Friday, January 29, 2010

News on Marriage Equality, Local and National

I don't subscribe to any politicians' newsletters, but I know people who do, and sometimes they send me some good stuff. Maryland State Senator Rich Madaleno sent out an email yesterday that has some important news:
Today was another important day for marriage equality in Maryland. I am pleased to report two new cosponsors of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act: Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Bethesda) and Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Pikesville). We are continuing to gain momentum.

Today was also the hearing on House Bill 90, introduced by Delegate Emmett Burns (D-Catonsville), that would bar Maryland from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. Del. Burns introduced this bill to preempt the opinion I requested of Attorney General Doug Gansler on whether our state would recognize these marriages. As you have probably read, Maryland has historically recognized marriages from other states, even if those marriages could not have been performed in our state.

Opponents of marriage equality stated that polygamous marriages and marriages between closely related family members have long been prohibited from being recognized in our state on the grounds that they are “abhorrent” to public policy of the state. They tried in vain today to make the case that our marriages and relationships are equally abhorrent, but the legislature’s actions through the years to grant rights to same-sex couples legally invalidate this position. Our modest domestic partner protections clearly show that Maryland has an interest in supporting same-sex marriages and it was our work as legislators and your work as advocates that set up the framework for our arguments today.

We will continue to fight the mean spirited efforts of our opponents which were on full display at the hearing. Del. Don Dwyer (R-Glen Burnie) went so far as to imply that if Doug Gansler issued a positive opinion that he would be in violation of his oath of office! While we still have no word on the Attorney General’s opinion, I am confident we are closer than ever to having a mechanism for marriage equality in Maryland.

There is no reasonable argument against allowing same-sex couples to marry, and lots of reasons it is a good idea. Stigmatizing gays won't make them straight, there is nothing to gain by denying committed gay couples the same rights that committed straight couples enjoy.

Madaleno suggests two openings here. First, Maryland recognizes heterosexual marriages from other states, even if those marriages could not have been performed here. Maybe the couple was of legal age in their home state, but too young here, we still recognize that marriage as legal. Second, Maryland gives some protection to same-sex domestic partners, and that does suggest that the state agrees there is something special in those relationships, something deserving legal recognition, the same quality that distinguishes married couples.

Interesting to see what's happening with Proposition 8 in California. As Shannon Minter at Pam's House Blend wrote this week:
It has been an amazing two and a half weeks. This trial has been a truly historic moment for our community. It is the first time a federal court has heard, first hand, from real live witnesses, about the harm that the denial of marriage equality causes lesbians, gay men and their families every day. It's also the first time a federal court has heard the arguments in favor of marriage equality presented live in court by an array of internationally renowned scholars who are truly experts in their respective fields.

What stands out the most after having seen all the witnesses on both sides is how overwhelmingly one-sided the evidence in this case turned out to be. The plaintiffs, represented by some of the most skilled attorneys in the country, laid out a well-crafted, meticulous case, backed by the testimony of half a dozen of the most respected historians, psychologists, economists, and political scientists who study marriage, sexual orientation, and child development. Using the Prop 8 proponents' own outrageous and inflammatory words, ads, and emails, the plaintiffs powerfully demonstrated that Prop 8 was a direct product of hostility, fear-mongering, and demonization of lesbians and gay men. And through the deeply moving testimony of the plaintiffs and other members of our community, they proved beyond question that denying same-sex couples the right to marry causes great harm to LGBT people and their children.

Stacked up against this mountain of facts, scholarship, and science, the Prop 8 proponents - though represented by fine attorneys - were not able to come forward with a case of their own. Before trial, they dropped nearly every witness they had planned to present and relied entirely on two poorly qualified, ill-prepared expert witnesses, neither of whom was able to establish that banning same-sex couples from getting married has any rational or legitimate purpose relating to procreation, child rearing, tradition, or any of the other justifications that have been offered in the past in support of anti-gay discrimination. In fact, nearly all of the defendants' experts agreed with the plaintiffs that marriage equality would benefit same-sex couples and their families in many real, tangible ways.

There is no argument for banning marriage between two individuals of the same sex, other than bigotry, or as Minter put it, "hostility, fear-mongering, and demonization of lesbians and gay men." The people of California might have been persuaded to vote against allowing it, but the mob is not allowed to rule lawlessly, our way of government includes measures to protect the rights of minorities and underprivileged individuals. As we noted recently, groups like the Alliance Defense Fund exist solely to force the the majority's will on minorities. Gay and lesbian citizens are definitely a minority and always will be, in this country we respect their rights, whether we personally approve or not. News from Madaleno is encouraging, and we hope that Minter's analysis is in line with the way the court sees it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's a bone for you liberal nuts:

"WASHINGTON (Jan. 29) -- The economy grew faster than expected at the end of last year.

The 5.7 percent annual growth rate in the fourth quarter was the fastest pace since 2003. The Commerce Department report Friday is the strongest evidence to date that the worst recession since the 1930s ended last year."

January 29, 2010 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not bad

too bad it didn't come out before barry's speech

January 29, 2010 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

watch out, NOW

Sarah's getting involved now:

"The National Organization for Women is firing back at Sarah Palin, who took issue with the group's opposition to a pro-life Super Bowl ad that will feature college football player Tim Tebow.

The 30-second spot will feature Tebow and his mother, Pam, telling the story of her decision not to end her difficult pregnancy with the future Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in 1987. Tebow has said his mother's courage often persuades other women not to have abortions, though the word "abortion" will not be mentioned in the spot. Focus on the Family is paying upwards of $2.5 million to run the ad.

