Final bets at the finale of Team DV’s P-P-P-Poker Tourney

Ante up to the table

Team Dallas Voice and Pocket Rockets Dallas are raising money for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS by holding a P-P-P-Poker Tournament at clubs across town. After three weeks, the event has come to the grand prize final.

Because this is Dallas, not Vegas, the game play is free, so if you want to contribute to the LSR cause, bring cash to enter the raffle. Among the prizes available or that have been won are tickets to see Dolly Parton (we’ll resist the urge to call this one a “booby prize”), Ke$ha and Chelsea Handler,  tickets to the Texas Rangers and Lone Star Park horse races, Starbucks coffee, a set of poker chips, books, grooming supplies and much more … and the final grand prize: Two tickets on American Airlines anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

DEETS: Check out the Facebook event page here for details.

—  Rich Lopez

Equal Marriage Bill Passes Maryland Senate Committee

This post is from HRC Regional Field Director Sultan Shakir:

Moments ago, the Maryland State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee passed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, SB 116. This victory puts marriage equality one step closer to final passage. On behalf of HRC’s thousands of members and supporters in Maryland, we’d like to thank the seven members of the committee who voted yes, who are listed below.  The bill now heads to the full Senate where we’re working hard with our allies at Equality Maryland to secure the votes for passage. If you live in Maryland and would like to get involved in the effort to pass marriage equality, please email  

Maryland State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Members who voted yes on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act:

Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery County), Chair
Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D-Baltimore City) Vice-Chair
Sen. James Brochin (D-Baltimore County)
Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Montgomery County)
Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s County)
Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery County)
Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County)

Left to right, Sens. Frosh, Gladden and Brochin

Left to right, Sens. Forehand, Ramirez, Raskin and Zirkin

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

HAWAII: Civil Unions Bill Passes Final Hurdle, Passes To Desk Of Governor

Just in from Equality Hawaii!

Equality Hawaii, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, and the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, today applauded the Hawaii legislature for approving civil unions for the second time in ten months. The bill, which was passed in its amended form today by the Hawaii Senate on an 18-5 vote, now heads to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature. “We honor and thank the legislature today for their commitment to equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Hawaii, said Alan Spector, co-chair of Equality Hawaii. “For the second time in less than a year, legislators have dedicated themselves to providing dignity and respect to all families in the Aloha State.”

Congratulations Hawaii! Linda Lingle can SUCK IT.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Indiana House Passes Marriage Ban

INDIANA STATE HOUSE X390 (WIKI) | ADVOCATE.COMThe Indiana house of representatives approved a constitutional ban on marriage equality Tuesday evening with a 70-26 vote. Daily News

—  David Taffet

Canadian Transgender Rights Bill Passes House Of Commons

Early in the day on February 9th, 2011, a press release entitled Ontario Federation of Labour Calls on Federal Members of Parliament to Support Bill C-389 to Enshrine Trans Human Rights was published. From the press release:

Thumbnail Link: Ontario Federation of LabourAs Private Members’ Bill C-389, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), is put to third and final reading today, the Ontario Federation of Labour is calling on all members of parliament to vote in favour of the bill to protect the rights of trans-identified Canadians.

“This bill is about extending human rights to some of the most vulnerable among us,” said Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). “Denying the rights of some has never protected our society and has always undermined our integrity. It is past time that we extend human rights and criminal code protections to trans-identified people.”

The Canadian Human Rights Act and federal hate crimes laws do not explicitly protect people from discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Bill C-389, proposed by NDP MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas, B.C.), seeks to correct that by amending legislation to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination and adding crimes motivated by transphobia to the list of crimes treated as potential hate crimes.

“How many assaults, how many suicides will be enough to make us take action? One is too many,” said Ryan. “It is a national shame that trans-identified people have been allowed to experience discrimination and harassment for this long.”

The bill passed, although not with the numbers the OFL would have liked to have seen. The Vancouver Sun, in their article Human Rights Act to shield transgender, transsexual Canadians from persecution, reported this:

OTTAWA — The House of Commons passed a bill Wednesday that will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to protect transgender and transsexual Canadians from discrimination.

“It’s a great day,” said the bill’s author, NDP MP Bill Siksay. “It’s been in the works for six years, and it’s great to see people from all parties supporting the bill. This is not a partisan issue, it’s a human rights issue.”

When all heads were counted, 143 MPs voted for Bill C-389 and 135 voted against.

