Olympia, WA- Washington Preparing to Legalize Gay Marriage- 1.23
Washington is set to become the seventh state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. On Monday, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, said that she would cast the 25th and deciding vote in favor of the issue. In a written statement, Haugen explained that she required time
â€śto reconcile my religious beliefs with my beliefs as an American, as a legislator, and as a wife and mother who cannot deny to others the joys and benefits I enjoy. This is the right vote and it is the vote I will cast when this measure comes to the floor.â€ť
It is now expected that the state House has enough supporting votes to pass the gay marriage bill, which Gov. Chris Gregoire also publicly endorsed earlier this month. If the bill does indeed pass, gay and lesbian couples can get married beginning in June of this year, so long as opponents do not file a referendum to challenge it. Opponents have already vowed to fight the measure.
A referendum cannot be filed until after the bill is passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gregoire. The next step for opponents is to then turn in 120,577 signatures by July 6.
Source: Associated Press
Washington, DC- Lesbian U.S. Air Force Officer Attends State of the Union Address- 1.24
Colonel Ginger Wallace, an openly lesbian intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, was one of two openly gay people in the First Ladyâ€™s gallery seats at this weekâ€™s State of the Union Address. The second attendee was Lorelei Kilker, an environmental chemist who was part of the governmentâ€™s class action suit to secure equal wages for women.
Wallace, of McLean, Virginia, and her partner of 11 years, Kathy Knopf, attended the White House reception prior to the address and then watched the speech with others, including Kilker, of Brighton, Colorado, who has a domestic partner and two children. The women sat in a special section of the House balcony to hear the presidentâ€™s speech.
â€śI could not be more honored or proud,â€ť said Wallace, Tuesday morning ahead of the address. â€śIâ€™m representing thousands and thousands who have served or are servingâ€¦. But itâ€™s truly not about us. Itâ€™s about all the gays and lesbians who have served, and those who served and were not as fortunate as I to have full careers, and those who will serve in the future. And it is about our families and partners.â€ť
Source: Keen News Service
Anchorage, AK- National Group Joins Fight over LGBTQ Rights- 1.20
The national conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund believes the gay rights initiative on Anchorageâ€™s April 3 city election ballot, combined with existing Anchorage discrimination laws, goes against religious freedoms. The initiative in question would extend legal protections against discrimination to gays and lesbians in Anchorage.
The present law prohibits discrimination in employment, loans, rentals, real estate deals and other activities on the basis of race, color, marital status, sex, religion and disabilities. The new initiative would add sexual orientation and transgender identity to the list.
Although the initiative made it to the ballot as a result of petitions signed by thousands of voters, both sides are now gearing up for a fight.
Holly Carmichael, a lawyer for the fund, told the Anchorage Daily News, â€śThe ultimate concern with enacting something like that is that it infringes on religious freedoms. Thereâ€™s a huge constitutional concern here.â€ť
Carmichael agrees that religious organizations are already protected by an exemption in city law, but she and others at the fund are concerned that private business owners could be forced to hire or do business with people whose sexual orientation doesnâ€™t match their religious beliefs.
Source: Anchorage Daily News
Indianapolis, IN- Indiana Becomes 2nd State to Offer License Plate Benefiting Gay Youths- 1.23
Indiana this week became the second state to offer a specialty license plate benefiting gay youth causes. It is the first plate to help any LGBTQ cause in the state as well.
The Indiana Youth Group plate bears a logo with hands in rainbow colors reaching up.
Around $25 from sales of each $40 plate goes to the group, which serves lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. The Indianapolis-based organization operates an activity center, helps develop Gay Straight Alliances in high schools and assists communities in forming youth services. It now serves about 1,400 youths and young adults ages 12 to 21.
â€śAll the money will go directly for services to these young people,â€ť Youth Group director Mary Byrne was quoted as saying in the South Bend Tribune. She said Maryland was the first state in the nation with a specialty plate benefiting gay youths.
â€śItâ€™s an incredible way for people to support IYG; for people, especially youth, to know about IYG; and for people to show their pride in who they are,â€ť Byrne added.
Source: South Bend Tribune
Falls Church, VA- Pressure on US Defense Contractor to Protect LGBTQ Employees- 1.24
Through a growing campaign on Change.org, more than 35,000 people are calling on DynCorp International to protect gay and lesbian employees from harassment on the job. DynCorp is one of the largest defense contractors in the US.
Tico Almeida, a civil rights lawyer and founder of the anti-gay workplace discrimination organization Freedom to Work, started the petition after DynCorp settled a suit with a former employee who claimed that repeated anti-gay harassment, including continual verbal slurs in front of managers, was not stopped by officials at the company. Earlier this month, the employee received an out of court settlement for more than $150,000.
â€śIf DynCorp is going to continue profiting from billions of dollars from the American taxpayers, then the corporation should have to abide by American values like judging people based on their talent and hard work, not their sexual orientation or gender identity,â€ť Almeida told Passport magazine. â€śOur taxpayer money should never be used to subsidize bigotry and discrimination.â€ť
Other major defense contractors in the United States, such as Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, do offer workplace protections for LGBTQ employees. DynCorp International, however, does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its anti-harassment policy.
Source: Passport magazine