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Anti-LGBT Bills Become Law in Michigan, North Carolina

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Two states enshrined anti-LGBT discrimination into law yesterday, legalizing dangerously broad “religious freedom” aka right to discriminate laws.

The first one was North Carolina, where the House rushed through a veto override with no time for discussion. The Washington Blade reports:

North Carolina Map

The North Carolina legislature has succeeded in overriding Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of controversial legislation that would enable magistrates to opt out of performing marriages to which they have religious objection, including a same-sex union. The override succeeded in the House on Thursday by a vote of 69-41, which is three votes more than the three-fifths vote needed for the legislative maneuver. The Senate already succeeded in overriding the veto last week by a vote of 32-16. The legislation, Senate Bill 2, would enable magistrates and registers of deeds to opt out of issuing marriage licenses for a period of at least six months to same-sex couples — or any couple — based on a religious objection.

Up north in Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder wasted no time signing his own state’s bills. The Washington Blade reports:

Michigan

“Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law on late Thursday morning a package of religious freedom bills seen to enable anti-LGBT legislation in the state’s adoption agencies. Snyder announced he had signed the legislation — House Bills 4188, 4189, 4190 — just one day after the Michigan Senate approved the bills. The Michigan House already passed the bills in March. In a statement, Snyder said he signed the legislation as a means to ensure children without homes in Michigan have access to families to care for them. The new laws are set to go into effect in 90 days.”

Let’s be clear that the laws in both states allow someone to refuse service to anyone, not just gays and lesbians, based on their own personal religious beliefs.

Discrimination is Not Religious Freedom

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

Reverend Irene MonroeA movement is afoot in state legislatures across the country to disenfranchise LGBTQ Americans. There are a surprisingly number of bills being introduced in state legislative session, which outrightly sanction and enforce LGBTQ discrimination. These bills are called “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” (RFRA), but don’t be fooled. These lawmakers are looking to codify LGBTQ discrimination.

This week the Georgia Senate, with a vote of 37-15, approved controversial RFRA (House Bill 1023). The bill doesn’t want the state’s Christian religious conservatives, fundamentalists and evangelicals to “substantially burden” their personal religious practices and beliefs. What, you may ask, could possibly be such a burden to Christians in Georgia that a state law is necessitated? Burden, according the bill, is defined as:

“‘Burden’ means any government action or implementation or application of any law, including, but not limited to, state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations, and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, that directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails, or denies the exercise of religion by any person or that directly or indirectly pressures any person to engage in any action contrary to that person’s exercise of religion, including, but not limited to, withholding benefits, assessing criminal, civil, or administrative penalties, and exclusion from government programs or access to government facilities.”

But let’s be clear, the only religious folk lawmakers hope to protect from a “substantially burden” is Christians. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and other non-Christian Georgians don’t merit protection. As a matter-of-fact, these demographic groups — along with atheists and LGBTQs — can easily be subject to egregious forms of discrimination, bigotry and hate crimes under the guise of religion.

Authored By Reverend Irene Monroe – See the Full Story at SDGLN

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Matt Baume’s Field Guide to Sneaky Homophobic Bills

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Matt Baume

In a special two part video, Matt Baume takes viewers on a safari adventure through the country as he points out the four major types of anti-LGBT laws that are stealthily stealing away civil rights for everyone and what we can all do to stand up to this homophobic backlash.

Said Baume:

“Anti-gay discrimination is going extinct. But it’s not going without a fight. A beast is at its most desperate when its facing starvation. So it will do anything to adapt, to survive, and to pass itself on to the next generation.”

See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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White House Clarifies What Laws Apply to Married Same Sex Couples

Friday, June 20th, 2014

White HouseThe White House has finished a year-long study of the impact of last year’s Supreme Court decisions for marriage equality on the Federal Government.

The bad news? Some benefits will not be available to couples who move to states that don’t recognize their marriages.

The Washington Blade reports:

…the administration will announce federal laws that look to the state of residence instead of the state of celebration to determine whether a couple is married “preclude the federal government from extending benefits to legally married couples regardless of where they currently live,” the official said. That means, under current law, certain Social Security and veterans benefits won’t be available to married same-sex couples if they wed in one state, but move to one of the 30 states without marriage equality and apply for the benefits there.

So if you marry in California and move to Arizona, forget the Social Security survivor benefits.

The good news?

The Department of Labor is set to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on the Family & Medical Leave Act, clarifying an employee is eligible for leave to care for a same-sex spouse — even if the couple lives in a non-marriage equality state. The rule builds off an earlier announcement in August in which the Labor Department indicated married same-sex couples were eligible under the FMLA, but that development only applied to couples living in states with marriage equality.

Fixing the issues will likely require either congressional action (which looks extremely unlikely in the foreseeable future) or a Supreme Court decision striking down the remaining marriage equality bans.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Why You Can’t Ban Gays From Your Lunch Counter

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Gay RightsSupporters of same-sex marriage have been quick to condemn Arizona’s “religious freedom” bill as pure homophobia. Not so fast. Unlike earlier legislative efforts to block gay marriage, this law, which would permit businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds, is probably constitutional.

Yet Governor Jan Brewer still shouldn’t sign it. To understand why, let’s look at why personal discrimination is a protected right and business discrimination a social wrong.

Start with the all-important process whereby the religious right has lost the fight over same-sex marriage. In case after case, starting with the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the courts have asked whether there is a legitimate reason for laws restricting marriage to one man and one woman. In the absence of such a reason, any prohibition is held to violate equal protection of the laws.

Authored By Noah Feldman – See the Full Story at Bloomberg

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Russia: Updates on Sochi and the Anti Gay Laws

Friday, February 7th, 2014

As the Sochi olympics get underway, we have some updates on the games and Russia’s anti gay propaganda law.

Dutch SnowboarderOur favorite story of the morning – Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas showed her support for the LGBT community at the end of her run.

Towleroad.com reports:

Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas, who is one of six openly gay athletes competing in Sochi, failed to qualify in the slopestyle event at Sochi yesterday and will have to try again on Saturday. As the camera focused on Maas at the end of her run she looked right into it and lifted a gloved hand to the lens – which just happened to be covered in unicorns and rainbows.

This is awesome in so many ways.

Google FoodleGoogle also jumped on the protest bandwagon.

Towleroad.com reports:

Google’s Doodle has gone rainbow in an apparent response to the Sochi Games and Russia’s law banning ‘gay propaganda’. A quote from the Olympic Charter sits below the doodle: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

How many millions of people use Google and will see this meassage? I wonder if it’s appearing in Russia?

Channel Four Rainbow LogoThe UK’s Channel 4 also got into the act.

Joe.My.God reports:

This is fantastic. Via the Guardian: Channel 4 is to rebrand its on-screen logo with rainbow colours of the gay pride flag – and launch a TV ad campaign called “Gay Mountain” – joining the rising wave of protests about Russia’s anti-gay laws on the eve of the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics. Channel 4, which has the TV broadcast rights to the Winter Paralympics, joins the growing ranks showing their support for gay athletes and protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws.

In other news, Asian leaders seemed unconcerned by the debate over LGBT rights at the Games.

Edge Boston reports:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Chinese counterpart appear not to be bothered by the international ruckus over Russia’s law restricting gay rights. Unlike President Barack Obama, who pointedly declined to attend the Winter Olympics, the leaders of the world’s second and third largest economies – where gay rights are not a hot-button political issue – are going to Sochi. Also skipping the event are French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German President Joachim Gauck.

Not surprising, given that gays in both countries have very few rights.

Queerty takes a look at the protests, and what may happen next:

The Russian government will not take kindly to protests in Russia proper, to stay the least, so while the games offer a world stage for activists, they’ll be subjected to a brutal police force backed by harsh anti-propaganda laws. The wimpy IOC isn’t making things any easier by walking on eggshells, and for gay and hundreds of pro-gay straight athletes whose competitive (and sponsorship) aspirations hinge on these Olympics, dreams of the podium should and will occupy almost every waking thought. Even so, we foresee high drama and lots of conflict — that much we can be sure of. Here’s a look at the ways people are already protesting, what we may see once the games are under way and what you can do.

