First, check out this video from the NYT.
Here is a great Times editorial on the significance of marriage equality for all of the kids (or adults) with two moms or two dads.
And, finally, more heart-warming images of the first day.
I think it’s fair to say that these hilariously effective signs will happily migrate next door to New Jersey, where the fight for marriage equality is gaining tremendous momentum courtesy of this Lambda Legal suit filed on behalf of several couples who can compellingly demonstrate the inadequacy of civil unions.
In other news, President Obama officially endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, which would essentially repeal and replace the much-maligned Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). We have a really long way to go before this bill gets passed, but Obama’s endorsement is certainly a nice symbolic gesture (and unsurprising, given the DOJ’s refusal to defend DOMA).
The MUCH more significant event of the last few weeks, however, occurred on July 1, when the Department of Justice filed a brief in support of a plaintiff in California who is suing the government for equal access to health benefits for her wife. Many legal scholars have asserted that the brief represents a watershed moment in the advancement of GLBT civil rights. Here is an explanation from Metro Weekly:
The brief, filed in the Northern District of California, is the single-most persuasive legal argument ever advanced by the United States government in support of equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Moreover, although the case did not include transgender issues, the government's previously described position that the same legal standard should apply to gender identity classifications could prove helpful for court cases looking at gender identity-based discrimination.
Some sentences in the brief will become staples of every filing in every lawsuit attempting to advance sexual orientation nondiscrimination, most notably when the Justice Department acknowledged, "The federal government has played a significant and regrettable role in the history of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals." The Justice Department goes on to spend two pages detailing the specifics of that discrimination, including efforts by the State Department, FBI and U.S. Postal Service to seek out or track those who were thought to be gay.
This admission is an essential part of lawyers' arguments before courts when they are arguing why ''heightened scrutiny'' should be applied under the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause to laws that classify people based on sexual orientation. To have an admission from the Department of Justice that the government did so is significant because lawyers can now go into court and say, "Not only do we think this, but so does the federal government – and they admit that they have been part of the problem."
What's more, Justice took a hard line against state and local discrimination, citing more than 20 different instances of state or local discriminatory practices – from laws and judicial opinions making adoption and teaching more difficult or impossible for gay and lesbian people, to police raids of gay bars, including notations of raids over the past years in Atlanta and Fort Worth, Texas.One last piece of news to report: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which continues to linger despite congressional repeal and multiple judicial assertions to its unconstitutionality, will face another step in its demise on September 20th. President Obama certified the repeal last week after Pentagon officials announced that the military is braced for ... wait ... what are they bracing for again? Anyway, the implementation of the repeal will be, according to American Progress, torturously bureaucratic.