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Posts for July, 2013

Today is Boehner’s deadline to oppose service member benefits

Timothy Kincaid

July 18th, 2013

BuzzFeed reminds us that not all of the legal questions relating to federal same-sex marriage benefits have been answered.

The House Republican leadership faces a Thursday deadline to decide if it will continue to defend laws that limit veterans benefits to opposite-sex couples in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling striking down a similar provision in the Defense of Marriage Act.

“We’re reviewing the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision, and don’t have any announcement to make at this time,” House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, told BuzzFeed on Wednesday when asked if the defense of the veterans’ statutes would continue.

This is a no-win situation for Boehner.

The Republican Party has a real problem on their hands when it comes to marriage equality. The country in increasingly supportive and even many of those who oppose equality don’t want strident anti-gay action to be taken. But “the base” of the party is strongly opposed to equality, so for the last year Boehner has “defended” DOMA (while trying hard never to discuss it and, in some instances, not even filing even the most flimsy of responses).

This particular situation is even more troublesome for Republican leadership. Service members are also a base of the Republican Party, and opposing military benefits sets one loyal party group against another.

So here’s betting that Boehner woke up late, forgot his watch, lost his briefcase, and got tied up in meetings all day and just, gosh darn it, just didn’t have time to file a motion today.

Ohio’s Petro to endorse marriage initiate

Timothy Kincaid

July 5th, 2013

From the Columbus Dispatch

Republican Jim Petro, Ohio’s former attorney general and state auditor, is expected to endorse a 2014 Ohio ballot measure that would permit same-sex marriages in the state.

GOP Reps. React To Marriage Decisions

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2013

In case you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a non-transcript rendition of what they said:

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA): Unelected judges.

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA): Popular laws = Constitutional. Unpopular laws = Unconstitutional.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA): Thank you Boehner for defending it. Negative consequences for children.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ): We the people have final say, not unelected courts. Courts got Federalism wrong.

Rep. Tim Wahlberg (R-MI): Desires of adults not more important than needs of children. “Society itself is at risk and cannot continue.”

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA): Marriage has been debased. Why vote? It doesn’t stop here. Churches will be forced to do things they are against.

Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): Court is in collusion with Obama at the expense of children. One more attack on religious institutions.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): This is not a hateful group. We love the U.S.A. It’s all Obama’s fault. Holder lied. The Court (“the new holy quintet”) lied. Dishonesty, inconsistency. King Solomon!

Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN): Limited government. Denied equal protection to every American in the United States. No more co-equal branches, but Supreme Court over all. Oligarchy of five. Limited government. Decision belies the constitution. “The people will have their sway.” Equal protection again. No jurisdiction. Foundational unit of society. Created by God. Supreme Court have not risen to the level of God.

Rep. Tim Huelscamp (R-KS): Narrow radical majority. Think of the children.

Republican Leadership: no more marriage fighting in Washington

Timothy Kincaid

June 26th, 2013

While many grass-roots conservatives will rally the troops and, well, send out fund-raising letters, the national Republican leadership seems intent on packing up the marriage issue and shipping it out of the Capital. (Politico)

House Speaker John Boehner, whose leadership spent millions to defend DOMA, said he was “disappointed” in the decision, but did not promise action in the Republican House.

“While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances,” Boehner said in a statement. “A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said he’s “disappointed in this decision, and the marriage debate will continue in the states”

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No 2. Senate Republican, said “like it or not, the Supreme Court is the final word on constitutional matters.”

“It sounds to me that that battle will be moving to the states,” Cornyn said. “The issue is not going away and there are going to be havens of traditional values like Texas where I don’t think the law is going to be changed.”

Why yes, campaign donor and right wing grassroots activist, they support your effort to go against the nation’s growing consensus. Just somewhere else. Now move along while they do something that won’t hurt their reelection abilities.

Read more:

Massachusetts GOP Senate Candidate goes to Pride

Timothy Kincaid

June 19th, 2013

Next Tuesday there will be an election for US Senate in Massachusetts. This is a special election to replace Sen. John Kerry after his move to Secretary of State.

Although Massachusetts usually sends Democrats to Washington, the GOP nominee, Gabriel Gomez, is within striking distance of his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Ed Markey. And it appears that Gomez, who supports marriage equality and has endorsed ENDA, is far more in line with Massachusetts values than are most Republicans. He may even have forged new ground.

It isn’t surprising that Ed Markey, who has long been a firm supporter of the community, participated in the Boston Pride Parade this year. And it is not at all unusual for Log Cabin to have a presence at Pride Events. However, I am not able to recall any previous time in which the Republican Nominee for Senate from any state had their own booth at a Pride Festival.

Naturally, the wackadoodles over at MassResistence are all kinds of unhappy about this.

New FBI Head to be pro-gay Republican

Timothy Kincaid

May 31st, 2013

The man selected to replace Robert Mueller as FBI Director is expected to be Republican James Comey. (NYTimes)

President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former hedge fund executive who served as a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to two people with knowledge of the selection.

Comey is respected for standing up to President George W. Bush and stopping the reauthorization of a warrantless eavesdropping program in March 2004. He also is a friend of ours.

At the time that the list of 131 prominent Republicans who filed the amicus brief in favor of marriage equality was published, some noted that many of the names were unfamiliar and this might merely be a list of has-been policy wonks. Perhaps we are reminded us that sometimes policy wonks end up in very powerful positions and that we may find that list to be more encouraging over time.

Illinois Pro-Gay GOP Leader To Resign

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2013

Top Illinois Republican leaders are telling reporters that the state’s party chairmain, Pat Brady, will resign tomorrow, effective immediately. The rumored resignation comes two months after Brady survived an attempt to force him out of the state GOP chairmanship over his vocal support for a marriage equality bill that was passed by the state Senate. No reason has been given yet for his resignation, but his wife has reportedly been battling ovarian cancer for the past two years. Brady is also in the process of starting a new public affairs firm. According to The Daily Herald, Brady’s tenure is a microcosm of both state and national Republican politics:

While some leaders say the party needs to be a “big tent” organization that can better attract independent voting women, gay and minority voters unhappy with current Democratic leadership, they find themselves at odds with the more conservative factions of the party, which often dominate primary elections.

Brady, in January, began making public statements in support of same-sex marriage, which runs contrary to the party’s platform defining marriage as between one man and one woman. In doing so, he has had the backing of major party donors, including former Exelon Corp. Chairman John Rowe.

Committeemen in favor of Brady’s removal fault him for not only violating the platform but making the statements without notifying them first. Brady said the party was on the “wrong side of history.”

GOP Leaders Threaten to Sink Immigration Reform If Gay Couples Are Included

Jim Burroway

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 Billionaires lobby for equality

Timothy Kincaid

April 28th, 2013

We first became aware of American Unity PAC when a handful of Wall Street financiers who support Republican candidates decided that it was time that marriage equality came to New York State. And it was to a large extent their influence which resulted in the Republican Senate Majority Leader to bring marriage to a vote with enough Republican votes for passage.

Having had success locally, they’ve now decided to export their efforts to other states and to be proactive in lobbying for the cause. (WaPo)

American Unity PAC was formed last year to lend financial support to Republicans who bucked the party’s longstanding opposition to gay marriage. Its founders are launching a new lobbying organization, American Unity Fund, and already have spent more than $250,000 in Minnesota, where the Legislature could vote on the issue as early as next week.

The group has spent $500,000 on lobbying since last month, including efforts in Rhode Island, Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia and Utah.

I am certain their influence played some role in the five Republican Rhode Island Senators voting for equality and, as the vote in each of these states needs Republican support for passage, I am extremely grateful for their support.

History to be made in Rhode Island

Timothy Kincaid

April 23rd, 2013

Freedom to Marry is reporting that a new threshold is about to be crossed.

Today all five Republicans in the Rhode Island Senate announced their support for S38, the marriage bill to end the statewide exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, and their intention to vote for it on the floor. The bill passed easily in the Rhode Island House of Representatives in January, and the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a vote on it today. This will be the first time ever that a party caucus in a legislative branch — Republican or Democratic — will have voted unanimously in favor of freedom to marry legislation.

If the National Organization declares war on these Republicans – and they will – they are going to seem even less relevant in New England than they already do.

Tony Perkins Calls for Withholding GOP’s Allowance Until It Learns To Be More Anti-Gay

Jim Burroway

April 12th, 2013

In a blog post and email blast to supporters yesterday, the Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins called on supporters to stop donating to the Republican Party until Grandpa’s Old Party learns to be more anti-gay:

As the RNC debates its future at meetings in Los Angeles this week, we called on the Committee to pass a resolution reiterating the GOP’s support for the party platform that was overwhelmingly adopted in Tampa last year. In the meantime, instead of trying to appease millennials, Republicans should try educating them on why marriage matters. …

Until the RNC and the other national Republican organizations grow a backbone and start defending core principles, don’t give them a dime of your hard-earned money. If you want to invest in the political process, and I encourage you to do so, give directly to candidates who reflect your values and organizations you trust–like FRC Action. At least then you can relax, knowing that your money will be spent advancing faith, family, and freedom!

Efforts by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus to nudge the party to become more “inclusive and welcoming” have stoked a fierce backlash from the GOP’s anti-gay wing. As a result, the RNS is expected to overwhelmingly approve today an anti-gay resolution opposing same-sex marriage and supporting Prop 8 and DOMA.

GOP Slams Brakes On Rebranding Effort

Jim Burroway

April 11th, 2013

The Republican National Committee is meeting in Los Angeles over the next three days beginning today, and one of the first items on the agenda for consideration is a resolution that states:

WHEREAS, the institution of marriage is the solid foundation upon which our society is built and in which children thrive; it is based in the conjugal relationship that only a man and a woman can form; and

WHEREAS, support for marriage has been repeatedly affirmed nationally in the 2012 Republican National Platform, through the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, signed into law by President Bill Clinton), and passed by the voters of 41 States including California via Proposition 8; and

WHEREAS, no Act of human government can change the reality that marriage is a natural and most desirable union; especially when procreation is a goal; and

WHEREAS, the future of our country is children; it has been proven repeatedly that the most secure and nurturing environment in which to raise healthy well adjusted children is in a home where both mother and father are bound together in a loving marriage; and

WHEREAS, economically, marriage is America’s greatest weapon against child poverty no matter what ethnic background individuals are; and, based on the facts of stunning recent articles, marriage is the best way for society to get out of poverty and raise emotionally healthy children; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of laws adopted  to protect marriage from the unfounded accusation that support for marriage is based only on irrational prejudice against homosexuals; therefore be it

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of American; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee implores the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The GOP platform last summer was probably the most anti-gay platform in the party’s history. After Barack Obama won re-election in a campaign which included support for marriage equality, there were some suggestions that the Republican Party should soften its anti-gay positions. But after RNC Chairman Reince Priebus issued the official “autopsy” of the 2012 presidential elections which called on the party to become more “inclusive and welcoming,” a coalition of social conservatives responded with a letter to GOP leadership warning that “an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support.” The letter writers also protest that their anti-gay stance does not mean the party can’t can’t attract gay voters:

Many homosexuals are active in the GOP because they agree with Republicans on economic issues. The fact that the Party is strongly committed to traditional marriage has not prevented their involvement through GOProud or Log Cabin Republicans. We deeply resent the insinuation that we have treated homosexuals unkindly personally.

And we would like to point out that in the four blue states where voters narrowly voted for same sex marriage in 2012, Mitt Romney, who refused to discuss the issue, lost by an average of five points more than the state initiatives to preserve marriage.

Republicans would do well to persuade young voters why marriage between a man and a woman is so important rather than abandon thousands of years of wisdom to please them.

…Real and respectful communication is needed with our organizations. Alleged gaffes by candidates in 2012 on social issues could have been avoided if Party leadership had consulted us, the experts on how to articulate those positions.

Those so-called “experts” who signed the letter were:

  • Gary Bauer, President, American Values
  • Paul Caprio, Director, Family-Pac Federal
  • Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List
  • Dr. James Dobson, President and Founder, Family Talk Action
  • Andrea Lafferty, President, Traditional Values Coalition
  • Tom Minnery, Executive Director, CitizenLink
  • William J. Murray, Chairman, Religious Freedom Coalition
  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
  • Sandy Rios, VP of Government Affairs, Family-Pac Federal
  • Austin Ruse, President, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
  • Phyllis Schlafly, President, Eagle Forum
  • Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, Founder, Traditional Values Coalition
  • Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association

According to Politico, the anti-gay resolution is expected to pass overwhelmingly tomorrow when it goes before the full committee, although it’s not clear whether the resolution’s final form will be the same as the version that has circulated today.

Sen. Mark Kirk Becomes Second GOP Senator to Support Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

April 2nd, 2013

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) today has become the second sitting Republican Senator to announce his support for marriage equality, in a statement released by his office:

When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others.

Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most.  Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back– government has no place in the middle.

In January 2012, Kirk suffered a serious stroke at the relatively young age of 52. It took him a full year of recovery before he was able to return to the Senate this year.

When Kirk, then as Congressman, voted against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010, activist Mike Rogers outed Kirk as gay, an outing that the unmarried then-recently divorced and currently unmarried Senator has never acknowledged. That same year, Kirk announced his support for civil unions, and when the Senate took up DADT repeal at the end of the year, the newly sworn-in Sen. Kirk switched his vote to “yes.” More recently he has backed Illinois GOP chairman Pat Brady against a failed recall attempt after Brady announced his support for a marriage equality bill in the Illinois state legislature.

Kirk’s announcement comes three weeks after Ohio Sen. Rob Portman became the first sitting Republican Senator to back marriage equality. Since then, eight Democratic Senators have announced their support for same-sex marriage. With Kirk’s announcement, there are an even fifty Senators who are now on the right side of history.

Update: The penultimate paragraph was updated to more accurately reflect Kirk’s marital status and his votes on DADT repeal.

The Thirty-Six Percent

Jim Burroway

March 19th, 2013

Click to enlarge.

An ABC/Washington Post poll released yesterday (PDF: 194KB/5 pages) shows that support for marriage equality has hit an all-time high:

Support for gay marriage reached a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, marking a dramatic change in public attitudes on the subject across the past decade. Fifty-eight percent of Americans now say it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to wed.

That number has grown sharply in ABC News/Washington Post polls, from a low of 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters, advancing to a narrow majority for the first time only two years ago, and now up again to a significant majority for the first time.

Most Americans, moreover, say the U.S. Constitution should trump state laws on gay marriage, a question now before the U.S. Supreme Court. And – in another fundamental shift – just 24 percent now see homosexuality as a choice, down from 40 percent nearly 20 years ago. It’s a view that closely relates to opinions on the legality of same-sex marriage.

The poll also shows that intensity of opinion has changed a lot in the past decade. But what’s most interesting, I think, is how much of a shift has occurred  in just the past seven months:

On another subject, do you think it should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
  2/22/2004 8/5/2012 3/10/2013
Legal (strongly) 25% 39% 41%
Legal (somewhat) 13% 14% 17%
NET Legal 39% 53% 58%
No opinion 4% 5% 6%
Illegal (somewhat) 6% 11% 6%
Illegal (strongly) 49% 32% 30%
NET Illegal 55% 42% 36%

I think Rob Tisinai is onto something in observing that the recent rush of a few key conservatives who had previously opposed marriage equality to the pro-equality camp represents their last opportunity to be on the right side of history before the door closes for good with the Supreme Court’s upcoming marriage cases. After all, nobody remembers anyone who decided to support mixed race marriages after 1967′s Loving v. Virginia decision. And with the notable exception of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, it’s hard to remember anyone who switched his support for segregation after Brown v. Board of Education and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

And yet, switching sides for those who had staked out such a strong position against marriage equality cannot be an easy thing to do, mainly because it means having to admit that you were once wrong. And while a few in the Republican Party are willing to do that, and while the younger generations of Republicans are telling their elders that they most definitely are wrong, it’s only now that the GOP appears to be truly wrestling with how to pivot, but without pivoting. Last January, a panel of “Political Insiders” convened by The National Journal showed that among GOP insiders, 48% said that their party “should avoid the issue” of gay marriage, and only 11% said they should oppose it outright. So when the Republican National Committee released its “autopsy” of the 2012 presidential election, it chose not to address gay issues directly, but noted instead that those issues stand in the way of reaching the voters that the GOP really needs in order to survive:

For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.

If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out. The Party should be proud of its conservative principles, but just because someone disagrees with us on 20 percent of the issues, that does not mean we cannot come together on the rest of the issues where we do agree.

…When it comes to social issues, the Party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming. If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues.

That’s hardly the call for the GOP to become more gay friendly that some observers have made it out to be.  But rather, it’s a call to recognize that the GOP’s positions on gay rights are turning off young voters, the demographic that the party really wants to attract. But how the GOP will do that without changing its positions on gay marriage is anybody’s guess. My  guess is magic. Or social media, which is also magic. Or more realistically, as Michelangelo Signorile suggests, the Supreme Court:

It’s been been clear since President Obama came out for marriage equality in May of 2012 that a Democrat could never win the Democratic presidential nomination again without supporting marriage equality. But few of us would have imagined just a few years ago that contenders might be fiercely battling one another over who has done more for gay equality. With mainstream America embracing gay rights, that’s becoming a bigger reality. The GOP’s only hope, it seems, is for the Supreme Court to take the issue off the table entirely. It’s ironic (and grotesque) that the party that has been the most vociferously anti-gay, the party that brutally attacked LGBT people for decades and exploited homophobia for political gain, may be praying that the justices next week begin the process of giving gays full equality.

GOP Sen. Portman supports equality

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2013

I knew it had to happen at some point. Some Republican US Senator had to be the first to endorse marriage equality, but I was thinking maybe Sue Collins or Mark Kirk. I certainly wasn’t guessing Ohio’s freshman Senator, Rob Portman.

But then again I didn’t know that Portman has a gay son. (Cleveland.com)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman on Thursday announced he has reversed his longtime opposition to same-sex marriage after reconsidering the issue because his 21-year-old son, Will, is gay.

Portman said his son, a junior at Yale University, told him and his wife, Jane, that he’s gay and “it was not a choice, it was who he is and that he had been that way since he could remember.”

“It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have — to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years,” Portman told reporters in an interview at his office.

This is a bit risky. Ohio Republicans are a different breed from the New Hampshire strain.

But I’m going to hazard a guess that this wont much hurt Portman. It might even help him. Times have changed and even the wing-nuts can accept a father acting out of love for his kid.

(CNN has a fuller story )

UPDATE: Sen. Portman has written an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch expressing his views on marriage. Some I disagree with (I hope for an expansive court decision on marriage equality), but as an appeal to other conservatives and Republicans, I welcome this step. It’s far stronger to have Portman assert in his own words his support for equality than simply to tell the press.

GOP tries unsuccessfully to block Minnesota marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

March 14th, 2013

A series of procedural votes suggest that marriage will pass the Minnesota Senate. (PostBulletin)

While the votes were procedural, Republicans portrayed a final floor vote as a functional vote on gay marriage. That motion, which adds the bill to a long list of bills awaiting action on the Senate floor, passed 35-31. One Republican senator joined all but four of the chamber’s Democrats to keep the bill moving.

But it is the argument in opposition that floors me. Having discovered that marriage equality is coming to Minnesota, Senate Republicans have suddenly found a concern over the fiscal impact of marriage.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans produced a document they said shows that authorizing gay marriage could cost the state’s insurance fund over $600,000 a year to provide coverage to spouses of gay state employees. They questioned whether it could also increase court costs or have other ramifications on state spending, and said the bill should be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees spending.

“I think it’s going to cost the state of Minnesota a bunch of money,” said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson. “I think that impact is going to be significant. If I’m wrong, so be it.”

So that’s why they oppose equality. Not because it is gay people we are talking about, but because treating all of the state’s citizens equally would increase the annual state budget by 0.0018 percent.

As a fiscal conservative – and an accountant – this argument is far far more offensive than worries about The Children, or the Traditional Definition of Marriage, or even The End of Civilization As We Know It.

This is an acknowledgment that gay citizens are treated unequally. This is a calculation of the cost to the gay and lesbian citizens of Minnesota that they unfairly pay. And the argument is that although gays and lesbians receive $600,000 less in state services – services freely given to straight state employees but for which gay state employees have to reach in their own pocket – this discrimination should continue because equality would increase the budget by about 1.8 thousands of a percent.

As an argument for tossing the right to a citizen’s self determination out the window, this is about as offensive and stupid as it gets.

Brady survives ouster attempt

Timothy Kincaid

March 12th, 2013

When Pat Brady, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, endorsed marriage equality earlier this year, many thought it would end his influence and position in the party. But instead it seems to have highlighted a decline in the sway of social conservatives. Moderates – and those who don’t much care one way or the other – appear to no longer be giving the far right control over social issues; or at least not in this matter.

Sources within the GOP state central committee said the group of committee members seeking Brady’s ouster had been having difficulty coming up with the required 60 percent of the weighted vote to remove the state chairman. Questions also were raised over whether such action could be taken during a special meeting under the state GOP’s rules.

The states other party power players, including the House GOP leader and Sen. Mark Kirk, have sided with Brady.

While this does not suggest that Republicans as a whole are going to do an about face on marriage, it does portend that there are going to be some political fireworks ahead.

Final Tally: 131 Republicans Sign Brief Opposing Prop 8

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2013

The list includes Mormon former Utah governor and GOP presidential nomination candidate, former New Mexico governor and presidential candidate Gary Johnson, former Reps. Mary Bono Mack, Jom Kolbe, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, former New Jersey governor and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, columnist David Frum, Clint Eastwood, and Mary Cheney (but not her father). Sadly, the list only includes seven current office holders: Reps. Richard Hanna (NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), New Hampshire State Sens. John Reagan and Nancy Stiles, Wyoming State Reps. Ruth Ann Petroff and Dan Zwonitzer, and New York State Sen. Mark Grissanti, who cast the pivotal vote allowing same-sex marriage in New York.

It’s easy to get caught up in who signed and who didn’t sign, the actual arguments in the brief (PDF: 130KB/42 pages) have mostly been overlooked. Which is a shame, because these arguments appear to be addressed to conservatives specifically:

Amici do not denigrate the deeply held social, cultural, and religious tenets that lead sincere people to take the opposite view (and, indeed, some amici themselves once held the opposite view). Whether same-sex couples should have access to civil marriage divides thoughtful, concerned citizens. But this Court has long recognized that a belief, no matter how strongly or sincerely held, cannot justify a legal distinction that is unsupported by a factual basis, especially where something as important as the right to civil marriage is concerned. Amici take this position with the understanding that providing access to civil marriage for same-sex couples — which is the only issue raised in this case — poses no credible threat to religious freedom or to the institution of religious marriage. Amici believe firmly that religious individuals and organizations should, and will, make their own decisions about whether and how to participate in marriages between people of the same sex, and that the government must not intervene in those decisions.

Another area in which the brief appears to address anti-gay activists, in particular, directly, is in the misuse of social science research:

Amici do not believe that measures like Proposition 8 rest on a legitimate, fact-based justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage. Over the past two decades, amici have seen each argument against same-sex marriage discredited by social science, rejected by courts, and undermined by their own experiences with committed same-sex couples, including those whose civil marriages have been given legal recognition in various States. Amici thus do not believe that any “reasonable support in fact” exists for arguments that allowing same-sex couples to join in civil marriage will damage the institution, jeopardize children, or cause any other social ills. Instead, the facts and evidence show that permitting civil marriage for same-sex couples will enhance the institution, protect children, and benefit society generally.

The brief goes very deeply into the argument that marriage is good for families and children, including children in families with  same-sex parents:

Marriage also benefits children. “We know, for instance, that children who grow up in intact, married families are significantly more likely to graduate from high school, finish college, become gainfully employed, and enjoy a stable family life themselves[.]” Institute for American Values, When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America 52 (2010); see also id. at 95 … These benefits have become even more critical in recent decades, as marital rates have declined and child-rearing has become increasingly untethered to marriage. See, e.g., Cherlin, American Marriage in the Early Twenty-First Century, 15 The Future of Children 33, 35-36 (2005).

These findings do not depend on the gender of the individuals forming the married couple. Same-sex couples, just like couples composed of a man and a woman, benefit from the security and bilateral loyalty conferred by civil marriage. There is no reason to believe that the salutary effects of civil marriage arise to any lesser degree when two women or two men lawfully marry each other than when a man and a woman marry.

…Moreover, hundreds of thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples5 — some married, some precluded from marrying — would benefit from the security and stability that civil marriage confers. The denial of civil marriage to same-sex couples does not mean that their children will be raised by married opposite-sex couples. Rather, the choice here is between allowing same-sex couples to marry, thereby conferring on their children the benefits of marriage, and depriving those children of married parents altogether.

…It is precisely because marriage is so important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that amici do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.

The brief also tackles the oft-heard “sincerely held belief” argument:

However firmly and honestly held, the belief that same-sex couples should be treated differently from opposite-sex couples where civil marriage is concerned, by itself, does not provide a permissible justification for a discriminatory law like Proposition 8. The rule that a classification must find support in a legitimate factual justification is central to our constitutional tradition. This Court has long recognized that private beliefs, no matter how strongly held, do not, without more, establish a constitutional basis for a law.

As you can see, the brief includes arguments that we’ve all heard before, but couched in a way to address conservatives especially. That is particularly evident in the final, lengthy section designed to argue that overturning Prop 8 is would not be an act of judicial activism. What I find interesting is the way this brief invokes James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, among others, in what looks to me an attempt to address those who hold the “original intent” view of the Constitution (they’re looking at you, Scalia):

Amici recognize that a signal and admirable characteristic of our judiciary is the exercise of restraint when confronted with a provision duly enacted by the people or their representatives, and it is not the job of this Court “to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” National Fed’n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, 132 S. Ct. 2566, 2579 (2012). Nonetheless, this Court’s “deference in matters of policy cannot …become abdication in matters of law.” Id. It is this Court’s duty to set aside laws that overstep the limits imposed by the Constitution—limits that reflect a different kind of restraint that the people wisely imposed on themselves to ensure that segments of the population are not deprived of liberties that there is no legitimate basis to deny them. As James Madison put it,

In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the Constituents.

…It is accordingly not a violation of principles of judicial restraint for this Court to strike down laws that infringe on “fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.” McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3042 (2010). It is instead a key protection of limited, constitutionally constrained government. See The Federalist No. 78 (Hamilton) (“[A] limited Constitution … can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void.”); see also Madison, Speech in Congress on the Removal Power (June 8, 1789).

Click here to see the full list of signatories

Minnesota GOP leaders fall on either side of marriage debate

Timothy Kincaid

February 27th, 2013

This week has seen a number of prominent Republicans speak out in favor of equality. But not all GOP members are signed on for a new perspective on marriage or ready to apply laws equally to all of a state’s citizens. Some Republican legislators in Minnesota rallied today to announce their opposition to that state’s move towards allowing same sex couples the same access to marriage law as heterosexual couples. (CBS)

The gay marriage bill was unveiled Wednesday at the Capitol. Its backers say last fall’s defeat of a constitutional gay marriage ban shows the state is ready for gay marriages.

But Republicans say voters only rejected putting the ban in the constitution, and that it shouldn’t be seen as an endorsement of gay marriage. About 15 GOP lawmakers gathered for a press conference against the bill.

Meanwhile one more prominent Minnesota Republican has added her voice in support. Patricia Anderson served as Minnesota State Auditor from 2003-07 and as Republican National Committeewoman from 2011-12. She has also run as a Republican candidate for governor and currently serves as the chair of the Fourth Congressional District Republicans. (Pioneer Press)

If we are truly the party of freedom and limited government, what justification is there to use the power of government to restrict people’s lives?

Overwhelmingly, younger generations support marriage for same-sex couples, and I agree with Sen. Petersen that it is inevitable. As a mother of generally Republican-leaning children in high school and college, it was difficult to explain to them why our party took the position it did. The philosophical double standard was troublesome, to say the least.

I believe it is time for Minnesota state law to finally reflect the fact that marriage is about the love, commitment and responsibility that two people share. Marriage is good for children, and it strengthens families and communities. If we truly believe these things, I cannot think of any valid reason for our state to continue to exclude same-sex couples from having the opportunity to marry and pursue happiness like anyone else.

See also a Minnesota Post interview.

David Frum’s reversal

Timothy Kincaid

February 27th, 2013

Why David Frum signed the amicus brief (Daily Beast):

As a conservative concerned with stabilizing families to rely less on government aid, I have been convinced: I’ve been worrying about the wrong thing. Stopping same-sex marriages does nothing to support families battered by economic adversity. Instead, it excludes and punishes people who seek only to live as conservatives would urge them to live. Treating same-sex partnerships differently from husband-wife marriages only serves to divide and antagonize those who ought to be working together.

Like many signatories of the amicus brief, my thinking has been influenced by the fine example of the many committed, devoted same-sex couples I know. At least as much, however, I have also been swayed by an intensifying awareness of the harm culture-war politics has done to my party. Culture-war politics have isolated the GOP from the America of the present and future, fastening it to politics of nostalgia for a (mis)remembered past. Culture-war politics have substituted for relevant cultural policies aimed at encouraging the raising of children within married families. Worst of all, culture-war politics has taught the GOP to talk to America as if the nation were split into hostile halves, as if more separates Americans than unites them.

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