Gays decry Obama’s stand on marriage equality case

The Associated Press
June 12, 2009
Gay rights groups expressed dismay with the Obama administration Friday over its championing of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law the president pledged to try to repeal while on the campaign trail. The government filed a motion late Thursday to dismiss the case of Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, who are challenging the 1996 federal act. The law prevents couples in states that recognize same-sex unions from securing Social Security spousal benefits, filing joint taxes and other federal rights of marriage. "The president made very explicit and emphatic campaign promises that he opposes DOMA and would provide leadership calling on Congress to repeal it," said Jennifer Pizer, marriage project director for Lambda Legal. "This brief is not consistent with that promise." [Link]

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The Choice to Defend DOMA, and Its Consequences

America Blog
June 14, 2009
Richard Socarides, a former Hill staffer and top aide to President Clinton, weighs in on whether or not President Obama's Department of Justice had a choice to file a brief supporting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):
From my experience, in a case where, as here, there are important political and social issues at stake, the president’s relationship with the Justice Department should work like this: The president makes a policy decision first and then the very talented DOJ lawyers figure out how to apply it to actual cases. If the lawyers cannot figure out how to defend a statute and stay consistent with the president’s policy decision, the policy decision should always win out.

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American Gays and Lesbians Feel Betrayed by Obama

Spiegel Online
June 12, 2009
"This is a civil rights moment," Evan Wolfson, executive director of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, told Frank Rich, the New York Times' openly gay star columnist. "And Obama has not yet risen to it." Wolfson compares the situation with 1963, when the black civil rights movement was stagnating. The breakthrough, he said, only came when President Lyndon B. Johnson was galvanized into action. The Democrats lack "a towering national figure to make the moral case" for full gay civil rights, Wolfson said, and Obama hasn't shown any signs so far of wanting to follow Johnson's example. [Link]

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Commentary: Obama absent on marriage equality

CNN International
June 10, 2009
William Jelani Cobb is associate professor of history at Spelman College and author of the forthcoming "Change Has Come: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Progress."

Last week Gov. John Lynch signed a bill making New Hampshire the sixth state to legalize marriage equality. It was a paradoxical moment. The new law is a reminder that freedom to marry is the civil rights issue of our era and just how far the movement for marriage equality has come. It also highlighted the unexpected and remarkable silence from the White House on this issue. [Link]

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Obama nominates Sotomayor to Supreme Court

Bay Windows
May 26, 2009

"From everything I know, Judge Sotomayor is an outstanding choice -- fair and aware, open and judicious," said Evan Wolfson. "I believe she has the demonstrated commitment to principles of equal protection and inclusion that defines a good nominee to the Supreme Court. In choosing Judge Sotomayor, the first Latino candidate for the Supreme Court, President Obama has made a strong and appealing nomination that should and will receive the supportof those committed to equality for lesbians and gay men." [Link]

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State Dept. Plan Would Extend Benefits to Same Sex Partners

Washington Post
May 24, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will soon announce that the partners of gay U.S. diplomats are eligible for many benefits currently denied them and allowed to spouses of heterosexual diplomats, according to lawmakers and others advocating the change. [link]

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How Obama Set the Tone for a Quiet Revolution in Gay Rights

The Guardian
May 24, 2009
With two lesbians shortlisted for America's supreme court and more than 30 gay men and lesbians appointed to senior posts by the president, the US is witnessing an unprecedented cultural change that is reshaping politics, media, and popular culture. The most visible sign is the flurry of states legalising the freedom to marry. As Massachusetts celebrated five years of marriage for gay couples this year, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and Iowa came on board. New Hampshire is on the verge, as is New York. [link]

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La Cage aux Democrats

New York Times
Op-Ed by Frank Rich
May 23, 2009
Evan Wolfson reminds us in his book “Why Marriage Matters,” Dr. King addressed political dawdling on civil rights in 1963. “For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait,’ ” King wrote. “It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ ” The gay civil rights movement and specifically the movement for the freedom to marry has fewer obstacles in its path than did Dr. King’s Herculean mission to overthrow the singular legacy of slavery. That makes it all the more shameful that it has fewer courageous allies in Washington than King did. If “American Idol” can sing out for change on Fox in prime time, it ill becomes Obama, of all presidents, to remain mute in the White House. [link]

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White House Affirms Support for DOMA Repeal

Washington Blade
May 21, 2009
The White House on Wednesday issued a statement reiterating President Obama's support for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. "DOMA is a federal law passed by Congress that precludes uniform federal recognition of same-sex relationships, even those recognized as valid under the law of the state," the statement says. "Because the President believes that this is an issue that should be left to the states, he continues to support the legislative repeal of DOMA." [link]

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