Army OKs criminals, but not gays; Gov. stands up for equality

National News Notes

Army OKs criminals, but not gays
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Apr. 7 edition of USA Today featured a report on the rising percentage of Army recruits needing a waiver to join the service because of a past criminal record. The article stated that the percentage has more than doubled since 2004 to an unprecedented one in every eight new soldiers. The waivers have helped the Army meet its Active and Reserve recruitment goals for the past several years.

In response to the report, Aubrey Sarvis (pictured), executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, blogged, “Each year bigotry towards lesbians and gays costs the military dearly. Statistics from the Williams Institute at UCLA suggest nearly 4,000 Americans a year never enlist, are discharged or decide not to re-enlist because of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ That means, since the law was passed in 1993, the military has lost nearly 60,000 qualified troops to the ban.

“That figure is more than equal to the number of men and women sent into Iraq last year as part of the surge. The loss of so many qualified service members is one of the reasons why recruiters are now granting waivers to ex-cons.”

Governor stands up for equality
NEW YORK, N.Y. — On Apr. 7, New York Gov. David Paterson was honored at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s New York Leadership Awards for his longstanding work on behalf of LGBT rights. Because he was “held hostage” by the budget process in Albany, Paterson sent an extremely supportive message via video to the standing-room-only crowd.

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The governor said he was “proud to have run on a ticket that advocated for marriage equality and to win on that premise.” Speaking on the historic triumph of the marriage equality bill in the New York State Assembly, he reiterated “that when people love each other they should be able to express it in every way that they deem necessary and possible and they should have all the rights that the rest of us have.”

He vowed “to push on until we bring full marriage equality to New York state” and promised to fight for an end to bullying in schools, for transgender rights and for affordable health care for everyone. He concluded with a call to “change the face of New York which will be a catalyst for change in national policy.”

State workers get DP benefits
PHOENIX, Ariz. — The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council unanimously voted April 1 to extend domestic partner benefits including health coverage to unmarried state employees’ opposite- or same-sex partners. The policy is scheduled to become effective in October 2008. With this change, Arizona becomes the 15th state, plus Washington, D.C., to provide domestic partner benefits to state employees.

“This is exciting news, and great news for same-sex couples in Arizona and their families,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “GLBT state employees in Arizona work just as hard as their straight counterparts. [This] action sends a clear signal that they deserve to receive equal benefits for their work.”

The domestic partner policy was proposed late last year by the Department of Administration with backing by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano. According to state estimates, the number of partners likely to be covered ranges from 317 to 853.

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Council bars gender identity bias
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Apr. 4, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance updating its anti-discrimination policies to include gender identity. Kansas City joins more than 90 cities and counties as well as 12 states, the District of Columbia, and hundreds of private employers in prohibiting employment discrimination based on gender identity. The ordinance also bars discrimination in public accommodations and housing.

Councilperson Beth Gottstein, the measure’s primary sponsor said, “If our city code doesn’t protect everyone, it protects no one. I am proud that we have taken this action to make clear that no one in Kansas City should have to face discrimination.”

Jim MacDonald, president of Four Freedoms, a local LGBT political organization, praised the Council for its unanimous approval of the ordinance. “This vote represents an historic moment for the LGBT community in Kansas City. Never before has there been unanimous council support for an LGBT rights measure. It is truly a mark of how far we have come.”

Briefs filed in marriage case
DES MOINES, Iowa — At least 17 briefs have been filed by a wide array of both Iowa-based and national organizations and individuals at the Iowa Supreme Court on behalf of six same-sex couples seeking marriage in Iowa. One of the briefs, signed by former Lieutenant Governors Joy Corning and

Sally Pederson, states that the Iowa Supreme Court is the proper body to address the important issue.
In a joint statement Corning and Pederson said, “We signed our names to a brief submitted to the Court because we believe that the Court is the proper place to decide this matter. We have a keen understanding of the different roles the courts and legislature play in leading our state and treating all Iowans with fairness.”

Lambda Legal is representing the couples. Camilla Taylor (pictured), senior staff attorney in Lambda’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago, said, “We feel very honored to have the support of so many influential Iowa leaders. Faith leaders, pediatricians, scientists, elected officials, child welfare advocates and civil rights groups are just a few among the signatories.”

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Posted by David Stout

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

One Reply to “Army OKs criminals, but not gays; Gov. stands up for equality”

  1. So when is the North Carolina Debate?

    Oh that’s right, Obama’s too busy for that, since 11-million people tuned in to the last debate and saw how horrible he is at actually discussing the issues. It’s one thing to give a speech that’s rehearsed for clapping points. It’s another to actually have a grasp on the issues, know your position on the issues, and be able to actually get things done! Hope is not the Solution! I want more than HOPE. I want Results!

    Vote Hillary.

    See Hillary’s History of Support for LGBT Issues:

    http://www.hillaryclinton.com/feature/lgbt

    As I have traveled around the country during this Campaign, what I sensed in my heart has been confirmed – America is embracing its LGBT sons and daughters with an acceptance and understanding as never before. On the campaign trail, a father of a gay son will ask about ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. A woman will ask why she can be discriminated against just because of who she is. Sometimes they wait furtively for the crowd to thin and then whisper their confidences in a soft voice and sometimes they stand up proudly at town meetings and want me to share my views on how I will help lead the change to assure that this country fulfills its promise to everyone.

    Let me tell you what I have been telling voters across America. I am fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of LGBT Americans. For seven long years, the Bush Administration has tried to divide us – only seeing people who matter to them. It’s been a government of the few, by the few, and for the few. And no community has been more invisible to this administration than the LGBT community.

    I will change that. The best evidence of what I will do as President is what I have already done.

    I am proud of my record as First Lady, as a U.S. Senator and as a candidate for President in working toward the fair and equal treatment of LGBT Americans.
    I am proud that as Chair of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee in 2006, I worked closely with LBGT community to develop a smart strategy that defeated the Federal Marriage Amendment. I am proud of fighting the FMA as divisive wedge politics at its worst.
    I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligation Act which would grant the same benefits (including health insurance) to domestic partners of federal employees that are currently offered to employees’ legal spouses.
    I am proud to have championed the Early Treatment for HIV Act, which expands access to vital treatment options for low-income individuals living with HIV, and fought to fully fund the Ryan White CARE Act.
    I am proud that I hired a National Director of LGBT Outreach within a month of announcing my candidacy for President and to have openly gay and lesbian staffers serving at all levels of my campaign.
    I am proud to have a National LGBT Steering Committee of over 135 that includes openly LGBT elected officials, Board members and opinion leaders on issues ranging from transgender rights, to HIV/AIDS, to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.
    I am proud to have marched in Gay Pride parades as both First Lady and as Senator and to have spoken in front of so many LGBT audiences ranging from the Human Rights Campaign, Empire State Pride Agenda, the Hetrick Martin Institute, PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis), and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
    I am proud to have fought Republican efforts to demonize and marginalize the LGBT community, and I will continue to do that as President.
    We have so much work to do. When I am President, we will work together to make sure that all Americans in committed relationships have equal benefits and that nothing stands in the way of loving couples who want to adopt children in need. We’re going to expand our federal hate crimes legislation and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and assure that they are both fully inclusive of all people. And finally, we will put an end to the failed policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice – the traits that define our men and women in uniform – have nothing to do with sexual orientation.

    My father was a conservative Republican, who held very traditional views for much of his life. Yet in his last years, it was a gay couple who lived next door who provided much of the compassion and comfort he and my mother needed as he grew ill. And it was that same neighbor who held his hand as he died. If my father can move, America can move.

    To each and every LGBT American, I say this. You have done so much to help this country understand your lives by simply being open and honest about who you are and living your lives with dignity. Thank you for your courage. It is time that we recognize your hard work. I know that this country is ready for changes in the law that reflect the evolution in our hearts.

    America deserves a President who appeals to the best in each of us, not the worst; a President who values and respects all Americans and treats all Americans equally no matter who they are or who they love. I want to be that President. I want to be your President.

    Hillary Clinton

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