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Archive for November, 2008

A sensible judge in Florida ruled in favor of gays adopting. One small step forward….Let’s hope the state’s appeal is defeated.

A Florida circuit judge Tuesday struck down a 31-year-old state law that prevents gays and lesbians from adopting children, allowing a North Miami man to adopt two half-brothers he and his partner have raised as foster children since 2004.

“There is no question, the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida’s goal of providing dependent children a permanent family through adoption,” Judge Cindy S. Lederman wrote in her 53-page ruling.

“The best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.”

The state attorney general’s office has appealed the decision.

She said there is no moral or scientific reason for banning gays and lesbians from adopting, despite the state’s arguments otherwise. The state argued that gays and lesbians have higher odds of suffering from depression, affective and anxiety disorders and substance abuse, and that their households are more unstable.

Lederman said the ban violated children’s right to permanency provided under the Florida statute and under the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. Whether the ban violated the state’s equal protection clause by singling out gays and lesbians should be considered, she said.

Lederman’s ruling paves the way for Martin Gill to legally adopt the two half-brothers, ages 4 and 8, whom he has cared for since December 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

The two boys, who are referred to as John and James Doe in court documents, were removed from their homes on allegations of abandonment and neglect.

“On that December evening, John and James left a world of chronic neglect, emotional impoverishment and deprivation to enter a new world, foreign to them, that was nurturing, safe, structured and stimulating,” Lederman wrote.

In 2006, the children’s respective fathers’ rights were terminated, court documents said, and they remained in the care of Gill and his partner.

“Our family just got a lot more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving,” Gill said Tuesday, according to the ACLU, which represented him.

Florida is the only state that specifically bans all “homosexual” people from adopting children, although it does allow them to be foster parents.

This month, Arkansas voters approved a ballot measure to prohibit unmarried partners — same-sex or opposite-sex couples — from adopting children or from serving as foster parents. The measure is similar to one in Utah, which excludes same-sex couples indirectly through a statute barring all unmarried couples from adopting or taking in foster children.

Mississippi allows single gays and lesbians to adopt, but prohibits same-sex couples from adopting.

Neal Skene, spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families, said the appeal was filed so a statewide resolution on the law could be determined by an appellate court. He noted that another Florida circuit judge declared the law unconstitutional this year but that ruling had not been appealed.

“We need a statewide determination by the appellate courts,” he said.

Gill’s adoption petition cannot be approved until the appeal process is finished, Skene said, but the children will remain in Gill’s home.

“These are wonderful foster parents,” Skene said. “It’s just that we have a statute, [and] the statute is very clear on the issue of adoption.”

Several organizations — including the National Adoption Center, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics — have said that having gay and lesbian parents does not negatively affect children.

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a nonprofit organization that studies adoption and foster care, hailed the decision.

“This ban, which was the only one of its kind in the country, has done nothing but undermine the prospects of boys and girls in the foster care system to get permanent, loving homes,” said Adam Pertman, the Adoption Institute’s executive director, in a written statement.

“So this decision by Judge Lederman is a very important, hopeful ruling for children who need families.”

source: cnn.com

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US-BUSH-KNIGHTS-COLUMBUS

In a press release, spokesman for the Knights of Columbus, Patrick Korten said that the donation from the Knights “is both an indication of how important we believe this referendum to be, and an encouragement to other groups and individuals of all faiths to lend their support as well.”

“From the day the organization was founded 126 years ago, strengthening and protecting the family has always been central to the mission of the Knights of Columbus. Preserving marriage as the indispensable institution in which children are conceived, born and raised to adulthood by a loving father and mother is vital to a healthy society. It is also the most favorable environment in which to protect the rights and best interests of children. We are proud to join the Catholic bishops and priests of California, and so many other people of good will, in this effort on which so much depends.”

The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, may be best known as the group that collects glasses for needy people outside of stores. That gives me the opportunity to run into members a few times per year outside of stores. The next time I see a member outside of a store I’ll let him know how I feel about his organization giving $1,000,000 to take away the rights of my California brothers and sisters. I’ll also let the store manager know what I think.

Don’t email me telling me what a great job they do as a charitable organization. There’s been many groups and individuals over the years seen as ‘good’ only to later disappoint. In this case, the bad far outweighs the good. Their press release above is ignorant and Catholics around the world should be ashamed.

