply encouraged by today’s ruling.”

HRC

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – today praised the historic decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming the August 2010 conclusion of U.S. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown) that the amendment to the California Constitution barring marriage for same-sex couples, adopted in November 2008 as Proposition 8, violates the U.S. Constitution.  In a 2-1 decision authored by Judge Reinhardt, the court agreed that Proposition 8’s only purpose in denying gay and lesbian Californians the freedom to marry was anti-gay animus, something the Constitution does not permit.

“Today’s decision affirms what we all know to be true – our Constitution protects the basic civil rights of all Americans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “Proposition 8 does nothing to strengthen or protect any marriage.  Instead, it singles out thousands of loving California families for different treatment, simply because they are gay and lesbian couples.  We applaud the Ninth Circuit for recognizing that our Constitution cannot tolerate such egregious discrimination.”

“We thank the courageous plaintiff couples, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies for their years of work leading to today’s decision.  This is not the end of the road, for this case or for the larger struggle for marriage equality.  We must all continue our work – in courthouses and statehouses, in church pews and living rooms – until equality is reality for LGBT people and our families everywhere.”

In response to a 2008 decision by the California Supreme Court ending marriage discrimination in the state, anti-equality forces succeeded in placing a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Despite over 18,000 same-sex couples having married, California voters adopted the amendment, known as Proposition 8. After the California Supreme Court determined in 2009 that the adoption of Prop 8 did not itself violate the California Constitution, two plaintiff couples — Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo – filed suit against the State of California in federal court, represented by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies and supported by the American Foundation for Equal Rights. The proponents of Prop 8 intervened in the case to defend the constitutionality of the amendment. Judge Walker held a historic trial in January, in which the plaintiffs presented substantial testimony and evidence to show that Prop 8’s only purpose is to discriminate against same-sex couples.  His historic decision in August 2010 was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The proponents of Prop 8 are now likely to appeal this decision, either to be considered by a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit (referred to as an en banc rehearing) or for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Family Equality Council

Washington, DC  – (Feb. 7, 2012) – Family Equality Council, the national organization that connects, supports and represents the one million families with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), today issued a statement following the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the ruling in Perry V. Brown – the  federal court case to overturn California’s Proposition 8.  The Federal Appeals Court ruled that California’s 2008 amendment banning same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional.

 

“Today’s decision heartens and gives hope to the 15,698 loving couples in California who are raising more than 30,000 children,” said Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler.

 

“They, like all Americans, understand that while love makes a family, there is no denying that marriage strengthens it,” said Chrisler.  “These parents have raised their children to love their country, support their friends and treat their neighbors with respect.   Now they only ask for the fundamental American freedom to demonstrate their love and commitment to their family through marriage.  We join them in looking forward to the day when we can win the freedom to marry for them and all Americans.”

 

This weekend, Family Equality Council will celebrate this step forward on the journey toward the  freedom to marry and family equality for all when it honors Chad Griffin and other LGBT family advocates at the 2012 Los Angeles Awards Dinner. ( www.familyequality.org/losangeles)

 

Griffin is Co-founder and Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights – the group behind the effort to overturn California’s Proposition 8.

 

Courage Campaign

Los Angeles — After three years of Prop 8 weaving its way through the federal and California court system, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld Judge Walker’s August 2010 ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Marriage equality proponents throughout the state, including Courage Campaign members who worked valiantly to overturn Prop 8, cheered the historic decision.

The 9th Circuit did what it must: it ruled that Judge Walker is competent, not somehow diminished for being gay and it ruled that the Constitution of the United States indeed provides equal protection and due process to all Americans, not just some Americans,” said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the Courage Campaign, a progressive, grassroots online organization with more than 750,000 members around the country. “Having live-blogged every piece of this trial, especially in Judge Walker’s courtroom two years ago, it became patently clear that the fringe opponents of equality would never prevail. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the dynamic duo of attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies and their colleagues at the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) who took to heart that real people are hurt by Prop 8 and its evil cousins across the nation. The time for waiting has ended.”

