What Do The Gays Want?
Not all the members of the House LGBT Equality Caucus are gay, of course. Nor are all the gay members of Congress part of the Caucus. Closeted gays like Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Aaron Shock (R-IL) and David Dreier (R-CA) won't have anything to do with it. But yesterday Caucus members Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), and John Conyers (D-MI) applauded the Supreme Court’s grant of review in United States of America v. Edith Schlain Windsor, a landmark case challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies federal responsibility and rights-- including Social Security benefits, equal tax treatment, and federal health care coverage-- to same-sex couples who are lawfully married under the laws of their states. The Supreme Court must have decided to get all the gay stuff out of the way in one fell swoop, because they also took on Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that overturned marriage equality in that state and was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals. This is the statement released by the 6 congressmembers:
We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to review DOMA and ensure that Congress affords all families equal treatment under the law. Congress failed this fundamental obligation when it hastily passed DOMA in 1996 and foreclosed federal recognition for married same-sex couples before gay men or lesbians could marry anywhere in the world. We have long argued that no legitimate federal interest is served by depriving loving, committed same-sex couples the same security that we provide others. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will affirm the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that DOMA is unconstitutional and must be struck down.Legal observers expect the Court will hear Arguments in March and hand down the two rulings in June. But, guess what-- the fate of gay marriage isn't the only issue animating gay activists. In fact, as Jonathan Capehart posted Thursday in the Washington Post, some of the country's most prominent-- and wealthiest-- LGBT activists have jumped into the fight over the Grand Bargain Obama and Boehner have been cooking up. 25 very high profile gays and lesbians sent a letter to Boehner, Pelosi, Reid and Miss McConnell emphasizing the negative economic impact going over the fiscal cliff would have on LGBT households and urging them to “work with President Obama to avoid the fiscal cliff with a balanced approach, and to preserve the middle class tax cuts while allowing tax cuts for millionaires like us expire.” Here's the letter the job creators sent the congressional leaders:
We are successful LGBT Americans who now or in the past have earned an annual income of $1,000,000 or more.One of the signers, David Bohnett, is familiar to anyone who listens to KCRW in L.A. I don't know if he's ever been on any of the shows but his foundation underwrites so many of them that the "David Bohnett Foundation" is part of everyone's subconscious. The founder of GeoCities, long before there was either a MySpace or Facebook, is one of the wealthiest public gay figures in Los Angeles and has contributed over $375,000 to Democratic candidates and Democratic organizations over the last couple of election cycles. His foundation's mission statement says that he and the foundation "are committed to improving society through social activism. We pursue our mission by providing funding, state-of-the-art technology and technical support to innovative organizations and institutions that, in addition to meeting our funding guidelines, share our vision." Yesterday he told me why he got involved with this letter to the congressional leaders:
America has been good to us: it has provided the foundation and opportunity to succeed. We want that same opportunity and possibility for all Americans, but we are concerned about the future of our community and our country.
At the end of this year, a series of deadlines will require our leaders to make important decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy-- and on the LGBT community. If Congress fails to act, across-the-board cuts to vital programs will be triggered even as taxes go up on the middle class.
For LGBT Americans, this “fiscal cliff” isn’t just an abstract concept. A report released by the Center for American Progress, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and a coalition of 23 national LGBT organizations outlines the real and lasting impact it would have.
Across-the-board cuts would compromise LGBT health by reducing programmatic funding used to address the health care needs of gay and transgender Americans, impair the federal government’s ability to investigate claims of workplace discrimination, and remove critical resources from government agencies working to prevent bullying and school violence.
At the same time, higher tax rates would further endanger middle class and working class members of our community. LGBT Americans have lower levels of income than other Americans, according to a recent Gallup report, and face additional economic obstacles caused by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the lack of federal workplace protections.
In the recent election, many of us contributed significantly to re-elect the President, and we support the President’s vision of a country in which everyone has a fair shot and does his or her fair share.
We urge Congress to work with President Obama to avoid the fiscal cliff with a balanced approach, and to preserve the middle class tax cuts while allowing tax cuts for the best off to expire. It’s the right thing to do.
The Honorable Bruce W. Bastian
Karen K. Dixon & Nan Schaffer
Dale Frederiksen & Bob Page
Nanette Gartrell, MD & Dee (Diane) Mosbacher MD, PhD
Glenn Johnson & Michael Melancon
Suze Orman & Kathy Travis
"Our country's infrastructure is falling apart, funding for education is in shambles, we have abandoned public support for the cultural arts, I and many others like me are prepared to pay higher taxes in order to benefit society as a whole. The Republican party will continue to 'self-deport' in relevance with its intransigent stance on holding down taxes. It's time to take a stand and rise up for the good of our beloved America."