County executive seeks to amend civil rights laws
By Keith Ervin
Seattle Times staff reporter
King County Executive Ron Sims yesterday sent a package of legislative amendments to the County Council that would expand local nondiscrimination laws to the smallest employers in unincorporated areas.
Sims' proposal would forbid discrimination by employers with as few as one employee. County code currently protects employees and potential employees of the county, county contractors and private employers with eight or more employees.
County Council members Dow Constantine, Bob Ferguson and Larry Gossett, all Seattle Democrats, signed on as sponsors of the amendments, which for the first time would ban discrimination on the basis of gender orientation — protecting "transgender individuals" or people who have a gender identification that may differ from their biological gender.
"I am particularly glad that we are finally opening our courts to sexual minorities who are discriminated against," Constantine said. "Our system of justice and our community will be the stronger for it." Existing law prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Sims' proposal also would:
New Law Prompts Feeling of Betrayal
Same-Sex Marriages, Unions Have No Legal Status in State
By Michael N. Graff
The Winchester Star
At face value, Judy Hoff has built a beautiful life in Virginia. With a home in the Shenandoah Valley, an ever-progressing career, and a loving partner, Hoff seemingly has many of life’s simple satisfactions. But after 25 years in the state, she says Thursday was the day Virginia turned its back on her.
Like many other same-sex union supporters in the state, Hoff is furious over a new Virginia law that denies same-sex couples the privileges that come with marriage — even if another state’s law validates that marriage.
Hoff, a 57-year-old school programs coordinator at Blandy Experimental Farm, stands less than two weeks away from completing her master’s degree in environmental education from Shenandoah University.
Pro-Gay Movement Gathers Steam in India
OneWorld South Asia
NEW DELHI, July 2 (OneWorld) - Ahead of a court hearing on a petition to abolish laws criminalizing homosexuality Monday, rights activists in India are also pressuring the government to give citizens the right to choose their partners.
Voices Against 377 - a coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGO) working for the rights of children, women and gay rights groups - has asked the federal Minister for Law and Justice Hansraj Bharadwaj to protect those being discriminated against because of their sexuality.
"We hope the new leadership will stand up to the expectations of the people and demonstrate, in no uncertain terms, its stated commitment to protecting the rights of marginalized sections of society, not in the least those whose very existence has been criminalized by law," states a letter sent to the minister Thursday.
Voices against 377 - which includes groups such as Amnesty International, Prism, women's group Jagori and the New Delhi-based Talking about Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues (TARSHI) - was formed in the aftermath of the Lucknow incident.
"We wanted a joint platform to help us raise our voices together," asserts Ponni, a New Delhi student and a member of Voices Against 377.
ACLU hits Virginia civil-union ban
By Christina Bellantoni
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia announced yesterday that it will challenge a new state law that bans civil unions.
"This is one of the most reprehensible acts of the Virginia General Assembly in years," said Kent Willis, the Virginia ACLU's executive director, calling the law "mean-spirited and morally indefensible."
The ACLU and many legal experts say the law is poorly written and could be used to prevent same-sex business partners or family members from entering into contracts such as buying property or medical directives.
The law, which went into effect yesterday, amends the state's Affirmation of Marriage Act to prohibit recognition of same-sex unions performed in other states.
It states: "A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited."