30% of America’s Gays Are Married (Or Married-Ish). Not That Their States Recognize It

How excited WERE YOU when you found out that, for the first time, those door-knockers counting everyone up for the U.S. Census were going to include data on same-sex couples? Well, then you found out it wasn't really a perfect system, and the gays wouldn't exactly be totally on the radar. And now the hard(ish) data: One in seven of gay couples won't be identified as such. But that doesn't mean we don't know how many of you are living under the same roof. Big brother knows all!

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Queerty

—  John Wright

California Supreme Court Won’t Force State’s Defense of Prop 8

Some news out of the California state courts today on Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the Prop 8 case. Metroweekly's Poliglot section has a great summary here. This is part of the Prop 8 proponents' continuing saga of trying to force Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown to defend Prop 8 at the Ninth Circuit.

Sb They went to California state court to force the state to act, but the lower court summarily rejected that long-shot attempt. The Prop 8 proponents appealed, asking a higher California court to force the Governor's hand. Today, Schwarzenegger and Brown filed papers stating in no uncertain terms that they have the discretion to determine when and what to appeal and that any appeal in the Prop 8 case would be "frivolous". A few hours later, the California Supreme Court agreed with Schwarzenegger and Brown, as reported here.

This was the longest of long shots. Had the California Supreme Court come to any other conclusion, it would have raised any number of separation of powers issues.

As of now, since the Prop 8 proponents' organization is still the only party appealing Perry to the Ninth Circuit, the standing issue is still front and center.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Crist supports his state’s constitutional ban on marriage and civil unions

Yesterday, Charlie Crist announced on CNN that he supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. My post is on that news is here.

Last night, Crist’s campaign clarified those remarks, kinda. See, Charlie thought CNN’s Ed Henry was only asking him about Florida’s constitutional ban on marriage, not the amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the U.S. constitution. Charlie wanted us all to know he supports the state ban, not the federal ban. Now, why would Ed Henry ask a candidate for U.S. Senate a question about a federal ban? I mean, the Senate’s only voted on that very issue twice. Not buying it.

Plus, we already knew Crist supported a state ban, because he was vocal about that support in 2008 when Florida’s ban, Amendment 2, passed. Here’s what Crist said then:

Gov. Charlie Crist voted yes Tuesday on Amendment 2, which seeks to define marriage in the Florida’s Constitution as a union between a man and a woman. “I voted for it,” Crist said outside the polling place. “It’s what I believe in.”

It’s what he believes in.

Equality Florida has Crist’s statement after the CNN interview:

In an interview that aired today, I was not discussing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, which I do not support, but rather reaffirming my position regarding Florida’s constitutional ban that I articulated while running for Governor. In fact, the interviewer’s question reflected just that. I am fully supportive of civil unions and will continue to be as a United States Senator, but believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman.”

That’s ridiculous. Apparently, Crist believes it acceptable to enshrine bigotry in constitutions at the state level. And, as for that support of civil unions, well, here’s the language of Florida’s Amendment 2:

Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.

To be clear, “no other legal union” means civil unions. That’s what Crist voted for in November of 2008. So, Crist now says he supports civil unions, but supported his own’s state’s constitutional ban on civil unions.

Crist is a hypocrite. A big hypocrite. And, he’s opened himself up to the kind of media scrutiny that’s he been able to avoid for all these years. It’s time for the corporate media to apply the same standards they used to talk about Judge Vaughn Walker’s sexual orientation to Charlie Crist.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Brian Brown States That Perry Decision Is Critical

Note from Louise: This clip, taken July 14th prior to the NOM Summer Tour 2010 kick-off in Augusta ME, is one that we (Snooky and I) thought irretrievably lost to the computer gods- but found the other night that the files were indeed saved. 

Altogether there are 21 clips from that event available on my YouTube account; Snooky was able to get essentially the entire NOM rally including interviews Brian Brown granted with press media and local CBS affiliate WGME. 

Enjoy!

~Louise~

——————————————————- 

Brian Brown admits on camera:

Ultimately, the Perry case, which attempts to overturn Proposition 8 in California, would overturn ALL state marriage amendments, definitions of marriage. So it's a threat to ALL states, including Maine…I think everyone agrees that ultimately it's going to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

This isn't over. But it's a damn good start. Let those wedding bells ring!

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

NY State’s Senate Leader Won’t Stand With Anti-Gay Bigot

Video courtesy of Natasha Dillon, Queer Rising.

I’ve seen more than a few people opine that demonstrating, protesting and taking to the streets, or making our professed allies uncomfortable with our unapologetic demands are pointless, outdated, no longer effective, or counter productive.

In the past weeks, New York LGBT activists put that idea to a test, and pulled out a great symbolic win. In New York, battlelines are being sharply drawn between bigotry and equality. And leadership is losing the will to stand with bigotry, no matter how well entrenched its proponents are, or that they share a party. Last night, Democratic Senate Majority leader John Sampson ducked for cover rather than be the target of the raucous scene created by Queer Rising.

It’s a big symbolic win for the LGBT community in New York state.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos, please rec if you can.
The background is, there was a fundraiser last night for New York State Seantor Ruben Diaz. A Pentecostal minister, Diaz has been the single biggest impediment to the progress of LGBT affirmative legislation in New York state. He stood alone on the Senate floor and urged a no vote on the historic marriage equality bill last December. Unfortunately, despite a dozen senators taking to the floor in suport of equality, and only one Senator speaking against it, the vote failed.

Just this June, Diaz also used his committee position to vote down the movement of GENDA bill, which would have extended discrimination protection to the transgender community. (Yes, NY still does not have that, shamefully.)

Increasingly, the LGBT community is recognizing that equality in New York State can not move forward, so long a Diaz remains in the Senate. Removing Diaz is the single biggest victory LGBT New Yorkers, and their supporters, could score.

When local LGBT activists got wind that New York State Senate Majority Leader John Sampson lent his name and planned to co-host a fundraiser for Daiz, Queer Rising planned a protest. It’s all well and good to protest Diaz himself, but he is frankly, unreachable. He has told supporters:

“These election results will be vital to us as Christians and God-fearing people to keep our family, moral and traditional values that our ancestors left us and that the Bible teaches us.”

Another politician who can’t distinguish the Bible from the Constitution, or Democracy from Theocracy.

So activists have expanded their focus to include John Sampson’s complicity with LGBT disenfranchisement. The message: you can’t have it both ways any longer. You cannot stand with our community, and with those who fight us.

And looks like the pressure worked. The Advocate reports today:

New York state senate majority leader John Sampson, under fire from gay activists for his support of Democratic colleagues who voted against marriage equality, did not attend a re-election fund-raiser for state senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. on Thursday.

Sen. Sampson lent his name as a cohost of the fund-raiser, which activist group Queer Rising protested on a dreary late afternoon in the Bronx. Organizer Natasha Dillon told The Advocate that Sampson did not show, and that the only state senator seen was the troubled Pedro Espada, Jr., who faces a strong primary challenge and is under state and federal investigation.

Sampson is quoted in the Advocate article as saying he supports Diaz, and had a prior outstanding commitment. (Spending time with the family, perhaps?) But the article goes on to describe a recent meeting with New York Stonewall Democrats that gave Sampson a particularly hard time about simultaneously supporting marriage equality, and the reelection bids of those Democrats who would vote against it, including Diaz and Shirley Huntley of Queens, who is facing a serious primary challenger in Lynn Nunes.

Elizabeth Benjamin reported in The New York Daily News Monday:

Dem leader John Sampson gets a nasty earful from disgruntled LGBT activists

Furious gay advocates gave Senate Democratic leader John Sampson an earful in Brooklyn in an angry exchange that got so heated Sampson threatened to walk out.

He didn’t.

Nor did he budge on the advocates’ key issues during the two-hour meeting with the Stonewall Democratic Club.

Sampson has angered gay advocates with his pledge to support all Senate Dems seeking reelection, including the six who voted against the same-sex marriage bill, killing it, 38 to 24.

He’s also refused to promise to put the controversial bill up for another vote.

Granted, Sampson taking a pass won’t seriously affect Diaz’ fundraising numbers. And as handily as Diaz has won in the past, it’s unlikely to have an effect on the vote. Many in the equality-minded New Yorkers may need to resign themselves the the Diaz theocratic machine is unstoppable this cycle.

But politics is a game of alliances and who you stand with. Sampson, the Leader of the Senate, declined to stand with Rueben Diaz last night. And if Diaz returns to Albany next year, he will find himself increasingly marginalized. He is losing allies. His outdated, theocratic ideals are isolating him.

That’s the beauty of this symbolic victory. New York’s LGBT community, challenged Sampson, you can stand with equality or you can stand with bigotry. But you cannot stand for both. New York’s LGBT community has become very aggressive about pursuing equality. Fight Back New York PAC is one such effort that is spear-heading a “Send ‘em Packing” campaign, among others. They are well-funded, organized, strategically smart, and are already reverberating as a player.

State politicos also watched as the LGBT community played a key part in 86-ing Harold Ford’s hopes of unseating fierce LGBT rights advocate Kirsten Gillibrand from her US Senate seat, they roared to Gillibrand’s defense and Ford was dispensed with quickly.

So, Sampson made his choice, he ran for cover from the fire of LGBT activists.

He recognized that long-time stalwart of the Senate Diaz is on his way out. He may win in November, but he is already marginalized. Diaz’s criminal little BFF Hiram Monserrate has been run out of Albany on a rail. (Diaz was one of only 8 Senators to vote in support of Monserrate over a domestic violence incident with his girlfriend, while 53 voted for expulsion.) Other members of the corrupt little cabal Diaz runs with are living on borrowed time and Democratic machine inertia.

This cycle, Diaz has a primary challenger, a man named Charlie Ramos, who has been unambiguous in expressing his support for bringing marriage equality to New York and for the LGBT community in general. I’m sure he sees an opening, and equality minded New Yorkers would do well to escort him through it. Charlie Ramos’ campaign site is here, his Facebook page is here, his Actblue page is here.

The victory of bringing marriage equality to one of the most populist and influential states in the union, may even be worth a few out of staters breaking him off some buck (as this NYer did for Prop 8), or phonebank on his behalf. Ramos prevailing in the primary contest would play a very key part in moving LGBT politics forward in New York state, and ultimately the nation.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

MEXICO: Supreme Court Rules That All States Must Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

The wins keep pouring in! Late this afternoon Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that all 31 states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in the nation’s capital, which at the moment is the only place they are legal. Mexico City is a separate federal entity, much like Washington, DC.

In a 9-2 decision, the tribunal cited an article of the constitution requiring states to recognize legal contracts drawn up elsewhere. It did not specify what degree of recognition must be granted to same-sex couples. Mexico City’s same-sex marriage law, enacted in March, extends to wedded gay couples the right to adopt children, to jointly apply for bank loans, to inherit wealth and to be covered by their spouses’ insurance policies. Some of those may end up applying only in the capital. The Supreme Court ruled last week that same-sex weddings are constitutional — though it is holding separate discussions this week on the adoption clause. One of the justices, Sergio Aguirre, argued against adoptions by same-sex couples Tuesday, saying children might suffer discrimination as a result.

The ruling does not force any of the states to allow gay marriage, but surely helps clears the way for the more liberal parts of the country to move forward.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Partner denied sick leave by AT&T

Bryan Dickenson, left, and Bill Sugg hold hands in Sugg’s room at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson on Wednesday, Jan. 27. (Source:John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Despite 100% rating from HRC, company won’t allow gay man time off to care for ailing spouse

JOHN WRIGHT  |  News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.

For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.

After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.

But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.

As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.

After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”

But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.

“I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”

Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”

“There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”

Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.

The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.

Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.

“At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”

Through thick and thin

This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.

Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.

At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.

In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”

“And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”

Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.

This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
“That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.

“He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’

“That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.

Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.

Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.

Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.

When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.

In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.

Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.

When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.

That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.

Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.

Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.

Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.

But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.

“When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”

—  John Wright

So-so happy Texas

I just read an article on YahooNews. com, about a report on LiveScience.com that ranks the 50 U.S. states — and the District of Columbia — from “happiest” to “least happy.” Texas came in as the 16th happiest state.

Here’s an explanation on how they came up with the list: “The results are based on an examination of two data sets, one that included personal reports of happiness for 1.3 million Americans and the other that included objective measures, such as how crowded that state is, air quality, home prices and other factors known to impact quality of life.”

The list has Louisiana at the top, as the happiest state in the country. But then it says, “scientists caution, however, that the top spot, Louisiana, might not reflect current levels of well-being since the data were collected before the disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina. They are confident that data for the other states does accurately reflect happiness levels.”

The top 10 are: 1. Louisiana, 2. Hawaii, 3. Florida, 4. Tennessee, 5. Arizona, 6. Mississippi, 7. Montana, 8. South Carolina, 9. Alabama, 10. Maine. California was way down the list at No. 46, and New York placed dead last at No. 51 (remember, the rankings included the District of Columbia, which by the way, was No. 37.)

Here’s the interesting part: A similar study released last month used some different criteria and came up with a drastically different ranking. This study, also at LiveScience.com, says “states with wealthier, better educated and more tolerant residents are also happier on average. The reasoning is that wealthy states can provide infrastructure and so it’s easier for residents to get their needs met. In addition, states with a greater proportion of artists and gays would also be places where residents can freely express themselves.”

In other words, the “gayest” states are also the happiest states.

This report’s top 10 are: 1. Utah, 2. Hawaii, 3. Wyoming, 4. Colorado, 5. Minnesota, 6. Maryland, 7. Washington, 8. Massachussets, 9. California, 10. Arizona.

Texas dropped to No. 26 on this list, and Louisiana was down at No. 40 (no word if this info was gathered pre- or post-Katrina) and New York moved up to No. 35. This list didn’t include D.C., and West Virginia was No. 50 on the list — in other words, it was the least happy state.

I personally don’t think that any such ranking would actually be helpful to any individual in decided where to live to have the best chance at happiness. But if I had to choose my state of residence based on these lists, I think I’d go with Hawaii. It did the best overall. Besides, I like the beach.

—  admin