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Maryland House Approves Marriage Equality Bill

The Maryland House of Delegates has just passed the marriage equality bill in a 71-67 vote:

OmalleyThe Civil Marriage Protection Act passed the House with support from a Prince George’s County lawmaker who helped kill the bill last year by walking out of a voting session.

The House passage puts Maryland on the verge of being the eighth state to allow gay nuptials. The legislation still must be taken up in the Senate, which last year passed a similar bill and is expected do so again. The chamber will likely debate it next week.

The House vote is a major win for O’Malley, who threw the weight of his office behind the measure after a similar bill fell a few votes short in the House last year. The governor had been working the halls of the House office building at all hours to convince wavering delegates.

MarylandThink Progress has details on some of the amendments that passed with it:

One of the amendments passed delayed the date of enactment from October to January. Another created a non-severability clause, such that if the religious protections are overturned by the courts, the entire law would have to be deemed invalid. The measure still has to advance through the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and full Senate, and even then, it is likely to be challenged by a referendum.

Posted Feb. 17,2012 at 6:41 PM EST by | Permalink | Comments (17)

NJ Assembly Democrats Release Video Condemning Christie's Marriage Equality Veto, Promising Override: WATCH


The New Jersey Assembly Democrats have released a video response to Governor Chris Christie's veto this afternoon of the recently-passed marriage equality bill.


New Jersey Assembly Democratic Response to Gov. Christie's Veto of Marriage Equality Legislation (A-1) from NJ Assembly Democratic Office on Vimeo.


Posted Feb. 17,2012 at 5:57 PM EST by in Chris Christie, Gay Marriage, New Jersey, News | Permalink | Comments (4)

NJ Governor Chris Christie Vetoes Marriage Equality Bill

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vetoed a marriage equality bill passed by both houses of the legislature, the AP reports:

ChristieThe Republican governor returned the bill to the Legislature, saying he wants voters to decide whether New Jersey changes the definition of marriage. Democratic lawmakers say it's a civil rights issue that shouldn't be put up for a public vote. Lawmakers have until the end of the January 2014 legislative session to override the veto.

Read the veto document HERE.

Christie said in his veto that he would be creating an Ombudsman to enforce civil unions in the state:

"I include in my conditional veto the creation of a strong Ombudsman for Civil Unions to carry on New Jersey’s strong tradition of tolerance and fairness. The Ombudsman will be charged with increasing awareness of the law regarding civil unions, will provide a clear point of contact for those who have questions or concerns and will be required to report any evidence of the law being violated."

Christie promised earlier this week to take "swift action" to veto the bill if it reached his desk.

A two-thirds vote in each chamber is necessary to override Christie's veto, and can be attempted as many times as necessary until January 2014. A veto override in the House would require 12 more votes, and 3 more votes in the Senate.

GoldsteinGarden State Equality's Steven Goldstein released a statement earlier today, which read, in part:

Frankly, I don’t think Chris Christie has an anti-gay bone in his body, however much I cannot say the same about his impending veto.  His veto will be a brutally anti-gay act, pure and simple.

The Governor keeps calling for a referendum, which everyone knows will never happen in New Jersey.  To borrow the Governor’s words, it’s time for him to stop engaging in political theater.  Our lives are not La Cage Aux Folles:  LGBT people fall in love, raise families, often children whom the rest of society shuns, and pay taxes in what is still one of the most heavily taxed states in the country.

Our Governor knows our contributions to society.  He won’t veto the bill because he’s anti-gay.  He’ll veto the bill because the 2016 South Carolina Republican Presidential primary electorate is anti-gay.  And if I get flooded with letters now from Charleston, so be it.

And that’s what hurts so badly.   I like this Governor and am able to see him beyond the headlines.  When you are rejected by someone you want so badly to love you unconditionally – my own parents have taught me what that’s like – the pain is searing.  Rick Santorum I can live with.  Gerry Cardinale I can live with, too.  But Chris Christie’s rejection?  That hurts.

Governor, rest assured that even though I came of political age in an era where political adversaries could be friends – and if you’re game, we’ll continue that good relationship – Garden State Equality and I will continue to fight you on marriage equality with every bone in our bodies.  You would expect no less.

For us, this is not about politics.  This is about our fundamental American right to conduct our lives with a full life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Equality.

And until we achieve it, we will fight with our every last breath.  And we will win, so help me God.

Posted Feb. 17,2012 at 5:18 PM EST by | Permalink | Comments (63)

Attorney General Tells Congress: DOJ Won't Defend Laws Discriminating Against Gay Servicemembers

Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to congressional leaders today telling them that the Department of Justice would no longer defend laws that prevent gay couples from receiving military and veterans benefits given to their heterosexual counterparts, Talking Points Memo reports:

2kiss“The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans,” Holder wrote. “Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that would warrant treating these provisions differently from Section 3 of DOMA.”

Holder said DOJ would no longer defend the provisions in Title 38 which prevent same-sex couples who are legally married from obtaining benefits. He said that Congress would be provided a “full and fair opportunity” to defend the statues in the McLaughlin v. Panetta case if they wished to do so.

Read the full letter HERE.

Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly adds: "The move by Attorney General Eric Holder comes in the context of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's lawsuit in McLaughlin v. Panetta. Metro Weekly reported on Thursday, Feb. 16, that the parties to the case had agreed a day earlier to a 60-day delay in the government's deadline for filing a response to the lawsuit."

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis released a statement in response to Holder's letter:

"We are pleased that the Attorney General has decided not to defend the constitutionality of DOMA in the military context, just as he has declined to defend it in other contexts.  We are also delighted that, for the first time, he has said that separate definitions that apply to military veterans are also unconstitutional.  This is an important step for the McLaughlin plaintiffs."

Chris Johnson at the Blade has some info on how this might affect other lawsuits:

Holder’s decision is likely to have a bearing on another lawsuit challenging Title 38 and DOMA,  Cooper Harris v. United States. The lawsuit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center earlier this month on behalf of Tracey Cooper-Harris, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who’s seeking disability benefits for her spouse.

Christine Sun, SPLC’s deputy legal director, said she believes the Holder letter applies to her organization’s lawsuit in addition to the SLDN litigation.

“There’s absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t apply to our case,” Sun said. “I believe that it was sent in connection to the McLaughlin case because there was the recent stipulation between SLDN and DOJ to extend the deadline for the government to respond to SLDN’s summary judgment case, but we’re certainly interpreting the letter to say that the Department of Justice won’t be defending Title 38 in our case either.”

Posted Feb. 17,2012 at 5:04 PM EST by | Permalink | Comments (31)

Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1067

CHARLIE MORGAN: Lesbian Iraq war vet with breast cancer discusses her visit to John Boehner's office to talk about the difficulties her family faces because of DOMA.

THE GRIZ: Pick-up gets an unexpected visitor.

PARENTING: Dog becomes parent to piglets.

SKRILLEX: Bangarang.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.

Posted Feb. 17,2012 at 4:10 PM EST by in News, Towleroad Guide to the Tube | Permalink | Comments (10)

News: Ricky Martin, Canada, Pat Buchanan, Idaho, Anthony Shadid

RoadNYT reporter Anthony Shadid dies in Syria.

RoadCo-chairs of Congressional Progressive Caucus announce support for marriage equality plank in Democratic Party platform. "The co-chairs, Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), released a joint statement announcing that they had signed on to Freedom to Marry's proposed platform language..."

2_ricky_martinRoadRicky Martin on marriage: "I wish people understood that love manifests in different ways. Allow me to have my life and I won't mess with yours. That's when I struggle and get angry and punch the table. And then I talk. Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.' Trust me, everybody is asking me when I'm going to get married. People that I don't know are pushing it. But it's not something that we're talking about."

RoadAnderson Cooper gives moms a freaky Toddlers & Tiaras makeover.

RoadCanadian government to close legal loophole that could have undermined thousands of gay marriages around the world.

RoadIdaho lawmaker's attempt to attach anti-discrimination amendment to prison bill fails: "Boise Democratic Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who is Idaho's only openly gay lawmaker, Thursday sought to amend a bill that tightens penalties for smuggling cigarettes or cell phones into prison by adding protections for gays and lesbians from workforce or housing discrimination."

RoadAdam Lambert pushes back album release...

RoadJanet Jackson to join X Factor?

PattinsonRoadRobert Pattinson displays his dome.

RoadApple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it did Macs in 28 years: "Apple sold 55 million iPads to date, CEO Tim Cook recently revealed in an interview with Fortune. The company also sold 37 million iPhones in Q1 2012 alone, with the total being around 175 million since the device’s inception. All in all, Apple sold 316 million iOS devices so far."

RoadCatholic Bishops make big plans for campaign on infringement of religious liberty...

RoadWhite House holds LGBT health summit: "More than 300 people from 22 states attended the conference, which was focused on LGBT health, on Thursday in the Dorrance H. Hamilton Building at Thomas Jefferson University. Obama administration officials touted their work over the past three years on health and LGBT issues. Conference participants asked questions of officials in a town-hall style format — many focused on transgender inclusion of the administration’s LGBT work — and participated in workshops on issues such as LGBT aging, youth and transgender health as well as the health care reform law and engagement opportunities with the administration."

RoadKelly Clarkson heading to The Voice in March.

BuchananRoadPat Buchanan pens good-bye tirade as he exits MSNBC, blaming gays, liberals: "Without a hearing, they smear and stigmatize as racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic any who contradict what George Orwell once called their 'smelly little orthodoxies.' They then demand that the heretic recant, grovel, apologize, and pledge to go forth and sin no more."

RoadChris Cornell defends man who was called a "queer" in the Seattle Airport.

RoadTom Cruise's son Connor, whose homophobic text to a former publicist was recently aired in the media, is making amends by DJing at an AIDS Project Los Angeles party at West Hollywood gay bar The Abbey.

RoadFlash mob organizer Greg Rothman describes gay day at JC Penney: "As a sea of people dressed in pink descended the escalator to shop, to "flash our pink dollars," we noticed that all of the JCPenney staff were also wearing pink clothing, and they applauded as we reached their floor. It was a spectacular moment."

Posted Feb. 17,2012 at 2:37 PM EST by | Permalink | Comments (21)


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