BLAG files homophobic brief defending DOMA in Edie Windsor’s lawsuit over estate tax

The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group this week filed briefs in federal court explaining why the Defense of Marriage Act is not unconstitutional — even though a trial court judge has said it is unconstitutional and the Obama Administration has instructed the Department not to continue to defend DOMA because the administration, also, says the law is unconstitutional.

Edie Windsor

But Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, after the administration issues its instructions to the DOJ on DOMA, decided that the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group would go ahead and hire an outside attorney to fight for DOMA in court because, apparently, the very idea of the federal government having to recognize legally-sanctioned same-sex marriages is too horrible to even consider.

The briefs filed by BLAG attorney Paul Clement came in connection with Edie Windsor’s lawsuit against the federal government over the $350,000 estate tax she had to pay when her wife, Thea Spyer, died. Windsor and Spyer had been together for 44 years when Spyer died in 2009, and the two women were legally married in Canada in 2007. Even though New York state, where they lived, did not allow legal same-sex marriages to be performed in the state at that time, the state did recognize same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions where it was legal.

Had Spyer been a man, Windsor would have owed no estate tax when Spyer died. (Windsor is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. For more information on the case, go here.)

Windsor and her attorneys claim in court that she should win her suit by default, without the need for a trial, because she is right on the legal arguments and there are no factual disputes. The BLAG briefs filed this week dispute that claim, laying out reasons laws that discriminate against the LGBT community — like DOMA — should not be subject to more thorough review, legally known as “heightened scrutiny.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, when deciding whether to apply heightened scrutiny, courts typically consider two factors: whether there is a history of discrimination based on the characteristic and whether the characteristic is relevant to one’s ability to participate in or contribute to society.  They sometimes also consider whether the characteristic is immutable and whether the group is particularly vulnerable politically.

The BLAG brief addresses all these factors.

Among their arguments, the most notable have been their claim that gays have not historically faced discrimination; they still believe that sexual orientation is a choice, not an identity; due to the recent victories in the LGBT community, they think gays have plenty of political power; despite the findings of an American Psychological Association study saying otherwise, they think same-sex couples make bad parents; and, the ever-popular crutch of the anti-gay marriage fanatics, that they need to protect the institution of marriage from being extended to same-sex couples.

You can go here to read what Zack Ford at Think Progress has to say about BLAG’s claims. And if you want to know more about Edie and Thea and their 44-year love story, watch the video below.

—  admin

Focus hands Speaker Boehner 45k signatures, 1 valid reason to cry

According to Focus on the Family’s own reportage, the “pro-family” mega-group has delivered 45,000+ petitions to House Speaker John Boehner, calling on the 112th Congress to, among other things:

4.) Defend the free exercise of religion and speech by rejecting the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and repealing the Hate Crimes bill passed in 2009.

5.) Support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and demand that the Obama Administration uphold and defend DOMA.

6.) Reinstate the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and underlying federal law that affirms homosexuality is incompatible with military service

Good News: Speaker Boehner Hears from 45,000 Family Advocates [FOtF]

Such principled focus they have.

But honestly? 45k sounds pretty darn low, considering how established, financed, and conserva-nnected FoTF is. We’d think by now, their bat signal would be finely tuned enough to drum up half a mil pieces of misplaced scapegoating, if they really wanted. So perhaps this is actually progress?

Good As You

—  David Taffet

John Boehner Believes Obama Is A US Citizen, A Christian

He told David Gregory during an appearance on Meet The Press this morning: "It’s not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That’s good enough for me. The president says he’s a Christian. I accept him at his word."

Seemingly indirectly referring to the wingnut birthers/FOX News viewers, Boehner also said that "the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can’t — it’s not my job to tell them."

Watch the clip, AFTER THE JUMP.

Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

Pelosi hands Boehner the gavel; Robert Gibbs packs his bags

Get a load of this fantasy headline from the LA Times. Even if Boehner means what he says, as outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi hands him the gavel, his Tea Party peeps are going to be on his posterior from day one:

John Boehner elected as House speaker, promises new GOP-controlled chamber will be ‘honest, accountable and more responsive’

Boehner, a 20-year congressman from southern Ohio, will pledge to make the House “honest, accountable, and more responsive” to the needs of the American people.

“Our aim will be to give government back to the people,” Boehner is expected to say, according to excerpts of his address released early Wednesday. “In seeking this goal, we will part with some of the rituals that have come to characterize this institution under majorities Republican and Democratic alike. We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better; that fast legislating is good legislating; that allowing additional amendments and open debate makes the legislative process “less efficient” than our forefathers intended. These misconceptions have been the basis for the rituals of modern Washington. The American people have not been well served by them.”

But the challenges of governing and holding a perhaps fractious GOP caucus together may clash with Boehner’s stated goals of a more open and inclusive process. Already Democrats are slamming next week’s expected vote in the House to repeal the healthcare overhaul legislation because Republicans are not going to allow the repeal bill to be debated and amended.

“Republicans have now broken at least three of the pledges they made in the election,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said Wednesday. Beyond the healthcare repeal, Woodhouse cited the House GOP’s move to exempt the proposed repeal from a requirement that legislation that increases the federal budget deficit be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. (Proponents of the healthcare law say it will reduce the deficit over the next 20 years.)The GOP may also be backing away from a pledge to slice 0 billion from the budget for the current fiscal year because a quarter of the year has almost passed.


Changing gears, Robert Gibbs announced today that he was stepping down as White Press Secretary. His departure comes as there are several shifts under way at the White House as the President and his team gear up for the 2012 re-election bid.

Mr. Gibbs said that he intended to leave in early February. His successor has not yet been decided, he said, but will likely be announced within the next two weeks.

President Obama, who is in the middle of making final decisions on the first major reorganization of his administration, said in a brief telephone interview on Wednesday that Mr. Gibbs would remain a close adviser and “will continue to shape the dialogue politically for many years to come.”

The departure of Mr. Gibbs is part of a series of moves inside the West Wing as the president prepares for a new phase of his administration. The internal shuffling also could bring a new White House chief of staff, a decision the president is expected to make by week’s end, with an announcement as early as next week.

Gibbs did his job, conveying basic information with as little detail as possible, particularly on DADT. One could sum up his answers to questions from The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld and ABC’s Jake Tapper, among others as 1) fibbing assclownery or 2) making him appear to be an empty vessel that is never briefed by high level WH officials.

I’m sure his replacement will bring the same level of candor to the podium

Of course here at the Blend we’ve been telling you that unless the President and Congress act on LGBT legislation in the first two years, the focus will turn away from progress to getting Barack Obama re-elected and members of Congress focusing on their seats. Of course this is now exacerbated by the turnover of the House to the GOP, making it a certainty ENDA (or any other items in the queue on the Hill) will not go anywhere. DADT squeaked by, thank goodness, but that’s still not fully repealed.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Rosanne Cash Tweets John Boehner

Johnny Cash’s daughter is pissed about this stump speech quote from Speaker-Elect John Boehner: “Remember when Ronald Reagan was president? We had Bob Hope. We had Johnny Cash. Think about where we are today. We have got President Obama. But we have no hope and we have no cash.” Ugh.

Anyway, Rosanne Cash is still performing and putting out records, in fact last year’s album of country standards, The List, was her highest charting release ever. Below is my favorite Rosanne Cash single, from 1981. I still know exactly where I was and who I was with when I first heard it.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Is Bigoted Troop Defender Sen. John Boehner Cheating On His Wife With a Lobbyist?

Mike Stark has made a career, or at least a few blog headlines, by confronting elected officials without appointments and asking them invasive questions. Like whether Sen. Lindsey Graham is a gay, or whether Rep. Patrick McHenry is too close of a friend to Dorothy. Now Stark is back with accusations that House Minority Leader John Boehner, a family values father of two, is cheating on his wife of 37 years with a lobbyist.


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—  John Wright