poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Monday, July 12, 2004

Dangerous Marriage Amendment Undermines American Tradition, ACLU of Illinois Tells Illinois Senators

CHICAGO, July 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- With a vote on the proposed "Federal Marriage Amendment" looming in the United States Senate, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today called on the state's two U.S. Senators to reject the "extreme act" of amending the Constitution to define marriage. In a letter to Sen. Richard Durbin and Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, released by the organization in Chicago, the ACLU of Illinois makes clear that proposal is unnecessary and runs directly counter to our national tradition of extending rights through the Constitution. The letter notes that the proposal threatens, "to write discrimination directly into our Constitution."

The ACLU of Illinois letter, signed by GLBT/HIV Rights Project Director John Knight, notes that the amendment process never has been used to deny rights to a large group in our nation. Moreover, the letter further explains that there is no "urgent or compelling reason" to have the federal government define marriage and deny the rights for the states to make judgments in this area as they see fit.

The debate over denying marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples has escalated following the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that those couples cannot be denied the same rights enjoyed by straight married couples, and the city of San Francisco and other local governments issuance of marriage licenses to over 7,000 gay and lesbian couples. Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples on May 17, 2004.

In response to the these actions, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) and Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment, which, if adopted, deny marriage rights to all same-sex and unmarried couples, and prevent state and federal courts from conferring any of the legal benefits of marriage. The Senate has scheduled a debate and vote on the proposal in July.


Attack on gay man protested in Seattle
Associated Press

About 150 protesters upset by an attack on a gay man heard the police chief promise that whoever was responsible will be brought to justice.

The group rallied Sunday at Westlake Center, then marched to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center on Capitol Hill for a benefit to help support Micah Painter, 23, a landscaper and personal trainer.

Painter was leaving Timberline Spirits, a gay bar, last month when three men beat him and cut him with a broken liquor bottle, leaving him severely injured.

"We are going to watch this case and make sure that it is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We've got to be vigilant," rally organizer Michael McAfoose said


SLO celebrates gay pride on eve of key vote
Nathan Welton
The Tribune

SAN LUIS OBISPO - As a key congressional vote on the same-sex marriage issue looms this week, Sunday's eighth annual Pride in the Plaza in San Luis Obispo took on a political twist.

The gay-pride event at Mission Plaza, capping seven days of celebrations, was an important way to raise awareness of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, its organizers said.

But it also came as the Senate prepares to vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban marriage between same-sex couples nationwide.


With Netherlands leading, gay unions gain momentum in Europe
Chicago Tribune

DE KWAKEL, Netherlands - (KRT) - As Earl Carr and Peter Stroex walked down the aisle in their tuxedos, the gospel choir launched into a soulful rendition of "O Happy Day."

"It really was a happy day," said Carr, 41. "My mother was crying the whole time. I was crying for the first half of the wedding, but fortunately Peter was cool, calm and collected. Peter is the stabilizer in our relationship."

Carr and Stroex were married last August in a civil ceremony that has become routine in the Netherlands, the first country to fully legalize same-sex marriages. Since April 1, 2001, when the landmark legislation went into effect, more than 6,000 gay couples in the Netherlands have wed.

Thus far, the dire consequences predicted by many religious conservatives have not come to pass - "God did not flood the Netherlands," joked Carr - and the idea of same-sex marriages seems to be gaining momentum across Europe.


Experts in Sex Field Say Conservatives Interfere With Health and Research
New York Times

For years, Advocates for Youth, a Washington-based organization devoted to adolescent sexual health, says, it received government grants without much trouble. Then last year it was subjected to three federal reviews.

James Wagoner, the president of Advocates for Youth, said the reviews were prompted by concerns among some members of Congress that his group was using public funds to lobby against programs that promoted sexual abstinence before marriage. Although that was not the case, Mr. Wagoner said, the government officials made their point.

"For 20 years, it was about health and science, and now we have a political ideological approach," he said. "Never have we experienced a climate of intimidation and censorship as we have today."

Mr. Wagoner is among the professionals in sex-related fields who have started speaking out against what they say is growing interference from conservatives in and out of government with their work in research, education and disease prevention.


City contractors get a boost from Albany as they hunt for domestic partner insurance. > By Xiaoqing Rong  

The City Council made history last month when it overrode a mayoral veto and passed the Equal Benefits Bill, requiring anyone with a city contract of $100,000 or more to provide health insurance for domestic partners. But there’s still a major snag: while the city can mandate that its contractors offer these benefits, it can’t require local insurance companies to provide them.

“For small organizations, if there is no exemption when the insurance is not available, that is a big problem,” said Jon Small, president of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, an umbrella organization with 1,300 member groups.

Just ask the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. Established in 1983, the center had been using Oxford Health Plans for many years. But when they decided to offer domestic partner benefits to their roughly 50 employees in 2000, Oxford refused, saying it only offered this type of service to groups with more than 100 employees. Attempts to get other insurers to fill the gap failed, leaving the center to fulfill its equal benefits commitment creatively by increasing monthly wages up to $200 for employees who claimed health insurance for their partners, a method it is still using. Yet the cash option is far from ideal, explained the center, because it makes both payroll and pension calculations more difficult.


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