Denver Senator Pat Steadman’s re-introduced same-sex civil unions bill is being heard this afternoon in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Although the bill will be passed easily by the committee’s Democratic majority, the hearing will be the staging ground for this year’s arguments for and against it, drawing the attention of political analysts, members of the public and lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature looking to gauge the direction and intensity of political winds in an especially charged election year.
In the wake of the Washington State Legislature’s vote in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to overturn California’s Prop 8, which rescinded marriage rights for same-sex couples,
representatives of the National Organization for Marriage were put on the defensive in a number of media appearances.
A major theme at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., was that the Republican Party should once and for all erase the line between social and fiscal issues and further the argument that conservative social policies benefit the economy.
This past weekend approximately 3,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists descended upon Baltimore, Md., for a national advocacy conference, while a few miles away the Republican branch of Congress — which consistently resists pro-LGBT policies – gathered for a retreat.
Despite an absent House (Democrats were also at a retreat in Cambridge, Md.), about 300 of those LGBT activists occupied the Capitol last Thursday for the first federal lobby day associated with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s 24th annual Creating Change conference. The Senate was still in session.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, lent his likeness to a new video series launched by the Human Rights Campaign called “Americans for Marriage Equality.” Franken is the first member of Congress to appear in a video for the campaign, which supports equal rights for same-sex couples, even as legislators in his home state have put a constitutional measure banning marriage equality on the 2012 ballot. The video was released late last week.
Should religious organizations that receive public subsidies and take special tax breaks be allowed to discriminate against couples of the same gender? Yes, declare 39 religious leaders in an open letter (PDF) to “all Americans” released last week.
The Human Rights Campaign’s watchdog project NOM Exposed, which tracks the spending and lobbying activities of the National Organization for Marriage, recently revised its strategy. According to a leader on the project, HRC believes NOM’s focus in 2012 will be centered on the national stage to ensure that same-sex marriage remains a primary issue in the presidential race; thus NOM Exposed will be closely following NOM’s federal election activities.
“There ought not be open dissension on this issue,” is the message the Catholic hierarchy is telling priests in Minnesota — “this issue” being same-sex marriage.
Though it was presidential candidate Mitt Romney who hardened his stance opposing same-sex marriage during Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, it was his strongest rival, Newt Gingrich, who demonstrated his commitment to excluding same-sex couples from marriage by signing the National Organization for Marriage‘s “Marriage Pledge” hours before the debate.