Salt Lake City, UT - Utah Bans Discussion of Homosexuality and Contraceptives â€“ 3.8
Utahâ€™s legislature gave final passage with a Senate vote of 19-10 to an â€śabstinence onlyâ€ť sex education bill that also forbids discussion of homosexuality even if the student asks. After the new bill goes into effect, the teaching of sex education in Utah classrooms has to be about not having sex before marriage and fidelity within marriage. Teachers cannot advocate the use of contraceptives anymore, and they cannot talk about homosexuality, even if asked by a student. HB 363 would also allow any Utah school to opt out of sex education and would ban students from talking to their teachers about pre-marital sex. â€śMy problem is that weâ€™re having essentially complete strangers teaching our children, who frankly we donâ€™t know who they are and exactly what theyâ€™re teaching, with the most sensitive issues that do belong in the home,â€ť said one Republican senator during the floor debate. Opponents of the bill, most of them Senate Democrats, say HB 363 is out of touch with reality.
Source: Fox 13
Orono, ME - Maine Lawmakers Send Same-Sex Marriage Measure to Ballot â€“ 3.13
The Maine House of Representatives unanimously voted to indefinitely postpone the citizen initiative to legalize same-sex marriage, which has the effect of sending it directly to voters. Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, a supporter of gay marriage, made the motion. â€śWe just think this should be decided by the voters,â€ť said Cainâ€™s spokeswoman, Jodi Quintero. â€śWe would like to see this citizen initiative succeed.â€ť
The action by the House avoids a public hearing and a recorded vote by lawmakers. In 2009, the Legislature, which was then controlled by Democrats, held a day long hearing at the Augusta Civic Center where hundreds of people testified on both sides of the issue. A recent poll shows Maine voters will probably approve it. They will most likely reverse their 2009 decision and legalize gay marriage in the state this fall. 54% think gay marriage should be legal, while only 41% think it should be illegal. When asked about the issue using the exact language voters will see on the ballot this fall, they say theyâ€™re inclined to support the referendum by a 47-32 margin.
Source: Kennebec Journal
Omaha, NE - City Council Passes LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Bill â€“ 3.13
Omaha Nebraskaâ€™s City Council passed a bill protecting its LGBTQ residents to â€śfile complaints with Omahaâ€™s Human Rights and Relations Department if they were fired over their orientation, suffered other workplace discrimination or were refused services at restaurants, hotels or other places that serve the public.â€ť Passed 4-3, the council ended weeks of scrutiny and intense lobbying that exposed fractures within the cityâ€™s business and religious communities. The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce decided to remain neutral on the issue, citing a split in its membership. Garry Gernandt, the South Omaha council member who voted against a similar proposal in 2010, cast a surprise swing vote in favor of the ordinance. â€śWe are all part of the human race,â€ť he said. Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle praised the vote: â€śI applaud the City Council for their actions today and I look forward to signing this ordinance into law. I want to thank Councilman Ben Gray for his dedication and leadership in bringing this action forward, not once but twice, and for working with community leaders and his colleagues on the council to find consensus for a final ordinance.â€ť
Source: World Herald
Raleigh, NC - North Carolina Battles to Defeat Amendment One â€“ 3.15
In North Carolina, an urgent battle is underway to defeat Amendment One, an extreme measure that would constitutionally ban same-sex marriage there. It will appear on the ballot on May 8. North Carolina is the most progressive state in the South. The concept of domestic union/partnership is popular within the majority of the population. Equality North Carolina has 23,000 members who are on board with defeating the measure and Protect All NC Families is leading the way. They need financial support to continue their work. They have also launched an online store. According to the group, 864 new donors have joined the campaign, but they need to raise millions more in the near future to take advantage of a new poll that shows them winning if they expand the electorate. The National Organization for Marriage jumped into the battle earlier this month. The NAACP and every major Democrat has come out in opposition to this amendment. Attorney Ted Olson, one of the chief attorneys arguing against Californiaâ€™s similar anti-equality Proposition 8, is heading to North Carolina to help defeat the amendment.
Source: Protect All NC Families
New Brunswick, NJ - Jury Finds Spying in Rutgers Dorm Was Hate Crime â€“ 3.16
A former Rutgers University student was convicted on all 15 charges he had faced for using a webcam to spy on his roommate having sex with another man, a verdict poised to broaden the definition of hate crimes in an era when laws have not kept up with evolving technology.
â€śItâ€™s a watershed moment, because it says youth is not immunity,â€ť said Marcellus McRae, former federal prosecutor. Dharun Ravi had sent out Twitter and text messages encouraging others to watch. His roommate, Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge three days after the webcam viewing, three weeks into their freshman year in September 2010. The case set off a debate about whether hate-crime statutes are the best way to deal with bullying. While Ravi was not charged with Clementiâ€™s death, legal experts argued he was being punished for it. They and Raviâ€™s lawyers argued the case was criminalizing simple boorish behavior. But Bruce J. Kaplan, the prosecutor in Middlesex County, applauded the jury for sending a strong message against bias. â€śThey felt the pain of Tyler,â€ť he said.
Source: NY Times