Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’
Plans to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales are to proceed unimpeded in Parliament after ministers reached agreement with Labour…MPs backed a Labour plan to consult on changing civil partnerships – a move criticised by some Tory MPs.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Culture Secretary Maria Miller thanked other parties for their “unwavering support” for the principles of the same-sex Marriage Bill and said a review of civil partnerships could take place “very swiftly”.
Labour said the review could potentially take place within the next few months – enabling its findings to be reflected in the final legislation…
MPs gave their support in principle to gay marriage in February but are now discussing proposed amendments on Monday and Tuesday amid calls from some Conservatives for the government to focus on other priorities.
The bill is being debated over two days, with its third reading – the final hurdle in the Commons – on Tuesday. If approved, it will go to the House of Lords on Wednesday, where it is expected to face further opposition.
David Cameron has said equal marriage would help build a stronger and fairer society but nearly half of all Tories voted against it in February and many party activists remain deeply opposed to it in principle…
It does’t seem to matter which Western nation moves forward on civil rights for all. There always are conservatives who apparently feel equal opportunities for all somehow diminishes their tiny little lives.
While failing in their attempts to amend the legislation in any form, Conservative MPs voiced their concerns in large numbers on a range of issues. Blah, blah, blah.
Stonewall, which campaigns for equality for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, said it would be a “terrible pity” if the legislation got “bogged down” and urged MPs from all parties not to “play politics” with it.
Under the bill, the Church of England and the Church in Wales would be banned from offering same-sex marriages because of their strongly stated opposition, unless they changed canon law.
Other religious organisations would be able to “opt in” to holding ceremonies. There are currently no plans for similar legislation in Northern Ireland, but there are already plans for a bill to allow same-sex marriage in Scotland.
The UK debate comes the week after France became the ninth European country, and 14th in the world, to legalise gay marriage. Earlier this month Rhode Island became the 10th US state to allow same-sex marriages.
I wonder if the United States will join the ranks of nations with full civil rights, say, below number 50?
A transgender woman in Hong Kong has won a groundbreaking court appeal allowing her to marry her boyfriend and forcing the government to rewrite the city’s marriage laws.
The woman in her 30s, known in the Court of Final Appeal as “W” under anonymity rules, successfully overturned earlier verdicts that said marriage is only allowed between couples who were of the opposite sex at birth.
W, who underwent sex realignment surgery more than five years ago, argued that her post-operative gender was recognised by the law and that previous rulings were a violation of her constitutional rights…
She also said that her reassignment surgery had been government-subsidised…
“It is contrary to principle to focus merely on biological features fixed at the time of birth,” the court said in a written judgement by the panel of five judges.
It added that existing laws “impair the very essence of W’s right to marry“.
One more place in the world we might send some of our out-of-date politicians to learn something of changing civil rights.
There is more than a simple wry note to be taken that some jurisdictions that our nation depicts as backwards and lacking all-American freedoms are changing faster than we are.
The Minnesota House of Representatives has voted to permit same-sex marriage, clearing the way to add Minnesota to a string of states that have recently made it legal for gay and lesbian couples to wed.
The House, which is controlled by Democrats, approved the measure by a vote of 75-59, dividing mostly along party lines. In recent months, as the debate over same-sex marriage emerged in St. Paul, a capital newly dominated by Democrats, the outcome in the House had been seen as most uncertain. State Senate leaders say that the outlook is more assured in that chamber and that they expect to approve same-sex marriage next week. Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, urged approval and said he would sign the bill, which would allow same-sex marriages…
…Minnesota would become the 12th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to permit marriages for gay and lesbian couples and the third to decide to do so, along with Delaware and Rhode Island, this month alone. Minnesota would also become the first state in the nation’s middle to make such a choice through legislative action. Elsewhere in the Midwest, Iowa allows same-sex marriage, but that was decided in the courts. In Illinois, which allows civil unions, State House members are considering a same-sex marriage bill already approved in the State Senate.
…Just a few months ago, in November, voters had cast ballots following a hard-fought campaign aimed at amending the State Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The amendment failed, and, with Democrats winning control of both legislative chambers in the same election, a renewed effort to allow same-sex marriage emerged…
“This is a historic day for Minnesota,” Representative Karen Clark, a Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, said as House members debated the issue before the vote and as advocates on both sides crowded into the Capitol, chanting and cheering. “Freedom means freedom for everyone,” she said…
In the weeks before the vote, supporters of same-sex marriage said they were hoping to win support from at least a few Republicans and from Democrats who represent more rural districts, where the issue was more contested, far from the Twin Cities. In the end, four Republicans voted for same-sex marriage, officials said, and two Democrats opposed it.
