HRC criticizes Obama over DOMA brief

Washington Blade
June 15, 2009
The Human Rights Campaign took President Obama to task following the release of a controversial Justice Department brief last week that defended the Defense of Marriage Act. In a letter sent to Obama on Monday, HRC President Joe Solmonese contests certain arguments made in the brief and urges the president to move to repeal DOMA, which prevents federal recognition of same-sex unions:

When a woman must choose between her job and caring for her spouse because they are not covered by the [Family Medical Leave Act], DOMA is not 'netural.' DOMA is not a 'neutral' policy to the thousands of bi-national same-sex couples who have to choose between family and country because they are considered strangers under our immigration laws. It is not a 'neutral' policy toward the minor child of a same-sex couple, who is denied thousands of dollars of surviving mother's or father's benefits because his parents are not 'spouses' under Social Security law. Exclusion is not neutrality. If we are equals, if you recognize that our families live the same, love the same, and contribute as much as yours, then ... we call on you to put your principles into action and send legislation repealing DOMA to Congress.

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U.S. to Extend Its Job Benefits to Gay Partners

The New York Times
June 16, 2009
President Obama will sign a presidential memorandum on Wednesday to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, administration officials said Tuesday evening, but he will stop short of pledging full health insurance coverage. Mr. Obama, in an Oval Office announcement, is expected to offer details about which benefits will be provided. It is the most significant statement he has made on gay issues, and it comes as he faces intense criticism from several gay rights leaders over what they suggest has been a failure to live up to campaign promises in the first months of his presidency. “Extending benefits to partners of gay federal employees is terrific, but at this point he is under enormous pressure from the gay civil rights community for having promised the moon and done nothing so far,” Richard Socarides, an adviser to the Clinton administration on gay issues, said Tuesday evening. “So more important now is what he says tomorrow about the future for gay people during his presidency.” [Link]

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Outraged By Obama Legal Brief, Gay Democratic Donors Boycotting DNC Bash

ABC News
June 16, 2009
Last week, President Obama's Justice Department filed a legal brief against marriage equality in which it compared gay unions to incestuous ones and that of an underage girl – in the sense that states have the right to not recognize marriages that are legal in other states or countries. The timing of the brief is awkward, given that next Thursday, June 25, the Democratic National Committee is hitting up the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community for cash in a fundraiser featuring Vice President Biden. As John Aravosis at AmericaBlog reports, gay donors, outraged at the legal brief, are withdrawing their support from the event. [Link]

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Gay Group Slams Policies of President

The Wall Street Journal
June 16, 2009
A prominent gay-rights organization, long supportive of President Barack Obama, sent him a scathing letter Monday to protest the administration's recent legal backing of the Defense of Marriage Act. The letter from Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese included a detailed critique of the administration's filing. "This brief would not have seen the light of day if someone in your administration who truly recognized our humanity and equality had weighed in with you," he wrote. [Link]

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Editorial: A Bad Call on Gay Rights

The New York Times
June 16, 2009
The Obama administration, which came to office promising to protect gay rights but so far has not done much, actually struck a blow for the other side last week. It submitted a disturbing brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which is the law that protects the right of states to not recognize same-sex marriages and denies same-sex married couples federal benefits. In times like these, issues like repealing the marriage act can seem like a distraction — or a political liability. But busy calendars and political expediency are no excuse for making one group of Americans wait any longer for equal rights. [Link]

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Dear President Obama: This is what a “fierce advocate” looks like

Daily Kos
June 16, 2009
Rachel Maddow took on the Obama administration's defense of DOMA last night on MSNBC. Maddow: "Are you ready for the latest talking points against same-sex marriage in the United States? Here we go. Are you ready? ..." Guest Howard Dean was at his firebrand best. In unvarnished language he condemned the Department of Justic brief on DOMA calling it a "big mistake" and a problem Obama will have "dig himself out of." He also forcefully stated, "But this is a huge mistake. You cannot talk about gay Americans the way gay Americans were talked about in this brief." Watch the full interview below:



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Evan Wolfson Quoting Obama

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry posted the following on Facebook:
When running last year, President Obama said, "Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does." So why does his Department of Justice put forward offensive and nonsensical arguments to say this unjust federal law does not discriminate? It's not too late for a fast correction so together we can get back to "change we can believe in." (Source: Facebook)

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Evan Wolfson on Obama

America Blog
June 14, 2009
Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry posted the following on Facebook:
The Obama Administration stumbled badly in defending the federal anti-marriage law, so-called "DOMA," despite his repeated campaign promises to end this federal discrimination against married gay couples and their loved ones. It is appalling to see the Obama Justice Department out-Bushing the Bush administration in its anti-gay arguments to shore up a massively unjust law that President Obama pledged to undo.
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Patricia Clarkson: Here’s to the Violets: My Thoughts on Gay Rights

The Huffington Post
June 15, 2009
One of Freedom to Marry's Voices For Equality, Patricia Clarkson, recently delivered the keynote speech at the Human Rights Campaign's Annual New Orleans Dinner. See video below of her speech: "Here's to the Violets: My Thoughts on Gay Rights"



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L.A. gay pride parade darkened by U.S. stance on marriage

Los Angeles Times
June 15, 2009
The mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco joined gay rights groups Sunday in raising concerns about the Obama administration's defense of a federal law restricting marriage equality. "I think it's a big mistake," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said shortly before he and his Los Angeles counterpart, Antonio Villaraigosa, kicked off the annual L.A. Pride parade in West Hollywood. "I'm concerned about some of the arguments being made by the Justice Department," Villaraigosa told a cluster of news crews on Santa Monica Boulevard. [Link]

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