Oregon governor signs reparative therapy ban into law

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown

Kudos to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown for signing House Bill 2307 into law, making Oregon the fourth jurisdiction — behind California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia — to protect LGBT youth from the dangers of conversion therapy.

The ban goes into effect immediately.

The law protects LGBT youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through practices that are linked to substance abuse, extreme depression and suicide.

Brown is the state’s second female governor and the country’s first out bisexual governor.

Banning “gay cures” has been gaining wider acceptance. The practice is condemned by every medical and psychological association.

In Texas, state Rep. Celia Israel introduced a similar measure that did not get out of committee.

Earlier today, we reported the Central Conference of American Rabbis condemned the practice as well.

—  David Taffet

Oregon’s new governor is first out bisexual governor in history

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Oregon’s secretary of State and incoming governor Kate Brown.

Oregon’s next governor will be the first openly bisexual governor in the nation when she takes office next Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Secretary of State Kate Brown succeeds embattled Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who announced his resignation this morning, Friday, Feb. 13.

Kitzhaber has been under fire for his fiance’s potential conflicts of interest. He was re-elected last November to a historic fourth term despite the ongoing controversy.

Because Oregon does not have a lieutenant governor, the secretary of state is next in line to become governor.

Denis Dison, interim executive director of the Victory Fund, which endorses openly LGBT candidates for office, praised the milestone in a statement.

“Kate Brown will make history as the first openly bisexual American to become governor, and that makes us and the entire LGBT community extremely proud,” he said. “More importantly for Oregonians, she’s a dedicated, passionate and impressive public servant who’s ready for this challenge. We believe in Kate Brown and her ability to lead Oregon through this difficult moment.”

The Victory Fund endorsed Brown in her 2008 campaign for secretary of state and in her 2012 re-election bid. Upon assuming the office of secretary of state in 2009 she became the first openly bisexual statewide elected official in American history.

Brown lives in Portland, Ore. with her husband of 15 years Dan Little. They have two adult children from Little’s earlier marriage.

—  James Russell

UPDATE: Will gay Oregon judge legalize marriage today?

Judge Michael McShane

Judge Michael McShane

UPDATE 1: Judge Michael McShane declared Oregon’s marriage ban unconstitutional. The ruling was expect and couples lined up for licenses even before the ruling was released, according to Associated Press. The state is not expected to appeal, but there was no announcement of when marriage equality begins.

In his 26-page opinion, Shane wrote, “At the core of the Equal Protection Clause … there exists a foundational belief that certain rights should be shielded from the barking crowds; that certain rights are subject to ownership by all and not the stake hold of popular trend or shifting majorities.”

UPDATE 2: The first marriages have already taken place in Oregon, according to The Oregonian.

ORIGINAL POST:

Judge Michael McShane will rule on Oregon’s marriage ban at noon (2 p.m. Central time) today.

McShane and his husband are raising a child together.

Oregon’s attorney general said she would not appeal if the marriage ban is overturned and declined to defend the law when the case was heard in McShane’s court on Wednesday.

Should McShane not overturn the marriage ban making Oregon marriage-equality state No. 19, Oregon United for Marriage has enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November.

So the real question is whether marriage equality comes to Oregon this afternoon or will couples have to wait until later in the week. Also, how embarrassed is everyone in Oregon that Arkansas couples were able to marry in marriage-equality state No. 18 first? I mean Arkansas. Sheesh.

—  David Taffet

NOM loses, Idaho governor loses and Ark. attorney general loses, so all appeal

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Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum

Judges in Idaho, Oregon and Arkansas just didn’t seem to be in the mood to listen to state officials today who didn’t care for their rulings. Virginia rolled out the same old, tired arguments that have been struck down across the country in its appeal to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter seems desperate to prevent his state’s same-sex couples from marrying beginning Friday. The trial judge refused to put a stay on her decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

Otter said he would ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay pointing to the “unmitigated disaster” that occurred in Utah after that state’s marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional.

