Gay Primary Source

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Prez Signs DADT Repeal

...Sixty-six years ago, in the dense, snow-covered forests of Western Europe, Allied Forces were beating back a massive assault in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. And in the final days of fighting, a regiment in the 80th Division of Patton’s Third Army came under fire. The men were traveling along a narrow trail. They were exposed and they were vulnerable. Hundreds of soldiers were cut down by the enemy. And during the firefight, a private named Lloyd Corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine. And dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead. But one soldier, a friend, turned back. And with shells landing around him, amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend, scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring Private Corwin to safer ground. For the rest of his years, Lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named Andy Lee, with saving his life, knowing he would never have made it out alone. It was a full four decades after the war, when the two friends reunited in their golden years, that Lloyd learned that the man who saved his life, his friend Andy, was gay. He had no idea. And he didn’t much care. Lloyd knew what mattered. He knew what had kept him alive; what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life. It was his friend. And Lloyd’s son is with us today. And he knew that valor and sacrifice are no more limited by sexual orientation than they are by race or by gender or by religion or by creed; that what made it possible for him to survive the battlefields of Europe is the reason that we are here today. That's the reason we are here today.

So this morning, I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It is a law - this law I’m about to sign will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend. No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military - regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance - because they happen to be gay. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love.

As Admiral Mike Mullen has said, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.” That’s why I believe this is the right thing to do for our military. That’s why I believe it is the right thing to do, period...

I want to express my gratitude to the men and women in this room who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Services. I want to thank all the patriots who are here today, all of them who were forced to hang up their uniforms as a result of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell - but who never stopped fighting for this country, and who rallied and who marched and fought for change. I want to thank everyone here who stood with them in that fight...

Now, with any change, there’s some apprehension. That’s natural. But as Commander-in-Chief, I am certain that we can effect this transition in a way that only strengthens our military readiness; that people will look back on this moment and wonder why it was ever a source of controversy in the first place. I have every confidence in the professionalism and patriotism of our service members. Just as they have adapted and grown stronger with each of the other changes, I know they will do so again. I know that Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, as well as the vast majority of service members themselves, share this view. And they share it based on their own experiences, including the experience of serving with dedicated, duty-bound service members who were also gay.

As one special operations warfighter said during the Pentagon’s review - this was one of my favorites - it echoes the experience of Lloyd Corwin decades earlier: “We have a gay guy in the unit. He’s big, he’s mean, he kills lots of bad guys.” “No one cared that he was gay.” And I think that sums up perfectly the situation.

Finally, I want to speak directly to the gay men and women currently serving in our military. For a long time your service has demanded a particular kind of sacrifice. You’ve been asked to carry the added burden of secrecy and isolation. And all the while, you’ve put your lives on the line for the freedoms and privileges of citizenship that are not fully granted to you. You’re not the first to have carried this burden, for while today marks the end of a particular struggle that has lasted almost two decades, this is a moment more than two centuries in the making.

There will never be a full accounting of the heroism demonstrated by gay Americans in service to this country; their service has been obscured in history. It’s been lost to prejudices that have waned in our own lifetimes. But at every turn, every crossroads in our past, we know gay Americans fought just as hard, gave just as much to protect this nation and the ideals for which it stands. There can be little doubt there were gay soldiers who fought for American independence, who consecrated the ground at Gettysburg, who manned the trenches along the Western Front, who stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima. Their names are etched into the walls of our memorials. Their headstones dot the grounds at Arlington.

And so, as the first generation to serve openly in our Armed Forces, you will stand for all those who came before you, and you will serve as role models to all who come after. And I know that you will fulfill this responsibility with integrity and honor, just as you have every other mission with which you’ve been charged...

Some of you remembered I visited Afghanistan just a few weeks ago. And while I was walking along the rope line... a young woman in uniform was shaking my hand and other people were grabbing and taking pictures. And she pulled me into a hug and she whispered in my ear, “Get Don't Ask, Don't Tell done.” And I said to her, “I promise you I will.” For we are not a nation that says, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We are a nation that says, “Out of many, we are one.” We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. Those are the ideals that generations have fought for. Those are the ideals that we uphold today. And now, it is my honor to sign this bill into law.

President Barack Obama, December 22, 2010.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repealed

"Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell is the right thing to do whether you're liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, or independent. It is the right thing to do for our military and the right thing to do for our country. The sixty-five Senators who voted to correct this injustice showed that we’re still able to come together in a bipartisan way to fight for America’s best interests."

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the lead sponsor of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, December 18, 2010.

Prez Lauds Senate DADT Repeal

"Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend. By ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love. As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known. And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness. I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Senators Lieberman and Collins and the countless others who have worked so hard to get this done. It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly. I urge the Senate to send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law." President Barack Obama, December 18, 2010.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

House Votes DADT Repeal - Again

"It’s an historic day. As founder and Co-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus in Congress, I can tell you that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been one of our Caucus’ top priorities and we have educated and cajoled and counted votes. Our Equality Caucus of 91 bipartisan Members has been moved to action by the stories of gay and lesbian military professionals whose lives and livelihoods have been damaged by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We have been moved to action as discharge after discharge have deprived our Armed Forces of the honorable service and needed skills of patriotic Americans who want to serve their country and be honest about who they are. Integrity is a hallmark of military service. Yet for 17 years, we have had a statutory policy that requires some in our military to conceal, deceive, and lie. In my opinion, that policy is un-American. This is also an important step in the march to full equality for LGBT Americans. Particularly so because ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ represents an instance where discrimination is written into our nations laws—a constant reminder of second-class citizenship.

I want to extend my gratitude to my colleagues here today: Mr. Murphy for his role in shepherding this bill through today; Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer for their tenacity in pushing this not just once, but twice, because it is the right thing to do; Major Almy, for your courage, your service to your country, and your willingness to tell you story. Now, let’s talk about the Senate. Our vote today is indeed an historic occasion, but we’re holding the celebration until the Senate takes up this bill and we’ve sent it to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Make no mistake: the House made a bold and very strong statement today that we’re ready to move forward and see this repeal through. The President is ready to move forward. The military is ready to move forward. The American people are ready to move forward. It now falls to the Senate to do the right thing! The arguments have been made, the evidence has been proffered, and, now, the House of Representatives has voted twice! The time is right for Congress to end this discriminatory policy once and for all!"

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), on House Vote (250-175) to Repeal Don’t Ask, Don't Tell, December 15, 2010.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

DOD DADT Repeal Report - Do It!

“Based on all we saw and heard, our assessment is that, when coupled with the prompt implementation of the recommendations we offer below, the risk of repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to overall military effectiveness is low. We conclude that, while a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will likely, in the short term, bring about some limited and isolated disruption to unit cohesion and retention, we do not believe this disruption will be widespread or long-lasting, and can be adequately addressed by the recommendations we offer below. Longer term, with a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism, and respect for all, we are convinced that the U.S. military can adjust and accommodate this change, just as it has others in history...

We recommend that, in a post-repeal environment, gay and lesbian Service members be treated under the same general principles of military equal opportunity policy that apply to all Service members. Under the Military Equal Opportunity program, it is DoD policy to
“[p]romote an environment free from personal, social, or institutional barriers that prevent Service members from rising to the highest level or responsibility possible. Service members shall be evaluated only on individual merit, fitness, and capability.” This policy goes hand-in-hand with Service-level policies and basic military values that call for treating every military member with dignity and respect.”

Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - Department of Defense General Counsel, the Honorable Jeh Charles Johnson; and Commanding General US Army Europe & The Seventh Army, General Carter F. Ham - excerpts from chapter 1 - Executive Summary, November 30, 2010.

HHS Secretary Marks World AIDS Day

“On December 1, World AIDS Day, we will pause to reflect on the HIV epidemic in our country and around the world. In the U.S., an estimated 1.1 million Americns are living with HIV - and one out of five does not know it. Worldwide, there are an estimated 33 million individuals with HIV. The U.S. has made enormous strides in its response to the HIV epidemic this year. In March, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, improving access to care and inceasing opportunities for health and well-being for people with HIV. And in July, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy released its landmark “National HIV/AIDS Strategy,” a roadmap for addressing the epidemic on multiple levels. It was developed with broad community input and set new national goals for reducing the number of people who become infected with HIV, for improving prevention and access to care and increasing opportunities for health and well-being for people living with HIV, and for reducing HIV-related health disparities. In September, HHS announced that CDC allocated $30 million of the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund to expand HIV prevention efforts under that strategy.
I am proud to work with agencies, communities, and individuals around the country who are implementing this bold strategic vision, which challenges the United States to “become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.”” Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, November 30, 2010.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

JCS Chief Wants DADT Gone

AMANPOUR: "Don't ask/don't tell," something that's hugely important right now. A draft report has come to you; some 70 percent of the military say that it will either have a beneficial or nonexistent effect. Do you think it needs to be voted on in this lame-duck session?
MULLEN: Well, I won't speak to what the draft report says. We'll have this report done here...
AMANPOUR: Do you think...
MULLEN: ... and to Secretary Gates in the next couple of weeks, by December 1st, and I won't make any comments on where I think we need to go until that report is done.
AMANPOUR: You support it, though, repealing "don't ask/don't tell"?
MULLEN: From my personal perspective, absolutely.
AMANPOUR: Because?
MULLEN: Because I think it -- it belies us as an institution. We value integrity as an institution.
AMANPOUR: You mean forcing them to lie about what they are?
MULLEN: And then -- and then asking individuals to come in and lie about who they are every day goes counter to who we are as an institution.
AMANPOUR: Apart from the integrity issue, many of your allies -- whether it be England or Canada or France or Australia, the Israeli army -- they have openly gay servicemembers in their military with no adverse effects.
MULLEN: Certainly. I've seen that, and that is very much a part of this review, and we'll incorporate that into the review and recommendations which go up the chain.
AMANPOUR: So were you angry with the new Marine commandant when he cast his own doubts over this and criticized it?
MULLEN: He had made his position very clear in testimony. What concerned me about his most recent comments, it came at a time where we actually had the draft report in hand, and we had all agreed that we would speak to this privately until we completed the report and made our recommendations up the chain.
AMANPOUR: And if it does not get voted on in the lame-duck session, is there any chance that it will come up in any reasonable time period afterwards?
MULLEN: Well, I mean, it's very hard to predict what's going to happen. Obviously, from a legislative...
AMANPOUR: But would you think it will put it down the road?
MULLEN: ... from a legislative perspective. The other piece that is out there that's very real is the courts are very active on this. And my concern is that at some point in time the courts could change this law and in that not give us the right amount of time to implement it. I think it's much better done -- if it's going to get done, it's much better done through legislature than it is out of the courts.
AMANPOUR: Admiral Mullen, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
MULLEN: Thank you.

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , interviewed by Christiane Amanpour, on ABC This Week, Washington, D.C. Sunday, November 21, 2010.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Equal Hospital Visitation Rights is a Go

"Basic human rights - such as your ability to choose your own support system in a time of need - must not be checked at the door of America’s hospitals... Today’s rules help give ‘full and equal’ rights to all of us to choose whom we want by our bedside when we are sick, and override any objection by a hospital or staffer who may disagree with us for any non-clinical reason." Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, November 17, 2010.

"§ 482.13 Condition of participation: Patient’s rights.
(h) Standard: Patient visitation rights.
A hospital must have written policies and procedures regarding the visitation rights of patients, including those setting forth any clinically necessary or reasonable restriction or limitation that the hospital may need to place on such rights and the reasons for the clinical restriction or limitation. A hospital must meet the following requirements: (1) Inform each patient (or support person, where appropriate) of his or her visitation rights, including any clinical restriction or limitation on such rights, when he or she is informed of his or her other rights under this section. (2) Inform each patient (or support person, where appropriate) of the right, subject to his or her consent, to receive the visitors whom he or she designates, including, but not limited to, a spouse, a domestic partner (including a samesex domestic partner), another family member, or a friend, and his or her right to withdraw or deny such consent at any time. (3) Not restrict, limit, or otherwise deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. (4) Ensure that all visitors enjoy full and equal visitation privileges consistent with patient preferences."

Donald M. Berwick, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; approved November 15, 2010, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health & Human Services. Department of HHS, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services - 42 CFR Parts 482 and 485: Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Changes to the Hospital and Critical Access Hospital Conditions of Participation To Ensure Visitation Rights for All Patients. Agency: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS. Action: Final rule.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"We must protect kids from bullying"

“Asher Brown was a 13-year-old straight-A student in Houston. Tyler Clementi was 18, a college freshman who played violin in the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra. Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old from a small city in central California, loved french fries and Pokemon cards. Billy Lucas was a 15-year-old from Indiana who showed horses. Justin Aaberg from Minnesota was 15 too and posted his cello music on YouTube. What did these young people have in common? They all died recently by suicide after being harassed because they were gay or believed to be gay.

Millions of young people will wake up in America today knowing they'll be bullied before the day is over. For many, the harassment will focus on their race, a physical or intellectual disability, their performance at school, or another characteristic that sets them apart. We know that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students are among the most likely to be targeted. Four out of five gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender middle-schoolers say they are regularly harassed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Three quarters of high-schoolers say they "frequently" or "often" hear derogatory and homophobic remarks. As these attacks add up, they can become an unbearable burden for young people. Bullied teens are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. They're more likely to skip school. They're more likely to be depressed. The result is that gay, lesbian and bisexual teens are up to seven times more likely to have reported attempting suicide than their peers.

We cannot continue to stand by while our children are subjected to this physical and emotional violence. Protecting young people from bullying is just as essential to their healthy development as making sure they have good teachers and access to health care. Over the years, we've heard excuse after excuse for why this harassment continues. One argument is that bullying often happens out of sight - in locker rooms, deserted hallways and on social media websites. But we know that 85 percent of bullying happens in front of witnesses, including adults. Others operate under the sad belief that bullying is just another part of growing up, that it 'toughens kids up.' The events of these last few months should put this outrageous theory to rest. Still others say some kids are just mean and there's nothing we can do about it. But this excuse ignores the effective strategies we've developed for reducing bullying. For example, in schools that have an anti-harassment policy that specifically addresses sexual orientation or gender identity, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students are 50 percent more likely to feel safe in school and one-third less likely to skip a class. Even more promising are approaches that get entire communities involved. When principals, teachers, school nurses, pediatricians, social workers, faith leaders, law enforcement agents, parents and youth all have the information they need to recognize bullying and respond to it, bullies get a clear message that their behavior is unacceptable. That's why last year, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services joined forces with four other departments to create a federal task force on bullying. In August, the task force staged the first-ever National Bullying Summit, bringing together 150 top state, local, civic and corporate leaders to begin mapping out a national plan to end bullying. And we launched a new website,, which brings all the federal re- sources on bullying together in one place for the first time ever. We're also getting students involved. The Stop Bullying Now! Campaign has 80 partners across the country that help reach youth with an anti-bullying message everywhere from elementary and middle schools to Boys and Girls Clubs to public libraries to 4-H clubs. And last week, the Department of Education's new Safe and Supportive Schools program announced grants to 11 states to help them to use student, family and staff surveys to create "school safety scores" for schools in their states. Additional funds will be available for the schools with the biggest safety concerns. We're launching a similar effort to mobilize communities to prevent suicides. Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services helped announce an unprecedented National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, which brings together a wide range of public and private partners to coordinate anti-suicide efforts. One of its specific goals is preventing suicide in at-risk groups, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. Building safe neighborhoods and schools where young people can thrive is a job for all of us, not just government or schools or parents. It means speaking up the next time you hear someone use a homophobic slur, stepping in when you encounter a bully in action, and letting your local school board know that bullying isn't just part of growing up - it's a serious danger to our children.

The events of the last few weeks have filled many of us with sadness and anger. They should also fill us with determination to do everything we can to stand up for Seth, Tyler, Asher, Billy, Justin and millions of other young people who can't do it for themselves.”

Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, op-ed published October 9, 2010.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Another Federal Judge Strikes Down DADT

“Major Witt’s approach to the fact finding mission of this Court was to present testimony of members and former members of her unit, the 446th AES, who testified persuasively that serving with Margaret Witt and other known or suspected gay and lesbian service members did not adversely affect unit morale and cohesion. To the contrary, it was Major Witt’s suspension and ultimate discharge that caused a loss of morale throughout the squadron.

The Court is convinced from its thorough reading of the [9th Circuit] Witt decision that an in-depth, particularized examination of Major Witt’s circumstances vis-a-vis DADT is what the Circuit Court contemplated when remanding the case for further proceedings. Support for this conclusion is found at footnote 11, wherein the Court recited some of the facts that caused it to doubt whether the government’s interest was significantly furthered by Major Witt’s suspension and subsequent discharge under DADT: “Major Witt was a model officer whose sexual activities hundreds of miles away from base did not affect her unit until the military initiated discharge proceedings under DADT and even then, it was her suspension pursuant to DADT, not her homosexuality, that damaged unit cohesion.”

The evidence produced at trial overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the suspension and discharge of Margaret Witt did not significantly further the important government interest in advancing unit morale and cohesion. To the contrary, the actions taken against Major Witt had the opposite effect... Serving within that unit are known or suspected gay or lesbian service men and women. There is no evidence before this Court to suggest that their service within the unit causes problems of the type predicted in the Congressional findings of fact... These people train together, fly together, care for patients together, deploy together. There is nothing in the record before this Court suggesting that the sexual orientation (acknowledged or suspected) has negatively impacted the performance, dedication or enthusiasm of the 446th AES. There is no evidence that wounded troops care about the sexual orientation of the flight nurse or medical technician tending to their wounds.

The evidence before the Court is that Major Margaret Witt was an exemplary officer. She was an effective leader, a caring mentor, a skilled clinician, and an integral member of an effective team. Her loss within the squadron resulted in a diminution of the unit’s ability to carry out its mission. Good flight nurses are hard to find.

The evidence clearly supports the plaintiff’s assertion that the reinstatement of Major Witt would not adversely affect the morale or unit cohesion of the 446th AES... The men and women of the United States military have over the years demonstrated the ability to accept diverse peoples into their ranks and to treat them with the respect necessary to accomplish the mission, whatever that mission might be... The reinstatement of Major Margaret Witt will not erode the proficiency of the United States military.

For the reasons expressed, the Court concludes that DADT, when applied to Major Margaret Witt, does not further the government’s interest in promoting military readiness, unit morale and cohesion. If DADT does not significantly further an important government interest under prong two of the three-part test, it cannot be necessary to further that interest as required under prong three. Application of DADT therefore violates Major Witt’s substantive due process rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. She should be reinstated at the earliest possible moment.

Conclusion: The application of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” to Major Margaret Witt does not significantly further the government’s interest in promoting military readiness, unit morale and cohesion. Her discharge from the Air Force Reserves violated her substantive due process rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. She should be restored to her position as a Flight Nurse with the 446th AES as soon as is practicable, subject to meeting applicable regulations touching upon qualifications necessary for continued service.” US District Judge Ronald B. Leighton, US District Court Western District of Washington at Tacoma, September 24, 2010.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Appeals Court Strikes Down Florida Gay Adoption Ban

"This is an appeal of a final judgment of adoption, under which F.G. became the adoptive father of two boys, X.X.G. and N.R.G. (collectively, “the children”). The trial court found, and all parties agree, that F.G. is a fit parent and that the adoption is in the best interest of the children. The question in the case is whether the adoption should have been denied because F.G. is a homosexual. Under Florida law, a homosexual person is allowed to be a foster parent. F.G. has successfully served as a foster parent for the children since 2004. However, Florida law states, “No person eligible to adopt under this statute [the Florida Adoption Act] may adopt if that person is a homosexual.” § 63.042(3), Fla. Stat. (2006). According to the judgment, “Florida is the only remaining state to expressly ban all gay adoptions without exception.” Judge Cindy Lederman, after lengthy hearings, concluded that there is no rational basis for the statute. We agree and affirm the final judgment of adoption...

Under Florida law, homosexual persons are allowed to serve as foster parents or guardians but are barred from being considered for adoptive parents. All other persons are eligible to be considered case-by-case to be adoptive parents, but not homosexual persons - even where, as here, the adoptive parent is a fit parent and the adoption is in the best interest of the children. The Department has argued that evidence produced by its experts and F.G.’s experts supports a distinction wherein homosexual persons may serve as foster parents or guardians, but not adoptive parents. Respectfully, the portions of the record cited by the Department do not support the Department’s position. We conclude that there is no rational basis for the statute...

We affirm the judgment of adoption, which holds subsection 63.042(3), Florida Statutes, violates the equal protection provision found in article I, section 2, of the Florida Constitution." Judge Gerald B. Cope Jr., Florida Third District Court of Appeal, Miami, Sept. 22, 2010.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lady Gaga Comments on DADT Repeal Failure

"Today was an enormous DISAPPOINTMENT, for myself, and for many young American people. Not only because Don't Ask Don't Tell was not repealed by our Senators, but moreover because LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURE is being abused to stop public business, public debates, from happening while America is watching. There was a debate today, we just didn't get to watch it. Instead, it has been customary now for antiquated procedures and partisan politics to take precedence over debate, America's needs, and today, sadly, over the needs of US troops. I will keep fighting, I will not give up. I am passionate about the rights of the LGBT Community and SLDN and I will continue to activate as many young people as I can, and encourage them to get politically involved in their future." Lady Gaga, September 21, 2010.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Federal Judge Strikes Down Don't Ask Don't Tell

"Plaintiff Log Cabin Republicans attacks the constitutionality of the statute known as the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Act, found at 10 U.S.C. § 654, and its implementing regulations. Plaintiff's challenge is two-fold: it contends the Act violates its members' rights to substantive due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and its members' rights of freedom of speech, association, and to petition the government, guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The Court finds Plaintiff Log Cabin Republicans... has established standing to bring and maintain this suit on behalf of its members. Additionally, Log Cabin Republicans has demonstrated the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act, on its face, violates the constitutional rights of its members. Plaintiff is entitled to the relief sought in its First Amended Complaint: a judicial declaration to that effect and a permanent injunction barring further enforcement of the Act.

... the evidence at trial demonstrated that the Act does not further significantly the Government's important interests in military readiness or unit cohesion, nor is it necessary to further those interests. Defendants' discharge of homosexual servicemembers pursuant to the Act not only has declined precipitously since the United States began combat in Afghanistan in 2001, but Defendants also delay individual enforcement of the Act while a servicemember is deployed in a combat zone. If the presence of a homosexual soldier in the Armed Forces were a threat to military readiness or unit cohesion, it surely follows that in times of war it would be more urgent, not less, to discharge him or her, and to do so with dispatch. The abrupt and marked decline – 50% from 2001 to 2002 and steadily thereafter – in Defendants' enforcement of the Act following the onset of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Defendants' practice of delaying investigation and discharge until after combat deployment, demonstrate that the Act is not necessary to further the Government's interest in military readiness. In summary, Defendants have failed to satisfy their burden under the Witt standard. They have not shown the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy "significantly furthers" the Government's interests nor that it is "necessary" in order to achieve those goals. Plaintiff has relied not just on the admissions described above that the Act does not further military readiness, but also has shown the following:

By impeding the efforts to recruit and retain an all-volunteer military force, the Act contributes to critical troop shortages and thus harms rather than furthers the Government's interest in military readiness; by causing the discharge of otherwise qualified servicemembers with critical skills..., the Act harms rather than furthers the Government's interest in military readiness; by contributing to the necessity for the Armed Forces to permit enlistment through increased use of the "moral waiver" policy and lower educational and physical fitness standards, the Act harms rather than furthers the Government's interest in military readiness; defendants' actions in delaying investigations regarding and enforcement of the Act until after a servicemember returns from combat deployment show that the Policy is not necessary to further the Government's interest in military readiness or unit cohesion; by causing the discharge of well-trained and competent servicemembers who are well-respected by their superiors and subordinates, the Act has harmed rather than furthered unit cohesion and morale; the Act is not necessary to protect the privacy of servicemembers because military housing quarters already provide sufficient protection for this interest.

