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Don't Panic: Heterosexual Marriage In Ireland Won't Be Banned If Gay Marriage is Legalized - VIDEO

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Ireland’s government has changed the Irish-language version of the wording on the upcoming May referendum on same-sex marriage following fears that heterosexual marriage could have been found unconstitutional, reports the Irish Times.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny (above, right) confirmed earlier this week the Irish-language version of the amendment has been changed to bring clarity to the amendment.

The English version of the original text is:

“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

When directly translated back into English, the original Irish translation “Féadfaidh beirt, cibé acu is fir nó mná iad, conradh a dhéanamh i leith pósadh de réir dlí” reads:

“A couple may, whether they are men or women, make a contract of marriage in accordance with law.”

The use of the plural allowed for an interpretation of the wording that it distinguished only between female couples and male couples, but not between same-sex and heterosexual couples.

The new wording in Irish is "Féadfaidh beirt gan beann ar a gnéis conradh pósta a dhéanamh de reir dlí”, which is a more literal translation of the original English version.

Watch a very sweet Irish pro-marriage equality ad, AFTER THE JUMP..

Continue reading "Don't Panic: Heterosexual Marriage In Ireland Won't Be Banned If Gay Marriage is Legalized - VIDEO" »


The Other SCOTUS Case We Should Care About

By KELLAN BAKER and KATIE KEITH

Edited by ARI EZRA WALDMAN.

Healthcare.gov_aapiThere is another Supreme Court case that matters to the LGBT community. Last week, the justices met to hear arguments in King v. Burwell, and to decide, once again, the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Health reform may not seem like an equality issue, but it is. We are more likely to benefit from the law because we’re more likely to be low-income, uninsured, and discriminated against in the health care system. But the Affordable Care Act is already working for our community by addressing these gaps: between 2013 and 2014, the uninsured rate for low- and middle-income LGBT people fell from 34 percent to 26 percent. And, of those who purchased coverage through the marketplace, 48 percent are paying less than $100/month in premiums. Although LGBT people are still disproportionately likely to be uninsured, the law is having a significant positive impact—just ask our friends Aurora in Houston or Robbie in Nashville.

So what is at issue in King v. Burwell? The petitioners—vocal opponents of the Affordable Care Act—claim that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) misinterpreted a four-word phrase in the Affordable Care Act to incorrectly offer health insurance subsidies to eligible Americans in every state. They claim that subsidies should only be available to people purchasing coverage through a marketplace “established by the state.” Since 34 states are relying on the federal government to operate their marketplaces, the petitioners argue that subsidies should not be available in those states. If they succeed, millions of people—including an estimated three-quarters of a million LGBT people, according to data analyzed by the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute—will lose access to financial assistance that can help them afford health insurance. As a result, a decision in King v. Burwell that eliminates these subsidies has the potential to wreak havoc on the lives of millions of newly insured Americans and destabilize state insurance markets across the country.

We’ll discuss the arguments, what to expect, and the impact of the decision AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "The Other SCOTUS Case We Should Care About" »


Over 300 Businesses Sign Amicus Brief Supporting Marriage Equality

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Hundreds of different companies and organizations including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Disney have signed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court advocating for a repeal of laws that block same-sex couples from marrying. Outlined in the brief is the very real concern that statewide bans on gay unions have a chilling effect on local businesses.

Out Leadership is an LGBT is an advocacy firm working to promoting the LGBT presence within different industries including law, insurance, and finance. OPEN Finance, a New York-based financial coalition, fights for workplace equality through impactful policy changes. Of the 379 companies that signed the brief 33 are members of Out Leadership, OPEN Finance, or both organizations. Obergefell v. Hodges, they affirm, could represent a critical step in the right direction towards a more egalitarian society with very tangible economic impacts.

“History is about to be made, and this is possibly the last chance firms will have to express themselves before the Supreme Court rules on whether Americans have a civil right to marriage equality,” Todd Sears, Founder and Principal of Out Leadership explained in an exclusive to Towleroad. “ Markets are rational. The irrationality of discrimination has never sat well for Wall Street. We’re not surprised to see Out Leadership firms leading the way on this issue of fundamental equality in our country.”

In essence, the brief explains, bans on gay marriage create a multitude of logistical and economic hurdles that hurt the business interests of companies looking to do large-scale work in various states. More than just denying gay couples their civil rights to marriage, these bans can have detrimental impacts on local economies.

"Our campaign leveraged OPEN Finance’s deep connections across Wall Street [and those] leaders sent a powerful message to their firms’ senior management: we need you to take action,” “Ultimately, the result is increased loyalty to our employers, and a great sense of pride for what our leaders have done to support LGBT equality."

Read the full brief and see which companies joined in the fight for LGBT equality, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Arkansas Cities Unite To Protest Discriminatory Law Banning Local LGBT Protections: VIDEO

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Residents in Little Rock and North Little Rock, Arkansas are taking matters into their own hands to protect the rights of gay people after the state last month passed a law banning local governments from expanding anti-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

On Monday night, leaders in North Little Rock unanimously voted to revise city policy to state their commitment to fair and equal opportunities regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information or marital status.

Meanwhile in Little Rock, businesses are leading the charge against House Bill 1228 which would allow companies to refuse service based on religious principles. Business owners have started posting a small decal (above) that reads "we serve and hire equally" on their front windows.

Ed David, the owner restaurant The Faded Rose, said:

"The only people we discriminate against are bad actors. I know what a bitter feeling it is when somebody turns you away and I just swore I'd never do that."

Republican Rep. and 1228 sponsor Bob Ballinger (above) said that although he is “not in the business of judging other people,” “religious protections are something that's necessary.”

Arkansas is the second state to pass such a measure. Tennessee has a similar law on the books that was passed in 2011.

Watch a report on the Little Rock protest against House Bill 1228, AFTER THE JUMP...

Previously, "Conway, Arkansas Approves LGBT Rights Ordinance Despite Discriminatory New State Law" [tlrd]

Continue reading "Arkansas Cities Unite To Protest Discriminatory Law Banning Local LGBT Protections: VIDEO" »


HRC Throws Support Behind Utah Anti-Discrimination Bill Backed By Mormon Church

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 2.37.26 PMThe Human Rights Campaign today announced its support for a proposed non-discrimination bill in Utah that would extend employment and housing discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity today. HRC President Chad Griffin is pleased with the support behind the bill, including backing from the Mormon Church.

Said Griffin: 

"This is an extraordinary moment for the state of Utah, for LGBT Americans, and for the Mormon Church, which, by supporting this legislation, shows a willingness to align with others on the right side of history. The desire exhibited by the Mormon Church to work toward common ground should serve as a model for other faith traditions here in the United States."

The bill, S.B. 296, is headed to its first hearing tomorrow and contains three consequential provisions. In short, the bill states employers, landlords and property owners are prohibited from denying jobs and housing based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and no religious exemptions from non-discrimination provisions will be permitted for individuals or for-profit businesses. Should Utah legislators approve the measure, the state would join 21 other states that have explicit non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, and 18 other states that have explicit gender identity protections. HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow hopes Utah legislators move quickly on the matter.

Said Warbelow:

"This is a very encouraging step for all of us committed to equality. With just a short time remaining in the state legislative session, we hope for quick and positive action on this important measure."

The HRC had spurned a previously proposed non-discrimination initiative that was supported by Mormon leaders. Many critics, including the HRC, found the proposed initiative's more robust exemptions for religious organizations unacceptable.


Russia Wants To Block Benefits For Families of Gay U.N. Employees

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Russia has demanded that the United Nations (UN) reverse last year’s decision to offer marital benefits to LGBT employees, reports Foreign Policy.

Speaking on Monday morning at a UN budget committee, Russian diplomat Sergey Khalizov said that the administrative ruling announced by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (above) last June violates a General Assembly resolution that left it to UN employees’ governments to determine whether employees are eligible for spousal benefits.

2000px-Flag_of_the_United_Nations.svgRussia’s spokesman told Foreign Policy:

“For us it is a very important issue. We would prefer to make a decision…by consensus but if some delegations do not demonstrate a constructive approach to the concerns raised by us and shared by many other member states, then we’ll have no other choice but to call for a vote.”

It is thought that Russia could win if it calls for a vote on the issue, partly because the permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States) cannot use a veto at the budget committee, known as the Fifth Committee.

The move is seen as a cynical political maneuver that aims to check the authority of a UN leader who has clashed with Moscow over its policies from Syria to Ukraine.

Jessica Stern, the executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said:

“[Russia] is looking for any excuse to curtail the UN Secretary-General’s authority. It’s no secret that the Secretary-General and Russia have been at cross-purposes over Ukraine and Syria, and the Russians have found the perfect political vehicle for attacking him.”

Philippe Bolopion, the UN representative for Human Rights Watch, said member states “should push back hard against Russia’s backwards efforts to impose on the UN the same kind of homophobic attitudes Moscow promotes at home.”

UN officials say if the Russian initiative were to succeed, it could have an impact well beyond same-sex marriages, risking benefits for children adopted in a foreign country.


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