Tag Archives: equal rights

Indiana backs off flawed anti-bias bill

An anti-discrimination bill that all sides argued was deeply flawed was withdrawn in Indiana before a vote.

The measure was opposed by the right-wing community that fought in 2015 for a religious right to refuse service to LGBT people. 

And the measure lacked the support of the LGBT community, which said it was flawed and failed to protect transgender people.

“Indiana lawmakers must move forward legislation this session that would truly safeguard LGBT Hoosiers and visitors from discrimination,” said JoDee Winterhof of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group.

The sponsors of the anti-discrimination bill failed to round up support from the gay community, which viewed the GOP’s measure as an attempt to mitigate the economic damage caused by the passage of the 2015 religious exemptions bill while still permitting discrimination.

“We took a beating from all sides in trying to do this,” Senate Republican leader David Long told the AP. He blamed the influence of groups outside the state on both sides of the issue.

Meanwhile, LGBT civil rights advocates in Indiana continued to push lawmakers to try again. “The legislative process is just that — a process,” Freedom Indiana, a statewide LGBT group, said on Feb. 2. “The conversation should continue in the coming weeks and months, not be shut down without a vote on the Senate floor.”

Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana, said, “Lawmakers left this crucial issue unanswered.”

She added, “We will continue to fight during this legislative session to update our civil rights law and undo the damage done to our state by last year’s RFRA.”

The national ACLU was monitoring at least two bills — one in South Dakota and another in West Virginia — like the measure that ignited controversy last year in Indiana.

In South Dakota, HB 1107 would allow organizations and individuals to discriminate against people based on their religious beliefs about marriage, sexual relations outside of marriage or gender identity.

An ACLU report said, “This could mean that homeless shelters that refused to accept single mothers or gay children would still be entitled to a government contract. It could mean that licensed counselors can condemn their clients but still be entitled to practice the profession.”

In West Virginia, a bill to allow people and groups to discriminate based on their faith is a priority for GOP leaders but a broad business coalition, Opportunity West Virginia, has formed to fight the measure.

Milwaukee County board adds gender identity to nondiscrimination ordinance

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors voted on April 24 to amend its nondiscrimination ordinance to ban bias based on gender identity and gender expression.

The ordinance protects those who work for the county and also those who work for companies that do business with the county.

Milwaukee has similar protections in its nondiscrimination ordinance, as do Madison and Dane County.

The state of Wisconsin, though it was the first state to ban bias based on sexual orientation, does not protect transgender citizens in its nondiscrimination law.

In a statement, Marina Dimitrijevic, chair of the county board, said, “Thank you to my colleagues on the county board for voting today to end discrimination and to update our non-discrimination ordinances. Milwaukee County will join 17 states and more than 100 communities across America … who have all passed similar fully inclusive non-discrimination protections and implemented them successfully.

“County Executive Chris Abele has been an excellent partner in moving our county towards equality and fairness. I thank him for his support of my legislation. This inclusive resolution will modernize Milwaukee County’s existing policies and help protect against discrimination. The implementation of this type of change will enhance our competitiveness as Milwaukee County seeks to build a talented workforce.”

She continued, “I am proud of the Milwaukee County Board for taking a stand against discrimination and ensuring that all residents have the same access to our resources, services, and employment opportunities. Milwaukee County is the economic engine of our state. A fair and inclusive Milwaukee County strengthens our state.”

The county’s website said the update expands the nondiscrimination policy “to ensure equal opportunity to all persons from all segments of Milwaukee County in contracting, employment and promotional opportunity and equal access to public services.”

Study: Latinos strongly support gay rights

A new study refutes decades’ old assumptions and assertions that Latinos are more anti-gay and less supportive of LGBT equal rights than others.

The study, released on April 12 by the National Council of La Raza, suggests the U.S. Latino population may be more tolerant and supportive than the general population.

“Latinos, like other Americans, have come a long way in acceptance of the LGBT community,” said Eric Rodriguez, vice president of NCLR. “Without a doubt there is work to be done within our own community to promote acceptance and tolerance, but this report is a strong indication that we are moving in the right direction.”

Earlier in April, the release of internal documents from the National Organization for Marriage revealed the anti-gay group has tried to exploit the perceived tension between the Latino and LGBT communities to advance its cause.

Civil rights groups responded with criticism and condemnation, including NCLR, the largest national Hispanic civil rights group in the United States.

On April 12, NCLR released “LGBT Acceptance and Support: The Hispanic Perspective,” a new Arcus Foundation-funded study from Social Science Research Solutions. The report takes an in-depth look at the factors that affect LGBT acceptance among Latinos and how levels of support are changing.

The study was in the works long before the news of NOM’s “wedge” strategy, and its author this month stressed a lack of bias in the research.

“In the end, the research shows widespread support of LGBT policies among Latinos,” David Dutwin, vice president of SSRS, said of the work. “There is a clear misperception among the general population about where Latinos stand on LGBT issues, partly because the media pushes this narrative that the culture and values of Latinos and LGBT progress are simply incompatible. Such misperceptions manifest in story after story about a particular Hispanic group opposing a gay rights bill, even though this anti-gay sentiment is not reflective of all Latinos. In reality, as society is evolving on LGBT issues and becoming more accepting of this community, so too are Hispanics.”

To conduct the survey, Dutwin and his team interviewed Latinos by telephone in the lower 48 states last spring.They found:

• Support for legalizing same-sex marriage is 54 percent among Latinos, 53 percent among the general population.

• Support for gays serving openly in the military is at 78 percent among Latinos.

• Support for expanding hate crimes laws is at 83 percent.

A separate Bendixen & Amandi International poll found that 74 percent of Latinos support marriage equality or other forms of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples.

The same poll found that 83 percent of Latinos support housing and employment protections for LGBT people, 73 percent support gays serving openly in the military, 75 percent support anti-harassment policies in schools.

Additionally, the B&A poll found that 68 percent of Catholic Latinos believe being gay is morally acceptable.

Dutwin said his research shows that highly religious Latinos and those less familiar with American cultural values tend to hold less accepting views of LGBTs. However, the research refutes the oft-made assumption that Catholic beliefs drive anti-LGBT positions in the community.

“That’s not the case at all,” Dutwin said, noting that about two-thirds of Latinos identified as Catholics and more than 50 percent of Catholic Latinos support legalizing gay marriage. Where support drops below 50 percent is among Protestant Latinos.

The report also found that, as is the case in the general population, men, Republicans and church clergy are less likely than women, Democrats and churchgoers to support LGBT rights.

Several Polls Show Gains for Gay Marriage

Madison_Marriage_Equality_Rally_1The website Last Word published a collection of results from various gay marriage polls which all showed that popular opinion is finally turning toward marriage equality.

WiG published the results of a CNN poll earlier in August that showed that 52 percent believe gays and lesbian “should” have the right to marry and 49 percent of Americans believe gays and lesbians already have the constitutional right to marry. That’s an increase of 4 percent since just last year.

A poll in Rhode Island shows the its residents to be part of this national trend, as well. A survey there found a 10 percent increase in support of gay marriage. The poll shows 59 percent of Rhode Islanders believe gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, compared with 49 percent two years ago in 2008.

California, which has been a hotbed of marriage equality debate for years, also showed an increase. In 2003, 42 percent believed in permitting same-sex marriage. A poll in July of this year (before Judge Walker declared Prop 8 unconstitutional) shows 51percent of voters now approve of same-sex marriage. That 9 percent increase in public support could be crucial as the Prop 8 case makes its way through the appellate courts.

Despite the fact that support for gay marriage is growing in Nevada, the majority of people there still oppose equal marriage rights. In 2002, only 60 percent of voters supported a gay marriage ban. A new poll, taken after the historic overturning of Prop 8, shows that only 46 percent of Nevadans support such a ban, and 35 percent say that support legalizing gay marriage.

A recent poll of Chicago area residents showed an even split on the issue. Forty-two percent support gay marriage and 42 percent oppose it. Support for gay marriage is not as strong when looking specifically at the Chicago suburbs, however, with only 40 percent approving. Suburban Chicago residents do believe in civil unions, 54 percent favoring the legalization of such. There was no previous data with which to compare these numbers.

Even Fox News’s poll on the subject show large gains in public opinions. The majority of Fox News viewers still oppose same-sex marriage (60 percent), but 37 percent now believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to legally marry. That’s an increase of 4 percent since last year and 17 percent since 2004. Additionally, 29 percent showed support for a separate legal status for gay and lesbian couples, similar to but not called “marriage.” Only about 1 in 4 respondents (28 percent) felt there should be no legal relationship recognition for same sex couples.

To read the full story, including a closer analysis of the numbers, go to Polls show huge gains for gay marriage, but still not enough.

Gay Adoption OK in Mexico City

An article in the Huffington Post announced that Mexico’s Supreme Court has upheld a Mexico City law that allows same-sex adoptions. The law only pertains to adoptions performed in Mexico City, but those adoptions must be respected by the other states, the article said.

The court voted 9-2 in favor of upholding the law. The justices that voted in support of allowing gay adoptions said it would be discriminatory not to allow gay couples to adopt, now that they have the legal right to marry, according to HP. Since gay marriage became legal last December in Mexico City, 339 couples have married. The first same sex adoption petition is expected to come next from one of those couples.

Not surprisingly, the Catholic church is upset about the ruling. HP said that a representative of the archdiocese said the law “treated children as if they were pets, to be adopted by whoever wants one, and that violates their rights (to be raised by a traditional family).” Mexico City’s Catholic bishop accused the supportive justices of being paid for their votes. The Supreme Court voted unanimously to publicly condemn the statement of the bishop.

HP noted that all adoptions in Mexico are complicated and often take years to complete. Most orphaned children are raised by family members. It is unlikely that there will a large number of gay adoptions of unrelated children as a result of the ruling. However, the ruling does make it much easier for blended families with gay parents to have equal rights.

Read the full article here: Mexican Gay Adoption Law Upheld by Supreme Court.

A question of fairness

Gay marriage is not like abortion.

This might seem obvious — one is about keeping a life from starting, the other is about joining two lives together — but in fact, gay marriage is compared to abortion a lot.

People lump same-sex marriage in the same polarizing issue category as abortion and gun control all the time. It’s one of the issues, it seems, that defines someone as a liberal or conservative, or that defines a state as red or blue.

The Washington Post stated in a headline in 2004 that gay marriage is “the new abortion.”

And often, legal experts and talking heads will predict the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court gay marriage battle by looking at Roe v. Wade. That decision was a disaster, they say, because the Court’s opinion protecting the right to an abortion was far ahead of public opinion. The country was heading toward making abortion legal anyway, the theory goes, until the Court made a big deal about it and caused a backlash that we’re still suffering from.

But gay marriage is not abortion.

In a New Yorker article on Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the Proposition 8 trial that’s underway in San Francisco, Margaret Talbot writes that researchers who “have studied public opinion on gay rights, believe that in five years a majority of Americans will favor same-sex marriage — the result of generational replacement and what (one researcher) calls ‘attitude adjustment.’”

She goes on to say, “The generational divide does not produce such results for all social issues. On abortion, for instance, younger Americans tend to be less supportive of unfettered rights. Nor does gay marriage seem to be a life-cycle issue — one that people become more conservative about as they age.”

Also, when people change their minds about gay marriage, they tend to do it in only one direction — become approving. Abortion can change minds either way.

Why is this? Because intuitively, people understand that abortion (or gun control) is fundamentally different from gay marriage.

Abortion and gun control are both privacy issues.

People who want an abortion or want to own a gun (or who don’t want to wear a seatbelt or get their kid immunized) are people who want to make a personal choice without government interference or regulation.

In a world without a government, they would be able to make these choices unhindered.

Also, they apply to everyone equally. Either every woman can get an abortion or no one can.

Gays and lesbians who want to get married are simply asking to be regulated in the same way as straight couples. We are asking that the laws apply equally to us.

Yes, we can opt out of the system altogether. We can get married in a church without the state’s involvement or not marry at all, but live together as a couple. That would be a private choice, and that is the sort of choice already addressed by the overturning of sodomy laws by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas.

But what we want is for the law to apply to us. We want to be regulated in the same way as anyone else. We want the state to sanction our unions. We want to abide by the state’s tax laws for couples.

The reason that people (even conservative people, like Dick Cheney) move toward acceptance of gay marriage is because eventually they recognize that the issue is not a moral question — as abortion is — but instead is about a fundamental issue of fairness.

Gay marriage is not abortion. Let’s not predict failure just because we think it is.