May 2012 Archives

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act -- the federal definition of "marriage" and "spouse" -- is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled today. The decision by a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States, is the first instance ... [Read]

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the ACLU each filed a lawsuit today seeking equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Illinois, as Metro Weekly first reported last night. The lawsuits, which have been brought in the names of 25 couples altogether, both were filed in state court against Cook County Clerk David Orr and are based on alleged violations ... [Read]

[UPDATE: Read Metro Weekly's full report from Wednesday, May 30: "Lambda, ACLU Lawsuits Claim Same-Sex Couples' Marriage Inequality Violates Illinois Constitution."] Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the ACLU plan to announce two separate lawsuits on Wednesday seeking equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Illinois. The state passed a civil union law in 2011, but both Gov. Pat ... [Read]

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition seeking to uphold the Free State's recently passed marriage equality law, issued a statement on May 29 outside the Maryland Secretary of State's office in Annapolis, in response to a 3 p.m. news conference by opponents of the law celebrating the submission of signatures on petitions calling for a referendum to repeal it. "Given ... [Read]

On Thursday evening, a federal judge in California held that the Defense of Marriage Act and a provision of tax law unconstitutionally limit same-sex couples and domestic partners from participating in the long-term care plan offered by the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS. The May 24 decision in the class-action lawsuit came from U.S. District Court Judge Claudia ... [Read]

The State Department this morning released its 2011 Annual Report on Human Rights, the 36th such annual report. Marking the release, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton mentioned LGBT people, saying, "Where LGBT people are mistreated and discriminated against, we're working to bring them into participation in their societies." Michael Posner, assistant secretary with State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights ... [Read]

A strong majority of Marylanders would vote to uphold Maryland's recently passed marriage equality law if it is taken to a referendum in November, a new poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows. The poll of 852 likely voters, taken between May 14 and May 21, shows 57 percent of Marylanders would vote to uphold the law, while 37 percent ... [Read]

Retired Gen. Colin Powell -- the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff whose voice in 1993 in support of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was used by those fighting to uphold the law in Congress and the courts up until its repeal in 2010 -- is as strong a sign as any of the changing views of the country ... [Read]

Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese was on double duty today, serving as the main speaker on the launch of the Obama for America campaign's LGBT outreach today. Earlier this year, Solmonese had been announced as one of the co-chairs for the campaign for President Obama's re-election, which HRC endorsed in 2011. Answering questions in his campaign role, more than ... [Read]

[Photo: President Obama at the White House LGBT Pride Month Reception in June 2011. (Photo by Ward Morrison.)] This year's White House LGBT Pride Month Reception, an annual happening at the Obama White House, is slated for June 15 this year, the White House confirms this evening. Invitations were received today by several individuals who have been invited to attend ... [Read]

The Department of Justice has accepted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's April 20 ruling that claims of gender identity discrimination are a type of sex discrimination that is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- a ruling that could set in motion a series of changes in the way transgender people are treated by the ... [Read]

Following the May 19 endorsement of a resolution by its board of directors supporting marriage equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)'s president, Benjamin Todd Jealous, called the decision "one of the key civil rights issues of our time." Jealous told reporters today in Baltimore that he hoped that the NAACP's resolution, coupled with the organization's ... [Read]

Today, the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People endorsed the rights of same-sex couples to marry, stating in a resolution that the national civil-rights organization "support[s] marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution." Although NAACP leaders like former board chair and ... [Read]

Maryland's highest court today held that a lesbian couple who had been married in California can get divorced in Maryland, echoing and making law a 2010 Attorney General's opinion that same-sex couples legally married outside of Maryland would have their marriage recognized in Maryland. Today's opinion from the Maryland Court of Appeals was unanimous and applies regardless of the outcome ... [Read]

Today, the Obama administration announced that it has finalized regulations implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act. According to an executive summary provided to members of the media and a conference call held with reporters, the regulations include provisions relating to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and gender nonconforming inmates" -- a development a leading LGBT advocate calls one of the ... [Read]

