GOP will defend DOMA
WASHINGTON, D.C. — LGBT rights groups condemned U.S. House Republican leadership for formally voting to authorize intervention to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, convened by Speaker Boehner, voted 3-2 to authorize the House to retain legal counsel. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) voted against the action.
With at least nine cases challenging the constitutionality of DOMA, spanning three appellate courts and four district courts in six states, the March 9 vote sets up an expansive and expensive undertaking. In February, the Obama administration announced that the president had concluded that a key section of DOMA is unconstitutional and the administration would no longer defend the discriminatory law.
SLDN communications director named
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A South Carolina native was named on March 10 as the new communications director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national legal services and policy organization that for nearly two decades advocated for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). SLDN also provides legal services to those impacted by or fired under the statute.
Zeke Stokes, who lives in Washington, D.C., with his partner of three years, will be responsible for planning, implementing, managing and evaluating all communications for the group as DADT repeal moves through the certification and implementation phases. He will report directly to the chief operating officer and work closely with the executive director on key communications strategies.
— Compiled from release
Lesbians burned by insurance co.
VONORE, Tenn. — On Sept. 4, 2010, Laura and Carol Ann Stutte’s rural Tennessee home was burned to the ground in an apparent hate crime. Six months later, the lesbian couple’s $206,000 homeowners policy remains unpaid and the Springfield, Mo., insurance company that owns the policy — American National Property and Casualty, a subsidiary of American National Insurance Company — shows no signs of following through on their obligations.
The fire was preceded by months of death threats from a neighbor. As the couple’s home went up in smoke, a detached garage had the word “QUEERS” spray-painted on the side in giant black letters.
To date, American National refuses to pay out the couple’s homeowners policy and refuses to pay their living expenses in full, as detailed in a policy rider — even though the company acknowledges that the couple continues to pay the premiums.
AG calls for marriage equality
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Attorney General Kamala Harris has filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asking that the stay on the U.S. District Court ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger — which more than six months ago declared Prop. 8 unconstitutional — be lifted immediately, once again allowing gay and lesbian couples in California to marry.
“For 846 days, Proposition 8 has denied equality under the law to gay and lesbian couples,” Harris stated in her brief. “Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law. Each one of those days, loved ones have been lost, moments have been missed, and justice has been denied.”
At press time there had been no response from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Obamas host anti-bullying conf.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The President and First Lady called for a united effort to address bullying at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. Approximately 150 students, parents, teachers, non-profit leaders, advocates, and policymakers came together March 10 to discuss how they can work together to make America’s schools and communities safe for all students.
“If there’s one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not,” said President Barack Obama. “Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people. And it’s not something we have to accept.”
A delegation from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network was on hand to press for the administration’s support for the bipartisan Safe Schools Improvement Act, a federal anti-bullying bill introduced by Sens. Bob Casey and Mark Kirk.
Anti-gay couple can’t foster
DERBY, England — Eunice and Owen Johns, a Christian couple who were turned down as respite foster care providers because of their negative views on homosexuality, lost their legal challenge last month against the Derby City Council in the High Court.
Lord Justice James Munby and Justice Jack Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation “should take precedence” over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds. They added that if children were placed with caregivers who object to homosexuality and same-sex relationships, “there may well be a conflict with the local authority’s duty to ‘safeguard and promote the welfare’ of looked-after children”
Following the Court’s ruling, Eunice Johns said: “We have been excluded because we have moral opinions based on our faith and we feel sidelined because we are Christians with normal, mainstream, Christian views on sexual ethics. We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing.”