Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed
×

Archives – February, 2011

So wait, NOM: Has the fight begun or not?

Oops -Adam

Cross-posted at Good As You

By Jeremy Hooper

201102240910

201102240910-1

The fight just begun? Has not yet begun? Will begin soon?

So what were Prop 8, Maine, and all the other times NOM used its agenda to stifle civil rights: Mere tiffs? Because if you asked our brains, ring fingers, or souls, they’d tell you they felt fought!

78 Comments February 24, 2011

Maryland Senate moves forward in Senate

By Adam Bink

Earlier today, the Maryland Senate voted 25-22 to advance to a final vote on passage of a bill extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. The bill is expected to proceed to a final vote later today tomorrow morning.

Courtesy of the Washington Blade, a vote count:

For

Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat
Sen. Bill Ferguson, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jennie Forehand, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Brian Frosh, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Rob Garagiola, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Lisa Gladden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Verna Jones, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Baltimore and Howard counties Democrat
Sen. Delores Kelley, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nancy King, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Republican
Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Richard Madaleno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Roger Manno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Karen Montgomery, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Paul Pinsky, Prince George’s County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Victor Ramirez, Prince George’s County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jamie Raskin, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. James Robey, Howard County Democrat
Sen. James Rosapepe, Prince George’s County Democrat
Sen. Ronald Young, Frederick County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)

Against
Sen. John Astle, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. Joanne Benson, Prince George’s County Democrat
Sen. David Brinkley, Carroll and Frederick counties Republican
Sen. Richard Colburn, Eastern Shore Republican
Sen. Ulysses Currie, Prince George’s County Democrat
Sen. James DeGrange, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. Roy Dyson, Southern Maryland Democrat
Sen. George Edwards, Western Maryland Republican
Sen. Joseph Getty, Baltimore and Carroll counties Republican
Sen. Barry Glassman, Harford County Republican
Sen. Nancy Jacobs, Harford and Cecil counties Republican
Sen. J.B. Jennings, Baltimore and Harford counties Republican
Sen. James Mathias, Eastern Shore Democrat
Sen. Thomas Middleton, Charles County Democrat
Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, Prince George’s and Calvert counties Democrat
Sen. C. Anthony Muse, Prince George’s County Democrat
Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, Prince George’s County Democrat
Sen. E.J. Pipkin, Eastern Shore Republican
Sen. Edward Reilly, Anne Arundel County Republican
Sen. Christopher Shank, Washington County Republican
Sen. Bryan Simonaire, Anne Arundel County Republican
Sen. Norman Stone, Baltimore County Democrat

An update:

Wednesday’s vote came after the Senate defeated four proposed amendments introduced by opponents of the bill calling for allowing private businesses or individuals not affiliated with religious institutions to discriminate against same-sex couples in services or public accommodations based on a religious conviction.

But opponents garnered enough support to pass by a vote of 26 to 21 an amendment changing the bill’s name from the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act to the Civil Marriage Protection Act.

Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County), who introduced the name change amendment, argued that the bill was about same-sex marriage and had “nothing to do” with religious freedom, especially for those who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

“That was the one unfortunate turn of events,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), a sponsor of the bill who served as floor leader on behalf of the bill.

“I was disappointed in the title change but otherwise today it could not have gone better for us,” he said.

Raskin, an American University law professor, noted that four hostile amendments were defeated and three others were withdrawn by senators after backers of the marriage bill argued against them.

The Senate approved two amendments aimed at clarifying the bill’s existing provisions allowing clergy, churches and other religious institutions to refuse, on religious grounds, to provide services or accommodations for same-sex weddings. Raskin, acting as floor leader, accepted the two as friendly amendments.

[…]

Lisa Polyak, a spokesperson for the statewide LGBT group Equality Maryland, which is leading lobbying efforts in support of the bill, said most supporters believe the 25 to 22 vote by the Senate in support of the bill on Wednesday was “predictive” of the outcome of the final Senate vote on the measure.

