One nice birthday present

January 25, 2011 at 10:00 am 64 comments

By Adam Bink

This year, tonight’s State of the Union falls on my birthday, so I won’t be live-blogging as I usually do (though we will have a dedicated thread later), but I do have some thoughts on this year’s address as I reflect upon a post I wrote last year.

At the time, many of us were waiting to see what he would say on repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, if anything. I wrote at the time over at my blog a post titled “Hey, let’s lower some expectations!”:

If you know anything about State of the Union speeches (or learned everything about them from watching The West Wing), you know everyone wants to get their issue mentioned in it, and if they do, that’s A Very Big Deal.

The President: “And we need to make sure we do X!”

Advocates for X: “Yay!” pat each other on the back

Then much of the time, little or nothing gets done on X.

This morning, CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller wrote on Twitter:

On DADT, he’s expected to call for gays to serve openly in the military.A friend of mine, and no doubt lots of others, retweeted it as if it was A Very Big Deal. In truth, it’s not, my friends. If my issue were, say, Electoral College reform, it would be A Very Big Deal. It would elevate attention dramatically, help me fundraise, etc. But on this issue, what is this, 2007? Obama calling for gays to serve openly in the military is nothing new, despite the forum. He, along with his press aides, have called for this over and over. What we need is action.

The President needs to do more than call for gays to serve openly. He needs to announce he will insert repeal language in the defense authorization bill he will submit to Congress in the next few months. Then, he needs to actually go out and round up the votes like he’s doing on health care. Nothing less will suffice. If he does use the bully pulpit tonight as part of that case, great. That is part of it. But everyone should understand there’s a difference between reiterating a policy commitment he made years ago, and announcing he will take action, then going out and doing it. If he does not do this, it will be a lot harder to pass repeal, and if he pushes it off until after we lose seats in the midterms, we may not have a chance at all.

You will tell how serious the President is about repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell not by a bland, fleeting mention, but by what he does to go out and get it done, and that needs to start tonight.

I expect this year to focus on the economy, deficit reduction, and health care reform primarily, but perhaps he’ll mention an issue of importance to the LGBT community. So what would I like to see? More than just a cursory mention.

More than just a mention of the topic, I’d like to see commitment to certification and implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal with a target date in mind. He should not just mention his commitment to equality, he should stop his Administration’s appeals in DOMA and DADT lawsuits. Perhaps most of all, he should not just mention his commitment to fairness, he should announce his support for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, and his commitment to changing hearts and minds.

President Obama has followed through on many of his promises- and trailed off on others. If he takes these steps, he will reinvigorate the enthusiasm many of us felt around his candidacy several years ago. I’m not alone in saying it’s hard to feel “fired up and ready to go” for someone who doesn’t support one’s freedom to marry.

And it would also make one nice birthday present.

Entry filed under: Community/Meta.

A Preview of 2011’s Marriage Equality Fights P8TT State of the Union thread

64 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:02 am

    • 2. Ann S.  |  January 25, 2011 at 11:14 am

      • 3. JonT  |  January 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm

        • 4. Ed Cortes  |  January 26, 2011 at 7:59 am


  • 5. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Actually Adam, while I would like to see a final resolution on the DADT and DOMA lawsuits, I don’t think that dropping the appeals is a wise thing to do right now. IN order for these decisions to become binding precedent for at least the federal circuit they are in, they have to go to the appeals and we have to win. And the higher up the chain they go with higher rulings of unconstitutionality, the more people are then able to benefit.

    • 6. adambink  |  January 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      There are some different schools of thought around this, in the same way that there around the Perry case going to the SCOTUS or not.

  • 7. Peterplumber  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:05 am


  • 8. bJason  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Happy Birthday, Adam!

    • 9. Straight For Equality  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:58 am

      Let me add my “Happy Birthday, Adam!” to bJason’s.

      • 10. adambink  |  January 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm


  • 11. AB  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

    In a January 4 conference call with reporters, Ted Olson said something interesting. Bob Egelko asked if the Olson-Boies legal team would file within the California Supreme Court.
    “We will accept any opportunity that the rules of the California Supreme Court provide us. And the court rules allow us to provide a response within twenty days of the certification request by the ninth circuit.”
    It has been twenty days since the request for certification, and I have not heard of any filings. What is the word on this?

    P.S. Happy birthday!

    • 12. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:12 am

      They apparently filed letter yesterday, along with several other people. So far, I’ve only obtained a copy of the letter from Therese Stewart on behalf of City and County of Los Angeles. I’m working on getting the others.

      • 13. Peterplumber  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:13 am

        Kathleen, if you need help with that, you know who to call….


        • 14. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:20 am

          Thanks, Peter. This isn’t something you can help with. But thank you.

          • 15. AB  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:24 am

            I have had PACER for a while (I did an article on content analysis of the trial transcripts and amicus curiae briefs). I tend not to use it because it is insanely expensive, but I could make an exception. Would the letter perhaps be on there?

          • 16. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:28 am

            My PACER account is how you’ve all been getting the Perry fillings all these many months. :) These aren’t available on PACER; that is only for the federal court system.

            Relax, everyone. These will be in my hands soon and I’ll get them to you asap.

          • 17. AB  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:30 am

            I had figured that was the case. That is very expensive Kathleen! If you want someone to help you post documents and absorb some of the cost, then let me know. You shouldn’t have to shoulder that burden alone.

          • 18. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

            That’s very kind of you, AB, and I’ll certainly keep that in mind. But for now at least, it’s just simpler to keep it going through one source. As you can see from this exchange, people get VERY antsy about not getting access to documents IMMEDIATELY!!! LOL. And one more person in the connection will just slow things down.

            Peterplumber has very kindly stepped forward to handle the documents in the DOMA cases from Massachusetts, which has been a huge help. Things only started getting really over the top when I started covering more than just the Perry case.

            A long time ago, I made the decision that this is my contribution to the cause.

    • 19. Peterplumber  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:12 am

      Olsen HAS written his letter. Others have as well. But we do not have copies (as yet). There is a copy of the letter from San Francisco County on Scribd.

  • 20. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

    UPDATE Perry Case:

    Letters from several parties to the California Supreme Court:



    Pacific Legal Foundation

    And in case you missed it yesterday, the one from Therese Stewart:

    • 21. AB  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:59 am

      As always, you are incredible! Thank you so much Kathleen.

    • 22. anonygrl  |  January 25, 2011 at 11:08 am

      Just read Olson’s letter. As usual, it is clear, concise, and easy to read.

      He says that the CASC has no business answering the two questions put forth, and is clear about why. The first question has to do with whether the proponents meet Article III standing (that is, do they suffer particularized harm in this case) which he says is NOT a state issue, and must be determined by the Federal court.

      The second question addresses whether initiators of ballot issues have standing in cases where the state refuses to defend. Olson says this has been adequately answered already by the California courts, and sites many cases where the answer is no, they do not.

      Given that the first question should be answered at the Federal, not state level, and the second has already been answered repeatedly, Olson says that CASC should refuse to get involved.

      I am at work… someone else is going to have to do summaries of other letters. :)

    • 23. AB  |  January 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

      I owe some of the law students a round of drinks. I had bet that Olson would support accepting the request, perhaps with revisions (like San Fancisco did).
      That came as a bit of a surprise to me.

      • 24. anonygrl  |  January 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

        I can see why he would not. In his letter, he says that if CASC takes up the questions, it only adds time to the calendar, and his clients are harmed further by delays. I think his position is that it is clear that the propnents do NOT have standing, and he feels that the 9th Circuit will rule that way if CASC does not answer the questions, so let us just get on with it.

    • 25. Kate  |  January 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      Therese Stewart; ah, be still my heart………

    • 27. bJason  |  January 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      My take on Cooper’s Letter

      All quotes are from the Cooper letter unless otherwise indicated.

      First and foremost, Cooper’s letter is a thinly veiled threat to the CaSC. He prefaces his conclusion with:
      “The people of California are entitled to a clear answer to the certified question. If initiative proponents do have the authority to defend in court the measures they successfully sponsor – as this Court’s cases suggest – the people can rest secure in the knowledge that their exercise of their power of initiative will be vigorously defended if the State’s elected officials decline to do so. A clear answer that initiative proponents lack such authority, on the other hand, will put the people on notice that they may need to take additional action to secure the effective defense of initiatives from legal attack.”

      He says that standing in this case “rises or falls” on whether California law grants Initiative Proponents a specific and particularized interest in their ballot initiatives beyond that of the general public. While Article III standing is a federal question, the “necessary predicates” for standing may turn on state law -says he. He rightly claims that a state has interests in enforcing ts own laws and thus has standing to defend. But he then forwards that a litigant seeking to act on behalf of the state in defense of its laws “must have the authority under State law to do so”.

      Cooper argues that because SCOTUS in Karcher v. May, 484 U.S. 72 (1987) granted legislators the right to defend/intervene a ballot initiative, CaSC should affirm that proponents be granted same. He doesn’t distinguish (as Olsen did in his letter) that in Karcher, defendants were elected legislators acting in their official capacity and not members of the public. Nor does he take into account that SCOTUS (in Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43, 66 (1997)) “distinguished Karcher on the ground that ballot initiative sponsors ‘are not elected representatives.’” (Olsen Letter) In fact, Cooper seems to ignore Arizonans in his letter altogether.

      He then cites Diamond v. Charles, 476 U.S. 54, 62 (1986) to say that state law may “create new interests, the invasion of which may confer standing.” At this point he cites the Strauss case as one that directly points to the type of case that SCOTUS “looked to” in Karcher to grant standing (again, not distinguishing that Karcher’s defendants were duly elected legislators given the power to defend under state law).

      At this point, Cooper goes through several cases where CaSC has said that proponents can defend their initiatives (in STATE court) and that their interests are not “extinguished by [the] initiative’s enactment into law”.

      He then steps on his own feet by declaring that society as a whole has an interest in marriage as an institution (though he has been arguing that proponent’s interest is what is important), Prop 8’s validity should not rest on the lower court’s decision but it will unless CaSC dreams up standing for proponents (which the 9th Circuit will blindly accept).

      Finally, he ends with the fact that this issue goes to the heart of the initiative process itself and that sponsors should have standing to defend them when the actual, elected and duly appointed representatives of the state won’t. I do dislike here that he could grab something from the 9th Circuit proceeding “surely State officials who are not permitted to veto or reverse an initiative directly should not be able to achieve the same result indirectly by refusing to defend that initiative in court.” Oh well, score ONE for him.

      • 28. Sagesse  |  January 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm

        It seems to me CA can’t have it both ways.

        If it permits any law, including an amendment to the state constitution, good or bad, to be enacted based on gathering enough signatures and a simple majority… it has to expect that the courts will find some measures unconstitutional, and that’s perhaps the most important role for the courts to have in the process. And state officials don’t have to accept and defend poorly conceived laws just because they’re the ‘will of the people’.

        • 29. Ann S.  |  January 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

          state officials don’t have to accept and defend poorly conceived laws just because they’re the ‘will of the people’.

          Actually, I think they do have to, much as I hate some of those laws. It’s the process we have (much as I also hate the process).

          As far as I know, the only exception is when they believe the initiative to be unconstitutional.

      • 30. Ray in MA  |  January 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm

        Great analysis bJ…your efforts are recognized.

      • 31. anonygrl  |  January 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm

        I thought that final question from the 9th Circuit was more of an opportunity that Olson missed to answer “That is not at all the case. At issue here is the Constitutionality of an initiative, which is not a decision that State legistlative officials make the final decision about at any point. This is, and always has been, an issue best decided by the courts, which is why we BROUGHT it before the court. That is why we HAVE these courts.”

        Additionally, states have NEVER been required to defend every initiative that is challenged in court. To suddenly say that they ARE required to do so places a hugely unnecessary and unfair burden on the state.

        The initiative process in California allows for voters, by means of a simple majority, to pass a whole LOT of ridiculous legislation, and voters are (as amply demonstrated in this case) NOT Constitutional lawyers, and mostly don’t KNOW that what they are voting for is not constitutional (as Prop 8 is not). If the state were required to defend every crackpot scheme the voters enacted, there would be no time to do any actual, important work.

        • 32. Peterplumber  |  January 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm

          California allows for voters, by means of a simple majority, to pass a whole LOT of ridiculous legislation, and voters are (as amply demonstrated in this case) NOT Constitutional lawyers, and mostly don’t KNOW that what they are voting for

          I am new to California. I came here from Washington State. At election time 2010, I asked a few people at work how I should vote on some of the Prop’s and Ref’s on the ballot. They all told me to “just vote NO on everything”.

          While in Washington, I was involved in the Referendum 71 process. The proponents who got R-71 on the ballot must have known about this “just vote no” mentality, because they twisted the question around so a NO vote was in their favor. I wasn’t here to vote on Prop 8 so I don’t know how it was worded.

          • 33. Ann S.  |  January 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm

            Peter, as a veteran of the “No on 8” campaign I can tell you that you needed to vote “no” to retain marriage equality.

            This was thought to have created some confusion, but I think it was inevitable — we had marriage equality, and the proposition was to take it away. “No” would be to retain the status quo.

            We didn’t put the initiative on the ballot, obviously, so we were unable to get the “yes” side.

  • 34. Jon  |  January 25, 2011 at 10:54 am


    In advocating for tobacco control, you learn that lots of politicians will tell you “oh yeah I’m totally for that!”

    Then when it comes time to get that smokefree workplace, they’re nowhere to be found.

    Talk is cheap.

  • 35. Karen Ocamb  |  January 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Happy Birthday, Adam. Thanks for all your great work!

    • 36. adambink  |  January 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks Karen!

  • 37. Sagesse  |  January 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    In the spirit of saying it, meaning it and acting on it, ENDA could be possible in 2011, signed, sealed and delivered. On top of DADT certification, of course.

  • 38. Peterplumber  |  January 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    UPDATE Mass DOMA cases
    Amicus Brief by American College of Pediatricians in support of Defendants-Appellants (for reversal)

    • 39. anonygrl  |  January 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      The American College of Pediatricians

      a) has been widely discredited as a conservative group more concerned with religion than medicine

      b) lies flat out in their brief when they claim that there have been no studies on the affects of same sex parenting on children.

    • 40. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      Yes, I should remind everyone who they are:

      • 41. anonygrl  |  January 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm

        Kathleen, once again you are right there with the info, on the spot! If I ever win the lottery and need an executive to run my empire, it will be you, babe! LOVE YOU LOTS!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

  • 42. Rhie  |  January 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Gonna watch with interest

  • 43. Ronnie  |  January 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Happy B-day Adam….<3…Ronnie

  • 44. Manilow  |  January 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Adam – Happy Birthday!!!

    I sent a tweet to President Obama asking to see my fierce advocate tonight. It felt like a passive agressive post-break-up thing to do, but whatever. Barack, it’s not me – it’s you.

    • 45. Manilow  |  January 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      I meant “aggressive.” ugh. my college loans weep with every misspelling.

  • 46. Mackenzie  |  January 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    happy birthday!!!!!

  • 47. Ronnie  |  January 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    True Romance: Fifty years together, lived out loud
    By KATHLEEN GREEN / Special Contributor
    Published 23 January 2011 10:11 AM

    Jack (now 80yo) & George (now 77yo) are celebrating their 50th anniversary together as a couple. They met each other in 1961:

    “We work together and live together, which creates its own challenges. Relationships are difficult because we’re all different people, but it’s what you want and what you want out of life. It takes commitment and you have to care.”~ George

    (me) enjoy the rest of their story….they briefly talk about what it was like in the 50’s & 60’s, their experiences in the present day, what they plan to do with the rest of their lives together, & their relationship dynamic….A courageous couple with the odds against them for the majority of their relationship together to this date reaching the 50th anniversary…. AMAZING!!!!….congratulations to Jack & George…..(www hugs) …….<3….Ronnie

  • 48. Ed  |  January 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Good luck with that! You know that whatever happens, the LGBT community won’t go to rest before we are granted full equality under the law. Besides, it’s far from a done deal yet.
    TC Matthews
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Equal… you mean like we are now? You have every right I have Ann.
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    why do you block comments, nom?

    Post a Comment

    More evidence that they censor their site….(I am posting as Frank)

    • 49. Ed  |  January 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      and not 5 min later…..

      Posted January 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Good luck with that! You know that whatever happens, the LGBT community won’t go to rest before we are granted full equality under the law. Besides, it’s far from a done deal yet.
      TC Matthews
      Posted January 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Equal… you mean like we are now? You have every right I have Ann.

      Post a Comment

    • 50. Maggie4NoH8  |  January 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      That’s nothing… I can’t even post a comment to await moderation!

      • 51. Peterplumber  |  January 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm

        Yeah, my comments just go POOF into thin air. Now and then, tho, one makes it thru.

  • 52. Kate  |  January 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Yo, Kathleeen:

    In my long-standing ignorance, it never occurred to me that you’d be facing expenses doing all the legal work you do for us here. I guess I just figured the courts and such sent you all that stuff to post on Scribd ‘cuz you’re KATHLEEN, fer-crissake. So, late though it is, please let me know how I can send you a donation to help ease some of these costs for you.

    • 53. Kathleen  |  January 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks, Kate. But it’s not necessary.

      And EVERYONE – please, I appreciate the concern, but I’m regretting letting this discussion of costs get public here. I’m FINE! (but appreciate everyone’s offers to help).

      • 54. nightshayde  |  January 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm

        I’m sure that if there were a PayPal account set up to help with the expenses, you’d get lots of contributions.

        I’m just sayin’…

        (from the person who, just like you, declined financial help with bouquets)

        • 55. Kate  |  January 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

          And I still want to be allowed to contribute to both causes!!!

        • 56. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm

          Yes, and nightshayde, your bouquet idea has given me an idea that I want to do when NC finally joins the human race and grants full equality. I am going to begin building up a selection of different Scentsy warmers and some of our scent bars as a wedding gift. Just a little something that will let them know someone wants them to be happy and share a long life together.

          • 57. nightshayde  |  January 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm

            I love it!

          • 58. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm

            Yes, and I like the safety of the warmers. Less chance of fire, and the house always smells so nice. Click on my name and leave a comment at the blog, and I will email you the link to my page on the Scentsy site. I think you will like our warmers and scents.

      • 59. anonygrl  |  January 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm

        Kathleen, you and nightshayde KNOW that we offer to help financially not because we think you are in desperate need, but that we want to show our great appreciation for all you do!

        It is because we love you!

        • 60. Kathleen  |  January 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm

          I know. And I feel the love. :)

          Anyone who would donate toward my pacer bill, can make that donation to Courage Campaign in my honor… and besides, then it’s tax deductible for you. :)

  • 61. Peterplumber  |  January 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    UPDATE – Mass Doma cases
    Amicus Brief submitted by the States of Indiana, Colorado, Michigan, South Carolina and Utah in support of reversal of the district court decision.

    • 62. JonT  |  January 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      Disappointing to see our right-wing atty general (Suthers) supporting DOMA, but not surprising I guess.

  • 63. Chris in Lathrop  |  January 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Happy birthday, Adam! I, too, hope it’s a SotU address worth being excited over.

  • 64. adambink  |  January 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks all for the friendly birthday notes. Appreciate it!


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