Marriage Equality an Important Issue in Court Pick

Washington Post
May 17, 2009
As President Obama prepares to name his first Supreme Court justice, conservatives in Washington are making clear that his nominee will face plenty of questions during the confirmation process on the legal underpinnings of marriage equality for gay couples. [link]

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Barry, Obama & The Winding Road To Marriage for Gays

Washington Post
May 11, 2009
When the history of this country's journey toward acceptance of marriage equality is written, much will be made of the startling swiftness with which one state after another embraced gay marriage in a matter of a few months in 2008 and 2009. But those same historians will find a dissonant note in this social revolution: What's behind these strange turns in the public attitudes of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and President Barack Obama? [link]

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Marriage Equality and Our Leaders

New York Times
May 8, 2009

A number of people write to the New York Times to express that President Obama's proposal to work for gay partner rights without marriage is advocating a "separate but equal" status. [Link]

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White House Speechless on Marriage Progress

Huffington Post
May 7, 2009

Lane Hudson writes, "The Solution: The White House and other Democrats should shed their feigned distaste for equal rights for gays. Now is the time. We are in the midst of a revolution. Public opinion is changing faster than ever. Even Republicans are considering embracing some of these issues because they are beginning to realize that their homophobic ranting is driving the under 30 vote away in droves. Embrace history and be a part of advancing the next big expansion of equal rights to a minority in America. We've never looked back on that with shame. Indeed, they are the are some of the proudest moments in our history." [Link]

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OP-ED: Where’s Our ‘Fierce Advocate’?

Washington Post
May 2, 2009

Richard Socarides on what he sees as the Obama administration's lack of action on LGBT issues so far: "What makes this especially disappointing is that it comes during a crisis-driven 'change moment' in our country's history that not only cries out for leadership but presents a particularly good climate for making substantial progress on gay equality." [Link]

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The White House Office of Missed Opportunity

April 7, 2009
While President Obama traveled abroad, the marriage-equality landscape underwent a tectonic shift. But his administration is still too firmly rooted in last year's campaign mode to absorb the change. [Link]

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White House expands faith-based advisory panel

The Associated Press
April 6, 2009
President Obama Monday announced the appointments of Human Rights Campaign's (and Freedom to Marry alumni) Harry Knox and Pentecostal Bishop Charles E. Blake as two of nine new members of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. [Link]

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Obama’s Missed Iowa Moment

April 7, 2009
Queerty writes about what they call Obama's "tepid response" to Iowa's Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality: "Our President wants to go down in history as the fulfillment of the American Dream, but so long as he remains mute on the deferred dreams of gays and lesbians, dreams he privately supports, greatness will continue to elude him." [Link]

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Marriage movement looks to ‘Obamify’

San Francisco Chronicle
February 16, 2009
The strategy means ditching scripted phone-bank calls and TV commercials that Marriage Equality say "lacked heart." Instead, gay families - and their friends and sympathetic clergy - would be encouraged to get out of the state's big cities and knock on doors in places where they have little support, such as the Central Valley. It would mean allowing supporters more leeway to tell their own stories. [Link]

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TALKING TO POLITICIANS: A Letter to President Obama

Guest Blogger: Rev. William Sinkford

Dear Mr. President:

I learned of your election on a late-night flight to Africa. When the pilot announced that you would be the 44th president of the United States, many of us wept with joy. The hopes Americans have placed in you are so high, and the challenges are so daunting. You will lead us during a critical period of war, recession, and mounting ecological threats. Some might say you have taken on a thankless job; I am deeply grateful for a president who seems equal to these challenges.

And I am hopeful that your vision will encompass all of us. During the campaign, the rights of same-sex couples were downplayed even among progressives. While I understand the strategic reasons for this, I feel called to witness on behalf of those Americans whose rights were trampled and whose dignity was assaulted by state ballot initiatives preventing marriage or adoption.

Before the presidential campaign began in earnest, back in the summer of 2007, you said something that gave me great hope: “Too often, the issue of gay rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

I rejoiced at those words then, and I want to lift them up now. Some people—including some wise and experienced leaders—are still seeking to divide us. They are cautioning you not to overreach as you set new policies. These people may advise you that legal equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people is a luxury, and they may urge you to put civil rights on the back burner for now. Wait, they are saying. Wait for a better time.

But we know there’s never a better time to end discrimination. It wasn’t the right time in 1954 when Brown v. Board ended segregation in public schools—the critics then said that too many states and cities weren’t ready for a change as big as racial integration. And yet change came—not because we were ready but because—in the words of abolitionist Unitarian minister Theodore Parker that were echoed by Dr. King—“the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Progress may be delayed, but its course is unstoppable.

In 1967, if the United States Supreme Court had waited for “the right time,” Loving v. Virginia would not have been decided in favor of committed couples who wished to marry but happened to be of different races. Before this decision, in many states I would not have been allowed to marry my wife. Today, just a generation later, it is unthinkable that we would ever again adopt such laws that keep loving people apart. And yet that’s exactly what happened in California and in several other states last November. You have the opportunity to correct this injustice and to put us back on course.

Yes, America is facing big problems, but I urge you not to view our country as a hierarchy of competing needs, with minority rights taking a backseat to issues like the economy. Instead, I pray that you will see our society as a diverse, interconnected web, where the health of our nation depends upon the well-being of each of its citizens. It will take an act of deep faith to believe that protecting individual rights and strengthening a small percentage of families will benefit the entire country. But it will.

During my visit to Africa, I learned much from Unitarian Universalist congregations and other religious communities in Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya. I was humbled by their commitment to addressing dire social problems—extreme poverty, gender inequity, epidemic diseases, and profound racial and ethnic discrimination. They understand that social problems and health problems are also economic problems, and that addressing one issue means tackling them all.

Against tremendous odds, and within just a few short years, South Africans dismantled apartheid, legalized same-sex marriages, and rebuilt their entire society, and they did so by radically reimagining every economic, political, legal, and moral component. Surely we Americans can confront an economic recession, end an unjust war abroad, and advance civil rights at home. We don’t have to choose peace and prosperity for the many at the expense of justice for the few. Instead, we have to understand that peace, prosperity, and justice are vitally interconnected.

You have my support and that of millions of justice-seeking Americans. With your leadership, we can be the country that finally lives up to its founding promise of equality for all.

Rev. William G. Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), was among those leaders invited to send a "Memo to Obama" by Tikkun Magazine for its January 2009 issue. He is also a member of Freedom to Marry's Voices of Equality.

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