Just nine years ago, only 24% of Michiganders supported marriage equality. Now that number has jumped to 54%. The Detroit News reports:
Support for same-sex marriage has increased to 56.8 percent, up 12.5 percentage points from last year — movement fueled largely by shifting opinions from Republicans and independents, the poll of 600 registered voters by the Glengariff Group Inc. showed. The support is in contrast to 2004, when Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
What’s more surprising to me is the fact that the shift mostly came from “Republicans and independents” – usually the movement in the past has been fueld by independents and democrats. Don’t suppose the GOP legislature and Governor Rock Snyder wanna pass a marriage equality bill?
First off, some rights have been granted to same sex couples in Italy, but only if they are politicians. Gay Star News reports:
The Italian Camera dei Deputati (the lower chamber of the Parliament) has approved a new rule which extends its politician’s health benefits to their gay partners. Now LGBT ‘deputati’, or members of the parliament (MPs), who pay for their insurance, can have their rights extended to the men or the women they live with. The move was pushed for by gay deputati Ivan Scalfarotto who wanted his own partner protected.
It’s a good start; now how about applying it to everyone else?
In Rome, Dot429 reports that a new campaign has been launched to push for LGBT equality there:
Activists in Rome have launched a campaign to improve LGBT equality in the city, ahead of local elections later this month. The five-point platform asks for commitments from politicians on homophobia and transphobia, equality in service provision, improved LGBT health services, promotion of LGBT culture and events, and also support for tourism and businesses in the community. “The four main candidates running for Mayor subscribed to our platform, plus a number of candidates for the City Council. Overall, the response to our initiative was surprisingly enthusiastic,” Activist Carlo Chiattelli told 429Magazine.
Finally, up in Milan, a court recognized a UK civil partnership for a gay Italian couple. Gay Star News reports:
A local court in Milan has recognized a British civil partnership – the first time Italy has legally recognized a gay union from abroad. Now the civil union between Cristian, a biologist, and Federico, an IT specialist, will be added to the Milan’s Registro delle Unioni Civili, a list of same-sex couples put in place by left-wing mayor Giuliano Pisapia. The decision of the tribunal does not mean that Cristian and Federico’s civil partnership is now recognized by Italy. But, thanks to the Registro, they can now apply for local welfare, local benefits and have their relationship recognized if their partner goes into hospital.
Small steps, all of them. But taken together, they may represent the beginning of a wave of change in Italy. Let’s hope.
First off, Conservative MP David Burrowes has admitted that he’s only pushing for a public vote on marriage equality to derail the bill in Parliament. Pink News reports:
Later in the interview, Mr Parris said to Mr Burrowes: “You don’t want a debate you just want to defeat the measure don’t you?” Mr Burrowes replied: “Well I want both.” Presenter Jo Coburn then said to Mr Burrowes: “Right so it is a vehicle you want to use [in order to] defeat a measure you don’t like?” The MP replied: “Well it would be… it would affect the commencement of this bill, but I am concerned about that as well as trying to ensure we have freedom of speech, properly protected in the bill, surely the government will be able to accept that when it comes to those amendments on Monday.”
Another MP, Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather complained that she didn’t go onto politics for this. Pink News reports:
Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather says voting against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in February was “an extremely difficult choice”. In an interview with the Catholic Herald, the north London Brent MP and former children’s minister said: “In many ways I’d rather not resurrect the whole argument again. It wasn’t one of those issues that I went into politics to tackle, but once a vote became inevitable I spent ten or 11 months weighing up the issues – of equality on the one hand and family life and what it meant for the definition of marriage on the other.” She added: “I did a lot of reading and eventually I came to my conclusion, based not on any effect it would have in the short-term, but on the change it would mean for marriage over a longer period of time.”
Maria Miller, the Minister for Equalities, is also in the news today. First off, Pink News reports that she’s denying claims that the marriage equality bill has been fast tracked:
“One factual error in what you said is that there was a very clear statement by the Conservative Party around looking at same-sex marriage in our Contract for Equalities that was issued at the general election. It was in a very extensive manifesto commitment document around equalities and it highlighted commitment to equality in this area.” She added: “Any claims that this has been fast-tracked is not accurate. The amount of consultation, the largest consultation that Government has ever seen, really took place over a year. Since the consultation, extensive analysis of that, then discussion around the bill.”
