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Religious Tolerance logo

News items affecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals & transsexuals

2009-October, November & December

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

See also events in 2009-OCT, NOV & DEC that demonstrate a
culture shift towards acceptance of sexual minorities.

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News during 2009-OCT:

bulletA hauntingly beautiful song by Angela Leo: Angela posted a song on You Tube "... dedicated to Harvey Milk, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gandhi. To see the right thing to do, and to have the courage to live truth and to lovingly fight for truth against ignorance and bigotry, this is what I learned from my forefathers in the Civil Rights struggles." It is titled "You'd Be Here."

She wrote in an Email: "I made a video to help fight for Equal Rights for all citizens of the United States. Together, we can make the world a better place for the gay/lesbian/transgender children."

bullet2009-OCT-07: USA: Kevin Jennings appointed to Department of Education: Kevin Jennings founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). It has involved students of all sexual orientations in public schools across the U.S. Individual chapters have been very successful in lowering the level of bullying of GLBT students, and of heterosexual students who have been perceived as GLBT. Jennings has been appointed as Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. Reaction from religious conservatives was quick:
bulletCitizenLink, a service of Focus on the Family Action has expressed alarm at this appointment, suggesting that Jennings "... could be pushing more homosexuality promotion into our classrooms."
bulletAmerican Family Association wrote in their newsletter that GLSEN "... pushes so-called 'anti-bullying' policies which even GLSEN admits are really about promoting 'affirmation' of homosexual behavior in the school system."
bulletFamily Research Council concluded that "Jennings has shown a disregard for parental rights and for our children's well being, yet he is the President's choice to keep our schools safe!  Safe for sexual predators it would seem!" 2

The mainstream media seem to have ignored his appointment.

bullet2009-OCT-20: Uganda: Bill introduced to execute gays: In recent months, various religious organizations and anti-gay groups have been advocating a crackdown on GLBT persons. Ndorwa West MP David Bahati has introduced a bill that would apply the death penalty to anyone who engaged in gay sex with a person under the age of 18, or when HIV-positive. It would also forbid what it calls the "promotion of homosexuality" including publishing information, providing fund or premises for activities, etc. with penalties of up to seven years. Any person who becomes aware that an individual is gay or lesbian must report this to authorities or risk a three year jail sentence.
More details.

2009-OCT-22: Federal hate crime bill passes Congress: After a decade-long year battle, the bill has passed the federal House and Senate on 2009-OCT-22. President Obama has vowed to sign it into law by the end of the month. It will protect every person in the U.S. from being the victim of a hate crime in eight separate ways, on the basis of their:







National origin,


Gender, whether female, male or intersexual,




Sexual orientation, whether they be bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual, and


Gender identity, whether they be transgender or cis-gendered

More details


2009-OCT-22: Resource Center for LGBT elders to be established: Health and Human Services announced a Administration on Aging grant to establish a resource center for older LGBT persons. HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the center "... will provide information, assistance, and resources for both LGBT organizations and mainstream aging services providers at the state and community level to assist them in the development and provision of culturally sensitive supports and services." The Human Rights Campaign -- America's largest group advocating equal rights for persons of all sexual orientations  -- has welcomed the project. The HRC believes that LGBT elders "... face significant discrimination from senior care providers."

Not everyone agrees with the HRC. Author Dave Racer has co-authored books on the healthcare industry. He said that it "boggles the mind" to think that the Obama administration would be spending money on elderly GLBTs during a major recession. He commented:

"This is prima facie evidence of what happens when we don't pay attention to our government. We elect people to go down there and represent us who don't represent us -- and we go on with our lives. It's just another indication to me of the idea that the little things that we allow to happen today become big things down the line. ... If we had spoken out on these issues of gender-identity years ago and put a stop to it, we wouldn't be having this discussion today."

He feels that the Resource Center is another example of "the devolution of our society." He apparently feels that it is OK for the federal government to collect taxes from most adults, and then use the money to provide services to heterosexuals only. He also seems to think if we stopped talking about gender identity, that transgender people and transsexuals would somehow simply disappear off the face of the earth. I am not sure by what mechanism that would happen.

The funding for the center is $250,000 a year which is a little less than one tenth of one cent per American. About 5% of Americans are or will become LGBTs. A good case might be made for this project.

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News during 2009-NOV:

bullet2009-NOV-03: Election day: Referenda in Maine, Washington state and Michigan: There are at least three referenda of interest to the LGBT community:
bulletMaine: A bill legalizing same-sex marriage was passed by the legislature and signed into law. Proposition 1 was organized to give Maine voters the ability to exercise a public veto to repeal the law. More details.

