Statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell on Department of Justice’s Motion to Dismiss Federal Challenge to DOMA

September 18, 2009

Today, the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss in Gill v. Office of Personnel Development, a federal lawsuit challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which excludes same-sex couples from all federal benefits and protections given to heterosexual married couples.

A statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.

“We are disappointed that the Justice Department continues to advance what we believe are insupportable arguments in defense of DOMA, even while their brief acknowledges the President’s view that DOMA blatantly discriminates against same-sex couples and should be repealed. The Department missed an opportunity to acknowledge that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is wrong. DOMA is an unprecedented departure from the federal government’s practice of respecting couples who are legally married under state law. Never before has the federal government refused to provide benefits to legally married couples, and there is no reason for doing so now. We call on the President to exercise his leadership to urge Congress to move as quickly as possible on the DOMA repeal legislation introduced this week in Congress.”

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Poll: Gay Marriage Trailing in Maine

September 18, 2009

by Julie Bolcer | The Advocate

A new Research 2000/Daily Kos poll in Maine suggests that the state’s marriage equality law would be repealed if the issue went to voters today.

The survey of 600 likely voters between September 14 and 16 posed two questions pertaining to marriage equality, according to Daily Kos. In each instance, a greater percentage of respondents with a firm opinion chose an anti-equality position, although a pivotal percentage remained undecided.

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Indonesia: Prison Time for Gays

September 18, 2009

by Christopher Mangum | The Advocate

One Indonesian province passed a law this week mandating that individuals found guilty of homosexual conduct receive lashings and fines, or prison time.

According to the legislation, “Any person deliberately performing homosexuality or lesbianism is threatened with up to 100 cane lashes and a maximum fine of 1,000 grams of fine gold, or imprisonment of up to 100 months,” reports the Associated Press.

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Watch IFPC Spokesman Offend Elderly, Infertile, and Childless Couples

September 18, 2009

from OneIowa.org

At a September 16 debate on the merits of marriage equality in Iowa, an Iowa Family Policy Center spokesman questions why elderly, infertile, or childless couples want to marry.

“One might ask, why are you getting a marriage license anyway?”

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Fighting Bias in Virginia

September 18, 2009

Washington Post editorial

Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, says his erstwhile view that homosexuality is, like drug abuse, an evil that “government must restrain, punish, and deter” has changed since he wrote that in his now-notorious dissertation 20 years ago. State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate, has referred to himself as a “work in progress” on issues pertaining to sexual orientation, having campaigned against the state’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage — but only after he voted to put it on the ballot.

Both men profess to have evolved when it comes to issues regarding sexual orientation, as many Americans have. That implies at least some recognition by both candidates that society’s treatment of gay people is a critical civil rights question — maybe the critical one of this era.

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Primary Results Show Progress for Gay Candidates

September 18, 2009

By A. G. Sulzberger | New York Times

James Van Bramer and Daniel Dromm are both Democrats who built reputations for their activism in their Queens neighborhoods and their work in schools and libraries. They are also gay. And after victories in the primary election this week, they appear likely to join the City Council.

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State Drops Domestic-Partner Benefits

September 18, 2009

by Becky Pallack | Arizona Daily Star

Domestic partners are being eliminated from state employee benefits just a year after they were added to the benefits plan.

A bill signed by Gov. Jan Brewer redefined a “dependent,” canceling the rule change made by Gov. Janet Napolitano that allowed domestic partners to receive benefits.

Also eliminated are children of domestic partners, full-time students ages 23-24 and disabled adult dependents. The legislation is in legal review.

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Dozens of Groups to Justice Dept: End Faith-Based Hiring

September 18, 2009

by Dan Gilgoff | U.S. News and World Report

More than seven months after announcing that it would deal with the so-called hiring issue around faith-based programs on a “case by case basis,” the White House has given no indication of how its piecemeal policy is playing out.

Many conservative religious interests want Obama to continue George W. Bush’s policy of allowing faith-based groups to hire only fellow believers with federal funds. But many religious minorities, liberals, and secular groups are appalled at the thought that the Obama White House is extending the Bush-era policy. Growing ever more frustrated that the administration is delaying action on what they consider a bedrock constitutional issue, that coalition is stepping up its campaign to get Obama to officially reverse the Bush policy.

Here are excerpts from a letter the group send the White House and to the attorney general today, along with a full list of signatories:

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Oregon Killing of Transgendered Woman Unsolved 8 Years Later

September 18, 2009

by Ellen Gilmer | The Oregonian

Sgt. Mike O’Connell is waiting for a clue. A tip. A missing piece.

For eight years, the Washington County Sheriff’s detective has been investigating the county’s only known hate-crime killing.

On Aug. 26, 2001, the body of Lorenzo Okaruru, also known as Loni Kai, was found in a field near Southwest Farmington and Rood Bridge roads. Okaruru was biologically male but lived as a woman.

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Pelosi Worried about Angry Health Care Rhetoric

September 18, 2009

by Laurie Kellman | Associated Press

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she worries that angry rhetoric over President Barack Obama’s effort to remake the nation’s health care system could incite violence.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, the California Democrat was asked whether she was worried about the tone of the debate. She said it reminded her of the “frightening” rhetoric over gay rights that roiled San Francisco in the 1970s and culminated in the murders of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.

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