Supreme Court rules gay couples nationwide have a right to marry – By Robert Barnes June 26 at 2:59 PM

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at Jun 26, 2015 1.20

The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.

The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.

[Live updates: Reaction outside the court, analysis and more]

“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. He was joined in the ruling by the court’s liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

All four of the court’s most conservative members — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — dissented and each wrote a separate opinion, saying the court had usurped a power that belongs to the people.

Reading a dissent from the bench for the first time in his tenure, Roberts said, “Just who do we think we are? I have no choice but to dissent.”

In his opinion, Roberts wrote: “Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening.”

[It’s the first time Roberts has had such a bold statement from the bench]

Scalia called the decision a “threat to American democracy,” saying it was “constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine.”

In a statement in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama hailed the decision: “This ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are truly treated as equal, we are more free.”

Obama said change on social issues can seem slow sometimes, but “sometimes there are days like this when that slow and steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt. This morning the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law. . . . Today we can say in no uncertain terms that we have made our union a little more perfect.”

[Read the full court opinion Read Roberts’s dissent]

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Bill Clinton fires up gay-rights group’s gala – By KATIE GLUECK | 10/25/14 9:53 PM EDT

Former President Bill Clinton is pictured. | AP Photo

‘Campaigns, the best of them, fire idealism and spark intensity,’ Clinton says. | AP Photo


Former President Bill Clinton on Saturday offered emotionally charged encouragement to a gala gathering of a prominent gay rights group while noting his wife Hillary Clinton’s support for gay rights when she served as secretary of State.

The fired-up crowd attending the Human Rights Campaign’s national dinner at Washington D.C.’s cavernous convention center was particularly enthusiastic whenever he mentioned Hillary Clinton, a likely 2016 Democratic candidate. The former president noted her support for gay rights during her time at State, when she said that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

“I love the HRC. The initials are great,” Clinton said as the crowd embraced the dual reference to the rights organization and his wife’s middle name, Rodham. Early on, the former president also mentioned Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who is thought to be a candidate to run Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential campaign.

(PHOTOS: Where same-sex couples can wed)

While Hillary Clinton had a testy exchange with a National Public Radio host earlier this year over when she came to publicly back gay marriage — something she did not support in her 2008 presidential bid (nor did then-candidate Barack Obama) — her name received a warm welcome at the event, where the theme of the night was “evolve.”

Bill Clinton noted several times how much has changed on the gay rights front — including court-sanctioned gay marriage in many places — since he addressed the organization in 1997.

“One thing we have learned is no human heart is immune to an honest outreach,” he said. “No one can forever ignore their personal experience. If you ask somebody who the most conservative member of the Bush administration was, most people say Dick Cheney. But Dick Cheney was for gay marriage [and] gay rights because of his daughter [one of whom is gay], because of his personal human experience.”

The mood at the gala dinner was celebratory. Couples who had gotten married in the last year were asked to stand up, and a sizable number of people in the room rose. But Clinton told the audience to stay focused on notching more wins through concerted campaigns, both legally and in the court of public opinion. He quoted former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who said one should campaign in poetry and govern in prose, and Clinton said the organization needs to do both at the same time.

(PHOTOS: Who’s endorsing Hillary Clinton for 2016?)

“Campaigns, the best of them, fire idealism and spark intensity,” he said.”They exhaust and exhilarate in equal measure, and they count on the fire of inspired determination to keep them going.”

Clinton has been a highly visible presence on the 2014 campaign trail, and lamented the focus of many midterms races.

“Our political season is a wash and a blizzard of ads that don’t have a thing to do with the way people will live beginning the day after the election,” he said.”We’ve got a lot of things we could be complaining about. We should be troubled about all these problems. But they all are manageable. There is no place better suited than we are here for the opportunities of the 21st century.”

He went on to detail the path forward in language many Democrats see as elements of his own legacy — broad-based prosperity; equal opportunities for children; and tolerance.

(On POLITICO Magazine: The Democrats’ royal families)

Clinton, whose daughter Chelsea Clinton just had her first child, said that “sometimes the biggest threat to the future of our children and grandchildren is the poison of identity politics that preaches that our differences are far more important than our common humanity.”

He urged attendees to remember that shared “humanity” as the HRC takes its campaign to the heart of America’s deep south —and to keep it in mind, “when you go to Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and the first person cusses you out.”

“Do we need national security? Absolutely,” he said. “Do we need border protection? Of course. Do we have to take prudent steps against terrorists? Yes. But we will prevail in a dangerous world if we have the best model of freedom and justice, equality and opportunity, the kind of things people want to be a part of, where everybody can be who they are.”

Senate votes to ban discrimination against gay and transgender workers – By Ed O’Keefe, Published: November 7

Video: The Senate voted Thursday, 64-32, in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The Senate passed a historic piece of gay rights legislation Thursday that would ban workplace discrimination against gay and transgender employees, another milestone victory for a gay rights movement that has been gaining favor in the courts and electoral politics.

The 64 to 32 vote to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act marked the first time federal lawmakers had approved legislation to advance gay rights since repealing the military’s ban on gay men and lesbians in uniform in late 2010. Approval of the measure came two days after Illinois became the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage and four months after the U.S. Supreme Court sanctioned federal recognition of legally married gay couples.


The Senate this week will debate the first major gay rights legislation since Congress voted to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” in late 2010. Congressional reporter Ed O'Keefe tells us what to watch for in the discussion surrounding the Employee Non-Discrimination Act.

The Senate this week will debate the first major gay rights legislation since Congress voted to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” in late 2010. Congressional reporter Ed O’Keefe tells us what to watch for in the discussion surrounding the Employee Non-Discrimination Act.

“This is a really tremendous milestone, a day I will never forget,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly lesbian senator.

President Obama praised supportive senators and called on House Republicans to quickly permit a vote.

“One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do,” Obama said in a statement. “Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it.”

But ENDA faces a steep uphill climb in a GOP-controlled House still dominated by social conservatives. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and his lieutenants think the measure is too broad and is unnecessary; they think that the people ENDA is intended to protect are already covered under existing federal, state and private workplace protection laws.

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Native American tribes challenge Oklahoma gay marriage ban by Lisa De Bode – October 22, 2013 8:41PM ET

The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes marry two men within Native American tradition of respect for LGBT-individuals

Jason Pickel (L) and Darran Black Bear (R) hug each other, next to a picture of their wedding license.

Jason Pickel, left, and Darran Black Bear, right, hug each other. At right is a picture of their wedding license.

Two gay men are getting married under Native American tribal law in Oklahoma, apparently circumventing a state law that does not allow same-sex unions.

Activists said the marriage advances the cause of gay rights in a state that has blocked federal benefits for same-sex military couples in the past.

Jason Pickel, 36, and Darren Black Bear, 45, who have been together for more than eight years, were planning a trip to Iowa to get married. But they changed their minds when the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes allowed them to pick up a marriage license on Friday in the tribes’ courthouse after the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down, Pickel told Al Jazeera.

“I proposed to Darren several years ago, and we were planning an elaborate wedding,” he said. “Now,” he added, “we decided the time was right. I’m so happy; it’s just amazing.”

Lisa Liebl, the tribes’ public relations officer, told Al Jazeera in an email, “This is the 3rd same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.”

Gay rights supporters wage a quiet campaign to push Republicans to the middle. – By Peter Wallsten, Published: October 20

Julio Cortez/AP – Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality, spoke at a Sept. 27 news conference in Montclair, N.J., after a state judge made same-sex marriages legal. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is appealing the decision.

By , Published: October 20 

Few elected Republicans support giving gays the right to marry. The party’s influential social-conservative wing sees “traditional marriage” as a defining issue. And while most major Democrats are rushing to embrace same-sex marriage, none of the most prominent potential Republican presidential candidates have taken that step.

But a powerful group of Republican donors, who see the GOP’s staunch opposition to gay rights as a major problem, is trying to push the party toward a more welcoming middle ground — where candidates who oppose marriage rights can do so without seeming hateful.