May 6, 2010 – NPR
Gay Couples Challenge Defense Of Marriage Act
by Tovia Smith
Six years after Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, a group of married same-sex couples will be in federal court in Boston on Thursday, arguing that their marriages should also be recognized by the federal government. Among those bringing the lawsuit, considered to be the first serious challenge of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, are Kathy Bush and Mary Ritchie. When they married in 2004, they thought they would finally get the benefits and protections other couples do, without having to hire lawyers to draw up special contracts to secure everything from their parental rights to health care proxies. "We said, ‘Wow! We can actually exhale now,’ " recalls Ritchie. "You know, if someone says the word ‘married,’ everybody knows what that means."
But it wasn’t long before they discovered that "everybody" did not include the federal government, which is barred by DOMA from recognizing gay marriages. For all federal purposes, Ritchie and Bush are still single. So, for example, if Ritchie, a State Police lieutenant, were killed in the line of duty, Bush would not be eligible for federal benefits available to other widows of law enforcement officers. Ritchie and Bush also have to check the "single" box on their federal tax returns, and they say that has cost them an extra $20,000 over the six years they have been married. "That’s huge money," Ritchie says, "and it’s only going to continue to grow, and that money is ours."
"It’s sort of like we’re treated as second-class citizens," Bush adds. Bush, Ritchie and 17 other plaintiffs argue that the federal government can’t just ignore some marriage certificates and recognize others. Their lawyer, Gary Buseck with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, says DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution because it is discriminatory. When Congress passed the law in 1996, Buseck says, members "simply had a knee-jerk reaction that we have to bar the doors of the federal government in every conceivable way from the invasion of married gay people. I mean, they let it all hang loose."
Indeed, in heated congressional debate over DOMA in 1996, supporters argued the stakes couldn’t be higher. One of DOMA’s authors, former Republican Rep. Bob Barr, proclaimed, "The flames of hedonism and the flames of self-centered morality are licking at the very foundations of our society." Barr, now a libertarian, has since called for DOMA’s repeal, saying it violates states rights. President Obama also supports repeal. But his administration is in the awkward position of having to defend the law in court. As a Department of Justice official put it, we "can’t pick and choose which federal laws [to] defend based on any one administration’s policy preferences."
So, while government lawyers go out of their way in their legal papers to call DOMA “discriminatory,” they’re also arguing Congress did have good reason to want to preserve the status quo. Peter Sprigg, with the Family Research Counsel, says Congress had to hit the brakes on redefining marriage. "A change in something so fundamental to society as the definition of marriage should not be forced upon the federal government by the decisions of a handful — a tiny minority — of the states," he says. "I think it’s obvious that Congress has an interest in not allowing that to happen."
But legal experts say that argument will be a hard sell, since the federal government has always deferred to states on the issue of marriage eligibility. States have long had conflicting laws, and the federal government has never before refused to yield to a state’s definition of who is legally wed. "The federal government has never taken this step against any other class of marriages in American history," says Andrew Koppelman, a professor at Northwestern University Law School. "Not between uncles and nieces, not between blacks and whites, not between young teenagers," he says. "Never, ever before."
Koppelman says this lawsuit may well succeed, in part, because it’s limited in scope. The plaintiffs are suing only for recognition from the federal government, but not from other states. Their suit does not address the part of DOMA that protects states from having to recognize a gay marriage from another state. But that’s little comfort to opponents of gay marriage like Sprigg. "Obviously it’s not going to be just limited to this," he says. "The people who are pressing this are people who believe that same-sex marriage is a civil right and should be legal in all 50 states. That is their ultimate goal and they will not be satisfied until that goal is achieved."
Bush and Ritchie laugh at the suggestion. "Of course!" they say; they’d love to see gay marriage legal everywhere. But that is a different fight, they say. This battle is for couples like them who are already married. "This is about my family and protecting my family," says Bush. "You know, [the fight for marriage] is over in Massachusetts. It’s done. We just need to recognize that." If they prevail in federal court, and through an appeal, it’ll almost certainly be the U.S. Supreme Court that decides whether a same-sex marriage in Massachusetts ought to mean more than it already does.
May 11, 2010 – 365 Gay
Undocumented gay immigrants speak out
by Jennifer Vanasco, editor in chief, 365gay.com
Sometimes we forget that what seem to be big, mainstream news stories affect us, too. Take immigration. Sure, we’re all aware of the need to unite gay foreign citizens with their U.S. citizen partners. We’ve all heard the stories of couples torn apart (or forced to move to Canada) because one is from Brazil, one is from the US and neither can get citizenship in the others’ country.
But LGBT immigrants without partners need help, too. And today in Midtown, thanks to the National Queer Asian Pacific Alliance, I met a few of them, people with heartbreaking stories whose lives are made harder because they’re gay. Take Dania, from Indonesia, who grew up in a Muslim family. In tears, Dania explained that “life was very scary for me.” She knew of a gay man who had been killed for being gay and a lesbian who had been raped in order to turn her straight. She was afraid she would be stoned or killed if word got out.
When she came out to her best friend at age 15, the friend stopped speaking to her, because having a gay friend was too frightening. Then, Dania came to America, expecting life to be better. And it was – sort of. She’s able to be openly gay here. But because she’s undocumented (she was denied asylum by a judge, because she didn’t have enough proof that she was gay and she wasn’t personally tortured), she now has to stay in the closet about her immigration status. And she misses her family. And she can’t go home, because if she does, she can’t come back.
Then there’s Pradip, a handsome, solemn young man in a bowtie. Pradip came here with his family when he was 3. He went to a respected American college. But only as a teenager did he learn about his undocumented status – and that makes it impossible for him to find (legal) work. Pradip sounds like an American, he looks like an American – in fact, he hasn’t been back to Bangladesh since he was a toddler, so for all intents and purposes, he IS an American. Except he’s not. Because there’s no longer an easy route to amnesty. (Pradip is going to become a regular contributor to 365gay; read his first piece.)
Dania and Pradip were joined by the Rev. Noel Bordador from the Phillipines, who formerly was undocumented – and now is a social worker and Episcopal priest, because he wanted “to give something back to this country.” And Ken Takeuchi, a formerly undocumented worker from Japan, who now is co-chair of the Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York.
Ben de Guzman, co-director of NQAPIA, said that hearing stories like theirs was important, because the immigration debate is often narrowed to include only Latinos – or, in the gay community, to only include people with partners. But LGBTs who immigrate here have special horrors: it can be too dangerous for them to return to their country of origin if they are deported; and often, their family cuts them off when they learn they are gay, which means they are often left with no support system. And if they are harrassed at their barely-living-wage jobs because they are gay, what can they do?
The gay community may shun them because they are illegal; the immigrant community may shun them because they are gay. “What we need,” de Guzman says, “is comprehensive immigration reform that provides a clear path to citizenship for all immigrants, protects our families, communities and workplaces, and ensures our safety and human dignity.” For Pradip and Dania, that reform cannot come too soon.
May 14, 2010 – The New York Times
A Heaven-Sent Rent Boy
by Frank Rich
Of all wars, only culture wars offer the hope of sheer, unadulterated hilarity. Sex and hypocrisy were staples of farce long before America became a nation, and they never go out of style. Just listen to the roaring audience at the new hit Broadway revival of the perennial “La Cage aux Folles,” where a family-values politician gets his comeuppance in drag. Or check out the real-life closet case of George Rekers, who has been fodder for late-night television comics all month.
Rekers is in a class by himself even in the era of Larry Craig and Ted Haggard. A Baptist minister and clinical psychologist with a bent for “curing” homosexuality, the married, 61-year-old Rekers was caught by Miami New Times last month in the company of a 20-year-old male escort at Miami International Airport. The couple was returning from a 10-day trip to London and Madrid. New Times, which published its exposé in early May, got an explanation from Rekers: “I had surgery, and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.”
Alas, a photo showed Rekers, rather than his companion, handling the baggage cart. The paper also reported that Rekers had recruited the young man from Rentboy.com, a Web site whose graphic sexual content requires visitors to vouch for their age. Rentboy.com — really, who could make this stuff up? Much like the former Senator Craig, Rekers claims it was all an innocent mix-up. His only mistake, he told the magazine Christianity Today, was to hire a “travel assistant” without proper vetting. Their travels were not in vain. The good minister expressed gratitude that his rent boy “did let me share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him with many Scriptures in three extended conversations.”
This is a family newspaper, so you must supply your own jokes here. But once we stop laughing, we must remember that culture wars are called wars for a reason. For all the farcical shenanigans they can generate, they do inflict real casualties — both at the micro level, on the lives of ordinary people, and at the national level, where, as we’re seeing right now, a Supreme Court nominee’s entire record can be reduced to a poisonous and distorted debate over her stand on the single culture-war issue of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Rekers is no bit player in these wars. Though he’s not a household name, he should be. He’s the Zelig of homophobia, having played a significant role in many of the ugliest assaults on gay people and their civil rights over the last three decades. His public career dates back to his authorship of a theoretically scholarly 1982 tome titled “Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality.” (I say theoretically because many of the footnotes cite his own previous writings.) And what did Rekers think that families should know? By Chapter 2, he is citing the cautionary tale of how one teacher’s “secret homosexual lifestyle most likely led to his murder.”
May 15 2010 – Reuters
U.S. Episcopal Church consecrates lesbian bishop
Los Angeles (Reuters) – The Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles ordained an openly lesbian bishop on Saturday, a move likely to stoke further tensions between liberals and conservatives in the deeply divided global Anglican Communion. Mary Douglas Glasspool is now a suffragan, or assistant, bishop in a liberal diocese on America’s famously tolerant West Coast, and she offered to meet with her critics as a "reconciling person". Some 3,000 people attended the ceremony, said diocese spokesman Bob Williams. "The event was joyful and well attended," he said. Two people, a man and a young boy, disrupted the beginning of the service, urging people to repent and calling homosexuality a sin, but otherwise it went as planned.
The event is news for the 77 million Anglicans around the world and the seriously split Anglican Communion, the group of Anglican national churches in which the Episcopal Church is the U.S. member. The Communion was rocked by the Episcopal Church’s consecration of its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003. It urged the U.S. Church not to appoint another homosexual bishop because of the stiff opposition to change from conservative Anglicans, mostly in Africa. Some conservative Episcopalians have since left to form their own church, the Anglican Church in North America, in protest against liberal reforms in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
The conservative African churches will protest strongly and redouble their efforts to defend traditional policies against homosexual clergy. Traditionalists in the Church of England who oppose plans to permit women bishops there will probably see it as another reason to leave for the Roman Catholic Church. In an interview with Reuters Television, Glasspool said she was ready to meet with critics. "I am a reconciling person and I will seek to reach out and engage with people who believe or think differently than I do, and to try to build a relationship with them," she said. The ceremony also consecrated a second bishop suffragan, Diane Jardine Bruce.
The Glasspool drama is unfolding against the backdrop of America’s wider debate over sexual orientation issues, such as gay marriage, child adoption by same-sex parents and the status of homosexuals in the military. Polls consistently show gays and lesbians enjoying growing acceptance in American society. But fast-growing faiths in the United States, such as many evangelical Protestant churches and the Mormon church, regard homosexual relations as sinful and proscribed by scripture, and voters have opposed gay marriage, including in California. The Anglican Communion is the third-largest Christian denomination in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches.
(Reporting by Erik Tavcar and Alan Devall in Los Angeles, Peter Henderson in Oakland and Ed Stoddard in Houston. Writing by Ed Stoddard: editing by Tom Heneghan and Sandra Maler)
May 17, 2010 – Chicago Tribune
Gay immigrants savor freedom – Growing number win asylum in U.S. based on sexual orientation
by Georgia Garvey, RedEye
John Ademola knows there is no asylum from hatred, no refuge from ignorance. But after decades of battling his own identity as a gay man in Nigeria, afraid for his life and safety, the former Catholic priest who now lives in the Chicago area knows a new reality. "If any crazy person decides to kill me simply because I’m gay, here (in the U.S.), the community will still ask, ‘Why did you do it?’" he said. In America, "there’s not a government after me."
Ademola applied for — and was granted — asylum in the U.S. in 2009 based on his homosexuality and fear of what he might face if he returned to Nigeria. He now holds a green card that puts him on the track to U.S. citizenship.
