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Obama & DOMA, Hawaii & Civil Unions, Maryland & Same-sex Marriage

Govt. Will Stop Defending DOMA

By Andrew Harmon and Michelle Garcia

In a significant victory for marriage equality in the United States, the Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will not defend the constitutionality of a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court.

Section 3 of DOMA defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman for federal purposes and has been a roadblock to equality in federal benefits for gay and lesbian couples since Congress passed DOMA in 1996.

“The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard [of stricter judicial review] and is therefore unconstitutional,” Holder said. “Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases.”

Conservative Praises Obama on DOMA

By Advocate.com Editors

AndrewNapolitanox180 (Andrew Napolitano) | Advocate.com

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Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said President Barack Obama did American citizens a “favor” by deciding to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which was likely to lose in court.

The former New Jersey superior court judge turned commentator said, “The government is actually doing the taxpayers a favor and doing the courts a favor and doing the voters a favor by saying, ‘We can’t defend it any longer.’”

Napolitano said that with DOMA already declared unconstitutional by at least one federal judge, the decision by the president not to defend it effectively renders the law nonexistent during the Obama presidency, unless an angry Congress proposes an alternative.

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Posted on Advocate.com February 25, 2011

Democratic Lawmakers Push DOMA Repeal

By Advocate.com Editors

JERROLD NADLER X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM
Jerrold Nadler
Democrats in Congress have renewed their efforts for legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act following the decision by President Barack Obama to stop defending the discriminatory law.

The Huffington Post reports on the plan from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA “very soon,” according to the congressman from New York, and with “quite a few cosponsors.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California plans to offer similar legislation in the senate judiciary committee.

“The idea is to take advantage of the headwind created by the Department of Justice’s Wednesday announcement and push for a permanent solution over the legality of laws that prohibit gay marriage,” reports HuffPo. “Until Congress acts, or the Supreme Court issues a ruling, DOMA — which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in states — continues to be enforced.”

THEN THERE’S THIS……….

Hawaii Gov. Signs Civil Unions Bill

By Advocate.com Editors

NEIL ABERCROMBIE X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COM

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May be a screen capture JPG that links to the video player, or an embedded video from an external source like YouTube.com
May be a screen capture JPG that links to the video player, or an embedded video from an external source like YouTube.com

–>Hawaii governor Neil Abercrombie signed legislation Wednesday afternoon legalizing civil unions in the Aloha state.

The state senate passed the bill last week by an 18-5 vote. A similar bill was approved by the legislature in 2010 but vetoed by then-Gov. Linda Lingle after a long waiting period.

“This signing today of this measure says to all in the world that all are welcome – that everyone is a brother and a sister in paradise,” Abercrombie said at the bill’s signing.

“For me, this bill represents equal rights for everyone in Hawaii and everyone who comes here. This is for me the essence of the aloha spirit.”

The governor spent about 10 minutes speaking before signing the bill, joking around with people in the audience and making clear this is an important bill for him.

“With its signing, I wanted to say, ‘Welcome to the world. Welcome to paradise.'”

Civil unions aren’t expected to go into effect until January 1, 2012.

Maryland Senate Says YES To Gay Marriage

maryland

In a 25-21 vote, the Maryland Senate has approved a same-sex marriage bill. The Civil Marriage Protection Act now heads to the House of Delegates. Last year when Attorney General Doug Gansler issued an opinion saying Maryland should recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, Gov. Martin O’Malley agreed, saying in a statement that “having reviewed the 45-page opinion, we will be guided by the Attorney General’s thorough analysis and legal advice on this matter. I am confident that the Attorney General and his office will provide all necessary advice to State agencies on how to comply with the law, and I expect all State agencies to work with the Attorney General’s office to ensure compliance with the law.” O’Malley has said that if a bill reaches his desk, he’ll sign it.

Here are the stats…………..

Same-Sex Marriages

Six states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, although new gay marriages in California have been halted pending the outcome of an ongoing court battle. On Thursday, Maryland appeared poised to become the seventh, after the Senate approved a gay-marriage bill.

With DOMA still a national law, marriages in those jurisdictions are not recognized by the federal government.

Three states have passed same-sex civil union laws, which provide state-level spousal rights to gay couples, according to Marriage Equality USA. A half-dozen states have domestic-partnership provisions. Thirty states have passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

We’ll see what happens….          

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