New York Senate

  • June 27, 2011

    The year has “seen a remarkable shift” ushering some big victories for the advancement of equality for members of the LGBT community, and some of those victories included tremendous help from Republicans writes UCLA law school professor Adam Winkler.

    In a piece for The Huffington Post, Winkler notes the lawsuit lodged by “an all-star legal team that included Ted Olson, the Republican lawyer who helped George W. Bush” capture the White House in 2000, which led to an opinion by then federal court Judge Vaughn Walker striking California’s anti-gay marriage law known as Proposition 8. The repeal of the military’s noxious “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy was also helped by Republicans, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

    And then, of course, there were the four Republican New York State Senators who joined with Democrats in passing a marriage equality bill this past weekend; a really, really big deal, as blogger Andrew Sullivan noted.

    Winkler continues:

    Of course, no one should give all or even most of the credit for such important developments to the Republican Party, which remains the home of gay rights opponents. Still, many of the changes of the past year would not have been possible had only Democrats supported them. Moreover, for these advances in gay rights to last, they need bipartisan backing. We’re just beginning to see that happen, thanks to a handful of courageous Republicans who see that discrimination against gays and lesbians violates core American values of equality, dignity, and individual liberty.

    The New York Times in two editorials on the historic N.Y. action also said that the four Republicans share credit for the marriage equality bill that passed the state legislature.

    But The Times noted that the Republicans led by State Sen. Stephen Saland “insisted on language that carves out exceptions for religious institutions and not-for-profit corporations affiliated with tax-exempt religious entities to refuse to marry a same-sex couple or to allow the use of their buildings or services for weddings or wedding parties. There was simply no need for these exemptions, since churches are protected under both the federal Constitution and New York law from being required to marry anyone against their beliefs.”

    The Times rightly concluded that those Republican-led exemptions are laden with “discriminatory intent.”

    In its second editorial, The Times blasted President Obama for his difficulty in supporting marriage equality, which may not help with the Right, but could “help him among his cheerless base.”