One Equal World

Image: via Shutterstock.

Image: via Shutterstock.

It’s an exciting time in politics these days, with growing legislative support for same sex marriage. And some of that support is coming from what might seem like a surprising place–namely, the Republican party.

In fact, more than 300 big-name Republican lawmakers signed an amicus brief introduced in March that expressed support for marriage equality. Here’s a look at some of these supporters.

Ken Mehlman

A businessman, attorney, and former Chair of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman has spoken out for LGBT rights since 2013, when he launched a non-profit organization called Project Right Side, which focuses on getting more Republican party members to support marriage equality.

Mehlman is the brains behind this latest amicus, just as he was behind a similar 2013 effort that overturned California’s Proposition 8, which had banned same sex marriage in the state. He argues that one major reason Republicans should support marriage equality is because, as his amicus brief states, to refuse to allow same sex partners to marry is “inconsistent with…the properly limited role of government.” The amicus brief continues, “Although amici hold a broad spectrum of socially and politically conservative, moderate, and libertarian views, amici share the view that laws that bar same sex couples from the institution of civil marriage, with all its attendant profoundly important rights and responsibilities, are inconsistent with the United States Constitution’s dual promises of equal protection and due process.”

Susan Collins

Elected in 1996, Maine Senator Susan Collins is currently serving her fourth term in the US Senate. She focuses on bipartisan compromise in the areas of homeland security, national defense, disaster response, education, business development, and health care.

Her previous work with LGBT issues includes joining former Senator Joe Lieberman in the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Charlie Baker

The 72nd Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker served in the Weld and Cellucci Administrations in the 1990s, turning a billion dollar deficit into a surplus. His work led to the creation of half a million jobs and an education reform agenda for the state. He also served as the Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care from 1999 to 2009, during which time it was named one of the Boston Business Journal‘s Best Places to Work for seven years in a row. His focus is on making Massachusetts an inclusive, safe place for families to live.

Rudy Giuliani

The former Mayor of New York City is probably best known for his work prosecuting pivotal cases against the Italian Mafia in the 1980s and, of course, his leadership during and after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

While Giuliani previously came down in favor of civil unions and not same sex marriage, he has since changed his stance to support marriage, opposing a federal ban on gay marriage and supporting the recent amicus brief.

While the Supreme Court has started to hear arguments on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right, many of those who have struggled to accept the rapidly changing political and societal landscape are slowly coming around.

Same-sex marriage

56% of Republicans stated they would attend a same-sex wedding if invited.

Not everyone is so ready to get on board with marriage equality, of course. Rick Santorum recently stated he would never attend a friend or family member’s same-sex wedding. In reply, President Barack Obama now famously quipped at the White House Correspondent’s Gala, “to which gays and lesbians across the country responded, ‘that’s not going to be a problem. Don’t sweat that one.’”

The majority of Republicans in the 2016 race for the White House are opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage. However when questioned, nearly all of them stated they would attend the wedding of a same-sex couple. Those include Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and even former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that more than half of all Republicans in the U.S. would attend the same-sex wedding of a loved one. Of those Republicans who responded, 56% said they would attend if invited, and 68% of all Americans would attend. 13% stated they were unsure, and 19% stated no.

For Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, he stated while he hasn’t been to a wedding, he did attend a same-sex reception. “For a family member, Tonette and I and our family have already had a family member who’s had a reception. I haven’t been at a wedding. That’s true even though my position on marriage is still that it’s defined between a man and a woman, and I support the constitution of the state. But for someone I love, we’ve been at a reception,” he told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

This is a huge leap for many Republicans, who are feeling the pressure as opposing same-sex marriage grows more politically complicated.

Ken Mehlman, a openly gay Republican political strategist stated, “When people see couples who have married, they see love, they see more stability, they see more commitment and they see more compassionate care for people who are old and are sick and more stable homes where children are being raised.”

Said Frank Keating, former Oklahoma governor and an opponent of same-sex marriage, “The country has moved decidedly in the direction of gay unions. That doesn’t mean those of us who have always been of the view that marriage is between a man and a woman will not be heard. It’s just that things have changed, and this is an issue that has changed the dynamics of the conversation.”

*I recently started writing about some of my favorite LGBT superheroes and may have gotten a little carried away. Okay, a lot carried away. So, I’ve decided to split this blog into two parts. I hope you enjoy it!

LGBT love

Awesome LGBT Superheroes

We currently live in an age of revival for superheroes. From the widely popular Christopher Nolan Batman movies, to installment after installment in the captivating Marvel Cinematic Universe, superheroes and comic books are becoming more popular in the mainstream.

Unlike the Silver Age of comics that many think of when they think of comic books, comic books are becoming much better in terms of inclusivity, adding women, people of color, and LGBT characters to their stories with higher frequency—and writing them as fully fleshed-out characters as well, instead of crude stereotypes.

Inspired by Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron’s impending release in theaters across the US, let’s dive in and learn about 2 more LGBT comic book superheroes, in order of appearance.

Miss America (America Chavez)

First appearance: Vengence #1, July 2011

Much like with Batwoman, Miss America has a long history before becoming an LGBT character. Miss America’s first appearance occurred in November of 1943 in Marvel Mystery Comics #49. Madeline Joyce, Miss America’s alter ego, was straight and even married

However, that all changed in 2011 when Marvel announced a new Miss America, a Latina teenager named America Chaves. Among her powers are super strength, durability, and the power of flight. In Vengeance #15, she revealed offhandedly to the team that she in not heterosexual, and even writes off her one-time kiss with the male teen superhero Ultimate Nullifier as experimentation.

Bunker

First appearance: Teen Titans vol. 4 #1, November 2011

Bunker, whose alter ego is Miguel Jose Barragan, first appeared in volume 4 of Teen Titans as part of the DC Comics relaunch The New 52. Bunker has the ability to create energy constructs with his mind, often choosing to create brick-like walls and pummeling fists. He can use these as platforms to levitate him and his allies.

What is unique about Bunker is that he never hid or downplayed his homosexuality. For a time, this caused some fans to view Bunker as a stereotype, though he has since become a more developed and well-rounded character.

Who is your favorite superhero, real or fictional? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

*I recently started writing about some of my favorite LGBT superheroes and may have gotten a little carried away. Okay, a lot carried away. So, I’ve decided to split this blog into two parts. I hope you enjoy it!

We currently live in an age of revival for superheroes. From the widely popular Christopher Nolan Batman movies, to installment after installment in the captivating Marvel Cinematic Universe, superheroes and comic books are becoming more popular in the mainstream.

Unlike the Silver Age of comics that many think of when they think of comic books, comic books are becoming much better in terms of inclusivity, adding women, people of color, and LGBT characters to their stories with higher frequency—and writing them as fully fleshed-out characters as well, instead of crude stereotypes.

Inspired by Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron’s impending release in theaters across the US, let’s dive in and learn about 3 LGBT comic book superheroes, in order of appearance.

Union Jack

First appearance: The Invaders #21, July 1976

Union Jack is quite possibly the first, chronologically speaking, homosexual Marvel Comics superhero. The first Union Jack was James Montgomery Falsworth, who first appeared in The Invaders #7. However, he was eventually replaced by Brian Falsworth, appearing in The Invaders #18 as the Destroyer, and becoming Union Jack in The Invaders #21.

Brian’s Union Jack has enhanced peak human conditioning, is a superb athlete, an expert in hand-to-hand combat, and has the ability to project bolts of magical lightning.

Interestingly enough, the origin of Brian Falsworth’s powers might sound familiar. In the late 1930s, Brian and his lover Roger visit Germany, supporting peace between it and the UK amidst the beginnings of World War II. After discovering the evil nature of the Nazi regime, Brian is thrown in Jail and Roger is given to German scientists. With the assistance of a German scientist, Brian gains his superpowers through the same Super Soldier Formula that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America!

Tasmanian Devil

First appearance: Super Friends #7, October 1977

The Tasmanian Devil is a supernaturally large and intelligent representation of the animal bearing the same name—Hugh Dawkins is the name of the metahuman who can turn into The Tasmanian Devil (if you’re confused, think Bruce Banner’s relationship to the Hulk.)

In Justice League Quarterly #8, Hugh Dawkins is revealed to be an openly gay character. He has previously had a crush on Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), was romantically interested in Justice League liaison Joshua Barbizon, and dates Starman, Mikaal Thomas—a superhero himself.

Batwoman

First appearance: 52 #7, June 2006

Batwoman, and her alter ego Kathy Kane, have appeared in comics as early as 1956. However, Kate Kane as a lesbian character first appeared in the 52 series in 2006. Unlike previous versions of Batwoman, who were all attracted to Batman, the new Batwoman revealed that she was romantically involved with Renee Montoya, a former Gotham City Police detective who eventually took up the mantle of The Question.

According to DC Comics Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Dan DiDio said about the decision to make Batwoman a lesbian:

“It was from conversations we’ve had for expanding the DC Universe, for looking at levels of diversity. We wanted to have a cast that is much more reflective of today’s society and even today’s fan base. One of the reasons we made her gay is that, again when you have the Batman Family—a series of characters that aren’t’ super-powered and inhabit the same circle and the same city—you really want to have a point of difference. It was really important to me to make sure every character felt unique.”

Who is your favorite superhero, real or fictional? Let us know in the comments section below!

Ever since the United States Supreme Court announced that it would review the freedom to marry back in January, gay and lesbian people and their allies have been waiting anxiously for April 28 to arrive. Very soon, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether anti-marriage laws nationwide should be struck down as unconstitutional, and its verdict could change the course of history for gay and lesbian people in America forever.

If the Supreme Court rules that anti-marriage laws are in fact unconstitutional, it will mean that all same-sex couples will finally have the freedom to marry in the United States. Naturally, this has been a very encouraging prospect for marriage equality activists, and as the opening arguments date draws closer, the fight for marriage equality has never felt so momentous.

Everyone from authors to athletes to politicians and public figures have weighed in on marriage equality over the last few years, and many have predicted its inevitability. From a legal standpoint, even lawyers in conservative states like Miami, Florida-based attorney Kendall Coffey have been anticipating the certainty of marriage equality for Gay Marriagesome time now. “Same-sex marriage is unstoppable,” Coffey surmised back in a 2013 segment on Newsmax.

Now, these early conjectures have never felt more significant as support for marriage equality in America continues to grow. Freedom To Marry recently reported that on Friday, April 17, plaintiffs in the marriage cases that will soon be heard before the Supreme Court filed their reply briefs, explaining why marriage matters. This filing of reply briefs brings us just one step closer to the oral arguments scheduled for later this month.

Freedom To Marry also points out the overall significance of the Supreme Court intervention, explaining, “The national strategy to win marriage for same-sex couples has always focused on a final victory at the U.S. Supreme Court. In the past year alone, there have been 65 rulings in favor of marriage for same-sex couples – clearly demonstrating that the country is read and that the age-old arguments against the freedom to marry simply don’t survive judicial review.”

April 28 marks a historic day in the lives of gay and lesbian people in America. For more information about what to expect from the upcoming Supreme Court hearing, be sure to check out this excellent resource from Freedom To Marry.

According to Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT People of Color, a report released this past Thursday, non-white LGBT individuals are more likely to be economically insecure than their white counterparts (or non-LGBT white individuals). The report suggests the most likely reasons for this are discrimination and the lack of legal protection faced by this community.

LGBT Triumphs of 2013

The report, authored by the Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project, estimates that 3 million American adults identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people of color. And while many non-white LGBT individuals face issues of poverty, the situation is most dire for transgendered people.

“Disproportionate numbers of LGBT people of color live in places that lack any explicit state-level protections for LGBT people,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project. “This means that LGBT people of color face a high risk of economic harm from anti-LGBT laws.”

The statistics are rather bleak. Black Americans who are part of same-sex couples are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as those in opposite-sex marriages. The average unemployment rate among the general LGBT population in the US is around 8%, but it’s at 15% for those who are black, 14% for those who are Latino, and 11% for those who are Asian or Pacific Islander.

Even so, these demographics have it better than transgendered individuals when it comes to poverty: 28% of trans Latinos, 18% of trans Asian or Pacific Islanders, and 34% of trans black people live in extreme poverty with annual household incomes of $10,000 or less.

Though the federal Civil Rights Act protects against workplace discrimination when it comes to “sex,” that’s not enough to help LGBT individuals, who often earn less and face other kinds of discrimination in the workplace, leading to increased poverty. Only 19 states protect against employment discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity; in the rest of the country, LGBT individuals can be fired on that basis.

The report argues for more studies and better laws, both at the state and federal level, to protect these communities and provide them with the same rights and opportunities as anyone else in the United States.

This week, more than 300 veteran Republican lawmakers, consultants, and operatives came together to sign an amicus brief at the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage. The amicus brief, also known as a “friend of the court brief,” was organized by prominent Republican political consultant Ken Mehlman.

Gay MarriageEarlier this year, the United States Supreme Court announced that it would hear oral arguments in a case challenging the ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. According to TIME, the amicus brief was filed for “the four same-sex marriage cases the Court will hear on April 28 that could legalize unions nationwide,” as an initiative to persuade the court to rule in favor of the freedom to marry. TIME also points out that Mehlman headed a similar effort to overturn California’s Proposition 8 – a state constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage – in 2013.

Many prominent Republicans came forward to sign the amicus brief as a showing of political solidarity on the issue of marriage equality. Republican signatories include former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, GOP billionaire David Koch, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, and Senators Susan Collins and Mark Kirk. As of March 5, the list of signatories had reached 303.

The fact that so many influential Republicans have come forward to support marriage equality is truly encouraging; hopefully the amicus brief will aid the fight for marriage equality in what many are considering a historic Supreme Court hearing.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality after the April 28 hearing, this would make it possible for same-sex couples across the rest of the country to wed. “The decision by the justices is potentially historic and could add to the rulings and other actions that now make it legal for gay couples to marry in 37 states and the District of Columbia,” writes Catalina Camia for USA Today.

It is projected that the Supreme Court justices will deliver a nationwide ruling on the issue of marriage equality by June 2015.

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