Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Court refuses to allow D.C. vote on gay marriage | Washington Examiner

Court refuses to allow D.C. vote on gay marriage | Washington Examiner

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Court refuses to allow D.C. vote on gay marriage
By: Michael Neibauer
Examiner Staff Writer
June 30, 2009

A D.C. Superior Court judge has dismissed a motion filed by gay marriage opponents to stall the implementation of a new District law recognizing same sex unions performed elsewhere.

The decision from Judge Judith Retchin to deny a preliminary injunction and grant the city’s motion to dismiss means there will be no referendum on the recognition statute, which will likely become law July 6 after a congressional review of the law is completed. Congress is not expected to undue the legislation.

Retchin determined that the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics ruled properly that the proposed referendum, sought by a coalition of area clergy, was an improper subject for a ballot question because it would violate the city’s Human Rights Act. The act, she said, makes it “unlawful for the government to deny services or benefits based on membership in a protected category,” and there are some 200 rights and responsibilities conferred to married couples that are not given to legally recognized same sex couples.

Retchin also concluded that Dean vs. D.C., a key 1995 Court of Appeals rule that supported a court clerk’s decision not to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, did not apply in this case. Dean, she wrote, “involved a different factual scenario and presented a different legal question than is before the Court.”

The Stand 4 Marriage D.C. coalition, led by Bishop Harry Jackson of Beltsville’s Hope Christian Church, filed its proposed referendum application on May 27, 16 days after the bill was transmitted to Congress. That delay, Retchin wrote in her decision, was “inexcusable.”

“At bottom, the harm about which Petitioners complain is not based on a denial of the right to referendum,” Retchin wrote. “Rather, they simply disagree with legislation enacted by our duly-elected Council. A citizen’s disagreement with constitutionally sound legislation, whethe

Obama assures he's committed to gay rights - Los Angeles Times

Obama assures he's committed to gay rights - Los Angeles Times

He meets with gay and lesbian leaders, asking them for patience. The activists, though appreciative of the president's support, want to see bold action.
By Peter Nicholas
7:10 PM PDT, June 29, 2009
Reporting from Washington -- Facing a political backlash from an important voting bloc, President Obama met with leaders of the gay and lesbian community Monday, asking for patience and assuring them that in time he will usher in policy changes that protect them from discriminatory treatment.

"We've been in office six months now," the president said. "I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration."

Obama offers expanded benefits to gay partners of federal employees

Obama is under mounting pressure to fulfill campaign promises to repeal laws barring gays from serving openly in the military and proclaiming marriage to be a union between a man and a woman.

Gay leaders also are unhappy about a legal brief submitted by Obama's Justice Department that gave a vigorous defense of the federal marriage law passed in 1996. The act also holds that states need not recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Obama, joined by his wife, Michelle, told the 250-some elected officials and activists that he was required to uphold federal laws even if he personally disagreed with them. By the end of his tenure, he said, he will have taken steps that gays and lesbians long have hoped to see.

The reception was warm. People gathered in the East Room of the White House shouted, "Thank you, Mr. President" and "Love you."

But afterward, some guests echoed a point made by Obama: What matters is not supportive rhetoric, but concrete steps toward fuller equality.

"While we appreciate that this president has given voice to so many important issues the gay and lesbian community faces, we also want him to take bold action," said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Boston-based Family Equality Council, an advocacy group.

The occasion for the meeting Monday was the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, considered the opening of the modern gay rights movement. Patrons at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village clashed with police during a raid in June 1969.

Invited to the White House event were major figures in the gay rights movement, including Frank Kameny, who lost his job as a government astronomer because of his sexual orientation. Kameny led a protest outside the White House in 1965, a risky thing to do in that era, Obama said.

Some in attendance applauded Obama for assembling such a large group of gay and lesbian leaders in the White House.

"The very fact that he would invite 200 LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] leaders from across the nation on the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the gay liberation movement is just an astounding thing," said Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is gay. "Most people were standing around not believing they were actually guests in the White House. He expressed his opposition to the same things that we're all opposed to, and his support for things we hope to see happen: the end of 'don't ask, don't tell,' employment nondiscrimination and the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act."

Recognizing a breach with gay supporters, the White House has taken conspicuous steps to demonstrate the president is committed to gay rights. On June 17, Obama extended certain benefits to gay and lesbian federal employees. He also proclaimed this month "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month."

But disappointment persists. Some in the gay community are upset by the legal brief filed by the Obama administration in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. Two California men have sued to overturn the act, and the Justice Department defended the law's recognition of "a centuries-old form of marriage."

"I've called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination against same-sex couples in this country," Obama said. "Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law."

But that's not likely to happen right away. Obama and Congress are devoting most of their energy to passing a healthcare overhaul and a sweeping new energy policy. With such a busy agenda, White House and congressional leaders have been reluctant to overload the political machinery in Washington by pushing through more controversial legislation.

Obama is hoping his gay supporters will wait. But patience is starting to ebb.

"People feel they've been patient for a long time," said Leslie Calman, executive director of the National Lesbian Health Organization's Mautner Project. "They feel President Obama is on our side and want to see something concrete as soon as possible."


Federal Prop 8 Test Happens Thursday | The Bilerico Project

Federal Prop 8 Test Happens Thursday | The Bilerico Project

Filed by: Karen Ocamb
June 29, 2009 11:30 AM

After all the outrage, protests and promises to put same sex marriage back on the ballot in 2010 following the California Supreme Court's May 26 ruling upholding Prop 8, the struggle over marriage equality is now back in the courts - and this time the stakes are even higher.

Ironically, an odd political pair is leading the legal fight this time around - a straight same-sex couple: Ted Olson and David Boies. Their involvement is so unexpected and potentially significant that the case is now referred to as the Olson/Boies case, as opposed to the "Perry" case - named for the last name of the first plaintiff, as is customary.

On Thursday, July 2 the Olson/Boies federal case - brought by the newly established American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo - will go before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker in the Northern District of California. (This case is distinct from two other unrelated federal cases that are specifically targeting the Defense of Marriage Act, the law that keeps married gay couples from receiving federal benefits.)

Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean wrote in FindLaw that Walker is considered "unpredictable," adding that Walker was appointed to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush after he was not re-confirmed under President Ronald Reagan.

The judge will hear a preliminary motion seeking a temporary and permanent injunction against enforcement of Prop 8 on the grounds that the state constitutional amendment violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

The defendants are Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Attorney General Jerry Brown, and the counties of Alameda and Los Angeles where the two couples live.

That's the straightforward part. Almost everything else is as unpredictable as a ride on a rickety Magic Mountain roller coaster.

click above link for full story.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Group Petitions to Expand 1964 Civil Rights Act to Include LGBT - Towleroad, More than gay news. More gay men

Group Petitions to Expand 1964 Civil Rights Act to Include LGBT - Towleroad, More than gay news. More gay men

This morning, a press conference was held outside New York's historic Stonewall Inn by grassroots online group The Power announcing its LGBT Civil Rights campaign for full equality. At the presser, the group presented U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler with a signed petition for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to expand the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include LBGT status.

Stonewall4I'll post video when it's available.

Updated: Statements by prominent leaders, AFTER THE JUMP...

The group writes: "As President Obama prepares to host a cocktail reception at the White House for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender leaders, prominent activists and fundraisers return to the Stonewall Inn on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots to announce a new comprehensive LGBT civil rights agenda. At that time they will also present U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler with signed petitions from all 50 states and 36 countries supporting expansion of the Civil Rights Act to include LGBT people, marking the official launch of The Power’s nationwide petition drive and campaign demanding full equality now."

The petition will be accompanied by statements of support from prominent lawmakers and LGBT leaders. A list, is AFTER THE JUMP...

Vander Plaats predicts own impeachment over gay marriage « Iowa Independent

Future trouble in IOWA????

Vander Plaats predicts own impeachment over gay marriage « Iowa Independent

By Jason Hancock 6/29/09 10:17 AM

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats has renewed his promise to end same-sex marriage with an executive order, even if it means facing impeachment.

Bob Vander Plaats

Appearing on the show of controversial Christian radio host Steve Deace, Vander Plaats once again said if elected governor in 2010 he would issue an executive order stopping same-sex marriage until the legislature either passes a law legalizing it or passes a constitutional amendment banning it.

“I can’t give the people the right to vote on this, but I think I can mobilize people like [Senate Majority Leader Mike] Gronstal and [House Speaker Pat] Murphy by saying no more same-sex marriages until you step up and vote to make this law,” Vander Plaats said.

After doing so, he said he fully expects Democrats to try to remove him from office for “promoting lawlessness.”

“I would like to have that debate, because then Pat Murphy has to go back to his people in Dubuque and tell them we’re going to impeach Vander Plaats because he wants the legislature to do its job in the constitution and he also wants to give you the right to vote,” he said. “I don’t think that would play very well.”

Mark Kende, director of Drake University’s Constitutional Law Center, said the governor lacks the authority to issue an executive order freezing a decision by the Iowa Supreme Court. And while they disagree on many things, that is “pretty well accepted constitutional law by scholars who are both conservative and liberal.”

