Jason Collins, a Northridge native and former Stanford basketball player who now plays for the Washington Wizards, came out on Monday. He’s the first gay player in one of the “Big 4″ leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) to leave the closet, and he announced his decision in a thoughtful essay for Sports Illustrated. He’s single-handedly knocked Alan Alan Gendreau off the front page of OutSports.
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Juliette Banana got fed up with the bro-dawg indie bike culture of Chicago, and started TinyFix, an open and affirming bike collective that welcomes everyone. In Biking While Genderqueer, she talks about her experiences as a genderqueer activist. She knows that she doesn’t speak for every genderqueer person out there, and uses some rowdy language, but lays out how practice and identity intersect with life and riding.
A number of gatherings took place across California during before and after the Supreme Court hearings on Prop. 8 and DOMA. Here are some of our favorite shots from these events:
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Brenda’s coverage of yesterday’s Supreme Court Hearing on Proposition 8.
As I got close to the Court on my way to the DOMA hearing, I was greeted with big, ugly posters with Hate Fag language. Soon, I did see our people, and they took up all the rest of the street. A large press area was cordoned off. Once inside the Gallery, I saw a bunch of folks I know: all the heads of GLBT organizations seemed to be in the Bar section. Knowing, they paid a lot of money for placeholders. I was so grateful again to Justice Ginsburg for the gift of my tickets. Anyway, Edie Windsor was right in front of me. Soon I noticed Nancy Pelosi, and we had a conversation. She hates DOMA. I don’t know, however, if the Court fails to act, if she can muster the votes necessary to repeal it. Moving along, I was glad to see Ted Olson who argued so brilliantly yesterday against Prop 8, which I told him. Finally – and by this time we’d all been waiting at least an hour inside the Gallery, I saw Valerie Jarrett and had a very strong feeling she’d be rushing back to the White House later to fill in Obama.
At the stroke of 10:00 a.m. in they walked. Chief Justice Roberts, after housekeeping details and the issuance of their ruling against class certification in the Comcast case, called on the Amica, Vicki Jackson, a Harvard Law Professor, whose very first sentence was: “There is no justiciable case before this Court.” And thus began a more than hour-long examination into whether the Court may, by the Rules of Civil Procedure, determine DOMA’s constitutionality since the executive branch of the government agrees with Edie that DOMA does not pass muster. Is there a real case and controversy? On this point, Roberts said he didn’t see why the President didn’t have the courage of his convictions and stop enforcing DOMA, rather than ask the Supreme Court to decide for him.
In sum, I feel Justice Kennedy, who on the merits is no doubt the swing vote in this case, may be tempted to fuss that the case is not properly there. But given what he said later, I don’t think he’s going to abandon the need for our equal protection. Whether or not BLAG has standing, I do feel that 5 of them, at least, will get to the merits on our side. We should note here that we want BLAG to have had standing, BLAG having been appointed & hired by the House when the Administration decided it would enforce but not defend DOMA. If BLAG were to be found not to have standing, chaos reigns. The 2nd Circuit’s decision that DOMA is unconstitutional would stand. Edie would get her money back. What would happen in the other Circuits and for other federal benefits is quite a muddle and requires an entirely different and way too complicated discussion than we can embark on here. In fact, Nancy Pelosi gave me more bad news on this: Not only, she said quietly, did the Chair of the House Administration Committee authorize $1.7 million to pay for BLAG’s lawyers so far, there is another $3.3 million of our tax dollars ready for BLAG’s next legal bill. She, who has a lot of power in the House, seemed appalled at this.
