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November 29, 2008

Totally Gay Good News Roundup

Even though we still have a lot of work to do regarding the fight for same-sex marriage, there has been some good news on the gay rights front both in the U.S. and internationally.

CALIFORNIA

Last week, California's Supreme Court voted 6 to 1 to review legal challenges to Proposition 8. The court may hold a hearing on the lawsuits as early as March.

A statement from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office:
"The governor believes the Supreme Court ought to bring clarity to this issue." ...Schwarzenegger has said he expected the court to overturn the proposition and indicated that he favored that outcome.
UCLA law professor Brad Sears, an expert on sexual orientation law, gave his opinion:
"If the justices were really leaning towards upholding Prop. 8, and that was clear, they would have wanted to do it as quickly as possible and put the issue to rest." ...He said the delay could indicate that the justices were divided and needed time to resolve the issues.

FLORIDA

Florida's 50-year-old ban on gay adoptions was ruled unconstitutional by a Miami-Dade Circuit Judge on Tuesday.

Judge Cindy Lederman:
"There is no question the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida's goal of providing [foster] children a permanent family through adoption.''
"The challenged statute, in precluding otherwise qualified homosexuals from adopting available children does not promote the interests of children and, in effect, causes harm to the children it is meant to protect."
"It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent."

IOWA

On December 9, Iowa's Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether their "Defense of Marriage Act" (a decade-old ban on same-sex marriage) is unconstitutional.

In August 2007, Iowa District Court for Polk County Judge Robert Hanson ruled that the act violated the state constitutional rights of equal protection and due process. An appeal was filed by a Polk County attorney less than 24 hours later, but dozens of couples applied for licenses in the few hours that same-sex marriage was legal in Iowa. (Only one couple was able to actually get married before the stay was enacted).



NEPAL

The Nepali Supreme Court issued a historic court ruling granting protections and rights for sexual and gender minorities. The ruling includes the following concepts:

  • laws providing equal rights for "all individuals with different sexual orientations and gender identities" are necessary
  • a committee to study the various same-sex marriage/partnership laws in other countries will be created in order to determine how to move forward with a potential same-sex partnership act for Nepal
  • cross-dressing should be "taken as individual's freedom of expression"
  • LGBT individuals must be defined as "natural persons" ("...their physical growth as well as sexual orientation, gender identity, expression are all part of natural growing process. Thus equal rights, identity and expression must be ensured regardless of their sex at birth.”)

AUSTRALIA

Australia's Senate has passed legislation giving homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples and it is expected to pass in the House of Representatives next.

Although they have ruled out legalizing same-sex marriages... family, health and taxation laws will now give same-sex couples access to the same services as opposite-sex couples living together in "common-law" or "de facto" relationships. This includes family benefits under the state-run health care program, the choice to leave their retirement benefits to their partners if they die, and the ability to confer parental rights on couples their children.


UNITED KINGDOM

The Rugby Football League has become the first national governing body of a major sport to sign up and support an anti-homophobia campaign in Britain.

Teaming with the organization, Stonewall, the league will display posters and logos reading "Some people are gay. Get over it!" at rugby league grounds, in programs (etc.) in an attempt to promote homosexual/bisexual equality in sport. Forums will also be set up for GLBT players and staff. The campaign will officially be launched after the season starts in February.

Stonewall's chief executive, Ben Summerskill:
"Homophobia still deters far too many gay people from being both fans and participants in sport. We hope that we'll soon see a British Ian Roberts, an iconic Rugby League player able both to come out as gay and play world class rugby at the same time."

"Boys, including those who are heterosexual, can be deterred by the macho culture. While girls can be put off sport because so many leading sportswomen are derided as being lesbian.

"The vision shown by RFL is an absolutely ground-breaking step in making sport more accessible."

Stonewall recently awarded Nigel Owens, a rugby union referee and the first openly homosexual official to oversee a world cup match, their Sportsman of the Year 2007.

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