The Riverdale resident, 50, is one in a seemingly growing but hard-to-track group of Chicago-based immigrants who’ve successfully applied for asylum based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such asylum applications have been possible for 16 years, after then-Attorney General Janet Reno declared an LGBT asylum case precedent.
Experts say there are likely many more immigrants who could apply for asylum based on their LGBT status. But many don’t know they can or fear the repercussions of doing so.
May 24, 2010 – Daily Nexus
Harvey Milk Honored by LGBTQ Community
by Kristen Peters
LGBTQ community members and allies celebrated California’s first annual Harvey Milk Day with a neighborhood picnic at Alameda Park on Saturday. The day of recognition honored the life of the first openly gay man to hold public office in the United States and was commemorated by rallies and events throughout California, the first state to declare a holiday for Milk. This weekend’s picnic, sponsored by the Pacific Pride Foundation and co-hosted by city councilman Das Williams, featured public addresses by Santa Barbara officials that highlighted their support for the queer community.
California celebrates Harvey Milk Day on Saturday, recognizing the first openly gay man elected to public office. Rallies and events were held throughout California in his honor. In true Milk style, local officials addressed the crowd in front of a rainbow flag, using a megaphone and standing atop a soapbox. “I was in San Francisco first hand to see the bravery of Harvey Milk,” Janet Wolf, Santa Barbara’s second district supervisor, said. “He touched me deeply when he fought against the Briggs Initiative. And it’s from him, from Harvey Milk, from that passion, that I decided to run for the Board of Supervisors.”
David Selberg, executive director for the Pacific Pride Foundation, said cooperation from community representatives was instrumental to the success of the event. “What was really moving to me was the complete support we got from the county board of supervisors, current and former mayors and local officials,” Selberg said. “They helped in the production, came out and had proclamations. We really couldn’t have done it without them.”
Despite experiencing multiple instances of open discrimination, Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. During his career in city politics, he fought to end intolerance against gays and lesbians, and forged a political coalition of gay rights groups, labor unions and small-business owners. Milk was murdered in 1978 by former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White. His death drew such attention that he has since become a national political icon and inspiration for the queer community and their allies.
UCSB students in attendance at Saturday’s celebration said Milk’s accomplishments are deserving of wide recognition. “Harvey Milk did a lot for the queer community and it’s largely ignored,” Marsha Donat, fourth-year sociology major, said. “I think it’s important to acknowledge his achievements and celebrate his success.” According to Anna Sorensen, a graduate student in the department of sociology, Milk’s unique legacy has helped unite the queer community.
“I think it’s very important for people to have a hero of our own to look up to,” Sorensen said. “[Milk is] someone that we can celebrate, someone that we can emulate and someone that we can look up to.”
May 27, 2010 – Human Rights Campaign
Huge news: Just minutes ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."
This historic vote follows the successful vote earlier today in the Senate Armed Services Committee. The issue will now move to the full Senate floor sometime this summer. After years of fighting to end this law, these two votes are a thrilling step forward, not just for lesbian and gay service members – but for each and every American who believes in equality. While this is by no means the end of the road to repeal, today’s advances never could have happened without the passionate calls, emails and letters of veterans, service members and people like you.
Through all of this, the most impactful thing to me is how repeal will affect the men and women who are serving in silence now as well as those who desperately want to rejoin. HRC’s military consultant Jarrod Chlapowski relayed this story to me that should remind us all why we do this work:
This morning a friend still on active duty called me to ask what I thought about today’s votes. "We got it, man," I responded. He didn’t believe me and frankly, I didn’t quite believe it myself. As I tried to tell him how good a position we are in, the phone became silent. I asked if he was ok, only to realize he simply couldn’t get the words out to respond. He was crying. We both were. Finally, a whispered "thank you." It’s incredible to be faced with the thing you’ve been longing to see since taking the oath to serve and defend the country against all enemies foreign and domestic. I – and many like me – long to take the oath again. And because of events this week, I believe we will. So this is what history feels like.
Having come so far toward the repeal that Jarrod and other veterans have so longed for, we must not let up the pressure now. As the fight moves to the full Senate, final victory is no sure thing. And we must continue to be vigilant. Even if the repeal passes in Congress, we’ll need your continued support to see it through the Pentagon study and certification that will follow.
78% of Americans favor ending "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" according to a recent CNN poll, yet the right-wing lobbying machine is still working night and day to hijack repeal before the full Senate votes. So in the wake of this week’s inspiring victories, we’ll be counting on your continued calls, emails and letters to help us keep up the momentum for repeal.
Thank you for everything you’ve done to bring us so far. We’ll be in touch as the fight moves on in the Senate!
May 28, 2010 – Reuters
House votes to repeal military gay ban
by Phil Stewart
(Reuters) – Lawmakers in both chambers of the Congress took steps on Thursday toward repealing a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military, a goal championed by President Barack Obama. The House of Representatives voted 234-194 to approve an amendment aimed at ending the Clinton-era "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy that allows homosexuals to serve in secret but expels them if their sexual orientation becomes known.
Visitors cheered in the House galleries after the vote, which followed similar action by a Senate panel a few hours earlier. There are still several more legislative steps before the change can become law.
"With our military fighting two wars, why on earth would we tell over 13,500 able-bodied troops that their services are not needed?" Representative Patrick Murphy argued before the House voted on the amendment to a defense policy bill. Murphy, formerly in the U.S. Army, was the first veteran of the Iraq war to serve in Congress. He sponsored the House amendment. "It’s time for this policy to go. It doesn’t reflect America’s best values for equal opportunity and it is not good for the military," independent Senator Joseph Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services committee, said after the panel voted 16-12 to change the law.
President Barack Obama said he was pleased with the vote. "This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity," he said in a statement. Even if Congress gives final approval to such bill, repeal also would require certification from Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, that the new law would not have a negative impact on readiness, unit cohesion, recruitment and troop retention.
The Pentagon also needs to complete a review on how to implement the repeal, due by December 1. Ending the 17-year-old ban would be a major victory for Obama and for gay rights advocates who supported his 2008 presidential campaign.
But it is also a political issue that has long divided the U.S. military. Opposition Republicans, gearing up for congressional elections in November in which they are expected to make gains, accused Obama of using the U.S. armed forces to engage in a "social experiment."
