Connecticut victory, Survey finds bias

National News Notes

Connecticut marriage victory
HARTFORD, Conn. — In a 4-3 split decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court awarded full access to marriage to the state’s gay and lesbian residents. With this Oct. 10 ruling, the Nutmeg state joined Massachusetts and California in recognizing the right of same-sex couples to wed. The lawsuit, Kerrigan v. the State Commissioner of Public Health, was filed by eight couples who argued that the state’s 2005 civil union law granted them less rights than married couples.

In its ruling, the majority stated, “Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same-sex partner of their choice. To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”

According to an analyses of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 American Community Survey, conducted by the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law, there are 9,546 same-sex couples in Connecticut. Of these partnerships, nearly 30 percent are raising an estimated 5,700 children.

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School survey finds pervasive bias
NEW YORK, N.Y. — GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, has released the most comprehensive report ever on the experiences of LGBT students. The 2007 National School Climate Survey was released in conjunction with the announcement that GLSEN is partnering with the Ad Council on a multi-year national public education campaign targeting anti-LGBT language among teenagers.

“The 2007 National School Climate Survey reveals that, on a whole, the situation is still dire for many LGBT youth when it comes to school safety,” GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings said. “It’s hard to believe that anyone who reads this report could continue to turn the other way as our nation’s LGBT students are bullied and harassed at alarming rates.

The survey of 6,209 middle and high school students found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the past year; 60.8 percent felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; and one-third skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe. (The full report can be downloaded at www.glsen.org.)

Rec’d candidates at all-time high
WASHINGTON, D.C. — At press time, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund has endorsed 100 openly LGBT political candidates in 2008, making this endorsement slate the group’s largest ever. Endorsed candidates are running for offices at all levels of government, from school boards to the U.S. Congress, according to the group.

Chuck Wolfe, the Victory Fund’s president and CEO, said, “I think reaching this milestone is a testament to a new attitude in our community about how to achieve political change. We don’t have to accept sitting on the sidelines and hoping others will do the heavy lifting. We can roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves.”

The Victory Fund is the nation’s largest LGBT political action committee, and the only national group dedicated to increasing the number of out elected officials at all levels of government. Since its founding in 1991, the number of openly LGBT elected officials in the U.S. has grown from less than 50 to more than 420.

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Study: DP benefits outweigh costs
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — On Sept. 24, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs held a hearing on S.2521, The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would offer health and other benefits to the same-sex partners of more than 30,000 federal employees.

After crunching the numbers, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has reported that implementing the measure would add $43.5 million to the federal budget in the first year of coverage. This figure represents just 0.4 percent of total government health care expenditures. Over 10 years the budgetary cost was predicted to be $675 million.

Christopher Ramos, a researcher who worked on the study, noted that several states and more than half of the Fortune 500 offer health insurance to employees’ domestic partners. “The federal government will find it harder to attract and retain talented employees if compensation does not keep up with the competition for employees. That means there’s a cost of not offering domestic partner benefits to the federal government, as well.”

Cable nets join for NCOD
NEW YORK, N.Y. — On Saturday, Oct. 11, in honor of National Coming Out Day, multiple cable networks aired supportive coming out public service announcements, uniting for the largest national one-day television promotion ever for LGBT equality. Participating outlets included Fox Reality Channel, IFC, Lifetime, The N, SCI FI Channel, Sundance Channel and USA Network. Various ABC affiliates also joined the effort.

The PSAs are part of GLAAD’s “Be an Ally & a Friend” campaign, which feature 22 personalities, including T.R. Knight, Marlee Matlin and Martina Navratilova, sharing with viewers the importance of accepting gay friends and family members.

This year marked the 20th annual National Coming Out Day, observed every Oct. 11. The day was established in 1988 to commemorate the first anniversary of the second national March on Washington for LGBT rights.

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Posted by David Stout

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