Weekly Political Update

Flags

  • A new advocacy group, tentatively named the LGBT Foreign Policy Project, is asking the U.S. State Department for greater action and involvement in addressing the LGBT-rights issues mentioned in the department’s annual report.
  • AIDS counselor Jason Hair-Wynn recently applied for a new passport so he could go to Africa and use his expertise. The U.S. State Department, however, refused to recognize his new hyphenated name because he is a gay man married to another man. They claimed they were prevented from doing so by the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • The Connecticut legislature’s Judiciary Committee heard testimony from civil-union couples reporting discrimination despite the supposed equivalence of civil unions and marriage. One civil-unioned lesbian couple said that even though they checked ahead with the hospital before the birth of their son, the staff couldn’t find the right birth certificate for a child with civil-unioned parents. A state social worker also “insisted Lois was a single mother, and tried to give her a state-mandated ‘single mom’ talk. The couple eventually got the paperwork, faxed from a friend.” Yes, new moms love to run around after paperwork when they should be spending time with their children.
  • Florida State Senator Nan Rich introduced a bill that would require judges to consider a child’s best when placing them in permanent homes, regardless of the sexual orientation of the prospective parents. A gay or lesbian adult would be considered a potential adoptive parent if he or she were the legal guardian of a child whose parents had died. Governor Charlie Crist opposes the measure, which has now been assigned to a committee headed by Rhonda Storms, who ran for office on a pledge to prevent gay men and lesbian from being foster parents. She has refused to bring it up for debate or a vote.
  • A Kentucky House committee killed a bill that would have prevented public universities and other government agencies from providing health insurance to unmarried domestic partners. Supporters of the bill say they will file it again next year.
  • Maryland senators voted to allow same- or opposite-sex domestic partners the right to make medical and funeral decisions for each other. Couples would have to show “mutual interdependence” such as joint checking accounts or common property ownership before qualifying. The measure now goes to the House.
  • A lesbian married in Massachusetts filed for an annulment from her partner in Missouri. Her attorney asked that the marriage be declared invalid because Missouri does not recognize same-sex marriages. Her partner’s attorney says the marriage is legal because Missouri courts have long held that out-of-state marriages should be respected in Missouri as long as the marriage was legal in the state it was performed.
  • An Irish gay organization was once again banned from taking part in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee voted to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The bill must now get through the Appropriations Committee, the Senate floor, the House, the 2009-10 Legislature, and a state referendum in November 2009 if it is to become law.
  • A Vermont court ruled that Janet Jenkins could maintain child visitation rights to the daughter she parented with her former partner Lisa Miller, settling the case that ping-ponged between the jurisdictions of Vermont and Virginia.

Around the world:

  • A Cameroonian teenager seeking asylum in Switzerland may be returned to his home country, where he could face imprisonment and physical punishment because he is gay.
  • The re-election of Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who is gay, added to speculation that he may run against French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012.
  • Two Israeli men registered as parents of their adopted son, following a ruling by the Ramat Gan Family Court one day earlier allowing them to both be considered the child’s legal father. Mazel tov!
  • A gay New York man filed a complaint against Polish President Lech Kaczynski for using a video clip from the wedding of him and his partner in a national speech to warn against same-sex marriage. It was not clear how the images were obtained.
  • Pinknews.co.uk reports on what the U.K.’s pending Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and new guidelines from the General Medical Council could mean for lesbian and gay parents.