Some fresh marriage equality news out of Minnesota today. The Chief Justice has thrown out a couple of attempted recalls against DFLers who voted for the marriage equality bill. TwinCities.com reports:
On the last day of the legislative session, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court has thrown out recall petitions filed against two DFL House members over their support for legalizing gay marriage. Chief Justice Lorie Gildea on Monday, May 20, dismissed the proposed petitions against Reps. Joe Radinovich of Crosby and John Ward of Baxter “for failure to allege specific facts that, if proven, would constitute grounds for recall.” Minnesota law sets a high bar for recalling elected officials.
Designer Isaac Mizrahi is thrilled that the bill passed. On Top Magazine reports:
During an appearance on HuffPost Live, Mizrahi gave Minnesota a big cheer and said that gay people need to be vocal about their rights. “You do have to be vocal about these things,” he said. “You have to keep talking about it. I am at this point where I’m proud to come out and fight that good fight. I’m not defensive anymore, I’m proactive about it.”
Pink News reports on one that would have allowed registrars opt out of performing same sex weddings:
An amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill tabled by Conservative MP David Burrowes, urging for registrars to be allowed to opt out of performing marriages for gay couples, has been defeated in the House of Commons. MPs voted 340 to 150 to reject the amendment. Those voting with Mr Burrowes included the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes. Mr Burrowes’ amendment stated: “Any duty of a registrar to conduct a marriage is not extended by this Act to marriages of same-sex couples where a registrar holds a conscientious objection to conducting such marriages”.
Current British law makes it illegal to deny goods or services based on sexual orientation.
Pam’s House Blend reports that several amendments were passed:
Friendly amendments passed, including Amendment 23 which “protects ministers of religion employed by secular organisations (eg as hospital or university chaplains) who refuse to carry out same sex marriages from claims being made against them personally under the employment provisions of the Equality Act 2010\0×2033, and Amendment 24 which “requires, rather than (as the Bill does at present) allows, the Lord Chancellor to make an order enabling the Church in Wales to marry same sex couples, if he is satisfied that the Church has resolved to do so,” according to LGBTory.
The Labour Party was successful in fending off an amendment that would have opened civil partnerships to straight couples as part of the marriage equality bill, a measure that had the potential to delay or kill the bill. Instead, the issue was passed in a separate measure:
Considerable debate was dedicated to amendments related to Civil Partnerships. New Clause 16, which commits the Government to undertake a prompt, formal review of Civil Partnerships after same-sex marriage is legalized, passed 391 to 57. New Clause 10, which would have extended Civil Partnerships to opposite-sex couples immediately, was rejected 375 to 70. MPs opposing NC 10 expressed concern that its adoption could delay passage of the bill, or even be used to scuttle it.
The Telegraph has a list of the MPs who voted for the poison pill amendment.
The Dish points out the rank hypocrisy of the marriage equality proponents:
The cynical wrecking amendment has gone down in flames – by 375 votes to 70. It’s a fascinating insight into the opposition to marriage equality on the far right. A conservative – yes, a conservative – was proposing to extend civil partnerships, i.e.e marriage-lite, to heterosexual couples rather than allow gay couples to be married. Such civil partnerships, if extended to everyone, as in France, would do much much more to undermine the institution of civil marriage than allowing gays to participate in the institution. It’s pretty obvious evidence that bigotry was behind this – a betrayal of core conservative principles in order to prevent gay equality.
The debate is exposing rifts in the Conservative Party, as Reuters reports:
Almost 40 percent of Cameron’s 303 lawmakers in the lower house of parliament voted for an ultimately unsuccessful amendment that would have allowed registrars to refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies if they objected. Scores backed another amendment that the government said would have sabotaged its efforts to legalize same sex unions. Cameron’s failure to unite his ruling Conservative Party over gay marriage and over his other major policy – renegotiating Britain’s membership of the European Union – risks undermining his chances of being re-elected in 2015 even as the economy is showing signs of returning to growth.
Seeing Cameron stand for marriage equality even at his own political peril is inspiring.
Outside, a group of Christians prayed for the failure of the bill. Joe.My.God reports.
There will be more debate tomorrow, and then the bill should get its third and final reading, The Bilerico Project reports:
But today, members struck a deal allowing the equal marriage bill to proceed. Debate is scheduled for today and tomorrow (watch it live here), and the bill’s third reading — its last procedural hurdle in the House of Commons — will happen tomorrow as well.
Marriage equality advocates are saying they have the votes needed to pass the bill in the House. Towleroad reports:
Advocates for marriage equality in Illinois believe they have the votes to pass the bill and are ready to do so, the Windy City Times reports: “I have absolutely no doubt we’re going to be done with this by May 31,” said Jim Bennett, Midwest regional director for Lambda Legal. “I believe that this bill is going to pass.” Bennett declined to give a specific vote count, but said that he expected the bill could be called and passed any day. Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda, said he thinks the bill has the 60 votes needed for passage in the House. “I believe we’re there,” said Garcia. “The cake is baked. We’re waiting for the icing.”
Meanwhile, Governor Pat Quinn is pushing for a vote before May 31st. LGBTQ Nation reports:
Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois has a chance to make history before the end of the legislative session, and is pressuring House lawmakers to act on the issue of marriage equality before the session ends next week. The Chicago Democrat said Monday that he wants lawmakers to approve a proposal on the table that would make Illinois the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage. The plan cleared the Senate in February and awaits a House vote, which is expected to be close.
The Senate has already passed the bill, so a “yes” from the House would make Illinois the 13th state to pass marriage equality.
Is the State of Michigan ready to get on the band wagon or will it come down to a ballot issue? This must be giving Snyder sleepless nights.
The 2014 election offers Michiganders an important do-over on gay marriage, a chance to erase the economic handicap and cultural stain that the 2004 constitutional ban has visited upon our state.
And while Gov. Rick Snyder is no fan of judicial activism, he must be hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will throw out Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban before shifting public opinion strands him and other Republicans seeking statewide office on the wrong side of history.
A new survey by the respected Glengariff Group, which has been polling Michiganders’ attitudes toward the issue annually since October 2004, reveals that voters in the Great Lakes State now back gay marriage by a 57%-38% margin — an almost exact reversal of the electorate’s disposition nine years ago, when 58% of Michigan voters supported a state constitutional amendment outlawing the recognition of same-sex marriages.
Yes: Michiganders have apparently followed national trends in which tolerance and acceptance have overcome bigotry and injustice. This state might now be poised to join the 12 others that refuse to deny people basic human rights because of whom they love.
The Glengariff results — which are consistent with polling data highlighting similarly seismic attitude shifts in Virginia and Arizona — two other states that have outlawed gay marriage within the last decade — augur the inevitable demise of discriminatory marriage laws here and elsewhere.
That’s good news for the Rick Snyder who wants to eradicate obstacles that discourage talented young people from staying in or moving to our state.
In a 123-page study released earlier this year, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights warned that the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is repelling the professionals and college-educated residents Snyder seeks to attract. A popular vote to repeal the ban — which could come as early as next year — would send a positive signal to gay and young people who regard the issue as a litmus test for tolerance and commitment to diversity.
But a ballot initiative could pose a political challenge for Snyder and other Republican candidates walking the tightrope between the growing majority of Michiganders who support same-sex marriage and the dwindling-but-still-significant number of GOP voters who continue to oppose it.
While the success of any repeal effort is far from guaranteed, a ballot initiative would make it difficult for GOP candidates to sidestep the issue, with predictable hazards for their prospects in both the August GOP primary and the November general.
A stunning change of heart
For Democrats running statewide, the decision to support a repeal initiative would be simple. Fully, 75% of Democratic voters now support recognition of same-sex marriages, up from 71% in a Glengariff poll conducted a year ago. Among voters who identify themselves as independents, support has jumped from just 36% in 2012, to 51% — a 15-percentage-point swing.
But the most dynamic shift has taken place among Republican voters, whose support for same-sex marriage has soared 17 points, to 37% from 20% in the 2012 survey.
Republicans older than 40 continue to oppose gay marriage by a 63%-32% margin. But a 54% majority of GOP voters younger than 40 support it, and Republicans in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties are evenly split.
Glengariff’s Richard Czuba summed up the Republicans’ dilemma in an interview with the Michigan Information and Research Service last week: “While same-sex opposition will have strong resonance among Republican primary voters in out-state Michigan,” Czuba said, “Republicans will increasingly have to deal with the opposite effect in southeast Michigan — particularly Oakland County, where support is now up to 68%.”
Snyder’s blazing straddle
Except for his December 2011 decision to sign a bill barring medical benefits for same-sex partners of government employees, Snyder has been careful not to ally himself too closely with his party’s staunchest opponents of gay marriage.
He insists his decision to end same-sex medical benefits was calculated to conserve limited state resources, not discriminate against gay employees. He speaks often of his interest in making Michigan a place where no one feels excluded, and he points to a growing body of data suggesting that attracting and retaining talent is the key to Michigan’s long-term prosperity.
Supporting legislative action to dismantle one of the most conspicuous vestiges of state-sanctioned discrimination may be politically hazardous for Michigan Republicans, but it’s utterly consistent with the values to which Snyder pays lip service.
In other policy arenas, especially immigration, the governor and his inner circle have lobbied for initiatives that lower barriers to talent; now that a substantial majority of Michiganders seem to have turned against the gay marriage ban, removing that obstacle seems like a no-brainer, too.
Not whether, but when
Marriage equality may come to Michigan as soon as this summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court could rule — in a case that challenges California’s less-onerous discrimination against same-sex couples — that all state bans are unconstitutional.
Even if the justices stop short of such a sweeping decision, as most court-watchers expect them to, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman could reject or limit Michigan’s ban in a separate lawsuit brought by two Oakland County women seeking to jointly adopt each other’s children.
But whatever the courts do, the die has been cast in Michigan, just as it was cast in Minnesota, Maryland and the 10 other states that have adopted legislation recognizing same-sex ceremonies.
The question is whether Snyder and his fellow Republicans will elect to participate in that historic sea change — or stand agape as it washes over them.
The 2010 Federal census revealed that there were 600,000 gay households of which 115,000 were raising children. Whether Scotus votes favorably on the same sex marriage issues, the nation is beginning to open their eyes and see for themselves that what they thought they knew is far from the truth about same sex couples. The divorce rate not to mention the infidelity rate in the U.S. is on the rise. What does this say about the institution of marriage as viewed by the church and the heterosexuals? Common sense would indicate that if two people would move heaven and earth just to commit to one another, that must be true love.
Traditionally a man and a woman marry either because the sex was good, one has money, one is pregnant or just to prove they are straight. The number of married men who have gay affairs on the side thinking it is acceptable is astounding. The time has come for America to truly be the land of the free and honor the civil rights afforded to us by our constitution. What drives the bans put into state constitutions and defeat of legal marriage benefits is fear. It holds a certain amount of irony when you think of it. Our ancestors came to America looking for freedom, yet over time they have become the very people they left on the shores of Europe. Just how does same sex marriage damage the so called institute of marriage? Is is because same sex couples would be able to get the same tax deductions or health coverage? What makes heterosexuals better than homosexuals? Children are not blind nor are they stupid. They tend to see things for just what they are. Love is love whether it be for a man and a woman, a man and another man or a woman and another woman. we can either choose to be a part of a movement for freedom or get left in the dust as the train leaves the station. It is going to happen within the next 5 years and there is nothing that can stop the movement. It may take another Stonewall, however the gay community is ready to make that move.
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They’re coming in fast and furious this morning. First off, gay activist Peter Tatchell is supporting the amendment to allow straight couples to enter into civil partnerships. Pink News reports:
I urge MPs to vote for the right of heterosexual couples to have a civil partnership. Banning them is wrong. This is a simple issue of equality. Just as gay couples should be allowed to marry, straight couples should be permitted to join together in a civil partnership. There should be no discrimination in civil marriage and civil partnership law.
The Labour Party, which was supporting the amendment, has turned against it, worried it would kill the marriage equality bill – instead, they would pursue the idea as a separate matter. Gay Star News reports:
British political party Labour has announced they have abandoned support for a ‘wrecking’ amendment supporting opposite-sex civil partnerships today (20 May). Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary and the Shadow Equalities Minister, has announced Labour will table its own amendment. As outlined on The World At One, she explained the amendment would establish ‘an immediate consultation on opposite-sex civil partnerships’, which, she said, could begin even before the bill has completed its parliamentary pasage.
Smart – get ahead of the issue, get it going, but don’t use it to slow down or stall the marriage equality bill.
The UK’s Shadow Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Yvette Cooper, is calling for Prime Minister Cameron to stay firm in his support of marriage equality. Pink News reports:
Shadow Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Yvette Cooper, says she hopes “David Cameron will show confidence and not allow the equal marriage bill to get sucked into another vortex of bitter Tory wrangling.” Writing for the Independent, the Labour MP said: “The equal marriage bill is back in the Commons – and it’s about time it got the celebratory fanfare it deserves. So far we’ve heard the shouting from the Tory right. Ministers are gritting their teeth and wishing it was over. The prime minister has gone to ground. Yet this bill is no embarrassment to be rushed through: it is a cause for celebration and I hope MPs across the Commons will feel proud to pass it this week.”
Cameron seems to be doing just that, dispelling rumors that the Government might dump the bill. Pink News reports:
David Cameron is in full support of equal marriage, and the matter of whether the Government supports equal marriage is not in question, a Downing Street spokesman has confirmed. The source told PinkNews that, despite earlier reports that the Government would not rule out withdrawing its support for equal marriage, that passing it is David Cameron’s “paramount concern”, and that Downing Street would simply be deciding how best to make same-sex marriage legal, if an amendment to allow straight civil partnerships were to pass.
Hope springs eternal.
After Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, “The case is submitted,” on March 27, the justices of the Supreme Court presumably took a private vote and now are at work writing the opinions that will decide the fate of same-sex marriage in the United States.
But real life doesn’t stop just because the justices have commenced their labors. And what has happened since raises the question of how events outside the Marble Palace affect the deliberations within.
Over two days in March, the justices heard separate arguments that courts should not have overturned a 2008 decision by California voters to ban same-sex marriages in that state and that it was unconstitutional for Congress in the Defense of Marriage Act to withhold federal benefits from same-sex couples who are legally married in the states where they reside.
Forget marriage equality – even basic human rights are hard to come by for our LGBT brothers and sisters in the South. The Advocate reports:
The battles against LGBT people continue to be waged quietly in the South. Alabama’s current school curriculum requires teachers to instruct students that homosexuality is an “unacceptable, criminal lifestyle,” according to the Human Rights Campaign. The state’s only out lawmaker, Rep. Patricia Todd, a Birmingham Democrat, has introduced a bill to repeal the mandate. “I’m working to delete the homophobic language in our state health curriculum and even have Republican support,” Todd says. “It sure helps to have an openly gay [person] in the legislature.” Like Batts in Tennessee, Todd says marriage equality is on a back burner at best in her state: “In Alabama we will only achieve marriage equity through the court system, like [all] civil rights.”
Some things are changing, slowly:
Nashville and Memphis both have ordinances protecting city workers from anti-LGBT discrimination, and residents of another Tennessee city, Chattanooga, elected a gay man to the City Council in March. “We know that equality is not coming soon for us,” Batts [Will Batts, executive director of Tennessee's Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center] says. “In the South, equality seems to take much longer than it should. We’ve learned to be patient, and we see victory coming.”
Which Southern state do you think will be the first to embrace marriage equality? My money’s on Florida, Virginia, or North Carolina.
Australia’s former Prime Minister, Paul Rudd, who stood in the way of marriage equality while in office, made an about-face on the issue today. Towleroad.com reports:
Australian former PM Kevin Rudd, who opposed a 2009 amendment while in office that would have paved the way for marriage equality, declared today that he has changed his mind in a lengthy post on his blog. Said Rudd, in part: “I have come to the conclusion that church and state can have different positions and practices on the question of same sex marriage. I believe the secular Australian state should be able to recognise same sex marriage. I also believe that this change should legally exempt religious institutions from any requirement to change their historic position and practice that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. For me, this change in position has come about as a result of a lot of reflection, over a long period of time, including conversations with good people grappling with deep questions of life, sexuality and faith.”
Great news – I just wish more of these guys would make this leap while in office, when they could still have an actual impact on the process.
And another former politician says the nation’s ban on marriage equality is hurting business. Gay Star News reports:
Former senator Brian Greig said that Australia’s resistance to legalizing gay marriage is preventing much-need skilled workers from immigrating there. ‘Our nation’s increasing isolation on this matter is impacting recruitment and employment mobility,’ wrote Greig in an editorial for Sydney Morning Herald. ‘By putting up a legislative wall around our island nation our parliament has created a fortress of intolerance that is repelling needed workers.’
Pink News is liveblogging the debate.
Pink News reports:
Three Tory MPs – Tim Loughton, Charlotte Leslie and Rob Wilson – are pushing for civil partnerships to be an option for heterosexual couples in an amendment as part of this week’s third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. But in February’s second reading Mr Loughton, a former children’s minister voted against marriage rights for gay couples, and Ms Leslie and Mr Wilson abstained. Labour is set to support Mr Loughton’s amendment. However, some in Westminster fear the amendment is an attempt to “wreck the bill” because it could delay its passage beyond the 2015 general election.
The problem? Such an amendment would open the bill u again for public comment, which could add another two years to the process. Bloomberg reports:
One of the amendments put down for debate involves extending civil partnerships to heterosexual couples, which the government said could delay the bill by two years as the public is consulted further. Culture Secretary Maria Miller said the amendment “would throw up significant challenges,” calling it a “complication that is not necessary at this point in time.” Tim Loughton, a Conservative opponent of gay marriage who tabled the amendment, denied it was aimed at “wrecking” the bill. “This bill, whatever we think about it, introduces a glaring inequality,” he told the BBC. “If it goes through, as I’m sure it will, then opposite-sex couples will only have access to marriage, but same-sex couples will not have access to the new form of marriage and civil partnerships.”
The Prime Minister is against the amendment. The Independent reports:
David Cameron will tonight take on traditionalist Conservative MPs who are trying to sabotage his plans to legalise gay marriage in the latest trial of strength between the Prime Minister and his backbenchers. Mr Cameron will vote against a wrecking amendment which could delay or even scupper the Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Bill by extending to heterosexual couples the right to enter civil partnerships. If passed, the amendment could cost taxpayers billions of pounds in pension liabilities and delay the implementation of gay marriages for two years.
Both sides are playing chicken. Pink News reports:
The Government may withdraw its support for the pending equal marriage bill for England and Wales, if an amendment to allow civil partnerships to straight couples passes. A Downing Street source told PinkNews.co.uk that, if an amendment put forward by Tim Loughton, which would extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples, were to pass, the Government may pull its support for the Marriage (Same Sex couples) Bill. The source said no option could be ruled out over the bill, until after the vote on the amendment.
There’s also the cost – up to 4 Billion Pounds. The Guardian reports:
DWP pensions minister Steve Webb has reported that this legislative addition is going to cost a lot of money – #4bn to be precise – in associated pension costs. The figure first cropped up last week in the human rights committee hearing when Steve Webb was giving testimony. My colleague Caroline Davies was one of those to pick up on it whilst covering it last Tuesday. We have costed that at roughly a #3bn-#4bn cost to public service pension schemes,” Webb said. So if MP’s want civil partnerships to be extended to all couples, the government has warned the whole bill will be unaffordable and will have to be shelved for the meantime.
One of Cameron’s conservative MP’s had good things to say about the Prime Minister’s leadership on the issue. Pink News reports:
In an exclusive interview with PinkNews.co.uk, the Conservative MP for Reigate and former Prisons and Youth Justice minister, Crispin Blunt, says David Cameron has shown “fantastic leadership” on equal marriage. … “I sincerely hope that the LGBT community – and I think they do actually understand just exactly what his commitment is to it – but there is a limit for him to go on provoking elements of his own party who are unhappy with this just for the hell of it. He’s made his point, everyone knows the fire he’s going through with some of his own colleagues in order to deliver this and I hope people are going to be appropriately grateful for the fantastic leadership that he’s shown on this.”
MP Lynn Featherstone, a champion of the marriage equality bill, questions this sudden desire for equality. Pink News reports:
However, there are two that I would normally not hesitate to support. I am in favour of humanist weddings and opposite-sex Civil Partnerships. However, in the case of the opposite sex Civil Partnership proposals it’s a matter of beware opponents bearing gifts – for the people pushing this change are not those with records of supporting equality and marriage rules that accommodate a diversity of couples. No, instead the proposals are coming from the likes of Tim Loughton and others who are avowed and determined opponents of equal marriage.
Both the marriage equality bill and the civil paetnerships for straight couples amendment have support from the British public. Gay Star News reports:
The survey found 54% of Britons support same sex marriage legislation, with 36% opposed. Among Conservatives, more people oppose the measures than support them but the margin is narrow (48% to 45%). And 64% of Britons support opening up civil partnerships to straight couples. Heterosexuals in a relationship were the most likely to back the change (73% supportive).
The amendment also enjoys strong support among MPs. Pink News reports:
A new ComRes survey of 159 MPs, conducted over the past month, has found overwhelming parliamentary support for the amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, championed by Tim Loughton MP, which would extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples. The poll found that more than seven in ten MPs from all main parties support extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples. A separate public poll suggests support for same-sex marriage could be affected if the Government’s proposals to legalise same sex marriage is not seen to be ‘equal’ in their treatment of opposite sex couples by failing to extend civil partnerships. The poll found that more than six in ten people who supported legalising same sex marriage said they would support it ‘only if couples of the opposite sex also get the right to enter into a civil partnership if they wish’.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has flipped against civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples. Pink News reports:
In a u-turn on his previous commitment to supporting civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples, Archbishop Justin Welby has endorsed the Church of England’s statement opposing them. The Church of England released a statement on Friday expressing its opposition to suggestions that the government may amend the equal marriage act to allow civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples. “We believe that this would introduce further confusion about the place of marriage in society,” it read. “We remain unconvinced that the introduction of such an option would satisfy a genuine and widespread public need, other than for those who pursue ‘equality’ as an abstract concept.”
And a group of 500 Imams have come out against the marriage equality bill, too. Joe.My.God reports:
A coalition of more than 500 imams have signed a joint letter denouncing Britain’s pending same-sex marriage bill. The Telegraph calls the letter “the first time that Muslim leaders have made a collective intervention on the issue and underlines the strength of feeling among ethnic minority voters.”
A straight rights amendment. Support for both the bill and the amendment in parliament and in the public. A possible delay of two years. Religious leaders inserting themselves into the debate. Who knows which way this will go?
Could Michigan have full marriage equality by next year? Brian Dickerson at the Detroit Free Press thinks so:
A popular vote to repeal the ban — which could come as early as next year — would send a positive signal to gay and young people who regard the issue as a litmus test for tolerance and commitment to diversity. But a ballot initiative could pose a political challenge for Snyder and other Republican candidates walking the tightrope between the growing majority of Michiganders who support same-sex marriage and the dwindling-but-still-significant number of GOP voters who continue to oppose it. While the success of any repeal effort is far from guaranteed, a ballot initiative would make it difficult for GOP candidates to sidestep the issue, with predictable hazards for their prospects in both the August GOP primary and the November general.
Once again, as in New Jersey, we face the choice between putting our rights up to a public vote or facing probably years of political stalemate in the legislature. What do you think?
After marriage equality passed in Minnesota, The Journal Times asked some Wisconsin legislators what they thought of passing such a bill there. The JT reports:
Logistics aside, local legislators remain divided on the issue at the core — should gay marriage be legalized? Here’s what our elected officials said….
Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine
Response: Yes, if churches can make their own decisions
Why? “I support the permanent union of loving couples regardless of gender,” Lehman said. But he added that his Lutheran faith strongly informs his opinion. “The sacredness of that process (marriage and children) is instilled in me and lots of people of faith,” he said. Although his own church opposes the practice, Lehman said that as a Senator “you’re representing everybody.” Additionally, Lehman said, he personally knows same-sex couples in loving relationships, which further informs his position.
Tp see the thoughts of other Wisconsin legislators, hit the link above.
BISBEE REVISES CIVIL UNIONS ORDINANCE
Bisbee city officials have hammered out a revised civil unions ordinance after opposition to it from the state’s Attorney General. AZCentral.com reports:
The ordinance’s use of the word “union” had been a point of controversy during the debate. While there is nothing in state law that explicitly addresses civil unions, the state Constitution defines marriage as “only a union of one man and one woman,” and state law prohibits same-sex marriage. Other Arizona cities have gotten around those prohibitions by creating what they call registries.
Bisbee’s revised version still calls the action a “civil union,” but describes it as a contractual agreement. It also omits a line that had said couples in a civil union would be recognized as “married” and another calling them “spouses.”
MINNEAPOLIS CHURCH CELEBRATES MARRIAGE EQUALITY
The New York Daily News reports on a church celebrating marriage equality with rainbow communion bread:
Revolution Church in Minneapolis served congregants rainbow-colored communion bread during its inaugural service last Sunday. Head pastor Rev. Jay Bakker thought the bread – and the state’s embrace of gay rights – tasted “kind of sweet. So many people have been hurt by the church and by Christianity,” Bakker told the News. “But this was a beautiful moment.” The colorful nod to gay rights was baked up early Sunday morning by photojournalist Courtney Perry. She thought of the idea after Minnesota’s House approved a same-sex marriage bill on May 9. State leaders expected the bill to pass the Senate as well and Perry was ecstatic.
FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE OFFERS MARRIAGE EQUALITY CASE PREDICTIONS
At Keen News, they’re reporting on former US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and his thoughts on the marriage equality cases currently before the court:
Former Justice John Paul Stevens, 93, who retired from the high court three years ago after 35 years of service, recently offered his prediction for what the court will do on the two landmark marriage equality cases pending before it. He said he thinks the court will dismiss the Yes on 8 appeal of the Proposition 8 case out of California on procedural issues, and find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
FINLAND’S PRO MARRIAGE EQUALITY ENTEY PLACES 24TH AT EUROVITION
In pop culture news, Finland’s Eurovision entry, a pro gay marriage song, didn’t win the competition. Pink News reports:
Krista Siegfrids, the Finnish Eurovision singer, said her song was intended as a hint to her boyfriend to propose to her, but was also meant as a message of marriage equality. She found herself with a place in the final, following her performance of her pro-equal marriage song, which included a lesbian kiss. Siegfrids insisted that her song ‘Marry Me’ was not political, but did go on to say that she did want to make a statement about the lack of legal recognition of same-sex marriages in Finland. Organisers forbid “lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature”.
A group of LGBT activists held a rally in Venezuela Saturday for marriage equality. France24 reports:
Gays and lesbians demonstrated in Venezuela’s capital Saturday to push for an end to discrimination and for civil rights such as same-sex marriage. “In some areas of the capital, two men cannot be seen holdings hands without security ushering them out,” said Cesar Sequera, who leads Diverse Venezuela, among marchers waving signs like “Say yes to inclusion.”
Argentina (and probably now Brazil) recognize marriage equality – could Venezuela be South America’s #3?
The Marriage Equality USA 15th Annual National Gala, honoring Lea DeLaria, Google and Swish, will bring together LGBT community members and leaders, straight allies, entertainment industry and corporate leaders, and celebrities to raise funds for and highlight contributions to the marriage equality movement, on Tuesday, May 21st, from 6:00-10:00pm at 404 NYC, 404 10th Avenue, New York City.
With the hilarious Stephen Wallem ( Showtime’s Nurse Jackie) as emcee and NBC’s “The Voice” finalist Vicci Martinez performing, guests will enjoy a celebratory evening of cocktails, dinner, entertainment, awards, a silent auction and more! For complete information including media credentials, please visit www.marriageequality.org/gala.
“As an out performer this issue is incredibly personal to me, which is why I have proudly supported both the cause and Marriage Equality USA (MESUA) for many years,” commented performer Lea DeLaria. “It is an honor to be recognized by my friends at MEUSA.”
“Google is proud to support marriage equality and proud of the work our Googlers are doing in cooperation with national leaders like Marriage Equality USA,” said John Burchett, Director of Public Policy for US States, Latin America and Canada for Google.
“Swish is deeply honored to be acknowledged by Marriage Equality USA with its 2013 Community Partner Award. Our 3,000 straight ally and LGBT members around the world are working in partnership with MEUSA to win the freedom to marry – everywhere, and for everyone. Love is love,” remarked Sue Sena, Swish President and Co-Founder.
“This has already been a tremendous year for marriage equality. With four wins last fall at the ballot box and three more in statehouses in the last three weeks, it is truly an honor to recognize the contributions our honorees have made in helping us make this an historic time for marriage equality,” said Brian Silva, Marriage Equality USA Executive Director.
“On Tuesday May 21, on the verge of historic rulings in the landmark marriage cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, our community will gather in New York City to celebrate how far we’ve come and to acknowledge the leaders who are going the distance to make sure the constitution’s fundamental guarantees of freedom and fairness apply to all Americans,” concluded Cathy Marino-Thomas, Marriage Equality USA Board Co-President.
LEA DeLARIA, Allied Honoree
Lea DeLaria has distinguished herself in every form of entertainment that she touches. She is a Jazz Musician, Broadway Diva, Actor, Writer and Standup Comic. It is plain to see why Ben Brantley describes Lea as “every inch a star!” She was the first openly gay comic to appear on television in the United States (Arsenio Hall 1993). From that point forward Lea toured the world with her one of a kind blend of cool Jazz and in your face comedy, including specials on HBO, SHOWTIME and COMEDY CENTRAL, as well as work in television and movies. She has 5 records out on The Warner Jazz and Classics label and has given concerts in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Sydney Opera House, and Royal Albert Hall and was the featured vocalist for the 50th Anniversary of The Newport Jazz Festival. She has done all of the above without ever having once been in the closet!
GOOGLE, Corporate Honoree
Google and its employees actively engaged with the marriage equality campaigns of Fall 2012, including encouraging employees to get involved via a video the employees made to push for others to get involved. As one of the largest corporations to speak out against Proposition 8 in 2008, Google continued that work most recently with the launch of their worldwide “Legalize Love” campaign for LGBT rights.
SWISH, Community Partner Honoree
With more than 3,000 members internationally, Swish creates volunteer, advocacy, and educational opportunities for straight allies to make a difference in the LGBT rights movement. In 2009, Swish was the first organization to endorse the National Equality March in Washington, DC, for which they were named among the Best of Gay New York City by Time Out NY that year. Over the last four years, Swish volunteers have logged hundreds of phone-banking and canvassing hours with state coalitions to win marriage equality in NY, RI, ME, MD, WA, DE and MN!
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Senate Democrats are considering offering an amendment to include gay and lesbian binational couples to the immigration reform bill on the floor instead of in committee. The Washington Blade explains:
Late Thursday, Politico reported that Democrats are asking the White House to tell Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to withhold amendments for bi-national same-sex couples until the larger measure reaches the Senate floor — where passage will likely be more difficult. “They’re increasingly uneasy about risking Republican support but reluctant to tell gay rights advocates that an amendment allowing American citizens to seek green cards for their same-sex foreign partners may not get a vote in the Judiciary Committee,” Politico reported. Concern over the amendments follows remarks from Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — as well as comments from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to the Washington Blade — that including the pro-gay language would kill immigration reform.
Their mistake was to not include it in the original bill, where it would have been much harder to strip out. Senate Dems must be hoping the US Supreme Court will step in with their DOMA decision and take this decision off their hands.
It took over 125 years for our government to recognize that only by the people directly electing their United States senators would there be full and equal representation in Washington. It took the marches of the suffragettes to finally assure that all women had the right to vote – just like all American men. It took a Supreme Court’s unanimous vote to overturn years of “inequality,” after bloody marches, and finally declare that “separate” was not equal. It took the death of a president – John F. Kennedy – to move Congress to affirm, through the Civil Rights Acts, that the protection of the fundamental right to vote was guaranteed to black citizens wherever they lived – just as it was for white voters.
Despite, the divisions on this issue that remain, my own view has evolved. I concluded that it is a fundamental civil right for an individual to choose their life partner and be able to declare that choice through marriage.
During protests in China for the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, gay activists were arrested and questioned. Gay Star News reports:
Officers detained about a dozen LGBT advocates who were handing flyers about IDAHO in a busy mall in downtown Guangzhu, yesterday (17 May) afternoon. According to Yang Dai, a local activist, the advocates were taken away for questioning and released about an hour later. Dai added the police was not critical of the event; rather, officers were concerned about the method of handing-out flyers. And in Changsha, capital city of Hunan province, a Pride march drew over 100 China-wide participants aged 16-54, but some were detained.
While some of the activists were released, some are reportedly still being detained.