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

March 2, 2017

Finland Approves Same Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Finland, the 12th European state to do so, according to Pink News
Finland has allowed same sex-unions, or partnerships, with restricted rights since 2002; however, the new legislation, which went into effect Wednesday, allows same-sex couples the right to take each other’s surname and adopt children, according to The Huffington Post

Finnish lawmakers rejected a petition Feb.17 from more than 100,000 people demanding the repeal of the same-sex legislation, according to The New York Times. Petitioners, who claimed registered partnerships were sufficient enough, included members of the far-right populist Finns Party and the Christian Democrats. Despite opposition, the Finnish Parliament voted 120-48 in order to uphold the law. 

Some opponents within parliament also argued all children should have the right to a father and mother, a declaration posed by Mika Niikko of the nationalist Finns party during the legislation’s initial approval in 2014, Reuters reported. 

“This is a question of the future of our children and the whole society, and such changes should not be made without thorough evaluation of their impact,” Niikko said before the 2014 vote narrowly passed.

The Finnish Parliament originally passed a citizens’ initiative relating to same-sex marriage in 2014, voting 105-92 in favor of the law. At least three bills failed prior to the successful passing of the bill in 2014. 

Alexander Stubb, a former member of the European Parliament, said in an open letter before the 2014 vote: 
“Finland should strive to become a society where discrimination does not exist, human rights are respected and two adults can marry regardless of their sexual orientation.” 

But although the legislation serves as a triumph for marriage equality advocates, there’s a caveat. The Finnish Lutheran church is still divided on the issue, and some old rules concerning marriage between men and women still apply, meaning same-sex couples who wish to be married in a church are left waiting in the wings, according to Business Insider Nordic: News. However, some priests defy the clergy’s opposition, and websites, such as Sateenkaaripapit, or “The Rainbow Priests,” offer a rolodex of priests willing to officiate same-sex weddings. 

Other Nordic countries have already passed same-sex marriage laws, such as Sweden and Norway in 2009. And in European nations, same-sex marriage legislation continues to circulate. In 2015, Ireland voted in favor of same-sex marriage, BBCreported. Slovenia also legalized same-sex marriage Feb. 25, but still bars couples from adopting children, according to Attitude, a UK-based magazine focused on the LGBTQ community. 

According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, same-sex marriage is legal in the following nations: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland (a Danish dependent territory), Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay and United States.
According to a local register’s office, some 41 couples across the country are scheduled to marry this week, as was reported by Finland’s local news outlet, YLE News.

February 25, 2017

Same Sex Marriage Reaches Slovenia but Not Adoptions

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia permitted same-sex marriages for the first time from Friday (Feb 24) under a law giving gay couples largely the same rights as heterosexuals though barring them from jointly adopting children.

The head of the unit in charge of weddings in Slovenia's second largest city Maribor, Ksenija Klampfer, told Reuters the first lesbian wedding would take place there on Saturday.

"We are very happy and proud that we will perform the first same-sex wedding. We believe that such marriages are an important step towards formation of an inclusive society where people have equal rights," Klampfer said.

A number of other European Union states have legally recognised same-sex marriages, including Britain, France and Spain, but the issue remains contentious in many other EU countries.

The law was passed 10 months ago after a December 2015 referendum rejected a draft which would also have given gay couples the right to adopt children.

"This is a big step forward," Lana Gobec, spokeswoman for the Legebitra LGBT rights campaigning group, said. "But we will continue to strive for complete equality of heterosexual and same-sex couples."

Officials in Ljubjana said no same-sex couple had registered to marry in the capital so far.

Gay activists say more remains to be done in Slovenia. Apart from being denied the right to adopt children, they are also excluded from artificial insemination.

"We are still far from our goal... If you truly recognise human rights you recognise them in full. The new law solves some problems but does not solve the basic problem that all people in our country should have the same rights," gay partners Jure Poglajen and David Zorko said in a statement.

Homosexual couples in Slovenia, a European Union member with a 2 million population, have been able to register their relationship since 2006 and are also allowed to adopt children from a partner’s previous relationship - though not the children of others.

February 23, 2017

New Study Finds Gay Youth Suicide Rates Dropped After Gay Marriage Law

Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are four times more likely to attempt suicide in the United States than heterosexual kids. But there's hope. A new study from the pediatric journal JAMA found there is a correlation between states where same-sex marriage was legalized before the Supreme Court decision that made it legal federally and lower rates of LGBT suicide attempts. Results showed a fall in suicide attempts unilaterally for youth ages 15 to 24, but LGBT teens' suicide attempts declined the most.

The investigation compared the 32 states where same-sex marriage was legal to 15 where it was not and found that from 1999 to 2015, the number of high school students' suicide attempts decreased in states where it was legal. According to the report, which describes LGBT youth as sexual minorities, suicide attempts fell by 14 percent for these most at-risk teens. Better still, the suicide attempts for people ages 15 to 24 fell by seven percent in states with legalized marriage.

While the investigation does not explore why there is a correlation or a causation for the decline, it does suggest that a waning social stigma might contribute to the drop. "Legalization of same-sex marriage is also often accompanied by media attention and increased visibility of sexual minorities which is associated with increased social support for the rights of sexual minorities," the study says. "This increased social support could translate into improved familial and peer acceptance of sexual minorities, which has been shown to be associated with improved mental health."
The investigation was limited by means of measurement, as well. Researchers relied on self-reported suicide attempts and did not control for race or socioeconomic class. Without further study, too, the evidence remains inference. More investigations are necessary to determine why and how such a correlation exists.

Despite its constraints, the study's results are particularly important given the uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration's sentiment toward the LGBTQ community. Vice President Mike Pence certainly has a history of restricting LGBTQ rights when he was governor of Indiana. The good news is that this study provides evidence that there is a major benefit to lifting restrictions on LGBTQ rights.

