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Jul 26, 2011: As New York Marries, Al Franken Catches a Fibber
Pretty quiet week, nothing too exciting -- except everyone in New York getting married! Plus hearings on DOMA repeal, with Al Franken calling out an anti-gay liar. Plus more news from Maryland to Washington state.
Here's Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd getting married at midnight at Niagra Falls on Sunday. It's huge that we now have marriage in New York. But it's also important to recognize what we still don't have: recognition in the vast majority of states, or from the federal government.
In fact, for some gay and lesbian couples, getting married carries special gay-only penalties. Under some circumstances, it could become harder for those couples to adopt. They could take on an extra federal tax burden. And if one of them is in the Army, they can still be discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
So gay couples can get married -- but even in New York, we still aren't treated the same way as straight couples. For now. The other big news last week were the hearings on DOMA in Washington DC. Congress is still a long way off from repealing the law -- that is, if a legal challenge doesn't invalidate it first. At this point, getting witnesses to speak on the record about DOMA's effects is a significant step.
The best highlight from the hearings was when Al Franken caught anti-gay activist Tom Minnery in a big lie.
FRANKEN: You cite a Department of Health and Human Services study that I have right here. ... And it actually doesn't say what you said it says. It says that nuclear families, not opposite-sex married families, are associated with those positive outcomes. Isn't it true, Mr. Minnery, that a married same-sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of a nuclear family in the study that you cite?
MINNERY: I would think that the study, when it cites nuclear families, would mean a family headed by a husband and wife.
FRANKEN: It doesn't. ... And I frankly don't really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies these ways.
They do this all the time. The truth is that when studies compare gay parents and straight parents, they're pretty much indistinguishable. That's why so many professional organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have endorsed marriage equality. So if you hear someone say otherwise, don't be afraid to tell them that you know they're lying.
It's kind of amazing how much has changed since DOMA was signed. The think tank Third Way has a new study out documenting our advancements. One of the most important changes: the number of people who say that they know a gay or lesbian person has gone up by 35 percentage points, from 42 to 77 percent. Of course, everyone knows an LGBT person, since we're everywhere -- in every town, every company, every family. All that's changed is that more of us are open and honest than ever before.
So. What's next?
Maryland. This week Governor Martin O'Malley committed to making marriage a top legislative priority in 2012. His tepid support during this year's legislative session was partially blamed when a marriage bill failed to pass, so we have a very good chance of winning Maryland, possibly in a special session as early as October of this year.
And then there's Washington state. This week Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown pledged to make a "serious effort" to pass a marriage equality bill within the next year.
So 2012 is shaping up to be an extremely busy year, with marriage fights all over the country. Oh, and also there's going to be a presidential race, so clear your calendar. We'll see you next week.
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