Friday, February 24, 2012

Pelosi calls on Boehner to drop DOMA defense.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
As expected, House Speaker John "Snooki" Boehner has announced today that congressional leaders are filing an appeal to Wednesday's ruling in Golinski vs. The Office of Personnel Management that portions of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are unconstitutional. The ruling said, in part, “The court finds that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, violates her right to equal protection of the law.”

The suite was filed by Karen Golinski when her employer, the Ninth Circuit Court, denied her spousal insurance benefits. The appeal now puts this case before the Ninth Circuit, which, coincidentally, ruled last week that California's Proposition 8 is also unconstitutional.

The appeal is being filed by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which was formed last year to defend DOMA in court after the Obama administration announced that it would no longer defend the Clinton-era law and believes that it violates the U.S. Constitution. 

In response to Boehner's actions, Minorty Leader and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released to following statement: 
“In rejecting the arguments of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, the court’s ruling also reaffirmed a core belief of the majority of House Democrats: that the House is not united in this case; that the BLAG lawyers do not speak for Congress; and that BLAG’s intervention remains a waste of taxpayer resources.”
This should be interesting.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Maryland Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill!

Maryland has become the 8th state, plus DC to legally recognize same-sex marriage. The state senate passed the bipartisan legislation Thursday afternoon by a vote of 25 - 22. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, following the example of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, made passing marriage equality a priority this year.

O'Malley said in a statement that that The Free State “will now be able to protect individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom equally”, adding, “All children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home, protected equally under the law. The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual.”

O'Malley says he will sign the bill into law during a signing ceremony on Monday, the 27th. The new law will take effect on January 1, 2013.

Anti-gay groups are already organizing to push for a referendum to amend the state constitution to ban marriage equality.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DOMA Ruled Unconstitutional in California Court

Just in from San Diego Gay and Lesbian News:

SAN FRANCISCO – The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protections clause, a federal judge ruled today in an important test case in California that could have national implications. 
Lambda Legal just tweeted the breaking news, noting that this is the first DOMA-related ruling since the Justice Department said that the federal law is unconstitutional and that it would not defend it in court.
Tara Borelli, one of the lead attorneys in the case, said "This ruling spells doom for DOMA."
District Judge Jeffery White, an appointee by President George W. Bush in 2002, ruled that DOMA violates the rights of Karen Golinski, who was denied spousal health benefits by her employer, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Lambda Legal is representing Golinski in the case Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management.
In January 2008, Chief Judge Alex Kozinksi of the Ninth Circuit ruled that the decision to deny benefits to Golinski violated the Ninth Circuit’s own employment policies prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination. However, the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) argued that DOMA prevented health-care coverage for gay and lesbian spouses of federal employees, and ordered the insurer of Golinski’s wife, Amy Cunninghis, to deny coverage.
Lambda Legal sued the federal government and OPM on Jan. 20, 2010.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

WA Gov. Gregoire Will Sign Marriage Equality Bill Monday as Haters Plan Referendum to Overturn

English: Photo of , Governor of Washington sin...Washington Sate Gov. Christine GregoireWashington state is slated to become the 7th state to legalize Marriage Equality on Monday, as Governor Christine Gregoire signs the landmark legislation that passed both both state legislature with lightening speed.

Reuters reports:
A statehouse signing ceremony in Olympia, Washington's capital, was slated for 11:30 a.m. local time on Monday. The bill won final legislative approval from the state House of Representatives on Wednesday by a vote of 55-43.
The measure will not take effect before early June. Opponents have vowed to seek its repeal at the polls in November, but they cannot begin collecting signatures for a petition to overturn the measure by referendum until it is signed into law.
House approval of the Senate-passed bill came a day after a federal appeals court handed gay rights advocates a key legal victory in California by declaring a voter-approved gay marriage ban in that state to be unconstitutional.
Democrats, who control both legislative bodies in Olympia, accounted for the lion's share of support for the bill. The stage for swift passage of the measure this year was set after Gregoire, a Democrat in her last term of office, announced last month that she would endorse the legislation.
Several prominent Washington-based companies employing tens of thousands of workers in the state also have supported the bill, including Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks. Opponents were led by Catholic bishops and other religious conservatives.
In light of Tuesday's ruling upholding the overturning of California's Prop 8 as unconstitutional, it is going to be more difficult for opponents to take away the right to marry by voter referendum, but that won't stop them from trying. There are to measures planned, one to over turn the newly approved legislation and another to define marriage as a heteros-only club, according to separate Reuters report.
Chris Plante, regional coordinator for the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM), said that his group plans to back the referendum effort, but will "keep the initiative in our back pocket."
"We're going to go forward as a united group because what's more important than the process is the end game of overturning this law and restoring marriage to its rightful definition," he said.
His group has not decided how much money it could provide for a ballot campaign to ban same-sex marriage, Plante said, but he estimated that such an effort would cost over $2 million.
The group said it will also follow through on its pledge to spend $250,000 to defeat the Republican senators who voted for the bill, should they seek office again.
"Politicians have to understand that there's a price to pay for voting to redefine marriage -- it is not what the people of Washington want," Plante said.
It ain't over 'til it's over, folks, but we've got momentum and legal precedent on our side.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Will the real Maggie Gallagher please stand up?

