Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
2012-AUG: 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-JUL
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, animus, and homophobia against sexual minorities. The events of 20-12-MAY were particularly momentous.
Developments toward marital equality and a lessening of discrimination against sexual minorities:
2012-AUG: Exact date unknown. Springfield City, MO: Rev. Paul Snider of the Brentwood Christian Church addressed city council at a public meeting to discuss adding sexual orientatation and gender identity to the existing city nondiscrimination ordinance. He started out with a fear-based attack on the LGBT community typical of those often seen from conservative Christians. He said that if the measure were passed, council would invite the judgement of God on the city. But then he stumbles in his presentation and finishes with an interesting twist.
This video went viral later in October.
Not to be missed!
2012-AUG-03: Department of Homeland Security officials announce change in policy: Same-sex relationships with an American citizen will be considered in cases where a foreigner is being considered for deportation. However, they will follow the federal DOMA law and not automatically shelve deportation cases or process green card applications involving foreign citizens who are married to same-sex partners.
The Associated Press stated:
"The federal government last year began reviewing deportation cases to determine which ones should be top priority and which ones might be shelved. Government attorneys weigh factors such as a person's criminal record, family ties and community relations in making their decisions." 1
2012-AUG-03: Federal bill passed to restrict funeral protests: Congress has passed a bill to restrict protests at military funerals. It is called "The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012." It is obviously aimed at restricting the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) who frequently hold demonstrations to disrupt military funerals. They claim that God kills American soldiers as an act of vengeance for the tolerance and acceptance in the U.S. towards persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. The Church has been described as a "homophobic and anti-Semitic hate group" by the Anti-Defamation League. The law states that no demonstrators will be allowed to picket from two hours before a funeral to two hours after. Also, they must keep at least 300 feet away from grieving family members. If President Obama signs the bill into law, its constitutionality is in doubt because it may be interpreted as violating the freedom of speech component of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. 2
Many counter-demonstrations have been organized across the U.S. at military funerals to shield family members from WBC demonstrations. Earlier, on JUL-6, hundreds of Texas A&M students formed a silent "maroon wall" to counter an expected demonstration by the Westboro Baptist Church at a funeral of Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale. Ryan Slezia, a former Texas A&M student, organized students and alumni who surrounded the entrance to the Central Baptist Church in College Station, TX. He wrote on his Facebook page:
"In response to their signs of hate, we will wear maroon. In response to their mob anger, we will form a line, arm in arm. This is a silent vigil. A manifestation of our solidarity."
The Westboro Baptist Church members were apparently intimidated by the counter-demonstration; they didn't show up. 3
2012-AUG-10: USA: Tentative wording of marriage plank in Democratic platform: According to the Family Research Council, the current wording of the marriage equality section of the proposed 2012 platform is:
"We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples."
The statement does appear to have a bit of wiggle room, because "equal treatment under the law" often excludes what is to many same-sex couples the most important right of all: the right to have their relationship recognized as a marriage.
The statement also allegedly includes protections for religious groups who want to continue discriminating against same-sex couples by highlighting:
"... the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference." 4
2012-AUG-11: Democratic Party platform subcommittee supports SSM: A subcommittee of the main committee had met in Minneapolis in late 2012-JUL, and recommended that three items be included in the 2012 platform:
The Democratic Party endorses SSM.
Support for the repeal of of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legally solemnized by state governments.
Support for the right of individual faith groups to decide whether to marry same-sex couples or not, without government interference.
the Enda bill to eliminate employment discrimination against LGBT persons.
The subcommittee had allegedly recommended the following language:
"We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference."
"We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act."
"We know that putting America back to work is job one, and we are committed to ensuring Americans do not face employment discrimination. We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity."
"President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to ensuring all Americans are treated fairly. This administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and we must continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth. The President’s record, from ending 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' in full cooperation with our military leadership, to passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to ensuring same-sex couples can visit each other in the hospital, reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to pursue happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love." 1More details
2012-AUG-14: Uganda: First ever gay pride parade: Talk about guts! Religion Dispatches had an article that quoted Abdoulaye Bah as writing:
"In spite of widespread homophobia on the part Ugandan politicians and the public, the event was reportedly well attended. Ugandan police raided the event and detained LGBT activists who were later released." 5
2012-AUG-14: USA: FRC Action complains that GOP platform survey silent on same-sex marriage: Tom McClusky, senior vice president of FRC Action -- the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council -- sent a "please send money" email complaining that the Republican National Committee is conducted a survey "... to fill out on the issues of the day. Missing from the survey were questions on marriage. Nothing..... Not one question."6
2012-AUG-17: United Church of Canada elects a gay moderator:
The Rev. Dr. Gary Paterson (1949-) has been a UCC minister for over 35 years. He describes himself as a "passionate preacher" and a "closet poet." He is also openly either bisexual or gay. He is married to the Rev. Tim Stevenson, Vancouver BC city councilor, who has been his partner for 30 years. At the UCC's 41st General Council meeting in Ottawa, ON, he was elected Moderator of the UCC from a roster of 15 candidates on the sixth ballot. The United Church of Canada is Canada's largest Protestant denomination. 7
2012-AUG-24: Parents of Tyler Clemente left their evangelical church: Tyler was the gay Rutgers University student who committed suicide on 2010-SEP-23 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. His decision to end his life apparently followed his learning that a sexual encounter with another man had been recorded on video and been made public. He had came out to his parents a few weeks before. He told a friend that his father had been "very accepting" but that "Mom has basically completely rejected me." His mother recalls their conversation as much more positive.
Kate Zernike wrote in the New York Times:
"In the months after Tyler’s death, some of Ms. Clementi’s friends confided that they, too, had gay children. She blames religion for the shame surrounding it — in the conversation about coming out, Tyler told his mother he did not think he could be Christian and gay.
'I think some people think that sexual orientation can be changed or prayed over,' she said now, in her kitchen. 'But I know sexual orientation is not up for negotiation. I don’t think my children need to be changed. I think that what needed changing is attitudes, or myself, or maybe some other people I know.'
She decided she could no longer attend her church, because doing so would suggest she supported its teachings against homosexuality. And she took strength from reading the Bible as she reconsidered her views.
'At this point I think Jesus is more about reconciliation and love,' she said. 'He spoke more about divorce than homosexuality, but you can be divorced and join a church more than you can be gay and join churches'." 9
2012-AUG-29: Pilot episode of "The New Normal" tv sitcom broadcast: This is the first episode of a comedy series focusing on two gay men, and a surrogate mother who is pregnant with their child. 10