The Most Compelling LGBT People Of 2012

This year was full of historic moments for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. From huge political victories to the continuous onslaught of anti-LGBT rhetoric from pundits and lawmakers, there were plenty of stories that made headlines. But it was a number of prominent LGBT people themselves that captured our attention and, in many instances, our hearts.

As 2012 comes to a close, HuffPost Gay Voices is highlighting some of the incredible individuals and their actions that helped to make our community stronger and more vibrant this year. Because we always value your input, we also asked our readers to share their picks for LGBT people of the year. Take a look at our slideshow of the most compelling LGBT people of 2012 — a mix of our picks and your nominations.

via The Most Compelling LGBT People Of 2012.

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Supreme Court sets briefing schedule for DOMA lawsuit | Gay News | Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced the schedule for submitting legal briefs in pending DOMA litigation, making the deadline for the first round of such documents Jan. 22.

Here’s when each brief should be filed in case of Windsor v. United States, the lawsuit against DOMA the Supreme Court agreed to hear last week. The briefing schedule was announced in an orders list on Friday.

No announcement was made on the briefing schedule for Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case challenging California’s Proposition 8 the Supreme Court has also agreed to take up.

For the briefs on the merits of the lawsuit:

* the brief of the House Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, not to exceed 15,000 words, must be filed by Jan. 22;
* the brief of the U.S. solicitor general, not to exceed 15,000 words, must be filed by Feb. 22;
* the brief of lesbian plaintiff Edith Windsor, not to exceed 15,000 words, must be filed by Feb. 26;
* and the reply brief of BLAG, not to exceed 6,000 words, must then be filed within the court’s established rules.

On the jurisdictional question on whether the U.S. Justice Department and BLAG have standing to petition the court in the case:

* the brief of Court-appointed friend-of-the-court Harvard law professor Vicki Jackson, not to exceed 10,000 words, must be filed by Jan. 22;
* the briefs of the U.S. solicitor general, BLAG and Windsor, not to exceed 10,000 words each, must be filed by Feb. 20;
* and reply briefs of the litigants and Jackson, not to exceed 4,000 words, will then be filed within established rules of the court.

The orders lists says other friend-of-the-court briefs must be filed under established rules of the court, except for briefs supporting the positions of Windsor and the solicitor general, which must be filed seven days after the brief of the solicitor general on the merits has been submitted.

via Supreme Court sets briefing schedule for DOMA lawsuit | Gay News | Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source.

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House GOP Boosts Funds for DOMA Legal Defense : Roll Call Policy

House Republicans have quietly raised the value of a contract with a private law firm that is handling the chamber’s Supreme Court defense of a 1996 federal law that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren, R-Calif., signed off in September on a $500,000 increase in the maximum value of the contract with the firm, Washington-based Bancroft. Republicans have raised the cap of the contract twice: first on Sept. 29, 2011, from its original maximum of $500,000 to $1.5 million, and again on Sept. 28 to its new maximum of $2 million.

Although the latest lifting of the contract cap occurred almost three months ago, House Democrats — and the public — were in the dark about the move until this week. House Republicans did not share the revised contract with Democrats until Thursday, according to Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Hammill provided a copy of the contract modification to CQ Roll Call.

Indeed, Democrats were so out of the loop that Pelosi’s office released figures on Oct. 16 showing that the taxpayer expenses for the defense of the law nearly had hit their cap of $1.5 million. But that was almost three weeks after Lungren had raised the cap to $2 million.

Pelosi blasted House Republicans in a statement Thursday for “wasting taxpayer dollars to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act.”

“Hiding this contract from voters in the midst of an election season was a cynical move at best, and a betrayal of the public trust at worst,” she said. “Republicans should not be spending $2 million to defend discrimination in our country.”

Republicans have been forced to raise the contract’s maximum value as legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act have mounted in courts across the country. The GOP-led House is defending the measure because the Obama administration decided in February 2011 that it views the statute as unconstitutional and will no longer do so.

via House GOP Boosts Funds for DOMA Legal Defense : Roll Call Policy.

