Largest bankruptcy court blasts DOMA

The largest federal bankruptcy court in the United States on Monday ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution. In a strongly worded decision, the 20 judges participating in the decision, ruled unanimously that “there is no valid governmental basis for DOMA.”

The largest federal bankruptcy court in the United States on Monday ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution. In a strongly worded decision, the 20 judges participating in the decision, ruled unanimously that “there is no valid governmental basis for DOMA.”

The case, in re Balas, involves a gay male couple in California who filed for joint bankruptcy protection as a married couple. But the U.S. Department of Justice’s Trustee (known as the U.S. Trustee), who has oversight on bankruptcy cases, asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, in Los Angeles, to dismiss the case. The Trustee said the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) precludes the court from recognizing the couple’s marriage.

Gene Balas and Carlos Morales were legally married in California in 2008 and are still legally married, despite the enactment of Proposition 8. In February, after struggling against serious illnesses and unemployment, they filed a joint petition for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The code provides for any individual and his or her spouse to file a joint application.

“The Debtors,” said the court, referring to the couple, “have demonstrated that DOMA violates their equal protection rights afforded under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, either under heightened scrutiny or under rational basis review. Debtors also have demonstrated that there is no valid governmental basis for DOMA. In the end, the court finds that DOMA violates the equal protection rights of the Debtors as recognized under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

The 24-page decision underscored the judges’ opinion about the unfairness of DOMA, essentially chastising Congress for having passed DOMA.

“Although individual members of Congress have every right to express their views and the views of their constituents with respect to their religious beliefs and principles and their personal standards of who may marry whom,” said the decision, “this court cannot conclude that Congress is entitled to solemnize such views in the laws of this nation in disregard of the views, legal status and living arrangements of a significant segment of our citizenry that includes the Debtors in this case.

In its decision, the court’s panel noted that House Speaker John Boehner’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group asked to submit arguments in the matter but did not do so.

Motion to vacate Proposition 8 ruling seems unlikely

SAN FRANCISCO – It now seems unlikely that a federal judge will vacate a landmark decision in which a gay judge ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Vaughn Walker

SAN FRANCISCO – It now seems unlikely that a federal judge will vacate a landmark decision in which a gay judge ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. The evidence? U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware said, following a three-hour hearing Monday, that he plans to issue his ruling concerning a motion to vacate within 24 hours.

Judges typically take months to write decisions of consequence, and a decision to vacate the August 2010 ruling from former Judge Vaughn Walker declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional would be of enormous consequence. To expect that Judge Ware would write in 24 hours a decision that would undo two years of litigation—including issues pending now before the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court—seems unlikely.

And, there was little in Judge Ware’s questioning of Yes on 8 attorney Charles Cooper during the June 13 hearing in federal court in San Francisco to give proponents of Proposition 8 much to hang their hopes upon.

Ware noted that it is an unusual event when a judge is put in the position of deciding whether a colleague should have recused himself. Judge Vaughn Walker, in August 2010, ruled that the state ban on marriage licenses for same-sex couples violates the federal constitutional guarantees to equal protection and due process. Eight months after that ruling and two months after retiring from the bench, Walker acknowledged to reporters that he himself is gay and that he has been in a relationship for the past 10 years with a man.

The courtroom erupted in laughter Monday morning when Yes on 8 attorney Cooper said that Walker should have disclosed to attorneys before the January 2010 trial on Proposition 8 not only that he had been in a relationship with a man but that he had no interest in marrying that man. Cooper argued that Walker’s longtime relationship was circumstantial proof that Walker would benefit from a ruling that enabled same-sex couples to marry.

Ware challenged Cooper to explain how a longtime relationship constitutes proof that Walker would benefit from such a ruling, noting, “you can be in a longtime relationship without being in it for purposes of marriage.”

But a “reasonable person,” said Cooper, could believe the judge had a potential to benefit from a ruling striking Proposition 8. And Walker’s relationship put him a position “precisely” the same as the two plaintiff couples in the case.

The U.S. Code dealing with “Judiciary and Judicial Procedure” states that “Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” It also states that a judge “shall also disqualify himself” if “He knows that he … has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy … or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding….”

“What fact would you have court rely on to know that Judge Walker wanted to change his relationship [and marry, as the two plaintiff couples sought to do]?” asked Ware.

“It’s common sense,” said Cooper, “and a reasonable person would conclude that Judge Walker had an interest in marrying.”

“So, there are no facts to suggest Judge Walker wanted to change his relationship to marriage,” stated Ware.

Cooper then sought to persuade the judge that the very fact that Walker did not disclose his relationship to attorneys and did not disclose whether he had any interest in marrying the man reasonably called Walker’s impartiality into question.

“But how does failure to disclose serve as evidence that he wanted to change the relationship?” pressed Ware.

Ted Boutrous, an attorney on the legal team headed by high-profile political attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, said Cooper had no evidence and that Walker was under no obligation to disclose either his sexual orientation or his relationship.

“Where would the disclosure requirements stop?” he asked.

Boutrous also refuted Cooper’s contention that it would be reasonable to presume Walker was “similarly situated” with plaintiffs and wanted to marry his longtime partner.

“Just because people are gay doesn’t mean they’re all alike,” said Boutrous. “Some do want to marry, some don’t…. There is no evidence that Judge Walker intended to get married.”

Judge Walker was not in the courtroom Monday. Judge Ware had excused him from appearing on a second motion before the court—one to require that all copies of the videotape of last year’s trial be turned over to the court. Walker turned over the videotapes and requested to be excused from appearing.

Interestingly, Ware started off discussion of the motion concerning the videotapes by disclosing that, as the court’s new chief judge, he had presented Walker, the retiring Chief Justice, with a personal copy of the trial’s videotape during Walker’s retirement ceremony. Ware started off discussion of the motion to vacate by informing Cooper that he had presided over the marriage of a same-sex couple. Cooper made no response to the same-sex marriage ceremony, but said he would not consider the presentation of the videotapes during the retirement ceremony to be grounds for Ware to recuse himself from this matter.

After hearing brief arguments, Ware ruled from the bench and rejected Yes on 8’s request to have all copies of the videotape turned over to the court. He indicated he would, at a later date, hear arguments on a motion from plaintiffs seeking to allow public release of the videotapes. Ware said he hoped to have a written decision concerning the motion to vacate on the court’s website within 24 hours.

Gates could certify this month

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that he may be able to certify the military’s readiness to enact repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before he retires from office June 30.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that he may be able to certify the military’s readiness to enact repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before he retires from office June 30.

Gates made his remarks in an interview with Associated Press, and Gates’ exact quote on the matter was not conveyed. But according to the AP report, Gates indicated that he sees no hurdles to certification and that, if his military branch chiefs say they are ready to implement repeal, he will certify it.

Pentagon officials had predicted they would be ready to certify the military’s readiness to enact repeal in mid-summer; but, the Marine Corps—which had given itself the deadline of May 30—missed its deadline. A Marine spokesperson did not respond to a reporter’s call for explanation.

The measure passed by Congress and signed by President Obama last December to repeal the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers calls for repeal to take place 60 days after the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President each send written certification to Congress, saying the repeal can take place without jeopardizing military readiness.

The House recently passed language seeking to require written certification from each of the branch chiefs, which many believe would slow down certification. But that measure is not expected to pass the Senate. Though it could become a bargaining chip once the Senate-House conference committee on the National Defense Authorization Act convenes, it could become moot, if Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen certify before then. Mullen is scheduled to retire October 1.

‘Traditional values’ take a slip in the polls

“Traditional values” didn’t do too well in the latest CNN poll of American adults. For the first time in 18 years since the question has been asked, the percentage of adults thinking that the government should “promote traditional values” dropped below 50 percent.

“Traditional values” didn’t do too well in the latest CNN poll of American adults. For the first time in 18 years since the question has been asked, the percentage of adults thinking that the government should “promote traditional values” dropped below 50 percent.

Of the 1,015 adults surveyed between June 3 to 7, 46 percent said the government should promote traditional values, 50 percent said government should “not favor any set of values.” Four percent had no opinion. The survey results, which were released Sunday, June 12, had a margin of error of plus or minus three points.

Just last year, 53 percent of respondents said government should promote “traditional values” and, according to CNN, past polls have shown support as high as 59 percent (in October 2001 and January 1996).

But since the question was first asked, in 1993, responses have fluctuated dramatically. In 2001, for instance, the question was asked in September and again in October. In September 2001, 53 percent said government should promote “traditional valutes;” in October, 59 percent said so.

The previous low point for traditional values came in September 2005, when only 50 percent of adults said government should promote them.

CNN did not explain what it meant by “traditional values,” but in political discourse, it emerged as code for “anti-gay.” The right-wing Traditional Values Coalition defines traditional values as including the view that homosexuality is an abomination, but also includes views that are anti-abortion, pro-death penalty, and pro-religion.

Some polls have asked questions concerning “traditional marriages,” usually seeking respondents’ views on allowing same-sex couples to marry. Two years ago, Fox News asked, “Do you think straight people in your community who have traditional religious values are tolerant of gays and lesbians and their beliefs?” Sixty-seven percent said they think straight people in their communities are “very tolerant” or “somewhat tolerant.”

CNN’s question was asked this year along with questions concerning Republican candidates for president, in preview of CNN’s debate Monday night with seven GOP contenders. CNN asked survey participants to express their opinions on 10 potential candidates. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has suggested he might run, had the highest favorability ranking. Fifty-five percent of adults surveyed said they had a favorable opinion of Giuliani. He was followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 39 percent and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas with 34 percent. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin earned the highest “unfavorability” rating. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion of the former Alaska governor. Palin was followed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; 44 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion of him.

Interestingly, the respondents also identified Palin as the Republican who represents values of Republicans.

The Democratic Party fared better than the Republican Party in the poll. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party; only 49 percent had a favorable view of the GOP.

Olson-Boies won’t be in court Monday

Famed attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies will not be in a San Francisco courtroom Monday when attorneys in the landmark Proposition 8 case square off once again.

This time, the fight is over a motion to vacate the ruling August 2010 by federal district court Judge Vaughn Walker, and over whether Walker must leave videotapes of the trial sequestered permanently with the court.

Famed attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies will not be in a San Francisco courtroom Monday when attorneys in the landmark Proposition 8 case square off once again.

This time, the fight is over a motion to vacate the ruling August 2010 by federal district court Judge Vaughn Walker, and over whether Walker must leave videotapes of the trial sequestered permanently with the court.

Olson said in a telephone conference with reporters Friday, June 10, that he is needed on a hearing in a 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals case concerning copyrights and can’t make it to San Francisco for the June 13 hearing.

Arguing both issues for the Olson-Boies team will be another of its star attorneys, Theodore Boutrous, of Olson’s law firm. Boutrous, who was on Friday’s phone conference, said the Yes on 8 motion to vacate Walker’s ruling—over the fact that Walker has been in a relationship for 10 years with a man—is a “desperate play” and a “publicity stunt.” But he said, nonetheless, that he was not surprised Chief Judge James Ware decided to give Yes on 8 attorneys a chance to argue their motion in court.

Boutrous said he believes Yes on 8 attorneys “knew from the very beginning” of the Proposition 8 trial in January 2010 that Walker was gay.

“This was no secret,” said Boutrous.

Asked whether the Olson-Boies team knew Walker was gay, Olson said, “We heard what people thought.” But Olson said his legal team “uniformly agreed” that Walker was an experienced, highly respected judge, “and we were entirely comfortable” with the expectation of a fair hearing.

Asked whether they anticipated the possibility Yes on 8 might argue that Walker had something to gain from ruling against Proposition 8, Olson said, “Everyone in California would have something to gain by getting rid of Proposition 8.”

“It would set a dangerous precedent,” continued Olson, if judges were expected to reveal information about their personal relationships in taking on cases.

“What if a judge is a Mormon? Or had son or daughter who was gay?” asked Olson. “There are an unlimited number of permutations of what could be disclosed.”

Boutrous said there is a possibility Ware will choose to issue a ruling on the motions in court, following argument.

The hearing begins at 9 a.m. PDT time Monday, June 13.

Grassley grills lesbian nominee for federal court

Lesbian judicial nominee Alison Nathan told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that, despite her relative youth and inexperience, she thinks she is well qualified to be a U.S. District Court judge.

Lesbian judicial nominee Alison Nathan told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that, despite her relative youth and inexperience, she thinks she is well qualified to be a U.S. District Court judge.

Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa challenged Nathan about her qualifications during the June 8 hearing, noting that the American Bar Association’s proposed standards for judicial nominees suggest “at least 12 years’ experience in the practice of law” and “substantial courtroom and trial experience.”

The question was one that was also raised against Goodwin Liu, a professor of law nominated to serve on the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and against other female nominees appearing with Nathan before the committee June 8.

What Grassley did not mention, but the ABA Committee guidelines also recommend, is that the ABA sees merit in “experience that is similar to in-court trial work—such as appearing before or serving on administrative agencies or arbitration boards, or teaching trial advocacy or other clinical law school courses….” This similar experience, say the ABA guidelines, “may compensate for a prospective nominee’s lack of substantial courtroom experience.”

“In addition,” say the ABA guidelines, “in evaluating a prospective nominee’s professional experience, the Committee may take into consideration whether opportunities for advancement in the profession for women and members of minority groups were limited.”

The majority of ABA members who provide guidance to the Senate concerning nominees characterized Nathan as “qualified,” but a minority said she was “not qualified.”

Nathan obtained her law degree from Cornell Law School in 2000 and was admitted to the bar of New York in 2003 and the bar of Washington, D.C. in 2004. She served as Associate White House Counsel from January 2009 to July 2010 and as special counsel to the New York State Solicitor General since September 2010. She was also a visiting assistant professor of law at Fordham University Law School from 2006 to 2008.

“I do believe I am qualified based on the set of experiences I have had and the set of skills that I have,” said Nathan in response to Grassley’s question.

Grassley also questioned Nathan’s 2006 opposition to a bill in Congress that would allow foreign citizens accused of terrorist acts to be tried by military tribunal, instead of receiving the rights to trial afforded to civilians in the United States. The legislation, which passed and was signed into law by President George W. Bush, also allowed coerced testimony and disallowed defendants exculpatory evidence known to the government.

“Do you still believe that the Bush administration heralded September 11 as the day our nation lost ‘the fundamental principles of structure of our constitutional heritage’?” asked Grassley, quoting from Nathan’s writing.

“I don’t believe that’s the case,” said Nathan. “I wrote that commentary in the role of somebody advocating … to the Congress for a particular piece of legislation. I have not kept up as an expert in this area of law. There’s obviously been a great deal of development since then…I’d certainly follow the Supreme Court’s guidance.” But Nathan added, “It’s important to our national security for there to be judges who follow the law in this area to the extent question come before then and that Congress act as it has in this area.”

Asked about appropriate judicial temperament, Nathan said a federal judge should have a temperament that is “without bias,” is “open to argument,” and is “forceful in the application and adherence to rule of law.”

Grassley asked Nathan whether she would recuse herself from any terrorism case that might come before her. She said she would “scrupulously follow” the U.S. Code governing judicial conduct and its recusal requirements.

Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), who presided over Wednesday’s hearing, read into the record a letter from 27 of Nathan’s co-clerks at the U.S. Supreme Court, including clerks for Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Nathan clerked for former Justice John Paul Stevens.

During the introductions for the hearing, Nathan introduced her “partner” Meg Satterthwaite and other members of her family, including her two-year-old twin sons.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), who recommended Nathan’s nomination to the Obama administration, introduced Nathan “gifted young lawyer.”

Grassley grills lesbian nominee for federal court

Lesbian judicial nominee Alison Nathan told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that, despite her relative youth and inexperience, she thinks she is well qualified to be a U.S. District Court judge.

Lesbian judicial nominee Alison Nathan told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that, despite her relative youth and inexperience, she thinks she is well qualified to be a U.S. District Court judge.

Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa challenged Nathan about her qualifications during the June 8 hearing, noting that the American Bar Association’s proposed standards for judicial nominees suggest “at least 12 years’ experience in the practice of law” and “substantial courtroom and trial experience.”

The question was one that was also raised against Goodwin Liu, a professor of law nominated to serve on the 9thCircuit U.S. Court of Appeals and against other female nominees appearing with Nathan before the committee June 8.

What Grassley did not mention, but the ABA Committee guidelines also recommend, is that the ABA sees merit in “experience that is similar to in-court trial work—such as appearing before or serving on administrative agencies or arbitration boards, or teaching trial advocacy or other clinical law school courses….” This similar experience, say the ABA guidelines, “may compensate for a prospective nominee’s lack of substantial courtroom experience.”

“In addition,” say the ABA guidelines, “in evaluating a prospective nominee’s professional experience, the Committee may take into consideration whether opportunities for advancement in the profession for women and members of minority groups were limited.”

The majority of ABA members who provide guidance to the Senate concerning nominees characterized Nathan as “qualified,” but a minority said she was “not qualified.”

Nathan obtained her law degree from Cornell Law School in 2000 and was admitted to the bar of New York in 2003 and the bar of Washington, D.C. in 2004. She served as Associate White House Counsel from January 2009 to July 2010 and as special counsel to the New York State Solicitor General since September 2010. She was also a visiting assistant professor of law at Fordham University Law School from 2006 to 2008.

“I do believe I am qualified based on the set of experiences I have had and the set of skills that I have,” said Nathan in response to Grassley’s question.

Grassley also questioned Nathan’s 2006 opposition to a bill in Congress that would allow foreign citizens accused of terrorist acts to be tried by military tribunal, instead of receiving the rights to trial afforded to civilians in the United States. The legislation, which passed and was signed into law by President George W. Bush, also allowed coerced testimony and disallowed defendants exculpatory evidence known to the government.

“Do you still believe that the Bush administration heralded September 11 as the day our nation lost ‘the fundamental principles of structure of our constitutional heritage’?” asked Grassley, quoting from Nathan’s writing.

“I don’t believe that’s the case,” said Nathan. “I wrote that commentary in the role of somebody advocating … to the Congress for a particular piece of legislation. I have not kept up as an expert in this area of law. There’s obviously been a great deal of development since then…I’d certainly follow the Supreme Court’s guidance.” But Nathan added, “It’s important to our national security for there to be judges who follow the law in this area to the extent question come before then and that Congress act as it has in this area.”

Asked about appropriate judicial temperament, Nathan said a federal judge should have a temperament that is “without bias,” is “open to argument,” and is “forceful in the application and adherence to rule of law.”

Grassley asked Nathan whether she would recuse herself from any terrorism case that might come before her. She said she would “scrupulously follow” the U.S. Code governing judicial conduct and its recusal requirements.

Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), who presided over Wednesday’s hearing, read into the record a letter from 27 of Nathan’s co-clerks at the U.S. Supreme Court, including clerks for Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Nathan clerked for former Justice John Paul Stevens.

During the introductions for the hearing, Nathan introduced her “partner” Meg Satterthwaite and other members of her family, including her two-year-old twin sons.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), who recommended Nathan’s nomination to the Obama administration, introduced Nathan “gifted young lawyer.”

Gay presidential candidate left out, again

Openly gay candidate Fred Karger will not be on the stage next Monday night when CNN broadcasts the first major debate of the 2012 presidential campaign. But enough major candidates will take part in this event to ensure a significant audience.

Fred Karger

Openly gay candidate Fred Karger will not be on the stage next Monday night when CNN broadcasts the first major debate of the 2012 presidential campaign. But enough major candidates will take part in this event to ensure a significant audience.

On stage at a college auditorium in New Hampshire June 13 will be Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Michele Bachmann. This will be their first presidential debate and they will be joined by Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain, all of who participated in the first official debate—last month in South Carolina.

Of the seven candidates who have filed a Statement of Candidacy with the Federal Elections Commission, Karger is the only one not invited to Monday’s debate. Bachmann has not yet filed any papers. And, of the three candidates –Karger, Romney, and Pawlenty—who have filed financial reporters with the FEC, Karger has raised more money ($179,771) than former Minnesota Governor Pawlenty ($160,066).

But Karger is not the only candidate being excluded from the June 13 debate. Also being left out is former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. And, ironically, GOProud, a gay conservative group, has being speaking out in support of allowing Johnson into the debate while saying nothing about Karger, who served as an adviser to President Reagan.

“Governor Johnson has courageously stood up for liberty and for limited government,” said GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia, in a statement released Monday, June 6.  “Like Barry Goldwater, Governor Johnson strongly supported repeal of the failed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy. He joins with strong conservatives like former Vice President Dick Cheney in opposing a federal constitutional amendment on marriage that would federalize marriage and family laws. He has also put forward a robust and serious plan for cutting spending, reducing the size of government and restoring fiscal sanity in Washington.”

Asked why GOProud was not advocate for Karger’s inclusion, LaSalvia said, “We are for including credible candidates in next Monday’s debate in New Hampshire. Governor Johnson is a former 2-term governor with a solid record of governing, Fred Karger is not. Karger is not a credible candidate for President of the United States. He should just go away – not be included in a national debate on CNN.”

According to the Manchester Union Leader newspaper, which is co-hosting the debate with CNN and a local television station, the criteria for inclusion was two-fold: The candidate had to average at least 2 percent in various recent national or New Hampshire polls, and he or she must have taken substantive steps towards a presidential run.

Karger filed papers to declare his candidacy in March, but most national polls have not included his name when surveying Republican voters on potential presidential nominees. For instance, the ABC-Washington Post poll conducted June 2-5, asked about 21 different Republican figures –including Donald Trump, who recently announced he would not be running—but Karger was not on the list. The poll included former Governor Johnson, but zero percent of 1,002 Republicans or Republican-leaning voters surveyed chose him as a preferred candidate.

A CNN poll conducted last month did include Karger, but zero percent of 473 Republicans or Republican-leaning voters surveyed chose him. Fox News included Karger in April, but only one percent of 322 Republican registered voters supported him.

Karger sent a letter to CNN officials May 30, after he first heard that he was not being invited. He noted that he was the first Republican candidate to announce that he was considering a run for the nomination and the first to establish a Presidential Exploratory Committee.

“My campaign has received tremendous worldwide coverage on major news outlets in over 25 countries,” said Karger, in his letter to CNN. “My candidacy is unique, as I run for President of the United States as the first openly gay candidate in history.”

