DFW Federal Club hosts Town Hall discussion on DOMA, Prop 8 rulings

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The DFW Federal Club is hosting a HRC Town Hall event tomorrow evening that will discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings.

HRC Legal Director Brian Moulton will explain the rulings, answer questions, and explain what LGBT advocates should expect and do next in the marriage equality movement.

An individual has offered to match federal club pledges made at the event up to $25,000.

The event is Friday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Tower Club on the 48th floor of Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. RSVP is required.

For more information or to RSVP, go here.

—  Anna Waugh

Rep. Matt Krause acknowledges gay marriage won’t ruin ‘traditional family’

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Fort Worth Republican state Rep. Matt Krause has stated before that he’s against same-sex marriage, but he opined over the holiday weekend that gays marrying won’t ruin opposite-sex marriages.

“I’ve said this before, but with last week’s DOMA ruling, I think it bears repeating. The heterosexual community has done more to undermine the traditional family than same-sex marriage ever could,” Krause posted on his Facebook page. “High divorce rates, rampant infidelity, and the astronomical numbers of children being born into homes without fathers should cause us much concern. While it is important to be active and engaged on all fronts that seek to undermine the family, we fool ourselves if we think same-sex marriage is the one thing that could destroy the nuclear family. Agree or disagree?”

Krause, who’s worked for the anti-gay Liberty Counsel, authored HB 360 earlier this year. In its initial form, the bill would have allowed university clubs to discriminate based on race, gender and sexual orientation. Krause later reworded the measure and offered it as an amendment to another bill, but it was cut from the final version.

Many who’ve commented on Krause’s Facebook post agreed with him, while some pointed out that he shouldn’t be against same-sex marriage.

—  Anna Waugh

You can still catch ‘The Out List’

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Talk about good timing: After a few preview screenings in theaters (including in Dallas), HBO’s documentary The Out List debuted last Thursday, just as the whole country was talking about the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions. The film makes a nice coda to those lawsuits, as well as Pride month, and it resonates especially in Dallas because one of the subjects is Dallas sheriff Lupe Valdez.

Valdez is the fourth of the celebrities interviewed, and the second (immediately following screenwriter Dustin Lance Black) from San Antonio. Valdez is also the first of the interviewees to openly discuss her faith and how it affected her coming out, as well as how her ethnicity set her apart as “other.” It’s an interesting and diverse lineup, and if you missed it, you can see it this week again. It airs on HBO Wednesday, July 3, at 3:30 p.m. (and again three hours later on HBO West, as well as on HBO Latino), then on Friday, July 5 at 1:30 p.m.

My only real criticism is: Why is it that on the poster, interviewee Larry Kramer, above left, looks like Emperor Palpatine?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DVtv: Dallas Day of Decision rally

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In this week’s issue, we explain the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Texans.

But on Wednesday night, after the news had sunk in, LGBT Dallasites and people around the nation celebrated with rallies.

Cars honked and the crowd swelled Wednesday, and even when a woman took the mike and went on an anti-LGBT rant, the audience carried on in celebration of the historic decisions.

Watch our video below.

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: RuPaul on DOMA, with ‘Love!’

America’s most famous drag queen, known for throwing her share of shade, gets serious for a minute, gathering the cast and crew of the upcoming Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race to make a statement about the repeal of DOMA. Everybody say “Love!”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PHOTOS: About 500 attend Day of Decision rally on Cedar Springs

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By the time Dallas’ Day of Decision rally began at 7 p.m. at the Legacy of Love Monument, more than 300 people had gathered. As the crowd grew to close to 500, police closed a lane of Oak Lawn Avenue and two lanes of Cedar Springs Road.

GetEQUAL TX organizer Daniel Cates began the rally with chants of, “Right here, right now, I deserve full equality!”

Before the scheduled speakers, people from the crowd spoke in an open-megaphone session. One who claimed to be an “ex-lesbian” was countered with a chant of “No more hate” until the mic was taken from her and she left the steps of the monument.

Some of the speakers discussed the implications of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decisions. Lambda Legal’s Ken Upton called the DOMA ruling a broad decision. He said it would take awhile to sort out the full implications.

“The ruling benefits the whole LGBT spectrum,” trans activist Oliver Blumer said. “It breaks down barriers.”

—  David Taffet

Out TX officials praise Supreme Court rulings, look ahead

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Annise Parker

Local and state officials and agencies applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings Wednesday in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and allowing a pathway for marriage equality to return to California.

In two 5-4 decisions, Section 3 of DOMA was ruled unconstitutional and the federal government will have to recognize legally married same-sex couples. But Section 2 that addresses states recognizing same-sex marriages, was not up for consideration and the high court dismissed the Proposition 8 case on standing. So while many officials in Texas were pleased with the DOMA ruling, their attention turned to how to create marriage equality in Texas.

“The desire to legally affirm and protect loving relationships and families is fundamental and one that the American people increasingly understand and support,” lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement. “The Court’s decision strikes down an inequality that has prevented legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights as other married couples. Today we take a huge step forward, but this fight is not over. It is my hope that the decision leads to greater acceptance and tolerance — and ultimately to full equality.”

Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who’s openly gay, said he was glad the ruling found that gay couples deserve the same federal protections.

“It is the concept of equal protection that ensures all Americans regardless of background may enjoy the freedom and dignity afforded to them by the constitution and not just a privileged few who happen to be members of a particular racial or ethnic group, religious denomination, gender or sexual orientation,” Fitzsimmons said.

—  Anna Waugh

IMMIGRATION EQUALITY: Binational couples clear winner in DOMA ruling

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Rachel B. Tiven

The full impact of the today’s DOMA ruling will become more clear over the next few weeks, months and years, but one clear immediate winner is binational couples.

For some people, the effect of the ruling will depend on whether they live in marriage equality states or not. For immigration purposes, that will not make a difference. Immigration law recognizes marriages that are valid where celebrated.

Binational couples who are legally married will be able to apply for green cards for the partner who is not a citizen. That partner will be able to remain in the country legally without returning home to renew visas every two years and will be able to get a driver’s license and work. The green card also creates a path to citizenship.

“At long last, we can now tell our families that yes, they are eligible to apply for green cards,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality. “Many of our families have waited years, and in some cases decades, for the green card they need to keep their families together.”

She said couples forced into exile will be able to return home and couples who are separated can be reunited.

“Today’s decision closes a discriminatory chapter in American immigration law,” Tiven said.

According to the Williams Institute, there are about 1,607 binational same-sex couples in Texas. That’s fourth-most behind New York, California and Florida. There are some 40,000 binational same-sex couples nationwide.

More coverage in Friday’s Dallas Voice with reaction from local binational couples.

—  David Taffet

U.S. Supreme Court to issue rulings in marriage equality cases Wednesday

Dallas LGBT advocates march for marriage equality in a Love is Stronger rally on June 8, 2013. (David Taffet/ Dallas Voice)

Dallas LGBT advocates march for marriage equality in a Love is Stronger rally on June 8, 2013. (David Taffet/ Dallas Voice)

The U.S. Supreme Court will issue  rulings Wednesday in two marriage equality cases, California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced after three rulings Tuesday morning that the court would meet for its final day Wednesday at 9 a.m. CST to read its last three decisions. Wednesday is the 10th anniversary of when the court ruled that sodomy laws nationwide were unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas.

Dallas’ LGBT community and allies will celebrate the marriage rulings at a Day of Decision rally Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Legacy of Love monument.

Roberts read the court’s ruling Tuesday in the Voting Rights Act case, Shelby County v. Holder, striking down a central part of the act, which LGBT advocates say is a step backwards in eliminating  discrimination at the polls. The decision reduces the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of racial discrimination.

“These varied and powerful voices attest to the self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color,” read a joint statement from numerous LGBT groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal.

“Voting rights protections, which have long served our nation’s commitment to equality and justice, should not be cast aside now. The court has done America a grave disservice, and we will work with our coalition partners to undo the damage inflicted by this retrogressive ruling.”

As for the marriage cases, justices are expected to rule narrowly. In Hollingsworth v. Perry’s challenge of California’s constitutional marriage amendment, the ruling could just affect that state, greatly increasing the number of the country’s population that lives in marriage-equality states. Most legal experts don’t expect the court to strike Prop 8 and find all marriage amendments unconstitutional in the 37 states that have such bans, as it did with sodomy laws in Lawrence.

—  Anna Waugh

‘DOMA is dead’

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Marriage equality supporters gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court building Wednesday as the high court hears oral arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. (Courtesy of GLAAD)

LGBT legal experts believe majority on Supreme Court will find law unconstitutional

LISA KEEN | Keen News Service

Today’s argument in the U.S. Supreme Court over the Defense of Marriage Act sounded at times as if President Barack Obama was on trial for enforcing the law even though he considers it unconstitutional. At other times, it sounded like Congress was on trial, for attempting to cloak its moral disapproval of gay people under the guise of seeking “uniformity.” And at the end of two hours, LGBT legal activists seemed cautious but optimistic that there are five votes to find DOMA unconstitutional.

It was the second and final day of two historic sessions at the nation’s high court to hear oral arguments in cases challenging the federal law denying recognition of marriage licenses granted to same-sex couples — and challenging a state law banning same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses.

Wednesday’s case, U.S. v. Windsor, posed the question of whether Section 3 of DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. New York lesbian Edith Windsor filed the lawsuit with the help of the ACLU when the federal government demanded she pay more than $360,000 in estate taxes after her same-sex spouse died. Surviving spouses in male-female marriages do not have to pay estate taxes.

LGBT legal experts said after Wednesday’s arguments in the DOMA case that it’s likely the Supreme Court will strike down the law when it issues its ruling, expected sometime in late June.

“I think we’re going to win,” said Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “I think the court is going to reach the merits on this case and I think they’re going to say that DOMA violates the federal constitution, probably for equal protection reasons. … I do think DOMA is dead.”

The first 50 minutes of the two-hour argument was given to a discussion of whether the case was properly before the court, given procedural questions. On the issue of DOMA’s constitutionality, former George W. Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement, an attorney hired by the Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), said the Congress, in passing the law in 1996, did not discriminate against gays but simply decided to define the term “marriage” “solely for federal law” in order to ensure “uniformity” in the deliverance of benefits.

“It’s rational for Congress to say it’s treating same-sex couples in New York the same as same-sex couples in Nebraska,” said Clement.

That assertion did not go unchallenged.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg all questioned Clement on it.

“What gives the federal government the right to be concerned at all about the definition of marriage?” asked Sotomayor, noting that marriage has always been considered an area of state law. She suggested members of Congress appeared to create a law to disfavor a “class they don’t like.”

When Clement suggested Congress was helping the states by putting the issue on “pause” and letting the states work through the democratic process in deciding the law in each state, Kennedy noted that DOMA seemed instead to be “helping states if they do what [members of Congress] want them to do.”

Justice Ginsburg said DOMA appears to affect same-sex couples by turning their marriages into a sort of “skim milk,” in comparison to whole milk version enjoyed by male-female couples.

Justice Kagan perhaps hit the hardest note when she said the record of House proceedings around DOMA in 1996 seemed to indicate Congress “had something else in mind than uniformity … something that’s never been done before.” She quoted a passage of the House report that said that DOMA was intended to express “moral disapproval” of marriage for same-sex couples.

“That’s a pretty good red flag,” said Kagan.

Clement seemed to be caught off guard by the excerpt. “Does the House Report say that?” he asked.

The challengers of DOMA appeared off guard at times, too.

Chief Justice John Roberts asked both Solicitor General Donald Verilli and plaintiff’s attorney Roberta Kaplan whether it would be permissible for Congress to adopt a definition for federal purposes that included gay couples, rather than excluded them.

Verilli said the House Report excerpt “makes glaringly clear” that DOMA was intended to exclude lawfully married same-sex couples.

“Are you saying that 84 senators were motivated by animus?” asked Chief Justice Roberts in follow-up to both Verilli and Kaplan.

Both Verilli and Kaplan clearly avoided saying that think DOMA was motivated by animus.

“It could have been a lack of reflection or an instinctive response,” said Verilli. But, he added emphatically, “Section 3 discriminates and it’s time for this court to recognize that discrimination cannot be reconciled with our fundamental commitment to equal protection of the law.”

But it was during questioning about the procedural matters that Roberts and other conservative justices hammered on what came across as much as a political jousting as it was a legal matter.

Roberts wondered why President Obama didn’t have “the courage of his convictions” that DOMA was unconstitutional and “instead, wait until the Supreme Court” rules it so.
Justice Samuel Alito said he thought it odd that President Obama would continue to enforce DOMA “until the court tells him to stop.”

Justice Breyer commented that the president has an “obligation” to faithfully execute the laws, whether he likes them or not.

Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, said he was “very encouraged” by the argument.

“When it comes to the merits, I think there are at least five justices who are prepared to strike down Section 3 of DOMA,” he said. “One of the things that Justice Ginsburg said at the end, about the beginning of the sex discrimination cases, the court did strike down laws that discriminated based on sex based on rational basis, and saw it as discrimination.”

Mary Bonauto, head of civil rights for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said she thought the questioning was “vigorous” on the procedural issue of standing. On the issue of DOMA’s constitutionality, she said she thought Justice Kagan “called out” the discriminatory statement in the House report.

“Overall, they were asking the right questions and the right themes were in play,” said Bonauto.

Jenny Pizer, a Lambda Legal attorney who followed the case at the three-week trial in San Francisco, said she thought it was clear that the argument of “uniformity” made “no sense at all.”

“It was surprising to me the suggestion from some of the conservative justices that the administration should not enforce laws when they have questions about constitutionality or have a view of constitutionality different from previous administrations have said. That seems immensely impractical,” said Pizer.

“One thing that did seem clear yesterday and today,” said Pizer, “is that we’re witnessing a moment of recognition of anti-gay discrimination and the government trying to come to terms with how it should change. Perhaps we shouldn’t be that surprised that some justices are resistant to addressing the merits of question, but the justices are particularly well situated to address them.”

Yesterday’s argument was over the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on marriage licenses for same-sex couples. The court heard 80 minutes of argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry over whether it should find California’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

In both cases, both sides see Justice Anthony Kennedy as the most likely justice to provide a fifth vote for the winning side. But Tuesday’s argument in the Proposition 8 case left many speculating that the court may decide that opponents of marriage quality did not have proper legal standing to appeal the case.

Legal standing was an issue in the Windsor case, too, because the Obama administration appealed the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the constitution. A party bringing an appeal must show it is injured by the lower court holding.

© Copyright 2013 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright