Two Days of News and Views

After Blogging elsewhere time to catch-up!

By Melanie Nathan, December 28, 2013.

This past 2 days I was helping my friends out at the Gay Marriage Watch Blog. From OBLOGDEE we wish our friends, Scott and Mark and their families condolences on their tragic and sad family loss. I was able to post several stories on their BLOG which I now cross post here.

I have also added some stories that GMW are highlighting for the week thereunder:-

My Posts on GMW:

Rose Parade Gay Marriage Float Causes Call for a Boycott

Written by melnathan on December 27th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 9.01.23 PMA San Diego woman, Karen Grube is calling for a boycott of the popular Pasadena Rose Parade because two men from Los Angeles are scheduled to be married on a float called “Love is the Best Protection,” the Pasadena Star News reports. The  cake-shaped float is being sponsored by The AIDS Healthcare Foundation to help raise awareness of HIV infection in the gay community.

Earlier this month ABC News reported that Aubrey Loots, 42, and his partner Danny Leclair, 45, will tie the knot as nearly 68 million people watch, which will mark the first time a same-sex couple marries during the Rose Parade’s 125-year history. The men, who have been dating for 12 years, won the opportunity after they entered a contest at a wedding expo in October.

Grube believes the float should be removed from the New Year’s parade. She’s gone as far as to call corporate sponsors to gain their support in case the wedding goes as planned.

Grube has also created a Facebook page called “Boycott the 2014 Rose Parade” to get others on her side.

“Gay marriage is illegal in over 30 states, why would they promote something that is blatantly illegal?” Grube wrote. “That’s just stupid.”

As of this writing her Facebook page has 227 likes. She says she doesn’t believe the Rose Parade should be involved in a “political agenda.”

“It used to be a family thing, to get up on New Year’s Day morning and watch the parade,” she said. “It no longer is.”

Same-sex marriage has been legal in California where Grube resides since Proposition 8 was struck down by the United States Supreme Court in June.


Lambda Legal Sues Houston to Preserve Health Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses of City Employees

Written by melnathan on December 27th, 2013

“City employees who are married to same-sex spouses are doing the same work as coworkers who are married to different-sex spouses—at the end of the day this case is about equal pay for equal work.”

 By Melanie Nathan, 12/26/2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 8.30.45 PMLambda Legal today filed a federal lawsuit against Houston Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston seeking to preserve spousal benefits, including health insurance, covering the same-sex spouses of city employees. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf three City of Houston employees legally married to same-sex spouses and follows notification these employees received recently that the City, one month after extending the employee coverage for their spouses, was being forced to withdraw these benefits and cancel the coverage.

“City employees who are married to same-sex spouses are doing the same work as coworkers who are married to different-sex spouses—at the end of the day this case is about equal pay for equal work.These employees, some who have worked for the City for manyyears, acted in good faith when notified the City was extending health coverage benefits to their legal spouses,” said Kenneth Upton, Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas.

They enrolled for spousal benefits, including health insurance, paid the premiums, scheduled doctor visits and underwent treatments that will require ongoing care. Now, suddenly, the rug is pulled out from under them.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker on November 20, 2013 announced that all lawfully-married city employees, including those who married same-sex partners in jurisdictions where such marriages are legal, would be eligible to enroll for spousal benefits, including health insurance coverage, under the City’s employee benefits health plan. The three plaintiffs named in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit enrolled their spouses as soon as they received notification of the policy change. Shortly thereafter, however, two Houston taxpayers sued the Mayor and the City in Family Law Court claiming the benefits were illegal and, without giving the Mayor or the City notice, secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking extension of the benefits. The Cityis defending against the challenge to the Mayor’s decision to ensure equal employee benefits for all workers.

“The notice from the City was like a punch in the stomach,” said Noel Freeman, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, administrative coordinator with the City of Houston Public Works & Engineering Office and a nine-year employee of the City. “Brad and I were so excited when we learned we could enroll him on my plan that we signed him up within an hour of finding out. And now, just a month later, they tell us they’re going to have to take it away, that once again I will be paid less than my married heterosexual colleagues for the same work. How is this fair?”

