May 10, 2012
By Jacob Combs
Yesterday was a hugely historic day, with President Obama becoming the first sitting U.S. president to endorse full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Yesterday, we brought you live updates before, during and after the President’s announcement; here is a collection of news items from late yesterday and early this morning on this game-changing endorsement and other marriage related news.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Ted Olson, the Republican member of the two-attorney duo that successfully litigated the Prop 8 trial at the district court and before the Ninth Circuit, said that he was “gratified that the president has thrown his personal support and the authority of the presidency behind the goal of justice, equality, and decency for all citizens.”
He also spoke out about the passage of Amendment One in North Carolina on Tuesday, noting the similarities between the nullification of domestic partnerships there and the rollback of marriage rights effected in California by Prop 8. ”This is a law,” Olsen said, “that withdraws existing rights from people based upon their sexual orientation. It withdraws rights and privileges that gay and lesbian citizens have had in North Carolina for some time now. That is one of the bases on which the Ninth Circuit specifically struck down Proposition 8.”
Yesterday, Scottie reported that two U.S. Senators had made public their support for marriage equality as well. Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed finally completed his (extremely gradual) evolution on the issue of DOMA, tweeting that he now supported marriage equality and would cosponsor the Respect for Marriage Act. The support of Senator Reed puts us at 33 Senators in support of repealing DOMA–we need 17 more for a majority and 27 more to break a filibuster.
In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced his support as well in a nuanced statement, saying, “My personal belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman. But in a civil society, I believe that people should be able to marry whomever they want, and it’s no business of mine if two men or two women want to get married.”
For anyone trying to parse out the political and electoral effect of Obama’s announcement, the short-term reaction yesterday was apparent and crystal-clear. According to Buzzfeed, the Obama campaign received an astonishing $1 million in spontaneous contributions in the first 90 minutes after the announcement yesterday. Clearly, supporters were fired up about the President’s move.
The marriage announcement will also undoubtedly help Obama with big-money donors as well. The Washington Post reported the other day that gay men make up 1 in 6 of Obama’s top fundraising bundlers. For those who had hesitated to raise money for Obama as he continued evolving, yesterday’s announcement removes a final barrier to outright support for the campaign. ”This is beyond unifying–it’s electrifying,” said Eugene Sepulveda, a former top bundler.
It’s also worth noting just how much the Obama campaign has embraced this announcement and chosen to make it a significant news story. Not only did the campaign send out a fundraising email touting the President’s new views and seeking donations, it also put Obama’s announcement on the front page of the campaign’s website. Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt sent two tweets out highlighting the marriage announcement as part of the campaign’s narrative that Obama is a forward-looking leader while Romney is a creature of the past. ”We’ve amended Constitution to expand rights. Romney, RNC on record saying they want to enshrine discrimination into it,” read one of them.
UPDATE: The Obama campaign is out today with a new ad titled “Mitt Romney: Backwards on Equality.” It really is amazing how actively the campaign is incorporating marriage equality into its messaging.
Follow the link for more marriage and LGBT news, including an update on civil unions in Colorado.
In related almost-marriage news, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a press conference yesterday that he would call a special session to make sure the legislature took up the civil unions bill that was killed on Tuesday night by Republicans’ parliamentary machinations. Hickenlooper, who at several points during the conference began tearing up, said that blocking civil unions legislation is tantamount to “depriving people of their civil rights.”
The governor’s staff will spend today deciding which bills he will call up for discussion in the special session. Most likely, the governor’s instructions will focus on bills concerning public safety, economic development and water projects. He also said that civil unions will “certainly” be considered. The special session could begin as early as Friday, but will probably start Monday. Under Colorado’s constitution, the Denver Post reports, ”lawmakers don’t have to do anything other than convene the special session.”
In an editorial praising the governor’s decision, the Post wrote simply, “Bluff called,” and blasted House Speaker Frank Nulty for his actions on the House floor on Tuesday:
Let us be perfectly clear about what happened. Civil unions were supposed to die in a House committee on a party line vote and spare the speaker the embarrassing duty of killing them through anti-democratic legislative gimmickry — but SB 2 wouldn’t die. Not once, but three times in separate committees a Republican broke ranks and sided with Democrats in favor of the bill. The tide for civil unions had risen so far that it was lapping deep into the GOP itself. Unexpectedly cornered, McNulty invoked the phantom of an “impasse.”
In a special session there will be no excuse to cite an impasse.
McNulty will either have to admit he’s refusing to allow debate because he doesn’t wish to allow debate — if nothing else, an advancement in honesty — or he will stay true to his word and let the process proceed fairly.
And finally, take a look at this excellent and provocative graphic from the UK’s Guardian, breaking down LGBT rights state by state in the U.S. It’s remarkable to look at the geographic breakdown of tolerance and discrimination visually.
What are you reading today?