Maine Senate Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill

April 30, 2009

The Maine Senate this morning passed a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in Maine.

The Senate voted 20-15 in favor of the measure.

Supporters say it would end discrimination against gays and lesbians and opponents say the proposal is an attack against the institution of marriage.

This morning’s vote means the bill has cleared its first hurdle in the Legislature. However, it still needs to pass through the House of the Representatives. And if it passes the Legislature, it will need the signature of Gov. John Baldacci, who has not yet said whether he will support it.

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Breaking News: House Passes Hate Crimes Bill

April 29, 2009

Great news! The House of Representatives voted 249 to 175 to pass the fully inclusive Hate Crimes Bill, also known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act/The Matthew Shepard Act. This is an incredible victory on much-needed legislation to protect the entire LGBT community. NCLR extends our thanks to all congressmembers who voted for the measure.

We now look to the Senate to act quickly on the companion bill that was introduced in the Senate yesterday as The Matthew Shepard Act.

President Obama has made it clear that he supports swift passage of the this bill.

The Hate Crimes Bill protects the LGBT community against hate-motivated crimes by giving the federal government jurisdiction over these crimes and providing resources for state and local law enforcement. It also sends a clear message that hate-motivated crimes are taken seriously by our government.

Stay tuned, we’ll keep you updated on all the latest news from Washington as this crucial legislation makes its way through Congress. Our thanks go to our colleagues at the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and all who have advocated for this bill for their extraordinary work.

Unfortunately, there continue to be many families affected by hate violence, but today I want to extend a special word of thanks to Judy and Dennis Shepard, whose loving work in Matthew’s name for more than a decade has helped to bring us to this moment.

Ever onward,

Bill Addresses Transgender Inmates in California

April 29, 2009

by Don Thompson | AP

SACRAMENTO—The state Assembly will consider a bill as early as Thursday that would require state prison officials to take inmates’ sexual preference and gender identity into account when they make housing decisions.

The bill by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, is supported by gay rights groups that cite studies showing that homosexual, bisexual or transgender inmates are more vulnerable to abuse. It has cleared two committees with little opposition.

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read NCLR’s press release “Meeting to Highlight Issues Faced by LGBT People in California Prisons”

New Hampshire Senate Votes to Allow Gay Marriage

April 29, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. – The state Senate has voted to make New Hampshire the fifth state to allow gay marriage.

The 13-11 vote came after a 45 minute debate over an emotional issue that drew 500 people to the Statehouse for a hearing earlier this month.

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Hate Crime Verdict Sends Message

April 29, 2009

By Kenneth Buck, Weld County District Attorney
Guest Commentary | The Denver Post

In July 2008, Angie Zapata, a young transgender woman, was brutally murdered in Greeley, bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher by a man she befriended on a social networking site. The motivation of her killer was clear: He hated gay and transgender people.

As district attorney of Weld County, I made the decision to charge the defendant with a bias-motivated crime under Colorado law.

Weld County is a tolerant community, but we don’t tolerate illegal, and especially violent, behavior. I never witnessed hesitancy on behalf of any member of law enforcement to fully pursue justice in this case. The Greeley Police Department did an excellent job in this investigation, and the prosecutors in this office spent many sleepless nights preparing this case for trial.

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President Obama Urges Passage of the Federal Hate Crimes Bill

April 29, 2009

This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance – legislation that will enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association. I also urge the Senate to work with my Administration to finalize this bill and to take swift action.

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Some See Gay Marriage Coming to Illinois

April 29, 2009

Rather than head to Iowa, many same-sex couples in Chicago who want to marry seem content to wait until they can legally wed in Illinois, demonstrating a sense of optimism about the issue once unheard of in the gay and lesbian community.

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