Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sole NE gay marriage refusenik among state's 93 county clerks just got a sharp letter from the ACLU

Michelle Zimmerman: Sioux County, NE clerk,
assessor, district court clerk, register of deeds,
election commissioner, budget authority, zoning
administrator and theocratic heterosexual
supremacist. Photo source.
Sioux County Clerk Michelle Zimmerman told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald on Tuesday that she would refuse licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs.
     On Wednesday, she refused to talk about her willingness to put herself above the law and expose her county to an expensive lawsuit, telling the Omaha World-Herald, that the issue is a "moot point."
     “I have not had anyone come in and ask for a same-sex marriage license and I’m not going to comment because it hasn’t happened,” Zimmerman said.
     She also seemed to believe there wasn’t much of a chance that a same-sex couple would walk into her office seeking a license.
     Ha! If she continues her autocratic ways, we at AKSARBENT strongly suspect that some gay couple in Nebraska will be making a road trip to her little fiefdom very, very soon.
     Heterosexual supremacist Zimmerman wields a great deal of power in Sioux County, where she serves — or rules — as the assessor, county clerk, district court clerk, election commissioner, register of deeds, budget authority and zoning administrator.
     Several county clerks in Nebraska have decided not to marry any more straight or gay couples (which they are not required to do) and several county clerks will refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples but say they will delegate that task to a deputy.
     Apparently, gay couples' ability to get a marriage license on a particular day in those counties will depend not on whether the office is open but on whether a particular person willing to serve them is available. This sounds legally indefensible to AKSARBENT, but we're not lawyers.
     Below is the letter that the Nebraska ACLU just sent Zimmerman. (We have no idea what Ms. Miller meant to say in the second sentence of the second-to-last paragraph.)

Old Spice model now appearing as cop or in hausfrau drag, your choice

Old Spice, wastefully-packaged body wash vendor, is now marketing itself with a video-game-like clickable torso of spokes­model Terry Crews (What happened to Isaiah Mustafa?), shown at left in the persona most appealing to fans of Tyler Perry.

Texas ACLU warns antigay county clerks that AG Ken Paxton's opinion won't protect them from removal from office and liability for damages

Here's the excerpt from a long letter sent by the Texas ACLU to recalcitrant county clerks in Fayette, San Jacinto, Hamilton, Irion, Loving and Winkler counties.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Homophobes unite! Red Army Choir sings Sweet Home Alabama

Former UVA swimmer files 10-count complaint against five teammates over "violent" hazing

ABC US News | World News

Anthony Marcantonio, 19, who currently swims for Northwestern University has filed a lawsuit against five of his former University of Virginia teammates over "violent" hazing in which he says they engaged. The 10-count complaint against upperclassmen Kyle Dudzinski, Luke Papendick, Charles Rommel, David Ingraham and Jacob Pearce alleges assault, battery, false imprisonment, hazing, tortuous interference with a contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and two counts of conspiracy to commit those acts.
     From the Charlottesville, Virginia Daily Progress:
     On the night/early morning of Aug. 27/28, Marcantonio claims in the suit that he and other first-years arrived at a Wertland Street house commonly referred to as the “Swim House,” and repeatedly were blindfolded and subjected to false imprisonment, forced drinking (of beers, liquor, milk and prune juice), verbal abuse, forced sexual contact and a variety of intimidation tactics — including the threat of forced sodomy — at the hands of the five upperclassmen.
     Among other alleged hazing activities that night, the suit claims that first-years were told to chew live goldfish and grab one another’s genitalia... The suit claims there was physical harm done to one of the other first-year swimmers, whose eye was injured when a glass bottle was smashed on the ground.
     The suit claims the hazing activities continued into the following week, with members of the first-year class receiving threatening emails from a joint account created by the defendants under the name “Mr. Mean.” The suit says the messages, filled with harrowingly derogatory and degrading insults, compelled the first-year swimmers to complete a “scavenger hunt” that required them to steal items from a retail store, the university and another teammate.
     The complaint alleges that coach Augie Busch, asked Marcantonio to protect himself by only swimming when other members of the team weren’t around, and on Sept. 15, 2014, stated that Marcantonio’s “physical safety could not be guaranteed.”
     All five of the accused were suspended for half a season. Dudzinski, Papendick and Ingraham did not rejoin the team; Dudzinski and Papendick subsequently transferred to the University of Michigan.
     Ingraham was also suspended from UVA's swimming team in the 2013-2014 season, along with 7 others.

Anti-gay Omaha mayor, a BS genius, claims SCOTUS marriage ruling "allows" city to offer health benefits to gay couples

Covergirl Jean Stothert
Now that the Supreme Court has forced her to, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert will finally "sign an executive order Tuesday that will provide health benefits to the same-sex spouses of eligible full-time employees of the city," reports KETV.
     Stothert, who is a disinformation genius, said:
The Supreme Court decision allows the city to offer these benefits to all employees and their same-sex spouses without negotiating. I believe it is important to act quickly and appropriately following the Supreme Court decision.
     Translation: If I stall any longer, the city will be sued by married gay couples, so it's important to act quickly, now that my little con is up.
     The World-Herald put it this way:
     The City of Omaha will offer health insurance benefits to all married same-sex spouses of city employees after being one of the last local holdouts on the issue.
     Mayor Jean Stothert previously argued that city employees should bring up the issue during contract negotiations if they wanted such benefits.
     Translation: Even though my administration could have done this unilaterally, like La Vista, Bellevue, Douglas County, Sarpy County, OPS, Creighton, University of Nebraska, the VA Medical Center, Methodist Health System and Alegent/Creighton/CHI, and even though Blue Cross Blue Shield changed its definition of spouse to include same-sex couples last year after the DOMA/Windsor decision, it was more fun to me to ransom benefits for gay employees in exchange for other concessions in labor negotiations because that's how homophobic, divide-and-conquer GOP politicians roll!

Below: Mayor Stothert when she was a City Council member, opposing a gay rights ordinance in Omaha shortly before being outvoted:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

First grader gets high-fived after facing down street preacher with rainbow flag

(Via Towleroad)

Here's how they do that at Yale:

And at the University of Nebraska at Kearney:

Thomas Roberts, who hosted Trump pageant in homophobic Russia, quietly withdraws from
Miss USA pageant over Mexico controversy

From the Hollywood Reporter:
     Cheryl Burke and MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, who were set to co-host the annual pageant, stepped down Tuesday, one day after NBC pulled the program.
     "In light of the recent statements made by Donald Trump and the subsequent decision by NBC to cut ties with Mr. Trump, I cannot in good conscience move forward with participating in this year’s Miss USA Pageant as its co-host," said Burke in a statement. "Effective today I have withdrawn from my duties with Miss USA. Although I will not be there in person, I wish all of the contestants much luck as I know how hard they’ve all been working over the last year to try and realize their dreams."
     Roberts did not issue a statement, but an NBC spokesperson confirmed he was withdrawing. Roberts, who also co-hosted the 2014 pageant, sent out a short tweet after news of his departure broke

We thought Officer Friendly was a stripper cop, but we were wrong

Oh well — we also thought the snake Jane Kleeb posed with for the cover of Omaha magazine was fake and we were wrong about that too. So far this month we are zero for two.
     You can't see it in the video but the sticker that softball guy (was marching with that contingent in the NYC Gay Day parade) stuck on the cop's shirt said "I'd hit that."

Monday, June 29, 2015

NBC to Donald Trump: You're fired

The Apprentice will continue, but Trump (who had already recused himself) won't be on it, as NBC Universal, following Univision, has ended its business relationship with the loudmouthed real estate heir who recently characterized Mexican immigrants as, largely, rapists and drug dealers.

Matt Baume on Justice Alito's gay marriage concerns: Oh, so those who are intolerant of others might be labeled as bigots? How unpleasant for them!

100% of Jews on the Supreme Court supported gay marriage, while 66% of Catholics opposed it. No Chief Justices are Protestants.

Video: Turkish cops fire plastic pellets, water canon at Istanbul Gay Day parade

St. Louis's 2015 Gay Day parade

LGBTs in St. Louis really don't spend much on floats, but they have a LOT of fun.

Chicago's Gay Day floats took three hours to pass

Revelers were warned to "behave" this year because of complaints from some residents about rowdiness — probably unavoidable, given the celebration's size. The is speculation the parade may move downtown.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Second NY prison escapee shot, captured

Attorney General Doug Peterson: Nebraska's very own Antonin Scalia!

A lot of people saw Friday's Supreme Court decision outlawing state bans on gay marriage for what it was — a ruling on equal protection and due process, but Doug Peterson, an ally of the antigay Nebraska Family Alliance, who hired one of its honchos (Dave Bydalek) as soon as he took office, saw it as an ATTACK ON FREEDOM!
     Peterson should look on the bright side. Now he can stop squandering Nebraskans' taxes on stalling gay marriage and instead throw them down the rathole that is the lawsuit Jon Bruning brought against Colorado for legalizing marijuana. Sadly, phony GOP federalists like Peterson and Bruning don't have unlimited state resources to fund their personal right-wing agendas.
"Sadly, the Court stripped all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process. The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. The Court took that freedom from the people."

At its heart, Obergefell vs. Hodges is about Ohio's mean-spirited refusal to issue a death certificate acknowledging a legal gay marriage

From now until the end of the Republic, Ohio will represent, in the case that outlawed it, petty, bureaucratic anti-gay animus.

The times are still changing

Cartoonist weighed in on the SCOTUS marriage decision. At least two noticed the ascendency of the Rainbow Flag while a politer society simultaneously began to turn its back on that emblem of American treason and racism, the Confederate Battle Flag.

Oh, look, Man in Black Johnny Cash —
Willie Nelson can wear it too

Johnny Cash's daughter Roseanne, did a Discover America tourism ad not long ago which included a gay NOLA couple at the 33-34 mark, but don't blink or you may miss it.

Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims to drama queen homophobes: Put up or shut up

(Via JMG)

Nebraska's most influential daily covers gay marriage ruling — and then shoots itself in the foot on the web

We thought the World-Herald did a good job in print and a great one on its web page, by posting the County Clerk vows of what was probably the first gay couple in the state to marry.
     Unfortunately for the Herald, the hamfisted decision-makers in its IT department ruined the publicity their paper might have garnered for itself and the community from publishing what was surely one of the most poignant and affecting videos on gay marriage made anywhere in the United States on that historic Friday.
     And how did the World-Herald do that? By coding its video to rudely autoplay, and then trigger the cueing of other, unrelated videos.
     Is the World-Herald ever going to understand the nuances of making video content embeddable?
     It's clear that the crude tyros in its IT department or web department or online department or whatever they call it, are tone-deaf to the needs of bloggers or websites that might want to showcase unusually good work the World-Herald makes embeddable.
     We understand that the paper has every right to limit the availability of its content and to make it available in any way it chooses.
     But if it chooses to a video embeddable, then why doesn't the paper observe the etiquette about embedding that virtually everyone else online seems to understand, except it? 
     Doesn't anyone at the Herald understand that if you choose to make a video available to the Internet by publishing embeddable html for it, and that if you want popular websites and bloggers to give your enterprise free publicity by running said embeddable video, that YOU TURN AUTOPLAY OFF!
     The bloggers and websites who typically run embeddable video don't run autoplay videos. IT ANNOYS THEIR READERS.
     Why does the World-Herald still not get this?
     AKSARBENT noticed, on Friday, that one of the three most popular gay bloggers in the English-speaking world briefly ran a post on the effect of the SCOTUS decision in Nebraska — and then removed the post within minutes. We asked why, and the webmaster told us that he really liked the World-Herald video  and wanted to share it with his millions of readers all across America and Europe (few of whom have ever heard of Omaha's daily newspaper), but he didn't realize that the clip would behave so badly when embedded in his extremely popular blog.
     So he axed the entire post, as he had made the video the post's centerpiece.
     It's sad to see one part of an organization sabotage the first-rate efforts of another part of the same organization while editors remain apparently oblivious to the whole thing.

Stephen Colbert on gay marriage ruling: If you're a homosexual in North Dakota, ALL YOUR PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED!

Even though his CBS show replacing David Letterman hasn't started, Colbert, who looks very well rested (ahem) couldn't wait to post this cheery snark.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Did a closeted gay troll just jump the fence @LeavenworthSt prison?

