ANNIVERSARIES: Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong, George Amerson and Mike Grossman

ARMSTRONG-YOUNG  | Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong celebrated their 40th anniversary Monday, April 18. The couple met on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1971 through the Gay Liberation Front organization there. They had a civil union in Vermont in 2000 and were legally married in California in August 2008.

 

GROSSMAN-AMERSON  | George Amerson and Mike Grossman marked their 40th anniversary Wednesday, April 20, after celebrating the event with a gathering of family and friends the previous weekend. Grossman is a Minneapolis native who had lived in Dallas a year when he met Amerson, a native of west Texas who had already lived in Dallas several years when they met. The couple say they are most proud of their children, Laura and Devon Cloud and Barney and Stephanie Grossman, and their grandchildren, Miles and Rachel. The two work in residential real estate, Grossman for 50 years and Amerson for more than 35 years.

—  John Wright

Delaware may be next civil unions state

Delaware State Capitol

With a marriage bill advancing in neighboring Maryland, Delaware lawmakers have proposed civil unions for that state, according to WBOC in Dover.

Equality Delaware helped craft the legislation. The bill is intended to give couples with a civil union the same state rights as married couples and gives religious groups an exemption from participating.

A poll released this week shows that 48 percent of people in Delaware support full marriage equality. Only 31 percent were strongly opposed. Others were not sure or fell in the middle. In neighboring Maryland, where a marriage bill is close to passing, 51 percent of the population supports marriage equality.

Delaware Right to Marry statewide director Bill Humphrey said that opposition to marriage equality “dropped dramatically” in states like Vermont and Massachusetts as people saw firsthand that same-sex marriage has no negative impact on their lives.

—  David Taffet

Facebook adds civil unions, domestic partnerships to relationship status options

Props to Facebook peeps. The word is spreading about their updates to the relationship status field. The HuffPo posted earlier that “civil union” and “domestic partner” are now listed under the field as options and are being rolled out as we speak.

The changes were made in consultation with Facebook’s Network of Support, a group that includes LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and the Human Rights Campaign.

“As LGBT people face a pathwork of relationship recognition laws, this gives people more tools to adequately describe their relationship,” said Michael Cole, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. “Facebook has been a company that has tried to be inclusive of the LGBT community and this just one sign of it.”

Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters and former gay rights advisor to president Bill Clinton, echoed Coles’ praise.

from Huffington Post

—  Rich Lopez

Letters • 08.20.10

Why do we fight for a word?

This week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its decision to halt the granting of same-sex marriage licenses in California until it considers the constitutionality of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

So, here we go with round 2, or 200, or 2,000 — I have long ago stopped counting and stopped worrying about “The Battle.”

You see, I don’t believe the battle was fought correctly and therefore lost its direction.

Marriage. Really? Why are we so determined to have a word?

That’s all it really is, a word. I really thought the fight was for rights. Is getting “married” the only way to do that? Aren’t we worried about legal rights?

Seems to me we are. I mean after all, we are conducting our fights in the legal system.

How far along do you think we would be if perhaps instead of focusing on the word we focused on the prize — equal rights. Give them the word; give me the rights.

You can call the process established to grant the rights whatever — civil union, partnership agreement, legal arrangement or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I don’t see where that matters.

Also, just think of the possible additional troops we could recruit — straight couples that also desire the rights but don’t want the whole “married” thing.

The more the “marry-er,” as they say.

What does matter, at least in my opinion and world, is that I can make medical decisions for my partner when needed (or hell, just be able to see him in the hospital), that we can receive the retirement or social security benefits of the other just the same as any spouse, that we can buy property together and that property passes to either of us at the death of the other — you know, the important things, the rights.

I am all in for that fight, but not this word fight. Honestly I have to admit, I am not a fighter at heart so the thought of a tougher battle to achieve the goal is very unattractive to me.

So, hate me for being a man who is gay and doesn’t want to be in this battle.
It is your right.

