The U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote today that the federal Constitution provides a right to same-sex marriage.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority decision, “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.”

The court also said states must recognize marriages legally performed in other states. About three-dozen states including California currently allow same-sex marriage, as a result of either decisions by lower federal courts or actions by state courts, state legislatures or popular vote.

The high court ruled in four cases stemming from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee, where bans on same-sex marriage were in effect. The couples in the four cases were seeking either the right to marry or the right to have out-of-state marriages recognized.

They appealed after a federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the same-sex marriage prohibitions in those four states.

Kennedy was joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

He wrote, referring to the plaintiffs in the four cases, “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 condemned 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,” the court majority said.

Each of the four dissenting justices wrote a separate opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts said in his dissent that decisions on same-sex marriage should be left up to individual states acting in the democratic process through either their legislatures or voter initiatives.

Roberts wrote, “If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision… But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it,” Roberts wrote.

The other dissenting justices were Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Scalia wrote, “This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”


BART police have become one of the first police departments in the country to implement a specific policy governing interactions with transgender individuals, BART officials said Thursday.

No specific problem or complaint spurred the creation of the new policy, but police officials decided to create the policy in an effort to strengthen the department’s relationship with the community, according to BART.

The policy mandates that police officers be trained in how to address people whose gender identity or expression is different than that assigned to them at birth.

Officers will be instructed to follow the policy if a person informs police directly that they are transgender or if the officer has good reason to believe based on observation that the person is transgender.

The officers are instructed not to question the person’s identity or ask about their transition status without a professional and articulable reason, which must be documented in writing.

If an officer is unsure how to address a transgender person, they are to politely ask what name and pronoun the person prefers. Officers are instructed to use that name regardless of whether it is the person’s legal name. If an officer must find out their legal name, they are instructed to pull the person aside to ask one-on-one if possible.

When arresting transgender individuals, officers must give them any special medical treatment necessary, including hormone therapy, and not remove wigs, makeup or prosthetics they are wearing without a compelling reason to do so.

Above all, the policy calls for officers “to interact with transgender people and the transgender community in a manner that is professional, respectful, and courteous.”

BART officials said few departments in the country have taken the step of having a specific policy for interacting with transgender individuals.

“This policy is a reflection of our commitment to the community policing philosophy,” BART police Chief Kenton Rainey said in a statement. “Taking the time to involve our community stakeholders in this process only serves to strengthen our partnerships with various diverse communities we serve.”

Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center, called the new policy as an important first step in preventing the “harassment, abuse, targeting, and criminalization of transgender people who are just trying to go about their day.”

Hayashi said transgender individuals face high rates of incarceration and harassment, particularly for people who are both transgender and of a racial minority.

“A full 47 percent of black transgender and gender nonconforming people have experienced incarceration at some point in their lives, and too many have been outright murdered,” Hayashi said. “As we have seen time and time again it is dangerous when police don’t know how to interact with and respect the needs of a community.”


The San Francisco Public Library announced plans to launch an online high school diploma program beginning in August that aims to help some of the 30,000 San Francisco adults who did not graduate from high school earn an accredited high school diploma as well as certificates in high-growth, high-demand career fields, according to a library spokesman.

The new program, Career Online High School, is a partnership between the public library and Cengage Learning. It strives to make the library into an interactive educational institution.

The online diploma program has already launched at the Los Angeles Public Library, the Sacramento Public Library and the San Diego Public Library.

Benjamin Ibarra, a spokesman for the library, said one of the best parts of the program is the availability of academic coaches who can offer guidance and encouragement to students.

Ibarra said coaches will also be able to evaluate students’ performance and connect students to resources they need to master the course material. Ibarra said the library estimates that they will invest $150,000 for the Career Online High School program this year.

“We envision it to be a free program.” Ibarra said, explaining that those with financial need can qualify for scholarships.

Luis Herrera, a librarian at San Francisco Public Library, said in a statement that Career Online High School helps the library “achieve our goal of rethinking adult literacy in the 21st century in a profound and impactful way.”

Herrera said the program will transform the library into a place for personal growth and learning for those individuals who are most in need. This year the program has 100 slots for students, Ibarra said, noting that the number of San Franciscans without high school diplomas is far more, and estimated to be around 30,000.

Paul Gazzolo, senior vice president and general manager of Gale, which is part of Cengage Learning, said that the program will not only have a positive impact on the city’s residents but also support local economic and workforce development.

“Earning a high school diploma can have a life changing effect,” Gazzolo said.

“Graduates earn more, have lower unemployment rates and contribute more to their communities both economically and socially.”

Applicants to the program should be over 19 years old, have a San Francisco Public Library card in good standing, and exhibit a willingness and ability to dedicate ten hours a week to coursework.


Today will be sunny in the morning and partly cloudy in the afternoon. Highs will be in the upper 50s to lower 70s. Southwest winds could reach 5 to 15 mph.

Tonight will be partly cloudy. Lows will be in the mid-50s. Southwest winds could reach 5 to 15 mph.

Saturday will be mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 50s to mid-60s. Southwest winds could reach 5 to 15 mph.

(News Roundup Via Bay Area News)