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04/19/2007


California to Allow Inmates to Marry Same-sex Partners

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Last week, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced that after the Supreme Court decision that allowed marriage equality to resume in California, inmates in the state will know be allowed to marry same-sex partners--as long as their partners aren't in jail.

In a memo released by the CDCR involving the change, the department said that, "[c]onsistent with existing practices, and in furtherance of security concerns ..., a currently incarcerated inmate shall not, at this time, be permitted to marry another currently incarcerated inmate."

According to the Sacramento Bee, the memo was distributed by the office of San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano:

Ammiano's office said in a media release that some prisons had interpreted the law in a way that barred inmates from marrying same-sex partners, prompting a legislative inquiry and the ensuing memo.

"Inmates have the same legal right to marry as those who are not inmates," said Bill Sessa, a spokesman for the state corrections department. "The memo clarifies the policy we already had."

You can read the full memo released by the CDCR, AFTER THE JUMP...

(photo by Wally Skalij for the Los Angeles Times)

CDCR memo regarding same sex marriage between inmates


Russian Police Seize Painting of Putin in Women's Lingerie, Shut Down St. Petersburg Gallery

Travesty

Russian police have seized a painting from a St. Petersburg gallery that depicts President Vladimir Putin brushing PM Dmitry Medvedev's hair while the two wear women's lingerie, Reuters reports:

The officers also removed a picture of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, his torso covered in tattoos, and two others poking fun at lawmakers who have backed legislation banning so-called gay propaganda, gallery staff said. The officers also removed a picture of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, his torso covered in tattoos, and two others poking fun at lawmakers who have backed legislation banning so-called gay propaganda, gallery staff said.

The latter painting featured Vitaly Milonov, co-author of Russia's bill banning gay propaganda, together with a rainbow flag.

Gallery owner Alexander Donskoy called it an "illegal seizure". It's not clear whether the reason behind the seizure was because of Russia's law banning insult of authorities or its ban on gay propaganda.


Colorado State Trooper Receives $768,000 In Damages For Polygraph Outing: VIDEO

CSPIn 2010 Colorado State Trooper Brett Williams quit the CSP to become a helicopter pilot, but changed his mind a few months later and reapplied for the force. As a part of the reinstatement process, Williams was required to take a polygraph test, and one of the questions was whether a man or a woman had given him a massage on a trip in Thailand. When Williams answered honestly, he realized he had been forced out of the closet and began receiving questions about porn and child molestation.

WilliamsWilliams was ultimately denied his reinstatement.

Williams filed suit and State Personnel Judge Mary McClatchey determined that former CSP Chief James Wolfinbarger's procedure for a polygraph and full background check was a departure from the previous chief's policy. The lawsuit prompted an investigation of the culture of CSP and forced Wolfinbarger to step down from his position. McClatchey ultimately concluded that the sole purpose of the polygraph test was to deny Williams the job, which is in violation of law enforcement hiring standards. Williams was awarded over $768,000 in damages and the CSP was required to designate a command-level point-of-contact for gay Patrol members.

CSP of course denies that Williams' orientation was a reason for his rehire and will likely appeal the decision.

Judge McClatchey's full decision can be read here and the news report video can be seen AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Colorado State Trooper Receives $768,000 In Damages For Polygraph Outing: VIDEO" »


Outrage Over Russian Anti-Gay Law Halts Similar Bill In Armenia

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While public and international outrage surrounding Russia's institutionalized homophobia doesn't seem to faze president Vladimir Putin, or any other member of the Russian government, human right activists still have reason to celebrate. Thanks to an unexpected victory in Armenia, we now have evidence that the boycotts, demonstrations, and protests have not been entirely in vain. 

Late last week, the national police withdrew a bill it had previously submitted to the Armenian government, banning any public promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships”. Sound familiar at all? While authorities has claimed that they did not wish to intentionally terget any sexual minorities, they nevertheless felt a desire to protect “the model of the traditional Armenian family” against “phenomena alien to national Armenian mentality.”

