N.H. legalizes gay marriage
CONCORD, N.H. — On June 3, Gov. John Lynch signed legislation that will give the legal protections of marriage to gay and lesbian couples in New Hampshire. Lynch signed the bill only an hour after the legislature took the final vote on the issue. The state Senate voted 14-10 in favor of the bill earlier in the day. The state House followed later in the afternoon, voting 198-176. The law will take effect January 1, 2010.
“Today is a historic day for all Granite Staters,” said Mo Baxley, executive director of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition. “We applaud Governor Lynch, Speaker Norelli, President Larsen and the leadership of the General Court for making sure that all loving, committed couples have the freedom to marry. Today, our shared values of individual liberty, freedom, and fairness have been upheld.”
New Hampshire is the sixth state to extend the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples.
Federal court challenge for Prop 8
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The day after the California Supreme Court upheld the validity of Proposition 8, a federal lawsuit was filed by two same-sex couples who wish to be married but have been denied marriage licenses because of the anti-gay marriage measure. Serving as co-counsel on the case are Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, the attorneys who argued Bush v. Gore on opposite sides in 2000.
Olson, a former U.S. Solicitor General, represented George W. Bush in the historic case that decided the presidential election. Boies represented Al Gore in the proceeding. This is the first time they have served alongside each other as co-counsel.
The suit calls for an injunction against Prop. 8 until the case is resolved, which would immediately reinstate marriage rights for same-sex couples. The case is a project of the newly created American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights for every American through legal, policy and political advocacy.
Studies find faith alliances crucial
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable and the Center for American Progress have each released groundbreaking reports analyzing religious and secular advocacy of marriage equality ballot initiatives in California and Michigan. Although examining different campaigns in different states in different years, the two reports draw remarkably similar conclusions about the need for partnerships between religious and secular supporters of equal rights for LGBT people.
The Task Force’s report examines last fall’s Prop. 8 battle, highlighting religious-secular partnerships relevant to marriage equality. The Center’s report examines the role that religious groups played in support of and opposition to Proposal 2, the ballot initiative on marriage equality in Michigan.
Both reports find that anti-LGBT ballot initiatives are often rooted in conservative religious rhetoric. Effective responses require faith voices and messages to counteract these claims in order to show religious diversity in support of marriage equality and to disprove the notion that conservative religious voices are the sole guardians of morality on these issues.
School victory, part one
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dozens of schools in the state have restored access to LGBT websites, after the ACLU filed suit against two Tennessee school districts for unconstitutionally blocking student access to them. The company that provides internet filtering software to as many as 107 Tennessee schools has adjusted the software to allow access to a variety of educational and political LGBT websites that were previously blocked.
“All we ever wanted was to be able to get information out about LGBT issues, like what our legal rights are or what scholarships are available for LGBT students, so I’m really happy that the schools are finally making our Web access fair and balanced,” said Bryanna Shelton, a 16-year-old student at Fulton High School in Knoxville and a plaintiff in the case.
On May 19, the ACLU filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Knox County Schools on behalf of two high school students in Nashville, one student in Knoxville and a high school librarian in Knoxville who is also the advisor of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA).
School victory, part two
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On June 1, a Superior Court here dismissed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate SB 777, the California Student Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of race, religion, disability, gender, and sexual orientation. The lawsuit was brought by a right-wing group that specifically objected to protections for LGBT students. The court held that the plaintiffs had failed to show any way in which the statute was even allegedly unlawful.
The lawsuit was filed on Nov. 5, 2008. State Superintendent Jack O’Connell, represented by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Jan. 8, 2009. On Mar. 19, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, the Transgender Law Center, Equality California, and Gay-Straight Alliance Network filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the motion to dismiss.