In 2017, a court ruling gave the government two years to approve a marriage equality law, but sadly no legislations has passed yet.
The couple, Jennifer Lu and Chen Ling, are the third same-sex couple to be turned down by the court since October 2017.
They were part of a group of 30 couples who went to the Zhongzheng District office in 2014 to register as married. After the group was turned away, the women were among three couples who filed suit. (The other two cases were dismissed last year.)
In a statement, the court said household registration offices currently don’t have any legal standing to register same-sex marriages.
Last May, the Constitutional Court issued a landmark ruling requiring the Legislative Yuan to pass marriage equality legislation within 16 months.
Activists are urging the government to move swiftly to comply.
Activist Chi Chia-wei told the court.
“Society recognizes gay people have the same needs. They are normal people wanting to build normal relations and the law should include them.”
The country of 23.5 million will likely be the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
President Tsai Ing-wen came out in support of marriage equality in 2016, stating, “Every person should be able to look for love freely, and freely seek their own happiness.”
Lilia Babulkova and her wife, DK, have become the first queer couple to fight a legal battle for the recognition of their same-sex marriage in Bulgaria.
The couple were married in the UK in 2017, they filed a request to their local government, Sofia Municipality, to change their marital status on their identification cards.
They were soon informed that they will be unable to do so as the Bulgarian Constitution prohibits same-sex marriages.
Now in a bid to have their marriage recognised in their home country, Bubulkova and DK are suing the Municipality.
Babulkova told journalist Miroljuba Benatova on NovaTV.
“We do not want to provoke anyone, nor do we like it, we just want to have our place that is not swept under the carpet.”
The couple’s lawyer Denitsa Lyubenova, who is part of Bulgarian group Youth LGBT Action, hopes to persuade the court by referring to the Code of Private International Law (KMCP), which governs the marriage took place between Bulgarian citizens in a foreign country.
“If these requirements are met, such jurisdiction is established and the marriage in question must be recognized in Bulgaria.”
Under EU law, Lyubenova hopes that the couple can have their marriage recognised on the basis of that legislation dictates that no-one can be discriminated against on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
“In no case can the Member States restrict the rights of their citizens, despite the limitations in national legislation relating to the right to marry same-sex couples.”
The historic vote follows in the footsteps of Ireland by endorsing same-sex marriage in a national vote.
However, the public vote is not legally binding, so both houses still need to pass legislation for it to become legal.
Monday is the first day that a same-sex marriage bill can be tabled in the House of Representatives, which is not sitting this week.
A bill must pass in both houses before it can be signed into law by the Governor-General.
Hardline anti-LGBT MPs within the governing Liberal-National Coalition say they will not be conceding – even if the public gives a strong backing for equality.
Two bills will be proposed to parliament – one by a coalition of same-sex marriage supporters proposing simply to introduce the other measure, and another by a right-wing Senator proposing same-sex marriage, but with various “religious freedoms”.
A recent poll by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation found that 72% of the lower House of Representatives would support changes to marriage laws and in the Senate, 69% would approve the changes.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has blasted Australia’s inadequate protection of human rights, calling for immediate action on the nation’s same-sex marriage and asylum seeker policies.
In a damning report released this week, the 18-member committee recommended urgent legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia, regardless of next week’s voluntary postal survey results.
It also widely criticised Australia’s hard-line stance on refugees as a breach of human rights.
The Committee is concerned about the explicit ban on same-sex marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 that results in discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples, including in matters related to divorce of couples who married overseas.”
While noting that the State party is currently taking a voluntary, non-binding postal survey on the legalisation of same-sex marriage, the Committee is of the view that resort to public opinion polls to facilitate upholding rights under the Covenant in general, and equality and non-discrimination of minority groups in particular, is not an acceptable decision-making method.
Such an approach risks further marginalising and stigmatising members of minority groups.”
The UNCHR states Australia should revise its laws “irrespective of the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey” to ensure “all its laws and policies afford equal protection to LGBTI persons, couples and families”.
Human Rights Law Centre director of legal advocacy Anna Brown echoed the findings, saying
“Australia is drawing international attention for all the wrong reasons. The UN has tonight confirmed what Australian politicians should already know – human rights should not be put to a majority vote. Australia needs to do its job and vote on a bill to deliver equality and dignity for LGBTI couples across the country.”
Last week, the Australian government voted on a bill that will ban vilification and intimidation against LGBTI people during the government’s same-sex marriage survey.
Labor Senate leader Penny Wong, gave a strong speech and pointed out that although “sometimes prejudice comes in very polite forms” it still causes hurt.
I’m often reminded of that in this debate. Sometimes prejudice comes in very polite forms. Sometimes a lack of acceptance and disrespect comes with a great deal of courtesy. But it lands nevertheless.”
Over the course of the equal marriage marriage debate, misleading TV advertisements, homophobic letter campaigns, and vile posters found around the country.
Wong insisted a flawed process cannot be fixed and directly addressed the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, saying he is not absolved from responsibility for hate speech during the survey period.
Voting is now underway on equal marriage in Australia, with the first ballots mailed out last week.
Turnbull opted to put the issue of same-sex marriage to the people in a contentious and controversial public vote.
