Filed under: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
We’re counting down to the next ruling in the Prop 8 case. A Republican-backed bill in New Hampshire would replace marriage with civil unions for everyone — including siblings. Get ready for a showdown on the Defense of Marriage Act, and things are heating up in Ohio.
December 5th and 10am. That’s the deadline for the California Supreme Court to rule in the Prop 8 case. And the good news is that any way they rule is a victory for marriage equality. They could either end the case right here, with Prop 8 being found unconstitutional. Or they could allow the appeal to move forward on the merits, in which case we would prove — for a second time — that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.
The ruling could come at any time, but the latest possible date is December 5th. We’ll be counting down throughout this episode and during future episodes until we have that decision.
In New Hampshire, the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would end marriage equality, replacing it with severely limited legal protections for LGBT families. Governor John Lynch opposes the measure, and so do most residents. A survey earlier this month shows just 27% support repeal, compared with 50% who are opposed. And 44% say that they’re more likely to vote against an anti-gay candidate, compared to just 14% who were more likely to vote for an anti-gay politician.
One weird quirk of the proposed bill is that it wouldn’t just apply to LGBTs. It would also allow siblings to form a civil union. The bill is sponsored by Representative David Bates, who so far has avoided explaining his eagerness to facilitate consanguinity.
Meanwhile a growing bi-partisan coalition opposes the measure. Visit StandingUpForNHFamilies.org to learn more about the organization, which includes a former New Hampshire Chief Justice, Vice-Chair of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, a former New Hampshire Attorney General, local business leaders, politicians, and a wide array of other public figures.
Ohio’s stepping up pressure on legislators with a rally planned for this Saturday, November 5th. Equality Ohio is joining forces with a Catholic organization, GetEQUAL, and an equality org from neighboring Kentucky for a rally from 11am to 6pm in Fountain Square in Cincinnati. The action comes on the heels of a recent survey from October showing 62% of voters support some form of legal recognition for same sex couples, with only 34% opposed.
In national news, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold debate on repealing the Defense of Marriage Act on Thursday of this week. The committee is dominated by co-sponsors of the bill, so it’s likely to have an easy passage. From there, it moves to the full Senate, where its survival is far less certain.
But the assault on DOMA continues to ramp up on multiple fronts, with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network filing a lawsuit this week on behalf of soldiers and veterans. Even with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, gay and lesbian servicemembers are still prohibited from accessing the same spousal benefits that are available to straight colleagues.
And in Brazil this week, the country’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of a lesbian couple seeking to have their civil union recognized as a marriage. The long-term effects of this ruling are unclear, since it isn’t binding in state courts and may apply exclusively to this one couple, so we’ll need to pay close attention to see what the next steps are from Brazilian activists.
That’s the news for this week, join us online at AFER.org for the latest on the federal challenge to Proposition 8, and visit MarriageNewsWatch.com for more breaking news headlines. We’ll see you next week.
By Adam Bink
As of now, the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is finally a memory. At the stroke of midnight, the policy ended, approximately 9 months after Congress voted to repeal it and the President signed that repeal into law.
The proudest memory I have in this fight is working with the Courage team and all of you at Prop8TrialTracker…sharing information on the whip count, reporting back after calls to Senators, pushing back on mis-information. I took a trip down memory lane through some past coverage and thought you’d like to join. Some highlights from late in the fight:
- A legislative analysis post laying out why DADT repeal is not dead yet after the Senate initially failed to reach cloture on repeal.
- Whip counts. An example is here on the Lieberman/Collins bill. Check out the comments — sharing information and tips like it’s our job. And it was!
- The Senate victory thread after we defeated the filibuster.
- The signing ceremony thread.
- Post-ceremony roundup of coverage.
The comments are just so much fun to read back through. What a mighty force we were, together, pushing this thing home. Just like in New York State on marriage equality, we kept pushing and pushing and pushing until it was finished.
