The 23rd National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change officially gets underway tomorrow in Minneapolis and it’s already garnering terrific media coverage.
Here’s an Associated Press story, which has been published widely in outlets such as the Washington Post, NPR and countless others. Also, check out these stories in the MinnPost and Lavender Magazine.
A Texas appeals court ruled Friday that state attorney general Greg Abbott cannot block the divorce of two women who married out-of-state.
The two women, Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly, were married in Massachusetts in 2004 but returned to Texas, where same-sex marriage is banned under a constitutional amendment passed in 2005. A district judge granted the couple a divorce in 2009, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
“This case … is not a suit to declare a statute unconstitutional or enjoin its enforcement, but a private divorce proceeding involving issues of property division and child custody,” the appellate court ruled in an opinion written by Justice Diane Henson.
Of the ruling, a spokeswoman for the attorney general said in a statement, “The Texas Constitution and statutes are clear: only the union of a man and a woman can be treated as a marriage in Texas. The court’s decision undermines unambiguous Texas law.”
Read the article here.
With just a couple of weeks to go in 2010, the time seems ripe to list the big legal issues I expect to be following during the next year – along with some predictions.
- Wither the Prop 8 litigation? Unless the case is tossed out for lack of standing (which I doubt), Perry v. Schwarzenegger likely won’t get resolved by the end of 2011. But there will be at least one, and maybe two, appellate decisions (by the Ninth Circuit panel that heard the case last week and perhaps by the court sitting en banc) and endless analysis and commentary from every point along the legal and political spectrum.
Prediction: The appellate court will side with Judge Walker’s decision, finding Prop 8 unconstitutional. The case will inch closer to the Supreme Court.
- DADT won’t get repealed this year (please, let me be wrong!). Obama’s Justice Department won’t drop the appeal, nor will the Conciliator in Chief issue an Executive Order that would at least temporarily end the policy. But discharges – already rare under Obama – will diminish down to almost zero, thereby paving the way for eventual repeal (in about 2017).
- Apart from the Prop 8 case, marriage equality will plod along. Maryland will pass an equality bill, and New Hampshire in the end won’t repeal its equality legislation. Hawaii will join Illinois in passing a civil union bill. As the percentage of citizens in states with civil union or marriage equality laws crosses the 30% threshold, public opinion will continue to swell in our favor – not just for civil unions, but for full equality. (Obama, however, will not move toward support for marriage equality, content to sit comfortably behind the curve.)
- Bullying of LGBT youth will continue to command political and legal space. Several states will strengthen their anti-bullying laws, thereby calling to account not just the kids who bully, but also the authorities allowing this shameful treatment to continue. Yet law will continue to have limited effect in this area; advocates and the kids themselves will play the larger part in reducing the violence. Glee will have limited impact on the situation.
- The battle over the accommodations between LGBT rights and religious liberties will intensify. Radical right Christians (or “Christianists,” a term that I prefer to describe this subset of Christians) will continue to press – mostly unsuccessfully – for broad exemptions from any anti-discrimination or pro-equality laws that are enacted. Their failure to enact their prejudices into law will feed their narrative of victimization. (I will be addressing this issue soon.)
- The public health benefits of the health care reform law will begin to become evident, even as the legislation’s promise enters a kind of judicial limbo, waiting on an ultimate ruling by the Supreme Court on whether the pay-or-be-fined mandate is constitutional. (Yes, health care reform is LGBT rights law, as the most marginalized and ostracized members of our community stand the most to gain.)
Prediction: Unless there’s a change in the make-up of the Supreme Court, the mandate will likely be struck down, 5-4 for the complex constitutional reason that the Justices…don’t like it.
- No prediction here, but an important story nonetheless: The assault on judicial independence begun by NOM and its supporters in Iowa is extremely troubling. (As you’ll recall, the Iowa Supreme Court had committed the unpardonable sin of interpreting the state’s constitution to require marriage equality; the decision was unanimous.) Whether or not the suit challenging the ouster of three of the seven justices is successful, NOM’s despicable tactic is a shot across the bow, intended to frighten judges in other states from doing their constitutional duties. It won’t work.
- The Ugandan Parliament will not end up passing any version of their unspeakable “kill the gays” bill, but the connection between American fundamentalists and their Ugandan counterparts will continue to be exposed.
- [This space reserved for unforeseeable legal issue.]
Although I’ll probably have another column or two in this space before year’s end, this seems like a good place to pause and thank all the readers – those who comment and those who don’t, and whether you usually agree with me or not – for making this column a part of my weekly routine that I approach with great zeal and enthusiasm.
