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Equality Matters Picks Of The Week, November 7-11, 2011

November 11, 2011 5:32 pm ET by Equality Matters staff

Equality Matters staff offers our picks for the most interesting, outrageous, or thought provoking stories of the week:

  • Ellen DeGeneres Named Special Envoy For Global Aids Awareness. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named Ellen DeGeneres a Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness on Tuesday. According to a release from the White House:

In this role, Ms. DeGeneres will use her celebrity platform to raise awareness about the global fight against AIDS.  In a letter to Ms. DeGeneres, Secretary Clinton stated, “By lending us your energy, compassion, and star power to serve as our Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness, your words will encourage Americans in joining you to make their voices heard in our campaign to achieve an AIDS-free generation.”

  • NOM Ditches Its “Let The People Vote” Mantra. After recognizing that New Hampshire voters would likely reject an effort to repeal the state’s marriage equality, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) decided to abandon a constitutional amendment and support legislative repeal instead. So much for listening to the 'will of the people.'
  • Equality Maine Moves Ahead In Fight For Marriage Equality. Equality Maine announced Wednesday that it has secured enough signatures to move their fight for marriage equality to the 2012 state ballot. The group has collected approximately 100,000 signatures, more than the roughly 57,000 needed to qualify.
  • Third Way Launches “Commitment Campaign” For Marriage Equality. On Monday, Third Way launched a new campaign to reshape the debate over marriage equality. The “Commitment Campaign” is based on extensive research focusing on how to move “the middle” on the issue of marriage. Lanae Erickson, Third Way’s Deputy Director of the Social Policy and Politics Program, joined the Equality Matters podcast this week to discuss the new effort.
  • NOM Loses Important Race In Iowa. On Tuesday – as part of a wave of wins for pro-equality candidates – Democrat candidate Liz Mathis won Iowa’s special state Senate election, allowing Democrats to retain control of the chamber. Mathis’ victory was a major setback for NOM, which pumped tens of thousands of dollars into her opponent’s campaign. Hours before the election, voters received anti-gay phone calls attacking Mathis for her support for marriage equality, which NOM claimed to know nothing about. Despite the defeat, NOM remains committed to denying gay Iowans the right to marry.
  • Senate Committee Advances DOMA Repeal Law. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 on Wednesday to advance the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The vote followed party lines, with Republicans using a litany of arguments to defend the discriminatory law. Gay rights groups celebrated the vote, despite the bill’s extremely dim prospects in the House and full Senate.
  • Michigan State Senator Slams Religious Exemptions In Anti-Bullying Law. Last week, Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) condemned Republicans for inserting a religious exemption into proposed anti-bullying legislation, calling it a “Republican license to bully.” She followed up her speech with a moving YouTube video and an appearance on MSNBC Live this week. Stephen Colbert mocked the religious exemption on his show Wednesday night. The exemption isn’t expected to survive changes from the state House.
  • NOM’s Self-Victimization Claims Rejected In Court. Last month, NOM lost a suit against California’s campaign finance disclosure laws. In the suit, NOM claimed that disclosing its Proposition 8 contributors' names would expose those contributors to harassment and intimidation from gay rights activists. In an opinion filed last Friday, U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. dismissed that claim, writing that NOM’s “limited evidence is simply insufficient” to prove the group’s horror stories. 

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