Jim Obergefell and John Arthur had been together nearly two decades when John was stricken by terminal ALS. With their union unconstitutional in Ohio, the couple turned to friends and family to fund a medical flight to Maryland, where they wed, tearfully, on the tarmac [prev.]. After John's death, however, Jim found himself embroiled in an ugly legal battle with his native state over the right to survivor status on John's death certificate -- a fight he eventually took all the way to the Supreme Court. And that's how this morning -- two years after U.S. v. Windsor, a dozen after Lawrence v. Texas, and at the crest of an unprecedented wave of social change -- the heartbreaking case of Obergefell v. Hodges has at long last rendered same-sex marriage legal nationwide in a 5-4 decision lead by Justice Anthony Kennedy. [more inside]
When President Obama appointed Tom Wheeler (a former top telecom lobbyist) as chairman of the FCC, he got a lot of grief for selling out his '07 pledge to protect Net Neutrality -- the founding principle long prized by open web activists that ISPs cannot privilege certain data over others, without which dire visions of a tiered and pay-for-play internet loomed. Earlier, weaker attempts at net neutrality had failed in court, and the new chairman looked set to fold. But after an unprecedented outcry following last year's trial balloon for ISP "fast lanes" -- including a viral appeal by John Oliver, a public urging by the president, and perhaps Wheeler's own history with the pre-web NABU Network -- the FCC yesterday voted along party lines to enact the toughest net neutrality rules in history, classifying ISPs as common carriers and clearing the way for municipal broadband. ISPs reacted with (Morse) venom, while congressional Republicans are divided over what they called "Obamacare for the internet."
The Equal Justice Initiative has released a report (pdf) on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research. The authors compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950 -- documenting more than 700 additional victims, which places the number of murders more than 20 percent higher than previously reported. "The process is intended... to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way." Map. [more inside]
There were a number of notable firsts for women elected to office as early as the late 1800s, and there is a significant history of women running for president and vice president in the United States, but until 1984, no woman had been nominated to as vice president in one of the major parties. 30 years ago, the Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale announced Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, and she accepted the nomination to resounding roar of excitement (another version, on YouTube; transcript). [more inside]
Talking gender to Africa
International donors have sought to improve the social, political and economic position of women in Africa through an approach known as “gender”. This donor-driven strategy is failing. The jargon of gender programmes is ambiguous and easily misunderstood. It fosters inaction and lip service on the part of patriarchal African governments and civil servants. Gender has become the preserve of the educated elite. The voices of African women have been lost.[more inside]
Following the state Supreme Court's decision in Griego v. Oliver [pdf], New Mexico has become the 17th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. [more inside]
"The country has cheaper medical care, smarter children, happier moms, better working conditions, less-anxious unemployed people, and lower student loan rates than we do. And that probably will never change." In The Atlantic, a comparison of some of the socio-economic aspects of Finland and the USA. [more inside]
Makers: Women Who Make America is a sweeping 3-hour documentary of the movement for women's equality in the last half of the twentieth century. Airing this month on US public television, it's accompanied by an online archive of videos of interviews with individual women in leadership across a variety of fields. Leaders and activists, celebrities and pioneers, and everyday women retell the story of their awakening, organizing, and world-changing efforts.
During his tenure as George W. Bush's campaign manager and later as chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Ken Mehlman helped push an anti-gay agenda which eventually led to legislation that banned same-sex marriage in 21 states. He came out of the closet in 2010. Since then, he's openly supported gay marriage. Now, his newest endeavor, Project Right Side, is trying to attract conservatives to the fight for marriage equality. He discusses the non-profit's goals in a WSJ editorial: Making the Same-Sex Case. [more inside]
In 1971, "decades before any state had seriously considered legalizing gay marriage, long before anyone had thought of creating—never mind repealing—a policy called “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” before Reagan, before AIDS, before the American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality was not a mental illness, and before half the people currently living in America were even born, a man named John Singer stepped into the King County marriage license office in Seattle." Meet Faygele ben Miriam, the radical activist who pioneered the fight for same-sex marriage in Washington State, 41 years ago. Via.
Evening the Odds: Is there a politics of inequality? (Nicholas Lemann in New Yorker)
Australian Labor Party's 46th National Conference starts today in Sydney. Key agenda items - Gay marriage, refugees, and Uranium sale to India. Follow it live.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an exhibit of photographs by Jeff Sheng that is currently on tour in the US. A sharp contrast to his previous work: Fearless, which highlighted young Canadian and US athletes who openly identify as gay, lesbian or transgendered, this new exhibition shows gay American servicemen who cannot, so they have been photographed in uniform with their faces hidden or outside the photo's frame to protect their anonymity. Flash Galleries: DADT 1, DADT 2. [more inside]
Tomorrow, Obama will extend federal employee benefits to same-sex partners. But is it too little, too late to mend the growing rift between Obama and gay rights advocates, especially after last week's controversial DOMA brief (discussed previously)?
Oh noes, those gay newlyweds are causing Biblical rainstorms!! An ominous new TV ad by the National Organization for Marriage -- who helped pass Prop. 8 in California -- features a "rainbow coalition" of folks to warn America that marriage equality advocates want to "take away" your "freedom" by pushing the issue "far beyond same-sex couples." Unfortunately for NOM, the profound seriousness of this threat has been undermined by a leak of audition reels for the ad.
Gay marriage equals incest and pedophilia. Abortion equals the Holocaust. Or so thinks "America's Pastor Rick "Saddleback" Warren, bestselling author of The Purpose-Driven Life, vocal supporter of Proposition 8, and the spiritual leader chosen by President-elect Obama to give the invocation at his inauguration. But hey -- don't call him a homophobe: He even eats dinner with gays.
Fairy Tale Weddings for all -- Disney, under fire for discriminating at its parks, opens up its popular (and expensive!) Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons to same-sex couples.
...at the end of the day, we're specimens to be dissected, examined and studied so that you may teach a "lesson" that you view as important. ...
We Are Not Freaks --from Silber's Power of Narrative--and applicable to all who fall outside the norms.
... add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage...
Washington Initiative Requires Proof of Procreation From Married Couples -- in response to a ruling made by the Washington Supreme Court last year stating gay and lesbian couples could be prevented from marrying by the state because Washington has a legitimate interest in preserving marriage for couples who can procreate. It's been accepted by their Secy of State, and only needs signatures now to get on the ballot. Press release here, which adds: The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine. If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who can not or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.
NJ says yes to same-sex marriage! (altho it might not be called that in the end) -- link to pdf of ruling here.
...his boyfriend Josh. --beautiful story, made all the more poignant at a time of more and more state constitutional amendments ensuring second-class citizenship, and a Democratic party urging us to just shut up already, but still give.
Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage... California joins New York in a lower-court decision for marriage equality, with the judge stating, "The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts — separate but equal," ... And in DC, Ken Mehlman, (closeted) head of the RNC, in an interview with the AP, backslides on his party's trumpeting of anti-gay sentiment: - It's not his job as head of the party to tell states whether they should allow same-sex couples to wed or form civil unions. "Certainly our platform states that the party is committed to ensuring that there is traditional marriage," he said, but he didn't think the party should take a position on state initiatives. More on today's court decision here.
Address by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on Gay Marriage. Taking the bull by the horns, Mr. Martin speaks to the House of Commons regarding Bill C-38, The Civil Marriage Act:
"This question does not demand rhetoric. It demands clarity. There are only two legitimate answers – yes or no. Not the demagoguery we have heard, not the dodging, the flawed reasoning, the false options. Just yes or no."One of the finest speeches from a Canadian politician in memory, and an important read for Canadians and Americans alike.
Norway Briefly Lead By Gay Prime Minister whilst Egyptian Human Rights Groups Cannot Defend Gays Compare and contrast: this cannot be seen simply as another East/West culture clash, when we know that there are a variety of views in the 'West' about gay 'rights', and indeed within Egypt itself. However, once achieved for homosexuals in western Europe (note the support of the French President), is the march to progressive equal rights going to have any effect on friendly countries elsewhere in the world? What's the situation like in your neck of the woods? (hint: we've done Alabama...)