Pope Francis Takes Step With Gay Rights, Akin To Bill Clinton

It is clearly a sign of either how much weighty news or bombastic rhetoric is created each day when the words of Pope Francis expressing support for same-sex civil unions is not the event that would create continuing top-of-the-fold conversations. While following the news of a pope creating a major and truly significant break from his predecessors regarding gay people, a correct position for religion, and all of society, I was aware of just how hard it is to steer headlines away from the chaos of this year. That, in and of itself, is a story we need to ponder.

But the words from Francis are powerful and very important. He made a public statement that the world-wide church needed to hear. “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” Francis said in the documentary, “Francesco”.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”

As a gay man, but not a Catholic, I have a range of feelings about the pope’s words. While many in the world have moved far beyond civil unions for gay people to the socially responsible and correct legal construction of gay marriage there is still much work to be done for allowing freedoms with sexual identity. In regions of the world where bigotry still has a grip and the Catholic hierarchy is less tolerant of homosexuality, this message was most important to be planted by a pope.

Words matter, as I often note on this blog when talking about leadership. I have long approved of the tone and focus of Francis, knowing the Vatican requires more light and less dogma. But it also needs to be stated that until church doctrine is changed the words of a pope will not alter the harm that is done to gay members of that faith.

Traditional Catholics are wedded to the idea a smaller church that holds to never-changing doctrine is better than a larger church that wishes to adapt to a modern world. As a person of faith, I can grasp the over-arching argument traditionalists hold, but know the best path taken comes down to applying Jesus’ teachings in our lives.

I view the opposition to bigotry as more powerful and uplifting than the harsh restraints and words of damnation. I am inspired by those in religious callings who speak about income disparity, racism, or poverty, as this pope has done continuously. The old and worn-out tropes about contraceptives, abortion (and gasp!) homosexuality are not connecting to younger people who do not live in the cloistered world–and have no desire to do so.

I thought of President Bill Clinton this week when this news of Pope Francis was reported. In the 1992 presidential campaign, he spoke about the need to not dismiss or undermine gay people in our military. From his promise the Clinton administration moved to enact ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. It was not a President Truman type moment regarding the military, but it was a start. From there larger steps were taken as the years progressed. That is how governments and large institutional changes begin and evolve.

With a first step.

When tolerance is too often threatened and marginalized in the world there is really only one way to greet the words of Pope Francis. With a smile and two-thumbs up.

Now step two……

Gay Marriage Starts Monday In New Jersey


Another step is being taken in the long march for full civil rights for gay Americans when New Jersey starts to allow for marriage ceremonies on Monday.

Late last week New Jersey’s highest court cleared the way for gay marriage even though Republican Governor Chris Christie for what I think is purely presidential reasons (such as Iowa caucus goers) has spoken out against the nuptials.  With the first “I do” New Jersey becomes the 14th state allowing for gay marriage.

That is a good thing for our nation and our society.

The court ruling is spawned from a lower court decision that found the existing civil-union legislation to be unconstitutional and discriminatory.  The state high court when ruling in favor of gay marriage stated “We can find no public interest in depriving a group of New Jersey residents of their constitutional right to equal protection while the appeals process unfolds.”

It is most clear to all that civil unions are more than half-a-loaf short of meaningful protection when it comes to legal rights for gay people.  Civil union partners in New Jersey were not eligible for a long list of federal benefits including such things as leave time under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or the attaining of coverage for health benefits as a “spouse” of a federal employee.  Gay couples were also not able to file a joint federal tax return.

No matter how one slices or dices the issue there is only one solution.

That is the fair and equitable allowing of gay men and women to marry not only in New Jersey but in all fifty states.

The opposition to gay marriage, such as the fake partisan rationale of Governor Christie, must end.

Gay Rights (Or Bans) In US, State By State

This is very well done.

Marriage–hospital visitation–adoption–employment–housing–hate crimes–schools

Gay rights laws in America have evolved to allow — but in some cases ban — rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people on a range of issues, including marriage, hospital visitation, adoption, housing, employment and school bullying. The handling of gay rights issues vary by state and follow trends by region.


Colorado Republican Lawmaker Should Know Her Gay Son Will Make Nursing Home Selection

Republican homophobe gets tit in ringer.

There are so many things wrong with the events playing out with this story.

First, a mother who has the power to make a difference not only for society, but for her own gay son, casts a bigoted vote against civil unions.  (She was not doing so because she though gay marriage was more equitable and correct.)

Then for political purposes the lawmaker’s campaign publicly outs this young man.

State Rep. Marsha Looper’s campaign manager forwarded an e-mail to supporters that praised the lawmaker for voting against civil unions even though she has a gay son.

It’s no secret at the state Capitol that Looper is one of at least four House Republicans with a gay child, but an unwritten courtesy has been to let the lawmaker be the one to publicly reveal that information.

Looper said she has been asked by some voters about her son’s sexuality and has answered honestly, but never meant for it to become so public.

“I’m very, very disappointed,” Looper said, of the e-mail making its way among El Paso County voters. “These are are very intimate issues. I love my son. I always will. He has said, ‘Mom, I want my privacy.”

I suspect there were more things offered as words from the son to his mom!

Marsha Looper might take note that it is likely her son will be picking out her  nursing home.

Conservative republicans are always such forward-thinkers.

What Motivates And Guides Caffeinated Politics?

I was reminded this past week that with over 2,500 posts on this blog, there are some over-riding themes and principles that are repeated over and over.  I thought it might be fun to think of the guiding issues and principles found on this blog, and write them down.

…. The process of governing is more important than the politics of any issue.  In addition a  fair and orderly atmosphere both in electing officals, and creating legislation is required to insure a fair and equal playing field.

….Campaign money, and the ever-consuming need for more and more of it,  pollutes the political process, and undermines the enactment of sound public policy.

…. The Supreme Court (both state and national) requires the highest and most ethical standards applied to applicants.  In the states, it is more appropriate to appoint justices through the merit selection process than to have elections for the judiciary.

…. Drunk driving is a most troubling  problem that will require tough-minded legislators being more interested in doing what is right, than  carrying alcohol for the Tavern League.

…. Tough anti-smoking laws are just common sense.

…. Going with principle (Dubai deal) is more important than following the prevailing political mood.

…. Torture is wrong, and spawns more terrorists while undermining a nation’s moral code.

…. Darfur needs the world.  Sadly, history will severely judge the  majorityfor not caring.

…. Preventive wars are a waste  of a nation’s  treasured resources.

….Israel needs to stop the illegal settlement policy, and Palestinians should have, must have, and will have a homeland to call their own.  When it comes to Israel the tail must stop wagging the dog.

….Polar bears are needing us to care more about them, and to reach an understanding about the need to address climate change.

…. Gun control is needed to insure the safety of the citizenry.  Strict regulations on the manufacture, sale, registration, and usage is the means for a safer nation.

…. Marriage matters, for all.   Period.

…. Cheating on a partner, married or otherwise, is smarmy and wrong.  Getting preachy about this issue is still OK.

…. Books are some of our best friends.

…. Just because a singer is older does not mean that they have less value or creative ability.

…. History is in need of more study and understanding, not only in our schools, but also with the average citizen of this nation.

….Never underestimate the lack of humor from Mormons.

…. Never underestimate the damage one Bishop (Molrino) can cause.

…. When it looks like it is a slow news day check in on the antics of Sarah Palin and the Clampetts of Palinland.

…. Newspapers are the foundation for long-form investigative reporting, and an essential ingredient to democracy.

….Journalists are as vital to the nations democracy and well being as our soldiers, sailors. and air force.

….Radio and TV personalities should be considered guests in our house, and when they offend should be rejected from our premises. 

…. Elvis is still The King.

…. So is Roy Acuff.

…. The Grand Ole Opry is a national treasure, and true slice of Americana.

Moving Words From Dustin Black After “Milk” Oscar

Who was not speechless last night after these inspirational words at the Oscars as Dustin Black won for best screenplay?

Help Stop Prop 8 In California…Help Needed Today!

I have been watching the Prop 8 debate in California, as this matter will be the second most important election on November 4, after the vote we cast for President.  As such, I urge my readers who can help out with a few dollars to stop those who wish to undo gay marriage in California to go here and help.

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New York Governor David Paterson Fights For Gay Marriage Equality

There are politicians ‘in the arena’ that deserve praise and recognition.  New York Governor David Paterson is one such politician, if for no other reason than his announcement this week on behalf of gay couples around the nation.

Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Canada.

In a directive issued on May 14, the governor’s legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the agencies that gay couples married elsewhere “should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union.”

The revisions are most likely to involve as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses.

In a videotaped message given to gay community leaders at a dinner on May 17, Mr. Paterson described the move as “a strong step toward marriage equality.” And people on both sides of the issue said it moved the state closer to fully legalizing same-sex unions in this state.

The fact that there will be howls from the knuckle-draggers should not in any way make us think twice about their protests.  As the Tin Man argues quite concisely, there just is no argument to be made for not recognizing gay marriages.

“….the “entire meaning and purpose” of marriage has been altered many times over the years — over centuries, in fact — and that this is not because of a “single politician or court or legislature,” but because of the evolution of society. Marriage is no longer about the joining of two families for economic benefit; it’s no longer about dowries and the subsuming of a woman’s legal identity into that of a man; it’s no longer about the survival of your tribe. For some people it’s not even about having children. Marriage can be about having children, and raising a family, and it usually is. But not always. It can be about happiness and personal stability. It can be about economic benefits. People get married for all sorts of reasons today, and liberalized divorce laws attest to how much society’s definition of marriage has changed over the years.”

The fact is that those who wish to go backwards will have a rough time of it in New York.

Legal challenges to Gov. David A. Paterson’s plan to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions are likely to come thick and fast. But they face an uphill fight, legal experts said on Thursday, given New York’s unusual legal terrain.

There is a new day dawning in America; one that heralds social progress and equality in the same manner that the vast majority of citizens have long enjoyed.  To try and impede that progress, or wish it away, is indefensible and runs counter to the larger themes and hopes that built our nation.

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