US judge strikes down Oregon gay marriage ban as state refuses to defend it
Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional right of all Americans to be treated equally, including a right to marry regardless of sexual orientation, a federal judge ruled Monday.
With his decision, US District Judge Michael McShane became the seventh federal judge to rule in recent months that limiting marriage to a union between one man and one woman discriminates against same-sex couples wishing to marry.
The judge said the right to equal treatment in marriage is protected under the US Constitution and may not be limited by voters or state governments seeking to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.
“Although states have wide latitude in regulating marriage, any such laws must abide by the Constitution,” Judge McShane wrote.
“At the core of the Equal Protection Clause … there exists a foundational belief that certain rights should be shielded from the barking crowds; that certain rights are subject to ownership by all and not the stake hold of popular trend or shifting majorities,” the judge said.
The 26-page decision invalidates a 2004 amendment to the state constitution – Measure 36 – that limited marriage to its traditional definition of husband and wife. Fifty-seven percent of Oregon voters approved the measure.
In addition to striking down Measure 36, the judge also invalidated all other Oregon statutes that restricted marriage based on sexual orientation. He said his decision was effective immediately.
Same-sex couples in Oregon had gathered near courthouses in advance of the decision to be in position to obtain marriage licenses moments after the ban was struck down.
Judge McShane, an appointee of President Obama, is himself openly gay. He dismissed suggestions of a possible conflict of interest in the case, notifying lawyers in an earlier proceeding that he and his partner have no intention of marrying.
Prior to the Oregon decision, 17 states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriages. Thirty-three states had banned gay marriage either by passing a statute or enacting a constitutional amendment.
In addition to Monday’s action in Oregon, federal judges have struck down same-sex marriage bans in six other states – Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Michigan, and, last week, in Idaho. Those decisions have all been stayed and are either under appeal or are about to be appealed.
A state judge in Arkansas also recently struck down that state’s limitations on same-sex marriage. The Arkansas Supreme Court has stayed that ruling pending an appeal.
The Oregon decision stems from two consolidated lawsuits filed on behalf of four same-sex couples.
The case was litigated under somewhat unusual circumstances after Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum decided they would offer no legal defense of the ban. Instead, they agreed with the plaintiffs that the state’s marriage laws should be overturned.
Lawyers with the conservative National Organization for Marriage (NOM) attempted to intervene in the case to inject an adversarial element to the litigation. Judge McShane rejected the group’s request.
The group also asked a federal appeals court to block McShane’s ruling long enough to allow NOM to argue for inclusion in the case. That request was rejected by the appeals court earlier Monday.
McShane acknowledged in his decision the unusual posture of the litigants. He said the case was “something akin to a friendly tennis match rather than a contested and robust proceeding between adversaries.”
Despite the lack of trappings of a legal battle, the judge said he understood the strong emotions swirling around the same-sex marriage issue.
“I am aware that a large number of Oregonians, perhaps even a majority, have religious or moral objections to expanding the definition of civil marriage (and thereby expanding the benefits and rights that accompany marriage) to gay and lesbian families,” the judge said.
He said given the long history of discrimination against homosexuals he was not surprised that many citizens “would wish to protect our beliefs and our families by turning to the ballot box to enshrine in law those traditions we have come to value.”
“But just as the Constitution protects the expression of these moral viewpoints, it equally protects the minority from being diminished by them,” he wrote.
The judge said there was no legitimate justification for treating same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples in terms of marriage.
He said moral disapproval cannot provide a justification, nor can adherence to tradition, or a desire to protect children and families.
“The relationship between prohibiting same-gender couples from marrying and protecting children and promoting stable families is utterly arbitrary and completely irrational,” McShane said.
“The state’s marriage laws fly in the face of the state’s strong interest in promoting stable and lasting families, including the families of same-sex couples and their children,” he said.
“Expanding the embrace of civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples will not burden any legitimate state interest,” he said.
The legal case that led to Monday’s decision began as lawsuits filed by four same-sex couples.
Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson have been in a committed relationship for 31 years and wished to marry in their home state. Robert Deuhmig and William Griesar were married in Vancouver and wanted the state government in Oregon to respect their marriage.
Paul Rummell and Ben West have been together for seven years and are foster parents to a young boy. Lisa Chickadonz and Christine Tanner have been in a relationship for 30 years and have raised two children.
In their lawsuits, the couples said that the same-sex marriage ban stigmatized them and their children, and sent a message that they and their families were second-class citizens in Oregon.
An advocacy group, Oregon United for Marriage, was collecting signatures to mount a referendum campaign to repeal the 2004 same-sex marriage ban. Group leaders have said they would drop the campaign if the ban was invalidated in the courts.
Supreme Court puts Utah same-sex marriages on hold
The Supreme Court put a stop to same-sex marriages in conservative Utah on Monday while the state appeals a federal district court's ruling that had legalized the unions.
The justices, acting on a petition sent to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, ruled that gay marriages cannot continue during the appeals process. The case is pending before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled Dec. 20 that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates gay and lesbian couples' constitutional rights. Since then, more than 900 same-sex couples in the state have wed.
While blocking new marriages, the court's order should not throw into question those already performed, argued John Mejia, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.
"Though future marriages are on hold for now, the state should recognize as valid those marriages that have already been issued, and those couples should continue to be treated as married by the federal government," Mejia said.
Another unanswered question: what happens to couples who received marriage licenses but had not gotten married yet?
Couples have 30 days to have their weddings before the license expires; the official presiding has another 30 days to submit the license back to the county clerk.
The gay marriage case was one of two emergency petitions pending before Sotomayor. In the other case, she temporarily blocked the new federal health care law from forcing a religious-affiliated group to begin the process of providing free birth control. The Justice Department objected, and a final court order is likely soon.
Despite two landmark Supreme Court decisions in June that vastly expanded same-sex marriage rights in states from Maine to California, gay and lesbian couples in 33 states remain outside the bonds of holy matrimony. Utah is again one of those states.
The court ruled in June that gay marriages could resume in California because opponents challenging lower court rulings lacked standing to appeal. In that case, gays and lesbians had been barred from marrying until the appeals had run out, but those who wed following the original 2008 state Supreme Court decision remained legally married.
