Rhode Island Passes Civil Unions Bill

Rhode Island’s Senate has passed  a civil union bill with religious exemptions and is sent to be signed by the governor.

Rhode Island’s bill was approved 21-16 yesterday in a Senate vote and contains a clause permitting religious bodies to disregard the union. These religious bodies include schools, hospitals, and cemeteries. Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee has stated he is going to sign the bill despite criticism by gay rights activists who view the unions as unequal to marriage.

I have to agree with the gay rights activists on this one, civil unions were created as an inferior form of marriage and do not provide the same rights.In accepting civil unions same-sex couples are essentially compromising their rights to please bigots who don’t think same-sex unions are as valid or worthwhile.

The Rhode Island bill should not allow a religious or any group to disregard a state provided right. Imagine your partner is in an accident and taken to a hospital closest to the accident site.  The hospital is religious and when you arrive to see your spouse on his or her deathbed the hospital says you aren’t family and can’t see them. The hospital is permitted to “disregard” your union and meanwhile you don’t get to see your partner before it’s too late.  Rhode Island’s civil union bill has been written to allow that situation to be a reality. If it isn’t equal, it isn’t good enough.

Source: Pink News

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U.S. Department of Health Will Now Seek LGBT Health Data

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will begin collecting health data on LGBT individuals in 2013,  and will also develop new guidelines for reporting on race and ethnicity.

The U.S. Department of Health was facing pressure from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies which had released reports recommending more data inclusion on LGBT populations to narrow the gap between heterosexual and homosexual healthcare inequities.

In 2013 the Department of Health will begin including questions about health that relate to gender and sexual orientation under the Affordable Care Act. It’s about time!

GLAAD Petitions Arkansas Paper For Refusing to Mention Same-Sex Partner in Obituary

An online petition has been created by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation asking that an Arkansas newspaper reprint and edit an obituary that was originally published without mention of the deceased man’s partner.

The Batesville Daily Guard ran the obituary last month excluding same-sex partner of the late John Christopher Millican. The couple had been partnered for 10 years preceding Millican’s death on June 11th.  The paper claims that it is unwilling to violate its policy of not mentioning unmarried partners. GLAAD now asks that the paper apologize to Millican’s partner, Terrence James, and rewrite the obituary.

Personally, I understand that the paper has maintained a particular policy but why kick a man when he’s down? James just lost his partner, and whether they were married or not, the deceased would most likely want his love published.

To sign the petition click here.

 

Source: Advocate

Brazil Permits First Same-Sex Marriage

A judge in Brazil has ruled that a same-sex couple may convert their civil union into a legally recognizable marriage.

Judge Fernando Henrique Pinto gave the ruling yesterday in Sao Paolo to two men, Sergio Kauffman Sousa and Luiz Andre Moresi, who had obtained a civil union following their legalization last May. Pinto cited Brazil’s constitution which states: “families, as the base of society, must be protected” and a couple “living together can, by mutual agreement and at any time, request the conversion of a stable union into a marriage.”

This is good news following Brazilian President Rousseff recalled anti-homophobia kits that had been distributed to schools across the country last month claiming that the views offered of homosexuality were not objective enough.

Source: Pink News, Miami Herald, Philippine Star

Scottish Civil Servants Asked Not to Use the Word ‘Homosexual’

Despite finding this new guidance silly, I am going to express Scottish pride here with my family's tartan and crest.

The Scottish government has released civil servants guidelines requesting they refrain from using the word “homosexual” because it could be offensive to some people.

The government guidance cites the use of “homosexual” in laws formerly criminalizing homosexuality as the source of the words’ offensive quality. The government also asks that civil servants use the word “straight” instead of “heterosexual”. Supposedly, the word heterosexual can cause confusion?

Sadly, StoneWall Scotland a homosexual activist group supports the guidelines saying they are offended when the government uses a term associated with the oppression of a minority through law. Personally, I don’t think the word gay is any better since it is typically used to define male on male sexuality and excludes lesbians and is not a truly accurate adjective. If people would read a book they would see that the word “heterosexual” means people who are sexually attracted to the opposite sex of their own and that homosexual is the best descriptor of same-sex attracted people. Just because a word sounds ‘scientific’ doesn’t mean it is pathological.(Insert Scottish hyperbole here_____!)

 

Source: Pink News

 

Spousal Privilege to Refuse Testifying Extended to Same-Sex Partners in Maryland

A new court ruling in Maryland has extended a spouse’s right to refuse to testify against their mate to same-sex couples.

Deborah Snowden was charged with assault and reckless endangerment following threats to kill her partner Sha’rron with a knife last year. Washington Circuit Court Judge Donald E. Beachley permitted Sha’rron to invoke her right to spousal privilege. Beachley made the decision based on “comity“, or legal reciprocity between states who have different laws, claiming that the Washington D.C. marriage of the Snowdens is valid enough for the court’s recognition despite Maryland being a state where same-sex couples can not be married legally.

Although the domestic abuse case itself is depressing,  Maryland’s willingness to recognize same-sex marriages is a move toward greater marriage equality.

Source: Washington Post

 

Genderless Pre-Schooling?

Do you get frightened by the idea of your child having a social gender? Well, then you need to send your kids to Egalia preschool in Stockholm, Sweden!

At Egalia, students are referred to as “friends” not ” “girls and boys”. Teachers avoid specifying a student’s gender in an effort to encourage full self-exploration and openness to pursuing any future desired without gender restrictions.  The school is funded by taxpayers and was designed to create greater gender equality from childhood on in Swedish society.

I think a better plan for gender equality would include incentives for women and men to be given incentives to join professions typically occupied by the opposite sex as well as a greater number of media images depicting men and women in the same professions.  Sweden’s efforts seem a bit socialist and more likely to de-gender than equalize. Providing equal opportunities doesn’t necessitate failing to recognize your biological sex as part of your identity.

Source: 39 Online

New York Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions

I’ll admit it, I am a little behind in the ‘gay news’. I was in Toronto when New York Marriage Equality passed and was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last Friday at 11:55 PM following a vote of 33-29 vote passing the bill in the state senate.  New York is the most populous state to permit same-sex marriage in the United States, and my home.  I am impressed by Gov. Cuomo’s efforts to see this through, and still thankful that silly Carl Paladino never made it to office.

The new marriage law exempts for religious and other “benevolent” organizations who do not wish to facilitate same-sex marriages or activities associated with same-sex weddings. Not only are specifically religious organizations exempt, but also non profits under their control as well as that non profit’s employees.  This may upset some, but why would you want a religious group to be forced into serving you in their religion that says you are going to hell? I wouldn’t, there is no use seeking the approval of those who want you unhappy.  Any way, on a happier note,  congratulations New Yorkers!

Source: Advocate

Liechtenstein Creates Same-Sex Registered Partnerships

Same-sex couples in Liechtenstein have received some encouraging news as the nation’s voters are supporting a new law permitting gay and lesbian couples to register their partnerships.

Over 68% of voters backed the new provision despite the protests of religious groups claiming that the traditional Liechtensteinian family values will be compromised in granting these rights.

The new provision will create equal rights between heterosexual and same-sex couples in regard to inheritance, social security, immigration and taxation. Unfortunately, same-sex couples will still be restricted from adopting children or using in vitro fertilization procedures.

Source: Associated Press

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