Map: Snow Covers Ground in 49 of 50 States

Snow

Wake up to snow this morning? You're not alone. Florida is currently the only state, including Hawaii, without snow on the ground:

"…snow is present in 69.4 percent of the lower 48, which is more than double than December.  This is extremely unusual, though it's hard to put a date on when this last happened because records aren't kept on this kind of event."


Towleroad News #gay

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Marriage Equality Top Agenda Items in Three States

As legislatures begin convening around the country, marriage equality was front and center today in the two of the three states on the brink of enacting equal marriage.

Today in his State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated his call for marriage equality in the Empire State.  The newly inaugurated governor said, “Make New York the progressive capital of the country.  If you believe in social justice, then let’s pass marriage equality in New York.”

With Governor Cuomo in office, marriage equality could soon be reality in New York.  HRC’s work around the state resulted in important victories on November 2 and a net pick up of two pro-equality votes in the state Senate.  With the possibility of marriage equality looming, New York is one of HRC’s priority states in 2011.

HRC’s Brian Ellner was at Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address and has been on the ground in New York heading our Campaign for New York Marriage.  He reported:

“It was inspiring today hearing Cuomo pledge to once again make New York the progressive capital of the nation and achieve the social progress that made the State famous.  This statement from one of our most stalwart allies sends a clear signal and gives us momentum as we move into the legislative fight.”

Marriage equality is also a possibility in two other East Coast states.  In Rhode Island, Governor Lincoln Chaffee today mentioned the marriage bill in his inaugural address saying, “I urge the General Assembly to quickly consider and adopt this legislation. When marriage equality is the law in Rhode Island, we honor our forefathers who risked their lives and fortune in the pursuit of human equality. Rhode Island today must be as welcoming to all as [the state's founder] Roger Williams intended it to be.”

In Maryland, several pro-equality lawmakers were elected November 2, increasing the chances of a marriage equality bill.  Governor Martin O’Malley has said publically that he would sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Wyoming GOP Plans To Block Recognition Of Gay Marriages From Other States

GOP lawmakers in Wyoming plan to introduce legislation banning the recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. Such a move failed in 2009, but the plan is to put the issue to voters.

State law defines marriage as a legal union between a man and woman, but Wyoming also recognizes marriages performed in other states. Rep. Owen Petersen of Mountain View says that raises questions about what happens when gay couples from other states move to Wyoming. Petersen and Sen. Curt Meier of LaGrange say they plan to co-sponsor a resolution that would let voters decide whether to amend the state constitution to clarify.

Joe. My. God.

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HRC Focuses on Seven Key States in Fight for DADT Repeal

HRC is keeping up the fight as the momentum continues in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Our repeal efforts have reached all corners of the country, but in the waning days of the lame duck Congress, we have focused closely on a handful of states, whose Senators are considered key votes for repeal.  Those states are: Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, and West Virginia.

HRC field staff has been on the ground in these states creating grassroots support for DADT repeal.  We have mobilized veterans to speak out in favor of repeal, generated thousands of phone calls and written communications to Senators, and generated earned media.  This week we’ll be launching targeted action alerts to those states to generate even more grassroots contacts.

Today Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Rep. Patrick Murphy, two champions of repeal, introduced a stand-alone repeal bill in the House on the heels of an identical bill introduced in the Senate by Sens. Lieberman and Collins last week.  Our work isn’t over yet.  We must make sure we have 60 votes in the Senate to move forward on debate of the bill and that House members know this is a priority for fair-minded Americans as well.  Contact your Senators now and tell them to support repeal.  If you live in one of the seven key states, send a message to your Senators here.  Our voices are more important now than ever before.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Maggie Gallagher: Prop 8 Could Mean The End Of Marriage In The United States

This had to be emailed to me because NOM has blocked me from subscribing to their YouTube channel. WhatEVER for?

Joe. My. God.

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The United States of Auto-Complete

Here’s what Google thinks the next words should be when you enter the name of a state. Hawaii, FTW.

