Equality and Justice 4 All

Social Justice, It's What's for Dinner

Summary: developments in Prop. 8 trial, DADT, etc.

Posted by socgradmama on January 9, 2011

I think it’s useful to round-up latest important equality info into one place – not that I (or anyone) can actually accomplish such a task fully but any effort toward that goal is surely useful.  So here’s the latest on the developments in the Prop. 8 case, DADT, and other interesting happenings in the struggle for equality.

Prop.8 Developments
On January 4th, the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling on Prop.8.  However, this ruling was not a ruling on the merits of the case but rather, did two things.  First, it dismissed Imperial County’s claim to standing.  Second, it certified a “question” to the California Supreme Court, asking that Court to rule whether the (private) proponents of Proposition 8 have legal standing according to CA state law.  The Ninth Circuit needs this information in order to make a determination as to whether the proponents have standing in federal court.

Courage Campaign held a live chat/conference call with attorneys Shannon Minter and Chris Stoll to answer questions about the ruling.  I’ve read through the live chat and here are the answers to some questions that are potential “common questions.”

  1. What is the time frame for the CA Supreme Court to answer the question?
    There is basically no time frame. Opinion seems to hold that we’re looking at at least several months.
  2. What are the potential outcomes?
    If the CA Supreme Court rules that the proponents have standing, the Ninth Circuit will rule on the Prop’s constitutionality.  If the CA Supreme Court rules that there the proponents have no standing, the Ninth Circuit would likely dismiss the case.
  3. Can the CA Supreme Court refuse to answer the certified question?
    Yes.  I’m not clear what would happen then but at that point, according to Chris Stoll, it is as if the State is telling the Federal Court to “use your own best judgment” (http://prop8trialtracker.com/2011/01/04/live-on-p8tt-you-got-prop-8-questions-we-got-answers/).
  4. There is a lot of analysis of this latest development.  Overall, opinions are that this looks good for opponents of the case.  First, the fact that Imperial Cty was NOT granted standing is a good thing. According to Shannon Minter, if they had been granted standing, it would have indicated that the appeal was valid and the Ninth Circuit would have had to rule on the merits of the case.  Because the court clerk (not a State official) was not given standing, and the question of the (private) opponents’ standing is still at large, there is still the possibility that the case could be dismissed altogether and we would not face a US Supreme Court trial. In other words, if the Ninth Circuit rules on the merits, the case will most certainly go to the US Supreme Court. At this point in time, that could still be avoided. Second, the fact that the Ninth Circuit is addressing this question of standing does not necessarily mean that they are simply “punting” the issue or trying to avoid having to answer it altogether.  Again, according to Shannon Minter, questions of standing are very important. If the (private) proponents of this initiative are allowed to supersede elected officials in Court, that is a precedent that will have lasting impact beyond this case.  Not only would Prop. 8 be decided in the US Supreme Court (assuming they decided to hear it) but the question of standing would hold as a precedent before that Court.  Also, future discriminatory initiatives would have an easier time in court challenges because they would not require State officials to defend them.  That would be bad news all around for equality and justice.

In summary, it seems that while it is frustrating to now have to wait for the CA Supreme Court to decide if it will answer the question and/or rule, these are good developments for opponents of Proposition 8.  Certainly, the fact that Imperial County was not given standing is reason to celebrate.

All of the various major organizations have put out press releases in regards to this development.  I’ll link two*.  The first is from EQCA who, along with their professed optimism in terms of the case, mention that their amicus brief submitted to the Ninth Circuit was the only brief forwarded to the CA Supreme Court by the Ninth Circuit.  This is indeed the case and, as explained by Shannon Minter (see question 170), is because it was one of the few amicus briefs that addressed the issue of standing.  The Ninth Circuit forwarded one such brief from each side for the CA Supreme Court’s consideration.
MEUSA also issued a press release continuing to affirm that “it is only a matter of time” before marriage is restored.

*As a side note, it is interesting (to me) that the Task Force has not even updated their website to mention the ruling.

I got some very helpful information from Ty Redhouse, the Military Liaison from MEUSA the other night on the state of DADT.
Yes, DADT was repealed on December 18, 2010. However, it still IS IN EFFECT.  Right now there is a certification process in effect that has no timeline for completion.  This process requires the review of the Report by the President, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others. Once it is certified there is a 60 day implementation window.  After that, then it will be an Executive Order ending DADT.  But it could be quite awhile before this actually happens.  And in the meantime, people are still being discharged.

In the meantime there are no fewer than 5 DADT cases in court. The Log Cabin Republicans V Dept. of Justice is one such case and the Plaintiffs are asking the Court to deny the Justice Dept. motion to suspend the case because of the legislative repeal.  Again, people are still being discharged and the timeline for repeal is not set. Col. Victor Fehrenbach vs. the Air Force is still working its way through the courts, as is Witt vs. Dept. of Air Force,, a new case involving three veterans seeking reinstatement, and a class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU over a veteran who’s pay was cut by 50% during discharge proceedings (!).

I get the sense that people need to keep our politico’s feet to the fire over DADT because right now we are ‘waiting to see’ how long this certification process will take.  I’ll keep my eyes open for calls to action.

Other news:
On Oct. 12, the Federal Appeals Court struck down the federal definition of marriage because it violated the equal protection clause and due process.  It is now on appeal.

Other States and Marriage Equality
Rhode Island’s new (Republican) Governor has called for marriage equality in his inauguration speech.
New Mexico’s Attorney General says that the State can recognize out of state same-sex marriages.

The latest on EQCA’s change of leadership:
This LAWeekly article by Patrick Range MacDonald is causing a splash across blogger-land.  In short, there is a lot of history about the “merger” of MECA and EQCA, the rise of EQCA, folks’ problems with Gay, Inc., how Geoff Kors is viewed in Sacramento and by fellow activists, etc.  It’s a good read.

If there’s anything you think I should add, or something that should be in the next installment – I will try to do one of these weekly – then leave me the link in the comments.  Yours in struggle, Socgradmama.


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Proposition 8 Ruled Unconstitutional!!

Posted by socgradmama on August 4, 2010

The decision can be read here: http://bit.ly/d9t7Hv

Thank you to the couples, Paul and Jeff, and Kristin and Sandy, for being brave enough to take it to court. Thank you to the attorneys and to Judge Walker. And many thanks to all the people who have donated, and marched, and spoken their truths. This would never have happened without an amazing amount of work on the part of many.

At the same time, we have to realize that THAT work isn’t finished. Yes, this is in the hands of the courts and yes it will be appealed. But it is also true that we have to continue to do the work of countering homophobia, and its twins racism and sexism, wherever they are found. Only when people’s hearts and minds are touched and changed, only then will repression based on sexuality be forever banished from society. And that work will have to go on no matter where in the judicial process the challenge to Prop. 8 sits or whatever ballot measure we may be forced to either write or fight. I feel sure that all of the folks who will be celebrating tonight, will also be ready to pick up their pens, their picket signs, touch the keys of their keyboards, ipads, and blackberries, and continue to tell their stories.

In the meantime we CELEBRATE!! For a list of events statewide see: http://equalityevents.ning.com/

If you’re local on the Central Coast, join S.A.M.E. at Jill’s Place, 632 Santa Barbara St, Santa Barbara, CA from 7pm on. Let’s raise our glasses, hug one another, and build community for the continuing struggle.

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Local Day of Decision 2 Events – Santa Barbara, CA – August 4, 2010

Posted by socgradmama on August 3, 2010

TOMORROW, August 4th 2010, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker will announce his decision on whether Proposition 8 violated gays’ and lesbians’ right of equality under the U.S. Constitution. Whether it’s good or bad news local LGBT activists will gather…

Join the celebration from 7pm at Jill’s Place, 632 Santa Barbara St.

If it’s BAD NEWS
Join the rally at 6pm on the corner of State & Anapamu streets (in front of the SB Museum of Art)

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A peaceful, inclusive faith

Posted by socgradmama on February 4, 2010

I’m learning to not flinch every time someone says “God” in a public setting because I’m learning that there are ways to talk about faith and religion that are not violent and aggressive, exclusive and painful, but are peaceful, inclusive, and recognize difference and diversity while seeking common ground. President Obama seems to walk that line fairly well (with the exception of the inclusion of Rick Warren at his Inauguration and even there, there are some arguments for such a move although I don’t really “like” those arguments).

