Lesbian To Be Honored With Citizens Medal |
Janice Langbehn, an out lesbian, is one of 13 citizens to be honored with the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor. While on vacation in 2007, Langbehn’s partner, Lisa Pond, suddenly fell ill. Langbehn was refused access to her partner, who later died alone. With the help of Lambda Legal and GLAAD she filed a federal lawsuit and worked tirelessly to ensure no one else would have to suffer through the same ordeal. President Obama apologized to Langbehn for the way she and her family had been treated and issued a memo mandating hospital visitation rights for same-sex partners. Langbehn will receive the honor at the White House on October 20.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case from Adar and Mickey Ray Smith, the same-sex parents of an adopted child who are seeking to be listed as fathers on their son’s Louisiana birth certificate. The couple attempted to amend the birth certificate that Louisiana offers to parents of children born in the state but adopted elsewhere in the U.S., but were denied because Louisiana does not recognize gay couples and prevents single parents from legally adopting children. The issue in the case was whether the constitutional requirement that each state afford “full faith and credit” to judicial decisions in other states requires Louisiana officials to issue a corrected birth certificate.
MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts hosted Oren Adar this afternoon, who expressed dismay at the court’s decision, which effectively maintains a Fifth Circuit ruling against the couple. “This makes our son really a second class citizen, he doesn’t have a birth certificate,” Adar said. Watch it:
Public Policy Polling has released the results of its first poll of North Carolina voters since Republican state lawmakers approved a referendum for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and the numbers are not good. According to the poll, if the vote were held today, the amendment would pass with 61 percent of the vote and only 34 percent opposing. Even Democrats support the measure (49/44), though at a narrower margin than independents (52/43) and Republicans (80/17). But as PPP points out, the voters likely do not realize the full effect of the amendment:
The interesting thing is that 51% of this same set of voters supports legal recognition for gay couples. 22% favor gay marriage and another 29% civil unions, with only 46% completely opposed to granting same sex couples legal recognition. The problem for those trying to defeat the amendment is that 37% of voters who support gay marriage or civil unions are still planning to vote for it. That suggests a lot of folks aren’t familiar with how wide reaching the proposed amendment would be and it gives those fighting it a chance- they just have to get their message out effectively to the majority of North Carolinians who do support legal recognition for gay couples that the proposal goes too far.
The key is language. This 61/34 result comes from asking about “defining marriage as between a man and a woman.” When PPP polled about prohibiting all forms of union last months, the numbers flip and 55 percent oppose the amendment. The huge difference between these simple language changes suggests how contentious the campaign will be until the vote in May.
Equality North Carolina offers a guide to the amendment with eight “truths” about the harm it will cause the state. The full breakdown of this poll can be found here.
Virginia City Hopes To Lobby State For Anti-Discrimination Law |
The City of Virginia Beach is hoping to convince the state of Virginia to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Stacie Walls-Beegle, the executive director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Center in Hampton Roads, urged the City Council to consider the measure as it met on on Tuesday to review a draft its legislative agenda for the state General Assembly. “You really want people to be able to be comfortable wherever they are at and to be treated equally and not have to hide who they are,” she said. “You want everybody to have the same verbiage regardless where you are advocating for local state, or federal, all down the road.” Only three cities, including Virginia Beach, ban sexual orientation discrimination in the state. Last year, a bill passed in the Senate but died in the House. Watch a local news report:
Opponents of equality allege that legal recognition of same-sex couples infringes on their religious beliefs because it would force religious adoption agencies to shut their doors and prevent foster children from finding new homes. When civil unions became law in Illinois this summer, several dioceses filed suit to maintain their state contracts for adoption and foster care services despite their unwillingness to place children with same-sex couples. A judge has ruled the state is not bound to maintain the contracts, but the dioceses have appealed. Now, though, the Peoria diocese is doing the right thing: dropping out of the suit and relinquishing their cases to a secular organization that can abide by the law:
No longer able to provide publicly funded foster care and adoption services unless it complies with Illinois law, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Peoria announced Thursday that it will withdraw from all state contracts and transfer its staff and caseload to a new nonprofit organization with no affiliation to the Roman Catholic Church. Run by a five-person community board, the Center for Youth and Family Solutions will take on the entire caseload of foster children from Peoria Catholic Charities starting Feb. 1.
John Culhane at The New Civil Rights Movement has dubbed this approach “The Peoria Solution,” and rightfully so, as it is one other groups should recognize as appropriate pursue. The key flaw in equality opponents’ argument is that the law does not force groups like Catholic Charities to shut down as they claim. In fact, the organizations could continue to operate and discriminate against same-sex couples in accordance with their beliefs if they simply relinquish their state funding. What they are suing for is state subsidization of their discrimination against same-sex couples, which they simply aren’t entitled to regardless of their religious beliefs.
Hemant Mehta at the Friendly Atheist points out that secular student groups in Illinois have been doing fundraising to support the work of adoption agencies. Rather than creating divisions along religious lines, groups should follow Peoria’s lead and unite over what is in the best interest of children.
Anti-Gay Perry Endorser Claims Gays Are ‘Promiscuous’ |
Over the weekend, prominent Rick Perry endorser Pastor Robert Jeffress reiterated his belief that Mormonism is a cult and told ThinkProgress that AIDS is a “gay disease.” The People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch has dug up some old audio of Jeffress -– whose endorsement Perry is still unwilling to recant –- arguing that “the idea of long-term, monogamous homosexual relationships is a myth” and that gays and lesbians are using “brainwashing techniques” to “inject homosexuality” into the culture. Watch it:
Rick Santorum took a veiled swipe at same-sex couples during Bloomberg’s debate on the economy last night, suggesting that breakdown of traditional families is contributing to “poverty” and instability:
SANTORUM: There is more to it than that. And I agree with Rick, what he said, but the biggest problem with poverty in America, and we don’t talk about here, because it’s an economic discussion — and that is the break down of the American family.
You want to look at the poverty rate among families that have two — that have a husband and wife working in them? It’s 5 percent today. A family that’s headed by one person? It’s 30 percent today. We need to do something, and we need to talk about economics. The home — the word “home” in Greek is the basis of the word “economy.” It is — it is the foundation of our country. We need to have a policy that supports families, that encourages marriage…
Santorum drew a more direct connection between the nation’s economic woes and “huge moral failings” like the “redefinition of marriage” during a radio show in August. “Letting the family break down and in fact encouraging it and inciting more breakdown through this whole redefinition of marriage debate, and not supporting strong nuclear families and not supporting and standing up for the dignity of human life. Those lead to a society that’s broken,” he explained, adding, “if you look at the root cause of the economic problems that we’re dealing with on Wall Street and Main Street I might add, from 2008, they were huge moral failings.”
Santorum clearly believes that families are integral to economic development and his efforts to keep gay people from building family life are yet another indication of how little he thinks of them.
Wanda Sykes Says Motherhood Encouraged Her To Come Out |
Wanda Sykes discussed her coming out process with Rosie O’Donnell on OWN’s The Rosie Show last night, revealing how her desire to live her life and become a mother pushed her to publicly come out as a lesbian. “I just got married, and then it was the Prop 8 thing in California — and that just made me angry — and then also, we were planning on having a kid…you can’t make the kid feel like there is something wrong or there is shame in it. So definitely, that was a motivator to come out,” she said. Watch it:
The Pinellas County School Board in Tampa Bay, Florida voted to reject funds for an educational program affiliated with the Boy Scouts on Tuesday, “citing discrimination against gay youth by the organization”:
“This board has a chance to send a strong message to the Boy Scouts,” said Board Member Linda Lerner during the meeting. Lerner has asked the board to split from the program for the past 10 years. “I was pleasantly surprised, and I believe that it is so good for our district for our educators, students, and citizens, gay and straight,” said Lerner.
“Learning for Life” is a character education program in schools. It teaches students values like respect, responsibility, honesty and fairness.
Watch a local news segment on the story:
The Boy Scouts prohibit atheists, agnostics, and “avowed” homosexual people from leadership roles. In 2004, the organization adopted the following policy statement: “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting’s values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.”
Chaplains: Pentagon’s Same-Sex Marriage Rules Don’t Bother Us |
Conservatives argue that the Pentagon’s new policy of permitting chaplains to perform same-sex marriages on military bases undermines federal law and have threatened to “oppose passage of the annual defense authorization bill unless language is included that prohibits military chaplains from performing same-sex unions.” But the chaplains disagree, telling ABC News that the new rules won’t have any impact on their daily lives. “The Pentagon can issue a policy change concerning the performance of same-gender ceremonies by chaplains. However, the Pentagon doesn’t generate religion as such,” says Gary Pollitt, a spokesman for the Military Chaplains Association, which represents 1,600 current and retired military chaplains. “A military chaplain conducts religious ceremonies and rites in keeping with the canons [or beliefs, doctrine, policies] of the religious faith group that endorses that chaplain. Each faith group defines the parameters for religious rites and the clergyperson’s individual discretion [if any] with those rites,” he said. Indeed, numerous religious denominations allow its ministers to perform same-sex marriages or bless same-sex unions.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT’s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here’s what we’re reading this morning, but let us know what you’re checking out too. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.