Posts Tagged ‘gay’
Utah tried civil rights for a week or two – and turned their backs on love
The Obama administration on Friday made the latest contribution to a fast moving legal battle over same-sex marriage rights, as the Justice Department said that the federal government would recognize as lawful the marriages of some 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah even though the state government is largely refusing to do so…
“I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in an unusual video announcement on the Justice Department website. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds…”
On Wednesday, Gov. Gary R. Herbert announced that the ban, an amendment to the Utah Constitution, was back in legal force while the litigation continued, something that could take years. During that time, he said, the state would not recognize or confer new marital benefits to those same-sex couples who had married.
But with Friday’s announcement, same-sex couples in Utah who married will be able to file joint federal income tax returns and will be eligible for other spousal benefits, like health insurance for the families of federal employees and the ability to sponsor a noncitizen spouse for a family visa…
In Utah, gay couples and supporters of same-sex marriage cheered the federal government’s move. Many were disappointed and angered by the state’s decision not to recognize their new marriages, and have argued that, despite the continuing legal battle, their nuptials are just as valid as any other in Utah.
“It feels like a little victory after the last couple days with our governor,” said Austin Vance, who married his partner last month at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office, with hundreds of other gay couples. “It definitely raises spirits a little bit. It was disturbing that our governor would make those assertions that we wouldn’t be recognized.”
“We’re going to continue to file and act as if we’re married,” he added. “Some people have said that’s an act of civil disobedience. If it is, so be it…”
Sooner or later, Utah – like other backward states – will have to move into the 21st Century. They may not wish to recognize science trumping superstition, reality taking precedence over bigots and know-nothings. But, so far, our Constitution is still recognized as giving superior rule by law for our federal Union over States Rights and the hypocrites that invoke them whenever convenient to their need to have some Americans declared second-class citizens.
In one of their most dramatic choices in a century, local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to ease a divisive ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted into the nation’s leading youth organization.
Gay adults will remain barred from serving as Scout leaders.
Of the local Scout leaders voting at their annual meeting in Texas, more than 60 percent supported the proposal.
Casting ballots were about 1,400 voting members of BSA’s National Council who were attending their annual meeting at a conference center not far from BSA headquarters in suburban Dallas.
The vote will not end the wrenching debate over the Scouts’ membership policy, and it could trigger defections among those on the losing side…
Of course. Would you expect bigots to accept democracy – along with civil rights?
The BSA’s overall “traditional youth membership” – Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers – is now about 2.6 million, compared with more than 4 million in peak years of the past. It also has about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.
Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.
Those include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, but some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban – notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it was satisfied with new proposal, and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting did not oppose it.
The frustration felt by those who oppose full civil rights for all Americans is nothing new. The nation listened to their whine and breast-beating over accepting non-whites, witnessed the transformation of local chapters of one or another organization or institution into something designed to maintain racial purity. Some of the same will take place over sexual orientation, now.
And, then, time and tide will continue to roll forward over the reactionaries who always think half-measures are all they can bear.
Senator Rob Portman became the most prominent Republican lawmaker to back gay rights when he reversed his opposition to same-sex marriage on Friday, two years after his son told him he was gay.
In a newspaper opinion piece on Friday, shortly before the Supreme Court is to hear arguments in two key cases on the issue, the Ohio senator said he now supports gay marriage.
“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” Portman wrote in an op-ed piece in Ohio’s Columbus Dispatch.
“That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a Congressman, and more recently as a Senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then, something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.”
Portman’s 21-year-old son, Will, told the senator and his wife in February 2011 that he was gay and had been “since he could remember.”
It was the latest show of public support for gay rights. President Barack Obama announced last year that he approved of gay marriage, and in his inaugural speech in January, he equated gay rights with civil rights.
The Supreme Court hears oral arguments later this month in two cases related to gay marriage. One challenges the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In a related case, the court will also hear arguments that question a California law, known as Proposition 8, banning gay marriage…
In his op-ed piece, Portman wrote of how he has “wrestled” with reconciling his Christian faith with the desire for his son to have the same opportunities as his siblings.
Which is why they’re called civil rights, folks.
It’s hard not to be critical of Portman waiting till he was personally affected by his son coming out – before examining all that he did afterwards. As someone in an elected position, someone charged with presenting informed leadership on issues affecting his constituents and the nation. OTOH, we can criticize damned near every one of the elected members of our government of paying overmuch heed to the needs of the lobbyists and check-writing punks that surround public office in this nation.
I’d say he’s different in that he did choose to get off his rusty-dusty and change a piece of his politics to match reality – instead of ideology. Not a common process in Congress even among the few folks I think worth supporting.
Tammy Baldwin elected as 1st openly gay senator
Voters in Maryland, Maine and Washington state approved same-sex marriage on Tuesday, marking the first time marriage rights have been extended to same-sex couples by popular vote.
The vote was hailed as a watershed moment by gay rights activists. While same-sex unions have been legalized in six states and the District of Columbia by lawmakers or courts, voters had consistently rejected doing so. Voters in more than 30 states have approved constitutional bans on gay marriage.
“We made history and sent a powerful message that we have truly reached a tipping point on gay and lesbian civil rights in this country,” said Brian Ellner, head of the pro-gay marriage group The Four. “By winning for the first time on marriage at the ballot box, we made clear what national polls already show — that Americans support fairness and equality for all families.”
President Barack Obama this year became the first U.S. president to support gay marriage. His campaign endorsed the gay marriage measures in the three states…
Voters in Minnesota rejected a proposal that would have defined marriage solely as a heterosexual union. The constitutional amendment failed 48 percent to 52 percent…
The constitutionality of restricting marriage to unions between a man and a woman is widely expected to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court soon.
That’s when we get to see if the Conservative’s Supreme Court remembers anything about civil rights applying to all Americans?
Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith and her wife, Tracey Hepner
An Army officer being promoted to brigadier general openly acknowledged her homosexuality on Friday by having her wife pin her star to her uniform, thus becoming the first openly gay officer of flag rank in the United States military.
The officer, Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith, 49, a 26-year veteran of the Army, was promoted in a ceremony at the women’s memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. The star was affixed by Tracey Hepner, who was a co-founder last year of the Military Partners and Families Coalition, which “provides support, resources, education and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military partners and their families,” according to its Web site.
The Army said that General Smith was not available for an interview on Sunday. However, she said in a statement that the Defense Department had made sexual orientation a private matter, but that “participating with family in traditional ceremonies such as the promotion is both common and expected of a leader.”
Sue Fulton, a spokeswoman for OutServe, a two-year-old organization of lesbians and gay men in the military, said Sunday that it was “highly unlikely” that General Smith was the only gay officer of her rank. She called General Smith’s public acknowledgment significant.
“I would say that it’s important to recognize ‘the first,’ because then the next person doesn’t have to be first,” said Ms. Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate. “Once we get over each ‘first,’ each hurdle of ‘Well, that’s never been done before,’ it makes it a nonissue going forward.”
As a colonel, General Smith was deployed in Afghanistan from December 2010 to October 2011 as the chief of Army Reserve Affairs. She currently serves in Washington as the deputy chief of the Army Reserve.
Overdue – and Sláinte!
Salt Lake City — The congregants wore church clothes to the annual gay pride parade here in the heartland of Mormonism. Waving rainbow signs and urging love and acceptance, they marched at the front of the line, vanguards of a new movement of Mormons challenging their church’s staunch opposition to homosexuality.
In 2008, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints played a pivotal role in financing and supporting a ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in California. Now, as the legal battle over that ban, Proposition 8, heads toward the Supreme Court, gay and straight Mormons are making increasingly vocal calls for church leaders to reconsider their stance on gay marriage and welcome openly gay congregants back into the church…
This gentle and scattered dissent, percolating in Utah living rooms, online message boards and gay pride parades across the country, could mark the beginnings of a small earthquake in the socially conservative Mormon Church, coming at a moment when Mitt Romney’s presidential bid and President Obama’s support for gay marriage have focused national attention on both the Mormon Church and the politics of same-sex marriage.
This November, four states — Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington — will consider whether to expand marriage to include gay couples, or limit it to one man and one woman. The Mormon Church has not yet signaled whether it will intervene with the same flood of cash, volunteers and organizational support that helped tip the balance four years ago in California.
The church still opposes same-sex marriage, and advocates say Mormon bishops still regularly excommunicate openly gay members in some more conservative congregations. Church leaders say that being gay is not itself a sin, but it urges gay members to remain celibate. The church still considers “homosexual relations” a serious transgression that can lead to disciplinary action, along with offenses like heterosexual sex outside marriage, child abuse, abortion and rape…
Every spring for six years Gentoo penguins Inca and Rayas have lovingly built a nest together, only to find that no eggs arrive to fill it. It doesn’t seem to have dawned on the couple that both of them are male.
But after the repeated heartbreak of watching other penguins become parents and raise their young, the “gay” couple finally have something to celebrate after their keepers gave them an egg of their own to care for.
Rather than questioning how the improbable scenario arose, the inseparable pair has seized their one chance at fatherhood with the zeal of a couple who know they may not get another.
Inca has taken on the “female” role of incubating the donated egg, obtained by keepers a month ago, and stoically remains atop his prize for most of the day, refusing the temptation to dip his feathers into the water.
His partner Rayas, meanwhile, keeps a watchful guard over the nest while eating whatever he can fit in his beak in preparation for the traditional male job of feeding his young with regurgitated fish…
Yolanda Martin, who cares for the pair, said: “We wanted them to have something to stay together for – so we got an egg. Otherwise they might have become depressed.”
Ms Martin said it was “lovely” to be able to cheer people up but emphasised that the penguins are not actually gay – they are just the best of friends.
You know, it really doesn’t matter what defines the characteristics of the bond between the two penguins. Just like life among humans, getting along with each other is more important than satisfying boundaries defined by someone else.
Yes, life and death issues are different; but, I’m not talking about the end of the world.
Germany’s conservative shooting association has banned gay “king” marksmen appearing with their partners at official ceremonies.
Each year local fraternities belonging to the association proclaim the best shooter as king, but last summer Dirk Winter, winner of the accolade in Munster, ruffled the conservative feathers of the shooting organisation by appearing with his male partner Oliver, who was crowned “queen”.
To avoid a repetition of this, kings will now have to have a female consort.
“The public appearance of same-sex couples is not compatible with the Christian traditions of the fraternities,” the Association of Shooting Fraternities said in a statement after 450 out of 500 delegates voted for the ban.
With many dating back to the nineteenth century and with a combined membership of some 400,000, the fraternities mix target shooting with a strong adherence to tradition and Catholic mores…
In a statement Germany’s Gay and Lesbian Association described the affair “as a provincial farce” that had made the shooting association appear “ridiculous”.
The association, however, defended its position, stressing that partners of gay kings could attend formal events but could not appear beside them and have to march behind the king when he enters the room.
Well – at least the new rules are consistent with conservative attitudes towards women. BTW – anyone ask the NRA for their position on gay members – much less gay award winners?
Click image to enlarge – yes, such enlargement is NSFW
Thanks, Motley News
He cracked the Nazi Enigma code, helped end the Second World War and is recognised as the father of computer science.
But for his final challenge, Alan Turing turned his mathematical mind to one of the natural world’s most enduring riddles: how the leopard got its spots. Now, 60 years on, scientists have discovered that Turing’s theory for why repeated patterns occur in nature was absolutely correct.
In his 1952 paper The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis, the code breaker proposed that animals’ stripes and spots are caused by the interaction of a pair of chemicals, dubbed ‘morphogens’.
One of the chemicals, he suggested, triggered cell activity, while the other hindered it. The way in which they interact would dictate where cells grow, creating familiar patterns on the fur of animals.
While scientists have been able to simulate Turing’s theory using computer models, for the first time scientists have identified the exact chemicals in action.
Researchers at King’s College London found the interaction between two morphogens named Fibroblast Growth Factor and Sonic Hedgehog dictated the ridge patterns in the mouths of mice, as predicted by Turing’s models.
The same theory applies to the stripes and spots of big cats, the number of bristles on a fruit fly, or the whorls on a leaf.
Dr Jeremy Green, a reader in Developmental Cell Biology, said the discovery could help progress the next generation of stem cell therapy by indicating how to build complex structures such as organs in a laboratory…“Our study provides the first experimental identification of an activator-inhibitor system at work in the generation of stripes – in this case in the ridges of the mouth palate.”
While biological processes at work are highly complicated, the mathematics behind Turing’s theory was “ingeniously simple”, he said.
“He was a great British genius. He had the confidence to take a completely new field, biology, and ask, ‘What can I add to it?’”
The mathematician, who would have been 100 years old this June, was convicted of being a homosexual the month the paper was completed. He committed suicide two years later…
The reward of a bigoted nation for his efforts at stopping Hitler and winning WW2.