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Section 1: News & Politics

February 2010

US NEWS news analysis by Rex Wockner Obama promises DADT repeal in SOTU address, activists unimpressed

During the State of the Union address Jan. 27, President Barack Obama suggested the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military gay ban could be repealed this year. “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do,” he said. In general, gay activists and commentators were unimpressed with the two sentences because Obama didn’t give himself a deadline for ending DADT and he again ignored the fact that he could issue an executive order today suspending the ban’s enforcement while he waits for Congress to act. “No real specifics. We better get some soon,” said prominent gay blogger Andy Towle of Towleroad.com. “Obama just seemed to repeat the status quo.” National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said: “While we know the State of the Union speech aims to present broad visions, the next time President Obama speaks to or about our community, he must provide a concrete blueprint for his leadership and action moving forward -- this includes his willingness to stop the discharges happening on his watch until Congress can fulfill its responsibility to overturn the law. The time for broad statements is over.” At least one prominent gay blogger, however, liked what he heard. “I think it was good,” said AMERICAblog’s John Aravosis, who has unrelentingly criticized Obama for failure to deliver on his big campaign promises to LGBT people. “The President said ‘this year,’” Aravosis wrote. “That’s a timeline, baby. The president said he would work with Congress and the military. He didn’t call on Congress to act, putting the burden on them, which many of us feared he might. He took responsibility for working with Congress and the military. That’s good. He said ‘repeal.’ He didn’t say ‘change,’ which he and his people have been saying a lot lately, especially in front of straight audiences. ... He added the ‘it’s the right thing to do’ remark. That wasn’t in his prepared statements. It’s subtle, but it means he knows this specific promise matters. ... Now he’s on the clock.” The Log Cabin Republicans, meanwhile, were wholly unimpressed with the president’s speech.

“President Obama is more concerned about protecting the rights of terrorists than he is about the rights of gay and lesbian Americans who are putting their lives on the line every day fighting to preserve peace and democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said spokesman Charles Moran. Writer Joe Jervis of the Joe. My. God. blog said Moran’s rhetoric was out of line. “We’re all unhappy with the whole DADT thing,” Jervis wrote. “But we’re not trolling Free f---ing Republic for our talking points. SRSLY. I’m thinking those GOProud guys totally made the right call by ditching your tired ass. And f--- you for making me say something nice about GOProud. SRSLY.” GOProud is a conservative national LGBT Republican organization that broke off from the purportedly less conservative Log Cabin Republicans. FreeRepublic.com is an “online gathering place for independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web,” the site says. The Family Research Council responded to the State of the Union address by warning that allowing gays to be out in the military will lead to an increase in sex crimes. “Forcing soldiers to cohabit with people who view them as sexual objects would inevitably lead to increased sexual tension, sexual harassment, and even sexual assault,” the group said in an action alert.

Hawaii House kills civil-union bill that passed Senate

Hawaii’s House of Representatives killed a civil-union bill in an unrecorded voice vote Jan. 29. The measure, which extends all statelevel rights and obligations of marriage to gay and straight civil-union couples, had passed the Senate 18-7 on Jan. 22. Last year, the House had passed the bill 33-17, but Senate tinkering with the measure’s language made it necessary for the House to vote again. Reports said legislators may have been reluctant to deal with the issue in an election year. Republican Gov. Linda Lingle had not taken a position on the bill, but the Senate vote on it was veto-proof. The House needs 34 votes to override a veto. Last year, when 33 legislators voted for the measure, one member who favors the bill was absent. The bill states, in part, “A party to a civil union shall be included in any definition or use of the terms ‘spouse’, ‘family’, ‘immediate family’, ‘dependent’, ‘next of kin’ and other terms that denote the spousal relationship, as those terms are used throughout the law.”

Lawyers Ted Olson, left, and David Boies outside the Prop 8 trial. Photo by Rex Wockner The measure could be reconsidered in the House this year, but only if two-thirds of legislators vote to reopen the matter.

Federal Prop 8 trial pauses

The trial in the federal case against Proposition 8 paused Jan. 27 after the final witness testified at U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Judge Vaughn Walker plans to review the evidence, then call the attorneys back for closing arguments, likely in March. Gay lawyers, activists and others who followed the trial predicted, nearly unanimously, that gays won the case in a landslide. “What stands out the most after having seen all the witnesses on both sides is how overwhelmingly one-sided the evidence in this case turned out to be,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who covered the trial for the Pam’s House Blend blog. “The plaintiffs, represented by some of the most skilled attorneys in the country, laid out a well-crafted, meticulous case, backed by the testimony of half a dozen of the most respected historians, psychologists, economists, and political scientists who study marriage, sexual orientation, and child development.” Minter said. “Using the Prop 8 proponents’ own outrageous and inflammatory words, ads, and emails, the plaintiffs powerfully demonstrated that Prop 8 was a direct product of hostility, fear-mongering, and demonization of lesbians and gay men. And through the deeply moving testimony of the plaintiffs and other members of our community, they proved beyond question

“We do not expect to win at the trial level, but with God’s help, at least five members of the current (U.S.) Supreme Court will have the courage to defend our Constitution from this grave attack.” — National Organization for Marriage Executive Director Brian Brown in a Jan. 8 letter to supporters about the ongoing federal trial in San Francisco over Proposition 8. The case, featuring superstar attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, could lead to legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide.

that denying same-sex couples the right to marry causes great harm to LGBT people and their children.” The lawyers defending Prop 8, on the other hand, failed miserably, Minter and many others said. “Stacked up against this mountain of facts, scholarship, and science, the Prop 8 proponents -- though represented by fine attorneys -- were not able to come forward with a case of their own,” Minter said. “Before trial, they dropped nearly every witness they had planned to present and relied entirely on two poorly qualified, ill-prepared expert witnesses, neither of whom was able to establish that banning same-sex couples from getting married has any rational or legitimate purpose relating to procreation, child rearing, tradition, or any of the other justifications that have been offered in the past in support of anti-gay discrimination.” The gay side is represented by famous lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, who argued that Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law. To buttress their case, they attempted to demonstrate a number of things that intersect with precise legal considerations or constructs: that there’s no coherent reason for the government to ban same-sex marriage, that Prop 8 passed primarily because California voters are prejudiced, that gays and lesbians need government help to fight the discrimination and persecution that continue to harm them, that being gay is usually not a choice and sexual orientation is usually immutable, that gay couples’ children fare as well as straight couples’ children, and that so-called traditional marriage has undergone transformations throughout history. Passed by voters in November 2008, Prop 8 amended the California Constitution to re-ban same-sex marriage just 4 1/2 months after the state Supreme Court legalized it. Olson and Boies’ lawsuit is ultimately aimed at the U.S. Supreme Court, where it could end up as soon as a year from now, after a stop at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If successful, the lawsuit could bring about the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, which would be the mother of all gay rights victories. If unsuccessful, the lawsuit could have

TTUS NEWS continued page 8

ACCESSline, Iowa's LGBT Newspaper, February 2010 Issue, Volume 24 No 2  

ACCESSlineIOWA - Iowa’s LGBT+ Newspaper. Gay and lesbian, bi, trans, and HIV+ news for Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo/Cedar...

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