This sounds just like something a closet case GOPer would say, though its author probably had nothing to do with that reactionary website.

Friday, June 26, 2015

TD Ameritrade fortune fueling referendum to reinstate death penalty in Nebraska

Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts (right) with father Joe.
Nebraskans for the Death Penalty reports it has raised $244,866 so far from 12 donors, including $25,000 from Michael Cassling, an Omaha CEO, $10,000 from the Omaha Police Union, and $100,000 each from Joe Ricketts (reputedly worth $1.6 billion), the founder of TD Ameritrade and his son Peter, Nebraska's current governor.
     Last month the Nebraska Unicameral repealed Nebraska's death penalty, Ricketts vetoed the bill, but the Legislature overrode his veto
     Two appalling miscarriages of justice involving eight innocent Nebraskans charged with murder persuaded even many Republican's to abandon GOP death penalty support.
     Nebraskans for the Death Penalty said it paid roughly $192,000 to Lincoln Strategy Group, an Arizona-based consultant that is using paid circulators to gather signatures. Peterson estimated that the petition drive could cost his group $900,000, roughly the same amount spent by a petition group that sought last year to raise the minimum wage.

How Nebraska TV covered today's gay marriage ruling

KETV has a longer report here.

From Lincoln:

How to decode a press release from NE Sen. Ben Sasse

Sasse Statement on Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling:

Today’s ruling is a disappointment to Nebraskans who understand that marriage brings Margaret and Jim Anderson a wife and husband together so Betty, Bud and Kathy their children can have a mom and dad. As for single and gay parents, they don't matter because they're not part of the 50s family fantasy I'm using to distract people from the fact that the corporations I really represent are screwing them into the ground as they decimate jobs and what's left of upward mobility in America.
     The Supreme Court once again overstepped its Constitutional role by ruling on an equal protection / due process matter brought to it acting as a super-legislature and imposing its own definition of marriage on the American people rather than allowing civil rights to be voted on like the Miss Congeniality contest in a Trump Beauty Pageant voters to decide in the states.
    “As a society, we need to celebrate marriage as the best way to provide stability and opportunity for kids. Unless they were adopted by gay couples because their straight parents were fuckups, in which case screw them.
     As President Obama has said, there are good people on both sides of the issue. Obviously I don't personally believe this or I wouldn't kick 50,000 Nebraska gay constituents to the curb every time there's an issue. It's just a rhetorical fig leaf.
     I hope we all can agree that our neighbors deserve the freedom to live out their religious convictions by cherry picking which laws they want to obey. This does not apply to the moral or ethical convictions atheists or agnostics, of course.

Catholic Bishops: Gay Marriage still doesn't exist in Nebraska

The Archbishops of Omaha (George Lucas), Lincoln (James Conley), and Grand Island (Joseph Hanefeldt) spoketh thusly:
     The Catholic bishops of Nebraska remind all people of good will that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman. Marriage, as ordained by God, is the cornerstone of every human family, an ancient tradition in every culture. No one can change that reality. The truth about marriage is written into the complementarity of men and women in the context of the family. We encourage all believers to be witnesses to the goodness and beauty of marriage as God has revealed it, and by their example to foster peace, love, mercy and joy as a witness to that truth.
     The Catholic hierarchy in Nebraska worked tirelessly in NE to kill a gay rights ordinance in Lincoln, deny gay clients service and even referrals to mental health professionals (and then lied about it) and to torpedo a statewide LGBT anti-bias job bill by flooding the legislature with identically-worded emails.
     The RCC didn't work nearly as hard against the death penalty.

First NE gay couples to get license, marry

ALSO: Even after the anti-gay-marriage GOP governor and attorney general capitulate, several Nebraska counties are finding excuses to continue to stall gay couples.


