News items affecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals & transsexuals
2009-April, May, June
In the following, "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage."
See also events in 2009-April, May
and June that demonstrate a
shift towards acceptance of sexual minorities.
News during 2009-APR:
|2009-APR-02: Sweden legalizes same-sex marriage (SSM): Only one of
seven political parties in Sweden -- the Christian Democrats -- voted against
recognizing SSM. The bill passed 261 to 22. Same-sex couples will be able to
obtain marriage licenses on 2009-MAY-01. Sweden becomes the fifth country
in Europe to permit SSM, and the seventh in the world. 1 More
||2009-APR-03: IA: Unanimous decision of the state supreme court
legalizes SSM: In the case of Varnum vs.
same-sex couples challenged the 1998 Iowa marriage law which limits marriage
to one man and one woman. The Iowa Supreme Court delivered a unanimous
verdict, ruling that the 1998 law limiting marriage to one man and one woman
conflicted with the equal protection clause in the state constitution that
requires people -- and thus couples -- to be treated equally. Since the constitution trumps a piece
of legislation, they ruled that SSM is legal in the state.
More details prior to the ruling and
|2009-APR-03: VT: Legislature activity to legalize SSM: The Senate
overwhelmingly passed a bill to produce marriage equality in Vermont with a
vote of 26 to 4 on 2009-MAR-25. The house passed the bill on APR-02, with a
vote of 95 to 52 after an intense four hour debate. This is five "yes" votes
short of the number required to overturn the expected governor's veto. Such a veto could be overturned by the state legislature if there is a 2/3
majority in favor of the bill in both the House and Senate.
2009-APR-04: USA: Hate crimes legislation introduced in
federal House: According to the Task Force Action Fund, a pro-gay advocacy
group, hate crimes legislation that has been before Congress many times, has
been reintroduced. It has consistently failed in the past. However, this time,
with the Democrats in control, it might succeed. More
information about past hate-crimes legislation.
2009-APR-06: USA: Pastor Rick Warren apologized for his
support of Prop 8: Warren is one of best know evangelical leaders in the
U.S. Prop 8 passed with such a small margin that it might well have been
rejected if Warren had actively campaigned against it. On CNN's Larry King Live program, he
said the he had written "... to all my gay friends -- the leaders that I knew --
and actually apologized to them." More details.
2009-APR-07: MD: Inheritance rights for same-sex couples:
As the laws now stand, when one spouse of a married couple dies,
the surviving spouse automatically inherits the house without paying an
inheritance tax. When one domestic partner of a same-sex couple dies, the
surviving partner is considered a roommate for the purpose of taxation; she or
he must pay inheritance tax. The Maryland Senate voted 28 to 19 today to pass
SB 785, a bill which would eliminate the inheritance tax on jointly owned
primary homes of same-sex domestic partners. Only one senator, Alex Mooney (R-
Frederick County) spoke in opposition to the legislation. The corresponding
House bill is HP 1215. 2
2009-APR-07: VT: Vermont becomes
the fourth state to legalize SSM: The Vermont House and Senate comfortably
passed a bill expanding the definition of marriage in the state to include all
loving committed couples, whether opposite sex or same-sex. But Governor
Jim Douglas, a Republican,
vetoed the bill on APR-06. The Senate and House then voted to override the
veto. There was no problem with a Senate override. However, the House vote on
APR-07 was a squeaker: 100 to 49 in favor of a legislative override -- the
absolute minimum required.
Vermont thus became the fifth state in the U.S. to make same-sex
marriage available -- the others being California, Connecticut, Massachusetts
and Iowa. (SSM in California has since been at least temporarily eliminated by
Proposition 8). Vermont is the first state to do so by a legislative vote without pressure
from a state court. More details.
|2009-APR-16: NY: SSM bill: Governor David Paterson is announced
that he would
introduce a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New York state.
|2009-APR-22: GA, MA: Equality California discusses suicides by gay teens:
Equality California's (EQCA) newsletter mentioned that an 11 year old male youth
in Georgia took
his own life after having endured "relentless anti-gay bullying at school." A
few weeks earlier, an 11 year old in Massachusetts also committed suicide
after having suffered constant homophobic taunts at schools. To date in 2009,
there have been a total of four known similar suicides. EQCA commented:
"In our schools and communities there is an epidemic of hate?and the victims
are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, those who are
perceived to be LGBT, and youth with LGBT parents. That?s why EQCA works to
counter this hate through legislation and organizing events like this past
weekend's GSA Advocacy & Youth Leadership Academy (GAYLA) and Queer Youth
Advocacy Day (QYAD)."
