Entries in Gay Marriage (72)


Bush on Gay Marriage, Why Obama Kept His Terrorism Policies

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania) -- President George W. Bush cautioned against criticizing gay couples, saying in an exclusive ABC interview that you shouldn’t criticize others “until you’ve examined your own heart.”

Bush had waded into the revitalized gay-marriage debate last week — if only barely — in a comment to a reporter in Zambia, who asked whether gay marriage conflicts with Christian values.

“I shouldn’t be taking a speck out of someone else’s eye when I have a log in my own,” Bush said.

The former president explained his comment to ABC’s Jonathan Karl during their exclusive interview last week in Tanzania.

“I meant it’s very important for people not to be overly critical of someone else until you’ve examined your own heart,” Bush told ABC.

As president, Bush opposed gay marriage, and Republicans pushed ballot measures to ban it at the state level. The topic has seen rejuvenated discussion after the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on gay marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The 43rd president traveled to Africa with former first lady Laura Bush to promote their Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, a program through their foundation to expand care and prevention of cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Last week, the Bushes helped renovate a clinic in Zambia that will serve as a cervical-cancer screening and treatment center.

As president, Bush launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, to address the wide spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Since leaving the White House, he has received warm welcomes on the continent.
“People admire America,” Bush told ABC. “Africans are thrilled with the idea that American taxpayers funded programs that save lives.”

By chance, the Bushes and Obamas crossed paths on their coinciding Africa trips, as President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama spent six days touring the continent to strengthen U.S. ties with sub-Saharan nations. President Obama and President Bush appeared together in Tanzania, but did not speak publicly, at a ceremony commemorating the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy there.

“This is one of his crowning achievements,” Obama said of PEPFAR before their meeting. “Because of the commitment of the Bush administration and the American people, millions of people’s lives have been saved.”

“We just chatted about his trip,” Bush said of their time together, noting that he asked Obama about his daughters. “We didn’t sit around and hash out policy.”

On his ascent to the White House, Obama heavily criticized his predecessor, mostly for the war in Iraq. But Obama has maintained some of his Bush’s national-security policies since taking over — a posture that has earned him criticism from liberal supporters.

Obama has continued the use of overseas drone strikes, and, most recently, the White House and the National Security Agency acknowledged that until 2011, NSA continued collecting email “metadata” records for U.S. citizens. The Bush-launched program continued with Obama’s approval.

Asked why some of his counterterrorism programs have continued under Obama, Bush suggested that Obama realized the gravity of security threats after becoming president.

“I think the president got into the Oval Office and realized the dangers to the United States,” Bush told ABC. “He’s acted in a way that he thinks is necessary to protect the country. Protecting the country’s the most important job of the presidency.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Brian Brown: Same-Sex Marriage Not Inevitable Nationally

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- When asked whether same-sex marriage bans across the country will eventually be struck down following the landmark Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, that he didn’t think that it would be “inevitable.”

Despite this week’s rulings, which declared part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and dismissed an appeal made by supporters of Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California, Brown downplayed the victories claimed by gay marriage supporters, saying that the Court did not establish a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case that considered the California ban passed in 2008.

“The court said, well, the proponents don’t have standing. It did not say that there was a constitutional right to redefine marriage,” Brown said on ABC’s This Week Sunday.

President of the Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin also joined This Week and said he’s prepared to continue to “fight this battle on all fronts,” through referenda, state legislation and federal court cases to expand same-sex marriage rights further.

Brown said the precedent set in California, where state officials refused to defend Proposition 8 — a law passed by popular referendum — is “horrific for our republic.”

“If the governor and attorney general don’t to want defend that law, you’ve just gutted the initiative and referendum process. This is not an American value,” Brown said.

Brown called Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority decision in the DOMA case an “absolute travesty” and “incoherent.”

He added that Justice Kennedy “says something that is patently untrue,” that a person who believes “this truth, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman is somehow motivated by animus and discrimination.”

Such an assumption, Brown said, “leads to discrimination against those of us who know that there’s something unique and special about husbands and wives, mothers and fathers coming together in marriage.”

“There will be a lot of attempts to use this decision to redefine marriage in other states. And we will stand for the truth wherever it is,” Brown said.

