Friday, February 26, 2010

Morning Sweep

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and military leaders said yesterday that they want Congress to hold off on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" until a yearlong review is completed.

Same-sex couples in Maryland and LGBT advocates are applauding Attorney General Doug Gansler's opinion on the recognition of marriages for lesbian and gay couples that are performed in other jurisdictions.

The Dallas transit agency is under fire after its attorneys intervened in family court to challenge a gender-marker change granted to an employee.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

NYS Legislature Provides Medical Decision Making Authority to Same-Sex Partners

After being stalled in the Legislature for 17 years, the New York State Senate has finally joined the Assembly in passing the Family Health Care Decisions Act that enables a loved one to made health care decisions when the patient is not able to do so. The bill places a same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partner, just like a spouse, ahead of a surviving child or parent in making these decisions. Governor Paterson has said he will sign the bill into law when it is sent to him.

New York has been one of just two states where without a health care proxy, no one—not a domestic partner, spouse, or family member—could make health care decisions when the patient lacked the ability to do so. This gap in state law has sometimes forced loved ones to seek medical decision-making authority from a judge at the very time they should be focusing all their attention on caring for their partner.

Now, loved ones including same-sex spouses who were married out-of-state or fit the domestic partnership definition will have the ability to make these decisions. The domestic partnership definition is expansive, and includes those who may not be able to formally record their relationship because there is no domestic partner registry where they live. The Pride Agenda was instrumental in the redrafting of this domestic partner language to make sure it was uniform with all other domestic partner definitions in state law, such as that found in the hospital visitation bill that became law in 2004 and the control of bodily remains bill that became law in 2006.

Since same-sex couples still do not have the legal right to get married in New York State, the Pride Agenda has worked hard over the past few years to make sure LGBT families have protections in state law covering important end-of-life situations. When the Governor signs this measure into the law, the three most common situations where blood relatives sometimes seek to exclude a LGBT partner—hospital visitation, medical decision-making and the ability to make decisions about the disposition of partner remains—can no longer occur in New York State.

“We thank the Assembly and Assemblymember Gottfried for leading this effort for so many years and are glad the Senate has finally passed this measure and the Governor will be signing it into law,” said Executive Director Alan van Capelle.

Don't Get Mad, Get Even!

The Pride Agenda has launched a campaign to defeat Hiram Monserrate, one of the 38 State Senators who voted no on the marriage equality bill on December 2, 2009. No only did he vote no, but he broke his previous commitment to support marriage equality when it came to the Senate floor for a vote.

Monserrate was convicted last year of assaulting his girlfriend, which led to his recent expulsion from the State Senate. But now he’s running to try to get back into the Senate. Our candidate in the March 16 Special Election is popular Assemblymember Jose Peralta, who has consistently voted in favor of marriage equality, transgender civil rights and other important LGBT issues.

Donate now to our campaign to get rid of Hiram Monserrate:
"Don't Get Mad, Get Even." This is our first chance to replace an anti-LGBT Senator with a strong, pro-LGBT Senator. Every dollar that you contribute will go to making sure this shameful legislator does not return to the State Senate.

If you’re mad about the December 2 marriage vote, now is the time to get even. Join us in taking out Hiram Monserrate and electing Jose Peralta.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Morning Sweep

The Buffalo Common Council is currently examining a plan to expand domestic partner benefits to all city employees. The Council has delayed a scheduled vote on the controversial measure due to financial considerations.

Maryland's Attorney General has released a long-awaited opinion saying same-sex marriages performed in other states could be recognized by Maryland's legal system. The opinion is meant to guide judges and state agencies.

Critics say that a new Congressional bill to prohibit discrimination in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity could stifle free speech and even lead to “homosexual indoctrination." We never realized encouraging tolerance and understanding was so harmful!

Researchers believe that the case for marriage equality and other LGBT causes can be helped if the public gains a greater understanding of the role of genetics in determining sexual orientation.

For the first time in 30 years, a CNN/Time poll shows more Americans don't think homosexuality is morally wrong than do.

A New York Times financial columnist offers tips to lesbian and gay couples who experience a more difficult time when filing their tax returns.

USA Today explores gay life in China, where despite homosexuality being decriminalized, the absence of anti-bias protections, coupled with the push to marry and have a child, has resulted in few LGBT people coming out.

What's up with California beauty queens? Miss Beverly Hills 2010 has declared her opposition to marriage for same-sex couples. We suggest she stays away from West Hollywood...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Morning Sweep

LGBT groups were invited for the first time to participate in Chinatown's annual Lunar New Year parade in NYC on Sunday.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed papers Thursday asking a judge to deem the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional without holding a trial on the lawsuit.

A study to be released tomorrow by the Palm Center finds that speedy transitions to allowing openly lesbian and gay service members in foreign militaries were not disruptive.

An op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star criticizes John McCain for his change of position on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." McCain had previously said he would support the repeal if military officials did, but now that this is the case, he still supports the policy.

Andrew Sullivan had a spirited debate against NOM's Maggie Gallagher at the Cato Institute last week, and the video is here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Morning Sweep

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the city of Newark on behalf of a transgender woman who says she was harassed by police because of her gender identity.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Louisiana must put the names of both fathers on the birth certificate of a child adopted by the same-sex couple.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Join the Pride Agenda at the hottest women's party of the season!

Winter Heat is one of our favorite events at the Pride Agenda. We hope you'll join us at our annual ladies' night!

Winter Heat

WHEN: Wednesday, March 24

7-8 PM Sponsor Admission, 8-11 PM General Admission

WHERE: BLVD Nightclub - 199 Bowery (at Spring Street), New York City

WHAT: Dance your winter worries away! Don't miss the great music provided by DJ Missy B and DJ Trini and complimentary cocktails provided by Belvedere Vodka and beer by Bud Light (cash bar also available).

TICKETS: General tickets $75 in advance, $95 at the door (if available)
Sponsorships starting at $175
$30 under $30 - limited number of tickets for 21-30 with valid ID

Click here or call 212-627-0305 for tickets and more information!

Morning Sweep

As expected, marriage for same-sex couples will remain the law in New Hampshire, after legislators yesterday rejected two bills that would have repealed it.

Newsweek suggests three reasons why more Americans support the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" than marriage equality.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Morning Sweep

A Washington Post columnist urges members of the GOP to follow Cheney's lead and re-examine their stance on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

The San Francisco Chronicle examines Obama's stance on marriage for same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled an April 28 hearing on whether Washington state can release the more than 138,000 names on petitions supporting a domestic partnership referendum. Protect Marriage Washington wants to shield petition-signers' names from public release.

A Wyoming school district is experiencing backlash after its controversial decision to remove "No Place for Hate" signs discouraging bullying and harassment from its schools.

The Wall Street Journal
reports that London's financial district has become a LGBT-friendly work environment.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Morning Sweep

Government officials are saying that the timeline for the internal assessment on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" suggests that an end to the law may be years away.

New Hampshire's state House is expected to vote tomorrow on whether to repeal the state's marriage equality law. The Judiciary Committee is recommending that the House kill that measure as well as a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban marriage equality.

The New York Times exposes anti-gay attitudes in Malawi in the wake of the arrest of a gay couple there, where many of the country's residents have accused foreigners of bringing a "gay agenda."

An Oklahoma man has sued the Oklahoma Tax Commission to get a vanity license plate that says "IM GAY," which they have so far denied him based on a rule against plates that "may be offensive to the general public."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Morning Sweep

Several local politicians will endorse pro-marriage Assemblymember Jose Peralta from Queens for expelled Senator Hiram Monserrate's seat. The Pride Agenda endorsed Peralta in December.

A San Francisco paper interviews Phyllis Lyon, the 85-year-old same-sex marriage trailblazer.

A feature on countries that have successfully allowed lesbian and gay military personnel to serve openly shows that repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would likely have no affect on "cohesion."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Morning Sweep

The State Senate has expelled Sen. Hiram Monserrate, one of the eight Democrats who voted against marriage equality, due to his domestic assault conviction.

The Washington Post
concludes from interviews with enlisted military personnel that there is increased acceptance for lesbian and gay service members.

The San Francisco Chronicle editorializes against claims that Judge Vaughn Walker's sexual orientation will make him biased in the Prop 8 trial.

Iowa Republicans' attempt to force a vote that would put a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in the state failed yesterday.

Anti-marriage legislators also failed in New Hampshire yesterday, where committees recommended against repealing the state's marriage equality law and also recommended killing a proposed constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Morning Sweep

New Jersey's Garden State Equality has said that in order to show that Democrats can't rely on LGBT support without producing results for the community, it will stop donating to political parties. The organization may still back individual candidates.

A New Hampshire House committee will vote today on whether the state's marriage equality law should be repealed. The Judiciary Committee will also vote on whether to support a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.

The Virginia state Senate passed a bill Monday that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the state workforce, but the bill will likely die in the Republican-controlled House.

The three candidates for Governor in Rhode Island have said they would sign a marriage bill if it passed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Morning Sweep

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Saturday that she plans to introduce a budget amendment that would stop funding for the enforcement of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) advocates for the repeal of DADT and applauds Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary Robert Gates on their testimony in favor of a repeal.

New York Times' Frank Rich writes that a general lack of anti-LGBT reaction to the proposed repeal of DADT reflects shifting attitudes.

Another op-ed in the Times argues for the acceptance of openly gay clergy.

This weekend's Creating Change conference in Dallas featured a rousing speech about the progress made thus far by the LGBT community and the work to be done in the year ahead.

Mexico City's new marriage equality law puts the city in the middle of the country's debate on the issue.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Important breakthrough on recognition of transgender sex-change surgery as "medically necessary"

From the Pride Agenda's Program Director Desma Holcomb:

One of the big problems facing transgender people is that society, including the insurance industry, is divided over whether sex-change surgery is "medically necessary" or "cosmetic." One of the spheres where this debate is being played out is the IRS, which had been alleging in a court case that sex-change surgery expenses are not tax deductible because there are "cosmetic" rather than "medically necessary." For example, right now employees cannot use their pre-tax medical account benefit for sex-change surgery expenses, due to this position by the IRS.

This NY Times brief describes an important federal Tax Court decision that supports the transgender plaintiff's assertion that the surgery was medically necessary and overrides the IRS's assertion that it was not.

In addition to its impact on pre-tax medical accounts, this IRS assertion has, up until this Court decision, acted as a rationale for some insurance companies and some self-insuring large corporations to exclude (rather than include) this surgery as a legitimate, covered medical expense.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Morning Sweep

The White House fiscal year 2011 budget has a section focusing specifically on expanding opportunities for the LGBT community, including strengthening anti-discrimination efforts, supporting federal employee domestic partner benefits, and expanding AIDS awareness.

LGBT rights advocates are preparing a lawsuit alleging that the state of Hawaii is violating the equal protection rights of same-sex couples by not passing a civil unions law.

HBO is planning to film a biopic of Anita Bryant, the infamous anti-gay activist.

A British journalist wrote an interesting account of his undercover experiences in anti-gay "conversion" therapy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Morning Sweep

Tomorrow, the first Congressional hearing on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 17 years will be held. Gay rights leaders say they expect an announcement to be made that in the interim before a formal repeal, the Defense Department will stop discharging service members whose sexual orientation is revealed by third parties.

The Washington Post editorializes in favor of repealing DADT and says "It's time for Congress to act."

Slate has an excellent analysis of the legal questions in play in the Prop. 8 trial.