CNN Entertainment – Carly Rae Jepsen drops Boy Scouts performance over gay rights

Carly Rae Jepsen drops Boy Scouts performance over gay rights
“Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen is the latest act to drop out of the Boy Scouts of America’s upcoming Jamboree because of the organization’s ban on openly gay members.

The Canadian entertainer announced her decision on Tuesday, saying in a statement posted to her Twitter account that she’s pulled out of the event “as an artist who believes in equality for all people.”

“I always have and will continue to support the LGBT community on a global level and stay informed on the ever changing landscape in the ongoing battle for gay rights in this country and across the globe,” she said.

Jepsen shared the Jamboree bill with the group Train, who announced last Friday that they, too, weren’t going to perform because of the Boy Scouts of America’s policy.

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“When we booked this show for the Boy Scouts of America we were not aware of any policy barring openly gay people from participation within the organization,” the group said in a statement on March 1. “Train strongly opposes any kind of policy that questions the equality of any American citizen. We have always seen the BSA as a great and noble organization. We look forward to participating in the Jamboree this summer, as long as they make the right decision before then.”

Their remarks came after gay Eagle Scout and former Boy Scouts camp leader Derek Nance launched a Change.org petition calling on the two acts to “speak out against the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy and agree to step down” as the headlining acts.

The Boy Scouts of America’s 2013 National Scout Jamboree is described as a 10-day “big celebration of scouting.” In addition to stadium shows, 50,000 scouts, volunteers and staff members gather to take part in outdoor activities, its website says.

The director of public relations for Boy Scouts of America, Deron Smith, told CNN in a statement that they “appreciate everyone’s right to express an opinion,” and that the organization will “remain focused on delivering a great Jamboree program for our Scouts.”

THE NATION – Will the Supreme Court Be Left Behind on Gay Marriage?

Will the Supreme Court Be Left Behind on Gay Marriage?

Proposition Love Jewelry.  *Portion of the proceeds supports Marriage Equality and Gay Rights.
Proposition Love Jewelry. *Portion of the proceeds supports Marriage Equality and Gay Rights.

Nan Hunter on March 4, 2013 – 4:02 PM ET

In case you haven’t noticed, the biggest question facing the Supreme Court when it decides the gay marriage cases this spring has become whether it can rise to the level of LGBT rights ferocity already achieved by American business leaders, moderate Republicans and the Obama administration. By the end of last week, when all the amicus briefs in support of striking down California’s Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) had been filed, support for marriage equality seemed to have been transformed into the new normal—at least outside the confines of the Court.

In fact, judging from the press coverage of the briefs, if the justices don’t rule in favor of gay marriage, it is the Court that will look bad. This perception is an incredible achievement, a brilliant exercise in political framing by the lawyers and legal organizations behind the two cases, who mobilized the amicus show of force. The business brief and the Republican brief, especially, are clearly designed to provide political cover for the Court’s five conservative Justices.

While nothing is certain, there is virtually unanimous agreement among lawyers and law professors that the tougher case for gay rights groups is the challenge to Prop 8 rather than the one to DOMA. The Prop 8 case raises the question of whether all of the forty other state laws banning gay marriage are constitutional, while DOMA implicates only a federal recognition policy that leaves variance in state laws intact.

The best hope for winning Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case, remains either securing a narrow ruling that invalidates only the California law, or persuading the Court that it need not reach the merits at all, relying on the argument that those defending Prop 8 lack the necessary standing because they are private parties that have no authority to enforce it. (The governor and attorney general of California declined to defend the law.) From the beginning, though, the Ted Olson-David Boies strange bedfellows team that brought the case has argued that every law banning gay marriage should be struck down. Even six months ago, that position seemed too radical to attract much support outside the circle of true believers.

Now, however, a ruling of national scope is precisely the outcome endorsed in the brief filed by 100 corporations and in the Republican brief signed by luminaries including former White House officials Ken Duberstein (Reagan Chief of Staff) and Stephen Hadley (Bush National Security Advisor); Iraq War hawk Paul Wolfowitz; two Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers under Bush; the former Director of the Congressional Budget Office; a Justice Department official from the Nixon Administration; the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission, who is also Colin Powell’s son; and four former Republican governors. And, oh yes, Clint Eastwood.

What happened to make possible this conservative blessing of what had seemed to many like such a radical outcome? Fundamentally, the only change is that the political gestalt has shifted so that what was always a conservative claim—to gain access to the core institution for privatizing a broad range of social functions—is increasingly being endorsed by conservatives. Sooner or later, it had to happen.

Nonetheless, it is unquestionably true that the conventional understanding of where the center of American politics stands on this issue has dramatically moved. The reasons are many. A cumulative process, especially since 2009, has driven support for legalizing gay marriage ever higher in public opinion polls. The shock of the 2008 defeat in California catalyzed a younger generation of gay men and lesbians, with ardent support from straight allies, to insist on marriage as the premier gay rights issue. Since that election, gay groups have won a series of state-level battles, as several legislatures legalized equal marriage, including New York (with one chamber controlled by Republicans). At the national level, Congress repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

The icing on the wedding cake came with last November’s election. Voters in three states affirmatively chose to adopt gay marriage, and Minnesota voters rejected the attempt to pass a Prop 8-like measure. Moreover, the first President ever to endorse marriage equality was handily re-elected, without his position ever surfacing as a controversial issue in the campaign. Indeed, support for gay marriage, along with immigration reform, has become the litmus test most frequently identified in the press for assessing whether the Republican Party can rebrand itself as moderate and escape terminal fuddy-duddyism.

Of course, the outcome in the Supreme Court will be decided not by polls or pundits but by nine individuals; actually by six, since there is no question as to which result Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito will endorse. But Justice Kennedy, who wrote the two strongest opinions supporting gay equality in past cases, and even Chief Justice Roberts, who has no real track record in this area, are likely to take seriously the libertarian and business arguments for allowing gay couples to marry. Not doing so would continue the house-divided status quo, in which one’s marital status and even the possibility of divorce depends on an increasingly irrational mélange of different state laws. And, as the firepower across the political spectrum in support of gay marriage so dramatically demonstrates, the ultimate resolution is inevitable. Best just to bite the bullet and do it now.

If this all sounds a bit too good to be true, maybe it is. Justice Kennedy is also a strong believer in state sovereignty, and a decision forcing legal change in forty-one states may be too much for him to join. The great bulk of the US population lives in a jurisdiction where gay marriage is not legal. The defenders of Prop 8 will to try assuage the justices that if the political process is left to work, more and more states will re-amend their constitutions and change their statutes to gradually adopt gay marriage laws on their own, without judicial “interference.” In addition, the liberal justices who support gay marriage may worry that a sweeping Roe v. Wade-like decision will trigger a massive backlash. These considerations combine to make that standing argument sure seem like a nice way to kick a vexatious can down the road.

This is the new political environment in which the legal arguments about marriage equality will succeed or fail. But that might not be enough to put gay marriage supporters over the top. Supreme Court justices breathe the same cultural air that the rest of us do, but they don’t have the luxury that politicians have to just say—hey, guess what, I’ve changed my mind on that one. The substantive legal arguments have to be both persuasive and consistent with other applications of the same body of doctrine. Even if a judge wants to see a certain result, the opinion “has to write”—the analytic structure has to support that result.

The substantive questions in the DOMA case (which also has a jurisdiction/standing question, though it is probably less likely to prove decisive than the one in Perry) all arise from the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In previous civil rights cases, the Court has developed a set of increasingly stringent levels for reviewing legislative classifications, with racial classifications receiving the highest level, or strict scrutiny; and gender classifications requiring heightened scrutiny, which is somewhat less rigorous. The baseline and point of comparison for both is called rational basis review, a lenient standard under which courts defer to legislative judgment if the distinction drawn has a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest.

So far, the Court has not explicitly applied either heightened or strict scrutiny to sexual orientation discrimination, but it did nonetheless strike down an anti-gay state law by applying what seemed to be a heightened version of rational basis review. As a result of the Supreme Court not being more transparent in its approach in gay cases, the lower federal courts are all over the board in terms of whether they apply heightened scrutiny, rational basis review with bite, or deferential rational basis review.

The selection of the standard is critically important because it usually determines the outcome as to whether a law is ruled unconstitutional. For example, the Justice Department argues in its brief that DOMA is unconstitutional if heightened scrutiny is applied, but valid if rational basis review is used, unless the Court uses heightened rational basis, in which case DOMA is unconstitutional after all. (Are you still with me?) The most important outcome of the DOMA case for the future of gay rights law is that the Court is likely to declare itself on which standard should be applied to any law that discriminates based on sexual orientation.

It is also true in Perry, the Prop 8 case, that the Court could determine the law’s constitutionality by using an Equal Protection analysis. However, in that case there is another doctrinal option. Under the Due Process Clause (i.e., no state can deprive an individual of liberty without due process of law), the Court has held repeatedly that the right to marry is a fundamental right. When a law deprives persons of a fundamental liberty right, the denial must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest.

Until just a few years ago, the majority of courts deciding gay marriage cases ruled that although there was a right to marry, there was not a right to same-sex marriage. Those two examples, judge after judge said, were just different, essentially and tautologically so. But U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who conducted the trial in the Prop 8 case, ruled that one basis for the law’s unconstitutionality is its violation of the due process liberty right to marry.

The Olson-Boies brief in the Supreme Court opens with this liberty claim; the equal protection argument comes second. Usually litigators begin a brief with what they believe is their strongest argument, suggesting that Olson may push the Court for a victory based on recognition that the marriage-childbearing link being pressed by Prop 8’s defenders doesn’t justify denial of a right as important as marriage. Indeed, the first sentence in the brief quotes from a 1978 Supreme Court decision stating that marriage is “the most important relation in life,” a quotation repeated twice more in the first four pages of the brief.

If Perry is decided on liberty grounds, its scope will be limited to marriage rather than applying to all sexual orientation classifications. But for many people, that would be like saying that a truce applies only to ending a war, rather than preventing all future battles. If gay couples can’t be excluded from marriage, what forms of government discrimination could possibly be constitutional?

The next stage in this saga is that the Court will hear oral arguments in Perry on March 26 and in Windsor v. United States, the DOMA case, on March 27, in what will be a feast for constitutional law buffs. Based on the questions asked by the justices, the betting is certain to be fast and furious on how the cases will come out. That enterprise, however, is notoriously prone to mistakes, given how often the questions reflect a Justice playing devil’s advocate rather than tipping her hand.

Because these cases will be among the last argued during the current term, they will likely be among the last in which the opinions are issued. There is no deadline for when the Court must decide cases, but it will announce all of the term’s opinions before leaving for the summer. For gay marriage, that almost certainly portends nuptials—or not—in June.

Huffington Post Gay Voices – Puerto Rico’s Gay Rights Battle Slowly Heats Up

Puerto Rico’s Gay Rights Battle Slowly Heats UpLOVE is LOVE Orange

By DANICA COTO 03/02/13 01:37 PM ET EST109

 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The advance of gay rights across the United States is spreading into Puerto Rico, making the island a relatively gay-friendly outpost in a Caribbean region where sodomy laws and harassment of gays are still common.

The governing Popular Democratic Party is pushing a bill through the legislature that would outlaw discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, a step taken by about half of U.S. states. Another bill would extend a domestic violence law to gay couples.

Soon after taking office in January, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an order extending health insurance coverage to the live-in partners of workers in his executive branch of government, regardless of gender.

And a popular former conservative governor, Pedro Rossello, surprised supporters and foes when he stated last month that he unequivocally supports gay marriage.

“We’re in a period where it’s important to talk about human rights,” said Rossello, who 14 years ago signed a law as governor to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages held abroad.

“This is extraordinary,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, a Puerto Rican gay activist. “We’ve reached a point of no return in Puerto Rico … Equality is inevitable.”

“The issues that we’re discussing publicly now would have been unthinkable a couple decades ago,” said Osvaldo Burgos, spokesman for the Broad Committee for the Search for Equality, which represents more than a dozen local human rights organizations.

Gay rights activists also say they are encouraged that the island’s Justice Department is prosecuting its first hate crime case for the killing of a hairstylist who was set on fire.

The momentum has not all been one way, however. The island’s Supreme Court last week narrowly upheld a law that bars same-sex couples from adopting children. Despite a string of legalizations in the U.S. over the past decade, adoptions by same-sex couples remain banned in many U.S. states as well.

And many Puerto Ricans remain uncomfortable with the changes. Church groups in February rallied an estimated 200,000 people against a move to include gay couples under domestic violence laws.

The spokesman for that march, Cesar Vazquez, said the state should not meddle with marriage and the family, and a prominent Puerto Rican pastor, Wanda Rolon, said children should not be taught at a young age that different types of families can exist, a proposal that Garcia’s administration is considering.

“That is very dangerous,” she said. “It’s going to raise some doubts that can bring about confusion.”

“What we need to protect in these times is the strengthening of marriage, the strengthening of families,” Rolon said. “We will be a healthier society.”

Resistance to rights for gays was even stronger in the 1970s, when gay activists protested the island’s sodomy law, only to see legislators increase the penalty to 10 years in prison from three.

Many gays and lesbians lived in fear. A serial killer in the 1980s, nicknamed “The Angel of Bachelors,” was linked to the killings of 27 gay men.

Public opinion remained largely unchanged until the early 2000s, when legislators passed a hate crime law and abolished the sodomy law. Another watershed moment occurred in November 2009, when police found the decapitated and partially burned body of 19-year-old college student Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, known for his work with organizations advocating HIV prevention and gay rights.

Soon after, popular Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin announced he was gay, saying he couldn’t remain silent amid such hate, and legislators began considering gay rights bills. Last year, Puerto Rican featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz apparently became the first professional boxer to come out as openly homosexual while still competing.

“Puerto Rico at last recognized that homophobia was a social evil that had to be fought,” said Serrano, spokesman for the U.S.-based National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “After that, things began to change quickly.”

Many other islands in the Caribbean remain deeply hostile to homosexuality.

Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and Grenada still uphold sodomy laws, and many gay people live in fear of exposure and violence. Those fears are not unjustified: Masked gunmen broke into a vacation cottage in St. Lucia in March 2011 and beat three gay U.S. tourists. Two of five suspects were arrested. A year earlier in Jamaica, police found the body of a 26-year-old gay rights activist who had been stabbed to death.

Last year, authorities in Dominica hauled a gay couple off a cruise ship and charged them with indecent exposure. Angry protesters have met gay cruise ships in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, a large gay cruise arrived in Puerto Rico recently and caused not even a ripple in the media.

“(Puerto Rico) has long had a reputation for being one of the friendliest places in the Caribbean,” said LoAnn Halden, spokeswoman of the Florida-based International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.

The court ruling on gay marriage already has caused some backlash in favor of further gay rights.

“What they did was barbaric,” said Eduardo Bhatia, president of the island’s Senate and member of the governor’s party, saying that children of gay couples should have equal rights.

Carmen Milagros Velez, a medical sciences professor at the University of Puerto Rico and the mother of the 12-year-old girl at the center of the adoption case, said the Supreme Court should reconsider its decision.

“We are a family like any other, with the same challenges, probably even more challenges because we have fewer rights,” she said.

New York Times – U.S. Asks Justices to Reject California’s Ban on Gay Marriage

U.S. Asks Justices to Reject California’s Ban on Gay Marriage
By JOHN SCHWARTZ and ADAM LIPTAK
Published: February 28, 2013 202 CommentsEngaygementgolddiamondRing Ad

The Obama administration threw its support behind a broad claim for marriage equality on Thursday, and urged the Supreme Court to rule that voters in California were not entitled to ban same-sex marriage there.
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In a forceful argument, the administration claimed that denying gay couples the right to marry violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause. It said that Proposition 8, the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, should be subjected to “heightened scrutiny” — a tough test for any law — and stated flatly that “Proposition 8 fails heightened scrutiny.”

That argument is similar to the one made in the administration’s brief in a second case before the Supreme Court concerning the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which the administration has also asked the court to declare unconstitutional.

