News re: gays, lesbians, bisexuals & transgender persons (LGBT)
2012-MAR: Accelerating steps toward
same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
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.
See also the previous essay describing events during 2012-FEB
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.
Developments toward marital equality and a lessening of discrimination against sexual minorities:
2012-MAR-01: MD: Same-sex marriage bill becomes law: Governor Martin O'Malley signed the bill into law in the State House in Annapolis, MD. This makes Maryland the ninth jurisdiction in the U.S. to legalize SSM, including: the District of Columbia and eight states. The bill only comes into effect on 2013-JAN-01, and then only if an expected referendum is rejected by the voters on election day in 2012.
2 The Governor said at the time of signing:
"For a free and diverse people, for a people of many faiths, for a people committed to the principle of religious freedom, the way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights of all, for the human dignity of all. Religious freedom was the very reason for our state’s founding, and at the heart of religious freedom is the freedom of individual conscience. If there is a thread that unites all of our work here together, it is the thread of human dignity, the dignity of work, the dignity of a job, the dignity of every child’s home, the dignity of every individual." More details.
2012-MAR-01: NJ: Quinnipiac poll report shows surge in support for SSM: Their latest survey shows support of SSM in New Jersey to be at an all-time high: 57% support vs. 37% opposition for a margin of 20 percentage points -- the second largest margin we have seen among states without SSM. New Jersey's margin is exceeded only by California's current 25 percentage points. The most surprising polling result to us was that voters support holding a referendum on election day in 2012-NOV, as suggested by Governor Christie after he vetoed the bill. Support for the referendum was 67%; opposition 28%. This may represent disillusionment with the political process. 1 More details.
2012-MAR-02: TN: Anti-LGBT school principal resigns: Principal Dorthy Bond allegedly told LGB students that they are going to hell and allegedly said that any PDA (public display of affection) by a same-sex couple would result in a 60 day suspension from school, transfer to an alternate school, or expulsion. Several students complained to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU sent a letter to the school superintendent. When the smoke cleared, Bond had resigned, and the board had issued a statement:
"The Haywood County Board of Education acknowledges its student body's right to free speech. Further, the Haywood County Board of Education strives to provide an atmosphere of tolerance and diversity while maintaining high academic standards." 2
2012-MAR-04: CA: West Coast premiere of Prop. 8 play: Dustin Lance Black's play "8" is presented by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact. It is based on Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a lawsuit sponsored by AFER which is attempting to overturn the California citizen initiative Proposition 8. Prop 8 narrowly passed in 2008 and made same-sex marriage unavailable in the state. As a result of this lawsuit, Prop. 8 has been declared unconstitutional by both a federal District Court and a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The play was first shown in New York City during 2011-SEP. It featured Morgan Freeman, Rob Reiner, Marisa Tomei, and others. It has since been shown in a number of U.S. cities and was shown in Los Angeles on MAR-04, where it starred George Clooney, Martin Sheen, and Brad Pitt. It was live-streamed on YouTube. 3
2012-MAR-15: NH: House overwhelmingly rejects "freedom to discriminate" bill:
We found the rejection of this bill to be the most encouraging news affecting LGBTs in a long time. The bill would have given immunity to business owners and individuals who were motivated by their religious or moral beliefs to discriminate by refusing accommodations and services to any marrying couple. They would have been able to discriminate against any couple whose gender makeup, religious beliefs, race, or any other factor offended any person or any company involved in providing goods and services to marrying couples. This would have permitted any form of discrimination in hall rentals, wedding dress suppliers, jewelers, wedding cake bakers, wedding photographers, etc. The bill was aimed at people and companies who wanted to denigrate, exclude, and discriminate against loving committed same-sex couples. But it was so sloppily written that it would have allowed discrimination against inter-racial couples; Jewish couples; Atheist, Agnostic, or secular couples; couples from a different denomination; couples who were judged to be too young or immature to be married; infertile couples who could not have children; couples who planned to use birth control to limit, space, or prevent children being conceived. In fact, any form of discrimination would be allowed, and those doing the discriminating would be immune from prosecution under human rights legislation. It would be "open season" on any couple getting married.
The House voted 246 to 85 to resoundingly defeat this "freedom to discriminate" bill. If it had become law, New Hampshire would no longer be regarded as the "Live free or die" state, but as the "Religious freedom to hate, denigrate and oppress" state. For once, in this politically crazy year where one state, Texas, in its War on Women legalized mandatory rape of pregnant women and both Virginia and Iowa are considering such laws, a tiny bit of sanity prevailed. More details.
2012-MAR-16: UT: Governor vetos anti-gay bill: Governor Gary Herbert vetoed bill HB363 that would have banned any discussion of homosexuality in the state's public schools, even if a student specifically asked a teacher for information. It would also have restricted sex-ed classes to the teaching of abstinence only.
