Gaylingual: July 2006: Archives
July 29, 2006
July 26, 2006
Given this new "revelation", it only seemed appropriate to put the situation in proper context. We all know the Monica story and now that Ann has exposed us to this nugget of truth, wouldn't it make sense to conclude that Ann and Monica are Bill's fag hags...hmmm" Anyway, thanks to Ann for "serving it up" again.
Gay Marriage: Washington Supreme Court Says No genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions
The long awaited ruling from the Washington state Supreme Court has just been published. The findings of the court held that the definition of marriage being between a man and a woman is constitutional and that DOMA is also constitutional and that there were no compelling reasons to uphold lower court rulings to the contrary. To read the full opinion, link here.
Washington’s long-standing definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and DOMA are both constitutional. Respondents’ numerous challenges under the state and federal constitutions all fail. We conclude that the legislature was justified in enacting DOMA to clarify and reaffirm Washington marriage law by a compelling governmental interest in preserving the institution of marriage, as well as the healthy families and children it promotes. This conclusion may not be changed by mere passage of time or currents of public favor and surely not changed by courts.
Finally, we conclude that neither the due process or right to privacy clauses in article I, section 3 and section 7 nor the equal rights amendment to our state constitution creates a right to marry a person of the same sex. Indeed, these claims are even less persuasive when viewed correctly through the eyes and understanding of those who authored and ratified our constitution (and the ERA amendment).
We add the important conclusion that this decision is required by the relevant constitutional provisions, the history of our laws and precedent in this court, and the United States Supreme Court. This decision is final. 54 The decisions of both trial courts are reversed and these actions dismissed.
On a brighter note, the Court made it clear that nothing prevented allowing for same-sex marriages through the legislative process or through voter initiatives that might be placed on the ballot. The Court sought to make clear that the scope of their ruling was to simply determine if DOMA was constitutional and not to offer their opinions as to what they may believe the law ought to be.
While this ruling will be viewed as a loss within the LGBT community, it may not in the long run be as bad as it appears. The timing of this ruling made it particularly volatile and had the court ruled against DOMA and concluded that same-sex couples could marry, it would have likely provided the Republican Party with a highly charged issue heading towards the crucial November midterm elections. Nonetheless, it is another defeat for same-sex marriage within the court setting. Despite the disappointment, polls do show that the voters are moving in the right direction with regard to same-sex marriage. Even those opposed to same-sex marriage concede that it is merely a matter of time before a majority of voters will support same-sex marriage.
In the meantime, the LGBT community and its supporters must continue to win the hearts and minds of those with whom they associate. This battle is going to be won on a person by person basis and it is essential for each gay American to engage those who they encounter in an honest and open dialogue such that it becomes evident that gays have the same concerns and endure the same hardships and have the same hopes as all Americans. Once that happens, gays will no longer be viewed in the abstract as a group of people who seek to impose an unreasonable agenda. Only then will the fear that drives opposition to same-sex marriage subside.
July 20, 2006
The Deceiver, Part II: Focus On The Family genre: Gaylingual & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions
James Dobson and his organization Focus on the Family (I call it his "Wingdumb") stand by their interpretation of research on gay parenting despite the researchers assertion that the data has been manipulated for political usage. Thought Theater previously reported on the issue here.
Additionally, the organization has launched a campaign to oppose an initiative on the Colorado ballot supporting domestic partnerships. The campaign is called No-Moo-Lies and is meant to offset the ads being run by proponents of the initiative. You can view their website for this particular campaign effort here.
With funding from the Gill Foundation, those who are supporting the measure have launched a campaign called "Born Different". It is about a dog named Norman who moos instead of barks. The point of the advertisement is that being gay isn't a choice. The following is one of the ads they are running:
July 19, 2006
The Gates Foundation announced that it was contributing 287 million dollars towards efforts to develop an AIDS vaccine. Scientists have been seeking a vaccine for some 25 years with little success. Currently, there are more vaccine candidates in the pipeline than have ever before. Nonetheless, experts caution that the virus is very clever and it is possible that none of the current vaccines will produce the desired results. Read the full article here.
The package of grants - 16 in all spread among more than 165 researchers in 19 countries, including Canada _ represents the largest single investment for HIV/AIDS by the philanthropic organization created by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.
"There still remain many unanswered scientific questions, and, in addition, resources haven't always been allocated in the most strategic way, which means there is also a greater need for collaborations amongst investigators.''
