White House Condemns Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
December 12th, 2009
“The President strongly opposes efforts, such as the draft law pending in Uganda, that would criminalize homosexuality and move against the tide of history,” read the statement that came late Friday in response to an inquiry from The Advocate.
Obama Signs Hate Crimes Act Into Law
October 28th, 2009
President Barack Obama today signed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act into law. This act, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the previously existing categories of race, religion and ethnicity for protection against violent bias crimes, is the culmination of a decade of persistence by Dennis and Judy Shepard and LGBT advocacy groups.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation released the following statement:
When Dennis and I started calling 10 years ago for federal action to prevent and properly prosecute hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans, we never imagined it would take this long,” said Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother and the president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors.
“The legislation went through so many versions and so many votes that we had to constantly keep our hopes in check to keep from getting discouraged,” she continued. “But with President Obama’s support and the continually growing bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate lining up behind the bill this year, it became clear that 2009 was the year it would finally happen.”
White House Opposes Anti-Gay Ballot Measures
October 16th, 2009
Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate is reporting that the White House has come out against efforts in Maine and Washington state to strip LGBT Americans their marriage and partnership rights:
In response to an inquiry from The Advocate, the White House issued the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s position on same-sex relationship recognition voter referenda in Maine and Washington.
“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples, and as he said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he believes ‘strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.’ Also at the dinner, he said he supports, ‘ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.’”
Update: This statement builds on what President Barack Obama said at the HRC dinner last weekend:
Will we uphold the ideals on which this nation was founded: that all of us are equal, that all of us deserve the same opportunity to live our lives freely and pursue our chance at happiness? I believe we can; I believe we will. And that is why I support ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country. I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights to gay couples.
Candidate Obama Addresses HRC
This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
October 10th, 2009
When he becomes President, he’s going to sign the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, he’ll sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if it ever sees the light of day, and sometime during his presidency he’s going to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Oh, and he’s gonna appoint a gay ambassador or two, and we’re all invite to the big Easter Egg roll.
Seriously, I guess it was a good speech — a great one considering that it reflects the sentiment of a sitting president. “My commitment to you is unwavering,” he said, and I actually believe it as far as the speech goes. Which makes it a home-run of a speech when compared to previous Presidents’ speeches I can name. And I really like the way he promised to stand behind his LGBT appointees against a blistering attack by the right.
And we must not lose sight of the fact that he is appearing before a major LGBT advocacy group. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall a president speaking before, say, Focus On the Family or at the Values Voter Summit. Obama’s presence at the HRC made for about an hour’s worth of video tape which can be used by his opponents in 2010 and 2012. Meanwhile his remarks will be discussed on Sunday morning talk shows and news outlets across America among the larger American audience who really hasn’t been much engaged in these issues. The topics he raised went out to a much broader audience, and not just to the LGBT people and their allies in that room. These are no small things. Let’s take a moment to be grateful for it.
Okay. Moment’s over. I think we’ve all heard this speech before. It’s an oldie but goodie. I’ll never tire of hearing it. But the great thing about being President is that he can do a whole lot more than just give speeches to the diehard faithful. Now that, you know, he’s actually President, he has a tremendous bully pulpit with Congress — and with voters in Maine and Washington (which, by the way, he didn’t mention). There are some Executive Orders he can sign on DADT, and some DOJ briefs on DOMA he can influence. You know, Presidential executive-type stuff. Action-type stuff.
I hope this time next year, we’ll get to hear from President Obama, not Candidate Obama.
October 9th, 2009
President Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Some around the world objected to the choice of Obama, who still oversees wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has launched deadly counter-terror strikes in Pakistan and Somalia.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee countered that it was trying “to promote what he stands for and the positive processes that have started now.” It lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama’s calls for peace and cooperation, and praised his pledges to reduce the world stock of nuclear arms, ease American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthen the U.S. role in combating climate change.
If we are now presenting awards based on intentions and promises rather than on actions and accomplishments, then no doubt the Human Rights Campaign will be awarding the President on Saturday with the Fierce Advocate Award.
CNN on Obama’s LGBT Record
October 9th, 2009
And in the second half of this clip, Cleve Jones gives a great interview on this weekend’s National Equality March in Washington, D.C.
Obama To Speak At HRC Dinner
October 5th, 2009
It’s eleven months after the election, and we still don’t have hate crimes protection. That was supposed to be the easy one. Now even that is in doubt. But we’re still gonna gather at his feet and be thankful for the crumbs, aren’t we?
President Obama will speak to a gathering of gay rights activists this weekend, a day before thousands of people are expected to march on Washington in a demonstration calling for greater legal protections for gays, lesbians and transgendered Americans.
Mr. Obama’s appearance on Saturday at the annual dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, represents a significant show of support for gay rights at a time when many prominent gay and lesbian activists have been questioning the president’s commitment to their issues.
“Significant show of support”? How about something tangible we can really use, besides a great speech and a Salisbury steak.
October 5th, 2009
He killed a fly. Remember that?
Obama Administration May Lift Ban on HIV+ Travel and Immigration
September 24th, 2009
During the waning days of the Bush Administration, the President came to recognize that the country’s ban on travel and immigration for HIV positive persons was counter-productive and cruel. And, in a rare moment of compassion, he shepherded a bill through Congress allowing Health and Human Services to remove the ban.
Sadly, this change was included in the blanket reversal of last-minute policies when President Obama took office. But now it appears that the ban may finally be lifted. (Miami Herald)
Yesterday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issues a memo which instructs USCIS officers to place a hold on any green card applications which would otherwise be denied simply due to the applicant’s HIV status. The hold is pending release of the final HHS rule change which will completely eliminate the ban.
The memo signals that the administration is very close to final repeal of the ban, and is now instructing agencies to be ready for the change. USCIS is clearly expecting guidance from HHS very soon, and has decided to hold applications by HIV-positive applicants rather than deny them, as the new rule will no longer prohibit their entry into the country.
Harvey Milk, Billie Jean King To Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
July 31st, 2009
The White House yesterday announced “sixteen agents of change” to recieve the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Among the sixteen are Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King. Focus On the Family, predictably, is having a complete meltdown over it.
Obama To NAACP: “Our Gay Brothers And Sisters Still Denied Their Rights”
July 17th, 2009
Moscow Protest By LGBT Advocates Called Off
July 6th, 2009
Russian gay activists have cancelled a planned July 7 protest in Moscow which was intended to coincide with a visit by President Barack Obama. Moscow authorities banned the protest in front of the U.S. Embassy, but that’s not why organizers called it off. Organizer Nikolai Alekseev cited increased security and safety fears as factors:
He said: “In the context of another unlawful ban by the authorities on a public event as well as the special measures taken in the Russian capital during the visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, we have decided to cancel the event due to concerns over the safety of our members.”
Moscow had banned an earlier Pride march that was set to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Moscow in May. That peaceful Pride march went ahead, but was quickly broken up within minutes by riot police.
DoD: Looking for Flexibility in DADT
June 30th, 2009
The American Forces Press Service is reporting that the President and Defense Secretary Gates are looking for ways to find flexibility in the Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell law that bans openly gay servicemembers. (transcript)
“What we have is a law, not a policy or regulation,” Gates said. “And as I discovered when I got into it, it is a very prescriptive law. It doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination or a lot of flexibility. So one of the things we are looking at is, Is there flexibility in how we apply this law?”
Gates cited the example of someone who’s been “outed by a third party,” possibly the result of blackmail or a jilting.
“Does that force us to take an action?” he questioned. “I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t want to pretend to. But that is the kind of thing we are looking at.”
It sounds as though the community’s very vocal and visible disgust with the administration may be beginning to give impetus to some action. If nothing else (and it is a bare minimum) the administration may be acting on the demands of 77 members of Congress who wrote a letter insisting that the military honor the “Don’t Pursue” part of the law and that witch hunts not be initiated based on “tip”, slurs, and insinuations from people outside of the military.
And if there’s one more thing the President can do, it is this:
1. Pick up the telephone and call
Rep. Ellen Tauscher Rep. Patrick Murphy. Tell her him you’ll support HR1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act and that he should move forward.
2. Call a meeting with Rep.
Taucher Murphy, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Speaker of the House Pelosi and tell them that it’s time to pass this bill.
3. Announce in a press conference that you’ve heard the will of the people, Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative, all of whom support overturning the ban. Use language about discrimination and the best interest of the military. Tell the stories of the men and women who were linguists and medical personnel who were sorely needed but sacrificed to bigotry.
