After Long Delay, Senate GOP Finally Agrees to Confirmation Votes on Connecticut and Maryland Judicial Nominees

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid overcame Republican roadblocks to schedule confirmation votes on two highly qualified district court nominees from Connecticut and Maryland. Michael P. Shea of Connecticut has been a partner of a law firm with extensive experience in a range of civil and criminal cases, and Paul William Grimm of Maryland has served as the Chief United States Magistrate Judge for Maryland for six years. Both nominees have outstanding credentials, were approved by the Judiciary Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, and both have the support of their home state senators. Nevertheless, for no reason other than a desire to obstruct Senate business, Republicans have blocked efforts to allow confirmation votes. Shea has been waiting seven months for a vote from the full Senate and Grimm has been waiting for five months. These will be the first votes on judicial nominees since September.

“We are pleased that these two exceedingly qualified nominees will finally receive their confirmation votes,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “It’s shameful that the Republican minority has forced them to wait this long for simple up-or-down votes. These delays directly impact Americans seeking their day in court. In Connecticut, the judicial vacancy crisis is so severe that the Chief District Judge had to bring in out-of-state judges to help relieve the caseload. Senate Republicans must now allow votes on the remaining 17 nominees who were long ago approved by the Judiciary Committee and have needlessly been forced into limbo month after month after month.”


YEP Primary Winners

The results are in from Tuesday’s primaries, and People For the American Way is proud to commend seven Young Elected Progressives endorsees on their victories.

In Connecticut, PFAW applauds Assemblymen Matthew Lesser and James Albis, both running for reelection. Lesser, of Connecticut’s 100th district, has been a proven advocate for the middle class, education, and equal rights since he was first elected in 2010. Albis, a tireless voice for seniors and the middle class, was first elected in a 2011 special election. Both assemblymen face challengers in November, but are continuing their momentum into the fall’s general election.

PFAW also extends its congratulations to five YEP endorsees who emerged victorious in primary elections in Florida: Dwight Bullard, Andrew Gillum, John Alvarez, Leo Cruz, and Ricardo Rangel. While Bullard, winner of this year’s Barbara Jordan Leadership Award given by affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s YEO Network program, defeated four primary challengers in the state Senate’s 39th district, Gillum, YEO Network National Director, defeated three challengers to his Tallahassee city commission seat in a landslide victory. Elsewhere, openly gay state House candidate Alvarez continues to shatter ceilings, advancing onto the general election after an exciting 15 point victory. Cruz and Rangel, state Senate and House hopefuls, respectively, now also face challengers in November.

For more information on PFAW’s other Young Elected Progressives endorsees, click here, and be sure support these strong progressive voices!


Family Research Council's Tony Perkins Hails Campaign to Ban Day of Silence over its 'Promotion of Homosexuality'

With anti-gay organizations like the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America and Liberty Counsel urging students to walkout of schools on April 20th to protest the Day of Silence, a day when students in many schools remain silent to draw attention to anti-gay bias and bullying, the Family Research Council is now endorsing one Connecticut pastor’s efforts to have the school prohibit any student from participating in the Day of Silence.

According to the New Haven Register, Loomer’s campaign is based on material from rabidly anti-gay activist Linda Harvey of Mission America, along with debunked claims that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which spearheads the Day of Silence, distributes pornographic material to children, pastor James Loomer of Milford is trying to convince his local school board to forbid students from partaking in the event. However, the school board’s own legal counsel and the American Civil Liberties Union notes that students have a right to participate in the Day of Silence during non-instructional time.

But Loomer’s unconstitutional and anti-gay ploy was rewarded with an interview on FRC president Tony Perkins’ radio show Washington Watch Weekly, where Loomer said that “parents will be so appalled at what the Day of Silence could lead their children into” and Perkins noted that while he opposed bullying, he also opposed anti-bullying efforts like the Day of Silence because it is “cover for the promotion of homosexuality” and commended Loomer’s efforts to ban it.

Loomer: If the board decides they don’t want to take any corrective actions we’re already making plans to call the city families together and just apprise them of the situation. I think the parents will be so appalled at what the Day of Silence could lead their children into that they’re going to want to stand up and say, ‘let’s get rid of this.’ There are alternative programs that focus on disrupting the bullying that goes on in schools but this is one that’s got a serious kickback to it.

Perkins: Look, bullying should not be taking place in our schools, every child in America should be able to go to school—public school, private school, wherever—without the fear of threat or being intimidated, regardless of what the cause is, whether they’re overweight, whether their religious viewpoints, no child should be bullied because they are effeminate or because of their sexual orientation or whatever, it shouldn’t happen, but we cannot allow these programs like the Day of Silence to come into our schools as a cover for the promotion of homosexuality. That’s what is happening with this so we appreciate Pastor Loomer and others who are drawing attention to this in communities across the country.

Attend a Rally to Save the American Dream this Saturday!

Events have been organized in cities and state capitols across the nation to show solidarity with workers in Wisconsin. Find the event or events nearest you.



Marriage Equality Opponents Blur Distinction Between Civil And Religious Marriage

Efforts to bring down discriminatory legal barriers to marriage equality have met with fierce resistance led by Religious Right organizations. Anti-equality leaders routinely blur the distinction between civil and religious marriage in order to portray legal marriage equality as a threat to their religious liberty. The truth can be a powerful weapon against that deception: when Americans understand that allowing same-sex couples to be legally wed would not require any church or congregation to bless or perform such weddings, support for legal equality jumps substantially.

Myths and Facts about Marriage Equality

As the fight for same-sex couples' right to marry continues, here's a debunking of some commonly held myths about marriage equality.

Myths and Facts About Connecticut's Marriage Decision

The Connecticut Supreme Court today ruled that the State Constitution requires the state to allow same sex couples to obtain civil marriage licenses.

"This is a proud day for the people of Connecticut, and a good day for the principle of equality," said Kathryn Kolbert, president of People For the American Way Foundation. "The Supreme Court's decision was grounded in constitutional principles and core American values. Discrimination is wrong. Unequal treatment under the law is wrong.

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