Monday, March 31, 2008
The Dem. candidates’ fight for LGBT votes heats up in Pennsylvania, including Chelsea Clinton stumping for mom at a Philly gay bar last week.
Was NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn excluded from an event sponsored by orthodox Jewish groups featuring 2009 NYC mayoral candidates because she’s a lesbian?
A gay New Jersey couple that recently moved to Idaho didn’t anticipate the big cost of relocating to a state that doesn’t recognize their civil union – they lost all of their partner benefits.
Hateful anti-gay Oklahoma state rep. Sally Kern is at it again: this time with an op-ed that specifically calls out (and slams) New York.
A human rights group urges Iran to release more than 30 men being held on accusations of gay sexual conduct, which is a violation of the country’s strict moral codes.
The Illinois legislature is stalling on dual civil unions bills.
The NYU student newspaper examines sexual-orientation discrimination in the Jewish community.
In case you were looking for a reason to justify getting those fries the Golden Arches, a McDonald’s executive recently joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Presidential hopeful Mike Gravel, now making a bid for the Libertarian nomination, reaffirms his pledge to fight for gay marriage.
Kentucky lawmakers stop a bill that would have barred state agencies and schools from providing health insurance for domestic partners of employees.
Maryland lawmakers will likely pass bills providing tax benefits and hospitalization rights to LGBT partners, but won’t act on bills to create civil unions or a transgender nondiscrimination law.
A gay rights organization plans to challenge Iowa’s same-sex marriage ban.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Former President Bill Clinton was asked earlier this week by an MTVU editorial board member about his involvement in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996. The question was prompted by a comment Melissa Etheridge made during last year’s HRC/Logo Presidential forum where she said President Clinton “threw gays and lesbians under the bus” when he signed DOMA into law.
As you can see from his body language and aggressive cross-examining in the video above, the issue of DOMA is not a comfortable one for the former POTUS. He also got some very important facts wrong in his response to the question.
First, his chronology is incorrect. The question asks about the President’s actions in 1996, but Clinton starts talking about the divisiveness of the issue of gay marriage during the 2004 Presidential campaign. He doesn’t talk about the circumstances under which he signed DOMA, which—even though it does little to remedy the injustice the law brought upon same-sex couples—would at least be an honest response to Melissa Etheridge’s “throwing under the bus” assertion.
To recap 1996, President Clinton was facing a hostile Republican Congress and a re-election challenge by the well-respected but way behind-in-the-polls Senator Bob Dole. Trying to find some issue that would give Dole traction with the electorate, the Republican Congress passed DOMA and sent it to Clinton, essentially daring him not to sign it so that it could be turned into a campaign issue. But he did sign it in what was widely viewed at the time as a cold calculated political decision to make the issue go away in the ’96 campaign. And indeed it did. . .for him. . .in his election.
President Clinton also got it wrong in the interview when he explained what DOMA does. He said DOMA makes it clear that a marriage that is performed in one state (Massachusetts) does not have to be recognized in another (Idaho for example). In other words, what happens in Massachusetts stays in Massachusetts.
This is true, but he neglected to tell the other half of the story and that is that DOMA also says that the federal government won’t recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex or provide that couple with any of the federal rights and obligations it provides to married couples, which according the Government Accounting Office numbers around 1138 rights and obligations. These include filing taxes jointly, Social Security survivor benefits, inheriting a deceased spouse’s property and not have to pay taxes and many other protections and rights the federal government provides married couples so they can take care of each other.
I’m still not completely clear as to why President Clinton jumped ahead eight years to the 2004 elections when answering this question from MTVU about something that took place in 1996. He couldn’t have possibly known in 1996 what was going to happen years later, but that does seem to be frame he’s using to justifying his signing DOMA. It would be refreshing to hear him talk about his thinking on DOMA at the time the bill was presented to him, but he didn’t go there.
Even though Clinton did do more for LGBT people than any previous President in history, it’s obvious he still wrestles with talking about the other things he did that set us back, like DOMA.
But, on the downside, homophobia, discrimination and victimization cause LGB teens to be 190% more likely to abuse alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, a new study shows.
Fidel Castro’s niece (daughter of new president Raul) proposes pro-LGBT legislation in Cuba.
Florida enters the ring as the latest state to introduce legislation prohibiting discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
San Francisco makes a move to accommodate the LGBT homeless by adopting new shelter guidelines.
The first ever black transgender woman delegate is headed to the Democratic National Convention.
British singer Joss Stone will play a lesbian character in her second movie roll.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
A new poll in Vermont shows that a majority (54 percent) of its citizens support same-sex marriage.
The Board of Directors for Wells Fargo bank is urging shareholders to vote against a proposal that would essentially get rid of sexual orientation in the corporation's equal employment policies.
COLAGE is offering scholarships to children of LGBT parents.
Despite the best efforts of their bigoted political leaders, Poles overwhelmingly favor an EU treaty that contains provisions calling for mandatory LGBT non-discrimination policies for all member states.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
It's now official: Idaho Senator (and infamous toe-tapper) Larry Craig will not run for reelection to the U.S. Senate.
A columnist for the Statesman Journal presents a great argument to readers on why it would be very bad for Oregon voters to repeal in November already-enacted LGBT anti-discrimination laws.
On Easter Sunday, (now famously) anti-gay Oklahoma state rep. Sally Kern faced off with openly gay pastor Scott Jones on a local chat show.
Being gay AND in love with an Israeli Jew is one way to guarantee continuous death threats if you're Palestinian, which is why the Israeli army has taken the unprecedented step of granting one such man asylum by issuing him an Israeli visa.
A very popular television show is about to get a gay character.
Monday, March 24, 2008
A New York Times column features the heartbreaking story of a student in Arkansas who is beat up at school regularly--with little reprieve from school officials--because of his perceived sexual orientation (even though he's straight).
Deb Price calls on the U.S. Government to do more to advance basic human rights for LGBT people internationally.
Hartford Business writes about the same-sex marriage debate going on in Connecticut, where the state's Legislature and Supreme Court have taken up the issue.
Planning your summer vacations? You might want to avoid Tallinn, Estonia and Riga, Latvia--the two Baltic capitals are choosing not to participate in a pan-European campaign to celebrate LGBT inclusion and anti-discrimination.
Friday, March 21, 2008
A number of openly LGBT candidates are making plans to run for various New York City Council seats representing Queens.
Madison Square Garden evidently has a reputation for being an anti-gay zone when the Rangers are in town.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has launched “Newsroom ’08,” a website which will look at how media talks about issues affecting the LGBT community as they pertain to the upcoming local, state and national elections in November.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Liz Benjamin tells us about a Quinnipiac poll just out showing that New Yorkers are optimistic about Gov. David Paterson, with 75 percent saying he'll govern effectively and 67 percent saying he'll restore trust in state government.
The New York Times profiles Governor Paterson’s top advisor Charles J. O’Bryne, who is openly-gay and a former Jesuit priest.
Gay Men’s Health Crisis has launched two billboard campaigns targeting black woman and young men of color with messages aimed at preventing HIV/AIDS.
Senator Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), has made it clear he supports North Carolina State Senator Kay Hagan as the DSCC’s candidate over openly-gay Jim Neal for the Democratic nomination in the U.S. Senate race.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Pennsylvania’s Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill to amend the constitution to ban marriages of same-sex couples and civil unions. This is the beginning of a second drive in the Pennsylvania legislature by marriage opponents to amend the state constitution.
City Newspaper in Rochester takes a broad look at marriage in light of the recent decision by Monroe County to appeal the Martinez decision.
The editorial board of the Binghamton University’s student newspaper is asking the university to support the Student Association's push against the Food and Drug Administration’s outdated ban on gay blood donors.
There was a possible hate crime in Spencerport recently. The victim was seriously injured, including a skull fracture. News10NBC’s coverage has been credited for the arrest of the assailant.
A sophomore at Syracuse University writes in The Daily Orange about why same-sex couples should be able to get married.
Monday, March 17, 2008
A New York Times Magazine article takes an extensive look on transgender men in women's colleges across the country.
