Friday Night Fun and Culture: Eliza Gilkyson

Tonight Eliza Gilkyson is playing Uncle Calvin’s here in Dallas, unfortunately we have a friend arriving tomorrow and decided to clean house instead of seeing her.

The Limited Reach of the Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Rulings

From Truth Dig

By Bill Blum
Jun 27, 2013

From Greenwich Village in New York to West Hollywood and the Castro District in California, the LGBT community is celebrating, and for good reason. In two landmark rulings handed down Wednesday, the Supreme Court overturned a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act in the case of United States v. Windsor and paved the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California in Hollingsworth v. Perry.

But as the parades, rallies and public displays of pure giddiness wind down, let’s hope that a more sobering realization sets in that despite Wednesday’s triumphs, the court’s decisions fall far short of establishing marriage equality as a federal constitutional right. The decisions may have advanced the ball significantly in that direction, but they were, in fact, narrow and bitterly divided 5-4 rulings issued by a deeply conservative tribunal that erect stiff barriers to further progress, both for the cause of marriage equality and the broader goals of social justice extending beyond the issue.

How proponents of marriage equality and progressives generally proceed from this point depends on understanding exactly what Wednesday’s decisions said and didn’t say. To do that, we must look beyond the headlines.

Of the two rulings, Windsor has the wider nationwide application. Authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by the court’s four liberals, the majority opinion held that Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage for purposes of more than a thousand federal laws and benefit programs as the union of one man and one woman, violated the basic principles of due process and equal protection of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. In heartfelt prose that spoke of the sanctity and dignity of same-sex unions, Kennedy reasoned that the section’s only purpose was to impose a “separate status and so a stigma” upon same-sex couples, and that such purpose was unconstitutional.

Threaded within Kennedy’s heartfelt prose, however, was a narrative of states-rights and old-fashioned federalism, whereby he and the majority recognized that with few constitutional exceptions (pertaining, for example, to now-defunct state laws prohibiting interracial unions), the definition of marriage is by historical tradition and the weight of constitutional law left to the states. The majority opinion did not alter that tradition with regard to gay marriage. To the contrary, the opinion ends with the stark admonition that “its holding [is] confined to those lawful marriages” in states that have opted to recognize same-sex unions.

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The Long Road to Marriage Equality

From The New York Times:

Published: June 26, 2013

NEW HAVEN — THE Supreme Court’s soaring decision to strike down the core of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional is a civil rights landmark, but the history leading up to it is poorly understood. Marriage equality was neither inevitable nor, until recently, even conceivable. And the struggle for it was not, as is commonly believed, a natural consequence of the gay liberation movement that gained steam in the late 1960s.

It was not until the 1980s that securing legal recognition for same-sex relationships became an urgent concern of lesbians and gay men. Decades earlier, such recognition was almost unimaginable. In the 1950s, most states criminalized gay people’s sexual intimacy. Newspaper headlines blared the State Department’s purge of homosexual employees during the McCarthy-era “lavender scare.” Police cracked down on lesbian and gay bars and other alleged “breeding grounds” of homosexuality.

The lesbian and gay liberation movements of the early 1970s did not make marriage a priority — quite the opposite. Activists fought police raids, job discrimination and families’ rejection of their queer children. Most radical activists scorned the very idea of marriage. But a handful walked into clerks’ offices across the country to request marriage licenses. State officials suddenly realized that their laws failed to limit marriage to a man and a woman; no other arrangement had been imagined. By 1978, 15 states had written this limitation into law.

A “traditional family values” movement arose to oppose gay rights and feminism. Anita Bryant and other activists took aim at some of the earliest local anti-discrimination laws, and by 1979 they had persuaded voters in several cities to repeal them. Subsequently, in more than 100 state and local referendums, gay-rights activists had to defend hard-won protections. This, not marriage, consumed much of their energy.

It was the ’80s that changed things. The AIDS epidemic and what came to be known as the “lesbian baby boom” compelled even those couples whose friends and family fully embraced them to deal with powerful institutions — family and probate courts, hospitals, adoption agencies and funeral homes — that treated them as legal strangers.

