Marriage is a fundamental right of all citizens, which neither tradition nor the majority may deny.
"The most important civil rights leader you’ve never heard of"
Bayard Rustin was an early leader in the civil rights movement, a man who played a pivotal role in the formation of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s spirited call for nonviolent resistance and certainly worthy of a mention on the holiday established in King’s honor.

Rustin provided an influential backbone for a movement gaining momentum with every passing year, but as his biographer Tom Wicker wrote:

"…Rustin also was gay, decades before the Supreme Court legitimated private sexual activity, and that cost him the backing of even some radicals, black as well as white, for whom he had been an eloquent and courageous leader for nearly 40 years.”

Read more on Rustin over at Jacket Copy.
Art: Dugald Stermer / For the Times

"The most important civil rights leader you’ve never heard of"

Bayard Rustin was an early leader in the civil rights movement, a man who played a pivotal role in the formation of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s spirited call for nonviolent resistance and certainly worthy of a mention on the holiday established in King’s honor.
Rustin provided an influential backbone for a movement gaining momentum with every passing year, but as his biographer Tom Wicker wrote:
"…Rustin also was gay, decades before the Supreme Court legitimated private sexual activity, and that cost him the backing of even some radicals, black as well as white, for whom he had been an eloquent and courageous leader for nearly 40 years.”
Read more on Rustin over at Jacket Copy.

Art: Dugald Stermer / For the Times

Our favorite Column Ones of the year

This year we launched a revamped series of top-notch, longer features online, our so-called “Column One.” Out of the hundreds that have been published, we wanted to pick out some of our favorites before the year’s end.

He’s tough enough to be a Sissy in Wyoming

Longtime cross-dresser Sissy Goodwin of Douglas, Wyo., has been anything but weak as he stands up to bigotry in the Cowboy State…

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At 93, this Rosie is still riveting

Elinor Otto picked up a riveting gun in World War II, joining the wave of women taking what had been men’s jobs. These days she’s building the C-17…

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Young militants ready to die, eager to kill

Abdul Wali Fadaei is 17 and serving a four-year term at an Afghan rehabilitation center for planning a suicide attack. When he gets out, he’ll “decide about trying again.”…

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A day in the strawberry fields seems like forever

He [reporter Hector Becerra] finds kindness and camaraderie with Mexican immigrants picking strawberries. But he falls far behind as his back tightens and his muscles burn…

South L.A. student finds a different world at Cal

Kashawn Campbell overcame many obstacles to become a straight-A student. But his freshman year at UC Berkeley shook him to the core…

Cockroach farms multiplying in China

Farmers are pinning their future on the often-dreaded insect, which when dried goes for as much as $20 a pound - for use in Asian medicine and in cosmetics…

Photos: Genaro Molina, Al Seib, Bethany Mollenkof, Wang Xuhua / Los Angeles Times, Kamran Jebreli / Associated Press

A victorious year for the gay marriage movement

Whether it was a pair of landmark Supreme Court rulings invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act and ending the possible return of California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage, or legalization of same sex marriage in states across the country, 2013 was a year to remember for gay rights.

Read more over at Nation Now.

Photos: Justin Lane / EPA, Susannah Kay, Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times, Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Pope Francis extends a hand to women, gay priests

In an unusually open and lengthy discussion with reporters during his return to the Vatican after a trip to Brazil, Pope Francis stepped back from the Catholic Church’s typically clear-cut stances on gay priests and the role of women in the church.

“If a person is gay, seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said. “They should not be marginalized.”

Under Francis’ predecessor, gay men were banned from the priesthood. As for women becoming priests, Francis remained adamant that “the door is closed,” though he did concede that women should be greater administrative roles within the church.

Read more on Francis’ remarks over at World Now.

Photos: Osservatore Romano / EPA, Luca Zennaro / AFP/Getty Images

As the father of a gay son, I take a hard line on an attitude such as Card’s. I agree with Bill Maher that we should call it by its true name, bigotry, that there is no justification for withholding rights under civil or moral law.

test reblogged from latimesbooks

Opposition to gay marriage reemerges in California

Supporters of Prop. 8, which was recently stuck down by the Supreme Court in a landmark decision, have put forth their latest tactic against gay marriage.

ProtectMarriage, which sponsored Prop. 8, issued a request that clerks not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples to the state’s Supreme Court.

Despite their persistence, ProtectMarriage’s chances of making any change appear slim:

Legal experts predicted the California court would reject the challenge. Lawyers for the gay couples who fought Proposition 8 in federal court said they anticipated such an action and were prepared to respond to it. They said a state court may not interfere with a federal court’s decision.

Read more on the latest challenge to gay marriage over at L.A. Now.

Photos: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Looking back on five years of marriage in California

The Times profiled Paul Waters and Kevin Voecks back in 2008, when they were among the first wave of same-sex couples to be married in California.