If Vander Plaats were to issue such an order, it could result in a constitutional crisis the likes of which the country hasn’t seen since desegregation cases in the Deep South, Kende said. Local officials, who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses, would be stuck between the governor’s executive order and an earlier order from the Iowa Attorney General’s office explaining to county recorders that they have no authority to ignore the court’s ruling.

Ultimately, desegregation cases were settled in the south by the federal government using troops to support the court, an option that is unlikely in Iowa.

“Courts do depend on the executive branch for enforcement, and regular executive disobedience would result in numerous crises,” Kende said. “This is what has happened in some other countries where the executive ignores the judiciary, such as Zimbabwe to give just one example.”

Vander Plaats said the Iowa Supreme Court overstepped its authority when on April 3 it issued an order striking down the state’s Defense of Marriage Act and legalizing same-sex marriage.

“If the Supreme Court goes out of bounds, who holds them in check?” he said. “I believe that’s where the executive branch comes in, to hold them in check. “

How to oppose same-sex marriage has been a focal point of a debate raging within the Republican Party of Iowa. Last month, Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King of Kiron publicly criticized those calling on elected officials to ignore the court’s ruling, saying the only method available to Iowans to stop same-sex marriage is a constitutional amendment.

King’s opinion, which he shared in a guest column for The Des Moines Register, drew harsh criticism from Deace and conservative activist Bill Salier, who said elected officials must be willing to confront the judicial branch, as well as ignore decisions they disagree with.

More recently, Vander Plaats attacked another GOP gubernatorial hopeful, Christopher Rants, for saying the governor does not have the authority to issue such an order.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Now not the time for marriage bill

Now not the time for marriage bill

CAPITAL REGION — For now, same-sex marriage is off the table in New York — and some supporters of the proposed bill to legalize same-sex marriage think that’s fine.

They say they don’t want the bill to be enacted while the leadership of the state Senate is in dispute because they fear that that would make it easier for opponents to get it overturned later on. Some had expected the Senate to take up the bill, which was passed by the Assembly in May, this week. Gov. David Paterson has said that he would sign it if it reached his desk.

“We’re not disappointed,” said Nora Yates, executive director of the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council. “We want marriage equality to be legal and not be partisan and not be in question. Because of all the confusion, we’re glad it’s not coming up. This is not a partisan issue. It’s people’s lives. We would like marriage removed from the drama.”

Even so, same-sex couples are anxious, Yates said.

“Having marriage equality is a daily issue for them,” she said.

Above the fray

In a statement, Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said that the Senate needs to handle the marriage bill “respectfully.”

“State senators need to know that it is unacceptable to leave Albany without voting on and passing the marriage bill,” Van Capelle said. “Marriage equality is not a partisan issue and should never be used as a political football in the current situation that has caused complete gridlock in our state capitol. Thousands of New York families expect and need senators to immediately figure out a way to work together and start doing the people’s business. ... We expect that marriage will be at the top of the agenda when the stalemate is over and the Senate resumes its business, but only when we are certain that any such vote taken by the Senate is valid and not subject to legal challenge.”

click link above for full story

Op-Ed Columnist - 40 Years Later, Still Second-Class Americans - NYTimes.com

excellent op ed

Op-Ed Columnist - 40 Years Later, Still Second-Class Americans - NYTimes.com


LIKE all students caught up in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, I was riveted by the violent confrontations between the police and protestors in Selma, 1965, and Chicago, 1968. But I never heard about the several days of riots that rocked Greenwich Village after the police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in the wee hours of June 28, 1969 — 40 years ago today.

Then again, I didn’t know a single person, student or teacher, male or female, in my entire Ivy League university who was openly identified as gay. And though my friends and I were obsessed with every iteration of the era’s political tumult, we somehow missed the Stonewall story. Not hard to do, really. The Times — which would not even permit the use of the word gay until 1987 — covered the riots in tiny, bowdlerized articles, one of them but three paragraphs long, buried successively on pages 33, 22 and 19.

But if we had read them, would we have cared? It was typical of my generation, like others before and after, that the issue of gay civil rights wasn’t on our radar screen. Not least because gay people, fearful of harassment, violence and arrest, were often forced into the shadows. As David Carter writes in his book “Stonewall,” at the end of the 1960s homosexual sex was still illegal in every state but Illinois. It was a crime punishable by castration in seven states. No laws — federal, state or local — protected gay people from being denied jobs or housing. If a homosexual character appeared in a movie, his life ended with either murder or suicide.

The younger gay men — and scattered women — who acted up at the Stonewall on those early summer nights in 1969 had little in common with their contemporaries in the front-page political movements of the time. They often lived on the streets, having been thrown out of their blue-collar homes by their families before they finished high school. They migrated to the Village because they’d heard it was one American neighborhood where it was safe to be who they were.

Stonewall “wasn’t a 1960s student riot,” wrote one of them, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, in a poignant handwritten flier on display at the New York Public Library in the exhibition “1969: The Year of Gay Liberation.” They had “no nice dorms for sleeping,” “no school cafeteria for certain food” and “no affluent parents” to send checks. They had no powerful allies of any kind, no rights, no future. But they were brave. They risked their necks to prove, as Lanigan-Schmidt put it, that “the mystery of history” could happen “in the least likely of places.”

After the gay liberation movement was born at Stonewall, this strand of history advanced haltingly until the 1980s. It took AIDS and the new wave of gay activism it engendered to fully awaken many, including me, to the gay people all around them. But that tardy and still embryonic national awareness did not save the lives of those whose abridged rights made them even more vulnerable during a rampaging plague.

On Monday, President Obama will commemorate Stonewall with an East Room reception for gay leaders. Some of the invitees have been fiercely critical of what they see as his failure, thus far, to redeem his promise to be a “fierce advocate” for their still unfulfilled cause. The rancor increased this month, after the Department of Justice filed a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the most ignominious civil rights betrayal under the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton.

The Obama White House has said that the Justice Department action was merely a bureaucratic speed bump on the way to repealing DOMA — which hardly mitigates the brief’s denigration of same-sex marriage, now legal in six states after many hard-fought battles. The White House has also asserted that its Stonewall ceremony was “long planned” — even though it sure looks like damage control. News of the event trickled out publicly only last Monday, after dozens of aggrieved, heavy-hitting gay donors dropped out of a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser with a top ticket of $30,400.

In conversations with gay activists on both coasts last week, I heard several theories as to why Obama has seemed alternately clumsy and foot-dragging in honoring his campaign commitments to dismantle DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The most charitable take had it that he was following a deliberate strategy, given his habit of pursuing his goals through long-term game plans. After all, he’s only five months into his term and must first juggle two wars, the cratered economy, health care and Iran. Some speculated that the president is fearful of crossing preachers, especially black preachers, who are adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage. Still others said that the president was tone-deaf on the issue because his inner White House circle lacks any known gay people.

But the most prevalent theory is that Obama, surrounded by Clinton White House alumni with painful memories, doesn’t want to risk gay issues upending his presidency, as they did his predecessor’s in 1993. After having promised to lift the ban on gays in the military, Clinton beat a hasty retreat into Don’t Ask once Congress and the Pentagon rebelled. This early pratfall became a lasting symbol of his chaotic management style — and a precursor to another fiasco, Hillarycare, that Obama is also working hard not to emulate.

But 2009 is not then, and if the current administration really is worried that it could repeat Clinton’s history on Don’t Ask, that’s ludicrous. Clinton failed less because of the policy’s substance than his fumbling of the politics. Even in 1992 a majority of the country (57 percent) supported an end to the military ban on gays. But Clinton blundered into the issue with no strategy at all and little or no advance consultation with the Joint Chiefs and Congress. That’s never been Obama’s way.

The cultural climate is far different today, besides. Now, roughly 75 percent of Americans support an end to Don’t Ask, and gay issues are no longer a third rail in American politics. Gay civil rights history is moving faster in the country, including on the once-theoretical front of same-sex marriage, than it is in Washington. If the country needs any Defense of Marriage Act at this point, it would be to defend heterosexual marriage from the right-wing “family values” trinity of Sanford, Ensign and Vitter.

But full gay citizenship is far from complete. “There’s a perception in Washington that you can throw little bits of partial equality to gay people and that gay people will be satisfied with that,” said Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter who won an Oscar for “Milk,” last year’s movie about Harvey Milk, the pioneering gay civil rights politician of the 1970s. Such “crumbs,” Black added, cannot substitute for “full and equal rights in all matters of civil law in all 50 states.”

As anger at White House missteps boiled over this month, the president abruptly staged a ceremony to offer some crumbs. The pretext was the signing of an executive memorandum bestowing benefits to the domestic partners of federal employees. But some of those benefits were already in force, and the most important of them all, health care, was not included because it is forbidden by DOMA.

One gay leader invited to the Oval Office that day was Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Equality Council, an advocacy organization for gay families based in Massachusetts. She showed a photo of her 7-year-old twin sons, Tom and Tim, to Obama. The president cooed. “I told him they’re following in Sasha’s footsteps, entering the second grade,” she recounted to me last week. “It was a very human exchange between two parents.”

Chrisler seized the moment to appeal to the president on behalf of her boys. “The worst thing you can experience as parents is to feel your children are discriminated against,” she told him. “Imagine if you have to explain every day who your parents are and that they’re as real as every family is.” Chrisler said that she and her children “want a president who will make that go away,” adding, “I believe in his heart he wants that to happen, his political mistakes notwithstanding.”

No president possesses that magic wand, but Obama’s inaction on gay civil rights is striking. So is his utterly uncharacteristic inarticulateness. The Justice Department brief defending DOMA has spoken louder for this president than any of his own words on the subject. Chrisler noted that he has given major speeches on race, on abortion and to the Muslim world. “People are waiting for that passionate speech from him on equal rights,” she said, “and the time is now.”

Action would be even better. It’s a press cliché that “gay supporters” are disappointed with Obama, but we should all be. Gay Americans aren’t just another political special interest group. They are Americans who are actively discriminated against by federal laws. If the president is to properly honor the memory of Stonewall, he should get up to speed on what happened there 40 years ago, when courageous kids who had nothing, not even a public acknowledgment of their existence, stood up to make history happen in the least likely of places.

Friday, June 26, 2009

State Class Action Lawsuit Filed in California Challenging New Constitutional Amendment Limiting Marriage to Heterosexuals

State Class Action Lawsuit Filed in California Challenging New Constitutional Amendment Limiting Marriage to Heterosexuals

SAN FRANCISCO, June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- A class action lawsuit Burns v. State of California Case No. CGC-08-481908 was filed on behalf of unmarried gays and lesbians in San Francisco Superior Court today, Friday June 26, 2009, one day before San Francisco's gay pride festival. This will be the first case in California's State Court challenging California's new Constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. The Plaintiffs are represented by attorney Waukeen McCoy who successfully argued In Re Marriage Cases in 2008, which briefly allowed homosexuals the right to marry in California.

Last year, the California Supreme Court decided that California's statutory law denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the privacy, due process, and equal protection provisions of the California State Constitution as it then read. Shortly after the decision, California's voters, by initiative, changed the text of the California Constitution by adding a new Section 7.5 to Article I. The new section reads "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

This lawsuit claims that section 7.5 of Article I violates the equal protection clause of the State Constitution. McCoy said, "we chose to bring this lawsuit in State Court rather than in Federal Court because sexual orientation is a protected class under California State Law and it is not recognized in Federal Law."

Ireland grants rights to same-sex partnerships | International | Reuters

Ireland grants rights to same-sex partnerships | International | Reuters

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland recognized the legal rights of same-sex couples for the first time Friday in a civil partnership bill that gave people in long-term relationships many of the statutory rights of married couples.

But it stopped short of recognizing civil marriage. There are strong rights conferred to marriage under the constitution of the traditionally Catholic country, which was amended to lift a ban on divorce in 1995.

"This bill provides legal protection for cohabiting couples and is an important step, particularly for same-sex couples, whose relationships have not previously been given legal recognition by the state," Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said in a statement.

The legislation provides a range of previously denied rights including maintenance obligations, protection of a shared home and succession. "Balance is achieved by maintaining material distinctions between civil partnership and marriage, in particular between the rights attaching to both, while at the same time reflecting the equality rights protected by the constitution," Ahern said.

The legalized sale of contraceptives caused controversy upon its introduction in 1979 in Ireland, where abortion still remains illegal.

"This is an historic civil rights reform that will resolve many immediate and pressing issues faced by lesbian and gay couples and the minister and the government are to be congratulated," Kieran Rose, chairman of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said in a statement.

The Word - Stonewalling | June 25, 2009 | ColbertNation.com

Funny but sadly true

The Word - Stonewalling | June 25, 2009 | ColbertNation.com

Thursday, June 25, 2009

NY Senate confusion sidelines gay marriage -- Newsday.com

NY Senate confusion sidelines gay marriage -- Newsday.com

By VALERIE BAUMAN | Associated Press Writer
June 25, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. - The paralyzing fight for control of the New York Senate has sidelined the movement for same-sex marriage indefinitely.

The measure's prime Democratic sponsors, Sen. Thomas Duane and Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell of New York City, say the issue is too important to push during the political turmoil in a Senate split 31-31. Paterson and senators question the validity of the sessions in which neither side will allow the other a 32-senator quorum needed to vote.

"I would be very resistant to the Senate voting on it until it was crystal clear the vote was legal and our action would ultimately and unquestionably make it law in New York state," Duane said. "As I've said, I think it's a terrible idea to gamble with our civil rights."

"The Senate _ as it's currently operating _ would prevent it from being enacted," O'Donnell said. "How does that help anybody?"

Gov. David Paterson, who strongly supports a same-sex marriage law, removed same-sex marriage Thursday from his agenda items in the extraordinary session he has called.

"We expect that marriage will be at the top of the agenda when the stalemate is over and the Senate resumes its business," said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of same-sex rights group the Empire State Pride Agenda. "The bill must be handled respectfully and given its due debate so that senators can vote their conscience."

Supportive politicians and activists remain confident the bill will gain final legislative approval in the Senate.

"I am disappointed, I'm sad. However, I still strongly believe that marriage equality in New York state is inevitable," Duane said.

New York's warring Senate factions have been paralyzed since a June 8 coup by a Republican-dominated coalition over the Democratic conference.

On Thursday, the Senate's Democratic conference of 31 senators and the coalition each held sessions for a total of less than five minutes. It was a slap in the face for Paterson, who threatened to withhold their $160 daily expenses for every day they are in Albany and will try to dock their pay. They are paid a minimum of $79,500 a year before leadership stipends.

Both sides say they're working on a deal to share power _ if only temporarily _ to extend critical laws and authorize local government taxes that face deadlines in six days. They had wanted to go home to negotiate over the weekend and return Monday in a single, working session, but Paterson said they could provide no proof they are close to a deal.

That "made me think they are more concerned about how they spend their weekend, than how the people of New York spend the period after July 1 when the legislation doesn't pass and laws expire exposing counties and municipalities to grave risk," Paterson said.

"I think we're all hostages," said Sen. Carl Kruger, a Brooklyn Democrat, who called Paterson incompetent.

Democratic conference leader John Sampson, of Brooklyn, and coalition leader Sen. Pedro Espada, of the Bronx, insisted a power-sharing agreement is in the works.

"Now we've adopted a new approach," said Espada, the Senate president elected by the coalition. "There is a reliance now on mutual respect and on really looking beyond ourselves to saving this institution and the embarrassment that has been brought to all of us."

"We're working," Sampson said in an interview. "The deadline is looming."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Yorkers supportive of gay marriage: poll | U.S. | Reuters

New Yorkers supportive of gay marriage: poll | U.S. | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York State voters have shifted their support for the first time to a slim majority backing a law to allow same-sex couples to marry, Quinnipiac University said in a poll released on Tuesday.

The poll found 51 percent of voters supported gay marriage versus 41 percent who opposed it, with 8 percent undecided.

The poll was released as a bill seeking to legalize gay marriage languishes in the State Senate due to a leadership battle between Democrats and Republicans.

New York's State Assembly passed the bill on May 12, and Governor David Paterson has vowed to sign it if it passes the Senate.

In May a Quinnipiac poll found voters split evenly at 46 percent, while in April 2004 voters opposed gay marriage by a 55 to 37 percent majority.

The release of the survey coincides with gay pride week marking the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City's Greenwich Village that triggered the modern U.S. gay rights movement. The annual march through Manhattan is set for Sunday.

Forty-two U.S. states explicitly prohibit gay marriage, including 29 with constitutional amendments, according to Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group.

Gay couples can get married in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa and will be allowed marry to in Vermont starting in September and New Hampshire in January. Some states provide for same-sex unions that grant many of the same rights as marriage.

New York's Same-Sex-Marriage Follies -- New York Magazine

this is an excellent history of what has been going on behind the scenes to get the marriage bill passed.

Summer Guide 2009 - New York's Same-Sex-Marriage Follies -- New York Magazine

On June 19, 2007, the New York State Assembly passed a bill to legalize gay marriage after a three-hour floor debate that ranged from apocalyptic to heart-wrenching. “We are witnessing the twilight of our civilization,” warned Bronx lawmaker Michael Benjamin. Teresa Sayward, an upstate Republican assemblywoman, told a story about how she came to accept her gay son’s wish to live a normal life that left Assembly staffers in tears. “Let’s search our hearts tonight and do the right thing,” she urged.

Ultimately, the bill passed, 85 to 61, making it the second time that a legislative body in America had approved such a law. But when it came to the State Senate, which at the time was controlled by Republicans, the longtime majority leader, Joseph Bruno, didn’t bring it up for a vote. “We’re not going to spend hours debating an issue that, you know, is not going to be of consequence,” he said. Bruno’s not anti-gay, but enough of his members were against it that he didn’t feel the need to go out on a limb.

click link above for entire article

Monday, June 22, 2009

SFGate: Politics Blog : Religious study: Gays not "godless" "Christian bashers"

SFGate: Politics Blog : Religious study: Gays not "godless" "Christian bashers"

This breaking news in from The Barna Group -- a chronicler of religious life and habits, particularly of the Christian variety: Gay folks' attitudes about spirituality aren't much different from straight folks. These and other "surprising insights" were in Barna's spiritual profile of gays released Monday. In it was a bit of a political heeding for gay-bashers:

"People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts," wrote George Barna Monday. "A substantial majority of gays cite their faith as a central facet of their life, consider themselves to be Christian, and claim to have some type of meaningful personal commitment to Jesus Christ active in their life today."

"It is interesting to see that most homosexuals, who have some history within the Christian Church, have rejected orthodox biblical teachings and principles -- but, in many cases, to nearly the same degree that the heterosexual Christian population has rejected those same teachings and principles," Barna said. "Although there are clearly some substantial differences in the religious beliefs and practices of the straight and gay populations, there may be less of a spiritual gap between straights and gays than many Americans would assume."

Now there will be some quibbling with a couple of Barna's assumptions. Like how Barna pegs the LGBT population at about 3 percent of the adult population. No, he doesn't believe in the 1-in-10 stat, but then again, LGBT population scholar Gary Gates says it's more like 5 percent, depending how you count.

That aside, the Barnanians found that "out of the 20 faith-oriented attributes examined in the Barna study, there were just a few in which there were no significant differences between the heterosexual and homosexual populations."

Hmm. "No significant differences between the heterosexual and homosexual"(s)? Does Donald Wildmon know about this?

One big diff, according to the study: "While seven out of every ten heterosexuals (71 percent) have an orthodox, biblical perception of God, just 43 percent of homosexuals do. In fact, an equal percentage possesses a pantheistic view about deity -- i.e., that 'God' refers to any of a variety of perspectives, such as personally achieving a state of higher consciousness or maximized personal potential, or that there are multiple gods that exist, or even that everyone is god."

Another diff: "Heterosexuals were twice as likely as homosexuals to strongly agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches."

And in the timeliness is next to godliness (OK, and cleanliness) dept: On Monday a crew of organizations supporting same sex marriage are launching their Get Engaged Tour of California -- a pump-priming tour of the state in advance of an expected 2010 ballot measure campaign expected later this year. We told you about it a while back. Faith leaders will be prominently featured on this tour, as opposed to last year's anti-Proposition 8 campaign, when they were largely invisible.

"Our faith-based values require us to love our neighbor as ourselves," said Pastor Samuel Chu, of California Faith for Equality. "Gay and lesbian people are our neighbors and they should be able to enjoy the dignity, respect and commitment that come with marriage."

Foe of N.Y.'s same-sex marriage probed | lohud.com | The Journal News

Foe of N.Y.'s same-sex marriage probed | lohud.com | The Journal News

Keith Eddings

A national organization headed by an Ossining woman that has pledged to spend more than $1 million to defeat a gay marriage bill in New York is defending itself in California against allegations that it was organized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to defeat similar bills nationwide.

The National Organization for Marriage said last week that it would spend $500,000 to help mount primary challenges against Republican state senators in New York who vote for a gay marriage bill proposed by Gov. David Paterson. It has passed the Assembly but stalled in the Senate, as Democrats and Republicans fight for control of that chamber.

The spending would come atop $600,000 the group says it has spent on media campaigns and telephone calls to sway senators in 25 Senate districts, including those represented by Sens. Vincent Leibell, R-Patterson, and Thomas Morahan, R-New City.

NOM says it has spent $6 million to block gay marriage in several states since it was organized in 2007, including $1.8 million to place an amendment on the ballot in California that repealed gay marriage there last year.

The campaign to repeal same-sex marriage in California was fueled in large part by the Mormon church. Critics in that state say the church began the effort by recruiting Maggie Gallagher of Ossining - who has forged a career writing about marriage for conservative think tanks - to establish NOM.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating complaints that NOM operates as a front for the Mormon church and that the church failed to report millions of dollars in nonmonetary contributions to the campaign.

The complaint was lodged by Los Angeles gay rights activist Fred Karger, who formed Californians Against Hate to protect gay marriage in the state.

"The church is the marionette, the puppeteer, of Maggie and Brian," Karger said, referring to Gallagher, who is NOM's president, and Brian Brown, its executive director. "The evidence is clear that the Mormon church is 100 percent behind the National Organization for Marriage and its funding."

Gallagher said there is no connection between NOM and the church except that a Mormon serves on NOM's board. She said she started NOM and recruited Brown to run it because conservative ministries, think tanks and charities that oppose gay marriage are not positioned to fight it on the ballot and in state capitols.

"I would not shy away from telling you if a group of Catholics and a group of Mormons founded NOM," Gallagher said. "It's not true. I founded NOM. I'd be happy to work with Mormons, but NOM was not started at the suggestion of Salt Lake. But I'd be OK with it if it was true."

Once before, Gallagher faced allegations of a cover-up about who funds her work for conservative causes. In 2005, she acknowledged receiving at least $21,500 from the Department of Health and Human Services to write brochures and other material promoting the Bush administration's marriage initiatives.

Gallagher also advocated for the Bush initiatives in a syndicated column she writes for Universal Press, but did not disclose the HHS payments. She said she earned the payments legitimately but conceded that she should have disclosed them in her column.

Karger has no smoking-gun evidence tying NOM to the Mormon church, but said the relationship would be exposed if the California Fair Political Practices Commission responds to his complaint by issuing subpoenas for church records. He said he believes the relationship exists because the Mormon campaign against gay marriage in California mimicked what he called its undercover campaign to overturn a court ruling allowing gay marriage in Hawaii in the 1990s.

On his Web site, www.californiansagainsthate.com, Karger posts documents revealing how Mormons created a group called Hawaii's Future Today in 1995 and covered up the group's roots in a church many Americans are uneasy about. The documents detail how the church recruited non-Mormons as figureheads for the effort, while installing a Mormon on the board, and dodged financial disclosure requirements about its spending.

"We have organized things so the Church contribution was used in an area of coalition activity that does not have to be reported," church Elder Loren Dunn said in a June 5, 1996, memo to a church committee overseeing the effort. He added that a campaign leader was avoiding reporters who were asking about church spending on the Hawaii marriage bill.

Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the church in Salt Lake City, responded to a question about the authenticity of the memos by e-mailing this statement: "Mr. Karger is entitled to his opinion but not to his own version of the facts." She would not elaborate.

Farah said the church "did not establish the National Organization for Marriage." She did not respond to a question about whether the Mormon church has been active in the campaigns to defeat gay marriage in New England and New York.

In April, as NOM was launching its $600,000 media and phone campaign in New York, Karger launched his own low-budget media campaign in the state and New England in ads on news organizations' Web sites. The ads, called "The Mormons Are Coming!" and set to the tune of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," plays on New England's historic unease with the Mormon church. Several news organizations, including the (Albany) Times Union, rejected it.

"To attack, harass and intimidate any one religious faith and say they don't have a right to participate in the process I think is profoundly anti-American," said Brown, NOM's executive director. "A lot of what Fred is trying to do is to intimidate Mormons - especially - out of supporting marriage, and it's wrong."

"I've never questioned the right of the Mormon religion or any religion to be involved in the political process," Karger said. "All I've said is, if they are going to participate, they need to abide by the election laws. I believe there's a lot more there. I don't believe Brian or Maggie are telling the truth."

Paterson Promises a Vote on Gay Marriage Legislation Before Senate Session Ends - NYTimes.com

A little schizophrenia you think!!

Paterson Promises a Vote on Gay Marriage Legislation Before Senate Session Ends - NYTimes.com

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson said in an interview Sunday night that he would make sure that the State Senate votes on same sex-marriage legislation before it breaks for the summer, hours after he and his administration had refused to commit to forcing a vote on the issue.

The development came as the governor announced plans to call the Senate to a special session on Tuesday, after trying unsuccessfully for two weeks to broker a compromise in a leadership battle that has deadlocked the chamber. But Mr. Paterson dismayed gay rights groups in his comments at a news conference early Sunday afternoon, when he said same-sex marriage would not be on the special session’s agenda.

“It has always been my intention to see same-sex marriage come to the floor,” he said, adding, “I don’t want there to be any confusion.”

Barring a last-minute settlement between the factions, the governor will convene the special session on Tuesday. The chamber was left in its first 31-to-31 tie after Pedro Espada Jr., a Democrat from the Bronx, claimed the title of Senate president when he joined a Republican-led coup earlier this month.

“If the senators do not cooperate with this order, I will convene a special session every day until they do,” the governor said at the news conference. “That includes Saturdays and Sundays. That includes July 4. There will be no excuses.”

The last day of the Legislature’s regular session is Monday. The governor may call lawmakers back for a special session, and he sets their agenda, but they are not compelled to bring any of the legislation to a vote.

Indeed, the Republicans rejected the governor’s latest attempt to mediate the dispute, suggesting that the two feuding Senate factions could have a combative session when all 62 senators are forced to return to work on Tuesday.

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Gay City News > Will Paterson’s Special Session Help or Hurt Marriage Equality?

Gay City News > Will Paterson’s Special Session Help or Hurt Marriage Equality?

Will Paterson’s Special Session Help or Hurt Marriage Equality?
Published: Sunday, June 21, 2009 11:24 PM CDT

In the wake of Governor David Paterson’s call for a June 23 special session of the State Senate to resolve the two-week paralysis that followed defections from the razor-thin Democratic majority, it is not clear whether putting that chamber back to work will allow for a vote on marriage equality — or other key elements of the LGBT community’s agenda, for that matter.

The governor stepped up to quell the chaos in the Senate two days after news surfaced that Senator Thomas K. Duane, the out gay Chelsea Democrat leading the fight for marriage equality, sent a letter to his Democratic colleagues complaining that the issue had fallen off the radar of his conference’s leadership ever since the June 8 Republican coup. Two of Duane’s allies on Sunday said it was now up to the governor to insist that the issue be restored to the front burner, while Brooklyn Senator John Sampson, newly installed as the Democratic conference leader, voiced uncertainly as to whether marriage equality would in fact make it to the floor for a vote.

In an unusual Father’s Day appearance in the Capitol’s Red Room in Albany, the governor gave the Senate one day — June 22 — to settle its feud over which faction, the 31 Democrats or the 31 who say they support Republican leadership, will preside over the chamber’s agenda before he will call them into what he repeatedly termed “extraordinary session,” beginning June 23. Paterson emphasized that he “has no authority over the Senate when the Senate is in session,” but that he has the power to “compel” senators to go into session if they otherwise refuse. In issuing such an order, the governor establishes the agenda to be taken up, though his power to actually force votes on specific issues is unclear.

What concerns at least some advocates of a marriage equality law is the fact that Paterson said the first matters to be taken up will be “time-sensitive” pieces of legislation that require action before June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Those measures include renewal of county governments’ authority to levy certain taxes, approval of New York City’s plan to raise the local sales tax by one half of a percent, and extension of mayoral control of city public schools instituted during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.

“We can go into extraordinary session on Tuesday and address the emergency pieces of legislation,” Paterson told reporters. “Then we can go on to address other pieces of legislation of great importance and great impact which private citizens and advocates have been discussing for this whole session, which were lost in the last two weeks of stunned disbelief over the fact that the Senate is not in session.”

Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for the governor, put the number of such time-sensitive measures at 42, and confirmed that “they are the first order of business” in any session Paterson would call.

Click to learn more...
During his press conference, Paterson was asked specifically about same-sex marriage, and, explaining that his approach is “first things first,” said that once the matters in need of resolution before June 30 are taken care of, “there are other issues that have been obviously on people’s minds this session which I think would have been addressed in the time period that has been wasted that will go and create an agenda from there. These pieces of legislation are all important.” Asked later about another issue not on the list of 42 bills, the governor made clear he would not talk about specific measures one by one.

At least two Manhattan colleagues of Duane’s don’t think the approach that Paterson announced will lead to a vote on marriage equality.

“I don’t think anyone should assume that the Republicans will show up for a second session, once the extenders are done, to do an agenda set by David Paterson,” said Upper West Side Democrat Eric Schneiderman, a strong advocate for equal marriage rights. “The governor has got to put together a combination of substantive bills and tax extenders. It is inconceivable that the Republicans will come back. The governor really has to take responsibility for a full agenda.”

Liz Krueger, another marriage equality booster, who represents Manhattan’s East Side, concurred with Schneiderman’s analysis.

“It’s about strategy,” she said. “If you do taxes for local governments and mayoral control, if those get done, the Republicans won’t stay for more. If you want leverage, you say, ‘No, you can’t just go home if you get the mayor off your back and the counties can do taxes.’ I think it’s very important to go to the governor, the only one who can fix this situation, and say, ‘Your active list must include measures that are the true progressive goals of the party.’”

Krueger mentioned reproductive freedom and tenant protections along with marriage equality as part of that package.

Noting that 2010 is an election year, when it might be a tougher lift to pass an equal marriage bill, Schneiderman said, “Marriage is a time-sensitive bill. It may not be that easy next year. And I am confident that we have the votes now.”

Schneiderman’s confidence that there are at least 32 votes in the Senate for marriage equality mirrors Duane’s public statements over the past several weeks, predating the Senate turmoil that began on June 8. But Duane scrambled in the days after the GOP coup to maintain his leverage with his fellow Democrats and at least some Republicans whose votes he will need. Initially, he kept a low profile, at times declining to discourage speculation that he might join a new Republican majority, before finally saying that there was “zero chance” of that happening.

Then, just days later, The Daily News' Liz Benjamin reported that Duane had sent a letter to17 of his Democratic colleagues again challenging his conference’s leadership. He wrote that he was “deeply troubled by the fact that since the new leadership structure was announced, neither Senator Smith nor Senator Sampson have promised, either privately and publicly, that same-sex marriage will come to the floor and pass in the State Senate. Senator Smith and Senator Sampson have been quite vocal in their support for many progressive issues, such as strengthening tenant protections and preserving affordable housing, safeguarding reproductive health rights, power for jobs, criminal justice reform, mental health parity, and many other important issues. Yet there has been no mention of marriage equality since the June 8th coup.”

Duane went on to write, “I have come to the conclusion that I cannot support any Leader who does not demand that marriage equality come to the floor and pass in 2009. I urge that you, as a co-sponsor of the marriage equality legislation, will do the same.”

Despite that warning, Sampson, appearing June 21 on WABC’s “Eyewitness News UpClose,” said, of the marriage equality bill, “Is it going to be dealt with? I don’t know at this point… That one may not be dealt with.”

Krueger and Schneiderman appeared surprised when told of Sampson’s comments. Krueger said that she supplied Sampson and Smith, at their request, a list of 25 priority bills that she thinks should be part of any agenda if and when the Senate reconvenes. She sensed “no hostility” from Sampson about the marriage equality issue, she said, even as she acknowledged that he’s been silent about his position on the measure.

Schneiderman said it made sense to press Sampson to in turn urge Paterson to make certain that marriage equality is part of the priority package presented in the first day of any special session.

“This is very frustrating,” he said, “because we have a chance to advance a progressive agenda we care about. In a special session, the governor and only the governor has the chance to set the agenda.”

The Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s LGBT civil rights lobby, made its views known in a written statement issued on June 21.

“Not to include marriage for same-sex couples as a priority for Tuesday’s extraordinary session is an insult to millions of gay and lesbian people and their families,” said Alan Van Capelle, the group’s executive director. “We have a commitment from the Governor as recent as last night that this bill will be a top priority. We have the support for marriage equality from leaders on one side of the aisle and a commitment that marriage equality should be a vote of conscience from the leader on the other side of the aisle. We hold the Governor and the Senate to these commitments. We expect and deserve a vote on marriage equality this week.”

In April, when Paterson introduced the marriage equality bill with considerable fanfare, some advocates worried that his demand right out of the box that the measure get a vote this year was premature in terms of building support among individual senators. Now, as the Legislature’s session winds down, the ball is apparently hurtling back into the governor’s court.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gay marriage now key issue for Corzine | Philadelphia Inquirer | 06/21/2009

Gay marriage now key issue for Corzine | Philadelphia Inquirer | 06/21/2009

By Jonathan Tamari

Inquirer Trenton Bureau
Gov. Corzine has made "marriage equality" for gays and lesbians a prominent piece of his reelection campaign, taking another step in his conversion on the issue and encouraging gay-rights advocates who hope to see same-sex marriage approved in New Jersey this year.

In public speeches and private appearances, Corzine, who as recently as 2006 said he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman, has touted his support of same-sex marriage.

In raising the issue, he has tried to draw a bright-line divide with his Republican opponent, Christopher J. Christie, who has said he would veto a bill allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed.

"We believe that government should allow people the freedom to marry whomever they love," Corzine said in his general-election kickoff speech June 2

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Paterson Calls New York Senate to Special Session - NYTimes.com

Paterson Calls New York Senate to Special Session - NYTimes.com

Paterson Calls New York Senate to Special Session

ALBANY — After two weeks of having no direct impact on the State Senate stalemate, Gov. David A. Paterson said on Sunday he would call the Senate to a special session this week, but would not include same-sex marriage among the bills to be considered, a move that stunned some of his key constituencies.

The governor’s apparent retreat on an issue he has made a central priority was surprising, especially because the leader of a Republican-dominated voting bloc in the Senate has been eager to bring the issue up for a vote.

Mr. Paterson’s move does not doom same-sex marriage, but makes it much less likely to pass in the short-term. An aide to the governor said Mr. Paterson would still like to see the same-sex marriage bill come to a vote in the coming weeks, but Democratic leaders have resisted holding a vote unless it was assured of victory.

Barring a last-minute settlement between the feuding factions, the governor will convene the special session on Tuesday. The chamber was left in its first 31-to-31 tie after Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat, claimed the title of Senate president when he joined a Republican-led coup earlier this month.

“If the Senators do not cooperate with this order, I will convene a special session every day until they do,” the governor said at a press conference on Sunday. “That includes Saturdays and Sundays. That includes July 4. There will be no excuses.”

