Friday, June 27, 2008

Morning Sweep

In this week's Gay City News editorial, Paul Schindler acknowledges the recent advancements in the LGBT equal rights movement -- both local and national -- as a cause for added celebration this Pride season as well as an opportunity to work even harder toward winning equality in the future.

The New York health department launched an HIV-screening campaign yesterday to test residents from the Bronx, the region which in 2006 accounted for one-quarter of the 3,745 HIV/AIDS diagnoses in all five New York City boroughs.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report harrowing HIV/AIDS statistics about men who have sex with men, whom account for over half of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the past six years.

The CDC also found that HIV/AIDS diagnoses among gay men increased by 3 percent in those 45 and older and increased an alarming 12 percent in the 13-to-24-year-old group within the last year. HIV/AIDS diagnoses declined by 1 percent in the 25-44 age group.

Sen. Obama hosted a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. last night in an effort to bring on board Sen. Clinton’s top donors.

Meanwhile in New York, Michelle Obama spoke to her husband’s dedication to reverse discriminatory policies at the DNC’s Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council’s Gala.

McCain swears to Christian conservatives that he will oppose marriage equality more vigorously from now on.

HRC has the minutes from the Congressional hearing that took place yesterday to discuss the need for transgender employee rights.

Starbucks is being sued by two former employees who claim an exec discriminated against them because they’re gay.

Gay Pride in Jerusalem turned out 3000 marchers and 2000 police officers to protect those proud marchers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Family Court Will Finally Be Open To Same-Sex Couples and All Families

Big news for same-sex couples and families in New York: you’ll soon have equal access to the state’s vital protections against domestic violence. The New York State Legislature has recently passed a bill that allows any domestic partners – including same-sex couples – access to the protections granted by Family Court. These include obtaining civil orders of protection, removing an abuser from the home, the use of social services to address a situation, and other protections that can be granted without initiating criminal proceedings.

Family Courts had previously left out same-sex couples, unmarried committed couples without children, and those in dating relationships – either gay or straight. Gay and lesbian couples had no access to Family Courts because they didn’t have the ability to get married. The Family Court access bill (S.8665 /A.11701), which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Paterson, opens up Family Court to provide equal access to all for protection from domestic violence.

The Legislature’s move to pass this bill is a significant victory for the LGBT community. Until now, New York has been one of the last states in the nation to protect unmarried couples against domestic violence. This long-overdue law has been on the Pride Agenda’s public policy agenda for years, and advocates throughout the state have been pushing for its protections for two decades. Even though the Family Court access bill has been passed by the Assembly by wide, bipartisan votes for many years, this marks the first time that it has ever reached a floor vote in the Senate. Finally, all kinds of New York families – gay, straight, married, unmarried – will receive equal protection from domestic violence.

Morning Sweep

The Advocate examines how Bruno’s retirement and Skelos’ new spot as Senate Majority Leader might affect the fight for marriage equality in New York.

Newsday reports that there’s still much confusion to be cleared up about Paterson’s memo recognizing out-of-state marriage of same-sex couples as legal in New York.

Metroland has an interview with Nora Yates,
Executive Director of the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Council (and former Pride Agenda Field Director), about developments in gay rights over the past few decades and the implications for LGBT New Yorkers.

The cost of a marriage license in New York: $35. The current cost of a domestic partnership: $36. Our quote that in addition to removing the $1 price difference, we’d like real marriage equality, please: priceless.

McCain met with the Log Cabin Republicans earlier this week, but shhh, it’s a secret: the meeting wasn’t listed on his public schedule.

Those desert-dwellers are at it again: a same-sex marriage ban amendment in Arizona has so far failed to make it on to the Nov. ballot, but it could be up for a re-vote tomorrow.

A Huffington Post blogger reflected yesterday on the five year anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court case that struck down U.S. sodomy laws.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Morning Sweep

State Senate Republicans have chosen Dean Skelos to replace Joe Bruno as Senate Majority Leader.

In honor of Pride Week, NY1 takes a look at LGBT communities throughout the five boroughs.

Michelle Obama will be the keynote speaker at tonight’s Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council Gala in NYC.

New statistics show that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” might be targeting lesbians more than gay men.

Heinz has pulled its commercial from the U.K. that shows a loving smooch between a gay couple after receiving some complaints, and more than 1,500 people have already signed a petition in protest.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Morning Sweep

Some State religious leaders are enlightening their congregations on marriage equality, while other clergy decry Gov. Paterson’s support of same-sex couples' marriage rights.

