Friday, August 31, 2007

Marriage Equality -- Coming To Iowa?

Good news from Des Moines:

A Polk County judge on Thursday struck down Iowa's law banning gay marriage.

The ruling by Judge Robert Hanson concluded that the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and he ordered the Polk County recorder to issue marriage licenses to six gay couples.

Now, this is just the beginning, it's likely the case will go all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court -- and it's possible equal treatment could lose there.

However, this experience is instructive for two reasons:

1) The *only* progress being made for equality is being made in court. Democrats, despite their constant broken promises, have delivered literally nothing in the 15 years since they decided to court gay people in their propaganda. Once again, they are completely MIA on the most important issues for gay people.

2) Iowa is not Massachusetts, New Jersey, California or other "coastal" states that are considered at the forefront of the marriage equality movement in this country. The simple fact that a judge in a "heartland" state would make such a ruling underscores the sheer scale of the moral victory that LGBTQ people are enjoying in broader society.

The Register notes that:

Polk County is expected to appeal the ruling to the Iowa S upreme Court.

County Attorney John Sarcone said the county would immediately seek a stay from Hanson, which if granted would prevent anyone from seeking a marriage license until an appeal could be heard.


Sarcone, the Polk County attorney, said the arguments in the case were similar to those made in litigation around the country.

"I know Judge Hanson took a lot of time with it," Sarcone said. "He made his decision and we respectfully disagree."

There's no respect in your "disagreement," Mr. Sarcone.

This comes as no surprise to Libertarians, but guess which party Mr. Sarcone is a member of, and was representing in the last election within which he was re-elected as Polk County attorney?

And people ask why we're Libertarians!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The more things change. . .

As the Democrats and Republicans charge forward with their same old politics bereft of meaning, let's pause to commemorate a great moment in campaign history.

A couple of election cycles ago, a popular politician ran this advertisement on Christian radio stations. I've redacted the actual candidate's name. See if you can guess the candidate and party of this anti-gay, conservative "family values" candidate:

Protecting religious freedom. It's the foundation of our nation.

When the Justice Department went after a church to gather the parishioners'tithing money, the government was stopped cold because Our Candidate overturned the government's policy and protected us. It's not the only time he's defended our values. Don't be misled by The Other Guy's attack ads.

Our Candidate wants a complete ban on late term abortions except when the mother's life is in danger or faces severe health risks, such as the inability to have another child.

Our Candidate supports the Defense of Marriage Act, supports curfews and school uniforms to teach our children discipline.

Our Candidate enacted the V-chip to block out violent TV programs. His crime bill expanded the death penalty for drug kingpins. The Other Guy opposed him and is resorting to untrue negative attacks. Our Candidate has fought for our values and America is better for it.

Wow. Moral values legislation? Curfews? DOMA? Mandatory school uniforms? Abortion bans? Television censorship? "Defending our values?"

Must be a Republican! Newt Gingrich? Pat Buchanan? Dick Armey? Perhaps B-1 Bob Dornan?

The answer is here, and may surprise you (if you're not a Libertarian).

As Democrats and Republicans get caught lying, cheating with interns, having toilet-stall sex, and various other unsavory interruptions to their crusades for "moral values," perhaps we should step back and ask why we're allowing the Our Candidates of the world -- Larry Craig or otherwise -- to "defend our morality."

After all, the average person is both more moral -- and more honest -- than these guys. We don't need nor want their "guidance."

And that's something only the Libertarian candidate for president will say.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Trading marriage for $300,000

Equality California put out this press release about the recent inclusion of the first-ever LGBT-specific funding in the state budget.

“LGBT-specific domestic violence programs provide a critical service to the community and Equality California will continue to advocate and secure state budget funding for other types of services in the years ahead. We are truly appreciative of Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Legislature for including this critical funding for LGBT Californians.”

In other words, despite your vetoing a bill recognizing our right to marry, we'll accept three hundred grand in lieu of equality. Thanks, Governor.

Another way to look at this is that LGBT Californians have gotten along just fine for generations without a single penny from the state budget. It makes you wonder how we survived all these years without the money for this "critical service."

Of course, the answer is that this money is not by any stretch of the imagination "critical," but rather just the first step for the LGBT community in the realm of pork barrel politics.

Also, consider the irony that this money isn't even being used to combat the last vestiges of homophobic violence. Instead, it's to deal with domestic violence -- that is, us LGBT folks assaulting and killing ourselves. Couldn't we just stop doing that to ourselves, and give the taxpayers back that money?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Happy 30th Anniversary

On this day in 1977, the Libertarian Party issued a Resolution on Anita Bryant:

WHEREAS the Libertarian party condemns the use of government power to promote racial, religious and other forms of discrimination, including those directed against homosexuals and women, and

WHEREAS the Libertarian party deplores the calculated incitement to hatred against homosexuals which is likely to lead to the use of government power and private violence against them, and

WHEREAS the Libertarian party recognizes the rights of anti-Gays, as well as Gays, to peruse their own peaceful lifestyles,

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Libertarian Party condemns the efforts of Ms. Anita Bryant and her associates and followers to create a climate of hatred against homosexuals, to continue the present systematic state oppression of Gays, and to extend it, for instance by banning homosexual men and women from teaching in public schools. While we did not, an do not now, support the principle of the Dade County anti-discrimination ordinance -- clearly a violation of property rights and freedom of association -- we unequivocally denounce the whipping up of anti-homosexual hysteria which is likely to lead to the infringement of individual rights of homosexuals. We demand that homosexuals be accorded those rights in full and immediately.

California to suffocate its gay couples in tax paperwork and red tape

California has had domestic partnerships for quite some time now.

Unfortunately, Rex Wockner reports that state's bureaucrats were snoozing on the job the entire time, and as a result, have just realized that due to the nature of California's income tax system, California gay couples might have to file THREE state tax returns (two California and one fake federal "pro forma" return) in a year instead of just one return sent to the state. That's in addition to federal tax forms.

In short, average LGBTQ California families will have to file five tax returns with the state and federal governments, while heterosexual California families will only have to file two.

One fix under consideration is for registered California couples to do their federal income taxes three times -- their two real returns, and then a third, fake return, as a married couple. They could then use a number from the fake return to begin their joint state return.

Barrett noted that the Franchise Tax Board prefers to call the proposed fake federal return a "pro forma return."

There's a great rush by state bureaucrats to ensure that "tax software professionals," "the tax preparation community" and the endless legions of other wealth-consuming red-tape-splicers that California's convoluted tax system has created can deal with all the new bureaucratic adaptive policies and temporary directives that this problem causes.

The specific cause?

Since the federal government doesn't recognize gay couples in any way -- be they married or domestically partnered -- such couples have to file their federal taxes singly, as unmarried.

Then turn around and file in California as married.

But how does one do that, given that the first number you put on your state income tax form is a dollar amount from your federal return?

So much for the faux-libertarian frauds who insist that DOMA is "about states' rights and doesn't impact the rights of gays on a state level in any way."

Still think that DOMA advocates aren't advocating separate and unequal treatment for gay couples? Read on:

A third option -- which will be mandatory if no California laws are changed before Jan. 1 -- is to add the adjusted gross incomes from the separate federal returns and just use that number to begin filling out the California married return.

But the FTB is leaning against this option because some registered partners would unfairly pay more taxes this way than they would under other approaches.

Oh, well that's a relief. They're "leaning away" from the presently mandatory requirement for filing -- which costs gay people more than straight people.

In the article, California's Franchise Tax Board representatives groan that there's no ideal solution, while making it very clear that it's going to be a very rough tax year for California's LGBTQ families.

But they are wrong.

How about marriage equality instead -- so that gay people don't get tied up in layers of red tape and have bureaucrats' incompetence put their assets at risk? The level of complexity, bureaucratic nightmares, snarls, regulatory juggling and other gobbledygook going on with this, that simple change would save LGBTQ families in California lots of money and frustration -- and would reduce the workload of the state's bureaucrats.

Even better, how about getting rid of the state income tax altogether, so that this isn't an issue?

They'll get right on those suggestions, I'm sure. After all, they're clearly aware that government works for the people, people don't work for the government.


(Your friendly blogger isn't holding his breath).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pinkwashing Democrats -- 'Tis The Season

The Democratic Party's faithful apologists at NGLTF have long pushed a Democratic Party agenda over the interests of LGBTQ people, and we've written about that here extensively. However, NGLTF head honcho Matt Foreman penned this editorial, another pleading blog post begging Democrats to, well, stop being Democrats and actually stand for something.

The best? Let's start with the title.

Democrats 2008: Déjà vu, all over again?

Do we really have to answer that question, as though it wasn't obvious?


OK, let's push on through NGLTF's spin.

The first chunk of spin-worthy goodness:

The Democratic candidates for president, as a group and individually, express more support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and legislative and policy initiatives to improve our lives than any prior set of presidential candidates in the history of American politics.

That's clearly not true. Not only are the Libertarian Party candidates for president, who are running at the same time as the Democrats, all better on gay issues than any of the Democrats, but when Bill Clinton was signing the Defense of Marriage Act waaaaay back in 1996, Harry Browne was calling for marriage equality.

The striking thing about the Libertarian Party isn't how much our candidates' positions have changed, but rather, how much they've stayed the same! Libertarians have always fielded the best candidates on gay issues from a contemporary perspective, and Libertarians continue to lead the Democrats on any gay equality issue.

no major Democratic candidate has made the kind of sweeping statement of inclusion as did Gov. Bill Clinton in 1992, when he declared to a huge crowd of LGBT people in Los Angeles, “I have a vision for America and you are part of it.”

Too bad that President Clinton didn't mention that his principal vision of "our part in America" would consist of being banned from military service under the DADT policy he signed, and having our relationships legally declared null and void in a DOMA law that he signed (and campaigned on).

His words brought tears to the eyes of the audience and rang out across the United States. Even the most skeptical of us in the LGBT community knew that we heard something previously unspoken by any major political figure.

I wasn't in the audience, but if I had been, I'm sure my tears would have been of despair and frustration, perhaps wondering "how many more times are queer people going to be suckered by these Democratic politicians and their duplicitous rhetoric?"

We also know and painfully remember that Clinton’s vision of America did not translate into much of anything positive for us at the federal level.

Translation: Clinton and the Democratic Party lied to and screwed the gay community, and as a direct result of his actions, and those of his party, LGBTQ people emerged from 8 years of his administration even less free -- and more legally targeted, at a federal level -- than any time in prior history.

That's a bit more than "not translating into anything positive at a federal level."

But Foreman, as you might imagine, is oh-so-forgiving of the Democratic Party.

All of this misery has been exacerbated exponentially by the spinelessness or unwillingness of all but a few national leaders to take a stand for us and denounce the animus unleashed on us. Many of our “friends” have simply looked the other way.

I hope that Mr. Foreman is speaking for NGLTF when he says "us." While his Democratic allies were waffling, flip-flopping, or hiding when the right-wing jihad was unleashed in the 1980s and 1990s, Libertarian Party politicians, activists, and members were fighting the good fight in the trenches. Gay people who were turned away from the Democratic Party, told that they were "too much of a liability" simply because they were gay, found political homes in the Libertarian Party.

I can say that the Libertarian Party, as a base of millions of American voters, has always had my back as a gay man. I have never once seen a situation where Libertarians didn't stand, strongly, as a party and as an organization, to take on the religious right's efforts to use government power to attack LGBTQ Americans and our families.

Too bad Mr. Foreman cannot say that about his party.

we are still waiting for the country’s political leadership to defend our right to live and thrive as a matter of principle

Again, "we" being Democrats and Republicans.

Libertarians have had great names in the past (Harry Browne and Michael Badnarik), and a bevy of pro-gay candidates seeking nomination today, who have done that both in politics and in everyday life.

We deserve and we must demand from the Democratic 2008 presidential candidates the simple and straightforward statement that our humanity requires full respect and fair treatment by all

Don't hold your breath. . .

and, further, an equally simple and straightforward condemnation of those who seek to use our lives for political gain.

Come now, Matt, they're not going to condemn themselves!