“Sometimes,” said Representative Raymond Dehn, a Democrat who supported the measure, “it gets down to doing the right thing.”
Predictably, the opposition lay most of their hopes on folks refusing that anything should ever change. But, that isn’t how civil rights have had to grow and become part of law in the United States. If it wasn’t so, we’d still be a slave-owning nation and women wouldn’t have the right to vote.
Not that many of those opposing this change – feel those changes were appropriate either.
U.S. restrictions on same-sex marriage are making it harder for Wall Street to attract some foreign workers, said executives including R. Martin Chavez, who leads equities trading for Goldman Sachs…
Chavez, a 49-year-old U.S. citizen, cited his own story as an example of the potential hurdles those restrictions create, saying they almost forced him to leave the country. He married his partner last year, which proved to be problematic when they tried to replace his partner’s student visa.
“We got married in the state of New York,” Chavez said at the event, which was held at Goldman Sachs’s Manhattan headquarters. “You’d think this would be a wonderful thing, except we ended up in this crazed paradox where because we were married in the state of New York, that created the presumption of his attempt to immigrate, which meant he would not be eligible for a student F-1 visa.”
Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing, the marriage doesn’t give Chavez’s partner the right to immigrate or obtain a green card permitting him to live and work in the country.
After several months of interviews and paperwork, Chavez’s husband received a new visa. In the meantime, Chavez said he spoke to Goldman Sachs executives about moving his role to London if his husband wasn’t allowed back into the U.S. He also considered retiring from his job running the largest equity- trading business in the world and moving abroad…
While the issue affects only a limited number of employees, it can result in significant costs for companies that have to move workers out of the U.S. or in lost productivity from dealing with an employee’s or partner’s immigration status, Alisa Seminara, associate general counsel for Citigroup said at the event…
The immigration issues will probably be remedied if the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, which defines marriage as a heterosexual union and prohibits gay spouses from claiming federal benefits, Rachel Tiven at Immigration Equality said. The court may rule on the case by the end of June. Activists are also pushing for inclusion of same-sex rights in an immigration bill being debated in Congress…
Overdue. But, then, that’s always been the lot of civil rights in America.
The most reactionary elements in our land seem to spend a significant portion of their waking life working to manipulate Congress – and state and local government – into denying full civil rights for ordinary citizens feared and hated by cowards and bigots.
Almost 50 years after their deaths, the House voted Wednesday to award the Congressional Gold Medal to four young girls killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., a seminal moment in the civil rights movement.
Addie Mae Collins, 14, Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, were killed on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963, in a bombing that also injured 22 other churchgoers. The attack caused international outrage and drew the attention of civil rights leaders, who came to Birmingham to expose the city’s discriminatory practices and compel Congress to pass civil rights legislation…
Over the years, the “four little girls,” as they’re known by some, have received few honors — there’s a Chicago scholarship program named for them and a memorial at Birmingham City Hall.
That changed Wednesday, when the House approved a bill honoring the four girls with the medal. The measure is cosponsored by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who began pushing for the honor earlier this year with other members of the Alabama congressional delegation.
During a congressional trip in late February to visit key landmarks in the civil rights movement, aides said Sewell and her colleagues personally lobbied House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who spoke in support of the bill on the House floor Wednesday.
The honor “is a strong reminder of how many people fought and died in the Civil Rights Movement so that this country could live up to its founding ideals of equality and opportunity,” Cantor said.
“I think after 50 years it is well due,” said Dianne Braddock, the older sister of Carole Robertson. Once the bill is approved by the House and Senate and signed by President Obama, “the whole nation will of course see this as a big honor,” she said. “It’s a big meaningful recognition. It’ll show that they didn’t die in vain. A lot of civil rights efforts were pushed forward based on that horrible tragedy that occurred. So they had some part to play in the progress that America made in regards to racial equality.”
I certainly remember the day. One more shame added to our nation’s record of reluctance to move forward on civil rights.
The local civil rights organization I belonged to held a vigil and student organizations from local colleges joined us.
A lot of attention moved to Birmingham, Alabama – and one of the most racist police departments in the entire nation and their KKK buddies.
