Pope Francis, who recently offered penitent Catholics time off from Purgatory in return for following him on Twitter, recently arrived in Brazil for a five day tour in celebration of World Youth Day, a pilgrimage of sorts for Catholic youth. However, not everyone was thrilled with the Pope's presence. As US News points out, "On Monday night, the Argentinian-born pope got a very different reception from young LGBT Brazilians, who staged a beijaco, or kiss-in, along the papal motorcade route." No doubt the Pope's ardent opposition to marriage equality has not sat well with LGBT activists in Brazil.
Far from being the only ones discontented by the Pope's visit, The Campaign for Brazilian Women has also organized an event they're calling a "SlutWalk" where protesters march in risque nun outfits. Said Rogeria Peixinho, an activist involved with the campaign, "We want to show that there's another youth and another way of thinking that is against oppression and the control of female sexuality." LGBT protesters have also planned another gay kiss-in for July 25 on Copacabana Beach to coincide with Pope Francis' speech, according to Pink News.
It's no secret that the National Organization for Marriage is dissatisfied with the Supreme Court's recent decisions that did away with Prop 8 and Section 3 of DOMA. After plenty of ranting and raving, the organization has now resorted to some of their older tactics, which include distorting facts and figures. This time around, NOM and The Heritage Foundation are trying to present pseudo-scientific data linking marriage equality with single motherhood, children in poverty, and the claim that men will start to leave their wives if they are allowed to marry other men.
The data in question comes via a chart publicized by the two groups, comparing rates of poverty of single-mother households to that of two-parent households. Not surprisingly, when compared side-by-side, single-mother households ranked significantly higher. While this may not come as a shock to very many, subsequent arguments made by Heritage's Ryan T. Anderson just might:
"Redefining marriage further distances marriage from the needs of children and denies the importance of mothers and fathers. Redefining marriage rejects as a matter of policy the ideal that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage diminishes the social pressures for husbands to remain with their wives and children, and for men and women to marry before having children."
In other words, "redefining marriage" would create more of these single-mother households, since husbands will no longer feel obligated to stay with their wives after they have children. This would then lead to increased levels of poverty, much like the ones illustrated in the chart. Alvin McEwen was good enough to point out that “the Heritage Foundation offers no proof that marriage equality leads to single-mother families.” Furthermore, ThinkProgress also observes that...
"The study is based on census data and presents no comparable information about the experience of children in same-sex families. This follows a long trend of conservative groups citing studies about “fatherless” children — those being raised by single mothers — and trying to attribute those results to families headed by lesbian couples."
Raw Story presented another interesting counter-argument, claiming that growing acceptance of LGBT people and their rights actually reduces the number of straight marriages that are torn apart when one spouse chooses to come out.
"It’s homophobia that causes people to get married, have kids, and struggle for years before the pressure of living a lie causes them to come out, divorce their spouse, and live as a gay person."
To substantiate this, they presented data which indicated that there are actually more same-sex couples raising kids in red states and areas with more overt homophobia. They argue "that’s because, despite gay couples adopting or having kids together, most gay parents still got their kids during a closeted period in their life."
Whether you agree with the latter claim or not, there is almost no denying that the former claim made by NOM and Heritage is a stretch at best, and is one that echoes many previous arguments previously made by opponents of marriage equality. Raw Story is not surprised:
"Threatening women with male infidelity or with the fear that men will reject marriage if there’s other options available is a long-standing argument against women’s sexual liberation, so it’s not surprising that the anti-gay arguments are basically an extremely strained attempt to do the same thing."
For Immigration Purposes, Validity of Same-Sex Marriages Likely to Be Based On Where Couples Were Married
Last week, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the highest administrative body in the Department of Justice that considers immigration matters, ruled in a pending case that same-sex couples' marriages should be viewed in light of where the couple was married (the so-called 'place of celebration rule') rather than the state in which the couple lives (the 'place of domicile rule'). The decision, which will likely hold sway in future cases, brings some clarity to the confusing issue of how and when the federal government will recognize same-sex marriage licenses as valid.
The BIA ruling follows an announcement in late June by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who said her office would opt for the 'place of celebration rule,'--a decision which diverged from previous practices based on where a couple lived but which would have held no sway outside her department. Writing on his blog Art Leonard Observations, New York Law School Professor Arthur Leonard explains the details behind the new decision:
Serge Polajenko, a U.S. citizen, filed a Petition for Alien Relative, called an I-130, on March 10, 2010, on behalf of his husband, Oleg Zeleniak, after the men were married in Vermont. The petition was denied on July 27, 2010, on the ground that DOMA, Section 3, barred immigration authorities from recognizing same-sex marriages. Polajenko appealed to the BIA, which issued a decision on April 18, 2012, sending the case back to the National Benefits Center Director to address two issues: first, whether the Polajenko-Zeleniak marriage was valid under state law, and second, whether the marriage qualifies as bona fide as required by the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The questions posed by BIA are two distinctly separate issues, arising under two different bodies of law. The second concerns the requirement that a marriage be “bona fide,” not a marriage of convenience entered for the purpose of getting a “green card” (authorization to live and work in the United States), but rather a “real marriage” of parties intending to live as spouses.
