Friday, April 30, 2010

Via Belirico: Potential SCOTUS Nominee Leah Sears: Underestimated Hostility to LGBT Families

The Alliance for Justice released reports Wednesday on thirteen possible nominees for the Supreme Court position being vacated by Justice Stevens. The Alliance for Justice is my favorite Washington DC-based group. (This year they are honoring long-time gay rights activist Urvashi Vaid at their spring luncheon, and cast members from Law and Order will be there -- so get your tickets now!)

Leah Sears appears on the AFJ list, and the report includes her connection to the Institute for American Values (IAV) and an op-ed she wrote as reasons to be concerned about her commitment to marriage equality and the right of same-sex couples to raise children.

I think the AFJ does not go far enough.

Continue reading "Potential SCOTUS Nominee Leah Sears: Underestimated Hostility to LGBT Families" »

From Belirico: Of buses and passports

This is a true story.I emigrated to Canada in 1987 and obtained my citizenship - and, important to this story, my Canadian passport - in 1991. That November, I was invited to New York to meet some friends for American Thanksgiving, and, money being a bit tight, I opted to travel by Greyhound bus.

We got to the border in the middle of the night and were rudely and pointedly awakened by a border guard who came on, armed to the teeth, to tell us to get out documentation out and ready for inspection. I generally traveled with both my US and Canadian passport (because I was one of those who, during a brief legal window, could hold dual citizenship), but I couldnt find the former in my backpack. Still, I had my Canadian one, so I figured no big deal.

Wrong.

Continue reading "Of buses and passports" »

Via JMG: The Dancing Soldiers Of Afghanistan

JMG reader Bernard tips us that the Smoking Gun has all the dirt about the dancing soldiers in the Lady Gaga tribute clip that I posted yesterday. Your favorite's real name is Aaron Melcher.
The video was the brainchild of Aaron Melcher, a married 24-year-old soldier who graduated in 2004 from North Carolina's Gramercy Christian School. Melcher opens the video in a pas de deux, of sorts, with fellow enlistee Justin Baker, who is not nearly as enthusiastic a dancer as the gyrating Melcher, who incorporated elements of the original video's choreography in his desert remake. Melcher declined to answer questions. The video, he noted, was intended to be for "a couple of our friends and family and you can see that it has blown up way more than that...nobody in the video would like any further media coverage." When he first uploaded "Telephone: The Afghanistan Re-make," Melcher told Facebook friends to "feel free to share it with the world." He added, "it's the hotness." Melcher and several of his fellow soldiers have carefully monitored the spiraling number of views their video has received. On Wednesday, Pilon posted a brief update on his Facebook wall: "5,000 views...I'm going to be Famous!!!"
Lots more pics at the above link. The clip currently has almost 200K views.

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reposted from JMG

Via JMG: UNANIMOUS VOTES: Anti-Bullying Bills Pass In Massachusetts And Georgia

Anti-bullying bills passed yesterday in both Massachusetts and Georgia! Both bills passed unanimously.

Massachusetts
:
Invoking the suicides of Phoebe Prince and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, lawmakers unanimously approved a sweeping measure to crack down on school bullying, saying its strict requirements for reporting student harassment make it one of the nation’s toughest. Yesterday’s legislation emerged with broad prohibitions against any actions that could cause emotional or physical harm, including text messages and taunting over the Internet. It also mandates antibullying training, for faculty as well as students, and requires that parents be informed of incidents at school.
Georgia:
The Georgia Senate voted 44-0 tonight to approve an anti-bullying measure that was backed by LGBT political group Georgia Equality. Senate Bill 250 squeaked in under the wire to receive a vote in the hectic final hours of the annual 40-day state legislative session. The measure's anti-bullying provisions originated in the state House, and appeared destined for failure this session until Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Atlanta) was able to maneuver to have them added as an amendment to the Senate legislation. SB 250, sponsored by state Sen. Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton), was approved in the Senate last March and originally dealt only with “unlawful disruption of or interference with the operation of public schools or public school buses.”
Both state's bills are expected to be signed into law by their governors.

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a repost from JMG

Via JMG: Where ENDA Stands In The Senate

Dr. Jillian Weiss at Bilerico tips us to the above graphic on the status of ENDA in the Senate. Have you lobbied YOUR Reps and Senators about ENDA today? Do it now. Weiss points us to this ENDA spreadsheet which assesses the position of every member of Congress.

RELATED: The Family Research Council issued another desperate money plea to fight ENDA today.
If ENDA becomes law, the government will order businesses -- including faith-based businesses -- to cast aside their personal beliefs and hire homosexuals and cross-dressers, even if the employer considers these lifestyles immoral and inappropriate for their business. Even groups like the Boy Scouts and child care providers aren't exempt from the bill's oppressive demands. Worse still, ENDA will make it easier for activist judges to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act -- the most important protection for marriage that exists in our country! I know that because the most powerful open homosexual in the Obama administration says it will: John Berry, the director of the federal personnel office, says: "If we can get ENDA enacted and signed into law, it is only a matter of time" before pro-family, pro-marriage laws topple under its weight. You see, ENDA is just one step in the homosexual lobby's methodical plan to demand special rights for homosexuals...force the military to accept open homosexuality in its ranks...and ultimately redefine marriage for our entire nation.

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a repost via JMG

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Via 365gay: Culhane: The paradox of legal gay unions

, Professor of Law, Widener University

In late 2000, David and I traveled to Vermont to enter into a civil union. At the time, this “marriage in all but name” alternative was the only legal option available for same-sex couples who wanted state recognition of their unions.

As we crossed the state line from Vermont back into New York at the end of an unforgettable weekend, David looked at the wedding rings newly at home on our hands and said: “Well, they didn’t disappear.”

Over the years, I’ve thought about that statement from time to time. On the level that matters most, the comment is dead-on: Our marriage crosses and transgresses many lines, both spatial and transcendent, and in that sense isn’t dependent on any state’s laws.

But we could have made such a commitment without the state’s (secular) blessing, so we obviously cared about the legal recognition.

And when it comes to the legal effect of our union, we and other same-sex couples find ourselves living on Bizarro Earth, where logic is shelved and results are backward. Let me explain how David’s statement is both right and wrong from the legal perspective.

Gay and lesbian couples married (or civilly united) in a given state may find that their unions, paradoxically, have little or no legal weight but may also be impossible to exit.

The first part of this problem is well-known. A gay couple married in, say, Massachusetts does have the state-conferred benefits of marriage, but only as long as they remain in that state. If they move to a state that doesn’t recognize their union – in other words, most states – their marriage doesn’t exist. So they can’t file state joint income tax returns, gain any exemption from estate taxes that might be available to opposite-sex couples, visit each other in the hospital, and on and on.

Even if they don’t move, the rings they wear might figuratively vanish on an out-of-state vacation – in addition to the hospital visit problem, a surviving spouse might not be able to sue a negligent motorist for the wrongful death of her partner.

And even if the couple remains in the state until they day they die, the evil Defense of Marriage Act – the repeal of which appears to have disappeared from sight – means that their marriage is a nullity for federal purposes.

But recent developments in Texas and Pennsylvania remind us that same-sex marriages are even harder to get out of than they are sometimes legally useless to be in.

As a lawyer, one of the unpleasant thoughts that has intruded on me is that my civil union wouldn’t enable a “civil divorce” (now there’s an oxymoron) in our home state of Pennsylvania, even if the day ever came that we wanted to take that sad step. Vermont, like virtually all states, has this strange dichotomy: Out-of-staters can travel there to marry, but can only dissolve their unions by becoming residents for a period of time (usually six months or one year).

That’s not a problem in most cases, because a divorce entered into in one state will be recognized in another. A straight couple married in Vermont can divorce in any state, and Vermont will give that divorce decree full faith and credit.

Not so for our unions. A few years ago, a friend who’d also gotten civilly united in Vermont called me, almost in tears, because her partner had met someone else and now her union needed to be dissolved.

But the pain of her personal loss was being compounded by the fact that she didn’t see a way out of her situation. Unable to move to Vermont, she found herself trapped in a nightmare that not even The Marriage Ref could solve.

Luckily for her, she was wrong. The two women live in New Jersey, and because of that state’s more progressive legislation and courts, a judge was willing to dissolve the union and allow the parties to get on with their lives. That wouldn’t have happened in most states, including the one just across the Delaware River.

Down in Texas, the trial judge’s decision to allow a gay couple to divorce was challenged by the Attorney General, and the appellate court heard arguments on the messy matter last week. The easiest thing would be for the court to hold that granting the divorce would simply be recognizing that the marriage was valid in the state where it was celebrated (Massachusetts, in this case). The court might take that approach, just to avoid getting swamped by the constitutional wave that would otherwise crash down on it.

What if the divorce isn’t recognized? There’s a procedure called a “voidance,” but the remedies and division of property aren’t as reliable in those cases. So the two men won’t be able to close the circuit cleanly, and may find themselves in a confusing and stressful tangle for years to come.

When will this change?

————

John Culhane is Professor of Law and Director of the Health Law Institute at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. He blogs about the role of law in everyday life, and about a bunch of other things (LGBT rights, public health, biology, sports, pop culture, philosophy and lots of personal stuff) at http://wordinedgewise.org A fuller bio is here. This week, he is blogging the week-long Equality Forum from Philadelphia. Each day features a new post on the panels from the night before.


Soldiers in Afghanistan interpret Lady Gaga in between missions. DADT must be working, clearly this was done without any gay help. Cute enough, though.


(Tipped by JMG reader Ted)

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reposted from JMG

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Via JMG: Quote Of The Day - Laura Bush

"In 2004 the social question that animated the campaign was gay marriage. Before the election season had unfolded, I had talked to George about not making gay marriage a significant issue. We have, I reminded him, a number of close friends who are gay or whose children are gay. But at that moment I could never have imagined what path this issue would take and where it would lead.” - Laura Bush, writing in her forthcoming memoir.

The path this issue took, of course, was Laura's husband using the issue of gay marriage to demonize millions of gay Americans. Despite his "close gay friends."

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a repost via JMG

Via JMG: June 16th: Prop 8 Closing Arguments

Perry vs. Schwarzenegger Judge Vaughn Walker has set June 16th as the date for the closing arguments. Hilariously, Protect Marriage now wants to suppress the damning testimony of their own witness. Via Prop 8 Trial Tracker:
But besides setting a date for closing arguments, Judge Walker set a date for the defense counsel to submit their motion to suppress at least part of Dr. Tam’s testimony. As you recall, Dr. Tam was the right-wing San Francisco minister who believed that his kids will turn gay if marriage equality was allowed to remain. We’ll find out on May 7th how much of the testimony they want stricken from the record, and what is their basis. Our side will have until May 10th to then file an objection.

So what happens if Dr. Tam’s testimony is taken out? Dr. Tam was powerful evidence that Prop 8 was driven by animus and a hatred of homosexuals, which would be enough to strike Prop 8 — even under the more lenient “rational basis” grounds set up in Romer v. Evans (1996.) But while Dr. Tam’s testimony is damning and it should be kept in, there was a whole lot of other evidence that our side presented. In fact, when it came time for the defense to produce their “experts,” there wasn’t a whole lot of reason they could provide.
Although Walker is unlikely to render his verdict in time, I suppose there's a chance of a very big celebration come Pride.

