A group of gay and lesbian New York state legislators and NYC politicians including NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, state Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, and Assemblyman Matthew Titone are demanding that President Obama respond and demounce Russia’s crackdown on LGBT people and cancel an upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin.
Dear President Obama:
We write as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elected officials from New York City in anticipation of your deciding whether to continue or cancel plans for an upcoming diplomatic trip to Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. While you are considering whether to cancel that trip in light of Russia’s decision to give asylum to Edward Snowden, we also urge you to consider the country’s horrendous treatment of members of the LGBT community and its clear human rights abuses aimed at our community. Russia has become a country that persecutes anyone who might be LGBT or supports gay rights.
As then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on behalf of your administration, “Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights. It should never be a crime to be gay.” Given that President Putin and Russia have enacted laws to criminalize gay people and supporters and deny human rights to their LGBT citizens, they should not be the beneficiary of any trip by your office until they fully restore all civil rights to LGBT people in their country. Recent actions taken by the Russian government have led LGBT citizens to face not only a society that is intolerant of their basic civil rights, but also a country that would imprison them for declaring support for their own fundamental rights as humans. This has promoted an atmosphere of hate where gay people fear for their own lives and safety. Police are allowed to arrest foreigners who are considered gay or pro-gay and detain them for up to 14 days. Under their new law, as a pro-gay supporter even you could be subject to arrest and imprisonment while in Russia.
Mr. President, you will remember that in December 2011 the White House released a presidential memorandum directing executive officers and agencies that deal in foreign affairs to address human rights abuses against LGBT people abroad and to pressure foreign governments to decriminalize homosexuality. Now it is time for you and your administration to directly act on this memorandum. The LGBT community and its allies in Russia are under attack and the victims of clear human rights abuses. We urge you to stand in solidarity with us. Refuse any diplomatic mission to Russia until President Putin stops these abuses now and agrees to make Russia a country that proudly supports its LGBT community and its allies worldwide. We expect nothing less.
Other N.Y. political signatories include Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, Assemblyman Micah Kellner, and NYC Council members Jimmy Van Bramer, Rosie Mendez, and Daniel Dromm.
Both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have been silent about the atrocities being perpetrated against Russia’s LGBT community
As we all know by now the Supreme Court issued orders granting hearings in the Prop 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, and one Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case, Windsor v. United States.
Prop. 8 is granted on the petition question — whether 14th Am. bars Calif. from defining marriage in traditional way. Plus an added question: Whether the backers of Prop.. 8 have standing in the case under Art. III.
In Windsor, the government petition (12-307) is the one granted. In addition to the petition question — whether Sec. 3 of DOMA violates equal protection under 5th Amendment, there are two other questions: does the fact that government agreed with the 2d CA decision deprive the Court of jurisdiction to hear and decide the case, and whether BLAG (House GOP leaders) has Art. III standing in this case.
Many expected SCOTUS to take up the Windsor v. United States DOMA case but many, myself included had hoped that they would pass on Prop 8 bringing to an end the 4 years of fighting over same-sex marriage in California and making it legal once again.
Is it a bad omen that SCOTUS took BOTH cases? Or perhaps maybe a calculated move?
If SCOTUS did indeed pass on Prop 8 which would automatically have made same-sex marriage legal in California once again and took the DOMA case it would have given the impression that the Supreme Court was leaning left on same sex marriage and would have opened up a huge can of worms with anti-gay right-wing republicans and groups until the June hearing. Did SCOTUS take both cases to keep the drama to a minimum from both sides until the time it can announce BOTH cases at the same time to get it over with all at once?
Either way one thing is certain. When the decisions come down in June will be HUGE one way or another and will impact both the lives and the meaning if what it means to be a LGBT American and our community should be ready to react appropriately regardless of the outcome.
He’s some reactions and spin from pro-LGBT and anti-LGBT organizations alike on SCOTUS’ decision to hear both cases.
National Organization For Marriage:
“We believe that it is significant that the Supreme Court has taken the Prop 8 case. We believe it is a strong signal that the Court will reverse the lower courts and uphold Proposition 8. That is the right outcome based on the law and based on the principle that voters hold the ultimate power over basic policy judgments and their decisions are entitled to respect. Had the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts’ decisions invalidating Proposition 8, it could simply have declined to grant certiorari in the case. It’s a strong signal that the justices are concerned with the rogue rulings that have come out of San Francisco at both the trial court and appellate levels. It’s worth noting that Judge Reinhart is the most overruled judge in America. I think this case will add to his record.” – John Eastman, chairman of NOM.
This is an exciting moment in our journey toward equality. DOMA is a terrible law that forces our government to discriminate against loving same-sex couples, and it is time for it to go. It is clear that DOMA’s days are numbered. Every one of the cases that the Court was considering makes a clear and compelling case for striking down this outrageous and discriminatory law. As we have throughout this litigation, we will contribute support and file a friend-of-the-court brief. We look forward to working with the ACLU and other sister organizations in making this case before the Court. As for Hollingsworth v. Perry, while the Supreme Court’s decision to review the Ninth Circuit’s correct and carefully-worded ruling delays the restoration of equal access to marriage for same-sex couples in California, we believe the lower court rulings in California will stand.
