Should we Push for Marriage or Compromise on Civil Unions? May 9th Marriage News Watch

Uploaded by marriagenewswatch on 08.05.2011

Disagreement over marriage versus civil unions could drive Rhode Island's LGBT activists
against each other. An unknown source is funneling millions of dollars to anti-gay groups in
fifteen states. We'll talk about Target's role in Minnesota's double-ban on marriage,
and share some good news from Brazil, Scotland, and Taiwan.
I'm Matt Baume, and welcome to Marriage News Watch for May 9, 2011.
Marriage News Watch is made possible by Marriage Equality USA, Carbonated: A Creative Agency,
and viewers like you.
The fight for civil unions grew even more heated in Rhode Island this week with the
introduction of a civil unions bill. One week earlier, sponsors of a marriage bill decided
to pull their legislation due to what they felt was a lack of votes. But now, this civil
unions compromise, introduced by Representative Peter Petrarca, is coming under fire from
groups like Marriage Equality Rhode Island and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.
GLAD criticized House Speaker Gordon Fox for giving up on the marriage bill, and Rhode
Island Marriage Equality began formulating plans to vote out anti-marriage legislators
in 2012. That's likely to include Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, a Democrat who opposes
But in order for that effort to be successful, Marriage Equality Rhode Island still needs
the House to vote on marriage equality in order to determine out who needs to be voted
out. Marriage bill sponsor Arthur Handy may be able to force a vote by attaching an amendment
to the civil unions bill, which would also endanger its chances of passage.
Meanwhile, around the country, we're starting to see a surge in spending on anti-gay campaigns
through a program called Ignite an Enduring Cultural Transformation. The cash is flowing
to Family Research Councils in 15 states, which have created 3-year plans to oppose
marriages, as well as anti-discrimination and abortion legislation.
The source of the money is unclear, but it adds up to millions more than has been spent
in past years. It includes anti-gay initiatives in Idaho, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arizona,
West Virginia, Tennessee, Kansas, Louisiana, Florida, Indiana, and Massachusetts.
The biggest spending is in Virginia, where an anti-gay group is getting $1.2 million;
in New Jersey, which is getting $1.3 million; Pennsylvania with $1.5 million, and Minnesota,
with $4.7 million.
Pennsylvania and Minnesota are of particular importance, because they're both facing Constitutional
amendments to ban marriage. Pennsylvania's was introduced this week by Representative
Daryl Metcalfe. And Minnesota's, which would duplicate a ban that already exists, has been
working its way through the legislature for several weeks.
That's thanks, in part, to Target. You'll remember several months ago when it came to
light that the retailer was pouring huge amounts of cash into the campaigns of anti-gay candidates.
And now two of those politicians, Representatives Doug Magnus and Kurt Zellers, are likely to
play a role in passing Minnesota's double-ban on marriage. To this day, Target still won't
pledge to stop funneling money to anti-gay politicians.
But there's some good news in Illinois, where civil unions are set to begin on June 2nd.
Lawmakers and LGBT couples will mark the occasion with a ceremony at 10am at Wrigley Square,
where Governor Pat Quinn will oversee the civil unioning of thirty couples. Click over
here to watch our interview with Phil Reese about exactly how Illinois activists made
civil unions a reality.
And in New York, both sides continue to lay foundations for the upcoming marriage fight.
This week Bill Clinton released a statement endorsing marriage, which is better late than
never, and Chelsea was photographed phonebanking for our side.
Also this week, a coalition of civil rights groups released a very soft TV commercial
for marriage, and are gearing up for a day of lobbying on May 9th in Albany.
But anti-gay groups are pushing back hard. They've pledged to spend $1 million to unseat
any Republican who supports marriage, and they're planning an anti-marriage rally on
May 15th. The same day as New York's annual AIDS Walk.
There was also big news this week in immigration, with Attorney General Eric Holder taking the
extraordinary move of personally intervening to stop the deportation of Paul Wilson Dorman.
The Board of Immigration Appeals had previously ruled that Dorman should be deported, despite
having a civil union with an American citizen.
In his ruling, Holder ordered the BIA to re-examine whether couples with civil unions can be considered
spouses, and whether their finding would have been different in the absence of DOMA. While
it's unclear how this changes the playing field, it could be a sign that Holder is seeking
legal justification for ending the long-standing practice of deporting gay spouses.
And the move had immediate ramifications for Henry and Josh, the bi-national couple in
New Jersey who faced a deportation hearing on Friday. At that hearing, the judge decided
to put Henry's removal on hold for another six months, due to the uncertainty around
DOMA's application.
Click here to watch our interview with Josh about how he and Henry met, and what it would
mean if the government ordered them to be separated.
Let's take a quick look at some other major headlines this week. At the GOP debate in
South Carolina, nobody had anything nice to say about LGBTs, with Ron Paul expressing
support for DOMA because, he says, it protects states. It's great that Ron Paul is more concerned
about the welfare of the state than of the people who actually live in it.
Representative Pete Stark introduced the "Every Child Deserves a Family Act," which seeks
to end adoption bias. Despite 100,000 children awaiting adoptive families in this country
and 2 million LGBT adults willing to adopt, one third of adoption agencies reject parents
simply because they're gay. Stark's law would divert adoption funding to states that practice
inclusive adoptions, and could save the country three to six billion dollars.
And one the many legal cases against DOMA could move ahead on Monday with a judge potentially
setting a schedule for arguments in Windsor versus United States, in which Edie Windsor
was charged a $350,000 gay death tax when her spouse of 44 years passed away.
Turning to international news, the Supreme Federal Court in the heavily Catholic country
of Brazil voted in favor of civil unions this week by a margin 10-0, joining Argentina and
Uruguay in offering protections to same-sex couples.
The Scottish National Party won a majority in Parliament, and is expected to open talks
on marriage equality.
And Taiwan is moving ahead with plans to implement age-appropriate lessons in elementary schools
on LGBT issues.
Those are the headlines, join us over at for more on all of these stories and more.
Remember to check us out at and follow mnwatch on Twitter. Click here
to subscribe to us on YouTube, and over to the right to get caught up on previous episodes,
including last week's news about the turmoil on DOMA's legal defense team and get more
background on the fight for immigration equality.
We'll see you next week.
Marriage News Watch is made possible by Marriage Equality USA, Carbonated: A Creative Agency,
and viewers like you.