Weekly Political Roundup

FlagsYee hah. Another huge week in LGBT political news.

  • Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The suit claims that DOMA “unfairly excludes more than 16,000 Massachusetts married same-sex couples and their families from critically important rights and protections based on marital status” and “violates the United States Constitution by interfering with the Commonwealth’s sovereign authority to define and regulate the marital status of its residents.” From where I sit, this is a kickass way of turning around the argument that marriage should be left to the states and the federal government should stay out of it. I’m no constitutional lawyer, however, and look forward to seeing the legal analysis on this one.
  • The House subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia held a hearing on the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act, which would give same-sex domestic partners of federal employees access to health insurance, retirement, and disability benefits.
  • Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) became the lead sponsor on the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Murphy is a former paratrooper and captain in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Visit his new Web site, LetThemServe.com, for updates on the bill.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice said it will not appeal the decision of a federal district court that said Library of Congress officials violated federal sex discrimination law when they withdrew a job offer from a transgender woman because she was transitioning.
  • Despite reversing its initial position and saying it would count the number of married same-sex couples instead of counting them as unmarried partners, the Census Bureau says it may have some technical problems doing so.
  • California State Sen. Mark Leno (D) introduced a bill to give all the rights and obligations of marriage to same-sex couples who have married elsewhere since Prop 8 was enacted, except for the designation “marriage.”
  • The American Foundation for Equal Rights, which has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn California’s Prop 8, has rejected a request from the ACLU, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights to represent gay community groups in the proceedings. The organizations initially opposed the suit (a matter of tactics, not goal), but then submitted papers in support of it. Law Dork has more.
  • The ultra-conservative Stand for Marriage Maine coalition says it has collected enough signatures to stop marriage equality from becoming law in September as planned, and to force a statewide vote in November.
  • Massachusetts State Senator Stanley Rosenberg came out as gay.
  • Although the New York State Senate has finally broken the stalemate that has held up legislation over the past few weeks, the passage of marriage equality legislation this session looks doubtful.
  • Washington, D.C. began recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states, although it does not issue such marriage licenses itself.

Around the world:

  • The Times of India said the Delhi High Court ruling that struck down the criminalization of homosexuality is binding nationwide. The Supreme Court then agreed to hear a petition from a Hindu astrologer seeking to annul the ruling, but also asked the Indian government and gay rights group the Naz Foundation to present their views. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has also filed a challenge to the ruling.
  • Manohar Elavarthi wants to be the first openly gay man elected to a major political office in India. Already, he is seen as “the first gay figure in India to build a mainstream political coalition across a wide spectrum of historically marginalized groups.” (Via Hunter of Justice.)
  • The U.K. House of Lords voted to keep a “free speech” amendment in an anti-hate crimes bill. The amendment allows “discussion or criticism” of sexual practices.