In addition to Noel and Brad, who were married in Washington, DC, on Aug. 1, 2010, and have been together for more than 11 years, the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: Yadira Estrada, a City of Houston police officer who married her partner of seven and a half years, Jennifer Flores, in Maine this past June and signed up for spousal benefits about a week after the Mayor’s announcement; and Ron Reeser, a systems administrator for the City and eight-year city employee who married his husband, Vince Olivier, in Canada in 2008 after they had been together for three years.

“By refusing to recognize the legal marriage of same-sex couples for the purpose of providing employment benefits, the City deprives some Houston families of a critical safety net and financial security,” Upton added. “By stripping legally married gay and lesbian city employees of spousal benefits, including health insurance coverage, the City not only inflicts severe hardship, but sends a signal that their families are less worthy than those of their coworkers. This the Constitutional does not allow.”

Read the brief:

Learn more about the case, Freeman et. al. v. Parker and City of Houston

For the Love of the Buck the Anti-Gay Duck Guy is Reinstated by A&E

Written by melnathan on December 27th, 2013

By Melanie Nathan, December 28, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 4.07.51 PMPhil Robertson, the patriarch of A&E’s Duck Dynasty clan, who was suspended from his hit reality series on Dec. 18 following his odious comments about gay people, won’t be put on hiatus after all. The network and the Robertson family announced Friday that Phil will still be part of the series — and since he didn’t miss any filming, his temporary suspension will have no effect on the upcoming fifth season.

An A&E statement to The Hollywood Reporter

As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s homes, and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principles. That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the “coarse language” he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would “never incite or encourage hate.” We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article and reiterate that they are not views we hold.

But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family … a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.

So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.

We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.

In addition, an A&E source says the family and the network are going to work together to promote tolerance.

Robertson’s comments in GQ magazine, which included the 67-year-old likening homosexuality to “bestiality,” prompted an almost immediate announcement from A&E.

My Comment:  It is not clear  from the Statement as to why A&E has in effect reversed its decision. Can it be the almighty buck, I mean duck.  It is clear that A&E is not willing to stand on its principle and so it has found language to worm its way out, while all of us are clear, this is more about the grand old ducky dollar and less about principle.   I for one applaud forgiveness, however Mr. Duck guy has yet to apologize to the gay community and so the post-disaster spin and current flowery rhetoric as expressed by A&E and SOME members of their family is meaningless and has not taught anyone anything.  The so called promotion of tolerance sickens me. Who the hell needs tolerance from those incapable of acceptance.


States forge ahead with SCOTUS ruling to allow same-sex marriages

Written by melnathan on December 26th, 2013

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Photo: GAY U.S.A. The Movie

Brady McCombs and Mark Sherman of the Associated Press, and writing for The Seattle Times, have provided a composite analysis of how the States have now reinforced the SCOTUS rulings, forging the way to allow same-sex marriages. They have noted that advocates on both sides of the gay-marriage debate predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that overturned part of a federal ban on gay marriage would create a pathway for states to act. Stating categorically, “They were right.”

The Article goes on to note:

“In the six months since the decision, the number of states allowing gay marriage has jumped from 12 to 18, a trend that started before the high-court ruling that’s been reinforced since. Judges in New Mexico, Ohio and, most surprisingly, conservative, Mormon-heavy Utah all ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in just the past week. Both Utah’s case and another in Nevada will next be heard by federal appeals courts, putting them on the path toward the high court. Ohio’s case, which recognized same-sex death certificates, also will likely be appealed.

The series of court decisions has many asking: When will the Supreme Court step in and settle the issue for good?

It may not be that simple.

The cases on the path to the Supreme Court now differ little from a case that justices refused to hear in June, at the same time they made their landmark ruling on the federal law denying tax, health and other benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

That case, from California, hinged on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

If the justices had acted, it would have struck down gay-marriage prohibitions across the country.

