March 2011 Archives

More than three months ago, on Dec. 22, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act into law, declaring to the crowd assembled, "We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot." A little more than a month later, on Jan. 28, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley made clear repeatedly ... [Read]

[Photo: President Barack Obama greets departing Associate Counsel to the President Alison J. "Ali" Nathan, left, Meg Satterthwaite, and their twin sons Oliver and Nathan, in the Outer Oval Office on July 7, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)] Former associate White House counsel Alison Nathan, an out lesbian, was nominated today by President Barack Obama for ... [Read]

Today, a report on LGBT health called "groundbreaking" has been released by the Institutes of Medicine, "The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding," concluding: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have unique health experiences and needs, but as a nation, we do not know exactly what these experiences and needs are. To ... [Read]

The lead sponsor of legislation that seeks to prohibit discrimination against transgender Marylanders in the areas of housing, employment, and some commercial leasing is still fighting for the bill's passage in the Maryland State Senate, but tells Metro Weekly that success appears unlikely -- and lays the blame at the feet of Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D).  Of ... [Read]

The "hold" on same-sex married bi-national couples' green card applications -- celebrated by immigration and LGBT advocates -- is over, according to the spokesman for the agency that processes those requests. "The guidance we were awaiting ... was received last night, so the hold is over, so we're back to adjudicating cases as we always have," U.S. Citizenship and Immigration ... [Read]

As reported on Monday, March 28, by Metro Weekly, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be introduced in the House on Wednesday, March 30. The release from the office of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.): BARNEY FRANK AND COLLEAGUES TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMATION ACT (ENDA) WASHINGTON -- On Wednesday morning, March 30th, Congressman Barney Frank and other prominent ... [Read]

[IMPORTANT WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, UPDATE: "Immigration Official: 'The Hold Is Over'"] The announcement on Monday, March 28, that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had issued guidance instructing its field offices to put on hold cases involving same-sex, married bi-national couples seeking a green card for the foreign spouse sent shockwaves throughout the immigration and LGBT communities. Further clarification from ... [Read]

Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) has opposed gender identity anti-discrimination efforts in the past in the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Now that the Maryland House of Delegates has voted in favor of the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, House Bill 235 moves to the Senate, with its first reading completed in the Rules Committee on Friday, March 25.  Some advocates of the ... [Read]

When the Maryland House of Delegates voted in favor of the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, House Bill 235, advocates of the measure were immediately concerned about the bill’s movement in the Senate. In the past, a similar version of the bill has died four times in the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee, where the bill was expected to go.  Metro Weekly ... [Read]

[IMPORTANT WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, UPDATE: "Immigration Official: 'The Hold Is Over'"] [IMPORTANT TUESDAY, MARCH 29, UPDATE: "DHS Official: Bi-National Immigration Case Abeyances Could End Within A Week."] Following up on reports from this weekend, Metro Weekly just received confirmation from Christopher Bentley, the spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, that cases of foreign partners who are married to ... [Read]

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) plans to introduce the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the House on Wednesday, according to two LGBT equality advocates with direct knowledge of the congressman's plans. Frank's communications director, Harry Gural, confirmed that the plans are "to formally announce ENDA this week," although he added over the weekend that specifics are not yet nailed down and were ... [Read]

A growing body of evidence suggests that deportations of foreign partners who are married to a same-sex partner and would otherwise be eligible for a green card are on hold, at least in some parts of the country, until immigration officials in the departments of Justice and Homeland Security assess the impact of ongoing challenges to Section 3 of the ... [Read]

The Maryland House of Delegates voted 86-52 in favor of the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, House Bill 235, today, during the bill's third and final reading. The bill now moves to the Senate's Judicial Proceeding Committee for amendments and according to the Maryland House's clerk office, will be voted upon on the Senate floor before the end of this year's ... [Read]

