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Washington Blade profiles our work to pick up DOMA votes

DOMA Repeal

By Adam Bink

From The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson:

Votes lined up in Senate committee for DOMA repeal

New support for legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act assures that the necessary votes are in place for a favorable Senate committee vote on the measure as advocates maintain hearings should take place first before advancing the bill.

Last week, the Respect of Marriage Act, legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would repeal the 1996 anti-gay law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, gained two additional co-sponsors: Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).

Kohl’s support for the legislation is critical because he’s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and would have a vote when the roll is called to move the legislation to the floor. Lynn Becker, a Kohl spokesperson, said the senator had previously considered DOMA a state issue.

Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), another member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also said she’d vote for repeal of DOMA in committee, although she’s stopped short of co-sponsoring the legislation. Last month, the Minnesota Independent reported that the senator would back the Respect for Marriage Act.

In a statement provided to the Washington Blade, Klobuchar confirmed that legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act has her support.

“I would vote to repeal this law because I believe same-sex couples and their families should have access to the same basic rights, including hospital visitation and survivor benefits,” Klobuchar said.

The support from Kohl and Klobuchar means that the Respect for Marriage Act has at least 10 votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee — enough to advance the bill to the Senate floor.

The two Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee publicly came on board in support for DOMA repeal after the Courage Campaign, a progressive California-based grassroots organizing network, pushed the lawmakers to articulate their support.

Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign, said his organization began eyeing important votes in the committee upon introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act in March.

“It was two situations where we had this idea … to have people tell their stories locally and to make sure … that these legislators heard that they all have constituents, supporters and donors who are affected by DOMA,” Jacobs said.

In Minnesota, Jacobs said the Courage Campaign circulated an online petition to encourage Klobuchar to voice support for the Respect for Marriage Act. After the initiative, the Minnesota senator said she’d support the legislation.

“We published a blog post on our Prop 8 Trial Tracker asking about her,” Jacobs said. “That got picked up by the Minnesota Independent, and together with folks in state, there was a little pressure put on, and within about a day, as I recall, a state senator had gotten confirmation that she would repeal of DOMA.”

Similarly for Kohl, Courage Campaign launched an online campaign to encourage his support for DOMA repeal. According to the organization, more than 1,000 people wrote to Kohl urging him to back the Respect for Marriage Act.

“We contacted our members in his state — we’ve got 7,000 — and they contacted him,” Jacobs said. “They gave us some really terrific stories and, again, last week, his state director contacted the local equality organization that we’re working with to confirm, to say, ‘Yes. yes, yes, we are going to be on board.’”

Despite having the votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee, imminent plans that exist for the Respect for Marriage Act in the panel are unclear. Erica Chabot, a Senate Judiciary Committee spokesperson, said she was unable to communicate with Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) during the congressional recess about his plans.

Advocates working to advance the legislation say hearings should take place before the bill is sent to the Senate floor to follow regular order and build additional support.

Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said “a tremendous amount of work” is needed before the Senate is ready to pass DOMA.

“We are working with Chairman Leahy and other leaders to build support for the bill and we believe a hearing is a good first step to start that education process before decisions are made on tactics for passage,” Cole-Schwartz said.

Jacobs said he would defer to Feinstein’s judgment on when the time is right to hold a committee vote on the Respect for Marriage Act.

“I would defer to Sen. Feinstein, and I say that because I really do trust her on this issue,” Jacobs said. “She looked me in the eye in February — and I’ll never forget this — and she said, ‘I want to repeal DOMA.’”

Still, Jacobs maintained supporters of DOMA repeal “don’t have to sit still for two years” and said congressional testimony would be a big step because pro-repeal hearings have never taken place in the Senate.

Brian Weiss, a Feinstein spokesperson, deferred to earlier comments the senator made during a news conference in March upon introduction of the legislation where she articulated a sentiment similar to HRC’s.

Feinstein predicted that hearings would be held in the Senate Judiciary Committee, followed by a successful vote to report the bill to the floor.

“We use the regular order as much as we can and we can use it the entire way so that the hearings are held and no one can say we pushed anything through, so that everybody has a chance to express themselves,” Feinstein said.

Even if the bill is reported to the Senate floor, significant hurdles remain in passing the legislation. Ending a filibuster in the Senate requires 60 votes, so at least seven Republicans would have to vote in favor of ending debate on the measure. The Respect for Marriage Act as of Tuesday had no GOP support.

