Showing posts with label Gay Marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Marriage. Show all posts

May 22, 2020

Arranged Gay Marriages in India are Believed to be Just a Scam

         Arranged Gay Marriage Bureau - Home | FacebookArranged Love Marriage - A Romantic Novel - Home | Facebook

By Priti Salian

Vikas, a 38-year-old project manager for a utility company in Jalandhar, a city in the north Indian state of Punjab, had been looking for a same-sex romantic partner for several years with no luck. Following a number of failed attempts to meet someone through friends and data apps, Vikas decided last year to sign up with the Arranged Gay Marriage Bureau. After reading several reviews and articles about the India-based matchmaking service, which was founded in 2015, he was hopeful that it could help him find a partner with whom he could settle down for the rest of his life.
However, 12 months and $500 later, Vikas said the bureau fell far short of his expectations. After being promised one foreign profile for review every week, he said he received only eight profiles, just half of them international.
“I didn’t match with a few due to some drastic differences, and the bureau informed me that the rest had rejected my profile,” said Vikas, who asked that his last name not be used to protect his privacy; apart from his family and close friends, no one knows he is gay. 
In March, Vikas wrote to Urvi Shah, the CEO of the Arranged Gay Marriage Bureau and the only available contact for the company, to ask her to send him more profiles or give him a refund. Shah responded that the agency was temporarily closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and his refund — which had been promised over the phone before registration if the bureau was unable to find him a match within a year — was denied, according to Vikas.
Vikas is not alone in his disappointment with the Arranged Gay Marriage Bureau, which claims to work with gay men and lesbians of Indian descent all over the world to help them find a suitable long-term partner. In fact, the matchmaking service was the subject of a Vice Media report last month titled “The Arranged Gay Marriage Scam.” The 20-minute documentary follows two U.K.-based clients of the service — the documentary’s host, Reeta Loi, and a man referred to only as Keith — who, after 11 months, each received just a handful of dating profiles. At the end of the film, Loi questions the veracity of the matchmaking profiles and calls the bureau a “malicious” scam that is “taking advantage of a section of society who are desperate to find connection and desperate to find love.”
The film has outraged many in India’s LGBTQ community, who have demanded answers from Shah, who was initially responsive to NBC News’ inquiries but then stopped answering questions. So is her service an outright scam or just an unprofessional business that overpromises and underdelivers? While the Vice film documents the experiences of two clients, NBC News, which profiled the Arranged Gay Marrige Bureau back in 2018, reached out to other clients to ask about their experience with the service. 
 After finding clients by calling out in various LGBTQ groups on social media and WhatsApp, NBC News interviewed five people who responded and were able to share proof of their registration with the bureau. During conversations with these clients, there were a number of common threads in their experiences. Four of them said that while the bureau promises to send one matchmaking profile a week, it never works that way. The lucky ones reported receiving 15 to 20 profiles a year, and three of the clients said there were months-long gaps in communication, which Shah then tried to justify.
“Urvi cited personal problems, which seemed like excuses, when I wrote her a stern email in January after she had stopped responding to my calls and emails completely,” recalled a 27-year-old man from Gujarat, a state on India’s western coast, who said he had stopped receiving profiles for several months. “Post that, she sent me three profiles, but only to appease me, as none of them matched my requirements.”
NBC News, however, found three relatively satisfied clients, though most of them expressed misgivings about certain aspects of the service. While these individuals shared their real names and other personal information with NBC News to verify their identity, they all asked to go by just their first name or no name at all, as they are not out to many people in their lives. Homosexuality is still taboo in most parts of India, and gay marriage is not legal. 

A New Delhi-based gay man said he received a profile every few days and met all five of his matches. His fifth match has been his live-in partner for the last year and a half. He did, however, disclose that he “paid double” the usual fee and asked the bureau to “expedite the service.”
Akarsh, a Bangalore-based management professional, said he received profiles as promised in the first few months, but then the service slowed down considerably, and he received less than 10 profiles over the following year.
During the two years he was registered with the service, Akarsh said he was matched with two people. “I don’t think the profiles sent to me were fake,” he said. “I was in touch with both of them for weeks, and am sure they are genuine.”
However, Akarsh said he thinks Shah’s claim that the Arranged Gay Marriage Bureau has 3,700 clients, about two-thirds of them in India, “may well be a misrepresentation,” as he said, “it takes them time to find matches.”
Deepak, a Bangalore-based software professional, said he signed up with the bureau earlier this year. While he has received only seven or eight profiles, less than he was promised, the selection met his preferences, and he has been able to have conversations with a few of his matches.
“I’m assertive and good at following up, so I usually get the services promised to me,” Deepak, 35, said. He has no complaints with the service.

‘Misleading’ and ‘distressing’

The Vice report calls into question the veracity of the Arranged Gay Marriage Bureau’s matchmaking profiles and whether they are culled from other dating services.
“I copied and pasted the language used in the profiles received by Keith and me and could trace all four of them back to other online dating sites,” Loi, a London-based artist and musician, told NBC News. “That was when this service became really questionable to me.”
Shah, however, said she’s “not accountable for someone making their profile using Google,” implying that it was the user who copied and pasted while creating their profile, not the bureau stealing profiles from other dating sites.
Shah also said she doesn’t guarantee finding matches and has a no refund policy “unless a client hasn’t spoken to anyone after at least six months of registration.” Vice also flagged some of the Arranged Gay Marriage Bureau’s social media posts, which appear to take credit for matchmaking success stories that in fact had nothing to do with the bureau.
For example, an article from an Australian newspaper with the headline “Same-sex marriage in India” was posted to the bureau’s social media accounts with the caption “Urvi Shah helping LGBTQ community find love.” While those who clicked on the article and read it would see that the happy same-sex couple featured in the image did not meet through the bureau, those who didn’t bother to click through would assume they were satisfied clients of Shah’s.
“While the article does not say the bureau matched us, it should have been more explicit about the dissociation,” the couple, who had “never heard of the bureau before,” told NBC News. “The bureau’s social media post about the article, which comes with our photo, could be misleading."
Satya Banerji, a Mumbai-based media lawyer, said that as long as the social media posts link back to the original sources, the poster can’t be blamed. Culling profiles from other sites, however, can definitely be a serious offense, if that is indeed what is happening, according to Banerji. And if a customer of a business in India believes they've been scammed or have not been provided agreed upon services, they can file a complaint in their city’s consumer court or seek legal advice for redressal, he added.

While the Arranged Gay Marriage Bureau has at least a handful of satisfied clients, a number of other clients complain of unprofessional behavior, including broken promises of providing a steady stream of matchmaking profiles, big gaps in communication and preferential service for those who are willing to pay extra.
“It can be distressing for people like us, who have faced ridicule and rejection in all walks of life,” Vikas said.
Following conversations with the bureau’s clients, including the host of the Vice documentary, there’s a general sense that Shah launched her company with good intentions but lost her way at some point.
“I really believe she started the organization in good faith, but it is not being run in an ethical way now,” Loi said.
While Shah stopped responding to NBC News' inquiries about her matchmaking service, she denied any wrongdoing in the Vice report and said "the bureau is 100 percent legitimate and real." Nonetheless, the controversy surrounding the bureau appears to have negatively affected LGBTQ sentiment in India.
“It saddens us to see someone take advantage of a vulnerable community, the same community that is giving them business,” said Balachandran Ramiah, a member of Gay Bombay, a support group creating safe spaces for its 18,000 gay members in Mumbai.
The Arranged Gay Marriage Bureau is not the only same-sex matchmaking platform in India, but there is fear that its apparent lack of professionalism will have a ripple effect.
“After such an experience, it’s going to be difficult for the LGBTQ community to put their trust in such businesses,” Manvendra Singh Gohil, an LGBTQ advocate and the first prince in India to come out as gay, told NBC News.

February 1, 2020

Government Arrest 10 Men After Video Appeared in Social Media on Their Gay Marriage

Authorities have arrested 10 men after a video appeared on social media of a gay couple appearing to take part in a traditional wedding ceremony, human rights groups said


Police later determined the gathering was a birthday party but the men remain in custody with no trial date set yet.
Mauritania practices strict Islamic law known as Shariah and homosexuality is criminalized. If convicted, the men could face the death penalty though executions have not been carried out in more than a decade, according to Amnesty International.
“It is a serious attack on the individual and collective freedom of these young people who have the right to display their difference and intimate preferences," said Brahim Bilal, the president of a human rights organization in Mauritania.
Video of the festive ceremony prompted an outcry to what was suspected of being the first gay marriage in Mauritania. 
The Nouakchott public prosecutor's office then opened an investigation, and the police arrested the 10 young men. The case marks rare enforcement of Islamic law: In 2018 Human Rights Watch said there were no known cases of people being jailed or sentenced to death for homosexual acts in Mauritania.
Same-sex acts are illegal in more than 33 African countries and can lead to death sentences in parts of at least four, including Mauritania, Sudan, northern Nigeria, and southern Somalia, according to Amnesty International.