Instead, the justices passed, relying instead on a technical legal argument to resolve the California case and clear the way for same-sex marriage in the state, which resumed at the end of June.

That convinces some legal scholars that the high court won’t take up the issue again so soon. In a way, they’ve already passed the buck to the states, some say, including language in their Defense of Marriage Act ruling saying it relegates same-sex marriages to second-class status, and “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”

That language makes it clear state bans are ripe for challenge, said Andrew Koppelman, a professor of law and political science at Northwestern University. Language from both Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion and Justice Antonin Scalia’s biting dissent has appeared prominently in subsequent court challenges and rulings, including in Utah and Ohio. A federal judge in Ohio ordered officials to recognize gay marriages on death certificates.

“The Supreme Court has given them ammunition to go there if that’s where they want to go,” Koppelman said.


Meet the Quintuplets with Lesbian Moms

Written by melnathan on December 26th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 4.40.41 PMAfter Liz and Nadia Harris married in Connecticut, almost five years ago, they started trying to conceive. But nine attempts later, they still had no babies. It wasn’t until they moved to New Orleans and worked with fertility doctors there that their dreams of being mothers became a reality — five times over!

“The nurse called and said, ‘you’re very pregnant,’” Nadia shared with a local news station. ”I thought maybe twins because twins run in my family, but then the following week we went in and found out that there were five babies. I was numb at first. Honestly, I wasn’t happy. I thought, ‘What are we going to do with five kids?’”

In October their quintuplets were born and now they are celebrating their first Christmas with this Video introduction.
Four baby boys:  Dawson, Maxwell, Micah, and Joseph. And one baby girl: Elizabeth.

READ MORE – AND see Video

Beautiful Marriage Moments 2013

Written by melnathan on December 26th, 2013

2013 A Year Like No Other

By Melanie Nathan, December 26, 2013. Not only did LGBT America receive the historic and life-changing Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, but the domino effect of States gaining marriage began in earnest. The tremendous wins propelled a marriage fervor and it has only just begun. These moments of marriage encapsulate the joy felt by same-sex couples all around America. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE VIDEO:

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First Published and

We need same-sex marriage so we can get divorced

Written by melnathan on December 26th, 2013

 An Opinion Article

By Melanie Nathan, December 26, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 5.28.38 AMWhile we tend to tout equality only in the light of love, there is another glaring truth that we barely speak of; same-gender couples need marriage so they can get divorced. That is when, as a civil law institution, having marriage is imperative. Of course we need certain laws, such as tax laws, hospital visits, pensions etc., during marriage and hence we can make the argument why coupling without the choice to marry is unfair.  However we hardly ever make the argument that we need marriage so we can get divorced; we need it to define how we break up. Most people when advocating for our marriage rights, lose sight of this critical argument as to why it is so important to have parity under the law.

For years our gay and lesbian community has suffered the impact of not having the same rights as heterosexuals, who can choose to marry, regardless of what State they live in.  For years we have heard the religious right brow beat us into thinking that marriage is all about a Biblical interpretation of what God wants for all humans.  Let us not forget what marriage really is.  The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but it is principally a social union in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged.   However as important is the fact that marriage is a binding legal contract between two people, that establishes uniform rights and obligations between two spouses, and between the spouses in relation to their children.

So while same-gender couples are denied the benefit of civil marriage laws in many places, the greatest difficulty of not being married, is experienced when one needs a divorce, when it comes to the break up.  Same-sex couples are thus denied the advantage of clarity under the law, where their rights and obligations enjoy clear definition, causing uncertainty and prejudice at the time of termination. So one of the most important reasons for getting married is so that we can have clarity and fairness when it comes time to divorce.Why

I have been privy to the enormous impact of the lack of law to govern broken gay and lesbian relationships, where for example couples have been together treating their relationship as if married, for many years.  More often than not these couples experience serious imbalance in the financial and parenting aspects of the relationships.   Especially where one partner has stayed at home as a homemaker, while the other has an enhanced career.  Some relationships carry on for years, as if marital, yet without applicable laws, and unless one enters into written partnership agreements, early on, proving the intention of the financial understanding in the relationship, can be very difficult at the time of termination.

How to help couples who do not have marriage laws to define their breakup:
These types  of breakups are best served by mediation, using an experienced neutral third party, who has an understanding of the issues of same-sex couples, deprived of legal clarity, through lack of equal laws. Obviously married couples are also well served by mediation, in most cases.

It is the mediator who can ensure one or more of the  (non-exhaustive) following, depending on the individual case:-

1. Helping parties understand the law that ought to have applied to a relationship, but did not;

2. Helping parties define and reach agreement as to their intentions toward each other during the relationship;

3. Helping parties honor their commitments to each other, regardless of lack of law;

4. Creating an environment of understanding where each party validates the position of the other, thereby dispelling the assumptions that cause conflict;

5. Helping parents place the best interests of the children at the fore:

6. Ensuring smooth transitions by creating plans that include financial support and interim custody/parenting plans, pending final settlement;

7. Ensuring the parties are equally empowered through external resources;

8. Keeping the process productive and preventing unnecessary legal expenses, through early management of conflict and the avoidance of litigation;

9. Allowing the partners to control the outcome by reaching a fair agreement that creates a win/win scenario rather than a win/lose scenario.

10th Circuit Refuses Stay for Utah Same Sex Marriages

Written by melnathan on December 25th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-25 at 7.07.57 PMAp is reporting that a federal appeals court has refused yet again to stop gay marriage in Utah, making it more likely that same-sex weddings in the home of the Mormon church are here to stay for the immediate future.

Judge Robert J. Shelby‘s decision last week to strike down a 2004 voter-approved gay marriage ban sent gay couples rushing to county clerk offices to get marriage licenses. About 700 gay couples have obtained licenses since Friday, with most of the activity in Salt Lake City. The State then made several attempts to stay the marriages, right up to the 10th Circuit, with all 4 attempts at an emergency stay denied.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals‘ rejection of Utah’s request for an emergency order to put gay marriage on hold marked was the latest legal setback for the state. Utah’s last chance to temporarily stop the marriages would be a long-shot request before U.S. Supreme Court.

That’s what the Utah attorney general’s office is prepared to do, spokesman Ryan Bruckman said. Gov. Gary Herbert‘s office declined to comment on the decision.

“We’re disappointed in the ruling, but we just have to take it to the next level,” Bruckman said.


*************** MORE**************

China: Two thirds of Chinese people polled think homosexuality is “unacceptable”. full story

USA: The Dallas Voice has a great recap of the year in gay. full story

USA: America Blog has another review of 2013. full story

USA: And yet another 2013 in review, this one from AFER. full story

USA: More than half of Duck Dynasty fans back legal recognition for same sex couples. full story

USA, California: Since it looks likely a repeal initiative of California’s new student transgender law will fail to qualify for the ballot, opponents are turning to the courts. full story

USA, Hawaii: Now that the state has passed a marriage equality law, lawyers are asking for dismissal of the marriage equality lawsuit. full story

USA, Idaho: Lawyers in a marriage equality lawsuit are trying to block the state from intervening. full story

USA, Indiana: Indiana republicans are finding that it’s no longer so easy to ban marriage equality. full story

USA, Nevada: The Ninth Circuit has delayed the marriage equality trial by 30 days at the request of the defendants. full story

USA, New Jersey: 73% in New Jersey are happy with the state’s marriage equality status, an unofficial poll found. full story

USA, New Mexico: One NM county has yet to issue a marriage license to a same sex couple. full story

USA, Ohio: An Ohio judge ruled that legally married same sex couples were entitled to have their spouse’s name on their death certificates. full story

USA, Oregon: A man who married his partner in Washington after 60 years together passed away. full story

USA, Utah: An unofficial poll shows that 74% want Utah’s same sex marriages to continue. full story

USA, Wisconsin: There are currently no legal challenges to Wisconsin’s ban on marriage equality, according to The Cap Times full story

One thought on “Two Days of News and Views

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