Tag Archives: partnership

Coalition rallies for Milwaukee ID card

A coalition on Nov. 2 rallied in support of a Milwaukee County budget amendment to create a work group to produce a Milwaukee ID card.

After the rally, about 20 people spoke in support of Milwaukee IDs during a hearing held by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.

The ID would be available through a partnership between the city and the county.

The budget amendment creating a work group to produce the card passed the county board’s finance committee in late October and will come to a full vote before the county board on Nov. 9. Last week, the public safety committee of the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously backed legislation to include the program in the city’s budget, which was to be voted upon on Nov. 3.

Speakers at the rally included County Supervisors Khalif Rainey, Peggy Romo-West and Marina Dimitrijevic, transgender community members, undocumented immigrants, family members of incarcerated people, and representatives of St. Ben’s Community Meal Program.

“This is about is about giving everyone an opportunity to be included in society,” said Rainey. “You shouldn’t be a member of our community and go to the hospital and not be able to get the services you need. That’s why I’m standing with you in solidarity in support of local ID.”

“I need to have a way to identify myself, to show who I am,” said Guadalupe Romero, a member of Voces de la Frontera. “One of my sons broke his back in a work accident, and had to have a metal bar placed in his spine. You can imagine the pain he was in. The doctors gave him a prescription for pain medicine, but because he didn’t have a government-issued ID card the pharmacist would not give it to him.

“A little while later our pet dog got sick,” continued Romero. When we took him to the veterinarian, we were able to obtain medicine for the dog immediately, and I ask, why? Does my son not have more value than an animal?”

“In many cases, a lack of a government-issued ID is a barrier to domestic violence victims who are attempting to escape abusers,” said Tony Gibart, public policy director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. “First, court documents, such as petitions for divorce, must be notarized, and notaries usually require the presentation of a government-issued ID. Second, applications for federal immigration protections for undocumented victims of domestic violence and their children require possessing a government-issued ID. Providing the opportunity for people to easily obtain a local ID would address these problems.”

“I had to deal through years of shame, and still continue to be shamed for simply declaring: this is who I am,” said transgender woman Livia Rowell-Ortiz. “When I leave my house I am making a conscious decision that I am placing myself in active danger — that it is likely that I be harassed increasingly depending on how visible I am that day, to the extent of fearing going outside at all. It is my hope that this local ID will pass and start the process of ending this shaming with the protection of the county and city of Milwaukee for myself and other transgender persons.”

“We have homeless at St. Ben’s who constantly come to the doors saying they need help in trying to get an ID,” said Br. Rob Roemer, OFM Cap, director of St. Ben’s Community Meal Program. “Often they cannot get their birth certificate that is required to get a State ID. We encourage the county to start offering other forms of ID’s that help the homeless and poor to get the jobs and help they need to get out of their situations.”

The coalition supporting local IDs for Milwaukee includes St. Ben’s Community Meal, Project Return, Wisconsin Jobs Now, Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and Voces de la Frontera.

Chicago soccer team partners with Illinois gay rights group

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club has partnered with Illinois’ largest gay rights group to celebrate this summer.

The Fire and Equality Illinois are co-hosting a series of events – a recent event was held at Sidetrack in Boystown on July 6 – this summer. The largest event will be Chicago Fire Pride Night on Aug. 4.

“We are excited that this relationship will yield so many benefits for Equality Illinois, the Chicago Fire, and especially the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and our allies,” stated Bernard Cherkasov of Equality Illinois in a news release. “Most importantly, this support from a major pro-sports team signals to fans and LGBT youth the diverse voices that embrace equality.”

The partnership was launched during the Chicago Pride Parade on June 24, when representatives with the Chicago Fire marched along with the Equality Illinois float with its “I Do” support marriage equality theme.

Other events include the Celebrity Pie Toss on July 28 at Sidetrack, when several members from the Chicago Fire will join other celebrities on the receiving end of pies thrown by the highest bidders, whose contributions will aid Equality Illinois programs.

Chicago Fire Pride Night takes place during a soccer match at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, with a portion of ticket sale proceeds benefiting the Equality Illinois Education Project.

“We greatly appreciate the generosity of the entire Chicago Fire organization,” said EI development director Michael Nordman. “The time and resources they are devoting to this partnership is another great example of how local organizations can step up and showcase support for diversity and equality.”

On the Web: www.chicago-fire.com

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Champion skier officially comes out

Former Olympic gold medalist Anja Paerson, who retired earlier this year, says she is in a long-term relationship with her girlfriend Filippa, ending years of speculation regarding her private life.

The 31-year-old Paerson made the relationship public while hosting a summer talk-show on Swedish Radio, whose celebrity hosts rotate each day.

Paerson says “I’m now throwing myself down the steepest hill of my life.”

The program was pre-recorded on June 7, but was not broadcast until the weekend.

Paerson won 19 medals at major championships – six at the Olympics including gold in 2006 and 13 at the worlds. She has won 42 World Cup races since debuting in 1998, clinching overall titles in 2004 and ‘05.

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N.C. voters pass anti-gay marriage amendment

North Carolina on May 8 became the 30th state to enact a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Voters approved the anti-gay Amendment One 61-39 percent.

The new amendment reads, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

In the final days before the vote, members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet expressed support for gay marriage and former President Bill Clinton recorded phone messages urging voters to reject the amendment. Opponents also held marches, put up television ads and gave speeches, including one by Jay Bakker, son of late televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.

Meanwhile, supporters ran their own ad campaigns and church leaders urged congregations to vote for the amendment. The Rev. Billy Graham, who remains influential even though his last crusade was in 2005, was featured in full-page newspaper ads supporting the amendment.

Both sides spent a combined $3 million on their campaigns.

Experts expected the measure to pass, despite the state’s long history of moderate politics.

North Carolina law already banned gay marriage, like nine other states, but an amendment effectively slammed the door shut on same-sex marriages, as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Six states – all in the Northeast except Iowa – and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.

The North Carolina amendment was placed on the ballot after Republicans took over control of the state legislature after the 2010 elections, a role the GOP hadn’t had for 140 years.

The amendment goes beyond state law by voiding other types of domestic unions from carrying legal status, which opponents warned could disrupt protection orders for unmarried couples.

Responses to the vote:

“Tonight’s results were disappointing, not just for gay and lesbian North Carolinians, but for the hundreds of thousands of non-traditional families who may face the harmful impact of Amendment One. Our campaign may have fallen short this evening, but your work over the past several months did not,” said Jeremy Kennedy of Protect All NC Families.

“This divisive initiative is blatantly unconstitutional. Not only does it deprive lesbian and gay North Carolinians of their fundamental freedom to marry, it attempts to strip to strip partners of lesbian and gay city employees in cities such as Durham and Asheville, of their health care benefits under the guise of limiting marriage rights,” said John Lewis, legal director of Marriage Equality USA.

“The passage of Amendment One is a profound injustice. Singling out a class of citizens for discriminatory treatment is unfair, unlawful and violates basic American values,” said American Foundation for Equal Rights executive director Adam Umhoefer. “Gay and lesbian Americans, like their fellow citizens, want nothing more than to marry the person they love. Committed, loving couples and their families should not be denied this most fundamental freedom.”

“The passage of Amendment One is a heartbreaking loss for families in North Carolina, but will not stop us in the march toward full equality,” said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. “As the country continues to move in the direction of marriage equality, our opponents have cynically interrupted the important conversations taking place which lead to increased understanding and acceptance.”

“It is a horrible feeling to have your life and your family put up for a popular vote. No one is better off by the initiative’s taking away health care benefits from lesbian and gay families.  Lesbian and gay couples and their families are real human beings. This exclusionary initiative harms real people,” said Stuart Gaffney of Marriage Equality USA.

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k.dl lang files papers to end domestic partnership

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter k.d. lang filed documents to end her nine-year-old domestic partnership with Jamie Price, according to TMZ.

Lang, 50, cited irreconcilable differences in papers filed on Dec. 28 to dissolve the relationship. The two reportedly met through their mutual Buddhist teacher.

A rep for Lang did not respond to a request for comment from People magazine.

Lang, a Canadian, was probably the first lesbian superstar. She was catapulted to fame after Roy Orbison invited her to sing a duet of “Crying” with him in 1987.

Lang’s biggest hit was “Constant Craving,” from her award-winning 1992 platinum album “Ingénue.” Prior to that, she’d been primarily known as a country western singer.

A gay rights as well as an animal rights activist, lang has said she met more resistance for the latter in Nashville.

Lang has become iconic in the LGBT for her unapologetic masculinity. She mocked it in the video for her hit song “Chatelaine” and posed for a famous Herb Ritts cover of Vanity Fair that showed her reclining in a barber’s chair while a barely dressed Cindy Crawford shaved her face.

ACLU sues Michigan over anti-partnership law

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal suit against a new Michigan law banning public entities from providing health care insurance to the domestic partners of their employees.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of schoolteachers, city and county workers and their domestic partners.

“This is not about politics or ideology for us,” said Peter Ways, an Ann Arbor, Mich., teacher whose partner will lose his benefits. “This is about real families who are facing the real consequences of discriminatory laws. Just like our colleagues whose families will continue to receive health insurance, we want to care for our families.”

The four couples named in the lawsuit are in long-term committed relationships. Several of the domestic partners need ongoing medical care for chronic conditions.

The lawsuit charges that the new law discriminates by categorically denying domestic partners access to benefits and violates the constitutional right to equal protection by forcing gay and lesbian employees in committed relationships to carry the financial hardship and anxiety of being uninsured, while allowing heterosexual couples to marry and receive family health protections.

Michigan governor urged to veto anti-gay bill

Civil rights advocates are urging Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to veto legislation that would ban public employers from providing domestic partner benefits. House Bills 4770 and 4771 passed the Michigan Senate late last week.

“While debating these bills, legislators talked about everything from cost to gay marriage, however not one sponsoring legislator discussed the real impact of these bills – the families that are at risk of losing their healthcare benefits because of political games,” said Jay Kaplan of the ACLU of Michigan Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “Gov. Snyder must stay above the ideological fray and do what’s best for our state and its residents. Taking away health benefits from our residents during a time of economic uncertainty is mean-spirited and harmful to our economy.”

The ACLU, in its advocacy, is representing four families:

• Dennis and Thomas Patrick, who have been in a committed relationship for 14 years and have five adopted children. Thomas receives his health benefits through Dennis’ employer, Eastern Michigan University. Thomas has a degenerative disc condition and has had two surgeries to date. Thomas works part-time in order to care for their children with special needs.

• Nancy Katz and Margo Dichtelmiller who have been in a committed relationship for 37 years. Nancy is a retired attorney and receives her insurance coverage through Margo’s employer Eastern Michigan University. In 2009, Nancy was diagnosed with a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent radiation, followed by chemotherapy.

• Jolinda Jach and Barbara Ramber who have been in a committed relationship for 17 years and have two young children. Barbara receives her health insurance coverage through Jolinda’s employer, the City of Kalamazoo. Barbara is battling blindness and rheumatoid arthritis. Barbara works part-time in order to be home for their kids after school.

• Deb Harrah and Michelle Corwin who have been in a committed relationship for 11 years. Michelle receives her health insurance coverage through Deb’s employer, the Kent County Department of Human Services. Michelle has been diagnosed with diabetes and several related health issues. She is also recovering from a recent surgery. Michelle has been looking for work since 2009 when the nonprofit organization she worked for closed its doors

“This is not about economics or politics.” Katz said. “This is about real people facing real hardships if these bills are allowed to become law.

The bills passed the Senate last week with an amendment intended to exempt universities; however, it is unclear whether universities are actually exempt.

The sponsor of the bills, Michigan Rep. Dave Agema, contends the bills still apply to all public employers, including universities.

Sponsors of the legislation estimated that benefits through the Michigan Civil Service Commission would cost the state well over $8 million, however a recent analysis conducted by the commission found the figure to be erroneous – only about 100 employees opted in by the September deadline, proving the cost of these domestic partner benefits was about $600,000.

German court: Gay marriage is only ‘partnership’

A Berlin court declined to set a precedent by recognizing a gay marriage performed in Canada, ruling in late June that the union would only be considered a civil partnership in Germany.

German law defines marriage as exclusively between men and women. It allows civil partnerships between same-sex couples.

Andreas Boettcher, a 37-year-old German event manager, married his Spanish partner, a dancer and choreographer, in Montreal in July 2006. He asked a Berlin administrative court to recognize the relationship as a marriage after local authorities listed him as “single” on his registration card in November, despite his Canadian marriage certificate and a family registry entry from Spain that names him as the husband of his partner.

Boettcher said the couple, who have been together for 17 years, decided to marry in Canada about six months before they took a trip there to participate in a sporting event.

Spain and five other countries in Europe let same-sex couples wed. In the United States, six states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriages.

“The German authorities would have had no problems, had (he) been an Isabel,” said Boettcher, who asked that his husband not be identified.

The German court said a same-sex marriage abroad is to be legally considered a civil partnership in Germany.

Boettcher said he accepted the ruling, although it fell short of his goal.

“I could fight it, but it would take a lot of time and a lot of money,” he said. “At least, I have reached the minimum.”

Germany’s Gay and Lesbian Association sharply criticized authorities forcing Boettcher to take his case to court to get a marriage recognized as a civil union.

– AP