Going to see this movie today:
Going to see this movie today:
Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to announce her support for gay marriage at a news conference Wednesday morning, according to sources close to the discussions.
The governor’s office won’t comment except to say there will be an 11 a.m. news conference on Wednesday to discuss “marriage equality.”
Leaders of Washington United for Marriage, a coalition of gay-rights, civil-liberties, labor and religious groups, announced in November they plan to pressure the Legislature this coming session to pass a marriage equality law in 2012.
Gregoire has supported giving gay and lesbian partners the same rights that married couples have today, but has never publicly endorsed same-sex marriage.
The Legislature is scheduled to go into session on Monday and wrap up by March 8. In addition to debating gay marriage, lawmakers have a $1.5 billion hole to fill in the state budget.
The North Carolina Family Policy Council’s use of a violent image to promote the state’s proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage has ignited controversy among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates.
The photograph, which can be found on page 13 of the winter 2012 issue of the organization’s Family North Carolina publication, shows a traditionally-dressed bride and groom being targeted by an unseen sniper. It illustrates an article titled “Marriage In Society’s Moral Crosshairs,” by Jacqueline Schaffer, J.D.
“Protecting traditional marriage by enshrining it in the State Constitution is not only socially beneficial, but it is also necessary to protect religious liberty,” Schaffer writes. “When the state sanctions a morally controversial lifestyle such as homosexuality, it will inevitably draw itself into conflict with the religious and moral beliefs of its citizens. Such conflict, however, is not hypothetical, and its outcomes are already well-documented.”
The image has sparked the ire of several bloggers. Writes Unicorn Booty‘s Kevin Farrell: “Did the North Carolina Family Policy Council somehow sleep through that time Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head after Sarah Palin put her in a rifle’s crosshairs? Didn’t we come to the societal conclusion that crosshairs and gun imagery?”
Adds Alvin McEwen of LGBTQ Nation: “Maybe it’s just me, but civil debates on marriage equality don’t necessarily encompass images of an assassin targeting newlyweds.”
Meanwhile, the North Carolina Psychological Association has published what officials have deemed four top reasons why opposing same-sex marriage “is bonkers.” Among them: “There is empirical evidence that opposing denial of marriage rights initiatives has beneficial psychological effects,” and “Psychologists have colleagues and we have clients for whom this issue is relevant and important, and who appreciate representation. From a social justice perspective, significant benefits accrue to all of us when diverse families are legally and socially sanctioned.”
Still, the chances of achieving marriage equality in North Carolina ahead of an amendment on the May 8 primary ballot, which would restrict the state’s recognition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman and place more restrictions on civil unions and domestic partnerships, remain uncertain. “From a biblical position, all I can do is state my position: I believe that homosexuality is a sin,” Rev. Mark Harris, senior minister at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church who was recently elected to a yearlong term as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, tells the Charlotte Observer. “That said, I don’t believe that that position is at the heart of this amendment. If homosexuals choose to maintain a relationship and live together, that’s their business. I don’t believe people should be discriminated against.”
He went on to note that same-sex marriages aren’t good for children: “I just believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ideal. It is such a unique union, and it is absolutely essential to the future of humanity.”
A Colorado-based Girl Scouts troop’s decision to admit a 7-year-old transgender child this fall has prompted three leaders to resign and dissolve their troops.
As The Christian Post is reporting, all three of the troop leaders were affiliated with the Northlake Christian School in Covington, Louisiana.
Susan Bryant-Snure, one of the leaders who resigned, told The Baptist Press that the Girl Scouts’ action is “extremely confusing” and an “almost dangerous situation” for children. “This goes against what we [Northlake Christian School] believe,” said Bryant-Snure, who has three daughters among the 25 girls who had been active scouts there.
The controversy began when Felisha Archuleta protested against a Denver troop’s decision to not initially allow her transgender daughter, Bobby Montoya, to join the group. “I believe he was born in the wrong body,” Archuleta, who also confessed to having difficulty switching from male to female pronouns when discussing her child, told ABC. “But the Girl Scout leader told us he can’t join because he has ‘boy parts.’… But no one would know he’s a boy unless they pulled his pants down.”
The Girl Scouts of Colorado subsequently released a statement through the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in support of Archuleta and her excluded daughter, noting, “If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”
Added Rachelle Trujillo, vice president for communications of the Colorado Girl Scouts: “If a child is living as a girl, that’s good enough for us. We don’t require any proof of gender.”
