French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira’s Speech to the National Assembly after the passage of the bill opening marriage and adoption to same-sex couples
Mister President, Mister Prime Minister, Congresswomen and Congressmen,
I must admit that I am overwhelmed by emotion. Still, I hope that I’ll be able to say a few words. I am extremely thankful to the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic for giving us the opportunity to pass this beautiful reform. We passed it with force. We passed it with the constant support of the government. We passed it with your active participation. You all improved this bill. You enriched it. You were there during the long nights of debate. You were there. You were stoic, sometimes in the face of hateful speeches that were against our deeply held values. But there were also great and beautiful expressions of democracy. In the opposition, we had speeches from congresspeople who fought against this bill and who made their firm objections known through their arguments. We are grateful to them as well, because their objections will also be recorded by history.
In passing this law, we know that we built something together. We know that we did not take anything away from anyone. When the first signs of dissent sprung up in society, we asked ourselves questions. We asked ourselves if our beliefs were enough. We attentively listened to the fears and protests of the opposition. We responded. Lucidly. Clearly. Frankly. And we pointed them towards the content of the bill. We asked ourselves what the most precious things in the lives of heterosexual couples and their families are. And we did not touch those things.
One week ago today, the Senate confirmed Eric Fanning as Undersecretary of the Air Force — the second-highest civilian position in that branch of the United States Armed Services. On that same day last week, the executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America announced that it would propose changing its position on whether gay boys and men would be welcomed to participate as scouts and troop leaders. Under the proposed changes, Undersecretary Fanning would be unfit and unwelcomed to step into the role of a Boy Scout troop leader. Why? Because he is a gay man.
Fanning has been deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy since July 2009. When Bill Clinton was president, Fanning was a research assistant with the House Armed Services Committee, a special assistant in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense, and an associate director of political affairs at the White House. But because he is gay, the Boy Scouts of America consider him to be unfit as an adult leader for its young members.
Under the new guidelines being proposed by the executive committee, the Boy Scouts will no longer ban or discriminate against gay boys who have the courage to come out to their peers and their troop leaders. That is, until they reach the age of 18. The day they turn 18 years old, according to the new guidelines, these young men become unfit and unwelcomed to participate in Scouting in any capacity. Why, because at 18, they are gay men — no longer gay boys, but gay men. And that, according to the thinking behind the new guidelines, changes everything and renders these former scouts a danger, a menace, a threat to the teenagers who were their peers the day before. And it renders them unfit for the rest of their lives.
What idiocy is this?
It is the kind of idiocy that continues to allow employers in 29 states to fire an employee simply because he or she is gay.
It is the kind of idiocy that is rearing its ugly head in legislative efforts designed to permit anyone to refuse to extend any and all services to gay men and women simply by invoking a First Amendment right to freedom of religious expression.
It is the kind of idiocy that carries with it the moniker homophobia.
And the new guidelines proposed by the Boy Scouts of America, camouflaged as progressive policy, do little more than reinforce their entrenched homophobia. For all intents and purposes, the executive committee is just passing the buck to the next generation of Boy Scouts of America leaders.
For my part, I have every confidence that the next generation of leaders will have more courage than the current timid group to stand up, to speak up and to act to assure the equal treatment and the equal respect of all American citizens — our Undersecretary of the Air Force included.
Video Message by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (Oslo, 15-16 April 2013).
Chief Justice John Roberts
Supreme Court of the United States
Dear Mr. Chief Justice:
How much more violation must gay men and women suffer before you decide No More?
This past week, Roger Gorley was beaten by police while being forced to leave the bedside of his domestic partner at the Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, despite a standing Presidential directive granting full visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners, despite having the necessary medical power of attorney, and despite the insistence of his partner, “I want him here.” None of this was to any avail. The hospital deferred instead to an estranged brother and sister of the patient because they claimed they were next of kin.
What will it take for you to rule that same-gender partners are next of kin. How much data — how much more human suffering — will it take to satisfy you that same-gender couples deserve the full privileges and equal protections of the law that you enjoy with your spouse, and that you would want your kids and their spouses to enjoy, whomever they marry.
This past week, New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez chose to veto legislation that would have helped same-gender spouses and domestic partners of gay military personnel obtain professional work licenses in New Mexico, while moments later she signed an identical bill that made the same help available to spouses in heterosexual military couples.
Your Honor, in your comments from the bench two weeks ago during the Court’s oral arguments on California’s Prop 8, you wondered out loud whether at the heart of the move for marriage equality, the real issue was just one of a “label” – whether the real issue was just one of wanting to use marriage to qualify the relationship between two men or two women, where civil union already carried the same legal weight (at least in California).
No Your Honor, we can use all that other language until we are blue in the face — civil union, domestic partner, even husband, wife and spouse if we come from a state that has legalized same-gender marriage — but there are 29 states where none of that carries any recognition much less any force of law. There are 29 states that, either by statute or by constitutional amendment, ban any legal recognition of same-gender relationships and bar any familial rights to partners of a same-gender couple. Missouri is one of those states. As a result, we witness the self-righteous actions of the Kansas City medical center staff and the police. But, New Mexico is not one of those states. In fact in New Mexico, neither the constitution nor the marriage statute explicitly forbid same-gender marriage and neither explicitly define marriage as between a man and a woman. But the Governor, when given the choice, decided that same-gender military spouses should not enjoy the same legal benefits as do their heterosexual armed forces’ neighbors.
No Your Honor, the movement for marriage equality is not labor for a label. The movement for marriage equality is a struggle to be treated with equanimity. Same-gender couples are grossly discriminated against throughout the United States because states laws allow for it. The dignity of same-gender couples is violated every day by politicians and citizens alike living in 29 states because they can. And they do. And it is legal.
And it is unseemly.
Your Honor, I suspect that not often does a case appear before the Supreme Court that carries with it the capacity to clarify our character as an American people — all deserving of equal dignity before the law. So, again I ask: How much more indignation must same-gender spouses and domestic partners suffer before you can bring yourself to rule No More?
Earlier this week, in an ugly display of bigotry, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed legislation that would have helped same-gender spouses and domestic partners of gay military personnel obtain professional licenses in New Mexico, while moments later she signed an identical bill that made the same help available to spouses of heterosexual military couples.
The legislation expedites the licensing process for spouses of military personnel or recent veterans who relocate to New Mexico and who need to become licensed in order to work — such as teachers or counselors. The expedited licensing process will allow them to quickly begin to work. State agencies will be required to issue a license to professionals related to military personnel “as soon as practicable,” if the applicant is already licensed in another state.
But related to military personnel does not include same-gender spouses or domestic partners in the legislation that is now law — a deliberate and exclusionary choice made by this governor. Salon reports, “red tape will still delay same-sex spouses of active duty and veteran service members looking for work in the state, creating a two-tiered system for gay and straight spouses.”
Let’s be clear. Gay service members extend themselves on behalf of the United States and the American people, including New Mexicans, every bit as much as straight members of the military. If, God forbid, they are injured or maimed, they too have to wait every minute of the over 270 days that it now takes on average to start a regular flow of benefits from the Veterans Administration. Yet Governor Martinez, given the choice, decided that she would saddle gay service members and their families with an additional burden as they struggle to provide for one another, just because she could. That is called animus — an usually prejudiced and often spiteful or malevolent ill will.
And then she had the brass to claim:
When military families and recent veterans move to New Mexico, we have to make it easier for them to support themselves and get to work. This legislation will end the burdensome process of requiring these already-licensed nurses, teachers, counselors, and other professionals to start over from the beginning when they are transferred to our state. I’m pleased that we are now removing this red tape and making it easier for our troops, veterans, and military spouses to get to work right away.
What she neglected to add was, unless you’re gay.
New Mexico’s constitution and marriage statute do not explicitly forbid same-gender marriage and do not explicitly define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Two years ago, the state’s attorney general issued an opinion that same-gender marriages performed in other states could be recognized in New Mexico, and while an opinion does not carry the force of law, there is no statute to the contrary.
Martinez’s choice to veto legislation that specifically included honorable gay members of the United States military and instead sign legislation that excludes them from the benefits enjoyed by their straight counterparts needs to be called out for what it is. It is bigotry. It is animus. It’s what ugly looks like.
Written by Jack Montgomery. Published at www.dearscotus.com on Mar 27, 2013
Dear Justice Scalia as well as your distinguished peers serving on the Supreme Court,
First let me thank you for hearing the historic cases this week on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). My husband, Kelly Vielmo, and I adopted three beautiful siblings from DC’s foster care system last year. Being an inter-racial, same-sex family we are used to being conspicuous and sometimes the center of attention on a local level depending on where we happen to be. With the cases being heard in the Supreme Court this week our family is now on debate at the national level. With that said I am following with interest your ruling on these cases. One comment that stuck with me was the speculation of potential “deleterious” effects of kids having same-sex parents. After I looked up deleterious (adj. causing harm or damage) I had to reflect on the harm and damage that has been done to my children. I know that you are listening to these cases from a nationally-scaled legal point of view, but the intent of this letter is to offer you the lens and point of view of one individual family your rulings will affect.
