Archives – May, 2011
By Adam Bink
In an interview with P8TT friend Karen Ocamb, Sen. Feinstein discusses efforts to repeal DOMA, including our partnership with her to bring more co-sponsors onboard. Key excerpts on DOMA:
During a 12-minute phone interview on May 26, Frontiers asked Feinstein about the status of the DOMA repeal bill.
“It’s in the Judiciary Committee. We hope to have a hearing before long. We’re working with the community on securing votes. We have 24 co-sponsors now and I’d like to get as many as possible, which strengthens the possibilities for passage,” Feinstein said. “The Courage Campaign is reaching out. They have organized campaigns of phoning in several states, as I understand it. I’m not making phone calls.”
Given the opportunity to speak directly to people about DOMA, Feinstein said she would tell them, “Issues of family and marriage are virtually all done by state law, not federal law. The Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, essentially said, OK, even if a state says you can go ahead with a same-sex marriage, those individuals cannot have any of the federal benefits. And the list of federal benefits [include] joint federal income taxes, certain deductions, spousal benefits under Social Security, unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act if a loved one falls ill and the protections of the estate tax when one spouse passes and wants to leave his or her possessions to another. Those are federal laws that are essentially cancelled under DOMA.
“So if you strike DOMA,” she continued, “these basic rights come back to individuals whose states have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage. I think people have to know that. We’re not giving anybody anything special that any other married couple doesn’t get. But what we are doing is taking out a prohibition.”
Frontiers spoke with Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs, who talked about his meeting with Feinstein—another surprise since the Courage Campaign has disagreed with the senator on a number of progressive issues. “She looked me in the eye and said, ‘I want to repeal DOMA,’ and I believe her,” Jacobs said. The two shook hands on a partnership where Courage is using all its resources and intellect to help Feinstein get more co-sponsors and get to the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass the DOMA repeal bill. Jacobs said they now have 77 volunteers in 43 states working with local organizers. And their aggressive Facebook campaign continues to move senators who are overwhelmed with Facebook messages from constituents. (See their Facebook campaign here.)
On Prop 8:
On Prop. 8, Feinstein said that “at this stage,” she has no opinion on whether the LGBT community should return to the ballot in 2012 to repeal Prop 8.
“No one’s presented that to me as an option. I think it has to be carefully evaluated and looked at. I have no doubt that as time goes on, people’s views are changing,” Feinstein said, adding “I think the situation is moving in a very positive direction.”
More, including Karen’s history of Sen. Feinstein’s relationship with the LGBT community and her efforts on Prop 8 in 2008, can be found here at Karen’s magazine, Frontiers.
By Adam Bink
Marriage Equality – Simple answers to NOM’s complicated lies
In it, Alvin debunks NOM’s own talking points used at rallies, press releases, blog posts, everywhere. Examples:
NOM – “Religious groups like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army may lose their tax exemptions, or be denied the use of parks and other public facilities, unless they endorse gay marriage.”
Truth - No religious group (or any individual for that matter) will be forced to endorse anything. Those are just words used to scare people. And tax exemption controversies have nothing to do with marriage equality, but rather how far should religious exemptions go if religious charities demanding these exemptions are using tax dollars. For example, is it fair for Catholic Charities in Illinois to have the right not to allow gays to adopt children they care for even if these charities are receiving over $30 million in tax dollars (after all, the gay community does pay taxes).
NOM – “Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids.”
Truth – This is a lie. The nonpartisan webpage Politifact found that this claim was inaccurate. In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, same-sex intimacy is not in the curriculum. Even those who oppose marriage equality, such as Marc Mutty – who helped lead the charge against it in Maine – said that this claim is hyperbole geared to motivate people through fear.
In reality, conversations about same-sex households probably happen already in schools amongst the students themselves. Again, according the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under eighteen living in their home. It’s safe to say that a vast number of these children attend public schools. Is it fair for them not to be able to talk about their families?
The whole thing is worth browsing through, and maybe add some of your own.
By Matt Baume
This week: The chaos at Equality Maryland has gotten so bad, the organization may have to shut down altogether. Time’s nearly run out to pass a marriage bill in New York. Catholic Charities is so unwilling to provide adoption services to gay couples that they simply abandoned 350 children to the state of Illinois this week. And it looks like the Prop 8 proponents just caught themselves in a lie.
What is going on at Equality Maryland? Six months ago, all signs indicated that the state would legalize marriage. We’d picked up more supportive legislators than ever before. We had enough votes to pass the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee. The Governor promised to sign it. We had an eight-point advantage in public opinion polls. And then suddenly, amidst betrayals from formerly supportive legislators, the House just gave up on the bill and sent it back to committee for another year.
Then things really started falling apart. At first, Equality Maryland Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets said she had no plans to leave, but then announced that the board had fired her. She left at the end of April, and Equality Maryland brought in Lynne Bowman, former head of Equality Ohio, to lead the organization in the mean time.
But now, a month later, Bowman’s back in Ohio and says she doesn’t know when — or if — she’ll be coming back to Maryland.
Meanwhile, Equality Maryland announced this week that so many donors have dried up, they need 20 thousand dollars in the next few weeks, or else they’ll have to shut down operations.
The board president says the money problems are Meneses-Sheets’ fault, she says its not true, and everyone’s so busy bickering that now our opponents don’t even have to lift a finger.
So, Maryland. Get it together.
Let’s take a look at New York next. This week, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg released a lengthy speech urging his colleagues to support marriage equality. He’s also pledged to provide financial support to Republicans who vote with us.
That’s a big promise, coming from the 13th richest person in the country. But we still don’t have enough votes in the Senate.
Visit MENY.us to take action now. There are just twenty one days left to pass this bill.
In Illinois, civil unions are slated to start this coming Thursday. Officials are planning celebrations all over the state, with Chicago’s official ceremony happening at 10am at Wrigley Square.
But not everyone’s celebrating. A Catholic Charities adoption organization is so opposed to placing children with parents in a civil union that they’ve decided to simply abandon the 350 foster kids they currently serve. Now the state will have to step in to take care of the children.
The fight over Minnesota’s anti-gay constitutional amendment is continuing to heat up, even though voters won’t have a chance to weigh in for another year.
This week Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the legislation — a purely symbolic act that has no legal impact, but makes for good PR. In addition, the White House issued a statement opposing the measure.
In California, we’re approaching a June 13th hearing over two important issues. The first is whether Judge Walker should have been disqualified from hearing the Prop 8 case because, as a gay man in a relationship, the outcome affected him. The second issue is whether the public should be denied access to the video record of the trial.
The Prop 8 proponents have been tying each other in logical knots over both issues. Regarding Judge Walker, their latest claim is that he should be disqualified because Prop 8 affects gay people, but not straight people.
Really. That’s what they’re saying now. They actually wrote in a court filing that no existing heterosexual marriage is affected by gay couples. Which is great! It’s what we’ve been saying all along. Apparently, Ted Olson and David Boies are so persuasive they’ve even convinced their opposing counsel.
The whole point of those ads was telling people that gay marriage has consequences. And now they say it doesn’t? Either they were lying then or they’re lying now.
Either way, we can’t wait to see them torn to shreds in court on June 13th.
Let’s check some international headlines: This week Human Rights Watch launched a campaign to persuade Latvian officials to provide recognition to same-sex couples. Chilean activists have announced a rally for marriage in Santiago on June 25. And in France, MP Brigitte Barèges ignited a firestorm when she said that gay weddings are equivalent to “unions with animals.” After being unanimously condemned — and even called “disgraceful” by members of her own party — Barèges refused to apologize and said she was just kidding.
Those are the headlines. Click over here to subscribe to weekly updates or over here to watch some of our previous coverage, including bad news in Minnesota and the Republicans who are struggling to turn their party around on LGBT issues.