Weekly Political Roundup

FlagsFirst, the feel-good story of the week:

Canadians Ruth Pogson, 83, and Beth Aime, 79, married each other this week at a Victoria nursing home. The couple has been in a committed relationship since 1995.

On to more serious matters:

  • A senior Senate Democrat says that he wants to attach expanded, LGBT-inclusive federal hate crimes laws to the 2009 defense authorization bill. A similar attempt to pass such laws failed last year.
  • The U.S. military is admitting an increasing number of ex-felons, while continuing to ban law-abiding gay men and lesbians.
  • The Arizona House gave preliminary approval to an amendment that would prevent same-sex couples from marrying. It needs to pass a roll-call vote, but that is seen as a technicality. If approved in the state Senate, it will appear on the ballot in November.
  • In California, the defense attorney for Brandon McInerney, the 14-year-old who shot and killed his classmate Lawrence King, argued that school administrators and King himself were to blame for the shooting because “Cross-dressing isn’t a normal thing in adult environments.” As Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin notes, not only does this unfairly blame the victim, but it is not accurate. King was not a cross-dresser, although he wore jewelry with his school uniform.
  • Pinellas County, Florida, approved an anti-discrimination ordinance that will add “sexual orientation” to the protected categories in housing, employment and public accommodations. (Thanks, PageOneQ.)
  • The Louisiana House is currently considering a safe schools initiative based on race, religion, gender, disability and sexual orientation, among other things— but not gender identity or expression. The House is expected to vote on it within the next 10 days or so.
  • A new rule in North Carolina will ensure that same-sex partners are able to visit each other in the hospital, with “the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient.”
  • The special commission appointed in Vermont to determine whether civil unions achieved equality for same-sex couples suggested that “that Vermont take seriously the difference between civil marriage and civil union,” but stopped short of recommending marriage for same-sex couples.

Around the world:

  • The European Commission decided to issue a new anti-discrimination directive that includes only disability, not sexual orientation, after opposition to a more wide-ranging measure by Germany and other member states
  • New South Wales, Australia will recognize non-biological lesbian moms whose partners conceive through IVF or sperm donation. The new laws will not, however, apply to gay male couples or children from adoption, surrogacy or heterosexual sex.
  • A gay male couple in New South Wales, however, won a landmark discrimination case after being banned from becoming foster parents because of their sexual orientation.
  • Bahrain MP’s demanded the Interior Ministry stop granting residence permits to “foreign homosexuals,” called for gays to be ‘rooted out’ of hair salons and massage parlours, and want teachers instructed to look out for homosexual tendencies in children and to ‘punish them accordingly.’
  • Israel agreed for the first time to register an overseas adoption by a gay couple and to grant the child Israeli citizenship. The Cambodia-born boy was adopted in 2000 in the U.S. by two men who hold American and Israeli citizenship. The boy received American citizenship, but shortly afterward returned to Israel with his fathers, where he has had to live on a temporary residence visa that is extended annually.
  • A new poll in Norway found that 58 percent of those surveyed support the proposed new Marriage Act, which would give same-sex couples full marriage rights. 31 percent were against.
  • The mayor of Moscow banned pride celebrations in his city for the 12th year in a row.
  • The Singapore government fined a television station for featuring a gay couple with their adoptive son, saying it “promoted a gay lifestyle.”
  • Human rights groups in South Africa say lesbians in Khayelitsha are too frightened to protest outside the trial of nine men accused of beating 19-year-old lesbian Zoliswa Nkonyana to death more than two years ago. (Thanks, PageOneQ.)
  • U.K. House of Lords voted to amend a proposed new hate-crimes law so that “no-one should face jail for criticising gay lifestyles or urging homosexuals to change their ways.” The original proposal would have seen “those found guilty of using threatening language on the grounds of sexual orientation facing a criminal prosecution and jail terms of up to seven years.”
  • A U.K. court sentenced a mother and her daughter for a campaign of abuse against a gay couple who were their neighbors. The mother received 150 days in prison and her daughter, now 22, “was given a two-year supervision order and told to pay £625 costs.” Both are also banned from the town.