Weekly Political Roundup

Flags

  • The California Supreme Court asked lawyers in the state same-sex marriage case whether the state’s domestic-partnership law “provides all the benefits of marriage, and whether the term ‘marriage’ has special legal significance.” (Well, yes, otherwise why would we want it?)
  • The University of Kentucky has expanded its health insurance scheme to include all dependents residing with employees. This is an attempt to avoid a legal challenge to the University’s decision to provide benefits to same-sex partners, a move the State Attorney General had said would violate the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
  • New Jersey has added transgender protections to its anti-discrimination laws.
  • The New York State Assembly passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, a measure Governor Eliot Spitzer has said he will support. Before the bill goes to the Governor, however, it must pass the state Senate. Majority Leader Joseph Bruno opposes the bill, and is expect to prevent it from coming to the floor.
  • The University of Virginia will allow same-sex partners of students and employees to join the school gym, a benefit legal spouses have had for years. This small perk came only after the State Attorney General affirmed that it would not conflict with laws prohibiting public schools and local governments from offering health insurance to domestic partners. I give the university credit for doing what it can. At least students and staff will be fit enough to burst through a blockade of doctors when trying to visit their partners in the hospital. (Not that I’m really advocating that sort of violence, of course.)

Around the world:

  • Australian Prime Minister John Howard proves he’s still unclear on the concept of equality. Despite a new poll showing 71% of Australians favor equal rights for gay men and lesbians, he asserted “We are not in favour of discrimination, but of course our views on the nature of marriage in our community are very well known [man-woman only] and they won’t be changing.”
  • Although Colombia’s Congress passed legislation granting same-sex couples most of the same rights as opposite-sex married couples, the bill was derailed five days later by a surprise vote called by conservatives when many of the bill’s supporters were absent.
  • A Costa Rican lawmaker has introduced a bill to legalize same-sex civil unions. It would grant rights such as bereavement leave, inheritance, and medical decisions, but would not allow same-sex couples to adopt.
  • A draft reform of Cuba’s Family Code would would give same-sex couples the same civil and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples. It has been presented to the Political Bureau, the highest body of the ruling Communist Party. If approved, it will be introduced into parliament as a draft law.
  • The LGBT community in Jerusalem, Israel, held its Pride Parade last week despite the efforts of some to stop them. Police arrested 18 people for attempting to disrupt the event, and discovered a small bomb intended for use along the parade route.
  • Lesbian couples who have children by donor insemination should be legally recognized as the parents, said Baroness Hale of Richmond, Britain’s most senior female judge. Even though same-sex couples can register their relationships under the Civil Partnership Act, only the biological mother is recognized as a parent.
  • Nouse, the newspaper of the University of York, profiles Florence Moses, a lesbian from Sierra Leone who is seeking asylum in the UK with her son. UK authorities have said that the persecution she faced was not sufficient to grant her asylum. Moses fears violence and rape (for a second time) if she returns to her homeland.