Human Rights Campaign
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I am a 24-year-old straight single woman. If I were to get married in a courthouse, the church whose beliefs I ascribe to would call this a civil union and not a sacramental marriage. If I were then to obtain a legal divorce, my church would not recognize the dissolution of my marriage unless I obtained an annulment, thereby rendering any subsequent marriage an adultery in the eyes of God. I accept these things because I have chosen to abide by the rules of this faith.
What I don't understand is why we are fighting about same-sex marriage. If the government chooses to allow same-sex marriage, how does this make any difference in the eyes of the churches? They already can deny marriage to couples who don't choose to abide by their rules, and a lifting of a government ban won't change this First Amendment-protected right. The separation of church and state is a fundamental concept in the operation of our nation, but it's being overlooked here.
As to concerns about family values and moral corruption (which I won't comment on), aren't we as Christians (unfortunately, most of the group that is up in arms) called to love our neighbors -- everyone -- even if it's someone whose life choices we don't agree with? This battle is not one that should be fought on the national government scale.
We have more important things to worry about as a country -- like the extent of our foreign aid when there are millions in our own cities and rural areas in poverty without adequate housing, food or medical care. When we fight about issues like same-sex marriage, we are crippling the power of democracy, which we are so blessed to have. Let's stop being so selfish.
Jodi Dubyoski, Catonsville
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A heterosexual UK couple have given only their initials to the council registrars at Islington Town Hall in hopes that they'll be able to enter into a civil parttnership, the Daily Mail reports:
"Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, both 25, are determined to become the first straight couple to wed in a civil partnership. The pair last night branded marriage 'an apartheid' that segregates straight and gay people. The civil servants, who live in Holloway, north London, and have been together nearly four years, said they want the same legal rights as a husband and wife. But they do not want to enter an institution that is closed to homosexuals.
So, in the interests of equality, they are demanding that they be allowed to enter a civil partnership. Mr Freeman said: 'Ideally we'd have the option of a civil partnership or a marriage, regardless of whether we were straight or gay.
Effectively marriage and civil partnerships are exactly the same - it's a duplicate law. The effects and legal processes are identical. The rights and obligations are identical.' He added: 'Civil partnerships are equality in all but name - so why not just have equality?"
UK activist Peter Tatchell is on board: "The ban on heterosexual civil partnerships is heterophobic. It is discriminatory and offensive. I want to see it ended so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership. I applaud their challenge to this unjust law."
Fearful that Chris Christie’s victory in last week’s gubernatorial race sidelines "marriage equality" in New Jersey for at least four years, same-sex marriage advocates throughout the state are urging legislators to pass a same-sex marriage bill before Gov. Jon Corzine leaves office.
Their effort is not likely to come without a fight.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), emboldened by last week’s election in Maine, where voters narrowly rejected a state law that would have allowed gay couples to wed, vows to fight any attempt to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey.
Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality (GSE), rallied his troops on the third floor of a Bloomfield Avenue office building the night after last week’s election, in what was dubbed an "emergency meeting" to discuss the future of same-sex marriage in New Jersey.
Standing on a chair in the middle of a conference room packed with supporters, Goldstein said "all stars" in the Legislature – including state Senators Dick Codey and Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Roberts – are on the side of same-sex marriage advocates, even if the governor-elect is not.
"We have about two-and-a-half months to win marriage equality," Goldstein said. "It’s not over."
More than 100 same-sex marriage supporters appeared at the rally, including numerous teenagers and younger children. Justine Appel, 16, a Montclair High School junior, said it’s necessary for young people "to stand up" and fight for the civil rights of all citzens.
Christie’s election makes the fight more urgent, Appel said.
"It’s now or never," she said.
Maggie Gallagher, president of NOM, contends Maine voters’ decision in last week’s election to reject same-sex marriage "blasted a hole in the narrative" that public opinion is shifting in the direction of gay marriage advocates. Quite the contrary, Gallagher told The Times.
Christie has vowed to veto any same-sex marriage legislation, a promise Gallagher expects him to keep. Any attempt to approve gay marriage before he takes office is a sign that GSE and its supporters do not trust New Jersey voters, she said.
"That’s about getting it as far from an election as they possibly can," said Gallagher.
Montclair is represented in the state Assembly by Thomas Giblin and Sheila Oliver, and in the state Senate by Nia Gill, all Democrats. Giblin did not respond to a request for comment, while Oliver said she supports giving Corzine a same-sex marriage bill to sign before he leaves office. Gill is the co-sponsor, with Weinburg, of a same-sex marriage bill that she wants signed into law, one of Gill’s aides told The Times.
Despite Maine’s election results, popular opinion in the United States is shifting toward acceptance of same-sex marriage, according to a study by two Columbia University professors and published in August by the American Political Science Review. The analysis finds that since 1994, all 50 states have seen an increase in public support for gay marriage.
In 1994, public support for gay marriage ranged from 12 percent in Utah to 36 percent in New York. In 2008, Utah was still last, with only 17 percent support, and leading with 56 percent was California, where, ironically, voters that year approved amending the state Constitution to define marriage as "between a man and a woman."
Nearly 50 percent of New Jersey residents in 2008 supported gay marriage, up from 27 percent in 1994, according to the study.
Gina Pastino of Montclair has been with her partner, Naomi Cohen, for 15 years. The two became civil-union partners when that law went into effect two years ago. They have two children, Sophia, 6, and Griffin, 3.
Pastino, 41, one the 100-plus attendees of last week’s GSE meeting, told The Times that the limitations of civil unions became apparent when she was hospitalized last year. An emergency-room doctor would not share information about her status with Cohen, regardless of their legal relationship, noted Pastino.
Legalizing same-sex marriage would solve that problem, she said.
"If you tell someone you’re in a civil union, people ask what that is," Pastino said. "People know what marriage is."
Contact Terrence T. McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org
An Alabama school has cancelled its prom because one of the organisers, a lesbian student, asked permission to bring her girlfriend.
Cynthia Stewart, a 17-year-old junior at Tharptown High School, had raised over $200 dollars personally for the event and had thought of the theme.
However, when she asked the school principal if her girlfriend could attend the prom, her request was denied. Stewart was also made to remove a sticker which said “I am a lesbian” and told she did not have much free speech at school.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has now taken up her case, demanding that Franklin County School System officials reverse the decision.
A letter sent from the organisation to the school also pointed out that officials had violated Stewart's First Amendment rights by asking her to remove her sticker.
Some teachers told classes last Thursday that prom was being cancelled altogether as a way to avoid having to Stewart attend with her girlfriend.
Finally, at least one teacher made statements to students on Monday indicating that the prom is back on, but there has still been no reversal on the decision about Stewart.
(Let me first say, I love the work that the ACLU does on behalf of ensuring equality. I preface with that because there are also many times where our efforts to be "fair" to one person or group may infact infringe upon the rights of others. Why did it have to be a major issue who this young lady brought to the prom? I didn't take a girl to my senior prom, but I didn't advertise it either. No one would have denied this young lady admittance if she showed up with another young lady on the night of the event...we have a responsibility in our quest for equality to be fair to those who just don't get it").
The student said: "I can't believe my school is doing all of this just to keep me from bringing my girlfriend to the prom.
"All I want is to be able to be myself and go to my prom with the person I love, just like any other student wants to do."
The ACLU has given school officials until November 20th to respond to the letter.
FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth City Council voted 6-3 late Tuesday to expand its anti-discrimination ordinance to include transgender people, capping a marathon debate over a series of gay-rights proposals that were forwarded after a controversial inspection of a gay bar.
A majority of council members spoke in favor of the proposal when it was introduced last week.
The inspection at the Rainbow Lounge in June left a man injured and sparked protests in the city.
Fort Worth officials appointed a task force to recommend ways to mend fences with the gay community shortly afterward.
The vote dealt only with one facet of the proposals: expanding the city's anti-discrimination ordinance to include transgender people. The ordinance already prevented discrimination based on race, sex, religion or sexual orientation.
A lot of the debate, though, centered on broader proposals, some of which the council has already tacitly approved. City staffers will be trained on dealing with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and the police department has appointed a liaison to the community.
Other recommendations will require further study, including offering domestic-partner benefits and expanding the city health insurance plan to cover gender reassignment procedures.
Crowded council meeting
More than 200 people packed the council chambers, lining the walls and spilling into overflow rooms.
“We believe, as you do, that we should respect each other,” said Jon Nelson of Fairness Fort Worth. “The foundation of these recommendations isn't preferential treatment, it's equal treatment.”
Three transgender people — two transsexual women and a cross-dressing man — were among those who spoke in favor of the ordinance.
“Being a transgender person has nothing to do with a person's ability to do their job,” Victoria Van Fleet said.
Conservative protesters saw the proposals as violating traditional morals. “Is it our city's responsibility to take taxpayer money and promote a lifestyle based on sexual preference or gender identity?” asked Richard Clough, a Republican activist.
Ron Armstrong stood on top of his Bible in front of City Hall to symbolize that he was “standing on the word of God.”
“The law says clearly no man is supposed to lie with a man the way he lies with a woman,” he said.
The city's Human Relations Commission was already working on transgender issues before the Rainbow Lounge incident. About 10 transgender people have complained about discrimination over the last few years, but it wasn't clear if the anti-discrimination ordinance protected them, city Human Relations Director Vanessa Boling said.
The commission took testimony from people who were threatened or ridiculed because they were transgender, or who had problems finding jobs and housing, said the Rev. Estrus Tucker, chairman of the commission.
“It wasn't about choice, it's who they are,” Tucker said. “When you listen to some of the stories, people wouldn't choose to go through it.”
MIKE LEE MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICES
Gay Marriage is heating up as well as fizzling all at the same time all over the country, actually. In Washington, D.C., if you didn't get the tweet earlier (twitter.com/familyblendz), the city council wanted to "broaden" an exemption that would protect businesses and organizations from discriminatory lawsuits filed by same sex couples for being denied business services.
One Councilmember, Yvette Alexander, wanted to go even further and prevent lawsuits toward individuals from same sex couples as well. But an attempt by those opposed to gay marriage to broaden those exceptions outside the church community has garnered meager council support. Alexander was rejected.
“Just as we’re protecting large institutions, we should ensure that individuals can be afforded the same liberties and protections,” said Alexander, who cast the five-member committee’s lone “no” vote, citing her ward’s “overwhelming” opposition to same-sex marriage.
The legislation to expand the provision was adopted Tuesday by the D.C. Council’s judiciary committee, provides that any religious society can deny a gay couple services, facilities, goods or accommodations related to their wedding without fear of liability.
Listen, my view on this is simple, regardless of my sexual preferences, life preferences, preferences, if you don't want to serve me, if you don't want my money because you think your religous beliefs are compromised? Ok. Familyblendz is always in support of policy that protects everybody. What I mean by that is this;how many people didn't want to serve muslims right after 9-11? Your fear caused that reaction. With Education, awareness, our perception of that changed.
As long as we are not saying that someone can just look at me and decide, "he must be gay, so um not going render my business services to him", as long as we are not condoning and making provision for discrimination in our governing, I'm okay with it.
If my desire to get married, affects your beliefs in your small bridal business, you should be required to inform me of that, and further, I should be required to accept that you are not comfortable with that. Come on guys, its not that hard to understand that everyone is not in support of our lifestyle. Their lack of support, I can live with, their discriminatory acts towards me and my family;I cannot accept.
“That shield of course would be an invitation to act on that discriminatory impulse,” said Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh.
In Bernalillo County, N.M., in 2006, photographer Elaine Huguenin refused to provide services for a gay couple’s commitment ceremony, citing her religious beliefs. The couple filed a sexual orientation discrimination complaint. The New Mexico Commission on Human Rights, after investigating, found the complaint justified and ordered Huguenin to pay attorney’s fees totaling $6,637.94.
The photographer has appealed to New Mexico’s 2nd District court. The lawsuit threatens to affect gay marriages, and who must participate in them, if it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court — where Huguenin’s lawyers have promised to take it.
Opponents of D.C.’s gay marriage bill argue the religious liberty exemption is too narrow. The Washington Archdiocese, for example, said in a statement that the legislation “leaves religious organizations and individuals at risk for adhering to the teachings of their faith.”
But the Rev. Dennis Wiley, pastor of D.C.’s Covenant Baptist Church and a gay marriage supporter, said the bill “clearly protects clergy who disagree with me about marriage equality while also standing by the tenants of inclusion” that the District is known for.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The American Medical Association voted Tuesday to oppose the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military and declared that same-sex marriage bans contribute to health disparities.
The nation's largest doctors' group stopped short of saying it would seek to overturn marriage bans but its new stance angered conservative activists and provides a fresh boost to lobbying efforts by gay-rights advocates.
"It's highly significant that the AMA as one of this country's leading professional associations has taken a position on both of these issues," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington.
The health disparities measure, "in the long run, will certainly help efforts to win marriage equality," Carey said.
Whether the AMA's lobbying power will hasten efforts to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" law remains to be seen. President Obama has said he is working with congressional leaders to end the policy, and the AMA's stance will likely help, although gay rights issues have been upstaged by Obama's health care overhaul battle.
