Human Rights Campaign
Friday, December 18, 2009
A same-sex couple who fought for the right to marry in Austin, Texas, now are split on the right to legally end their relationship, lawyers say.
Before we get further into this story, this is the same stuff I've been bringing to you and discussing for an entire year now. EQUALITY IS NOT A DAGGER WE CAN USE TO GET WHAT WE WANT AT ALL COST...ONLY THEN TO TURN OUR BACKS ON IT ALL TO GET OUT OF WHAT WE ONCE THOUGHT WE WANTED. It is a shame and it tharts the entire "equality" argument.
It says the GLBT Community will say and do just about anything to get what they want, i.e. Same Sex Marriage, Adoption Rights, Employer Benefits, Universal HealthCare and etc. It says the GLBT Community further confirms its opponents stance as unstable.
Five years after marrying in Massachusetts, Angelique Naylor's spouse is contesting the split, arguing that since Texas doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, the dissolution shouldn't be recognized either, KXAN-TV, Austin, reported. So now, it is apparently easier to use the states lack of equality for her benefit. Amazing!
"It's not about special rights," Naylor said of her desire to end the union. "It's about equal rights. I want my divorce like the 15 divorce cases that I witnessed today between men and women."
Anne Wynne, a family law expert and equal rights activist, said the decision Texas judges make in Naylor's case and others will have major repercussions for the state, the television station reported Thursday.
"It has huge implications," Wynne said. "It means they get treated like every other citizen in this state."
In a statement on Naylor's case, state Attorney General Greg Abbott said his office would be monitoring the proceedings and "if necessary, take appropriate steps to defend the Texas Constitution."
Since Texas doesn't recognize same-sex marriage or same-sex divorce, Abbott said the proper legal mechanism is "voidance," or voiding their out-of-state. How "equal" or fair is that to those who are not gay? Why don't we just permit everyone in the union to "void" out their responsibilities? This pushes the rights for gay adoption further into an abyss and therefore provides a shot in the arm for all GLBT adversaries. Amazing.
So now, will we finally have a real discussion on Equality? Can we now come to terms on how we need to grasp this message and use it for all americans, not just the gay citizens. Only then with this fight yield positive results both here and abroad.
Consensual homosexual acts between adults are still illegal in as many as 70 countries. Most countries have moved to a liberalisation of those unjust and repressive laws. In Uganda, however, the Hon David Bahati has sponsored an anti-homosexuality bill far more draconian than the already existing code. It begins with principles and threats: the value of traditional family values, the threat of homosexual infection.
The logic of the bill is this: "This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic." But only if sexual orientation is voluntary can a person be held accountable for his or her choice. Science has concluded that sexual orientation is a core personality trait, not a choice. You no more choose to be gay or bisexual than you choose to be left-handed or ambidextrous; it's a morally neutral position.
Sexual expression and behaviour, however, is cultural and psychological, just like the expression of many other core personality traits. Innate traits express themselves in a multitude of ways, depending on the psychological, cultural and political environment. Cultures, like people, can be alcoholic (Soviet Russia), homosexual (ancient Greece), conformist or liberal, creative or stifling. Knowingly or unknowingly, homophobic governments make the category mistake of confusing core personality with cultural expression, criminalising, in the process, a fairly stable and substantial minority of any given population.
In this case, Bahati wants to get rid of those pesky "sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity", as well as gay pornographers and paedophiles. There is no distinction in his mind between people who fall in love with people of their own gender, and sexual sleaze and crime: it's all a filthy mess of HIV, pornography, western values, decadence, feminism and predation. The draft bill separates "the offence of homosexuality" from "aggravated homosexuality". The former is consensual but the bill addresses only the "offender", as though in gay relationships there is only ever a perpetrator and a victim:
(1) a person commits the offence of homosexuality if
(a) he penetrates the anus or mouth of another person of the same sex with his penis or any other sexual contraption;
(b) he or she uses any object of sexual contraption to penetrate or stimulate sexual organ of a person of the same sex;
(c) he or she touches another person with the intention of committing . . . homosexuality.
(2) a person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.
The second, more serious offence of "aggravated homosexuality" turns on the notion of the "serial offender", defined in the introduction to the law as "a person who has previous convictions of the offence of homosexuality or related offences." Anyone who is a confirmed gay man or lesbian and already has a sexual history faces the death penalty, alongside homosexual rapists and child abusers.
This is how the law will work: victims are not to be penalised; they are to be assisted, and their identities protected. Judges may order that the offender has to pay them compensation. In addition, "aiding", "abetting" or "promoting" homosexuality becomes illegal. Perhaps, most importantly, failure to inform the authorities, within 24 hours, of suspected homosexuals is criminalised. The Ugandan people must turn informants - or risk jail. Lovers must choose between "victim" or "offender"; the former protected and paid, the latter imprisoned or killed.
A culture of violence
Criminalisation of homosexuals in Britain led to blackmail, prison sentences, hormonal "treatments", suicides, sexual repression and ruined lives. The Ugandan bill, however, like the Nazi laws before it, makes homosexuality punishable, ultimately, by death.
