Thursday, March 26, 2009

This week's news

Washington, D.C. - The White House has signed on to a United Nations declaration calling for global decriminalization of homosexuality, which President George W. Bush had refused to endorse when it was presented to the U.N. General Assembly in December.

The United States had been the only western nation other than the Vatican not to approve the declaration. Neighbors Mexico and Canada – along with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, all 27 member nations of the European Union and 34 other countries – signed onto the nonbinding declaration in December.

The United Nation’s remaining 126 member states did not, with more than 50 nations actively opposing it. Seventy U.N. members outlaw homosexuality and many make it a capital offense.

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New Orleans, Louisiana – The state of Louisiana must put both names of a gay couple on the birth certificate of their adopted son, according to a federal judge’s order.

Oren Adar and Mickey Smith adopted their Louisiana-born son in New York in 2006, but when Smith attempted to get a new birth certificate for their child (a routine part of the adoption process that makes it easier for adoptive parents to prove their parental rights and apply for things such as dependent health insurance coverage), the office of Louisiana state registrar’s office would not issue it, saying that Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents.

With the help of Lambda Legal, Adar and Smith brought the case to court in October 2007. In December 2008, U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey agreed with the plaintiff that Louisiana’s failure to recognize a court order issued by another state (the adoption in New York) was a violation of the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution. He ordered Louisiana’s Office of Vital Records to put the names of both fathers on the amended birth certificate.

Last week, Louisiana attorney general’s office asked Zainey to reconsider the ruling or order a full trial. Zainey rejected the motion and ordered the state to comply with his original order within 15 days. Louisiana’s attorney general said he will appeal the ruling, and the Louisiana legislature is now considering a law that would make it illegal to revise birth certificates for people who would not qualify as adoptive parents in Louisiana.

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Guadalajara, Mexico, gets gay candidate for mayor


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Tennessee bill delayed would gag gay students, teachers


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Marriage equality opponents like to say that the dictionary definition of marriage is “one man, one woman.” Not so fast.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of marriage includes “the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage.” Okay, so the dictionary writers get demerit points for using the term being defined in the definition, but they get a plus for recognizing reality, albeit a little late.

The dictionary began including this secondary definition in 2003, 14 years after Denmark became the first country to legally recognize same-sex marriages and 24 years after the first public same-sex wedding in the United States sanctioned by a Christian church.

A spokesman for Merriam-Webster says the dictionary expanded the definition to reflect the popularity of the term "same-sex marriage" in print and common usage.

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Peoria, Arizona - Gay student banned from wearing rainbow

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Gainesville, Florida - Gainesville voters decided on Tuesday to maintain civil rights protections for the city’s LGBT population.

Gainesville has protected gays and lesbians in employment and housing for a decade, but a socially conservative group balked when city council added gender identity to the human rights ordinance in 2007.

The group, called Citizens for Good Public Policy, collected enough valid signatures to have the measure put to voters.

The measure to repeal the ordinance would have tied the city’s human rights law to the protections offered by the state, meaning neither gender identity nor sexual orientation would be protected.

Citizens for Good Public Policy said that the main concern is the use of public restrooms by transgendered individuals. But passage would wipe out protections for gays and lesbians as well.

Leading up to the vote, Citizens for Good Public Policy mounted an aggressive TV ad campaign. In one ad, a young girl heads from a playground into a women’s restroom. A scruffy man, lurking outside, darts in behind her. “Your City Commission Made This Legal,” the words on the TV screen read.

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Washington, D.C. – Education Secretary pledges safe schools for LGBT students

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