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Federal Judge Blocks Gay Workers in Four States From Taking Unpaid Leave To Care For Sick Spouses

Paxton

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been in office less than three months, but he's already making a name for himself as one of the nation's biggest anti-gay bigots. 

Last month, Paxton (above with Sen. Ted Cruz) sought to void the marriage of a 30-year lesbian couple, even though one of the women has ovarian cancer. And last week, he filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over a new labor department rule extending benefits under the Family & Medical Leave Act to same-sex couples who live in states that don't recognize their marriages. 

On Thursday, Paxton — a "tea partier" who admitted to securities fraud last year — won a small, temporary victory in his ongoing war against LGBT people. 

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a President George W. Bush appointee, issued an order blocking the new FMLA rule from taking effect as scheduled on Friday in Texas and three other states that joined Paxton's lawsuit — Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska.  

“The Obama Administration’s attempt to force employers to recognize same-sex marriages would have put state agencies in the position of either violating Texas law or federal regulations,” Paxton said in a statement. “We are pleased that the Department of Labor’s effort to override our laws via federal rulemaking has been halted, and we will continue to defend our sovereignty in this case.”

Reed-OConnor_bigJudge O'Connor (right) presides over the Northern District of Texas in Wichita Falls, an extremely conservative area that has brought us, among others, the Rev. Robert Jeffress. In his 24-page decision, O'Connor wrote that if the new FMLA rule was allowed to take effect, "irreparable injury would occur." From the decision: 

“The Full Faith and Credit Statute affirms Congress’ intention to reserve the power to define marriage and accompanying rights and benefits to the states, and Windsor cabins Congress’ authority to aggrandize that power. Congress could not have delegated to the Department the power to define marriage in a way as to override the laws of states prohibiting same-sex marriages.”

The Human Rights Campaign issued this statement in response to O'Connor's ruling: 

“No legally married same-sex couple should be denied family leave simply because they happen to live in a state that fails to respect their marriage,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Because of Judge O’Connor’s decision, countless legally married same-sex couples in Texas are now unable to access to their federal FMLA benefits. With a pending Supreme Court decision on nationwide marriage equality this summer, we are confident that justice will ultimately prevail.”

In other words, if the U.S. Supreme Court issues a nationwide decision in favor of marriage equality in June, Paxton's lawsuit will quickly go away. 

Therefore, it's quite possible that the only thing Paxton has really accomplished, aside from pandering to the GOP base, is wasting taxpayer dollars on a frivolous lawsuit, which would seem contrary to the avowed principles of the tea party. Of course, Paxton has also ensured that he will go down in history as someone who sought to preserve the right of employers to legally fire gay people who want to take unpaid leave to care for ailing loved ones. Truly, this lawsuit is one of the more disgusting displays of anti-gay bigotry from any elected official in recent memory. 

View some of the responses Paxton has received on Twitter, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Phyllis Schlafly Calls on States to Ignore Pro-Equality Supreme Court Ruling - VIDEO

Fischer

Speaking on wingnut Bryan Fischer’s Focal Point yesterday, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly (below right) said that state governors should “refuse to enforce” a Supreme Court decision striking down bans on same-sex marriage, reports Right Wing Watch.

Schlafly also urged President Obama and his successor to direct the Attorney General to defy the Supreme Court ruling, insisting that the highest court in the land cannot undo laws that have stood for “several thousands of years.”

Schlafly“We just cannot live in a country where one judge or even five judges are able to change the law of our land that goes against the laws of most of our states and we’ve had for several thousands of years about the definition of marriage, that is simply not our form of government.”

Schlafly is not only an anti-gay activist - she has also been fighting the feminist movement for over 40 years.

Listen to Schlafly’s odd notions, AFTER THE JUMP...

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AFA Warns SCOTUS in Full Page 'Washington Post' Ad: Remember That God Invented Marriage

AFA ad

Anti-gay group American Family Association (AFA) yesterday took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post to remind the Supreme Court that God is solely responsible for the creation, management and administration of marriage, reports right wing Christian news website OneNewsNow.

The AFA admonishes the highest court of the law in the United States to "remember whose idea [marriage] was in the first place.”

6a00d8341c730253ef013488e2f88d970c-800wiAFA president Tim Wildmon (right) - who has something of an obsession with military men taking showers - said:

"First of all, the U.S. Constitution does not address marriage; so it's left to the states to decide definitions for marriage – and the states have spoken.

“[Marriage has] forever been one man/one woman and it forever will be one man/one woman – according to nature, according to God, according to the Bible, and according to most religious traditions.”

The ad itself is pure right-wing scaremongering at its best, suggesting that marriage equality will be harmful to children and could bring on Armageddon:

“Will you bend what God designed merely to suit the desires of man, knowing that you do so at the expense of children, perhaps even civilization itself?

“[Supporters of same-sex marriage] would say by such a decision that mothers and fathers together are no longer relevant in the lives of children, and that religious expression about the sanctity and purpose of marriage would now become illicit.”

Read the full ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Texas Same-Sex Marriage Plaintiffs Endure 2nd Harrowing Child Birth With No Parental Rights: PHOTOS

Dimetman

Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman were inspired to become plaintiffs in a marriage equality lawsuit during the birth of their first child. 

DeLeon experienced delivery complications, and if something had happened to her, Dimetman wouldn't have had any parental rights — even though they were legally married in Massachusetts.  

After Dimetman became pregnant with the couple's second child, it was an argument the couple's attorneys repeatedly raised as they urged federal courts to lift a stay of a February 2014 decision striking down Texas' marriage ban

Over the weekend, Dimetman gave birth to a baby girl (above), and again there were complications. 

DeLeon“Labor is scary and anything can happen," Dimetman said in a statement on Monday. "I had an infection as a complication of labor that led to an emergency C-section. A day that should have been one of the happiest of our life was terrifying for Cleo. If I had not made it through the childbirth, Cleo would not have been our daughter’s legal mother because her name is not allowed on the birth certificate in Texas.”

DeLeon said the couple was overjoyed about the birth of but disappointed that Texas' marriage ban remains in place. 

"It is unfair to deny loving parents like us the basic legal protections that provide stability and security so critical to child rearing," DeLeon said. "We pray for the day when all Texans are treated equally under the law and we do not have to live in fear that something bad could happen in childbirth and I would not be considered the child’s parent by law. We hope the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court make all marriages legal in Texas and across the nation.”

Neel Lane, one of the couple's attorneys, noted it's been more than two months since the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the Texas marriage case, but the three-judge panel still hasn't ruled. 

“This otherwise joyous day for Nicole and Cleo is a sad one because, in the eyes of Texas, Nicole is an unwed mother," Lane said. "Her valid marriage to Cleo is declared void by a Texas law that U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia declared unconstitutional more than a year ago. Court after court have agreed with him, and no one doubts the U.S. Supreme Court will do the same."

The other plaintiffs in the Texas marriage lawsuit, Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, issued a statement congratulating DeLeon and Dimetman. 

"We are so thrilled for them!" Phariss and Holmes said. "Unfortunately, Texas law does not recognize Cleo as a parent, even though Cleo and Nicole have been married for more than 5 ½ years. As a result, they must spend money to go to court to fix that, money that could be saved instead for their daughter’s future education, health care, and welfare. The time has now come for marriage equality to be recognized in Texas for the sake Nicole and Cleo and their daughter and for the sake of all gays and lesbians in Texas, including Vic and me who, after 18 years together, desperately want to marry the person we love in the state we love.”


Idaho House Calls On Congress To Impeach Judges Who Rule In Favor Of Marriage Equality

Idaho_0

Idaho Republican lawmakers want to impeach judges who rule in favor of same-sex marriage. 

In a 44-25 vote, the Idaho House on Friday passed a non-binding resolution calling on Congress to impeach judges who go beyond the "original intent" of the U.S. Constitution when it comes to marriage.

Supporters of the resolution believe marriage should be left to the states under the 10th Amendment, and are outraged that the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection is being applied to gay people. 

From The Spokesman-Review

Sheperd“I think somehow, someday we’ve gotta take a stand,” GOP Rep. Paul Shepherd (right) told the House. A sixth-term state representative from Riggins who owns a sawmill and log home company, Shepherd was the author and sponsor of the measure.

“You can’t say an immoral behavior according to God’s word, what we’ve all been taught since the beginning, is something that’s just, and that’s really kinda what this is all about,” he told the House. “We’d better uphold Christian morals. As an example, how about fornication, adultery and other issues.”

More from The Times-News

“The men that wrote the 14th Amendment would be turning over in their graves if they could see it was being interpreted in such a way as to force states to accept same-sex marriage,” said Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls.

Eleven Republicans joined 14 Democrats in opposing the measure. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Idaho since last year, despite Republican Gov. Butch Otter's legal crusade against it. One recent poll showed that 53 percent of Idahoans now support same-sex marriage.

From The Spokesman-Review

McCrostieRep. John McCrostie (right), D-Boise, who is gay, told the House, “Of all the bills that I’ve voted on in the last weeks, HJM 4 causes me the most hurt. … This bill is personal, and it hurts me. … This bill implies that my marriage isn’t worth as much as someone else’s.”

More from McCrostie in The Times-News

“Is my marriage so despicable that a federal judge should be impeached?” he asked.

Since the resolution likely won’t result in any federal judges being impeached, McCrostie said, all it does at the end of the day is give lawmakers something to campaign on while telling gay Idahoans they are worthless.

Another Democratic lawmaker said the resolution would only hurt Idaho's image: 

“This puts us in the Web, this puts us in the news, as a state that is intolerant and does not understand the important separation of powers,” said Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise.

Shepherd, the author of the resolution, said he also would have voted to impeach Chief Justice Earl Warren over the Supreme Court's decisions in the early 1960s ending mandatory prayer in schools.

Given that he supports the "original intent" of the Constitution, Shepherd also presumably would advocate counting African-Americans as three-fifths of a person.   

Read the full resolution, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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The Animus Amicus: Archive Activism and Marriage Equality

Mattachine Society

Note: This article first appeared at Huffington Post. 

BY: PETER MONTGOMERY

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of state laws that ban same-sex couples from getting married. The historic case has attracted a widearray of amicus briefs; People For the American Way Foundation joined religious and civil rights groups on a brief urging the Court to reject discriminatory marriage bans and challenging “religious liberty” arguments opposing marriage equality.

One fascinating brief was filed by the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.  The original group by that name was led by Frank Kameny, an astronomer who was fired from his federal job for being gay and led some of the earliest gay-rights protests in the nation’s capital in the 1960s. The name and legacy have been revived by local activists Charles Francis and Pate Felts for the purpose of documenting decades of systematic anti-gay discrimination by the federal government. In partnership with pro bono attorneys from the firm of McDermott Will & Emery, the new Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. is engaged in strategic “archive activism.” They are using the Freedom of Information Act to unearth a “culture of animus” that permeated the U.S. Civil Service Commission – now known as the Office of Personnel Management – and to bring to public light previously closed records about investigations challenging workers’ “loyalty” and “suitability.”

Civil service commission“The investigation and firing of gay and lesbian federal employees was like shooting fish in a barrel for the General Counsels and legal staff of the Civil Service Commission,” says Francis. “The animus, almost sports-like in their writings, is documented in decades of legal advisory files we discovered this year at the National Archives.”

Among the historical tidbits unearthed by the project: Nancy Reagan turning down a plea from a dying Rock Hudson for help getting into another hospital; and anti-gay activist Gary Bauer’s no-holds-barred, but ultimately unsuccessful, effort to keep the White House from including a gay person on the nation’s first AIDS commission.

The Mattachine Society’s project is about preserving the historical record, but it also has an important legal purpose, which is demonstrating that anti-equality laws and regulations have long been grounded in hostility, or animus, that is not a permissible justification for discrimination.  Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent from the Supreme Court decision in Windsor, which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, demonstrates the importance of this archival work. Roberts suggested there is insufficient evidence – he waved it away as “snippets of legislative history” – to demonstrate that DOMA’s purpose was to “codify malice.” Added Roberts, “I would not tar the political branches with the brush of bigotry.”

Continue reading, AFTER THE JUMP...

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