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Democratic platform draft includes marriage equality plank: sources

Unanimous vote happened Sunday



Rep. Barney Frank confirmed Monday that a marriage equality plank will appear in the Democratic Party platform (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Democratic Party platform drafting committee approved on Sunday language endorsing same-sex marriage in addition to other pro-LGBT positions as part of the Democratic Party platform, according to two sources familiar with the drafting process.

Retiring gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who sits on the committee, told the Washington Blade on Monday that the 15-member panel unanimously backed the inclusion of a marriage equality plank after a national hearing over the weekend in Minneapolis, in which several witnesses testified in favor of such language.

“I was part of a unanimous decision to include it,” Frank said. “There was a unanimous decision in the drafting committee to include it in the platform, which I supported, but everybody was for it.”

Frank emphasized that support for marriage equality is a position that has been established for the Democratic Party, from the president, who endorsed marriage equality in May, to House Democratic lawmakers who voted to reject an amendment reaffirming the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this month.

A Democratic National Committee staffer, who is familiar with the process and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the language in the platform approved on Sunday not only backs marriage equality, but also rejects DOMA and has positive language with regard to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The exact wording of the language wasn’t immediately available.

The platform is still in a draft phase. Writers of the platform are now set to come up with close-to-final draft that will be presented before the full platform committee in Detroit from Aug. 10 to Aug. 12. That committee will discuss amendments before presenting the platform at the convention in Charlotte in September.

A number of witnesses were to testify in favor of a marriage equality plank in the platform: Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry; Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign; Army Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a lesbian New Hampshire guardsman with stage-four incurable breast cancer and a plaintiff in Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act;  Michael Macleod-Ball, the American Civil Liberties Union’s chief of staff for the Washington Legislative Office; and Aaron Zellhoefer, a gay delegate to the Democratic National Convention representing the National Stonewall Democrats.

Solomon, whose organization has been leading the effort to include a marriage equality plank in the platform, praised the committee in a statement for the adopting such language.

“We are grateful for the Platform Drafting Committee’s unanimous vote to include the freedom to marry in its draft of the Democratic Party platform,” Solomon said. “As I testified to the Committee on Friday, the Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans. We are proud that the Committee is including language that will ensure the Party is leading the way forward in supporting marriage for loving and committed same-sex couples and their families.”

Zeke Stokes, an SLDN spokesperson, said following Morgan’s testimony that Frank spoke favorably about marriage equality and expressed the sentiment that such language would wind up in the platform.

“He spoke very passionately of his support for marriage equality following the Morgans’ testimony and left a strong impression that he believed it would ultimately be included,” Stokes said.

On Monday, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest deferred a question from National Public Radio’s Ari Shapiro on the adopted language to the DNC. The DNC didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment.

NOTE: This article has been updated.

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  1. Adam Willis

    July 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Man… just a few years ago I was convinced that the Democratic party was not strong willed enough to add this to the platform. I’m glad I was wrong! Progress is awesome!

    • Richard Crooks

      July 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      We have a lot to Thank President Obama for and this is one of his greatest to stand up for all AMERICANS.

    • F--k You

      August 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      Screw LBGT Rights, the Majority of Democrats are not for theses ungodly rights and it is being cramed down our throats. This is the final straw that will destroy the Democrat party into splinters.

  2. Mathew Cabral

    July 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Its a sin…STOP IT!

    • Erich Keil

      July 30, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      Whether you believe it is a sin or not is a matter of your personal religion which has no place in legislation. Equal rights for all regardless of race, age, gender, creed, or sexual orientation has every place in legislation, in fact it’s already in the constitution. Whether or not it’s a sin is irrelevant in this case. Sin is a matter of personal belief. It was separated from state a long time ago.

    • Ben

      July 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      AGREED, Thank you Mathew!

    • Richard Crooks

      July 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      You believe what you want to and let others do and believe what they want to. Love Is Love and God is Love.

    • Frank Hoffman

      July 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Even if “it” were this thing you call “sin” in you belief system, that is — fortunately for all of us — irrelevant to a secular government routed in separation of such belief systems from legal gevernance of the people. So, feel free not to enter into a same-sex relationship if you don’t wish to — leave the rest of us out of your definition of sin.

    • Johan

      August 2, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Hey Matt (and Ben, too for that matter),

      You’re on a gay news website. So… either you’re clueless, you’re closeted, or you’re trolling.

    • Jordan

      September 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Huh? What are you talking about?

  3. Rebecca Juro

    July 30, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Big deal. LGBT workplace rights were in the ’08 platform and we saw how that played out politically once the Democrats had control of the White House and both houses of Congress, didn’t we? I don’t know why people are getting all worked up about this. This is just another come on to get rich gays to donate more money, just like Obama coming out as being OK with the idea of same-sex marriage (but not, however, pledging to make any effort to help make it a reality).

    When will LGBT Americans finally understand that they’re being fed yet another line by politicians who only care about their money, not their civil rights?

  4. Peter rosenstein

    July 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Great story Chris and congrats on the Blade being mentioned in the NY Times as having the story first

  5. Wendy Wartes

    July 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Mathew, In your religion it is a sin. Thankfully, in mine, it isn’t. Hopefully all my children will soon be equal in the US constitution and all can follow in their parents’ footsteps and marry the person they love. Legal civil marriage was good for my grandparents, married 69 years, my parents married 65 and me, married 43. I’m so happy it will soon be legal for all in my family. All parents want someone to cherish and support their child, to be there when his parents die, when he’s sick and when celebrating a new success. Why should one of my children not have the same hopes and dreams of this than the others?

    • Richard Crooks

      July 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU.. And lets all be one big happy family


      July 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm


      • Tom Bell

        July 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

        Wow ! Hey Lee Johnston, that is a real CLEVER AND UNIQUE comeback line: “God created Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve.”

        Gee ! I never heard THAT before. You certainly have quite a wit about you ! Seriously Lee, that might have been somewhat “humorous” back in the 1960s or 1970s, but it’s time to wake up to the 21st Century pal. Your juvenile usage of far-outdated slogans (actually decades old) demonstrate you truly have no relevant grasp of today’s complex issues. Leave the political discussions to the “grown-ups” in the room.

      • Martin and Rod in SJ

        July 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm

        Actually, Lee, God has no problem with me or my boyfriend. OR what we do in bed together. I know. HE told me so directly. I’ll tell you what He DOES hate, though. He hates people who claim to speak in His name, but only spread hate and fear. “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” John 4:20

      • Chris

        August 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

        You’re either an idiot who doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘separation of church and state” or you’re just an ass. It makes no difference to me, because whether you agree with this addition to the Dem’s party platform or not, it is still being added. So, we win, you lose. Love ALWAYS triumphs over hate. :-)

    • Jerry Ballew

      July 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      The tide is turning. The Brave New World is coming when people will no longer be given the stink eye because of their nature and who they were born to be. From Torquemadan auto da fe’s at the stake to, finally, equality for Gay Families and their chosen children nobody else wanted, to an equal standing with All families. It’s about the children who are chosen to be included into a loving family and not warehoused in a governmental institutional netherland having been tossed unwantedly aside.

  6. Terri

    July 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    No you stop it! And Deming comments like the one above do not reflect the heart of father God. He loves all people, and he did not come into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him would be saved! For all GL BT reading this, I apologize for the stupid and insensitive remarks made to you by those who think they are Christian.

  7. Paula Visnoski

    July 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Moving in the right direction! Please check out this Equality Video:

  8. Jeff

    July 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    This could complicate a number of campaigns, especially down-ballot. Democrats are engaged in tough Senate battles in Missouri, Virginia, Montana and West Virginia, where Democrat candidates may have to distance themselves from the new party stance. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan are home to loads of blue-collar Democrats who still “cling” to a traditional view of marriage. Hard to imagine Sen. Bob Casey championing the new position, for example.

    In fact, the campaign’s battleground states are almost all places where support for gay marriage isn’t yet an electoral winner. I think this is mostly a case of a platform committee being swayed by an ardent, single-issue constituency, as has happened at times to both parties.

