Weekly Political Update

Flags

  • Senator Edward M. Kennedy is leading a Senate push for a federal ban on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender expression or identity. He says the latter could be added later, under a more Democratic Congress and president. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force says it will oppose the bill if it doesn’t include gender protections.
  • In an interview with Philadelphia Gay News, Senator Hillary Clinton gave her strongest statements so far in support of LGBT rights: “I will have a comprehensive review . . . to look at everything that is discriminatory in the tax code or in any other aspect of federal law. And we will try to eliminate all of that discrimination.”
  • In Arizona, the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council approved a measure to provide health insurance coverage for the domestic partners of state government employees and retirees.
  • An Arizona House resolution on a voter referendum to amend the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage is dead. Its sponsor won’t advance it to a formal vote now that it contains provisions that would extend rights to unmarried couples of any gender combination.
  • Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed legislation to change a law that erroneously allowed anyone in the state to marry, at any age, as long they had parental consent if they were under 18.
  • The Kansas City, Missouri city council voted to extend antidiscrimination laws to protect gender identity and expression.
  • A Missouri legislator says a judge should not grant an annulment to a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts, and now living in Missouri. (He’s entitled to his opinion, but methinks this is a judicial matter.)
  • The New York Appellate Division has erased a lower court decision denying recognition of Canadian marriages for same-sex couples. The case had been on appeal when the New York State Department of Civil Service (DCS) agreed to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of public employees under the New York State Health Insurance Program.

Around the world:

  • The European Court of Justice ruled that same-sex couples in legal partnerships have rights to their partners’ pensions. The ruling applies only in countries where such partnerships are recognized, and it is up to member states to decide whether to extend such recognition.
  • Opposition members and LGBT activists are calling for the resignation of Conservative Canadian MP Tom Lukiwski after a 16-year-old tape surfaced that showed Lukiwski making homophobic remarks.
  • The University of Alberta student newspaper has a thoughtful and optimistic article about gay Muslims and the potential for acceptance within classical Islamic thought.
  • The City of Copenhagen has approved one gay and one lesbian couple as eligible foster parents, the first time in the country that same-sex couples have been approved as foster parents. (Denmark was the first country in the world to approve registered partnerships for same-sex couples; took them long enough to get around to this.) (Thanks, PageOneQ.)
  • Alexander Stubb, one of the Finnish Parliament’s leading gay and lesbian rights campaigners and vice president of the LGBT Intergroup, is the country’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Pinknews.co.uk notes that he is married with children; since Finland does not allow same-sex marriage, I assume this means he is straight. Still, he’s clearly a strong ally.)
  • Mehdi Kazemi, the gay Iranian teenager seeking asylum in the U.K. and detained in the Netherlands, was returned to the U.K., where he will stay with an uncle “until his situation is resolved.” (Thanks, PageOneQ.)
  • Poland’s upper house approved the European Union’s proposed charter of rights, but with a clause guaranteeing Poland’s sovereignty within the union. Some see this as a means for the government to opt out of EU LGBT-rights protections.
  • Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland, used his Easter message to attack the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which provides new rights for lesbian and gay parents. He says Prime Minister Gordon Brown is “promoting a bill which denies that a child has a biological father, allows tampering with birth certificates, removing biological parents, and inserting someone altogether different.”
  • A Welsh magistrate is under investigation after appearing on the BBC’s Week In Week Out program and suggesting many gay people are paedophiles.