What’s Shakin’ – Stone Soup at F Bar, Washtonians support marriage equality

Stone Soup1. For people living with AIDS proper nutrition is more than just healthy living, it’s a vital part of the regimen that keeps them alive. Unfortunately the struggling economy and cuts to government HIV/AIDS nutrition programs mean that, for some, eating right, or just eating, is a challenge.  That’s where the AIDS Foundation Houston Stone Soup Food Assistance Program steps in.  Kelly McCann, CEO of of AFH, says that the program has recently seen a 40% increase in request for assistance and needs an additional $25,000 a month to meet demand. F Bar (202 Tuam) is doing its part to help out tonight, collecting monetary and food donations from the community. Donors will receive a VIP invitation to an appreaciation party on Nov 22, and be entered in a raffle to win fabulous prizes.
2. Washington may soon become the seventh state to have full marriage equality, if a recent poll by the University of Washington, Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexualityis accurate.  The poll asked 938 registered voters in the evergreen state if they would support a same-sex marriage law were it to appear on the 2012 ballot: 47% responded that yes, they would strongly support it, only 32% said they would strongly oppose.
3. Voter turnout in Harris County is slowly catching up with the last municipal election cycle in 2009, but continues to lag.  So far 28,679 people have cast their ballots, 81% of the 34,485 who had voted at this point in the process the last go around.  Early voting continues through November 3.  Election day is Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

—  admin

Postcards from Mexico: Lesbian wedding

Here’s the latest from Jesus Chairez:

MÉXICO CITY — I went to my first lesbian wedding ever last month … and it happened here in México City. The women getting married weren’t Mexican, or even Latina, but gringas. The very gay wedding of Cristina Potters and Judith McKnight (center) was held in their charming apartment in México City’s chic neighborhood Col. Condesa on July 22.

What struck me as fascinating was the guest list. Those who came to see included México City’s first lesbian couple to marry, Lol Kin Castañeda Badillo (left) and Judith Vázquez Arreola (right), who wed when México City’s same-sex marriage law took effect on March 4, 2010.

So I wondered: How do two retired, mature, easy-going, non-political American ladies living in México City meet two of México’s A-list lesbian activists?

Facebook!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Marriage equality battles ramping up across U.S.

N.H. Republicans working to repeal marriage law; other states offer mixed bag in legislative actions

DANA RUDOLPH | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

Two New Hampshire legislators have recently introduced bills to repeal that state’s marriage equality law, even though Republican leaders said Jan. 13 that such a repeal is not a party priority in 2011.

And several other states saw legislative moves toward or away from equality in recent weeks.

New Hampshire: State Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, and 11 cosponsors filed a bill that would repeal marriage equality and prevent New Hampshire from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples contracted outside the state. New Hampshire same-sex couples that married in the state before the bill became effective would continue to be recognized as married.

Same-sex couples that married in another state would no longer be recognized.

State Rep. Leo Pepino, R-Manchester, and five cosponsors filed a separate bill that would repeal marriage equality and prohibit civil unions or any other form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. The Associated Press reported Jan. 25, however, that Pepino will ask the committee hearing the bill “to retain it until next year when they have more time.”

Democratic Gov. John Lynch, who signed the original marriage equality bill into law, has said he would veto a repeal bill. But Republicans hold a veto-proof majority in both houses.

Mo Baxley, executive director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry, said in an interview that she thinks marriage equality supporters can sustain the governor’s veto by finding supporters among older, more libertarian-leaning Republicans.

“The public is solidly on our side,” Baxley asserted, but he cautioned, “We can’t just presume that we’ve got the votes . . . .We’ve got to be full throttle out there.”

She said state Republicans also plan to introduce a bill next year for a ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. With a spotlight on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, she said, a ballot fight in 2012 could help motivate a stronger conservative turnout.

Maryland: Marriage equality bills were introduced into both the Senate and House in the past week. Democrats have a majority in both chambers. Gov. Martin O’Malley, also a Democrat, has said he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk. Cosponsor Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, said in a press briefing Jan.y 21 that he expects a fight on the Senate floor and will need 29 votes out of 47 to break a filibuster. An up-or-down vote on the bill, after the filibuster is broken, will require 24 votes. Democrats have a 35 to 12 majority in the Senate. A public hearing on the Senate bill is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Hawaii: The full Senate on Jan. 28 passed a bill to legalize civil unions for same- and opposite-sex couples. It now heads to the House, where it is expected to pass. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, has said he will sign it.

Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed a civil union bill Jan. 31 giving same- and opposite-sex couples many of the same rights as married ones.

Iowa: The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill Jan. 24 that would allow voters to decide on a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. In the Senate, however, Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Indianola, attempted to bypass Senate rules and bring to the floor a vote on the Senate version of the bill. Democrats, who hold a 26-24 majority, voted down the attempt.

New Mexico: Three bills were introduced in the House and one in the Senate that would variously put before voters a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and ban New Mexico from recognizing such marriages enacted outside the state.

Wyoming: The House passed a measure Jan.y 25 to prevent the state from recognizing same-sex marriages contracted elsewhere. The next day, the state Senate passed a bill that would allow voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. A civil union bill introduced by openly gay State Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, failed by one vote to make it out of committee Jan. 28.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

In 6 months, 1,300 same-sex marriages in Argentina

Casa Rosada, or Red House, is the presidential palace where the Argentine marriage law was signed six months ago

In the first six months since the same-sex marriage law was signed, almost 1,300 couples have registered through the registry office. And the wedding rate is rising, according to the Argentine newspaper Clarin.

Clarin reports that on Jan. 15, the Argentina Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (FALGBT) had recorded 1,283 marriages in all provinces, although the distribution is not proportional, since most occur in large urban centers.

Recording the most marriages was the province of Buenos Aires (490) and the city of Buenos Aires (465). Other regions reporting include Santa Fe with 90, Cordova with 85 and Mendoza with 47. They say “sexual diversity in the more conservative provinces takes more time.”

Of the couples married, 70 percent are males who have been together 12-15 years. Possible explanations from FALGBT are because their lives are already consolidated and for health reasons they need to take care of each other. Younger couples prefer to try living together before marriage.

“Today there is no rush, because it is a right and may be exercised at any time,” says the head of FALGBT.

He said the first to marry were militants who brought the issue to the public. But now that the law has been in effect for awhile, many more are taking advantage and the rate of couples marrying is increasing.

Now, after marrying, a growing number of couples are beginning the process of adoption.

How has life changed for those who have married? One married woman says it is symbolic that the state recognizes her relationship and protects her at work and reassures her that if something happens to her, her wife has the tools to protect her. Another says it has to do with dignity, respect and having a sense of equality as well as the civil rights she can access through the law.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Sarah Palin; Ron Natinsky; high court rejects challenge to D.C. gay marriage law

1. Sarah Palin is, not surprisingly, totally unapologetic (video above). In her first interview since the Tucson shooting (if you call an appearance on Fox News an interview), Palin says she’s been falsely accused of being an accessory to murder (her words, not ours). But Palin says she’s not going to let that lie live. No sir, she’s not going to sit down or shut up. In fact, the only reason the map with the rifle crosshairs was removed from her PAC’s website after the shooting is that some graphic artist decided on his own to take it down. But Palin’s not really even sure whether it’s been taken down or not. Besides, everyone uses those maps, just like everyone knows what “blood libel” means, you stupid media people. You probably think she should just say the two words that any decent human being would say after a tragedy like this — “I’m sorry.” Silly you.

2. District 12 Dallas City Councilman Ron Natinsky confirmed that he plans to run for mayor. Although he represents a conservative district in far North Dallas, Natinsky has been fairly supportive of the LGBT community, and he’s been endorsed in the past by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

3. BREAKING: The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a group seeking to overturn same-sex marriage in Washington, D.C.

—  John Wright

N.H. lawmakers seek to repeal gay marriage

Welcome to 2011, the year in which we’ll have to prove we still know how to play defense. Take, for example, New Hampshire, where state lawmakers have already filed four draft bills seeking to repeal same-sex marriage, which was legalized in 2008. It’s unclear how the bills would affect the 1,500 same-sex couples who married last year, but if you’ve always dreamed of tying the knot in the Granite State, you may want to hurry up and do it. The Telegraph reports:

While some House members work to craft the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, others could work through the spring to shape the repeal legislation, sending a bill to a vote by the end of the legislative session in July, said state Rep. Leo Pepino, a Manchester Republican, who introduced one of the proposals.

With a 297 to 103 advantage in the House, and a 19 to 5 divide in the Senate, Republicans could have the two-thirds majority necessary to override Gov. John Lynch, who has promised to veto any repeal bill.

In 2008, the Democratic-led legislature passed the marriage law with 198 votes in the House and 14 in the Senate, becoming the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I think we have the votes (to repeal),” Pepino said last week. “We have a lot of really good conservatives and a good conservative doesn’t believe in gay marriage. … It’s a matter of ethics.”

—  John Wright

Gay Dallas couple legally weds in Texas, aims to bring ‘e-marriage’ to the same-sex masses

Mark Reed, left, and Dante Walkup

John Wright  |  Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Each year countless gay and lesbian couples travel from Texas to places where same-sex marriage is legal to tie the knot.

But Mark Reed hopes same-sex couples in Texas will soon be able to conveniently — and legally — marry without even leaving the state.

Reed, a board member for the national LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, recently married his longtime partner, Dante Walkup, at the W Dallas Victory hotel.

Their “Skype” wedding was officiated via teleconference from Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal, and they received their license in the mail a short time later.

It’s called “e-marriage,” and it’s a sort of high-tech version of the proxy wedding traditionally held when one of the parties can’t be physically present — because, for example, they’re in the military stationed overseas.

“The reason we wanted to do it this way is because we wanted to have a wedding here in Dallas with our family and friends,” Reed said. “It was very important that all of our family came. It was the first time they actually met, even though we’ve been together 10 years. If we had to go to D.C., there’s no way we could have had the people there who we wanted to be there.”

Reed and Walkup, co-owners of WDM Lighting on Oak Lawn Avenue, were married in a conference room at the W hotel on Oct. 10, in front of about 80 people with a 6-by-8-foot screen looming behind them.

The couple had rented a similar room at a W hotel in Washington, where marriage quality activist Sheila Alexander-Reid officiated the wedding.

“When we walked down the aisle, as soon as we reached the front, she comes on the screen like The Wizard of Oz,” Reed said. “It was beautiful. It wasn’t make-believe. It was like she was really there.”

Although Reed and Walkup were able to hold their ceremony in Dallas, they had to go to D.C. beforehand to register. And Reed said while D.C.’s marriage law has no provision against e-marriage, the validity of the procedure could theoretically be challenged in court.

That’s why the couple is now working with legal experts and legislators from states where same-sex marriage is legal to draft statutes that would solidify the practice. Reed and Walkup traveled this week to Michigan for a symposium on e-marriage.

While the couple has no intention of using their case to challenge Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage, Reed said they want to make it more convenient and less expensive for same-sex couples to legally wed.

Reed is also in the process of changing his surname in a Texas court, and he’s been fighting The Dallas Morning News — thus far unsuccessfully — to print their announcement in “Weddings” instead of in another section called “Commitments.”

“It’s like the more equal we can get through creative ways, we’re going to do it,” Reed said. “It’s just important to do anything we can to find creative ways around inequality.”

—  John Wright

First gay couples marry in Argentina

VICENTE PANETTA  |  Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — After a 27-year courtship, two men on Friday, July 30 became the first gay couple to wed under Argentina’s historic same-sex marriage law — the first of its kind for a Latin American nation.

Jose Luis Navarro, 54, and Miguel Angel Calefato, 65, tied the knot in provincial Santiago del Estero in an early morning ceremony where a civil registry official used a pen to cross out “man and woman” on the marriage license and wrote in “contracting parties.”

“Respect has prevailed over prejudice,” Navarro, an architect, told the newspaper El Liberal.

He said he met his new husband, now a retired office worker, while vacationing at a beach resort nearly three decades ago, and “there was chemistry from the first moment.”

Argentina became the first country in Latin America to permit gay marriage after President Cristina Fernandez signed the law July 21. The legislation was passed by both houses of Congress despite fierce opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.

The law declares that wedded gay and lesbian couples have all the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexual marriages, including the right to inheritance and to jointly adopt children.

Elsewhere in Latin America, gay marriage is also allowed in Mexico City, while same-sex civil unions granting some rights are legal in Uruguay and in some states in Mexico and Brazil. Colombia’s Constitutional Court has granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to health insurance plans.

Nine same-sex couples also married in Argentina before the law passed, having successfully petitioning judges for the right. But some of those weddings had been challenged in courts.

Navarro and Calefato’s wedding was the first of many expected in coming weeks. Hours later, agent Alejandro Vanelli and actor Ernesto Larrese said “I do” in the capital, Buenos Aires, after 34 years as partners.

“What comes now is more love, more freedom, and that can’t be anything but positive,” Larrese said.

At least three more same-sex marriages are scheduled for the weekend.

Mexico City tourism officials have offered a free honeymoon as a gift to the first couple to marry in Argentina, but Navarro said he and Calefato were reluctant to accept.

“It seems superficial to think of marrying just to win a prize,” Navarro said.

—  John Wright

Peru jumps on South American equality bandwagon with proposed civil union law

Jose Vargas

A congressman from the ruling party in Peru will introduce a civil union bill in the legislature, according to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

The bill would give same-sex couples the same economic rights as married opposite-sex couples but would not allow them to adopt.

The bill will be introduced by José Vargas of the APRA ruling party, but he will do so as an individual, not on behalf of his party in, to avoid jeopardizing the current government. He urged support from all political sides.

According to the website Living In Peru, the gay movement in Lima was surprised about the legislation and said Vargas acted on his own without consulting them. The community fears a civil union law could prevent marriage equality in the future.

Last week Argentina legalized same-sex marriage. Uruguay began debating upgrading its civil union law to marriage. A marriage law was introduced in the legislature in Paraguay, and Chile began debating civil unions.

Translation assistance by Miguel Flores.

—  David Taffet

It’s official in Argentina: President Cristina Fernandez signs gay marriage bill into law

Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez, signed into law on Wednesday a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. From the Associated Press:

“Today we are a society that is a little more egalitarian than last week,” Fernandez said at the signing ceremony.

Representatives of groups for gays and lesbians cheered, crying out “Equality, equality!”

The law, which was approved by the Senate last week following earlier endorsement by the lower house, grants same-sex couples the full legal protections and responsibilities that marriage gives to heterosexual couples, including the ability to inherit property and to jointly adopt children.

Washington-based LGBT leader Bob Witeck happened to be in Argentina for Wednesday’s ceremony. Via Rex Wockner, here’s a portion of Witeck’s report:

In her office, after her official act was complete, she was captivating, dramatic, ebullient, intense and embracing — still touched by the poignancy of the signing ceremony itself.  After she signed the legislation in the public space downstairs, we witnessed hundreds of the attendees inside the room and outside as well, begin to press forward to touch her, hug her, hand her flowers, seek photos with her — in a throbbing human crush that probably mirrors the passionate nature of Argentinian public life most of us merely know from history or films. It was a scene of such emotion that as a lifelong resident of Washington DC, I cannot imagine any such event resembling this scene taking place in the White House or in many executive mansions — and simply because of the risk of physical harm alone to the President or others in the pushing, pressing and jubilant crowd on the floor.

Witeck points us to this Spanish-language blog that has posted a three-part video of the ceremony. We’ve posted the final segment above.

—  admin