January 3, 2017

The Cherokee Nation decided to recognize Same Sex Marriage

THE CHEROKEE NATION, one of the largest registered Native American tribes in the United States, has officially decided to recognize same-sex marriage. The tribe, as a separate sovereign, isn’t bound by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 gay-marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges. But its judgment relies in part on evidence of historical recognition of same-sex relationships among Cherokees — a basis for contemporary gay rights that is different from, and in some ways deeper than, the equality and dignity rationales that the Supreme Court used.

The history of how tribes have been treated in their interaction with the U.S. legal system is complex and often inconsistent — usually to the detriment of the tribes. But the basic principle of “Indian law” is that tribes are considered sovereign nations: dependent on the United States and subject to congressional control in some respects, but entitled to exercise self-government.

Thus, tribes need not govern themselves democratically — nor are they necessarily bound by the U.S. Constitution. Instead, basic rights in Indian country come from either the tribes’ own fundamental constitutional principles or the Indian Civil Rights Act, enacted by Congress in 1968.

The act includes guarantees of equal protection and due process of law, the same principles that are found in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that were the basis for the Obergefell decision. But when the Supreme Court updates its interpretation of the Constitution, as it did in the gay marriage case, that doesn’t automatically change the meaning of Indian Civil Rights Act. So the act hasn’t been held to mandate gay marriage in Indian country.

As a result, when Todd Hembree, the attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, issued his binding gay marriage opinion last month, the Indian Civil Rights Act went unmentioned. The decision was based on the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, which he described as “the supreme written will of the Cherokee people regarding the framework of their government.” Hembree mentioned Obergefell only to cite it in a footnote.

What’s perhaps most remarkable about the attorney general’s opinion is how it grounded its argument in Cherokee tradition. In a section titled “Perpetual Partnership and Marriage in the Cherokee Nation,” Hembree devoted significant attention to a ceremony of devotion that was traditionally performed between two men at an annual festival.

Hembree quoted in its entirety an eyewitness description from 1836 by John Howard Payne, a picaresque writer, composer and traveler. In Payne’s account, the ritual “sprang from a passionate friendship between young men” that led them “mutually to a solemn act of devotedness to each other.” The young men would engage in “silent interchange of garment after garment, until each was clad in the other’s dress.”

According to Hembree, “the relationship described in some respects would seem to parallel a modern-day same-sex marriage” — and received “recognition by the other members of the tribe.”

The attorney general’s opinion also referred to a 19th century report on Cherokee customs that stated, “There were among them formerly men who assumed the dress and performed all the duties of women and who live full lives in this manner.” This resonates with contemporaneous reports from many tribes, especially in the Great Plains, of men who lived as women.

In the long run, arguments from authenticity and tradition may be even more powerful ways to establish acceptance of gay marriage than reliance on the abstract principles of equality and dignity. That is true not only among Indian tribes, which take a broad range of positions on gay marriage, but also among a wide range of Americans.

After all, opposition to gay marriage derives for the most part from religious tradition, which can effectively resist liberal arguments for modernization. Now that gay marriage is a legal right, the next challenge is to convince opponents that the best reading of their own traditions favors equal treatment of gay couples. The Cherokee nation’s attorney general is leading the way.

Noah Feldman, law columnist for Bloomberg View

October 8, 2016

Top Evangelical College Will Fire People= Beliefs SSMarriage=Religious Freedom


One of the largest evangelical organizations on college campuses nationwide has told its 1,300 staff members they will be fired if they personally support gay marriage or otherwise disagree with its newly detailed positions on sexuality starting on Nov. 11.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA says it will start a process for “involuntary terminations” for any staffer who comes forward to disagree with its positions on human sexuality, which hold that any sexual activity outside of a husband and wife is immoral.

Staffers are not being required to sign a document agreeing with the group’s position, and supervisors are not proactively asking employees to verbally affirm it. Instead, staffers are being asked to come forward voluntarily if they disagree with the theological position. When they inform their supervisor of their disagreement, a two-week period is triggered, concluding in their last day. InterVarsity has offered to cover outplacement service costs for one month after employment ends to help dismissed staff with their résumés and job-search strategies.

“We internally categorize these as involuntary terminations due to misalignment with InterVarsity ministry principles, which is a category we use for people who leave for theological and philosophy of ministry disagreements,” Greg Jao, an InterVarsity vice president and director of campus engagement, told TIME in an email. “Our goal is not to go, ‘Oh we want you to do the dirty work of firing yourself.’ I think our thing is, if you are in disagreement, then we are going to ask you, with integrity, to identify that and leave,” he added in an interview.

InterVarsity has also said that staffers should only share views publicly that are consistent with its positions, though it’s unclear if that means someone could be fired for posting on Facebook, for example. Outlined in an internal 20-page paper, the positions include injunctions against divorce and sex before marriage, though critics say the biggest effect will be among younger staffers who support gay marriage — in essence, making it something of a theological purge.

Bianca Louie, 26, led the InterVarsity campus fellowship at Mills College, a women’s liberal-arts school in Oakland and her alma mater. When it became clear several months ago that the policy would go into effect, Louie realized she had to leave, after four years of working with the group. She is not sure what will happen to the outreach she and others worked to create at Mills. “I don’t know how InterVarsity can do ministry on campus with integrity anymore,” she says. “Mills is a women’s college with inclusive trans policies, and higher ed is overall making more efforts to be inclusive and safe for LGBTQ students … I could see us getting kicked off campus because of this.”

