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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Marry Me Minnesota Gets 10,000 Challenge Grant

From Doug Benson of Marry Me Minnesota:

I met a middle-aged lesbian couple (they wish to remain anonymous) who came to protest at the Capitol late in the session. They are as fed up with the lack of action on marriage equality as we are and after learning of Marry Me Minnesota's intention to sue the state, decided to contribute to the effort.

After making an initial substantial contribution earlier this month, they offered a second, larger contribution to Marry Me Minnesota in the form of a $10,000 matching grant in the hope of encouraging broader investment from the community. They set a deadline of August 1 for the grant to be matched, so we are hoping that people will contribute as much as they can during this limited window of opportunity to have their donations matched, dollar for dollar.

To put this generous grant in perspective, Marry Me Minnesota has raised a total of $9000 since we started last fall. Upon signing the first retainer with our law firm, in December, we paid them $3000 to prepare the case. Our next step is to sign a new retainer covering the trial phase of the suit. The law firm is requiring $10,000 upon signing, at which point the suit will be filed in court. Ninety days after the signing, we're required to present them with another $10,000. You can see that this matching grant, when matched, will go a long way to paying for the case.

The amount being charged by the law firm sounds like a lot of money, but the thirty to sixty thousand dollars they have estimated it will take to cover the case represents about one tenth the going rate. I spoke with another local law firm that estimated they would charge about $300,000 for this case. So, we realize our law firm, Mansfield, Tanick and Cohen is taking our case, basically pro bono.

We have about $6000 on hand right now but we hope people who want to see Minnesota's discriminatory marriage laws challenged in court will take advantage of the matching grant to match their contributions, dollar for dollar, and get us beyond the filing threshold very soon. Once the suit is filed, the publicity should help in raising the remaining funds.

This month marks a year since we started. It's been a long slog, but we've kept moving forward and now we're near our goal of accessing the judicial branch to try to bring an end to official discrimination against our families.

Richard Rosendall: Gays Should Take a Page out of the NRA's Handbook

Independent Gay Forum:

Gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny was in the White House on June 17 to attend the signing of the Presidential Memorandum on benefits for the same-sex partners of federal employees. While he was waiting, he made some inquiries as to whether the President knew in advance about the now-notorious Department of Justice brief in the Smelt v. United States case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. The answer from a gay staffer was no — Obama was furious when he learned of the brief.

That does not get the President and his staff — including senior folk at DOJ — off the hook. Even conceding that the President has to defend the law on the books despite favoring its repeal, the DOJ brief goes beyond the call of duty with illogical and insulting arguments. There is a claim that DOMA is not discriminatory because a gay person can marry someone of the opposite sex, and a claim that federal neutrality on state law requires it not to recognize same-sex marriages, whereas in fact the federal practice is to recognize state choices.

Gay legal commentator Dale Carpenter writes, "Of most interest is what the DOJ has to say about the due process and equal protection claims, rejecting just about every single variation of an argument that gay-rights scholars and litigants have made over the past 30 years."

DOJ officials will reportedly meet this week with LGBT advocates to discuss the DOMA-related cases. That is fortunate, since DOJ is due in a few days to file a brief in Gill v. OPM, the lawsuit by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. This is a challenge to DOMA Section 3, dealing with federal discrimination, and legal experts consider it stronger than the broader Smelt case. We will know by the administration’s brief in Gill whether it has learned any lessons.
"Obama’s leadership is needed, but he is not a magician and he needs our help. Hurling not just criticism but cries of betrayal after 150 days in office is foolish."

Reality-based activism requires a recognition that political friendships are never perfect, and we do not get everything we want at once. We must continue to press on multiple fronts, neither leaving the lobbying to a few people in Washington nor placing all of our hopes in litigation — especially considering the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court. The tide of history is with us, but we must be part of it, not wait for it to wash over us.

In my experience, politicians are more receptive when you give them credit, however small, in addition to criticism. As Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart noted, we cannot afford to be blinded by rage. To the question, "What has Obama done for me lately?" the answer is: in addition to the Presidential Memorandum, Obama last week called on Congress to repeal DOMA; endorsed the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act; and ordered the U.S. Census Bureau to release data on same-sex married couples in the 2010 census.

I'll second that one. Michelangelo Signorile interviewed Rep. Barney Frank about his introduction of the trans inclusive ENDA, plus Frank's reaction to the infamous DOMA brief. I thought Barney Frank's points made a lot of sense.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh What a Circus

The comments are especially amusing.

Americans United Requests that Feds Pull MN Teen Challenge Grants

Read all about it at Daily Kos and Minnesota Independent. Americans United's letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder, asked that several teen challenge earmarks, including the Minnesota Teen Challenge earmark, be terminated.

When I talked with Mayor RT Rybak about Minnesota Teen Challenge at the DFL City Convention earlier this spring, the normally loquatious Mayor was unwilling to give a video interview on the matter.

Colbert Report on Stonewalling

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Stonewalling
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

The Mark Sanford Song: Don't Cry for Me Right Wing Media

Watch Mark Sanford outside the Casa Rosada:

Here's another - the press conference mixed with Don't Cry for Me Argentina:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009