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ADA

Miss the ADA Banquet?  Watch it Now!

Last week, ADA celebrated its 66th Annual Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C, honoring three progressive heroes:  U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (Chairman, Senate HELP Committee), Neera Tanden (President, Center for American Progress), and Rashad Robinson (Executive Director, ColorofChange.org).  Watch it now here, and see photo highlights from the event on ADA’s Facebook or Flickr page.

SCOTUS Explained

Last week marked a truly historic week of rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.  While we're disturbed by the Court's decision to strike down a key component of the Voting Rights Act (a key legislative achievement of the civil rights movement), we can celebrate two critical victories for the marriage equality movement.  In short, here’s what happened:

Voting Rights Act: In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court ruled in a partisan 5-4 decision that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. Section 4 contained the formula that determined whether certain states, counties, and municipalities were to have their voting laws “precleared” by the Department of Justice. Thankfully, the Court upheld Sections 2 and 5, which respectively ban voting discrimination and establish the preclearance process. This decision opens the floodgates for states with a history of voter suppression efforts to institute discriminatory policies such as restrictive voter ID requirements, limited ballot translation for non-native speakers, moving polling places, and reducing early voting.   
 
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):  In United States v. Windsor, the Court ruled 5-4 that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional since it does not provide equal protection to all.  This decision will open up federal benefits, such as the ability to jointly file taxes, to married LGBT couples in states with marriage equality legislation.  However, the decisions do not extend federal benefits to couples in civil unions. The Administration needs to clarify that married LGBT couples can still receive federal benefits when they move to states that forbid LGBT marriages.   
 
Proposition 8:  Hollingsworth v. Perry, was decided on grounds of standing.  This means that the group of citizens who petitioned the case to the Supreme Court after the state of California refused to defend Prop 8 did not have standing to bring the case since they could not demonstrate actual injury or harm. The case was sent back to the lower courts and ordered to be dismissed; thus ended California’s marriage equality ban. While not the sweeping victory many were hoping for—a ruling that banning gay marriage in any state was unconstitutional—this case nonetheless was another major victory for marriage equality.

Noteworthy:

  • ADA kicked off its new ADA Northern Indiana chapter in Goshen, Indiana. The new chapter will be self-directed and address local, state and national issues. For more information on joining the Northern Indiana ADA chapter, please contact jeremy@adaction.org.
  • A recent column in the Washington Post, by Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler of the group Third Way, takes aim at progressives who believe that Washington’s constant focus on cutting Social Security and Medicare is misplaced. Bob Lucore explains why that article is misguided and misleading in his latest blog, "Entitlement" Cutters Need To Get Real.

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