Rep. Don Beyer, County Board member Katie Kristol and U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — all Democrats — today praised the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision to strike down a Texas law that greatly restricted abortion providers there.
Beyer called the decision a victory for “common sense and justice for women” in a statement:
Common sense and justice for women and families prevailed at the Supreme Court today. This decision once again affirms our nation’s longstanding policy that women have the right to an abortion until viability, and that efforts by anti-choice forces to deny that right through lack of access imposes an undue burden. Anti-choice forces in Virginia apply the same tactics, and have also failed. We will continue every effort to maintain and expand women’s healthcare access in Virginia.
Cristol echoed Beyer’s praise in a tweet:
Thank you, SCOTUS! W/o access, there is no right to choose. "Each [restriction] violates the Federal Constitution.” https://t.co/0qCj9aBS1t
— Katie Cristol (@kcristol) June 27, 2016
Warner also released a statement praising the decision:
Today the Supreme Court sent a clear message that all women have the right to make their own reproductive health decisions, no matter where they live. This is a victory for women’s health in Texas, in Virginia, and across the country.
As did Kaine:
I applaud the Supreme Court for seeing the Texas law for what it is – an attempt to effectively ban abortion and undermine a woman’s right to make her own health care choices. This ruling is a major win for women and families across the country, as well as the fight to expand reproductive freedom for all.
The Texas law is quite similar to arbitrary and unnecessary rules that were imposed on Virginia women after I left office as Governor. I’m proud that we were able to successfully fight off such “TRAP” regulations during my time in state office. I have always believed these sort of rules are an unwarranted effort to deprive women of their constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy.
File photo of Supreme Court
But Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said today, after a lunchtime meeting with Garland, that he’s hopeful Republicans will change their mind. He is pressing for Garland to get “the hearing he deserves,” followed by an up or down vote on his confirmation.
“I have to remain an optimist in this business,” he said. “I hope that public pressure maintains that some of my colleagues will rethink their position and go ahead and hold the hearing.”
Warner didn’t specify what he thinks may finally sway Republicans from their position, that in a presidential year it should fall to the next president to make the nomination to the nation’s highest court. The resolve of those lawmakers is made even stronger given that Garland, who’s widely considered a moderate, would be replacing the late Antonin Scalia, a staunch conservative.
Could the outcome of the presidential nomination process — say, if the general election race turned out to be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — be the turning point?
“To me that would be kind of whacky,” Warner said. “Although this has been clearly a kind of whacky election year.”
Warner said he hopes the nomination process can be de-politicized.
“I think it is terribly important that the process proceeds,” he said. “The Constitution is explicitly clear that the president shall nominate. He did his job on March 16 when he nominated Judge Garland, now it’s up to the Senate to advise and consent. I strongly hope that my Republican colleagues will take this out of the realm of politics and do their job.”
“The notion that we’re going to use political gamesmanship about decision-making on the Supreme Court would be a further deterioration of our political process in this country,” Warner added. “That’s not what the country wants.”
(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) George Mason University’s Arlington-based law school has been renamed after the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
GMU agreed to rename the law school, based in the Virginia Square neighborhood, after receiving two donations for a total of $30 million, the largest combined gift in university history. Of the $30 million, $20 million came from an anonymous donor, via the Federalist Society, and $10 million was donated by the Charles Koch Foundation.
GMU’s Board of Visitors voted in favor of the new name this afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported. Scalia, a McLean resident, passed away in his sleep on Feb. 13 while visiting a Texas ranch.
After the jump, the press release from George Mason University announcing the new name.
