House Republicans stop anti-marriage efforts
July 18th, 2013
In a slightly oddly worded filing, the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), under the direction of Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, has ceased defending any of the laws which seek to distinguish between opposite-sex and same-sex marriage. The BLAG’s last-minute filing in a case involving service member’s marital benefits was the venue through which this retreat was announced. (BuzzFeed)
The Supreme Court recently resolved the issue of DOMA Section 3’s constitutionality. See United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. __ (2013), 2013 WL 3196928 (U.S. June 26, 2013). The Windsor decision necessarily resolves the issue of DOMA Section 3’s constitutionality in this case. While the question of whether 38 U.S.C. § 101(3), (31) is constitutional remains open, the House has determined, in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Windsor, that it no longer will defend that statute. Accordingly, the House now seeks leave to withdraw as a party defendant.
In other words, while Windsor only addressed DOMA3, not the myriad of laws that are written such that they limit application to male-female marriage, the decision on DOMA3 made clear the court’s intent. And so – unlike the Proposition 8 supporters in California – the Republicans in the House will not spend any more time or money fighting the minutia in court.
This is a bit further than I expected.
The broad stroke exclusion of gay couples found in DOMA3 was struck down as unconstitutional. This does not mean, from a legal perspective, that every exclusion of same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The BLAG could have continued on a case-by-case basis to argue that while broad exclusion is not allowed, in the instances at question there are good and valid governmental interests in upholding unequal laws and it’s possible that they would prevail in some.
So this decision to pull out and the language utilized suggests that more than just a legal determination has been made. This also heralds a shift in political will.
Today is Boehner’s deadline to oppose service member benefits
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
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
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
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.
Massachusetts GOP Senate Candidate goes to Pride
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
March 19th, 2013
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?|
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.