Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
2013-JAN: Accelerating steps toward same-sex
marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
See also the previous essay describing events during 2012-DEC
The Obama administration announced on 2011-FEB-23 that it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. Some commentators predicted that this decision would generate a tipping point that will lead to a more rapid decline in discrimination against sexual minorities in the U.S.
One remarkable confirmation of this prediction occurred almost two years later on the evening of election day, 2012-NOV-06, when the results from four state referendums on same-sex marriage (SSM) became clear:
All four referendums resulted in SSM-positive decisions with a margin of about 5 to 6 percentage points. This compares to referendums which terminated SSM in California during 2008 and Maine during 2009 by about the same margin.
The momentum towards marriage equality continues, and has become a groundswell.
Developments during the month toward marital equality and a lessening of discrimination against sexual minorities:
2013-JAN: Over the Christmas/New Years holidays, referendums giving same-sex couples the right to marry became active in Maine, Maryland and Washington State.
In six states, there is activity to recognize same-sex relationships:
Colorado: A civil unions bill was killed in 2012. However it will be reintroduced to the state Senate on 2013-JAN-23.
Delaware: Civil unions have been available since the start of 2012. There is speculation that same-sex marriage legislation will be introduced during 2013.
Hawaii: A 1998 amendment to the state constitution gives the legislation the authority to define marriage in the state. There is speculation that a SSM bill will be introduced during 2013.
Illinois: A bill to legalize SSM has been introduced to the House and Senate. The Governor has expressed support.
Oregon: There is speculation that a citizen initiative will be launched in 2013 for a referendum on election day in 2014-NOV.
Rhode Island :A bill to legalize SSM has been introduced to the House and Senate. The Governor has expressed support.
2013-JAN-02: Maggie Gallagher ends syndicated column: Ms Gallagher founded the National Organization for Marriage whose sole purpose is to prevent marriage by same-sex couples. For 17 years, she wrote a weekly column promoting conservative beliefs about the family. She strongly believes that marriage must be restricted to one man and one woman with the man as leader and protector while the woman truly submissive. She strongly opposed divorce as a solution to toxic marriages. She ended her column in a negative tone, writing:
"I say my farewell to optimism and my hello to hope. ... The future belongs to those of us with enough hope to rebuild on the ashes of optimism, a new American civilization -- uniting sex, love, babies, mothers and fathers in this thing called marriage." 1,2
Her hoped-for future has no room for loving, committed same-sex couples or parenting.
2013-JAN-03: Illinois State Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady supports SSM bill, in opposition to both the state and national Republican Party platforms. He cited conservative concern for families and the need to treat everyone equally:
"Giving gay and lesbian couples the freedom to get married honors the best conservative principles. It strengthens families and reinforces a key Republican value -- that the law should treat all citizens equally."
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) quickly responded by emailing a message to their mailing list, saying that:
"Republican activists and pro-family voters from every corner of Illinois are outraged and calling on Pat Brady to resign as leader of the party.
Marriage and family are central, not just to the Republican Party platform, but to the votes and values of Republicans across the nation. NOM joins with voices from across the state in demanding that Pat Brady step down or be removed as leader of the party.
NOM asked that any financial supporters of the GOP in Illinois divert their contributions to NOM until Brady is replaced." More details.
2013-JAN-03: UK: European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) rules against homophobia: The ECHR issued a ruling in four cases involving conservative Christians and religious freedom. Two cases involved simple religious freedom questions: whether an employee had the right to wear a cross on a necklace if their employer didn't want them to. The other two dealt with what is the new common form of religious freedom: the religious right to discriminate and denigrate lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Of the latter two:
One ruled against a relationship counselor who reneged on a previous commitment to his employer by refusing to accept same-sex couples for sex therapy. He said that to do so would be to promote homosexuality and that was against his religious beliefs.
