Even in relatively gay-friendly California, gay couples are still at risk for violent attacks based on their orientation. Rather than being accosted by strangers on the street, San Diego couple Zack and Shawn struck up a friendship with an older straight couple at Club Kensington, who congratulated the men on their marriage. Then, after inviting the couple over for dinner, things got violent:
But after 20 minutes at Shawn and Zach's home, Zach said the evening took a violent turn while he was talking to the woman's husband about sports.
"He looked at me and said, 'I hate faggots,'" Zach told 10News. "Next thing you know, he hit me upside the head."
When asked by the police what happened, the man claimed Zach tried to molest him, but when pressed for specifics he conveniently was "unable to remember details." ABC 10 News reports that the man and wife were planning to divorce and suspect that he may have been lashing out at the happily married couple.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued the 12-page earlier today, citing Windsor v. United
States and the death of Section 3 of DOMA as the chief reason why Jean Tobits is entitled to the proper benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA. Tobits' spouse, Sarah Ellyn Farley, succumbed to cancer in 2010, and Tobits has had to fight for her benefits ever since.
The Washington Blade gives us the background:
"The lawsuit, known as O’Connor v. Tobits, came about in 2011 as the result of Cozen O’ Connor PC, the law firm where Farley worked, filing an interpleader action. Both Tobits and Farley’s parents, who didn’t recognize the marriage of her lesbian daughter, requested payment of the Pre-Retirement Survivor Annuity after Farley’s death that was available under the firm’s profit sharing plan."
The opinion explained that:
“Windsor makes clear that where a state has recognized a marriage as valid, the United States Constitution requires that the federal laws and regulations of this country acknowledge that marriage. In light of that, this Court finds that Ms. Tobits is Ms. Farley’s ‘Spouse’ pursuant to the terms of the Plan.”
What's interesting about this explanation is that Tobits and Farley were not technically "married". Rather, they were recognized in Illinois, their state of residence, as members of a civil union. Illinois is not currently one of the states that recognizes full marriage equality. The two were also "married" in Canada in 2006. Thus, this ruling helps answer one of the main questions that many had in the wake of DOMA's death. Mainly, does the federal government define a couple as "legally married" based on where they had their ceremony, or where they reside?
Doug NeJaime, a gay law professor at the University of California, gave his analysis to the Washington Blade.
“The interesting thing here is that the court finds support for the inclusion of the same-sex spouse based on the couple’s domicile being Illinois, a civil union state. In this sense, the court is suggesting that because civil union statutes give those in civil unions the rights of spouses, that is enough for federal purposes as well.”
This runs somewhat contrary to the Obama administration and the The U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The office's current policy dictates that federal employees must be legally married in the United States, not in a civil union or domestic partnership, to be eligible for partner benefits. NeJaime added:
“The court is saying that the couple with a marriage from Canada residing in Illinois should be treated like spouses, but this does lead to the potential conclusion that those in civil unions in general should be treated like spouses.”
Chris Stoll, a senior staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, also agreed that the court's decision sets a promising precedent.
“The judge noted that Illinois respected their relationship and gave them all of the same rights and benefits as other married couples, but his ruling does not appear to depend on that fact. A couple that was married in any jurisdiction that allows it should be treated the same as any other married couple for purposes of federally mandated employee benefits, regardless of where they live.”
Read the full opinion HERE.
We already know that Mall of America plans on hosting one of the first same-sex weddings in the history of Minnesota. Now, with Minnesota's first day of marriage equality fast approaching, Betty Crocker and its parent company, General Mills, have decided to join in the celebration, hosting three same-sex couples (who plan on becoming among the first to get hitched on August 1st) at their Betty Crocker Kitchens headquarters in Golden Valley for a wedding cake tasting. The company will also be donating cakes to each of their three ceremonies.
The story comes to us via a press release from GLAAD.
General Mills, which scored a perfect 100 on the HRC's most recent Corporate Equality Index, has developed a history of supporting equal rights...much to the ire of the ultra-right wing. This most recent show of support comes as part of their "Families Project", which seeks "to understand what it means to be a family - so we can share the strengths that make every family part of a home," according to the company's website. GLAAD reports:
"Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke, the first couple who will be married, were joined by Reid Bordson and Paul Nolle, the second. Both will be married on Thursday by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. The third couple was Al Giraud and Jeff Isaacson, who will be the first couple married in St. Paul. The three couples tasted three Betty Crocker cakes, designed specifically to their tastes, in order to select one for their ceremony."
The cakes were prepared by Terri Leckas of Queen of Cakes in Edina, MN. "We did a little taste testing of our own at my cake shop over the weekend and it was a lot of fun to walk in to the smell of baking at home," she said in the release. "It was a really good feeling."
Making history in the Land of A Thousand Lakes...seems like a good enough reason to take a day off from your diet. That, and it certainly is good payback for North Carolina, where gay marriage opponents celebrated the state's new ban on same-sex marriage in May by eating wedding cake.
In case you missed it, Right Wing Watch has compiled footage from Glenn Beck's bizarre three-day long Independence Day 'historical' celebration in Salt Lake City, Utah earlier this month. Attendees included Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Michelle Malkin. Naturally, I use the word 'historical' quite loosely.
The event, for those unaware, culminated in an 'epic rendition of America's story,' as told from the moon's perspective (portrayed by Beck himself). According to Beck, all of human history is just cycle-upon-cycle of Satan trying to wipe out God's chosen people in order to ultimately destroy God. I don't know about you, but I must have dozed off in my high school history class when this chapter was being taught.
As Media Matters points out, Beck's events, depending on your perspective, are 'either gatherings of epic historical significance or yearly reminders of Beck's inflated sense of self-importance.'
Check out a promotional video for the quirky convention, AFTER THE JUMP...
In a joint press release issued today, more then 30 national and New York-area LGBT organizations issued a call to the New York City Council urging a vote to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto of the Community Safety Act.
The proposed act, approved by the council less than a day after the Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, is composed of two bills, one of which would prohibit police from any profilng based on a host of possible criteria, including sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV status. The other bill would create an independent inspector's office that would monitor police policy, conduct investigations and suggest changes that could be made to the department.
The council has 30 days during which to hold a veto override. In the first votes on the Community Safety Act, the independent inspector bill comfortably cleared a veto-proof two-thirds threshold; the profiling bill received exactly the number of council members required. As Gothamist mused, Bloomberg's veto is seen by some as a delaying tactic to pick off council members and push the bills below the veto-proof margin.
"From Stonewall to stop and frisk, LGBTQ people - and particularly LGBTQ people of color, LGBTQ youth, and transgender and gender nonconforming people - have long been targets of profiling and other forms of discriminatory policing."
Joining the national organizations who signed the statement--among them the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLAAD--were a significant number of New York-specific groups, such as the Ali Forney Center, Gay Mens' Health Crisis, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of New York and the New York City Anti-Violence Project.
You can read the organizations' statement in full AFTER THE JUMP...
Dear New York City Council,
We commend the New York City Council for leading the way toward putting an end to discriminatory policing of all of our communities by passing a comprehensive and enforceable ban on police profiling and establishing independent oversight of the New York City Police Department. We congratulate New York City for making history by prohibiting police profiling based on sexual orientation and gender identity by law, along with race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, housing status, immigration status and disability, including HIV status. From Stonewall to stop and frisk, LGBTQ people - and particularly LGBTQ people of color, LGBTQ youth, and transgender and gender nonconforming people - have long been targets of profiling and other forms of discriminatory policing. The consequences have ranged from death to deportation, assault to arrest, homophobic harassment to humiliation. Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety, including fear of police profiling and discriminatory policing practices. Profiling – whether it’s based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity – has no place in our society. We thank you for your courage in protecting our right to safety while protecting our right to be free from discrimination in all its forms, including by police charged with protecting us. We urge you to continue to stand firm with LGBTQ people and communities of color, and to vote against efforts to veto this landmark legislation and turn back the clock on this victory. The safety of LGBTQ New Yorkers depends on it.
- Ali Forney Center
- Audre Lorde Project
- Black and Pink
- Brooklyn Community Pride Center
- Center on HIV Law and Policy
- Community United Against Violence
- Equity Project
- Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
- Gay Mens' Health Crisis (GMHC)
- Gay Straight Alliance Network
- Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI)
- International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
- Lambda Legal
- Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA)
- The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of New York
- Make the Road New York
- National Black Justice Coalition (NCBJ)
- National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)
- National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
- National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
- New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP)
- New York State LGBTQ Domestic Violence Network
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)
- Providence Youth Student Movement (PRYSM)
- Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ)
- Streetwise and Safe (SAS)
- Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP)
- Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)
Earlier this month, police in Austin, TX, were on the hunt for the lead suspect of the murder of David Villarreal. They had managed to obtain images of the suspect, thanks to a security camera that captured him leaving the building. Early last week, that hunt finally came to a close, as police managed to identify and arrest Matthew Bacon, who reportedly confessed to the murder according to KVUE News.
According to authorities, Villarreal brought Bacon home on the night of July 12 after the two met at downtown bar known as "Rain". One inside, Bacon then murdered Villarreal using both a knife and a hammer, before then stealing his iPod, iPhone, Xbox and Kindle. Authorities managed to track Bacon to the Belton hotel, where he sold Villarreal's stolen items before booking a room with his stolen credit card. By the time they were finally able to pinpoint his location, Bacon had already been sent to a Louisiana jail due to drug charges. He is currently being held there on $500,000 bond.
Villarreal's father told reporters that “we're Christians, and we believe in forgiveness. We forgive, but there's laws in the country, and he broke the laws in this country, and he has to pay for that.” Meanwhile, his close friend Bradley Barmer spoke to Bacon directly:
"David was stolen from us, and we're never going to get him back...David was such a generous person. He had no attachment to his stuff; he would have given it to you. There's just not a lot to take away from a senseless crime like this."