Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed

Should we Push for Marriage or Compromise on Civil Unions? May 9th Marriage News Watch

Marriage equality

This was published on the old site this morning by accident. Here it is on the new one -Adam

By Matt Baume

Disagreement over marriage versus civil unions could drive Rhode Island’s LGBT activists against each other. Meanwhile, an unknown source is funneling millions of dollars to anti-gay groups in fifteen states. We’ll talk about Target’s role in Minnesota’s proposed double-ban on marriage, and share some good news from Brazil, Scotland, and Taiwan.

The fight for marriage grew even more heated this week in Rhode Island with the introduction of a civil unions bill. One week earlier, sponsors of a marriage bill decided to pull their legislation due to what they felt was a lack of votes. But now, this civil unions compromise, introduced by Representative Peter Petrarca, is coming under fire from groups like Marriage Equality Rhode Island and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

GLAD criticized House Speaker Gordon Fox for giving up on the marriage bill, and Rhode Island Marriage Equality began formulating plans to vote out anti-marriage legislators in 2012. That’s likely to include Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, a Democrat who opposes marriage.

But in order for that effort to be successful, Marriage Equality Rhode Island still needs the House to vote on marriage to determine out who exactly needs to be voted out. Marriage bill sponsor Arthur Handy may be able to force a House vote by attaching an amendment to the civil unions bill, which would also endanger its chances of passage.

Meanwhile, around the country, we’re starting to see a mysterious surge in spending on anti-gay campaigns through a program called Ignite an Enduring Cultural Transformation. The cash is flowing to Family Research Councils in 15 states, which have created 3-year plans to oppose marriage, as well as anti-discrimination and abortion legislation.

The source of the money is unclear, but it adds up to millions more than has been spent in past years. It includes anti-gay initiatives in Idaho, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arizona, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kansas, Louisiana, Florida, Indiana, and Massachusetts.

The biggest spending is in Virginia, where an anti-gay group is getting $1.2 million; New Jersey, which is getting $1.3 million; Pennsylvania with $1.5 million, and Minnesota, with $4.7 million.

Pennsylvania and Minnesota are of particular importance, because they’re both facing Constitutional amendments to ban marriage. Pennsylvania’s was introduced this week by Republican Representative Daryl Metcalfe. Minnesota’s, which would duplicate a ban that already exists, has been working its way through the legislature for several weeks.

That’s thanks, in part, to Target. You’ll remember several months ago when it came to light that the retailer was pouring huge amounts of cash into the campaigns of anti-gay candidates. And now two of those politicians, Representatives Doug Magnus and Kurt Zellers, are likely to play a role in passing Minnesota’s double marriage ban. To this day, Target still won’t pledge to stop funneling money to anti-gay politicians.

But there’s some good news in Illinois, where civil unions will begin on June 2nd. Lawmakers and LGBT couples will mark the occasion with a ceremony at 10am at Wrigley Square, where Governor Pat Quinn will oversee the civil unioning of thirty couples. Click over here to watch our interview with Phil Reese about exactly how Illinois activists were able to make civil unions a reality.

And in New York, both sides continue to lay foundations for an upcoming marriage fight. Bill Clinton released a statement this week endorsing marriage, which is better late than never, and Chelsea was photographed phonebanking for our side.

Also this week, a coalition of civil rights groups released a very soft TV commercial for marriage, and are gearing up for a day of lobbying on May 9th in Albany.

But anti-gay groups are pushing back hard. They’ve pledged to spend $1 million to unseat any Republican who supports marriage, and they’re planning an anti-marriage rally on May 15th. The same day as New York’s annual AIDS Walk.

There was also big news this week in immigration, with Attorney General Eric Holder taking the extraordinary move of personally intervening to stop the deportation of Paul Wilson Dorman. The Board of Immigration Appeals had previously ruled that Dorman should be deported, despite having a civil union with an American citizen.

In his ruling, Holder ordered the BIA to re-examine whether couples with civil unions can be considered spouses, and whether their finding would have been different in the absence of DOMA. While it’s unclear how this changes the playing field, it’s a sign that Holder could be exploring legal justifications for ending the long-standing practice of deporting gay spouses.

And the move had immediate ramifications for Henry and Josh, the bi-national couple in New Jersey who faced a deportation hearing on Friday. At that hearing, the judge decided to put Henry’s removal on hold for another six months, due to the uncertainty around DOMA’s application. Courage Campaign’s joint petition with is here.

Click here to watch our interview with Josh about how he and Henry met, and what it would mean if the government ordered them to be separated.

Let’s take a quick look at some other major headlines this week. At the GOP debate in South Carolina, nobody had anything nice to say about LGBTs, with Ron Paul expressing support for DOMA because, he says, it protects states. It’s great that Ron Paul is more concerned about the welfare of the state than of the people who actually live in it.

Representative Pete Stark introduced the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act,” which seeks to end adoption bias. Despite 100,000 children awaiting adoptive families in this country and 2 million LGBT adults willing to adopt, one third of adoption agencies reject parents simply because they’re gay. Stark’s law would divert adoption funding to states that practice inclusive adoptions, and could save the country $3 to $6 billion.

And one the many legal cases against DOMA could move forward on Monday with a judge potentially setting a schedule for arguments in Windsor versus United States, in which Edie Windsor was charged a $350,000 gay death tax when her spouse of 44 years passed away.

Turning to international news, the Supreme Federal Court in the heavily Catholic country of Brazil voted in favor of civil unions this week by a margin 10-0, joining Argentina and Uruguay in offering protections to same-sex couples.

The Scottish National Party won a majority in Parliament, and is expected to open talks on marriage equality.

And Taiwan is moving ahead with plans to implement age-appropriate lessons in elementary schools about LGBT issues.

Those are the headlines, join us over at for more on all of these stories and more. Remember to check us out at and follow mnwatch on Twitter. Click here to subscribe to us on YouTube, and over to the right to get caught up on previous episodes, including last week’s news about the turmoil on DOMA’s legal defense team and more background on the fight for immigration equality.

We’ll see you next week.


  • 1. Adam Bink  |  May 9, 2011 at 5:49 am

    If you didn't get a notification of this post by e-mail and you are subscribed to, we are working on making sure that functionality is available, post-migration. Look for updates later this week.

  • 2. Mark  |  May 9, 2011 at 5:57 am

    There is no compromise on equality. If civil unions are to be recognized as the same on the Federal level and are accepted by all of the States (like Marriage), then why have a separate entity at all?

    Why is it so difficult for people to see that civil marriage is different than matrimony and civil marriage requires equal treatment under the law.

  • 3. Ronnie  |  May 9, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Nope, no notification about this. No email about new comments on previous threads….. : ( …Ronnie

  • 4. Adam Bink  |  May 9, 2011 at 6:38 am

    @Ronnie | May 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Ronnie, what is up with your e-mail account today?! Oy vey. Haha. You may be an exception, but thanks for replying.

    Comment notification functionality is otherwise working. I would try a different e-mail. Or try checking your blacklist spam settings.

  • 5. Joel  |  May 9, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Should we settle for civil unions? Sure! How about separate bathrooms and water fountains, too?

  • 6. JoeRH  |  May 9, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I'm extremely interested in this new anonymous donor… And I'm disappointed to come to the conclusion that I can no longer, with a conscience, shop at Target. I tried to forgive them for endorsing an anti-gay politician because it would benefit them revenue-wise, but now they're just proving what two-faced creeps they are. They better get the hell out of our parades.

    Then this thing with anti-gay groups having a rally on the same day as the AIDS walk… I swear these people schedule things like this to make sure they interrupt/distract people from things that are extremely important to LGBT causes.

    These are just more things we need to bring to the public's attention. Get news stations out there to report on the actions of these anti-gay groups and how they blatantly coordinate their events to soil events having to do with anything gay or equality-related. I'm sure there will also be plenty of grotesque imagery we can show the public from those rallies the enemies throw (more noose signs perhaps?).

    Maybe this new PAC thing will come to fruition and we can finally make our fight aggressive instead of a kill-with-kindness approach that we seem to have settled on.

  • 7. JonT  |  May 9, 2011 at 8:22 am

    @3. Ronnie

    Same here – I did get registered with Adam's help but have seen no email at all from the new site.

    I did a 'subscribe without commenting' on the 'Reloaded' post. Still no comment emails.

    Here, I'll actually leave a comment and see if that works any different. :)

    PS: I run my own mailserver and there's been no attempt to even deliver mail from wordpress/courage campaign, let alone anything showing up in the spam folders.

  • 8. Felyx  |  May 9, 2011 at 8:29 am

    This would be a wonderful movie!

  • 9. Straight Ally #3008  |  May 9, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Civil unions aren't fair, but they're typically the first step to marriage equality. The tip-off is that NOM et al. fight just as hard against civil unions as they do against marriage equality.

    Disagreement over marriage versus civil unions could drive Rhode Island’s LGBT activists against each other

    And that's a problem – the other side is a united front.

  • 10. NetAmigo  |  May 9, 2011 at 8:50 am

    If the public supports marriage per polling, go for marriage. If not, go for civil unions. It is easier to sell civil unions to a skeptical public. Civil unions help educate the public about the gay and lesbian community and their plight. Later, it is a small step for the courts to usher in marriage as it is easy to demonstrate no rational reason exists to deny the state from using the word "marriage" to refer to gay and lesbian unions.

  • 11. Joe  |  May 9, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I think there's a third option that I actually like. Get the government out of the marriage business. Have the government take what they call marriage now, call it something like domestic contract, stop calling anyone's relationship marriage and allow the individuals involved in the relationship call it what they decide to call it. I don't need the gov't to say I'm dating someone for me to call her my girlfriend, or have them say I'm married to call my wife a spouse.

    The religious conservatives don't want marriage redefined? They can have it the way they want, the Catholic church basically does that already by not recognizing marriages outside the church, while churches like the Episcopalians, of the ELCS, or United church, can go on having wedding ceremonies for same-sex group and call them married. Pagans can have their hand fastings, etc. If your beliefs say marriage between two men or two women is okay then you can be just as married as anyone else.

  • 12. fiona64  |  May 9, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Actually, to Joe's point — I think it's far more appropriate to get *churches* out of the marriage business (as the EU has done). Have 20 church weddings if you want to, but until you have the registry wedding, you are NOT legally married. Heck, even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had to do the registry thing (they did it immediately following their religious ceremony). The whole problem is that the state (who issues the marriage license) has granted a courtesy right to churches to act on their behalf — and if that right were removed, there would be no issue whatsoever about confusing "holy matrimony" with civil marriage.



  • 13. JonT  |  May 9, 2011 at 10:04 am

    @7. JonT

    Responding to myself. At least I know why I am not getting any emails from p8tt – the from address is 'p8tt_admin@VoteUCI.localdomain' which has a non-existant domain.

    Most, (if not all) mailservers do not accept mail from non-existent domains. I've sent an email to adam about it. I'm guessing a lot of you who aren't getting the p8tt emails aren't getting them for the same reason.

    So, I'll wait until the p8tt crew resolves it :)

  • 14. Joe  |  May 9, 2011 at 11:04 am

    "while churches like the Episcopalians"

    Umm – the official position of the Episcopal Church is that same sex unions are not recognized.

    Canon 18.2.b:

    "That both parties understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman, entered into within the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind, and will, and with intent that it be lifelong."

  • 15. Adam Bink  |  May 9, 2011 at 11:25 am

    @JonT 7

    Thanks to the alert of JonT and the work of our wise site developer, we were able to fix the e-mail notifications for new users when you get your passwords, comment notifications, etc. It should now come from a domain that your spam filter will not trash, so you should get it and be all set. This was affecting maybe 1 in 4 people who registered today.

  • 16. Kathleen  |  May 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

    UPDATE: Golinski v. OPM (DOMA case in California)

    Plaintiffs' statement of non-opposition to BLAG's motion to intervene with several stipulations

    Worth reading.

  • 17. David  |  May 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks for letting us know about Target. I knew about the gubernatorial donations, but did not know about the donations to the legislators who introduced the amendment. I've written to them and in tones round and firm basically told them they've lost my business.

  • 18. Joe  |  May 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    To Fiona, I like your answer as well, anything that takes the religious and civil aspects of marriage and allows people to gain all the privileges that marriage provides while allowing them the freedom to define their relationship(s) in a way that fulfills their needs is what I feel should happen.

    As the the other Joe and the Episcopal church, not all of the sects or divisions must follow that, there is a church near where I live that has a male pastor with a husband. The other churches in my area from that denomination recognize same-sex unions as well.

  • 19. LCH  |  May 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    re Target and MN. I've been avoiding Target like I avoid Walmart. I go only if absolutely necessary. The place is a zoo anyway since they started carrying groceries. I guess this just tips if over for me to quit shopping there.


  • 20. Sagesse  |  May 9, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Civil unions are not acceptable in the long run. A situation like RI is ludicrous, however. The marriage equality side is rejecting a move toward acceptance and recognition because it isn't good enough. NOM must be dancing in the streets.

    As for the Diaz rally in NYC, the press may bite them when the time comes. An anti-equality rally timed to coincide with the AIDS Walk isn't pro marriage, it's anti-gay. Perhaps they could re-route the AIDS Walk to pass by Diaz's site? During the speeches?

  • 21. Straight for Equalit  |  May 10, 2011 at 3:01 am

    @ Joe 14

    Gene Robinson, an openly gay married man, is bishop of the Episcopalian Diocese of New Hampshire.

  • 22. Fr. Bill  |  May 10, 2011 at 7:02 am

    The attorneys general of several states that do not permit same gender marriages have written opinions that such marriages contracted in states that do permit same gender marriages will be recognized as marriages in their states. New York and Maryland come to mind maybe there are others. Could not the Governor of RI raise this with his Attorney General? If such a ruling issues, I'd say to hell with civil unions and go to MA or CT to get married and have them recognized as marriages at home in RI.

    Perhaps a bill could be introduced that vests sole authority to solemnize marriages in the State and people can go to church or temple to have them blessed according to the beliefs and rules of whatever faith. As a priest I am all for that.

    Civil unions got by here in HI due to our unique cultural issues and geographic isolation. We had to be united to counter the opposition largely from certain religious denominations (the usual suspects) who had a front organization use there tax-free and tax deductible money to oppose our civil rights.

  • 23. Joe  |  May 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    @21 –

    The Archbishop of Canterbury did not invite him to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, meaning that the Archbishop of Canterbury does not recognize him as a legitimate bishop of the Anglican Communion.

    Further, the Episcopal church has been kicked off many Anglican Communion panels after the consecration of Mary Glasspool (Suffragan of the Diocese of LA).

Having technical problems? Visit our support page to report an issue!