Louie and about 10 other InterVarsity staff formed an anonymous queer collective earlier this year to organize on behalf of staff, students and alumni who felt unsafe under the new policy. They compiled dozens of stories of individuals in InterVarsity programs and presented them to national leadership. “I think one of the hardest parts has been feeling really dismissed by InterVarsity,” she says. “The queer collective went through a very biblical, very spiritual process, with the Holy Spirit, to get to where we are. I think a lot of people think those who are affirming [same-sex marriage] reject the Bible, but we have landed where we have because of Scripture, which is what InterVarsity taught us to do.”

InterVarsity has more than 1,000 chapters on 667 college campuses around the country. More than 41,000 students and faculty were actively involved in the organization in the last school year, and donations topped $80 million last fiscal year. The group is focused on undergraduate outreach, but it also has specific programs for athletes, international students, nurses, sororities, fraternities and others. InterVarsity also hosts the Urbana conference, one of the largest student missionary conferences in the world.

Interim InterVarsity president Jim Lundgren and president-elect Tom Lin sent a letter to all staff in July to inform them of the employment policy. The decision is the outcome of a four-year internal review on what the Bible teaches about human sexuality. InterVarsity issued its conclusions in a 20-page internal position paper on human sexuality in March 2015, and then gave staff 18 months to study it and participate in a nine-part study exploring its conclusions.

In its description of sexual attraction, identity, and behavior, the paper states, “Scripture is very clear that God’s intention for sexual expression is to be between a husband and wife in marriage. Every other sexual practice is outside of God’s plan and therefore is a distortion of God’s loving design for humanity.”

The position paper also outlined theological positions against divorce, sex before marriage, pornography, cohabitation and sexual abuse, but the practical application of the study focused on implications for the LGBTQ community. The July letter states, “We expect that all staff will ‘believe and behave in a manner consonant with our “Theological Summary of Human Sexuality” paper,’ as described by the Code of Conduct. (To ‘believe and behave’ means we [1] agree with the substance and conclusions of the ‘Theological Summary of Human Sexuality,’ [2] will not engage in sexual immorality as defined in the paper, and [3] will not promote positions inconsistent with the ‘Theological Summary of Human Sexuality.’)”

Jao, the director of campus engagement, says the organization’s views are not new, but the new position paper was intended to clarify InterVarsity’s understanding of Scripture, especially in response to requests from students. “Because nothing has changed, I’m hoping universities continue to welcome InterVarsity in the way they have in the past, in the way they welcome Catholic campus ministries whose official teachings are the same and whose priests are required to be celibate,” he says.

LGBTQ individuals can remain on staff if they remain celibate and affirm the position paper. LGBTQ students, Jao says, remain welcome in the campus groups. The July letter also stated that InterVarsity is “developing training for staff so that we become a place which recognizes the dignity and personhood of LGBTQI staff and students.” Even still, Jao acknowledges some campus groups may be unhappy with the decision. “I think it is unfortunate in terms of the kind of environment we want to create on campus where there is diversity of thought and pluralistic engagement with one another, and I recognize the cost of teaching what we teach,” he says.

InterVarsity’s decision reaches beyond just its campus ministry. InterVarsity Press, a division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, is a prominent evangelical publisher that has published best sellers like J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, John Stott’s Basic Christianity, and many theological commentaries and biblical reference books used at evangelical colleges. “InterVarsity employment policies are for all employees, including employees of InterVarsity Press,” Jeff Crosby, publisher of InterVarsity Press, told TIME in a statement. “Authors are not employees.”

The exact impact for authors that InterVarsity publishes is not clear. “Authors do not have to sign anything indicating support for IVP’s theological summary on human sexuality or doctrinal basis, but the books we publish do reflect — and always have reflected — our theological convictions as an extension of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA,” Crosby says, even though no one affected is required to sign an affirmation. “The theological summary on human sexuality has no new impact on what InterVarsity Press publishes.”

Evangelicals are increasingly divided over gay marriage, and support is rising, especially in the younger generations. One in four white evangelicals supports gay marriage, according to the Pew Research Center, more than double the support from 10 years ago, and nearly half of millennial evangelicals favor or strongly favor gay marriage. That is still the lowest support of major religious groups in the U.S. — nearly 60% of Catholics, by contrast, support same-sex marriage. InterVarsity defines itself as an interdenominational organization and has not ascribed to one denomination’s theological commitments. The new decision moves the organization toward a more specific type of evangelical biblical interpretation that does not affirm gay marriage.

The move is also another sign of a trend in evangelical circles for stricter orthodoxy. Earlier this year, Wheaton College parted ways with its only tenured black female professor, Larycia Hawkins, after she wore a hijab and wrote a Facebook post expressing solidarity with the Muslim community, saying, “As Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.” In 2014, the U.S. branch of World Vision, an evangelical humanitarian organization, announced it would permit the hiring of married gay individuals, but the board reversed its decision after it lost more than 10,000 child sponsorships in 48 hours.

For Ginny Prince, 32, the consequences of the new policy are very difficult to discuss. Until last week, she was an assistant area director near Oakland and had worked for InterVarsity for seven years. She is an LGBTQ ally — and she has a transgender child. Already, she says, her husband has walked away from the faith largely because of how the church has dealt with the LGBTQ community. She knew she had to tell her supervisor she did not support the new policy. “This was very painful for everybody,” Prince says. “I got fired … I sent an email and said, I cannot align, and I think that this policy is discriminatory, and I cannot align. That was it. We cried, we cried really hard my last day.”

Prince does not know what she will do next. But she knows two things. One: “I want the church to be a safe place for my child to grow up,” she says. And two, she will miss InterVarsity. “They have a unique understanding of and willingness to engage in hard issues like racial justice and women in ministry and things of that nature,” she explains. “I thought that they would be more able to contain difference in this area as well, difference of opinion. I think what they do is very important, and I am very sad to go.”

August 18, 2016

Wyoming Judge Begs to Remain on Bench Despite Refusal to Perform SmeSex Marriages

Ruth Neely Anti Gay Marriage Judge

A Wyoming judge urged the state's Supreme Court Wednesday to let her remain on the bench despite her publicly stated refusal to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, citing religious objections.

The state's judicial ethics commission recommended that Ruth Neely be relieved of her position as a magistrate in the small northwestern Wyoming town of Pinedale, after she told the local newspaper that she would "not be able to do" marriage ceremonies for gay couples.
"When law and religion conflict, choices have to be made," she told the Pinedale Roundup.

In a letter to the state's judicial ethics advisory committee, she wrote, "Homosexuality is a named sin in the Bible, as are drunkenness, thievery, lying, and the like. I can no more officiate at a same-sex wedding than I can buy beer for the alcoholic.” 

Her lawyer told the court that she's being unconstitutionally punished for her religious views.

But the state judicial conduct board found that she violated ethics rules requiring judges to follow the law, avoid the appearance of impropriety, and perform duties fairly, without bias or prejudice.

"Judges do not enjoy the same freedom to proselytize their religious beliefs as ordinary citizens," the commission said, finding that her public statements amount to a conclusion that "adherence to the law is optional."

Because she violated ethics rules, the commission said, she should not be allowed to remain in her other job as a municipal court judge in Pinedale.
Urging the justices to allow Neely to remain on the bench, her lawyer said the commission "has adopted an extreme position. It claims that because Judge Neely's religious beliefs prevent her from solemnizing same-sex marriage, she cannot be a judge in Wyoming, even in a position that does not have authority to perform marriages."

She would tell any same-sex couple where they could find a magistrate to handle their wedding and would treat all gay and lesbian people in her courtroom fairly, her lawyer said.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, most local officials, including judges, have complied. While some county clerks refused to issue marriage licenses on religious grounds — most visibly, Kim Davis in Kentucky — clerks and judges have generally treated gay and lesbian couples no differently.

Only North Carolina and Utah have laws in effect that permit local officials to opt out, on religious grounds, of involvement with same-sex weddings. Judicial ethics commissions in Oregon and Washington have voted to sanction judges for refusing to officiate at same-sex marriages. In Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, state commissions have issued advisory opinions saying a judge would violate ethics rules for such a position.

The Wyoming Supreme Court said it would issue a written ruling later on Ruth Neely's appeal. For now, her authority to act as a local magistrate has been suspended, though she is still serving as the Pinedale town judge. 


July 26, 2016

Kansas Judge Will Monitor Compliance with Gay marriage Law for 3 Yrs.


A federal judge told Kansas on Friday that for three more years he will monitor its compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court‘s historic decision legalizing gay marriage across the nation.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued a permanent injunction barring the state from treating same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples in allowing them to marry or extending “other rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage” to them.
“It’s a shame that the court had to spell this out,” said Joshua Block, a senior attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, a lawyer involved in the lawsuit that led to the order.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Rapp said Attorney General Derek Schmidt advises agencies to fully comply with the U.S. Supreme Court decision and would do so without Crabtree’s order.
“It is disappointing the federal court thinks Kansas judicial and executive branch personnel require ongoing federal supervision,” she said in an email.
Crabtree ruled in a lawsuit filed in 2014 by five gay and lesbian couples against officials in the state’s health and revenue departments, as well as two local court clerks. The health department maintains marriage and birth records, while the Department of Revenue handles tax filings and issues driver’s licenses.
Kansas law already barred gay marriage when the state’s voters in 2005 approved an amendment to the state constitution to reinforce the ban. The amendment declared that only heterosexual couples were entitled to “the rights or incidents of marriage.”
The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on gay marriage last year, and two months later Crabtree declared the state’s ban unconstitutional. But he held off on issuing a permanent order to see how fully the state complied.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and many members of the GOP-dominated Legislature strongly supported the ban and have been vocal critics of the Supreme Court’s order. The Kansas Republican Party’s platform declares that “traditional marriage is the foundation of society.”
Crabtree wrote in his 33-page order that while the state took steps to follow the Supreme Court ruling, it did not comply fully and its conduct “raises doubts about the reliability” of its efforts. His decision to continue monitoring Kansas’ actions means aggrieved couples will not have to file new lawsuits — resolving their complaints far more quickly.
The judge specifically cited the state’s handling of birth certificates for children conceived through artificial insemination for same-sex couples. Crabtree said one couple initially faced additional steps not required of opposite-sex couples to get both names listed as parents and that later officials gave conflicting information about a change in the department’s practices.
Block said similar issues have arisen in FloridaIndianaNebraska and Utah. But he and Mark Johnson, a Kansas City, Kansas, attorney also representing the couples, said Crabtree’s injunction covers all of state government and is clear in declaring that same-sex couples have to be treated the same as opposite-sex couples.
“The judge left no wiggle room,” Johnson said

July 16, 2016

Judge Refuses to Vacate Contempt Ruling on Co.Clerk Kim Davis



 A U.S. federal appeals court on Wednesday declined to vacate a contempt ruling that sent a Kentucky county clerk to jail last September after she refused to issue marriage licenses for gay couples.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals did lift an August 2015 injunction against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis because the law is being changed and the court order that she issue marriage licenses despite her religious objections to same-sex marriage will no longer be relevant.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court said in a brief ruling that a district court judge’s September contempt finding against Davis, issued when she defied the August injunction, did not meet the legal requirements to be vacated.

Davis’ attorneys had argued the contempt decree should not have been issued.

Davis stayed in jail for five days last September after refusing to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Davis claimed same-sex marriage went against her Apostolic Christian beliefs.

Earlier this year, legislators in Kentucky passed a law removing clerks’ names from the license form. The law is due to go into effect on Friday.

For that reason, the appeals court instructed the district court to remove the injunction against Davis. She had argued that her name on the document equaled her approval.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which helped represent four gay couples who sued Davis last year, said in a statement that while the law has changed in the state it was important to keep the contempt ruling against Davis.

“We’re pleased that the appeals court kept that decision on the books,” ACLU staff attorney Ria Tabacco Mar said in the statement. “It will serve as a reminder to other government officials that placing their personal views ahead of the Constitution and the rule of law is not acceptable.”

Davis’ attorney Mat Staver issued a statement in which he called the ruling a “final victory” for his client.

“The injunctions are gone and Kim Davis received the accommodation that she requested,” said Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “County clerks are no longer forced to compromise their religious liberty and conscience rights.”

June 25, 2016

When Gay Marriage Came to New York 5yrs Ago

 Gov.Cuomo proudly signs NYS Gay Marriage into Law

 Five years ago, Michael Sabatino spent day after day in the dark and humid halls of the state Capitol pressing for the state legislature to legalize same-sex marriage.

On one side of the hall outside the Senate chambers were gay-rights supporters. On other side, religious groups urged senators to vote no.

When the bill was approved June 24, 2011, Sabatino and other gay-right activists in the Senate chamber broke into cheers and tears, with chants of “USA, USA” spontaneously breaking out in the chamber.

“The feeling of having fought for that at that point for 11 or 12 years, it was just an exhilarating feeling,” said Sabatino, now a Yonkers city councilman, who led a lawsuit seeking gay-marriage rights in New York.

Five years after New York became the largest state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage, the Senate vote that late Friday night still resonates across the state with gay couples who have gotten married.

The vote carries extra meaning, too: A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across the nation, and just two weeks ago, an Orlando shooter killed 49 people at a gay club.

“It’s a reminder that there’s still work to do — that our community still needs to remain vigilant,” said Scott Fearing, executive director of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley.

“We need to keep safety issues in our mind, because the work isn’t all done.”

June is also Gay Pride Month, and the PrideFest parade is Sunday in Manhattan.

Outside New York City, at least 10,000 same-sex couples were married between 2012 and 2014, records from the state Health Department showed, representing nearly 6 percent of the total marriages in the state over those three years.

The number of gay marriages spiked at 4,031 in 2013 and dropped to 3,193 in 2014. There were 2,796 in 2012, the records showed.

New York marriage licenses do not require people to write down their sex, so the same-sex marriage figures aren’t exact.

Fight in Albany

New York was the sixth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage, and many others soon followed.

But getting New York there was a fight, and it remains one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature moments of his six-year tenure as governor so far. The bill initially failed in 2009 in the Senate.

The Democratic governor was able to persuade four Republican senators to vote in favor of the bill, giving it the 33 votes to pass the 62-seat chamber controlled by the GOP. The Democratic-led Assembly had easily passed the measure for several years.

There was political fallout: All four of the Republicans subsequently lost their seats over the next few years.

Sen. James Alesi, R-Perinton, Monroe County, decided not to seek re-election in 2012, and Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, lost in a three-way race that November.

Sens. Roy McDonald, of Saratoga, and Mark Grisanti, of Buffalo, also would later lose re-election bids.

Rarely in Albany has a vote carried such suspense: Typically, bills are brought to the floor of the Assembly and Senate predetermined to pass.

With the same-sex marriage vote, it wasn’t clear the bill would pass to just moments before Saland spoke on the Senate floor and expressed his support.

“It was a real statesmen thing for many of the legislators who stepped up to the plate and said, ‘What’s right is right, and we need to act on it,’” said Frederic Mayo, who heads the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, based in Kingston.

Saland reiterated Tuesday he’s proud of his vote.

“It was an extraordinary moment — unlike any I had witnessed in my 30-plus years in the legislature,” he recalled.

After losing re-election, he essentially retired from politics, except for some part-time consulting work. He was named Friday to the state Thruway Authority board.

“I look back at that point and place in time with enormous pride,” Saland said. “And if I had to do it all over again, even well-knowing the consequences, I would have done the exact same thing.”

Some businesses have sought to attract gay couples and weddings to their venues. The Rochester visitor’s association has ads that try to reach gay couples and families, for example.

“We really see ourselves as the place for LGBT families to visit,” said Rachel Laber, spokeswoman for Visit Rochester.

Couples recall marriage

Wanda Martinez-Johncox, 37, recalled growing up in Puerto Rico and wondering if she’s ever be able to get married.

But after moving to Rochester as an adult and meeting her spouse a year ago, she was able to fulfill her dream.

“When it was passed, it was very exciting because I never thought I would get married. It was a step forward,” she said.

Other gay couples offered similar sentiments.

Lance Ringel, 64, of Poughkeepsie, had been with his husband for 25 years when same-sex marriage in New York passed.

They got married in New York two months after the law was on the books.

“When you’ve been together that long in some ways, it felt to us that it was going to be an afterthought,” Ringel said. “But it was really a positive experience — both for us and seemingly everyone who came. They still talk about it.”

Richard Skipper, 55, and his husband, Daniel Sherman, 62, of Sparkill, Rockland County, were one of the first 100 people to get married at Manhattan City Clerk’s office on the first day same-sex marriage was recognized in New York.

Skipper said he and his husband, who have been together for 26 years, saw the New York bill as an opportunity to finally receive equal spousal benefits, among other things.

The law gave equal rights to gay couples, affording them the same rights as straight couples, such as when it comes to health insurance, hospital visiting rights and income taxes.

“It sheds a light and an awareness of the fact that, for the most part, we are just like any other married couple,” Skipper said. “We deal with the same issues ...We have the same ups and downs that any other couple has had.”

Gay-rights groups in New York said they are still fighting for some rights in New York, such as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act that hasn’t passed the Republican-led Senate.

Opponents of gay marriages, particularly conservative groups, continue to lobby at the Capitol to block additional measures.

As a result, Cuomo last fall put into statewide regulations a measure that prohibits harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity, transgender status or gender dysphoria.

“New York has always been a beacon for the country on LGBT rights,” Cuomo said in a statement at the time. “We started the movement at Stonewall, we led the way with marriage equality, and now we are continuing to show the nation the path forward.”

Also, the massacre in Orlando offered a stark reminder that equal rights is an ongoing battle, said Scott Havelka, director of programs at the The LOFT: LGBT Community Services Center in White Plains.

“In times of tragedy the LGBT community has always come together to show its resilience,” he said in a statement. “We see this resilience now as we gather for local vigils, raise funds for the survivors, and renew our commitments to visibly demonstrate the many facets of our community pride. Orlando will make us stronger as a community.”

Joseph Spector, | @gannettalbany

June 24, 2016

1Yr After Gay Marriage Decision } Have Minds Change?

 Such a long fought victory that at the end came what it seemed lightning speed

A year has passed since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage with its close 5-4 ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges. Have attitudes toward gay marriage changed since then? Where does opinion on the issue currently stand?

Depending on the survey, support appears steady or inching up. In the latest Gallup survey from May, 61% answered that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid with the same rights as traditional marriages, up 1 point since the spring of 2015. Opposition remains unchanged at 37%. In a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 62% favored allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally while 36% were opposed. The responses from July 2015 were 52% and 40%, respectively. In the Pew Research Center’s March 2016 survey, 56% favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally; the same percentage gave that response in May 2015. Opposition declined two points from 39% to 37%.

Although polling on this issue has emphasized growing acceptance of gay marriage, recent polls also reveal a sizable group that remains opposed. In surveys since the Court’s ruling, between 34% and 40% express this opinion. As noted above, in their most recent surveys Gallup registered opposition at 37%, PRRI at 36%, and Pew at 37%. In other questions asked after the Court’s ruling, a comparable percentage expressed opposition to other aspects of the issue. In July 2015, for example, ABC News/Washington Post pollsters asked people whether they supported or opposed the Court’s decision. Thirty-five percent opposed it strongly, and another 10% said they opposed it somewhat. In May this year, 37% told Gallup pollsters gay and lesbian relations were not morally acceptable. Sixty percent said they were.

Young people tend to lead change, and they have long been—and still are—gay marriage’s most supportive age group. In Gallup’s May 2016 poll, 83% of 18- to 29-year-olds said same-sex marriages should be valid. But the opinions of older generations have also shown considerable movement. In the same poll, for the first time in Gallup’s polling on gay marriage, a majority (53%) of seniors ages 65 and older said same-sex marriages should be valid, up 7 points from last year. Since Gallup first asked about the issue in 1996, the youngest age cohort has moved the most, 42 points, in support for legalization of same-sex marriage. But the oldest cohort has moved almost as much, 39 points. Young people led the way as Americans changed their minds about gay marriage, but older generations are catching up.

How, when, and why Americans change their minds about issues such as gay marriage is a subject of much discussion, and polls are uniquely able to provide clues. Among the many explanations for the shift in more positive attitudes toward gay marriage, one seems especially compelling. As surveys show, more people know someone—a family member, a coworker, or a friend—who is gay, and familiarity tends to lead to acceptance. In October 2015, for example, when NBC News/Wall Street Journal asked people if they personally know or work with someone who is gay or lesbian, nearly three out of four (72%) said they did. In addition, this month Gallup found that almost half (49%) of cohabiting same-sex couples are now married, up 11 points since before the Obergefell decision. Nowadays, not only are more people likely to know someone who is gay, but if they do, they are also increasingly likely to know someone who is in a same-sex marriage. Almost all of the national change in views about same-sex marriage appears to have taken place before the Supreme Court’s decision. In the year since the ruling, opinion seems stable, with a few polls showing a small uptick in support, as a core group of around 37% remains opposed. This group will probably get smaller over time as younger people with more accepting attitudes about gay marriage replace older people who, in comparison, are still more opposed, though becoming less so. Overall, changes in opinion on same-sex marriage appear to have paused, but they probably have not plateaued.

June 16, 2016

Pew Survey: In USA Muslims More Likely to Support Gay Marriage than Evangelicals


It may be mystifying to conservatives and libertarians that a good chunk of angry response from the left over the Orlando shooting is directed toward conservatives, not just about gun control but over the way they've historically treated gays and lesbians.

PollPew Research

It is most obviously true that even to the extent that Christian social conservatism has been hostile to acceptance of gays and lesbians, it has certainly not risen to the horrifying levels of Sunday's attack by Omar Matteen, which he dedicated to the Islamic State. Certainly there have been radical Christians within the United States calling for violence against homosexuals. But their calls to arms have been ignored and are not institutionalized by authorities (with prison terms and even executions) as they frequently are in Muslim-dominated countries.
There has nevertheless been plenty of generalizations about the attitudes of Muslims toward homosexuality that has led some on the right to wonder why people are yelling at themover what happened on Saturday. I agree with conservatives that trying to deflect away from what actually happened to hobby-horse issues like gun control is an awful thing to do.

But a couple of Pew polls might help explain what's going on here. It is true that there is a tremendous amount of hostility to gays and lesbians in countries where Islam is a dominant religion. A Pew poll from 2013 had the vast majority of Muslims in 36 countries overseas declaring that homosexuality is immoral. When I say "vast majority," I mean numbers like 90 percent.
But a recent poll in 2015, also by Pew, shows that American Muslims are much less likely to share this attitude. By comparison, 45 percent of American Muslims approve of homosexuality, and 42 percent of Muslims support same-sex marriage recognition. In both cases, a greater number disapprove of acceptance than approve. But then, so do Evangelical Christians in numbers greater than American Muslims. Only 36 percent of Evangelical Christians approve of homosexuality and only 28 percent of Evangelical Christians support same-sex marriage recognition.
The good news is that support for acceptance of gays and lesbians in America has increased in all faiths between 2007 and 2014. And the point of this post is not necessarily to hold up social conservatives to criticism over an incident they had nothing to do with.
Rather, these numbers help demonstrate why exactly we cannot treat American Muslims as though they're inherently suspicious and prone to jump into extremism and jihads. American Muslims are not necessarily more conservative than many of our country's Christians. There are a whole host of different reasons for this (including the likelihood that Muslims immigrate to the United States in the first place to get away from extreme social conservatism within their own religion). Americans (including gay Americans) who interact regularly with Muslim citizens are probably less likely to see them as being profoundly different. Because they're not—in the United States.
Add to this mix information that Mateen apparently declared allegiance to different Islamist groups who are opposed to ISIS, like Hezbollah. In the end, Mateen may be a vicious garden-variety psychopath that we're treating exotically because he declared a connection to a terrorist group that hates the United States and has called for attacks against it. But in reality he may well be more reminiscent of serial killer Ted Bundy blaming his behavior on porn addiction.
The Islamic State is a violent, terrorist group (I realize that's the mother of all "to be sure" caveats), but it's important not to treat it like it's a virus that people of Muslim faith can just catch. American Muslims don't share the attitudes of the Islamic State, and so treating them with skepticism, generalizing about them, and also expecting some sort of collective responsibility that all Muslims must be held accountable for the policing those who share the faith, doesn't seem any more helpful than more gun control regulations. It's fear-based collectivist attitudes from the right and it reads like so many other historical fears about how various minorities will drag America down. Such generalizations feed a culture war (just like the gun control arguments) rather than examining the roots and potential solutions for the problem.

May 27, 2016

A Lady Killer but Gay?

Image result for steven gaines author

This story can be mine or so many other gay men. I decided to go with this lady killer because of the changes he has undergone thru the years. Some of us work to keep our bodies  in a state of harmony with nature and who we were and still are. Others possibly because they have done well or not too well have decided to put that in Al Gores’ lock box and by the time they opened it someone else came creeping out. Yes! Everyone is responsible for their choices and that is why I will go no further on this topic. That is a subplot in my introducing this true story(according to Steven Gaines). The real story here is how ladies, girls tend to go for gay guys sometimes marrying them even if they have questionable friends or questionable habits, like getting out of bed in the middle of the night to go for a walk because they can’t sleep. I think is more than looks that make a woman go for a gay guy and that is trust(?) or I should say better, chemistry and being able to talk from how which panties they should choose to how to handle a problem at  work to how crazy people are to back Trump. 
This is a boring story unless you get the meaning behind it and that is why I took the chance to publish it. I was amazed that someone who is actually a great writer would go into this self serving story until I saw his reasoning. A book is coming.
 My reasoning is different and is just to point out once again the qualities of many gay men. The best listeners and the best husbands be in gay or straight marriage are those that spend a little time in the closet. When they come out of the straight marriage because their secret is out they bring a sense of loyalty to the next relationship and an ability to be more patient than others being that they have been on both sides of the coin. 
The jury is still out how this new generation of young male brides is going to be. Are they getting married because is now available and the mystic behind it, for some I am sure. But how is the core of these new marriages. I have a feeling that regardless how faithful or not those marriages are they will stay married longer that the straight counter part precisely for that reason. It was something denied so now available to have and hold it has more substantive value.
Hope you leave me some input so I know if this was relevant to you or not. By the way the picture of the guy up there is not Steven (no such luck for Steven)
Steven Gaines published the below story on NY Magazine  ln their new segment Beta Male and me? Im your Publisher (and yes Im in shape which means weight commensurate with height and age. A good nutritionist will tell you that being weight down by muscles does not decrease your chances of a coronary  or heart attack but actually is increased if human hormones are taken) 
When I was 15 years old, I set out on a quest to cure my homosexuality with a Freudian analyst, who promised I could be heterosexual. He said that not only would I begin to desire women, but I would eventually no longer be attracted to men. This sounded like a pretty good deal to me back in 1962, when my kind were referred to as homos and fairies, and there was nobody around to say it gets better. Given a choice of homo or “normal,” I chose normal.
The psychiatrist wasn’t an ogre; he was a good person who saw that I was suffering with my fate and offered me hope. He convinced me that Socratic analysis could cure my homosexuality if I wanted it enough, therapy’s shameless equivocation. I went to this well-meaning psychiatrist for over 13 years, sometimes four days a week, lying on a sofa facing a print of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, free associating and interpreting dreams, in search of the roots of my sexual aberration.
The key element of my therapy was to regularly have sex with women. It was like any other doctor’s prescriptive: Take one at bedtime. Except that after the first six years of analysis, I was still a virgin at age 21, with either men or women. I had never seen a vagina up close in person. My only exposure to the recesses of the female body was from the dirty pictures my father kept in the back of his top drawer wrapped in a brown paper bag. And from those blurry photos, taken in the 1940s and ’50s, the big bushy vaginas didn’t look too alluring.
It was only when my analyst threatened that analysis could go no further until I slept with a woman that I enlisted the help of a slightly older, pretty fashion illustrator, who was flattered to be asked to introduce me to the mysteries of a woman’s body. When I shared the impending loss of my virginity with a wealthy friend, he offered to pay for two adjoining hotel rooms in Philadelphia. For some reason he believed that my being away from New York would make the situation more relaxed, and if it turned out I couldn’t have sex with my fashion-illustrator friend, it would be less embarrassing if I had my own room to which to retreat — I suppose to weep with humiliation at my failure.
But that’s not what happened. If consummation was my goal, then my lovemaking was a success, but of course in reality it was not lovemaking. It was more like “show and tell.” It mortified me to have my own body noticed and touched, although I responded like any 21-year-old to oral sex. The fearsome vagina up close neither thrilled nor repelled. It was okay, but I was disconcerted by the new tastes and fragrances, and the occasional suction sound the vagina made during intercourse. I had never considered before that someone might pass gas during sex, and I was so uptight that I wasn’t amused when it happened to her and me. Cunnilingus, at which it turned out I excelled, was nevertheless a dark and smothering experience.
Nevertheless, losing my virginity was a big step forward in my cure, and encouraged by my analyst that I would learn to love the vagina, I began a succession of affairs with women over the next five or six years while abstaining from sex with men. Since I approached the whole sexual thing as more of a tourist than a native, I became a connoisseur of the female body the way a Jew appreciates the Vatican. It was a matter of responsibility to be a tender, satisfying partner, so I performed all of the obligatory sexual acts in appropriate order. (Petit déjeunerdéjeuner, and diner.)
In pursuit of love through sex, as the writer J.R. Ackerley put it, I would bed a woman for three or four months and then wander off when things began to get serious. Many of the women I dated were in search of a lifetime companion and progenitor, and I felt like a cad. It was a depressing and guilty time for me. I was pretending to be earnest in my affections when it was really a science project. I was leading these women on because I knew in my heart I was a dead end, and when I moved on it was heartache, sometimes for them and always for me.
It wasn’t hard for me to get laid once I started to try. I liked women, and they liked me. I was an early version of a 1970s metrosexual, good haircut, nice clothes, knew all the cool restaurants — and I wrote a pop-culture column for a major metropolitan newspaper. But more important, when straight guys hit on women there’s some underlying hunter-and-prey chemistry, and my sub rosa indifference was a turn-on. One night, at a trendy Columbus Avenue restaurant, I met a spectacular young woman through mutual friends. Let’s call her “Smithy” and disguise other identifying details, except that she had black hair and hazel eyes and the tiniest space between her front teeth that I found a charming flaw. I thought she was one of the most beautiful women I had seen since Julie Christie in Darling. She was the daughter of a stockbroker, went to Brown, and was finishing up her second year at Columbia Law School, after which she wanted to be a public defender. She was clever, too. After one drink she asked me if I was gay. “I’m not gay,” I said. “Why, do I act like I’m gay?” She gave me a suspicious look, so I took her back to my ramshackle townhouse on West 11th Street to prove my manhood. I was prepared to roll out my well-rehearsed sexual repertoire; instead I went off autopilot. It was intense and dirty.
Smithy raised the stakes on my quest. With Smithy sex was different, uninhibited — at a time when we weren’t yet inundated by millions of examples of sexual peccadillos on the internet. The next time I saw her she gave me a set of new sheets. “If this is going to continue we can’t have sex on Dudley Do-Right sheets,” she said. She gave me a nickname, too, the first time I had a petit nom d’amour: “Cowhead.” I was smitten. Love, sex, and status in the same package. Maybe therapy was working. With encouragement from my therapist, I made myself believe she was myfuture.
After a few months of dating I was invited to meet her family at their weekend home in Rye. On the way up on the train with Smithy, I fantasized about how I would become a part of the family, how I would charm them into approving of me, and how I would marry their smart daughter who was a lawyer and live happily ever after, financially cushioned by my rich in-laws. I woke up from my reverie when I saw Smithy’s older brother waiting for us at the train station. He was God’s cruel prank, sent to remind me of what was really possible in my life and what was not. Her brother wasSmithy, the same dark hair and hazel eyes, but as an athletic Irish god. I knew the whole day would be hell. I was so deranged by my attraction to him that I couldn’t raise my head for fear of gazing at him too long. To make things exquisitely worse, Smithy’s demon younger brother, a pimply 16-year-old who was onto my game, shot me sideways glances whenever his older brother entered the room. I was uncharacteristically quiet all day, and eventually Smithy took me aside and whispered, “What’s the matter?” I pretended I didn’t know what she was talking about, but I think she knew what the matter was. On some level everybody in the house knew I wasn’t exactly who I said I was.
I never felt as much of a fraud as I did at dinner with the family that night, being sized up by her father, “Call-me-Pete,” who had primate hair on his knuckles and played squash at the New York Athletic Club, because “tennis is for girls,” he said, sipping Macallans neat. I drank too much red wine at dinner, and the low point of the visit came when I choked on a piece of steak and needed the Heimlich maneuver, applied by the handsome brother, who wrapped his arms around me and popped the steak out of my mouth like he was burping a kewpie doll.
Smithy didn’t say much on the way back to New York. I dropped her off in a taxi at her apartment building. We talked on the phone a few times, but her heart wasn’t in it. I thought of telling her I was gay, but she knew, no matter what happened in bed. I saw her on TV 25 years later, a talking head on a cable TV news show. She was a public defender in San Francisco, still just as beautiful, but the space between her front teeth that I liked so much was gone.
After Smithy there were other women I thought I loved, but not completely. And although I enjoyed the intimacy of sex with women, I was driven by nature and design to love a man more. Diligently pleasing a partner is not the same as making love. And making love is not the same as lust. Even psychiatry didn’t claim to know how to make people lust. And lust is the glue of love. Oh yes it is. At least at first.
Steve Gaines: Adapted from One of These Things First, a memoir, which will be published on August 8 by Delphinium Books. Preorder it here.

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