Republicans, however, rejected the governor’s latest attempt to mediate the dispute, leaving open the possibility that the two feuding Senate factions could have a combative session when all 62 senators are forced to return to work on Tuesday.

The governor has proposed to have Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman temporarily preside over the Senate; Mr. Espada and Republicans say they already claimed leadership of the chamber in a disputed vote held two weeks ago.

“It makes no sense at all,” said John McArdle, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans. “The constitution is clear that there has to be a temporary president, and we have one right now.”

The governor said Sunday that he wanted to focus on routine but urgent legislation that local governments depend upon, like bills to extend local sales taxes or allow bond issuance. His staff said he would also include legislation to modify mayoral control over New York City’s schools in the list of legislation he submits to the Senate.

“What I wanted to address is those pieces of legislation that are time sensitive in terms of resources that are local government needs,” the governor said. “What’s most important about Tuesday is that we get the Senate working again.”

Mr. Paterson said he would consider calling a second special session to address more substantive legislation, but he did not say whether he would include same-sex marriage on that list and his administration would not commit to including it in a second special session, if one is even held.

The governor’s decision to exclude same-sex marriage from the agenda led to confusion on Sunday among gay rights activists, who were unsure how to reconcile the governor’s words with the private assurances they had received from Mr. Paterson’s staff that the bill would be included.

“Wow. I’m stunned,” said Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat who is one of the cosponsors of the Senate bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. “This is not acceptable. If the governor thinks that we can all end this legislative session without addressing issues like marriage equality, I think he’s badly mistaken.”

Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, who sponsored the legislation in the Assembly, said, “I have received assurances from high up in the governor’s office that if he’s creating a list, marriage is on it.”

“I remain confident that the bill is coming to the floor this week,” he added.

But Mr. O’Donnell added, “there are a lot of moving parts here.”

Lobbyists and lawmakers who have been advocating for same-sex marriage and working with the governor to muster enough votes to get the bill passed were under the impression as recently as late last week that the bill would be included on the agenda of the governor’s special session. These people said they had assurances from the highest levels of the Paterson administration that the governor would direct the Senate to act on the bill.

The Empire State Pride Agenda, the gay rights group, called the exclusion of the bill from the agenda an insult.

“Not to include marriage for same-sex couples as a priority for Tuesday’s extraordinary session is an insult to millions of gay and lesbian people and their families,” the pride agenda’s executive director, Alan Van Capelle, said in a written statement that accused the governor of reneging on his pledge to make the legislation a top priority. “We hold the Governor and the Senate to these commitments. We expect and deserve a vote on marriage equality this week.”

The governor’s move was unexpected given his repeated and forceful statements in recent weeks that the bill should come to the Senate floor for a vote. As he implored senators to settle their differences and come back to work, he listed same-sex marriage as among the critical issues that needed to be resolved before the end of the legislative session.

Same-sex marriage has been one of the governor’s signature social issues. When he introduced the bill in April, he initially drew sharp criticism from some gay rights advocates for saying that the bill should be voted on this session, regardless of whether it was certain to pass. Though many same-sex marriage supporters — especially Senate Democrats — were opposed to allowing the bill come to a vote unless its passage was assured, they had come to believe in the last few weeks that the governor’s call for an up-or-down vote was a good move.

It remains to be seen whether anything will get done this week.

The last day of the Legislature’s regular session is Monday. The governor has the authority to call lawmakers back for a special session, and he sets their agenda, but they are not compelled to bring any of the legislation to the floor for a vote. He has been increasingly exasperated as his agenda has been derailed and he has been unable to persuade lawmakers to come to an accord.

His move will succeed, at least, in bringing Democrats back to the Senate chamber. For the last two weeks, the Democratic caucus has boycotted the proceedings amid a leadership dispute with the Republicans, who claim they now control the chamber’s leadership posts.

But calling a special session does not assure that the sides will be agree on who presides over the chamber.

“We don’t need special sessions,” Mr. Espada said in a statement Sunday, adding, “What we do need is all 62 Senators to show up for work.”

Obama Administration Set To Hold Powwow With Big Gay Groups | The Plum Line

Obama Administration Set To Hold Powwow With Big Gay Groups | The Plum Line

The Obama Justice Department has reached out to major gay rights organizations and scheduled a private meeting for next week with the groups, in an apparent effort to smooth over tensions in the wake of the controversy over the administration’s defense in court of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Tracy Russo, a spokesperson for Justice, confirmed the meeting to me, after I posted below that top gay rights lawyers were miffed that administration lawyers had rebuffed their requests to meet and discuss ongoing litigation involving DOMA.

At the meeting — which hasn’t been announced and is expected to include leading gay rights groups like GLAD and Lambda Legal — both sides are expected to hash out how to proceed with pending DOMA cases.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the meeting will achieve in a long term sense what gay rights lawyers told me they were and are looking for — an ongoing, less-confrontational interaction with the administration in the context of specific cases. It’s also an open question whether the meeting will resolve broader tensions in what has been an unexpectedly rocky relationship.

Nonetheless, this is likely to be greeted as a step forward by gay activists who have been raising questions about the administration’s commitment to their cause.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

NY Bar Association votes to support gay marriage - WTEN: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports -

NY Bar Association votes to support gay marriage - WTEN: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports -

Associated Press - June 20, 2009 2:15 PM ET

NEW YORK (AP) - The New York State Bar Association now backs gay marriage.

Delegates for the association adopted a resolution Saturday asking state legislators to give full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Association says New York's Domestic Relations law should also be changed to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Bar Association president Michael Getnick says the reform is needed to ensure equal legal rights for gays and lesbians.

The Bar's previous position on gay marriage was that the state could take other actions to guarantee those rights, like recognizing domestic partnerships or civil unions.

Friday, June 19, 2009

White House Looks to Include Same-Sex Unions in Census Count - WSJ.com

White House Looks to Include Same-Sex Unions in Census Count - WSJ.com


WASHINGTON -- The White House said Thursday it was seeking ways to include same-sex marriages, unions and partnerships in 2010 Census data, the second time in a week the administration has signaled a policy change of interest to the gay community.

The administration has directed the Census Bureau to determine changes needed in tabulation software to allow for same-sex marriage data to be released early in 2011 with other detailed demographic information from the decennial count. The bureau historically hasn't released same-sex marriage data.

The gay community strongly supported President Barack Obama during the 2008 election. But some gay activists say they have been frustrated by what they see as his slow approach to rolling back discriminatory policies.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said "the administration continues to make progress on the president's longstanding commitment to promoting equality for [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] Americans."

Mr. Obama on Wednesday issued a directive providing federal employees protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and an expansion of some benefits to same-sex partners.

The Census Bureau has long collected data on same-sex marriages when people chose to report it. White House officials said the previous administration interpreted the federal Defense of Marriage Act as prohibiting the release of the data. The Obama administration has abandoned that interpretation.

The law, signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1996, says that the federal government can recognize a marriage only between a man and a woman. Mr. Obama has advocated repealing DOMA, but his administration earlier this month filed a federal-court brief defending it. The administration called it a routine defense of a federal statute.

An accurate statistical snapshot of legally married same-sex couples may be elusive. Before the White House's plan emerged, Howard Hogan, associate director for demographic programs at the Census Bureau, said data from its 2007 American Community Survey showed more than 340,000 same-sex couples as being in marriages. But according to data from Massachusetts, the only state that permitted gay marriages in 2007, about 11,000 marriage licenses were issued for same-sex couples.

The Obama administration was under pressure to change the Census policy. Rep. Mike Quigley (D., Ill.) sent a letter Tuesday to Mr. Obama, urging him to order the bureau to release same-sex marriage data as part of its standard tabulation of the 2010 Census.

Democratic Reps. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Steve Israel of New York and 51 other lawmakers wrote to White House Budget Director Peter Orszag last month, asking him to work with the bureau's parent agency, the Commerce Department, to reconsider the policy. Mr. Israel said the broad support for his letter shows that Congress has a real "appetite" for movement on this issue.

The original plan for handling these marriages in the 2010 Census was controversial among some statisticians and gay activists. Following procedures employed in 2000, the bureau had planned to use a computer program that recategorized spouses in same-sex marriages as unmarried partners. For the 1990 count, the bureau simply altered the gender designation of one partner.

Some members of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, composed of private statisticians and members of nonprofit groups, said they think that the bureau has handled same-sex marriages irresponsibly. Ed Spar, a member of the committee and the executive director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, said altering data like the bureau has done with same-sex marriages "does not make any sense."

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said it is important to release this data for policy and social analysis. Gary Gates, an expert in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender demographic data at the University of California at Los Angeles, called the administration's move "a very positive step," adding that he would like to see more details.

Write to Jake Sherman at Jacob.Sherman@wsj.com

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gay and Lesbian Leaders Say Federal Same-Sex Benefits Don’t Go Far Enough - NYTimes.com

Gay and Lesbian Leaders Say Federal Same-Sex Benefits Don’t Go Far Enough - NYTimes.com


WASHINGTON — The package of domestic partnership benefits that President Obama established for federal workers on Wednesday drew the loudest protests from some of those it was intended to help, gay men and lesbians who criticized the move as too timid.

