Marriage Equality

N.C. House Overrides Veto, Enacts Anti-LGBT Law

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by Michael Lamb – Echelon Magazine

Equality Federation denounced today the enactment North Carolina Senate Bill 2, an anti-LGBT law that allows magistrates and other public officials to opt out of performing marriage services for couples if they have religious objections to certain marriages. The law had been vetoed by Governor Pat McCory, but today the House of Representatives voted 69-41 to override his decision, which means SB 2 will become law.

Ian Palmquist, Equality Federation Director of Leadership Programs, responded, “As a Tar Heel, I’m saddened that my state will allow personal bias to justify state officials opting out of a part of their jobs. One thing is clear: this new law is out of step with the public even in the conservative South. That’s why we’re working hard to lift up the voices for equality in the region and call on legislators to advance common-sense updates to state laws that address, rather than allow discrimination.”

Equality Federation member Equality North Carolina worked tirelessly against the bill. Executive Director Chris Sgro said, “We are disappointed to see the House vote against the the legal rights and best interests of LGBT people and of the entire state of North Carolina. From the business community to local leaders to the governor, North Carolinians have stood up and said SB 2 is deeply problematic and discriminatory legislation. While it targets same-sex couples, in the process it creates problems for all North Carolinians who seek use of taxpayer-funded public services.”

Despite broad opposition from businesses, faith leaders, legal experts, and a majority of Registers of Deeds, in today’s expedited session, GOP leadership disallowed debate over the contentious anti-LGBT bill. The override vote exceeded the required three-fifths majority by a margin of only 3 votes. Ten members, including many who opposed the legislation, were absent.

Afterwards, Governor McCory tweeted, “It’s a disappointing day for the rule of law and the process of passing legislation.”

LGBT organizations are currently working to determine if the law will hold up to legal scrutiny. Equality North Carolina is asking people who face discrimination when seeking a marriage or marriage licence to call them at 919.829.0343 x114.

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Indy Pride Festival 2015

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by SeasonsofPride.com

June 5, 2015 to June 13, 2015

Indy Pride FestivalIndy’s annual LGBT Festival, Parade and Week of Events. Indianapolis, IN.

Indy Pride produces events that educate, honor the history of the GLBT communities, and celebrate the diversity of the Indianapolis Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight communities.

Indy Pride Festival 2015

Indy Pride Festival 2015

 

Marriage Equality to Headline Circle City IN Pride Festival!

Indy Pride, Inc. is pleased to announce a unique headliner for the annual Circle City IN Pride festival:Marriage Equality.

A lawsuit (Baskin v. Bogan) challenging the state’s refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples on June 25, 2014 paved the way for same sex marriage in Indiana. Working in tandem with the Indy Rainbow Chamber, Indy Pride is proud to announce that, for the first time ever, happy couples will be officially married at this year’s Circle City IN Pride Festival, Saturday, June 13.

Circle City IN Pride is one of Indy’s most anticipated events. Its concluding festival garnered some 95,000 attendees last year. This year, couples will be able to marry at the festival through a massive wedding on the main stage, or in a more personal chapel setting.

While Indy Pride cites specifically the legalization of gay marriage as the impetus for offering marriages at the festival, Chris Morehead, Indy Pride president, assures that all are welcomed to register. “This is a first for us, both as an organization and as members of the LGBT community,” he says, “and we want to celebrate marriage equality by hosting a wedding for anyone that wishes to take part. This includes heterosexual couples and those already married who simply wish to renew their vows.”

INDY PRIDE’S BIG HAPPY WEDDING

This appropriately titled massive wedding is free and open for everyone, no matter one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and will take place at 11am on the main stage.

The first 10 couples to register online will have a place on the main stage during the ceremony; however, there is no cap on the number of couples who can participate and there is no registration fee.

NIKI QUASNEY EQUALITY CHAPEL

Thirteen individual 15-minute ceremonies will also be offered at an on-site chapel setting, and will run from 11:30a through 6:00p. Couples will check-in at the Niki Quasney Equality Chapel, with the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. The chapel will be located near the back of the main stage area.

The chapel is named for Niki Quasney, who, along with wife Amy Sandler, bravely joined Lambda Legal’s marriage case against the state of Indiana, even while Niki battled cancer. Niki passed away on Thursday, February 5, 2015, but Niki and Amy’s bravery made history. Their fight will be remembered.

Couples wishing to partake in an individual ceremony at the Niki Quasney Equality Chapel will be required to register online, which will cost $100. The onsite ceremonies will feature amenities to be announced, at this time including seating for 20, flowers provided by lilly lane flowers, and a choice of wedding officiant. Any proceeds after costs will benefit Indy Pride, Inc. and its mission. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Registration is now available at http://shop.indyprideinc.org/marriages.

Couples taking part in any ceremony will be responsible for their own marriage licenses or registrations.

“Circle City IN Pride is a welcoming environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Straight Allies,” says Morehead. “The message is simple: All are welcome.”

Four more headliners will be announced on our Facebook page, one a day, each day this week at noon.

The Circle City IN Pride week of events begins on Friday, June 5, and culminates with the Cadillac Barbie IN Pride Parade and Circle City IN Pride Fest on Saturday, June 13. The full list of events will be announced in the coming weeks. For all the latest information on events throughout the week, please visitwww.CircleCityINPride.org, or follow Indy Pride on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Anti-LGBT Legislation Moves Forward In Texas

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by Michael Lamb – Echelon Magazine

As major companies, technology leaders, faith leaders, and child welfare advocates warn Texas lawmakers to stop the attacks on LGBT Texans and their families, HB 4105 & 3567 move forward

On Tuesday, the Texas House of Representatives is expected to vote on HB 4105, a last ditch effort to shamefully try to stop marriage equality in the state as the Supreme Court considers a case that could lead to nationwide marriage equality. Prohibiting state or local employees from recognizing, granting, or enforcing a same-sex marriage licence or any funds being used for an activity to license or support these marriages, the bill is among more than 20 pieces of anti-LGBT legislation being considered by the Texas legislature.

HB 3567, a bill seeking to allow religious organizations and clergy to not celebrate same-sex marriages, including providing goods and services related to a marriage, is also expected to be heard by the Texas House on Tuesday. It’s Senate companion, SB 2065, could be considered as early as Monday.

Led by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, coalitions including major companies, technology leaders, faith leaders, and child welfare advocates have all strongly condemned these extreme bills, motivated by the same anti-LGBT spirit as Indiana’s RFRA legislation earlier this year, as incredibly bad for business and sending the wrong message of exclusion and discrimination.

Major companies – including major Texas employers like PepsiCo, parent company of Frito Lay, and American Airlines – have made it abundantly clear that these anti-LGBT bills undermine their core values and set dangerous precedents that stifle investment and economic growth.

Over 130 technology leaders – including titans of the industry from Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Verizon, AT&T, and many, many more – have also taken the unprecedented stance of calling for an end to the anti-LGBT legislation in Texas and around the country, saying, “We believe it is critically important to speak out about proposed bills and existing laws that would put the rights of minorities at risk. The transparent and open economy of the future depends on it, and the values of this great nation are at stake.”

17 prominent national religious leaders, from California to the nation’s capital, added their names to a historic statement calling for an end to “religious refusal” bills that allow discrimination against LGBT people.

Major child advocacy groups have joined HRC in opposing an extreme anti-LGBT adoption bill in Texas that is dangerously close to becoming law.

Astonishingly, some Texas lawmakers seem to have completely missed—or are purposely ignoring—the lessons learned from the harmful anti-LGBT debacle in Indiana,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “Lawmakers should sit up and pay attention to the overwhelming opposition to bills like HB 4105 before it’s too late. These bills have nothing to do with Texas values and have everything to do with enshrining discrimination into state law. At a moment when people across this state—and across the country—are calling for all people to be treated fairly, the Texas legislature must not send this state backwards with dangerous and hostile anti-LGBT legislation.”

Texas lawmakers should take careful note of the political and business fallout in Indiana over anti-LGBT legislation signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence.  In a recent case study, HRC showcased a poll revealing that a stunning 75 percent of Hoosiers report that Gov. Pence’s push for the anti-LGBT “religious refusal” bill has damaged Indiana’s business climate. It also showed how the political environment has deteriorated significantly for Gov. Pence. More Hoosiers now think the state is on the “wrong track” than on the “right track,” – his personal approval ratings have plummeted – and he’s now tied with a potential Democratic challenger, in a state that President Obama lost by 10 points in 2012. 53 percent of likely voters said the debate left them with a less favorable opinion of Pence.

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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Landmark Marriage Equality Cases

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by Michael Lamb – Echelon Magazine

The United States Supreme Court heard oral argument today in the landmark Tennessee marriage equality cases and cases from three other states that could bring the freedom to marry to every state across the country when the Court rules by the end of June.

The Tennessee plaintiffs are Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty; Army Reserve Sergeant First Class Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura; and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo. They are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Tennessee attorneys Abby Rubenfeld, Maureen Holland, and Regina Lambert, William Harbison and other attorneys from the Nashville law firm of Sherrard & Roe PLC, and Douglas Hallward-Driemeier and other attorneys from the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP. Hallward-Driemeier and GLAD’s Mary Bonauto argued on behalf of the plaintiffs in the four cases.

Said Tanco, who has a 1-year-old daughter with Jesty: “Sophy and I are overwhelmed and grateful to be part of this historic case. We have received so much support from our family, friends, and neighbors in Tennessee, and we are hopeful the Court will recognize the harms caused to our family and so many others by the discriminatory laws in Tennessee and other states that exclude same-sex couples from the protections of marriage.”  

Said Hallward-Driemeier, who argued on behalf of the plaintiffs: “It is an incredible honor to represent these devoted couples, who have already been lawfully married and established new families, in arguing to vindicate their right to have the states respect their marriages. The plaintiffs in these cases reflect the broad array of couples, from those together for three decades to those just starting young families, and the many instances in which married couples must cross state lines to work for a new employer, give birth at the nearest hospital, or seek out new opportunities. These couples deserve the same respect and stability that states grant other married couples and their families throughout every phase of life.”

Said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter: “Today is historic and we are hopeful the Supreme Court will bring an end to the harms that same-sex couples and their children face when they are treated with such callous disregard for their equal dignity and security as families. Only the Supreme Court can resolve this conflict and affirm that the Constitution guarantees all Americans the freedom to marry and to have their marriages respected regardless of whether they live.”

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Why marriage equality matters for older Americans

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by Michael Lamb – Echelon Magazine

 
By Michael Adams and Jonathan Jacob Nadler
 
For more than thirty years, Kathy Murphy and Sam Baker lived together in a committed relationship.  However, because Kathy was white and Sam was African-American, the State of Texas refused to issue them a marriage license.  Eventually, the couple travelled to Massachusetts, where they were married.  That same year, when Sam was 60, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.  Sam died two years later.  Like most widows, Kathy applied for Social Security spousal survivor benefits.  However, because Texas did not recognize Kathy’s marriage to Sam, the Social Security Administration informed Kathy it did not consider her a “widow” and, therefore, denied her claim, causing her significant emotional and financial harm.

A true story from the Civil Rights Era?  Not exactly.  The events described here took place just a few years ago.  However, Kathy was not married to an African-American man named Sam.  Her spouse was a woman named Sara.

Older lesbians, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) people like Cathy and Sara confront the same challenges as other older people:  declining health, loneliness, and reduced income.  Indeed, older LGBT people face especially great physical, emotional, and financial challenges.  LGBT elders tend to have higher rates of depression, poorer physical health, and – contrary to popular belief – lower incomes than their peers.  Moreover, LGBT older adults often do not have as strong a social support network as their contemporaries.  LGBT elders are twice as likely to live alone, half as likely to have close relatives to call for help, and four times less likely to have children to assist them.

Marriage has proven highly effective for improving the lives of many older people.  Married people tend to have lower rates of depression, disability and disease than unmarried people.  Married people also tend to live longer than single people.  On average, married men live eight to seventeen years longer than single men, while married women live seven to fifteen years longer than single women.  Married people also tend to be more prosperous than their unmarried peers.  For example, married couples in their sixties typically have almost ten times as much in financial assets as single people in the same age group.

Given the unique challenges faced by older LGBT people, the recognition, security, and mutual support that marriage provides could be even more beneficial for older same-sex couples than it has been for older straight couples.  Yet, some states continue to exclude same-sex couples from marriage.  As a result, same-sex couples must worry about being denied rights that straight couples can take for granted.  

These rights become ever-more-important as couples age.  If a woman falls ill or is injured, her husband may be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from her job to care for her.  If a man becomes incapacitated, his wife can make critical healthcare decisions for him.  If the man dies without a will, his widow will automatically inherit their marital home and will owe no taxes on the inheritance.  She can also obtain Social Security survivors benefits.

None of these rights is available to same-sex couples who are unable to marry.  The aging gay man who stays home from work to care for his sick or injured partner can be fired.  The elderly lesbian who becomes incapable of taking care of herself may have a disapproving sibling appointed as her conservator, and may be prevented from having contact with the woman she loves.

While many states now allow same-sex couples to marry, this does not entirely solve the problem.  A straight couple that was married in Massachusetts will still be considered married if they move to Mississippi.  Not so for married same-sex couples:  They may lose their rights if they move to a state that does not recognize their marriage.   As a result, if a gay man dies without a will, his estate may go to a distant relative, rather than the man he lawfully wedded when the couple lived in another state.  Similarly, if two women marry in one state, but later move to a state that does not recognize their marriage, the surviving spouse may have to sell their marital home in order to pay the inheritance taxes.  

Incredibly, two years after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act’s prohibition on federal recognition of same-sex marriages, some married same-sex couples are still being denied federal benefits especially important to older adults.  This is because some federal agencies use the “place of domicile” rule to determine whether a couple is considered married.  As a result, bereaved widows like Kathy continue to be denied Social Security survivors’ benefits because the state in which they live does not recognize their marriage.

The Supreme Court will soon consider whether states are obligated to grant same-sex couples the same marriage rights as other couples.  If the Court finds that the states are required to do so, it will remove some of the uncertainty that darkens the lives of many older same-sex couples.  And it will provide those couples with an opportunity to live healthier, happier, longer, and more prosperous lives.

Adams is executive director for Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders (“SAGE”), which filed in amicus brief in the Supreme Court’s marriage case.  Nadler, a partner in the Washington DC office of Squire Patton Boggs, served as SAGE’s counsel.

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Number of Married Same-Sex Couples Has Tripled in the Last Year

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by Michael Lamb – Echelon Magazine

One in six married same-sex couples live in states that don’t recognize their marriage.

The number of legally married same-sex couples in the United States has tripled in the last year, according to a new poll released today by Gallup that was co-authored by Gary J. Gates, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, and Frank Newport, editor in chief of Gallup.

The new estimate suggests that 390,000 out of nearly 1 million same-sex couples in the U.S. are married. Estimates from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey had the figure at 130,000.

As the Supreme Court considers on Tuesday if same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, these data demonstrate that marriage is already widespread among same-sex couples,” said Gates. “In the last year alone, estimates suggest that more than a quarter million of the 390,000 married same-sex couples in this country got married as state bans on such marriages were lifted across the nation. Even so, about one in six married same-sex couples live in states that currently don’t recognize their marriage.”

Findings from the poll also show that 60,000 married same-sex couples live in the 13 states that do not allow same-sex couples to marry.

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted from January to April 2015 on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey. The study included a random sample of 80,568 adults ages 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Click here for the full report.

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Florida Senate Blocks Discriminatory Adoption Bill

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by Michael Lamb – Echelon Magazine

Yesterday, the Florida Senate voted down a bill (HB 7111) that would have given adoption agencies in the state a license to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender parents. Nevertheless, similar bills are still pending in Michigan and Alabama. These laws would even prevent an aunt from adopting her niece if the child’s mother passed away just because the aunt happened to be a lesbian.

“We applaud the Florida Senate for recognizing that this bill would have hurt the thousands of children in need of adoptive homes in Florida by taking away thousands of potential adoptive parents,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura. “We hope that the legislatures in Michigan and Alabama, who are considering similar bills, will also recognize that these ill-conceived laws will only harm children and families.”

