NewsBriefs - February 15
February 18, 2008
by Bradley Osborn
Iowa Lawmakers Enlist ADF to Overturn Marriage Ruling
Five Iowa legislators - Dwayne Alons, Carmine Boal, Betty DeBoef, Nancy Boettger and James Hahn - have asked the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the appeal of Varnum v. Brien, the Iowa case that overturned the portion of an Iowa law that prohibited same-sex marriage. The ADF is a right wing Christian organization behind the Supreme Court case validating discrimination by the Boy Scouts of America. Among its other anti-LGBT endeavors is its sponsorship of the Day of Truth.
Kentucky Bill Would Ban Same-Sex Partner Benefits
On January 30, the Kentucky Senate approved a bill (30-5) that would bar the state's public colleges and universities from extending benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees. Gov. Steve Beshear said he would veto the bill should it pass the House.
Proposed Tennessee Law: Don't Mention the Gays
Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) filed a bill in the Tennessee House of Representatives at the end of January that aims to prevent "any instruction or materials discussing sexual orientation other than heterosexuality" in public elementary and middle schools. In the past, Campfield had proposed legislation that would have replaced the state's food tax with a tax on pornography, and he wanted to require the state to issue death certificates for aborted fetuses.
Appeals Court OKs Canadian Marriage of Rochester Couple
Saying there is no legal impediment in New York to the recognition of a same-sex marriage, a state appellate court ruled February 1 that New York should honor the 2004 legal Canadian marriage of Patricia Martinez and Lisa Ann Golden. The case that led to the ruling began after Golden was denied coverage on Martinez's Monroe Community College health insurance policy.
Florida: Rainbows and Amendments
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Ponce de Leon High School for First Amendment infringement after officials allegedly denied straight teen Heather Gillman and other students the right to wear or display rainbow-colored T-shirts or stickers and pink triangles.
Also in the Sunshine State: Those anti-marriage folks at Florida4Marriage.org made up their deficit of signatures in time for the February 1 deadline. This means that in addition to having an Obama or Clinton versus McCain choice in November, Floridians will have to decide if they want to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage.
Deeps in Oregon
A federal judge removed the stay that was placed on a new domestic partner statute in Oregon. Same-sex couples may now proceed to the altar.
Attorney General Reverses Ashcroft Gay Rule
In 2003, Attorney General John Ashcroft told members of DOJ Pride that they were barred from using e-mail, bulletin boards and meeting rooms at the Department of Justice to promote their group, and the former Missouri governor and senator prohibited the organization from holding its annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Month celebration on site.
2008: Current Attorney General Michael Mukasey has reversed that decision. Mukasey issued a revised equal-employment-opportunity policy barring discrimination against any group, saying the department will "foster an environment in which diversity is valued, understood and sought" and maintain "an environment that's free of discrimination."
Salt Lake City Passes Partner Registry
The City Council of Salt Lake City, Utah, unanimously approved a proposal for a citywide partner registry. The registration certificates could be used to verify relationships for domestic partner health insurance and other benefits to companies that officer them. Registered couples will also have visitation rights at city hospitals and family rights at city facilities.
Upon announcing the suspension of his efforts to seek the Republican Party nomination for U.S. president, Mitt Romney had the following to say about our families:
"The development of a child is enhanced by having a mother and father. Such a family is the ideal for the future of the child and for the strength of a nation. I wonder how it is that unelected judges, like some in my state of Massachusetts, are so unaware of this reality, so oblivious to the millennia of recorded history. It is time for the people of America to fortify marriage through constitutional amendment, so that liberal judges cannot continue to attack it!"
Mormon Hat Trick
In a third piece of Latter-day Saints-related news, Affirmation, a group for gay Mormons, is seeking an audience with the new LDS president and his counselors. The invitation to Thomas S. Monson reads, "Although there are many areas of hurt and disagreement that have separated us, there are many more areas on which we can find agreement, and in doing so, become a blessing in the lives of many of the Saints, both straight and gay."
Monson assumed church leadership on February 3 after the death of Gordon B. Hinckley on January 27.
In early February, Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto said that he supports same-sex marriage. Acting Cuban President Ra?l Castro recently relaxed speech restrictions, allowing cubanos to speak their minds without fear of reprisal.
Results from an Instituto Opina survey released in January showed that nearly three-quarters of respondents have no problem with the 2005 law that legalized same-sex marriage in Spain. Only 18 percent want it repealed.
According to Human Rights Watch, the government of Egypt is arbitrarily arresting HIV-positive men, charging them with "habitual practice of debauchery," and incarcerating them without proper medical treatment.
Member of Knesset Nissim Ze'ev has been quoted as saying that a "gay plague" could destroy Israel. Ze'ev not only wants to permanently bar gay pride marches in Jerusalem, but he also suggests establishing rehabilitation centers to suppress sexual tendencies of homosexuals, calling gays "dangerous."