We need leadership. We need strength of vision. And we need to know that the promises of reform come from the candidates' understanding of LGBT people as inseparable from the national community in which we live. There can be no more equivocating or silence about the goodness of our personhood, our families, our relationships. Period.


That's why LGBTQ people should vote Libertarian. We've got leaders with strong vision and who accept that LGBTQ people are no more, nor less, than equal. Our front-runners have a history of standing for gay people, with no compromises. They tackle anti-gay laws, anti-gay politicians, and anti-gay media personalities. They support complete equality in marriage, immigration, and parental rights -- all issues that their analogues in the Democratic Party fail miserably on, to this day.

In short, the vision that Foreman hopes the Democrats embrace in 10 or 20 years is the vision our party has had since 1973.

Postscript. . . And if that wasn't funny enough, check out this quote from the first entry in the comments section:

Yes, Mr. Foreman. I'm experiencing deja vu, too. But it's less what you wrote about than "Nader Raiders 2000." Remember them and their scorched earth, all or nothing strategy which succeeded only in raiding enough votes to throw the election in dispute and throw Bush in the White House?

I'm also experiencing extreme indigestion from your stew of indignation, exageration, contradiction, and misinformation. Your boilingrant is all the more surprising after the release of the Task Force analysis of candidates' positions showed all Democrats essentially the same except in the area of marriage. Unfortunately, your latest oratory serves only to muddy the perceptions of those who have not seen that report and, therefore, is untruthful, unnecessary, and counterproductive.

Translation? "Shut up faggots, who cares what you think or how we've ruined things for you?!?! You're going to ruin EVERYTHING!"

Why would any LGBTQ person want to be part of a party where such a philosophy is mainstream (and directing the campaigns of all of the frontrunners)? What queer folk need is a party that stands for their equal rights, every time -- not one that takes umbrage to being asked to do anything beyond the "tell me you love me" politics being exhibited by Foreman.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

US Federal Court Upholds Parents' Rights

One of the criteria that Outright uses for its candidate surveys (and evaluation of other parties' candidates) is their stance on anti-gay adoption and anti parental rights laws.

Oklahoma was one of the worst offenders. Its law invalidating same-sex parental adoptions included a provision that nullified the rights of parents who adopted in other states. In other words, if two same-gender parents who adopted in Illinois were passing through Oklahoma, their parental rights are completely nullified the moment they cross the Oklahoma state line. Parents could (and sometimes did) have their children seized from them by the state government.

Fortunately for US citizens (and unfortunately for anti-gay control freaks), the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit clause does not allow state governments to exercise this level of assault on our rights. Lambda Legal upheld that important principle with a victory in federal court -- striking down the Oklahoma law in question:

In a 35-page decision, a panel of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit rejected the Oklahoma Department of Health's challenge to a lower court decision striking down an Oklahoma law so extreme that it threatened to make children adopted by same-sex couples in other states legal orphans when the families are in Oklahoma. The ruling is important not only in Oklahoma, but also to families across the United States, including in Seattle and Houston, home to two of the families who joined in the suit.


In the opinion released today, U. S. Senior Circuit Judge David M. Ebel wrote, "final adoption orders by a state court of competent jurisdiction are judgments that must be given full faith and credit under the Constitution by every other state in the nation. Because the Oklahoma statute at issue categorically rejects a class of out-of-state adoption decrees, it violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause."

The Adoption Invalidation Law, hastily passed at the end of the 2004 Oklahoma legislative session, had said that Oklahoma "shall not recognize an adoption by more than one individual of the same sex from any other state or foreign jurisdiction."

Many powerful people in the media are arguing that Libertarians should support other parties' candidates in the upcoming elections out of a sense of "pragmatism." However, many other parties' candidates -- including the preferred Republican candidates of many "small-l" libertarians -- will be raging against this decision as a "violation of states' rights."

The Libertarian Party is the only national party whose top-tier presidential candidates all support the outcome of this ruling -- and the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights, as the supreme law of the land. No edits, no deletions, no additions.

That's why your friendly neighborhood blogger will be voting Big-L next November.