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Gay Teacher at Detroit Area Catholic High School Says Pregnancy Cost Her Job: VIDEO

Webb

A gay former chemistry teacher at a Catholic, all-girls high school in suburban Detroit said she was fired because of her "nontraditional" pregnancy, the Detroit Free Press reports:

Barbara Webb, 33, of Madison Heights said she’d worked for Marian High School for nine years, also coaching volleyball and softball and serving as student-government moderator. She is gay but said she believes the public, visible nature of a pregnancy led to her firing.

She learned she was pregnant in June, told her employer in July and was fired in mid-August, Webb said. On Aug. 27 she posted on Facebook announcing the firing and encouraging people to “speak out against hate wherever you see it,” according to the post shared more than 1,000 times by Monday.

Today, Webb told the Free Press that her termination letter didn’t give a reason. But her previous conversation with administrators made clear the concerns had to do with a morality clause allowing for firing over public conduct of “lifestyle or actions directly contradictory to the Catholic faith,” she said.

“That you can’t hide a pregnancy from the public is why I was terminated,” she said

Watch a myFoxDetroit report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

School administrators have declined to comment, saying that the situation remains "confidential." Meanwhile, numerous students and alumni have spoken out in support of Webb and a Facebook page "I Stand With Barb Webb" has already gained over 2,000 members.

Continue reading "Gay Teacher at Detroit Area Catholic High School Says Pregnancy Cost Her Job: VIDEO" »


Married Michigan Gay Couples Ask State to Recognize Their Marriages

MichiganThe state of Michigan is being asked to recognize hundreds of gay marriages that were performed in the state during a brief window in March when licenses were issued to same-sex couples following a ruling striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. 

Shortly after the nuptials took place, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced that the state, unlike the federal government,  would not be recognizing the marriages. 

The AP reports:

"The state cannot mandatorily divorce you," University of Michigan law professor Julian Mortenson said during a 90-minute hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the state's gay marriage ban on March 21, and more than 300 same-sex couples in four counties got hitched the next day, Saturday, before an appeals court suspended the decision and blocked additional marriages.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati recently heard arguments about whether to overturn or affirm Friedman's decision. In the meantime, the American Civil Liberties Union is fighting to force the state to recognize the marriages that did happen for the purpose of benefits and other issues.

The lawyer argued that even if a higher court eventually reinstates Michigan's ban on gay marriages, the unions should still be considered valid.


Mennonite Pastor Under Review For Presiding Over Same-Sex Wedding - VIDEO

Assembly Mennonite Church Pastor Karl Shelly

The Mennonite church is set to review the credentials of Pastor Karl Shelly who in May presided over a same-sex wedding in violation of the church’s rules, reports The Michigan City News-Dispatch.

Mennonite church guidelines state that pastors may not perform a same-sex covenant ceremony. Because the church has a strong focus on social justice issues, many members view its non-recognition of same-sex marriage as incompatible with its identity as a whole. 

Shelly wrote in a statement submitted to the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite conference that he performed the service after determining that "being born with a same-sex sexual orientation and entering into a life-long covenant of fidelity and love with another human being is not sin.”

Mennonite Central District Conference minister Lois Johns Kauffmann said that although the body once before reviewed a pastor who performed a same-sex marriage ceremony, the credentials were not revoked.

According to Nancy Kauffman, denominational minister for Mennonite Church USA, a debate on whether the church should allow same-sex covenant ceremonies is likely to arise at the national assembly next year.

Back in June, Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia said that it would defer its decision on hiring gay faculty while the Eastern Mennonite University community continued its “discernment of human sexuality."

Watch Pastor Shelly speak about Assembly Mennonite Church's journey to becoming a member of the LGBT-affirming Supportive Communities Network, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Mennonite Pastor Under Review For Presiding Over Same-Sex Wedding - VIDEO" »


Gay Marriage Could Bring Over $53 Million To Michigan, Study Finds

MichiganA new study out of UCLA Law School's Williams Institute indicates that Michigan could stand to generate over $53 million in revenue from same-sex marriage ceremonies over three years. The study also found that nearly 7,300 couples could be married in those three years alone.

The data is based on census and experiential statistics from states that have already legalized same-sex marriages, and though there is indication that same-sex couples filing jointly would reduce the state's income tax haul, the boon to business would more than make up for the loss. 

Edge Boston reports:

Researchers say the couples and their loved ones would spend about $34.1 million on wedding paramagnets and Michigan tourism in the first year alone. Another $19.2 million would be spent over the following two years. According to the study, that spending could support between 152 and 457 full-time and part-time jobs and generate about $3.2 million in sales tax and revenue for Michigan and the local government...

"What we've seen, over and over again, is that the tides are shifting on marriage equality," Gina Calcagno, coalition manager for Michigan for Marriage, told [MLive.com]. "Aside from the heartfelt belief this is the right thing to do, we're seeing this is the economically correct thing to do as well. $53.2 million coming into a state like Michigan is nothing to scoff at."