The public vote, which is non-binding and advisory in nature, has no legal power – but the result will likely be taken into consideration by the country’s lawmakers.
Ballots will continue to be sent out to registered voters in the coming days and weeks.
The ballot paper will read: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
Polling shows that the Yes campaign has a healthy lead in the vote.
The deadline for the return of ballots is November 7, giving a voting period of nearly two months.
The result of the ballot will be announced at the end of November.
The Australian Family Association demands that lesbians reject a proposed equal marriage law as it goes to a public vote.
Well, anti-LGBT lobby is trying to brand the same-sex marriage proposals a ‘transgender marriage’, in a bid to adopt US-style ‘wedge issue’ tactics.
On their newly-launched ‘Transgender Marriage’ website, the group asks: “What does transgender marriage mean for women and lesbians?”
Two men identifying as women and in a relationship can be legally married and be recognised as being in a lesbian marriage for the purposes of accessing lesbian only organisations, events and lesbian exclusive spaces.
Is this the sort of ‘equality’ Australians want to impose on women and lesbians?”
Aside from the fact that they seem to think women and lesbians are two different categories of people, the group’s claims are also pure nonsense.
The proposal being voted on includes no issues affecting transgender rights whatsoever. Trans issues are regulated separately to marriage.
The ballot paper will read: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
But the AFA insisted it would mean that “men socially identifying as women can access women’s shelters and gyms… play in women’s sports, like the AFL women’s competition and the Olympic women’s competition”.
LGBT campaigners have dismissed the claims as “blatant mistruths”.
Though the upcoming vote has nothing to do with transgender issues, the Coalition for Marriage recently launched a TV advert urging people to vote ‘No’ because “[a] school told my son he could wear a dress next year if he felt like it”.
The pro-LGBT Equality Campaign has put out its own ad calling out the scaremongering campaign.
Equality Campaign Executive Director Tiernan Brady said:
The next few weeks must be a campaign of respectful conversations, not angry debates, because this is about real people’s lives and their dignity.
Lesbian and gay people are our family members, friends, neighbours and workmates and we would ask all who take part in our national conversation to remember that.”
Edith Windsor, the gay-rights activist whose legal battles for same sex marriage rights resulted in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 88.
Her wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, confirmed the death, at a hospital, but did not specify a cause. They were married in 2016.
Windsor first rose to national prominence by suing the federal government for spousal benefits after her first wife, Thea Spyer, whom she’d legally married in Canada – died in 2009.
DOMA, which banned all federal recognition of same sex marriage, barred her from receiving those benefits.
Windsor’s case, United States v. Windsor, made it to the Supreme Court, and in 2013, the Court ruled in her favour.
The Windsor decision, was limited to 13 states and the District of Columbia. However in a more expansive ruling in 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges and three related cases, the Supreme Court held that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry anywhere in the nation, with all the protections and privileges of heterosexual couples.
Its historic significance was likened to that of Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, which decriminalized gay sex in the United States.
Born Edith Schlain, Windsor kept her last name after marrying Saul Windsor in a union that lasted just one year.
She met Spyer in 1963. In 1967, Windsor proposed to Spyer. They waited 40 years before they got married in Canada.
Windsor spent decades working tirelessly as an LGBTQ activist in and around New York, including once going to so far to donate her Cadillac to a Village Halloween parade in Manhattan.
Through her tireless efforts, Windsor became a leading star in the world of LGBTQ activism.
Celebrating the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision declaring marriage as a fundamental right for all Americans, Windsor toldThe New Yorker she was “thrilled with the content of the decision.”
But, despite the monumental victory, Windsor was realistic about how it fit into the larger fight for rights and representation for the LGBTQ community.
I think it’s only the next major step. We have a history: beginning to see each other with Stonewall, when a whole new community began to recognize itself; the AIDS crisis—we’d always been separated! Gays and lesbians, separated! But when lesbians came forward to help with the victims of AIDS, we all saw each other very differently. I see this as another huge step towards equality—I combine, it, obviously, with my case.
Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear case about whether legally married gay couples should be entitled to the same marriage benefits that other legally married city employees enjoy.
If homophobes win the fight in court, cities in Texas would be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.
Right now, cities may not deny married same-sex couples any of the spousal benefits provided to opposite-sex couples under US law.
But back in 2001 things were very different.
That year, Houston changed its city charter to freeze out city employees from sharing benefits with same-sex partners.
And in 2005, Texas changed its constitution to say only a man and a woman could marry each other. Officials were stopped from giving marriage benefits to any gay or lesbian couples across the state.
Then in 2013 the lesbian mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, overthrew those rules.
She directed city staff to grant legal status and spousal benefits to any same-sex couple who had married in a place where it was legal.
But two homophobic taxpayers, Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks challenged Houston and Parker.
They argued her order to give rights to gay couples violated the Texas constitution.
And so they demanded a temporary and permanent injunction to stop city officials handing the benefits out.
The court did grant that injunction on a temporary basis.
The city appealed against this. And while all parties waited for a decision from the
Texas Court of Appeals in this case, events overtook them.
The Supreme Court of the United States made its decision that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry. By doing so, the SCOTUS justices made marriage legal in every state.
So the Texas Court of Appeals decided not to pursue the Houston legal debate as US law had now changed.
Yet the Texas Supreme Court’s inaction prompted outrage from state Republican officials and anti-gay activists, who urged the justices, who are elected, to take the case and allow Texas cities to discriminate against same-sex couples.
Last week, the court took the first step, caving to Republican demands and agreeing to hear the case in March—a worrying sign that the justices, fearful of a re-election fight, may soon yield to political pressure and roll back marriage equality in Texas.
It is now claimed ‘dozens of state elected officials, conservative activists and religious leaders’ have been lobbying the Texas Supreme Court justices, demanding a re-match.
They are asking the court to ‘defend religious liberty’ by taking away same-sex couples’ equality.
The protesters also want the court to challenge the SCOTUS striking down of Texas’ strict abortion restrictions.
If the homophobes win, experts warn this could be the first step to dismantling marriage equality around the US.
Alternatively, the Texas court may bow to the seniority of Supreme Court of the United States.
The case has also been criticized as wasting taxpayers’ money. One site supporting equality, Slate, said this should be a ‘painfully easy decision’.
In modern Euro-American societies, opposition against socially imposed gender roles, as well as trans and gender-non-conforming people, are often described, in different rhetorics – both conservative and not – as a rather new element of society, as newly-discovered or constructed identities that didn’t exist before Judith Butler or the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
To go a step further, advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ people is seen – since it is unfortunately only performed and answered in this way – as something radical, as if we are not human beings as valuable as cishet people.
Treating heteronormativity and the gender binary as the default system of an essentialist human condition, apart from being as scientifically and ontologically wrong as it is sociologically problematic and harmful, is also a view clearly blinded by a misleading colonialist American/Euro-centric view. Not all cultures used to view gender in the same way that we were taught it essentially exists as – a strict binary of male and female, where gender and the roles that are imposed by it align in a presupposed way with the biological sex.
Digging into the history of how tribes that were colonised by European countries viewed gender and sexuality is extremely important, not only to denaturalise harmful views that we have been taught to consider as given and essential, but it is also vital for Native American people who wish to decolonise their language and culture, in the process of claiming and reclaiming their gender and spiritual identities.
As Mahealani Joy, a kanaka maoli queer woman and activist explains in their article:
trying to decolonize something means critically examining it, seeing how colonization (aka everything since Christopher Columbus arrived) has influenced it, and then trying to realign things with our traditional community values and practices.”
This is something that many Native LGBTQ+ people do today by claiming, among other things, the term “Two Spirit” for themselves, in order to describe their gender identity, often giving meaning to the spiritual aspects of the word. Identifying as Two Spirit can be empowering for Native LGBTQ+ even though not all of them choose to identify as such, especially considering that Native communities vary greatly in their beliefs, values and traditions, so not all Native people think and feel the same way about different issues, including gender and sexuality. In the process of decolonising their language, for some Native people using the term “Two Spirit” can be a political statement, while some others might choose to use other tribal identities in their own language, since the phrase “Two Spirit” is technically still English.
When the European conquerors arrived at what they called “New World” they found that the Native Americans acknowledged different models of gendered life and distribution of gender roles. There were three-five genders acknowledged: female, male, Two Spirit female, Two Spirit male, and transgender.
In the same way that European colonisers exploited and systematically exterminated most aspects of the Native tribes that they conquered, they also destroyed the lives and extinguished the existences of Two Spirit people. The same people who were so deeply venerated by the members of their tribe, were described by the Jesuits and the French as merely sinful – and chased as such.
Christopher Columbus’ crew was extremely violent towards Two Spirit people. Euro-Americans forced Native people to conform to the standards and beliefs that European societies had established about gender.
According to Walter L. Williams, author of The Spirit and the Flesh and Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo, and Professor of Anthropology, History and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, years later, during the 20th century, with the rise of homophobia and the spread of Christian influences, the respect that Two Spirit people held even among their tribes declined and Two Spirit people were forced either by the government or by the predominant Christian religion to conform to standard gender roles. Many indigenous people who couldn’t conform would have to go underground or even committed suicide.
A new era of heightened respect for Two Spirit identities seemed to emerge with the Native American “red power” cultural pride and the rise of gay and lesbian liberation movements in the second half of the 20th century, however Native Americans are still awfully marginalised in many aspects of their lives, and their identities are often not acknowledged as valid.
But what does Two Spirit mean? How did different tribes perceive the concept of gender in other ways than the Euro-American culture?
Two Spirit was referred at by people of the Navajo tribe as Nádleehí, which means “one who is transformed” and by the Lakota people as Winkté, which refers to a person thought to be male at birth but then behaving as a female.
The term also translated as Niizh Manidoowag (which meant Two Spirit) in Ojibwe and Hemaneh (which meant half man – half woman) in Cheyenne. The term doesn’t always translate in the “Two Spirit” phrase that is used universally in the English language. Such examples can be found in the Iroquois Cherokee language where such gender variations are acknowledged but there exist no such terms to describe them.
The term that was mostly used by European and American anthropologists until the 20th century was “Bardache”. It derives its origins by the French “Bardache” which means a male prostitute, and the Arabic “Bardaj” which means “captive” or “slave”. This term was considered to be offensive by Native LGBTQIA+ people who wished to distinguish sexuality and the connotations of it and the spiritual character of their identities. This is why many of them chose to claim the term Two Spirit as an answer against the colonization of their identities. The term started being used again mostly in 1990.
