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DOMA Case Analysis And Arguments: A Lesbian Love-In Small Screen Celluloid Moment

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It was lesbian heaven on the small screen celluloid world last night when Rachel Maddow kicked off her show with a loving treatise to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a segment filled with and defined by  powerful women  who have changed our world for the better

Yesterday’s Defense of  Marriage Act (DOMA) arguments in United States v. Windsor were followed by a lovely lesbian evening which was kicked off by Rachel Maddow herself, at the top of her broadcast as she delivered an adoring ode to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, arguably the most incisive jurist at the Supreme Court during the Windsor arguments.

Indeed, Maddow was completely captivated by Ginsburg’s reference to same-sex marriages as “skim milk,” not “full,” or whole,  like heterosexual marriages, which benefit from approximately 1,100 different statutes, although effectively denied to gay couples by DOMA.  Her show plastered “Skim-Milk Marriage” at the bottom of the screen continuously throughout the DOMA segment.

I knew that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would love Windsor, because of its intricacies of benefits and taxes and because of the blatant discrimination; and while a reverse would be hugely significant, it could be decided with a jurisdictional state’s rights argument, or maybe on the constitutional merits. We all hope for the latter.

But of course  Maddow played tape from the arguments, and who could have not been inspired by the arguments posed by the charismatic litigator Roberta Kaplan, who fought brilliantly for Edie Windsor’s claims (the ACLU filed the lawsuit against the government on behalf of Windsor).

Let me just admit to The New Civil Rights Movement readers that I am in love with Kaplan’s rigorous and brave defense of Windsor and her tete de tete with Chief Justice Roberts which ends the argument on behalf of Windsor:

Roberta A. Kaplan: The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chief Justice, is that no other group in recent history has been subjected to popular referenda to take away rights that have already been given or exclude those rights, the way gay people have.

And only two of those referenda have ever lost.

One was in Arizona; it then passed a couple years later.

One was in Minnesota where they already have a statute on the books that prohibits marriages between gay people.

So I don’t think — and until 1990 gay people were not allowed to enter this country.

So I don’t think that the political power of gay people today could possibly be seen within that framework, and certainly is analogous — I think gay people are far weaker than the women were at the time of Frontiero.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Well, but you just referred to a sea change in people’s understandings and values from 1996, when DOMA was enacted, and I’m just trying to see where that comes from, if not from the political effectiveness of — of groups on your side of the case.

Roberta A. Kaplan: To flip the language of the House Report, Mr. Chief Justice, I think it comes from a moral understanding today that gay people are no different, and that gay married couples’ relationships are not significantly different from the relationships of straight married couples.

I don’t think–

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: I understand that.

I am just trying to see how — where that that moral understanding came from, if not the political effectiveness of a particular group.

Roberta A. Kaplan: –I — I think it came — is, again is very similar to the, what you saw between Bowers and Lawrence.

I think it came to a societal understanding.

I don’t believe that societal understanding came strictly through political power; and I don’t think that gay people today have political power as that — this Court has used that term with — in connection with the heightened scrutiny analysis.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Thank you, Ms. Kaplan.

In straining to listen to Kaplan’s articulation and prevented from watching, I got in touch with my ‘inner lesbian’. I was wowed by her. Not able to watch her, I hung onto to every word, imagining her before the Chief Justice, hammering on the reality of our lives and the suffering as a result of this terrible law.

But the chief lesbian on this night is Maddow, who is not done with her examination of DOMA yet, before she interviews none other than Mary Bonauto, an attorney (and lesbian) and GLAD‘s director of the civil rights project  who made history in America when she successfully argued in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that civil unions were not constitutional, laying the legal groundwork for the DOMA challenge at the US Supreme Court.

So now we have two open lesbians talking to each other on the small celluloid screen of a major network, which I believe is unprecedented.  This just does not happen everyday, or on any day…and I was just loving it.  It was wonderful. I feel like I had died and arrived to  lesbian celluloid heaven for a women’s only party.

I freely admit that I am taken with all these powerful women.  And because it happens so infrequently, when we see just one lesbian on television, as in Rachel Maddow, we rightly celebrate.  And now there was two.  I just wanted to jump up and down and cheer on all these lesbians, who are powerful women in the ways that attracts all of us to one another!

 

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But the two lesbians that matter the most right now are Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, who loved each other for 42 years and were married in Canada the last year before Thea died.  In Thea’s death, Edie was hit with a whopping $360,000 tax penalty on property inheritance because their marriage was not recognized by the IRS due to DOMA’s prohibitions. Edie chose to fight and it is because of her love for Thea and her compunction to fight back–that the oppressive walls of DOMA  may just come tumbling down in June.  All because of these two lovely lesbians. Who could not love and adore Edie Windsor?

So let me leave you with one more brilliant lesbian that people should follow, as we await the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions: Georgetown Law Professor Nan Hunter and the author of the engaging “Hunter of Justice blog  where she has analyzed the Prop 8 and DOMA cases (among many other issues).  Follow her regularly because of her trenchant legal analysis and know this about her as well:  Hunter has been a ground-breaking advocate for women and LGBT people throughout her storied and dedicated career of service to our community.

DomiheadshotTanya L. Domi is the Deputy Editor of the New Civil Rights Movement. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and teaches human rights in East Central Europe and former Yugoslavia. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights and gender issues. She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL. Domi is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.

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Biden Channels Lincoln in Address on Trump Assassination Attempt: ‘We Are Not Enemies’

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Echoing President Abraham Lincoln‘s first inaugural address, President Joe Biden in a rare primetime Oval Office address Sunday night told Americans “we are not enemies,” as he urged the nation to tone down political rhetoric in the wake of the assassination attempt of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by a 20-year old registered Republican at an outdoor Trump rally in Pennsylvania one day earlier.

It was the third time in 24-hours President Biden spoke to Americans via a televised address about the shooting in which Trump’s ear was nicked, some reports say from shards of glass from his teleprompter, while the ex-president claimed it was from a bullet. The eight bullets from the gunman’s legally-purchased AR-15 rifle killed a 50-year old former volunteer fire chief who shielded his daughters with his body, and wounded two others.

“While we may disagree, we are not enemies. We’re neighbors, we’re friends, coworkers, citizens. And most importantly, we are fellow Americans. We must stand together,” President Biden reminded the nation, as he announced “the need to lower the temperature in our politics.”

Biden said the “shooting calls on all of us to take a step back.” Earlier, on Sunday afternoon in his nationally-televised remarks the President said, “We must unite as one nation. We must unite as one nation to demonstrate who we are.”

READ MORE: ‘Supposed to Be Hard’: Political Experts Explain Their Thinking on Biden and the Election

In denouncing political violence, President Biden cited some of the most critical recent examples in America.

“We can not, we must not, go down this road in America. We’ve traveled it before throughout our history,” the President warned. “Violence has never been the answer, whether it was with members of congress of both parties being targeted and shot, or a violent mob attacking the capitol on January 6th, or the brutal attack on the spouse of the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, or information or intimidation on election officials, or the kidnapping plot against the sitting governor, or the attempted assassination on Donald Trump, there’s no place in America for this kind of violence, for any violence, ever. Period. No exceptions. We cannot allow this violence to be normalized,” Biden said resolutely.

“In America, we resolve our differences at the ballot box, that’s how we do it, at the ballot box, not with bullets,” the President also declared, as some on the right, including far-right wing websites, quickly mocked and attacked him for his speech impediment, claiming he had said, “battle box.”

Pointing to Biden’s “desire to protect democracy,” NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander Sunday night reminded that the deadly 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville was “really the motivating factor” for his decision to run for President in 2020.

Indeed, Biden has a strong record of fighting against political violence and hate. On Sunday he declared that in America, “hate must have no safe harbor,” which echoed his 2023 State of the Union Address in which he said: “There’s no place for political violence in America,” and, “We must give hate and extremism in any form no safe harbor.”

“Democracy must not be a partisan issue, it’s an American issue. Every generation of Americans has faced a moment where they have been called to protect our democracy Defend it, stand up for it. And this is our moment,” Biden had also said.

