WASHINGTON - ALL EYES ARE ON MARYLAND THIS WEEK: "The signs are very good in Maryland. And while it's important to remember the vote is close, we may very soon have our sixth state where all Americans are allowed the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Maryland can provide important momentum for New York, which may be next, before the summer, if Gov. Cuomo gets his way. And Rhode Island is possible this year too," said Equality Matters President Richard Socarides.
NEW POLLING RELEASED TODAY: Via Equality Maryland: “Support for civil marriage is growing. In fact, the polling firm Grove Insight found that after discussing the love and commitment that gay and lesbian couples share, support for marriage grew to 53%! &h ellip; These results follow on a January Washington Post survey which reported that 51% of Maryland voters support marriage equality.”
HOW THIS IMPACTS THE WHITE HOUSE: "President Obama has a big strategy decision to make on how to defend against the latest Defense of Marriage Act challenges. His next big legal brief is due in less than three weeks. No sign on how his marriage evolution is progressing. But I think we may very well see a big shift in Justice Department strategy," said Socarides.
MARYLAND GOP L AUNCHED ATTACKS OVER THE WEEKEND: The Washington Post’s John Wagner: “The Maryland Republican Party has stepped up its lobbying efforts on the biggest social issue of the legislative session - same-sex marriage - as the Senate prepares to begin debate next week. In an "action alert" emailed Saturday to party members, state GOP Chairman Alex X. Mooney lists the names and numbers of nine senators he suggests are key to whether Maryland legalizes marriages between gay couples.
WHY MARRIAGE MATTERS CAMPAIGN: Watch Maryland couples discuss love and commitment: http://bit.ly/gO4Trj
WHERE THE VOTE STANDS: A tally reveals that marriage equality proponents have the 24 votes necessary to approve the bill, according to reports.
RECAP WHERE FULL MARRIAGE RIGHTS EXIST: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, as well as in the District of Columbia. In California, supporters are mounting a challenge in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage there after it had been legal for 18 months. New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed outside the state.
HAWAII CLOSE ON CIVIL UNIONS: The Hawaii Senate voted 18-5 last Wednesday to approve a measure that would legalize civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. The measure now awaits Governor Neil Abercrombie's signature, after which Hawaii will become the seventh state to provide civil unions to same-sex couples.
STATE BY STATE WE EKLY REPORT: A new resource by Equality Matters
HEADS UP: This Friday, Feb. 25, the Dept. of Justice is scheduled to file the government’s opening brief and excerpts in the case Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, which challenges “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In January the clerk granted additional time for the government to prepare. More: http://bit.ly/hemTIN
“DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” REPEAL TIMELINE RUNNING LONGER: Certification may not happen until August/September based on timeline outlined by military – this could mean repeal not final until October/November.
TIMELINE BY BRANCH:
--THE ARMY: Via AP: “The largest of the service branches, the Army plans to finish training the active duty force of 565,000 by mid-July and the 567,000 members of the Guard and Reserve by mid-August, officials said.”
THE MARINES: Via The Marine Corps Times: “Bottom line: Marines of all ranks in every location, even those in war zones, will be trained by May 1.”
--THE NAVY: AP cont.: “Navy has begun the instruction of its training teams and hopes to complete training the whole force by the end of June.”
--THE AIR FORCE: AP Cont.: “The Air Force said it began training its experts such as chaplains and lawyers this week.”
“DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” REMAINS THE LAW:
--Even though President Obama signed the repeal bill, the discriminatory law will remain in place until a written certification is sent to the congressional Armed Services Committees, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:
--(A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.
--(B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).
--(C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.
MORE U.S. COMPANIES COVERING TRANSGENDER SURGERY:
--Via AP’s Lisa Leff: “With little fanfare, more and more large corporations, including Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup and Walt Disney, have expanded their insurance coverage to meet the needs of transgender workers. The trend follows a concerted push by transgender rights advocates to get employers and insurers to see sex reassignment the way the American Medical Association does — as a medically indicated rather than an optional procedure.
--Among the corporations providing transgender-inclusive health benefits are some leading Wall Street and Main Street brands. American Express, Kraft Foods, AT&T, Yahoo!, Eastman Kodak, Sears, Morgan Stanley, Price Waterhouse, General Motors and State Farm are among 85 large businesses and law firms that cover the cost of at least one surgery, according to a 2010 survey by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s l argest gay rights group.
SAVAGE NATION ON LADY GAGA’S BORN THIS WAY: Michael Savage: "Strippers, Transvestite Punks, Post-op Transvestite Women" In Gaga's Born This Way, And "You Wonder Why America Is Dying"
FROM THE EQUALITY MATTERS BLOG:
--Protests, Student Boycotts Continue To Grow Over Chick-fil-A Scandal: “It appears that backlash over a Pennsylvania Chick-fil-A's sponsoring of a traditional marriage event run by one of Pennsylvania's leading anti-gay organizations won't be dying down anytime soon. Outrage over Chick-fil-A's sponsorship - as well as its history of anti-gay behavior -- has swelled to national levels.”
--NOM Touts Anti-Equality Activist For Maryland Poll: “The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) released a new poll purporting to show that a majority of Maryland voters "believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman." The poll's veracity however, is undermined by the fact that it was conducted by a Mormon Republican pollster with a history of anti-equality advocacy.”
--Al Cardenas Suggests GOProud Will Not Be Invited To CPAC 2012: “Newly elected American Conservative Union (ACU) Chairman Al Cardenas was on C-Span's American Journal discussing his vision for the future of the ACU and their annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).”