The justices also struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that it discriminated against married same-sex couples by denying the same federal benefits received by heterosexual couples. The reasoning in that more sweeping decision was used by Shelby in legalizing Utah gay marriages.
The latest ruling was heralded by opponents of same-sex marriage. "The decision by a single federal judge to redefine marriage in Utah is lawless, and we are pleased that the Supreme Court has put this decision on hold to allow the state to appeal it in an orderly fashion," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.
On the other side, gay and lesbian rights groups criticized the court's order and vowed to press ahead with their battle to win marriage rights in all 50 states.
"The Supreme Court's decision to press the pause button on marriage equality in Utah is a huge disappointment for thousands of loving and committed couples whose marriages are now in legal limbo," said Omar Sharif Jr. of GLAAD, formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
"In the end, justice will be served, and no couple will be excluded from this cherished institution," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization. "As the marriage equality map expands, history is on our side, and we will not rest until where you live is not a barrier to living your dreams."
In Salt Lake City, the county clerk's office got word of the Supreme Court order shortly before 9 a.m., said Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen.
"We did have an appointment for a same-sex couple scheduled for a 10 a.m. wedding this morning, and we had to call them and cancel it," she said. Her office also canceled two other wedding appointments for later in the week.
"I'm not surprised that the U.S. Supreme Court would do this. They're more conservative," retired Utah state representative Jackie Biskupski said. She performed at least a dozen weddings at Salt Lake City's government center in the days following the original ruling, which struck down the state's 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriages.
Across the nation, more than 40 lawsuits seeking marriage rights for gays and lesbians are pending in 20 states. Trials are set for February in Michigan and June in Pennsylvania. A case in Nevada already has been lost and appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In addition to basic marriage rights, some plaintiffs are seeking to adopt children, divorce spouses they married in other states, or avoid inheritance taxes. In Ohio, a federal judge last month said the state must allow gays married in other states to put their names on their partners' death certificates.
Hawaii Governor to Sign State's Gay Marriage Bill
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to sign a bill Wednesday legalizing gay marriage, expanding the state's aloha spirit and positioning the islands for more newlywed tourists.
Abercrombie was expected to sign the bill Wednesday morning at an invitation-only ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center, near the tourist heart of Waikiki.
The measure will allow thousands of gay couples living in Hawaii and even more tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2. Another 14 states and the District of Columbia already allow same-sex marriage, while a bill is awaiting the governor's signature in Illinois.
"I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms," Abercrombie said.
President Barack Obama praised the bill's passage, saying the affirmation of freedom and equality makes the country stronger.
"I've always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today's vote makes me even prouder," Obama said.
Senators passed the bill 19-4 on Tuesday with two lawmakers excused. Cheers erupted inside and outside the gallery when the vote was taken, with a smattering of boos. Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, who voted against the bill, banged her gavel and told members of the public to quiet down.
More than half the chamber's lawmakers spoke in support of the bill, with many urging the public to come together to heal divisions within the community.
"This is nothing more than the expansion of aloha in Hawaii," said Sen. J. Kalani English, a Democrat from Maui.
Sen. Sam Slom, the chamber's only Republican, said the government should stay out of legislating marriage.
"People have differences, and you can't legislate morality. You can try, but you can't do it," Slom said before voting against the bill.
Rep. Bob McDermott, a House lawmaker who filed a lawsuit to try to derail the special session, promised a new challenge once Abercrombie signs the bill. A judge said he would take the case only after the law fully passes.
An estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says gay marriage will boost tourism by $217 million over the next three years, as Hawaii becomes an outlet for couples in other states, bringing ceremonies, receptions and honeymoons to the islands.
The study's author has said Hawaii would benefit from pent-up demand for gay weddings, with couples spending $166 million over those three years on ceremonies and honeymoons.
The Senate had to take up the bill a second time because of changes made in the House, where the bill was amended and eventually passed.
The House amendments delayed the date ceremonies could begin, slightly expanded an exemption for clergy and religious organizations, and removed regulations determining how children of same-sex couples could qualify for Native Hawaiian benefits.
Sen. Clayton Hee, who steered the bill's passage in the chamber, said the measure was good even though he believes the religious protections granted are too broad. He said the final bill was a good compromise.
"It is landmark legislation, the weight of which is on the freedom to marry," Hee said. "The give was broader religious decision-making."
The measure is the culmination of more than two decades of debate in the state, where two women in 1990 famously applied for a marriage license, touching off a court battle and eventual national discussion on gay marriage.
The case led to Congress passing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, part of which was struck down earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision that legally married same-sex couples could qualify for federal benefits led Abercrombie to call the special session in Hawaii.
In Syria, Anger and Mockery as Obama Delays Plan
President Obama’s decision to seek Congressional approval for a military strike in response to reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria drew a range of reactions from Syrians on Sunday, with rebel leaders expressing disappointment and goverment leaders questioning Mr. Obama’s leadership.
President Obama has said that any attack would not involve American troops on the ground in Syria.
Syria’s government on Sunday mocked Mr. Obama’s decision, saying it was a sign of weakness. A state-run newspaper, Al Thawra, called it “the start of the historic American retreat,” and said Mr. Obama had hesitated because of a “sense of implicit defeat and the disappearance of his allies,” along with fears that an intervention could become “an open war.”
Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, told reporters in Damascus that “it is clear there was a sense of hesitation and disappointment in what was said by President Barack Obama yesterday. And it is also clear there was a sense of confusion, as well.”
Many Syrian opposition leaders expressed disappointment about the move, and called on Congress to approve a military strike. The leaders said any intervention should be accompanied by more arms for the rebels.
“Dictatorships like Iran and North Korea are watching closely to see how the free world responds to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people,” the opposition coalition said in a statement issued in Istanbul.
Still, some rebel leaders were angry. A member of Syria’s opposition National Coalition, Samir Nachar, called Mr. Obama a “weak president who cannot make the right decision when it comes to such an urgent crisis.”
“We were expecting things to be quicker,” Mr. Nachar told reporters, “that a strike would be imminent.”
In the wider Arab world, still deeply divided over President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and the uprising against him, the concern over his government’s indiscriminate use of force coincided with antipathy about American intervention.
The Al-Azhar University in Cairo, considered Sunni Islam’s highest authority, said on Sunday that it opposed an American strike on Syria, calling such intervention “an aggression against the Arab and Islamic nation” that would endanger peace and security in the region.
