Gay What ?
Rest of site back up shortly!

Nevada AG re-evaluating defense of marriage ban

Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto, gay news, Washington Blade

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is reconsidering defense of her state’s marriage equality ban. (Photo public domain)

The attorney general of Nevada has announced she’s re-evaluating her defense of the state’s marriage ban in court, saying her previous arguments are “likely no longer tenable.”

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat who filed a 55-page legal brief on Tuesday defending her state’s ban on same-sex marriage, said in a statement late Friday she’s reconsidering her position following a significant ruling in favor of gay rights.

“A potentially significant case was decided by the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday of this week, the same day that a brief was filed on behalf of the State in Nevada’s same-sex marriage case,” Masto said. “The Ninth Circuit’s new decision, entitled SmithKline Beechum Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories, appears to impact the equal protection and due process arguments made on behalf of the State. After careful review of the SmithKline decision these arguments are likely no longer tenable in the Ninth Circuit.”

Masto took criticism not only for defending her state’s ban on same-sex marriage when other Democrats, most recently Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, have declined to defend similar laws, but also for invoking incest and bigamy in her argument against marriage equality before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

But the brief was filed on the same day the Ninth Circuit handed down a landmark decision in case of SmithKline Beechum Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories. The three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit ruled a court cannot exclude jurors from a case based on their sexual orientation, applying heightened scrutiny, a greater assumption a law is unconstitutional, to the decision.

As legal experts have pointed out, the application of heightened scrutiny in that case holds legal precedent in the Ninth Circuit on laws related to sexual orientation and makes it more likely courts within the jurisdiction will rule marriage bans are unconstitutional.

Although Masto argued in her brief Nevada’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage shouldn’t be subjected to heightened scrutiny, her statement on Friday reveals she reconsidering that view.

“This office will conduct further review over the weekend in order to evaluate the State’s argument in light of SmithKline,” Masto said. “We will be discussing this with the governor’s office next week.”

Derek Washington, lead organizer for the LGBT group GetEQUAL Nevada, said he’s “still gobsmacked” by the invocation of bigamy and incest in Masto’s earlier brief and urged her to make a decision in favor of marriage equality.

“I have said from the beginning let’s stop pussyfooting around while states all around us are getting marriage equality (and our money),” Washington said. “Let’s go to the courts every which way. I want to go World War 3 on this. We are the wedding capital of the entire world. Economically Nevada needs marriage equality right now, not in a few years.”

25
Jan
2014

National Stonewall Democrats curtails operations

Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Democrats, Jerame Davis

National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis (Blade photo by Michael Key)

National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis confirmed to the Washington Blade on Tuesday his organization will cease operations through at least the end of this year after it failed to bridge a $30,000 budget gap.

“We obviously had the budget shortfall that we announced late last year and in that process we learned a few things,” he said shortly after the Dallas Voice broke the story earlier in the day. “When we were talking with various interested parties, whether they were from the DNC [the Democratic National Committee] or the labor movement or just LGBT Democrats in general, while finding the money that we needed in the short amount of time like that wasn’t possible, what we did find was there was an interest in keeping the org around. A lot of people really believe there’s a need and a place for Stonewall, it’s just that circumstances over the past several years have led to funding crisis that we found ourselves in.”

Davis told the Blade in an exclusive interview on Dec. 4 that his organization would likely close its doors if it didn’t raise $30,000 by the end of the year. He said the last-minute fundraising appeal netted less than $10,000 as of deadline.

“The decision was made that we would close down our office, cut our expenses down to next to nothing,” Davis, whose last day as a paid executive director was on Dec. 31, said. He remains with the organization in a volunteer capacity. “We tend to spend odd number years in a rebuilding mode anyway. This just kind of fit with what we normally do, the only difference being is we’re not going to have paid staff or an office for this year. Obviously that means our operations will be curtailed, but that also gives us the ability to focus our time and energy on figuring out what the systemic problems are for why we’ve had such funding problems and take the time to look at the org and figure out is there a future and what does that future look like.”

National Stonewall Democrats’ financial problems had previously threatened to shutter the organization.

The Blade reported in Feb. 2011 an anonymous donor gave $100,000 to the organization amid reports then-Executive Director Michael Mitchell did not effectively manage the group’s budget. Davis said there was “1,800 in the bank and a boat load of debt” when he took over in November 2011.

“Most people agree that a big part of our problem was that we had strayed from our original mission,” he said. “We had a muddy, undefined reason for existence and you combine that with the other missteps that we’ve made operationally, turnover in staff, especially at the top and so forth and it just kind of all compounded.”

Melissa Sklarz, who co-chaired National Stonewall Democrats Board of Directors from 2009 through early 2011, noted to the Blade last month then-President Bill Clinton had signed the ban on openly gay service members and the Defense of Marriage Act into law in the years before former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank founded the organization in 1998.

“The Democratic Party and the LGBT political landscape have changed dramatically in the past 15 years since National Stonewall was founded,” she added earlier on Tuesday. “The Democrats needed to understand the LGBT community and the community needed to understand that the Democrats were the true party of progress. NSD was the right idea at the right time.”

Sklarz further described Davis as “a great leader.”

“I look forward to helping with the new NSD next year,” she said.

“It is not unusual for organizations to take a time out every once in awhile,” gay New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley told the Blade. “There are many conversations going on right now, I am confident that NSD will emerge from this process stronger and more focused than ever before. I look forward to being part of that process.”

Gregory T. Angelo, interim executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, tweeted on his personal Twitter account that he is “not shedding any tears over” National Stonewall Democrats’ decision to curtail operations.

“It’s ironic that Republicans can throw big bucks around and use the partisan Log Cabin Republicans to try and destroy Democrats and their positive initiatives,” Barbra Casbar Siperstein, a former National Stonewall Democrats board member from New Jersey who is a member of the DNC Executive Committee, told the Blade. “Yet it appears that LGBT Democrats who talk about partisanship cannot support a partisan organization that exists to build for equality and expose the damage and destructiveness that the modern Republicans time and time again, almost single mindedly attempt to destroy the Great Society, the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt, but also the work of the great Progressive, Republican Teddy Roosevelt.”

Derek Washington of Stonewall Democrats of Nevada agreed.

“Jerame Davis has done the best he probably could considering the hand he was dealt upon taking charge of national Stonewall,” he said. “Having said that I think it’s time for Stonewall to take this hiatus as a wake up call and rebrand itself as the premiere LGBT political organization regardless of party as we’ve done here in Nevada. Log Cabin and GOProud have no ground operation or presence here due to our aggressive branding and take no prisoners attitude in both our state and Southern Nevada chapters of Stonewall. And I’m not talking about sometime in the future. I’m talking about now.”

08
Jan
2013