Florida state senator introduces domestic partner registry bill

Florida Sen. Eleanor Sobel

Florida State Sen. Eleanor Sobel — a Democrat from Hollywood in Broward County near the southern end of the state — has introduced legislation that would create a statewide domestic partner registry and add “partnership” as a relationship status option to all state forms, according to an email today from Florida Together Federation.

Senate Bill 166 is slated to be heard in the Florida Legislature’s 2012 session, beginning in January.

In a written statement, Sobel — described by Florida Together officials as a longtime ally of the LGBT community — said that a “majority of Americans and Floridians support recognition for same-sex relationships,” and that it “no longer makes sense for the state to have just one category — married and everyone else.”

Michael Kenny, executive director of Florida Together, said that LGBT rights advocates are thrilled to see Sobel introduce the bill, but he acknowledged that there is still a long way to go.

Kenny said, “Having a bill filed is a long, long way from creating law. But as they say, even the longest journey begins with a first step and we are proud to have Senator Sobel start this journey with us and for us.”

Florida Together Federation is a statewide organization that brings together local LGBT groups in the state to share resources, skills and information in the battle for LGBT equality.

—  admin

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

MD Senator on anti-gay testimony: ‘What I witnessed from the opponents of the bill was appalling’

Yesterday, Tim did a post on how the testimony of Maggie Gallagher and other anti-gay leaders helped convince Maryland State Senator Jim Bronchin to support marriage equality.

Today, Bronchin issued a statement to announce his support for the bill, which we got from Equality Maryland:

“What I witnessed from the opponents of the bill was appalling.” Brochin said. “Witness after witness demonized homosexuals, vilified the gay community, and described gays and lesbians as pedophiles. I believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, but rather people are born one way or another The proponents of the bill were straightforward in wanting to be simply treated as everyone else, and wanted to stop being treated as second-class citizens.

Brochin added, “For me, the transition to supporting marriage has not been an easy one, but the uncertainty, fear, and second-class status that gays and lesbians have to put up with is far worse and clearly must come to an end.”

Keep it up, Maggie. Testify. You’re getting us votes. We need 24 votes in the Maryland Senate. Last week, the Washington Post whip count showed 20 votes on our side. Make that 21 now.

Maggie is zipping around the country to spew her gay-bashing. She was in Rhode Island yesterday. But, remember, when she had the chance, Maggie wouldn’t testify — under oath — during the Prop. 8 trial. That’s probably because, as David Boies noted, “a witness stand is a lonely place to lie.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

MD State Senator Reverses Opinion, Now Supports Marriage Equality

Democratic Maryland State Senator James Brochin, who up until now had been against marriage equality, has completely changed his position. He'll now be one of the 21 state senators who support Maryland's marriage equality bill.

Jb Brochin made the announcement during an appearance on a radio show on 630 WMAL:

"I'm not going to be a part of the vilification of gays on the senate floor…The people who are against the bill, all they did was demonize homosexuality, call them pedophiles, androids, and I just, I can’t oppose the bill and be on the same side as people who would do that.I t’s destructive, it’s insulting to the same-sex families who are trying to raise their kids.”

Before changing his mind, Brochin had supported civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. The state's marriage equality bill needs 24 votes to pass. Six state senators (all Democrats) are either undecided or have not publicly stated their position on the issue.

Testimony for and against marriage equality in Maryland has been in progress all week. We heard the wingnuts use human/robot marriage as a reason to not allow same-sex couples to marry. The week also saw Maggie Gallagher testify though NOM President Brian Brown wasn't very optimistic about her impact.

"Despite Maggie's powerful testimony, we know this committee today was stacked against us, and we expect the legislation to be on the Senate floor as early as next week."

Watch a short clip of her stale argument , AFTER THE JUMP.


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

Senator Gillibrand Named to Senate Armed Services Committee

Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a strong ally during efforts to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, was named to the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) for the 112th Congress. Along with other Congressional allies, Gillibrand fought to make repeal legislation a reality in 2010, and has been at the front of efforts to allow service members to serve openly since coming to the Senate in 2009.

Sen. Gillibrand previously sat on the House Armed Services Committee when she represented New York’s 20th District in the House.

“One of the reasons I came to Congress was to strengthen our national security and serve as a voice for our troops and military families,” said Gillibrand. “I am honored to once again serve on the Armed Services Committee to continue fighting for America’s troops and veterans.”

During the coming year, Gillibrand will join Sen. Joe Lieberman and the SASC Chairman Sen. Carl Levin on the committee, as they work with the Department of Defense to dismantle the “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” law, and oversee the transition to open service.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Senator Gillibrand stumps for Marriage Equality on The View

New York's Senator Kirsten Gillibrand cause a stir yesterday calling “marriage equality” one of the main issues she wants to work on in the time leading up to her 2012 election. It was made note of at Towelroad, Good As You, JoeMyGod, and Freedom to Marry blog.

Tacking away from economic issues she says:

“But there are other issues, I also want too work on marriage equality. I want to make sure everyone in this country can be married to the people they love.”

The comment is met with great applause by the studio audience and even a affirmative head bob from View Co-host Sherri Sheppard, who has had a rocky relationship with the gay community, on the issues of Prop 8 and HIV. Sherri? We embrace your evolution.

Let's also hope this is a sign that Gillibrand may be ready to join fellow New Yorker Jerry Nadler's House effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Nadler introduced H.R.3567 – Respect for Marriage Act of 2009, that would repeal DOMA in full. More on this bill here from Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry. The Senate could use a champion on this issue as no one ever introduced a Senate companion bill.

While it's probably true that actual chances for repeal of DOMA are remote in the 112th Congress (to understate it), that doesn't mean we can't work to shore up support and sponsors, so it can move more quickly when the time is right (2013?).

And of course, there is the unofficial bully pulpit Gillibrand holds in the Empire State. LezGetReal is reporting that State Senator Tom Duane intends to file the marriage equality bill “within weeks” and push for a vote by June. Melanie Nathan says Hopes are High for Marriage Equality in New York:

However, now Duane and other marriage equality supporters believe with the election of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his call for the legalization of same-sex marriage in his State of the State address earlier this month and his appointment yesterday of Erik Bottcher, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s liaison to the gay community, to a newly created cabinet post, the dynamic has changed to their favor.

They also see Cuomo’s poll numbers as a big plus for their cause… 68% of New Yorkers say they trust him to do the right thing for the state.

“I think the governor is starting in a strong political place with the people on his side and the wind at his back,” said Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda.

We can press this new cabinet member, Bottcher, to also make sure that the GENDA bill moves forward this year. Offering discrimination protection to the trans community, the New York Assembly passed it last session, only to have it killed in the Senate. Washington Blade reported Jan 13:

Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said the “political dynamic remains very promising” for passing a same-sex marriage bill as well as a transgender civil rights bill in New York.

Gillibrand is distinguishing herself as a real fierce advocate and a real star in the Senate. The entire segment is available here. She gave a report on her visit to her friend Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, calls Sarah Palin's remarks after the Tucson incident “not helpful” and “inappropriate.” She shows in this, and her recent Daily Show appearance, a real charisma for mass market TV appearances. Hopefully we'll see more of this. She is also credited with helping Senior Senator Chuck Schumer evolve into supporting marriage equality. She's a very good one to have in our corner.

Certainly, there are few people in the Empire State that won't pick up the phone when their assistant says, “Senator Gillibrand on line one.”

And, if history's any indication, few people will hang the phone up unpersuaded.

  • It's a good news week for marriage equality all around. Good news comes from a Daily Kos commissioned poll on this issue. Results showed that “conventional wisdom” that marriage equality is a loser with racial minorities seems to be in question.
  • In other news, the Supreme Court of the US told foes of marriage equality in DC they can stuff it. They rejected their challenge to the law, and request that marriage equality be put up to a popular vote via ballot initiative. More details here.

With the gays winning big Sunday Night at the Golden Globes, Maggie Gallagher and her friends at NOM must have their hands full in damage control this week. Isn't that shame?
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Watch: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Commits Herself to Nationwide Marriage Equality on ‘The View’

Gillibrand

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) appeared on The View today and reiterated her commitment to passing marriage equality in New York and across the country.

Said Gillibrand: "I also want to work on marriage equality. I want to make sure that everyone in this country can be married to the people they love."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP

(via good as you)



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Utah: mean-ass state senator Chris Buttars seeks repeal of school anti-bullying laws

How petty, small, mean, and bigoted does someone have to be to want to roll back protections for children in schools? Look no further than Turd Extraordinaire Chris Buttars. (Pride in Utah):

Senator “black babies are dark and ugly things” Chris Buttars was recently named as chair of the State Public Education committee, despite his call in 2010 to eliminate the 12th grade as “unnecessary.” It appears he plans to use his latest position of power as much possible in his war against civil rights. His proposed resolution, SJR 1, strips the State School Board of the power to make changes to their policies unless they are already provided by statute. In other words, take away the protections for straight and LGBT kids from bullying, and the non-discrimination rules for district employees.

And here is the money quote from Buttars, who seems to have difficulty with church/state separation:

“We’re in big trouble in our public education system. I didn’t realize how much until a month ago when I was asked to chair public education appropriations,” said Buttars. “We met and when we got done we were all so terrified we couldn’t believe it. This was right under our nose.”

“By accepting that, there’s no God because he deals in absolutes,” said Buttars. “This is an entire program to bring America down and I want to tell you right now it’s well entrenched in Utah.”

You can read his bill here.

NOTE: PRIDEinUtah will hold a rally on the opening day of the Utah Legislative session –January 24th, at 5:30pm in the rotunda of the Utah State Capitol Building.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Senator Snowe Joins Other GOP Voices Supporting Repeal

It has been an incredible few weeks up here in Maine. Along with my fellow organizers, David Turley and Jeremy Kennedy, I have been working around the clock and braving cold New England temperatures to keep the pressure on Maine’s senators to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.  We had a big breakthrough last night, when shortly after the House passed a standalone repeal bill, Senator Olympia Snowe announced her support of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  To have both of Maine’s Republican senators now in support of repeal is a wonderful testament  to the progress  made.

Last week we worked with the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland, Maine. Eager parishioners, some of whom were military veterans, signed petitions and called their senator to urge them to support repeal. Over the last several weeks, we have generated an absolute blitz of constituent  phone calls and letters from all over the state.

It could have been the petitions, handwritten letters delivered by local veterans, phone calls and meetings that helped move the ball down the field. Whatever it was, Snowe’s announcement told me that we had been successful in delivering the message that Mainers overwhelmingly support repeal. Thank you for all of your hard work!

Joining veterans on a visit to Senator Snowe's office to deliver hundreds of letters and petitions

To see the work of volunteers, veterans and organizers pay off is among the most rewarding feelings. We are all so overwhelmed by this progress, but we can’t yet rest on our laurels yet. We’re now thanking the senators for their support, and urging them to keep up the pressure to bring this to a vote before the end of the 111th Congress.

Contact your friends,  family, and neighbors and ask them to call their Senators and do the same. No matter where you are, I hope that you will call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to connect you to your Senators. Urge them to support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.  If you’d like to volunteer with us in Maine, please contact Jessica Osborn at Jessica.osborn@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Watch: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Jared Polis Talk ‘DADT’ Repeal on ‘Hardball’

Matthews

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) joined Chris Matthews on Hardball to discuss this weekend's vote in the Senate to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



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—  admin