White House

At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.

– President Obama, May 9, 2012



Though he does not officially support gay marriage, President Obama voiced opposition to a proposed anti-gay marriage ballot measure in Minnesota today.

Obama for America Minnesota Communications Director Kristin Sosanie said:

“While the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples.”

“That’s what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do – single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and the President does not support it.”

The proposed Minnesota marriage amendment reads simply, “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.”

It’s the second time in as many months Obama has weighed in on the issue.

The Obama campaign in North Carolina issued a statement in March with the same language in opposition to Amendment One, which would also define marriage in the state’s constitution as between one man and one woman.

Just as in North Carolina, same-sex marriage is already banned by a statute in Minnesota. Unlike the North Carolina amendment, the Minnesota amendment does not mention civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Today’s news comes after White House press secretary Jay Carney stated that First Lady Michelle Obama – in referencing how Supreme Court decisions will impact whether people can “love whomever we choose” – was not commenting about marriage equality.

Her husband, though “evolving” in his views on marriage equality, technically opposed marriage equality and supported civil unions in his 2008 campaign.

April 9th, 2012 4:32 PM by Free Britney

Posted on February 26, 2012 01:55:54 PM ET | By Lucas Grindley

Rick Santorum Tells Two Whoppers


Rick Santorum tried yet again to pretend on Meet the Press today that he doesn’t talk about social issues, and in response he got a swift dressing down from moderator David Gregory. But that didn’t stop Santorum from telling an even bigger whopper, claiming no proof exists that he wants to impose his own values on other Americans.

“These are my personal held religious beliefs,” Santorum said. “There is no evidence at all that I want to impose those values on anyone else.”

Lately, Santorum has regularly claimed he doesn’t actually talk about social issues. Instead, it’s a myth perpetuated as part of a “game” the media plays, he’s said. After the CNN debate in Arizona this week, Santorum predictably attacked moderator John King for asking him about contraception, for example. And before that, he sniped at a television reporter in Michigan for asking about whether same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt.

So today it was Gregory’s turn, and he asked about Santorum’s past criticism of President John F. Kennedy for saying a president’s religious views should be separate from policy. He noted that Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel has called Santorum “Moralizer in Chief” for his belief that contraception and homosexuality, among other things, are against God’s will.

“It’s so funny,” Santorum started to answer Gregory’s question with a smirk. “I get the question all the time, why are you talking so much about the social issues as people ask me about the social issues —”

“Senator, no wait a minute,” Gregory interrupted him. “You talk about this stuff every week, and by the way, it’s not just in this campaign.”

Gregory had done his research. (And so have we; check out our list of some of the many places on the campaign trail where Santorum’s gone antigay.)

“I’ve gone back years when you’ve been in public life, and you have made this a centerpiece of your public life,” Gregory lectured. “So the notion that these are not deeply held views worthy of question and scrutiny, it’s not just about the press.”

Santorum admitted that, “Yeah, they are deeply held views, but they are not what I dominantly talk about.” And then he implored Gregory to “look at my record, I never wanted to impose any of the things that you’ve just talked about.”

The list of reasons why that statement isn’t true would, of course, have to start with Santorum twice signing pledges that, if elected, he would ban same-sex marriage via an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He’s said that would also immediately annul the marriages of thousands of same-sex couples and have the effect, he has promised, of banning adoption by those same couples. Santorum has actually bragged about being one of the original authors of the “Federal Marriage Amendment” that would do all of that.


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(AP)  OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Senate has passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, bringing the state a step closer to becoming the seventh to allow lesbian and gay couples to wed. But the threat of a ballot challenge looms.

The packed public galleries burst into applause as the Senate passed the measure on a 28-21 vote Wednesday night after nearly an hour and a half of debate. Four Republicans crossed party lines and voted with majority Democrats for the measure. Three Democrats voted against it.

The measure now heads to the House, which is expected to approve it and could take action on it as early as next week. Gov. Chris Gregoire supports the measure and has said she will sign it into law, though opponents have promised to challenge it at the ballot with a referendum.

Democratic Sen. Ed Murray, the bill’s sponsor, said he knew same-sex marriage “is as contentious as any issue that this body has considered in its history.”

Lawmakers who vote against gay marriage “are not, nor should they be accused of bigotry,” he said.

“Those of us who support this legislation are not, and we should not be accused of, undermining family life or religious freedom,” said Murray, a gay lawmaker from Seattle who has spearheaded past gay rights and domestic partnership laws in the state. “Marriage is how society says you are a family.”

Murray mentioned his partner of more than 20 years — Michael Shiosaki — as he told his Senate colleagues before the vote “regardless of how you vote on this bill, an invitation will be in the mail” to their future wedding.

Nearly a dozen amendments were debated, including several that passed that strengthen legal protections for religious groups and organizations. A handful were rejected, including one that would exempt photographers, cake decorators and other business owners who object to gay marriage from the law, and another that called for a referendum clause to be added to the bill.

Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, argued that the proposed law alters the definition of marriage and “will lead to the silencing of those who believe in traditional marriage.”

“It’s ironic how a bill which purports to be about ending discrimination leaves the door open so far for discrimination going in the other direction,” he said. “I’m extremely concerned that without additional protections, this legislation will create a hostile environment for those of us who believe in traditional marriage.”

Even though the referendum clause amendment was rejected, opponents have already promised to file a challenge to the legislation. But that can’t be done until after it is passed by the full Legislature and signed into law by Gregoire. Opponents then must turn in 120,577 signatures by June 6.

If opponents aren’t able to collect enough signatures, gay and lesbian couples would be able to be wed starting in June. Otherwise, they would have to wait until the results of a November election.

Before last week, it wasn’t certain the Senate would have the support to pass the measure, as a handful of Democrats remained undecided.

Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

Lawmakers in New Jersey and Maryland are expected to debate gay marriage this year, and Maine could see a gay marriage proposal on the November ballot.

Proposed amendments for constitutional bans on gay marriage will be on the ballots in North Carolina on May 8 and in Minnesota on Nov. 6.

Under the measure that passed Wednesday, the more than 9,300 couples currently registered in domestic partnerships would have two years to either dissolve their relationship or get married. Domestic partnerships that aren’t ended prior to June 30, 2014, would automatically become marriages.

Domestic partnerships would remain for senior couples where at least one partner is 62 years old or older. That provision was included to help seniors who don’t remarry out of fear they could lose certain pension or Social Security benefits.

Alex Guenser, a 26-year-old engineer, drove down to Olympia from his Redmond home with his boyfriend to watch the Senate debate.

“I’m really excited to have Washington pass this,” he said. “I’m excited for my state.”


The gay marriage bill is Senate Bill 6239.

NEW YORK TIMES – by Danny Hakim, Published Jan 17th, 2012

  • Senator Stephen M. Saland’s decision to support same-sex marriage became clear only when he rose to speak during the vote. – Photo: Nathaniel Brooks

ALBANY — Gay rights advocates from Wall Street to Hollywood poured donations into the coffers of four little-known Republican state senators after the lawmakers provided the decisive votes for same-sex marriage in New York last June, according to new campaign finance filings released on Tuesday.

The support for the four senators, whose votes broke ranks with their party, is seen by gay rights leaders as symbolically important for their movement nationally, because in many states same-sex marriage could become law only with support from Republicans, as well as conservative Democrats. Maryland, New Jersey and Washington State are expected to consider same-sex marriage legislation this year.

The four New York Republicans had been threatened with political retribution by the state’s Conservative Party, and now face possible challenges from both the left and the right, but same-sex marriage supporters had promised to help them politically if they supported the issue.

“It was essential to send a clear signal around the country that we will support those who support equality, irrespective of party,” said Brian Ellner, a senior strategist for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. “We were able to win marriage in New York with a bipartisan coalition of fair-minded elected officials. We need to replicate that if we are to keep winning.”

  • Senator James S. Alesi said in an interview, “I didn’t vote for the money, but it’s gratifying to know that support is there.” – Nathaniel Brooks

All four Republicans who voted for same-sex marriage sharply increased their fund-raising in the six months after the marriage bill passed, in many cases raising money from people they had never met. And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat who forcefully pushed the legislation, raised $6 million in six months helped by fund-raisers that highlighted his support for same-sex marriage.

State Senator Roy J. McDonald, a Republican who is a Vietnam veteran from Saratoga County, became a momentary folk hero for many gay people when he blurted out that people who were unhappy with his support for same-sex marriage “can take the job and shove it.” He raised about $447,000 in the six months following the vote, about 27 times more than he had raised in the same period in 2009.

Senator Stephen M. Saland, a Republican lawyer from Poughkeepsie whose decision to support same-sex marriage became clear only when he rose to speak during the vote, raised $425,000. For rank-and-file lawmakers in Albany, those are large sums — both men raised more in the latter half of 2011 than did the Senate majority leader, Dean G. Skelos, a Long Island Republican.

Senator Mark Grisanti, a first-term Republican from Buffalo, raised $325,000 in the six months after the vote.

Michael McKeon, a 48-year-old California insurance executive who describes his political stance as “just to the left of being far left,” said he had never supported a Republican in his life before hearing Mr. Grisanti’s speech on the Senate floor during the same-sex marriage debate.

“His speech was absolutely compelling, moving,” Mr. McKeon said by telephone from Los Angeles, where he has lived for 30 years after growing up in Lewiston, N.Y. After the same-sex-marriage bill passed, Mr. McKeon returned to Lewiston to marry his partner; while in the state, he met Mr. Grisanti, shook his hand and handed one of his aides a check for $200.

“If Mr. Grisanti were running for president, I’d vote for him, even though he’s Republican” said Mr. McKeon, a volunteer activist for gay rights. “He stood up for us.”

Senator James S. Alesi of East Rochester, the first Republican to say he would support same-sex marriage, had not filed his fund-raising report by Tuesday evening, but said in an interview that he would report having raised $350,000 to $400,000 during the same period. Mr. Alesi said more than half of his new donations came from same-sex marriage supporters.

“I didn’t vote for the money, but it’s gratifying to know that support is there, especially coming into an election year,” he said. “It’s more gratifying to me when someone comes up to me and says, ‘I appreciate your vote’; you can’t put a price on that.”

The senators will need the help. Same-sex marriage opponents have promised to target them when all state lawmakers face re-election in November.

“All the money in the world isn’t going to buy them out of the fact that they’re about to lose an election,” said Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposed the New York law and has said it will spend heavily to oust the four senators.

“People are outraged by what they’ve done, and they are going to be held accountable,” he said.

Wealthy gay rights advocates also gave significant contributions to the Senate Republican leadership, which opposed same-sex marriage, to acknowledge that the conference had allowed the vote to take place. Three prominent Wall Street executives — Paul Singer, Jonathan Pollock and Daniel Loeb — donated $350,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

  • Senator Roy J. McDonald said that people unhappy with his support for same-sex marriage could “take the job and shove it.”- Photo: Nathaniel Brooks

The donations to the individual senators came from a variety of prominent figures in the political, philanthropic, financial and entertainment worlds — from the Hollywood director J. J. Abrams to the producer Stephen Bing, from the billionaire Robert Ziff to a former United States solicitor general, Theodore B. Olson, a Republican who is leading a challenge to a same-sex marriage ban in California.

Many of the same large donors also helped Mr. Cuomo, who will not be on the ballot again until 2014, amass a formidable $14 million campaign treasury, in part from celebrities including Calvin Klein, Don Henley and Rob Reiner, as well as studio executives and business leaders.

Some of the contributions to lawmakers came from friends, associates and supporters of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, a political independent who strongly supported same-sex marriage and who last fall co-hosted a fund-raiser for the four Republicans. Mr. Bloomberg had given $10,000 to each of the four senators in July. This month, shifting his attention to the national stage, he donated $50,000 to Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, an organization set up to fight a proposed repeal of same-sex marriage in that state.

Other contributions came in small amounts from donors across the nation — not a usual source of money for upstate legislative candidates. One Texas woman sent Mr. Saland $5, while a donor in Mississippi sent in $12.

  • Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, a first-term Republican, was one of four Republican state senators to support New York’s same-sex marriage bill last June. – Photo: Brendan Bannon

For many of the donors, the motivation was personal.

“My son is gay and happily planning to marry soon,” said Daryl Roth, a Broadway producer who recently backed a revival of “The Normal Heart,” a drama about the early years of AIDS. Ms. Roth gave the legal maximum, $16,800, to Senators Grisanti, McDonald and Saland, according to state records, as did her husband, the real estate developer Steven Roth.

Randy M. Mastro, who as a deputy mayor during the administration of Rudolph W. Giuliani helped push the city to carry out domestic partner policies, also gave to some of the lawmakers. Mr. Mastro called same-sex marriage “the great civil rights issue of our time,” and his law firm, where Mr. Olson is a partner, is active in several gay rights cases.

“Those Republican senators deserve a lot of credit for what they did,” Mr. Mastro said, adding, “They stood up to tremendous pressure in their own political party, and I wanted in my own small way to thank them.”