Weekly Political Roundup

Flags

  • Bay Windows has more on GLAD’s DOMA challenge, the likely response from the Obama administration, and reactions from the LGBT community around the country.
  • In two separate rulings, the federal appeals court in California said that employees of their court were entitled to health benefits for their same-sex partners under the benefits program for federal workers. The federal Office of Personnel Management has instructed insurers not to provide the benefits, however, citing DOMA. The new head of OPM, though, is John Berry, who is gay. It is unclear how the Obama administration will respond.
  • President Obama announced the formation of the White House Council On Women And Girls. Good news in and of itself. Even better when you consider that one representative invited to the kickoff ceremony was Mara Keisling of the National Center For Transgender Equality (NCTE).
  • President Obama appointed lesbian Campbell Spencer as a regional director in the White House Office of Political Affairs.
  • The military fired 11 soldiers in January under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
  • MassEquality executive director Marc Solomon, who helped lead the effort to preserve marriage equality in Massachusetts, is heading west to lead Equality California’s (EQCA) effort to restore marriage equality in the Golden State. As long as he remains a Sox fan, I’m OK with that.
  • The LA Times reports on the “minority within a minority” that would be created if the California Supreme Court upholds Prop 8 but allows existing married same-sex couples to remain married.
  • Lawyer Nan Hunter reflects on a possible very interesting outcome for California’s Prop 8 ruling: “The court has the opening to do something bolder and certainly more interesting than ruling that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry. The court could rule that California has to come up with some other label and treat both heterosexual and same-sex couples the same. In other words, the official label for the legal status must be the same for everyone, whatever that label is.”
  • On a related note, for all you legal wonks out there, constitutional law professor Tobias Wolff weighs in on Prop 8, saying “There is no principled way to accept Starr’s position and uphold Proposition 8 without paving the way for any protected minority to have its fundamental rights taken away whenever a bare majority wishes to do so.”
  • Connecticut legislators are considering a bill to update state law to reflect the court ruling that permits marriage of same-sex couples. It would remove gender references in current state laws, transform same-sex civil unions into legal marriages as of October 2010, and remove language from anti-discrimination law that says Connecticut does not condone gay marriage and will not set quotas for hiring gay workers or encourage teaching in school about “same-sex lifestyles.”
  • Openly gay Anthony Niedwiecki, husband of Bilerico blogger Waymon Hudson, was elected to the City Commission in Oakland Park, Florida. As the top vote getter in the three open seats, Anthony will become Vice Mayor in 2010 and Mayor of the city in 2011.
  • I’ve been mostly ignoring the gossip surrounding “octomom” Nadya Suleman until now. Turn out, though, that her example has led Georgia state Sen. Ralph Hudgens (R) to introduce legislation that would restrict certain types of fertility procedures and “eliminate cloning, stem cell research, the entire industry of sperm and egg donation, and substantially limit options for lesbian and gay people to become parents,” according to SoVo.
  • A bill to make marriage gender neutral in Iowa will not be taken up by lawmakers this session.
  • More than 60 legislators from both parties have signed on to co-sponsor a bill to legalize marriage for same-sex couples in Maine.
  • The Maryland House Judiciary Committee held hearings on a bill to legalize marriage for same-sex couples, and an opposing one to forbid it.
  • The North Dakota House Human Services Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday on legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, credit, insurance, public accommodations and services.
  • The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee voted to approve a bill that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals. This is the first time such a bill has passed out of committee.
  • Vermont Gov. James Douglas says the state’s civil union law is enough for same-sex couples, and that he believes marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman. Would he veto the marriage bill now in the legislature? It’s unclear, but if he does, he’d be foregoing the $31 million in new spending and $3.3 million in taxes over three years that marriage equality could bring to the state.
  • The Washington state Senate passed a bill that would give same-sex couples identical benefits to those of married couples, except for the name marriage. It is expected that the House will approve it and Gov. Chris Gregoire will sign.

Around the world:

  • LGBT activists in Nigeria asked the national assembly to rescind a proposed law that would criminalize gay relationships as well as those who “aid and abet” marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. Participating in such ceremonies would lead to five years in prison. Any two gay people who live together would be subject to three years in prison.
  • Pinknews.co.uk put out its list of “The 50 Most Powerful LGB People in British Politics.” Eight are women. Are there really no transgender people in British politics? I thought the mayor of Cambridge was trans.
  • Ultra-conservative Family Life Network leader Stephen Langa held a conference in Uganda and announced that homosexuals are recruiting and molesting school children throughout the country. He called for an “urgent” meeting with parents on March 15. Among the conference participants were members of ex-gay organization Exodus International.