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ACLU Will Sue Kansas to Force State Agencies to Recognize Gay Marriages

Kansas

The ACLU of Kansas is poised to amend its lawsuit challenging the ban on same-sex marriage in order to force state agencies to grant marriage benefits to same-sex couples.

Yesterday, we reported that despite marriage equality having commenced in many Kansas counties, Governor Sam Brownback was refusing to allow any state recognition of same-sex unions.

The Wichita Eagle reports:

Doug Bonney, who represented the couples suing the state, said the plaintiffs would amend their complaint to force state agencies to recognize the marriages and grant full legal rights to the newly married couples.

This includes the right to change the last name on your driver’s license to your spouse’s. For the spouses of state employees, it also includes receiving state health care benefits.

Bonney said they would sue Gov. Sam Brownback if necessary. He added the governor has the authority to direct agencies on how to respond to the ruling but said the administration’s combative response was disappointing. He also said it would cost taxpayers a lot of money in the long run.


Conchita Wurst Releases Dramatic New Music Video for 'Heroes': WATCH

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Bearded drag performer Conchita Wurst has released a dramatic new video directed by Clemens Purner for his power ballad "Heroes", which is the follow-up to "Rise Like a Phoenix", the track which led to the Eurovision crown.

According to Sony, Wurst came up with the concept for the video which represents a relationship between two people. A man is asked to reconsider his previous actions and do something good for humanity, to be a hero.

Wurst was recently honored by the United Nations in Vienna for his work on behalf of the LGBT community.

Watch the new video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Heroes

Continue reading "Conchita Wurst Releases Dramatic New Music Video for 'Heroes': WATCH" »


LGBT Groups Remain 'Deeply' Dissatisfied with President Obama's Immigration Order

Obama

President Obama's announced executive action to provide temporary relief from deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants was met with lukewarm reception from LGBT rights groups concerned the proposal leaves out a disproportionate number of undocumented LGBT immigrants. 

Said Francisco Dueñas, Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Proyecto Igualdad at Lambda Legal:

"While we praise President Obama’s efforts to do what is in his executive power to improve immigration, we are deeply disappointed that his plan unfairly excludes many members of the LGBT community.  President Obama’s plan allows immigrants who have children who are citizens or  lawful permanent residents to obtain legal work documents and temporarily be protected from deportation. 
 
"We urge President Obama to undertake reforms that are more LGBT-inclusive, such as recognizing length of residency as a stand-alone qualification. Thousands of LGBT immigrants, many who have fled countries where LGBT people are unprotected and subjected to horrific abuse and violence, have been waiting for humane immigration reform for years due to Congressional inaction and cannot afford to wait any longer.

In a separate statement, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Policy Director Maya Rupert said that while she welcomed this "first step" towards ending the country's "broken and discriminatory" immigration system, more can be done to ensure the system is "inclusive and humane for all."

Said Rupert:

ImmigrationLGBT families are less likely to have legally recognized or biological relationships with each other, and thus relief based wholly on familial ties will exclude too many LGBT families. In addition, many of the restrictions requiring consistent employment and limiting access for people with non-violent criminal histories will disproportionately impact LGBT immigrants, especially in the transgender community.”


John Cameron Mitchell on Returning to 'Hedwig': INTERVIEW

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As we revealed earlier today, John Cameron Mitchell will debut in the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch on January 21, returning to the role he created Off-Broadway 15 years ago and immortalized in the cult-hit 2001 film. I spoke to Mitchell about stepping back into the show he penned with Stephen Trask, reuniting with fans and the rock-and-roll influences that shaped everyone's favorite trans glam rocker.

Naveen Kumar: What made you decide to do go into the show?

John Cameron Mitchell: Well you know, come on! The production is sitting there and I’ve certainly been thinking about it. I didn’t want to open the show, because it was just way too much pressure and time, and I could barely imagine doing it as long as the superman called Neil Patrick Harris. So, this manageable run, at a time when box office usually dips in January and before my film starts shooting next year, it was sort of a perfect slot. Certainly, it’s been in my mind that’ I’d do once more before I collapse into old age. [Laughs]

NK: So, it’s something you’ve thought about since the planning stages?

John Cameron Mitchell jcm344BW(med) by Nick VogelsonJCM: Years ago when we were thinking about Broadway, I didn’t really want to do a full run and thought maybe I could share it with someone—as they did with Fela!, because it was just so much singing and dancing. We reduced it to seven performances a week—I think Andrew Rannells did one week of eight—but no Hedwig has ever done eight and lived to tell the tale, because it’s way too hard. So, it was the enormity of it that gave me pause.

To be honest, it’s a great excuse to get in shape! [Laughs]

NK: How do you think it will be different for you this time?

JCM: Physically it will be much harder. But, the show is about finding a wholeness, and after 15 years, moving into middle age—you think about wholeness in a different way. In some ways, you are more whole, in other ways you’re more realistic about romance. The myth of ‘The Origin of Love,’ of finding a way to complete yourself—the young version of that is, ‘One person is going to complete me forever and heal the primal rift.’

And then you become a little wiser, even at the end of Hedwig, she’s alone in one way but there’s a kind of wholeness implied, because she’s been through these experiences. She’s the sum of everyone she’s met. You understand that more when you’re older, for better or worse. And, hopefully you’ve made the right choices as to who those people are. Everyone makes mistakes, and they make loving mistakes, which is really the best you can do. You make decisions based on whether you love or hate yourself.

A lot of queer people grew up feeling inferior, hating themselves from a young age, and have to heal themselves. And queer people include straight people who didn’t fit in in terms of gender, trans people, anyone. Your butch mom: She’s queer too, even if she’s straight. So, that’s the Hedwig community and it’s been built up from nothing. Of course there are Rocky Horror fans and rock fans mixed in, but we’re really different.

The people who love Hedwig love it forever, so there’s a responsibility to doing this right and being honest on stage. I’m excited about reuniting with those people—the last 15 years of their lives will inform the show as much as the last 15 years of my own, which has been very peripatetic, exciting and tragic and full. It’s going to be wiser, it’s going to be frayed. It’s not going to be as nervous as when I was a kid. I’m actually nervous about it now—but that ‘s more about how strenuous it is and keeping it together vocally and physically. It’s exciting; I need a kick in the ass right now, and there’s no bigger kick in the ass than Hedwig.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "John Cameron Mitchell on Returning to 'Hedwig': INTERVIEW" »


Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Refusing to Grant Marriage Rights to Gay Couples

Kansas

Despite marriage equality having already commenced in many counties in Kansas, GOP state officials are continuing to drag their heels in defiance, with Governor Sam Brownback announcing today that he will not allow any state recognition of same-sex unions. 

NPR station KCUR reports:

BrownbackBrownback said Thursday that he won’t offer any of the benefits heterosexual couples get, such as name changes on a driver’s license or employee benefits for gay and lesbian state workers.

“There is still considerable legal ambiguity on the topic of same-sex marriage,” said Eileen Hawley, a Brownback spokeswoman. “Once that ambiguity is gone, the governor will direct state agencies to comply with applicable laws.” 

The Wichita Eagle adds:

Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, an LGBT rights organization, said it was outrageous for state agencies to not treat legally married same-sex couples the same as they would newly married heterosexual couples.

“These are legal marriages legally performed in the state of Kansas,” Witt said.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt told the Associated Press on Wednesday that his vigorous defense of the state’s gay marriage ban is designed to get a final U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether such bans are constitutional.

While things get sorted out, Equality Kansas has a list of counties that are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Check out the list here


Country Singer Billy Gilman Comes Out as Gay: 'It's Time to Be Honest and Truthful' - VIDEO

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Billy Gilman, who at the age of 12 became the youngest singer to land a Top 40 hit on the country music charts with 2000's "One Voice," has come out as gay in a video message posted online today. 

Gilman2In the video, Gilman shares that country singer Ty Herndon's coming out earlier today makes it easier for him to open up, but that he is still concerned about how the country music industry will react. 

You know, it's difficult for me to make this video not because I'm ashamed of being a gay male artist or a gay artist or a gay person. But it's pretty silly to know that I'm ashamed of doing this knowing that because I'm in an genre and industry that is ashamed of me for being me. That said, I want to say that all of the country artists that literally I grew up with - Keith Urban, Vince, LeAnn Rimes and all of these wonderful friends of mine have been nothing but supportive. Not that they knew but they've just been such wonderful people.  

Gilman also reveals that he's been with his partner for five months. 

Watch Gilman's video announcement (and a Today show performance of "One Voice") AFTER THE JUMP...

[photo via Instagram]

UPDATE: LeAnn Rimes has tweeted her support for Gilman

Continue reading "Country Singer Billy Gilman Comes Out as Gay: 'It's Time to Be Honest and Truthful' - VIDEO" »


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