November 7, 2011
By Matt Baume
More positive polling in Maine and Washington. Gay couples get a green light to sue over civil unions in New Jersey. A vote on DOMA gets postponed until this week. And marriage equality gets a boost from the National Association of Flight Attendants.
We’re continuing the countdown to the next milestone in the Prop 8 case. Last week I told you that December 5th at 10am is the deadline for the California Supreme Court’s ruling on standing. And this week we learned that we’ll be back before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for oral arguments on December 8 at 2:30pm. We’ll be counting down to the 8th throughout this and future episodes.
The fight to repeal DOMA took a tiny step backwards this week — but then it took seventy steps forward. The Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the anti-gay marriage ban, was slated for a vote on Thursday, but at the last moment that vote was delayed for one week. Meanwhile, a group of 70 major employers filed an amicus brief in support of DOMA’s repeal.
Those employers include Microsoft, Starbucks, Blue Cross, Google, Nike, Time Warner, Xerox, and CBS, among many others. And they’re joined by an even wider array of organizations. That includes the Anti-Defamation League, the California Council of Churches, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Hindu American Foundation, People for the American Way, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Federation of Teachers, the Screen Actors Guild, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and, of course, the Association of Flight Attendants.
Among those opposing DOMA is Citizens for Responsibility for Ethics in Washington, who pointed out that DOMA creates a loophole that defeats ethics laws. Because DOMA prohibits government regulators from recognizing LGBTs’ marriages, we don’t have to abide by certain rules about nepotism or financial disclosure.
When the vote finally comes next Thursday, the Respect for Marriage Act will easily pass the Senate Judiciary Committee. Its success in the Senate is far less clear, but Freedom to Marry has been holding a series of salons to rally conservative support for the bill. The hope is that Republicans might find safety in numbers when they see how many of their colleagues support the freedom to marry.
Let’s take a look at news from the states. New polling in Maine shows a dramatic shift in favor of marriage equality among independent voters. The data from Public Policy Polling show that support among independents has increased from 46 percent to 53 percent — that’s 7 percentage points — in just two years. That’s good news for Equality Maine, which is preparing for a ballot fight in 2012.
There’s more good news in Washington state, where a new survey shows that if the legislature passed a marriage equality bill, 55 percent of voters would support it in a referendum. Unfortunately, lawmakers haven’t announced any plan to pursue marriage equality in 2012, since conservative lawmakers could potentially block such a bill.
In New Jersey, couples headed back to court in the latest round of a lawsuit over that state’s unequal civil unions. The case passed an initial hurdle on Friday, with a judge allowing the case to proceed on the grounds that civil unions don’t provide equal protection.
After one of its most successful legislative sessions in history, Equality California has been stumbling as leadership departs for other projects. This week the organization announced that Joan Garry, the former Executive Director of GLAAD, will help EQCA figure out its next steps.
And in Maryland, civil rights leader Julian Bond released a video in support of that state’s efforts to obtain marriage equality through legislative means. Bond is the third prominent African American to participate in the campaign. It’s a smart move, since earlier this year, African American churches in Prince George’s county played a role in defeating a marriage equality bill, so a diverse coalition is key to success in Maryland.
Those are the headlines for this week, remember to mark your calendars for December 8 at 2:30pm for the next arguments in the Prop 8 case. Join us at AFER.org for more info on the case to overturn Prop 8, and MarriageNewsWatch.com for more info on all these stories and more. We’ll see you next week.