Griffin, an advocate of gay marriage whose wins this week prompted congratulatory calls from President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, spoke of the broader status of same-sex marriage across the United States.

“At the same time while we celebrate, we have to acknowledge that there are 37 states in this country that still don’t have equality,” Griffin said.

Asked if he thought gay marriage supporters will win victories to expand same-sex marriage to other states, Griffin said, “I have all expectation that we will.”

Griffin pointed to the history of social movements to predict the outcome of the same-sex marriage debate.

“This country has always moved historically — whether it was women’s rights, or the Civil Rights Movement of the 50′s and 60′s to today — we have always moved to greater inclusion and treating all of our citizens equally under the law,” Griffin said.

“We’re well on our way. We’re not there yet, but we’re well on our way,” he added.

 Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Denies Emergency Stoppage of Gay Marriage

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court denied an emergency motion filed by  sponsors of California's Proposition 8 to stop the same sex weddings that resumed in California shortly after last Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings.

Typically when the high court issues a decision the losing party has 25 days to file a petition for reconsideration before the ruling takes effect. Supporters of Proposition 8 claim the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made a premature move by allowing same sex marriages to go forward on Friday night.

Hundreds of gay couples have been married in California since Friday.

Austin Nimocks, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, filed an emergency motion Saturday asking the Supreme Court to overrule the Appeals Court decision allowing same-sex weddings to begin. He says they still had 22 of 25 days left.

“There's a reason that there's a 25 day window when the Supreme Court rules to allow parties to digest the Supreme Court's opinion and file subsequent applications if necessary. But the 9th Circuit jump started that process, not abiding by the Supreme Court rule or its own representation,” Nimocks said.

Midday Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy rejected the request, meaning gay marriage in the state can continue unimpeded. He made no further comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Repeal of DOMA Affects Puerto Rico

Hemera/Thinkstock(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) -- The Supreme Court's decision to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act also affects Puerto Rico.

The federal government gives 1,138 rights, benefits and protections to married couples, including immigration rights, which are now extended to same-sex couples. Even though same-sex marriage is not legal in Puerto Rico, those who get married in one of the 13 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is recognized will get all federal rights on the island as well.

Local benefits, however, are still not available to these couples. For now.

Renowned activist Pedro Julio Serrano, spokesperson for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says that in just the past four months, the climate has changed tremendously towards gay rights in Puerto Rico. During this time, four state laws have passed protecting the LGBT community. A controversial law banning discrimination because of sexual oriental and gender identity in the workplace was signed into law in May. There was also an extension of domestic violence protections to all households, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Two other laws now include LGBT families in public and private healthcare plans on the island.

As Pedro Julio notes, Latinos are more likely than any other ethnic group to support gay marriage, but there's still a long way to go in terms of unteaching what are essentially cultural norms and assumptions about the LGBT community in Puerto Rico.

 Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Charlie Crist Supports Gay Marriage, Raises Gubernatorial Speculation

Larry Marano/WireImage(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Ex-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was once known for being a staunch Republican, but these days he’s better known for jumping between party lines.

Earlier this week, the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat posted a Facebook update in support of Delaware’s marriage equality legislation.

“Some great news: On Tuesday, Delaware became the 11th state to allow marriage equality. And just a few days ago, Rhode Island adopted a similar measure, which followed victories last fall in Maine, Maryland and Washington. I most certainly support marriage equality in Florida and look forward to the day it happens here,” he wrote.

Despite his support for the issue, Crist’s comments are being met with suspicion rather than applause.

In the span of his extensive political career, Crist spread himself across the full gamut of political parties, confusing the public’s understanding of his true policy alignments.

Crist’s party switching is particularly notable regarding same-sex marriage. In 2006, he opposed same-sex legislation while serving as Florida’s attorney general and even petitioned to add a same-sex ban to the Florida constitution. Six years later, in December 2012, Crist publicly stated his regret for the petition and registered as a Democrat.

“Would I do it today? No,” Crist was quoted as saying in the Miami Herald. “I think the best way to judge where my heart is, is to look at the deeds that I have done...restoration of rights, civil rights cases, things of that nature, that I think show a compassionate heart and hopefully someone who cares and knows who the boss is -- and the boss is the people of Florida.”

