Monday, June 29, 2015
The US is in a buzz with the confirmed interpretation of the Constitution by SCOTUS that marriage is equally protected for all legal and consenting adults, irrespective of gender. Conservatives bemoan the decline of the "sacred" nature of traditional marriage and the family, as well as the infringement of religious liberties and democracy, while liberals celebrate the social progress and victory towards a "more perfect union".
Within three weeks, assuming no challenge to the ruling, all states and counties in the US must issue licenses to same-sex couples, including the 14 states who still had bans on it. Many counties immediately issued licenses upon hearing the ruling, while others decided to withhold following the law until more instruction was provided. Others claimed technical difficulties to excuse providing the licenses.
Friday evening, hundreds of Utahns gathered at City Creek Park to rally in celebration of the ruling--excited to know that their country recognizes same-sex marriages as valid, protected unions. The Episcopal Church had several ministers at the rally willing to marry same-sex couples on the spot. Although many if not most Christian institutions are against same-sex marriages, others use religion as a reason to fight for marriage equality. Other such rallies were organized across the US.
In light of the Supreme Court decision, a group has organized a protesting a conference for the "World Congress of Families" in October. The family conference focuses on the "natural family", meaning it only recognizing a marriage between one man and one woman. The HRC announced that it would be holding a counter conference just before the family conference. They will decry the World Congress of Families as discriminatory and exclusive to the diversity of families. Families come in all shapes and sizes, they say, and Utah is not a place to discriminate against certain types of families. Inclusiveness and celebration of diversity will be the focus--in contrast to the World Congress.
In addition, Republican presidential seekers have switched their debate from same-sex marriage to religious freedom. Some politicians are seeking for judicial reform, where appointed judges must undergo democratic review, or be voted in altogether. Others wish to restrict the ability of judicial decisions to affect religious groups--specifically decisions on marriage. Laws across the nation have popped up in defense of traditional marriage. They seek to prevent the government from forcing religious institutions to marry same-sex couples or from performing other actions that go against their beliefs. Other laws, including one introduced by Mike Lee of Utah, seek to prevent government punishment to anyone who discriminates against same-sex married couples (essentially again legalizing discrimination based on religion).
Although the ruling resolves the national confusion of what is legal in terms of marriage, the debate continues, and the fight will escalate. LGBT activists are still pushing for national nondiscrimination in housing, business, and education concerning gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Conservatives will attempts to retaliate against the ruling by introducing more laws to protect religion and religious individuals (and even businesses operated by religious people), further reducing the equality and dignity for LGBT Americans.
Friday, June 26, 2015
In the Obergefell v Hodges case concerning the validity of state-wide bans on same-sex marriage, the US Supreme Court has ruled that such bans are unconstitutional. It was a 5-4 decision, with the same justices from the United States v. Windsor case supporting the ruling. The four dissenters, all conservatives, each wrote their own opinions, but agreed that the bans should be left up to the states. Justice Scalia stated that he feared the court's overreach would lead to the demise of democracy, and that the ruling had nothing to do with the Constitution. But the majority opinion agreed that under the 14th Amendment and Due Process, it was imperative that dignity be restored to loving same-sex couples to be equal in opportunities to express love and intimacy, as well as to be granted the protections that come along with marriage.
Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, saying :
“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. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
Utah is celebrating this historic ruling at City Creek Park tonight at 6pm. Come join the rally for marriage equality victory!
Friday, June 19, 2015
Utah Senator Mike Lee has again introduced a bill to provide excuses for individuals, companies, and institutions to discriminate. The bill wasn't heard last year, just as all other bills in the same-sex marriage genre.
In essence, the law allow people to discriminate again based on their "deeply held religious beliefs" that same-sex marriages/unions/partners are sinful. This is a result of the bill preventing the government, state or federal, from penalizing anyone in the form of tax exemption removal, contract, license, or certification denial.
Although holding the beliefs that someone's marriage is bad and less valid than yours is a given right in the states, this law will perpetuate the thought that discriminating, whether intentional or not, is OK. Anyone who believes that same-sex marriage is evil is going to naturally discriminate against those who have one (or are gay, most likely).
The laws in place already protect religions from having to perform SSM. People are already protected from retribution for holding negative beliefs concerning SSM. Mr. Lee is going too far to slap Utah LGBT citizens in the face by saying, "Since we can't stop you from getting married, we're going to make sure we can legally criticize you as much as possible."
Friday, June 12, 2015
Rick Jones, owner of pizzeria "Grand Central Station" in Delta, Utah, and his family, have been the victims of a string of terrorizing events. Assault, vandalism, slander, theft, and attempted arson are just a few of the crimes committed against Jones and his family. The events have been grossly under-reported by the media, as the anti-gay hate crimes are often taboo in small conservative towns like Delta.
Jones reported being knocked out near closing his restaurant and came to realizing his assailant attempting to force him to drink bleach. There was also cut into his arm, the words "Die Fag". The same words were graffiti-ed on his family's home garage, and yelled at him as a flaming cocktail was thrown through a window of the home. His pizzeria was burglarized, vandalized, and robbed the same day.
The Delta Sheriff's department has no leads but is intent on finding the perpetrators involved in these terrible hate crimes.
According to police reports, the hate crimes were allegedly staged by Jones as a "cry for help", as stated by attorneys. Although residents of Delta are relieved that there appears to be no one committing such crimes, it pains them that Jones was staging them. Whether the crimes were staged or not, Jones will likely need serious counseling. It would be a sad "crying wolf" situation for hate crimes against gay people, taking away serious consideration in cases where it might be true.
Friday, June 5, 2015
Come join us at the SLC Pride festival and parade! The festival is open Saturday and Sunday at Washington and Library squares. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. Saturday 3-6pm is family time and more "PG".
The Parade starts at 10am Sunday and travels down 200 South westward from about 3rd East to about West Temple.
Monday, June 1, 2015
Mr. Tom Perry, a Mormon Apostle, 92 and one of the eldest and most senior Mormon leaders, died this weekend from cancerous complications.
Perry was always seen as a positive smiley person on the Mormon Conference Center Pulpit. But his involvement in politics and LGBT related news makes him notable in a different way. He was involved in the SB296 bill that added anti discrimination in Utah's housing and employment. It was clear to many that he supported litigation that protected LGBT people as well as religious liberties. He was one of several that defined their support in such a manner.
Perry's positive reviews with gay people all but rusted away when his last Mormon General Conference talk in April warned listeners of "the dangers of alternative and counterfeit lifestyles", which many LGBT people took as an attack. Although talks are usually worded in a very general way to make the target they paint on themselves more blurry, Perry's son stated that the wording in the talk may have taken on "more meaning than he intended".