How will Doma fare in front of the US supreme court? | Scott Lemieux | guardian.co.uk

On 31 May, a three-judge panel of the first circuit court of appeals held a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma) unconstitutional. It is nearly certain, however, that the case will be headed to the supreme court, and because the decision was stayed pending appeal, it will not even apply in the New England states covered by the first circuit.

So, the key question is: what will the supreme court will do when it hears the case?

The first circuit opinion, written by widely respected Republican appointee Michael Boudin, had a decidedly conservative cast that makes surviving a supreme court appeal more likely. We can assess the potential votes in descending order of certainty.

The Democratic appointees

Every member of the court’s relatively liberal wing – represented by the Clinton appointees Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the Obama appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – is virtually certain to support the first circuit opinion ruling Doma unconstitutional. Breyer and Ginsburg have voted to accept gay and lesbian rights claims during the much less favorable political circumstances that led to Doma’s passage; they will not waver.

Sotomayor and Kagan do not have a track record on gay and lesbian rights per se, but as the Obama administration‘s refusal to defend the act’s constitutionality indicates, there is a near-consensus among mainstream liberals that Doma does not pass constitutional muster. The litigants challenging Doma start with four votes in the bank, and will need only one of the court’s five Republican nominees to prevail.

The Republican no-hopers

These votes are exceedingly unlikely, however, to come from Justices Antonin Scalia or Samuel Alito. While Scalia is not a completely reliable vote for Republican interests, his attitude towards gay and lesbian rights can be seen in his dissents, liberally salted with rightwing antigay buzzwords, in Romer v Evans and Lawrence v Texas. He can safely be written off by opponents of Doma’s constitutionality. Justice Alito has yet to vote in a major gay and lesbian rights case but is the court’s most consistent Republican party-liner, and is similarly unlikely to surprise.

via How will Doma fare in front of the US supreme court? | Scott Lemieux | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

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Gay Days 2012: Orlando’s visitors bureau making more of an effort to reach gay travelers – Orlando Sentinel

Tens of thousands of visitors are in Central Florida this week for one of the biggest annual events on the gay community’s nationwide travel calendar, yetOrlando’s primary visitors bureau had little to do with their presence here.

After years of ignoring gay and lesbian travelers, however, Visit Orlando is starting to make more of an effort — some say an overdue effort — to promote the nation’s leading leisure-travel destination to this niche market.

For the first time in its history, the publicly subsidized convention-and-visitors bureau has a page on its website targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visitors. It is working with a gay-oriented marketing agency to attract more German tourists, and it recently spent $3,500 on a national print advertisement aimed at the LGBT market, in cooperation with other tourism-promotion groups.

“We have continued to grow our presence in that market,” said Danielle Courtenay, Visit Orlando’s chief marketing officer. “It is certainly a market out there that Orlando can continue to benefit from.”

Still, Visit Orlando doesn’t do nearly as much as many other destinations do to woo LGBT travelers, known for their above-average disposable income and propensity for travel.

via Gay Days 2012: Orlando’s visitors bureau making more of an effort to reach gay travelers – Orlando Sentinel.

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Key West Pride showcases ‘One Human Family’ – KeysNet.com

Key West Pride, a five-day festival with films, late-night dance parties, a community-wide parade and street fair opens Wednesday, June 6.Erin Davies, the subject of a documentary “Fagbug: The Movie,” will be the kickoff speaker at the Pride luncheon, noon, June 6 at the Marriott Beachside.Co-sponsored by the Key West High School Gay Straight Alliance, Davies will also be the grand marshal for this year’s Key West Pride Parade, Sunday, June 10.

Tickets to the luncheon are available at www.kwbgonline.org.Actor, comic and film star Leslie Jordan will headline two performances June 8-9 at the Waterfront Playhouse.Jordon, perhaps best known for his comic turns on “Sordid Lives” and his appearances on the television series “Will and Grace,” is also a playwright and author (“My Trip Down the Pink Carpet”).”If Leslie Jordan didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him,” wrote Variety’s reviewer, who described the acting veteran as “this irrepressible, garrulous Chattanooga pixie who got through a Southern Baptist childhood and stirrings of Gay Lib and lived triumphantly to tell the tale.”Jordan explores the question “Do gay men become their mothers?” through comic yet poignant recollections. Tickets for his one-man show, “Fruit Fly,” cost $45. For more information, visit: www.wate

via Key West Pride showcases ‘One Human Family’ – KeysNet.com.

