North Carolina State Senator Floyd McKissick Defends Anti-Bullying Bill

May 6, 2009

The Senate voted 25-22 Tuesday to approve a controversial anti-bullying bill that specifically refers to gay and lesbian students as targets for harassment. S526 would require school districts to protect all students from bullying, but – and here’s the catch – it includes a list of examples of common reasons for bullying, like race, gender, and sexual orientation.

North Carolina State Senator Floyd McKissick compared the bill’s enumerations to those upheld by the US Supreme Court in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. You can hear his speech here. (3:33)


NC Senate Gives Its Final OK to Anti-Bullying Bill

May 6, 2009

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A Senate bill that directs how North Carolina school districts should write anti-bullying rules is heading to the House.

Senators voted 26-22 on Wednesday to support the legislation. The chamber gave initial approval Tuesday by a similar, close vote after lengthy debate. There was no debate Wednesday.

The measure would require districts set policies that list perceived characteristics of a person susceptible to bullying. Bill supporters said the list is needed so districts know what type of bullying is unacceptable.

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In the Barracks, Out of the Closet

May 6, 2009

Room for Debate | The New York Times

President Obama has said he will abolish the 16-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military only if they do not disclose their sexual orientation. Nationwide, polls show that a majority of Americans support lifting the ban on openly gay members of the military. But support in the military’s ranks and among retired officers is mixed. While several prominent retired generals and admirals have urged a repeal, others have said that allowing openly gay people to join the service would hurt recruiting and retention.

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Lesbians to Attempt First Gay Marriage in Russia

May 6, 2009

By Amie Ferris-Rotman | Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A lesbian couple will try to defy deep-rooted Russian homophobia next week in the first attempt at a gay marriage even though rights activists say it will be rejected outright.

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights Applauds Maine Marriage Victory

May 6, 2009

(San Francisco, CA, May 6, 2009)—Today, John Baldacci, Governor of Maine, signed a law that ended the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in Maine. The bill sailed through the state’s Senate and House of Representatives with overwhelming support, and made Maine the fifth state to provide full legal equality to same-sex couples.

A statement from Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“We commend Governor Baldacci, the Maine legislature, and the tremendous efforts of Equality Maine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, and the Maine Women’s Lobby for ending discrimination against same-sex couples in marriage. As a nation, we are seeing incredible momentum in favor of full legal equality for same-sex couples and their families. Since the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the legal challenge to Proposition 8, three states — Iowa, Vermont, and now Maine — have eliminated discriminatory marriage bans.

Last year, the California Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking marriage equality decision that paved the way for today’s victories. Public opinion has shifted tremendously since the ruling, and now more Americans support marriage equality than ever before. The California Supreme Court is once again in a position to affirm the central role of equal protection in our constitutional democracy and to make clear that minority rights cannot be put up for a vote.

We are hopeful that the California Supreme Court will protect equality and hold that Proposition 8 is invalid, as the California Legislature, the Governor of California, hundreds of civil rights groups, bar associations, religious leaders and organizations, women’s organizations, and leading constitutional scholars have urged to the Court to do.”

The California Supreme Court is expected to rule on the validity of Proposition 8, which altered the California Constitution to eliminate the right to marry for same-sex couples, by June 3, 2009. For more information about NCLR’s Proposition 8 legal challenge, visit www.nclrights.org.


Iowa Gay Marriage Ruling Could Set the Tone in the Prairie State

May 6, 2009

Springfield, IL – The recent legalization of same-sex marriage in Iowa is credited for helping build momentum for civil union legislation in Illinois. House Bill 2234, the Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act, would legalize civil unions and grant same-sex couples in a civil union many of the same legal rights as married couples. The legislation is currently waiting for a vote in the Illinois House.

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Matthew Shepard Act

May 6, 2009

Editorial | The New York Times

After years of unconscionable delay, the House has approved legislation that would, for the first time, extend federal hate-crimes law to give substantive coverage to gay people. The act would be an important step forward in protecting all minorities from violence and a tribute to a young man whose life was cut short by bigotry.

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Study Says New York Latinos Support Gay Marriage

May 6, 2009

by Humberto Martinez | The Times Union

ALBANY — The University at Albany released a study on Tuesday polling the Hispanic population of New York and surrounding states on hot political issues.
The New York Latino Research and Resources Network (NYLARNet) surveyed more than 1,200 Hispanics in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Jose Cruz, director of NYLARNet, said the study found half of Latinos in those states supported gay marriage or civil unions despite only 18 percent identifying themselves as liberal.

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Governor Signs LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom

May 6, 2009

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today signed into law LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom.

“I have followed closely the debate on this issue. I have listened to both sides, as they have presented their arguments during the public hearing and on the floor of the Maine Senate and the House of Representatives. I have read many of the notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my decision carefully,” Governor Baldacci said. “I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste.”

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