(Via – Gothamist)

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

GLAD Files Second Suit Against Federal DOMA for Married Couples in Three More States

And the word is now official. Via Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD):

Today Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed its second major, multi-plaintiff lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the government’s denial of protections and responsibilities to married gay and lesbian couples. Today’s action specifically addresses married couples in Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and comes on the heels of GLAD’s Massachusetts Federal District Court ruling this summer finding DOMA Section 3 unconstitutional.

“DOMA must fall. In 1996, when Congress passed DOMA, the stated goal was to harm gay people and same-sex families with this law, and sadly, it has succeeded. Married gay and lesbian couples fall through the federal safety nets that exist for other married people,” said Mary L. Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director for GLAD. “We have to keep the pressure on and get DOMA off the books before it does even more harm.”

In Pedersen et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, GLAD represents five married same-sex couples and a widower who have all been denied federal rights and protections simply because they are married to a person of the same sex.

“Getting married was extremely meaningful to Ann and me,” said Joanne Pedersen, who, with her spouse Ann Meitzen, is a plaintiff. “We were shocked to discover that the federal government essentially looks on ours as a second-class marriage.”

Filed today in Federal District Court in Connecticut, this suit addresses DOMA’s denial of marriages in connection with federal employees and retirees benefits programs, Social Security benefits, survivor benefits under federal pension laws, work leave to care for a spouse under the Family Medical Leave Act, and state retiree health insurance benefits that are controlled by federal tax law. Several plaintiffs who have paid additional federal income taxes because they cannot file a joint federal tax return as a married couple will join the suit once they are officially turned down for refunds from the IRS.

More below the fold.

Also today, the American Civil Liberties Union, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison, and the New York Civil Liberties Union, filed a different lawsuit challenging DOMA, Windsor v. USA.

“Every day that DOMA stands, it arbitrarily divides married couples into two categories,” said Gary D. Buseck, GLAD’s Legal Director. “And the extra burdens that DOMA has imposed on Massachusetts families since 2004 are now being endured by families in Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire.”

Passed in 1996, DOMA Section 3, now codified at 1 U.S.C. section 7, limits the marriages the federal government will respect to those between a man and a woman. Section 2 of DOMA — not at issue in GLAD’s lawsuit — allows states to establish public policies about what marriages they will and will not respect.

In both Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, GLAD’s earlier DOMA case, and now in Pedersen, GLAD argues that DOMA Section 3 violates the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection. GLAD also contends that DOMA Section 3 is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into the law of marriage, always considered the province of the states.

While Pedersen v. OPM focuses on certain federal programs, DOMA Section 3 cuts across virtually every area of federal law. Married same-sex couples cannot, for example, rely on the protections accorded to military families to provide for their spouses, or sponsor a foreign spouse to reside in this country.

Each of the plaintiffs in Pedersen was qualified for and applied for a spousal benefit or protection like other spouses. However, because the relevant agencies had no choice but to apply DOMA, and DOMA prohibits any federal recognition of the lawful marriages of gay and lesbian couples, all the protections were denied.

The current plaintiffs in Pedersen v. OPM are the following:

Joanne Pedersen (57) and Ann Meitzen (60) of Connecticut have been together for 12 years, and were married in 2008. Joanne, a retiree from the Department of Naval Intelligence, is unable to put Ann, who has serious and chronic lung conditions, on her health insurance plan.

Jerry Passaro (45) of Connecticut was married in 2008 to Tom Buckholz, his partner of 13 years. Tom died two months later of lymphoma. While still grieving, Jerry discovered that because of DOMA, Tom’s employer could not provide him survivor benefits on Tom’s pension. He has also been denied Social Security death benefits.

Raquel Ardin (56) and Lynda DeForge (54) of Vermont have been together for over 30 years, and were married in 2009 by Raquel’s 89-year-old father, who lives with them. Lynda, a postal employee, was denied family medical leave to care for Raquel, who needs regular and painful injections into her neck because of a military service-connected injury. Lynda could not use FMLA to care for Raquel after knee surgery this year.

Janet Geller (64) and Jo Marquis (70) of New Hampshire have been together for 31 years and were married in May 2010. Both are retired schoolteachers. Jan is unable to receive a health benefit from Jo’s retiree plan because of DOMA, which places additional financial burdens on them during their retirement.

Two other couples will soon be added to the case.

Suzanne (39) and Geraldine (40) Artis of Connecticut have been together for 17 years and married in 2009. They have three school-aged sons. Suzanne is a school librarian. Geraldine, a teacher by profession, has recently undergone three back surgeries and is unable to work. They pay at least 00 more in income taxes each year because of DOMA.

Bradley Kleinerman (47) and James “Flint” Gehre (44) of Connecticut have been together for 19 years and married in 2009. They have three sons that they adopted after serving as foster parents. Flint, a former police officer and teacher, is now a stay-at-home dad, while Brad works in human resources. Because of DOMA, they pay at least 00 more in income taxes each year.

GLAD’s legal team in Pedersen is led by Mary L. Bonauto and GLAD Legal Director Gary D. Buseck, with Staff Attorneys Janson Wu and legal fellows Liz Monnin-Browder and Ashley Dunn. Co-operating counsel on the case include Sullivan & Worcester LLP (Boston), Jenner & Block LLP (Washington, DC), and Horton, Shields & Knox (Hartford).

More information about the case, including the complaint and biographical information about the plaintiffs can be found at www.glad.org/doma.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Paranormal State’s Ryan Buell: Hardest Part Of Being Bi Is Dealing With What Other People Think Of It

My one friend jokes about me and he says "You got half a blue side, half a pink side. Which shirt are you wearing today?" I wouldn't say it's easier for us, I wouldn't say it's harder for us. To be honest, I don't have that many gay or bisexual friends. Here in this college town especially, where it's definitely more liberal and you see a little bit more sexual freedom and experimentation. Growing up and in college, I've met a lot of guys who are bisexual, you know, football players, athletes. Traveling in New York City and LA, you know, entertainment people who very much are bisexual. But that part is more of their secret part, that they may date a girl but then they have something on the side with a guy. My theory is, it's easier because it's not like you're lying to yourself all the way when you're dating a girl because you're generally attracted to her. It's not like that gender turns you off. I would say it's difficult in the sense that you do feel society telling you it's gotta be one thing or the other. That's kind of the hardest part right now, is saying you have to pick one.

—Ryan Buell, the 29-year-old newly out bisexual host of A&E’s Paranormal State, thinks it's still hard for bi dudes to get, uh, by

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright

Nine States File Brief With Federal Court Opposing Marriage Equality

It happened late in the day yesterday in what seems to be a clear reaction to last month's Prop 8 ruling. According to the Associated Press:

Tr Wyoming and nine other states have filed a gay marriage opposition brief to a federal appeals court in California.
The amicus brief sent Friday to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said that the Constitution does not require marriage to include same-sex couples. The 39-page brief also said that states, not federal courts, have final say in whether to allow same-sex marriages.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported that other states who joined the brief against gay marriage are Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia. They argued that same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right.

"If public affirmation of anyone and everyone's personal love and commitment is the single purpose of marriage, a limitless number of rights claims could be set up that evacuate the term marriage of any meaning," the brief said. The amicus brief was criticized by Jason Marsden, of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, a Denver-based gay-rights organization. He told the newspaper it was "very puzzling" that Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg joined given that he Wyoming Legislature last year defeated a resolution to ban recognition of gay marriages performed in other states.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

An Adoption Tale of 2 States, 9000 Miles Apart

In Australia's New South Wales, a gay foster father is celebrating what's believed to be the state's first approval of a homosexual adopting a child, and the state's parliament just approved a law permitting same-sex couples to adopt together. Meanwhile in Florida, Vanessa Alenier a lesbian woman in a committed relationship with Melanie Leon (pictured R-L), continues to fight to adopt a relative's infant who was taken by state welfare authorities after his mother was deemed an unfit parent. While one court approved the adoption, it's been appealed by the Department of Children & Families, citing a 1977 state law barring gays from adopting, putting the boy's legal status in limbo. Congratulations, Florida!


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Queerty

—  John Wright