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Thursday Speed Read: Title IX, Rea Carey, Asylum Seeking, Ohio, Colorado, Maryland

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

PROTECTION FOR NON-CONFORMING:

EducationThe U.S. Department of Education (ED) on Tuesday released guidelines to clarify for schools receiving federal aid that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination “extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.” The DOE’s guidance makes clear that its Office of Civil Rights “accepts such complaints for investigation.” The guidance requires school officials to “investigate and resolve allegations of sexual violence regarding LGBT students using the same procedures and standards that it uses in all complaints involving sexual violence.” National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey called it a “giant leap forward” toward “staggering rates of discrimination” against students who are transgender or non-conforming to gender role expectations.

NGLTF LEADER ARRESTED AT RALLY: Carey

NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey was one of 27 people arrested for blocking an intersection on Capitol Hill Wednesday in a protest against the refusal of the Republican-led U.S. House to take up an immigration reform bill. The Fair Immigration Reform Movement organized the protest. NGLTF estimates that more than 250,000 of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are LGBT.

FOCUS ON ASYLUM:

Immigration Equality held a press conference in front of the White House Tuesday afternoon to urge President Obama to provide relief to LGBT people seeking asylum in the United States. The group says it has more than 300 clients in need of asylum. According to the organization’s website, persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status can be a basis for the Bureau of Immigration Appeals to grant asylum.

OhioNEW OHIO LAWSUIT:

Ohio civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein has filed another lawsuit in federal court in Cincinnati seeking to strike down that state’s ban against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The lawsuit filed Wednesday, Gibson v. Himes, is being brought on behalf of six same-sex couples. Earlier this month, another Gerhardstein lawsuit won a ruling from a federal district court judge in Cincinnati to recognize the out-of-state marriages of four same-sex couples and put the names of both parents on the birth certificates of their children. That case is now on appeal to the Sixth Circuit.

ColoradoCOLORADO POLLS RISING?

A poll by Quinnipiac University of 1,298 registered voters this month found a whopping 61 percent support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Last December, Public Policy Polling surveyed 928 Colorado voters and found only 48 percent said they would support allowing same-sex couples to marry. The December poll, however, gave voters a choice of allowing gays to marry or have civil unions. Thirty-two percent were OK with civil unions. In terms of voters opposed, 18 percent said that in December there should be “no” legal recognition of same-sex relationships, 32 percent said they “oppose” allowing them to marry.

MarylandMARYLAND BALLOT BATTLE BREWING:

A Republican-led group announced Tuesday that it will seek a referendum this November on a bill passed by the Maryland legislature to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. The governor has not yet signed the bill, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, but is expected to. The group, MDPetitions.com, is referring to the measure as “The Bathroom Bill,” a moniker frequently used by opponents of gender equality to stir fears that the non-discrimination law will enable men to enter women’s restrooms to harass or attack them.” The group must first collect 55,736 signatures by June 30, including one-third of those by May 31.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


New Lawsuit Filed Challenging Ohio's Gay Marriage Ban

A new lawsuit challenging Ohio's gay marriage ban has been filed in Cincinnati, the AP reports:

BranchThe lawsuit was filed in federal court in Cincinnati on behalf of six gay Ohio couples who say they are in love and want to get married.

"They have an urgent need to affirm their commitment to one another before their children, their family, their friends and their community," the lawsuit said. "For plaintiffs, marriage is a deeply held value. They want to be married in Ohio, their home state."

...Wednesday's lawsuit was filed by the same law firm that filed a February suit that led a federal judge to order Ohio to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages. In his April 14 order, Judge Timothy Black said Ohio's refusal to recognize gay marriage is a violation of constitutional rights and "unenforceable in all circumstances.

The law firm representing the plaintiffs writes in a press release:

This lawsuit seeks to end Ohio’s unconstitutional discrimination against same-sex couples. 

Lead counsel, Jennifer Branch (pictured), said:

“The couples in this case are in love and deeply committed.  They want to get married.  Some have been engaged for years but cannot marry here, at home, surrounded by family and friends, because Ohio forbids it.  Ohio’s unequal treatment of these couples is unconstitutional and cannot continue.  Nobody’s constitutional rights can be voted away.”

Plaintiffs include six same-sex couples who wish to marry.  The six couples standing up to bring this case have been in committed relationships for between two and nineteen years.  Traveling elsewhere to get married is not an option for most of the plaintiffs.  Michelle Gibson, the lead plaintiff, has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.  Other plaintiffs have elderly parents and grandparents who cannot travel.  One couple has two young developmentally disabled sons.  Another couple has already made a guest list with over 300 people, but only a handful of them could afford to travel to another state for the wedding.  More importantly, no Ohioans should be forced to leave Ohio to get married.

Here is the complaint if you'd like to read it.

On April 16, Black stayed his ruling except in the case of the four couples who sued. He said Ohio must recognize their marriages immediately.

A ballot measure drive is also underway in Ohio. This week an LGBT group earned approval to begin collecting signatures to put a measure before voters to repeal the state's ban.


Cincinnati Catholic School Members Protest Against Anti-Gay Contract, 'Morality Clause': VIDEO

Contract

Cincinnati teachers and parents are protesting the local archidocese requirement that all Catholic school teachers sign a contractual “morality clause” forbidding any public or private support or practice of homosexuality, artificial insemination, pre- and extra-marital sex, or abortion.

WLWT reports:

At least a hundred Catholic teachers, parents and students protested at Fountain Square on Tuesday. Their message to the archdiocese: is fix the contract.

Protestors have signed a local petition with more than a thousand signatures. The national one has 23,000.They will walk to the archdiocese offices to deliver the petitions.

One of the teachers is refusing because of her gay son:

“The main reason I will not sign this contract is my son is gay, and the day he came out to me, the world was lifted off of his shoulder as well as mine, and it was at that moment that I said to myself I will never hide who he is, be embarrassed of who he is and at that point I said I’m going to use this opportunity to make a difference,” Molly Shumate said.

Protestors hope to increase dialogue with the archdiocese and to revert to last year's teacher contract that did not contain the so-called “morality clause."

As we said earlier, presumably the archdiocese revised the contract to avoid high-profile firings like that of Mike Moroskin, the Ohio administrator who was fired for publishing a pro-marriage equality blog post last year, and Carla Hale, the Ohio teacher who was also fired last year after her mother’s obituary listed the name of Carla’s female partner.

You can watch video of the protest, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Cincinnati Catholic School Members Protest Against Anti-Gay Contract, 'Morality Clause': VIDEO" »


Thursday Speed Read: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Ohio, Oregon, Michael McShane, NOM, Crystal Moore

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE?

NixonThe Republican-led committee of the Missouri legislature discussed a proposal Wednesday to impeach Democratic Governor Jay Nixon because he issued an executive order allowing same-sex couples who have obtained marriage licenses in other states to file joint state tax returns in Missouri. Rep. Nick Marshall, who introduced the resolution, said he did so because Nixon “usurped the people and their authority to determine their constitution.” Voters in 2004 amended the constitution to ban same-sex marriages. The St. Louis Dispatch noted that the resolution has little time to advance, given the legislature adjourns in four weeks. Earlier this month, a Missouri judge denied a petition for a temporary restraining order to block Nixon’s directive. The judge will hold a hearing on the challenge May 2.

LET THE SIGNING BEGIN:

An LGBT group in Ohio earned a go-ahead to begin collecting signatures to put a ballot measure before voters to repeal the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The Ohio Ballot Board announced Tuesday that FreedomOhio can begin collecting signatures the more than 385,000 signatures it needs. A spokesman for the group told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that FreedomOhio is working with other gay groups to determine what ballot to shoot for.

‘VOTING ON PEOPLE’S RIGHTS’:

McshaneOpenly gay U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane held a two-hour-long hearing Wednesday on two lawsuits seeking to strike the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The Oregonian newspaper said McShane asked attorneys whether voters should get another vote at the ballot box "before the court steps in." Sheila Potter, representing the attorney general, who says the ban is unconstitutional, replied, "We are asking you to make a statement that we don't get to vote on peoples' constitutional rights." Basic Rights Oregon has a proposed initiative in the works to put a repeal measure on the ballot in November. The group has said it will drop that plan if the court strikes the ban as unconstitutional before May 23, an important ballot measure deadline.

ABOUT THOSE MARRIAGE PLANS:

NomlogoMcShane said he would hold a hearing May 14 on whether the National Organization for Marriage qualifies to intervene in the lawsuits to defend the ban since the attorney general has declined to do so. NOM has complained publicly that there are “serious ethical questions” about whether McShane should be presiding over the two marriage lawsuits because he is gay. “Judge McShane is in the same position as the two gay men challenging the marriage amendment, raising troubling questions about his impartiality," said John Eastman, an attorney for NOM. In court Wednesday, Judge McShane addressed that suggestion. According to the Oregonian, McShane said he and his partner “have no plans to get married.”

TINY TOWN FIGHTS BACK:

MooreLatta, South Carolina, population 1,410, is fighting to keep its openly lesbian 20-year veteran police chief. Many people in town believe Mayor Ed Bullard fired Crystal Moore because she is gay. On Tuesday, the town council voted unanimously to block Bullard from replacing Moore during the next two months. That followed a vote last week to hold a referendum June 24 on a new structure for government that would enable the town council to hire Moore back. WPDE News reported that a standing room only crowd turned out for a council meeting to show their support for Moore.

‘THE NAACP FOR GAY PEOPLE’:

In an interview with Jo Becker, author of the controversial book Forcing the Spring, NPR’s Terri Gross mentioned that Chad Griffin is now head of the Human Rights Campaign, which is, “you know, a big gay rights group.” “Exactly,” said Becker. “It’s the NAACP for gay people.”

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Thursday Speed Read: North Carolina, Nate Silver, Rosemary Lehmberg, Brunei, Ohio, Oklahoma

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

TENTH CIRCUIT HEARS SECOND CASE:

OklahomaThe same three-judge panel that heard the lawsuit challenging Utah’s ban on recognition of same-sex marriages today hears a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s. Jim Campbell, legal counsel from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that has been opposing same-sex marriage, will argue for Oklahoma. Don Holladay, counsel with Holladay & Chilton in Oklahoma City, will argue for the plaintiffs.  Argument begins at 1:30 MDT at the Denver federal courthouse. Each side will get 15 minutes. Audio recordings of the proceedings will be available on the court’s website within 24 hours of adjournment.

U.N. ADMONISHES BRUNEI STONING LAW:

BruneiThe United Nations’ Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement April 11 admonishing the southeast Asian nation of Brunei for revising its penal code to require stoning to death any person convicted of sodomy and other sexually related offenses. The revised code goes into effect April 22. U.N. spokesman Rupert Colville said the revised code “may encourage further violence and discrimination against women and also against people on the basis of sexual orientation.”

OHIO JUDGE SPLITS THE STAY:

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black did as he said he might: He ordered the state of Ohio Wednesday to include the names of both same-sex parents on the birth certificates of children born and adopted to four same-sex couples in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. But he stayed his ruling that the state ban on recognizing marriages of same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The stay will remain pending review by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The case, Henry v. Wymyslo, was led by civil rights attorney-activist Al Gerhardstein in Cincinnati.

DON’T MESS WITH ANYBODY IN TEXAS:

LehmbergTexas Republican Governor Rick Perry is into a big-time scrap with lesbian Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat. Lehmberg, who’s gay, is the top prosecutorial officer for Travis County –the same county that runs the state’s Public Integrity Unit which is charged with investigating wrongdoing by state officials. She’s credited with convicting U.S. House Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay in 2010 for money laundering (a case now on appeal to the state’s high court for criminal appeals). But Lehmberg ran into trouble last April when police found her drunk and behind the wheel of a car in a church parking lot. Lehmberg acknowledged guilt, apologized, spent three weeks in jail, and entered a treatment program. But she refused calls from Perry and other Republican leaders to resign. Perry then claimed Lehmberg had “lost the public’s confidence” and vetoed funding for her Public Integrity budget. Texans for Public Justice, a political watchdog group, charged that Perry is breaking the law by trying to coerce Lehmberg’s resignation. And this week, a Texas judge seated a grand jury to look into those allegations. Perry has reported hired a defense attorney.

THE SILVER FORECAST:

SilverOpenly gay political data cruncher Nate Silver yesterday echoed predictions that are being heard more and more frequently these days: Republicans appear poised to take over the Senate in the mid-term elections this November. Silver’s latest model “puts Democratic losses in the Senate at 6.8 seats….”

NORTH CAROLINA SOFTENS:

A poll this month in North Carolina indicates opposition to same-sex couples marrying has softened by eight points in the past two years. In May 2012, 61 percent of voters said yes to a ban on same-sex couples marrying. But a Public Policy Polling survey taken April 3-6 of 740 registered voters found only 53 percent still oppose same-sex marriage.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Judge Stays Ohio Gay Marriage Ruling, Except for the Couples Who Sued

Judge Timothy Black has stayed his ruling ordering Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, except in the case of the four couples who sued. He says Ohio must recognize their marriages immediately, the AP reports.

T_blackBlack said the stay does not apply to the four couples who filed the February lawsuit that led to the court case and ordered Ohio to immediately list both spouses in each relationship as parents on their children's birth certificates.

In explaining the stay, Black said that although he doesn't think the state's appeal will succeed, there is still a chance the 6th Circuit could overturn his decision.

"The court recognizes that recognition of same-sex marriages is a hotly contested issue in the contemporary legal landscape, and, if (the) appeal is ultimately successful, the absence of a stay ... is likely to lead to confusion, potential inequity and high costs," Black said. "Premature celebration and confusion do not serve anyone's best interests."

The case will be appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.


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