Former South Carolina Democratic Congressman Bakari Sellers judged Biden’s six-minute Sunday evening speech to be “pitch perfect. Great sharp message, tone, and leadership.”

READ MORE: Critics: Where’s Trump’s Hour-Long Press Conference With Policy Questions from Reporters?

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin called Biden’s remarks “eloquent and sobering.”

“Biden speech was eloquent and sobering. It is the time for experienced, reassuring and mature leadership. We need to be called to follow the better angels of our nature not the darkest impulses. There is nothing more important.”

“Just watched Joe Biden’s speech. He just won the election,” announced SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah.

“President Biden used the pulpit well tonight. He did what a president should do: seek to calm the country, seek to calm each of us,” declared award-winning journalist Maria Shriver.

This is an excellent speech,” rhetoric scholar and professor of communications Jennifer Mercieca wrote. “Biden is good at what scholars call the ‘priestly role of the president,’ which is when the president is called upon to speak to a nation in crisis and remind us of our values and explain why our American values will see us through hard times.”

Even Fox News’ chief political analyst Brit Hume praised President Biden’s speech Sunday night declaring his “message was just right,” as Mediate reported.

Watch clips from the President’s remarks and his full address above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

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‘Supposed to Be Hard’: Political Experts Explain Their Thinking on Biden and the Election

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Two weeks after the political class’s response to President Joe Biden’s poor debate performance threw the 2024 election into chaos, four political experts share their thinking about where the race actually stands and what Biden’s supporters should do.

“He can’t win right!? They point to the polling right?” wrote political strategist and pollster Cornell Belcher, a frequent NBC News/MSNBC political analyst, linking to a report about the latest polls which show President Biden ahead of Donald Trump. “Well this is the 2nd poll (credible poll) in 2 days showing the Pres race in statistical deadlock two weeks after debate! Using polls to push Biden out feels like red wave 2020 bs all over again.”

Belcher was commenting on the latest Marist College poll produced for NPR/PBS NewsHour. It found Biden beating Trump 50-48 in a one-to-one matchup. When factoring in the four third-party/independent candidates including RFK Jr., Trump came out ahead of Biden, 43-42.

FiveThirtyEight’s regularly updated polling aggregator currently shows Trump up over Biden by 1.9 points, a drop from Thursday where he was more than two points over Biden. FiveThirtyEight also currently shows; “Biden wins 50 times out of 100 in our simulations of the 2024 presidential election. Trump wins 49 times out of 100.”

READ MORE: Critics: Where’s Trump’s Hour-Long Press Conference With Policy Questions from Reporters?

Former Republican and former GOP communications director Tara Setmayer, a resident scholar at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, says the Democratic “freak out needs to stop.”

“Enough.”

Pointing to that same Marist poll, she focuses on a different question.

“This poll also shows character matters more than age. That’s to Biden’s advantage.”

NPR’s headline on its article detailing the poll reads: “After Biden’s debate performance, the presidential race is unchanged.”

“Biden actually gained a point since last month’s survey, which was taken before the debate,” NPR reports, adding: “the survey also found that by a 2-to-1 margin, 68% to 32%, people said it’s more concerning to have a president who doesn’t tell the truth than one who might be too old to serve.”

READ MORE: ‘No Change’: Biden Debate Performance Has Had ‘Almost No Impact’ on 2024 Race Report Finds

To Setmayer’s point, NPR also says, “A majority said Biden has the character to be president (52%), while a majority also said Trump does not (56%).”

Mike Madrid, the Latino GOP political consultant and Lincoln Project co-founder, offered advice to Biden supporters on how to think about Democrats and pundits pushing for the President to drop out of the race, and how to deal with the day-to-day emotional toll.

“Getting lots of questions on how to lower the anxiety level people are feeling. Best thing you can do is unfollow the people attacking Biden gratuitously. Don’t engage them. Unfollow them. It’s not an honest discussion. It’s a frenzy that’s doing real damage.”

