Bill Clarifying Rights of Same-Sex Couples Married Outside of California Passes Key Committee

July 9, 2009

Great new from Equality California!

Sacramento – Today SB 54, which clarifies the rights of same-sex couples married outside of California, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee in a 7-3 vote.

The bill, introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), underscores that same-sex couples married outside the state before the passage of Proposition 8 on November 5, 2008, are entitled to full recognition as married spouses in California, regardless of whether they married in-state or out-of-state. That rule is consistent with existing law, including the California Supreme Court’s prior holding in In re Marriage Cases that California cannot treat marriages differently based on whether they were performed in-state or out-of-state.

SB 54 also confirms that same-sex couples married outside of California after November 5, 2008, must be given all of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of spouses under California law, with the sole exception of the designation of “marriage.”

“This bill is designed to eliminate both the confusion and anxiety felt by same-sex couples in the aftermath of Prop. 8, which singles out and treats a minority group unequally under the law,” said Geoff Kors, executive director for Equality California. “Unless we restore the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, Californians will live under an unequal, flawed and arbitrary system.
Although Proposition 8 prevents California from designating same-sex couples who marry in another jurisdiction on or after Nov. 5, 2008, as “married,” the Court’s decision in Strauss v. Horton requires the state to give those couples all of the substantive protections of marriage.

“Proposition 8 not only creates a separate and unequal category for one minority group of Californians, but also creates confusion for same-sex couples who married outside of California,” said Senator Leno. “Since we cannot remedy this confusion by restoring full marriage equality for all Californians, we are forced to clarify the rights and protections afforded to these couples and their families in state law. As defined by the Court, Proposition 8 only denies same-sex couples the official designation of the term “marriage.”

SB 54 will move to the Assembly floor in the coming weeks.

To find out more information about EQCA’s legislation, visit

Massachusetts Files Suit Challenging Anti-Gay Federal Law Denying Protections to Married Same-sex Couples and Their Children

July 9, 2009

A Statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell
07.09.09—Yesterday, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed suit against the federal government challenging the constitutionality of the anti-gay federal so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). The suit targets DOMA Section 3, the section that denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples, charging that Congress overstepped its authority in enacting the measure. The Commonwealth argues in the case that DOMA undermines states’ efforts to recognize marriages and represents the codification of an impermissible “animus towards gay and lesbian people.”

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Under Pressure

July 9, 2009

Posted: 07.09.09

We all know that the President has a lot on his plate—some very weighty issues, and many of his priorities we support wholeheartedly—but LGBT equality cannot wait to be the dessert course on even the most carefully planned four or eight-year presidential menu.

This administration prides itself on being “the most open and accessible administration in American history,” and the White House website invites us to make our voices heard. Visiting shows us the great variety of ways to speak up—by phone and TTY/TDD, e-mail, fax, and by old-fashioned snail mail (which takes even longer than just mailing because of print mail security screening). Let’s take President Obama and his administration at their word and do exactly that: make our voices heard.

I promised I would provide concrete steps for keeping the pressure on the President and his administration, and here are five items that need action from this President NOW. You get a gold star and my unending esteem if you do all of them!

Please contact the President and urge him to:

  1. State now that he is ready to sign the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as soon as Congress passes it. His public support of this bill will help get it passed in Congress. Please also contact your Representative in favor of swift passage of an ENDA that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity, which is long overdue and still needed. ENDA is pending in the House.

  2. Make good on his promise that passage of the Uniting All Families Act (UAFA) is one of the top priorities for the Department of Justice. UAFA is a proposed bill that would provide same-sex couples with the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex couples. If passed, UAFA would allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents to file a visa petition on behalf of their foreign national same-sex permanent partners, allowing them to immigrate to the U.S. and adjust their status to become lawful permanent residents. The Obama Administration has explicitly stated that it supports passage of this bill. Please also contact your Representative in favor of passage of UAFA.

  3. Use his presidential “stop-loss” power to halt discharges under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy, and do all in his power to press for passage of the legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that is now pending in Congress.

  4. Do everything in his power to repeal the nefarious and so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), including supporting congressional repeal and instructing the Department of Justice to stop defending this unconstitutional law which harms families.

  5. Continue to press for health care reform—and we need to strongly urge President Obama to ensure that any reform that occurs does not discriminate against LGBT people. Politics should not trump the health of the American people.

As we have all seen in recent weeks, there are numerous ways to hold President Obama and his administration accountable for providing the leadership and visionary change that was promised throughout his campaign. In the past few weeks, many of us have done all of these: taking action with our wallets and our voices, in the press, on the web, in our communities.

Let’s keep that up so that our voices swell in unison and cannot be mistaken for anything other than the cry for equality that we deserve.

In solidarity,

kate signature

Calif. Bill Would OK Out-of-State Gay Marriages

July 9, 2009

The California Legislature is getting back into the Proposition 8 fight with a bill that would recognize possibly thousands of same-sex marriages performed outside of California before the measure was passed.

SB 54 , introduced late last week by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, also would ensure that gay and lesbian couples who have married in other states or countries since Nov. 5 — when Prop 8 became official — receive all the rights and obligations opposite-sex California couples enjoy, with the exception of the designation of “marriage.”

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Veterans Call Out Obama On ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

July 9, 2009

Morning Edition, July 9, 2009 ·

In 1948, President Harry Truman signed an executive order ending racial segregation in the armed forces. In the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama promised to end another kind of discrimination in the military: the long-standing ban on gay service members. But nearly six months into his presidency, he has yet to make good on that promise. Congress also has taken no action.

Now the latest push is coming, at least in part, from elsewhere. Former Army linguist Jarrod Chlapowski told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that he and others hope to make a national cause of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits openly gay people from serving in the military. The Clinton-era law has led to the dismissal of more than 13,000 gay service members.

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