Civil Unions Legislation Coming To West Virginia |
West Virginia Delegate John Doyle plans to “introduce a bill that would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions,” OnTopMagazine notes. “I’m not going to introduce a gay marriage bill simply because it has no chance of passing the West Virginia Legislature. We just might be able to get a civil union bill through, so I’m going to give it a shot,” Doye — who will not seek re-election — said. A Public Policy Polling survey from September found that only 19 percent of the state voters support same-sex marriage, but 43 percent “want some form of legal recognition for gay couple.”
Uganda Gay Activist Condemns American Religious Right For Exporting Homophobia |
Uganda gay activist Frank Mugisha calls out American Evangelicals for exporting homophobia to Africa in today’s New York Times. “Thanks to the absurd ideas peddled by American fundamentalists, we are constantly forced to respond to the myth — debunked long ago by scientists — that homosexuality leads to pedophilia,” he writes. “In Uganda, American evangelical Christians even held workshops and met with key officials to preach their message of hate shortly before a bill to impose the death penalty for homosexual conduct was introduced in Uganda’s Parliament in 2009.” The measure was shelved after local and international outcry, but may come up again. [HT: Jim Burroway]
The Archbishop of San Francisco has asked the pastor of a gay-friendly church in the Castro district to disinvite “a trio of gay-friendly clergy scheduled to speak at a series of pre-Christmas evening services,” arguing that the speakers were “inappropriate for the season of Advent,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Retired Rev. Roland Stringfellow, one of the cancelled speakers, was taken aback by the implication of the Archbishop’s decision:
“It’s ironic and hypocritical that the Catholic Church has a ‘Come home’ ad campaign going on right now,” he said. “Clearly, not everyone is welcome within the Catholic Church.”…What also bothered Stringfellow was the assumption that because he works with Berkeley’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, he would give a rousing gay rights sermon that ignored the religious themes of the season of Advent. [...]
“Most congregations invite speakers who can speak well to their community’s concerns,” he said. “We are all clergy within our own rites and denominations, and we were very disrespected by the idea that we can only give a talk that’s about gay rights.”
The issue of homosexuality is “a thorny one for the Catholic Church, which holds that while same-sex orientation is acceptable, gay or lesbian sexual activity is not.” Most practicing Catholics disagree with this interpretation. According to one recent survey, only 35 percent of Catholics oppose same-sex marriage and 16 percent of Catholics believe church leaders have “the final say” on homosexuality, down from 32 percent over the past 25 years.
48 States Have Elected Openly LGBT Lawmakers |
Denis Dison notes that “last week’s news that Southhaven, Miss., Mayor Greg Davis informed a local newspaper that he is gay means just two U.S. states remain on the list of those with no openly LGBT elected officials — Alaska and South Dakota.” “That doesn’t mean these states aren’t served by LGBT elected officials, just that none have self-identified publicly either in speeches or in the media,” he says.
MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts looks back at the year that was in LGBT news. Here are some of his highlights and our reporting from this “banner year” for equality:
Dec. 6: Obama administration pledges to prioritize LGBT equality in its foreign policy and directs agencies to help LGBT refugees. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech in Geneva, in which she reminds the leaders of the world that “gay rights are human rights.”
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) suggested that Republicans should abandon a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch (R). Earlier this month, following rumors of an an alleged affair with a male Senate staffer who reported to Koch, “the Republican from Buffalo resigned her leadership post and announced she would not seek re-election.”
“I think it underscores that sanctity of marriage is important to most Minnesotans and people who are in same-sex relationships believe in that sanctity also and want a chance to participate in the sanctity in the same way as heterosexual couples,” Dayton told MPR’s All Things Considered, before suggesting that Republicans would be hypocritical in pursuing the measure:
DAYTON: I will say, before you take out the speck in your neighbor’s eye, take the log out of your own eye. Somebody whose conduct doesn’t measure up to what they’re professing to believe in or prescribing for others, then they should be called on that.