But the institution said it supported “the right of the Syrian people to decide their destiny and their government for themselves in all freedom and transparency,” and condemned “recourse to chemical weapons, whoever it was that used them.”
The Arab League was scheduled to meet and Washington was hoping to win stronger statements against Mr. Assad. The group expelled Syria earlier in the uprising but has stopped short of backing American action or blaming Mr. Assad for any chemical weapons use.
For others, Mr. Obama’s decision raised questions about whether the United States had diminished its leadership role in foreign affairs, with commentators in Israel fearing a weakening of American resolve in confronting hostile powers.
The Israel newspaper Haaretz carried an analysis on Sunday by Amos Harel, a military analyst, saying that Mr. Obama’s postponement of a military strike against Syria suggested that he would be less likely to confront Iran on its nuclear program going forward, and that in the Arab world, he would now be “seen as weak, hesitant and vacillating.”
“The Obama administration’s conduct gives us insight into the strategic challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program,” the analysis said. “From an Israeli point of view, the conclusion is far from encouraging. The theory that the U.S. will come to Israel’s aid at the last minute, and attack Iran to lift the nuclear threat, seems less and less likely.
“It’s no wonder that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is becoming increasingly persuaded that no one will come to his aid if Iran suddenly announces that it is beginning to enrich uranium to 90 percent,” it said.
Supreme Court decision :The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term
WASHINGTON — In significant but incomplete victories for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.
The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits.
The other was a technical legal ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court's declaration that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. That outcome probably will allow state officials to order the resumption of same-sex weddings in the nation's most populous state in about a month.
In neither case did the court make a sweeping statement, either in favor of or against same-sex marriage. And in a sign that neither victory was complete for gay rights, the high court said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states. A separate provision of the federal marriage law that allows a state to not recognize a same-sex union from elsewhere remains in place.
Brendon Ayanbadejo Tackles Equality
On Memorial Day, same-sex marriage advocate and Super Bowl champion, Brendon Ayanbadejo, teamed up with Equality Florida for an event known as “Tackle Equality.” The fundraising event was limited to just 100 people, providing an intimate dinner at Fort Lauderdale’s own kitchenetta. During his announcement that he joined forces with Equality Florida to fight for LGBT equality, the Fort Lauderdale resident spoke of his plans at a rally outside of the Supreme Court: “It is not enough to have to have marriage equality in some parts of the country. We need full equality everywhere.” Kitchenetta owner, Vincent Foti, says that Brendon isn’t exactly a stranger to the restaurant. He says,“Brendon is a good friend and customer.” He went on to say, “Brendon is a friend of mine and this is a subject that is close to his heart. I try not to get involved in political positions based on what I do, but I believe all people should have the same rights. It’s none of our business.”
Multiple Attacks on Gay Men in NYC, Hours After Rally
A nightlife promoter was assaulted in lower Manhattan on Monday night, the same day a rally against anti-LGBT violence was held faurther uptown. The brutal beating, still under investigation, occurred at Avenue D and East Fourth Street in the East Village neighborhood.
According to NightlifeGay.com,the victim was Dan Contarino, a former promoter of a popular Friday night party at Shampoo nightclub in Philadelphia. Witnesses who eventually came to the victim's aid are reporting that the attacker was kicking him while screaming antigay slurs. Contarino posted a photo (pictured) of his injuries on his Facebook timeline along with the following status updates:
"THANKS FOR CALLS.... GAY BASHED LAST NITE.... back from small surgery.... CHEST XRAYS THIS AM.... suspect still at large... police n media waiting to interview me... U JUST WANNA CRY N MOVE ON…."
As well as, "UGH…. THIS IS JUST AS BRUTAL AS the ATTACK…. 3 hours… 8 detective interviews… now waiting for Hate Crimes Unit main interview… THEN BACK TO HOSPITAL…."
The beating is the sixth in a string of seperate local attacks, and comes only days after a gay man, Mark Carson, was murdered in the nearby Greenwich Village neighborhood. Contarino's attack is still under investiation by the NYPD, who have yet to determine it to be a hate crime.
Gay marriage in France: National Assembly says 'I do'
The bill to allow same-sex marriage is passed by the French parliament, although the real debate seems far from over. Next, the French family held hostage in Cameroon return to France and to a something of a normal life. Finally, we head to Marseille, where the trial of the men accused of selling faulty breast implants to hundreds and thousands of women has begun.
Janet Mefferd, Conservative Host, Says Anti-Gay Activists Will Be Treated Like 'Jews in Nazi Germany'
A conservative radio show host with a penchant for making controversial statements predicted that anti-gay activists will one day be treated similar to how the Jews were treated during the Holocaust.
Janet Mefferd, a Christian syndicated radio show host, made the comparison in a Facebook post Wednesday morning. Mefferd posted a link to a Fox News piece referencing Gross Pointe South High School's cancellation of a planned speech by Rick Santorum. It remains unclear why exactly the speech was canceled, though some speculate it was because of the politician's stance against gay marriage. (The appearance has since been rescheduled.)
On Facebook, Mefferd wrote that she could see America moving "toward a day when every Christian who supports real marriage might be made to wear a yellow patch on the sleeve, a "badge of shame" to identify us as 'anti-gay haters.' Kind of like the Jews in Nazi Germany."
North Korean "Supreme Leader" Kim Jong Un announced his support for gay marriage
Saturday Night Live waded into the same-sex marriage debate last night via an angle few could have expected.North Korean "Supreme Leader" Kim Jong Un announced his support for gay marriage, but apparently it hasn't diminished the country's penchant for punishing free thought or condemning the innocent.
Letters: Sen. Portman's gay-marriage turnaround
Thank you, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), for waking up to the fact that there are people in this country different from you. This is the exact reason I believe politicians should be required to take a diversity training course like the one educator and activist Jane Elliott teaches to children and adults as documented in the PBS program "A Class Divided." In fact, go live in the world you are making decisions about before handing down pronouncements about other people's lives.
We of the non-male, non-white, non-heterosexual and non-Christian world thank you, Sen. Portman. Go tell your friends.
Not to disparage the decision by Portman to back gay marriage because his son is gay (it's to be applauded), but it makes me think that if we wait to personally experience a situation calling for compassion, then we will not have the time to heed most of the pain for which we could make a difference.
Vicki K. Hoffner
Police say George Mason Jr. took offense at the couple’s pink-dyed dog and started hurling homophobic insults at them before attacking one with a wrench.
An Oregon man attacked a gay couple with a wrench because they had dyed their pet poodle's fur bright pink, police said.
George Mason Jr, 22, allegedly screamed homophobic slurs from his SUV at partners David Beltier and Jeremy Mark as they were walking their dog in Hillsboro.
After getting out of his vehicle, Mason is accused of hitting Beltier with his hand - before grabbing a wrench and striking him in the back of the head with the tool.
Same-sex marriage group removes former first lady Laura Bush from pro-gay video
A group advocating same-sex marriage has agreed to former first lady Laura Bush’s request and removed her from a video campaign pushing gay rights.
The Respect for Marriage Coalition expressed regret on Thursday, saying, “[we] are sorry she didn’t want to be included in an ad,” according to an Associated Press report. Earlier this week, the group had announced a $1 million campaign using print and video to push legislative changes to legalize same-sex marriage.
The video, released Wednesday, used previous statements from Mrs. Bush — along with statements from former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Vice President Dick Cheney — that suggested favor for same-sex marriage laws.
Mrs. Bush said, in a previous interview on CNN: “When couples are committed to each other and love each other then they ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has,” according to a report by AP.
Mrs. Bush’s spokeswoman, Anne MacDonald, said the first lady “did not approve of her inclusion in this advertisement nor is she associated in any way with the group that made the ad,” the AP reports.
"My sexuality was nobody's business."
Former New York City mayor Ed Koch died of congestive heart failure this morning, Feb. 1, according to his spokesman George Arzt. Koch’s 12-year mayoralty spanned from 1978-1989, which meant he was the leader of the city during the beginnings of the AIDS crisis.
As the New York Times writes in its obituary:
"Mr. Koch was New York’s most colorful mayor since Fiorello H. La Guardia. Tall, squinty-eyed, baldish, with a nimbus of gray and a U-shape smile more satanic than cherubic, Mr. Koch told a story like a raconteur in a deli, kvetching and ah-hahing with the timing of a Catskill comic. He loved to clown for photographers on the streets of New York, on a camel in Egypt or on a mechanized sweeper in China.
His image on television, his high-pitched voice on the radio, his round shoulders and gangly arms and baggy pants, and especially his streetwise gusts of candor — saying what people said over the dinner table in Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn — gave New Yorkers the illusion that he was a rumpled, familiar acquaintance. But for all his self-promoting stream of consciousness, Mr. Koch was an intensely private man who revealed little about himself and had no patience for introspection."
A bachelor until the end, Koch always deflected questions about his sexuality. As he wrote in Citizen Koch, his 1992 autobiography: “Whether I am straight or gay or bisexual is nobody’s business but mine.”
Koch wrote a column for me, from 2006-2007, while I was an editor at New York Press that ranged over topics such as his respect for George W. Bush as a "hero" to the loss of Brooke Astor. It was something he agreed to do (for free) although he had been named the 18th Most Loathsome New Yorker in the same publication just a few months prior. As the editors wrote of Koch at the time: "Koch’s rep as Mr. New York has managed to survive and even thrive in the 17 years since the publication of Wayne Barrett and Jack Newfield’s devastating City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York. It’s as if the names Meade Esposito, Stanley Friedman, and Donald Manes have been scrubbed from history, allowing Koch to pose against an airbrushed legacy and somehow remain an active player even as he publicly descends into the middle stages of senility."
I had lunch with him at the Four Seasons in 2007 and when our conversation drifted in the direction of his sexuality, he gave me a similar rebuff, essentially quoting himself back to me, and saying he didn't want to dignify that sort of question with a response because it would mean that other politicians would have to submit to the same question. That didn't mean he wasn't a flirt throughout.
In a 2009 story in the Times, Koch told Sam Roberts: “I do not want to add to the acceptability of asking every candidate, ‘Are you straight or gay or lesbian?’ and make it a legitimate question, so I don’t submit to that question. I don’t care if people think I’m gay because I don’t answer it. I’m flattered that at 84 people are interested in my sex life — and, it’s quite limited.”
The documentary, Koch, opens in theaters in New York City today. Koch was "a brilliant, larger than life, complicated gay man...[and] like all world-class narcissists, Koch’s hubris seems to be his lack of empathy (not as bad as Rudolph Giuliani’s, but close), be it with the black community on the closing of a hospital in Harlem, or his unsympathetic response to the murder of a black man at the hands of white youths in Brooklyn; or his lack of compassion, whether real or perceived, at the time of the AIDS crisis in the '80s."
The Roberts story in the Times also pointed out that he had already installed his tombstone and planned his funeral. The funeral service will be at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, and he will be buried in the nondenominational Trinity Church Cemetery in Washington Heights under a tombstone that quotes the last words of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded in 2002 by Islamic terrorists—“My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish”—and includes the most familiar Jewish prayer, in English and Hebrew: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." The epitaph, which the former mayor wrote after a stroke, reads:
“He was fiercely proud of his Jewish faith. He fiercely defended the City of New York, and he fiercely loved its people. Above all, he loved his country, the United States of America, in whose armed forces he served in World War II.”
Reversal: Boeing Agrees to Add Benefit for Gay Spouses
The aircraft giant, with extensive operations in Washington State, had resisted granting the benefits despite the state's new marriage equality law.
President of National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association dies, aged 48
The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) has said its president, Michael Triplett, has died.
Mr Triplett, who was an assistant managing editor at Bloomberg BNA, was 48 years old, reports ABC.
The association released an email saying that Mr Triplett had cancer, and that he died on Thursday. Through a spokesperson, Bloomberg said he died in Alabama, where he was visiting family. He lived in Washington.
The NLGJA said in a statment on its website: ”Michael was truly a joy for all of us to work with, and his loss will be felt among our organisation for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner, Jack and his family in Alabama.”
Mr Triplett was a board member at the Washington chapter of the NLGJA, before becoming president of that chapter. He became president of the national association in 2012.
He worked on the daily tax report at Bloomberg BNA, and had worked with there since 2000.
Mr Triplett was a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and the American University Washington College of Law.