Although he didn’t explain the disaster, he probably meant that about 1,300 couples married in Utah between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a stay. Those couples’ marriages are recognized by the federal government for tax and benefit purposes. Utah announced that it would allow those couples to file joint state taxes as well.

So you can see what a disaster marriage has been in Utah, but with the Supreme Court stay, Otter is exaggerating by calling the disaster unmitigated. The court mitigated the horror of couples filing their taxes jointly and, in most cases, paying more.

The 9th Circuit is not expected to grant a stay to Idaho. That circuit includes marriage-equality states Washington, California and Hawaii and has ruled in favor of marriage equality in the past. However, the Supreme Court is likely to stay the decision until appeals are exhausted. That may take several weeks.

Speaking of 9th Circuit states, Oregon is the latest state whose marriage law challenge has begun. Last week, the National Organization for Marriage filed papers to defend the marriage laws because the state attorney general declined to defend it.

Today, a federal judge declined to allow NOM to participate in the case.

“This is an Oregon case. It will remain an Oregon case,” U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane said.

NOM plans to appeal the judge’s decision to the 9th Circuit as well. The judge cited Hollingsworth v. Perry, better known as the Prop 8 case. That Supreme Court decision last year said interveners had to have standing. An organization can’t intervene just because they don’t like the interpretation of government officials.

Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum is representing the state in the case, but she called the law indefensible.

In Arkansas, the attorney general continues to ask for a stay because of confusion over the ruling. The ruling said the state’s marriage law was unconstitutional. Some county clerks have begun issuing licenses while others have not.

The confusion seems to be among county clerks who don’t seem to want to comply with the ruling, not with the couples who read the ruling and went to the county clerks’ offices and asked for licenses. About 400 couples have married in Arkansas already.

Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee called for the judge’s impeachment.

In Virginia, the state argued that 1.3 million voters passed an amendment. That argument was knocked down earlier this week in Idaho. Virginia also argued the plaintiffs do not have the right to redefine marriage, and they can’t give children a mother and a father.

—  David Taffet

A week of the worst reasons to deny marriage equality ever

Steve Brashear

Gov. Steve Brashear

Last week proved to be a week of stupidity for those arguing for discrimination against same-sex couples. The excuses are becoming both more inane and ridiculous and more hateful than ever.

In Kentucky, Gov. Steve Brashear will defend the marriage ban because equality threatens “long-term economic stability through stable birth rates.”

He didn’t explain what that means. Only straight couples who are married have children? If Kentucky continues to ban same-sex marriage, gay people will marry people of the opposite sex and procreate? If gay people marry, straight people will no longer be able to have sex?

The governor’s office said it had no comment. In the original ruling overturning the state’s marriage ban, the judge ruled that using procreation as an argument for discrimination against same-sex couples “makes just as little sense as excluding post-menopausal (heterosexual) couples or infertile couples.”

In Oregon, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has ordered new marriage license documents to reflect the expected change in the state’s marriage laws, should that occur. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that covers Oregon has already expressed how it feels about marriage discrimination in its Proposition 8 ruling, which upheld a lower court ruling that overturned California’s marriage ban. In that circuit, Hawaii, California and Washington are marriage equality states.

So what Rosenblum did was prepare the state for a smooth transition to equality, if that occurs.

The National Organization for Marriage chimed in last week asking to defend the law. They charge Rosenblum with “dereliction of duty” for not finding arguments to support discrimination.

The Supreme Court’s Prop 8 decision that plaintiffs must have standing and be directly affected should preclude NOM from replacing Rosenblum as the defendant.

Oral arguments in the Oregon marriage case will be heard in U.S. district court on Wednesday. Rosenblum is not defending the state’s marriage ban, and the state is not expected to appeal should it be ordered to issue marriage licenses this week.

While Kentucky and Oregon defenders of discrimination displayed how stupid the arguments can get, Indiana showed just how contemptible a state can be.

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, an Indiana couple, sued to have their Massachusetts marriage recognized by their home state. Quasney has terminal stage 4 ovarian cancer. They have young children, and they want to make sure their kids get the death benefits they’d be entitled to if the parents were straight.

