Carper (D-DE) and Kirk (R-IL) Back Marriage Equality; 7 Dem Holdouts

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)

As of today, exactly half of the members of the US Senate support marriage rights for same-sex couples. Senator Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware, and Senator Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, both announced their support of marriage equality.

Delaware Sen. Tom Carper on Tuesday became the latest Senate Democrat to publicly endorse marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“As our society has changed and evolved, so too has the public’s opinion on gay marriage – and so has mine,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I pray every day for God to grant me the wisdom to do what is right. Through my prayers and conversations with my family and countless friends and Delawareans, I’ve been reminded of the power of one of my core values: the Golden Rule. It calls on us to treat others as we want to be treated. That means, to me, that all Americans ultimately should be free to marry the people they love and intend to share their lives with, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that’s why today, after a great deal of soul searching, I’m endorsing marriage equality.”

Childless and divorced from his his wife, Mark Kirk has been reported to be a closeted gay man, with accusations from the right-wing of his own party and blog reporting by Mike Rogers, the most feared man on Capitol Hill. Reported the Huffington Post in 2010:

Rogers cited several sources who contacted him following Kirk’s DADT vote. Two men, whose names were not given, claimed to have had sexual relations with Kirk while he was in college.

The post also claims that Kirk alluded to his homosexuality to Rogers himself at a 2004 party in Washington:

It was at that party that I met Mark Kirk. I was introduced to him by the person I came with and at the time did not realize he was a member of the House. As my friend walked away, Kirk asked me if the man who introduced us was “single or attached.” When I said that he had a partner, Kirk replied disappointingly, “oh, well.” At the end of that interaction I walked away and didn’t think much of it at the time.

Kirk, who has no children and divorced his wife Kimberly Vertolli last year, denied that he was gay during Martin’s attacks in 2009. Vertolli also insisted to Chicago gay blog Feast of Fun that her ex-husband is not gay.

Today’s report on Mark Kirk’s change of heart seems to indicate that his recovery from a serious stroke had some bearing on his support of marriage equality:

“When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others,” Kirk wrote on his blog.

“Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back– government has no place in the middle.”

Kirk is the second sitting Republican Senator to endorse marriage equality, following Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman last month.

With two GOP Senators having endorsed marriage equality, there are now seven Democratic Senators who remain opposed to same-sex couples’ civil right to marry the person they love. Today, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has ranked them according to his opinion of how likely they are to change their positions: Tim Johnson (SD-retiring), Bill Nelson (FL), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Mary Landrieu (LA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Mark Pryor (AR).

Senator Bob Casey Backs Marriage Equality: And Then There Were Nine Eight

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Nine Eight Senate Democrats remain non-supporters of marriage equality today, thanks to Bob Casey’s thoughtful announcement this morning:

“After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy and civil-rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed,” Casey said in a statement exclusively first released to PGN Monday afternoon.

Senator Casey ascribes his change of views to personal contact with lesbian and gay couples, giving credence to Harvey Milk’s admonition to every one of us to Come Out:

Part of that process included considering feedback from LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families, Casey said.

“These stories had a substantial impact on my position on this issue,” the senator said. “If two people of the same sex fall in love and want to marry, why would our government stand in their way? At a time when many Americans lament a lack of commitment in our society between married men and women, why would we want less commitment and fewer strong marriages? If two people of the same sex want to raise children, why would our government prevent them from doing so, especially when so many children have only one parent or none at all?”

Casey referenced one lesbian woman from Southeastern Pennsylvania who contacted him, detailing the financial and societal setbacks she, her partner and their children have faced from being denied the right to marry.

“As a senator and as a citizen, I can no longer in good conscience take a position that denies her and her family the full measure of equality and respect,” Casey said.

It is encouraging to see former non-supporters of marriage equality begin to frame the opposition as denial of a right. Full equality and respect is something that Americans’ sense of fairness encourages them to support.

Remaining Senate Democrats, upon whom we await word, are listed here.

Sunday Late Night: RNC Plans to Say “Thanks for picking our food, Latinos!”

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If there’s a pile of money to be picked over in American politics, whether it’s Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996, Rupert Murdoch’s wallet in this century, or the RNC’s ten-million dollar effort to re-brand itself for Latino voters, you can bet toe-sucking whoremonger Dick Morris will be nearby peddling a solution, ready to hoover up the cash.

Sniffing around the effort put in place by obvious anagram Reince Priebus (spellcheck says “whaaaa?”), Dick Morris shows his usual aptness for getting everything wrong, forever and always. Morris plans an ad with Obvious Anagram speaking directly to:

“those Latin Americans who’ve come to the United States to help us build our country, to help harvest our food, to help make our economy work and [Priebus’] message is ‘welcome, we need you, you’re making our country younger, more prosperous, harder working and we need you for the future.'”


Welcome! Now pick our food, hard workers. Prosper!

When you pick the guy who’s best known for always being wrong about everything to focus on the most important part of your re-branding effort (described by the party’s real leader as “getting bamboozled“), what could possibly go wrong? If there’s bamboozling and consultant billing to be done, Dick Morris is the man you want, Obvious Anagram. Especially if your ten-million dollars needs spending to thank Latinos for picking our food.

Dick Morris FTW. Or, you know, maybe not.

Two More Senate ConservaDems for Marriage Equality

Sen. Mark Begich
Sen.Jon Tester

I must admit, I am stunned at how quickly the Senate Democratic caucus is moving out in front (ha!) on marriage equality. Gotta get to the front of that parade, quick-step now! On the day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Proposition 8 (more here) we learn that Democratic United States senators from Alaska and Montana have declared their support.

I really do believe that Harry Reid must have a sign-up board at Democratic caucus meetings so that these eager converts don’t step on each others’ press announcements. Or maybe Dick Durbin stage-manages these guys so they don’t fall all over each other climbing on the bandwagon.

First, Alaska’s Mark Begich, up for re-election in 2014:

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.

Begich went on to say, “Government should keep out of individuals’ personal lives—if someone wants to marry someone they love, they should be able to. Alaskans are fed up with government intrusion into our private lives, our daily business, and in the way we manage our resources and economy.”

And then, today, Montana’s Jon Tester, re-elected last year:

Tester released a brief statement Tuesday as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The Montana Democrat says he is “proud to support marriage equality because no one should be able to tell a Montanan or any American who they can love and who they can marry.”

Tester was re-elected just last year. He previously opposed gay marriage, pointed to the decision by Montana voters in 2004 to amend the Constitution to prevent same-sex marriages.

For an almost comprehensive summary of same-sex marriage support by politicians (including Obama’s unequivocal support in February 1996; thank you Tracy Baim!), please see Mother Jones’ excellent timeline. It’s getting late in the game, Senate Democrats. These are the ten remaining holdouts.

Who will be last?

Post-Clinton, Pre-SCOTUS, US Senators Line Up for Marriage Equality

Prior to this week’s historic arguments at the Supreme Court, and certainly before the Court issues its decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA (most likely at the end of June) we’re seeing US Senators lining up for marriage equality. After former first lady, US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her unqualified support for LGBT equality, including marriage, last week, it seems like the moderate caucus of the Democratic Senators has found permission to jump aboard the bandwagon. From Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill’s tumblr page Sunday night, right above her frittata recipe:

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13

The question of marriage equality is a great American debate. Many people, some with strong religious faith, believe that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. Other people, many of whom also have strong religious faith, believe that our country should not limit the commitment of marriage to some, but rather all Americans, gay and straight should be allowed to fully participate in the most basic of family values.

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.

My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.

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.

Now, Monday, comes Virginia’s Mark Warner, who is up for re-election in 2014, with his own announcement:

“I support marriage equality because it is the fair and right thing to do,” Warner wrote. “Like many Virginians and Americans, my views on gay marriage have evolved, and this is the inevitable extension of my efforts to promote equality and opportunity for everyone.”

Coming only one year after neither major party’s presidential candidate supported marriage equality, and only one week after GOP vice-presidential vettee Rob Portman stated his preference for his gay son to be able to marry (and other gays as well, presumably) it does seem like a bandwagon rolling downhill.

The Washington Post (Chris Cillizza conventional Beltway wisdom alert) has declared the political battle for marriage equality is over: (more…)

Sunday Late Night: What Digby and Obama Said

Back when the liberal blogosphere was new and shiny, we rank amateurs often kicked back with a “What Digby Said” post. So often in those early days, when one wanted the very best words on a topic, one went to Hullabaloo for the best way it was said. There wasn’t much point in trying to rearrange the words, or re-contextualize Digby’s very on-point commentary, particularly about our Vulcan overlords and their warmaking. Additionally, Digby’s commentary about hapless Democrats cut to the quick.

So, sometimes, we’d just type “What Digby Said” and link it up.

Deja vu all over again:

QOTD: President Obama

by digby

Obama in Jerusalem:

“Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand they do.”

I suppose that’s true? But how do we explain the fact that he and a bunch of Democrats are willing to take a huge risk by doing things the people explicitly demand they not do.

Then Digby provides a link to the most extraordinary collection of polling data I’ve ever seen. It comes from the website of the Campaign for America’s Future, and really challenges Obama’s statement in Jerusalem. Here’s the very first part of an extremely long list of polling result (that you might want to bookmark) on Social Security alone:

Social Security

Harris Interactive. February 6-13, 2012.

“Only 12% of the public want to see a cut in Social Security payments”.

KPC Poll. March 9, 2012.

“Over two thirds of Americans agree that the government has a role in providing a safety net for their personal financial security, including Social Security, Medicare, and protection from fraud.”

CNN/ORC Poll. September 23-25, 2011.

“Would you say that the Social Security system has been good for the country, has been bad for the country, or has had no effect on the country?” 79% answered good.

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Health Care.
Sept 8-11, 2011.

Voters overwhelmingly approve of raising the cap on Social Security wages above $106,000 (71% in favor, 21% oppose).

Raising retirement age is opposed (65% oppose, 30% in favor). (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Daniel Hernandez, They Call Me A Hero: A Memoir of My Youth

Welcome Daniel Hernandez (Twitter) and Host Teddy Partridge (FDL)

They Call Me A Hero: A Memoir of My Youth

I’m delighted to host today’s Book Salon with Daniel Hernandez, whose early first response saved Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ life in Tucson more than two years ago. Parts of this book are hard to read, particularly Daniel’s evocative first chapters about the shooting itself.

It’s also amazing to think that this tragedy happened more than two years ago. How far we’ve come since then — and how many other tragedies like this one have occured! And yet, no action’s been taken to mitigate any of the circumstances that allowed it. Reading the first chapters, about the shooting and its immediate aftermath, brings back difficult emotions: I remember vividly that we all had heard that the Congresswoman had died. Besides my feelings for her family, friends, and constituents, I remember thinking that day, “Well, surely now, Congress will do something about these gun massacres.”

Daniel Hernandez evokes that difficult day quite eloquently; he takes you right into the hospital, where he waited for hours simply for word of his friend Gabby’s medical status, where his own family knew only the sketchiest details, and where we learn than when you’re part of a crime scene, you can’t change out of your blood-drenched clothes until you’re told to.

Daniel does a remarkable job of taking us inside that day, which none of us would hope to be inside of, ever. He recalls his specific feelings and frustrations at being at the absolute center of the event, but knowing little about its outcome. And then, in an avalanche of media attention, he describes how he undertook an overwhelming 215 interviews by the day of the memorial service in Tucson. There he met President Obama and the First Lady. There his iconic media status was cemented by that hug from the President, who said to him, moments after announcing to a cheering crowd that he had just come from Gabby Giffords’ hospital bedside, where she’d opened her eyes for the first time: “And, Daniel, I’m sorry, you may deny it, but we’ve decided you are a hero, because you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive.”

Thus began the journey of a young man who became an icon for so many: a gay, Hispanic student intern who ran toward danger to save a Congresswoman shot in the line of duty and ended up sitting with the First Lady at the State of the Union. In this book, Daniel Hernandez takes us behind his iconic status, though, and shares with us the joys, and troubles and challenges, of growing up gay and Hispanic, and not-rich, in America.

His isn’t an unusual story, it’s certainly repeated all across America every day, and yet when events intervened, he answered the call. It’s very encouraging to know people will do this, step up when they must, and apply their training to a situation none of us can imagine. Learn more about Daniel Hernandez and his extraordinary but ordinary American life as we chat with him over the next two hours about his Memoir of My Youth. (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Daniel Hernandez, They Call Me A Hero: A Memoir of My Youth

Welcome Daniel Hernandez (Twitter) and Host Teddy Partridge (FDL)

They Call Me A Hero: A Memoir of My Youth

I’m delighted to host today’s Book Salon with Daniel Hernandez, whose early first response saved Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ life in Tucson more than two years ago. Parts of this book are hard to read, particularly Daniel’s evocative first chapters about the shooting itself.

It’s also amazing to think that this tragedy happened more than two years ago. How far we’ve come since then — and how many other tragedies like this one have occured! And yet, no action’s been taken to mitigate any of the circumstances that allowed it. Reading the first chapters, about the shooting and its immediate aftermath, brings back difficult emotions: I remember vividly that we all had heard that the Congresswoman had died. Besides my feelings for her family, friends, and constituents, I remember thinking that day, “Well, surely now, Congress will do something about these gun massacres.”

Daniel Hernandez evokes that difficult day quite eloquently; he takes you right into the hospital, where he waited for hours simply for word of his friend Gabby’s medical status, where his own family knew only the sketchiest details, and where we learn than when you’re part of a crime scene, you can’t change out of your blood-drenched clothes until you’re told to.

(more…)

The Marriage Equality Majority & SCOTUS

Protest Sign: Defend Love, Destroy DOMA
A growing number of Americans support an end to the Defense of Marriage Act which bans gay marriage and other LGBTQ protections.

Strong majorities of Americans in all categories but GOP and Olds support marriage equality today. According to a new ABC-Washington Post poll, support for legal same-sex marriages has now reached 58%.

The poll shows that 58 percent of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married; 36 percent say it should be illegal. Public attitudes toward gay marriage are a mirror image of what they were a decade ago: in 2003, 37 percent favored gay nuptials, and 55 percent opposed them.

Even a decade ago, when the past ten years’ progress was almost unthinkable, same-sex marriages were vastly more approved in America than interracial marriages were at the time the US Supreme Court weighed in on them:

The 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia ended all restrictions on interracial marriage in the United States. But a Gallup poll a year later in 1968 showed that only 20 percent of Americans supported marriage between whites and black; 73 percent opposed

Now, we all know that the Supreme Court isn’t bound by polls, and may not even read the newspapers as important decisions approach, but this sea change of American opinion cannot be overlooked, especially by a Chief Justice who seems to worry about the legitimacy of his Court. It took a long time for Americans to catch up with the Court’s decision on interracial marriage:

Note that a plurality did not support interracial marriage until 1991, almost 25 years after Loving v. Virginia was decided, and it was another six years until there was an actual majority!

Unless the Roberts Court wants to look hopelessly disconnected from the Marriage Equality Majority in America — as the Warren Court was on interracial marriage! — the Chief Justice is going to need to find some way to strike down both Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, just as he found his way to a majority vote upholding the Affordable Care Act.

(more…)

The Marriage Equality Majority & SCOTUS

Protest Sign: Defend Love, Destroy DOMA
A growing number of Americans support an end to the Defense of Marriage Act which bans gay marriage and other LGBTQ protections.

Strong majorities of Americans in all categories but GOP and Olds support marriage equality today. According to a new ABC-Washington Post poll, support for legal same-sex marriages has now reached 58%.

The poll shows that 58 percent of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married; 36 percent say it should be illegal. Public attitudes toward gay marriage are a mirror image of what they were a decade ago: in 2003, 37 percent favored gay nuptials, and 55 percent opposed them.

Even a decade ago, when the past ten years’ progress was almost unthinkable, same-sex marriages were vastly more approved in America than interracial marriages were at the time the US Supreme Court weighed in on them:

The 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia ended all restrictions on interracial marriage in the United States. But a Gallup poll a year later in 1968 showed that only 20 percent of Americans supported marriage between whites and black; 73 percent opposed

Now, we all know that the Supreme Court isn’t bound by polls, and may not even read the newspapers as important decisions approach, but this sea change of American opinion cannot be overlooked, especially by a Chief Justice who seems to worry about the legitimacy of his Court. It took a long time for Americans to catch up with the Court’s decision on interracial marriage:

Note that a plurality did not support interracial marriage until 1991, almost 25 years after Loving v. Virginia was decided, and it was another six years until there was an actual majority!

Unless the Roberts Court wants to look hopelessly disconnected from the Marriage Equality Majority in America — as the Warren Court was on interracial marriage! — the Chief Justice is going to need to find some way to strike down both Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, just as he found his way to a majority vote upholding the Affordable Care Act.

(more…)