CLEARWATER --Pinellas County commissioners voted this morning to create a countywide domestic partnership registry, giving unmarried couples including same-sex partners some of the rights legal rights enjoyed by married couples.
Couples who pay the $50 registration fee will be able to make health-care and funeral decisions for each other, visit each other in the hospital and take part in the education of each other's children through parent-teacher conferences and in other ways.
The move drew support from gay couples who thanked the commission for taking what they described as a "small step" toward equality.
"I'm happy our county is progressing, but this is a beginning not an end," said Jan Lowe, who went to Connecticut to marry her partner, Denise Wimmer Lowe.
Residents who spoke against creating a registry said there were already legal solutions for unmarried couples to take care of one another, including power of attorney agreements and medical surrogacy. Some accused the county of advancing a gay-marriage agenda.
"This is one reason among many why our culture is crumbling," said Joe Page.
Commissioner Norm Roche, the lone dissenting vote, said the registry was too exclusive and did nothing to help other residents such as siblings who want to take care of one another.
Judge orders Utah to recognize thousands of same-sex marriages
A federal judge ordered the state of Utah Monday to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in the brief window between the moment the state’s ban was struck down and a stay was issued barring any more same-sex marriages from being performed in the state.
“Our clients, like over 1,000 other same-sex couples, were legally married and those marriages cannot now be taken away from them,” John Mejia of the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement. “While we await a permanent decision, we are relieved that our clients will receive the full recognition they deserve as lawfully married couples.”
Shortly after Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was struck down last December, the state appealed the decision and requested that same-sex marriages in the state be halted. Around a thousand couples were married in between December 20 and January 6, when the stay was issued. The federal government announced they would be recognizing Utah’s marriages, but state officials in Utah said they would not.
Four couples represented by the Utah chapter of the ACLU and the law firm Strindberg & Scholnicksued to have their unions recognized. Federal Judge Dale Kimball, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, wrote that the harm to the same-sex couples in not having their marriages recognized was far greater than the harm done to the state in recognizing them.
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated existing clear and irreparable harms if an injunction is not in place,”Kimball wrote. “The irreparable nature of Plaintiffs harms involve fundamental rights such as the ability to adopt, the ability to inherit, child care and custody issues, and other basic rights that would otherwise remain in legal limbo. For these reasons, the court cannot conclude that the harm to the State outweighs the harm to Plaintiffs during pendency of the appeal.”
The ruling is a victory for Utah’s same-sex couples, but the battle isn’t over. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is still considering Utah’s appeal of the ruling striking down its ban on same-sex marriage, which means the ultimate fate of Utah’s same-sex couples is still in question. With federal judges striking down same-sex marriage bans all over the country, most legal observers expect the U.S. Supreme Court to have the final say.
Dick Cheney's Daughters In Rift Over Gay Marriage
The family of former vice-president, Dick Cheney, are realising politics and family are not always compatible as they battle over gay marriage.
First some history...
Cheney's daughter, Liz, is running for Republican Senate primary in Wyoming, a typically conservative state requiring a senator with suitably conservative views.
The other Cheney daughter, Mary, is a married lesbian with two children.
So Mary's partner, Heather Poe was understandably upset over the weekend when Liz set out her opposition the gay marriage in an interview with Fox News.
Liz said: "I love Mary very much, I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree"
Heather took to Facebook to note her dismay.
I was watching my sister-in-law on Fox News Sunday (yes Liz, in fifteen states and the District of Columbia you are my sister-in-law) and was very disappointed to hear her say "I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage."Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 - she didn't hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us.
To have her now say she doesn't support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.
I can't help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other.
I always thought freedom meant freedom for EVERYONE.
Mary then also stepped in and said: "Liz - this isn't just an issue on which we disagree - you're just wrong - and on the wrong side of history."
Adding to the family tension is Dick's stance on the issue.
He endorsed state-sanctioned gay marriage in 2009 but is backing Liz's campaign - and therefore her views.
Pope Francis is shaking things up again.
The pontiff with a penchant for surprises is making new waves by launching a survey of his flock on issues facing modern families — from gay marriage to divorce.
Very specific questions are being sent to parishes around the globe in preparation for next year's synod of bishops, a grassroots effort that experts say is unprecedented.
"It's fascinating," said Thomas Groome, a professor of theology at Boston College.
"It's pretty astonishing," agreed Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of the gay Catholic organization DignityUSA.
Vatican watchers say Francis' polling attempt is extraordinary on two levels: first, because it seeks input from rank-and-file Roman Catholics and second, because it touches on issues that might have been considered off-limits in past papacies.
The document sent to every nation's conference of bishops notes that the ancient church and its members are grappling with "concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago."
Same-sex unions, mixed marriages, single-parent families and surrogate mothers are all mentioned in the prelude to a list of questions that get into the nitty-gritty of 21st century life:
The Argentine Jesuit elected to the throne of St. Peter in March has drawn widespread praise — and some scattered criticism from conservatives — for his comments about gays, women, atheists and priestly celibacy.
There is nothing in the questionnaire that says he is planning any big changes, and a senior Vatican official said Tuesday that the church remains "loyal to the vision of the family where a man and a woman join together and procreate children."
But Fordham University theology chair Terrence Tilley said the questionnaire does suggest the church might tweak some policies that don't involve doctrine — such as denying the sacraments to Catholics who have divorced and remarried or opening the church to gay couples that want to raise adopted children Catholic.
"I think it demonstrates a grounding in the practical realities of the world," Duddy-Burke said, though she cautioned that the real test is if the Vatican agrees to hear from a diverse range of families at the actual synod.
Groome said it "remains to be seen" if the polling will translate into any action, but he's impressed nonetheless.
"To my knowledge, it's the first time in the history of the magisterium have genuinely attempted to consult the laity," he said.
"At least he's started the conversation," Groome said.
"All of these things have been closed issues and you could be fired for even talking about them. Raising these questions and polling people — it at least signals something other than a closed mind. You have to thank God for small mercies."
Married same-sex couples can't file individual tax returns after Sept. 16
Starting Sept. 16, same-sex married couples must file federal income tax returns as married, regardless of whether the state where they live recognizes their marriage. That gives couples who haven’t yet filed their 2012 tax returns just a few more days to file as individuals if they choose, which could mean a much smaller tax bill for some.
At least two major high-tech companies have issued statements supporting today's US Supreme Court decisions related to gay marriage, according to AllThingsD. "Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we consider it a civil rights issue. We applaud the Supreme Court for its decisions today," a message from an Apple spokesman reads. HP, meanwhile, is pointing to its history of supporting gay causes. "HP has more than 30 years of partnership with and participation in pride events, and works throughout the year to build and strengthen HP as an organization that values all employees, customers and communities," says Michael Thacker, the global communications chair for HP's Pride Employee Resource Group. "Our sponsorship at San Francisco Pride this year is a great example of how HP is committed to diversity and to creating a flexible, inclusive environment for everyone inside and outside of the company," Thacker's PR concludes.
Apple also has a reputation for supporting gay rights, having long given the same benefits to same-sex couples that it gives to heterosexual ones. And despite normally avoiding political statements, it publicly donated money to the "No on Prop 8" campaign in 2008. One of today's Supreme Court rulings maintains a lower court's rejection of Prop 8, which temporarily banned gay marriage in California.
Other companies are expressing more subdued support for the new developments. Facebook-owned Instagram, for instance, is hosting a collection of celebratory photos on its official blog. Google meanwhile is surrounding its web search box with a rainbow whenever someone searches for "gay," "lesbian," "transgender," or "bisexual."
Earlier in the year a number of Silicon Valley companies filed an amicus brief against the Defense of Marriage Act, which today was ruled unconstitutional. Some of the parties in the brief included Cisco, Facebook, Intel, Qualcomm, and Twitter.
Rhode Island could become 10th state to allow same-sex marriage
New England's gay marriage holdout may soon join the rest of the region in allowing same-sex unions.
Rhode Island senators are expected to vote on a measure as early as Wednesday, making the state the 10th in the nation to allow same-sex marriage. A similar bill has already passed the House.
Interestingly, every single Republican senator in the state has pledged his or her support for gay marriage, making the five members the first legislative caucus of either party to unanimously sign on to same-sex marriage in any state. Democrats have traditionally led the charge for legalizing gay marriage in other states.
The state is the last in New England to bar same-sex marriage.
The New York Times notes that same-sex marriage could also pass this year in Delaware, Illinois and Minnesota, where lawmakers are actively considering bills.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June whether the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages for tax and other legal purposes, or whether it can continue to ignore them under the Defense of Marriage Act.
Gay Man Arrested in Missouri After Refusing to Leave Bedside of Sick Partner
After Gorley arrived at Research Medical Center, a member of Allen Mansell's family asked him to leave, according to Kansas City Fox station WDAF.
When Gorley became upset and refused to exit the building, hospital security allegedly handcuffed him and forcefully removed him from the premises.
Now he cannot visit Mansell at all because of a restraining order.
“I was not recognized as the husband, as the partner,” Gorley told WDAF, adding that the nurse on duty refused to verify their joint Power of Attorney status.
“She didn’t even bother to go look it up to check into it."
"He’s been at the psychiatric unit part several times.”
In 2010, President Obama ordered all hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments to allow patients to determine visitation rights and medical decisions.
This right, having been extended to gay and lesbian partners, is supposed to give designated persons the same rights as immediate family members.
Obama said the new memorandum should "guarantee that all patients' advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected."
Despite this, some say discrimination continues.
In this particular cae, however, Research Medical Center responded to the allegations made by Gorley in a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon:
"This was an issue of disruptive, belligerent behavior by the visitor that affected patient care."
"Our response followed the same policies that would apply to any individual engaged in this behavior and was not in any way related to the patient’s or the visitor’s sexual orientation or marital status."
"This visitor created a barrier for us to care for the patient. Attempts were made to deescalate the situation. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to involve security and the Kansas City MO Police Department."
The hospital also denies it ever filed a restraining order.
Supreme Court focuses on federal law defining marriage
WASHINGTON - Concluding two days of intense debate, the Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it could give a boost to same-sex marriage by striking down the federal law that denies legally married gay spouses a wide range of benefits offered to other couples.
As the court wrapped up its remarkable arguments over gay marriage in America, a majority of the justices indicated they will invalidate part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act - if they can get past procedural problems similar to those that appeared to mark Tuesday's case over California's ban on same-sex marriage.
Since the federal law was enacted in 1996, nine states and the District of Columbia have made it legal for gays and lesbians to marry. Same-sex unions also were legal in California for nearly five months in 2008 before the Proposition 8 ban.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the decisive vote in close cases, joined the four more-liberal justices in raising questions Wednesday about a provision that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal law.
It affects more than 1,100 statutes in which marital status is relevant, dealing with tax breaks for married couples, Social Security survivor benefits and, for federal employees, health insurance and leave to care for spouses.
Kennedy said the Defense of Marriage Act appears to intrude on the power of states that have chosen to recognize same-sex marriages. When so many federal statutes are affected, "which in our society means that the federal government is intertwined with the citizens' day-to-day life, you are at real risk of running in conflict with what has always been thought to be the essence of the state police power, which is to regulate marriage, divorce, custody," Kennedy said.
Other justices said the law creates what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called two classes of marriage, full and "skim-milk marriage."
If the court does strike down part of DOMA, it would represent a victory for gay rights advocates. But it would be something short of the endorsement of gay marriage nationwide that some envisioned when the justices agreed in December to hear the federal case and the challenge to California's ban on same-sex marriage.
Still, the tenor of the arguments over two days reflected how attitudes have changed since large majorities in Congress passed the federal DOMA in 1996 and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. In 2011, President Barack Obama abandoned the legal defense of the law in the face of several lawsuits, and last year Obama endorsed gay marriage. Clinton, too, has voiced regret for signing the law and now supports allowing gays and lesbians to marry.
In 1996, the House of Representatives' report on the legislation explained that one of its purposes was "to express moral disapproval of homosexuality." Justice Elena Kagan read those words in the courtroom Wednesday.
Kagan's quotation gave lawyer Paul Clement, representing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that has taken up defense of the law in place of the administration, some uncomfortable moments at the lectern.
"Does the House report say that? Of course, the House report says that. And if that's enough to invalidate the statute, then you should invalidate the statute," Clement said. But he said the more relevant question is whether Congress had "any rational basis for the statute." He supplied one: the federal government's interest in treating same-sex couples the same no matter where they live.