96 Comments February 23, 2011

Breaking: Olson and Boies file requests for the California Supreme Court to expedite Prop 8 case, and 9th Circuit to lift stay

By Adam Bink

This morning, Ted Olson and David Boies on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights announced they are filing a request with the California Supreme Court to expedite the Perry v. Schwarzenegger (Prop 8) case and hear oral arguments by the end of May, before summer recess. They are also filing a “Motion to Vacate Stay Pending Appeal” with the 9th Circuit to lift the stay while the California Supreme Court takes its time. As you may recall, one week ago the California Supreme Court announced it would consider the question from the 9th Circuit regarding proponents’ standing, and would hear oral arguments in September.

The motion to the California Supreme Court can be found here, and to the 9th Circuit can be found here.

As I posted here at the time, a six-month delay (with, I’m told, likely another few months until an actual decision) is an unacceptable delay.

In response to the news, Courage Campaign asked our members and you to submit your story or that of someone you know who is forced into hardship by waiting for the court to take its time. We collected a total of over 430 stories, are hosting a call for media later today to fulfill the purpose Shane described in the e-mail: get these stories out to the media and the courts.

Stories like Riverside’s Derence Kernek and his partner Ed, who have known each other for 40 years but Ed was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease this past year. They want to wed before Ed loses the ability to remember the occasion.

Stories like San Francisco’s Shane Mayer and John Quintana– engaged late last year, but Shane’s father was recently diagnosed with cancer and wants to be at his son’s wedding.

Stories like Riverside’s Sylvia, who is 72 and her partner and she were planning to marry until Prop 8 came along. They had been waiting as domestic partners for many years. Sylvia’s partner passed away last year while the case was winding its way through the courts.

Stories like Santa Rosa’s Erica Mikesh and her partner, Melissa, who thought about marrying prior to the passage of Prop 8, but decided they should decide on their own time when it’s right to marry, and never believed it would pass. Now they are being punished for their patience and for waiting.

These are the stories of what is happening out there while the California Supreme Court takes its time. Courage Campaign encourages the courts to grant the Olson/Boies requests to hold oral arguments by the end of May and lift the stay, and we will start to show the court, media, and public the human faces of what happens while they take over 6 months to move on the case.

108 Comments February 23, 2011

BREAKING: DOJ announces they’ll no longer defend DOMA in court

By Adam Bink

Update: This is amazing news. We at Courage put together an open letter to thank the President for taking this action, and to ask him to speak out for the freedom to marry.

It’s time, Mr. President.

Please sign here.

And share here on Facebook, and here on Twitter.

Big news that just landed in my inbox (bolding mine)

STATEMENT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ON LITIGATION INVOLVING THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT

WASHINGTON – The Attorney General made the following statement today about the Department’s course of action in two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman:

In the two years since this Administration took office, the Department of Justice has defended Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act on several occasions in federal court.  Each of those cases evaluating Section 3 was considered in jurisdictions in which binding circuit court precedents hold that laws singling out people based on sexual orientation, as DOMA does, are constitutional if there is a rational basis for their enactment.  While the President opposes DOMA and believes it should be repealed, the Department has defended it in court because we were able to advance reasonable arguments under that rational basis standard.

Section 3 of DOMA has now been challenged in the Second Circuit, however, which has no established or binding standard for how laws concerning sexual orientation should be treated.  In these cases, the Administration faces for the first time the question of whether laws regarding sexual orientation are subject to the more permissive standard of review or whether a more rigorous standard, under which laws targeting minority groups with a history of discrimination are viewed with suspicion by the courts, should apply.

After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny.  The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional.  Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases.  I fully concur with the President’s determination.

Consequently, the Department will not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA as applied to same-sex married couples in the two cases filed in the Second Circuit.  We will, however, remain parties to the cases and continue to represent the interests of the United States throughout the litigation.  I have informed Members of Congress of this decision, so Members who wish to defend the statute may pursue that option.  The Department will also work closely with the courts to ensure that Congress has a full and fair opportunity to participate in pending litigation.

Furthermore, pursuant to the President’s instructions, and upon further notification to Congress, I will instruct Department attorneys to advise courts in other pending DOMA litigation of the President’s and my conclusions that a heightened standard should apply, that Section 3 is unconstitutional under that standard and that the Department will cease defense of Section 3.

The Department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense.  At the same time, the Department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because – as here – the Department does not consider every such argument to be a “reasonable” one.  Moreover, the Department has declined to defend a statute in cases, like this one, where the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional.

Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed DOMA.  The Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional.  Congress has repealed the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.  Several lower courts have ruled DOMA itself to be unconstitutional.  Section 3 of DOMA will continue to remain in effect unless Congress repeals it or there is a final judicial finding that strikes it down, and the President has informed me that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law.  But while both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court.

Big news and good on the Administration.

Consequently, Attorney General Holder sent the following letter to Speaker Boehner:

LETTER FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO CONGRESS ON LITIGATION INVOLVING THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT

The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515

Re:  Defense of Marriage Act

Dear Mr. Speaker:

After careful consideration, including review of a recommendation from me, the President of the United States has made the determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.   Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 530D, I am writing to advise you of the Executive Branch’s determination and to inform you of the steps the Department will take in two pending DOMA cases to implement that determination.

While the Department has previously defended DOMA against legal challenges involving legally married same-sex couples, recent lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of DOMA Section 3 have caused the President and the Department to conduct a new examination of the defense of this provision.  In particular, in November 2011, plaintiffs filed two new lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in jurisdictions without precedent on whether sexual-orientation classifications are subject to rational basis review or whether they must satisfy some form of heightened scrutiny.  Windsor v. United States, No. 1:10-cv-8435 (S.D.N.Y.); Pedersen v. OPM, No. 3:10-cv-1750 (D. Conn.).  Previously, the Administration has defended Section 3 in jurisdictions where circuit courts have already held that classifications based on sexual orientation are subject to rational basis review, and it has advanced arguments to defend DOMA Section 3 under the binding standard that has applied in those cases.

These new lawsuits, by contrast, will require the Department to take an affirmative position on the level of scrutiny that should be applied to DOMA Section 3 in a circuit without binding precedent on the issue.  As described more fully below, the President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.

Standard of Review

The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the appropriate level of scrutiny for classifications based on sexual orientation.  It has, however, rendered a number of decisions that set forth the criteria that should inform this and any other judgment as to whether heightened scrutiny applies:  (1) whether the group in question has suffered a history of discrimination; (2) whether individuals “exhibit obvious, immutable, or distinguishing characteristics that define them as a discrete group”; (3) whether the group is a minority or is politically powerless; and (4) whether the characteristics distinguishing the group have little relation to legitimate policy objectives or to an individual’s “ability to perform or contribute to society.”  See Bowen v. Gilliard, 483 U.S. 587, 602-03 (1987); City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 441-42 (1985).

Each of these factors counsels in favor of being suspicious of classifications based on sexual orientation.  First and most importantly, there is, regrettably, a significant history of purposeful discrimination against gay and lesbian people, by governmental as well as private entities, based on prejudice and stereotypes that continue to have ramifications today.  Indeed, until very recently, states have “demean[ed] the[] existence” of gays and lesbians “by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”  Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 578 (2003).

Second, while sexual orientation carries no visible badge, a growing scientific consensus accepts that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable, see Richard A. Posner, Sex and Reason 101 (1992); it is undoubtedly unfair to require sexual orientation to be hidden from view to avoid discrimination, see Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-321, 124 Stat. 3515 (2010).

Third, the adoption of laws like those at issue in Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), and Lawrence, the longstanding ban on gays and lesbians in the military, and the absence of federal protection for employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation show the group to have limited political power and “ability to attract the [favorable] attention of the lawmakers.”  Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 445.  And while the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act and pending repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell indicate that the political process is not closed entirely to gay and lesbian people, that is not the standard by which the Court has judged “political powerlessness.”  Indeed, when the Court ruled that gender-based classifications were subject to heightened scrutiny, women already had won major political victories such as the Nineteenth Amendment (right to vote) and protection under Title VII (employment discrimination).

Finally, there is a growing acknowledgment that sexual orientation “bears no relation to ability to perform or contribute to society.”  Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677, 686 (1973) (plurality).  Recent evolutions in legislation (including the pending repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell), in community practices and attitudes, in case law (including the Supreme Court’s holdings in Lawrence and Romer), and in social science regarding sexual orientation all make clear that sexual orientation is not a characteristic that generally bears on legitimate policy objectives.  See, e.g., Statement by the President on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (“It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed.”)

To be sure, there is substantial circuit court authority applying rational basis review to sexual-orientation classifications.  We have carefully examined each of those decisions.  Many of them reason only that if consensual same-sex sodomy may be criminalized under Bowers v. Hardwick, then it follows that no heightened review is appropriate – a line of reasoning that does not survive the overruling of Bowers in Lawrence v. Texas, 538 U.S. 558 (2003).  Others rely on claims regarding “procreational responsibility” that the Department has disavowed already in litigation as unreasonable, or claims regarding the immutability of sexual orientation that we do not believe can be reconciled with more recent social science understandings.  And none engages in an examination of all the factors that the Supreme Court has identified as relevant to a decision about the appropriate level of scrutiny.  Finally, many of the more recent decisions have relied on the fact that the Supreme Court has not recognized that gays and lesbians constitute a suspect class or the fact that the Court has applied rational basis review in its most recent decisions addressing classifications based on sexual orientation, Lawrence and Romer.  But neither of those decisions reached, let alone resolved, the level of scrutiny issue because in both the Court concluded that the laws could not even survive the more deferential rational basis standard.

Application to Section 3 of DOMA

In reviewing a legislative classification under heightened scrutiny, the government must establish that the classification is “substantially related to an important government objective.”  Clark v. Jeter, 486 U.S. 456, 461 (1988).  Under heightened scrutiny, “a tenable justification must describe actual state purposes, not rationalizations for actions in fact differently grounded.”  United States v. Virginia , 518 U.S. 515, 535-36 (1996).  “The justification must be genuine, not hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation.”  Id. at 533.

In other words, under heightened scrutiny, the United States cannot defend Section 3 by advancing hypothetical rationales, independent of the legislative record, as it has done in circuits where precedent mandates application of rational basis review.  Instead, the United States can defend Section 3 only by invoking Congress’ actual justifications for the law.

Moreover, the legislative record underlying DOMA’s passage contains discussion and debate that undermines any defense under heightened scrutiny.  The record contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships – precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.  See Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 448 (“mere negative attitudes, or fear” are not permissible bases for discriminatory treatment); see also Romer, 517 U.S. at 635 (rejecting rationale that law was supported by “the liberties of landlords or employers who have personal or religious objections to homosexuality”); Palmore v. Sidotti, 466 U.S. 429, 433 (1984) (“Private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them effect.”).

Application to Second Circuit Cases

After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a heightened standard of scrutiny.  The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional.  Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in Windsor and Pedersen, now pending in the Southern District of New York and the District of Connecticut.  I concur in this determination.

Notwithstanding this determination, the President has informed me that Section 3 will continue to be enforced by the Executive Branch.  To that end, the President has instructed Executive agencies to continue to comply with Section 3 of DOMA, consistent with the Executive’s obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, unless and until Congress repeals Section 3 or the judicial branch renders a definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality.  This course of action respects the actions of the prior Congress that enacted DOMA, and it recognizes the judiciary as the final arbiter of the constitutional claims raised.

As you know, the Department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense, a practice that accords the respect appropriately due to a coequal branch of government.  However, the Department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because the Department does not consider every plausible argument to be a “reasonable” one.  “[D]ifferent cases can raise very different issues with respect to statutes of doubtful constitutional validity,” and thus there are “a variety of factors that bear on whether the Department will defend the constitutionality of a statute.”  Letter to Hon. Orrin G. Hatch from Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fois at 7 (Mar. 22, 1996).  This is the rare case where the proper course is to forgo the defense of this statute.  Moreover, the Department has declined to defend a statute “in cases in which it is manifest that the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional,” as is the case here.  Seth P. Waxman, Defending Congress, 79 N.C. L.Rev. 1073, 1083 (2001).

In light of the foregoing, I will instruct the Department’s lawyers to immediately inform the district courts in Windsor and Pedersen of the Executive Branch’s view that heightened scrutiny is the appropriate standard of review and that, consistent with that standard, Section 3 of DOMA may not be constitutionally applied to same-sex couples whose marriages are legally recognized under state law.  If asked by the district courts in the Second Circuit for the position of the United States in the event those courts determine that the applicable standard is rational basis, the Department will state that, consistent with the position it has taken in prior cases, a reasonable argument for Section 3’s constitutionality may be proffered under that permissive standard.  Our attorneys will also notify the courts of our interest in providing Congress a full and fair opportunity to participate in the litigation in those cases.  We will remain parties to the case and continue to represent the interests of the United States throughout the litigation.

Furthermore, pursuant to the President’s instructions, and upon further notification to Congress, I will instruct Department attorneys to advise courts in other pending DOMA litigation of the President’s and my conclusions that a heightened standard should apply, that Section 3 is unconstitutional under that standard and that the Department will cease defense of Section 3.

A motion to dismiss in the Windsor and Pedersen cases would be due on March 11, 2011.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely yours,

Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General

______________________________________

i DOMA Section 3 states:  “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

ii See, e.g., Dragovich v. U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2011 WL 175502 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 18, 2011); Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, 699 F. Supp. 2d 374 (D. Mass. 2010); Smelt v. County of Orange, 374 F. Supp. 2d 861, 880 (C.D. Cal.,2005); Wilson v. Ake, 354 F.Supp.2d 1298, 1308 (M.D. Fla. 2005); In re Kandu, 315 B.R. 123, 145 (Bkrtcy. W.D. Wash. 2004); In re Levenson, 587 F.3d 925, 931 (9th Cir. E.D.R. Plan Administrative Ruling 2009).

iii While significant, that history of discrimination is different in some respects from the discrimination that burdened African-Americans and women.  See Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, 216  (1995) (classifications based on race “must be viewed in light of the historical fact that the central purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to eliminate racial discrimination emanating from official sources in the States,” and “[t]his strong policy renders racial classifications ‘constitutionally suspect.’”); United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 531 (1996) (observing that “‘our Nation has had a long and unfortunate history of sex discrimination’” and pointing out the denial of the right to vote to women until 1920).  In the case of sexual orientation, some of the discrimination has been based on the incorrect belief that sexual orientation is a behavioral characteristic that can be changed or subject to moral approbation. Cf. Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 441 (heightened scrutiny may be warranted for characteristics “beyond the individual’s control” and that “very likely reflect outmoded notions of the relative capabilities of” the group at issue); Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000) (Stevens, J., dissenting) (“Unfavorable opinions about homosexuals ‘have ancient roots.’” (quoting Bowers, 478 U.S. at 192)).

iv See Equality Foundation v. City of Cincinnati, 54 F.3d 261, 266–67 & n. 2. (6th Cir. 1995); Steffan v. Perry, 41 F.3d 677, 685 (D.C. Cir. 1994); Woodward v. United States, 871 F.2d 1068, 1076 (Fed. Cir. 1989); Ben-Shalom v. Marsh, 881 F.2d 454, 464 (7th Cir. 1989); Padula v. Webster, 822 F.2d 97, 103 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

v See, e.g., Lofton v. Secretary of the Dep’t of Children & Family Servs., 358 F.3d 804, 818 (11th Cir. 2004) (discussing child-rearing rationale); High Tech Gays v. Defense Indust. Sec. Clearance Office, 895 F.2d 563, 571 (9th Cir. 1990) (discussing immutability).  As noted, this Administration has already disavowed in litigation the argument that DOMA serves a governmental interest in “responsible procreation and child-rearing.”  H.R. Rep. No. 104-664, at 13.  As the Department has explained in numerous filings, since the enactment of DOMA, many leading medical, psychological, and social welfare organizations have concluded, based on numerous studies, that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.

vi See Cook v. Gates, 528 F.3d 42, 61 (1st Cir. 2008); Citizens for Equal Prot. v. Bruning, 455 F.3d 859, 866 (8th Cir. 2006); Johnson v. Johnson, 385 F.3d 503, 532 (5th Cir. 2004); Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 732 (4th Cir. 2002); Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, Inc. v. City of Cincinnati, 128 F.3d 289, 292-94 (6th Cir. 1997).

vii See, e.g., H.R. Rep. at 15–16 (judgment [opposing same-sex marriage] entails both moral disapproval of homosexuality and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality”); id. at 16 (same-sex marriage “legitimates a public union, a legal status that most people  . . . feel ought to be illegitimate” and “put[s] a stamp of approval . . . on a union that many people . . . think is immoral”); id. at 15 (“Civil laws that permit only heterosexual marriage reflect and honor a collective moral judgment about human sexuality”); id. (reasons behind heterosexual marriage—procreation and child-rearing—are  “in accord with nature and hence have a moral component”); id. at 31 (favorably citing the holding in Bowers that an “anti-sodomy law served the rational purpose of expressing the presumed belief . . . that homosexual sodomy is immoral and unacceptable”); id. at 17 n.56 (favorably citing statement in dissenting opinion in Romer that “[t]his Court has no business . . . pronouncing that ‘animosity’ toward homosexuality is evil”).

297 Comments February 23, 2011

OPUS Fi-NOM-us: It's time for NOM to acknowledge its Catholic impetus

As usual, a remarkable job deconstructing NOM. A must-read -Adam

Cross-posted at Good As You

By Jeremy Hooper

***NOTE: This post is meant to be an exploration. This is a public presentation of what we have learned, which might just result in more questions that definitive answers. So please take it in the spirt in which it is intended: Not as an “accusation” or a period on any subject, but rather as fair exploration of a powerful, connected, highly-financed nationwide network. Our prevailing interest is to get the National Organization For Marriage, an organization opposed to CIVIL rights, to its most transparent, largely faith-based center.

Let’s get started.

***

Examination Point 1: Legatus, a membership organization for Catholic business leaders, first came on our radar during Prop 8. That’s when the National Organization for Marriage’s general counsel at the time, Charles LiMandri, contributed to a Legatus magazine piece meant to rally Catholics against marriage equality:

[scribd id=13583744 key=key-20153f6qtc3c73jcqwty mode=list]

NOM president Brian Brown is also a Legatus member (Legates, they are called).
Examination Point 2: Another Legate is a man named David LeJeune. David is the Executive Director of Fidesco USA, a Catholic volunteer organization. David is also the managing partner of something called OPUSFidelis, a new media marketing firm.
Examination Point 3: For the past few months, OPUSFidelis has been controlling the National Organization For Marriage’s Social Media properties. That’s why you might have noticed duplicate content popping up in a number of different places within the NOM realm (e.g. NOM blog, Brian Brown’s Twitter, the “Protect Marriage” Facebook page, etc.). It’s all being controlled by a central hub run by OPUSFidelis:

Screen Shot 2011-02-21 At 5.15.06 Pm

[SOURCE]

Examination Point 4: The person doing most of the NOM Social Hub blogging is someone named Casey Fimian:

Screen Shot 2011-02-21 At 5.17.04 Pm

[SOURCE]

Examination Point 5: Last fall, this same Casey Fimian hit up all of the prominent Catholic colleges on Facebook…

Screen Shot 2011-02-21 At 5.18.38 Pm

…seeking FIDESCO USA volunteers:

Screen Shot 2011-02-21 At 5.18.59 Pm

Yes, the same FIDESCO USA of which OPUS Fidelis’ David Jejeune is the E.D.
Examination Point 6: In the past four years, Casey’s father Keith has unsuccessfully ran for Congress from VA’s 11 District. In both elections, much was made about the candidate’s Catholic outreach and the financing directed his way by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monagan. Much of that conversation, fair or unfair, was due to Mr. Fimian’s prominent role on the national board of directors of — Legatus (which Monagan himself founded).

Exploratory circle=complete.
Okay, so that’s pretty much what we know for now: Lots more Catholic connections from the already canonical NOM. Connections that would be 100% fine, if only NOM would start identifying itself and its cause for what it is. Because they have every right to work from a Vatican-focused place and even every right to use their personal views in their political advocacy, just as long as they do so within the boundaries of law. Obviously. But by not being honest about these deep faith connections, which firm up more and more every day, NOM is doing a disservice to this *CIVIL RIGHTS* conversation and all who engage in it. They owe all of us, both pro- and anti-, a more honest marriage debate.

***

**MORE: Another OPUS Fidelis founder is Joe Giganti, a personality whose lengthy conservative resume includes a stint as strategist of Alan Keyes’ presidential campaign. Here’s Mr. Giganti talking to Focus on the Family about how LGBT civil rights supposedly insult “real civil-rights laws and the people that have struggled…” And when Mitt Romney distanced himself from Gen. Peter Pace’s claim that homosexuality is immoral, Giganti said that Romney’s words “clearly display that he has a complete misunderstanding and does not grasp the moral values on which our country has been founded and that the conservative movement is trying to preserve.

96 Comments February 22, 2011

Montana-style federalism, or lack thereof

By Adam Bink

I am always amazed how conservatives preach the gospel of federalism, smaller government, the 10th Amendment (powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for the states), local control (the argument for abolishing the Department of Education), and so forth. Then turn around and invade our bedrooms, doctor’s offices, and more. And if a state (Massachusetts) does something they don’t like, it’s time for a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

I’ve been chatting over the last few months with a documentary filmmaker up in Montana who’s been making a fascinating documentary on the fight to pass the human rights ordinance in Missoula, Montana. While Missoula is known as the liberal for Montana, it still attracted the opposition of an array of anti-gay groups and activists. The ordinance, enacted in 2010, protects residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He told me the Montana legislature was considering a law to overturn the ordinance, and make state law supersede local control.

Via Joe Sudbay, we see it’s advancing:

The Republican majority on the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Monday that would effectively overturn Missoula’s 2010 ordinance banning discrimination against city residents based on their sexual orientation and gender.

House Bill 516 by Rep. Kristin Hansen, R-Havre, now moves to the House floor for debate this week.

It would prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances or policies that seek to protect residents from real or perceived discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender as the cities of Missoula did through an ordinance and Bozeman did through a policy.

The panel voted earlier Monday to table HB514 by Rep. Edie McClafferty, D-Butte, which would have broadened the Montana Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination statewide based on gender identity or expression and sexual orientation. The move to table her bill came after the bill was rejected 14-6.

If you’re in Montana, please do contact your legislators. Missoula can decide for itself how to treat its residents when it comes to human rights- that should be something on which people of all ideologies agree.

50 Comments February 22, 2011

Next page Previous page