Weekly Political Update

  • FlagsThe U.S. House approved repeal of a law barring HIV-positive visitors and immigrants to the country. It now goes to the President.
  • The Personnel Subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee heard testimony for and against the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis notes the irony that this was the same day politicians gathered to honor the 60th anniversary of President Truman’s executive order that ended racial discrimination in the armed forces.
  • After meeting with HRC (and perhaps feeling pressure from the blogosphere) the Mars candy company pulled a controversial ad showing an effeminate man being shot at with candy bars and told to “run like a real man.”
  • A panel of five Arizona senators will meet Monday to decide whether to pursue a complaint that a senator illegally cut off debate on a tax bill on the last night of the session, a debate being used to filibuster a vote on whether to put a constitutional ban on marriage equality on the November ballot. State Senate President Tim Bee rejected a request from Equality Arizona to appoint a bipartisan panel to investigate.
  • A proposed Arkansas ballot measure banning unmarried couples who live together from adopting or fostering children failed to collect the needed signatures, but received a 30-day extension under state law.
  • Supporters of the Prop. 8 ballot measure in California are claiming in public ballot arguments that if marriage equality remains legal, teachers will be required to teach young children “there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage.” Shock and horror.
  • Brandon McInerney, the 14-year-old who shot and killed fellow student Lawrence King in Oxnard, CA, will be tried as an adult, a judge ruled, despite the fact that even LGBT activists say he should be tried as a juvenile. Jim at Box Turtle Bulletin has a good post on this, too.
  • Hate crimes in Los Angeles County rose 28 percent between 2006 and 2007, reaching their highest point in five years even as overall crime rates fell.
  • Police in Greeley, CO say Angie Zapata, an 18-year-old found dead inside her apartment last week, may have been targeted because she was transgender.
  • PageOneQ has an exclusive interview with Colorado Democratic Congressional hopeful Jared Polis.
  • A new Maryland law banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity will placed on the ballot and could be overturned, after a judge in ruled that that LGBT advocates missed a deadline for challenging the inclusion of the measure on the ballot.
  • In the non-news item of the week, the Massachusetts House did not take up a repeal of the 1913 law banning out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in the Bay State. They now have six work days to do so this session. (The Senate voted last week in favor of a repeal.) The House did, however, vote to treat same-sex married couples the same as opposite-sex ones in terms of benefits from MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. MassHealth is federally funded, so the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevents it from recognizing same-sex spouses. The new bill would have the state pay the extra costs for whatever services same-sex couples would otherwise have received through MassHealth.
  • A group of same-sex couples in Minnesota are organizing a lawsuit similar to the one that legalized marriage equality in California.
  • A new labor pact between the City of Buffalo and AFSCME Local 650 includes domestic partner benefits for city employees who meet the qualifications of the insurance carrier. It also adds gender identity and expression to non-discrimination protections.
  • Sally Kern, the Oklahoma representative who made headlines earlier in the year for an anti-LGBT rant, was stopped from entering the state Capitol when a police officer found a loaded .380 caliber semiautomatic handgun in her purse. She has a permit for the weapon.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision striking down amendments to the state hate crime law that added sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, ancestry, and mental and physical disability to protected categories. The lower court ruled it invalid only because of the way it had been passed, tacked onto a nonrelated bill.

Around the world:

  • An Australian lesbian couple have lost a case against their obstetrician. The couple, who had twins after IVF, blamed the doctor for implanting two embryos instead of the requested one. (See my earlier post on the matter.)
  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has accepted the case of one gay man who fled to Turkey from Iran, but denied that of his partner. The men could be separated unless the partner wins an appeal.
  • CNN has a piece on the particular dangers faced by lesbians and gay men in Iraq.
  • SX has a feature on being gay and lesbian in Liberia.