Hawaii Senate Confirms Out Lesbian as Supreme Court Justice

Today was an amazing day for equality in the Aloha State.  Not only did the civil unions legislation pass the legislature and head to Gov. Abercrombie for his signature, but openly gay judge Sabrina Shizue McKenna was confirmed as an Associate Justice to the state’s highest court.  She becomes the first openly gay member of the Hawaii Supreme Court and the second out lesbian supreme court justice in the U.S.  The appointment to the position spans 10 years and will give McKenna the opportunity to make her mark on the bench.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie called the appointment the most important decision in his career, and said the “appointment sets the course for the state and its legal direction for the next several years.  I’m completely confident that Judge McKenna’s appointment will be something I’m proud of for the rest of my life.”  Judiciary Chair Clayton Hee, gave impassioned remarks on the floor of the Senate and his colleagues confirmed McKenna unanimously, including the sole Republican in the chamber, Sam Slom, who also spoke well of the nominee.

I was honored to be in the chamber for both the civil unions vote and Judge McKenna’s confirmation, and to share such a momentous day with my friends and colleagues here in Hawaii.  It’s been a long time on this road to equality, but we’re finally making substantial gains in the state where the marriage battle began nearly two decades ago.

Judge Sabrina McKenna, 53, the senior judge of Oahu’s Family Court at the Kapolei courthouse, was a state judge in circuit and district courts for 17 years.  She is partnered to Denise Yamashiro and has three children between the ages of 8-14.  McKenna, born and raised in Japan, attended the University of Hawaii-Manoa for undergraduate studies and law school.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Rourke Confirms Gareth Thomas Biopic

MICKEY ROURKE GARETH THOMAS X390Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke confirmed on a British talk show that he
will play gay rugby player Gareth Thomas in an upcoming biopic.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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Senate Confirms Chai Feldblum as Commissioner at EEOC

Chai Feldblum, EEOC Commissioner, was finally officially confirmed by the Senate this week.

Feldblum You may recall that wingnuts ferociously opposed Feldblum's nomination before she was recess appointed in March, saying that "Feldblum intends to use her position of influence as EEOC commissioner to force private institutions to follow her radical vision of society, through the enforcement of aggressive and intrusive employment non-discrimination laws."

Windy City Media reports:

"In one of its last acts of the current session, on December 22, 2010, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Jacqueline A. Berrien to be Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Chai R. Feldblum ( a long-time lesbian activist ) and Victoria A. Lipnic to be Commissioners; and P. David Lopez to be the General Counsel. All four were nominated to their positions by President Barack Obama and had been serving under recess appointments since April, 2010."

Feldblum is the first openly gay Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Towleroad News #gay

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Pentagon Working Group Report Confirms No Major Impediments to Open Service

The Pentagon’s Comprehensive Working Group studying how to implement repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has found few hurdles to implementation of open service by gays and lesbians, according to their report released today.  The news provides tremendous momentum for upcoming Senate action on repeal.

“This issue has been studied for fifty years, including by the military itself, and the results from over twenty-two studies are uniform: open service does not harm effectiveness,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “The small handful of Senators blocking repeal no longer have any fig leaves behind which to hide.  The time for repeal is now.”

A survey of troops – while not a referendum on repeal but rather a tool to gauge attitudes about repeal – showed that seventy percent of service members thought having an openly gay or lesbian colleague in their unit would have either a positive, mixed or no effect.  For those who believe they have already worked with a gay or lesbian service member, ninety-two percent say their unit’s ability to work together was very good, good or neither good nor poor.

“America’s men and women in uniform are professionals who already serve with gays and lesbians and repeal will do nothing to change their dedication to protecting our nation,” said Solmonese. “Senators who said they want to hear from military leaders and troops now have their answers.  Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will allow every qualified man and woman to serve without sacrificing the high standards that have made our military great.”

Twenty-five nations allow open service by gays and lesbians and all of them have implemented repeal of their bans without major disruptions – including close allies such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Israel.  Further, a failure of Congress to act now will tie the hands of military leaders who have asked for the power to implement the changes that today’s report lays out.

TAKE ACTION NOW and tell the Senate it’s time to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Yahoo News confirms disproportionate drop in gay vote support for Dems

First the article poo-poo’d the drop in gay support, then the researcher realized the drop was significant, and worse than any other groups.  This backs up the data I posted last night.

Exit polling commissioned by the major cable news networks has found that 31 percent of people who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual voted for Republicans on Election Day. That represents a big uptick from the 24 percent of gays who voted for the GOP in 2006 and from only 19 percent who did so in 2008. The trend appears to bear out pre-Election Day predictions from gay rights organizers that gay voters were angry and disenchanted with Democrats for not delivering on promises to the community.

UPDATE: After reviewing the full data, Sherrill says there was a disproportionate drop in Democratic support among LGB voters compared to Hispanic, black, and young voters. Though the sample size is still very small and thus there’s a large margin of error, Sherrill now says the drop may be attributed to “dissatisfaction with the pace of change on LGB rights over the past two years.”




AMERICAblog Gay

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Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman Confirms in Interview: I’m Gay

Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman has come out of the closet in an interview with The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder.

Ken_mehlman Said Mehlman: "It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life. Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."

Mehlman says he tried to stop Republicans from attacking gay marriage:

Privately, in off-the-record conversations with this reporter over the years, Mehlman voiced support for civil unions and told of how, in private discussion with senior Republican officials, he beat back efforts to attack same-sex marriage. He insisted, too, that President Bush "was no homophobe." He often wondered why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, which he called "the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now."

What does he regret?

"I can't change the fact that I wasn't in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally." He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: "If they can't offer support, at least offer understanding."

"What I do regret, and think a lot about, is that one of the things I talked a lot about in politics was how I tried to expand the party into neighborhoods where the message wasn't always heard. I didn't do this in the gay community at all."

He said that he "really wished" he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, "so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]" and "reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans."

Ambinder notes: "Mehlman is the most powerful Republican in history to identify as gay."

Read the whole thing here.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright