Archives – February, 2011
Cross-posted at Good As You
By Jeremy Hooper
Here’s a novel new meme building in socially conservative circles:
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV Friday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said President Barack Obama’s decision not to fully enforce the Defense of Marriage law eventually could lead to a constitutional crisis, as he has directly violated his constitutional duties by arbitrarily suspending a law.
Gingrich even suggested that, if a “President Sarah Palin” had taken a similar action, there would have been immediate calls for her impeachment
Gingrich: If Palin Took Obama Actions, There Would Be Calls for Impeachment [Newsmax via the National Organization for Marriage]
Uhm, okay. But here’s the question: What “similar action” would a potential President Palin possibly take? Because what we are talking about here is the increased protection of one of the last shunnable minority populations. This is not some generic case. With dropped DOMA defense, we are talking about something specific: The possibility of increased nondiscrimination for LGB people. Sarah Palin has never given any indication that she would put that concept even close to a table, much less on it.
The far-right crowd is looking at the Obama administration’s new DOMA position in the completely wrong way. The generalized socially conservative response acts like the decision was completely arbitrary, with the specified scenario painted as easily interchangeable with basically any other legal matter that might be presented to a President — a view that is flawed, offensive, and intellectually dishonest! Flawed, because the truth of the matter is that Obama officials have poured over this case and its (lack of merits), determining the exact reasons why this particular piece of legislation, unlike countless others, is patently unconstitutional and therefore undeserving of DOJ defense. Offensive, because Gingrich and company’s choice to strip out the actual human beings attached to the matter completely overlooks the very concrete reason why DOMA (enacted under Gingrich’s time as Speaker) is, was, and forever will be wrongheaded and unfairly enacted. Intellectually dishonest, because rather than help the American public understand a decision that people like NOM and Gingrich have to understand on a factual level (even if they don’t agree with it), the American social conservatives are yet again — YET. AGAIN. — waging a blind attack on “the left™,” the Democratic President, and the “radical agenda®” that’s supposedly attached to any of the brutally-shunned LGBT crowd’s attempts to seize their equal rights and citizenship.
So if a theoretical President Palin did something truly similar to the Obama administration’s DOMA decision? Well no, of course LGBT rights activists wouldn’t call for impeachment (and not only because they’d be dead from shock). But a “similar action” would not mean a refusal to defend something like hate crimes legislation or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’s repeal (once it’s completed), two choices that would be much more in line with Sarah Palin’s stated positions. Because the choice to either defend or offend a certain minority population is not an equally-footed choice. Merit and principle aren’t disposable considerations.
By Adam Bink
In a welcome bit of news, today the constitutional amendment in Wyoming to ban recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, which had already passed the State Senate, missed the deadline to move in the House after the Majority Leader refused to spend floor time on it:
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A proposed amendment to the Wyoming Constitution that would specify the state wouldn’t recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere died Friday when it missed a procedural deadline in the state Legislature.
The Wyoming House adjourned without taking action on a same-sex marriage bill that had already passed the state Senate. Passing the measure would have required a two-thirds vote in both houses.
House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, said he didn’t want to spend hours of floor time debating a bill that didn’t have the votes to pass. The Legislature is set to adjourn next week.
Another bill was still pending that would change Wyoming law to specify that the state would only recognize marriages between one man and one woman. Disagreement remained between the House and Senate over whether the state should allow same-sex couples who entered civil unions elsewhere to have access to the state court system to resolve any issues that arise in their relationships.
Rep. Amy Edmonds said that considering the differences in the House and Senate positions on the bills, she believed its future is “tenuous at best.” The Cheyenne Republican served on a conference committee assigned to work out a compromise position on the pending bill.
Wyoming law specifies marriage can only exist between a man and a woman, but also says the state will recognize valid marriages performed in other states.
Here’s hoping it continues its death remains permanent.
On the flip side of the coin, we still need to make calls in Maryland.
Cross-posted at Good As You
By Jeremy Hooper
If by “dominates” NOM means “eats up the most amount of time using the same rhetorical talking points and unrelated asides that could never hold muster in an actual court of law (which is why you don’t see Brian Brown on any witness stand),” then yes, perhaps this headline holds some merit:
But if you, the viewer, come from a perspective that values substance that can withstand the scrutiny of constitutional law, civil marriage conversations that stick to the subject at hand instead of an ancillary element like procreation, and scientific definitions of sexual orientation that don’t call into question why the American Psychological Association shuts out obviously biased efforts to undermine their peer-reviewed work with “gays can change” agendas (something Fox News host Lauren Green suggests the APA should reconsider), then you might have a hard time putting a “W” in Mr. Brown’s victory column. Have a look:
Brian seriously sounds like he’s going to cry throughout much of it. Or like he’s going to take his toys and go home. His tired, deceptive rants are not so much dictatorial or angry: Instead they are soaking in falsely-victimized, self-righteously whiny, undeniably preachy tones. And that’s not a criticism of his performance, either, since that tone is EXACTLY the one that NOM has adopted as a strategy. The one they’ve carefully workshopped. The goal is to dominate the air time with rapid fire lists of concerns and supposed “horribles”, conveyed though a falsely-shocked “can you believe what they’re doing to us?” filter, in hopes that the viewers’ sympathies will fall not with the gay man who wants so badly to marry his husband in his own home state, but rather with the already-married heterosexual man who quite literally profits from Sean Eldridge’s knot tying inabilities.
This domination strategy probably works with some (especially on Fox News). But our money’s ultimately on the team who cares not for domination, but rather coexistence.
By Adam Bink
Following up on Jeremy’s post yesterday on how hard anti-gay leaders are going to all ends to derail marriage in Maryland, yesterday there was this report from Lou at the Washington Blade here in DC (bolding mine):
Dozens of witnesses testified for and against a same-sex marriage bill before a committee of the Maryland House of Delegates in Annapolis on Friday as the bill’s sponsors cautioned supporters not to become complacent.
Among the first to testify for the bill were the five lesbian members and one gay male member of the House of Delegates, who gave personal accounts of how they and their partners are considered “strangers” under the current Maryland law that bars same-sex couples from marrying.
Many of the same-sex marriage bill’s opponents, while testifying against that measure, testified in favor of a separate bill under consideration at the hearing that was introduced by Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County). Dwyer’s bill calls for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples, was approved one day earlier in the Maryland Senate by a vote of 25-21, prompting LGBT activists to celebrate what they called a historic victory.
But officials with the statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality Maryland expressed concern that an expected vote on the bill in the House of Delegates within the next two weeks appears much closer than originally expected.
Backers said that as of this week, the number of delegates who have publicly declared their support for the bill was just short of the 71 votes needed in the 141-member House.
“There’s an effort to derail this bill like none I’ve seen before,” said gay State Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), the author and one of the lead sponsors of the marriage equality bill in the Senate.
In a telephone news briefing on Friday, Madaleno said the mainstream media have repeatedly reported an earlier assumption that support for the bill was greater in the House than in the Senate, and approval of the measure in the Senate guaranteed its passage in the House.
With opponents, including the Maryland Catholic Conference and the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage, applying enormous pressure on wavering delegates, Madaleno and Equality Maryland officials said support in the House might be in jeopardy.
That assumption has indeed been prevalent, perhaps because of the natural assumption that the Senate is more conservative. But this is a very real problem.
A warning signal that support in the House could diminish surfaced earlier in the week when Del. Melvin Stukes (D-Baltimore City), a co-sponsor of the marriage bill for the past four years, withdrew his sponsorship.
Stukes told the Baltimore Sun he thought the bill would have given same-sex couples the right to obtain civil unions rather than marriage. Once he realized the measure would allow gays to marry he determined he made a mistake, he told the Sun.
“I’m very sorry that I got on the bill,” he said.
Activists said privately that they were baffled over Stukes’ change of heart on the bill because he represents a progressive-leaning district in Baltimore where the majority of residents would not object to his support for allowing gays to marry.
Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County), one of the House’s five lesbian members, said concern over possible erosion of support among delegates prompted supporters to scrap an earlier strategy calling for bringing the bill up for a vote at the very end of the House of Delegates session in April.
Doing that would shorten the time opponents have for gathering petition signatures needed to place the bill before voters in a referendum, making it more difficult to pull off a referendum.
Under Maryland’s referendum law, the clock begins for obtaining petitions when a bill is passed by both houses and the governor signs it. The state constitution sets the deadline for turning in the required number of petition signatures — 3 percent of the registered voters in the state — by June 1 following the adjournment of the legislature, which usually takes place at the end of April.
Thus by passing the marriage bill in the House in early March, as supporters now hope to do, opponents could get more than a month of additional time to obtain the petition signatures than if the bill passed at the end of the session in late April. Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he would sign the bill if it reaches him.
If opponents succeed in gathering the required number of valid petition signatures, the bill is put on hold. It would not become law unless voters defeat the referendum question submitted by opponents, which would call for defeating the bill and defining marriage in the state as a union only between a man and a woman.
“Momentum is important,” said Mizeur, in discussing the decision to put the marriage bill on a fast track in the House. “If we had the luxury of 83 public commitments to voting on this instead of 69 of the 71 that we need, sure, we could wait. But at this stage of the game, we need to just get it passed and worry about the referendum later.”
That means it’s time for all of us who are in Maryland to hop on the phone sooner rather than latter, and for those of us who have friends, family and colleagues, ask them to call their delegate. I actually have one family member who is a personal friend of one of the undecided swing vote members, and I’ll be asking her to place a call.
So tomorrow, let’s get to it, so we can make Maryland as much a success story in terms of organizing as New Hampshire was earlier this month. Please make those calls, and ask other to as well.
By Adam Bink
This is fun to watch, especially the part where the Governor of Hawaii gets planted one on the top of his head.
Via Joe over at AMERICABlog, if you missed it (and I did in a very busy week), here’s Gov. Abercrombie this past week signing the civil unions bill. Aloha, Gov. Abercrombie:
His joke about common, ordinary pens in the name of fiscal austerity is pretty funny. Reminds me of Gov. Jerry Brown flying Southwest.
A lot of fun to watch. I remember when Hawaii started all this with the court ruling on same-sex marriage. We aren’t there yet, but I’m glad couples can have important protections they deserve and want.