BREAKING: Bush Appointee Finds DOMA Unconstitutional |
Moments ago, Judge Jeffery White of the District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause in a case brought by Karen Golinski. Golinski, represented by Lambda Legal, “was denied spousal health benefits by her employer, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.” White was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush in 2002. The decision represents a serious setback for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), whose Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) defended DOMA after the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the law. Read the full opinion here. (HT: GinnyLaRoe)
The Court has ruled that considerations of discrimination against people based on sexual orientation should be held to heightened scrutiny for all four factors that determine such scrutiny:
HISTORY OF DISCRIMINATION: The first factor courts consider is whether the class has suffered a history of discrimination. There is no dispute in the record that lesbians and gay men have experienced a long history of discrimination.
ABILITY TO CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIETY: Similarly, there is no dispute in the record or the law that sexual orientation has no relevance to a person’s ability to contribute to society.
IMMUTABILITY: Regardless of the evidence that a tiny percentage of gay men or lesbians may experience some flexibility along the continuum of their sexuality or the scientific consensus that sexual orientation is unchangeable, the Court finds persuasive the holding in the Ninth Circuit that sexual orientation is recognized as a defining and immutable characteristic because it is so fundamental to one’s identity.
POLITICAL POWERLESSNESS: The Court finds that the unequivocal evidence demonstrates that, although not completely politically powerless, the gay and lesbian community lacks meaningful political power… Although this factor is not an absolute prerequisite for heightened scrutiny, the Court finds the evidence and the law support the conclusion that gay men and lesbians remain a politically vulnerable minority.
The Court rebuked Congress for BLAG’s argument that caution should be taken with issues that can be socially divisive:
Here, too, this Court finds that Congress cannot, like an ostrich, merely bury its head in the sand and wait for danger to pass, especially at the risk of permitting continued constitutional injury upon legally married couples. The fact that the issue is socially divisive does nothing to relieve the judiciary of its obligation to examine the constitutionality of the discriminating classifications in the law.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said he may be open to supporting the campaign to include marriage equality in the Democrat’s 2012 party platform, but stopped short of fully endorsing the effort during a radio interview this afternoon. “Perhaps, I haven’t given a whole lot of thought to that,” O’Malley said in a response to a question from SiriusXM’s Michelangelo Signorile, and stressed that the party must prioritize job creation “in order to get re-elected.”
The governor, a supporter of same-sex marriage, was at a loss for words, however, when asked what he would say to President Obama to help him evolve on marriage equality:
O’MALLEY: The..I don’t know. I wouldn’t. I guess, what I would. I don’t know that I’d presume to. What I believe President Obama is trying to do is the same thing that public servants of good will are trying to do on this issue in many different places…I think what all of us try to do in the short time we have to serve….what we try to do is take action and forge consensus on the front end of the wave.
The Maryland House of Delegates passed a marriage equality bill last week and the Senate is expected to take-up the measure as soon as tomorrow.
President Obama’s been making headlines for singing in recent weeks, whether it’s Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” or pulling out some soul to serenade his hometown with a rendition of “Sweet Home Chicago.” But just as Bill Clinton had his saxaphone, the current First Family, POTUS in particular, has made a regular habit of rocking out in public over the years, and I don’t just mean singing along to “This Land Is Your Land” at his pre-Inauguration festivities. So here’s a guide to the notable song choices and dance moves the Obamas have employed since the family hit the national stage for real. They may not be ready for The Voice or So You Think You Can Dance (having seen them do an Inaugural Ball shuffle, I can attest to this in person), but for a couple of middle-aged folks, the Obamas seem like a decent couple to bring along for a night of karaoke:
1. “If I Only Had a Brain,” Gridiron Dinner, 2006: Sadly, I couldn’t track down video of this, but the members of the Gridiron Club had Obama, then in his freshman term in the Senate, sing a parody version of the Scarecrow’s song from the Wizard of Oz, including these lyrics: “I’m aspiring to greatness, but somehow I feel weightless, a freshman’s sad refrain. I could be a great uniter, making ethics rules much tighter, if I only had McCain.”
2. “Chain of Fools,” Detroit, 2008: On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama busted out some Aretha in honor of the hometown diva. And man does he sound good:
3. “See You Again,” Inauguration Weekend, 2009: So it might not be what she would choose to listen to, but props to First Lady Michelle Obama for knowing the words to Miley Cyrus’s best song and rocking out along with her daughters at the new administration’s Kids’ Inaugural Concert. With any luck, Obama Karaoke can be a multi-generational affair.
