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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