California bill would protect clergy refusing to sanction gay marriages

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Clergy who refuse to sanction same-sex marriages would be protected under a bill sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk by the state Senate.

Sen. Mark Leno’s bill, approved 22-11 Wednesday, Aug. 25, could become necessary if a federal appeals court upholds a judge’s ruling this month striking down Proposition 8, the state’s voter-approved gay marriage ban.

The bill says religious institutions from faiths that object to same-sex unions could not be stripped of their tax-exempt status if their clergy refuse to perform weddings for gay couples.

Leno, a gay Democrat from San Francisco, defended the measure when it was opposed by Sen. Roy Ashburn, an openly gay Republican from Bakersfield. Ashburn objected that the bill defines same-sex marriages as civil relationships, which he says puts them in a lesser class than heterosexual marriages.

Trans woman mistreated at hospital satisfied with promised changes

MUNCIE, Ind. — A transgender woman said she was satisfied with changes promised by a hospital after she complained of being ridiculed by medical staff and denied treatment in its emergency room last month.

Ball Memorial Hospital announced Tuesday, Aug. 24, that all employees would receive mandatory LGBT awareness training starting in September and that it was updating its nondiscrimination policies to include language specific to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Erin Vaught, a transsexual who has transitioned from male to female, complained that she was referred to as a “he-she” and “it” by hospital staffers after she arrived at the emergency room coughing up blood on July 18.

Vaught said that during face-to-face meetings with Ball Memorial President Michael Haley and others at the hospital, she felt that they “would do the right thing.”

“I’m happy with the outcome,” Vaught told The Star Press. “I think that we reached a positive resolution.”

The hospital said it would work with the advocacy groups Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance and Indiana Equality in deciding on its response to Vaught’s complaints.

“Simply put, we failed to live up to our brand promise of care in regards to Erin and we apologize to her for that,” Haley said in a hospital statement. “In the last month, I have heard from many team members who share my disappointment with Erin’s experience at BMH.”

Vaught said last month that when she, her wife and son went to the hospital’s emergency room coughing up blood, she was entered into the computer system as male despite an ID that stated she was female. Vaught said she was kept waiting for two hours without any treatment before seeing a doctor who said she couldn’t treat her because of her transgender condition.

Her treatment prompted complaints from the advocacy groups and others.

Vaught said she and her family would return to Ball Memorial in the future.

“My goal from the outset was to try to make sure that my experience wasn’t repeated,” she said.

Gay couple files suit challenging Wyoming’s anti-gay-marriage law

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A gay couple has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Wyoming law that defines marriage as existing only between a man and a woman.

David Shupe-Roderick and Ryan W. Dupree of Cheyenne say the Laramie County Clerk’s Office has refused to issue them a marriage license. They’re asking U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson to stop the state from enforcing any laws that block gays and lesbians from access to civil marriage. Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg declined comment Tuesday, Aug. 24, saying he hadn’t reviewed the lawsuit yet.

Shupe-Roderick and Dupree are acting as their own attorneys in the case.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010.