Commentary on what today’s SCOTUS rulings mean to me

Same sex marriageI must admit, I never thought marriage was in the cards for me. Aside from the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in my state, I chalked it up to consistently making poor choices in the relationship department. But the U.S. Supreme Court rulings today on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition 8 has made me rethink that. Not for myself, but for all of those who want not just the legal benefits of marriage, but the recognition as well.

I was at a party a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday. Laughter and fun prevailed all afternoon. In attendance were two other friends, a gay male couple, who were speaking about their upcoming civil union ceremony. A young lady in attendance didn’t have a full understanding of what it all meant, and asked the question.

“Imagine if you will that you and your boyfriend are married,” my friend began, “and God forbid he dies. There is no question of you inheriting his estate without any legal or taxable issues, right”

She nodded in agreement.

“Now, imaging the same scenario for the two of us. Suppose I die, and want to leave my entire estate to my partner. Even though we are joined in a civil union, my death and his inheritance becomes a huge taxable occurrence for him. Does that seem fair?”

The young lady looked at him with a new sense of understanding…and compassion.

“Not at all,” she replied.

I am paraphrasing the actual story a bit, but this is the gist of the content. Did I mention that the gay couple in question has been together for 34 years? I would say that in this instance, that is quite a significant part of the story.

Even though the Supreme Court stopped short of a sweeping ruling on gay marriage with Proposition 8, the death of DOMA is of huge significance. While understandable in its conception, DOMA is been lorded over the gay community like the sword of Damocles for years. Now, with its death, states can re-examine their own laws. I suspect that while today has been a great victory, to battle has just begun for the 35+ states that currently have a same-sex marriage ban on their books.

Later today, my friends will be holding their civil union ceremony in a downtown courthouse. While seemingly less significant to some yesterday, it means quite a bit more today. It means that the struggles and prejudice the have experienced through their 34 years together have not been for naught, and that their relationship takes another step forward to complete equality not just for themselves, but for all of us.

As for me, I do have someone who is becoming more and more significant in my life now. Will we get to the point of the “talk” about a civil union…or heaven forbid…marriage? It’s too soon to say…at least from where I sit. But should the topic come up sometime in the future, I may consider it a bit more seriously. I never thought it was in the cards for me. But he is changing my mind…and today’s Supreme Court rulings are helping to plead his case as well.

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Supreme Court begins hearing gay marriage issue today

Supreme Court building.The proceeding at the U.S. Supreme Court got underway this morning. The decisions regarding gay marriage will have a ripple effect that will be felt for some time, but does same-sex marriage really matter? Follow this link, and see real-time and time-delayed coverage of the proceedings. What are your thoughts on gay marriage? How will it impact your life or the lives of those you care about? Weigh in with your comments.

Public ceremony scheduled for Gov. Hickenlooper to sign Civil Unions bill

Pen makes signatureAt long last, civil unions are going to be signed into law. On Thursday, March 21 2013, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will sign the bill making civil unions legal in the state of Colorado. The 39-26 vote was a cause for rejoicing for state Democrats, and a source of contention for Republicans. The primary reason for the opposition’s stance centers on how civil unions and religion interact. Which raises the question; what ever happened to separation of church and state in politics?

Republicans protested the bill because it does not offer religious exemptions which they say will cause the issue to wind up in court. Still, Republicans who came out in favor of the bill say voting in favor was not just good politics, but good for people.

“What this bill is about is personal freedom and individual liberties,” said Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, one of two Republicans supporting Senate Bill 11. “This is a good conservative bill.”

The long fought battle is particularly sweet for two lawmakers; State Senator Pat Steadman and Speaker of the State House of Representatives Mark Ferrandino. The two have been on the front lines of the issue since the beginning, and both felt the sting of defeat at the end of session last year. In that vote, then House Speaker Frank McNulty mired the bill in bureaucratic red tape causing it to die before a complete vote could be held. But this time, it was Democrats who had the last word, inspiring Senator Steadman to take to the Twitter-sphere with a poem he wrote in honor of the momentous occasion.

“11 is a prime number. Eleven is a lovely word.  It’s binary; a pair of ones. It’s two like things, bound together, to make a whole of ones.”

So, when Governor Hickenlooper puts pen to paper this week, he will not only be changing the lives of countless men and women in this state. He will also be striking a blow for all those who fought so hard on the front lines for equality under the law for all Coloradans  Representative Ferrandino summed it up best when asked what the vote meant to the state;

“This bill is about three simple things,” Ferrandino said. “It’s about love, it’s about family, and it’s about equality under the law.”

Governor Hickenlooper is slated to sign the bill this Thursday, March 21st in a public ceremony to be held at the Historic Colorado Center. Scheduled for 3:00pm, we will keep you posted as to any updates in this auspicious event.

Colorado radio host takes aim at the Muppets; but ire is misplaced

 

Kermit & Miss Piggy won’t need to battle ill informed radio host Kevin Swanson after all

Last week The Jim Henson Company made the decision to sever their relationship with fast food restaurant turned moving target Chick-Fil-A. Now, an evangelical minister has blasted the company for making this choice, accusing the company and its employees of “taking the sodomy route.” Kevin Swanson, Director of the Colorado based “Generations of Vision,” and its radio program “Generations Radio,” made this statement during a recent broadcast of his online show. But Swanson didn’t stop at dissing the Muppets; he also took his listeners on a history lesson into how homosexuals were dealt with in the past.

“A Christian perspective ultimately brought the death penalty upon homosexuality between roughly 350 AD and roughly 1850 or so, for about 1,500 years that form of life had pretty much been eliminated except here and there, it was in the closet, but it was almost unheard of for over 1,000 years, until recently,” he proclaimed. “Of course, now you have a massive, massive increase in this kind of thing.”

Swanson and his co-host on his radio show, Dave Buehner, quickly redirected their attention back to the topic at hand; the demise of popular Muppets characters Kermit the Frog, and his lady-love Miss Piggy. During the course of their conversation Buehner suggests that “Kermit is not that interested in Miss Piggy — maybe he’s interested in another frog,” Swanson suggests, “Maybe (Chick-fil-A President) Dan Cathy should consider doing a frog filet for one of the sandwiches.”

Buehner interjected, “I think Miss Piggy on a bun – that’s a better bet, the winner!”

Confusion ensued after the duos attack on The Henson Company because the pair didn’t really do their homework. The rights to the Muppets characters were acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2004; the Kermit and Miss Piggy characters were never part of the deal. The toys that were included in the Chick-Fil-A kids’ meals were from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop toys – essentially a plastic tube with cut-out features for customizing your own puppet. Adding salt to the wound, the toys which were slated for the meals from mid-July until mid-August have since been recalled.

In statement released on the Henson Company’s Facebook page, the company offered a simple and concise explanation for their choice to sever ties with the Chick-Fil-A organization.

“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.”

Swanson previously has stated publicly that gay parents were the “most devastating thin in the history of mankind,” and that pedophilia was “part and parcel” with the “homosexual agenda.” According to his web site, Mr. Swanson is one of the country’s foremost experts of homeschooling, having been homeschooled himself. He also states that he was at one time “student body president of a large west coast university,” but doesn’t name the university, or any degree received.

With these credentials, and the impressive fact checking staff on hand at “Generations Radio, it’s no wonder that Mr. Swanson has achieved the heady heights he has. What do you think? Weigh in with your comments.

 

 

 

Colorado Governor Hickenlooper and wife announce split

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and his wife, Helen Thorpe

As reported by Denver publication Westword, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and his wife, journalist Helen Thorpe have announced their separation. In a statement issued by the Governor’s office, the couple claim the split is amicable.

“After years of marriage that have added tremendous love and depth to both of our lives, we have decided to separate. This decision is mutual and amicable. We continue to have the utmost respect for each other, and we remain close friends. We intend to continue functioning as a family that spends a great deal of time together. In fact, we will embark on our annual family vacation together this week, share meals often, and plan to spend holidays together. You can continue to expect to see both of us out in the community — sometimes together, sometimes solo. Please feel free to include both of us in social gatherings as we will not find it awkward.

Our chief concern right now is the well-being of our son, so we ask everyone to respect our privacy as we make this transition. While public office made this announcement necessary, it will be the only statement we make on this private matter. We want to thank our friends, family, and community for all of the support you have shown us as a couple and as individuals, and for the support we know you will provide as we move forward.”

The governor’s office took the statement a step further, adding the following to potentially squelch any further speculation as to the reasons for the marriage ending.

Both the Governor and Ms. Thorpe want the public to know that neither has had an affair, that they did seek extended counseling, and that this decision is unrelated to the difficult events Colorado has faced this summer. While the Governor will be moving into the Governor’s Mansion, he will also continue to spend time with his son at their private home.

More to follow on this story as it develops.

Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips breaks silence

Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips and his business marquee

The man behind the Lakewood Colorado bakery scandal has finally broken his silence. Jack Phillips, the owner of Lakewood’s Masterpiece Cakeshop, told Denver local CBS affiliate KCNC-TV that he has no problem with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) customers or staff members – but nonetheless does not support gay marriage.

“If it came to that point, we would close down the bakery before we would compromise our beliefs, so that may be what it comes to,” Phillips said. “We’ll see.”

As posted in our blog previously, Phillips’ choices to deny service to a same-sex couple and his subsequent statements have been called into question. The man himself seems to be a walking contradiction; claiming to harbor no ill will towards the gay community, but yet refusing a request for a wedding cake to mark the occasion because it is against his “beliefs.” Can you really have one without the other?

Phillips has faced a firestorm of media attention since the story broke about his refusal. It has even spawned the launch of a Facebook page for those choosing to boycott the bakery. And just this past weekend, the bakery was picketed by protesters for their stance on gays.

“What’s next? Will gays be denied the right to eat cake from this bakery,” one protester asked. “This kind of homophobia and bigotry must stop!”

“Today they are denying a same-sex couple service,” said another protester. “What’s next, denial because they are ethnic or a mixed race couple? There has to be some understanding, and we have to start somewhere.”

Phillips denied another couple the same request earlier this year, but seems to feel that his cakes are suitable for consumption by gays for other occasions.

“If gays come in and want to order birthday cakes or any cakes for any occasion, graduations, or whatever, I have no prejudice against that whatsoever. It’s just the wedding cake – not the people, not their lifestyle.”

Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, the couple at the center of this controversy, were “stunned and humiliated” by their exchange with Phillips. The couple, who plan to wed this fall in Massachusetts this fall, asked the bakery for a cake to cap off a planned reception in Denver later this year.

“It was the most awkward, surreal, very brief encounter,” Mullins, 28, told Denver Westword. “We got up to leave, and to be totally honest, I said, ‘F**k you and your homophobic cake shop.’ And I may or may not have flipped him off.”

From a P.R. perspective, the true test of Masterpiece Cakeshop’s longevity is yet to come. The boycott Facebook page has more than 500 supporters and is growing daily. And there is another protest planned for this weekend, with several local organizations pledging their support. Shop owner Phillips may have to enact the option for closure sooner than he had anticipated.

What are your thoughts on this continuing story? Offer your comments below…

Community forum for Denver Independent Monitor to be held on Tuesday, July 24th

The mission of the Office of the Independent Monitor is to provide fair and objective oversight of the Denver Police and Sheriff’s Departments. To insure that you have a voice in the selection of this important position, we invite you to attend a community forum for Denver residents. You will have the opportunity to meet and speak with the 3 finalists in the running for the position.