My Story

Growing up in conservative West Michigan, I watched lesbian and gay friends and family members struggle to be accepted and be treated equally. There are gains and losses in this fight every day, and it is vital for LGBT individuals and their straight allies to stand up and to pay attention.

18 April 2011

Equality Update: Anti-Gay Facebook Actions, Boehner Hosting Marriage Defense Hearings

There's so much happening in the fight for LGBT equality. I alternately get really excited, angry, upset, appalled, happy, hopeful, and that's only about what I've read today!

Without further ado, here's the top LGBT forward and backward steps for the last few weeks.


Equality Update
Forward: Civil Union Victory in Delaware!
A civil unions bill has passed in Delaware, and Gov. Jack Markell is expected to sign it. This will give gay and lesbian couples the same rights from the state as heterosexual couples. This is the eighth state to give lesbian and gay couples equivalent status. Delaware joins California, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Hawaii, Nevada, and Wisconsin, all of which “recognize at least some of the legal rights of domestic partnerships.” (watch the video at this link...the reaction of the audience is amazing!)

Forward: Gay Marriage Recognized in Five States, and Census Data
Gay marriage is recognized in five states and the District of Colombia. Data from the 2010 US Census  (the first time same-sex married couples were counted) indicates that when there is a larger proportion of lesbian and gay couples living in an area, it is more likely that gay marriage or civil union laws will be passed. However, it’s also possible that lesbian or gay individuals move to more accepting locations. The full report is expected out in November of this year.

Backward: 
Boehner's Marriage Defense Hearings
House Speaker John Boehner convened a House hearing concerning the Defense of Marriage Act on Friday. There were three notable guests, two of which are considered anti-gay activists. One of them was named Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, who claimed, among other things, that same-sex marriage was "cancerous" and would lead to polygamy. The other,  Rutgers University Law Profesor Carlos Ball, countered the argument that President Obama acted without precedent in refusing to defend a law, citing instances where Presidents Reagan, H.W. Bush, and W. Bush did the same. (read more here).


Backward: Kobe Bryant's Anti-Gay Slur
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers was fined $100,000 for an anti-gay slur, which was said to an NBA referee.

Backward: Deportation of Gay Spouses
As it stands right now, gay married spouses are being deported, whereas a straight marriage could allow an individual to stay in the US. However, 48 members of the US House of Representatives have signed a letter asking the Obama administration to suspend these deportations until DOMA issues (see here) are resolved. Basically, the Obama Administration has declared DOMA unconstitutional, and will no longer defend it in court. However, the administration must enforce the law until it is overturned. House members are hoping that deportations can be stopped until this issue is sorted out.

Backward: Transgender Rights in Maryland Falter
A transgender rights bill has died in the Maryland Senate. 

Forward: Transgender Rights in Nevada Succeed
The Nevada Assembly has voted in favor of Bill 211, a bill that prohibits job discrimination against transgender individuals.

Backward: Facebook's Recent Anti-Gay Actions 
And I was so proud of Facebook earlier this year! After two men were thrown out of a bar for kissing in the UK, supporters created a "kiss-in" event on Facebook meant to protest. Facebook removed this event because it had a picture of two men kissing from a soap opera, two men of consenting age, fully clothed (see right).


Forward: LGBT History to be Taught in California Schools?
Possibly! There's a bill that passed the senate that would mandate the teaching of LGBT history and influential people, although the age group that would be taught the material would be up to the discretion of the schools. 


It's Complicated?
The Ongoing Defense of Marriage Act Dilemma 
The issues surrounding the Defense of Marriage Act (see here) can be extremely confusing and is at the centerpiece of the gay rights fight right now. This article (it’s extremely informative, check it out!) describes how DOMA is negatively impacting lesbian and gay couples across the country. 
However, as of April 1st, the Department of Health and Human Services has informed states that they can treat gay couples the same as straight couples when it comes to benefits. 


So, there are incremental movements, but in the large scheme of things, legal equality is still leaps and bounds away. 

This is true for all the news above; absolute legal equality is still far away, but it is achievable. Small picture, each of these issues individually may not seem world-changing. It's the amalgamation of all these issues that will slowly but surely initiate real change. 

But this change only comes with increased acceptance and a willingness for people to advocate for the oppressed. That means you, me, and everyone else. Things are happening, it's time to get on board.



[If there's a news story you think I should write about, feel free to send me an email (coonjaime@gmail.com), or if you're friends with me on Facebook I can take suggestions there, too. I get many of my stories from my friends, family, and readers!] 

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