The Maryland House of Delegates is scheduled to discuss and vote on the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, House Bill 235, during the bill's third and final reading today, Saturday, March 26. The reading may not occur until later this afternoon as the House has many other bills to vote on that are in the "second reading" stage. If the vote ... [Read]

The Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, House Bill 235, went through its second reading this afternoon on the Maryland House of Delegates Floor and was ordered to be "printed" for its third and final reading. According to the clerk's office of the Maryland House of Delegates, the third reading is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 26, in order to get ... [Read]

The Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, House Bill 235, passed through the Maryland House's Health and Government Operations Committee with a 15-8 favorable vote, according to Equality Maryland. The legislation, which seeks to prohibit discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, licensing and commercial leasing against transgender Marylanders, will now move on to the Maryland House of Delegates floor for a full vote. ... [Read]

A bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, licensing and commercial leasing against transgender Marylanders was scheduled to be voted on today in the Maryland House's Health and Government Operations Committee. The vote, however, did not happen due to a "procedural hold" brought forth by Republican Del. Susan Krebs (Carroll County). According to a staffer from ... [Read]

Despite the passage of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act in December 2010, numbers released today about discharges under the law in the year proceeding the vote serve as a stark reminder of the daily potential impact of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to servicemembers. According to information obtained today by Servicemembers United and partially confirmed to Metro Weekly by ... [Read]

In a brief order issued today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the plaintiffs' request to vacate its earlier stay order, which is keeping Proposition 8 in effect during the appeal of the Perry v. Brown challenge to the marriage amendment. The order, from the three judges hearing the appeal: Having considered all of the factors ... [Read]

A bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, licensing and commercial leasing, against transgender Marylanders, just passed its first hurdle, moving through the Government Operations Subcommittee of the Health and Government Operations Committee, according to Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk's (D- Anne Arundel, Prince George's) office.  Though details of passage of the bill through subcommittee were not ... [Read]

On March 3, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri, introduced a resolution purporting to "demand that the Department of Justice continue to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in all instances." The move, in response to the Feb. 23 decision by President Barack Obama and DOJ that statutes that classify people based on sexual orientation should be subject to ... [Read]

Following up on the earlier news regarding the desire of the U.S. and Brazil to create a Special Rapporteur for LGBT issues at the Organization of American States and today's United Nations statement, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement that referred to ending anti-LGBT violence and human rights abuses a "critical issue." Carney said in his statement: ... [Read]

At the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) National Dinner on Saturday, March 19, 2011, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was presented with the Anna Curren Award for his leadership in helping to pass the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act in the 111th Congress. He spoke, not of himself, but of the leadership of former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) ... [Read]

In a statement released to Metro Weekly on Monday, March 21, Equality Maryland board chair Chuck Butler and Equality Maryland Foundation board chair Patrick Wojahn detail what led to the organization's decision to request a delay in a vote on the 2011 marriage bill. The two wrote, in part: It’s understandable that because the marriage bill moved so swiftly through the ... [Read]

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama made an official state visit to Brazil, including a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Included in the joint statement issued by the leaders about the relationship between the two countries was news that the two leaders would work within the Organization of American States to establish a "Special Rapporteur" to help in "promoting ... [Read]

Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela George today faced significant questions about the federal prosecution of 13 people who protested at the White House in 2010 in opposition to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The protesters -- who sought more action from President Obama to end the ban on gay, lesbian and bisexual service -- had been charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office ... [Read]

[Photo: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaks at the Senate introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act on March 16, 2011. (Photo by Chris Geidner.)] At an afternoon news conference in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) kicked off what she said would be "a long road" to passage of the Respect for Marriage Act in the U.S. ... [Read]

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), held confirmation hearings today on four of President Barack Obama's nominees for the federal judiciary. The hearings were led by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), however, and garnered attendance only from Schumer and freshman Deleware Sen. Chris Coons (D) -- despite the fact that one of the nominees is openly gay ... [Read]