Deb Price writes about the Pride Agenda's experiences with Gov. David Paterson, noting that the new Governor has been a dependable ally of the LGBT community.
The Miami Herald writes about the growing numbers and influence of openly gay elected officials.
Two hateful state lawmakers in Oregon will be championing a bill that would repeal LGBT anti-discrimination laws.
Friday, March 14, 2008
CBS News covers incoming Gov. Paterson's support of same-sex marriage and transgender non-discrimination.
After being denied asylum by a Dutch court, a gay Iranian teen may be granted protection from Britain.
A new report released by a Lutheran group says that gays and lesbians should be welcomed members of the community, but also maintains that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Playing off of Benjamin Franklin's famous quote, "In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes," Andy Humm writes a piece for the Gotham Gazette about some of the legal uncertainties that some same-sex couples in New York face.
Service-members Legal Defense Network had its lobby day in Washington, DC to get members of Congress to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Kenneth Cole, as part of his "We All Walk in Different Shoes" marketing campaign, features lesbian moms in one of the ads.
Norway looks to be the next country to legalize same-sex marriage.
An LGBT advocacy group in Greece has discovered a loophole in the country's marriage laws that may make it illegal to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Barack Obama this week released a list of 40 more notable supporters from the LGBT community.
Gay men are not being tested regularly enough for STDs, according to a Times article, meaning that many cases are going undetected for too long.
An Episcopal bishop in California is facing removal because of his attempt to secede from the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion over the Church's decision to ordain gay clergy.
Ohio's state legislature will take up a bill that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
Claiming victory, the American Family Association has ended its boycott of the Ford Motor Co. after Ford decreased its spending on advertisements and sponsorships for LGBT community events and publications. Ford claims that the decrease is only because of overall cuts due to decreased sales--and the company continues to hold the highest rank possible in HRC's Corporate Equality Index.
UPS has added the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to its supplier diversity program.
A gay Iranian teen has been denied asylum from a Dutch court, which may cause him to return to Iran and face extreme punishment--possibly death--for being openly gay.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Today the Pride Agenda put out the following statement about our new Governor:
“David Paterson’s leadership is a story of commitment to civil liberties and human rights. He believes in equality and justice for all New Yorkers and has demonstrated this time and time again in both words and actions.
He has been a strong and consistent friend of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community ever since he was elected to public office in 1985. He worked hard as a State Senator to help pass hate crimes legislation in 2000 and, in his first weeks as Senate Minority Leader, worked to make sure that there were enough Democratic votes to pass the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) in 2002.
We are excited to begin working with him as Governor.”
Our community will continue to have an ally and a friend in the Governor of New York--one who has been a strong supporter of all of our key issues and one that is committed to winning a pro-LGBT majority in the State Senate. Our priorities remain the same and our work moves ahead--and I am as optimistic as ever about our future successes.
David Paterson has a long record of support for LGBT New Yorkers. Not only has the Pride Agenda endorsed him many times in his elections to the State Senate, he has been an active supporter as Senate Minority Leader and Lieutenant Governor of the issues that are before us today, including: funding for the health and human services needs of LGBT New Yorkers, safe schools for LGBT youth, statewide non-discrimination protections based upon gender identity and expression, and marriage equality and family protections. In 2002, during the vote on SONDA, he supported an amendment that would have added gender identity and expression protections. And last year in the hours before the historic Assembly vote on the marriage bill, Lt. Gov. Paterson was on the Assembly floor personally urging lawmakers to pass the bill.
He spoke to our community as Senate Minority Leader at Equality and Justice Day in Albany in 2006 and has appeared before groups of our supporters at other times speaking candidly and from the heart about our lives and how we are just as much a part of the state as anyone else.
There's a lot of work to do in 2008--and we should be happy to have a Governor who is on our side and won't hesitate to move our issues forward.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld gives a brief overview of New York State Lt. Governor David Paterson's record on LGBT issues.
A columnist for the Sacramento Bee examines some of the arguments presented in the gay marriage case before the state's Supreme Court last week and proclaims that marriage equality is an inevitability.
The Oklahoma state lawmaker who last week stated that homosexuality is a greater threat to the nation than terrorism is getting some angry backlash.
Openly gay episcopal bishop Gene Robinson has been notified that he will not be allowed to attend this summer's once-a-decade world-wide meeting of Anglican leaders.
Lambda Legal is taking the University of Hawaii to court for denying family housing to a gay couple, one of which is a student at the school.
Monday, March 10, 2008
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who briefly issued marriage licenses to gay couples in 2003, is considering a gubernatorial run in the 2010 race to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger in California.
West Virgina lawmakers will be voting on legislation that would add sexual orientation as a protected class under the state's Human Rights and Fair Housing laws.
ABC News talks to Megan Wallent, the Microsoft executive who started publicly transitioning last year.
Spain's pro-gay prime minister was narrowly re-elected over the weekend.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Martinez and Lewis aren’t the only cases addressing out-of-state marriages. There are actually five marriage recognition cases moving through New York’s court system right now. The appellate level 5-0 Martinez ruling is the binding decision at the moment as it is the only one that has moved through both a lower level and a mid-level court.
Lambda Legal recently put out an excellent overview of all five cases, which was up-to-date until this Wednesday’s lower level court decision on Lewis. Go here to read this summary.
While we never try to predict what a court will say before it actually says it, there have been a string of good decisions in recent months on almost all of these cases and the Governor, the Attorney General, the Comptroller and many others have stated their agreement with these decisions. So things are looking good on the question of how New York will treat legal marriages of same-sex couples performed in places like Canada and Massachusetts.
However, the endgame on all of this is being able to get married right here in New York State and this means getting the State Senate to do what the Assembly has done -- pass marriage equality legislation.
After two weeks of controversy over whether he had a history of denigrating gays, woman and minorities, Andres Garcia withdraws his name from any further consideration for Buffalo’s top human rights post.
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’s “Friday Faceoff” series has Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks defending her appeal of the appellate court’s 5-0 Martinez decision and Bess Watts, President of the Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter of Pride at Work, talking about why LGBT county employees should have the same benefits for their families that other families are given.
The owner of a new restaurant and bar in Binghamton, who married his longtime partner Binghamton Councilman Sean Massey in Canada, talks about the value of diversity in his business and in the Greater Binghamton area.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Buffalo's Commission on Citizen's Rights and Community Relations is reconsidering its nominee to lead the city's human rights efforts amidst allegations that he "has denigrated gays, women and minorities" in the past. Outcome Buffalo disagrees.
The New York City Council has introduced (and Mayor Bloomberg is supporting) a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Act, which would give domestic partners access to family court in domestic violence cases. Currently, only married couples have access to Family Court in New York City.
Openly gay Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon talks about her relationship and her family while promoting her upcoming film in OK! Magazine (via Daily News).
A columnist for the Washington Post writes about the Maryland slate legislature's dilemma in passing legislation to grant legal recognition for same-sex couples and it all comes down to names.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
This is important for several reasons. First, in the five years that the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) has been around, legislators have never brought it to a floor vote in either chamber of the New York State Legislature. The most plausible reason for this is that lawmakers believe the issue to be controversial among their constituents—that, by acting to end discrimination against a marginalized group of people, they would somehow come under fire from the people who elect them to office.
This poll overwhelmingly dismisses that notion in a couple of ways. The first is the most direct: the poll states that for 88 percent of New York voters it either makes no difference in their vote or makes it more likely that they would vote for a state senator or assemblymember who voted to pass GENDA. Only nine percent said that they would actually be less likely to vote for their assemblymember/senator if that person voted to pass GENDA.
To further reinforce this, the poll found that 71 percent believed that there was already a law in place that outlawed this type of discrimination. This is a non-issue for voters and the state legislature should seriously take note of this.
Second, the political establishment in Albany often believes that a bill like GENDA has a natural base of support among voters of one party - the Democrats - more than the other - the Republicans. This means GENDA would be a one-house bill because, while Democrats may support it, the Republican-controlled Senate would not act on a bill that wouldn’t intuitively be popular with its core constituency.
This poll turns that assumption on its head. While the findings confirm that the vast majority of Democrats do support the passage of GENDA (77 percent), it also found that a clear majority of New York Republicans also favor outlawing discrimination against trans people (67 percent), further reinforcing the notion that New York Republicans are more libertarian than socially conservative and often have a “live and let live” mindset towards their fellow citizens. There is no reason, therefore, that GENDA should not be taken up and passed in both houses during this legislative session. We already know that Gov. Spitzer would sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.
And finally, party leadership from both sides of the aisle may think that acting on this bill during an election year might do damage to some of their marginal members in parts of the state that are traditionally more conservative than New York City. Again, the findings of this poll prove that notion to be false. Support in New York City certainly is strong (80 percent), but the strongest support came from the NYC suburbs, where 82 percent of likely voters believe that discrimination based on gender expression and identity should be outlawed. Additionally—and perhaps most significantly—74 percent of upstate voters support passing GENDA.
The time for delay is over. New York lags behind the 13 states that have already passed a bill like GENDA--states like New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois and Colorado--and New York is also behind the curve when compared to the dozens of Fortune 500 firms that have enacted policies that forbid trans discrimination—including New York-based companies like Kodak in Western New York, PepsiCo in the Hudson Valley, TimeWarner and American Express downstate and Corning in the Southern Tier.
It’s time to do what the vast majority of New Yorkers believe is the right thing to do: pass GENDA in 2008.
California's Supreme Court heard arguments in the case questioning the legality of banning same-sex marriage. Justices questioned both sides on the significance of the word marriage and why this was "the moment" for marriage equality. Good As You has audio clips of the arguments.
Jews from multiple denominations in California have organized to fight against a ballot proposal that could ban same-sex marriage in that state.
Washington's state legislature passed a bill yesterday that provides additional rights and responsibilities to domestic partners.
An attempt by Republican members of the Iowa House to vote on a bill that would ban same-sex marriages failed yesterday.
Fans of "As the World Turns" want to see more intimacy between the show's teenage gay couple.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
In an editorial, the Buffalo News advises caution in the current controversy over the selection of the city's Human Rights Commissioner, saying that if the nominee has even the slightest history of bigotry, he should be immediately dismissed as a candidate. The paper also states that judgement should be based on hard facts, not allegations.
The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld provides the most comprehensive view of how LGBT voters are having an impact on today's primary elections in Texas and Ohio.
Empty Closet Editor Susan Jordan editorializes about the obvious bigotry in Monroe County Executive Maggie Brook's decision to appeal a unanimous appellate court decision to grant full marriage equality to same-sex couples who were legally wed out of state.
California's Supreme Court will hear arguments on the question of same-sex marriage today and Good As You provides info on how you can listen live to the proceedings.
Nadine Smith, Exec. Director of Equality Florida, posts on the Daily Voice about the recent killing of a transgender 17-year old in Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale).
Homophobia in professional soccer will be addressed during the massively popular Euro 2008 championship tournament.
Paris' openly gay and highly popular mayor might be the Socialist Party's candidate in France's next presidential election (which isn't for a few years anyway).
Monday, March 3, 2008
An all-inclusive St. Patrick's Day Parade took place in Queens yesterday, bringing out hundreds of people. The parade was marshaled by NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Daily News Editor in Chief Pete Hamill.
Openly gay conservative/political pundit Andrew Sullivan heaped effusive praise upon Barack Obama for his positions on LGBT issues.
Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton support equal immigration rights for same-sex couples.
The New York Times ran an article about the liberal former bishop who headed St. John the Divine Episcopal Church and led a secret gay life. The Church's current head, Rev. James Kowalski, is a dedicated member of the Pride Agenda's Pride in the Pulpit program.
A student columnist writes in the Columbia Spectator a review of a recent conference for LGBT Jews hosted by Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
A recent poll shows that Iowans do not support same-sex marriage but do support civil unions.
Illinois' state legislature will be looking at a bill that would legalize civil unions for same-sex couples, much like the laws the New Jersey, Vermont and Connecticut currently have.
The Pope will likely speak against gay marriage when he comes to New York in mid-April.