Here’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!
Australia: The parliamentary caucus of the opposition Australian Labor Party is supporting a Sydney lawmaker’s plan to introduce a marriage equality bill. full story
South Africa: A same sex wedding on the cover page of a local newspaper caused a huge uproar in the country on Valentines Day. full story
UK, England/Wales: Couples who are currently in civil partnerships will be able to convert them to marriages by the end of 2014, nine months after the new marriage equality law goes into effect. full story
USA: Attorney General Eric Holder told state AG’s across the country that they don’t have to defend their states’ gay marriage bans. full story
USA, Arizona: A Tucson couple is joining the lawsuit for marriage equality on the state. full story
USA, Georgia: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed wants the state to pass a law recognizing same sex marriages from other states. full story
USA, Illinois: Although same sex couples in Chicago/Cook County are now free to marry after a judge’s ruling, surrounding counties say they have to wait until June 2nd to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. full story
USA, Illinois: Chicago’s Loyola University is banning same sex wedding ceremonies on campus. full story
USA, Indiana: Perhaps frustrated by the delay of the constitutional ban on marriage equality, Indiana GOP House Rep. Eric Turner is pushing a new bill that would allow state contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees. full story
USA, Kansas: LGBT activists are holding another rally this morning to protest the proposed Right to Discriminate law there. full story
USA, Michigan: A group of ministers held a press conference to blast marriage equality before the trial opened. full story
USA, New York: The owner of the Brooklyn Nets, the team that just hired openly gay player Jason Collins, was a candidate for the presidency in Russia and supports LGBT rights. full story
USA, Ohio: The state opposes a request by marriage equality case plaintiffs to expedite the case.full story
LGBTQ Nation reports:
The minority leader of the Alaska Senate on Monday proposed to strike the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Alaska. Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, said that after reading a federal court decision from earlier this month that struck down a voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Virginia, “it was just completely clear to me, that whether we act or we wait for a federal U.S. Supreme Court decision, this is happening. We really are in a long march toward marriage equality.” In a statement, French said passage of his constitutional amendment would let Alaska voters “remove this blot on our state constitution.”
The bill would have to get two-thirds support in both chambers, and then be voted on by the people of Alaska, unlikely with GOP control. But it’s a step in the right direction.
Pink News reports:
The percentage of people opposed to gay relationships in Northern Ireland has dropped from three quarters to a quarter over a period of just 25 years. The NI Life and Times Survey looked at the views of 1,200 people on a range of issues, including whether they agreed with same-sex relationships… 74% of respondents who said they had no religion said they supported same-sex marriage, while 66% of Catholics said they were in favour, and only 45% of Protestants. The survey was carried out by ARK, which is run by Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Ulster.
When will the LGBT people of Northern Ireland be able to marry?
Supporters of same-sex marriage have been quick to condemn Arizona’s “religious freedom” bill as pure homophobia. Not so fast. Unlike earlier legislative efforts to block gay marriage, this law, which would permit businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds, is probably constitutional.
Yet Governor Jan Brewer still shouldn’t sign it. To understand why, let’s look at why personal discrimination is a protected right and business discrimination a social wrong.
Start with the all-important process whereby the religious right has lost the fight over same-sex marriage. In case after case, starting with the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the courts have asked whether there is a legitimate reason for laws restricting marriage to one man and one woman. In the absence of such a reason, any prohibition is held to violate equal protection of the laws.
The appeal was made today to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond shortly after U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen entered her final order in the case. Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George E. Schaefer III, one of the defendants in the case, filed the appeal this afternoon. Not long after that, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also filed an appeal on behalf of another defendant, State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey. “A prompt and fair resolution of this very important issue by the courts is critical,” Schaefer said in a statement. “My personal beliefs on same-sex marriage are not at issue in this case.”
It’s unclear to me why simply not appealing the decision (as happened in New Jersey) was not an option here. Anyone have an explanation?
LGBTQ Nation reports:
Two Detroit-area nurses walked hand-in-hand through a line of protesters Tuesday for a trial that could overturn Michigan’s ban on gay marriage, the latest in a series of marriage-equality challenges across the country… Two weeks have been set aside for testimony. The case began in 2012 when nurses Rowse, 49, and DeBoer, 42, of Hazel Park sued to try to upset a Michigan law that bars them from adopting each other’s children. But the case became even more significant when Friedman invited them to add the same-sex marriage ban to their lawsuit. They argue that Michigan’s constitutional amendment, approved by voters in 2004, violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, which forbids states from treating people differently under the law.
I’ve been alive now for almost 45 years, and I’ve never seen such a rush of lawsuits and rulings on LGBT rights. Truly amazing.
After he signed the draconian anti-gay bill, President Museveni called gays “disgusting and “abnormal”,
In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Zain Verjee, Ugandan President Museveni stated that he found homosexuality ‘disgusting’ and ‘abnormal’. Museveni told Verjee that his message to human rights groups and US President Obama was that they should ‘respect African societies and their values, just the way we don’t interfere with yours. If you don’t agree you just keep quiet. Let us manage our society if we are wrong we will find out by ourselves, just the way we don’t interfere with yours.’ When asked if he personally disliked homosexuals, he commented that ’they are disgusting. What sort of people are they?’ He added: ‘I never knew what they were doing I was told recently. It’s terrible, disgusting but I was ready to ignore that if there was proof that that’s he’s been born abnormal but now the proof is not there.’
A Uganda tabloid immediately publish a list of “Uganda’s Top 200 Homos”.
Emboldened by President Museveni’s signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, Uganda’s Red Pepper tabloid on Tuesday published a list of ‘Uganda’s 200 Top Homos’. It is not the first time the tabloid has done it. Back in October 2010, another tabloid published a similar list and called for death to those listed, inspiring documented attacks on many of those named in the article. It sent many others into hiding. The consequences for those named in the current list could be far worse given the provisions of the draconian bill Museveni signed this week into law.
The UK Government is cutting off aid to the country’s government.
Pink News reports:
The Department for International Development confirmed to PinkNews that the only aid money spent by Britain in Uganda goes to multilateral aid agencies and non-governmental organisations, rather than the Ugandan Government. This means the aid money is spent on helping the people of Uganda without funding the country’s legal and political system.
Three other countries have also cut off aid.
Pink News reports:
Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands have become the first three countries to cut their aid to Uganda following the decision to sign the bill by Museveni. The Netherlands has stopped around £6 million in aid money which was intended for Uganda’s legal system, as the country did not want to contribute to the persecution of gay people. Norway and Denmark have also said they will redirect aid directly to human rights groups, rather than the government. This is the same policy which the British Department for International Development, which provides aid directly to organisations such as the UN, World Bank and Amnesty International.
Sweden’s Finance Minister met with LGBT activists in Uganda.
Edge Boston reports:
Sweden’s finance minister has visited a group of gay activists in Uganda, lending his support to their plight after the country’s president signed an anti-gay bill that punishes gay sex with up to life in prison. Anders Borg, who is in Uganda to discuss economic growth in east Africa, told Radio Sweden on Tuesday he met with the activists immediately upon arriving in the country.
The Obama Administration will review the US relationship with Uganda in the wake of the anti gay bill being signed.
The Washington Blade reports:
The Obama administration on Monday said it is reviewing its relationship with Uganda after the country’s president signed a bill into law that would impose a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. “The United States will undertake a review of its relationship with Uganda,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told the Washington Blade during his daily press briefing. “I don’t have any outcomes to predict to you because we’re undertaking a review now.”
In DC, LGBT activists served the Ugandan embassy with an “eviction notice.”
Today in Washington D.C. and Springfield, MA – and many other locales worldwide we hope! – activists reacted to this morning’s signing of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, better known as Kill The Gays, by President Museveni with action. An eviction notice was served in D.C. suggesting useful re-purposing of Ambassador Wonekha and her Embassy staff as follows: “To go home to Uganda and work tirelessly for human rights for all Ugandans, including the kuchu community, to mitigate any violence and persecution resulting from this new unjust law, and to work for the law’s repeal.”
And US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke out forcefully against the new laew.
This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights. Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law. The United States is deeply disappointed in the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. For the four years since the bill was introduced, we have been crystal clear that it blatantly violates human rights obligations that Uganda’s Human Rights Commission itself has recognized are enshrined in Uganda’s Constitution. Today’s signing threatens a dangerous slide backward in Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and a serious threat to the LGBT community in Uganda.
It’s a dark day for LGBT rights, but especially so for Uganda’s LGBT community. We must all stand in solidarity with them. No more aid to the Ugandan Government.
Apple computer suggested there would be consequences if Arizona presses ahead with the bill.
Earlier today we reported that the Arizona Chamber of Commerce was leading a call for Governor Jan Brewer to veto SB 1062, the heinous bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs. Companies have been signing on all day and now Apple has joined the 83 other companies calling for a veto of the bill, the Arizona Capitol Times reports:
Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said the governor spoke on the phone with the company. The request comes as Apple prepares to open a new sapphire glass manufacturing plant in Mesa. The plant, which Brewer and other political leaders have touted as economic development coup for Arizona, will employ about 700 full-time employees.
Marriot is also against the bill:
“…our Arizona properties have seen a slow and steady recovery in both leisure and business stays since the end of the recession. We have serious concerns that passage of SB 1062 would undermine – or worsen counteract – that progress. This legislation has the potential to subject our state to travel boycotts by both individual leisure travelers and groups looking to hold meetings here.”
American Airlines is against it, too:
Few states suffered as greatly during the recession as Arizona. Thanks to a collaborative effort between the business and civic communities, we have been able to generate an economic comeback that is beginning to show great signs of success. There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far. Wholly apart from the stated intent of this legislation, the reality is that it has the very real potential of slowing down the momentum we have achieved by reducing the desire of businesses to locate in Arizona and depressing the travel and tourism component of the economy if both convention traffic and individual tourists decide to go elsewhere. Our economy thrives best when the doors of commerce are open to all. This bill sends the wrong message.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is suggesting the NFL move the Super Bowl out of Arizona if the Governor signs the bill.
If they pass this law and if she signs it, it would seem to me that the NFL may be looking, or should be looking, to move the Super Bowl out of that state. Because, you know, there’s so many places around the country that are welcoming to everybody. I’ll put it this way; I want to make it clear that Delaware is a very welcoming place; Four years ago, five years ago, we actually passed a law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s puzzling to me other states would be looking at it differently.
Even some of the folks who voted for it are having second thoughts.
This morning I reported that Arizona GOP state Sen. Mike Pierce has flip-flopped and is now calling for a veto of the hate bill that he voted for last week. Add two more GOP state senators to the list. Via LGBTQ Nation: Sen. Bob Worsley says he and Sens. Adam Driggs and Steve Pierce sent a letter to Brewer Monday asking her to strike down the legislation allowing business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays. Worsley says he was uncomfortable when he voted for the bill. Both he and Pierce called their votes a mistake. The legislation passed last week. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is requesting a veto because of fears it will hurt tourism.
And Representative John Kavanagh, who was basically destroyed on Anderson Cooper’s show last week as he clung to his talking points, thinks Brewer will likely veto the bill.
Michelangelo Signorile has tipped me that GOP Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh, who was destroyed by Anderson Cooper on Friday, has refused to appear on Signorile’s SiriusXM show today, saying that he believes the hate bill will be vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer. SiriusXM producer Sean Bertollo recaps the conversation for us: I reached out to his office and spoke with Mary. She was to call me back to confirm whether or not he’d join us on the show. She called back and said to me, paraphrasing here, “Rep. Kavanagh is declining the interview.” I said, “Oh, that’s too bad, why…” She said “The bill has been vetoed.” I asked, “Ooh, the Religious Liberty bill was vetoed already?” She said, “No, but he feels as though it will be vetoed and they will have to take it up next session.” I finished, said that was too bad we couldn’t get him on the show, and then thanked her for the time.
US Senator John McCain joined the other Arizona Senator, Jeff Flake, in calling for a veto via twitter:
“I hope Governor Brewer will veto #SB1062″
On the other side, the Alliance Defending Freedom defended the bill.
Opponents of the proposed amendment to Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act are putting the people of Arizona in a high-risk disaster zone when it comes to their First Amendment freedoms. In America, we live by the basic principle that you don’t forfeit your religious freedom just because you step outside the four walls of your home. Congress passed the federal RFRA, the legislation after which the Arizona RFRA is modeled, for that very purpose. But the federal RFRA only applies to the federal government, and thus, a number of states, including Arizona, enacted their own versions to ensure this religious protection for their citizens.
Arizona’s RFRA, as it currently stands, does not contain the necessary specificity regarding who can use RFRA for protection if the government discriminates against them because of their religious faith. Contrary to the voices that oppose protecting religious freedom for all Arizonans, Senate Bill 1062 and House Bill 2153, which were approved last week, will not allow people to do “whatever they want” in the name of religion. The use of the amended RFRA will only come into play when the government’s law inhibits someone from freely acting in accordance with his or her faith, as has always been the case. And even then, sincerely held religious beliefs will continue to be balanced against state interests. So, Arizona will always be able to make certain things — like murder — crimes even if someone says that his religious beliefs require him to kill someone.
So that’s where they’re claiming this bill draws the line? At murder? Seriously?
And Tony Perkins basically conforms that the bill could be used for just about anything, claiming the left is trying to make it all about gay marriage.
