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Lincoln, Nebraska Mayor Extends City Benefits to Gay Married Couples

Same-sex spouses of city employees are set to receive medical, dental, life and vision insurance and the same retirement benefits that straight couples receive, the Lincoln Journal Star reports.

BeutlerMayor Chris Beutler approved the changes in light of new Blue Cross and Blue Shield policies prompted by the SCOTUS Windsor ruling.

The Journal Star:

Beutler’s decision to accept Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s definition of marriage, which includes same-sex marriages, opens the door to city benefits being extended to same-sex spouses of city employees. The city’s insurance carrier changed its definition of marriage following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The high court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor invalidated the portion of the federal act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibited federal benefits from being denied to legally married same-sex couples.

“The city accepted the new definition because it doesn't make sense to deny legally married same-sex couples the same insurance benefits that we grant to other legally married couples,” said Rick Hoppe, Beutler's chief of staff.

The change became effective on November 1. Nebraska has its own Defense of Marriage Act which county officials cited last month in refusing to extend pension benefits to same-sex spouses of employees, but the county must adhere to some new federal rules following the SCOTUS ruling. The ACLU filed suit in November challenging Nebraska's ban on gay marriage.


Florida Judge Who Vacated Ruling Striking Down Same-Sex Marriage Ban Rules Again In Favor Of Equality

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fd403811970b-250wiBroward County, Florida Judge Dale Cohen, who back in August struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, yesterday ruled in favor of marriage equality and in opposition to the state's discriminatory ban once again. Cohen had vacated his earlier ruling after Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi argued that the attorneys for the plaintiff in the case in question did not give the state enough time to appeal the case. That decision is now moot.

Though Cohen has once again stayed his ruling, a recent decision from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals not to extend the stay of another ruling against Florida's same-sex marriage ban means that the state's gay couples could begin saying "I do" as soon as January 5. From the Sun-Sentinel:

The case involved Heather Brassner, who wanted a divorce after getting a civil union in Vermont in 2002. But Florida's ban on same-sex marriages prevents the state from recognizing same-sex marriages or civil unions performed in other states. Therefore, Brassner couldn't get divorced in the state. [...]

On Monday, Cohen once again ruled [Florida's] ban unconstitutional and put his ruling on hold pending appeal.

Still, that will not affect the swiftly approaching deadline in a federal case in Tallahassee.

Federal judge Robert Hinkle overturned Florida's same-sex marriage ban on Aug. 21, and put his ruling on hold until Jan. 5.

A federal appeals court still needs to hear the case, and could reverse Hinkle's decision, but that will not happen until well after the Jan. 5. The only way the deadline can now be extended is if the full appellate court or the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to extend Hinkle's stay, which lawyers involved in the case consider a long shot.


Same-Sex Marriage Rights Bill Introduced In Chile

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Chilean lawmakers and a LGBT advocacy group, The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, introduced a bill on Saturday that will extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Chile reports the Washington BladeThe proposal that was introduced with the help of Congressman Gabriel Silber Romo of the Christian Democratic Party would change the wording of "a man and a woman," to "two people," in Chile’s marriage law. The proposal will also change "husband and wife," to "spouse," and amend the concept of procreation to "raise children." The Liberation advocacy group is hoping to eliminate discrimination and establish equality with the bill.

Said Liberation:

"With this bill we are looking to eradicate the historic discrimination that affects people simply for loving and living with someone of the same sex. Respect for family diversity is at the heart of this bill that we celebrate with backing throughout the political world and also with the broad support of citizen organizations."

The bill comes after the Chilean Senate voted in favor of legalizing same sex unions in October throughout the country, but members of the Chilean House of Deputies have yet to vote on the proposal.

The origin of the gay marriage bill began in 2012 when the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of lesbian Judge Karen Atala who lost custody of her three daughters to her ex-husband seven years earlier because of her sexual orientation. The Chilean government apologized to Atala, paid her $70,000 and provided medical and psychological care. The Liberation group then filed a lawsuit with the Court of Human Rights on behalf of three gay couples seeking marriage rights, although then-President Sebastián Piñera's government argued against the redefinition of marriage in a brief filed with the lawsuit in November 2013. 

However, current President Michelle Bachelet publicly supports the new bill, and members of the Liberation group and representatives of Bachelet's Cabinet discussed the marriage lawsuit in a meeting held in Santiago on Nov. 25. However, the outcome of the meeting, and what was discussed within it, have not been disclosed in full to the public. Rolando Jiménez, President of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, discussed Liberation's collaboration with members of Bachelet's Cabinet.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 1.28.11 PMSaid Jiménez:

"We want to contribute significantly to the government’s interest in amplifying the debate about these issues and thus advance the approval of this norm. The marriage equality law is part of a presidential agenda for the first time, and it therefore provides the best conditions for the advancement of equality. The current marriage law is homophobic because it excludes people based on their sexual orientation. Today we are moving forward toward the end of this unjust reality."


Out Austin City Council Candidate Targeted By Anti-gay Opponent Who Linked Homosexuality To Pedophilia

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An openly gay Austin City Council candidate is under attack for supporting marriage equality and a recently passed ordinance requiring single-stall bathrooms to be gender-neutral. 

Flannigan.JimmyJimmy Flannigan (above right), former president of the Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, is in a runoff for the District 6 Austin City Council seat on Dec. 16. 

Flannigan's opponent, Don Zimmerman (below right), is a tea party candidate and an anti-gay extremist who has compared homosexuality to pedophilia and incest. 

Stonewall Democrats of Austin provided Towleroad with a copy of the mailer sent by the anti-gay group Texas Values Action. (Texas Values Action is led by Jonathan Saenz, whose wife famously left him for a woman.)

The mailer, shown above, highlights the fact that Zimmerman opposes both same-sex marriage and the "Transgender Bathroom Ordinance," while Flannigan supports them. 

Stonewall Democrats of Austin issued the following statement in response to the mailer: 

“Now that the finish line to the City Council run-off is in sight, its ‘here we go again’ with inflammatory and divisive rhetoric intended to suggest that LGBTQ people are anti-family. Nothing could be further from the truth. So, wake up Mr. Saenz, you are in Austin and its 2014.

"Rather, anybody who has heard Jimmy Flannigan knows that he talks about the real family values that are important to Austin and District 6.  In Jimmy Flannigan’s Real Solutions for District 6, he has ideas for fighting traffic, tax relief, affordability, improving public safety, smart growth and streamlining city government.

"Jimmy Flannigan cares about and will work for all families, regardless of their composition or political affiliation. Flannigan’s ability to unify and lead is exactly what our community needs as we address the challenges that face our city. The Austin Chronicle, the Austin American Statesman and over 20 community organizations have endorsed Jimmy Flannigan as the best choice for District 6. We are proud to be among them.”

Zimmerman.DonIt's not the first time Flannigan, who's vying to become Austin's first gay council member since 2011, has been the target of anti-gay attacks. In the general election, another candidate sent a mailer highlighting the fact that Flannigan is single and once led the gay chamber. 

Zimmerman, meanwhile, wrote a column oppopsing same-sex marriage for Texas Insider last year. In the column, Zimmerman traced homosexuality to the Cretans who lived circa 1650 B.C. and "celebrated the practice of harpagmos – the ritual kidnapping of a noble boy by an adult male of the aristocratic class":

Unlike some of Jerry Sandusky’s victims, the Cretan boys were believed to be pubescent (teenage), having a father’s consent, and having some conditions for refusing the adult male’s advances.  In any case, cultural and legislative acceptance of homosexual partnerships isn’t recent – it’s ancient!

Todays’ Democrats should at least privately admit such harpagmos as progressive, since it would end another discriminatory barrier to “having sex with the one you love” – a barrier the rest of us call the “age of consent”.  Today’s Republicans might also consider – as GOP Senators newly consent to SSM, that ancient homosexual practices could be couched as conserving tradition. ... 

If the SSM principle really is discrimination, progressives should battle against opposite sex marriage discrimination – but in fact we hear no objection to laws prohibiting brother and sister, or mother and son, from being married to have a “stable, loving family." 

Read Zimmerman's full column here


Pope Francis: Just To Be Clear, Gay Marriage Isn't On the Table - VIDEO

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Seemingly backtracking on promises made for a more inclusive Catholic Church, Pope Francis has indicated that same-sex marriage is not on the agenda, reports the Independent.

Seen by some as a reformer, Francis earlier this year suggested the church might support civil unions for same-sex couples. Last month, he demoted anti-gay U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke.

At a meeting of bishops in October, it was declared that gay people have “gifts and qualities to offer.” However, following a backlash from conservatives, the church announced that the statement was part of a “working document” that did not reflect a change in the official Catholic stance on homosexuality.

In an interview published yesterday in La Nacion, Francis said that although the church must help parents to stand by their gay children, official Catholic acceptance of same-sex marriage is not being considered.

Vatican“What [the synod] did talk about was of how a family with a homosexual child, whether a son or a daughter, goes about educating that child, how the family bears up, how to help that family to deal with that somewhat unusual situation.

“That is to say, the synod addressed the family and the homosexual persons in relation to their families, because we come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. This happened to me several times in Buenos Aires.

“We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter.”

However, he added that “nobody mentioned homosexual marriage” at the synod because “it did not cross our minds”.

Last week, the Irish Catholic Bishops's Conference released a 16-page manifesto outlining the chruch's opposition to same-sex marriage.

Watch a report on the opening of the October synod, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Pope Francis: Just To Be Clear, Gay Marriage Isn't On the Table - VIDEO" »


Gay Marriage News Watch: FL, GA, AL, MS, LA, TX, KS - VIDEO

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AFER's Matt Baume reports on marriage equality's (hopefully) imminent arrival in Florida, Mississippi's gay marriage case getting fast tracked in the Fifth Circuit, the latest on the status of marriage in Kansas, and more.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Marriage News Watch: FL, GA, AL, MS, LA, TX, KS - VIDEO" »


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