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

Transgender goats and genetic manipulation

Intersex ‘goys’ created in New Zealand lab

Today I saw a headline online that immediately caught my attention: “Scientists create lady goats trapped in male bodies”.

My first question was, how do the scientists know the goats are trans? (The writer uses the term “transgender” in describing them.) How could the goats tell them?

I never claimed to be an expert on terminology involving gender variance and have recently discovered that I actually know far less than I thought did. But still, doesn’t being trans involve having a physical gender that does not match up with the individual’s mental, emotional and/or spiritual gender? And if that is at all accurate, how would a scientist know what a goat is thinking or feeling and be able to determine the animal is trans?

Then I read the article and realized that what they are really talking about are goats that have been genetically manipulated to be intersex. They have male genitalia, but are sterile and are otherwise female. The whole point to this scientific exercise, taking place at a genetic research institute in New Zealand, is to see if the genetically altered goats, called “goys,” are able to produce milk closer in makeup to human breast milk.

After reading the article — which is more of an opinion piece, by Stephen Messenger at TreeHugger.com, than a news story — I have to say I share some of Mr. Messenger’s concerns over this kind of “toying with nature.” I do understand the nature of science and experimentation and the need for new discoveries and inventions. But these “goys” are living, breathing, feeling creatures, and I don’t think that we have the right to manipulate their very beings that way.

(I had a bit of a problem with some of Mr. Messenger’s language, too. I wasn’t sure if he was horrified that these goats had been genetically altered for science, or if he was horrified at the thought of them being transgender/intersex.)

But I was interested in the questions this experiment raises in terms of the “nature or nurture” argument. It isn’t the same exact thing, of course, because these goats are intersex and trans (not gay or bi). Still, it is an example, once again, that gender isn’t as simple as some people want to believe it is.

—  admin

Joel Burns is YouTube Gold

Joel Burns

Joel Burns hit the top of the YouTube charts with his anti-bullying video and it’s having an impact, as we wrote in this week’s Dallas Voice.

On Thursday, the two-week-old “It Gets Better” video hit 2 million views. It continues to receive more than 2,000 views per hour.

For the month it is the most discussed video in News & Politics and received the most votes as favorite video this month as well.

And the video is popular around the world.

It’s the No.1 1 News & Politics video this month in Sweden.

In News & Politics, it’s No. 2 in Canada and the United Kingdom, and in Australia and Ireland, it’s No. 3.

It’s in the top 10 in India, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa and France. Although not as popular in Russia, it’s still ranks No. 105 there and it hasn’t been translated into Russian, as far as I know.

In all, the video gets 46 YouTube honors.

According to the YouTube map, it’s been seen in every country in the world except a couple in central Africa.

Through yesterday, the daily number of viewers has continued to steadily grow. The YouTube page has gotten more than 27,000 comments. Of the 2 million views, only 525 clicked dislike before leaving the page.

—  David Taffet

Obama appoints gay man as ambassador to New Zealand

The White House has announced that President Obama has announced an openly gay man as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.

David Huebner is the head of the China Practice and the International Disputes Practice of Sheppard Mullin Richter  Hampton LLP, and also a founding board member and former board co-chair for the Gay  Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Huebner is former chairman of Coudert Brothers LLP.  He is a native of Pennsylvania and a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University, where he majored at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  He is also a graduate of Yale Law School.

—  admin