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reposted via JMG

SESSÃO HISTÓRICA

28 de abril de 2010 | N° 16319Alerta

SESSÃO HISTÓRICA

STJ permite adoção por casal gay

Decisão unânime cria precedente para que casais homossexuais adotem filhos em conjunto Luciana Reis Maidana, mãe, ao lado de outra mulher, de dois meninos adotivos

Um casal homossexual de Bagé obteve ontem no Superior Tribunal de Justiça (STJ) uma vitória que muda a história do direito de família no Brasil. A psicóloga Luciana Reis Maidana, 36 anos, e a fisioterapeuta Lídia Brignol Guterres, 44 anos, tiveram confirmado o direito de compartilhar a adoção de dois meninos, de seis e sete anos. A decisão, unânime, cria precedente para que outros casais gays adotem filhos em conjunto.

Éa primeira vez que um tribunal superior reconhece o direito. Até agora, os casais homossexuais driblavam a legislação, aproveitando a brecha que permite a solteiros adotar. Adotavam juntos, mas apenas um dos companheiros aparecia nos registros como pai ou mãe. Foi o que aconteceu com as lésbicas de Bagé. Juntas há 13 anos, elas adotaram um menino em 2002 e outro em 2003. Na certidão de nascimento, ambos, hoje com seis e sete anos, apareciam apenas como filhos de Luciana. Com a decisão do STJ, passa a ser oficialmente reconhecido que os meninos têm duas mães.

Os próprios ministros do STJ reconheceram como inovadora a sua decisão. O parecer deles foi de que deve prevalecer o interesse da criança.

– Esse julgamento é muito importante para dar dignidade ao ser humano, para o casal e para as crianças. Se não for dada a adoção, as crianças não terão direito a plano de saúde, herança e em caso de separação ou morte podem ficar desamparadas – disse o relator, Luis Felipe Salomão.

O caso tramitava desde 2005, quando a Vara de Infância e Juventude de Bagé permitiu a Luciana e Lídia o registro dos meninos. O Ministério Público Estadual recorreu. Na época, o promotor da cidade André Barbosa de Borba justificou afirmando que a adoção conjunta só seria permitida em caso de casamento ou união estável. Ele afirmava que, como não havia lei regulamentando a união entre pessoas do mesmo sexo, a adoção seria irregular. Em 2006, Luciana e Lídia obtiveram nova vitória, no Tribunal de Justiça do Estado, que reconheceu a entidade familiar. O MP, porém, voltou a recorrer, o que levou o caso para Brasília.

O ministro Luis Felipe Salomão explicou ontem que o laudo da assistência social recomendou a adoção, assim como parecer do Ministério Público Federal. A expectativa é de que a decisão do STJ abra caminho para uma legislação que reconheça o direito de adoção por homossexuais.

– Não estamos legislando. A lei sempre veio a posteriori – disse o presidente da quarta turma do STJ, ministro João Otávio de Noronha.

Luciane e Lídia não são o único casal homossexual a obter o direito a adoção na Justiça, mas são o primeiro a obter sentença favorável em um tribunal superior. A defensora pública Patrícia Aléssio, que defende Luciane e Lídia desde o início, observa que outros casos não chegaram a Brasília porque, em geral, promotores e procuradores do MP têm concordado com as decisões dos tribunais – o que não ocorreu no caso de Bagé.

Por que é importante

- Ela cria precedente para pedidos de adoção semelhantes.

- A lei permite que uma pessoa solteira adote. É por esse caminho que homossexuais podem obter o direito. Mas a criança fica registrada como filha de apenas um dos integrantes do casal. Em caso de morte ou separação do adotante oficial, acaba desamparada.

- Com a adoção conjunta, a criança não volta a ser considerada órfã em caso de morte do adotante principal. Também tem garantia de direitos como pensão em caso de separação ou herança.

O RECURSO DO MP

- O MP argumenta que, pela legislação, pode adotar em conjunto só quem é casado ou vive em união estável. Segundo os promotores, uma união entre duas mulheres não configura entidade familiar.

