Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tonight's news

Marriage Roundup

County recorders across Iowa on Monday fielded nearly 400 marriage applications from gay and lesbian couples. The state waived its usual three-day wait for dozens of couples, who were able to get married on the spot. Marriage opponents, with petitions calling on clerks to delay issuing marriage licenses, picketed some of the county courthouses.

In Maine, an all-day hearing last week on a marriage-equality bill under consideration by the state legislature attracted about 3,000 people, with about 80 percent reportedly there to support the measure.

And in Connecticut, Republican governor M. Jodi Rell signed into law on Thursday a marriage-equality bill that was approved by wide margins in both houses of the Connecticut Legislature. The legislation was drafted to bring the state into compliance with October's landmark state Supreme Court decision that found the state's marriage laws to be unconstitutional.


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Iceland’s left-of-center coalition, led by out lesbian interim Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, has won a stunning victory, marking the first time an openly gay politician has been elected leader of the country.

The Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement won 34 of the 63 seats in Parliament in weekend voting. It was a crushing defeat for the pro-business Independence Party that many have blamed for the collapse of the country’s banking system.

Iceland was particularly hard hit by the global credit crunch, and Sigurdardottir and her coalition came to power with an interim government following the collapse of the Independence Party in February.

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Gays and lesbians in committed relationships will not be permitted to serve as clergy in the Presbyterian Church (USA), in a decision sealed by votes on Saturday.

While the final vote has yet to be counted, the margin of defeat is already guaranteed to be much closer than in previous years. That’s encouraging for gay clergy supporters and concerning to opponents, with both sides expecting the issue to be revisited in the future.

Last summer, the 2.3 million-member denomination’s General Assembly voted to drop a constitutional requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.”

However, for any such change to be enacted, approval by a majority of the nation’s 173 regional church bodies is required. Those votes have been trickling in for months, and on Saturday enough “no” votes had been recorded to clinch the measure’s defeat.

Previous efforts to delete the “fidelity and chastity” provision failed at the presbytery level by votes of 57 to 115 in 1998 and 46 to 127 in 2002.

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Did two famous sex researchers fabricate gay “conversion” claims? In researching a book on the husband-and-wife sex-research team of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, author Thomas Maier could not find any evidence of the couple's controversial claims of successfully converting gays to heterosexuality. Masters and Johnson claimed to have converted 12 gays using therapy and publicized their findings in the book Homosexuality in Perspective.

However, one researcher who worked with the couple believes the conversion cases were either fabricated or, at best, represented composite case studies forged into single ideal narratives. Masters was unwilling to share files on the conversions with colleagues. Many of the researchers' coworkers said they were unaware the couple treated homosexuals and heard virtually nothing about conversion therapy. Virginia Johnson later expressed regret over the book, stating it should have undergone substantial revision.

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Allen Andrade was sentenced last Wednesday to life in prison with no chance of parole for killing Colorado transgender teenager Angie Zapata, after a jury found Andrade guilty of first-degree murder and a hate crime.

Andrade, 32, met Zapata through a social networking Web site, and they planned a meeting days later. Andrade proceeded to beat Zapata brutally with a fire extinguisher, and then again when Zapata awoke from the first beating.

The jury took just two hours to reach a verdict in the case. The judge, who passed the sentence said to Andrade, “I hope as you’re spending the remaining part of your natural life in the Colorado Department of Corrections ... that you every day think about the violence and brutality that you caused on this fellow human being and the pain you have caused not only on your family but the family of Angie Zapata.”

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After a month of careful deliberation, Outsports.com has named our own Madison Gay Hockey Association as the top gay sports group of the year. The group cited the Association's inclusion of straight players and incorporation of co-ed teams as top factors in their decision.

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From Lamdba Legal: The Social Security Administration has reversed a decision to deny benefits to the children of a disabled gay father following a three year battle waged on behalf of the family by Lambda Legal.

In February 2006, Gary Day completed the applications for Child Insurance Benefits for his children. He provided birth certificates and court documents that acknowledge him as a legal parent of the children. The SSA acknowledged that they received the application and promised to provide a response in 45 days.

After more than a year with no response, Lambda Legal sent a letter on Day’s behalf seeking action by the agency. The SSA still did not provide an initial determination of eligibility citing unspecified “legal questions and policy issues” involved with the application.

In May of 2008, Lambda Legal filed suit against the SSA compelling the agency to act on Day’s application and urging the SSA to recognize Day as a legal parent of the children.

The agency Friday finally sent a letter to Lambda recognizing the legal relationship between Day and his children without discrimination based on his sexual orientation or family status.

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