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Supreme Court showdown expected over DOMA and Prop. 8 decisions – latimes.com

WASHINGTON — For more than two decades, the defining battles within the Supreme Court over social and moral controversies have been fought between two devout Catholics appointed by President Reagan.

Justice Antonin Scalia believes the law can and should enforce moral standards, including criminal bans on abortion and on “homosexual conduct” that many “believe to be immoral and destructive.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is a libertarian conservative who believes the Constitution protects the freedom of individuals to “make personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing and education.”

FULL COVERAGE: The battle over gay marriage 

Now the ideological fight between the conservative giants is set for another round. The two 76-year-olds are to some extent likely to be on opposite sides when the court meets in the spring to decide whether the government can refuse marriage and federal benefits to gays and lesbians.

The two have much in common. Born in 1936, they graduated from high school in the early 1950s and excelled at Harvard Law School, where they were a year apart. They were Republicans who rose through the legal ranks. When appointed to the court, both bought homes in McLean, Va.

They agree on much. Both voted to strike down President Obama‘s healthcare law as an overreach by the government. Scalia joined Kennedy’s majority opinion in the Citizens United case that freed corporate and union spending on political ads.

But Kennedy, the libertarian, and Scalia, the social conservative, clash fiercely over the court’s role in deciding moral controversies.

The two split 20 years ago when the court’s conservative bloc was poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion. Though personally opposed to abortion, Kennedy switched sides in spring 1992 and cast a crucial vote to uphold a woman’s right to choose. “Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code,” Kennedy wrote.

In the past, Scalia has accused Kennedy of having “signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.” Scalia is likely to have the votes of fellow conservatives Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and probably Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to uphold state and federal laws that exclude gays from marriage.

But Kennedy has the much stronger hand. He ranks third in seniority after the chief justice and Scalia, and he has four liberal justices on his left. Because the senior member of the majority decides who writes the opinion, Kennedy could decide who writes the opinions if he votes with the liberals. And he could take the assignment for himself..”

FULL COVERAGE: The battle over gay marriage

Now the ideological fight between the conservative giants is set for another round. The two 76-year-olds are to some extent likely to be on opposite sides when the court meets in the spring to decide whether the government can refuse marriage and federal benefits to gays and lesbians.

The two have%2

via Supreme Court showdown expected over DOMA and Prop. 8 decisions – latimes.com.

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Scalia defends opposition to gay rights in response to question at Princeton – The Daily Princetonian

 

On the heels of the announcement that the Supreme Court will hear two cases regarding gay marriage, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia defended some of his more controversial decisions concerning gay rights in a lecture Monday afternoon.

Scalia came to campus to discuss his recent book and share his thoughts on interpreting the Constitution. Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the current Court, has been described as the intellectual anchor of the Court’s conservative wing.

When questioned by Duncan Hosie ’16, who identified as gay, on his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas — which struck down a Texas anti-sodomy law — Scalia stood behind his decision. Hosie questioned Scalia’s comparison between having a moral objection to sodomy and having a moral objection toward things like bestiality or murder. Scalia defended his comparison as a form of argument.

“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against these other things?” Scalia asked, explaining his dissent. “It’s a reduction to the absurd … I don’t think it’s necessary but I think it’s effective,” Scalia said, adding dryly, “I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded.”

Born in nearby Trenton, N.J., Scalia applied, but was not accepted, to Princeton. He instead attended Georgetown where he graduated summa cum laude as valedictorian in 1957. He later graduated from Harvard Law School.

Scalia was notably plain-spoken during both the lecture and the Q-and-A.

“For those of you who have been to some of our previous lectures, you’ll notice it was a little different this time,” said politics professor Robert George, the campus conservative leader who introduced Scalia and offered closing remarks.

Scalia declined to discuss issues related to active cases or potential future cases during the Q-and-A, instead directing the conversation back to the general arguments he made during the lecture.

During his lecture, he defended his view that focusing on the text and the original meaning of the Constitution are the best interpretive measures to protect the Constitution and democratic ideals.

“The text is what governs,” said Scalia, explaining that it would be wrong to bring in the historical circumstances at the time of the Constitution’s signing or to attempt to interpret the intent of those who wrote the document.

“I don’t care what their intent was. We are a government of laws, not of men,” he explained.

Scalia defends opposition to gay rights in response to question at Princeton – The Daily Princetonian.

DOMA repeal enjoys record support at end of 112th Congress | Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source

Legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act is enjoying record support as the year comes to a close — and an LGBT group backing the bill is optimistic that strength will grow further as additional lawmakers who support marriage equality take their seats at the start of the next Congress.

Upon introduction in the U.S. House early last year, the bill — known as the Respect for Marriage Act — had 109 sponsors, but the total number of has now grown to 159. That’s short of the 218 needed for a majority vote needed for passage, but still a record number.

Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, said that number of sponsors was achieved after setting a goal upon the bill’s introduction of finding 50 more sponsors and undertaking a coordinated effort with additional groups to win more support.

“Freedom to Marry set out a goal of adding 50 more sponsors this Congress, and have had dozens and dozens of lobby visits with members and their staff,” Solomon said. “For lobbying members of the Congressional Black Caucus, we partnered up with the National Black Justice Coalition and the ACLU, and for GOP members, we worked with Log Cabin and our GOP lobbyist, Kathryn Lehman.”

The most recent addition to the list of co-sponsors is Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who signed as a co-sponsor to the bill on Nov. 16 after Election Day. In a statement to the Washington Blade, Waters said she decided to co-sponsor the bill to provide benefits to married same-sex couples that currently aren’t afforded to them because of DOMA.

“I was very pleased to support the Respect for Marriage Act, critical legislation that would ensure same-sex couples are afforded the same federal benefits as other married couples within states that recognize their unions,” Waters said. “Under current law, same-sex married couples are denied important protections such as Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights, and family and medical leave.”

Waters’ support also builds on the number of co-sponsors to the bill who are also members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Her support means nine additional caucus members have signed on this year alone, and 34 out of 42 total caucus members are sponsors of the bill.

via DOMA repeal enjoys record support at end of 112th Congress | Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source.

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Three Paths for the Supreme Court in Gay Marriage Cases – Law Blog – WSJ

It’s been a year full of news on gay marriage, including President Barack Obama’s statement that he personally favors allowing it and several state votes in November supporting it.

Now one of the biggest developments may be imminent. Supreme Court justices are discussing gay-marriage cases at their conference today and may announce as soon as this afternoon whether they will hear the cases.

The first dispute involves the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages in states that have legalized the practice. Federal appeals courts in Massachusetts (May 2012) and New York (October 2012) struck down the federal law, saying it impermissibly discriminated against gays and lesbians.

Second, the Supreme Court has been asked to review California’s Proposition 8, passed by voters in 2008, which bars gay marriage in the state. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Proposition 8 in February, but on narrower grounds than gay-marriage proponents had hoped. The appeals court ruled 2-1 that California had improperly granted same-sex marriage rights and then taken them away.

What happens next? Here are three possible scenarios for the Supreme Court’s action Friday or Monday.

1)      The court declines to hear any of the gay-marriage cases. Perhaps the justices might feel that the issue is moving too quickly for them to weigh in now. Also there isn’t a split among appeals courts that needs to be resolved. If the justices go this route, the appellate court rulings favoring gay marriage would stand, but there would be no national precedent to guide other parts of the country.

2)      The court decides to hear a Defense of Marriage Act case but takes no action on Prop 8. The legal issues in the two disputes aren’t entirely the same. In particular, the DOMA issue has a states’ rights component: Those who want to strike down the federal law say Washington shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with a state’s decision to recognize a certain kind of marriage. Supporters of DOMA, which was passed by bipartisan majorities and signed by President Bill Clinton, say the federal government has a legitimate interest in upholding the traditional definition of marriage.

3)      The court takes up both DOMA and Prop 8. This would pave the way for a broader landmark ruling by June 2013 on gay marriage. Even in this scenario, though, the justices could avoid taking a stand on whether gays have a constitutional right to marry, perhaps by endorsing the Ninth Circuit’s more limited reasoning.

via Three Paths for the Supreme Court in Gay Marriage Cases – Law Blog – WSJ.

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Supreme Court to consider whether to review gay marriage cases

Nov 30 (Reuters) – The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are widely expected to decide in a private meeting on Friday to enter the legal fray raging over same-sex marriage.

An announcement to take a case could come as early as Friday afternoon or Monday morning.

Thirty-one of the 50 states have passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage while Washington, D.C., and nine other states have legalized it, three of them on Election Day, Nov. 6.

At issue is the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, passed by Congress, which only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman. Gay men and lesbians have specifically challenged a part of the law that prevents them from receiving federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

The high court is considering requests to review five cases that challenge the law as a violation of the equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

Most courts to address the issue, including federal appeals courts in Boston and New York, have found the law’s contested provision unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court is expected to take at least one of the challenges, as the court typically reviews lower-court decisions that invalidate a federal law.

Even in states where same-sex marriage is legal, the couples do not qualify for a host of federal benefits because of DOMA.

If the court accepts one of the cases, the oral arguments will likely take place in early 2013, with a ruling expected by the end of the court term in June.

If the court invalidates the law, states could still be free to legalize or deny same-sex marriages on their own terms.

Friday’s scheduled court conference is one of the Supreme Court’s regular weekly sessions at which it considers what new cases to add to the calendar.

The meetings, attended only by the justices, are held in a small conference room adjacent to the chambers of Chief Justice John Roberts.

The justices vote in order of seniority, and while it takes five of the nine for a majority decision in a dispute, it takes only four votes to add a case to the agenda and schedule oral arguments.

via Supreme Court to consider whether to review gay marriage cases.

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How to use iTunes 11’s new features (and bring back the old iTunes look) – GadgetBox on NBCNews.com

Apple released its newest version of iTunes, and it’s a complete overhaul to the entire program. As you’d expect, that means there are a few cool (somewhat) hidden features. Here are some we’ve found especially helpful.

 

With any new iteration of software you’re bound to have a bit of a learning curve as you get used to it. iTunes  11 is no different, and the first thing you’re greeted to when you launch it is a completely different main screen. The big news with iTunes 11 is the new interface, but hidden beneath that is some pretty cool functionality you might not notice at first glance.

Yes, you can get the old iTunes look back (sidebar and all)
Let’s start with what we’re guessing is most people’s main gripe: it looks different. It’s true, it does, and if you’re not a fan of browsing your music library with giant covers, and navigating drop-down menus, iTunes 11 is a bit annoying. The good news? You can get the old look back:

via How to use iTunes 11’s new features (and bring back the old iTunes look) – GadgetBox on NBCNews.com.

West Point chapel hosts first same-sex marriage – USA Today

6:51PM EST December 1. 2012 – The U.S. Military Academy’s Cadet Chapel at West Point hosted its first same-sex marriage Saturday.

Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate, exchanged vows in the regal church in a ceremony conducted by a senior Army chaplain.

The ceremony comes a little more than a year after President Obama ended the military policy banning openly gay people from serving.

The two have been together for 17 years. They had a civil commitment ceremony that didn’t carry any legal force in 1999 but had longed to formally tie the knot.

The couple live in New Jersey and would have preferred to have the wedding there, but the state doesn’t allow gay marriage.

“We just couldn’t wait any longer,” Fulton said.

Guests at the wedding posted photos on Twitter while it was under way and afterward. Fulton said the Cadet Chapel on the campus at West Point was a fitting venue.

“It has a tremendous history, and it is beautiful. That’s where I first heard and said the cadet prayer,” Fulton said.

Fulton said that when she requested the West Point chapel, she was told that none of the chaplains who preside there come from a denomination that allowed them to celebrate a gay marriage. Their marriage was officiated by a friend, Army Chaplain Col. J. Wesley Smith of Dover Air Force Base.

Fulton, a veteran and the communications director of an organization called OutServe — which represents actively serving gay, lesbian and bisexual military personnel — confirmed in an e-mail to USA TODAY Friday night: “We will be the first same sex couple to wed at the Cadet Chapel at West Point.”

via West Point chapel hosts first same-sex marriage.

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