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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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Obama DOMA decision could have major impact

Speaker of the House John Boehner expects the House to defend DOMA in court

Political decisions are a lot like oceanic earthquakes. First, there’s the quake, and then there’s the wave. Nobody can tell just how significant the wave is until it reaches land. Sometimes, the wave has greater impact than the earthquake; sometimes, it’s just a swell.

So it is with the decision by the Obama Department of Justice to call the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The news was a political earthquake for the LGBT community. Now, there’s the wait-and-see for how big an impact the announcement will have.

In this case, there are two waves to watch for: the legal and the political.

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Newt Gingrich readies presidential bid?

Newt Gingrich a possible presidential candidate

Former Speaker of the House, serial divorcer and former Georgia resident Newt Gingrich announced today that he is considering a run at the White House in 2012, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Gingrich has set up a website, www.newtexplore2012.com, in an effort to judge interest in his possible candidacy and has begun to register supporters.

“We are excited about exploring whether there is sufficient support for my potential candidacy for president of this exceptional country,” the website reads.

Gingrich also expressed an interest in running for the presidency in the past, though he never fielded a primary campaign. Gingrich has been considered a probable candidate in 2012 since the 2008 general election.

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[Video] Hawaii governor signs civil union law

Yesterday, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law a bill legalizing civil unions for the state's same-sex couples. In doing so, Hawaii became the seventh state to enact civil union legislation for same-sex couples.

Hawaii's state Senate voted to pass the legislation by a 19 to 6 margin, while the House voted 31 to 19.

According to Hawaiian ABC affiliate KITV, the law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, though equality advocates in the state are already celebrating.

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Gay lawmaker predicts contentious year for General Assembly

Karla Drenner

A new governor, new lawmakers, new party affiliations and the third year of $1 billion budget shortfalls may result in one of the most contentious General Assembly sessions Georgia has seen.

“I think if you want to think of the nasty ugliest things that you could possibly imagine, that will be this year’s General Assembly,” said Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates). “I think the fight will be about everything. Now that [Republicans] have such a big majority they can do anything so I think you will see personal fights, budget fights, fights about everything.”

The annual 40-day legislative session begins Jan. 10, the same day Nathan Deal will be inaugurated as Georgia’s new governor.

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President Obama calls ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal ‘historic step’

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama responded to the Senate’s passage of a stand-alone repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

The Senate passed repeal 65 to 31 on Saturday. The House passed an identical measure last week 250 to 175.

The bill will now make its way to the president to be signed into law.

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Senate votes for cloture on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ repeal almost certain

The United States Senate debated a stand-alone repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy today. The debate came after several failed attempts by the Senate to pass repeal as an amendment to the 2011 Defense Authorization Act.

Senate Republicans previously blocked the measures by forcing continued debate. Today was the first time that the Senate was able to pass cloture, allowing a final vote on the bill. The cloture vote was 63 to 33. Some 60 votes were needed for it to pass.

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U.S. House votes to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a stand-alone repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this afternoon. The House previously passed a measure to overturn the policy as part of a piece of defense legislation, but recent repeal stalls in the Senate prompted House leaders to revisit the issue.

The final vote total was 250 to 175.

Some 15 Republicans voted for repeal. Only five Republicans voted for repeal when the House took on the measure earlier in the year.

In the debate leading up to a final vote on the bill, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) made an impassioned plea on the House floor for passage.

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Frank pessimistic about pro-LGBT legislation

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told the Washington Blade today that he sees “zero chance” of any pro-LGBT legislation coming out of the House of Representatives in the next two years while under Republican control.

“It will be a status quo,” Frank told the paper. “They don’t have the votes to hurt us but we don’t have the votes to advance anything in the cause.”

Frank won a tough reelection battle during the midterm elections against Tea Party-backed Sean Bielat. The win secures his 16th term in the House.

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U.S. House, Senate committee vote to repeal DADT

Ga. Rep. John Lewis voted to repeal DADT

Efforts to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy gained significant momentum May 27 when both the U.S. House and the Senate Armed Services Committee passed amendments to repeal the ban.

“Just like the military helped end segregation based on race, we should have put an end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ long ago. It is an affront to human dignity and to the dignity and the worth of every man and woman serving in our military,” U.S. Rep. John Lewis said during debate on the House floor.

“We cannot wait. We cannot be patient,” Lewis said. “We must end discrimination in the military, and we must end it now. Discrimination is wrong, and we must end it now.”