NOW President Toni Van Pelt Addresses Supreme Court Rally for LGBT Rights

Toni Van Pelt spoke this morning at a rally organized by the ACLU legal team on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Source: NOW President Toni Van Pelt Addresses Supreme Court Rally for LGBT Rights | National Organization for Women

Controversial judge orders baby removed from same-sex parents and placed with heterosexual family

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce have been fostering a Utah infant for three months. With the approval of the infant’s biological mother and a recommendation of the foster care caseworker, they were seeking to permanently adopt the child. Instead, a Utah judge ordered the baby removed from their home and placed in a home with heterosexual parents:

The women, who are legally married and were approved as foster parents in Utah earlier this year after passing home inspections, background checks and interviews from DCFS, said the judge told them there was a lot of research that indicated children who are raised in same-sex parent homes do not do as well as children who are raised by heterosexual parents.

“It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong,” said April.

Worse yet, when Judge Scott Johansen was asked in court to share the studies he was referencing, he refused:

Attorney Mandie Torgerson, who represents the baby’s biological mother, said Johansen did not cite the research he referenced in court saying only that there are “a myriad” of studies that support his order.

Needless to say, the family will appeal. Although the caseworkers have to follow the law, Brent Platt, director of the state’s Division of Child and Family Services, says that he will ask their attorneys to review the judge’s order to make sure they aren’t breaking any laws by removing the child.

For what it’s worth, Judge Scott Johansen has a long history of very controversial orders and actions:

But that wasn’t the first time the judge had inflicted serious punishment on a child for a minor offense. In 1997 he was reprimanded by the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission for “demeaning the judicial office” by slapping a 16-year-old boy during a meeting at the Price courthouse.

And just last month, Johansen made national headlines when he ordered a Carbon County mother to cut off her 13-year-old daughter’s ponytail in public court. The girl was being punished for cutting the hair of a 3-year-old.

He ordered another juvenile into detention over a bad report card, rather than identifying whether the boy had learning disabilities. His parents say that decision sent their son into a spiral and changed their son forever:

Passarella’s father believes that initial incarceration was a turning point in his son’s life, and did not turn him away from crime. He has since been convicted of seven misdemeanors and two felonies and will be in a rehabilitation facility at least until he turns 19.

Nevertheless, a 2014 commission recommended Judge Johansen be retained, citing his bold style and fairness:

With more than two decades of judicial experience, Judge Scott Johansen has a
bold, no-nonsense style that prompted mixed reviews from survey respondents.
While respondents most frequently described Judge Johansen as knowledgeable,
confident, and intelligent, a minority perceived him as arrogant and impatient.
Judge Johansen received lower than average survey scores for procedural fairness, separation of his personal beliefs from his legal rulings, and fair and respectful treatment of courtroom participants.

Supreme Court: Let gay wedding bells ring from sea to shining sea

FRI JUN 26, 2015 AT 07:03 AM PDT
Daily Kos Staff, Front Page

Gay marriage supporters hold a gay rights flag in front of the Supreme Court before a hearing about gay marriage in Washington April 28, 2015. The nine justices will be hearing arguments concerning gay marriage restrictions imposed in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, four of the 13 states that still outlaw such marriages.    REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX1ANFE

Gay marriage supporters hold a gay rights flag in front of the Supreme Court before a hearing about gay marriage in Washington April 28, 2015. The nine justices will be hearing arguments concerning gay marriage restrictions imposed in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, four of the 13 states that still outlaw such marriages. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts – RTX1ANFE

The Supreme Court struck down marriage bans nationwide Friday in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the fourth landmark ruling advancing LGBT rights he has written.

In the decision, the justices affirmed that same-sex couples can indeed marry in every state in the union.

The case, Obergefell v. Hodges, centered on legal challenges on behalf of lesbian and gay individuals from four states in the Sixth Circuit who sought the same constitutional guarantees afforded to different-sex couples couples who unite their lives in marriage.

The decision follows public opinion, with several recent polls showing that about 60 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage rights.

7:07 AM PT: Here’s the link to Kennedy’s opinion:…

7:15 AM PT: Tweet from President Obama: “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins”

7:19 AM PT: From the opinion: “These considerations lead to the conclusion that the

right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.”

7:42 AM PT: From the opinion: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embod- ies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family… It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be con- demned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”


Let’s Stand Up and Be Counted for Equal Rights

Let's Stand Up and Be Counted for Equal Rights

By Elleanor Chin of Portland, Oregon. Elleanor is a Board member of Family Forward Oregon and the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women. She is an attorney, writer, mother and gardener.

If you’re on Hawthorne Street in Portland, or near Powells on Burnside, or downtown these days, you’re pretty likely to be hit up by signature gatherers for ballot measures. Yesterday I was approached for the GMO labeling measure (twice) and a marijuana legalization measure (and learned there are three different signature campaigns relating to marijuana legalization). There is a July deadline for signatures for the November election and besides, it’s spring in Oregon!

I wasn’t approached yesterday by someone asking for signatures for the Oregon Equal Rights Amendment measure, but I have been, at least three times recently. Each time it makes me happy and each time I say, “already signed!”

In Oregon, in 2014, we have a particular opportunity to stand up and be counted when it comes to treatment of gender under the law. There is an active campaign to put an Equal Rights Amendment to the Oregon Constitution on the November ballot. The Oregon ERA would amend the Oregon Constitution to specifically ban discriminatory treatment on the basis of gender. Currently neither the federal nor state constitutions offer explicit protection against gender discrimination.

The opportunity comes during a rare major public discussion of women’s experience of misogyny in daily life, sparked by the May 23 mass murder in Isla Vista California, in which the killer provided 100+ page statement and at least one video detailing his personal history and frustrations, including rage, sexual frustration and resentment directed towards women. The Twitter campaign #YesAllWomen developed in response to a social media thread arguing that “not all men” are violent and misogynistic. The YesAllWomen hashtag trended all weekend and included numerous women describing their experiences of sexual harassment, job discrimination, sexual assault.

A constitutional amendment banning discrimination on the basis of gender not only offers women protection from unfair treatment in work and school, but it is a statewide policy statement that Oregonians do not believe that people should be subject to invidious distinction on the basis of gender. It also forces some confrontation of the impact and nature of individual discriminatory acts. Constitutional anti-discrimination protection does not prevent misogyny or individual acts of violence or change minds any more than the Fourteenth Amendment ended racism, but it narrows the opportunities for formal, institutionalized acts of discrimination, and provides opportunities for redress.

Oregon has also been part of the “Equal Rites” movement recently, with Judge Michael McShane’s marriage equality decision on May 19. We have momentum for equality in Oregon so sign a ballot petition today. You don’t have to go looking for someone out on the sidewalk, an individual petition is available at Sign it and mail it and tell your fellow voters. – See more at: