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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.

Slovakia Anti Gay Activists Push to Ban Marriage Equality

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Slovakia - Google MapsThere’s a movement afoot in Slovakia to ban gay marriage via a referendum.

Joe.My.God reports:

The constitutional definition of marriage, which some gay-right-advocates openly called a ban on same-sex marriages, does not go far enough, some conservative activists say, as they gather signatures to force a referendum that would make the laws even stronger. Behind the referendum initiative is the Alliance for Family (AZR), which declares itself a non-partisan and non-religious organisation and which emerged during the preparations for the September 2013 March for Life as an alliance of dozens of pro-family organisations. It has collected over 300,000 signatures under its petition, which needs to be signed by 350,000 citizens in order to be binding for the president to hold a referendum. The AZR hopes to achieve this aim by the end of this summer, the Sme daily reported. The referendum could possibly be held together with the November 15 municipal elections.

Does it surprise you to know that a group of Catholic Bishops are backing the petition?

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Image via Google Maps

USA, California: Effort to Repeal Transgender Kids Law Failing So Far

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Transgender FlagThis just in from Equality California:

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All kids should have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate. It’s that simple, really.

We promised to keep you updated on the status of a referendum attempt to overturn the School Success and Opportunity Act, or AB 1266, the law that came into effect on January 1 and ensures all kids can go to school, be themselves and do well. The early reports are encouraging.

Opponents of the law did not qualify on the first count, but met the threshold for a full, hand count of all their signatures. The opponents, many of whom were also behind Proposition 8, need to have gathered 504,760 valid signatures to qualify the referendum.

Early returns from the hand count suggest they are not uncovering the additional signatures they need. Of 58 counties, 40 have submitted their final signature counts, and 99,537 of those 125,894 signatures are valid. That is a validity rate of about 79 percent; less than the 81.4 percent they need to qualify. The remaining counties would need to dramatically improve over the spot check in order to make it to the ballot. It will still be close, but I am cautiously optimistic — unless there was a significant problem with the spot check — they will not have enough signatures. To be clear, it is possible, but very improbable, and we just won’t know until the final count. February 24 marks the final deadline for the state to complete a full count of the signatures submitted by opponents who are trying to repeal the law.

I’ve met young people whose lives are already being changed by AB 1266, and I know there are many more out there. For example, Ashton is a 16-year-old transgender boy from Manteca. He lives as a boy but was assigned to girls’ gym class — this singled him out and made going to school difficult. After learning about AB 1266, his school administrators met with him and his parents and made a plan for him to join the boys’ PE class. Now Ashton is happy and doing well at school. Zoey, a 12-year-old transgender girl in the Los Angeles area, has a supportive mom who says that the new law has already provided helpful guidance for her principal, teachers and classmates so that her little girl can be herself at school.

While I never would have chosen to have AB 1266 challenged like this, we have come together as a community to support these transgender kids. The students have been joined by their parents, friends and classmates. Together, Equality California, the Transgender Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, GSA Network, Gender Spectrum, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, and nearly 100 organizations have stepped up as part of the Support All Students effort to defend the law.

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In related news, after losing in the federal appeals system three times, the opponents of the law are petitioning the US Supreme Court to support their cause.

Equality on Trial reports:

As anticipated, the group challenging California’s ban on so-called LGBT “conversion therapy” for minors has filed their petition asking the Supreme Court to review the case. A three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that the law is constitutional, when Liberty Counsel brought a challenge on behalf of several anti-LGBT groups, including National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The challengers sought en banc review in the Ninth Circuit, a request for the case to be heard by a larger panel of 11 judges in that circuit. That request was denied by a majority of sitting judges.

Tenacious in their efforts to ensure some of our most vulnerable members have no protections, aren’t they?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in California.

USA, Oregon: Marriage Equality Group Has 120% of the Signatures Needed

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Oregon United for Marriage ButtonThe Oregon United for Marriage group has exceeded the number of signatures needed (if all are valid) to put marriage equality on the ballot there in November. From their press release:

During Valentine’s Day weekend, Oregon United for Marriage is kicking off a series of parties and events across the state to finish collecting the signatures needed to place the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection initiative on the ballot.

“We have nearly 140,000 signatures in hand, and we know there are thousands more out there,” said campaign manager Mike Marshall. “Now is the time to get them in to Oregon United’s headquarters. And if you haven’t signed yet—and you want to put your name on this historic petition—you have just a few weeks to help us put this on the ballot.”

All signatures are due to the campaign on March 15. Most of the signatures have been collected by volunteers, and the campaign cannot start processing the signatures for turn in to the Oregon Secretary of State until they are all in hand. To qualify the marriage equality initiative for the November ballot, 116,284 valid signatures must be turned in the the Oregon Secretary of State by July 3.

Volunteers can drop off petition sheets at the campaign headquarters at 727 NE 24th Ave., Portland, 97232; at the Eugene office at 120 West Broadway, Eugene, 97401; or mail them to Oregon Says I Do, PO Box 14250, Portland, Ore. 97214. More information: www.OregonSaysIDo.org.

During this Oregon Unites for Love weekend, Oregon United for Marriage has planned two dance parties and more than 100 house parties across the state. The campaign will also have a kissing booth set up.

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They are also planning some upcoming events:

Portland

Pre-Valentine’s Day Dance Party: 9 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13, Dig A Pony, 736 S.E. Grand Ave., Portland. IBQT will anchor the evening with a live performance. Music by IBQT, Holla ‘N Oates, Roy G Biv. Free. 21+. RSVP.

Valentine’s Day Kissing Booth: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Feb. 14, at all Salt & Straw Scoop Shops. While you’re there, enjoy a scoop from the new line of chocolate ice creams. A part of the proceeds will go to Oregon United for Marriage for the entire month. RSVP

Post Valentine’s Dance Party: 7 to 11 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, The Melody Ballroom, 615 S.E. Alder St., Portland. DJ Jimbo and XRAY.FM, featuring dance hits of the 70s and 80s. Silent auction. $45 general admission and $100 VIP tickets include beer, wine, cupcakes, truffles, cheese cake and other appetizers. RSVP.

House Party: The home of Jan Waitt, 4 to 6 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16, 147 Manzanita St.

Silverton

House Party: The home of Stu Rasmussen, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16, 313 N. James St., Silverton, 97381.

Corvallis

House Party: The home of Shelley Dubkin Lee, 4 to 6 p.m., Sunday Feb. 16, 1115 NW 30th, Corvallis, 97330.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Oregon.

US, Ohio: Marriage Equality Group Has More Than Enough Signatures to Make the Ballot

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

OhioA group pressing for a 2014 or 2016 vote on marriage equality has gathered almost twice as many signatures as they need for the ballot, but are pushing for more.

The Columbus Dispatch reports:

The group pushing to overturn Ohio’s 12-year-old constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman says it has 650,000 signatures on a petition to put a gay-marriage measure on the statewide ballot. FreedomOhio’s goal: a million signatures by this summer’s filing deadline for the November election. Only 385,247 valid signatures are needed. “We see strongest support amongst women, single moms, minority and youth voters, which is also termed the ‘rising American electorate,'” said the group’s leader, Ian James. “At FreedomOhio, we call these folks ‘the base.'”

But even if the group gets the million names, the decision on whether to go to the ballot in 2014 or 2016 remains up in the air. It will depend, James said, on “having the resources to identify and mobilize majority support.”

The last poll we’ve seen, from last April, favored marriage equality 48-44%.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Ohio.

USA, Florida: Big Marriage Defeat Looms in 2014 (Part 2)

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Rainbow FloridaOur friend Ned Flaherty has written a 7-part investigative series on what’s going on with marriage equality in Florida, and has graciously allowed us to repost it here. Below is part 2. You can find all 7 parts of the series at the New Civil Rights Movement.”

Part 2: Leaders Retreat

Republican political operatives are about to give anti-LGBT hate groups just what they crave: a lopsided defeat for gay rights in the deepest South. NCRM’s 7-part investigative series reveals how progress toward marriage equality in other states is threatened by current events in Florida.

The pre-interview questions forwarded to Brito to prepare for this article were standard political fare. The questions focused on figures for staffing, signatures collected and verified, and funds raised and spent, with updates for actual success vs. future plans in those areas. Campaign managers expect to be asked such questions about people, progress, and money, both before and during media interviews.

As soon as she was asked for current figures, Brito went mute. From mid-November through early January, 24 written requests for an interview were sent to Equal Marriage Florida. Many were never answered, although one request was officially declined by Ms. Heather Gray, who is connected to Vanessa Brito in three unique ways. Heather Gray is the Media Coordinator at EMFL, reporting to Chairperson/Treasurer Vanessa Brito. Heather Gray also is Deputy Director, and apparently the only other worker at MYami Marketing, Brito’s Republican political consultancy, where Brito is President. And Heather Gray also is Brito’s common-law partner. They say they are legally single, but in a committed relationship.

After they saw the pre-interview questions, Gray canceled the interview that Brito had requested, and together they broke Brito’s promise to share “seamless, transparent” data about the EMFL campaign. Gray not only denied the accuracy of statistics that EMFL itself had previously published, but she also would not explain why she withdrew them, when they changed, what they changed to, or why she changed them.

Since Brito and Gray declined to discuss both their progress and their plans, inquiries were sent to the only three EMFL district co-chairs who still had working e-mail addresses, so that they could shed some light on the campaign’s progress and plans for staffing, signature collection/verification, and fund-raising/spending. Multiple interview requests were e-mailed to: EMFL Broward County District Co-Chair Terry Gray, EMFL Tallahassee District Co-chair Angel de Armendi, and EMFL Miami-Dade County District Co-Chair Mimi Planas, who also is President of the Miami chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. In total, five different leaders were contacted — Brito, Heather Gray, Terry Gray, de Armendi, and Planas — but no one provided any figures, and no one gave any interviews. Four other leaders appear on EMFL’s Web site, but with no working e-mail address or phone.

Since last June, the EMFL Web site has referred to a stream of “exciting” upcoming events such as Pride weeks, parades, film festivals, and church services in which EMFL said it was slated to participate. But spokeswoman Heather Gray declined to identify any events where EMFL actually participated, or any events where it is scheduled to participate.

Tomorrow in this investigative series: Part 3 – Counts for Workers, Signatures, and Dollars

Ned FlahertyNed Flaherty is an LGBT activist currently focused on civil marriage equality, and previously on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. He writes from Boston, Massachusetts, where America’s first same-gender civil marriages began in 2004. He suffered a childhood exposure to Roman Catholic pomp and circumstance, but the spell never took, and he recovered.

Here’s the list of the 7-part series:

Part 1 – LGBT Groups Oppose Equal Marriage Campaign
Part 2 – Leaders Retreat
Part 3 – Counts for Workers, Signatures, and Dollars
Part 4 – Party Plans
Part 5 – Haters Wait With Bated Breath
Part 6 – Promising the Impossible
Part 7 – Prognosis

USA, Oregon: Marriage Equality Petition Drive Reaches Initial Goal

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Oregon Gay MarriageA signature drive in Oregon has reached the number needed to quality for the ballot – if all the signatures are valid.

On Top Magazine reports:

An Oregon petition drive to put the issue of gay marriage before voters next year has hit its goal of 116,284 signatures needed to qualify for the 2014 ballot. The group Oregon United for Marriage announced the milestone Saturday in an email to supporters. “It’s been just four months since we started gathering signatures on the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative,” said Ryan Brown, the group’s field director. “Thanks to volunteer signature gatherers in every Oregon county, I have some amazing news to share: We have over 116,284 signatures in hand!”

The organizers still need to continue to work to get enough signatures to have a buffer for invalid signatures, and to keep the number of invalid and duplicate signatures low.

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USA, California: Anti-Transgender Initiative Unlikely to Qualify for Ballot

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Transgender FlagAn initiative that would overturn California’s new law allowing transgender kids to use the bathroom of their choice at school looks unlikely to make the ballot this year.

The Washington Blade reports:

A total of 504,760 signatures were due last Thursday, which are required to place the law, known as the School Success & Opportunity Act, on the ballot for the 2014 election. Opponents of the measure, led by the Privacy for All Students Coalition, submitted 613,120 signatures from a majority of state counties in favor of overturning the law. But they’re averaging just 75 percent authenticity in the random sample as of Friday, which is significantly below the average ultimately needed to qualify. If the number of valid signatures is less than 95 percent of the 504,760 needed, the measure would fail to qualify for the ballot.

Let’s hope this trend continues. It’s disgusting that these people going after kids. Especially transgender kids, who are going through one of the most difficult things imaginable just dealing with understanding and accepting their gender.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in California.

USA, Oregon: Anti Gay Groups Seek to Put Right to Discriminate Initiative on Ballot

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Oregon Family CouncilAs Oregon gay rights groups gather signatures to put marriage equality on the ballot next year, anti gay groups have come up with a new strategy – put a competing measure on that would allow any wedding vendor to discriminate against LGBT couples.

Think Progress reports:

The proposed Protect Religious Freedom Initiative would create a “right to discriminate” for any business that normally works with weddings. Were it to pass, florists, bakers, photographers, and other wedding professionals could simply refuse to serve same-sex couples without being in violation of the state’s public accommodation nondiscrimination protections. Here’s the proposed text:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if doing so would violate a person’s deeply held religious beliefs, a person acting in a nongovernmental capacity may not be:

(a) Penalized by the state or a political subdivision of this state for declining to solemnize, celebrate, participate in, facilitate, or support any same-sex marriage ceremony or its arrangements, same-sex civil union ceremony or its arrangements, or same-sex domestic partnership ceremony or its arrangements; or

(b) Subject to a civil action for declining to solemnize, celebrate, participate in, facilitate, or support any same-sex marriage ceremony or its arrangements, same-sex civil union ceremony or its arrangements, or same-sex domestic partnership ceremony or its arrangements.

What strikes me is how it specifically calls out same sex couples, implicitly stating that we are second class citizens – and how they mean to keep us that way. Our argument here needs to be – would this be allowed if the initiative read “bi-racial couples” instead of “same sex couples”?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Oregon.

USA, Arkansas: Attorney General Finally Approves Marriage Equality Initiative

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDanielAfter a number of rejections, the Arkansas Attorney General has finally given the go-ahed for an initiative that would legalize marriage equality in the state.

Joe.My.God reports:

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel yesterday approved the wording for a petition drive to place marriage equality to a public vote in 2016. In September he also approved the wording for a separate initiative that would repeal the state’s constitutional ban. The new petition does both. McDaniel’s office certified the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment submitted by the Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality. McDaniel’s certification is required before the group can pursue the 78,133 signatures from registered voters needed to place the proposal on the ballot. “We’re all ready to go, full steam ahead,” said Jack Weir, the group’s founder, who said he hoped to begin gathering signatures soon.. “We couldn’t be more happy.”

A second initiative to repeal the constitutional ban has already been approved to start collecting signatures.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.