National News: November 2014
Supreme Court Non-Decision Clears Way for Marriage Equality
The Supreme Court denied review of seven petitions challenging same-sex marriage bans, likely leading to wide-spread marriage equality.
After the announcement, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the that all of county clerks in the state are “obligated” to issue same-sex marriage and that his office won’t take up a marriage appeal. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, also announced that his office will no longer defend the state’s ban on marriage equality.
A Missouri judge ruled that the state’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriage violates the constitutional
right to equal protection. According to the Washington Blade, state officials haven’t indicated whether they plan to appeal the ruling. A judge in Kansas also ordered Johnson County clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
In Virginia, government agencies must incorporate same-sex marriage recognition into their policies under an executive order issued Tuesday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 30 states including Washington, D.C.
Minn. Board Delays Guidelines for Trans High-School Athletes
A board in Minnesota that consists of high-school sports coaches and administrators will vote Dec. 4 on a proposal to establish guidelines regarding transgender athletes’ requests to participate in school athletic programs. The board said that they were postponing the vote while “a committee examines the issue,” BuzzFeedNews reported. According to BuzzFeed, The Star Tribune, the largest newspaper in the state, recently aired a full-page advertisement from an anti-LGBT group that criticized the proposal.
National Park Service Announces Grants for LGBT Groups
LGBT groups in Kentucky and New York will receive matching grants from the National Park Service as part of an effort to expand the National Register of Historic Places. According to the Washington Blade, the National Park Service has given a $25,000 grant to the LGBT Heritage of Kentucky Project, a group that supports adding Louisville’s Henry Clay Hotel and Whiskey Row Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places. LGBT Sites in New York City Project received a grant in the amount of $49,999.
Latino, Asian, African and Native American groups in Maryland, Virginia, California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Washington also received matching grants from the National Park Service that total $500,000.
House Democrats Seek LGBT Immigrant Protections
House Democrats are urging the president to consider LGBT issues when tackling immigration reform. In a Sept. 29 letter to President Obama, 44 members of Congress wrote that any forthcoming executive orders on immigration reform must take into account the “uniquely dangerous and difficult circumstances facing LGBT immigrants.” The letter, was led by Reps. Jared Polis (CO), Raul Grijalva (AZ), David Cicilline (RI) and Zoe Lofgren (CA). No Republicans signed.
Same-Sex Marriage Bans Struck Down in Idaho, Nevada
A federal appeals court declared gay marriage legal in Idaho and Nevada in early October. The declaration brought the number of states that allow gay marriage to 32. Judge Stephen Reinhart wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel that laws that treat people differently based on sexual orientation are unconstitutional unless there is a compelling government interest.
In the statement he said, “Idaho and Nevada’s marriage laws, by preventing same-sex couples from marrying and refusing to recognize same-sex marriages celebrated elsewhere, impose profound legal, financial, social and psychic harms on numerous citizens of those states.” He also rejected the argument that same sex marriages will devalue traditional marriage, leading to out-of-wedlock births.
NYC May Update Transgender Birth Certificate Policies
The New York City Council and the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) are advancing proposed policy changes that would allow individuals with referrals from health care professionals to change the gender on their birth certificates. Current policy requires proof of gender-reassignment surgery before birth certificates can be altered.
Calif. Bans “Gay Panic” Legal Defense
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation outlawing the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses that have been used in LGBT hate crimes. The law is the first of its kind in the country that specifically addresses the defense that claims that a person’s overwhelming hatred for LGBT people causes them to “panic” and commit terrible acts of violence against them.
Facebook Changes Name Policy
Last month, Living Out featured an article by Gwen Smith about the “real name” policy Facebook had implemented. Facebook has now reversed its policy demanding that people use their “real names” on their profiles. The company also apologized to transgender and drag queen users whose accounts were deleted for violating the policy. The company now calls for people to “use the authentic name they use in real life.”
By Rachel Roth