“…with liberty and justice for all.” A Good Start

The President is making good on his promise to finally repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act- an act designed to smugify people who can get married (and have- some of them four or five times) and alienate those who can’t (like this couple, who have been together for 48 years). From the Atlantic Wire:

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court (Photo credit: wallyg)

The Department of Justice is asking the Supreme Court to hear appeals for two different cases to finally decide whether or not DOMA is constitutional.

Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner reports David Verelli filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court asking them to review the law’s controversial Section 3 to see if it “violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State.” The question is connected to the Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management case. In a ruling in February, a U.S. District Judge ruling on the case said that DOMA was unconstitutional. It’s currently slated to be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but now it’ll be presented to the Supreme Court before the Ninth Circuit can even make a ruling.

The other case the DOJ asked SCOTUS to look at is Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services. A judge from the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled against DOMA in the case in May. Another judge from the First Circuit Appeals Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional at the beginning of June.

The Associated Press reports the “earliest the justices might decide to hear the case is in late September.” Arguments would be made over the winter, with a final decision coming in late June. So basically, DOMA is the new blackAffordable Care Act.

This administration is taking the dignity of LGBT persons to an all-time high, politically speaking. We are closer to being equal citizens than we have ever been, and today- despite the miles left to go- I’d like to celebrate that.

Click here for an exhaustive list of the Obama administration (and Congress’) accomplishments.

 

Success! MT Republicans Drop Anti Gay Platform Plank

Montana Republican Party

Montana Republican Party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…and they did it while thousands were celebrating Montana Gay Pride in Bozeman. From Talking Points Memo:

Montana’s Republican Party has dropped a longtime plank in its platform demanding that the state recognize a law banning homosexual activity.

The state GOP had officially declared that “We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal,” language that was initially included in 1997 after a state court struck down an existing ban on gay sex. All such state laws were invalidated in 2003 in the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas.

The issue was dropped from the “crime” section of the platform over the weekend at the Republican state convention after the party’s crime subcommittee decided to remove it.

“The folks on the crime committee told me they had a good debate about it,” he said. “I wasn’t there myself.”

But it wasn’t entirely clear why the plank was removed. At least some Republican legislators had openly decried its inclusion as an embarrassment. But Montana GOP Executive Director Bowen Greenwood told TPM that his only direction to party committee chairs was to gut extraneous items from the platform in order to make it shorter and more accessible.

Greenwood declined to offer any opinion on the move.

“I run a servant office,” he said. “I work for Republican officeholders and I represent the platform they choose. I don’t tell them what it ought to be.”

State Rep. Keith Regier (R), chairman of the state party crime committee, did not immediately return a request for comment.

I’ve been harping on this for years now, so whatever the reason, begrudgingly or otherwise, I’ll take it.

Catholic Nuns File Amicus Brief Supporting Affordable Care Act

Some sisters have come out in favor of The Affordable Care Act, saying

(We) believe that a civilized society must ensure the provision of basic healthcare to its citizens regardless of their ability to pay for it. (We) further believe it is a moral imperative that all levels of government institute programs that ensure the poor receive such care. (We) believe Medicaid expansion under the Act is critical to the communities (we) serve.

Predictably, some “Catholic” websites are leading with headlines like “Liberal Nuns Support Obamacare”, and “Liberal Activist Nuns Want Socialized Medicine”.

Sigh. What’s wrong with these people? What do they think Jesus would charge for healthcare? And they’re theologically out of step with their church.

From ThinkProgress:

As further proof that conservative efforts to paint President Obama as the enemy of religion are a red herring, nearly two dozen leading Catholic nuns filed a brief in the Supreme Court last week supporting the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. The Catholic sisters who joined the brief include the leaders of many prominent religious orders providing health care and other services to the needy.

These nuns have unique stature to explain why their support for the Affordable Care Act flows from their faith, given that so many of them have devoted their lives to providing care to those most in need. Nevertheless, their views are hardly unique within their church’s hierarchy. Pope Benedict XVI called health care an “inalienable right,” and added that it is the “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens.”

Duh. “Is the Pope Catholic?” may no longer be a rhetorical question- especially for catholic fanatics.

Oh- and Jesus healed for free….

Prop 8 Ruling: Now What?

You’ve probably heard about the decision by the Ninth Circuit invalidating Proposition 8. But if you’re hungry for more information, I want to simplify your search a bit.

I’ve read a lot of articles today about the decision, and I think Phil Reese of the Washington Blade has the best broad, yet in-depth analysis. And he does it without getting too wonky.  Excerpt:

Official "Vote NO on Prop 8" logo

Image via Wikipedia

In a two-to-one decision, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional in a federal case challenging California’s marriage ban.

The opinion, authored by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, affirms Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 ruling that the law passed by California voters at the ballot violates the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

The court also rejected the argument that Judge Walker should have recused himself from the case because of his sexual orientation and relationship status.

Legal experts began to weigh in on the meaning of the decision immediately.

“I think the biggest story is how narrow [the majority decision] really is,” Douglas NeJaime, associate professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, told the Blade Tuesday. “Which in some ways I think that might disappoint some folks who were hoping it would expand to more states, but I think in terms of setting it up for a Supreme Court review — either the Supreme Court not taking it, or approving it — for supporters of same-sex marriage, this is actually the most strategically sound way for the case to proceed.”

Legal experts agree that the decision represents a big win for same-sex couples in California, even though it was a narrow decision limited to California. The Ninth Circuit encompasses multiple Western states and some Prop 8 opponents had hoped the court’s decision would impact a wider swath of the country.

He also goes in to the likely next steps, which I find an excellent resource for those of us who wonder what kind of impact this will have across the country.

Read the full article here.

ACLU Asks Montana Supreme Court to Grant Legal Protection to Same Sex Couples


 

Domestic partnership recognition is necessary to uphold Montana Constitution’s right to fair treatment for all

 

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed its appeal of a Montana District Court decision dismissing the same-sex domestic partnership case, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana, to the Montana Supreme Court. The appeal argues that the Montana Constitution guarantees fair and equal treatment to all people, including gay and lesbian couples.

“This case is about treating people fairly and humanely,” said plaintiff Jan Donaldson, a Helena nurse who has been with her partner, pediatric neurologist Mary Anne Guggenheim, for 27 years. “Mary Anne and I have appreciated the support we’ve received from fellow Montanans who understand that all families need to be able to take care of each other. We just want the dignity of having our committed partnership recognized as worthy of those legal protections.”

U.S. Census numbers released over the summer show 2,295 Montana same-sex households. Without recognition of domestic partnerships, these couples are vulnerable when they need bereavement leave, face the illness or death of their partner or are presented with any other situation in which their lack of legally recognized status puts them in a position where a married husband or wife would be protected.

The plaintiffs in the case have faced just this kind of discrimination. When Guggenheim had a hip replacement, the doctor’s office staff would not speak to Donaldson without a release. Kellie Gibson of Laurel was denied bereavement leave when her partner Denise’s father died. Mary Leslie of Bozeman lost her home because she was ineligible for worker’s compensation death benefits when her partner was killed in an accident.

“Anyone who works and pays taxes should be treated equally and fairly by our state. When two people are in a committed relationship, they should be eligible for benefits, like filing a joint tax return, regardless of whether they are a same-sex couple or a different-sex couple,” said Jennifer Giuttari, interim legal director for the ACLU of Montana.

Plaintiffs in the case Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana are Mary Anne Guggenheim and Jan Donaldson of Helena, Stacey Haugland and Mary Leslie of Bozeman, Mike Long and Rich Parker of Bozeman, MJ Williams and Nancy Owens of Basin, Rick Wagner and Gary Stallings of Butte and Denise Boettcher and Kellie Gibson of Laurel.

In addition to Giuttari, the couples are represented by Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project; James Goetz and Ben Alke of the Bozeman, MT, law firm Goetz, Gallik & Baldwin P.C.; Betsy Griffing; and Ruth Borenstein and Neil Perry of the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Additional information about the case, biographies of the plaintiffs and links to videos of the plaintiffs can be found at www.aclumontana.org and www.aclu.org/mtpartnerships.