Attorney General Jerry Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Oppose Prop 8 Stay

August 6, 2010

Today, both California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown filed separate motions opposing a stay of U.S. Supreme Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn Prop 8.

A Statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“We salute Attorney General Brown and Governor Schwarzenegger for their leadership in opposing any further delay in implementing Judge Walker’s decision striking down Prop 8. Every day, same-sex couples in California are prohibited from marrying the person they love. Now that the court has ruled, there is no reason for further delay in correcting this cruel injustice. Attorney General Brown and Governor Schwarzenegger deserve enormous credit for standing up for equality. Their actions make it clear that this is not a partisan issue, but rather a matter of simple justice and fairness for all.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights Congratulates Attorney Paul M. Smith, Who Will Be Honored with the Thurgood Marshall Award

July 29, 2010

A Statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell

The National Center for Lesbian Rights extends our warmest congratulations and appreciation to attorney Paul M. Smith, who will receive the 2010 Thurgood Marshall Award the most prestigious civil rights honor in the nation at the Thurgood Marshall Award Dinner on Aug. 7 in San Francisco.

Smith, a partner in the litigation department at Jenner & Block LLP and co-chair of Lambda Legal’s Board of Directors, has an impressive track record of successfully arguing before the United States Supreme Court, and worked alongside NCLR in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the recent victory affirming that public universities can require officially recognized and funded student groups to comply with non-discrimination policies. Smith also argued the landmark case of Lawrence v. Texas, which held that every adult has a protected constitutional right to enter into an intimate relationship with the person of his choosing.

Established by the American Bar Association and the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities in 1992, the Thurgood Marshall Award is named after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who epitomized individual commitment, in word and action, to the cause of civil rights in this country. Previous winners include former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“Few people are worthier of this honor than Paul, whose profound commitment to advancing civil liberties has made him a legal force to be reckoned with, and a role model and leader within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “He has stood beside us, and fought for us, and more importantly, we know that with him by our side, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.”

NCLR is a proud sponsor of the 2010 Thurgood Marshall Award Dinner. Purchase tickets online.

NCLR Calls on Congress for Immigration Equality for Families

July 15, 2010

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation Must Include Protections for Binational Couples among the Family Unity Provisions

Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights joined a coalition of organizations and leaders calling on Congress to insist that the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) be included in comprehensive immigration reform legislation going forward. This approach is consistent with the Senate framework announced on April 29, 2010 by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and with the Reuniting American Families Act currently pending in the U.S. House and previously introduced by Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA). UAFA (formerly called the Permanent Partners Immigration Act) would grant U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the right to sponsor their same-sex permanent partners to immigrate to the United States.

A Statement from Maya Rupert, Federal Policy Attorney for National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“We agree with the Representatives who join us here today, that in order for comprehensive immigration reform legislation to be truly comprehensive, it must include UAFA. Right now, our immigration system is badly broken. Family members are needlessly separated from each other when they should be together. Ideally, our immigration system must protect and unite families, not tear them apart or keep them separated. Binational LGBT couples and their children are among those families that immigration reform must help.

NCLR is heartened by the broad support for a fully-inclusive comprehensive immigration reform bill. We stand in solidarity with our allies in Congress, the broader immigration community, the faith-based community, and all fair-minded individuals in advocating for Congress to move swiftly and enact a humane, comprehensive immigration reform bill that will protect so many families.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights Condemns Hawaii Governor’s Veto Of Civil Unions Bill

July 7, 2010

Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) condemned Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle’s veto of a bill that would have allowed both same-sex and different-sex couples in Hawaii to protect their families by entering into civil unions.

A statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“Governor Lingle has demonstrated a shocking disregard for the well-being of Hawaii families. The civil-union bill was passed by both houses of the Hawaii Legislature and enjoyed broad popular support. By vetoing the bill, Governor Lingle has thwarted the democratic process and trampled the requirement of equal protection. We strongly support the lawsuit soon to be filed by Lambda Legal and the ACLU, seeking equality for same-sex couples and their children, and we urge everyone who cares about basic fairness to contact the Governor’s office to protest her unconscionable decision.”