Azatutyun.am reports that

"Ashot Aharonian, a police spokesman, insisted that the bill was not withdrawn under domestic or foreign pressure. He said the Armenian police chief, Vladimir Gasparian, ordered its removal from the agenda because of its “shortcomings” exposed by critics and the fact that the issue is not a top priority for the police at the moment."

AGLANYMamikon Hovsepian, the head of PINK Armenia, remains unconvinced, saying that "This is definitely the shadow of Russia. We live in Russia’s shadow." Another campaigner, Sevak Kirakosian, speculates that "the police are trying to improve their reputation in the people’s eyes." 

Despite the bill's withdrawal, many in Armenia support the idea of some sort of ban on public displays of homosexuality. One such group is the Armenian Organization for Constitutional Rights Defense, who insist that laws such as the one in Russia do not infringe upon people's human rights. “Nobody wants to prevent anybody from having such a lifestyle,” it said in a statement. “But there are many people who do not want this lifestyle to be imposed on them and their children watching television.”

Armenia was one of the many former-Soviet nations to decriminalize homosexuality in the 1990's. Unfortunately, not many legal protections exist at all for LGBT people in the Eastern-European nation, which also possesses a rather LGBT-intolerant culture. 


Russian Track Teammates Celebrate Victory With Same-Sex Kiss

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Was it a protest or simply an innocent display of affection between teammates?

That's the question being asked around the world at present. Here's what we do know. Shortly after winning gold in the women's 4x400 meter relay at the World Athletics Championships on Saturday, Russian track athletes Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova celebrated their victory with a full on, girl-on-girl lip lock. They then kissed again at the subsequent medal ceremony. Neither athlete has released a statement explaining the gesture, leaving all of us across the web speculating as to whether the kiss was a political gesture, an innocent gesture of affection between friends, or a possible expression of a deeper love. 

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told members of the press that "I think this is kind of an invented problem."

"We don't have a law banning non-traditional sexual relations, we have a different law. It is the informational protection of the young generation. We want to prevent the young generation, whose psyche has not been formulated. We want to protect them against drunkenness, drugs and non-traditional sexual relations. We want them to grow up and when they become adults they have to define what they want."

Gay-star-news-Kseniya Ryzhova-Tatyana- Firova_1Nevertheless, whether the gesture was innocent or not, Gay Star News notes that Ryzhova and Firova's PDA could land them a conviction under Russia's anti-gay "propaganda" law. Russian officials have not given any indication that they intend to arrest the athletes. That said, Russian officials have made it clear that the propaganda law will be enforced during sporting events such as these. 

This is not, by any means, the first instance of gay-related controversy at the World Athletics Championships. Previously, one Swedish athlete caused a stir with her rainbow-colored nail polish, prompting one copy-cay and one vocally anti-gay expression of disapproval. Also, American runner Nick Symmonds spoke out against Russia's anti-gay laws at the international tournament, becoming the first athlete to do so while on Russian soil. 


Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau Marries Partner (and Fellow Officer) of 25 Years

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Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau (left) married Sgt. Holly Keegel, her partner of 25 years ("on and off the force") on Friday, the Star-Tribune reports:

They waited a few days to take advantage of the Aug 1 law that gave same-sex couples the right to marry in Minnesota. Chief called me first Saturday because when I interviewed her in June, I asked if they might marry. She told me they would, opening with a joke: “We’ve been together for 25 years but we’re still not sure. I couldn’t be any more married. Now we’ll just make it legal. Of course, we will.”

Keegel, who signed off on Harteau calling to giving me the scoop, had told the media-friendly chief this marriage news better not leak out ahead of time.

Harteau and Keegel told the paper that they wanted to keep the wedding private since they are so often in the public eye, and began planning it about a month ago. Mayor Rybak officiated the ceremony, which took place atop the W Hotel. 20 friends and family including their teen daughter Lauren attended.


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