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NJ Democrats Say They Will Hold Vote to Override Chris Christie's Veto of Marriage Equality Bill: VIDEO


New Jersey Senate Democrats, led by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, held a press conference yesterday announcing that they would hold a vote to override Governor Chris Christie's veto of a marriage equality bill the legislature passed last year.

Sweeney urged Republicans to allow a "conscience vote" on the issue given the Supreme Court's strikedown of DOMA, the NJ Star-Ledger reports:

But first, Sweeney said, at least a few Republicans have to change their no votes to yes. The Senate president said Christie has intimidated GOP lawmakers, claiming some have privately admitted they would like to change their votes to allow same-sex marriage.

Later in the day, Christie scoffed at that suggestion, saying he gives advice to legislators but he’s "not the one down there pushing the buttons."

Watch Sweeney make the announcement, AFTER THE JUMP...

Posted Jul. 3,2013 at 1:45 PM EST by in Gay Marriage, New Jersey, News | Permalink | Comments (22)

What's Next: The Importance of the President in a Post-DOMA World


The "What's Next" series takes an in depth look at marriage and gay rights, in general, after the Supreme Court's momentous rulings striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8. Today's column looks at the politics of implementing the Court's decision in Windsor.

The Supreme Court struck down DOMA. The narrowness of that 5-4 victory underscores the vital importance of who sits on that Court and, by extension, who nominates those jurists. But the president's role is broader than that. And now that we have shifted to a post-DOMA world, the president's role becomes outsized and essential.

President_Barack_ObamaIn short, President Obama has the power to make Windsor a real victory or a "skim milk" shadow of one.

The days leading up to decision day are all about the Court. Even as far back as the Prop 8 trial in Vaughn Walker's district court in San Francisco, our attorneys were playing both a short and long game: win the case at hand, but also keep on eye on winning a majority at the Supreme Court. The Ninth Circuit's narrower holding may have also had an eye on the Court: it cited countless Kennedy opinions and gave it a less risky way to be on the side of equality without going too far.

The days after the decision are all about implementation. And this is something the Court cannot do. It has no army, no staff of administrators and bureaucrats that will decide how the Court's decisions play out, and no means of enforcing the majority's will on the public. For this, we turn to the executive branch, and given that the Court did not touch crucial implementation questions, the role of the executive may prove to be the most important factor in the turning Windsor into a lasting gay rights victory.

Electing a supportive president -- on social, not just economic, issues -- and a supportive Congress matters, even when a victory comes from the words of the Supreme Court. For proof, we need look no further than the question of marriage recognition based on "state of celebration" versus "state of domicile."

I explain why, AFTER THE JUMP...

Every statute, every overturning of a statute, every modification to some law has to be implemented by the executive branch. To do that, the part of the government tasked with the law's operation -- say, the Social Security Administration with social security benefits -- writes rules and regulations to bring Congress's wishes  to life. Lawyers aptly call it administrative law.

For example, if a statute hinges a benefit on being the "spouse" of someone entitled to that benefit and Congress didn't give an explanation for what it meant by the word "spouse", then it is up to the administrative agency in charge of implementing that particular benefit to write a regulation that defines spouse in accordance with the intent of Congress. Those regulations get published in the Code of Federal Regulations, a voluminous collection of how the executive branch is interpreting Congress's laws.

WhitehouseSo, when the Supreme Court says DOMA is dead, but leaves open the question of how the federal government will now determine which marriages are legitimate and which are not, executive rulemakers step in. Wherever it can, the Obama Administration is adopting a "state of celebration" rule, meaning that it will recognize all marriages as valid where they happened, not where the couple lives. Without this rule, Windsor would be an intellectual victory, at best, a pyrrhic one, at worst.

A conservative administration unsupportive of our cause would use its executive power to frustrate the Windsor decision by using a "state of domicile" rule, or a rule that would recognize only those marriages that are considered valid by the state in which the couple happens to live.

And this distinction between using a state of celebration rule and a state of domicile rule cannot be overstated. By definition, any marriage recognized by a state, i.e., that gets a license from a state, is clearly valid in that state. That's why gay couples who live and work in Texas come to New York or any of the other 12 states that recognize the freedom to marry. Therefore, a state of celebration rule would allow the federal government to recognize all marriages between two people of the same sex.

A state of domicile rule would make Windsor an empty victory for the thousands of gay couples living in marriage discrimination states, numbers that exceed the number of gay couples living and raising children in marriage equality states according to the Williams Institute. This rule would make the Texas couple's New York marriage irrelevant for federal benefits and recognition because the couple lives in Texas. 

President Obama has already started implementing a state of celebration rule. The Defense Department, immigration authorities, the IRS, and other departments are implementing the celebration rule quickly. The Office of Personnel Management, which handles all issues related to some 2 million federal employees, has been muddling along with murky and contradictory language on the meaning of "spouse" in its regulations, but the President was clear that he plans to authorize a state of celebration rewrite. 

If the "severely conservative" and "wrong on paper, wrong in fact" Mitt Romney were president, he would have to accept a Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA, but he would be within his power to limit the effect of the decision by moving slowly and writing a state of domicile rule. That rule would certainly be subject to legal challenge, but even if that challenge proved successful, thousands of gay couples would be harmed in the interim.

SsaUnfortunately, there are a few areas where the President alone cannot enforce a state of celebration rule. The Department of Veterans Affairs operates on a statute that explicitly requires marriages be valid in the state in which the couple lives (state of domicile) for benefits to be extended. A similar rule is written into the Social Security Act.

All federal benefits are important, but social security is particularly so given its essential role in providing a social safety net for the elderly and their survivors. So, what do we do about this?

Congress could pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which would not only repeal the rump of DOMA (Section 2, more on that in another column), but would also authorize a state of celebration rule. But ROMA is going nowhere in the Republican House.

Congress could pass a specific amendment to the Social Security Act, but that too is unlikely as long as a Republican holds the Speaker's gavel.

We could challenge the SSA's state of domicile rule in court and the likelihood of success of that challenge got a lot higher after Windsor. Windsor's recognition of gay marriages now highlights the discrimination faced by gay couples just because of the accident of their residence. Two couples, separated by the just over 1-mile stretch of the Lincoln Tunnel, are treated wildly different, an effect that stands in direct opposition to the letter and spirit of Justice Kennedy's decision in DOMA.

Or, we could elect a Democratic House.

In other words, the ecstasy we feel as we take in the Court's decisions in Windsor and Perry is legitimate, but it should not distract us from the work that needs to be done to elect allies to the White House and to Congress lest the decisions be drained of their power.


Follow me on Twitter: @ariezrawaldman

Ari Ezra Waldman is the Associate Director of the Institute for Information Law and Policy and a professor at New York Law School and is concurrently getting his PhD at Columbia University in New York City. He is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. Ari writes weekly posts on law and various LGBT issues.

Posted Jul. 3,2013 at 12:30 PM EST by in Ari Ezra Waldman, Barack Obama, DOMA, Gay Marriage, Law - Gay, LGBT, News | Permalink | Comments (28)

Gay Family Features Prominently in 'Boxtrolls' Trailer: VIDEO


The new trailer for The Boxtrolls, from the creator of Paranorman, features a gay family, The Hollywood Reporter reports:

"Sometimes there's a mother," the narrator intones. "Sometimes there's a father. Sometimes there's a father and a father. Sometimes both fathers are mothers." Eventually, the little boy is spirited down a sewer by a friendly crew of crated monsters.

"Families come in all shapes and sizes," says the narrator. "Even rectangles."

That this decidedly upbeat and inclusive message should arrive on the most eventful week in gay rights history -- one that saw both DOMA and Prop 8 struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court -- is just a happy bit of happenstance for Laika, the rare mainstream studio to incorporate gay-positive depictions in their family films.

For Travis Knight, the 39-year-old president and CEO of Laika and an accomplished stop-motion animator in his own right, finding stories that send kids the right kinds of messages -- and not necessarily the safest ones -- is a top priority.

Watch teh trailer, AFTER THE JUMP...

Posted Jul. 3,2013 at 11:45 AM EST by in Film, Gay Parents, News | Permalink | Comments (13)

The Best TV Shows On Netflix



Summer television schedules can leave much to be desired. If you’ve already caught up with last season’s best television, and you’re still staring at a mostly empty DVR, consider digging a little deeper into some past beloved series. Beat the heat this holiday weekend by pouring yourself a mojito and spending a little time in air conditioning binge-watching the best TV shows Netflix has to offer. 

We’ve combed Netflix’s massive library, and here are our top picks to suit any mood.


If you’re looking for ...

 ... a workplace comedy with brains: Parks and Recreation


This 30-minute ensemble comedy starring Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live) and Adam Scott (Party Down) delivers big laughs alongside plenty of heart. For a show about politics, Parks and Rec manages to avoid snark and cynicism. Instead, the cast -- which also includes Aziz Ansari, Chris Pratt, Rob Lowe, Nick Offerman and Aubrey Plaza -- wrings jokes out of the lovable quirks embedded in their characters.

Alternative: Tina Fey’s 30 Rock reinvented the genre with a legendary sitcom that’s spawned some of the most memorable characters and gags ever on television.


... teenage drama with a twist: Teen Wolf


If you’re seeking the most shirtless hunks per capita, look no further.  Sure, it’s True Blood for One Direction fans, but just because the supernatural drama is easy on the eyes, doesn’t mean it’s totally torture for your brain. The writing here is sharp enough to make you forget you’re watching a show from MTV.

Alternative: Pretty Little Liars offers mystery that’s one part Jawbreaker and one part Degrassi: The Next Generation.


... something to blow your mind: Lost


Often imitated, but yet to be replaced, this serialized drama succeeded where so many of derivative shows failed. (R.I.P. FlashForward, The Event, Terra Nova.) Not only did the series break ground in delivering an epic, sprawling, sci-fi mystery, but it also paved the way for so many other series to advocate for the opportunity to negotiate a set end-date so that they can adequately tell their stories. Fans are still debating the merits of the series’ ending, so there’s no time like the present to form your opinion.

Alternative: Get weird with David Lynch’s classic Twin Peaks.


... handsome space crusaders: Torchwood


A spin-off of Doctor Who, this series follows Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) as he and his team of alien-hunters complete their work for the Torchwood Institute. Aimed at a more adult audience, the show has a darker tone, as well as a deeper exploration of Captain Jack’s bisexuality.

Alternative: Despite being kid-friendly, the long-running Doctor Who successfully executes some of the most rich, complex storytelling across any genre.


 ... a reason to laugh until it hurts: Portlandia


Comedy duo Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein (guitarist for legendary punk back Sleater-Kinney) deliver biting satire that cut straight to the bone of contemporary hipster culture. With sights sharply set on the citizens of Portland, Oregon, their commentary could easily be applied to Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Austin and many other hip locales.

Alternative: The recently released, Netflix-exclusive fourth season of Arrested Development starts out slow, but reveals its brilliance as viewers hit the halfway point. It’s well worth sticking with.


... a nostalgic teenage experience: Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and geeks

It helped launch the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Busy Philipps and Judd Apatow. This cult favorite, canceled before its first season even finished airing, follows two groups of high school students in the year 1980. 

Alternative: Instead of a show from the 2000s about growing up in the ‘80s, kick it old-school with a show from the ‘80s about growing up in the ‘60s, The Wonder Years


... current critical darlings: Mad Men


We’ve made no secret about our love for AMC’s dense drama. As the show gets ready to embark on its final season in 2014, start getting up to speed on what many believe to be the best television shows of all time. The series first two seasons are particularly slow burns, but it’s easy to get immersed in the gorgeous set design and costumes.

Alternative: Catch up with Breaking Bad before it launches the second half of its final season this August.


... an animated show for grown-ups: Archer


It looks like a Roy Lichtenstein painting come to life, and it sounds like a naughty version of Get Smart. This spy comedy has very modern sensibilities under a cool, retro aesthetic. Not to mention it’s got Arrested Development’s brilliant Jessica Walter (as Mallory Archer) doing an even more over-the-top take on a booze-soaked, overbearing mother. Plus, there’s great voice work done by Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer and Chris Parnell.

Alternative: Bob’s Burgers showcases so many hilarious performances from outstanding comedians (John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, Sarah Silverman, and still more) it deserves its own Earwolf podcast.

What are your favorite shows on Netflix to marathon?

Posted Jul. 3,2013 at 11:00 AM EST by in Amy Poehler, Film and TV, John Barrowman, Mad Men, Teen Wolf, Television | Permalink | Comments (26)

'Fabulous Beekman Boys' Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge Marry


Fabulous Beekman Boys couple Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell married on June 28. US Weekly has the wedding photos and details of the magnificent, locally-grown spread:

Together since 2000, the Amazing Race winners said "I do" in front of around 300 guests, including friend and lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, who broadcast the nuptials on her Sirius XM radio show, Martha Live, and contributed some 100 hard-boiled eggs to the potluck feast.

Posted Jul. 3,2013 at 10:15 AM EST by in Brent Ridge, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, News, Television | Permalink | Comments (21)

David Barton Claims Gays Will Join The Military To Get Married: AUDIO

David Barton

Evangelical minister and founder of the dominionist organization WallBuilders David Barton spoke on WallBuilders Live about the death of DOMA, fearing that gays will now sign up for the US armed forces so that they can get married. Right Wing Watch quotes him as saying: 

“Now that there is no longer a definition of marriage as a man and a woman and DOMA’s struck down, guess what? Guess what happens in the military? Guess what is going to happen in the military? Guess who is going to enlist in the military just so they can have gay marriages and force chaplains to do that?”

While it is entirely possible that some gay couples might join the military just to take advantage of marriage benefits - the same way that some students sign up just to take advantage of the GI Bill to pay for college - it's more likely that couples would simply take a trip to Massachusetts or California. Both states reconize gay marriage and have no residency requirements to get married, compared to the 4 years or more of service that new recruits are contractually bound to when they enlist. Plus, they won't have to wait until completing bootcamp before being able to throw a bachelor party.

Posted Jul. 3,2013 at 9:30 AM EST by in David Barton, DOMA, Military | Permalink | Comments (45)


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