Archive for the 'Same-Sex Marriage' Category

Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks at the Parliament of Sweden

Attorney General Eric HolderAttorney General Eric Holder addressed the Swedish Parliament today and pledged continued support by the U.S. Government to advance the equality of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people. Mr. Holder commended Sweden on being a champion of human rights including LGBT rights and quoted from President Obama’s second Inaugural address,

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love that we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

He went on to say,

“I believe one of these struggles is the fight for equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender – or LGBT – citizens.  And that is why my colleagues and I are working alongside leaders like you and people around the world to make a positive difference.”

The Attorney General is visiting Sweden as part of a European trip to attend a G6 ministerial conference in Poland.

You can read the full speech here.

For LGBT Donors, Russia Is The New Marriage

Melissa Ethridge - Russia Freedom Fund

John Minchillo / AP Images for Arcus Foundation

Repost from BuzzFeed, by J. Lester Feder

Can the strategies that turned the U.S. LGBT movement into a money machine work when the fight goes abroad? Melissa Etheridge headlined a celebrity fundraiser for a new coalition that hopes to make that true.

When Julie Dorf started trying to raise money for international LGBT rights work more than two decades ago, she said, people looked at her like she was nuts.

“When we started [the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission] in the middle of the AIDS epidemic, people would look at me and say, ‘I have people dying in my backyard; I don’t have time to think about gay people in Russia.’”

And while U.S. support for LGBT advocacy abroad has grown over the years since IGLHRC came into being as the first international gay rights organization in 1990, it has claimed a tiny sliver of the dollars going to LGBT advocacy. Major grassroots fundraising efforts with the celebrity glitter that the domestic movement became so adept at were not a part of the equation.

But a fundraiser headlined by Melissa Etheridge on Monday night in Manhattan showed how much times have changed. Etheridge has partnered with Dustin Lance Black and other entertainment industry figures to form a coalition to raise funds for Russian LGBT activists, which they’re calling Uprising of Love. That’s also the title of the anthem Etheridge penned for the movement resisting Russia’s “homosexual propaganda” law. It will go on sale in January with proceeds going to LGBT activists.

By the time the Uprising of Love coalition launched, the Human Rights Campaign had already made waves by diving into international work with a $3 million investment from Republican financiers. Its first initiative was also a fundraising campaign for Russian activists, under the banner “Love Conquers Hate.” It uses the classic retail strategy that HRC perfected to support its domestic work: selling campaign-branded t-shirts advertised with photos of celebrities in campaign gear.

In remarks before performing the new song, Etheridge gave voice to the mood among Americans that seem to make them ready for international LGBT fundraising pitches.

“It seemed to be just weeks after we had just had this incredible high of that decision of the Supreme Court knocking down DOMA” that she learned about the anti-gay crackdown in Russia, she said. “We’ve been pushing this boulder for 20, 30 years up this hill [in the U.S.]. And we made it, and we can breath…. All of us who have gone that journey, when we see what’s happening in Russia, [we say] “No no no no. We are never ever ever going back.” Continue Reading

Related Content:

Open Letter to President Putin on Russia’s Discriminatory Anti-LGBT Laws
Russia Freedom Fund

House Members Urge Secretary Kerry to Protect LGBT People at 2014 Sochi Olympics

Jerrold Nadler, Official Portrait, c112th CongressA bipartisan group of 87 House members have signed on to a letter asking Secretary Kerry, “what diplomatic measures the State Department is planning to take to ensure that American LGBT athletes, staff and spectators, and their supporters, are not arrested, detained or otherwise penalized during the Sochi Games.”

The effort was lead by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) who in a press statement said, “The United States must do everything we can to protect those Americans who are traveling to Russia for the Olympic and Paralympic Games this winter. Russia’s anti-LGBT laws defy basic human rights that should be guaranteed to everyone at all times and in all places. These laws are completely contrary to the uniting spirit of the Olympics, which brings diverse nations together in a spirit of peaceful and friendly competition.”

Read the full letter here.

You can find the list of names who signed on here.

Read Rep. Nadler’s press statement here.

U.S. Department of State Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act

The U.S. Department of State applauds the Supreme Court’s decision striking down an unjust and discriminatory law and increasing freedom and equality for LGBT Americans.

As a Senator, I voted against DOMA in 1996 and argued that it was unconstitutional. As Secretary of State, I look forward to the work that now can and must be done to adjust rules and regulations that affect the many married Americans who were hurt by this law. While I am incredibly proud of the job that the State Department has done in ensuring equal benefits for our employees, there’s more to be done. To fully implement the requirements and implications of the Court’s decision, we will work with the Department of Justice and other agencies to review all relevant federal statutes as well as the benefits administered by this agency. We will work to swiftly administer these changes to ensure that every employee and their spouse have access to their due benefits regardless of sexual orientation both at home and abroad.

I am proud of the progress we’re making in this arena, and particularly proud that I work for a President who has helped to lead the way forward. From Stonewall to the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ despite setbacks along the way, the arc of our history on this issue has bent towards inclusion and equality, perhaps never more so than today.

Peace Corps Announces New Service Opportunity for Same-Sex Couples

Peace Corps Press Statement

Washington, D.C., May 21, 2013 – Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet today announced that the agency will begin accepting applications from same-sex domestic partners who want to serve together as volunteers overseas. Same-sex couples may begin the application process starting Monday, June 3.

“Service in the Peace Corps is a life-defining leadership experience for Americans who want to make a difference around the world,” Deputy Director Hessler-Radelet said. “I am proud that the agency is taking this important step forward to allow same-sex domestic partners to serve overseas together.”

Expanding service opportunities to same-sex domestic partners who want to volunteer together further diversifies the pool of Peace Corps applicants and the skills of those invited to serve overseas in the fields of education, health, community economic development, environment, youth in development and agriculture. Married heterosexual couples have been serving together in the Peace Corps since its inception in 1961. Currently, 7 percent of Peace Corps assignments are filled by married volunteers serving together.

The Peace Corps requires formal documentation for all couples who want to serve, and same-sex domestic partners will be required to sign an affidavit before leaving for service that will act as verification of their relationship. The Peace Corps continually works with staff in host countries to identify placements that allow for safe and productive assignments.

Couples who serve together gain a unique perspective of host country customs and culture, but opportunities for couples are limited, as both applicants must apply at the same time and qualify for assignments at the same post. Many factors affect placements, including an applicant’s overall competitiveness, program availability, departure dates, and safety and medical accommodations. For any applicant, the number one factor in determining an assignment is the demand from host countries for skilled volunteers.

To learn more about serving in the Peace Corps as a same-sex couple, visit http://www.peacecorps.gov/learn/howvol/couplesfaqs/.

Analysis: The global impact of Obama’s support for gay marriage

President Barack Obama, Supports Gay Marriage

(Pete Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

The president’s decision represents a “next generation” for whom LGBT equality is a given.

May 10, 2012–As an LGBT rights advocate, I have experienced so many proud moments with our president. Our community in the United States can count a number of major achievements during President Obama’s tenure: an inclusive hate crimes law; the repeal of the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; and the hugely important decision that the attorney general will longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

So when the rumors started buzzing yesterday morning that Obama was about to announce his support for marriage equality, it was yet another exciting moment of tangible progress in our country and by our president. When I watched the ABC interview, I was most struck by the weight he gave to his conversations around the dinner table with his daughters, who themselves have friends with lesbian and gay parents. Obama acknowledged that his daughters’ perspectives have helped him evolve: “It wouldn’t even dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently.” Continue reading ‘Analysis: The global impact of Obama’s support for gay marriage’

Marriage Rights Are Spreading Across the Americas: Will the U.S. Supreme Court Take Notice?

by Mark Bromley, Council for Global Equality

Earlier this month, a federal District Court judge in California, in the now-famous case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, ruled that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.  The judge found that Proposition 8, which was adopted by California voters to overturn a state Supreme Court decision and strip same-sex couples of their right to marry, is unconstitutional on both due process and equal protection grounds.  Most legal observers expect the case to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court in a few years.  If it does, the U.S. Supreme Court might just find itself looking to our neighbors to our north and south, and considering two important marriage-related cases decided this week in Mexico and Costa Rica.

The notion that the U.S. Supreme Court might take stock of this shifting landscape in our hemisphere is not as surprising as it might sound.  In the most important LGBT case ever decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas that overturned earlier Supreme Court precedent to strike down a homosexual sodomy law in Texas, Justice Kennedy, writing for the Court majority, looked to the “values we share with a wider civilization” to help decide the case.  He noted that other nations had already strongly affirmed “the protected right of homosexual adults to engage in intimate, consensual conduct.”  He cited a leading human rights case decided more than 20 years earlier in Europe, and a string of subsequent European cases, before concluding that there was no particular reason to believe that in our own country, “the governmental interest in circumscribing personal choice is somehow more legitimate or urgent.”  He concluded, instead, that LGBT Americans are entitled to private lives, and that “the State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”  Perhaps Justice Kennedy, or one of his colleagues, writing the majority opinion when the Perry case finally lands on the Court’s door, will cite this time to a string of cases from our neighbors in North and South America.

Canada, the first country in the hemisphere to recognize same-sex marriage for its citizens—and for non-citizens like me who traveled there to get married—did so based on a 2004 case in the Supreme Court of Canada and a 2005 Civil Marriage Act.  Argentina, the second country in our hemisphere to legalize same-sex marriage, did so this July by an act of congress.  And just this week, two cases were decided, one in Mexico and one in Costa Rica, that lend unique perspective to the Perry decision and its future consideration in the Supreme Court.

In December of last year, Mexico City legalized same-sex marriages for its federal district.  This week, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that all other states in Mexico must recognize the marriages performed in Mexico City.  The 31 states in Mexico need not perform same-sex marriages in their own state, but they must recognize the marriages performed in Mexico City.  The New York Times quotes Justice Arturo Zaldívar as asking what happens to a same-sex couples that goes to another state.  “Does this marriage disappear? They go on vacation and they’re no longer married?”  That’s an equally good question for our Supreme Court to ask in the Perry case, and in a related set of same-sex marriage cases that are also working their way through the federal courts in Massachusetts.

Also this week, the Constitutional Court in Costa Rica blocked a referendum scheduled for December that would have allowed the citizens of Costa Rica to decide whether same-sex civil unions should be allowed in their country.  The Costa Rican Court, in a 5-2 decision, said that the rights of minorities should not be subject to majority vote by referendum, thereby throwing the decision back to the legislature.  While the case was about civil unions and not marriage, that basic logic animates the decision in the Perry case and will surely be an important focus in any Supreme Court inquiry.

The road to our Supreme Court is long and the decision in the Perry case is uncertain, but if Justice Kennedy, who is considered an important swing vote, looks once again to the “values we share with a wider civilization,” he will surely see that the long arc of the moral universe is bending toward marriage equality across our hemisphere and beyond.  One can only hope that this will be as apparent to Justice Kennedy as it is to so many of us in the LGBT community.


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