Federal Government Treating Same-Sex Marriage Same As Opposite-Sex Marriage In More Areas

The United States has clearly, even if slowly, been moving towards marriage equality–at least in the blue states and in the eyes of the federal government. The Department of Justice has issued new policies to provide equal legal treatment to people in same-sex marriage as heterosexual couples:

The federal government will soon treat married same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples when they file for bankruptcy, testify in court or visit family in prison.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was preparing to issue policies aimed at eliminating the distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex married couples in the federal criminal justice system, according to excerpts from a speech prepared for a Saturday event organized by a prominent gay-rights group.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages,” Mr. Holder’s prepared remarks said, according to the excerpts circulated by the Justice Department.

The changes were set in motion last year when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to married same-sex couples, a ruling that Mr. Holder supported.

Gay-rights advocates welcomed the changes but had hoped Mr. Holder would use his address before the Human Rights Campaign to announce that the president would sign an order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

“That would be big,” said Gary Buseck, legal director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

Since the Supreme Court ruling in June, the Obama administration has rewritten federal rules to allow same-sex couples to file taxes together and receive Medicare and other benefits reserved for married couples. Mr. Holder has been the public face of those efforts and has made championing gay rights one of the central messages of his tenure…

It seems like such equal treatment under Federal law should not be an issue. If we see members of one party disagree, we will see once again which party is interested in imposing antiquated religious views upon others. (Hint: the party which claims to be the party of small government.) Actually I’m not certain there will be all that much protest. While the Republicans have taken advantage of homophobia among the far right in past elections, they seem to realize they are now losing on this one. They are facing so many battles on the culture wars in which they are on the losing side, they just might give up on this one.

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The Tea Party Would See Ronald Reagan As A Socialist If He Was Here Today

Over the last few years I’ve pointed out several times that Barry Goldwater, with his support for individual liberty and opposition to the religious right, would not get along with today’s conservative movement. The right wing is moving so far right so quickly that the Tea Party supporters would see Ronald Reagan as a socialist if they actually had any knowledge about his policies.

If the Tea Party sees a pro-business, pro-capitalism liberal such as Barack Obama as a socialist after all his tax cuts, imagine what they would think of  a president who presided over a federal government with significantly higher tax rates than today and who raised taxes while in office.  Will Bunch listed five myths about Ronald Reagan, including the myth that Reagan was a tax cutter:

Certainly, Reagan’s boldest move as president was his 1981 tax cut, a sweeping measure that slashed the marginal rate on the wealthiest Americans from 70 percent to 50 percent. The legislation also included smaller cuts in lower tax brackets, as well as big breaks for corporations and the oil industry. But the following year, as the economy was mired in recession and the federal deficit was spiraling out of control, even groups such as the Business Roundtable lobbied Reagan to raise taxes. And he did: The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 was, at the time, the largest peacetime tax increase in U.S. history.

Ultimately, Reagan signed measures that increased federal taxes every year of his two-term presidency except the first and the last. These included a higher gasoline levy, a 1986 tax reform deal that included the largest corporate tax increase in American history, and a substantial raise in payroll taxes in 1983 as part of a deal to keep Social Security solvent. While wealthy Americans benefitted from Reagan’s tax policies, blue-collar Americans paid a higher percentage of their income in taxes when Reagan left office than when he came in.

Think Progress also looked at Reagan’s record in raising taxes:

Reagan was a serial tax raiser. As governor of California, Reagan “signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up till then.” Meanwhile, state spending nearly doubled. As president, Reagan “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years. As former GOP Senator Alan Simpson, who called Reagan “a dear friend,” told NPR, “Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his administration — I was there.” “Reagan was never afraid to raise taxes,” said historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited Reagan’s memoir. Reagan the anti-tax zealot is “false mythology,” Brinkley said.

Think Progress also pointed out how Reagan nearly tripled the deficit, how unemployment jumped over ten percent after his initial tax cut, and how income inequality exploded. Well, the Tea Party supports policies aimed at increasing income inequality further, but I’m not sure how many of them understand this.

The right wing might also be unhappy about someone with Reagan’s actual record for reasons beyond his economic policies. He gave amnesty to three million undocumented aliens. On foreign policy, Reagan supported nuclear disarmament and negotiated arms reductions treaties with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He generally opposed military retaliation for terrorist acts, even calling the death of innocent civilians in anti-terror operations “terrorism itself.” While his rhetoric supported the culture wars, Reagan, like other Republican leaders before Bush, generally avoided actual legislative support for their policies. Reagan even wound up helping to preserve Row v. Wade by appointing  Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court.

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Next Front In The Culture War: Contraception

The next battle in the “culture wars” might be over contraception. The right had some victories in restricting abortion during the health care reform debate, but Dana Goldstein warns of efforts on the right to restrict access to contraception:

Could prescription birth control—whether the pill, an IUD, or a diaphragm—soon be free of cost for most American women?

Polls suggest the majority of Americans would support such a policy. But the Daily Beast has learned that many conservative activists, who spent most of their energies during the health-care reform fight battling to win abortion restrictions and abstinence-education funding, are just waking up to the possibility that the new health care law could require employers and insurance companies to offer contraceptives, along with other commonly prescribed medications, without charging any co-pay. Now the Heritage Foundation and the National Abstinence Education Association say they plan to join the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in resisting implementation of the new provisions…

Reproductive-rights advocates are openly lobbying the Obama administration to enact the birth control changes quickly, citing the United States’ high rates of teenage and unintended pregnancy—the highest in the developed world.

“It would be a disaster for women’s health” to exclude contraception from the new requirements for insurers, said Kelly Blanchard, president of Ibis Reproductive Health, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research organization.

Matthew Yglesias points out that this is a battle worth engaging in :

Politically speaking, I think this is the fight progressives have been wanting to have for some time now—something that would highlight the deeply reactionary and anti-woman ideology that drives the main institutional players in the anti-abortion movement.

Plus it would highlight the different attitudes on the left and right on government controlling the lives of individuals. After all, many on the right desire not only to ban government funding of abortion and birth control but to actually prohibit abortion and birth control.

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Mike Huckabee Swears To Continue The American Taliban Movement

Mike Huckabee wants to keep the culture wars alive and doesn’t like the suggestion from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels that the next president should drop the social issues and concentrate on fiscal problems. Huckabee responded:

Apparently, a 2012 Republican presidential prospect in an interview with a reporter has made the suggestion that the next President should call for a “truce” on social issues like abortion and traditional marriage to focus on fiscal problems.
In other words, stop fighting to end abortion and don’t make protecting traditional marriage a priority.
Let me be clear though, the issue of life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor are they political issues. They are moral issues. I didn’t get involved in politics just to lower taxes and cut spending though I believe in both and have done it as a Governor. But I want to stay true to the basic premises of our civilization.
Are you ready to stop fighting for traditional marriage?  I cannot.  I will not.
Can you let the tragedy of abortion go unchecked while we get our financial house in order?  I cannot.  I will not.

What would the Republicans be without the culture wars–their attempt to fight the modern world and impose their religious views upon everyone else? As Joe Klein pointed out earlier this week, the whole Republican fiscal conservative line is a farce which they have neither the interest or ability to carry out. However using the power of government to impose their perverse moral code upon others is something which today’s Republican Party can stand behind.

Really cut the budget–will never happen under the borrow and spend Republicans. Have government control the bodies of women–Republicans are all for it.

Actually pay for their wars–never. Tell others who they may or may not legally marry–a “right” Republicans will fight to defend.

Conservatives like Mike Huckabee will makes sure that the American Taliban does not go away.


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