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Oct 17, 2011: Maryland Marriage Alert
Say what you will about Bank of America, but they gave their LGBT employees a pretty remarkable gift this week. A phony anti-gay survey backfires in Washington when voters refuse to fall for discriminatory talking points. Turmoil at Equality California with a surprise resignation, and it's all hands on deck right now in Maryland.
Do you live in Maryland? Do you know anyone who does? Your voice is needed right now. Elected officials are returning to Annapolis for a special three-day session starting October 17th, and they need to hear from you. Visit MDElect.net to find their phone numbers, then call and tell them that you support marriage equality and you want them to do the same. That's all. It's easy, it's quick, and it works. Pause this video and do it now.
While equality efforts continue in the states, the national campaign to overturn DOMA got a big unexpected boost this week when Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a vote on the Respect for Marriage Act in November. The committee is controlled by ten democrats, all of whom are co-sponsors for the bill, making for a very easy passage. It'll also give us a chance to see if any Republicans will vote for the bill. And from there, it moves to the full Senate floor.
In other surprising news, Equality California's Executive Director is stepping down after just a few weeks on the job. Under Roland Palencia's brief leadership, EQCA wrapped up a very successful legislative session, passing 10 out of 12 bills to protect LGBT youth and families. The organization also avoided a possibly disastrous return to the ballot to overturn Prop 8, which would have been very expensive, a huge distraction from races in other states, and also unnecessary since the legal challenge to Prop 8 has already resulted in the law being declared unconstitutional. We just have a few more months of appeals, and then Prop 8 is likely to be gone for good.
So, with a promising first few weeks under his belt, it may seem weird for Palencia to step down so soon -- and that's because it IS weird. So, what's going on at Equality California right now? It's anyone's guess. Hopefully whatever it is, they'll get it under control by the start of the next legislative session.
Meanwhile in other states, two more encouraging surveys came out this week. In New Hampshire, a UNH poll shows that 62% of residents want to keep the state's marriage equality law on the books. A small group of Republicans has threatened to attempt a repeal, which would leave LGBT families with even fewer protections than they had under civil unions. These poll numbers indicate that their repeal attempts aren't likely to be a success.
And in Washington State, a scheme by anti-gay activists to create skewed survey results backfired when respondents turned out to be stubbornly in favor of marriage equality. The group calling itself the Faith and Freedom Network asked heavily biased questions designed to produce anti-gay responses. But even with those flawed questions, a majority said that they would reject a ban on marriage equality.
And finally this week, Bank of America has announced that it will reimburse employees who have to pay extra taxes on employment benefits. Known as the "gay tax," LGBTs are subject to numerous extra fees that don't apply to straight couples. Fortunately, Bank of America is able to help those families recoup the loss, since the company just happens to have a lot of extra money lying around these days.
Those are the headlines, visit us over at MarriageNewsWatch.com to sign up for breaking news alerts that matter to you, and connect with us at Facebook.com/MarriageNewsWatch to help spread the word to your friends. We'll see you next week.
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