Monday, January 12, 2009

Voting for the freedom to marry does not hurt politicians, new study confirms

A new study by Freedom to Marry released today shows that voting for the freedom to marry and against anti-gay/anti-marriage measures does not cost politicians reelection:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Best Interests of the Child: New York Times Editorial

 January 6, 2009
The Best Interests of the Child
W.H., an infant, was reportedly removed from her parents by Arkansas's Department of Human Services after she was taken to a hospital with injuries that strongly suggested abuse. Fortunately for W.H., her grandmother, a registered nurse, was eager to take her in. But there was a hitch. Her grandmother lives with another woman, and a ballot initiative recently passed in Arkansas makes it illegal for gay and unmarried heterosexual couples to adopt or become foster parents. Arkansas courts should strike down this offensive new law.
Arkansas has a long tradition of allowing child welfare professionals to decide who should become a foster or adoptive parent. Anti-gay forces, however, have campaigned to disqualify gay people. In 2006, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a regulation barring gay people from becoming foster parents.
Last year anti-gay activists promoted Act 1, a ballot referendum that broadened the ban to include unmarried heterosexual couples. In November, it passed with about 57 percent of the vote. The A.C.L.U. of Arkansas is challenging the new law, on behalf of a group of would-be parents and children, contending that it discriminates against gay and unmarried straight couples and that it makes it impossible to place children in the best homes.
The new law is undeniably discriminatory. Under Arkansas law, people convicted of major crimes, including contributing to the delinquency of a minor, remain eligible to adopt children or become foster parents. Single people who have no partner — or who have a large number of casual sex partners — are also eligible. Anyone who is in a committed relationship, gay or straight, but is not married is automatically barred.
The new law also interferes with the Department of Human Services' ability to do its job of making individualized assessments of prospective parents and placing children in the homes that are best able to meet their needs. As the W.H. case suggests, an unmarried couple could be the most qualified parents. And because of the shortage of foster parents, the ban is very likely to make children wait substantially longer for a loving home.
Arkansas's new law was a victory for the forces of bigotry and a major setback for the guiding principle of the law in adoption and foster care: the best interests of the child.

Smith to discuss ‘What’s Next For Equal Rights After Amendment 2?’

Smith to discuss 'What's Next For Equal Rights After Amendment 2?'

The Democratic Club of the Islands is featuring Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality America, to speak to all interested islanders on Thursday, January 15 at 7 p.m. at the Sanibel Public Library, 770 Dunlop Road.

Previously, Smith was director of The Human Rights Task Force of Florida. She joined the organization in 1993 after serving as one of four national co-chairs on the 1993 march on Washington, D.C. and taking part in the historic, first-ever meeting between LGBT leaders and a sitting U.S. President (Bill Clinton) in the White House.

Smith has led advocacy efforts in Florida at the state level at a time of unprecedented attacks on the gay and lesbian community, serving as Equality Florida's lead lobbyist, heading efforts to stop discriminatory legislation and ballot measures and to overturn Florida's ban on adoption by gay and lesbian parents.

Her experience in community organizing, social change and politics includes her service as campaign manager for Citizens for a Fair Tampa, a successful effort to prevent repeal of that city's human rights ordinance, and her own campaign in 1991 for Tampa City Council. An award-winning journalist, Smith has written syndicated columns for general audience publications.

Democratic Club of the Islands members are also urged to attend this meeting to hear exciting news about the restructuring of the club and to learn new opportunities for activism in the Obama era. Call Brian Anderson at 472-2206 for more information.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hillsborough Library "Gay Pride" Policy Under Review

The Hillsborough County policy on "gay pride" displays in county  buildings will be heard by the Policy and By Laws 
Subcommittee/Hillsborough County Library Board on January 22, 2009 at 
3 p.m.  Any subcommittee meeting is of course open to the 
public.Please note that the meeting will be at the Town 'N Country 

POLICY & BYLAWS COMMITTEE--Thursday, January 22, 2009, 3:00 p.m.,  Town 'N Country Library
LIBRARY BOARD MEETING-Thursday, January 22, 2009, 4:00 p.m., Town 'N

The address for Town ´N Country Library is: 
7606 Paula Drive, Suite 120 
Tampa, Florida 33615-4116 
Below is a link to the website that contains map and directions to
the library.

Bob Barr: No Defending the Defense of Marriage Act

From the Los Angeles Times


No Defending the Defense of Marriage Act

The author of the federal Defense of Marriage Act now thinks it's time for his law to get the boot -- but for political reasons, not in support of gays.
By Bob Barr

January 5, 2009

Excerpt 1

In 1996, as a freshman member of the House of Representatives, I wrote the Defense of Marriage Act, better known by its shorthand acronym, DOMA, than its legal title. The law has been a flash-point for those arguing for or against same-sex marriage ever since President Clinton signed it into law. Even President-elect Barack Obama has grappled with its language, meaning and impact.

I can sympathize with the incoming commander in chief. And, after long and careful consideration, I have come to agree with him that the law should be repealed.

The left now decries DOMA as the barrier to federal recognition and benefits for married gay couples. At the other end of the political spectrum, however, DOMA has been lambasted for subverting the political momentum for a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In truth, the language of the legislation -- like that of most federal laws -- was a compromise.

DOMA was indeed designed to thwart the then-nascent move in a few state courts and legislatures to afford partial or full recognition to same-sex couples. The Hawaii court case Baehr vs. Lewin, still active while DOMA was being considered by Congress in mid-1996, provided the immediate impetus.

Excerpt 2: 
In effect, DOMA's language reflects one-way federalism: It protects only those states that don't want to accept a same-sex marriage granted by another state. Moreover, the heterosexual definition of marriage for purposes of federal laws -- including, immigration, Social Security survivor rights and veteran's benefits -- has become a de facto club used to limit, if not thwart, the ability of a state to choose to recognize same-sex unions.

Even more so now than in 1996, I believe we need to reduce federal power over the lives of the citizenry and over the prerogatives of the states. It truly is time to get the federal government out of the marriage business. In law and policy, such decisions should be left to the people themselves.

In 2006, when then-Sen. Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he said, "Decisions about marriage should be left to the states." He was right then; and as I have come to realize, he is right now in concluding that DOMA has to go. If one truly believes in federalism and the primacy of state government over the federal, DOMA is simply incompatible with those notions.

Bob Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 and was the Libertarian Party's 2008 nominee for president.