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Archives – May, 2012

Memorial Day Open Thread

By Scottie Thomaston

So, what’s everyone up to this Memorial Day?

Here’s some stuff that’s happening today:

Gay cadets graduate with pride after ‘don’t ask’

A Rare Haven for Gay Men and Lesbians in Harlem

– Gay activists in Moscow were blocked from demonstrating.

– Over at The New Civil Rights Movement, a reflection on Memorial Day.

4 Comments May 28, 2012

Equality news round-up: protests are planned in NC against anti-gay pastor, and more

By Scottie Thomaston

– This week, Dan Savage invited the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown to his home to have a dinner discussion/debate on marriage equality. Now Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council has invited Tony Perkins to her home for dinner, after he stated in a televised interview that he has never been to the home of a same-sex couple who is married.

– A new coalition of social justice organizations and clergy have launched an effort to show that NOM’s attempt to “drive a wedge” between black and gay people hasn’t worked.

– The Maine Education Association has endorsed marriage equality.

– Chile will start paying for surgery for people who are transgender.

Protests will be ongoing against the North Carolina pastor who said gay people should be locked behind an electric fence and left to die.

– Here is a run-down of major gay rights cases currently working their way through the courts.

– Jeb Bush says marriage equality is a “distraction” from the economy. It could actually help the economy.

– One News Now, the “news” arm of the hate group American Family Association, continues to promote NOM’s race baiting strategy.

– A Senate committee in Brazil has finally passed same-sex unions.

42 Comments May 25, 2012

Anti-gay language in defense bill is removed from Senate version of the bill

By Scottie Thomaston

Last week, President Obama threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act because of several provisions, some of which are designed to attack the LGBT community. We wrote here at the time:

The House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act also has several anti-LGBT provisions. Think Progress says:

In its one Statement of Administration Policy, the White House outlined numerous reasons it opposes the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a military “license to bully” provision and restricts same-sex marriages or similar ceremonies from being held on military bases.

After the president’s announcement that he supports marriage equality, I think some people, including myself, expected the president to make that statement and then pivot to other issues facing the American people. It has not turned out that way – he has done interviews reiterating his position, and he is now including “marriage equality” in some campaign speeches, reminding voters that it strengthens families. Republicans might have become quieter on these issues but it’s clear they are willing to work on passage of unnecessary and hateful anti-LGBT bills.

Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee completed their work on the lengthy NDAA bill, and their version doesn’t contain the anti-gay provisions:

The Senate Armed Services Committee didn’t include anti-gay language found in House legislation as part of its markup of the fiscal year 2013 defense authorization bill. The 26-member Democratic-controlled committee, chaired by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), on Thursday completed work on the $631 billion legislation, which authorizes funding for military programs and troop pay.

This is good, because it seems unlikely that the Senate would put those provisions back in the bill before the final Senate vote. The two bills – House and Senate – will have to be worked out in conference. The president’s veto threat will likely provide more backing to those who don’t want the discriminatory provisions back in the bill.

15 Comments May 25, 2012

DOMA ruled unconstitutional by California federal judge

By Jacob Combs

In an order released yesterday, Judge Claudia Wilken of the Northern District of California ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional in a class-action tax lawsuit, Dragovich v. U.S. Department of Treasury, brought by a group of three California government employees and their same-sex partners.  Represented by the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center  (LAS-ELC), the three couples argued in court that their exclusion from CalPERS, California’s long-term care plan for government employees, violates their equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.

In her opinion, Judge Wilken, a Clinton appointee with chambers in Oakland, wrote that DOMA and parts of the Internal Revenue Code that prohibit same-sex couples in marriages or domestic partnerships from enrolling in CalPERS “violates the equal protection rights” of those couples.  She ordered CalPERS not to cite DOMA or those portions of the tax code to deny enrollment to same-sex couples, and prohibited the federal government from disqualifying CalPERS’s plans from preferential tax treatment.  In the opinion, Judge Wilken wrote that her decision will be stayed if it is appealed to the Ninth Circuit. (more…)

84 Comments May 25, 2012

Equality news round-up: Obama’s marriage equality support may have won Maryland’s referendum, and more

By Scottie Thomaston

How Black churches can fight HIV/AIDS

– The New York Times has an editorial on so-called “conversion therapy” after Robert Spitzer apologized for the flawed research purportedly backing it.

– At The Daily Beast, Chris Geidner asks, “Is Justice Ginsburg Risking the Future of the Supreme Court?

– Mariela Castro, an LGBT activist in Cuba and daughter of President Raul Castro, spoke in the US recently.

– Colin Powell is a supporter of marriage equality, apparently.

– The US Air Force Academy graduated its first openly gay cadets this week.

– The Washington Blade has the transcript from yesterday’s LGBT call with the Obama campaign.

– Tony Perkins, leader of the hate group Family Research Council, was on CNN. Again. At least they were a little more skeptical of him this time.

– Adam Serwer at Mother Jones asks: “Did Obama Just Deliver Marriage Equality in Maryland?” and it’s entirely possible that he did.

4 Comments May 24, 2012

Marriage equality: anti-gay group in Washington misses its signature goal for ballot initiative

By Scottie Thomaston

Preserve Marriage Washington is the group that’s gathering signatures to put marriage equality on the ballot this year (the initiative is Referendum 74), after the bill has already been passed and signed by the governor in Washington. PMW is affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage. They set a goal of 200,000 by May 6:

“I want the headline above the fold that says ‘R-74 gets 200,000 signatures a month early!’. I want to shut up our opponents. …Because our opponents – this is a battle, and our opponents need to be demoralized,” Chris Plante told a group of volunteers in March. Plante is a Rhode Island-based NOM employee sent to Washington to act as Preserve Marriage Washington’s deputy campaign director.

“I’ve been saying, on May 6th I’d love to put out a press release saying, the human part of me says ‘nah-nah-na-na-nah’, we got the signatures,” Plante told volunteers at a similar event in April. “Something to the effect of ‘Washington will not stand for messing with marriage’.”

The deadline for signature gathering is June 6. They have 121,876 signatures according to their website. The group will still qualify for the ballot, since it’s easy to get the required number of signatures (200,000 was just a goal but the actual number needed is quite a lot less) but as Laurel Ramseyer at Pam’s House Blend notes, it’s a really big deal that they won’t reach their goal:

It’s now weeks later and not only has NOM-PMW failed to meet their goal of filing 200,000 signatures on May 6th, but it appears unlikely that they will even have 200,000 signatures to file by the June 6th deadline. If NOM-PMW had any kind of meaningful support in Washington, they should have had no problem accomplishing this fall-back goal.

Once again, the national anti-gay groups will learn that Washington doesn’t have much interest in their attempts to overturn our laws.

Despite the money flowing in and the efforts of national anti-gay groups, there is not a lot of interest in attacking gays and lesbians with a ballot initiative this year.

25 Comments May 24, 2012

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