National News: October 2015
Ky. Clerk Jailed, Still Won’t Sign Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples
The Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples spent some time in jail for her failure to comply with the law. Kim Davis of Rowan County spent five days in jail. She announced on her first day back at work that she will not personally issue any marriage licenses that go against her religious beliefs, but she left the door open for her deputies to continue giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples as long as those documents do not have Davis’ name or title on them. According to CNN, ten couples were issued licenses while Davis was in jail, and one couple received one on her first day back at work.
Pope Francis Meets with Kim Davis
Adding a surprise twist to the Pope’s first visit to the United States, Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk jailed for failing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples met privately with Pope Francis.
The 10-minute meeting took place at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, September 24th. The Pope, Davis, and her husband Joe were the only ones in attendance and it is rumored that pictures of the meeting will be released at some point, according to CNN.
In a statement on the Liberty Counsel website Davis said, “Pope Francis was kind, genuinely caring, and very personable. He even asked me to pray for him. Pope Francis thanked me for my courage and told me to ‘stay strong.'”
Speaking with reporters on board the Papal plane to Rome, Pope Francis stated, “conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right.” He continued, “it is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right.”
Tenn. Couple Refused Divorce, Judge Cites Gay Marriage
Two Tennessee residents are being forced to stay married by a judge who appears to be unhappy with the US Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.
The couple filed for divorce in 2014, but Judge Jeffrey Atherton refused to grant the split for a number of cited reasons, including the following: “Tennesseans have been deemed by the US Supreme Court to be incompetent to define and address such keystone/central institutions such as marriage, and, thereby, at minimum, contested divorces.”
Artherton went on to argue that because the Supreme Court redefined marriage in its decision, he wants it to now also define “when a marriage is no longer a marriage.”
Gay Veterans Seek to Upgrade ‘Dishonorable’ Discharges to ‘Honorable’
Aging veterans who were discharged between World War II and 2011 for being gay are fighting to repeal their dishonorable discharges.
According to the New York Times, an estimated 100,000 service members are eligible to apply for an “upgrade” to an honorable discharge – unless there were contributing factors such as misconduct – thanks to the 2011 decision to overturn a ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military.
History Made in Nashville Elections
For the first time, Nashville will have two openly LGBT council members. Nancy VanReece (right) won a seat on the Nashville Metro Council, representing District 8 in a runoff election on Sept. 10. She will join Brett Withers who in an earlier election gained enough votes to oust the incumbent council member representing District 6.
Before this year’s elections, there were three openly LGBT candidates in the entire state. There are presently five with a possibility of a sixth, depending on the outcome of the Memphis City Council election on Nov. 3, where Victory-endorsed candidate Charles “Chooch” Pickard is running to represent District 5.
Judge Won’t Perform Same-Sex Marriages
A judge in Oregon is refusing to perform same-sex marriages because of “deeply held religious beliefs.” Judge Vance Day (left) – former chairman of the state’s Republican Party – created a legal defense fund yesterday, apparently to pay for expenses he expects to incur fighting allegations he’s violating the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct as well as its constitution, reports Oregon Live.
Day hasn’t performed any same-sex marriages since becoming a judge in 2011, telling his clerks to send gay couples elsewhere. He stopped performing marriages entirely this past spring. Oregon law does not require judges to perform marriages, and there are apparently six other judges in Day’s county available to perform them.
Woman Granted Sex Surgery Parents Fought
A 48-year-old transgender woman is free to undergo gender-reassignment surgery after a judge rejected her parents’ effort to block the operation. Christine Kitzler’s parents alleged she was mentally incompetent and asked a judge to appoint her a legal guardian, as well as subject her to an independent medical exam.
After testifying on her behalf at an emergency hearing, Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. ruled that Kitzler “showed a clear understanding of the three-hour procedure and its risks.” Kitzler, who lives in Myrtle Beach, SC, had the surgery in Philadelphia, where the surgeon offered to cover the expense.
Trans Woman Denied New Driver’s License Sparks Review of Louisiana Policy
The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles will review its photograph policy after a trans woman said she was turned away for a driver’s license for not looking male. 21-year-old Alexandra Glover (right) had filmed an employee telling her that she couldn’t present as a woman if she was listed as a man.
The incident spurred an investigation on a rule barring people from “misrepresenting” their gender in identification pictures. Two days later the OMV announced they would allow trans people to get their photo taken as they appear in their day-to-day lives, The Advocate reported.
By Rachel Roth