CNN reported that the debate hosts invited 13 candidates in all. Three of the six who are not participating are no longer candidates—Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Mitch Danels. Two—Rudy Giuliani and Jon Huntsman—declined the invitation. And Sarah Palin told the hosts, “I don’t think I’m going to be there. Thank you for asking though.”

The two-hour debates airs live on CNN at 8 p.m. EDT.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual youth more at risk, federal study finds

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to be at increased risk for unhealthy behaviors, such as alcohol and drug use, risky sexual behaviors, and attempting suicide, according to a groundbreaking new federal study.

Photo Credit: James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual (LGB) youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to be at increased risk for unhealthy behaviors such as tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use, sexual behaviors that could lead to infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, attempting suicide, and violence, according to a groundbreaking new federal study.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released the results of the study, “Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9–12 in Selected Sites—Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, United States, 2001–2009,” on Monday, June 6. It represents the first time the federal government has conducted such a far-reaching analysis of LGB youth.

Researchers analyzed data from “Youth Risk Behavior Surveys” of seven states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin—and six large urban school districts—Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, San Diego, and San Francisco. The CDC funds these surveys of high school students every two years at the national, state, and local levels.

States and school districts may choose to collect data on the students’ sexual identity (heterosexual, gay or lesbian, bisexual, or unsure), the gender of their sexual contacts (both genders, opposite gender only, or same gender only), or both. The states and districts studied by the CDC had collected data on sexual identity and gender of sexual contacts for at least two survey cycles.

The CDC found that gay and lesbian students (and those who have sex only with a person of the same gender, regardless of how they identify themselves) had higher risks than heterosexual students in seven of 10 major health risk categories: behaviors related to violence (which could include not going to school because of safety concerns), attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors, and weight management.

Bisexual students (and those who have sex with both genders, regardless of how they identify themselves) had higher risks than heterosexual students in eight of the 10 categories: behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries (such as not wearing a seatbelt), violence, attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors, and weight management.

LGB students showed no significant differences from their heterosexual peers in dietary behaviors (e.g., eating vegetables three or more times per day) or amount of physical activity.

Dr. Laura Kann, chief of the Surveillance and Evaluation Research Branch within the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, said that she attributes the “disproportionate” risks of LGB youth to the social difficulties they face, such as stigma, discrimination, and rejection by their families. This creates an environment that contributes to their higher health risk behaviors.

“If these kids had physically, emotionally acceptable environments—home, school, community, it’s unlikely that they would be practicing health risk behaviors at these rates,” she said.

She noted that their increased risk of being involved in violent behaviors is “not because of who they are, but because of what they’re pushed into.” She explained, “It’s a response” to the social disapproval, rejection, and bullying they may face.

The CDC findings confirm previous studies conducted by other researchers, including the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s 2009 National School Climate Survey, which found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the previous year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation.

And a study in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of School Health, by Dr. Stephen T. Russell, distinguished professor at the University of Arizona, and Dr. Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, found that anti-LGBT bullying at school “is strongly linked” to negative mental health for its victims. Among those risks are an increased frequency of suicide attempts and increased risk for engaging in behaviors that can lead to infection with STDs and HIV. The increased risks exist not only while the victim is in adolescence, but also in young adulthood.

Based on its report, the CDC recommends:

  • Improving public health and school health policies and practices to create “safe and supportive environments for sexual minority students.” These policies might include ones to address stigma, discrimination, family disapproval, social rejection, and violence.
  • Providing professional development programs for school staff and others who work with sexual minority youth.
  • Adding questions about sexual identity and the sex of sexual contacts to youth risk behavior surveys in other states and districts. The CDC itself encourages states and districts to include such questions in their surveys, but does not require them to do so. In 2009, 10 states and 7 large urban school districts added questions to their YRBS questionnaire about sexual identity, sex of sexual contacts, or both.

In addition to funding the surveys, the CDC provides funding and technical assistance to 49 states, the District of Columbia, 16 large urban school districts, 6 territories, and 1 tribal government to help schools and school districts develop programs to reduce sexual risk behaviors among all youth.

Twenty-four state education agencies and 15 local education agencies used these funds in 2010 on specific activities to address LGBT youth, according to the CDC, including training staff on LGBT-inclusive health curricula, establishing gay-straight alliances and conferences, and developing guides to community resources for LGBT youth.

“If youth are going to thrive in their communities and in their schools,” Kann said, “they need to feel safe socially, emotionally, and physically. The schools and communities need to take concrete steps to establish these safe and supportive environments.”

She added, “I think this is a multifaceted problem that can be addressed at multiple levels.”

Congress is now considering eight bills that would help protect LGBT youth and reduce bullying and harassment of students because they are or are perceived to be LGBT. They include the Student Nondiscrimination Act, Safe Schools Improvement Act, and Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act in both chambers, and the Successful, Safe and Healthy Students Act and Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act in the Senate. But the success of the bills with a Republican-controlled House remains unlikely.

The CDC released its report in conjunction with the federal government’s first-ever summit devoted to LGBT youth, “Creating and Maintaining Safe and Supportive Environments for LGBT Youth” in Washington, D.C.

The event was hosted by the Department of Education, in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Gay reps ask Obama to extend veto threat to DADT

The U.S. House’s four openly gay members have asked President Obama to issue a veto threat against a defense spending bill that includes a measure to delay repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The U.S. House’s four openly gay members have asked President Obama to issue a veto threat against a defense spending bill that includes a measure to delay repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

They sent the letter a week after the White House issued a statement threatening to veto the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) over several provisions. Although the White House statement “strongly objected” to three amendments that sought to delay repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), it did not threaten veto over those provisions.

The Republican-dominated House approved the bill May 26 with a number of the provisions to which the White House objected, including the three DADT amendments.

The Democratic-dominated Senate is not expected to approve the DADT amendments in its version of the bill. But a House-Senate conference committee will eventually need to agree on a final version of the bill.

In their June 3 letter to the president, Reps. Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis, and David Cicilline said “it would be the best course for you to reaffirm your strong support” for repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers “by making it explicit that you would veto a bill …which undermined the decision” to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

Frank released the June 3 letter on Monday in a press release, saying that the DADT amendments, if left intact, “would make repeal very difficult in practice.”

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has apparently missed its self-set target date for completing training in preparation for repeal of DADT. In an internal memo to the “Marine Corps total force” on February 16, Marine administrators said training of the final tier of personnel “should be complete by May 31.” The Marines have issued no statement indicating they have completed training and a press spokeswoman did not respond to a reporter’s inquiry.

Other service branches set later dates for completion of training. Pentagon officials said in April that the required “certification” of readiness to repeal DADT would likely be sent to Congress by mid-summer.

At a routine press conference at the White House Monday, Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson asked Press Secretary Jay Carney whether President Obama hope for certification before Defense Secretary Robert Gates retires June 30. Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President are required, under the law to repeal DADT, to certify that the military is ready to repeal the law.

“I think the process is moving at the pace that we anticipated, and I also think that it’s the President’s policy and that it will be implemented regardless of who is Secretary of Defense,” said Carney.

“But the President—the administration is surely concerned that if we wait until Leon Panetta comes in there could be additional delays,” said Johnson.

“We don’t share that concern, no,” said Carney.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is set to retire October 1. President Obama on May 30 announced that he has chosen U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey to replace Mullen.

Judicial neutrality on trial, with a Supreme backdrop

Openly gay Judge Vaughn Walker won’t be in the courtroom next Monday (June 13)—at least not physically. But he’ll certainly be there in name–and so may be U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Vaughn Walker

Openly gay Judge Vaughn Walker won’t be in the courtroom next Monday (June 13)—at least not physically. But he’ll certainly be there in name—and so may be U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Alito, in response to inquiries from reporters, acknowledged last week that he should have recused himself from a 2009 case he helped decide. The reason? His two children each held about $2,000 in stock in the Disney company, the parent corporation to the ABC network that was a party to the case Alito participated in. Alito, who had recused himself that same year from another case involving Disney, said that, in this case, his staff, which reportedly checks such matters for him, had simply not realized that ABC was affiliated with Disney.

There has been no hue and cry over the revelation and, though this has all come out very recently, there’s been no indication the party against whom Alito voted, in a five-justice majority, plans to file a motion to vacate the ruling. That’s probably because Alito voted against ABC. But Alito’s reaction is an indication of how high he thinks the bar should be set for matters of potential judicial conflict. And that indication comes at an interesting time—just days before a federal judge in San Francisco must consider whether a former colleague, Vaughn Walker, had a conflict of interest when he ruled California’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

The timing is almost certainly coincidental; Alito was prompted to acknowledge his conflict after probing reporters discovered it.

Alito’s agreement with those reporters—that what appears to be a relatively small and indirect financial interest in the parent company to one of four major networks involved in the case constitutes a conflict of interest—puts the bar for recusal at a difficult height to clear.

Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist did not recuse himself from hearing cases involving Microsoft, although his son was an attorney for Microsoft on a matter not before the court. John Roberts did not recuse himself from participating in a case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, even though a beneficiary of his decision—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—lobbied for his confirmation as Chief Justice.

9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt rejected a motion that he recuse himself from hearing an appeal from Yes on 8 last December. Reinhardt is married to the executive director of the Southern California ACLU.  The motion filed by Yes on 8 attorney Charles Cooper asserted that, because the ACLU has been involved in challenging Proposition 8, Reinhardt should disqualify himself from hearing the appeal. Reinhardt and his 9th Circuit panel colleagues have yet to rule on Yes on 8’s appeal.

Now, it is up to U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware to decide where the recusal bar should have been set when Vaughn Walker heard the case challenging Proposition 8. At the time of the trial, Walker had given no public statement indicating that he was gay and in a relationship for 10 years with another man. And it is common for judges to look to the Supreme Court and other courts for guidance, in making their own rulings.

So, it won’t be a surprise next Monday if attorneys for the proponents of Proposition 8 trot out Justice Alito’s recent recusal statement in support of their argument that Walker should have recused himself from deciding the landmark case involving Proposition 8.

Walker, in August 2010, ruled that the constitutional amendment passed by voters to ban legal recognition of marriages between same-sex partners in California violates the federal constitutional guarantees to equal protection and due process. Eight months after that decision, in response to inquiries from reporters, Walker acknowledged being gay and in a 10-year relationship with a man. Also in response to a question from a reporter, Walker said that he did not believe his sexual orientation required him to recuse himself from the case.

Proposition 8 attorney Cooper and his team agree with that—that Walker needn’t have recused himself because he is gay. But they argue that Walker’s relationship with a man was grounds for recusal.

Why?

“Given that Chief Judge Walker was in a committed, long-term, same-sex relationship throughout this case (and for many years before the case commenced),” argued Cooper in his brief, “it is clear that his ‘impartiality might reasonably [have been] questioned’ from the outset.”

But Ted Olson, David Boies, and the team of lawyers who have challenged Proposition 8 through Perry v. Brown (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger) say Cooper’s argument is just another way of saying Walker should have recused himself because he is gay.

“If Judge Walker were not gay,” said the Olson-Boies brief, Yes on 8 “Proponents would have no objection to his presiding over this case. Similarly, if Judge Walker were gay and not in a long-term relationship, Proponents could nevertheless speculate that he might benefit from the right to marry in the future. Proponents cannot escape the fact that their motion is, at its core, about Judge Walker’s sexual orientation.”

Here’s what the U.S. Code says regarding the “Judiciary and Judicial Procedure”: a judge should recuse himself or herself “in any proceeding in which his [or her] impartiality might reasonably be questioned” or in any case where the judge “knows that he [or she]… has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy … or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding….”

For Justice Alito, his children’s $4,000 worth of stock in the parent company of a corporation with a case before him was, in his mind, a “financial interest” meriting recusal. Following the disclosure, he sold his children’s stock in Disney, according to various news reports. And that, according to many legal observers discussing the revelation, puts him in good position to rule on any future case concerning Disney or ABC.

“As a result of the stock sale,” said Legal Ethics reporter Debra Cassena Weiss of the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal, “Alito will be able to participate if the court accepts a new case involving a fine against ABC television stations that aired an NYPD Blue program showing a shot of a woman’s bare buttocks.” The case Alito participated in, FCC v. Fox Television, affected fines against television networks, including ABC, if they allow profanity—even fleeting outbursts—on the air.

Walker’s situation differs from Alito’s in several ways. The biggest difference is that the losing party in Walker’s case, the Yes on 8 proponents, have filed a challenge to Walker’s decision, charging that Walker had a conflict of interest and should have recused himself. They want Chief Judge Ware to vacate Walker’s decision.

The Olson-Boies team argue against the Yes on 8 motion to vacate, noting that Walker and his partner demonstrated no apparent interest in taking advantage of any benefits of marriage when they opted not to marry in California between June and November of 2008. Yes on 8 attorneys argue, in their brief requesting Walker’s decision be vacated, that Walker never told the parties to Perry that he was in a 10-year same-sex relationship and “he has yet to disclose whether he has any interest in marrying his partner” should same-sex marriage become a possibility again in California.

But the Olson-Boies brief argues that if—as Yes on 8 attorneys argued at trial—that allowing same-sex couples to marry would harm heterosexual marriages, then “it would follow from their argument that judges married to a person of the opposite sex would also possess an ‘interest’ warranting recusal.”

“Such a standard,” argued the Olson-Boies team, “is plainly unworkable and unconstitutional.”

It is up to Chief Judge Ware to decide who’s right, after he hears oral arguments on the matter Monday, June 13, in a federal district court in San Francisco. Ware will also hear arguments Monday on a motion by Yes on 8 attorneys to permanently bar the public release of videotapes of the January 2010 trial.

It was on this latter issue—the videotapes—that Ware initially ordered Walker to appear in court Monday. The U.S. Supreme Court had barred Walker from broadcasting the trial proceedings outside the San Francisco courthouse, but he was allowed to broadcast it within the courthouse and to videotape the proceedings for his own use in constructing his decision.

Walker kept the videotapes as part of his own “chamber papers” and, through his attorneys, has said he considers them his property. But he turned the videotapes over to Judge Ware, and Ware has excused Walker from appearing in court Monday.

Lesbian judicial nominee gets confirmation hearing Wednesday

Lesbian federal court nominee Alison Nathan will have her confirmation hearing Wednesday, June 8.

President Obama nominated Nathan March 31 to a seat on the U.S. District Court for Southern New York, which covers Manhattan.

Lesbian federal court nominee Alison Nathan will have her confirmation hearing Wednesday, June 8.

President Obama nominated Nathan March 31 to a seat on the U.S. District Court for Southern New York, which covers Manhattan.

In the questionnaire Nathan completed for the Senate Judiciary Committee, she noted that she, as an attorney at the Wilmer Cutler, Pickering Hale and Dorr law firm, she represented several “national civil rights organizations” in a challenge to a military law prohibiting private consensual sodomy. The challenge came after the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down state laws prohibiting private consensual sex between same-sex partners, in Lawrence v. Texas. Nathan said she developed the firm’s pro bono legal strategy, arguments, and the drafting of briefs. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, she noted, adopted “significant components” of WilmerHale’s argument that the Lawrence ruling applied to the military. Nathan did not specify which groups her law firm represented, but court records indicate they included the ACLU, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Nathan served as a White House counsel before taking a position as special counsel to New York State’s solicitor general. She also served as a law clerk to now retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and is a former assistant professor of law at Fordham University.

The Senate Judiciary Committee in April recommended the confirmation of openly gay nominee Paul Oetken. Like Nathan, Oetken has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for Manhattan. Meanwhile, the nomination of openly gay nominee Edward DuMont to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit continues to see no action. President Obama nominated DuMont for the position in April 2010 but the Senate Judiciary Committee has not scheduled him for a hearing. Liberal 9th Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu, who was originally nominated in February 2010, recently withdrew his nomination after the Senate failed to break a Republican filibuster against the nomination.

Nathan’s hearing Wednesday begins at 2:30 EDT.

Gay state rep in Wisconsin ready to run for Baldwin’s seat, if she runs for Senate

If U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin makes a run for Wisconsin’s soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat, there’s another openly gay legislator ready to run for Baldwin’s seat in the U.S. House.

State Rep. Mark Pocan, who, like Baldwin, is a Democrat from Madison, told The Capital Times of Madison that he will run for Baldwin’s seat, if she chooses to run for the Senate.

If U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin makes a run for Wisconsin’s soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat, there’s another openly gay legislator ready to run for Baldwin’s seat in the U.S. House.

State Rep. Mark Pocan, who, like Baldwin, is a Democrat from Madison, told The Capital Times of Madison that he will run for Baldwin’s seat, if she chooses to run for the Senate.

“It’s all in Tammy’s hands. She starts the domino effect,” Pocan told the Times.

Pocan’s website notes that he was elected state representative in 1998, taking Baldwin’s then state seat as she won her first term in the U.S. Congress. Like Baldwin, he’s primary interests are in health and education. He owns a firm that produces signs.

Baldwin could make an announcement of her intentions after this weekend’s state Democratic convention in Milwaukee. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday, June 2, that former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold will not announce his intentions until Labor Day.

Feingold, a stronger supporter of the civil rights of LGBT people during his tenure in the Senate, lost re-election in 2008. Since then, he has been teaching at Marquette University Law School and writing a book.

One commentator, Steven Walters of a Madison-based public affairs channel and a former bureau chief for the Journal Sentinel, said Feingold’s silence “freezes” potential campaigns by Baldwin and other Democrats. But he said it also “sends a loud signal that [Feingold] won’t” run.

Baldwin has indicated she is very seriously considering a run for the seat that will be vacated by current U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) when he retires in 2012.

According to the Journal Sentinel, Feingold has “talked to other potential Democratic Senate candidates” and “urged them to get out and start doing things.”

Jennings leaving, but says White House commitment stays

Kevin Jennings, the openly gay head of the federal office that manages its largest safe-schools and anti-bullying programs, will be leaving the U.S. Department of Education next month. But he said President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan remain committed to addressing the bullying of LGBT students.

Kevin Jennings

Kevin Jennings, the openly gay head of the federal office that manages its largest safe-schools and anti-bullying programs, will be leaving the U.S. Department of Education next month. But Jennings said his departure is not about budget cuts to the programs and that both President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan remain committed to addressing the bullying of students who are, or are perceived to be, LGBT.

Jennings, who founded the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 1990 and led it until 2008, was seen as one of President Obama’s more important appointments for the LGBT community.

His selection as Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) in July 2009 was both hailed by the LGBT community and criticized by right-wing opponents who claimed he would promote a “homosexual agenda” in the nation’s classrooms.

Jennings announced his resignation May 19, saying that, at the end of July, he will become president and CEO of Cambridge, Mass.-based Be the Change, a nonprofit organization that creates national, issue-based campaigns and coalitions. Its first campaign was instrumental in helping to draft, and have Congress pass, the 2009 Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which expanded opportunities for national and community service.

But it is their new campaign, to promote economic opportunity for all Americans, which Jennings says addresses an issue “very, very close to my heart.”

“When this opportunity came along, I felt really strongly that this was the right thing for me to do at this point in my life,” he said. “I think that the issue of poverty in America is an outrage. . . . We are supposedly the land of opportunity and we need to take steps to make sure that’s actually true.”

Jennings said that, having grown up gay and poor, he has long wanted to do something for poor children as well as gay ones. He feels he has made “some real contributions” to the latter over the last 20 years, “and this is my chance to make a contribution on another issue that I care very deeply about.”

He has already had some impact in that arena. After Jennings’ mother died in 2002, he created the Alice Jennings Fund in her honor at the Appalachian Community Fund, to help low-income and battered girls and women have opportunities she did not have growing up in Appalachia.

Before Jennings leaves the Department of Education, however, he will be convening the first-ever federal summit on LGBT youth on June 6 and 7, at which both Education Secretary Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will speak.

Two hundred leaders, including 50 LGBT or allied youth, will be attending the summit, he said, to look at the needs of LGBT youth in three tracks: education, health and human services, and justice.

“It’s an unprecedented event,” he said. “The federal government . . . has never made the needs of LGBT youth a priority in this way before.”

“This is an administration that is committed to including LGBT youth as part of its work,” he said. “It’s a historic new direction.”

Jennings said he believes there has been significant progress towards addressing school bullying—of both LGBT students and others—under the Obama administration.

Jennings’ two years at the Department of Education coincided with an increased public awareness of the serious effects of school bullying. The week in April 2009 when the Obama administration offered him the position as head of OSDFS, news broke about the bullying-related suicide of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Springfield, Massachusetts, who had been the subject of anti-gay taunts. That news, he said, inspired him to take the job.

And in October 2010, just days after a media blitz about the suicides of five teenagers, at least four of whom had been bullied for being gay or being perceived as gay, the department announced the awarding of $38.8 million in grants to 11 states from a new Safe and Supportive School program, to help measure and intervene in schools with the greatest safety concerns, including bullying.

Now, Jennings said, “We’ve put the full weight of the president behind this issue.”

The president convened a national Conference on Bullying Prevention in March 2011 and called on parents, teachers, students, and communities to tackle the problem together.

The president also recorded a video for the “It Gets Better” project, an initiative begun by syndicated columnist Dan Savage last September. The project’s Web site provides youth with examples of LGBT people and their allies who reassure them that life does get better after the difficult years in which most bullying takes place and encourages youth who are bullied to seek help from an adult.

In addition, the Department of Education issued guidance to all school officials in October 2010, reminding them that federal law requires schools to take action against bullying—including gender-based and sexual harassment of LGBT students.

It also issued a memo to all chief state school officers in December 2010, providing examples of effective state anti-bullying laws as a reference for developing or revising their own.

This fall, the Department of Education will convene its second Bullying Prevention Summit, a strategic planning gathering it first held last year for governmental and non-governmental leaders.

Results from two projects initiated at the first summit are expected to be reported on at the summit this fall. One is a survey of school districts that have an anti-bullying policy; the other a study, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on students who have died by suicide that was motivated by bullying.

“If my goal was to put a national spotlight on bullying and to galvanize a movement around that,” said Jennings, “I feel very much like we’ve succeeded.”

“There’s clearly work that remains to be done,” he said, but added, “I’m very confident about the President and [Secretary Duncan’s] commitment to keeping that work going.”