The Courage Campaign has played a leading role in informing and organizing around the entire Prop 8 trial. The organization collected nearly 140,000 signatures in support of televising the trial — the first time the U.S. Supreme Court ever cited such an online effort in an opinion. Upon learning that the historic trial would not be televised, Jacobs live-blogged daily from the courthouse and documented every important motion and court ruling on Prop 8 Tour Tracker (www.Prop8TrialTracker.com), a project of the Courage Campaign Institute. Over the course of almost three years, the widely-read blog has logged in over four million views and 150,000 comments. It is also the #1 Google result for “Prop 8 trial.”

Courage Campaign’s Testimony: Equality on Trial project staged re-enactments of the trial, including many from the general public. It was designed to educate the public on what happened in the courtroom, more vital now since the tapes have been forever sealed from public view. Two video re-enactments were used as evidence in federal court by the legal team from AFER. The first video was staged with Academy Award-winner Marisa Tomei (playing Kristin Perry, the plaintiff in Perry v. Brown) and actor Josh Lucas.

When the California Supreme Court decided it would take six months to offer its advice to the 9th Circuit, thus adding nearly a year to the process, the Courage Campaign asked members to submit their stories on what the delay meant to them and their families. Three hundred stories came in, including one from Ed Watson and Derence Kernek in Palm Springs, a couple for over 40 years. Ed had Alzheimer’s and his health was quickly deteriorating. A video of their story prompted a front page Los Angeles Times story. Ironically, Ed died on the eve of the last Prop 8 hearing in the 9th Circuit.

The decision made by the 9th Circuit, to be honest, is a bittersweet one for me,” said Mr. Kernek, who still lives in Palm Springs. “I know that my partner of 41 years, Ed, would’ve been thrilled to have heard the news. He missed it by less than two months because he passed away in December. Even as he took his last dying breaths, Ed spoke of wanting to marry me. Even though he did not get his last wish, I am heartened to know that other gay couples who love each other will be able to take sacred vows and fully commit their lives to one another. And that makes it a glorious day for gay people in California.”

SLDN

(Washington, D.C.) Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis released the following statement regarding today’s ruling on Proposition 8 by the Ninth Circuit:

“SLDN welcomes today’s important ruling by the Ninth Circuit affirming the lower court decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional; indeed, fairness and equality have carried the day. This victory strengthens our case on behalf of married gay and lesbian service members and veterans as we seek to gain equal recognition, support, and benefits for them and their families.  This is an historic win for supporters of full equality in the military and in our country,” said Sarvis.

Transgender Law Center

Transgender Law Center Celebrates Appeals Court Ruling Striking Down
Prop 8

Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the Perry
v. Brown case holding that California’s Proposition 8, which
restricted marriage in the state to different-sex couples, is
unconstitutional. The appeals court also squarely rejected the
argument made by Prop 8’s sponsors that the trial court judge who
issued the initial decision finding Prop 8 unconstitutional should
have been required to recuse himself from the case because he is gay
and in a long-term relationship.

Statement by Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis:

“We’re thrilled that today the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed that under our
constitution, all loving couples must be allowed to marry, regardless
of the gender of either partner. The state should not be in the
business of policing who can marry based on gender. I’m optimistic
that full equality for all our families is on the horizon.”

 

National Gay And Lesbian Task Force

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey in response to today’s historic ruling:
“The court’s ruling affirms what millions of people all across the country already know — loving, committed same-sex couples and their families should be able to share in the celebration and responsibilities of marriage. People from every background and every circumstance get this; they understand because being able to marry the one you love and care for your family are shared values that strike at the very core of who we are as a people. Denying loving couples and their families something so fundamental is to deny our common humanity. Congratulations to the plaintiffs and their families. This is a great day for them, for all Californians, and for all Americans.”

 

NOM, the National Organization For Marriage

NOM Condemns Ninth Circuit Ruling Finding Prop 8 Unconstitutional, Imperiling the Marriage Laws of 43 states

Group will support efforts to take the issue to the US Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “As sweeping and wrong-headed as this decision is, it nonetheless was as predictable as the outcome of a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition game,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “We have anticipated this outcome since the moment San Francisco Judge Vaughn Walker’s first hearing in the case. Now we have the field cleared to take this issue to the US Supreme Court, where we have every confidence we will prevail.”

