Posts tagged "Marriage Equality"

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

thepoliticalfreakshow:

CINCINNATI — Ohio officials must immediately recognize the same-sex marriages of four couples who sued over the state’s gay marriage ban, a federal judge said Wednesday, while staying the broader effects of his ruling to avoid “premature celebration and confusion” in case it’s overturned on appeal.

U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black

U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black

Judge Timothy Black stayed his ruling ordering Ohio to recognize the marriages of gay couples who wed in other states pending appeal in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The appeals process likely will take months.

Had Black not issued the stay, all married gay couples living in Ohio would have been able to immediately begin obtaining the same benefits as any other married couple in the state, including property rights and the right to make some medical decisions for each other.

Black said the stay does not apply to the four couples who filed the February lawsuit that led to the court case, and ordered Ohio to immediately list both spouses in each relationship as parents on their children’s birth certificates.

Liz Wilson and her wife are among those who will have to wait for the appeal to play out.

“It’s frustrating,” said the 44-year-old Cleveland woman, who married her wife in New York last year. “At the end of the day you just want your family to be safe and secure.”

In explaining the stay, Black said that although he doesn’t think the state’s appeal will succeed, there is still a chance the 6th Circuit could overturn his decision.

“The court recognizes that recognition of same-sex marriages is a hotly contested issue in the contemporary legal landscape, and, if (the) appeal is ultimately successful, the absence of a stay … is likely to lead to confusion, potential inequity and high costs,” Black said. “Premature celebration and confusion do not serve anyone’s best interests.”

In a court filing arguing for a stay, attorneys for the state did not contest Black’s stated inclination to allow the four couples to both be listed on their children’s birth certificates.

“We’re happy that the judge agreed to the stay,” said Rob Nichols, Gov. John Kasich’s spokesman. He declined to comment further.

Al Gerhardstein, the Cincinnati civil rights attorney who represents the four couples in the lawsuit and argued against a stay of any kind, said in a statement that “at least for these four couples, the Constitution stands on the side of love.”

“The implementation of same-sex marriage recognition has started and we are all very excited,” he said. “We will try and expedite the appeals process so full marriage recognition for all same-sex couples does not trail too far behind.”

Three of the four couples who filed the lawsuit live in the Cincinnati area. One spouse in each relationship is pregnant and due to give birth this summer. The fourth couple lives in New York City but adopted a child from Ohio.

In Monday’s ruling, Black said the state’s refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriage is a violation of constitutional rights and “unenforceable in all circumstances.”

“The record before this court … is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the state’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Black wrote.

Including Black, eight federal judges have issued pro-gay-marriage rulings since the Supreme Court’s decision last June that struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law. All but one of those rulings has been stayed pending appeal.

Although Black’s order does not force Ohio to allow gay marriages to be performed in the state, Gerhardstein said he was planning to file a lawsuit in the next couple of weeks seeking such a ruling.

The stay order is here.

The case is Henry v. Wymyslo.

imageMike Huckabee: How can Obama support same-sex marriage and call himself a Christian? (via Raw Story )

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) attacked President Barack Obama on Friday night over his support of same-sex marriage. Mediaite reported that Huckabee was appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” with substitute host Laura Ingraham when he made…



 

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW

h/t: Nicholas Riccardi at LGBTQNation

From the 04.03.2014 edition of Truth In Action Ministries’ Vocal Point:

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW 

h/t: Catherne Thompson at TPM

Good news out of Ohio on marriage equality.

NewsBreaker: 

BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner:

thepoliticalfreakshow:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that same-sex spouses will be recognized in administering several aspects of the Medicare program, regardless of where the couple lives. CMS works with the Social Security Administration to conduct eligibility determinations and to enroll seniors and individuals with certain disabilities in the program. Social Security updated their own marriage recognition policies earlier this week to streamline the handling of marriage-based claims involving transgender people. The announcement is the latest step implementing the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Social Security will now begin processing Medicare enrollment, requests for Special Enrollment Periods, and requests for reductions in late-enrollment penalties for many same-sex spouses. Eligibility for Medicare Part A and Part B coverage is particularly important for these families, who are disproportionately likely to be uninsured. Medicare Part A coverage is often available without paying a monthly premium, making it important for the many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who struggle to afford coverage.

CMS’s decision also impacts some people who previously applied for a Special Enrollment Period but were denied eligibility because of DOMA. For some of these couples, Social Security will be able to approve a second request for a Special Enrollment Period, giving more immediate access to Medicare coverage.

For couples in domestic partnerships or civil unions this announcement offers some, but not all of the same opportunities for enrolling in Medicare coverage. Domestic partnerships and civil unions are not recognized for the purposes of Special Enrollment Periods for applicants 65 or older, but for those applicants with disabilities who are under 65, Special Enrollment Periods are available as long as the applicant has coverage through their partner’s current employer.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS have been acting to implement the Windsor decision since last year, expanding coverage for many same-sex couples. HHS announced last month that plans sold through Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act must offer coverage to all same-sex spouses starting in 2015. In September of last year, CMS sent a letter to state Medicaid directors granting discretion to recognize same-sex marriages according to the laws of their state.

Read the full Medicare announcement here.

breakingnews:

Same-sex couples legally marry in England, Wales

BBC NewsCouples flocked to town halls during the early hours of Saturday as a law legalizing same-sex marriage took effect in England and Wales.

The law, which was passed last year, was hailed by politicians from both the country’s main parties. Prime Minister David Cameron said he believed the law sent a message that people were equal “whether gay or straight.” 

Scotland also passed a similar law in February but the first same-sex marriages aren’t expected until October. 

Photo: Peter Tatchell (left) was chief witness at Peter McGraith and David Cabreza’s wedding in Islington. (Getty Images)

 

(via thepoliticalfreakshow)

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Image APSame sex couples are married in a group by the Oakland County Clerk in Pontiac, Michigan.  (AP)

The federal government will recognize the 300-odd same-sex marriages performed over the weekend in Michigan after a federal judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban. That’s despite Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s announcement this week that his state will not recognize those marriages, citing a stay on the court decision issued last Saturday. 

The federal government’s decision was announced on Friday morning by Attorney General Eric Holder, who noted that federal recognition means those couples “will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.” He added: 

“Last June’s decision by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor was a victory for equal protection under the law and a historic step toward equality for all American families.  The Department of Justice continues to work with its federal partners to implement this decision across the government.  And we will remain steadfast in our commitment to realizing our country’s founding ideals of equality, opportunity, and justice for all.”

Holder’s decision consistent with the government’s stance towards 1,300 married same-sex couples in Utah, who face a similar limbo of federal, but not state, recognition of their marriages while a court battle over a state ban continues. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced in January that his administration considers those marriages “on hold” until the issue is resolved. Similarly, Snyder’s statement announcing the state’s position acknowledges that the couples who married on Saturday “had a legal marriage.” But with the restoration of the state ban, he argued, Michigan was not obligated to recognize those marriages. 

Utah and Michigan bucked an earlier trend among states with contested same-sex marriages. Both California and New Mexico (states that now permanently recognize gay marriage) have recognized marriages performed during temporary windows where same-sex marriage was legal. In California, for instance, the state recognized the 18,000 same-sex couples who married after a state court legalized same sex marriage, but before voters passed Proposition 8. 

Source: Abby Ohlheiser for The Wire

H/T: PROMOMissouri.org

As Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) woos young voters ahead of an expected 2016 presidential bid, it’s become conventional wisdom among many Beltway pundits that Paul could broaden the GOP’s appeal with his ostensibly tolerant views on social issues - never mind that that this narrative is completely divorced from Paul’s traditional conservative positions on such topics.

Paul’s effort to win over Millennials and other constituencies historically suspicious of the GOP came to the fore with his March 19 speech at the University of California, Berkeley, where Paul condemned government surveillance programs as a threat to privacy.

The chattering class proclaimed that the speech was emblematic of Paul’s appeal as an unconventional, "intriguing" Republican. And despite Paul’s conservative stances on issues like marriage equality, reproductive choice, and creationism, many media outlets have also pointed to Paul as the kind of candidate who could help move the GOP away from its hardline social positions. It’s a narrative that even some of Paul’s conservative critics have come to accept, as Charles Krauthammer showed when he called Paul "very much a liberal on social issues."

A look at media coverage of Paul helps explain where Krauthammer got that notion.

  • A March 26 Wall Street Journal analysis of Millennials’ political loyalties pointed to “the unorthodox Mr. Paul” as someone who “may have a wider lane than most other Republican candidates when it comes to appealing to the young.” Besides his anti-interventionist foreign policy and anti-surveillance views, the Journal cited Paul’s “more libertarian social views,” even though it failed to provide a single example of a social issue on which Paul has bucked conservative orthodoxy.
  • NPR, in a write-up on the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), examined fissures within the GOP coalition on issues like marriage equality. The piece suggested that Paul was the candidate of those “more tolerant of same-sex marriage.”
  • Writing for Politico Magazine, Kevin D. Williamson asserted that “Paul’s libertarianism is intended to offer a little something for everybody … spending cuts for the Republican base, legal relief for potheads, a presidential pat on the head for gay people.”
  • RealClearPolitics’ Scott Conroy heralds Paul’s “efforts to court young people holding progressive social views,” while passively stating that Paul “largely” shares his father’s conservative stances on reproductive choice and marriage equality.
  • Proclaiming Paul the GOP frontrunner for 2016, The Atlantic's Peter Beinart argued that “[o]n issues from NSA surveillance to drug legalization to gay marriage, the GOP is moving in his direction.”

Except the GOP long ago arrived at Paul’s position on marriage equality - unequivocal opposition. To be sure, Paul opposes a federal marriage amendment and has urged the GOP, for strategic reasons, not to emphasize social issues. But he remains a steadfast supporter of state marriage equality bans, recently condemning as “illegitimate" a Kentucky court ruling against the state’s marriage ban  and reaffirming "the historic and religious definition of marriage."

As for RealClearPolitics’ statement that Paul “largely” agrees with his father on social issues - there’s no “largely” about it. According to his chief of staff, Paul opposes abortion in all instances except “to save the life of the mother.” While Paul’s office skirts the question of whether he supports exceptions for rape or incest, he’s on the record opposing such exceptions. And Paul doesn’t just oppose marriage equality. He has taken to anti-gay extremist Bryan Fischer’s radio show to discuss the topic, and in remarks he later said were a joke, Paul has compared same-sex marriage with polygamy and bestiality.

On other hot-button issues, Paul’s rhetoric dovetails with that of other conservatives. Under the Obama administration, Paul charges, U.S. taxpayers are funding an international "war on Christianity." Speaking before the Christian Homeschool Educators of Kentucky in 2010, Paul appealed to young-earth creationists, refusing to say how old he believes the earth is.

The media’s facts-be-damned references to Paul’s supposed unorthodoxy on social issues is symptomatic of a larger failure of political journalism. Mentions of his purported social libertarianism almost uniformly come in the context of speculation on the 2016 horse race - how Paul can position himself as an electable candidate, how he could puncture the Democratic coalition. What’s lost is a meaningful discussion of his positions on actual issues.

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA

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