Friday, May 30, 2008

The media reacts to the Gov.’s move toward marriage equality

Since the original NY Times story broke the news on Wednesday night, there have been literally hundreds of stories throughout the country written, blogged and recorded about Gov. Paterson’s instructions to state agencies to respect out of state marriages of same-sex couples. Here’s just a sampling of some of the great stories highlighting this historic move, and pondering what’s next for gay marriage in New York:

Editorial: A Step Closer to Justice – NY Times

Bruno Weighs Response to Gay-Marriage Directive – NY Times

N.Y. to Recognize Other Jurisdictions' Gay MarriagesWashington Post

Same-sex marriage rights directed by Paterson are far reaching – Ithaca Journal/Gannett Papers

Editorial: A victory for gay rights – Times Union

Guv Advances Marriage MarchGay City News

N.Y. recognizes gay marriages – Washington Blade

Bruno may challenge governor's order on same-sex unions - Newsday

Report: Paterson moving to recognize same-sex marriages - NY Daily News

Paterson’s gay marriage edict sparks debate - Buffalo News

Not Sure How We Missed This… - Daily Politics

Paterson's Message on Same-Sex Marriage - Politicker

New Governor Still Having Fun With the Job – Radar

Cook? Archuleta? Pssch! David Paterson is Our Idol! – Good As You

Paterson directs agencies to recognize gay marriages;
Good gov, bad gov;
Paterson’s gloves come off;
If you’re keeping score on gay marriage - Capitol Confidential

Governor Say N.Y. Law Recognizes Same-Sex Couples Married Out Of State - NY1

Legal Action Possible over Gay Marriage – ABC 7

Gov. Paterson interview - NPR

Morning Sweep

A Step Closer to Justice:” the New York Times’ editorial board backs Gov. Paterson’s same-sex marriage directive and highlights the Pride Agenda’s “1324 Rights & Responsibilities” report.

Good As you has the full video of Gov. Paterson’s bold and incredibly moving press conference yesterday, where he explained the purpose of his directive and more than once proclaimed his support for marriage equality.

After passing the Assembly Codes committee last week, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) is slated for a favorable vote very soon.

Gay couples can marry in California starting June 17 and State residents approve.

The Atlantic Monthly publishes “The Libertarian Argument for Gay Marriage.”

Senator John McCain’s recent appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show raises questions about his support of same-sex civil unions.

LGBT activists call for head doc to resign after APA issues an alarming gender diagnosis review, which recommends reparative therapy for transgender youth.

A transgender activist and fundraiser from Madison, Wisconsin was murdered while on vacation in Mexico.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another step forward for marriage equality in New York State

NYTimes Albany Bureau reporter Jeremy Peters has just posted a story on Gov. David Paterson's order to all state agencies to revise their policies in order to recognize marriages of same-sex couples that have been legally performed out-of-state (in places like Canada and now California). The move is highly significant because, as the article says directly "short of an act by the Legislature, the directive ordered by Mr. Paterson is the one of the strongest statements a state can make in favor of gay unions."

Gov. Paterson announced his intention to do this at the Pride Agenda's Spring Dinner in Rochester on Sat., May 17. See the video of this announcement below:

Peters' story also mentions "as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses." This number was taken from a report that the Pride Agenda and the New York City Bar Association released last year cataloguing every single right, responsibility and statute that comes with a marriage license in New York State. It was the first (and is so far the only) catalogue of what a state can provide through a marriage license (which is separate from the rights and protections provided by the federal government).

Stay tuned from more from us on this.

Morning Sweep

Despite his support of DOMA in the past, new libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr says he would now repeal the act if elected (his support was all about states’ rights and not discrimination, who knew?), and he supports the California marriage decision.

A new poll of California voters says the majority actually do support same-sex marriage, as opposed to last week’s poll, which said they don't. Anyone confused?

That confusion will likely fuel the fire as dueling activists spend an estimated $30 million fighting both for and against the marriage ban amendment.