An NY bishop is outed posthumously in his daughter’s memoir.

On Saturday, a group of concerned citizens marched through Brooklyn to raise awareness for the growing incidents of anti-LGBT violence in New York City. The NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project received 2,430 calls in 2007 reporting anti-LGBT violence, a small fraction of those who experience such bias-motivated crime.

Westchester Counter Exec. Andrew Spano will re-argue marriage equality before an Appeals Court.

The Nashua Telegraph concludes its "In Transition" series, which seeks to "to inform our readers on New Hampshire’s transgender community," with a heartening story of a mother and her transgender tween.

Gay folks across America are California dreamin’; a recent survey ranks the state as the number-one gay tourist destination in the nation.

Equality California have filed a suit to protect same-sex couple’s marriage rights against a proposed constitutional amendment.

Gay service members discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy can apply for lateral transfers in other federal agencies, the New York Times reports.

LGBT Pride celebrations kick-off in New York City and in India.

Florida Governor -- and Republican veep short-lister -- Charlie Crisp has yet to find the "right one."

Religious police in Saudi Arabia crash a big gay party, arresting dozens of men initially and detaining 21 men after all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pride Agenda Op-Ed In The Capitol

In this month’s edition of The Capitol, Alan Van Capelle penned a timely op-ed about the current political climate and the need to fully legalize marriage for same-sex couples in New York State. He urges the State Senate to take a cue from what the Assembly and Gov. Paterson have already done and extend the 1,324 rights and responsibilities of marriage to all New Yorkers:

Now, Time to Fully Legalize Gay Marriage
by Alan Van Capelle

Almost two years after the Court of Appeals stated that marriage equality was “the Legislature’s problem,” it’s now boiled down to just being a problem with the State Senate.

Much has changed in the last two years on this issue, not only here in New York but across the country. Licenses are about to start flowing in California to same-sex couples, neighboring states like New Jersey seem poised to legalize marriage for same-sex couples as early as next year and public opinion continues to shift in our direction on whether same-sex couples should have equal access to marriage and the protections and securities it provides to families.

New York is like a number of states in the northeast in that a majority of voters favor marriage for same-sex couples (53 percent in favor to just 38 percent against, according to our polling). We also have a governor, an attorney general and a comptroller who support marriage for our families and an Assembly that has approved in a bi-partisan fashion legislation making it so.

Other powerful forces in the state have also been moving to affirm their support for same-sex marriage. Labor unions representing over a million working men and woman across the state have passed resolutions supporting marriage equality for their members. Hundreds of clergy and laypeople from mainstream Christian and Jewish congregations have also stepped forward to state their support for marriage for all New Yorkers.

Even with all this forward movement, the State Senate continues to be mired in the past when it comes to this important human rights issue, and the result is that tens of thousands of New York families are prevented from having access to the literally 1,324 rights and responsibilities New York provides to committed couples when they marry.

Despite the Senate’s intransigence, however, it has not been successful in totally walling off our families from marriage or muting our desire to obtain the security and legal protection marriage provides so we can protect the ones we love.

In 2004, then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) issued a legal opinion saying that New York’s marriage recognition, or comity, law has always treated out-of-state marriages as legal in New York, even if those marriages cannot take place here. So when hundreds of couples went to Canada to get married, government on a variety of levels as well as businesses and labor unions followed the law of New York and said, “Yes, you’re married.”

In the instance of Monroe County, which refused to follow the law, a couple with a Canadian marriage license took the county to court, resulting in an appellate court decision unanimously confirming that New York’s marriage recognition law applies equally to same-sex couples. To avoid the lengthy, costly and ultimately wasteful litigation that now looms on the horizon as more and more couples go out of state to get married (or out-of-state couples move to New York) and ask that their marriages be respected, Governor Paterson’s legal counsel advised him to get ahead of the issue by making sure all state agencies begin treating these marriages the same way they treat any other marriage.

So the governor did. He had an advisory memo sent to state agencies asking them to do what the Department of Civil Service did last year and implement the state’s already existing policy of respecting out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

While it is still unclear how many of the state’s 1,324 marriage rights and responsibilities are wholly under the jurisdiction of executive branch state agencies, as opposed to other arms of state government which may or may not be bound by anything the governor does, we do know what Governor Paterson has done is a big step forward for our families.

Ultimately the only way our families will have all the protections the state provides through marriage is for us to be able to get married right here in New York. But so far, the State Senate has chosen to turn on us and the tens of thousands of children that many same-sex couples are raising.

Clearly the Senate is out of step on this issue and becoming more so with every passing day.

Marriage equality is no longer a question of “if” in New York, it’s only a question of “when.” Whether the current leadership in the Senate chooses to acknowledge the inevitable and do something about it is up to them.

Morning Sweep

Two-hundred and fifty evangelical Christian ministers ascended the NYS Capitol yesterday to protest Gov. Paterson’s marriage directive. At the same time, the Pride Agenda released the names of 335 clergy who support marriage rights for gay couples.

The Associated Press reports on the new transgender inclusive policy in the New York juvenile detention system.

An opinion piece in today’s Times Union praises Paterson’s action on marriage.

In Maine, a Christian conservative group fails to rally residents against LGBT non-discrimination act.

A group of conservative Anglicans bishops will take the road less-traveled this year, boycotting the once-in-a-decade Lambeth Conference in opposition of the church’s acceptance of a gay bishop and same-sex marriage.

The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld profiles the good work of Gill Action.

While black Americans are more likely to oppose marriage equality than whites, black leaders are paving the way for LGBT equality.

The Social Security Administration must now recognize the children of same-sex couples.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Morning Sweep

President Bush will award the
Presidential Medal of Freedom to Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, a strong supporter of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” who says being gay is “immoral.” What a great role model!

The American Medical Association passed resolutions calling for better care for transgender patients.

A Gallup poll says Americans are split down the middle on the question of whether gay relationships are immoral.

The L.A. Times has a roundup of recent studies done to try to determine what causes people to be gay. Hair whorls, left-handers and siblings, oh my!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Morning Sweep

Outer borough pride celebrations infused with local spirit are becoming more popular.

Although same-sex couples can’t collect their spouses’ Social Security benefits, their children must be eligible for benefits they would receive if their parents are disabled, the Department of Justice has ruled.

The New York Times reports that even though some Ca. same-sex couples are opting for low-key ceremonies, they’ve identified a new phenomenon: gay bridezillas. Tapas, anyone?

Same-sex marriage opponents say we shouldn’t be surprised that they haven’t been protesting Ca. ceremonies: they’re saving up their energy and resources to win the anti-marriage amendment.

Conservative groups’ efforts to repeal gay partner laws in Oregon have failed – for now.

Are NY straight men joining gay sports leagues because they’re more fun?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Morning Sweep

The AP has vignettes from some of the first Ca. marriage ceremonies that took place last night.

The New York Times’ Lede blog has a touching thread of stories by Ca. same-sex couples who now plan to get married and others who support them.

One such couple includes a gay country clerk whose office oversees more than a thousand marriages a year. Finally this year, his will be included in the tally.

The L.A. Times’ editorial board voices their support for gay marital bliss…

…But a roundup in the same publication explains that worldwide, there’s still much prejudice against marriage equality to overcome.

Gay and lesbian couples planning to exchange vows should keep the ceremonies low-key so as not to provide fuel for opponents, the L.A. Times warns. You know, because straight couples never make unfortunate wedding choices.

Independent LGBT films aren’t doing as well this pride season as in past years.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Morning Sweep

On Father’s Day, former GLAAD E.D. Joan Garry pens an poignant Op-Ed about her love for singing, sports and her favorite Irish tenor, her dad.

NY gay couples "go west" for their nuptials.

Towleroad compiles the latest news stories, as California gears up to start marrying same-gender couples starting at today at 5:01 PM PST.

New CBS polls find most Americans support marriage equality. A New York Times poll also reflects a steady upward trend towards granting gay couples the rights that come with marriage.

After 55 years, a Ca. lesbian couple are ready to tie the knot and will be the first to do so in San Francisco.

A secular, Jewish organization in California will officiate same-gender marriages. Mazel Tov!

The Detroit Free Press muses over how the debate over marriage equality has defined modern conceptions of family, civil rights and the political process in America.

The in-love, the indifferent and the divorced: the New York Times checks in in with Massachusetts gay couples on the four-year anniversary of the State legalizing the marriages of same-sex partners. fields questions about Oregon’s own transgender father-to-be.

We are family! Ma. Gov. Deval Patrick marches with wife and lesbian daughter in Boston Pride parade.

