Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sex, Lies, and Audiotape

Secret tape of lawmaker stirs Minnesota's gay marriage debate


The Associated Press

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson apologized for remarks on gay marriage.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — One of Minnesota's top Democrats is catching grief after getting caught on tape telling a lie — or, as he put it, "sanding off the truth."

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson was recorded assuring a group of pastors that several state Supreme Court justices had told him they would not legalize gay marriage.

His remarks, which surfaced last week, drew a rare public rebuke from the chief justice, who denied the statements, and caused criticism from Republicans and gay-marriage opponents.

Johnson, who is also a pastor, said he did not lie but admitted "embellishing" and making misstatements. He has tried to get past the issue, but Republicans and foes of gay marriage have seized on it.

Johnson's political opponents have issued daily press releases, called news conferences and launched a Web site,, to track Johnson's "ever-changing stories." This week, Senate Republicans also filed an ethics complaint; to resolve the complaint, Johnson agreed to apologize on the Senate floor.

Speaking in January to a group of rural pastors, Johnson said he had spoken with at least three current or former Supreme Court justices, who told him the high court would never overturn the state's Defense of Marriage law. In other words, a state law banning same-sex marriage was safe, so why amend the constitution?

Unknown to him, a pastor with close ties to gay-marriage opponents was in the audience, with a tape recorder clipped to his backpack.

When the controversy broke, Johnson revised his story, saying the remarks were based on a quick encounter with one justice.

That was not enough for Supreme Court Justice Russell Anderson, who called a news conference to deny that any justices spoke with Johnson about the issue.

Johnson was elected as a Republican in 1978 and rose to that party's top Senate post before becoming a Democrat in 2000, saying the GOP had moved too far to the right.

Besides being a longtime pastor, he is a brigadier general in the Minnesota National Guard.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Majority In Mass. Favor Gay Marriage, Adoption

Majority In Mass. Favor Gay Marriage, Adoption
by Margo Williams, Boston Bureau

March 13, 2006 - 3:00 pm ET

(Boston, Massachusetts) A majority of people in Massachusetts support same-sex marriage and allowing gays and lesbians to be adoptive parents according to two new polls.

The first survey, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center for the Boston Globe, was taken just prior to Friday's announcement by Catholic Charities that it would stop placing children for adoption rather than adhere to state law that bars discrimination on the basis of sexuality. (story)

The poll found that 54 percent of voters would be more likely to vote for a gubernatorial candidate who supported allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children.

Among Catholics, who made up about half the respondents, 46 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported gay adoption, compared with 26 percent who said they would probably choose a candidate who was against them.

On the weekend, Gov. Mitt Romney said he plans to file a bill exempting religious organizations from the state's nondiscrimination law in the wake of Friday's decision by the Catholic church. (story)

Romney is not seeking re-election as he focuses his sights on a GOP presidential bid. The Republican most likely to run for governor, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, has distanced herself from Romney's bill. Healey has said she’s opposed to exempting the church from the state's anti-discrimination laws.

Democrats who control the State House also are opposed to Romney's plan.

A second poll released Monday also had good news for gay families.

The Bay State Poll taken by the Center for Public Opinion Research at Merrimack College shows that 58 percent of Massachusetts residents favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, with 32 percent opposed and 9 percent undecided.

The Catholic Church and evangelical groups are pressing for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state.

The groups have collected enough names to force the legislature to consider the ban. It would need 50 votes to pass in two consecutive sessions before the question would be put to voters.

© 2006

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Church Broke Law In Pushing Gay Marriage Amendment

Church Broke Law In Pushing Gay Marriage Amendment
by Newscenter Staff

March 8, 2006 - 3:00 pm ET

(Helena, Montana) Montana's commissioner of political practices has ruled that a suburban Helena church broke state campaign laws over its involvement in promoting an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage.

The measure passed in 2004 and LGBT civil rights groups complained that Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church had violated the law by hosting events promoting the amendment and by using the church to collected names to get the issue on the ballot.

In his ruling Gordon Higgins, state commissioner of political practices, said that the church failed to file required campaign disclosure documents and that the church had become an "incidental campaign committee".

In his 10-page ruling Higgins said that the church is not restricted from participating in the election process but should have disclosed the monetary value of its help to the campaign.

The ruling noted that other churches in the state also were involved in amendment, but they filed required campaign disclosure documents.

The ruling did not include penalties. It will be up to the county attorney's office to decide whether to lay criminal charges. Usually in such cases charges are never laid.

The church disagrees with Higgins findings. It's suing his office claiming that Higgins' investigation violated the church's right to free speech. That case is now pending in federal district court.

© 2006

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Gay Marriage Ban Would Violate Constitution

Gay Marriage Ban Would Violate Constitution
by Joey King 01 Mar 2006

The US Constitution was constructed by our Founding Fathers to protect the rights of all Americans. Although an imperfect document, the Constitution has mechanisms built in to increase individual rights and freedoms. That historical arc of justice is bending the wrong way these days, though, and no where is it further askew than recent discussions concerning a constitutional amendment in Tennessee to ban gay marriage.
I am a fan of National Public Radio and enjoy listening to the programming. However, I recently heard the Rep Donna Rowland's (R Murfreesboro) interview on WPLN FM, Nashville Public Radio, and frankly I was disappointed. Rep Rowland discussed her support and efforts to introduce a gay marriage amendment to the Tennessee Constitution. Until now, I have always considered Rep Rowland a friend of the US Constitution. A "gay marriage ban" added to the state constitution, though politically popular, would clearly violate:

1. The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution Section 1 "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States...nor deny to any person within it's jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"

2. Section 5 of the 14th Amendment says that only the US Congress can enforce this Amendment...not the states

3. Article 4 section 1 says, "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other state.

4. Article 4 Section 2: "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several states."

Clearly, the recent upsurge in anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendments is a grand-standing attempt by politicians to circumvent the US Constitution. If legislators really want to correct the Tennessee state constitution they might start with repealing Article 9 Section 2 which says,

" No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."

That obviously violates the religious freedoms protected in the First Amendment as well as violating the Fourteenth Amendment (above). This egregious section discriminates against the following individuals:

Buddhists (who worship no deity and most sects who
have no concept of a heaven or hell)
Jews (no concept of an afterlife)
Hindus (who are multi-theists)
Agnostics and Atheists (who, according to the recent American Religious Identification Survey, are the fastest growing "religious" category in the US)

I urge State Representative Rowland to withdraw from this amendment process and wash her hands of this attempt to deny rights to a long discriminated against group of Americans.