Ad to Air During RNC, Republican Mayor Of San Diego Advocates Marriage

 

Sanders Joins HRC and Freedom to Marry, Appeals to Conservative Values

Yakima, WA Diocese To Collect Money To End Marriage Equality

From New Ways Ministry:

The Diocese of Yakima (in yellow), Washington State, has announced that it plans to take up special collections  to support efforts to defeat the state’s referendum to enact marriage equality in November.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports:

“Labor Day weekend marks the official beginning of what the three Catholic dioceses in the state are calling Preserve Marriage Month. In Yakima that means organizing an educational program and fundraising campaign to inform parishioners about Catholic teaching on marriage and church opposition to Referendum 74, which would affirm the state’s same-sex marriage law.

“Bishop Joseph Tyson sent a letter to pastors in all 41 parishes Friday asking that they announce a special financial appeal at Masses sometime during the next two weekends. Money collected will go to Preserve Marriage Washington, a statewide group seeking to defeat Referendum 74.”

The money collected will go directly to a political organization working to repeal the state’s newly-minted marriage equality law.  The dollars will not be considered tax-deductible or a contribution to the church:

“Bishop Joseph Tyson sent a letter to pastors in all 41 parishes Friday asking that they announce a special financial appeal at Masses sometime during the next two weekends. Money collected will go to Preserve Marriage Washington, a statewide group seeking to defeat Referendum 74.

“. . . . He proposed that pastors suggest not only that parishioners inform themselves and others about the referendum, to be voted on in November, but also that they ‘can contribute to the campaign by using the envelope in this week’s bulletin to make a generous donation to Preserve Marriage Washington.’ “

The envelope reportedly is addressed to Preserve Marriage Washington.

Monsignor Robert Siler, the diocesan chief of staff, said:

“To be clear, this is basically a contribution to a political campaign, and these are not considered tax-deductible church donations.”

Of course, not all Catholics support such a fundraising campaign:

“Dr. Kevin Walsh of Toppenish is uncomfortable with what he views as picking only a few issues from papal encyclicals about social justice and raising them to the level of national causes.

” ‘It’s an example of church leadership using the pulpit for what they see as a moral issue, but it’s isolated. It’s not part of a package to make life better for everybody,’ he said.

“Walsh added,’I think it’s misguided. We should be struggling toward inclusion instead of excluding people.’ “

The diocese has not set a fundraising goal for the collection.  Perhaps that was done as a strategic move so that they don’t end up in the embarrassing position of falling way short of the goal–which would be proof of what polls are consistently showing:  although Catholic bishops oppose marriage equality, Catholic people in the pews are overwhelmingly supportive of it.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Another Congressional Candidate For Marriage Equality

Could you imagine this even two years ago? We have two very public videos about marriage equality by Montana Congressional candidates. You’ve probably seen Dave Strohmaier’s video- but here’s another one from Rob Stutz:

Cool.

Bestiality More Accepted Than The Gays

“There are, you’ll probably not be surprised to learn, three times as many states with no direct prohibitions against the sexual assault of an animal (according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund) as there are states that allow gay marriage.”

Hmmm. Some legislatures are much more concerned with oppressing a particular class of people than in enforcing this biblical mandate (and before some of you write with weird humorless critique, I’m being sarcastic). Click map for story.

 

Catholic Biden: “Who do you love?”

From New Ways Ministry Blog:

Vice President Joe Biden’s statement in support of marriage rights for lesbian and gay couples on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday offered one of the simplest and most practical criteria for defining who a person should be allowed to marry: “Who do you love?”

Not surprising that such support comes from the first Catholic Vice President, since it so precisely reflects the views of at least 74% of American Catholics (according to a PRRI poll) who are in favor of marriage rights for same-gender couples.

A good news summary of Biden’s statements can be read by clicking here, or you can watch a video clip of the interview with Biden:

New Ways Ministry is delighted with Vice President Biden’s remarks.  He reflects the thoughts of millions of American Catholics on marriage equality, and it is great to have such a prominent Catholic lay person be the spokesperson of the laity’s views on this matter, which differ significantly from those of the Catholic hierarchy, whose voice is usually the only Catholic one heard. Biden’s comments may not be the fullest statement of support one could have hoped for from the Obama administration, but they certainly move the discussion one giant leap forward.

