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Mar 7, 2011: Pelosi vs Boehner on DOMA: This Week in Prop 8 for March 7, 2011
There's a bitter battle shaping up in Congress, and a nailbiting fight to the finish in Maryland. A new judge in the Prop 8 case, and a big surprise from Wyoming Republicans, thanks in part to one legislator's gay daughter.
Now that Obama has decided that DOMA is unconstitutional, Congress is pretty much guaranteed to take up its defense, but not without some fireworks. This week House Speaker John Boehner said that he would convene the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to decide on next steps. Even though it's called bipartisan, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group is dominated by Republicans, and they tend to support DOMA.
The group does include Nancy Pelosi, and she's likely to push back. Unfortunately, the meetings will probably not be public, so we'll never know what she says to John Boehner behind closed doors. Which is a shame, because it's probably pretty good.
Now that we've had some time to digest the administration's decision not to defend DOMA, historians have found lots of examples of presidents making similar decisions in the past. Those include US versus Lovett in 1946, Simkins versus Moses H Cone Memorial Hospital in 1964, INS versus Chadha in 1983, Morrison versus Olson in 1988, Metro Broadcasting Inc versus FCC in 1990 ... and so on.
That's important because anti-gay groups are spreading a lie that the government is required to defend DOMA. It's just not true. They're not
They're also saying that a vast majority of Americans support DOMA. That's also not true: an survey by the AP last August showed that the public supports recognizing gay couples' marriages by a margin of 52 to 46 percent. A CNN poll at the same time showed the same numbers. And data released last week by General Social Survey shows support for marriage at 46 to 40 percent.
For us to have multiple surveys showing majority support for marriage is a huge stap forward from just two years ago. And we're likely to increase that margin even in 2011 and 2012, when, by the way, there's a presidential election.
That's all for DOMA, now let's take a look at Maryland, where things have been crazy. This week a marriage equality bill passed a House panel, but by a margin of just one vote. Now it it goes to a full House vote, which at one point looked like it would go solidly in our favor, but now could go either way.
Multiple legislators have thrown their support into question, or pulled it altogether. That includes Tiffany Alston, who once supported marriage equality and now opposes it. And Jill Carter, who simply never showed up to an earlier vote on the bill.
Then there's Sam Arora, who campaigned on a promise to support equal marriage, then reversed himself this week and said that he'd oppose it. Then he reversed himself again, and said he'd vote for the bill but only because it starts a process that would eventually allow voters to veto it.
So it's going to be very close in Maryland. And that's why your action item this week is to once again hit up MarylandPop.org. That's Friendfactor's site that connects Marylanders to their legislators to tell them why marriage equality is so important. And if you're not in Maryland, the site will help you connect with Facebook friends who are.
In Prop 8 news this week, a new judge was assigned to the case. Judge James Ware replaces Judge Vaughn Walker, who retired. Because so many Judges touch this case in so many different ways, Ware may or may not have a chance to rule -- it all depends on how things go with the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit later this year.
That's a long time to wait, but actually fast by court standards. Last week Ted Olson asked them to move oral arguments up from September to May, but they responded that September was already an accelerated timeframe.
In Maine, the National Organization for Marriage has been ordered to release a list of their donors in the 2009 election that eliminated marriage equality there. They've now appealed that ruling.
In New Hampshire, Republicans put a bill on hold that would have eliminated marriage equality for that state. They say they'll bring it back next year, but it faces a certain veto by the governor. So marriage equality is safe in New Hampshire ... for now.
In Rhode Island, time's running out for a vote on a marriage equality bill, but Democrats are pushing hard for it to happen, possibly as soon as March 10.
And some unlikely help in Wyoming, where a handful of Republican legislators helped to defeat a bill that would have nullified out-of-state gay marriages. One Republican credited his own gay family members for proving that gay couples are worthy of marriage.
That's why it's so important for all of us to be open and out.
And on that note, Eric Ross is the author of "My Uncle's Wedding," a cute new children's book that tells the story of a gay couple's wedding through the eyes of a young nephew. I metup with Eric in the Castro this week to talk about his book.
Matt: I'm here with Eric Ross, he's the author of My Uncle's Wedding, a new book for kids that explores a gay wedding through the eyes of a young kid who's experiencing his uncle marrying his boyfriend. So Eric, people like us are surrounded by all this gay activism and LGBT history, and so we have all this knowledge about what it means to be gay and to have a wedding. Was it difficult to put yourself in the position of a kid who doesn't have that information, doesn't have that knowledge, just sees a family member getting married?
Visit http://amzn.to/myuncle to get your own copy of "My Uncle's Wedding."
And you can visit Stop8.org to learn more about all of the stories on this week's episode.
You can also visit Facebook.com/stop8, and if you hit "Like," you'll get breaking news alerts from us on your wall, so you'll always known when there's action on marriage equality near you, your family, and your friends.
You can get all caught up by watching our previous episodes, including the ever-popular Valentine's Day protest spectacular. And subscribe to get more of these updates every week on YouTube.
Now, go visit MarylandPop.org, and we'll see you next week.
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