Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "2009 Books Issue," July 4, 2009

Policy analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation worry that Obama's aim to nationalize much of the industry signals the demise of federalism as states lose flexibility in their administration of Medicaid and SCHIP. The attempt to expand Medicaid, they said in a briefing paper, "is neither new, nor innovative, nor reform," and should be replaced with a policy to move customers into private insurance plans through tax credits, premium assistance, and vouchers.

D.C. march

Washington, D.C., election officials said "no" to a referendum-similar to Proposition 8 in California-defining marriage between a man and woman, removing another obstacle to the recognition of same-sex marriage in the nation's capital. The election officials' ruling said a referendum would "strip same-sex couples of the rights and responsibilities of marriage that they were afforded by virtue of entering into valid marriages elsewhere." In May the city council voted almost unanimously to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, sparking a battle at both local and congressional levels. Some council members said they are paving the way for the district eventually to legalize same-sex marriage.

Local straw polls on the issue don't clarify which way the district would have voted in a referendum. Bishop Harry Jackson, a pastor in a church right outside of the district, led the push for a referendum, and following the election board's decision promised to try to defeat the council's action in court.

New York snarl

The battle in New York over same-sex marriage took weird turns when two Democrats-Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada Jr.-upset the Democrats' 32-30 majority in the state Senate by defecting to the GOP. The next day Duane Motley, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, celebrated the revolt as "a big boulder in the path of the same-sex marriage bill." But Espada, the newly elected president of the Senate, used same-sex marriage legislation as a bargaining chip to get more Democrats to join his side. In a June 12 email to supporters, Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage said, "The situation now is so fluid, so confused and so chaotic that it simply isn't clear whether we are headed for a vote on gay marriage." Monserrate then rejoined the Democrats, leaving the Senate evenly divided and the fate of same-sex marriage undecided. So far, 29 senators number among the bill's detractors, while 20 have stated their support. No Republicans have come forward to support the bill, while six Democrats have stated their opposition.

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