At 9:54 PM ET on election day, results from only 132 of 605 precincts reporting were encouraging:

bulletNo (in favor of marriage equality)  56,659 or 50.62%
bulletYes (opposed to marriage equality) 55,267 or 49.38%

But by 2:05 AM on NOV-04, with 87% of the precincts reporting, results had turned against same-sex marriage:
bulletNo (in favor of marriage equality)  238,585 or 47.25%
bulletYes (opposed to marriage equality) 266,324 or 52.75% 3

bulletWashington State win:  The legislature and governor passed an enhanced domestic partnership law which gave same-sex couples all of the state benefits that had previously been a special privilege of opposite-sex married couples. Conservative Christian groups  mounted Referendum R-71 to repeal the law. R-71 appears to have been approved. with massive support in major urban counties in the Northwest of the state and massive opposition in rural counties in the rest of the state. The vote was 509,673 (51.1%) to 487,808 (48.9%) 5

If the vote is certified, loving, committed same-sex couples would still be unable to marry. However, if registered as domestic partners, they would receive all of the state rights and privileges given to married couples. The larger prize -- over 1,000 federal benefits -- remains currently out of reach due to the federal DOMA law.  More details
bulletKalamazoo, MI: Citizens voted on whether to add protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's nondiscrimination ordinance. By 21:17 ET, and all but the absentee ballots counted, the ordinance 1856 appears to have been approved. Partial vote count is 6,463 in favor and 3,527 opposed. Janice Brown, "Yes on Ordinance 1856/One Klamazoo" Steering Committee member said:

"I am elated with the outcome of the election. This vote reinforces what our campaign set out to prove -- that our fellow residents of Kalamazoo share the belief that all people should be treated fairly and equally, including gay and transgender people."

Rev. Matt Laney, Pastor of the First Congregational Church, said:

"Kalamazoo is a great place to live and the passage of Ordinance 1856 makes the city an even better place. I am proud to live in a city that recognizes that all people deserve fairness and respect."

The campaign had the endorsement of over 30 local religious, social, business and political organizations. 4

bullet2009-NOV-13 AL: Female student allowed to bring date to prom: Cynthia Stewart, 17, a junior in Tharpton High School in northwest Alabama asked her school for permission to bring her girlfriend to the school prom. Students have to ask for special permission if their date resides outside the school district. Cynthia is a lesbian. The school district was faced with two alternatives: let Cynthia bring her date to the prom, or shut down the entire prom. As a result of a contact by lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, the school board reversed their decision and allowed the prom to proceed ... including Cynthia and her date.

Cynthia said that she experienced some name-calling and ostracism when she first came out of the closet in sixth grade when she was about 11 years-of-age. However, fellow students have been quite accepting since.  She said that the conflict over the prom: "... is the only problem with anything about being gay that I've had. ... I'm trying to help other people [in this situation]. It's not just about me." 12

bullet2009-NOV-17: DC: Board rejects request for referendum on SSM: A group of religious conservatives gave testimony before the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics to promote a referendum to "let the people decide" whether to veto marriage equality in the District. Their request was rejected on the basis that it would violate the city's Human Rights Act by reintroducing gender discrimination in marriage. More details.

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News during 2009-DEC:

bullet2009-DEC-01: DC: City council gives first reading to SSM bill: The Washington DC city council voted 11 to 2 to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) in the district. Earlier, they had voted to recognize SSMs performed legally in other jurisdictions. This vote must be confirmed in a second vote, be signed by the mayor, and navigate a potential veto by Congress before becoming law. More details.
bullet2009-DEC-02: NY: NY poll shows strong support for SSM; Senate votes to defeat SSM: A Marist Poll shows strong support for same-sex marriage. Overall, registered voters were 51% in favor and 42% opposed with a margin of 9%. Democrats were 66% in favor and 29% opposed. Women and residents of New York City were approaching 2 to 1 in favor.

The state Senate finally voted on a bill to legalize SSM in New York State. All of the Republicans and 8 Democrats voted against the bill. It was defeated 38 to 24.

