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Filed under: Tapes

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

Get Ready for More Prop 8 Rulings

By Matt Baume

Get ready for a busy holiday season with a slew of activity in the Prop 8 case. Washington and New Jersey ramp up their marriage campaigns, with good news possibly coming before the end of the year. And homosexuals account for half of all murders, according to guy who makes things up.

Well the big news last week was the renewed momentum in the Prop 8 case. It’s been over a year since the Court declared Prop 8 unconstitutional, and we’ve had to endure a lot of delays before marriages can start back up again. But now we’re facing a flurry of docket activity, hearings, and decisions. It’s a really exciting time, since the case is finally moving forward on the merits.

The ruling last week means that the Proponents have standing to go back to court. But court hasn’t worked out so well for them in the past — they could not have lost the first round of the Prop 8 case more resoundingly. If they want to go again, fine: we’ll be seeing at the 9th Circuit in less than 3 weeks, on December 8 at 2:30pm.

They’ve spent the last year throwing out every distraction they can think of, from gay judges to videotapes to standing, but now they’re finally running out of excuses. On December 8th they may have to talk about the merits of their case — and that’s the last thing they want, because they know their case doesn’t have any merits.

While the anticipation builds in California, a campaign to pass a marriage bill in the legislature is ramping up in Washington state. Visit to learn more about the coalition pushing the bill. In the last week, they’ve hosted a series of community meetings in Puyallup, Lakewood, Vancouver, Gig Harbor, and Seattle; and this week they’ll be meeting in Bellevue, Richland, Spokane, and Bellingham. It’s all part of a buildup to an intense lobbying effort that’ll target state lawmakers during the 2012 legislative session.

The momentum continues in New Jersey, where Deputy Assembly Majority Leader Reed Gusciora voiced his support for introducing a marriage equality bill before the end of the year. Despite a veto threat from governor Chris Christie, Gusciora claims to have bipartisan support for the measure in the lame duck session.

It’s a bit of a flashback to 2009, when outgoing legislators — including Governor Jon Corzine — were rumored to be working on a lame-duck marriage bill. That effort never materialized, leaving voters feeling disenchanted and betrayed. We’ll find out in the next month if we’ll see a repeat of that failure. It was five years ago that the state Supreme Court ruled that LGBT couples deserve equal treatment under the law, and we’re still waiting.

And finally this week, Oklahoma City has added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy, but not before this guy testified to the city council about why they shouldn’t:

“Judge John Martaugh, Chief Judge Magistrate of the New York City criminal courts, stated, ‘homosexuals account for half the murders in large cities.'”

Oh, neat. Half? That’s a lot. Good thing that statistic is made up. As is “Judge John Martaugh,” who doesn’t exist. If you mean Judge John Murtagh, yes, that’s a real person and he might have said that … sixty years ago, when he was alive and an “anti-pervert” crusader. Judge Murtagh’s son, by the way, also named John, is active in politics to this day. He’s a Councilman in Yonkers, a Republican who supports the freedom to marry.

Those are the headlines, visit us over at for more on all these stories and more. And visit to follow the federal case to overturn Prop 8. I’m Matt Baume, see you next week.

7 Comments November 21, 2011

What the DOMA Repeal Vote Really Means

The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to repeal the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. Now it moves to a Senate that’s hostile to marriage equality — but that’s actually okay.

On one side: ten Senate co-sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Dianne Feinstein of California, Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Al Franken of Minnesota, Christopher Coons of Delaware, and Dick Blumenthal of Connecticut.

On the other side: eight opponents of marriage equality. That’s Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Michael Lee of Utah, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Right now the case against DOMA is racing through all three branches of government. This latest advance is in the Legislative branch, but the Executive branch also stands against DOMA, and there’s a slew of cases working their way through federal courts.

Meanwhile, although AFER’s case, Perry v. Brown. concerns Prop 8 instead of DOMA, the arguments are similar: marriage discrimination violates the Constitution of the United States, whether it’s DOMA or whether it’s Proposition 8.

Orrin Hatch may have had the hearing’s strangest argument — he claimed that DOMA protects states’ rights. But no. Look at the law. DOMA has 3 parts. Part 1’s just the name. Part 2 prevents LGBT couples from moving their marriage from one state to another — so if you’re married in Iowa and you move to Utah, your marriage evaporates and there’s nothing Iowa can do to protect you. And Part 3 is even worse: it changed the federal definition of marriage, forcing federal agencies to ignore marriages. So even if you’re married in Iowa and you stay in Iowa, every single federal agency will work to undermine that marriage.

That’s why this state-by-state patchwork of marriage laws is so unfair. You’re married over here, you’re not over there, you’ve got to fill out four different sets of taxes, the YMCA can tell that you’re married but the IRS can’t. This is why full federal marriage equality is the only solution.

Senator Whitehouse put it best. He said that his constituents in Rhode Island are “prejudiced needlessly under this law. … We owe them better. We should treat [their] commitment with respect.”

And Senator Franken was even more succinct. “DOMA hurts families.”

The 10-to-8 victory for the Respect for Marriage Act means it now moves to the full Senate, where it has the support of 31 Senators. It’s pretty unlikely that it’ll be brought up for a vote anytime soon, but that’s fine — it gives time for support to grow in Congress.

Meanwhile, our case continues its expedited progress through the federal courts. Ari Ezra Waldman had a great piece on Towleroad this week about why we get more strength from legal arguments than from popular elections. Remember the misleading ads in California? Our opponents spent millions to trick Californians into thinking that Prop 8 had something to do with protecting marriage.

But when they’re in court, they’re under oath, and “limited by the compulsion to tell the truth.” And that’s why they’re trying to hide. They want to hide their names. They want to hide their arguments. They want to hide the tapes of the trial … because they know they have no case.

And if the country had voted on interracial marriage, it wouldn’t have been legal until the 1990s. It was a visionary Supreme Court that ruled in Loving v. Virginia that marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” and that marriage bans are “subversive to the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled 14 times that marriage is a fundamental American freedom. And soon, we’re going to make that 15 times. See you in court.

9 Comments November 11, 2011

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