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What Was It Like to Be at the Supreme Court When the Marriage Equality Judgement Was Announced?

What was it like at the Supreme Court when the marriage equality judgment was announced?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Answer by Stephanie Vardavas

I arrived at the Supreme Court building at about 9:25 and waded directly into the crowd. It was a big crowd. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of people. The mood was very festive. Many people had brought their kids and even their little dogs. People were reasonably confident of a positive decision but still a little wary. Everyone was friendly and animated. People were handing out little flags from the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU, "Proud to be a Democrat" stickers, signs that read "America is Ready," and rainbow buttons with President Obama on them. Chatted with the woman next to me, who had brought her teenaged daughter. She said she was from "the reddest, most horrible part of Michigan, but I hope soon that won't matter anymore."

There was a lot of jovial speculation about what Justice Scalia's dissent might be like.

MSNBC estimated at least a 10:1 ratio between supporters and opponents of same sex marriage in the crowd. I would peg it at more like 20:1 or even 25:1 or 30:1. There was one guy in a black t-shirt covered with Biblical references to Sodom and Gomorrah. The vast majority of the crowd were gay rights supporters who were there in the hope of seeing justice done. Several of them were Christians with colorful signs proclaiming their support for marriage equality.


In addition to the two above I saw other people with signs that said things like "I'm an Evangelical for Marriage Equality."

There was a guy with a giant homemade sign collage proclaiming that the wages of sin are death, and that HIV/AIDS are God's wrath. There were a few other "Christian" demonstrators but they disappeared relatively quickly after the decision came out.

A minute or two after 10 am we saw "the running of the interns" carrying copies of the decision and dissents to the various TV reporters waiting at their setups on the sidewalk. At about this time somebody who had been able to load SCOTUSblog on his phone started shouting, "We won! 5 to 4!" Everyone started cheering and hugging.

I was standing next to about 20 guys in identical blue t-shirts, who turned out to be the DC Gay Men's Chorus, and just a minute or two later they began to sing the national anthem. Everyone around me joined in. We were all singing the national anthem and by the end of it I was crying like a baby. I am almost 59 years old and in my whole life I have never been prouder to be an American.

Gay Men's Chorus of Washington

They followed it up with a wonderful song called "Make Them Hear You," about fighting for justice. I cried some more.


I started wandering around, listening to snippets of the various standup reports being done by the TV news people, taking pictures for groups of people who wanted to get pictures with the Supreme Court building in the background. I was interviewed by a reporter and cameraperson from ThinkProgress and while I haven't seen the video I believe I was reasonably coherent, although I'm sure my eyes were still full. I'll post it here if I ever find it online.

The Gay Men's Chorus started singing again. They repeated the national anthem and "Make Them Hear You," then added "The Impossible Dream," which was incredibly moving, and then they sang some modified lyrics to "We Shall Overcome." "We shall marry free / we shall marry free / we shall marry free today..."

I never got close enough to hear any of the remarks by the plaintiffs, their counsel, or the lawyers representing the other side. But we had set our TiVo to record MSNBC from 10 am till noon, and I was able to watch that after I got back.

This decision was exceptionally meaningful for me because my old friend Evan Wolfson is the godfather of the marriage equality movement. He is the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, and spoke today on MSNBC about his plan to unwind the organization now that it has achieved its objective.  We've been friends for almost 40 years and I'm so proud of him that I could burst.

Stephanie Vardavas' answer to Who is your favorite LGBT person and why?

tl;dr It was amazing.







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03
Jul
2015

I Live With My Ex-Wife And Her New Wife — And Our Kids Are Better For It

As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight a different stepfamily to learn how they've worked to bring their two families together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we'll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!

After their separation, Ben Rollman and his ex-wife Cheryl decided to remain in the same home so they could continue to raise their kids together. When Cheryl fell in love with her new partner Clair, the household gained a new member.

"It's all three parents and two kids under one roof," Rollman, who lives in Austin, Texas, told The Huffington Post. "People actually get on me for not writing a book about this but I keep telling them it'd be a really boring book about how everyone gets along."

Below, Rollman tells us more about his family's unique living arrangement.

Hi Ben. Please introduce us to your family.
There's five of us: Myself, my ex-wife Cheryl, her new wife Clair and our kids Rowan (14) and Gregory (11).

How long were you married to Cheryl? What was it like for you when she moved on with Clair?
We were married nine years before Cheryl officially said she couldn't live as a straight woman any longer. (When I met her, she was dating a woman so I already knew she was bisexual.) We agreed to stay together to raise the kids. We finalized our divorce about four years after our split and she's been with her wife now for five years. The divorce and moving on was a little rough at first because it's the end of a relationship, but Cheryl and I were still friends. Keeping that relationship going was important and helped us both get past the end of the romantic part of it.

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(Photo courtesy of Ben Rollman)


What went into the decision to move in together -- and how have you made it work as parents?
When Cheryl and I decided to split up, I was worried I'd have to lose my kids. My parents are divorced and I didn't want to put my kids through the same thing my brother and I went through. My dad would see us twice a week and then every other weekend and I just hated it. I love my dad and the shuttling back and forth wasn't something I wanted to subject my kids to. Luckily, we had extra room so we decided to just remain co-parents.

Then Cheryl met Clair. They were married in New York a few years ago and Clair actually bought the house we all live in now. For us, this is just a matter of doing the same things all parents do. We make it work like anyone else: You wake up, you work, you go to school, you buy groceries, you go to movies. Family life isn't much different than it is for other families -- we just raise the kids with three parents.

That's what it's been like for the last five years. I'm actually moving in with my girlfriend this weekend, but we found a house just a few houses down from where I was. We're setting things up so the kids can come over anytime!

What have been some of the biggest challenges of living together?
One of the problems was dating again. When Cheryl and I began dating other people, we made sure serious partners knew and understood our parenting relationship. But as much as people say our situation is very positive and unique, it was hard finding someone to date. It's a great setup for the kids but not a lot of people want to be instantly added to a large family. (Interestingly enough, my longest relationship up to this point was with the sister of a woman Cheryl dated for a while.)

Another issue we have to deal with is how we introduce ourselves to our children's friends and their parents. Austin is pretty open-minded but we're still in Texas. That means a lot of testing people out before letting them know more about us.

Then of course, there's the usual problems: The kids try to play parents off one another, as kids tend to do, but it becomes a little more complicated with three parents. We have constant meetings to make sure the kids aren't trying to get away with something and that nothing is overlooked!

What's the best thing about being part of a blended family? What makes you proudest of your family?
For the most part, I like coming home. There's always someone there, there's always someone to talk to or be with. I think we are a stronger and more tolerant group because of how we live. I'm proud of us all for doing it as long as we have, but I'm mostly proud of my kids. They are wonderful, smart, caring, talented individuals who I feel have it better because we stayed together.

What advice do you have for other blended families who feel like a peaceful family dynamic is out of reach?
I sometimes feel that anyone in any type of family who cares at all is doing the right thing. Any focus you give you kids or your partner or your co-parents is better than nothing. For us, the trick has just been to get through each day and recognize that we're going through the same challenges that any other family faces.



Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Divorce on Facebook.

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03
Jul
2015

Pop Culture Highs And Lows Of 2015 Thus Far

We were pretty bored around the midway point last year, but 2015 has given us more than enough to celebrate (and condemn). It's been a wild six months, and pop culture is no exception. Our list of the peaks and troughs ranges from a heroic coming out and a record-smashing TV debut to an embattled comedian who just won't go away and a divorce that leaves our hearts gone, baby, gone.

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03
Jul
2015

21 LGBTQ-Related Netflix Titles To Keep The Pride Going

Last week, the nation celebrated the Supreme Court's historic decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Keep the pride going this holiday weekend with these LGBTQ-related titles, available on Netflix.

This list is subject to change. The Huffington Post will attempt to keep it as current as possible.

"You Will Be Mine"
Netflix summary: Emma fascinates, dominates and devastates her childhood friend and roommate Marie, who is torn between her desire for Emma and the urge to Escape.

"Grace and Frankie
Netflix summary: Grace and Frankie are stunned when their husbands inform them that they want divorces. They're even more stunned when they find out why.

"Blue Is the Warmest Color"
Netflix summary: Determined to fall in love, 15-year-old Adele is focused on boys. But it's a blue-haired girl she meets on the street who really piques her interest.

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"Boys"
Netflix summary: While training for an important sporting event, teen athletes Sieger and Marc strike up a friendship that soon develops into something more passionate.

"Better Than Chocolate"
Netflix summary: Scant hours before her uptight mother and brother move in with her, Maggie meets the woman of her dreams and must hide her sexual orientation.

"Bloomington"
Netflix summary: Ex-child actor Jackie goes to college and falls for an engaging female professor who has a reputation for breaking the hearts of other women.

"Chasing Amy"
Netflix summary: Comic book artist Holden meets the perfect woman, only to learn that she's a lesbian. But that doesn't stop him from falling in love with her.

"The L Word"
Netflix summary: After moving in next door to longtime couple Bette and Tina, talented young writer Jenny intermingles with their circle of lesbian friends.

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"Orange Is the New Black"
Netflix summary: Piper must trade her comfortable New York life for an orange prison jumpsuit when her decade-old relationship with a drug runner catches up with her.

"C.O.G."
Netflix summary: Based on a short story by David Sedaris, this comedy follows the brash young author as he travels to Oregon to work on an apple farm.

"Eating Out"
Netflix summary: Caleb pretends he is gay to attract Gwen, who relates better to gay men than to straight ones. But the plan soon backfires in this comedy of errors.

"Out Late"
Netflix summary: This inspirational documentary profiles five individuals who came out as lesbian, gay or transgender after the age of 55.

"Beginners"
Netflix summary: This absorbing drama follows a graphic artist as he comes to grips with the imminent death of his father, who, at 75, has one last secret: He's gay.



"Rent"
Netflix summary: Based on Puccini's opera "La Boheme," this musical follows a group of scrappy bohemians who face true love, drug addiction and AIDS in New York City.

"The Kids Are All Right"
Netflix summary: The children of same-sex partners become curious about the identity of their sperm-donor dad and set out to make him part of their family unit.

"Bridegroom"
Netflix summary: This timely documentary tells the story of Shane Bitney Crone, who finds himself without marriage's legal protections when his same-sex partner dies.

"A Single Man"
Netflix summary: This stream-of-consciousness drama centers on a day in the life of a gay college professor who's reeling from his longtime lover's recent death.

singleman

"The Circle"
Netflix summary: A naive teacher and a transvestite cabaret artist fall in love but face social and legal victimization in the intolerant climate of 1950s Zurich.

"The Way He Looks"
Netflix summary: A new classmate transforms the daily life of a blind teenager who longs for independence and disrupts his relationship with his best friend.

"Stranger by the Lake"
Netflix summary: Franck notices Henri sitting alone on a beach and starts a conversation that continues for days -- in between Franck's trysts with a seductive killer.

"Yossi & Jagger"
Netflix summary: While preparing for an ambush, a company commander and his platoon leader fall in love, carefully hiding their relationship from their comrades.

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03
Jul
2015

No, Gay Marriage Wasn’t a Conservative Win

Conservative Michael Gerson damns the Supreme Court as an "unrepresentative clique of lawyers," while also trying to pretend gay people want to marry because conservatives convinced them sexual liberation was wrong.

According to Gerson, the gay community fought for marriage because

public intellectuals such as Jonathan Rauch and Andrew Sullivan... urged gays to embrace the conventional, bourgeois practice of marriage. What had seemed to many Americans a sexual liberationist movement requested access to the institution designed to limit sexual freedom for the sake of social order and effective child-rearing (while delivering joys that arise only out of commitment).


Most gay people will be surprised, because relatively few have heard of Rauch and Sullivan. Rauch seems more libertarian than conservative and Sullivan has no consistent viewpoint other than admiration for Sullivan. It just isn't true that a couple of "public intellectuals" changed the community, nor is it true there is a conflict between the sexual liberation of the early gay rights movement and marriage.

Sexual liberation for gays was first and foremost about decriminalizing homosexuality. It would be ludicrous to spend much time worrying about marriage when your mere existence was a crime in most states. This is not to say the gay community didn't discuss the marriage issue; some gay couples sought the right to marry soon after homosexuality was decriminalized.

That conservatives such as Gerson didn't notice it, doesn't mean it didn't happen. Gay couples have been fighting for the right to marry for decades; it isn't some new fad. It was happening before any "public intellectual" was willing to take a stand on the issue.

Only after homosexuality was decriminalized could same-sex couples settle down with the security of knowing they wouldn't be arrested merely for loving someone. Once liberation came, people were free to seek relationships without threat of incarceration. That is precisely what they did. This is not to say gay couples never had done so before, but being open in the past was a risky affair at best.

As these couples, accustomed to fighting for their rights, experienced a relationship, they discovered the state was still inhibiting and harming gay people. They learned the hard way that the inability to marry could inflict real damage, so they fought back.

When their beloved was hospitalized they found themselves excluded because they weren't family. When a medical decision had to be made they discovered distant relatives could make that decision, but they couldn't. Some even found that when their spouse died they weren't even allowed to claim the body for burial. They were legal strangers.

When Patrick Atkins had a stroke and was incapacitated, his lover of 25 years, Brett Conrad, rushed to his side. So did Patrick's anti-gay mother. She banned Conrad from the hospital. She claimed custodial rights as next of kin, something Brett couldn't do. She took Patrick away so Brett couldn't see him. She confiscated Patrick's business, bank accounts and the house he and Brett had shared, evicting Brett.

When Conrad fought for his partner in the courts the judge sympathized but said his hands were tied because the couple was not allowed to marry.

I remember my moment of enlightenment on marriage rights. I was living overseas and in a committed relationship. After three armed attacks I had to leave. I could return to the U.S., but my partner could not come with me. Had we been allowed to marry, there would have been an option. The law left us none.

In the reality of day-to-day living, gay couples saw the results of not being allowed to marry. They tried to create patches through private contracts, but found that option unaffordable. Even those patches were no guarantee. Law gives presumptions to families. Marriage hands those presumptions to your family of choice -- your spouse. Wills can be challenged by family arguing "undue influence."

Some couples brought with them children from previous relationships, or that one of them adopted. They might be together for years when one dies, and the other discovers he has no parental rights to the child he was parenting. The kids could be packed up and sent off to some distant relative they've never met.

Gay people started demanding marriage because "patches" didn't work. Government was impeding the well-being of their relationship by forbidding equal access to the protections of marriage. They demanded marriage because of real-life experiences, not the writings of public intellectuals.

Public intellectuals added to the debate, but didn't sway the LGBT community from "sexual liberation" to marriage. Sexual liberation merely allowed gays to form relationships and the natural progress is to seek long-term or permanent relationships. Gay couples discovered all sorts of legal problems marriage would have solved for them. They started demanding marriage because practical experiences taught them the alternative wasn't a good one.

As someone who has followed the debate within the LGBT community, something Gerson never did, I saw the issue evolve because of practical experiences of gay couples. Public intellectuals were pretty much inconsequential in that evolution.

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03
Jul
2015

Hilary Swank Discusses ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ And The ‘Beautiful’ Progress Of LGBT Rights

Back in 1999, Hilary Swank's portrayal of real-life transgender man Brandon Teena became one of the first mainstream depictions of a largely marginalized sector of the LGBT community. Nearly 16 years later, the Oscar-winning actress marvels at how far America has come in recognizing and supporting those who aren't afraid to be who they are and love who they love.

Swank dropped by HuffPost Live on Thursday to discuss her work with Duracell to honor the sacrifices made by military families, which she knows well as the daughter of an Air Force father. During the conversation, host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani asked about the dichotomy between the era of "Boys Don't Cry" and now, when high-profile trans Americans like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox are on magazine covers and same-sex marriage is legal nationwide.

The actress said she was at home when she heard the Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage, and she had an emotional, joyful reaction.

"I broke into tears. It's been a really long time coming, and it's just such a beautiful moment for everybody," Swank said.

She added that her role in "Boys Don't Cry" and her long relationship with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a New York City center for LGBT youth, has made it easier to identify with people of all sexual orientations and gender expressions.

"With the work that I've done, just scratching the surface and walking in someone's shoes who lived that life, it gives you a little bit of a deeper understanding of what the world is like for some other people, and to celebrate our differences is a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful thing," she said.

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with Hilary Swank here.


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03
Jul
2015

‘Brothers’ Web Series Premieres Its Second Season

It's not often that you see authentic portrayals of the diverse experiences of trans masculine men.

For this reason, we're big fans of the web series "Brothers," which released the first episode of its second season this week. We brought you news about the first season in 2014, and continued to fall in love with these characters and their stories as time went on.

"Brothers" follows Jack, Davyn, Aiden and Max, four transgender and trans masculine men leading complicated, intersecting lives. In an attempt to honestly and authentically portray stories that the transgender community can connect with, all transgender roles in this web series are played by trans actors.

Check out the first episode of season one above. "Brothers" is currently raising funds in order to shoot the rest of the season -- head here for more information.

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03
Jul
2015

Randy And Phillip’s Story From RaiseAChild.US ‘The Let Love Define Family’ Series

As they say, everything’s bigger in Texas! In today’s Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US “Let Love Define Family™” series installment, contributing writer Beth Hallstrom shares the story of a gay couple, their adopted children, and the village of loving friends they’ve enlisted as their extended family.

Call it fate, kismet, or even providence, the journey of Randy Noble and Phillip Mueller of Cedar Park, TX, from single guys to devoted Dads, was marked with many signs that their happy family of four was destined to be.

Randy, 39, an occupational therapist who manages the rehabilitation department of a skilled nursing facility, and 38-year old Phillip, an actuary, married in 2010 after meeting on Match.com five years before. Each knew the other was "the one" on their first date, although, Randy said, "We won't talk about all the fails before we found each other."

They also acknowledged on that first date that family was very important to both of them.

"One of the first things we talked about was having a family. We had both pretty much given up on the idea of kids because we were around 30 and still unattached but, after we were together for a while, we began talking seriously about adopting," Randy explained.

Randy and Phillip initiated the adoption process in June, 2012 through Pathways Youth and Family Services. Fate stepped in again with an email from their Pathways caseworker.

"We were matched with these kids even before we were certified. The subject line of the email read, 'I know you're not licensed yet, but...,' and there was a flyer attached with their photos and we looked at each other and said ‘Oh my God, those are our kids!’"

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They were three siblings, little brother Adrian, then nine, sister Jovanna, then 11, and an older sister who was 14 at the time.

"We took it as a sign," Randy said. "We both come from three-kid families. We are the youngest and both have two older sisters. It just felt right.”

They finally had their storybook ending -- almost.

"The first time we met the kids at their foster home, the older sister was a little standoffish and we figured that was normal for a teenager. Then, they came to spend the weekend with us and were told that at the end of the weekend, each of them could choose to stay or go. The younger two said they wanted to stay but their sister said, "no," Randy explained.

"She absolutely did not want to be adopted and dug in her heels, believing that things would change with her biological family and she would be able go home, " he continued. "She wouldn't let go of them. The last we heard of her, she was in juvenile detention.”

"The older sister tried to sway her younger siblings not to stay with us. But, Adrian and Jovanna said they always wanted a family and they didn't give up on that. They told us they were choosing us to be their family," he said.

Randy said it was a dark time for the fledgling family, but Adrian and Jovanna came to terms with their sister's decision not to join them. Jovanna, especially, had a difficult time but eventually told her Dads, "She made her choice and I've made mine."

"She is a brave, mature girl and we are very proud of her. They are both such wonderful kids. We're sorry their sister chose the path she did, but at least we could help the two of them," Randy noted.

But fate wasn't through with the Noble-Mueller family. After Jovanna turned thirteen, she came out as a lesbian to her fathers, who had long-suspected their daughter's sexuality.

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Randy explained, "She told us she knew she liked girls since first grade and we said, ‘Yeah, we know.’ She was crying and asked what was wrong with her and we told her absolutely nothing. She looked at us and said she felt so much lighter. The weight of the world was off her shoulders.

"She said she didn't know why she was so worried about telling us she is gay. Who better to understand than two gay men? She is so happy now. She blossomed and she can be herself. It makes my heart smile to see her so happy. What a great time for her to grow up. She's going through all the normal teenage crap but she has a girlfriend, so it's with the right gender. She can work it all out now, unlike me, who dated girls and didn't come out until I was twenty. Then I had to go through it all over again."

It seems Adrian and Jovanna, who will be twelve and fourteen, respectively, in July, and their Dads got their happily-ever-after ending. Both kids are happy, busy teens doing well in school and reveling in the large, extended group of friends and family that surround them.

"They are both so open and loving. Adrian is turning out to be quite a comedian -- he jokes about being the only straight person in our family," Randy said.

"Adrian and Jovanna are definitely being raised in that ‘it-takes-a-village method.’ Phil is from this area and still friends with people from his grade school. We have such a feeling of family. Everybody knows everybody's parents and our group has straight couples, lesbian couples, families with children and families without children. It's great for our kids to see so many different types of families.

"We go to t-ball and band concerts and they are close with their three cousins who live nearby,” Randy adds. “Adrian and Jovanna were in foster care for four and a half years. Now they are surrounded by so much love and family. It makes up for all that lost time."

RaiseAChild.US is the nationwide leader in the recruitment and support of LGBT and all prospective parents interested in building families through fostering and adopting to meet the needs of the 400,000 children in the foster care system. RaiseAChild.US recruits, educates, and nurtures supportive relationships equally with all prospective foster and adoptive parents while partnering with agencies to improve the process of advancing foster children to safe, loving and permanent homes. For information about how you can become a foster or adoptive parent, please visit www.RaiseAChild.US.

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03
Jul
2015

George Takei Calls Justice Clarence Thomas A ‘Clown In Blackface’ Over Marriage Equality Dissent

George Takei has come under fire this week for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “clown in blackface” over the judge's stance on marriage equality. However, the “Star Trek” actor insists that his comment was not racially motivated.

During an interview with Fox 10 Phoenix, Takei, who is gay, discussed the Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Takei said he was “angry” at Thomas, who dissented to the decision, for his position on the issue.

“He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court,” said Takei. “He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there.”

In his dissent, Thomas, who is black, wrote that “human dignity cannot be taken away by the government,” adding: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”

Takei, whose family was held inside a Japanese internment camp during World War II, took issue with this logic.

“For him to say slaves have dignity, I mean, doesn’t he know that slaves were in chains? That they were whipped on the back?” Takei said. “My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives, in their 30s. His business, my father’s business, our home, our freedom and we’re supposed to call that dignified?… This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”

In the wake of the interview, Takei has been slammed for what has been called a "racist" comment -- an accusation that the 78-year-old fiercely rejects.

On Thursday, he wrote on Facebook:

A few fans have written wondering whether I intended to utter a racist remark by referring to Justice Thomas as a "clown...

Posted by George Takei on Thursday, July 2, 2015





Takei elaborated on his thoughts in a op-ed for MSNBC.




“To say that the government does not bestow or grant dignity does not mean it cannot succeed in stripping it away through the imposition of unequal laws and deprivation of due process. At the very least, the government must treat all its subjects with equal human dignity,” he wrote. “It seems odd that Justice Thomas, as an African American, would be an opponent of marriage equality. His own current marriage, if he had sought to have it some fifty years ago, would have been illegal under then-existing anti-miscegenation laws. I cannot help but wonder if Justice Thomas would have felt any loss of dignity had the clerk’s office doors been shut in his face, simply because he was of a different race than his fiancée.”




Thomas is married to attorney Virginia Thomas, who is white.




William Shatner, who has been known to “feud” with Takei online, defended his “Star Trek” co-star on Twitter.






In October 2008, a few months after California became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage (and a few weeks before Proposition 8 made it illegal again), Takei and his longtime partner Brad Altman tied the knot in Los Angeles.

The couple have been together for almost 30 years.

Watch Takei's interview with Fox 10 below:

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03
Jul
2015

Oregon Bakery Fined For Refusing To Make Wedding Cake For Lesbian Couple

The owners of an Oregon bakery must pay a $135,000 fine for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, a state official ruled on Thursday.

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian agreed with a preliminary ruling that Sweet Cakes by Melissa illegally discriminated against a Portland couple in 2013 by turning down their request based on their sexual orientation, The Oregonian reported.

A judge had ordered owners Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Crye and another $60,000 to her wife, Laurel Bowman-Cryer.

The Kleins had argued it was against their Christians beliefs to participate in a same-sex marriage. Supporters raised money for them earlier this year after an administrative law judge imposed the penalty.

The Bowman-Cryers, through their attorney Paul Thompson, said in a statement they were glad Avakian sent "a clear message that discrimination will simply not be tolerated in our state."

"This has been a terrible ordeal for our entire family. We never imagined finding ourselves caught up in a fight for social justice," they said.

"We endured daily, hateful attacks on social media, received death threats and feared for our family's safety, yet our goal remained steadfast. We were determined to ensure that this kind of blatant discrimination never happened to another couple, another family, another Oregonian," the statement continued. "Everyone deserves to be treated as an equal member of society."

An email to HuffPost, the bakery said the decision was wrong, adding, "Americans should tolerate diverse opinions, not use the government to punish fellow citizens with different views. This case has become a poster for an overpowered elected official using his position to root out thought and speech with which he personally disagrees."

The owners vowed in a Facebook post to appeal the decision:

"The final ruling has been made today. We have been charged with $135,000 in emotional damages, But also now Aaron has been charged with advertising. (Basically talking about not wanting to participate in a same-sex wedding) This effectively strips us of all our first amendment rights. According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. We will NOT give up this fight, and we will NOT be silenced. We stand for God's truth, God's word and freedom for ALL americans. We are here to obey God not man, and we will not conform to this world. If we were to lose everything it would be totally worth it for our Lord who gave his one and only son, Jesus, for us! God will win this fight.


The Sweet Cakes website features quotations from Biblical passages, such as, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" from the book of Proverbs. It also explicitly states the bakery is interested in baking for weddings between a man and a woman.

"We here at Sweet Cakes strongly believe that when a man and woman come together to be joined as one, it is truly one of the most special days of their lives," the homepage said. "We feel truely [sic] honored when we are chosen to do the cake for your special day."

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03
Jul
2015