“…with liberty and justice for all.” A Good Start

The President is making good on his promise to finally repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act- an act designed to smugify people who can get married (and have- some of them four or five times) and alienate those who can’t (like this couple, who have been together for 48 years). From the Atlantic Wire:

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court (Photo credit: wallyg)

The Department of Justice is asking the Supreme Court to hear appeals for two different cases to finally decide whether or not DOMA is constitutional.

Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner reports David Verelli filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court asking them to review the law’s controversial Section 3 to see if it “violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State.” The question is connected to the Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management case. In a ruling in February, a U.S. District Judge ruling on the case said that DOMA was unconstitutional. It’s currently slated to be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but now it’ll be presented to the Supreme Court before the Ninth Circuit can even make a ruling.

The other case the DOJ asked SCOTUS to look at is Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services. A judge from the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled against DOMA in the case in May. Another judge from the First Circuit Appeals Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional at the beginning of June.

The Associated Press reports the “earliest the justices might decide to hear the case is in late September.” Arguments would be made over the winter, with a final decision coming in late June. So basically, DOMA is the new blackAffordable Care Act.

This administration is taking the dignity of LGBT persons to an all-time high, politically speaking. We are closer to being equal citizens than we have ever been, and today- despite the miles left to go- I’d like to celebrate that.

Click here for an exhaustive list of the Obama administration (and Congress’) accomplishments.

 

ACLU Asks Montana Supreme Court to Grant Legal Protection to Same Sex Couples


 

Domestic partnership recognition is necessary to uphold Montana Constitution’s right to fair treatment for all

 

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed its appeal of a Montana District Court decision dismissing the same-sex domestic partnership case, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana, to the Montana Supreme Court. The appeal argues that the Montana Constitution guarantees fair and equal treatment to all people, including gay and lesbian couples.

“This case is about treating people fairly and humanely,” said plaintiff Jan Donaldson, a Helena nurse who has been with her partner, pediatric neurologist Mary Anne Guggenheim, for 27 years. “Mary Anne and I have appreciated the support we’ve received from fellow Montanans who understand that all families need to be able to take care of each other. We just want the dignity of having our committed partnership recognized as worthy of those legal protections.”

U.S. Census numbers released over the summer show 2,295 Montana same-sex households. Without recognition of domestic partnerships, these couples are vulnerable when they need bereavement leave, face the illness or death of their partner or are presented with any other situation in which their lack of legally recognized status puts them in a position where a married husband or wife would be protected.

The plaintiffs in the case have faced just this kind of discrimination. When Guggenheim had a hip replacement, the doctor’s office staff would not speak to Donaldson without a release. Kellie Gibson of Laurel was denied bereavement leave when her partner Denise’s father died. Mary Leslie of Bozeman lost her home because she was ineligible for worker’s compensation death benefits when her partner was killed in an accident.

“Anyone who works and pays taxes should be treated equally and fairly by our state. When two people are in a committed relationship, they should be eligible for benefits, like filing a joint tax return, regardless of whether they are a same-sex couple or a different-sex couple,” said Jennifer Giuttari, interim legal director for the ACLU of Montana.

Plaintiffs in the case Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana are Mary Anne Guggenheim and Jan Donaldson of Helena, Stacey Haugland and Mary Leslie of Bozeman, Mike Long and Rich Parker of Bozeman, MJ Williams and Nancy Owens of Basin, Rick Wagner and Gary Stallings of Butte and Denise Boettcher and Kellie Gibson of Laurel.

In addition to Giuttari, the couples are represented by Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project; James Goetz and Ben Alke of the Bozeman, MT, law firm Goetz, Gallik & Baldwin P.C.; Betsy Griffing; and Ruth Borenstein and Neil Perry of the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Additional information about the case, biographies of the plaintiffs and links to videos of the plaintiffs can be found at www.aclumontana.org and www.aclu.org/mtpartnerships.

Wrong

You are wrong about me.
Taking my measure with quick glances.
Pretending you own my story and telling it
With short, ugly words.

The light in my eyes
A stranger to your own, because you
Can’t seem to look long enough to
Recognize yourself- or anybody else, there.

But you know me- even though
You pretend to be completely
Alienated by the audacity
Of my words- which,
Upon second glance
Are held quietly in place
By the light in my eyes
And the spark in my soul
That refuse to bend to
The ugliness you profess to be beautiful.

And you wail at the injustice
and the abomination
and the economy.

And I mourn the loss of your sight-
Praying
That I am wrong about you, too.

~D Gregory Smith

My Statements Re: HB 516, HB 514

February 18, 2011

Montana Legislators,

RE MT HB 516:

  1. Every community should have the right to decide its own ordinances of inclusion. Ordinances of exclusion, usually reserved for dictatorships, theocratic states and societies of intolerance are another matter.
  2. Creating a law that disallows protection is counterintuitive to the purpose of government as set forth in both the Federal and State Constitutions, in which are stated explicitly the government’s purpose to protect the citizenry from discrimination, violence and other harms.
  3. This is an attempt to write prejudice and bigotry into the law. It is an attempt to tie local ordinances to State law in a way which keeps government from evolving as understanding, both scientific and social, creating a top-down model, instead of a cooperative, interdynamic process.
  4. It is a blatant and ignorant effort to push a personal agenda of intolerance toward LGBT persons in obvious defiance of biological, social and psychological science.
  5. This bill is discrimination and rejection of the right of communities to protect the citizens as they believe necessary. It enshrines bigotry, ignorance and personal belief in defiance of science, human experience and freedom.

RE HB 514:

1.  The reality of difference in sexual orientation and gender identity is acknowledged by this bill.

2.  The scientific evidence and positions of the scientific community regarding the reality of different sexual identities/orientations and the fluidity of gender identities are clear. The American Psychological Association recognizes the reality of heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality. The APA also advocates against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Regarding sexual orientation:

Research has found that the people who have the most positive attitudes toward gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals are those who say they know one or more gay, lesbian or bisexual person well, often as a friend or co-worker. For this reason, psychologists believe that negative attitudes toward gay people as a group are prejudices that are not grounded in actual experience but are based on stereotypes and mis-information. Furthermore, protection against violence and discrimination are very important, just as they are for any other minority groups. Some states include violence against an individual on the basis of his or her sexual orientation as a “hate crime,” and ten U.S. states have laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Regarding gender identity:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT APA opposes all public and private discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived gender identity and expression and urges the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies;

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT APA supports the passage of laws and policies protecting the rights, legal benefits, and privileges of people of all gender identities and expressions;

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT APA supports full access to employment, housing, and education regardless of gender identity and expression;

The American Medical Association says the following:

AMA Policy Regarding Sexual Orientation
General Policies:

H-65.992 Continued Support of Human Rights and Freedom. Our AMA continues (1) to support the dignity of the individual, human rights and the sanctity of human life, and (2) to oppose any discrimination based on an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin or age and any other such reprehensible policies. (Sub. Res. 107, A-85; Modified by CLRPD Rep. 2, I-95; Reaffirmation A-00; Reaffirmation A-05; Modified: BOT Rep. 11, A-07)

H-65.983 Nondiscrimination Policy. The AMA affirms that it has not been its policy now or in the past to discriminate with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. (Res. 1, A-93; Reaffirmed: CCB Rep. 6, A-03; Modified: BOT Rep. 11, A-07)

H-65.990 Civil Rights Restoration. The AMA reaffirms its long-standing policy that there is no basis for the denial to any human being of equal rights, privileges, and responsibilities commensurate with his or her individual capabilities and ethical character because of an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or transgender status, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin, or age. (BOT Rep. LL, I-86; Amended by Sunset Report, I-96; Modified: Res. 410, A-03)

Does Montana want to ignorantly proceed against the example of these two esteemed organizations?

3. Protection is not a special right, it is an equal right. We all have the right to live in peace and without the threat of violence, discrimination or subjugation. Studies and experience show that LGBT persons are constantly subject to bigotry, violence, and harassment. Indeed, LGBT teens are the highest risk group for suicide attempt and completion. Much of that is due to oppressive or negligent laws that fail to promote a sense of self-worth for every law-abiding citizen.

4. Montana has a history of live and let live. Without this bill, the lives of a significant number of Montanans are prevented from being full lives of integrity and equality. Without this bill, you continue to promote a second and third class of Montanans.

Sincerely,

D. Gregory Smith, MA, LMHCA

Butte