Clement said the government does not want military families "to resist transfer from West Point to Fort Sill because they're going to lose their benefits." The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is in New York, where same-sex marriage is legal, and Fort Sill is in Oklahoma, where gay marriages are not legal.
Opposing Clement was Obama administration Supreme Court lawyer, Donald Verrilli, who said the provision of DOMA at issue, Section 3, impermissibly discriminates against gays.
"I think it's time for the court to recognize that this discrimination, excluding lawfully married gay and lesbian couples from federal benefits, cannot be reconciled with our fundamental commitment to equal treatment under law," Verrilli said.
Both Verrilli and Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer for Edith Windsor, the 83-year-old New York woman who sued over DOMA, told the court that views about gay people and marriage have shifted dramatically since 1996 when the law was approved.
Windsor married Thea Spyer in 2007 in Canada after doctors told them that Spyer would not live much longer. Spyer, who suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years, died in 2009 and left everything she had to Windsor, who has sued to get a $363,000 estate tax refund. There is no dispute that if Windsor had been married to a man, her estate tax bill would have been zero.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed with a district judge that the provision of DOMA deprived Windsor of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law.
"Why are you so confident in that judgment? How many states permit gay couples to marry?" Justice Antonin Scalia asked Kaplan.
Nine, she said.
"So there's been a sea change between now and 1996," Scalia said, doubtfully.
But Chief Justice John Roberts jumped on the idea of a rapid shift in opinion to suggest that perhaps gays and lesbians do not need special protection from the court.
"As far as I can tell, political leaders are falling all over themselves to endorse your side of the case," Roberts said.
The justices stepped into the dispute after lower federal courts ruled against the measure.
The DOMA argument followed Tuesday's case over California's ban on same-sex marriage, a case in which the justices indicated they might avoid a major national ruling on whether America's gays and lesbians have a right to marry. Even without a significant ruling, the court appeared headed for a resolution that would mean the resumption of gay and lesbian weddings in California.
President Honors Late PFLAG Founder With Citizens Medal
President Obama awarded the Presidential Citizens Medals to several recipients, among whom was the late Jeanne Manford, who publicly defended her gay son and founded Parents, Friends, & Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to advocate for other gay sons. Here is what Obama said about her in his remarks:
When Jeanne Manford learned that her son Morty had been badly beaten up at a gay rights demonstration, nobody would have faulted her for bringing him home, holding him close, just focusing on her child. This was back in 1972. There was a lot of hate, a lot of vitriol towards gays and lesbians and anyone who supported them. But instead, she wrote to the local newspaper and took to the streets with a simple message: No matter who her son was — no matter who he loved –- she loved him, and wouldn’t put up with this kind of nonsense. And in that simple act, she inspired a movement and gave rise to a national organization that has given so much support to parents and families and friends, and helped to change this country. We lost Jeanne last month, but her legacy carries on, every day, in the countless lives that she touched. [...]
Accepting on behalf of Jeanne Manford, her daughter Suzanne Swan. (Applause.) In an era when peaceful protests were met with violence and coming out was a radical act, Jeanne Manford knew she had to stand by her son, Morty. Side-by-side, they marched proudly down the streets of New York on Stonewall’s anniversary, calling upon other parents of gay and lesbian Americans to show their children the same love and acceptance. Jeanne’s courage lives on in progress she fought for and in PFLAG, the organization she founded, which today claims more than 200,000 members and supporters in over 350 chapters. For insisting that equality knows no bounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, the United States honors Jeanne Manford. (Applause.)
The Presidential Citizens Medal is the second highest civilian award, second only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Obama signs 23 Executive orders for new gun control even as Congress vows to deny all of the orders and fight for gun rights.
Orders include: 10 bullet limit in magazines, reinstate assault weapons ban, stronger laws for gun sellers, universal Federal background checks,new ATF Chief. With four children behind him on stage ,the President says "it's our responsibility" ,"we must act now" ,"this all depends on Congress".
Republicans vow to "fight all orders" on new gun control laws. Steve Toth US House Representative (Texas) "we will pass law in Texas making it illegal for anyone to enforce the new gun control laws". "We will do everything we can to insure that this government will not infringe on our Constitutional rights"
US: Pentagon bans access to gay news websites
The United States Department of Defence has reportedly banned access to several gay media websites on its network of computers.
According to AMERICAblog; one of several US LGBT media outlets to be included on a banned list along with Towleroad, access remains off-limits for US defence staff because the websites are categorised as being “LGBT”.
The LGBT filter existed before the repeal ofDon’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a federal law which banned gay men and lesbians from being open about their sexuality in the US military.
AMERICAblog said its site was previously banned for being “LGBT,” but now claims “we’re only banned at least by the air force, for being political” and as an “activist.”
The blog also points out that access to conservative ‘political’ sites such as those by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter – who both at times have been accused by gay rights campaigners of inciting homophobic hatred with some of their rhetoric – remains acceptable under the Pentagon’s rules.
Federal Judge Allows California Ex-Gay ‘Therapists’ To Continue Serving Minors
U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb, a George H. W. Bush appointee, ruled Monday that three California therapists can continue to provide harmful ex-gay therapy to minors while their suit challenging the state’s new ban on the treatment proceeds. Shubb argued that claims that ex-gay ministries can increase young people’s risk for depression or suicide are based on “questionable and scientifically incomplete studies” and that the law, “at minimum, regulates conduct that has an incidental effect on speech.”
Lawyers for the state argued that there are no studies whatsoever that validate ex-gay therapy and that without the law, minors have no protection from the possible harm of the shame-based treatment. The National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Shannon Minterexpressed concern about the judge’s exception:
MINTER: We are disappointed by the ruling but very pleased that the temporary delay in implementing this important law applies only to the three plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit. The judge stressed that he was willing to issue the ruling in part because it is temporary and applies only to three individuals. We are confident that as the case progresses, it will be clear to the court that this law is fundamentally no different than many other laws that regulate health care professionals to protect patients. That is especially important in this case because the harms to minors are so serious, including suicide and severe depression. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has rejected these practices and warned that they are not only completely ineffective, but dangerous. California did the right thing by enacting this law, and we are confident the courts will find that it is not only constitutional, but vitally necessary.
