Two close friends at Waukegan High School were crowned homecoming king and queen this weekend. Eric Irazarry and Ariana Reiff, a competitive cheerleader and future veterinarian respectively, also happen to be out gay students.
The Lake County News Sun reports:
“Ariana and I are both out and open about our sexuality,” Irizarry said. “Our attitude is we are who we are and if that bothers people, that’s OK, but we have so many friends who accept us for who we are.”
“There are some people saying we shouldn’t have won, or that we won because we are gay, but I think our classmates chose us because they know us, and they chose us just as people,” Reiff added.
“Winning this makes me feel good, because it shows me that people care for me,” said Irizarry, who plans to go to college and study business management and marketing. “They understand who I am, and they’re giving me respect. That makes me happy.”
Congratulations to Reiff and Irizarry!
They follow other LGBT high school students around the country who have been feeling the support of their classmates in such elections. Just yesterday Towleroad reported about a New Hampshire high school's transgender homecoming king. However, while student peers may be piling on the accolades, it is important to remember the bureaucratic and real-world implications of these expanding social boundaries; some students have not been allowed to run, while others have been harassed after winning the crown. Here's hoping that the Waukegan students can keep their heads up and feel proud of their victory.
After a nation-wide campaign that brought thousands of protesters on both sides of the issue out into the streets of Paris earlier this year, the French legislature approved a marriage equality bill by an overwhelming vote that was signed into law by President François Hollande the following month, making France the 14th state to allow same-sex couples to wed.
But some same-sex couples are discovering that they may be barred from marrying because of a quirk in French marital law, as RFI English reports:
Frenchwoman Lise and her Polish girlfriend Agnieszka have been together for three years. They were looking forward to getting married after France this year became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage, following months of bitter debate.
"We were also really happy because it meant that we were accepted by the society," Agnieszka said. "Then our relationship can be recognised, and we are not freaks or…"
"Different," Lise added.
But under a bilateral agreement signed between Poland and France in 1967, Agnieszka falls under Polish marriage law even while in France. Since Poland doesn’t recognise gay marriage, a French magistrate would have to overrule Polish law to approve the wedding.
Ten other countries fall into the same category as Poland for the purposes of French marriage law for same-sex couples: Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Kosovo, Laos, Montenegro, Morocco, Serbia, Slovenia and Tunisia. In a memo issued last week to French civil servants, the justice ministry wrote, "When a marriage is planned between two people of the same sex, and one of the future spouses is a national of one of these countries, the civil registrar cannot perform the marriage." Requests from such couples must be denied and sent to a magistrate, who will determine if the couple can wed on a case-by-case basis.
Christiane Taubira, France's justice minister and a strong proponent of marriage equality, said she would consider reconsidering the rules regarding binational same-sex marriages so that officials aren't specifically instructed to refuse couples' requests.
Last month, a French-Moroccan same-sex couple's marriage request in the town of Chambéry was refused on the couple's wedding day--after friends and family had travelled from Morocco and Belgium to celebrate the occasion. The couple plans to challenge the decision in court, since France does not enforce another aspect of Morocco's marriage laws that prohibit Muslims from wedding non-Muslims who have not converted.
Rachel Maddow On VA Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Cuccinelli: He's Had A 'Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad' Day - VIDEO
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC's resident master of witticism, ripped into Virginia's gubernatorial candidate, and current attorney general Ken Cuccinelli on Monday night, tracking his terrible day of politics through a few successive steps.
First, headlines blared across the nation that the Supreme Court had denied his request to stay the ruling from his state deeming its sodomy laws unconstitutional. Second, Cuccinelli had to deal with the repercussions of a previous decision to host Texas Senator Ted Cruz who has now become a poster boy for the government shutdown (which has hit VA particularly hard). Finally, Cuccinelli has fallen down in the polls, sitting nearly 10 points behind his democratic adversary.
As Maddow said, Cuccinelli has faced a lot of "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad political" developments in the last 24 hours. With his staunchly conservative social politics, can we really feel bad for the guy?
As previously reported, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown made a secret trip to Russia in June to meet with members of the Russian Duma. Joined by five French-Catholic anti-gay activists, Brown advocated for legislation that would ban gay foreigners, including gay Americans, from adopting Russian children. However, doing so may have been a violation of U.S. law.
Fred Karger, President of Rights Equal Rights, has written to Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General Eric Holder asking them to investigate whether Brown's trip violated the Logan Act. Passed in 1799 and amended as recently as 1994, the Logan Act is a "federal statute making it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States":
"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."
Brown even spoke to Russia 1’s Vesti news program while in Moscow. According to Right Wing Watch, Brown told reporters:
"Right now you’re having the fight about adoption, but the adoption issue is indivisible from the marriage issue. If you don’t defend your values now, I’m afraid we’re going to see very negative developments all over the world."
Five days after Brown gave a "remarkable speech" in the Russian Duma, that same body passed a bill that banned gay couples and single parents in countries that allow gay marriage from adopting Russian children.
It is unclear at this time whether Secretary Kerry or Attorney General Holder will investigate Brown's trip and if so whether they will level charges against him.
You can read Karger's full letter HERE.
On September 27th, a New Jersey judge, Mary Jacobsen, ruled that same-sex marriage must be made legal now that the federal government recognizes it. Now, Chris Christie and his administration have made a last ditch effort to delay the legalization of marriage, which would go into effect on October 21st. Governor Christie, who believes that marriage should be put to the ballot and vetoed a marriage equality bill last year, filed with the state on Monday.
The Associated Press reports:
In a filing Monday, the state says allowing gay couples to marry starting in two weeks would make it difficult for the state's top court to reverse course should it agree with the Christie administration's anti-gay marriage stand.
The administration wants implementation of the ruling by Judge Mary Jacobson in Trenton delayed while higher courts consider the appeal.
Gay rights advocates say no stay should be granted because couples are hurt by a delay. Monday's filing came in response to their opposition to the delay.
What do you think of Christie's argument? Does it hold water, or will Judge Jacobsen's ruling stand?
Gathered in Anaheim, California for the party's statewide convention, members of the California Republican Party approved a resolution on Sunday supporting the repeal of AB1266, also known as the School Success and Opportunity Act, signed into law earlier this year by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. The law provides sweeping protections for transgender students in California's public schools. However, the bill quickly drew the ire of the right and the Tea Party in particular. Opponents of the bill hope to put the issue on the 2014 ballot and repeal the measure via referendum. Think Progress reports:
The repeal effort has been spearheaded by a group known as the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), which may have been operating illegally due to not providing the IRS with the necessary financial information to remain tax-exempt. The National Organization for Marriage’s Frank Schubert is advising CRI’s “Privacy For All Students” petitioning campaign, which NOM in turn has endorsed in violation of its own mission statement. According to the campaign, it harms society when “being male and being female are stripped from societal norms and we’re guided into a genderless future.”
However, not all Republicans at the GOP convention were enthused about fighting this bill. The resolution passed only by a split vote and vice-chairman for the California Republican Party Greg Gandrud warned about the dangers of going after a transgender rights bill when the party is looking to expand its message and its membership. Gandrud told BuzzFeed:
"There were a lot of people who voted no, like myself, Log Cabin
Republicans, and our straight allies,” Gandrud said. “I am openly gay,
and I want to build the party so that we can build up some authority on
other issues like keeping taxes low and fixing roads and making sure we
have reliable drinking water in California.”
Gandrud accused supporters of the referendum as acting selfishly by “obsessing over social issues” they can use to activate their base of donors. “Some people are very emotional about it,” he said. “They are the same people who opposed marriage equality and they are just conservative on social issues. They are just running out of issues and they could raise a lot of money on those issues and they had to find a new boogeyman and that is transgender kids.”
Acknowledging some of the concerns voiced by opponents of the law, he said, “There’s nothing in the current law that prevents somebody who really isn’t transgender to go and use any bathroom.” Because the law does not require transgender students to provide any certification from physicians, he said, “The law opens up the door for a lot of abuse and I can see how that can happen. But we do have to recognize that there are transgender children and they — like gay and lesbian children — deserve protections.”