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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

EQUALITY, WHAT MATTERS: The latest in the LGBT rights movement

WHERE THINGS STAND AFTER THE MAJOR DOMA NEWS: "This changes everything. The administration’s decision to fight for gay rights in the federal courts – a direction we pleaded with them to take for two years – is the kind of change Americans voted for. Obama is now starting to show leadership on the most important civil rights struggle of our time,” said Equality Matters President Richard Socarides.

WHAT THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE HOLDS: "What will follow is a series of cases in which the government will essentially take the position that laws of any kind that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation should be struck down.”


OBAMA AND DOMA: An in-depth look by Equality Matter’s Kerry Eleveld on how the Obama Administration went from viewing LGBT issues as toxic to declaring the law unconstitutional:
KEY EXCERPT: “The first DOMA brief the Justice Department filed in the summer of 2009 looked like a relic of the Bush administration, invoking instances of child brides and incestuous… For queer activists, the brief was an unmistakable sign that no one in a position of power at the Justice Department -- or the White House for that matter -- really understood LGBT issues well enough to cry foul before the brief was filed. Cont:

LA TIMES EDITORIAL: “Same-sex weddings, now: Gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry while the Proposition 8 case works its way through the system.”

POLITICO TODAY: DOMA MOVE HELPS OBAMA WITH GAYS: By Josh Gerstein: “President Barack Obama’s decision to stop fighting lawsuits challenging the Defense of Marri age Act has dramatically warmed his chilly relationship with gay and lesbian activists—clearing the way for the president and Democrats to fundraise aggressively in the gay community in the crucial lead-up to his 2012 re-election bid.”

***FACT CHECK ON GOP TALKING POINTS: In the days since the DOMA announcement, conservative politicians, commentators, and anti-gay activists have offered a flurry of false and misleading talking points concerning the administration's decision. Equality Matters sets the record straight:


THE WASHINGTON POST’S JONATHAN CAPEHART: “Republicans and others are wondering why Obama is wading into a controversial social issue when his focus, they say, should be on taking the paddles to the economy and job creation. Last I checked, the president can and must do more than one thing at a time.”

NYT: MARRIAGE ISSUE WANING AMONG CONSERVATIVES: By Michael Shear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg: “President Obama’s decision to abandon his legal support for the Defense of Marriage Act has generated only mild rebukes from the Republicans hoping to succeed him in 2012, evidence of a shifting political climate in which social issues are being crowded out by economic concerns. …Kerry Eleveld, editor of, a new Web site, says Mr. Obama appears to be evaluating the politics of gay rights issues differently since the positive response to the don’t ask, don’t tell repeal from people on the political left, many of whom have criticized him over issues like health care, climate change and immigration.”


JEFFREY TOOBIN IN THE NEW YORKER: Obama's DOMA decision means "sooner rather than later, the president will officially change his position" on marriage equality.

GOOD BACKGROUND: JOHN ROBERTS ALSO CHOSE TO NOT DEFEND LAWS BASED ON CONSTITUTIONAL SCRUTINY: Via The NYT’s: “…in 1990 in another case on a politically divisive issue, after an acting solicitor general told the Supreme Court that the Justice Department would not defend a Federal Communications Commission affirmative-action program because, in language echoing Mr. Holder’s, it ‘could not withstand the exacting scrutiny required by the Constitution.’ The commission filed its own brief defending the program, and the court upheld it. The acting solicitor general who refused to defend the program, John G. Roberts Jr., is now chief justice of the United States.”

NBC LEGAL CORRESPONDENT PETE WILLIAMS: DOMA decision doesn't force states to recognize same-sex marriage:

STATE BY STATE WEEKLY REPORT: A new resource by Equality Matters:


TAKING NOTHING FOR GRANTED IN MARYLAND – STATE HOUSE VOTE EXPE CTED THIS WEEK: Wash Blade’s Lou Chibbaro: “…statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality Maryland expressed concern that an expected vote on the bill in the House of Delegates within the next two weeks appears much closer than originally expected.”

HELP MARYLAND NOW AND TAKE ACTION: --For Maryland residents visit Equality Maryland's site:
--You can also participate in Friendfactor's Pop the Question campaign:

HAPPENING THIS WEEK: Two panels on LGBT issues:
--PANEL ONE (TODAY @ 12 pm ET via teleconference): Via e-Equality Giving: Building Bridges with Corporate America: Both Ways, One Way, or No Way. Details:
--PANEL TWO (Thursday @ 12 pm ET in NYC): Straight Talk to engage LGBTA thought leaders w/ Dan Choi and Kerry Eleveld.  Details:

DOJ STILL HESITATES ON WHETHER DADT IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: Via POLITICO: “In a legal brief filed just after the network news broadcasts hit the air Friday night, the Justice Department urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit not to rule on the constitutionality of the policy while the administration proceeds with the repeal of the policy as authorized by Congress in a bill passed last December.”

--FACT CHECK: Megyn Kelly Offers Blatant Falsehoods About DOMA: On Fox News' America Live, Megyn Kelly criticized President Obama's d ecision to no longer defend the constitutionality of a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as radical and and possibly unconstitutional.  Fact check:

--Focus On The Family's Mohler: Marriage Equality Is An "Inevitability": During a broadcast of the Focus on the Family radio show, Mohler told Jim Daly that it was time for Christians to start thinking about what it will be like when the government and society at large eventually accept full marriage equality.  Cont.:

--Alan Keyes: "Granting homosexuals the right to marry is like granting plantation owners the right to own slaves." Cont.:

--FLASHBACK: Conservative legal star supported Obama’s legal approach to DOMA: Cont.:

CONTACT: Trevor Thomas
Director of Programs
Equality Matters
202.772.0110 (o) 616.430.2030 (c)


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