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Why the Whole Transgender Debate is Wrong

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Transgender FlagI can’t remember how old I would have been when I realized that telling people I wanted to be a girl was not a wise thing to do.

Certainly I knew before I was seven. When the whole world is telling you that you’re a boy simply based on what’s between your legs, it takes a very strong-minded child indeed to stick to your convictions.

I wasn’t that strong-willed, and the physical evidence was hard to ignore. It’s why I’m so much in awe of those children who identify as trans and their parents who act constructively on it.

But that doesn’t mean that I was socialized as a boy. Instead I grew up looking in on the world as an outsider. I didn’t understand why things like football and climbing trees were supposed to be fun. I spent my primary school playtimes playing hopscotch, cats cradle and skipping games with the girls – until they decided that it wasn’t cool to have a boy in their group. I learnt to filter my responses, working out what I was supposed to say or do rather than following my natural instincts.

Authored By Helen Belcher – See the Full Story at Gay Star News

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UK, Northern Ireland: Ruling Party Once Again Blocks Debate on Marriage Equality

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Northern Ireland - google maps

from Google Maps

Northern Ireland is falling farther and farther behind the times as its ruling party, the Democratic Unionist Party, once again has blocked even the debate of the marriage equality bill.

Pink News reports:

The DUP has once again tabled a petition of concern, using Assembly rules to effectively ban cross-party discussion of the measure. It will frustrate Sinn Fein, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the Alliance Party, NI21 and the Greens, who all support equal marriage. The DUP has continually resisted supporting LGBT equality across the board. First Minister Peter Robinson and Health Minister Edwin Poots have refused to lift Northern Ireland’s lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood.

Northern Ireland is now the only part of the United Kingdom that is not approved marriage equality. This seems blatantly unfair – does anyone know the process in the UK for bringing a lawsuit to force the issue?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Northern Ireland.

USA, Arizona: Cottonwood Has Lively Debate About Proposed Civil Unions Ordinance

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Arizona mapThe Northern Arizona town of Cottonwood could be the next in the state to pass a civil unions ordinance.

The Verde Independent reports:

The passion in the room was so thick it could be cut with a knife. There were no smiles; everyone in the audience was deadly serious. The Cottonwood Council Chambers Tuesday night filled with people invested in a single subject: civil unions and how the city proposed to acknowledge them in city code. Jerome, Sedona, Bisbee and Tucson have already taken a similar position.

The usual religious folks came to speak against the ordinance:

Pastor Jack Pease was specific: “I have no objection to homosexuals, but for some of us, there is no middle ground. The homosexual goal is contrary to nature.” The lead pastor of Emmanuel Fellowship Church, Frank Nevarez, told he council, “The voice of the people is being left out of this process.” He called for a public vote on an amendment, too. Nevarez cited legal cases in other states where a person could be sued for failing to marry same-sex couples. He said, “I don’t want to be open to litigation.”

The Mayor had a reply:

Finally, Mayor Diane Joens, said, “I am a Christian and still have my faith, but my issue is discrimination. We used to discriminate against blacks, but they are equal.” She noted the city manager is deeply involved in the Holocaust training program in Yavapai County in the face of millions of Jews killed by the Nazis. She said her brother-in-law is gay and recalled a comment her mother made, “It’s going to be a hard life for him.”

The next meeting will be December 17th.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.

Australia: Married Gay US Ambassador Stays Out Of Marriage Equality Debate

Monday, November 25th, 2013

US Ambassador to Australia John BerryUS Ambassador John Berry is staying out of the same sex marriage fight in Australia.

Gay Star News reports:

America’s new ambassador to Australia, John Berry, has stayed out of the debate on same-sex marriage in Australia despite marrying his partner Curtis Yee shortly before leaving the United States. Berry told ABC News Breakfast last week that ‘Australians need to decide that issue best for Australians,’ when asked whether he hoped Australia would legalize same-sex marriage. Berry said same-sex marriage was ‘a sensitive topic’ avoiding weighing into the debate.

Well, he’s a diplomat. They’re not supposed to make waves. But maybe just by his example he will make a small difference.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Australia.

USA, Virginia: Gubernatorial Candidates Debate Marriage Equality

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffeAt their debate last night, Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli debated marriage equality among other things.

The Washington Blade reports:

“I do have some tremendous challenges because of the issues of economic development, job creation that I need to focus on, but I have come out for marriage equality,” McAuliffe said, noting the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ prompted him and his wife to back the issue. “The idea we could send men and women across the globe to fight for us and then they come back and they don’t have the same equal opportunities and equal rights I just think was plain wrong.” McAuliffe added he would sign a same-sex marriage bill if one were to reach his desk.

“I understand and respect the fact that this is a sensitive issue to a lot of Virginians,” Cuccinelli said. “But I’m one of those who do believe that the institution of marriage should remain between one man and one woman.”

No big surprises here, but it’s nice to see McAuliffe continued to stand up for marriage equality.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Virginia.

Listening In On The Right-Wing Fringe: Gay Marriage Edition

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Candace Chellew-HodgeSometimes it’s fun to listen in on the religious right wing when they’re having internal debates about big issues like marriage equality.

Over at World Net Daily (which features such fact-challenged articles on how terrorists are setting wildfires and ads that promise to show you how to get an untraceable AR-15) there’s a fairly comprehensive article laying out the argument between those who wish to privatize marriage, and those who believe the government’s role is a necessary evil … for the children.

Those speaking in favor of privatization, like conservative talk host Larry Elder, say we should “leave marriage to non-governmental institutions like churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship or private institutions.” Others like anti-abortion professor Doug Kmiec agree, saying if the state got out of the marriage business “the question of who can and cannot be married would be entirely determined in your voluntarily chosen faith community.”

Which, of course, means atheists and those who have no “faith community” (think our millennial “spiritual but not religious” types) are cut out of the institution just like gays and lesbians. In their rush to give marriage to the churches, these folks would exclude a lot of people.

Authored By Candace Chellew-Hodge – See the Full Story at Religion Dispatches

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UK: House of Lords Takes Up Marriage Equality Bill Again Today

Monday, June 17th, 2013

London

The marriage equality bill in United Kingdom is now entering the committee stage in the House of Lords. Pink News reports:

The House of Lords will resume debate of the same-sex marriage bill this afternoon at 3pm. Following this month’s successful second reading vote in the Upper Chamber, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is now being put through its committee stage.

Pink News also reports on some of the amendment’s proposed for the bill:

The hereditary peer Lord Hylton’s amendment, which calls for the bill to leave out the word “marriage” and replace it instead with “union”, will be debated first this afternoon.

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Mawhinney has tabled an amendment urging for heterosexual marriages to be lawfully described as “traditional marriage”. The amendment is similar to that of Lord Dear’s, which aims to protect those who believe marriage is “the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others.”

Meanwhile, crossbench peer Lord Armstrong has tabled an amendment governing “Matrimonial marriages”. It states: “Lawful marriage between a man and a woman is matrimony; Lawful marriages between a man and a woman are matrimonial marriages.”

In related news, the Government is proposing an amendment to the Public Order Act that would offer additional protections to opponents of marriage equality. Pink News reports:

Numerous equal marriage opponents have voiced fears that the passing of the bill would lead to their prosecution. The amendment would be an attempt to placate those fears by making it clear people cannot be prosecuted for voicing their opinion on same-sex marriage. It would add a clause to the Public Order Act which states that “any discussion or criticism of marriage which concerns the sex of the parties to marriage shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.”

The UK Government also pledged to decide if straight couples can enter into civil partnerships by next year. Pink News reports:

The government has announced its intention to launch a full public consultation in the autumn to kick start a review of the future of civil partnerships, and a final decision will be taken by the winter of 2014. During last month’s third reading debate of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill concerns were raised by MPs over the issue of civil partnerships and their role in light of equal marriage legislation. Three Tory MPs – Tim Loughton, Charlotte Leslie and Rob Wilson – were pushing for civil partnerships to be an option for heterosexual couples in an amendment as part of the bill.

Here’s that helpful chart on how bills progress through the British system again:

UK Bills

UK: More Updates From the Marriage Equality Debate

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Big BenAs the House of Lords in the UK gets ready to vote on the marriage equality bill, we have a few more updates for you.

During the debate, one of the Baronesses came out. Pink News reports:

In yesterday’s House of Lords debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, Baroness Liz Barker stood to make a speech in which she spoke of her love for another woman – revealing publicly for the first time that she, herself, is in a same-sex relationship. The Liberal Democrat peer, who was among the first to speak, said she had to “declare an interest”. “Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet someone,” she said. “She and I have loved each other ever since.”

On the flip side, Lord Hylton, a marriage equality opponent, objected to the use of the word “gay”. Pink News reports:

I regret very much that the fine old English and French word “gay” has, in my lifetime, been appropriated by a small but vocal minority of the population. The result is that it can no longer be used in its original and rather delightful meaning. Now, under the pretext of securing equality, Her Majesty’s Government are proposing to change the meaning of marriage.

Another opponent, Lord Tebbit, revisited the tired old theme that the gays already have equality – they can marry the opposite sex just like everyone else. Pink News reports:

My Lords, this bill is promoted as a measure to end a discrimination against homosexuals, but the present law of marriage does not discriminate against homosexuals. The rights of a homosexual man are identical to mine. Subject to the laws on incest and bigamy, we are each free to marry a woman. Neither he nor I may marry another man. Our positions are identical. If it were to be held that the wish of a homosexual man to marry another man being thwarted by law was proof of discrimination, then the law forbidding polygamy would equally be proof of discrimination.

They say these things as if they think they are being so clever, when really they’re just tired old retreads of arguments that make no sense and have long been discredited.

Gay Web Source has photos of the vigil outside Parliament:

As Peers debated The Marriage (same-sex) Bill in the House of Lords yesterday, scores of gay rights supporters turned up to listen to the London Gay Men’s Chorus (LGMC) sing, wave their banners and bask in the glorious evening sun.

And finally, the Archbishop of Canterbury put in his two cents. Pink News reports:

Despite saying he supported equality, and condemning the use of homophobic language as “shocking”, Justin Welby then went on to say that he would not support the bill, because, he said the bill “weakens what exists, and replaces it with a less good option that is neither equal nor effective.” He continued that marriage would be “abolished, redefined and recreated, being different and unequal for different categories”, describing “the new marriage of the bill”, as an “awkward shape”, as it would contain same-sex and opposite sex couples.

Towleroad.com has a live feed – the vote will likely be at around 10 AM Eastern in the US.

UK: House of Lords Holds Marriage Equality Debate

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

LondonThe House of Lords in the UK held the first day of its marriage equality debate. Things are supposed to wrap up tomorrow.

Here’s what happened today.

Dot429 reports tha Lord Dear, an opponent, is afraid kids will get gay-married in class:

“Parents will not have a legal right to withdraw children from classes which endorse same-sex marriage in the curriculum,” said Dear during his speech. “The effect on schools will undoubtedly be divisive, and we should reflect on the fact their calls have already been made for children to act out gay weddings in class.”

Another opponent, Baroness Knight, made a rambling argument against marriage equality. Pink News reports:

She said “a higher authority” than any peer, had “already decided that people are not equal”, because “some people can see, others are blind”. She went on to offer a stereotype about gay people, saying they are “delightful”, and “very artistic”, before observing that men can’t “bear a child”, that women can’t “produce sperm”, and that “no law on earth can change that”. Continuing, she argued that the freedom to discriminate based on conscience should be preserved, and claimed that teachers would be made to “teach homosexuality”. She finished by saying the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill, was “built on lies”, and said she would vote against it.

Lord Jenkin explained why he supports marriage equality. Pink News reports:

My own starting point is something that I learnt many years ago as an undergraduate faced with what was, for me, a new involvement with people who were not heterosexual. I asked my grandfather, who was an extremely wise lecturer at the Edinburgh medical school, all about it. He said, “My dear boy, it is as foolish to condemn those who have homosexual proclivities as it is to condemn them for having red hair”. I have lived with that all my life and I have always opposed discrimination against homosexuals.

Another marriage equality supporter, Baroness Royall, urged her colleagues to support the marriage equality bill. Pink News reports

In an ever changing world where turmoil and instability are too often the norm it is a cause for celebration when two people of either the same-sex of the opposite sex wish to commit their lives to each other through marriage. I am the product of a happy marriage and I had the good fortune to enjoy nearly 30 years of marriage. Our aim, like so many other couples, was to grow old together, to support each other in sickness and in health. We had our ups and downs but the fact that we were married increased our resolve to make our relationship work, and it was the framework within which we wanted to raise our children. Of course I have friends who are single who are great parents and friends who have lived together for many years who are wonderful parents – like my Noble Friend the Chief Whip although I am delighted to say that on Saturday he and his partner Jill are going to be married. I celebrate that and I would like to be able to celebrate the marriage of gay friends, with or without children.

Pink News also live-blogged the debate here.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in the United Kingdom.

UK: House of Lords Marriage Equality Debate Begins Today

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

LondonOver in the United Kingdom, the House of Lords is getting ready to debate the marriage equality bill for England and Wales, with a vote planned for tomorrow. Gay Star News reports:

It is set to be a stormy debate with 80 peers due to speak. But it will give opponents and gay marriage supporters the chance to debate the broad principle of marriage equality. Campaigners for marriage equality remain confident about the process but warn it will be historically tight.

Bishops who make up 26 members of the Hosue of Lords are trying to duck being blamed if the bill fails to pass by abstaining:

As the Lords argue the merits of the bill over two days that will culminate in a crunch vote at around 5pm on Tuesday (4 June), bishops have been told to abstain from voting to avoid being singled out and blamed should the bill not pass. The Telegraph reports bishops are being urged not to submit a vote for gay marriage, for fears that there could be a backlash against the church that may call into question bishops’ right to sit in the House of Lords. One senior official said to The Telegraph: ‘What they are scared of is that this goes down by a few votes and then the bishops are seen as having swung the vote.’

Pam’s House Blend reports that we’re now up to 94Lords who want to speak on the bill – the last count we saw was 80:

Today promises a marathon debate in the British House of Lords, as 94 Lords have signed up to speak on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill during the Second Reading debate.

Opponents will try once again to kill the bill with an amendment. The Independent reports:

Opponents of the Same Sex Couples Bill will force peers to vote on Tuesday on a “fatal motion” to kill off the Bill before it is even considered in detail by the Lords. Should the attempt succeed, David Cameron will be placed in the contentious position of forcing through the Bill with a rare use of the Parliament Act or abandoning the current legislation altogether.

Speaking of Amendments, the Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to try to tack on some additional religious protections to the bill. Pink News reports:

In the upcoming vote on equal marriage legislation in the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury will call for concessions to be made for teachers and faith schools, as the Church of England has reportedly “resigned” itself to same-sex marriage becoming law. The Sunday Times reports that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, plans to use his stand in the House of Lords to call for the bill to explicitly protect faith schools and teachers from prosecution, if they do not wish to promote marriage equality.

Pink News reports that marriage equality supporters plan a rally outside of Parliament this evening:

Supporters of marriage equality will rally outside the House of Lords from 5.30pm this evening, as peers debate the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Campaigners will gather by the statue of George V in Old Palace Yard, Westminster, diagonally opposite the main entrance to the House of Commons. Several MPs and Lords are expected to attend the rally and speak.

A number of former Tory Cabinet Members are urging the Lords to pass the bill. Pink News reports:

With the House of Lords debating the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on Monday afternoon, several former Conservative cabinet ministers – including three former health secretaries – have each given their firm backing to the measure in an open letter to the Times newspaper. Former health secretaries Lord Fowler and Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone, who is married to the Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley – another supporter of equal marriage – have each signed the letter.

The article above also has the text of the letter.

One Bishop in the Church of England is warning that the marriage equality bill could make the Queen break a vow to God. Or something like that. Pink News reports:

Dr Michael Nazir Ali said the Queen vowed when she was crowned 60 years ago to “uphold the laws of God”… “The idea of a constitutional monarchy comes from the Bible. Christians are told in the Bible to obey their rulers, unless the ruler tells us to do something God forbids. “Happily in this country we have a monarchy that has taken an oath of upholding God’s laws, and the present Queen has for years been faithful to that. We are praying that she continues to be faithful.” “That puts the onus on the prime minister not to put the Queen into a position where she may have to go against the sovereign promises she has made. We hope that she is not put in that position.”

I think the Queen long ago proved she’s an adult and can take care of herself without the good Bishop’s protection.

We’ll see what happens over the next two days – with any luck, England and Wales will become the next places to enjoy full marriage equality.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in the United Kingdom.