His speech at the National Prayer Breakfast is an example of a job well done in my opinion.  What would happen if we all, regardless of our dogma, pursued “progress” as he suggests here:

Yes, there are crimes of conscience that call us to action.  Yes, there are causes that move our hearts and offenses that stir our souls.  But progress doesn’t come when we demonize opponents.  It’s not born in righteous spite.  Progress comes when we open our hearts, when we extend our hands, when we recognize our common humanity.  Progress comes when we look into the eyes of another and see the face of God.  That we might do so — that we will do so all the time, not just some of the time — is my fervent prayer for our nation and the world.

Is that possible?  Or is it only possible for the so-called “liberal” faiths – can conservative, more fundamentalist believers hold their beliefs and still recognize our common humanity?  Do we really all hold similar core values at heart that can be expanded to include all? How do we learn to do that?

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HitRECord’s take on No Cameras at the Prop. 8 Trial

Posted by socgradmama on February 2, 2010

This is great – “made collaboratively during the Sundance Film Festival.”

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Prop. 8 Trial Re-Enactment

Posted by socgradmama on February 2, 2010

How often are trials dramatized days after they end, in full, and for free download?  Check out MarriageTrial.com for a Hollywood Re-Enactment of Perry V Schwarzenegger.  These folks from Hollywood are donating their time to recreate the trial from the transcripts.

Check it out – if you come across a choice piece post the time-stamp in the comments!

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Camp Courage Central Coast Day Two

Posted by socgradmama on January 31, 2010

Day Two has started with a bang, err, a chant.  Each of our wonderful groups came up with a cheer and got us going with creativity and inspiration. Hope Wood tells her story of self – a story of self-realization, action, and personal “work” during necessary downtime.  Now a how-to for building relationships.

Humbled, proud, inspired, determined.

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Day One Camp Courage Central Coast

Posted by socgradmama on January 30, 2010

There is something powerful about standing at a table in the entry-way to a campus lunchroom turned Campsite and welcoming person after person.  Some are clearly appearing with a sense of trepidation, others are lit up with excitement.  They haven’t seen the agenda yet, but they’ve come.  They’ve come because they want a change.  And they’ve come because they are motivated to make that change.  The people in this room – they are the change-makers on the Central Coast.  The knowledge of this, as I sit looking at this room at many people who I know and many that I do not, is humbling and inspiring.  This is how it’s done!

Here they are telling their Story of Self, some for the first time, some for the hundredth.

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What pissed me off this week aka Social Justice Week in Review

Posted by socgradmama on January 24, 2010

Isn’t it “we the people” not “we the corporations”?  Yes, I stole that from the Facebook group but how else to say it?  I mean, what on earth was SCOTUS thinking when they ruled 5-4 to allow corporations directly fund political campaigns?   I feel like I need to reread C. Wright Mills’  “The Power Elite” as what little I remember from undergrad seems to be right on the money.  He basically said that the ordinary citizen (“mass society”) was at the mercy of the combined interests of the economic elite, military sphere, and political sphere.  It’s pretty incredible to me that this man wrote about this right after World War 2 and yet, the illusion of democracy continued another seventy years.

Also making me rage this week is the fact that somehow Massachusetts became a red state this week.  How on earth did Scott Brown get himself elected to the United States Senate?  And in Senator Edward Kennedy’s seat, too.  Goodbye healthcare – did you know the guy actually signed autographs as #41 because that’s the number the Republicans needed to kill the healthcare bill?  Read the link…..I’m not making that up.

And last but not least:  Some racist white man named Don “the Moose” Lewis, is starting an all-white basketball league because, well because he’s a racist.  Of course, he claims to not be – after all, people of color don’t play fundamentally sound basketball and they get a little rough sometimes on that court!  You can learn all about his racist plans here.

Yeah, it’s not been a good week.  But, there was some good news in the Federal Trial of Prop. 8.