David Dupuy
Dallas


Touched by TCC’s  national anthem

Last week I was driving out to DFW Airport very early in the morning, just before 7 a.m. I tuned my car radio to KEOM FM 88.5, which is the Mesquite Independent School District station, which mainly plays a format of 1970s and ’80s music.

Well they had just signed on for their broadcast day and played what I thought was one of the most beautiful renditions of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” that I had ever heard.

It was so good, I wanted to know who performed it.

So I called the morning station DJ, thinking that it must have been one of the military academies or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Imagine my sheer delight to learn that it was Dallas’ own Turtle Creek Chorale.

It was truly magnificent. If you have never heard the TCC’s performance of the national anthem, make sure you make the effort to do so.

Bravo gentlemen!

Jay Narey
Dallas

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Ecuador is latest South American country to consider marriage equality; Bolivia may follow

A bill to allow civil marriage will be introduced in Ecuador’s National Assembly on Thursday, according to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

In 2008, Ecuador adopted a new constitution that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Bolivia has a similar provision in its new constitution called “The Law Against Racism and All Types of Discrimination.” The LGBT rights group Equidad participated in a presentation and analysis of the Bolivian provision chaired by a member of the National Assembly. Recommendations will be made this week, and they’ll presumably include a marriage equality law.

This summer, South America has been a hotbed of equality legislation. Marriage equality passed in Argentina. An upgrade from civil unions in Uruguay, which have been legal for several years, is being debated. Civil union bills also have been introduced in Chile and Peru.

Chilean Senator Fulvio Rossi, who introduced the bill there, doesn’t expect it to pass. El Mercurio doesn’t predict what the chances are for passage of the bill in Ecuador.

Translation assistance by Miguel Flores.

—  David Taffet

Outed California State Sen. Roy Ashburn says he's had a change of heart on gay rights

Roy-Ashburn
Roy Ashburn

Three months after homophobic California State Sen. Roy Ashburn got caught driving drunk after leaving a gay bar, he was back on the floor of the Senate casting votes on two gay-rights bills.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ashburn was the only Republican who voted in favor of a resolution supporting the right of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. But he also voted against a measure that could remove an obstacle to same-sex marriage:

Ashburn then took the unusual step of publicly explaining his votes on the Senate floor.

“I would not have been speaking on a measure dealing with sexual orientation ever prior to the events that have transpired in my life over the last three months,’’ Ashburn told his colleagues. “However, I am no longer willing or able to remain silent on issues that affect sexual orientation and the rights of individuals. And so I am doing something that is quite different and foreign to me, and it’s highly emotional.’’

—  David Taffet

2 rulings from New York's highest court expand parental rights for same-sex couples

New York Court of Appeals in Albany
New York Court of Appeals in Albany

New York’s highest court ruled that a Vermont civil union establishes parental rights for the non-biological parent. The ruling, in the case brought by Lambda Legal, was unanimous.

The court, however, did not overrule a 1991 decision that said only biological or adoptive parents may seek custody and visitation rights. However, the latest ruling strengthens recognition of same-sex relationships in a state that doesn’t issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian ouples.

In September 2009, Vermont’s marriage equality law replaced civil unions.

Last year, a marriage equality law proposed by New York’s governor passed the Assembly but failed in the Senate. New York does recognize marriages and civil unions performed elsewhere, thanks to an executive order and several legal decisions.

In a related case, the court ruled 4-3 that a woman is entitled to seek child support from her former partner. The partner is not the biological parent, but the couple raised the child together until they split.

—  David Taffet

Hawaii legislature passes civil unions

Gov. Linda Lingle
Gov. Linda Lingle

The Hawaiian legislature passed civil unions and the bill goes to the governor to sign, according to the Honolulu Advertiser. It passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 31-20.

The governor, Linda Lingle, has not said whether or not she will sign the bill into law.

Lingle is Republican but she is also Jewish. While Reform Judaism accepts same-sex marriages (as do many Conservative rabbis) and Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, Lingle belongs to a small Orthodox congregation. Orthodox generally do not recognize same-sex marriages.

If signed into law, the effective date is Jan. 1, 2010 because supporters expected the bill to pass last year. So civil unions would begin immediately.

Lingle has 45 days to sign the bill. The House vote was not enough to override a veto.

The same-sex marriage issue began in Hawaii. In 1993, the state Supreme Court ruled that denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry was discriminatory. The state was poised to pass same-sex marriage when they changed their state constitution.

Other states that allow same-sex civil unions that are supposed to be equivalent to opposite-sex marriage are California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington state. Five states — Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Iowa — and the District of Columbia have marriage equality.

—  David Taffet

Over the weekend while I was reading the Klan's website…

KlanFred Phelps is apparently too extreme for the Ku Klux Klan.

Here’s what they say on their website:

News Release

Disclaimer :

NOTE: The Ku Klux Klan, LLC. has not or EVER will have ANY connection with The “Westboro Baptist Church”. We absolutely repudiate their activities.

Actually, that’s really not too surprising. Phelps has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But what surprised me over the weekend, while I was reading the Ku Klux Klan’s website, was that on the issue of same-sex marriage, they’re to the left of the official platform position of the Republican Party.

On same-sex marriage (click here for their full statement), they say:

We define Marriage as: a religious solemnization of vows between one man and one woman. Even those performed by a Justice of the Peace or Judge are not, by our understanding “marriages” but rather civil ceremonies (unions). We see no issue with civil unions for homosexuals or those who choose to avoid Holy Wedlock.

In other words, the Klan believes that “marriages” are performed by churches. “Civil unions” are performed by government. A justice of the peace does not perform a marriage, they claim, just a civil union.The legal rights we have come from the civil union. And it’s OK for gays and lesbians to get the same civil union straight people get when they take out a license at city hall.

And that’s exactly what the gay and lesbian community has been arguing since the marriage debate began. Separate civil marriage from religious marriage.

Now, just in case anyone thinks they’re embracing the LGBT community, they’re not. Their membership requirements state, “Under NO circumstances will we accept for membership: homosexuals, atheists, or those who have been found mentally insane.” I’d get tossed out on several other counts. There’s that Jewish thing. And dating people of other races thing.

I guess my favorite part of the website is where they explain how accepting gays goes against “Judeo-Christian values.” Hmmm … I wonder how they explain Israel recognizing same-sex marriages performed where they are legal? Or isn’t Israel Judeo enough for them?

—  David Taffet

Lambda Legal reopens NJ same-sex marriage case

Although New Jersey lost the marriage battle after a 14-20 Senate vote earlier this year, same-sex couples aren’t giving up or waiting for a Democrat to return to the governor’s mansion.

Eh, what exit are ya?
Eh, what exit are ya?

In its original 2006 ruling, along with civil unions, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the state to study whether that solution was truly equal. Of the first 1,000 people who were civilly united, half filed complaints of unequal treatment. The intent was for civil unions for same-sex couples to be equal to marriage for opposite-sex couples.

The Newark Star Ledger reported:

Civil union couples still have trouble being recognized as next-of-kin by employers when they seek benefits and by hospital officials when one partner is ill. Not surprisingly, this separate institution turns out to be unequal.

So the couples who filed the original complaint are going back to court. They are demanding an upgrade from second class civil unions to marriage equality.

In her dissent in the original case, Chief Justice Deborah Poritz wrote, “What we name things matters, language matters.”

On March 18, Lambda Legal filed a motion to reactivate Lewis v. Harris, the original New Jersey same-sex marriage case. They submitted evidence to the court to show that with marriage, separate isn’t equal.

And befaw I hear from anyone from Joisey about my cherse a pikchas, my fatha’s from Nutley.

—  David Taffet