In its decision, the BIA held that the Supreme Court's ruling in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case U.S. v. Windsor "removed Section 3 of the DOMA as an impediment to the recognition of lawful same-sex marriages and spouses if the marriage is valid under the laws of the State where it was celebrated." The BIA remanded the case to the National Benefits Center Director to determine whether the marriage was indeed bona fide.
As Leonard points out, the BIA's ruling in the Zeleniak case now stands as precedent establishing the 'place of celebration rule' as the proper standard to use in immigration proceedings. "Although the BIA did not address the issue directly," Leonard goes on to explain, "presumably the place of celebration rule also extends to marriages between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals that take place outside the U.S., in one of the dozen or so other countries that allow same-sex marriages."
Now that the BIA and the Department of Homeland Security are both committed to using the 'place of celebration rule,' same-sex couples' marriages should be recognized for immigration purposes regardless of where they're living. Still, the legal wrangling around the issue demonstrates that complexity will persist until DOMA is fully repealed or the Respect for Marriage Act is passed by Congress.
Following a lawsuit filed in June by a gay couple in New Mexico challenging the state's ambiguous law that seemed to ban gay marriage, state Attorney General Gary King has said the state Supreme Court should allow gay couples to marry, The Miami Herald reports:
"King, a Democrat who plans to run for governor next year against Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, said New Mexico law effectively doesn't allow gay marriages although there's no statutory provision that specifically prohibits, or authorizes, gay couples to be married.
"New Mexico's guarantee of equal protection to its citizens demands that same-sex couples be permitted to enjoy the benefits of marriage in the same way and to the same extent as other New Mexico citizens," King said in the filing."
New Mexico's Supreme Court had previously asked King to weigh in on the matter though it is uncertain how the court will ultimately rule. Complicating the matter is the fact that King, while arguing for equal rights also argued that the court should reject the petition filed by Alexander Hanna and Von Hudson, the couple seeking a marriage license denied to them by a county clerk, because the court doesn't have the authority to "issue such an order involving a county official — only state officers, boards and commissions":
"King said if the court granted the request by the Santa Fe couple it would set a precedent that could overload the justices with requests for similar orders "concerning any dispute a party has with any local or county official," such as county tax assessment protests and local zoning disputes."
The couple who filed the petition with the court, however, remain optimistic. State Rep. Brian Egolf, who represents the couple, spoke on their behalf:
"They believe that [the same-sex marriage prohibition] is the ultimate issue in the case and hope that [the] Supreme Court will not allow an unconstitutional statute to stay on the books," said Egolf, who unsuccessfully pushed a proposed constitutional amendment in this year's Legislature to legalize gay marriage"
Late last week, San Diego County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg Jr. filed a petition with the California Supreme Court to halt same-sex marriages in the state on the grounds that the 2010 federal court ruling by District Judge Vaugh Walker only applies to the two couples who petitioned the court and their respective counties (Los Angeles and Alameda). On Monday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris strongly urged the court to deny the request for a stay, according to the LA Times:
“The public interest weighs sharply against issuing a stay in this case,” Harris’ office argued. “After years of litigation, there is now a final determination that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”
Responding to Dronenburg's notion that a more limited view of Walker's ruling should be applied, "Harris countered that [Walker's] injunction applied statewide because it also ordered [Governor] Brown and other statewide officials to stop enforcing Proposition 8, and those officials have authority over county clerks."
In briefs filed with the Court, Harris went even further in arguing against the requested stay of same-sex marriages:
"The Court should deny the stay because the petitioner has no likelihood of success on the merits. The petition is an impermissible collateral attack on the district court's final judgment. This Court is not the proper forum to litigate the scope or validity of the district court's injunction, as that question is properly presented to the federal district court. The federal injunction applies statewide, and the State Registrar's notices to the petitioner of his legal obligations under the terms of a federal injunction do not violate article III, section 3.5 of the California Constitution. Even if successful, the requested stay would not shield petitioner from proceedings to compel his compliance with the federal injunction."
Dronenburg's petition is the second in California to challenge same-sex marriage in California since the Supreme Court overturned Prop. 8 on a question of standing in June. Last week a request from the backers of Prop. 8 to halt gay marriages was denied by the California Supreme Court.
Read Harris' opposition to the stay AFTER THE JUMP...
Kelly Rowland debuted the video for her new single, "Dirty Laundry," yesterday. The song makes good on its title, exposing Rowland's relationship with an abusive boyfriend and the struggles she's faced in her career, living in the shadow of Queen Bey.
Watch as Kelly airs her dirty laundry in public AFTER THE JUMP...
(Warning: language NSFW).