Weekly Political Roundup

FlagsMostly good news this week, huzzah!

First, one that didn’t make it into this week’s LGBT Parenting Roundup, but which is excellent news for LGBT families: Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) reintroduced the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) into the U.S. House, adding important updates that would provide paid leave for all workers to care for their families, including lesbian- and gay-headed families.

[Update: 5:20 ET] Breaking news: Kentucky Senate Bill 68, which would prohibit adoption or foster parenting by any person “cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage that is valid in Kentucky,” died in the legislature. W00t! (And given that becoming a parent severely curtails one’s sex life, I’m not sure what the point was there in any case.)

  • President Obama appointed Emily C. Hewitt, 64, a prominent lesbian attorney and ordained Episcopal priest, as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. From the Court’s very own Web site: “Chief Judge Hewitt is married to Eleanor Dean Acheson.” Awesome.
  • Ever want to know the salaries of the heads of major LGBT organizations? The Washington Blade tells us. Pam has some useful comments about how to interpret the information.
  • Sixty-seven California legislators score 100% on the Equality California (EQCA) scorecard of support for LGBT rights. The anti-LGBT Capitol Resource Institute gives a 100% rating to only 18 legislators.
  • Still, Kate Kendell, director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said she expects a decision on Prop 8 to come in late April or early May, but “We’re going to lose.” Realistic assessment, or is she underpromising so she can overdeliver?
  • The Delaware state Senate defeated a constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples and the state House passed a bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • A proposed amendment in Gainesville, Florida that would have repealed many antidiscrimination protections for LGBT residents, failed at the polls.
  • A motion to pull the Hawaii civil unions bill from the deadlocked Senate Judiciary Committee failed, effectively killing the measure. The legislation passed the House of Representatives in February.
  • Kansas State Senator (and lesbian mom) Jolie Justus (D) says her resolution honoring the Heartland Men’s Chorus has been rejected by the Senate leader because it mentions gay men and fighting homophobia. Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields said he couldn’t sign the document because some senators might find it too controversial. Rather than change the wording, Justus is presenting it as a certificate from her office, not the whole Senate.
  • The New Hampshire House voted in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. The bill now goes to the Senate.
  • On the down side, the New Hampshire House killed legislation that would have offered legal protections to transgender individuals. Opponents argued that it would lead to transgender individuals being able to use any bathroom. (To which I respond with a hearty “So what if it did?” and ask, “How many sex predators are transgender, versus heterosexual, cis men?”)
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he is ready to ask the Legislature to allow same-sex couples to marry in New York State. He was iffy on the timeframe, however. (And wields no official power over the Legislature, I might add. A nice donation from his billions to the Empire State Pride Agenda might help, though.)
  • The Vermont state Senate approved a bill to legalize marriage of same-sex couples. The House is expected to follow suit sometime in the next week or so, but Gov. Jim Douglas (R) said he would veto it. It is possible that a strong majority in the Legislature could still push the bill into law.

Around the world:

  • The Australian government announced changes to the Immigration Act so that same-sex couples will receive the same treatment as opposite-sex de facto couples. Same-sex couples will now be eligible for a greater range of visas, as well as citizenship provisions.
  • The Japanese government will now issue both same- and opposite-sex couples the certificate needed by citizens who wish to travel abroad to marry.
  • Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin keeps us updated on anti-gay vigilantes in Uganda.
  • Despite rumors that Venezuela would soon recognize same-sex unions, Family, Women and Youth Commission chair Marelys Pérez has denied this will happen.
  • Same-sex couples in the U.K. may now have civil partnership ceremonies at the Castle of Mey, formerly owned by the Queen Mother, after the Castle’s trust reversed its position.