Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
2012-JUN: Accelerating steps toward
same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
See also the previous essay describing events during 2012-MAY
The Obama administration announced on 2011-FEB-23 that it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. They cited an earlier decision in a Massachusetts federal court that found multiple reasons why the federal DOMA legislation violates the U.S. Constitution and is thus invalid.
Some commentators predicted that this decision will generate a tipping point that will lead to a more rapid decline in discrimination against sexual minorities in the U.S.
This prediction may be coming true. We have noticed an increase in events -- some important, some minor, some merely symbolic -- that indicate a gradual evaporation of animosity, animus, and homophobia against sexual minorities. The events of 20-12-MAY were particularly momentous.
Developments toward marital equality and a lessening of discrimination against sexual minorities:
- 2012-JUN-01: New York appellate court handles gay slander case: A unanimous decision by the Appellate Division’s Third Department ruled that falsely claiming that someone is gay is no longer slanderous. Writing for the court, Justice Thomas E. Mercure said "... that society as a whole no longer treated such labels as defamation. ... Without defamation, there is no longer slander. ... [earlier rulings were] inconsistent with current public policy and should no longer be followed. ... [They were] based on a false premise that it is shameful and disgraceful to be described as lesbian, gay or bisexual."
The case involved a man in the Bingingham NY area who claimed that a woman spread a rumor that he was gay in order to break up a relationship in which he was involved.
Professor Jonathan L. Entin at Case Western Reserve University Law School in Ohio said: "It doesn’t mean this is the universal view of the country. The traditional view of being called gay was like being called an evil person. The state of public opinion has changed, but there are still people who feel that way."
2012-JUN-05: MN: Public Policy Polling commented state constitutional amendments to ban SSM, and on citizen initiatives to repeal laws that legalized SSM that are scheduled for a vote on election day on 2012-NOV-06:
"Independents coming a lot closer to Democrats than Republicans on gay rights is becoming something of a constant in our polling. The GOP seriously risks antagonizing voters in the middle if it continues to pursue a far right social agenda."
Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling said after the 2012-JUN poll:
“The pro-equality side is now winning on gay marriage ballot initiatives in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington. The landscape has changed significantly since Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage." 6
- 2012-JUN-05: CA: Proposition 8 -- the citizen initiative to ban same-sex marriages that passed in 2008-NOV -- is in the news again. During 2012-FEB, a panel of judges from the federal 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals confirmed a lower federal court that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional. Supporters of Prop. 8 asked the full court review the panel's decision. On JUN-05, the full court refused to revisit the panel's decision. Supporters of Prop 8 now have 90 days to either:
- Accept that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional and allow the resumption of same-sex marriages in California, or
- Appeal the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The first option would be intolerable to ProtectMarriage.com, the group that is fighting SSM in California because it would allow loving, committed same-sex couples to marry. But appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court runs the risk of making SSM available in California and perhaps some other states.
- 2012-JUN-06: USA: CNN/ORC released the findings of a national poll on same-sex marriage (SSM). They found that 54% of American adults believe that same-sex marriage (SSM) should be legalized while only 42% are opposed! That is a margin of 12 percentage points -- the largest that we have ever seen in a national poll. There was, as expected, the usual gulf between Republican and Democratic voters, as well as between younger adults and the elderly. This poll was taken about one month after the President, Vice-President and Educational Secretary voiced their personal support of SSM. In addition, more than 75% of both supporters and opponents of SSM feel strongly about the issue.
It is often said that in politics, momentum is everything. The general trend for polls during 2011 and 2012 has been for an increase in support for SSM, a decrease in opposition to SSM, and thus an increase of of the margin between support and opposition. Some commentators have observed the effectiveness of fear-based anti-SSM TV ads in temporarily swaying public opinion against SSM. But many of them see a margin of over 10 percentage points between support and opposition as being beyond the ability of negative ads to overcome.
- 2012-JUN-07: Washington State: A law would have implemented same-sex marriage in Washington on JUN-07. However, a consortium of anti-SSM groups called Preserve Marriage Washington collected 242,000 signatures on a petition to suspend the law. They were delivered to the Secretary of State's office in Olympia, WA today. Only 120,000 were required to to have a referendum placed on the 2012-NOV ballot to decide whether to allow the law to be activated.
A poll by Strategies 360
conducted in late May shows that 54% of likely voters favor the SSM law, while 33% oppose equal marriage. Twenty-one percentage points is a formidable hurdle to overcome for those opposed to marriage equality. More information.
- 2012-JUN-06: NY: U.S. District Court Judge Barbara S. Jones filed her decision in the Windsor v. United States lawsuit. She found that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This is the section that requires the federal government to refuse to recognize marriages by same-sex couples that have been legally solemnized in a state like Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, etc. where marriage equality is in place. In this case, Edith Windsor inherited a house from her deceased wife, and was required to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in inheritance taxes because DOMA prevented the federal government from recognizing their marriage. This is the latest of many federal courts -- including one Court of Appeals, in which DOMA, or Section 3 of that law, has been found to be unconstitutional.
