News Notes: Beyond the Carolinas
Marriage repeal far from done
DES MOINES, Iowa — In a first-strike attempt to overturn marriage equality in the state, the Iowa House of Representatives voted 62-37 in favor of a bill banning marriage and any other form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. However, recent polling suggests Iowans are either favorable or neutral to the idea of relationship recognition for gay couples.
A KCCI/Research 2000 poll in June 2010 showed that a majority of Iowans (53 percent) supported marriage for same-sex couples. Perhaps even more telling, according to the Des Moines Register, 92 percent of Iowans feel their lives have not been affected by the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Despite the House vote, a repeal amendment is far from reaching the ballot since it would need to be passed by both the state House and the state Senate in two separate legislative sessions. Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and others in the Senate have vowed to fight attempts to pass the amendment in the Senate.
Birth registration rules updated
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a letter Feb. 10 to state birth registrars announcing a procedure change in the wake of its decision allowing a woman to be named as a parent on the Maryland birth certificate of the child born to her same-sex married spouse, without the necessity of a court order. The change follows the 2010 opinion of Attorney General Douglas Gansler confirming that, under longstanding Maryland law, out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples should be treated like any other marriage.
“The reality is that thousands of children are being reared in Maryland by same-sex couples,” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal. “Marriage in turn brings thousands of protections to families with children. Same-sex couples should not have to leave their state and marry elsewhere to get critical protections for their children. We urge the Maryland legislature to pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act to make Maryland families that much more secure.”
Sommer recently testified before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of the measure, which would allow same-sex couples to marry in Maryland.
DOD asked to help DADT victims
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Servicemembers Legal Defense Network sent a letter Feb. 7 calling upon Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Dr. Clifford Stanley to establish Special Boards that would address issues faced by former service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the prior regulatory ban.
Since President Obama signed legislation on Dec. 22, 2010 allowing for the repeal of DADT, SLDN has received hundreds of calls from those fired under the law who wish to see their discharge paperwork changed or who wish to apply for re-accession to the armed services.
“Creating these Special Boards will be one of the first important steps the Defense Department can take to help former service members who were harmed by the DADT law,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for SLDN.
The overwhelming majority of former service members who have contacted SLDN in the last few weeks are seeking to change their discharge paperwork to remove the remnants of the “Don’t Ask” law, which can subject them to discrimination in civilian life. Many of these same former service members also want to return to the military, either in the positions they were forced to leave or in another capacity of service to their country.
Latino radio tackles gay issues
SALINAS, Calif. — Proyecto Poderoso, the Family Acceptance Project, and Radio Bilingüe have unveiled a groundbreaking Spanish-language radio soap opera developed specifically to reach California’s Latino families with stories about LGBT acceptance and equality.
The series weaves together pivotal social issues into storylines that have historically been difficult for traditional Latino families to discuss and address. This innovative evidence-based series is intended to help begin the dialogue in households by addressing crucial social and political issues, including bullying, coming out and family acceptance.
The three-part series, called “Bienvenidos a Casa” or “Welcome Home,” premiered Feb. 11 on Radio Bilingüe’s “Rock-in da House” and was followed by a discussion about the key issues addressed in the broadcast. In all, the program will air a total of 10 times from Feb. 11 through Mar. 31 across California’s eight Radio Bilingüe stations, reaching Spanish-speaking radio listeners across the state.
The innovative radionovela — similar to radio soap operas popular during the Golden Age of Radio — is based on groundbreaking research from San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project (FAP), which conducted the first comprehensive study of Latino LGBT adolescents, young adults, and families, including family dynamics and the impact of family acceptance and rejection.
Join website to support gay youth
NEW YORK, N.Y. — To help underwrite recent efforts to prevent suicides among LGBT youth, gay social network Fab.com is donating $1 to LGBT support organizations GLSEN and The Trevor Project for each new member who joins Fab.com in February. The donations will be made in partnership with the It Gets Better Project, the widely publicized anti-bullying video initiative addressed at sexual minority youth.
Less than a year old, Fab already has more than 120,000 members with over 20,000 new users joining the free network for gay men on a monthly basis. The goal of the “Fab February” membership drive is to leverage Fab’s rapid growth to assist organizations that help combat homophobia and its effects on those with alternative sexual orientations.
“Fab is not only a social connector to gay-friendly people, places and activities anywhere in the world, but a safe place for members to share their personal struggles and concerns over gay issues,” said Fab founder and CEO Jason Goldberg. “The outpouring of grief on the site when so many gay suicides were reported last year spurred us to want to contribute to strengthening the gay self-image, and that’s how ‘Fab February’ was born.”
Bill would wipe gay sex convictions
LONDON, England — A measure has been introduced in Parliament with provisions enabling gay men previously prosecuted for consensual sex acts to apply to have such convictions removed from police records. The pending legislation is known as the Freedom Bill.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of U.K. LGBT rights group Stonewall, said, “For some gay men, these convictions have continued to overshadow their lives long after the offenses were removed from the statute book. Britain has moved on. It’s only right that these men should be free to apply for jobs and voluntary roles without fearing that these historic and unjust convictions will be revealed through criminal record checks. Stonewall will be encouraging politicians of all parties to back the measure in the months ahead.”