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6 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread UPDATE 3/7 · 0 replies · +8 points

Yes, let's put him in the Gabbardine Party. He's tried everything else. He started as an independent on the non-partisan Honolulu City Council in 2002. Then he ran for Congress as a Republican in 2004, easily winning the GOP primary, but getting only 36% in the general election. Undeterred, he then was elected to the State Senate in 2006 as a Republican. After serving only a few months of his four-year term, he decided being in the party outnumbered 23-2 wasn't much fun, so he announced that he was switching to the Democratic Party, where he has been ever since. He has been re-elected in 2010, 2012, and 2016 quite easily. Amazingly, even with his extreme bigotry, he has been unopposed in the Democratic primary in 2012 and 2016.

At age 70, Mike's dreams of attaining higher office are fading, so the family's hopes now rest with his daughter Tulsi, who is currently serving her third term as one of Hawaii's two members in the U. S. House of Representatives. When Tulsi served in the Hawaii House in 2003-04, she echoed her father's anti-LGBT sentiments, but has since adopted more enlightened views (or pretends to, though many are skeptical).

The Gabbards are an interesting family. Mike and Tulsi were both born in American Samoa. Mike is a devout Roman Catholic, while Tulsi and her mother Carol identify as Hindus. Tulsi is said to harbor Presidential aspirations, but it is unclear whether she would be eligible because of her Samoan birthplace.

11 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - News round-up and open... · 1 reply · +5 points

Four Candidates Seek Nomination To Oppose Kim Davis In November (Part 2 of 2)

ELWOOD CAUDILL has worked for 21 years in the County assessor's office, right across the hall from Kimmers (which says is her nickname). He says, "I have 21 years working with the Clerk's office and know that I would do a great job as Clerk. I am not running for any other reason... I will say this: I do not discriminate against anyone. We are all equal." Caudill was a candidate for Clerk in the 2014 Democratic primary along with Davis, then the Chief Deputy to the previous clerk Jean Bailey, who happened to be her mother. Caudill actually defeated Davis in the Election Day vote 1,711 to 1,663.. But Davis won the absentee vote, 154 to 83, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. (It's always handy for a candidate to have her mother running the election.)

JAMES "JAMEY" JESSEE is Administrator of Northfork Senior Living. He is a graduate of Rowan County High School, where he was a star baseball player, and Morehead State University in Morehead, the county seat where 30% of the county's residents live. He is active in coaching youth sports. His wife, Stormi, works in the county's pre-school education program. He says, "I care about equality ... We need a County Clerk who will uphold the law."

NASHIA FIFE organized the Rowan County Rights Coalition during the marriage controversy and actively protested Kim Davis's defiance of the law. She cites her community service of knitting hats for premature babies and fostering orphaned kittens.

DAVID ERMOLD gained fame when he and his partner were denied a marriage license by Davis, an event recorded by camera crews and seen by millions. Ermold's filing as a candidate against Davis has been heavily publicized nationally, and many feel it would be sweet revenge for one of those wronged by her to do her in. Ermold works as an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pikeville, which is 92 miles from his home in Morehead.

This will be an interesting race to follow in the 15 weeks remaining before the primary. Based on his strong showing in 2014, Caudill would appear to be the strongest opponent for Davis. Perhaps some insight can be afforded by the number of "Likes" on their Facebook pages: 229 for Nashia Fife, 299 for Jamey Jessee, 822 for Elwood Caudill, and 6,074 for David Ermold. It is believed that some of those Ermold "Likes" actually came from Rowan County. Kim Davis was foolish enough to let Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver announce her re-election bid. The last thing Rowan County voters want or need is interference from outsiders.

11 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - News round-up and open... · 0 replies · +6 points

Four Candidates Seek Nomination To Oppose Kim Davis In November (Part 1 of 2)

And they're off! Filing closed this week for the May 22 Democratic Primary in Kentucky, and front and center will be the four Democrats seeking their party's nomination to oppose the notorious Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis. Davis, elected to her first term in 2014 as a Democrat, has since switched to the Republican Party and is unopposed in the GOP Primary.

The four candidates are Elwood Caudill, Jr., David Ermold, Nashia Fife, and James "Jamey" Jessee. Any of them would be vastly superior to Davis, so primary voters would be wise to select the candidate with the best chance of defeating her.

Rowan County has a very strong Democratic tradition, especially at the local level. Party registration stands at 62% Democratic, 31% Republican, and 7% Independent and minor parties. Kentucky's Republican Governor and two U. S. Senators all lost the county in their most recent elections. In 2016, Rowan County voters opted for out-gay Democrat Jim Gray over incumbent Senator Rand Paul.

In 2014 Democratic nominees swept every county office, with the sole exception of the County Jailer. This year 28 Democrats have filed for the 16 offices to be elected, while Republicans were only able to scare up 8 candidates. Davis's conversion to the GOP seems not to have inspired any other county politicians to follow suit. More than a few local observers have even predicted that Davis's new Republican affiliation will be more detrimental to her chances than violating citizens' Constitutional rights, serving time in jail, and costing Kentucky taxpayers $224,000 in attorneys' fees and court costs.

Elwood Caudill and Jamey Jessee are running "friends-and-neighbors" campaigns. They clearly do not want to reopen the marriage debate which roiled Rowan County residents and focused worldwide attention on their small county. David Ermold and Nashia Fife, on the other hand, were actively engaged in the marriage controversy when it occurred, so they will have difficulty avoiding the issue.

23 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread · 0 replies · +4 points

Update: As of close of business Wednesday, one of the 16 seats gained by the Democrats has slipped away, as Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax) has regained the lead in his race. So the likely outcome at this point will be a 51-49 GOP House, a truly shocking change from the previous 66-34 Republican majority.

Along with the election of Danica Roem, we also elected our legislature's first out-lesbian, Dawn Adams, a nurse who unseated a GOP incumbent in the Richmond suburbs. And, of course, we re-elected our two incumbent gay Delegates, Mark Sickles and Mark Levine.

On a somewhat bittersweet note, among the Republicans who lost were our two staunch pro-LGBT allies, Joe Yost of Giles County and Ron Villanueva of Virginia Beach, who have consistently supported us and were endorsed by Equality Virginia.

27 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread UPDATE · 1 reply · +5 points

Kim Davis Is Touring Romania To Encourage The Government To Ban Gay Rights

Disgraced Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, infamous for going to jail over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is taking her anti-gay sideshow on the road. The lawless government official is in Romania exhorting citizens to take away the civil rights of gay people.

Davis is touring the country with Harry Mihet, Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel for her attorneys at the religious right legal organization Liberty Counsel. The group has been designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

American fundamentalist Christians have joined forces with the Orthodox Church to try to change Romania’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The country’s laws currently define marriage as between “two spouses” and the advocates want it changed to “man and woman.”

Under Romanian law, the constitution can be changed if at least 500,000 residents petition the government for a change. The Coalition for the Family, a religious right group backed by the church, collected over 3 million signatures on the petition.

The petition was certified by the country’s highest court and is awaiting approval by the Senate. Parliament must approve any revisions before it goes to a national referendum. Proponents hope to hold the vote this autumn, but Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, has opposed the change. The largest opposition party also opposes it.

Davis and Mihet are having meetings with high ranking officials with the Orthodox Church, are giving speeches across the country, meeting with members of Parliament, and blitzing the media with anti-gay rhetoric and untruths. The two are using Davis’ jail sentence to “warn” Romanians that allowing same-sex marriage will bring back communist-era bans on religion.

“I am so glad for this amazing opportunity to finally introduce Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis personally to my Romanian people,” said Mihet, who was born in the country. “Her story resonates loudly with them, and they are receiving her tearfully and very warmly, because they can still remember the not-so-long-ago days when they were themselves persecuted and imprisoned for their conscience. The freedom of conscience transcends national, cultural, religious and denominational lines, and Romanians are determined to prevent such injustice from ever happening again in their country.”

In 2015, the hate group breathlessly announced that Davis had met with Pope Francis during his visit to the United States to discuss religious freedom, a claim the Vatican quickly debunked. The Pope did not know who Davis was when an Archbishop snuck her into a private reception. The Archbishop was later replaced and the Vatican issued a strong response to clarify the meeting was not a show of support for the lawless government official.

28 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and Second... · 2 replies · +8 points

Rick, good to know that you have made it to the mainland and will be able to recuperate from your four-week ordeal.

Needless to say, we have all been greatly concerned about you as we have followed news of the hurricanes. And it certainly hasn't been the same here without you!

47 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread · 0 replies · +3 points

You are correct that the California Supreme Court struck down the statutory provision enacted by Proposition 22. Furthermore, the legislature and the Governor deleted that now-inoperative language in 2014. Also, Proposition 8 essentially took Proposition 22 and moved it from the statute books into the state constitution, making 8 and 22 one and the same. So I think we can consider Proposition 22 itself dead and gone.

However, reviewing the history of Proposition 22 is important, as it illustrates how the issue of interjurisdictional recognition would be revived by a reversal of Obergefell. Throughout the 1990's, it became clear that eventually some jurisdiction -- perhaps the Netherlands, perhaps Hawaii -- was going to adopt marriage equality. While virtually no one in California thought that their state was ever going to offer same-sex couples the right to marry, they became concerned by the prospect that such couples married in another jurisdiction would seek to have their marriage recognized by California. This was an understandable concern, since California law at the time provided for recognition of any marriage validly contracted under the laws of any other state or country. The purpose of Proposition 22 was to modify the state's marriage statutes to limit any such recognition to opposite-sex couples only. It passed with 61% of the vote in 2000.

As efforts to adopt similar statutes in other states moved forward, state courts began to issue opinions which found that such statutes were in conflict with equal protection guarantees of state constitutions. Marriage opponents realized that the only way to hamstring their state courts was to adopt amendments to state constitutions which would tie the hands of judges and legislators alike in regard to same-sex marriage. That strategy paid off handsomely for them with 30 states adopting such amendments.

As for the single subject rule, I think you are on the right track in thinking that any and all provisions dealing with marriage equality can be dealt with in a single referendum question.

47 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread · 2 replies · +5 points

You have raised good questions, Deeelaaach. If the U. S. Supreme Court should reverse the Obergefell decision and hold that states have the right to prohibit same-sex marriage, it would invalidate all of the many federal court decisions which provided couples with the right to marry in numerous states. The Constitution of California, because of the adoption of Proposition 8 in 2008, would have to be amended before marriage could be restored.

An amendment repealing Proposition 8's prohibition would have to be approved by California voters by referendum. There are two ways such an amendment could be put before the voters: (1) by a 2/3 affirmative vote in both the California Senate and Assembly, or (2) by an initiative petition bearing the signatures of a number of California voters equal to 8% of the votes cast in the most recent election for Governor. Democrats by themselves currently hold greater than 2/3 majorities in both houses, and at least some Republicans would likely also support such an amendment. So an expensive and time-consuming petition effort would most likely not be necessary.

Proposition 8 was approved 52% to 48% in 2008. Given the growth in support for marriage equality over the last ten years (64% nationally in the most recent poll), it would be hard to imagine that a majority of California voters would not approve such an amendment and restore marriage rights for all.

Bottom line: California would be the least of our worries, compared to the other 29 states with constitutional marriage bans. But we have to be prepared to work hard in every state should the unthinkable come to pass.

47 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread · 0 replies · +2 points

Thank you, Rick, for your kind words. They are especially generous coming from our site's perennial MVP who has kept us informed on everything from comparative Finnish religion to the Mr. Gay World 2017 competition. (And to prove that I am not always correct, I must admit that I predicted a win by Mr. Austria or Mr. Switzerland in that competition, no doubt due to a subconscious Alpine bias.)

47 weeks ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread · 10 replies · +4 points

It would be nice to count California, Nevada, and Oregon, but unfortunately they are among the thirty states whose Constitutions prohibit same-sex marriage. The overturning of Obergefell would bring marriage to a halt in those thirty states. In addition, revived state statutes would end marriage equality in four additional states: Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming. Legislatures in Indiana, Iowa, and West Virginia, which previously rejected anti-marriage amendments, would be virtually assured of approving them, as their membership has significantly changed for the worse.

The action taken by Oregon in 2016 was just to revise its marriage statute to be gender-neutral. While that is a welcome gesture, it isn't needed under Obergefell and wouldn't be valid without Obergefell. Nevada is the only state out of thirty taking meaningful action to repeal its constitutional anti-marriage provision.

We will have to hope that Justice Gorsuch means it when he says that Obergefell is "settled law."