The way someone expresses and performs their gender and sexuality, for many Native tribes, was not something to be judged or interfered with morally. People were judged by their contributions to their tribe and by their character, while parents were supposed to let Nature run its course and thus did not interfere with the way their children would express their gender e.g. with the clothes they would wear, the gender they would choose and the according ceremonies they would follow.
According to Walter L. Williams, Native Americans don’t wish to “force every person in one box, but to allow for the reality of diversity in gender and sexual identities”.
The term “Two Spirit” refers at a body that is inhabited by both a masculine and a feminine spirit. It is today used as an umbrella term to describe gender-variant/gender-non-conforming or LGBTQIA+ members of some Native communities. Two Spirit people are born with both spirits and are able to express the roles of both genders. As it is believed by some Siouan tribes, a child can even choose its gender and have it granted by The Creator.
Two Spirit people were highly respected and thought to have been gifted by The Creator, as they were able to see the world simultaneously through the eyes of both genders. The families of Two Spirit people were considered extremely lucky. Two Spirit people usually held greatly revered positions within the tribe, and they were thought to be intellectually and emotionally gifted. Native people with all bodies and gender expressions could become hunters and warriors and be considered as equally brave and strong.
Two Spirit people could participate in all important social structures and perform all roles directed to a gender different than that of their birth. They could also get married to people of a different gender, without their biological characteristics limiting them. Their gender was to be respected, and it would be considered extremely disrespectful to expect a Two Spirit person to perform the traditional roles of the gender connected to their biological sex.
According to the Lakota actor, Native rights activist and American Indian Movement co-founder Russell Means: “In my culture we have people who dress half-man, half-woman. Winkté, we call them in our language. If you are Winkté, that is an honourable term and you are a special human being and among my nation and all Plains people, we consider you a teacher of our children and are proud of what and who you are.”
However, Walter L. Williams states that the biggest part of the evidence we have about Two Spirit traditions and identities, is focused on the native tribes of the Plains, the Great Lakes, the Southwest, and California, while numerous other tribes with different traditions exist as well, so we should avoid overgeneralising.
Even though in many Native tribes Two Spirit people were highly revered, “[…] many of the documents that report negative reactions are themselves suspect, and should be evaluated critically in light of the preponderance of evidence that suggests a respectful attitude. Some European commentators, from early frontier explorers to modern anthropologists, also were influenced by their own homophobic prejudices to distort native attitudes.”
Mahealani Joy specifically focuses on avoiding generalisation of different Native tribes, starting their article with an incident of a person that claimed that every Native LGBTQ+ person should necessarily be using the Two Spirit term instead of any other universalised term to describe their identities. According to Joy this is not the case, and there are specific reasons for which both decisions of a Native queer person, to either claim this identity or not, are valid.
But is Two Spirit referring to gender, or sexual orientation? In Western culture we hold these categories as entirely different and unrelated. Yet when it comes to different LGBTQIA+ Native individuals claiming the terms to describe their identity, its uses may vary. Some people use it to describe their gender identity based on the initial meaning and history of the term, or to describe multiple genders, and some others use it as an umbrella term derived from their own culture, to refer more generally to LGBTQIA+ or fluid identities.
In below video, produced by Basic Rights Oregon, Indigenous LGBTQIA+ people share their stories, and some of them who describe experiences that gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Western culture can relate to, use the term Two Spirit to describe their identities.
The ways that Two Spirit will be used depends on how the individual will choose to claim it, and the language links between how such a term existed or was originally used in different tribes, and how it can be used today are not that clear, since many elements of Native languages have been extinguished by colonisation.
Many Native LGBTQIA+ people may not choose to identify as Two Spirit because their tribe and its history are not associated with this term, since there exist countless different opinions on this topic and we shouldn’t make generalisations.
Some tribes are hostile towards Two Spirit identities, therefore their members may not feel comfortable to use this term. For the people who choose to identify with this term, it can be truly empowering and send through an important political message against the combined racism and homophobia/transphobia that Native LGBTQIA+ people have to go through.
Many Native LGBTQIA+ people may also choose not to identify as Two Spirit for personal or political reasons, and their choices must be respected. As for non-Native LGBTQIA+ people, they shouldn’t appropriate this term to identify with, since it does not connect in any way to their history, heritage and tradition, and there are important social and political reasons for which this term should be used exclusively by Native people.
If you are a Native LGBTQIA+ person and are wondering where to start from, concerning the Two Spirit term, Joy’s article on Everyday Feminism can offer you some really good resources.
The Cherokee Nation, the largest Native American tribe, has just ruled same-sex marriage constitutional for its 317,000 citizens.
In 2004, the Cherokee Nation banned same-sex marriage on the grounds that marriage is between one man and one woman. Because the Nation is an autonomous body separate from the United States, it was not required to uphold the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.
Other Native American tribes such as the Navajo Nation maintain that same-sex marriage is illegal, but many tribes have not taken a stand either way.
The assistant attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, Chrissi Nimmo, told Huffington Post that he expects a “mixed reaction” from tribal members. ”
Without a doubt, there will be tribal members and officials who support this and are proud of this, and there will be others … who don’t like it.”
Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree wrote the official opinion for the decision:
The right to marry without the freedom to marry the person of one’s choice is no right at all. The history of perpetual partnerships and marriage among Cherokees supports the conclusion that Cherokee citizens have a fundamental right not only to choose a spouse but also, with mutual consent, to join together and form a household irrespective of sexual orientation.
The same-sex marriage question became pertinent when the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission inquired as to whether a same-sex marriage certificate was legal proof of a woman’s identity despite the tribe’s ban.
Nimmo says that Obergefell v. Hodges heavily informed the decision, as did Cherokee oral history, ancient Cherokee customs and beliefs about sexuality, and a tradition of alternative sexuality in the tribe. Says Nimmo:
Our oral history teaches us also that the Cherokee and Euro-American worldviews differed dramatically regarding appropriate gender roles, marriage, sexuality, and spiritual beliefs. Indeed, while the majority of Cherokees subscribed to the traditional gender roles, evidence suggests a tradition of homosexuality or alternative sexuality among a minority of Cherokees.
The good news? Hembree’s decision went into effect immediately, making marriage possible for thousands of lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens. The bad news is that Hembree admits that although his decision is binding, any Cherokee official can challenge it at any time, although he says that he “doesn’t really know who would challenge it.”
Regardless, this is a reason to celebrate! Read the official opinion here.
The day after Trump was elected, what did you do? Some people protested. Some peopled headed straight to a bar.
Many gay people hurried to get married.
Trump told 60 Minutes that he was “fine” with same-sex marriage, and that the 2015 Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that gay marriage is constitutional, means that the debate is “settled.” But that hasn’t stopped thousands of couples from rushing to tie the knot, according to The New York Times. Needless to say, Trump’s pro-conversion therapy Vice President and largely anti-gay cabinet have not soothed any nerves.
Concerned for LGBT couples, a woman named Mitzie Whelan started the website LoveTrumpsHate.com. The website lists bakeries, photographers, musicians, planners, officiants, florists and even henna artists willing to donate their services to LGBT couples in a hurry to get married before Inauguration Day.
The services are available in twenty-six states, approximately half of which voted Republican in 2016. The services include a floral designer in Alaska, a Wiccan minister in Colorado, a bakery called Hippie Chick in New Hampshire, an officiant offering free hugs, a gown donor in that will ship anywhere, and secular and religious officiants all over the country.
Not every provider on the list is a professional, look into their work before making firm arrangements. However, every provider on the list is offering their services completely free of charge for nothing in return. Due to high demand, contact providers as soon as possible if you’re interested.
Whelan says, on the official website:
In light of recent events, we understand that people are scared about our uncertain future as a country. We still believe that love will prevail, but things are looking a little bleak right now. With new leaders that have threatened to set the country back 50 years, we want to do everything we can to help anyone exercise their right to love, be themselves, and be free. Money shouldn’t get in the way of that, especially when so much could be at stake in so little time. This site was created to bring lovers of love together, and be a light to a lot of people who are only seeing darkness right now.
If you and your girlfriend are hurrying to get married before January 2017, head over to LoveTrumpsHate.com and start planning! (Perhaps use the free planner in Minnesota.)
TheMichiganappeals court has ruled, a woman whose same-sex relationship ended beforesame-sex marriagebecame legal doesn’t have parental rights to a child born to her partner in 2008.
The decision, which comes a year after theU.S. Supreme Courtcleared the way for same-sex marriage across the country, will stand as a key precedent in similar disputes in Michigan involving children who were raised by same-sex couples in relationships that ended.
Michelle Lake and Kerri Putnam were together for 13 years until 2014 but didn’t marry during that time. Lake said she deserves to enjoy the rights that would have been granted to her if they had been married.
Putnam gave birth to a boy, now 8, during their relationship, but she no longer allows Lake to see him.
The appeals court said;
We simply do not believe it is appropriate for courts to retroactively impose the legal ramifications of marriage onto unmarried couples several years after their relationship has ended. That, in our view, is beyond the role of the judiciary.”
The court said Lake has no parental rights under Michigan law because the boy wasn’t born during a marriage.
This is true whether the couple involved is a heterosexual or a same-sex couple.”
The court overturned decisions by a Washtenaw County judge, who had awarded parenting time to Lake.
Judge Darlene O’Brien last fall said the best interests of the child should be considered.
Canada, the United States and Mexico are expected to pledge to do more to protect LGBTQ rights both in North America and abroad.
According to the Torstar News Service, senior Canadian sources (unable to speak on the record while negotiations are continuing) say the three countries are working to include a call for greater protection for LGBTQ rights in the three leaders’ joint statement.
The push comes after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, when a gunman murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando earlier this month.
It also comes as Mexican President, Enrique Peno Nieto, moves forward with legislation to legalize same-sex marriage across his country.
Recognizing LGBTQ rights has been a “significant” conversation with the Mexican delegation, sources told Torstar.
Another source said the issue was discussed both officially, as well as on the margins of a state dinner thrown for Pena Nieto at Rideau Hall Tuesday night.
The Mexican delegation was not immediately available for comment.
Speaking on the International Day Against Homophobia in May, Pena Nieto said he wants to amend the constitution to allow-same sex marriage nation-wide.
