USA: Prop 8 / Defense of Marriage Act Updates 3/24/13

Written by scott on March 24th, 2013

Supreme Court Floor PlanLots more to report on the Prop 8 / Defense of Marriage Act front this morning. We’ll start with congress.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out this week on DOMA, On Top Magazine reports:

“Around 2005, the Republicans, who were in the majority, passed legislation specifically related to DOMA, which had, as you know, passed some years before, in the 90s,” Pelosi told reporters. “But they came up with a specific bill relating to DOMA that stripped the courts of the right of judicial review. They said [that] Marbury v. Madison was wrongly decided, that the courts do not have right of judicial review, and therefore they were stripping the courts of judicial review. Why would they do that if they thought they had a constitutional bill – specifically related to DOMA?” she asked.

Senate Democrats seem to agree. On Top Magazine also reports that all 15 current Senate Dems who voted form Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 now oppose it:

All 15 sitting Senate Democrats who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) now oppose the law… Patty Murray of Washington state is among those senators who have had a change of heart. “My state voted, and I voted with them, to allow marriages between gay and lesbian couples,” Murray told NPR. “I’m very proud of my state.”

But even as these 15 realize the error they made, a number of current Democratic Senators don’t even want to talk about gay marriage. Buzzfeed reports:

Sens. Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich and Mark Pryor, all moderate Democrats who will face fierce reelection battles during the midterm election cycle, either would not state their position on marriage, or declined to comment via their office. “I am really concerned right now about the budget, about jobs in my state,” Hagan, of North Carolina, responded when asked about her stance on marriage equality. Ironically, last year Hagan went on record opposing a same-sex marriage ban in North Carolina, saying it would have “far-reaching negative consequences.”

Profiles in cowardice.

Over at The Huffington Post, there’s a great article chronicling the change of heart, on a case-by-case basis, that many Americans have undergone on gay marriage, Take David Blankenhorn, at one time one of the staunchest opponents of marriage equality:

Last June, a year after that car ride, Blankenhorn wrote an op-ed in The New York Times announcing a shift in his views. “To my deep regret,” he wrote, “much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus.” His institute immediately lost half its funding — around a million dollars — and half the board resigned that same day. But Blankenhorn stuck by his new beliefs. “I’m an old Southern white guy,” he said, “and I grew up learning all the bad names about gay and lesbian people, all the stereotyped ideas. We were too busy fighting about race to really talk much about anything else, but I imbibed the stereotypical ideas that I think most of my generation did, and they weren’t pretty.” Blankenhorn has since issued a tract called “Marriage, A New Conversation,” a renunciation of the culture war signed by 74 activists, writers and scholars from both the left and the right. Rauch now sits on the board of his institute.

Read the whole article – it’s pretty powerful stuff.

At Edge Boston, Mark Sherman profiles one of the couples behind the Prop 8 case:

After 13 years of raising four boys together, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier are about to be empty nesters. Their youngest two children, 18-year-old twins, will graduate from high school in June and head off to college a couple of months later. “We’ll see all the movies, get theater season tickets because you can actually go,” Stier said in the living room of their bungalow in Berkeley. Life will not revolve quite so much around food, and the challenge of putting enough of it on the table to feed teenagers. They might also get married, if the high court case goes their way.

Over at NPR, Liz Halloran goes back in time to look at how Vermont helped get the whole marriage equality ball rolling back in 2000:

Democrat Howard Dean, governor at the time, had already made clear he’d veto any legislation labeled “marriage.” Suggestions like “domestic partner relationship” were too clunky; “civil accord,” they decided, evoked a car model. “We wanted something that sounded dignified,” says William Lippert, a Democrat who was vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee writing the law. “We were trying to give it as much stature as possible, since we wouldn’t be able to call it marriage.” Eventually, on a February day in 2000, they settled on “civil unions.”

It’s amazing to me how, in just 13 years, civil unions have gone from seeming like a trail-blazing idea to a sad half-measure for marriage equality supporters, and how, on the other side, they are now viewed as either a safer fall-back to delay full equality, or as a dangerous stepping stone.

Supreme Court JusticesAFER literally takes us inside the Supreme Court, with a great article on how the courtroom is laid out, where the justices will be sitting. and much more:

The nine Justices are seated by seniority. The Chief Justice occupies the center chair, the senior Associate Justice sits to his right, the second senior to his left, and so on, alternating right and left by seniority.

The article also lets you know how you can follow the proceedings Tuesday and Wednesday.

And Lisa Keen at Keen News also has a great guide to the proceedings:

Readers who are eager to absorb the arguments themselves but are unable to snare a courtside seat have two options: an audio recording and a transcript -both available at (Click on “Oral argument” and choose either “Argument transcript” or “Argument recording.”) The public information office says both will be available on an expedited basis the same day as the argument–by 1 p.m. Tuesday and by 2 p.m. Wednesday. Some of the players are already well known to readers, some are not. Certainly, the key issues in the case have occupied a central focus for the LGBT community for many years now and the resolution of both cases are of enormous consequence to LGBT people throughout the country. To help readers prep for the argument and the expected crush of media reporting on the cases, the following is a quick guide to the issues, the attorneys, and what to listen for.

2 more days.


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