Further, the legislation is unlikely to see a vote in the GOP-controlled House, where U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has directed the House general counsel to litigate on behalf of DOMA in court.

To facilitate more support for DOMA repeal, Jacobs said Courage Campaign intends to have a grassroots volunteers in each state by early May and in each congressional district by the end of June pushing lawmakers to back the Respect for Marriage Act.

“We’re going to organize and organize and organize,” Jacobs said. “I assure you, we will see more senators getting on board.”

Today, we’re launching a new action targeting two more Senators on which I’ll be posting later. You can sign up for our DOMA campaign updates here.


  • 1. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 2:13 am

  • 2. Ann S.  |  April 27, 2011 at 2:17 am


  • 3. Ronnie  |  April 27, 2011 at 2:17 am

    Meet Ron & Tom. Tom passed away on March 8, 2011 (RIP).They were together for 55years & legally married in 2008. Freedom to Marry documents how DOMA has negatively affected them as a couple & in the wake of Tom's passing…… : ( …Ronnie:

  • 4. JonT  |  April 27, 2011 at 2:24 am

  • 5. Straight for Equalit  |  April 27, 2011 at 2:42 am

  • 6. Sagesse  |  April 27, 2011 at 2:50 am

    What Courage Campaign does best.

  • 7. The Gog.  |  April 27, 2011 at 5:05 am

    Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 62.1(a), Defendant-Intervenors’ have filed a Motion to Vacate
    Judgment. (See Docket Item No. 768.) Defendant-Intervenors have requested a hearing on July 11, 2011. Due to the nature of the Motion, the Court finds good cause to expedite and specially set a hearing on the Motion. Accordingly, the Court advances the hearing to June 13, 2011 at 9 a.m. The parties shall comply with the following briefing schedule:
    (1) On or before May 13, 2011, any party desiring to do so, shall file their Opposition to the Motion;
    (2) On or before May 23, 2011, any party desiring to do so, shall file their Reply.
    In their papers, the parties shall address the specific procedural posture of this case and how the Court should dispose of this Motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 62.1(a).

  • 8. Rhie  |  April 27, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Fourteenth For ALL!

  • 9. Kate  |  April 27, 2011 at 5:18 am

    They're actually going to listen to these idiots???? I guess it's rhetorical to ask why the Court has to do this.

  • 10. DaveP  |  April 27, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Now THAT is a really well done video. This is the kind of thing that really can change minds in this issue – IF a lot of people see it!

    OK, all you Facebookers and Twitterers, ready set, go viral!

  • 11. Alan E.  |  April 27, 2011 at 5:54 am

    ugg long morning.

  • 12. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 6:07 am

    UPDATE: Perry (as already reported here):
    Order Expediting Hearing on Motion to Vacate and Set Briefing Schedule.

    Hearing set for June 13, 2011 at 9am

  • 13. AnonyGrl  |  April 27, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Any indication or guess if THIS will be televised?

  • 14. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 6:35 am

    My guess would be no. But it would be wonderful if it was!

  • 15. Michelle Evans  |  April 27, 2011 at 6:45 am

    This is a perfect case to bring a lawsuit against DOMA. I would hope that some group like the ACLU, or a couple of attorneys like those working against Prop 8 would want to get involved and help this man–and thus help so many others, too. There is no more perfect example of blatant discrimination against LGBT people than what is happening in this case. They were married, there should be nothing else that matters.

  • 16. Michelle Evans  |  April 27, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Yes, and look that they have expedited this hearing for the proponents, but we have to wait until next Fall for the next step for our side, let alone lift the stay that harms us each day. No discrimination here… Not!

  • 17. Peterplumber  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Filed order (STEPHEN R. REINHARDT, MICHAEL DALY HAWKINS and N. RANDY SMITH)Appellants have moved this court to order the Plaintiffs and former District Judge Vaughn Walker to return copies of the video recordings of the trial proceedings in this case. Plaintiffs oppose the motion and have moved to unseal the video recordings. We construe Appellants’ motion as a motion to enforce, against Plaintiffs and Judge Walker, the protective order entered by the district court, see Doc. No. 425 (at ¶ 7.3) & Doc. No. 672, Perry v. Schwarzengger, No. 3:09-cv-02292 (N.D. Cal.), and Plaintiffs’ cross-motion as a motion to lift that order. Although jurisdiction over the merits of the decision below, including the judgment, has passed to this court, the district court has not been divested of its jurisdiction over ancillary matters, such as protective orders. Cf. Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982) (per curiam) (“The filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance – it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal.”) (emphasis added); see, e.g., Campbell v. Blodgett, 982 F.2d 1356, 1357 (9th Cir. 1993) (district court retains jurisdiction to issue discovery order); Masalosalo v. Stonewall Ins. Co., 718 F.2d 955, 957 (9th Cir. 1983) (district court retains jurisdiction to consider motion for attorney’s fees). Because the district court issued the protective order and has the power to grant the parties all the relief they seek, should relief be warranted, we direct the Clerk to TRANSFER Appellants’ motion (Doc. No. 338), Plaintiffs’ opposition and cross-motion (Doc. No. 340), Appellants’ reply and opposition (Doc. No. 346), Plaintiffs’ reply (Doc. No. 347), Judge Walker’s letter (Doc. No. 339), and Media Coalition’s motion to intervene (Doc. No. 343) and joinder in Plaintiffs’ motion to unseal (Doc. No. 345), to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 3:09-cv-02292-JW. IT IS SO ORDERED. [7732263] (KKW)

  • 18. Ann S.  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Sounds to me as though Judge Ware is to decide about the tapes and whether they should be sealed, unsealed, or what.

  • 19. Peterplumber  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:36 am

    This is an interesting twist. Now it's up to Walker's successor, James Ware, to decide what to do about the video and other trial records that are 'out there".
    I wonder if Walk's opinions carry any weight with Ware?

  • 20. Leo  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Also sounds to me like whatever he decides is going to be appealed back to 9CA.

  • 21. Reformed Conservativ  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Consider this statement

    . . . after the Courage Campaign . . . pushed . . . the lawmakers to articulate their support.

    Just a thought. Using active verbs like "pushed" does not seem very diplomatic to me. Being "pushed" to do something is hardly something that a legislator can proudly take back home to his constituents.

    Perhaps something more like . . .

    after the courage campaign . . . encouraged . . . the lawmakers to articulate their support.

    I have noticed this type of thing several times here, and just thought I should say something about that. But let me add IMHO just to be safe.

  • 22. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:59 am

    UPDATE: Perry

    9th Circuit has issued an order, passing the matter of the video recordings of the trial back to the district court. I'll post the order as soon as I can get Scribd to respond.

  • 23. Rhie  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Heh well anyone who thinks that the politician actually says what really happened to his constituents is really living in a fantasy. They'll spin it as they always do. It won't hurt them in the slightest to have the truth told here.

    Anyone who believes politicians do things that are right because they are right and not because they have been pushed to do it should come see a bridge I have for sale.

  • 24. JPM  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Rhode Island Surrenders on Marriage Equality.

    more info and commentary in my DKos diary

  • 25. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Here's the ORDER (w/all associated docs attached)

    Sorry about the delay. Scribd has been really flaky today.

  • 26. Kate  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:29 am

    You are the greatest!!! I'm sure glad you're on our side.

  • 27. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I don't view expediting the hearing as being "for the proponents." The sooner we get this matter dealt with, the better for everyone, imo

  • 28. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Of course Walker's opinions carry weight with Ware. They carry weight with every judge, as any judge's opinions would. This isn't about personalities; it's about the law.

    What is interesting, is that the 9th Circuit's decision that this matter properly belongs in the district court means that if Walker hadn't retired yet, Walker would be deciding this issue.

  • 29. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:41 am

    The feeling is mutual. :)

  • 30. Ed  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:42 am

    ok….OT…..and yes, there will be language here… But….God Damn It…..Possible civil unions on RI?

    Ok…Where the *@!? am I an CITIZEN!!!
    Yes….Rick and I don't want to get married right now, but @$!!! you, telling me that we can't!!! I've gone thru HIV, depression, and his suicide attempt……DO NOT FUCKING tell me that I don't LOVE him!!!! Or that he doesn't deserve the 1,138 civil marriage rights of mine when he dies (honestly, I'd like to die first, and leave him my benefits…….Oh wait…..yeah, that's right…..DOMA).
    This Is a rant, and I'm sorry…..but I'm fucking pissed!!!
    My partner (HUSBAND) deserves every CIVIL benefit as any other window/widower……..
    Chew on THAT Maggie and Bryan….

  • 31. Kate  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:47 am

    NOM is certainly spinning it on their blog as being in their favor. Speaking of which, how do we get Louis and Maggie to debate marriage rights? I'd love to see that happen.

  • 32. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:55 am

    The outcome in RI really sucks. I'm sorry Ed : (

    sorry too for your heartaches….

    @….I’ve gone thru HIV, depression, and his suicide attempt…

  • 33. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:57 am


  • 34. Maggie4NoH8  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:59 am

    So – any body out there have a feeling of which way this will go? Any chance Ware will unseal?

    My Netflix queue is kinda empty!!! LOL

  • 35. Fr. Bill  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I have already emmailed the Democratic Town Chairs in Newport and Jamestown,RI infoming them of my desire to send a campaign contribution to whomever runs against Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed in the primary. It's the best I can do right now.

  • 36. Ed  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:25 am

    thanks….it was a hard fight….he's 6-3", I'm only 5-8"…..but I was able to save him. (Not from the hiv, but from his "attempt"")

  • 37. Ed  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Yes it does….now I have to hear Maggie and Bryan gloat…….I think that's worse than losing……

  • 38. Ann S.  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Sending you hugs from the left coast.

  • 39. Ed  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Thank You. It wasn't a fun experience

  • 40. nightshayde  |  April 27, 2011 at 11:16 am

    He can't un-retire for a little while, can he?

  • 41. Ray in MA  |  April 27, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Gee! this sounds familiar!

    Ray in MA February 13, 2011 at 10:48 am

  • 42. Ray in MA  |  April 27, 2011 at 11:18 am


    Ray in MA | February 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm

  • 43. Kate  |  April 27, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Hey, singers do it all the time!

  • 44. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 11:39 am

    UPDATE: Pedersen (DOMA case in CT District Court)

    DOJ informs the Court that federal defendants intend to to file a response to the BLAG's motion to intervene in order to "explain their position" and asks that the Court not rule on the motion until it has had an opportunity to review their response in the case.

  • 45. Sagesse  |  April 27, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Kathleen, did they do that in Windsor too?

  • 46. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Windsor is in a state of limbo, waiting for the Court to act on King & Spalding's motion to withdraw as counsel. I'm guessing the Court has to issue a decision on that motion before Clement can file a new motion to intervene with his new firm.

  • 47. Sagesse  |  April 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Makes Proponents seem inept. The 9th Circuit says the orders regarding the tapes belong in the District Court, and Ware is asking how he's supposed to vacate a ruling that is now with the 9th Circuit :). Are they so scattered they don't even remember who they're dealing with?

  • 48. Sagesse  |  April 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Right. Thank you.

  • 49. Leo  |  April 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    What could it possibly be that they don't oppose the motion, but want the court to wait? Something to do with the scope of the "limited purpose?"

  • 50. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I really don't know. I'll be interested to see what they want the Court to know before acting on the motion.

  • 51. AB  |  April 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    So, this is a victory for us, right? I mean, we asked for it to be put in District Court in our briefs, and the Proponents opposed that, right?

  • 52. Sagesse  |  April 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Good summary of the current state of LGBT adoption and foster care.

    With children in need, states struggle over gay adoptive parents

  • 53. Peterplumber  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I guess I have been reading too much of Brian Brown's spew. According to NOM and their freinds, it's all about the judges personality. They wanted Reinhardt to recuse himself because his wife works fro ACLU so therefore they think his personality would override the law.
    They was someone to vacate Walker's ruling on Prop 8 because they found out he is gay and in a long term relationship. Therefore, they think his personality overrode the law.

  • 54. JoeRH  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Is part of the GOP ideal to completely close off their heart and conscience? I don't know how any of them could oppose a bill to repeal that statute. Like they always tote about, the states have made their decisions, so don't they already have enough? Now they won't even recognize legally married couples because they don't like gays? That's the ONLY reason. To make an argument in any other direction would just be BS (although that is a GOP strategy often utilized anyway). It's just sickening how morally corrupt and selfish they all are. They treat us like we're lesser human beings, but we can't even come close to being the inhuman monsters the members of the GOP are. I wish more Americans would take notice. The 2010 elections show that the majority still aren't much more intelligent than they were when they reelected W.

