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Connecticut Ruling Could Lead To Retroactive Marriage Rights For Same-Sex Couples

A July 16th Connecticut Supreme Court ruling is adding to the debate on whether same-sex marriage rights should be applied retroactively, reports ABC News.

Charlotte Stacey and Margaret MullerThe case involved Margaret Mueller and Charlotte Stacey, who had a civil union in Connecticut in 2005 and got married in Massachusetts in 2008 after 23 years together, shortly before Connecticut approved gay marriage.

Mueller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001 but the couple learned in 2005 that the diagnosis was wrong and Mueller actually had appendix cancer. Stacey said her wife’s death could have been prevented if the original diagnosis had been correct.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Stacey may sue for medical malpractice over the loss of her wife's companionship and income, even though that right was limited to heterosexual married couples at the time of their marriage.

Lower courts had ruled that Stacey could not sue because only married couples had that right and Stacey and Mueller did not marry until 2008.

Although no states that allow same-sex marriage have made their laws retroactive, many believe that inheritance laws and other benefits that had been available only to heterosexual married couples should be extended to same-sex partners.

While the Connecticut court did not make its 2008 same-sex marriage ruling retroactive, it expanded common law to give gay people the right to sue over the death of a partner.

Speaking to Associated Press, Ben Klein, a lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston, said:

"Because there was a time when many same-sex couples couldn't marry, they were subjected to a whole range of unfair treatment under the law and this decision is really a great step forward. We have these remnants from the past that the court, at least in this one instance, has rectified."

However, some groups that oppose same-sex marriage are also against making marriage rights retroactive.  Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, said "Connecticut has no obligation to pay reparations to homosexuals for having maintained the natural definition of marriage until 2008."

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Gay marriage bans that have been overturned in states including Utah continue to make their way through the courts.


Salem Mayor Writes Awesome Defense Of City's Decision To End Contract With Anti-Gay College - VIDEO

Kim driscoll mayor salem

On Wednesday we reported the decision by the City of Salem, Massachusetts, to kill a contract with anti-gay Gordon College.

Under the contract, the college operated the city’s Old Town Hall.  College president Michael Lindsay was one of more than 140 signees of a letter to Barack Obama seeking exemptions from a pending executive order which aims to prevent work discrimination by federally funded organizations. Letter by Kimberly Driscoll

Speaking to The Christian Post, Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll said that Gordon College's "behavioral standards" policy, which specifically forbids "homosexual behavior," "is in violation of the LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that was unanimously adopted by the Salem City Council earlier this year.”

Driscoll has since published an awesome letter defending Salem’s inclusive policies and calling out attacks made by right wing blogs and websites.  Specifically citing wingnut Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, Driscoll writes that “this has resulted in a number of phones calls being place to my office from people outside of Massachusetts who have expressed some patently offensive views regarding LGBT individuals.”

In response to the barrage of phone calls, Driscoll goes on to say “we are keeping a tally of these phone calls and for each one we receive I will be making a donation of $5 to nAGLY [North Shore Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth], in support of your good work to create, sustain, and advocate for the policies and services that support youth here on the North Shore.”

Driscoll also asks that individuals make contributions to nAGLy as a response to “the persistence of those who would deny LGBT citizens their equal rights.” 

Watch a video introducing nAGLY, AFTER THE JUMP...

 

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Transgender Students Face Discrimination By Religious Colleges

George_fox_university

A July 14th Inside Higher Ed article highlights two cases of discrimination against transgender students that are representative of the broader ability of institutions to ignore federal laws that interfere with their faith.

The article comes following last month’s Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, which upheld the right of some businesses owned by religious individuals not to finance contraception coverage for employees; and a letter by more than 140 religious organizations and individuals petitioning for an exemption from President Barack Obama’s pending executive order which aims to protect LGBT federal employees.

The article discusses in detail an exemption granted to George Fox University, Oregon, that allows it to discriminate against a transgender student who identifies as a man and was refused permission to reside in housing for male students; and The California Baptist University case in which a scholarship student was expelled by the university on the basis of “fraud” after she appeared on a reality television program to discuss her transgender identity.

The article goes on to consider the case of Gordon College in Massachusetts. College president Michael Lindsay signed the letter to Barack Obama seeking exemptions. Citing Gordon’s anti-gay policies, the City of Salem, Massachusetts, has since killed a contract under which Gordon has operated the city's Old Town Hall. Additionally, the college’s accreditor is now reviewing whether Gordon’s policies violate NEASC’s anti-bias rules.


Barney Frank: Don't Vote For Gay Republican Congressional Candidate Richard Tisei

Former Rep. Barney Frank has weighed in on one of 2014's tightest congressional races, that of his state Massachusetts' sixth district. 

1019_tierney-tisei-620x456It's a headline grabber — incumbent Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) versus Republican challenger Richard Tisei. While Rep. Tierney has been a staunch advocate of LGBT rights, Tisei may be poised to snatch votes from him. Rep. Tierney is staight, and Tisei is openly gay. If elected, Tisei would be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress.

If this story sounds familiar to you, you're not wrong. Two years ago, the same two candidates were squaring off in the same district. That time around, the race wrapped up tight — Tierney's 48% to Tisei's 47. 

This year, things could shake out differently. In February, Tisei was endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, leading to a bump in his polling data.

Wednesday evening, former Rep. Frank assembled a group of LGBT donors on Capitol Hill to discuss the congressional race and voice support for the incumbent Tierney.

6a00d8341c730253ef017d3e260216970c-250wiWhile the donors acknowledge allure in the idea that a gay Republican who could shake up the party, many suggest that this is not realistic — that it's more important to reduce the influence of Republican leader and LGBT rights opponent Rep John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Former Rep. Frank expands on the core reasons to not elect Tisei:

"I do believe it is very important to support gay and lesbian candidates. But the notion that we will tell an incumbent who has been absolutely perfect on gay, lesbian, bisexual [and] transgender issues — absolutely perfect — that perfection will do no good because he has sex with the wrong person, [that] is the antithesis of what we should be fighting for."

Concise and whip-smart as ever, but that's Barney Frank for you.

Frank's sentiment is echoed by the incumbent Rep. Tierney. While he would like to have more pro-gay Republcans in Congress, Tierney points out that electing them in the current political climate would have little effect.

"[Pro-gay Republicans aren't] allowed to even vote on the matter [of LGBT rights]. They don't get an opportunity. So you need to change the majority to have the matter brought up," he said. "We have currently a Congress that is going nowhere, slowly, under John Boehner."

[h/t HuffPo]


Tuesday Speed Read: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Wendy Davis, Massachusetts, Medicare

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

CrabbWISCONSIN MARRIAGES CONTINUE:

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb denied a motion Monday from the Wisconsin attorney general for a stay in her June 6 ruling that the state ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. But in an odd twist, Crabb told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “I never said anything about whether any county clerk could go forward and issue a marriage license. That hasn't been decided." Crabb’s June 6 decision in Wolf v. Walker indicated she would issue an order later this month concerning enforcement of her ruling. But clerks in about half the counties around Wisconsin began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last Friday. The next hearing for the case is June 19.

GaffneyLONE CLERK SEEKS PENNSYLVANIA APPEAL:

Taking a cue from a county clerk in Virginia, a county clerk in Pennsylvania petitioned a federal court judge Friday to allow her to appeal the judge’s decision striking the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Judge John Jones III issued his opinion in Whitewood v. Wolf on May 20, and Republican Governor Tom Corbett said he would not appeal. Private attorneys filed both the motion to intervene and a motion to stay Jones’ ruling on behalf of Theresa Santai-Gaffney, register of wills for Schuylkill County.

CorbettMAJORITY AGREES ON CORBETT NON-APPEAL:

A poll showed that 56 percent of 835 Pennsylvania registered voters agreed with Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s decision not to appeal a federal district court opinion striking down the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The poll, by Public Policy Polling, was conducted May 30 to June 1, just one week after Corbett announced he would not appeal the decision. According to realclearpolitics.com, Corbett has been trailing his Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by more than 20 points in various polls. Wolf’s campaign website prominently touts his support for marriage equality.

2_davisWENDY DAVIS WOULD SIGN EXECUTIVE ORDER:

Texas’ Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis told reporter John Wright in the Observer last week that she would be willing to sign an executive order to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, though she suggested the governor’s power to implement such an order is fairly limited. Davis has been running about 12 points behind Republican attorney general Greg Abbott in the race, according to realclearpolitics.com.

HealeyMASSACHUSETTS AG POLL MOSTLY UNDECIDED:

Lesbian attorney Maura Healey held a three-point lead over former state Senator Warren Tolman in a recent poll for the Massachusetts Democratic primary for attorney general. The June 4-7 Suffolk University poll surveyed 450 likely primary voters and had a plus-or-minus 3.5 margin of error.  It showed Healey, in her first electoral run, with 21 percent, and Tolman with 18 percent. But the vast majority of respondents, 59 percent, said they were “undecided.” Two percent refused to answer. Male voters are split between the two; but women voters are leaning Healey.

NO MORE AUTOMATIC DENIALS:

MedicareAn administrative appeals board at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruled recently that automatic denial of Medicare coverage for transsexual surgery as a treatment “is not valid under the ‘reasonableness standard’.” The ruling means transgender people seeking treatment for gender dysphoria will be able to have their applications for coverage considered “just like anyone seeking coverage for any other medical treatment,” noted a joint statement from GLAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the ACLU. The HHS Departmental Appeals Board decision was made in an appeal from an “aggrieved party.” ABC News identified the person as a 74-year-old Army veteran who said she hopes to spend the rest of her life “in congruence and not distress.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Massachusetts GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Touts Relationship with Gay Brother in New Ad: VIDEO

Baker

Charlie Baker, a Republican candidate for the Massachusetts governor's office being vacated by retiring Governor Deval Patrick, touts his relationship with his gay brother Alex in a new ad which tells the story of how Alex came out to him, the Boston Globe reports:

That conversation, along with a video of the pair that Charlie Baker’s gubernatorial campaign released Thursday, are key components in the Baker campaign’s efforts to recalibrate his public image, presenting the GOP candidate in softer — and, his advisers would say, more genuine — tones.

That contrasts with the harder-edged image Charlie Baker projected in his failed 2010 bid for governor, when he sometimes seemed more interested in tough fiscal policies than connecting with voters.

The release of the video of the Baker brothers coincides with Saturday’s 10-year anniversary of the first gay weddings in Massachusetts and the nation, a landmark date for social liberals. It helps Charlie Baker distance himself from the socially conservative wing of the Republican Party, appealing to independents who are critical to his success in the November election.

Some unmoved LGBT advocates tell the Globe that Baker was unwilling to take a stronger position on marriage equality in 2004 when it was needed, even though Baker knew his brother was gay at the time.

Watch the ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

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