Obergefell v. Hodges

April 26th, 2015

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case for marriage equality for all Americans. The historical decision, likely to come in June, will determine whether the nation will remain a patchwork of equality and discrimination, or make equal treatment the law of the land. I’m hoping and betting for the latter.

Our progress has developed faster than I could have ever imagined. A decade ago, I was a senior in high school fighting with a homophobic school administration. The 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, had just struck down the remaining sodomy laws in the U.S. and the following year, Massachusetts had become the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. The idea of basic anti-discrimination laws, let alone nationwide marriage equality, seemed part of a distant future, one that may never be actualized.

We’ve come so far, so fast since that time. Leading up to 2005, EqualityMaine and GLAD worked together to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This change was codified in Maine law later that year and I am grateful to have been a part of that effort. I could not have imagined that only 7 years later, Maine would make history as the first state to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.

We are set to make history on the national stage yet again as Maine lawyer Mary Bonauto prepares to represent the plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges. As Maine goes, so goes the nation. I had the privilege of meeting and briefly working with Mary in 2005 and I cannot think of a more capable attorney to represent this case. She has consistently fought for equality and won.

“She’s the mastermind,” said Portland attorney Pat Peard, who has worked on gay rights cases with Bonauto going back to the 1980s. “I mean, Mary Bonauto is going to be in every legal textbook talking about civil rights in the United States. There’s not a doubt in my mind.”

Despite the excitement and (unnecessary) controversy surrounding equal rights, I believe that once the dust settles, marriage equality will be a non-issue and part of every day life. Ultimately, the goal is normalization; same-sex couples want the same recognition and legal respect given to opposite-sex couples. Recent attempts to legalize discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom,” notably in Indiana and Arkansas, and most recently here in Maine, have all been quickly extinguished. A majority of Americans support equal rights, including same-sex marriage, and the courts and corporate America have joined that sentiment, making it clear that Obergefell v. Hodges will not become a modern-day Roe v. Wade.

Those who oppose LGBT equality are rapidly becoming irrelevant. The discriminatory attitude of conservatives, not to mention the explicit opposition to marriage equality embodied in the Republican Party platform, will pose significant challenges to those who would seek office in 2016. As LGBT Americans join their peers in equal treatment under law, so too are conservatives further marginalizing themselves to a past characterized by prejudice. We must move forward and leave that past behind. This Tuesday will be a watershed in that continuing progress toward realizing the American dream.



Hillary Clinton 2016

April 12th, 2015

Hillary Clinton 2016



Pom Rush

July 31st, 2014

Pom Rush App Icon

I’m excited to announce that Pom Rush is now available in the App Store!

I’ve been working really hard on Pom Rush and I hope you’ll try it out. It’s free to download and includes in-app purchases. It’s compatible with the iPhone and iPad and is suitable for all ages. Visit PomRush.com to learn more or get Pom Rush in the App Store now!





App Store Icon

Pom Rush is an infinite running game in which you play the role of a pomeranian puppy collecting coins and crystals while avoiding the mean cats that inhabit the various worlds you visit. There are 10 poms and 10 worlds to unlock and even more powerups and vehicles that can be upgraded throughout the game.

Simple controls mean that gamers with any level of experience can join the fun. The adventure continues as you beat your high scores and upgrade your powerups and vehicles, including a car, hot air balloon, and a broomstick for your poms. Pom Rush is compatible with the Apple iPhone and iPad. Download on the App Store

Summer

June 22nd, 2014

Summer is finally here and I’m nearly finished with PomRush. I’ll update as soon as it’s accepted into the AppStore. It’s a lot of work but I’ve also learned a lot in the process. I’ve been programming since early high school and Objective-C is one of the most complex languages I’ve come across. At the WWDC this month, Apple announced a new language of its own creation called Swift, so I’m excited to begin learning it this Summer. I won’t be staying inside all Summer though. Already I’ve been biking, rollerblading, and playing lots of tennis.

Following my previous post about going vegetarian, this past winter I gave up my pescatarian diet (seafood) and I have been strictly vegetarian. It’s been fairly easy for me and I’m confident it’s something I’ll stick with for the rest of my life. I feel healthier and it’s helped me stay in line with the Okinawan diet and calorie restriction.

President Obama recently announced he would sign an executive order that will ban workplace discrimination against LGBT people who are employed by companies that contract with the federal government. It’s not as broad as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would be, though it’s still an important step that will help tens of thousands of Americans. The Republican-led House continues to block ENDA. In many states a person can still be denied a job or promotion, or even be fired for being gay.

