Entries from: September 2013

N.J. must let same-sex couples marry, judge rules

njmarriageA state court judge in New Jersey today ruled that state officials must issue same-sex couples marriage licenses beginning October 21, but the decision is expected to be appealed by the administration of Gov. Chris Christie.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson said the state’s civil unions law harmed same-sex couples who are now missing out on federal benefits available to legally married same-sex couples.  ”The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,” Jacobson wrote, specifically citing federal pension benefits, federal tax benefits and the applicability of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

The lawsuit claiming New Jersey’s civil unions law was insufficient was brought by the groups Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal.

LGBT Colombians consider government service


Nearly three dozen LGBT leaders and activists from across Colombia participated in a groundbreaking training this weekend in Cartagena, part of an effort launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development to empower LGBT communities in developing countries and help them utilize democratic systems to gain a voice in their governments. A diverse group of LGBT participants engaged in a 3-day workshop with Colombian experts about ways they can become personally involved in governing.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, in partnership with the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, coordinated the training along with in-country partners Colombia Diversa and Caribe Afirmativo.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm among the LGBT community in Colombia. The country is on the cusp of real progress on equality issues, and the participants in this training will be among the LGBT leaders who make it happen,” said Luis Abolafia Anguita, who coordinates international programs at the Victory Institute.

The program is part of USAID’s LGBT Global Development Partnership, a multi-million dollar effort to boost democratic participation among LGBT communities in developing countries around the world.

“This groundbreaking training puts into action the U.S. government’s commitment to global LGBT equality,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute.

Gay San Diego city councilman to become acting mayor

tgloriaatsdbrunch (800x533)San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, who is openly gay, has become the city’s acting mayor now that the embattled former mayor, Bob Filner, has resigned his post.

Filner vacated his office under a deal reached in an ongoing saga over allegations he sexually harassed numerous women.

Gloria is serving his second term on the Council after winning reelection in 2012.  His colleagues elected him council president last December.  Prior to his first election to the Council in 2008, Todd served as district director to U.S. Rep. Susan A. Davis ( D-Calif.), and worked for the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency.

A special election will be called to replace Filner.

San Diego, the 8th largest city in America, has actually been served by an openly LGBT acting mayor once before.  State Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, an out lesbian, lead the city briefly in 2005 after a series of scandals left the mayor’s office vacant.

This post has been updated to reflect the  latest developments in San Diego.

Gay candidate advances in Seattle mayor’s race

murrayEd Murray, an openly gay lawmaker who led the successful fight for marriage equality in the Washington State Senate, emerged last night as the top vote-getter in a crowded primary to choose the next mayor of Seattle. He’ll face the incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn in the general election this November.

“Ed Murray is a fighter, and we are proud to stand with him over the next few months as he makes the case for change at City Hall,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, which endorsed Murray and supported his campaign.  ”Seattle needs a mayor who knows how to get things done, and LGBT Americans need more heroes like Ed Murray, who refused to compromise his dreams.”

Murray is set to take advantage of the state’s marriage equality law this weekend, when he and Mike Shiosaki, his longtime partner, will be married.

Photo:  Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times

Out N.Y. officials ask Obama to halt Russian diplomacy

quinn obamaNine openly LGBT elected officials from New York City have written to President Barack Obama urging him to delay diplomatic missions to Russia.  The lawmakers say a recent crackdown on LGBT activism is a violation of human rights that should not be rewarded with official visits by American dignitaries.

“As then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on behalf of your administration, ‘Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights. It should never be a crime to be gay.’ Given that President Putin and Russia have enacted laws to criminalize gay people and supporters and deny human rights to their LGBT citizens, they should not be the beneficiary of any trip by your office until they fully restore all civil rights to LGBT people in their country,” the group wrote, according to the blog Joe. My. God.

The letter was signed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (pictured), state Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, Assemblyman Matthew Titone, Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, Assemblyman Micah Kellner, and City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer, Rosie Mendez, and Daniel Dromm.