4. “Happy Birthday,” Kennedy Center, 2009: He’s no sexy Marilyn singing happy birthday to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was undergoing treatment for cancer as he celebrated his 77th birthday. But it’s pretty funny to note that absent a podium, Obama has a tendency to conduct a pretend orchestra. Later that year, Obama apparently serenaded Armando Gomez, a Chicago businessman, with the same song at a Cinco De Mayo party at the White House.
5. Fiesta Latina, the White House, 2009: POTUS brought out some slightly more sophisticated dance moves when he was partnered up with Thalia later that fall at a celebration of Latin American music at the White House:
But seriously, someone’s gotta put that goofy head wiggle on lockdown before Obama’s ready for the bigtime:
6. “Move Your Body,” Alice Dean Middle School, Washington, DC, 2011: At least when FLOTUS pulls a out the dorky mom dance moves, she does it for a good cause. And there’s a limit to how dorky you can appear when you’re rocking out to a song that’s part of your partnership with Beyonce Knowles to get kids exercising.
7. “Let’s Stay Together,” The Apollo Theater in New York, 2012: Obama brought the Al Green a month before Valentine’s Day. Turns out speechifying has a tendency to turn you a little husky. Maybe Obama can take vocal cord care tips from Adele:
8. “Sweet Home Chicago,” Chicago, 2012: When he turns on his pipes, the President tends to choose soul or blues. It’s nice of his adopted hometown to provide him with a theme song that’s right in his wheelhouse.
Chicago Lawmaker To Introduce Transgender Protections Ordinance |
Chicago Alderman Proco Joe Moreno will “introduce an ordinance that establishes a transgender issues commission in the Chicago Police Department as well as set guidelines for police to follow while handling transgender people,” Windy City Times reports. The ordinance will “mandate a policy for interacting with transgender detainees and set up a mayoral-appointed commission to oversee the treatment of transgender arrestees.” The policy comes after years of complaints from transgender people “who have reported being harassed or misgendered by police officers.”
By Kellan Baker, Guest Blogger on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has announced two new grant competitions focusing on connecting HIV-positive transgender women of color with health care services, including primary care and HIV-related care.
The first grant opportunity, which is designed to improve the overall quality of HIV care for transgender women of color, will award each of up to eight grantees $300,000 annually for five years. The demonstration sites will develop, implement, and evaluate innovative programs designed to connect these women with timely and appropriate care. These programs will also help them stay in touch with providers who can provide a range of primary and HIV-related services.
The second opportunity will fund an Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center that will coordinate capacity-building activities, provide technical assistance in clinical and cultural competence around care for HIV-positive transgender women of color, and oversee the dissemination of findings from the demonstration sites.
The new grants are part of a growing number of initiatives by the Department of Health and Human Services that specifically focus on the transgender population. In September 2011, HRSA awarded a grant to Fenway Health, an LGBT community health center in Boston, to establish a National Training and Technical Assistance Center that will help other community health centers serve the LGBT population. Also in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $55 million over five years to 34 community-based organizations to expand HIV prevention services for transgender youth of color, as well as young gay and bisexual men of color.
More such initiatives are sorely needed. Transgender people frequently encounter discrimination in aspects of everyday life such as employment, education, and housing, and research indicates that they are less likely than the general population to have access to health insurance and culturally competent health care. Though no national surveys currently ask about gender identity or transgender status, the limited research on transgender health that exists demonstrates that transgender people, particularly people of color and those who are poor, young, sex workers, or homeless, experience substantial health disparities. Estimated HIV prevalence rates among the transgender population range from 14 to 69 percent, with reported rates among African American transgender women in excess of 56 percent.
In addition to improving data collection on the demographics and health needs of the transgender population, more research is needed into every aspect of transgender health. Research priorities include the overall health of transgender people across the lifespan, further demonstrations of the safety and medical necessity of transition-related care, and investigations into the role that discrimination plays in driving disparities such as high rates of HIV and AIDS.
Eligible entities for the new HRSA grants include non-profits, community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, community health centers, state and local governments, and Indian tribes. Both programs are funded by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program as Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS). Applications are due by April 16, 2012.
POLL: 50 Percent Of Washington Voters Support Marriage Equality |
A new Public Policy Polling survey shows that voters in Washington state are split on whether to uphold marriage equality, with 50 percent saying they’ll support the new law and 46 percent saying they’d vote to repeal it. Still, 78 percent back some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples and even 59 percent of Republicans support offering civil unions. Opponents of the law are currently collecting signatures to place Referendum 74 on the ballot, but in the meantime, marriage equality is set to take effect June 7.
Tennessee’s Republican Governor To Lawmakers: Drop The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill |
Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Haslam is calling on lawmakers to drop the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a measure that would prohibit public elementary and middle schools from discussing sexual activity that is not related to “natural human reproduction science.” “I’ve said before I don’t think that should be a priority of the legislature,” Haslam said yesterday. “I think there’s other things that we can and should be focused on right now, and I’ve been up front about that from the very beginning.” Haslam did not say if he would veto the measure, which will likely come up next week. (HT: OnTopMagazine)
On The Tonight Show last night, Jay Leno challenged Bill O’Reilly about Rick Santorum’s comments on social issues: “He doesn’t like condoms, he doesn’t like birth control, I don’t understand this anti-gay thing. It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Leno said. O’Reilly responded by defending Santorum, saying that people should disregard the “dopey past comments” he has made because he’s “inexperienced”:
O’REILLY: I think people should define their religion and why they believe and what they believe if you’re running for president. I think they should do that, but I don’t think they should be saying, “Well, my religion is better than yours,” or anything like that. Look, Santorum is a guy is who is inexperienced in this arena. He got drawn into a few things. He’s made some past comments. Everybody has dopey past comments… so we have to cut him a little slack… He’d be wise to say, “Look, I said what I said, now let’s get into the economy,” and that’s where he should go.
In fact, O’Reilly seemed to think candidates’ histories should be disregarded entirely, suggesting also that Newt Gingrich’s conversion to Catholicism made him an entirely different person. Watch the interview:
Tennessee Activists Hold Anti-Gay Lawmaker Accountable |
Equality activists in Tennessee are hoping to unseat State Rep. John DeBerry (D), the representative who sponsored a bill to prohibit gay and lesbian adoption in the state and “voted for the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.” The group Tennessee Equality Project claims that DeBerry’s voting record doesn’t reflect the new make-up of his district, which includes many LGBT voters, and is circulating a letter “to raise money to support someone to run against Deberry. The goal is to find a socially liberal candidate and raise at least $50,000.” DeBerry seemed a little shocked by the action, telling a local Fox affiliate, “I respected everybody. If I’m the bad guy, simply for having an opinion just like everybody else has an opinion, then so be it.” Watch the story:
Last night, the Georgia House Judiciary subcommittee tabled “a bill that would provide workplace protections to all state employees, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers,” GA Voice reports. During the hearing, Tanya Ditty, state director for Concerned Women for America, warned lawmakers that the measure would protect 23 different sexual orientations and even allow pedophiles to teach in the schools. She argued that male cross dressers would be allowed to use women’s restrooms and “exploit the vulnerability of women and children”:
DITTY: There are 23 sexual orientations that fit under this definition and if this bill became law, then what we would be protecting for public employees is not only heterosexuality, bisexuality, pedophilia, transsexuality, transvestitism, I’m not going to read them all. Voyeurism, exhibitionism, feetism, zoophilia, necrophilia, klismaphilia and the list goes on. I teach in the public school system and I wonder if this would impact the public school system. And we have parents who bring their kids to school everyday and expect the school to protect them. And what’s going to protect our children if someone that is a pedophiliac comes in and gets a teaching job, is a bus driver, is a custodian, and they can be people that just want to prey on people and they will be protected with this law.
Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, said the measure is still “very much alive,” but faces “a huge challenge to get it through this year.” Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, “covering 44 percent of the United States population.” Sixteen states or 33 percent of the population is covered by a statewide law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.”
An openly-gay hair stylist in New Mexico is protesting Gov. Susana Martinez’s (R) opposition to same-sex marriage by refusing to style her hair unless she changes her position on the issue. KOB Eyewitness News 4 reports that Antonio Darden, “a popular stylist who runs Antonio’s Hair Studio in Santa Fe, said he cut Martinez’ hair three times” but is now refusing to see his famous client:
“The governor’s aides called not too long ago, wanting another appointment to come in,” Darden said. “Because of her stances and her views on this I told her aides no. They called the next day, asking if I’d changed my mind about taking the governor in and I said no again.”
The governor has said she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that does not cut it with Darden.
“I think it’s just equality, dignity for everyone,” the popular hair stylist said. “I think everybody should be allowed the right to be together. My partner and I have been together for 15 years.”
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 as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.