Weekly Political Roundup

FlagsNew Jersey dominated the headlines this week, but there’s also good news from Oklahoma, a celebrity marriage in Canada, and some items of bad news from round and about to remind us why we need to keep fighting.

On a lighter note, if you haven’t yet seen the Daily Show’s take on the HRC/LOGO Presidential Forum, you should pop over to PageOneQ and view it. It may be just enough humor to get you through the real news.

  • The mayor and police chief of Scottsdale, Arizona have met with victims of homophobic hate crimes and members of the LGBT community to counter criticism the city is not doing enough to stop such violence.
  • Bill O’Reilly of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, reported in error that a new poll found most Americans would not vote for a presidential candidate endorsed by an LGBT-rights organization. The Quinnipiac poll in fact found that 28% of respondents would be “less likely” to support such a candidate, 10% said “more likely,” and 60% said it “would make no difference.” (I kind of wish O’Reilly was right. Then we could just have HRC endorse Romney and kill his campaign.)
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida Mayor Jim Naugle continues to draw ire for his anti-LGBT remarks.
  • The Okeechobee County, Florida School Board is attempting to institute prohibitions on “sex-based clubs,” a move the ACLU says is meant to avoid a U.S. District Court injunction requiring that the school allow a Gay-Straight Alliance. The school district attorney says the state’s Equal Access Act can’t be used in the case of a GSA and that Florida law requires schools to teach abstinence and “the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage.” The District Court astutely pointed out that the school board’s attorneys had failed to show that the GSA was a “sex-based club”. A federal civil-rights lawsuit about permitting such clubs is underway.
  • According to a Zogby poll commissioned by Garden State Equality, 48% of New Jerseyans believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, vs. 45% opposed. (The remainder had no opinion, fell into the margin of error, or have been wandering up and down the NJ Turnpike for the last five years.) A whopping 63% would be fine with allowing same-sex marriage if public officials determined that civil unions were not providing true equality, and 61% believe it will happen in a couple of years whether they support it or not.
  • On the heels of that news, New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak, who once opposed marriage equality on religious grounds, wrote a heartfelt blog post in support of it. Would that certain other politicians were so brave.
  • A New Jersey lesbian couple whose 2004 Canadian marriage was recognized as a civil union in February 2007, when civil unions took effect, cannot file a joint tax return for their 2006 income. The state says that even though their marriage was valid in Canada in 2006, it was not in New Jersey, and so they are being treated the same as an opposite-sex couple who married in 2007. One of the judges in the case filed a separate opinion noting that an opposite-sex couple living in New Jersey who were married in another jurisdiction before the end of 2006 would be allowed to file jointly, and to deny this right to same-sex couples was “a denial of equal protection under the New Jersey Constitution.”
  • And in yet more news from the Garden State, the Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist group that owns all the land in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, has filed a federal lawsuit against the state, claiming its constitutional rights would be violated if it were required to allow civil unions to be performed at a boardwalk pavilion it owns there.
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health will not further appeal a U.S. Circuit Court ruling that an Oklahoma law preventing same-sex couples from getting birth certificates for children adopted in other states is unconstitutional.

Around the world:

  • Liberal MP Scott Brison will become the first federal politician in Canada to wed a same-sex partner.
  • The Faroe Islands, a self-governing province of Denmark, are celebrating their second LGBT Pride this weekend, the first Pride since the islands’ parliament banned discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
  • Eighteen men have been imprisoned for alleged sodomy in north-eastern Bauchi State of Nigeria, a region governed by Islamic Sharia law. The Sharia punishment for sodomy is death by stoning. In somewhat better news, a law that would criminalize same-sex relations in Nigeria seems to be off the political agenda for now. (Thanks, PageOneQ.)
  • A spate of murders and rapes of lesbians in South Africa has set off a string of protests and a call for anti-hate-crime legislation.
  • The Sexual Minorities Groups in Uganda (Smug), an organization of LGBT activists, held their first-ever press conference and demanded recognition, basic civil rights, and education to reduce the incidence of HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases among the gay community. Many of the attendees wore masks, fearful of arrest and beatings.