Crist’s reflections about his constituents and party affiliation are coming at an interesting time. Now that he is a registered Democrat, Crist is widely believed to be the frontrunner in the 2014 gubernatorial election against Florida’s incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

The change of political heart is not new to Crist. As a Republican, he announced his candidacy for the U.S.  Senate in 2009, and quickly garnered support from a number of conservative heavy-hitters, including the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, John McCain. Crist appeared to fall behind Marco Rubio after supporting the Obama-sponsored Recovery Act, and dropped out of the Republican primary to run as an independent. His campaign was ultimately unsuccessful and Crist returned to the private sector.

Crist will be a keynote speaker at the Democratic-sponsored “Kennedy-King Dinner” this Saturday in Tampa.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sen. Rob Portman's Son Writes About Coming Out

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Two weeks after his Republican senator dad announced his support for gay marriage and one day before the Supreme Court is to hear arguments on the issue, 21 year-old Will Portman penned an editorial in the Yale Daily News describing how he came out as gay.

“In February of freshman year, I decided to write a letter to my parents. I’d tried to come out to them in person over winter break but hadn’t been able to. So I found a cubicle in Bass Library one day and went to work. Once I had something I was satisfied with, I overnighted it to my parents and awaited a response,” Portman writes.

“They called as soon as they got the letter. They were surprised to learn I was gay, and full of questions, but absolutely rock-solid supportive. That was the beginning of the end of feeling ashamed about who I was,” he continued.

In his piece Will Portman discusses the difficulty of coming out about his sexuality as his father was being vetted for the vice presidency. Though he admits that his coming out prompted he and his father to begin talking about the policy issues surrounding marriage for same-sex couples, Portman writes that he did not want his sexual orientation to become an issue during the presidential campaign.

“My dad told the Romney campaign that I was gay, that he and my mom were supportive and proud of their son, and that we’d be open about it on the campaign trail,” he wrote.

Portman continues, “When he ultimately wasn’t chosen for the ticket, I was pretty relieved to have avoided the spotlight of a presidential campaign. Some people have criticized my dad for waiting for two years after I came out to him before he endorsed marriage for gay couples. Part of the reason for that is that it took time for him to think through the issue more deeply after the impetus of my coming out. But another factor was my reluctance to make my personal life public.”

That “rock-solid support” that Will attributes to his father was made evident earlier this month when Sen. Portman publically reversed his opposition to gay marriage.

“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” Portman wrote in an op-ed that ran in the Columbus Dispatch.

Portman came out in support of gay marriage at a crucial time. This week the Supreme Court will hear arguments on Proposition 8 and DOMA, two potentially transformative cases regarding the very issue that Portman’s son had been urging the senator to consider since he came out during his freshman year of college.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama's 'Evolution' on Gay Marriage

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court will hear arguments in two landmark cases on same-sex marriage this week, nearly 11 months after President Obama first announced his support of marriage for same-sex couples, a decision he reached as part of an "evolution" over the years.

In an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts in May, President Obama stated his personal support for same-sex marriage, becoming the first president to back marriage publicly for gay and lesbian couples.

"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," Obama told Roberts in May of 2012.

While voicing his support at the time, the president said that he had no intention to "nationalize" the issue and hoped it would be left up to the states.

"I have to tell you that part of my hesitation on this has also been I didn't want to nationalize the issue," he told Roberts. "There's a tendency when I weigh in to think suddenly it becomes political and it becomes polarized. What I'm saying is that different states are coming to different conclusions. But this debate is taking place, at a local level. And I think the whole country is evolving and changing."

But less than a year later, the Supreme Court is taking up two potentially transformative cases on the issue of gay marriage at a time when public support for same-sex marriages has jumped. An ABC News-Washington Post poll released last week found that 58 percent of Americans support legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples, and in the past month, two heavy hitters in politics -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio -- announced their support of same-sex marriage.

In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos earlier this month, the president said he hopes the Supreme Court will grant same-sex couples the right to marry. When asked whether he could think of a compelling reason for states to bar same-sex marriage, he said "I can't, personally. I cannot."

