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SCOTUS Protester Who Interrupted Marriage Arguments with Anti-Gay Outburst is Identified: AUDIO

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The man who disrupted yesterday's Supreme Court hearings on marriage by yelling "If you support gay marriage, then you will burn in hell" and was taken into custody was identified as Rives Miller Grogan, a 49-year-old who has been arrested before:

GroganGrogan has a history of being kicked out of things. He had been blocked from the U.S. Capitol for shouting anti-abortion rhetoric, was arrested after he ran onto the field of a Cincinnati Reds game, and again when he climbed a tree and tried to shout down President Obama during his 2013 inauguration.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, William Miller, said prosecutors are reviewing the matter.

Justice Antonin Scalia called the outburst "rather refreshing actually," to a burst of laughter.

Listen to the outburst that made Scalia feel all good inside, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "SCOTUS Protester Who Interrupted Marriage Arguments with Anti-Gay Outburst is Identified: AUDIO" »


Barney Frank Tells Seth Meyers He Can't Wait to See Scalia 'Go Up in a Puff of Smoke' Over the Marriage Ruling: VIDEO

Frank

Former Congressman Barney Frank sat down with Seth Meyers last night to offer his take on the marriage equality arguments before SCOTUS yesterday, and the pace at which gay rights has been moving in the country.

Frank said what he was most anticipating was the reaction of one particular justice:

"I cannot wait to see Justice Scalia's reaction. I am suspecting that like Rumpelstiltskin he will stamp his feet and go up in smoke."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Barney Frank Tells Seth Meyers He Can't Wait to See Scalia 'Go Up in a Puff of Smoke' Over the Marriage Ruling: VIDEO" »


Why Marriage Equality in Florida Is a Sign of Good Things to Come

FloridaBY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

When last we spoke, the freedom to marry had just been handed a setback: the Sixth Circuit let stand marriage discrimination laws in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. Over the holiday season, though, we took many steps forward in defiance of that egregious and wrongheaded appellate court opinion: Marriage equality officially came to Montana and South Carolina. And although she tried every trick in her book, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi could not stop the arc of justice from sweeping ashore in the Sunshine State.

The arrival of marriage freedom in Florida is particularly notable because of how it happened.

BondiIn Florida, a federal district court judge ruled in August that the state's marriage ban was unconstitutional; the judge stayed his decision until January 5, 2015. The Republicans running the state wanted to delay as much as possible as they appealed the judge's ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. But neither the district court nor the circuit court would grant the state a stay beyond January 5. So, Attorney General Bondi asked the Supreme Court. The Court said no, with only Justice Scalia and Thomas willing to issue the stay.

Note the difference between South Carolina and Montana, on the one hand, and Florida on the other. South Carolina is under the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit, which declared Virginia's marriage ban unconstitutional some time ago. Montana is in the Ninth Circuit, which made a similar decision in Idaho's case in October. Because marriage equality was just steps away from all the other states in those jurisdictions as a result of the appellate court decisions, the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay in the South Carolina case.

Florida is in the Eleventh Circuit, which has not had occasion to rule on a gay marriage case. So the Supreme Court's refusal to grant a stay and to allow marriages to start in Florida was a stronger pro-equality signal than denying a stay in South Carolina.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Why Marriage Equality in Florida Is a Sign of Good Things to Come" »


Richard Socarides On Justice Scalia's NY Mag Interview And The Progress of LGBT Rights

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As we reported earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sat down with New York Magazine's Jennifer Senior recently for a wide-ranging interview that was filled with, well, exactly what you'd expect from a man known for his fiery dissents and come-at-me public persona.

Aside from a somewhat baffling and wild exchange about the devil (he's out there, according to Scalia, and he's decided to take on a lower profile compared to those stories you've read about in the Bible as a tactic), the justice raised some eyebrows when he told Senior that he doesn't know anybody who's openly gay.  "I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual," he admitted to her. "Everybody does."

Scalia--as his New York Magazine interview makes patently clear, is a devout Catholic.  But as LGBT rights advocate Richard Socarides, writing in the New Yorker, points out, that very faith is currently experiencing a self-evaluation of its approach towards sexual orientation in the highest echelons of its power structure:

The most breathtaking development since the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage rights, three and a half months ago, and the one with obvious global impact, was Pope Francis’ basic acceptance of gay people within the context of Roman Catholic theology—“Who am I to judge?”—signaling a turning point of historic proportions. A Quinnipiac poll late last week showed that American Catholics approve of the Pope’s new approach by a margin of sixty-eight per cent to twenty-three per cent. No doubt the dramatic progress we have seen in the U.S. impacted the Pope’s thinking.

Shortly after the Pope said that it was time to end the church’s focus on demonizing gay people (and its “obsession” with issues like abortion and contraception), Andrew Solomon, a longtime gay-rights advocate and the author of “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” told me in an e-mail, “The primary obstacle to gay rights—and indeed to various forms of human rights—is prejudice and bigotry that have been encoded in religion.” Solomon believes, as many do, that “the Catholic Church was long set up as our most vigorous enemy, and it’s to be hoped, very profoundly, that this change in position will filter down through the Catholic hierarchy and make religion once more the champion of loving-kindness, and no longer the instrument of oppression.”

Even Scalia felt the effect, though he argued that it was a matter of emphasis, not doctrinal change: “He’s the Vicar of Christ. He’s the chief. I don’t run down the pope.”

Socarides points out the significance of such a shift--even if it is only in the tone of the church's position--and underscores its ability to have a lasting impact. Earlier this year, the association of American bishops wrote in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that equal marriage rights for same-sex couples "would compromise the ability of states to accommodate religious and moral objections to homosexual conduct on the part of employers and individuals." As Socarides pithily puts it, "So much for that."

Senior's interview with Justice Scalia reveals a man happily inhabiting a island of conservative thought that seems far removed from today's reality--it's incredible that he could live in our nation's capital in 2013 and know zero gay people personally.  But Socarides's point is a good one: as Scalia stands firm, history--and the very institution responsible in many ways for his opinions about LGBT people--continues to shift around him.

(photo courtesy of Platon for New York Magazine)


Justice Antonin Scalia Suspects He Has Gay Friends, is an Avid Watcher of 'Duck Dynasty'

New York magazine has published a long interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in which he expounds on flogging, the notion that there are "intelligent reasons" to treat ment and women differently, his morning reading habits (the WSJ and Washington Times), the F-word, friending on Facebook, his favorite sparring partner on the bench, and his favorite TV show - which is Duck Dynasty (nuff said).

ScaliaHe also talked about the Pope and gays, and revealed that he might have gay friends, discussed what he wrote in Lawrence v. Texas, and Anthony Kennedy's legacy on gay rights.

Here's the gay part:

The one thing I did think, as [the Pope] said those somewhat welcoming things to gay men and women, is, Huh, this really does show how much our world has changed. I was wondering what kind of personal exposure you might have had to this sea change.

I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual. Everybody does.

Have any of them come out to you?

No. No. Not that I know of.

Has your personal attitude softened some?

Toward what?

Homosexuality.

I don’t think I’ve softened. I don’t know what you mean by softened.

If you talk to your grandchildren, they have different opinions from you about this, right?

I don’t know about my grandchildren. I know about my children. I don’t think they and I differ very much. But I’m not a hater of homosexuals at all.

I still think it’s Catholic teaching that it’s wrong. Okay? But I don’t hate the people that engage in it. In my legal opinions, all I’ve said is that I don’t think the Constitution requires the people to adopt one view or the other.

There was something different about your DOMA opinion, I thought. It was really pungent, yes, but you seemed more focused on your colleagues’ jurisprudence. You didn’t talk about a gay lobby, or about the fact that people have the right to determine what they consider moral. In Lawrence v. Texas, you said Americans were within their rights in “protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

I would write that again. But that’s not saying that I personally think it’s destructive. Americans have a right to feel that way. They have a democratic right to do that, and if it is to change, it should change democratically, and not at the ukase of a Supreme Court.

The what?

U-K-A-S-E. Yeah. I think that’s how you say it. It’s a mandate. A decree.

Whatever you think of the opinion, Justice ­Kennedy is now the Thurgood Marshall of gay rights.

[Nods.]

I don’t know how, by your lights, that’s going to be regarded in 50 years.

I don’t know either. And, frankly, I don’t care. Maybe the world is spinning toward a wider acceptance of homosexual rights, and here’s Scalia, standing athwart it. At least standing athwart it as a constitutional entitlement. But I have never been custodian of my legacy. When I’m dead and gone, I’ll either be sublimely happy or terribly unhappy.

Read the full interview HERE.


Scalia Says He's 'Waiting for the Second Shoe to Drop' to Show His Views on Gay Marriage

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told Reuters he's "waiting for the second shoe to drop" to express his views on gay marriage:

A_scalia"I haven't expressed my view about gay marriage," Scalia, a noted conservative said, adding that the decision itself only applied to a narrow piece of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

"The issue in the DOMA case was not whether the Constitution requires states to allow gay marriage. That was not the question at all," Scalia said at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, outside Boston. "The question is whether Congress can define marriage in all of the statues that Congress enacted to mean only marriage between a man and a woman."

In his dissenting opinion on that ruling, Scalia, who was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, wrote that the majority ignored procedural obstacles he said should have prevented the court from taking up the matter in the first place.


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