Marriage equality arrives in France, inches closer in Delaware, Rhode Island

Hollande.Francois

President Francois Hollande

France became the third country this month to legalize same-sex marriage when a bill passed the National Assembly today. Meanwhile, two more states in the U.S. are moving closer to marriage equality as well.

France became the 14th country with marriage equality when a bill passed the National Assembly following weeks of violent demonstrations and attacks on gay couples by conservatives. Civil unions have been legal in France since 1999.

President Francois Hollande said he will sign the bill and marriages should begin in June. He campaigned on a marriage-equality pledge and the issue didn’t become controversial until after he came into office.

Last week, New Zealand legalized same-sex marriage. Earlier in April, Uruguay did the same.

In the U.S., a marriage equality bill passed the House Administration Committee in Delaware and now moves to the House floor. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill today.

Delaware already has civil unions and a state law, but not a constitutional amendment, prohibiting same-sex marriage. The bill would repeal the law and upgrade civil unions to equal marriages.

Gov. Jack Markell has said he would sign the bill into law, according to Equality Delaware.

Rhode Island has been debating marriage equality ever since it passed a civil union law that is unpopular with both sides.

For the first time, an entire party delegation is supporting marriage equality. All Republican members of the Rhode Island Senate will vote for the marriage equality bill, according to the Associated Press.

The latest versions of the bill include more protections for religious organizations but fewer protections for businesses that want to discriminate against same-sex couples marrying, according to the Providence Journal.

Finally, Nevada’s legislature is debating repeal of its constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. During the debate, Sen. Kelvin Atkinson came out as the second gay member of the Senate. USA Today reports that if the bill passes this year, it must be voted on again by the legislature in 2015. Then it goes to the voters the following year.

Same-sex marriage bills have also been introduced this year in Illinois and Minnesota.

—  David Taffet

Neither side happy with civil unions in R.I.

Karen Loewy

While Equality Delaware called the signing of Delaware’s new civil union bill on Wednesday historic, activists in Rhode Island said a civil union compromise would make gays and lesbians second-class citizens in that state.

According to the Providence Journal, opponents and proponents of same-sex marriage were united in their opposition to a civil union bill for Rhode Island.

Supporters of a marriage equality bill are frustrated. Rhode Island is the only New England state that hasn’t passed a marriage bill (although Maine’s was repealed). Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox is gay and in November voters elected David Ciccilline, former mayor of Providence, as the fourth openly gay member of Congress. And the state already recognizes marriages performed elsewhere.

Karen Loewy, a Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders attorney, said, “Nothing short of marriage is equality for Rhode Island’s gay and lesbian citizens and their children. By citing DOMA, Speaker Fox lets the federal government set the standard for discrimination and sells out the gay community for the sake of political expediency. DOMA’s days are numbered as it comes under increasing legal and political attack.”

With civil unions, if the federal Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples in Rhode Island would continue to be treated as second-class citizens federally, Loewy said.

Since same-sex marriages from out of state are recognized in Rhode Island, and because the state is so small, anyone in Rhode Island can drive less than 20 miles to a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

Delaware became the fourth state with civil unions  — in addition to Illinois, Hawaii and New Jersey. Four — California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — have domestic partnerships.

Smaller packages of protections have passed in Maryland, Maine, Colorado and Wisconsin.

Five states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire plus the District of Columbia — have marriage equality.

—  David Taffet

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

Netroots Action for Marriage Equality in Delaware

DE Right to Marry Header

This is Bill Humphrey, and he’s the statewide director for Delaware Right to Marry Political Action Committee. He’s got a little problem, really, just a little one. And I know we at the Blend and in the Netroots can help him out.

This has been Cross-Posted to the Daily Kos. Please Rec if you can.
First, here’s a special note to Pam’s House Blend from Bill:

We at Delaware Right to Marry are grateful for the chance to address readers of Pam’s House Blend directly today. If you read the “About” page by Pam, she cites “the right to marry” as one of the issues that led her to start the site in the first place. It’s an interesting choice of words: the right to marry. A lot of people don’t think marriage is a right. Having grown up in Massachusetts during the transition to marriage equality, I firmly believe that it is a right (as you can tell by our organization’s name), and it’s one of the reasons I started the organization last year here in Delaware, where I now live.

