Gay Rights

Boaz takes conservatives to task on demagoguery of Vaughn Walker

While many conservatives and statists are decrying the decision as judicial activism, over at Cato @ Liberty, David Boaz points out some facts about Judge Vaughn Walker:

Chuck Donovan of the Heritage Foundation denounces Judge Vaughn Walker for “extreme judicial activism” and “judicial tyranny” in striking down California’s Proposition 8, which barred gay people from marrying. And of course he doesn’t fail to note that Judge Walker sits in … San Francisco. Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries ups the ante: Judge Walker has “contempt for the rule of law” and is part of “the criminalization of not only Christianity but of the foundational values of civilization itself.” National Review allows the head of the National Organization for Marriage to mutter about the judge’s “personal bias.” Blog commenters rail against the “left-wing liberal judge.”

Federal judge strikes down Proposition 8

Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8, a ballot measure approved by voters in California in November 2008, because it violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The legal challenges are by no means over. Supporters of Proposition 8 will appeal to the Ninth District Court of Appeals, and eventually this will make it to the Supreme Court. Because of this Walker’s ruling does not allow gay marriages to be conducted interim.

As Walker notes in his opinion, “The freedom to marry is recognized as a fundamental right protected by the Due Process Clause.” This right was reaffirmed in Turner v. Safley, in an opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in which she was joined by William Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia.

You can read Judge Walker’s opinion in the case here. Below are some excerpts from the decision (citations have been removed):

Plaintiffs challenge Proposition 8 under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Each challenge is independently meritorious, as Proposition 8 both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.

DADT critic discharged by Army

A leading critic of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has been honorably discharged from the Army because he is open about his sexual orientation:

Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and Army National Guard first lieutenant, said he learned of the decision on Thursday. “It’s painful, mostly — not that my career is coming to an end, but really that it’s been a very difficult year,” he said in an interview.

Choi announced that he is gay during a March 2009 interview on MSNBC. He has since served as a leading Pentagon critic.

He has been arrested several times, most recently on Tuesday in Las Vegas at a rally calling for the passage of the Employment Non Discrimination Act. In March, he was arrested for handcuffing himself to a White House fence; prosecutors dropped charges against him last week.

The House included a repeal of “don’t ask” in its version of the annual defense spending bill. The Senate is expected to do the same.

Choi says that he would like to serve when DADT is finally repealed. That’s so odd to me considering our interventionist foreign policy. We’re constantly getting involved in the affairs of other nations, the government should want any healthy person they can find. I’m puzzled by that. So is Doug Mataconis, who asks, “So let me get this straight — we’ve got a guy who actually wants to serve and we’re kicking him out ? Explain that to me.”

No gay marriage in Florida, but bestiality is a different story

According to Mother Jones, there are 13 states that have banned gay marriage but haven’t criminalized bestiality. That’s odd, two individuals that have a loving relationship cannot get married in these states, but bestiality is just fine. Weird.

Texas Republican Liberty Caucus Denounces Anti-Gay Planks In Party Platform

Fortunately, not every Republican in Texas is an anti-gay bigot:

AUSTIN, TX – At the state Republican convention earlier this month, Texas Republicans opted to abandon the Republican tradition of respecting the Constitution and protecting individual liberty and privacy rights by adopting a platform which includes planks attacking the civil liberties of certain Texans.

The platform advocates policies which would make it a felony to perform a same-sex marriage in Texas, which would re-criminalize sodomy and which would take away the rights of gay parents in custody cases. These proposals are contrary to the values of most Texans and run counter to the Republican tradition of vigorously defending individual liberty.

The Republican Liberty Caucus strongly opposes the Texas GOP platform’s anti-gay and anti-liberty planks. We call for the state party to take action to address this problem. While it may not be possible to repeal or change the party platform, the state leadership should issue a clear statement that the platform is non-binding and does not represent the core, shared beliefs of Texas Republicans or of our candidates.

In a year in which we are looking forward to extraordinary opportunities for a great slate of Republican candidates in Texas, it would be a terrible mistake to shackle them to a platform which will alienate many potential supporters. This platform will weaken the party at a time when a strong coalition of Republicans and independents is needed to stop the radical agenda of Democrats in both Austin and Washington.

Texas Republicans Very Obsessed With The Gays

Apparently, the biggest problems facing Texas involve Adam and Steve:

Texas Republicans are a conservative lot. Still, it’s difficult to imagine mainstream GOP voters demanding their neighbors be jailed for engaging in a little hanky-panky behind closed doors.

Nevertheless, the state’s Republican party has voted on a platform [PDF link] by which their candidates will stand, and it includes the reinstatement of laws banning sodomy: otherwise known as oral and anal sex.

The party’s platform also seeks to make gay marriage a felony offense, which may be confusing to most given that the state does not sanction or recognize same sex marriages, meaning any such ceremony conducted does not bear the weight of law. Whether this means the GOP wants gay couples married in other states to be pursued through Texas as dangerous criminals, the party did not specify.

“We oppose the legalization of sodomy,” the platform states. “We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.”

There must be a lot of illicit sodomy going on in Texas because, you know, there really aren’t any other problems facing the world.

But wait, it gets worse:

Grover Norquist joins GOProud

Grover Norquist has joined GOProud, a group representing gay conservatives, in an advisory role, according to Dave Weigel:

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has joined the advisory council of GOProud, the gay Republican group that recently — and unfortunately — drew attention when it was alternately derided and defended from the stage of CPAC. (The most notable critic, California activist Ryan Sorba, has unsuccessfully challenged GOP advisory board leader Tammy Bruce to a debate.)

In a statement going out later Tuesday, Norquist calls the group “an important part of the conservative movement.” No surprise there. Norquist has always made common cause with almost anyone on the right who’s fiscally conservative; his Wednesday meetings of the movement include representatives of social conservative groups who are at loggerheads with GOProud. Here you’ve got the fledgling gay group winning another seat at the table, and a leader of the conservative movement pulling the chair out for them.

Someone may want to check on Tax Hike Mike Huckabee. His head may have exploded.

Like I’ve frequently said and written…this next generation of voters, even the conservatives, lean libertarian on social issues. Norquist realizes that. Many others will privately admit to it, but still engage in authoritarian crusades.

If Republicans are serious about engaging younger voters, they need to focus more on fiscal issues and much, much less on social issues.

Muslim-American Wins Miss USA Pageant, Conservative Bloggers Freak Out

Once again, the Miss USA Pageant has become the subject for over-the-top commentary in the blogosphere. Last year, it was Carrie Prejean’s answer to a question about gay marriage allegedly costing her the crown. This year, it’s because a Muslim-American won:

LAS VEGAS – Lebanese immigrant Rima Fakih says it was a certain look from Donald Trump that tipped her off that she had won the 2010 Miss USA title.

The 24-year-old Miss Michigan beat out 50 other women to take the title Sunday night, despite nearly stumbling in her evening gown.

She told reporters later that she believed she had won after glancing at pageant owner Trump as she awaited the results with the first runner-up, Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard.

“That’s the same look that he gives them when he says, ‘You’re hired,’” on Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” she said.

“She’s a great girl,” said Trump, who owns the pageant with NBC in a joint venture.

Fakih took top honors at the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip after strutting confidently in an orange and gold bikini, wearing a strapless white gown that resembled a wedding dress and saying health insurance should cover birth control pills.

Fakih, an Arab-American from Dearborn, Mich., told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. She moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York, where she attended a Catholic school. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003.

Good for her, you might say, right?

Obama Orders Hospitals To Allow Same-Sex Visitations Rights

Yesterday, the President issued an Executive Order requiring pretty much every hospital to extend visitation rights to same-sex partners of patients:

President Obama mandated Thursday that nearly all hospitals extend visitation rights to the partners of gay men and lesbians and respect patients’ choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them, perhaps the most significant step so far in his efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans.

The president directed the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation in a memo that was e-mailed to reporters Thursday night while he was at a fundraiser in Miami.

Administration officials and gay activists, who have been quietly working together on the issue, said the new rule will affect any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding, a move that covers the vast majority of the nation’s health-care institutions. Obama’s order will start a rule-making process at HHS that could take several months, officials said.

Hospitals often bar visitors who are not related to an incapacitated patient by blood or marriage, and gay rights activists say many do not respect same-sex couples’ efforts to designate a partner to make medical decisions for them if they are seriously ill or injured.

Like James Joyner and Allahpundit, I am of two minds about this move by the President.

Marine’s Father Ordered To Pay Appeal Costs Of Westboro Baptist Church Bigots

I can already tell that a lot of people aren’t going to like this decision:

BALTIMORE – The father of a Marine killed in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters was ordered to pay the protesters’ appeal costs, his lawyers said Monday.

On Friday, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered Snyder to pay $16,510 to Fred Phelps. Phelps is the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, which conducted protests at Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder’s funeral in 2006.

The two-page decision supplied by attorneys for Albert Snyder of York, Pa., offered no details on how the court came to its decision.

Attorneys also said Snyder is struggling to come up with fees associated with filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision adds “insult to injury,” said Sean Summers, one of Snyder’s lawyers.

I’m sure it does, but it’s the law.

Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 39 says this:

(a) Against Whom Assessed. The following rules apply unless the law provides or the court orders otherwise:

(1) if an appeal is dismissed, costs are taxed against the appellant, unless the parties agree otherwise;
(2) if a judgment is affirmed, costs are taxed against the appellant;
(3) if a judgment is reversed, costs are taxed against the appellee;
(4) if a judgment is affirmed in part, reversed in part, modified, or vacated, costs are taxed only as the court orders.

In other words, the losing party on appeal pays the appeal costs (meaning the filing fees, transcript fees, and printing fees they incurred, NOT their attorneys fees) of the victorious party. The Court really has no discretion in the matter.

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