New Hampshire state Rep. Jim Splaine plans to introduce a bill next year to legalize same-sex marriage. New Hampshire already has a comprehensive same-sex civil-union law, and nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts allow gay couples to marry.
Splaine told the Concord Monitor newspaper that the civil-union law bestows only about 90 percent of the state-level benefits and obligations of marriage, which leaves same-sex couples without full equality under the law.
Some 600 same-sex couples have entered into a civil union in New Hampshire.
California Legislators Introduce Resolutions Opposing Prop 8
Resolutions were introduced in both houses of the California Legislature on Dec. 2 opposing Proposition 8, the voter-passed initiative that amended the state constitution Nov. 4 to re-ban same-sex marriage, which had been legal since June 16, following a state Supreme Court ruling. The resolutions, put forth by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, claim that Prop 8 was an illegal â€śrevisionâ€ť of the California Constitution rather than a mere â€śamendment.â€ť
Fundamental or far-reaching changes (revisions) to the document require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, followed by voter ratification, or a constitutional convention, followed by voter ratification. Amendments, on the other hand, can be passed by 50 percent of voters after being placed on the ballot via a signature-gathering drive, as was the case with Prop 8.
â€śProposition 8â€™s revision to the California Constitution violates key structural checks and balances built into our legal system,â€ť Leno said. â€śOvernight, the constitutional protections of thousands of taxpaying, law-abiding California citizens were stripped from them by a simple majority vote, without a prior two-thirds vote by both houses of the Legislature, thereby trampling on their fundamental right to equal protection.â€ť
Woman Sues After Being Fired for Writing Column
The University of Toledoâ€™s former associate vice president for human resources, Crystal Dixon, filed a federal lawsuit Dec. 1 over being fired after writing a newspaper column that suggested â€śthe homosexual lifestyleâ€ť is a choice that violates Godâ€™s divine order. Dixon claims her dismissal violated the First Amendment and 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which cover free speech and equal protection under the law. The suit says other university employees have expressed their opinions in the media without suffering retribution from the school.
Dixon is demanding reinstatement or back pay, some future pay, court costs and punitive damages.
Larry Burns, the universityâ€™s vice president for external affairs, issued a statement saying, â€śMs. Dixon was in a position of special sensitivity as associate vice president for human resources and this issue is not about freedom of speech, but about her ability to perform that job given her statements in the Toledo Free Press.â€ť
The column appeared on the newspaperâ€™s Web site on April 18. See tinyurl.com/6rkb2l.
Poll: Americans Support Gay Rights
A Harris Interactive poll released Dec. 3 found that Americans support a range of policies and protections for gay people. The Pulse of Equality survey, commissioned by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, found that majorities of Americans favor either marriage or civil unions for gay couples, hate-crime laws to protect gay and transgender people, letting gays in the military serve openly, and allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children.
The telephone survey questioned 2,000 adults between Nov. 13 and 17 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Among the specific findings:
* Seventy-five percent of U.S. adults favor either marriage or domestic partnerships/civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Only 22 percent oppose any legal recognition of gay couples.
* U.S. adults are evenly divided on whether gay couples should have access to marriage â€” 47 percent say yes and 49 percent say no..
* Sixty-four percent think gays in the military should not have to stay closeted, as required by the â€śdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tellâ€ť policy.
* Sixty-three percent support expanding hate-crime laws to cover gay and transgender people. At present, 31 states and the District of Columbia have such laws that cover sexual orientation and 12 of those laws also encompass gender identity.
* Fifty-one percent favor protecting gay and transgender people under existing laws that ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have such laws that cover sexual orientation and 13 of those laws also encompass gender identity.
* Sixty-nine percent oppose bans on gay adoption.
â€śWe observed a positive relationship between knowing a gay or transgender person and oneâ€™s attitudes toward them and the policy issues that affect their lives,â€ť said Laura Light, Harris Interactiveâ€™s vice president of public-relations research.
â€śBased on other surveys we have conducted on attitudes toward LGBT people and issues, the results of this survey suggest that public sentiment in the U.S. is trending toward greater acceptance of gay- and transgender-related policy issues.â€ť
The survey found that people under 65, and especially those 18-34, are more gay-friendly than people over 65. Women are generally more supportive than men. Latinos are more supportive than whites and blacks when it comes to gays in the military. Blacks are more supportive than whites and Latinos on hate-crime laws. And Catholics and â€śmainlineâ€ť Christians (Protestant, Mormon or â€śother Christianâ€ť) are more supportive than â€śborn-againâ€ť Protestants, Mormons or other Christians.
Nineteen percent of those questioned said their feelings toward gay people have become more favorable over the past five years. They attributed the change to such things as knowing someone who is gay, seeing gay people on TV and in movies, passage of gay-friendly laws, news coverage of gay issues, and learning of the gay-friendly positions of friends, family members and religious leaders.
â€śKnowing someone who is gay or lesbianâ€ť was the most significant factor, cited by 79 percent of those whose feelings had evolved.
Seventy-three percent of those questioned know or work with a gay or transgender person and half of that 73 percent know or work with five or more gay or transgender people, the survey found.
Full poll results: tinyurl.com/6nojlq.
-assistance: Bill Kelley