DOJ will meet with gay rights groups about DOMA

Greg Sargent reported today at The Plum Line,

Two prominent gay rights lawyers litigating high-profile cases against the Obama administration tell me that their requests to meet with administration lawyers to discuss the cases were rebuffed [...].

In both cases, the lawyers are representing Federal employees whose spouses are being denied protections or benefits under the Defense of Marriage Act.

Less than two hours after that post, Sargent received encouraging news from the DOJ and posted an update:

The Obama Justice Department has reached out to major gay rights organizations and scheduled a private meeting for next week with the groups, in an apparent effort to smooth over tensions in the wake of the controversy over the administration's defense in court of the Defense of Marriage Act. [...]

At the meeting -- which hasn't been announced and is expected to include leading gay rights groups like GLAD and Lambda Legal -- both sides are expected to hash out how to proceed with pending DOMA cases.

Though there's no guarantee either side will leave next week's meeting happy, it's encouraging to hear that some dialogue is planned.

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Shalikashvili: Listen to Evidence on Gay Soldiers

During the neo-conservative ascendancy, the effects of which we are still struggling to shake off, we were consistently confronted by its apostles with appeals to "empiricism,""facts,""objectivity," and "reality." It was a temporarily successful strategy, until more and more Americans began to see through this polemic and face the failures wrought by these invocations of spurious evidence.  This past April, in response to indications that President Obama would seek repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell "compromise," four retired flag officers argued in the Washington Post that this repeal would harm morale and troop levels in the US Armed Forces (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2009/04/14/AR2009041402704. html).  Yet once again a conservative position has been presented with fear-mongering masquerading as fact.  In today's edition of the same paper, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili answers the call.  Not only does refute them by pointing out their lack of evidence for this position, he suggests two responsible courses of action: that we look at other western military organizations where gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly, and that we actually listen to gay soldiers and those who have served with them.

excerpts after the jump...  

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The Time Is Now

Twenty-nine gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people were murdered in bias-motivated crimes last year--certainly not a large number on today's over populated planet.

When I read that number--being gay and acknowledging that my fear of placing a `NO on Prop 8' sign outside my house came from intelligent self-preservation-- I was surprised it was so low.

So I read the source. It seems this is the number according to the Associated Press article here that emerged from anti-violence reports by the Anti-Violence Coalition in 6 states and 8 cities: Milwaukee, Minnesota, Chicago, Los Angeles, Colorado, Columbus, Ohio, Houston, Pennsylvania, New York City, Kansas City, Missouri, Michigan and San Francisco submitted data.

Vista where I live wasn't even considered, and Montana where I used to live--invisible too. And yet a lesbian business owner I met in the Bitteroot Valley was cursed out in a public restaurant and then her house was torched by the Montana Militia--read your friends and neighbors minus the bedsheets.

We are not even in the ball park, with this number of 29.

Another lesbian was murdered that same year only 30 miles from where I lived within driving distance of Glacier National Park. Her murderer has never been caught.

Many straight people do not understand that violence is a way of life for gays, not just in Iraq and Iran, but here in America. But to be fair, lots of gays do not get it either. Many gay people exist in their own little air pocket, one of millions in an acre of gay bubble wrap; and what happens in the other little bubbles doesn't concern them. This is how Aids at first proliferated in the gay community We learned the hard way. Sometimes we have had to learn it over and over again. But today millions of us along with our straight allies undertand once and for all that Violence against one gay person is violence against us all.

I started coming out again during the Bush years. By this I mean that I stopped letting people assume I was straight. I am still paying for the consequences of this when an old, dear friend of my Mom's, and someone I had known for 30 years, upon hearing this declared, "You didn't have to say it. You didn't have to tell us."

"Yes, I did," I replied. "You like me, but you don't know me. This is ALL of who I am." Whereupon from describing herself as my second mother she decided I was to be undermined, thwarted and attacked at every turn. My own poor mother paid the price in lost friendship. I had long suspected this, but it never was so clear to me that it is our loved ones who end up living with the consequences of our gay lives.

In my own life I have been manhandled by the police, spat at and cursed, ridiculed, raged at and shoved. I have lost promotions and been forced to move. I have in my own defense marched for my civil rights, organized for them and I have stood up, I hope, whenever it counted.

But there is something so insidious, so demoralizing in seeing an administration that promised hope and change issue the kind of Justice Dept brief in defense of DOMA that we have just seen from the Obama administration. Yeah I know, the economy is more important, and healthcare is more important, and Afghanistan is more important, and Iran is more important, and the President has a million and one things to attend to that are more important.

The full civil rights of despised American citizens is less important? People are dying right here from hate and abuse. You don't have to go overseas to stop hate and bigotry and grant full civil rights to human beings. We are people who have fought America's wars and still are, who have fought for the civil rights of others and still are, who have taken in unwanted children and still are. We are people who pray with you, laugh with you, and talk with you.

Kitty Genovese in March, 1964, was stabbed 37 times in a Queens neighborhood by her male assailant while 22 onlookers stood by and did nothing. The incident was trumpeted widely in the national media as the worst case of bystander indifference in American history. What no one reported was the fact that Kitty Genovese was gay. And that she was known in her apartment complex for having loud fights with her partner. Twenty-two people stood by and let Kitty Genovese be stabbed to death before they would lift a finger or risk themselves for a lesbian.

Barack Obama is behaving no better than any one of those 22 individuals He has the power to stop institutionalized prejudice. Apparently, he doesn't think its worth it.

Victim of DADT runs for Congress CA-10

When Ellen Tauscher announced she was headed for the State Department it seemed there would be no shortage of Democrats running to replace her in this safe district, including California's Lt. Gov, John Garamendi, who ducked out of the race for governor when he got no traction and decided not to contest Republican held CA-03.  Recently though, CNN's Campbell Brown (bleck!) interviewed a candidate I hadn't heard anything about until now, and after watching the clip I walked away impressed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fkvzgh7ib 3A&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecalitics% 2Ecom%2Fdiary%2F9116%2Fjune%2D12%2Dopen% 2Dthread&feature=player_embedded

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New Hampshire House Approves Marriage Bill

By a vote of 198-176 the New Hampshire House approved a Marriage Equality bill that contains the Governor's demanded religious protections.  Now it just needs his signature.
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticN ews/idUSTRE5526NV20090603

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