Democrats Seek to Take Back PA 6 With Mike Parrish

Mike ParrishWe spend a lot of time thinking about the presidential race, but we should remember that the House and its 435 seats are also on this November’s ballot. Here in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, the Democratics have an opportunity to capture the seat because their running a strong candidate with a great biography against first term Republican Ryan Costello who’s been committed to voting the GOP line since he got to DC. I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with Mike Parrish, Democrat for Congress and you can read all about his background and his stand on the issues.  [Read more…]

Alabama Supreme Court Judge Equates Gay Marriage & Nazi War Crimes

Alabama Supreme Court  Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

— by Sharon Bender

In the aftermath of the landmark Supreme Court decision granting marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore responded to an Al.com reporter’s question about enforcing the notable decision. He told the reporter that enforcing the Supreme Court ruling is akin to following the immoral orders of the Nazis.

It is disgraceful to use Nazi imagery to invoke a political or social view. Comparing the systemic attempt to annihilate an entire population to a peaceful Supreme Court decision minimizes the very magnitude of the Nazis’ maniacal efforts to murder Jews, gays and others across Europe and eventually, they hoped, the world.

Moore told the reporter: “Could I do this if I were in Nuremberg [at the war crimes trials after World War II], say that I was following the orders of the highest authority to kill Jews? … Could I say I was ordered to do so?”

Told by the reporter that: “killing human beings, not gay marriage,” was the focus of the Nuremberg trials, Moore reportedly asked: “Is there a difference?”

This shameful, inappropriate comparison trivializes both the unique atrocity that was the Holocaust as well as the momentous equality decision by the Supreme Court.

Respect for Marriage Grounds a Compelling Supreme Court Decision

Hollingsworth_v._Perry[1]Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinions in gay rights cases have always reached for rhetorical heights, and some critics confuse that with mushy thinking. But his decision in the same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges is compelling precisely because it avoids some of the cheap clichés that have marked many prior lower court opinions declaring a right to same-sex marriage.

Justice Kennedy, writing for the Court, did not claim that opponents of same-sex marriage are merely bigoted. To the contrary, he acknowledged that many opponents “reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.” Justice Kennedy did not hold that bans on same-sex marriage are simply “irrational” as some other judges have. Instead, he relied on the fundamental right to marry.

Other courts had only thought it possible to uphold a right to same-sex marriage by hollowing out the significance of marriage itself. But Justice Kennedy did just the opposite. Thus, while the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court insisted that civil marriage is a “wholly secular institution,” a mere civil contract, Justice Kennedy emphasized the “centrality of marriage to the human condition” as reiterated in “untold references to the beauty of marriage in religious and philosophical texts spanning time, cultures, and faiths.”

Similarly, Justice Kennedy did not dismiss the link between marriage and procreation. Instead, he held that one reason “for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education,” while also insisting that the exercise of the right in particular cases cannot be conditioned on the ability or willingness to have children.

More generally, Justice Kennedy argued, “Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect — and need — for its privileges and responsibilities.” Similarly, near the end of the opinion, he wrote, “It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.”

This is, in short, in many of the best respects, a deeply “conservative” opinion, upholding not only the right to same-sex marriage but the abiding constitutional, cultural, religious, and moral significance of marriage itself.

Concluding paragraph of today's historic decision.

Concluding paragraph of today’s historic decision.

Also posted in Rutgers Today and Religious Left Law.

Perry Dane is a Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law – Camden. His prior writings on same-sex marriage include “Natural Law, Equality, and Same-Sex Marriage.”

Same Sex Marriage in Montgomery County

Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29

Last week, Montgomery County’s Register of Wills Bruce Hanes announced that he would start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In today’s Philadelphia Daily News, State Senate Daylin Leach defends Hanes’ action:

These licenses would seem to be issued in contradiction to the Pennsylvania statute that limits marriage to one man and one woman. Mr. Hanes says that he believes that law is unconstitutional and therefore not enforceable.

