Weekly Political Update

A slowish week for news:

  • FlagsPresident Bush has threatened to veto a routine appropriations bill for the District of Columbia because of the city’s domestic partner registry. The White House claims “Under federal law, legal marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Federal tax dollars are not used to extend employment benefits to domestic partners of federal employees, and D.C. should not enjoy an exception to this rule.” Um, George? D.C. residents are not federal employees.
  • Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, came out in support of same-sex marriage, although her husband favors civil unions. I don’t doubt the sincerity of Elizabeth’s position, but I wonder if her announcing it was simply the act of an outspoken woman or a campaign move calculated to garner LGBT support.
  • A federal judge in Massachusetts ruled that state non-discrimination laws cannot be used to make private-sector employers provide benefits to same-sex spouses, domestic partners, or civil union partners, if the benefits fall under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). (Thanks, PageOneQ.)
  • The Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that anti-gay discrimination is not covered by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Although an earlier Supreme Court judgment said that sex-stereotyping is prohibited under the Act, the Sixth Circuit judges ruled that being discriminated against on the basis of perceived homosexuality does not fall into this category.
  • Eureka Springs, Arkansas, became the first jurisdiction in the state to recognize same-sex couples. Their domestic partnership registry opened Friday, despite a last-minute attempt to force a referendum and stop it. A registered partnership has no legal standing, but may be used to claim employee benefits at some companies.

Around the world:

  • New UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has appointed his former special advisor Spencer Livermore as his director of political strategy, making Livermore “the most powerful gay person in UK politics,” according to Pink News. Brown also appointed gay MP Nick Brown Minister for the North West and Deputy Chief Whip, and promoted Baroness Ashton of Upholland, winner of the Stonewall award for Politician of the Year, to the Cabinet.
  • Despite the discovery of a car bomb along the route of the London Pride Parade, organizers say the march will go ahead as planned tomorrow.