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Religious Tolerance logo

News items affecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals & transsexuals

2009-April, May, June

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In the following, "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage."

See also events in 2009-April, May and June that demonstrate a
culture shift towards acceptance of sexual minorities.

News during 2009-APR:

bullet2009-APR-02: Sweden legalizes same-sex marriage (SSM): Only one of seven political parties in Sweden -- the Christian Democrats -- voted against a bill recognizing SSM. The bill passed 261 to 22. Same-sex couples will be able to obtain marriage licenses on 2009-MAY-01. Sweden becomes the fifth country in Europe to permit SSM, and the seventh in the world. 1 More details.
bullet 2009-APR-03: IA: Unanimous decision of the state supreme court legalizes SSM: In the case of Varnum vs. Brien, six same-sex couples challenged the 1998 Iowa marriage law which limits marriage to one man and one woman. The Iowa Supreme Court delivered a unanimous verdict, ruling that the 1998 law limiting marriage to one man and one woman conflicted with the equal protection clause in the state constitution that requires people -- and thus couples -- to be treated equally. Since the constitution trumps a piece of legislation, they ruled that SSM is legal in the state. More details prior to the ruling and afterwards.
bullet2009-APR-03: VT: Legislature activity to legalize SSM: The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to produce marriage equality in Vermont with a vote of 26 to 4 on 2009-MAR-25. The house passed the bill on APR-02, with a vote of 95 to 52 after an intense four hour debate. This is five "yes" votes short of the number required to overturn the expected governor's veto. Such a veto could be overturned by the state legislature if there is a 2/3 majority in favor of the bill in both the House and Senate. More details

2009-APR-04: USA: Hate crimes legislation introduced in federal House: According to the Task Force Action Fund, a pro-gay advocacy group, hate crimes legislation that has been before Congress many times, has been reintroduced. It has consistently failed in the past. However, this time, with the Democrats in control, it might succeed. More information about past hate-crimes legislation.


2009-APR-06: USA: Pastor Rick Warren apologized for his support of Prop 8: Warren is one of best know evangelical leaders in the U.S.  Prop 8 passed with such a small margin that it might well have been rejected if Warren had actively campaigned against it. On CNN's Larry King Live program, he said the he had written "... to all my gay friends -- the leaders that I knew -- and actually apologized to them." More details.


2009-APR-07: MD: Inheritance rights for same-sex couples: As the laws now stand, when one spouse of a married couple dies, the surviving spouse automatically inherits the house without paying an inheritance tax. When one domestic partner of a same-sex couple dies, the surviving partner is considered a roommate for the purpose of taxation; she or he must pay inheritance tax. The Maryland Senate voted 28 to 19 today to pass SB 785, a bill which would eliminate the inheritance tax on jointly owned primary homes of same-sex domestic partners. Only one senator, Alex Mooney (R- Frederick County) spoke in opposition to the legislation. The corresponding House bill is HP 1215. 2


2009-APR-07: VT: Vermont becomes the fourth state to legalize SSM: The Vermont House and Senate comfortably passed a bill expanding the definition of marriage in the state to include all loving committed couples, whether opposite sex or same-sex. But Governor Jim Douglas, a Republican, vetoed the bill on APR-06. The Senate and House then voted to override the veto. There was no problem with a Senate override. However, the House vote on APR-07 was a squeaker: 100 to 49 in favor of a legislative override -- the absolute minimum required.

Vermont thus became the fifth state in the U.S. to make same-sex marriage available -- the others being California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa. (SSM in California has since been at least temporarily eliminated by Proposition 8). Vermont is the first state to do so by a legislative vote without pressure from a state court. More details.

bullet2009-APR-16: NY: SSM bill: Governor David Paterson is announced that he would introduce a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New York state. 3 More details.
bullet2009-APR-22: GA, MA: Equality California discusses suicides by gay teens: Equality California's (EQCA) newsletter mentioned that an 11 year old male youth in Georgia took his own life after having endured "relentless anti-gay bullying at school." A few weeks earlier, an 11 year old in Massachusetts also committed suicide after having suffered constant homophobic taunts at schools. To date in 2009, there have been a total of four known similar suicides. EQCA commented:

"In our schools and communities there is an epidemic of hate?and the victims are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, those who are perceived to be LGBT, and youth with LGBT parents. That?s why EQCA works to counter this hate through legislation and organizing events like this past weekend's GSA Advocacy & Youth Leadership Academy (GAYLA) and Queer Youth Advocacy Day (QYAD)."

bullet2009-APR-26: Presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) preserve clergy discrimination: During the summer of 2008, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to remove a constitutional requirement that ministers, deacons and elders must live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." This would allow gay, lesbian and bisexual candidates for these positions to live in a loving committed same-sex relationship.

