Weekly Political Roundup

Flags

  • U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced a bill seeking to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The bill is co-sponsored by openly gay Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI.) and Jared Polis (D-CO), but not by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) , who says we should first focus on other LGBT rights bills: the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA); a bill to give equal benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, and a bill to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Frank also feels that because the bill says the federal government will recognize marriages that were valid in the state where they were entered into, not necessarily the same as the couple’s home state, the bill abandons the strategy of “dealing with marriage state by state” and has no chance of passage.
  • The Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, GLAD’s lawsuit challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. GLAD’s press release is here; Chris at Law Dork has more, and opines, “The DOJ’s Motion to Dismiss is measured in its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, which doubtless will leave some unsatisfied, but it is far closer to the type of brief I’d expect the DOJ to file these days than the Smelt brief, which everyone agrees went too far.”
  • President Obama nominated Chai Feldblum as a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Georgetown law professor is the first openly LGBT person nominated to the commission.
  • Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), who introduced a bill to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, says he said he expects the House to hold hearings on it in winter or spring of 2010.
  • Illinois State Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias (D) announced his support for LGBT rights including marriage equality and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the first major statewide candidate in Illinois to do so.
  • Indiana’s ban on marriage of same-sex couples is creating problems for residents who married elsewhere and now want to divorce. Their home state doesn’t recognize the marriage, and the jurisdiction where they wed may have residency requirements for divorce, as Larissa Chism and Tara Ranzy found out. The now-separated couple married in Toronto in 2005.
  • Poll numbers suggest the fight to preserve marriage equality in Maine is going to be very close indeed.
  • New Jersey governor Jon Corzine said he expected to sign marriage equality legislation “this year.”
  • In Tennessee, the Metro Nashville Council passed an ordinance prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in government employment.

Around the world:

  • The European Union adopted a resolution criticizing a recent Lithuanian law that prohibits any mention of homosexuality in schools or in media accessible by young people. How times change. I lived in the U.K. during the heyday of Section 28, the law that prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities, i.e., discussing it in schools or the like.
  • A new survey shows that a majority of Canadians, especially the young, support same-sex marriage. Seventy-three percent of those ages 18-34 support it, with only 7 percent opposed.
  • In the Aceh province of Indonesia, legislators voted that homosexuality would be be punishable by public lashings and more than eight years in prison, and adulterers can be sentenced to death by stoning. Amnesty International is calling for the law’s repeal.
  • A draft bill in Uganda adds to the country’s possible life sentence for those convicted of homosexuality by providing for the death penalty under specific circumstances, and imposing at least five years imprisonment (and no apparent maximum) for advocating on behalf of LGBT people.