Miller also expressed surprise that it’s taken the UK so long to get around to marriage equality:
The minister then told the Joint Committee on Human Rights: “It is surprising that other countries have done this [introduced same-sex marriage] as far back as 2001. Given our extremely strong record on equality and human rights, it is surprising that is for so many years that this hasn’t been considered.” She added: “Civil partnerships was of course a first step but I think that this step is more valuable.”
Gay activist Peter Tatchell criticized Miller for ruling out the possibility that straight couples could enter into civil partnerships once gays and lesbians can marry. Pink News reports:
Yesterday, Mrs Miller told the parliamentary joint committee on human rights: “We don’t feel there is either a necessity or a requirement to open up civil partnerships to heterosexual couples because there is no deficit there – there is no lack of an ability to be able to formalise a relationship in a legal way. “It is already there for heterosexual couples. It’s called marriage.” … Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has repeatedly called for the coalition’s equal marriage plans to include civil partnerships for heterosexuals told PinkNews.co.uk: “This is a hugely disappointing decision by the government. But I am hopeful that the amendment to open up civil partnerships to heterosexual couples will be carried by MPs next week. While legalising marriage equality is welcome and commendable, the government’s refusal to end discrimination against straight couples in civil partnership law is flawed and wrong.
Gay Star News reports that upstart right-wing party UKIP, which has conservatives worried about challenges in the next election, has made a startling admission:
Despite a quadruple legal lock protecting religious groups from being told to conduct marriages for gay couples, the right-wing political party led by Nigel Farage has said the safeguards are not strong enough. But if Britain was to exist as an independent state and outside the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, then no gay couple would be able to challenge the marriage bill’s legal locks. Speaking to Gay Star News, a senior UKIP spokesman said: ‘If we find ourselves outside of the legislation of the European Court of Human Rights, we may have a different opinion [on same-sex marriage].
So basically the UKIP would back off their opposition to marriage equality, maybe, if the UK left the European Union.
Finally, in a somewhat amusing development, shopkeepers near Prime Minister David Cameron’s office are complaining that anti-gay marriage protests are driving away customers. Pink News reports:
Retailers close to David Cameron’s constituency office have claimed that their takings are down due to anti-gay marriage protestors. The Coalition for Marriage, a group that opposes equal rights for same-sex couples has regularly staged protests and leaflet distribution drives outside the Witney Office of the Prime Minister in Oxfordshire. Earlier this month, the same-sex marriage opponents have delivered a postcard petition signed by 288 people to David Cameron’s Witney constituency office in Oxfordshire.
We assume the protests would end once the marriage equality bill is passed, and shopping will return to normal in the neighborhood. So see, marriage equality really is good for the economy!
It’s official – at 5 PM last night, Minnesota’s Governor Dayton signed the state’s new marriage equality bill into law. LGBTQ Nation reports:
What a day for Minnesota!” Dayton, a Democrat, declared moments before putting his signature on a bill. “And what a difference a year and an election can make in our state.” An estimated 6,000 cheering spectators filled the south lawn of the state Capitol for the outdoor ceremony, with rainbow and American flags fluttering in a sweltering breeze, while Dayton thanked legislators for their political courage before signing the bill.
Meanwhile, a bridge in Minneapolis was lit up in beautiful rainbow colors. Jalopnik reports:
…the City of Minneapolis celebrated last night by lighting up the I-35W bridge like this. It looks like the final stage from Mario Kart.
Dot429 reports that Minnesota Senator Michelle Bachmann is NOT HAPPY:
Rumors that Bachmann wanted to move out of the state of Minnesota if marriage equality was passed may have been false, but that doesn’t mean she supports marriage equality. While talking to Minnesota’s KSTP-TV Monday morning, Bachmann said, “Homosexuality is a sin, and God will punish communities that support it.”
