January 2013 Archives

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel affirmed his commitment to equality for gay servicemembers during his Senate confirmation hearing today. President Barack Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, the Nebraska Republican fielded a number of questions on open service today. Hagel reiterated his commitment to addressing the challenges that remain for gay servicemembers in the wake of the repeal of "Don't Ask, ... [Read]

Rep. Aaron Schock gave a muddled answer when asked why he doesn't support the right of same-sex couples to marry.  "Uh, well, I — I just haven't," the Illinois Republican said, before adding that his beliefs on social issues are a reflection of how he was raised. "I think everybody has a set of beliefs on issues, social issues in ... [Read]

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday that could allow student organizations at Virginia public universities to openly discriminate against potential members without fear of reprisal on an 80-19 vote, sending the measure on to the state Senate. The bill, HB1617, sponsored by Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren counties), prohibits public institutions of higher ... [Read]

Supporters of the ban on gay members and leaders in the Boy Scouts of America are mobilizing after news that the organization is considering lifting the longstanding ban. In a mass email "Alert" sent Monday after NBC News reported the 102-year-old organization is reconsidering the ban, the anti-gay Family Research Council urged supporters to contact the BSA to urge them ... [Read]

If Virginia legislators take action this week, "living in sin" with one's boyfriend or girlfriend will be a step closer to legalization in the commonwealth. The Virginia Senate is expected to pass a bill Thursday that would repeal a section of the Code of Virginia dating back to the 19th century that outlaws unmarried cohabitation. The bill, SB969, introduced by ... [Read]

Barney Frank will not be the interim senator from Massachusetts. At a press conference this morning, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Mo Cowan, his former chief of staff, would fill the seat held by Sen. John Kerry until a special election is held in June.  Frank, who retired earlier this month after 32 years in the House of Representatives, had ... [Read]

President Barack Obama revealed his plan for immigration reform today, calling for binational same-sex couples to be extended the same immigration rights as straight binational couples. In a speech delivered in Las Vegas today, Obama laid out a four-part plan that consists of strengthening border security, cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, hold undocumented immigrants responsible before they ... [Read]

LGBT allies in the Maryland General Assembly introduced a bill Tuesday that would extend nondiscrimination protections to transgender individuals in the Free State, prohibiting the denial of employment, housing or credit based solely on a person’s gender identity or expression. The "Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013," sponsored by Sens. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery Co.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery Co.), ... [Read]

White House press secretary Jay Carney appeared to confirm reports that President Barack Obama will include rights for binational same-sex couples in his plan for immigration reform. Speaking to reporters traveling with the president on Air Force One today, Carney said inclusion of such provisions in Obama's plan should come as no surprise and "it would be entirely inconsistent not ... [Read]

Hours before President Barack Obama is set the unveil his immigration plan during a speech in Las Vegas, Sen. John McCain said that comprehensive immigration reform that includes rights for binational same-sex couples is “not of paramount importance.” Appearing Tuesday on CBS's This Morning, the Arizona Republican responded to a BuzzFeed report that Obama will include rights for same-sex couples ... [Read]

A Virginia Senate committee unanimously approved a bill that would allow unmarried couples to cohabitate without fear of prosecution by the Commonwealth. All fifteen members of the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice voted to send the bill, SB969, to the floor, where it is expected to receive a vote by the full body later this week, according to Sam ... [Read]

Two senators joined the call for outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to immediately extend benefits to same-sex military families. In a letter sent today, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) urged Panetta to change Defense Department rules before retiring. "As Secretary, you have the power to extend certain important supports programs for military families to all of our ... [Read]

Leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are discussing the possibility of lifting the organization's longstanding ban on gay members and leaders, NBC News reported today. Only seven months after the BSA reaffirmed its ban on out gay members and leaders, the organization's board of directors is considering lifting the national ban in order to allow local sponsoring organizations to ... [Read]

Under the threat of losing its charter, a local Maryland Cub Scout pack has ended its LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy. The group's National Capital Area Council of the Boys Scouts of America (BSA) charter is set to expire Jan. 31, according to a statement posted on the pack's website. The statement from Pack 442 of Cloverly, Md., reads: "Due to pressure ... [Read]

President Barack Obama called on 3,000 LGBT rights activists gathered in Atlanta Jan. 25 to continue working toward full equality in a video message delivered to the 25th annual National Conference on LGBT Equality, Creating Change.  "Change has always come from ordinary Americans who sit in or stand up or march to demand it," Obama told the conference, which is ... [Read]

With the Supreme Court scheduled to hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act on March 27, House Republicans have spent $3 million on outside legal counsel since their February 2011 decision to defend DOMA in court. In a graphic released last week, the Center for American Progress details nine alternative ways that $3 million could ... [Read]

The White House today said President Barack Obama is aware that same-sex military families are still denied a number of benefits in the wake of the repeal of the ban on out servicemembers, but would not say if Obama would call on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to act. White House press secretary Jay Carney dodged a number of questions ... [Read]

SB701, a bill to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in state employment, passed the Virginia Senate Friday morning by a 24-16 vote. The measure will now head to the House of Delegates. Four Republicans sided with the upper chamber's 20 Democrats to ensure passage. Voting in the affirmative were Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment ... [Read]

The Rhode Island House of Representatives voted 51-19 Thursday to approve a bill legalizing marriage equality in the Ocean State, setting the measure up to be heard by the state senate. The bill, H5015, introduced by Rep. Art Handy (D-Cranston) would amend the law to allow two people – so long as they are not related, already married to another ... [Read]

Just as the Rhode Island House of Representatives takes up a vote on a bill to legalize marriage equality, a Rhode Island state senator has introduced a bill that would place a referendum on the 2014 ballot asking voters to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage by defining marriage as "the lawful union between one man and one ... [Read]

The same day the Defense Department lifted the ban on women in combat, advocates are calling on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to immediately grant full benefits to same-sex military couples. In a letter sent to Panetta today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called on the outgoing defense secretary to take administrative action in order to grant the spouses of gay servicemembers ... [Read]

The Virginia Senate moved forward Thursday with the second reading and introduction of amendments for SB701, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, setting it up for a vote on Friday, Jan. 25. SB701 passed on an 8-7 vote out of the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology ... [Read]

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is putting its weight and coveted endorsement behind New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor of New York City, the group announced today.  A frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination for mayor, Quinn's election would make New York the largest municipality to ever be led by an out mayor. ... [Read]

House Republicans urged the Supreme Court to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage, in a brief filed with the high court Tuesday. The 60-page brief filed by the Republican-controlled House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) slammed the Obama administration's February 2011 decision to stop defending the constitutionality of DOMA in court ... [Read]

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin is publicly urging President Barack Obama to weigh in on the Proposition 8 case before the Supreme Court. Following comments made today by White House press secretary Jay Carney in which Carney reiterated that the administration is not a party to the case regarding California's ban on same-sex marriage, Griffin issued the following statement:  ... [Read]

Supporters of California's ban on same-sex marriage filed their opening brief with the Supreme Court justices today, marking the start of what will be one of the most high-profile Supreme Court cases in recent history. In the 65-page brief, proponents of Proposition 8 argue that the high court should "allow the public debate regarding marriage to continue through the ... [Read]

A House committee in Rhode Island unanimously approved a bill to legalize marriage equality Tuesday afternoon, sending the measure to the floor and setting it up for a vote by the full chamber later this week. Eleven of the 13 members on the Judiciary Committee who were present voted to move the bill out of committee, including two legislators – ... [Read]

One day after President Barack Obama made a historic call for full equality for gay Americans during his second inaugural address, the White House is giving no indication that the president will address the question of whether the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry. During a press briefing Tuesday morning, White House press secretary Jay Carney told ... [Read]

LGBT-equality advocates in Virginia are celebrating a small victory after SB701, a bill prohibiting discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, passed out of the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee on an 8-7 vote Monday evening, clearing its first hurdle on what supporters hope is its path to eventual passage. The bill was introduced by ... [Read]

In an inaugural first, President Barack Obama called for full equality for "our gay brothers and sisters" during his second inaugural address. Speaking shortly after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath of office, Obama alluded to the Stonewall Riots and his support for marriage equality during his 20-minute speech. "We, the people, declare today that the ... [Read]

In a resolution adopted Jan. 12 by the board of directors of GOProud, the group of gay conservatives formally endorsed same-sex marriage, according to a statement released today. "GOProud believes that stable, loving, committed relationships are the cornerstone of our society and should be protected and encouraged for all couples - including gay and lesbian couples," the group announced in ... [Read]

Sam Arora, the Maryland delegate who received a barrage of criticism from the LGBT community after he infamously switched from supporting and cosponsoring a marriage equality bill to opposing it – opposition that, along with several fellow Democrats, led House leadership to recommit the bill to committee, effectively killing the bill during the 2011 legislative session – dodged a question ... [Read]

Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery Co.), who could become the Free State’s first out lesbian candidate for governor should she officially announce such a bid, announced Wednesday that she raised more than $155,000 over a 10-week period, but campaign finance reports show she still lags behind other potential rivals seeking to replace term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). In an email ... [Read]