More information.

bullet2009-DEC-02: Italy: Vatican criticizes own Cardinal who said GLBTs cannot enter Heaven: Referring to one of St. Paul's epistles in the Bible -- probably 1 Corinthians 6:9 or 1 Timothy 1:9-10, retired Mexican Cardinal Javier Barragan, 76, said that:

"Transsexuals and homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it's not me who says it but St. Paul. ... People are not born homosexual, they become homosexual, for different reasons: education issues or because they did not develop their own identity during adolescence. ... 'Perhaps they aren't guilty but by acting against the dignity of the body they will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven,"

In a most unusual move, the Vatican criticized a top church official's statements. Vatican spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, said the conservative website on which the cardinal made his comments should not be considered an authority on Catholic thinking "on complex and delicate issues such as homosexuality." 11

bullet2009-DEC-10: Austria: Parliament passed legislation to create civil unions for same-sex couples that would also offer protection to their children. It will come into effect on 2010-JAN-01. Lawmakers passed the measure with a vote of 110 to 64. Same-sex couples will obtain the same financial rights as opposite-sex couples including in taxation, pension and maintenance. However they will not be eligible to adopt children or receive fertility treatments. Upon the insistence of The People's Party -- a conservative group -- same-sex couples would not be granted at local registry offices as opposite-sex couples can. Instead, same-sex couples would have to register their civil unions at the municipal office or the magistrate's office. Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek,  the women's affairs minister of the ruling Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) assured lesbians, gays and bisexuals that the restrictions are temporary until the next round of legislation.
bullet2009-DEC-18: DC: SSM bill signed into law: The DC bill passed second reading in the city council with the same 11 to 2 vote as it obtained during first reading. As he promised, Mayor Adrian M, Fenty (D) signed the SSM bill into law. This legalizes same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia.

The final steps to allow SSM for loving, committed DC same-sex couples to marry as soon as 2010-MAR are for the law to dodge:

bulletA potential veto by Congress, and
bulletA potential court-ordered plebiscite that is being promoted by religious conservatives. More info.
bullet2009-DEC-21: Mexico: Mexico city passes same-sex marriage bill: By a vote of 39 to 20, with five abstentions, Mexico City legislative assembly approved a bill to revise the civil code to define marriage as "the free uniting of two people." Loving, committed same-sex couples are currently only able to obtain civil unions in the city. If signed into law, the marriage law would enable them to apply for bank loans, inherit, be included in each other's insurance plans, etc. Victor Romo of the Democratic Revolution party said: "For centuries, unjust laws banned marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans. Today, all barriers have disappeared."  Others were not impressed. Armando Martinez, president of the College of Catholic Attorneys, said that city legislators had "given Mexicans the most bitter Christmas. They are permitting adoption [by same-sex couples], and in one stroke of the pen have erased the terms mother and father." The conservative National Action party plans to mount a court challengein the event that the bill is signed into law. 8
bullet2009-DEC-28: Argentina: Jose Maria Di Bello (L) and his partner Alex Freyre were married at a government registry office in Ushuaia, the southern-most city in the world. It is located in Tierra del Fuego province at the southern tip of Argentina. They became the first same-sex couple in Latin America to marry. Their marriage was first accepted and then denied in Buenos Aires. Then it was first denied and then accepted in Ushuaia. Di Bello, 41, is an executive at the Argentine Red Cross. Freyre, 39, is the executive director of the Buenos Aries AIDS Foundation. Both of them are HIV positive. 9,10 More info.

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References used:

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

  1. MAngela Leo, "You'd Be Here," You Tube, at:
  2. "Alert," Family Research Council," read on 2009-OCT-07, at:
  3. "Maine Vote 2009," Bangor Daily News, 2009-NOV-03, at:
  4. "Bilerico," "Kalamazoo residents approve nondiscrimination ordinance," Pam's House Blend, 2009-NOV-03, at:
  5. "Elections: November 3,2009," Washington Secretary of State, 2009-NOV-04, at:
  6. Evelyn Lirri, "Homosexuality bill rejected,", 2009-OCT-21, at:
  7. "Uganda: 'Anti-Homosexuality' Bill Threatens Liberties and Human Rights Defenders," Human Rights Watch, 2009-OCT-15, at:
  8. "Mexico City legalises same-sex marriage," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-22, at:
  9. "Argentina hosts first gay marriage in Latin America," AFP, 2009-DEC-29, at:
  10. Almudena Calatrava, "Gay marriage in Argentina is 1st in Latin America," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-29.
  11. "Cardinal's gay slur prompts Vatican rap," Sydney Morning Herald, 2009-DEC-04, at:
  12. Sean Price, "Lesbian Teen Wins Prom Equality," Teaching Tolerance, 2009-NOV-16, at:

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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.

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

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Copyright © 2009 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-OCT-04
Latest update and review: 2010-FEB-05
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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