Family Research Council:
President Tony Perkins made the following comments regarding the decision:
“Virtually nothing is more important to the future of our country than marriage and the family. This is why we are pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to examine lower court decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8. It was completely appropriate for Congress, using DOMA in 1996, to create uniformity in federal law and explicitly confirm that ‘marriage’ would be between one man and one woman for federal purposes – as it always had been. Since President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law, 30 states have followed suit by incorporating the definition of marriage into their constitutions.
“Should the Supreme Court decide to overturn the marriage laws of 41 states, the ruling would become even more divisive than the Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision. Marriage, unlike abortion laws in the 1970s, has been incorporated into the state constitutions of 30 states. Voters in these states will not accept an activist court redefining our most fundamental social institution.
“However, we remain confident that in the end, the U.S. Supreme Court will recognize that DOMA is supported by numerous legitimate legislative purposes – all of which are consistent with our principles of federalism. The argument that the authors of our Constitution created or even implied a ‘right’ to redefine ‘marriage’ lies outside our constitutional law.
“Additionally, we believe that the people’s vote on Proposition 8 should be respected. Activist courts like the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit should not overturn their decision. We hope the Supreme Court will recognize the right of the people to uphold marriage as it has always been defined,”
Freedom To Marry:
“By agreeing to hear a case against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Court can now move swiftly to affirm what 10 federal rulings have already said: DOMA’s ‘gay exception’ to how the federal government treats married couples violates the Constitution and must fall. When it comes to the whole federal safety net that accompanies marriage – access to Social Security survivorship, health coverage, family leave, fair tax treatment, family immigration, and over 1000 other protections and responsibilities — couples who are legally married in the states should be treated by the federal government as what they are: married.” “Additionally, gay and lesbian couples in California – and indeed, all over the country – now look to the Supreme Court to affirm that the Constitution does not permit states to strip something as important as the freedom to marry away from one group of Americans.”
Washington, DC — The Supreme Court announced that it will take up two marriage laws, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (U.S. v. Windsor) and California’s Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry), a state marriage amendment. The High Court will decide both cases by the end of the term in June 2013.
If the DOMA case is dismissed because the Legislative Branch had no standing to continue the appeal, than that would mean the federal court of appeals decision would be vacated and only the lower district court decision in the Southern District would stand, meaning the impact of the decision would be limited to only the Bronx, Dutchess, New York City, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester. The decision would not affect the entire state of New York and certainly not the surrounding states in the circuit court of appeals.
If the Prop 8 case were dismissed on standing, that would mean the federal court of appeals decision would be vacated and only the lower district court decision in the Northern District would stand, meaning the impact of the decision would be limited to Alemeda, Contra Costa, Humboldt, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, and some other Northern counties. The decision would not affect the entire state of California, nor would it affect the other states within the circuit court of appeals.
“Redefining marriage to include same-sex unions would undermine marriage and the family and would have significant negative social consequences,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The United States Supreme Court has previously indicated in Baker v. Nelson that the U.S. Constitution does not grant a right for same-sex couples to marry. Common sense and a quick read of the Constitution say there is no such right to same-sex marriage. Based on the questions which the Supreme Court will decide, these cases could either be blockbusters or duds. The Court could decide the central issue of same-sex marriage, but the Court could also kick the can down the road and save that question for another day.”
Human Rights Campaign:
“Today is a milestone day for equal justice under the law and for millions of loving couples who want to make a lifelong commitment through marriage. The passage of Proposition 8 caused heartbreak for so many Americans, but today’s announcement gives hope that we will see a landmark Supreme Court ruling for marriage this term. As the Court has ruled 14 times in the past, marriage is a fundamental right and I believe they will side with liberty, freedom and equality, moving us toward a more perfect union as they have done in the past. “Proposition 8 has been already been declared unconstitutional in Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Now the Supreme Court has an opportunity to do the same and send a resounding message of hope to LGBT young people from coast to coast that they have the same dignity and same opportunities for the future as everyone else
Focus on the Family:
“The Supreme Court’s decision today to determine whether the Constitution allows state and federal government to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman is a welcome development. When the executive branch of the government is no longer willing to defend its own law, the final arbiter must be the highest court in the land. Today’s announcement sets in motion a process that may conclude with one of the most momentous decisions ever rendered by the United States Supreme Court. Will the Court affirm the basic design of the family that has stood throughout cultures worldwide for multiple millennia, or will it engage in a sweeping exercise of social re-engineering with profound ramifications for this and future generations? The justices and personnel involved deserve our prayers for wisdom and discernment.” – Jim Daly, president of Focus On The Family.
“The day we’ve been waiting for is finally here. Today we scored a MAJOR victory for traditional marriage in the Supreme Court of the United States!! Just moments ago, the Supreme Court GRANTED our petition seeking the Court’s review of the Ninth Circuit’s erroneous decision striking down California’s Proposition 8. Thankfully, now we finally have a fighting chance at a fair hearing to defend the votes of over 7 million Californians who approved Prop 8 to restore traditional marriage. This is a great relief, after a long and difficult journey through the lower courts where the deck was stacked against us from the start.” – California-based hate group Protect Marriage, via press release.