"Ultimately, I think that same-sex couples should be able to marry. That's my personal position," Obama told Stephanopoulos. "My hope is that -- the court looks at the evidence and -- and in the California case, for example, the only reason presented for treating gays and lesbians differently was, 'Well, they're gay and lesbian.' There wasn't a real rationale beyond that. In fact, all the other rights ... responsibilities of a civil union were identical to marriage.

"It's just you couldn't call it marriage. Well, at that point, what you're really saying is, 'We're just going to treat these folks differently because of who they are.' And I do not think ... that's who we are as Americans. And ... frankly, I think, American attitudes have evolved, just like mine have, pretty substantially and fairly quickly, and I think that's a good thing."

The Supreme Court Tuesday will consider Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. The court will hear arguments Wednesday on a federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which issues the same definition of marriage as Prop 8 but also denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in their states.

In February 2011, the Justice Department said it would continue to enforce DOMA, but it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the law.

The Obama administration waded into the Proposition 8 fight for the first time last month when the Justice Department filed a legal brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down the California measure which bars same-sex marriage. While the president himself did not issue a written argument for the legal brief, he suggested to reporters earlier this month that his interpretation of the Constitution provides a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

In 1996, Obama, then an Illinois state senate candidate, seemed to back marriages for same-sex couples when he signed a statement in response to a questionnaire that read "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages." The statement was later publicly disavowed by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, who claimed in June 2011 that the questionnaire was "actually filled out by someone else."

But when Obama ran for Senate in 2004, he provided a definition of marriage that adhered more to the classifications provided by Prop 8 and DOMA, citing his faith as guiding his position on same-sex marriage at the time.

"What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman," then-U.S. Senate candidate Obama said in an interview with WTTW Chicago public television. "What I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God, and it's not simply the two persons who are meeting.

"That doesn't mean that that necessarily translates into a position on public policy or with respect to civil unions. What it does mean is that we have a set of traditions in place that, I think, need to be preserved, but I also think we need to make sure that gays and lesbians have the same set of basic rights that are in place," he said.

But, as president, Obama, who supported civil unions for gay couples for the better part of his first term, admitted he was "evolving" on the issue at a time when public opinion had started to shift toward a greater acceptance of same-sex marriage.

"My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this. At this point, what I've said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have," Obama said in a White House news conference in 2010. "I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think is something that we're going to continue to debate and I, personally, am going to continue to wrestle with going forward.

"I think it's important for us to work through these issues because each community is going to be different, each state is going to be different," Obama said 2011 in response to a question about New York legalizing same-sex marriage. "I think what you're seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers, and that they've got to be treated like every other American.

"And I think that principle will win out. It's not going to be perfectly smooth, and it turns out that the president -- I've discovered since I've been in this office -- can't dictate precisely how this process moves."

Seven months before he publicly supported same-sex marriage, Obama told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that he was "still working on" considering a move from supporting civil unions for same-sex couples to backing same-sex marriage.

"I'm still working on it," Obama said in 2011. "I probably won't make news right now, George. But I think that there's no doubt that as I see friends, families, children of gay couples who are thriving, you know, that has an impact on how I think about these issues."

The president cited those same friends and families when he publicly announced his support for gay marriage last year, telling Roberts that he believes people will become more comfortable with the idea in the years to come.

"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, 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," Obama said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court to Hear Arguments Regarding Gay Marriage this Week

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments from both sides of the same sex marriage debate this week.

At issue are California's Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Both prohibit same sex marriage, but public opinion seems to increasingly be in favor of gay marriage.

The big question is whether the Court will rule such bans unconstitutional nationwide or if it will leave the issue up to individual states to decide. Opponents of same sex marriage are against the issue being resolved in such a top-down manner by the courts rather than through elections, but most experts seem to think that the Court likely won’t go that far in its ruling.

“They see the wave developing in support of gay marriage. We've seen that develop now majority support in the country. It's moving very, very quickly,” said ABC Chief Political Correspondent George Stephanopoulos.

“They're not gonna wanna risk looking anachronistic …What they're likely to do is create the space for states to make their own decisions.”

