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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

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

THE WEEK AHEAD: Marriage debate heats up in Rhode Island, Maryland (Via On Top Magazine):  “The debate over whether to legalize marriage for LGBT couples in Rhode Island and Maryland returns to the front burner.  --RHODE ISLAND: “The House Judiciary Committee which is considering the legislation held an eight-and-a-half-hour hearing on the issue early last month and could vote on the measure as early as Thursday, the same day a Senate panel is expected to begin debate on its version of the bill, the Providence Journal reported.
--MARYLAND: “The House is expected to take up the marriage bill approved two weeks ago by the Senate.  Last week, the bill narrowly escaped the House Judiciary Committee after two members altered their votes.  Backers in the House concede they remain 4 votes shy of the majority needed to send the bill to the governor’s desk, but insist they will win with the help of several on-the-fence lawmakers.”  Cont. reading:
RHODE ISLAND CONGRESSMAN LANGEVIN ON MARRIAGE: “As the debate about same-sex marriage continues in Rhode Island and in Washington, I have taken time to reflect carefully on my own position. Based on my own experiences and my firm belief that all Americans should be treated equally under the law, I am now convinced that affording full marriage equality rights to same-sex couples is the only fair and responsible approach for both Rhode Island and the nation. If our nation expects to provide equal protection to all, then our civic institutions must reflect that noble goal.”  Cont. reading:
HOUSE SPEAKER BOEHNER TO DEFEND DOMA: Via Statement: “I will convene a meeting of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group for the purpose of initiating action by the House to defend this law of the United States, which was enacted by a bipartisan vote in Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy. The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts — not by the president unilaterally — and this action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution.”
BAD POLICY MEETS BAD POLITICS: “They say they want to focus on cutting the deficit and saving money, but congressional republicans seem to have no issue with spending money to further a right wing, anti-gay agenda. The House Speaker's move speaks volumes about where his priorities lie. The president chose a path toward the deeply American value of equality for all -- our opponents choose to spend scarce taxpayer resources -- potentially millions -- to fund discrimination. This is bad policy combined with bad politics. It's a decision that will come back to haunt them both with voters and in history books,” said Equality Matters President Richard Socarides.
BACKGROUND BY THE ADVOCATE: “The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group is a five-member panel consisting of the speaker of the House, majority leader, majority whip, minority leader, and minority whip. Under House rules, the advisory group has the authority to instruct the nonpartisan office of the House general counsel to take legal action on behalf of the House of Representatives.”
BREAKING IN NYC: Via Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund: "The city of New York has adopted a new policy designed to ensure that transgender people have equal access to marriage licenses. The policy was adopted as part of an agreement to resolve threatened legal action involving a transgender couple. More:
GOP HOLDING UP NOMINATION OF GAY FEDERAL APPEALS NOMINEE: Via Lisa Keen: "President Obama nominated Washington, D.C., attorney Ed DuMont to the Federal Circuit bench on April 14 last year, but the nomination has not progressed through the usual Committee hearing and vote to move to the Senate floor."
TED OLSON SPEAKS TO HRC BOARD: Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner: “Calling it a matter of ’human dignity,’' lawyer Ted Olson addressed the board and other supporters …to discuss the challenge to Proposition 8 that he, along with David Boies, has been leading for nearly the past two years. 
--''It has been an enormously emotional experience for me to represent the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and the two couples that we represent in California and, beyond them, all of the people in California who wish to get married,'' Olson said. Cont. reading:
--Thursday, March 10, 2011; 7 p.m. ET (Open press)
--Richard Socarides in conversation w/ HRC's Brian Ellner, Empire State Pride Agenda Ross Levi and Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson
***STATE BY STATE WEEKLY REPORT: Rick Palacio, openly gay, elected Colorado Democratic State Party chair -- In Washington the state house votes to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages – full updates:
VIGIL HELD FOR TRANSGENDER MURDER VICTIM: Via The Baltimore Sun: “There was Jana, and then Chrissie and others. And then there was Tyra. The names were among those on a long list of local transgender people who succumbed to violence or drug abuse or homelessness, said Robyn Webb, who rattled them off at a candlelight vigil Friday for the latest victim, Tyra Trent. While Webb, 54, never knew Trent, she understood her struggles and knew of her death.  The 25-year-old, born Anthony Trent and known as Tyra, was killed last month. Her body was found Feb. 19 in a vacant, city-owned home in the 3300 block of Virginia Ave. in Northwest Baltimore.”
MARYLAND TRANS BILL: The Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act was introduced in the 2011 Maryland legislative session. This bill HB 235, introduced in the House by Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk and Delegate Ariana Kelly, would prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, and credit.  Learn more:
NOM RAMPS UP IN MARYLAND: As the Washington Blade reports, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has been mailing a series of attack mailers to Maryland residents, asking them to urge their delegates to vote against a marriage equality bill currently awaiting approval from the House Judiciary Committee.  View the mailings:
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:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – MSNBC’S CHRIS MATTHEWS: “There is lack of heart” among GOP to fight marriage equality in America:
NEW REPORT OUTLINES FINANCIAL HEALTH OF MOVEMENT: “Organizations working in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality are showing strong signs of financial health and operating efficiency in the face of a cumulative 20 percent revenue decline from 2008 ($202.7 million) to 2009 ($161.3 million), according to a first-of-its-kind report by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP). Read the report:
NAVY WORKING TO DISCHARGE SAILOR: The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock: “To hear Navy Petty Officer Stephen C. Jones tell it, what happened in his bedroom one night last month was purely innocuous: Another male sailor came by to watch "The Vampire Diaries," and they both dozed off in the same bed.  Navy officials, however, have a different view of his bedroom behavior at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, near Charleston, S.C. Even though there is no evidence the 21-year-old sailor took part in any hanky-panky or that his friend was not permitted to visit, Jones has been charged with dereliction of duty. The Navy is seeking to discharge him, a move that he is contesting. Cont. Reading:
WASH POST: NAVY READIES TRAINING FOR END OF “DON’T ASK”: By Ed O’Keefe: “Four documents - a 24-slide PowerPoint presentation, a two-page pamphlet, an eight-page ‘frequently asked questions’ form and 14 written vignettes - are being used by naval commanders and senior enlisted officers to train ‘deck hand sailors,’ or the rank and file, on what will happen once President Obama and top military leaders certify that the military is ready to end its enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.” Cont. Reading:
TRUMP EXPANDS OPPOSITION TO MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Via The Advocate: “…he does not believe same-sex couples should be entitled to equal benefits under the law.” Cont. reading:
PUSHING BACK ON WORLD NET DAILY: “While advocates celebrate the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) repeal and most of America moves on, WorldNetDaily -- which recently published a column from Alan Keyes claiming that "granting homosexuals the right to marry is like granting plantation owners the right to own slaves" -- devoted an entire issue of its monthly Whistleblower magazine to arguing that repealing the ban on gay service will spell certain doom for the US military.” Cont. reading:
AFA LAWYER MISPEAKS?  This week, the American Family Association's radio program AFA Report got a little more than it bargained for when it brought on AFA attorney Pat Vaughn to discuss the Obama administration's decision not to defend Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Watch co-host Ed Vitagliano's reaction as Vaughn explains why DOMA is "clearly" unconstitutional:
Equality Matters is a new campaign for full LGBT equality.  Through strategic communications, research, training and media monitoring we strengthen efforts for full LGBT rights and correct anti-gay misinformation. Our goal is to enhance advocacy and activism across all platforms and to leverage our expertise in support of others who are working to make full equality a national imperative.
Trevor Thomas
Director of Programs
Equality Matters
202.772.0110 (o) 616.430.2030 (c)


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