The vice president’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, has long been an advocate for LGBT equality, and we are delighted that these two Catholics are helping to spread the message of equality and justice which comes from our faith experience which promotes the dignity of all human beings.

Interestingly, Biden’s question, “Who do you love?” echoes the title of an article written three decades ago by New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick:  “With Whom Have I Fallen In Love?”  The article, published in a Catholic periodical, focused on how people can determine their sexual orientation.

How does the Catholic veep’s views reflect the the views of President Obama?  Opinion is divided.

Political analyst Josh Marshall, editor of TalkingPointsMemo.com, thinks it might be a foretaste of what is to come:

“. . . I’m curious whether today’s remarks by Joe Biden on marriage equality are another example of Biden’s off-the-cuff indiscipline or something more like the White House trying to moon walk the President’s position on the issue, i.e., nudge and ease the president’s position forward while seeming to walk it back, so we’ll wake up one day and it will simply be different without ever being able to point to a day when it changed.

“Needless to say, we all know at this point that President Obama supports gay marriage but thinks the political tides aren’t quite safe enough to come out and say so. Lots of presidents telegraph this kind of equivocation but I have seen few cases where it’s been done so out there in the open.”

Pam Spaulding, writer/editor of Pam’sHouseBlend.com, did not think the remarks were significant because she felt that he was only endorsing support for civil unions, not marriage:

“I guess you could see this as yet another attempt to placate the LGBT community (i.e. open the gAyTM), or a hint that the President is about to tip-toe out of the closet, perhaps after the election. I don’t hold my breath for such things. . . .

“Biden’s comments are interesting in that they represent the President’s exact view – that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same civil rights, save the whole bit about the word ‘marriage.’ Talk about threading the political needle.”

Joan Walsh, editor at large for Salon.com, asked some interesting questions of the situation:

“It seemed an important step for an administration that can’t seem to get the president all the way there. President Obama is going to have to come out for gay marriage one of these days – can anyone honestly believe he’s against it? — but having the Catholic Biden endorse it helps, too. The group Catholic Democrats immediately Tweeted the little known fact that Catholics are the most pro-gay marriage of all Christian groups. Yet the backwards politics of the U.S. Bishops means most people don’t know that, and thus view gay marriage as a no-fly zone during an election season when the  Catholic swing vote is particularly important. So Biden’s comment mattered.

“Then the Vice President’s office issued a clarification:

‘The Vice President was saying what the President has said previously – that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights.  That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it.  Beyond that, the Vice President was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country.’

” He too is evolving.’ Actually, it seemed as if Biden had finished evolving, and actually supported ‘men marrying men, and women marrying women.’  For a moment, I actually thought having Biden step out ahead of Obama was a deliberate, maybe even slightly cynical campaign move. But apparently the campaign isn’t ready to take that chance. Why would it be a problem to have the grandfatherly Irish Catholic VP a step ahead of the president on this one, anyway? I don’t know, but backtracking seems like a lose-lose to me.”

Let’s hope that the next steps will continue to be steps forward, as Biden’s original statement certainly was.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Love For All, Marriage For Some

Click to enlarge

The Catholic Factor Of Proposition 8

From New Ways Ministry comes this interesting observation:

The reaction of the Catholic hierarchy to the news yesterday that a federal court has declared California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional has been, predictably, negative.  After all, the hierarchy, aided by over a million dollars from the Knights of Columbus, worked so furiously to get Proposition 8′s constitutional ban against marriage equality passed into law.

Bishop Gerald E. Wilkerson, president of the California Catholic Conference, and auxiliary bishop from Los Angeles, issued a response yesterday which included the following:

“We are disappointed by the ruling today by a panel of the Ninth Circuit that would invalidate the action taken by the people of California affirming that marriage unites a woman and a man and any children from their union. However, given the issues involved and the nature of the legal process, it’s always been clear that this case would very likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Marriage between one man and one woman has been—and always will be—the most basic building block of the family and of our society.”