The first rule in warfare is "Know your enemy."

Egomaniac, Maggie Gallagher
When it comes to the fight for marriage equality, Maggie Gallagher, founder of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is the public face of the anti-gay movement. Tuesday's landmark decision by the 9th Circuit Court overturning California's Proposition 8 as unconstitutional was a major blow to NOM and to the work that Gallagher says she never intended to get involved with in the first place.

In response to the ruling, Gallagher wrote on NOMblog, "Ninth Circuit to 7 Million Voters: You Are Irrational Bigots." A headline like this tells me two things. First that Maggie is paying attention.

Second - and perhaps more importantly - that Gallagher knows how to play the passive/aggressive game that is as old as the Catholic Church. Having been raised by a devoutly Catholic mother, I can tell you that playing the martyr is the last desperate attempt to win a losing battle. When you have nothing left in your arsenal, you nail yourself to the cross and blame the other side. The intent is to win sympathy, but what they usually get is pity and disdain.

To paraphrase Bette Davis, as "Baby Jane" Hudson, "But they are irrational bigots, Maggie! They are irrational bigots!" If they weren't, they wouldn't be so easy to exploit. Conservatives have known this for a very long time. Gallagher may not see herself as a bigot, but she is, if nothing else, a master manipulator and opportunist who believes that as long as she can exploit the bigotry of the masses to get what she wants, the end justifies the means. She has harnessed the homophobia of far right, religious extremists, not because of her faith, but to reshape the world into her own vision of the idealistic life she wanted for herself, but was denied, due, in no small part, to her own bad choices. did an extensive series of in depth interviews with Gallagher and those who know her best that paints a fascinating portrait of a woman who is driven more by her own inner demons than by religious conviction. She tells Salon's Mark Oppenheimer, that her return to the Catholic church after years as an atheist was more of an intellectual choice than a spiritual reawakening:
“I’m a revert,” Gallagher says. “I was raised Catholic. When I was 8, my mother left the church, and she ended up doing a lot of spiritual seeking … I was an atheist from the youngest age. When I was 16, I became a Randian. Becoming a Catholic began as an intellectual thing. In college, I reasoned my way into the pro-life stance. I could not come up with any good reason why the person inside a woman was not a person. Also, I had completely separated sex from procreation, and after I got pregnant, I realized that was a mistake. All the smartest people in the world, draped in all their Ph.D.s, were saying that sex and procreation were separate things, and of course that was just completely not true. The Catholic Church was the only institution that was saying that was not true. On the big issues, I began to realize that on all the issues I thought most deeply about, the church was right.”
The Salon piece depicts a young, naive, somewhat nerdy, college student who was socially awkward and saw herself as a budding, dispassionate intellectual and philosopher. But the young Maggie found out the hard way, as most college kids do, that life is a lot more complicated and more difficult than she'd expected. It's common knowledge that Gallagher got pregnant in college and was a single mother for several years before marrying her current husband. But what is revealed is the indelible impact that pregnancy had on her life and how it shaped her world view and became the motivating force of her life.
As Gallagher tells it, she and the baby’s father were close; they had been together “on the order of one year,” she says, so he might have been expected to stand by her. “My son’s father was my boyfriend at Yale,” is how she describes their relationship. But when she told him she was pregnant, right before spring break in 1982, he vanished on her. “I was in his room and he had to go do something, and I was going to fly out in a couple of hours, had to get to the airport. And the last thing he said to me was, ‘I’ll be back in 30 minutes.’ And then he wasn’t.”
He just left her sitting in his room. And that was the end of them. When summer came, Gallagher moved home to Oregon and took some classes to finish her degree. In the fall, she gave birth to a baby boy, Patrick.
College is not just a time for us to prepare for a career, it's a time when we decide who we will be as a person for the rest of our lives, whether we know it consciously or not. For Maggie Gallagher, college was the time that changed the course of her life, leaving emotional scars that shaped her idealistic world view. Making that distorted world view a reality would become her life's mission.

When Gallagher rails against same-sex marriage, it's not because she hates us, it's because of her colossal ego. She wants the world to be the way she wants it to be, for no other reason than because it's the way she wants it. She believes what she believes and wants the rest of the world to believe it too. This is a characteristic that is shared by many religious leaders (and dictators) and if she must align herself with them to achieve her goals, it's not out of a shared religious conviction, it's because they are useful.

Gallagher reveals that when she started out on her crusade to save traditional marriage, the gays weren't even part of the equation. But for whatever reason, she wasn't making much headway on her career path until the marriage equality victory in Massachusetts. Gallagher smelled blood in the water and went on the attack.

In layman's terms, Maggie Gallagher is an opportunistic control freak with delusions of grandeur. She dismisses any factual evidence that disproves her lies about gays and lesbians and the welfare of the children they may raise because it threatens her sense of self. Gallagher believes that in time, maybe even decades or centuries down the road, she will be proven right, because her fragile, damaged, overblown ego won't allow her to believe anything less.

Read the full Salon interview here.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

9th Circuit Rules Prop 8 Unconstitutional

Official "Vote NO on Prop 8" logoImage via WikipediaIn a very narrow ruling that applies only to the case at hand, the 9th Circuit Court ruled this morning that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. The court ruled to uphold Judge Vaughan Walker's decision in part on the basis that Prop 8 removed a right that had previously been granted and violated the US Constitutional right to due process and equal protection.

Further, the court found that the proponents' request to vacate Walker's ruling on the basis that he stood to gain by overturning the anti-gay voter initiative by marrying his partner, was without merit.

The court left the door open to appeal the case, finding that the proponents of Prop 8 had standing in the case, since California governor Jerry brown and his predecessor, Arnold Scharzeneggar chose not to appeal. The question remains as to whether or not the conservative US Supreme Court will choose to hear the case. If not, the ruling will stand as is and only apply to California.

As of right now, it is legal for same-sex couples to marry in California. There has been no word yet about whether the court will issue a stay in the case, but it's safe to say that proponents of Prop 8 will request one.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

BREAKING: Ninth Circuit Court to Rule on Prop 8 on Tuesday!

The LGBT community has waiting so long for another development in Perry vs Brown, the challenge to overturn Prop 8. This is HUGE!! (Click image to enlarge.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Marriage Equality Passes Washington State Senate. What's Next?

Washington State is on course to become the 7th state, along with DC, to legalize same-sex marriage. The state senate voted 28- 21 last night to pass legislation legalizing marriage equality. The bill had the much publicized backing of Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire, who introduced the bill in early January. The legislation now goes to the Democrat-majority House, where it has wide support.

Some in the LGBT community are holding back on their celebrations, citing plans by anti-gay groups to start a petition to gather signatures to put a voter initiative on the ballot calling for an amendment to the state constitution banning marriage equality, as happened in Maine last year. The issue was taken on during Monday nights session. Opponents and even some supporters of the legislation called for a vote to put the issue on a public referendum. It was voted down.

As predicted, opponents are claiming that the rights of heterosexuals are being violated by extending equal rights to gay and lesbian couples. The New York Times reports this morning that one of the bill's lead opponents, Republican Senator Dan Swecker, says he's worried that approving same-sex marriage would “create a hostile environment for those of us who believe in traditional marriage.”

Senator Swecker, whatever you do, don't look under your bed. There's a big, gay bogey man hiding there, just waiting to gay you up as soon as you fall asleep, so don't close your eyes even for a second.

Washington state already has domestic partnerships, in which thousands of couples are registered. The bill also addresses how those relationships would be affected. The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports:

Under the measure that passed Wednesday, the more than 9,300 couples currently registered in domestic partnerships would have two years to either dissolve their relationship or get married. Domestic partnerships that aren't ended prior to June 30, 2014, would automatically become marriages.
Domestic partnerships would remain for senior couples where at least one partner is 62 years old or older. That provision was included to help seniors who don't remarry out of fear they could lose certain pension or Social Security benefits.
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