The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) “has tapped tea party attorney Cleta Mitchell as the organization’s Minnesota lobbyist during the state’s contentious 2012 battle over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage,” the Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey reported yesterday. Mitchell — a partner at the D.C. firm Foley & Lardner LLP and a veteran of past campaigns against marriage equality — specializes in “helping candidates and groups exploit loopholes” in existing campaign finance laws and will lead the NOM’s effort in challenging disclosure rules surrounding ballot initiatives.
However, she’ll be leading the effort to undermine equality for gays and lesbians while working for a firm that prides itself on “commitment to diversity.” Foley & Lardner LLP devotes multiplepages of its website to highlighting its acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender attorneys and says it is “fully committed to an environment that attracts and sustains diversity of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion.” Below is a snapshot of just one of its diversity pages:
70 Corporations Come Out Against Defense of Marriage Act |
Seventy U.S. businesses are part of an amicus brief opposing the Defense of Marriage Act in Gill v. OPM. The companies point out that DOMA forces them to treat their employees differently based on their sexual orientation, and as a result, the businesses assume an administrative financial burden to correct the inequity. Several health insurance providers, as well as well-known nationwide companies such as CBS, Microsoft, Google, Levi Strauss, Nike, and Time Warner Cable have joined the brief. Here is the complete list:
A new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute finds that a sweeping majority of Americans believe that people who are transgender deserve full equality:
89 percent agree that transgender people deserve the same rights and protections as other Americans.
75 percent believe Congress should protect transgender people from employment discrimination.
74 percent support Congress’ expansion of hate crimes protections to the LGBT community.
69 percent of Americans understand what “transgender” means without any assistance.
These results confirm a study conducted by the Center for American Progress earlier this year, which found that nine out of 10 Americans believe transgender people already have employment non-discrimination protections, with similar majorities supporting the protections. Unfortunately, such protections do not exist in most states nor at the national level. As long as Republicans control the House of Representatives, they will likely continue to prevent the Employment Non-Discrimination Act from advancing.
Still, with a majority of the public supporting the protections and the endorsement of businesses of all sizes, it’s only a matter of time until transgender people are afforded the protections they deserve to participate fairly in society. Given the harsh consequences the trans community faces because of discrimination, that change can’t come soon enough.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 132 House Democrats have filed an amicus brief against the Defense of Marriage Act in the consolidated case of Massachusetts v. Dept. of Health and Human Services and Gill vs. Office of Personnel Management. The case is currently in the First Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal district court found Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional.
The members argue, in part, that the “pervasive history of discrimination” against gays and lesbians “confirms the need for a more exacting standard of [constitutional] review which the law cannot pass and explain how denying federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples “unjustifiably harms married gay and lesbian couples and their children”:
Section 3 also undermines legitimate child welfare interests by denying the children of married gay and lesbian couples “the immeasurable advantages that flow from the assurance of a stable family structure when afforded equal recognition under federal law.”… Section 3 deprives these children of financial benefits that otherwise would accrue to their families, including, for example, more favorable tax treatment or the ability to include all family members on a family health insurance plan. [...]
Children also suffer from harmful social stigma when the government treats their families as illegitimate and undesirable.
The brief also highlights the success of opposition groups like the National Organization for Marriage in derailing pro-equality legislation and notes, “some Members who support repeal have been told that they ‘do so at their own peril’ and targeted for aggressive opposition.” “These are not idle threats; those opposed to protections for gay men and lesbians have successfully mounted well funded political campaigns to punish those who have safeguarded the rights of this group or to prevent or reverse legal gains,” the brief says. “Gay men and lesbians have lacked the political power to counteract this organized opposition.”
2. Do you see yourself as ever reaching an understanding with the gay community on gay-rights issues?
A: You know, the gay community and those who support gay rights with respect to marriage in particular — no, I am not going to find an accommodation with that. That is a fundamental issue. People can live the life that they want to live, but now they are talking about changing the laws of the country to reflect a relationship that is not marriage. Calling it marriage does not make it marriage, and it undermines the institution itself. So, no, I can’t find an accommodation where there can be none.
AMERICAblog Gay points to a Brazilian ex-gay leader who has come out as gay and harshly condemned the ineffective therapy he spent decades promoting. Sergio Viula co-founded the Movement for the Healthy Sexuality (MOSES), but now says ex-gays don’t exist and promoting ex-gay therapy is “brainwashing” and an “act of violence” that relies upon reinforcing internalized homophobia. Viula is now encouraging young gay people to find spiritual outlets that affirm their sexual orientation:
VIULA: Nobody really quit being gay. There were relationships even within the group, between an activity and another, they would always find time for that. Can you figure out how much suffering to myself and to all of those who have already worked or been influenced by this kind of ‘ministry’? That’s enraging! And there are people repeating that stupid discourse until today. [...]
Yes, it was an act of violence against ourselves, as we had internalized the homophobia that surrounded us from early childhood, as well as against the others, because we reproduced that very homophobia which they had internalized by themselves long before. We just reinforced it even more. [...]
Religious conversion which does not admit and CELEBRATES your homosexuality does not deserve your time and talent. If you want to attend a church, search for one which is mature enough to even question the validity of its own religious statements. But, preferably, live your life without relying on existential braces whatever they are.
Viula is only the latest ex-gay leader to recant his previous teachings. John Smid of Love In Action recently began doing the same. The testimony these changed men share is important to highlight, but it does not undo the harm that ex-gay therapy continues to cause individuals every day. The desire to change one’s sexual orientation (and the belief that it is possible) is motivated by the anti-gay stigma present throughout society. Only by challenging that demonization will the harm ever come to an end.
DOMA Repeal Mark-Up Rolled Over To November 10 |
This morning, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee bumped back consideration of the Respect For Marriage Act — a measure that would allow the federal government to provide federal benefits to same-sex partners married in states that recognize marriage equality — to Nov. 10 in order to consider additional amendments to the legislation. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), all spoke out in favor of the bill, which now has 31 co-sponsors in the Senate. At one point, Feinstein paused her remarks to berate senators engaged in a separate conversation, “if you don’t mind, this is at least important to me,” she said. Watch their remarks:
The committee did report the nomination of out gay attorney Michael Fitzgerald to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to the full senate “with no opposition.”
Feinstein also appeared on MSNBC with Thomas Roberts to discuss DOMA’s impact on children in same-sex families:
Yesterday, the Michigan Republican-controlled Senate passed a “license to bully” bill, which not only neglects to protect students based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but creates a special exception for bullies who have a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) delivered an impassioned speech rebuking the Republicans for “explicitly outlining how to get away with bullying”:
WHITMER: So this might solve a political problem that Republicans have. but be clear: You are papering over the problem that is a reality faced by hundreds of kids in Michigan schools every day. In fact, not only does this not protect kids who are bullied, it further endangers them by legitimizing excuses for tormenting a student. And the saddest and sickest irony of this whole thing is that it’s called ‘Matt’s Safe School Law’. And after the way that you’ve gutted it, it wouldn’t have done a damn thing to save Matt!
This is worse than doing nothing! It’s a Republican license to bully.
On Tuesday, ThinkProgress reported on a letter-writing campaign by several Virginia residents to pressure the Miss Universe organization to condemn the homophobic remarks of Miss Virginia Nikki Poteet, who allegedly referred to a gay couple as “faggots” and “cocksuckers” during a party on Oct. 29. Yesterday, one of the individuals involved in the incident — Chris Cayton — received a response from the Miss Virginia USA pageant, deriding the story as hearsay that “should never have been published.” Below are some excerpts from the correspondence obtained by ThinkProgress:
MISS VIRGINIA PAGEANT: “We take those accusations seriously and have looked into this. Sadly, the claims are here say and unsubstantiated and therefore the article should never have been published. Nikki has been a terrific titleholder and has made many appearances across the state and beyond during her year of service. We have only received praise and good press from many people and organizations, as she has worked diligently as Miss Virginia USA 2011 and we will miss her greatly.”
CAYTON: “I was there to witness her actions Saturday night and was one of the ones she actually put her hands on and called a ‘faggot’. The text message in the article is from her cell phone number and she has yet to apologize for any wrong doing.”
MISS VIRGINIA PAGEANT: “I have heard Nikki’s side and I read your message. I imagine those that agree with you are your friends and it is a your group against Nikki and Aaron. So, since I was not present, I cannot make a judgment. I do not agree with slurs or violence and we of course take such accusations seriously. I am gay and I love Nikki and I firmly believe she is not homophobic. I am aware that she has not gotten along with her roommates for many months, so I question the motives of whoever sent the story to be published. It appears rather vindictive and serves no good purpose.
It is unfortunate that, during my last days as Miss Virginia USA, individuals would make these accusations against me, as I currently, and will continue to, show respect and support for diversity throughout the Commonwealth.
Those that know me will agree that these accusations are inconsistent with my character and the reputation that I have built thus far, not only as Miss Virginia USA, but as an educated, hard-working, independent woman.
House GOP Continues To Misuse Research Of Pro-Gay Rights Psychologist To Argue That Gay Is A Choice |
House Republicans defending the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act continue to misuse the findings of pro-gay-rights psychologist to argue that “sexual orientation is changeable and therefore not entitled to the same legal status as race or sex.” Professor Lisa Diamond of the University of Utah has previously criticized the GOP briefs for taking her findings out of context and this week delivered a sworn declaration that far from concluding that sexual orientation can be changed, her research found that it is a “stable trait that people express differently over the course of their lives.” Paul Clement, who is representing the House, continues to insist that he is quoting her accurately.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT’s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here’s what we’re reading this morning, but let us know what you’re checking out too. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin mark-up on the Respect for Marriage Act today, but Republicans are expected to hold the bill over for a week.
- Over 2,400 Pennsylvanians are calling on Sen. Bob Casey (D) to cosponsor the bill, which repeals the Defense of Marriage Act.