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DOJ: Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional

In a federal court brief filed July 1, the Department of Justice cited the Atlanta Police Department’s raid on the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar, as evidence of ongoing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Department of Justice filed the brief in the legal case involving federal employee Karen Golinski. The brief argues that the federal court should not dismiss her claim that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Golinski is suing the government for equal access to health benefits for her wife.

The brief, filed on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management and other defendants in the case, begins by saying “Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. Section 7 (‘DOMA’), unconstitutionally discriminates.”

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Anti-gay NOM steps up pressure on King & Spalding

National Organization for Marriage logoThe National Organization for Marriage announced today the creation of a new campaign targeted at the King & Spalding law firm over their decision to abandon representation for the U.S. House of Representatives in the ongoing legal battles surrounding the Defense of Marriage Act.

NOM has put together the “We're There Until You Need Us” campaign where supporters are invited to sign a petition telling the law firm the decision to back out of representation is a mistake.

Not that I'm an expert on branding campaigns, but the name of NOM's latest anti-gay effort doesn't make a lot of sense. Who is there until you need them, NOM? King & Spalding?

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By the numbers: Your tax dollars at work

$520

Hourly rate the U.S. House planned to pay law firm King & Spalding to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal ban on gay marriage.

$500,000

The initial cap on congressional payments to King & Spalding, which could be negotiated higher.

$193.3 million

What the military spent from 2004 to 2009 to replace gay troops discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The policy is now being repealed.

$125,000

Estimated cost of one congressional hearing. Since resuming control of the U.S. House, Republicans have held three on gay issues: Two on repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and one on DOMA.

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King & Spalding controversy shows danger of basing our movement on marketing

Once upon a time, it was hard to get companies to support LGBT organizations. They worried they would lose their non-gay customers if they were open about wanting gay ones.

So we got smart: We showed how much discretionary income same-gender couples without kids had. Never mind that it was less than opposite-gender couple without kids, it was still a good argument.

Not only did it give the marketing teams cover, it had the added benefit of being true: We were a valuable target market. “The color of diversity,” we would say, “is green.”

As some of the big companies came out as supporters, their employees came out as LGBT. Then their friends and family members started coming out as LGBT-supportive. Visibility was shifting every landscape. Next thing you know, 20 years later, we not only have friends in high places, we have our own people there —running companies, winning election to Congress and hosting major TV news shows.

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DOMA may cause gay man to lose home after husband’s death

Freedom to Marry, a national organization dedicated to marriage equality, has released a video showing the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act on one gay couple.

Titled, "Why Ron is Losing His Home: the Defense of Marriage Act," the slightly more than 2-minute video shares the story of Ron Wallen, 77, after the death of his husband and partner of 58 years, Tom Carrollo.

Carrollo and Wallen were legally married in California in 2008 before Proposition 8 was passed, making it now illegal for same-sex couples to marry. When Carrollo died on March 8, 2011, Wallen lost a source of income that may cause him to have to sell their home.

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National Organization for Marriage launches King & Spalding ‘investigation’

National Organization for Marriage logoThe bad news keeps piling up for the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

Just last week, a new CNN/Opinion Research Poll found that a slim majority of Americans actually support marriage equality for same-sex couples. A similar poll conducted by CBS and the Washington Post also found more Americans than ever before support marriage equality.

And, of course, we can't forget the former NOM strategist, Louis Marinelli, who jumped ship in early April and now supports marriage equality. We have a great interview with Marinelli here, by the way.

On the heels of the news that Atlanta-based King & Spalding would not represent the U.S. House of Representatives in the on-going legal battles against the Defense of Marriage Act, NOM announced today that it was launching an investigation into whether the law firm broke any rules of professional conduct or if the firm “acted illegally” in deciding to withdraw from the case.

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Breaking: King & Spalding attorney Paul Clement leaves firm to keep defending DOMA

Paul Clement, the attorney hired by the U.S. House to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, has resigned his position at King & Spalding after the law firm decided not to defend the case, according to Politico.com, a website covering politics and other news.

Politico writer Josh Gerstein shares part of Clement's resignation letter:

"I resign out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do ... I recognized from the outset that this statute implicate very sensitive issues that prompt strong views on both sides. But having undertaken the representation, I believe there is no honorable court for me but to complete it," writes Clement.

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Human Rights Campaign mobilizing new effort against Defense of Marriage Act

The Human Rights Campaign is calling on supporters to contact their representatives in Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Respect for Marriage Act, introduced this week by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and sponsored by more than 100 House members, will repeal DOMA, the 1996 law that restricts federal recognition of marriage to one man and one woman.

According to the HRC:

“The Defense of Marriage Act is denying tens of thousands of legally married lesbian and gay couples across the country more than 1,000 federal protections they deserve. These federal protections of marriage include Social Security survivors' benefits, family and medical leave, equal compensation as federal employees, and immigration rights, among others.”

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U.S. House panel votes to defend federal gay marriage ban

Nancy Pelosi

A U.S. House panel voted March 9 along party lines to direct general counsel to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court following President Obama’s announcement that his administration would no longer defend the statute against litigation.

In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which he convened last week after the president’s announcement, had come to the conclusion to direct the House General Counsel to defend DOMA after the Wednesday meeting.

“Today, after consultation with the Bipartisan Leadership Advisory Group, the House General Counsel has been directed to initiate a legal defense of this law,” Boehner said. “This action by the House will ensure that this law’s constitutionality is decided by the courts, rather than by the President unilaterally.”

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Democrats reintroduce ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ to repeal gay marriage ban

Speaker of the House John Boehner

In the continuing wake of President Barack Obama's announcement that the Department of Justice would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, Democrats have begun the process to repeal the 1996 ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriage by reintroducing the “Respect for Marriage Act.”

The bill, originally introduced in 2009, would legislatively repeal DOMA. Sponsored by more than 100 representatives, including all four openly gay members of Congress, the bill faces an uphill battle to move out of the Republican-controlled House.

"DOMA now is viewed with deep skepticism from all sides,” said Lambda Legal National Marriage Project Director Jennifer C. Pizer in a released statement. “When members of Congress wrote this discrimination into law in 1996, they made a theoretical pronouncement, prompted both by popular anxiety at the thought that same-sex couples might start marrying, and by the personal and religious views of some about family life. But the days of theorizing are behind us.”