California State Attorney General Kamila Harris believes that same sex marriage is about equality. “The majority of Americans believe it, the majority of Californians believe it, the majority of Catholics in this country believe it,” Harris said on CNN's State of the Union.

Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defending Freedom disagrees with Harris’s assessment.

“We're talking about Californians going to the ballot box twice in a nine year period and voting to uphold marriage between one man and one woman,” he said on State of the Union. “That's our most fundamental right in this country is the right to vote and the right to participate in the political process.

The proponents of same sex marriage note that protecting the rights of minorities has traditionally been done by the courts rather through elections.

Evan Wolfson, President of the advocacy organization Freedom to Marry compared the current marriage debate to another similar case in the 1960's during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation.  

“The Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and 70 percent of the American people at that time were against inter-racial marriage. Fortunately, in America we don't put everything up to a vote.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Karl Rove: ‘I Could’ Imagine Next GOP Presidential Nominee Supporting Gay Marriage

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Fox News contributor and former Bush deputy chief of staff Karl Rove said Sunday morning on This Week that he can imagine the next Republican nominee for the White House supporting gay marriage.

“I could,” Rove said on the This Week roundtable.

Rove’s comments came days after Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, whom Mitt Romney considered as a running mate in the 2012 election, announced that he had shifted his position and supported gay marriage. The vast majority of Republicans in Congress do not support same-sex marriage. Portman is the only sitting senator in the GOP to support same-sex marriage.

The Powerhouse Roundtable also addressed gun violence-prevention measures now being discussed in Congress. Rove said that universal background checks would not have stopped the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that left 20 children dead in December.

“Let’s be clear about this, this was prompted by the Sandy Hook murders.  Those guns were legally purchased with a background check,” Rove said. “This would not have solved something like that.  Let’s be very careful about quickly trampling on the rights of people.”

Former Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina pushed back, arguing the importance of background checks.

“Look, 40 percent of all gun sales currently don’t go through background checks.  The background checks have stopped two million people from getting guns they shouldn’t get,” Messina said. “But we know there are loopholes all over the place. And Karl, just saying no, which is what the NRA and your party is doing right now, isn’t moving us forward.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Pelosi, Boehner Wrestle Over Shift in Gay Marriage Support

Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg(WASHINGTON) -- With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments on same-sex marriage next week, two more prominent lawmakers took time to express their unwavering views on the issue.

When asked about his defense of the Defense of Marriage Act given that public opinion has shifted to support marriage equality, House Speaker John Boehner said that while his personal belief is that marriage should strictly be between a man and woman, it should be up to the justices to decide whether the act should be upheld as constitutional.

“In our system of government, the administration doesn’t get to decide what’s constitutional. The Supreme Court does,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Our financing the lawsuit was to make sure that the proper forum was used to make sure that we know what’s constitutional and what isn’t.”

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll,  indicates that the shift in public support for gay marriage is at an all-time high, with 58 percent of Americans now supporting marriage equality.  Just 36 percent of those polled believe same-sex marriage should be illegal.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments against the Defense of Marriage Act as well as California’s Proposition 8 when it convenes next week.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a Capitol news conference today that gay marriage was an issue “near and dear” to her heart and that she predicted the law would be ruled unconstitutional.

Asked about a bill that is moving through the Democratic-controlled New Jersey state legislature that aims to ban gay conversion therapy, a controversial practice in some states where homosexual minors are counseled to believe they are straight, Pelosi discounted the effectiveness of the treatment.

“I believe in science, and I believe in evidence, and I don’t think there’s any scientific evidence that says that we should have such a public policy that tries to do what you describe,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “But I do know it’s disrespectful and discriminatory, and therefore I would oppose the conversion therapy and support the bill, as we have in California.” Though a bill to ban gay conversion therapy was passed in California late last year, it has currently been placed on hold by a federal appeals court and awaits further action.

In contrast to Boehner, fellow Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, in an op-ed last week, became the second-sitting GOP senator to endorse gay marriage.

While the topic has taken on new life on Capitol Hill in the wake of Portman’s reversal, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, also came out in support of gay marriage in an ad for the Human Rights Campaign earlier this week.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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