National News: December 2013
States Resist Processing Benefits for Gay Couples
Six states are defying the Pentagon’s orders to extend benefits to same-sex partners of National Guard personnel. According to The New York Times, bases in Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia instruct couples to travel to federal bases to register for a military spouse ID. The Times reports that lawmakers argue that National Guard units are state agencies that have to adhere to state laws — like gay marriage bans. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said that sending gay military couples to federal bases “protects the integrity of our state Constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has demanded states comply with national standards, but Pentagon officials have not said what steps they would take with states that do not fall in line.
Good Elections Returns for GLBT Candidates
Dozens of GLBT candidates came out victorious in the Nov. 5 elections, with two of America’s largest cities electing or re-electing GLBT mayors. Annise Parker secured a third term as mayor of Houston, and Washington state Sen. Ed Murray defeated incumbent Mike McGinn to become Seattle’s first openly gay mayor.
According to Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, 54 of the 85 candidates endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund were projected to win their respective races, and three candidates were headed to runoffs.
Senate Passes ENDA, Moves to House
The Senate voted 64-32 to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), marking the first time the chamber has approved the legislation since its introduction in 1994. Every Democratic senator and 10 Republicans voted in favor of the bill.
The bill, which would extend workplace discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity, now heads to the House, where it is unlikely to be passed as Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio deemed the legislation “unnecessary.”
Gay Marriage Legal in Illinois, Hawaii
State lawmakers in Hawaii and Illinois passed measures that legalized gay marriage. Governors in both states – Gov. Pat Quinn in Illinois and Hawaiian Gov. Neil Abercrombie – signed the landmark legislation into law last month, bringing the total number of states allowing gay marriage to 16.
In Hawaii, the law went into effect Dec. 2; in Illinois, on June 1.
The Cheney sisters got into a public feud last month after Liz Cheney – who is running for senator of Wyoming – told FOX News that she “believes in the traditional definition of marriage.” Liz went on to say that while she loves her sister Mary, who is married to a woman, “this is just an issue on which we disagree.”
Mary and her wife, Heather Poe, fired back on their Facebook pages, writing: “Liz – this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree, you’re just wrong – and on the wrong side of history.” Poe added that Liz’s anti-gay marriage stance is “offensive to say the least.” According to the The New York Times, she also brought up the residency controversy that has damaged Liz’s Senate campaign.
“I can’t help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other,” Poe wrote. “Yes, Liz, in 15 states and the District of Columbia, you are my sister-in-law.”
Waitress Claiming Tip Denied for ‘Gay Lifestyle’ Suspended
A New Jersey waitress for the Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater who claimed several weeks ago that she was denied a tip from a family because she is a lesbian, has now been suspended pending further investigation. In lieu of money, Dayna Morales, the 22-year old former Marine Corps member, had reported that she received a note on the receipt of a $93.55 bill that read: “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life.”
After telling CNN she “was offended … mad at first, and then I was more hurt,” and Morales’ story got out, tips had been pouring in from all over the world. The restaurant even set up a PayPal account and, as of press time, received more than $2,000.
The family accused of writing the note has since fired back, denying the allegations and claiming that they not only left a tip, but have shown the receipt and credit card statements to prove it.