The decision had to be ratified by a majority vote of the denomination's 173 presbyteries. By 2009-APR-26, the voting results were 88 presbyteries opposed and 68 in favor. This means that, whatever the final results, the discriminatory clause will be retained in the denomination's constitution; a majority has voted to retain the status quo. However, it appears that the margin is significantly smaller than in previous years.

Both sides expect the issue to be addressed again in the near future. With the gradual increase in the acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality nationwide, it appears inevitable that the constitutional requirement will eventually be dropped. 4

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bullet2009-APR-27: CA: Britney Spears supports same-sex marriage: Spears wrote on her Twitter page: "Love is love! People should be able to do whatever makes them happy. I have lots of gay andlesbian friends and I want to see them get married. I'll do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true. Discrimination has no place in America." 5

bullet2009-APR-29: NH: SSM passes legislature: The House approved a SSM bill in March. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass their version of the bill to the full Senate with the recommendation that it be voted down. However, the senate approved the bill with a vote of 13 to 11. Next, an attempt will be made to harmonize the two bills so that it can be sent to the Governor for a signature or veto. 6 More info.

News during 2009-MAY:

bullet2009-MAY-06: ME: Governor signs SSM bill into law: Both the Senate and House passed LD 1120, a bill to legalize SSM in Maine. Governor John Baldacci (D) who was personally opposed to SSM respected the will of the Legislature and signed the bill into law. Same-sex couples will be able to obtain marriage licenses after the legislative session ends in mid-June. Maine becomes the fifth state to legalize SSM, after Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Iowa. More details.
bullet2009-MAY-14: NH: Governor Lynch may sign SSM bill: On 2009-MAY-14, New Hampshire Governor Lynch said that he would sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage if the Legislature modified it to give greater protections to churches who wanted to continue to discriminate against same-sex couples. This would make SSM available in all but one of the New England states. The first try by the legislature to meet the governor's requirements did not succeed; they are attempting a second try. More info.
bullet2009-MAY-26: CA: California Supreme Court upholds Prop 8: As expected, the state supreme court upheld the constitutionality of Prop 8, thus continuing the current ban on SSM. However, it also ruled that the Proposition is not retroactive. Thus, same-sex couples who were legally married during 2008 would continue to be considered married.

This decision leaves the marriages of all minority groups vulnerable. Any hate group who dislikes a particular racial, religious, or other minority can now raise a proposition in California to eliminate the right of that minority to marry. If the Proposition is passed by at least 50% of the voters plus one, the minority would no longer be allowed to marry. Atheists' marriages are at particular risk, because of the public's high level of dislike and intolerance of Atheists. More info.

News during 2009-JUN:

bullet2009-JUN-01: USA: President Obama declares June to be Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Month: The beginning of the gay liberation movement occurred four decades ago this month. It was triggered by a police attack on the Stonewall Inn in New York City, NY.

His proclamation said, in part:

"Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism."

"The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect."

He listed some of the initiatives that the government is involved in:
bulletDecriminalization of same-sex behavior around the world.
bulletHate crimes laws
bulletSupporting civil unions
bulletSupporting federalrights for LGBT couples
bulletOutlawing discrimination in employment
bulletEnsuring adoption rights
bulletEnding the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy in the Armed forces.

He concluded:

"These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity." 1


2009-JUN-03: NH: Governor signs SSM bill into law: The House and Senate were able to establish compromise wording on their SSM bill that both could accept. Governor Lynch signed it into law. New Hampshire is thus the sixth state to legalize marriage for all loving committed couples, both opposite-sex and same-sex. 2 More info.


2009-JUN-12: India: Anti-gay law may be reconsidered: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was created during the 19th century during colonial times to criminalize same-sex sexual behavior. Law minister Veerappa Moily has indicted that the government may revisit the law and liberalize it. Ashok Row Kavi, consultant for UNAIDS and UNDP, said: "It will be the best thing for the national AIDS control program since efforts to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS will no longer be impeded by the law." During 2001, Naz Foundation, a non-profit gay-positive group, had petitioned the Indian high court to "read down" section 377. The health ministry supported the petition the law ministries opposed it. The high court has recently finished hearing arguments on the petition. 3


2009-JUN-13: USA: Proposed change to gay immigration: The Senate Judiciary Committee held a meeting to hear public input on the "Uniting American Families Act" (UAFA). Many countries, like Canada, France and Germany, recognize loving committed same-sex couples in their immigration legislation. The U.S. does not; they are treated only as friends. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have introduced bills in the Senate (S. 424) and House (H.R. 1024) that would allow citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners in a similar way as heterosexual spouses currently petition for foreign-born husbands and wives. Leahy said in an interview: "I think it's a matter of fairness." 4,5,6


2009-JUN-16: Federal benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees: President Obama signed a presidential memorandum that grant a limited number of employee benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers. At the present time, a half dozen states have legalized same-sex marriage; a few more have created civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Such couples have been given most or all of the state's benefits that had previously been special privileges given only to married opposite sex couples. But the same-sex couples have not been able to obtain any of the approximately 1,100 federal benefits.

President Obama said that this action:

"marks a historic step towards the changes we seek [for LGBT federal workers] Many of our government's hard-working, dedicated, and patriotic public servants have long been denied basic rights that their colleagues enjoy for one simple reason ? the people that they love are of the same sex. In consultation with Secretary of State Clinton, as well as [U.S. Office of Personnel Management] Director John Berry, my administration has completed a long and thorough review to identify a number of areas where we can extend federal benefits to the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive branch government employees. I'm requesting that Secretary Clinton and Director Berry do so where possible under existing law ? and that the heads of all executive departments and agencies conduct reviews to determine where they may do the same."

Included among the benefits are the use of medical facilities at overseas posts, medical evacuation privileges from such posts, and inclusion of same-sex families in overseas housing allocations. It does not include health insurance benefits, a benefit that would require changes to the civil service personnel statute and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

President Obama said:

"Among the steps we have not yet taken is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe it's discriminatory, I think it interferes with states' rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it."

Being a presidential memorandum, it will automatically expire when he leaves office clear how equality of all federal employees can be attained in view of the DOMA law that specifically reserves all 1,100 benefits as a special privilege of opposite-sex married couples.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) was present at the signing, He is the lead Senate sponsor of a bill that would provide full federal employee benefits to partners of gay federal workers. 7


2009-JUN-19: Federal Census Bureau will count same-sex marriages: During the Bush administration, the Census Bureau refused to count same-sex couples, citing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as justification. In a major win for the GLBT community, the Bureau will now count same-sex marriages (SSMs), civil unions and domestic partnerships. The next major census is due in 2010. More details.


2009-JUN-23: TX: Fort Worth church kicked out of Southern Baptists: The Southern Baptist Convention has terminated its 127 year relationship with the Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX. The reason is that the congregation is too lenient with GLBT members. The messengers (delegates) to the convention were not allowed to be seated.

Kathy Madeja, chairperson of the congregation's board of deacons said:

"We do not believe Broadway has taken any action which would justify its being deemed not in friendly cooperation with the SBC. It is unfortunate that the Southern Baptist Convention decided otherwise and severed its affiliation with Broadway Baptist Church."

Earlier, the Rev. Jorene Taylor Swift, a Broadway minister, wrote a letter to the denomination's executive committee stating:

"We are not a church where homosexuality is a defining issue. While we extend hospitality to everyone ? including homosexuals ? we do not endorse, approve or affirm homosexual behavior." 8

bullet2009-JUN-29: President Obama pledges to work for GLBT equality: At a White House ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots -- the police attack that triggered the gay liberation movement -- President Obama pledged his effort to end the military Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to fulfill other campaign promises leading to equality for LGBTs. Referring to DOMA, he said:

"We have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law."

