Archives – July, 2011
By Adam Bink
The National Organization for Marriage sent out one of their insanely long e-mails and published it on NOMBlog. The topic was how an estimated 10,000 (what a nice round number) turned out at their “let the people vote” rallies on Sunday. Some notes, starting with Fox News:
And on Fox News it was as if the massive rallies simply did not exist. We note with growing concern how rarely Fox News reports in a balanced way on the gay marriage issue—with a few shining exceptions like Bill O’Reilly.
All Brian has to do is take a stroll through DropFox to see same-sex marriage being compared to marrying ducks, as one simple example, to see that, well, Fox doesn’t report in a balanced way — their coverage consistently slants against equality. Clearly, Brian is upset his rallies didn’t get coverage, but let’s not go overboard, here.
On Rick Perry:
We got a very troubling, albeit only preliminary, warning sign from Gov. Rick Perry. We love Gov. Perry, who has a very strong record on life and marriage—but on the other hand, this just happened.
It happened at the Aspen Institute, a very upscale, insider gathering, where people from both sides of the aisle comes together to share ideas, rub elbows, and confirm one another as members of the cosmopolitan elite.
It was at this venue that Gov. Perry was asked about New York’s gay marriage bill, and according to multiple reports he said he was “fine” with it because such decisions should be left up to the states.
Fine? Fine with gay marriage?
Perry quickly walked it back.
We don’t have to argue with mainstream media types. In 2012 New York will have an election. These senators will face their voters, in primaries and in general elections. We will find out if New Yorkers in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Long Island, and New York City really like electing politicians who lie, flip-flop and then brag about how noble it was to sell out their base and their constituents.
Will GOP elites nationally be misled by this absurd new meme that it’s safe for Republicans to vote for gay marriage—not to mention abandoning the other social issues?
NOM does their best to ignore the fact that you can’t find a lawmaker who’s been defeated in a general election in which marriage played a leading role. I think we’ll see that trend continue, by and large, in 2012. It’s a long way until 2012, and everything will just keep moving in favor of equality when people see the sky hasn’t fallen and their lawmaker did the right thing.
By Adam Bink
The two interrogatories pressed by the plaintiff ask “What, if anything, do you contend are the compelling justifications for section 3 of DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 77″ (Interrogatory no. 1) and “What, if anything, do you assert are the legitimate government interests rationally advanced by section 3 of DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7?” (Interrogatory no. 3). BLAG objects to both on the ground that, to the extent they are construed as contention interrogatories, they are premature. That argument is disingenuous; at the time BLAG responded, the discovery deadline was three days away, and it is now closed. (emphasis added)
BLAG also objects to Interrogatory no. 1 because “it assumes the legal conclusion that Congress required a compelling justification to enact Section 3 of DOMA.” In fact, the interrogatory assumes only that, if the Court finds st ct scrutiny to be the appropriate standard of review, BLAG may wish to proffer compelling justifications for DOMA. The plaintiff is entitled to know what those justifications are, and BLAG is there directed to answer Interrogatory 1.
In response to Interrogatory no. 3, BLAG sets forth authority for the proposition that under rational basis analysis, there is no need to demonstrate the basis on which the legislature actually chose to create classifications. That may be an accurate summary of the law, but it misses the point. BLAG will presumably suggest to the Court potentially rational grounds for the enactment of DOMA, and it must disclose those to the plaintiff in response to a proper contention interrogatory. Accordingly, BLAG shall answer Interrogatory no. 3 as well.
Joe at AMERICABlog notes how the judge’s use of the word “disingenuous” is interesting. It certainly is.
By Adam Bink
Not a ton going on, though we’re prepping to launch some new efforts here at Courage, so not a ton of time to write. More on that over the weekend.
What are you reading, and what are your weekend plans?
By Adam Bink
The California Supreme Court has set for Tuesday, September 6th, at 10 AM PST, which is the first day of the Court’s fall session. The Court will hear arguments with regard to whether proponents of ballot initiatives have standing to defend their initiatives when challenged in court and the state’s public officials refuse to defend such initiatives. The good folks at National Center for Lesbian Rights tell me to expect a ruling on that issue in December or January. Of course, with this expedited hearing schedule, that could change.
In a previous announcement, the US District Court for the Northern District of California has set August 29th at 9 AM PST as the date to hear the motion to release video recordings from the first phase of the trial.
Of course, we’ll be there with bells on at both!
By Adam Bink
Many of you probably remember the story of Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia, a couple nearly torn apart by DOMA whose saga as a married couple trying to stay together became a national flashpoint on DOMA. If you aren’t familiar, check out their CNN profile:
After many of you joined with Josh, Henry, AllOut and many other organizations to demand that the government stop the deportations, Attorney General Holder made a rare intervention in the case. Eventually, the Immigration Chief Counsel in the case halted the deportation.
Today, Josh and Henry joined with Courage Campaign to write a letter to their Senator, Robert Menendez. Despite last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA, and President Obama’s firm endorsement of the bill, Sen. Menendez is not one of the 29 Senators who are publicly in support of the bill, even while constituents like Josh and Henry suffer from discrimination under DOMA.
Already, constituents have co-signed their letter and left notes for Sen. Menendez. Here’s Lawrence A. in Livingston, NJ:
Please repeal DOMA. My life has changed forever after my partner was locked out of the USA in 2003. The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador refused to recognize his NYC issued work visa in the paranoia and chaos of the post 9/11 State Department. Were we able to be married and recognized on a federal level, my soul mate and I could still be together today. I have a basic human and civil right to love who I choose to love. Everyone should have this right. Please do THE RIGHT THING and vote to repeal DOMA.
And John R. in Jersey City, who sums DOMA up succinctly:
My partner and I have been together for 35 years, yet we lack the basic legal protections that heterosexual couples who’ve been married for 1 day have.
Check out their letter to Sen. Menendez below, and most particularly if you live in or are from New Jersey, co-sign their letter to Sen. Menendez asking him to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act. We’ll deliver you signatures and the letter to his office personally.
Please see the letter below from Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia, a married couple in New Jersey who were nearly torn apart because of DOMA. Despite President Obama endorsing Sen. Feinstein’s Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA, your Senator, Robert Menendez, is still not a co-sponsor of that bill. Can you click here to co-sign their letter to Sen. Menendez? We’ll deliver your signatures, and their letter, to his office. -Adam Bink, Director of Online Programs, Courage Campaign
Dear Sen. Menendez,We write as a married same-sex couple on behalf of ourselves and many other New Jersey families who are being denied equality, out of concern over a particular piece of legislation.
Sen. Feinstein has introduced S. 598, the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the odious “Defense of Marriage Act,” or DOMA. We know you are a supporter of equality for same-sex couples, Sen. Menendez. What’s more, as the lead sponsor of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes the Uniting American Families Act, you know that ending DOMA would eliminate the discrimination in immigration law that nearly forced Henry’s deportation, even though we are legally married.
It is therefore with surprise that we learned you are not one of the 29 Senators who publicly support the Respect for Marriage Act. As you know, Senator, this issue would permit the tens of thousands of same-sex couples — many of whom live in New Jersey — to have access to the over 1,100 federal rights and benefits to which heterosexual couples are entitled. These include Social Security benefits, health insurance, immigration benefits, tax provisions, and more. These benefits would strengthen New Jersey families by providing tools that help loving, committed couples and their families to take care of each other. What’s more, if the Respect for Marriage Act becomes law, this recognition would not stop when couples cross state lines — the lawful relationships of loving, committed same-sex couples could be recognized in all 50 states.
Through our Stop The Deportations Project we’ve joined with other same-sex bi-national couples who are being denied immigration benefits due to DOMA. Many are facing the nightmare of deportation and separation because of DOMA. We hope it’s an oversight that you have not yet joined your colleague Sen. Lautenberg in co-sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act, Sen. Menendez. We, along with supporters of equality across the country, look forward to your prompt reply.
Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia
5650 Frist Center
Princeton, NJ 08544
Nomination of Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court: reaction, timeline and impact on the Prop 8 case
By Adam Bink
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, the nation’s oldest and largest LGBT bar organization, told the Bay Area Reporter following the announcement Tuesday, July 26 that, “We are proud that the governor is committed to having a judiciary that reflects the diversity of the citizens of California.”
Out lesbian Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, (D-San Diego), who sits on the Assembly Judiciary Committee, told the B.A.R. that Liu “has an excellent reputation as a thoughtful and knowledgeable legal scholar and professor. I congratulate Governor Brown on the appointment.”
In a statement released by Brown’s office, Liu stated he was “deeply honored” to be chosen for the position and looks “forward to the opportunity to serve the people of California on our state’s highest court.”
Liu, 40, a professor at UC Berkeley’s Law School, had been President Barack Obama’s nominee for a seat on the liberal San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But he withdrew his nomination two months ago due to a filibuster by Republican senators that prevented a vote being taken on his confirmation.
The opposition was partly based on Liu’s affiliation with LGBT-friendly legal groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union. He was also critical of Proposition 8, the voter-approved 2008 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in the Golden State.
He was one of 59 legal scholars who signed on to what was deemed a “rare joint statement” released by the No on 8 campaign that called the pro-Prop 8 side’s electoral tactics false and misleading.
After the anti-gay constitutional amendment passed, Liu penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in which he wrote, “There is no question that it targets a historically vulnerable group and eliminates a very important right.” He added that the more people see married same-sex couples “… the more gay marriage will become an unremarkable thread of our social fabric.”
He also filed a brief with the state’s highest court in which he backed the legal challenge to Prop 8. When asked about it during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in March, Liu insisted that his brief did not argue for same-sex marriage on a national level, but rather was only talking about California law at the time.
“I have not previously expressed any view on whether the federal Constitution confers a right to same-sex marriage and because that issue may come before me as a judge if I am confirmed, I believe it is not appropriate for me to do so now,” said Liu.
Susan Bluer, who chairs BALIF’s Judiciary Committee, stated that “so many of us were saddened by the politics that prevented Professor Liu from being confirmed by the Senate to the 9th Circuit due in part to his affiliation with progressive organizations such as the ACLU, and we feel justice is served by this appointment.”
Jennifer Pizer, the legal director and Arnold D. Kassoy Senior Scholar of Law at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law, wrote in an email from Barcelona, where she is currently teaching, that Liu has ” a brilliant legal mind, and is sensible, focused on solving problems, and an awfully nice person.”
Pizer added that, “I think people found him impressive during his federal confirmation hearings, both in substance and in temperament. Many continued to hope he’d become a judge, despite his confirmation having become blocked in the Senate.”
Some information on the timeline and whether Liu will be seated (or hear the case at all) before the Court hears the certified question submitted by the 9th Circuit on the issue of standing in the Perry case:
Liu is likely to face a more welcoming reception to the state court. He is set to replace former Associate Justice Carlos Moreno, a strong backer of LGBT rights, who retired from the court earlier this year.
The State Bar’s Commission of Judicial Nominees Evaluation must first review Liu’s nomination before it goes to the Commission on Judicial Appointments, consisting of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, senior presiding justice of the state Court of Appeal.
The three women will consider the proposed appointment at 3 p.m. Wednesday, August 31 in San Francisco. Atkins said she “fully” expects Liu will be confirmed and “will go on to serve with distinction for many years to come.”
It is unclear if he will be seated in time for when the court hears oral arguments on whether Prop 8 can be defended in federal court by its backers. Due to his involvement in the fight over Prop 8 three years ago, it is likely the law’s supporters would request he recuse himself should his nomination be approved prior to the hearing, expected to take place as early as September.
It would not be surprising if the same crowd that is trying to throw out Walker’s ruling over his sexual orientation will demand that Liu recuse himself here.