Bryant-Snure and her fellow leaders are now expected to align themselves with the American Heritage Girls, a Christian organization that was founded in 1995 in response to the Girl Scouts’ decision to let scouts use a word other than “God” in their pledge, according to She Wired.
Deportation could split up lesbian Vt. couple
By DAVE GRAM
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Frances Herbert and her wife, Takako Ueda, were looking forward to the New Year’s Eve family concert at the Baptist Church, the town fireworks on the pond and then a night at home to celebrate the arrival of 2012.But federal immigration authorities have told Ueda she needs to leave the United States for her native Japan by Dec. 31, a move that would split up a couple who have been together more than a decade and were married under Vermont law in April.
Their relatively rare case illuminates the difficulties that binational gay couples face at a time when the Obama administration has pledged not to uphold federal marriage law in courts but the rest of the executive branch – including immigration authorities – still follows the letter of the law.
Federal immigration authorities demand extensive documentation showing that a binational couple claiming to be married really are: witness statements, property records, utility and other household bills showing both names and the like often are required. Herbert said she and Ueda submitted 600 pages of such evidence with their application.
“It’s despicable,” Herbert said. “We had 600 pages of proof, and 599 of them were completely ignored. One line on one page” – the one that said they were both women – “is what they paid attention to.”
Herbert, a 51-year-old home care provider, and Ueda, a 56-year-old graphic designer, live in the southern Vermont town of Dummerston and got letters Dec. 1 from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, telling them that Ueda had to leave the country within 30 days. Ueda’s student visa expired in July.
They had applied for “relative alien” status on the basis that she was the spouse of a U.S. citizen, but the federal agency denied that petition.
The letter to Herbert, who had applied to be Ueda’s sponsor, said that under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law saying the government would not recognize same-sex marriages, they couldn’t be considered spouses. DOMA defines marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”
“Your spouse is not a person of the opposite sex,” wrote Robert Cowan, a U.S. CIS official. “Therefore, under the DOMA, your petition must be denied.”
Only a handful of states recognize same-sex marriages. Experts say there are not reliable numbers on how many couples find themselves in a similar situation to that of Herbert and Ueda, but it’s believed the number is small. Many binational same-sex couples don’t seek spousal status for fear of being rejected because of DOMA.
Steve Ralls, spokesman for Immigration Equality, a nonprofit legal aid group that works on immigration and sexual orientation issues, said one San Francisco couple remained together despite getting government notices that one of the men, an Australian, needed to leave the country, while a New Jersey man’s partner had been deported to Peru.
President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced in February that the administration would no longer defend DOMA in court in the cases in which it is being challenged. But until the issue is resolved, executive branch agencies, including those within the Department of Homeland Security, it remains the law of the land.
But Leslie Holmans, second vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, said that even after getting the types of letters Herbert and Ueda got, some same-sex, binational couples benefit from “prosecutorial discretion” by immigration authorities.
She said many federal prosecutors believe “our systems are so overcrowded that what we really need to be doing is concentrating on people who are a risk to our country. What’s happened is that we have seen some same-sex couples go before the immigration court and ask for prosecutorial discretion.” Government lawyers often respond by “either dismissing cases or they’re not enforcing the notice of deportation.”
Holmans said the situation is far from ideal because affected immigrants are left in “legal limbo,” still without recognized immigration status and unable to get a job or seek other government benefits.
Scott Titshaw, a professor at Mercer University Law School in Georgia who has practiced immigration law and written articles on DOMA, said Ueda and Herbert most likely shouldn’t fear Ueda’s imminent arrest but “still have plenty to worry about.” He said if Ueda traveled abroad, then she might be barred from re-entering the U.S. With local authorities in some states cracking down on illegal immigrants, Ueda might also want avoid travel to places like Arizona and Alabama, which both have strict immigration laws.
Herbert and Ueda first met as students at Aquinas College in Michigan in 1980 and stayed in touch during the next couple of decades after Ueda returned to Japan and married a man. She said that when Herbert went to visit her in Japan in 1999, she made a big decision. “I had a good marriage, but there was something missing, and that something was Frances.” Eight months later, she moved to the United States, and the two had a commitment ceremony in 2000, marrying in 2011.
Both vowed to fight any effort to break them up.
“I’m a really great law obeyer. I grew up in Japan. We follow laws,” Ueda said with a laugh. “But I have a very strong feeling, too, that I won’t go back to Japan. I don’t have a place to live in Japan. My family, my existence, is not there anymore.”