Lear’s PFAW Pressures Gov to Get Rid of Marriage Ban
Norman Lear is the only man in the world who has won an Emmy Award, an Academy Award, a Television Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Peabody Award, an award from the American Humanist Association, his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and most notably the National Medal of Arts from Bill Clinton.
But none of those awards can come close to the impact he’s had as the founder of People for the American Way (PFAW). A really big fan of the Declaration of Independence, Lear founded PFAW in 1981 on the notion that we as Americans must “strengthen the common cords that connect us as humans and citizens” and to “nurture a national climate that encourages and enhances the human spirit rather than one which divides people into hostile camps.”
On Wednesday Aug 11, PFAW announced with a new petition website that it is officially time to “Dump DOMA” – the Defense of Marriage Act. This was undoubtedly moved forward as an agenda for PFAW at least in part by the recent Federal ruling that California’s similarly worded Proposition 8 was unconstitutional.
The Defense of Marriage Act was written by and introduced to the House of Representatives by then-Republican Bob Barr and it was signed into law by President Bill Clinton – who had also awarded Lear his National Medal of Arts. The primary function of DOMA is to prevent gays from claiming marriage rights on any Federal level. By 2008, Bob Barr – who was running for President on a Libertarian Ticket - and Bill Clinton had both changed their minds about the Act and apologized for the bill.
“It’s becoming clear that the walls excluding LGBT Americans from equality under the law are coming tumbling down,” reads PFAW’s petition site, “The Judges and state legislatures who have come down on the side of equality are doing their jobs -- now Congress and the President need to do theirs. Take action now to make sure that President Obama and Congress eliminate DOMA.”
President Obama has said that he would make repealing DOMA a priority during his administration. However, some news sources such as ABC News and the Huffington Post have reported Obama’s Justice Department as “defending” DOMA behind the scenes in the past.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid is addressed in the petition along with other influential majority leaders. He voted Yes on DOMA when it was passed in 1996 and has not made the issue a priority since.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, was one of the few House Members who initially voted against DOMA becoming law in the first place along with two colleagues from Florida; Alcee Hastings and Carrie P. Meek (mother of current Senate candidate Kendrick Meek).