Some have attacked Mr. Hanes for essentially going rogue. They say that he does not have the authority to pick and choose which laws he wants to enforce and which ones he does not. They also point out that if a law is unconstitutional, it should be a judge who makes that determination, not a county row officer. While these are reasonable points to make, they miss the true issues at stake. A more comprehensive review of relevant legal issues reveals that the actions taken by Mr. Hanes were, in fact, correct.

In fact, Leach officiated over a Montgomery County same-sex marriage on Monday and PoliticsPA wrote a  piece about it entitled Leach Loves Gays So Much He Marries Them:

“I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to officiate the marriage of a wonderful, loving couple this afternoon in Montgomery County,” Leach said. “Today’s ceremony proves that little by little, we are making strides toward full equality here in Pennsylvania. Each court ruling and each supportive decision made by elected officials puts another crack in the armor of discrimination. Today’s ceremony shows that love can indeed conquer all.”

Leach has long been a supporter of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. He introduced the first bill in the state Senate to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010.

DOMA, Proposition 8 Decisions and What Makes Our Nation Great

— by Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 were met with celebration by many who have supported the right of people of the same sex to marry. Others have felt that such rights should not be afforded because of earnestly held religious beliefs. There are differing opinions as to how Jews should respond to this issue, although there is consensus that Judaism teaches respect for others and that we abhor discrimination against individuals.

More after the jump.
We live in a democratic society, in which we are all free to express our opinions about social issues and to advocate vigorously for those opinions. That is part of what makes our nation great. We have a system of laws that protects our rights to speech, religion — and to petition our government to redress grievances as the plaintiffs in the marriage cases did today. No one group and no religion has the right to dictate its beliefs to the entire body politic. In the end, our democratic process determines matters such as this, and that process has spoken. Many in our community are celebrating this decision. Others do not join in that celebration. Together, we must continue in honest dialogue, learning from one another, and striving for what is best for our community and our nation.

It’s Time for Pennsylvania to Pass Marriage Equality Legislation


An LGBT flag in Philadelphia

— by State Senator Daylin Leach

Yesterday, the Supreme Court spoke on the issue of marriage equality. And the sound you heard is the arc of history bending toward justice. The court did two things:

  • They struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which means that gay and lesbian couples who are legally married in any state, are now fully and completely married in the eyes of the federal government — they will now receive all rights and benefits of marriage — and the obscene discrimination that they faced in federal law prior to today is over.
  • The court also dismissed the appeal of a lower court’s decision striking down Proposition 8 in California. This means that the lower court’s ruling stands, and that gay and lesbian couples in California are now legally free to marry the person they love, and 38 million Californians now live under equality.

Continued after the jump.
These two decisions bring our nation into line with our historic values. Discrimination and bigotry are simply not in America’s DNA. The Court’s decision in the DOMA case was particularly poignant and insightful, saying that laws that treat gay and straight people differently have “no legitimate purpose.”

This language, and these decisions make it clear that legal discrimination against gay people is on its way to the ash-heap of history. The legislature and governor of Pennsylvania now have a crucial decision to make. Do we now embrace equality and, as Hubert Humphrey said, “walk into the bright sunshine of human rights?” Or do we join states like Mississippi and Alabama as dead-enders, fighting a sad and futile battle for prejudice and fear?

I know where I stand. And the polls show where the people of Pennsylvania stand. It’s time for our government to do right by all of the people of our great Commonwealth, and pass marriage equality and anti-discrimination legislation this year.

Reform Movement Welcomes Court Striking Down Prop. 8

— Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Jonathan Stein, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis

We commend the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional. While the decision is narrow, it is nonetheless an important step forward in the achievement of marriage equality. As the purveyor of civil marriage, government should embrace an inclusive definition of marriage that establishes equality for all couples, regardless of the sex of the people involved.

Our holy texts teach us that all people are created b’tselem Elohim (in the Divine image) (Gen. 1:27), and as such are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. We are inspired by our faith and history to stand up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans, for we have known the experience of being victims of group hatred, persecution, and discrimination. We feel a keen empathy for those who can still be victimized, deprived of opportunities, including the opportunity to marry, because of their identity.

We welcome today’s ruling and move forward with renewed resolve as we work toward the day when all Americans will be able to marry the person that they love.