Civil unions approved in Delaware
WILMINGTON, Del. — Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a law May 11 that legalizes civil unions for same-sex couples. The bill grants same-sex couples the same legal rights and protections that married different-sex couples have under state law. Delaware is the third state to pass a civil unions law in 2011, along with Illinois and Hawaii. A total of 10 other states provide civil unions or partnerships for same-sex couples, and five states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Four more states respect the marriages of same-sex couples that were validly entered into in other states or countries.
TN pols vote to strip anti-bias laws
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Legislature has passed SB 632 / HB 600, a bill that prohibits cities and counties from adopting anti-discrimination laws on any basis, including race, religion, sex and age. The effort was motivated by an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Nashville. Because legislators took action based on their desire to limit the rights of a particular group — the LGBT community — the bill, if signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam, will be vulnerable to legal challenges costing the state precious resources during tight economic times.
Full welcome for gay clergy
NEW YORK, N.Y. — After a new recommendation was approved earlier this month by a majority of the nation’s 173 presbyteries, The Presbyterian Church (USA) has opened ordination to gay and lesbian clergy candidates without forcing them to remain celibate, as was previously required. The Presbyterian Church (USA) joins a host of other Protestant denominations that have voted to accept gay and lesbian clergy and church leaders. Among them are the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church.
Teacher of the Year honored
BALTIMORE, Md. — Middle school teacher Rich Espey is the 2011 GLSEN Educator of the Year. The award recognizes an educator who has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Espey has taught science for 23 years and is currently teaching 8th graders at the Park School of Baltimore. In 2005, he assumed sponsorship of Park’s Middle School GSA; projects under his guidance have included a student-created video addressing homophobia and various assembly programs for GLSEN’s Day of Silence, among others.
‘Milk’ is the cream of gay films
LONDON, England — Based on a social networking vote sponsored by U.K. LGBT rights group Stonewall, “Milk” is “the film with the best depiction of LGB lives from the last decade.” The 2009 film directed by openly gay filmmaker Gus Van Sant and starring Oscar-winner Sean Penn received 40 percent of the votes, followed by last year’s “The Kids Are All Right” (23 percent), “Brokeback Mountain” (19 percent), “A Single Man” (13 percent) and “The Hours” (5 percent).