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Archives – May, 2011

Sen. Feinstein discusses Prop 8, efforts to repeal DOMA

By Adam Bink

In an interview with P8TT friend Karen Ocamb, Sen. Feinstein discusses efforts to repeal DOMA, including our partnership with her to bring more co-sponsors onboard. Key excerpts on DOMA:

During a 12-minute phone interview on May 26, Frontiers asked Feinstein about the status of the DOMA repeal bill.

“It’s in the Judiciary Committee. We hope to have a hearing before long. We’re working with the community on securing votes. We have 24 co-sponsors now and I’d like to get as many as possible, which strengthens the possibilities for passage,” Feinstein said. “The Courage Campaign is reaching out. They have organized campaigns of phoning in several states, as I understand it. I’m not making phone calls.”

Given the opportunity to speak directly to people about DOMA, Feinstein said she would tell them, “Issues of family and marriage are virtually all done by state law, not federal law. The Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, essentially said, OK, even if a state says you can go ahead with a same-sex marriage, those individuals cannot have any of the federal benefits. And the list of federal benefits [include] joint federal income taxes, certain deductions, spousal benefits under Social Security, unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act if a loved one falls ill and the protections of the estate tax when one spouse passes and wants to leave his or her possessions to another. Those are federal laws that are essentially cancelled under DOMA.

“So if you strike DOMA,” she continued, “these basic rights come back to individuals whose states have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage. I think people have to know that. We’re not giving anybody anything special that any other married couple doesn’t get. But what we are doing is taking out a prohibition.”


Frontiers spoke with Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs, who talked about his meeting with Feinstein—another surprise since the Courage Campaign has disagreed with the senator on a number of progressive issues. “She looked me in the eye and said, ‘I want to repeal DOMA,’ and I believe her,” Jacobs said. The two shook hands on a partnership where Courage is using all its resources and intellect to help Feinstein get more co-sponsors and get to the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass the DOMA repeal bill. Jacobs said they now have 77 volunteers in 43 states working with local organizers. And their aggressive Facebook campaign continues to move senators who are overwhelmed with Facebook messages from constituents. (See their Facebook campaign here.)

On Prop 8:

On Prop. 8, Feinstein said that “at this stage,” she has no opinion on whether the LGBT community should return to the ballot in 2012 to repeal Prop 8.

“No one’s presented that to me as an option. I think it has to be carefully evaluated and looked at. I have no doubt that as time goes on, people’s views are changing,” Feinstein said, adding “I think the situation is moving in a very positive direction.”

More, including Karen’s history of Sen. Feinstein’s relationship with the LGBT community and her efforts on Prop 8 in 2008, can be found here at Karen’s magazine, Frontiers.

2 Comments May 31, 2011

Alvin McEwen and simple answers to NOM’s complicated lies

By Adam Bink

South Carolina blogger Alvin McEwen, who has done some great work on NOM and the right-wing anti-LGBT movement, today wrote a great “guide” to refuting NOM’s own talking points, titled

Marriage Equality – Simple answers to NOM’s complicated lies

In it, Alvin debunks NOM’s own talking points used at rallies, press releases, blog posts, everywhere. Examples:

NOM – “Religious groups like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army may lose their tax exemptions, or be denied the use of parks and other public facilities, unless they endorse gay marriage.”

Truth –  No religious group (or any individual for that matter) will be forced to endorse anything.  Those are just words used to scare people. And tax exemption controversies have nothing to do with marriage equality, but rather how far should religious exemptions go if religious charities demanding these exemptions are using tax dollars. For example, is it fair for Catholic Charities in Illinois to have the right not to allow gays to adopt children they care for even if these charities are receiving over $30 million in tax dollars (after all, the gay community does pay taxes).

NOM – “Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids.”

Truth – This is a lie. The nonpartisan webpage Politifact found that this claim was inaccurate. In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, same-sex intimacy is not in the curriculum. Even those who oppose marriage equality, such as Marc Mutty – who helped lead the charge against it in Maine – said that this claim is hyperbole geared to motivate people through fear.

In reality, conversations about same-sex households probably happen already in schools amongst the students themselves. Again, according the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under eighteen living in their home. It’s safe to say that a vast number of these children attend public schools. Is it fair for them not to be able to talk about their families?

The whole thing is worth browsing through, and maybe add some of your own.

10 Comments May 31, 2011

This Could be the End for Equality Maryland: Marriage News Watch for May 30, 2011

By Matt Baume

This week: The chaos at Equality Maryland has gotten so bad, the organization may have to shut down altogether. Time’s nearly run out to pass a marriage bill in New York. Catholic Charities is so unwilling to provide adoption services to gay couples that they simply abandoned 350 children to the state of Illinois this week. And it looks like the Prop 8 proponents just caught themselves in a lie.

What is going on at Equality Maryland? Six months ago, all signs indicated that the state would legalize marriage. We’d picked up more supportive legislators than ever before. We had enough votes to pass the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee. The Governor promised to sign it. We had an eight-point advantage in public opinion polls. And then suddenly, amidst betrayals from formerly supportive legislators, the House just gave up on the bill and sent it back to committee for another year.

