Tag Archives: proposition 8

Ruth Bader Ginsburg says Supreme Court won’t ‘duck’ same-sex marriage

The Supreme Court won’t duck the issue of same-sex marriage the next time a case comes to the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says.

The 81-year-old Ginsburg said in an interview with The Associated Press that she expects a same-sex marriage case to be heard and decided by June 2016, and possibly a year earlier.

Attitudes have changed swiftly in favor of same-sex marriage, which is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, Ginsburg said in her wood-paneled office on the court’s main floor.

She predicted that the justices would not delay ruling as they did on interracial marriage bans, which were not formally struck down until 1967.

“I think the court will not do what they did in the old days when they continually ducked the issue of miscegenation,” Ginsburg said. “If a case is properly before the court, they will take it.”

The comment marked something of a change for Ginsburg, who previously had been seen as wary about the court getting too far ahead of the country in ruling on major social issues.

The justices decided two same-sex marriage cases in June 2013. Ginsburg was in the majority to strike down part of the anti-gay marriage Defense of Marriage Act. She also was part of a court majority that declined to rule on the merits of California’s Proposition 8 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The effect of the decision was to allow same-sex unions to resume in California, but the high court said nothing about the right to marry.

Appeals courts in Denver and Richmond, Virginia, have upheld lower court rulings striking down state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Any of those cases could make their way to the Supreme Court in the coming months.

Ginsburg also addressed two cases decided by the court in June that affect the rights of women. In one, she defended the court’s ruling that struck down the 35-foot, protest-free zone on sidewalks outside Massachusetts abortions clinics.

“It was not a compromise decision but a good decision to say yes, you can regulate, but it is speech so you have to be careful not to go too far,” Ginsburg said. While all the justices said the 35-foot buffer zone violated the Constitution, Ginsburg joined Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s other liberal justices to strike down the buffer zone on narrower grounds than the other, more conservative justices wanted.

In the other case, Ginsburg and her liberal colleagues dissented from a decision that allows for-profit corporations, such as the Hobby Lobby chain of crafts stores, to assert religious objections to paying for contraceptives for women, as required under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Joining Ginsburg in dissent were the other two women on the court, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, and Justice Stephen Breyer.

“I have no doubt that if the court had been composed of nine women the result would have been different in Hobby Lobby,” Ginsburg said.

She said, though, that she hasn’t lost hope for the five men on the court who formed the majority in favor of Hobby Lobby. “As long as one lives, one can learn,” she said.

Ginsburg has served on the court since 1993. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton. She said feels she can still do the job well and rebuffed suggestions that she should retire now so President Barack Obama can appoint a like-minded successor.

“Right now, I don’t see any sign that I’m less able to do the job,” she said.

She directed a feisty response to law professors Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School and Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine, who have called on her to step down now.

“So who do you think could be nominated now that would get through the Senate that you would rather see on the court than me?” she said.

Mozilla CEO a victim of evolution

After less than a month on the job, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned when an outcry erupted over his 2008 contribution of $1,000 to California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 campaign. The incident was a touchstone moment that divided equality supporters and prompted homophobes to claim that straight, white traditional marriage advocates are “the real bullying victims.”

Mozilla, like most of California’s high-tech companies, has stood at the forefront of the equality movement. Eich, who developed JavaScript, has fit into the industry — apparently without incident — since 1985. He seems to have successfully kept any animus he feels toward LGBT people out of the workplace.

Three of Mozilla Foundation’s five directors resigned and employees of the company threatened to quit after Eich’s anti-equality action was revealed. There were scattered calls for a boycott.  

LGBT leaders gave Eich the chance to recant the contribution he made six years ago amid a different social climate. In 2008, even President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had yet to “evolve” on the issue.

But rather than denounce his prior actions, Eich chose to step down, saying that his donation had become a distraction that rendered him ineffective to lead.

Gay blogger Andrew Sullivan and other high-profile LGBT people condemned their community for imposing a litmus test on Eich. They said, in effect, that it was an example of political correctness run amok — that the LGBT community had embraced the thought-policing tactics of its enemies.

For decades, LGBT advocates argued that people should be judged in the workplace solely for their effectiveness at their jobs — not for their personal lives. Calling on Eich to resign would seem the antithesis of that posture.

If only the issue were that simple. 

One point that Sullivan and others missed is that Eich resigned voluntarily. He was not fired for his opposition to allowing gays to marry. Rather, as he acknowledged, the situation at Mozilla had become uncomfortable for everyone involved and was damaging Mozilla’s reputation. It was that recognition, not the thought police, that prompted his departure.

Another overlooked point is that people routinely draw condemnation for prejudice. If Eich had made a contribution to the KKK, the majority of Americans would have boycotted the company. Sullivan and others seem to have more patience for people who oppose LGBT rights.

Just because the recognition of LGBT equality is new historically is no reason to give people who oppose it any more leeway than other kinds of bigots. In a diverse democratic society, condemning people for discrimination is not nearly as grievous as promoting discrimination. 

While we agree it would have been wrong to fire Eich for his beliefs, we also support his critics’ right to express their views. They should not be dismissed as an example of political correctness gone awry. Through the democratic process, Eich made a public donation to a cause that was less divisive at the time.

The cause is now more divisive, and the public increasingly rejects people who still embrace it. Eich is a victim of an evolving nation.

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Mozilla CEO resigns due to anti-gay controversy

Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich is stepping down as CEO and leaving the company following protests over his support of a gay marriage ban in California.

The nonprofit that makes the Firefox browser infuriated many employees and users last week by naming Eich head of the Mountain View, Calif.-based organization.

At issue was Eich’s $1,000 donation in 2008 to the campaign to pass California’s Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that outlawed same-sex marriages. The ban was overturned last year when the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a lower-court ruling striking down the ballot measure.

Eich’s contribution had drawn negative attention in the past but took on more weight when he was named CEO. Mozilla employees and users criticized the move on Twitter and elsewhere online. Earlier this week, dating website OKCupid replaced its usual homepage for users logging in with Firefox with a note suggesting they not use Mozilla’s software to access the site.

The departure raises questions about how far corporate leaders are allowed to go in expressing their political views.

“CEOs often use their station to push for certain viewpoints and get some muscle for those viewpoints,” said UCLA management professor Samuel Culbert. “But if you are going to play the game you have to think of both sides.”

Company leaders have to be conscious of what impact their own views may have on the success of their organization, Culbert argues. While some leaders, such as Starbucks Corp. head Howard Schultz, have been outspoken in their political positions, it is often in a vein that is line with the ethos of his company. Culbert said that taking a position that is divisive can both drive away customers and hurt employee morale.

The onus is also on the corporation and its board to assess whether anything that a candidate has done or said in the past will adversely affect the company’s reputation, said Microsoft Corp. Chairman John Thompson, who led a five-month search that culminated in Microsoft hiring Satya Nadella as its new CEO in February.

“When you run a public company or any visible organization, what you think and what you say is always going to affect the company,” said Thompson, “You have to be mindful of how things you do and say will affect your customers, your employees and your investors.”

Eich said in a statement Thursday that Mozilla’s mission is “bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader.”

His resignation represents an about-face from his confident and sometimes defiant remarks in an interview published earlier this week by the technology news service Cnet. Insisting that he was best choice to be CEO, Eich told Cnet that it would send the wrong message if he were to resign or apologize for his support of Prop. 8.

“I don’t think it’s good for my integrity or Mozilla’s integrity to be pressured into changing a position,” Eich said. “If Mozilla became more exclusive and required more litmus tests, I think that would be a mistake that would lead to a much smaller Mozilla, a much more fragmented Mozilla.”

At another point, Eich said that attacks on his beliefs represented a threat to Mozilla’s survival. “If Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness, where you can work on the mission no matter what your background or other beliefs, I think we’ll probably fail,” he said.

Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker apologized for the company’s actions in an open letter online Thursday, saying that Eich is stepping down for the company’s sake.

“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better,” Baker wrote.

She said that Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech and that “figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”

Mozilla is still discussing what is next for its leadership.

Dating site protests anti-gay contributor now running Mozilla

The appointment of a new CEO by the company that makes the Firefox Web browser has prompted board members to quit, a Twitter frenzy and a push back from a leading dating website because he supported California’s former gay marriage ban.

Mozilla, the nonprofit maker of the Firefox browser, infuriated many employees and users last week by hiring co-founder Brendan Eich to lead the Mountain View company. In 2008, Eich gave $1,000 to the campaign to pass California’s Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that outlawed same-sex marriages in California until the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a lower-court ruling striking it down.

The contribution was publicly reported and drew some negative attention two years ago, when Eich was Mozilla’s chief technology officer. But when he was promoted to CEO last week, his support of the ban took on more gravitas.

Three of the Mozilla Foundation’s six board members have quit, according to a Wall Street Journal blog, and thousands of employees and community members weighed in on Twitter over the weekend.

On Monday, New York-based dating service OkCupid.com replaced its usual home page for users logging in with Firefox.

“Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid,” the message says.

OkCupid President Christian Rudder said he and the firm’s three other co-founders decided to post the message after discussing Eich’s appointment over the weekend.

He said 12 percent of OkCupid’s approximately 3 billion monthly page views come through Firefox, while 8 percent of the site’s users are gay or lesbian.

“We don’t think this was the right thing for people to donate money to, and this is someone we do business with so we decided to take action,” Rudder said.

Mozilla, which is promoted with the slogan, “Doing good is part of our code,” responded Monday with an emailed statement saying the company supports equality for all, including marriage equality for gay couples.

“No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally,” said the statement. “OkCupid never reached out to us to let us know of their intentions, nor to confirm facts.”

Mozilla says about half a billion people around the world use Firefox, which has free, open software written in part by volunteers. Firefox has been losing market share to Google Inc.’s Chrome browser in recent years.

Couple calls for boycott of Mozilla after CEO’s donation to Prop 8 revealed

The new CEO of Mozilla, the software company that created the Web browser Firefox, is under fire from equality supporters over a $1,000 donation he made in 2008 to support California’s Proposition 8 campaign. Mozilla is the company that created Firefox, a Web browser.

CEO Brendan Eich has not denied the donation or recanted it, but he posted a blog today called “Inclusiveness at Mozilla” after two gay married technology developers called for a boycott against his company.

Eich wrote: “I am deeply honored and humbled by the CEO role. I’m also grateful for the messages of support. At the same time, I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla. I hope to lay those concerns to rest, first by making a set of commitments to you. More important, I want to lay them to rest by actions and results. A number of Mozillians, including LGBT individuals and allies, have stepped forward to offer guidance and assistance in this. I cannot thank you enough, and I ask for your ongoing help to make Mozilla a place of equality and welcome for all… I know some will be skeptical about this, and that words alone will not change anything. I can only ask for your support to have the time to ’show, not tell’; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain.”

Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker responded to the controversy in her own blog, describing her own support for equality as so strong that it’s “pretty radical.”

She wrote: “ I support equal rights for the LGBT community, I support equal rights for underrepresented groups, and I have some pretty radical views about the role of underrepresented groups in social institutions. I was surprised in 2012, when his donation in support of Proposition 8 came to light, to learn that Brendan and I aren’t in close alignment here, since I’ve never seen any indication of anything other than inclusiveness in our work together.”

Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state, has since been overturned by the  U.S. Supreme Court.

Mayor, vice mayor removed after flap over Pride proclamation

The mayor and vice mayor in the Central California town of Porterville, who were at center of a flap over an LGBT pride proclamation, have been removed from their positions by fellow council members.

The Porterville Recorder reports that some residents saw the Porterville City Council’s 3-2 decision to reorganize itself on earlier this month as retribution against Mayor Virginia Gurrola’s issuing of the proclamation and vice mayor Pete McCracken’s support of it.

Other residents expressed their “disgust” and “upset” with time being wasted on such issues as the proclamation and reorganizing the council.

A Porterville resident had requested the proclamation after President Barack Obama this year declared June LGBT Pride Month.

But council members who voted for the change of positions contend it had nothing to do with their dislike for the proclamation. They said they support rotating council officers.

The same council members rescinded the mayor’s LGBT pride proclamation in July. They then voted to replace the LGBT proclamation with a resolution calling June a month of community charity and goodwill to all. 

Three protesters who favored the proclamation were arrested at the city council meeting on suspicion of disorderly conduct following that decision.

Supporters have said the proclamation promoted tolerance and they deserved to feel comfortable in the city.  Opponents objected to the proclamation on religious grounds.

In 2008, the City Council approved a resolution in support of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California.

NOM leading charge to overturn transgender student rights law

The anti-gay group formed to oppose marriage equality across the country is now leading the campaign to overturn a California law that requires public schools to allow students to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities based on self-perception of gender instead of birth gender or transition status.

The National Organization for Marriage announced it was working with another conservative group, the Capitol Resource Institute, to repeal the law at the ballot box. The anti-gay marriage group provided early fundraising and organizing for the 2008 ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriages, known as Proposition 8. Much of the funding for that campaign came from Catholic and Mormon organizations.

Opponents of the transgender student rights law have until Nov. 8 to gather the signatures of 504,760 registered voters to place a referendum on the November 2014 ballot that would nullify the statute.

NOM is encouraging its members to help circulate petitions and to give money that could be used to hire professional signature-gatherers.

The political strategist who ran the anti-gay Proposition 8 campaign, Frank Schubert, has signed on to manage the referendum push. Schubert said “it’s a virtual certainty” the campaign will hire paid petition-circulators to supplement work already going on at churches statewide.

“We are actively talking with donors about helping to fund that,” said Schubert, who has also served as NOM’s national political director. “A referendum is a very hard thing to do. It’s definitely an uphill thing.”

After passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, Schubert led campaigns to block same-sex marriages in Maine and to pass a constitutional amendment similar to Proposition 8 in North Carolina. He then oversaw four unsuccessful efforts to keep same-sex marriage from being legalized in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

California last month became the first state to spell out the rights of transgender K-12 students in state law when Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB1266. Supporters said the law will help reduce bullying and discrimination against transgender students. Families of transgender students have been waging battles with school districts across the country over what restrooms and locker rooms their children can use. The disagreements have sometimes landed in court.

Equality California executive director John O’Connor, whose organization co-sponsored AB1266 and helped lead the campaign to defeat Proposition 8 in 2008, said civil rights groups were closely watching and would be ready to respond if the proposed referendum makes the ballot.

“Frank Schubert has built a political career on these anti-LGBT measures that divide people and perhaps years ago he had some success,” O’Connor said. “We have turned the corner. The public is solidly in favor of LGBT equality now.”

Schubert said qualifying the referendum for the ballot will be difficult, but he thinks it would pass easily if put before voters.

“This is not a law people support by a long-shot,” he said. “This is an attempt to hijack an issue that may be legitimate for a small number of people and use it to impose a statewide mandate in pursuit of a larger political agenda … to strip society of all gender norms so there is no difference between men and women.”

NFL star Brendon Ayanbadejo poses nude for NOH8 campaign

 NFL star and outspoken gay ally Brendon Ayanbadejo posed nude for the popular NOH8 campaign. In the photo, only a discretely placed football protects the former Superbowl champion’s family jewels from public view.

Photographer Adam Bouska originally started the NOH8 campaign as a protest to California’s Proposition 8, which has since been struck down. Hundreds of celebrities and thousands of others have since participated in the campaign to display their support for marriage equality.

The NOH8 campaign posted Ayanbadejo’s picture with the caption: “A real man supports equality.”

Ayanbadejo’s all-out support for same-sex marriage has proven controversial in the sports world but his activism has continued to grow. In addition to his other supportive activities, he currently serves as a special guest editor of The Washington Blade’s sports section. 

Court won’t block gay marriages in California

The California Supreme Court refused on July 15 to order the state to immediately stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

However, the court still plans to consider whether the governor and attorney general correctly instructed county clerks that a voter-approved ban on gay marriages had become legally invalid statewide.

Without comment, the court denied a request made late last week by backers of the ban for an emergency order that would have required the state to keep enforcing Proposition 8 while they pursue a last-ditch legal effort to preserve it.

“Although we would have preferred for the California Supreme Court to issue a stay so that the state’s marriage amendment would be respected sooner rather than later … we remain hopeful that the court will recognize that Proposition 8 remains the law of the land in California and that county clerks must continue to enforce it,” said Austin Nimocks, a lawyer for the coalition of religious conservative groups that qualified Proposition 8 for the November 2008 ballot.

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, who spearheaded the lawsuit that resulted in gay marriage returning to the nation’s most populous state after 4 1/2 years, cheered the state court’s decision allowing the weddings to continue without interruption.

“Our opponents have failed in a desperate attempt to deny happiness and protections to lesbian and gay couples and their children and no amount of legal wrangling is going to undo that joy,” Griffin said.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriages to resume in the nation’s most populous state on June 28 by dismissing the backers’ appeal of a lower court ruling that found the ban unconstitutional. The high court decided the backers lacked authority to defend Proposition 8 after the governor and attorney general refused to do so.

The California Supreme Court still plans to separately consider whether the lower court ruling that invalidated the ban and a companion mandate prohibiting the state from enforcing it applied statewide or only in Los Angeles and Alameda counties. The two couples who sued to strike down Proposition 8 live in those counties.

Lawyers for Proposition 8 sponsors also have argued that because the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule directly on Proposition 8’s constitutionality, state officials are bound by state law to abide by the measure.

The state high court has asked for additional written arguments on those issues by Aug. 1.

Anti-gay extremists want to halt gay weddings in California

Opponents of same-sex marriage demanded on July 12 that the California Supreme Court immediately halt the practice that recently resumed in the nation’s largest state after a nine-year legal battle.

The group that sponsored voter-approved Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages in 2008, launched a new, two-pronged legal attack in what one expert described as a last-ditch argument with little chance of succeeding.

In its petition, ProtectMarriage argued that state officials who began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples had incorrectly interpreted a June 24 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The high court ruled that ProtectMarriage had no “standing” to challenge a previous ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down Proposition 8.

ProtectMarriage argued in its petition that Proposition 8 remains California law because the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t rule directly on the constitutionality of same-sex marriages in what is widely called the “Perry” case.

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Perry has been vacated,” the petition stated, “hence there is no appellate decision holding that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

Therefore, the petition concluded, the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages is still in force.

The petition also argued that the original lawsuit filed in San Francisco named only the county clerks of Los Angeles and Alameda counties. It said the ruling doesn’t reach the 56 other county clerks, who must continue to abide by the marriage ban passed by Proposition 8.

The petition argues that county clerks are independent state officials and the state registrar – under orders from Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Attorney General Kamala Harris – had no authority to direct them on June 26 to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Late Friday Harris filed a brief urging the California Supreme Court to deny the request to stop counties from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“Today’s filing by the proponents of Proposition 8 is yet another attempt to deny same-sex couples their constitutionally protected civil rights. It is baseless and we will continue to fight against it,” Harris said.

“The Legislature has not imbued the state registrar with supervisory authority or control over county clerks issuing marriage licenses,” the ProtectMarriage petition stated.

Ted Olson, one of several high-profile attorneys who represented same-sex couples in the courts, called the petition “utterly baseless.”

Olson said any county clerk refusing to follow the state’s orders to issue same-sex marriage licenses faced contempt of court charges and federal civil rights lawsuits.

“Proponents’ latest effort to stop loving couples from marrying in California is a desperate and frivolous act,” Olson said.

University of California, Davis law professor Vikram Amar predicted the state Supreme Court would reject the petition and keep same-sex marriages intact.

Amar said the petition’s main arguments appear to fall only under the jurisdiction of federal judges. Since the U.S. Supreme Court has already banned ProtectMarriage and its allies from defending Proposition 8 in federal court, it appears they have almost no legal recourse, he said.

“My guess is that the California Supreme Court will not be eager to wade into this because so much of this turns on federal questions,” Amar said.

A ruling is not expected until at least Aug. 1, the last day the California Supreme Court said it would accept written arguments on the matter.

The state Supreme Court in 2008 ruled 4-3 that same-sex marriages were legal, which prompted marriage foes to place Proposition 8 on the ballot. Since then, two of the justices who voted for gay marriage have retired.