February 2013 Archives

The Obama administration called on the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8 in a brief filed today, declaring the California ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote on behalf of the Obama administration in the brief that California's ban on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. "Proposition 8's denial of marriage ... [Read]

An LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act swept through the House of Representatives today, winning a bipartisan majority in the Republican-controlled chamber. Voting 286-138 Thursday, the House approved the Senate version of VAWA, which includes protections for LGBT victims of abuse. First signed into law in 1994, the vote comes after Congress failed to reauthorize VAWA in October 2011 over ... [Read]

The Obama administration will file a brief in the Proposition 8 case before the Supreme Court, NBC News reported Thursday afternoon.  "Administration officials say the Justice Department will urge the U.S. Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriage to resume in California, wading into the protracted legal battle over Proposition 8 and giving gay-rights advocates a new court ally," NBC's ... [Read]

The Thursday deadline is rapidly approaching for the Obama administration to file a brief in the Proposition 8 case before the Supreme Court. But while all eyes are on the White House, notably absent from the discussion of the broader constitutional questions raised by the landmark case before the Supreme Court are some of the LGBT community's closest allies: ... [Read]

Nearly 300 businesses and city governments filed a brief with the Supreme Court today calling for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage, be struck down as unconstitutional.  Signed by approximately 278 employers, including major businesses such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Starbucks, Morgan Stanley, Google and cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles, ... [Read]

Chuck Hagel confirmed as defense secretary

Posted by Justin Snow
February 26, 2013 5:53 PM |
After weeks of delay, the U.S. Senate today confirmed Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, voting 58-41.  The vote comes nearly two months after President Barack Obama nominated Hagel to succeed Leon Penetta as Pentagon head. Although Hagel’s nomination initially faced criticism from LGBT advocates for statements and votes made by the Nebraska Republican when he served ... [Read]

More than 80 Republicans and conservatives have attached their names to a brief to be filed with the Supreme Court later this week arguing that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. First reported last night by The New York Times, the brief will be filed in the Proposition 8 case before the high court. The signees include ... [Read]

The D.C. Council voted 11-2 Monday on a resolution reprimanding Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), one of the city's two gay councilmembers, over findings in a report by the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability that alleged that Graham violated the city’s code of employee conduct by trying to intervene on behalf of a campaign contributor bidding on a ... [Read]

Chris Hayes puts GOProud before CPAC

Posted by Justin Snow
February 25, 2013 4:45 PM |
GOProud picked up an unlikely ally over the weekend when liberal commentator Chris Hayes issued an ultimatum to the organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference. Invited to participate on a panel at the annual conference scheduled for next month, which attracts leading conservative thinkers and politicians, Hayes said he would only accept the invitation after the ban on ... [Read]

The Obama administration urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in a brief filed Friday, declaring the 1996 federal law to be unconstitutional. Arguing that Section 3 of DOMA, which forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage, violates the Constitution, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli writes that DOMA also deserves heightened scrutiny because of the history ... [Read]

Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman announced his support for same-sex marriage Thursday, declaring marriage equality to be a "conservative cause." "We are at a crossroads," Huntsman wrote of the Republican Party in a column published today by The American Conservative. "I believe the American people will vote for free markets under equal rules of the game – because ... [Read]

White House press secretary Jay Carney today left open the possibility that the Obama administration will take a public stance and file a brief in the Proposition 8 case before the Supreme Court. Responding to reports that the administration has not yet made a final decision as to whether to file a "friend of the court" brief in the case, Carney ... [Read]

Opponents of California's Proposition 8 filed their one and only brief with the Supreme Court before oral arguments are scheduled to begin next month, arguing that the measure "denies gay men and lesbians their fundamental right to marry in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses." "This Court has characterized the right to marry as one of ... [Read]

One day after a coalition of more than 80 organizations supporting marriage equality unveiled a new ad featuring clips of three prominent Republicans voicing their support for same-sex marriage, Laura Bush has requested to be removed from the ad.  In a statement to The Dallas Morning News, Bush spokeswoman Anne MacDonald said Wednesday that the former first lady "did ... [Read]

Forget the budget or transportation. Some Richmond lawmakers went to the mat to prevent unmarried couples from living together and having sex without breaking the law. And on Wednesday, they lost. By a 62-25** margin, the Virginia House of Delegates passed SB969, a bill that seeks to repeal a section of Virginia law that makes cohabitating or "lewdly and lasciviously associating" ... [Read]

More than 50 progressive organizations called on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in a letter sent to the White House today. Led by the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Work and the American Civil Liberties Union, the letter calls for Obama to ... [Read]

A coalition of more than 80 organizations supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry launched an "unprecedented" national advertising campaign today. The Respect for Marriage Coalition plans to invest more than $1 million over the next few weeks to run ads advocating for marriage equality on the airwaves, in print and online.  In a 30-second TV ad released by ... [Read]

D.C. lawmakers are rallying around a bill introduced Tuesday that would amend the Vital Records Act of 1981 to allow transgender individuals born in the District more easily obtain new birth certificates reflecting correct gender and, in some cases, new name. The bill, co-introduced by Councilmembers David Catania (I-At Large), David Grosso (I-At Large), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Kenyan McDuffie ... [Read]

The Virginia Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill Monday that sets in place a framework for local school boards to follow when crafting and adopting policies and procedures aimed at curbing bullying in Virginia schools. After the Senate adopted some technical amendments, the measure, HB1871, passed the Senate by a 37-3 vote, with Sen. Dick Black (R-Loudoun, Prince William counties), a ... [Read]

Coming on the heels of the Pentagon's decision earlier this week to extend certain benefits to same-sex military families, members of the House and Senate introduced legislation this week that would grant full benefits to gay servicemembers and their families.  With the Pentagon forced to limit the number of benefits extended to same-sex military families due to the Defense ... [Read]

President Barack Obama today honored Jeanne Manford, the late founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). During a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Obama presented the Presidential Citizen Medal to Manford's daughter, Suzanne Swan, who accepted the medal on her mother’s behalf. Manford died last month at the age of 92. ... [Read]

With the inclusion of gay couples in comprehensive immigration reform uncertain, lawmakers are moving forward with legislation that would extend immigration rights still denied to binational same-sex couples. Earlier this week, bills were introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives that would recognize immigrants in relationships with Americans of the same-sex and grant them various protections, including eligibility for ... [Read]

Illinois took one step closer to granting same-sex couples the right to marry today.  On Valentine's Day, the Illinois Senate voted 34-21 in favor of a marriage equality bill that would allow same-sex marriage in the state, sending the legislation to the House.  Although the bill is expected to face a tougher batter in the House, Gov. Pat Quinn ... [Read]

President Barack Obama is facing increased pressure to sign an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity after 37 senators sent a letter to the president today urging him to act. "We are committed to enacting legislation to protect all Americans," the senators – all supporters of the Employment ... [Read]

President Barack Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress, making brief reference to the LGBT community.  Coming on the heels of the president's second inaugural address, in which he made a historic call for full equality for "our gay brothers and sisters," Obama’s mention of LGBT issues was brief ... [Read]

A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee voted Tuesday to table SB701, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in public employment based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, effectively killing the measure for the remainder of the session despite widespread support for LGBT employment protections across the commonwealth, including among Republicans in the state Senate. The House General Laws ... [Read]

The Senate approved an LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Tuesday afternoon, sending the bill to the House of Representatives where it faces an uncertain future. Voting 78-22, the Senate approved the bill, which authorizes $659 million over five years for various programs that help prevent domestic violence. Among the bill's more contentious provisions is one that offers expanded protections ... [Read]

The chairman of the Senate committee overseeing one of the last major pieces of LGBT-rights legislation today promised movement on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. During an event at the Center for American Progress, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who is chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said action will be taken on ENDA this year. "I've been ... [Read]

The Virginia Senate today passed the House version of a bill to allow student groups and organizations at higher-educational institutions to discriminate with regard to whom they admit as members. Three Democrats, including two from Northern Virginia, voted with 18 Republicans to approve HB1617 in a 21-18 vote, mirroring the Senate's Feb. 5 vote on the upper chamber's own version, ... [Read]

Same-sex military families will begin to receive a number of benefits previously denied to them as early as this summer, the Department of Defense announced Monday. In one of his last acts as defense secretary, Leon Panetta ordered the extension of certain benefits still denied to gay servicemembers more than a year after the September 2011 repeal of "Don't ... [Read]

D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), one of two out gay members of the D.C. Council, issued a statement Friday saying he will not resign, despite calls from critics, including the editorial board of The Washington Post, to do so following the finding of the District's board of ethics that Graham violated the city's code of employee conduct while intervening ... [Read]

President Barack Obama will award the Presidential Citizen Medal to the late Jeanne Manford, the White House announced today. Manford, who died in January at the age of 92, founded Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and was one of the LGBT-rights movement's first straight allies.  "It is my distinguished honor to award these individuals the 2012 ... [Read]

The Virginia Senate, in a 22-18 vote Tuesday, passed a bill that would allow student groups at higher-educational institutions more easily discriminate in who they admit as members.  Four Democrats, including three from Northern Virginia, allied themselves with 18 of 20 Republicans in the upper chamber to pass SB1074, which would prohibit public institutions of higher education from restricting student ... [Read]

Sean Eldridge, an activist, investor and husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, is expected to challenge Rep. Chris Gibson (R) in 2014 for New York's 19th District congressional seat.  The 26-year-old Eldridge filed paperwork establishing "Sean Eldridge for Congress," which was processed by the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 1, according to Bloomberg. Gibson has held his seat in ... [Read]

Indiana lawmakers postponed a vote today on a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the state until next year, The Indianapolis Star reports.  Senate President Pro Tem David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma, both Republicans, said they would delay a vote on a proposed ban that would amend the state's constituion to ban the right of same-sex ... [Read]

President Barack Obama nominated two justices to the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today, including one who could become the country's first out gay appeals court judge. Obama announced his nomination of Todd M. Hughes, who currently serves as deputy director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States ... [Read]

Barack Obama continued the presidential tradition of speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning, marking the president's fifth appearance at the annual event and his first since declaring his support for same-sex marriage in May 2012. Held at the Washington Hilton, the Fellowship Foundation, commonly known as "The Family," hosted the event. The organization is well known for ... [Read]

The Boy Scouts of America will not consider lifting the organization's long-standing ban on gay members and leaders until May, the group announced today. In a statement released the same day the organization's board of directors were scheduled to consider ending the national discriminatory ban, the BSA announced they would not consider the ban until the BSA's National Annual Meeting ... [Read]

With immigration reform once again taking center stage on Capitol Hill, advocates are cautiously optimistic that protections for same-sex families articulated by President Barack Obama will be included in comprehensive reform.  In a meeting with progressive leaders at the White House Feb. 5, Obama reaffirmed his commitment to a four-part plan for reform unveiled during a speech in Las ... [Read]

The Virginia House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bill Monday that would define the term "bullying" and instructs individual school boards to adopt policies and procedures to prevent its occurrence.   The House of Delegates approved HB1871, sponsored by Del. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond, Henrico Co.), by a vote of 93-6, with all 32 of the lower chamber's Democrats and 61 ... [Read]

A Maryland legislative ethics committee has found that Del. Emmett Burns (D-Baltimore Co.) committed a "particularly egregious abuse of public resources" by writing a letter on official General Assembly letterhead to Steve Bisciotti, owner of the Baltimore Ravens football team, asking him to "take the necessary action" and order Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo to "cease and desist" from expressing his ... [Read]

The Pentagon will announce later this week its decision to grant the spouses of gay servicemembers "certain benefits" still denied to them more than a year after the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Although Pentagon officials did not indicate what specific benefits will be extended without violating the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, ... [Read]

Richard Tisei decides against Senate run

Posted by Justin Snow
February 4, 2013 12:19 PM |
One day after announcing he would explore a run for Secretary of State John Kerry's old Senate seat, out gay Republican Richard Tisei announced he will not run in the special election. "Unfortunately, the timing is simply not right for me to do so – deeply as I feel about the need to strongly compete in this election," Tisei ... [Read]

Obama: Boy Scouts should allow gay members

Posted by Justin Snow
February 4, 2013 11:44 AM |
President Barack Obama reiterated his oppositions to the Boy Scouts' longstanding ban on gay members and leaders during an interview with CBS News. In an interview that aired shortly before the Super Bowl on Sunday, Obama was asked if the Boy Scouts of America should be open to gays. "Yes," the president responded. "My attitude is that gays and lesbians ... [Read]

Former Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) annoumcement today that he will not seek election to the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry, a Democrat, may open a door for gay Republican Richard Tisei. In a statement released today, Tisei said he was exploring the possibility of running for the Senate after Brown's announcement. "The news that Scott won't be running again came ... [Read]