Respect for Marriage Act Moving Towards Passage, Harsh Vitriol From Right-Wing Continues

Last week, when I heard on the radio leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had added their support for the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill enshrining protections for marriage equality, I said to myself ‘wwhhhaatt?’  I recall the strident opposition the Mormon Church had employed for years as gay Americans sought their civil rights in relation to marriage equality issues. I lamented on this blog how large donations from the church to anti-gay rights groups in various states were aiding in the placement of marriage amendments designed to further solidify the notion of ‘one, one woman’. But at the end of 2022 that once-hefty roadblock in Utah to social progress has relented and shortly after Thanksgiving Congress will codify marriage rights for gay couples.

I do not take such political moments lightly, or in any way assume that the blowback will not be vigorous or the outrageous comments less than numerous.  At age 60, I can vouch for the reason we work hard for our rights and know full well why hope is ever important in politics. I have praised forward-thinking pols who stood for the expansion of rights in the nation and have strongly rejected the harsh and vile rhetoric unleashed by those who wish to demonize gay people. Once again, I am heartened by champions who know the need to codify gay marriage rights, and also sad, given that this is 2022 that some in the right wing have not moved the needle whatsoever in their thinking.

It should be noted that this bill, which now heads to the Senate floor has been fashioned akin to the ones Congress could engineer with regularity before it became so constantly dysfunctional.  The bill contains plenty of exemptions for religious groups, making it the type of moderate compromise that allowed 12 Republican senators to move the measure forward with a procedural vote.  

Even with the buy-in from many senators within the GOP caucus I read the following comment about the bill and knew that for some in the nation accepting social progress has been slow and all uphill. “HR 8404 will force every state to honor and obey the insane marriage laws of any other state—even if that state allows pedophilic marriages.”

This type of outlandish bombast is not new. We can recall that in 2010 then-Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch made the stunning statement that extending domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples could lead to allowing people to marry tables and dogs.  That those words were a wildly inaccurate interpretation of the facts goes without saying.  She knew better than to say what she did.  She knew full well they were not grounded in reality.  I also know that in some parts of the country, and even in some areas of Wisconsin, rancid anti-gay slurs and outright bigotry are easily spewed. They continue to do so, in part, because of the reckless rhetoric that is used by some conservative politicians such as Senator Mike Lee of Utah, along with political activists.

Liberty University’s Standing for Freedom Center warned that the legislation “disrespects the religious liberties of millions of Americans who may face judicial assault if they refuse to oblige the left’s tyrannical narratives.” The Freedom Center’s Ryan Helfenbein retweeted its claim,adding, his own warning that “We are opening the door for massive religious persecution on a scale never seen before in America.”

Concerned Women for America called it an “attack” on people “who affirm Biblical morality when it comes to marriage and sexuality.”

Pundit Todd Starnes denounced the Republican senators who “just declared war on the church” by voting to allow the bill to move forward, and he claimed that the bill would “put a target on every Christian church in America.”

Even though we have been down this road many times it is concerning that the same worn-thin lingo and unreasonable fears and relentless attempts to undermine and demean gay Americans still have enough of a well of support to allow bandwidth for those who champion hate. I know the bill will pass and President Biden will sign it into law.  It will be a meaningful and needed move given the stated inclinations from the Supreme Court which were made known in the Dobbs decision and put into clear wording by Justice Clarence Thomas.

It is most clear that a continuous pressing forward by gay Americans will be required to further close the gap between the vast majority of the nation supporting gay rights, and that segment that seems determined to reject modernity.

Morning After Elections, Time Congress Gets Back To Work, Pass Respect for Marriage Act

The counting of the ballots continues this Wednesday morning as the nation slips past a mind-numbing election season. While the bombast and high volume of television advertisements cease there is now the realization with seven weeks left in this congressional session some more work needs to be completed.  I suspect, given the usual playbook for political antics, some needless theatrics will occur over the debt ceiling and perhaps another funding measure. But given the political landscape following the outcome of the races on the ballot Tuesday, I firmly believe that it is imperative the Respect for Marriage Act now passes the Senate. There must be no wiggle room allowed for fuzzy thinking or attempts to squirrel this measure into the pile of bills that do not get concluded this year.

The legislation would require states to recognize same-sex unions.  What we witnessed with the Supreme Court not adhering to precedent when they overturned abortion rights in the Dobbs decision, ending a fundamental right for women’s health care and marking the first time in our history that the Court stripped away a fundamental right, showcases what is at stake for gay marriage rights. The threats to privacy, as it relates to constitutional law when the conservative justices consider future cases, make this matter of marriage great import to families around this nation.

I am reminded, over and over, how Republican presidents who lost the popular vote have placed very conservative justices on the bench, who then often place their ideological preferences ahead of the concept of a living Constitution.  I am also very mindful that Democrats had ample opportunities to bring the Marriage Act to the floor in the summer months, but waffled and failed to just get the job done. The majority of the citizenry–in every state–strongly supports these rights for gay families in the nation. With such national backing, it does beg the question of why the Senate has not found the resolve to pass the measure. When the public desires passage of an issue that does face potential restrictions due to written Court threats, as evidenced by the words of Justice Clarence Thomas in this year’s overturn of Roe, it is easy to see why there is concern about the slow walk. While I can spin the tired lines that Democratic leaders just desired to get Republicans on board with their concerns about religious liberties, I can also assure my readers that gay couples are really not interested, yet again, in being the expendable issue on a negotiating table.

The House, under the able leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. passed the bill in July—and did so with the support of 47 Republicans.  With the various levers that can be employed for Senate passage, I do not care if the chamber inserts the language into a must-pass funding measure or if they pass the bill as a stand-alone measure.  I cannot adequately express how tired it feels to always be asking others to simply allow for the basic rights and dignity to be afforded to gay people, and in this case, married gay couples.

I would hope that for the next few weeks the culture war hysteria can be tamped down so this meaningful and necessary legislation can be passed.  I fully am aware that the various issues facing the LGBT community have been weaponized by conservatives over the past months. It is time now for Democrats to push home the Marriage Act and ensure that the Court cannot erode one more fundamental right in the nation on a whim.

The elections are over, and it is time for Democrats to finish their workload.

Congress Must Codify Same-Sex Marriage, Will GOP Vote For Freedom And Liberty?

Given the ideological ruling from the United States Supreme Court this year, which overturned a 50-year precedent about the right of women to make their own reproductive health care decisions, which also struck at the heart of privacy as an unenumerated right, comes the need to codify same-sex marriage in our statutes.

This week the House of Representatives will vote on the matter, and as news reports questioned this morning, how will the GOP whips deal with the matter among their members?  Can the GOP actually try to gin up opposition to the effort at codifying this fundamental right into law?

With conservatives already seen to be in the extreme seating section of our society, and the majority of the nation reeling from the abortion ruling, will there be an attempt by the GOP to further their distrust among suburban voters and moderates in the nation? Will they provide another log to the culture wars so to play to the angry base of the party, at the expense of their long-term goals?

The reason to have deep concern about this matter rests with the words and actions of the justices, themselves.  Several told the judiciary committee, during their hearings as nominees, of their appreciation for precedent. They convinced enough senators they were sincere. The explosion of the social fabric of the nation, and the threats of more to follow underscore their lack of honesty, regard for the Court, and the laws of the nation.

When they blew up Roe v. Wade it was the words of Justice Clarence Thomas that caught equal attention as the abortion decision, itself. He wrote in a separate opinion that the legal rationale for the decision to overrule the abortion decision could be applied to reconsider other recent landmark cases—including same-sex marriage.

It is truly reprehensible to even need to consider at the margins the loss of rights that a conservative majority on this court might unleash upon the nation concerning same-sex marriage. 

There are hundreds of thousands of couples who have gotten married, adopted children, formed businesses, engaged in legal contracts, and live life in this nation like any other married couple.  We cannot, will not, stand silent knowing, due to presidents who could not muster a mere majority vote from the electorate but still were able to plant jurists on the court, that our fundamental rights can now be exploded and destroyed.

To have anyone tell me that my marriage is not valid, or threatened in any way, or not protected under the laws of this nation is beyond the pale.  That is a line that must not be crossed. 

I have often commented on this blog about sending a positive and reaffirming message to young people who are gay and live in rural and isolated areas.  I grew up in such a place and know the need to have advocates who are fighting in the nation for a better and more just society. I have been a constant voice for gay rights over the decades, and in so doing, trust that it will aid some other young person in this state or around the nation. 

Our nation must not take any action that sends a message to gay youth that their lives do not matter, their individual sexual orientation less important than any other. If conservative Republicans turn their back on freedom and liberty in the congress this week, as it pertains to gay men and women in this nation, then the midterms will be a pitched battle. 

As for me, I walk my talk, and would encourage congress to protect the marriage of Thomas, a black man who married a white woman. As such I would ask that the congress pass legislation to codify Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 decision legalizing interracial marriage, a topic I need to note the conservative justice did not opine about in his abortion opinion.

Justice Thomas Writes Opinion For Rolling Back Gay Marriage, Contraceptive Sales, But Did Not Mention Loving v. Virginia

There is plenty of reason to feel ashamed of the Supreme Court today for its purely partisan and doctrinaire ruling which overturned Roe. v. Wade. With no regard for the social realities of the early 21st century, a majority of the males on the court tossed aside precedent and dived into the idealogic depths. They view women as birthing chambers, as the powerfully worded dissent correctly stated, “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of.”

While the abortion ruling was one the nation knew was coming for a couple months, the gravity of the ruling and the explosion of emotions and political consequences which will follow surely will be quite unlike anything we have witnessed before in the nation. At a time the political divides are already severe, and the anger among citizens is at an intense level, the court opted for a highly partisan and purely ideological ruling rather than a measured and competent address of the issue at hand.

As if the ruling itself was not jarring and threatening enough to the nation, Justice Clarence Thomas in his cold and calculating conservative concurring opinion called for overturning the constitutional rights the court had affirmed for access to contraceptives and LGBTQ rights. This, too, was not totally a surprise as many, including this blog, have argued since the leak of today’s ruling, that they were the next steps of the conservatives in the judiciary. Some commented on this site that I was basically exaggerating.

But those registering concern about the undermining and stripping away of other rulings were not just blowing smoke.

Reading the separate opinion today by Thomas allowed us to understand his initial view that the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization did not directly affect any rights besides abortion. But then in his customary angry nature that is often seen while sitting petulantly in silence during oral arguments, or his 19th-century views when writing, he argued that the constitution’s Due Process Clause does not secure a right to an abortion or any other substantive rights, and he urged the court to apply that reasoning to other landmark cases.

Thomas stunningly wrote, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

Oddly, Thomas left out the famed Loving v. Virginia, the landmark civil rights decision that ruled that laws banning interracial marriage violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. His marriage seemed not to need judicial review.

As we know from years of following the Court and also following legal scholars and noted writers the reckless action today that produced a tingling thrill for conservatives when overturning the landmark decades-old abortion decision, now leaves other precedents vulnerable.

I fully understand that the typical person in Topeka or Green Bay is not pondering the long-term consequences of today’s ruling. But those who follow the cases at the Supreme Court and the politics of moving certain cases forward, and the means by which they make such a journey, do pay attention.

That is why it was sophomoric and utterly ridiculous for anyone to claim two months ago that gay people in our nation had nothing to worry about regarding our marriage rights. What we warned was a possibility was put into writing today by a Supreme Court Justice.

A black man who was able to marry a white woman because of a Supreme court ruling.

Irony is very much alive.

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……

Marriage And Laughter


At times I think of people who have had starter marriages.  It always seems a sad term to be used in our society.  But the fact remains there are far too many of them–those first marriages that last five years or less and ends without the couple having any children together.  I guess we should be glad no children were created as that would just add to the sadness of the divorce.

Coming from a home where marriage was meant to last, (my parents would have celebrated 60 years together at the time of mom’s passing) and coming from my own personal experience of a relationship/marriage going on 20 years, there is strong recognition that the totality of events that unite two people makes for the best path to happiness.

I know of what I write as James and I have spent more time together than most couples ever will.  Other than when he was in front of a college classroom (about 8 hours a week) our days have been spent together.   Just this weekend we mentioned that the idea of being bored is something we have never experienced as a couple.

This weekend I read an interview in The New York Times with Bob Newhart.  He was asked about how to make marriages last.

You and Ginny have been married for 56 years. Incredible in this town.

It is and it isn’t. Among comedians it’s not unusual. Buddy Hackett, Jack Benny, George Burns, Alan King, they all had long marriages. That’s why I think laughter is the secret to longevity of relationships. If you can laugh you can get through it.

I can completely–100% echo–Newhart’s statement. Laughter is so much a key to life and healthy spousal relationships.

I recall many years back very late at night James and I got into one of our laughing jigs.  We were talking about some event or other and the giggling started.  The laughing grew louder.  The old lady who then lived in the upstairs condo started pounding on the floor to stop any sign of merriment.  Failing that she then started slamming doors.  Which only made our laughter the richer.

Smiles and laughs take place in this home soon after waking up and continues well into the night.  I often ask James if “anyone else on this street is laughing like this?”  We tend to think not.  We also know that loving the simple things in life is the key to being content and happy.  From loving the fireflies in summer as darkness sets in, to the long walks and country drives I think couples miss so much by not laughing along the path of life together.

As young couples prepare for marriage and attend counseling classes, I would suggest the religious figure in charge of the meetings devote time to the need for laughter every day.  That should not be a new concept or one hard to understand.  But clearly, with the high rate of divorce from starter marriages, it is a lesson needing to be learned.

And so it goes.

California Should Vote No On Justice Carol Corrigan For Anti-Gay Votes

There are so many races of import come the mid-terms in November.   Gay Americans have a stake in many of them.  One of those races is for the California Supreme Court.  Justice Carol Corrigan must be defeated.

There is no way to defend her actions.

In 2000, Prop 22 passed which defined marriage in California as between one man and one woman.

In 2006, thanks to the leadership of then-Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom the matter ended up in the courts.  A trial court threw out the gender requirements, and then a series of cases went to the California Supreme Court which came to be known as the “Marriage Cases.” In a 4-3 ruling, Carol Corrigan issued a dissent saying she supported marriage equality, but that it should be decided by proposition.

The 4-3 decision temporarily legalized marriage equality in California and 18,000 couples got married.  Then, Prop 8 happened.

It was then that Justice Corrigan ruled in favor of sustaining Prop 8 as the law of the land.  simply unacceptable.

Corrigan voted twice against marriage equality and she took a misguided position in the second case which eventually took the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn in 2015.

As a result of her legal rulings against the civil rights of the LGBT community this is more than enough cause to not retain her as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court.

About Donald Trump, Jr.’s Divorce Papers Being Served….

The divorce news about Donald Trump, Jr. has taken to the front page of NY paper. This paper is owned by Trump family friend and strong supporter Rupert Murdoch.  LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON.

So many gay men and women fought hard to secure marriage rights.  They grasp the meaning of a soul-mate and what vows mean.  Those are just cheap words to the Trump family.

Years before Vanessa Trump filed for divorce from Donald Trump Jr., their marriage was rocked when — around the time she was pregnant with their third child — he cheated on her with a contestant from “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

Page Six has exclusively learned that Don Jr. — then a so-called “adviser” on the NBC show — fell for busty Danity Kane star Aubrey O’Day while filming “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2011.

Sources say that Vanessa — who filed for divorcefrom President Donald Trump’s eldest son last week after 13 years of marriage — was devastated when he told her that he planned to leave her for O’Day.

Vanessa was pregnant with their third child, Tristan, around that time.