O ARGUMENTO DO STJ

- O ministro Noronha observou que a adoção por um casal gay não é proibida por lei.

- Segundo ele, nenhum dispositivo legal foi violado, porque o Código Civil não veda a adoção e não há nenhuma norma proibindo a adoção por casais homossexuais.

Multimídia


Today's double post via BuzzFlash:

Arizona Shows Us What Tyranny Looks Like. I Am Opposed.

Fight Tyranny. Forward This to a Friend

I am opposed to the assault on our Constitution and democracy that Governor Jan Brewer signed into law last week. It is not just an effort to keep Mexicans from entering the United States; it is an attack on the civil rights and liberties of every American.

I stand firmly opposed to this law and fully support its repeal and finding that it is Unconstitutional.

Click Here To Join Our Declaration

According to one summary of the draconian Arizona law, advanced by right wing "Minute Men" and other forces of darkness in our society:

"It requires police officers, 'when practicable,' to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder an investigation or emergency medical treatment."

"It also makes it a state crime — a misdemeanor — to not carry immigration papers. In addition, it allows people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced."

This is both racial profiling and puts me personally at risk for being detained by police officers who might be suspicious of my origins.

I am an American, and I say to the Governor and legislature of Arizona, "Don't Tread on Me."

Click Here To Join Our Declaration

The law also makes it a criminal offense not to have papers showing that you are American.

This is a violation of our civil rights.

I am a proud citizen of the United States.

"Don't Tread on Me" on Arizona.

Click Here To Join Our Declaration

Sincerely,
The Advocacy Team at BuzzFlash

Fight Tyranny. Forward This to a Friend

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vua JMG: Family Research Council: ENDA Will Turn America Into Canada

Storm clouds! Spinning graphics! Ominous drumbeats! OMFG MAPLE LEAFS!!!


(Via - Good As You)

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a classic repost via JMG

Via JMG: CA Assembly Ends Search For "Gay Cure"

By unanimous vote, the California Assembly has repealed the archaic law requiring research into a "cure" for homosexuality.
Part of a decades-old state law that characterized homosexuality as a sexual deviation that must be cured is no longer on the books. The law was written in 1950 and classifies gay people as sexual deviants. It requires the state to conduct research to find the causes of sex crimes against children and singles out homosexuals as a group that should be researched. The department no longer conducts such research, but the law remained on the books. Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said the changes make the law read as it should have 60 years ago. She said California is now "setting things right."
The bill now goes to the state Senate. "Ex-gay" lunatics PFOX continue to oppose the repeal.

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a repost via JMG

Monday, April 26, 2010

Via 365gay: Our story: DOMA makes us feel erased


Bette Jo and Jo Ann became friends as college students in 1960. They reconnected 20 years later in Massachusetts, and fell in love. After 23 years as a couple, they were legally married on June 7, 2004 in the garden of their Jamaica Plain home.

Bette Jo, 68, retired last year after a 35-year career as a labor and delivery nurse. Jo Ann, also 68, still works part-time as a garden educator. But both are deeply involved in supporting their community full-time.

jump here to read the full story




GetEQUAL Rally Lafayette Square DC 12PM Sun May 2

Via JMG: Elton John Writes Letter To Ryan White On 20th Anniversary Of His Death

On the 20th anniversary of Ryan White's death from AIDS, Elton John has written Ryan a letter. From the Washington Post, an excerpt:

Ryan, I wish you could know how much the world has changed since 1990, and how much you changed it. Young boys and girls with HIV attend school and take medicine that allows them to lead normal lives. Children in America are seldom born with the virus, and they no longer contract it through transfusions. The insults and injustices you suffered are not tolerated by society.

Most important, Ryan, you inspired awareness, which helped lead to lifesaving treatments. In 1990, four months after you died, Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act, which now provides more than $2 billion each year for AIDS medicine and treatment for half a million Americans. Today, countless people with HIV live long, productive lives. It breaks my heart that you are not one of them. You were 18 when you died, and you would be 38 this year, if only the current treatments existed when you were sick. I think about this every day, because America needs your message of compassion as never before.


After the deaths of Ryan White and his good friend Freddy Mercury, in 1992 Elton founded the Atlanta-based Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has since raised hundreds of millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS research. This Wednesday the foundation will host an event in Ryan White's honor in Indianapolis.

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a repost lifted from JMG

Betty White's SNL Promo!

Via JMG: The Senate Armed Services Committee: Where They Stand On Repeal Of DADT

GetEQUAL sends us the above grid detailing the known (and unknown) DADT positions of Senators that serve on the Armed Services Committee. GetEQUAL: "These are very important targets to go after in the next 30 days with non-violent direct action and civil disobedience. It is of utmost importance that you contact ALL these Senators and express the importance of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." They suggest using these talking points when calling the above Senators.

VIDEO: Members of GetEQUAL visit the offices of some Senators. (The audio doesn't kick in for a few seconds.)

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reposted from JMG

From BoxTurtle: Liechtenstein introduces same-sex couple bill

From the Italian site Queerblog (Google translation):

Aurelia Frick, Minister of Justice of Liechtenstein, had promised that by summer 2010, the Principality will give itself a law that recognizes same-sex couples. Now the Government submitted the bill to Parliament which is expected to be treated de facto unions to heterosexual marriages as regards inheritance, social security, retirement pensions, immigration and naturalization, and other tax matters. Remain outside the law and adoptions that access to artificial insemination.

I am not certain whether this is a civil marriage bill, allowable on the same terms as heterosexual marriage, or if it is just the granting of limited rights to de facto couples.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Via JMG: This Week In Holy Crimes

Over the last seven days...

Maryland: Pastor Jerry Darnell Bartley charged with molesting a 13 year old boy.
Maine: Pastor Colin Haag and his wife arrested for kidnapping his wife's children from their biological father.
Wisconsin: The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has filed a 55-page lawsuit against the Pope for shielding the crimes of pedophile priests.
Tennessee: Father Bill Casey arrested for molesting a 10 year old boy.
Brazil: Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa arrested on multiple counts of child molestation.
Wisconsin: Pastor Leonard Van Vlaenderen charged with embezzling from his church.
Indiana: Court rules that Father Francis Markey can be extradited to Ireland to face charges of child molestation.
Alaska: Pastor Shawn Anthony Justice charged with 12 counts of sexual abuse of a female minor.
Wisconsin: Pastor John West charged with conspiracy to sell heroin.
Texas: Pastor Robert John Weber charged with ten counts of sexual assault on a 15 year old girl.
Indiana: Pastor Ernest M. Beal Jr charged with stealing the trust funds of residents of the group home for mentally challenged adults that he manages.
Illinois: Father Alejandro Flores charged with molesting an 8 year old boy. Flores is already in jail awaiting trial for molesting the boy's older brother.
Ireland: Father Eugene Lewis charged with 11 counts of sexual assault on three pre-teen sisters.
Belgium: Bishop Roger Vangheluwe has resigned after confessing to child molestation.

This Week's Winner
Utah: Pastor Kris Lounsbury has been charged with two counts of rape and aggravated sexual abuse of a ten year old girl. Lounsbury was a GOP candidate for Congress in 2006, running on a platform of abolishing the income tax, deporting illegal immigrants, abolishing the United Nations, and fighting LGBT rights laws. In January 2009 he posted a recording of a sermon calling for imprecatory prayer curses against President Obama. In the linked clip, Lounsbury rails against the repeal of DADT, saying that "you have no idea how vicious, these homosexuals, can be."

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a repost via JMG

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... (by Courage Campaign w/ Regina Spektor)