Five years later, with Proposition 8 coming to an end after the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday, photo editor Jeremiah Bogert revisited the still-married couple to see how their relationship has evolved, and their thoughts on the major shifts in public opinion over gay marriage since their own nuptials.

Voecks: I’m stunned at the rapidity of the change. Not just statewide, but nationally and internationally. After working for gay rights since the ’70s when decades would go by with little or no movement, we now see changes within months.

Waters: I’m delighted to see the change. I also know with absolute certainty that the current level of support is not the end point but merely a milestone along the path toward near universal support.

And how’s the happy couple progressing?

Voecks: I can honestly say, better than ever. No exaggeration. Every day is better, and we are really the envy of both gay and straight couples who say they have never seen such a happy relationship.

Waters: I’ll go along with that.

Read more over at Framework.

Photos: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

As soon as they lift that stay, marriages are on. The wedding bells will ring.

Scenes of celebration following today’s rulings on Prop. 8, DOMA

The Supreme Court handed two major victories to the gay marriage movement this morning, ruling a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and effectively ending Proposition 8 in California.

You can read the full opinions of the court here, or just keep looking at the joy over the rulings captured above.

Photos: Charles Dharapak, Eric Risberg / Associated Press, Win McNamee, Justin Sullivan, Mark Wilson / Getty Images, Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA, Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

In a landmark victory for gay rights activists, the Supreme Court has ruled DOMA unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision. The 1996 law denied all benefits and federal recognition of same-sex couples, sparking a lengthy legal battle that has culminated in today’s ruling. You can read the full opinion of the court here

The court’s second ruling on gay marriage today, regarding California’s Proposition 8 ban, has yet to be announced, but we’ll update this post when it arrives. Or, you can head over to Politics Now for live updates on the fallout from the court’s rulings today.

UPDATE:

The court followed its ruling on DOMA with a 5-4 ruling punting Prop. 8 back to California, and opening the door for same-sex marriages. But the majority’s decision doesn’t represent a sweeping ruling on the matter.

Instead, they ruled that supporters of Prop. 8 had no standing, and the decision does nothing to change the laws of 31 states that have banned same-sex marriage.

Read the full opinion of the court here.

Photos: Charles Dharapak, J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press, Win McNamee / Getty Images, Pete Marovich / MCT

The controversial Christian group Exodus International announced tonight that it will shut down; a new group will launch in its place. According to Exodus president Alan Chambers (pictured above with his wife Leslie), the new ministry will focus on working with other churches to facilitate “safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities.”
Prior to the announcement, Chambers had issued an apology to the gay community. “I am sorry I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names…. I am sorry I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine,” the statement read in part. “More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.”
Photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press

The controversial Christian group Exodus International announced tonight that it will shut down; a new group will launch in its place. According to Exodus president Alan Chambers (pictured above with his wife Leslie), the new ministry will focus on working with other churches to facilitate “safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities.”

Prior to the announcement, Chambers had issued an apology to the gay community. “I am sorry I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names…. I am sorry I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine,” the statement read in part. “More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.”

Photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press

Gay marriage’s second round at the Supreme Court

Following yesterday’s debate on the future of California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in the state, the Supreme Court began its hearing this morning on the Defense of Marriage Act.

Since its inception in 1996, DOMA has drawn controversy, but this is the first time that the mandate, which has fallen out of favor with the Obama administration, has been brought to the Supreme Court.

Though crowds in front of the courtroom are smaller than yesterday’s Prop. 8 supporters and opponents

Read more on the proceedings on Politics Now.

Photos: Karen Bleier, Mark Wilson, Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images

Have about an hour and 20 minutes to burn?

Then sit down and have a listen to today’s Supreme Court arguments on Proposition 8 and gay marriage.

Or, for those with misplaced headphones, read through the transcript of the proceedings.

Supreme Court hears arguments on Prop. 8 ban on gay marriage

The debate between both sides of the argument and the Supreme Court has come to an end, with a final decision on the fate of California’s contentious Prop. 8 expected to be announced at some point in June.

Though any prognostications made based on Supreme Court arguments must be taken with a grain on salt, liberal justices were particularly intent on critiquing the defense of the gay marriage ban.

From Supreme Court reporter David G. Savage:

Justice Anthony Kennedy, while acknowledging that the long-term effects of legalized gay marriage are unknown, suggested that the tens of thousands of children of gay and lesbian couples in California have a voice in the case as well. “They want their parents to have full recognition,” he said.

Read more over at Politics Now.

Photos: Nicholas Kamm, Karen Blier, Jewel Samad, Win McNamee / AFP/Getty Images, Molly Riley / MCT, Dana Verkouteren / Associated Press