DOMA/Proposition 8 Resource Kit | March 2013
As the U.S. Supreme prepares to weigh in on cases challenging the so-called “Defense of Marriage” Act (DOMA) and the anti-gay Proposition 8, GLAAD is collaborating with several LGBT and justice advocacy organizations to ensure that these historic proceedings and their meaning for same-sex couples are portrayed accurately by the media. Below is a resource guide to assist media professionals covering DOMA and Proposition 8 during and leading up to the high court’s hearings on March 26 and 27.
A Summary of the Cases
DOMA/United States v. Windsor:
The federal so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" unfairly denies federal protections—like Social Security, veterans’ benefits, health insurance and retirement savings—to committed same-sex couples who are legally married in their own states. When same-sex couples are legally married in a state, it’s wrong for the federal government to discriminate against their marriages and their children. In this specific case, Edith Windsor is suing the federal government after she was forced to pay estate taxes after her married partner, Thea Spyer, passed away. Windsor, like many others, was treated unfairly because of a discriminatory federal law.
Prop 8/Hollingsworth v. Perry:
Proposition 8 was found unconstitutional by the Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the basis it violates our nation’s fundamental concepts of liberty and equal treatment under the law. A law that violates the Constitution – and Americans’ basic freedoms – cannot stand.
Polls Show Majority Support for Marriage Equality
Polls continue to show growing, widespread support for marriage equality in the United States. Most recently, ABC and the Washington Post found 58% of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married, an all-time high.
A poll conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and Voter Consumer Research, and commissioned by the Center for American Progress and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), found that 59 percent of registered voters are against Section 3 of DOMA, which denies equal protections to married same-sex couples.
Another poll conducted by the Respect for Marriage Coalition found that 75 percent of respondents believe marriage equality is a Constitutional right, an increase from 71 percent in 2011. 77 percent of respondents also said they believed marriage equality will be legal nationwide within the next couple of years.
These results build upon years of polling by organizations like Gallup, which have demonstrated a significant shift in attitudes towards marriage for same-sex couples since 1996, with a majority of Americans coming to see that these couples need the same protections as everyone else.
Diversity of Marriage Equality Supporters
The media too often misses the mark by generalizing or mischaracterizing the views of communities of color on marriage equality. Not only are their many people of color who identify as LGBT, but recent polling also shows a majority of African American, Latino, and Asian American voters are against DOMA and supportive of marriage for same-sex couples. A poll by the Center for American Progress and GLAD shows 61% of Latino voters and 65% of African American voters oppose Section 3 of DOMA. In the November 2012 election, national exit polls showed that 52% of Latino and African American voters said they support marriage equality in their states.
States With Marriage Equality
Currently, nine states – Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Washington and Vermont – and Washington, D.C. have enacted marriage equality. In the November 2012 election, Maine, Maryland and Washington made history by becoming the first states to pass a ballot referendum on marriage equality,
Equality For Business
As support among the general population increases, hundreds of companies, corporations and organizations have come out for marriage equality. In 2011, 70 corporations signed onto an amicus brief supporting a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In 2013, a similar amicus brief received the support for more than 200 companies, who have joined the call for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the discriminatory federal law.
Individual businesses have also taken stands over the years in several states where a marriage equality bill was introduced in the legislature or put to a ballot vote.
Faith Leaders Support Marriage for All
Across many denominations, faith leaders have come out in support of marriage equality. A study conducted by GLAAD and the University of Missouri Center on Religion & the Professions called “Missing Voices,” exposed how mainstream media reports often portray an unbalanced view of faith and LGBT equality. In states such as Illinois, Rhode Island, Maryland, Maine, Washington, and many more that have considered or enacted marriage equality, affirming faith leaders have shown their support for all couples. It is important that the media not portray people of faith and faith leaders as only opponents to marriage for all.
Marriage Equality Is A Bipartisan Issue
Marriage equality has seen growing support across political party lines. In a brief organized by former Republican National Convention Chair Ken Mehlman calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down DOMA, more than two dozen Republicans signed their names. A similar brief received signatures from 212 Democratic members of Congress. The Obama Administration has repeatedly shown support for marriage equality, and the U.S. Justice Department has now filed briefs with the Supreme Court against DOMA and the anti-gay Proposition 8, arguing that both of these laws are unconstitutional.
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