Monday, February 27, 2012

The Philippines Needs Leaders with Backbone

What I would love to see one day, is for a Filipino politician -- especially a member of a sitting administration -- to finally have the balls to stand up for the LGBT community and tell the church to stuff it.

This is what Lynne Featherstone (photo left), U.K. Equalities Minister, did last week, and she deserves high praise for it.

The British government has promised that the U.K.'s marriage law will be amended no later than 2015, but likely sooner.  Since 2005 the U.K. has had a Civil Partnership Act, which conveys all the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, only under a different name.  The new marriage equality law will change the term "civil partnership" to marriage, and allow for gay couples to be married in churches that are willing to do so.

Naturally the Roman Catholic Church is reacting as if someone is throwing acid in their face, and, along with some of the more conservative Anglican clergy, have stepped up efforts to stall marriage equality.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Maryland Becomes Marry-land

Inside the Senate as the bill was passed
After passing in the state House of Delegates late last week, the Civil Marriage Protection Act has now passed in the Maryland Senate as well.  When it is signed into law early next week by governor Martin O'Malley, who has been a strong supporter of the bill, marriage equality will be the law of the land in Maryland.

"All children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home, protected equally under the law," said the governor.  “The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual.”

One conservative senator, Allan Kittleman, who voted in favor of the bill, said this before entering the Senate chamber to cast his vote:  "I'm proud to be the son of a civil rights pioneer who is going to vote in favor of the civil rights issue of this generation."

Congratulations, Maryland!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Criminalization of Homosexuality Risks World Health

Countries that continue to criminalize homosexuality are directly responsible for the worsening of the spread of HIV, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO's report, which can be accessed here, points to the fact that it is actually still illegal to be a gay man, and for two men to have sex, in 75 countries.  In Asia, the countries of Singapore, Bhutan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Palau, and certain states in Indonesia are included in that list.  Singapore's law against male-male sex (Section 377A of the Penal Code) is still in place though is rarely enforced.

According to WHO, such legal restrictions and discrimination force gay and transgender people to risk criminal sanctions if they discuss their sex lives with health service providers.  Sexual activity is very important for a doctor to know about it -- whether you're straight, gay, bi, or trans -- but in places where same-sex activity is illegal or where it is strongly frowned upon for "moral" reasons, many people remain quiet.  These archaic laws also give police the authority to harass organizations that provide vitally important health services and education to the LGBT community.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beautiful Vid from Italy

From our friends in Italia comes a great pro-marriage video.  Even if you don't understand Italian, the message needs no translation.

A very happy (albeit one day late) Valentine's Day to everyone!  And when I say everyone I mean everyone, including all the wonderful same-sex couples out there; especially the ones in the Philippines!

February 14th represents the very thing that is always worth taking a stand for:  Love.  Keep your eyes on the prize and never stop pushing for full equality!  Pray for the day when Filipino same-sex couples will be able to freely, publicly celebrate their love and commitment on Valentine's Day, and every other day, too!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Congratulations, Washington!

The governor affixes her signature, saying "It is signed!"
More good news from the U.S., as the Washington state legislature has passed a bill to legalize marriage equality in that state.  The home of the great city of Seattle, Microsoft, Nintendo, Starbucks Coffee, and some of the best apple orchards on the planet, has become the most recent part of the world to grant gays and lesbians their basic civil right to marry.

Washington had already had a Domestic Partnership Law since 2007, which offered some of the rights of marriage to same-sex couples.  The law was expanded in 2008 (adding 170 rights and responsibilities) and then again in 2009, becoming the "everything-but-marriage law."  This meant the rights given to same-sex couples in domestic partnerships were equal to marriage, except in name.

Washington's governor, Christine Gregoire (who is a Catholic, by the way), has been a strong supporter of the new marriage equality bill.  As of Feb. 13 she has officially signed the bill into law.

Gov. Gregoire
"With today's vote, we tell the nation that Washington state will no longer deny our citizens the opportunity to marry the person they love. We tell every child of same-sex couples that their family is every bit as equal and important as all other families in our state. And we take a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation."
— Washington Governor, Christine Gregoire

Congrats, Washington!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

News from the States: Prop 8 Unconstitutional

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (a higher, federal court; not a California state court) has issued a ruling upholding an earlier lower court ruling which found that Proposition 8 was and is unconstitutional.  Prop 8, as you may recall, was the 2008 ballot initiative which banned same-sex marriage in the state of California, after marriage equality had been legalized by the California Supreme Court.

This ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court is profound, to put it lightly, and very good news for equality.  The judges ruled that Prop 8 indeed violated the Equal Opportunity Clause of the U.S. constitution, unfairly targeting a minority group, i.e. gay and lesbian Californians.

If the court-ordered stay is lifted within fourteen days (per the release of the official mandate), it would mean that marriage equality will return to California immediately.  If the opposition appeals again, however, to the U.S. Supreme Court, the stay on marriages will remain in place until the issue is resolved.

It is truly amazing news for equality, and a same-sex marriage case will likely eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Due to the U.S. Supreme Court's influence, a ruling for marriage equality may have a very positive reverberation in courts around the world, including in the Philippines, whose constitution also has a clear-cut Equal Opportunity Clause borrowed almost directly from the U.S. Constitution's.