Court recognizes gay parents

National News Notes

Court recognizes gay parents
NEW ORLEANS, La. — In a major victory for same-sex parents nationwide, U.S. District Court Judge Jay Zainey ordered Louisiana State Registrar Darlene Smith to recognize the New York adoption of a baby boy by a same-sex couple, saying her continued failure to do so violated the U.S. Constitution.

Judge Jay Zainey

Judge Jay Zainey

Oren Adar and Mickey Smith adopted their Louisiana-born son in 2006 in a New York court. When Smith attempted get a new birth certificate for their child, in part so he could add his son to his health insurance, the State Registrar’s office told him that Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents and so could not issue it.

Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of Adar and Smith in October, 2007, saying that the registrar was violating the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to recognize the New York adoption. The Louisiana attorney general disagreed and advised Smith that she did not have to honor the adoption. Judge Zainey ruled against the State on Dec. 23 and issued a summary judgment ordering Smith to issue a new birth certificate identifying both Adar and Smith as the boy’s parents.

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Trans woman critically wounded
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — At press time, transgender woman Leeneshia Edwards was in critical condition at Regional Medical Center of Memphis after being shot multiple times and undergoing multiple surgeries for resultant injuries to her jaw, side and back. According to police the shooting occurred near Fuller State Park in the early morning of Dec. 23. The victim’s family and friends immediately denounced the shooting as a hate crime.

Edwards is the third transgender victim of violence in the city in 2008. Less than a month prior, transgender woman Duanna Johnson was brutally murdered. No solid leads in that case have been developed. On July 1, the body of Ebony Whitacker was found in an abandoned apartment building. The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition reacted to the latest attack by calling on political leaders of all parties to support transgender-inclusive hate crimes legislation.

Study group calls for full marriage
TRENTON, N.J. — After studying the issue the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission unanimously found that civil unions are an inadequate form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples and that the New Jersey Civil Union Act is an ineffective form of protection. In its report, The Legal, Medical Economic and Social Consequences of the NJ Civil Union Law, The NJ-CURC recommended that “the Legislature and Governor [should] amend the law to allow same-sex couples to marry,” and that “the law [should] be enacted expeditiously because any delay in marriage equality will harm all the people of New Jersey.”

Baldwin tapped for inauguration
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Openly lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin has been named an honorary co-chair of the 2008 presidential inauguration. The news pleased LGBT activists who were angered by an earlier announcement that President-elect Barack Obama had invited gay marriage opponent Pastor Rick Warren to lead the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

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Despite appearances, Obama’s advisors said Baldwin’s inclusion was not a public relations ploy. In fact, they assert that all of the honorary co-chair selections were made before news of Warren’s participation was even made public. Additional co-chairs include President Jimmy Carter, President George H. W. Bush, President William J. Clinton, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Rep. Linda Sanchez and General Colin Powell.

New health laws hurt LGBT people
WASHINGTON, D.C. — National LGBT rights groups have denounced new regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that will allow employees of health care entities receiving federal funds to refuse to assist or participate in providing “any lawful health service or research activity” on moral or religious grounds. The new guidelines, which go into effect Jan. 18, override many state laws protecting patients’ access to medical services.

Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, said, “We are outraged by the enactment of this discriminatory policy. Like all Americans, LGBT people deserve access to health care. No one’s health care should depend on personal beliefs of an individual health care provider. It is morally unacceptable for LGBT people to rely on the roll of the dice for access to appropriate care and treatment. We urge the incoming administration to immediately address this issue. The longer it takes, the longer LGBT people will be placed in harm’s way.”

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said, “Denying patients legal, safe medical treatments for any reason is simply wrong, and violates the trust that all Americans, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity, place in our doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.” He issued a call for Congress to take action to eliminate these harmful regulations, and added that HRC will encourage the incoming HHS leadership to amend them through the regulatory process.

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Posted by David Stout

David Stout is the associate editor of QNotes. He can be reached at editor2@goqnotes.com.