Breaking: Elizabeth Edwards Has Passed Away

Local press in Chapel Hill, North Carolina is reporting that Elizabeth Edwards has passed away. From WRAL‘s Elizabeth Edwards dies:

Chapel Hill, N.C. – Elizabeth Edwards, the political wife whose public battle with breast cancer, coping with marital infidelity and continued advocacy for the downtrodden raised her profile above that of her husband, died Tuesday. She was 61.

Edwards died at her Chapel Hill home, where family and friends had gathered in recent days after doctors informed her that her cancer had spread and recommended that she not undergo further treatment.

CNN confirms the story.

UPDATE FROM PAM: The statements from the White House:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 7, 2010

Statement by the President on the Passing of Elizabeth Edwards

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Elizabeth Edwards.  This afternoon I spoke to Cate Edwards and John Edwards, and offered our family’s condolences.  I came to know and admire Elizabeth over the course of the presidential campaign.  She was a tenacious advocate for fixing our health care system and fighting poverty, and our country has benefited from the voice she gave to the cause of building a society that lifts up all those left behind.

In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain.  Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up.  But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration.  Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

***

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release

December 7, 2010

Vice President Biden Issues Statement on the Passing of Elizabeth Edwards

“Elizabeth Edwards fought a brave battle against a terrible, ravaging disease that takes too many lives every day.  She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and to those who felt they knew her.   Jill and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Edwards family as they grieve during this difficult and painful time.”

The DNC:

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine’s Statement On The Passing of Elizabeth Edwards

Washington, DC – Today, Elizabeth Edwards passed away.  Following her death, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine issued the following statement:

“Elizabeth Edwards’s death at much too young an age will be mourned and she will be fondly remembered in the hearts of women and men from all across our nation.  Elizabeth was a woman of firm convictions and strong principles, and she was an inspiration not only to members of the Democratic Party but to countless Americans of all backgrounds.  

I offer my sincere condolences to her family and friends, and my thoughts go out to all those who will miss her.  Elizabeth will not soon be forgotten, and her spirit will live on in all those who loved and admired her.”

Unlike our President (and her husband John Edwards), Elizabeth Edwards endorsed marriage equality. Speaking at the HRC San Francisco Dinner in 2007:

~~~~~

Related:

* Elizabeth Edwards is gravely ill; further treatment for cancer ‘unproductive’
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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BREAKING: Illinois House just passed civil unions bill

Update: Just as I posted this diary, the news came out that the IL House of Representatives has passed the civil unions law!  On the the Senate!  Gov. Patrick Quinn has promised to sign the bill into law.

From Equality Illinois:

We did it! The Illinois House of Representatives passed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act with a vote of 61 to 52!

However, the Illinois Senate has yet to vote on the civil union bill and has until Thursday, December 2nd to do so. We are almost there but need your help to make this bill a reality. Please:

1. Call your Senator NOW and tell him/her to pass SB 1716 (If you do not know who your legislator is, you can look him/her up here).

2. Support our aggressive advocacy efforts with a contribution. Not only do we still need to pass the bill through the State Senate, but we will then need to protect the law from attempts to repeal it. We can only succeed with your support. Please donate now.

We are extremely thankful to State Representative Greg Harris, chief sponsor of the bill, for his extraordinary leadership on this issue. Thank you for supporting us and we will keep you posted on the status of this historic bill.

Sincerely,

Bernard Cherkasov

Chief Executive Officer


As we speak, a civil unions bill is up for debate and vote in the Illinois House of Representatives.  
Openly gay Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who co-sponsored SB 1716, started his opening statement at 5:17 p.m on Tuesday. “Once in every generation,” he said, “legislatures across the country have a chance to advance the cause of liberty and justice for all.”

SB 1716, the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act needs 60 votes to pass in the House. Supporters believe they have the necessary votes to pass the bill out of the House and on to the Senate, where quick passage is expected.

Tuesday afternoon, an Illinois Senate committee advanced its version of the civil unions bill by a 6-2 margin. The upper chamber on the Senate would have to approve the legislation if it clears the House.

According to the article above, a poll last month showed that 67.5% of likely Illinois voters approve of civil unions or marriage for same sex couples while only 26.5% oppose any recognition.

If the legislation passes, Illinois will join California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington as the latest state to offer full-scale Civil Unions or Domestic Partnerships.  Marriage equality is the law of the land in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C..

Fingers crossed for the Land of Lincoln!

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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BREAKING: Prop 8 Oral Arguments To Be Televised Live on C-SPAN

Good news!

By way of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Notice of Docket Activity

The following transaction was entered on 11/17/2010 at 3:54:16 PM PST and

filed on 11/17/2010

Case Name: Kristin Perry, et al v. Arnold Schwarzenegger, et al

Case Number: 10-16696

C-SPAN applied to televise live the case captioned above, scheduled to be heard in San Francisco, on December 6, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. C-SPAN’s request to televise live is GRANTED.

A maximum of two (2) video cameras will be permitted in the courtroom. C-SPAN will serve as the pool-feed for all media organizations that submit an application.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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BREAKING: 3 generations of advocates, vets fighting for repeal of DADT facing arrest at WH

They’ve done it again – including baristas Autumn Sandeen and Scott Wooledge, as well as Blender Michael Bedwell. NOTE: Talk About Equality has coverage and photos. One WH shot:


Washington, DC – This afternoon, three generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans and advocates went back to the White House fence to call for the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and President Obama to make good on their promises to secure the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the abbreviated, lame-duck session of Congress that started today.

During the direct action organized by GetEQUAL – a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – and local activists, 13 veterans and advocates handcuffed themselves to the White House fence in an act of non-violent, civil disobedience protesting the un-American, discriminatory law yet to be repealed by Congress — regardless of the numerous promises by President Obama, Congressional leaders and national LGBT leaders that they would do so by the end of this year.

Photos and video of the three generations of veterans and repeal advocates taking part in an act of civil disobedience today at the White House will soon be available online at www.getequal.org. Also, you can visit GetEQUAL’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/getequal) to stay up-to-date regarding the well-being and release of the 13 veterans and advocates arrested today.

The 13 veterans and repeal advocates arrested today include:

  • Five veterans (Lt. Dan Choi, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, and Cadet Mara Boyd) who were arrested back in March during the GetEQUAL organized “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” act of civil disobedience at the White House fence demanding President Obama show leadership on repeal.
  • Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL, and Dan Fotou, action strategist for GetEQUAL.
  • Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom, who was discharged in 1976 for declaring and admitting she was a lesbian. She became the first-ever LGBT servicemember reinstated to her position in the U.S. Military, by a U.S. Federal District Court. On July 30th, 1993, Miriam and 26 other protesters were arrested at the White House fence for protesting then-President Bill Clinton’s broken promise to repeal the gay ban – instead signing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bill into law.
  • Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Justin Elzie who, in 1993, became the first Marine ever investigated and discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Elzie was also the first soldier to be discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to fight his discharge and win – resulting in his service as a Marine for four years as an openly gay man.
  • Former U.S. Army Arabic Linguist Ian Finkenbinder, who was discharged from the Army in December 2004 after announcing to his superiors that he was gay. Finkenbinder is an Iraq war veteran and was about to return for a second tour of duty when he was discharged.
  • U.S. Army Veteran and Repeal Advocate Rob Smith, who was deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait before being honorably discharged after deciding not to re-enlist in the U.S. Army due to the added pressure of living under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
  • Father Geoff Farrow, a Catholic priest who spoke out against the church’s official stance in support of California’s Proposition 8, removing the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Because of his courageous stance against Prop 8, Father Geoff Farrow was removed as pastor of St. Paul’s by his bishop and suspended as a priest.
  • Scott Wooledge, a New York-based LGBT civil rights advocate and blogger who has written extensively on the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at Daily Kos and Pam’s House Blend.
  • Michael Bedwell, long-time LGBT civil rights advocate, close friend of Leonard Matlovich, and administrator of the site www.leonardmatlovich.com.