Also, lawsuits are now pending in all 31 states that have bans on same-sex marriage. So far, every court to hear such cases has ruled in favor of marriage equality and against such bans, striking them down as unconstitutional. Many of these cases will likely be consolidated before the US Supreme Court within a year or sooner. Last year in U.S. v. Windsor, the court seemed to signal that it is prepared to make marriage equality the law of the land.

Nature Futures

April 2nd, 2014

Earlier this year, the journal Nature created a writing competition asking for short science fiction stories of only 200 characters. Today Nature announced the winners and I am one of the five runners up.

It’s an honor to be published in one of the most prominent scientific journals. I can only hope that in the future I will be published not only for my writing, but also for my research. Nature also publishes Scientific American magazine. Here is my winning entry:

Cynthia was learning faster than anyone had predicted. The apparently totipotent cells continued to proliferate at an exponential rate. Today would be the last time they would refer to her as a mouse.

Congratulations to the other winning entrants. Keep writing!

California 2014

March 9th, 2014

I just got home from an awesome two-week trip to Southern California, mostly Orange County. The weather was great and I spent time in LA, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and San Diego. I also visited the Huntington Botanical Gardens, La Brea Tar Pits and California Science Center, the LA Natural History Museum, Birch Aquarium, and San Diego Botanic Garden. You can check out my photo album below:

Adam Flanders’ California 2014 Album on Google Plus



Enjoying a sunny day at Laguna Beach.

Nicole Maines

January 31st, 2014

Maine has once again made history in the movement toward full equality for LGBT people, this time for transgender students. A case I’ve been following for several years now in which a girl named Nicole Maines wanted to be treated the same as any other girl in Maine’s schools. The school district turned it into a legal battle when they refused to allow Nicole to use the girls’ bathroom. The Maine Human Rights Commission became involved because Maine law specifically forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity / expression. In a 5-to-1 ruling, the Maine Supreme Court ruled in favor of the girl who is now 16. According to the Bangor Daily News:

“It is the first time any court in the nation has ruled it is unlawful to force a transgender child to use the school bathroom designated for the sex he or she was born with rather than the one with which the child identifies, according to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders of Boston, which represented the girl and her family.”


Transgender student Nicole Maines (center) with her father, Wayne Maines (left), and brother Jonas, speaks to reporters outside the Penobscot Judicial Center, Wednesday, June 12, 2013, in Bangor.

The decision is especially meaningful to me because I helped pass the anti-discrimination law in 2005. Specifically I testified before Maine’s Judiciary Committee when I was in high school. I told about my experience of being bullied in high school because I was gay, and why the bill should protect students in addition to employment, public accommodations, housing, and credit.

We were successful and in 2005, sexual orientation (the Maine legal definition of which includes “gender identity and expression”) was added to the Maine Human Rights Act, including protections for students. The court’s ruling is fairly broad and can surely be extended to the other categories within the Maine Human Rights Act so that transgender employees are also protected. Public accommodations such as restaurants and hotels, along with housing units, are also prohibited from discriminating.

I’m proud of Nicole and her family who has stood by her side since 2007, when Nicole was in middle school. Congratulations to Nicole, her family, and all those who helped and encouraged her to be true to herself, particularly the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders of Boston, the Maine Human Rights Commission, Equality Maine, and the Maine Civil Liberties Union, the latter two of which supported me during my struggles in high school. I think this is a sign of things to come, both here in Maine across the U.S. As Maine goes, so goes the nation.

Merry Christmas!

December 22nd, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Yule! This is a photo I took of Punzo the other night. When I uploaded it to Google Plus, they applied an Auto Awesome filter that made it twinkle. You can see the original image by visiting my Flickr Photostream or by clicking here.

Only a couple weeks have passed since my last post and in that short time New Mexico and Utah managed to legalize same-sex marriage via high court rulings. Marriage licenses have already been issued as anxious couples attended early morning openings at various county clerk offices. This will make for some happy couples this holiday season. There is clearly momentum gaining fast for marriage equality and where I initially thought it may take 5-10 years to get every state on board, I now think that we won’t have to wait any longer than 2015.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are going to be very interesting. Several national leaders and celebrities are boycotting the event due to Russia’s newly implemented anti-gay policies. Three openly gay olympians – Caitlin Cahow, Billie Jean King, and Brian Boitano – have been selected for the official U.S. presidential delegation to represent the United States. I think it’s exciting to see this level of international involvement and I expect to see many visible pro-GLBT messages at this year’s events. The Olympics are about people coming together in a spirit of international unity, friendly competition, and a celebration of diversity.