And thanks to Jay Vanasco for reaching out to me in the first place. As they used to say in the comix I read as a kid: Excelsior!
John Culhane is Professor of Law and Director of the Health Law Institute at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Del. He blogs about the role of law in everyday life, and about a bunch of other things at: http://wordinedgewise.org. He is the editor of and contributor to a just-released book, Reconsidering Law and Policy Debates: A Public Health Perspective, now available on Amazon. His chapter is on marriage equality.
Media Matters is launching a new division of its organization devoted to LGBT equality called ‘Equality Matters’ which will be run by former Clinton adviser Richard Socarides (pictured) and edited by Advocate reporter Kerry Eleveld, who is leaving that publication in January, the NYT reports:
While a range of groups are working to advance gay rights, the movement has lacked a national rapid-response war room of the sort that can push back against homophobic messages in the media and the political arena and keep the pressure on elected officials, said David Mixner, a gay author and activist.
“I think the lesson we have learned over the last two years is that you’ve got to be tough,” Mr. Mixner said, “and you’ve got to keep people’s feet to the fire.”
The organizers of Equality Matters say that is their intent. Mr. Socarides and the founder of Media Matters, David Brock, said they began planning Equality Matters several months ago. They quickly persuaded Ms. Eleveld, who covered the Obama campaign and has covered Washington for the last two years, to join them.
“I’ve spent the past two years with a front-row seat to history, and the longer I sat there the more I felt drawn to participating,” Ms. Eleveld said in an interview.
Mr. Brock, a former conservative journalist who is gay — and who broke with the right in the 1990s — has lately been expanding the Media Matters organization. He said in an interview that he had raised $23 million in the last year for the group, which has an operating budget of $13 million. His backers include George Soros, the liberal donor; the Hollywood producer Steve Bing; and gay philanthropists like James Hormel, an ambassador to Luxembourg under Mr. Clinton.
The group’s website, EqualityMatters.org, will go live Monday morning.
DADT WAS SUCCESSFULLY REPEALED TODAY, NEXT UP - DOMA!!
You’ve probably already seen this, but if not, you definitely should.
It’s a McDonalds commercial from France that shows equality in a pretty interesting way. I thought about this when I saw that ad you posted.
Tracy Baim’s new book Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage, released October 1, is an in-depth look at the career of President Barack Obama and his views about gay-related issues, starting when he ran for Illinois senate in 1996 and ending mid-way through his term as president. It extensively covers Obama’s record on gay and AIDS issues, including detailed quotes from his speeches, photos at gay events, and answers to surveys early in his career.
I’m proud to have contributed a chapter to the book– about the intersection of Obama’s election and simultaneous passage of Prop. 8. I’m joined by some of the most respected LGBT journalists, bloggers, and activists from around the US, including Lisa Keen, John D’Emilio, Kerry Eleveld and Pam Spaulding.
No matter what your opinion about our Commander-in-Chief, I highly recommend taking a look.
You can buy the book here on Amazon.
Click the link above to read more.
It’s said that love has no boundaries.
Except, apparently, same-sex love between bi-national couples.
Inger Knudson, a 42-year-old single mom working as a legal assistant in Denver, met a British woman online two years ago. They started e-mailing, then text messaging, then chatting by phone and Web cam. They fell in love when Philippa came to visit. When she visited again, they started talking about a future.
Knudson and her daughter made their first trip to the United Kingdom last year. On an old bridge in her sweetheart’s village, Knudson got down on bended knee and proposed. Months later, they scraped together enough money to fly Philippa back to the U.S. for a commitment ceremony on Lookout Mountain. Then Philippa had to leave the country before her visa ran out.
If half of the pair had been the opposite sex, it would have been easy to get a green card to live happily ever after, together, end of story.
Instead, they’re separated by 5,000 miles and a seven-hour time warp because the U.S. government doesn’t recognize same-sex relationships. Moving to the U.K. isn’t an option given that Knudson’s daughter has a father living here.
"We have a law that’s extremely cruel. . . . It’s tearing families apart," says Lavi Soloway, a lawyer specializing in such cases.
Soloway is working to end double standards in immigration policies, estate taxes and survivor benefits caused by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Activists also are pressing the feds to use discretion in deporting the partners of gay and lesbian Americans. At least 19 other countries grant immigration rights for the same-sex spouses of their citizens.
"I always assumed as an American that my government would never take away my loved one, my spouse, and send him away," says Josh Vandiver, a La Junta native and Princeton doctoral candidate married to a Venezuelan man facing deportation.
Philippa, meanwhile, was detained last summer by immigration officials at Denver International Airport — questioning her six visits in two years and figuring that she might overstay her visa. She asks that her last name not be used for fear that her next encounter with Homeland Security might be more complicated.
"I hate the fact that we have to be so cloak and dagger about this. I don’t want any special rights at all. All I want is to live with my family," says Philippa, 33.
Via Skype, she helps do homework with the 10-year-old who calls her “Mum.” Knudson mails her worn nightshirts for Philippa to smell and remember.
People ask why they do it, pressing on with such a tough relationship. You can choose what you eat or wear, they answer. You don’t choose who you fall in love with.
Ours is a nation that supposedly values family.
It’s also a country whose policies dictate what a family is and isn’t — and dictate which ones are allowed to be together.
Mail-order brides snag visas no questions asked, sanctioned merely by their heterosexuality. Yet our borders are closed to educated lesbians like Philippa, presumably because she and her partner don’t need to be together like straight folks.
"We don’t want to keep doing this, shaking our fists at the sky wanting the world to be fairer than it is," Knudson says. "But we will, we will for as long as it takes to be together."
Susan Greene writes Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Reach her at 303-954-1989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Darlene Bogle
I arrived about 7 pm, was picked up by an Equality Rider and ushered off to the SoulForce life rally at Love Park in downtown Philly. The last ten hours on the plane had been filled with fine tuning my workshop on “Living your truth” and sharing your story with a sometimes hostile world.
This weekend was dedicated to telling the truth about Faith, Science, Love and Reparative Therapy. Many nationally known leaders were joining together to share their insights.
As the former director of an Exodus ministry, I have been speaking out for several years on the harm that such groups as Exodus and Narth do with their message and promise to “fix the broken and hurting people who are sent to them for help.” I had been proclaiming that same message for over ten years. I was the assistant pastor of a Foursquare Church, and a national speaker for Exodus.
That was another lifetime ago, and now I am committed to telling the truth about Reparative Therapy. “It doesn’t work” and more importantly, the harm that is done to individuals who are told there is something wrong with them for having a homosexual orientation, is toxic and leads to emotional, spiritual and physical suicide. I came to reinforce the message of God’s unconditional love for all His children and tell a message of being created just as we are, by God’s design.
Something happened to me in Love Park on Friday night. I was listening to stories of young people committed to speaking out for their “right to be” and I was changed. I listened to Ray Boltz sing his new song of “Who would Jesus love.”…and I was changed. I listened to Azariah Southworth read emails from youth who identified with his struggle, and thank him for coming out—and tears streamed down my cheeks. People, God’s people, rejected for who they are, are finding a voice! They are finding that truth does in fact set us free!
Saturday brought more listening opportunities. Jay Bakker, a straight preacher from New York reminded us that no one can afford to keep silent in this battle for the lives of the youth of the LGBT community. (and for our faith as gay Christians) Silence breeds violence and we have lost too many youth because we have not spoken out to provide a safe place.
I listened not only to the presenters at the SoulForce Symposium…but to the stories of why people gave up a weekend to seek answers for their journey, or to find out what the truth is and how they can heal from the harmful rejection by their families and faith families. As I listened, I was overwhelmed by the awareness that no matter how valid the truth that we share this weekend, it is going to take many more people speaking out to confront the harm that continues to be inflicted by Narth and Exodus.
I listened to the stories from a Transsexual who has been cut off from family and friends; a bi-sexual who is minimized and almost invisible because she has no official “place” to declare her sexuality; a gay married man who loves his wife, but longs for the freedom to embrace a man. I listened and realized I am just one of many scratching the surface of equality for all!
I was changed by this symposium, because I thought I was coming to share answers, and left knowing there are many more questions with no answers. The message I share is that God loves you as you are created, even if you have no faith at all, and you are accepted by many who have grown to know that God is larger than any box we use to contain our understanding of truth.
I listened. I spoke. I wept. But most of all my changing understanding is not limited. The truth is…God is still speaking and we must speak out when words are spoken that are not consistent with God’s nature. Who would Jesus Love? Everyone!
Darlene Bogle is a former leader in Exodus International and directed an ex-gay ministry in Hayward, California in the 1980’s and early l990’s where she was an assistant pastor in a Foursquare Church. Her story is featured in the documentary, God and GaysBridging the Gap and she has traveled throughout the country to promote reconciliation between faith and sexual orientation. Her book, A Christian Lesbian Journey was published in Feb. 2007.
Gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who won re-election last week in one of his toughest challenges, said LGBT legislation would have no chance of passing in Congress under the Republican-controlled House next year.
In an interview Tuesday with the Washington Blade, Frank also said he was confident that the Senate, of which Democrats retained control, would join President Obama in blocking any anti-gay bills that conservative Republicans might introduce over the next two years.
“Next year there’s no chance of anything happening,” he said of pro-LGBT legislation. “There’s zero chance.”
He added, “It will be a status quo. They don’t have the votes to hurt us but we don’t have the votes to advance anything in the cause.”
Frank also said he was certain that Republicans would fail in an attempt to overturn D.C.’s same-sex marriage law.
“Do you think Barack Obama is going to sign a bill to repeal the D.C. marriage law,” he asked. “It won’t go through the Senate. There is no chance that could happen. None—zero.”
Frank noted that only five out of 179 House Republicans voted earlier this year to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“The Republicans have become much more anti-gay in their voting patterns,” he said. “There is zero chance of anything good happening with Republicans in control of the House.”
Frank said he was hopeful that the Senate would vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the congressional lame duck session over the next two weeks. The House passed a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal measure earlier this year as part of a defense authorization bill.
The Senate killed a similar defense authorization bill containing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language in a filibuster organized by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Every Senate Republican voted against a cloture motion to break the filibuster.
Frank noted that a number of GOP senators cited the Senate bill’s inclusion of a controversial immigration provision known as the DREAM Act as their reason for voting against the bill, saying they otherwise would have supported repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
He said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told him he won’t insert the DREAM Act immigration language in the defense authorization bill when he brings it to the Senate floor in the lame duck session.
With the immigration language removed as an “excuse,” Frank said he’s hopeful that Republican senators who support repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will now join Democrats in supporting the overall defense bill to which repeal language will be attached. Among the GOP senators that repeal advocates hope will back the bill this time are Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snow, both from Maine.
In one of his first comments on a campaign ad by the conservative gay Republican group GOProud opposing him in his re-election race, Frank said the ad had little or no impact on the election.
He noted that his GOP opponent, Sean Bielat, opposes repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and is against “every other gay issue.”
“So I have no idea who these people are,” he said of the GOProud group. “And they have no influence whatsoever. The LGBT community in my district continues to be virtually unanimously supportive.”
Click the link above to view the transcript of the Blade’s interview with Rep. Frank, conducted on Nov. 8.
Immigration Equality is a national organization fighting for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive individuals.
Founded in 1994 as the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, we have grown to a membership of 10,000 people in cities all over the country. We are run by a Board of Directors and have full-time staff in our National Headquarters in New York. Immigration Equality is funded by donations from our members as well as generous support from private foundations.
The Give a Damn Campaign is for everybody who cares about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.
But, it’s especially for all you straight people out there! Whether you’re already an active supporter, want to show your support for the first time, or hadn’t given equality a lot of thought before and now want to learn more, we are here to help you get informed about the issues and get involved, at a pace that works for you.
You’ll find a lot of useful information throughout this site—information that’ll engage you, surprise you and move you. You will also find a bunch of ways to get involved and show your support and encourage your straight peers to show theirs as well.
For all you gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks—we need and want you here, too! Because this site is also for you. Not only will you learn new things that might surprise and interest you, you’ll also find a lot of useful tools and resources that will help you encourage the straight people in your life to give a damn.
Like we said, the Give a Damn Campaign is for everyone. Because the only way we can truly achieve equality for all is if we all get informed and get involved. So join us today and let us know you give a damn!
HOW TO USE GIVE A DAMN
There’s a lot to see and do on this site, and you really can’t go wrong starting anywhere… but we suggest you begin by reviewing the damn issues. Then move onto the damn videos and personal stories sections. When you’re done there, jump on over to the damn blog (it’s updated throughout each day). We also urge you to download some damn stuff.
Whatever you read, see or find here that you think is interesting, share it with the people in your life! We have made it easy to do, from using our tell-a-friend feature to being able to post to your social networking pages, like Twitter and Facebook.
But the easiest thing you can do is take 30 seconds to join the campaign. It’ll let us personalize the site for you and keep you updated on the latest news and ways to get involved, through things like our monthly e-newsletter.
The Give a Damn Campaign is the place to stay informed and stay involved about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. So be sure to visit us often—in fact, bookmark us right now—because we’re going to have new stuff on here all the time.
So go ahead: Get Informed. Get Involved. Give a Damn!