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Posts tagged "Defense Of Marriage Act"

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Fighting & WInning Against Proposition 8

On August 19, 2009, Jo Becker of the Times wrote a front-page profile of Ted Olson, the most well-known and highly regarded conservative lawyer in the country, who had filed a federal lawsuit challenging California’s Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage. Olson said that he hoped to take the argument to the Supreme Court, to seek a ruling that the Constitution guaranteed every gay and lesbian the right to marry. What’s more, Olson was joined in the lawsuit by one of the most prominent left-leaning attorneys in the country, David Boies, who had been Olson’s opposing counsel in Bush v. Gore. Boies, like Olson, is straight. Becker quoted Paul Katami, one of the gay plaintiffs in the California case, describing how Olson “put his arm around me and said, ‘We’re going to plan your wedding in a couple of years—this is going to happen.’ ”

I remember reading the story at the time and thinking, “This is clever.” A lot of people who were not in favor of same-sex marriage—or who weren’t even thinking about it, as it was only allowed in five states—might now seriously consider the issue. If two of the best lawyers in America, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, joined forces, and had resources comparable to those that they enjoyed when battling on behalf of corporate clients, it seemed like they had a real chance of convincing the Supreme Court that the Constitution did guarantee a right to marry.

The story was so intriguing to Becker that she covered it, full time, for almost five years, arranging with the plaintiffs and their lawyers to obtain unrestricted access to them during the case, on the condition that she not publish the complete story until after it was over. Her book, “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” will be released on Tuesday. (I was interviewed for the book.)

The book focuses on Chad Griffin, a Los Angeles political consultant, Hollywood fund-raiser, and former staffer in the Clinton White House (where he and I briefly worked together). Soon after the passage of Proposition 8, in November, 2008, the idea of hiring Olson was serendipitously suggested to Griffin by an acquaintance of one of his clients, who happened to drop in on their lunch one day at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Griffin was pained by the success of the anti-gay initiative and, like a good public-relations man, he knew better than to pass up a headline-grabbing idea. Olson, much to Griffin’s surprise, was more than eager to take up a challenge to what he regarded as the violation of a constitutionally guaranteed right to marry. Olson and Griffin decided to enlist a liberal co-counsel, to help convince gay-rights groups that their plan was not a sinister anti-gay scheme. After their first two choices declined, Boies agreed to sign on—Becker suggests that Boies liked the case from the start, in part because “its history-making potential and odd-couple story line was sure to garner huge amounts of press interest.” (The lawyers and their backers were so sure of this that they not only arranged for Becker to have behind-the-scenes access, they also had a documentary film crew and an award-winning photographer chronicle the story.)

Their strategy was simple: draw attention to the issue by featuring these new and unlikely advocates; wrap the cause in the American flag; embrace support from those who had come late to the fight; and orchestrate the whole thing like a political campaign. As we now know, this was, in many ways, a brilliant stroke, politically if not legally. The Proposition 8 lawsuit did not succeed in obtaining the broad Supreme Court ruling that Olson and Griffin had hoped for; the justices decided that their opponents didn’t have standing, and left in place a lower-court ruling overturning California’s ban. That did restore marriage rights to couples in that state; still, if that was all that the court had ruled that summer, it might have been viewed as a disappointment. But it was decided the same day as the Supreme Court’s historic decision in the case brought by Edie Windsor and her lawyer Roberta Kaplan to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Becker reports that Olson and Griffin originally considered fashioning their case as a challenge to DOMA, but did not want to pit themselves against President Obama, whose Department of Justice would have had to defend the law. Still, there is no question that the Proposition 8 case was a major factor in the shift in public opinion that laid the political groundwork for Windsor.

It was the Court’s ruling in Windsor, not the Proposition 8 case, that has become the legal basis for a number of other cases seeking full federal recognition of same-sex marriage rights, which are now working their way through the appeals courts. One or more of these cases—possibly including a new one brought by Olson and Boies—will reach the Supreme Court in a year or two. As Becker describes in considerable detail, the California case and the strategy behind it worried and angered the established gay-rights legal community, which believed that the suit was too aggressive, might precipitate a Supreme Court ruling that could set back the cause, and was liable to upset the long-gestating, incremental legal strategy already under way—not to mention that two straight corporate lawyers, Boies and Olson, would get the credit if it succeeded. Becker reports that Paul Smith, the openly gay lawyer who argued Lawrence v. Texas before the Supreme Court, turned down a request to join the case from Olson and Griffin, because he believed that their approach was too risky. There was more to that than Becker perhaps acknowledges. But the Proposition 8 argument turned out to be insightful: it anticipated a developing shift in American public opinion on this issue, while at the same time helping to accelerate it. And whatever the internal battles, other gay civil-rights groups were at least publicly supportive of it. They helped to lay that groundwork, too.

Becker’s account of the hearings, and her analysis of the complicated legal theories involved in the long appeals process, are excellent. Her writing about the four plaintiffs in the case—the true emotional heroes of this book—is particularly affecting. The book is not, however, a neutral account of what happened: it is an account as seen largely through the eyes of Griffin and Olson. It could be argued that Becker is not sufficiently careful in drawing attention to this distinction, but I think any knowledgeable reader will understand that this is the case. The book is a rather adoring narrative profile of these two men and what they went through in an effort to change history, and perhaps to make their own personal marks on it. Here are a recently “out” and fairly conservative young gay Democrat from Arkansas and a very prominent Republican attorney who symbolized the triumphant conservatism of the Bush years, joining forces to fight for gay equality.

Even before its release, the book has attracted considerable attention: an excerpt appeared in the Times Magazine, detailing Obama’s own struggle to “evolve” on the issue, which I wrote about here. Late in the book, Charles Cooper, the lawyer who argued against Olson and Boies, reveals to Becker that his daughter is a lesbian—and this tidbit was leaked to the press last week to help create more pre-publication buzz. The portrait of Cooper, whom Becker interviewed at length after the case ended, is beautifully nuanced. “My views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it ten years ago,” Cooper told her. That kind of admission would seem to be the whole point.

For the most part, Becker does not write about participants in the campaign for marriage equality who were not directly involved in bringing the Proposition 8 case, except to highlight their skepticism about what she clearly believes was an excellent legal strategy. Indeed, a reader coming to the story only through this book would miss something important about the roles of Evan Wolfson, whose Harvard Law School thesis formed the basis for the marriage-equality movement and who has continued to be a legal and political leader on the topic; Andrew Sullivan, who gave the movement intellectual heft with his writings on gay marriage in the nineties; and Mary Bonauto, the adored lawyer for the movement who brought the first successful marriage case in Massachusetts, among many others.

Anyone who wants a complete history and overview of the gay-rights movement can read Linda Hirshman’s excellent and comprehensive “Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution,” published in 2012, or, even before that, Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney’s “Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America,” published in 2001, which is still a treasure. But if you are interested in the story of how a Hollywood political consultant and a conservative lawyer joined forces in 2009, in the belief that they could really make a difference, and, no doubt, gain some notoriety for themselves and their cause, helping to dramatically change the way Americans thought of gay people and the way gay people thought of themselves—this book is for you. The real story it tells is how seemingly small moments, occurring by happenstance, when combined with boldness and imagination, can help to change the course of history. There is a moment toward the end of the book when Olson expresses some self-doubt, as he prepares to argue the case before the Supreme Court, but one of his longtime conservative friends tells him, “You’ve already won.”

Richard Socarides is an attorney and longtime gay-rights advocate. He served in the White House during the Clinton Administration and has also been a political strategist. He now oversees public affairs at GLG. Opinions expressed here are only his own. Follow him on Twitter @Socarides.

Photograph of Ted Olson by Amanda Edwards/Getty.

Source: Richard Socarides for The New Yorker

Texas congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Steve Stockman criticized the Obama administration’s position on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) during an interview yesterday with Religious Right talk show host Janet Mefferd.

Stockman said the administration’s refusal to defend DOMA “undermines the whole concept of our country” and insisted that people “should have pickets” in Washington. “You’re really setting up for a dictatorship,” he said. “It’s really pretty frightening for the children and grandchildren down the road, this is really a dangerous example to set.”

Of course, Obama is far from the first president to decline to defend a federal law the administration deemed unconstitutional.

From the 02.25.2014 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Janet Mefferd Show:

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

In an interview with WorldNetDaily today, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly compared the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v Windsor to the infamous Dred Scott case, arguing that the landmark marriage equality decision should not be used as legal precedent.

Attacking President Obama for his “dictatorial attitude” and “judges who think they can do anything they want,” Schlafly urged Americans to simply ignore the legal precedent set by gay rights decisions. Schlafly recalled how Republicans in the 1850s argued that the Dred Scott decision shouldn’t set a binding legal precedent. “We should reject some of these laws that try to write into the Constitution gay marriage, which is not a constitutional right,” she said.

Unfortunately for Schlafly, courts across the country are already using Windsor as precedent for striking down anti-equality laws.

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

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

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) yesterday called into The Steve Deace Show where he accused President Obama of acting like an emperor on issues like health care reform and the Defense of Marriage Act.

“It’s amazing what they’re saying is covered by Obamacare,” the congressman continued. “If you decide to become transgender you can also get that covered…‘The next time I call your show,’” he said in a high-pitched voice.

 From the 11.14.2013 edition of The Steve Deace Show:

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

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

A group of Republicans in the House is set to unveil a proposal aimed at protecting conservative groups in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) plans to introduce the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act Thursday. He said the bill “ensures that any religious institution, organization or church that believes that marriage should continue to remain between one man and one woman will not be discriminated against by the federal government.”

The Supreme Court in June ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, paving the way for the federal government to grant marriage benefits to same-sex couples with licenses from states that have legalized same-sex marriage.

Citing examples in the states, Labrador said he and other conservatives are worried that organizations like the Boy Scouts or Catholic Charities could lose their tax-exempt status because of their official positions on the question of marriage.

Citing examples in the states, Labrador said he and other conservatives are worried that organizations like the Boy Scouts or Catholic Charities could lose their tax-exempt status because of their official positions on the question of marriage.

“My bill does not deal with those state issues,” Labrador said in an interview, “but we have already seen the increased attack and discrimination of institutions at the state level, and we just want to ensure that it does not happen at the federal level.

“I believe the Constitution protects these institutions,” he said, “but I just want to make sure that it’s in the law, that it’s 100 percent sure, that people have no question about it.”

The bill has 60 co-sponsors, including the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), and two socially conservative Democrats: Reps. Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Daniel Lipinski (Ill.).




h/t: The Hill

The Department of Defense announced a plan Wednesday to extend a range of federal benefits to same-sex spouses of military service members starting Sept. 3.

The Pentagon will extend to legally married same-sex couples the same privileges and programs that are provided to legally married heterosexual couples, including benefits tied to health care, housing, and family separation allowance, compensation paid to military members when their dependents can’t live with them at their permanent duty station.

"The Department of Defense remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and their families, are treated fairly and equally as the law directs," the Pentagon said in its announcement Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a senior official told NBC News that service members who are stationed in one of the 37 states where same-sex marriage is illegal will be offered up to 10 days of leave so they can travel to one of the 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, that grant same-sex marriage licenses.

Wednesday’s announcement made no specific mention of the 10 days of leave, but did say, “We recognize that same-sex military couples who are not stationed in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage would have to travel to another jurisdiction to marry.  That is why the department will implement policies to allow military personnel in such a relationship non-chargeable leave for the purpose of travelling to a jurisdiction where such a marriage may occur.”

All entitlements are retroactive to June 26, 2013, the date of the Supreme Court’s ruling that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is unconstitutional.

h/t: NBCNews.com




Tomorrow, at 10:00AM EDT/9:00AM CDT/7:00AM PDT, the Supreme Court of the United States will decide the fate of two key LGBTQ rights/marriage equality cases: California’s Prop 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry) and DOMA (United States v. Windsor).


How I realistically view what SCOTUS will rule on the two cases: DOMA is expected to get buried in the trashcan (i.e. overturned), while Prop 8 will either be struck down in some fashion (California-only being most likely) or get punted.



Let’s hope and pray that DOMA and Prop 8 are both fully off the books!!!

(cross-posted from JGibson.blogspot.com)

Tomorrow’s the big day for the future of our nation on the subject of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. I surely hope that #SCOTUS decides to strike down #DOMA AND #Prop8

Predictions:

Facts about SCOTUS’ potential outcomes on DOMA and Prop 8.