"Is this the sort of thing that George Washington or our founders would be proud of?" asked Republican Representative Todd Akin in the House debate. "I will not betray my children or our armed services people just for mere politics." Republicans criticized Obama’s Democrats for failing to wait until completion of the Pentagon study. "We’re dissing the troops, that’s what we’re doing. We’re disrespecting them," said Representative Howard McKeon, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.
Recent polls show most Americans support the repeal of the 1993 ban, but opponents fear it could increase strain on a military already stretched by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senator John McCain, Obama’s challenger in the 2008 election, pointed to copies of letters from the heads of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines saying they had wanted Congress to wait until the Pentagon completed its study. Lieberman voiced confidence that the full Senate would sign off on legislation, saying: "We’ve got some momentum now."
Murphy said: "When I served in Baghdad, my team didn’t care whether a fellow soldier was gay. We cared if they could fire their M-4 assault rifle or run a convoy down Ambush alley … do their job so that everyone in our unit could get home safely."
(Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro and Susan Cornwell; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
June 3, 2010 – PinkNews
Obama grants gay federal workers more benefits
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
US president Barack Obama has expanded benefits for the partners of gay federal employees. The move includes access to medical treatment, relocation assistance, child-care services and fitness centres. These new rights build on those granted by the administration last June. However, the Defence of Marriage Act means gay partners of federal employees will still be barred from accessing health insurance and retirement plans.
In a statement, Mr Obama said the law meant he could not fully equalise benefits and called on Congress to pass new legislation. He added that he was directing government agencies to find more ways in which benefits for straight and gay couples could be equalised. Human Rights Watch welcomed the changes but said they were proof that the Defence of Marriage Act must be repealed.
The group’s president Joe Solmonese said: "All employees should be treated equally and without discrimination, whether they are straight or LGBT and this is certainly a positive step in that direction. The limitations of these new benefits however serve as a glaring reminder that the Defence of Marriage Act ultimately stands in the way of providing true equality to LGBT Americans.”
The new benefits will not apply to partners of members of the armed forces as this would require servicemembers to out themselves, thereby breaking the law.
June 04, 2010 – Salon.com
Brazilian man, Mass. husband rejoin in asylum case
by Russell Contreras, Associated Press
A Brazilian man was reunited with his Massachusetts husband this week after U.S. Sen. John Kerry pressed federal officials to temporarily allow the 31-year-old gay man back into the country on humanitarian grounds. Brazilian-born Genesio Oliveira (heh-NEH’-see-oh oh-lee-VEH’-ih-uh) rejoined Tim Coco, 49, of Haverhill, at an emotional reunion at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
Gay rights and immigrant advocates declared the case a rare victory for gay, married asylum seekers. "I’m delighted," said Oliveira, who married Coco in 2005 in Massachusetts where gay marriage is legal. "I’ve been waiting for this to happen. I never really undid my bags since returning to Brazil." Nearly three years ago, the couple split when Oliveira, nicknamed "Junior," was forced to return to Brazil after being denied asylum in the U.S. because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages.
The pair maintained contact through online video chats and sporadic visits during holidays. The case gained international attention from gay rights and immigrant advocates who criticized U.S. officials for separating the couple who were legally married. Last year, Kerry asked Attorney General Eric Holder to grant Oliveira asylum on humanitarian grounds. Then in March, Kerry wrote Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano asking her to issue Oliveira "humanitarian parole" based on his fear of persecution in Brazil.
Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the U.S. for a temporarily because of a compelling emergency, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Last month, Kerry called Coco to inform him that Oliveira had been granted humanitarian parole and would be allowed to stay in the U.S. for at least a year. "Obviously we’ll work on a permanent solution, but for right now I just couldn’t be happier that the system worked and Tim and Junior are reunited," Kerry said. "This is a very sweet moment, long overdue, but sweeter because they decided it was worth the wait."
Oliveira said he will again try for permanent residency in the U.S. either on the basis of his marriage or as an asylum-seeker who feels threatened by anti-gay violence in his country. Although Brazil is one of Latin America’s most tolerant countries toward gays, a number of Brazilian gays have convinced U.S. judges to grant them asylum on the grounds they would face persecution if sent home.
Federal immigration officials held Oliveira for three hours for interrogation following his landing Wednesday in Atlanta. He missed his connecting flight to Boston and caught a later one. "It was a very difficult journey with a lot of hopeful leads that didn’t pan out," Coco said. "Kerry’s office never gave up. We’re glad he didn’t." Coco said he hopes their case helps other married gay couples who are in immigration limbo.
Victoria Neilson, Legal Director of Immigration Equality, a New York-based nonprofit group that helps gay clients with immigration cases, said she believes Oliveira’s successful re-entry was an isolated case and doesn’t reflect any new trends in immigration law. "It’s still an open question on what happens to gay couples separated by current immigration laws," Neilson said. She said the only way the uncertainty can be addressed is for Congress to include married gay couples in any proposed comprehensive immigration reform.
June 10, 2010 – PinkNews
US changes passport rules for trans people
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
American trans men and women will be able to get their new gender recognised on their passports without having to undergo gender reassignment surgery. The change, announced by the US State Department yesterday, is the result of lobbying from trans groups who said trans travellers could face danger when visiting some countries with a passport that does not match their appearance. Previously, the department would only allow applicants to change their passport gender if they had undergone complete gender surgery.
The change takes effect immediately and gives those who have "undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition" the opportunity to declare their new gender on passports. Patients currently transitioning will be able to obtain a limited-validity passport with supporting evidence from their doctor. The statement did not set out what "appropriate clinical treatment" meant but Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told AP it could mean surgery for some patients but not for others.
June 10, 2010 – PinkNews
77% of Americans know a gay friend, relative or colleague
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A poll has found increasing visibility of gay people in America, plus rising tolerance levels for homosexuality. According to CBS polling, only 42 per cent of Americans said they knew a gay person in 1992 but this has now risen to 77 per cent. Only 22 per cent in the latest study claimed they did not know anyone at all who was gay. The survey also asked about attitudes to homosexuality. Forty-three per cent said they felt same-sex relations were wrong, compared to 48 per cent who said they were not.
