Drive to stop same sex partnership law is dividing conservatives

Los Angeles Times
June 8, 2009
Conservative groups in Washington State have begun collecting signatures for a ballot referendum to block a new state law that substantially expands rights for domestic partners. When it takes effect in July, the law will expand previous domestic partnership rights to include issues like adoption, child support, pensions and other public-employee benefits. The Rev. Joe Fuiten, founder of Positive Christian Agenda, recently circulated an e-mail asking Christian conservatives to consider the downside of picking this fight when polls show that most Washingtonians favor broad equal rights for domestic partners. [Link]

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Will the Fight Over Marriage Equality Be the End of Right vs. Left Thinking?

Huffington Post
June 2, 2009

Arianna Huffington writes, "Not that long ago, gay marriage was a dependable wedge issue Republicans could use to keep its base in line. But, in the wake of last week's Prop 8 ruling, that wedge is clearly splintering.

All you have to do is look at Dick Cheney who, speaking at the National Press Club today, said, "I think freedom means freedom for everyone." Cheney said he supports gay marriage as long as it's sanctioned at the state level -- a more progressive position than President Obama's current civil-unions-not-marriage stance." (Link)

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Cheney Offers Support For Marriage Equality

Huffington Post
June 1, 2009

Sam Stein writes, "Dick Cheney rarely takes a position that places him at a more progressive tilt than President Obama. But on Monday, the former vice president did just that, saying that he supports gay marriage as long as it is deemed legal by state and not federal government." (Link)

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Marriage Equality and the New Faces of the Republican Party

Huffington Post
May 19, 2009

Lincoln Mitchell writes, "Since the November 2008 election, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine have passed laws supporting gay marriage and it seems reasonably clear that other states will join these states, and Massachusetts, soon. Advances in these states suggest that Proposition 8 was the end of something, not the beginning. More states are making marriage equal for all people not because of an upsurge of passionate supporters of gay marriage, but because of a collapse of the moderate opposition to allowing two men or two women to marry each other." (Link)

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Olbermann butchers RNC chairman on marriage equality

May 19, 2009

Marriage equality doesn’t hurt small businesses. That’s according to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who excoriated Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on his “Countdown” program Monday. (Link)

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GOP Chair Steele’s Trial Balloon Full of Hot Air

By Scott Davenport
May 18, 2009

GOP Chairman Michael Steele has a tough job, and I got to see so first hand. You see I ride Amtrak between DC and New York every week, and about two weeks ago I happened to be sitting right in front of him.

He barely had a moment of peace to read, check email or consult with the aides that were travelling with him. After all, Steele’s a tall man that stands out in a crowd – and most everyone on the train seemed to recognize him. So almost as soon as he’d sat down, someone was over shaking his hand and chatting. Telling him exactly what he or the party should do.

I took pity on him – despite the fact that I’ve been a loyal Democrat for decades and of course am now a professional working for marriage equality – and left him alone. At least until we were all standing up getting ready to disembark in New York.

Then I took the moment to introduce myself and apologize if my coughing fit somewhere near Wilmington had interrupted the one moment he had to concentrate on email. We exchanged pleasantries, and I congratulated him on trying to broaden the party (his party, that is!). I also offered to show him some polls that show an increasing number of Republican insiders believe marriage equality for gays is something the party should support (or at least ignore).

Unfortunately, he didn’t take me up on that. Maybe he should have – because the strain of herding all the disparate factions of the Republican party is now beginning to show. Why else would he have said over the weekend that ending discrimination in marriage for gay couples would cost small businesses money?!

I know he’s trying to recast his party’s message to make it more about economics. But really – does he actually believe this will knit together Republican economic conservatives with the social conservatives that dominate the primaries? The premise just seems laughable.

First, those economic conservatives really don’t get the ideology of the Christian right. They believe in small government, because they think more freedom will make everyone more willing to try out new business ideas and make the economy grow. The evangelicals just simply disapprove of gay people and want to do everything they can to make them go away. But economic conservatives really don’t want the government in everyone’s bedroom.

But more importantly, Steele’s idea that marriage equality will cost business money is just flat out wrong. Most businesses these days – both big and small – choose to offer domestic partner benefits. They do so, because they know that attracting and retaining a diverse work force makes them more competitive. And in many cases, they do so because they know it’s the right thing to do.

But domestic partner benefits are complicated. They take extra work to create and administer. At the end of every year, because the federal government doesn’t treat those benefits the same as for opposite sex couples, each employer has to impute the cost of those benefits and add it to the employee’s tax statement. And then the employee has to pay taxes on them. So it costs both the employer and employee extra.

So if loving and committed gay couples everywhere had the freedom to marry, then domestic partner benefit programs wouldn’t be needed. Everyone who was married would simply participate in the same programs and be treated equally.

And small businesses wouldn’t have to worry about creating special plans for their gay customers. No need to worry if the two guys in front of you are domestic partners or civil unioned and whether that means they get the family rate at the rental car counter. When they’re married, they are treated just like everyone else.

And when all employees and customers are treated like everyone else then it costs businesses less because they have fewer special circumstances to administer. And those employees and customers are happy because nobody is getting special treatment. You see we really don’t want special rights – we just want to be treated like everyone else.

So Mr. Steele, maybe next time you’re on the train, take some time to just sit and ponder. Let the fuzziness that’s created from all that glad-handing clear from your mind. Maybe then your trial balloons on marriage equality won’t be so full of hot air and you’d be able to see a clearer, brighter path for the Republican party -- and for all of us too.

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New York State Assembly passes marriage bill

Edge New York
May 12, 2009

The New York State Assembly passed a bill tonight that would extend marriage to same-sex couples by a 89-52 vote. Assemblymember Teresa Sayward [R-Willsboro] was among the roughly half a dozen Republicans who voted in favor of the bill. She evoked her gay son as she cast her vote.

"The word marriage symbolizes love, commitment and family and why should my son and other sons and daughters around the state of New York [not] have the same opportunity to experience that same commitment, love and family that other heterosexual couples do," Sayward said. "It’s time for us to not only reach in our hearts, but to do what we as elected officials in America have done all along and say we will not accept anything but equal rights."(Link)

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Republicans could play decisive role in New York marriage bill

EDGE New York
May 1, 2009

More than 2,000 activists and their supporters from across the state gathered in Albany earlier this week to lobby lawmakers to back legislation that would end the exclusion of gay and lesbian New Yorkers from marriage. And while these efforts will certainly continue increase in the coming weeks, Republican legislators could play a critical role in whether marriage for same-sex couples becomes a reality in the Empire State.(Link)

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COMMENTARY: Marriage Equality Is Inevitable

April 29, 2009

Bernard Whitman writes, "Marriage equality is going to happen in this country. It's only a matter of time." [Link]

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GOP Urged to Rethink Opposition to Marriage Equality

Washington Post
April 18, 2009

Former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt said in a speech before the Log Cabin Republicans that socially conservative Republicans need to reexamine their continued opposition to marriage equality. [Link]

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