A coalition of clergy members is challenging North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage with an unusual approach: They’re filing a federal lawsuit that contends that the ban violates their First Amendment religious freedom rights.
The clergy members said in the lawsuit filed Monday that they would like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations but can’t because of the “unjust law.”
The lawsuit is one of dozens that have been filed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of the Defense of Marriage Act last year. Since then, several states have challenged the legality of their same-sex marriage bans. But this is the first to use the First Amendment protection of freedom of religion as the basis for the challenge.
“North Carolina’s marriage laws are a direct affront to freedom of religion,” said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister with the Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We feel that it is important that any person that comes into community life of a United Church of Christ congregation be afforded equal pastoral care and equal opportunity to religious services that clergy provide.”
But in North Carolina, clergy are often faced with a troubling decision — “whether to provide those services or break the law,” Guess said. “That’s something no clergy member should be faced with.”
Along with the United Church of Christ, which has more than 1 million parishioners across the country and over 50,000 in North Carolina, a dozen clergy members and same-sex couples were listed as plaintiffs. The defendants included North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and several county district attorneys as well as five registers of deeds. Continue reading “Marriage equality = religious freedom”
Not only does the gender wage gap have real staying power, but it’s alive and kicking in all 50 states.
As reported in Huffington Post, “according to a new report released earlier this week by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the gender pay gap — which had significantly narrowed since the 1970s — has slowly plateaued in recent years.
“Compiling data from the Census Bureau, the Department of Education and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, AAUW calculated the median salaries for full-time employment in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In the U.S., women are paid 23 percent less than men on average. Although down from a 2012 figure of 91 percent, Washington, D.C. maintains the smallest wage gap in the U.S., with women earning 90 percent of what their male counterparts do ($66,754 vs. $60,116). Also consistent with last year’s results, Wyoming came in last with women taking home a shocking 64 percent of men’s average earnings ($51,932 vs. $33,152).
“While it remains important to note that geography and local industry have a large influence on differing salaries, there are other major factors that come into play — namely education level, race/ethnicity and age. AAUW analyzed the pay gap by looking at full-time, year-round workers over the age of 15. Beyond comparing salaries of all men to salaries of all women, the report broke down wage imbalances between the sexes along three additional demographics: race/ethnicity, education level and age. Asian-American women had the largest gender wage gap while Hispanic or Latina women’s earnings were most comparable to their male counterparts. Continue reading “50 shades of gender inequity”
About 75% of young women believe the US needs to do more to bring about equality in the workplace, a new study finds, despite a narrowing pay gap and steady employment gains for women at higher levels of business and government, reports an article in The guardian today.
“Those women remain as pessimistic as their mothers and grandmothers regarding gender equality in the workplace, according to the report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.
“The study finds that women under 32 now make 93% of what young men earn, aided by women’s higher rates of college completion. But the analysis of census and labor data also shows the gender pay gap will widen for women by their mid-30s, if the experience of the past three decades is a guide.
“That widening gap is due in part to the many women who take time off or reduce their hours to start families. Other factors cited in the report are gender stereotyping, discrimination, weaker professional networks and women’s hesitancy to aggressively push for raises and promotions, which together may account for 20% to 40% of the pay gap.
“Even so, just 15% of young women say they have been discriminated against because of their gender. Continue reading “Millennial gender pessimism”
After two steps forward, we were unprepared for the abrupt slowdown on the road to gender equality. We can make sense of the current predicament, however — and gain a better sense of how to resume our forward motion — if we can grasp the forces that drove the change in the first place, state a piece in today’s New York Times
“It’s difficult to imagine (or remember) American women’s world in the early 1960s, described to chilling effect by Stephanie Coontz in “A Strange Stirring: ‘The Feminine Mystique’ and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.” Women responding to sex-segregated help-wanted ads (including in The New York Times until 1968) faced rampant — and completely legal — employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, age, motherhood, pregnancy and appearance. They faced obstacles obtaining loans or buying property without their husbands’ approval. Rape within marriage was not a crime, and domestic violence was just barely one. Divorce was relatively rare. Birth control was illegal in many places, and elective abortion was banned.
“Women organized against these injustices with increasing success in the 1970s, but one precondition for their gains was the postwar expansion of the market into new areas, especially education, health care, child care and other services. For women, that meant the monetization of fields of work that were traditionally their unpaid responsibility, spurring growth in jobs for which women were preferred and creating powerful incentives to enter the labor force. This in turn generated greater demand for services, from fast food to child care to couples therapy. In response to an upward spiral of employment opportunities, women pursued education in greater numbers, married later (if at all) and had fewer children.
“Rising demand in formerly male-dominated industries also drew women into the labor force. Consider the story of one woman whose working-class family did not expect her to pursue a career. With mediocre high school grades, she went to a community college. She decided to leave after a year to get a legal secretary certificate, which led to a law firm job, and finally a job as administrative assistant to a corporate executive, where she eventually earned about as much as her husband, an electrician. Continue reading “Why gender inequality persists”
Anyone following conservative media this past week has heard arguments against the need for the Equal Pay Act, signed into law by President John F Kennedy 50 years ago. A thoughtful
piece appeared on NPR.org today digging a bit deeper into these disputes, as well as both the immediate and less-than-obvious state of the very real gender gap in remuneration these days.
” Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in an effort to abolish wage discrimination based on gender. Half a century later, the Obama administration is pushing Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, designed to make wage differences more transparent. Some dispute the frequently cited figure that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. But even those who argue the gap is narrower agree it’s most prominent when a woman enters her childbearing years.
“In 2010, an analytics firm called Reach Advisors crunched Census Bureau numbers and found something surprising: The median salary of single, childless women under the age of 30 was 8 percent higher than their male counterparts. That’s largely because more women are going to college than men. What made that number noteworthy is that it’s the only group of women who have a pay advantage. In fact, different numbers from Reach Advisors show that that early advantage vaporizes later in women’s lives — especially if they have children. Continue reading “Considering the Equal Pay Act in 2013”
More than half a dozen states, from Washington to Massachusetts, have adopted rules to allow transgender students to compete on teams that correspond with their gender identities rather than the sex listed on their school records. Half a dozen more states are considering similar regulations, reports todays’s New York Times. “And a bill in the Legislature would make California the first to specifically guarantee by law that transgender students are allowed to play school sports.
“Transgender students deserve equal access to everything in public education, including sports,” said Tom Ammiano, the state assemblyman sponsoring the bill. “You can’t discriminate just because you’re uncomfortable with a young man transitioning to become a young woman.”
“The push to include transgender students in school sports reflects the rapidly growing visibility of transgender people in all walks of society — like Fallon Fox, the mixed-martial artist who was born a man but fights women, and Chaz Bono, the child of Sonny Bono and Cher, who has transitioned from female to male — as well as shifting ideas about how to define gender. Continue reading “Progress for transgender athletes”
“Gender justice at the top is not enough. Mainstream debates on gender must also grapple with how to address increased insecurity at the bottom end of the labor market — including the challenge faced by poorly protected, self-employed women,” states the report, “Great Expectations: Exploring the Promises of Gender Equality,” as it wrestles with the question of whether the triumphs of British feminism (such as they are) have been equally shared by women of all classes. As the New York Times comments:
“The report wonders why we persist in looking at a few outrider women at the top of the professional ladder instead of analyzing the fate of a more representative cross-section of women. It highlights how excessive focus on the few empowered women who have succeeded can have a disturbing “decoy” effect, suggesting that women have made it, while ignoring the fact that for the vast majority of women, huge inequalities remain. Continue reading “Debating gender justice”
Ronald Reagan’s son may just expressed his fervent opposition to same-sex marriagein an editorial, but his sister has a much different view. So, evidently, would his father.
Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis, 60, tells The New York Times that her father — who had a checkered history with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community during his presidency — would have supported marriage equality and “been puzzled” by the opposition to same-sex marriage…at least this is the conclusion drawn in today’s Huffington Post.
“Davis cited Reagan’s “distate for government intrusion into private lives,” as well as his Hollywood connections and close friendship with a lesbian couple that his children affectionately referred to as their aunts as reasons she believed her father would have been in favor of gay marriage, according to writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg. Continue reading “Ronald Reagan would have supported marriage equality?”
Rachel Maddow ended her Friday show by celebrating what she called an historic week in the gay rights movement in America.
In a poetic monologue that seemed at times to leave her slightly choked up, Maddow compared the effect of the work done by pioneers in the fight for LGBT equality–from now-dead activists of the 1970s to Thea Spyer, the late wife of Edie Windsor, whoselawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act was heard by the Supreme Court this week–to the light that reaches the night sky from stars that have actually been gone for years, reports Huffington Post today.
“There are all sorts of people and all sorts of fights that technically are not still around,” she said. “But they live, and we can see them. We can see their light in some of the biggest-deal and most difficult things that we do today. Continue reading “Racing the light with Rachel”
Today two legendary figures wrote to the Supreme Court in opposition to California’s ban on gay marriage: Clint Eastwood and Barack Obama. The famous gunslinger (who famously admonished an imaginary Obama in a chair at the Republican Convention) and the president chose the same day to ratchet up their support for marriage equality. Huffington Post, covered Eastwood’s announcement this way:
“Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood has taken his well-publicized support of same-sex marriage one step further, calling upon the U.S. Supreme Court to drop Prop 8. As Breitbart’s Mike Flynn reports, the Oscar-winning actor and director joined more than 100 Republicans in signing a Supreme Court-bound brief in favor of allowing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples the right to legally wed in California.
“Flynn describes Eastwood as a “long-time Republican with strong libertarian leanings,” and says that signing the Supreme Court briefs implies that he “is going to stay active in the political landscape.” One of Eastwood’s representatives and a spokesman for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group spearheading opposition to California’s law banning same-sex marriage, confirmed the news to NBC. Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and GOP strategist Steve Schmidt are among the other high-profile names to sign the brief, CBS News reports.
“The 82-year-old Eastwood discussed his generally pro-same-sex marriage stance in a September 2012 appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show. “The condition of society right now, with the high unemployment rates and the tremendous debt we’re increasing and the government spending, we’d think there’d be [many more worthy issues] to think about [rather] that worrying about gay marriage,” he told DeGeneres.In 2011, Eastwood similarly told GQ magazine, “I don’t give a f**k about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of … Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.”
More at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/28/clint-eastwood-prop-8-gay-marriage-_n_2783489.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices
In recent weeks the United Nations passed a sweeping resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, with specific reference to vulnerable groups, those targeted due to sexual orientation or gender identity. As Huffington Post reports today,
“This week the U.N. opened its doors to the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community with a panel entitled Leadership in the Fight against Homophobia, headlined by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, human rights defenders Blas Radi (Argentina), Olena Schevchenko (Ukraine), and Gift Trapence (Malawi) and celebrity guests Yvonne Chaka Chaka Continue reading “UN resolution condemns LGBT executions”