March 21, 2009

GLBT News and Political Roundup 3/21/09

The marriage debate is picking up in Vermont as the state legislature takes up a bill that would give same-sex couples the right to enjoy full marriage rights.

The measure would replace Vermont's first-in-the-nation civil unions law with one that allows marriage of same-sex partners beginning Sept. 1. Civil unions, which confer some rights similar to marriage, would still be recognized but no longer granted after Sept. 1.
Supporters cast the debate as a civil rights issue, saying a civil unions law enacted by the state in 2000 has fallen short of the equality it promised same-sex couples. Its appeal has declined, too: In 2001, the state granted 1,876 civil unions, compared with only 262 last year.

New Hampshire's lawmakers are also moving forward with important legislation.

New Hampshire lawmakers will vote next week on two LGBT rights bills - one that would allow same-sex couples to marry and one extending the state’s human rights laws to include protections for transpeople.
If they passed the House, the bills would then go to the Senate.
Rep. Jim Splaine, who sponsored the state’s civil unions law, said he believes there will be enough votes to pass his same-sex marriage bill and to block an attempt to amend the constitution to bar same-sex marriage.

Sadly, the Pope has again demonstrated just how out of touch he really is.
A day after Pope Benedict XVI prefaced his visit to Cameroon and Angola by saying the "scourge" of HIV could be made worse, not better, by the distribution of condoms, France, Germany and Belgium criticised his message as irresponsible. The UNAids agency said condoms were a vital part of the battle against HIV, which infects more than 7,000 people a day.

Here's another debate: Did Proposition 8 lead to an increase in anti-gay hate crimes in California?

Hate crime cases involving anti-gay sentiment shot up in Santa Clara County last year, a striking increase that a leading prosecutor attributes to controversy over Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on gay marriage.
Anti-gay incidents accounted for more than half of hate-crime cases last year — 56 percent — a big jump from only 15 percent in 2007. There were 14 anti-gay cases out of 25 hate-crime cases in 2008, compared with only 3 out of 20 in 2007.
"My belief from having done this work for many years is that surges in types of hate incidents are linked to the headlines and controversies of the day,'' said Deputy District Attorney Jay Boyarsky, who is assigned to monitor hate crimes. "Marriage equality and Proposition 8 have been in the news, and we have seen an increase in gay-bashing.''

Better late than never, the U.S. will endore the U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalzation of homosexuality.

The Obama administration on Wednesday formally endorsed a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality, a measure that former President George W. Bush had refused to sign.
"The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world," Wood told reporters. "As such, we join with other supporters of this statement, and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora."

Think all GLBT folks are affluent? Think again, says this new study.
Lesbian couples are more likely to be poor than married heterosexuals, and children of same-sex parents are twice as likely to live in poverty as those of traditional married couples, a new report shows.

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