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Marriage News Watch

Secret anti-gays unmasked, then re-masked; defending DOMA costing taxpayers

Monday, October 24, 2011
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Hello from our new headquarters! It’s been a crazy week, with secret anti-gay activists unmasked and then re-masked in Washington state. A Maryland football player is our new best friend, DOMA continues to crumble but not before costing taxpayers $520 per hour. And why is Australia’s Prime Minister resisting a marriage equality measure that would increase public support for her party?

This week’s Marriage News Watch is here:

Following is a transcript of today’s report:

After three months of broadcasting from my living room, I’d like to welcome you to our new studio: my office! As of this week, Marriage News Watch is coming to you from the headquarters of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the sole sponsor of the federal court challenge to California’s Proposition 8. When I’m not producing this show, I manage research and communications at AFER. And as of today today, that work will include these videos.

So let’s start with a quick update on what we’re up to here at AFER.

The Prop 8 case has taken a lot of twists and turns, and right now the two big questions hanging over the case are about the tapes of the trial and about standing. The Prop 8 Proponents are still claiming that the court needs to withhold the tapes of the trial from the public, even though it’s a record of the public’s judicial system at work. They claim that the tapes would somehow subject their witnesses to harassment, which is silly since their witnesses are happy to make anti-gay remarks in other forums. It’s just when they’re on the witness stand, under oath and penalty of perjury, forced to tell the truth, that they’re suddenly camera-shy. The Federal District Court will issue a decision on those tapes sometime in the next few weeks, and if they say that we can release the footage, we’re ready to instantly flood the Internet with some fascinating clips from the trial.

The other issue, standing, is a little more complicated. The California Supreme Court needs to decide generally whether proponents of any ballot measure can defend that measure in court. Then the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals needs to decide whether these specific Proponents can defend Prop 8. That ruling is also due in the next few weeks, so it’s shaping up to be a very busy fall. And while all that’s going on, we’re preparing for more presentations of “8,” the play by Dustin Lance Black that’s based on the transcripts of the Prop 8 trial. After an incredible debut on Broadway last month, we’re bringing the show to Los Angeles, and then to theater partners around the country.

Visit AFER.org for more info on all of these projects and more.

In other news this week, a judge in Washington state has ordered the state to unmask the people who pushed an anti-gay ballot measure in 2009. The proponents of that measure, which ultimately failed, claimed that they needed to hide their identities due to harassment. But the judge found that their claims of harassment were pretty weak, and limited to uncomfortable conversations and speculation about what could maybe possibly potentially happen someday.

The proponents filed an emergency motion to block that release, but not before the Secretary of State released thirty DVDs full of data. So the information’s out there. Whether anyone does anything with it remains to be seen.

Also in Washington this week, the state’s largest private sector union announced that it will support marriage equality efforts in 2012. That’s maybe a little premature, since we don’t yet know whether there will be any marriage equality efforts in 2012. It’s up to the legislature, and so far the best commitment we’ve gotten has come from State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, who suggested that Washington “could be ready for full marriage equality.” But State Sen. Ed Murray says that legislators simply don’t have enough votes to pass the measure right now.

Polling in Washington is strongly on our side, with a September survey by Strategies 360 showing 54 to 35% in favor of marriage equality.

Across the country in Maryland, efforts to move legislators toward marriage equality in 2012 continue, with a new pro-equality commercial featuring Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo. This may not be a very exciting ad to LGBTs like me, who aren’t really clear on exactly what football is, but it’s a great way to reach out to ally communities. This is a very close copy of one of the tactics that worked in New York, so we’ll want to pay close attention to see if it works in other states.

In national news, Senator Carl Levin agreed to co-sponsor a bill to repeal DOMA, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 31 in advance of next month’s vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Meanwhile, Representative Mike Honda has called for hearings into DOMA’s costs, following a hefty pay raise for the lawyer overseeing the defense of the anti-gay law. Republicans have put taxpayers on the hook for at least $1.5 million dollars, which works out to $520 per hour for their attorney.

And the chorus of voices opposing DOMA grew even larger this week, with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network announcing a lawsuit on behalf of soldiers who are denied protections that are afforded to their heterosexual colleagues.

And in international news, a new survey in Australia shows that support for the Labor party would increase by 5% if they endorsed marriage equality. So why don’t they? Standing in the way of progress is Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose anti-gay remarks could block a conscience vote by her party at its convention in December. In the mean time, Labor Party leaders who need that 5% boost in support may wish to reconsider whether Gillard has a place the future of the Labor Party.

Those are the headlines, visit us over at MarriageNewsWatch.com for more on all of these stories, or AFER.org to learn more about our work to win full federal equality for all Americans. We’ll see you next week.

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