Yesterday, the gay community in Minnesota sent Koch a mock letter apologizing “for ruining the institution of marriage and causing her to stray from her husband and engage in an ‘inappropriate relationship.’” “On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community’s successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage,” reads the letter from John Medeiros. “We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry.”
Bob Vander Plaats’ endorsement of Rick Santorum has produced a backlash among conservatives in Iowa, some of whom are accusing the FAMiLY LEADER president of engaging in “pay for play” schemes and selling his coveted support to the highest bidder. Earlier this week, Santorum admitted that Vander Plaats approached the campaign with an indirect solicitation of money to help promote his support, but now other sources familiar with the talks between Vander Plaats and GOP candidates are characterizing the tactics as “corrupt.”
“Clearly the endorsement was for sale — without a doubt,” one source told ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe and Michael Falcone, stressing that Vander Plaats had tried to receive money for his support in past election cycles:
Though Santorum did not specify the dollar amount he and Vander Plaats discussed, multiple sources said he was soliciting as much as $1 million from Santorum and other candidates.
In an interview with the Des Moines Register this week, Vander Plaats said that it was his “ethical responsibility” to essentially put some money where his mouth is. “You can’t say, ‘We endorsed you. Now see you later,’” Vander Plaats told the Iowa newspaper. “That’s not going to do a lot in the long run.” But one long-time Iowa conservative activist told ABC News, “There is no way he could buy enough ad space in Iowa for a million dollars — couldn’t buy that much advertising in a week and a half in Iowa.”
ABC News has learned that Vander Plaats tried to solicit money for his endorsement during the last presidential cycle too. A former staffer for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential bid who is currently unaffiliated with a campaign said Vander Plaats came to them seeking money for his backing if he supported the former Massachusetts governor. “He wanted to be paid,” the former staffer said. “He was clearly looking for a paycheck. There was a conversation about him getting a title, but being a paid consultant was much more important.”
This seems to also raise speculation about who exactly Vander Plaats actually wanted to endorse. Last month, he indicated that he had narrowed the endorsement down to four candidates: Santorum, Bachmann, Perry, and Newt Gingrich. During the weeks after that announcement, The FAMiLY LEADER’s attention seemed to be focused entirely on raising support for Gingrich, saying “he’s had a life transformation,” accepting that he “asked God’s forgiveness” for his infidelities, and accepting his affirming letter of the group’s “marriage pledge.”
While Santorum may be correct that conservatives like Vander Plaats were just trying to unite social conservatives, it may be that Vander Plaats was building support for Gingrich, the thrice-married former speaker whose complicated marital past raised concerns for certain Evangelical leaders. After all, Gingrich donated $350,000 last year to his campaign against the Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality, which is quite the “pay for play.” Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry have the social conservative credentials Vander Plaats would want to endorse without the baggage of Gingrich’s infidelities, but if they had dropped out, he could have endorsed Gingrich without it looking like blatant quid pro quo.
Progress Iowa has launched a petition calling on the Federal Elections Commission to investigate The FAMiLY LEADER for potential illegal campaign coordination. According to Erin Seidler, a spokesperson for the group:
Bob Vander Plaats’ solicitation of funds to promote his endorsement of Rick Santorum raises serious questions about further coordination between a political campaign and an outside group. Considering the possibility of illegal activity so close to Caucus Day, you can take Bob’s word there is no coordination or you can join us in telling the FEC to investigate if any illegal coordination is taking place.
Michigan Bans All Domestic Partnership Benefits |
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has signed into law a bill that prohibits all public employers from providing benefits to unmarried partners of employees. The House and Senate legal analysts disagree on whether the new law impacts the state’s universities, but Snyder clarified in a signing letter that it would not. Nevertheless, faculty at the University of Michigan have threatened an exodus from the state if their benefits are threatened in this way.
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 as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.