Posts tagged "LGBT Rights"

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

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

Homophobic idiocy at its finest over at BarbWire.com. 

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

"Coach" Dave Daubenmire doesn’t understand what is so “special” about homosexuality that people get so upset when he criticizes, since nobody gets mad when he criticizes other sins like alcoholism and lying.

In fact, it is not all that long ago, Daubenmire reminded his viewers, when homosexuality was widely considered to be a mental illness, just as “schizophrenic pedophilia” is considered to be one today. Be he didn’t “want to even get into the debate because the gay bashers will get after me again” for even bringing up the issue.

"What is so special about that sin?" Daubenmire wanted to know. “Why is it there’s a movement behind that that is one of the most aggressive movements out there attacking Christian values?”

 

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW

H/T: John Perilli at GoLocalProv.com

h/t: Chris Lewis at AlterNet 

The American Family Association is demanding that the House move to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder for the supposed crime of treating legally married same-sex couples … as legally married.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder, this week, has again overstepped the boundaries of the law when he arbitrarily ordered that homosexual couples will now receive government benefits reserved only for natural marriage status. This applies even in states that have laws defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Taking a nod from the playbook of his boss, President Barack Obama, Holder wielded his own pen and paper, trampling on states’ rights and disenfranchising voters in states defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.

It is time for Eric Holder to go!



It is the sworn duty of every member of Congress to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Allowing Eric Holder to remain in office unchallenged is a violation of that duty. Action must be taken to stop the abuse of power in the attorney general’s office.

Urge your representative to press for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder for high crimes and misdemeanors.

In a sample email​ for members to send their congressmen, the anti-gay AFA claims that Holder’s pro-equality move violates their “rights and freedoms”:

There is no room for political corruption in government and when it is discovered, it is the duty of Congress to take immediate and swift action against it.



The American people desperately need leaders we can trust. Our district deserves representation that will firmly stand and defend our rights as citizens. And when rights and freedoms are being threatened through poor leadership at the Department of Justice, it is your sworn obligation to take steps necessary to protect our state and its citizenry.

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

Breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro asserted that “[t]his is not a country that discriminates against homosexuals,” despite the persistence of marriage equality bans, anti-LGBT employment discrimination, and hate crimes.

In a February 10 interview with Fusion TV’s Jorge Ramos, Shapiro weighed in on National Football League prospect Michael Sam’s recent announcement that he’s gay. Even as the rabid opponent of marriage equalityanti-discrimination protections, and efforts to end anti-LGBT bullying asserted he was “happy” for Sam, Shapiro reprised an argument he made in a Breitbart.com column depicting Sam as the useful pawn of a liberal media intent on proving America is homophobic. When Ramos pressed Shapiro on whether gays encounter discrimination in the U.S., Shapiro was unwilling to acknowledge anything more than “a vastly minute amount.”

[…]

Alas, Shapiro’s employer prefers to cheer on - rather than call out - purveyors of anti-LGBT hate and discrimination. Shapiro has joined Breitbart colleague Austin Ruse in promoting Matthew Shepard Trutherism; while Shapiro appeared uninterested in the facts surrounding Shepard’s murder, he saw the publication of a shoddily reported book claiming it wasn’t a hate crime as a convenient means of undermining the LGBT movement’s “broader agenda.” Meanwhile, Breitbart has applauded Russia’s draconian crackdown on LGBT people, praising President Vladimir Putin for supporting “traditional values” and calling far-right organizations that support the country’s anti-gay “propaganda” law "human rights groups." 

From the 02.10.2014 edition of Fusion’s America With Jorge Ramos:

H/T: MMFA 

mediamattersforamerica

Kudos to UN leader Ban Ki-moon for condemning the harsh Russian anti-LGBTQ laws for what they are. 
And I hope Russia does NOT get a Gold in Hockey. Go USA (or any team except Russia)!

h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT

H/T: HuffPost Gay Voices

Nigeria has outlawed gay marriage, public displays of same-sex relationships, and belonging to gay groups with the passing of a law that has sparked international condemnation.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abatim said on Monday that the president signed the bill because it was consistent with the attitudes of most people towards homosexuality in the west African nation.

"I can confirm that the president has signed the bill into law," Abati said, without specifying a date but adding that it happened earlier this month.

"More than 90 percent of Nigerians are opposed to same-sex marriage. So, the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs as a people," he added. 

"And I think that this law is made for a people and what [the] government has done is consistent with the preference of its environment."

International condemnation 

Amnesty International urged Jonathan to reject the bill, calling it “discriminatory” and warning of “catastrophic” consequences for Nigeria’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. 

Under the terms of the law, anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union can be sentenced to 14 years in prison while any such partnerships entered into abroad are deemed “void”. 

It also warns that anyone who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or who directly or indirectly makes a public show of a same-sex relationship will break the law. Punishment is up to 10 years in prison, it adds.

"Only a marriage contract between a man and a woman shall be recognised as valid in Nigeria," the law states.

Nigeria is a highly religious society, with its 170 million people roughly divided in half between Christians and Muslims, though a significant number are also believed to follow regional religions.

The anti-gay law follows similar legislation in Uganda that was condemned by the US president, Barack Obama, as “odious”. South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu compared it to apartheid.

h/t: Al-Jazeera

Starting January 1 of 2014, the Boy Scouts of America will put into practice the inclusive policy that welcomes openly gay youth interested in joining the organization.

After much lobbying from grassroots advocates and Scouting families across the country, BSA approved the policy in May 2013 with support from 60% of the voting committee members. While openly LGBT parents and adults are still banned from being Scout leaders, 2014 will start off with a giant victory towards equality in Scouting.

Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member, said he anticipates the implementation to a be a non-issue within the troops, according to the Associated Press. “My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare.” He continued, “it’s business as usual, nothing happens, and we move forward.”

The AP further reported that the Roman Catholic and Mormon Churches, major donors to BSA, plan to continue supporting the organization. On its website, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting spoke on the issue, and stated, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that individuals who disclose a same-sex attraction are to be treated with the same dignity due all human beings.”

While some individual parishes and community members may be cautious of what the lifted ban will bring, GLAAD is confident that equal treatment for all kids and teens, ultimately, can only enhance the Boy Scouts’ values of service and participating citizenship.

H/T: GLAAD

h/t: John Aravosis at AMERICABlog