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Chattanooga, TN Residents Vote to Repeal City's Domestic Partner Benefits for Gay Couples

A Chattanooga, Tennessee domestic partnership ordinance that would have provided health benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees has been repealed by a public vote.

The ordinance lost 13685 votes (62.6%) to 8184 (37.4%)

Andy_Berke_Chattanooga_NSHNewschannel9 reports:

Last year the Chattanooga City Council voted to allow the partners of city employees in domestic partnerships to get equal benefits. But the measure was forced to a public vote, and it appears the public disagrees with the 5-4 council vote. [...]

Following the vote Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke [pictured] said, “I have no doubt Chattanoogans value fairness and equality, and I am proud of the volunteers who spent nights and weekends to ensure our employees are treated equally. The City of Chattanooga’s non-discrimination ordinance was repealed tonight, but I want every City employee to know one thing -- your work is valued and you are important to the future of our community.  Regardless of the results tonight, my Administration will continue to hire and promote the best people who provide excellent service to our constituents."

Human Rights Campaign Deputy Field Director Jeremy Pittman released the following statement:

“Despite this hurtful and disappointing result tonight, we know that fair-minded Chattanoogans and people across Tennessee are ready to keep fighting until full equality reaches every corner of the state and every corner of this country. As LGBT equality moves forward across this country, this work isn’t over until every American can expect the same decent treatment under the law.”


Members Of Ugandan Parliament Sign Petition To Swiftly Reinstate Anti-Homosexuality Act

Members of the Ugandan parliament held a press conference yesterday to announce their plan to bypass rules of procedure in order to vote on and reinstate the anti-homosexuality act (struck down by the Ugandan constitutional court last Friday). Led by Latif Sebagala, the group of MPs stated that they were collecting signatures (pictured below, in a tweet from Parliament Watch) in order to build support and petition for a reconsideration of the law.

Petition1Sebagala seems to believe that House speaker Rebecca Kadaga should be able to suspend the rules of procedure, which would otherwise necessitate starting the legislative process over from the beginning. The court's decision last week was predicated on parliament's breaking of Ugandan law, though, so it is unclear just how viable an option Sebagala's plan would be. Supporters of the bill are conflicted about his risky strategy but are still adamant about the anti-homosexuality stance.

Buzzfeed reports:

A group of MPs led by Latif Sebagala said the petition for a re-vote had already collected 100 signatures from MPs. He said that by Friday he believed he would have signatures from a majority of parliament...

In a phone interview, the bill’s original sponsor, MP David Bahati, would not directly answer several questions about how soon he wanted to see the bill brought to the floor and whether it should be passed under rules of procedure...

“Any bill will pass through the procedure, and by the rules of procedure we will follow them and we will pass it,” Bahati said, adding, “We can suspend any of the rules if we think it is important.”

“Whether it’s tomorrow or a week or a month, we will take whatever time is required to make sure that the future of our children is protected, the family is protected, and the sovereignty nation of the protected,” Bahati said. “The issues of technicalities is not a big deal to anybody. But the big deal … is that homosexuality is not a human right here in Uganda.”

Whether or not the bill can be passed quickly, Ugandan officials risk increased tensions and financial restrictions with the United States and other global organizations. Still, the vehemence of Sebagala and the other MP's is disturbing: not only did they share news of the petition at the press conference, they also reportedly broke into song:

Petition2


Freedom To Marry Wants Young, Pro-Equality Republicans To Run For Delegate Spots At 2016 GOP Convention

FreedomToMarryFreedom to Marry recognizes the shifting tide toward a pro-marriage equality Republican Party, and they aim to capitalize on the demographic most ready to take the plunge. In a series of meetings in Iowa this week, FtM will encourage Republicans under the age of 30 to run for coveted delegate position slots at the 2016 GOP Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Their participation would help the party move on important changes in language, from anti-gay to pro-conversation, which could be key should the Supreme Court not decide on a same-sex marriage case in the coming year.

Politico reports:

“It’s time for the party to modernize on this issue,” said Margaret Hoover, a Republican strategist, CNN commentator and native Iowan who is part of the Freedom to Marry delegation making the trip to the key early presidential state...

“We want for the presidential process in 2016 [that gay marriage will] be an issue nationally that Republicans are debating,” said Tyler Deaton, the campaign manager for the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry effort.

He added, “Our intention is to bring a record number of young delegates to the convention … and make some history.”

