Weekly Political Roundup

FlagsPublishing this early because of my vacation schedule; I’ll catch late-Friday news next week.

  • The U.S. House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on workplace discrimination against transgender people, “the first ever hearing in Congress exclusively on transgender issues.” HRC has coverage here and here and here.
  • Bilerico’s Alex Blaze has compiled an intriguing collection of media comments that seek to portray Barack Obama as effeminate, and therefore weak and unfit for office. Alex writes: “It’s the adult equivalent of calling someone a fag on the schoolyard. It’s not that they think Obama’s actually into the same-sex lovin’, they just want you to know that he’s just not right, he’s weak, he’s just so… gay.” A good look at media bias.
  • Presidential candidate John McCain announced his support for an amendment to the California constitution that would ban marriage of same-sex couples. He also held secret meetings with the Log Cabin Republicans. Michelle Obama, wife of his rival Barack Obama, will give the keynote address at the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council gala in New York this week. (Thanks, PageOneQ.)
  • After the Arizona Senate failed to send an anti-marriage amendment to the voters, it appears that amendment supporters will bring the measure back for another vote this Friday, based on a technicality.
  • The good news: California’s “Save Our Kids” Campaign has given up its efforts to overturn California’s Senate Bill 777, which provides various anti-discrimination and anti-bullying protections in schools. The bad news: The Campaign will instead concentrate on passing a constitutional amendment to ban marriage of same-sex couples.
  • Some LGBT legal experts are recommending that same-sex couples who marry in California maintain their domestic partnerships as well, not only because the marriages could become void if a ban passes in November, but because other states are more likely to recognize a domestic partnership. (Thanks, To Form a More Perfect Union.)
  • Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in Miami, Florida against a hospital that refused to allow the partner of a dying lesbian to see her because they were not considered family. The couple had been in Florida as part of an R Family Vacations cruise.
  • The Human Relations Committee of Cook County, Illinois advanced a proposal to allow county employees who marry a same-sex partner in another state to maintain their county benefits. Under the current ordinance, same-sex married couples are ineligible for the benefits. The committee also approved an ordinance to allow same-sex couples who marry in other states to continue to register as domestic partners with the county.
  • The New York State Senate unanimously passed the “Access to Family Court” bill, which expands access to orders of protection to include LGBTQ, teen, and other survivors living with or dating abusive partners. The current law only allows those related by blood, marriage or a child in common to obtain such orders.
  • The retirement of New York Senate majority leader has LGBT advocates speculating whether Democrats can now pick up the two seats needed to gain control of the Senate in November, a shift that could improve the chances of getting a marriage equality bill to Gov. David Paterson, who has said he would sign it.
  • The mayor of Pittsburgh signed legislation creating a city domestic-partner registry.
  • A South Carolina school district voted to allow students to form a gay-straight alliance (GSA), after the principal announced he would resign at the end of next school year because the GSA conflicts with his personal beliefs. Parents will now have the option to stop their minor children from participating in any school club. Student clubs must also refrain from discussing sexually explicit topics, “in keeping with the district’s abstinence-based curriculum.”

Around the world:

  • The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government introduced proposed laws to allow same-sex couples to access the same parental leave as opposite-sex couples.
  • The Vancouver board of education says it will enforce a ministry policy that prevents parents from pulling students out of classes that deal with LGBT issues, except for health classes. In the case of health classes, children must still “learn the material outside the classroom setting, by home instruction or self-directed studies.” (Isn’t that how most of us learned sex ed, anyway?)
  • Cuba’s first Gay Pride parade was canceled just before it began, after two organizers were detained for unknown reasons. The march was not sanctioned by the country’s National Center for Sex Education, which is headed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro.
  • Czech authorities banned two anti-LGBT rallies planned to coincide with the first Pride march in Czech history in Brno, South Moravia.
  • Ireland’s Minister for Justice says same-sex couples will have legal recognition of their relationships within a year, but this would not include marriage or adoption. LGBT advocates seem divided on whether this is “a major milestone towards equality” or a “mean-minded, begrudging, minimal proposal.”
  • Members of Jerusalem’s LGBT community and allies held their annual Pride march. Religious protesters did not riot as they did last year, although they were there at a “safe distance.”
  • Saudi Arabian police have arrested 21 allegedly gay men and “confiscated large amounts of alcohol.”