June 4, 2012

Jive Five: 5 Top LGBT News Stories of the Week

Word cloud of LGBT news stories for the week ending June 3rd, 2012.
Gay News May 27th 2012 - June 3rd 2012

Here are the top 5 LGBT news stories of the past week, from 5/27/12 to 6/3/12.

1. The First Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

Seven married LGBT couples and 3 surviving spouses filed a federal lawsuit challenging DOMA for defining marriage as "only a legal union between one man and one woman." The 3 judge panel sitting in Boston found that denying federal benefits as prescribed in the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory.

But in examining Congress' justifications for enacting DOMA -- i.e., to preserve government resources (by denying tax advantages and Social Security benefits to same-sex married couples), to support child-rearing in a stable marriage, and a "moral disapproval of homosexuality" -- the First Circuit found those reasons lacking.

"We conclude, without resort to suspect classifications ..., that the rationales offered do not provide adequate support for section 3 of DOMA," First Circuit Judge Michael Boudin wrote for the court.

"Several of the reasons given do not match the statute and several others are diminished by specific holdings in Supreme Court decisions more or less directly on point," Boudin continued. "If we are right in thinking that disparate impact on minority interests and federalism concerns both require somewhat more in this case than almost automatic deference to Congress' will, this statute fails that test."

 2. Calling someone “gay” is not slander.

A New York state appeals court vacated decades of rulings that found if you call someone gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender - you were defaming the individual. The court found that if you aren’t defaming someone, that is isn’t slander.

“These appellate division decisions are inconsistent with current public policy and should no longer be followed,” stated the unanimous decision written by Justice Thomas Mercure of the Appellate Division’s Third Department based in Albany. While the decision sets new case law in New York now, it could still go to a definitive ruling by the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

The New York decision finds that the comment is now “based on a false premise that it is shameful and disgraceful to be described as lesbian, gay or bisexual.”

3. A petition with nearly 300,000 signatures was delivered to the Boy Scouts of America, demanding an end to LGBT discrimination, and reinstatement of Jennifer Tyrell as a Den Mother.

Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the author of My Two Moms, delivered a change.org petition with over 285,000 signatures to the Boy Scouts of America, demanding that they reinstate Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrell, as Den Mother of her local troop. Jennifer was summarily dismissed from her volunteer post when a homophobic individual notified the Boy Scouts that she was a lesbian. The petition also demands that the Boy Scouts eliminate its discriminatory anti-gay policy.

Zach Wahls, a 20-year-old engineering student at the University of Iowa who attained the organization's highest rank of Eagle Scout, has two lesbian mothers. He became an Internet sensation in January 2011 when his address to the Iowa House of Representatives supporting gay civil unions logged more than 2.5 million views on YouTube.

Wahls told reporters thousands of current and former scouts signed the petitions, with some posting comments contending that anti-gay policies hurt the organization and demean their scouting achievements.

"They (the petitioners) are ready for progress. We are ready for this progress," Wahls said. "I refuse to stand by idly as it (Boy Scouts) forfeits its cultural relevancy at the very moment this country needs it most."


4. Target sells t-shirts to support the Family Equality Council, a marriage equality advocacy group.

After donating a substantial amount of money to an anti-gay candidate for Minnesota governor, and supporting the Christian Values Network, an anti-gay organization affiliated with hate groups, Target did an about face and wanted to welcome and engage LGBT shoppers and their disposable income in Target stores. They started selling t-shirts to benefit the Family Equality Council, a marriage equality advocacy group.

"Target is pleased to be able to bring our guests products they want while, in turn, helping support the LGBT community through the donation of 100% of the purchase price to the Family Equality Council," the company said in a statement noting its long-standing support of the gay community.

Another statement from the retailer notes "a broad range of strongly held views" on the marriage issue and urges employees to vote.

Family Equality Council director Jennifer Chrisler said the T-shirt proceeds will fund her group's work around the country, ranging from community building to political advocacy. She added that Target, a longtime sponsor of the Twin Cities gay pride festival, is now sponsoring Family Equality Council retreats for gay families in Massachusetts and California.

5. The President declares that June is LGBT pride month.

President Obama issued a presidential proclamation that June is LGBT Pride Month. This is the fourth year in a row that the President recognized the importance of gay pride, and the first year he mentioned marriage equality in the pride proclamation.

President Obama for the first time included support for marriage rights for gay couples in his annual proclamation commemorating June as the month of Pride.

The president — who has issued a Pride proclamation for each of the four years in office — notes his personal support for marriage rights for gay couples in the 2012 proclamation issued on Friday following his recent announcement in favor of same-sex marriage during an ABC News interview. Last year’s proclamation made no mention whatsoever of relationship recognition for gay couples.

“And because we must treat others the way we want to be treated, I personally believe in marriage equality for same-sex couples,” Obama writes.







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