News Roundup: The Day After
Marriage equality news has been fast and furious since President Obama's Wednesday afternoon sit-down with ABC News over his completed evolution on the issue. Here’s a quick roundup of what’s happening in the wake of the announcement:
—On Thursday the president is scheduled to attend a record-breaking fund-raiser in Los Angeles at the Studio City home of George Clooney (the event is expected to bring in $15 million for the campaign). Any presidential visit to L.A. invariably turns into a traffic nightmare, but it looks like Westside progressives may be willing to give Obama some slack this time around, as the usual griping has been conspicuously absent.
—White House talking points on the president’s stance were leaked yesterday afternoon and fall generally in line with his response to ABC’s Robin Roberts. “It’s no secret the President has gone through some soul-searching on this issue. He’s talked to his wife about it, like so many couples do,” one of the talking points reads. “He’s heard from folks — gay friends in long-term, loving relationships; brave young servicemen and women he got to know through the fight to end Don’t, Ask Don’t Tell; staff members; folks who sent compelling letters about their lives. It’s no doubt they’ve shaped his view on this issue.”
—Obama says of Biden's Sunday surprise on NBC's Meet the Press, where he said he's "absolutely comfortable" with gay marriage: "He probably got out a little bit over his skis, but out of generosity of spirit." Also, the president says that the announcement was most likely to be made pre-Democratic National Convention in September: "I had already made a decision that we were going to probably take this position before the election, before the convention."
—The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney writes of the president, “The very riskiness of what Mr. Obama did — some commentators were invoking Lyndon B. Johnson’s embrace of civil rights in 1964, with all the attendant political perils — made it hard to understate the historic significance of what took place at the White House on Wednesday.”
—The Department of Justice is declining to defend the latest lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act — this one filed by a group of binational gay couples who are denied equal immigration sponsorship rights. DOJ’s decline-to-defend stance is consistent with other DOMA lawsuits currently pending in the federal courts, including one filed last fall by gay service members and their spouses. Also not surprising, the House Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group is expected to intervene in the case. “While BLAG’s intervention is not unexpected, it is unfortunate. Real families, like those in our lawsuit, are hurt in very real ways by DOMA,” Immigration Equality executive director Rachel Tiven said Wednesday. "The government should support Americans and their families instead of spending millions of dollars to intrude upon their lives.”
—While news of Amendment One’s passage in North Carolina dominated Tuesday night’s political news cycle, Colorado had also suffered a stinging equality loss when GOP state House leadership blocked a civil unions bill from debate — this despite support for the legislation from some key Republicans. The AP reports that Gov. John Hickenlooper is sending lawmakers back to work in a special session Thursday to get a vote on the bill. “Gay rights advocates say the proposal has enough support to become law but was blocked by last-minute stall tactics from GOP House leaders,” AP reports. “Republicans disagree, saying the bill came up too late in the session for proper consideration.”
—Politico takes a look at the president’s announcement and how it may affect key swing states, many that have stepped backward on marriage equality via ballot measures in recent years (or days). The political junkie website also takes a look at the White House's choice of Robin Roberts to make news on marriage.
—On Wednesday night, the House of Representatives approved a much-derided amendment to an approprations bill that would bar the Justice Department from using funds to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act. Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi said of the amendment, introduced by freshman Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, "On an historic day and in the dark of night, House Republicans have voted to tie the hands of the Obama administration with respect to their efforts to end discrimination against America's families." Ian Thompson, senior legislative assistant at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the amendment "is a solution in search of a problem. While there are multiple legal challenges to DOMA working their way through the federal courts, it is still binding. This amendment serves absolutely no purpose other than to score political points at the expense of gay and lesbian couples.”