The administrative memorandum extending some partnership rights to federal workers in same-sex relationships, which Mr. Obama signed late Wednesday, allows administration personnel to take leave to care for sick partners and requires the government to recognize their partners as household members when determining overseas housing allocations for State Department employees, among other things.

But several of the nation’s most prominent gay and lesbian political leaders quickly attacked the president for failing to extend full health care benefits to the same-sex partners of federal workers, questioning the administration’s explanation that it is precluded from doing so by the Defense of Marriage Act, which Mr. Obama had vowed to repeal during his presidential campaign.

Their outcry put the administration on the defensive for an action it had hoped would help address increasing complaints from gay activists who supported Mr. Obama’s election but now say he is ignoring the issues he promised to address, like a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay men and lesbians in the military. And it has tested the balance the administration has tried to strike between avoiding hot-button cultural issues that could distract it from pushing its ambitious economic agenda and avoiding angering key liberal constituencies that expect Mr. Obama to make good on campaign promises.

Fueling the protest, the president’s move came just days after the administration filed a legal brief defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act — which defines marriage as between a man and a woman only — in a case challenging the law.

“I think it’s insulting,” David Mixner, a prominent gay rights advocate, said of the new benefits plan. “Without minimizing how it will improve lives to some extent, what they said to us today is we will give you family leave, some things like that, but the most important thing, health care, we’re not giving you.”

Mr. Mixner announced earlier this week that he was boycotting a coming fund-raiser being hosted by the Democratic Party’s gay and lesbian committee and featuring Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. because of what he considers the administration’s inaction on gay issues, and he said the president’s memorandum had not changed his mind.

Speaking from the Oval Office on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said the memorandum — which represents his interpretation of existing law — represented just a start. “This is only one step,” Mr. Obama said. “Unfortunately, my administration is not authorized by existing federal law to provide same-sex couples with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.”

Mr. Obama said he would indeed work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it “discriminatory.” He also announced his support for legislation that would extend full health care benefits to federal workers, a measure whose sponsors include Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Representative Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, both of whom stood behind the president Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier, John Berry, the administration’s director of personnel management, noted that the memorandum would extend some health-related benefits to same-sex couples. For instance, Mr. Berry said, United States medical facilities overseas would now be open to the partners of State Department employees.

But during an occasionally contentious conference call with reporters, Mr. Berry acknowledged that some federal supervisors were already conferring some of the benefits the administration was presenting as new. He did so after a blogger on the call, John Aravosis, told him about a note on his AmericaBlog Web site from a Defense Department employee, Lisa Polyak, who said the Army had allowed her to take sick leave to care for a same-sex partner, and nonbiological child, under existing provisions.

Mr. Berry said, however, that Mr. Obama’s memorandum would ensure that such decisions would not vary among supervisors.

“Not every supervisor is similarly situated,” he said. “What the president is doing today is he is making this no longer optional; he is making this mandatory.”

He did not address accusations from some gay and lesbian activists that the Defense of Marriage Act, which does not directly address domestic partnership rights, did not in fact preclude the administration from extending full health benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees.

But late Wednesday, Elaine Kaplan, general counsel for the office of personnel management, said federal statutes dictated that many vital health care benefits be conferred only to “spouses” and children of federal employees, effectively making it a benefit of marriage as defined by the marriage act. Ms. Kaplan said the new legislation the president is supporting would remedy that prohibition. In the meantime, she said, his memorandum would cover those benefits that do not fall under the more restrictive statutory language.

The debate resulted in a muddled message that added to the White House’s struggles on gay issues this week.

When news leaked out Tuesday night that the president would extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, some gay and lesbian leaders mistakenly took that to include health insurance and said they were let down to learn otherwise.

Mr. Obama’s comments late Wednesday served to ameliorate some of the initial confusion and dismay. For instance, Brad Levenson, a federal public defender in California who is waging a well-publicized fight to secure health benefits for his husband, expressed anger earlier in the day at the more limited scope of the memorandum, saying it fell short of what he had been led to believe the previous evening. Mr. Levenson called back later to say he took Mr. Obama at his word that he would keep trying to do more.

But gay and lesbian activists said suspicion remained that the president was trying to put their issues on the back burner to avoid the sort of furor that former President Bill Clinton faced when he announced early in his term that military recruiters would no longer ask applicants if they were homosexual.

“They decided early on that these gay issues were going to be trouble, and they decided to avoid them,” said Richard Socarides, an adviser to the Clinton administration on gay issues. “I think now they’re paying a much steeper price than they ever thought they’d have to.”

Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting.

Lawsuit Aimed At Ending Marriage Equality Recognition in DC - Lez Get Real

The ADF at it again.

Lawsuit Aimed At Ending Marriage Equality Recognition in DC - Lez Get Real
Opponents of a District of Columbia Council resolution that would recognize same-sex marriage in the District have filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court today to overturn a ruling by D.C. election officials that said voters could not decide whether the District can recognize gay marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

The D.C. Council approved a bill last month that would make same-sex couples married in other states and countries legally married in the city as well. Unless a court intervenes, the legislation will become law in early July. The council also is expected to take up a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the city.

The two-member board said earlier the week that allowing a referendum that lets the people decide is akin to authorizing discrimination and put forward only Congress and the courts should have input on the issue.

The opponents are led by are Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, and the Arizona based anti gay Alliance Defense Fund.

The Alliance Defense Fund was founded by a group of high-profile Religious Right leaders such Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ; Larry Burkett, founder of Christian Financial Concepts; Rev. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Rev. D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries; Marlin Maddoux, President of International Christian Media and Don Wildmon, founder of American Family Association, is heavily financed by the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, whose vice president is gun for hire mercenary company Blackwater International founder Erik Prince.

NOM Threatens GOP State Senators In New York - Topix

NOM Threatens GOP State Senators In New York - Topix

Dear Friend of Marriage,

I wanted you to be one of the first to know of exciting new developments on the ground in New York.

On the heels of the chaos in Albany which has thrown the future of marriage into doubt, NOM yesterday announced the formation of a state political action committee, NOM PAC New York, allowing NOM to engage in New York state legislative races ahead of the 2010 elections.

You and I both know that gay marriage is not high on the list of voters' priorities, but again and again we've seen politicians respond to political money thrown around by Tim Gill and his friends and ignore the wishes of their own constituents.

NOM PAC New York will be a vehicle for swelling the voices of the thousands of New Yorkers who have already called up their legislators and told them: Don't mess with marriage in New York.

New York promises to be a key marriage battleground in the 2010 elections,
and we need your help! Together, we'll begin to counter the gay marriage activists
who have been pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into New York for the past decade.

Will you help ensure a successful launch for NOM PAC New York? Use this hyperlink to make a secure online donation today!

The first $500,000 raised by NOM PAC New York will be used to fund a primary challenger to any GOP state senator in New York who votes for gay marriage. Once that is accomplished, we will look to aid Democratic candidates who want to buck the establishment on the marriage issue, and to help in general election contests.

In just the past month, as the news broke that the state senate might soon be voting for gay marriage, NOM entered the state battle with a $600,000 media and voter outreach campaign working in 25 state senate districts.

We are now in direct contact with thousands of New Yorkers in every senate district who care about the marriage issue. They have a warning for Albany: Vote our values or we'll find someone who else who will.

NOM PAC New York is the vehicle to help bring much-needed change to the New York legislature.

Will you stand with us today as we launch this exciting new chapter in New York politics?
Your gift of $35, $50, or even $500, will allow us to protect legislators targeted by gay
marriage activists and challenge those politicians who refuse to listen to their constituents.

Thanks for all you do. Together, we can help turn the page on a new chapter in New York politics.


Brian S. Brown

- N.Y. gay marriage bill may get new life

Washington Times - N.Y. gay marriage bill may get new life

A New York bill legalizing same-sex marriage appeared dead in the water last week after Republicans overthrew the Democrat-controlled Senate, but reports of the legislation's demise may be greatly exaggerated.

Opponents of the gay marriage bill worry that the ensuing turmoil could actually bolster the legislation's chances of passage this year as Republicans attempt to stake out a clear majority by luring Democrats into their fold.

"My fear is they [Republicans] could give the bill up in order to get Democrats to join the majority," said New York state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long. "Some people are trying to use it as a bargaining chip."

State Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara refused Tuesday to get involved in the state Senate's power struggle, saying that it would be an "intrusion" to decide which party is in charge and that legislators should work out their leadership issues themselves.

Lawmakers had turned to the state Supreme Court after two Democratic senators joined Republicans in a June 8 overthrow of the Democratic leadership. The coalition ousted Senate President Malcolm Smith and elected one of the defectors, Democratic Sen. Pedro Espada, as his replacement.

On Monday, however, the other defector, state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, switched his allegiance back to the Democrats. That leaves the Senate in a 31-31 deadlock.

Mr. Espada said Tuesday that the judge's order means that the Republican-installed leadership remains in place, and called on senators to report to work. Democrats, who have refused to recognize the Republican-led coalition's leaders, are expected to appeal the judge's decision.

Democratic Gov. David A. Paterson said Tuesday he would be willing to step in temporarily and run the session, as he did when he was lieutenant governor, but Republicans declined his offer. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn Monday, although there was speculation that lawmakers would extend the Senate session.

None of this would appear to bode well for the gay marriage bill. The legislation's final hurdle remains the Senate vote. The bill was approved earlier by the Assembly, and Mr. Paterson, an enthusiastic supporter of same-sex marriage, has said he will sign it.

But the coup and ensuing turmoil actually could work to the bill's benefit. Mr. Espada has said he backs the gay marriage bill and would support bringing it to the floor for a vote, unlike Mr. Smith, who had refused to allow the bill to come before the full Senate unless it had the votes to pass.

The bill's leading opponent, Democratic state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., said Tuesday that the current legislative turbulence has upset the agreement that was keeping the bill from reaching the floor.

"I've been holding that bill from coming to the floor, and now I don't know what's going to happen," Mr. Diaz said. "And now we have a new Democratic leader. Right now, all bets are off."

Before the coup, Mr. Diaz said he had counted 29 senators against the same-sex marriage bill and 20 in favor, with the rest either undecided or declining to state their position. As lawmakers jockey for position under the new leadership, however, Republicans seeking to increase their numbers to avoid a power-sharing arrangement with Democrats could end up agreeing to terms that would favor the same-sex marriage bill's passage.

"If they get two or three more Democrats to join the 31-member caucus, there's been discussion to give up same-sex marriage bill if it gets them some Democrats," Mr. Long said.

A spokesman for Democratic state Sen. Thomas Duane, the gay marriage bill's sponsor, said the senator was waiting for the dust to settle before reacting.

"At this point we're declining to comment on this topic because things are literally changing three times a day," said Duane spokesman Eric Sumberg. "The reality is this is not getting solved today."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Daily Kos: Gay America, just wait another seven years

Daily Kos: Gay America, just wait another seven years

Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 02:16:04 PM PDT

John Berry, director of Office of Personnel Management, and highest ranking openly gay administration official:

On Sunday, John Berry, who is director of Office of Personnel Management and the highest-ranking gay official under Mr. Obama, told The Advocate that the administration plans to take action on both DOMA and "don’t ask," as well as an employment nondiscrimination bill, "before the sun sets on this administration."

So apparently the plan is:

1. Ignore promises to repeal "don't ask, don't tell".

2. Write unnecessary and bigoted legal briefs comparing gays to pedophiles and incest.

3. Wait seven years.

4. Hope Obama does the right thing "before the sun sets on his administration".

Meanwhile, things look pretty bad for that Democratic National Committee gay fundraiser planned for next week.

A lot of us have been saying that if the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay civil rights group in Washington, were to pull its attendance from next week's DNC $1,000 a person gay fundraiser, then the fundraiser would effectively be dead. Well, HRC just pulled out.

A reliable source just sent me the text of a Facebook conversation he had with HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. Rouse reported that he notified the DNC today that he would not be attending the fundraiser. Rouse was among a list of already-confirmed guests that the DNC was using to pump up interest in the fundraiser.

Rouse's departure ups to four the number of high profile gay politicos who have now dropped out of the event following the Justice Department's filing of a homophobic brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act last week. The other three people to pull out of the fundraiser are famous "friend of Bill Clinton" David Mixner, Alan Van Capelle (Executive Director of New York's largest gay group, the Empire State Pride Agenda), and top gay blogger Andy Towle.

Maybe they can reschedule this fundraiser for 2015, before the sun sets on the Obama Administration and he's maybe started delivering on what he promised on gay rights.

The $9.5 Billion Gay Marriage Windfall - Forbes.com

The $9.5 Billion Gay Marriage Windfall - Forbes.com: "The $9.5 Billion Gay Marriage Windfall
Miriam Marcus, 06.16.09, 06:00 AM EDT
If same-sex marriage were legalized nationwide, the lackluster wedding industry would perk up fast.

Howls of protest erupted last month when California's Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, stripping gay and lesbian couples of their right to marry. Adding to the din: all the disappointed planners, seamstresses, jewelers, travel agents and caterers who comprise the massive yet plodding American wedding industry.

There are 781,267 same-sex couples living together in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau's 2005-07 American Community Survey. The Williams Institute, a research arm of UCLA's law school, predicts that if gay marriage were legalized nationwide--only Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Iowa and (as of earlier this month) New Hampshire allow it now--about half of those couples would tie the knot within three years.
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Dr. Maddow Takes On “Fierce Advocate”’s DOJ DOMA Brief - Lez Get Real

Dr. Maddow Takes On “Fierce Advocate”’s DOJ DOMA Brief - Lez Get Real

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gay marriage up for debate in Pa.

even PA knows its inevitable

The Sentinel Online : News : Local : Gay marriage up for debate in Pa.

By Jason Scott, Sentinel Reporter, June 13, 2009

Last updated: Monday, June 15, 2009 8:26 AM EDT

The same-sex marriage debate has come to Pennsylvania.

State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, last week introduced Senate Bill 935 that would offer “full and equal marriage rights” to same-sex couples in the state and legally recognize those marriages performed in other states.

With the recent passing of legislation in New Hampshire and Maine, and the rapidly expanding list of statesjavascript:void(0) considering the approval of gay marriage, the Montgomery County lawmaker said it’s time for Pennsylvania to act.

“In the short term, it’s going to be a tough fight, but in the long term, it’s inevitable,” Leach said Friday, hoping to “speed up” the day when there’s full marriage equality in Pennsylvania. “It’s important that Pennsylvania be part of the discussion.”

While his bill would not require religious institutions to perform any marriage ceremonies or recognize any marriages that they do not wish to sanction, Leach said his legislation would dissolve all of the barriers to building families that gay and lesbian couples currently face, both at the state and federal level, such as the right of survivorship, power to make medical decisions, even the right to hospital visitation.

The bill would repeal the ban on same-sex marriage that the state Legislature approved 13 years ago, which establishes marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and amend the definition of marriage in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to read as “a civil contract between two people who enter into matrimony.”

Currently, 30 states have passed amendments banning gay marriage.

Budget first

While the public response so far has been overwhelmingly positive on the side of equality, Leach says, he acknowledges that legislative backing of his bill has been less pronounced because of the controversy that comes with the discussion.

“People tend to run away from controversy,” he said, citing only one co-sponsor, Sen. Larry Farnese, D-1, who represents parts of Philadelphia.

Also, with lawmakers currently working on the state budget, Leach said he expects it will take some time to get consideration in the Senate.

“Introducing it now doesn’t mean it will be considered now,” he said, adding that the budget has “sucked the oxygen out of the room” on anything else legislators would like to work on this term.

Sen. Pat Vance, R-31, agreed that the state’s fiscal situation — a projected $3.2 billion deficit — and debate over next year’s budget is overshadowing everything else.

However, even beyond the budget adoption, she doesn’t feel the positive sentiment is there in the Senate for Leach’s bill.

“At this point, it’s a non-issue,” she said. “I would be very surprised if it comes up for a vote.”

Republican majority

Leach is realistic that his bill will face tough opposition in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 30-20 majority, but he said he is trying to look further down the road.

“At the end of the day, when we look back 20 years from now, we’ll wonder why this was ever controversial,” he said. “The country is moving forward and we’re not going back. What bad thing will happen if equality is granted?”

The Senate also expects an opposing bill this session that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

Sen. John Eichelberger, R-30, announced last month that he would introduce such legislation, which he said is necessary to strength the 1996 law. He has said writing the ban into the constitution would prevent a judge from overturning the law.

Similar measures in the last two sessions of the legislature have failed.

Amending the constitution requires approval from both the House and Senate in two consecutive two-year sessions before the measure goes to voters for final approval in a statewide referendum.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

unexpected opening for the GOP

Daily Kos: State of the Nation

Sometimes, when circumstances look bleakest, unusual opportunities present themselves that can be real game changers. These next 10 days present just such an opportunity for the Republican party. By embracing marriage equality now, in the debate taking place in the New York State Senate, the GOP can seize a unique opportunity to break out of its box as the permanent minority party for angry, older, white, Southern voters.

* BkB's diary :: ::

It is taken for granted that the GOP will always oppose marriage equality, driven by the deeply homophobic attitudes of the evangelical base of the party. This is not to say that all Republicans are homophobic. The more libertarian “small government” wing of the party (what I call traditional or “classical” Republicans) is beginning to shift in its views in line with the rest of America. One of the most striking examples of this transformation is Bob Barr, the former Republican Congressman from Georgia. Barr authored the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), responding to the perceived threat, in the mid-1990’s, of same-sex marriage being forced upon unwilling states. More recently, he was the Libertarian party candidate for President in 2008 and has now called for DOMA’s repeal on the grounds that it is an unwarranted intrusion in state prerogatives, to enact marriage laws as they see fit, and represents a federalized lowest common denominator. (Yeah, I was as shocked as anyone when I read about this!)

It is about "Family Values":

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