President Obama Recommits Himself and His Administration to LGBT Campaign Promises

Law Dork, 2.0
June 29, 2009
The President of the United States, the leader of the free world, spent 20 minutes this afternoon telling the world that he views Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as harmful to national security, that he is calling on Congress to repeal the “so-called” — his words — Defense of Marriage Act, and that he wants a fully inclusive ENDA and hate crimes bills on his desk. In all, I think the President used today well to acknowledge our impatience while not diminishing it, saying, “It’s not for me to tell you to be patient.” The President clearly recommitted himself and his Administration to the campaign promises he made to us. Yes, I want to see more action, and, sure, there is room for improvement — particularly in regards to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — but I am glad to hear directly from our President that he realizes our struggle and wants to work with us — and use his role in the White House — to advance LGBT equality. [Link]

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White House Reaffirms Commitment to Repeal So Called Federal DOMA

The White House Briefing Room
June 29, 2009
Today's event is more than just a reception honoring LGBT Pride month. It is an opportunity for the Administration to provide the world with a snap shot of the real heroes across the country that do the day-to-day work fighting for equality. People like State Representative Patricia Todd in Alabama to Sheriff Lupe Valdez in Dallas, and many other local LGBT elected officials that will be here today. And it’s people – ordinary families – that by simply living their lives openly are changing hearts and minds. It is also an opportunity to welcome the people upon whom shoulders we stand, people like Frank Kameny, as well as Phil Wilson, Bishop Robinson and Ambassador Hormel, and those who stood up to bigotry at Stonewall. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We will work together to pass Hate Crimes and ENDA and to end DADT and DOMA, but today is an opportunity to celebrate who we are and affirm who we are as Americans. [Link]

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Political Shifts on Gay Rights Lag Behind Culture

New York Times
June 27, 2009
"America is changing more quickly than the government,” said Linda Ketner, a gay Democrat from South Carolina who came within four percentage points of winning a Congressional seat in November. “They are lagging behind the crowd. But if I remember my poli sci from college, isn’t that the way it always works?” [link]

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A grassroots movement to end DOMA

People For the American Way
June 24, 2009
The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has got to go. And with the support of our members, People For the American Way is going to wage the fight to make sure that happens. Marriage equality for same-sex couples is now a reality in six states, and there will be more to come soon. But even as barriers are being broken down in the states, DOMA remains a roadblock to legal recognition of same-sex couples, to legal and social equality, to benefits and protections that committed, loving families have the right to enjoy -- around healthcare decisions, child custody and so much more. The effort to repeal DOMA is a true ground-up, "movement-style" campaign and that's why we need as many people involved and invested in it as possible. [Link]

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Gay couples can use married names on passports

The Associated Press
June 19, 2009
Gay couples traveling overseas can now show passports that feature their married names. Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, a New York-based group that campaigns nationally for gay marriage rights, said the change in passport regulations is a "very small step in the right direction," but falls "far short of the work that needs to happen to keep the federal government from discriminating against gay couples across the country." [link]

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White House: Census to better count gay couples

The Associated Press
June 19, 2009
U.S. Census Bureau officials said Friday that married same-sex couples will be counted as such in the 2010 national tally, reversing an earlier decision made under the Bush administration. Steve Jost, a spokesman for the Census Bureau, said officials already were identifying the technical changes needed to ensure the reliability of the information, but remained committed to providing an accurate tally of gay spouses. [link]

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Video Log: Kate Clinton

KateClinton.com
June 18, 2009
Comedian Kate Clinton is pissed! Check out her weekly Vlog talking about DOMA, the federal benefits extension memorandum, and other current events below:



[Link]

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Federal marriage equality challenge is a Hollywood tale

Reuters
June 18, 2009
The story of two famous U.S. lawyers from opposite ends of the political spectrum banding together to launch a bold and unexpected fight for marriage equality sounds like it could have been written in Hollywood. Their bid, which has its first hearing in a San Francisco federal district court on July 2, could make gay marriage a national right in a few years -- or cripple the movement. "The lawsuit has been filed. We all have an interest in it going as well as possible," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry. "The best way is to win more states and to continue moving more hearts and minds," he said. A loss could mean years before the Supreme Court revisited the freedom to marry, even if societal attitudes change. Moreover, an opinion backing marriage for only heterosexual couples could backlash against gays in other legal fights. It could take a couple of years for the case to wind its way up to the Supreme Court, which also could refuse to hear it. In the mean time, the public debate led by the super-lawyers may help the marriage equality cause. [Link]

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Outcry on Federal Same-Sex Benefits

The New York Times
June 17, 2009
The package of domestic partnership benefits that President Obama established for federal workers on Wednesday drew the loudest protests from some of those it was intended to help, gay men and lesbians who criticized the move as too timid. The administrative memorandum extending some partnership rights to federal workers in same-sex relationships, which Mr. Obama signed late Wednesday, allows administration personnel to take leave to care for sick partners and requires the government to recognize their partners as household members when determining overseas housing allocations for State Department employees, among other things. But several of the nation’s most prominent gay and lesbian political leaders quickly attacked the president for failing to extend full health care benefits to the same-sex partners of federal workers, questioning the administration’s explanation that it is precluded from doing so by the Defense of Marriage Act, which Mr. Obama had vowed to repeal during his presidential campaign. [Link]

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Time for Federal Action


June 18, 2009
By Evan Wolfson
Executive Director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry

On Wednesday, President Obama took a small step in the right direction directing his administration to provide some protections to same-sex partners of federal employees. Any measure that provides some support and respect to more families in America is obviously a good thing, but not a solution to the root cause of many of the hardships and the injustice gay Americans experience – the denial of the freedom to marry. Selected partner protections for federal workers, however good, fall far short of the vision of an inclusive and equal America that gay people continue to believe President Obama shares, despite the Administration's months of inaction and recent bad actions such as the Department of Justice's offensive brief filed in support of the federal anti-marriage law.

President Obama laid out this shared vision in a February 2008 open letter to the gay community:
“I’m running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all – a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters…I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does.”

The rising frustration and disappointment that advocates of equality, gay and non-gay, have begun expressing is a warning signal that the Administration and Congress need to get the team and work back on track. The President's Oval Office statement yesterday calling again for repealing of the discriminatory so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ or DOMA was a good marker by which to measure the needed progress; now the White House and Congressional leaders must move a repeal bill forward, working in partnership with gay organizations and the many others who support equal rights in America.

Shortly after President Obama's election, I published an "Open Letter" congratulating him and all of us who worked to secure the vote for the vision we share. I wrote, "Discrimination based on sexual orientation, particularly government denial of fundamental rights such as the freedom to marry, is not a gay problem. It is an American problem…We are ready for your leadership, and ready to do our part.” I urged the President to follow the example of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and provide the moral leadership and make the "bully pulpit" case to the American people that would help frame, spur, and accompany specific actions, some of which require legislation and some of which his administration can and should take now "at the stroke of a pen."

In February, as the Administration's inaction began to raise concerns, I wrote a piece offering lessons from Lincoln, President Obama's role-model:
"Lincoln's combination of tactical maneuvering and incremental action with consistent articulation of a clear moral standard over time helped elevate public understanding and commitment to what is right.... As Lincoln's words and actions skillfully paved the way for America's "new birth of freedom," he returned again and again to the Declaration of Independence's promise that "all should have an equal chance." Lincoln didn't expect that promise to waft in by itself, or solely on the work of others. He led."

It's time now for all of us, gay organizations, advocates of equality, the President, his Administration, and Congress to get back on track and start delivering.

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