“You will not get an explanation from the political arsonists fueling this panic,” he added. “Stop looking for one. Unfollow them. Drop your subscription. Quit listening. That’s the best thing you can do in the pro-democracy fight right now. Their gaslighting is now a suppression tactic.”

To someone who said they are “scared,” and the situation is “confusing, maddening and sad,” Madrid advised: “Nothing has changed. Stop watching TV and get off Twitter. Take the weekend off. Please.”

The Lincoln Project’s Stuart Stevens, a political strategist for decades and author of “The Conspiracy To End America,” writes: “I worked in campaigns for 30 years. I am hardwired to respond one way when your guy is in trouble: fight harder. Don’t start looking for exit ramps or magic bullets. Play the next play. Do your job. Ignore the scoreboard. It’s supposed to be hard.”

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

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RFK Jr. Apology Over Sexual Assault Allegation ‘Disingenuous’ – Unsure if More to Come

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent candidate running for president, has apologized to the woman who accused him of sexual assault, and separately told reporters he does not know if there are more potential accusers.

The 70-year old anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist who has said a worm ate a portion of his brain, has not denied allegations of sexual misconduct. A recent Vanity Fair profile reports that in 1998, Eliza Cooney, 23-years old at the time and working as a part-time baby sitter for RFK Jr. and his wife’s children, felt his “hand moving up and down her leg under the table” during “a meeting in the family kitchen.”

There are other allegations in the Vanity Fair profile that include Kennedy being shirtless in Cooney’s bedroom and asking her to rub lotion on his back, which she said was “totally inappropriate.”

And this: “A few months later, Cooney says, she was rifling through the kitchen pantry for lunch after a yoga class, still in her sports bra and leggings, when Kennedy came up behind her, blocked her inside the room, and began groping her, putting his hands on her hips and sliding them up along her rib cage and breasts. ‘My back was to the door of the pantry, and he came up behind me,’ she says, describing the alleged sexual assault. ‘I was frozen. Shocked.’ ”

RELATED: ‘What in the F’: RFK Jr. in Photo With Alleged ‘Barbecued’ Dog Carcass Disgusts Critics

The Washington Post Friday morning reported RFK Jr. “privately apologized to a woman who accused him of sexual assault, saying he does not remember the alleged incident and that any harm he caused was ‘inadvertent.’ ”

“’I have no memory of this incident but I apologize sincerely for anything I ever did that made you feel uncomfortable or anything I did or said that offended you or hurt your feelings,’ Kennedy wrote in a text message to Cooney sent at 12:33 a.m. on July 4, two days after her accusations became public. ‘I never intended you any harm. If I hurt you, it was inadvertent. I feel badly for doing so.’ ”

Cooney told The Post that Kennedy’s texted message was “disingenuous and arrogant.”

“I’m not sure how somebody has a true apology for something that they don’t admit to recalling. I did not get a sense of remorse.”

READ MORE: Critics: Where’s Trump’s Hour-Long Press Conference With Policy Questions from Reporters?

Also on Friday, hidden in the middle of a Boston Globe soft profile of the presidential candidate whose support has reportedly now hit ten percent – possibly enough to change the outcome of the election – is Kennedy’s apparent acknowledgment there could be more allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Asked if other women might come forward with similar allegations he said, ‘I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.’ ”

The Globe notes Kennedy “is currently on the ballot in nine states, and submitted enough signatures to eventually get on the ballot in 15 states. There are five other states where the campaign claims to have enough signatures but hasn’t turned in them in yet, in some cases because the window to do so hasn’t opened.”

FiveThirtyEight reports there is a 58% chance the election “is decided by a smaller margin than the vote share for third-party candidates,” meaning Kennedy, who has the largest portion of third party votes, may have the potential to change the election outcome.

In a parenthetical addition, Vanity Fair updated its report, writing: “After this story was published, Kennedy told the Breaking Points podcast, in response to Cooney’s allegations, that he is ‘not a church boy… I have so many skeletons in my closet.’ When pressed to respond directly to her claims, he told the anchor, ‘I’m not going to comment on it.’ ”

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

 

 

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