Friday, March 21, 2014

Last Call For Another One Falls

Another state constitution banning same-sex marriage, another federal judge strikes it down on Fourteenth Amendment grounds.  This time, the state is Michigan:

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman gave his decision Friday, two weeks after the couple's trial against the ban. Friedman's ruling says the state's ban is "unconstitutional because they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

Doesn't get much more clear cut than that.

In 2004, the state of Michigan enacted the Defense of Marriage Act after it was passed by 59 percent of voters. The act argues that children benefit from living in homes of heterosexual couples.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse sued the state of Michigan's federal court in an effort to overturn the state's ban on joint adoptions by same-sex couples. Friedman invited them to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage. They refiled the lawsuit and went to trial against the state's ban on gay marriage.

 The ruling is here.  Judge Friedman's conclusion:

In attempting to define this case as a challenge to “the will of the people,” state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people. No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples. It is the Court’s fervent hope that these children will grow up “to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2694. Today’s decision is a step in that direction, and affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.

 Boom.  Won't be long now before SCOTUS is forced to act.

There's Christian, And Then There's "Christian"

Chase Martinson was a student at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri, a Christian place of learning.  Emphasis on was, because after being readmitted and asked to join the school's honors program in January after taking a break from school, Chase's admission on Facebook that he is gay just got him kicked out of school.

In the words of Gandhi,  “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

In the letter, the Admissions’ Committee indicated that “[a]dmittance is open to academically and morally qualified students,” and that “[s]tudents at Hannibal-LaGrange should be in agreement with the student life guidelines set forth by the University.” The letter told him to review page 27 of the Hannibal-LaGrange student handbook, which defines “sexual impropriety” as “participation in, or appearance of, engaging in premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexual activities, or cohabitations on or off campus.”
These guys know how to party.

Moreover, “[t]he promotion, and advocacy of, or ongoing practice of a homosexual lifestyle is contrary to institution expectations and is therefore prohibited.”

When Martinson spoke to head of admissions, he was again told to review the guidelines “because it was brought to his attention (surprise!) that I was outside of them[.]” He does not indicate who informed the admissions administration about his sexual preference.

In a Facebook update that he encouraged people to share, Martinson wrote that he was told that he didn’t represent “Christian values.”

Well good thing Jesus Christ was never associated with sinners, thieves, prostitutes, cheats, the lame, etc.” he continued. “Hannibal-LaGrange University should be ashamed of itself, it’s repugnant.”

 I wonder if any students attend the school while receiving any federal student loans or grants. I would very much like to know the answer to that question.

Second of all, I'm betting the same "get government out of my face" people have little problem with this.  It's okay if the government is a Christian theocracy?

Chase meanwhile is going to attend University of Missouri - St. Louis this fall.  Good for him.

More Food Stamps For Thought

House Republicans were confident that cuts in food stamps this year (specifically punishing Democrats in northern blue states that took advantage of heating assistance to access additional SNAP money) would help turn voters against Obama in the midterms.  Only one problem:  Democrats in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states aren't playing along.

At issue is a provision in the farm bill, known as “heat and eat,” that allows people who receive benefits through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to also receive more nutrition assistance.

The idea behind the link was that low-income families should not have to choose between buying food and heating their home. But Congress has chafed at states that have sought to obtain more food stamp money by sending $1 LIHEAP checks to households that would not otherwise receive help.

To close what some lawmakers called a loophole, Congress increased the LIHEAP subsidy threshold to $20. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the change would save $8.6 billion over a decade, representing a majority of the spending cuts in the nearly $1 trillion farm bill.

Yet in the weeks since President Obama signed the law in February, seven of the 17 states that currently send nominal LIHEAP checks have announced plans to increase that aid to $20, so they can continue to access additional funding from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Those states include Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Oregon, Montana, Massachusetts and New York. All of them, with the exception of Pennsylvania, have Democratic governors.

Orange Julius and the House GOP are furious and are promising yet more food stamp cuts to crack down on "cheating states", but the harder the House Republicans push on this, the meaner they look to voters.

And they know it.


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