Gay activists are launching a Sochi war room in New York.

The New York Times reports:

Activists angry about a law in Russia against “homosexual propaganda” are intensifying efforts to mock and minimize the Winter Games. Some intend to operate what they call a #CheersToSochi War Room on Friday, during the NBC coverage of the opening ceremony, in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. The name refers to a hashtag in social media promoted by McDonald’s that was co-opted by protesters to the point where McDonald’s stopped using it. The war room initiative will give participants a chance to “provide alternative commentary, using Twitter, Facebook and social media networks,” an invitation on Facebook reads, and “challenge the pro-Russia, pro-International Olympic Committee and sponsor-driven messages broadcast by NBC.”

Russia has arrested four gay rights activists in St. Oetersburg.

Gay Star News reports:

Russia has made the first arrests of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Four gay rights activists, including one pregnant woman, were arrested in St Petersburg today. LGBTI advocate Anastasia Smirnova led the group holding a banner, according to the Russian LGBT network. It said: ‘Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter.’ Speaking to Gay Star News, a police spokesman confirmed the arrests and said they would be held until further notice. They could answer no further questions at this time.

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USA: More States Considering Allowing Christian Business Owners to Discriminate

Monday, January 27th, 2014

KansasFollowing in the footsteps of a proposed law in Arizona, at least two more states are considering laws that would let business owners discriminate based on sexual orientation.

LGBTQ Nation reports on Kansas:

With the legal climate uncertain for states banning gay marriage, Kansas lawmakers are considering a proposal designed to allow individuals, groups and businesses to refuse to recognize or provide goods, services or benefits to gay couples based on their religious beliefs. The legislator pushing the bill says it’s designed to protect religious freedom, and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is receptive to the idea, though he hasn’t yet studied the proposal enough to offer a formal endorsement. However, critics say the measure promotes discrimination against gays and lesbians, and is so broadly written that it could apply to any couple, gay or straight, with a less-than-traditional union.

South Dakota mapAnd On Top Magazine reports from South Dakota:

South Dakota Republicans have introduced two bills which seek to allow clergy, church officials and businesses to refuse to take part in gay marriages and related events. State Senator Ernie Otten said his bills were necessary in case a court overturns the state’s ban on such unions. The bills would allow clergy and businesses to refuse to perform or supply goods or services to same-sex marriages or receptions because of their religious beliefs.

You can ind the news about Arizona here.

Smells like an ALEC bill to me, being spread state-to-state by one of these shadow groups. What do you think? Do these folks realize these laws could be used to justify a Muslim or Buddhist vendor when they refuse to marry a Christian couple?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Kansas.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Dakota.

Marriage Equality Policy and Legal Updates – December 23-29

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Marriage Equality USA closely monitors marriage equality polls, ballots, laws, and lawsuits nationwide, and updates its website with changes in these areas on a near-daily basis. Every Monday we update you with policy and legal updates covering the preceding week.

You may always find the most up-to-date information, including changes that have taken place between these weekly posts, on the Current Policy & Legal Status page on the MEUSA website.

See this week’s updates on the MEUSA news blog…

Marriage Equality Policy and Legal Updates – December 16-22

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Marriage Equality USA closely monitors marriage equality polls, ballots, laws, and lawsuits nationwide, and updates its website with changes in these areas on a near-daily basis. Every Monday we update you with policy and legal updates covering the preceding week.

You may always find the most up-to-date information, including changes that have taken place between these weekly posts, on the Current Policy & Legal Status page on the MEUSA website.

See this week’s updates on the MEUSA news blog…

Marriage Equality Policy and Legal Updates – December 2-8

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Marriage Equality USA closely monitors marriage equality polls, ballots, laws, and lawsuits nationwide, and updates its website with changes in these areas on a near-daily basis. Every Monday we update you with policy and legal updates covering the preceding week.

You may always find the most up-to-date information, including changes that have taken place between these weekly posts, on the Current Policy & Legal Status page on the MEUSA website.

See this week’s updates on the MEUSA news blog…