[Photo: Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) speaks at the reintroduction of the Respect for Marriage Act on March 16, 2011. (Photo by Chris Geidner.)] Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the longest serving out LGBT member of Congress, today looked back on the change that's taken place since the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. As he stood in the ... [Read]

The Republican House leadership's defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, discussed earlier today here, just got a lot more concrete. They will be facing off against Edith Windsor on May 9. U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, who is hearing the challenge to Section 3 of DOMA brought by Windsor in the Southern District of New York, filed an ... [Read]

The decision of the House Republican leadership on March 9 to authorize the House counsel's defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in court prompted questions from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about the cost of the defense and new polling from the Human Rights Campaign suggesting the American people oppose such action. Democrats in both chambers of Congress, meanwhile, ... [Read]

It was in the fall of 2007 that Maryland's Montgomery County passed a bill that protects citizens from discrimination in areas such as housing, employment, public accommodations, under the basis of gender identity. The lead sponsor of the bill was Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, and prominent transgender activist Dana Beyer worked for the councilmember as her aide. When the bill was ... [Read]

J. Paul Oetken, the out gay New York attorney who was nominated by President Barack Obama for a federal judicial appointment in late January, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that his work for the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association writing an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case at the U.S. ... [Read]

Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery), the only out gay member of Maryland's Senate, who introduced the marriage legislation in the Senate with Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery), released a statement today in regard to the House of Delegate’s move to send the bill back to committee. The legislation, now slated to be debated during Maryland’s 2012 session, would have granted same-sex couples ... [Read]

UPDATE, Full report: No Maryland Marriage Vote.  Maryland House of Delegates Chairman Del. Joseph Vallario stunned supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 116, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, after a three-hour debate during the bill's final reading by sending it back to the House' Judiciary Committee for further debate.  During the final moments of debate, discussions became religious from both ... [Read]

The Maryland's House of Delegates is entering hour two of debates on Senate Bill 116, legislation that would grant same-sex couples in the state legal marriage recognition, while also protecting the rights of religious institutions to handle issues of marriage however they see fit. Discussions from both sides have been passionate and often ended with abpplause in the House chambers. ... [Read]

The Maryland House of Delegates is currently debating Senate Bill 116, during its third and final reading. If the bill is passed into law, it would grant same-sex couples in the state legal marriage recognition, while also protecting the rights of religious institutions to handle issues of marriage however they see fit. For live coverage, follow Yusef Najafi on Twitter, ... [Read]

Before the Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee heard testimony on Wednesday, March 9, from many supporters and a few opponents of House Bill 235, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in the state on the basis of gender identity in the areas of areas of housing, employment, licensing and commercial leasing, Equality Maryland held a press ... [Read]

Today's White House conference on bullying is underway. First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama opened the conference this morning, addressing an audience of activists, politicians and others committed to combatting bullying in schools, including bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Metro Weekly senior political writer Chris Geidner is at the White House for the conference and ... [Read]

[Photo: The resolution approved by the Republican members of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group today, as posted on Twitter by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).] The Bipartisan House Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), by a 3-2 vote over the objections of House Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), directed the House General Counsel to defend the 1996 Defense of ... [Read]

[Photo: Edwin Echegoyen, left, and Rodrigo Martinez are married in the District on March 1 (Photo provided by the DOMA Project).] Attorney Lavi Soloway provides the following update about Edwin Echegoyen and Rodrigo Martinez. The Maryland couple, who married in D.C. on March 1, faced separation today, as Martinez was due to surrender in Baltimore for deportation to El ... [Read]

The Maryland House of Delegates held debates and ultimately rejected all presented amendments to Senate Bill 116, during its second reading on the House floor on Wednesday, March 9. More debates and a vote on the measure are expected on Friday, March 11, during the bill’s third reading in which other amendments can also be introduced. If signed into law, ... [Read]

