Rumsfeld Endorses DADT Repeal

Shortly after his CPAC appearance, former defense secretary Donald “War Criminal” Rumsfeld endorsed the repeal of DADT.

“First of all, we know that gays and lesbians have been serving in the military for decades with honorable service,” Rumsfeld said. “We know that [repeal of a ban on gays serving openly] is an idea whose time has come.” Rumsfeld says he has “enormous respect” for the ground commanders and service chiefs who have expressed concerns about the impact of gays serving openly on unit cohesion, and he urged the top brass to implement the new law “with care.” But Rumsfeld says that congress, which passed the repeal bill in the waning days of the last session, has expressed the will of the American people.

The Freepers are very unhappy with this.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Former U.S. Congressman Bob Barr again calls for repeal of DOMA, endorses marriage equality

NOTE FROM PAM: This is the first of two reports for the Blend by Tony Varona, Professor of Law and the Academic Dean of American University’s Washington College of Law (right). He contacted me a few weeks ago because he was invited to participate in a symposium on marriage equality and religion at St. John’s Law School, held this past weekend. As a reader and fan of the Blend he wanted to contribute an account of the event from his unique perspective. This report on the views of by former Congressman Barr, the lead sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act, provides a window into the former Republican’s viewpoint and current legal status of the Act.


Having already called for the repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act when he ran for president in 2008 as the Libertarian Party nominee, Bob Barr returned to the topic of DOMA’s dysfunctions during an extensive lunchtime address at the November 12th symposium entitled “Legal, Secular, and Religious Perspectives on Marriage Equality/Marriage Protection/Same-Sex Marriage” at St. John’s University School of Law in New York City. Barr, who was the lead author and lead sponsor of DOMA when he served as the Congressman from the seventh district in Georgia, characterized DOMA as an example of excessive government control of private relationships. Barr said:
The federal government has no business whatsoever defining social, personal relationships other than those perhaps that relate specifically to an enumerated proper function of the government. For example, [with] the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, one can say that at least the issue of homosexual activity or homosexual persons in the military falls within the ambit of a legitimate government concern. [The issue of gays in the military] falls into a very different category than something that ought to be defined as that large universe of policy decisions left by the Tenth Amendment to the people of the states, and that is where the issue of marriage always resided until recent decades.

Barr decried how DOMA has “morphed into” a significant barrier for the recognition of same-sex marriage among the states and a model for states’ own versions of DOMA, when, according to him, its principal purpose was much more modest and narrow. He said:

Here we had a piece of federal legislation that said for federal law purposes only,…this is what marriage means, reflecting the vast majority of Members of Congress representing the vast majority of people in the country at the time in 1996. A lawful union of one man and one woman. Yet what happened is rather than simply provide a shield for purposes of distributing federal moneys pursuant to that definition, the Defense of Marriage Act over the intervening years has been used as a club to force states not to adopt any definition of marriage other than the one that is supposed to apply just for federal law purposes.

Barr’s remarks glossed over the fact that DOMA’s Section 2 specifically addresses — and has very much influenced — state definitions of marriage by prescribing that no state “shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding” of any other state that recognizes a same-sex relationship as a marriage. DOMA’s purposes were thus not as narrow as Barr recalled. Nevertheless, he views DOMA’s restrictive anti-gay definition of marriage as another example of excessive federal government control over our lives, and an “effort by government to control individual liberty” on par with “how fast you can go on the freeway, to what the fill capacity in the toilet in the restroom is, to what kind of a bulb you can use in a lamp, and to what doc you can go to and what you can be treated for.”

Speaking in favor of the right of same-sex couples to marry, Barr said that marriage equality “is an issue of individual liberty” and “fundamental freedom.” He observed that “back in the 1850s” marriage “was considered for what it truly is — a personal relationship, a contract between two individuals.” It was, according to Barr, only “after the regulatory state began to take hold that government realized that [the regulation of marriage] was another way to control people.”

The chances for DOMA’s repeal dimmed considerably with the Republican takeover of Congress. A judicial overturning of DOMA’s Section 3, which defines “marriage” for federal purposes as “a legal union between one man and one woman,” would be more likely to happen sooner. Judge Joseph Tauro of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on July 8th ruled in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional because it lacked a rational basis. He separately ruled that DOMA’s Section 3 violated the Spending Clause and the Tenth Amendment in the partner case of Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services. Just last month, the Obama Administration filed an appeal to the decisions. For more information on the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders’ (GLAD’s) extraordinary legal work in bringing these lawsuits, click here.

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Professor Tony Varona teaches Contracts, Administrative Law, Media Law, and Introduction to Public Law. Before joining the WCL faculty, he was an associate professor of law at Pace Law School in New York. Before that, he served as general counsel and legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights organization. He built HRC’s legal department, directed its legislative and regulatory lawyering and appellate amicus work, launched national law fellow and pro bono attorney programs, and served as counsel to HRC’s board of directors and the organization’s corporate, educational, and media initiatives.

Professor Varona taught as an adjunct law professor for three years at Georgetown University, and served as a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School. He serves on the board of directors of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and is a member of the Society of American Law Teachers and the Hispanic Bar Association of Washington. He has served on the boards of the Human Rights Campaign and the Alliance for Justice, was on the New York Advisory Board for the American Constitution Society, was founding chairperson of the AIDS Action Council’s Legal Advisory Board, and served as a member of the Judicial Selection Steering Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.



Professor Varona’s second report will be equally interesting – a first-person account of serving on a panel at this symposium with the grande dame of discrimination, Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Chicago Sun Times Endorses Civil Union Measure

Contributed by John K. Barry, HRC Director in Chicago

Yesterday, I was thrilled to see the Chicago Sun Times discuss the very real possibility of civil unions moving forward in Illinois this year. The paper’s editorial board strongly voiced their support for the legislation, while noting that civil unions are not the equivalent of marriage.

A civil union bill for same-sex couples will likely face a vote during the state Legislature’s brief veto session that begins on Tuesday. It’s time, finally, to pass a bill that opens the door to equal treatment for our gay neighbors and friends. This page has long supported gay marriage as the best and most just option for same-sex couples in Illinois, but state legislators are not ready.

In the meantime, the civil union bill will do, offering much needed relief to same-sex couples. The civil union bill would give same-sex couples many of the same benefits available to married couples, including the right to visit a partner in the hospital, to inherit a partner’s estate and to make medical decisions for a sick partner…. A civil union law, though, would be an important start, potentially putting Illinois on the path to gay marriage.

The editorial board hit the nail on the head. Civil unions provide real benefits now and brings Illinois a step closer to marriage equality. HRC is proud to be a part of a broad coalition that is working for the passage of this bill.  The coalition is being led by State Representative Greg Harris, primary sponsor of the bill.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

American Family Association Endorses Homophobic Remarks Of Carl Paladino

“Carl Paladino, running for governor of the state of New York against Andrew Cuomo, trod yesterday where angels fear to tread: he told the truth about homosexuality, right out in front of God, the public, and vicious, mean-spirited homosexuals. Paladino brought it yesterday, throwing a live grenade into what had already been a contentious campaign, the kind that makes politics the spectator sport it is in the Empire State.

“Everything – every single thing – that Paladino said about the homosexual lifestyle yesterday was dead on the money. What he said is so true and so evident and so obvious that the real controversy here is that there is any controversy at all. The fact that homosexual activists will now bare their fangs, veritably dripping saliva as they go for Paladino’s carotid artery, and will do so with the full-throated blessing of the out-of-the-mainstream media, only illustrates the enormously dangerous clout these purveyors of perversity have been given in our culture.” – American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer, who makes no mention of Carl Paladino’s admitted adultery or ten year-old love child with a former employee.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Barney Frank on ENDA; GOProud endorses his opponent

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) – the chief architect of ENDA – said he is working on bringing the bill up during the lame-duck session but did not know if it would happen. He placed part of the blame for ENDA’s delay on gay activists.

“They haven’t been doing a good enough job of lobbying their members,” Frank said.

“People have demonstrations. They don’t lobby their members. I want all of the groups that I agree with to be like the NRA,” Frank said.

I’m still wondering how any pol who can say marriage being left to the states doesn’t raise the spectre of whether they think Loving v. Virginia was an incorrect SCOTUS decision.

There’s also a little blurb about Mara Keisling being “not too optimistic,” stating that “we ran out of time”, here: http://thehill.com/homenews/ho…

Personally and admittedly quite selfishly, I’m not too broken up about it.  If the leaked wording had become law, it would have hurt my family.  Frank’s threat of inclusive-but-harmful-to-T wording was a brilliant tactic to deflate the sails just enough to push ENDA to being mentioned as a lame-duck long shot.  

But I am wondering, if we’ve been misunderstanding his old saw of “they failed to lobby”…is this like a bellhop holding out his hand?  Is it because we’re grassroots and not shovelling cartloads of funds his way to use as bargaining chips?  It’s interesting to note that the recent finance reform law was specifically written to exclude the NRA from having to disclose to whom they provide financing…and that he’d bring up the conservative organization as who we should model ourselves after.

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NOTE FROM PAM: In what has really become a surreal political year, this related news is excellent grist for the discussion mill, lol.

GOProud Endorses Sean Bielat (MA-4) for Congress

Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director – “If we really want to protect gay jobs we don’t need to pass ENDA, we need to fire Barney Frank.

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, GOProud, the only national organization representing gay conservatives and their allies, endorsed Republican Sean Bielat in his race to unseat Democrat Barney Frank in Massachusetts’s 4th Congressional District.  ”If we really want to protect gay jobs we don’t need to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act [ENDA], we need to fire Barney Frank,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud.  ”From his perch atop the Financial Services committee, Barney Frank was one of the architects of the financial meltdown that cost millions of Americans – including gay and lesbian workers – their jobs.  Sean Bielat is a common-sense conservative who supports policies that will grow our economy, create jobs, and improve the lives of all Americans, but especially gay and lesbian Americans.”

“After almost 30 years in Washington, Barney Frank is everything that is wrong with politics today,” continued LaSalvia.  ”Instead of supporting pragmatic approaches to healthcare, social security and tax reform that would help gay and lesbian families, Barney Frank has preferred to play partisan politics and serve as the all-too-willing attack dog for the most radical elements of the Democrat Party.”

Sean Bielat and his wife are residents of Brookline, MA and recently had their first child – Theo. Bielat currently works as an independent consultant and serves as an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve.

“Unlike Barney Frank, Sean Bielat supports free-market healthcare reforms that will make domestic partner benefits more available to gays and lesbians and will give individuals – not the government – more control over their healthcare,” said LaSalvia.  ”Sean also supports reforms to Social Security, creating personal savings accounts allowing gays and lesbians couples to leave their Social Security to their partners or whoever else they choose – reform opposed by Barney Frank.”

Sean Bielat believes that marriage is a state issue and opposes a federal Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.  Bielat strongly backs 2nd Amendment rights, supports efforts to aggressively fight terrorism and the spread of tyrannical anti-gay radical Islamic regimes, and favors school choice.

“On the issues that matter most to gay people – particularly to gay conservatives – Sean Bielat is the clear cut choice in this race,” said LaSalvia.  ”Frankly Barney, it’s time for a change.”

“GOProud enthusiastically endorses Sean Bielat for Congress and urges our members and allies to support his conservative campaign,” concluded LaSalvia.

 
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

NY Log Cabin Endorses Donovan for AG

The Log Cabin Republicans of New York endorsed Dan Donovan, an attorney general candidate whom Democrats have targeted for his opposition to marriage equality.
Daily News

—  John Wright