Though the ruling only applies to the three plaintiffs in the Pacific Justice Institute’s (PJI) suit, the judge did invite other therapists to petition for similar relief. PJI President Brad Dacus also invited others to join the complaint as co-plaintiffs. In the suit, the plaintiffs make many dubious claims, including that they’d be “required to discriminate” based on sexual orientation, violate their professional ethics, violate their religious freedom, and violate parents’ rights.
Maryland speaker would like to see same-sex weddings commence Jan. 1
Ultimately, it will be up to clerks of county courts to decide whether to issue marriage licenses early enough to accommodate gay couples who want to wed on New Year’s Day.
But one powerful Annapolis politician who supports same-sex marriage left little doubt Friday as to what he would like to see the clerks do.
Busch said, “You would think that the vast majority of the clerks would comply with letting people apply for the licenses before January 1.”
If reinstated by a court as a member of the House of Delegates, Alston would still face an uncertain future.
Tanger Outlets comes to National Harbor after years of complaints from residents about lack of retail options.
“I think everybody understood that ... January 1 would be the date that couples could marry,” House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said in an interview. “You would think that the vast majority of the clerks would comply with letting people apply for the licenses before January 1.”
The new law takes effect Jan. 1.
Busch’s comments came a day after an opinion was issued by the Attorney General’s Office that said it is permissible for clerks to start processing marriage licenses a few days ahead of time to facilitate Jan. 1 marriages and comply with a waiting period in Maryland law.
The formal advice was issued in an attempt to clear up confusion in the wake of this month’s passage of Question 6, the ballot measure upholding Maryland’s gay nuptials law. Early word out of the attorney general’s office was that same-sex marriages in Maryland would likely not take effect until Jan. 4.
That’s because Maryland has a two-day waiting period once clerks issue licenses. With Jan. 1 being a holiday, that would mean licenses could not be issued until the following day.
Cameron warns child abuse scandal could become a "witch-hunt" against gay people
David Cameron was visibly unsettled when Phillip Schofield handed him a list of three Conservatives accused of involvement in the child abuse scandal during his appearance on This Morning, and he may come to regret his response. "There is a danger that this could turn into a sort of witch-hunt, particularly against people who are gay," Cameron said.
By suggesting that some on the list "are gay", the Prime Minister has inadvertently encouraged further speculation over their identity. But it is with Schofield, who showed gross irresponsibility by asking Cameron to comment on a list based on internet rumour, that the blame must rest. After warning against a "witch-hunt", Cameron added: "I'm worried about the sort of thing you're doing right now, giving me a list of names that you've taken off the internet".
Earlier this week, Labour MP Susan Elan Jones asked the government to assure her that any member of the House of Lords found guilty of child abuse would be "stripped of their peerage" in what many saw as a deliberate attempt to hint at the identity of one of the alleged abusers. Theresa May has warned MPs that using parliamentary privilege to name those accused of involvement could jeopardise any future trial.
N.J. gay rights advocates aren't looking to put marriage up to vote
Even after historic Election Day victories for same-sex marriage in several states, New Jersey gay rights advocates Wednesday said they still don’t want to put the issue on the ballot here.READ MORE
Homeland Security Secretary: Gay Relationships are “Family Relationships”
Last week, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a major administrative shift in the way same-sex couples are to be considered during immigration proceedings, saying that the term “family relationships” will now include same-sex units.
The action may dramatically reduce the deportation of gays and lesbians who are in bi-national relationships.
The Department of Homeland Security includes the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which conducts proceedings in deportation cases, and family relationships are among the factors considered in such cases.
ICE Director John Morton issued a memo last year in which he ordered officials to consider the circumstances in individual cases, including whether the person has close family ties to the U.S. “In an effort to make clear the definition of the phrase ‘family relationships,’ I have directed ICE to disseminate written guidance to the field that the interpretation of the phrase ‘family relationships’ includes long-term, same-sex partners,” said Napolitano.
For years, LGBT rights activists have called for the same immigration rights to be granted to bi-national same-sex couples as those enjoyed by heterosexual couples. In July, 84 Members of Congress signed a joint letter to Napolitano requesting her to prevent the deportation of same-sex immigrants from their American citizen partners.
There are an estimated 36,000 bi-national gay couples in the U.S. Two same-sex couples have brought suit challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and denies benefits granted to straight couples, including the right to immigrate.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: 'I Was Beaten For Being Gay'
The 65-year-old, who fathered a child with an employee behind the back of his wife Maria Shriver, admitted during an interview on 60 Minutes in the US that his father feared his son was homosexual because he had posters of men in his room.
“He ran after me with a belt and beat me,” Arnie confessed in the tell all interview.
“I don’t know if mum thought I was gay, or if she just thought there was something off. And ‘let’s catch it early’," he explained.
“She asked the doctor, ‘Can you help me? I don’t know if there’s something wrong with my son because his wall is full of naked men.
“‘All of Arnold’s friends have pictures of girls above their bed. And Arnold has no girls’.”
The 'Terminator' star went on to claim he had "apologised many times" to his now ex-wife following the revelations of his infidelity but maintains the marriage was not over even before they were made public.
He said: "I've always loved her from the first moment that I met her, she has been an extraordinary woman, extraordinary wife, friend, lover, everything.
“She did not deserve that. That's why I felt always terrible about the whole thing."
The US Army Promotes Its First Openly Gay General
In September of 2011, the US military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t TellPolicy banning gays from openly serving in the armed forces was officially repealed. Today we learn that the US Army has just promoted its first ever openly gay general. Brigadier GeneralTammy Smith was presented with her general’s star at her promotion ceremony a few days ago and in one fell swoop made US history. An event like this would’ve been unheard of just a couple of years ago but as our country moves forward — slowly but surely — toward equal rights for all citizens, events like this will become more commonplace … to the point of mundaneness.
The female face of HIV: 'Everyone's at risk'
Del’Rosa Winston thought she’d done everything right. She kept herself in steady employment, and waited until she was married to start having children. When her marriage ended, she started having regular HIV tests, just in case. So when she settled into a new, steady relationship, she never dreamed she’d end up infected with the AIDS virus. READ MORE
10 Members of Congress Pose for NOH8 Campaign
Rep. Dennis Kucinich
The NOH8 Campaign focused its camera on the nation’s capitol earlier this month, with 10 members of Congress donning white to pose for “NOH8 on the Hill."