The AMA's vote took place at the group's interim policymaking meeting in Houston,
The health disparities policy is based on evidence showing that married couples are more likely to have health insurance and that the uninsured have a high risk for "living sicker and dying younger," said Dr. Peter Carmel, an AMA board member.
But Jenny Tyree, an analyst for Focus on the Family Action, a conservative advocacy group, called it a health insurance problem, not a marriage problem.
Doctors who pushed the group to oppose "don't ask, don't tell" say forcing gay service members to keep their sexual orientation secret has "a chilling effect" on open communication between gays and their doctors.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/11/MNBC1AICNU.DTL#ixzz0WZiipNO5
Last December, something truly historic happened. Sixty-six countries signed a United Nations’ statement calling for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality and condemning homophobic discrimination and violence. This was the first time the U.N. General Assembly had ever considered the issue of LGBT human rights.
In almost every country on earth, there are LGBT freedom movements — some open, others clandestine. For the first time ever, countries like the Philippines, Estonia, Lebanon, Columbia, Russia, Sri Lanka and China are hosting LGBT conferences and Pridecelebrations.
But, that about sums up all the good news of this posting. It gets pretty graphic from here on out, but its something we need to educate each other on. A new bill before the Ugandan parliament proposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and “serial offenders.” A sentence of life imprisonment will be imposed for touching a person with homosexual intent. Membership in gay organizations, advocacy of gay human rights and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to gay people will result in seven years jail for “promoting” homosexuality.
Failing to report violators to the police within 24 hours would incur three years behind bars. The new legislation will also apply to Ugandans who commit these "crimes" while living abroad, in countries where such behavior is not a criminal offense.
Over the last few years, Uganda has stepped up its victimization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, often at the behest of Christian leaders who are aided and funded by right-wing evangelical churches in the U.S.
Typical is the fate of gay rights activist Kizza Musinguzi. He was jailed in 2004 and subjected to four months of forced labor, water torture, beatings and rape. Any Ugandan who speaks out against anti-gay violence faces dire consequences. A heterosexual Anglican bishop, Christopher Ssenyonjo, was expelled from the Church of Uganda for defending the human rights of LGBT people.
In recent years, the Ugandan government has passed a law banning same-sex marriage, fined Radio Simba for broadcasting a discussion of LGBT issues and expelled a UNAIDS agency director for meeting with gay campaigners.
Similar homophobic persecution is happening elsewhere in Africa, from Nigeria to Cameroon, Burundi, Rwanda and Gambia, where President Yahya Jammeh has called for sexual cleansing. He has promised "stricter laws than Iran" on homosexuality, and has begun his witch-hunt by ordering LGBT people to leave the country and threatening to "cut off the head" of any homosexual who remains.
One hindrance to LGBT rights is that there is no international human rights convention specifically acknowledges sexual rights as human rights. None explicitly guarantee equality and non-discrimination to LGBT people. The right to love a person of one’s choice is wholly absent from global humanitarian statutes. Relationships between partners of the same sex is not specifically recognized in any international law. There is nothing in any of the many U.N. conventions that explicitly prohibits homophobic discrimination and protects LGBT people.
Of the 192 member states of the U.N., only a handful come close to giving full equality and protection against discrimination to LGBT people: the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K.
In much of the world, homophobia is still rampant. About 80 countries continue to outlaw homosexuality, with penalties ranging from one year’s jail to life imprisonment. More than half of these countries were former British colonies. Their anti-gay laws were originally imposed by the British in the 19th century, during the period of colonial rule. These homophobic laws, which were retained after independence, are wrecking the lives of LGBT people.
In the new post-Saddam Hussein “democratic” Iraq, people who murder LGBTs to defend the “honor” of their family invariably escape punishment. The rise of Islamist fundamentalism has led to the creeping, de facto imposition of Shariah law, with deadly consequences for LGBTs and for women who refuse to be veiled. The U.S. and U.K.-backed Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has issued a fatwa calling for the execution of lesbians and gays in the “worst, most severe way possible.” Islamist death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias are assassinating LGBT people with impunity.
Russian religious leaders have united to orchestrate hatred against the LGBT community. The Orthodox Church has denounced homosexuality as a "sin which destroys human beings and condemns them to a spiritual death." The Chief Mufti of Russia 's Muslims, Talgat Tajuddin, says gay campaigners “should be bashed … . Sexual minorities have no rights, because they have crossed the line. Alternative sexuality is a crime against God.” Russian Chief Rabbi, Berl Lazar, has condemned gay pride parades as “a blow for morality," adding that there is no right to “sexual perversions."
The Iranian persecution of LGBTs continues unabated. Twenty-two-year-old Amir was entrapped via a gay dating website. The person he arranged to meet turned out to be a member of the morality police. Amir was jailed, tortured and sentenced to 100 lashes, which caused him to lose consciousness and left his whole back covered in huge bloody welts.
The Western-backed regime in Saudi Arabia retains the death penalty (usually beheading) for homosexuality. In early 2006, its neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, imposed six years jail on 11 gay men arrested at a private party. They were not imprisoned for sexual acts, but merely for being gay and attending a gay social gathering.
Businesses scoring 100 on HRC Corporate Equality Index on hand
It’s WOW Wednesday with the Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to honor local Atlanta companies with a 100 percent Corporate Equality Index score from the Human Rights Campaign.
A panel will include representatives from Cox Enterprises, Deloitte, ING, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Turner Broadcasting and others.
The panel is from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the 191 Club, 191 Peachtree St. NE. Visit www.atlantagaychamber.org for more information.
Here’s the deal: There’s a bill before the state legislature that would allow gay couples to marry. Lame duck governor Jon Corzine has pledged to sign the bill, should the legislature pass it. Governor-to-be Chris Christie opposes gay marriage. And as a result of this bit of political timing, the loud and obnoxious anti-gay-marriage lobby is getting ready to descend on the Garden State to campaign against it.
This is going to get loud and obnoxious. As for me? Well, as you might infer from my writing thus far, I am for same-sex marriage. Well, “for” might be a little strong. I’m more in the “couldn’t care less” category. You’re gay? You want to get married? Go for it. What do I care?
In fact, I’m about to coin a term, so get your term-coining apparatus ready. Remember Nixon’s “silent majority”? Well, there’s a new majority in town, a majority that’s probably about five or 10 years away from dominating the public discourse, and I’m calling them the “yawning majority.”
It’s basically Generation X, which all of a sudden is hitting middle age, and we don’t get too revved up on social issues. Basically, we are a giant “don’t ask, don’t tell” majority. Same-sex marriage? Yeah, sure. Marijuana for personal use? Knock yourselves out. We really don’t care.
That said, the “yawning majority” hasn’t yet taken over the country, so in the meantime, we’ve got to deal with people like Maggie Gallagher, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, who is a Yale graduate, newspaper columnist, and true blowhard. On their Web site, they say marriage between a man and a women is “common sense” and call the idea of same-sex marriage a “radical social experiment.”
Well, we could argue “common sense” until the cows come home (and that’s not a slam on Ms. Gallagher, despite her cattle-like visage), but to call it a “radical social experiment” is just plain wrong.
Same-sex marriage has been recognized throughout history by the ancient Chinese and by the Roman Empire, and in more recent times by such “radical” countries as Canada, Spain, Belgium, South Africa, Norway, Sweden and Nepal. (Thank you very much, Wikipedia.)
People like Gallagher just don’t get it. The gay cat is out of the fabulous bag. Civil unions between gay couples are already recognized by New Jersey and other states. Gay couples can adopt children. Gay couples are living next door to you, and probably taking better care of their flower beds. (I’m not above the occasional stereotype. Deal with it.)
The next, obvious step is simply allowing gay couples the same rights as non-gay couples. Let them get married. What’s the big deal? (And don’t even, not for one second, bring religion into it. Church and state, my friends, church and state. If you want to live in a theocracy, I’ll buy you the one-way ticket to Tehran. So just zip it, because I promise you, you will lose this argument.)
Hopefully, the state legislature will get it together to pass the bill, and Corzine, in what might be his last stand, signs it. All that happens, I have a great idea for all gay couples thinking of getting married: How about having a mass ceremony on the steps of the Statehouse while Christie is getting inaugurated? Heck, I’d even go mail away for one of those $20 Internet reverend licenses and officiate the ceremony myself.
Read Jeff Edelstein every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The LGBTI movement, which has been gaining momentum since the early ’80s, could very well seem to be the civil rights movement of our generation, since it shares of the same principles as the civil rights movement of the ’60s. However, there are many fundamental differences between the social movements of the late ’60s and today; although “fighting the good fight” seems objectively timeless, the pathology of protest has changed drastically and these two causes cannot be linked if either wishes to remain a relevant call for equality.