2012-MAR-21: NH: House overwhelmingly rejects a bill to terminate SSMs: House Bill 437 was killed by the Republican-dominated House, by an almost 2:1 majority. The vote was 211 to reject the bill, 116 to pass it. I repeat, this is a Republican controlled legislative body! If passed, it would have been vetoed by the Governor. Many commentators were debating whether both the House and Senate would be able to override the governor's veto with a two-thirds vote. Few if any expected the bill to be voted down.
If it had became law, it would have terminated new same-sex marriages in the state, effective 2013-MAR. Loving, committed couples after that date would only have been permitted to enter into civil unions. More details.
2012-MAR-23: Queensland, Australia: "Gay the pray away" demonstration: A prayer rally was held in Brisbane, which is the capital of Queensland with a population of about 2 million. It was organized to pray that the Labor Party would be voted out of office because of their legislation to make civil unions available to loving committed same-sex couples in the state. It went terrible wrong. It only attracted 12 people. Then the infamous "hate truck" arrived. This is a vehicle on tour that promotes a "Stand4Marriage" message. Its goal is to have the government recognize same-sex couples only as roommates. It is plastered with religiously-motivated anti LGBT/anti-marriage equality signs. Then 500 pro-marriage equality supporters arrived to "gay the pray away." (This is an inversion of the common phrase to "pray the gay away" commonly used largely by conservative Christians who believe that persons with a homosexual orientation can become heterosexual through prayer.) The 12 prayer attendees retreated to an upper balcony where they were protected by 14 police. 4
2012-MAR-26: Department of Homeland Security modifies customs forms: The existing form specifies that only one need be filled out per family. But when a family led by or consisting of a same-sex couple arrived at a U.S. border, they were required to fill out two forms. This is being changed. Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality -- a group promoting equal rights for LGBTs -- said:
"Immigration Equality is proud to see this change come to fruition. We asked the Obama administration to stop discriminating against families on federal customs forms, and today‚s announcement is welcome news. Separating families in the customs line was a waste of government resources and a painful symbol of the double standard LGBT families face at the federal level. This proposal ends that insult. It sends an unmistakable message that the Administration, and the United States, recognize gay families as ‚real families,‚ too. We thank our coalition partners, especially Family Equality Council, for their part in this victory." 5
2012-MAR-31: Starbucks boycott: Starbucks' head office is located in Washington state. Along with other major employers in that state, they sent a letter to the government supporting marriage equality. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) -- a group whose main function is to prevent loving committed same-sex couples from marrying, has organized a boycott of Starbucks. See: http://www.dumpstarbucks.com/ Their petition says:
The web site http://sumofus.org/ organized a counter petition. As of the end of March, about 25,000 members pledged to boycott Starbucks, while over 100,000 people have signed SumOfUs' petition. The latter's goal is 500,000 signatures.
"To the CEO and Board of Directors of Starbucks:
I am deeply offended by your corporate position to support same-sex marriage and your decision to wage a culture war against the moral views of half your US customers and the vast majority of your international consumers. Starbucks is using its resources to invalidate traditional marriage in the US and redefine the institution of marriage despite the strongly held views of so many of its customers, including me. Therefore, I will no longer purchase anything from Starbucks until you change your corporate values to be more reflective of my own."
By APR-03, "... more than 630,000 members of SumOfUs.org, MoveOn.org and Washington United for Marriage had signed a massive 'Thank You' card to Starbucks." This outnumbers the people who have promised to dump Starbucks by more than 20 to 1. 6
A giant card, which was selected by SumOfUs.org members, was delivered to the Starbucks' headquarters on APR-04.
seems to be gradually approaching accuracy in their pronouncements. In the past, they had been claiming that most Americans opposed marriage equality. Now, in their boycott petition, they claim that only half of Starbuck's U.S. customers oppose SSM.
These information sources were used to prepare & update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"New Jersey Same-Sex Marriage Support At New High, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Back Holding Referendum More Than 2-1," Quinnipiac University, 2012-MAR-01, at: http://www.quinnipiac.edu/
Stoyan Zaimov, "Tenn. Principal Allegedly Tells Gay Students They're Going to Hell, Resigns," Christian Post, 2-12-MAR-02, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
Gazelle Emami, "Brad Pitt Joins '8,' Dustin Lance Black's Prop. 8 Play," Huffington Post, 2012-MAR-01, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
"Protesters gay the pray away," Star Online, 2012-MAR-23, at: http://www.starobserver.com.au/
Steve Ralls, "Proposed Revisions to U.S. Customs Forms Would Recognize Lesbian and Gay Families," Press Release, Immigration Equality, 2012-MAR-26, at: http://www.immigrationequality.org/
"Over 630,000 Thank Starbucks for Supporting Marriage Equality," 2012-APR-03, at: http://sumofus.org/
Bob Bernick, "Utah Sex Education Bill To Teach Abstinence-Only Vetoed By Governor," Huffington Post, 2012-MAR-16, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
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Copyright ¬© 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2012-NOV-12
Author: B.A. Robinson