Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 44 / 30 October 2014
 

Breaking: High court delay ‘not unusual,’ Prop 8 attorney says

Marriage equality supporters on the West Coast were up early this morning, awaiting a possible decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on whether to accept for argument the federal Proposition 8 case, but when the court posted its list of cases at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time, there was no mention of that case or several others involving the Defense of Marriage Act.

One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case said that the delay was “not unusual.”
The U.S. Supreme Court once again delayed indicating whether it will hear one or more of 10 petitions before it concerning same-sex marriage.

Attorney Theodore Olson (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Many legal observers expected to learn Monday that the court refused to hear an appeal concerning Prop 8 and an appeal concerning Arizona’s law banning equal benefits for the domestic partners of gay state employees. Both a federal district court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have ruled that Prop 8, passed by California voters four years ago, is unconstitutional. The appeals court put a stay on its decision pending review by the Supreme Court.

But when Monday’s orders list appeared, neither those cases nor any of the eight petitions concerning the Defense of Marriage Act were on it.

[Updated: Later in the morning, the Supreme Court website indicated the justices have rescheduled – or re-listed – all 10 petitions for its next scheduled conference meeting, Friday, December 7.]

Veteran Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston speculated recently that the announcement of a decision not to take up the Prop 8 case could take longer than usual because some justices might be writing dissents from the court’s decision not to review the lower court decision.

Four justices must agree to hear a case in order for it to be taken up for review by the Supreme Court.
A decision not to take up the Prop 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, will mean that same-sex couples will again be able to obtain marriage licenses in California within just a few days – a major development legally and politically. Officials in San Francisco and Los Angeles have been actively preparing for what they expect to be thousands of same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses, since November 2008 when a voter approved initiative amended the state constitution to stop allowing same-sex marriages in the state.

It would also mean that California, the most populous state in the nation, would become the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to enable same-sex couples to marry. That adds up to 28 percent of the U.S. population living in a jurisdiction where same-sex couples can marry.

Of equal concern is how the court will eventually decide to take up the appeals of decisions from three U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal that have struck down DOMA as unconstitutional. The high court could potentially take none, but most legal experts say it is almost certain to accept one or more of the five cases.

In a less visible case, the court has also been asked to hear a case from Arizona, Brewer v. Diaz, challenging a state law that bans equal benefits for gay state employees and their domestic partners.

Gay legal activists are studiously resisting the temptation to speculate about the amount of time the court is taking to decide whether to take any of the cases.

The justices were first scheduled to discuss the cases in conference in late September. That conference was re-scheduled for mid-November and then re-scheduled again for November 30.

Theodore Olson, part of the high-profile legal team that has been successfully challenging Prop 8, said Monday that it’s “not unusual for complex cases to be re-listed,” or be discussed by the justices in more than one of their private conferences.

[Updated: The court could conceivably issue an orders list on any of these cases Friday, following its conference meeting, or next Monday as part of its routine orders list issuance.]

The court could conceivably issue another orders list any day now. It is next scheduled to discuss cases Friday, December 7, and, if it takes one or more of the marriage-related cases, it would likely issue an orders list on Friday. The court’s calendar suggests that, if one or more of the cases is accepted for review, it will likely be argued in late March but could be argued as late as April 24.

- Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, December 3, 2012 @ 8:36 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Episcopal bishop detained at Cordileone installation

There were protests outside St. Mary’s Cathedral today when Salvatore Cordileone was installed as archbishop of the San Francisco Archdiocese and it seems there was controversy inside the church as well when the Right Reverend Marc Andrus, Episcopal bishop of California, was escorted to a basement room and detained until the 2 p.m. service began.

Andrus was an invited guest to the installation, an elaborate affair celebrating the beginning of Cordileone’s tenure as head of the Catholic Church in San Francisco. According to a news release posted on the Episcopal Diocese’s website, Andrus was not allowed to be seated.

Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

“He was escorted to a basement room at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and detained by an usher until the time the service began, whereupon Bishop Andrus left the cathedral,” the news release stated.

Andrus was an opponent of Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban. Cordileone was a strong supporter of the measure.

On Monday, Andrus wrote a blog post about the impending installation and said that while he and Cordileone share concerns for the treatment of immigrants to this country and reforming U.S. immigration policies, the two differ on the issue of marriage equality.