November 14, 2019

LGBTQ Community in South Korea Fights For Marriage Equality

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- South Korean lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activists filed a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea on Wednesday calling for greater same-sex rights.
A network of organizations called Gagoonet, or the Korean Network for Partnership and Marriage Rights of LGBT, submitted the mass complaint, which cites violations of numerous economic and social rights in Korea due to the lack of legal same-sex partnerships. 
The petition carried the signatures of over 1,000 LGBT individuals, same-sex couples and family members.
At a small rally outside the commission's headquarters on Wednesday morning before submitting the petition, activists held up signs reading "Happiness" and "Caring" and chanted slogans such as "Not legalizing same-sex marriage is LGBT discrimination." 
Yi Ho-rim, an organizer with Gagoonet, said the group is pushing for the Human Rights Commission, a national advocacy institution, to make a recommendation to the government to introduce legislation for same-sex marriage and partnership rights.
"What we are asking for is the protection of rights for the LGBT community," Yi said.
She added that the LGBT community is looking to raise its profile in a country that remains deeply conservative on a number of social issues. 
"In South Korea, there's still not an active conversation on same-sex marriage or LGBT policies and laws," Yi said. "One purpose of this mass petition is to facilitate a public conversation about same-sex marriage."
Same-sex marriage and other forms of legal partnership are not available in South Korea, and in the military, consensual sex between men is punishable by up to two years in prison, a policy that Amnesty International condemned earlier this year.
In June, Gagoonet conducted a survey of 380 people living with same-sex partners in Korea and found that they faced a host of difficulties, such as exclusion from low-cost housing loans targeting newlyweds and legal rights when a spouse or partner is sick or dies. 
But while legal recognition remains limited, public attitudes have been evolving over the past few years, Yi said.
"Things are changing rapidly because the LGBT community is becoming more visible and many people are coming out to their families, in public, and at the workplace," she said.
At a meeting with religious leaders last month, President Moon Jae-in spoke out against LGBT discrimination in his most pointed remarks on the subject since taking office in 2017.
"A national consensus should be the priority for same-sex marriage," Moon told Christian and Buddhist, leaders. "However, regarding the human rights of sexual minorities, they should not be socially persecuted or discriminated against."
While campaigning for president, Moon drew criticism from rights groups by saying he opposed homosexuality during a televised debate.
At the rally on Wednesday, activists shared stories from their own lives as they called for the Human Rights Commission to formally recommend marriage equality.
Kim Yong-min described his husband's care for him during a long illness.
"My husband has been by my side for a long time as a treasured person who cares for me when I am sick," Kim said. "If this kind of relationship is not a family, what kind of relationship is it?"
Kang Sun-hwa said she was "shocked and saddened" when her son, now 24, came out as gay three years ago.
"I thought my son would get old without anyone to be with him and would be lonely," she said.
She quickly grew to accept her son's sexual orientation but felt she needed to do more to help secure his future.
"I decided not just to stop at the emotional acceptance stage," said Kang, who joined the organization PFLAG Korea, which stands for Parents and Friends of LGBTQ People. "I needed to work for my son to get the rights he deserves. I realized that we need political action to protect same-sex couples."
Same-sex marriage is now allowed in 30 countries and territories around the world.
South Korean activists have looked to progress being made in Asian countries such as Japan, where more than two dozen municipalities have recognized same-sex partnerships, and particularly Taiwan, which legalized same-sex marriage in a landmark ruling in May.
So Sung-uk, a 28-year-old NGO worker who joined the rally on Wednesday, said that coming out in South Korea is still difficult for many, but he found inspiration in scenes from Taiwan.
"When I saw the first married couples in Taiwan crying tears of happiness, I was moved," he said. "I desperately want that here."

September 11, 2019

Gay Marrying Couple Received Warning Letter To Not Get Married In Their Village

.      We reported on the wedding just after it happened but what people didn't know was there was a warning letter sent to them not to get married in their village.

Ashley Jenkins, left, and Callum Hodge on their wedding day (Picture: SWNS)
Ashley Jenkins, left, and Callum Hodge on their wedding day (Picture: SWNS)
A gay couple about to get married was sent an anonymous letter warning them to have their village wedding somewhere else.
Police say they are investigating after the homophobic letter was posted in the village of Norton Malreward, Somerset, ahead of the wedding of Callum Hodge and Ashley Jenkins.
Four months before their wedding reception at Mr. Hodge’s home, his mother, Janie, a postwoman, received the letter.
The couple planned to have a reception at the family’s private barn conversion following a ceremony in nearby Bristol.
The anonymous note was dropped through the letterbox of his parents’ home in the village, which has a population of just 246 people.
Ashley Jenkins, left, and Callum Hodge had their wedding reception at Mr Hodge's family's barn conversion (Picture: SWNS)
Ashley Jenkins, left, and Callum Hodge had their wedding reception at Mr Hodge's family's barn conversion (Picture: SWNS)
The homophobic letter claimed it was the “consensus of the village” that the reception should be held elsewhere.
The author of the letter wrote that Mr Hodge “should be ashamed of himself for putting his grandparents through this”.
It said he would no longer “be welcome in heaven” and said his mother needed to lead him down a “new path”.
Mother-of-four Janie, 59, reported the letter to Avon and Somerset Police on the same day it arrived at her house.
But she didn’t tell her son about it until after his wedding in July.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked and just devastated to read it”, she said.
“It was addressed to me and said it was the consensus of the village that if the wedding was going to happen then it should do so far, far away from the village.
“I didn’t want to speak to anyone or acknowledge anyone in the village because I thought everyone was out to get us.
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“It is vile. It made me feel completely unwelcome in the village. The letter is so cruel and it made me very upset.
“I was so worried something would happen on the wedding day, like a protest or something. This person tried to ruin our day and it is so hateful.”
The sending of the letter is being treated as a potential hate crime and police are investigating.
Janie told her son about the letter a week after the “wonderful” wedding day.
The couple were married at a ceremony in Bristol (Picture: SWNS)
The couple were married at a ceremony in Bristol (Picture: SWNS)
Mr. Hodge, a dog walker, who lives with Mr. Jenkins, 27, a dressage rider, in Evenlode, Gloucestershire, said: “I found it really upsetting. I lived in that village for 29 years.
“It is evil. We are free to do whatever we want on our private land. It’s a homophobic attack.
“I feel pity for that person. Why do they feel as though they have a right to do that, to try to ruin our day? I was more angry at how it made my mum feel.
“She was made to feel completely unwelcome in the community. She felt like an outcast.
“To think that we probably have met that person makes me sad. They are pathetic and made up lies to attack us.
Mr Hodge, left, said the person who wrote the letter was "pathetic" (Picture: SWNS)
Mr. Hodge left, said the person who wrote the letter was "pathetic" (Picture: SWNS)
“But it didn’t spoil anything. We had the most amazing day and the room was filled with so much love.”
The couple married on July 13, which was also Bristol Gay Pride day.
Mr. Hodge took to Facebook to vent his frustration at the letter, which had been typed on a computer and posted through his parents’ front door.
He said: “We had an amazing day and to say we are now husband and husband means so much to us.
“It felt amazing to get married. We love each other but are like best friends too.
“After that, so many people came to the house or stopped us in the street to say it had nothing to do with them.
“The amount of support we received showed it wasn’t the village that felt like it as a whole.
“It is just some bigoted individual.”
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We have been advised of a letter which we were treating as a potential hate mail.”

June 14, 2019

Highest Court in Ecuador Orders Gay Marriages Be Legalized

Image result for gay marriage ecuador


By Kara Fox and Ana Melgar Zuniga (CNN)