In April 2009, Nate Silver estimated that Delaware voters would be ready to accept marriage equality by 2011 if it were put to a vote. However, unlike in many states, there is no ballot initiative process (which is a good thing since people should not be able to vote on other people’s rights), nor is there an equal rights clause in the state’s constitution to allow for a court ruling in favor of marriage equality, as in Massachusetts or Iowa. So in Delaware we have to go the legislative route. That means appealing to legislators, by showing them that marriage equality is right and (we hope) popular. That’s where you come in.

A note to the transgender community: We are very supportive of promoting transgender rights in the state of Delaware, and members of our staff are heavily involved in other projects for transgender individuals outside our organization. For example, our assistant director is currently leading a project for gender-neutral housing options for students living on campus at the University of Delaware.

While, our organization right now is solely single-issue (marriage equality for same-sex couples), there are other organizations in the state with a broader policy agenda for LGBT people, and my assumption is that they are working to add transgender protections at some point in the near future. However, I can’t speak for those organizations, and we did not exist when the previous nondiscrimination legislation, which some of you may know about, came up for debate. I am personally supportive of transgender rights and in the future, it may be something we add to our mission.

See, Bill’s working to get marriage equality onto Delaware’s legislative agenda this session. And if it gets off the ground, its got a good chance of passing. The problem is, it’s been a long time since anyone checked in with good people of Delaware about how they feel about LGBT issues. And it seems, these issues are on an upswing, so there’s good reason to believe when the news comes back it’ll be good. And as he said, king of polling, Nate Silver agrees.

But, polls don’t conduct themselves. So, Bill needs just ,250 dollars to pay Public Policy Polling to conduct a poll on Delaware residents’ attitudes about marriage equality.

Big Money

I know, it’s gauche to ask for money. I personally believe I was made for better things. But the reality is the anti-gay hate industry is rich. Very rich. And they are powerful, and have the ears of some powerful folks. Just one group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM), is estimated in 2009 to have collected ,000,000, including a single donation of ,400,000 from Catholic Church affiliated Knights of Columbus. And they sunk millions into a variety of races around the country. In this last cycle they spent half a million dollars to go after those judges in Iowa.

NOM also sunk half a million dollars going after Governor Lynch in New Hampshire for signing a marriage equality bill. They didn’t get their prize. (Yay!) But they’re not backing down. They’re gearing up to spend at least 0k in Rhode Island.

They have lots of money. Fortunately, we have the arc of a just universe on our side. And, we also have facts. But Bill and his group just need the money to mine for those facts.

Little Money

When Bill’s request came to me I was struck by its quaintness. ,250 is not much, it’s pretty obtainable. I mean, I’m used to reading these budgets of six digits. So, I figure, if everyone donated just (the cost of a movie ticket!), we’d only need 225 nationwide to chip in. (Of course, if you give more, that’s great!) And we can help Bill and Right to Marry lay the a solid groundwork for a nice victory in Delaware. Let’s go to it.

Now, think carefully. And remember, the extremists in Delaware must be pretty dispirited that their teabagger Queen Christine O’Donnell got Royally trounced in the last election. They lost their chance to make masturbation illegal. I imagine the left scoring a marriage equality victory in 2011 would be a real kick in the pants, wouldn’t it? And wouldn’t that just be a shame?

Transcript for the video impaired.

Hi. My name is Bill Humphrey, and I’m the statewide director for Delaware Right to Marry Political Action Committee.

We are leading the effort to pass legislation this year for civil marriage equality in the state of Delaware. Our bill is modeled upon the 2009 New Hampshire marriage equality law and contains clear protections for unhindered freedom of religion. We believe we have a very strong draft law, which we hope to have introduced soon. [Read the proposal outline here.]

Today, I’m here with a pretty simple request. There hasn’t been a poll done in the state of Delaware on any LGBT issues for several years. We think that opinions have shifted significantly just in the last few years, and we’re ready to put that to the test. However, in order to do that, we still need about two thousand dollars for our poll by Public Policy Polling. We’re an all-volunteer organization, and we are absolutely counting on small-dollar donations from the netroots to help pay for the poll.