AKSARBENT rushed to the Douglas County (Omaha) courthouse when it heard that the first gay couples were on their way. So quickly we forgot the memory card for the good video camera, but the spare GoPro did the job. We couldn't remember where the County Clerk's office was but we didn't need to. We just ran toward the tripods in the hall.
     The TV people (before they started bumping into doors and each other) said a couple in Lincoln (Lancaster County) had already got hitched (turned out they got a license but won't get married 'til later at home) but we were there in time to get the first Douglas County couple, a charming pair of ladies who are probably the first gay couple to get married in Nebraska, although not the first to be issued a marriage license. Congratulations Kathy Pettersen [in purple],  and Beverly Reicks!
     KETV reports that County Clerk Tom Cavanaugh said the couple's seven-year wait was long enough and paid their license fee ($15; certified copies are $5 more) for them as a wedding gift. He said it was a pleasure to finally be able to say "yes" to everyone.
     From the World-Herald:
     The first couple in line in Lancaster County was Judith Gibson, 74, and Barbara DiBernard, 66, of Lincoln. It is believed they received the state’s first same-sex marriage license at 10:17 a.m., beating a couple in Douglas County.
     Gibson and DiBernard, who have been together nearly 27 years, embraced and cheered when they got the paperwork. They said they planned to exchange vows later in a ceremony at home.
     In Douglas County, Kathy Pettersen [in purple], 61, and Beverly Reicks, 52, were the first in line, saying they made a dash for the courthouse after the Supreme Court’s opinion was released. “We have never run so fast,” said Reicks, to a round of cheers and laughter.
     As they filled out the license, Pettersen began reading excerpts from the Supreme Court ruling about equality and love.
     “It is a historic day for civil rights in America,” she said.
     Unlike the Lincoln couple, Pettersen and Reicks were married at the courthouse. Chief Deputy Clerk Kathleen Hall officiated at the wedding.
      Douglas County Clerk Tom Cavanaugh couldn’t have been happier. He said he’d long wanted to issue a same-sex marriage license.
     “There’s equality in the state of Nebraska, and it is about time,” Cavanaugh said. “We don’t have to deny licenses anymore, and it’s a good feeling.”

NE gay marriage sore losers: Washington, Cass, Dodge Seward and Butler counties

KETV says the Washington County Clerk is footdragging waiting to hear from the county attorney. Cass isn't issuing licenses yet. Dodge, Seward and Butler counties are waiting on the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Vital Statistics.
     Waiting for what? State bureaucrats to approve the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America? The right forms that you should have stocked weeks ago? What is your continuing problem?
     The state's two biggest counties, Lancaster and Douglas, were issuing licenses and even marrying gay couples within an hour of the Supreme Court Decision. They were prepared with the correct forms. They didn't invent excuses blaming either the Office of Vital Statistics or the Department of Health and Human Services. They cleared everything with the county attorney within minutes of the Supreme Court's decision.

Statement from Governor Ricketts:
The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken and ruled state same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. While 70 percent of Nebraskans approved our amendment to our state constitution that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the highest court in the land has ruled states cannot place limits on marriage between same-sex couples. We will follow the law and respect the ruling outlined by the court.
     Today five Supreme Court Justices created a new constitutional right based upon sexual choices.
     The Constitution doesn’t speak, one way or the other, to the question of same-sex marriage. Under our system of federalism, the definition of marriage as a male-female union is properly a matter of state law. I agree with Chief Justice Robert’s contention that “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent.”
     The Court overstepped its proper role in our system of government. Instead of interpreting and applying the law, the Court invented a new constitutional right. Nothing in the Constitution mandates a nationwide redefinition of marriage. Sadly, the Court stripped all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process. The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. The Court took that freedom from the people.
     In addition to Nebraska, Americans in 30 other States have voted to affirm marriage in their constitutions, while the people of only 3 states have voted to redefine marriage. Of the states that now issue same-sex marriage licenses, more than 2/3 had it imposed by court dictate. The Court’s decision represents a profound loss of freedom. It shows a lack of faith in democracy for the Court to force this decision on every state.
     Nebraska has until today’s decision in Obergefell relied upon the 8th Circuit’s 2006 opinion in Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, which specifically upheld the constitutionality of Nebraska’s marriage laws. Obergefell has effectively reversed the 8th Circuit’s sound decision in Bruning and effectively renders the state’s case in Waters v. Ricketts, currently pending in the 8th Circuit, moot.
     Recognizing the rule of law, the State of Nebraska will comply with the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell. Nebraska officials will not enforce any Nebraska laws that are contrary to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell.

NE gay marriage sore losers: State Sen. Bill Kintner