“Bishop Cordileone was an active supporter of Proposition 8, which I and the other Episcopal bishops throughout California opposed,” Andrus wrote in the October 1 post that was called a letter to the diocese. “Despite this difference of opinion and support, I look forward to working with archbishop-designate Cordileone … Christianity has a long tradition of the faithful disagreeing with one another yet working together for common mission for the building of the Reign of God.”

Andrus’s post generated a headline on the Catholic News Agency’s website Thursday, “Episcopal bishop gives Archbishop Cordileone frosty welcome.” The story went on to report about Andrus’s October 1 letter, noting that he characterized Catholic Church teaching on marriage as “oppression.”

In fact, Andrus did state, “We can and must both work together for the world’s good, and it is equally important, as I say in most of my blessings at the conclusion of the Eucharist, that ‘we make no peace with oppression.’ The recognition of the dignity and rights, within civil society and the church of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered people, and of women are as core to our proclamation of the Gospel as our solidarity with the poor, with victims of violence and political oppression, and with the Earth.”

Andrus went on to state that he would not “change my course with regard to the full inclusion of all people in the full life of the church. I hope that public disagreements can be handled respectfully and that criticisms of public statements may be met with mutual respect.”

It looks like that didn’t happen at Cordileone’s installation.

George Wesolek, communications director for the archdiocese, told the Bay Area Reporter late Thursday afternoon that he did not know about the Andrus incident.

“I don’t know anything about that,” he said, adding that he should have more information Friday.

The B.A.R. will update this post when we receive more information.

[Updated 10/5/12: On Friday, there were conflicting accounts of what happened.

Wesolek said that Andrus came in to the cathedral before the 2 p.m. installation but after the rest of the interfaith delegation had been seated. Andrus was asked to wait in a conference room under the cathedral that was being used as a staging area for clergy.

Wesolek said they were trying to "figure out a way to get him up there without disrupting the service."

However, when they came back down to the conference room Andrus had left.

Andrus said, in an October 5 blog post, that he was dropped off at the cathedral by his assistant at 1:30 p.m. and was in the lower level conference room at 1:40. His assistant had been instructed by the archdiocese to have Andrus there by 1:45.

"I identified myself to an assistant to the archbishop, who spoke to someone through a headset, saying, "Bishop Andrus is here."

Andrus said that several members of the Greek Orthodox delegation were in the conference room. As an archdiocesan employee tried to escort Andrus up to the cathedral with the Greek Orthodox delegation they were stopped by another employee, who instructed yet another employee to wait with Andrus.

"At this point no other guests remained in the downstairs area," Andrus wrote. "The employee and I chatted while waiting. I began to wonder about the time holdup. I checked my phone; it was 1:50 p.m. I asked the employee standing with me if the service indeed started at 2, which she affirmed."

At 2 p.m. when the service started Andrus was still standing with the employee.

"I think I understand, and feel I should leave," Andrus said to the woman. Her response was, "Thank you for being understanding."

Andrus said he walked out the door. No tried to stop him.

"No attempt was ever made to explain the delay or any process for seating. I arrived early, before the time given my assistant, and waited to leave until after the service had begin," Andrus wrote.

Wesolek said, "it just wasn't the case" that Andrus was denied seating.

"We've had a relationship with him," Wesolek said, adding that it's the archdiocese's intention "to work this out and to apologize for any misunderstanding."

Joe Murray, executive director of the Rainbow Sash Movement, an LGBT Catholic organization, called the treatment of Andrus "disrespectful."

"This is a perfect example of how extreme Cordileone can get when people in the interfaith community don't agree with his judgments of LGBTs in general and gay marriage in particular," Murray said in a statement. [End of update.]

— Cynthia Laird, October 4, 2012 @ 4:40 pm PST
Filed under: News


School board candidate lands big endorsements

Richard Fuentes, an openly gay Oakland resident who’s running for a seat on the city’s school board, this week announced three big endorsements for his campaign.

At a fundraising brunch Sunday, August 26, at La Borinquene Mexican Delicatessen, Fuentes told the crowd that he has been endorsed by Oakland Teachers Association. He also introduced the president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, Barry Donelan, who said that his group has endorsed Fuentes.

