Thursday, April 30, 2009

Moscow authorities threaten gay pridegoers with arrest

(Moscow) Moscow city officials have threatened to arrest anyone participating in a gay pride parade this year.

Moscow Pride had announced pride this year will take place on May 16th, but this week a City Hall spokesman said any attempt to hold a parade would be “firmly dealt with.”

“There have been no official applications for permission to hold gay parades during the May holidays and all attempts to hold such events will be firmly stopped by the authorities,” Leonid Krutakov told the Novosti news agency.

May 16th coincides with the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest which is being hosted by the city and will be broadcast throughout Europe. Pride organizers have called for finalists to express support for pride during the telecast.

Laws against homosexuality were repealed at the end of the Communist era, but Moscow city officials have refused to allow gays to hold a pride march for years.

Moscow Pride has seven cases already pending before the European Court of Human Rights.

The latest was filed against President Dmitry Medvedev. The others involve Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

Despite Mayor Luzhkov’s refusal to grant a parade permit last year, the third Moscow Pride took place on Sunday, June 1. Gay activists picketed the monument to the Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky and then hung a huge banner from an apartment in front of Moscow City Hall.

The banner read: “Rights to gays and lesbians! Homophobia of Moscow Mayor should be prosecuted.”

In 2007, the mayor refused a parade license citing security concerns. Gays, many of them from the Europen Union, marched anyway. About 20 people were arrested at the May 27 parade, including Alexeyev, two European parliamentarians and British gay advocate Peter Tatchell.

Charges against the foreigners were later dropped and Alexeyev was fined $1000 rubles - about $40.

AIso in 2007, a Moscow court tossed out a lawsuit accusing Lushkov of libel over claims he made that gay rights marches were “satanic.” The court ruled that Moscow Pride leaders had failed to prove that the remarks were incendiary or intended to vilify gays in general.

Last January, a Moscow judge acquitted 13 gay activists arrested last month for staging a protest outside a polling station during national elections. But last month, a Moscow court said the mayor had not exceeded his authority in banning gay demonstrations including pride marches.

And last December Luzhkov said he will continue to ban gay pride parades in the city to prevent spreading HIV/AIDS.

“We have banned and will continue to forbid this propaganda by sexual minorities, as they could turn out to be one of the factors in the spread of HIV infections,” Luzhkov told an international AIDS conference.

“Certain homegrown democrats believe that sexual minorities can be a primary indicator and symbol of democracy, but we will forbid the dissemination of these opinions in the future as well.”

The European Court is slow to take up cases. It could be more than a year before any of the lawsuits is heard.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NH Senate votes for gay marriage

(Concord, New Hampshire) The New Hampshire Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that would make the state the fifth in the nation to grant marriage equality.

The 13-11 vote came despite a recommendation last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee that it be rejected.

The chair of the committee, Sen. Deborah Reynolds (D) was one of those who recommended voting against the bill, but on Wednesday she voted for it, saying since the committee meeting she had heard from a large number of constituents who favored the bill.

Republicans voted in a block against the measure, along with one Democrat.

The bill was amended prior to the vote to draw a distinction between civil and religious weddings - allowing churches which do not approve of gay relationships to refuse to conduct ceremonies.

Last month the bill passed the House on a 186-179 vote, but the House will need to vote on this bill again, since it was amended by the Senate.

If it passes the House a second time, it will head to the desk of Gov. Gov. John Lynch who has said he believes the current civil union law works fine, but has not said if he would veto the bill.

Earlier on Wednesday a new poll was released showing most residents of New Hampshire support same-sex marriage.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center Poll found that 55 percent of New Hampshire residents support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while 39 percent oppose it.

The poll was sponsored by the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition.

Same-sex marriage already is legal in three New England states - Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont. A Maine Senate committee also voted on gay marriage today. Rhode Island is the only New England state where same-sex marriage legislation has not advanced.

Elsewhere, same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa. New York Gov David Paterson (D) has unveiled legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry in the Empire State and in California, the Supreme Court is expected to rule this spring on the legality of Prop 8 the voter approved measure banning gay marriage in that state.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vermont Legalizes Gay Marriages

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Today, Vermont became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

The House recorded a dramatic 100-49 vote — the minimum needed — to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto. Its vote followed a much easier override vote in the Senate, which rebuffed the Republican governor with a vote of 23-5.

Vermont was the first state to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples and joins Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa in giving gays the right to marry. Their approval of gay marriage came from the courts.

The House initially passed the bill last week with a 95-52 vote.

House Speaker Shap Smith's announcement of the vote brought an outburst of jubilation from some of the hundreds packed into the gallery and the lobby outside the House chamber, despite the speaker's admonishment against such displays.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Legalizes Gay Marriage

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa's Supreme Court legalized gay marriage Friday in a unanimous and emphatic decision that makes Iowa the third state — and the first in the nation's heartland — to allow same-sex couples to wed.

In its decision, the high court upheld a lower court's ruling that found a state law restricting marriage to between a man and woman violated Iowa's constitution.

"We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective," the Supreme Court wrote in its decision. "The Legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification."

The ruling set off celebration among the state's gay-marriage proponents.

"Iowa is about justice, and that's what happened here today," said Laura Fefchak, who was hosting a verdict party in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale with partner of 13 years, Nancy Robinson.

Robinson added: "To tell the truth, I didn't think I'd see this day."

Richard Socarides, an attorney and former senior adviser on gay rights to President Clinton, said the ruling carries extra significance coming from Iowa.

"It's a big win because, coming from Iowa, it represents the mainstreaming of gay marriage. And it shows that despite attempts stop gay marriage through right-wing ballot initiatives, like in California, the courts will continue to support the case for equal rights for gays," he said.

Its opponents were equally dismayed.

"I would say the mood is one of mourning right now in a lot of ways, and yet the first thing we did after internalizing the decision was to walk across the street and begin the process of lobbying our legislators to let the people of Iowa vote," said Bryan English, spokesman for the conservative group the Iowa Family Policy Center.

"This is an issue that will define (lawmakers') leadership. This is not a side issue."

The Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr., pastor at the Maple Street Baptist Church in Des Moines, went to the Supreme Court building to hear of the decision.

"It's a perversion and it opens the door to more perversions," Ratliff said. "What's next?"

Technically, the decision will take about 21 days to be considered final and a request for a rehearing could be filed within that period.

But Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said his office will not ask for a rehearing, meaning the court's decision should take effect after that three-week period.

"Our Supreme Court has decided it, and they make the decision as to what the law is and we follow Supreme Court decisions," Sarcone said. "This is not a personal thing. We have an obligation to the law to defend the recorder, and that's what we do."

That means it will be at least several weeks before gay and lesbian couples can seek marriage licenses.

Sarcone said gay marriage opponents can't appeal the case at the state or federal level because they were not party to the lawsuit and no federal issue was raised in the case.

Opponents can try and persuade Iowa lawmakers to address the issue, but state Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said it's "exceedingly unlikely" gay marriage legislation will be brought up this session, expected to end within weeks. He also said he's "not inclined to call up a constitutional amendment," during next year's session.

The case had been working its way through Iowa's court system since 2005 when Lambda Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization, filed a lawsuit on behalf of six gay and lesbian Iowa couples who were denied marriage licenses. Some of their children are also listed as plaintiffs.

The suit named then-Polk County recorder and registrar Timothy Brien.

The state Supreme Court's ruling upheld an August 2007 decision by Polk County District Court Judge Robert Hanson, who found that a state law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman violates the state's constitutional rights of equal protection.

The Polk County attorney's office, arguing on behalf of Brien, claimed that Hanson's ruling violates the separation of powers and said the issue should be left to the Legislature.

Lambda Legal planned to comment on the ruling later Friday. A request for comment from the Polk County attorney's office wasn't immediately returned.

Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, said the decision addresses a complicated and emotional issue.

"The next responsible step is to thoroughly review this decision, which I am doing with my legal counsel and the attorney general, before reacting to what it means for Iowa," Culver said in a statement.

Around the nation, only Massachusetts and Connecticut permit same-sex marriage. California, which briefly allowed gay marriage before a voter initiative in November repealed it, allows domestic partnerships.

New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont also offer civil unions, which provide many of the same rights that come with marriage. New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, and legislators there and in New Jersey are weighing whether to offer marriage. A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Vermont has cleared the Legislature but may be vetoed by the governor.

Source: Yahoo News

By AMY LORENTZEN, Associated Press Writer

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Boycott Jamaica!

This week, columnist Wayne Besen, San Francisco organizer Michael Petrelis, and Box Turtle Bulletin editor Jim Burroway launched an international boycott against Jamaica.

"Forget business as usual. Instead, we should stop doing business with a country that is proud of its persecution against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people." Besen said in his article posted Wednesday, April 3, 2009.

The goal is to stop supporting the country in all aspects including travel, products outsourced, etc...
Why boycott? Because Jamaica is on a downward spiral and suffers from collective cultural dementia on this issue. There is clearly a pathological panic and homo-hysteria that has infected this nation at its core. The second reason to boycott is because traditional activism has failed.

A State Department report on Jamaica’s treatment of homosexuals reads:

“The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) continued to report human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of homosexuals.”

Questioned by the BBC, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that he would not allow gay people to serve in his Cabinet. In March 2009 he added, “We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organizations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalize the laws as it relates to buggery.”

If you are a bar owner, please take Jamaican products out of your establishment. If you care about gay people, tell everyone you know about the dismal human rights record of Jamaica. And, if a friend has booked a trip — express your disapproval and send him or her accurate information. strongly suggests travelers to avoid travel to Jamaica if an effort to help support gay rights worldwide.

Sweden Legalizes Gay Marriage

Sweden on Wednesday became the seventh country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

Following a five-hour debate in Parliament, the legislation was overwhelmingly passed on a 261 to 22 vote, with 16 abstentions. The new law will go into effect May 1, replacing a 1995 law that allowed civil partnerships.

Six of the country’s seven political parties backed the bill. Only the Christian Democrats voted against it.

“This is a great victory,” said Soren Juvas, president of the Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights.

A parliamentary committee studying civil partnerships in 2007 called them “outdated” and recommended Parliament allow same-sex marriage.

The new law does not require churches to conduct same-sex weddings, but the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran church, and the largest denomination in the country, will consider a motion this fall to allow pastors to perform gay weddings.

The Swedish Lutheran Church has offered blessing services for couples in civil unions since 2007, but it has balked at allowing pastors to perform weddings for gay couples.

Same-sex marriage already is legal in four European Union countries - Netherlands, Belgium Norway and Spain.

Elsewhere in the EU, the UK affords gay couples all of the rights and obligations of marriage but without the name. Several other EU countries such as Germany and France allow same-sex couples limited rights.

Outside Europe, gay marriage is legal in Canada and South Africa. Gays and lesbians can marry in two US states - Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Source: 365gay Newscenter Staff