Thursday, June 27, 2013

  • LGBT Movement Wins Defeat of DOMA & Prop 8, Fueling Momentum for Next Steps in Fight for Equality

    Stuart_gaffney-john_lewis

    In a historic victory for marriage equality, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and paved the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California. In a 5-to-4 decision, the court ruled the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act — or DOMA — signed by President Clinton into law is unconstitutional. This means that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to claim the same 1,100 federal benefits as heterosexual couples. The Supreme Court also ruled supporters of the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California do not have standing to appeal a lower-court ruling that overturned it. This effectively gives the green light for same-sex weddings to proceed in California, the most populous state in the country. We’re joined by Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis, two of the plaintiffs in the California marriage cases that established the freedom to marry before Prop 8 went into effect. They have been together for 26 years and married in 2008 before Prop 8 passed. Both work at Marriage Equality USA: Gaffney is the media director, and Lewis is the legal director. "The reality is that the Supreme Court has moved forward the law in a tremendous way with these two cases decided yesterday, but it’s also moved forward the dialogue," Gaffney says.

  • The New Black: Documentary Film Explores Divisions in African-American Community over LGBT Rights

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    We continue our coverage of gay marriage and equal rights with a new film that explores the divisions among African-Americans on the issue of marriage equality. Despite longstanding opposition from church leadership, the documentary looks at how the black church played a critical role in the passage of the Maryland vote upholding marriage equality in 2012. Set to air on PBS next year, "The New Black" has just won the audience award at AFI Docs and this weekend plays at Frameline, the nation’s largest LGBT film festival, in San Francisco. We’re joined by the film’s director, Yoruba Richen. "The black church is a big factor in Maryland," Richen says. "[After] they really engaged, I think that’s how come you saw the outcome in Maryland, which for the first time the public voted to uphold marriage equality."

  • The People’s Filibuster: Texas Governor Revives Anti-Abortion Bill Defeated by Protesters, Lawmakers

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    Just hours after pro-choice advocates and lawmakers defeated a bill that would have shut down nearly all abortion clinics in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry announced he is reviving the bill by calling another special session of the legislature on July 1. "I am calling the legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas," Perry said. "Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn." Perry’s move could overrule the efforts of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who led a filibuster that lasted nearly 11 hours before Republicans cut her off. That was when her colleagues and the protesters in the gallery took over. Democrats raised objections, and protesters raised their voices, drowning out the proceedings in the final minutes before the session officially ended at midnight. Republicans claimed they had passed the bill anyway, but Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst finally conceded the vote had come too late, blaming what he called an "unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics." Those who were on the ground prefer to call it "a people’s filibuster." We’re joined by Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, who was there to announce Wednesday’s victory in the Capitol rotunda, which holds a portrait of her mother, the late Texas Governor Ann Richards, another staunch advocate for women’s rights. "This is the most extreme bill I know that we’re fighting in the country," Richards says. "[Gov. Perry] is putting his own political agenda ahead of the women of Texas."