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Monday, April 25, 2011

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

BREAKING TODAY: DOMA LAW FIRM DITCHES CASE (via The Huffington Post) – “Law firm King & Spalding announced Monday it will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives. Afterward, Paul Clement, the partner who had taken the case, announced he intends to defend the law with another firm.”

WHAT THE DOMA NEWS MEANS: "Being anti-gay no longer works in mainstream America. That is the message here. Discrimination and second class citizenship is indefensible, even if you are a high priced hired gun. If you are in the mainstream, anti-gay is out.  And that's good for all of us," said EQM’s Richard Socarides. *Additional DOMA and Boehner coverage later in this update
OTHER TOP STORY TODAY: VIDEO CAPTURES ATTACK ON TRANS WOMAN / VIGIL TONIGHT (via Metro Weekly) – “A candlelight vigil is scheduled to take place at the McDonald's at 6315 Kenwood Ave. in Rosedale, Baltimore, at 7 p.m. on Monday night where on April 18 a transgender woman was physically attacked, before appearing to have a seizure, in an incident recorded on a portable phone by a McDonald's employee.” 

GOOD MORNING AMERICA: BEATING OF TRANS WOMAN AT MCDONALD'S CAUGHT ON TAPE – “Prosecutors may file hate-crime charges against a woman and a juvenile over the beating of a transgender woman at a Baltimore-area McDonald's.” VIDEO OF STORY:
CBS NEWS: TRANS WOMAN CALLS ATTACK A HATE CRIME - “The viral video has shocked tens of thousands of people. It shows a transgender woman being beaten by two teenage girls at a Baltimore-area McDonald's, as employees laughed and videotaped the attack. CBS station WJZ reports that the victim, 22-year-old Chrissy Lee Polis, calls it a hate crime and wants justice.”
TODAY’S NATL AP: TEXAS BILL AIMS TO HURT TRANS PEOPLE – “Two years after Texas became one of the last states to allow transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license, Republican lawmakers are trying to roll back the clock. Advocates for the transgendered say a proposal to bar transgendered people from getting married smacks of discrimination and would put their legally granted marriages in danger of being nullified if challenged in court.”

INDIANA STUDENTS FILE DISCRIMINATION COMPAINT AGAINST SCHOOL CHANCELLOR OVER CHICK-FIL-A (via Equality Matters) – “Students at Indiana University South Bend have filed formal discrimination complaints against the university’s Chancellor, Una Mae Reck, for her decision to continue purchasing goods from Chick-fil-A, which has a long history of supporting anti-g ay groups.”

POLITICO: DOMA DEFENSE IN TURMOIL – “The House of Representatives’ courtroom defense of the Defense of Marriage Act suffered a serious jolt Monday after the law firm the House hired to argue the law’s constitutionality in up to a dozen pending court challenges abruptly withdrew … ‘It was smarter to say now, we screwed up, rather than sticking with this loser and branding them as anti-gay. This kind of a thing could stick to a firm for decades,” said Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters.’”

WASHINGTON POST: KING & SPALDING “SHARPLY CRITIZED BY GAY RIGHTS GROUPS” – “The law firm hired to mount the legal defense of the federal government’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages has withdrawn from the case, the firm announced Monday, after it was sharply criticized by gay rights groups. …The firm had been criticized by gay rights groups, including Equality Matters, whose president, Richard Socarides, appeared on MSNBC on Friday to press the firm to drop the case.”


THE NEW YORK TIMES: FIRM BACKS OUT OF DEFENDING MARRIAGE ACT - “Speaker John A. Boehner has vowed to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, but the law firm the House hired to lead that effort has withdrawn amid pressure from gay rights groups. Richard Socarides, the president of Equality Matters, said Monday: ‘Mr. Clement’s statement misses the point entirely. While it is sometimes appropriate for lawyers to represent unpopular clients when a important principle is at issue, here the only principle he wishes to defend is discrimination and second class citizenship for gay Americans.’”

POLITICO’S BEN SMITH: “DUMPING DOMA” – “A number of lawyers have emailed with suggestions as to why King & Spalding dumped the DOMA case, losing its famous partner in the process... A young lawyer emails: ‘King and Spalding made a tough but probably rational decision. The DOMA decision would have hurt their recruiting, and I [have heard] that associates already at the firm were talking about leaving because of the DOMA representation. At the same time, losing Clement, who is (or ‘was’?) a well-respected lawyer will hurt K&S's recruiting as well, particularly their recruiting of SCOTUS clerks -- thoug h it's fair to ask whether many SCOTUS clerks, even the more conservative ones, would be okay with the DOMA representation.’”
WASHINGTON POST’S PLUM LINE BY GREG SARGENT – “I just got off the phone with leading gay rights advocate Richard Socarides, who had led the charge against the firm, and he tore into the decision by Clement — the Solicitor General under George W. Bush — by pointing out that it’s folly to present this as a principled stance.  Socarides made an important point: Even if the House GOP will be able to continue its defense of the law, the decision by King and Spalding signals that defending opposition to gay marriage is now politically toxic with the mainstream, a clear sign of the shift in public opinion on gay rights.”

SPEAKER BOEHNER’S OFFICE: DOMA DEFENSE WILL MOVE FORWARD (via Politico): “The Speaker is disappointed in the firm’s decision and its careless disregard for its responsibilities to the House in this constitutional matter. At the same time, Mr. Clement has demonstrated legal integrity, and we are grateful for his decision to continue representing the House. This move will ensure the constitutionality of this law is appropriately determined by the courts, rather than by the President unilaterally.”
REACTION FROM THE HILL - Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO) and John Conyers (D-MI) issued a statement: “King & Spalding's withdrawal from their representation of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives is yet another blow to House Republican Leaders’ efforts to defend DOMA in court. Whatever the firm's reasoning -- whether they now agree with the President and Attorney General that the law is legally and factually indefensible or have decided that defending DOMA is unacceptable to many of their partners and employees -- their withdrawal confirms what is increasingly obvious: it is patently wrong to defend this harmful law. Congress should pass the Respect for Marriage Act and repeal DOMA once and for all.”
CONTINUING COVERAGE ON THE EQM PODCAST – The Equality Matters’ podcast will discuss today’s news on the decision by King and Spalding as well as Paul Clement’s decision to move to another firm. The weekly Equality Matters podcast is available for free download on iTunes each week – it will be released tomorrow afternoon:

TENN. SENATE PUSHING TO PREVENT SCHOOL FROM DISCUSSING HOMOSEXUAILTY (via Equality Matters) – “The Tennessee Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 Wednesday to advance a bill that would prohibit the discussion of any “sexual orientation other than heterosexuality” in public elementary and middle schools.”

RUSH HOLT CALLS FOR END TO DOMA DEPORTATIONS (via Equality Matters) – “Rep. Rush Holt ( D-NJ) released a video last week at a Princeton University Marriage Equality event calling for an end to the deportation of married gay and lesbian foreign nationals under DOMA.”

NEW YORK MARRIAGE SUMMIT NEXT WEEK - Join DL21C'ers Tuesday May 3 to hear from the leaders of the Marriage Equality fight in New York State: Brian Ellner, Director, Campaign for Marriage Equality, an HRC initiative; Ross Levi, Executive Director, Empire State Pride Agenda; Cathy Marino-Thomas, Board President, Marriage Equality New York; Richard Socarides, President, Equality Matters.


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

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