Prop 8 challenge goes to court
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Attorneys for same-sex couples, civil rights organizations and the state Attorney General’s office appeared before the California Supreme Court on Mar. 5 to urge the court to strike down Proposition 8. At issue in the case is whether the initiative process can be used to take away a fundamental right only for one group of Californians based on a trait — in this instance sexual orientation — that has no relevance to the group’s ability to participate in or contribute to society.
The case is unprecedented because no other initiative-amendment has successfully taken away a fundamental right only for a particular minority. Because Proposition 8 would, for the first time, change the state constitution in a way that strips a minority group of its right to equal treatment under the law, California Attorney General Jerry Brown agrees that Proposition 8 should be struck down.
Marriage has legislative support
MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont House and Senate Leadership have expressed their commitment to passing a marriage equality bill before the end of the legislative session in May. The bill is expected to be introduced by Senate President Peter Shumlin, Majority Leader Sen. John Campbell and the Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Claire Ayer on Mar. 17. If passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, this would mark the first time marriage equality has become law by the legislative process.
“We applaud Vermont’s House and Senate leaders for taking this bold step and working to pass this legislation in this session,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The momentum for marriage equality is real and tangible. For Vermont, which began this public conversation with civil unions in 2000, to move towards marriage equality sends a powerful message and we salute them.”
Trans Lobby Day coming up
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Transgender activists along with their families, friends and allies will hold their annual congressional Lobby Day on April 28, while the two days prior will be reserved for social networking (26th) and a day of training and workshops (27th). The key issues for discussion with legislators will be the need for an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that includes gender identity, and a trans-inclusive hate crimes bill.
Registration is now open for Lobby Day. Signing up is important because the sponsoring National Center for Transgender Equality is making appointments for registrants to visit their Congress people. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-903-0112.
Memorial scholarship honors teen
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Point Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBT students of merit, is partnering with Jeffrey Fashion Cares to create a scholarship in memory of Lawrence King, the 15-year-old gay male student murdered at school just over a year ago in Oxnard, Calif. The four-year Lawrence King/Jeffrey Fashion Cares Point Scholarship will be awarded to a Point Scholar in the 2009/2010 academic year.
“It is an honor to create a scholarship in the name of a young man who, from what I’ve read, showed so much promise and was a light for many around him,” said Jorge Valencia, executive director and CEO of Point Foundation. “Point is fortunate to have a wonderful friendship with Jeffrey in order to team and create this scholarship.”
Dan Rothmann, co-chair of JFC events, added, “JFC’s involvement with the Point Foundation stemmed directly from the senseless murder of Lawrence. The Lawrence King/Jeffrey Fashion Cares Point Scholarship was set up to ensure that this young man’s memory and the crime would not be forgotten.”
Adoption websites choose bigotry
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Rather than open their services to qualified same-sex couples, Adoption.com and ParentProfiles.com have stopped doing business in the state of New York, according to State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The withdrawal stems from a July 2008 discrimination complaint filed with Cuomo’s office on behalf of Rosario Gennaro and Alexander Gardner, a New York City gay couple barred by the companies from posting their online adoptive-parent profile solely because they are same-sex partners.
Lambda Legal filed the discrimination complaint on the grounds that the companies in question violated New York laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and marital status. Adoption Profiles was sued in California in 2004 by the National Center for Lesbian Rights for violating that state’s anti-discrimination law and, as a result, no longer does business there.