Adam Polaski

Gillibrand and Democracy for America Target DOMA Repeal

Filed By Adam Polaski | June 25, 2011 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Daily Kos, Defense of Marriage Act, Democracy for America, DOMA, DOMA repeal, Gillibrand, Pam's House Blend

File:Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.jpegIn the wake of last night's passage of marriage equality in New York, Democracy for America and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are looking to capitalize on the momentum by making a renewed online push to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

On Daily Kos and Pam's House Blend, and in an e-mail blast from Democracy for America, Gillibrand urged marriage equality supporters to sign a petition to repeal DOMA and share their own story about how the prohibitive law has impacted their life. The organization and senator have wasted no time in trying to take advantage of last night's huge step toward national progress. In her letter urging participation (larger excerpt after the jump), Gillibrand writes:

"Much like the historic vote last night in New York, it's going to take a lot of hard work and our collective grassroots advocacy. And I believe it's going to take telling more of the stories of those who experience the injustices of DOMA every day."

You can sign the petition to repeal DOMA and share your story here.

Fuller excerpt of Gillibrand's post:

What a historic day!

I couldn't be more thrilled that, thanks to extraordinary grassroots activism and the hard work of Governor Cuomo and so many committed organizations and elected officials, New York has once again led the way on equality.

Last night's vote for marriage equality in NY was a true bipartisan effort with Democratic and Republican State Senators coming together to forge a pro-equality majority in support of the simple proposition that every New Yorker should be able to marry the person they love.

But our work is not done.

The fact is that once our LGBT friends and family are legally able to marry here in New York, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will prohibit them from enjoying over 1,000 federal rights and privileges that are afforded straight married couples.

That's why earlier this year I joined Senator Feinstein and several of my Senate colleagues to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that will repeal the regressive and discriminatory DOMA.

It's also why I've joined with Democracy For America to launch a national online campaign to rally support for repeal. For only once every legally married couple in the United States is treated equally under federal law can we fulfill the true meaning of marriage equality.

I hope you'll join us.

The Defense of Marriage Act truly is damaging. Every day, thousands of legally married LGBT men and women around the country are unable to take advantage of rights and privileges - from hospital visitation to inheritance rights to health benefits - that straight married couples take for granted. ...

So, if you've been impacted by DOMA, please go to to sign the petition and tell us your own story or that of someone you know. It's imperative that we begin to put faces and names to this discriminatory policy. Only then will we truly be able to change hearts and minds, both among my colleagues in Congress and around the country.

We did it with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and we'll do it with DOMA. The time to start is now.

Thank you for standing with me and DFA for equality for all Americans.

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Cue the outraged trans women! 3.. 2... 1...

Oh Bil don't be so cynical. I'm sure it was with great forethought and wisdom ENDA was named ENDA. Its like go to the ENDA the line and wait. :)


But have you seen the other threads? Geez, it's so tiresome to always have the first comments always be "But what about me!??!" all the time? It's become so bad that the ed team and contributors have started a running bet now about whether or not the outrage will start within 15 minutes of the post going live.

And thank you, Bil, for stepping up and taking on the burden of putting all of the whiny trans women in their place.

You know Bil I've seriously done a lot in support of the gay community and even spent money to run an ad in Northern Arizona in support of the LGBT the first time Arizona tried to pass an anti gay marriage constitutional amendment. I've sat in the Iowa Statehouse when they were debating gay marriage in support of gay marriage rights. I was fully against DOMA when it passed and was signed by Bill Clinton. I fully understand your point that it is better when we all work together. But when you make light of serious discrimination by certain parts of the LGBT towards Transsexuals and those they label Transgender your showing support for that discrimination and helping to allow it to continue. I understand your frustration at being discriminated against and have even taken the steps to support you in your fight against it will you step up to the plate and do the same for me? I'm betting you won't and it shows in your comments.

Yea, I agree, the way the poor gays were crying and whining foul for the last 20 years? You mean that kind of whiny? I swear, I will probably not try to help on another "gay/lesbian" issue ever again. In fact you've probably made a many a good enemy. If you want to think "gay men" just think Ron Gold and you'll get the true way that gay men think, only about themselves. I can't say what I really want to say here bil, but I would hope I would get to say it to your face someday. Hypocrites, back stabbers, two faced and liars always get their due in the long run, now that folks know where you stand. True colors shinning through.

Bil, do you think maybe poking fun at transsexual woman just after GENDA dying where Gay rights was successful might be bad timing? We have a right to be upset. I am sure there was a time when you were as angry as a lot of us are now.

Bil, there's no reason for this type of condescension. I really expected more from you.

White gay male privilege strikes again.

White gay male privilege strikes again....

No, white gay male bigotry strikes again. Don't forget they still benefit from the male fraternity and male privilege. They don't deal with discrimination, because the majority put on their male suit and go back to work on Monday mornings. No problem. Where gay male discrimination comes in is when their discriminated against because of their "in your face" bigotry. I'm sick and tired of the "feeling sorry for them" attitudes. It's only about gay and lesbian rights anyway and that is all it ever was about. The gays and lesbians only joined hands because they hate each other and the common ground "if you leave me alone I'll leave you alone". Anyone else who thought they were in the mix, have been had. Who has anything in common with them except lesbians? Cross dresser's aren't supported by them, nor transgender, nor gender queer, nor transsexuals, nor androgynous, or anybody else I can think of. Gay rights is about that, "gay rights". It's time to get off their band wagon now that they have their "marriage in NY" and get on with real discrimination legislation that protects women's rights, the right for a woman to choose, employment rights, protections from bullying, and gender equality. That last one is still as far behind as women's pay in the work place, it's ridiculous. Gay men have all the rights they need as long as they stop their "in your face" behavior, wear their man suit to work, and enjoy their drag shows. I remember "act up" when many of the gays decided to get "in your face". Now they don't like it when others do it because they don't really have any compassion towards anyone except themselves. Gay men are about gay men, period.

I will mention, if you're going to throw the wage-gap out there that there's a thirteen-to-one workplace fatality gap as well, going the other direction. We shouldn't forget that men are taught to work themselves to death and often literally do.

"workplace fatality gap", I have osteoarthritis because of that. I wore out my back doing 40 years at hard labor. Not in prison, but in the free enterprise in America.

Renee Thomas | June 25, 2011 12:42 PM

Nope, no outrage from me, but than I'm gay . . . and trans. The lesson in this for the trans community is to focus on the cisgender discrimination which we suffer from in common and quit bitching about the things that we insist separate us. I could not be more proud of and awed by the import of this victory. I would ask; will my cis-brothers and sisters commit themselves to the passage of an inclusive ENDA with the same passion that I've joined with you to see marriage equality become the law of the land?

Amen. I get so tired of the us vs them mentality that seems to have taken hold here. We're in this together. Divide and conquer is how the religious right wins - not us.

And, you know, I can always count on you to offer thoughtful commentary on about any issue, Renee. You're one of my favorite commenters.

Renee Thomas | June 25, 2011 2:38 PM

Ahh, thanks Bil. So pleased for both a place and an opportunity to help build an enduring community.

You know Bil how about you throw some of that divide and conquer attitude where it belongs on people like Dean Spade, Judith Butler, Leslie Feinberg, Mara Kiesling, Glaad, HRC, NGLTF and all the others that have been using Transsexuals to promote agendas that seek to divide and destroy us. OH wait they're all part of the LGBT and some of them claim to be Transsexual so it makes their actions okay no matter how many they kill or hurt.

Just so you know Bil the religious right uses those peoples arguments and statements against Transsexuals. I know of no instance that anything I've ever written has been used by the religious right to harm anyone LGBT or Transsexual.

The religious right can't deny people medicine.

It's the typical man's view of women that comes out true blue here, um Bil. And many thought gays were different, more compassionate for women, more open about civil rights and equality for all. They are men and they still think their above women, and with a gay male here on transsexual issues, you shouldn't expect anything more, except a little more caustic. Bil reflects the typical attitude here that most gays have about women and lesbians, and that includes you if your anything except "gay" or "male". See my previous post.

Seriously? Insinuation that LGBT people are murdering trans people?

yes seriously SAS through ignorance and mis information

I'll go even further some of those promoting the agendas used by the religious right know that they are harming Transsexuals and are quite happy to continue with it because of their severe hate of anyone they views as male or as male attempting to intrude in Womyn only space.Many of the people that support their positions claim to be Transgender and Transsexual when all it takes is a brief look at their past actions and associations to tell they are neither.

Yea, it is happening. We are being moderated out of existence., check, Bilerico, Check....on and on and on. Try and replace your situation with the one we currently are facing and you tell me.

Bil wrote:

We're in this together

On FB, I asked two questions:
1) What was the comparative level of effort expended on getting GENDA to a vote compared to SSM?
2) What evidence do we have that more effort will ever be spent on GENDA in future years?

1) Gov Cuomo, former POTUS Bill Clinton, and NY mayor Michael Bloomberg lobbied in Albany for SSM... radio silence from same men concerning GENDA except for Gov Cuomo stating that if GENDA passed he would sign it..
GENDA and the marriage bill passed the NY State Assembly with similar margins at approximately the same time. Both bills went to the NY State Senate, and were referred to the Rules Committee. According to what has been reported, the whip count of the Senate showed 32 in favor of passage, with 8 more undecided. At that point, all reportage of GENDA ceased, and the marriage bill was the only thing making the news.

Bil, believe me when I say that had marriage equality had a real chance of passage, and had been sidelined like this in favour of All-GENDA, All-the-Time, I would have been equally upset at the betrayal. Less vociferous perhaps, but I would have felt morally dirty at what was being done in my name - while being glad that we were getting something, even if others weren't.

The thing is... there's a pattern here. I know you're sick of the complaints. So am I. But the solution is to stop making GLBT really GL. The NY situation is particularly egregious. This was our last, best chance for passage of GENDA. Previous experience in all other states says that support for such bills nosedives once SSM is achieved. This was our high-water-mark.

It may have been a good tactical decision to concentrate effort, lest both issues fail. I don't know. But it's always the same one that's chosen. Remember New Hampshire?

Already we are seeing NY Pride etc shift their attention to repeal of DOMA, and finally implementing DADT repeal. GENDA? What's that?

It's obvious that we're not in this together. We should be, but we're not. Actions speak louder than words.

I second your thought Zoe. Living in NY, I have been paying close attention to all that has been going on here in NY, and have noticed that same things you mention here Zoe. We should be working together, but the orgs in NY (and elsewhere) don't seem to care much once Marriage is passed. It just gets frustating after a while.

Tina (IL) | June 25, 2011 1:11 PM

or Bil and others, we could just put the transgender community in the closet. I am thrilled that marriage equality passed in NY. I hope the discriminatory DOMA (of course five of the Supremes don't think it is, right?), is done away with. I hope that the Defense Department does a good job with eliminating DADT (better than the Navy did after tailhook). With all that said (whiny transsexual coming out), it would be refreshing to have the same energy on ENDA. It won't END discrimination, but it, to me as a transwoman, is the watershed event that I hope last night started for those who wish to marry someone of the same sex. Did I put just the correct amount of whine in the glass for you, Bil?

I'm glad that there's both an Executive Branch strategy and a Legislative Branch strategy. Both are needed. Last year there was zero hope of getting more than a handful of votes in Congress for DOMA repeal. I think we're beginning to see a different narrative take hold.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 25, 2011 3:18 PM

If memboy serves the fight for SSM is decades old in New York. This victory is the result of a massive movement and the work of activist communities.

We desperately needed a victory in our defensive fight for same sex marriage. We've been battered and bullied since Bill Clinton championed and signed DOMA, with the overwhelming support of Congressional Democrats and Republicans in 1996. As soon as Clinton signed DOMA he began to batter the LGBT communities with these putrid ads on redneck radio stations:

"Protecting religious freedom. It's the foundation of our nation.

When the Justice Department went after a church to gather the parishioners' tithing money, the government was stopped cold because President Clinton overturned the government's policy and protected us. It's not the only time he's defended our values…

The President signed the Defense of Marriage Act , supports curfews and school uniforms to teach our children discipline. President Clinton has fought for our values and America is better for it.

Paid for by Clinton/Gore 96 "

Since then same sex marriage has been the battering ram in an unrelenting attack on our rights spearheaded by Bill Clinton, BushBrain Rove and now by Barak Obama, who bellowed the phase "God's in the mix" to justify his opposition to SSM before millions of TV in 2008 and personally and deliberately torpedoed same sex marriage in California, Arizona and Florida. He remains pigheadedly opposed to SSM as do his probable Republican opponents.

The victory in NY will serve to spur, not curb the growing disgust in the GLBT communities with both the Democrats and Republicans and help us refocus our energies on repeal of Bill Clinton's DOMA and the passage of ENDA, which has been ignored by Democrats for 15 years. Or, even better, many activists are supporting a comprehensive, inclusive Civil Rights Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing equality in employment, housing and public accommodations, providing for harsh fines and jail time for offenders, especially religious cults and making it easy to sue bigots, racists and misogynists for compensation.

There will inevitably be those who take this victory as a sign that the fight is over and they can settle down and become Stepford wives and husbands. Let them. For the rest of us this is a much need slap in the face for bigots like Obama and Bachmann but it's just the beginning.

The growing LGBT fight for equality, part of the large and rising radicalization caused by the current Depression, is just getting started. HRC, the Stonewall Democrats, Log Cabin Republicans, Obama and Bachmann will just have to get used to it.

The next big steps for us will be to break with the twin parties of bigotry and to get into or create unions where we work. Unions are the heavy infantry of social change. That will allow us to firm up our growing connections with the left wing in unions and to become a part of the broader fight against austerity and union busting but always independently and on our terms.

Didn't the ruling by the 20 federal judges in the same-sex bankruptcy case find DOMA to be unconstitutional and strike it down?

Om Kalthoum | June 25, 2011 5:00 PM

Gillibrand's da bomb! Do you remember when some people were pushing Caroline Kennedy to fill Hillary's seat? I'd say New Yorkers were lucky she got appointed. I wonder if there's a future for her on a wider/higher political stage?

Bil, are these first comments by you really necessary? They show a level of unprofessionalism and class that you are far above.

Tall Stacey | June 25, 2011 5:24 PM

Thank you Tom. I too am distressed by those comments.

Have never been to this site before. A friend posted a link to this article via Facebook. I read the article, then read the comments, and the first comment I see is the founder of this site going after trans women, juxtaposed with a flashing ad imploring me to "DONATE." I'm a transsexual woman, and I wasn't outraged until I read Bil's comment.

Um, no, Bil, I won't be donating today.

I have no idea if this is typical from Bil, but comments like these are a big reason that many women like me choose to disassociate with the "T" in "LGBT."


Tina (IL) | June 25, 2011 5:46 PM

I really would hate to defend Bil, but as one who has been involved with lots of comments (I am a part of the "T" party, not the tea party), I think he understands that there are a lot of us who are deeply invested in promoting "big tent" ideas and aren't always 100% thrilled to have "progress." I think his comments were meant partly (mostly?) in jest. I disagree with him on some things, but I am appreciative of him for the site, and admire his intelligence and sense of humor. bil, please don't go overboard...I will smack you upside the head with my next post! :-)

I know very little about New York politics. So I went to wikipedia and read Governor Cuomo's bio. I had forgotten that he and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand were the 2 finalists for Hillary Clinton's vacated seat. I didn't know that Cuomo was married to the seventh child of Robert Kennedy. His career is intriguing.

