Weekly Political Roundup

Flags

  • A group of seven high-ranking lesbian and gay military veterans called on Congress to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and demanded that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace apologize for calling LGBT service members “immoral.”
  • The New York Times follows the LGBT blogosphere in highlighting Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s lukewarm response to General Peter Pace’s homophobic remarks.
  • The New York Times also reported on the accusation of hypocrisy leveled at the military by LGBT-rights groups after the military revealed that far fewer gays and lesbians have been dismissed since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than in previous years.
  • The Ohio Gay People’s Chronicle examines the Democrat’s support—or lack thereof—for LGBT rights. It quotes Paul Yandura, a former Clinton administration official and Democratic fundraiser, who distinguishes between the goals of electing Democrats and making the Democratic party better on LGBT issues.
  • In a similar vein, Bay Windows looks at the current wave of criticism leveled at HRC by bloggers who accuse the organization of being little more than a Democratic mouthpiece and not responding effectively to community needs.

On to specific states:

  • Florida Senator Nan Rich (D) is introducing a bill to reverse the state’s 30-year-old ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians.
  • The Hawaii house has approved a proposal extending government health benefits to unmarried state and county workers, including same-sex ones.
  • Next week, an Indiana House committee will hold a hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Some are concerned that the wording of the amendment could be construed to ban employee benefits for same-sex domestic partners and rights for unmarried opposite-sex senior couples. Others counter that the bill would allow same-sex benefits, but not force anyone to provide them.
  • An Indianapolis, Indiana school district is considering whether to add anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation to its employees.
  • Supporters of same-sex marriage far outnumbered opponents at a hearing in New Hampshire. A bill to legalize same-sex marriage is still in the House Judiciary Committee. The Legislature is also considering bills for other forms of same-sex relationship recognition and rights, including civil unions, spousal unions, same-sex couple adoption and health benefits for state employees.
  • Two New York legislators have reintroduced the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, to ban discrimination on the the basis of gender identity and expression.
  • Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. signed a bill that governs the creation of school clubs and establishes rules administrators can use to block them. It was first drafted as a way to limit gay-straight alliances (GSAs), and some believe it can still be used to do so. The governor, however, says the bill governs all school clubs and will not limit GSAs.
  • A lesbian couple in Wyoming who were married in Canada have been told they can’t receive communion at the Catholic church they’ve attended since 1998, “because of your union and your public advocacy of same-sex unions.”
  • Pope Benedict XVI also this week told Catholic politicians that the Vatican’s stance against abortion and gay marriage is “not negotiable.” The Pope’s spokesman did not clarify whether this meant bishops should not give Communion to politicians who supported positions contrary to Church teaching.

Around the world:

  • The European Parliament is calling on the Nigerian Government and Parliament not to adopt the proposed “Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act” that I wrote about two weeks ago. They do qualify their condemnation by asking that Nigeria not adopt the measure “in its current form.”
  • France’s highest court ruled that the marriage of two gay men in June 2004, the first and only same-sex marriage to be held in France, was illegal. France did legalize same-sex civil partnerships 1999. One candidate for president in the April elections, Segolene Royal, has promised full same-sex marriage rights.
  • As Ghana’s President John Kufuor visits London this week, LGBT activists in Ghana and the U. K. are calling on him to repeal the country’s anti-gay laws.
  • In news from a couple of months ago that somehow slipped by, the Israeli Housing and Construction Ministry said it would provide housing and mortgage assistance to common-law couples, including same-sex couples.
  • The Polish Minister of Education is proposing a law to “punish whomever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments.”