This was a slight decrease from January 2009, when another survey found 54 per cent of respondents felt homosexuality was not wrong. In 1978, 62 per cent of people thought homosexuality was wrong. Knowing someone who is gay or lesbian was found to affect how people feel about the morality of gay sex. Fifty-three per cent of those who know someone who is gay or lesbian do not believe same-sex relations between consenting adults are wrong, while 54 per cent of those who do not know anyone who is gay or lesbian think such relations are wrong.
The majority of people (51 per cent) believe homosexuality is something people are born with, while 36 per cent think it is something people choose to be. Fifty-three per cent of Americans think it is necessary to have laws that protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in hiring and promotion, 43 per cent do not. As a previous study found, more people gave their approval when the survey used the phrase "gay or lesbian, rather than "homosexual".
When asked if being gay is a choice, 36 per cent said yes when the survey mentioned homosexuality and 39 per cent said yes when it asked about gay and lesbian people. The telephone poll surveyed 1054 adults nationwide between May 20th and 24th.
June 11, 2010 – PinkNews
US domestic violence law covers gay victims, justice dept confirms
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The US justice department has confirmed that federal laws giving protection against domestic violence also apply to gays and lesbians. A memo posted yesterday by the department said prosecutors should enforce criminal provisions in the Violence Against Women Act in cases involving gay and lesbian relationships. These provisions include those related to domestic violence, stalking and protection order violations.
The Defence of Marriage Act says that federal law can only consider the words "spouse" and "marriage" to relate to opposite-sex couples. But David J Barron, the acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, said that domestic violence laws also contain phrases such as “dating partner” and “intimate partner.” “The text, relevant case law and legislative history all support the conclusion” that the law’s criminal provisions “apply when the offender and the victim are the same sex,” Mr. Barron wrote.
Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said: “Today’s memorandum by the Department of Justice is one step forward in ensuring that LGBT people are protected by our federal domestic violence laws. “Some of our families, like all Americans, experience domestic violence and those impacted by such violence should enjoy equal protections, and equal dignity, when they seek assistance from law enforcement. We thank the Department of Justice for releasing this important interpretation.”
A 2010 report by the National Centre for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programmes found that gay couples are just as likely to be affected by domestic violence as heterosexual couples.
June 23, 2010 – PinkNews
President Obama vows to push ahead with gay rights agenda
by Christopher Brocklebank
President Obama addressed an LGBT audience at the White House last night, assuring them that he is fully committed to repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and to other issues including same-sex visitation rights in hospitals and the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. At the reception, held to mark gay and lesbian pride month, Mr Obama said that "committed gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country".
However, despite the President’s promise to take action over the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, he does not endorse same-sex marriage, instead favouring civil unions which he claims will give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples. Also, his incremental approach to gay rights issues has left some LGBT activists frustrated. Gay activist Lane Hudson said, "We still need laws passed that achieve what these minimal efforts attempt to do piecemeal".
Despite this, the Family Equality Council, a body that works on behalf of gay men and women and their families, issued a statement commending Mr Obama for "small but significant steps" on behalf of LGBT people. However, they added that it was the "big-ticket" issues including gay adoption rights and laws barring discrimination in the workplace that needed his full attention. A Gallup poll last month found that 70 per cent of Americans favoured allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military. However, the poll also found that 53 per cent opposed legalisation of gay marriage.
2010 June 24 – PubMed.Gov
Latino men who have sex with men and HIV in the rural south-eastern USA: findings from ethnographic in-depth interviews.
by Rhodes SD, Hergenrather KC, Aronson RE, Bloom FR, Felizzola J, Wolfson M, Vissman AT, Alonzo J, Boeving Allen A, Montano J, McGuire J.
Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, USA.
A community-based participatory research partnership explored HIV risk and potentially effective intervention characteristics to reduce exposure and transmission among immigrant Latino men who have sex with men living in the rural south-eastern USA. Twenty-one participants enrolled and completed a total of 62 ethnographic in-depth interviews. Mean age was 31 (range 18-48) years and English-language proficiency was limited; 18 participants were from Mexico. Four participants reported having sex with men and women during the past three months; two participants self-identified as male-to-female transgender. Qualitative themes that emerged included a lack of accurate information about HIV and prevention; the influence of social-political contexts to sexual risk; and barriers to healthcare services. We also identified eight characteristics of potentially effective interventions for HIV prevention. Our findings suggest that socio-political contexts must be additional targets of change to reduce and eliminate HIV health disparities experienced by immigrant Latino men who have sex with men.
July 2010 – CNN
The last person out of the closet? The bisexual male
by Stephanie Chen, CNN
(CNN) – Robert Winn met his wife, Christine, in college. He was a fraternity boy. She was a sorority girl. Early in their relationship, he made a confession, a thorny secret he camouflaged from his closest family and friends. The truth sputtered out awkwardly. Sensing his nervousness, she speculated he would announce he was sick — or perhaps dying? He told her he was bisexual. On the surface, Robert Winn, now 40, and Christine Winn, 41, appear to be like any other blissfully married heterosexual couple. They boast nearly 18 years of monogamous marriage. He’s a well-respected physician, who works with the LGBT community in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She’s a successful hospital administrator. The couple says they’ve grown closer over time, but like any marriage, two people can have differences — including sexual orientation. Christine Winn is straight, and she has been supportive of her husband, who is openly bisexual.
"I don’t think about it [his bisexuality] as a part I have to accept," she said. "It’s just a part of him like any other husband who loses their socks on the floor or doesn’t take the trash out." Her husband feels a sexual and emotional attraction toward men and women. While he fantasizes about Angelina Jolie just as his straight male friends might do, he is also attracted to Brad Pitt. This may sound like the best of both worlds, but being openly bisexual can be complicated. He frequently battles the stereotypes of bisexuality: That bisexual men are promiscuous. That his relationships with men were just an adolescent phase. That his bisexuality is imaginary. That he’s really a gay man trying to camouflage his orientation.
"There is a whole list of assumptions of what my life might be like, that somehow she is some sort of front for me because I’m not willing to accept I’m gay," he said. "People are confused by bisexuality. There’s just not a lot of support for people who fall in the middle like me." More than 50 percent of Americans accept the idea of a gay or lesbian relationship, signaling growing support for same-sex couples, according to a Gallup poll in May. The poll, however, doesn’t address the issue of bisexuality, often defined as having a romantic attraction to both men and women. It’s a sexual orientation some advocacy groups and researchers say remains challenging because neither the gay community nor the straight population advocates for men and women who are attracted to both sexes.
"It’s either you’re in the closet or out of the closet, and it’s not that simple," David Malebranche, a physician and professor of medicine at Emory University, says about the common perception of bisexuals. About 1.8 percent of men and women between the ages of 15 and 44 identified themselves as bisexual, according to a 2005 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers caution the government’s figures are murky because many bisexuals will not Ben Pierce, a 22-year-old recent college graduate living in Massachusetts who identifies as bisexual, can understand why bisexuals are hesitant to come forward. He likens being bisexual today to being biracial in the 1960s, a period when racism and discrimination were widespread. A person who was mixed race often couldn’t feel comfortable among either racial group, Pierce explained.
"You’re caught in between these two very different groups of straight people and gay people, and neither one really accepts you," he said. Over the last century, scholars began to examine the dual attraction to females and males through scientific research. In the 1920s, psychologist Sigmund Freud theorized that bisexuality was an innate trait found in humans. Several decades later, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey became infamous for his six-point scale to determine whether a person was heterosexual, homosexual or in between. The spectrum showed there are varying degrees of homosexuality and heterosexuality.
July 9, 2010 – PinkNews
Massachusetts judge rules Defence of Marriage Act is unconstitutional
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A judge in Boston, Massachusetts, has ruled that America’s federal ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional as it interferes with the individual rights of states. The ruling means the estimated 16,000 married gay couples in Massachusetts have the right to the same federal benefits enjoyed by married straight couples. Massachusetts was the first US state to legalise gay marriage in 2004 and is the first to challenge the controversial Act, introduced in 1996.
President Barack Obama promised to repeal the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) in his election campaign, calling it "abhorrent". It states that only a marriage between one man and one woman will be recognised for federal purposes, thus barring gay married couples from a number of rights, including federal healthcare benefits. In his ruling yesterday, US District Judge Joseph Tauro said that "irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest", and that DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment.
He ruled simultaneously on two separate lawsuits brought to challenge the ban. One was filed by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of eight gay married couples and three widows and the other was filed by Massachusetts Attorney-General Martha Coakley. Ms Coakley said the decision was "a victory for civil rights". Mary Bonauto, GLAD’s civil rights project director, who argued the case, said: “Today the court simply affirmed that our country won’t tolerate second-class marriages.
"I’m pleased that Judge Tauro recognised that married same-sex couples and surviving spouses have been seriously harmed by DOMA and that the plaintiffs deserve the same opportunities to care and provide for each other and for their children that other families enjoy. This ruling will make a real difference for countless families in Massachusetts.”
Nancy Gill, who was a plaintiff with her wife, Marcelle Letourneau, said: “I am thrilled that my family will now be treated in the same way as those of my married co-workers at the post office. “Marcelle and I married out of love and commitment to each other first and foremost, but federal recognition of our marriage means that we’ll have equal access to important protections for our two children and for ourselves.”
The Obama administration may appeal the ruling, although legal experts believe that if upheld by a higher court, the case could have far wider implications. Boston College professor Kent Greenfield, a constitutional law expert, told AP today that the rulings could encourage other attorney-generals to challenge DOMA in their states, "One thing that’s going to be really interesting to watch is whether the Obama administration appeals or not," he said.
The Department of Justice has not yet said whether it will appeal.
July 19, 2010 – PinkNews
US gay group gains UN accreditation
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has been granted consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council. The US-based gay rights body has been lobbying for accreditation since 2007 and becomes the tenth LGBT rights organisation to be recognised by the council. The 54-member council approved the group’s application for consultative status by a vote of 23-13 with 13 abstentions.
The decision means that the IGLHRC can participate in a more formal way with the UN through attending meetings, submitting statements and collaborating with the UN and world governments. Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC’s executive director, said: "Today’s decision is an affirmation that the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have a place at the United Nations as part of a vital civil society community.
"The clear message here is that these voices should not be silenced and that human rights cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." The group has been struggling to gain accreditation for the last three years and believes it was subjected to homophobic questioning and procedural roadblocks because it is a gay organisation.
July 20, 2010 – PinkNews
Lesbian teenager banned from prom wins $35,000 damages in settlement
by Jessica Geen
A lesbian teenager who was barred from attending her Mississippi school’s prom with her girlfriend has settled her case with the school district. Constance McMillen, 18, won $35,000 in damages, plus an agreement from Itawamba County School District to implement anti-discrimination policies. The Itawamba Agricultural High School student was told earlier this year she could not arrive at the event with her girlfriend and the two could not wear tuxedos or dance together. When the teenager filed a lawsuit, the school cancelled the event rather than allow her to attend in the same way as any other student.
The school later agreed to hold an inclusive prom, but Ms McMillen arrived to discover she had been invited to a fake event, while her heterosexual classmates were enjoying a private event in another location. She sued the school district with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union. Yesterday, they accepted a settlement offer of $35,000 plus attorney fees, in addition to an agreement by the school district to follow a policy not to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity in any educational or extracurricular activities.
Ms McMillen, who was so badly harassed by other students she had to move schools, said: "I’m so glad this is all over. I won’t ever get my prom back, but it’s worth it if it changes things at my school. "I hope this means that in the future students at my school will be treated fairly. I know there are students and teachers who want to start a gay-straight alliance club, and they should be able to do that without being treated like I was by the school."
Christine P Sun, senior counsel with the ACLU LGBT Project, said: "Constance went through a great deal of harassment and humiliation simply for standing up for her rights, and she should be proud of what she has accomplished. "Thanks to her bravery, we now not only have a federal court precedent that can be used to protect the rights of students all over the country to bring the date they want to their proms, but we also have the first school anti-discrimination policy of its kind in Mississippi." The school district has not yet commented on the decision.
July 25, 2010 – The New York Times
Sexual Outlaw on the Gay Frontier
by Patricia Cohen
When the author Justin Spring finally tracked down the executor of Samuel Steward’s estate, he had no idea what this sexual outlaw and little-known literary figure had left behind after his death in 1993. So he was taken unawares by the 80 boxes full of drawings, letters, photographs, sexual paraphernalia, manuscripts and other items, including an autograph and reliquary with pubic hair from Rudolph Valentino, a thousand-page confessional journal Steward created at the request of the sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, and a green metal card catalog labeled “Stud File,” which contained a meticulously documented record on index cards of every sexual experience and partner — Rock Hudson, Thornton Wilder, “One-eyed Sadist” — that Steward said he had had over 50 years.
