Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weekly news round-up: Domestic partnerships in Wisconsin, plus national and international news

Wis. same-sex couples sign up as domestic partners
Same-sex couples in Wisconsin have started signing up for the state’s new domestic partnership registry. This will allow them to obtain dozens of the same legal protections as spouses. Fifty-six-year-old Janice Czyscon (SIZE’-kon) and her partner of 29 years, 57-year-old Crystal Hyslop, arrived at the Dane County offices in Madison at 5:12 a.m. and waited in the rain until the doors opened. Wisconsin is the first Midwestern state to enact protections for same-sex couples through legislation. Gov. Jim Doyle proposed the plan, and the Democratic-controlled Legislature approved it in the state budget. Some who want the law invalidated say it conflicts with the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

ENDA introduced into Senate
An inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act is now on the move in the U.S. Senate. Long-time sponsor Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced the bill along with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The Human Rights Campaign launched a lobby effort to muster support for the legislation, asking supporters to send e-mails to their senators urging their support. The e-mail notes that, in 29 states, there is no law to prevent an employer from firing someone because he or she is gay and, in 38 states, no law to prohibit an employer from firing someone for being transgender. The National Gay and Lesbian Task says it hopes the stated support of President Obama will play a role in assisting with [the bill's] swift passage in both the House and the Senate. A form of Employment Non-Discrimination act without gender identity passed the House in the last session of Congress but engendered so much opposition for omitting gender identity that it was never brought up in the Senate. The Employment Non-Discrimination bill introduced in the House and Senate this year both seek to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Current federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability.

Chicago holds first civic salute to LGBT veterans
Gay war veterans have recently been honored in Chicago’s Daley Plaza at the first civic salute to LGBT veterans. Many of those in attendance at the event spoke out against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and revealed how they have personally been affected by the bill. Former US Navy officer Steven Lorandos says “If there was no ban and I were allowed to openly serve, I wouldn’t have had any of those extra stressors, I wouldn’t have had any of those extra worries, and I would have re-enlisted.” Several local politicians came out to also support the event and spoke out against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as well. Chicago’s 7 News reports that the United States military has more than 65,000 gay members in active service. House Resolution 1283 has been created by Don’t Ask Don’t Tell opponents to ask Obama to repeal the bill.

Great Nationwide Kiss-in this Saturday
The Great Nationwide Kiss-In, an event created in response to a spate of anti-gay incidents that arose out of gay men being publicly affectionate, takes place this Saturday, August 15th. And activists across the country have signed-on to take part. After incidents in San Antonio, TX, El Paso, TX and Salt Lake City, UT - where different gay and lesbian couples were harassed or detained by law enforcement or other people for the simple act of kissing in a public place. Many people feel there’s a need to make a strong statement to everyone everywhere that kissing is not a bad thing, nor has it ever been. It’s not vulgar or inappropriate. Over 50 cities have come on board. A Madison Wisconsin location has yet to be determined. People in Madison that are interested can contact Jean Wennlund - for more information.

Malaysia’s state newspaper says gay sex leads to swine flu
Malaysia’s state newspaper, Bernama, claims in a recent article that avoiding masturbation and homosexual activities will help prevent swine flu, and are among preventive measures one could take against Influenza A (H1N1), according to an eminent practitioner of complimentary therapy. Dr. V. M. Palaniappan says that such activities caused the body to develop friction heat which in turn, produces acid and makes the body hyper-acidized. Thus, the body becomes an easy target for H1N1 infection. The doctor emphasizes, however, that sexual union between members of the opposite sex is absolutely safe.

Rate of rejected signatures opposing same-sex referendum in Washington increases
In Washington, the error rate of signatures for Referendum 71 has increased according to the secretary of state’s office. R-71 supporters are trying to do away with the state’s new same-sex domestic partnership law. 14.4 percent of the 5,815 signatures that had been checked were rejected. Out of 17,317 signatures that have been checked so far, 15,067 have been accepted. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in total there have been “45 duplicate R-71 signatures, 150 no-match, 2,006 non-voters, and 49 where the state is checking for a signature.” In order to get on the November ballot, R-17 supporters need 120,577 valid signatures; 137,689 signatures have been turned in.

Settlement reached in N.J. gay-harassment suit
A former police officer in Millville, New Jersey, has settled a suit he filed in October 2007 in which he accused fellow officers and superiors of harassing him because of his sexuality. Robert Colle, now of Egg Harbor Township, settled his lawsuit for $415,000. Colle says he was harassed by the other officers because he is gay, and received further harassment when he threatened to expose an on-duty romantic tryst involving a superior. Six officers were originally named in the suit, though two were later dropped. The Press of Atlantic City said the city has not disclosed whether any of the remaining officers had been disciplined for the ordeal, though they all are still employed by the police department. Three of the officers have also received promotions since the law suit was filed.

Inclusive Church Plans Survey of LGBT Clergy
The British organization Inclusive Church is planning a survey of clergy in the Anglican church.This would be the first attempt to figure out the real numbers of LGBT clergy in the Church of England. Organizers hope to show how extensive - and crucial - the participation of the LGBT community is in the operation of the church. Inclusive Church hopes to help increase respect for and acknowledgement of the LGBT community within the church and perhaps nudge the Anglican community overall a little closer to the 21st century.

Anchorage passes gay rights ordinance - veto possible
The Anchorage Assembly approved an ordinance Tuesday banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by a 7-4 vote. The vote falls one short of the eight-vote supermajority needed to override a mayoral veto. Mayor Dan Sullivan has seven days to decide. He has said he has not yet made a decision. The Assembly members who voted yes brought up gays and lesbians who they are close to. One mentioned that the Assembly voted to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in Anchorage in 1976 - that bill was vetoed by then-mayor George Sullivan, the current mayor’s father.

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