Weekly Political Roundup

Flags

  • Some new guy moved into this house on Pennsylvania Avenue. . . . Says he wants to improve LGBT rights, education, healthcare, women’s rights, and strengthen families, not to mention fix the economy, protect the environment, and end the war in Iraq, among other things. Hope he still has time to read his girls a bedtime story now and again.
  • The prayer delivered by gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson just before the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial was not broadcast by HBO. The network says it wasn’t their fault; the Presidential Inauguration Committee says it wasn’t theirs. I’m inclined to believe it was a many-sided snafu. Hear Robinson’s own take on it at NPR, read his blog to learn about his thoughts about the Inauguration, or fall off your chair laughing when he shoots a zinger back to Jon Stewart.
  • Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, was elected president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, the second highest position on the Democratic National Committee. He thus displaces Andy Tobias, DNC treasurer, as the highest-ranking out DNC official.
  • Florida State Rep. Kelly Skidmore is sponsoring legislation to ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. She did so last year as well, but the bill stalled in the House, while a different one was approved by the Senate but failed to get LGBT-rights activists on board, because it lacked gender identity protections. (All together now: “Well, it’s a long, long journey to the capital city. It’s a long, long wait while I’m sitting in committee.”)
  • There is, however, a ray of hope in the Sunshine State: A new poll shows Florida voters oppose the ban on gay and lesbian people adopting children, 55 percent to 39 percent.
  • Commissioners in Hillsborough County, Florida voted against even studying the issue of providing health care benefits for domestic partners of county employees.
  • A state appeals panel ruled that New Orleans, Louisiana has the right to offer health benefits to domestic partners of city employees, against the arguments of a conservative Christian group that said the city violated the state constitution and public policies.
  • A midlevel appeals court upheld New York’s policy granting health benefits to same-sex spouses of state workers legally married outside the state.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand, who will take Hillary Clinton’s seat as the junior U.S. Senator from New York, has told the Empire State Pride Agenda that she supports marriage for same-sex couples. (Is it just me, or could Gillibrand be played by Laurel Holloman, aka Tina on The L Word?)
  • Sam Adams, the new, openly gay mayor of Portland, Oregon, admitted to having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old, a relationship he previously denied. Many are now calling for his resignation. Adams was 42 at the time. Jim at Box Turtle Bulletin points out the double standard in play here: Adams relationship was perfectly legal, whereas no one seemed to care when Jerry Seinfeld, at 38, began dating a 17-year-old. People also forgave Bill Clinton when he lied under oath about his affair. Matt at Interstate Q believes, however, that even though the relationship was technically legal, “This is a classic story of a respected man of power taking advantage of a young mentee’s naiveté and public, political inexperience. This is the reason why teachers are prohibited from having relationships with their of-age students.”
  • The Wyoming legislature will consider a bill to restrict marriage to one man and one woman.
  • A new statewide poll in Utah found that 63 percent of people support additional legal protections for LGBT people. Sixty-six percent of those surveyed characterized their religious beliefs as LDS.
  • 160 Members of the European Parliament, including all Labour and Liberal Democrat MEP’s, backed a written declaration on civil partnerships, but the measure did not attract enough support to be adopted as a resolution by the Parliament and forwarded to the Commission, Council and member state governments for consideration.
  • Roger Karoutchi, the French Secretary of State for Parliamentary Relations, has come out as gay in an interview just before the publication of his autobiography. This makes him the first openly gay minister in France, although the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, is out and a possible candidate for the presidency in 2012.
  • Legislation was presented to the Swedish parliament that, if adopted, may allow same-sex weddings in the Lutheran Church or in civil ceremonies starting in May.