It was 11:13 a.m. (and the Court usually ends hearings at noon) before they turned to the merits. It was already, I noticed later, 55 pages into the transcript by this time! The lawyer for BLAG, Clement, made almost no sense. Justice Breyer interrupted him off the bat, asking why treat gay marriage differently? And Justice Ginsburg observed in a tone that both warmed my heart and brought tears again to my eyes that every aspect of life is affected by DOMA, that the discrimination is pervasive. I am inserting here her words that set the tone for the rest of her remarks, as well as those of Justices Breyer and Sotomayor: Read the rest of this entry »
Update: Be sure to check out Brenda’s coverage of the Supreme Court Hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
My feelings are full & complex after today in the Prop 8 hearing. Since they started with Chief Justice Roberts interrupting the Proponents’ lawyer, Cooper – barely a sentence in – to say he wanted to hear about whether they even had standing to bring the case, there was a full-throated bombardment from virtually every Justice (except Thomas who never says anything) on that issue. My conclusion is that there may be 5 Justices who don’t think they should be hearing the case, which, of course, brings up the question of why did they take it in the first place? However, though I won’t go into it here, I think Scalia, Alito and maybe even Sotomayor alluded to a real problem: If these people don’t have standing, who does? Someone should. Ted Olson – on our side against the initiative, as was the Solicitor General of the U.S., Donald Verrilli, – says that people who represent an initiative, or put another way, the proponents of Prop 8, have no fiduciary duty to the state and, therefore, should not be able to represent it as they’re trying to do here. Does that mean he’d prefer to let the lower court decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional ride? No. He’d like the court to rule on the constitutional question but this remains a big open issue in the case: I’m not sure we have a majority willing to reach the broad question of whether it’s constitutional, in any state, to prevent us from marrying – absent the Prop 8 history.
Later in the hearing but relevant here, the Solicitor General was grilled on the jurisdiction of the Court and the sweep of its ruling: Justice Breyer asked pointedly how he can argue that a state that does nothing to protect us can be left alone but a state like California, or even any other that has Civil Unions or Domestic Partnerships and thus has tried to be more fair, can be forced to let us get married (vs. allow those other states to relegate us to no fairness at all).
When the issue of the constitutionality of Prop 8 was addressed head on, Justice Kennedy seemed clearly on our side – that Prop 8 is unconstitutional That was clinched for me when he asked Cooper (their lawyer) if he really thinks we should prevent parents of the 40,000 children of same-sex from “full recognition and full status”, from getting married? It became clear that the Justices leaning toward holding Prop 8 unconstitutional would grill Cooper most, whereas the conservatives reserved their fire-power, such as it was, for Ted Olson.
Justice Breyer asked the more than obvious question: If procreation is the issue, as Cooper kept insisting, why should California allow sterile couples to marry? And Justice Kagan, picking up on this, asked Cooper if it would be constitutional to prevent people over 55 from marrying. After some jokes about whether it would pass muster to ask people who want to marry if they’re both sterile – or not – Cooper actually said that men outlive their own sterility, meaning they can father babies forever. (Whether they should is something about which rational minds might wonder.) This does not speak to the issue of how the female persons in those marriages might actually bear children…. By this time, Cooper, who said he feels it’s good for over 55-year-old men to be married so they wouldn’t go around impregnating random other women, really seemed not only flustered but pathetic. Read the rest of this entry »
When we asked you to contact President Obama and encourage him to file a friend-of-the-court brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Proposition 8 case, we knew that the strength of our movement has always been in the simple, honest yearning for equal respect and dignity. We knew that by asking you to contact the President, and giving a way for you to share your stories, that the President would listen.
And he did. The Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief today urging the Supreme Court to strike down the unfair and unjust Proposition 8, which denies the freedom to marry to millions of Californians.
So today we thank President Obama for following his words with actions and giving our love his support from the highest office in the land. And we thank you. Your letters and stories made this possible, and when we look back at this historic moment, you can feel a justified pride in being a part of it.
Last night, San Jose’s City Council took an important step towards invalidating California’s Proposition 8, when they voted 9-1-1 in favor of officially joining San Francisco in an amicus brief to challenge the Prop 8 in the United States Supreme Court. The Council’s support to ban Prop 8 is a move forward in achieving the freedom to marry in California, and in support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The decision was made possible thanks to the hard work, mobilization and community organizing done by the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, Pride at Work and the LGBT movement in San Jose, and the leadership from Councilmember Ash Kalra, as well as Xavier Campos, Kansen Chu, and Don Rocha to get the issue on the table.
“This is San Jose’s chance to affirmatively stand on the side of equality for all and on the right side of history,” said Councilmember Kalra in a press release.
— Shane Bannon and Linnea Högberg
As a young man, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout was one of the proudest accomplishments of my life up to that point. The leadership development and values of scouting had a profound effect on me and have served me well in adult life. As an out gay person, the Boy Scouts of America have let me — and the entire world — know in no uncertain terms that I am not welcome. Their policy sends a message to kids around the country that it is indeed OK to discriminate against gay people.
And yet the scouting values still resonate with me and guide me in life today. Being honest means talking about how exclusionary policies hurt the Scouts; being kind means working to let every young man have the same opportunities in scouting without having to hide who they are; being brave means breaking ranks with an organization that I loved so much. In this case, being helpful means working to end these unfair rules.
It is so exciting to see that, after decades of excluding gay, bisexual and transgender young men from scouting, the Boy Scouts of America are signaling a willingness to change their policies. They have asked for public comment on whether to change their policies, so that local entities can decide to include all young people. While it would be so much better if they were considering a broad, national non-discrimination policy, it is very encouraging that they may be willing to change.
The Boy Scouts of America want to hear from the country on this issue!
I’d like to ask that your good turn for the day by sending a letter or calling them directly at 972-580-2330.
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it will review the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, better known to us as the Proposition 8 case. The court also announced that it will review a case, United States v. Windsor, challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
While we would have preferred for the court to decline to hear the Prop. 8 case — which would have immediately restored the freedom to marry in California — we’ve prepared for this and we intend to file a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to find Prop. 8 unconstitutional.
The arguments in favor of the freedom to marry are strong, and we are confident that they will receive a fair hearing from the court. And as we have seen in the last month, the nation has taken important steps forward toward affirming this basic human right — we know that full equality is coming.
The Defense of Marriage Act case, United States v. Windsor, that the court has taken up has federal implications for married same-sex couples in California. We have been heartened by the Obama administration’s refusal to defend this unjust and unfair law. Equality California previously has participated as a friend-of-the-court in federal DOMA litigation, and we plan to do so again in United States v. Windsor.
Our sympathies are with those of you who are in loving, committed relationships, waiting to marry. The court is unlikely to rule before June 2013, and we understand the discriminatory burden placed upon you, waiting for an affirmation of your rights. We want the freedom to marry restored as soon as possible, just as you do.
And that’s why while the court continues to consider this case, we’ll be pushing forward with our part of The Breakthrough Conversation, a cutting edge and research based program to eliminate the barriers to full lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. We will also continue our legislative work, identifying and providing much needed protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians.
We will have more information for you as the cases develop, and you can always check in at eqca.org to find out the latest.
It is with tremendous enthusiasm that I begin my tenure as the new executive director of Equality California today! This organization has a legacy that is nothing short of extraordinary and I consider it an enormous honor to be leading EQCA forward.
For over a decade, EQCA has worked tirelessly to make California a state with some of the most comprehensive legal protections in the nation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Building on EQCA’s legacy of accomplishment, I intend to move the organization forward as the statewide voice on LGBT equality.
While we’ve achieved much already, there is still so much more at stake. We must protect our achievements by continuing to build our political power. Advocacy on healthcare disparities and a strong voice in the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act is critical. Youth, transgender people and seniors continue to experience harsh discrimination and we must work for equality on their behalf. And we must continue to ensure that the laws we pass are fully implemented and enforced.
Outside the arena of legislation, we must continue to win people’s hearts and minds in communities throughout the entire state. We can legislate until we are blue in the face, but until people truly embrace us in all our diversity, we will not achieve full equality. So, together, we will continue this work, because we stand for full equality and nothing less. Read the rest of this entry »