BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service
ILLINOIS LAW ENACTED:
Several county clerks around Illinois opened their offices Sunday so that same-sex couples could obtain marriage licenses on the first day the state legislature’s new marriage equality law went into effect, June 1. Clerks in 16 counties have been issuing licenses to same-sex couples since February, when a federal district court judge ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The Chicago Sun Times reported yesterday that 1,635 same-sex couples had married by the close of business Friday.
REFERENDUM FAILS IN MARYLAND:
Equality Maryland leaders were at the Maryland Secretary of State’s office until midnight Saturday, waiting to see if opponents of a recently signed law protecting transgender citizens would be subjected to a referendum. But midnight came and opponents delivered no signatures, so there will be no referendum this year. A message posted on the group’s website indicates it came up 1,000 signatures short of the number it needed to proceed to the ballot. Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, credited her group’s aggressive approach to stopping the referendum. “We had supporters across the state standing right next to petition gatherers and we saw first-hand voters change their minds and not sign the mean-spirited petition,” said Evans. “While some criticized our approach, we felt an obligation to the thousands of transgender Marylanders and the people who love and support them to do everything in our power to defend it, not just be quiet and wait to see what happens.” The new law is due to take effect October 1.
President Obama issued a presidential proclamation of June as LGBT Pride Month, noting “As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect, our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well.” It also noted that “we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.”
NO HINT OF EXECUTIVE ORDER:
Any hope that some might have harbored that President Obama would take the opportunity of Pride Month to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors appeared to be dampened by the president’s Pride Month proclamation. “LGBT workers in too many states can be fired just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity;” the proclamation says, adding, “I continue to call on the Congress to correct this injustice by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”
PUBLIC SUPPORT GROWING:
A Gallup Poll released Friday indicates that 63 percent of Americans support the right of gay couples to adopt children. And a separate Gallup Poll Saturday showed 58 percent consider “gay and lesbian relations” to be morally acceptable. Gallup noted that, when the adoption question was first asked in 1992, only 29 percent supported the right of gay couples to adopt. “Americans have reached consensus faster about same-sex couples adopting children than about support for gay marriage in the last 20 years,” states Gallup, noting that only 55 percent of the public supports allowing same-sex couples to marry.
MALONEY TRAVEL COMPANIONS:
Gay U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) was part of a six-member Congressional tour of Afghanistan over the Memorial Day weekend with right-wing Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma. One of the three Democrats along for the ride was Rep. John Barrow of Georgia who scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional scorecard.
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