Tonight, Missoula’s City Council will vote to establish a domestic partnership registry open to same-sex couples across the Treasure State. But let’s be honest, domestic partnership registry doesn’t sound very sexy. It doesn’t carry as much weight as full marriage equality, or even civil unions at the state level. So why even do it?
Let me be clear: No one should settle for mere city-level domestic partnership recognition. I’m certainly not going to. That’s why I hope you will join me in continuing to support these great organizations working on non-discrimination ordinances in Montana cities (www.mhrn.org, www.forwardmontana.org, http://www.fairisfairmontana.org) as well as statewide relationship recognition through the newly refiled Donaldson v. Montana case (www.aclumontana.org).
So if full marriage equality and non-discrimination is what LGBT Montanans and our allies really want, why bother with this little domestic partnership registry in Missoula? Does it even matter? Yep, and here’s why:
It’s called an LGBT movement for a reason. We can and should be moving forward at every level of our democracy until LGBT Montanans are treated equally under the law and our families are valued and respected in our culture – From Missoula to Miles City. Incremental and inadequate as a registry may seem, it is an important step on the path to full equality.
It sends a message to the State of Montana that cities will do everything they can for LGBT residents despite discriminatory laws. Municipal domestic partnership registries are proven to pave the way for more meaningful statewide change. We’ve seen this in the 58 other cities across 23 states, many which lacked any relationship recognition prior to the establishment of a local registry. You know how Minnesota defeated a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage last fall, and how their legislature just passed marriage equality this session? Well, before any of that happened, Rochester and Minneapolis were leading the way by recognizing all families at the city level. This is not a coincidence.
Municipal domestic partnership registries help same-sex partners get health insurance coverage, as well as better treatment from first responders and hospitals. It’s not a replacement for statewide mandates or getting an advanced medical directive (Click here to make sure you have all your bases covered: http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/protecting-your-visitation-decision-making-rights). However, Cathryn Oakley, director of the Municipal Equality Index project at HRC (her aunt lives in Billings – love that!) has provided me with countless examples of how this is happening in cities with registries across the country. The wallet card offers proof for employers that want to do the right thing despite bad state law, and something that emergency and hospital personnel can point to in your time of need.
Remember, this registry is completely voluntary, and it is public information under state law, so if it’s not for you, don’t sign up. Coming out is always a risk, and as LGBT people, we make the decision every day about how out we want to be at work, at school, to our families and our faith communities. This is one more way that couples who want to can come out as domestic partners, and get at least some of the recognition and dignity they deserve, at least at the city level. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Together, by advocating at every level of our democracy, we can bring equality to all Montanans and our families.
You should- the arguments to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act are being heard today. So if you changed your Facebook profile photo yesterday (and most of mine did) don’t change it yet! One of my friends has vowed to keep his red equality pic up until they hand down the decisions.
Human Rights Campaign 2791 (Photo credit: tedeytan)
From HRC Blog:
The number of contributors who gave in support of marriage for gay and lesbian couples was thirteen times greater – about 133,000 compared to an estimated 10,500 – than those giving financial resources to oppose marriage equality. That’s according to a new analysis HRC released today.
Polls consistently show – USA Today/Gallup and ABC News/Washington Post being the latest examples – that a majority of Americans support committed gay and lesbian couples getting a marriage license.
HRC obtained financial contribution data in each of the four states through the Maine Ethics Commission, Maryland Board of Elections, Minnesota Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure Board and Washington Public Disclosure Commission. Supplemental data was obtained from each of the pro-marriage equality ballot committees to account for small donors not required to be itemized by law. Anti-marriage equality donor information was aggregated from currently available public reports and estimates of non-itemized contributions.
Pro-equality groups raised more than $34 million in the four states, mostly from small donors. Anti-marriage equality campaigns raised $12 million, of which nearly two-thirds ($8 million) came from just three sources: the National Organization for Marriage, the Catholic Church and its affiliate the Knights of Columbus.
NOM, the largest funder in all four states to defeat marriage equality, saw a one-third decline in contributions for 2011, with two donors providing 75 percent of its funding, according to tax returns obtained last month by HRC.
A number of politicos jumped on GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney for the casual way he offered to make a $10,000 bet with rival Rick Perry during a debate, saying it clearly illustrated out “out of touch” Romney was with regular folks for whom $10,000 is a lot of money. And certainly, $10,000 was a lot of money during the Prop 8 fight in California – which the Human Rights Campaign and its project NOM Exposed revealed was the amount Romney gave to the National Organization for Marriage when the antigay group emerged as a leading proponent for the Prop 8 ballot initiative that successfully stripped marriage rights from same sex couples in California. NOM has been working hard to keep the names of its donors private.
The aide quoted in The Deseret News that gets Romney into campaign disclosure problems is none other than Eric Fehrnstrom, the same trusted aide who infamously compared the general election to an “Etch A Sketch.” The NYT has a great profile of Fehrnstrom here.
It’s not that surprising, but in the era where “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” ended with barely a whimper, State Legislatures enacted marriage equality, and Republicans have backed off the gay marriage issue, Romney’s anti-equality contributions should be noted.
Did anyone notice a Log Cabin Republican response to Romney’s contribution?
#SSS: An immigration slam dunk: has the game officially changed?
President Obama has had his critics from within the LGBTQ community, but will he go down as the hero of same-sex binational American couples? We’ve already discussed the Justice Department’s decision to no longer defend the Constitutionality of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Acts’ in the courts, but this week one of America’s top immigration attorneys for same-sex couples won a delay in a deportation case that may have far reaching effects for a long time to come.
Lavi Soloway returns to the interview chair this week to discuss his legally married clients Monica Alcota and Cristina Ojeda; their win in immigration court, and why the prosecutor and the judge both agreed with Soloway over the need for delay in light of new DOMA developments.
However, that’s not all. Two immigration districts have put all cases on hold involving legally married same-sex binational couples. Are we about to see a total halt to the break-up of binational families based on DOMA’s discrimination?
We’ll takle this on our round table as well as get the skinny on state-wide developments, strategies on ENDA, and a whole lot more. Find out the who and the what and give it a listen after the jump.
Once again, our brilliant round table breaks down the news of the week:
Relationship recognition news from Colorado to Rhode Island, and discrimination in Indiana
The reintroduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and how we can use a Republican-controlled House of Representatives to build for victory
The President’s promise to create an LGBTQ watchdog at the Organization of American States with his Brazilian counterpart
Polls and reports on the Americans and their gays, and the DOJ finds the New Orleans Police Department been harassing residents based on their gender identity and sexual orientation–what does it mean that the FBI and DOJ have come to our aid?
And, the first Republican to file with the FEC to run for president is… gay?
Joining us this week are:
Executive Directors of Catholics for Equality, Phil Attey
Senior Political Writer at MetroWeekly in DC Chris Geidner
Co-Founder Swish Sue Sena and
State Legislative Director at the Human Rights Campaign, Sarah Warbelow
Not only is this bill destructive for all future attempts to secure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Montanans, it’s also retroactive which calls into question any personnel policy or resolution that a locality has already passed.
We will need a strong presence at the Capitol supporting dignity, fairness and equality Monday afternoon. Please come testify or talk to your legislators. While we ask that everyone who comes to the Capitol bring a copy of written testimony to submit for the record, we expect the Senate Local Government committee to treat people with fairness and give a reasonable amount of time for testimony.
Senate Local Government Committee Hearing
Monday, March 14 | 3:00 p.m.
Room 405 | Montana State Capitol | Helena, MT