Monthly Archives: January 2012

Gov. Christie Promises Harris Will Recuse Himself on SSM

The Republic:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie found himself on the defense Monday over his two Supreme Court picks just a week after announcing that he was moving to diversify the state's all-white Supreme Court by nominating two firsts: an openly gay black man and an immigrant.

Christie said Bruce Harris, who is gay, told the governor he would recuse himself from hearing any gay marriage cases because the nominee, a former Chatum Borough mayor, has advocated for the issue.

Years ago Harris, 61, wrote to several state senators asking for their support of a same-sex marriage bill being heard by the Senate in late 2009. Christie, a Republican who supports civil unions but opposes calling it marriage, said Harris volunteered the information about his writing.

"He told me he favored same-sex marriage, had advocated for it in his political capacity and as a result, if he were confirmed to the court, would recuse himself from that matter because he did not want there to be the appearance of bias," the governor recalled.

Paul Mulshine: Chris Christie Judicial Nominee Wrote in Support of SSM

Paul Mulshine in the New Jersey Star-Ledger broke the story:

Christie said of Harris and his other nominee, Phillip Kwon of Bergen County, “I did not ask them about specific cases.” He pointed to two other cases of concern to conservatives, the Abbott school-funding decisions and the Mount Laurel decisions on affordable housing, and said “to the extent that they’ve taken positions on those issues, they’re going to have to let us know that.”

It turns out Harris has already done so, at least when it comes to same-sex marriage. Back in 2009, he sent an e-mail to the Republicans then representing Chatham in the Legislature urging all three to vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

“You have met me and my partner of nearly 30 years, Marc, on more than one occasion at various political gatherings” he wrote. “The New Jersey Supreme Court has already determined that our relationship is entitled to the equal protection guarantees of the State Constitution.”

The e-mail went on to urge the legislators to go to the site of Garden State Equality, a gay rights group, to view two videos “that provide sad examples of the failures of the civil union law.”

One of the recipients of the e-mail was state Sen. Joe Pennacchio. When I phoned him, he said he recalled having a brief talk with Harris after receiving the e-mail.

Prof. Patrick Lee: Same-Sex Marriage "Unjust and Incoherent"

Patrick Lee is the John N. and Jamie D. McAller Professor of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Stuebenville. He writes in Public Discourse that "the conjugal conception of marriage is just and coherent; the same-sex marriage proponents' unjust and incoherent":

The “marriage equality movement”: that’s the name chosen for themselves by same-sex “marriage” supporters. The implicit argument is that the state’s granting marriage licenses only to opposite-sex couples is undue discrimination. The claim has an initial plausibility: the state grants a marriage license to John and Mary but not to Jim and Steve. Isn’t that unequal treatment? But this charge, I will show, rests on a profound confusion about both marriage and equality. A state’s recognition that marriage is only between a man and a woman is not unjust. What’s more, a state’s endorsement of same-sex “marriage” does create an arbitrary and invidious discrimination.

Is This the Kind of Judge a President Christie Would Nominate?

Maggie Gallagher on NRO's The Corner blog:

There’s a brouhaha brewing in New Jersey over Gov. Chris Christie’s nomination to the New Jersey Supreme Court of Bruce Harris. Turns out Harris wrote a letter in 2009 supporting gay marriage — and equating support for our marriage tradition with slavery.

Bruce Harris wrote this in a 2009 e-mail to State Senator Joe Pennacchio:

When I hear someone say that they believe marriage is only between a man and a woman because that’s the way it’s always been, I think of the many “traditions” that deprived people of their civil rights for centuries: prohibitions on interracial marriage, slavery, (which is even provided for in the Bible), segregation, the subservience of women, to name just a few of these “traditions.”

I hope that you consider my request that you re-evaluate your position and, if after viewing the videos, reading Governor Whitman’s letter and thinking again about this issue of civil rights you still oppose same-sex marriage on grounds other than religion I would appreciate it if you you’d explain your position to me. And, if the basis of your opposition is religious, then I suggest that you do what the US Constitution mandates — and that is to maintain a separation between the state and religion.

When the assemblyman charged with vetting judicial nominees was sent a copy of this intemperate email, he responded: “Yikes.”

This is a potentially huge red flag for those who see Christie as the future of the conservative movement. Can he be trusted to care enough to appoint judicial conservatives? Will Governor Christie stand by this kind of judicial appointment, or will he admit that mistakes were made in the vetting process and withdraw the nomination?

National Organization for Marriage to Starbucks: "Stay Out of Marriage Fights"


Contact: Elizabeth Ray or Anath Hartmann at (703-683-5004)

"Americans should be able to drink a peaceful cup of coffee without worrying that a portion of the company's profits is going to be used to push gay marriage without a vote from the people."
—Brian Brown, NOM's President—

Olympia, WA—Today, Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), sharply criticized Starbucks' decision to wade into the gay marriage fight in Washington State. That decision comes on top of an earlier decision by Starbucks to ask the Supreme Court to strike down the federal definition of marriage as one man and one woman as well.

"Americans should be able to drink a peaceful cup of coffee without worrying that a portion of the company's profits is going to be used to push gay marriage without a vote from the people," said Brown. "This is a gratuitous leap into a hot button culture war issue; respect for diversity touted by Starbucks ought to include respecting the diverse views of all its customers and employees."

NOM pledged an intensive public relations effort to ask Starbucks customers who favor retaining marriage as the union of husband and wife to complain to company headquarters.

Jonathan Baker, head of NOM's Corporate Fairness Project, called on Starbucks to make it clear they will not discriminate against customers, vendors or employees who oppose same-sex marriage. "Increasingly, gay marriage extremists are arguing that people known to oppose same-sex marriage should not be hired, or even, should be fired. Diversity and tolerance are a two-way street. Having waded into a social issue where Starbucks has no special competence, the company has an obligation to reassure its customers, vendors and employees that it will respect the most important diversity—diversity of opinion," noted Baker.

To schedule an interview with Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, please contact Elizabeth Ray, [email protected], (x130) or Anath Hartmann, [email protected], (x105) at 703-683-5004.


Superbowl Legend David Tyree On Supporting Marriage and Life After the NFL

USAToday Sports tells us where Superbowl legend David Tyree is now:

...The spectacular catch launched [Tryree] into various marketing opportunities and, more important for him, onto a pedestal to share his views. He co-wrote a book, More Than Just the Catch, in which he discussed his strong religious convictions. Tyree and his wife, Leilah, are the parents of six children they home-school in Wayne, N.J. The couple are working on another faith-based book that Tyree says "is going to challenge the core of our culture."

Last summer, he appeared in a video for the National Organization for Marriage. At the time, he said pending legislation of a gay marriage bill in New York would promote "anarchy" if passed. New York later legalized same-sex marriage.

Tyree was deluged with criticism.

"I don't value marketability — I value the honor of my God,'' he said. "When you talk about this being a (nation) where everybody is entitled to their opinion … (but) the moment you say something that goes against what is relevant to our culture, all of a sudden you are (called) a bigot. I got tons of flak, but I expected that."

You can watch Tyree's NOM interview (which has been viewed almost 70,000 times on YouTube) from last summer here:



Detroit FreeP: EMU Counseling Student Wins OK to Sue

The Detroit Free Press on Julea Ward's victory at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals:

An Eastern Michigan University student who was expelled from a counseling program because she refused to counsel gays and lesbians about their lifestyles won a key victory today in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A three-member panel of the court said Julea Ward can argue her religious discrimination suit against the university before a federal court jury in Detroit.

... “Although the university submits it dismissed Ward from the program because her request for a referral violated the ACA (American Counseling Association) code of ethics, a reasonable jury could find otherwise — that the code of ethics contains no such bar and that the university deployed it as a pretext for punishing Ward’s religious views and speech.”

... Although Ward refused to counsel gays and lesbians about their sexual orientation, she said she was willing to counsel them on other issues.

Mitt Romney to Faith Leaders: Obama's Assault on Marriage and DOMA

Mitt Romney on a call with faith leaders said about Obama's record on Marriage:

"There's been an assault on marriage. I think [the President] is very aggressively trying to pave the path to same-sex marriage. I would, unlike this President, defend the Defense of Marriage Act. And I would also propose and promote once again an amendment to the Constitution to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman."

Newt to Faith Leaders: Gay Marriage a "Fundamental Violation of our Civilization"

On a call with faith leaders, Newt Gingrich said about gay marriage:

"Marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a historic doctrine driven deeply into the bible. Both in the old testament and in the new testament. And it's a perfect example of what I mean by the rise of paganism. The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors but they are a fundamental violation of our civilization."

Gov. O'Malley's Wife Apologizes for Calling Opponents of SSM "Cowards"

Matt Palmer of the Catholic Review:

Maryland First Lady Katie O’Malley has apologized for calling members of the House of Delegates who opposed voting on changing the definition of marriage in 2011 “cowards.”

A bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland was never voted on in the House of Delegates after passing in the Senate last year. The bill was returned to the House Judiciary Committee after a lengthy debate.

O’Malley created a firestorm Jan. 26 at the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference in Baltimore when making the comments about the House of Delegates.

“We didn’t expect the things that happened to the House of Delegates to occur, but sadly they did, and there were some cowards that prevented it from passing,” Katie O’Malley said.

O’Malley also made comments about how religious organizations should not be involved in the debate.

... After word leaked out that Katie O’Malley made the comments, she was roundly criticized throughout the state. It forced her to release a statement the morning of Jan. 27.

“I regret my recent choice of words at the Creating Change Conference last night,” she said. “I let my feelings get the better of me. I deeply respect that there are strongly held and differing views on marriage equality in Maryland, but hope that our state’s elected officials will come together to fairly address this important issue for our families and children.”

... Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the MCC, bristled at O’Malley’s comments and defended the House of Delegates.

“It’s completely ironic that anyone would call legislators who stood up for traditional marriage cowards,” Russell said. “It took extraordinary courage on their part to withstand the arm-twisting and political pressure that they were under last year, and it will take the same kind of courage and even more this year.”

Proposed NY Redistricting Attempts to Save Flip-Flopper Grisanti

A sign that the GOP leadership is worried about Sen. Mark Grisanti's re-election effort because of his vote for gay marriage?

The long-awaited proposals to redraw state Senate and Assembly boundaries are finally out. And reviews are harsh particularly for the redrawn Senate map which would grow from 62 seats to 63.

“When you have legislators drawing their own designer districts, this is the product that you get,” said Barbara Bartoletti, league of Women Voters Legislative Director.

New boundaries for state and federal offices must be redrawn every 10 years based on the latest Census data. The process has been decried by good government groups for being stacked in favor of incumbent parties. The theory is that by carving the state into enough of a jigsaw puzzle, the reigning parties stay in power. It's created some odd looking shapes, including one known as Abe Lincoln Riding a Vacuum. That's gone under the proposal, but this new one could be called The Flying Bat.

“They're using every trick in the book. They're drawing new districts where they don't belong. They're throwing Democrats in districts together,” State Senator Michael Gianaris said.

GOP Senator Mark Grisanti district would now be entirely in Erie County, which increases his chances of keeping the Conservative Party line, even though he voted for same-sex marriage. There's also a new Senate seat proposed for the Albany region carved out with areas that contain Republican voters. When viewed as a whole, the map shows a representation shift to Republican heavy upstate, which could help the party maintain control of the chamber. - YNN

NY Redistricting Proposal Sidesteps Storobin Challenge for Ex-Sen. Kruger's Seat

The New York Daily News Politics blog:

If the new Senate redistricting lines are approved, it would render the upcoming March 20 special election to fill the Brooklyn seat of convicted ex-Sen. Carl Kruger practically meaningless.

That’s because the two candidates running, Democrat City Councilman Lew Fidler and Republican David Storobin would no longer live in the district under the plan. The two would be shifted out of the district as part of the creation of an Orthodox Jewish-heavy district centered in Borough Park.

Fidler, under the propposal, would reside in Senate Democratic Minority Leader John Sampson’s district while Storobin would share a district with Democratic Sen. Diane Savino, according to a city-based source.

"The special election is March 20 with two people running, neither of whom can represent the district once things are settled," a source said.

Georgetown U's Tom Farr on the Critical Need to Respect Conscience

Thomas Farr, visiting associate professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, served as a diplomat and was the State Department’s first director of the Office of International Religious Freedom.

Farr talks to Joan Frawley Desmond at the National Catholic Register on the challenges ahead for religious liberty and respect for conscience:

...When it comes to marriage, abortion or other issues of concern to Catholics, it leaves us in a precarious position. The remedy must be to engage with energy and optimism in public-policy debates, and to win.

Let me give you one example — among many — of the problem we face. The new health-care law may require Catholic associations like colleges and hospitals to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their health-care plans. Catholics are, quite reasonably, fighting to broaden the conscience exemptions from that requirement (exemptions which now appear to apply only to churches themselves).

Conscience protections are important because they acknowledge, in principle, that protecting the conscience of the religious dissenter is more important than the law itself. But the conscience approach is, in my view, insufficient. Catholics need to marshal their resources more effectively to defeat these laws in the legislatures. We have not done this well, and we should ask ourselves why.

Charles Murray on The New American Divide Over Marriage

Charles Murray essay in last Saturday's Wall Street Journal previewing his new book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010:

... When Americans used to brag about "the American way of life"—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity.

Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America's core cultural institutions.

... Marriage: In 1960, extremely high proportions of whites in both Belmont and Fishtown were married—94% in Belmont and 84% in Fishtown. In the 1970s, those percentages declined about equally in both places. Then came the great divergence. In Belmont, marriage stabilized during the mid-1980s, standing at 83% in 2010. In Fishtown, however, marriage continued to slide; as of 2010, a minority (just 48%) were married. The gap in marriage between Belmont and Fishtown grew to 35 percentage points, from just 10.

Single parenthood: Another aspect of marriage—the percentage of children born to unmarried women—showed just as great a divergence. Though politicians and media eminences are too frightened to say so, nonmarital births are problematic. On just about any measure of development you can think of, children who are born to unmarried women fare worse than the children of divorce and far worse than children raised in intact families. This unwelcome reality persists even after controlling for the income and education of the parents.

The Invention of Heterosexuality?

Thomas Rogers interviews Hanne Blank in Salon:

Blank mentions her personal story at the beginning of her provocative new history of heterosexuality, “Straight,” as a way of illustrating just how artificial our notions of “straightness” really are. In her book, Blank, a writer and historian who has written extensively about sexuality and culture, looks at the ways in which social trends and the rise of psychiatry conspired to create this new category in the late 19th and early 20th century. Along the way, she examines the changing definition of marriage, which evolved from a businesslike agreement into a romantic union centered around love, and how social Darwinist ideas shaped the divisions between gay and straight. With her eye-opening book, Blank tactfully deconstructs a facet of modern sexuality that most of us take for granted.

Salon spoke to Blank over the phone about the origins of heterosexuality, the evolution of marriage and why the rise of the “bromance” is a very good thing.

... [Salon:] As you point out in the book, for much of human history, marriage had absolutely nothing to do with sexuality or sex.

[Blank:] It’s more that marriage didn’t have a lot to do with desire. Marriage has always had to do with sex, and the ability to have marital sex and preferably procreate has always been central to marriage. But what was not so important was whether or not you necessarily wanted to have sex with that person. It was your duty, it was paying the marriage debt, and you were gonna do it, by golly, but this was a co-worker, this a partner in business enterprise — not a person you chose to satisfy your own personal whims and desires with. If you happen to also like them and think that they were swell or pretty or handsome then that’s great. But that’s not what you were in it for.

And now everything has changed, because we now prioritize attraction, desire, love, romance, over the strictly economic and community-building aspects of marriage. We live in a culture now where we find it very odd when women don’t support themselves, if somebody chooses to be a stay-at-home mother. That is a huge change, and that’s a huge change just in my lifetime. I’m in my early 40s and I know that when I was a very small child those discussions were not happening in the same way. The economic and legal enfranchisement of women has gone hand-in-hand with both women’s and men’s ability to choose marriage partners based on their own desire, desires for sex, love, companionship, all of those things, and to put that first.