Yes, I’d say recognition for those little girls is overdue.
France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate that has exposed deep social conservatism in the nation’s heartland and triggered huge protests in Paris from both sides of the divide. Legions of officers with water cannon braced outside the National Assembly for possible violence on an issue that galvanized the country’s faltering right.
The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225…
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told lawmakers that the first weddings could be as soon as June.
“We believe that the first weddings will be beautiful and that they’ll bring a breeze of joy, and that those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families,” she said…
One of the biggest protests against same-sex marriage drew together hundreds of thousands of people bused in from the French provinces — conservative activists, schoolchildren with their parents, retirees, priests and others. That demonstration ended in blasts of tear gas, as right-wing rabble-rousers, some in masks and hoods, led the charge against police, damaging cars along the Champs-Elysees avenue and making a break for the presidential palace.
Following the vote members of the gay and lesbian community flocked to a square in central Paris, just behind City Hall, to celebrate the vote.
“I feel immense joy, gigantic joy,” said 39-year old Sylvain Rouzel, “at last, everyone has the same rights. This is huge! France was lagging behind. We had to wait 14 years after the civil union to finally obtain the right to get married, with equal rights for everyone. I feel great!”
Paris’ openly gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, was among the crowd of hundreds gathered for the street celebration in the Marais, the city’s historic gay neighborhood…
“The controversy that we’ve seen has been a stoked and manipulated controversy that’s really kind of a last-ditch attempt to block the tide of history,” said Evan Wolfson, president of the American activist group Freedom to Marry, which he said worked with the French on the bill. “I don’t think it spoke to a deep or wide opposition among the French people.”
French civil unions, allowed since 1999, are at least as popular among heterosexuals as among gay and lesbian couples. But that law has no provisions for adoption…
France is the 14th country to legalize gay marriage nationwide —and the largest population. If the United States still pretended to any social or cultural leadership we could strike a real blow for civil rights.
Of course, with so-called leadership coming from a mostly spineless White House – and Congress divided between windbags and colostomy bags – there ain’t much chance of the United States providing leadership to a lemming.
Louisa Wall, Labour MP, celebrating the bill’s passage
Hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates celebrated at New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday as the country became the 13th in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.
Lawmakers voted 77 to 44 in favor of the gay-marriage bill on its third and final reading.
People watching from the public gallery and some lawmakers immediately broke into song after the result was announced, singing the New Zealand love song “Pokarekare Ana” in the indigenous Maori language…
In one of several speeches that ended in a standing ovation, bill sponsor Louisa Wall told lawmakers the change was “our road toward healing.”
“In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal — it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person,” she said. She added that “nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill.”
Lawmakers from most political parties were encouraged by their leaders to vote as their conscience dictated rather than along party lines. Although Wall is from the opposition Labour Party, the bill also was supported by center-right Prime Minister John Key.
“In my view, marriage is a very personal thing between two individuals,” Key said. “And, in the end, this is part of equality in modern-day New Zealand…”
Same-sex marriage is recognized in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark. Lawmakers in Uruguay approved a law last week that President Jose Mujica is expected to sign. Nine states in the U.S. also recognize such marriages, but the federal government does not.
The article notes the usual copouts from fundamentalists whose ideology slanders religious folk worldwide. This post also notes the nations already years ahead of the United States. At the current rate, I expect just about any progressive law to become a fixture outside the US well before Congress gets it right.
Our Congressional conservatives are better characterized as cowards, ideologically corrupt, backwards, only capable of blocking attempts to move this nation into the 21st Century.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
With growing expectations in recent weeks that a gay male athlete in one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States will soon come out publicly for the first time, the leagues have begun exploring ways to accommodate and respond to such a landmark announcement.
The National Hockey League and its players announced Thursday what appeared to be the most comprehensive measure by a major men’s league in support of gay athletes. The National Football League is working with gay advocacy groups to smooth the way for acceptance and to discuss how to prepare for the moment when one of its players publicly discusses his homosexuality…
The N.H.L. said it had formed a partnership with the You Can Play Project — an advocacy group pledged to fighting homophobia in sports — to plan training and counseling on gay issues for its teams and players.
Other leagues — the N.F.L., Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball — have policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and various officials have spoken in support of gay athletes. The N.B.A. recently sent a memo to teams reminding them that interviews with players entering the N.B.A. draft should not include questions about religion, race and sexual orientation…
Patrick Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and a founder of You Can Play, which was formed in March 2012, said the demographics of the N.H.L., with so many players from Canada and Northern Europe, were part of the reason the league had taken such a step.
“We have players from around the world, and a lot of those players are from countries that are seen as more progressive on L.G.B.T. issues,” Mr. Burke said, using the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. “So I don’t think it’s unreasonable or strange to think that the N.H.L. and the N.H.L.P.A. are driving this, in part because our players tend to be more comfortable with this issue…”
N.F.L. player Brendon Ayanbadejo said that a loose consortium of supporters — including former athletes in several sports who came out after their careers were over, psychologists and friends — were trying to help put those players in touch with one another. What happens after that, he said, is up to them.
“As far as what happens, none of that is coordinated,” he said. “It’s going to be on their times, their terms. The only thing coordinated is support, them being able to talk to other athletes who have been in their shoes. We want to put them together, and we can be there to support them in whatever they want to do.”
Overdue. Of course.
One of the saddest aspects of topics like this is that even conservatives who whine about individuals and organizations taking progressive attitudes on questions like this – still bullshit themselves into believing they live in the most advanced country in the world.
We lost that title decades ago.
Advancements happening within the borders of the US of A are owed to the young at heart who are willing to fight against reaction, ignorance. That leadership banner can unfurl over the whole nation when all of the battles against True Believers are won. Sports figures being able to speak openly about their sexuality without fear of sanction is part of that, one more step.
Uruguayan lawmakers voted on Wednesday to legalise gay marriage, making the South American country the third in the Americas to do so.
Supporters of the law, who had filled the public seats in the Senate, erupted in celebration when the results were announced. The bill received the backing of 71 members of the 92-seat chamber…
The “marriage equality project,” as it is called, was already approved by ample majorities in both of Uruguay’s legislative houses, but senators had made some changes requiring a final vote by the deputies.
President Jose Mujica’s ruling Broad Front majority, which backed the law, is expected to put it into effect within 10 days…
The vote makes Uruguay the third country in the Americas, after Canada and Argentina, to eliminate laws making marriage, adoption and other family rights exclusive to heterosexuals. In all, 11 other nations around the world have already taken this step.
Whereas some other countries have carved out new territory for gay and lesbian couples without affecting heterosexual marrieds, Uruguay is creating a single set of rules for all people, gay or straight. Instead of the words “husband and wife” in marriage contracts, it refers to the gender-neutral “contracting parties.”
All couples will get to decide which parent’s surname comes first when they have children. All couples can adopt, or undergo in-vitro fertilization procedures.
It also updates divorce laws in Uruguay, which in 1912 gave women only the right to unilaterally renounce their wedding vows as a sort of equaliser to male power. Now either spouse will be able to unilaterally request a divorce and get one.
People danced in the streets.
There was a time in my life when living in the United States meant you participated in the formation of progress for all the nations in this hemisphere. Not any more, man.
The nation’s most influential pediatrician’s group has endorsed gay marriage, saying a stable relationship between parents regardless of sexual orientation contributes to a child’s health and well-being.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ new policy…cites research showing that the parents’ sexual orientation has no effect on a child’s development. Kids fare just as well in gay or straight families when they are nurturing and financially and emotionally stable…
The academy believes that a two-parent marriage is best equipped to provide that kind of environment. Their policy says that if a child has two gay parents who choose to marry, “it is in the best interests of their children that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so.”
The policy cites reports indicating that almost 2 million U.S. children are being raised by gay parents, many of them in states that don’t allow gays to marry.
The academy announced its position Thursday. Officials with the group said they wanted to make the academy’s views known before two gay marriage cases are considered by the U.S. Supreme Court next week…
The pediatricians’ stance is not surprising. They previously joined other national groups including the American Medical Association in supporting one of the Supreme Court cases, which contends the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The academy also previously supported adoption by gay parents.
The academy’s statement notes that several other national health groups have supported gay marriage. Those are the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American College of Nursing.
Dr. Ben Siegel, a Boston pediatrician and chairman of an academy committee that developed the new policy, said its focus is on “nurturing children. We want what’s best for children.”
Not that it means much to folks whose hearts and minds haven’t left the Dark Ages, yet. Fact remains, most bigots are as anti-science as they are anti-human beings living with basic civil rights.