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Religious Tolerance logo

Culture shift re: homosexuality, bisexuality, etc.

Events during 2009-DEC illustrating
cultural shifts about sexual minorities

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See additional events during December concerning
homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, etc.

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The acronym SSM refers to same-sex marriage;
GLBT refers to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual persons.

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bullet2009-DEC-01: DC: City council gives first reading to SSM bill: The Washington DC city council voted 11 to 2 to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) in the district. Earlier, they had voted to recognize SSMs performed legally in other jurisdictions. This vote must be confirmed in a second vote, receive approval by the mayor and navigate a potential veto by Congress before it becomes law. More information.
bullet2009-DEC-02: NY: NY poll shows strong support for SSM; Senate votes to defeat SSM: A Marist Poll shows strong support for same-sex marriage. Overall, registered voters were 51% in favor and 42% opposed with a margin of 9%. Democrats were 66% in favor and 29% opposed. Women and residents of New York City were approaching 2 to 1 in favor.

The state Senate finally voted on a bill to legalize SSM in New York State. All Republicans and 8 Democrats voted against the bill. It was defeated. More information.
bullet2009-DEC-02: Italy: Vatican criticizes own Cardinal who said GLBTs cannot enter Heaven: Referring to one of St. Paul's epistles in the Bible -- probably 1 Corinthians 6:9 or 1 Timothy 1:9-10, retired Mexican Cardinal Javier Barragan, 76, said that:

"Transsexuals and homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it's not me who says it but St. Paul. ... People are not born homosexual, they become homosexual, for different reasons: education issues or because they did not develop their own identity during adolescence. ... 'Perhaps they aren't guilty but by acting against the dignity of the body they will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

It is not clear how he interprets either of these two "clobber" passages so that they refer to transgender persons or transsexuals. Most theologians believe that the Bible is silent on these topics.

In a most unusual move, the Vatican criticized a top church official's statements. Vatican spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, said the conservative website on which the cardinal made his comments should not be considered an authority on Catholic thinking "on complex and delicate issues such as homosexuality." 8

bullet2009-DEC-08: DC: Gay-positive group to cosponsor CPAC convention: The three day Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will be held in Washington DC starting on 2010-FEB-18. It will be cosponsored by GOProud, a group that describes themselves as "the only national organization for gay conservatives and their allies."
bullet2009-DEC-10: Austria: Parliament passed legislation to create civil unions for same-sex couples that would also offer protection to their children. It will come into effect on 2010-JAN-01. Lawmakers passed the measure with a vote of 110 to 64. Same-sex couples will obtain the same financial rights as opposite-sex couples including in taxation, pension and maintenance. However they will not be eligible to adopt children or receive fertility treatments. Upon the insistence of The People's Party -- a conservative group -- same-sex couples would not be granted at local registry offices as opposite-sex couples can. Instead, same-sex couples would have to register their civil unions at the municipal office or the magistrate's office. Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek,  the women's affairs minister of the ruling Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) assured lesbians, gays and bisexuals that the restrictions are temporary until the next round of legislation.
bullet2009-DEC-12: TX: Houston elects first openly gay mayor: Houston Mayor-elect Annise Parker, 53, won a runoff election, defeating former city attorney Gene Locke. Other cities in the U.S. have openly gay mayors, incuding Cambridge, MA; Portland, OR; and Providence, RI. However, Houston is the largest. She said:

"It's a historic election for my community, and I believe an election that will change some people's minds about the city of Houston. It's a diverse, international city that welcomes everyone. ... "I realize that I'm a role model, but I've been a role model for my community for 30 years. It's part of who I am, and I believe it makes me a better representative for the city of Houston." 1

She also said:

"This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better, and that's what my administration will be about."

Mayor-elect Parker's sexual orientation became the focus of the race after religious and social conservatives endorsed her competitor and sent out mailers that condemned Parker's "homosexual behavior." 2 Parker is in a loving committed relationship with another woman.

bullet2009-DEC-15: DC: City council gives final reading to SSM bill: The Washington DC City Council voted 11 to 2 for the second time to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) in the district. The mayor has promised to sign it into law. Congress will then have 30 legislative days to veto the bill if they wish. More information. An attempt will be made by social and religious conservatives to launch a court case to force the City Council to hold a referendum in the hopes of repealing the law. More info.
bullet2009-DEC-18: DC: As he promised, Mayor Adrian M, Fenty (D) signed the SSM bill into law. This legalizes same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia.

The final steps to allow SSM for loving, committed DC same-sex couples to marry as soon as 2010-MAR are for the law to dodge:

bulletA potential veto by Congress, and
bulletA potential court-ordered plebiscite that is being promoted by religious conservatives. More info.
bullet2009-DEC-18: Europe: Pressure to adopt civil unions:  British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to try to convince European countries that have no same-sex marriage or civil union laws to recognize same-sex couples' civil unions contracted in Britain. He said:

"We want countries where that hasn't been the case - especially in Eastern Europe - to recognize them. We're negotiating agreements with France and then with Spain. ...If we could show eastern Europe as well as western Europe, that this respect for gay people is due, that would be really important. Of course it will be tough, and will take many years, but that has never ever been a good reason not to fight." 3

bullet2009-DEC-19: UK: Rugby Union player comes out of the closet:  Cardiff Blues player Gareth Thomas revealed that he is gay. He said:

"I just want to thank everyone for the amazing response I have received, on behalf of me, my family and friends. I hope that by saying this I can make a big difference to others in my situation. ... What I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby. ... I'd love for it, in 10 years' time, not to even be an issue in sport, and for people to say: 'So what'?"

Peter Tatchell, a gay-rights promoter, said:

"It is very positive Gareth has come out while he is still an active player. Many of the sports people who have declared their homosexuality have tended to do so after their careers are over. ... Rugby is a very macho sport and has traditionally had a very robust he-man, heterosexual image so it is really great that he has had the guts to be honest with himself and his fans. Hopefully this will ease the way for other gay and bisexual players to also come out." 4

bullet2009-DEC-21: Mexico: Mexico city legalized same-sex marriage: By a vote of 39 to 20, with five abstentions, Mexico City legislative assembly revised the civil code to define marriage as "the free uniting of two people." Previously, loving, committed same-sex couples were only able to obtain civil unions in the city. The marriage law will enable them to apply for bank loans, inherit, be included in each other's insurance plans, etc. Victor Romo of the Democratic Revolution party said: "For centuries, unjust laws banned marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans. Today, all barriers have disappeared."  Others were not impressed. Armando Martinez, president of the College of Catholic Attorneys, said that city legislators had "given Mexicans the most bitter Christmas. They are permitting adoption [by same-sex couples], and in one stroke of the pen have erased the terms mother and father." The conservative National Action party plans to mount a court challenge against the law. 5
bullet2009-DEC-28: Argentina: Jose Maria Di Bello (L) and his partner Alex Freyre were married at a government registry office in Ushuaia, the southern-most city in the world. It is located in Tierra del Fuego province at the southern tip of Argentina. They became the first same-sex couple in Latin America to marry. Their marriage was first accepted and then denied in Buenos Aires. Then it was first denied and then accepted in Ushuaia. Di Bello, 41, is an executive at the Argentine Red Cross. Freyre, 39, is the executive director of the Buenos Aries AIDS Foundation. Both of them are HIV positive. More info.
bullet2009-DEC-30: Vermont: Separated same-sex couple fight over custody of child: Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins were in a same-sex relationship in Vermont. Lisa gave birth to their daughter, became a Christian, separated from her partner, and moved to Virginia. OneNewsNow reports that she has left her "former lifestyle." It is not clear whether she is bisexual and has decided to avoid future relationships with other women, or whether she is a lesbian and has decided to become celibate.

Vermont judge William Cohen gave custody of the child to Janet Jenkins. Meanwhile, Miller appears to have "disappeared" with the child. The case presents an interesting constitutional issue because Virginia only recognizes unions of one man and one woman. This type of conflict is bound to become more common in the future, as U.S. states increasingly form a patchwork of laws concerning same-sex relationships. A married same-sex couple can become only registered partners or even simply roommates by going on a short drive from their home.

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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. Monica Rhor, "Houston's first openly gay mayor says she hopes election shows city's diversity, changes image," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-13, at: http://www.startribune.com/
  2. Monica Rhor, "Houston becomes largest U.S. city with gay mayor," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-13, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  3. Hilary White, "UK Prime Minister Pledges to Force Gay Civil Union Recognition in Eastern Europe," LifeSiteNews.com, 2009-DEC-18, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/
  4. Jamie Doward, "Gay activists praise rugby star Gareth Thomas's decision to come out. Speculation is growing that other gay sports stars may follow suit," Guardian Newspaper, 2009-DEC-19, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
  5. "Mexico City legalises same-sex marriage," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-22, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
  6. "Argentina hosts first gay marriage in Latin America," AFP, 2009-DEC-29, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  7. Almudena Calatrava, "Gay marriage in Argentina is 1st in Latin America," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-29.
  8. "Cardinal's gay slur prompts Vatican rap," Sydney Morning Herald, 2009-DEC-04, at: http://www.smh.com.au/
  9. Charlie Butts, "Lesbian mother case presents constitutional issue," OneNewsNow, 2009-DEC-30, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/

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Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initial posting: 2009-DEC-01
Latest update: 2010-JAN-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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