Friday, July 15, 2011

Fighting on Every Front for DOMA's Demise

Our efforts to dismantle DOMA have been keeping us very busy here at GLAD headquarters this week. Our DOMA legal team – Mary Bonauto, Gary Buseck, Ashley Dunn, Vickie Henry, and Janson Wu – was locked away preparing our motion for summary judgment in our Pedersen lawsuit. We let them out to eat lunch, but that’s about it.

Meanwhile, the public affairs team was doing its part to ensure that the upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), Sen. Diane Feinstein’s bill to repeal DOMA, successfully demonstrates to committee members, Congress and the public just how much DOMA hurts married same-sex couples and widows or widowers.

The hearing is on July 20 in Washington, D.C. and we were proud to help Connecticut’s Sen. Richard Blumenthal, an RMA cosponsor, identify a constituent to testify about the injustice he’s suffered under DOMA – one Mr. Andrew Sorbo, a retired teacher from Cheshire who lost his husband and partner of 30 years, Colin Atterbury, to pancreatic cancer only to learn that his household income would be reduced by 80 percent because of DOMA. We profiled Andrew for our online DOMA Story Book project and his story is both moving and maddening. It can’t help but impact Judiciary Committee members.

Speaking of our DOMA Story Book project, we also compiled 20 of them into a soft-cover book that will be distributed to each of the Judiciary Committee members. Hot off the presses, a copy of “DOMA Stories: How Federal Marriage Discrimination Hurts American Families” just landed on my desk. Despite its compact size, it really packs a punch.

It’s hard not to be moved by the stories of couples like Tom Casey Hopkins and Darrel Hopkins, a Vietnam veteran who simply wants the same spousal benefits for his husband that other married vets enjoy, or Judy Paiva and Sandy Ansell, who live under a cloud of uncertainty and anxiety, because DOMA prevents Judy from sponsoring her spouse Sandy, a native of Canada, for U.S. citizenship.

Though I’ve read all of these stories plenty of times before, there is something very powerful about seeing and reading them in this book form, perhaps because it makes the evidence of DOMA’s many injustices completely undeniable. We’re proud of this publication and we’re grateful to the many, many couples who have generously shared their stories with us. It’s because of folks like them that we’re fighting on every front for DOMA’s demise.

And in addition to wrapping up their motion, a couple of our DOMA team lawyers are assisting our partners at Freedom to Marry with legal analysis and crafting testimony. And while GLAD won’t be testifying at the hearing due to our pending DOMA lawsuits, Mary Bonauto will be attending the hearing next Wednesday to offer moral and technical support to the folks testifying in favor of the RMA.

Be it in the in the legislature, the public square, or in the courts, we won’t rest until DOMA is gone.

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