Hospitals could deny the gay partner of someone with AIDS visitation privileges, not to mention consultation over treatment. He couldn’t use his health insurance to cover his partner. He risked losing his home after his partner died, if his name wasn’t on the lease or if he couldn’t pay inheritance taxes on his partner’s share (which would not have been required of a surviving spouse).

When two women shared parenting and the biological mother died, the courts often felt obliged to grant custody to her legal next of kin — even if the child wished to remain with the nonbiological mother. If the women separated, the biological mother could unilaterally deny her ex the right to see their children.

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Christo-Nazi Tony Perkins: Gay Marriage Threatens Freedom, SCOTUS Legitimacy

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The People’s Filibuster: Texas Governor Revives Anti-Abortion Bill Defeated by Protesters, Lawmakers

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Wendy and the Boys

From The New York Times:

Published: June 26, 2013

There is an old saying that Texas is “heaven for men and dogs, but hell for women and oxen.” But the state’s history is chock-full of stories of female role models. Barbara Jordan. Ann Richards. In downtown Austin, there’s a statue of Angelina Eberly, heroine of the Texas Archives War of 1842, firing a cannon and looking about 7 feet tall.

I do not have nearly enough time to explain to you about the Archives War, although it’s an extremely interesting story. Right now we need to move on to State Senator Wendy Davis, whose 11-hour filibuster this week turned her into a national name brand.

“It was like a made-for-TV movie. I’ve been around the block, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood and the daughter of the former governor.

Texas is a state with one of the nation’s highest teenage motherhood rates, where a majority of women who give birth are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. So, naturally, its political leaders have declared war against the right of women to choose whether or not they want to be pregnant. Funding for family planning has been slashed. This month, Gov. Rick Perry tried to pass a new law that would have shut down almost all the abortion clinics in the state, under the guise of expanded health and safety requirements.

Huge crowds showed up to protest! This was pretty remarkable because Texas is not currently known as a place where people pay intense attention to what goes on in its State Capitol. (A recent study at the University of Texas at Austin found that it has “one of the nation’s lowest political and civic participation rates.”) Also, the conventional wisdom is that when things get politically rowdy, it’s because of a visitation from the right.

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Wendy Davis, feminist superhero

From Salon:

The filibustering pro-choice Texas state senator is helping turn her state blue. Ann Richards is smiling

After much confusion, the Statesman reports that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced on the Senate floor at 3:01 a.m that the bill had, in fact, not passed.

Original post:

In a better world, the discussion of sonograms would not be at all germane to proposed new antiabortion legislation, because the two issues would have nothing to do with one another. But since Texas, like many other states, recently passed a requirement that women get a sonogram before obtaining an abortion, it made perfect sense that state Sen. Wendy Davis would talk about the way SB 5, the state’s proposed new abortion restrictions, might relate to the earlier sonogram law.

Davis was 11 hours into an effort to filibuster that draconian antiabortion legislation when she turned to its relationship with the sonogram law, and Republican Sen. Donna Campbell stood up and claimed the Democrat’s sonogram discussion wasn’t germane to the legislation Davis was filibustering. If Campbell was right, that was Davis’ third “strike” – a violation of Senate rules that would end the filibuster. After a long break, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst agreed that Davis’ discussion of the sonogram law wasn’t germane to the abortion law debate, and moved to end the filibuster. There followed amazing parliamentary wrangling that had Roberts Rules of Order trending on Twitter in some areas, but in the end, the Senate seemed to pass SB 5 in a shady way (more on that later) that will make an already suspect, poorly written bill even more likely to be overturned by the courts.

That outcome aside: Wendy Davis is a badass.

The funny, feisty state senator is already a star on the national feminist circuit. Raised by a single mother, Davis herself became a single mom at 19. She started out at Tarrant Community College, went on to Texas Christian University and got her law degree from Harvard. She moved from the Fort Worth City Council to the Texas House to the Senate with impressive momentum. This isn’t her first filibuster: In 2011 she filibustered $4 billion in education cuts, making Gov. Rick Perry call a special session to push them through anyway. I got to meet her when I last visited Texas, as a guest of the wonderful feminist group Annie’s List, and everyone I talked to thought she’d get to be Texas governor someday – at least governor. Alongside the Castro brothers, Mayor Julian and congressman Joaquin, she’s one of the best reasons why Texas will turn blue in our lifetimes.

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