The Bishop of London is peeved over a commitment ceremony of two Anglican priests.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Morning Sweep

Yesterday we posted about the Quinnipiac University poll revealing that a majority of New Yorkers (53%-40%) approve Gov. Paterson’s announcement to recognize marriages of out-of-state same-sex couples. The New York Post picked up the story, including an interview with Pride Agenda E.D. Alan Van Capelle below.

The Gay City News covers the fifth annual Equality@Work Awards Luncheon, honoring Kenneth Cole, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, and Credit Suisse for their leadership and excellence in creating LGBT-inclusive workplaces.

GENDA joins other LGBT legislation in queue for senate approval. The New York Blade quotes Alan Van Capelle and Melissa Sklarz, director of the New York Trans Rights Organization.

The Blade also rounds up stories about the Working Family Party’s resolution to support marriage equality and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis partnership with Duane Reade to offer free HIV tests.

Gov. Paterson’s support of marriage equality makes New York Bishop red-in-the-face.

The Seacaucus, New Jersey gay couple ganged up on by firefighters and residents then ignored by local officials was awarded $2.84M after the City Court decided on the bias crime. The couples’ attorney also intends to bring the case to the U.S.

Fear-mongering campaigns aim to take away transgender non-discrimination protections on general election ballot.

Groups protesting Ca. Supreme Court marriage decision seek last-minute petition to Appeals Court.

Gay wedding bells will start ringing in California Monday, June 16 at 5:01PM, just not in Kern County where the County Clerk has refused to conduct any marriages whatsoever.

Did Tila Tequila’s reality show “Shot at Love” provide the impetus for marriage equality in California?

Police chief rains on Budapest’s pride parade, citing “traffic concerns” for last-minute cancellation.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Equality@Work Awards celebrate leaders in workplace equality

Kenneth Cole and Padma Lakshmi

The Pride Agenda’s fifth annual Equality@Work Awards Luncheon was yesterday at Cipriani 23rd Street in NYC. The event was attended by more than 250 people representing industries including fashion and retail, legal, financial, real estate, among others. The awards were given to three special recipients who have gone above and beyond in creating inclusive workplaces and serving as excellent examples of how other companies can set and raise the bar for LGBT employees in their industries: Kenneth Cole of Kenneth Cole Productions as the individual honoree, and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Credit Suisse as the corporate honorees.

The Equality@Work Awards also celebrates Pride In My Workplace, the Pride Agenda’s innovative program that trains businesses and firms to be employers of choice for LGBT people in New York. The program’s interactive industry roundtables train businesses on workplace best practices.

Padma Lakshmi, host of TV’s “Top Chef,” got the crowd laughing as emcee, and Pride Agenda’s own Alan Van Capelle told companies that are behind the times in empowering their LGBT employees that it’s time for them to “pack their knives and go.” Well said!

Morning Sweep

Obama continues to ramp up his efforts to reach out to the LGBT community, with unsurprising opposition from the religious right.

Trans activist Donna Rose writes about how the “T” fits in to LGBT Pride Month.

A New Jersey gay couple has won millions in their lawsuit against homophobic harassment by the firefighters working next door to them.

A Newsweek columnist writes that it’s only a matter of time before homophobia is a thing of the past.

Norway is the newest country to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

New Yorkers Support Gov. Paterson's Marriage Announcement

A poll released today by Quinnipiac University revealed that a majority of New York voters (53%-40%) support Governor Paterson's announcement that NYS agencies would treat out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples as fully valid in New York.

The poll results are pretty consistent with polling that we've done on the issue for the past few years--most recently our poll (conducted by Global Strategy Group) showed that 56% of New York voters support recognizing marriages that were legally performed out of state.

What's also interesting--and important--to note from this poll is that Paterson's overall approval rating went up during the period of time that the announcement was made. This shows pretty clearly that elected officials in New York, even at the highest levels, can be openly (and strongly) in favor of marriage equality and still be popular among voters.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To sue, or not to sue?

Yesterday, a coalition of gay rights organizations released a joint advisory about what same-sex couples should do now that marriage has been won in California. The coalition includes the ACLU, GLAD, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Equality Federation (of which the Pride Agenda is a member), Freedom to Marry, GLAAD, HRC, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The advisory tackles the question of whether same-sex couples everywhere should sue their employers, states and the federal government for the same rights that have been won in California. The answer is no.

Although some lawsuits could potentially have good results in some states, they have almost no chance of winning in states with more conservative records and less public support for gay rights. And unfortunately, just like the decision in California sets a great legal precedent for the future, the opposite can also be true: rulings in other states against marriage for same-sex couples will set back justice for years to come. The negative momentum created by just a few bad decisions would slow down justice even in states that are close to marriage equality, like New York.

In the legal world, it’s very difficult to overturn a court case once such a precedent has been set. And nowhere does this hold truer than on a federal level, so if a challenge to the federal DOMA were to reach the Supreme Court and be overruled, it would make the fight for marriage equality all the more difficult for years and potentially decades to come. In addition, it makes more sense to win marriage through legislation than through the courts, since the law can’t be struck down as easily.

So what can same-sex couples do to win marriage? Couples that have already been married in places where it is legal should continue to be vocal about their marriages so that their neighbors, coworkers and community can see that lesbian and gay marriages are no different than their own. Same-sex couples can be active in asking their towns to establish domestic partnership registries and asking their employers for partner benefits. But hold off on hiring a lawyer, for now. By picking their battles where they know they can win, same-sex marriage activists will have a much better chance of winning equality and justice in both New York and beyond.

Morning Sweep

Former Pride Agenda Board Chair Jeff Soref is quoted in Jonathan Capehart’s column discussing why choosing Sam Nunn for VP would be devastating to Obama in maintaining his base of LGBT voters. Nunn, a Democratic Senator from Georgia who served for 24 years, was one of the leading opponents of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces in 1993 when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was passed.

Why a Democratic presidential nominee may be reluctant to make “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” a priority.

An openly-gay Medgar Evers College student commenced among many cheers after facing years of harassment for his sexual orientation and activism in LGBT student issues on campus.

Activists, corporations will be honored today by the Westchester County LGBT Advisory Board.

LGBT advocacy groups released a memo advising gay couples who marry in Ca. to refrain from filing lawsuits to gain legal recognition in their home states.

How bad can homophobia in the doctor’s office be for LGBT patients?

Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva stands up for LGBT rights, calling homophobia “perverse.”
Human Rights Watch calls on Gambian President Yahya Jammed to disavow his statements encouraging violence against gay people.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Morning Sweep

USA Today quotes Pride Agenda E.D. Alan Van Capelle in story about poll results on marriage equality for same-gender couples.

Liz Benjamin has the latest on the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club’s endorsements.

Charges dropped against a gay couple who protested peacefully after being denied a marriage license in Oyster Bay, Long Island.

Albany Times Union blog: much ado about basic rights in State politics.

The New York Times reports same-gender couples resolved relationship conflict easier than opposite-gender couples.

Do most Californian’s support marriage equality? Byron Williams says it depends both on who you ask and how you ask.

Pride-goers statewide are singing Gov. Paterson praises.

The Los Angeles Times gets it wrong on McCain’s centrist views, reports Media Matters.

Sen. Obama reaches out to Sen. Clinton’s LGBT supporters and pledges to advocate for LGBT rights.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Morning Sweep

The Gay and Lesbian Times mentions the Pride Agenda in its round-up of NYS same-sex marriage news.

Overcoming a long past of social stigma -- and a homophobic mayor -- LGBT communities thrive in Buffalo.

Buffalo News Op-Ed makes a classical case for equal rights.

The Albany Times Union celebrates the 25th anniversary of Waterworks, a historic landmark for local LGBT residents.

The first openly gay Anglican bishop Rev. Gene Robinson joins his partner of 20 years in a New Hampshire civil union.

The Episcopal Diocese of Albany wants to clear-up any confusion given recent events: it will only recognize straight marriages.

Attorneys general from 10 states signed-on to the Alliance Defense Fund’s petition to block Ca. marriages. The Christian conservative Defense Fund also sought an injunction against Gov. Paterson’s directive on marriage recognition for same-sex couples. Some gay couples will delay their weddings until after residents decide on a November ballot initiative whether they want marriage equality.

The University of California at Santa Cruz approves additional $75,000 to transgender student health insurance coverage.

The New York City Opera will commission a work inspired by Brokeback Mountain.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Morning Sweep

Gay City News quotes Pride Agenda E.D. Alan Van Capelle in an article talking about the State Senate and what it will take to move LGBT equality forward in that chamber. The front page pictures Assemblyman José Peralta and Pride Agenda staff this week.

Putnam County in the Hudson Valley moves ahead with a domestic partnership registry, which would enable straight and same-sex couples to document their relationships for employers and for other purposes. The Journal News article also quotes Ross Levi, the Pride Agenda’s director of public policy.

Gay couples whose marriages were conducted in Canada and are being recognized in here in New York will celebrate the five-year anniversary of Canada marrying same-sex couples with a rally at New York City Hall.

Despite statewide progress for our issues, the Albany Times Union finds that being young and gay is still tough for many.

Residents from Riverhead in Suffolk County and Republican State Senator Ken LaValle respond to Gov. Paterson’s decision to have state agencies respect legal out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples. Riverhead's newspaper, the News-Review says, "The time has come" to legalize marriage for same-sex couples in New York.

Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan will host a flag raising ceremony in honor of LGBTQ pride month.

After clinching the Democratic nomination, presidential hopeful Barack Obama will call on LGBT voter support.

Irish assembly member suggests psychiatric treatment for gay folks.

Bill O’Reilly wins an award for defaming LGBT Americans.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Morning Sweep

Newsday quotes Pride Agenda E.D. Alan Van Capelle’s denouncement of the latest challenge facing Gov. Paterson’s same-sex marriage directive.

Vineland, NJ Mayor-elect cites busy schedule for not conducting civil unions.

Transgender pride kicks off in New England with a rally and a conference seeking to educate and empower trans youth.

NY Congressman Jerrold Nadler will co-chair new LGBT Congressional Caucus.

Gay marriages are still on as scheduled in Ca. -- or maybe earlier -- despite opposition.

A San Francisco Chronicle column outlines the legal effects of marriage for Ca. gay couples.

Former Georgia senator Sam Nunn says the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy -- the law he helped pass 13 years ago -- should be reviewed by government.

Homophobia from Poland’s Civil Platform party continues to mar the nation’s reputation in the EU.

The Greek mayor that conducted the country’s first same-sex marriage yesterday was arrested and could face a five-year sentence for defying the prime justice’s ban on gay marriage

Gay rights activists arrested and jailed in Uganda after peaceful protest.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Scenes from the Gallery of the NYS Assembly during the GENDA vote

We were in the Gallery yesterday afternoon to watch the debate and vote on the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and took a few pictures. Several of New York’s leading transgender activists, who have worked hard to pass GENDA, were also there as was Housing Works, who co-facilitates the GENDA Coalition with us.

Melissa Sklarz confers with Bali White.

Rev. Duane Motley (green suit looking at me while I take this picture), who is the Christian right’s voice in Albany, takes a seat among all of us with three of his colleagues. Not surprisingly, Motley’s organization’s is opposed to our entire legislative agenda. We do seem to always meet this way in the Assembly Gallery. We will be working hard to stage several more re-unions in the near future in the Senate Gallery.

GENDA comes up on the boards for the debate.

Listening to some of the more inscrutable things that can sometimes be said during floor debate.

Melissa Sklarz and Moonhawk River Stone look out over the Assembly chamber moments after GENDA passes by a vote of 102-33.

Celebrating the passage of GENDA in the Gallery are: the Pride Agenda’s Jacob Lieberman, Housing Works’ Bali White, Melissa Sklarz from Manhattan, Moonhawk River Stone from the Capital Region and JoAnn Prinzivalli from Westchester County.

Morning Sweep

After the New York State Assembly passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) yesterday, The Gay City News chronicles the long battle that led up to the victory and the players that ushered in the bill’s success.

Queerty and Good As You add their two cents on GENDA’s passage.

The Buffalo News editorial board imparts a lesson from Gov. Paterson’s childhood—and a quote from Pride Agenda E.D. Alan Van Capelle—as it backs his commitment to LGBT equality.

The New York Times reports five state lawmakers, supported by an out-of-state conservative Christian group, are seeking an injunction against Gov. Paterson’s same-sex marriage directive. The religious group made an unsuccessful attempt to block recognition for gay marriages earlier this year. The article also mentions GENDA passing the Assembly.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that six in ten Americans don’t think the government should have a say in same-sex marriage.

Maryland transgender rights bill could be stifled by a November referendum.

McCain promises he will fight same-sex marriages from the campaign trail.

Jay Leno and a few other A-list celebs will come out to support gay marriage at a West Hollywood celebration.

The first civil union is officiated in Canberra, Australia after the Labor Party settles for a equality-light bill. Local gay rights group promise to fight on.