Marriage Equality Image
Three days ago, San Francisco’s Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone posted, to his personal Facebook page, the above mockery of the marriage equality image – the most used profile image in Facebook history[i]. The scriptural reference reads: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.” In under 24 hours, over 200 angry comments had been posted in response. The post was deleted after it received over 350 comments, not a single one of which was supportive.[ii]
Ross Murray, Director of News and Faith Initiatives at GLAAD[iii] writes: “The verse is a misappropriation of Jesus’ longer narrative, in which he calls out religious leaders who use their authority to hurt and condemn others…much like the situation we see today. It is especially disheartening to see this symbol and verse being used at a time when LGBT youth homelessness is so high. As Carl Siciliano of the Ali Forney Center has noted, many homeless LGBT youth have been kicked out of their homes because religious leaders have told parents that is the only thing to do.”
It is the middle of Holy Week in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. The new Pope Francis said on the day the Archbishop posted his mockery , “Holy Week challenges us to step outside of ourselves so as to attend to the needs of others; those who long for a sympathetic ear, those in need of comfort or help.” Two days ago, the Pope visited a juvenile detention center in Rome and washed the feet of young offenders including women and Muslims. When asked why he had come to visit them, he responded it was to “help me be humble, as a bishop should be.”
Humility is not the strong suit of the bishop of San Francisco. It is rather hubris that he prefers to cloak himself in. He harbors particular spite towards gay men and women. He obviously considers the idea of legalizing same-gender marriage as repugnant and sacrilegious (see my earlier essay). That is his prerogative.
And yet, he is the archbishop in San Francisco. The city and the surrounding areas that fall within his archdiocese are filled with gay men and women, gay youth and same-gender families. And his default position is to preach division – indeed to sanction, if not condone division if, of all the utterances he could possibly draw from the Gospels, he offers: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.” It is some vile strain of animus that compels this man to focus so much of his energies on antagonizing and alienating the gay community and the people who love and care about them.
There is a new spirit of humility and humanity emanating from Rome. “Help one another. That is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do it with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service.” This is what Pope Francis shared with the youngsters at the detention center two days ago.
Your Eminence, you were appointed by the very antagonistic Benedict XVI, and you are still towing his line. You now have permission to speak and act differently. The generosity of spirit being demonstrated by Pope Francis is giving you permission to speak and act on his desire that we all be embraced as children of God. Take off that ill-fitting cloth of division and spite. I would wager that the newer cloak of humility, humanity and service will fit you much better.
If not, then perhaps it is you who are ill-fitted for the role of bishop.
[iii] GLAAD’s Mission: GLAAD amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality.
Earlier this week, in the hearing before the United Sates Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the 1996 Act of Congress that defined marriage solely as the union of a man and a woman, Associate Justice Elena Kagan read the Congressional rational for the law directly from the Report issued by the House of Representative. She stated, “What happened in 1996 is that ‘Congress decided to reflect an honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.’”
The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) was predicated on animus – that is, on an usually prejudiced and often spiteful or malevolent ill will toward one particular group of individuals – toward homosexuals.
It was with animus in 1996 that the members of Congress wrote and overwhelmingly approved DoMA. It would be with animus now in 2013 if the Supreme Court were to allow the Federal Government to continue to treat gay men and women as less than equal citizens – as less than entitled to enjoy the same rights to marriage as every other citizen in the United States of America. I cannot fathom how any one of the Justices on the Court could or would allow such inequity to persist. We shall have to wait to read their rationales in their opinions.
But there’s more, much more.
Animus toward gays and lesbians is alive and well in marriage laws throughout the individual states of the United States, not just at the Federal level. In 41 states, gay men and women are expressly excluded from the rights to marriage. In 41 states, gay men and women are legally robbed of the right to marry the person they love – exclusively because they are gay. The laws reserve the right to marriage to straight couples only. And by-and-large, the states are perfectly within their rights to do so. The laws governing marriage have always been the prevue of the individual states…BUT then there was that one monumental exception!
In 1967, the Supreme Court stepped in to strike down the last vestige of animus towards mixed-raced couples and declared that they, like any other American citizens, had the right to marry – that regardless of the laws in 16 individual states prohibiting mixed-race marriages at the time, their right to marry was protected under the Constitution of the United States. On that day in 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny mixed-race couple a marriage license.
In 2013, in over three-quarters of our states, gay men and women are still denied a marriage license. They are still legally prohibited from marrying the person they love simply because they are gay. Why is it not time for the Supreme Court to step in and strike down this vestige of animus towards gay American citizens, even if it is unpalatable to the individual states?