poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Protect Churches from Transsexuals Legal Challenges'
By Vivienne Morgan and Nick Mead, Political Staff, PA News

Religious organisations must be protected against exposure to costly and divisive litigation by moves giving transsexuals legal recognition of their acquired gender, MPs heard today.

Tory Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) said transsexuals would be able to take legal action against churches refusing to comply with the change.

He also argued that such organisations should be exempted from a legal obligation not to disclose the fact that a person had changed gender.

The Government was putting the church “at the mercy” of the transsexual individual who might sue, he warned.


Gay marriage loophole to be axed
By Chris Jones

THE Howard Government will outlaw the Australian recognition of gay marriages formed overseas by inserting the words "man" and "woman" into the Marriage Act.

Prime Minister John Howard yesterday told his parliamentary colleagues that Federal Cabinet had decided to "go forward" with the plan so as to protect the traditional definition of marriage and head-off three imminent court challenges to the law as it stands.

Despite being lobbied by gay rights groups such as Rainbow Labor, the Opposition has indicated it will support the Government's controversial legislative amendments.

Labor plans to remove discrimination against gay couples through changes to other legislation


Only One Mass. Town Remaining For Out-Of-State Gay Couples
by Margo Williams Newscenter

(Boston, Massachusetts) Provincetown was the only community in Massachusetts allowing out-of-state same-sex couples to marry Tuesday, and it too may end the practice tonight.

Worcester, Somerville and Springfield ended their protest against Gov. Mitt Romney's direction that it was illegal to allow gay couples from outside Massachusetts to wed after Attorney General Thomas Reilly Friday issued a notice to the dissident towns that his reading of a 1913 law concurs with the governor's opinion.

Somerville and Springfield stopped issuing the licenses immediately.  Worcester continued giving out licenses on the weekend Provincetown's Board of Selectmen will meet tonight to decide whether to stop issuing the marriage licenses or fight the state in court. 

Romney, a Republican and devout Mormon, has fought same-sex marriage since the state's highest court overturned laws preventing gays from tying the knot.  After being thwarted by the legislature, the courts, and Reilly, Romney turned his attention to same-sex couples from outside the state.


Justices meet to consider same sex marriage law

The Arizona Supreme Court was scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider whether to hear evidence and arguments over Arizona's ban on gay marriages.

The case involves two men, Don Standhardt and Tod Keltner, who were denied marriage licenses last July by a superior court clerk. The Arizona Court of Appeals has already ruled that court clerks acted properly in refusing a marriage license.

In the Phoenix couple's appeal to the Supreme Court they argue that the justices should hear the case because barring same-sex couples from civil marriage discriminated against the couples and their children in violation of state constitutional rights of privacy and equal treatment under the law.

Although the case is on the Supreme Court's agenda, it's no sure thing that the court will agree to rule on the issue. And if the court does accept jurisdiction, oral arguments in the case could be months off and an ultimate decision months after that.

Court watchers say they doubt the justices will take on the case because the lower courts decision is well reasoned.


Anti-gays picket Ellensburg church
Lesbian Methodist pastor not present

Mass went on as scheduled Sunday at the Ellensburg First United Methodist Church despite picketers from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, who lined the sidewalk holding anti-gay placards.

The grounds of the church, recently the home parish of lesbian minister Karen Dammann, were decorated with rainbow-colored ribbons, the sidewalk was chalked with colorful messages of tolerance, and the perimeter was lined with yellow tape reading "hate-free zone." The seven picketers, carrying signs with inflammatory messages such as "Thank God for AIDS," were outnumbered by counterdemonstrators.

"I feel a lot of kinship and support of the Ellensburg Methodists," said Linda Lambert, a Methodist from Bellingham who made the trip east so she could show support. "I wanted to be here for them."


Gay student's essay teaches the teacher a new lesson in tolerance

Education is often a reciprocal enterprise.

Those who attempt to teach also learn from their students; they have much to tell us. We will be better mentors and better people if we hear them well.

I'm recalling a young man who, some 15 years ago, wrote an essay on what it was like to be gay in the serene, comfortable environments of north Modesto.

He had been writing in response to some such banal topic as "My Biggest Problem" and what he shared with me clearly transcended the demands of the assignment.


Chicago’s lesbian leader
Deborah Mell is trying to convince Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to support same-sex marriage—after all, he is her brother-in-law
By Lisa Neff

In a city where citizens speak often of “clout,” Deborah Mell has commanding connections. The 35-year-old lesbian landscape supervisor from Chicago’s north side is the daughter of Richard Mell, a powerful Democratic alderman from the city’s 33rd Ward. And she’s the sister-in-law of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who opposes equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

In light of the recent push for same-sex marriage, Mell decided to take advantage of her family ties to lobby for gay rights. She has been seen walking the halls of the state capitol in Springfield and visiting the governor’s mansion to persuade her brother-in-law to support marriage equality, all of which has gotten the attention of the Illinois political elite and the national media.

At a March 4 marriage rally in Chicago, Mell allegedly bumped into a police officer, resulting in her arrest for battery, a charge she is fighting. She spoke with The Advocate in mid April.  

Your name first came up in media accounts of the Valentine’s Day vigil at the Chicago home of Cardinal Francis George. Was that your first gay rights action?
Yeah, I guess I hadn’t been in the loop before. 

What brought you out that day?
I wanted to lend a voice. I was there because it was a visible protest for gay marriage. I don’t really care what the cardinal thinks. 


Americans “Courting Disaster” with Next Supreme Court Justices
At Stake With Next President’s Nominees to High Court: Civil Rights, Privacy, Clean Air & Water, Religious Liberty and Other Rights and Legal Protections

With crucial Supreme Court rulings continuing to be decided by narrow margins, and with a Supreme Court vacancy long overdue, the next President is likely to nominate new Supreme Court justices who will have a huge and long-lasting impact on constitutional rights, liberties and laws, according to a report released today by People For the American Way Foundation. Courting Disaster 2004 documents that additional Supreme Court justices in the mold of current Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would have a devastating impact on civil rights, privacy and reproductive rights, the First Amendment, environmental protection, and much more.

“Courting Disaster makes it clear just how much is at stake with the next Supreme Court justices,” said People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas. “Most Americans have no idea how important the Supreme Court is to their daily lives – or that so many basic legal and constitutional protections are hanging by a one- or two-vote thread.”

Neas noted that it has been ten years since the last Supreme Court confirmation, the longest interval between vacancies since 1823. “Over the past half century, there has been on the average one Supreme Court nomination every two years,” Neas said. “We are long overdue. In fact, over the next few years, we could have multiple vacancies, comparable to the four vacancies between 1969 and 1972 and the five between 1986 and 1991. That would define American law for a generation or more.”

Those multiple vacancies would occur in the context of an aggressive right-wing campaign to create a federal judiciary dominated by a legal theory that would overturn many of the legal and social justice gains of the past 70 years. Proponents of a new “federalism” are pushing to have the courts return the nation to a pre-New Deal legal era when states’ rights and property rights were given greater constitutional importance than the protection of individuals’ rights and liberties. On the Supreme Court, the most aggressive promoters of this theory are Justices Scalia and Thomas, who President Bush has said will be his models for future high court nominees.


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