And to all the servicemembers who served in silence, or who took a stand and stood up, thank you for both your service and your courage. It took courage to do either, and you helped get a nation to pay attention to this injustice.
For more coverage, here’s the link to all the posts on that topic.
Let’s close with three stats. Those numbers are 5,730; 226,779; and 723,145.
Those are the numbers of phone calls Courage members and P8TTers made to Senators; letters we wrote to family and friends; and signatures delivered in support of repeal. Truly remarkable. And when compared with other allied member organizations, bloggers, blog readers and folks in Congress carrying the banner high like Patrick Murphy, we could do anything.
The fight pivots to repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. We need your help to do that. Right now, servicemembers can serve openly and honestly, but a lesbian Air Force servicemember cannot obtain health insurance for her spouse. The spouse of a gay Marine does not receive survivor benefits if his husband dies in the line of duty. They serve their country, but don’t get what should be coming down them. They’re still treated as second-class servicemembers. That’s where we come in. We repealed one law after a long push. And we can do it again.
This is an open thread for coverage of this proud day.
Update: A wonderful piece from former Rep. Patrick Murphy on Huffington Post, and a wonderful profile in the NYTimes on JD Smith, now better known as Josh, who is able to be open about his identity and his work with OutServe.
Update 2: Statement from President Obama:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2011
Statement by the President on the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Today, the discriminatory law known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is finally and formally repealed. As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.
I was proud to sign the Repeal Act into law last December because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans. Today’s achievement is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them.
For more than two centuries, we have worked to extend America’s promise to all our citizens. Our armed forces have been both a mirror and a catalyst of that progress, and our troops, including gays and lesbians, have given their lives to defend the freedoms and liberties that we cherish as Americans. Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals.
Update 3: A transcript of today’s news conference with Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen on DADT and other topics.
Update 4: In response to today’s events, the government filed a suggestion of mootness and motion to dismiss the complain in the LCR v. USA case.
Thanks to Kathleen for passing this story along
By Adam Bink
What an interesting and heartwarming tale:
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nearly 70 years after expelling Melvin Dwork for being gay, the Navy is changing his discharge from “undesirable” to “honorable” — marking what is believed to be the first time the Pentagon has taken such a step on behalf of a World War II veteran since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The Navy notified the 89-year-old former corpsman last month that he will now be eligible for the benefits he had long been denied, including medical care and a military burial.
Dwork spent decades fighting to remove the blot on his record.
“I resented that word ‘undesirable,’” said Dwork, who was expelled in 1944, at the height of the war, and is now a successful interior designer in New York. “That word really stuck in my craw. To me it was a terrible insult. It had to be righted. It’s really worse than ‘dishonorable.’ I think it was the worst word they could have used.”
For Dwork, victory came with a heartbreaking truth: Last year, when the Navy finally released his records, he learned that his name had been given up by his own boyfriend at the time.
The decision to amend his discharge papers was made by the Board for Corrections of Naval Records in Washington.
In its Aug. 17 proceedings, obtained by The Associated Press, the board noted that the Navy has undergone a “radical departure” from the outright ban on gays that was in place in 1944. The board pointed out Dwork’s “exemplary period of active duty” and said that changing the terms of his discharge was done “in the interest of justice.”
Navy officials declined to discuss Dwork’s case, citing privacy reasons.
“I think that with the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ there is a growing realization within the military that not only gays be allowed to serve openly now but this was probably the wrong policy all along,” said Aaron Belkin, an expert on gays in the U.S. military at the University of California, Los Angeles.
He added: “This illustrates, at least in the case of one person, that the military is trying to set things right.”
About 100,000 troops were discharged between World War II and 1993 for being gay and lost their benefits as a result, Belkin said. Under the more relaxed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which allowed gays to serve as long as they kept their sexual orientation to themselves, about 14,000 troops were forced out, but most were given honorable discharges that allowed them to draw benefits. The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” officially takes effect Tuesday.
Wrong made right, nearly 70 years later. Amazing.