Monday, August 23, 2010
Meg Whitman surprised no one when she announced this weekend that if she becomes governor of California, she will defend Proposition 8 in court, something Schwarzenegger declined to do. However many are questioning whether the timing of both the election and the appeal to the Ninth Circuit would allow Whitman to do so. Karen Ocamb spoke to Lambda Legal's Jon Davidson:
“At the time of the oral argument that has been scheduled for December 6th, even were Whitman or Cooley to have won the election, they will not have taken office – the new officeholders don’t take office until Jan. 3. 2011. In addition, at that point, the time to file an appeal from Judge Walker’s ruling will have long passed. So, even were they to win, they would not be able to appeal Judge Walker’s ruling if Schwarzenegger and Brown do not – and they have indicated they will not. In addition, Whitman and Cooley would not be able to participate in the oral arguments as parties.Davidson adds that there is precedent for newly-elected officials filing amicus briefs when their predecessors chose not to do so.
"They might seek to file amicus (friend-of-the-court briefs). The deadline for filing such briefs is 7 days after the brief is due from the party you are supporting. Amicus briefs in support of the proponents of Prop. 8 are due September 24th. It would be unusual for a candidate for political office to file an amicus brief on a measure that they might be in more of a position to weigh in on were they elected, though I guess it could happen. If they get elected, Whitman and/or Cooley might also seek to file an amicus brief after their election or after they are sworn in, which would be after the oral argument. They would need to seek permission to file late. There is no way of knowing whether the Ninth Circuit judges hearing the case would grant such a request to file late.
A group of LGBT activists and allies have formed Catholics For Equality. From their about page:
Drawing on the rich tradition of Catholic social justice teachings, American Catholics are among the strongest supporters of equality for LGBT people of any religious group in the U.S. Yet the official voice of the hierarchy is increasingly one favoring discrimination and opposing just, humane, and reasonable efforts to secure legal equality for LGBT Americans. Far too often, that anti-equality voice is portrayed as representing the values of American Catholics. We believe this trend is a repudiation of Catholic teaching about the equal dignity of every person as well as the American and constitutional values of fairness and equality under the law. Catholics for Equality was founded in 2010 to support, educate, and mobilize equality-supporting Catholics to advance LGBT equality at federal, state, and local levels. We’re here to help pro-equality Catholics make a difference.Catholics For Equality's board of directors includes our own Father Tony Adams and DC activist Phil Attey, who also serves as Executive Director. Yesterday the Catholic News Agency took note of the group in a fairly even-handed story. An excerpt:
Issues listed on the Catholics for Equality website include “marriage equality.” Claiming that same-sex “marriage” does not coerce any religious faith, it invokes the “separation of Church and State” and says “we affirm civil marriage for same-sex couples throughout the United States.” The group criticizes the U.S. bishops’ opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and advocates opening military service to open homosexuals. “Catholics in the United States live in this social context that allows the free exercise of conscience rather than enforced scriptural fundamentalism or bishops’ and pastors’ exhortations in making decisions regarding homosexuality and gay rights— as is often exercised in Protestant fundamentalist and evangelical denominations and now by increasingly doctrinaire Catholic bishops,” the website argues. It also claims that Catholic priests rarely mention homosexuality or homosexual issues in sermons “except when forced to by the bishops,” saying this coercion happened during the campaign to pass California’s Proposition 8 and Maine’s Proposition 1. Both successful ballot measures restored the definition of marriage to be a union of a man and a woman.
Over at the New Republic, James Downie has posted an excellent timeline of President Obama's evolving positions on same-sex marriage. I'm excerpting Downie's piece below, but do go read the entire article.
1996: "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."
1998: "Undecided." (Candidate poll response.)
2004: "Strategically, I think we can get civil unions passed. I think that to the extent that we can get the rights, I'm less concerned about the name."
2006: "I believe that American society can choose to carve out a special place for the union of a man and a woman as the unit of child rearing most common to every culture. "
2007: "If I were advising the civil rights movement back in 1961 about its approach to civil rights, I would have probably said it’s less important that we focus on an anti-miscegenation law than we focus on a voting rights law and a non-discrimination and employment law and all the legal rights that are conferred by the state."
2008: "I have stated my opposition to [Prop 8]. I think it is unnecessary. I believe that marriage is between a man and woman and I am not in favor of gay marriage, but when you're playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that that is not what America is about."
2010: "He does oppose same-sex marriage, but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples. He supports civil unions. That’s been his position throughout. So nothing has changed." (White House adviser David Alexrod responding to the overturn of Prop 8.)
Partially in response to the above article, New Republic senior editor Richard Just today published a demand that the president get onboard with marriage equality. From his essay titled Disgrace, which compares Obama's position on same-sex marriage to that of President Woodrow Wilson's recalcitrance in supporting women's suffrage:
The final lesson from Wilson is that what a president says and does matters. The day after Wilson’s January 9 statement, the House endorsed women’s suffrage by two votes. Wilson, albeit years late to the cause, would go on to lobby senators and, eventually, the governor of Tennessee, which became the final state to ratify the nineteenth amendment. Obama, meanwhile, seems to have convinced himself that he can’t make a difference on gay marriage, so why wade into the issue? But, while he may not realize it, Obama is already leading on gay marriage; he is just leading in the wrong direction. Every time Obama or a surrogate reiterates his position, it reinforces the idea that gay marriage is a bit too scary for the political mainstream. Worse, Obama’s stance seems to be a way of conveying to the country that he knows a lot of people still aren’t completely comfortable admitting gays and lesbians as full participants in American life, and that this is OK because he isn’t either. It is about the most cynical gesture you can imagine from an allegedly liberal leader—and we deserve better. I am speaking to you as an American, Mr. Obama.
Christine Pelosi: Social Security Turns 75: Democrats Celebrate While Tea Party Republicans Grab the Ax
The next time someone asks you about the difference between the parties, just remind them that when Social Security turned 75, Democrats celebrated while Tea Party Republicans grabbed the ax.Corporations that play fast and loose with one set of laws are likely to cut corners on others. Scarce inspection resources should be targeted at them rather than at the good eggs.