Google has officially come out in opposition to Proposition 8, the Nov. 4 ballot measure that would undo the California Supreme Courtâ€™s legalization of same-sex marriage by amending the state constitution.
â€śIt is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8,â€ť said co-founder Sergey Brin. â€śWhile we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 â€” we should not eliminate anyoneâ€™s fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.â€ť"
Brin said Google does â€śnot generally take a position on issues outside of our field,â€ť but that this was a special case because of Prop 8â€™s direct effect on so many Google employees.
California Protects Gay Seniors
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Sept. 28 to help prevent anti-gay bias in senior-care facilities and nursing homes.
The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, requires licensed health care professionals who have constant interaction with seniors to attend a training program on preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
â€śSome members of the (GLBT) community living in nursing homes have been denied their most basic rights, including the simple choice to spend time with a loved one, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,â€ť said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. â€śWe appreciate the support of Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Legislature for approving this measure, which will proactively create a culture of respect and understanding for all seniors living in care facilities.â€ť
EQCA said basic rights such as the choice to live in the same nursing home with a partner and the right to hospital visitation are routinely denied to older same-sex couples.
Lambda Legal Sues Tenn. City
Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit against Johnson City, Tenn., Sept. 30 on behalf of Kenneth Giles, whose photo was released to the media after he was arrested in a sting operation targeting men who have sex with each other in public environments.
Photos of 39 other men arrested in the crackdown also were released.
â€śIn America, the police do not get to add an extra punishment to people they donâ€™t like,â€ť said Lambdaâ€™s Greg Nevins. â€śThey also do not get to ignore the principle of innocent until proven guilty. The JCPD went out of its way to humiliate Mr. Giles and caused irreparable damage.â€ť
On Oct. 1, 2007, the police department issued a press release, personally approved by the police chief, that included photos of the men at the scene of their arrests. Local news gave the story and photos big play, and revealed the menâ€™s addresses.
Lambda later reviewed more than a yearâ€™s worth of the police departmentâ€™s press releases and found that out of some 600 releases, none concerning arrests was accompanied by photos â€” nor personally approved by the chief..
One of the 40 men later committed suicide and several were fired, including Giles, who was a nurse at a Veterans Affairs hospital.
Lambda Legal claims the police department violated federal equal-protection law in singling the men out for harsher treatment by making their images available to the media.
U.S. HIV Ban Still Not Dead
Two months after Congress and President George W. Bush repealed a law banning HIV-positive visitors and immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security announced Sept. 30 that it has â€śstreamlinedâ€ť the process for issuing waivers to HIV-positive foreigners who wish to visit for fewer than 30 days.
â€śThe timing of these regulations is deeply troubling,â€ť said Victoria Neilson, legal director of Immigration Equality. â€śCongress issued a bipartisan message to this administration: Remove HIV as a barrier to travel and immigration. Instead of simply ending the HIV travel ban, the administration is again treating HIV differently from any other medical condition.â€ť
The July repeal of the statutory ban was included in a bill that re-funded the Presidentâ€™s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which Bush was keen to get done. But regulatory changes at the Department of Health and Human Services also are needed to remove HIV from a list of â€ścommunicable diseases of public health significanceâ€ť for visa purposes â€” a list that exists under a different law than the one that was repealed..
Meanwhile, under Homeland Securityâ€™s streamlined waiver process, a short-term HIV-positive traveler still will have to meet several stringent criteria, as well as give up the right to apply for a green card from within the U.S., even if he or she marries a U.S. citizen.
â€śRather than continuing forward with this unnecessary and potentially harmful visa-waiver process rule, the president should actively work to ensure that his administration eliminates HIV from this disease list before he leaves office in January,â€ť said U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, who led the effort in the House of Representatives that repealed the statutory ban.
-assistance: Bill Kelley