Turkish court decides to ban gay civil rights organization for no good reason.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Assembly passes GENDA: vote tally

In a bipartisan vote of 108-34, the New York State Assembly just voted to end discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment, credit and other areas of everyday life. The legislation adds "gender expression and identity" to the state's Human Rights Laws. This is a big victory for the thousands of transgender New Yorkers who for years have lived in fear of being fired from their jobs or kicked out of their homes simply for who they are.

The bill has strong support from Governor Paterson, so now it's all up to the New York State Senate.

Below is an official tally of who voted for/against GENDA in the Assembly today (click here if you don't know your Assemblymember).

(italics denote Republicans)

Abbate: No
Alessi: Yes
Alfano: Yes
Amedore: No
Arroyo: Yes
Aubry: Yes
Bacalles: No
Ball: No
Barclay: No
Barra: Yes
Benedetto: Yes
Benjamin: No
Bing: Yes
Boyland: Yes
Boyle: Yes
Bradley: Yes
Brennan: Yes
Brodsky: Yes
Brook-Krasny: Yes
Burling: No
Butler: No
Cahill: Yes
Calhoun: No
Camara: No
Canestrari: Yes
Carrozza: Yes
Christiansen: Yes
Clark: Yes
Cole: No
Colton: Yes
Conte: Yes
Cook: Yes
Crouch: Yes
Cusick: No
Cymbrowitz: Yes
DelMonte: Yes
Destito: Yes
Diaz, L.: Yes
Diaz, R.: Yes
Dinowitz: Yes
Duprey: Yes
Eddington: Yes
Englebright: Yes
Errigo: No
Espaillat: Yes
Farrell: Yes
Fields: Yes
Finch: No
Fitzpatrick: No
Gabryszak: Yes
Galef: Yes
Gantt: No
Gianaris: Yes
Giglio: No
Glick: Yes
Gordon, T: Yes
Gottfried: Yes
Greene: Yes
Gunther: Yes
Hawley: No
Hayes: No
Heastie: Yes
Hevesi: Yes
Hikind: No
Hooper: Yes
Hoyt: Yes
Hyer-Spencer: Yes
Jacobs: Yes
Jaffee: Yes
Jeffries: Yes
John: Yes
Kavanagh: Yes
Kellner: Yes
Kirwan: No
Kolb: Abs
Koon: Yes
Lafayette: Yes
Lancman: Yes
Latimer: Yes
Lavine: Yes
Lentol: Yes
Lifton: Abs
Lopez, P: No
Lopez, V: Abs
Lupardo: Yes
Magee: Yes
Magnarelli: Yes
Maisel: Yes
Markey: Yes
Mayersohn: Yes
McDonald: Yes
McDonough: Yes
McEneny: Yes
McKevitt: Yes
Miller: Yes
Millman: Yes
Molinaro: No
Morelle: Yes
Nolan: Abs
Oaks: No
O'Donnell: Yes
O'Mara: No
Ortiz: Yes
Parment: Yes
Paulin: Yes
Peoples: Yes
Peralta: Yes
Perry: Yes
Pheffer: Yes
Powell: Yes
Pretlow: Yes
Quinn: No
Rabbitt: No
Raia: No
Ramos: Yes
Reilich: No
Reilly: Yes
Rivera, J: Yes
Rivera, N: Yes
Rivera, P: Yes
Robinson: Abs
Rosenthal: Yes
Saladino: No
Sayward: Yes
Scarborough: Abs
Schimel: Yes
Schimminger: No
Schroeder: Yes
Scozzafava: Yes
Seminerio: Yes
Silver: Yes
Spano: Yes
Stirpe: Yes
Sweeney: Yes
Tedisco: No
Thiele: Yes
Titone: Yes
Titus: Yes
Tobacco: No
Towns: Yes
Townsend: No
Walker: Yes
Weinstein: Yes
Weisenberg: Yes
Weprin: Yes
Wright: Yes
Young: Yes
Zebrowski: Yes

Morning Sweep

A ballot initiative that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and thus, overturn the recent Supreme Court decision, is approved in California.

An Ithaca Journal columnist suggests Gov. Paterson’s early support of same-sex marriage may subject his administration to attacks down the road.

Stonewall Dems VP, Madeline Davis, pens a poignant Op-Ed for marriage equality.

Sen. John McCain campaigns with singer who likens same-sex marriage to incest.

Recent report says Ca. gay weddings will bring in big bucks to state’s economy.

On the island of Tilos, Greece, a mayor fights legal officials and the Roman Catholic Church to wed a gay couple. Same-sex partners were excluded from a recent plan to create civil partnerships in the country.

Monday, June 2, 2008

LGBT Pride in Queens

On Sunday, June 1, Pride Agenda staff and supporters took to the streets of Jackson Heights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride in Queens. Our group marched down 37th Avenue with Assemblymember (and this year’s Queens Pride Parade Grand Marshal) Jose Peralta, City Council Member David Yassky, and City Council Member John Liu.

The Queens Pride Parade offered an occasion to show our appreciation for Gov. Paterson and his committment to equal rights for all New Yorkers.

Members of Pride Agenda's Offsprung! group joined the march.

Supporters held placards that raised awareness for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and the Dignity for All Student Act prohibiting bullying against youth in our public schools.

Thanks to everyone who joined the Pride Agenda at the LGBT Pride Parade in Queens!

Recent reactions to the Gov.’s same-sex marriage action

Since the news broke on Thursday, the media has not only reported but reacted to Gov. Paterson’s directive to state agencies to respect all legal out of state same-sex marriages. Here’s what they’ve been saying:

The New York Times reports efforts to block Paterson’s marriage directive, including a lawsuit from Arizona’s Alliance Defense Fund and possible action from Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Harlem residents have mixed reactions to the news of Paterson’s support for same-sex marriage.

In Newsday, a Republican source says Paterson has dug a hole for Democrats in the next election, while a Democrat source says he admires the Gov’s foresight.

Future political implications aside, Newsday also reports that there isn’t much same-sex marriage foes can do at this point to block Paterson’s directive.

The Daily News and the Post think the Gov jumped the gun, and he should wait for the legislature to take action. Hey, Daily News and Post, pop quiz: how many branches of government are there? (Hint: more than one!)

A Journal News editorial congratulates Paterson for taking action where Bruno and the Senate have been stalling.

And the Ithaca Journal says there’s an easy way to end all this squabbling: the Senate just needs to pass the marriage equality bill!

The Albany Times Union criticizes Paterson for not doing enough as Gov. so far, and says his marriage directive has created more hostility between him and the legislature.

Republican Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, a supporter of the LGBT community, says it’s only fair to recognize out of state same sex marriages as legal in NY.

The Legislative Gazette and Poughkeepsie Journal (Gannett) has reactions from both sides of the issue.

Pride festivals in the Hudson Valley were reenergized by the excitement of Paterson’s support for the community.

Family Court access bill is back in the news

We’re glad to see the NYT editorialize today about the long overdue need to fix New York’s behind-the-times Family Court system. In its editorial, the paper said:
"The Legislature should also fix a serious gap in the law: the inability of people in serious relationships with no children in common to obtain orders of protection in Family Court. Most states allow such orders, which are critical for public safety.

But the Republican-controlled State Senate has blocked them for years largely out of reluctance to treat same-sex couples as 'family.'"
We talked to you about this issue in April and want to emphasize again for the record where New York stands in relationship to other states on how our Family Court system treats same-sex domestic partners.

We’re among the last three of four states in the country where same-sex domestic partners who don’t share children are given no standing in Family Court. And we should also say just about the same holds true here in New York for opposite-sex domestic partners who don’t share children. Yes that’s right – New York is that regressive when it comes to this.

There is simply no good reason why we should continue to lag behind states like Mississippi and Alabama when it comes to who is deemed to be “family” in Family Court.

This year, for a change, there is actually a Senate Republican sponsor of a bill aimed at putting an end to this. But will the State Senate do what the Assembly has already done and pass the bill?

We’ll find out in just a few weeks.

Morning Sweep

Gas prices, property taxes, and deficits, oh my! These and others are the hot-button issues in Albany as the end of the legislative session nears.

Citing religious beliefs and freedom of expression, Harlem residents have mixed feelings about their native son, Gov. Paterson’s, gay marriage directive.

Reactions to the Ca. marriage decision from the Lone Star State, where a constitutional amendment was passed in 2005 declaring marriage a union between a man and a woman. Short-term solution: gay Texans travel to California to wed.

In Wisconsin, a political science professor loses a lawsuit to strike down state ban prohibiting not only gay marriage but also civil unions for all residents.

Will Barack Obama stand up for marriage equality?

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter extends legal protections to LGBT residents.

Alameda County, Ca. activist would be the first known transgender Supreme Court judge in the nation.

No rest for the weary as Moscow’s mayor, police and Orthodox Church squash LGBT rights demonstration.