Some jurisdictions in Mexico, including Mexico City, already have equal marriage rights.
The initiative has been opposed by Mexico’s Catholic church. Rev. Hugo Valdemar, a spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City, told the Associated Press in May that legislators should listen to their “conscience.”
The Mexican president has also faced pressure on his four-day visit to Canada over his country’s human rights record.
Amnesty International has urged Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to raise human rights issues, particularly violence against women, in bilateral talks with Pena Nieto.
Trudeau is set to become the first Canadian prime minister to march in Toronto’s Pride parade this weekend.
Early in their mandate, his government made a few gestures towards Canada’s LGBTQ community, including raising the Pride flag on Parliament Hill, and they introduced legislation to extend human rights protections for transgender Canadians.
President Barack Obama has also earned praise from rights advocates. Over the course of his presidency, Obama oversaw the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on service by gays and lesbians in the military, appointed a number of LGBTQ judges and ambassadors, and extended hate crime laws, according to advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.
Following the Orlando massacre – which saw 49 people killed and 53 injured in a shooting at the Pulse gay bar in Orlando – Florida’s Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi (who wasted a vast amount of taxpayer money trying to block same-sex weddings) has claimed she is actually an LGBT ally.
However, Bondi who was a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage until the very end last year, got called out for trying to claim that her past actions were somehow pro-gay by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.
He asked her:
A lot of gay people in Florida said they thought you were being a hypocrite, you for years have basically gone after gay people, and said in court that we’re trying to do harm to the people of Florida… do you really think you’re a champion of the gay community?”
She her reply
When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put my hand on the Bible and was sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Florida. That’s not a law.
That [ban on same-sex marriage] was voted in to our state constitution by the voters of Florida. That’s what I was defending. I’ve never said I don’t like gay people, that’s ridiculous.”
When Cooper cited her very specific arguments recorded in legal briefs which claim gay people cause “public harm”, she insisted it was simply a “legal argument” – even though most other Attorney Generals managed to refrain from such inflammatory rhetoric.
The AG also claimed in a legal brief that “disrupting Florida’s existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm”, and would cause “significant financial and logistical problems”.
She also fought bitterly against same-sex marriage until the very week that marriages began, filing desperate taxpayer-funded attempts in successive court battles to stall on the issue on behalf of the state, and didn’t even give up once equality became law, filing a dispute to avoid shelling out the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the case had racked up in legal fees.
Incredibly, she claimed that her actions trying to block gay marriages actually helped gay people to get married, claiming:
Well Anderson, we rushed to get it to the Supreme Court. You know what today is about? Human beings. Today’s about victims.”
Talking about the victims, Cooper responded:
You’ve been talking about a hotline that allows family members and spouses of the dead to get information, which is incredibly important.
Had there been no same-sex marriage, you do realise that spouses, there would be no spouses, that boyfriends and girlfriends of the dead would not be able to get information and would not be able probably even to visit in the hospital here. Isn’t there a sick irony in that?”
I was defending the constitution of what over 69 percent of the voters put in the constitution.”
Inside the Chinese Closet is a documentary that examines the rising phenomenon of fake straight marriages between LGBT men and women in China.
Directed by Italian filmmaker Sophia Luvarà, the film follows a lesbian named Cherry and a gay man named Andy on a quest to find, not love, but their ‘other half’ for a sham marriage.
In China, such unions between lesbian women and gay men are often calledxinghun, which means cooperative marriage. For many, it’s the only way for them to fulfil their duty of continuing the family’s name, as well as to evade the social stigmas of being gay or being ‘left on the shelf.’
In the film, shows a ‘wedding fair’ where gay men and women come together to ‘speed date’ and to openly negotiate their terms for marriage e.g. freedom to have their own same-sex partner, possibility of living separately, whether to have baby through IVF, so on and so forth.
Based in Shanghai, the project had taken Luvarà two years of research and a great deal of effort finding the right people to star in the film.
Withfilm, Luvarà and her team hope to reach out to Chinese LGBTs and their families, and to raise awareness about homosexuality in the rural areas as well.
Even though homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997, and in 2001, it was declassified as a mental illness, being gay still carries significant stigma in the mostly conservative Chinese society. In certain parts, there are clinics that offer conversion therapies.
Portrayals of same-sex relationships are also widely prohibited in themainstream and online media.
Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore – who is currently world tour promoting lesbian movie Freeheld – has spoken out in support of the LGBT community in Italy, after being asked by a reporter whether it was right for same-sex couples to raise a child together.
Having a family is a matter of human rights. Everyone should have the right to have a family. People taking care of each other, that’s what it means to be a family.”
Italy is the last Western European country, which has no legal recognition for cohabiting same-sex couples.
In recent months, the Italian Senate has begun debating a bill to legalise same-sex civil unions last month.
And despite facing fierce opposition in the Catholic country, it is expected to pass.
Amid a debate around same-sex civil unions, a group a senators proposed prison sentences for gay couples who use overseas surrogates.
Anti-gay rights demonstrations, including one named a “Family Day”, have taken place across the country as well.
A ruling by Japan’s Supreme Court last month on marriage could open the door to same-sex couples being able to marry.
The ruling was made in a lawsuit filed by married opposite-sex couples objecting to the requirement under the Civil Code that they register under only one surname.
