Judiciary committee passes measure to repeal DOMA

Sponsor acknowledges votes aren’t there yet to get Respect for Marriage Act approved by Senate

Feinstein.Diane

Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service
lisakeen@me.com

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Nov. 10, voted to recommend passage of a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

The bill is the Respect for Marriage Act. Thursday’s 10-to-8 vote along partisan lines had been originally scheduled for Nov. 3 but was postponed a week at the request of Republicans on the committee.

Republican Charles Grassley criticized Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, for putting the bill on the committee’s agenda, saying the committee should, instead, be taking up “bills that can pass” and which address the country’s financial problems.

Grassley said the measure “lacks the votes to pass the Senate” and that, even if it does pass the Senate, “it will not be taken up in the House,” which is controlled by Republicans.

Grassley repeatedly referred to the measure as the “Restoration of Marriage Act,” instead of the “Respect for Marriage,” and said it would not accomplish “restoration of any rights,” but rather create “new rights that same-sex couples have never had under federal law.

He also said there is a “universal religious view” that marriage is “about procreation and child-bearing.”

“To me, this debate is about stable families, good environments for raising children, and religious belief,” said Grassley. “It is not about discriminating against anyone. No society has limited marriage to heterosexual couples because of a desire to create second-class families.”

He rebuffed the argument of many, including the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that the fight to repeal DOMA is reminiscent of the fight to repeal laws that barred interracial marriages. Quoting Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Grassley said such comparisons can be “deeply offensive” to African-Americans.

Log Cabin Republicans President R. Clarke Cooper offered some support for Grassley’s concerns about “priorities,” but said the committee debate was “a principled discussion about the meaning of federalism, the priorities of our nation in a challenging time, and what marriage means in America today.”

Feinstein noted in her remarks Thursday that a large group of corporations filed a legal brief recently highlighting the ways DOMA burdens them with red tape and requires they treat employees differently if they are gay.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman, issued a statement saying, “President Obama applauds today’s vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the Respect for Marriage Act, which would provide a legislative repeal of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act.’ The president has long believed that DOMA is discriminatory and has called for its repeal.

“We should all work towards taking this law off the books. The federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections afforded to straight couples,” the statement said.

Evan Wolfson, head of the national Freedom to Marry group, noted that support for the Respect for Marriage Act has grown to 31 co-sponsors in the Senate and 133 in the House.

“The historic growth in support among lawmakers for repealing DOMA mirrors the growth in public support for the freedom to marry to what is now a solid majority nationwide,” said Wolfson.

Recent polling has begun to show a consistent trend in public opinion supporting the right of same-sex couples to get married. A survey of 1,001 adults nationwide by ABC and the Washington Post in July found 51 percent “think it should be legal for gay and lesbians couples to get married.”

Supporters of the legislation will need 60 votes to overcome what will almost certainly be a filibuster of the legislation should Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bring it to the floor. Politico.com noted that Feinstein acknowledged to reporters after the hearing that the bill does not have those 60 votes and that she has not spoken to Reid about the bill.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Tarrant County Stonewall revving up for 2012

Lisa Thomas

Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats is holding a fundraising party tonight in preparation for the 2012 election cycle, according to TCSD President Lisa Thomas.

The event will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Blue Mesa Grill, 1600 S. University Drive.

Thomas noted that TCSD have not endorsed any candidate in the Fort Worth mayoral election runoff between Betsy Price and Jim Lane because the race is non-partisan. But she did say that Lane, a former City Council member who is a Democrat, has been invited to the fundraising event tonight.

TCSD holds regular  meetings at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at Tommy’s Hamburgers, 5228 Camp Bowie Blvd.

—  admin

Dan Ramos to resign Thursday morning?

Dan Ramos

The mainstream media is finally starting to pick up on the story of Dan Ramos, the chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party who thinks gays are like very sinister Nazi termites with polio legs who are not natural but can’t be swept under the rug — so you might as well seek their endorsement! (This whole thing just goes to show that mental illness is totally nonpartisan.) The ABC affiliate in San Antonio reports tonight that Ramos will hold a press conference at his office Thursday morning, but it’s unclear what for. We’re sure Democrats all over the state — and maybe even some Republicans — are hoping Ramos will come to his senses and heed the many calls for his resignation, but don’t bet the farm on it. A spokesman for the Bexar County Democratic Party’s steering committee said of Ramos, “He’s been in the trenches for a long time and he’s not going to go without a fight.”

 

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Marriage updates from Maryland, New Hampshire; poll shows U.S. evenly divided

Sam Arora

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A marriage equality bill once thought to be assured of passage in the Maryland House remains stalled in committee, with lawmakers who once supported the measure now wavering under intense pressure from the religious right. The most notable flip-flopper is Democrat Sam Arora, who campaigned on his support for the bill but now says he’ll vote against it on the floor.

2. New Hampshire lawmakers put off until next year consideration of proposals to repeal marriage equality, saying they want to focus on fiscal issues first. A House committee voted 15-0 to retain the repeal bills until 2012, and LGBT advocates are disappointed the measures weren’t killed outright. 

3. But Ti-i-i-ime is on our side, yes it is. A new Pew poll shows the nation is now evenly divided on marriage equality, with a strong trend of increasing support. According to the poll, 46 percent say same-sex marriage should not be legal, while 45 percent say it should, with a 3 percent margin of error that makes for a statistical tie. Just two short years ago, a Pew poll found that 54 percent of Americans opposed marriage equality, while only 37 supported it.

—  John Wright

Target changes giving policy that led to boycott

Target has changed its corporate donation policy more than six months after LGBT groups criticized the company for donating $150,000 to Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who said he thought someone who said it was OK to kill gay people was a nice guy.

The new policy involves a committee of senior executives overseeing donations to parties and candidates.

Since the donation was made, Human Rights Campaign tried to negotiate a comparable donation to LGBT groups, but the company broke off talks. Many members of the LGBT community stopped shopping at Target and HRC deducted 15 points from Target’s Corporate Equality Index score.

The LGBT Creating Change conference was held just blocks from Target’s Minneapolis headquarters this month. Creating Change organizers approached Target about sponsoring the conference, but the company declined. However, employees from Target corporate headquarters volunteered at the conference.

Best Buy, which is also based in Minneapolis and also made a large donation to the PAC supporting Emmer, the anti-gay Republican running for Minnesota governor, was a sponsor of Creating Change.

Target says its has supported Twin Cities Pride in the past and plans to continue doing so. The company also says it will contribute to gay Pride celebrations in San Francisco and Chicago.

Ironically, the political donation may have backfired for the candidate as well.  The money Target gave to Emmer may have energized enough people in the LGBT community to vote for Mark Dayton, the Democrat who won the election by a slim margin.

—  David Taffet

Maryland senator does a 180 on gay marriage

Sen. Jim Brochin

Maryland State Sen. Jim Brochin, a Democrat, used to say that while he supported civil unions for same-sex couples, he did not support full marriage rights for those couples. This week, he changed his mind and said he will vote for legislation giving full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Why? Because he listened.

First of all, Brochin listened to the stories of same-sex couples when they testified during public hearings in favor of the proposed Religious Marriage and Civil Marriage Protection Act. But most importantly, he listened to those who testified against the bill. And he was appalled by what he heard.

“The people who are against the bill, all they did was demonize homosexuality, call them pedophiles, androids, and I just, I can’t oppose the bill and be on the same side as people who would do that,” Brochin told AM 630 WMAL radio in explaining his change of heart. “It’s destructive, it’s insulting to the same-sex families who are trying to raise their kids.”

The bill needs 24 votes to pass the Maryland Senate and 29 to avoid any debate. Brochin’s decision makes him the 21st senator to publicly pledge support, and he said this week he believes the bill has a good chance of passing.

—  admin

Villarreal files Texas ENDA bill

State Rep. Mike Villarreal

Texas state Rep. Mike Villarreal, a Democrat from San Antonio, today announced that he has filed HB 665, which would prevent employment discrimination in Texas based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

According to a statement e-mailed by Villarreal’s office, HB 665 would “end a discriminatory atmosphere that drives away well-educated professionals that would otherwise benefit the Texas economy.” Villarreal said: “Many other states and several large Texas cities have protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It’s time for Texas to join in stopping unfair employment practices that hurt our economy and hard-working Texans.”

According to the press release, Villarreal has filed similar legislation in both of the last two sessions of the Texas Legislature.

HB 665 was filed on Jan. 14.

—  admin

Watch: GOP Audience Gasps as Michelle Bachmann Tells Them She Was Once a Democrat, Worked for Jimmy Carter

Bachmann

At a speech to Michigan Republicans in Troy on Tuesday, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) elicited gasps from the audience as she told them she was once a Democrat.

Michelle Bachmann says she was a "fair-minded Democrat" who worked on Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign (and danced at his inaugural ball before she read a "snotty" novel by Gore Vidal that she perceived as mocking the Founding Fathers.

"And as a reasonable, decent, fair-minded person who happened to be a Democrat, I thought, 'You know what? What he's writing about, this mocking of people that I revere, and the country that I love, and that I would lay my life down to defend — just like every one of you in this room would, and as many of you in this room have when you wore the uniform of this great country — I knew that that was not representative of my country."

"And at that point I put the book down and I laughed. I was riding a train. I looked out the window and I said, 'You know what? I think I must be a Republican. I don't think I'm a Democrat.'"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

The Nooner: Oprah, Minnesota governor’s race, H&M, Clover coffee, Cedar Hill slaying

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Instant Tea’s new midday news briefing, The Nooner™. Here goes nothing:

• Oprah denies she’s a lesbian in interview with Barbara Walters to air Thursday. (Video clip above.)

• Anti-gay, Target-backed Republican Tom Emmer concedes Minnesota governor’s race. Does this mean it’s OK to shop there again?

• Clover coffee arrives at Starbucks on Knox Street.

• H&M to open pop-up store at NorthPark today?

• Arrest of partner in Cedar Hill teacher’s murder a relief for family.

—  John Wright

Transgender candidate Brittany Novotny concedes her race against bigot Sally Kern in Oklahoma

Transgender candidate Brittany Novotny, a Democrat, has conceded her race against Republican Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern.

“Thanks everyone for your support and love this campaign,” Novotny said on Twitter moments ago. “We may not have won tonight, but it’s far from over!”

—  John Wright