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04/19/2007


Equality California Delivers 40K 'Harvey Milk Day' Petitions to Guv

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Eauality California's Geoff Kors (above) and State Senator Mark Leno (below) delivered 40,000 petitions bearing the signatures of Californians to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, urging him to sign into law the 'Harvey Milk Day' bill.

It's a bill Schwarzenegger vetoed last year. Since that time, Milk has been awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom and is on the list to be inducted (by Schwarzenegger) into the California Hall of Fame.

Also on hand (above) was Equality California's Government Affairs Director Alice Kessler and NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell (not pictured).

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Harvey Milk Day Passes Assembly, Faces Potential Veto Again

The California Assembly passed the 'Harvey Milk Day' bill for the second year in a row yesterday:

Harveymilk "The California Assembly today passed legislation that creates Harvey Milk Day in California, honoring the state´s first openly gay elected official. Senate Bill 572, authored by Senator Mark Leno, cleared the Assembly with a 45-27 vote. The bill, which designates May 22 as a day of special significance in California, returns to the Senate for concurrence before going to the governor´s desk."

Said Leno following the vote: "I am pleased my colleagues in the Assembly recognize and honor Harvey Milk´s contributions to our state. He is an inspiration to people worldwide who believe in fairness and equality and he fought for many of the issues we value today, including access to education, public transportation, affordable housing and protecting the environment. Although he vetoed a similar bill last year with the message that Harvey Milk should be recognized only at the local level, I am confident Governor Schwarzenegger now understands the historic and international nature of Harvey´s legacy. Last week the Governor contradicted his 2008 veto message when he and the First Lady announced that Harvey will be inducted into the California Hall of Fame, acknowledging that Harvey and the other inductees touched the 'lives of millions of people – not just in this state, but around the world.'"

However, it's still possible that Schwarzenegger could veto the measure, given the pressure he's receiving from religious conservatives. Equality California has provided numbers you can call to reach the governor and let him know that you want Harvey Milk Day passed in California. Find them HERE.

Also, watch Dustin Lance Black's testimony before the assembly, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Harvey Milk Day Passes Assembly, Faces Potential Veto Again" »


California Bill Would Recognize Same-Sex Marriages from Elsewhere

SB54, a bill sponsored by State senator Mark Leno seeks to force California to decide how to treat out-of-state same-sex marriages since the Supreme Court's Proposition 8 decision did not address the topic. Currently, approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages valid before Prop. 8 passed are still legal as the Court allowed them to stand, but there is currently no statue directing how the state should recognize a same-sex couple married in Iowa, Massachusetts, or anywhere else it is legal.

The Sacramento Bee reports: Leno "The high court did not address how to treat out-of-state marriages, explaining in a footnote that none of the parties involved in lawsuits represented such interests. In that vacuum, Leno is arguing the Legislature's role should be to clarify the rights of same-sex couples who live in California but wed elsewhere, or couples who might move or travel here in the future...Frank Schubert, who was the campaign manager for Proposition 8, disagrees. He predicts a court battle over the law should it pass and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sign it. "Our argument is that the people amended the constitution and do not approve of same-sex marriage," he said. There's nothing in the court's Proposition 8 decision, Schubert said, that should lead gay couples to think they can transfer marriage rights to California because they wed in another country or any of the six states that now allow gay marriage. Leno's bill would declare that any same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions before Proposition 8 be recognized on par with marriages that took place in California."


U.S. State Dept. Condemns Violence Against Gays in Iraq

The U.S. State Department ended its many months of silence and acknowledged and condemned the violence against gays in Iraq after a question from a reporter.

Sadrcity Said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly on Wednesday: "In general, we absolutely condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals in Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is an issue that we've been following very closely since we have been made aware of these allegations, and we are aware of the allegations. Our training for Iraqi security forces includes instruction on the proper observance of human rights. Human rights training is also a very important part of our and other international donors' civilian capacity-building efforts in Iraq. And the US embassy in Baghdad has raised, and will continue to raise, the issue with senior officials from the government of Iraq, and has urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis."

In related news, Democrats in the California legislature have called upon President Obama to do something about the violence:

"The state lawmakers who sent a letter to Obama say there have been increasing attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Iraqis. The letter states the effort has been led by police ordered to 'clean up' the streets.  It said 63 people have been tortured or killed this year as a result of religious decrees against gays and lesbians. The lawmakers, led by San Francisco Democratic Sen. Mark Leno, say the U.S. should not spend U.S. tax dollars to bring democracy to Iraq and then overlook abuse. The effort, announced publicly Thursday, is supported by 45 of the Legislature's 74 Democrats."

Also in related news, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted the State Department Authorization bill (HR 2410) on Wednesday: "The bill was adopted over Republican objections that 'social issues such as gay rights and abortion have no place in a State Department funding bill.'  But the bill does not focus on social issues, it merely creates mechanisms to improve the U.S. government's support for basic human rights, including the rights of women and of LGBT communities abroad."


Dustin Lance Black Testifies; 'Harvey Milk Day' Advances

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Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black testified today before a Senate committee in support of Harvey Milk Day in California, state senator Mark Leno's proposed 'day of special significance' for the slain gay rights leader. The testimony must have gone well. The Senate committee approved the legislation and it now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

The Advocate features Black on its June/July '09 issue, which takes its theme from the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in NYC, profiling 40 people who were born after that date. Black's profile is here. Photos by Kenneth Cappello.

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Sean Penn, Gay Leaders Push for 'Harvey Milk Day' in California

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California Assemblyman Mark Leno kicked off another bid to have May 22, Harvey Milk's birthday, made "a day of special significance" in the state. Last year the day was approved by the legislature only to have it vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger when it reached his desk.

Hmd2 This year, Oscar-winner Sean Penn was on hand along with a host of other public figures, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

"Tuesday's announcement at Tosca Cafe attracted many leaders of the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, including Leno, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, city Supervisors Bevan Dufty and David Campos and city Treasurer Jose Cisneros. Milk 'gave his life so that every elected official up here could hold office,' Leno said. But he added that Penn's powerful portrayal of Milk gives his bill an immediacy it didn't have last year. Penn said his research for the role convinced him that Milk's call for political activism and volunteerism is a message that's important to get into California schools. 'It's not just important but essential with such a heroic and seminal figure as Harvey Milk that we honor him in this way,' the actor said."

Said Penn: "I trust that Gov. Schwarzenegger is an increasingly reasonable man," he said. "And that he understands that passing on prejudices, as surrounds this issue ... is poisonous to future generations."

Added Leno: "If there's one thing Arnold Schwarzenegger understands, it's box office. And Harvey Milk now has box office."

More photos, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "Sean Penn, Gay Leaders Push for 'Harvey Milk Day' in California" »


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