Petty tacky move by RI Senate Prez Paiva-Weed
July 3rd, 2013
From WPRI comes an odd little story that illustrates the tacky pettiness of Rhode Island Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed.
For many years Paiva-Weed stood in the way of the Ocean State’s Senate voting on marriage equality. But earlier this year, after the Senate’s five Republicans joined with a large majority of Democrats, Pavia-Weed could stand in the way no longer and Rhode Island joined all of its New England neighbors in marriage equality.
But that certainly didn’t stop her from being petty.
Rhode Island has an odd little procedure that they use throughout the year. Individuals who are otherwise not authorized to conduct marriages get special permission to be one-time officiants. It’s a formal process, but it’s generally a non-controversial and all-in-one-fell-swoop kind of procedure, called “Consent Calendar”.
For example, it might say something like this:
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any other general or special law to the contrary, Jessica Attorney, Esq., of Barrington, Rhode Island, may join Joe Fellow and Sally Sweet in marriage within the City of Providence, Rhode Island, on or about November 30, 2013. Jessica Attorney, Esq., is hereby authorized and empowered to join the foregoing persons in marriage pursuant to and in accordance with chapter 15-3 of the general laws, entitled “Solemnization of Marriages.”
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.
But something out of the ordinary took place this time.
On Wednesday night, Senate leaders used the consent calendar to quarantine the solemnization-of-marriage bills for same-sex couples from those for straight ones.
Consent Calendar #2 contained 11 bills, all of which appeared to authorize marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. Consent Calendar #3, by contrast, contained 23 bills – 15 of them allowing marriage ceremonies for straight couples, plus eight bills on other topics passed earlier by the House.
The Senate voted 30-0 shortly after 8 p.m. to pass Consent Calendar #3, but then Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, moved on without taking up Consent Calendar #2, leaving the various same-sex couples’ solemnization-of-marriage bills in limbo.
I can understand those who ideologically oppose equality out of some misguided fear about how same-sex marriage might impact society. But to deny specific same-sex couples the officiant of their choice is just contemptible.
Dem Reps. Cheer Marriage Decisions
June 26th, 2013
A paraphrase of what they said:
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): Oh happy day! Justice was done for thousands of LGBT families nationwide. Forty-four years after Stonewall. Supreme Court bent the arc of history toward justice. Equal protection is a promise kept. More work to be done. Applauds the inspiration of Harvey Milk, the courage of Edie Windsor.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD): Principles of equal justice under law. Maryland and other states wanted full marriage equality. Now they get it. A good day for every American. Fifty years ago, one of my first votes as state Senator was to repeal the miscegenation law in Maryland. Another step for equality, justice, inclusion.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): History of the U.S. can be read as an expanding of “all men are created equal.” Today is another step in that evolution. Breathes life into constitution’s promise of equal liberty for all. DOMA embodied contempt and animus. Work is not done. DOMA in its entirety must be wiped from the books. Reintroduction of Respect for Marriage Act later today.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO): Was on the steps of the Supreme Court when decision was handed down. Not a single anti-equality protester. This is the system working for families like mine. Americans are more than ready for this decision. Battle is far from done. People can still be fired, kids face bullying. Congress still has a critical role.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI): Applauds the simplicity of the court’s analysis and power of the decision. DOMA was designed to stigmatize and harm LGBT people. Decision helps to transform the lives of thousands of families. Gives meaning to our values.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY): Called partner, Randy, of 21 years. Couldn’t get the words out. For families like mine, when I get the kids ready for school, etc., they aren’t growing up in a family that is less than someone else’s. (Holding back tears.) Brown v. Board of Ed., Loving v. Virginia, Lawrence v. Texas, and now we are even more American.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI): 93 million people live in states with marriage equality. WE still face barriers. Make sure every single loving, committed relatinship can be recognized.
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA): I challenge every California clerk to start issuing marriage licenses to every couple that desires one. “I feel jubilation, I feel fabulous, I feel every gay word I can think of.” Kennedy wrote beautiful sentences and reached for the poetic. Stirring words: DOMA humiliates the children of same-sex couples.
GOP Leaders Threaten to Sink Immigration Reform If Gay Couples Are Included
May 2nd, 2013
In their bid to pick up Hispanic voters in the upcoming mid-term elections, GOP leaders have decided that passing immigration reform would help. Immigration reform has also been a goal of Democratic legislators as well. And so earlier this month, a bipartisan group known as the “Gang of Eight” came up with an immigration reform proposal which, presumably, both sides could support. Except large constituencies on both sides find that they won’t support it. The nativist, xenophobic wing of the GOP would rather see the whole issue die, and it would only be icing on their cake if they could blame immigration reform’s death on the Democrats. And since the immigration proposal as it stands excludes gay couples, Democrats find themselves at odds with a key constituency:
Gay advocates were sharply disappointed to find that same-sex couples were excluded from the legislation, since the Democrats who wrote it included two of their most consistent champions, Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second highest-ranking Senate Democrat. Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the Democrat who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, where the bill is under consideration, has offered, since as far back as 2003, a separate measure that would allow immigrants in long-term same-sex relationships to obtain residency with a green card.
But in the lengthy closed-door negotiations that produced the overhaul proposal, the four Republicans in the bipartisan group made it clear early on that they did not want to include such a hot-button issue in a bill that would be a challenge to sell to their party even without it, according to Senate staff members. The Republicans are Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona, and Marco Rubio of Florida.
…“There’s a reason this language wasn’t included in the Gang of Eight’s bill: It’s a deal-breaker for most Republicans,” Senator Flake said. “Finding consensus on immigration legislation is tough enough without opening the bill up to social issues.”
Sen. Mark Rubio (R-FL), who is being talked up as a possible Presidential contender in 2016, told a conservative talk radio host, ““If that issue is injected into this bill, this bill will fail. It will not have the support. It will not have my support.” Jonathan Rauch reacts:
Really? Republicans will deep-six the entire effort, and demolish themselves with Latino voters and business interests and young people in order to prevent gay people from having someone to take care of them?
Even to write those words is to wonder whether they can possibly be true. Surely Republicans know that, according to many polls, support for same-sex marriage has tipped above the majority level and is rising. Perhaps some also know that, according to a recent Huffington Post poll, partner immigration enjoys solid 7-percentage-point support. They certainly know that, from a political point of view, the perception among younger voters that a pro-Republican vote is an anti-gay vote is toxic to the GOP brand. …and Republicans themselves are split down the middle on the more general question of whether “same sex couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.”
Even among Republicans, in other words, the constituency for policies disadvantaging gay and lesbian couples is withering. And this is where Senate Republicans want to make their stand?
GOP “Political Insiders” Support Avoiding Same-Sex Marriage As An Issue
January 15th, 2013
The National Journal hosts a panel they call Political Insiders, consisting of a selected group of about a hundred politicians (current and retired), consultants and strategists from each party. Obviously, the panel isn’t necessarily representative of the larger political class, but it can be a good indication of how the pulse is beating on several issues. A recent Political Insiders question asked the following:
|Which statement comes closest to your political views on gay marriage?|
|My party should support it||97%||27%|
|My party should oppose it||0%||11%|
|My party should avoid the issue||2%||48%|
A few select responses:
“Wouldn’t it be fascinating if for once the Republicans were on the front side of a historic wave, rather than thrashed around in the undertow?” one GOP insider asked.
…”The lines have been drawn on this. Such a polarizing topic, and given other pressing issues, this is a red herring with dynamite taped to its back. No good can come from messing with it,” another added.
That second line is indicative of how far we’ve come in such a short time. It was only a few years ago when you’d hear Democrats muttering those rueful sentiments. But now, only 2% of the Dems on this panel want to avoid it, with 97% seeing it as both a winning issue and the right position to take. My, but how the wedge has shifted.
I wonder though, is there any other issue — any issue at all — in which nearly half of the Republican members of this panel think the party should avoid?
Democrats Issue Official Platform
September 4th, 2012
The Democrats have issued their official 2012 Platform, and it includes several planks of interest to the LGBT community. As we go through the document from the beginning, our first stop is under “Health Care”:
…We Democrats have increased overall funding to combat HIV/AIDS to record levels and will continue our nation’s fight against HIV/AIDS. President Obama established the first-ever comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for responding to the domestic epidemic, which calls for reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care, optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. This is an evidence-based plan that is guided by science and seeks to direct resources to the communities at greatest risk, including gay men, black and Latino Americans, substance users, and others at high risk of infection. And we will continue to support America’s groundbreaking biomedical researchers in their lifesaving work.
Next is Civil Rights:
Civil Rights. We believe in an America where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody plays by the same set of rules. At the core of the Democratic Party is the principle that no one should face discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability status. …
President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to ensuring all Americans are treated fairly. This administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and we must continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth. The President’s record, from ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in full cooperation with our military leadership, to passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to ensuring same-sex couples can visit each other in the hospital, reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to pursue happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love. The Administration has said that the word ‘family’ in immigration includes LGBT relationships in order to protect bi-national families threatened with deportation.
The next stop, which was announced a little more than a month ago, is on marriage equality:
Freedom to Marry. We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.
We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
HIV/AIDS gets another mention in the context of international development:
Combating HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease. Recognizing that health is a prerequisite for development, the President has made unprecedented progress in the global fight against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. Building on the strong foundation created during the previous administration, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has expanded its prevention, care, and treatment programming. As a result, PEPFAR now has made significant investments in more than 30 countries, and we set a goal to roughly double the number of lifesaving anti-retroviral treatments we provide by the end of 2013. With his latest budget, the President is fulfilling his historic commitment to request $4 billion over three years for the Global Fund, and the President remains committed to robust funding for PEPFAR and the Global Fund in the future. And President Obama lifted the 25-year ban that prevented non-citizens living with HIV from entering the United States, allowing the world’s largest group of HIV/AIDS researchers, policymakers, medical professionals, and advocates to convene in Washington to continue their efforts to improve prevention and treatment.
Our efforts to combat HIV/AIDS are part of a broader commitment to address the challenges posed by infectious disease. Over the past four years, the administration has leveraged billions of dollars in commitments from donors to meet the demand for new vaccines, making it possible to immunize millions of children and prevent premature deaths.
And finally, under the section about “advancing universal values” around the world:
Gay Rights as Human Rights. Recognizing that gay rights are human rights, the President and his administration have vowed to actively combat efforts by other nations that criminalize homosexual conduct or ignore abuse. Under the Obama administration, American diplomats must raise the issue wherever harassment or abuse arises, and they are required to record it in the State Department’s annual report on human rights. And the State Department is funding a program that finances gay rights organizations to combat discrimination, violence, and other abuses.
August 13th, 2012
The Democratic candidate for Governor of the great state of Utah has clarified that he doesn’t support Democratic values. He supports Utah Values. Ya know, the ones that are passed down from the Prophet. (Salt Lake Tribune)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke launched a pre-emptive strike Monday, distancing himself from his party’s national platform, declaring his opposition to gay marriage, civil unions and abortion and vowing to represent “Utah values.”
Cooke said his opposition to gay marriage stems from his faith — he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has actively opposed same-sex unions in California and elsewhere — but he supports a state law that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, which the church has also supported.
“To me gay marriage is part of my religious belief and I support that and I respect other religious beliefs and I support and love those who are in the gay community,” Cooke said. “I think what needs to be done in Utah is for us to all live together, be compassionate. That’s what the Democratic Party is showing.”
Well, okay, I guess that’s to be expected. It is Utah, after all.
But I’m not so sure that “I promise to vote how the church tells me” is that compelling of a position for politicians anymore. At some point people just get tired of being told that their church will do the thinking for them. And it seems to me that the Mormons may want to take a little glance at their buddies the Catholics and recognize that the more that church leaders insist on dictating politics, the more their flock feels comfortable with ignoring what they have to say.
And maybe, just maybe, Cooke could have grown a pair and used this to his advantage. He could have said that unlike Republican Governor Gary Herbert, he stands for gay families. He could have championed civil unions (or some other form of couple recognition) – as do 71% of Utah’s residents. And had he done so he, he might have stood out as the candidate more in line with “Utah values.”
The Party Platforms
August 13th, 2012
The most exciting and best known change comes in the Democratic Party platform which will, for the first time, endorse marriage equality. Although many party members and elected officials have been supportive, it was not until this election cycle that there is sufficient consolidation of position (about two thirds) to make this an agreed upon issue.
While this is a bit of a gamble (we could get blamed if the Democrats do less well than expected), it is, I think both the right thing to do and a smart political choice. The movement is towards equality and even those who do not support us won’t be surprised by the move.
But another smaller change also has happened this year, one that mostly flew under the radar. But this change is probably far more important than it might appear at first glance: Log Cabin, the organization for gay and lesbian Republicans, is for the first time sending a delegation to the Republican platform committee.
Now I don’t anticipate that there will be anything remotely resempling a positive plank come out of that committee. It will oppose equality and probably call for an anti-gay constitutional amendment. But it is possible that by simply being in the room, they will be able to influence the language adopted. It’s harder to be dispicably vile when your victim is sitting there looking at you.
But it is not the anticipated content of the platform that is worth note. As a symbolic move, allowing Log Cabin to participate is of tremendous importance. For decades the GOP has been openly hostile to its gay members – when it even bothered to notice their existence. For the first time, the party has – by this move – indicated that gay Republicans are “real” Republicans and have a legitimate place in the Party.
It will be some time before the Republican Party follows the lead of Europe’s conservatives and decides that “marriage is a conservative value”. And the voices of discrimination and animus will only get shriller before they are drowned out by the inevitable change in public position.
But these small steps are exciting to see. They demonstrate a change in the Nation that promises our eventual success. And they send a signal to the raging anti-gays that their days are numbered, that no matter how much chikin they binge in their battle for superiority, the end of the war is in sight.
Democratic Platform To Include Support for Marriage Equality
July 30th, 2012
Outgoing Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who sits on a Democratic National Committee 15-member Platform Drafting Committee, told The Washington Blade that the committee has unanimously adopted a plank endorsing marriage equality:
“I was part of a unanimous decision to include it,” Frank said. “There was a unanimous decision in the drafting committee to include it in the platform, which I supported, but everybody was for it.”
Frank emphasized that support for marriage equality is a position that has been established for the Democratic Party, from the president, who endorsed marriage equality in May, to House Democratic lawmakers who voted to reject an amendment reaffirming the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this month.
Another staffer reportedly confirmed the development and added that the draft platform also rejects the Defense of Marriage Act and supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The final draft will go before the full Platform Commitee from August 10 to 12 where it may undergo further revision.
Pelosi: If Dems Win The House, DOMA Defense Goes Away
June 7th, 2012
“First of all, we can expect something to go away, like stop spending taxpayer dollars on the Defense of Marriage of Act, which is a waste of money and not the right thing to do,” Pelosi said.
…She said she thinks Republicans believe DOMA is unconstitutional because when they controlled the House under the Bush administration, they tried to pass court-stripping provisions denying judicial review for the anti-gay law and others.
“They had to know that there was a weakness constitutionally in that bill, if they would want to put court-stripping provisions in relating to DOMA and the rest,” Pelosi said. “So, we think they know it’s weak constitutionally.”
Why Obama’s Support for Marriage Equality Matters
May 10th, 2012
Since President Barack Obama’s historic statement yesterday endorsing marriage equality, other Democratic leaders have stumbled over each other to make sure everyone knows that they, too, support the right of gay couples to marry. Chris Geidner ran down the list:
What this means, yes, is that all of the elected leaders of the national Democratic Party now support marriage equality.
…Outside of Congress, the heads of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee do as well. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) at the DNC, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) at the DCCC and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) at the DSCC all have been supporters of marriage equality.
All three groups — the DNC, DCCC and DSCC — have sent out emails in support of the president’s position in the day since his announcement in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts.
There is still some question as to whether a plank on marriage equality will make its way onto the Democratic platform this summer. But it is safe to say that this raises the bar considerably. Welcome to the twenty-first century.
Dem convention chairman for marriage plank
March 8th, 2012
To the growing list of prominent Democrats who are calling on the Party to make marriage equality part of their platform, you can add the Chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. (LA Times)
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, serving as chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, called for the party’s platform to push for the legalization of gay marriage.
While Obama Evolves…
March 2nd, 2012
…twenty twenty-one U.S. Senators are calling for an endorsement of marriage equality in the Democratic Party platform. When the Blade’s article first went up today, the number was at eighteen (you can see that in the article’s URL). They’ve had to update it twice three times since just this morning to include the two three additional Senators, and they say they will update it as more Senators respond the the Blade’s requests for statements.
Utah Dems Elect First Openly Gay Man As Party Leader
July 18th, 2011
And he wants to assure the state’s Mormons that they are also welcome in the “big tent” party:
“I want to speak directly to the LDS people in our state,” Jim Dabakis said Saturday after being nominated for state party chairman. “I want you LDS people to participate in our party. We want your spirit, we want your contributions and we want to earn your votes. I will do whatever I can as chair to see that our big tent is comfortable to LDS people because it’s the right thing to do.”
Dabakis co-founded Equality Utah and The Utah Pride Center. Shortly after his nomination for the top job, he joked, “This is a historic moment. Utah may elect its first out Greek-American party chair.”
New Hope for NY Marriage
June 13th, 2011
The man who tells you that he can predict what Albany will do is either a fool or a liar. However, there is some very promising last-minute news out of New York. First, the NYTimes tells us that the last Democratic Senator holdouts (other than Sen. Diaz) have pledged support:
The three Democratic senators — Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. and Shirley L. Huntley of Queens and Carl Kruger of Brooklyn — all voted against the measure in 2009, when it failed by a wide margin. Their switch to the yes column leaves all but one Senate Democrat supporting same-sex marriage — and the fate of the legislation in the hands of the Republican majority in the chamber.
This brings the total support count among Democrats to 29. The bill needs the support of at least 3 Republicans to reach the 32 majority. But the New York Post reports that this may be more than possible.
Seven or more Senate Republicans have signaled Gov. Cuomo that they’re ready to legalize same-sex marriage, more than enough to put the controversial and historic measure over the top this week, The Post has learned.
A highly knowledgeable Senate insider said yesterday that “far more of the [GOP] members are in play than anyone realizes, including some surprising names from conservative upstate areas.”
Among the unexpected potential Senate Republican “yes” votes, insiders say, are Kemp Hannon of Nassau County, Charles Fuscillo of Suffolk County, Betty Little of Glens Falls, Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, Greg Ball of Putnam County, James Alesi of Rochester, and Roy McDonald of Rensselaer County — all of whom helped defeat gay marriage when the vote was held in December 2009.
Of course, all of that can change in a heartbeat.
UPDATE: Republican Senator James Alesi has confirmed that he will vote for marriage
“I am doing this on my own initiative. I really am not down here because I have been guaranteed that we will have enough votes to pass this. It is my hope, not just here in New York State, but all across the nation that if a Republican senator can stand before his constituents and say that he supports marriage equality, that he supports equality for all Americans without regard for their gender or their sexual preference that we can start here in New York State and look at it as is a national initiative that America is for Freedom and equality.”
DOMA As A Wedge Issue, Ctd
March 18th, 2011
A newly released Washington Post-ABC News poll confirms what other recent polls have shown, that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. That majority remains a slim one when one considers the 3.5 percent margin of error. But five years ago, only 36 percent supported same-sex marriage; today, 53 percent do. That’s a 47 percent increase in a very short amount of time. WaPo notes some significant trends:
In the new Post-ABC poll, the shift has been driven by several political and demographic groups whose support for such unions jumped sharply. Men, who previously were less supportive of same-sex marriage than women, now back it at the same rate. Support among college-educated whites, political independents and people who do not consider themselves religious also rose substantially.
ABC News breaks it down further:
While younger adults and liberals remain at the forefront of support for gay marriage, the new results underscore its expansion. In an ABC/Post poll five and a half years ago, for example, under-30s were the sole age group to give majority support to gay marriage, at 57 percent. Today it’s 68 percent in that group – but also 65 percent among people in their 30s, up a remarkable 23 points from the 2005 level; and 52 percent among those in their 40s, up 17 points.
…Support is up by a striking 23 points among white Catholics, often a swing group and one that’s been ready, in many cases, to disregard church positions on political or social issues. But they have company: Fifty-seven percent of non-evangelical white Protestants now also support gay marriage, up 16 points from its level five years ago. Evangelicals, as noted, remain very broadly opposed. But even in their ranks, support for gay marriage is up by a double-digit margin.
You can see the poll itself here (PDF: 85KB/3 pages). It should be noted that the margin of error for these smaller sample groups would likely be significantly greater than the poll’s overall ±3.5%. The released information does not provide margins of errors for the smaller groups, so we don’t know whether those majorities are significant in themselves, but the trend at least probably is. Especially, this trend:
Support has grown by 17 points among Democrats, but also by 13 points among independents, to a clear majority, 58 percent, in the crucial political center. And it’s 63 percent among moderates, up 21 points.
Opposing marriage equality is a losing political proposition for everyone except the conservative GOP base. Not too long ago, supporting marriage quality was a losing proposition for everyone except the liberal Democratic base.
That’s what made it the definitive wedge issue — it drove a wedge between the crucial moderates and independents from Democratic candidates. Which left the Democratic candidates sputtering that marriage bans were cynical distractions from more important issues facing the country — jobs, the economy, the global war against terrorism, whatever. Those weak arguments are why we got steamrollered in the elections.
Now, we have a president who will defend DOMA only under heightened scrutiny, and Democratic legislators introducing legislation to repeal DOMA in both houses of Congress. And in response, it’s conservative Republicans’ turn to complain that efforts to dismantle DOMA are a cynical distraction. My how times have changed.
Update: Indiana Republicans have seen the writing on the wall, and are abandoning efforts to amend the state constitution to ban marriage equality.