Carmen Cacciatore, co-founder of Fly-Life marketing agency, announced this afternoon that the earlier reported deal between Target Corp. and Lady Gaga was dissolved this past week. Bob Witeck of Witeck-Combs Communications was familiar with the dissolved deal, although he does not represent Gaga or any of the parties, and told Metro Weekly, "Despite the expectation that this was all ... [Read]

In an email sent to supporters today, Virginia state Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington, Fairfax) officially announced his previously discussed plans that he will be running for a spot in the state's senate: ... I announce my candidacy for the Virginia Senate. Since 2004, I've had the great honor of representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in the House of Delegates. I'm ... [Read]

The Maryland House of Delegates is expected to start debates on marriage equality legislation (Senate Bill 116) as early as Wednesday, March 9, according to Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County). “It will be probably be read across the desk Monday night, and Tuesday will probably be special order to give people time to work on amendments,” Mizeur told Metro Weekly on ... [Read]

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a statement this afternoon strongly suggesting that the House will take up a court defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in the wake of the Obama administration's decision on Feb. 23 that it will no longer defend Section 3 of the 1996 law. In the statement, Boehner said, "I will convene a meeting of ... [Read]

Maryland's House Judiciary Committee voted today 12-10 in favor of the passage of Senate Bill 116. The bill now moves on to the House of Delegates for a floor vote. That vote is expected in the coming week. SB-116 passed through the Senate on Feb. 24, with a 25-21 vote. The vote came after several amendments were discussed on March ... [Read]

Maryland Del. Sam Arora (D) has come under scrutiny from those who supported him during his candidacy in 2010. Arora had said he was supportive of marriage equality for LGBT people and was even the co-sponsor of House bill that would grant same-sex couples legal marriage recognition while protecting the freedoms of religious institutions. It all changed this week when ... [Read]

Today, Lambda Legal called for U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White to order the Office of Personnel Management to grant health insurance benefits to the wife of Karen Golinski, a federal court employee, "as soon as is reasonably possible." Responding to the Department of Justice's Feb. 28 filing that defended its position that the Defense of Marriage Act prevents it ... [Read]

Although the U.S. Supreme Court today noted that "Westboro [Baptist Church]'s choice of where and when to conduct its picketing is not beyond the Government's regulatory reach," the court concluded that the picket by the anti-gay church led by Fred Phelps outside Iraq war veteran Matthew Snyder's funeral could not be prohibited directly or punished indirectly through a lawsuit seeking ... [Read]

Today, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is releasing what it calls "a comprehensive look at the finances of 39 leading national LGBT organizations." The participant organizations had revenues of more than $161.3 million in 2009 and represent nearly 70 percent of funding for all LGBT social justice advocacy organizations. The $161 million, however, is a decrease of 20 percent from ... [Read]

The latest from Sarah Palin, a response to the National Organization for Marriage about President Obama's decision not to defend Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, is pouring over with confusion. "I have always believed that marriage is between one man and one woman. Like the majority of Americans, I support the Defense of Marriage Act and find ... [Read]

In a conference call with reporters today, White House Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki said that next Thursday, Mar. 10, the White House will hold a conference on bullying. White House Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes said that the conference is an event that would include President Obama and the Education and Health and Human Services departments. Calling it an ... [Read]

Maryland’s House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on House Bill 175, the House version of the marriage bill which was approved on the Senate floor last week, this afternoon, March 1. But the vote was delayed. In an e-mail sent to Metro Weekly, Del. Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), who is gay, confirmed that the committee vote has been ... [Read]

Metro Weekly has received a media advisory that on Tuesday morning, Mar. 1, "Queer Rising Will Block Traffic in Midtown Manhattan to Demand Marriage Equality." According to the advisory, "At 8:30am, members of the LGBTQ activist organization Queer Rising will block morning rush-hour traffic in the heart of Midtown! [T]he activists will unfurl a 75-foot banner w[ith] the message: 'NY ... [Read]