Friday, March 26, 2010

Senate Rejects Attempt To Block D.C. Same-Sex Marriage | WOLDCNews - WOL DC's Home for the Truth

Senate Rejects Attempt To Block D.C. Same-Sex Marriage | WOLDCNews - WOL DC's Home for the Truth


In its first direct vote on the issue, the U.S. Senate has rejected an amendment to the health care reconciliation bill that would have stopped same-sex marriage in the District until a referendum could be held.

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) had introduced that amendment; the full Senate rejected it early this morning by a vote of 59 to 36, with five members not voting.

GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine joined all Democrats who voted in rejecting Bennett’s amendment.

Their votes could be a sign that future efforts in the Senate to overturn the law will also be unsuccessful during the current Congress.

Some votes by Democrats this morning may have had more to do with efforts to keep the health care bill free of amendments than with same-sex marriage, meaning they could vote differently on this issue if it comes up in another fashion.

But Snowe and Collins, both of whom voted against the health care bill, appear to have based their votes against Bennett’s amendment on principle.

Neither took a position on a referendum in Maine last year to overturn that state’s same-sex marriage law. Snowe and Collins, both supporters of gay rights, also declined to tell reporters after the election how they voted on the referendum, which was narrowly approved.

Collins’ stance on Bennett’s amendment could be especially important because she is the ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has oversight over the District.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Poll finds Calif support growing for gay marriage | San Francisco Examiner

Poll finds Calif support growing for gay marriage | San Francisco Examiner

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — A new poll finds that for the first time, more Californians support gay marriage than oppose it. Three-in-four would allow gays to serve openly in the military.

A Public Policy Institute of California survey released Wednesday found a record high 50 percent of Californians said they back gay marriage, with 45 percent opposed.

It comes less than two years after voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Support also is growing for repealing the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Seventy-five percent of Californians say they support repealing the law, which was passed in 1993.

The institute surveyed 2,002 California adults by phone from March 9-16. The poll has a sampling error rate of plus or minus 2 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Six same-sex couples ask N.J.'s top court for permission to wed | -

Six same-sex couples ask N.J.'s top court for permission to wed | -

alling the state’s civil unions law a failed experiment, six same-sex couples yesterday asked the state Supreme Court to grant them the right to marry.

"What we have lived for the last three years is that civil unions are not equal to marriage," Cindy Meneghin of Butler said in an interview before Lambda Legal announced it is reviving its case before the Supreme Court.

In 2006, the state’s high court ruled in Lewis vs. Harris that lesbian and gay couples deserve the same rights as married heterosexuals. Later that year, state lawmakers legalized civil unions, which were to confer all the benefits of marriage on same-sex couples without using the term "marriage."

But representatives of Lambda Legal, gay rights advocacy group Garden State Equality and the six couples said that’s not what’s happened. Instead, they said, they have been treated differently because they are called something different.

Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director for Lambda Legal, said reams of testimony collected by the Civil Unions Review Commission support their contention.

An effort to legalize same-sex marriage failed in the state Senate in January. That triggered yesterday’s return to the Supreme Court.

Opponents like John Tomicki of the Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage said his group believes marriage can only be between one man and one woman. He added that same-sex couples already have the same rights through civil unions and durable power of attorney, and he said the testimony the civil unions commission collected is anecdotal and not proved.

"They’ll have to order it back to a trial court, we believe, to establish a record," Tomicki said.

Meneghin said she and Maureen Kilian, both 52, have been together since high school, but their relationship is not recognized on levels ranging from the mundane to the life-threatening.

Meneghin was taken to the hospital 12 years ago with menengitis, but Kilian was not allowed to be by her side until Meneghin shouted out that Kilian had power of attorney. Last summer, when doctors thought Meneghin had appendicitis and again hospitalized her, the nurses didn’t understand Kilian’s civil union rights.

"I got the same blank stares," Meneghin said. "The bottom line is marriage has meaning that civil unions will never have."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Same-sex marriage in the Himalayas? Nepal targets gay travelers to boost tourism dollars

Same-sex marriage in the Himalayas? Nepal targets gay travelers to boost tourism dollars

KATMANDU, Nepal - Nepal wants to paint Mount Everest pink.

It wants gay honeymooners trekking through the Himalayas.

It wants to host the world's highest same-sex wedding at Everest base camp.

But mainly, the conservative Hindu nation wants a chunk of the multibillion dollar gay tourist market to help pull it out of poverty.

That quest — brushing aside historical biases in pursuit of economic opportunity — is symbolic of one of the gay rights movement's most stunning successes.

Just five years ago, police were beating gays and transsexuals in the streets.

Now, the issue of gay rights is almost passe here.

Nepal has an openly gay parliamentarian, it is issuing "third gender" identity cards and it appears set to enshrine gay rights — and possibly even same-sex marriage — in a new constitution.

"(It) is not an issue anymore, for anybody," said Vishnu Adhikari, a 21-year-old lesbian. "Society has basically accepted us."

That acceptance has become a major marketing opportunity for a country cursed by desperate poverty, but blessed with majestic beauty.

Tourism is one of the main drivers of Nepal's economy, worth about $350 million last year, and government officials are determined to double tourism to 1 million visitors next year.

They hope gay tourists will be far more lucrative than the backpackers who stay in cheap hotels here and travel on shoestring budgets.

"They do have a lot of income ... they are high-spending consumers," said Aditya Baral, spokesman for the Nepal Tourism Board. "If they behave well, if they have money, we don't discriminate."

The driving force is Sunil Pant, a member of parliament, the nation's most prominent gay activist and founder of the new Pink Mountain tour company.

The nation's mountains, food and culture are a natural tourist magnet, he said. Additionally, gay tourists could get married at Everest base camp and honeymoon on an elephant safari — though since Nepal doesn't marry foreigners, such weddings would have no legal status, he said.

"With that, money will come here and jobs will be created," he said.

A growing segment of the gay tourism market — worth $63 billion in the U.S. alone — craves adventure travel and exotic locations, especially if they are seen as hospitable to gay travelers, said John Tanzella, president of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.

As for an Everest wedding, "I think there would certainly be a niche within our community that would be very excited for this type of memorable experience," he said.

Read more:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Marriage Equality Debate on CBS

Cathy Marino-Thomas debates Dr. Janice Crouse on

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

As gay marriage begins in Washington, opponents vow to fight / The Christian Science Monitor -

Maggie and Brian just can't stand seeing people happy and in love GET A LIFE YOU TWO

As gay marriage begins in Washington, opponents vow to fight / The Christian Science Monitor -

an Francisco

Gay rights groups celebrated the start of same-sex weddings Tuesday in Washington, D.C., but gay marriage foes say the issue is not yet settled.
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Before the Washington City Council finalized its decision to legalize same-sex marriage last year, a coalition of the area’s religious leaders tried to put the question to voters through a citywide referendum.

That move was blocked by the city’s board of elections and later by the a D.C. Superior Court judge (The Monitor covered the ruling here). But same-sex marriage opponents are now trying to put the question on the ballot through the District’s initiative process, which gives voters the opportunity to weigh in on existing legislation.

“It’s not over in D.C. by any means,” wrote Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, on the group’s blog. “The people of D.C. have a right, granted by Congress in their charter, to vote to overturn legislation passed by elected officials, just as people in many states (like Maine) have that right.”

In an interview, Mr. Brown said a case over the initiative is pending in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

If the ballot initiative is allowed, many expect that voters would overturn gay marriage. Same-sex marriage has been defeated in the 31 states where the question was put to voters.

Before the city’s law took effect last week – the District granted same-sex marriage licenses last Wednesday, but Tuesday was the first day for gay marriage ceremonies – opponents of the new marriage law asked the US Supreme Court for a temporary injunction. In the court’s decision not to get involved, Chief Justice John Roberts said the case should be handled in the local courts, but that gay marriage opponents had “some force” to their arguments.

“Clearly the law is on our side, and I think the courts will be sympathetic,” says Brown, regarding the effort to have a ballot initiative on the gay marriage question.

In California, voters outlawed gay marriage through a ballot initiative about five months after it was legalized by the state Supreme Court. That vote is now being challenged in federal court on the grounds that it violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples.

Brown says that Congress, which has so far refused overturn to the District’s same-sex marriage law, can at any time undo gay marriage in Washington. “Congress never loses its ability to act on any question in the District,” he says.

Same-sex marriage becomes legal in DC - Gay marriage -

Same-sex marriage becomes legal in DC - Gay marriage -

By JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press

Same-sex couples can start applying for marriage licenses Wednesday in Washington.

Supporters say couples planned to line up before the city's marriage bureau opened at 8:30 a.m., and officials at the courthouse were expecting 200 or more people.

At least 16 couples were waiting at 7:15 a.m. inside the city's Moultrie courthouse, which houses the marriage bureau and is just blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

Sinjoyla Townsend, 41, and her partner of 12 years, Angelisa Young, 47, claimed the first spot in line just after 6 a.m.

"It's like waking up Christmas morning," Young said.

Washington will be the sixth place in the nation where gay marriages can take place. Because of a mandatory waiting period, however, couples won't actually be able to marry in the District of Columbia until March 9. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont currently issue licenses to same-sex couples.

To deal with the expected crowd Wednesday, the marriage bureau will bring in temporary employees to help its regular staff, courthouse spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz said.

U.S. Census to allow same-sex couples in N.J. to identify themselves as married | -

U.S. Census to allow same-sex couples in N.J. to identify themselves as married | -

Allen Neuner and his partner, Bill Stella, share a home in Somerville. They share expenses. They also share, as Neuner put it, "our lives with each other."

But with New Jersey among the 45 states that do not recognize same-sex marriage, the two have never been able to legally identify themselves as a married couple. Now, for the first time, they will have the opportunity to call their union a marriage in an official government document.

In a policy shift experts say could radically reshape demographic profiles of the gay community, the U.S. Census this year will let same-sex couples label themselves as husband or wife even if their relationships are not recognized by law.

"Right now, we’re as married as a couple can be, so I’m not going to have any trouble checking the husband box," said Neuner, 58, an event planner who has been with his partner for a decade.

Neuner is among those hailing the change, which will appear on Census forms due to be mailed out next week. The forms do not explicitly recognize civil unions, which are legal in New Jersey. Instead, the documents offer one of two boxes for same-sex couples — "husband or wife" or "unmarried partners."

The census bureau plans to leave it to responders to characterize their own relationships.

"We have a policy of self-identification," said Igor Alves, a media specialist with the agency. "If they want to put husband or unmarried partner, that is up to them. We basically want to tally what they select."

The new policy took effect last summer, when the Commerce Department released a legal opinion that argued the federal government could tabulate and release same-sex marriage data under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

In the last decennial count, officials re-coded same-sex husband or wife answers to "unmarried partners," since no state in the country recognized same-sex marriage at the time.

Since then, the legal landscape has changed. Five states — Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire — and the District of Columbia now allow gay couples to legally marry, leaving census tabulators in a new bind.

"The truth is that the number of kinds of legally married couples in this country is a very complicated situation," said Gary Gates, a demographer with the University of California, Los Angeles. "How do you keep up with that?"

Despite the form’s inflexibility, Gates believes the census effort will offer a rich source of data about how same-sex couples describe themselves, as well as their family structure.

The Census will release a special report about its data on same-sex couples next year, Alves said.

The new numbers could drastically affect political debates on gay issues, said Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay-rights group Garden State Equality.

"Politicians use the Census as a yardstick for a community’s power," he said. "That in turn affects the enactment of public policies."