After a district court judge ruled Michigan's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in March, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals placed an indefinite stay on the decision. Only time will tell if the appeals court upholds the lower court ruling, though the track record for appeals thus far is a positive indicator. 

Fingers crossed for the thousands of same-sex couples and businesses who would benefit from marriage equality in Michigan.


Restaurant Patron Says 'Religious Principles' Compelled Him To Hurl Hate Speech at Gay Man: VIDEO

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In another exhibit for the "Who Would Jesus Hate?" archives, Michigan man Victor Sadet (who appears to be this man) was so moved by the Holy Spirit that he followed diner Isiah David Tweedie [pictured below] and his friends out of the Fire Mountain restaurant to hurl homophobic slurs.

TweedieCalling Tweedie a "f*cking fa**ot", the holy roller was certain to clarify that the book of Leviticus called for Tweedie's death. The man was later interviewed by WILX 10 News and confirmed that it was indeed his religious principles that drove him to act like an utter lunatic.

If you can bear the bigotry, you can watch the original video and WILX's report AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Restaurant Patron Says 'Religious Principles' Compelled Him To Hurl Hate Speech at Gay Man: VIDEO" »


Marriage Equality Hangs in the Balance at the Sixth Circuit

6th circuit

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

Yesterday's marathon arguments before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reminds us that one judge can have a lot of power. A three-judge panel consisting of one Clinton appointee and two George W. Bush appointees could be the first federal appellate court to side against marriage equality in the post-Windsor era or they could join the chorus of colleagues tossing these discriminatory bans on the ash heep of history. Based solely on the questioning from oral argument, it may come down to one judge: a conservative named Jeffrey Sutton.

6Attorneys for Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee took turns arguing that the bans are justified because only opposite sex couples procreate naturally. Judge Martha Craig Daughtry questioned how it was possible that keeping gays out of the institution of marriage could in any way help or encourage heterosexuals to give birth to more kids. One attorney even cited the decreased birth rates in Europe and Russia as a reason for encouraging opposite sex couples to marry. But, as Judge Daughtrey, the most vocal judge, noted, it is unclear how discriminating against gays achieves that goal.

Judge Deborah Cook spoke the least. She has a history of anti-plaintiff, conservative decisions on discrimination. When she did speak, she seemed to suggest that states have broad power to regulate marriage and could maintain traditional institutions as they see fit.

Judge Sutton is a bit of a wild card. A conservative -- he wrote in the Harvard Law Review: "Count me as a skeptic when it comes to the idea that this day and age suffers from a shortage of constitutional rights" -- Judge Sutton voted in favor of the constitutionality of Obamacare and does not always follow a party line. His questioning was back and forth, balanced between the sides. A review of his questions and a cursory analysis of some of his writings and decisions suggest that he is primarily concerned with judicial modesty and restraint. He thinks that the federal courts have done too much, creating new rights and reading rights and regulations into the Constitution that do not belong.

It is unclear whether that preference for restraint means that he will deny that a right to marry exists for gay couples.

He wondered if his court could even make a decision or whether the judges were bound by a 1971 Supreme Court decision (Baker v. Nelson) that said that marriage lawsuits do not belong in the federal courts. Almost every other court to address marriage equality addressed and dismissed the Baker canard: gays had not recognized federal rights in 1971; today, after Windsor, after Lawrence, and after Romer, is a different time. Judge Sutton didn't seem too sure.

I Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.39.25 PMf he could get passed the Baker threshold, Judge Sutton still was holding his cards close to his chest. He was pretty clear that the states could not win if antigay discrimination merited some form of heightened scrutiny, but he did not hint that he was leaning in the heightened scrutiny direction.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Judge Sutton's questioning came later in the day when he wondered aloud if the plaintiffs in the cases really want the courts to get involved when the marriage equality movement seems to be gaining political steam and social esteem. Judge Sutton implied, true to his radical vision of judicial abdication of responsibilities, that political outcomes are somehow more legitimate than judicial ones.

It is hard to imagine that view as a legitimate basis for deciding against the marriage equality. Judge Sutton has written a lot about how federal judges do too much. He would prefer that judges take a back seat to the political process, an entirely conservative position given the greater access that money and majorities have to political votes. But just because he prefers judges abdicate their constitutional responsibilities should not absolve him of actually deciding the legal questions before him. The legal questions involve equality and fundamental rights, not some policy preference for more judicial modesty.

This is why marriage equality hangs in the balance. Judge Sutton was not clear where he stands. 

***

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook. Check out my website at www.ariewaldman.com.

Ari Ezra Waldman is a professor of law and the Director of the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School and is concurrently pursuing his PhD at Columbia University in New York City. He is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. Ari writes weekly posts on law and various LGBT issues.


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