The pending bills in Michigan and Alabama would authorize state-licensed adoption agencies to refuse to place children with prospective adoptive parents who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. These laws are so broad that they would also allow the adoption agencies to discriminate against any parents based on their religion, or any other characteristic that offends the religious beliefs of the agencies.

The Alabama’s bill goes even farther, also allowing state-licensed daycare providers and other providers of any family or children’s services to discriminate against parents and deny them services.

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Senator Inhofe Throws Red Meat At Anti-LGBT Base

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by Michael Lamb – Echelon Magazine

HRC urges Senators to vote against Inhofe amendment

Today, the Human Rights Campaign condemned an amendment introduced in the Senate as a last ditch effort to undermine marriage equality. Introduced by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the anti-LGBT amendment would endorse the idea that businesses and organizations should be allowed to use taxpayer funds to discriminate against married same-sex couples.

With nearly 60 percent of Americans supporting marriage equality, the Senate should reject Sen. Inhofe’s effort to turn back the clock on equality,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Senator Inhofe’s long record of opposition to LGBT rights is already notorious, but the question this week is whether the U.S. Senate rejects his extreme, anti-equality agenda. Sen. Inhofe isn’t even in touch with his own constituents. The Oklahoma legislature rejected more than a dozen bills aimed at harming LGBT people. Fair-minded Senators from both parties should reject this amendment.”

Using misleading language, the amendment attempts to turn the table on non-discrimination provisions by specifically requiring that “…federal agencies do not discriminate against an individual, business, or organization with sincerely held religious beliefs against abortion or that marriage is the union between one man and one woman… .” The First Amendment already protects religious and political speech. This amendment is an attempt to garner support for the faulty idea that businesses and organizations should be able to discriminate against married same-sex couples without jeopardizing their access to government contracts and other federal funds.

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Senator Inhofe Throws Red Meat At Anti-LGBT Base

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by Michael Lamb – Echelon Magazine

HRC urges Senators to vote against Inhofe amendment

Today, the Human Rights Campaign condemned an amendment introduced in the Senate as a last ditch effort to undermine marriage equality. Introduced by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the anti-LGBT amendment would endorse the idea that businesses and organizations should be allowed to use taxpayer funds to discriminate against married same-sex couples.

With nearly 60 percent of Americans supporting marriage equality, the Senate should reject Sen. Inhofe’s effort to turn back the clock on equality,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Senator Inhofe’s long record of opposition to LGBT rights is already notorious, but the question this week is whether the U.S. Senate rejects his extreme, anti-equality agenda. Sen. Inhofe isn’t even in touch with his own constituents. The Oklahoma legislature rejected more than a dozen bills aimed at harming LGBT people. Fair-minded Senators from both parties should reject this amendment.”

Using misleading language, the amendment attempts to turn the table on non-discrimination provisions by specifically requiring that “…federal agencies do not discriminate against an individual, business, or organization with sincerely held religious beliefs against abortion or that marriage is the union between one man and one woman… .” The First Amendment already protects religious and political speech. This amendment is an attempt to garner support for the faulty idea that businesses and organizations should be able to discriminate against married same-sex couples without jeopardizing their access to government contracts and other federal funds.

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Federal Judge Affirms the Freedom to Marry in Kansas

(GayWebSource.com – Gay News & Press Network) – Posted by Michael Lamb – Echelon Magazine

Today U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Kansas.

Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry and author of Winning Marriage, released the following statement:

“Yet another judge – this time in Kansas – has found marriage discrimination to be unconstitutional, joining the nearly unanimous, bipartisan wave of pro-freedom to marry rulings in recent months. Attempts to delay the freedom to marry across the country are not only a waste of time and resources, but also prolong the harms and indignity that same-sex couples and their families continue to endure because of marriage discrimination. It is time for the remaining courts to finish the job and ensure the freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples in America.”

As of last month, a majority of Americans now live in a freedom to marry state, with 32 states currently issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Today’s win in Kansas is in line with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in favor of the freedom to marry in Oklahoma and Utah, which took effect on October 6.  Kansas is one of the six states in the 10th Circuit, and presently the only one not yet issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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