When will same-sex marriages begin in Washington, Maryland, Maine?

On Election Day, three states approved same-sex marriage and one, Minnesota, defeated an anti-equality constitutional amendment. But marriages have not yet begun in the three states — Maine, Maryland and Washington — that voted for marriage equality.

Maryland’s new marriage law takes effect on Jan. 1, but according to state officials, it will be a few more days after the New Year before marriage licenses will be issued. According to the Washington Post, that’s because Jan. 1 is a holiday and Maryland has a 48-hour waiting period from the time licenses are issued.

In Maine, marriage will go into effect sometime between Dec. 6 and and Jan. 5. The initiative goes into effect 30 days after the governor makes a “public proclamation of the result of the vote,” within 10 days after the result has been determined.

Maine voters on Tuesday overturned a 2009 ballot initiative that blocked a marriage equality law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. Equality lost in 2009 by 47 to 53 percent. The overturn vote this year was 53 to 47 percent.

Because Washington’s elections are done by mail, results came slower, but marriage passed by roughly the same margin here that it passed by in Maine and Maryland. Washington’s procedure is for the ballot initiative to be certified on Dec. 5. Marriage is expected to begin in that state the next day.

The biggest prize this year may still be California. If the Supreme Court decides not to hear the Proposition 8 case at its next conference Nov. 20, the lower court’s ruling stands and marriage begins immediately or within weeks in that state. If the high court decides to hear the case, a ruling would probably not be issued until June.

Marriage opponent Brian Brown, president of National Organization for Marriage, said his group was outspent 4 to 1, which he blames for the first successful votes for equality. Polls show 53 percent of Americans support marriage equality.

—  David Taffet

If you like it build a museum to it, Houston may get Beyoncé monument

I'm sure the plans for the failed 555 ft "Spirit of Houston" statue are still in a drawer somewhere. Just make it more bootylicious and put a ring on it.

Hometown heroes have always been honored with monuments; from Hannibal, Missouri’s Mark Twain Museum to Cleveland’s memorial to President Garfield, from Atchison, Kansas’ Amelia Earhart museum, to Concord, Ohio’s John Glenn historic site. Pity Houston! Which scion of our fair burg will rise up from the shackles of obscurity to clasp the liberty of immortality that only a dedicated monument can bring?

Beyoncé Knowles, that’s who, at least according to two men who skyped with Fox 26 and are expecting the Mayor to endorse their plans any day now. Steve White and Marcus Mitchell of Armdeonce Ventures say they want to honor the newly minted musical mother with a “statue or museum.” According to Mitchell,

““Our biggest thing is a lot of people get honored when they die, so our goal is to why not honor people why they’re still here? We felt as though it’s her time to be honored. We wanted to construct, like, a massive hall so as the doors open, if you donated to the monument, you’ll have a separate nameplate.”

Armdeonce Ventures has offices in Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Houston according to it’s website. The Beyoncé Monument is the only project currently listed on the site.

Watch the Fox 26 interview with the visionary twosome after the break.

—  admin

Annise Parker now co-chair of “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry,” Austin’s Leffingwell joins

Lee Leffingwell

Austin's Mayor Lee Leffingwell

Houstini reported yesterday that Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker was scheduled to appear at the “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” press conference in Washington D.C., and that she was the only Texas mayor to participate. This morning we found out that Parker, along with New York’s Michael Bloomberg and L.A.’s Antonio Villaraigosa, is serving as co-chair for the effort. Additionally Austin’s Mayor Lee Leffingwell has joined the effort.

So that makes 2 of Texas’ 1,215 mayors with the bravery to stand up for what’s right, leaving the citizens of 1,213 citizens with the task of persuading their mayors. In Dallas Daniel Cates of GetEqual has started an online petition encouraging Mayor Mike Rawlings to sign on which currently has 216 signatories. The Dallas Voice reports that Rawlings claims to personally support marriage equality, despite his unwillingness to join “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry:”

“This one obviously was very difficult for me, because I personally believe in the rights of the gay community to marry,” Rawlings said Thursday… “I think this [same-sex marriage] is way overdue and we need to get on with it, but that’s my personal belief, and when I start to speak on behalf of the city of Dallas … I’ve got to be thoughtful about how I use that office and what I want to impact, and that’s why I decided to stay away from endorsing and signing letters like that.”

Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, told the Voice “the mayor does not plan to publicly support any social issues but would rather focus on the policy issues that impact Dallas,” adding “we have not signed onto other similar requests.”

—  admin

“A Gathering — 30 Years of AIDS” tonight at the Winspear

Come together

The Dallas arts community is coming together for a spectacular One-Night-Only performance commemorating 30 Years of AIDS. An unprecedented collaboration between some of the finest arts organizations in Dallas, A Gathering: The Dallas Arts Community Reflects on 30 Years of AIDS will feature eleven Dallas cultural institutions coming together and sharing their talents to create a powerful evening of entertainment. With a cast of more than 200 singers, dancers and actors, A Gathering promises to be a soul-stirring performance, and a night to remember.

All the organizations involved are donating their time and talent for this unique performance. 100% of the proceeds will directly benefit four of Dallas’ leading AIDS service organizations. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to be a part of an extraordinary night of song, dance, hope and solidarity.

Participating organizations: AT&T Performing Arts Center, Booker T. Washington High School of the Performing and Visual Arts, Bruce Wood Dance Project, CharlieUniformTango, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center, SMU Meadows School of the Arts, Texas Ballet Theater, TITAS and Turtle Creek Chorale

—AT&T Performing Arts Center

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7 p.m. $12–$100. ATTPAC.org/Gathering

—  Rich Lopez

What’s Shakin – Houston Pride Band’s Guilty Pleasures, Haute Boys of fall

Artistic Director Skip Martin

Pride Band Artistic Director Skip Martin

1. The Houston Pride Band presents “Guilty Pleasures,” a concert featuring the favorite guilty pleasures of the Pride Band members, tonight at 7:30 at the Hobby Center.  The concert marks the premier of the Pride Band’s new artistic Director, Skip Martin.  Martin chose the feature favorite’s from the bands 30-year history. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from the Hobby Center.
2. The “Haute Boys of Fall II” gather at James Craig Furniture (4500 Washington Avenue), since their founding in 2010 the Haute Boys (which includes quite a few girls) have raised over $15,000 for area AIDS charities.  Tonight’s event features complimentary signature cocktails by Harmonie, an array of neighborhood bites, elements of design and fashion, music and more. Admission is an unwrapped toy, gift card or $20 donation for Houstonians in need.
3.  Voter turnout held steady for the ninth day of early voting in Harris County.  So far 34,329 people have voted, only 80% of the 42,968 who had voted by this point during the 2009 municipal elections.  Montrose’s own Multi Service Center on West Gray broke 400 voters for the first time since voting began on Oct 24. Early voting continues through November 4.  Election day is Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

—  admin

What’s Shakin’ – Stone Soup at F Bar, Washtonians support marriage equality

Stone Soup1. For people living with AIDS proper nutrition is more than just healthy living, it’s a vital part of the regimen that keeps them alive. Unfortunately the struggling economy and cuts to government HIV/AIDS nutrition programs mean that, for some, eating right, or just eating, is a challenge.  That’s where the AIDS Foundation Houston Stone Soup Food Assistance Program steps in.  Kelly McCann, CEO of of AFH, says that the program has recently seen a 40% increase in request for assistance and needs an additional $25,000 a month to meet demand. F Bar (202 Tuam) is doing its part to help out tonight, collecting monetary and food donations from the community. Donors will receive a VIP invitation to an appreaciation party on Nov 22, and be entered in a raffle to win fabulous prizes.
2. Washington may soon become the seventh state to have full marriage equality, if a recent poll by the University of Washington, Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexualityis accurate.  The poll asked 938 registered voters in the evergreen state if they would support a same-sex marriage law were it to appear on the 2012 ballot: 47% responded that yes, they would strongly support it, only 32% said they would strongly oppose.
3. Voter turnout in Harris County is slowly catching up with the last municipal election cycle in 2009, but continues to lag.  So far 28,679 people have cast their ballots, 81% of the 34,485 who had voted at this point in the process the last go around.  Early voting continues through November 3.  Election day is Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

—  admin

WATCH: Houston megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen equates being gay to having an addiction

Houston mega-church pastor Joel Osteen spoke to Sally Quinn of the Washington Post  as part of the media tour hyping his new book Everyday a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week. Quinn steered the conversation towards Osteen’s recent appearance on Piers Morgan, and his statement that he would attend a same-sex wedding, but not perform one.  Osteen has gotten a lot of flack from the religious right for his willingness to attend attend a “homosexual wedding,” and it must be said that, in the world of mega-church leaders, his position is remarkably tolerant.  Unfortunately, Olsteen’s attempt at a middle-of-the-road response to Quinn’s question quickly steered toward the absurd:

“Somebody that maybe had this certain difficulty now, maybe in five years they’re not if we will love them. You know, I think one of the messages I speak on sometimes is, you know, we can love people back into wholeness. But sometimes we want to beat them down — you got this addiction and you shouldn’t have that, or you did this — I just don’t think that’s the best way.”

Yes, because being LGBT is just like having an addiction. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t hear much of a difference between “love away the gay” and “pray away the gay.”

—  admin

UPDATE: Suspect arrested in D.C. shooting

Police in Washington, D.C., have charged Darryl Willard with “assault with intent to kill while armed,” in connection with the shooting early Monday of a transgender woman in southeast D.C.

Washington, D.C. police are investigating the death of this unidentified person who was found wearing facial make-up and carrying a pair of light-colored heels

According to the Washington Post, after being shot at about 1:50 a.m. in the 2300 block of Savannah Street SE, the victim walked to the Seventh District Police Headquarters to report the crime. The Post reports that the victim knew her attacker and gave his name to police. Willard later turned himself in to authorities.

The victim, who is not named in the newspaper’s article, was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover from her injuries.

In the meantime, police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a man whose body was found early Saturday, according to reports by the Associated Press. Police said that when the man’s body was found, he had makeup on his face and had with him a pair of light-colored high-heel shoes. The man appears to be Hispanic or Middle Eastern and between the ages of 25 and 30.

Police said they have no information on whether the dead man was gay or transgender, and that his body showed no signs of trauma.

The Monday shooting was the fourth time in less than two months that a transgender woman has been shot or shot at in the D.C. area. On July 20, Lashai Mclean died after being shot by a man who approached her as she walked with a friend in the city’s Northeast section. The man asked Mclean a question and then pulled a gun and shot her before she could answer, according to the friend, who was uninjured.

Eleven days later and just blocks away from the site of Mclean’s murder, a suspect approached another trans woman, asked for change and then pulled a gun and shot at her before she could answer. The shot missed and the woman was uninjured.

And in August, a D.C. police officer on medical leave was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after he stood on the hood of a car and fired into the car containing two men and two trans women. One of the men was injured slightly in the attack.

—  admin

Census shows jump in gay couples as push for marriage equality continues in Wash.

MIKE BAKER  |  Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Rachel Smith-Mosel and her partner have been married in California, where she was born. And they’ve been married in Canada, where her spouse was born. And they’ve been married at a Jewish summer camp, where they had support of their faith community.

But what the couple really wants is to be officially married in Washington, where they work, live and raise five children.

Smith-Mosel, 38, said the state’s domestic partnership laws are insufficient, failing to provide the couple the proper benefits and protections that come with marriage. She said it’s now time for Washington to follow the lead of states like New York and recognize gay couples in marriage.

“My family needs it yesterday,” said Smith-Mosel, a middle school teacher in Tacoma. “I’m impatient, and I’m tired of waiting.”

The yearning for marriage among gay couples and their supporters has been growing along with their public ranks. New Census data last week illustrates a surge in households led by declared same-sex partners across the state, growing by more than 50 percent and expanding in areas outside of urban centers during the past decade.

• More than 24,000 households in Washington are led by same-sex partners.

• In Jefferson County on the Olympic Peninsula and in San Juan County, comprising most of its namesake islands, more than one out of every 50 couples is same-sex.

• Seattle shows that 3 percent of couples are male partners and more than 2 percent are female partners. The number of same-sex couples in King County grew by 37 percent over the decade, slower than the state as a whole.

• Nearly one-quarter of same-sex couples lead a household with children.

Garfield County in southeastern Washington, the least populous county in the state with 2,266 people, had the lowest number of households led by a same-sex couple — with one.

Activists and lawmakers are currently strategizing how and when to best push the issue. Democratic state Sen. Ed Murray, who has consistently filed bills to approve gay marriages since 1997, said the Senate does not have the votes right now to get it approved in 2012. He hopes that will change and isn’t ruling out success in the coming session of the Legislature.

Murray, who has been with his partner for 20 years as of this coming week, also said supporters need to ensure that the law will stand, even if it faces a referendum challenge. He doesn’t believe it would have survived four years ago, when the domestic partnerships law passed, but he does think things are changing.

“Personally, it gets old. Politically, I think we’re on the right road,” Murray said. “This isn’t going to take many years. It’s going to take a few years.”

Both sides of the gay marriage debate claim that public opinion is on their side.

Gary Randall, president of the Bellevue-based Faith and Freedom Network, said he doesn’t think there’s a race toward gay marriage like supporters of the effort would like people to believe. He also thinks that people who want to keep marriage between one man and one woman will come off the sidelines to voice their opinions.

Randall said groups are also having discussions about the best way to educate the public about their arguments — namely that the Bible doesn’t condone gay marriage and that redefining marriage could eventually lead to condoned polygamy.

“I don’t think they’re ready to approve gay marriage,” Randall said.

Josh Friedes, director of marriage equality at Seattle-based advocacy group Equal Rights Washington, said gay marriage proponents need to focus on increasing social acceptance. That means educating people about the marriage benefits that aren’t extended to domestic partners, such as tax benefits or health insurance coverage. He also wants to demonstrate to the public that it’s a matter of dignity for couples who want the state to recognize their relationships equally.

Smith-Mosel carries around a folder of documents detailing her family’s relationships, worried that during a medical crisis or some other problem they will face questions and lack the same protections as officially recognized spouses.

“Our kids need to feel that our family isn’t just second-class,” Smith-Mosel said. “We’re a married couple, and we want to be treated as such. We deserve to be treated as such.”

—  John Wright

Marriage Equality Bill Introduced in Washington State

SB 5793, a marriage equality bill, was introduced in the Washington state senate today. A matching bill is set to be introduced in the House tomorrow.

From Senator Ed Murray's office:

Murray In early February of 1998, in what has proven to be the darkest of Valentine's for gay and lesbian families in our state, the Legislature enshrined discrimination as the law of the land in Washington by overriding the veto of then-Gov. Gary Locke to approve the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act."

This Valentine’s Day, Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, and Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said the night is darkest just before the dawn.

"Over the past several years, the Legislature and the public together have been steadily building a bridge to equality for gay and lesbian families," said Moeller. He noted the passage of civil rights legislation in 2006 protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing, and financial transactions, and then three successive years of securing broader and broader domestic partnership rights — which included successfully withstanding a hostile referendum challenge at the ballot in 2009.

"We've made tremendous progress since 1998," Murray said. "Gay and lesbian families in Washington now enjoy the same state spousal rights that their married straight friends enjoy – except for the name ‘marriage’. The recognition that their loving, lifelong commitment is no different from the loving, lifelong commitment of straight couples is the final step to achieving full equality. I believe the Legislature and the public are both ready to take that final step."

Under the proposed legislation, religious freedom is protected as is the clergy's right to choose for whom to perform marriage ceremonies. Also, domestic partnerships are maintained.

Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet