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Archives – November, 2011

Why the NY anti-marriage equality lawsuit is likely to go nowhere

This was inadvertently published at the wrong time, leading it to be buried below two posts published earlier today. Bumped up to the top -Adam

By Jacob Combs

Ari Ezra Waldman has a new piece at Towleroad examining last week’s decision by a New York judge to let a lawsuit against the state’s recently enacted marriage equality law go forward in court.  In case you missed it, a group of conservatives filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down this summer’s Marriage Equality Act on the grounds that the legislative process to pass it violated Senate rules and the state’s open meetings laws.  Specifically, they argue that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to forego the requisite three-day waiting period before a bill can be voted on as well as the fact that several meetings took place behind closed doors mean that the law was improperly enacted.

In his decision last week, Judge Robert Wiggins refused Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and called the governor’s certification to waive the waiting period “disingenuous,” nevertheless observing that Governor’s reasoning was accepted by a vote of the Senate, and therefore not within the court’s jurisdiction to nullify.

In essence, the ruling is mostly procedural and only allows for the case to proceed to the discovery phase as opposed to making any definitive statement on the governor’s actions.  As Waldman points out, though, it’s unlikely the lawsuit will make any headway:

The judge’s view that continued anti-gay discrimination could not be sufficient is a simple disagreement of policy, not a basis on which to challenge the Governor’s good faith. The essence of judging is to not replace legislative policy preferences with your own, so the judge will be hamstrung to do anything but accept the Governor’s call for waiving the three day delay.

As to the second claim regarding the open meetings law, the full legislative session in which the law was voted upon was indeed open (and followed live by many people both in the state and around the country, myself included).  Some of the meetings regarding the legislation were private, but it seems a stretch to argue that the law mandates that every meeting about a piece of specific legislation has to be public.

We’ll have more on the case as is goes through the system and (hopefully) when it meets an early end.

15 Comments November 30, 2011

FAIR Education Act: Randy Thomasson likens accepting schools to slaughterhouses

By Adam Bink

Via Jeremy Hooper, Save California’s Randy Thomasson likens California children to:

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Because they might learn about Billie Jean King, Bayard Rustin, Harvey Milk and the movement to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when the FAIR Education Act begins to be implemented in January, if it’s not repealed at the ballot next November. Just wow.

Sign up to protect the FAIR Education Act and defeat this nonsense.

32 Comments November 30, 2011

DOMA: The Tell Casey to Commit Campaign

By Adam Bink

It’s been about two months since we asked Sen. Casey to join the 31 co-sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act. 2,400 constituents across Pennsylvania joined our call, but so far he’s refused — and remained silent. We know from conversations with his office that Sen. Casey is listening, but not exactly hearing. Or, put another way, he’s hearing, but not seeing us.

So we at Courage Campaign along with Equality Pennsylvania and Freedom to Marry are taking it to his doorstep. Today we’re launching the “Tell Casey to Commit” Campaign. Every single Wednesday, constituents across Pennsylvania will go to his offices across Pennsylvania and DC to hand Sen. Casey and his staff their story of why DOMA repeal is important to them, along with a photo of who it affects that they know. They’ll ask if Sen. Casey has come around yet. If not, we’ll go again next week, and we’re not letting up until he changes his mind.

Sen. Casey might think it’s all about jobs, the economy and maybe Social Security, but it isn’t. If he doesn’t mind that his constituents are being treated as second-class, then we’re going to his doorstep to make him see those faces. Then, we’re going to highlight those stories here on P8TT and elsewhere, to show who Sen. Casey isn’t listening to. And wherever he shows up in public over the next year — town halls, spaghetti dinners, debates, you name it — we’ll be there, too.

Today, couples and individuals are going to his office in Philadelphia. Next week, constituents going to offices in Allentown and Philadelphia. If you’re in Pennsylvania or know someone who is, sign up to make an office visit at your convenience. You can go at whatever time you’d like. If you’d like to go with a buddy, we can pair you up, too. Sen. Casey has offices all across the state, including Erie, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Bellefonte. And if you’re in DC, you can make a visit, too. The whole visit will take you about 15 minutes, and you’ll be doing your part to change minds. If you know folks in the state, please share. You can also share on Facebook.

Take the time to make your voice heard. Sign up today, and one of our field staff will quickly be in touch to get you everything you need.

Our press release is below.

Groups Launch “Tell Casey to Commit” Campaign to Urge DOMA Repeal


(Harrisburg, PA, November 30, 2011) – Today Freedom to Marry, Courage Campaign, and Equality Pennsylvania launched the next phase of their campaign urging Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania to cosponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The campaign, called “Tell Casey to Commit,” includes couples and families visiting Senator Casey’s offices to talk face-to-face about why they want his support to repeal DOMA.

“Loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in Pennsylvania have reached out to Senator Casey diligently throughout the past month, but he has yet to commit to supporting the Respect for Marriage Act,” said Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry. “Our hope is that by having the opportunity to meet with constituent families who are harmed every day without federal recognition of their marriage, Senator Casey will add his name to the list of cosponsors of the much needed Respect for Marriage Act.”

Beginning today, every Wednesday a gay or lesbian couple harmed by DOMA, or a loved one close to them, will visit Senator Casey’s staff and tell their personal story. They will then ask if Senator Casey has made a decision about the legislation and leave him with a letter and framed picture of their family. Afterwards, the groups will use multimedia to share the experiences of the visitors on the internet in order to increase public awareness and education about the Respect for Marriage Act.

“Sen. Casey is the kind of leader who does something when his constituents are treated as second-class,” said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the Courage Campaign, a 750,000 member online, grassroots organization dedicated to fighting for progressive issues. “That’s why I’m confident that it’s only a matter of time before he supports the Respect for Marriage Act. Seeing the faces and hearing the stories of constituents who are treated as second class citizens can push someone to do what’s already in their heart. That’s what we’re trying to do with our new campaign.”

Earlier this month, the groups collected and delivered over 2,400 signatures from state residents asking Senator Casey to support the legislation. The upcoming visits are intended to supplement the petition by giving the Senator and his staff a more intimate understanding of how DOMA harms Pennsylvania constituents, including more than 22,000 same-sex couples who reside in the state—many of whom are legally married and 20% of whom are raising children.

“Equality PA believes in the power of personal stories and that is why we have chosen to play a part in this unique initiative to encourage Senator Casey to cosponsor the Respect for Marriage Act,” explained Equality PA Executive Director Ted Martin. “The Tell Casey to Commit Campaign will bring the Senator face-to-face with the thousands of Pennsylvanians who have been unfairly asked to live with the disrespect, iniquity and insult heaped upon them by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. These visits won’t be to discuss statistics, instead they will put real faces to real lives and give meaning to the simple fact that every relationship deserves to exist with dignity.”

Freedom to Marry and Courage Campaign have worked with other statewide groups in similar efforts as part of a federal campaign to increase the number of sponsors in both the House of Representatives and the Senate for the Respect for Marriage Act. The organizations celebrated a significant victory in September after Senator Mikulski of Maryland signed on as a cosponsor of the Act following a campaign that garnered a petition with 3,000 signatures. There are now a record number of supporters in both the House, where the bill has 133 sponsors, and in the Senate with 31 sponsors, including every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which voted recently to advance the Respect for Marriage Act to the full Senate. Currently, the groups are working on other campaigns that aim for Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, and Senator Susan Collins of Maine to announce their support as well.


Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.

Courage Campaign is a multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to work for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country.

Equality Pennsylvania supports the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and our mission is to be the preeminent LGBT advocacy organization for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and work collaboratively to establish a comprehensive network of individuals and organizations united in securing equal rights for the LGBT community.

