BETWEEN THE LINES: The Supreme Court gaveth a day after it tooketh away.
Less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court invalidated part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, it — sort of — righted justice by an identical 5-4 margin when it ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and affirmed equal protection to same-sex couples and their families in states that legislate it. As a result, same-sex married couples are now entitled to the rights and benefits, such as Social Security, that are guaranteed to married heterosexual couples.
The vote came, coincidentally, just a couple of days before the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that erupted in Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan, which sparked the establishment of the Gay Liberation Front and drew attention to the oppression of gays, a turning point in gay rights history.
The decision noted that DOMA created and endorsed a two-tier system that basically designated same-sex couples “as second class” citizens, which violated their Fifth Amendment right to equal protection.
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BETWEEN THE LINES: Fifty-three weeks ago, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which denied homosexuals from serving openly in the armed forces without the anxiety of expulsion, was repealed. The struggle to end it lasted twice as long as the war in Iraq and was, to some extent, overturned due to the urgency for fresh and specialized recruits. Nevertheless, despite fears of dire consequences and a blow to morale, it has not had a negative impact.
The basis for DADT was, for all intents and purposes, a charade that sanctioned deception by gays and lesbians because military tradition ignored homophobia in the ranks. Consequently, the guideline forced many, who faithfully executed their duties, to mask their sexual preference or be discharged.
From the time the directive was adopted in 1993, when President Clinton yielded to Pentagon opposition to reverse the ban on gay service members, until it was revoked on September 20, 2011, more than 13,000 American service members were discharged. Those expulsions, which included hundreds of men and women with specialized skills, were detrimental to military missions because, among them, were hard-to-find linguists, who specialized in Arabic and Farsi (the latter is the official language of Iran), languages that have become indispensable to our Middle East presence during the last decade. Others discharged included pilots, engineers, doctors, nurses, and combat medics, key positions in which the military has had a shortage of in recent years. Those daring Americans, willing to put their lives on the front lines of combat, were, regrettably, not discharged because of poor performance or misconduct, but simply because of their sexual orientation.
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A scanned image of Golden's response letter. (Click to enlarge)
After we urged readers to contact State Senator Marty Golden in opposition to his proposal to roll back same-sex marriage rights in New York State, at least one reader (and Golden constituent) did – and got a response from the local Republican politician.
Thank you for your recent communication regarding my position on the same sex marriage issue. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views with me.
Few issues are as deeply divided as same sex marriage. I apologize that you feel I’ve let you down. My position is not intended to be discriminatory at all, it is just my personal belief and standing that I cannot support the proposal. While you may not agree, I believe that this issue does come at a time when, in my opinion, our state needs to be uniting to meet challenges, including the faltering economy and growing budgetary concerns. Having said that, I also believe that this matter may be one that is best left to the voters themselves on a statewide ballot, rather than being legislated.
I do try to fairly represent my constituents on all issues, though sometimes a very divided consensus makes it a tough task, and it is frustrating for me personally, and as a legislator. I will continue to do my best to try and represent your interests in the future.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
The reader told Sheepshead Bites that he was both surprised and pleased to receive such a polite response from Golden, and we agree. We certainly don’t have it out for the pol, though we vigorously disagree with his stance on this issue.
That said, this letter is lacking a few things. Keep reading to find out what.
It looks like we weren’t the only ones disappointed with State Senator Marty Golden’s attempt to take away what little marriage rights gay couples have in New York State. His attempt to halt the state’s practice of recognizing out-of-state gay marriages is bringing ire from residents, seizing on the pol’s claim that constituents “don’t give a rat’s ass about social issues.”
So they’re protesting in front of his office.
An anonymous blog titled “What Senator Golden Says” is promoting a rally for gay rights in front of Golden’s office (7408 5th Avenue) on Monday, June 6 at 6:30 p.m. According to the site:
Not only does Senator Golden vehemently oppose marriage equality, he now wants to TAKE AWAY RIGHTS WE CURRENTLY HAVE and stop New York State from recognizing same-sex marriages that were performed outside of New York.
Golden boldly told reporters that the people in his district “don’t give a rat’s ass about social issues.”
Come down and let him know how you feel!!
The protest apparently has the support of a number of local Democratic clubs, including Bay Ridge Democrats, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats and the New Kings Democrats. Notably absent from the list? Sheepshead Bay’s only two local clubs: Kings Highway Democrats and Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club. The former endorsed Golden back in 2002. The latter is State Senator Carl Kruger’s club, the only other Brooklyn state senator that voted against gay rights.
State Senator Marty Golden introduced the latest homophobic legislation last week, attempting to counter the recent push by gay rights advocates to legalize same-sex marriage rights.
The bill’s goal is to eliminate New York State’s recognition of gay marriages performed in other states, rolling back what little existing rights there are, and planting a boot firmly in the face of a legalization campaign supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
According to Golden, the bill is a signal to residents that we have no plan to tolerate those icky homos.
Keep reading for our take on the bill, and why you should write or call Golden’s office today.
A still from the video segment. What diner is this, anyway?
In an upcoming segment of ABC News’ “What Would You Do?”, patrons of a Sheepshead Bay diner witness gay couples harassed by a waiter. The staged intolerance is part of an experiment to see how locals react to the prejudice. The result? Well, apparently Sheepshead Bay doesn’t care for lesbians.
Here’s the scene:
While enjoying a bite to eat at a local diner, you overhear a waiter giving two women at the next table a hard time.
“Are you sisters?” he asks them. “Are your husbands joining you?”
At first, he just seems to be a nuisance but then he gets personal.
“Oh, you’re lesbians?” he exclaims. “What about your kids? Don’t they need daddies?”
The two women and their children are shocked and embarrassed. As they try to place an order, the waiter gets even more incensed and finally asks them to leave. As the family of four gets up to go, they catch your eye.
What Would You Do?
Keep reading to see how Sheepshead Bay residents reacted
(courtesy of NBC New York)
Over the weekend, gay rights activists marched in front of State Senator Carl Kruger’s Mill Basin home, enraged at the senator’s recent vote against marriage equality in New York State. According to NBC New York, activists called Kruger a “bigot”, and are planning more protests in the coming weeks.
Kruger has defended his vote as a reflection of his constituents’ wishes, not of his own beliefs. He said he considers the Orthodox Jewish community a “bedrock” part of his district. He added, “When it becomes an emotional, gut-wrenching issue, when it cuts through the fabric of traditions and values, then I have my community as the cornerstone of my decision.” (Others say Kruger’s vote was the result of a “chit cashed” by fellow “Amigo” Ruben Diaz.)
What do you think? Should a senator put his constituents’ wishes before his own moral beliefs? Always/Never? And is the Orthodox Jewish community reflective of the the entire district, which includes Bergen Beach, Flatlands, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, and Midwood.
Meanwhile, in other Kruger news, the good senator continues to get slammed for his budget shenangigans and role in the MTA deficit (here and here).
A distinction to be proud of? We think not.
Sheepshead Bay’s two state senators – Carl Kruger (D) and Marty Golden (R) – remain the only Brooklyn-area representatives standing against gay marriage in New York.
Of the nine members of the Brooklyn delegation to the State Senate, seven have publicly stated support for same-sex marriage rights, according to a survey by NY1. The majority of state senators from all five boroughs and Westchester support the bill, as do the majority of residents statewide, according to one poll. Continue Reading »