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Open Government Laws

June 24, 2010

Court rejects claim by anti-gay groups that disclosure laws violate the First Amendment

Today, in an 8-1 decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the United States Supreme Court decisively rejected a First Amendment challenge to a Washington statute requiring public disclosure of the names of individuals who sign petitions to place referendums or initiatives on state ballots. The case arose when anti-gay groups sued to block disclosure of the names of individuals who signed a petition supporting an ultimately unsuccessful referendum to block Washington’s domestic partnership law. In Doe v. Reed, the Court held:

“Public disclosure thus helps ensure that the only signatures counted are those that should be, and that the only referenda placed on the ballot are those that garner enough valid signatures. Public disclosure also promotes transparency and accountability in the electoral process to an extent other measures cannot. In light of the foregoing, we reject plaintiffs’ argument and conclude that public disclosure of referendum petitions in general is substantially related to the important interest of preserving the integrity of the electoral process.”

On April 1, 2010, three of the nation’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) legal organizations, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and Lambda Legal—together with the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force—joined Washington Families Standing Together and the State of Washington in filing an amicus brief defending open government laws requiring public disclosure of the names of voters who sign petitions supporting state ballot initiatives. The brief refuted the false claims presented to the Supreme Court in this and other cases that individuals who support anti-gay initiatives have been subjected to “systematic intimidation” by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

A statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Price Minter:

“Today’s decision is a serious defeat for groups who seek to abuse the democratic process to strip rights from vulnerable minorities, and who now wish to do so in secrecy, without even the minimal accountability imposed by laws designed to prevent fraud and abuse. This is one of a series of cases in which anti-gay groups are resisting compliance with open government laws. Thankfully, the Court recognized that the arguments presented by the anti-gay groups in this case had no merit, and that states must be permitted to protect the integrity of the political process.”

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Groups and Allies Join Outcry Against Anti-Immigrant Measure in Arizona

June 9, 2010

More than 20 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality groups and allies today issued the following joint statement:

Arizona’s S.B. 1070 takes the state down a path that will lead to racial profiling, discrimination and anti-immigrant extremism. We stand in solidarity with other individuals, organizations and local governments in rejecting the misrepresentation of immigrants put forth in this unjust and ill-conceived measure.

S.B. 1070 essentially declares an entire class of people to be inherently criminal on the basis of their race and appearance. The consequences of S.B. 1070 are grave and troubling: the inevitability of racial profiling and infringement on civil liberties; the strong probability of violence and harassment against individuals and their families; and the reversal of progress toward creating a more inclusive society.

We also note that this bill was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer, the same governor who last year stripped away earned health insurance benefits from the same-sex domestic partners of state employees. Brewer’s actions as governor demonstrate, at best, callous indifference — and at worst, willful malice — toward immigrants and LGBT people alike.

All Arizona families — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight — have reason to be alarmed. The state’s new law threatens to tear apart families, separate children from their parents and rip apart loving couples who are building their lives together. The LGBT community knows all too well how easily people who ‘look different’ or ‘act different’ can be singled out for harassment and persecution. LGBT immigrants will be doubly vulnerable under this law, which gives license to discriminate.

We are united in our determination to stand for political and legislative change that will ensure just treatment of immigrants, people of color, and all people in Arizona. Such justice requires the repeal of S.B. 1070 and the passage and implementation of comprehensive federal immigration reform.

Today we join with groups such as Service Employees International Union, League of United Latin American Citizens, Asian American Justice Center, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, National Council of La Raza, National Action Network, the National Puerto Rican Coalition, and many others in the boycott against the state of Arizona until S.B. 1070 is repealed, overturned by the courts, or superseded by comprehensive federal immigration reform.

National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
Human Rights Campaign
Immigration Equality
National Black Justice Coalition
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
International Foundation for Gender Education
Family Equality Council
Two Spirit Press Room
Equality Federation
National Minority AIDS Council
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce(R)
Freedom to Marry
Gay Men’s Health Crisis
Lambda Legal
International Federation of Black Prides, Inc.
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Atticus Circle

Statement by the President on Votes to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

May 28, 2010

from the Office of the Press Secretary

“I have long advocated that we repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, and I am pleased that both the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee took important bipartisan steps toward repeal tonight.  Key to successful repeal will be the ongoing Defense Department review, and as such I am grateful that the amendments offered by Representative Patrick Murphy and Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin that passed today will ensure that the Department of Defense can complete that comprehensive review that will allow our military and their families the opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process.  Our military is made up of the best and bravest men and women in our nation, and my greatest honor is leading them as Commander-in-Chief. This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity.”

- President Barack Obama

NCLR on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Vote: “Crucial Steps, But Discharges Must End”

May 27, 2010

A statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.

Today the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to act to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the discriminatory policy that bans lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members from openly serving in the military. The House and the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to be included in the Department of Defense appropriations bill. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) introduced the amendment in the House version, which was approved 234 to 194 in a floor vote. Earlier, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16 to 12 to include the same language in the Senate version of the appropriations bill.

The amendment outlines a two-step plan that would lead to the repeal of the policy, starting with the delivery of a “Working Group” report by the Pentagon on the implementation of the repeal to Defense Secretary Robert Gates by no later than December 1, 2010. The report and its recommendations, once approved and certified by the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President, would then be sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Action on the repeal of DADT should occur in the first quarter of 2011.

Executive Director National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell issued the following statement:

“Today’s votes in the Senate Armed Services Committee and House of Representatives are crucial first steps to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a failed and immoral law that undermines our national security. We praise Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA) for their leadership and all of those who voted to move forward to repeal this law. We also hail the tremendous efforts of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and those advocating on behalf of LGBT men and women in the armed forces. Everyday, these courageous service members risk their lives to protect our country and yet are forced to lie about who they are and often, who their families are, to everyone’s detriment. The amendment a compromise falls short of immediate, outright repeal. We are hopeful that today’s actions in Congress will lead to a full repeal, it is not yet time to celebrate the end of this appalling and shameful law. The discharges must end.”

Because Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell remains the law until full repeal is achieved, NCLR encourages active-duty service members, including the reserves and the National Guard, to read SLDN’s current warning:

U.S. Department of State: “U.S. Appalled by Sentencing of Couple in Malawi”

May 24, 2010

from the U.S. Department of State

The United States is appalled by the conviction and sentencing of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza to 14 years in jail with hard labor under Malawian law for violating Malawi Penal Code Chapter 15, Section 153 and 156, under which they had been charged with “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and “gross indecency.” The conviction and sentencing are a significant step backward for the Government of Malawi’s human rights record. Malawi must abide by its human rights obligations.

We view the criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity and sentencing to 14 years hard labor as a deeply troubling violation of human rights. Decriminalization of homosexuality is integral to the continued protection of universal human rights in Malawi. It is also crucial to the urgent need to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS – a fight in which the United States is closely allied with the Malawian people.

We remain disturbed by harassment, persecution, and exclusion based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever it occurs. The State Department will continue to stand against any efforts to marginalize, criminalize, and penalize members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gender community worldwide. We urge Malawi and all countries with similar laws to take the necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular arrests, detentions, or executions.

NCLR Condemns Arizona’s Unconstitutional Anti-Immigration Law

April 26, 2010

Today the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) released a statement strongly condemning the passage of Arizona’s “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” (SB 1070).  The new law would require law enforcement officials to stop people whom they believe are in the U.S. illegally and demand proof of their immigration status. Under the law, it would be a misdemeanor if stopped without carrying immigration papers and also would allow Arizona residents to sue local law enforcement agencies if they believe SB 1070 is not being enforced. In addition to the widespread condemnation of the bill by civil rights organizations, President Obama has called the measure “misguided” and that it threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

A statement from Kate Kendell, Esq., Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights

“Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has tarnished her leadership and the state of Arizona.  By signing a bill that empowers police offices to accost any person and demand proof of legal residence, Brewer has effectively turned Arizona into a police state in which it will be open season on any person who stands out as different–whether based on their race, sexual orientation, or any other arbitrary factor.  This new law is a perfect example of what happens when public officials and legislators act based on short-sighted animosity toward one segment of our community–in this case, undocumented immigrants. The result is to erode freedom for all and to undermine the most basic principles of our democracy.  This law is an outrageous violation of the right to privacy and equal protection, and we strongly support efforts to challenge its constitutionality.”

read more about NCLR’s immigration work


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