The term “civil rights” indicates the rights to personal liberty established by the U.S. Constitution. In this way, both the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the LGBTI movement of today are the same: Just as gays now seek the legal freedoms most people enjoy, blacks sought the same legal rights as whites during the ’60s. Both movements have been spearheaded by young adults on college and high school campuses. Both seek to end or reform unjust or unfair treatment, and both seek changes in legislation and public opinion as a remedy. Both focus on the idea of the personal and political quality of human life, and both have had a long history of the struggle to gain rights. Black people have suffered racial prejudice long before America was a country, and homosexuality has been persecuted for centuries and was considered a disease until 1973.
Yet although these similarities exist, the differences are just as numerous.
Some might say one group or the other has suffered more and therefore a comparison is inappropriate, but comparing the discrimination gays and blacks have suffered and would be like comparing apples and oranges. How can we say that either has suffered more? Having to sit in the back of the bus and being barred from adopting a child are both forms of discrimination, but beyond that, no obvious general ties can be drawn, so we can’t say if the suffering that resulted was equal or not. Also, by making a link between black rights and gay rights, in some ways we forget the many other groups that are discriminated against (the elderly, the handicapped, immigrants, unskilled workers, Native Americans and women, just to name a few.)
By linking two groups we run the risk of minimizing the hardships and hard-won freedoms of both. Not only that, but also by transforming a story of past courage into a lightning rod for current activism, how can we honor the goals accomplished by civil rights leaders? How can we respectfully remember the sacrifices of the civil rights movement if we are trying to relive our own version?
When all is said and done, I support any movement that seeks to provide all people with equal protection of the law. But every group is different, and even though the civil rights movements sought to change the legal situation (de jure), what really matters the most is the actual acceptance into mainstream society (de facto).
If either group wants to be accepted as a whole, they must find pride and strength in their individuality. No close analogy can be drawn between civil rights and gay rights, and it is inappropriate to generalize them by grouping them together; in reality gay rights and civil rights represent diverse people and goals.
The two causes can become blurred together and we may forget that each was a unique cause with a unique goal. If each embraces its identity, then it is more likely that the general public will too, and can ensure the groups are no longer discriminated against even after the legal battles have been won. In any sense, fighting prejudice is a continuing battle, and neither group has won total equality.
Just because I wish I was around for the March on Washington of 1963 doesn’t mean I should give the same support to LGBTI rights without first considering what supporting this cause means to me, to our country and to the people being discriminated against.
*Taylor Nye (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freshman majoring in English, French and Spanish.
Governor Carcieri has vetoed a bill giving domestic partners the right to claim the bodies of — and make funeral arrangements for — their loved ones.
The only one of the dueling defense-of-marriage, same-sex marriage and gay-rights bills introduced in Rhode Island this year that cleared the General Assembly, the legislation was an outgrowth of the wrenching tale that Mark S. Goldberg told lawmakers about his months-long battle last fall to persuade state authorities to release to him the body of his partner of 17 years, Ron Hanby, for cremation.
“I felt as if I was treated not as a second-class citizen, but as a noncitizen,” Goldberg told the Senate Judiciary Committee last winter, because “we were not legally married or blood relatives.”
In his veto message, Republican Carcieri said: “This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue.
“If the General Assembly believes it would like to address the issue of domestic partnerships, it should place the issue on the ballot and let the people of the State of Rhode Island decide,” he wrote.
He took issue with the definition of a domestic partner as “a person who, prior to the decedent’s death, was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the decedent” for at least a year, saying a year “is not a sufficient duration to establish a serious bond between two individuals ... [relative to] issues regarding funeral arrangements, burial rights and disposal of human remains.”
He also questioned “how it would be ascertained in many circumstances whether [a couple] had been in a relationship for year” since there is “no official or recognized form” of domestic partnership agreement in Rhode Island.
Coming on a day when he vetoed more than two dozen bills passed during the legislature’s hectic two-day special session in late October, the veto of this bill unleashed a torrent of anger from gay-rights advocates.
Describing himself as “genuinely upset” by Carcieri’s actions, the House sponsor, Rep. David Segal, D-Providence, said: “I think the man is heartless … [this] doesn’t change the definition of the word ‘marriage.’ ” (Sen. Rhoda Perry sponsored the matching Senate bill.)
“It is completely disgraceful that Governor Carcieri has chosen to ignore and devalue the committed relationships of same-sex couples in this state,” said Karen Loewy, a staff attorney for GLAD, the acronym for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. “Unconscionable,” echoed Kathy Kushnir, executive director of the advocacy group Marriage Equality of Rhode Island.