2 Comments November 30, 2011

Iowa House Speaker says gay marriage is not the focus…so far

By Adam Bink

Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen:

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said he has no plans to revisit volatile social issues like gay marriage and abortion when lawmakers convene Jan. 9. Republicans who control the House approved tough restrictions on abortion and a resolution calling for a statewide vote on banning gay marriage last time around, but the Senate‘s Democratic leader blocked debate on both measures.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has indicated he would do the same again, and given that, Paulsen said there’s little incentive to revisit the issues.

“We’re not afraid to address those issues, but we’re also not interested in squandering Iowans’ time,” he said. “We have a job to do and we’re going to do it.”

Gronstal said he also expected to focus on economic issues and avoid drawn-out arguments of social issues.

“Iowans would prefer that we all work on things that would get 100,000 Iowans back to work,” he said. “Kraig and I have talked and he seems to be in agreement that this session is going to be much shorter than last session.”


Paulsen said he’s not interested in spending more time on issues that can’t be resolved. There have been some discussions about gun control issues, but no firm proposals have surfaced, he said.

“Right now, the primary focus of the caucus, make no mistake, is on jobs and the economy,” Paulsen said.

With the session scheduled to end April 17, both leaders said they also want to avoid the kind of gridlock that kept lawmakers in session this year until the end of June. But they conceded that’s always a challenge when each party controls one chamber.

“Some of those issues, particularly the budget issues, are difficult to work through,” Paulsen said.

Of course, we’ve seen this movie before in New Hampshire, where the new Republican majority earlier this year said its primary focus was jobs and the economy and that it had no plans to repeal marriage equality for New Hampshire residents, then moved to do just that until a broad coalition rose up against it and an overwhelming majority opposed doing so in the polls. And next year, they’re planning on doing it again. So we’ll see if Paulsen and his folks stick to their word.

10 Comments November 29, 2011

Response briefs filed with 9th Circuit regarding Perry trial recordings

By Jacob Combs

Thanks to Kathleen for bringing this our way.  Yesterday was the deadline for response briefs in the appeal of Judge Ware’s decision to make the recordings of thePerry trial available to the public.  Here are the briefs from the plaintiffs (our side), the media coalition and the City and County of San Francisco, all of which are in favor of upholding Judge Ware’s decision to unseal the tapes.

In related news, the 9th Circuit issued an order yesterday granting the request of NBC 7 San Diego to videotape the Dec. 8 2:30 pm hearing “for later broadcast.”  It’s unclear at this point whether that means both hours of arguments or just the first, or whether the hearings will be live streamed.

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21 Comments November 29, 2011

Thankful for Marriage Equality

By Matt Baume

Hi, I’m Matt Baume from the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and welcome to special edition of Marriage News Watch. I’m up at the Russian River for thanksgiving right now, but there’s been some marriage equality news so let’s do a nice quick update so we can be back to eating.

We’re closer than ever to the next Prop 8 decision. The case has been working its way through the courts in little bits and pieces, but this week the ninth circuit court of appeals consolidated some of those pieces. Our next hearing is in ten days, on December 8 at 2:30pm. We’ll be discussing the release of the tapes of the trial, and then we could have a ruling on the entire appeal anytime thereafter.

The other Prop 8 news this week is an announcement from AFER about the LA debut of Dustin Lance Black’s play, “8,” based on the transcripts of the trial. After its huge premier on Broadway in September, the show will have an LA premier on March 3 at the Wilshire Ebell Theater with an all star cast. Casting and ticket info will be coming out soon.

And in Spain, the conservative Popular Party won big in national elections. Party leaders have vowed to repeal the country’s marriage equality law, so now Spanish LGBTs are rushing to marry before lawmakers have a chance to make good on their threats.

Those are the headlines, visit us over at for more on next week’s hearing, or for more about marriage equality around the country and the world.

Hope you had a great thanksgiving — and we’ll see you next week.

5 Comments November 28, 2011

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