The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act infringes the fundamental rights of United States servicemembers in many ways, some described above. The Act denies homosexuals serving in the Armed Forces the right to enjoy "intimate conduct" in their personal relationships. The Act denies them the right to speak about their loved ones while serving their country in uniform; it punishes them with discharge for writing a personal letter, in a foreign language, to a person of the same sex with whom they shared an intimate relationship before entering military service; it discharges them for including information in a personal communication from which an unauthorized reader might discern their homosexuality. In order to justify the encroachment on these rights, Defendants faced the burden at trial of showing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act was necessary to significantly further the Government's important interests in military readiness and unit cohesion. Defendants failed to meet that burden. Thus, Plaintiff, on behalf of its members, is entitled to judgment in its favor on the first claim in its First Amended Complaint for violation of the substantive due process rights guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment.

Conclusion: Throughout the consideration and resolution of this controversy, the court has kept well in mind the overriding principle that "judicial deference to such congressional exercise of authority is at its apogee when legislative action under the congressional authority to raise and support armies and make rules and regulations for their governance is challenged... Nonetheless, as the Supreme Court held... "deference does not mean abdication."... Plaintiff has demonstrated that it is entitled to the relief sought on behalf of its members, a judicial declaration that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act violates the Fifth and First Amendments, and a permanent injunction barring its enforcement. It is so ordered." Judge Virginia A. Phillips, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Sept. 9, 2010.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cal Gov Opposes Stay of Prop 8 Decision

"Defendants Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his official capacity as Governor of California, Mark B. Horton, in his official capacity as Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Registrar of Vital Statistics, and Linette Scott, in her official capacity as Deputy Director of Health Information & Strategic Planning for the California Department of Public Health (collectively, "the Administration"), oppose defendant-intervenors’ "Motion for Stay Pending Appeal." From the outset, the Administration has urged the Court to resolve the important constitutional questions at issue in this case as expeditiously as possible. Now, after extensive discovery, a lengthy trial, thorough briefing, and development of a complete evidentiary record, the Court has done so. After cataloging the evidence and making detailed factual findings and legal conclusions, the Court has enjoined enforcement of Proposition 8 and, in effect, ordered California to resume issuing marriage licenses in a gender-neutral manner, as had been done before Proposition 8 went into effect. In doing so, the Court has fulfilled its constitutional duty to determine fundamental questions of due process, equal protection, and freedom from discrimination. The Administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the Court’s judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Doing so is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect. Conversely, the Administration submits that staying the Court’s judgment pending appeal is not necessary to protect any governmental or public interest. As the Court has pointed out, California has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples without suffering any resulting harm. Government officials can resume issuing such licenses without administrative delay or difficulty. For these reasons, the Administration respectfully requests that the Court deny defendant-intervenors’ motion for stay." August 6, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [his attorneys] submitted this brief in opposition to the motion to stay U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling invalidating Proposition 8.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Proposition 8 Struck Down

"The arguments surrounding Proposition 8 raise a question similar to that addressed in Lawrence, when the Court asked whether a majority of citizens could use the power of the state to enforce "profound and deep convictions accepted as ethical and moral principles" through the criminal code. The question here is whether California voters can enforce those same principles through regulation of marriage licenses. They cannot.

California’s obligation is to treat its citizens equally, not to "mandate [its] own moral code." "[M]oral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest," has never been a rational basis for legislation. Tradition alone cannot support legislation. Proponents’ purported rationales are nothing more than post-hoc justifications. While the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit post-hoc rationales, they must connect to the classification drawn. Here, the purported state interests fit so poorly with Proposition 8 that they are irrational, as explained above. What is left is evidence that Proposition 8 enacts a moral view that there is something "wrong" with same-sex couples. The evidence at trial regarding the campaign to pass Proposition 8 uncloaks the most likely explanation for its passage: a desire to advance the belief that opposite-sex couples are morally superior to same-sex couples. The campaign relied heavily on negative stereotypes about gays and lesbians and focused on protecting children from inchoate threats vaguely associated with gays and lesbians... At trial, proponents’ counsel attempted through cross-examination to show that the campaign wanted to protect children from learning about same-sex marriage in school... The evidence shows, however, that Proposition 8 played on a fear that exposure to homosexuality would turn children into homosexuals and that parents should dread having children who are not heterosexual.

The testimony of George Chauncey places the Protect Marriage campaign advertisements in historical context as echoing messages from previous campaigns to enact legal measures to disadvantage gays and lesbians. The Protect Marriage campaign advertisements ensured California voters had these previous fear-inducing messages in mind. The evidence at trial shows those fears to be completely unfounded. Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. ("[L]aws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected."). Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

CONCLUSION: Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

REMEDIES: Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to samesex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result... moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings. Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment without bond in favor of plaintiffs and plaintiff-intervenors and against defendants and defendant-intervenors pursuant to FRCP 58.

August 4, 2010, Vaughn R. Walker, United States District Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Massachusetts Federal Court Dooms DOMA

[T]his court is soundly convinced, based on the foregoing analysis, that the government’s proffered rationales, past and current, are without “footing in the realities of the subject addressed by [DOMA].” And “when the proffered rationales for a law are clearly and manifestly implausible, a reviewing court may infer that animus is the only explicable basis. [Because] animus alone cannot constitute a legitimate government interest,” this court finds that DOMA lacks a rational basis to support it. This court simply “cannot say that [DOMA] is directed to any identifiable legitimate purpose or discrete objective. It is a status-based enactment divorced from any factual context from which [this court] could discern a relationship to legitimate [government] interests.” Indeed, Congress undertook this classification for the one purpose that lies entirely outside of legislative bounds, to disadvantage a group of which it disapproves. And such a classification, the Constitution clearly will not permit.

In the wake of DOMA, it is only sexual orientation that differentiates a married couple entitled to federal marriage-based benefits from one not so entitled. And this court can conceive of no way in which such a difference might be relevant to the provision of the benefits at issue. By premising eligibility for these benefits on marital status in the first instance, the federal government signals to this court that the relevant distinction to be drawn is between married individuals and unmarried individuals. To further divide the class of married individuals into those with spouses of the same sex and those with spouses of the opposite sex is to create a distinction without meaning. And where, as here, “there is no reason to believe that the disadvantaged class is different, in relevant respects” from a similarly situated class, this court may conclude that it is only irrational prejudice that motivates the challenged classification. As irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest, this court must hold that Section 3 of DOMA as applied to Plaintiffs violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

For the foregoing reasons, Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss [#20] is DENIED and Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment [#25] is ALLOWED... AN ORDER HAS ISSUED.” United States District Judge Joseph L. Tauro, United States District Judge, July 8, 2010.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

DADT Repeal First Step

"Today, the Senate Armed Services Committee took a historic step forward to strengthen our military effectiveness and to begin to end a discriminatory policy that dishonors those patriotic Americans who are willing to defend our country... My strong belief is that if Americans seek to put their lives on the line to serve this blessed country of ours, we should not deny those patriots that opportunity because of their sexual orientation. The action which the Committee took today makes our country stronger and better." Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), May 27, 2010; following the Senate Armed Services Committee’s vote of 16-12 to include in the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act an amendment he introduced that would repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ricky Martin - In His Own Words

"En los últimos meses me di a la tarea de escribir mis memorias. Un proyecto que sabia seria uno verdaderamente importante para mi porque desde que escribí la primera frase me di cuenta que seria la herramienta que ayudaría a liberarme de cosas que venia cargando desde hace mucho tiempo. Cosas que pesaban demasiado. Escribiendo este minucioso inventario de mi vida, me acerque a mis verdades. Y esto es de celebrar! Si existe un lugar que me llena porque estremece mis emociones, es el escenario, es mi vicio. La música el espectáculo, el aplauso, estar frente a un publico me hace sentir que soy capaz de cualquier cosa. Es un tipo de adrenalina y euforia que no quiero que deje de correr por mis venas jamás. Si ustedes, el publico y la musa me lo permiten, espero seguir en los escenarios muchos años mas. Pero hoy la serenidad me lleva a un lugar muy especial, uno de reflexión, comprensión y mucha iluminación. Me siento libre! Y lo quiero compartir. Mucha gente me dijo que no era importante hacerlo, que no valía la pena, que todo lo que trabaje y todo lo que había logrado se colapsaría. Que muchos en este mundo no estarían preparados para aceptar mi verdad, mi naturaleza. Y como estos consejos venían de personas que amo con locura, decidí seguir adelante con mi "casi verdad". MUY MAL. Dejarme seducir por el miedo fue un verdadero sabotaje a mi vida. Hoy me responsabilizo por completo de todas mis decisiones, y de todas mis acciones. Y si me preguntaran el dia de hoy ¿Ricky, a que le tienes miedo? Les contestaría - "a la sangre que corre por las calles de los países en Guerra, a la esclavitud sexual infantil, al terrorismo, al cinismo de algunos hombres en el poder, al secuestro de la fe". Pero miedo a mi naturaleza, a mi verdad? NO MAS! Al contrario, estas me dan valor y firmeza. Justo lo que necesito para mi y para los míos, y mas ahora que soy padre de 2 criaturas que son seres de luz. Tengo que estar a su altura. Seguir viviendo como lo hice hasta hoy, seria opacar indirectamente ese brillo puro con el cual mis hijos han nacido. BASTA YA! LAS COSAS TIENEN QUE CAMBIAR! Estoy claro que esto no se supone que pasara hace 5 ni hace 10 años atrás . Esto se supone que pasara hoy. Hoy es mi dia, este es mi tiempo, mi momento. Que pasara de ahora en adelante? Quien sabe. Solo me puedo enfocar en lo que estoy viviendo ahora. Estos años en silencio y reflexión me han fortalecido y me recordaron que el amor vive dentro de mi, que la aceptación la encuentro en mi interior, y que la verdad solo trae la calma. Hoy para mi el significado de la felicidad toma otra dimensión. Ha sido un proceso muy intenso, angustiante y doloroso pero también liberador. Les juro que cada palabra que están leyendo aquí nace de amor, purificación, fortaleza, aceptación y desprendimiento. Que escribir estas líneas es el acercamiento a mi paz interna, parte vital de mi evolución. Hoy ACEPTO MI HOMOSEXUALIDAD como un regalo que me da la vida. ¡Me siento bendecido de ser quien soy!"

"A few months ago I decided to write my memoirs, a project I knew was going to bring me closer to an amazing turning point in my life. From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside. Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And this is something worth celebrating. For many years, there has been only one place where I am in touch with my emotions fearlessly and that's the stage. Being on stage fills my soul in many ways, almost completely. It's my vice. The music, the lights and the roar of the audience are elements that make me feel capable of anything. This rush of adrenaline is incredibly addictive. I don't ever want to stop feeling these emotions. But it is serenity that brings me to where I'm at right now. An amazing emotional place of comprehension, reflection and enlightenment. At this moment I'm feeling the same freedom I usually feel only on stage, without a doubt, I need to share. Many people told me: "Ricky it's not important", "it's not worth it", "all the years you've worked and everything you've built will collapse", "many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature". Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions. If someone asked me today, "Ricky, what are you afraid of?" I would answer "the blood that runs through the streets of countries at war, child slavery, terrorism, the cynicism of some people in positions of power, the misinterpretation of faith." But fear of my truth? Not at all! On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage. This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things every day. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids were born with. Enough is enough. This has to change. This was not supposed to happen 5 or 10 years ago, it is supposed to happen now. Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment. These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed. What will happen from now on? It doesn't matter. I can only focus on what's happening to me in this moment. The word "happiness" takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution. I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am."

Ricky Martin, March 29, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

President Equalizes Hospital Rights

"There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean - a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides - whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay... Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives - unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated. For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real consequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients' medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients' needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall. My Administration can expand on these important steps to ensure that patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays. By this memorandum, I request that you take the following steps: 1) Initiate appropriate rulemaking... to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. 2) Ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid are in full compliance with regulations... promulgated to guarantee that all patients' advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients' representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients' care. 3) Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decisionmaking, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families." President Barack Obama, April 15, 2010.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chief Justice Denies Stay on DC Gay Marriage

"Petitioners in this case are Washington D. C. voters whowould like to subject the District of Columbia’s ReligiousFreedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 to a public referendum before it goes into effect,pursuant to procedures set forth in the D. C. Charter. See D. C. Code §§1–204.101 to 1–204.107 (2001–2006). The Act expands the definition of marriage in the District toinclude same-sex couples. See D. C. Act 18–248; 57 D. C. Reg. 27 (Jan. 1, 2010).

The D. C. Charter specifies that legislation enacted by the D. C. Council may be blocked if a sufficient number of voters request a referendum on the issue. D. C. Code §1– 204.102. The Council, however, purported in 1979 toexempt from this provision any referendum that would violate the D. C. Human Rights Act. See §§1–1001.16(b)(1)(C), 2–1402.73 (2001–2007). The D. C. Board of Elections, D. C. Superior Court, and D. C. Court ofAppeals denied petitioners’ request for a referendum onthe grounds that the referendum would violate the HumanRights Act.

Petitioners argue that this action was improper, because D.C. Council legislation providing that a referendum is notrequired cannot trump a provision of the D. C. Charterspecifying that a referendum is required. See Price v. District of Columbia Bd. of Elections, 645 A. 2d 594, 599– 600 (D. C. 1994). They point out that if the Act does become law, they will permanently lose any right to pursue a referendum under the Charter. See §1–204.102(b)(2) (2001–2006). Petitioners ask the Court for a stay that would prevent the Act from going into effect, as expected,on March 3, 2010.

This argument has some force. Without addressing themerits of petitioners’ underlying claim, however, I conclude that a stay is not warranted. First, as "a matter of judicial policy"—if not "judicial power"—"it has been the practice of the Court to defer to the decisions of the courtsof the District of Columbia on matters of exclusively localconcern." Whalen v. United States, 445 U. S. 684, 687 (1980); see also Fisher v. United States, 328 U. S. 463, 476 (1946).

Second, the Act at issue was adopted by the Council and placed before Congress for the 30-day period of reviewrequired by the D. C. Charter, see §1–206.02(c)(1). A jointresolution of disapproval by Congress would prevent the Act from going into effect, but Congress has chosen not to act. The challenged provision purporting to exempt certain D. C. Council actions from the referendum process,§1–1001.16(b)(1)(C), was itself subject to review by Congress before it went into effect. While these considerations are of course not determinative of the legal issues, they doweigh against granting petitioners’ request for a stay,given that the concern is that action by the Council violates an Act of Congress.

Finally, while petitioners’ challenge to the Act by way ofa referendum apparently will become moot when the Actgoes into effect, petitioners have also pursued a ballot initiative, under related procedures in the D. C. Charter,that would give D. C. voters a similar opportunity to repeal the Act if they so choose. See §§1–204.101 to 1– 204.107; Jackson v. District of Columbia Bd. of Elections and Ethics, Civ. A. No. 2009 CA 008613 B (D. C. Super., Jan. 14, 2010). Their separate petition for a ballot initiative is now awaiting consideration by the D. C. Court of Appeals, which will need to address many of the same legal questions that petitioners have raised here. Unlike their petition for a referendum, however, the request foran initiative will not become moot when the Act becomes law. On the contrary, the D. C. Court of Appeals will havethe chance to consider the relevant legal questions ontheir merits, and petitioners will have the right to challenge any adverse decision through a petition for certiorariin this Court at the appropriate time.

The foregoing considerations, taken together, lead me toconclude that the Court is unlikely to grant certiorari inthis case. Accordingly, the request for a stay is denied.

It is so ordered"

Chief Justice John Roberts, US Supreme Court, acting as Circuit Justice, March 2, 2010. [Same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia is legal starting Wednesday, March 3, 2010]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mass. A.G. Supports DOMA Lawsuit

"We strongly support the efforts of GLAD and its clients to pursue equal rights for all married couples in Massachusetts. Since the Supreme Judicial Court issued its decision in Goodridge in 2003, Massachusetts has taken many affirmative steps to ensure and solidify marriage equality in the Commonwealth. Despite all of these efforts, married individuals in same-sex relationships do not enjoy equal rights in the Commonwealth. DOMA is a law that codifies discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Because of this law, individuals in same-sex marriages often pay more in federal income taxes, are not eligible for surviving spouse benefits from the Social Security Administration and, if they are employed by the federal government, cannot obtain healthcare coverage for their spouses. Today’s lawsuit describes compelling stories of individuals in committed, loving, and lasting relationships, who have been deprived of rights and protections that they rightfully deserve. They are simply seeking the legal protections given to all other married persons. Massachusetts sees no reason to view these couples in any other way than as married couples, and we hope that this lawsuit results in a similar outlook at the federal level." Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, March 3, 2009; in response to
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filing a civil action on behalf of 15 Massachusetts residents in federal district court challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA"), which limits the federal definition of marriage to a legal union between one man and one woman - the lawsuit alleges that DOMA, as applied to several federal programs, denies equal protection of the laws to married individuals in same-sex relationships by precluding them from obtaining legal rights and protections available to all other married individuals.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Clinton and Obama Slam Uganda Homophobia

"And I recently called President Museveni, whom I have known through the prayer breakfast, and expressed the strongest concerns about a law being considered in the parliament of Uganda." Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are - whether it's here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda." President Barack Obama.

National Prayer Breakfast.Washington, DC, February 4, 2010, concerning proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

JCS Chair Urges Repeal of DADT

"Over these last two months, the Chiefs and I have reviewed the fundamental premises behind Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, as well as its application in practice over the last 16 years. We understand perfectly the President’s desire to see the law repealed and we owe him our best military advice about the impact this change in policy would have on the military. While the Chiefs and I have not developed our advice, we believe that any implementation plan for a policy permitting homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces must be carefully derived, sufficiently thorough, and thoughtfully executed. The review group... will no doubt give us that time and an even deeper level of understanding. My personal belief is that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution." Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, February 3, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Prez Plans Repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

"We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we're all created equal; that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else. We must continually renew this promise. My administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do." President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, January 27, 2010.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

San Francisco Mayor Reiterates Support

"To the Editor: Re "Newsom Is Eclipsed in Marriage Movement" (news article, Bay Area edition, Jan. 17): From the moment we issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples six years ago, I knew we were beginning a long-term battle that would ultimately be taken up one day in courtrooms in California and Washington. The federal trial in San Francisco this month is the latest chapter in that battle and a logical result of the events that have unfolded since San Francisco wed more than 4,000 same-sex couples in 2004. But victory in the fight for marriage equality is as much about changing people’s hearts and minds as about changing the law. That’s why we first married Phyllis Lyon and the late Del Martin, together for more than 50 years, to give a much-needed human face to the struggle for marriage equality. In that sense, your article is correct that I have been "eclipsed" in the fight for marriage equality. Indeed, all of us, whether politician or lawyer or advocate, are eclipsed every day by the stories of Phyllis and Del and the thousands of same-sex couples who have married since 2004. Because the fight for marriage equality is about them — the men and women whose loving, committed relationships are still treated as unequal in the eyes of the law. I have never been prouder of our decision in 2004 to defy California’s unjust marriage laws and do our part to carry the banner for civil rights. And we will never step back from our commitment to marriage equality until justice prevails in California and in our nation’s capital." Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco, Jan. 20, 2010. Letter to the Editor of The New York Times, published January 22, 2010.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Portugese Parliament Okays Same Sex Marriage

"Casamento de pessoas do mesmo sexo é marco na luta contra a discriminação
O casamento civil entre pessoas do mesmo sexo «reconhece direitos a cidadãos a quem esses direitos eram negados, mas não prejudica nem diminui nenhum direito dos demais; abre novas oportunidades de realização pessoal e familiar a pessoas injustamente privadas de tais oportunidades, mas em nada afecta a situação e as opções das outras pessoas; alarga um direito civil, mas em nada questiona ou perturba a convicção de quem quer que seja; acaba com o sofrimento inútil, sofrimento esse que só o preconceito, a intolerância ea insensibilidade permitiram que durasse tanto tempo."

[translation] Marriage to same sex is a landmark in the fight against discrimination
The civil marriage between same-sex 'grants rights to citizens to whom these rights were denied, but shall not affect or diminish any rights of others, opens up new opportunities for personal and familiar to people unjustly deprived of such opportunities, but does not affect the situation and the choices of other people, extending a civil right, but not in any way question or disturb the conviction of anyone, just to unnecessary suffering, suffering that only prejudice, intolerance and insensitivity led to lasting so long.

Prime Minister José Sócrates, January 8, 2009, on Parliament's approval of the bill legalising same sex marriage in Portugal.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Jersey Governor Admonishes Senate

"While I appreciate the Senate's willingness to publicly debate the marriage equality bill, I am deeply disappointed by the final tally on this common-sense measure that would have assured equal rights for all New Jerseyans. Most assuredly, this is an issue of civil rights and civil liberties, the foundation of our state and federal constitutions. Denying any group of people a fundamental human right because of who they are, or whom they love, is wrong, plain and simple. As was the case when Americans faced legal discrimination on the basis of their race or gender, history will frown on the denial of the basic right of marriage equality. I regret that the state's recognition of equal justice and equal treatment under the law will be delayed. Certainly this process and the resulting debate is historic, but unfortunately, today's vote was squarely on the wrong side of history." New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, January 7, 2010, after failure of the New Jersey Senate to approve marriage equality legislation.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gay Marriage a Reality in New Hampshire

"Beginning on New Year's Day, January 1, 2010, at 12:01 AM, New Hampshire will have marriage equality within our laws for all of our citizens. I have expressed my thanks in the past months to so many people in and out of government who have made that day possible. At the moment that House Bill 436 becomes effective, it will have been the result of twenty, even thirty years of advocacy for equality by many people throughout New Hampshire -- thousands of people, some whom are no longer with us except in spirit -- who have brought us to this point. And as we all know, work still needs to be done. Writers and bloggers on contributed greatly to the success of HB 436. On the dark days when the votes were too close, or when the bill stumbled, BlueHampshire hampsters came to the front. Beginning on March 18th, we had 14 core votes on the bill in the House and Senate: an initial House Judiciary Committee vote of 10-10, a House floor defeat a week later of 182-183, followed minutes later by a victory of 186-179, then a Senate Judiciary Committee vote of 2-3, followed by a Senate floor vote of 13-11, and numerous other close votes followed on related "religious protection" bills. But we won despite our opponents putting up every parliamentary roadblock they could think of. On this issue, every supporter made a difference along the way. There are many heroes of marriage equality. I do try to keep my Blogposts non-personal - but on a personal note, although I haven't talked about him much in recent years except to a few people, I've been thinking a lot during the past few weeks about my longtime partner, Darryl. He died after an auto accident two days after our 10th Anniversary. It was quite some years ago, so the good memories remain. I'm pretty good at visualization, so I felt that Darryl was next to me when I was standing behind Governor John Lynch as he signed HB 437, the Civil Unions bill, on May 31, 2007. And I also felt Darryl standing with us as the Governor signed HB 436, marriage equality, on June 3rd of this year. He had a wonderful smile that day. I'm fighting off a cold right now, but at the moment I'm hoping to be at the State House on New Year's Eve. Wherever I am at that minute just past midnight, or if I'm there in the audience looking up at the ceremonies of several couples being married, in my mind Darryl will be there with me. We'll be holding hands. I know we would have been among the first to be married if he was still here -- we often joked that we were married long before it seemed possible. We'll be together again eventually, but that moment of 01/01/10 - 12:01 AM will bring a special smile to me. And for that, I offer a very special thank you to everyone who helped make this possible -- for the dialogue, for the passage of marriage equality, and for your acceptance." New Hampshire Rep. Jim Splaine, December 30, 2009.