National News: July/August 2014

TexasDadsTexas Dads Denied Parental Rights

Two Texas fathers are fighting for the right to be legally recognized as such. Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs are each the biological father of twin sons – half brothers who share an egg donor – but ran into trouble when they sought to “cross adopt” the other’s child.

According to GLAAD, neither Hanna nor Riggs are listed as fathers on either of their sons’ birth certificates, which the men have not been able to see. They petitioned a judge in Fort Worth to add each of their names to their biological sons’ birth certificates and to second-parent adopt, the boys. The judge has denied the family both requests.

In Texas, as in 17 other states, the law is “unclear” as to whether LGBT parents can jointly adopt, meaning such family protections vary from judge to judge or county to county. Additionally, Texas does not recognize the men’s marriage, making second-parent adoption harder to achieve.

Executive Order a Boon for LGBT Rights

President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, a White House official told the Associated Press.
The official – who insisted on anonymity – would not say when Obama planned to sign the order, only that the president had asked his staff to prepare a measure for his signature.

Maryland Trans. Protection Law Withstands Repeal Effort

Last month, Gay Life reported on the passage of a Maryland law that protects transgender people from discrimination in matters of housing, employment, credit and use of public accommodations under legislation.
Opponents of the negatively dubbed “Bathroom Bill,” launched a petition drive, hoping to collect enough signatures to put it up for a referendum vote later this year.  The group fell roughly 1,000 short of the required signatures required to get the issue on the ballot. The law will go into effect in October.

rick-perryTexas Republicans Support “Conversion” Therapy

The Texas Republican Party has adopted a revised platform that endorses voluntary LGBT “conversion” therapy. The copy of the Republican Party of Texas’ 2014 platform, obtained by the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle, states: “We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (above) defended the party’s backing of the controversial “treatment” by likening gays and lesbians to alcoholics. “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry told those in attendance at the Commonwealth Club of California.  “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

Trans. Woman Wins Nevada Primary

Lauren Scott, a transgender Republican, won the GOP primary for the state Assembly’s 30th District, which includes parts of Democratic-leaning Reno.

Scott, who won 58% of the vote, is the executive director of Equality Nevada and a Gulf War veteran.  If elected in November, she could be the first openly-transgender state legislator. However, Dana Beyer – also a transgender woman – is running in Maryland’s Democratic primary for a state Senate seat and could also earn that title.

punchedVideo Shows Cop Punching 19-year-old Teen at Pittsburgh Pride Celebration

A video circling the Internet shows a police officer using what appears to be excessive force on a 19-year-old Pittsburgh PrideFest attendee. Local news channel WPXI-TV reported that Ariel Lawther was fighting with a man named Eric Moore when the involved officer went to break the fight up.

The criminal complaint obtained by WPXI stated that the officer “pulled the woman out and grabbed her hair and punched her in the stomach a few times.”  Lawther was arrested and is facing several charges, including resisting arrest.  She posted $5,000 bail and has since been released from the Allegheny County Jail.  Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is launching an investigation into the video to determine if excessive force was used.  Officials also announced that the officer involved has been placed on desk duty pending the results of the investigation.

Marriage Equality News Brief:
20 and Counting…

District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down a Wisconsin law that banned same-sex marriages, ruling that it violated the Constitution’s equal-protection clause. Ten days after her ruling, same-sex marriages came to a halt while an appeal from Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is pending.  According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) approximately 500 couples wed during that time. The HRC also said it is expected that Van Hollen will appeal the ruling to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The day Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban was declared unconstitutional, seven couples in North Dakota filed a lawsuit challenging the federal constitutionality their of state’s marriage equality ban. Until now, North Dakota’s marriage ban had been the only one in the U.S. not facing a legal challenge.
The Supreme Court denied -without comment – a request from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to prevent same-sex couples from marrying in Oregon. The anti-LGBT group filed an appeal of a May ruling striking down the state’s marriage ban, and sought to prevent the issuance of licenses until the matter is decided. Hundreds of same-sex couples have wed in Oregon since the ruling took effect May 19.

By Rachel Roth


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