    No matter what the Democrats or the media tries to talk about, this campaign is going to be decided on economic issues. The more Democrats try to distract from that, the fewer chances they get to lay out an economic message that will sway voters.

    • Frank Hoffman

      July 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Well, then, the Party will need to do some education and persuasion. It can start with Sen. Casey, who still needs to “evolve” on this issue, especially given that he won, in part, with the gay vote.

  9. Richard Crooks

    July 30, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Hopefully this will be another step to stop discrimination.

  10. What Next

    July 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    They just shot themselves in the foot. Guess its time to research the other candidates that are running for election. I refuse to support something I completely disapprove of!! I refuse to be guilty by association!…

  11. Jeff4Justice

    July 31, 2012 at 4:50 am

    Thank God I can vote for alternative party candidates who already have LGBT equality in their platforms and are also pro-woman’s rights, pro-racial equality, pro-labor, pro-peace, and pro-environment as apposed to the Democrats who claim to be but in action end up being as awful as the Republicans.

    Let’s not forget that there are still anti-equality and anti-choice Democrats (just as there are some pro-equality and pro-choice Republicans).

    Let’s not forget that Democrats helped get Alito and Roberts into the Supreme Court. (Google: Senate Democrats regret supporting Roberts)

    It’s a wasted vote to vote for the same 2 parties of perpetual war, poverty, debt, and the erosion of civil liberties over and over while expecting different results.

    If you’re an LGBT person expecting open minds on marriage equality yet are unwilling to be open minded voting for alternative party options then that’s hypocritical.

    Online search:

    LGBT Media: Cover Alternative Political Parties
    Insist Obama & Romney Debate 3rd Party Opponents
    Top 3 Dumb Excuses To Not Vote 3rd Party
    6 Easy Steps To End The 2-Party System

    Obama 2012: The Lesser Evil?
    Bush, Obama, Same Old Drama!
    21 reasons why I will not vote for Obama in 2012
    100 Ways Mitt Romney Is Just Like Barack Obama

    As quickly as the Occupy movement arose, an advancement or alternative party movement could arise before November too.

    However, if you like little kids getting blown apart by drone attacks, the kill list, the President can kill anyone attitude, teenage torturing Guantanamo, senseless wars expanded beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, Monsanto taking over the FDA, the EPA raising radiation standards, the dismissal of Occupy, attacks on medical marijuana users (thanks LA City Council Democrats for doing your part), a spike in troops committing suicide, attacks on protestors rights, attacks on internet freedom, voting for Republican nominees to the courts, Wall Street favors, insider training, 50% in poverty, 15 trillion in dent, leaders like “Impeachment off the table” Pelosi, and most college grads not being able to find then PLEASE keep voting for the Democrats and Obama and expecting different results. Hopefully ObamaRomneyWellpointcare will cover your Stockholm syndrome.

    Yeah! Woo-hoo the warmongers are supportive of LGBTs! God bless Ameirca!

    • Misty

      July 31, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      Go somewhere else and troll

  12. Jeff4Justice

    July 31, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Tried to post comments but I guess if you dare speak against the 2party system of war, poverty and attacks on civil rights the Washington Blade will censor you. Otherwise your comment filtering system sux.

    Freedom to marry! Just not freedom to dare speak out against the 2party system.

  13. Dennis Velco

    July 31, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Thanks for this article and your reporting. What you do is appreciated.

    I posted it to my LGBT Group on LinkedIn to spur members to read your article and to make comment. I also scooped it at Scoop.It on my LGBT Times news mashup.

    Link to group >>

    All LGBT+ and community allies…. please come join me and 15,000+ of your soon to be great connections on LinkedIn. The member base represents 80% of the world’s countries. As well as the down stream in my LInkedIn personal connections that reach over 24 million potential live stream viewers on LinkedIn alone.

    The group is strictly professional office friendly dialog, posting and profiles / profile images. I’ve been told by many that it may well be one of the best run / managed groups on LinkedIn.

    You can be as out or private as you like and I provide instructions on how to set those preferences (In the Manager’s Choice area).

    It’s core value is – Visibility can lead to awareness which can lead to equality. Come stand with us and increase our visibility on the globe’s largest professional networking site. Be a professional who just happens to be LGBT – or a welcomed community ally.

  14. rbockman

    July 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Love lesbians, hate sodomizers

  15. Carol Green

    July 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I’m a retired California teacher. I became incensed the day the Boy Scouts expelled gays from membership. I sat down at my computer contemplating the injustice of the BSA and DOMA. I wanted to help those who have fought bigotry every day of their lives. Soon, words began coupling in my head, flowing through me in twos, and I recorded them. This gift appeared from nowhere. I give the gift to you.

    Defy discrimination. Boycott bigotry. Denounce dogma. Banish bullies. Cultivate change. Encourage empathy. Discourage desperation. Inspire insight. Celebrate self. Purge pain. Release skeletons. Convey compassion. Nurture narratives. Perpetuate pride. Deactivate disinformation. Revitalize reason. Deconstruct preconceptions. Reconstruct character. Demonstrate determination. Rekindle respect. Disengage guilt. Demand dignity. Mend families. Compel comrades. Rally allies. Command crowds. Mobilize masses. Globalize ideals. Instill initiative. Shift paradigms. Reset standards. Open minds. Envision equality. Challenge convention. Elevate ethics. Revise rules. Trust time. Practice persistence. Pledge patience. Confirm convictions. Consign commitment. Marshal movement. Maintain momentum. Delay gratification. Overcome obstacles. Reform marriage. Desegregate scouting. Welcome awakening. Recognize redemption. Manifest destiny. Liberate love. Embrace enlightenment. Transform tradition. Civilize civilization. Reshape reality.

    You don’t have to be gay to understand the unfairness and humiliation of discrimination and prejudice. Why can’t we be the land of the free? Because, we can. Yes, we can!

    Retired California Teacher, 64, Heterosexual

    • Jordan

      September 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      you are a beautiful soul! The world needs more beautiful people like you. It would be a much better place to live….

  16. Bachman

    August 2, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Gays should stay out of the presidential election, gay marriage is not popular, it’s a loser!
    I don’t support it and it will cause the president a chance to win! This is purely selfish, in terms of the rest of us that work hard for the campaign. Republicans know it’s a nail in Obama’s coffin and they’re cheering right now! Barney frank is an Idiot!

    • Jordan

      September 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      I love how you act like all gays should just stay out of voting. LOL This shows me that you KNOW your days of hatred, bigotry and ignorance are over. Obama is more popular than ever, especially now that the Republican LIES have been discovered. Don’t you people know, that everytime you lie about something, it reveals to the public just how ignorant and stupid you are? There are actually REPUBLICANS who do not support Romney and Ryan. LMAO Republicans are going to lose the presidency AGAIN, and i can’t wait.

  17. Perley J. Thibodeau

    August 2, 2012 at 10:58 am

    A Republican Senate and Congress will be elected to counter act the Democratic President. So, he’ll continue being a lame duck president for the next four years, too!

  18. Diana

    August 9, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    DOMA will be upheld. Marriage should only be between a man and a woman. The majority of voters passed Yes on Prop 8. The majority always wins in most elections. The Democrats are just showing their stupidity with this issue. The country needs marriage between a man and a woman. Hetrosexual couples need to reproduce and have children. They need future taxpayers in the future. We need jobs instead of Homosexual marriage. With Homosexual marriage there is no reproduction. Therefore it is not necessary. Homosexual marriage is another way of saying to stop production!

