Iowa House votes to overturn same-sex marriage


The Iowa House voted 62-37 today to pass a resolution that would place a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot.

The resolution now goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to block it. Even if it passes the Senate, the resolution would have to pass again in the next session of the Legislature before being placed on the ballot in 2013.

The proposed constitutional amendment would ban not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships.

“The actions of the Iowa House have the potential to place families at risk,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “The people of Iowa deserve better from their representatives. Iowa has a proud tradition of protecting the liberties of all of its citizens and we call upon the Senate to restore that tradition.”

Watch video from Monday’s public hearing on the bill above.

—  John Wright

UPDATED: DADT vote could come Thursday

UPDATE: We’ve posted a full story on today’s vote here.

The Defense Authorization Act containing a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” is one of three bills scheduled for a cloture vote in the Senate beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern time, or 10 a.m. Dallas time, on Thursday, according to a Senate calendar released Wednesday night. The first of the three bills scheduled for a cloture vote is the DREAM Act, which passed the House on Wednesday but is not believed to have enough votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. As for the Defense bill with DADT repeal attached, all eyes will be on Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, whose misgivings prompted Majority Leader Harry Reid to postpone a planned vote Wednesday evening. Read Collins’ statement from last night here. Below are the Senate orders for today via AmericaBlog:

∙The Senate will convene at 9:30am and proceed to consideration of the motion to proceed to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010 (S.3992), with ten minutes reserved for Senator Durbin, and the remaining time until 11:00am equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders, or their designees.

∙At 11:00am, the Senate will proceed to a series of up to three roll call votes on the following:

o The motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010 (S.3992).

o The motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (H.R.847).

o Reconsideration of the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (S.3454).

UPDATE: As of 11:15 a.m. Dallas time, the Defense bill was on hold indefinitely as negotiations between Reid and Collins continued. However, the tax bill was expected to arrive on the Senate floor within an hour or so. The tax bill could delay consideration of the Defense bill, but it would also address one of Collins’ main concerns — that the tax bill be dealt with first.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: No Senate vote on DADT tonight

The Senate will not vote tonight on the Defense spending bill that includes a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” Majority Leader Harry Reid postponed the previously scheduled vote after Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she’s not ready to proceed on the bill. Collins is one of the key Republican votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Talking Points Memo reports:

Late this evening, per Collins’ request, Reid delayed a test vote he’d planned to hold tonight.

“Everyone on the Republican side wants to see the tax package completed first,” Collins said.

Collins reminded Reid that Republicans don’t want to debate anything until the tax issue is resolved. “I have urged the majority leader to postpone the vote…so that we could get the tax bill considered first — which I believe could be on the floor tomorrow — and completed by Saturday, and then move immediately to the DOD bill, but under a fair agreement.”

Though Reid has backpedaled somewhat, he still plans to hold a vote later this week. Collins warns that any test vote before the tax cut issue is resolved will fail, even if he agrees to her terms.

“If we’re in the same situation that we are now, I don’t see how I could vote for it. But I’m obviously going to think further. But frankly they won’t get to 60 votes even if I did vote for it. So why not take the path that would lead to 60 votes”

The Washington Blade reports that the vote could come at any time on Thursday:

Jim Manley, a Reid spokesperson, said the decision to hold off on the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill was made to allow for further discussions on the legislation.

“There’s a sense that we’re getting closer to working out an agreement,” Manley said. “Instead of having a vote tonight, we’ve temporarily postponed it until tomorrow as we try and see if we can reach an agreement.”

Pro-repeal groups are continuing to ask people to contact Senators and urge them to support repeal. To take action, go here.

—  John Wright

As Senate begins DADT hearings, Guy-Gainer accuses Republicans of ‘juvenile mutiny’

Dave Guy-Gainer

Senate Republicans are committing “a form of juvenile mutiny” by indicating they’ll block consideration of “don’t ask don’t tell” during the lame duck session, according to a leading local advocate for repealing the policy.