Potential Supreme Court Nominee Lives in Arlington — Sri Srinivasan, who’s on the short list of potential Supreme Court nominees, lives in Arlington with wife and two children. Srinivasan is seen as a moderate who would be difficult for conservatives to oppose. [Fusion, Politico]
County Considering Two-Tier Historic Designations — Arlington County is considering establishing a two-tier system for local historic designations, one for Arlington Public Schools and another for residents. APS wants less stringent rules to keep costs down and speed up construction. Residents in historic districts must seek permission from a historic affairs commission to make changes like installing a new driveway, replacing a garage door or even replacing windows. [InsideNova]
Jailhouse Informant Found Murdered — The man who helped to convict former Marine Jorge Torrez of murder by getting him to confess on tape while at the Arlington County jail has been found dead. Osama El-Atari was found shot to death in his truck in Upper Marlboro, Md. [Fox 5]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
Dominion Admits Culpability for Potomac Oil Spill — Last week’s mysterious oil spill that ran from the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, down the Potomac past Reagan National Airport, came from a Dominion Power substation in Crystal City. The company is taking responsibility for the mineral oil spill, which killed 21 birds, mostly Canada geese, and prompted a large Coast Guard and Arlington County cleanup response. [Washington Post]
Loverde Issues Statement on Scalia’s Death — Diocese of Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde issued a statement on the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend. Loverde said “we are all deeply saddened” by Scalia’s unexpected death, lauding him as “a man so deeply rooted in his faith, so brilliant in the law and in jurisprudence, so clear and precise in his judicial statements, so wholly committed to his family, so engaging with colleagues and friends, often with great humor.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]
D.C. Denies St. Paddy’s Bar Crawls — The annual Shamrock Crawl bar crawl will be coming to Clarendon next month. Arlington police helped keep a lid on crime and rowdiness associated with the bar crawl last year. In the District, however, concerns about bad behavior prompted officials to deny permit applications for the D.C. version of the Shamrock Crawl and another St. Patrick’s Day-themed crawl. [Borderstan]
Garvey on Kojo Show — On Friday, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey was a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi Politics Hour, which is broadcast on WAMU (88.5 FM). Garvey spoke to Nnamdi and NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood about the proposed widening of a portion of eastbound I-66, as well as related topics like Metro and transit. [YouTube]
W-L Shot Put Record Smashed — Washington-Lee High School junior Benedict Draghi has convincingly set a new school record for shot put. At a recent track meet, Draghi recorded a throw of 61 feet and 4.75 inches. The performance was good for first place at the meet and it blew away the school’s 50-year-old previous indoor shot put record by nearly 10 feet. [InsideNova]
Old Guard Offers Horses for Adoption — The Army’s Old Guard, based at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, is offering two caisson horses for adoption. The horses, Quincy and Kennedy, have served in military funerals and ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery for almost a decade. [WJLA]
Volunteers Remove Wreaths from Cemetery — Despite bone-chilling cold temperatures, on Saturday volunteers picked up tens of thousands of holiday wreaths that were placed on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in December. The cleanup was postponed from January due to the blizzard. [WUSA 9]
Flickr pool photo by WolfpackWX
The 5-4 ruling was almost immediately decried by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, but others in the county have enthusiastically endorsed the landmark decision.
Board member Jay Fisette, who in 1997 became the first openly gay elected official in Virginia, said he was overjoyed by today’s ruling.
“I had absolutely no idea that this day would come in my lifetime — let alone while I was still in office,” said Fisette. “The Court’s action validates the lives of millions of Americans, reinforces the value of equality to our nation, and puts us in step with the civilized free nations on the planet.”
Board member Libby Garvey echoed Fisette’s excitement about the Supreme Court decision, telling ARLnow that she was delighted by the news and had “been exchanging happy texts this morning with my sister and her wife and other family.”
In a statement today, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring called the vote “an extraordinary moment in our nation’s recognition that Americans cannot and will not be denied dignity, rights, and responsibilities, including those of marriage, simply because of who they love.”
“I am proud we put Virginia on the right side of history on this issue,” Herring said, referencing the fact that gay marriage has been legal in Virginia since 2014. Herring held a press conference about marriage equality outside the Arlington County courthouse this afternoon.
Don Beyer, member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Virginia’s 8th district, also issued a statement this morning in which he applauded the Supreme Court and called the nationwide guarantee of marriage equality a “watershed moment in American history.”
“Gay rights are human rights and today we have ensured that all Americans, regardless of their sexuality, have the right to share the rest of their lives with the person they love,” said Beyer. “I could not be prouder to stand with my LGBTQ constituents and celebrate this incredible moment.”
Several of the area’s gay pride groups have upcoming events where residents can celebrate. The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance is hosting a Pride Month Social this Sunday evening from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant (555 23rd St S.), and NOVA Pride has a SCOTUS Ruling Happy Hour scheduled for Monday night at A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive) from 5-10 p.m.
Arlington officials cautioned that this ruling only deals with one aspect of discrimination against the LGBTQ community, however. According to Fisette, the next big LGBTQ issue facing the nation is employment discrimination, and though some local governments — like Arlington’s — prohibit hiring discrimination on the basis of sexual identity, many still don’t.
“In most states, including Virginia, it is legal to fire someone simply because they are gay,” said Fisette.
Delegate Patrick A. Hope of the Virginia General Assembly agreed with Fisette, saying “Tomorrow, we must continue our efforts to end LGBT discrimination in other areas, such as in workplace, with the goal to treat every American fairly and equally.”
The court decided not to review decisions that struck down gay marriage bans in Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana. The action immediately ends delays on same-sex marriages, which took effect in Virginia in August when the court issued a stay.
According to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who has supported reversing the state’s gay marriage ban, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to issue a mandate at 1:00 p.m. and same-sex marriages can begin at that time. Virginia also will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Herring, who will be speaking at a 12:30 p.m. news conference at the Arlington County Courthouse, issued the following statement.
A new day has dawned, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are shining through.
All Virginians have the constitutional right to be treated fairly and equally, to have loving, committed relationships recognized and respected, and to enjoy the blessings of married life. We should all be proud that our fellow Virginians helped lead us forward.
This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history. We will continue to fight discrimination wherever we find it, but today, we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality ignited centuries ago in Virginia, and so central to the American experience.
State Senator Adam Ebbin also took to Twitter, saying same-sex marriages in Virginia now are “imminent.”
SCOTUS declines to review marriage equality cases. Same-sex marriage now imminent in Virginia & at least 4 other states! #Equality
— Adam Ebbin (@AdamEbbin) October 6, 2014
Governor Terry McAuliffe issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court decision:
This is a historic and long overdue moment for our Commonwealth and our country. On issues ranging from recognizing same-sex marriages to extending health care benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees, Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision. Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriages between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.
I applaud all of the Virginians who gave so much time and effort in the fight for equality, and congratulate my friend Attorney General Mark Herring on this important victory for justice and equal treatment under the law.
Equality for all men and women regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual orientation is intrinsic to the values that make us Virginians, and now it is officially inscribed in our laws as well.
The Supreme Court did not offer an explanation for its decision and did not issue a ruling about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage nationwide.
Rep. Jim Moran addressed the court’s lack of a nationwide decision in a statement.
This is a momentous day for Virginia and for all who believe in equality under the law. This decision affirms the right of all people to pursue happiness, the most basic example of which is the ability to marry and share your life with the person you love.
Still, it is disappointing that the Court has delayed a final decision on a federal right to marriage equality. Legalized discrimination anywhere is wrong. The Court was right to affirmatively strike down DOMA a year ago, and now it is time to end the uncertainty so many couples are forced to live with and guarantee marriage equality throughout the country.
Officials See Positives in Voting Rights Act Ruling — Although civil rights activists have expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act earlier this week, some local officials see a few benefits in the decision. Election officials no longer need approval from the U.S. Department of Justice on election matters down to the precinct level. That will allow them to make decisions on the fly, such as extending absentee voting or holding a voter registration drive. [Sun Gazette]
State Reissues Arlington’s Municipal Stormwater Permit — The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) reissued Arlington’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. Arlington is the first municipality in the state to receive an MS4 permit that includes quantitative pollution reduction requirements to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The new permit is in effect through mid-2018, during which time Arlington is required to decrease its share of the nutrient and sediment reductions by five percent. [Arlington County]
Arlington Company Receives $100 Million from Goldman Sachs — Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), a Ballston-based maker of cloud based data analysis software, has received a $100 million minority investment from Goldman Sachs. APT plans to use the funding to open an office in Japan and take on more clients. The company lists Wal-Mart and McDonald’s among its existing customers. [Bloomberg]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Freddie’s Beach Bar, at 555 23rd Street in Crystal City, is planning a “big celebration” tonight (Wednesday) to mark the Supreme Court’s repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
This afternoon a rainbow-colored sign with the words “One Step Closer” was put up outside the bar, above the door. Owner Freddie Lutz says he’s expecting a large, jubilant crowd to take those words as a rallying cry at the bar tonight.
“We’re getting calls left and right,” he said. “We’re going to get mobbed.”
The bar will hold a special happy hour from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., followed by the regularly-scheduled drag bingo night. Exact details of the celebration weren’t worked out at the time of our interview.
On a personal note Lutz, a long-time Arlington resident, said he’s pleased with the ruling but unsure when gay marriage will be allowed in the Commonwealth.
“I’m thrilled about everything,” he said. “Today was certainly a big step in the right direction. But I was thinking this morning about how unfair it was. I’m a Virginia resident, I pay taxes, I have a business in Virginia that brings money into Virginia, yet I can’t marry my partner in the state of Virginia.”
“I would like to see Virginia turn around and allow gay marriage,” he continued. “I want to get married in Virginia. I would like to see that happen before I die.”
(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) This morning, in a historic ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), thus allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.
The high court also ruled on California’s Proposition 8. The ruling will have the end effect of allowing gay marriages in the state of California, barring further legal challenges.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, issued the following statement about the ruling.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today puts the court on the right side of history. DOMA is unjust, un-American, and out of step with the values of our country. Beginning today, same-sex couples in the 12 freedom to marry states will be eligible for the federal protections and responsibilities afforded all other married couples.
Our nation has a long history of fighting to overcome discrimination to secure civil rights for all citizens. I hope this decision gives momentum to efforts across the country to enshrine marriage equality into our laws. Discrimination has no place in our country.
Republicans have wasted more than $3 million on this lawsuit over the past three years. That’s unconscionable while budgets are being slashed by sequestration and many federal workers face furloughs.
The Declaration of Independence affirms that “all men are created equal” and that every American has a right to “the pursuit of happiness.” These principles cannot be fulfilled without the ability to marry the person you love.
Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, the first openly gay elected official in Virginia, talked to ARLnow.com shortly after the rulings. An excerpt:
It’s a terrific day for the country and for fairness. It’s another important step forward for the inevitability of marriage equality.
You feel a sense of pride at the progress and the ability of people in this country to learn and grow and address the irrational fears that existed 30 years ago. It’s so wonderful that a country and a democracy can make [this progress] despite the challenges.
This does not provide what I would call marriage equality across the board for all Americans. One thing has not changed: Bob [Rosen, Jay’s partner] and I cannot get married in Virginia. In Virginia, we have… a conservative General Assembly that has no interest in providing marriage equality. We’re still in the baby steps phase.
Fisette said that while he and Rosen have in the past rejected the “symbolism” of getting married in another jurisdiction, like D.C. (which allows same-sex marriage), the DOMA decision may prompt them to reconsider.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was one of two Virginia congressmen to participate in a recent photoshoot for the NOH8 Campaign.
The gay rights campaign is described as a “photographic silent protest.” It was organized by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley in response to the 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which invalidated the recognition of same-sex marriage in California.
Moran was one of 67 members of Congress to participate in a photoshoot for the campaign, and one of only two in Virginia. (Rep. Gerry Connolly, the Fairfax County Democrat, was the second.)
In his photo, Moran, a former amateur boxer, makes a fist while wearing duct tape over his mouth. Moran said in a statement that he is proud to oppose “hateful laws” like Proposition 8.
I am proud to participate in the NOH8 project. Proposition 8 and other hateful laws like the far-reaching constitutional amendment that passed in Virginia in 2006 fly in the face of our nation’s commitment to equal treatment under the law. Discrimination has no place in the laws that govern our nation.
School Board Candidate Skips S. Arlington — Arlington School Board challenger Barbara Kanninen has held all of her published campaign events in north Arlington, skipping south Arlington entirely, says political blogger Ben Tribbett. Although she’s a challenger, Kanninen is thought by some to be the favorite in the race, thanks to high expected voter turnout in north Arlington. Kanninen will face incumbent James Lander in a debate at tonight’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. The Democratic School Board caucus will be held May 9 and 11. [Not Larry Sabato]
John Paul Stevens to Speak at Cmte. of 100 — Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will be the featured speaker at the May 8 Arlington Committee of 100 meeting. Stevens is an Arlington resident. [Sun Gazette]
AMEN Becomes ‘Arlington Thrive’ — Arlingtonians Meeting Emergency Needs (AMEN) has been rebranded as “Arlington Thrive.” The nonprofit still provides “same-day, emergency financial assistance to County residents who experience sudden financial crisis such as temporary unemployment or illness,” with priority given to families. [Arlington Thrive]
Annual Marymount Fashion Show — Marymount University will hold its annual fashion show this weekend. “Portfolio in Motion 2013” will showcase the work of Marymount fashion design students. It’s being held on campus in the Rose Bente Lee Center at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. [Facebook]
This week, gay marriage has come to the forefront of American politics as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments regarding California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In light of the proceedings, Rep. Jim Moran (D) is reiterating his stance as an advocate of LGBT rights, including gay marriage and full marriage benefits.
DOMA overwhelmingly passed in Congress in 1996, but Moran notes he was one of the few who voted against the law. He released the following statement on Wednesday, following oral arguments in the case of United States v. Windsor, which challenges the constitutionality of DOMA:
“DOMA is unjust and un-American, contradicting long-standing legal principles and blatantly discriminating against specific legal marriages just because they involve gay and lesbian couples. DOMA flies in the face of our nation’s commitment to civil rights. I am proud to have been one of the 67 representatives who voted against this law’s passage in 1996.
“It’s also disturbing that House Republicans have wasted over $3 million defending DOMA in court over the past three years. I find it unconscionable that while budgets are being slashed by sequestration and many federal workers face furloughs, Republicans in the House voted to pay private lawyers $525 per hour to defend this discriminatory law.
“I strongly support the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry and have full access to the benefits and obligations of marriage. While churches should continue to be able to sanction marriages consistent with their faith, discrimination has no place in the laws that govern our country.
“In addition to being the truly ‘pro-family’ position, marriage equality is an issue that tests our nation’s fidelity to our fundamental values. The Declaration of Independence affirms that ‘all men are created equal’ and that every American has a right to ‘the pursuit of happiness.’ Surely these principles cannot be fulfilled without the ability to marry the person you love.”
Committee Debates Aquatics Center — Arlington’s Committee of 100 debated the merits of the planned $79 million Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center last night. A park bond that would help fund the center is on the Nov. 6 ballot. [Sun Gazette]
Marymount University and Diversity — WUSA 9’s Peggy Fox profiles Marymount University, which she says is one of the “most diverse regional universities” despite a “race blind” admissions process. Instead of considering race during the admissions process, the university instead actively encourages minority students to apply. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon consider a case that challenges the legality of affirmative action, which allows race and ethnicity to be considered in school admissions processes. [WUSA 9]
Construction at Hayes Park — Due to construction behind the tennis courts at Hayes Park (1516 N. Lincoln Street), the park’s parking lot will be closed from 7:00 a.m. today to about 2:00 p.m. [Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association]
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that people who sign referendum petitions generally can’t claim a First Amendment privilege for keeping their names secret. The ruling may affect the change-of-government petition currently circulating around Arlington.
Change-of-government critics have suggested that the names of petition signers should be made public.
In a statement, the Coalition for Arlington Good Government, which opposes the petition, lauded the Supreme Court decision.
“The Supreme Court’s decision reaffirms the importance of transparency and open government by ensuring public disclosure of petitions,” CAGG said in a statement. “We wish that the referendum proponents were half as committed to transparency.”
The Committee for a Better Arlington, which supports the change-of-government referendum, declined to comment.