    • Jordan

      September 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      First of all, the LAST thing this planet needs is more people popping out children. So perhaps you SHOULD stop production for a bit. Secondly, if the ‘productions’ you people are creating, are as dumb and asshatted as YOU, then we DEFINATELY do not need them here. And considering that 84 percent of ALL heterosexual marriages end in divorce within 10 years, i’d say the LAST thing we need is more hetero couples marrying without thinking. also, by your own logic, barren women, and sterile men should not be married. Oh, but wait, i’m sure you’ll have a loop hole for that, won’t you? The REAL institution of Marriage, (which, by the way, was NOT created by christians) was a interlocking of two SOULS. Not based on the interlocking of TWO BODIES. It was a way for one person, to express love and committment to ANOTHER person. Gender was not relevent. I love how all of you dumb ass republicans act like you are the ONLY one who can love. Of course, i cannot expect a dumb republican like you to understand the need for EQUALITY, because you can’t even comprehend treating other people the way you want to be treated. People like you are the REASON this country is in peril in the first place. Ignorant, closed-minded, bigoted, hateful people, who can’t keep their nose out of gay men and women’s bedrooms. YOU PEOPLE ARE OBSESSED WITH GAY SEX MORE THAN GAY PEOPLE!!!!!

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Does a potential overturn of Roe imperil LGBTQ rights?

Some fear that Obergefell marriage decision could fall



Protests outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1. (Photo by Cathy Renna)

The oral arguments before the justices of the United States Supreme Court had barely ended in the case brought by the state of Mississippi defending its law banning abortion after 15 weeks, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, when alarms were set off in legal circles as some argued that Obergefell v. Hodges — the same-sex marriage decision — would be in danger should the high court rule to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler, appearing on NPR’s ‘Heard on All Things Considered,’ told host Mary Louise Kelly that there was a basis for concern over whether the court would actually overrule its precedents in other cases based on the questions and statements raised during the hearing by the conservative members of the court.

Asked by Kelly if she saw a legal door opening Ziegler affirmed that she did. Kelly then asked her, “Them taking up cases to do with that. What about same-sex marriage?”

Ziegler answered, “Yeah, same-sex marriage is definitely a candidate. Justices Alito and Thomas have in passing mentioned in dicta that they think it might be worth revisiting Obergefell v. Hodges – the same-sex marriage decision.

“And I think it’s fair to say that in the sort of panoply of culture war issues, that rights for same-sex couples and sexual orientation are still among the most contested, even though certainly same-sex marriage is more subtle than it was and than abortion was.

“I think that certainly the sort of balance between LGBTIQ rights and religious liberty writ large is a very much alive issue, and I think some states may try to test the boundaries with Obergefell, particularly knowing that they have a few justices potentially willing to go there with them.”

As almost if to underscore the point raised by Ziegler during the hearing, Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor pointed out that the high court has taken and “discerned” certain rights in cases from the Constitution.

Along with abortion, the court has “recognized them in terms of the religion parents will teach their children. We’ve recognized it in their ability to educate at home if they choose,” Sotomayor said. “We have recognized that sense of privacy in people’s choices about whether to use contraception or not. We’ve recognized it in their right to choose who they’re going to marry.”

In following up the cases cited by Justice Sotomayor, Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart, who was defending the state’s abortion law, whether a decision in his favor would affect the legal precedents in those cases cited by Justice Sotomayor.

In his answer to Justice Barrett, the state’s Solicitor General said cases involving contraception, same-sex marriage and sodomy wouldn’t be called into question because they involve “clear rules that have engendered strong reliance interests and that have not produced negative consequences or all the many other negative stare decisis considerations we pointed out.”

However, Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer and Legal Director, Sharon McGowan had a different take and interpreted remarks by Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to mean that the decisions in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized private sexual intimacy between same-sex couples, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down remaining bans on the freedom of same-sex couples to marry, would actually justify overturning Roe v. Wade.

In a publicly released media statement McGowan noted: “During today’s argument, Justice Kavanaugh suggested that two key Supreme Court decisions protecting LGBTQ civil rights—Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges—support overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

‘To that we say, NOT IN OUR NAME. LGBTQ people need abortions. Just as important, those landmark LGBTQ decisions EXPANDED individual liberty, not the opposite. They reflected the growing societal understanding of our common humanity and equality under law.

“Just as the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education rejected the lie of ‘separate but equal,’ the Supreme Court’s decisions in Lawrence and Obergefell appropriately overruled precedent where it was clear that, as was true with regard to race, our ancestors failed properly to acknowledge that gender and sexual orientation must not be barriers to our ability to live, love, and thrive free of governmental oppression. … 

“These landmark LGBTQ cases, which Lambda Legal litigated and won, and on which we rely today to protect our community’s civil rights, were built directly on the foundation of Casey and Roe. Our interests in equal dignity, autonomy, and liberty are shared, intertwined, and fundamental.” 

On Sunday, the Blade spoke with Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national LGBTQ+ legal organization that represented three same-sex couples from Tennessee, whose case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court along with Obergefell and two other cases.

Minter is urging caution in how people interpret the court arguments and remarks made by the justices.

“We should be cautious about taking the bait from anti-LGBTQ groups who falsely argue that if the Supreme Court reverses or undermines Roe v. Wade, they are likely to reverse or undermine Obergefell or Lawrence. In fact, that is highly unlikely, as the argument in Dobbs itself showed,” he said.

“The only reason Justice Kavanaugh mentioned Obergefell and Lawrence, along with Brown v. Board of Education, was to cite them as examples of cases in which the Supreme Court clearly did the right thing. All of those decisions rely at least as strongly on equal protection as on fundamental rights, and even this extremely conservative Supreme Court has not questioned the foundational role of equal protection in our nation’s constitutional law,” Minter stressed.

During an interview with Bloomberg magazine, David Cortman, of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist hate group, said “two things in particular distinguish abortion from those other privacy rights: the right to life and the states’ interest in protecting a child.”

Cortman, whose group urged the justices to allow states to ban same-sex marriages, said those other rights may be just as wrong as the right to an abortion. “But the fundamental interest in life that’s at issue in abortion means those other rights are probably not in any real danger of being overturned.”

But Cortman is of the opinion that there is little impetus among the court’s conservatives to take up challenges to those cases.

However, the fact that the six to three makeup of the high court with a conservative majority has progressives clamoring for the public to pay closer attention and be more proactively engaged.

Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, in an emailed statement to the Blade underscored those concerns:

“Reports and analysis coming out of Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization are extremely disturbing and represent a threat to our individual constitutional rights to privacy and autonomy. There is no ‘middle ground’ on what the Constitution guarantees and what was decided decades ago with the Roe v Wade decision. 

“This is about liberty, equality, and the rule of law, not the political or partisan views of those sitting on the bench. The unprecedented decision to remove a constitutional right recognized by the Supreme Court 50 years ago would set back civil rights by decades. ….

“Abortion access is essential, and a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. Bans on abortion are deeply racist and profoundly sexist – the harshest impacts fall on Black and Brown women and pregnant people and on our families and communities.

“If you think this decision will not affect you, think again: a wrong decision by the Supreme Court means you, too, will lose your bodily autonomy, your ability to own your own personal and community power. This is not just about abortion; it is about controlling bodies based on someone else determining your worthiness. This is a racial justice issue. This is a women’s issue. It is an LGBTQ issue. It is a civil rights issue. These are our fundamental rights that are at stake.”

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Minnesota middle school principal ousted for displaying Pride flag

Critics ramped up attacks on the career educator- some compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students



Screenshot via Marshall Public Schools, YouTube Channel

MARSHALL, Mn. — A former middle school principal in Minnesota who lost her job after displaying a Pride flag alleges in a federal lawsuit that the school system retaliated against her for supporting LGBTQ+ students.

Mary Kay Thomas filed the complaint against Marshall Public Schools in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota Tuesday after anti-LGBTQ+ middle school staff, parents, students and local clergy began efforts to remove the Pride flag that she put up in her middle school’s cafeteria in 2020 as a part of an inclusiveness effort.

According to the lawsuit, Thomas has been a teacher and principal for more than three decades with a long track record of success. She held the principal position at Marshall Middle School for 15 years, receiving contract renewals, pay raises and praise for her performance.

“But when Thomas decided to display an LGBTQ Pride Flag in the school cafeteria in early 2020, everything changed,” reads the complaint. 

Thomas refused to take down the Pride flag as critics ramped up attacks on the career educator. The lawsuit alleges that some even compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students. 

“Sadly, the Marshall School District has sided with these critics,” her lawyers wrote. 

What followed was an “escalating series of adverse actions” taken by the Marshall School District, said the lawsuit. She claims that the school targeted her by threatening her employment, conducting a “bad-faith” investigation, putting her on indefinite involuntary leave, suspending her without pay and putting a notice of deficiency in her personnel file. 

The complaint says that the deficiencies were “false, distorted, and/or related to Thomas’s association with members of the LGBTQ community.”

Thomas also claims that the District attempted to get her to quit by removing her as principal and assigning her to a “demeaning ‘special projects’ position.”

At one point, Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams, who is named as a defendant in the case, told Thomas he could “make this all go away” if she stepped down, according to the complaint. 

The school removed the Pride flag in August 2021 after settling a lawsuit brought by residents who opposed it. 

The Blade reached out to Williams for comment but did not receive a response. However, according to the Marshall Independent, Williams did release a statement on the matter. 

“Marshall Public Schools is committed to the education of every child and has strong policies and practices in place against discrimination, against both students and staff members. The school district is committed to creating a respectful, inclusive, and safe learning and working environment for students, staff and our families,” Williams said. “While the school cannot comment about the specific allegations made in the complaint, the school district strongly denies any allegation of discriminatory conduct. The school will vigorously defend itself against these allegations.”

In addition, Thomas alleges that she resisted unwanted sexual advancements from school board member Bill Swope. She claims she told Williams about the sexual harassment.

As of Thursday, the school has not filed a response, and no hearing has been scheduled yet. 

Thomas is seeking a jury trial, damages and reinstatement as principal of Marshall Middle School.

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Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral

Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday



Matthew Shepard, gay news, Washington Blade
Matthew Shepard Thanksgiving and Celebration at the National Cathedral in 2018. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The parents of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a 1998 hate crime that drew international attention to anti-LGBTQ violence, were among those attending a day of religious services commemorating Shepard’s 45th birthday on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.

The services, which the Cathedral organized in partnership with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, included tributes to Shepard at the Cathedral’s St. Joseph’s Chapel, where his remains were interred in a ceremony in 2018.  

“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, said at the time of Shepard’s interment.

“In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,” Hollerith said.

The first of the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard began at 7 a.m. with prayers, scripture readings, and music led by the Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan. The service was live streamed on YouTube.

An online, all-day service was also held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Cathedral officials said was intended to “connect people around the world to honor Shepard and the LGBTQ community and pray for a more just world.”

The Shepard services concluded with a 5:30 p.m. in-person remembrance of Shepard in the Cathedral’s Nave, its main worship space. Among those attending were Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who have said they created the Matthew Shepard Foundation to continue their son’s support for equality for all.

A statement released by the Cathedral says a bronze plaque honoring Matthew Shepard was installed in St. Joseph’s Chapel to mark his final resting place at the time Shepard was interred there in 2018. 
Following the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard, the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers hosted a reception for Dennis and Judy Shepard, according to Pitchers’ owner David Perruzza.

One of the two men charged with Shepard’s murder, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty to the charge after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for him. The second of the two men charged, Aaron McKinney, was convicted of the murder following a lengthy jury trial.

Prosecutors said McKinney repeatedly and fatally struck Shepard in the head with the barrel of a handgun after he and Henderson tied Shepard to a wooden fence in a remote field outside Laramie, Wy., on Oct. 6, 1998. Police and prosecutors presented evidence at McKinney’s trial that McKinney and Henderson met Shepard at a bar in Laramie on that day and lured him into their car, where they drove him to the field where authorities said McKinney fatally assaulted him.

Shepard died six days later at a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colo., where he was taken after being found unconscious while still tied to the fence.

In a dramatic courtroom scene following the jury’s guilty verdict for McKinney, Dennis Shepard urged the judge to spare McKinney’s life by not handing down a death sentence. He said that out of compassion and in honor of his son’s life, McKinney should be allowed to live. The judge sentenced McKinney to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the same sentence given to Henderson.

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