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04/19/2007


Lawmakers Demand Action from John Kerry on Russia's Anti-Gay Laws and the Sochi Games

83 members of Congress, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking "what efforts have been undertaken, especially efforts undertaken in coordination with other foreign governments" to assure the safety of LGBT athletes and visitors to Russia during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, the HuffPost reports.

NadlerSays the letter, in part:

We are writing to you regarding the troubling implications of a recently-enacted Russian law criminalizing actions or statements deemed to be in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. In light of the fact that the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games are scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia, we would like to know what diplomatic measures the State Department is planning to take to ensure that American LGBT athletes, staff and spectators, and their supporters, are not arrested, detained or otherwise penalized during the Sochi Games.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin on June 30th, will penalize any individuals or groups found to be publicly supportive of LGBT equality. Press reports have indicated that punishable offenses would include public acknowledgment of one’s orientation, displays of affection between same-sex partners, statements in support of LGBT rights, and the use of symbols such as rainbows that are attributed to the LGBT community. Foreign nationals found to be in violation of the law could be arrested and detained for up to 15 days.

...

We are particularly troubled because while the newly signed law is the most recent and most extreme codification of Russia’s maltreatment of its LGBT citizens, it is also part of larger trend of anti-LGBT actions in Russia.

...

 In light of the importance of U.S. leadership on LGBT issues, and the quickly-approaching Sochi Games, we urge the State Department to determine the appropriate course of action to assure the safety and well being of LGBT and LGBT— supporting individuals involved in or attending the 2014 Sochi Olympics and Paralympics. We look forward to hearing from you regarding what efforts have been undertaken, especially efforts undertaken in coordination with other foreign governments, and are committed to working together with you on this issue.


Bills to Fully Repeal DOMA Introduced in Congress

Shortly after yesterday's SCOTUS decisions bills to fully repeal DOMA were introduced in both houses of Congress, Freedom to Marry reports:

CapitolRepresentative Jerrold Nadler of New York and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California today reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would repeal the entirety of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and assure all married couples equal treatment for all federal programs and purposes. The move swiftly followed today’s powerful ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, striking down a central part of DOMA and calling into question marriage discrimination.

The bill was introduced in both houses with identical language intended to fully repeal DOMA, which imposed a gay exception on the ordinary ways in which the federal government respects couples lawfully married in states.
 
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:
 
“With today’s decisive Supreme Court ruling applying constitutional command of equal protection to overturn a central part of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act,’ Congress should move immediately to end federal marriage discrimination once and for all. Freedom to Marry applauds the sponsors and record numbers of supporters in both the House and Senate, and calls on Congress to get DOMA off the books and make clear that, while the federal government doesn’t tell states what to do, it must respect and protect all married couples throughout the U.S. As the Supreme Court today reaffirmed, in America we don’t have second-class citizens, and we shouldn’t have second-class marriages, either.”


Immigration Reform Bill Will Not Include LGBT Families

The initial text of the immigration reform bill will not include LGBT families, advocates told the Washington Blade today:

NadlerImmigration Equality Executive Director Rachel Tiven on Monday said she does not expect same-sex couples will be included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill a bi-partisan group of senators could potentially introduce by the end of the week.

“We are not expecting LGBT families to be included in the Gang of 8 bill,” she told the Washington Blade during a conference call ahead of a rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform on Wednesday that is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the U.S. Capitol. “That in our minds means that of course the bill is incomplete.”

Rep. Jarrold Nadler (D-NY) confirmed Tiven's remarks:

Nadler acknowledged to the Blade on Monday “it appears unlikely that the Senate’s initial immigration text” will include LGBT-specific language.

“This is disappointing but not particularly surprising,” he said.

Tiven said she remains hopeful members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will revisit the issue once they begin to debate the “Gang of 8” bill.

More at the Blade...

President Obama's immigration reform proposal, unveiled in January, had included LGBT familes. Advocates say they plan to fight for reinclusion through the amendment process.


Gay Immigration Bill to Be Introduced in U.S. House Tomorrow

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is set to reintroduce the Uniting American Families Act on Tuesday, the Washington Blade reports:

NadlerThe legislation, known as the Uniting American Families Act, is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House but not the Senate, according to two sources familiar with the bill.

Although information on co-sponsors wasn’t immediately available, the bill is expected to have bipartisan support. Last year, the bill found support from Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) in the lame duck session of Congress in addition to the 145 Democrats who supported the bill.

Introduction of UAFA in the Senate isn’t expected to be concurrent with House version. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has pledged to reintroduce the legislation in that chamber. It’s unclear when the Senate companion of UAFA would be introduced.

The legislation would enable gay couples to sponsor their foreign partners for a green card. It's still unclear whether gay couples will be included in a comprehensive immigration reform bill, although President Obama has demanded it.


Congressman Nadler: GOP's 'English Only' Crusade Like Other Civil Rights Attacks

NadlerEnglishDuring a House Judiciary Committee hearing today on a GOP-led effort to make English the official national language, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York likened the legislative crusade to other anti-civil rights efforts, including homophobic discrimination.

Nadler's remarks, via Talking Points Memo:

Having already spent an extraordinary amount of Committee time and resources in an effort to roll-back the civil rights of women, persons with disabilities, gay and lesbian Americans and other minorities, our Majority colleagues are now using the last day before the House adjourns until September to highlight a bill that would place at risk the 24.5 million people in the United States who need language assistance from their government in some situations.

A long-time equality advocate, Nadler is one of the over 80 Democrats who this week urged the Obama administration to spell out how binational same-sex couples will be protected under new, looser immigration enforcement laws.


Watch: Clips from Last Week's Offensive 'Defending Marriage' Hearing

Dd_gallagher

Last week I said I would try to get some clips up of the offensive "Defending Marriage" hearing that was held before the House Judiciary Committee. With thanks to the Wonk Room, here they are.

Trent Franks (R-AZ) led the hearing, at which NOM's MAggie Gallagher and conservative attorney Ed Whelan spewed their anti-gay, and often plain wrong, statistics about marriage. Thankfully, Reps. John Conyers, and Jerrold Nadler were there to ad some sanity to the debate.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Previously...
Watch: GetEQUAL Confronts Maggie Gallagher Before 'Defending Marriage' Hearing [tr]

Continue reading "Watch: Clips from Last Week's Offensive 'Defending Marriage' Hearing" »


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