Catching Up

December 3rd, 2013

Wow, I haven’t written anything in a while! I guess I’ve just been preoccupied with other things, like helping my mom sell her houses and constructing a fence and dog house for our pomeranians. Oh, and seeing Catching Fire in IMAX! Unfortunately the property sales along Route 3 in Belfast, my mom’s house included, are confidential and I personally don’t know what business is looking to develop, despite rumors of Wal*Mart, Home Depot, and Lowes.

I continue to be faithful to my vegetarian diet. I do continue to eat a little fish and shrimp, which I may give up at some point, though overall it’s been very easy for me. A few restaurants, like Texas Roadhouse, make it very difficult to find vegetarian options, so in those situations I usually just put together a number of side items. My mom prepared a special tofurkey for our Thanksgiving dinner and my family has been eating less meat as a result of my decision.

Black Friday Shopping with Ashley & Tayler

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I went Black Friday shopping and got rear-ended by another vehicle. Fortunately the woman behind me has insurance and I have a front and rear dash cam that recorded everything. It was also reported on local news. We all had neck pain and headaches for a day or two following the incident. I’m still able to drive my RAV4, though it’s going to need quite a bit of repair. I didn’t even buy anything, though I’m more of a Cyber Monday kind of guy anyway (I spent way too much yesterday).

In national news, Hawaii and Illinois legalized same-sex marriage. While I was not especially surprised, it was historic in that Hawaii was the first state to try to pass marriage equality back in 1991 (see Baehr v. Miike). I’m sure the new law will bring a great deal of revenue to Hawaii, one of the most popular wedding and honeymoon destinations in the US. New Mexico is expected to be the next state to legalize same-sex marriage and there are lawsuits in many other states, most notably Virginia. The same team of attorneys who represented the Prop 8 case, Ted Olson and David Boies, have joined a lawsuit in Virginia that could be the end-all case in this matter (see Bostic v. Rainey). The potential for an historical decision is huge when you consider that this is the same state where the 1967 Loving case arose and put an end to discriminatory laws that prohibited interracial marriage.

British Olympic Diver Tom Daley

This past week also brought with it news of British Olympic Diver Tom Daley. Daley, who is 19 years old, decided to offer a public statement concerning his sexuality and the fact that he is currently in a relationship with a man. Last year I blogged about the London 2012 Olympics and Tom Daley, including some of the athletes who were out at that time, most notably Matthew Mitcham. Daley’s decision to come out is being labeled brave, and rightfully so, though I have to agree with BBC’s Matt Slater that it shouldn’t matter. Daley’s announcement comes at a time when much of the world, most notably Russia, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, still enforces discrimination against gay and lesbian people. Nonetheless I think Daley will serve as a role model for other youth across the globe, showing that you can be yourself, even in sports.

Dispatch Magazine

August 29th, 2013

I just got a copy of July’s issue of Dispatch Magazine, which is local to Maine and New Hampshire. My boss had actually saved it out for me because she recognized my picture on the first page (see full spread below). My friend Jesse and I went down to Portland and stayed for Pride weekend. I had a good time and this was the first Pride we’ve had since the passage of marriage equality in Maine, so it was even more special this year.

In more recent GLBT news, the Federal 9th Circuit Court just today upheld the ban on reparative therapy, a type of “counseling” intended to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian people. For now the ban only applies to minors, but I believe it will soon be extended to all adults, especially if opponents appeal the decision and it goes before the US Supreme Court. Following the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions, I think it’s pretty clear how our nation’s highest court feels about gay and lesbian people, so I have no concerns. Republican Governor Chris Christie recently signed a similar ban into law in New Jersey, a further indication that conservatives and the GOP are beginning to embrace equal rights for all.

Prop 8 supporters lost their last appeal a little while ago, meaning Prop 8 is permanently dead. As to the DOMA decision, there was some ambiguity about whether same-sex couples living in non-equality states who got married in an equality state, would receive federal marriage benefits. Today the IRS announced it would in fact extend federal marriage benefits to all same-sex spouses, regardless of their state of residence. That means a couple from Texas, for example, can vacation and get married in Maine, then return to their home in Texas and continue to receive federal marriage benefits. The IRS decision, combined with the current Supreme Court position, new litigation across the country, and public acceptance of marriage equality, leads me to believe same-sex marriage in every state is only a few years away.