A Concerted Effort to Sue the US Government Over DOMA

Repeal DOMA NowFrom Change.org:

A few weeks ago, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that her state would be filing a lawsuit in federal courts, challenging the U.S. government over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.  Coakley said the reason for the lawsuit was simple:

DOMA affects residents of Massachusetts in very real and very negative ways by depriving access to important economic safety nets and other protections that couples count on when they marry and that help them to take care of one another and their families.  DOMA also directly and fundamentally interferes with Massachusetts’s right as a state sovereign to determine the marital status of its residents.

Now, activists are hoping to jump on the momentum started by Coakley and urge other state Attorney Generals to follow a similar path.  That’s the motivation at least behind the Web site Defend the Law (defendthelaw.org), which announced a concentrated action alert this week to urge Connecticut’s Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, to challenge the U.S. government over DOMA.  Last year, Connecticut became the second state to recognize same-sex marriage.

The site plans on hitting other states, too (which would now include Vermont, Iowa, Maine and New Hampshire) but is starting out with a focus on Blumenthal in Connecticut.  Here’s their action plea:

Marriage Equality has also been the law of the land in Connecticut since November 12, 2008.  The Attorney General of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, states prominently on his website, “As the public’s lawyer, I am here to defend state laws.”   Since marriage equality is indeed the law in Connecticut, we strongly urge Attorney General Blumenthal to follow Massachusetts’ lead and stand up for the citizens and laws of his state by filing a lawsuit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The week of action will happen between August 10-14.  More information can be found on Defend the Law’s web site.

This campaign again spotlights the important role that state Attorneys General (Attorney Generals?  Bah, pluralizing this one always troubles me…) can play in the fight for equal rights.  Here at change.org, we’ve had a petition going for more than a month now, urging Maryland’s Attorney General to allow his state to recognize same-sex marraiges that are performed in states where marriage equality is the law. MD’s Attorney General is slated to rule on this in the coming days, which could move equal rights one step closer to reality in Maryland.

And here’s hoping Defend the Law’s campaign with Connecticut’s Attorney General moves marriage equality one step closer on the federal level.

(Photo courtesy of Michael_Lehet’s photostream on Flickr.)


Former President Clinton Supports Gay Marriage

From Michelle Garcia at Advocate.com:

Former president Bill Clinton said in a conference for progressive students that he supports gay and lesbian couples’ right to marry.Bill Clinton

“Yeah,” Clinton said when asked after a speech at the Campus Progress National Conference, according to The Nation . “I personally support people doing what they want to do. I think it’s wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [same-sex marriage].”

In 1996, Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned recognition of same-sex marriages at the federal level and gave individual states the right to refuse recognition to such marriages even if performed legally in other states. He also approved the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which barred openly gay personnel from serving in the military.

In a 2000 interview with The Advocate, Clinton said that “people who have a relationship ought to be able to call it whatever they want. And insofar as it’s sanctified by a religious ceremony, that’s up to the churches involved.”

He added about the fight in Congress over DOMA, “I think what happened in the Congress was that a lot of people who didn’t want to be antigay didn’t feel that they should be saying that as a matter of law, without regard to what various churches or religions or others thought, that the United States policy was that all unions that call themselves marriages are, as a matter of law, marriages. I don’t think we’re there yet. But I think that what we ought to do is to get the legal rights straightened out and let time take its course, and we’ll see what happens.”

I have no comment on this, because I feel that Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People’s Right to Marry said it best:

“President Clinton’s support for the freedom to marry has evolved over time, and shows the power we each have when we talk about why marriage matters to the people we know and help them rise to fairness.  President Clinton has grappled with this question for a long time, and clearly he, like the country, has come a long way since fear and politics brought about such discriminatory measures as the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ that he signed and now has moved past.”

Check Out: “Besen: Obama’s empty words”

“What Obama fails to understand is that when poetry does not translate into policy, and hope turns hollow, the American people will begin to tune him out.”

Check out this great blog post on Obama’s empty promises and the possibility of a march on Washington:

Besen: Obama’s empty words