Work isn’t a ‘faith-free zone’ — but try telling that to Arizona liberals. There, the Left’s propaganda machine is in full force, cranking out one distortion after the next in what should be a non-controversial debate over religious liberty. The hysteria started late last week, when the state’s legislature gave the green light to a bill that protects business owners and other for-profit entities from being forced to provide a service that violates their beliefs. Unfortunately, the Left is looking at the bill through the skewed lens of same-sex ‘marriage,’ instead of the many ways it could be applied to shield Americans of all faiths from religious censorship or coercion. They claim the measure would be used to deny homosexuals service of any kind — which is a selective reading meant to scare people into opposing a reasonable bill. But real equality — the kind the Left insists it wants — demands that everyone, not just a vocal few, have the ability to live and work according to their conscience. If you’re against the Arizona bill, then you’re really against First Amendment rights. Arizonans will find out in the next day or two which side Governor Jan Brewer (R) is on. The state’s leader has until Friday to decide if Arizona will push back on the oppression of religious liberty — or join it.
When in fact, what we’ve been saying is that it’s not about gay marriage – it’s i fact much broader than that, and there lies the real danger.
Meanwhile, Anderson Cooper took down another anti gay Arizona representative, who claimed that there is no discrimination in Arizona.
On AC360 tonight, Anderson Cooper confronted Arizona State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Al Melvin about SB 1062, the bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs. Constitutional law professor Kenji Yoshino joined the debate and spent the segment rebutting Melvin’s arguments. Melvin either didn’t appear to know or didn’t want to admit that his state can already fire someone for being gay because sexual orientation is not included in the state’s anti-discrimination statutes. Melvin also coiuldn’t give an incredulous Anderson Cooper a single instance in which someone has been discriminated against based on their religious beliefs.
Go, Anderson, go!
Governor Brewer is still holding her cards close to the vest.
Dana Bash interviewed Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in Washington DC today about what she planned to do with SB 1062, the bill awaiting herat home that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs.
Said Brewer: “I’m going to go home, and when I receive the bill, I’m going to read it and I’m going to be briefed on it. We have been following it. And I will make my decision in the near future.” Bash also brought up the fact that nearly 100 businesses were now publicly urging her to veto but would not show her hand:
“I have a history of deliberating and having an open dialogue on bills that are controversial, to listen to both sides of those issues, and I welcome the input, and information that they can provide to me. And certainly I am pro-business, and that is what’s turning our economy around, so I appreciate their input, as I appreciate the other side.”
Again, the question. Will she or won’t she?
This is late breaking news out of California, but it appears that, following a final hand-count of signatures submitted by a coalition of anti-trans groups seeking to force an initiative to repeal of the State of California’s Student Success and Opportunity Act, the drive to place the Act on the ballot has FAILED by more than 17,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot!
The Advocate reports:
An attempt to repeal California’s recently implemented transgender student law has been shot down after conservative organizations failed to turn in the necessary 504,760 valid signatures to qualify the issue for a referendum.
Proponents of the repeal, who had formed a coalition deceptively named Privacy for All Students,came up short, only collecting 487,760 valid signatures, leaving the repeal effort 17,276 short of the required 504,760 to qualify the issue to appear before voters in the November election.
As a result, California’s Student Success and Opportunity Act will remain in force. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of a student’s gender identity and guarantees that trans students can participate in the gender-segregated sports and have access to facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The law, also known as Assembly Bill 1266, cleared the State Assembly by a vote of 46-25 and passed through the Senate by a vote of 21-9 before being signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in August of last year. The law went into effect January 1.
The group behind the petition drive, Privacy for All Students, however, is not giving up:
“[Privacy for All Students] is anxious to challenge any signature that has been unfairly thrown out,” reads the message. “We are prepared to [challenge the signatures thrown out] again, as many times as we need to, until every valid signature is counted and the referendum qualifies for the ballot.”
HRC President Chad Griffin is ecstatic.
“The forces of discrimination tried to go after California’s LGBT young people, and it’s a sign of our progress that they fell short of their goal,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement. “Yet unfortunately there are groups out there that are actively working to make the lives of LGBT youth harder. This law does nothing more than safeguard transgender students from being excluded and ensures all students are provided the same opportunities — regardless of gender identity.”
As mentioned earlier, the law has been in effect since January 1st of this year.
GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman (yes, that Jack Burkman) announced Monday that he is preparing a piece of legislation which, if enacted would ban openly gay players from joining the National Football League.
In a statement, Burkman said,
”We are losing our decency as a nation. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”
He also added, ”if the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it.”
Burkman alleges that up to five Republican Representatives and one Senator are “interested” in co-sponsoring the proposed bill, according to his words. Even more ridiculously, he claims that the number of co-sponsoring Representatives and Senators once the bill is introduced could rise to as high as 36 and five, respectively.
If introduced, the bill stands no chance whatsoever of passing either chamber, and would almost assuredly be laughed out of the building by President Obama should it somehow manage to reach his desk.
P.S. Hey, guys! My name is Tyler and I am ecstatic to be joining the Gay Marriage Watch crew, having answered Scott’s “Help Wanted” post earlier. I look forward to hearing from you all!