|2009-APR-26: Presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) preserve
clergy discrimination: During the summer of 2008, the General Assembly
of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to remove a constitutional
requirement that ministers, deacons and elders must live in "fidelity within
the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in
singleness." This would allow gay, lesbian and bisexual candidates for these
positions to live in a loving committed same-sex relationship. |
The decision had to be ratified by a majority vote of the denomination's 173
presbyteries. By 2009-APR-26, the voting results were 88 presbyteries opposed
and 68 in favor. This means that, whatever the final results, the
discriminatory clause will be retained in the denomination's constitution; a
majority has voted to retain the status quo. However, it appears that the
margin is significantly smaller than in previous years.
Both sides expect the issue to be addressed again in the near future. With
the gradual increase in the acceptance of homosexuality
and bisexuality nationwide, it appears inevitable that the constitutional
requirement will eventually be dropped. 4
|2009-APR-27: CA: Britney Spears supports
same-sex marriage: Spears wrote on her Twitter page: "Love is love! People
should be able to do whatever makes them happy. I have lots of gay andlesbian
friends and I want to see them get married. I'll do whatever it takes to make
their dreams come true. Discrimination has no place in America."
|2009-APR-29: NH: SSM passes legislature:
The House approved a SSM bill in March. The Senate Judiciary Committee
voted to pass their version of the bill to the full Senate with the
recommendation that it be voted down. However, the senate approved the bill
with a vote of 13 to 11. Next, an attempt will be made to harmonize the two
bills so that it can be sent to the Governor for a signature or veto.
6 More info.|
News during 2009-MAY:
|2009-MAY-06: ME: Governor signs SSM bill into
law: Both the Senate and House passed LD 1120, a bill to legalize SSM in
Maine. Governor John Baldacci (D) who was personally opposed to SSM respected
the will of the Legislature and signed the bill into law. Same-sex couples
will be able to obtain marriage licenses after the legislative session ends in
mid-June. Maine becomes the fifth state to legalize SSM, after Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Vermont, and Iowa. More details.|
|2009-MAY-14: NH: Governor Lynch may sign SSM
bill: On 2009-MAY-14, New Hampshire Governor Lynch said that he
would sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage if the Legislature modified it
to give greater protections to churches who wanted to continue to discriminate
against same-sex couples. This would make SSM available in all but one of the
New England states. The first try by the legislature to meet the governor's
requirements did not succeed; they are attempting a second try. More info.|
|2009-MAY-26: CA: California Supreme Court upholds Prop 8: As
expected, the state supreme court upheld the constitutionality of Prop 8, thus
continuing the current ban on SSM. However, it also ruled that the Proposition
is not retroactive. Thus, same-sex couples who were legally married during
2008 would continue to be considered married.|
This decision leaves the
marriages of all minority groups vulnerable. Any hate group who dislikes a
particular racial, religious, or other minority can now raise a proposition in
California to eliminate the right of that minority to marry. If the
Proposition is passed by at least 50% of the voters plus one, the minority
would no longer be allowed to marry. Atheists' marriages are at particular
risk, because of the public's high level of dislike and intolerance of
Atheists. More info.
News during 2009-JUN:
|2009-JUN-01: USA: President Obama declares June to be Lesbian Gay
Bisexual Transgender Pride Month: The beginning of the gay liberation
movement occurred four decades ago this month. It was triggered by a police
attack on the Stonewall Inn in New York City, NY. |
His proclamation said, in part:
"Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights
movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever
before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates
to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration.
These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and
across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies
-- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and
"The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work
to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of
harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their
lives with dignity and respect."
He listed some of the initiatives that the government is involved in:
|Decriminalization of same-sex behavior around the world.|
|Hate crimes laws|
|Supporting civil unions|
|Supporting federalrights for LGBT couples|
|Outlawing discrimination in employment|
|Ensuring adoption rights|
|Ending the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy in the Armed forces.|
"These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation.
As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans
are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our
Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I
call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work
together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or
gender identity." 1
2009-JUN-03: NH: Governor signs SSM bill into law: The House and Senate were able to establish compromise wording on their SSM
bill that both could accept. Governor Lynch signed it into law. New Hampshire is
thus the sixth state to legalize marriage for all loving committed couples, both
opposite-sex and same-sex. 2 More info.
2009-JUN-12: India: Anti-gay law may be reconsidered:
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was created during the 19th
century during colonial times to criminalize same-sex sexual behavior. Law
minister Veerappa Moily has indicted that the government may revisit the law
and liberalize it. Ashok Row Kavi, consultant for UNAIDS and UNDP, said: "It
will be the best thing for the national AIDS control program since efforts
to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS will no longer be impeded by the law."
During 2001, Naz Foundation, a non-profit gay-positive group, had petitioned
the Indian high court to "read down" section 377. The health ministry
supported the petition the law ministries opposed it. The high court has
recently finished hearing arguments on the petition.
2009-JUN-13: USA: Proposed
change to gay immigration: The Senate Judiciary Committee held a
meeting to hear public input on the "Uniting American Families Act" (UAFA).
Many countries, like Canada, France and Germany, recognize loving committed
same-sex couples in their immigration legislation. The U.S. does not; they
are treated only as friends. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the
Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have introduced bills in
the Senate (S. 424) and House (H.R. 1024) that would allow citizens to
sponsor their same-sex partners in a similar way as heterosexual spouses
currently petition for foreign-born husbands and wives. Leahy said in an
interview: "I think it's a matter of fairness."
benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees: President Obama
signed a presidential memorandum that grant a limited number of employee
benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers. At the
present time, a half dozen states have legalized
same-sex marriage; a few more have created civil unions or domestic
partnerships for same-sex couples. Such couples have been given most or all
of the state's benefits that had previously been special privileges given
only to married opposite sex couples. But the same-sex couples have not been
able to obtain any of the approximately 1,100 federal benefits.
President Obama said that this action:
"marks a historic step towards the changes we seek [for LGBT federal
workers] Many of our government's hard-working, dedicated, and patriotic
public servants have long been denied basic rights that their colleagues
enjoy for one simple reason ? the people that they love are of the same sex.
In consultation with Secretary of State Clinton, as well as [U.S. Office of
Personnel Management] Director John Berry, my administration has completed a
long and thorough review to identify a number of areas where we can extend
federal benefits to the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive
branch government employees. I'm requesting that Secretary Clinton and
Director Berry do so where possible under existing law ? and that the heads
of all executive departments and agencies conduct reviews to determine where
they may do the same."
Included among the benefits are the use of medical facilities at overseas
posts, medical evacuation privileges from such posts, and inclusion of
same-sex families in overseas housing allocations. It does not include
health insurance benefits, a benefit that would require changes to the civil
service personnel statute and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
President Obama said:
"Among the steps we have not yet taken is to repeal the Defense of Marriage
Act. I believe it's discriminatory, I think it interferes with states' rights,
and we will work with Congress to overturn it."
Being a presidential memorandum, it will automatically expire when he leaves office clear how equality of all federal
employees can be attained in view of the DOMA law
that specifically reserves all 1,100 benefits as
a special privilege of opposite-sex married couples.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) was present at the signing, He is the lead
Senate sponsor of a bill that would provide full federal employee benefits
to partners of gay federal workers. 7
2009-JUN-19: Federal Census Bureau
will count same-sex marriages: During the Bush administration, the Census
Bureau refused to count same-sex couples, citing the federal
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as
justification. In a major win for the GLBT community, the Bureau will now
count same-sex marriages (SSMs), civil unions and domestic partnerships. The
next major census is due in 2010. More
2009-JUN-23: TX: Fort Worth church kicked out of
Southern Baptists: The Southern Baptist Convention has terminated its
127 year relationship with the Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX.
The reason is that the congregation is too lenient with GLBT members. The
messengers (delegates) to the convention were not allowed to be seated.
Kathy Madeja, chairperson of the congregation's board of deacons said:
"We do not believe Broadway has taken any action which would justify its
being deemed not in friendly cooperation with the SBC. It is unfortunate
that the Southern Baptist Convention decided otherwise and severed its
affiliation with Broadway Baptist Church."
Earlier, the Rev. Jorene Taylor Swift, a Broadway minister, wrote a
letter to the denomination's executive committee stating:
"We are not a church where homosexuality is a defining issue. While we
extend hospitality to everyone ? including homosexuals ? we do not endorse,
approve or affirm homosexual behavior."
|2009-JUN-29: President Obama pledges to work for GLBT equality: At
a White House ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots --
the police attack that triggered the gay liberation movement -- President
Obama pledged his effort to end the military Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, to
repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to fulfill other campaign
promises leading to equality for LGBTs. Referring to DOMA, he said:|
"We have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a
way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in
upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law."
Regarding DADT, he said:
"I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country
weakens our national security ? Ending the policy requires an act of Congress
and will take time." 9
News during 2009-JUL:
|2009-JUL-09: UT: Gay couple handcuffed by Mormon Church guards: A
gay couple, Matt Aune, 28 and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, had attended The
Twilight Concert Series at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake
City and were walking home when they crossed Main Street Plaza. This was
once a public main street, but the City traded it to the Mormon Church 2003
in a controversial exchange for another piece of land. It remains a popular
pedestrian thoroughfare. The held hands and Matt kissed Derek on the cheek
-- apparently a common event on the plaza. Couples often pose affectionately
there for poses. Two Mormon church guards came over and asked the couple to
leave, noting that public displays of affection are not allowed on church
property. The couple resisted, and were handcuffed by the church guards.
Later, they were given a citation Salt Lake City Police Department. Aune was
one of those who protested the land transfer in 2003. He said: "They claimed
in 2003 this would never happen, they were never going to arrest anyone.
It's clear now they do have an agenda." The article generated 190 pages of
comments from readers; very few had anything nice to say about the Mormon
church. 10 |
On JUL-12, about 100 people gathered on public property near the spot where
Aune and Jones were handcuffed. The couples staged a protest in the form of
a "kiss-in." Both opposite-sex and same-sex couples exchanged pecks on the
cheek. Church security was present, although there were no altercations.
|2009-JUL-16: U.S. Senate passed hate-crimes bill: The Senate
passed its version of a hate-crime bill, S. 909: It differs from the House's version H.R. 1913 that was passed in
The bill would amend an earlier hate-crime bill passed four decades ago to
cover hate crimes motivated by a hatred of a person's gender, sexual
orientation, gender identity or disability. The vote was 63 to 28 (69% --
over two to one -- in favor). The NO votes were all by Republicans. Five
Republicans voted for it. That is about as bipartisan as the Senate is able
to achieve under the present circumstances, because of the identification of
the Republican Party with conservative Christians.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, 2009," The White
House, 2009-JUN-01, at:
- "New Hampshire Legalizes Homosexual Marriage," CitizenLink, 2009-JUN-03, at:
- "Moily signals rethink on anti-gay law," Times of India, 2009-JUN-12, at:
- Daryl C. Hannah, "When Same-Sex Partners Meet Immigration Law," DiversityInc,
2009-JUN-12, at: http://www.diversityinc.com/
- "Uniting American Families Act," Human Rights Campaign, 2009-MAR-17, at:
- "S.424," bill text, at:
- "Obama grants partner benefits for gay federal employees.
Memorandum called 'first step' prior to action by Congress," Southern Voice,
- Lee Williamns & Bill Miller, "Broadway Baptist
kicked out of Southern Baptist Convention," The Star Telegram, 2009-JUN-23,
Kevin Canessa Jr., "Obama: I'll Work to Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' for
Military Members," DiversityInc., 2009-JUN-30, at:
- Lindsay Whitehurst, "Trespassing case? Gay couple detained after kiss near
LDS temple," Salt Lake Tribune, 2009-JUL-11, at:
- " 'Kiss-in' Protest Held near Mormon Temple; 100 People Exchange Kisses to
Protest Treatment of 2 Gay Men who Were Detained by Police," CBS News,
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Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance, Suite 128, 829 Norwest Rd., Kingston ON, Canada, K7P 2N3, and are intended to be available to anyone
interested in the topics included, for educational purposes only. Any
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Copyright © 2009 by the Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-APR-03
Latest update and review: 2009-JUL-21
Compiler: B.A. Robinson