Posts tagged "DOMA Repeal"

EARTH TO TED CRUZ AND MIKE LEE: Your anti-marriage equality bill will fail big. 

H/T: CNN.com

WASHINGTON — U.S. Congressman Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) on Wednesday introduced the U.S. House version of the bipartisan “Protecting the Freedoms and Benefits for All Veterans Act,” aimed at ensuring LGBT veterans and their families receive equal treatment for equal service.

Currently LGBT veterans, spouses, and their families, depending on where they reside, can be denied survivor benefits, including death pensions, life insurance, educational assistance, bereavement counseling, spousal benefits, and flag burial honors.

The bill is a companion measure to legislation introduced earlier this year by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Kirsten Gillibrand. (D-N.Y.), who introduced the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013, named for New Hampshire National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan who died earlier this year after a battle with breast cancer.

The Senate version calls for additional benefits to be made available to all military spouses and families, regardless of sexual orientation, and a House version of that bill, the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013 (MSET), was re-introduced in February.

Under the proposed bills, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs would be required to honor any marriage that has been recognized by a state and provide a number of key benefits to the spouses of all service members.

h/t: LGBTQNation.com

h/t: Think Progress LGBT

h/t: Michelangelo Signorile at HuffPost Gay Voices

Concerned Women for America communications director Alison Howard joined CBN’s David Brody this week to talk about what it’s like to be a young person advocating against gay rights.

Howard told Brody that she sees the Supreme Court’s decision striking down a key part of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in light of Roe v. Wade in that both will somehow deprive the world of mothers and fathers.

"Forty years ago, our parents faced a very big decision in Roe v. Wade," Howard said. "They decided at that point to allow the Supreme Court, nine people in black robes, to step in and try to decide for the entire nation the right to abortion. Forty years later, we see the consequences, don’t we? We see men and women hurt, 55 million children lost. And we’re dealing with that as individuals and our families, knowing everyone has a story of someone they know who has been affected."

“For 55 million children lost, you think about how many moms and dads, potential moms and dads, there were there that lost their motherhood or their fatherhood,” she added.

She predicted that the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision would create the same kind of “pain.”

“Conservatives and christians,” she said, will “have to deal with this, in 40 years maybe, the pain that comes from this, of what we have to deal with with children and hurt women and hurt men.”

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

h/t: Washington Blade

Breitbart.com editor-at-large and all-around homophobe Ben Shapiro is convinced that the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will result in the IRS rescinding non-profit tax exemptions from churches across the country - a delusional horror story that has no basis in reality.

[…]

A few things to note here:

1. The DOMA Decision Had Nothing To Do With Tax Exempt Statuses For Churches. The Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. United States dealt exclusively with whether the federal government should be allowed to deny federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in their state. Allowing married gay couples to file joint tax returns has nothing at all to do with whether churches are required to perform same-sex weddings to maintain their tax exemptions.

2. Every State With Marriage Equality Already Has Exemptions For Churches. In every single state that’s legalized marriage equality, churches are exempt from having to perform same-sex weddings. No church in America has ever been forced to perform a same-sex wedding. Laws like DOMA only deal with the civil definition of marriage, not the religious celebration of weddings.

Still, to support his claim, Shapiro cites two incidents.

The first is the 1983 Supreme Court decision in Bob Jones University v. United States, in which a religious school lost its tax exempt status due to its ban on interracial dating. What Shapiro fails to mention is that the decision explicitly excluded churches from its scope:

We deal here only with religious schools - not with churches or other purely religious institutions.

Shapiro also cites the 2006 case of Boston Catholic Charities, which voluntarily withdrew from adoption services rather than serve same-sex couples. Again, that incident didn’t deal with a church, and has been debunked for a number of other reasons.

Shapiro joins a long line of conservative commentators in confusing civil marriage with religious marriage ceremonies, as well as confusing marriage laws with anti-discrimination laws

SCOTUS, your goals on the 2 big LGBTQ rights cases this week: Overturn DOMA and Prop 8.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who has faced mounting pressure in recent days to join the rapidly growing number of marriage-equality supporters, announced today that he now is in favor of the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act — and full marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy and civil-rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed,” Casey said in a statement exclusively first released to PGN Monday afternoon.

Casey previously backed civil unions for same-sex couples and has said he opposes constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. He has supported pro-LGBT measures such as the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Casey said this week that he began to reassess his position on marriage equality in 2011 when the Respect for Marriage Act, which would lift DOMA, was introduced for the first time in the Senate.

“I began to focus on the issue of same-sex marriage much more intensely than I had before,” he said.

Part of that process included considering feedback from LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families, Casey said.

Efforts to press the senator on his position ramped up last week as the U.S. Supreme Court held hearings on a challenge to DOMA and to California’s ban on same-sex marriage. A number of other senators announced they had evolved on marriage equality in the past few days.

Last week, Equality Pennsylvania, Keystone Progress and MoveOn.org launched a major push to get Casey on board, which backers said generated more than 10,000 phone calls, emails and letters from Pennsylvanians urging the senator to support marriage equality.

Casey, a Catholic, acknowledged that his new position may not be universally applauded — but said the issue of equality should be one that people of all parties and background can support.

“I understand that many Americans of good will have strong feelings on both sides of this issue,” he said. “I believe elected public officials have an abiding obligation to refrain from demonizing and dividing people for partisan or political gain. Rather, Democrats and Republicans should come together and find areas of agreement to do what’s best for the country, including lesbian and gay Americans.”

h/t: EPGN.com

During oral arguments this morning, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts appeared to at least entertain the argument by House Republicans that gays and lesbians are too politically powerful for constitutional protection.

Roberts suggested that gays and lesbians must be “politically powerful” because politicians are “falling all over themselves” to endorse gay marriage, according to a tweet by Mother Jones’ Adam Serwer. The brief by Paul Clement, who represented the House of Representatives in defending DOMA, had reasoned that gays and lesbians are winning political battles and “have the attention of lawmakers,” an absurd claim since the “power” assertion is factually inaccurate, and because such an argument would also cancel out protections for racial minorities and women.

Roberts and his fellow conservatives also expressed concern over the White House’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, with Kennedy calling it “very troubling” and Justice Antonin Scalia criticizing the Justice Department’s “new regime.”

By contrast, several of the court’s liberal justices expressed alarm over the impact of DOMA’s actual deprivation of federal marriage benefits on gays and lesbians, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg calling the rights left for married couples after DOMA “skim milk” and questioning, “What kind of marriage is this?” Justice Elena Kagan, meanwhile, pointed to evidence from a House of Representatives report that lawmakers passed DOMA with improper motives. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the likely swing vote, repeatedly expressed a different concern with DOMA — that it impinged on state definitions of marriage.

H/T: Think Progress

Hooray!

The Supreme Court will today hear oral arguments in the case against the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that denies equal federal benefits to couples who are legally married under state law and also burdens families and the federal government.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that DOMA increases the deficit by roughly$1 billion a year, and while that amount is small, striking it down would save far more than ending subsidies to NPR or some of the other “deficit reduction” ideas Republicans have pursued in the past.

Those savings would come from numerous sources. Tax revenues would rise by more than $400 million a year, and though costs on programs like Social Security and federal benefits would increase, costs for safety net programs like Medicare, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and other programs would go down.

That’s significant, because the largest benefit from recognizing same-sex marriages comes from what it would do for individual couples and families. Same-sex couples aren’t allowed to file joint taxes, which prohibits them from claiming some tax credits and deductions that would benefit their families. They also aren’t eligible for spousal health, Social Security, or federal pension benefits, making it harder for some LGBT families to make ends meet. Older LGBT couples are more likely to live in poverty than married heterosexual seniors, which is why ending DOMA would reduce costs for programs like Medicaid and SSI — access to spousal benefits would lift many LGBT Americans out of poverty and off of the social safety net.

Striking down DOMA is important primarily to provide LGBT Americans equal protection under the law. But it’s also important because it will benefit the American economy by helping businesses, reducing the deficit, and lifting people out of poverty.

h/t: Travis Waldron at Think Progress Economy

One day after considering whether states may ban gay marriage, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday on a separate case about whether the federal government may deny equal marriage benefits to same sex couples legally wed in their state.

The case involves Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same sex marriage, thereby denying married gay and lesbian couples the tax, retirement and immigration benefits that straight couples are afforded.

Like opponents of California’s ban on gay marriage, opponents of DOMA say it’s invalid under the Constitution’s equal protection clause. And the case also provides justices an escape route to dismiss it without ruling on the merits. But DOMA may be met with more skepticism with this conservative-leaning Supreme Court because it clashes with states’ rights.

There are three possible outcomes to the case, according to legal scholars.

First, the Court could uphold DOMA by determining that the federal government has a legitimate interest in treating straight and gay couples differently. The would continue the status quo unless and until Congress repeals the law.

Second, the Court could strike down DOMA upon deciding that married same-sex couples are entitled to the same treatment as married opposite-sex couples. That would provide tax and retirement benefits to gay and lesbian couples and let Americans sponsor a gay partner from another country for legal permanent residency.

Third, the Court could conclude that the case lacks standing and send it back to the lower courts for a do-over. The case is unique in that the White House has refused to defend a federal law, leaving the task to House Republicans. If a majority of justices decide that the House majority is not a proper party to defend this, the Court could punt the decision.

As was the case on Prop 8, the likely swing justice is Anthony Kennedy, who has written the Supreme Court’s two key opinions in favor of gay rights. He appeared hesitant Tuesday to impose marriage equality on all states but gay rights advocates are confident that Kennedy will side with them and strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

H/T: Sahil Kapur at TPM