All 42 Republican senators signed a letter delivered to Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday pledging to block any legislation that’s unrelated to government funding or taxes this month.

The Senate Armed Services Committee began hearings at 8 a.m. Dallas time today (you can watch live here) on the Pentagon’s report on DADT, which was released Tuesday and concluded that there’s “low risk” to ending the ban. But regardless of the Pentagon report and the committee hearings, some believe Wednesday’s letter to Reid  seriously threatens DADT repeal this year.

Dave Guy-Gainer, an openly gay retired Air Force chief master sergeant who lives in Tarrant County, said there were “no surprises” as he watched Tuesday’s press conference during which the Pentagon report was released.

“In fact, as I listened to each of the four speakers, I heard the same words and sentences that proponents of Repeal have said for many many years,” said Guy-Gainer, a board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “The impact of repeal is minimal. And the concerns that some have can be overcome by education and leadership. It was refreshing to hear Secretary Gates call upon the Senate to enact repeal by the end of December. I understand that he has instructed the services to continue to draft the changes to their many regulations and policies and to draft the lesson plans that will be used to educate the force so that they will be ready when repeal happens. Or, they will be ready when the judiciary calls an end to DADT.”

Guy-Gainer added that he believes the findings of the report, along with polls showing a vast majority of Americans support DADT repeal, should serve as a mandate for the Senate to act.

“In military terms, I personally find their [the Senate Republcans'] letter to be a form of juvenile mutiny,” Gainer said.”These Senators were sent to Washington by people called constituents as a part of a whole. In law a constituent is one who appoints another to act on their behalf. About 80 percent of Americans support repeal and that 80 percent is certainly not made up solely of members of other parties. These Senators are there to vote the will of the people and not there to support the selfishness of partisan politics.

“If there is a threat to our national security, it is the withholding of the military funds that would be provided by the National Defense Authorization Act,” Gainer said, referring to the bill to which DADT repeal is attached. “By one measure, 92 percent of our military is fine working alongside gay and lesbian counterparts. But, none of them can function without biscuits, beans and bullets. After months of delay, it is time for a vote to be taken.

“Hopefully, those who read this article will find a way to inspire these 42 to use the power that was handed them at the ballot box to vote according to the wishes of the nation, the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the men and women of our nation’s military. Failing passage this month leaves the issue in the hands of the judiciary — and those cases will proceed.”

—  John Wright

DeLay, who warned U.S. would ‘go down’ because of gay marriage, is brought down by a lesbian

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg

If case you missed it, former House Republican Majority Leader Tom “the Hammer” DeLay was convicted Wednesday on felony charges of money laundering for illegally funneling corporate dollars into Texas state legislative races in 2002.

DeLay, who represented a Houston-area House district from 1984 to 2005, faces up to life in prison but says he will appeal the verdict.

DeLay had a decidedly anti-gay voting record in Congress, receiving the worst possible score of zero from the Human Rights Campaign in each of his last two sessions. A year before his indictment and resignation, DeLay spoke on the House floor in support of a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage:

“This nation knows that if you destroy marriage as the definition of one man and one woman, creating children so that we can transfer our values to those children and they can be raised in an ideal home, this country will go down,” DeLay said.

“So believe me, everybody in this country’s going to know how you voted today,” he said, his anger mounting with every word. “They’re going to know how you stood on the fundamental protection of marriage and the definition of marriage. And we will take it from here and we will come back, and we will come back, and we will come back. We will never give up. We will protect marriage in this country.”

Given DeLay’s record on gay rights, perhaps there’s some poetic justice to the fact that the district attorney who obtained the conviction, Rosemary Lehmberg, is an out and proud lesbian. Lehmberg, a Democrat, was elected to replace Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who initiated DeLay’s prosecution, after Earle retired in 2008. Before that, Lehmberg served as Earle’s first assistant for 10 years in the office that’s home to the state’s Public Integrity Unity, which is charged with investigating corruption in government.

Of course, DeLay’s prosecution had no more to do with Lehmberg’s sexual orientation than it did with her party affiliation, and none of the stories we’ve seen about his conviction even mention it.

Which is why we thought we would.

“I think that I serve as an individual who demonstrates that sexual orientation is not particularly relevant, except to your personal life, and therefore a lot of the homophobia and bias is unwarranted — the fear that people have,” Lehmberg told us following her election in 2008.

—  John Wright

WATCH: A new message from Lady Gaga to the U.S. Senate on ‘don’t ask don’t tell’

The video was apparently recorded Thursday night and posted early Friday morning on Lady Gaga’s official YouTube channel. Looks like she may have sent out this Tweet while recording the video:

Gaga addresses her 7 ½-minute video message to her fellow Americans, to the Senate and specifically to Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. She notes that 14,000 servicemembers have been discharged under DADT since it was passed in 1993.

“In short, not only is the law unconstitutional, but it’s not even being properly or fairly enforced by the government,” Gaga says. “Our fight is a continuum of the ever-present equal rights movement. Every day we fight to abolish laws that harbor hatred and discriminate against all people, laws that infringe on our civil liberties.

“I am here to be a voice for my generation, not the generation of the senators who are voting, but for the youth of this country, the generation that is affected by this law and whose children will be affected,” Gaga says. “We are not asking you to agree with or approve the moral implications of homosexuality. We’re asking you to do your job, to protect the Constitution. As Majority Leader Harry Reid said, anyone who is willing to fight for this country should have the same civil opportunity to do so as anyone else. It’s my belief that no one person is more valuable than another.”

Gaga goes on to talk about some of the veterans discharged under DADT she’s met through the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

“The most shocking discovery for me was to hear them all say how much they miss serving and protecting our nation, how they joined the Armed Forces because they believe in America,” Gaga says. “Senators, when you’re sending your men and women into war, when you’re sending our wives, husbands, sons and daughters into combat, will you honor their service? Will you support repealing this law on Tuesday and pledge to them that no American’s life is more valuable than another?”

At the end of the video Gaga calls the Capitol Switchboard and asks for the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York. After a dozen or so rings, she gets a busy signal. Then she tries Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, whose voice mailbox is full.

“I will not stop calling until I reach them and I can leave them this message,” Gaga says. “I am a constituent of the senator. My name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, also known as Lady Gaga. I’m calling to ask the senator to vote with Sens. Harry Reid and Carl Levin to repeal ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ and oppose John McCain’s shameless filibuster. We need to do this for our gay and lesbian soldiers and finally repeal ‘don’t ask don’t tell.’

“Try calling after 9 a.m. tomorrow morning,” Gaga says. “I’ll be on the phone, too. Thank you. God bless.”

The number for the Capitol switchb0ard is 202-224-3121.

—  John Wright

Sen. John Cornyn calls Reid’s plan for vote on DADT repeal ‘cynical and politically transparent’

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told The Hill on Tuesday that he believes Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to consider a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” as part of a defense spending bill  is “a cynical and politically transparent move.”

Cornyn didn’t say whether Republican senators plan to filibuster the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act over the DADT repeal provision, or whether he would join such a blockade.

“I know that leadership is asking members about their inclination, and I don’t know that that’s been whipped yet,” he told The Hill.

A spokesman for Cornyn, who’s never cast a single vote in support of LGBT equality, told Dallas Voice in June that he would oppose the DADT repeal measure.

“Sen. Cornyn believes that readiness must remain the highest priority of our military,” Cornyn spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said. “Right now, the Pentagon is studying how repealing DADT would affect military readiness, and this careful review is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Sen. Cornyn believes Congress should not to act on a possible repeal until that review has been completed.”

Cornyn has accepted an invitation to appear at the Log Cabin Republicans’ National Dinner in Washington later this month, and he has pledged to seek “common ground” with gay members of the GOP.

But if that common ground doesn’t include repealing a policy that 78 percent of Americans oppose, we’re at a loss as to where in hell it could possibly lie.

Actually, no we’re not. We’re pretty sure that by “common ground” Cornyn means “money” and “votes.” Talk about politically transparent!

—  John Wright