A Preview of 2011’s Marriage Equality Fights

January 25, 2011 at 6:30 am 38 comments

By Matt Baume

A busy week for marriage equality all around the country, with new cracks appearing in the Defense of Marriage Act. Meanwhile, a slew of bills appeared this week in various states, both for and against marriage.

We’re starting to get a clearer picture of what marriage battles across the country are going to look like in 2011. It’s going to be a busy year. Keep an eye on Wyoming, Iowa, New York, New Hampshire, Maryland, and Washington DC.

And on a national level, a new lawsuit is challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. That’s Dragovich versus the U S Department of the Treasury, and it has a very good shot at overturning at least part of DOMA. The case advanced this week with a judge ruling that it should proceed.

What makes the Dragovich case different is the plaintiffs: three gay couples who work for the state. As public employees, they can’t access the same health coverage as straight couples because of DOMA, even though California considers them married.

DOMA’s days are clearly numbered, and even though Obama’s Justice Department is defending the marriage ban, they’re not defending it very hard. The Government’s argument is that DOMA provides federal uniformity in denying rights, which is true. But as Judge Claudia Wilken pointed out this week, that’s not a good enough reason to keep the law.

It’s important to note the arguments that Justice isn’t using. They’re not claiming that marriage needs to be “protected” from gay couples, which is the argument that conservatives usually use.

Conservatives like Michael Steele, who by the way is out of a job. The chair of the Republican National Committee was voted out this week, replaced by a man named Reince Priebus. Gay Republican group GOProud offered Priebus their congratulations, saying, “Today is a good day for conservatives and for the Republican Party.”

But it’s not a great day for gays. Look at what Priebus said an interview with the National Organization for Marriage last month:

“Marriage is an important issue because it’s a gift from God and the sanctity of marriage ought to be protected … I believe that the Defense of Marriage Act is important.”

It is important. Just don’t get too attached to it.

Turning to states, there was a flurry of activity all around the country this week.

Maryland Democrats introduced a marriage equality bill on Friday, [Adam: actually, it will be formally introduced today] with hearings scheduled for February first, and a full senate vote likely to happen before March. Keep your eyes out for a lobbying day in Annapolis on February 14.

In New York, Senator Thomas Duane announced plans to introduce marriage equality legislation this spring.

But in Iowa, Republicans have introduced a resolution that wouldn’t just eliminate marriage equality — it would get rid of civil unions and domestic partnerships, too.

That fight’s being led by the Iowa Family Policy Center. This is an organization that has compared gay couples to cigarette smoke, and promotes abusive ex-gay brainwashing therapy.

In Wyoming, they’re pushing a bill that would invalidate marriages performed in other states. That one just passed.

But there’s good news in DC, where this week the Supreme Court refused to consider whether the District’s marriage equality law should go before voters. NOM is promising to continue that fight, but at this point, the only avenues left open to them are long shots.

And in New Hampshire, Republicans appear to be putting the anti-gay rhetoric on hold this year. And that’s driving the National Organization for Marriage crazy. They sent out mailers this week, accusing Republicans of opposing family values.

So far, NOM’s pressure tactics have failed. But just in case, Courage Campaign and Granite State Progress are holding Camp Courage training sessions right now, so we’ll be ready if the situation changes.

So, between Maryland, New York, Iowa, Wyoming, DC, and New Hampshire, you’re pretty much guaranteed to know someone living in a marriage equality battleground state.

What are you going to do to get involved? Leave a comment, letting us know how you plan to reach out to friends and family on this issue. And then, go do it.

You can use Facebook to get friends and family involved, and it only takes a minute. Just post a link on their wall to some news coverage about their state, and ask them, “hey, did you hear about this?” That’s all you’ve got to do to get the conversation started.

Entry filed under: DOMA trials, Prop 8 trial, Right-wing, Videos.

On hominids, ad hominem: Enemy of our ring fingers says we hate rest of body One nice birthday present

38 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ed Cortes  |  January 25, 2011 at 6:37 am


    • 2. Straight For Equality  |  January 25, 2011 at 6:41 am


    • 3. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 8:02 am

      • 4. JonT  |  January 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm

  • 5. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 25, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Matt, you forgot about North Carolina. both houses of our legislature have been hijacked by the RepubliCANT party, and they have already stated that enacting a statewide DOMA is their #1 priority. So yes, I know someone who is in an equality battleground state. I know a lot of someones, not just myself and my husband.

  • 6. anonygrl  |  January 25, 2011 at 6:45 am

    How am *I* getting involved? Well, I live in NY. First off, I am planning to attend the Feb 8 event that Marriage Equality New York is running, where they are bussing people in from all over the state and lobbying legislators.

    I think I may also contact Thomas Duane and ask him directly if there is anything I can do to help.

    As to my family and friends, they are already all allies, which is great, and so are folks where I work, (and who are letting me have Feb 8 off)… so I am going to have to go after strangers to tell them about equality. :)

    And I am going to keep working on Feed Equality, and see what good we can accomplish there. All in all, I think it might be a busy year for me.

    • 7. Ronnie  |  January 25, 2011 at 8:50 am

      I don’t know anybody in any of those states except NY…& they are all working on this too….Yay…anoyngrl…Mom & I might be at the Feb. 8 event too….

      As for what else I am doing. I’m going to be working on my debut collection inspired by the struggle for Civil/Human Rights, Freedom & Equality. When the collection is ready to be debuted I hope to make the debut an Equality event….hopefully with guest speakers, maybe an auction to raise money for Equality, the Trevor Project, HIV/AIDS research, donations for Feed Equality, etc., etc. & next fall hopefully launch a website so that people can purchase my line with a portion of the proceeds going to charity….It is a huge task but I think I am up to it….

      When I move to NYC…I want to join an organization, see what is going on at the LGBT Community Center, & attend Queer Rising Meetings….Also I know there are somethings going on with Connection Rainbows so I’ll look into what I can do with them…..<3….Ronnie

      • 8. anonygrl  |  January 25, 2011 at 9:32 am

        Let’s actually LOOK for each other this time, Ronnie!!! Instead of just taking pics of each other and moving on.


        • 9. Ronnie  |  January 25, 2011 at 9:38 am

          lol…agreed… ; ) ….Ronnie

  • 10. Peterplumber  |  January 25, 2011 at 7:17 am


  • 11. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  January 25, 2011 at 7:52 am

    DOMA must go! subs

  • 12. Ann S.  |  January 25, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Matt, always great to see your videos!

    • 13. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  January 26, 2011 at 6:53 am

      !!!! : D

  • 14. Ronnie  |  January 25, 2011 at 8:17 am

    “But in Iowa, Republicans have introduced a resolution that wouldn’t just eliminate marriage equality — it would get rid of civil unions and domestic partnerships, too.”

    This is 100% unconstitutional & un-American on EVERY single level….with this they are threatening to TAKE EVERY SINGLE RIGHT AWAY from LGBT people other then being LGBT, working, housing, & (i’m sure this would be next) adoption/surrogacy……they are attacking & harming children…..they are attacking & harming tax paying American citizens who paid for those rights….they are attacking & harming families…all so they can turn this country into a unconstitutional “Christian” Dictatorship using the hard earned money of LGBT tax paying American Citizens to do it….This is NOT American…. > I ….Ronnie

  • 15. Sagesse  |  January 25, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Thanks for the weekly updates. There is so much going on, and things can move quickly… in either direction.

  • 16. Steven  |  January 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I found this info on CA Supreme Court’s website last night.. Both sides sent in letters yesterday…

    Docket (Register of Actions)

    Case Number S189476 Date Description Notes
    01/04/2011 Request to answer question of state law filed Information only: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

    01/04/2011 Received: Opinion, Concurrence to the Certification Order and Per Curiam Opinion, Memorandum Regarding Motion to Disqualify, Memorandum Re: Additional Counsel, Appellants’ Opening Brief, Brief of Respondents, Intervenor and Respondent, City and County of San Francisco Response Brief, Appellants’ Reply Brief, CD – of Oral Argument and Misc. Documents.

    01/24/2011 Received: Letter from Theodore B. Olson, counsel for Kristin M. Perry, Sandra B. Stier, Paul T. Katami, and Jeffrey J. Zarrillo opposing the request of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that this court answer a certified question of law.

    01/24/2011 Received: Letter from Damien M. Schiff, counsel for Ward Connerly, Glynn Custred, Ron Unz, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Pacific Legal Foundation requesting that this Court grant the request of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, filed on 1/4/11, to decide the certified issue.

    01/24/2011 Received: Letter from Charles J. Cooper, counsel for Dennis Hollingsworth, Gail J. Knight, Martin F. Gutierrez, Mark A. Jansson and ProtectMarriage.com supporting the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s 1/4/11 order certifying a question to this court.

    01/24/2011 Received: Letter from Therese M. Stewart, counsel for the City and County of San Francisco requesting this court reformulate the questions certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

    Click here to request automatic e-mail notifications about this case


    I believe we will hear something from CSC within next couple weeks or so..

    • 17. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 9:55 am

      I’m signed up for the notification on this case but didn’t receive notice of these docket entries. Anyone else?

      BTW, though it shows a docket entry from 1/4, this item was not on the website as of late yesterday afternoon.

      I’ve already posted a link to the letter from Therese Stewart. Here it is again.

      I’ll try to get the others

      • 18. Peterplumber  |  January 25, 2011 at 9:58 am

        We got the Stewart letter because it was also sent to the 9th CA. I didn’t see any place on the CA SC web site to get a sopy of the other doc’s.
        I hope you have better luck!

        • 19. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

          There is no way to obtain documents online from the California court system.

          However, I signed up for email notification of docket updates, but did not receive a notice. Is there anyone else who signed up for notification at the California Supreme Court site prior to this update? If so, did you receive a notice?

          • 20. bJason  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:19 am

            I wonder if AmFER has a copy of the Olsen letter. I am looking on their web site now but don’t see it, yet.

          • 21. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:26 am

            Everyone relax… It will take a little while to get them into my hands, but they will be here. :)

  • 22. fiona64  |  January 25, 2011 at 9:50 am

    “What are you going to do to get involved? Leave a comment, letting us know how you plan to reach out to friends and family on this issue. And then, go do it.”

    How about: the same thing I have been doing for well over a decade now. Talking to people 1:1 about the matter. Explaining why marriage equality and other GLBT issues matter to me as a straight, married person. Posting information on FB and Twitter pertinent to the issues.

    (I guess I’m kind of annoyed at the tone that implies people are doing nothing if it isn’t readily visible.)

    Fiona (who is cranky today because of imbeciles at work)

    • 23. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:06 am

      thanks for decade of efforts! ((HUGS)) and kudos from Gregory!

      • 24. fiona64  |  January 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm

        Thanks, Gregory and Mark.

        BTW, Gregory … still enjoying the book?

        I hope so. :-)


    • 25. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  January 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      I agree with you Fiona….tone does seem rather harsh

  • 26. Ronnie  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Oprah Commemorates 25 Years of LGBT Stories

    On today’s episode of Oprah….the talk show host who has been a household name for, well the majority of my life at least, will reflect back & commemorate the 25years of LGBT stories that took place on her show….from Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis to the world’s only openly gay Prince, Prince Gohil of India…..The theme of the episode is….”Coming Out” On The “Oprah” Show: 25 Years Of Unforgettable Guests”…..both Greg Louganis & Prince Gohil return to the Oprah Show for the shows final season to give us an update on their courageous lives & stories…..towleroad.com is reporting that this 25 years of LGBT stories includes more the 120 shows…..

    set your DVR’s, Tivo’s, etc., etc………<3….Ronnie

    • 27. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:36 am

      thank for fyi! Did you see the Elton John baby announcement? So glad LGBT persons being recognized and celebrated! ps. I can’t get Pink’s video out of my mind as relates to a dear teenage girl in my life…very powerful!

      • 28. Ronnie  |  January 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

        You’re welcome…yes I did see Elton’s announcement…Their baby is so small & adorable…I’m jealous..lol…Pink’s new video is powerful & the song has made it onto my favs list….<3…Ronnie

        • 29. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  January 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm

          I never heard about the Pink video until you posted and appreciated it much! p.s. I watch/read all the things you post , just don’t always comment : )

          • 30. Ronnie  |  January 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm

            I’m glad you appreciated it…..no worries about always commenting…but thank you….<3…Ronnie

  • 31. Rhie  |  January 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    This is gonna get interesting really quickly

  • 32. Ronnie  |  January 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    NC: Asheville clergy ask City Council for full equality for all Asheville citizens
    by: Pam Spaulding
    Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 12:52:59 PM EST

    “More than twenty-five local faith leaders from a variety of traditions gathered on the front steps of the First Congregational United Church of Christ to release a Resolution in Support of Full Equality for All Asheville Citizens.”

    “People of Faith for Just Relationships spokesperson, the Rev. Joe Hoffman, explained, “The Resolution’s purpose is to stimulate Asheville and City Council to take a leadership role in a statewide effort to recognize the need for equal civil rights, employment rights, and family rights and protection from bullying for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) citizens.”

    “The Resolution commits City Council to four specific actions including “extending the City’s employment non-discrimination clause to include sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity or expression.” It also calls for enacting an anti-bullying ordinance for all City institutions and grounds; creating a Domestic Partner Registry to recognize same gender relationships for rights in regard to assisted living facilities, funeral rights, health care fights, and others; and endorsing and supporting the rights of same gender couples to share fully and equally in the familial rights, responsibilities and commitments of civil marriage.”

    “Rabbi Batsheva Meiri of Congregation Beth Ha Te-Phila said, “The Resolution praises the welcoming atmosphere in Asheville, notes the fact that Asheville has the 5th highest concentration of same-sex couples among medium-sized cities, and points Asheville’s 600-plus same-sex couples, many raising children. These families deserve full equality and all the legal rights other families receive.”

    “Today over 45 area faith leaders brought forward a resolution calling for equality for our LGBT citizens. Visit NC Commit to learn more and add your name to the list of supporters. Thank you to the faith, business, and community leaders who are showing us the way.” ~Gordon Smith, member of Asheville’s City Council

    (me) What was that NOM?..What was that Brian Brown?..What was that Maggie Gallagher?..What was that FRC, FotF, afa, etc. etc. etc.?……Honesty, what was that you said about “Religious Freedom”, “Freedom of Religion & the free exercise thereof”?……You, NOM etc. etc. are violating the first amendment rights of these religious leaders, congregations, denominations, individuals, & houses of worship who are standing up for & support 100% Equality for LGBT people…while yelling “Christian persecution & religious violation”…..but it is perfectly fine for you to do it to others that don’t fall lock-in-step with your Theocratic Homophobic Heterosexist Supremacy…… hmmmmmm….SHENANIGANS!!!!….. : I ….Ronnie

  • 33. 415kathleenk  |  January 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    i have a really good friend in NH- already married in CA. I haven’t asked him what he is doing but if necessary he will do something.

    One thing i wanted to point out. IF NOM cannot depend on Republicans to push their hateful agenda, where do they go? The answer keeps coming back- nowhere. Not a good move- criticizing GOP politicians for lack of family values just becaus…

  • 34. Straight Ally #3008  |  January 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    And Rhode Island, no? That might have the best chance of getting added to the “win” column.

  • 35. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  January 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    “What are you going to do to get involved? Leave a comment, letting us know how you plan to reach out to friends and family on this issue. And then, go do it.”

    1: Continue to live my life as an out and proud gay man in a loving committed relationship….raising our family and contributing to society.
    2: Continue to have face to face one on one conversations as the need and opportunity arises, in order to dispel any and all falsehoods that I can.
    3: Confront the ‘enemy’ when I can

    Hope that’s good enough….it’s all I have and all I can do

    • 36. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  January 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      : D !!

  • 37. Ron  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    don’t forget New Mexico. A DOMA bill was just introduced. While this happens every year, this is the first year we have more Republicans and more conservative Republicans and a Republican governor. We need help here just to avoid a DOMA bill as 31 other states already have.

  • 38. grod  |  January 26, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Olsen asked California Supreme Court to reject 9th District Appeal Courts’ request for clarification.



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