2013-03-27 14:51:30

Democracy Now! 2013-03-27 Wednesday

For the second day in a row, the U.S. Supreme Court is confronting the issue of same-sex marriage, hearing arguments today on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, that denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. On Tuesday, the justices considered the legality of California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. Representing two couples challenging the ban, attorney Ted Olson condemned Proposition 8. "It walls off gays and lesbians from marriage, the most important relation in life," he said, "thus stigmatizing a class of Californians based upon their status and labeling their most cherished relationships as second-rate, different, unequal, and not OK." We air excerpts from the court hearing and hear from the plaintiffs, who spoke outside the Supreme Court.

Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis have been deeply involved in the struggle to legalize same-sex marriage. They were two of the plaintiffs in the historic 2008 lawsuit that held California’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the state constitution. They have been together for 26 years and married in 2008 before Prop 8 passed. Both work at Marriage Equality USA: Gaffney is the media director, and Lewis is the legal director. In addition, Gaffney reflects on the legal challenges surrounding his parents’ marriage — his mother is Chinese American, and his father is white. In 1948, the California Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage, but other states did not recognize their marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court continues its session on the issue of same-sex marriage, hearing arguments today on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. We are joined by Dean Hara, a plaintiff in another lawsuit against DOMA. He is the widow of U.S. Representative Gerry Studds, the first openly gay member of Congress. Hara reflects on Studds’ decision to come out as a gay man. “I think that as he demonstrated in that act, it gave a lot of other people the confidence and the courage to also stand up,” Hara said. “And I think that act has brought us where we are today. Less than 50 years after Stonewall, 30 years after Gary spoke out on the floor of the House, it’s a different world that we live in.”

On Tuesday, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law three bills that could effectively ban abortion in the state and set up a major legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, which 40 years ago legalized abortion — at least in the first three months of pregnancy. One measure blocks abortions after an embryonic heartbeat can be detected, which can happen at six weeks of pregnancy or even earlier. Another bill would make North Dakota the first state to ban abortions based on genetic defects, such as Down Syndrome. A third bill, aimed at shuttering North Dakota’s only abortion clinic, will require all physicians who perform abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. We speak to Tammi Kromenaker, the director of the Red River Women’s Center, which is the state’s only abortion provider. We also speak to one of the Republicans who voted against the anti-abortion bills.

John Lewis Marriage Equality Roe V. Wade SCOTUS Ted Olson

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