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DOJ Reportedly To Meet With LGBT Groups

Jim Burroway

June 19th, 2009

In the wake of the nationwide anger being expressed over the Justice Department’s insulting court brief defending the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” the Obama administration has begun to react with some very limited, short term steps to try to assuage that anger. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing federal agencies to adopt policies to treat their LGBT employees on equal footing with their other employees. (That memorandum, however, doesn’t include key employment benefits like health care or retirement, which are prohibited by federal law.) The White House has also directed the Census Bureau to determine changes in its procedures to allow same-sex unions to be counted.

Both steps however are very tiny steps, and they have done little to quell the outrage over the DOJ’s brief. That anger continues to threaten the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT fundraiser slated for next week.

Now The Plum Line blog is reporting that the Justice Department has scheduled a private meeting with major LGBT groups for next week:

Tracy Russo, a spokesperson for Justice, confirmed the meeting to me, after I posted below that top gay rights lawyers were miffed that administration lawyers had rebuffed their requests to meet and discuss ongoing litigation involving DOMA.

At the meeting — which hasn’t been announced and is expected to include leading gay rights groups like GLAD and Lambda Legal — both sides are expected to hash out how to proceed with pending DOMA cases.

The Justice Department is due to file another brief by June 29 in a lawsuit filed by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders in Boston’s Federal District Court on behalf of eight married couples and three surviving spouses from Massachusetts who have been denied federal legal protections available to spouses. That DOMA challenge, Gill v. Office of Personel Management is considered a much stronger suit than Smelt v. United States, which the recent controversial DOJ brief addressed.

I don’t know whether LGBT groups would be permitted to weigh in on Gill v. OPM specifically. But if this meeting really does happen, it does appear to be a sign that the Justice Department may try to head off the kind of missteps it made with its Smelt v. US filing.

And if that’s the case, then it appears that the Obama Administration may have begun to recover its sense of hearing. But the only lesson I think we can safely draw from all of this is to keep shouting.

Comments

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Patrick
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

I apologize if this was already discussed, I just didn’t see it. But I wonder about the following scenario:

1) Bush et al fill the DOJ with conservative Christians at all levels; 2) Obama moves in but does not replace people at all levels; 3) the DOJ has to make a filing on DOMA and it happens to be conservative Christians who get to do it; 4) the notorious filing comes out filled with anti-gay rhetoric that is consistent with conservative Christian rhetoric; 5) gays are outraged; 6) Obama is clueless why gays are upset; 7) and here we are.

It makes sense to me, but I haven’t looked as carefully at all the issues as others, so I’m predisposed to be mistaken.

Lindoro Almaviva
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

Patrick:

Good guess, but then why do we have a secretary of Justice? Isn’t he supposed to lead? I am not saying that he needs to micromanage everything that happens there, but as the nations Top lawyer, shouldn’t he have had meetings with the team that was preparing the filing? Shouldn’t he been briefed on the contents of such filing so he could steer the boat in the direction that the Government wanted?

Am I way off base here?

John
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

We have all learned a good lesson through McClurkin, Rev. Warren, the DADT dismissals and the DoMA brief. Nobody has ever gotten civil right by quietly sitting on the side lines and waiting.

Nobody else is sitting on the sidelines quietly waiting their turn. In a representative democracy, we need to keep the pressure on our representatives (and president) to remind them that we are still here and we are not going away. In many ways, the ongoing missteps of the Obama Administration has been exactly what GLBTs needed in order to get angry, get organized and demand our rights. The Prop 8 loss in CA didn’t hurt either.

jOHN
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

I myself am not ready to accept excuses and at this point the only remedy is action on the equality that was promised!

We were told that the president’s plate was too full to deal with gay equality issues and yet there was time to prepare a hate filled filing. If this was not what the president wanted filed then those who did this need to loose their jobs!

jOHN
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

The other John make a good point we can not be quiet any longer. The only reason there has been ANY action this week is because the MSM is picking up and reporting the anger of the community!

Scott P.
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

Lindoro Almoviva,

There is no secretary of Justice. The position you’re referring to is Attorney General. Mr. Obama’s Attorney General is Edmund G. Brown. He’s the man who would have okayed this brief. And since it’s a presidential appointment, Mr. Obama is responsible for what it contains, no matter who wrote it.

All these people who keep making the excuse that the President is too busy to deal with our matters seem to forget the White House has an ENORMOUS bureaucracy to deal with everything from nuclear war to the patterns on the dinnerware. All he had to do was say what he wanted and it would get done. He’s chosen to ignore us and needs to be shown we won’t take this crap anymore.

Jeff
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

@Scott P.: Wait, Edmund G. Brown, a.k.a. Jerry Brown? That’s California’s AG. I think you mean U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Scott P.
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

Oops! Damn! My google search was off, REALLY off! Thanks for the correction.

BJohnM
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

I’m not ready to forgive until this Scott Simpson, the actual author of the brief, is no longer working at the DOJ.

Joel
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

this insulting court brief is more than just that… some parts are as repugnant and ignorant as those coming from pat robertsons mouth.

The most important things i got out of this were:
1) Two men marrying is not like two black ppl marrying.
2) Two men marrying is like a child and an adult marrying, or a sister and a brother marrying.

And i was surfing around about this topic i came across this paragraph which necesarily grabs ones attention and i aint sure to what extent this is true…

“DOMA Is Consistent with Equal Protection and Due Process Principles.” This is important because it means that Obama wasn’t content to simply argue, based on technicalities, that this case should be thrown out. He went out of his way to argue that DOMA is actually constitutional, and then went into detail destroying every single constitutional argument we have for opposing DOMA in court. This will screw us on every lawsuit we file on every gay issue, in every public policy debate we have in the states on any gay issue.

truthreller
June 20th, 2009 | LINK

Patrick.
Making excuses for the dear one will no longer fly. He is the president, he is responsible, period. This is his administration and they speak for him.

This is the man with the homophobes on parade during the election. Give me a break! I will no longer tolerate apologist for him.

You’re in Denial, wake up.

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