Then things really started falling apart. At first, Equality Maryland Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets said she had no plans to leave, but then announced that the board had fired her. She left at the end of April, and Equality Maryland brought in Lynne Bowman, former head of Equality Ohio, to lead the organization in the mean time.

But now, a month later, Bowman’s back in Ohio and says she doesn’t know when — or if — she’ll be coming back to Maryland.

Meanwhile, Equality Maryland announced this week that so many donors have dried up, they need 20 thousand dollars in the next few weeks, or else they’ll have to shut down operations.

The board president says the money problems are Meneses-Sheets’ fault, she says its not true, and everyone’s so busy bickering that now our opponents don’t even have to lift a finger.

So, Maryland. Get it together.

Let’s take a look at New York next. This week, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg released a lengthy speech urging his colleagues to support marriage equality. He’s also pledged to provide financial support to Republicans who vote with us.

That’s a big promise, coming from the 13th richest person in the country. But we still don’t have enough votes in the Senate.

Visit to take action now. There are just twenty one days left to pass this bill.

In Illinois, civil unions are slated to start this coming Thursday. Officials are planning celebrations all over the state, with Chicago’s official ceremony happening at 10am at Wrigley Square.

But not everyone’s celebrating. A Catholic Charities adoption organization is so opposed to placing children with parents in a civil union that they’ve decided to simply abandon the 350 foster kids they currently serve. Now the state will have to step in to take care of the children.

The fight over Minnesota’s anti-gay constitutional amendment is continuing to heat up, even though voters won’t have a chance to weigh in for another year.

This week Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the legislation — a purely symbolic act that has no legal impact, but makes for good PR. In addition, the White House issued a statement opposing the measure.

In California, we’re approaching a June 13th hearing over two important issues. The first is whether Judge Walker should have been disqualified from hearing the Prop 8 case because, as a gay man in a relationship, the outcome affected him. The second issue is whether the public should be denied access to the video record of the trial.

The Prop 8 proponents have been tying each other in logical knots over both issues. Regarding Judge Walker, their latest claim is that he should be disqualified because Prop 8 affects gay people, but not straight people.

Really. That’s what they’re saying now. They actually wrote in a court filing that no existing heterosexual marriage is affected by gay couples. Which is great! It’s what we’ve been saying all along. Apparently, Ted Olson and David Boies are so persuasive they’ve even convinced their opposing counsel.

The only problem is that that’s the complete opposite of what they were saying during the Prop 8 campaign. Remember the ads about “protecting our children” and “denying our rights“?

The whole point of those ads was telling people that gay marriage has consequences. And now they say it doesn’t? Either they were lying then or they’re lying now.

Either way, we can’t wait to see them torn to shreds in court on June 13th.

Let’s check some international headlines: This week Human Rights Watch launched a campaign to persuade Latvian officials to provide recognition to same-sex couples. Chilean activists have announced a rally for marriage in Santiago on June 25. And in France, MP Brigitte Barèges ignited a firestorm when she said that gay weddings are equivalent to “unions with animals.” After being unanimously condemned — and even called “disgraceful” by members of her own party — Barèges refused to apologize and said she was just kidding.

Those are the headlines. Click over here to subscribe to weekly updates or over here to watch some of our previous coverage, including bad news in Minnesota and the Republicans who are struggling to turn their party around on LGBT issues.

Visit for more on all of these stories, and head over to and click “Like” to get news alerts and headlines right on your wall.

8 Comments May 31, 2011

DC marriage equality and federal efforts to repeal it

By Adam Bink

Yesterday’s Washington Post reported that House Republicans support moving to block DC’s law allowing same-sex couples to marry, but no one is interested in stepping up to take the lead:

If same-sex marriage in the District is “under attack,” it’s not clear who is leading the charge. Neither the chairmen of the committees that oversee D.C. issues nor the Republicans who previously offered such measures are planning to do so now, although the fight could surface in the appropriations process later this year.

In the last Congress, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced separate bills on the subject: The former would have defined marriage in the District as “the union of one man and one woman,” while the latter would have prevented the city from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the issue had been brought to a referendum.

The bills got 64 and 30 co-sponsors, respectively, but never came to a vote in a chamber then controlled by Democrats. Neither has been reintroduced this year.

Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, told The Hill newspaper in January, “I think RSC will push for [a ban], and I’m certainly strongly for it,” but he didn’t specify who would head the effort. Asked on Thursday, Jordan said he still wasn’t sure who would offer legislation.

Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.) was the lead Democratic sponsor of Jordan’s bill. Now, according to a spokesman, Boren “doesn’t plan on being involved with that bill in this Congress as he is busy working on other legislative initiatives.”

Chaffetz previously served as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that handles D.C. issues. But he has moved on to another committee assignment and is not focused on the District’s marriage law, according to a spokeswoman.

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he knew of no campaign to repeal the law. “My committee has no intention at this time of overturning gay marriage,” Issa said this month, although he later clarified that he was speaking for himself as chairman and not for individual lawmakers.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), now chairman of the D.C. oversight subcommittee, responded similarly Tuesday. He said that he would support a bill to overturn the same-sex marriage law if one were introduced but that he had no interest in spearheading such an effort.

“I was not elected to be D.C. mayor, and I don’t aspire to be,” Gowdy said, echoing a previous comment by him on local issues.

The fact that no Republican has introduced a bill this year could be a sign that the majority plans to use a different tactic.

“They can’t get a stand-alone bill through both houses of Congress,” Norton predicted. “We’re expecting that they will try to use the appropriations process.”

The appropriations process was and is the most oft-used process by House Republicans in the 1990s, last decade and this decade for interfering in the city’s affairs. In fact, the current DC Mayor, Vincent Gray, was recently arrested for protesting the most recent riders attached to appropriations bills. It remains to be seen whether another effort on marriage is in the works, but I don’t doubt a lot of leading Republicans are working on it. And so we’re still in wait-and-see mode.

NOM’s Brian Brown doesn’t disagree:

But Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said House Republicans and other same-sex marriage opponents have simply been preoccupied with the court battle over the Defense of Marriage Act. (House Republican leaders have sought to defend the measure in court after the Obama administration decided to stop doing so.)

And while the District law might not be on the front burner, Brown said it would be soon.

“I expect that there will be some vote,” he said. “I don’t know what form it’s going to take.”

8 Comments May 30, 2011

Taking a stand for equality… despite the costs

By Adam Bink

On the heels of Louis Marinelli launching his own summer tour, a prominent Iowa Republican is taking the banner of freedom and equality for his own party:

A former Republican senator next week will unveil a new advocacy group for conservatives who support same-sex marriage.

The group, being launched by former Sen. Jeff Angelo, challenges the GOP’s standard opposition to same-sex marriage.

Support of same-sex marriage has traditionally been viewed as a ‘liberal’ stand, which Angelo – who calls himself a conservative –  rejects.

“This debate centers around the devaluation of the lives of a select group of people,” Angelo of Creston told the legislature during a public hearing earlier this year when he first spoke publicly in favor of same-sex marriage. “At its worst, we are being asked to believe that our gay friends and neighbors are involved in a nefarious agenda. The outcome of which, supposedly, is the unraveling of society itself.”

Five years ago Angelo, who did not seek reelection in 2008, co-sponsored a bill that would have launched a process to amend Iowa’s constitution and prohibit same-sex marriage.

Angelo has since said his former position on the issue was wrong.  He has said his views have evolved because of his friendships with Iowans who have same-sex couples in their families. Those families deserve the same protections of marriage as similarly committed opposite-sex couples, he has said.

“I don’t think this debate reflects the character of Iowans, the culture of Iowa,” he told The Des Moines Register last week. “Iowa is culturally a state that is very welcoming, that celebrates its people, is very protective of its people.”

The new group will be called Iowa Republicans for Freedom.  The group will formally launch Wednesday at 11 a.m. on the west Capitol terrace near the intersection of Locust St. and Pennsylvania Avenue in Des Moines.

Courage to Sen. Angelo. People like him and Louis lost and will lose a lot of friends and colleagues for the sake of equal rights.

More here.

37 Comments May 28, 2011

Concerned Women for America’s Penny Young Nance spins herself into a tizzy

By Adam Bink

Penny penned an op-ed at (where else?). It’s hard to know where to start on this thing. I will highlight a few paragraphs:

As much as I respect Gallup and their polling prowess, I am skeptical of their recent poll which finds that for the first time a majority of Americans support legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The supporters of allowing same-sex marriage are certainly loud at times but as I see it they are also most certainly in the minority.

Thing is, this is, I believe, the 5th consecutive independent national poll to show a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. I’m sure Penny will breathlessly cite Gallup polls showing what she wants it to show, but when CNN, The Washington Post, Gallup, and many other outlets all show the same thing, it’s called a trend, Penny.

The Washington Blade, a homosexual media outlet…

Don’t say gay!

Since donors’ names are public in California if they make a donation greater than $100 to a political cause, Prop 8 dissenters had a target list and they weren’t afraid to use it.

One man found himself the subject of a flyer that was distributed in his home town; it called him a “bigot” and stated his association with a particular Catholic Church. It also listed his donation to Prop 8. In another case two women painted the words “bigots live here” on the window of an SUV in front of a house whose residents supported traditional marriage.

And African-Americans were especially targeted. One man reported he was called a racial slur twice during a Prop 8 protest; he suggested it “was like being at a Klan rally except the Klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks.” Even black same-sex partners, who were supporting gay marriage outright, were subjects of racial abuse.

Penny cherry-picks a few incidents to show that millions of Americans are all violence-embracing intolerant jerks. Thing is, how many gay teens think of hurting themselves when they grow up believing they could never get married, serve in the military, or in some cases, keep a job if they came out at the workplace? I’m not saying there aren’t incidents, but it’d be nice if Penny painted the whole picture, here.

She concludes:

So maybe it’s possible that the respondents to the Gallup poll did not want to voice their support for traditional marriage for fear of being bullied and called a bigot?

I’m sure that’s it, Penny. Keep the fingers in your ears as long as you would like.

23 Comments May 27, 2011

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