In terms of Perry V Schwarzenegger, on Tuesday, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders testified that he changed his mind about equality for gays and lesbians, deciding to support equality (by vetoing a resolution for Prop.8) because he contribute to the hurting of his lesbian daughter or any other gays and lesbians.  Professor M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor (University of Massachusetts Amherst) testified about that banning marriage causes harm to same-sex couples and that letting same-sex couples marry would have no negative economic effects. On Wednesday, over the defenses objections, our side was allowed to play the recorded depositions of two of the defense witnesses who had been withdrawn because they were afraid for their safety (or something dumb like that) if they testified for the defense.  It turns out that their testimony only supported our case – apparently they too found that children aren’t harmed by gay people and that same-sex behavior isn’t really abnormal!  Imagine that! Also on the stand was Ryan Kendall, a gay man who testified about his horrible experiences with conversion therapy.  On the eighth day of the trial, Professor Gary Segura (and Chair of Chicano/a Studies at Stanford), a professor of political science, testified that the ingrained and institutionalized homophobia present does not allow gay people to participate equally in the political arena.  He also talked about the Catholic and Mormon Churches’ extensive influence (financial and otherwise) on the Prop. 8 campaign.  On the final day this week, plaintiff attorneys put Dr. Tam, a very vocal and active proponent of Prop. 8 and a leader in the Chinese evangelical movement, on the stand.  From what I can tell, the point of this was to prove that Dr. Tam was an active, recognized leader of the Yes on 8 movement and that his awful anti-gay rhetoric was condoned by the campaign (this would go to show the level of bias against gays and lesbians).

As I did last week, I’ve been following NCLR’s Shannon Minter on Pam’s House Blend for analysis as well as the tweets of NCLRights.  Several other good sources are in last week’s recap.  I’m not an analyst and am very sharing what I’m learning from others.  I also feel that it’s important to give shout-outs to those scholars and non-scholars alike who are willing to come out for equality.  I continue to be delighted with the good social science being used to argue for LGBT rights as well as the personal stories.  It is those stories that we must tell each other and our less “friendly” neighbors and co-workers to get them to change their minds as did Mayor Sanders.  Even when we get the ruling we want, we still have to do that hard work of tearing down the walls of homophobia in our neighborhoods.  If you’re local, don’t forget to come out to Camp Courage Central Coast this coming weekend – we’ll work on those stories!

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Prop. 8 on Trial and more….Social Justice Week in Review

Posted by socgradmama on January 16, 2010

As usual, there’s a lot happening.  Here’s some highlights:

My thoughts and prayers are with Haitians today (and daily).  I don’t even know where to start linking because it’s horrible everywhere.  Everyone has a particular relief organization to plug and as long as your money isn’t going to exorbitant “administration” costs, it probably doesn’t matter.  Also beware that writing a check actually gets more money into the hands of the people we want to help rather than the banks who take their cut in plastic “fees.” Personally, I’m a fan of Drs Without Borders and Direct Relief International.

My twitter feed slowed considerably today as #prop8 tweeters took a much needed and well-deserved rest from  live-blogging from the Federal Courtroom in San Francisco as Prop. 8 went on trial this week in Perry V Schwarzenegger.  Even before opening arguments in this historic case, there was wrangling over cameras in the courtroom.  Apparently the Pro-8 witnesses are afraid if their bigotry testimony is broadcast.  Judge Walker ruled to allow delayed YouTube video but the Supreme Court blocked that ruling. So the tweeters and bloggers are hard at work and we are very grateful.  In particular, I’ve been following Syd Peterson at LGBT POV, NCLR’s Shannon Minter with daily trial analysis at Pam’s House Blend, LiveBlogging and Analysis from Courage Campaign Institute’s Prop8TrialTracker, and @NCLRights on Twitter.

Now that I’ve given all those fabulous links, I feel rather inadequate at doing justice to any sort of summary.  And while I’m beginning to understand the legal arguments, I’m definitely NOT an expert of any sort so I’m going to leave that discussion to those who are (see above).  But as a graduate student sociologist, I’m fascinated by the amazing amount of social science presented and debated in the courtroom – something that makes this social scientist feel like her field is very much worth her education!  So I’ll briefly mention the contributions of these social scientists. Day One of the trial included opening arguments, moving testimony from the plaintiff couples and arguments about the social construction of marriage as an organizing principle of our society, with historian at Harvard, Dr. Nancy Cott, explaining that marriage has never held one constant meaning but has varied with social changes over time.  On Day Two, Dr. George Chauncey, a social historian of Gay and Lesbian History from Yale, spent time talking about the history of discrimination against gay and lesbian people and tying the legacy of hateful stereotypes to the actions and propaganda of the Yes on 8 Campaign.  From what Shannon Minter is saying, a lot of this goes to trying to establish arguments for heightened protection of gays and lesbians as a stigmatized class.  Day Three saw a social psychologist on the stand, Dr. Anne Peplau, who testified that marriage is good for couple’s relationships and that same-sex couples are no different from other-sex couples in terms of their relationships.  An economist began the testimony on Day four.  Edmund Egan, the chief economist in the Office of the Controller for the City of San Francisco testified about the financial harms done to the City because same-sex couples cannot get married. His testimony was followed by that of a Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia, Dr. Ilan Meyer (he’s a social psychologist +).  He testified as to the physical harms suffered by those who are the victims of LGBT discrimination.  Finally for this week, Day Five included testimony from a child and developmental psychologist, Dr. Michael Lamb (Cambridge – all the tweeters and bloggers mention their enjoyment of his accent), who brought it home that children are not harmed by having LGBT parents and that in fact, there’s no difference in their psychological well-being from children of other-sex parents.  The last person on the stand this week was Helen Zia, an Asian-American author and journalist who testified about her life and her struggles against the prejudice that kept her in the closet for a long time and how she and her partner are accepted (differently and better) now that they are legally married.  It’s not being explicitly discussed this way in the analysis that’s coming out but reading between the lines, it seems as if Zia is also speaking to the intersections of race and sexuality as well.

So there we have it.  In this first week we have an historian, a social historian of LGBT history, two social psychologists, an economist, a child and developmental psychologist and a journalist/author on the stand as well as several couples – all testifying to the harms of homophobia and firmly pushing back at the erroneous stereotypes and beliefs about gays and lesbians as the harmers of children and the ones who want to change marriage forever.  I’m very grateful for them all.

I’d be remiss not to mention a couple of other things that have happened this week.  The Justice Department decided to intervene in a case where a father is suing a school district on behalf of his gay son because they failed to protect him from bullying because of his gender presentation. The UN Urged Uganda to lose their proposed hateful and harmful anti-gay legislation. A judge in DC rejected a suit against their new marriage law. A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage has been introduced (again) in Indiana.

The creation of the healthcare plan continues.  I can’t say as how I understand what’s going on at this point (probably mostly because I gave up when the public option went away) but here’s some articles:  Paying for it is a problem (duh), Democrats are worried about their jobs because their constituents aren’t impressed with the cost and complexity of the bill (duh), and Nebraska tried to get away with no paying their fair share (!!).  So I guess it seems like business as usual.  Can anyone recommend any good blogs on healthcare?

The Immigration Justice Movement is rallying this MLK weekend.  The national media isn’t exactly publicizing actions.  Here’s a blog that lists some of the rallies that have or are occurring.  And Reform Immigration of America is tracking all of the rallies (not to mention has lots of information about immigration justice on the site). I happen to know for a fact that there is an Immigration Justice rally organized by Pueblo happening in Santa Barbara on Monday at 5pm, but damned if I can find  a news article about it!

I think that is about all I have time to sort out for this week.  I’m sure there is a lot of important stuff happening that I’m not catching – please leave me a note and a link in the comments!  As a final note, as an academic and an activist, I’m delighted when scholars manage to effectively cross the “divide” as Drs. Verta Taylor and Katrina Kimport did as their research on the protests to win marriage back 2004 made the national news.  It’s good to have examples to follow!

Don’t forget – Camp Courage Central Coast is coming to Santa Barbara on Jan. 30 and 31.  Reserve your space now as space is limited.  Come help build our community through the power of shared stories.  This training will give you tangible skills for working toward equality and justice through all whether that is in the form of those difficult conversations or whether you want to learn to host house parties! See here for more details.

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