Weekly Political Roundup

Flags

  • The Justice Department’s inspector general said he is looking into whether a department lawyer was dismissed over a rumor that she is a lesbian.
  • HRC says that reports of the death of an Arizona constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage were greatly exaggerated. The state legislature might reconsider and send it to voters this November. E. J. Montini of The Arizona Republic expresses his exasperation with those who are pushing for a constitutional ban in a state where same-sex marriage is already illegal. Lawmakers should focus on solving problems that really matter, he says.
  • Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Transgender Law Center, and 24 other organizations made a written appeal to the District Attorney of Ventura County, CA, asking him to try 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King’s accused killer, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, as a juvenile. They said that while King’s murder was a tragedy, it shouldn’t be compounded by treating McInerney as an adult.
  • The Colorado Senate passed a bill to add protections based on sexual orientation to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
  • The Florida Senate Commerce Committee last week approved a bill sponsored by State Sen. Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) that prohibits discrimination against gay men and lesbians in employment, housing and public accommodations.
  • A Miami-Dade County committee passed a proposal for various domestic partner benefits, including hospital and jail visitation rights and health insurance coverage for the partners (and partners’ children) of county employees. The full County Commission will vote on it later this month or in May.
  • The Illinois House rejected a measure that would allow surviving same-sex partners of teachers to collect their pension benefits, just as married spouses can.
  • The Williams Institute at UCLA estimates that same-sex marriage in Iowa would lead to $160 million in spending over the next three years, giving the state an extra $5.3 million per year in tax revenue from weddings and related tourism.
  • The “Revisionist History” award of the week goes to the Kentucky Senate. It voted to direct the Department of Education to make curriculum materials about the Holocaust and genocide available for optional use in public schools. The Senate, however, deleted a clause in the House version that cited other people the Nazis deemed “undesirable” because of their “race, nationality, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political ideology.” Some felt the reference to sexual orientation could have endangered the bill.
  • LGBT groups in Maine are protesting a proposed referendum question submitted by the Christian Civic League of Maine, “Do you want to protect traditional marriage and eliminate special rights laws in Maine?”
  • Lawyers in Montgomery County, Maryland were in court to talk about the scope and timing of a case challenging a referendum to overturn the county’s protections for transgender people. The Board of Elections has said voters should decide whether the law should stand. Supporters of trans protections have questioned whether petitions submitted in favor of the referendum are valid.
  • Thousands of LGBT activists and supporters rallied at the Minnesota Capitol for domestic partner rights and protections of gays students.
  • In a move bound to keep Intuit programmers employed on the next version of TurboTax, same-sex domestic partners in Oregon will have the option of filing joint state income tax returns for 2008. They will fill out a “dummy” federal tax form as if they were married, and use it to complete their state form.
  • A lesbian couple became the first to register under Salt Lake City’s new “mutual commitment” law (because everyone knows that calling it a “domestic partnership” is just one step away from marriage).

Around the world:

  • Canadian authorities denied asylum to a gay man from El Salvador. The 39-year-old HIV-positive man said he was raped by three of his country’s police officers two years ago, and they have threatened to kill him because he infected them with the virus that causes AIDS.
  • In the Cayman Islands, sheltering taxes is OK; sheltering same-sex couples isn’t. Cayman Islands lawmakers and UK officials have stated that neither same-sex marriages “nor any union similar to them” will be allowed under the country’s constitutional reform plans. Certain guidelines for applying to be registered as a British Overseas Territories citizen imply that civil partners would be recognized in the Caymans; a U.K. official has said her country will not force the Caymans to do so, even though she is in favor of such unions.
  • The Columbia Constitutional Court has determined that same-sex partners should be granted the right to enroll in pension rights similar to those of married straight couples. This is the latest in a string of rulings granting rights to same-sex couples.
  • The Isle of Man could better recognize both men and women if its government moves ahead with draft legislation that would give transgender people the right to have their new gender recognized by law.
  • Human Rights Watch said a warrantless raid on an LGBT community center by police in Kyrgyzstan “sends a chilling message.”
  • Police raided the offices of the Lambda Istanbul Cultural Center, the largest LGBT civil rights organization in Turkey, for the second time in a year, on suspicions that the center “facilitates prostitution.”
  • A gay couple in Uruguay became the first to unite under the country’s new civil union law.