Then I went back and read Adam's post and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's statement. I would say she is very cagey. She is stepping out in front of an issue carefully stealing some steam from an allie and potential competitor. I think the 2016 democrat presidential nomination looms large and will be interesting.

Well, I think you're all being ridiculous here, attacking Bil this way. He's right, we're all just whiners! Come on now! We should all be celebrating! Gays can get married in New York! Who cares if a few more trans people and their families go homeless or starve to death on the streets because they can't get hired or find a landlord who will rent to them? It's a small price to pay for gay marriage, right? Who cares if it's another decade or more before trans people have their rights protected, gays and lesbians are protected right now and that's really what matters most, isn't it?

Bil, the problem, as someone once put it, isn't that the right hates us, but that the left hates us too. I considered drafting a memo for a couple of sorta-right-wing provincial parties stating that they could split the NDP coalition by coming out in favor of an expansion in trans rights that targeted the pet bigotries on the left.

Want to break the left in BC? Introduce the Cynthia Nixon Equality Act. Force all shelters, and organizations that do gendered work to accept declared and presented gender and introduce a provincial hate speech law that allows for de-funding of any organization, (VRR comes to mind) that preaches hatred on the standard grounds plus gender identity. Oh, and say you're going to get around that pesky medical model by demanding that transition medicine must have equal treatment under the law to other reproductive medicine, like, say, over-the-counter birth-control, or abortion.

Bam! It's 1977 all over again, as every transphobic 'feminist' who makes it a point to attend the provincial NDP convention goes utterly apoplectic.

The left is divided on trans rights. Not evenly, mind you, but the further left you go, the more likely you are to find someone who is: 1. politically active and 2. unsympathetic to trans rights.

Want to create a schism the queer community in Toronto or Winnipeg? Possibly splitting the vote or depressing left-wing turnout in a few key ridings?

Say that the government is creating an informed consent clinic and then link medical trans funding to inclusion of trans people in positions of power in key LGBT organizations, in proportion to their estimated population numbers, a 5 to 2 ratio, or remove the equivalent dollars from funding LGBT civil society groups.

It wouldn't be hard to exploit the inherent tensions. We see them simmering today. And both movements will be harmed. A trans-exclusive GLB movement loses significant legitimacy among policy makers and a trans-only movement doesn't yet have access to the corridors of power like more established lobbying organizations do. We're probably talking ten or twenty years of lost progress... just like the 80's all over again.

This stability though, is dependent on ensuring every constituency in the GLBT movement gets their spoils... if there's nothing done for the trans community unless it's by-product of helping the cis GLB community, and you can see by the comments the degree to which this is the perception, the inherent tensions will destroy the movement. Which, I suppose, doesn't effect New Yorkers, unless they also want to be Americans-at-large.

I think its time to look for another publication to read. It is truly sad when the Editor displays bigotry towards a group. Is the Bilerico Project name going to change tomorrow to the "Traditional Values Coalition" and is Bil changing his name to Andrea Lafferty???????

I'm truly happy that the right to marry is finally happening.

But Bil, you are saying again what the trans community has always said. When there is marriage equality, the trans community will be forgotten. We are at best a bargaining chip for Gay, Inc. As soon as someone screams about the bathroom issue, Gay, Inc. will be more than happy to throw the trans community under the bus again. And again. And again.

With an attitude like that, you won't be getting a dime from me, Bil.

My opinion to the unprofessionalism of Bil is that he should take the bull by the horns as soon as he can and post a apology. It would be the wise thing to do and will maintain some damage control. Of course, this is just my opinion for you to step up Bil and show the man that you are, that you made a mistake. Otherwise, I am sure you may lose some readership and financial contributions to this site.

Everyone has to vent sometimes. It's OK to do it amongst friends, even if you put your foot in your mouth. That's what friends are for, they won't blame you for being human.

I'm sure Bil's just sick and tired of this repetitive stereotype of trans women (it's nearly always the women) whinging and whining about how we've been thrown under the bus, stabbed in the back, let down, traded away etc etc etc yet again. I don't blame him. We're so predicable.

I'm sick and tired of writing whinges and whines myself.

So why don't we stop the cause, hmm? Stop Gay Inc stabbing us in the back etc and we won't keep bleeding over the carpet and leaving a messy stain. One thing though - we won't stop reminding you of this, next time it happens. And the next. And the next. Until it stops. Then so will we.

Mass. is next, isn't it? 22 years of Gay-only rights, 7 years since SSM was allowed..... a "GLBT friendly super majority" all the tell me about this novel "we're all in this together" idea. It sounds like a good one, should it ever be tried.

Looking forward to the inevitable Janice Raymond column in the Boston Globe... also if the Indigo Girls and other cis women who've profited off michfest come out to support us where they supported the cis GLB movement... wanna lay odds?

I've said it before, but the infighting I see here is so massive every day on every thread on every issue even between trans people about trans issues or other trans people that I'm nothing short of amazed and impressed that a community could be so utterly dysfunctional in it political action.

I think one of the most ridiculous things I ever saw here was someone writing an article about their personal transition, complete with caveats about their own personal experiences not reflecting any sort of "truth" about others, and then the comments proceeding in the following order:

- Cynicism about how the post does not reflect the views of the commenter.

- Response to commenter including hyperbolic Bingo Statement 1: "This is the problem with X issue in general".

- Bingo Statement 2: "Thank you for reducing me to X caricature"

- Inevitable side-bar/chip on the shoulder unrelated issue about trans identity in general.

- Another Bingo Statement 1.

- Another Bingo Statement 2.

- A flood of additional comments criticizing how Commenter 25 doesn't understand the deep personal experience of Commenter 46, with the implication that one can never understand the experience of another so one shouldn't even try followed by a criticism that one isn't trying hard ENOUGH to represent that impossible-to-understand experience.

Bil's comment, while unprofessional for someone with so much stake in this site, speaks to a reality that I expect to see each and every time I click on an article here and read the comments section. And really, what more is there to say beyond the fact that commenters here never fail to fulfill that expectation.

So bravo.

Bil, you know I love you. I also know you have your bona-fides as a trans ally. But that opening comment is just out of line. It's unprofessional and out of place on a website that prides itself on mature, involved discussion. It's troll bait, plain and simple, and you're better than that. You may be frustrated by the comment threads but the Project is dedicated to conversation. Even if you feel the arguments are tired and worn-out these sorts of catty remarks don't belong in your public-facing replies.

Austen I thought it was funny. Bil was obviously on his first cup of coffee and sensed that "here we go again". I'll even bet you that after he posted the comment he said to himself "oh why did I do that?".

Anyone but Bil, I might have taken a fence, a gate, several posts, some barbed wire....

But I for one am going to give him a "get out of jail free" card on this one. I'd like it if he didn't do it again, but I'd rather he remain Bil, if you know what I mean. Just a personal opinion, others need not share it.

Come on, we've had the Gold Affair, we've had what I think was the most exquisitely insensitive post on record, about how "the most important thing left for GLBT rights in Massachusetts was getting permission to be in the St Patrick's Day Parade as all the important stuff had been done"... Bil's exasperated faux pas was nothing in comparison.

And OK, I have to confess... I thought the same thing too. It was the first thought that crossed my mind, in fact.

I had more sense than to say it - just like I don't have enough sense not to be completely honest here now. If that makes sense.

I intercept some of the crap that's been thrown at him and get it on me, then it's because I deserve it if he does. Besides - it enabled me to make my point that the reason our reaction is so predictable is because the backstabs are so predictable.

Bil, you've managed to completely derail Adam's post and you owe him an apology. And honestly, without some of the "outraged trans women" on this site, Bilerico would be about as exciting as watching Will and Grace reruns.