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Lawrence O'Donnell Looks at the DOMA Hearing and the Al Franken Takedown of 'Focus on the Family': VIDEO


Lawrence O'Donnell looks at yesterday's DOMA hearing and Al Franken's takedown of Tom Minnery at Focus on the Family, and asks Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Equality Council, "will any facts matter at all in this debate among the opponents of marriage equality?"


In related news, EJ Graff at the Atlantic has a lengthy look at the DOMA hearings and how the atmosphere has changed in 15 years since DOMA was enacted:

Except for the fact that some of the witnesses were talking about lawfully recognized same-sex spouses, no one said anything very different from what was being said 15 years ago, when DOMA was passed.

And yet the hearing was completely different from anything imaginable in 1996. It's hard, now, to remember that foreign country, which was almost unrecognizably hostile to lesbians and gay men. No U.S. state or world nation had yet begun marrying same-sex couples. The threat against which DOMA was supposed to defend was a Hawaii lawsuit that, for a couple of years, looked as if it might open the door to same-sex marriages in that state -- which might then infect other states, as mainland same-sex pairs got married in Maui and then asked to be recognized at home. The Hawaii lawsuit had hit the LGBT advocacy community, and the nation at large, by complete surprise: no gay organization supported it, and most of the leading LGBT advocates wished it didn't exist at all.

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  1. More evidence that Obama has a strategy -- and it's working! Let's get behind it.

    Posted by: Jack | Jul 21, 2011 9:09:13 AM

  2. I actually agree with Jack. If Obama were championing a federal strategy for marriage equality right now, both he and marriage equality would likely be in worse shape.

    As it is, he told his Justice Dept. to stop defending DOMA (a huge move with major implications for *every* case that involves gay discrimination) almost immediately after Judge Tauro made the decisive legal blow against it. (In other words, in Congress and in our courts, marriage equality has a clearer path than ever before.) Not too shabby for 2.5 years' time!

    The Atlantic has a nice run-down of why Tauro's decision was so crucial here:

    Posted by: AdamA | Jul 21, 2011 10:41:26 AM

  3. More evidence that Obama has Internet shills -- and they're working! Hope the money's worth it.

    Sadly, Obama does have a plan and it goes like this:

    1) Promise to repeal DOMA.
    2) Don't do it for the two years that Democrats are in control.
    3) Instead, defend DOMA in court by comparing the marriage of gay couples to incest and pedophilia.
    4) Refuse to back down by lying that you have no choice but to defend unconstitutional laws.
    5) When the LGBT community fights you non-stop for two years, wait it out because it's likely the Republicans will take back at least Congress in 2010.
    6) Republicans take back Congress in 2010.
    7) Suddenly announce that you don't have to defend unconstitutional laws after all.
    8) Now support the repeal of DOMA, two years after you said you would, after viciously defending it and defaming married couples and gay families, now that repeal is impossible, send out enough Democrats to make voting Democratic attractive to the LGBT Democrats who aren't paying attention, reap the benefits.

    Great plan, Jack! And it's working exactly as planned! Tragically.

    Posted by: ohplease | Jul 21, 2011 10:42:32 AM

  4. I'd like to see more of Jennifer.

    A suggestion; please don't tell your kids that people want to tear your family apart, no matter how true that may be.

    They're kids & are entitled to the luxury of being kids. You can't protect them forever but they're 9!!!

    Posted by: Pete n SFO | Jul 21, 2011 11:21:52 AM

  5. @ OhPlease,

    Wait it out in the hopes that the Republicans will take back Congress in 2010? You're assuming ill will toward gay people on Obama's part. The only thing you're showing by your assumption is that you're deeply paranoid.

    Posted by: Artie Rimbaud | Jul 21, 2011 11:54:46 AM

  6. finally glad though we are using the argument that the right has used for years on this issue. Doma hurts kids. The opponents have always talked about how much harm gay marriage does to we have finally woken up and pointed out that in reality gay marriage rights help protect kids (with gay parents).

    Posted by: Paul | Jul 21, 2011 12:04:40 PM

  7. @ OhPlease again,

    By the way, it was a nice touch to add "Hope the money's worth it." So obviously you're claiming that it would be impossible for anyone to disagree agree with you because they honestly thought that you were wrong. You really believe that the only way someone could possibly disagree with you is if they were being paid to do it. Take a moment and think about the mental state of anyone who would make that claim. I hope you seek the psychiatric help you need.

    Posted by: Artie Rimbaud | Jul 21, 2011 12:07:37 PM

  8. OhPlease, you're assumption that anyone who disagrees with your paranoid hostility must be a paid internet shill is offensive. You sound exactly like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin.

    Posted by: Boone68 | Jul 21, 2011 1:19:17 PM

  9. ADAMA

    Newsflash: You're full of it. The fact that Obama stopped defending DOMA is not a huge move with major implications. Huge move would have been if he had simply not appealed Judge Tauro's ruling (or better yet, not defended DOMA in the first place), when the House was in democrat hands. In either sceniario DOMA would have been gone, and it's defense wouldn't have been prolonged by having John Boehner be involved in it.

    Just like the Conservative Family leader in Iowa has an anti-gay pledge for republican candidates to sign, we should also our own pledge for Obama to sign. It should require Obama to vow to fully support gay marriage, if it's not too much to ask of his highness. Cause I just don't get it any more. This is 2011 and the anti-gay bigots are still not ashamed of their bigotry, nor do they make any attempt to hide it. Documents like these pledges are just expressions of hate against gays. Why is Obama (or any other democrat) silent on this? Why are they not blasting these evil people for what they are: haters of gays ?

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 21, 2011 1:45:21 PM

  10. @ Mark,

    I agree with you that Obama's action in February to stop defending DOMA would be insufficient if Obama had simply left it at that and done nothing else. However, Adama's comment and your own comment refer to very old news. On July 1, the Department of Justice went much farther and filed a full-throated attack on DOMA for the first time:

    Click on the link at the bottom of the Metrolink article and download the pdf of the brief. The government uses "heightened scrutiny" for anti-gay discrimination for the first time in U.S. history, which affects all LGBT cases. The brief describes how "gays and lesbians have been subject to a history of discrimination" and that "The federal government has played a significant and regrettable role in the history of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals", giving examples from McCarthy era of the early 1950s through the 1960s. This is really throwing the kitchen sink at DOMA, and much more significant the action in February that you and Adama were discussing.

    Posted by: Artie Rimbaud | Jul 21, 2011 2:49:31 PM

  11. ARTIE

    I am very well aware of the brief you're referring to. Unfortunately, that brief came in too late to do us any good. My earlier point is still very valid: we wouldn't be in the mess we are right now of having to fight House lawyers (who are passionate on the issue and will give DOMA the best possible defense).

    Obama has screwed us from the start. First he lied to us in 2009 when he said he was 'required' to defend laws passed by Congress. Well, he stopped defending DOMA in February of 2011 so he wasn't required to defend it after all. Then he appealed the decision of district court Judge Tauro, which continued the case until the republicans took control of the House. Even after he stopped defending DOMA, he still said in the letter to Boehner that he would remain party to the case in order to give the House the opportunity to step in and defend DOMA, if it wants to. In other words "I'm starting to lose too much by continuing this DOMA defense but hey republicans, if you wanna step in, I'll let you." That's just not right. If he wasn't going to defend, he should have just withdrawn as party to the case, and the case would have gone away before Boehner and his bigoted lawyers could have laid hands on it.

    At this time, standing has been given to Boehner and his lawyers to intervene in the defense of DOMA. I'm sorry but Obama's latest brief attacking DOMA does nothing for us right now and sure as hell doesn't soften my heart for the way we were had.

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 21, 2011 4:57:26 PM

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