Friday, November 6, 2009

Equality in the News October 31st-November 6th

Happy November to everyone! I’d like to first congratulate ENC’s executive director Ian Palmquist for being elected board chair of the Equality Federation!!! This is quite an honor and we’re proud of you! -Jennifer


Marriage Equality for All

On Oct. 22nd, North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., held a forum on marriage equality that was sponsored by NSCU’s GLBT Student Center & the Union Diversity Activities Bard. Panelists for the event included Kate Kendall, Tracy Hollister, Jimmy Creech and ENC’s executive director, Ian Palmquist (yay for Ian!). During the event Ian discussed the issues of marriage, legal protection, and the definition of marriage facing each state individually. Ian stated that North Carolina has been more progressive than other Southern states, but still lag behind many other states in the rest of the country that are advancing the rights of the LGBT community.

Chapel Hill Elects Openly Gay Mayor

On Tuesday, Mark Kleinschmidt was elected as Chapel Hill’s mayor. He will become the third openly gay man to hold mayoral office in North Carolina. Kleinschmidt is a leading civil rights and LGBT advocate in North Carolina. He is also the former board president of North Carolina’s ACLU chapter and the former board member of Equality North Carolina. Kleinschmidt’s platform calls for better public transportation, community development, centralized urban growth rather than sprawl and environmental protection. Congratulations to (soon-to-be) Mayor Kleinschmidt.


The LOSS in Maine

By now, you’ve probably heard about results on Maine’s marriage referendum. Many LGBT activists blamed scaremongering ads and President Obama’s lack of engagement. Activists insisted that Obama should have spoken out forcefully in defense of Maine’s marriage law before Tuesday’s referendum. The law was repealed in a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent. Many California activists stated that the outcome in Maine strengthened their belief that it will fall on the U.S. Supreme Court, not the voters, to make equal marriage legal. A federal lawsuit challenging Prop. 8 is scheduled to go to trial in January. Although the loss in Maine is disappointing, it isn’t the end. The fight isn’t over for Equal Marriage.

State Benefits Won in Washington

In other relationship recognition news--this time far better news--voters in Washington chose to move closer to equality by approving Referendum 71, known to many as "everything but marriage."

Work, Stay, and Live in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo became Michigan's 16th city to approve an ordinance protecting individuals from employment, housing, and public accommodation discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Way to go, Kalamazoo!

New York Governor Calls for Session on Budget, Equal Marriage

Recently, NY Governor David Paterson made the decision call the Legislature back to Albany for a special session to cut the budget and possibly vote on legalizing same-sex marriage. The Governor wants the Senate to give final legislative approval to same-sex marriage; however, there are no guarantees that there are enough votes to carry the measure, which has already passed in Assembly. Paterson’s agenda includes addressing a deficit of more than $3 billion with midyear cuts to school aid and health care, among other measures.

Yet Another Study

This just in: Same-sex couples are similar to straight couples! (That's sarcasm you hear from me.) The study at UCLA, based on data collected by the 2008 American Community Survey, found that the highest percentages of same-sex spouses in 2008 were found in the Northeast (Massachusetts and Vermont). No surprise there, but it's worth noting that Utah and Wyoming rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in number of same-sex couples. The study also found that, contrary to what conservatives will tell you, same-sex couples live, work, and raise children much the same way as their opposite-sex counterparts. Bravo to UCLA for bringing this to a wider audience’s attention.


UN Panel Faults Russia’s Support for Human Rights

This past Friday a new U.N. Human Rights Committee recognized that Russia is still struggling with human rights abuses, with the rights of its LGBT citizens being one of them. Although homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in the 1990s, the panel noted ongoing violence against LGBT Russians, including police harassment. I hope Russia is able to come to terms with these issues so that every citizen feels comfortable in their community.

Well, that’s the wrap up for the week! I hope everyone continues to have a great weekend. Don’t forget Next Saturday November 14th, is Equality North Carolina’s Conference and Gala. Click here to learn more. I hope to see you there!

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