  • 55. Cat  |  April 28, 2011 at 12:23 am

    NOMmers have no idea that there are people who follow a professional standard and are able to put their personal beliefs and desires aside, and do their job as required. NOMmers have no idea that you can let other people enjoy the privileges of marriage even when you personally agree. NOMmers believe that you are entitled and obligated to push your personal beliefs on everybody else. The whole concept of acting out of anything other than their personal beliefs and desires is foreign to them…

  • 56. Kathleen  |  April 28, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Apropos of the second part of my comment, it does seem Plaintiffs argued that this issue belongs in district court (thanks for pointing that out, AB!) and in doing so noted that it is now a different judge presiding over the case. So it's possible that the 9th Circuit might have taken up the matter directly if it had still been Walker, though I'm not sure about that.

    I'll confess that lately I've had some personal stuff going on that has cut into my time and I'm way behind in my reading. I've just been skimming documents and might be missing a lot of nuance, so really appreciate the comments from those of you who've been reading more carefully.

  • 57. Kathleen  |  April 28, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Thanks for noting this point, AB. It had escaped me in my quick skim of the document (see comment above).

  • 58. elliom  |  April 28, 2011 at 1:20 am

    And now the NY Times is on the "DOMA deserves a defense" bandwagon…….


    <cite>But the decision of …King & Spalding, to abandon their clients is deplorable. </cite>

    <cite>King & Spalding had no ethical or moral obligation to take the case, but in having done so, it was obliged to stay with its clients, to resist political pressure from the left that it feared would hurt its business.</cite>

    <cite>Justice is best served when everyone whose case is being decided by a court is represented by able counsel. </cite>

    <cite>King & Spalding seems to have forgotten that ideal of advocacy. </cite>

  • 59. JoeRH  |  April 28, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Yeah, they don't get what is actually being defended here. That law firm, obviously, doesn't want to work on a case that is important to so many people's lives. This isn't about a smoking ban or property issues. This is about people's LIVES. And not just a minor aspect of our lives. This is a civil rights issue and I think this law firm did what was right, and not just "resisting political pressure." If they did take any public response into account, it's because they know they'd be hurting people and that cannot be justified.

  • 60. JoeRH  |  April 28, 2011 at 1:48 am

    On a side note: I hadn't read the article before my first message, but I'm glad that it at least sides with the belief that this law is wrong. I can see that a fair fight would be typical, but I guess it's the topic in question that's so hard to argue. They mentioned how desegregation had someone to fight against it, so if we want to refer to history, defending DOMA is to be expected, even though it's a disgusting, twisted act.

  • 61. elliom  |  April 28, 2011 at 2:00 am

    I do appreciate they see the wrong-headedness of the law. What the law deserves is REPEAL, not a defense in court. There is no defense for discrimination. And we sure as hell don't need to be spending money on it. Let's put that money to better use, like gettin' ppl back to work.

  • 62. Kate  |  April 28, 2011 at 2:02 am

    So law firms don't get to decide for themselves which cases to take and which to decline?????????? That does sound like NOM's world, for sure.

  • 63. Kathleen  |  April 28, 2011 at 2:25 am

    UPDATE: Perry

    Amends yesterday's order to include a filing from City and County of San Francisco (opposition to Appellants' motion: CA9Doc 341) in the list of documents transferred to the district court for its consideration:

  • 64. elliom  |  April 28, 2011 at 2:34 am

    The gist of what I got from the article: They took the case, now they hafta stick with it. Um…no, they don't. Lawyers drop cases all the time, and for a lot less reason. Besides, the LAWYER that took the case is still on it, just not the firm he was with.

  • 65. LCH  |  April 28, 2011 at 2:46 am


  • 66. Ronnie  |  April 28, 2011 at 2:47 am

    Julianna Margulies & her husband Keith Lieberthal are New Yorkers who support Marriage Equality….<3…Ronnie:

  • 67. Rhie  |  April 28, 2011 at 5:07 am


  • 68. New Mexicans demand Sens.&hellip  |  April 28, 2011 at 11:38 am

    […] vote we need to pass DOMA repeal through the Senate Judiciary Committee. Our efforts were covered yesterday in the Washington Blade. Previously, we worked with OutFront Minnesota to get Sen. Klobuchar onboard. As I’ve […]

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