Other Prop 8 briefs this week

By Adam Bink

A few briefs this week submitted that I haven’t had a chance to cover:

From the Pacific Justice Institute on behalf of Rev. Joshua Beckley, arguing over the issue of standing:

View this document on Scribd

Judicial Watch, over the same issue:

View this document on Scribd

And a great brief submitted by Equality California, NCLR, and Lambda Legal, which can be found here (PDF):

2011-05-02 EQCA, NCLR, Lambda Legal Amicus Brief

May 6, 2011 at 11:11 am 19 comments

Attorney General Holder steps into immigration case of bi-national same-sex couple

By Adam Bink

Some big news today from the Attorney General’s office regarding the forced separation of same-sex couples:

Attorney General Eric Holder today filed a very rare decision, vacating a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals related to the application of Paul Wilson Dorman, in which the BIA applied Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to a pending case.

Holder’s decision:

In the exercise of my review authority under that regulation, and upon consideration of the record in this case, I direct that the order of the Board be vacated and that this matter be remanded to the Board to make such findings as may be necessary to determine whether and how the constitutionality of DOMA is presented in this case, including, but not limited to: 1) whether respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union qualifies him to be considered a “spouse” under New Jersey law; 2) whether, absent the requirements of DOMA, respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union would qualify him to be considered a “spouse” under the Immigration and Nationality Act; 3) what, if any, impact the timing of respondent’s civil union should have on his request for that discretionary relief; and 4) whether, if he had a “qualifying relative,” the respondent would be able to satisfy the exceptional and unusual hardship requirement for cancellation of removal.

Dorman entered a civil union in New Jersey with his male partner.

I got off the phone with Lavi Soloway, the attorney for Henry and Josh, who are set to face the final deportation hearing tomorrow. Lavi said:

What this shows is the executive branch has the necessary authority to protect bi-national couples from being torn apart, but its willing to do that, and so it’s looking for ways. What we’re looking for is a moratorium. This is not that. This is the Attorney General looking into one case and seeing what can be done, which can be applauded. What we need to do is explore that… what this does is showing the executive branch wants to find a solution to this problem. This development could be a sign that the Obama administration is looking for a way to protect gay and lesbian bi-national couples who are currently barred from the regular marriage-based immigration process by the Defense of Marriage Act.

This is proof that the pressure has an impact.

If you’re in the NYC/northern NJ area, please consider joining a hundred supporters of theirs for a rally outside the courthouse before the hearing tomorrow, along with nine organizations including Courage Campaign. Details:

WHERE:
Department of Homeland Security
Newark Immigration Court
Peter Rodino Federal Building
970 Broad Street
Newark, NJ
WHEN:  FRIDAY MAY 6 at 11 a.m.

RSVP on Facebook.

May 5, 2011 at 6:23 pm 52 comments

Sen. Sherrod Brown to support DOMA repeal; 1 of 2 former House members to vote against DOMA

By Adam Bink

Today, we got word, confirmed by Senate sources, that Sen. Sherrod Brown will co-sponsor Sen. Feinstein’s legislation, the “Respect for Marriage Act”, to repeal DOMA. A longtime supporter of LGBT equality, Sen. Brown is one of two Senators who voted against DOMA while serving in the House of Representatives in 1996, the other being Sen. Bernie Sanders (and one of just eight Senators serving currently who voted against DOMA in 1996).

Sen. Brown’s decision brings the number of co-sponsors to 22, plus the support of Sen. Klobuchar, who confirmed to the Washington Blade that she will support repeal.

The list of co-sponsors is now as follows:

Sen. Akaka (HI)

Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT)

Sen. Boxer (D-CA)

Sen. Brown (D-OH)

Sen. Cantwell (D-WA)

Sen. Coons (D-DE)

Sen. Durbin (D-IL)

Sen. Franken (D-MN)

Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY)

Sen. Harkin (D-IA)

Sen. Inouye (D-HI)

Sen. Kerry (D-MA)

Sen. Kohl (D-WI)

Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Sen. Leahy (D-VT)

Sen. Merkley (D-OR)

Sen. Murray (D-WA)

Sen. Schumer (D-NY)

Sen. Shaheen (D-NH)

Sen. Udall (D-CO)

Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI)

Sen. Wyden (D-OR)

May 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm 43 comments

Morning equality round-up, May 5th, 2011

By Adam Bink

Around and about:

  • We’re in the final steps of the first phase for an upgrade to Prop8TrialTracker. Some new features I think you’ll like. I’ll be announcing them likely later today or tomorrow.
  • Bill Clinton, New Yorker by way of Arkansas and the White House, endorses same-sex marriage in a statement released today. Clinton did this a few years ago in a more roundabout “I think states should have the right to do what they want to do”, but this is better.
  • The rally to defend against the deportation of Henry and Josh is now rescheduled for tomorrow morning at 11 AM, Friday the 6th, in Newark. Details can be found here on Facebook. If you can attend, please do. We’ll have some exciting speakers. This may be our last shot as his final deportation hearing is at the same time.

More from Joe Sudbay on why it’s so important for the Administration to get it together on this one.

  • Are you one of the 32,010 people who follow Courage Campaign on Facebook? We often publicize a lot of important LGBT news and actions. Follow us here.
  • P8TT friend Karen Ocamb has an interview with the highest-ranking lesbian in the White House, Nancy Sutley.
  • Country music star and “The Voice” host Blake Shelton, homophobe. And this is the same guy who, last month, was insinuating Gyllenhaal had broken up with country star Taylor Swift because he was gay. Get some class, jerk.
  • Opening night for “The Normal Heart” on Broadway. I have plans in the next few weeks to go and see this. I’ve heard rave reviews all around.
  • Happy Cinco de Mayo! What are you reading?

May 5, 2011 at 8:45 am 26 comments

Fit to rule on Prop 8

By Adam Bink

I linked to it in yesterday morning’s roundup, but it’s worth noting the following paragraphs of Tuesday’s NYTimes editorial:

The claim is bogus. It is well established that personal characteristics, like race, sex, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, do not by themselves invoke the rule that judges must step aside if their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

Our justice system relies on trusting members of the nation’s diverse bench to put aside their personal characteristics and abide by their duty of even-handedness. Any other approach would invite foolish and unacceptable results — female judges being kept from hearing rape or sexual discrimination cases, or black judges from hearing cases involving racial bias or civil rights.

Indeed, following the open-ended logic of Proposition 8’s lawyers, it is hard to think who, if anyone, is qualified to rule on this case. Certainly not wedded heterosexual judges whose marriages stand to be somehow diminished, according to the antimarriage crowd, if Judge Walker’s ruling survives appeal in federal circuit court.

Some ethics experts say the ruling might have triggered credible conflict-of-interest concerns if Judge Walker were intending to marry in California. But that is misguided, too. There is no basis to think Judge Walker’s personal relationship played a role in his ruling on the evidence and on whether a constitutional reason exists to limit anyone’s freedom to marry.

The idea that a seasoned, Republican-appointed jurist was unfit to hear the case, and that his decision should be set aside on flimsy ethics grounds, is preposterous.

More of this, please. Even if the proponents of Prop 8 lose their argument, the goal is to plant doubt, to make the public believe that the referees were biased on this one. Respected, independent news sources stepping in to play the role of judging the merits of such an argument is very important.

May 5, 2011 at 6:00 am 35 comments

Video: New Mexico activists and Cleve Jones deliver 1,000 Repeal DOMA messages to Sens. Bingaman and Udall

By Adam Bink

As Cleve wrote earlier, on Monday afternoon, he took an impromptu trip (he was in town for the New Mexico AIDS Walk) to Sens. Bingaman and Udall with a New Mexico lesbian couple to deliver these messages. We posted the video here.

We’ll be checking in with their offices, and rest assured they will hear from New Mexicans again and again until they support equality.

More from The Advocate.

May 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm 7 comments

California bill to give Prop. 8 proponents legal standing dies in committee

By Adam Bink

Excellent news. The bill may have even been unconstitutional anyway:

A bill to give initiative proponents the right to defend voter-approved ballot measures against legal challenges was rejected by a Senate panel yesterday.

Senate Bill 5 targets an issue that has emerged in the court fight over Proposition 8, the 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage that was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge last year. The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the bill on an 3-2 party-line vote.

Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gov. Jerry Brown, acting as attorney general, decided not to defend the measure in federal court, a position continued by Attorney General Kamala Harris. A federal appeals court considering the initiative proponents’ request to overturn the federal judge’s ruling has asked the state Supreme court to decide whether state law gives initiative sponsors standing to intervene in the case.

California voters deserve to have their position defended when an initiative is challenged in court and the State refuses to defend it,” GOP Sen. Tom Harman, author of the bill and a former primary candidate for attorney general, said in a statement. Harman introduced a similar bill in 2009 that also failed to make it through the Legislature.

Opponents, including representatives from gay-rights group Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, argued during yesterday’s committee hearing that the proposed change would conflict with the court’s existing power to decide who can intervene in a case. They also argued that law would undermine the constitutional responsibilities delegated to the state attorney general.

Good job, EQCA and NCLR.

May 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm 47 comments

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