Weekly Political Roundup

Flags

  • Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced a plan for making enforcement of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “more humane and fair.” Servicemembers will no longer be dismissed if they are involuntarily outed by a third party.
  • Three—count ‘em, three—U.S. representatives have introduced separate bills in the past week designed to protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing. Here’s my piece for Keen News Service on the matter.
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a bill to ensure that domestic partners currently covered by employer health plans have access to COBRA benefits—employer-provided health insurance for a limited period after leaving a job or other qualifying event.
  • Midge Costanza, the first woman to hold the office of Assistant to the President of the United States (to President Carter), died this week. In 1977, she invited openly gay people to the White House for the first time. Karen Ocamb has a profile with more about this pioneering woman.
  • A committee of the Florida Senate held a workshop on the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which would
    add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the state’s existing civil rights codes.
  • Rachel Maddow is not running against Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown when he comes up for reelection, despite the rumors he’s spread to the contrary.
  • The U.S. Senate voted against an amendment to the health care reform bill that would force Washington, D.C. to hold a referendum on the District’s marriage equality law.

Around the world:

  • The age of sexual consent for gay men in Guernsey will be lowered to 16 years old, making it equal to the age for opposite-sex couples. (No one seems to be including information on the age of consent between two women.) Gay rights activists are also pushing for the government to recognize same-sex civil partnerships.
  • Italy’s Constitutional Court postponed a decision on marriage equality until mid April.
  • It is now a criminal offense in the U.K. to use threatening behavior or materials intended to stir up hatred against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.
  • Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says gay rights will not be protected under the new constitution being drafted. Not surprising, given that homosexuality is illegal there.