Newsweek's Dina Fine Maron has the scoop on another big no-show at DNC's upcoming gay and lesbian fundraiser:
Gay rights activist David Mixner and HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse aren't the only high profile names to register dismay over the Justice Department’s pro-DOMA legal brief by pulling out of a DNC fundraiser scheduled for next week. We’ve learned that Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin, who shepherded the first marriage equality bill through the VT legislature and spent time stumping for Obama during the campaign’s fledgling days, also plans to boycott the event. Shumlin, who is not gay, had been scheduled to be one of the fundraiser’s honored guests but decided to drop out after last week's DOJ memo, which he described as "hurtful" and "discriminatory." "I have no horse in this race," Shumlin told Newsweek. "I've got a wife and two daughters and no gay relatives that I know of...(but) marriage equality is a basic civil right... I have to be able to live with my conscience." Shumlin emailed DNC Treasurer Andrew Tobias, one of the fundraiser’s organizers, this afternoon to withdraw his support and explain why he wouldn’t be attending. His office provided Newsweek a copy of that email dated earlier today. Here's an excerpt:
As an early and strong supporter of Barack Obama I am shocked and disappointed at the level of insensitivity that the Department of Justice has shown towards gay and lesbian couples and their families. By defending DOMA and making reference to horribly inaccurate and deeply hurtful stereotypes about gay and lesbian Americans, the Administration has chosen discriminate against a minority group that we all have a responsibility to be more courageous in defending. This action will only serve to sow the seeds for further hatred and division against the only minority group left in America that politicians can publicly discriminate against and see their approval ratings rise.[sic] My disappointment in this has led me to the regrettable decision not to be a participant in the DNC event.
I am proud Vermont made history in how we enacted marriage equality - not through a court order but through legislative action. The tides of history, love and justice came together in Vermont and I look forward to witnessing this movement swell across the nation as all of America's citizens are granted equal rights. It is my hope that the Obama Administration will actively support what we did in Vermont - grant marriage equality to all under the law - nothing more and nothing less.
While Obama plans to sign a “memo” this evening to extend some benefits to same sex partners of federal employees, Shumlin tells Newsweek he still plans to skip the fundraiser. "My position is that that is a small and helpful step, but as Democrats we need to stand up for civil rights of all Americans,” he says.