But a reaction from an usher at Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles may indicate better where Catholics in the pew stand on this issue–even those who initially voted for Proposition 8.  Ruben Garcia is quoted on the public radio website, spcr.org:

” As a parishioner and a Catholic and a married man, I do believe in the sanctity of marriage,’ Garcia said, ‘and I do believe that it should be between a man and a woman, but I’m torn because I also believe in the separation of church and state. “

That may be the crux of the argument. Catholics are twisted by the legal/moral argument of the hierarchy- if it’s immoral, it must be/become illegal. The problem in a deomocratic society is this: morals cannot be legislated effectively as representative of the entire population- because they are not representative of the entire population. Despite what bishops want to believe, the reality is that morals are not universal- there is no clear agreement on any number of moral issues.
And ignoring reality by trying to persuade by legislation will only make the remaining few points of agreement much less accessible.

Montana’s Last Best Chance

Washington State is soon to add itself to the list of states that have legislated for marriage equality- arguably the most democratic way to achieve human rights there is. Forget referendums- most people don’t know what they’re actually voting for, they just read the synopsis on the ballot and make a two second decision. But I digress.

The question for me is this: Now that the State of Washington has voted for Marriage Equality, what does that mean for Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Montana?

It means we need to keep up the momentum for full LGBT equality. This is not the time to sit on our laurels. This is the time to step it up.

Kris Hermanns in Red Lodge

The Pride Foundation is the only LGBT organization actively involved for LGBT Equality throughout the entire Pacific Northwest- and it is deeply committed. New Executive Director Kris Hermanns last week said to a gathering of Montanans in Bozeman, “Our commitment to you is clear, and together we will have full equality throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

I am a proud member of the Pride Foundation’s Montana Leadership Action Team- along with a number of amazing people- and we have big plans for Montana.

But without the organizing and financial power of Pride Foundation, this amazing group of people would never have been recruited, organized and utilized- and the tens of thousands of  dollars would never have been spent to support LGBTQ causes, events and organizations in 2011.

I believe that the Pride Foundation is Montana’s last best chance to achieve dignity and rights in the state of Montana.

We can’t do it without you. And I’m going to blatantly ask for your support.

If you believe in equal rights for all, support us. Join us here on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. And please consider financially supporting Pride Foundation- Ken and I are monthly givers.

To do that, click here.

And thank you.

Spokesman-Review Opinion: “Gays Deserve Same Rights”

English: John Eder at the Portland Pride Festi...

Image via Wikipedia

In Spokane’s Spokesman-Review, the marriage equality issue in Washington State is given some real-life background for its readers: the story of a couple who’d like to be legally married. Governor Chris Gregoire has recently announced her support for marriage equality in Washington- a state that has had domestic partnerships for same-sex couples in place since 2007. Eastern Washington- traditionally more conservative than the Sound Side- is the audience served by the Spokesman Review, and a great place to see this rational and reasonable opinion piece getting such great play. Some Washington Republican legislators have recently announced their support as well. I think it’s looking better and better every day to expect marriage equality to pass the Washington legislature this year.

The times, they are a-changin’. Warms my heart.

Here’s a taste of the story- with the money quote in bold:

Flannery doesn’t expect churches to change their stances on same-sex marriage, but he does believe government should treat everyone equally.

So does Susan Hammond, a Spokane nurse. Late Wednesday night, after Gregoire’s speech, Hammond posted on Facebook a letter to her legislators. She invited her friends to forward it as well.

She wrote, “I am counting on your leadership and humanity to do the right thing so that my young adult son, who is gay, can live in a society that affirms who he is and allows him the same right his brothers already have: to marry the person of his choice.”

The opposition to same-sex marriage baffles Hammond. “I honestly don’t get it,” she says.

After all, the strongest argument against changing the law is that marriage has traditionally been defined as being between a man and a woman. But that’s like using a long-standing definition of slavery as an argument against emancipation.

I’m making that my facebook status today.

Full story here.

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.