Weekly Political Roundup

No pre-Christmas slowdown in LGBT news:

Flags

  • Alaska governor Sarah Palin will comply with a state Supreme Court order to offer health and retiree benefits to same-sex partners of state employees. At the same time, “she supports denying those benefits through a constitutional amendment, if that’s what the public wants,” and signed a bill calling for an advisory vote on the issue. Makes me wonder if LGBT cruise lines will curtail their journeys to the state if a ban moves forward.
  • The California State Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco on the legality of same-sex marriage. A state appellate court ruled in October that the state can ban same-sex marriage as long as it grants substantially equal rights to same-sex couples who register as domestic partners.
  • The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court cannot force the Legislature to vote on whether to put a same-sex marriage on the ballot, acknowledged people on both sides. A lawyer for Governor Mitt Romney, who supports the ballot initiative, “conceded that the court could not force the Legislature to take a vote, but said the justices could pressure lawmakers to act by spelling out the intentions of the constitutional provision that permits citizen initiatives.”
  • New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, as expected, signed the Civil Union bill into law, making New Jersey the third state (after Vermont and Connecticut) to do so. The law will take effect in 60 days, giving “unionized” couples all of the more than 800 state rights, protections and responsibilities of married couples—except for the right to call themselves “married.” New Jersey will also create a three-year study commission to decide whether to allow same-sex marriage. I think Steve Goldstein, head of Garden State Equality, put it best when he said “Today we celebrate a journey, not a destination.

Around the world:

  • A new polls shows opinions on same-sex marriage vary widely in the European Union. In Denmark, 82 percent of citizens support it, versus 11 percent in Romania. Overall, 44 percent of citizens in the EU believe it should be allowed throughout the union, with support highest in the north and lowest in the south and east. It seems likely that LGBT rights will play a part as the EU considers extending membership to countries further east.
  • In May, China will ban adoptions by foreigh prospective parents who are unmarried, under 30, over 50, obese, or have had more than two divorces between them. Same-sex couples would fall into the “unmarried” category—though it is unclear what China will do with those couples who married in Canada, Spain, or Massachusetts.
  • A lesbian couple in Ireland are appealing a High Court decision not to recognize their Canadian marriage.
  • In Northern Ireland, the High Court has allowed a group of Christian organizations to challenge new legislation banning discrimination against gay and lesbian people in the provision of goods and services.
  • A court in Sweden has denied adoption rights to two women who have legal partnerships with the children’s biological mothers. Swedish courts have previously allowed lesbians to adopt their partners’ biological children. In this case, however, they claim that by going through donor insemination in Denmark, where donor anonymity is guaranteed, the couples are trying to gain Swedish rights while avoiding its law that children should be able to identify their biological parents.(Thanks to PageOneQ.)