Candidate Richard Fuentes (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

On his Facebook page today, Fuentes posted that he received the endorsement of the East Bay Young Democrats.

Fuentes, 30, works as a legislative aide for Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who was at the event and praised him as the type of leader the financially strapped school district needs.

“He’s committed to education, in this case obviously, schoolchildren,” De La Fuente said. “I’m 100 percent behind Richard.”

He added that Fuentes, who was 26 when he interviewed for the council staff job four years ago, has grown while working at City Hall and that the school district faces many challenges with which Fuentes can help.

“He’s running to move them forward,” the councilman added.

For his part, Fuentes told the audience that as the president of the Hoover Elementary School Site Council and a leader in the school’s PTA group, he has worked to transform the school. Wanting to get students off the street and into classrooms, Hoover now has a truancy center, Fuentes said. He also has a science and technology initiative and is “very focused on teacher retention.”

“We laid off no teachers” at Hoover, he said, referencing the school board’s decision earlier this year to close five campuses.

During his remarks, Donelan said that the police officers union does not usually get involved in school board races.

“What we’re looking for here is leadership. The OPOA unequivocally endorses Richard for school board,” Donelan said.

Fuentes is challenging incumbent Jumoke Hinton-Hodge in District 3, which includes the West Oakland neighborhood. His platform includes reducing the drop-out rate and increasing classroom funding.

Fuentes’s boyfriend is Sean Sullivan, who is running for the District 3 City Council seat. De La Fuente is locked in a race for the council’s at-large seat against lesbian incumbent Rebecca Kaplan.

— Cynthia Laird, August 30, 2012 @ 10:58 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Group seeks entries for queer music fest

Now in its fourth year, the Bring Your Own Queer music festival that will take place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park next month is now accepting entries from visual, performance, and interactive artists, as well as installation pieces.

The free festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 15 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Music Concourse between the deYoung and California Academy of Sciences museums in the park. The event celebrates San Francisco- and California-based queer artists in electronic music, live music, performance art, and drag.

DJ Steve Fabus

Several acts have already been confirmed, including DJ Steve Fabus, currently the resident at Go Bang in the city, Carrie (OnDisco), Guy Ruben, and performance artist La Chica Boom. Edaj, who was a grand marshal in June’s LGBT Pride Parade, is also scheduled to perform.

Organizers said that they have waged a successful Kickstarter campaign that has brought in more than $4,000. BYOQ, a fiscally sponsored project of Intersection for the Arts, is also accepting donations.

Those wishing to respond to the call for entries should go to http://www.byoq.org/callforentries/index.html. The deadline is Wednesday, August 15. Selected entries will be awarded a modest stipend to help offset costs of creating or installing artwork on location.

For more information about the festival, visit www.byoq.org.

— Cynthia Laird, August 9, 2012 @ 1:33 pm PST
Filed under: Arts,News


Breaking: Orr leaving EQCA

Equality California spokeswoman Rebekah Orr is leaving the statewide LGBT lobbying organization next week, Orr confirmed today.

The departure of a communications staffer would typically be a minor development, but Orr has essentially been the only public face of EQCA since October 2011, when former Executive Director Roland Palencia abruptly resigned. Palencia had joined EQCA just three months beforehand.

The organization has an interim executive director, Laurie Hasencamp, but she rarely speaks to the media and it’s never been clear what exactly she’s doing with the organization.

Orr said she’s joining Goodwin-Simon Strategic Research, a firm that’s worked closely with EQCA.

EQCA spokeswoman Rebekah Orr (Photo: Rex Wockner)

“For quite some time, I’ve wanted to work more on the research side of communications work, and I had the opportunity to do that with Amy Simon, and so that wasn’t an opportunity I felt like I could pass up,” Orr said. Her last day with EQCA will be Friday, August 10.

Orr said her replacement hasn’t yet been selected.

EQCA also appears to be nowhere near choosing a new executive director.

“The board is in the same position it has been in,” she said.

EQCA’s board of directors “would like to bring someone on as soon as possible, but it doesn’t have a specific timeline. … The board is going to take whatever time it needs to make the right choice,” she said.

It is unknown how many candidates have applied for the ED position or how many have been interviewed.

“I’m not in a position to say how many people are being interviewed,” she said.

Candidates are being vetted “on a rolling basis as applications come in,” she explained. “At some point, the search committee will make some recommendations to the full board about a set of candidates to interview … or even to hire.”

Orr has recently said that EQCA’s finances are improving, but the group appears to have struggled to find direction after the 2011 departure of longtime Executive Director Geoff Kors. EQCA dodged a bullet last month when anti-gay groups failed to gather enough signatures to force an initiative on the November ballot to repeal the state’s new law mandating that public schools have curriculum about historical contributions of LGBT and disabled Americans. Had the initiative been on the ballot, it would have meant the likelihood of an expensive statewide campaign at a time when many LGBT organizations throughout California are struggling financially.

Asked why EQCA doesn’t just shut down, Orr laughed and said, “Really? Isn’t there work to do? Isn’t there work to do for the LGBT community in California? I mean, the organization has been experiencing a lot of challenges, but the reality is it’s considerably more stable today than it was a year ago.”

She pointed to current EQCA-backed legislation such as Senate Bill 1172, which would outlaw so-called reparative therapy designed to turn gay people straight.

But now that Orr is leaving, it’s unclear who will step in to help organize supporters of SB 1172 and other gay- and AIDS-related legislation and make sure that news about such legislation is disseminated.

[Updated 8/6/12: Orr said Monday that while she supervises EQCA's social media work, it is and will continue to be managed directly by Shaun Osburn, deputy director of online communications. As for organizing supporters for various legislative work. Orr said that will be a team effort.

"Alice Kessler works to secure witnesses to provide testimony at bill hearings and secure letters of support from key individuals and organizations for each bill," Orr said in an email Monday. "Our communications team creates online action alerts, emails, videos, infographics, and other social media to drive letters to legislative offices."

Additionally, EQCA's field staff "goes out into the community and talks to voters every day about the legislative work we are doing and collects postcards in support of our work, which are then delivered to legislative offices," Orr added.

Supporters may also work with EQCA to call or visit legislators, she said.

EQCA is not the only organization supporting SB 1172, which is expected to be voted on in the Assembly later this month. Co-sponsors include the Courage Campaign; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; and Gaylesta, a group made up of LGBT therapists.]

- Reported by Seth Hemmelgarn

— Cynthia Laird, August 2, 2012 @ 1:14 pm PST
Filed under: News


De La Fuente to challenge Kaplan for Oakland council seat

Seeking to “put to rest” rumors and speculation, Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente announced this afternoon that he will challenge incumbent councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, an out lesbian, for the city’s at-large seat.

De La Fuente has represented District 5, which includes the Fruitvale and Glenview neighborhoods, for 20 years. At a news conference on the steps of City Hall called to make his announcement, De La Fuente suggested that with three new members set to be elected in November, the City Council could be reinvigorated. And he could continue to represent Oakland by winning the citywide council seat.

City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente announces his candidacy for the at-large seat. (photo:Elliot Owen)

“Three new councilmembers will be elected in November and I can tell you we need that change,” he said.

There are open seats in Districts 1, 3, and, with De La Fuente’s announcement, District 5. Two gay men, Sean Sullivan and Alex Miller-Cole, are running among several candidates in District 3, which includes Jack London Square and West Oakland.

Kaplan, the council’s only gay member, was thought to have a smooth path to re-election in November. But that was upended this month when rumors started swirling that De La Fuente would give up his seat and seek the at-large position.

Taking questions from reporters after his prepared remarks, De La Fuente insisted he was not running against Kaplan, and was not seeking to oust her because she is gay.

“I hope people go back to my record,” he said. “I was the first to support domestic partners. I’m not running against anybody.”

De La Fuente said the top issue is public safety. Oakland’s police force has shrunk in recent years as the city has struggled with budget deficits. De La Fuente said that the council should authorize new tools. Those include gang injunctions, which have been obtained in parts of the city but which remain very controversial; curfews; and anti-loitering ordinances.

“Crime and violence are major issues,” he said. He said that the current City Council has been “stuck on philosophical debates” while murder and violent crime continue rising all over the city. As of Monday 63 people have been killed in Oakland, according to his statement.

De La Fuente was joined at his news conference by City Councilwoman Desley Brooks and former at-large councilman Henry Chang. Oakland school board member Noel Gallo, who is running for De La Fuente’s Fruitvale seat, was also in attendance. De La Fuente said he endorses Gallo in that race.

Kaplan fired off her own news release Thursday morning touting the endorsements of Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Nurses Association, and the Sierra Club.

“Oakland is on the rise,” she said in the statement. “And I’m looking forward to continuing our work to get illegal guns off the streets, create jobs in our city, and revitalize our neighborhoods.”

Kaplan will host a breakfast fundraiser with local business leaders Wednesday, August 1 from 8 to 10 a.m. at Miss Pearl’s, 1 Broadway in Jack London Square. Tickets start at $75. For more information, visit www.kaplanforoakland.org.

— Cynthia Laird, July 26, 2012 @ 3:04 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics


SF vigil for Texas teens shot near Corpus Christi

Organizers are planning a vigil in San Francisco for Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at Jane Warner Plaza Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro after two out lesbian Texas teens were shot over the weekend in a park outside Corpus Christi

Local organizer Jason Haas phoned the Bay Area Reporter Tuesday afternoon with information about the June 27 vigil. Haas said people are asked to bring signs and flowers. He also said that local leaders have been invited to attend.

Mary Christine Chapa and Mollie Judith Olgin

According to a report in the Dallas Voice, Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, was found dead and Mary Christine Chapa, 18, was rushed to a hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery and was listed in stable condition Tuesday.

The lesbian couple had been together about five months. They were found by visitors to Violet Andrews Park in Portland, Texas at about 9 a.m. Saturday, June 23. Both had gunshot wounds to the head from a large-caliber handgun, the Voice reported.

Police believe the shooting happened around midnight Friday. Portland Police Chief Randy Wright told MSNBC that investigators believe the shootings were committed by a third party but are unsure whether they are related to the young women’s sexual orientation

— Cynthia Laird, June 26, 2012 @ 3:49 pm PST
Filed under: News


Breaking: 9th Circuit refuses further review of Prop 8

The full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused Tuesday (June 5) to review a panel’s decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

The refusal means almost certainly that proponents of California’s ban on same-sex marriage will soon file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

With last week’s 1st Circuit decision striking a core section of the Defense of Marriage Act also heading to the nation’s highest court, it is now likely the Supreme Court will have two major same-sex marriage cases on its docket in October. The 9th Circuit case, if accepted, would ask whether states can ban same-sex couples from obtaining a marriage license; the 1st Circuit case, if accepted, would ask whether the federal government can refuse to recognize marriages licensed by states to same-sex couples.

The three-paragraph order stated that the request for a full court review “failed to receive a majority of the votes” of active judges. It also noted that the mandate would be stayed for 90 days to enable proponents of Prop 8 to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Accompanying the order was a dissent from three circuit court judges. It said the refusal for appeal “has silenced” a “respectful conversation” about the same-sex marriage issue. It called the 2-1 panel decision striking Prop 8 a “gross misapplication” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Romer v. Evans. In that case, the Supreme Court said states could not pass laws that excluded gays from protection just because gays are an unpopular group.

The panel decision, said the dissenters, “have now declared that animus must have been the only conceivable motivation for a sovereign state to have remained committed to a definition of marriage that has existed for millennia.”

Proponents of Prop 8 filed the 9th Circuit full court appeal, asking it to overturn a decision by a three-judge panel of the circuit in February. That panel decision found that California’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the federal constitution by stripping from same-sex couples a right they had (to marry) prior to passage of Prop 8. In order for a limited en banc (full) panel of 11 judges to have heard the appeal, at least 14 of the circuit’s 26 active judges would have had to say another review is warranted.

Attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

The case is Perry v. Brown, led by famed conservative attorney Theodore Olson and preeminent liberal attorney David Boies and organized and funded by the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
In that case, two same-sex couples sued after being denied marriage licenses once the voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage went into effect.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled, in August 2010, that banning same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses violates the federal Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. He agreed to delay enforcement of the decision, pending an appeal by Yes on 8 attorneys to the 9th Circuit.

In February, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, in a 2-1 vote, upheld Walker’s decision. But in doing so, the panel explained that Prop 8 improperly removed from a group of citizens (gays) a right they already enjoyed (marriage). The California Supreme Court had ruled, in May 2008, that the state constitution required that same-sex couples be able to obtain marriage licenses the same as straight couples. But in November of that year, voters approved Prop 8, amending the state constitution to explicitly ban the recognition of same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples who had been allowed to wed between June and Election Day 2008 remain legally married in California, but other same-sex couples could no longer marry.

While attorneys and activists uniformly called the February 7 panel decision a major victory, the decision did stop short of saying that same-sex partners, like straight partners, have a “fundamental right to marry.” Instead, it said Prop 8 deprived same-sex partners only of the “right to use the designation of ‘marriage.’” If it had ruled same-sex couples had a fundamental right to marry, said Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund’s legal director Jon Davidson, “the marriage laws of 44 states would have been cast into doubt …” And by rendering such a relatively narrow ruling, said Davidson and others, the panel reduced the likelihood the U.S. Supreme Court would take the case.

“The fundamental right to marry, as protected by the U.S. Constitution,” said Williams Institute legal scholar Jenny Pizer, “has to have the same contours throughout the country. So a decision concluding that same-sex couples have the same fundamental right as different-sex couples would call into question all the marriage restrictions states currently impose.”

- Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, June 5, 2012 @ 10:22 am PST
Filed under: News


Obama, Pelosi issue Pride statements

President Barack Obama today issued his annual proclamation declaring June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month just as Pride parades and festivals get under way in cities across the country.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) also issued a Pride Month video (http://tinyurl.com/6m8wypg) in which she recounts the “dark days” of the Stonewall riots and other setbacks, noting that progress has been made since then.

In his proclamation, Obama starts out by noting that ordinary Americans “have led a proud and inexorable march toward freedom, fairness, and full equality under the law.”

President Barack Obama, shown in Redwood City last month, issued a Pride Month proclamation Friday. (Photo: Lydia Gonzales)

“The LGBT community has written a proud chapter in the fundamentally American story. From brave men and women who came out and spoke out to union and faith leaders who rallied for equality to activists and advocates who challenged unjust laws and marched on Washington, LGBT Americans and allies have achieved what once seemed inconceivable. This month, we reflect on their enduring legacy, celebrate the movement that has made progress possible, and recommit to securing the fullest blessings of freedom for all Americans,” the proclamation reads.

Obama also describes how his administration has worked to broaden opportunity, advance equality, and level the playing field for LGBT people and communities. That includes passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; action to end housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and expanding hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients and their loved ones. And of course, Obama mentions the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that had prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

The proclamation also makes note of Obama’s historic statement last month that he supports marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“And because we must treat others the way we want to be treated, I personally believe in marriage equality for same-sex couples,” the proclamation states.

The proclamation calls upon the country to “eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.”

In her video message, Pelosi also mentions recent achievements such as the repeal of DADT, which “took its rightful place in the dustbin of history.”

“President Obama made it the policy of his administration to no longer defend the shameful Defense of Marriage Act,” Pelosi added.

Pelosi noted that more needs to be done, including ending workplace discrimination.

“We must protect and preserve the rights of all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation,” she said.

— Cynthia Laird, June 1, 2012 @ 3:41 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Breaking: Court rules DOMA unconstitutional

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the core part of the Defense of Marriage Act, barring federal recognition of marriages of same-sex couples, is unconstitutional.

The panel said that, under simple rational review of the law, the same-sex couples seeking to overturn DOMA, “cannot prevail.” But, the panel also said that the principles of equal protection and federalism implicated together by DOMA “require a closer than usual review based in part on discrepant impact among married couples and in part on the importance of state interests in regulating marriage.”

The panel decided that an earlier 1st Circuit decision on a case challenging “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” “has already declined” to grant “suspect classification” to laws based on “sexual preference.” And the panel said it was neither empowered nor willing to “create such a new suspect classification for same-sex relationships.”

But citing Romer v. Evans and other U.S. Supreme Court precedents, and noting that the denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples married in Massachusetts “does burden the choice of states … to regulate the rules and incidents of marriage,” the court said Section 3 cannot stand.

-Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, May 31, 2012 @ 8:38 am PST
Filed under: News


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