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LGBT rights and marriage equality initiatives

 

Let’s Admit What Really Went Wrong in Houston

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Hayden MoraIt’s a dangerous myth that Houston was unexpected. National leadership of the LGBTQ movement has known or had very good reasons to suspect that our opponents — still reeling from their defeat around same-sex marriage — would seize on trans issues to energize their supporters, refill their treasuries, and create a new opportunity to gain traction with voters and the public at large.

But our funding has been so focused on marriage equality that we were left fighting for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance without the proper resources for political strategy, organizing, and effective, wide-scale public education. We were caught unprepared and that is inexcusable.

The voters’ decision on HERO comes at a pivotal time in our movement and raises key questions for all of us — especially our leaders — about what happened, why it happened, and where to go from here. How much and how quickly we learn from this loss depends on whether we, as a movement, engage in an unsparing and rigorous analysis not just of the Houston campaign, but also the ways in which we have and have not prioritized trans issues.

The reaction to the loss itself is telling. Many whose engagement is bounded by the victory of marriage equality and the goal of passing the Equality Act are left shocked. On the other extreme, for those who spend most of their lives working on the “margins” of our community — the undocumented, the young, people of color, trans folks, and those that hold multiple marginalized identities — Houston is like a distant rainstorm amid an ongoing level 5 hurricane of profound and pervasive violence and oppression. Identifying how and working toward bridging this divide is part of the crucial work that must occur in order for us to develop a stronger, smarter, and more holistic strategy of how to move forward.

By Hayden Mora – Full Story at The Advocate

Ireland: First Same Sex Weddings Before Christmas!

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Irish Times

Although the public just overwhelmingly approved a referendum on marriage equality, it’s gonna be a few more months before same sex couples can marry in the country.

The International Business Times reports:

Arrangements will start within the next few days to pass a law to give create the Constitutional amendment that will allow Ireland’s first same-sex marriage to take place before Christmas. The expected Yes vote will result in a new sentence being added to Article 41 of Ireland’s Constitution. It will read: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”…

To give effect to the amendment, the Oireachtas (Ireland’s parliament) will enact the Marriage Bill 2015, which will state in law that being of the same sex is no longer an impediment to marriage. Officials in the Department of Justice are due to start the drafting the legalisation next week. A spokesman said the Bill would be ranked with a view to it being passed by the Oireachtas before the summer recess. The law will set out the practical changes to come. When it comes into place, two people getting married will declare that they accept each other as “husband and wife” or as “spouses of each other”. It will also state that a change of gender will have no effect on marriage…

When the Marriage Bill has been drafted, it will go to Cabinet for a formal sign-off. It will then be enacted by the Oireachtas – probably in July – before practical work is done on changing marriage forms and procedures. Lastly, the Minister for Justice will sign a commencement order.

Springfield – How to Get By When Your Community Betrays You

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Chance HeltonOn Tuesday, Springfield, Mo., had a very important vote. Sadly, the residents of Missouri’s third-largest city decided that GLBTQ people no longer deserved the right to be protected by antidiscrimination laws.

I, however, had no idea that the vote was going to turn out that way. I was in shock; the news hit me like a brick right between the eyes. How was it possible for so many people to be so filled with hate and fear that they thought such a step backward would ever be a good thing?

Lots of information floating around made me angry, from blatant lies about restroom safety to local churches pressing their members to vote to rescind the recently enacted ordinance that protected LGBT people in matters of housing, employment, and public accomodations. There is a desolate feeling in my heart when my community turns its back on me, leaving me stranded and worried for my safety and livelihood, and it’s unbearable.

Authored By Chance Helton – See the Full Story at The Advocate

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Missouri.

Springfield, Missouri Repeals LGBT Rights With Heartbreaking 51.4% Vote

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Springfield, MissouriThe religious right has it figured out – put LGBT rights repeals on the ballot in special elections, and they can turn-out enough people to get them off the books. It happened again in Springfield, Missouri yesterday:

Voters in Springfield, Missouri today repealed protections for LGBT citizens which were added by the City Council to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance last October, KY3 reports: With all the votes tallied, about 51.4 percent of the voters on Tuesday said they wanted to repeal the City Council’s action, while 48.6 percent wanted to retain it. The raw numbers are 15,347 people voted “yes” to repeal the anti-discrimination ordinance and 14,493 people voted “no” to keep it on the books. For a brief time on Tuesday night, when about 60 percent of the precincts were counted, the “no repeal” votes had a slim lead over the “yes, repeal” votes. As more precincts were counted, however, the “yes” votes went back on top.

They did it with the same pack of lies that has worked elsewhere, using scary lines about men using women’s bathrooms. It just makes me crazy to see these hateful lies used again and again, and even more to see that they work.

Plano LGBT Ordinance Recall Effort Thrown Out – All Signatures Invalid

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Plano, Texas

Big news – the effort to repeal Plano’s new LGBT rights ordinance has failed in a spectacular fashion.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The team that screwed up the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance recall has proven to be equally incompetent in Plano. The “county of residence” requirement was omitted from the Plano petitions, which invalidated all of the signatures on it. In Houston, fewer than 4,000 signatures on petitions to overturn that city’s newly-enacted equal rights ordinance were valid out of more than 50,000 turned in. In Plano, none of the signatures were valid because that requirement was omitted. Plano spokesman Steve Stoler wrote in a press release this morning (Friday, Feb. 20), that the city of Plano has determined that the recently circulated petition is invalid and will not move forward. Plano’s city secretary was unable to certify the petition because it failed to meet state and local requirements for validation.