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I think we will finally see some movement in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the arcane “stay in the closet” military requirement for gays. Frankly, the name is a misnomer. If an allegation is made that a member is gay, the military investigates it (asks) and the service member must admit (tell) to it, if true, or risk court marshal.

From msnbc.com:

Admirals, generals: Let gays serve openly

More than 100 retired generals and admirals called Monday for repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays so they can serve openly, according to a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

The move by the military veterans confronts the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama with a thorny political and cultural issue that dogged former President Bill Clinton early in his administration.

“As is the case with Great Britain, Israel, and other nations that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, our service members are professionals who are able to work together effectively despite differences in race, gender, religion, and sexuality,” the officers wrote.

While Obama has expressed support for repeal, he said during the presidential campaign that he would not do so on his own — an indication that he would tread carefully to prevent the issue from becoming a drag on his agenda. Obama said he would instead work with military leaders to build consensus on removing the ban on openly gay service members.

“Although I have consistently said I would repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ I believe that the way to do it is make sure that we are working through a process, getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff clear in terms of what our priorities are going to be,” Obama said in a September interview with the Philadelphia Gay News.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama’s transition team, declined comment.

Flash point for Clinton
The issue of gays in the military became a flash point early in the Clinton administration as Clinton tried to fulfill a campaign promise to end the military’s ban on gays. His efforts created the current compromise policy — ending the ban but prohibiting active-duty service members from openly acknowledging they are gay.

But it came at a political cost. The resulting debate divided service members and veterans, put Democrats on the defensive and provided cannon fodder for social conservatives and Republican critics who questioned Clinton’s patriotism and standing with the military.

Retired Adm. Charles Larson, a four-star admiral and two-time superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy who signed the statement with 104 other retired admirals and generals, said in an interview that he believed Clinton’s approach was flawed because he rushed to change military culture.

Larson said he hoped Obama would take more time to work with the Pentagon. Joining Larson among the signatories was Clifford Alexander, Army secretary under former President Jimmy Carter.

“There are a lot of issues they’ll have to work out, and I think they’ll have to prioritize,” Larson said, noting that the new administration will immediately face combat-readiness issues and budget concerns. “But I hope this would be one of the priority issues in the personnel area.”

The list of 104 former officers who signed the statement appears to signal growing support for resolving the status of gays in the military. Last year, 28 former generals and admirals signed a similar statement.

Generational shift cited
Larson, who has a gay daughter he says has broadened his thinking on the subject, believes a generational shift in attitudes toward homosexuality has created a climate where a repeal is not only workable, but also an important step for keeping talented personnel in the military.

“I know a lot of young people now — even people in the area of having commands of ships and squadrons — and they are much more tolerant, and they believe, as I do, that we have enough regulations on the books to enforce proper standards of human behavior,” Larson said.

The officers’ statement points to data showing there are about 1 million gay and lesbian veterans in the United States, and about 65,000 gays and lesbians currently serving in the military.

The military discharged about 12,340 people between 1994 and 2007 for violating the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a military watchdog group. The number peaked in 2001 at 1,273, but began dropping off sharply after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Last year, 627 military personnel were discharged under the policy.

Political observers say that even though the issue may not be as controversial as it was when Clinton addressed it, it’s impossible to forget what happened then.

Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, said Obama is unlikely to tackle the issue early on. Sabato said he expects Obama to focus on economic recovery and avoid risking the spark of a distracting “brush fire” controversy at the outset.

“I can’t imagine that he will do this right in the beginning, given the Clinton precedent,” Sabato said.

Aaron Belkin, who has studied the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as director of the Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara and organized the officers’ statement, said how Obama addresses the issue will be the first test for the new president on gay rights.

“Everyone is going to be interested to see how he responds,” Belkin said.

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“Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man,” the unanimous opinion striking down the couple’s conviction said, “fundamental to our very existence and survival.”
Anna Quindlen
NEWSWEEK
From the magazine issue dated Nov 24, 2008

One of my favorite Supreme Court cases is Loving v. Virginia, and not just because it has a name that would delight any novelist. It’s because it reminds me, when I’m downhearted, of the truth of the sentiment at the end of “Angels in America,” Tony Kushner’s brilliant play: “The world only spins forward.”

Here are the facts of the case, and if they leave you breathless with disbelief and rage it only proves Kushner’s point, and mine: Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving got married in Washington, D.C. They went home to Virginia, there to be rousted out of their bed one night by police and charged with a felony. The felony was that Mildred was black and Richard was white and they were therefore guilty of miscegenation, which is a $10 word for bigotry. Virginia, like a number of other states, considered cross-racial matrimony a crime at the time.

It turned out that it wasn’t just the state that hated the idea of black people marrying white people. God was onboard, too, according to the trial judge, who wrote, “The fact that He separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” But the Supreme Court, which eventually heard the case, passed over the Almighty for the Constitution, which luckily has an equal-protection clause. “Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man,” the unanimous opinion striking down the couple’s conviction said, “fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

That was in 1967.

Fast-forward to Election Day 2008, and a flurry of state ballot propositions to outlaw gay marriage, all of which were successful. This is the latest wedge issue of the good-old-days crowd, supplanting abortion and immigration. They really put their backs into it this time around, galvanized by court decisions in three states ruling that it is discriminatory not to extend the right to marry to gay men and lesbians.

The most high-profile of those rulings, and the most high-profile ballot proposal, came in California. A state court gave its imprimatur to same-sex marriage in June; the electorate reversed that decision on Nov. 4 with the passage of Proposition 8, which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. The opponents of gay marriage will tell you that the people have spoken. It’s truer to say that money talks. The Mormons donated millions to the anti effort; the Knights of Columbus did, too. Like the judge who ruled in the Loving case, they said they were doing God’s bidding. When I was a small child I always used to picture God on a cloud, with a beard. Now I picture God saying, “Why does all the worst stuff get done in my name?”

Just informationally, this is how things are going to go from here on in: two steps forward, one step back. Courts will continue to rule in some jurisdictions that there is no good reason to forbid same-sex couples from marrying. Legislatures in two states, New York and New Jersey, could pass a measure guaranteeing the right to matrimony to all, and both states have governors who have said they would sign such legislation.

Opponents will scream that the issue should be put to the people, as it was in Arizona, Florida and California. (Arkansas had a different sort of measure, forbidding unmarried couples from adopting or serving as foster parents. This will undoubtedly have the effect of leaving more kids without stable homes. For shame.) Of course if the issue in Loving had been put to the people, there is no doubt that many would have been delighted to make racial intermarriage a crime. That’s why God invented courts.

The world only spins forward.

“I think the day will come when the lesbian and gay community will have its own Loving v. Virginia,” says David Buckel, the Marriage Project director for Lambda Legal.

Yes, and then the past will seem as preposterous and mean-spirited as the events leading up to the Loving decision do today. After all, this is about one of the most powerful forces for good on earth, the determination of two human beings to tether their lives forever. The pitch of the opposition this year spoke to how far we have already come—the states in which civil unions and domestic partnerships are recognized, the families in which gay partners are welcome and beloved.

The antis argued that churches could be forced to perform same-sex unions, when any divorced Roman Catholic can tell you that the clergy refuse to officiate whenever they see fit. They argued that the purpose of same-sex marriage was the indoctrination of children, a popular talking point that has no basis in reality. As Ellen DeGeneres, who was married several months ago to the lovely Portia de Rossi (great dress, girl), said about being shaped by the orientation of those around you, “I was raised by two heterosexuals. I was surrounded by heterosexuals. Just everywhere I looked: heterosexuals. They did not influence me.” As for the notion that allowing gay men and lesbians to marry will destroy conventional marriage, I have found heterosexuals perfectly willing to do that themselves.

The last word here goes to an authority on battling connubial bigotry. On the anniversary of the Loving decision last year, the bride wore tolerance. Mildred Loving, mother and grandmother, who once had cops burst into her bedroom because she was sleeping with her own husband, was quoted in a rare public statement saying she believed all Americans, “no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.” She concluded, “That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

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The following are people or organizations that felt the need to donate to groups that supported California’s Proposition 8. Since they felt so strongly about taking away rights granted to California citizens, I am sure that they want the world to know their feelings as well. Here’s a few dozen to start. I highlighted those that were “generous” to give $500 or more. The other 32,000+ are coming.

MR. RANDALL MCNEELY    APO    AE    LOCKHEED MARTIN NETWORK ENGINEER    $100.00
JACQUELINE HUTCHINS    ANCHORAGE    AK    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $100.00
MR. LAWRENCE CUTTING    ANCHORAGE    AK    MARSH CREEK    SAFETY PROFESSIONAL    $100.00
SHERRY LILLY BATTLE GROUND    WA    BATTLE GROUND SCHOOL DIST    TEACHER    $100.00
DIANNE GRAHAM    BETHEL    AK    LOWER KUSKOKWIM SCHOOL DISTRICT LIBRARIAN    $100.00
DONNA MARSH    PETERSBURG    AK    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $150.00
MR. JARRETT BARRETT    WASILLA    AK    AMERICAN HYPERBARIC CENTER    HYPERBARIC TECHNICIAN    $100.00
MR. JONATHAN TAYLOR    AIRDRIE    AL            $100.00
GAYLE FAIRLESS    HUNTSVILLE    AL    DOD/DIA/MSIC/MSA3    GENERAL ENGINEER    $100.00
GAYLE FAIRLESS    HUNTSVILLE    AL    DOD/DIA/MSIC/MSA3    GENERAL ENGINEER    $100.00
MR. WALTER MORGAN    MOBILE    AL    SDT, INC.    TELECOM SERVICES    $250.00
MR. WALTER MORGAN    MOBILE    AL    SDT, INC.    TELECOM SERVICES    $100.00
MR. WALTER MORGAN    MOBILE    AL    SDT, INC.    TELECOM SERVICES    $250.00
MR. JOHN ENSLEN    WETUMPKA    AL    N/A    RETIRED    $100.00
MR. LYLE JACKSON    LITTLE ROCK    AR    SELF – LYLE JACKSON    INVESTOR    $250.00
MRS. SHAE CHECK    APACHE JCT    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $750.00
MR. DAVID HAGA    AVONDALE    AZ            $100.00
BETSIE PINCKARD    CHANDLER    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $100.00
MR. DENNIS NEWMEYER    CHANDLER    AZ    INTEL ENGINEER    $1,000.00
MR. EARL GOODMAN    CHANDLER    AZ    GOODMAN, GENE, DTL, INC.    PRESIDENT    $9,999.00
MR. JOHN BUDD    CHANDLER    AZ    SOUTHWEST DENTAL GROUP ORTHODONTIST    $300.00
MRS. NICOLE HALL    CHANDLER    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $100.00
HEIDI PETERSEN    GILBERT    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $2,500.00
MR. CURTIS HEYMAN    GILBERT    AZ    RISE ABOVE DEBT RELIEF    DEBT COUNSELOR    $100.00
MR. MICHAEL MARCHESE    GILBERT    AZ    GRAND CANYON COUNCIL BOY SCOUTS COO    $100.00
MR. RICK SMITH    GILBERT    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $100.00
MRS. AMY SEITER    GILBERT    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $100.00
MRS. IRIS PEARSON    GILBERT    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $100.00
STEPHANIE NEWITT    GILBERT    AZ    APPLE BLOSSOM PRESCHOOL    EARLY CHILD EDUCATOR    $100.00
MR. CORY WILKIN    GLENDALE    AZ    LA COUNTY    HR ANALYST    $100.00
MR. MICHAEL CRIDDLE    GLENDALE    AZ    HEALTHWOOD DENTAL    DENTIST    $250.00
MR. ROBERT HILL    GLENDALE    AZ    CITY OF PHOENIX    FIREFIGHTER    $100.00
MRS. LINDA MECHAM    GLENDALE    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $50.00
MRS. NANNETT HINTON    GLENDALE    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $100.00
DEANNA ANGLIN    MARICOPA    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $500.00
DEANNA ANGLIN    MARICOPA    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $500.00

ELIZABETH RUBEN    MESA    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $100.00
ELONA COOLEY    MESA    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $500.00
JAN BROCK    MESA    AZ    BROCK, CRAIG & THACKER ARCHITECT    $100.00
MR. ALLEN MERRILL    MESA    AZ    LEGAL SOLUTIONS    PARALEGAL    $100.00
MR. CHARLES GREER    MESA    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $500.00
MR. KEITH GRIFFIN    MESA    AZ    GRIFFIN BROS    CONTRACTOR    $100.00
MR. RUSSELL TIPTON    MESA    AZ    R THOMAS TIPTON DMD MDS ORTHODONTIST    $1,000.00
MR. SCOTT RANE    MESA    AZ    US FOODSERVICE, INC ACCOUNTANT    $100.00
MRS. HELEN BOLTZ    MESA    AZ    TRESSIDEROL-KINLEY    CHEMICAL PLANT MANAGER    $5,000.00
MRS. LADAWN POWELL    MESA    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $100.00
MR. BENJAMIN MISHLER    PHOENIX    AZ    ERIC BENEFIELD DDS DENTIST    $100.00
MR. BENJAMIN MISHLER    PHOENIX    AZ    ERIC BENEFIELD DDS DENTIST    $50.00
MR. DAVID SUNDHEIMER    PHOENIX    AZ    BANNER ARIZONA MEDICAL CLINIC PHYSICIAN    $1,000.00
MR. DAVID SUNDHEIMER    PHOENIX    AZ    BANNER ARIZONA MEDICAL CLINIC PHYSICIAN    $1,000.00

MR. JAMES DANOVICH    PHOENIX    AZ    JAMES V DANOVICH CPA CPA    $100.00
MR. JOHN JARVIS    PHOENIX    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $100.00
MR. BARRY WILLIS    PRESCOTT    AZ    BARRY WILLS DDS    DENTIST    $100.00
COOLEY FAMILY INVESTMENT LLC    QUEEN CREEK    AZ            $10,000.00
MRS. SANDRA CARR    QUEEN CREEK    AZ    N/A    HOMMAKER    $100.00
AMY SMITH    SCOTTSDALE    AZ    ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND LAWYER    $101.00
DENICE RASMUSSEN    SCOTTSDALE    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $250.00
MR. BEN DIBBLE    SCOTTSDALE    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $2,500.00
MR. GERALD HACKERT    SCOTTSDALE    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $50.00
MR. GERALD HACKERT    SCOTTSDALE    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $50.00
MR. GREGORY SCOTT    SCOTTSDALE    AZ    ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND MEDIA RELATIONS DIRECTOR    $200.00
MR. JAMES GOTTRY    SCOTTSDALE    AZ    ADF MARKETING / COMMUNICATIONS    $210.00
TERESA ANDERSEN    SCOTTSDALE    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $500.00
PATSY SEYMORE    TAYLOR    AZ    N/A    RETIRED    $100.00
MR. BRUCE EKHOLT    TUCSON    AZ    SIATECH CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL    TEACHER    $100.00
MR. TYLER MOTT    TUCSON    AZ    WELLS FARGO BANK    PERSONAL BANKER    $100.00
MRS. HELEN MOULTON    TUCSON    AZ    N/A    HOMEMAKER    $35.00
MR. SAM STOVALL    WADDELL    AZ    WESTERN HOSPITALITY INS    INSURANCE AGENT    $50.00
MR. SAM STOVALL    WADDELL    AZ    WESTERN HOSPITALITY INS    INSURANCE AGENT    $50.00
STACIE POWELL    YUMA    AZ    MARINE CORPS COMMUNITY SERICES    FAMILY READINESS OFFICER    $100.00

Source: California Secretary of State. If you’re on this list by mistake, take your complaint to the California Secretary of State, not me.

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My friends at the Southern Policy Law Center are suing Ron Edwards, head of the Imperial Klans of America, and hoping for a civil judgment that will shut down the organization that has 16 chapters in eight states. The IKA is accused of brutally beating and severely injuring a teenager targeted for being an “illegal spic.” If the SPLC is successful this will bankrupt the second largest klan organization in the US. The SPLC has had good luck with this strategy in the past and let’s hope it continues.

The details:

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit against the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) and four Klansmen, saying several members were on a recruiting mission for the group in July 2006 when they beat a teenage boy at a county fair in Kentucky. The lawsuit claims that as part of an official recruiting drive organized by the IKA leadership, members went to the Meade County Fairgrounds in Brandenburg, Ky., to hand out business cards and flyers advertising a “white-only” IKA function. Two of the Klansmen at the fair began harassing a 16-year-old boy of Panamanian descent, calling him a “spic,” according to the lawsuit. The boy, who stood 5-foot-3 and weighed just 150 pounds, was beaten to the ground and kicked by the Klansmen, one of whom was 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds. The beating left the boy with two cracked ribs, a broken left forearm, multiple cuts and bruises, and jaw injuries requiring extensive dental repair.

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