- 2012-JUN-09: Carry Underwood was raised a Baptist. Many of her fans are evangelical Christians, and many of her songs have a religious theme. She is the latest performer to publicly support same-sex marriage, saying: "As a married person myself, I don't know what it's like to be told I can't marry somebody I love, and want to marry. I can't imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love." She said that her belief about SSM comes directly from her Christian values, not in spite of them. She and her husband, Mike Fisher, attend a non-denominational congregation. She said: "Our church is gay friendly. Above all, God wanted us to love others. It's not about setting rules, or [saying] 'everyone has to be like me'. No. We're all different. That's what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It's not up to me to judge anybody." 2
A spokesperson for the gay-positive group Equality California said: "If you look at younger evangelicals, they are hugely out of step with their parents on this issue. They remain committed to their faith, but don't see gay rights being in conflict with Christian values. So while her comments are great news, they aren't necessarily a huge surprise."
- 2012-JUN-11: MT, PA, TX: The state Democratic parties in Montana, Pennsylvania and Texas have added marriage equality to their 2012 platforms. 3 Same-sex marriage is not available at the present time in any of the three states.
- 2012-JUN-22: GA: Jennifer Keeton, a conservative Christian, was enrolled in the Counselor Education Program at Augusta State University, in Georgia. According to a ruling by a federal court judge, Jennifer would not "condone the propriety of homosexual relations or a homosexual identity in a counseling session." The faculty required her to complete a remedial plan in order to continue in the counseling course. She agreed but later rejected the plan. Instead she sued the University in Federal District Court. The court ruled that the remedial plan:
"... was motivated by a legitimate pedagogical interest in cultivating a professional demeanor and concern that she might prove unreceptive to certain issues and openly judge her clients."
- 2012-JUN-23: NJ: The first same-sex civil union ceremony ever openly conducted on a U.S. military base occurred on JUN-23 when Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens were "unionized" at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. Their life stories makes very interesting reading. The media generally report this as a "wedding" even though same-sex marriage is not yet legalized in New Jersey. 4
- 2012-JUN-27 (date approximate) USA: Exodus International has promoted programs to change persons with a homosexual orientation into "ex-gays." This has long been regarded as a hoax and fraud by many skeptics, mental health professionals, human sexuality researchers, educators, social workers, lesbians, gays and bisexuals (LGB), religious liberals, assorted secularists, etc. In a dramatic reversal of philosophical beliefs, Exodus terminated its support for reparative therapy. This is a remarkable development. It should accelerate the movement towards LGBT equality, and towards same-sex marriage. It should also reduce the suicide rate among LGBs who entered a reparative therapy program, were one of the perhaps 99.5% who failed, became depressed, and experienced suicidal ideation.
- 2012-JUN-28: DC: The District of Columbia Republican Committee became the first GOP state party to break with tradition and add language to their platform that promotes same-sex marriage. The plank reads:
"We, the Republicans of the District of Columbia support the belief that all individuals, without regard to sexual orientation, are entitled to full and equal protection under the laws and the Constitution and that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect."
- 2012-JUN-30: Bulgaria: The fifth Sofia Pride parade in the capital city of Bulgaria took place in spite of the threat of violence. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 marchers were protected by 600 police. Several ambassadors were present, including the American Ambassador James Warlick. He was interviewed on a local TV station as saying: "We should all live our lives the way we wish... No one should be abused and tortured because of some prejudice." An Orthodox Christian priest had called for people to throw rocks at the marchers. An Orthodox Church official criticized that suggestion, but stated that the LGBT pride march was a "harmful demonstration that violates the rights of Orthodox Christians."
Mirjana Kosic is the executive director of TransConflict Serbia, an organization conducting conflict transformation projects and research. She said:
"Intolerance is driven by a fear that homosexuality undermines patriarchal notions of the 'nuclear family,' and therefore the 'traditional values' that supposedly make a society or nation 'normal.' Since most of the former Yugoslav countries are still states and nations in the making, their inchoate national identities feel particularly jeopardized by anything which in some way diminishes – or even breaks with entirely – the idea of heroic masculinity."
Father Antim Manoliov, Archimandrite and Protosyncellus at the Metropolitan of Vidin in northwest Bulgaria, said:
"The Church cannot promote morality with offensive, attacking, or frantic words. The Church’s position is to help people spiritually, not to throw rocks as happened in Old Testament times. Those of different sexuality are like blind people and we should help them and not say bad things. But public protests and demonstrations discriminate against the majority in society. ... A huge part of the gay population is closeted. Hate crimes are a big problem and public displays of affection between homosexuals are very rare and often met with attacks."
A counter-demonstration was organized, but only attracted 200 persons. 5
We suspect that the "violation of rights" experienced by Orthodox Christians is the right to live in a country in which all mention of the existence of a LGBT minority is suppressed.
These information sources were used to prepare & update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "NY court: It’s not slanderous to falsely claim someone is gay," LGBTQ Nation, 2012-JUN-01, at: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/
- "Carrie Underwood: US country queen speaks out for gay marriage – but how will conservative fans take it?," The Independent (UK), 2012-JUN-09, at: http://www.independent.co.uk/
- "Three State Democratic Parties Add Marriage Equality To Their 2012 Platform," Think Progress, 2012-JUN-11, at: http://thinkprogress.org/
- Katherine Goldstein, "The Wedding: The unlikely story of the first gay military union," Stars and Stripes, 2012-JUL-17, at: http://www.stripes.com/
- Andrew MacDowall, "Bulgaria gay parade peaceful, despite provocations," The Christian Science Monitor, 2012-JUL-01, at: http://www.csmonitor.com/
- "Minnesotans’ opposition to marriage amendment growing," Public Policy Polling, 2012-JUN-05, at: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/
How you got here:
Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2012-JUN-04
Latest update: 2012-SEP-12
Author: B.A. Robinson