Friday, August 20, 2010

Via JMG: NOM Loses Again In Maine

NOM has lost yet another court battle to cloak the names of their donors in Maine.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said Thursday his group is disappointed in the ruling, but feels its arguments will hold sway with an appeals court. NOM will pursue an expedited appeal to the U.S. First Circuit Court in Boston, he said, because of the short time before the upcoming election season. Though Thursday's decision will delay NOM's plans for political activity in Maine, Brown said, the group is reviewing the decision to gauge a potential timeline for action. NOM plans activity in Maine both on behalf of candidates that support "redefining marriage," said Brown, and on candidates that support traditional marriage.

He declined to say whether NOM would be active in the state's governor's race, as well as the legislative races. Brown also expressed frustration at the legal hurdles spurred by what he called "frivolous" lawsuits filed by their political opponents, one of which, Californians Against Hate, asked the Maine ethics commission to investigate NOM. That group, one of the primary advocates for preserving California's gay marriage law that was repealed by voters there in 2009, questioned whether NOM raised more than $5,000 to directly repeal Maine's same-sex marriage law.
It's not a complete win for the good guys, however, as the judge also ruled some parts of Maine's campaign finance disclosure laws to be "unconstitutionally vague" and struck down the requirement that donations over $250 be reported within 24 hours.
reposted from Joe

Via BoxTurtle: California marriages go civil

Timothy Kincaid

August 20th, 2010
Yesterday the California state assembly approved SB 906, which will make the following changes to California’s marriage law:
300. (a) Marriage Civil marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, established pursuant to a State of California marriage license issued by the county clerk, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone does not constitute civil marriage. Consent must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized by this division, except as provided by Section 425 and Part 4 (commencing with Section 500).
400. Marriage Civil marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is of the age of 18 years or older:
(a) A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination. No person authorized by this subdivision, or his or her religious denomination, shall be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his, her, or its faith. Any refusal to solemnize a marriage under this subdivision shall not affect the tax exempt status of any entity.
The bill goes on to revise the rest of the law by replacing reference to “marriage” with “civil marriage.”
Officially this bill does nothing, but the symbolism is interesting. It says that the State of California isn’t interested in how your church defines marriage, only in the civil aspect. Further, it assures churches and clergy that they need not conduct any marriages that they don’t find appropriate to their faith, even though such assurances are unnecessary due to the US Constitution’s religious protections.
And the wing-nuts are furious.
You’d think that ensuring and emphasizing protection for clergy would be welcomed. But wing-nuts don’t want such protection; it distracts from their deceptive talking points. They want to be able to scare people into thinking that their church will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages and have discovered that most voters don’t really understand that the First Amendment already protects them. This revision would make it harder to lie.
As the Ruth Institute, the National Organization for Marriage’s college outreach, laments
The real intent behind this bill is to make it appear as though it eliminates one of the main objections to same-sex marriage, that it jeopardizes religious freedom, in what gay activists hope will be an effort to get gay marriage on the ballot in California in 2012. They think that doing this will make gay marriage seem more acceptable to the voters of California and make it easier for such an amendment to pass. The idea is that if this bill passes, they can claim that allowing same-sex marriage won’t have any affect on religious freedom.
And anything that makes it more difficult for NOM and their allies to deceive voters is a threat to their power. Going into a potential 2012 constitutional amendment to reverse Proposition 8 (assuming that this isn’t all resolved through Perry v. Schwarzenegger by then), they didn’t want to have to defend “civil marriage” or lose one of their biggest scare points.
The bill passed with support of virtually all Democrats along with two Republicans. It had previously passed the State Senate but will return for a concurrence vote before going to the governor for signature.

Via Himalaya Crafts: Buddha's Teachings

He wrote nothing, but challenged fundamental Hindu teachings and belief in gods and goddesses. He taught that a person gains enlightenment by following the "Middle Path" between selfindulgence and self-mortification.
Buddha summed up his teachings in the Four Noble Truths:

# Life consists of dukkha, which encompasses suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction, frustration, pain, and misery. All of life is sub-ject to change and decay.
# Dukkha is caused by a desire or craving (tanha) for material possessions or intellectual gratification, which does not last and is ultimately unsatisfactory.
# Escape from tanha (desire or craving) is essential for inner peace and tranquillity. By eliminating tanha, one eliminates dukkha (suffering, etc.)
# The path or way to escape from tanha is the Noble Eight-fold Path. These are not successive stages or steps to be followed in sequence, but should be practiced and realized simultaneously. The Noble Eight-fold Path consists of the following eight points:

  • Right Understanding: Believing the Four Noble Truths.
  • Right Intention: Renouncing worldly life.
  • Right Speech: Abstaining from lies, slander, abuse, and idle talk.
  • Right Conduct: Abstaining from killing, stealing, lying, committing adultery, and using intoxicants.
  • Right Occupation: Avoiding questionable occupations.
  • Right Endeavor: Striving for good and avoiding all that is evil or wicked.
  • Right Contemplation: Controlling one's mind so that emotions, including joy and sorrow, do not disturb one's calm.
  • Right Concentration: Developing the mind to heights beyond reason.

The goal of the Noble Eight-fold Path is nirvana, a term that is difficult, if not impossible, to define. The term literally means "extinction," as the flame of a candle is said to be extinguished. However, nirvana is not a state of total annihilation, except as an annihilation of tanha (desire or craving) and dukkha (suffering). Nirvana is not an intellectual concept referring to a place or state of existence.

Nirvana is enlightenment, an awareness beyond that which can be reached with the mind, senses and reason. It is the final, peaceful bliss.

Death does not mark the end of existence because nothing is permanent. Nothing is unchanging, eternal, or immortal, according to Buddhism.

The wheel is a well-known Buddhist symbol. As the wheel turns, so do the cycles of change. If anything is permanent in Buddhist thought, it is change.

A fundamental point of Buddhist thought is the anatman, or "no self." The Buddha rejected the Hindu teaching that the individual self or soul is really identical with Brahman, the impersonal Oversoul out of which all that exists has come. Buddhism rejects the Hindu idea that a soul is trapped in a body, but teaches that a person is made up of a "bundle" of five particles or "waves" which temporarily come together to form a "body." They are: form (the physical body), feelings, perceptions (transmitted by the sense organs), impulses, and consciousness. This bundle causes a person to falsely think of himself or herself as a separate individual self.

Since all of life is change, these waves eventually move apart and the "self" disappears. Buddhists talk of reincarnation, by which they mean these waves will eventually join together to form another "self." One can be reincarnated, if enlightenment is not achieved, in six lokas or places as non-human beings, humans, sub-deities, animals, hungry ghosts, or sent to hell, depending upon one's actions (karma) in this lifetime. The well-known book, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, speaks of events between death and reincarnation for all who do not achieve enlightenment. Still, Buddhists insist no "soul" or "self" is reincarnated into another body as in Hinduism. While rejecting Hinduism, popular Buddhism borrows ideas from Hinduism which causes an outsider to find inconsistencies within Buddhism.

Buddhism does not require an orthodox belief; a systematic theology such as is found in Christianity is absent in Buddhism.

Buddhists reject belief in a personal God, although Buddhists may borrow Hindu deities. In Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha is deified and seen as a savior.

Via HRC:

Joe's Weekly Message
Dear Daniel,
Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. As this summer leads into the 2010 election season, it's not difficult to find examples of our system being complicated, gritty, messy and sometimes devastating-and equal reminders of why it is better than anything else we have ever tried.
Thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, corporations may contribute to certain political committees. As you have read in our action alerts and in the news, Target and Best Buy recently donated large sums of money to a Minnesota group supporting a strongly anti-LGBT gubernatorial candidate. Before making this contribution, both companies had excellent records of support for the LGBT community, scoring 100% on the Corporate Equality Index. Target has since refused to right its wrong, and Best Buy has not responded to our call to remedy its action. 
What does this mean for our democracy? Well, for starters, a democracy is as good as the players in it-corporations or humans. These companies made the wrong choice; knowing our opponents, that contribution could go to a dishonest campaign full of scare tactics and attacks. 
Fortunately, that is not the last word. This week, we announced that we will devote $150,000 of our own resources to help elect a pro-equality governor and legislature in Minnesota. Victory in these elections could put marriage equality within reach in the North Star State.
Each campaign cycle becomes more expensive than the last. The cost of campaign ads drives fundraising higher and higher. In ballot measure campaigns, donors from across the nation often contribute. To ensure that the voting public has a clear understanding of who is behind each measure, many states have enacted disclosure laws. The laws don’t prevent anyone from exercising their free speech rights, but they do ensure that democracy is conducted in the light of day, and not by secret organizations lurking in the shadows. 
Although the public overwhelmingly supports knowing who is paying for the campaign ad that they’re watching, proponents of anti-LGBT ballot measures don’t. The so-called National Organization for Marriage, which contributed the majority of funds in the campaign to dismantle marriage equality in Maine, lost its challenge to Maine’s disclosure law. This ruling was yet another rebuke to NOM's efforts to undermine campaign disclosure laws that preserve democracy by letting the public know who is behind the ads and campaigns. 
Democracy is a competition among ideas and principles. If you believe in what you are asking someone to vote for, you can be honest. If you believe that people would vote with you if they knew who you were, then you could come out of the shadows. Our opponents' attempts to escape their obligation to be forthright speak more loudly than any ad that they finance. When Congress returns and as the campaign season moves forward, we will speak louder still.
Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese
President, Human Rights Campaign