The majority of the 15-strong Supreme Court panel ruled that the Civil Code was not violating the plaintiffs’ rights.
However Sota Kimura – an associate professor at the Tokyo Metropolitan University – pointed out that it is the first time judges have ruled on Article 24, which defines marriage as a legally binding union between two people.
Some translations suggest that marriage only applies to opposite-sex couples, however the word “ryōsei” can also mean simply “two parties”.
Kimura said he thinks the Supreme Court judges were stressing the latter interpretation of the word.
He said because the judges did not explicitly limit the definition of marriage to one man and one woman, this could open the door to same-sex marriage becoming legal in Japan.
Kimura says that if a couple eventually a same-sex couple sued the state to have their marriage recognised, this latest ruling could be used as a precedent.
However the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the Constitution would need to be revised before same-sex marriage rights could be allowed.
Japan’s views on homosexuality are a complex one. Despite artistic cultural exports that shows Japan as being a socially progressive society in regards to gender and sexual expression, the country still struggles with broad legislation that would ensure LGBT equality.
Though there are a number of openly queer politicians in Japan, openly gay people run the risk of being evicted, fired, or denied access to Japan’s health care.
MPs have shown an overwhelming support (64 to 22) to reinstate civil unions in Queensland, which means same-sex relationships will soon be recognised in the eyes of the law.
This will hopefully lay the foundations for marriage equality across the Australian state.
Now, any unmarried couples in Queensland may now enter into a civil union, with the law applying to LGBT and heterosexual partners alike.
3 years ago Queensland removed gay couples’ ability to have children through surrogacy and downgraded civil partnerships to the class of ‘registered relationships’, following a debate in Parliament.
The state first legalised civil unions in 2008 under the Labor government but they were scrapped by Liberal National Premier Campbell Newman.
Talking before the vote, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said;
It’s time to inject some maturity and some dignity into the marriage debate. It’s time to again allow heterosexual couples who might want to affirm their relationship but not take the step of actually getting married the right to do so.”
LGBT acitivists have welcomed the move – but say it is only the first step to same-sex marriage in Australia.
Rodney Croome of Australian Marriage Equality, added
I welcome the Queensland government’s Civil Partnership law because it will provide same-sex couples with greater legal certainty. But civil partnerships are not a substitute for equality in marriage for same-sex couples.
Marriage is a universally recognized institution that guarantees equal respect and equal rights in a way civil partnerships cannot.”
Same-sex marriage is banned Australia, and PM Malcolm Turnbull stalling to vote on subject until 2017 – meaning marriages might take even longer to begin.
However, the Australian Senate recently passed a motion calling on the PM to scrap plans for a distant ‘public vote’ on same-sex marriage and to act on the issue now.
Fingers crossed this is step in the right direction
Anti-discrimination laws vary from state to state – meaning that you can still legally be fired for being LGBT in 28 states.
However, now President Obama is throwing his weight behind a proposed anti-discrimination law, which would protect LGBT workers in all 50 states.
Obama previously signed an Executive Order outlawing discrimination, but this only extends to federal contractors.
The President had declined to openly back the Equality Act last month – but this week vowed to support the law, which already has backing from most Democratic lawmakers.
His press spokesperson Josh Earnest said:
The administration strongly supports the Equality Act. That bill is historic legislation that would advance the cause of equality for millions of Americans.
We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that the legislative process produces a result that balances both the bedrock principles of civil rights… with the religious liberty that we hold dear in this country.”
Oprah’s Master Class returned this Sunday, with Ellen DeGeneres sharing what she’s learned on her path to becoming a beloved daytime talk show host.
In 1997, Ellen became an unintentional activist when she announced she was gay around the same time that her television character came out on the show.
This decision, Ellen admits, was one she never thought she’d make. Talking to Oprah Winfrey, the comedian said she feared that coming out would end her career.
I certainly didn’t ever that I was going to come out. Period. And I didn’t think I’d be coming out on a show, ever.”
DeGeneres said she changed her mind after a friend gave her a ‘hippie retreat’ at the Esalen Institute called Changing the Inner Dialogue as a gift.
I wanted to know what the inner dialogue of my subconscious mind was, and it was scary and crazy. What came out of listening to what I had been saying to myself is. “Would I still be famous? Would they still love me if they knew I was gay?” And my fear was, “No, they wouldn’t.”
But DeGeneres said she felt shame that she was hiding her sexuality.
I just didn’t want to pretend to be somebody else anymore so that people would like.”
Hillary Clinton has addressed her changing views on same-sex marriage, after being challenged about her previous opposition to it.
Former Secretary of State and now Democratic Presidential candidate – Hillary Clinton – is seen as a strong supporter of LGBT rights, and strongly welcomed same-sex marriage in all 50 states earlier this year.
However, opponents have often raised questions of her change on the issue, having insisted in the Senate in 2004 that marriage is “a sacred bond between a man and a woman”.
Her differing views were put to the candidate on Meet the Press, when she defended her evolution on the issue.
What I’ve always tried to do is say, what is the best decision I can think about making now? On same-sex marriage, like a lot of people, including our President, I did evolve.
I was not raised to even imagine this, and I’m thrilled now that it is the law of the land – I have a lot of good friends who are now able to be married because of the changes we’ve made legally and constitutionally.”
The former First Lady announced her support for equal marriage back in 2013 – and has consistently shown her support for LGBT issues since.
According to pollsters, almost one in two, or 45%, approved of the decision by a federal judge to send Davis to jail for not complying with his order to issue those licenses. And 16% preferred Davis be forced to issue the licenses, but were against sending her to jail for her refusal.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents said when civil rights and religious beliefs conflict, it is more important to treat everyone equally than to accommodate someone’s objections based on faith. And it wasn’t just Democrats but Republicans, liberals, and conservatives who offered broad support for that concept.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted Sept. 7-10 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults, including land-line and cellphone respondents. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has dismissed rumours that she is to divorce her wife Portia de Rossi, saying:
There’s not one ounce of truth to any of it.”
Speaking on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show, DeGeneres said:
We really don’t almost break up, we don’t fight, we’re madly in love, and I guess it’s boring. It’s so ridiculous to me,’ she continued. ‘There’s not one ounce of truth to any of it. I’m very happily married. In fact, the only thing we ever argue about is who loves who more. That is all. It’s really true.”
Explaining that she doesn’t pay attention to showbiz gossip, she said:
We don’t know anything about it until somebody tells us. I don’t read the tabloids, I don’t have a publicist. I don’t know why they do this. We’re kind of flattered because for a while no one cared about us and we thought “Oh, lesbians aren’t worthy of tabloid stories” so now we’re kind of flattered that they care about us.”
Having celebrated their seventh anniversary last month, the grinning pair walked hand-in-hand through New York on Thursday.
DeGeneres and de Rossi first started dating in 2004, and married in August 2008.
When Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show last week, Ellen’s reactions were mixed, especially in response to Jenner’s views on same-sex marriage.
Calling herself a “traditionalist,” Jenner admitted that she used to oppose equal marriage, before publicly coming out as transgender.
I think, like a lot of people on this issue, I have really changed my thinking here to, ‘I don’t ever want to stand in front of anybody’s happiness.’ That’s not my job, okay?”
Explaining that she had changed her mind on the issue, she said:
If the word ‘marriage’ is really, really that important to you, I can go with it.”
However, DeGeneres appears to have been taken aback by the answer – telling SiriusXM host Howard Stern that she was baffled.
Caitlyn Jenner is on the show today, and she really still has a judgement about gay marriage. I said to her: ‘You’re wanting people to understand and accept you – this is like really confusing to people – but you still have a judgement about gay people and marriage’.
She said ‘if the word marriage is that important’ …and I was like, ‘it is, because that’s the word!’. We want the same thing as everybody.”
DeGeneres also questioned the star’s Republican beliefs – despite Republicans actively opposing trans rights.
She’s a Republican and conservative – and I think a lot of Republicans are wishing she wasn’t a Republican.”
The entertainer also revealed that Jenner refused to dance with her – which most guests including President Obama have done on her talk show.
No, she didn’t dance. I don’t think she’s a dancer. Maybe she didn’t want to dance with me cause I’m a lesbian! She was great, it was a great interview. I don’t really know her, and I’m trying to understand it, because I don’t fully understand it either.
I also want everyone to be happy I don’t fully understand all of that, but I want her to be happy. Which is what I want for her, for me.”
Lawyers for a Hazel Park couple who helped legalise same-sex marriage across the nation asked a federal judge to force the state to pay more than $1.9 million in legal fees.
The request puts a price-tag on the state of Michigan’s failed opposition to a landmark case that lasted more than three years. It comes almost exactly one month after the U.S. Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage in the United States.
Court records describe a shoestring battle and hardship endured by lawyers whose clients couldn’t afford the fight. One lawyer sold her house to keep alive a case that ended in a landmark ruling.
Lawyers Carole Stanyar and Dana Nessel wrote in a federal court.
This case was both rare and difficult because plaintiffs’ counsel were defending members of an historically unpopular minority. Although public opinion has shifted considerably in the years that this case has been pending, when filed, a decided majority of the Michigan population were opposed to marriage by same-sex couples.”
Lawyers for Hazel Park couple April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, whose relationship was at the heart of the Supreme Court case, said if anyone is suffering from sticker shock over the legal fees, blame the state for waging a protracted fight.
There was no immediate comment from spokeswomen for Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney Bill Schuette, the public official who served as the face of opposition in the case.
The request includes fees for six lawyers even though the couple’s legal team included eight attorneys, seven law clerks, multiple paralegals and experts from Boston, New York, San Francisco and Lansing. The six lawyers each billed $350 an hour.
The questions presented were unquestionably novel, complex and difficult. This was the first trial in history challenging the Michigan Marriage Amendment, and Michigan’s statutory marriage and second-parent adoption bans.”
Rowse and DeBoer were unable to pay their lawyers, Stanyar wrote in a filing Saturday. Stanyar said she sold her house to help bankroll the historic legal fight.
She said the fee request will be among the largest, if not the largest, legal bill tied to the marriage equality fight nationwide.
Raising the funds for this litigation was exceedingly difficult. This was a difficult, hotly contested ,emotion-charged lawsuit from start to finish…”
Last month, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, a ruling that President Barack Obama called a “victory for America.”
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