“The current rule of law does not allow for a hardship exception from the statute for one person or two people, as that would create inconsistency for all other citizens of Indiana,” the state attorney general wrote in a statement.

Wait, it gets worse.

The state argued gay people can get married as long as they marry someone of the opposite sex. In other words, you can marry whomever the state tells you to marry.

But the most disgusting statement was this one. In court documents, the attorney general said recognizing this marriage could raise false hopes for others because courts might eventually uphold the state’s gay marriage ban.

Since the Windsor decision last June that overturned parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, no court has upheld a state’s marriage ban. That’s the naive part. But that statement is truly one of the most hateful things said in this debate about the LGBT community.

The basis for refusing to recognize the marriage of one couple with a dying partner who want to protect their children is that gays and lesbians are narcissistic, greedy, selfish pigs. We only care about ourselves, and if we can’t have something personally for ourselves, no one else should, either.

Personally, I can’t imagine going through multiple surgeries followed by chemotherapy and having to deal with courts and attorneys and an attorney general spewing hate at me. But that’s exactly what Quasney did. Not because she’s selfish, but because she wants to make sure her two children are taken care of after she dies. She’s guilty of being a mom who loves her kids and wants to make sure they get what every other kid is entitled to.

I can’t imagine anyone in the LGBT community not sending her our love and prayers or good thoughts. I can’t imagine any gay or lesbian being as hateful and hurtful as Indiana’s attorney general paints us.

How did he come up with such a scenario? The only thing I can imagine is that he’s describing himself. He wouldn’t allow anyone to have something he can’t have.

On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that Indiana will comply with his order to list Sandler as Quasney’s spouse on her death certificate when the time comes.

On Friday, the state announced it will appeal.

—  David Taffet

Oregon could be one of the next marriage equality states

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum

Last week, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced the state would not defend its marriage ban in court.

Oregon is the only state on the West Coast without marriage equality, although the state recognizes marriages performed elsewhere and has a domestic partnership law. Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that declared parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, domestic partnerships are not recognized by the federal government as equivalent to marriage, and no federal benefits are derived.

Oregon United for Marriage collected petitions to get a measure on the ballot to repeal a 2004 constitutional amendment that voters passed. Opponents are working to put an Arizona-style gay discrimination law on the November ballot.

Because of the change in political climate and after seven judges have declared other constitutional amendments illegal in the past two months, Oregon United for Marriage thinks spending money on a repeal election is a waste of money.

The Oregonian thinks differently. In an editorial, the newspaper argues that Oregon voters have the right to undo a wrong it did in 2004 and would like to see marriage equality voted into law.

Oregon United for Marriage’s campaign manager Mike Marshall told the Oregonian he doesn’t like the idea of other people voting on his marriage.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: A 13-year-old uses his Bar Mitzvah speech to champion gay marriage

A 13-year-old Jewish boy championed for equality and same-sex marriage during his Bar Mitzvah speech recently. Duncan Sennett spoke at a synagogue in Oregon, a state that where gay marriage isn’t legal, and eloquently unravels the arguments used against equality.

Watch his video:

—  Steve Ramos

HRC and Our Allies Rally in Oregon

The following is from HRC volunteer Gregg Moreland:

Yesterday, HRC joined with Basic Rights Oregon and Organizing for America for a ‘Day of Action’ rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland.  We assembled with signs and banners in front of the KGW News Studio on the square during their noon newscast and also spoke with passersby to give exposure of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal efforts to Oregonians.

In Oregon, we have two very supportive Senators, so it is easy to sit back and do nothing on issues like this.  This week, as we wait to see what action the Senate might take, there is not time to sit back.