Come to think of it, if you go that route you don’t have to worry about flexibility at all.
(hat tip Stefano)
Update: The lead on this bill has been assigned to Rep. Patrick Murphy
The President Gave A Very Good Speech
June 29th, 2009
The speech, the transcript of which is included below, was very good but also of little note. There’s not much there that President Barack Obama hasn’t said before when he met with some 250 to 300 LGBT guests in the East Room of the White House today. That gathering was billed as a commemoration for the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.
The President acknowledged Frank Kameny, who was fired in 1957 from the Army map service because he was gay. Later in the speech, he acknowledged the estimated 272 servicemembers who have been fired by the Pentagon since the start of his administration when he renewed his promise to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:
Someday, I’m confident, we’ll look back at this transition and ask why it generated such angst, but as Commander-in-Chief, in a time of war, I do have a responsibility to see that this change is administered in a practical way and a way that takes over the long term. That’s why I’ve asked the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a plan for how to thoroughly implement a repeal.
I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy — patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who’ve served this country well. But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is essential for our national security.
The President also acknowledged the impatience of the LGBT community:
And I know that many in this room don’t believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It’s not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.
But I say this: We have made progress and we will make more. And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I’ve made, but by the promises that my administration keeps. … We’ve been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration.
He also addressed the Defense of Marriage Act, saying:
I’ve called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination — (applause) — to help end discrimination against same-sex couples in this country. Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I’ve made that clear.
He says he wants to “uphold existing law” in a way “that does not exacerbate old divides.” He apparently failed to understand that it was that very DOMA brief that exacerbated old divides. Maybe there’s only one side of the divide he wants to avoid exacerbating, but not the other.
That said, I thought it was an excellent speech overall. But speeches are relatively unimportant. It’s actions that matter.
But there were, I hope, some speeches in that room that will be more important than the President’s. Those guests were given the opportunity to meet with and exchange a few words with the President afterward. If any speech will matter in the long run, it will be their stories, pleas and promises, not the President’s. Let’s hope they took advantage of that opportunity.
I’ve Changed My Mind
This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
June 24th, 2009
But a cocktail party? I can’t imagine that any self-respecting gay person would agree to go to a cocktail party at this stage in our difficult relationship with the current administration…
The seeds for my turnaround were planted when I finished that sentence:
…although I have to concede that House and Senate Republicans, even some of the most conservative ones, have taken the White House up on similar invitations.
I’ve thought a lot about that since then and here’s the deal. We’ve been telling everyone we can think of about the importance of being out and being visible to our families, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers – everywhere and to everyone. The power of our presence as real live human beings rather than ill-informed stereotypes has made a huge difference in what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past few years. It seems to me that wherever there is an opportunity to make our presence known in the flesh, we should take that opportunity and run with it.
And when that opportunity extends to meeting with the President of the United States, it becomes less an opportunity and more an obligation. Presidents have a tendency to become ensconced in a bubble surrounded by like-minded aides and sycophants. As much as I believe this President is trying to keep that from happening, it’s just a natural consequence of the office. He has obviously been told by those around him that our concerns can wait, that we’re just happy he’s there, and we’ll hang in there no matter what. If nobody’s there to tell him otherwise, how is he to know any different?
True, he can turn on television and watch the talking heads, but I think we all know how well television reflects real life. Not very well at all. And if we’ve learned not to believe everything we see on television, I’m sure the President has learned that too.
No, we’ve been talking about the importance of person-to-person conversations and sharing of our lives with others. Why is it now suddenly acceptable to say that we will refuse to do so with the President?
There appears to be three main arguments against attending the White House cocktail party. The first argument is this: that those who will attend will be co-opted into a White House photo-op of Obama surrounded by His Friendly Gays. That could happen, but I doubt it. Remember all those cocktail parties that Obama threw to try to open up dialog with House and Senate Republicans? Do you remember many photographs from those events?
The second argument actually seems to run counter to the first, that because the cocktail party hasn’t been publicly announced, it’s signaling that Obama doesn’t want to be too public with His Friendly Gays. “Why the big secret?” they ask. But if it’s a big secret, then it can’t be much of a photo-op, and if it’s a photo-op, then it can’t be much of a secret. What’s the point of being surrounded by His Friendly Gays if he’s not going to show them off? But the real answer to why it hasn’t been publicly announced may be found in precedent: The previous cocktail parties weren’t big public productions either. We only started to learn about them after they occurred.
The third argument concerns His Friendly Gays themselves, and builds on the much-hated image of “A-Gays” drinking and schmoozing and not getting much done. That’s a hard image to knock down, but we do have to remember that in a town like Washington, D.C., relationships are formed and messages put across over exactly these kinds of activities. This is true in D.C. much moreso than in anywhere else, where these events are typically little more than non-work social hours.
And as for His Friendly Gays, it appears the gathering will be much broader than that. Some of those invited include some of the administration’s harsher critics on LGBT issues. One of those who will be there is Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, who is about to be fired from the Air Force for being gay. He’ll be there as a guest of the Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network. The invite list isn’t limited to those from inside the Beltway, which is exactly what’s needed to punch through the Presidential bubble. They aren’t the get-along-to-go-along usual suspects, although I’m sure some of them will be there also
And besides all that, there this final point: this is the President of the United States, in capital letters. When the President calls, you go. If you have access, use it. I think Mike Rogers — and no one is going to call him a get-along slouch — put it best:
We have had 8 years of “yes men” in the White House with no dissent. No one is suggesting that people should bow before the president, but this is what we wanted, ACCESS. THIS IS PART OF THE ACCESS.
Call me SHOCKED, but I did not get invited to the Bush White House. If I was, I think I would have said the same thing. When the President of the United States says “hey come on by,” you go. Invitations to the Oval Office or the White House are not supposed to be used to get up in the President’s face, it’s the time to compellingly present your case.
I wasn’t invited either. But it wasn’t just a couple of hours after I posted my first thoughts that I began to think differently about it. Yes, if someone from the White House were to call me and invite me to get on a plane bound for Washington to meet with the President of the United States, I’d scape my jaw off the floor and go. It’s not a cool invite to the hottest party in town. It’s a call to duty as a citizen. To not take up that call is to be less of a citizen. And when we are fighting for our full rights as citizens, we should exercise our duty as citizens wherever we’re called. And now that we are given access, we either use it or squander it. Seems the choice there is pretty simple.
House Members to Obama: Don’t Pursue
June 22nd, 2009
Although now generally known as “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell”, the policy on gay servicemen signed into law sixteen years ago once also had a third don’t: “Don’t Pursue”.
Today 77 House Members (15% of the membership), including some in leadership, have requested that the President at least uphold the law as it was intended until DADT can be reversed:
The House lawmakers are asking Obama to direct the military leadership not to initiate any investigation of personnel to determine their sexual orientation and to instruct military officials to disregard any accusations made by third parties with the regard to sexual orientation of personnel.
“We request that you impose that no one is asked and that you ignore, as the law requires, third parties who tell,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) wrote. “Under your leadership, Congress must then repeal and replace don’t ask, don’t tell with a policy of inclusion and non-discrimination.”
Not exceed the law by aggressively pursuing gay service personnel based on third party gossip? Hmmm, that sounds reasonable.
Let’s see how the President will respond.
The White House Wants To Buy Us A Drink
This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
June 22nd, 2009
Last week, word went out that the Justice Department will meet with LGBT groups to try to iron out how the Justice Department can go forward with future litigation with DOMA without insulting a key group of fellow Americans. I think that has the potential of being a very good move, and I’m glad LGBT advocacy groups are being invited to this working meeting. But we are also learning that the White House plans on inviting LGBT leadership to a cocktail party of some sort later in the week. I can’t think of anything more inappropriate than that.
I think Michelangelo Signorile sums it up just right. I agree that it was important for LGBT leaders to be on hand when President Barack Obama signed the president’s memorandum providing for very limited benefits for gay employees. It was, as Signorile points out, LGBT business, and we expect LGBT leaders to be on hand whenever LGBT business is being conducted. And it’s good that LGBT leaders will be meeting with the Justice Department tomorrow. Again, more business.
But a cocktail party? I can’t imagine that any self-respecting gay person would agree to go to a cocktail party at this stage in our difficult relationship with the current administration, although I have to concede that House and Senate Republicans, even some of the most conservative ones, have taken the White House up on similar invitations.
But still, I think that attending a cocktail party sends two wrong signals. One, serious business like what we’ve gone through over the past week calls for serious and frank meetings. What we need is actual movement on repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and (this one was supposed to be “easy”) finally enacting the Hate Crimes bill that was supposed to have come out this week but now is more likely before Congress recesses in August, if Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid can be taken at his word. We’re looking for real movement and a plan forward, not drinks and witty reparté.
And there’s another message that I have trouble squaring. The Human Rights Campaign in particular has labored under criticisms of being too cozy with the Washington power structure, and that those cozy relationships have led the HRC to go easy on pressing for important issues like repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” That’s the perception, and it’s one that the HRC may just now be growing sensitive to. This latest flap over the Justice Department’s DOMA brief led the HRC to play catch-up with grassroots anger and suspicion, and they did that by issuing an unusually sternly worded letter to the White House. If the HRC really wants to shed its image of the go-along-to-get-along Washington schmoozing machine, the worst thing they could do would be to take the White House up on this latest invitation.
It looks like, for the time being, our relationship with the Obama administration can be divided into two periods: pre-DOMA brief and post-DOMA brief. In the pre-DOMA brief days, this party would have been seen as a good sign. We would have rejoiced that the White House engaged in this symbolic act, and the HRC would have basked in the glow. But that was before the DOMA brief — and before there were cocktail invitations. That brief changed everything. One way to understand the negative reaction surrounding the presidentail memorandum is that symbolic acts no longer cut it. LGBT leaders need to be cognizant of that or risk their own relevance in the LGBT community.
Update: I’ve changed my mind.
The LGBT Community Finds Its Voice. It Turns Out It’s In Its Wallet.
June 19th, 2009
LGBT advocates have continued to express their outrage over the Justice Department’s DOMA brief. That brief has sparked a rebellion among LGBT Democrats who have continued to pull out of next week’s DNC fundraiser organized by the LGBT Leadership Conference and featuring Vice-president Joe Biden. Eleven LGBT leaders have announced that they will not attend the fundraising event. Even the Stonewall Democrats have withdrawn their support.
That has set the White House on a mad rush to try to quell the rebellion. Two top Obama aides, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and Political Director Patrick Gaspard, will hold an emergency conference call on Monday afternoon with the LGBT caucus of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The reported purpose of the call is to provide “important updates on the Administration’s LGBT agenda and how we move forward.” That move is in addition to news from earlier today that the Justice Department will meet with LGBT groups to discuss how it deals with DOMA cases going forward.
This follows President Barack Obama’s hastily called Oval Office photo-op on Wednesday to sign a Presidential Memorandum directing federal agencies to adopt policies to treat their LGBT employees on equal footing with their other employees — although health and retirement benefits aren’t included because they are barred 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.
The White House has finally gotten the message that they have stumbled badly. After months of silence and footdragging on LGBT issues, they have now come to understand that they are on the verge of losing one of their most reliable constituencies. And so over the past three days, we’ve seen an unprecedented string of minor initiatives. None of these small steps are earth-shattering; all of them could have been thrown together at any time in the administration’s first 100 days. But the fact that they are coming out now tells us that the pressure exerted by the LGBT community this week has had an effect. It also tells us that only through continued unrelenting pressure will the White House and Congress to take our concerns seriously.
I’m glad the pressure is working and we appear to have the White House’s attention. We now need to grab Congress’s attention as well. We need to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to feel the same heat as we’ve applied to President Obama.
And we also need to put our money where it will really make a difference. Right now the best place is firmly in our own bank accounts and not in the DNC’s. They say money talks, but people really notice the silence when it’s gone missing.
DOJ Reportedly To Meet With LGBT Groups
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.
White House Looking Into Census Inclusion
June 18th, 2009
From the Wall Street Journal
The White House said Thursday it was seeking ways to include same-sex marriages, unions and partnerships in 2010 Census data, the second time in a week the administration has signaled a policy change of interest to the gay community.
The administration has directed the Census Bureau to determine changes needed in tabulation software to allow for same-sex marriage data to be released early in 2011 with other detailed demographic information from the decennial count. The bureau historically hasn’t released same-sex marriage data.