An attic full of items contained a secret history of a little-documented strand of gay life in the middle decades of the 20th century. Steward’s experience stands in stark contrast to the familiar story of furtive concealment and persecution in the period before gay liberation. As new biographies of artists and writers like E.M. Forster detail the effects of sexual repression on their work, Steward’s history shows what a life of openness, when embraced, entailed day to day.
Mr. Spring, who has written biographies of the American artists Fairfield Porter and Paul Cadmus, became intrigued by Steward after coming across some of his witty and ribald letters. He managed to find the executor, Michael Williams, who was almost as much of an obsessive hoarder as Steward and had squirreled away the artifacts in his San Francisco home after rescuing them from the floor-to-ceiling squalor that the enfeebled Steward had built up in his final years. For nearly a decade Mr. Williams doggedly eluded rare manuscript dealers while he pondered what to do with Steward’s legacy.
“It was an Aladdin’s cave of gay paraphernalia and record keeping that was covered with dust and smelled like dog,” said Mr. Spring, whose biography “Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade” is due out next month. (At the moment Mr. Spring is storing the collection.)
This unusual cache is significant because source material from this period is rare, said Martin Duberman, a professor emeritus and founder of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. “It’s a real treasure trove he stumbled upon.” Many of Steward’s contemporaries — and their heirs — destroyed or hid evidence of their homosexuality. Mr. Spring said, for example, that Donald C. Gallup, a curator at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, bought 24 of Wilder’s notes to Steward, but did not catalog them, and they remained on a back shelf until Mr. Spring traced them.
Jason Baumann, curator of the lesbian and gay collection for the New York Public Library, said, “It’s exactly the kind of material that I constantly have historians and the general public wanting to have.” Reconstructing Steward’s life was not easy, Mr. Spring recently explained from his sunny studio apartment in Midtown Manhattan. At first he didn’t realize that some of the odd puzzle pieces he happened upon even belonged to the same jigsaw because Steward had so many identities in an era when homosexuality could land a person in jail.
The novelist and professor at a Roman Catholic university who was born in 1909 into an austere and puritanical Methodist household in Ohio was Samuel M. Steward. But as the author of gay pulp fiction, he went by Phil Andros and a half-dozen other pseudonyms; Hells Angels in Oakland, Calif., who used him as their official tattoo artist, called him Doc Sparrow; readers of his articles in underground newspapers and magazines knew him as Ward Stames. To a close circle of artistic friends like Wilder, Cadmus, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Christopher Isherwood, the photographer George Platt Lynes and others, he was simply Sammy.
August 4, 2010 – The New York Times
Court Rejects Same-Sex Marriage Ban in California
by Jesse McKinley and John Schwartz
San Francisco — Saying that it discriminates against gay men and women, a federal judge in San Francisco struck down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, handing supporters of such unions at least a temporary victory in a legal battle that seems all but certain to be settled by the Supreme Court. Wednesday’s decision is just the latest chapter in what is expected to be a long battle over the ban — Proposition 8, which was passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote. Indeed, while striking down Proposition 8, the decision will not immediately lead to any new same-sex marriages being performed in California. Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, immediately stayed his own decision, pending appeals by proponents of Proposition 8, who seem confident that higher courts would hear and favor their position.
But on Wednesday the winds seemed to be at the back of those who feel that marriage is not, as the voters of California and many other states have said, solely the province of a man and a woman. “Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause,” wrote Judge Walker. “Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.”
Supporters of Proposition 8 said that the decision defied the will of the people of California, and could well be an issue in November’s midterm elections. “This is going to set off a groundswell of opposition,” said Jim Garlow, the pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, Calif., and a prominent supporter of Proposition 8. “It’s going to rally people that might have been silent.” Wednesday’s decision applied only to California and not to the dozens of other states that have either constitutional bans or other prohibitions against same-sex marriage. Nor does it affect federal law, which does not recognize such unions.
Still, the very existence of federal court ruling recognizing same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, set off cheers of “We won!” from crowds assembled in front of the courthouse in San Francisco. Evening rallies and celebrations were planned in dozens of cities across the state and several across the nation. In West Hollywood, Ron Cook, 46, an accountant who is gay, said he was thrilled by the decision. “If the court had come back and upheld it,” he said. “I would have moved out of the state.”
The plaintiffs’ case was argued by David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, ideological opposites who once famously sparred in the 2000 Supreme Court battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore over the Florida recount and the presidency. The lawyers brought the case — Perry v. Schwarzenegger — in May 2009 on behalf of two gay couples who said that Proposition 8 impinged on their constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. On Wednesday, Mr. Olson called the decision a “victory for the American people,” and anyone who had been denied rights “because they are unpopular, because they are a minority, because they are viewed differently.”
For advocates of gay rights, same-sex marriage has increasingly become a central issue in their battle for equality, seen as both an emotional indicator of legitimacy and as a practical way to lessen discrimination. “Being gay is about forming an adult family relationship with a person of the same sex,” said Jennifer Pizer, the marriage project director for Lambda Legal in Los Angeles, who filed two briefs in support of the plaintiffs. “So denying us equality within the family system is to deny respect for the essence of who we are as gay people.”
But Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the defense, said Proposition 8 had nothing to do with discrimination, but rather with the will of California voters who “simply wished to preserve the historic definition of marriage.” “The other side’s attack upon their good will and motives is lamentable and preposterous,” Mr. Pugno said in a statement. During the trial, which ended in June, plaintiffs offered evidence from experts on marriage, sociology and political science, and emotional testimony from the two couples who had brought the case. Proponents for Proposition 8 offered a much more straightforward defense of the measure, saying that same-sex marriage damaged traditional marriage as an institution and that marriage was historically rooted in the need to foster procreation, which same-sex unions cannot, and was thus fundamental to the existence and survival of the human race.
