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News items affecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals & transsexuals

2011-AUG (first half): Accelerating steps toward
equality etc., after DOMA decision in early 2011

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We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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See also the previous essay describing events during the second half of 2011-JULY

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Background:

The Obama administration announced on 2011-FEB-23 that it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. They cited an earlier decision in a Massachusetts federal court that found multiple reasons why the federal DOMA legislation violates the U.S. Constitution and is thus invalid.

Some commentators predicted that this decision will generate a tipping point that will lead to a more rapid decline in discrimination against sexual minorities in the U.S.

This prediction may be coming true. We have noticed an increase in events -- some important, some minor, some merely symbolic -- that indicate a gradual evaporation of animosity and homophobia against sexual minorities.

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Developments toward marital equality and a lessening of discrimination against sexual minorities:

  • 2011-AUG-01: Biracial same-sex marriage recorded: Andrew Sullivan, writing for The Daily Beast, commented "The tipping point has passed....A biracial same-sex marriage is duly recorded in South Carolina's paper, The State." 1,2 His very brief article has a link to Legacy.com. They pick up wedding announcements and obituaries from over a hundred newspapers across the U.S. and show them on their web site. The wedding announcement of William Hasty III & Gregory Smith who married recently in New York State was apparently picked up from The State -- the largest newspaper in South Carolina. The wedding was reported straight up, without even a whisper of racism or homophobia, just as if it were a marriage of a white man to a white woman. One strange thing: a search of The State's web site for either of the spouses' names turned up blank.

  • 2011-AUG-01: Religion Dispatches reported on Jay Bakker's speech at the Wild Goose Festival near Pittsboro, NC. He is the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the Praise the Lord TV program. The festival's purpose was to "... celebrate faith, justice, music, and the arts 'from a range of Christian perspectives and traditions' and offer welcome 'to all regardless of belief, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, denomination, or religious affiliation'."

    Bakker said that the "dirty little secret" about some powerful evangelical leaders is that they support full affirmation for LGBT people within the church but are unwilling to say so publicly for fear of losing book deals, financial support and other trappings of what former fundamentalist Frank Schaeffer calls the 'professional Christian.' Bakker asked:

    "Are we not supposed to sacrifice for each other? We are not talking about sex. We are talking about families and children. I wish pastors would not say they work on 'social justice' when they don’t mean it for everyone. The real challenge of the Bible is the question, 'Are you going to love your neighbor as yourself or not?' People will say, 'I work on poverty' or 'I work on war,' and these are terrible things, but we do not have to leave LGBTQ people out. What an amazing difference people can make by simply saying, 'I affirm you'." 3

  • 2011-AUG-05: Poll of Vermont voters shows strong support for SSM: A poll by Public Policy Polling showed that among Vermont voters:

    58% favor same-sex marriage being legal (Women were 64% in favor!; men 53%)

    When given three options:

    • 55% agreed that "Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry." (Women were 50% in favor; men 50%)
    • 24% agreed that "Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not marry." (Women 25%; men 24%)
    • 18% agreed that "There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship" (Women 13%; men 24%)
    • 3% did not reply or had no opinion.

    When asked whether "the legalization of gay marriage in Vermont had a positive or negative impact on your life, or has it not had any impact at all?


  • 2011-AUG-08: Ambassadors to the Czech Republic from 13 countries sign open letter: Ambassadors from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the U.S. signed an truly remarkable open letter to the government of the Czech Republic in support of Prague's first gay pride festival which opens on AUG-09. The letter expressed:

    "... solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the Czech Republic, supporting their right to use the occasion to march together peacefully and lawfully, in order to raise awareness of the specific issues that affect them. ... Everyone, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people should be free to enjoy the rights and freedoms to which people of all nations are entitled."

    Czech President, Vaclav Klaus was not pleased. With considerable justification, he called the petition an "unprecedented step." Bohuslave Svoboda, a member of the ruling conservative Civic Democratic Party and mayor of Prague had publicly indicated his support for the festival. Deputy chancellor Petr Hajek criticized the festival, saying it is "... a political demonstration ... of a world in which sexual or any other deviation becomes virtue." Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg indicated that nobody in the Czech Republic has denied or rejected gay rights, so for the ambassadors to express support was "counterproductive and redundant."

I wonder if any loving, committed same-sex couple in the Czech Republic has applied for a marriage license recently.

  • 2011-AUG-10: Poll of New York voters shows strong support for SSM, and for state senators who supported it: Pollsters at Marist College interviewed 660 New York State adults between 2011-JUL-28 and 31. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points for general questions and ±4.5 percentage points on responses from registered voters. Some of the results were:

    • 70% would attend if invited a same-sex marriage.
    • 55% support SSM; 36% oppose it; 9% did not answer or had no opinion. This agrees closely with various national polls taken during 2011.
    • On the subject of the public voting for senators:
    • 44% are more likely to vote for a state senator who voted to pass the Marriage Equality Act; 30% are less likely.

    Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff said: "It doesn't look at this point that it's going to be a major liability for individual senators."More details 6

    In addition, when asked whether they want to keep the Marriage Equality Act on the books the results were about 2 to 1 in favor:
    • 63% of state residents do not want to see the law overturned.
    • 32% would like to see the law repealed.
    • 5% that are unsure or didn't reply.

    In addition:

    • 72% of Democrats and
    • 66% of Independents and
    • 47% of Republicans are in favor of maintaining the law; 48% of Republicans favor overturning it. 7

  • 2011-AUG-12: Human Rights Campaign (HRC) bus tour begins: The HRC plans to start a bus tour through 11 of the most homophobic states in the U.S. It will begin in Salt Lake City, pass through Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama. It will end in Orlando, FL on OCT-30. None of these states recognize of same-sex relationships and no state anti-discrimination laws exist to protect LGBTs. HRC president, Joe Solmonese, said that the LGBT communities "... continue to face tremendous obstacles. ... The bus tour intends to draw attention to these challenges and ensure that this rising tide lifts all boats."

    Jerry Cox, head of the Arkansas Family Council, referring to the first SSMs in New York State, said: "I don't believe it's a shot across the bow. I would say it's an indication of how out of step New York is with the rest of the country." 4

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See also events during the second half of 2011-AUG

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Andrew Sullivan, "The Tipping Point has passed..." The Dish, The Daily Beast, 2011-AUG-01, at: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/
  2. "Wedding Announcement: William Hasty III & Gregory Smith," The State, 2011-JUL-31, at: http://www.legacy.com
  3. Kristin Rawls, "Wild Goose Festival's (mostly) welcoming spirit for LGBT Christians," Religion Dispatches, 2011-AUG-01, at: http://www.religiondispatches.org/
  4. "Most states likely to spurn gay-marriage bandwagon," ABC News, 2011-JUL-25, at: http://www.abc12.com/
  5. "Vermont supports gay marriage, single-payer health care," Public Policy Polling, 2011-AUG-05, at: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/ This is a PDF file.
  6. Michael Herzenberg, "NY1 Exclusive: Majority in poll back Marriage Equality, senators who support it," NY1, 2011-AUG-10, at: http://www.ny1.com/
  7. Julie Bolcer, "Poll: New Yorkers Pleased With Marriage Equality Law," The Advocate, 2011-AUG-11, at: http://www.advocate.com/

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-AUG-19
Author: B.A. Robinson
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