Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 37 / 14 September 2017

Dream on


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The 800,000 or so Dreamers have good reason to be worried about their future legal status since the Trump administration announced that it is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months unless Congress acts to address it. A week after many Republican lawmakers made a public show of support for the young people affected, it appears they are not serious about crafting legislation to continue DACA. Democrats are also pushing for rescuing DACA, but of course, they do not control Congress and bipartisan cooperation is lacking.

More alarming, the New York Times reported that, if anything, advocates for immigrants brought to this country as children may risk losing momentum for their cause. Representative Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) told the paper that President Donald Trump should have ordered an immediate phase-out. "That would really put pressure on Congress to put DACA right at the top of the agenda," he said.

Instead, Trump gave Congress six months and Congress has moved on to other matters like hurricane relief and tax reform. Planned hearings on DACA have been postponed and replaced by other priorities.

Meanwhile, DACA recipients are forced to make decisions for an uncertain future. Those who are eligible must decide whether to renew by the October 5 deadline, and those who are not must prepare to uproot their lives to suddenly leave the only country many of them have ever known.

This is not what America is about.

Republican lawmakers who just last week promised quick work are missing in action. They must prioritize DACA and work with Democrats to get legislation passed.

Unfortunately, the situation is par for the course in Trumpland. DACA recipients deserve better. Once again, the president got what he wanted: chaos, confusion, and fear among people he doesn't care about.


Edie Windsor, RIP

On the long, winding road to achieving marriage equality, the LGBT community owes a debt of gratitude to a spunky woman who wouldn't take no for an answer. Edie Windsor, who died Tuesday at the age of 88, fought for her rights and won one of the most significant U.S. Supreme Court victories for same-sex couples. Two years before same-sex marriage became legal nationwide, Windsor's successful lawsuit against the U.S. government overturned a key provision of the hideous Defense of Marriage Act and enabled many same-sex couples to finally receive many federal benefits to which they were entitled.

The case started after the death of Windsor's first wife, Thea Spyer, in 2009. Windsor was the sole beneficiary of Spyer's estate via a revocable trust that required her to pay $363,000 in federal taxes. Had the U.S. government recognized the validity of their marriage, Windsor would have qualified for an unlimited spousal deduction and owed no federal income taxes. She sought to claim the federal deduction but was prevented by DOMA. In 2010, she sued the federal government.

At the time, LGBT legal organizations were not unified in how to proceed in getting rid of Section 3 of DOMA, which applied to Windsor's case, and DOMA repeal was going nowhere in Congress. But Windsor persevered with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and private attorney Roberta Kaplan, who successfully argued on her behalf before the U.S. Supreme Court. In June 2013, the justices ruled that DOMA's Section 3 was unconstitutional.

The decision is significant not only because Windsor won her tax case, but also because of all the other federal benefits that became available to same-sex couples, mostly regarding Social Security and retirement. Immigration was affected by the ruling, and attorneys immediately began assisting married binational same-sex couples with applications for permanent residence status for the foreign-born partners. It increased the rights and benefits for gay and lesbian federal employees and veterans.

The DOMA decision spurred action in the many states that, at the time, had same-sex marriage bans on their books. Ultimately, that led to shifts in public opinion as more Americans began to support marriage equality. By the time that the same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges reached the high court in 2015, same-sex marriage was seen in most areas of the country as no big deal. (The South being an exception.)

Windsor put herself out there and bravely withstood the media spotlight. Press coverage was positive: people saw her as an older American who just wanted what straight couples took for granted. After her victory, Windsor remained active in the New York LGBT community. She lived her later life out and proud and will go down in history as a champion for equality.




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