Proposition 8 in California Ruled Unconstitutional

US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco has struck down the California anti-gay marriage voter initiative known as Proposition 8 which had amended the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Ruling on Perry et al v. Schwarzenegger et al, which was filed by Republican attorney Ted Olson and Democratic attorney David Boies, Judge Walker found that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

From the decision:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that oppositesex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

More from the San Francisco Chronicle:

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker found that the ban on same-sex marriage violated the constitutional due process and equal protection rights of a pair of couples - one lesbian and one gay - who sued.

The judge ordered an injunction against enforcement of Prop. 8 but issued a temporary stay until he decides whether to suspend his ruling while it is being appealed. The stay means that same-sex couples are still prohibited from marrying.

"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license," Walker wrote in a 136-page ruling.

He said the ballot measure "prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis."

The constitutional right to marry, Walker said, "protects an individual's choice of marital partner regardless of gender." He also said domestic partnerships in California, available to same-sex couples, are a "substitute and inferior institution" that lack the social meaning and cultural status of marriage.

Gov. Schwarzenegger issued a statement saying, "For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves."

Prop. 8's sponsors are planning an immediate appeal.

It's pretty quiet right here in the Castro but I suspect that in a few hours there will be a gathering down at Harvey Milk Plaza on Market & Castro to celebrate. I should note that the trial court has granted a stay of entry of judgment until the motion for a stay pending appeal can be decided. The plaintiffs must respond by August 6. The ruling is expected to be appealed to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the US Supreme Court.

The full ruling is below the fold.

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The Christian Right Meets Punk

Jason "Molotov" Mitchell, a former wedding videographer now 30, is the founder and president of the independent motion picture company Illuminati Pictures that is based in North Carolina. Founded in 2003, his production company has made over a hundred commercial projects, documentaries, music videos, and short films. He's also an evangelical Christian who has had the word "zealot" tattooed in Old English on his forearm and oh he advocates the death penalty for gays. The zealot is a reference to the Christian Zealot Movement that advocates an in your face, no holds barred radical if warped form of Christianity.

Anyone holding to the original tenets of Christianity has been labeled extremists, radicals, zealots.

And so it began, the birth of the Zealot Movement, an underground cause dedicated to the power and love of the Gospel, protected against misuse by the core tenets of the Four Pillars. No one can claim to be a zealot and a drug user at the same time, nor would he want to, considering the intensity of our opposition to that lifestyle. The same goes for the lukewarm believer and his fornication. The line has been drawn for the committed and noncommittal alike. There is forgiveness, but God’s grace is not a place to wipe your feet.

Our weapon of choice is music. Music, a force dating before the birth of man, is a sword with which we battle the powers of this world, and great for the breaking of chains and curses. We wage war in the underground through music and we will shatter the walls of this world’s empire, dead to ourselves and alive in Christ.

…We are children of the Sword, the face of Truth on a dying planet. We are the worldwide tribe and at the feet of our King the nations will bow. We are the pure and royal priesthood. All that we put our hands to must prosper. We are servants to man, relentless in our toil, driven by love of the Greatest Servant. We are the Brotherhood of Christ. Our family does not break like those of the fallen world. We are the enemies of injustice and defenders of those without defense. Our eyes are the coals of righteousness and our hearts burn with hatred for all that is evil. We are the warriors. We are the fearless. We are the Zealots.

Together with his wife Patricia who performs as DJ Dolce, they make videos for World Net Daily, the Internet site founded by Joseph and Elizabeth Farah, that is home to the most vile and offensive right wing hate found on the web today. If there is a conspiracy theory to expound, odds are that it first found wings on World Net Daily (WND).

Molotov Mitchell first gained notoriety in 2008 for producing 13-minute attack video called A Video Portrait of Barack Hussein Obama that pretty was a foretaste of all the right wing slurs that have been leveled at the President - that Obama is a Muslim who hates Christians, that he is foreign born, that he is a socialist, that he is a racist that hates white people. 

Prior to his assault on then candidate Obama, Mitchell produced and hosted a Christian, political, comedy talk show called "Flamethrower" which began airing nationally in October 2007 on a Christian television network called Faith TV. He came to the attention of WND over a episode that Faith TV refused to air called "All Things Islam" that show a likeness of the face of the Prophet Mohammed on a cookie. 

A regular weekly feature on WND is a "comedy" review of the week's news called "News, News" anchored by Molotov's wife DJ Dolce that so unfunny that it has to be backed by a laugh track. In an recent episode, DJ Dolce notes that it is unacceptable to use the n-word but perfectly fine to call Barney Frank a "faggot."

Over at Box Turtle Bulletin, Timothy Kincaid notes the obvious: World Net Daily is a hate site.

World Net Daily makes no bones about being virulently anti-gay. However, most anti-gays make at least a shallow attempt not to say, “we don’t hate” and try to keep their language – in public – from including the worst slurs.

But it looks like WND has given up all pretenses.

WND has a recurring “comedy” feature called News! News! with D.J. Dolce, WorldNetDaily Exclusive Commentary. Dolce, the wife of Molotov Mitchell, shares her husband’s contempt for gay people. But while he masks his animus in religion (he endorses the death penalty for gay people using Scripture), Dolce just engages in slurs and endorses bigotry.

…It’s been a while since I’ve seen hatred expressed to blatantly in public.

Frankly, it was pretty obvious after this beauty:

Georgia Governor GOP Primary: Birthers, Bigots and Crooks, Oh My

They say they are running for the GOP nomination but frankly in looking at the top three contenders - there are seven total running - it's abundantly clear that the winner may also hold the title of the last bigot left standing.

First, there's John Oxendine, the four-term Insurance Commissioner. He's a birther but then again so is Representative Nathan Deal, a nine-term member of Congress who representing Georgia’s 9th congressional district and who in December 2009 sent a letter to White House formally questioning President Obama's place of birth. The other major candidate in the race is Karen Handel, the former Georgia Secretary of State. She, to the best of my knowledge, isn't a birther but as the good ol' boys have started to accuse her of being too cozy with the gays, she's resorted to out-bigotting the bigots.

Karen Handel's crime, such as it were, was meeting, yes that's right meeting, with Log Cabin Republicans when she was running for Fulton County Commissioner in 2003 and then cutting them a $75.00 cheque. That led John Oxendine, Rep. Nathan Deal and former State Senator Eric Johnson to charge that she somehow coddled gay interests.

Here's a Nathan Deal ad accusing Karen Handel of lying about her views on gay domestic partnership benefits and gay adoption.

Meanwhile the Oxendine campaign has sent out a mailer (pdf) accusing Handel of being pro-abortion, pro-gay rights and just too liberal for Georgia. Oh the sleaze factor is high but then this the Georgia GOP we are talking about.

But the trifecta sleaze award has to go to Rep. Nathan Deal who is not only a birther and a bigot but corrupt. From Citizens for Responsibilities and Ethics in Washington:

Rep. Deal, along with his business partner Ken Cronan, owns a lucrative business, Recovery Services, Inc., that – through a no-bid contract – provides inspection stations to the state for the inspection of salvaged vehicles. The business earned $1.4 million between 2004-2008 and Rep. Deal personally took home $150,000 a year.

In 2008, Georgia Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham took over responsibility for the inspection system and found the operational costs and locations of the inspection stations to be too costly and restrictive. Comm. Graham decided the best course of action was to reform the system and award contracts through a competitive bidding process.

Rep. Deal and his staff, with assistance from Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, arranged meetings with Comm. Graham at which Rep. Deal and his chief of staff were present, to persuade him to reconsider his decisions, including the proposed elimination of $1.7 million that has been allocated for the program. After Comm. Graham’s plan was passed by the Georgia House, Rep. Deal’s chief of staff used his House email to contact Georgia state officials in an effort to stop the plan from passing the state Senate. The money for the program was eventually kept in the budget.

Rep. Deal’s abuse of his position and taxpayer resources to maintain a personally lucrative business deal does not reflect creditably on the House.

For what is worth, Newt Gingrich has endorsed Rep. Nathan Deal while Sarah Palin and Erik Erickson have endorsed Karen Handel. Polls show a close race with no candidate securing the votes to win outright meaning that a run-off is likely. The winner will likely face former Governor Ray Barnes who is coasting towards the Democratic nomination. The 11 Alive interview with Karen Handel is below the fold. It's a train wreck. 

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Argentina Passes a Gay Marriage Law

The Argentine Senate voted early on Thursday morning to pass the first national gay marriage law in Latin America by a vote of 33 for to 27 against with 3 abstentions. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is on a state visit to Beijing, had strongly advocated for the measure. On Sunday, the Catholic Church in Argentina had organized a mass rally against the law, which had already been approved by the lower Chamber of Deputies, that saw some 60,000 protesters stream into the Plaza de Mayo. The protests were so over the top that President Fernández de Kirchner noted that those opposed to gay marriage were using language as if from the Spanish Inquisition.

Same-sex civil unions have been legal in Uruguay, Buenos Aires and some states in Mexico and Brazil for a number of years now. Mexico City legalized gay marriage late last year with the new law taking effect this past March. Colombia's Constitutional Court granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to health insurance plans.

But Argentina becomes the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, which provides more exclusive rights than civil unions, including adopting children and inheriting wealth. The new law broadly declares that ''marriage provides for the same requisites and effects independent of whether the contracting parties are of the same or different sex.''

Federal Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Judge Joseph Tauro in the Federal District Court in Massachusetts struck down Section 3 of the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman. Section 3 of DOMA had required that marriage, for purposes of federal benefits programs, must be defined as the union of one man and one woman, so that same sex marriages cannot take advantage of any federal benefits programs even when state laws allowed same sex marriages. US District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in favor of gay couples' rights in two separate challenges to the 1996 law. The rulings apply only to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if Judge Tauro's rulings are upheld on appeal.

The Boston-based group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders had, in March 2009, brought one of two suits challenging the law, on behalf of seven married same-sex couples and three widowers from Massachusetts who contended that it violated their federal constitutional right to equal protection. A second challenge to the law had been brought forth by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004. Judge Tauro agreed and said the Section 3 of DOMA forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens in order to be eligible for federal funding in federal-state partnerships. The judge further ruled that DOMA violates the Constitutional right of married same-sex couples to equal protection under the law and upends the Federal government’s long history of allowing states to set their own marriage laws.

More from the New York Times and the Boston Globe.

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