Ecuador's highest court has ruled to recognize same-sex marriage, marking a watershed moment for LGBTQ rights in the Catholic-majority country.
Judges on Quito's constitutional court ruled five-to-four on Wednesday to overhaul the country's laws, arguing that its current marriage legislation was discriminatory and unconstitutional, and that same-sex couples should be allowed equal rights.
The four dissenting judges said that changes to the Ecuadorean constitution should be decided and approved by the government and not the court.
Ecuador's National Assembly will still be required to officially change the laws that define the institution of marriage. Constitutional lawyer Salim Zaidán told CNN, however, that Wednesday's verdict was binding and that same-sex couples would be able to marry as soon as the constitutional court notifies local government offices of their decision. The court has 10 days to do so. 
The case was brought to the constitutional court by two same-sex couples who had petitioned for the right to marry.
On Wednesday, LGBTQ activists and supporters outside the courthouse hailed the celebration as a victory for a movement that has long campaigned for equal marriage rights.
Same-sex marriage advocate Pamela Troya, who had been denied a license to marry her partner, Gaby Correa in 2013, told CNN she was "overwhelmed with emotion," after a six-year fight. 
"The judges decided to be on the right side of history," she said, adding that now the pair will finally be able to get married. 
Human rights activist Cristhian Paula told CNN that the decision "recognizes a historic fight for equality in which every citizen has the same rights, with the same name" and that "an institution like marriage is no longer used as an excuse to segregate and discriminate."
Since 2015, Ecuador has legally recognized same-sex unions, with legislation
providing that couples are granted the same rights afforded to married couples,
with the exception of adoption.
Ecuador's LGBTQ movements have marked some victories over the years,
 notably through a 2008 constitutional protection that prohibits discrimination
 based on sexual orientation.
In 2013, conversion therapy was outlawed in rehabilitation institutions and, in 2015,
a change to the labor law made it illegal for employers to discriminate against
workers on sexual orientation.
Still, homophobic attitudes continue to prevail in parts of the country and the region.
Only a handful of countries in South America have legalized same-sex marriage,
 including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay, according to the
  International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

    May 20, 2019

    China Wants Credit For Gay Marriage in Taiwan!

                                            Image result for taiwan lgbt marriage

    By Steven Jiang, CNN

    Beijing (CNN)Taiwan has lashed out at China's state media for attempting to take credit for the island's historic decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
    On Friday, Taiwan's legislators passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality, the first place in Asia to give LGBT couples many of the same rights as their heterosexual peers.
    LGBT activists were overjoyed at the news, but some of the most unlikely praise came from the Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece.
    "Local lawmakers in Taiwan, China, have legalized same-sex marriage in a first for Asia," tweeted the People's Daily newspaper on Friday, along with a rainbow color-infused animated image that says "love is love" underneath.
    "Wrong!" Joseph Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister, shot back on his department's official Twitter account Sunday. "The bill was passed by our national parliament and will be signed by the president soon. Democratic Taiwan is a country in itself and has nothing to do with authoritarian China."
    "(People's Daily) is a commie brainwasher and it sucks."
    Taiwan and China are separated by fewer than 130 kilometers (81 miles) at their closest point. For seven decades, the two have maintained an uneasy truce following their split at the end of a bloody civil war in 1949.
    Unification is a long-term aim for China's ruling Communist Party, which regards self-governed Taiwan -- an island of 23 million people -- as a renegade province.
    The historic vote in Taiwan came almost two years after the island's Constitutional Court ruled existing laws -- which defined marriage as between a man and a woman -- to be unconstitutional.
    Despite sharply divided public opinions, Taiwan's legislators passed the law only a week before a court-set deadline to enact marriage equality laws. It will go into effect on May 24.
    As thousands of people in Taipei took to the streets to celebrate the outcome, Beijing's propaganda authorities appeared to see an opportunity to stake a claim on China's sovereignty over Taiwan and to highlight China's supposed LGBT-friendliness.
    The news from Taiwan was among trending topics Friday on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter. It has remained a widely discussed story, generating largely positive comments, despite the Chinese government's growing censorship on all LGBT-related subjects on social media.
    Global Times, a state-run tabloid known for its nationalistic rhetoric, posted a video Saturday showcasing gay social life in Beijing. The three-minute clip features interviews with local advocates as well as foreigners praising the Chinese capital's inclusive culture, complete with footage of drag queen performances.
    Homosexuality is not illegal in China and the authorities in 2001 removed it from the official list of mental disorders. But activists and experts agree that prejudices and discrimination persist, as well as periodic government crackdowns.
    Since he came to power in late 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has increasingly stressed the Communist Party's absolute control over all aspects of society, resulting in a push for more rigid moral codes and even less room for LGBT visibility and advocacy.
    In March, nearly all LGBT content was scrubbed from "Bohemian Rhapsody," the award-winning biopic of British rock band Queen, for the Chinese audience. Deleted scenes range from two men kissing to the word "gay."
    Last November, an author of same-sex erotic fiction was sent to jail for ten years. In 2016, Chinese censors banned the portrayal of "abnormal sexual behavior" in TV and online shows,including gay and lesbian relationships.
    Still, some Chinese activists want to focus on the positive impact of Taiwan's legalization of same-sex marriage may have on the mainland. 
      "It offers us a lot of hope," Xiaogang Wei, a leading LGBT rights activist who heads the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, told CNN on Friday.
      "The Chinese government has pointed to cultural tradition as a reason for same-sex marriage being unsuitable in China. But the decision in Taiwan, which shares a cultural tradition with us, proves that Chinese culture can be open, diverse and progressive."