“On the White House fence today, and in a jail cell this evening, are thirteen American patriots,” said Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL. “Included in the thirteen arrested are veterans and advocates spanning three generations of brave and courageous Americans, who sacrificed their careers and lives to see the day this discriminatory ban on openly gay and lesbian service in the military finally goes into the history books. Today, we have sent a loud and clear message to the U.S. Senate and President Obama that we expect them to make good on their promises to end this inhumane law this year, during the lame-duck session of Congress.”

“Today, I stand again at the White House fence – 17 years later – still protesting the injustice and hypocrisy of a failed law,” said former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom. “And with us today is not only the spirit of Lieutenant Enslin, the first to be discharged from the U.S. Military for being gay, but also standing here in spirit are every young woman and man awaiting discharge under the shameful ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law.  They are here and we are here, all together still America’s daughters and sons, still willing to serve and protect this country. I sincerely pray our country’s elected leaders in Congress and the White House will have the courage to repeal this law and make this the last time I have to come back to this fence and be arrested in protest of a law in direct contrast with our values and beliefs as Americans.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Breaking: Log Cabin Republicans Asks Supreme Court To Toss Out 9th Circuit’s DADT Stay, Immediately Halt Discharges

In an emergency request to reverse the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' 2-1 decision to grant a stay, thus blocking Judge Virginia Phillips' injunction of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Log Cabin Republicans are asking the Supreme Court to toss out the stay and keep DADT from being enforced while the government appeals the decision. The option to act falls to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who handles the Ninth Circuit's appeals, and who "will likely ask his eight colleagues to help him decide and order the federal government to weigh in with its views before a decision is made," says CNN. LCR's chief R. Clarke Cooper says, "It is unfortunate the Obama Justice Department has forced the Log Cabin Republicans to go to the Supreme Court." The group writes in its filing, called an "application," "Unless the court of appeals stay is vacated, the respondents will be free to continue to investigate and discharge American service members for no reason other than their homosexuality, in violation of their due process and First Amendment rights."


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Queerty

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BREAKING: Federal Appeals Court Issues Indefinite Stay On Overturn Of DADT

In a suckily timed Election Eve ruling, late this afternoon the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals indefinitely extended their stay on the overturn of DADT.

In an eight-page order, the judges said they were persuaded by the Department of Justice’s argument that U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips’ worldwide injunction against the 1993 policy “will seriously disrupt ongoing and determined efforts by the Administration to devise an orderly change of policy.” Monday’s decision means gay Americans who disclose their sexual orientations still can’t enlist in the armed forces and can be discharged. It also heightens pressure on the Obama administration to persuade the U.S. Senate to repeal the 1993 law before a new Congress is sworn in.

The Court also gave the DOJ until January 24th to file their broader appeal against Judge Phillips’ ruling. And the Log Cabin Republicans now have until February 22nd to respond to that.

REACTIONS

Lambda Legal

“Today’s ruling means additional months or even years of needless suffering by lesbian, gay and bisexual service members, who must continue to live in fear of discovery until the appeals process is complete – or until Congress or the President steps up to the plate. But it’s important to remember that today’s ruling was not: a consideration of the merits of the case. That remains for another day. Each day that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ remains in effect, it destroys lives and careers, undermines national security, and forces the discharge of the very personnel our military needs in a time of war. The pressure is now on Congress to repeal this fundamentally un-American law – and on the President, who can issue a stop-loss order to put an immediate end to discharges under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”

Log Cabin Republicans

“Log Cabin Republicans is disappointed that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will continue to burden our armed forces, undermine national security and limit the freedom of our men and women in uniform. Despite this temporary setback, Log Cabin remains confident that we will ultimately prevail on behalf of servicemembers’ constitutional rights. In the meantime, we urge President Obama to use his statutory stop-loss power to halt discharges under this discriminatory and wasteful policy.”

Human Rights Campaign

“Every day that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is in force, Americans are losing out on the best and brightest service members defending our country. For the good of our national security, the endless legal wrangling and political posturing has to stop. This is the year for the President to lead and for Congress to clean up the mess it made when it enacted this discriminatory and unconstitutional law nearly two decades ago.”

More reactions will be added to this post as they arrive.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

BREAKING: Woofy Bearded Pitcher Makes Baseball Slightly Less Boring

Also: San Francisco won the pennant. Just For Men should totally hire Brian Wilson as their spokesbear.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

BREAKING: Ninth Circuit Court Stays Injunction Against Enforcing DADT

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted the DOJ’s emergency request for a temporary stay on Judge Virginia Phillips’ order to stop enforcing DADT. Via Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly, here’s the brief ruling.

This court has received appellant’s emergency motion to stay the district court’s October 12, 2010 order pending appeal. The order is stayed temporarily in order to provide this court with an opportunity to consider fully the issues presented. Appellee may file an opposition to the motion for a stay pending appeal by October 25, 2010. To expedite consideration of the motion, no reply shall be filed.

What this may mean (if anything) for Dan Choi, I have no idea.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

BREAKING: Obama DOJ to appeal Massachusetts DOMA case

How about that fierce advocacy! Predictable, given how things have gone so far; this admin’s DOJ and this President (a constitutional scholar) are going to defend discrimination. From Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (email press release):

Department of Justice will Appeal GLAD’s Victory in DOMA Lawsuit

Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the challenge brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Representing seven married same-sex couples and three widowers, GLAD filed Gill in March 2009. The case was heard in May 2010 by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro, who issued a decision finding DOMA Section 3 unconstitutional on July 8, 2010.

“We fully expected an appeal and are more than ready to meet it head on,” said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director. “DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits. We are confident in the strength of our case.”