More on Bachmann from Queerty:
Weeks before her home state Minnesota legalized marriage equality, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) warned against the dangers of same-sex marriage unless all the good Christians embark on a “spiritual warfare” to fight this rampant evil. While speaking at the Liberty Council’s Awakening 2013 in April (video courtesy of Right Wing Watch), Bachmann hit all of her usual talking points.
Congratulations once again to Minnesota. On to Illinois!
In a state that’s been hijacked by conservatives over the last few years (I should know – I used to live there) – there’s a surprising new poll out on gay marriage. Pink News reports:
The poll found that 55% of Arizonans were in favour of equal marriage, with 35% opposed and 10% were unsure. Voters most in favour of such a measure were women, Latinos, liberals, moderates, Independents, Democrats, and voters under the age of 55. Republicans in the state were divided over the issue, with 36% in favour and 53% opposed. The poll found that out of those who identify as conservative, 41% supported and 51% opposed equal marriage.
With republicans firmly in control of the legislature and the governorship, marriage equality legislation has a snowball’s chance in hell of passing right now, but still, it’s nice to know. And legislatures change.
Brazil’s National Council of Justice on Tuesday said that notary publics throughout the country must register same-sex civil unions as marriages if the couple requests it. The council that oversees the country’s judiciary voted 14-1 to support a resolution stating that notary publics cannot refuse to marry gay couples or convert a same-sex civil union into a marriage. The council based its decision on a 2011 Supreme Court ruling that recognized same-sex civil unions.
But we’re not all the way there yet in Brazil:
Under Tuesday’s ruling, Brazil would become the 15th country in the world to allow same-sex marriage nationally, although the decision could still be appealed to the country’s Supreme Court.
Gay Wedding Officiants in Washington, DC, USA. Rev. Debby is a non-denominational wedding minister who serves all couples, believing that marriage is a sacred rite available to everyone. She works with each couple to create a heart-felt, personalized ceremony. The couple has final say on all aspects of the ceremony. Civil marriage certificate provided!
A binational gay couple who married in California in 2008 is fighting to stay together. Towleroad.com reports:
In his video Op-Ed “Eric and Juan,” Jens Erik Gould introduces us to a same-sex couple who got married in 2008, during the brief time when gay marriage was legal in California. Though Eric and Juan have built a life together here, DOMA prevents Juan from applying for a green card through marriage. It is among the many federal benefits the two are denied. “Juan has had so much adversity in his life,” Gould says. “Someone tried to kill him in Mexico because he was gay. Now, not only does he still experience discrimination for being gay in the U.S., he’s also living undocumented here. Many people in this situation hide in the shadows. But despite all the adversity and risk, he’s publicly fighting for what he believes in because he wants to be an example for his community.”
Too many gay and lesbian couples are in these straits… will the immigration bill and/or the Supreme Court bring them relief?
Hot on the heels of yesterday’s story that a candidate for mayor of Rome would allow civil unions in the city if elected, the country’s new Prime Minister has short-circuited an effort to allow civil unions nationwide. Gay Star News reports:
The new Italian government has stopped new Equality Minister Josefa Idem from pushing forward a new law on same-sex civil unions. The new Prime Minister Enrico Letta said: ‘This is not on the government’s agenda.’… A source from the government added: ‘Civil unions are not in our to-do list. The Italian president Giorgio Napolitano suggested [we should] avoid divisive issues.’
I guess it’s too much to ask for the Italian Government to go against the wishes of the Pope.
After the Minnesota senate passed the marriage equality bill yesterday, Governor Dayton said he would sign it today. ABC News reports:
With marriages to be available for Minnesota’s gay couples starting Aug. 1, Duluth residents Gary Anderson and Gary Boelhower are getting ready to do something that seemed impossible when they started dating three years ago: plan a wedding. “The plan is to do it in August, definitely,” Boelhower said Monday, shortly after Minnesota’s Legislature took its final vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged to sign the bill, and is scheduled to do so at 5 p.m. Tuesday on the front steps of the Capitol in St. Paul.
It wasn’t so long ago that these bills would linger for days or weeks on a Governor’s desk while we all wondered if he would say yes or no, weighing our fate in his hands. It’s a nice change.