To that end, the foundation has earmarked about two-thirds of its grants to create 11 large-scale consortia that will pursue innovative ideas for designing an effective HIV vaccine. The five remaining grants will fund central laboratories and other facilities to ensure that research results from one scientific team can be compared in a standardized fashion with those from other teams.
The aim of this collaborative network is to quickly identify the most promising candidate vaccines and pursue their testing and development, Hellmann said. All the researchers accepted grants on the understanding that any successful vaccine would be made available cheaply and quickly to HIV-ravaged developing countries.
The collaborative notion represents a radical shift in the world of science, where researchers typically jealously guard their results until publication or presentation to their peers.
The donation stands in stark contrast to today's veto, by President Bush, of a bill passed by the House and the Senate to expand stem cell research. Fortunately, there are people like Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett who have made important commitments to furthering scientific research. Until such time as the President recants or is replaced by his successor, the U.S. may lag other nations in the effort to move forward with stem cell research.
July 18, 2006
The situation in Iraq continues to look bleak. The United Nations reports that some 6,000 civilians were killed in the troubled country in May and June. The report also indicates that some of the sectarian violence has begun targeting specific groups including gays. The Associated Press has the full story here.
From The Associated Press:
Hundreds of teachers, judges, religious leaders and doctors have been targeted for death, and thousands of people have fled, the report said. Evidence suggests militants also have begun to target homosexuals, it said.
According to the report, 2,669 civilians were killed in May and 3,149 were killed in June. Those numbers combined two counts: from the Ministry of Health, which records deaths reported by hospitals; and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, which tallies the unidentified bodies it receives.
The report charts a month-by-month increase in the number of civilians killed, from 710 in January to 1,129 in April. In the first six months of the year, it said 14,338 people had been killed.
Women report that their rights have been rolled back by extremist Muslim groups _ both Shiite and Sunni. While under Saddam Hussein's largely secular regime, women faced few social restrictions, they say they are now barred from going to market alone, wearing pants or driving cars.
One is left to wonder who is responsible for security within the country. Despite having 130,000 American soldiers on the ground and the Bush administration assertion that Iraq now has some 260,000 of its own soldiers, the violence seems to continue unabated. A telling fact was revealed by General Pace during a hearing when he responded to a member of Congress who pressed him for the actual number of combat ready troops. The answer was reported in a recent article by Newsweek. The full article can be found here.
A few weeks ago Gen. Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided the real answer. He was asked, pointedly, by a member of Congress, not how many Iraqi forces had been "trained" but how many were capable of sustained, independent operations throughout Iraq today. His answer? None. And it's been three years.
In standard election year form, the Republican Party has now completed its effort to use the issue of same-sex marriage to energize their base. The House vote fell 47 votes shy of the number needed to move the constitutional amendment forward. Bloomberg.com has the full article here.
July 18 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, six weeks after the same Republican-led election-year effort failed in the Senate.
The House voted 236-187, 47 votes short of the 283 required to endorse adding a provision to the Constitution defining marriage as only "the union of a man and a woman.''
Republicans said the proposal is necessary to stop judges from redefining marriage, contributing to the destruction of traditional societal values. Democrats said Republicans pushed the proposal to rally their supporters before the November congressional elections.
Should anyone doubt that politicians spend more time on appealing to voters than on real issues that impact the lives of most Americans, we have now completed a period of dealing with same-sex marriage, flag burning, and internet gambling to name a few. In the meantime we have a Middle East in crisis, high gas prices, spiraling national debt, and an Iraq war than seems to be endless. Nonetheless, I feel better because I would hate to think that those on the religious right might see their marriages fail under the overwhelming impact of the militant homosexual agenda.
July 17, 2006
The Deceiver: Focus On The Family's James Dobson genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions
Following on the heals of the Thought Theater posting on the stem-cell debate that points out that those aligned with the religious the right have been misrepresenting the scientific data, the Associated Press is now reporting on an accusation that James Dobson of Focus on the Family (the same person with whom the White House consulted regarding Supreme Court appointments) has manipulated data to argue that homosexuals should not be allowed to parent children. Read the full article here.
DENVER -- Members of a group supporting parental rights for gays and lesbians accused Focus on the Family founder James Dobson of manipulating research data to say gays and lesbians are not good parents, and began a 65-mile march Monday to confront him at his Colorado Springs headquarters.
Judith Stacey, a sociologist at New York University, said her work was manipulated in an attempt to show gays and lesbians do not make good parents.
"This is a direct misrepresentation of the research," she said.
Focus on the Family spokesman Glenn Stanton cited other research -- including an article co-authored by Mary Parke, a policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, that shows that children need a mother and a father, regardless of the parents' sexual orientation.
Unless I've completely forgotten the basic tenets of religion, lying is unacceptable behavior. It seems that many of today's religious zealots believe they are entitled to alter the facts in order to achieve the goals they hold. Perhaps Mr. Dobson learned how to manipulate the facts from the same experts in the Bush administration that did such a good job with the justifications for invading Iraq. Knowing they are all working together to bring values and morality back to America had me so worked up I almost spoke in tongues...but then I realized I couldn't since I didn't have the required forked one.
July 14, 2006
Gay Marriage Setbacks: Nebraska & Tennessee genre: Gaylingual & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions
Gay marriage suffered two setbacks today...one in Nebraska and one in Tennessee. A Federal Court of Appeals reinstated a Nebraska amendment banning same-sex marriage that had been struck down by a lower court. The Tennessee Supreme Court also ruled dismissed an attempt to keep a measure off the November ballot that seeks to ban same-sex marraige. Read the full story here.
The larger concern with such rulings is that it allows Republicans to utilize the strategy of placing such measures on the upcoming November ballot, a move that assisted them in 2004 when more than ten states voted on marriage initiatives.
In the Nebraska case, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a judge's ruling last year that the ban was too broad and deprived gays and lesbians of participation in the political process, among other things.
The amendment ''and other laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States,'' the appeals court ruled.
Seventy percent of Nebraska voters had approved the ban in 2000.
The Nebraska amendment went farther than similar bans in many states in that it also barred same-sex couples from many legal protections afforded to heterosexual couples. For example the partners of gays and lesbians who work for the state are not entitled to share their health insurance and other benefits.
Forty-five states have specifically barred same-sex marriage through statutes or constitutional amendments.
In the Tennessee case, the American Civil Liberties Union had filed a lawsuit charging that the state failed to meet its own notification requirements for the ballot measure asking voters to ban gay marriage.
The high court ruled unanimously Friday that the ACLU didn't have standing to file the suit and dismissed it.
Tennessee already has a law banning gay marriage, but lawmakers who supported the proposed amendment said they wanted a backup in case the law was overturned.
July 12, 2006
For the first time in the history of HIV, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a single pill therapy for the treatment of the disease that is expected to be made make available for use in the U.S. within approximately a week.
The pill, a combination of three different drugs is called Atripla and it is the result of a collaboration of two pharmaceutical companies, Gillead Inc. and Bristol-Meyers Squibb Company. The three drugs were previously the FDA's recommended first line treatment regimen. Read the full article here.
Atripla, which contains Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s drug Sustiva and Gilead Inc.'s medicines Viread and Emtriva, is the latest step in making it easier for AIDS patients to keep the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV in check -- a process that once included dozens of daily pills.
Atripla will cost $1,150.88 for a 30-day supply and will be available within seven business days, the drugmakers said.
In June, the FDA approved another three-in-one AIDS pill for use in poor countries under a global relief plan. That product contains generic versions of older HIV drugs, and the combination is not sold in the United States.
July 10, 2006
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that an initiative to ban same-sex marriage can be placed on the 2008 ballot if it is approved by the State Legislature in two upcoming sessions prior to the election date. Read the full article here.
The Supreme Judicial Court's ruling was in response to marriage equality supporters who argued that state attorney general Tom Reilly was wrong to approve a ballot measure because they said Massachusetts's constitution bars any citizen-initiated amendment that seeks to reverse a judicial ruling. In 2003 a state court ruled that barring gay couples from marrying was illegal and in May of the following year cleared the way for same-sex marriages. Over 8,000 same-sex couples have been married since.
Monday's ruling by the court declared that the proposed amendment is not a reversal of the earlier ruling that legalized same-sex marriage but a proposed change to the state constitution, which can be legally accomplished through a citizen initiative.
The state legislature must approve the court's decision in two upcoming sessions for the ballot to be put to voters. Supporters of the antigay constitutional amendment believe they have enough votes to win the first round in the legislature.
The decision follows on the recent New York and Georgia rulings, both of which appear to have been setbacks for same-sex marriage. Ruling are still pending in Washington and New Jersey. Today in California, an appeals court began hearing arguments on the legality of prohibiting same-sex marriage. The San Francisco Chronicle has the full article here.
A state appeals court opened a momentous hearing on same-sex marriage today and focused on whether centuries of tradition are a legal justification for California's definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
The hearing marks the first time that the constitutionality of the marriage law has been debated in an appeals court, which under California law has the power to set statewide legal precedents. A ruling is due by October. The case could reach the state Supreme Court next year.
The state and two conservative organizations are appealing a March 2005 ruling by Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco Superior Court, who declared that the marriage law violated the state Constitution in two ways: It discriminated on the basis of sex, and it denied gays and lesbians the fundamental right to marry the partner of their choice. He suspended his ruling during the appeal process.
Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a lawyer for 12 gay and lesbian couples seeking the right to marry, said their suit was based on the same principle of equality that the state's highest court recognized in the 1948 ruling on interracial marriage.
"Same-sex couples are just as able to love, to honor, to cherish and to support one another'' as opposite-sex couples, Minter said. "Their children benefit equally from the stability and status which marriage provides.''
July 9, 2006
UCLA has taken a large step towards demonstrating the ability to use genetic manipulation to create t-cells which are an essential component of the immune system. The results are a further indication of the potential offered by the continuation of controversial stem cell research and may provide a promising means to combat HIV and other immune system ailments. Read the full article here.
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, reported this week that they coaxed stem cells into becoming T-cells, a crucial part of the immune system. If T-cells could be manufactured, doctors would have a powerful new weapon against AIDS and other diseases at their disposal, the investigators said.
But the research "is not ready for prime time," cautioned study co-author Dr. Jerome Zack, a UCLA professor of medicine, microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. It will take several years just to prepare for testing in humans, and even that process will take a while, he said.
Still, "the potential is huge," Zack said. "We have to see if it lives up to that potential."
In the new research, Zack and colleagues tested what happened when blood-forming stem cells were injected into a human thymus that had been implanted into a mouse.
The findings of the federally funded study were released in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The thymus, part of the human immune system, converted the stem cells into T-cells.
In another positive sign, the research suggests that scientists can piggyback a gene onto stem cells, delivering it to a diseased organ.
That ability would allow a treatment to not only create new immune cells but also target a diseased part of the body with gene therapy, Zack explained.
Potentially, the stem-cell therapy could fight any disease that robs the immune system of its ability to function properly.
"The caveat in all of these types of studies is that it is still an early laboratory study, and does not mean that this is a treatment," he said. The public should "realize that such treatments may be years away."
President Bush has opposed expanded funding for the development of additional stem cell lines that were in existence before he approved his limited research initiative. The Bush position has drawn criticism from many within the scientific community as well as from high profile individuals like Nancy Reagan and the late Christopher Reeve. The Senate is expected to bring the issue up for further debate this year. If the Senate were to vote to expand stem cell research, they would need 67 votes in order to overturn an expected Bush veto.
July 7, 2006
Pope Benedict is scheduled to travel to Spain on Saturday and is expected to deliver a message condemning Spain's approval of gay marriage. Read the full article here.
Last month a hard-hitting Vatican document branded gay marriage, abortion, lesbians wanting to bear children and a host of other practices it sees threatening the traditional family as signs of "the eclipse of God" in today's society.
Traditional values will take center stage at the Church's Fifth World Meeting of Families when the Pope closes the gathering with an outdoor mass for up to a million people.
Family values are also likely to be a hot topic when the Pope meets Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who oversaw the gay marriage bill and whose Socialist government is pushing to cut Church funding and religious education in schools.
Spain, once ruled by the Catholic Kings, was the fourth country in the world to allow gay marriage -- a union the Pope has called an expression of "anarchic freedom".
"Marriage as an institution and an asset to humanity is not comparable to other forms of unions," Bishop Ricardo Blazquez, the chairman of the Spanish bishops conference, wrote in a blog to welcome pilgrims to the family meeting.
"We denounce the damage it has suffered and the attempts to change its nature ... There is a gaping divide between what family means to people and society and the treatment it gets from society and the State," he added.
Polls show that around two thirds of Spaniards support gay marriage, a sea change from the atmosphere during the dictatorship of 1939-1975, when Francisco Franco banned homosexuality and divorce.
Surveys also show that while 80 percent of Spaniards say they are Catholic, less than a fifth regularly attend church.
While the Church holds to long held positions on marriage, abortion, contraception, stem cell research, in-vitro fertilization, they continue to lose parishioners in many regions around the world. Europe has seen some of the largest declines. In my opinion, they are well on their way to irrelevance since many of their positions are no longer reasonable or practical. It will be interesting to see if the rigid institution will adapt its positions as Church attendance and participation continues to decline.
July 6, 2006
UPDATE: The ruling was a 4-2 decision and the Court limited its decision to the argument that the constitution did not require that same sex marriages be allowed and they did not argue for or against the State Legislature...