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May 23, 2011: Bad News from Coast to Coast
It's almost all bad news this week, with an anti-gay measure gaining ground in Minnesota, slow progress in New York, a resignation in North Carolina, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker staking out a position against LGBT hospital visitation.
Another survey out this month shows that a slim majority of Americans favor legal recognition of marriage by a margin of 53 to 45. The Gallup poll is just the latest in a series of surveys that shows rapidly changing public opinion. Last month a CNN poll showed support at 51 to 47, and the month before that an ABC News poll showed 53 to 44.
Now these numbers are good, but they're still not good enough. They refer to Americans in general, rather than likely voters. Our strongest support is among young people, but young people tend not to vote. So until we can improve our support across the board, we may continue to lose elections and fail to sway legislators.
Nowhere is that more evident than in New York state right now. This week New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid a visit to Albany on behalf of the state coalition pushing for a bill the legalize marriage. Bloomberg lobbied lawmakers and offered financial support to Republicans who support the bill.
But we're still a few votes shy of passage in the Senate. There is now less than a month left to pass this bill.
And in Minnesota, the House passed a double-ban on marriage late Saturday. Now it heads to the voters in 2012. The Governor strongly opposes the ban, but there's only so much he can do to stop it. It's up to Minnesotans now to spend the next year educating their friends, family, and neighbors about why this measure needs to be voted down.
And Equality North Carolina Executive Director Ian Palmquist is just the latest in a wave of ED resignations from equality organizations across the country. He's quitting to pursue a degree at Harvard, leaving the organization without a permanent leader just as it's facing its toughest fight yet. A House bill would ban recognition of gay couples' marriages in North Carolina, while a Senate version goes even further and extends to civil unions as well.
Palmquist's organization has been holding back on this ban for nearly a decade. But this is the first year that the legislature has had a Republican majority.
So far, Equality North Carolina has put together a coalition of clergy to speak out against the ban. Meanwhile GetEQUAL is planning a rally next Thursday, June 2, at the General Assembly building in Raleigh at 12 noon.
They're not the only ones drawing big crowds. Equality Ohio held a lobbying day on Tuesday, not for marriage but for an equal housing and employment act and a safe schools act. So, why not go for marriage? Well, I put that question to Executive Director Ed Mullin, and he explained how these two bills lay the groundwork for marriage equality in the future.
You can click here to watch our full conversation. Here's just a short clip from that interview.
And in Rhode Island, there was a failed attempt to amend the controversial civil unions bill into a full marriage bill. The bill passed the House without the marriage amendment, and now it heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker ordered to state to stop defending its domestic partnership registry. The registry allows couples to visit each other in the hospital, among other rights. It faced a legal challenge from the anti-gay organization Wisconsin Family Action. Walker has now aligned himself with the anti-gay group by withdrawing from the registry's defense.
This week Paul Clement filed a motion to intervene in one of the cases against DOMA. He's the high-priced attorney that House Speaker John Boehner promised to pay half a million dollars to defend the anti-gay law. Meanwhile, Boehner still hasn't been able to explain how he intends to pay Clement's bill.
Fifty two Republican Senators teamed up to block President Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu is a strong supporter of marriage equality, and the 9th circuit is the court currently hearing the case for repeal of Prop 8.
And finally, some slightly good news: two Congresspeople hinted this week that Barack Obama would come out for marriage equality sometime in 2012. But both Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Barney Frank separately said that their predictions are based more on hunches than on any actual evidence.
Those are the headlines. Click over here to subscribe to weekly updates, watch some of our previous coverage, including signs that Republicans could hold the key to marriage in New York or about the infighting in Rhode Island over marriage versus civil unions.
We'll see you next week.
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