We’ll start with the FRC, which is once again comparing gays to pedophiles. Pam’s House Blend reports:
The following video is yet another one pushed by the Family Research Council claiming that if gays are allowed in the Boy Scouts, there will be more boys at risk of being molested. This time, FRC allows Brian Rushfeldt, head of Canda Family Action do its dirty work.
Regular Linda Hervey thinks gay news sites are turning kids gay. LGBTQ Nation reports:
Linda Harvey of Mission America is worried that “homosexual news blogs” and other websites “that are sympathetic to the social and political goals of the homosexual movement” may actually trick young people, who could simply be visiting such sites in order to research the debate on same-sex marriage, into becoming gay by putting them in close reach of “homosexual-themed pornography. Schools, Hollywood and even the top leaders in our country are all busy selling homosexuality to kids,” Harvey warned, adding that pornography and other “deceptive influences” are also “convincing [kids] to believe they are gay.”
If only we had such power. It goes back to the whole nature v.s nurture thing, and we’re firmly on the side of nature.
And finally, here’s a fun spoof – Michelle Bachman threatening to leave Minnesota over the passage of the marriage equality bill. Jezebel reports:
“Sodom and Gomorrah thought they could defy the will of God – and we all know what happened to them. If the governor signs this legislation into law the Minneapolis-St. Paul region will be next. I have a friend from Eden Prairie who’s already packed everything she owns into her car and is driving out to Montana as we speak. These are very scary times. I don’t want my family to be the last ones out.”
OK, so technically, it’s not something she said, but you could almost believe it, right?
Anyone holding out hope that the Supreme Court is going to issue a sweeping decision to legalize gay marriage inroughout all 50 states has a new reason to temper their expectations. Not even the court’s most liberal member appears to be all that eager to thrust the institution into another cultural fight. It’s not so much because she does not believe in advancing rights, but rather because she appears to have concluded that judicial modesty is, in some circumstances, the best way to advance those rights.
The justice I am talking about is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In a talk at the University of Chicago on the 40th anniversary of the holding in Roe v. Wade, Justice Ginsberg reflected upon the scope of the Roe holding, and not in a way that suggests that she would do it the same way if she had it to do over again. “Roe became a symbol for the right to life movement. They have an annual parade now every year on the day in January when it was decided.”
As her statement this weekend suggests (and as Supreme Court watchers know, you can never read too much into what is said at oral argument or in public remarks), Justice Ginsburg appears to believe that Roe caused a cultural backlash against a woman’s right to choose that would never have occurred had the court not intervened so aggressively. Instead, Justice Ginsburg appears to have concluded, like many others of all sorts of ideological makeups who have studied the case, that had the court been more modest, a societal consensus would have emerged and the same rights would have come to be enshrined in the laws of each state through more democratic means.
As the expected U.S. Supreme Court decisions on laws affecting marriage equality draw closer, barriers for gay men and lesbians continue to drop around the country. Some of the obstacles have been overcome by individuals, others by legislators. Both avenues to equality are important.
In the April 29 edition of Sports Illustrated magazine, National Basketball Association center Jason Collins, who split his last season between the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards, revealed his homosexuality. “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” wrote Collins, who will become a free agent on July 1.
While other professional athletes have come out of the closet after retiring, Collins is the first openly gay athlete currently playing on a major American team. A little more than a week later, on May 7, our neighboring state of Delaware became the 11th state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.
An openly gay soccer player just joined the NoH8 campaign. On Top Magazine reports:
Rogers is the former U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team member who last played for the UK’s Leeds United team. He came out gay and announced his retirement from professional soccer in an online post in February. “‘Don’t waste your life hating others for something you cannot change. Preach Love!’ – Out soccer player @RobbieRogers,” the NOH8 Campaign tweeted over the weekend.
Cute, gay, athletic and politically aware – what’s not to like?
Now that marriage equality has passed in nearby Minnesota, the pressure is on in Illinois. Go Pride reports:
“It is our time,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters. “Gay and lesbian couples in Illinois and their families deserve to be recognized. If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June, as expected, and Illinois doesn’t recognize the freedom to marry now, then Illinois families will be further harmed.”