But Judge Walker seemed skeptical of those claims. “Tradition alone, however,” he wrote, “cannot form the rational basis for a law. Even before appeals to higher courts, Judge Walker seemed ready to continue to hear arguments, telling both sides to submit responses to his motion to stay the decision by Friday, at which point he could lift or extend it. How the decision might play politically was also still unclear. In 2004, same-sex marriage was seen as a wedge issue that helped draw conservatives to the polls, and Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues, said that this decision could be used as a rallying cry for Republicans again. “But Democrats and most importantly President Obama will now have to take sides on whether gays deserve full equality,” Mr. Socarides wrote in an e-mail.
In California, it could also affect the race for governor. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has been vocal in his support of same-sex marriage in his current role as California attorney general and hailed the decision on Wednesday. Meg Whitman, a Republican, has taken the position that marriage should be between a man and a woman — in line with the language
August 12, 2010 – OnTop Magazine
Gay Marriages Resume As Judge Vaughn Walker Denies Prop 8 Stay
by Carlos Santoscoy
Gay marriages will resume in California after a federal judge Thursday denied a motion to stay his ruling against Proposition 8. “California is now the sixth state where same-sex couples share in the freedom to marry,” Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, said. “As the governor, the attorney general and Judge Walker have all concluded, there is no good reason to continue excluding same-sex couples from marriage.”
While Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker refused to stay his ruling, he declared that Proposition 8 will remain in effect until Wednesday, August 18 at 5PM, giving supporters of the measure nearly a week to appeal. City lawmakers in West Hollywood had announced they would begin marrying gay and lesbian couples on a first-come, first-serve basis at a local park, if the stay was lifted. Demonstrations and marches are also expected to take place in major cities.
Walker issued his 138-page ruling, which declared the gay marriage ban to be unconstitutional, last Wednesday. Walker concluded that the voter-approved measure violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry in California after conducting a 13-day trial in a San Francisco courtroom in January. A coalition of social conservative groups – including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and Protect Marriage – sponsored Proposition 8 after the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Voters narrowly approved the measure in November of 2008, just five months after the court’s decision.
Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violates federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process, but placed his decision on hold temporarily. On Friday, he heard arguments on whether to allow gay marriages to proceed as the case is being appealed. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown joined attorneys representing the plaintiffs – two gay couples – in urging Walker to lift the stay.
Schwarzenegger said the state was prepared to resume gay marriages. Brown, who last year refused to defend the law, agreed. “Government officials can resume issuing such licenses without administrative delay or difficulty,” the governor’s office said in its filing. Proponents of Prop 8 had argued that lifting the ban would put gay marriages taking place during the appeal process “under a cloud of uncertainty.” About 18,000 gay couples married during the 2008 window when gay marriage was legal.
August 16, 2010 – OnTop Magazine
Calif Gay Marriages On Hold As Ninth Court Stays Prop 8 Ruling
by Carlos Santoscoy
Gay marriage in California is back on hold after the Ninth Court of Appeals issued a late ruling Monday staying a lower court’s decision. Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, called the court’s decision “disappointing,” but added that he was encouraged by the court’s swift action. “[T]ere are many twists in the road to justice, and we are encouraged by the court’s setting a fast pace for the appeal, revealing that the judges understand how important a quick end to the exclusion from marriage is to gay couples, their loved ones, and all Americans who believe in equality under the law,” he said.
California Assembly Speaker John Perez expressed a similar sentiment. “The fact that the court is expediting the hearing schedule only underscores the point Judge Walker made in his ruling: LGBT Californians have suffered, and are suffering, from having our constitutional right to equal protection and due process violated every moment Prop 8 remains in effect,” Perez, who is openly gay, said.
Proponents of Proposition 8 had asked the appeals court to stay Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker‘s ruling that stuck down California’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, as the case moved into the appeals process. Walker declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional because it violates the right of gay men and lesbians to equal protection and due process. He put his ruling on hold until Wednesday, August 18 at 5PM, at which time, without the appeals court’s intervention, gay marriages would have resumed.
The appeals court will hear arguments in a San Francisco courtroom the week of December 6. “California voters spoke clearly on Prop 8, and we’re glad to see their votes will remain valid while the legal challenges work their way up through the courts,” Andy Pugno, general counsel for Protect Marriage, the sponsor of the initiative, said. “Invalidating the people’s vote based on just one judge’s opinion would not have been appropriate, and would have shaken the people’s confidence in our elections and the right to vote itself,” he added.
Protect Marriage intervened to defend the law after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown refused. Both officials had asked the court to allow gay marriages to resume on Wednesday. Protect Marriage is a coalition of social conservative groups that includes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), the California Catholic Conference and various evangelical churches. Voters approved Proposition 8 five months after the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2008.
August 23, 2010 – PinkNews
New US poll report finds changing attitudes to homosexuality
by Christopher Brocklebank
According to new national research, Americans have become more accepting of homosexuality of the past 16 years, with over half of those polled saying they support civil unions. As reported in the Desert Sun, a 1994 Pew Research Centre poll had found that under half its respondents agreed that homosexuality was "a way of life" that should be accepted by society.
But the Public Religion Research Institute‘s new report, released last Friday and compiled from a selction of public studies done over the last 20 years, said support for same-sex civil unions had risen from 45 per cent in 2003 to 57 per cent in 2009. The increase in support for same-sex marriage was more modest, but still showed an rise in support from 30 per cent in 2003 to 38 per cent in 2010. Among religious respondents to the recent polls, Latino Catholics showed more movement toward supporting gay marriage (at 57 per cent) than Latino Protestants (at 22 per cent).
National polls by the Pew Centre have apparently found that younger Americans are much more accepting of LGBT people, and researchers reportedly say that the generational divide over the issue will eventually bring about a collision. Daniel Cox, director of research for the Public Religion Research Institute and co-author of the report said, "The clergy risk alienating a significant number of young folks if they take a real hard line approach on same-sex marriage".
Despite such encouraging statistics, in the Proposition 8 issue, 52 per cent of Californians voted for the constitutional amendment which bars gay men and lesbians from marrying. When District Judge Vaughn Walker recently ruled that the ban was unconstitutional, it was expected that same-sex couples would be able to resume wedding plans last week, but opponents were successful in their plea that the ban should remain in place until they have appealed.
The ruling is currently being challenged in federal court, and the ban will remain until December when further proceedings against its lifting are to take place. Experts believe it wil be another two years before the case comes before the Supreme Court.