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October 22, 2009

Senate approves hate crimes legislation, bill goes to Obama

In a defeat for social conservatives, the Senate passed legislation Thursday that for the first time would make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.  The measure had already been passed by the House, and President Obama has pledged to sign it.  Advocates have attempted to pass such a measure for years.  More here from CNN.  A backgrounder on the legislation is available here.

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October 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 21, 2009

Maine girds for Nov. 3 ballot battle over marriage

The Boston Globe reports:

Just six months after Governor John Baldacci signed a law legalizing gay marriage in Maine, voters will decide whether to preserve it, making the state the latest battleground in the national fight over same-sex marriage.

For both sides, the Nov. 3 ballot initiative, Question One, is seen as a crucial juncture. Opponents want to show that momentum has shifted to their side, building on last year’s California vote to approve a ban on gay marriage. Supporters - with victories in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Iowa - are eager to demonstrate that California was a temporary setback.

Continue reading.

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October 21, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2009

Taking on the bad arguments against federal hate crimes legislation

The House voted earlier this month to expand federal hate crimes laws, and the measure would include crimes motivated by sexual orientation.  (Here is a backgrounder on the legislation and what it would do.)  The Senate is expected to take up the measure soon. 

David Gibson, a columnist for the blog Politics Daily (which has attracted an impressive roster of editors and contributors) takes on the talking points being circulated by conservative opponents of hate crimes legislation:

Pastors would be hounded out of their pulpits or even rounded up because a hate crimes law would "criminalize" speech and particularly sermons that quote scripture saying homosexuality is a sin. The law would also "create" new rights for homosexuals and grant them "special protections" not accorded other Americans. And what the heck is a "hate crime," anyway? All crimes are hate crimes! ... The charges sound convincing, but they quickly collapse on closer inspection.

Read further here.

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October 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Professor Geof Stone on what Obama should have told gathering of gay advocates

University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone offered this script for what President Obama should have told his audience at the Human Rights Campaign's recent annual dinner in Washington.

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October 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 18, 2009

Justices decline to review case over state bar amicus brief in gay adoption case

The US Supreme Court denied certiorari this week in a case brought by religious conservatives who fought a decision by the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar Association to file an amicus brief in support of a trial court ruling that struck down the 1977 Florida law prohibiting gays and lesbians from adopting children. The case is Liberty Counsel v. Florida Bar Board of Governors. As the National Law Journal reports, Liberty Counsel

argued that under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, mandatory bar associations like the Florida Bar cannot use member dues to support ideological causes which are not germane to the goals of regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal service. The state Supreme Court in June, voting 5-2, rejected Liberty Counsel's First Amendment arguments and held that membership in the Family Law Section is voluntary and any such advocacy by a section is not funded with compulsory dues.

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October 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack