The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly In LGBT News
It’s been a busy weekend in LGBT news. We’ve pulled together the good, the bad, and the ugly stories for you to stay up to speed on the fight for equality.
- Jason Collins Became The First Out Gay Man In A Major American Sports League Last Night. Collins first made headlines when he announced, in an article last year for Sports Illustrated, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” Collins went unsigned at the beginning of the year, but yesterday signed a contract with the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets GM said that signing Collins was strictly “a basketball decision” and not a political one. But that won’t stop Collins from making a small political statement of his own–by wearing number 98 to honor Matthew Shephard, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in 1998. Check out the video of Collins entering the game and making history.
- Cook County, Illinois Is Now Issuing Marriage Licenses Immediately Instead Of Waiting Until June 1. Illinois’ marriage equality law is not set to take effect until June 1, but a federal judge has ruled that same-sex couples can begin marrying immediately, at least in Cook County, where a lawsuit was filed. Friday afternoon, 46 couples rushed to the County Clerk David Orr’s office to be the first to get marriage licenses.
- Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Won’t Say Whether Or Not She Will Sign An Extreme Anti-Gay Bill. Under the guise of respecting “religious liberty,” the bill would effectively give businesses the ability to explicitly discriminate against LGBT people. Vetoing it is a no-brainer, but Brewer has refused to offer her stance–and has left the door open that she may in fact support it. Similar bills in the dark red states of Kansas and South Dakota have failed in the past week, and the Arizona congressional delegation–including Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, both Republicans–have urged Brewer to veto the bill. This bill is another in the long line of legislation and court rulings with exceedingly broad religious liberty exemptions that open the door to discrimination. Religious liberty is a core American value, but the Constitution protects religious liberty for all, not just religious liberty for some.
- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Signed Into Law A Bill That Criminalizes Homosexuality. The law, often referred to as the “Kill the Gays” bill because previous versions of it included the death penalty, allows for a lifetime jail sentence for people found guilty of being gay. First-time offenders can be punished with 14 years in jail. Those who promote LGBT issues would also be in violation of the law, as would anybody who officiates a same-sex marriage or anyone “aiding and abetting homosexuality.” In other words, the law can be used to punish anyone, not just LGBT people. Unfortunately, American conservatives have been heavily involved in exporting anti-LGBT hate to Uganda and countries around the world.
BOTTOM LINE: The arc of the moral universe bent a small but noticeable bit toward justice yesterday when Jason Collins stepped on the court wearing a Brooklyn Nets uniform. But despite all the progress made, the fight for equal rights is far from over. And as Uganda shows, some places around the world are even turning back the clock when it comes to human rights.