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Alabama Court Declares State Ban on Gay Sex Unconstitutional

Today the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals declared the state's sodomy law unconstitutional.

Alabama-mapJurist reports:

The appeal was brought by a Dallas County, Alabama, man who was charged with engaging in consensual sodomy with another man and ultimately sentenced to 12 months in jail for "sexual misconduct." The Alabama statute prohibiting such conduct states that "consent is no defense" to a prosecution under this law and the appeals court revealed that the commentary to the statute shows that the law was specifically enacted "to make all homosexual conduct criminal." 

Though such laws are moot considering that the U.S. Supreme Court declared all sodomy laws unconstituional in the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, eleven states still have such laws on their books including Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

In fact, just two months ago Louisiana voted to keep their unconstitutional law on the books, and even arrested men the year before under its unconstitutional provisions. Russian President Vladimir Putin has pointed to the existence of such laws in the U.S. to deflect criticism of his country's odious anti-gay laws.

Even though such laws criminalize any consensual anal or oral intercourse between adults, the laws are usually used to persecute LGBT individuals. On the bright side, however, Virginia voted last month to repeal their state's sodomy law


Wednesday Speed Read: Wisconsin, Eric Cantor, Adam Ebbin, Ryan Fecteau, Alabama, Obama

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

WisconsinSEVENTH CIRCUIT CONSIDERS WISCONSIN:

State officials and attorneys representing same-sex plaintiff couples have been given until 5 p.m. today to file briefs concerning the state’s request for an emergency stay of a federal district court decision last Friday, striking down Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports the state office of vital records is not processing marriage licenses for same-sex couples until it gets a go-ahead from the state attorney general.

CantorERIC CANTOR LOSES PRIMARY:

In a surprise upset, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost his primary Tuesday for an eighth term. According to various media in Virginia, winner Dave Brat, an economics professor at a small college, hammered Cantor on his willingness to raise the debt ceiling, end the government shutdown, and support some reform of immigration laws. Brat has rebuffed characterizations of himself as either a liberal or as a Tea Party member. His campaign website states that he believes “all individuals are entitled to equal rights,” but it also says, in bold letting, that Brat will “protect the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of marriage, and will oppose any governmental intrusion upon the conscience of people of faith.”

EbbinGAY CANDIDATE LOSES IN VIRGINIA:

Openly gay Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin placed third in a 10-candidate field in the Democratic primary to replace U.S. House Rep. Jim Moran from northern Virginia. Ebbin garnered almost 14 percent of the vote compared to winner former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer’s 46 percent. A former aide to Barney Frank, Mark Levine, took seven percent. Beyer is considered generally support of equal rights for LGBT people. His campaign website expresses support for “full equality.” Oddly, it also promises that Beyer would “work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.”

GAY CANDIDATE WINS IN MAINE:

Openly gay Maine State Rep. Ryan Fecteau breezed to victory in his Democratic primary Tuesday, winning 65 percent of the vote to represent his district in the middle of the state.

Aaron-brushACLU FILES LAWSUIT IN ALABAMA:

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alabama Tuesday, challenging the state’s refusal to recognize marriage licenses obtained by same-sex couples in other states. The lawsuit, Aaron-Brush v. Bentley, is the third lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying.

FUMBLING FOR AN ANSWER:

ObamaDuring a student-oriented Q & A on Tumblr Tuesday, President Obama seemed to struggle with a question about securing equal rights for transsexual students. The question posed to him –through the moderator, Tumblr President David Karp -- noted that, just last month, the U.S. Department of Education released guidelines to clarify for schools receiving federal aid that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination “extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.”

“What do you see as the next steps to ensure equal treatment of trans people in schools in America?”

The president began with a rambling recollection of his meeting Monday with the men’s and women’s basketball teams from the University of Connecticut, noting that Title IX has helped make college women athletes competitive and mentioning that the First Lady puts him to shame when they work out together, before eventually landing on one sentence: “The fact that we are applying [Title IX] to transgender students means that they are going to be in a position to assert their rights if and when they see that they are being discriminated on their college campuses, and that could manifest itself in a whole variety of ways.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Gay Couple, ACLU File Suit Challenging Alabama's Gay Marriage Ban

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April and Ginger Aaron-Brush

The ACLU and the ACLU of Alabama filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court in Birmingham on behalf of  April and Ginger Aaron-Brush who were wed in Massachusetts but want their marriage recognized in their home state.

Said April Aaron-Brush in a press release: “The word marriage, in itself, brings validity and respect to any committed relationship. One's marriage status shouldn't change simply by crossing state lines. Gay couples seek to be married for the very same reasons that opposite-sex couples choose to be married-- love, honor and commitment.”

Said Susan Watson of the ACLU of Alabama: “All loving and committed couples deserve the dignity and protections that come with marriage, no matter where they live,” “It’s time for marriage equality to come to Alabama.”

Here is the ACLU's page on the case.

The ACLU is currently litigating for marriage equality in 13 states.

There is another case challenging Alabama's ban on gay marriage which was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center in February which seeks to overturn the ban and seeks recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

There are also two others, filed in May 2014 and March 2013.


Friday Speed Read: ENDA, Utah, NOM, IRS, Puerto Rico, Patricia Todd, Uganda, Immigration

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

Finalvote_endaTWO MORE GROUPS DISS ENDA:

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality Illinois issued separate statements Thursday, joining the chorus of those who say the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) “falls short.” Equality Illinois says that, while it supports ENDA, its members “strongly oppose including any exemptions that would give LGBT people less protection than other protected groups already enjoy under federal civil rights law.” NCLR said it is “confident the current discriminatory religious exemption in ENDA will not be part of the final legislation,” but added it would “not continue to support ENDA if it is not changed to be consistent with Title VII’s religious exemption."

UtahTENTH CIRCUIT STAYS RECOGNITION ORDER:

The Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed Thursday to a temporary stay of a federal district court judge’s ruling that Utah must recognize, for the purpose of state benefits, the 1,300 marriages performed for same-sex couples in the state prior to a U.S. Supreme Court stay of a decision striking the state ban. The appeals court is expected to decide by June 12 whether to grant a more permanent stay, in Evans v. Utah, until the Tenth Circuit can rule on the state’s ban, in Kitchen v. Herbert.

NOM-logoJUDGE DISMISSES MOST OF NOM-IRS LAWSUIT:

A federal district court judge in Virginia on June 3 dismissed most of a lawsuit by the National Organization for Marriage that claimed an employee of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service deliberately leaked a confidential tax document from NOM to the Human Rights Campaign. Judge James Cacheris said NOM failed to provide any evidence that the disclosure was deliberate and politically motivated; but, he said the IRS may bear some responsibility for the legal expenses NOM incurred as a result of that error and scheduled that issue for trial June 30. Story to follow later today.

RodriguezLESBIAN NOMINATED TO P.R. SUPREME COURT:

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla on Wednesday nominated lesbian attorney Maite Oronoz Rodríguez to serve on the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. Rodríguez is director of legal affairs for the city of San Juan, served as deputy solicitor general for PR and briefly as its acting solicitor general. Lambda Legal issued a statement applauding the nomination of the “first openly lesbian judge” to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. The nomination now goes to the PR senate for confirmation.

ToddMORE ELECTION WINNERS:

Openly gay Alabama state Representative Patricia Todd beat out two Democratic challengers in a primary race Tuesday, seeking her third term to represent Birmingham. Todd, the state’s first and only openly gay elected official, took 64 percent of the vote. And Richard Garcia was elected mayor of Long Beach, California, becoming the city’s first openly gay mayor.

Chad_griffinHRC URGES OBAMA ACTION AGAINST UGANDA:

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin sent President Obama a letter June 2, urging him to take “immediate, concrete” action to “illustrate the United States’ commitment to protecting human rights in Uganda.” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act in February. President Obama said at the time that the law would “complicate” U.S. relations with Uganda and the administration began an “internal review” of those relations.  “Delay is putting lives at risk,” wrote Griffin. “…The world is waiting for action….”

GROUPS URGE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION:

The Human Rights Campaign and 14 other groups signed onto a letter to President Obama June 3, urging him to take “swift executive action to suspend mass immigration detention and deportations.” The letter says Immigration and Custom Enforcement “has failed to take adequate steps to protect LGBT people from abuse and inhumane isolation in detention centers….”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Gay Men Injured in Stabbing Hate Crime Outside Alabama Nightclub: VIDEO

Mangrum

Two gay men were stabbed multiple times outside a Huntsville, Alabama nightclub that was hosting a gay and lesbian night on Saturday, WAFF reports:

The incident started just before 3 a.m. in the parking lot of Classic Wheels Lounge on Memorial Parkway. Most patrons were leaving, but instead of going home, two men had to go to the hospital.

Classic Wheels Lounge has hosted alternative night for more than three years, but two guests who pulled up were far from Friday night's normal crowd. Owner C.T. Harris said the two men began yelling anti-gay slurs.

"It was scary," Montero Ford, one of the victims, said. "I didn't know gay bashing still existed."

One man stayed in the car while the other went on a rampage, stabbing two gay men, Ford and Mautravion Mangrum. Ford said one of his stab wounds was just inches from his heart.

"A stranger could have took my life over my sexuality," Ford said.

Watch the report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Huntsville

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'State And Union' Follows The Hardships Of Alabama's Lesbian-Led Families - VIDEO

Les_fam_1

Right now, a new documentary about lesbian families living in Alabama is raising money on IndieGoGo. It’s called State and Union and it follows several Birmingham families a year after the Supreme Court struck down section three of the so-called Defense Of Marriage Act.

Like most states with marriage bans, Alabama has a high number of same-sex families, the state is far from gay-friendly. The state’s Chief Justice believes gay marriage is Satanic and the State House wants a gay marriage ban in the U.S. constitution.

The film’s crowd-funding campaign explains the challenges of being a gay parent in the state:

If you are straight, or live in a Blue State, you may not ever have to think about your right to adopt your partner’s child, your ability to have a fair hearing in family court, whether there is a form for your family to register for school, whether you will be denied housing, or if you will lose your job, or whether your spouse will inherit your joint estate when you die... These families do.

During a year in which much of the country celebrates the fall of DOMA and the advent of equality, families in Alabama express excitement… as well as increased frustration about the lack of material gains for the Deep South.

Even though there are an estimated 100,000 LGBTQ individuals in Alabama, help from National pro-LGBTQ groups has been slow to arrive. Indeed, Alabama receives only $0.31 in grant funding per LGBT person, compared with more than $10 per person in the Northeast.

But not all the news is bad… [especially] with Freedom to Marry, Family Equality Council, and Human Rights Campaign all announcing Southern Initiatives in the past year. AND Rates of acceptance of LGBTQ issues are changing faster in the Deep South than in many other places, with more than 36% of people in Alabama now reporting a favorable view of marriage equality. While that doesn’t exactly keep pace with the rest of the country, it is a shift of 16% in less than 10 years.

In addition to those gains, last July an Alabama judge granted an Alabama lesbian visitation rights to her four children, and earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

The film’s creators say they hope the project will help document life in the highly conservative state at a time when so much is changing, and help start conversations about the inequalities gay citizens face there. Among the families, the film also follows the family of Patricia Todd, the state’s first openly gay legislator.

Watch the trailer AFTER THE JUMP

Les_fam_2

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