And the Huffington Post reports on new pro-gay marriage robocalls by NAACCP alum Julian Bond and gay ally and football player Brandon Ayanbedejo:
A round of pro-gay robocalls expected to go out Monday are answering back to anti-marriage equality messages the socially conservative National Organization For Marriage sent around the state less than two weeks earlier. The latest round of calls call for a “yes” vote on Senate Bill 10 and feature civil rights leader Julian Bond and former Chicago Bears player Brendon Ayanbadejo, the Sun-Times reports. The calls are expected to go out in the districts of Illinois House Black Caucus members. “It’s time to take those steps once again in Illinois. We need to let the world know that Illinois accepts all people regardless of who they love,” Ayanbedejo, an Illinois native, says in the call.
Just two and a half weeks left in the legislative session…
In the city that wraps around the Vatican, home to one of the staunchest opponents of marriage equality, Mayoral candidate Ignazio Marino says he would allow same sex unions. Dot429 reports:
Rome’s candidate for mayor, Ignazio Marino, made the announcement on Monday that if elected, he would allow same-sex unions. Marino believes the children of Rome should be introduced and educated regarding gay and lesbian equality. Mariano is running against three other candidates. The election takes place on May 26 and 27.
Wouldn’t that be amazing? I’ll bet the Pope is not happy…
A Gallup poll shows support for gay marriage at or above 50% for the third time. The Advocate reports:
For the third consecutive time, a public opinion poll by Gallup found support for same-sex marriage over the 50% threshold. The latest study, conducted in the first week of May, found that 53% of 1,535 respondents believe same-sex marriage should be legal nationwide, with 45% stating the opposite. Those numbers tied Gallup’s poll in May 2011, while a poll in November 2012 found 50% supported marriage equality and 48% reported opposition.
The Gallup website has more details:
Nearly all U.S. subgroups are more likely to favor gay marriage now than in the past. Politically, Democrats, independents, and liberals all show increasing support for gay marriage over time, with each well above the majority level now. Republicans, conservatives, and moderates are more likely to favor gay marriage now than in 1996, but the increase in support among these groups may have stalled. Thus, most of the increase in the percentage favoring legal gay marriage in the last three years has come among left-leaning groups politically.
Queerty has another interesting note about the survey:
But where the Gallup poll contributes some real insight is how those asked think the rest of the country feels about marriage equality. By a whopping 63%, the respondents think that most Americans oppose marriage equality. In other words, the majority thinks it’s the minority and doesn’t know otherwise. What accounts for the disconnect? As much as it might dismay pollsters, most Americans don’t spend their days lovingly reviewing public opinion surveys. The real question, though, is how tentative are people in expressing their beliefs if they think most people are against them. Could there be a drag on the momentum for marriage equality if the public think it’s still something only about a third of Americans support?
We’ll start with the Senate Leader’s speech on marriage equality, given just before the final vote was taken, brought to us by Joe.My.God:
Joe.My.God also has a great quote from openly gay Senator Scott Dibble:
“Minnesotans, when given a chance, understand that the values that unite us are stronger and so much more important than those that divide us. I am proud to be a Minnesotan today. Today good hard-working Minnesotans playing by the rules, trying to live a good life, contributing in so many ways to their communities will be treated fairly. For thousands of families, life will be better. We will be removing the barriers that they have had to the full joys that life has to offer. In doing so, we strengthen ourselves and we strengthen our democracy. When this is over, we will have left Minnesota a better place. That is why we’re here.”
Over at Towleroad.com, they have a video of the celebration that erupted just after the vote:
A crappy cell phone camera may not be great at capturing images, but it is perfectly capable of transmitting joy.
Over at NOM, Brian Brown predicted the end of the Democratic majority in Minnesota because of the vote. Joe.My.God reports:
Make no mistake, this vote will bring the demise of the DFL majority and end the careers of wayward Republicans in the Legislature once voters have their say. The people of Minnesota did not vote for gay marriage in 2012. They voted to maintain traditional marriage by maintaining the status quo. Our opponents bought a victory by claiming that marriage was not under threat of redefinition, but in fact they always intended to redefine it at the soonest possible moment. Legislators who voted to redefine marriage were foolish to do so. They cast a terrible vote that damages society, tells children they don’t deserve a mother and a father, and brands supporters of traditional marriage as bigots. We predict that this vote will be career ending for many legislators in Minnesota.”
Of course, Brown basically predicted failure for the bills in Minnesota, Delaware, and Illinois a week and a half ago. Lets see if we can prove him wrong in all three states!
More victories as a marriage bill clears hurdles in Minnesota. And there’s progress appears likely in neighboring states as well. But soon, constitutional amendments in 30 states could delay any further success for years to come.
After months of speculation, the marriage equality bill just cleared the Minnesota Senate, after passing the House last week on a surprising 75-59 vote. Governor Mark Dayton, narrowly elected last November, has been pushing the bill, and has promised to sign it.
During the hearing, Senator Warren Limmer (R) complained that the bill offered little protection for individuals who disagreed with the bill, including teachers. “What about the YMCA’s, the YWCA’s, what about Northwestern College… they fail to have a denominational identity. They are not protected.”
Senator Ron Latz (R) responded to several of the GOP Senators’ complaints, pointing out that the bill was not about the religious definition of marriage, but the civil one. “Marriage is not a uniquely religious event.”
Senator Scott Dibble (D) made another important point. “Organizations that are religiously affilaited that are not taking public funds don’t have to serve anyone.” He pointed out that only religious institutions that did accept public funds would have to serve same sex couples and individuals, just like everyone else, and that it’s true already today under the state’s human rights laws. “We don’t exclude people in the public square.”
An amendment was put forward by Senator Paul Gazelka (R) to extend religious protections to non-church entities, which would have allowed anyone to discriminate against anyone based on any criteria, as long as it was based on religious beliefs. Not that, the amendment was written in such a way that it could potentially bring down the whole law if it was later found to be unconstitutional… basically a poison pill.
The amendment was defeated 41 to 26.
Another amendment, to explicitly retain the terms mother, father, husband and wife in state law, also failed.
During the final deliberations, Senator Jeff Hayden (D), cited his children as inspiration for voting yes, saying they had known same-sex couples their entire lives, and had themselves fought for marriage equality. Hayden, who is African American, also said that his wife is white, and talked about the Loving decision on bi-racial marriage and how it cleared the way for his family to exist. He said to marriage equality opponents “I think everything is going to be ok here in Minnesota.”
Senator Vicki Jensen (D) looked at the Iowa Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, and found it convincing in its argument that marriage equality was a constitutional right, and that any bill in the legislature should not contain a religious point of view or endorsement. She strongly supports the bill.
Senator Scott Reinert (D), a lutheran, had declined to say how he would vote previously, but he cited his lesbian sister, and his parents who taught him to accept others, as his inspiration. He compared this vote to decisions for women’s rights and in favor of bi-racial marriage. He said that every time we’ve faced this kind of decision, our country has come out on the right side. Reinhart, who is single but hopes to marry someday, said “I vote today to recognize for all the very same desires I have for myself. I vote today to recognize the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of public happiness.”
Senator Ron Latz (D) said “God made gays… who are we to quibble with God’s intentions?” He also pointed out that the bible includes descriptions of polygamous marriages, and that marriage has not always been the same.
Overall, the debate was respectful, even when the opponents spoke against the bill. The usual canards were brought up by the opponents – slippery slope; thousands of years of tradition, marriage is about having children, they’re redefining marriage, etc. In fact, most of these points were made in one speech by Senator Dan Hall (R). “We may be changing the course of freedom,” he said, using the standard playbook – if you don’t like something, say it’s taking away your freedom!
But in the end, none of that mattered, and marriage equality prevailed.
Under the new law, gays and lesbians will be able to marry in Minnesota starting on August 1st. Congratulations to Minnesota and the gay and lesbian couples there!
It’s quite a turn-around from two years ago, when the GOP began its effort to put a gay marriage ban on the ballot. The ban failed, part of a sweep for marriage equality advocates that included legalizing or confirming marriage equality in Maine, Maryland and Washington state.
In the last three weeks alone, three states have now passed marriage equality bills, and now all eyes turn to Illinois.