The latest brief, filed late Thursday, does not, however, ask the court to declare such bans unconstitutional nationwide; instead, it focused on Proposition 8, which was approved by voters in 2008 and is before the court in this case. That law was passed by a voter initiative just months after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could marry. The brief notes that opponents of same-sex marriage in the Californ

ia case have argued that the state offers, through the equivalent of domestic partnerships, a marital state in all but the name.

The government also points out that seven other states — Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island — have a similar all-but-marriage frameworks, and says that “the designation of marriage, however, confers a special validation of the relationship between two individuals and conveys a message to society that domestic partnerships or civil unions cannot match.”

While the brief does not call explicitly for the court to strike down the laws in the seven other states, the implication of its argument is clear. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. issued a statement that tied the government’s argument into the fundamental struggle against discrimination and for civil rights, saying that the brief “seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law.” He said that the court’s decisions concerning the two same-sex marriage cases “are not just important to the tens of thousands of Americans who are being denied equal benefits and rights under our laws, but to our nation as a whole.”

The government’s brief concludes with a ringing denunciation of the California ban on same-sex marriage, which it said is based in “impermissible prejudice.”

It then cited a concurrence in a 2001 Supreme Court case that said prejudice might not rise “from malice or hostile animus,” and might well be the result of “insensitivity caused by simple want of careful, rational reflection or from some instinctive mechanism to guard against people who appear to be different in some respects from ourselves.”

No matter, the brief said. “Prejudice may not, however, be the basis for differential treatment under the law.”

The author of that concurrence is Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is expected to be a crucial voice within the court in both of the current cases.

Andrew P. Pugno, the general counsel for supporters of Proposition 8, called the administration’s brief very disappointing. “By arguing that Proposition 8 is rooted only in irrational prejudice, the president has impugned the motives of millions of Californians, turned his back on society’s longstanding interest in both mothers and fathers raising the next generation, and disregarded the rights of each state to decide for itself whether to redefine marriage,” he said.

The federal government is not a party to the California case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 12-144, and was not required to take a position in it. But the lawyers who filed the challenge to Proposition 8, Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, along with gay rights groups, lobbied for the brief, saying the administration could not stay silent on the issue.

The broad outlines of the administration’s position in the California case are similar to those it filed in a brief last week in a same-sex marriage case in which it is a party, United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307. But that case presents only the narrower question of the constitutionality of part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for

 

the purposes of more than 1,000 federal laws and regulations.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Defense of Marriage Act case will at most decide whether the federal government can discriminate against same-sex couples even if they married in states that allow such unions. Nine states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.The case from California presents the broader question of whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in the states that do not allow it, which is why the brief is significant. It is uncertain, however, that the Supreme Court will end up deciding that broad question. The court may well avoid the issue on technical grounds or rule in a way that applies only to California.

Until not long ago, the administration was thought likely to stay out of the California case, partly as a matter of historical practice and partly to be true to President Obama’s public position on same-sex marriage. The federal government took no position in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia, the case in which the Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage, or in 2003 in the last major gay rights case, Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down state laws making gay sex a crime.

Moreover, when Mr. Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, he said the matter was for the states to decide.

On the other hand, Mr. Obama has long opposed Proposition 8.

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I am not in favor of gay marriage,” Mr. Obama told MTV News in 2008. “But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that’s not what America’s about. Usually, our constitutions expand liberties, they don’t contract them.”

But Mr. Obama has since embraced a more sweeping view of marriage equality. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” he said in his Inaugural Address, “for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”

Supporters of marriage rights for same-sex couples applauded the brief. Chad Griffin, who founded the organization that filed the legal challenge to Proposition 8 and now heads the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group in Washington, called it “another historic step forward consistent with the great civil rights battles of our nation’s history.” He said President Obama had “turned the inspirational words of his second Inaugural Address into concrete action.”

Both briefs argue that courts should subject laws making distinctions between straight and gay people to “heightened scrutiny,” requiring a showing that such laws are “substantially related to an important government objective.”

The administration argues that the factors, including a history of discrimination, that led courts to require heightened scrutiny for laws on gender and illegitimacy should also require it for those addressing sexual orientation.

The California case is scheduled to be argued March 26 and the one concerning the federal law March 27. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. will probably present the federal government’s position in both cases, and he is likely to be questioned closely about changes and possible inconsistencies in the administration’s position.

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.