San Francisco federal court judge Vaughn Walker ruled in 2010 that Proposition 8 violates the 14th amendment of the US Constitution. If allowed to stand, the ruling could invalidate the marriage laws of 43 states that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The case is widely expected to go to the US Supreme Court for resolution.

In their 2-1 split decision, the Ninth Circuit opinion [PDF] written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, held that:

• The proponents of Proposition 8 have the legal standing to appeal the lower court’s ruling, as suggested by an earlier ruling of the California Supreme Court;
• Judge Vaughn Walker did not have a duty to disclose that he was in a long-term committed homosexual relationship throughout the time he was hearing and deciding the case;
• The US Supreme Court ruling in Baker v Nelson, which found there is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage, does not preclude this challenge to Proposition 8;
• Laws enacted that particularly impact same-sex couples are subject to “heightened scrutiny” legal analysis;
• Under a heightened scrutiny analysis, Proposition 8 violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and is thus unconstitutional.

“Never before has a federal appeals court – or any federal court for that matter – found a right to gay marriage under the US Constitution,” said constitutional scholar John Eastman, who is chairman of NOM. “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most overturned circuit in the country, and Judge Stephen Reinhardt, the author of today’s absurd ruling is the most overturned federal judge in America. Today’s ruling is a perfect setup for this case to be taken by the US Supreme Court, where I am confident it will be reversed. This issue is the Roe v Wade of the current generation, and I sincerely doubt the Court has the stomach for preempting the policy judgments of the states on such a contentious matter, knowing the lingering harm it caused by that ruling.”

Eastman is the founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Claremont Institute and is a constitutional law professor and former Dean at Chapman University School of Law. A former US Supreme Court Clerk, Eastman has participated in over 60 cases before the US Supreme Court.

 

Image of San Francisco march today, by Will Kane via Twitter.

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News

Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’

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If you are hired to work in Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s office on Capitol Hill there is a 37-page memo you’ll want to read detailing all the responsibilities her staffers are required to perform, from getting her groceries, calling Verizon and going to her D.C. home to wait for a repair person if the internet goes out, scheduling massages, and ensuring her very detailed airplane requirements are met.

“It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight,” the memo says, as The Daily Beast first reported in December.

But now a group of 13 non-profit organizations have joined to file an ethics complaint against Senator Sinema (I-AZ), a new Daily Beast report reveals Friday, including details from that 37-page memo which the newly-independent lawmaker directed to be drawn up. Dated Thursday, the complaint is titled: “Letter to Senate Ethics Committee Regarding Reports of Sinema Abusing Taxpayer Dollars.”

“Senate Ethics guidelines stipulate that staff should not be asked to perform personal errands for members. This is an unambiguous ethical boundary,” the group’s complaint reads.

READ MORE: Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report

It also points to that 37-page memo, which it says, “indicates that staff are required, as a condition of their jobs, to carry out numerous tasks that are outside the scope of public employment, including doing personal errands for the Senator, carrying out household tasks at her private residence, and advancing their own funds for her personal purchases. It makes unreasonably precise scheduling demands, and former staff have confirmed some of the allegations.”

The allegations continue.

“And, most troubling, it calls on staff members, who are employed and paid by the public and explicitly barred from campaign activity, to schedule and facilitate political fundraisers and meetings with campaign donors, presumably during the workday while they are on the clock and physically on federal property.”

“Senate staff are prohibited under your guidelines from engaging in political activity ‘on Senate time, using Senate equipment or facilities.’ While you have not prohibited campaign activity outside work hours, the plain language of the memo clearly implies that Sen. Sinema expects her staff to carry out these scheduling tasks during the workday. And these tasks may separately violate Senate Rule 41.1, which explicitly prohibits Senate employees from ‘solicit[ing]’ campaign funds.”

READ MORE: ‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories

The complaint also alleges that “Sen. Sinema required her staff to schedule three physical therapy and massage sessions a week related to her training for athletic competitions, and to tightly manage her dietary schedule — while allotting only a 30-minute period on Wednesdays for meetings with the constituents she represents.”

The carefully-worded complaint adds, “the allegations paint a picture of a Senator who is not only unresponsive to her constituents, but also disrespectful and even abusive to her employees and wholly unconcerned about her obligations under the law.”

The Daily Beast has posted a copy of the complaint here.

You can read The Beast’s full report here.

 

 

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Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report

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When he left for Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. George Santos also appears to have left a string of unpaid traffic violation fines and fees in two states, including red light, double parking, and overtime parking citations totaling thousands of dollars.

The embattled serial liar and freshman New York GOP lawmaker “may owe more than $3,400 in unpaid citations, according to records from New York City and Florida,” CBS News reports.

Included in that total is $1,299.10 from Florida for toll violations that “racked up late fees and were ultimately sent to collections agencies.”

READ MORE: George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation

It appears that in November of 2016, as soon as he got his New York driver’s license after having one in Florida, a car previously ticket via a red light camera whose plates match one registered to Santos “began piling up citations in New York City — 29 in the next two and a half years, according to city government records, which do not identify the drivers of vehicles being ticketed.”

“More than $1,800 in payments were made for 17 citations, but another 12 remain unpaid, with $2,142.61 still due, according to city records.”

CBS News also points to a New York Post report from January revealing “a Nissan Rogue driven frequently by Santos in recent months had been issued speeding tickets at least five times since he was elected on Nov. 8, ‘including four times in school zones.'”

Santos is under numerous state and federal investigations that span the gamut from campaign finance to allegedly stolen charity funds donated to save the life of a veteran’s service dog. The dog died after the vet could not afford to pay for the operation.

READ MORE: ‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories

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House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is pushing baseless conspiracy theories about the Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon floating over the United States – currently, over Montana – that the Pentagon is tracking, and he’s being widely mocked for his unfounded fear-mongering.

Fox News host Harris Faulkner set the stage perfectly for the far-right Republican from Kentucky, declaring the balloon is “the size of three buses” and that “China says was taken by wind – wind that we can’t substantiate.”

The Kentucky congressman who has falsely described President Biden as “compromised,” and stated he is going to target and investigate him, told Faulkner, “I have concern this is going to be another example of the Biden administration’s weakness on the national scale.”

READ MORE: ‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

Comer, 50, a former agriculture commissioner, lamented about Biden’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, claiming it hurt the reputation of America’s military and Commander in Chief.

The balloon, he said, should “never have been allowed” to cross over into the United States.

“My concern is that the federal government doesn’t know what’s in that balloon. Is that bioweapons in that balloon? Did that balloon take off from Wuhan?” he asked, pushing unfounded theories while echoing the far-right’s false claims the COVID-19 virus was developed as a bioweapon and escaped the lab in Wuhan, China.

After suggesting it might have bioweapons, he then said it was “very concerning” the balloon was not shot down before reaching the U.S. – which could have spread the alleged bioweapon.

Faulkner, seen by some as a propagandist, then jumped in to exhibit her surprise that “people on Capitol Hill were not briefed” about the balloon.

READ MORE: Trump Spent 2020 Attacking Ballot Drop Boxes – but Now He’s Demanding They Be Deployed in Churches

“Calling for the president to ‘shoot down’ the craft,” The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona adds, “some in the GOP called the president ‘Beijing Biden’ while claiming this is further proof that ‘Communist China’ doesn’t ‘fear or respect’ Biden.”

“Honestly,” communications strategist Doug Gordon noted, “just surprised he didn’t find a way to include Hunter’s laptop into that conspiracy theory.”

“Actually, he did later on,” Baragona replied.

National security expert Denver Riggleman, the Republican former U.S. Congressman from Virginia who assisted the Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, tweeted: “Bioweapons? FFS”

Referring to Comer’s unfounded bioweapons claim, one Twitter user observed, “Isn’t that more reason not to shoot at it? I’m not saying I know what to do, but logic would dictate ‘don’t shoot at balloons full of bioweapons.’ Right?”

Another noted that the Oversight Chairman should have been listening to the Pentagon’s briefing “taking place now instead of running to get on Fox to talk about something he has no expertise in.”

READ MORE: ‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History

And yet another, wholly mocking Comer, who holds far-right anti-LGBTQ beliefs, said: “Or worse, what if it has woke trans undocumented drag queen athletes?”

Another, mocking Comer, noted: “If they were sending a bio weapon, why would they park it over sparsely populated Montana? *rolls eyes*”

Watch the video above or at this link.

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