The bill was numbered Bill C-389. Suite 101 reported the following in Bill to Protect Transgendered Passes House of Commons:

[More below the fold.]

Bill C-389, introduced by NDP MP Bill Saskay and read for the first time in May 2009, provides rights and protections to the transgendered. The bill, opposed by the Conservative government but supported by the three opposition parties, passed third and final reading by a vote of 143-135.

…The purpose of the bill is to extend the concept of equality to transgendered persons in respect to all matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government. The legislation is to ensure the transgendered have equal opportunity and equal access in order to better meets their needs.

…Currently the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based upon race, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been issued. The amendments add both “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Two sections of the Criminal Code were also amended. Section 318 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to advocate genocide. Genocide is defined as killing a group or inflicting harm on an identifiable group with the intent to bring about its destruction. An identifiable group is defined as any section of the public that is distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. Bill C-389 amends the definition of identifiable group to include “gender identity” and “gender expression.”

The Toronto Sun, in their piece MPs pass bill to protect ill-defined group, chose a headline that reflected a social conservative arguments against the equality bill. One of the first paragraphs from their piece reads as follows:

The bill, which never defines what gender expression or gender identity are, amends both the criminal code and the human rights act to make it a crime to discriminate on those grounds. Those who do would face harsher sentences for any crimes or could face a complaint through the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Of course, there were some opposed to the bill, and this opposition is using the same religious right talking points that they do in the United States.

Image: Integrated Male and Female Restroom Sign; Link: Pam's House Blend tag: 'Bathroom'Another excerpt from the Toronto Sun piece cites the bathroom, and the “danger to children”:

Pastor Charles McVety, a family advocate and head of Canada Christian College, called the bill a danger to children.

“If ‘gender identity’ is enshrined in the criminal code of Canada, any male at any time will be permitted in girls bathrooms, showers and change rooms as long as they have an “innate feeling” of being female,” McVety said. “If I then try to stop such a man from showering with my little girl at the local pool I will be in breach of the criminal code of Canada and could face imprisonment for two years.”

McVety added that passing the bill will mean transgendered issues will end up in school lesson plans across Canada.

The religious right LifeSiteNews provided more on what the opposition to the bill states regarding C-889:

We find the whole thing appalling,” said Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition.  “We find the lack of opposition from church leaders especially was deafening.  The people are ignorant of it and what is going to happen next.”

“Hopefully the Senate votes it down or Parliament dissolves before it is signed into law,” he added.

The bill has been opposed by numerous religious and pro-family organizations including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, Campaign Life Coalition, REAL Women of Canada, and the Canada Family Action Coalition.

It has been dubbed a ‘bathroom bill’ because it would allow men who say they are women to use women’s washrooms, with a danger of increasing bathroom attacks against women.

Pro-family leaders also warn that the federal government will be forced to hire gender-confused individuals, which could cause big problems for the military and the RCMP, for example.  The government could even be required to pay for sex-change operations, and businesses could be obliged to hire transsexuals or install washrooms to accommodate cross-dressers.

And there is this looming regarding the bill becoming law: From the Suite 101 article Bill to Protect Transgendered Passes House of Commons:

Although Bill C-389 passed the House of Commons, the Conservative dominated Senate is likely to prevent the bill from passing into law.

Equality seems never to be easy, and civil rights protections for transgender people seems to me to be where the most contentious and difficult battles for freedom, equality, and justice are being fought.

The civil rights work required for passing protections for transsexual people, transgender people, and those who identify as both transgender and transsexual in Canada isn’t over yet.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

Hawaii House of Representatives Passes Civil Unions Bill

Aloha and Happy Saturday, Blenders! There is exciting news out of Hawaii to kick off the weekend. SB232, which establishes Civil Unions, passed its third and final reading yesterday in the Hawaii State House of Representatives by a vote of 31-19.

Usually not at a loss for words, Alan Spector needed a moment to compose himself before reacting to yesterday's vote by the state House of Representatives to legalize civil unions in Hawaii.

Spector was among about two dozen supporters of the civil-unions bill who quietly celebrated in the Capitol courtyard following the House vote — an outcome that was as emotional as it was expected.

“This shows that persistence pays off,” said Spector, co-chairman of Equality Hawaii. “This is a great day for Hawaii.”

The YES votes were Reps. Belatti, Brower, Carroll, Coffman, Evans, Hanohano, Hashem, Herkes, Ichiyama, Ito, Jordan, Keith-Agaran, Chris Lee, Marilyn Lee, Luke, Marumoto, McKelvey, Morikawa, Morita, Nakashima, Nishimoto, Blake Oshiro, Marcus Oshiro, Pono, Rhoads, Saiki, Speaker Say, Takumi, Thielen, Wooley, and Yamashita.

The NO votes were Reps. Aquino, Awana, Chang, Ching, Choy, Cullen, Fontaine, Har, Johanson, Manahan, Mizuno, Pine, Riviere, Souki, Takai, Tokioka, Tsuji, Ward, and Yamane.

Rep. Cabanilla was excused from the final vote.

Because an amendment was added to SB232, it must go back to the Senate for a final vote before going to Gov. Abercrombie's desk. According to Hawaii Pride Alliance's Van Law, “The House made a clarifying amendment per recommendation from the Attorney General's office. It clarifies that state tax laws applies to married couples and civil union couples in the same way. Now the Senate has to vote to accept that change, which the Senate Judiciary Chair has indicated they should without much debate.”

“If everything looks OK, we'll probably just do our vote in the early part of the week,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui (D, Wailuku-Kahului).

“There is a commitment” to moving quickly, said Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D, Downtown-Waikiki), Senate majority leader.

Civil Unions isn't the only bill in play for the LGBT community during this legislative session. HB546 would codify employment nondiscrimination based on gender identity or expression. Currently GI is a protected class in housing and public accomodation. HB546 passed out of the House Committee on Labor, and has yet to be scheduled for a hearing by the Judiciary Committee.

The other bill is SB934, which deals with issues of bullying. The bill was heard on February 9th by the Senate Committee on Education, and passed out of committe by a vote of 5-0, 1 excused. SB934 specifically lists sexual orientation and gender identity in its text.

“Bullying” or “cyberbullying” means any written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication including but not limited to a communication shown to be motivated by a student's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability, gender, gender identity and expression, or other distinguishing personal characteristic…

Congratulations to all those working for equality in Hawaii, including Pride Alliance, Equality Hawaii, Unite Here Local 5, PFLAG, Da Moms, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, the interfaith community, and all those in the a'ina who have come out in support of equal rights.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

Hawaii Passes Civil Unions

HAWAII FLAG X390 (WIKI) | ADVOCATE.COMThe Hawaii house of representatives passed a bill Friday to legalize
civil unions in the state after more than a decade of contentious debate
with a 31-19, the Associated Press reports. Daily News

—  David Taffet

Hawaii passes Gay Civil Unions bill in House vote!

Joe posted earlier, “Things are moving fast for the civil unions bill in Hawaii. The Senate already passed the legislation. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved it. Next stop, the House floor — and that will happen soon:”

It happened!

State House members approved a proposal today to legalize civil unions in Hawaii.

Members approved the proposal by a 31-19 vote. One member, Rep. Rida Cabanilla, was absent.

The bill now goes back to the Senate, which passed a similar version of the measure last month. If the Senate agrees to changes in the bill made by the House, the measure would go to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who supports civil unions legislation.

The stain FOREVER remains on Linda Lingle’s legacy.


—  David Taffet

Wyoming House Passes Ban on Recognition of Same-Sex Unions

Wyoming's HB 74 passed the House on its third reading Monday. The bill bans recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions from outside the state:

Wyoming House Bill 74 now heads to the Senate, where its chances for passage appear good.

State Rep. Owen Petersen, R-Mountain View, the bill's sponsor, said the legislation is needed to resolve a conflict in Wyoming law, which defines marriage as a contract "between a male and a female person" but also recognizes any valid marriage performed outside the state. Other supporters have said the bill will help to hold back government intrusion into Wyoming traditions and culture.

Opponents said the bill is unnecessary, violates the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, and would create havoc for legally married out-of-state gay couples traveling in Wyoming.

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Wyoming House Passes Anti-Marriage Bill

Thanks to a newly-elected Tea Party-backed GOP majority, the Wyoming House today passed a bill banning the recognition of out of state same-sex marriages and civil unions. Similar bills had failed twice in recent years.

State Rep. Owen Petersen, R-Mountain View, the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation is needed to resolve a conflict in Wyoming law, which defines marriage as a contract “between a male and a female person” but also recognizes any valid marriage performed outside the state. Other supporters have said the bill will help to hold back government intrusion into Wyoming traditions and culture.

The bill is expected to pass easily in the state Senate.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin