Friday, February 14, 2014

Via JMG: KANSAS: Senate Leaders Vow To Narrow Bill That Legalizes Anti-Gay Dicrimination

Two days ago the Kansas House approved a sweeping bill that legalizes discrimination against LGBT people in virtually every aspect of life. Today GOP state Senate president Susan Wagle promised to narrow the bill, presumably to businesses in the wedding industry.
For starters, a provision that would allow government employees to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds is completely out. Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, was emphatically clear on that point. “Absolutely. I believe that when you hire police officers or a fireman that they have no choice in who they serve. They serve anyone who’s vulnerable, any age, any race, any sexual orientation,” Wagle said. When asked if this was also true for a government employee who issues dog licenses, Wagle responded simply. “Public service needs to remain public service for the entire public.” Wagle, who was joined by Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, and Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, also cited concerns from the business community as part of their hesitation to move forward with House Bill 2453 in its current form. She said the bill, as written, would hurt large and small businesses alike.
A spokesman for Equality Kansas reacted to Wagle's statement: "The religious community needs to have their religious freedoms respected, but the gay community needs have our rights as citizens of the state of Kansas respected. We’re not going to support any bill that singles out gay or lesbian couples either directly or indirectly through legalese."  Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Kansas Senate by 31-9.
RELATED: Today Andrew Sullivan posted a blistering reaction to the bill. An excerpt:
If you were devising a strategy to make the Republicans look like the Bull Connors of our time, you just stumbled across a winner. If you wanted a strategy to define gay couples as victims and fundamentalist Christians as oppressors, you’ve hit the jackpot. In a period when public opinion has shifted decisively in favor of gay equality and dignity, Kansas and the GOP have decided to go in precisely the opposite direction. The week that the first openly gay potential NFL player came out, the GOP approved a bill that would prevent him from eating in restaurants in the state, if he ever mentioned his intention to marry or just shack up with his boyfriend. Really, Republicans? That’s the party you want? As for the allegedly Christian nature of this legislation, let’s not mince words. This is the inversion of Christianity.

posted by Joe Jervis

Via JMG: UGANDA: President To Sign Bill That Sentences Gays To Life In Prison

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says that he will sign the bill that calls for up to a life sentence for those convicted of homosexuality. Via Buzzfeed:
This is a reversal for Museveni, who had written to members of parliament after the legislation passed in December that he had come to believe that homosexuality was a biological “abnormality” and not something that should be criminalized. He had also told Western human rights activists that he would reject the bill during a meeting last month. Museveni made his announcement during a retreat with members of his party, the National Resistance Movement, which has primarily focused on the party’s leadership as it prepares for elections in 2016. Museveni had been facing stiff pressure from his colleagues to accept the bill.
According to Museveni, he only decided to sign the bill after scientists convinced him that homosexuality "is not genetic." For several years, Uganda's so-called "Kill The Gays" bill has been pending. Today's action presumably means the death penalty is finally off the table.
RELATED:  Museveni has been in office for 28 years and the vote results of his 2011 reelection were contested by the European Union.

posted by Joe Jervis

Via JMG: White House: Thank You Edie Windsor

A message of thanks to DOMA champion Edith Windsor was posted today on the White House blog. The statement is attributed to White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. An excerpt:
When the Court handed down its decision last June, President Obama called Edie from Air Force One to congratulate her on her victory. And earlier this week, the President invited Edie to the France State Dinner and the Oval Office to thank her in person. The thanks expressed by the President that day have been echoed by millions of Americans, including thousands of legally married couples who can now live their lives with greater justice and dignity – thanks to heroes like Edie Windsor who have been willing to stand up and fight for equality under the law.
Quite the lovely Valentine's Day timing. The photo is dated Wednesday, when Windsor was a guest at the White House state dinner honoring French President Francois Hollande, who guided his nation to marriage equality last May.
UPDATE: Windsor's DOMA attorney responds. 

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: 20 Members Of Congress Pose For NOH8 Campaign In Solidarity With Russian Gays

In an event tagged #NOH8OnTheHill, twenty members of Congress have posed for the famed NOH8 campaign in a Valentine's Day message of solidarity to the LGBT people of Russia. The sole Republican participant was Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who has a transgender son.
"For our LGBT friends in Russia and in other countries around the world who feel oppressed by their government, we dedicate this Valentine's post to you. Today we show our gratitude for those in government who use their platform to speak out for the rights of all people," said NOH8 Co-Founders Adam Bouska & Jeff Parshley.
The fourth NOH8 On The Hill session was jointly hosted by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) & Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) on the House side, and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) hosted on the Senate side. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is the first and only Republican Congressman to pose for NOH8, while Senator Blumenthal was the first Senator to pose alongside Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
The newest #NOH8onTheHill session saw five additional Senators pose, including Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. Coincidentally, this session was held on November 13th, 2013 -- the same day Hawaii's Governor signed marriage equality into law! Previous supporters Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Al Green of Texas underscored their support by stopping in to pose for a photo once again, joined by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA).
Hit the link for all of the photos and messages of support from each participant.
Reposted from Joe Jervis