      January 30, 2019

      Trump Names Lawyer For Fed.Judge Who Fought At the Supreme Court Vs.Gay Marriage ⧭⧭ Should He Be Approved?

      FILE - In this June 29, 2015 photo, Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that legalized same sex marriage nationwide, is backed by supporters of the courts ruling on same-sex marriage on the step of the Texas Capitol during a rally in Austin, Texas. The Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. It was 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry. Eleven years later, the Supreme Court has now ruled that all those gay marriage bans must fall and same-sex couples have the same right to marry under the Constitution as everyone else. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) In this June 29, 2015 photo, Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that legalized same sex marriage nationwide, is backed by supporters of the courts ruling on same-sex marriage on the step of the Texas Capitol during a rally in Austin, Texas. The Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. It was 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry. Eleven years later, the Supreme Court has now ruled that all those gay marriage bans must fall and same-sex couples have the same right to marry under the Constitution as everyone else. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) 
      In March 2013, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, broke with his Republican colleagues and penned an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch supporting same-sex couples' right to marry, a conclusion he reached shortly after his son came out as gay. In the article, he expressed his desire for each of his three children to have "the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment" in all aspects of their lives. So I was surprised to find out that Portman was supporting the nomination of Eric Murphy to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit even after Murphy argued against same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court.

      Barely four years ago, Mr. Murphy made a forceful argument that my marriage was unconstitutional. As the attorney tasked with defending Ohio's discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage, he used dog-whistles such as "traditional marriage" in his brief to the Supreme Court and argued that "bigotry" had nothing to do with why the state refused to recognize my lawful marriage to my late husband.

      The court rejected Murphy’s arguments and overturned that law. In a landmark opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy — for whom Murphy himself once clerked — the Supreme Court declared that “it demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society.” Gay couples “ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” Kennedy wrote. “The Constitution grants them that right.”

      Still, if Murphy had been successful, John and I, and tens of thousands of couples like us, would have been denied the right to marry and forced to live as second-class citizens.

      Now, Murphy seeks to be a judge who will decide cases such as mine; his renomination was sent to the Senate this week. As a federal judge, Murphy would have immense power and influence over the rights of the LGBTQ community. Judges can decide if presidents can ban transgender soldiers from serving in the military. Judges can decide if people can be fired from their job for being gay. Such decisions would affect people such as me, Senator Portman’s son, and thousands of other LGBTQ people living in the 6th Circuit states of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.
      In light of his past arguments, Murphy must show he is capable of being fair and unbiased toward the LGBTQ community.

      Now that he is no longer obligated to defend the old Ohio law, he should explicitly affirm that my Supreme Court case was correctly decided and vow that discrimination against the LGBTQ community would have no place in his courtroom. Surely there is no longer anything stopping Murphy from showing the same respect and dignity to the LGBTQ community as Kennedy and Portman have.
      Until Murphy makes such a statement, Portman and his fellow senators should oppose his nomination.

      I was fortunate enough to meet John in 1992 and knew instantly that he was the love of my life. In Portman’s own words, my late husband and I were two people “prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad.” We need senators — on both sides of the aisle — to ensure our community can live free from discrimination at work, at school and in the military. 

      Portman has already stated his desire to make sure all of his children, gay or straight, have the same opportunities. Now is the time for him to commit to making sure all of his constituents, including LGBTQ families, couples and children, can do the same. He can start by challenging Murphy, and all of President Trump's nominees, to publicly denounce LGBTQ discrimination in any form before agreeing to support their confirmations. 

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