On Wednesday, over 80 members of congress called on the Department of Homeland Security to offer some clarity to same-sex, binational couples who are in immigration limbo because of the Defense of Marriage Act. Such couples would be considered eligible for green cards if the federal government recognized their marriages. Instead, they live in fear that they could be forced to leave the country or live separately. And while the government has promised prosecutorial discretion for low-priority cases, DHS never clarified whether being in a relationship would help a case be considered low-priority.
DHS today responded to the Members’ calls for clarity with an assurance that “ties to the United States as demonstrated by his or her same-sex marriage” are be “low priority.” It seems to indicate — though not directly — that being in an LGBT relationship will be a positive contributing factor in making cases low priority:
“[W]hen exercising prosecutorial discretion in enforcement matters, DHS looks at the totality of the circumstances presented in individual cases, including whether an individual has close family ties to the United States as demonstrated by his or her same-sex marriage or other longstanding relationship to a United States citizen,” Peter Boogaard told BuzzFeed in response to a question posed by a reporter on Monday[...]
Boogaard told BuzzFeed that the department would be continuing to enforce DOMA — which prevents green cards from being issued to foreign same-sex partners of Americans — “unless and until Congress repeals it, or there a final judicial determination that it is unconstitutional.” The Obama administration has noted that continued enforcement since President Obama and the Department of Justice announced in February 2011 they would no longer be defending DOMA in court challenges.
There is reason to be cautious, though. A year ago, when DHS announced prosecutorial discretion, couples were hopeful that they would be considered low priority. But when pressed after just a few months for some concrete commitment on how it would affect same-sex couples, DHS failed to confirm to members of congress that those relationships would help individuals get relief.
Same-Sex Family Invites Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy To Dinner |
Marci Alt lives in Atlanta with Marlysa, her wife of 8 years, and their two children. Now, they’re inviting Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, who has said that families like theirs are “inviting God’s judgment” upon society, to come to their home for dinner. Marci has partnered with GLAAD to launch a petition urging Cathy to accept the invitation. If he is going to use his position to broadly condemn same-sex couples and give money to groups trying to prevent them from accessing the securities of marriage for their families, the least he could do is meet one of them.
Robert Gagnon, a founding member of the Restored Hope Network.
When Exodus International’s President Alan Chambers said recently that there’s no “cure” for homosexuality, one group of ex-gay therapists split off and formed their own splinter group, the Restored Hope Network, where they could continue to push the most extreme views on reparative therapy. According to Ex-Gay Watch, the Restored Hope Network has released its official doctrinal statement, providing a disturbing look at how Bible verses continue to be used to justify oppressing gays and lesbians. Here are some excerpts:
1. Sexual purity is a life-and-death matter. Sexual holiness for Christians matters to such an extent that a sexually immoral life can get even self-professed Christians excluded from the kingdom of God.
2. Jesus understood the male-female prerequisite for sexual relations established by God in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 to be foundational for sexual ethics… Genesis 1:27 indicates that changing a male-female requirement distorts the image of God.
3. Consistent with Jesus’ view of a male-female requirement for sexual relations is Scripture’s depiction of homosexual practice as a severe violation of God’s standards for sexual purity. Paul’s indictment of homosexual practice in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 treats it as an example of humans suppressing the truth about themselves visible in the material structures of nature and a violation of Gen 1:27 and 2:24 that can lead to exclusion from God’s kingdom.
4. Sexual immorality is by no means limited to homosexual practice but has multiple manifestations in the heterosexual sphere that distort God’s purposes for sexual unions… Any expression of human sexuality outside the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman, as well as any expression within marriage that is not self-giving, is a perversion of God’s will for sexual holiness.
7. Jesus Christ provides hope for transformation to broken sexual sinners… For some, this transformation may take shape as a significant reduction of unwanted sexual desires. For others, it may mean the grace to live in obedience in spite of ongoing urges to do what God forbids. Either way, Paul gives believers assurance that those who “walk in the Spirit will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
Essentially, these “therapists” believe that accepting one’s gay identity is an automatic ticket to Hell. (Arguably, point number four also raises the stakes for heterosexual couples who might engage in oral sex, anal sex, or any sexual practice that doesn’t lead to procreation.) The only choice for people with same-sex attractions is to undergo — and pay for — harmful, ineffective repression ministries or deprive themselves of love by living a life of celibacy. Nothing about what this group preaches has any remote connection to psychological research or promoting mental health. The Restored Hope Network is seeking to completely deny the very xistence of gay people, what many have argued constitutes a form of genocide.
These Restored Hope Network ”therapists” were part of the Exodus International umbrella until the last few months. That means that this is the kind of rhetoric Chick-fil-A has supported with its profits with its annual giving to Exodus.
POLL: Overwhelming Support For Equality In Connecticut |
In 2008, Connecticut’s Supreme Court made the Granite State the second in the country to offer equal marriage to all citizens. In 2012, voters overwhelmingly approve of that decision, according to a recent poll from Public Policy Polling. Connecticut citizens endorse the equality law by an enormous 55-33 margin, which balloons to 68-18 for those under 30. Further, 83 percent of Republicans in the state support either equality or civil unions, and of the 33 percent of residents that oppose the former, 69 percent are willing to admit that marriage equality has not hurt them personally.
Chaz The Intolerant Chick-fil-A Chicken Returns! |
Last night, Conan O’Brien hosted another visit from Chaz, the Intolerant Chick-fil-A Chicken, a new mascot that tries to convince gays and lesbians to give up homosexuality for Chick-fil-A food. After two earlier appearances this week, Chaz let Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day go to his head, calling civil unions “disgusting” and attempting to cite Bible verses. Watch the hilarious results:
Greg Louganis — five-time Olympic medalist and the only male in history to sweep both the springboard and platform diving events in consecutive Olympic Games — sat down with Piers Morgan last night on CNN and discussed living with HIV for over 20 years and the sheer terror of his 1988 diagnosis:
LOUGANIS: Back in 1988 when I was diagnosed with HIV, we thought of HIV as a death sentence. My doctor who was also my cousin, he was treating me and he said “the best thing you can do is continue training.” And so it was much more positive to focus on the diving, so that’s what I did. It was really a blessing. But honestly I didn’t think I’d see 30.
Louganis, widely regarded as the best diver of all time, won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and again at the 1988 Seoul games, where he infamously suffered a concussion during a preliminary round dive. Six months before the ’88 games, Louganis was diagnosed with HIV, but decided to keep it a secret. In the mid 90s, Louganis announced to the world that he was gay and HIV positive, losing most of his corporate sponsorship as a result.
Louganis also reflected on the nuance of having prominent HIV positive figures, such as himself and Magic Johnson, live seemingly normal and healthy lives in the public eye:
LOUGANIS: Well it’s a double-edged sword, you know, because now young kids are seeing us and they’re saying well “they’re alive, thriving” and all that. But I wouldn’t wish my drug regiment on anyone. I mean the things I’ve been through are pretty devastating.
Our guest blogger is Andrew Cray, health policy consultant for LGBT Progress.
Yesterday, several representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, including Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, marked a “brand new day for women’s health.” August 1st marks the date when a women’s health regulation implementing Obamacare will guarantee coverage for preventive health services without out-of-pocket-costs – including contraception coverage – for 47 million women in the United States. These rules require insurers to offer coverage for these services at no additional cost at the next plan renewal date falling on or after August 1, 2012. This landmark policy not only puts women and their health care providers – rather than insurance companies – in control of their own health, but it also signifies a major new focus on eliminating the health disparities that affect women, including lesbian and bisexual women.
Annual well-woman visits: Lesbian and bisexual women are at increased risk for several serious health conditions, including breast and other cancers. Other studies show that lesbian women undergo routine pap testing less often than advised by national guidelines, and bisexual women have the highest rate of never having a pap test. These visits will help women access preventive services that are appropriate for their health needs.
DNA testing for the human papilloma virus (HPV)for women over 30: Compared to heterosexual women, lesbian and bisexual women may be at increased risk for HPV due to risk factors associated with poorer overall health and a lack of access to appropriate preventive services. Early screening, detection, and treatment have been shown to help reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer.
Screening and counseling for domestic and interpersonal violence: Studies have shown that, compared to heterosexual adults, lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to report experiencing intimate partner violence or physical abuse from other family members. Screening and counseling to identify women at risk for such violence will save lives.
Before the new rules went into effect, many plans didn’t even cover women’s basic health care needs, putting these services out of financial reach for many. Like other women, lesbian and bisexual women have paid the price for this discrimination with poorer health. Overall, 75 percent of lesbian women have delayed accessing health care, primarily because of inadequate health insurance and high out-of-pocket costs. Today’s milestone underscores that all women deserve quality, affordable coverage for the health care they need – no matter how old they are, how much they earn, or what their sexual orientation may be.
POLL: Maryland Voters Poised To Uphold Marriage Equality |
A new poll from Hart Research Associations finds that 54 percent of Maryland voters are prepared to uphold the recently passed marriage equality law, while just 40 percent oppose it. Support among African Americans was split with 44 percent in support and 45 percent opposed, unlike a Public Policy Polling poll conducted in May that showed broader support. The full results of the poll will be released later today.
Chick-fil-A was officially quiet yesterday, not tweeting anything, and saying only that “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was not created by Chick-fil-A.” Given it’s not a publicly traded company, there will not be any public information about yesterday’s likely record-high sales. But according to Pastor Rick Warren, who is well known for his opposition to LGBT equality, Dan Cathy called to say it was a “world record day.”
It’s important to recognize that unlike other fast food chains, Chick-fil-A franchises are not independently owned, limiting the extent that local operators can speak out. That didn’t stop Lauren Silich, who runs Chicago’s only Chick-fil-A, from speaking out about her support for LGBT equality, though she would not specifically address the question of same-sex marriage.
Gay and lesbian employees of Chick-fil-A had perhaps the most disheartening reaction to the day. An Alabama gay staffer named Andrew described the day as “hater appreciation day,” calling it “very, very depressing.” A gay employee at the company’s headquarters in Atlanta heard a customer say, “I’m so glad you don’t support the queers, I can eat in peace.” Another in Colorado had customers telling him, “I support your company, because your company hates the gays.” Many report experiencing homophobia not just from customers, but from fellow employees as well.
The Media Cries Fowl
Unfortunately, much of the media coverage yesterday was simply an open display of anti-gay views without much to rebut them. Still, there were a few notable highlights. For example, Fox News’ Shep Smith, who supports marriage equality, made a quick jab at Huckabee, pointing out that it was “National Badminton Day,” so “forget National Day of Intolerance, let’s just stay with Badminton.”
Journalist Mark Krzos of The News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida, wrote on Facebook that covering Chick-fil-A yesterday was incredibly disheartening:
I have never felt so alien in my own country as I did today while covering the restaurant’s supporters. The level of hatred, unfounded fear and misinformed people was astoundingly sad. I can’t even print some of the things people said.
Food writer Josh Ozersky wrote in Time Magazine that he has changed his mind on Chick-fil-A, walking back his previous willingness to turn a blind eye: “I respect Chick-fil-A’s owners for taking a love-it-or-leave-it stance in regard to their religion; and, like a lot of people, I am choosing to leave it.”
A Sweet Alternative
A number of restaurants across the country offered alternatives to Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day:
The Sweet Avenue Bake Shop in Rutherford, New Jersey offered “Rainbow Pride” cupcakes with proceeds supporting Garden State Equality.
Lake Worth, Florida held a “Celebrate Community & Diversity Day,” which included a Pajama Party to support diversity and LGBT businesses.
The Chicago-based Hearty restaurant held “Chick-fil-Gay Appreciation Day,” donating 100 percent of sales from its fried chicken breast sandwiches to Equality Illinois.
Chef Art Smith, who was once Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, held a “Flick-the-hate” Chicken Fry at his personal residence in Chicago, asking guests to donate $100 or more each to support Equality Illinois.
Numbers are still being tallied, but LGBT equality groups raised tens of thousands of dollars yesterday thanks to a Facebook event encouraging people to donate the cost of a chicken dinner for marriage equality.
Third Rail Media has a round-up of reactions from customers and protesters at the Hollywood, California Chick-fil-A location yesterday:
In 2010, anti-gay groups spent nearly $800,000 to remove three state supreme court justices who joined the court’s unanimous decision holding that marriage equality is required by the Iowa constitution. Yesterday, Iowa Republican Party chair A.J. Spiker released a statement calling for a fourth justice, Justice David Wiggins, to be removed in November, effectively throwing the GOP’s support behind an effort to retaliate against judges who believe that constitutional guarantees of equality should actually be enforced. According to Spiker’s statement:
In 2010 Iowa voters chose to dismiss three activist judges who allowed their own politics to influence their obligation to uphold the Iowa Constitution. These three were among a handful of judges who chose to disregard years of legal precedent on the status of marriage and how it was to be defined.
Instead of allowing the people of Iowa to decide this issue at the polls, these judges instead chose to impose their will upon the state and re-write history without weighing the merits of our laws and values. Regardless of political pressure or the state of cultural affairs at the moment, it is the people of Iowa through our elections that must be permitted to decide this important issue.
Just as Iowans successfully showed in 2010, it is again time to put a check on this power and reign in an activist judge from his position of misused authority.
Spiker, of course, slammed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, despite nearly 200 years of precedent establishing that health reform is constitutional. So when he claims to oppose “activist judges,” what he really means is that all judges should be required to do what he wants them to do.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT’s daily round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here’s what we’re reading this morning, but please let us know what stories you’re following as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
Note: There is a ton yet to be said about Chick-fil-A. It is not in this morning briefing.
- House Republicans have vowed to keep spending taxpayer money to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.
- A judge in Hennepin County, Minnesota ruled yesterday that same-sex partners are not prohibited from inheriting each other’s assets under the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.