A Boy Scouts chapter in Philadelphia is suing the city for the right to continue its no-gays allowed policies. As a condition of the Scouts’ free rent, the city says it has to stop discriminating. How inconvenient!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Morning Sweep

Christine Quinn spoke with Ernst & Young’s LGBT employee group last week to help kick off their Pride Month activities.

Potential bad news for marriage in California: a poll shows that more than half of voters would vote for a same-sex marriage ban amendment in Nov., which would overrule the court’s recent decision.

Former Republican Rep. Bob Barr, who led the push for the creation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, has been chosen as the Libertarian party’s candidate for president.

A columnist at The Nation says that the Ca. gay marriage decision signals the end of the “culture war” era. Oh, so LGBT discrimination is a thing of the past? Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Gay couples in Maryland will now receive tax benefits and hospital visitation rights.

Following Thailand’s example, Russia has repealed its ban on gay blood donors.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has an interesting profile of a transgender ally who is engaged to the trans man who inspired her advocacy work.

The "Sex and the City" actresses reflect on the show’s gay fans.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Morning Sweep

Gay City News reports on the possibility that GENDA will get a floor vote in the Assembly by the end of the legislative session.

McCain has rejected an endorsement from Rev. John Hagee, the controversial Texas televangelist who has made many offensive remarks, including homophobic ones. Oh, and he also rejected Rod Parsley, who hates Islam and the gays.

A conservative legal group has asked the California Supreme Court to put the marriage ruling on hold until Nov. to see which way voters go on the gay marriage ban amendment.

Some San Diego county clerks might be allowed to opt-out of officiating same-sex marriages. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is outraged.

The legal director of Lambda Legal and the senior counsel from the Alliance Defense Fund face off in the L.A. Times on the need for gay marriage.

You can call Alanis Morisette “Ally” for short – when singing her well-known tune “Ironic” on the “Today” show this morning, she changed the lyrics “It’s like meeting the man of my dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife” to “beautiful husband.”

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Morning Sweep

The Ithaca Journal has a great guest column about the strong presence of constituents at State Sen. James Seward’s (R-51st Dist.) legislative meeting on E&J Day.

Also in E&J news, Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ website reports on the impact that the school’s 18 student participants made.

McCain faced off with Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show, saying that he wishes her “every happiness” except the kind that comes with legal marriage.

A lesbian Air Force major who was dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be able to continue her lawsuit against the military after an appeals court ruled that the government can only "intrude upon the personal and private lives of homosexuals" to "advance an important governmental interest." In other words, they can’t fire you just because you’re gay, but only if they can show that your sexual orientation somehow interferes with your work.

And lesbian and gay servicemembers from California will unfortunately have to think twice about hearing wedding bells anytime soon – if they get married, they might be dismissed under DADT.

The Oregon court of appeals ruled yesterday to uphold the state’s gay marriage ban.

A principal at a South Carolina high school has chosen to resign rather than stick around for the creation of a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The future of LGBT workplace equality

On Monday night, Pride In My Workplace (PIMW) held its third and final Business Leaders for LGBT Equality Series workshop. The series highlighted how employees in New York are advancing workplace equality for the LGBT community. Held at Macy’s East, the panel was moderated by Marla Hassner, a Pride Agenda board member from Lehman Brothers. Panel participants included PIMW activists Emily Jones (HRC Business Council), Richard Oceguera (Coldwell Banker Previews International and Manhattan Chamber of Commerce), and Leotis Sanders (Macy’s East).

From left to right: Richard Oceguera, Emily Jones, Leotis Sanders, and Marla Hassner.

The panelists had a fantastic dialogue about business and workplace equality efforts and the future of LGBT Best Practices. The group agreed that visibility is key; companies need to make sure that their LGBT employees are visible within the workplace and that their affirming practices are highlighted. In addition, they need to make sure that their charitable works and Best Practices are visible to the public so that the LGBT community and its allies will know what companies should receive their business.

Panelists and the audience also talked about the future of LGBT employees. They agreed that the Millennial Generation – including recent grads and current college and high school students – are naturally more accepting and open, and that as a result, in 20 years, the workplace should be a dramatically different place for the gay community. There’s also a need to recruit a larger pool of young LGBT talent that will be able to break the glass ceiling and produce more high-level LGBT executives in the future.

For more information about Pride In My Workplace, contact Wazina Zondon at or call (212) 627-0305.

Morning Sweep

The New York Times celebrates Florent, the iconic meatpacking district restaurant that has been a longtime favorite of the gay community. Florent will close on June 29.

While many pundits have been arguing that the Ca. marriage decision could hurt the Democrats in the Nov. election, Queerty makes the argument that the topic could also damage McCain’s reputation.

Portland has elected the first-ever openly gay mayor of a top-40 U.S. city.

A recent report reveals that anti-LGBT violence increased 24% nationwide last year.

A federal court has reopened the case of a Florida high school that has prohibited its students from forming a Gay-Straight Alliance.

Britain has granted asylum to a gay Iranian student who it previously planned to deport.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

GENDA passes Assembly Codes Committee

The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) has just passed the Assembly Codes Committee by a bipartisan vote of 16-2. The bill had already passed in the Government Operations Committee on April 30 and now goes to the Assembly Rules Committee, which is chaired by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Thirteen Democrats and three Republicans voted for moving GENDA, while only two Republicans voted against. Democrat Robin Schimminger was the only Assemblymember absent for the vote.

GENDA has 75 co-sponsors in the Assembly and 101 Assemblymembers are on record in support of the bill, according to our Legislative Scorecard.

Below is the Codes Committee vote count.

Voting for:

Joe Lentol (D) (Chair)
Philip Boyle (R)
James Brennan (D)
Vivian Cook (D)
Steven Cymbrowitz (D)
Tom Kirwan (R)
Charles Lavine (D)
Daniel O'Donnell (D)
Nick Perry (D)
J. Gary Pretlow (D)
Dede Scozzafava (R)
Michele Titus (D)
Helene Weinstein (D)
Mark Weprin (D)
Keith L.T. Wright (D)
Kenneth Zebrowski (D)

Voting against:

George Amedore (R)
David R. Townsend (R)

Morning Sweep

Recently shamed Rep. Vito Fossella won’t seek another term in Congress.

The Los Angeles Times interviewed clergy in California to find out which congregations will be willing to marry gays.

The LA Times also has a fascinating story on Chief Justice Ronald M. George, the moderate Republican on the Ca. Supreme Court who tipped the 4-3 marriage ruling in the direction of equality.

A recent web poll found that one in four gay and lesbian adults don’t have health insurance, making them nearly twice as likely as the straight adults polled to be uninsured.

Cancel that vacation you were planning to Gambia. The country’s president has announced that all gays must leave the country within 24 hours “or face serious consequences if caught.”

Monday, May 19, 2008

Morning Sweep

The Wall Street Journal continues to argue that the California marriage decision will hurt Obama and help McCain in the Nov. election.

A New York Times writer examines the pros and cons of a New Yorker going to California to get married.

More than 45,000 walkers at the 23rd annual AIDS Walk in NYC this past weekend raised $7 million for tri-state area HIV/AIDS organizations.

In an unprecedented show of support for gay rights, hundreds of activists and government leaders came together in Cuba this past weekend for a conference on the International Day Against Homophobia.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The significance of the California Supreme Court’s marriage decision

Lesbian and gay couples in California and nationwide are celebrating the state Supreme Court’s historic 4-3 decision yesterday to overturn the same-sex marriage ban. In as soon as 30 days, gay couples throughout the state will finally be able to publicly and legally declare their love and commitment to each other, just as straight couples always have.

But in addition to the social and political impact of this landmark decision, there is a significant legal impact as well. In making it clear that gay couples cannot be legally discriminated against, the court has established that sexual orientation is a “suspect classification” under the California Constitution. This means that any state laws or policies that discriminate based on sexual orientation are worthy of the same level of judicial scrutiny – the strictest level – as race and gender. This is a monumental distinction – no other state’s highest court has ever before come to this conclusion.

Other highlights of the 121-page majority decision include:

  • The decision explains that there is no reason to discriminate against same-sex couples, because “the limitation clearly is not necessary to preserve the rights and benefits of marriage currently enjoyed by opposite-sex couples.” In other words, no one is harmed by gay couples being married. The decision even quotes Chief Judge Kaye’s dissent in the New York Court of Appeals marriage decision: “There are enough marriage licenses to go around for everyone.”
  • The court says that assigning different terms for the relationships of opposite-sex and same-sex couples (“marriage” vs. “domestic partnership”) makes gay couples seem like second-class citizens, and that if the state doesn’t want to call it “marriage” for gay couples, they can’t call it “marriage” for straight couples, either.
  • The decision explains that the historical definition of marriage is not a valid reason to continue to discriminate against gay couples who, like interracial couples, were not originally included in the traditional definition of marriage.
  • The decision debunks one of the most common arguments against gay marriage: that unlike opposite-sex marriage, its primary focus isn’t raising children. This was one of the main reasons that the New York high court gave for ruling against same-sex marriage. But the California court says not only is it flawed to say that the primary purpose of marriage is to raise children (there are many childless married couples), but also, gay couples are just as capable of being loving families as their straight counterparts.

Morning Sweep – California Marriage Edition

The New York Times takes a comprehensive look at different groups’ reactions to California’s Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the same-sex marriage ban.

But with the potential of a marriage ban amendment on the Nov. ballot that, if passed by voters, would overturn the decision, NYT reports the future of gay marriage in California could still be unclear.

And will the Ca. decision rev up the presidential candidates’ discussions of gay marriage or give the Republicans an advantage come November?

Gay City News highlights the significance of the Court’s decision to make sexual orientation a “suspect classification,” meaning that any Ca. law that discriminates based on sexual orientation is now subject to the highest level of judicial scrutiny.

The Sun looks at the national and local implications of the decision.

A Wall Street Journal editorial argues that the decision will bring up the issue of activist judges in the presidential race.

It’s a bit of a downer, but Time magazine points out what the marriage decision doesn’t do for Ca. gays: give them the federal rights of marriage, like filing joint federal taxes and collecting partners’ social security benefits.

The Washington Blade looks at some national reactions to the decision. has reactions of national gay organizations, as well as New Jersey’s Garden State Equality.

The Advocate has several celebrity activists’ reactions to the decision.

Upon hearing the news, Ellen DeGeneres announced on her show that she would marry her girlfriend, Portia de Rossi.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A great day for same-sex marriage

Today is a momentous day for same-sex marriage in our country! Just minutes ago, the California Supreme Court handed down its decision to overturn the state’s gay marriage ban, ending marriage discrimination against the tens of thousands of loving, committed same-sex couples in California. You can read the decision here.

Check back with us soon for more information about how this will affect marriage equality here in New York!

Morning Sweep

In an interview with Queerty, Jim Neal, the openly-gay politician who recently lost his bid for the North Carolina Democratic nomination in the Senate race, says he isn’t bitter.

The New York Times reports that more young viewers have tuned into “As the World Turns” since the Luke and Noah storyline began.

A Catholic priest in Dallas has been forced to resign because of his past affiliation with a website supportive of gay clergy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Morning Sweep

Although New York Family Court ruled that a trans teen should have her sex reassignment surgery paid for by the state, the court of appeals reversed the decision, saying that a teen isn’t ready for such a life-altering procedure.

The loneliness that many of the elderly face when family and friends pass away can be even worse for aging LGBT people who are already isolated because of their sexual orientation.

A federal court ruled that a Florida high school principal who banned students from wearing clothing that displayed pro-gay symbols – but allowed clothing with Confederate flags – violated students’ First Amendment rights.

Plans in Arizona to put a gay marriage ban amendment on the Nov. ballot have passed the House by a narrow vote and will now move on to the State Senate.

The Advocate has great profiles of four international gay rights activists from Nepal, Russia, Nigeria, and Chile.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dropping the Ball

As primary season gets underway for elected officials in both of New York’s legislative chambers we start to see a clear picture of how various issues will be used to promote the record of a certain candidate or sully the image of an opponent.

LGBT issues, unfortunately, are often considered fair game in this game of mudslinging. What many of these candidates don’t realize, however, is that New Yorkers (of all political stripes) are not won over by championing a position that is discriminatory towards their lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender friends, family neighbors or coworkers. It certainly didn’t work when Craig Johnson was running in his special election for a Long Island senate seat last year.

Now Hudson Valley Assemblyman Greg Ball apparently feels that it’s necessary to beef up his conservative creds in a recent mailer by proudly showcasing the fact that he has defended “traditional marriage.” As a young member of the Assembly and self-proclaimed “reformer,” we find it curious that Ball would claim that he’s taken on “the good old boys” by doing things like voting against the marriage bill that passed in the Assembly last June. If you look at the list of Assemblymembers who voted for that bill, you’ll find that a vast majority of the “good old boys” voted the same way that Greg Ball voted. More progressive “reformers” in the Assembly voted for marriage.

The most insulting part of this mailer is the headline that proclaims that Ball is “fighting for the best interest of you and your family.” Apparently this excludes anyone who is LGBT or has an LGBT member of their family. By voting to deny the 1324 rights and responsibilities that come with a marriage license to the many committed same-sex couples in his district, Ball doesn’t seem to be fighting for a definition of family values that is in-step with his constituents—or one that is very reform-minded.

Morning Sweep

Former Republican Rep. Bob Barr, who led the push for the creation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, has entered the presidential race as a candidate for the Libertarian nomination.

Caliente Cab Company, a West Village restaurant, has reached a settlement with a lesbian they threw out of the women’s restroom after the Gay Pride Parade last year because she didn’t seem feminine enough.

Just over half of the hospitals rated under a new system got top marks for their LGBT policies, including patient nondiscrimination, visitation and decision-making rights for partners, diversity training for staff, and nondiscriminatory employment practices.

A new survey shows that – surprise! – gays are more likely to buy brands they see as gay-friendly. Some of the brands earning the highest marks include Bravo, Apple, Showtime, HBO, Absolut and Levi’s.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Morning Sweep

The New York Times reflects on the positive feedback that Republican Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward has gotten in response to her support of the marriage equality bill.

In further evidence of Vito Fossella’s hypocrisy, a source told the Daily News that he shuns his openly gay sister and won’t attend family gatherings when she’s present. Let’s hope his 3-year-old is raised with better “family values.”

NPR continues their in-depth look at transgender youth with the story of a family that chose a puberty-delaying treatment for their gender-questioning child and a Q&A with doctors on the controversial treatment.

An Advocate story about ex-gay programs challenges assumptions about the movement and its opponents.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fossella's Hypocrisy

With all of the news out in the last 24 hours dealing with Congressman Vito Fossella's extramarital affair, we thought it would be useful to remind people that the Staten Island Representative had voted not once or twice--but three times to, as many of his colleagues argued, "preserve the sanctity of marriage."

In 2004, Fossella voted for the Marriage Protection Act, which essentially would have prevented courts from striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That bill passed in the House by a vote of 233-194 and later died in the Senate.

Later in the same month in 2004, Fossella voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have amended the U.S. Constitution to explicitly ban marriages for same-sex couples in any part of the United States. It would have been the first time that discrimination was to be enshrined in the Constitution. That bill passed in the House by a vote of 236-187 and later died in the Senate.

In 2006, Fossella again voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, making it the third time he chose to stand up and firmly deny same-sex couples the thousands of rights and protections that come with a federal and state marriage license.

We find it interesting that Fossella would have such strong feelings about an institution that apparently didn't have much meaning for him in the end.

So what's next for Fossella? We hear this charming villa has a few vacancies:

Morning Sweep

Some students at a Putnam County high school are cross-dressing this week to show their support for a transgender classmate.

The Advocate interviews Thomas Roberts, an openly gay former CNN news anchor, and discusses why there aren’t more gays in broadcasting.

NPR looks at two young children struggling with their gender identities who are undergoing very different forms of therapy, and Pam’s House Blend wonders why "gender identity disorder" is still listed in the DSM.

Alabama’s House of Representatives has passed hate crimes and anti-bullying bills. On to the Senate!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Morning Sweep

New York State’s highest court decided yesterday not to hear Martinez v. County of Monroe, the case challenging an appeals court ruling that found that the marriages of same-sex couples in jurisdictions where they are legal, like Canada and Massachusetts, must be recognized in New York. This means that married same-sex couples will continue to have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage in New York.

The Pennsylvania amendment to ban same-sex marriage has been dropped, even though it was set just yesterday to be voted on by the State Senate. The bill’s backer says it wouldn’t have had enough support to pass in the House.

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that government and state universities can’t offer health benefits to gay employees’ partners.

The highest ranking military veteran in Congress, Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, supports the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The tale of a penguin with two daddies tops the list of most “challenged” children’s books in public schools and libraries for the second year in a row.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Morning Sweep

The Wall Street Journal analyzes John McCain’s stance on hot-button issues such as gay rights, abortion and gun control.

Mildred Loving, a black woman who fought the state of Virginia to make interracial marriage legal in the historic 1967 Supreme Court case, has passed away. On the 40th anniversary of the decision last year, Loving announced her support for marriage for same-sex couples.

An amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania has passed in committee and will now be voted on by the State Senate.

The WNBA thinks it’s necessary to teach its players how to act more feminine – including lessons on how to wear clothes and makeup.

The New York Times profiles Michael Patrick King, the openly-gay screenwriter and film director of the “Sex and the City” movie and former head writer for the show.

In case you haven’t heard: in last night’s episode, the gay “Gossip Girl” character was finally revealed!

Today is the 140th birthday of the word “homosexual.” Cake and candles, anyone?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Morning Sweep

New Jersey has become the second state to offer paid family leave to anyone with a civil union or domestic partnership.

In a national poll, less than half of gays who were asked four questions about their basic rights answered all of them correctly.

The California Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in a case of a lesbian whose doctors, after providing 11 months of fertility treatment, refused to artificially inseminate her because of her sexual orientation.

There’s an increase in colleges that are offering or considering gender-neutral housing, which can make life easier for LGBT students.

Publishers Weekly reflects on the status of gay and lesbian literature.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Morning Sweep

Q-Notes, a Carolinas LGBT newspaper, did e-mail Q&A’s with both Clinton and Obama. No surprise – they both say they support equality for LGBT Americans – but through civil unions, not marriage.

The New York Times reports that sexual harassment has gotten worse at schools, and LGBT students face it twice as often as their straight peers.

The Times’ editorial board weighs in on those Lesbians from Lesboslawsuit, which proves that frivolous litigation isn’t an exclusively American pastime.

Florida is about to get an anti-bullying law. And it only took 8 years!

Americans For The Military, part of the conservative Center for Military Readiness, is circulating a petition against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Guess they’d rather get ready without the estimated two gays per day who are kicked out of the military.

Despite controversy, plans have been announced to build a monument in Tel Aviv honoring lesbians and gays killed in the Holocaust.

Openly gay actor Alan Cumming says much of Hollywood is still in the closet.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Morning Sweep

Someone sent a slew of slur-filled letters about Charles Ober, an openly gay candidate running for Queens City Council, to local residents. The mail was so hateful that even Ober’s potential Republican rival, Thomas Ognibene, spoke out against it.

The New York Times’ politics blog examines the response to North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley’s “pansy” remark on gay blogs, including Queerty and Pam’s House Blend.

LGBT travel has become a lucrative business, bringing in $65 billion a year.

Gays around the world are running for and holding office, including an openly gay man running for Senate in the Czech Republic and a new gay Parliament member in Nepal.