The other ruled against a civil servant who violated her oath of office by refusing to implement government legislation fairly and without discrimination. She frequently conducted civil marriage ceremonies for opposite-sex couples. However, she refused to conduct similar civil partnerships for same-sex couples -- again because it violated her religious beliefs.
Both plaintiffs are appealing their case to the Grand Chamber. It is a higher ECHR panel of five judges that will deliver a final decision.
2013-JAN-13: DC: Washington National Cathedral to host same-sex weddings: Randi Kaye of CNN interviewed the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington National Cathedral, -- an Episcopal Church, USA congregation, about the national church's decision to host same-sex weddings.
2013-JAN-15: UK: Report on acceptance of loving, committed same-sex relationships by evangelical pastor: Rev. Steve Chalke, a prominent evangelical and Baptist leader, has declared his support for same-sex relationships. He criticized the widespread rejection of "faithful gay relationships" because it has left too many people feeling:
"... vulnerable and isolated. When we refuse to make room for gay people to live in loving, stable relationships, we consign them to lives of loneness, secrecy and fear. It's one thing to be critical of a promiscuous lifestyle - but shouldn't the Church consider nurturing positive models for permanent and monogamous homosexual relationships? ... Some [fellow evangelicals] will think that I have strayed from scripture - that I am no longer an evangelical. I have formed my view, however, not out of any disregard for the Bible's authority, but by way of grappling with it and, through prayerful reflection, seeking to take it seriously. ... People’s lives are at stake,” he says. “Numerous studies show that suicide rates among gay people, especially young people, are comparatively high. Church leaders sometimes use this data to argue that homosexuality is unhealthy when tragically it's anti-gay stigma, propped up by Church attitudes, which, all too often, drives these statistics."
2013-JAN-17: Canada: chartered bank reaches out to same-sex couples:TD Canada Trust displayed a 2/3 page ad in the Toronto Star newspaper. Under a really dumb heading: "We think having a plan for the future is a really good plan for the future," they show a loving couple holding hands walking along a sandy beach towards the sunset. Closer examination shows that the couple consists of two men.
2013-JAN-21: DC: President Obama refers to SSM as civil rights battle: In his second inaugural address he reviewed past civil rights accomplishments and discussed civil rights yet to be accomplished, including access by the LGB community to marriage, elimination of wage gap between men and women, and equal voting rights. He said:
"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign -- a major gay-positive group -- issued a statement saying that President Obama:
"... made history. ... By lifting up the lives of LGBT families for the very first time in a [Presidential] inaugural address, President Obama sent a clear message to LGBT young people from the Gulf Coast to the Rocky Mountains that this country's leaders will fight for them until equality is the law of the land. ... As the merits of marriage equality come up for debate from state houses to the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court, and a broad majority of Americans are standing up for liberty and fairness, the president's unequivocal support for equality is a clarion call that all Americans should receive with celebration"
In rebuttal, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage -- a group whose main function is to prevent marriage equality -- said that same-sex couples are:
"... already treated equally under the law. They have the same civil rights as anyone else; they have the right to live as they wish and love whom they choose. What they don't have is the right to redefine marriage for all of society."
Brown's statement is both right and wrong. He is wrong when he says that same-sex couples have the same rights as anyone else. They don't have the right to marry the person that they love and to whom they are committed. He should definitely know this because his group has invested tens of millions of other people's money to prevent them from marrying. He is correct when he said that they don't have the right to redefine marriage. That is up to the courts and legislatures.
Brown also criticized President Obama for using the inaugural address to:
"voice his support for a radical agenda advanced by some of his biggest campaign contributors."
Most American adults seem to feel that SSM is not a radical concept. Multiple national polls since 2011 have shown that a majority of adults support SSM, and the margin of support is increasing steadily. 3
2013-JAN-21: DC: LGBT band performs at the Inauguration Parade: The Lesbian and Gay Band Association, LGBA, is an international organization of LGBT bands. They formed part of the Inauguration parade in 2009-JAN -- the first LGBT band allowed to do so. This year, there were more than 3,000 bands applying, from which the LGBA and 49 other bands were selected to perform. They formed part of the third contingent of bands along with bands representing other civil rights groups. They wore matching lavender tops, black slacks and white trim.
2013-JAN-22: RI: Bill HB5015 passed by the House: Civil Unions are currently available for loving, committed same-sex couples in Rhode Island. However, the 2011 law contains the Corvese Amendment which allows religious institutions and companies or individuals affiliated with religious institutions to refuse to recognize these unions. A bill to legalize same-sex marriages passed unanimously in the House Judicial Committee. It currently does not include a similar amendment. Three days later it passed overwhelmingly in the House. If the bill becomes law, it would make SSM available in all of the New England states and the adjacent New York State. More details.
2013-JAN-23: CO: The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee approves civil union bill: One amendment was proposed, but was rejected. It would have allowed religiously based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples in civil unions. The vote was 3 to 2 in favor, along strict party lines. More details
2013-JAN-25 to 28: Bill introduced to the UK Parliament: Currently, the UK only has a form of civil union for same-sex couples. On JAN-25 a bill was introduced to Parliament to legalize same-sex marriage. In a hopeless attempt to activate the UK public, a Roman Catholic Archbishop Smith arranged to distribute one million postcards asking voters to contact their Member of Parliament. More details
2013-JAN-28: US: The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) may change its discrimination and denigration polices towards gays: The BSA has refused to admit new members who are gay, bisexual, or non-theistic during all of its 103 years. They have expelled any such members when they are discovered within the organization. Findings of Fact, during a DC court case found that:
"If a youth comes to a Scoutmaster and admits to doing wrong, like stealing, lying, cheating or vandalizing, the normal procedure is to counsel the youth privately and sympathetically. ... If the
youth admits to being a homosexual, the Boy Scouts' policy is to instantly terminate his association with Scouting." 6
During 2012-JUL, a secret committee of the BSA discussed whether to accept gays and bisexuals as other youth groups have already done -- including the Girl Scouts of the USA, Camp Fire, Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and the 4-H club. The committee decided to retain their discriminatory policies and continue to expel anyone in their group that they determine are gay or bisexual. A very large number of BSA troops are affiliated with denominations that actively teach anti-gay beliefs and/or engage in anti-gay practices. Examples include the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon or LDS Church), and most evangelical denominations. That decision probably made a lot of economic sense. Such faith groups might well withdraw all of their troops from the BSA and necessitate a massive downsizing of the BSA.
However, a number of news sources have indicated that the BSA's executive board is expected to reconsider lifting the ban on gay members during its next meeting scheduled for the week of 2013-FEB-03. 7
2013-JAN-28: Kathlene Wynne won the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party in Canada. She is set to become the first female and first openly LGBT premier of the province of Ontario. This position is similar to that of governor in a U.S. state. Arthur Kong, executive director and co-founder of Proud Politics -- a group promoting more LGBT leaders in government, said that she is an inspiration to LGBT youth. He said:
"There’s always this bias toward males in the community, in terms of portrayal in the LGBT community. Her and her partner/wife being out in the public, I think, will encourage more young women who are labeled as LGBT … to step out and take on leadership roles, in whatever capacity that they are in." 8
2013-JAN-30: Actor Jim Nabors marries long-time male partner in Washington state: Jim Nabors, 82, who played major roles in role in the 1960's TV programs "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallander, 64, a former Honolulu firefighter. They flew from Hawaii where they live to Washington DC which had just legalized SSM. Nabors commented:
"I am not an activist, particularly. But I think every single human being has the right to choose the person they want to spend their life with. That's not even an argument, it's just a God-given right." 9
2013-JAN-31: CO: The Colorado Appropriations Committee approves civil union bill: Again, all four Democrats voted for the bill, all three Republicans voted against it. More details