More good news from the fight for marriage equality: today a federal judge struck down Oregon’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.
If you are feeling a sense of deja-vu, it’s understandable – the Washington Blade notes that this ruling is the “13th straight win for gay nuptials in the federal courts” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision last year, which struck down a key section of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act [emphasis added].
Given that decision, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum declined to defend the state ban, and the judge did not allow the right-wing National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to defend it. Earlier today NOM lashed out at the case, calling it “an ugly example of inappropriate cooperation between the Attorney General and the gay marriage lobby.”
Judge Michael McShane wrote:
It is at times difficult to see past the shrillness of the debate. Accusations of religious bigotry and banners reading "God Hates Fags" make for a messy democracy and, at times, test the First Amendment resolve of both sides. At the core of the Equal Protection Clause, however, there exists a foundational belief that certain rights should be shielded from the barking crowds; that certain rights are subject to ownership by all and not the stake hold of popular trend or shifting majorities.
As the Right continues to fight a losing battle to prevent loving couples from accessing the protections they need to take care of each other, we’ll keep fighting for nationwide equality.
The Miami Herald reported Friday that Florida and Oregon have dropped out of Interstate Crosscheck, the disputed voter-fraud detection service run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, with Oregon election officials citing "unreliable" data from the program.
Interstate Crosscheck’s reports in 2013 include Florida data based on the 2012 election. However, Florida is absent from the 2014 report.
We asked a spokeswoman for Republican Secretary of State Ken Detzner why Florida dropped out.
“The Department of State and Supervisors of Elections currently work with elections officials in other states to update registrations regarding residency, and we are always exploring options to improve the elections process,” Brittany Lesser said.
Oregon is another state that changed its mind about sharing its voter data with the Kansas project. Its explanation was more blunt than the one we got from Florida.
“We left because the data we received was unreliable and we felt joining the ERIC project would better meet our needs, said Tony Green, spokesman for Oregon Secretary of State.
ERIC is a project of the Pew Charitable Trust to improve the accuracy and efficiency of state voter registration systems. States must pay to participate in ERIC while the Kansas project is free.
Voting rights opponents went into full-blown panic mode last week when North Carolina elections officials, citing data from Kobach's program, announced that 35,000 people who voted in North Carolina could have also voted in another state. That this number turned out to be completely overblown -- and that the state's top elections official urged caution in jumping to conclusions -- did not stop Dick Morris and the Tea Party Nation from claiming that as many as a million Democrats voted twice in the 2012 elections.
via Rick Hasen
Following the approval of House Joint Memorial 6 by a 17-13 vote in the Oregon Senate today, Oregon became the 16th state to call for an amendment to the Constitution overturning the 2010 Citizens United decision and related cases.
The passage of HJM6, first introduced in January by Representative Brian Clem, is the result of a grassroots mobilization effort by the people of Oregon. In 2012 alone, 12 Oregon cities and counties passed local resolutions urging state and federal legislators to call for a constitutional amendment taking back our democracy from corporations and special interests. The mobilization at the state level was led by Oregonians for Restoring Constitutional Democracy, a coalition that gathered signatures and endorsements in support of HJM6.
The joint memorial urges Congress to propose a constitutional amendment “clarifying the distinction between the rights of natural persons and the rights of corporations” and recognizing “that Congress and state legislatures may regulate all moneys raised and spent for political purposes.”
Rep. Jules Bailey, speaking to the Oregon House last week, urged his fellow representatives to support the measure, saying, “When we confuse the monolith with the individual, then a piece of our humanity dies. Let us ask Congress to undo this mistake.” The measure passed the House by a vote of 48-11 on June 21st before being sent to the Senate.
With each additional state joining the movement to overturn Citizens United and related decisions, the will of the American people becomes clearer. We will not let our elections be bought and sold. We will not let corporate power subvert the will of the people.
NEW HOPE, Pa. – At a town hall meeting here Wednesday, Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, a Republican member of Pennsylvania’s Senate State Government Committee, spoke out against fellow Republican Sen. Dominic Pileggi’s scheme to change the way Pennsylvania apportions its electoral votes. McIlhinney said Pileggi’s bill was “poorly thought out” and “makes no sense to me whatsoever.” He added, “I won’t support it.”
McIlhinney is a member of the Senate State Government Committee, which would be the first to review Pileggi’s bill.
Rep. Allyson Schwartz and former congressman Joe Sestak have both denounced the plan. Gov. Tom Corbett has yet to state a position on the bill and whether he would veto it if it passed the legislature.
“Governor Corbett has not been forthright with the public on whether he favors legislation rigging future presidential elections in favor of one party over another and costing the state millions in economic activity. Despite his reluctance to clearly articulate a position on disenfranchising millions of Pennsylvanians, it is clear that his tacit approval will not stand well with voters or even with some members of his own party,” said Randy Borntrager, Political Director of People For the American Way.
“It’s time for the governor to step up and tell Pennsylvanians whether he sides with the best interests of the voters or with the interests of the Republican Party leadership.”
Last month, People For the American Way delivered over 100,000 petitions urging Corbett to reject Pileggi’s plan.
A transcript and video of McIlhinney’s remarks are below.
Question: I just had a question about a bill that Senator Pileggi had, that we have been hearing a lot in the press about, that changes the electoral college votes. What is your stance on that? What is your position on that and why?
Senator McIlhinney: The electoral college….What they are trying to say is that you have a proportionate amount of votes you need…or we have 20 electoral college votes and they should be based upon a proportionate of the number of people who voted in Pennsylvania.
Now, under that system, I could never see a Presidential candidate ever getting more than 11 to 9, no matter who it is. Because I am never going to see a candidate win 75% of the vote in Pennsylvania. So you could never even get more than 11 let alone 20. Which makes no sense to me whatsoever.
What you’re saying is you’ll have two….It will force us into a state that will only have two electoral college votes depending on which way you go with it. So, I won’t support it. I don’t think it’s gonna come up.
But that’s the logic is to say that every vote should count. So, even if your candidate lost, you’re still gaining him some electoral college votes in that electoral college….but it really was poorly thought out, if I can say that.
I respect Senator Pileggi a lot but I wouldn’t support it. And it really would set Pennsylvania back to a state like a small state like Vermont or Ohio…well not Ohio.
Out of State Money Floods Contests in 2012
Washington, DC – Today People For the American Way Foundation unveiled new state-by-state fact sheets detailing outside spending in U.S. Senate and House races in 21 states. Each report analyzes the outside spending totals from Super PACs, dark money groups, and out-of-state spenders in the down ballot federal races from the 2012 election cycle. The fact sheets reveal that, on average, a majority of outside election money in these states came from Super PACs. And in every case, a vast majority came from organizations registered outside of the state.
The release of the “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence” reports coincide with the weekend marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC to draw attention to the dual threats of voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics. The reports – a partnership between PFAWF and U.S. PIRG – are part of the Money Out/Voters In campaign. As part of that campaign, People For the American Way Foundation, its affiliate People For the American Way, and other organizers across the country are hosting “Day of Action” events in more than 76 cities in 33 states this weekend. Members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council will be leading Money Out/Voters In events in Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.
“Last year’s elections were far and away the most expensive in history,” said People For the American Way Foundation Executive Vice President Marge Baker. “A major reason was the influx of outside, special interest spending in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision. When big money floods our elections, it dwarfs the ability of individual Americans to have their voices heard. Just as important, when politicians push laws to suppress the vote, we turn back the clock on decades on progress to expand and improve our democracy. We need to pursue the full range of remedies to address the problem of too much money in politics, including amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, and we need to stand up against the growing threat of voter suppression. This weekend we are joining with allies across the country to call for a democracy that gets Money Out and Voters In.”
The states featured in the reports are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
For links to each report, please visit: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/outside-spending-outsized-influence-big-and-s...
For more information about the Money Out/Voters In campaign or the Days of Action, please visit: http://www.moneyout-votersin.org
Washington, DC – The movement to overturn Citizens United v. FEC scored major victories in state and local elections across the country Tuesday as citizens voted to support a constitutional amendment returning democracy to voters. Statewide ballot initiatives calling for a constitutional amendment passed by wide margins in Colorado and Montana, as did initiatives in over half the cities and towns of Massachusetts. Initiatives in San Francisco, Chicago, and three cities in Oregon also passed by wide margins.
“Americans across the country are fed up with the enormous influence of big money in elections,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “Yesterday, over seven million Americans in six states spoke out with their votes and overwhelmingly rejected corporate money in politics. What’s more, Americans reelected a president who supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United over a man who thinks “corporations are people.” This is a huge step for the ever-growing movement to return elections to the voters.”
More details about the successful ballot measures can be found here.