It’s great news for the ordinance and LGB rights, but it just hi-lights the fact that leaving out a transgender portion of the bill to protect bathroom access was a glaring mistake. It didn’t mute criticism of the bill, and divided supporters. Let’s hope this is a lesson going forward.

No word yet on whether the anti-gay forces plan to try again.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

Ireland to Vote on Marriage Equality Referendum in May

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Ireland - Google MapsIreland has picked a month for the vote on marriage equality.

Gay Star News reports:

Groups both for and against same-sex marriage will rally as they prepare for the public vote in early May 2015. No specific date has been announced as of yet. The issue was discussed today by Ministers at their final meeting before Christmas. It comes as Scottish gay couples are finally able to get married today, following England and Wales earlier this year. There are currently no plans for Northern Ireland to pass same-sex marriage.

We hope marriage equality will come to Ireland next year – but everyone needs to get out and vote.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Ireland.

Image via Google Maps

Chattanooga, Tennessee Rescinds Domestic Partnership Ordinance 63%-37%

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Tennessee mapIn a lopsided vote, city voters overturned the domestic partnership ordinance recently passed by the city council.

Think Progress reports:

Voters in Chattanooga, Tennessee overwhelmingly decided Thursday to undo a recently passed law that extended health benefits to the domestic partners of city employees. With a vote of 13,685-8,184, the town overturned the law originally passed 5-4 by the City Council. The Human Rights Campaign decried the vote as “hurtful and disappointing,” but Mayor Andy Berk was still hopeful. He told WTVC, “I have no doubt Chattanoogans value fairness and equality, and I am proud of the volunteers who spent nights and weekends to ensure our employees are treated equally.” He assured city employees, “Your work is valued and you are important to the future of our community.”

Once again, the lie that it’s only about the word “marriage” is exposed. It’s really about denying any and all rights to LGBT individuals, couples and families.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Tennessee.

Houston’s LGBT Protections Ordinance Survives Initial Attack

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Texas mapThe City of Houston determined that the opponents of a new LGBT civil rights ordinance failed to gather enough valid signatures to put a repeal on the ballot.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance will not appear on the November ballot, Mayor Annise Parker announced at a press conference today. “The petition is simply invalid,” said David Feldman, the city’s attorney. Officials said there were too many irregularities in the petition. Some of the pages weren’t notarized, and too many of the signatures were not registered voters, they said. Feldman said, essentially, that there were so many problems with the petition as it was submitted that the city couldn’t accept it. Mayor Annise Parker predicted that opponents will take legal action. Because of expected legal action, she will then delay implementation of the ordinance.

It’s sad that the implementation has been delayed, but this does shift the fight to the courts, which are a lot harder to sway than public opinion with lies and deception.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

Houston LGBT Rights Ordinance Challenge May Fall Short

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Texas mapThe city is close to finishing a validation of the signatures turned in by opponents of the new Houston LGBT rights ordinance.

Joe.My.God reports:

From JMG reader Mike Craig of Out & Equal Houston: When the Houston Area Pastors Council turned in 7 boxes of petitions to the City on July 3rd, they boasted of gathering more than 31,000 valid signatures. An independent group of concerned citizens has spent the last three weeks independently reviewing each page of that repeal petition in an effort to provide additional accountability to the referendum process. This was a grass-roots effort involving more than 100 volunteers who communicated via social media and participated in a crowd-sourced effort that uncovered fatal flaws with what was turned in. Having finished this exhaustive review, the HERO Petition Review Working Group concluded that the petitioners did not, in fact, turn in enough valid signatures in order to place this issue on the ballot… Based on these simple criteria, this independent review showed only 16,499 valid signatures were turned in. Additional scrutiny can only lower that number further. A full report detailing these findings has been provided to the City Secretary, City Attorney and Mayor. While it is our hope that the City’s own determination will come to a similar conclusion, we understand that it is ultimately the legal & statutory responsibility of the City Secretary and we will abide by that office’s findings.

The official report has not yet been released, so we have to wait and see if the repeal does quality for the ballot. If not? Expect a lawsuit.

Cases like this make it really clear. It was never really about the word “marriage”. It’s about preventing the granting of any right at all to LGBT citizens.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

Houston Gay Rights Opponents Turn in Signatures to Repeal LGBT Rights Ordinance

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

houston-petitions

It looks like opponents of the new LGBT rights ordinance in Houston have turned in more than enough signatures to force a public vote in November.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Opponents of Houston’s new LGBT-inclusive equal rights ordinance on Thursday delivered what they say are thousands of voters’ signatures requesting that it be repealed. The group, consisting of pastors and faith-based organizations, said they had collected more than 50,000 signatures calling for a ballot referendum aimed at repealing the measure; a total of 17,269 valid signatures are required to place the issue on the November ballot. They say they want the public to have a chance to vote on the anti-discrimination ordinance, and not just city council members.

It’s amazing to me that these folks hate us enough to want to block even employment and housing protections for the LGBT community. Remember how they always used to tell us it was just about the word “marriage”?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.