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Quotes From New York State Senators On Gay Marriage Bill

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Below is a continuously updated and quick transcription of some statements being made right now on the floor of the New York State Senate as they debate the gay marriage bill today. Quotes are exact as I can manage! Refresh the page often – newest are at the bottom.

Eric Schneiderman: This is a vote that is not about morality, that is not about religion. You can’t legislate morality, but you can legislate justice. This is about the essence of the United States of America. Every generation is called to this challenge to the quintessential challenge of making Thomas Jefferson’s words more true. This bill hurts no one. Vote for justice, vote for equality, vote for your affirmation that all men and women are created equal.

Eric Adams: There are certain moments here where we can benchmark our lives by the votes we took. (Listed group of states) All states that bought and sold slaves at one time or another. It was only until 1967, before my son could marry (another senator’s) daughter. Thank God for Google. Go read what they said about blacks being able to marry. The same comment made about Tom Duane wanting to be married are the same comments my grandmother was told. Some say, don’t try to make this a civil rights issue. When I walk through these doors, my bible stays out. I make laws that protect the entire state. There is one thing about New York: We have the legacy that sets the tone of the rest of the country. I’m going to be an agent of change. You don’t have to be gay to respect the rights of those who are. You don’t have to be black to understand the pain of slavery.

Jeffery Klein: I’d like to apologize that this took so long. (Quotes from the 14th Amendment.) I think it’s important to read the statement from Mrs. Loving (Loving vs. Virginia) NYC will benefit by $200 million if we pass gay marriage. Make a decision today not based on political reasons. This is an issue of fairness.

David Valesky: This can’t be a matter of religion. Nothing we do can be done in violation of the United States Constitution. The founding fathers made it very clear that freedom of religion is one of the most important tenets of this democracy. This bill does not, could not, and as long as our constitution stands, could never compel any house of worship to do anything against their beliefs.

Kevin Parker: The time to pass this legislation is now, because it is still the right thing to do. The morality stands in doing the right thing. We have an opportunity to change our history. This is the time we strike a blow to one of the last inequalities in our country. (Reads benefits same sex couples cannot currently acquire.) This bill is about millions of families and the basic protections they need. As we sit here now its almost ridiculous to think that at one time African-Americans could not even marry each other. I’m hoping that the idea in a few years that same sex couples couldn’t marry will be seen as equally ridiculous.

Pedro Espada: If this vote were taken in my district today, this bill would fail. But this is not about demographics, this is not about religion. Is it a vote of conscience? What is a vote of conscience? It is constitutionally correct to vote “yes.” Let’s write this headline, let’s send a message of hope, by voting yes here today. Let’s not continue to be scared into ignorance.

Diane Savino: Rarely have we faced an issue as important as this. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers lives hang in the balance here today. I hope we are going to make that history here today. This vote is about an issue of fairness and equality. We in government don’t determine the quality or the validity of relationships, if we did we wouldn’t give three quarters of the licenses we do. What are we really protecting, when you look at the divorce rate in this country. We’re giving away husbands on a game show. That’s what we’ve done to marriage in America. People stand up in front of God and swear to honor and obey, and they don’t mean a word of it. We have nothing to fear from love and commitment.

Liz Krueger: Ask yourself, how can you vote “no.”

Daniel Squadron: It’s a bill that really has to do with what sort of government we have.

Velmanette Montgomery: I will only add that in my family and my culture I just want to remind my colleagues, it was always considered that if you were living together and not married, in those days, you were living in sin. I know the whole institution of marriage has changed over time. There are some states that actually recognized common law marriage. The institution of marriage is actually a part of our government contractual practice, and we also attach religion to it. I want to remind you that if a minister marries you, and you don’t go to court, you are not married. If our husbands decide, as often happens, that they want to run away, there are certain protections I want everyone to have. I want to talk about the ministers, the doctors, the choir directors, many of whom are gay, and people in all walks of life, African Americans, Latinos, white people, black people, men, women, they are my constituents too, they would like to have the right to marry. I am voting yes so you can have the right to marry.

Jose Serrano: This is a great day. History has proven that extending civil rights further will make our communities stronger. No one should be subjugated to less rights than anyone else. Extending freedom through marriage equality is the foundation of the American ideal. What separates this nation is that we dare to say the things that others refuse to say. We cannot be free until all of us are afforded the same rights that everyone should have.

Ruth Hassell-Thompson: My oldest brother was gay. Publicly that’s something I’ve not said before. (Told a very moving story about her brother and his life away from home in France.) People have the right to choose. This bill is about giving them the right to choose. If there’s a condemnation in that choice then that is between them and God.

Craig Johnson: On January 10th, 1998, I exercised my right to marry my wife. This bill is simple, it does two things. It’s about equality. The notion of a civl union creates a separate but equal system. This bill is also about love. What’s interesting is look at the history of marriage. Historically marriage wasn’t about love it was about property. This is about civil marriage. There comes a time for this body to step up.

Bill Perkins: History reminds me that more than half of the people here would not be during another point in time. Get ready, marriage equality is here, it is inevitable. I can see Dr. Martin Luthor King smiling down on us today.

Suzi Oppenheimer: I’m glad we’re doing this today. I feel strongly that everyone is entitled to equal rights and protections. It is most assuredly a civil issue not a religious issue. Some have said it diminishes their marriage. I don’t understand that. Almost all of us have friends who are lesbian or gay. And they are for the most part in serious committed relationships in long standing. They are stable people. Isn’t that what we want?

Malcolm Smith: People are asking me, “Why are you supporting marriage?” When I ask them is why are you not? They retreat to the bible. The bible does not say same sex marriage is wrong. What is wrong is when you quote a bible for your own purposes. Please don’t quote the bible or refer to it if you don’t know what it means. Because of my religious relationships, I believe everyone in this chamber has experienced discrimination. When you experienced discrimination, it hurt. The completion of a family is not the children but a marriage. This is not a challenge to the church. It takes one. Rosa Parks was that one. Tom Duane is that one. Colleagues, we need to do this today. A win is 35 votes.

Thomas Duane: “I’m like a dog with a bone, I won’t let go until the last moment. The time is never right for civil rights. The economy, wars… it’s never, ever the right time for civil rights. But the paradox is it’s always the right time to be on the right side of history. Now is the time to put that into law – the same way that we have treated you, you have treated us. let’s not have a do-over. I was out when Harvey Milk was around, I’ve been gay a long time. Soon, I’m going to be a married gay.

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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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