Monday, April 18, 2011

'Defend Marriage' hearing doesn't go well for 'marriage defenders'

According to the Washington Blade, Friday's Congressional hearing on "defending marriage" got very contentious because Democratic lawmakers not only posed tough questions to witnesses, but also because they questioned the credibility of the hearing itself:

In testimony before the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, (Maggie) Gallagher, NOM’s chair and co-founder, said marriage should restricted to one man and one woman because such unions are the only kind that can produce children and because state voters by referenda have affirmed 31 times that marriage shouldn’t be extended to gay couples.

“Marriage is the union of husband and wife for a reason: these are the only unions that create new life and connect those children in love to their mother and father,” Gallagher said. “This is not necessarily the reason why individuals marry; this is the great reason, the public reason why government gets involved in the first place.”

. . . Following her opening statement, Gallagher bore the brunt of tough questioning from Democratic lawmakers during the question-and-answer session of the hearing.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, asked Gallagher if the children of Jen and Dawn BarbouRouske, a married same-sex couple from Iowa who were present during the hearing, should have parents who can receive the full protections of marriage or if she considers these children “expendable.”

“I think no children are expendable,” Gallagher replied. “Gay people have families that are not marital families, but they are families. I myself was an unwed mother, so I have firsthand experience with being in a family that’s not a marital family. I don’t think you need to have a message of stigmatization and exclusion to protect to an ideal.”

Nadler, sponsor of DOMA repeal legislation in the House, interrupted Gallagher, saying “the whole point” of DOMA is stigmatization and exclusion, and pressed Gallagher further on why the institution of marriage benefits when same-sex couples are excluded.

Lawmakers even challenged Gallagher regarding NOM's finances:

Nadler continued to question Gallagher on NOM’s involvement in 2010 Iowa campaign that successfully ousted three justices from the state Supreme Court who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. The lawmaker asked Gallagher, who estimated that NOM contributed between $600,000 and $650,000 to the campaign, why she would criticize the Justice Department for allegedly making a political decision while her organization politicized the judicial process.

“The National Organization of Marriage is political advocacy organization, and so I think it’s appropriate for us to be politically involved in ways that Department of Justice is not,” Gallagher replied.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), a co-sponsor of the DOMA repeal bill, asked Gallagher whether reports were true that her organization contributed $1.9 million to the 2009 campaign in Maine to abrogate the states’s same-sex marriage law. Opponents of same-sex marriage succeeded in nullifying the marriage law in the state before gay couples could marry there.

“I don’t have those figures in front of me, but we were involved in the [effort],” Gallagher said. “But that’s probably on the order [of our contributions].”

One thing about the hearing not widely known was the fact that there were no witnesses called to defend the Obama Administration's decision to no longer defend DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act).

And some members of the committee questioned the judgment behind that:

What bothers me about this hearing at this subcommittee is that the Department of Justice is not present,” Conyers said. “I was informed that they were not invited. … We have one of the leaders of the country, Ms. Gallagher, who’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars against judges … but there’s nobody here from the Justice Department.”

In response, Franks said the Justice Department would be invited to come during an upcoming hearing in May before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee on the DOMA decision. Upon further questioning, Franks maintained the panel was fair because its makeup included witnesses on both sides of the issue.

But Franks’ response apparently didn’t allay the concerns of Conyers, who said he hopes Congress can hear the Justice Department to respond to the criticisms of Gallagher.
More at the Blade

Related post:

Is the Family Research Council finally a 'damaged' brand?

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Mykelb said...

Alvin, I sent a copy of the latest SPLC "Intelligence Report" to Rep. Nadler to put into the Congressional Record with his remarks to ensure that NOM is identified in the Record as an anti-gay hate group and that Maggie Gallagher and her minions are identified as bigots in our Nation's historical record.

michael said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE what Rep. Jerry Nadler had to say about the law, not to leave out ALL of the information he presented as to how the president did his job according to the law of the USA and could not be impeached because of his decision regarding Article 3 of DOMA. That man is a little bit of hope in the midst of the mobs of mordor.