Wednesday, June 29, 2011

American Medical Assoc. says "End Marriage Discrimination"

The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted a new policy which declares that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is both discriminatory and imposes unnecessary stigma.

The policy, adopted on June 20th, states:

"Our American Medical Association:  (1) recognizes that denying civil marriage based on sexual orientation is discriminatory and imposes harmful stigma on gay and lesbian individuals and couples and their families; (2) recognizes that exclusion from civil marriage contributes to health care disparities affecting same-sex households; (3) will work to reduce health care disparities among members of same-sex households including minor children; and (4) will support measures providing same-sex households with the same rights and privileges to health care, health insurance, and survivor benefits, as afforded opposite-sex households."
It was added that "marriage inequality is not only unfair, it literally places families in harm's way."

The AMA's policy reaffirms the consensus among professional medical, scientific, and social science communities, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, all of which support the freedom to marry.  The Canadian Medical Association and the Medical Associations of Western European nations concur.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Oh those shocking gay people!

The facial expression says it all!  I hope he was able to sleep that night.

As you may or may not know, on Saturday the 24th of June in the beautiful city of Baguio, there was a mass same-sex marriage ceremony.  Some sources say that eight couples were wed, others say ten, but the number isn't that important -- the fact that they did it is what matters.

The marriages, dubbed Holy Unions by the officiating church, were conducted by ministers of the Baguio chapter of the MCC, or Metropolitan Community Church.  The MCC has three churches in the Philippines:  one in Quezon City, one in Makati City, and one in Baguio City.  It is a Christian church that has congregations all over the world, and ministers largely to members of the LGBT community, many of whom are rejected or outcast from certain mainstream denominations.  The MCC also conducts Holy Unions for committed same-sex couples who have been in a stable relationship for at least eight months.

It goes without saying that same-sex marriage is, of course, not recognized in the Philippines.  Some say it is "illegal," but that's not entirely correct.  There's actually nothing stopping two consenting adults from marrying each other in a commitment ceremony in a church (there is no specific law that expressly forbids same-sex marriage), as long as the priest or minister agrees to it and wishes to officiate.*

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One More Reason to Love New York!

The Empire State Building lit up to celebrate equal marriage
Great news out of New York:  To the sound of loud cheers and applause, the Senate of the state of New York has passed its Marriage Equality Act!  The bill had already been passed by the Assembly, and will next be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a strong supporter of same-sex marriage.

This is huge.  Marriage in New York matters because it's New York.  Other countries and states have marriage equality, too, but they don't carry the weight or influence that New York does.

New York is a big and influential state in a big and extremely influential country.  Its biggest city is, of course, New York City, known far and wide as the capital of the world.  It's the center of business, industry, trade, and media, sways the world's economies with its Stock Exchange, and is the permanent home of the United Nations.  When New York does something, the world takes notice.  "That's the power and the beauty of New York," as Governor Cuomo put it.  No doubt about it, marriage equality in the state of New York is a very big deal.

The vote came after a session of late night debates in the Senate chamber.  One of the Senators who had been undecided, Republican Mark Grisanti, said this in a speech just before the vote:
"I'm not just here as a senator who is Catholic... I'm also here with a background as an attorney, through which I look at things and apply reason.  I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage.  I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, or people in my district and across New York the same rights that I have with my wife."
Congratulations, New York!  Welcome to equality!

Update:  Governor Cuomo has already immediately signed the bill into law, even though it was past 11:00PM.  Now that's dedication!

The Governor gives a smile and a thumbs-up after the bill passes in the Senate

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Discriminatory Amendment Proposed by Bohol Representative

Rep. Relampagos
Proposed House Bill 4269 (An Act Amending Article 26 of EO 209 or the Family Code of the Philippines), was filed in Philippine Congress in February of 2011 by Bohol representative Rene Relampagos.  It was submitted to the Committee on Revision of Laws in March, which held a meeting on it the 1st of June, and it is pending further action with the Committee.

HB 4269 is a nasty little piece of legislation with discrimination at its core, all the while being wrapped in the guise of "protecting the Filipino family."  Rep. Rene Relampagos of the Liberal Party (liberal?  huh?), said that "New values, ideas, and paradigms have made their way in the lives of the Filipino people and also in our laws and jurisprudence since the enactment of the Family Code of 1987, particularly, among others, on issues about marriage."  Because of this, Relampagos wants to see Article 26 of the Family Code tightened and tweaked to suit his personal beliefs.

Article 26 states:  “All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in the country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5), (6), and 36, 37 and 38.”  This sends a chill down Relampagos' spine because Filipino LGBT couples who get married in countries that have marriage equality might find a legal loophole to have their marriages recognized by the Philippine government.  God forbid!  We can't have tax-paying Filipino citizens being treated fairly.  That would be awful!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Right-wing Leaders in the U.S. Admit: "We're Losing"

It was a big deal to read about this.  Several very prominent figures within the American Religious Right movement have said recently that fellow Evangelicals need to accept that same-sex marriage is going to be a reality in the U.S. before too much longer.

Jim Daly, CEO of Focus on the Family, one of America's most active anti-gay Evangelical groups, has said "We're losing on gay marriage, especially among the 20 and 30-somethings.  Seventy percent of them favor same-sex marriage."

"Though many Christians are going to try to deny the obvious, evangelical leader Dr. Albert Mohler [president of the Southern Baptist Convention] believes gay marriage is going to become normalized.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Harmless fairytale...or EVIL GAY PORN!!

Over the past several months I have gotten quite a few questions regarding the children's book King and King, which I mentioned on my Equality 101 page.  Some are wondering what it's all about, or if it's "a threat."

My reply:  Yes actually, it is a threat.  It's a threat to bigotry and homophobia.

One rather upset email commenter said "This is nothing more than gay porn propaganda for kids!"  Interesting, considering it is neither pornographic nor propagandist.  It's a fricking fairytale, people.

This is a brief rundown of the book which, along with other books like it, can be found in elementary schools in my country.  You decide if it's evil or not.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tolerance Growing...but not Everywhere

A fresh study from the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center shows that the greatest tolerance for and acceptance of LGBT persons and relationships is found in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Belgium.

Of the 31 Western countries studied in depth, tolerance levels have increased significantly over the past decade in 28 of them.  Only Cyprus, Latvia, and Russia saw tolerance drop over the past few years.  Also in Latin American countries, Southern Africa, and Turkey, tolerance levels have remained pretty much the same:  fairly low.  Nevertheless, the growth in approval ratings was stronger than the decline.

In Asia, Singaporeans' acceptance of LGBTs was found to be at 45%, while 40% found homosexuality unacceptable and 15% had a neutral opinion.  That's a very slight improvement over the last poll taken there in 2005.  Muslims and conservative Christians harbor the most intolerance (no big surprise there!), while Buddhists and Freethinkers are the most accepting.

The least tolerant places in the world are, not surprisingly, places with religious extremists either pulling the strings or exerting great influence.  There are still seven countries where the penalty for being in a same-sex relationship is death:  Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Somalia in Africa; and Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran in the Middle East.  There are also dozens of other countries around the world which have varying prison sentences for being in a same-sex relationship, including the Asia-Pacific nations of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysia.  In Singapore, too, sex between men is technically illegal, but the law is not actively enforced any longer. 

ILGA's 2011 world map showing the status of LGBT rights around the world can be viewed here.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Love For All

A great pro-equality commercial/public service ad by Björn Borg, a Swedish clothing company.  I had seen the ad on TV in Scandinavia several times, but I can guarantee you it won't be allowed to be aired in the Philippines or anywhere else in Asia -- it would cause an uproar for sure.  That's unfortunate because it's a beautiful ad, and kudos to the Björn Borg Company for making it!

("True Colors" sung by Ane Brun of Norway.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Archbishop fretting...but "not paranoid"

Former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz is a busy man these days.  But he's not busy feeding the poor, visiting the sick, building shelters for homeless Filipinos, or going about other Christ-like works that could be of great help to his nation and his flock.

No, Cruz is busy worrying about and speaking out against women's right to reproductive health, and of course, fretting over the prospect of LGBT Filipinos some day being treated as equals before the law.

The prelate has "warned" that passing the RH bill would lead to bills calling for divorce legalization and same-sex marriage (as if those would be bad things).  He identifies the bill as part of a "tripod of social maladies," which includes abortion, divorce, and same-sex unions.  Funny, but I think the status quo is a tripod of social maladies:  treating sexual minorities like second-class citizens, forcing couples to remain together by the power of the state, and telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

Supreme Court Rulings for Marriage Equality

For those interested in learning more about same-sex marriage in light of modern democratic constitutions, may I suggest checking out the following links:

Canadian Supreme Court ruling

Constitutional Court of South Africa ruling

Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling

Iowa Supreme Court ruling (a unanimous decision)

California Supreme Court ruling

Connecticut Supreme Court ruling

Each respective Court reached the same conclusion:  denying same-sex couples the right to marry serves no legitimate state interest.  The rulings are compelling and definitely worth reading, for proponents and opponents alike.

Additionally, while not a supreme court case, the August 4, 2010, ruling issued by US Federal Judge Vaughn Walker is an extremely significant ruling and is in many ways more important than a state Supreme Court ruling.  (A state ruling effects that particular state only, whereas a federal ruling has possible implications for whole districts containing many states, and may eventually impact the entire nation.)

Judge Walker's decision effectively found California's Proposition 8 (which banned same-sex marriage), as unconstitutional in accordance with the US Constitution.  His ruling reverses the ban.

The Judge's individual findings may be just as significant as the ruling itself, including:

•"Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual. Sexual orientation is fundamental to a person's identity and is a distinguishing characteristic that defines gays and lesbians as a discrete group. Proponents' assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence."

•"Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation."

•"Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions. Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners. Standardized measures of relationship satisfaction, relationship adjustment and love do not differ depending on whether a couple is same-sex or opposite-sex."

•"Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals."

•"Same-sex couples receive the same tangible and intangible benefits from marriage that opposite-sex couples receive."

•"The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships."

•"Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages."

It can be read in its entirety here:

Prop 8 Ninth Circuit Federal Ruling