Cleveland2016The Republican Party has consistently received flack for its exclusivity, particularly against young people, women, and the LGBT community. Freedom to Marry hopes to achieve a more even-keeled approach by shifting the party's platform.

“We recognize that there are diverse and sincerely held views on civil marriage within the Party, and that support for allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry has grown substantially in our own Party,” reads some of the proposed language.

“Given this journey that so many Americans, including Republicans, are on, we encourage and welcome a thoughtful conversation among Republicans about the meaning and importance of marriage, and commit our Party to respect for all families and fairness and freedom for all Americans.”

Those hoping for a younger, more-center-leaning GOP in 2016 have their work cut out for them.


Pennsylvania Clerk's Request For 'En Banc' Hearing To Gain Standing In Gay Marriage Case Denied

Theresa Santai-Gaffney, the Schuylkill County clerk who was denied standing in Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage case and received a "no" from the Supreme Court upon asking for same-sex marriages to be halted, has once again been turned down. This time the Third Circuit court of appeals denied Santai-Gaffney's request for an "en banc" hearing to gain standing in the case. An "en banc" hearing would up the amount of third circuit judges considering her case from three to fourteen.

SantaiGaffneyLGBTQ Nation reports:

On July 3, a three judge panel of the Third Circuit rejected Santai-Gaffney’s bid to gain standing in the case, affirming the District Court’s ruling that “if the highest elected official in the commonwealth chooses to abide by our decision, it defies credulity that we would permit a single citizen to stand in for him to perfect an appeal.”

...

Santai-Gaffney, who is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom — a conservative legal group also representing clerks in Virginia and Oklahoma same-sex marriage cases — asked the U.S. Supreme Court last month to stop same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania. Without comment, Justice Samuel Alito rejected that motion.

Santai-Gaffney is expected to return to the Supreme Court to appeal the Third Circuit decision.

Some people never learn...


Focus on the Family: Christians Are Becoming 'Slaves' to Pro-LGBT Equality 'Tyrants' - VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 9.45.04 AM

In a new video about the "unhealthy, modern" separation of church and state, Focus on the Family's CitizenLink host Stuart Shepard uses some recent examples of anti-gay discrimination, such as the Colorado baker who refused service to a gay couple, to claim that pro-LGBT laws have created the 'tyrant' government preying on religious liberties that our Founding Fathers warned about.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

[via Good As You]

Continue reading "Focus on the Family: Christians Are Becoming 'Slaves' to Pro-LGBT Equality 'Tyrants' - VIDEO" »


Nepal To Consider Re-Criminalizing Homosexuality

AcharyaNepal Justice Minister Narahari Acharya [pictured right] is seeking to enact new anti-gay laws re-criminalizing homosexuality, reports the Nepal Times.

In 2007, Nepal decriminalized homosexuality and ruled in favor of protections for the equal rights of LGBTI people. However, the law ministry is currently preparing to push anti-gay laws that will punish gay sex with three years imprisonment.  The law would also prohibit same-sex unions.

Writing in Nepal Times, Sunil Bapu Pant [pictured below], the country’s first openly gay politician, highlights the difficulties faced by LGBTI people in Nepal:

When taxing citizens the government does not discriminate, but when assuring citizens of their rights, the government wants to know your gender. And if you are third gender, you cannot go to school, you cannot get a passport, you cannot get married, you cannot apply for job, you cannot join the police/army/bureaucracy, you cannot access a loan or development programs, you cannot open your business or register your property.

Addressing the proposed new anti-gay laws, Pant continues:

Pant“This new draft provision of civil and criminal codes prepared by the Law Ministry not only defines homosexuality, but also oral and anal sex among heterosexuals, as ‘unnatural’ acts. The definition of rape is narrowed only to women.

"Many third genders are forced into heterosexual marriage, ruining both lives. Codifying such forced and heterosexualised relationships to third genders serves only to create needless suffering to our families and relatives. The notion that third gender and same-sex relationships are unnatural is absurd and wrong, as proven by our historical and religious texts. The more we exclude and isolate LGBT people, the more we hurt everyone. Because if a person has no right to go to school, no right to get jobs, cannot contribute to the economy of the country, cannot contribute to the culture, they become burden to society.

"All Nepalis who believe in equality and tolerance must raise their voices. The right to justice of all marginalised peoples is under threat from a regressive state. They are going to be excluded, marginalized, discriminated against, criminalised and demonised."


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