City settles police debacle
FORT WORTH, Texas — Chad Gibson and George Armstrong, two men who were injured during a police “inspection” of the Rainbow Lounge nearly two years ago, received a $400,000 settlement from the Fort Worth City Council on March 23. The settlement was approved without debate and with no admission of liability. The men allege that officers’ excessive force caused Gibson’s head injury and Armstrong’s torn rotator cuff. The timing of the event — conducted on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Stonewall — drew protests and national media attention.
Civil union bill introduced
DOVER, Del. — The Delaware state Senate has introduced SB30, a comprehensive civil unions bill. The proposed measure would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions giving them all of the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage under state law, but would not allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses. Religious institutions will not be compelled by the law to solemnize civil unions. Currently, five states have laws providing an expansive form of state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples without offering marriage: California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.
Court declines to remove stay
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has denied a motion filed by opponents of California’s Proposition 8 to lift its stay over a District Court ruling that found Prop. 8 unconstitutional last summer. The Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling means that the stay will remain in effect, and LGBT families will be unable to marry, at least until the California Supreme Court settles a procedural matter in the case. A hearing on that issue is not slated to take place until September.
Majority opposed to DOMA
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new Human Rights Campaign poll on the Defense of Marriage Act reveals that opposition to the law, which bars any federal recognition of same-sex marriages or civil unions, crosses all major demographics including age, race, gender, geography, education and religion. While House Republican leaders work to defend DOMA in court, the American people are clearly aligning against the law. Majorities of every age group oppose DOMA including those over age 65 (52 percent oppose, 31 percent support). Catholics oppose DOMA 51 percent to 37 percent. Southerners oppose DOMA 51 percent to 36 percent.
HRC lobbies law firms
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Now that the U.S. House Of Representatives has decided to intervene and defend DOMA in court (after the Justice Department declined), one of the critical questions is who will represent congress? Capitol Hill sources have indicated that outside counsel might be brought it. In anticipation of such a move, HRC President Joe Solmonese has sent a letter to the Am Law 200 — the nation’s top firms — urging them not to take up the case. Noting that the legal sector has the largest number of top-scoring companies in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, Solmonese added in his letter: “It is critical that your organization not undermine that laudable record by representing the House in its defense of this discriminatory and unconstitutional law, which denies loving gay and lesbian couples the fair and equal treatment that they deserve from their federal government.”
Gay giving for Japanese crisis
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Rainbow World Fund, the only international humanitarian aid organization based in the LGBT community, has established the LGBT Japan Earthquake Fund in response to the crisis in Japan. RWF is asking the LGBT community across the U.S. to get involved in fundraising for Japan by organizing local events and donating the proceeds to the fund or by simply giving online at www.rainbowfund.org/donate. Checks can be made payable to Rainbow World Fund (specify “Japan” in the memo) and mailed to: Rainbow World Fund, 4111-18th St., Suite 5, San Francisco, CA 94114. RWF promises that 100 percent of donations will be sent to groups in Japan.
U.N. council calls for global equality
UNITED NATIONS — A joint statement entitled “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” was issued March 22 at the U.N. Human Rights Council. The statement was delivered by Colombia on behalf of 85 countries, including the U.S. The statement “call[s] on States to take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the U.N. system made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.