NOW lashed out at CBS for accepting the spot. In a message posted to its Web site under the banner "Media Hall of Shame," NOW wrote that the Tebow ad will promote "ideology over medicine" and glamorize a woman's decision to "go against her doctor's advice to terminate an at-risk pregnancy." The group called CBS' acceptance of the ad an "outrageous move."

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Palin took up the issue on her Facebook page, writing that NOW is "looking at the pro-life issue backwards. Women should be reminded that they are strong enough and smart enough to make decisions that allow for career and educational opportunities while still giving their babies a chance at life.""

ouch, take that, Terry O'Neill!!

January 29, 2010 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"(CNN) - President Obama is taking heat from a Senate Democrat over how he dealt with the issue of health care in his first State of the Union speech.

"I think the president should have been more clear about a way forward on health care last night," Sen. Mary Landrieu told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday.

"Mailing in general suggestions, sending them over the transom is not necessarily going to work," the Louisiana Democrat added."

Now, now, Mary. That's just way Barry rolls.

"Obama didn't address the signature issue of his first year in office until about halfway through the 71-minute speech, and then only discussed it for about five minutes. But he urged Congress not to abandon the effort that now appears in limbo following the Democratic Party's recent loss of its supermajority in the Senate."

You know, Landrieu has summed up the Obama presidency pretty well.

Let's just start calling it the "Transom Presidency"!!

January 29, 2010 11:56 AM  
Blogger David S. Fishback said...

The transcripts of the Prop 8 trial in California -- where the proponents of same sex marriage are being represented by Bush II Solicitor General Ted Olson and Gore 2000 lawyer David Boeis -- may be found at

Anon: By your lights, I am one of those "liberal nuts." Just as capitalism was saved by FDR's New Deal, I suspect history will judge that, the country having forgotten the lessons of the 1920s and 1930s, got itself into trouble in the first decade of the 21st Century, when capitalism was, this time, saved by Barack Obama and his Administration. Hopefully, most of the electorate will recognize this, and not fall prey to the carping of Republicans and tea-baggers. The next months will be a real test of whether we, as a nation, will behave as adults or as impatient children.

As for the Tebow ad at the Superbowl, I am interested in seeing it (although I usually use the time during the ads to read the Sunday newspaper). If the ad simply encourages women to not terminate high-risk pregnancies because sometimes things work out very well, I'd have no problem with that. Adults should be able to weigh the risks and benefits in any difficult situation. So if the ad simply urges people to make the same choice the Tebow family made, I'd have no problem with airing the ad. But if the ad implies (as I suspect it will, coming from Focus on the Family) that women should be prohibited from having the option of making choices or insists that God demands that women proceed with high risk pregnacies regardless of the consequences, then the network should provide an opportunity for pro-choice groups to respond. (Or I suppose they could put on for free the inclusive ad they barred a few years ago from the United Church of Christ ("God is still talking"),even thought that ad was on a different issue.)

January 29, 2010 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The jury deliberated for just 37 minutes before finding Scott Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., guilty of premeditated, first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting death.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years when he is sentenced March 9. Prosecutor Nola Foulston said she would pursue a so-called "Hard 50" sentence, which would require Roeder to serve at least 50 years before he can be considered for parole.

Roeder had confessed publicly before the trial and admitted again on the witness stand that he shot Tiller in the head in the foyer of the church where the doctor was serving as an usher. He testified he felt the lives of unborn children were in "immediate danger" because of Tiller.

Roeder also was convicted of aggravated assault for pointing a gun at two ushers at Tiller's Wichita church after the shooting.

January 29, 2010 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Michele Bachmann has become the latest high-profile conservative to bag the rapidly unraveling Tea Party Convention in Nashville next week.

The Minnesota Republican, who has become something of a heroine of the Tea Party movement, decided Thursday morning that she is cancelling her appearance at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel next Friday, where she was scheduled to be a breakfast speaker.

Bachmann’s office cited the same concerns that other Tea Party activists have voiced about the first-of-its-kind national gathering: namely, the for-profit model of organizer Judson Phillips, a self-described “small town lawyer” with a history of financial problems.

Phillips has announced that the $549-a-head convention featuring Sarah Palin is sold out. But Tea Party critics and allies alike have been asking questions about what Phillips plans to do with the money. Concrete answers have been in short supply, and in the end it looked like too big a risk for any public office holder.

“We’re out,” said Bachmann spokesman Dave Dziok. “It comes down to conflicting advice as to how these profits are going to be used after the fact. We’d rather err on the side of caution than do it and find out it’s improper... with somebody saying ‘they’re using the money from an event you were at to support this and this,’ which comes as a direct conflict with what you’re doing as a member of Congress.”

One of the only other elected officials scheduled to appear, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., also has backed out, citing similar concerns.

Both Blackburn and Bachmann sought legal guidance in recent days from lawyers in the House Ethics Committee. According to Dziok, they got “conflicting advice.”

That was enough to put on the brakes.

No word yet on Palin’s plans, but as a former government official, she may not face the same legal questions.

Unlike Palin, who is reportedly getting a $100,000 speaking fee, Dziok said Bachmann was not getting any money for her speech.

January 29, 2010 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delay criticized in same-sex union ruling

Gansler politicizing issue, GOP lawmakers contend,0,3201281.story

January 29, 2010 3:40 PM  

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