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Posts Tagged ‘Senator Patrick Leahy’

21st July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that multiple media outlets are reporting upon the recent Senate hearings discussing the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide sufficient insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Lez Get Real, LezGetReal.com:

Al Franken looks bored. That is not surprising. Committee hearings are rather boring. The Senate Judiciary Committee has been hearing evidence both for and against repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. While the hearing heard testimony about the financial and symbolic damage that DOMA does to couples, it is unlikely that the Respect for Marriage Act will get anywhere in the House where the Republicans will ignore it. Heading up the push for the RFMA is Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. When DOMA first came in, Senator Leahy voted for it, but a decade and a half later, he has changed his mind and is pushing to end it. He has also hailed the decision by President Barack Obama to support the repeal of DOMA…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this interesting story. This blogger must admit that he was rather pleasantly surprised by the questioning posed by Senator Al Franken which can be viewed by clicking on the relevant links above.

Those unfamiliar with the currently unfolding debate involving DOMA should note that that legislation in its present form precludes those in a same sex marriage (even one solemnized and/or legalized by one of the sovereign American States) from receiving similar benefits compared to those in a different-sex marriage. For example, a same sex bi-national couple is unable to obtain visa benefits such as the K-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, or the CR-1 visa in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts. Meanwhile there are many other federal benefits that are not generally accorded to same sex partners. In order to provide further elucidation on these points it is necessary to quote directly from The New Civil Rights Movement website, TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com:

Immigration for Bi-​National Couples. Nearly 26,000 same-​sex couples in the United States are bi-​national couples who could be forced to separate because they cannot participate in green-​card and accelerated citizenship mechanisms offered to non-​citizen spouses of American citizens…There are 581,300 same-​sex couples in the United States, including 50,000 to 80,000 legally married same-​sex and another 85,000 who are in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships. Approximately 20% of same-​sex couples are raising nearly 250,000 children, and DOMA deprives them of the legal and social protections being married offers. Additionally, almost one-​fourth of same-​sex partners are people of color, over 7% of individuals in same-​sex couples are veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and same-​sex couples live in every congressional district and in almost every county in the United States…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click through the hyperlinks noted above to read this very insightful article in full.

It should be noted that in the United States House of Representatives legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) have been introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler in order to provide some sort of remedy to the current predicament faced by LGBT couples. As noted in the first excerpt quoted there is pessimism regarding the reaction of Republican legislators to the aforementioned proposed legislation. That stated, there are significant States’ Rights implications of these issues especially in light of the language regarding Full Faith and Credit in the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. Therefore, speculation regarding willful ignorance of issues pertaining to DOMA and the RFMA by the United States House of Representative may ultimately prove unfounded although vigilance may still be necessary in the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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13th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate is poised to hold a hearing to discuss the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) and a possible replacement piece of legislation referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act. To provide further information on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Washington Blade website, WashingtonBlade.com:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced that an anticipated hearing on legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act has been set for July 20. According to a notice, the hearing on DOMA repeal legislation, also known as the Respect for Marriage Act, will take place July 20 at 10 a.m. in Room 226 the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Witnesses who will testify will be announced in the coming days. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is co-sponsor of the legislation that would repeal DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. In the Senate, the legislation is sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above in order to read this article in detail.

In the context of American immigration the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) result in a situation where the LGBT community is subject to legal discrimination. For instance, same sex bi-national couples cannot receive the same visa benefits as their different-sex counterparts. Therefore, visas such as the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, and the IR-1 visa are not available to those who have a same sex partner or for those couples who have entered into a same sex marriage. This discrimination occurs even where the same sex couple in question has been married in one of the sovereign American States or the District of Columbia where same sex marriages are legalized and/or solemnized. Currently, pending legislation such as the aforementioned Respect for Marriage Act (introduced in the United States House of Representative by Representative Jerrold Nadler, who also introduced the Uniting American Families Act designed to deal specifically with the immigration implications of DOMA) and the Reuniting Families Act (introduced by Representative Mike Honda) would address certain aspects of DOMA. In fact, the Respect for Marriage Act is designed to provide a doctrine of “certainty” whereby those couples married in one of the sovereign American States which recognize such unions can rely upon federal recognition of such unions regardless of their physical location.

In news pertaining to business in China and the United States of America it recently came to this blogger’s attention that China may be poised to import as much as 2 million metric tons of American corn. In order to provide more specifics it is necessary to quote directly from an article written by Tom Polansek and posted to the website of the The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture raised its estimates for corn exports to China fourfold, another nod to the country’s rising demand in a market under strain. In addition, the amount of the grain used to make ethanol is expected to eclipse its use in animal feed in the U.S. for the first time ever. China is now forecast to import 2 million metric tons of U.S. corn in the next marketing year, which begins on Sept. 1, compared to the previous projection of 500,000 tons…Traders also point to China as the likely buyer behind hundreds of thousands of tons that the USDA lists as going to “unknown destinations.” “The increase in Chinese imports is likely lagging what is really going to happen,” said Joel Karlin, analyst for Western Milling, a producer of animal feed in California. The USDA left its estimates for export to China in the current crop year, which ends Aug. 31, unchanged at 1.5 million metric tons…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this story in detail.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for the regulation of American agricultural matters. This agency routinely publishes information related to the state of the American agricultural sector. It would appear that the rising demand from China for American agricultural products is not set to diminish anytime in the immediate future. The Chinese-American trade relationship is often noted for the fact that China exports a large amount of manufactured goods to America, but it seems as though less attention is paid to the amount of agricultural products which America provides to China. One issue on this blogger’s mind is the impact that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) might have upon the demand for American agricultural products. As this regional grouping becomes increasingly geopolitically and economically potent it stands to reason that demand for agricultural products from the ASEAN jurisdictions (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) may be on the rise. Hopefully any and all of these developments prove to be a boon to America’s farmers and agricultural community.

For information pertaining to same sex marriage recognition please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For information related to American company registration please see: US Company Registration.

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28th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a United States Senator introduced legislation designed to engage the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In order to provide further information regarding these developments it may be best to quote directly from the official website of The Nation, NationMultimedia.com:

United States Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Republican Leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today introduced legislation encouraging United States officials to initiate Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which presently accounts for the fourth largest export market of the United States. ”I am continuing my efforts to encourage the Obama Administration to announce a comprehensive and long-term strategy toward engaging ASEAN in FTA discussions,” Lugar said…

This blogger strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more on this story.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the ASEAN community is likely to become more economically important in an international context as time passes. Clearly, Senator Richard Lugar’s proposed legislation will have a significant impact upon the trade relations between the United States of America and the countries which make up ASEAN (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam). Assuming appropriate circumstances, it could be surmised that the United States and the ASEAN community could share a strong trade relationship notwithstanding the growing trade between the United States and countries of the so-called BRICS grouping which includes nations such as India and China. Hopefully the business relationship between the US and ASEAN continues to thrive as these issues are discussed among relevant legislators.

In other matters pertaining to the United States Senate, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that this legislative body was also the forum in which a new UAFA-inclusive piece of immigration legislation was introduced. To provide further insight into these events it may be prudent to quote directly from the website Care2.com:

U.S. Senators introduced Wednesday the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 which includes the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), legislation allowing U.S. nationals to sponsor their foreign-born same-sex partners for citizenship. The bill, introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) alongside Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John Kerry (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), has a UAFA-inclusive counterpart measure in the House as introduced by Representative Mike Honda (D-CA). LGBT groups including the Immigration Equality Action Fund praised the reintroduction of the legislation…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks note above to read more.

As the struggle for LGBT equality continues, legislation such as that noted above could have a significant positive impact upon the LGBT community. Importantly, the inclusion of language similar to the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a stand alone piece of legislation originally introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler in the House of Representatives, would permit same sex bi-national couples to petition for American family immigration benefits similar to those routinely granted to different sex bi-national couples. Currently, the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude such benefits from same sex couples even if a couple has entered into a same sex marriage in one of the sovereign American States that legalize and/or solemnize such unions. Hopefully this proposed legislation can gain traction and thereby end the current discrimination imposed upon same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Company Registration or Legal.

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23rd April 2011

Much to her credit Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once declared:

“Gay rights are human rights.”

Although this blogger may not have personally agreed with every one of the opinions espoused by Mrs. Clinton over the years, he can at least state that she has been a zealous and effective advocate, where possible, for the rights of the LGBT community. However, this blogger might add that the statement quoted above could be construed as incomplete.  In order to elucidate why this statement may be incomplete this blogger would need to quote directly from a recent posting on the website Lez Get Real:

Sen. Al Franken is the newest co-sponsor of legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate late last week that would give binational same-sex couples the same rights as married couples for immigration purposes. The Uniting American Families Act is authored by Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and is sponsored by 18 other Democrats. Even though same-sex marriage is legal in seven jurisdictions in the United States, couples in which one partner is not a citizen do not have any right under current federal law.

Frequent readers of this blog may recall that Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced similar legislation in the United States House of Representatives. To continue by quoting an interesting question raised in the previously cited posting on Lez Get Real:

DOMA’s repeal will enable gays and lesbians – same-sex spouses – to sponsor foreign spouses for green cards so why do we need both bills before an unfriendly house at the same time?

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read the full story on the website cited above in order to gain further insight and perspective into this posting.

The question above raises a great many issues that are both complex and, at times, controversial; but go to the heart of the current struggle to secure equal rights for all Americans under the law of the United States of America.  Getting back to Mrs. Clinton’s remark: it is perhaps incomplete because it fails to take into consideration the rights of the Several States. The United States Constitution is composed of 50 co-equal sovereign States as well as a Federal government which has enumerated powers to perform certain functions while reserving the residual inalienable rights to the States and the People respectively. One of the rights which the States have always reserved unto themselves is the right to legalize and/or solemnize a marriage within their jurisdiction. Notwithstanding this fact, the United States Federal government decided to pass legislation referred to colloquially as The “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). By doing so, they rode roughshod over the rights of the States to make decisions regarding the intra-State definition of marriage and how State sanctioned marriages between two people of the same sex would be treated by other States (including the Federal government which is a separate sovereign from the 50 States), but at that time this was not readily apparent due to the fact that States had yet to change the law regarding what constitutes a marriage.

To shed more light upon these issues it may be best to quote directly from an extremely insightful article on the subject of Full Faith and Credit by Justice Robert H. Jackson and posted on the website, RobertHJackson.org:

By other articles of the Constitution our forefathers created a political union among otherwise independent and sovereign states. By other provisions, too, they sought to integrate the economic life of the country. By the full faith and credit clause they sought to federalize the separate and independent state legal systems by the overriding principle of reciprocal recognition of public acts, records, and judicial proceedings. It was placed foremost among those measures(n69) which would guard the new political and economic union against the disintegrating influence of provincialism in jurisprudence, but without aggrandizement of federal power at the expense of the states.

To quote the Full Faith and Credit Clause directly:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Some have discussed the issue of Full Faith and Credit at length with this blogger and cite the quotation above noting that Congress does have the power to prescribe laws regarding the “Effect” of State legislation. This blogger would concur with such an assessment, but the current provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) do not merely regulate the Effect of duly solemnized and legalized same sex marriage in the States which allow such unions, but instead DOMA makes such legislation wholly INEFFECTIVE because that law simply refuses to recognize the validity of same sex unions. In this blogger’s opinion this is clearly violative of the U.S. Constitution as true Full Faith and Credit has not been accorded to same sex marriages legalized within those sovereign States.

In Justice Jackson’s concurring opinion in the case of Youngstown Steel & Tube Co. v. Sawyer the following framework was created for analyzing executive action:

In determining whether the executive has authority, there are three general circumstances:

  1. When the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, the President’s authority is at its greatest.
  2. When the President acts in the absence of either a congressional grant or denial of authority, he can only rely upon his own independent powers, but there is a zone in which he and Congress may have concurrent authority. When this is the case, the test depends on the imperatives of events and contemporary imponderables rather than on abstract theories of law.
  3. When the President takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress, the authority of the President is at its lowest.

This blogger asks that readers click on the hyperlinks above to understand this case further.

To continue analyzing this issue: it is this blogger’s opinion that States’ Rights issues in connection with Full Faith and Credit could be analyzed in a similar manner to the first prong of the analysis used by Justice Jackson to adjudicate Presidential authority. When the Sovereign States act pursuant to an express or implied authorization of their legislatures or pursuant to the will of the People (ex. a State referendum), then shouldn’t the greatest amount of Full Faith and Credit be accorded to the laws created therefrom? Why does the Federal government get to override sovereign prerogatives clearly reserved to the States and the People, respectively? Clearly, from the plain language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause Congress can make rules regarding the regulation of the Effect of such legislation on other States which do not have similar prerogatives, but, in this blogger’s opinion, the Federal government simply cannot unilaterally overrule, either preemptively or after the fact, State prerogatives simply by citing their power to regulate the Effect of such prerogatives.

To get back to the issue of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) vs. repeal of DOMA (either outright or through a statute similar to the Respect for Marriage Act). In this blogger’s opinion the reason that both of these bills are on the floor stems from the inherent tensions which arise as a result of the fact that the USA uses a federal system within her Constitution providing concurrent jurisdiction for 1 Federal government as well as 50 State sovereigns. Institutions within government, especially the US Federal government, are often loathe to give up power. By recognizing that refutation of marriages solemnized and legalized within sovereign State jurisdiction is outside of their bailiwick the Federal government could be construed to have conceded to a practical loss of authority on such issues (which this blogger believes that they do not have to begin with).

Concurrently, there are sound political reasons for having both bills out there on the floor of the Federal legislature. One, it provides a better chance of seeing at least some progress on this issue. If a DOMA repeal is not possible within this session, but passage of UAFA can occur, why not take it? At the very least passage of UAFA could lead to reunification of same sex bi-national couples who are geographically separated due to the provisions of DOMA. Therefore, this blogger would argue that such a strategy is sound, but those within the LGBT should not lose sight of the ultimate goal: full equality under the law. IF UAFA can be secured along the way, all the better, but mere passage of that legislation should not be viewed as the end of the struggle.

To sum up, the issues associated with accordance of Full Faith and Credit to same sex marriages solemnized and legalized by a sovereign State with appropriate jurisdiction are myriad and few, if any, have been resolved, but they continue to be some of the most interesting issues to be currently debated in the realm of U.S. Constitutional law. In conclusion, although it is not debatable in this blogger’s mind that Gay Rights are Human Rights. Perhaps Gay Rights are States’ Rights as well?

For related information please see: Same Sex Visa.

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