Prop 8 Trial Tapes Can’t Stay Secret Forever: 2/6/12 Marriage News Watch

Another crazy week, with news in the Prop
8 case and major advances in Washington, Maryland, and New Jersey. And yet another court has
slapped down NOM’s attempts to hide their donors. I’m Matt Baume at the American Foundation
for Equal Rights, and welcome to Marriage News Watch for February 6, 2012. The big news this week: the tapes of the Prop
8 trial will remain under seal — for now. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled
that the District Court recordings of the trial that resulted in Prop 8 being declared
unconstitutional should be withheld from the public. That’s a big shame, because there
were some fascinating moments during that trial. But don’t worry: even with the tapes
being kept under lock and key, you can still see what happened in courtroom. Dustin Lance
Black’s new play, “8,” is based on transcripts of that trial, and had a star-studded premier
in New York and LA. Now productions of the show are coming to theaters all around the
country. Visit to find a production near you. And mark your calendars for August 4, 2020.
It appears as though there’s a 10-year time limit on the stay, so unless the Proponents
file for an extension in about a decade, the tapes will finally become public ten years
after the case is closed. Washington State made history this week with
the Senate passing a marriage equality bill with 28 votes. That includes seven Republicans
who voted for the bill. Now the bill moves to the House, where it’s expected to pass,
and then on to the Governor, who introduced the bill. So, could anything stop marriage
equality at this point? Yes: anti-gay groups could gather signatures for a referendum or
an initiative — or both. Polling shows that 55% of voters would support the marriage equality
bill, with 38% opposed, but anti-gay groups have already raised a million dollars and
there’s no telling how public opinion might change. As Washington moves ahead, New Jersey is following
close behind. This week the Assembly Judiciary Committee voted to advance the marriage equality
bill. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill on Friday of this week, with a full Assembly
vote next Monday. Governor Chris Christie has promised to veto the bill. But Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has
staked out an opposite position, testifying in favor of a marriage bill. A new survey
shows 50% of Marylanders support marriage equality, with 44% opposed. The National Organization for Marriage has
attempted for years to evade campaign disclosure laws that would require them to reveal their
funding sources. Unfortunately for them, courts have taken a dim view of those shenanigans.
After being shot down in California, Washington, and Rhode Island, anti-gay groups lost yet
another round in Maine this week. NOM doesn’t want the public to know where
their money comes from, but this week’s ruling forces them to open their formerly secret
donor files — just in time for a marriage equality rematch on the Maine ballot this
November. But NOM’s suspect accounting doesn’t stop
in Maine. They’re also facing fresh questions in Minnesota, where the group’s given a quarter
million dollars to the campaign to put a marriage ban in the state constitution. That campaign
has received only seven donations — but those seven donations total $1.2 million. It looks
like NOM may be pooling donations from private individuals rather than having those individuals
publicly donating to the campaign. The Human Rights Campaign is keeping a close
eye on the money trail and this week urged the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Disclosure
Board to investigate. And in national news, the Southern Poverty
Law Center has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a lesbian servicemember. Despite being diagnosed
with multiple sclerosis, the Army has refused to give Tracey Cooper-Harris the same health
benefits that straight veterans receive. There are at least six other cases against DOMA
working their way through the courts right now. That includes McLaughlin v. Panetta,
filed in October of 2011. One of the plaintiffs in the McLaughlin case
will meet this Thursday with House Speaker John Boehner’s office. Chief Warrant Officer
Charlie Morgan has been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and needs to secure survivor
benefits for her wife now. Boehner is one of the chief defenders of the anti-gay law
that prevents the Army from recognizing Morgan’s marriage. And finally, marriage equality appears unstoppable
in Scotland, with public and political support at an all-time high. It’s estimated that the
government will complete its study of the issue later this spring, with a draft bill
ready for vote within a year. Those are the headlines, visit
to find a performance of “8” near you. And visit for all these
stories and more, and to sign up for breaking news alerts. I’m Matt Baume at the American
Foundation for Equal Rights, and we’ll see you next week.

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