After we wrapped up everything in the square, several of the participants headed over to the Portland OFA headquarters where they will be on the phone to encourage people to call their Senators. We hope that you will do the same. Call the Capitol switchboard NOW at 202.224.3121 and ask them to connect you with your senator’s office.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Reinstated Oregon Teacher Seth Stambaugh Talks To Towleroad

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By now you've all read about Seth Stambaugh, the Beaverton, Oregon student teacher who lost his job last month after coming out to one of his fourth grade students. Stambaugh got his job back last Thursday and through his lawyer Lake Perriguey, has stated that that he "is joyous beyond belief" to have his fulfiling teaching job back. According to Perriguey, later that same day, Beaverton School Superitendant Jerome Colonna held a public "listening session" with the board of the school district and admitted that the complaint from a parent that resulted in Stambaugh's removal was handled improperly. I caught up with Seth and asked him some questions about his experience over the past six months.

SP: What was your initial reaction when you heard that your job would be reinstated?

SS: Absolute excitement. This is, and always has been, about the students. I am very excited to return to them.

SP: Did you ever receive an official apology form the Beaverton School District?

SS: I have not received any official or unofficial apology from anyone.

SP: Did they ever explain to you why they have now decided to give you back your job?

SS: I have not received any contact regarding my reinstatement, nor the decisions made that enacted it, from the Beaverton School District. I was informed of the decision for reinstatement by my Alma mater, Lewis and Clark Graduate School. From what I understand, the Beaverton School District now recognizes that they erred in judgment, but I have heard no apology nor any news regarding why the decision for reinstatement, which I am thrilled about, was made.

Read more from Seth, AFTER THE JUMP.

SP: You've said that getting your teaching position back is a "great first step" but that "it is only that, a first step." What are the other steps that you would see take place?

6a00d8341c730253ef0133f4cd82e3970b-250wi SS: I would like to see students thriving in Beaverton and beyond, be they queer or otherwise.  Students should know that marginalized people exist, in this instance gay people.  This is a great teaching moment where we can send the message that difference does not mean adversity.  The diversity between and among all people should be valued as inherent and beautiful.

SP: You said that when you were first dismissed that you felt as if you were being asked to go back into the closet. Have you felt less likely to reveal your sexuality to people since the controversy began?

SS: I came out of the closet when I was 16 in a very supportive family.  I was very lucky in that.  Their support, along with the support of the communities I have lived in, and that of my attorney, Lake Perriguey, have reaffirmed that queer is okay.  We do not exist in a social vacuum, and, as I said earlier, I value the diversity among and between people in terms of our differences as something that we, all as humans, can learn from.  Comfortableness about being out varies from person to person, understandably, but I have been out for a long time.  At the suggestion that I might have to become more closeted again, I feel absolute terror.  I think doing so would be a backwards step, and plan on being honest. 

SP: There's been a lot of debate from those who supported your dismissal about what a nine-year-old can and cannot comprehend. How do you feel about a fourth grader's ability to understand homosexuality?

SS: I was never given any indication that my marital status was an issue that could be so controversial.  Staff as well as other student-teachers at Sexton Mountain Elementary freely discussed their marital status and displayed pictures of their families…I did not realize that heterosexuality had to be attached to those valuable stories and photographs.

SP: Have you heard from the parent who apparently complained about your appearance and then about the controversial conversation?

SS: I have not heard from the parent in question, and would like to protect his or her confidentiality for the sake of their child.

SP: What has been the response from other parents from the school district?

SS: I have had a vast amount of support from parents in the district.  This is a learning moment for all of us, and I value it as such.

SP: Do you plan to pursue a discrimination lawsuit against the school district?

SS: In the words of Bartleby, The Scrivener, I would prefer not to. As an addition, I would also like to express my very sincerest of thanks to Portland Public Schools.  They were BEYOND accommodating and supportive during my interim internship.  I cannot express to them enough my gratitude, especially to my interim mentor teacher.  She is a fine educator, and I have learned so much from P.P.S.'s respect, dignity, support, appreciation for diversity, and guidance.  Again, thank you Portland Public Schools.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Seth Stambaugh Booted From Oregon Elementary For Telling Students He Cannot Marry Another Man

Seth Stambaugh, a 23-year-old graduate teaching student at Lewis & Clark College, says he was removed as a student teacher at a Portland, Oregon area elementary school because he told students he is gay. Or was it because he dared discuss the state's same-sex marriage ban?

CONTINUED »


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—  John Wright