Vua JMG: Chicago Researchers Say They Have Found Genetic Link To Homosexuality

Via the Guardian:
A study of gay men in the US has found fresh evidence that male sexual orientation is influenced by genes. Scientists tested the DNA of 400 gay men and found that genes on at least two chromosomes affected whether a man was gay or straight. A region of the X chromosome called Xq28 had some impact on men's sexual behaviour – though scientists have no idea which of the many genes in the region are involved, nor how many lie elsewhere in the genome. Another stretch of DNA on chromosome 8 also played a role in male sexual orientation – though again the precise mechanism is unclear. Researchers have speculated in the past that genes linked to homosexuality in men may have survived evolution because they happened to make women who carried them more fertile. This may be the case for genes in the Xq28 region, as the X chromosome is passed down to men exclusively from their mothers.
Via the Telegraph:
Dr Bailey said: “Sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice. Our findings suggest there may be genes at play – we found evidence for two sets that affect whether a man is gay or straight. “But it is not completely determinative; there are certainly other environmental factors involved. “The study shows that there are genes involved in male sexual orientation. “Although this could one day lead to a pre-natal test for male sexual orientation, it would not be very accurate, as there are other factors that can influence the outcome.” Dr Alan Sanders, associate Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University, who led the study said that it was it was an 'oversimplification’ to suggest there was a 'gay gene.’ “We don’t think genetics is the whole story. It’s not. We have a gene that contributes to homosexuality but you could say it is linked to heterosexuality. It is the variation.”

Reposted from Joe Jervis

How The Supreme Court Lit A Fuse To End Gay Marriage Bans Across USA

AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta
Recently, federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma overturned the states' bans on gay marriage as unconstitutional, leading to chaos as gay marriage was briefly legal there before the states appealed the decisions and halted them. In Ohio, a federal judge ordered the state to recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates. And on Wednesday, a federal judge in Kentucky ordered the state to recognize out-of-state gay marriages.

"I think what's behind it all is that when you talk repeatedly in your [Supreme Court] opinion about the dignity of gay people in relationships, how do judges rule the other way?" Roberta Kaplan, the attorney who argued against DOMA before the Supreme Court, told TPM. "What possible reason could judges use for denying equality for gay people?"

In fact, the judges "explicitly say they're doing this because of Windsor," she said.

Read the full article here

Via JMG: LGBT Groups React To Virginia Ruling

Through its decision today, the court has upheld the principles of equality upon which this nation was founded,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. “Virginia’s prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples relegates gay and lesbian Virginians to second-class status. Laws excluding gay men and lesbians from marriage violate personal freedom, are an unnecessary government intrusion, and cause serious harm. That type of law cannot stand.” In November 2006, voters in the Commonwealth amended the state constitution to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman and ban recognition of any legal status “approximat[ing] the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage” for gays and lesbians.  Preexisting laws also banned same-sex marriage in Virginia. “The United States Supreme Court has stated fourteen times that the freedom to marry is one of the most fundamental rights—if not the most fundamental right—of all Americans ,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. “The denial of that fundamental freedom to marry the person you love and be treated with equal dignity and respect seriously harms gay and lesbian Americans and the children they are raising.” The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of Bostic v. Rainey.
Freedom To Marry
The bipartisan momentum for marriage is building at an unprecedented speed. In just the past several weeks, federal judges in Utah, Oklahoma, and Kentucky; the Attorney Generals of Virginia and Nevada; the Governor of Nevada, and now a federal judge in Virginia have all said that marriage discrimination against loving and committed gay couples is indefensible under our Constitution. There has been a fundamental shift in the legal landscape. America is ready for the freedom to marry and those couples in Virginia, on the eve of Valentine's Day, are ready to marry.
Human Rights Campaign
“Yet another court has upheld the fundamental idea that gay and lesbian Americans are entitled to full equality under the law. Nearly fifty years ago, another Virginia case struck down bans on interracial marriage across the country, and now this commonwealth brings renewed hope for an end to irrational barriers to marriage for loving and committed couples across the country. “Following recent decisions in Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio and Kentucky this Virginia ruling proves that marriage equality is once again on the fast track to the United States Supreme Court. From the South to the Midwest, this historic progress sends a message that no American should have to wait for equality, no matter where they live. “Right now this nation is divided into two Americas—one where full legal equality is nearly a reality, and the other where even the most basic protections of the law are nonexistent for loving gay and lesbian couples. We cannot and will not tolerate that patchwork of discrimination, and we won’t stop fighting until fairness and dignity reaches each and every American in all 50 states.”
Lambda Legal
“This is a wonderful day for all loving and committed couples in Virginia who want only the same protections for their families as anyone else,” said Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia. “The court is right to strike down this sweeping and discriminatory ban. We congratulate the attorneys and their clients.” In her opinion, Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen wrote: “Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships. Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices—choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference.”

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: BREAKING: Judge Strikes Down Virginia's Ban On Gay Marriage, Ruling STAYED

From AFER's website:
The Federal District Court ruled that Virginia’s marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution. It said that loving couples like our plaintiffs, Tim Bostic & Tony London and Carol Schall & Mary Townley are entitled to the same basic rights and protections as every other American. This is a monumental victory—for Virginia and our country—and the first of its kind for a state in the South. While the decision will not go into effect immediately—it has been stayed pending appeal—this is a great cause for celebration.
UPDATE: The judge's 41-page ruling begins with a quote from Mildred Loving.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma

Tricycle Daily Dharma February 14, 2014

On Love

If we want to be loved, we are looking for a support system. If we want to love, we are looking for spiritual growth.
- Ayya Khema, "What Love Is"
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through February 15, 2014
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