Regarding DADT, he said:

"I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security ? Ending the policy requires an act of Congress and will take time." 9

News during 2009-JUL:

bullet2009-JUL-09: UT: Gay couple handcuffed by Mormon Church guards: A gay couple, Matt Aune, 28 and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, had attended The Twilight Concert Series at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City and were walking home when they crossed Main Street Plaza. This was once a public main street, but the City traded it to the Mormon Church 2003 in a controversial exchange for another piece of land. It remains a popular pedestrian thoroughfare. The held hands and Matt kissed Derek on the cheek -- apparently a common event on the plaza. Couples often pose affectionately there for poses. Two Mormon church guards came over and asked the couple to leave, noting that public displays of affection are not allowed on church property. The couple resisted, and were handcuffed by the church guards. Later, they were given a citation Salt Lake City Police Department. Aune was one of those who protested the land transfer in 2003. He said: "They claimed in 2003 this would never happen, they were never going to arrest anyone. It's clear now they do have an agenda." The article generated 190 pages of comments from readers; very few had anything nice to say about the Mormon church. 10

On JUL-12, about 100 people gathered on public property near the spot where Aune and Jones were handcuffed. The couples staged a protest in the form of a "kiss-in." Both opposite-sex and same-sex couples exchanged pecks on the cheek. Church security was present, although there were no altercations. 11
bullet2009-JUL-16: U.S. Senate passed hate-crimes bill: The Senate passed its version of a hate-crime bill, S. 909: It differs from the House's version H.R. 1913 that was passed in 2009-APR.

The bill would amend an earlier hate-crime bill passed four decades ago to cover hate crimes motivated by a hatred of a person's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The vote was 63 to 28 (69% -- over two to one -- in favor). The NO votes were all by Republicans. Five Republicans voted for it. That is about as bipartisan as the Senate is able to achieve under the present circumstances, because of the identification of the Republican Party with conservative Christians.


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, 2009," The White House, 2009-JUN-01, at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/
  2. "New Hampshire Legalizes Homosexual Marriage," CitizenLink, 2009-JUN-03, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  3. "Moily signals rethink on anti-gay law," Times of India, 2009-JUN-12, at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/
  4. Daryl C. Hannah, "When Same-Sex Partners Meet Immigration Law," DiversityInc, 2009-JUN-12, at:  http://www.diversityinc.com/
  5. "Uniting American Families Act," Human Rights Campaign, 2009-MAR-17, at: http://www.hrc.org/laws_and_elections/
  6. "S.424," bill text, at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/
  7. "Obama grants partner benefits for gay federal employees. Memorandum called 'first step' prior to action by Congress," Southern Voice, 2009-JUN-19, at: http://www.sovo.com/
  8. Lee Williamns & Bill Miller, "Broadway Baptist kicked out of Southern Baptist Convention," The Star Telegram, 2009-JUN-23, at: http://www.star-telegram.com/
  9. Kevin Canessa Jr., "Obama: I'll Work to Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' for Military Members," DiversityInc., 2009-JUN-30, at: http://www.diversityinc.com/
  10. Lindsay Whitehurst, "Trespassing case? Gay couple detained after kiss near LDS temple," Salt Lake Tribune, 2009-JUL-11, at: http://www.sltrib.com/
  11. " 'Kiss-in' Protest Held near Mormon Temple; 100 People Exchange Kisses to Protest Treatment of 2 Gay Men who Were Detained by Police," CBS News, 2009-JUL-14, at: http://www.cbsnews.com/


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. sec 107: The news items contained in the above hyperlinks are provided without profit by the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance, PO Box 128, Watertown, NY, 13601, USA, and are intended to be available to anyone interested in the topics included, for educational purposes only. Any editor, author, Webmaster, writer, publisher, news service, etc. that objects to being part of this listing may request that future works be excluded. We will also attempt to delete previous entries from the same source.

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > News > here

Copyright © 2009 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-APR-03
Latest update and review: 2009-JUL-21
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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