Gov. Gregoire signs historic legislation on marriage equality in Washington state

OLYMPIA – Before hundreds of marriage equality advocates and supporters, Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed historic legislation that makes Washington the 7th state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry.

“As governor for more than seven years, this is one of my proudest moments,” Gregoire said. “And most surely today is a proud day in the history of the Legislature and the state of Washington. It is a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights. A day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair. We stood up for equality and we did it together – Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old, and a variety of religious faiths. I’m proud of who and what we are in this state.”

Washington now joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York plus the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriages.

“I’m proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal,” Gregoire said. “They will be equal. I’m proud that children in our schools and neighborhoods will not have to wonder why their loving parents are considered different than other loving parents. I’m proud of parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children. And I’m proud that children who discover they are gay and lesbian can feel good about themselves.”

“To Senator Murray and Representative Pedersen, thank you for your skilled leadership as prime sponsors of marriage equality legislation,” Gregoire continued. “We have been on this journey together. And the intelligence, care and patience you brought to this struggle over so many years defines what it means to be a great legislator.”

Gregoire’s signature on Senate Bill 6239 completes a state journey that began in 2006, when the governor signed legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and other areas. In 2007, Substitute Senate Bill 5336 created the state domestic partnership registry. Gregoire signed House Bill 3104 in 2008 which added additional rights and responsibilities relating to issues such as dissolutions, community property, estate planning, taxes, court process, conflicts of interest for public officials and guardianships. Legislation signed in 2009 requires state agencies to ensure that all privileges, immunities, rights, benefits, or responsibilities granted to married individuals are granted to an individual who is or was in a state registered domestic partnership.

“I thank the Legislature not only for making history, but in the way they did it,” Gregoire said. “Proponents and opponents were incredibly respectful. Marriage equality is a difficult issue, and feelings run high on both sides. Yet, our Legislature conducted itself professionally and respectfully throughout.”


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VA school district wants to ban cross-gender attire

The Suffolk School District in Virginia is mulling over a dress code change that would prohbit students from wearing clothing ”not in keeping with a student’s gender” that “causes a disruption and/or distracts others from the education process or poses a health or safety concern.”

School officials say that they were motivated by recent bullying problems and suicides by LGBT youth nationwide, and are trying to prevent problems within their own district.  It was reported that a few male high school students wore female attire to school, which prompted complaints from other students.

At a recent board meeting Board Vice Chairwoman Thelma Hinton said, “When a situation is brought up to me, I’m going to speak out if I have to speak out, and take a stand.”  She voiced her concerns for the safety of the district’s 14,000 students, even at the expense of civil rights.  ”It has nothing to do with a person’s gender — who they are,” Hinton said. “Of course I don’t want anyone’s rights being violated, but I have done some research.”

Opponents of the rule, including the ACLU, say that the changes are too vague and discriminatory.  James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia told Reuters, “If a girl comes to school wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, is that considered cross-gender dressing?” He continued, “They’re calling it cross-dressing, but if that individual was wearing clothes that reflect their gender identity, that’s not cross-dressing, that’s appropriate gender dressing.”

School officials maintain that the rules would only be enforced if a student’s manner of dress interrupted the educational process.

 

 


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Tonight: Equality Toledo hosting screening of “Bullied”

Join Equality Ohio for a free screening of the documentary “Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History” February 9th, in the Toledo Area. The video chronicles the powerful story of a student who stood up to his anti-gay tormentors and filed a federal lawsuit against his school district. The suit led to a landmark federal court decision holding that school officials could be held accountable for not stopping the harassment and abuse of gay students. Know a teacher or school administrator? Bring them along with you as each showing will also feature a discussion.

Can you help Equality Ohio by hosting a viewing of “Bullied“? Contact Kim Welter to schedule a viewing.

  • February 9 – Hosted by Equality Ohio, Owens Student Activities, The Office of Service Learning, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Teacher Education and Human Services.
    Showing starts at 7 pm at Owens Community College Rossford – Center for the Performing Arts, 30335 Oregon Road, Perrysburg, OH 43551. There will also be a discussion afterwards.

 


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Join Equality Toledo for a free viewing of the film Gen Silent. This film follows the lives of six LGBT seniors who struggle with hiding who they truly are to survive.

Gen Silent is the critically-acclaimed documentary from filmmaker Stu Maddux (Bob and Jack’s 52-Year Adventure, Trip to Hell and Back) that asks six LGBT seniors if they will hide their friends, their spouses- their entire lives in order to survive in the care system.  Their surprising decisions are captured through intimate access to their day-to-day lives over the course of a year.  It puts a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic:  gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender older people so afraid of discrimination by caregivers or bullying by other seniors that many simply go back into the closet.

Many who won the first civil rights victories for generations to come are now dying prematurely because they are reluctant to ask for help and have too few friends or family to care for them.

Gen Silent  shows the disparity in the quality of paid caregiving from mainstream care facilities committed making their LGBT residents safe and happy,  to places where LGBT elders face discrimination by staff and bullying by other seniors.

As we watch the challenges that these men and women face, we are offered new hope as each person crosses paths with impassioned people trying to change LGBT aging for the better.

Did you know:

  • Four out of five LGBT elders say that they do not trust the health care system
  • LGBT elders report a fear of care provided in assisted living and nursing care settings.
  • Fifty percent of nursing home workers said their colleagues would be intolerant of LGBT people (Outing Age, 2010).
  • Thousands of LGBT Seniors are dying earlier than their straight counterparts because they are isolated and afraid to ask for help. (MAD STU Productions, 2012)

Sunday, February 26, 2012
Time: 3:00 PM
Maumee Indoor Theatre
601 Conant Street
Maumee, OH 43537

 Panel Discussion and refreshments to follow the film

Free and open to the Public

 Made possible by a grant from John Domrose Foundation For Personal Rights


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Federal suit dismisses case against UT by former VP

A federal court has dimissed a case against former University of Toledo filed by former vice president of human resources Crystal Dixon.  Dixon was terminated in 2008 after writing an editorial for the Toledo Free Press in which she called homosexuality a choice that violates “God’s divine order” and advocates conversion therapy.

Dixon argued that she was wrongfully terminated for voicing her personal opinions outside of work.  The university claimed that because of her strong personal bias, she did not adhere to the university’s diversity policies.

U.S. District Court Judge David Katz agreed with the university, stating in his 17-page opinion, ““…The balance of [Ms. Dixon’s] interest in making a comment of public concern is clearly outweighed by the University’s interest as her employer in carrying out its own objectives. Therefore, [Ms. Dixon] has failed to establish that her speech was protected.  [Ms. Dixon] also claims that she was fired for violating an impermissibly vague speech policy. However, the damage she did to her ability to perform her job and to the University provide ample justification for her termination.”

University president Dr. Mark Jacobs released a statement, praising the court’s decision.  “The University of Toledo is committed to providing a safe, welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors, regardless of race, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability.  This institution will continue to stand by our strategic plan that demands we all work to ‘create an environment that values and fosters diversity; earns the trust and commitment of colleagues and the communities served; provides a collaborative and supportive work environment, based upon stewardship and advocacy, that adheres to the highest ethical standard.’”

 


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Illinois introduces marriage equality bill

The battle for marriage equality seems to be picking up steam.  In addition to the federal appeals court striking down Prop. 8 and the passage of a same-sex marriage bill in the Washington legislature this week, three openly-gay Illinois state representatives have introduced a marriage equality bill.  The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, would give same-sex couples the same marriage rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.

Same-sex civil unions were legalized in Illinois in January 2011.  According to Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois:

“Civil unions were an important intermediate step for the state, however, the civil union law has already proven to have substantial weaknesses and falls short of full marriage equality for all loving and committed couples in Illinois.

“In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law.  A pharmacist who denied prescription pick-up to the patient’s civil union partner didn’t think it’s the same thing as marriage. A coroner who refused to issue a death certificate to civil union partner survivor did not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Tax preparers, estate planners, employers and employees do not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Separate is not equal. And we at Equality Illinois will not rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state - who are equal in love – are also equal in marriage.”


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CNN contributor suspended for anti-gay tweets

CNN contributor Roland Martin has been suspended indefinitely after tweeting a pair of comments that many saw as advocating anti-LGBT violence.  During the Super Bowl, he tweeted:

If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl

Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from#teamwhipdatass

@glaad @CNN Well you’re clearly out of touch and clueless with what I tweeted. Way to assume, but you’re way off base.

CNN released a statement, saying:

“Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”

Martin issued a belated apology on his website, which begins:

“Based on several tweets I made on my Twitter feed on Super Bowl Sunday yesterday, I have been accused by members of the LGBT community of being supportive of violence against gays and lesbians and bullying.

That is furthest from the truth, and I sincerely regret any offense my words have caused.”

He goes on to say that his comment were made “in jest,” and that the David Beckham comments related to his dislike of soccer


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Washington legislature approves gay marriage bill

The Washington state house has approved a measure that would legalize same-sex marriages in the state.  Governor Christine Gregoire has repeatedly expressed her support for the bill, which passed in the state senate last week.  After the bill passed she tweeted, “Thank you to the Washington State House–a civil, respectful debate on marriage equality. And a 55-43 vote! Next stop, my desk!”  Same-sex marriages could begin in Washington as early as June 7, once the bill is signed.

Opponents of the law are hoping to collect 241,153 signatures by July 6, enough to force a referendum on the issue on the November ballot.  If half of the signatures are collected before June 6, enactment of the law would be suspended until after the election.

The recent decision regarding California’s Prop. 8, takes on a new significance in this case.  If same-sex marriages were allowed to start on June 7, followed by a subsequent repeal, precedence would most likely lead to a successful court challenge by marriage equality supporters.

If enacted, Washington would become the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriages, in addition to the District of Columbia,


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Appeals court rules California’s Prop. 8 unconstitutional

The Ninth District Court of Appeals has ruled that California’s Prop. 8, which banned same sex marriage, is unconstitutional on the basis that it stripped same-sex couples of their right to marry which violates their 14th Amendment rights to due process under the law and equal protection.

The decision reads:

All that Proposition 8 accomplished was to take away from same-sex couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally use the designation of “marriage,” which symbolizes state legitimazation and societal recognition of their committed relationships.  Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.  The Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort.’”

The justices were quick to point out, however, that this ruling only is applicable in the state of California.  Because they are charged with only ruling on the matters at hand, the decision was based on the fact that same-sex marriage was legal for a time and then revoked.  While they felt that the court system should be involved in deciding difficult issues, they wished to “adhere to the principle of deciding constitutional questions only in the context of the particular case before the court.”  The fact same-sex marriage had been legal at some point, meant that addressing the broader issue of whether or not same-sex marriages should ever be legal was of no consequence to the case.

Prop. 8 proponents are already planning to appeal the decision, but many analysts, including the Los Angeles Times are questioning whether the Supreme Court will even hear the case.  Because the court’s decision was so narrowly limited to California, it may not see the need to make a higher ruling.  If that is the case, this week’s ruling would be the final say and same-sex marriages could resume in California.


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Troy, Mich. mayor still a homophobe

In December, Troy, Mich. mayor Janice Daniels made news after it was revealed that she had posted homophobic remarks on her personal Facebook page before she was elected.  It looks like some things never change.

Shortly after marriage equality passed in New York, she posted, “I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there.”

Daniels then issued a half-apology for using the word “queer.”  She told a Detroit radio station, “While I do believe marriage should be between one man and one woman, it was inappropriate to use that language in describing a group of people.  It’s a dictionary word, it’s used in a TV show and in other contexts, but for me to have said it, it was a poke in the eye. It was inappropriate and I do apologize. It was meant to be a joke, just a funny, just a poke, a silly thing.”

In an attempt to make amends once again, Daniels met with the Troy High School Gay Straight Alliance.  According to the Troy Patch, during the Jan. 9 meeting:

In the recording, someone is heard saying Daniels would be asked to “discuss the issue at hand that got us here in the first place,” referring to her anti-gay comment on Facebook.

“If I do, I’m not sure that any of you will be satisfied,” Daniels is heard saying on the recording. “I will bring in psychiatrists, who will tell you that the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous.”

That might be a difficult task, considering that The American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973 and the World Health Organization removed homosexuality list of diseases in 1990.  There is also no medical evidence to suggest that homosexuality is any more “dangerous” than heterosexuality.

Dr. Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist based in New York City and member of the APA’s DSM-5 Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders told MLive.com, “We have two parallel culture tracks going on.  We have a strongly anti-scientific, religiously-based cultural belief that is based on ancient texts that believes homosexuality is immoral. Certain people are entitled to their religious beliefs, but they aren’t scientific beliefs at all. It’s unfortunate when people try to masquerade their religious beliefs in guise of science.”


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Washington state senate passes marriage equality bill

It could be less than a week until yet another state legalized same-sex marriages.  The Washington state senate has approved a bill granting marriage equality by a vote of 28-21.  The bill now heads to the house, where a vote could come this week or early next week.  The house measure is expected to pass by a wide margin.

Governor Christine Gregoire has publicly expressed her support for the bill.  After the vote, she said in a statement: “Tonight, the Washington State Senate stood up for what is right and told all families in our state that they are equal and that the state cannot be in the business of discrimination… “The vote was courageous and was only possible with bipartisan support.  That support shows Washington’s commitment to equality…

“Fair-minded and responsible leaders crafted a bill that protects religious freedoms while ensuring equal rights.”

“Tonight, our families are better for this vote. Our kids have a brighter future for this bill.  I look forward to the day when all Washington citizens have equal opportunity to marry they person they love.”

However, state Sen. Brian Hatfield told the Seatlle Post-Intelligencer that conservative groups are already working on getting the issue on the November ballot for voters to decide.

Hatfield expressed his personal struggles in deciding how to vote on the issue.  ”“Regardless of how I choose to vote on the issue of marriage equality, I will alienate myself from friends and neighbors that I have known for years.  A vote in favor of marriage equality will enrage those who see it as a stone cast against God and the beliefs that I, and thousands like me, have been raised with.  A vote against will label me as a bigot who is against extending the basic rights that I enjoy to all residents of our state.”

 


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George Michael to postpone tour dates until September, at least

After a nearly fatal bout of pneumonia last December which left him hospitalized for nearly a month, George Michael is feeling better, but still recovering.  In order to give his voice time to recover, he is planning on postponing his planned tour until at least September.  He tweeted from vacation:

realistically I can’t see my vocal cords being being ready till the summer, but then I have to think about people losing out if ….

they are on their summer hols. So September seems the most likely. Sorry about that everyone. Rest assured I will use the time wisely…

As in… working on improving the show, mixing the live tracks, finishing brand new tracks!

Pneumonia may have been a bastard thing to go thru, but normally when I suffer you guys benefit somehow, don’t you think :)

That’s just how it goes in GM world. God’s little joke. Long may it continue :)

Spent half the day trying to come up with something that rhymed with pneumonia. Best I can do is bone ya……..so true, so true…. :)

 


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Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity conference to be held at Oakland University on Feb. 3

On Friday, February 3, Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. will host the Michigan Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Education Conference (SOGI).  The event is Michigan’s first statewide conference devoted to LGBTQI issues in education.  In addition to a full day of seminars and learning opportunities, Dr. Eliza Byard, CEO of GLSEN will give a keynote address.

Other participating organizations include Equality Michigan, the ACLU of Michigan, Detroit Safe Schools Initiative, the Michigan Department of Education, PFLAG Family Reunion Detroit Chapter, GLSEN Southeast Michigan and more.

According to event organizers:

This conference brings together pre-K – 12 educators, teacher educators and community advocacy organizations to improve educational opportunities for all Michigan youth, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression. Participants will engage in rich dialogue facilitated by leading experts, share resources and identify best practices. Together, we will plan our next steps toward creating safer, more welcoming and inclusive schools. We urge you to come listen, learn, and add your voice to this critical conversation

The goals of the event are to:

  • Promote preK‐12/university dialogue about important issues involving sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
  • Provide preK‐12 teachers and administrators with opportunities to inform and influence how schools/colleges of education are preparing pre‐service teachers and administrators to effectively address these areas of difference.
  • Identify ways that Oakland University and other schools/colleges of education can assist preK‐12 educators to address these issues.

If you would like more information on the event, please www.oakland.edu/SOGI or email Dr.Tim Larabee.  On-site registration is still available.  Registration fees are $60 for general registration, $30 for presenters and co-presenters and $25 for full-time students.


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Ann Arbor, Columbus named to “Most Lesbianish Cities List”

Inspired by the recent onslaught of “Gayest City in America” lists (some of which with questionable criteria…”number of nude yoga classes”…really?), lesbian website Jezebel.com has put together their own version.  They pulled together a list of “The 21 Most Lesbianish Cities In America,” and two of our neighboring cities made the cut.

Coming in at #15 is Ann Arbor, Michigan, about which they said:

Fun fact: 70% of the town’s same-sex couples are female! Uber-liberal University of Michigan was described by our LGBT College Correspondent as “a mecca for LGBTQA-Z students.” Ann Arbor and the University leans dramatically left, so there’s a lot of independent businesses and political activism here, as well as a dedicated LGBT bar/restaurant The Aùt Bar, gay bookstore Common Language, gay nights at Necto, two art-house cinemas and oneindependent film festival. Nearby Inkster hosts lesbian bar Stilleto’s, and Detroit Suburb Royal Oak has lots for queers too.

Columbus, Ohio barely squeaked in at #21.  Jezebel cited the Ohio Womyn’s Festival and activist groups like Equality Ohio, TransOhio and Stonewall Columbus as reasons the city is so LGBT-friendly (emphasis on the “L” of course).


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Join our Fantasy RuPaul’s Drag Race Group!! Win Prizes!

RuPaul’s Drag Race kicked off Season 4 this week on Logo (or online for those of you with Buckeye Cable…).  Get in on all of the fun by joining Outlines Toledo’s Fantasy Drag Race Team!  Not only can you win awesome prizes from Logo, if we can get more than 15 people to join our team we’ll have a great prize pack for the winner of our team at the end of the season.  To join our group, just visit the Outlines Toledo Fantasy Group page and enter the passcode: Workit9227

How to Play:

1. PICK YOUR TEAM
Select the three fiercest contestants and score points when your girls win a challenge, curse, get into arguments and many other antics. Pray you chose the right dolls!

2. WATCH THE SHOW
Your queens will gain or lose points depending on their performance. Follow their progress, match the scoring items, and see how you do compared with other Drag Race teams. It’s gonna get intense. Meow!

Read more about how to score.

3. PLAY WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Join our Fantasy Game group and compete with friends.

4. BE THE BIGGEST SOCIAL BUTTERFLY
Earn Logo sweepstakes entries by completing various actions in the game. So, keep your eyes peeled, squirrelfriend.  You could also win great prizes from Outlines Toledo at the end of the season, so make sure to play every week!

May the best woman – or ladyboy – WIN!


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