The House -- over White House opposition -- today passed its version of the Violence Against Women Act on a 222-205 vote. Among the provisions excluded from the House bill that are a part of the Senate bill passed this past month are several affecting minority populations, including LGBT people. In a statement, Vice President Joseph Biden said, "The House has passed ... [Read]

In an ongoing fight with Republicans over the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the White House laid out a veto threat this afternoon, stating that the House version of the legislation -- which lacks LGBT-inclusive measures contained in the Senate version -- was unacceptable. According to the Statement of Administration Policy: The Administration urges the House to find ... [Read]

Today, Evan Wolfson received the Barnard Medal of Distinction at Barnard College's commencement ceremony. The founder and president of Freedom to Marry, who began his work toward marriage equality while still a student at Harvard Law School, was honored alongside another Harvard Law School graduate, President Obama -- who just this past week said that he believes same-sex couples should be ... [Read]

Tonight, for the first time in a public address, President Obama referred to same-sex couples seeking equal marriage rights to opposite-sex couples as "marriage equality." From the transcript of tonight's New York fundraiser hosted by Ricky Martin at the Rubin Museum of Art:      And at root, so much of this has to do with a belief that not ... [Read]

[Photo: President Barack Obama at the graduation ceremony for Barnard College. (Photo from Barnard College/Asiya Khaki.)] President Obama today gave the commencement address for Barnard College moments after the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson, was awarded the Barnard Medal of Distinction by the women's college. In Obama's address, given less than a week after he said that ... [Read]

On their way to New York City, where President Obama is about to address the graduates of Barnard College, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked by the press corps about the Newsweek cover image of Obama with a rainbow halo: Q    Is the President aware -- see the Newsweek magazine cover this week, and if so, does he ... [Read]

Arizona's Paul Babeu -- the Pinal County sheriff who came out amid allegations that he had threatened an ex-boyfriend with deportation -- is dropping his bid for the Republican nomination for an Arizona congressional seat and will be running instead for his current position as sheriff. From a statement posted on his website today: When I announced my candidacy for Congress, ... [Read]

President Obama's announcement that he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry has opened the doors to several other Democrats and has solidified the party's position -- at least among its leadership -- on the matter. At this point, all of the elected leaders of the national Democratic Party support marriage equality. On the Senate side, both Majority Leader ... [Read]

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, headed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will be holding hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on June 12, a committee spokesperson tells Metro Weekly. "Every American deserves an equal opportunity to earn a good living, judged by their talent, ability and qualifications free from discrimination. Workplace discrimination based on an employee's sexual ... [Read]

On Thursday, May 10, Metro Weekly is publishing my cover story, "How It Ends," a special report that looks at what LGBT equality means, where "the movement" is going ... and how it ends. Especially after today's historic news made by President Obama, it feels particularly important to take this step back and look broadly at the efforts being made ... [Read]

Today, in light of the discussion of whether President Obama would be finishing "evolving" on marriage equality -- he did -- his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, was asked about his view. Romney reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage -- as well as to civil unions "if they are identical to marriage other than by name." Well, now Richard ... [Read]

[Photo: ABC's Robin Roberts talks with President Obama on May 9, 2012. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House.)] Much is being made -- from Gawker to Mother Jones -- of President Obama's statement today that he believes marriage is a state issue. Specifically, both pieces point to the line in the ABC News article about the interview: "The president stressed ... [Read]

[Photo: President Obama at the White House LGBT Pride Month Reception. (Photo by Ward Morrison.)] President Barack Obama today announced his support for the right of same-sex couples to marry, ending an evolution in which he told reporters and bloggers he had been engaged since 2010, in an interview today with ABC's Robin Roberts. Saying that he thought civil unions ... [Read]

At 1:30 p.m. today, President Obama is due to sit down with ABC's Robin Roberts, and the topic of marriage equality is expected to be discussed. As The New York Times reported, the interview was hastily arranged: The sudden booking suggests an interest on the part of the White House to get Mr. Obama in front of cameras, albeit in ... [Read]

This morning, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano spoke at the Center for American Progress.  After a submitted question about marriage equality was not selected to be asked of the secretary, Metro Weekly posed the question to Napolitano directly as she was leaving the event. "Do you support marriage equality?" She looked at the questioner, did not answer, ... [Read]

[Results as of 9:15 p.m.] North Carolina voters went to the polls today and passed the first statewide marriage amendment since Arizona, California and Florida voters passed amendments in 2008. The amendment, Amendment 1, reads: Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section ... [Read]

In a conference call town hall held tonight with constituents, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), in response to a question about interstate marriage rights for same-sex couples, said that he "will be offering an amendment to prevent this administration from arguing in court against traditional marriage." The Human Rights Campaign earlier in the evening had learned that Huelskamp was planning to ... [Read]

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) plans to introduce an amendment on Wednesday to the National Defense Authorization Act in a mark-up of the bill before the House Armed Services Committee that is aimed at creating "a conscience protection clause" for military chaplains in the wake of the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." According to an email obtained by Metro Weekly ... [Read]

On their way to Albany, New York, today, White House press secretary Jay Carney took some more questions about the president and vice president's views regarding the rights of same-sex couples to marry -- as well as the president's visit with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who received significant praise for his work in support of New York's marriage ... [Read]

[Image: Memorandum regarding LGBT workplace discrimination.] Today, the Human Rights Campaign, Center for American Progress and Williams Institute -- none of which are known as aggressive, left-wing groups -- made public a memorandum and hundreds of pages of research on LGBT workplace discrimination to help push the case for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act but also for the presidential executive ... [Read]

Today's White House press briefing focused extensively on the questions of where the president and vice president stand on marriage equality -- and left little resolved. Although the questions didn't turn to marriage for a whole 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the briefing, once they start they are peppered throughout the remainder of the briefing. Regarding the vice president's ... [Read]

To see Vice President Joseph Biden's own evolution on marriage equality, one need only look at the difference between his answer today to David Gregory on Meet the Press and his answer to a similar question at the end of 2010. On Dec. 24, 2010, Biden talked with Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos: GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You said earlier - the ... [Read]

Speaking with Metro Weekly just now, Chad Griffin -- the founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights who is due to become the president of the Human Rights Campaign on June 12 -- is praising Vice President Joseph Biden's comments about what Griffin is calling Biden's "belief in marriage equality" today. What's more, Griffin is dismissing attempts by the ... [Read]

This morning, on Meet the Press, Vice President Joseph Biden was asked about marriage equality -- and opened another day of debate about which words mean what that takes everyone down the rabbit hole to Obama's Adventures in Wonderland. Biden told host David Gregory, "The good news is that as more and more Americans come to understand what this is all ... [Read]

The April 20 decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the federal law banning sex discrimination in the workplace includes discrimination based on gender identity is likely to have several effects outside the decision itself and the EEOC, but one of the more clear implications, a trio of legal scholars says, is that "the decision will almost certainly impact the ... [Read]

On Wednesday, May 2, Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was in Philadelphia to join with the city's mayor, Michael Nutter, to announce that a total of 300,000 employment opportunities would be available over the summer to "low-income and disconnected youth" as part of the administration's Summer Jobs+ initiative -- a partnership between the federal government and state, local and ... [Read]

The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group today sought to intervene, as expected, in the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act and related laws brought by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on behalf of LGB servicemembers and veterans and their spouses. The intervention in McLaughlin v. United States comes after the Department of Justice announced in February that it would not ... [Read]

The Washington Post's Right Turn blog reports that the Romney campaign's high-profile gay spokesman, Richard Grenell, has resigned today. Grenell was named on April 19 as the spokesman for the campaign on national security and foreign policy issues, having served as the spokesman for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration. According to the Post, ... [Read]