Weekly Political Roundup

Flags

  • During the 1996 Illinois Senate race, Barack Obama asserted, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” a distinct change from his current position.
  • The Washington Blade reports that three more openly LGBT people will serve in the Obama administration, David Medina, as deputy chief of staff for Michelle Obama, Dave Noble, as the White House’s liaison to NASA, and Karine Jean-Pierre, as White House liaison to the Department of Labor.
  • John Berry, the openly gay current director of the National Zoo, will serve as director of the Office of Personnel Management. This would seem to imply that managing federal workers is akin to managing monkeys and alligators—but it also makes Berry the highest openly gay official in the federal government.
  • Mary Frances Berry, the chairwoman of the Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004, has called for the Commission to be disbanded and replaced by a new body “that would address the rights of many groups, including gays.”
  • A new study (PDF) by the group Freedom to Marry shows that voting to support marriage equality and opposing anti-marriage measures helps rather than hurts politicians.
  • The ACLU has suspended its efforts to delay implementation of the new Arkansas law that bans unmarried cohabiting couples from fostering or adopting children. The ACLU had sought to block the law until a case involving a lesbian woman who wants to adopt her granddaughter (now in foster care with another family), could be heard. The state said, however, that the new law wouldn’t apply unless the state attempts to terminate parental rights to the child, which hasn’t happened yet.
  • Forty bar associations and legal groups across the country have filed briefs with the California Supreme Court to invalidate California’s Proposition 8. They were joined by women’s rights groups, religious organizations, civil rights groups, and labor unions, California municipal governments, and children’s welfare organizations.
  • Maine Sen. Dennis S. Damon (D-Trenton), is submitting legislation to repeal the state Defense of Marriage Act and allow same-sex couples to marry.
  • Six weeks after passing an ordinance banning discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, city commissioners in Kalamazoo, Michigan, have voted to repeal it, in an attempt to halt a move by a conservative group to force the issue onto the ballot.
  • Transgender activist Laura Calvo was named the Oregon Democratic Party’s new Treasurer, making her one of few openly LGBT statewide political party officers in the country.

Around the world:

  • A lesbian couple held the first same-sex civil union in the borough of Milpa Alta, Mexico “a singularly indigenous and religious area.” Their four-year-old son accompanied them.
  • Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin reminds us that on January 1, Norway became the sixth nation to legalize marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. (Before you click the link: Can you name them all?)
  • A group of gay rights advocates is petitioning the Scottish Parliament to allow same-sex couples to marry.