Sunday, May 20, 2012

NAACP Board: "We Support Marriage Equality"

Citing the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the NAACP  announced its support for marriage Equality as a civil right in a press release Saturday:
(Miami, Florida) The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People today released a resolution supporting marriage equality. At a meeting of the 103-year old civil rights group’s board of directors, the organization voted to support marriage equality as a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law.
“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”
“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.
The NAACP has addressed civil rights with regard to marriage since Loving v. Virginia declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. In recent years the NAACP has taken public positions against state and federal efforts to ban the rights and privileges for LGBT citizens, including strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and most recently, North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which changed the state constitution’s to prohibit same sex marriage.
Below is the text of the resolution passed by the NAACP board of directors:
The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, educational, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.
This statement by the oldest and largest civil rights organization in America goes a long way to dispelling the lies put forth by groups like the National Organization for Marriage that strive to drive a wedge between the African American community and the LGBT community.

While surveys have shown that the African American community has been slower to accept LGBT equality than the general population, increases in tolerance continue to be made. The strong leadership shown by the NAACP this week is in accordance with the argument we've been making all along that marriage is a civil right.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama Evolves: Welcome to the 21st Century, Barry!

As you've all heard by now, President Obama has come out in full support of Marriage Equality in an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts.
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
This is an historic event in the history of the LGBT rights movement. This is the first time a sitting president has made such a statement of support for full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

We all have reason to celebrate this morning, but I have to say that this news is bitter sweet, coming a day after the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina. I can't help but wonder about the timing of this announcement.

On Sunday Joe Biden made a statement on Meet the Press that he supports Marriage Equality, only to have the White House spin doctors go ape shit trying to back peddle and say that Biden didn't say what we all heard him say. Meanwhile, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at a Monday news conference that he agrees with Biden's position.

The official off-the-record explanation from unnamed White House sources is that "The Big O" evolved earlier this year, but chose not to make it public until this week, on the heals of Biden's and Duncan's statements and increased pressure from LGBT critics and high dollar donors.

The question now is whether or not this will hurt or help the president in the lead-up to the fall elections. Naturally Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, as well as Tony Perkins of the hate group Family Research Council and other professional bigots have jumped all over this story claiming that the battle lines have been drawn and that the president's words now match his actions.

Gallagher seems to think this is a good thing for the anti-gays and is happy that the president is "no longer lying" about his support for marriage equality.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien went head-to-head with Perkins this morning, grilling him about the "redefinition of marriage" argument. O'Brien pointed out that marriage has changed over the years as society has changed, but Perkins would have none of it. Via Mediaite:

“You’re talking about redefinition,” Perkins said. “There is no rational reason to keep people of different races that were of opposite sex to marry. They met the qualifications of the definition of marriage. What we’re talking about here is a further redefinition of marriage…”
“But hasn't marriage been redefined and redefined?” O’Brien interjected.
“It’s going to intentionally create environments where you have children growing up without a mom and a dad,” Perkins argued.
“But we have environments where children grow up…” O’Brien countered. “Forgive me for interrupting, but we have environments already in heterosexual couples where they grow up without a mom or dad. You’re certainly not arguing gay marriage is fine as long as the couples don’t want to have kids because you will avoid that problem, kids growing up without a mom or a dad, or an older couple who aren’t going to have kids?”
All I can say is haters gotta hate and people who don't believe in evolution never evolve.

The anti-gay folks were never going to vote for Obama anyway, or should I say the anti-gay white folks. It remains to be seen whether or not black and Latino voters, who turned out in record numbers for Obama in 2008, will shift their support to Romney over this, or just say home. It's hard to believe that anybody is a single-issue voter any more. The bigots are betting that they are enough of them left to unseat the president.

Although Obama says this was a personal decision, not a political one, there can be no doubt that he considered every angle before making his statement to ABC, which, according to those same anonymous sources, was recorded on Monday, on the condition that it not air until Wednesday. We are left to wonder whether influencing the NC vote was a consideration.

For now, let's be glad in the moment. Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. President!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thoughts on Amendment One

Homophobia won the day on Tuesday as NC voters turned out to cement bigotry and discrimination into the state constitution by a vote of 61% - 39%.

Maggie Gallagher and the rest of the trolls at NOM are gloating over their victory. Comment wars are raging on news sites all over the web and the culture wars have received a jump start in the lead up to the presidential election.

There are petitions making the rounds on the web calling on the Democrats to move their convention out of Charlotte to a more tolerant state. That's not going to happen. The hall has been booked, security checks have been done and Obama needs a swing state, even a bigoted one like North Carolina.

There was a lot of discussion from the Anti-Amendment side saying that the wording of the ballot measure was too broad and that people didn't understand what they were voting for. That may be so, but exit polling showed that the misinformation campaign waged by anti-equality side was successful. They were better funded by seasoned veterans like NOM, who receive a great deal of their funding from their founders in the Catholic and Mormon churches.

The White House released the following statement Tuesday night,
“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples," Obama's North Carolina spokesman Cameron French said in a statement.

"He believes the North Carolina measure singles out and discriminates against committed gay and lesbian couples, which is why he did not support it. President Obama has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples and is disappointed in the passage of this amendment," French said.
Sorry, Mr. President, but your words ring a little hollow your when surrogates like Joe Biden come out in full support of marriage equality, as you straddle the fence in your slo-mo evolution. We know you have an election to win, but the folks who would be swayed to vote against you if you came out in full support of marriage equality aren't going to vote for you anyway.

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry released this statement Tuesday night:
“As momentum for the freedom to marry continues to grow in the rest of the nation, today’s vote is a painful reminder of what happens when a preemptive ballot-measure is stampeded through before people have had enough time to take in real conversations about who gay families are and why marriage matters to them.  This amendment is a last gasp of discrimination that will cause real harm to families, communities, and businesses in North Carolina, but says little about the prospects for a better outcome in battles to come in states where there has been greater visibility for loving and committed couples and those who get to know them.   And even in North Carolina, the long-term effect of this nasty attack will be to spur more conversations and open more hearts, helping more people rise to fairness and support for the freedom to marry.”
Evan, dear, pull your head out of your ass and take a look around, you self-serving, sanctimonious, toad. North Carolina does not live in a vacuum and the debate over marriage equality is hardly anything new. The Amendment One ballot initiative was approved by state legislators six months ago. Your organization could have provided much needed funding and led the charge in this fight, but you chose not to. You wrote it off as unwinnable and threw us under the bus. You don't get to say DICK about this loss!

We are down, but not defeated. We can take heart in the knowledge that California's Prop 8 is working its way through the courts and will hopefully be decided once and for all, with nationwide implications. Lower courts have already ruled that Prop 8 violates the US Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process. SCOTUS could hear the case within the next two years. All eyes are now on California.