Shutdown took $24 billion bite out of economy – Oct. 16, 2013

The United States may have dodged an economic catastrophe by raising the debt ceiling and opening the government, but it didn’t emerge from the political debacle unscathed.

The 16-day government shutdown took a $24 billion chunk out of the U.S. economy, according to an initial analysis from Standard & Poor’s.

As a result, the rating agency projects that the U.S. economy will grow 2.4% in the fourth quarter — as opposed to the roughly 3% growth rate predicted prior to the shutdown.

via Shutdown took $24 billion bite out of economy – Oct. 16, 2013.

Related Images:

Bucking the trend: The House Democrats who oppose gay marriage – The Hill

Eleven House Democrats are on record as opposing gay marriage, even as support within their party for the issue builds.

Another nine haven’t taken definitive positions in support of or against gay marriage.

President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a number of Democratic senators have flipped on the issue, and a majority of voters support gay marriage according to polls.

But the issue remains politically thorny, and even in the relatively liberal House Democratic conference there are pockets of opposition to same-sex marriage.

Nine Democrats who voted in 2011 to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to gay couples haven’t publicly changed their positions: Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Gene Green (Texas), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.).

Another two freshmen Democrats voiced opposition to same-sex marriage during their 2012 campaigns: Reps. Bill Enyart (Ill.) and Pete Gallego (Texas).

The nine Democrats who haven’t taken a definitive position on gay marriage are Reps. Jim Costa (Calif.), Ron Kind (Wis.), Cedric Richmond (La.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), David Scott (Ga.), Terry Sewell (Ala.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Pete Visclosky (Ind.) and freshman Filemon Vela (Texas).

Five of these Democrats hail from districts that voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, and they are perennial GOP targets: Barrow, Matheson, McIntyre, Peterson and Rahall. Obama narrowly carried Enyart’s district.

Many other members represent minority-majority districts. Both African-American and Hispanic-American constituencies have historically been more opposed to gay marriage. Yet other members who represent districts with such populations do support gay marriage.

via Bucking the trend: The House Democrats who oppose gay marriage – The Hill.

Related Images:

Senators Abandon ‘Discriminatory’ DOMA Before Supreme Court Arguments – ABC News

Three Democratic senators have reversed their stance on the Defense of Marriage Act in the past three days before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the law that limits marriage to one man and one woman.

Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., John “Jay” Rockefeller, D-W.V., and Mark Warner, D-Va., said today and Sunday that they no longer support a federal law banning gay marriage. The Supreme Court plans to hear oral arguments in a case challenging that law Wednesday, after it considers a law banning same-sex marriage in California Tuesday.

McCaskill made the announcement on her Tumblr blog Sunday.

“I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry,” McCaskill wrote. “Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.”

via Senators Abandon ‘Discriminatory’ DOMA Before Supreme Court Arguments – ABC News.

Related Images:

Democrats Blast Increased House Legal Fees for Defense of DOMA : Roll Call News

Two top House Democrats are criticizing House Republicans for spending additional taxpayer funds to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

On Jan. 4, Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., the new chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, approved a contract with the law firm Bancroft PLLC increasing the agreed-upon ceiling on fees for defense of the law from $2 million to $3 million.

In a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner Tuesday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said they should have been consulted before the agreement was signed.

Both Democratic lawmakers are members of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which decides how the House acts in court. BLAG is comprised of three members of the majority party leadership in the House and two members of the minority party leadership.

via Democrats Blast Increased House Legal Fees for Defense of DOMA : Roll Call News.

Related Images:

Pelosi and 144 House Democrats File Brief Against DOMA – Poliglot

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and 144 other House Democrats filed a brief on Friday arguing that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

The brief was filed in the case of Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian widow who sued the government after she was taxed more than $363,000 on assets that passed to her after the death of her wife in 2009 because the government did not recognize their marriage.

The two women first met in 1963 and were married in New York in 2007 after a more than 40-year engagement.

Windsor’s case has reached the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and been petitioned to the Supreme Court for review.

The brief dissects arguments made by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), instructed by House Republicans to defend the constitutionality of DOMA in court after the Obama administration refused to do so in February 2011, and argues that the Court of Appeals should uphold a New York District Court’s June ruling that DOMA violates the Constitution.

Pelosi was joined by Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in signing the amicus brief, which voluntarily offers information to the court. According to the brief, there is no legitimate federal interest in denying same-sex couples the rights that come with marriage.

“It is impossible to believe that any legitimate federal interest is rationally served by depriving a widow like [Edie] Windsor of the marital deduction that allows married couples to pass property to the surviving spouse without penalty, thus maximizing the survivor’s financial well-being,” the document reads.

via Pelosi and 144 House Democrats File Brief Against DOMA – Poliglot.

Related Images:

Letter from Gay Son to Romney-Supporting Dad: “My Dad Was Going to Vote for Romney, Until I Wrote Him This Letter” : politics

Dad,

I saw your recent post on Facebook “liking” Mitt Romney and had to write. (Admittedly, I’m still getting used to my 66 year-old father using Facebook, but given what I’m about to write, I assure you I’m quite supportive of it.)

Though your public support for Romney doesn’t surprise me, given how open you’ve been about your dislike of President Obama, it does bother me. Since coming out to you and mom nineteen years ago, I’ve watched you vote for the Republican candidates in every major race. Save for the occasional mealtime argument or sarcastic Fox News barb, I’ve held my tongue, despite the hurt and anger that came from watching you vote for a party that has made a sport out of demonizing gay and lesbian people, like me, for political gain. I did so because I never had a solid enough argument that the Democratic Party was wholly different. They often stopped short of institutionalizing discrimination of gays, but were sadly lax on standing on principle and advocating for its eradication. Until now.

For the first time in our nation’s history, a U.S. President and his party have publicly stated that gays and lesbians are equal citizens and should be such under the law. I know you’re aware that Obama believes gays and lesbians, like me, should have the rights and responsibilities of marriage and that the 2012 Democratic Party Platform will include marriage equality as one of its tenets. You will never know what it is to be gay in this world at this moment, but I’d bet at some point in your life you’ve known how it felt to have your essential worth validated by someone with authority. I can’t overstate the power of having my president and his party say to me, and the nation, that I am not less than, but equal to, and validate my inherent right to pursue my life with liberty and unimpeded happiness. Never before has this happened. So, never before have I made the argument that you should vote for the Democrat. But, today’s a new day.

Four months ago, I sat at my younger brother’s wedding and watched you well up, speaking publicly with pride for the man he’s become and the woman he chose. His life, though certain to have unexpected turns ahead, has a clear path, one available to him simply because of his sexual orientation at birth. Mine has never been so clear. Oftentimes, being gay feels like being a salmon swimming upstream. Our relationships aren’t supported by tradition or institution, any models we may have remain hidden, as openness invites derision, and the pressures to carve a life out with another person, minimally as equally affected by the ever-present fear, instilled in us from our earliest memories that we’re different and unlovable and bad, can often be too much to bear. And yet, not always. The resiliency of my community, in the face of such misunderstanding and hate, is astonishing and inspiring. They’ve taught me to think twice before underestimating the will of the human spirit in its slow march toward progress, whatever the circumstances.

I’m almost forty. Both of my younger brothers are married, enjoying all the rights and responsibilities of that government-issued status. Do you want that for me? Do you believe I should have someone beside me on life’s journey, legally recognized as my spouse, able to visit me in the hospital, able to make my end-of-life decisions, with whom I’m able to build a financially interdependent life? I have to believe you do. I have to believe you’re too good a man not to. Because if you don’t… If, like the candidate you’re supporting, you believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman, I feel sorry for us both: you, because it means you’re on the wrong side of history and your own son’s happiness and me, because it means my father does believe I’m “less than.”

In any other election, given any other choice, I’d stay quiet. If you, and others like you, wanted to believe the worst about Obama – a good man, trying to do good work – and vote against your interests (Romney’s tax and Medicare plans won’t help you), I’d shake my head in wonder and watch you do it anyway. But this isn’t any other election. This election presents a clear choice between two people whose policy beliefs directly affect the course of my life. Let me be clear: A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote against me. There is no argument to counter that fact.

You might want to argue that you’re not a single-issue voter, but when the single-issue is your own son’s equality under the law, I wouldn’t recommend that argument. You might want to argue that, because you live in New York State, your vote won’t ultimately matter since Obama will carry the state anyway. You’re correct. He will. In that way, I suppose, your vote won’t matter. But it matters to me. You might want to argue just because you don’t like the idea of your son telling you what you ought to do. But, whatever else, you know I’m a good man. It’s been said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing;” and I’m a good man who’s never been good at that.

Will I change your mind? I hope so. I’m sure Mom would tell me it’s a lost cause. And maybe she’s right. But that would be sad. Because it might be nice to one day have my father stand up at my wedding, realizing he helped make it happen.

Your Son

EDIT: My dad’s reply, in part: “I will honor your request because you are my son and I love you. I do support the democratic position on gay marriage…I hope this is a position that they really stand for and not just a political statement for votes.”

via Letter from Gay Son to Romney-Supporting Dad: “My Dad Was Going to Vote for Romney, Until I Wrote Him This Letter” : politics.

Related Images:

Comprehensive survey of congressional positions on marriage equality released – Boston Spirit Magazine – Boston.com

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has released a Comprehensive Survey of Congressional Positions on Marriage Equality.

Among both the House and Senate, 181 members support marriage equality (34 percent). 234 have made statements against (44 percent) and 122 have an unclear or unknown position (23 percent). 36 Senators and 145 Representatives support marriage equality with 52 Senators and 182 Representatives opposed.

All 100 Senators, 431 sitting Representatives and 6 Delegates were asked whether or not they agreed with this statement: “Gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to pledge their love and commitment through the civil institution of marriage. I believe that two committed adults of the same sex should be able to receive a government-issued marriage license, while religious institutions retain their right to determine which marriages they will perform.”

via Comprehensive survey of congressional positions on marriage equality released – Boston Spirit Magazine – Boston.com.

Related Images:

Pat Robertson: Democrats’ Support For Gay Marriage Is Political ‘Death Wish’

Right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson thinks Democrats are committing political suicide with their decision to stand up for the civil rights of the LGBT community.

Speaking on his television program on Tuesday, Robertson said the Democratic Party has a “death wish” in backing marriage equality as part of its official platform, which will be unveiled at this summer’s Democratic National Convention.

“For the Democrats to go out on that limb, it just seems like to me that they are further alienating themselves from the mainstream of America,” Robertson said. “If that’s what they want to do, fine, but it will mean the death knell of their party, it seems like to me, and of course that’s what they’re doing but maybe they have a death wish.”

Recent polling contradicts Robertson’s assertion. A survey released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that 48 percent of the overall public supports same-sex marriage, while only 44 percent oppose it. Among Democrats, 65 percent support the right of gay couples to marry.

via Pat Robertson: Democrats’ Support For Gay Marriage Is Political ‘Death Wish’.

Related Images:

The Democratic Party says ‘I Do’ to marriage equality – Springfield Gay Issues | Examiner.com

This has already been a monumental year regarding the question of same-sex marriage on both sides of the fence and things may just be heating up politically.

Gay, out and recently married, Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts is giving his full support to the Democratic Party’s affirmation of its commitment to marriage equality. In a telephone interview with The Advocate Frank says he is “in favor” of the platform that is currently being drafted and of “being included”. Frank also spoke of the Democratic Party’s cemented support and recent activity in favor of marriage quality including key points highlighted by President Obama’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. Frank applauded the actions by saying that “the fact is, by every action that should be taken, the Democrats in Washington have repudiated DOMA.” He believes giving acknowledged the importance of House Democrats’ near-universal opposition to DOMA as opposed to the majority of House Republican’s that voted to reaffirm it.

via The Democratic Party says ‘I Do’ to marriage equality – Springfield Gay Issues | Examiner.com.

Related Images: