Weekly Political Roundup

Flags

  • I haven’t been covering the blow-by-blow of the presidential campaigns, but others have. Lisa Keen, in the Bay Area Reporter, has a good summary of the leading candidates’ positions on various LGBT issues and the endorsements they’ve gained. The AP looks at the frustration among many LGBT activists about the lukewarm support for LGBT rights among the major candidates.
  • The conservative Arkansas Family Council Action Committee launched a petition drive in support of a law banning unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children.
  • Sponsors introduced a bill into the Idaho Legislature to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The chair of the Senate Affairs Committee said, however, that he will probably not schedule a hearing for the bill, effectively killing it. Supporters are still hopeful they can get the votes to move the bill to the floor.
  • The Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee gave its approval to a proposed state constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. The House committee chairman has already said he won’t give it a hearing.
  • Iowa’s governor says he will do “whatever it takes to protect marriage between a man and a woman,” if the state Supreme Court rules in favor of a lower court decision that struck down the state ban on same-sex marriage. He will urge the legislature to enact a constitutional amendment, even if it means calling a special session to do so.
  • Maryland legislators introduced a measure to allow marriage for same-sex couples. The bill has over 50 sponsors. It will also state that no religious officials will be required to conduct or recognize the unions. Several Republicans say they will soon sponsor an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
  • Maryland lawmakers are also considering anti-bullying legislation introduced at the request of a Montgomery County high schooler harassed by her peers when she came out as a lesbian. (Side comment: Maryland’s state motto is “Fatti maschii, parole femine,” or “Manly deeds, womanly words.” Make of that what you will.)
  • The New Mexico House has approved a domestic partnership bill granting same- and opposite-sex unmarried couples the same rights and benefits as married couples under state law. In other words, this is equivalent to a civil union in Connecticut, New Jersey, or Vermont. The New Mexico bill leaves off one item of equality, however, as Timothy points out at Box Turtle Bulletin: Domestic Partners would still have to file state income tax returns with the same status as their federal income tax returns, i.e., as legal strangers. (Here’s the full text of the bill, as a PDF.) The legislation now moves to the state Senate, where similar legislation failed by one vote last year.
  • HRC and other LGBT-rights groups gathered in Long Island to discuss a strategy for ousting state lawmakers who have blocked legislation supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples.
  • Lambda Legal asked a New York state court to strike down a ruling that denied pension rights to a same-sex couple married in Canada. Earlier, the case prompted the state Department of Civil Service to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of public employees; Lambda wants an official reversal of the lower-court decision, however, in order to clear up any confusion about the status of same-sex couples.
  • A New Orleans court ruled that the city did not exceed its authority when it established a domestic partner registry and granted health benefits to domestic partners of city employees.
  • The governor of Puerto Rico governor said he would not block a referendum for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, even though he believes such an amendment is “unnecessary and divisive.” Local laws already ban same-sex marriage.
  • The mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, revealed further details of his proposed domestic-partnership registry, and while the City Council has not yet voted on the matter, they did not object to the plan. A $25 fee would fund the registry, which “allows for an array of domestic dependents, including extended-family members, siblings and parents.”
  • Perhaps riding the wave of pro-LGBT sentiment, the Salt Lake Tribune says the state’s ban on adoption by unmarried couples is outdated and should be changed.
  • LGBT activists in Seattle, Washington are trying to extend the rights and responsibilities granted by last year’s domestic partnership law. Many of the new rights relate to divorce, such as community property rights, probate protections and joint responsibility for debts. The new legislation would also provide end-of-life rights, nursing-home visitation, veterans benefits and spousal testimonial privileges.

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