January 30, 2010
NYT editorial on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell
In an editorial yesterday, the NYT urged Obama to move quickly to make good on his pledge of ending DADT:
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is not just a technicality on the books. It is actively being used to drive gay men and lesbians out of the military — more than 13,000 since the law was adopted, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. That includes people with vital skills, like Arabic translators. The legal defense network, which helps people facing charges under “don’t ask don’t tell,” estimates that 644 people have been discharged under the law since Mr. Obama took office.
The policy of drumming gay men and lesbians out of the military is based on prejudice, not performance. Gay people serve openly and effectively in the armies of Britain, Israel, Australia and Canada.
The winner of last year’s secretary of defense essay contest was a piece by an Air Force colonel, published in Joint Force Quarterly, a military journal, that called “don’t ask, don’t tell” a “costly failure” and debunked the canard that unit cohesion would be harmed if gay service members were allowed to be open about their sexuality.
The law singles out a group of Americans for second-class treatment, forcing them to hide who they are and to live in fear of being found out and discharged. The policy hurts the military by depriving it of the service of a large number of loyal and talented Americans.
January 28, 2010
NPR wrap-up on the Prop 8 trial
Testimony in the trial challenging California's Proposition 8 has ended, and NPR has this wrap-up. The judge who heard the case has said he will take time to review the evidence before allowing closing arguments, probably in March or April.
Prop 8 trial coverage and analysis in the New Yorker
There are lots of ways to keep up with what's been happening in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, but one of the best might be the readable and insightful dispatches being filed by Margaret Talbot for the New Yorker.
January 27, 2010
Obama commits to work for repeal of DADT this year, but will he really lead?In his State of the Union speech, President Obama pledged, "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."
The Palm Center at the University of California Santa Barbara offers this analysis:
Experts said tonight that President Obama’s endorsement of congressional repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” during his State of the Union address falls short of the challenges ahead for repeal in 2010. "Including repeal in the State of the Union Address makes clear that the President considers this issue important," said Christopher Neff, Deputy Executive Director of the Palm Center and previously the first federal lobbyist for “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. "Yet the path to repeal will require both a command decision by the President and a clear timeline which follows. Leadership from the Pentagon will likely be mixed during upcoming hearings, and votes will be close in the House and Senate. It’s the President who is the game-changer on 'don't ask, don't tell' in 2010.”
As explained in a Palm Center report that will soon be released in published form, current law gives certain discretionary authorities to the President and the Defense Secretary regarding how they implement the policy, which is similar, but not identical to, the law. Nathaniel Frank, Senior Research Fellow at Palm and author of “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America,” explained that, “President Obama has the opportunity to modify the gay ban’s application through executive action. Many experts have suggested the President can direct the Secretary of Defense to adjust the investigative standards for 'don't ask, don't tell' that require credible information from a reliable source.” In its report, the Palm Center outlines an analysis suggesting that a zone of privacy is appropriate for off-base, off-post, off-duty conduct. “Such a zone could be created by President Obama if he were willing to do so.”
Adding to support for the President were recent remarks in favor of repeal from former Joint Chiefs Chairman General John Shalikashvili, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. In a statement released today in conjunction with Sen. Gillibrand’s office, the General stated that now is an appropriate time to allow for open service: “As a nation built on the principle of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger, more cohesive military. It is time to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline.”
January 25, 2010
Catching up on the Prop 8 trial
Our colleague Ruthann Robson at Con Law Prof Blog reports the highlights from last week in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, where the challengers to the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 are expected to rest their case today after almost two weeks of trial. Transcripts of the first nine days are here.
January 24, 2010
Federal court hears testimony on economics of same-sex marriage
Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School, testified this week in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial in San Francisco on the demographic characteristics of same-sex couples and their children, the economic effects of excluding same-sex couples from marriage, and how marriage equality might affect society and the institution of marriage.
In response to a question from plaintiffs' attorney David Boies about the economic harms to same-sex couples with children who are not able to marry, Badgett testified, “It's costing couples thousands of dollars a year in additional costs because they can't marry…that's thousands of dollars that will not be available to spend on children or to save for their college education or whatever parents might want to actually do with that money."
Badgett’s testimony drew on analyses that are part of her new book, When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-sex Marriage, along with a series of studies she has authored assessing the economic impacts associated with marriage equality. She also referenced several Williams Institute studies using Census Bureau data to describe the demographic characteristics of same-sex couples and their children.
In summarizing her work, Badgett testified, “I have looked at demographic data. I have looked at the reasons same-sex couples give for marrying. I have looked at how they are treated after they are married by their heterosexual communities and families. I have looked at behavior of heterosexual individuals before and after same-sex couples were allowed to marry, and I have seen no evidence of any harmful effect of allowing same-sex couples to marry.”