Monday, April 30, 2007

Election of Democrats vital to LGBT equal rights

This is in the Friday, 27 Apr 2007 issue of the Seattle Gay News.

Election of Democrats vital to LGBT equal rights
by Lee Bolin - Special to the Seattle Gay News

The passage of Senate Bill 5336, which provides for domestic partner rights, was made possible by Democratic gains in the 2004 and 2006 elections. Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law on Saturday, 21 Apr 2007.

Governor Gregoire won the 2004 race for Washington Governor by only 129 votes out of 2,810,058 cast. Her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, repeatedly avoided gay union questions during the campaign. The Washington Conservative Union nevertheless gave him a score of 100 in 2003 for, among other things, opposing an employment protection bill that included a sexual orientation clause. Therefore, one may reasonably conclude that a Governor Rossi would have vetoed SB 5336.

Going into the 2004 election, Democrats were in the Senate minority by 24-25. They now control the Senate by 32-17, and it was this Democratic majority as well as the one in the House that passed the domestic partner bill and sent it to Governor Gregoire to sign.

In the state Senate, 27 of 32 Democrats voted "yes" (84%). Only one Republican of 17 voted "yes" (6%).

In the state House, 60 of 62 Democrats voted "yes" (97%). Only three of 36 Republicans voted "yes" (8%).

Same-sex couples who register as domestic partners will now have rights to hospital visitation, to automatic inheritance, and to making decisions about a deceased partner's remains, among other rights that are now guaranteed to married couples. This is a law that recognizes the reality of lesbian and gay families.

Additionally, Democratic Senator Ed Murray has alluded to the possibility that full marriage rights are within reach for Washington's same-sex couples. The day that the bill was signed, he stated that "[t]oday is a beginning, not an end....It offers the hope that one day, all lesbian and gay families will be treated truly equal under the law."

This possibility cannot be taken for granted, however. Washington is among the states that have a prohibition on same-sex marriage. Moreover, in Washington 's 2006 legislative elections, the winners in 12 House races and 7 Senate races received less than 55% of the vote. Every vote will count in races for governor and for the legislature in 2008 and beyond if rights for lesbian and gay families are to be guaranteed and expanded.

Congressman Barney Frank has repeatedly stated that party affiliation matters when we make voting decisions. Call it the Frank Party Principle. The passage of SB 5336 is a textbook example of the verity of his observation.

We may quantify this with Bolin's Gay 90 Rule: 90% of Democratic officeholders will support the lesbian and gay community 90% of the time on 90% of our issues, and 90% of Republican officeholders will oppose us 90% of the time on 90% of our issues.

As Governor Gregoire signed SB 5336 into law, she said, "This is a very proud moment for me as governor, to make sure the rights of all of our citizens are equal." If Washington voters make wise decisions in coming elections for governor and for the legislature, perhaps this same statement will soon be made by a Democratic governor signing a same-sex marriage bill into law.

As the old saying goes, voting is like driving: if you want to go backward, put it in "R"; if you want to go forward, put it in "D".

Lee Bolin blogs at . He is not a Republican.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dodd still doesn't get it on DOMA

Senator Christopher Dodd was one of 32 Democratic Senators, and one of 85 Senators total, who voted for the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Among other things, DOMA prohibits federal recognition of gay marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships for Social Security benefits purposes.

Dodd nevertheless wondered in last night's Democratic presidential debate "what kind of retirement would [his daughters] be allowed to have" if they were lesbian:

...the issue of gay marriage triggered a...response from Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, who said he supports civil unions for gay people, but not gay marriage.

'I have two very young daughters who one day may have a different sexual orientation than their parents. How would I like them to be treated as adults?' he asked. 'What kind of housing, what kind of homes, what kind of jobs, what kind of retirement would they be allowed to have?'

Senator Dodd helped decide what kind of retirement they would be allowed to have. So did Senator Joseph Biden and then-Rep. Bill Richardson, who also voted "yes". That retirement will not be a cheery one because of DOMA's prohibitions on the ability of same-sex couples to protect their families.

Spitzer introduces gay marriage bill; doubts its chances

The Associated Press is reporting that Democratic New York Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced his gay marriage proposal today. Spitzer nevertheless has stated that he expects the Republican-controlled state Senate to block the bill.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno has made it clear that he considers the bill to be D.O.A. Senate Republicans have a 33-29 majority.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Clinton's LGBT-free statement on Iowa ENDA bill

In response to the passage of the Iowa non-discrimination bill that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's existing ENDA (see previous post), the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton sent out this press release. Nowhere in the release do the terms "sexual orientation" , "gender identity", "gay", "lesbian", "bisexual", or "transgender" appear:


Statement from Senator Clinton on Iowa Discrimination Bill

"I applaud the Iowa State Legislature for their efforts to end discrimination and make the state more welcoming. I've supported similar legislation in the US Senate because too many Americans suffer as a result of bigotry, and I believe this legislation will help reinforce our fundamental belief in equality and justice for all. As President, I will work with Congress to echo the clear message of fairness Iowa's leaders sent today."

Iowa legislature adds sexual orientation, gender identity to ENDA

The Iowa legislature has passed an employment non-discrimination act (ENDA) and sent the bill to Democratic Governor Chet Culver. The bill adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's existing ENDA. It is designed to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from employment discrimination.

In the state House, 50 of 54 Democrats voted "yes" (93%). Nine of 46 Republicans voted "yes" (20%).

In the state Senate, 29 of 30 Democrats voted "yes" (97%). Five of 20 Republicans voted "yes" (25%).

The text of Senate File 427 is here. The House and Senate roll calls can be found by clicking on Complete Bill History.

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