June 20, 2009
Senate Judiciary to hold hearing on hate crimes prevention act
This Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. Attorney General Eric Holder will testify. More information on the hearing is available here.
Gay-inclusive federal hate crimes legislation has been a longtime but elusive goal for LGBT advocates. The legislation passed the House last month 249-175, and has the support of the Obama administration. A backgrounder on the legislation is available from HRC.
June 16, 2009
Principle or penance? Obama to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees
Under growing criticism for his administration's defense of DOMA and DADT and its lack of positive action on gay issues, President Obama will sign an order Wednesday extending benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, the AP is reporting. The move follows Secretary of State Clinton's decision last month to grant such benefits to State Department employees. (We asked at the time, "If the State Department can do this based solely on a policy decision by Secretary Clinton, why not the rest of the federal government based on a policy decision by President Obama?")
PBS Independent Lens tackles Don't Ask, Don't Tell
http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/asknot/. Check local listings.
Tied Up with Avery Quinn
If you have wondered why I haven't been posting in quite some time, it is due to the birth of my daughter, Avery Quinn. We are adjusting to life with a newborn ... Many thanks to Steve for keeping up with the blogging in my absence.
June 15, 2009
Obama administration vigorously defends DOMA in court: it is anti-gay or just politically tone-deaf?
Art Leonard at New York Law School, one of the fairest and most astute observers of gay legal developments, has generally counseled patience to those who are growing restless at the Obama administration's missteps and lack of action on gay issues. And so it means something when Art asks, in this extended and thoughtful analysis of the administration's motion to dismiss in a lawsuit against DOMA, "Has Obama Administration Gone Over to the Dark Side in LGBT Issues?"
Art points out that the executive branch has an obligation to defend federal laws.
But it's the tone and arguments the administration has chosen to offer that have provoked serious anger among Obama's LGBT supporters, and for good reason. Art characterizes the brief as an " aggressive, and in some respects homphobic-sounding" defense of DOMA.
Our colleague Ruthann Robson has additional analysis of the filing at Con Law Blog. The full brief can be found here. The case arises out of California, and the LA Times reports that the mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles joined on Sunday in expressing concern about the brief.