We also should note that we have to get this poll done in the next several weeks in order to be able to move our effort legislative ahead this year because the legislative session in Delaware is fairly short. Right now we also have a pro-LGBT Democratic governor, a Democratic supermajority in the House, and a Democratic Senate majority. We don’t know how long that situation might last, and we don’t want to fight this out in an election year either. That makes this period extremely critical.

Donations of any amount – big or small – are deeply appreciated.

If you would prefer to just write a check, there’s a link below with information on how to do that. Otherwise, you can just use the ActBlue link below to donate securely and instantly.

Thanks again for your support. It really makes a difference.

Donate on our ActBlue page to help pay for the poll:

Or How to donate by check.

Goal Thermometer

Thanks for watching, and reading. Two prior diaries by Bill:
? Why Does Marriage Equality Matter to You ? Help Us Bring Marriage Equality to Delaware

? You can follow the news of this story at Delaware Right To Marry’s Facebook page.

Special Note: Please welcome Bill to the Blend, he’s posting under the handle, Delaware Right To Marry and will be taking questions at 11:00 am EST on Wednesday.

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—  admin

Volunteers Stand Up for Chris Coons in Delaware

Delawareans are coming out in force to help elect Chris Coons to the U.S. Senate.  I’ve been working here in Lewes to turn out our members throughout Delaware, and the dedication of the volunteers is amazing.  With so much on the line and everyone watching, it’s been great to work with such a dedicated group of volunteers here in eastern Delaware.

The race is definitely a top target and it’s been exciting to talk to our members about why they need to vote.  There’s talk of an enthusiasm gap, but that’s definitely not the case here;  everyone that I have talked to is excited to go cast a vote for pro-equality candidates like Chris Coons.

The time here on the ground has blown by, and I’m sure that the time from now until Election Day  will go even faster. Here’s to getting out the vote.  Go Coons!

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by Chris Coons for Delaware


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

In Delaware, Chris Coons supports full LGBT equality — unlike Christine ‘identity disorder’ O’Donnell

Last week, CNN released a poll last week showing Chris Coons has a wide lead over anti-gay/anti-masturbation/witchcraft dabbler/teabagger Christine O’Donnell.

That’s good.

Coons got into this race when no on thought he had a chance, since Mike Castle was viewed as the presumptive victor in both the GOP primary and the general election. Now, he’s got a very good chance to be the next Senator from Delaware.

We’ve heard a lot about O’Donnell. Too much. Just four years ago, in 2006, O’Donnell opined that homosexuality was an “identity disorder.”

We should also know some things about Chris Coons, the Democratic nominee and potential U.S. Senator.

Last Tuesday, I got the chance to talk to Chris Coons on Tuesday, shortly before the Senate voted to end filibuster of the Defense Authorization bill.

My focus was on Coon’s LGBT positions, since that’s the issue about which I’m most concerned these days. Also, keep in mind, the winner of this race becomes the Senator upon winning. So, if there’s any chance to pass the DADT language in the lame-duck, we’ll need every possible vote.

The first thing Coons told me was “If I was in the Senate, I’d vote to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” That’s a good start.

From the Coons campaign website:

Chris has always been a supporter of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community here in Delaware. As County Executive, he created an external Diversity Commission that reviews county policies and practices and includes a representative from the LGBT community. Chris has also ensured domestic partnership benefits in New Castle County government and supported LGBT issues debated in the state legislature. If elected to the US Senate, he will continue fighting for LGBT issues such as: marriage equality for all Americans, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, and supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).

Another supporter of marriage equality would be a very good thing.

Coons also told me he would co-sponsor legislation to repeal DOMA. To date, there’s no DOMA repeal bill in that body. Paul Hodes also told us he’s co-sponsor a Senate bill.

And, support for the other legislation is important since none of it passed this year.

Apparently, tonight, we’re going to find out if Mike Castle, who lost to O’Donnell, will enter this race as a write-in candidate.

For voters in Delaware and anyone who cares about LGBT equality, Chris Coons is the candidate.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Video: Hannity and Rove jump into a catfight over teabagger O’Donnell’s win in Delaware

Enjoy a giant serving of delicious schadenfreude in this video as Sean Hannity gets a smackdown by Karl Rove over the success of anti-masturbator, anti-gay winner of the Delaware U.S. Senate GOP primary, teabagger Christine O’Donnell:

Hat tip to Digby, who said:


Oooh. Daddy Karl and Uncle Sean had quite the spat tonight. How long before they drum Rove out of the party? Sorry Karl, you and your friends birthed this hideous monster and now it’s turning on you. Did you think you would be immune?

Here’s the video from Rachel’s show, where they snagged O’Donnell’s anti-masturbation appearance for MTV:


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—  John Wright

Tea Party Wins: Bigots Christine O’Donnell, Ovide Lamontagne Overtake Republican Challengers in Delaware, NH

Despite being dubbed a "complete fraud" by her former U.S. Senate campaign manager Kristin Murray, Tea Party favorite and Sarah Palin pick Christine O'Donnell (pictured) has scored in Delaware, beating in today's GOP primary (for Joe Biden's Senate seat) Rep. Mike Castle — whom O'Donnell's "supporters" gay baited in television ads. And in New Hampshire, Ovide Lamontagne is on track to beat former frontrunner Kelly Ayotte; Lamontagne is the fella who wants to ban gay couples from adopting, among other things.


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—  John Wright

Teabagger wins in GOP Senate nomination in Delaware

Among other things, the new face of the GOP, Christine O’Donnell, has been an outspoken opponent of masturbation. She won tonight:

Tea party-backed Christine O’Donnell has defeated U.S. Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

The voted ended a 40-year run of election victories for Castle, thrown off track by a flash of conservative voter anger

In unofficial returns, with 100 percent of the vote reported, O’Donnell has 53.1 percent of the votes tallied; Castle has 46.9 percent.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Delaware Tea Party candidate running in GOP U.S. Senate race publicly opposes masturbation

Christine O’Donnell and her interesting take on human sexuality and morality clearly was going to come back to haunt her, but common sense should have told her that appearing on a show called “Sex In The 90s”, it may come up if you run for office.

O’Donnell is challenging a congressman in Delaware’s Republican Senate primary, and until now no one took her seriously.

The Huffington Post reports that O’Donnell was on a Sex In The 90s special on MTV. (Remember those?) “The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can’t masturbate without lust,” she said, adding. “The reason that you don’t tell [people] that masturbation is the answer to AIDS and all these other problems that come with sex outside of marriage is because again it is not addressing the issue. You’re just gonna create somebody who is, I was gonna say, toying with his sexuality. Pardon the pun.”

The stupid. It burns. Blazing, white hot embers flying in the air…if you take a look at this teabagger’s web site, she wants government out of everyone’s lives, except for the government to control women’s wombs, and amend the constitution to protect marriage.

What kind of Tea Party does she belong to?

That’s interesting, because some in the LGBT community aren’t in agreement regarding the scope of homophobia within the Tea Party Movement. (Wash Blade):

Michael Cole, a Human Rights Campaign spokesperson, said the Tea Party movement has “taken a lot of the wind out of the LGBT demagoguery sails.”

“Their relentless focus on economic issues has really taken a lot of the attention away from some of the attacks on LGBT people that we usually see from elements of the conservative movement,” he said.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, a gay conservative group, also maintained the focus of the Tea Party is on economic issues and not blocking the advancement of LGBT issues in Congress.

“The focus of the Tea Party is on fiscal issues and the growth of government, and their influence on Congress is to get Congress focused on those issues,” LaSalvia said. “And so, I think, if it’s having any influence on Congress, it’s telling Capitol Hill to wake up and quit spending all the money.”

Michael Mitchell, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, characterized the Tea Party as the reincarnation of previous anti-gay movements.

“There is, indeed, a very conservative movement out there that is finding a voice and turning some races, but I believe it’s the same anti-equality, anti-gay elements that have been roadblocks and are going to be roadblocks for us,” Mitchell said.

How many Christine O’Donnells are out there? The anti-gay, anti-choice meme has no place in the Tea Party if it is indeed about limited government.

 
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—  John Wright