Senators A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond, Henrico, Hanover, Charles City counties) and Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax counties), the chief co-patrons of SB701, the bill that protects state employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, announced Thursday they had garnered support from 43 other members of the General Assembly for their bill. Twenty-eight of 32 ... [Read]

An Air Force sergeant discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will serve as one of the eight citizen co-chairs of President Barack Obama's inauguration, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced today.  David Hall will join seven other Americans selected to highlight the accomplishments of Obama's first term throughout the Inauguration weekend, including attendance at Monday's swearing-in ceremony and inaugural parade.  ... [Read]

The DC Log Cabin Republicans, the District’s top political organization for LGBT conservatives, unanimously endorsed DC Council candidate Patrick Mara Wednesday, ahead of an April special election for the at-large seat temporarily filled by Councilmember Anita Bonds (D-At-Large).  Bonds was named to the seat by the State Democratic Party as an interim replacement in accordance with D.C. election law after ... [Read]

Following controversy at the Army's Fort Bragg in North Carolina, pressure is mounting on the Defense Department to issue new regulations granting the spouses and partners of gay servicemembers military IDs. After a Pentagon announcement late Tuesday to back the decision by Army leaders at Fort Bragg to not intervene in the case of a military spouses club that ... [Read]

Former Rep. Barney Frank isn't buying arguments that the signing of an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity would build momentum for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In an interview with Metro Weekly shortly after the 113th Congress was sworn in Jan. 3, the Massachusetts Democrat and former champion ... [Read]

House Democratic leaders slammed Speaker John Boehner today for "secretly" raising the cap on the legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act to $3 million. In a letter signed by House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the two Democratic members of the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) called the "Republican-led campaign to ... [Read]

Chuck Hagel promised to extend benefits to same-sex military couples in a letter sent to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) yesterday.  Addressing a number of Democratic concerns over his nomination as President Barack Obama's next secretary of defense, the former Republican senator from Nebraska reiterated that he supports open service and would seek to extend benefits currently denied to same-sex military ... [Read]

A Virginia House subcommittee Monday tabled a bill to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment, the 2006 amendment to the Virginia state constitution that banned any and all forms of same-sex relationship recognition, effectively killing the bill for at least three more years. Under Virginia law, any amendment to the state constitution must be passed by a majority of members in both ... [Read]

Dr. Angela McCaskill, the chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University at the center of the local debate over gay marriage, was reinstated last week, following a three-month suspension imposed by the university after it was revealed that she had signed a petition to force the Civil Marriage Protection Act that legalized marriage equality to appear on Maryland's 2012 ballot. Gallaudet ... [Read]

Several local and national organizations announced this morning the launch of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, a campaign to legalize marriage equality in the state. The coalition includes several religious, labor and civic groups including the Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality, which represents more than 100 clergy and faith leaders from 13 different denominations; the Rhode Island AFL-CIO; local ... [Read]

A Maryland delegate who has made opposition to marriage equality one of his signature issues told the Maryland Gazette in an interview that marriage equality was one of two factors contributing to increased drinking, which culminated in a powerboat crash in August in which Dwyer, another adult and four children sustained serious injuries. Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel Co.) told ... [Read]

In just over a year, the number of Americans who believe being gay is a sin has decreased dramatically, according to a poll conducted by a Southern Baptist research group. A LifeWay Research survey of 1,191 adults in November 2012 found 37 percent of Americans believe homosexuality is a sin, a seven point decrease from one year earlier. According to ... [Read]

The Republican Party remains divided on how to address the issue of same-sex marriage, according to a poll of political insiders conducted by National Journal. Of 99 Republicans polled, 48 percent said the party should avoid the issue of same-sex marriage altogether. "Government doesn’t need to be in every facet of our lives. Politically, we should probably avoid the issue ... [Read]

Newark Mayor Cory Booker chronicled his battle with homophobia in a college newspaper column published more than a decade ago.  Republished online by The Stanford Daily for the first time since it ran on April 8, 1992, the New Jersey Democrat wrote that he "hated gays." "The disgust and latent hostility I felt toward gays were subcategories of hatred, ... [Read]

Rev. Louie Giglio, the pastor of the Georgia-based Passion City Church chosen to deliver the benediction at President Barack Obama's second inauguration, has removed himself from the ceremony after anti-gay comments made in the 1990s were unearthed yesterday. In a statement delivered to the White House and inaugural committee this morning, Giglio withdrew his participation, blaming the distraction his ... [Read]

The Marine Corps has instructed legal staff that spouses clubs operating on Marine bases must admit same-sex spouses or face eviction, the Associated Press reports. According to an email from the Marine Corps commandant's staff judge advocate obtained by the AP, "We would interpret a spouses club's decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was ... [Read]

The White House is sticking by President Obama's nominee for defense secretary despite continued qualms from advocates. White House press secretary Jay Carney defended former Sen. Chuck Hagel during Wednesday's briefing, telling reporters Hagel has been clear about his views in his recent apology and endorsement of open military service. Asked by ABC's Jonathan Karl during Wednesday’s White House briefing why ... [Read]

In a full-page ad published in The Hill newspaper today, Log Cabin Republicans urged Congressional Republicans to "Get It Right on Gay Marriage." Commending the GOP for being right on taxes, spending and health care, the ad asks if the party is on the "Right Side of History" on the issue of same-sex marriage. Log Cabin Republicans applauds those Republican ... [Read]

Jeanne Manford, activist and founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, died today at the age of 92. Hailed as one of the LGBT-rights movement's first straight allies, Manford founded PFLAG after her son, Morty Manford, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1992, was among those patrons at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village when a police ... [Read]

National Stonewall Democrats has suspended operations until 2014, according to executive director Jerame Davis. In an interview with Dallas Voice, Davis said the group of LGBT Democrats is "on hiatus" until next year, when a relaunch is expected. The news comes after Davis warned members in December that the organization faced a $30,000 budget shortfall that threatened to shutdown the ... [Read]

One day after the Supreme Court announced arguments on the two cases before the court regarding same-sex marriage are scheduled for late March, the White House is keeping mum on whether President Barack Obama will weigh in on the Proposition 8 case. Asked by NBC's Peter Alexander if Obama would publicly oppose Proposition 8 and advocate for same-sex couples to ... [Read]

Members of the military honorably discharged because of their homosexuality since Nov. 10, 2004 will receive full separation pay after a settlement reached yesterday between the Defense Department and the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU and the ACLU of New Mexico filed a class action lawsuit representing 181 honorably discharged veterans who had had their separation pay cut ... [Read]

President Barack Obama formally nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense Monday, leaving advocates cautious and curious about the Nebraska Republican's views on a number of LGBT issues that continue to face the military. During a nomination ceremony in the East Room of the White House for Hagel, and John Brennan as CIA director, Obama and Hagel ... [Read]

Supreme Court Sets Marriage Dates

Posted by Justin Snow
January 7, 2013 4:14 PM |
For two days in late March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the two cases before the high court regarding same-sex marriage, the justices announced Monday. On March 26, the justices will hear Hollingsworth v. Perry, concerning California's Proposition 8. Approved by California voters in 2008, Proposition 8 amending the state's Constitution to ban same-sex marriage after already ... [Read]

Barney Frank Seeking Senate Appointment

Posted by Justin Snow
January 4, 2013 11:16 AM |
Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is openly jockeying for the Senate seat currently held by Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry. In an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe Friday, Frank said he had called Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and asked for the interim appointment to Kerry's Senate seat if Kerry is confirmed as President Barack Obama's next secretary of state. Frank had ... [Read]

Tammy Baldwin Makes History

Posted by Justin Snow
January 4, 2013 9:25 AM |
Tammy Baldwin made history yesterday when she was sworn in as the U.S. Senate's first out member. Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath of office to the Wisconsin Democrat, who was one of seven out members to take their seats in the 113th Congress. Baldwin, who previously served in the House of Representatives as that chamber's first out lesbian, ... [Read]

As one of their first acts of the 113th Congress, the House of Representatives voted to allow the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to continue defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. In a 228-196 vote approving the House rules, the full House voted for the first time to continue funding the legal defense of DOMA as the ... [Read]

President Barack Obama approved the defense budget for 2013, issuing a lengthy statement in the early morning hours of Thursday Eastern Time about his qualms with the more than $600 billion defense authorization bill. "Even though I support the vast majority of the provisions contained in this Act, which is comprised of hundreds of sections spanning more than 680 pages ... [Read]

With it appearing more and more likely that Illinois will become the next state to grant same-sex couples the right to marry, the bill before the state Legislature gained the support of the chair of the Illinois Republican Party Wednesday. Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady is urging GOP lawmakers in the state to support the Religious Freedom and Fairness ... [Read]

Bank of America settled a claim with the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the mortgage lender's refusal to provide financing to a lesbian couple because of their sexual orientation and marital status.  Announced today, the settlement is the first enforcement action taken against a lender under a new rule prohibiting mortgage lenders from basing eligibility decision on sexual ... [Read]