A decade ago, I visited the vast refugee camps in the north of Uganda. The Lord's Resistance Army had been conducting murderous raids from their camps in Southern Sudan, abducting children. The abducted boys, brutalised and drugged, became soldiers; the girls were kept as slaves. I remember the fixed smiles of the girls who had managed to escape from captivity. I remember their drawings of killings and death. Sexual violence is everywhere in Uganda. This bill, too, is part of that culture. And what is the death penalty for homosexuality if not sexual murder? The state that sets out to purge the nation of homosexuality becomes, in the end, itself a sexual predator.
by Howard Gleckman
Interesting discussion today at a TPC forum on the tax and benefits consequences of being gay. The benefit issues are probably larger, but this is TaxVox, so let’s look at taxes.
As my TPC colleague Bob Williams noted, when it comes to federal taxes the question is not whether you are gay or straight, but whether or not you are married. Depending on the relative income of each spouse, married couples either enjoy a marriage bonus or suffer a marriage penalty. Of course, heterosexuals can choose to marry or not and live with the tax consequences. Gays and lesbians have no such option. Even though a handful of states now recognize gay marriage, for federal tax purposes their marital status is irrelevant. As a result of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, gays cannot be married for federal law purposes.
This creates a number of problems for these couples, some very serious, others merely annoying. For instance, Massachusetts recognizes gay marriage. But it requires all married couples to file jointly and it piggybacks its returns on the federal 1040. Trouble is, gay couples are not allowed to file a joint federal return. So they must fill out two single IRS returns, then a joint federal return that they are not allowed to file, and finally a state return based on their illegal Form 1040. More seriously, while many businesses now provide spousal benefits to gay couples, the value of the non-employee’s benefits is taxable for unmarried couples, but tax free for those who are married.
While many politicians are perfectly happy with this state of affairs, there is growing interest in treating gay couples equally with heterosexual couples under the Tax Code. So how to do it? One option would be to eliminate joint filing entirely and have everyone file as an individual. That would run into some old Supreme Court cases that draw a sharp distinction between income earned in community property states and in those states where each earner’s income is presumed to be theirs and not divided equally between the spouses.
A second option might be to redefine eligibility for joint filing (as well as for tax treatment of benefits) to those who have entered into civil unions under state law. This would avoid the community property problem and bring federal tax law more in line with what appears to be a growing legal trend. Currently, about a dozen states grant some domestic partnership rights to gays and public opinion polls suggest there is broad support for these rights. By contrast, most Americans still oppose gay marriage.
There are downsides to this solution as well. A person’s tax liability in one state would be different than the liability of someone in exactly the same economic situation who lives in another state. And eliminating joint filing would still be hugely controversial, in no small part because it would raise the tax bills of millions of couples. But it would treat taxpayers equally, and, by using the civil union definition, would avoid most of the political baggage that goes with that word “marriage.”
The original punishments — including standing on the gallows for an hour with a noose around the neck — have been softened to a $1,200 fine, yet some lawmakers think it’s time for the 200-year-old crime of adultery to come off New Hampshire’s books.
Seven months after the state approved gay marriage, lawmakers will consider easing government further from the bedroom with a bill to repeal the adultery law.
“We shouldn’t be regulating people’s sex lives and their love lives,” state Rep. Timothy Horrigan said. “This is one area the state government should stay out of people’s bedrooms.”
In June, lawmakers voted to legalize gay marriage — a law that takes effect Jan. 1.
“We shouldn’t be in the business of regulating what consenting adults do with each other,” Horrigan said.
Convicted adulterers years ago faced standing on the gallows, up to 39 lashes, a year in jail or a fine of 100 pounds. The punishment has been relaxed to a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,200 — with no jail time.
The high court found that the state had no legitimate interest justifying its intrusion into the personal and private lives of two gay men arrested in their bedroom during a police investigation in a weapons case. The men had been charged with sodomy.
Some recently questioned whether South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s admitted extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina made him subject to his state’s 1880 criminal law against adultery. The penalty is a fine of up to $500 and a year in jail. The state said it couldn’t waste limited money trying to prosecute Sanford on such a charge. The law’s constitutionality also has been questioned.
In the past, conservatives argued decriminalizing adultery would weaken marriage.
Kevin Smith, executive director of the conservative Cornerstone Policy Research, opposes this repeal effort for the same reason.
“Even though this criminal law probably is not enforced right now and probably has not been enforced for some time, I think it’s important to have a public policy statement that says generally or in all situations adultery is not a good thing. And I think, by repealing that statute, you’re essentially diminishing the harmful effects of adultery,” Smith said.
Horrigan doesn’t think a small fine will stop anyone from cheating on a spouse. He also wouldn’t oppose taking adultery out of the civil divorce statute as a cause for the breakdown.
“Who we love and how we love is not something, an area the state has much business meddling in,” he said. The original punishments — including standing on the gallows for an hour with a noose around the neck — have been softened to a $1,200 fine, yet some lawmakers think it’s time for the 200-year-old crime of adultery to come off New Hampshire’s books.
In June, lawmakers voted to legalize gay marriage — a law that takes effect Jan. 1.
“We shouldn’t be in the business of regulating what consenting adults do with each other,” Horrigan said.
The last attempts to repeal New Hampshire’s law came after a Merrimack husband filed a complaint against his wife and her boss in 1987. When police refused to pursue adultery charges, Robert Stackelback brought the complaint himself against the pair. He later dropped the charges.
The killing of an HIV/AIDS outreach worker on December 14, 2009, is part of a pattern of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Honduras that seems to have accelerated in the turbulent months since the June 28 coup, Human Rights Watch said today.
The organization called on Honduran judicial authorities to open full investigations of all the reported killings, and to provide human rights training for the police and the judiciary about sexual orientation and gender identity.
"The mounting violence against people who look or love differently in Honduras reflects a crisis of intolerance," said Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch.
The latest attack was on Walter Orlando Trochez, 27, who had been active both in the LGBT movement and in political activity opposing the coup. He was shot in the chest by an unidentified person late on the night of December 14 in downtown Tegucigalpa, near the Central Church.
Indyra Mendoza of Cattrachas, a local lesbian organization, told Human Rights Watch that he managed to call his friends on his mobile phone after the shooting. When they arrived at the scene, an ambulance was taking Trochez to Hospital Escuela, where he died. An autopsy revealed that he died from one shot to the chest.
On December 5, Trochez reported to the Attorney General's Office that four armed men in civilian clothes attempted to kidnap him on the previous day. He said there had been a series of threats against his life on the grounds of his participation in the resistance movement.
"Walter used to go with me to recognize the bodies of our transgender friends when they were killed," Mendoza said. "Now I had to go on my own to identify his body."
Since June 28, the National Criminal Investigation Department in Tegucigalpa has documented at least seven killings of transgender and gay people in Honduras, including Trochez. Local LGBT advocates have asked the prosecutor's office for information about approximately nine more reported killings in the second largest city - San Pedro Sula and neighboring cities.
In "Not Worth a Penny: Human Rights Abuses against Transgender People in Honduras", a report released in May, Human Rights Watch documented the killing of 17 transgender women between 2005 and 2008.
In the report, Human Rights Watch called on Honduran authorities to:
•Repeal provisions of the Law on Police and Social Affairs that penalize public conduct on arbitrary and vaguely defined grounds. Authorities should send a clear message to all law enforcement institutions that violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, will not be tolerated, the report said;
•Conduct independent, impartial, and effective investigations into the general phenomenon of homophobic and transphobic violence and into specific allegations of police brutality, extortion, and ill-treatment against LGBT people, leading to the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators;
•Enact legislation that provides specific protections on the grounds of sexual orientation, and gender identity and gender expression.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The landmark election Saturday of America's first big-city lesbian mayor in Houston represents more than just a milestone in identity politics.
It also signals an unmistakable evolutionary step in national politics, one that provides further evidence of a trend that helped make Barack Obama president: growth-oriented communities like the Texas metropolis, rather than aging big cities or nostalgia-inducing small towns, are setting the course of the country's political direction.
Houston is one of a set of fast-growing cities and expanding suburbs whose changing face and increasingly post-racial politics played a pivotal role in sending Obama to the White House. Their politics are defined by some of the same trends—notably, growing Hispanic and Asian populations and the rise of the service sector—that are shaping the nation as a whole.
But the election of Annise Parker in Houston makes clear that the Charlottes and Houstons are now at the forefront of American political change, while the shrinking and declining big cities of the Northeast and Rust Belt are bringing up the rear.
Other well known residents of Houston; not to mention, former Presidnet George H.W. Bush, and Barbara Bush participated in this weeks pivital election. Houston has already shown signs of a recognizable political shift. While the political math of deep-red Texas denied Houston a presidential visit, Obama’s campaign focused on similarly situated cities—places like Las Vegas, a hub of his Western campaign, with late-in-campaign stops added for Orlando, Fla., the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., Indianapolis and the Research Triangle of North Carolina.
"As people become more comfortable with ethnic diversity they also become more comfortable with sexual diversity," said Stephen Klineberg, a professor of Sociology at Rice University.
That tolerance, he noted, isn’t equivalent to across-the-board social liberalism. His research has found a dramatic increase in tolerance of homosexuality over the last decade in Houston even as the view that abortion is “immoral” grew slightly more widespread.
Yet the election of an out lesbian who made her name initially as a gay-rights activist, one who embraced her partner on stage on election night, nevertheless reveals a breakthrough in the country's march toward what could be called either tolerance or just plain apathy toward homosexuality.
Indeed, save for an 11th-hour flurry of mailers paid for by allies of Parker's opponent, Gene Locke, her sexual orientation mattered little in a race dominated by conventional municipal issues such as crime, jobs and education. What was remarkable about the contest was just how unremarkable the voters found it that Parker was a lesbian. And that's the equality we're always talking about. Nothing extra, just equal.