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‘Gay Days’ expected to boost Orlando economy | www.wftv.com

ORLANDO, Fla. —

Officials say Orlando is expected to see a boost in the local economy as more tourists and tourist dollars flow in as the annual ‘Gay Days’ event reaches its peak.

The organizers of Gay Days say the six-day event should bring millions of dollars to the local economy.

“We’ve been eating and going out every night,” one visitor told WFTV. “There was a big party at Typhoon Lagoon last night and we all dropped a couple hundred bucks.”

The streets of Disney were packed with tourists celebrating the annual event that started 21 years ago and has continued to grow since. Officials expect 160,000 people to be in town for the event this weekend.

Disney does not officially sanction the event, but participants praised the theme park for being so accommodating.

“I think it’s a great thing for everyone to be able to come out and get together every year, in a place that accepts everyone no matter what they are,” visitor Justin King said.

The president of Gay Days says the event could bring as much as $600,000,000 to the local economy, but some tourism officials believe that number is a bit high.

Gay Days began in 1991 and while the event has faced criticism from some conservative groups, it has reportedly grown every year

via ‘Gay Days’ expected to boost Orlando economy | www.wftv.com.

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Some courts are ruling ‘gay’ is not slanderous – US News and World Report

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — One by one, courts around the country are deciding it’s no longer slander to falsely call someone gay — a measure of how attitudes are changing in the era of same-sex marriage and gays in uniform.

While “gay” is still widely wielded as an insult, some judges have concluded that it is not damaging to anyone’s reputation, just as calling a white man black is no longer grounds for legal action as it was a generation ago. The latest ruling came from a midlevel New York state appeals court Thursday and was hailed by gay-rights activists as a small but meaningful victory.

via Some courts are ruling ‘gay’ is not slanderous – US News and World Report.

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Pride Mormon Style | Backstory Blog | Human Rights Campaign

Pride season is underway and HRC is hitting festivals and parades all across the country. This weekend I’ve been having a great time meeting people at Gay Days in Orlando. We’ve had conversations with hundreds of proud LGBT people from Florida and across the country, and even from other parts of the world. But perhaps even more interesting, is what just happened in Salt Lake City.

Dustin Lance Black was the Grand Marshal of the Utah Pride Parade, which ended moments ago. But the big news is Black invited members of the LDS Church to join him in the parade and they showed up. Over 300 members of the LDS Church – Mormons – marched, showing their commitment to equality and to their LGBT brothers and sisters. And they marched despite the outdated views of Church hierarchy.

We know the LDS Church isn’t quite with us on matters of equality, but Church members are. They support fairness and equality in growing numbers. HRC and our partners at Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center have worked to change hearts and minds, and it’s working.

As we celebrate LGBT Pride this month we’ll have a great time. But it’s important to remember what it is we’re celebrating. Three hundred Mormons marching for equality in Utah is cause for pride, and celebration.

Pride Mormon Style | Backstory Blog | Human Rights Campaign.

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Federal courts evolve on same-sex marriage – The Washington Post

LIKE PRESIDENT OBAMA, federal courts have been evolving on same-sex marriage.

In 1972, the Supreme Court summarily dismissed a challenge to a Minnesota law defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman, rejecting the notion that the Constitution’s equal protection clause guaranteed the right of same-sex couples to marry. Citing that standing precedent, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit found that it could not proclaim such a right in 2012. Instead, the court issued Thursday a more limited but nevertheless important ruling in the long fight for same-sex marriage equality.

The Boston court overturned the most noxious part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, regardless of whether gay marriage is allowed in their home states. The ruling redresses the grievous injustice of prohibiting benefits to the 100,000 same-sex couples now legally married. What’s more, it gives voters in Maryland more confidence that, should they approve of gay marriage in November, federal courts will guarantee same-sex couples’ access to everything from the ability to file taxes jointly to Social Security survivor benefits.

In writing for the court, Judge Michael Boudin said that Congress did not have sufficient ration­ale for DOMA. The act faces a slightly higher bar for constitutionality than other laws since it targets a minority group and puts pressure on states in a policy area typically reserved for them. Against that standard, the justifications for DOMA fail. Denying marriage benefits to gay men and lesbians does nothing to encourage or defend traditional, heterosexual marriage, for example. And it does nothing to promote child-rearing in “stable” heterosexual households, since gay men can still adopt in most states and lesbians can still bear children.

via Federal courts evolve on same-sex marriage – The Washington Post.

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