The case is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The next step will be for the government to file its brief to that court arguing that Judge Tauro’s ruling was wrong. GLAD will then file its brief in opposition to the government, and finally the government will file a reply brief. At that point, the appeal will be scheduled for oral argument. Briefing could be concluded by the spring of 2011 with oral argument to follow by the fall of 2011.

The government also today filed its notice of appeal in the related case Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Department of Health and Human Services.

Co-counsel in the Gill case are attorneys from the firms Foley Hoag LLP, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Jenner & Block LLP, and Kator, Parks & Weiser, PLLC.

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BREAKING: Fed judge orders Obama Defense Department to stop enforcing DADT

UPDATE: Read between these lines – @KerryEleveld quoting Robert Gibbs:

“Obviously, there have been a number of court cases that have ruled in favor of plaintiffs in this case and the president will continue to work as hard he can to change the law that he believes is fundamentally unfair.”

Note from Louise: More press releases coming in (4pm EDT) and will be put up below the fold.

The fierce advocate finds himself painted into a LGBT equality corner three weeks before midterms by a federal judge. (The Advocate):

In a Tuesday ruling, U.S. district judge Virginia A. Phillips ordered the Defense Department to “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding” related to “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

In her order Phillips did not specify when the injunction would become effective. Justice Department attorneys are expected to appeal the injunction to the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit.



The ruling:

So what’s it going to be, Mr. President, Mr. Commander-in-Chief? Is the gay community’s equality a political football on this issue or is removing a policy banning gays and lesbians from serving in the military going to happen on your watch, on your authority now?

The President, who is himself a constitutional scholar, has been handed the golden opportunity to end DADT once and for all. A federal judge has now ruled that the gay ban is unconstitutional, and he has ordered the federal government to stop the discharges immediately. The President now has the power – given to him by a federal judge – to do the right thing, to do what he promised, to side with the civil rights community. All he has to do is not appeal, and DADT is over.

It’s a no-brainer. Even for this administration that is loathe to do anything bold, loathe to be seen as responsible for anything even slightly “controversial.” Well, now they have their out. It’s the judge’s fault. President Obama can simply choose not to appeal the case, to respect the judge’s decision, and DADT is over. It’s history.

Or the President can direct his Department of Justice to oppose the judge’s order, to appeal the case, and to defend DADT – to defend bigotry, to go down in history on the same side as those who chose to defend discrimination against another class of Americans earlier in the 20th century.

Reactions…

SU:

“This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans. “While this is certainly news to be celebrated, we would also advise caution in advance of a potential stay from the Ninth Circuit. If the appellate court wishes to put itself on the right side of history, however, it will allow this sound and long-over due decision to remain in effect.”

The case that won the injunction, Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America, was originally filed in 2004. Just last month, and after a two-week trial in July, Judge Phillips issued her final ruling in the case, finding that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law was unconstitutional on first and fifth amendment grounds. She also indicated her intent to issue an injunction barring further discharges in light of that finding. A copy of the injunction can be found at www.ServicemembersUnited.org/injunction.

LCR:

Christian Berle, acting Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans

“After finding in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ violates servicemembers First and Fifth Amendment rights, a world-wide injunction was the only reasonable solution.  These soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines sacrifice so much in defense of our nation and our Constitution.  It is imperative that their constitutional freedoms be protected as well.  This decision is also a victory for all who support a strong national defense.  No longer will our military be compelled to discharge servicemembers with valuable skills and experience because of an archaic policy mandating irrational discrimination.  The United States is stronger because of this injunction, and Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have brought the case that made it possible.”

Dan Woods, White & Case partner who is representing Log Cabin Republicans

“We are extremely pleased with Judge Phillips’s decision granting an immediate and permanent injunction barring the US military from carrying out its ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.  The order represents a complete and total victory for Log Cabin Republicans and reaffirms the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians in the military who are fighting and dying for our country.”

HRC:


HRC Statement on Injunction Barring DADT Enforcement

Solmonese: “The administration should comply with her order and stop enforcing this unconstitutional, unconscionable law that forces brave lesbian and gay Americans to serve in silence”

WASHINGTON - Today, federal district judge Virginia Phillips, following on her July decision striking down the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law in a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, ordered the Department of Defense to immediately cease enforcement of the statute barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the Armed Forces.  Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:


“The administration should comply with her order and stop enforcing this unconstitutional, unconscionable law that forces brave lesbian and gay Americans to serve in silence. The President has said this law harms our national security and we believe it would be a mistake to appeal the decision.  Each additional day that this unjust law remains in force is one more day the federal government is complicit in discrimination.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

                    # # #

SLDN:



SLDN Statement on U.S. District Court Order to Suspend Investigations, Discharges Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”




WASHINGTON, D.C.
– Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), issued a statement today after U.S. district judge Virginia A. Phillips ordered the Defense Department to “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding” related to DADT.

Statement by SLDN Legal Director Aaron Tax:

“We applaud Judge Phillips for putting an immediate stop to all investigations and discharges under this unconstitutional law.  As explained by the judge, this order applies across the military.  This order bars the Department of Defense from enforcing or applying the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law against any person under its command.  We have clients under investigation and facing discharge right now.  We’ll be monitoring each case over the coming days.  This order will likely be appealed by the Justice Department and brought to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit where her decision may well be reversed.  The law still has a chance of being repealed in the lame duck session of Congress.  Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time.  Anyone in the armed forces with questions or concerns should call our hotline.”

“Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org) is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A journalists’ guide is available here.

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—  John Wright