Staff writer Mark Mueller and the Associated Press contributed to this repo

Supporters of ousted state Sen. Hiram Monserrate say Jose Peralta is puppet of 'rich gay fanatics'

Supporters of ousted state Sen. Hiram Monserrate say Jose Peralta is puppet of 'rich gay fanatics'

Supporters of ousted state Sen. Hiram Monserrate are claiming his rival, Assemblyman Jose Peralta, is a pawn of "mega-rich gay fanatics" in an anti-gay flyer being handed out at churches in their Queens district.

Monserrate and Peralta - both Democrats - and several other candidates will face off in a special election next Tuesday to fill Monserrate's old seat. He is running to win back the job he was booted from by colleagues last month after being convicted of misdemeanor assault on his girlfriend.

The flyer says Peralta, who has the support of many gay leaders and groups, is the "leading spokesperson for the gay community's [sic] in N.Y.C." It says those groups "are dedicated to destroying our way of life and creating same sex marriage."

In a statement, Peralta shot back: "This flyer is just another example of how Hiram Monserrate thrives on bullying and hate-mongering."

Gay and lesbian groups have targeted Monserrate for his opposition to gay marriage. "With each hate-mongering, fear-rattling, equality-stunting volley, Hiram Monserrate digs another foot down into his political grave," said Valerie Berlin, a spokeswoman for the gay advocacy group Fight Back New York.

Monserrate, whose campaign could not be reached yesterday, has aligned himself with conservative church leaders opposed to gay marriage. He also has aligned himself with President Obama's "Yes We Can" slogan and logo - a move that drew a rebuke from Washington.

"The use of the logo is neither approved nor supported by Organizing for America. The [Monserrate] campaign did not seek nor do they have permission to use it. We are asking them to remove it from their materials," Obama campaign spokeswoman Linda Tran said.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Psychiatric Damage of Banning Same-Sex Marriage | Gay Rights |

This is an important study

The Psychiatric Damage of Banning Same-Sex Marriage | Gay Rights |

There's a reason why professional health associations like the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) support same-sex marriage. Sure, it could be that both of these organizations like to support civil rights, and believe in the dignity of all loving relationships. In addition, it could also be that these organizations recognize that when you ban same-sex marriage, you send a message that could have disastrous effects on a person's or a couple's psychiatric well-being.

Such is the conclusion of a new study issued by the Columbia University School of Public Health, in co-operation with Harvard University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Those are three pretty big names, lending their reputations to support findings that indicate an increase in psychiatric disorders among the lesbian, gay, and bisexual population living in states that ban same-sex marriage.

No surprise, eh? You tell two people that their relationship doesn't mean anything and shouldn't be legally recognized, and you can almost predict the negative consequences that arise. Depression, isolation, sadness, and anxiety ... and that's just to name a few. That makes banning same-sex marriage not only damaging to moving civil rights forward, but also bad for public health, too.

The study itself looked at states that banned gay marriage in 2004 and 2005. Researchers looked to see if gay, lesbian and bisexual people in these states experienced higher degrees of psychiatric disorders over the past five years.

"Before this study, little was known about the impact of institutional discrimination toward lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals in our society," said Deborah Hasin, a Professor at Columbia University and the senior author behind the study. "The study highlights the importance of abolishing institutional forms of discrimination, including those leading to disparities in the mental health and well-being of LGB individuals."

Incidentally, the authors also found that psychiatric disorders rose slightly among heterosexual couples in states that ban gay marriage. Though rates for straight couples weren't nearly as high as for same-sex couples, the point is pretty clear: there are just no good psychiatric side effects from criminalizing gay marriage, both for straight and queer folks.

This goes hand-in-hand with countless reports, mostly authored by the Williams Institute at UCLA, that show how economically speaking, banning gay marriage hurts states. States lose out on money from same-sex weddings and tourism, not to mention costs related to marriage applications and license fees.

Couple that with this psychiatric study, and really: Is there one good reason to ever ban same-sex marriage?

Opponents of same-sex marriage may be vocal. But let's see them turn up one reputable study that suggests their position has any scientific or economic gravitas behind it.