Monday, February 28, 2011

L.A. TIMES Op Ed: "Same-sex weddings, now"

Today's Los Angeles Times runs an editorial in favor of ending the stay on Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional and calls for same-sex marriages to resume immediately while the legal wrangling at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and California Supreme Court get settled.
Although the federal courts expedited their handling of the lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, the issues are far from resolved. And now that the California Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in, the case could be delayed for another year or more.

Enough already. Gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to wed while the case works its way through the system.

The state Supreme Court was asked by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on whether supporters of Proposition 8 have the right — known as "standing" — to continue with their case. It indicated that it would hear arguments late this year, with a ruling likely to follow a few months later. Meanwhile, a stay pending the outcome of the appeal has kept gay weddings from going forward. Now, however, the lawyers challenging Proposition 8 have asked the 9th Circuit to lift the stay and allow the weddings to take place. We agree that it should.

Every day that the case drags on, gay and lesbian couples who would like to marry are being deprived of their civil rights. That's not our wording; the federal trial judge decided that issue, at least for now. The denial of constitutional rights, even temporarily, is a deplorable situation that must meet high legal standards to be allowed to continue. In our view, those conditions have not been met.

First, a stay should be issued only if there is a strong likelihood that the appealing party — in this case, the supporters of Proposition 8 — will prevail in court. Yet there are serious questions about whether they even have the standing to appeal, so the outcome is very uncertain. There are other factors the courts take into account when deciding whether to keep a stay in place. Those filing the appeal must show that they would be irreparably harmed if the stay were lifted; the courts also take into account where the public interest lies. During the trial, the supporters of Proposition 8 were unable to identify any harm that would befall them if same-sex weddings took place.

Certainly it would be messy if California were to resume performing wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples, only to have to stop again when another ruling comes down. But there may be no other option. Right now, same-sex couples are being deprived of their constitutional right to marry, and every indication is that unless the stay is lifted, they'll have to keep waiting for more than a year. That is real harm, and there is no valid reason to allow it to continue.
I think it is unlikely that the Courts will agree to lift the stay, but I do agree that the harm to same-sex couples who would like to get married in California should not be discounted, especially  when it is looking increasingly likely that Proposition 8 will not survive judicial scrutiny.

Eye Candy: Rodrigo Massahud

Rodrigo Massahud is a 31-year-old Brazilian model who was named "Mr. Rio Diversity" in 2010. Hat/tip to David Dust for this week's Eye Candy.

You can find more photos of Rodrigo on his Facebook page.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Oscars: The Winners

The winners of the 83rd Academy Awards have been announced. My 2011 Oscars predictions were announced earlier. This year I successfully predicted 7 of 8 in the big categories and 15 of 24 over all (20 of 24 if you count second guesses).

I was pretty happy with this year's awards. My favorite film of the year Inception won the most Oscars (four: Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects), tied with The King's Speech (Picture, Director, Actor, Original Screenplay). My hope for Best Picture was The Social Network, which won 3 Oscars (Editing, Score and Adapted Screenplay). Interestingly, Alice in Wonderland won 2 important awards (Art Direction and Costume), denying The King's Speech any kind of sweep. It was sad to see True Grit lose 10 Oscars, the most of the night, but I was glad The King's Speech lost 8, 127 Hours lost 6 and both The Fighter and The Social Network lost 5.

The biggest disappointment was Tom Hooper winning Best Director instead of David Fincher (or, hello!, Christopher Nolan), followed by Natalie Portman winning Best Actress (I wanted Annette Bening to win).
The best moment was Inception winning Best Cinematography. I still don't understand how anyone can listen to the nominated scores and think Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' for The Social Network is better than Hans Zimmer's Inception.

Here are the 2011 Oscar winners:
Best Picture: The King's Speech (2nd: The Social Network)
Director: David Fincher (2nd: Tom Hooper)
Original Screenplay: The King's Speech (2nd:Inception)
Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network (2nd: Toy Story 3)
Actor: Colin Firth (2nd: Jesse Eisenberg )
Actress: Natalie Portman (2nd: Annette Bening)
Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo (2nd: Helena Bonham Carter)
Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (2nd: Geoffrey Rush )
Editing: Black Swan (2nd: The Social Network)
Art Direction: The King's Speech (2nd: Inception) Alice in Wonderland
Sound: Inception (2nd: The King's Speech)
Sound Editing: Inception (2nd: Toy Story 3)
Cinematography: True Grit (2nd: Inception)
Costumes: The King's Speech (2nd: Alice in Wonderland )
Documentary: Inside Job  (2nd: Exit Through The Gift Shop)
Foreign Language: Biutiful (2nd: In a Better World)
Animated Film: Toy Story 3 
Animated Short: Day & Night (2nd: Madagascar) The Lost Thing
Live Action Short: God of Love (2nd: Wish 143)
Documentary Short: The Warriors of Qiugang (2nd: Poster Girl) Strangers No More
Makeup: Wolfman
Score: Inception (2nd: The King's Speech) The Social Network
Song: "We Belong Together" (from Toy Story 3)(2nd: "Country Strong")
Visual Effects: Inception (2nd: Alice in Wonderland

2011 Oscars: My Predictions for All 24 Categories

Here are my picks for all 24 categories in  the 83rd Academy Awards (2011 Oscars):
Best Picture: The King's Speech (2nd: The Social Network)
Director: David Fincher (2nd: Tom Hooper)
Original Screenplay: The King's Speech (2nd: Inception)
Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network (2nd: Toy Story 3)
Actor: Colin Firth (2nd: Jesse Eisenberg )
Actress: Natalie Portman (2nd: Annette Bening)
Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo (2nd: Helena Bonham Carter)
Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (2nd: Geoffrey Rush )
Editing: Black Swan (2nd: The Social Network)
Art Direction: The King's Speech (2nd: Inception)
Sound: Inception (2nd: The King's Speech)
Sound Editing: Inception (2nd: Toy Story 3)
Cinematography: True Grit (2nd: Inception)
Costumes: The King's Speech (2nd: Alice in Wonderland )
Documentary: Inside Job  (2nd: Exit Through The Gift Shop)
Foreign Language: Biutiful (2nd: In a Better World)
Animated Film: Toy Story 3 
Animated Short: Day & Night (2nd: Madagascar)
Live Action Short: God of Love (2nd: Wish 143)
Documentary Short: The Warriors of Qiugang (2nd: Poster Girl)
Makeup: Wolfman
Score: Inception (2nd: The King's Speech)
Song: "We Belong Together" (from Toy Story 3) (2nd: "Country Strong")
Visual Effects: Inception (2nd: Alice in Wonderland)
Last year I got 17 of 24 correct. We'll know how I did this year in a few hours....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Creationism Is "Superstitious Nonsense" Lawsuit Heard

OMG this lawsuit makes me wanna holla! A public school teacher names James Corbett previously lost a federal lawsuit at the district court level for remarks he made in class that student Chad Farnan claimed violated his first amendment religious rights. Now that decision has been appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals:

A Santa Ana federal judge ruled in 2009 that Corbett violated the First Amendment's establishment clause when he referred to Creationism as "religious, superstitious nonsense" during a classroom lecture.
But the judge – noting Corbett would not have necessarily known he was violating student Chad Farnan's constitutional rights – also barred the teacher from having to pay attorney fees and damages under a "qualified immunity" defense. Qualified immunity is a form of federal protection for government employees who have violated an individual's constitutional rights.
Both sides appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit. Corbett is seeking to be vindicated; Farnan is seeking a stronger ruling against Corbett, and for Corbett's qualified immunity to be tossed out.
The 9th Circuit court, which did not make any decisions Friday, has wide discretion with this case. It can rule on any or all of the arguments presented, declare portions to be moot, and/or send the case back to the trial court.
Corbett remains in his teaching position; Farnan, who brought the lawsuit as a sophomore at Capistrano Valley High in December 2007, is now a freshman at Pepperdine University in Malibu.
The teacher also said "When you pray for divine intervention, you're hoping that the spaghetti monster will help you get what you want." This is a reference to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an "alternative" religion. Bizarrely, Erwin Chemerinksy, who I greatly admire and is serving as the attorney for Corbett, had to argue these statements "had legitimate teaching purposes that did not promote hostility toward religion."

Djokovic Beats Federer Easily For 3rd Dubai Title In A Row

Novak Djokovic continued his undefeated 2011 season to 12 matches by dispatching Roger Federer  6-3 6-3 to win his 3rd consecutive Dubai title, and 20th overall. Djokovic was very sharp from the beginning, missing only 3 first serves in the first set and outhitting the Swiss great from both wings, Although Federer held an early break to go up 3-1 in the second set, he lost 5 consecutive games to lose the match as multiple mishits flew off the racket of Federer's backhand.

Djokovic improved to 8 wins out of 21 matches against Federer and has yet to lose in 2011. I wonder who will beat him?

Chart of the Day: Gasoline Taxes Throughout The World

Friday, February 25, 2011

2011 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced

The list of nominees for the 2011 Nebula Awards have been released. I'm always interested in who is up for Best Novel.

  • The Native Star, M.K. Hobson (Spectra)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit UK; Orbit US)
  • Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • Echo, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
  • Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
  • Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis (Spectra)
I have read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but was not impressed. Connie Willis wrote one of my favorite books of all-time, Doomsday Book, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Blackout/All Clear is something of a sequel to that book, and I have just begun Blackout.

Celebrity Friday: Jenny Pizer Leaves Lambda Legal For UCLA Law

Jennifer Pizer
The longtime Marriage Director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Jennifer C. Pizer, has decided to jump ship to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA Law School, where she will become Legal Director and The Arnold D. Kassoy Senior Scholar of Law.

In this newly endowed position at the Williams Institute, Pizer will lead the Institute's projects related to legal research and analysis on LGBT issues.  Her work will include conducting legal research, writing articles and commentary, drafting amicus briefs for key court cases, drafting and providing testimony for legislation, organizing and conducting education programs for judges and lawyers, and teaching courses at UCLA. 

Pizer is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law.  After law school she served as a judicial clerk to the Hon. Ann Aldrich of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, was Legal Director of the National Abortion Rights Action League, and practiced intellectual property and business torts litigation with Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP in San Francisco.  She comes to the Williams Institute from a very successful career at Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she was Senior Counsel and the National Marriage Project Director.    

As an Adjunct Professor, Pizer has taught courses on sexual orientation law at USC Law School, Loyola Law School, and Whittier Law School.  Her publications include, “The Effects of Unequal Access to Health Insurance for Same-sex Couples in California” published in Health Affairs 29, No. 8 (2010), with Ninez Ponce, Susan Cochran, and Vickie Mays; “Facial Discrimination: Darlene Jespersen’s Fight Against the Barbi-fication of Bartenders,” published in Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, Vol. 14, Issue 1 (2007); “Arresting ‘The Plague of Violence’: California’s Unruh Act Requires School Officials to Act Against Anti-Gay Peer Abuse,” published in 12Stanford Law & Policy Review 63 (2001), with Doreena Wong.   She has commented extensively on LGBT legal developments for both leading national media and the legal press.
Congratulations, Jenny!

Federer v. Djokovic in Dubai Final

Roger Federer will face 2011 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2011 Dubai Championships. Federer has won this title in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 while Djokovic won in 2009 and 2010. Federer leads Djokovic head-to-head 13 to 7, but in the last two major championships (2010 US Open and 2011 Australian Open) Djokovic has stopped the 16-time major champion in the semifinal round.
Djokovic is undefeated for 2011, with Federer's only loss for the year coming at the hands of the Serbian.

MadProfessah's prediction: Federer in 3 sets.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maryland State Senate Approves Marriage Equality 25-21

Media Contact:
Linsey Pecikonis
Communications Manager for Equality Maryland


Committed, loving couples across the state one step closer to critical protections 
ANNAPOLIS, FEBRUARY 24, 2011 - Today the Maryland Senate voted 25-21 to pass SB 116, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, legislation that would end the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage in Maryland. Equality Maryland, along with members of the Senate and everyday Marylanders who believe in fairness, celebrate this victory and acknowledge the work ahead to make marriage equality a reality.
Senator Rob Garagiola (D-15), Lead Sponsor
"This is a historic and proud moment in Maryland's history.  The advocates for this legislation have worked tirelessly to this point and will continue to push through the final stages of this movement. I am honored to be a part of this effort and am confident that the Free State will realize full marriage equality in 2011."
Senator Rich Madaleno, (D-18), Lead Sponsor
"The Maryland Senate's vote today passing the Civil Marriage Protection Act is a reflection of the values we share as Marylanders and Americans. It demonstrates our commitment to civil rights and equality for all. The House of Delegates should act swiftly to provide loving families across our state with dignity and the respect we deserve."
Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20), Lead Sponsor
"What a great day for freedom in the Free State. By establishing the right of all Marylanders to marry and the right of all Maryland churches to make their own decision about marriage, we have vindicated the principles of equality and toleration that go back to our Toleration Act of 1649. Our state led the way in showing how people of different values and creeds can live together peacefully. We have lived up to that tradition this week."
Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Executive Director of Equality Maryland
"Today we thank Senators Garagiola, Madaleno, and Raskin for their tremendous leadership. We are proud of all the 25 senators who stood up for the fairness today and voted to support SB 116. We also thank the thousands of Marylanders who have not only worked tirelessly, but also opened their hearts to share their stories and their experiences with their senators to explain why marriage matters.
The majority of folks in the Free State support the freedom to marry. Today our State Senate proved they also stand for fairness for all Maryland's families. Marriage and family are about love and commitment, and we are committed to helping pass marriage equality. Today we celebrate - tomorrow we focus our attention on the House hearing on HB 175."
Senators voting yes:

Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat
Sen. Bill Ferguson, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jennie Forehand, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Brian Frosh, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Rob Garagiola, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Lisa Gladden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Verna Jones, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Baltimore and Howard counties Democrat
Sen. Delores Kelley, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nancy King, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Republican
Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Richard Madaleno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Roger Manno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Karen Montgomery, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Paul Pinsky, Prince George's County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Victor Ramirez, Prince George's County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jamie Raskin, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. James Robey, Howard County Democrat
Sen. James Rosapepe, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. Ronald Young, Frederick County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)
Equality Maryland is Maryland's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, with thousands of members across the entire state. Equality Maryland includes: a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization that lobbies in Annapolis and across the state to create equal protection under the law for LGBT Marylanders and their families; a 501(c)(3) educational foundation that works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through outreach, education, research, community organizing, training and coalition building; and Equality Maryland PAC, which exists to influence elections. For more information, visit

OSCARS 2011: MadProfessah Predicts The Top 8 Categories

Here are my predictions for this Sunday's 83rd Academy Awards, known as the Oscars. This year I was 91% accurate in predicting the nominations in the Top 8 categories. Last year I correctly predicted 6 of 8 of the top categories and 17 of 24 overall.

Best Picture
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“The Kids Are All Right ”
“The King’s Speech”
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3″
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”
Should Win: The Social Network
Will Win: The King's Speech
Best Direction
Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan”
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for “True Grit”
David Fincher for “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech”
David O. Russell for “The Fighter”
Should Win: David Fincher
Will WinDavid Fincher
Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
James Franco in “127 Hours”
Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
Should WinColin Firth 
Will WinColin Firth
Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”
Should WinAnnette Bening 
Will WinNatalie Portman
Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”
Should WinChristian Bale 
Will WinChristian Bale 
Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”
Should WinHelena Bonham Carter 
Will WinMelissa Leo 
Adapted Screenplay
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy for “127 Hours”
Aaron Sorkin for “The Social Network”
Michael Arndt, story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich for “Toy Story 3″
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for “True Grit”
Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini for “Winter’s Bone”
Should Win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Will WinAaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Original Screenplay
Mike Leigh for “Another Year”
Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson. Story by Keith Dorrington and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson for “The Fighter”
Christopher Nolan for “Inception”
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg for “The Kids Are All Right”
David Seidler for “The King’s Speech”
Should WinChristopher Nolan, Inception
Will Win: David SeidlerThe King's Speech 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hawaii Governor Signs Civil Unions Bill Into Law

On Wednesday February 23 Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 232 into law, making Hawaii the seventh state to legalize civil unions. The Democratic governor fulfilled a campaign promise and reversed a decision made by Republican Governor Linda Lingle one year ago. When Hawaii's civil unions law goes into effect on January 1, 2012 it will allow opposite-sex and same-sex couples access to all the rights, responsibilities and benefits of marriage that the state of Hawaii can provide them while not calling such unions marriages.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported:
"E Komo Mai: It means all are welcome," Abercrombie said in remarks before signing the bill into law. "This signing today of this measure says to all of the world that they are welcome. That everyone is a brother or sister here in paradise." 
"The legalization of civil unions in Hawaii represents in my mind equal rights for all people," he said.
The other states that have civil unions (or comprehensive domestic partnership statutes) which provide all the state rights, responsibilities and benefits of marriage through a "separate but equal" legal status are:  California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New Jersey and Illinois. Only the last two of these states actually call their laws "civil unions." The laws in these states are open to opposite-sex and same-sex couples. Three other states, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut previously had civil unions laws on the books which were superseded by the enactment of marriage equality in those states. The states with comprehensive domestic partnership laws generally limit eligibility to opposite-sex couples where one partner is above 62 and all adult same-sex couples.

Obama Administrations Ends Legal Defense of DOMA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                              AG
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2011                                                             (202) 514-2007
WWW.JUSTICE.GOV                                                                             TDD (202) 514-1888

WASHINGTON – The Attorney General made the following statement today about the Department’s course of action in two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman:

In the two years since this Administration took office, the Department of Justice has defended Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act on several occasions in federal court.  Each of those cases evaluating Section 3 was considered in jurisdictions in which binding circuit court precedents hold that laws singling out people based on sexual orientation, as DOMA does, are constitutional if there is a rational basis for their enactment.  While the President opposes DOMA and believes it should be repealed, the Department has defended it in court because we were able to advance reasonable arguments under that rational basis standard. 

Section 3 of DOMA has now been challenged in the Second Circuit, however, which has no established or binding standard for how laws concerning sexual orientation should be treated.  In these cases, the Administration faces for the first time the question of whether laws regarding sexual orientation are subject to the more permissive standard of review or whether a more rigorous standard, under which laws targeting minority groups with a history of discrimination are viewed with suspicion by the courts, should apply.

After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny.  The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional.  Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases.  I fully concur with the President’s determination.

Consequently, the Department will not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA as applied to same-sex married couples in the two cases filed in the Second Circuit.  We will, however, remain parties to the cases and continue to represent the interests of the United States throughout the litigation.  I have informed Members of Congress of this decision, so Members who wish to defend the statute may pursue that option.  The Department will also work closely with the courts to ensure that Congress has a full and fair opportunity to participate in pending litigation. 

Furthermore, pursuant to the Presidents instructions, and upon further notification to Congress, I will instruct Department attorneys to advise courts in other pending DOMA litigation of the President's and my conclusions that a heightened standard should apply, that Section 3 is unconstitutional under that standard and that the Department will cease defense of Section 3. 

The Department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense.  At the same time, the Department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because – as here – the Department does not consider every such argument to be a “reasonable” one.  Moreover, the Department has declined to defend a statute in cases, like this one, where the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional. 

Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed DOMA.  The Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional.  Congress has repealed the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.  Several lower courts have ruled DOMA itself to be unconstitutional.  Section 3 of DOMA will continue to remain in effect unless Congress repeals it or there is a final judicial finding that strikes it down, and the President has informed me that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law.  But while both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court.


Montana House Passes Anti-LGBT Civil Rights Bill 60-39

Wow. What will the impact of of the 2010 election of hundreds of Republican state legislators on the rights of LGBT people be around the country? Probably a detrimental one.

The State House of Montana just passed the most anti-gay bill in the nation by a vote of 60-39 which would prevent any local entity from enacting local civil rights ordinances which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (Note, this is a more extreme anti-LGBT public policy position than the state of Utah and the Mormon Church.) There was only one such ordinance in the state, in the college town of Missoula, Montana. And it was only enacted last year!

From The Missoulian ("Bill to nullify Missoula's equality ordinance receives backing in House"):
Missoula's Democratic legislators were infuriated by the passage of House Bill 516, by Rep. Kristin Hansen, R-Havre. Her bill passed 60-39 and faces a final House vote before heading to the Senate.

Sixty Republicans voted for it. All 32 Democrats voted opposed it, joined by seven Republicans. One Republican was absent.


As sponsor, Hansen said HB516 would prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances or policies that seek to protect residents from real or perceived discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender as Missoula did through an ordinance and Bozeman through a policy.
She said the Missoula City Council adopted the ordinance and provided an enforcement mechanism that fell outside of that in the Montana Human Rights Act.

"It would apply retroactively to the city of Missoula's ordinance in order to keep all businesses and all entities on a level playing field," Hansen said. "All discrimination claims will have to go through the human rights procedures as designated by the Montana Human Rights (Commission)."


"Our community is filled with possibly the biggest gay and lesbian population in the state," said Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula. "We are a community with the University of Montana. We have a lot of young people. We passed this ordinance because we wanted to protect our own citizens, our own people. You don't have to agree with it." 
Sands said she is proud to be part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and told the House: "There are thousands of ‘us' living in Montana. We are your neighbors, your work colleagues, we are part of your families, we sit in the pew next to you at church, and we serve in elective offices with you." 
Along with other LGBT Montanans and their families, Sands said she was claiming her constitutional right to equality and justice under Montana's constitutional provision that says: "The dignity of the human being is inviolable. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws." 
"It doesn't say, except for gay people," she said.

The bill  is reminiscent of Colorado's Amendment 2 which was struck down by the United States Supreme Court in Romer v. Evans by a 6-3 vote in 1996. However, that was an anti-gay voter initiative (which overturned local gay rights ordinances in Boulder, Aspen and Denver) while this is a legislatively enacted measure which still needs to go through the upper body and be signed into law by Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat.  The notion that the state is trying to enact a uniform enforcement procedure for discrimination is a transparent fiction. Obviously, the Montana Human Rights Act does NOT include sexual orientation and gender identity and the same Republicans voted to kill a measure which would have added those characteristics. Presumably, Schweitzer will veto the measure if it reaches his desk but has not made a public statement on the measure so far.


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