VOLUME 2, ISSUE 47 | November 27–december 3, 2003
Wisconsin Veto of Anti-Gay Bill Upheld
The Wisconsin legislature voted 63-33 to support an effort to overturn Gov. Jim Doyle’s veto of the state’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last week, falling one vote short of enacting the legislation. The Democratic governor said the bill was “mean-spirited.” He also said it was unnecessary since marriage is already defined as being between a man and woman in Wisconsin. Thirty-seven states have passed local DOMAs and Ohio is in the process of considering one. Minnesota already has a law banning same-sex marriage, but two right wing legislators there would now like to enshrine it in their state constitution the way Nebraska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Alaska do.
Historic Victory in Ohio
Overlooked in the celebration over same-sex marriage advances is the enormous victory at the polls in Cleveland Heights, Ohio where voters approved a referendum establishing a domestic partner registry November 4. It marks the first time that a pro-gay initiative was enacted by voters in the United States. And it is the first registry of its kind in the state of Ohio.
“We’ve gotten congratulatory e-mails from people around the country who are very proud of what we did,” David Caldwell, lead organizer for Heights Families for Equality told the Sun Press. “It’s nice to be able to show other gay and lesbian communities a road map for how they can win.”
The effort succeeded by its supporters collectively walking more than 1,000 miles and talking to more than 10,000 voters about the issue both before the election and on Election Day, Caldwell told the newspaper.
“Traditionally, gays and lesbians have been afraid to go to voters,” Caldwell said. “We really thought that voters would be with us if they understood what it was we were working to do, and it turns out we were right.”
The measure passed by a margin of 55-to-45 percent.
“What’s Wrong with Gay Marriage?” Ask Canadian Ads
Equal Marriage/Canada and Parents-FLAG are sponsoring public service announcements on radio and TV promoting marriage rights for gay couples in Canada. The spots, which aim to push the ruling Liberal Party to follow through on its commitment to extend same-sex marriage rights from Ontario and British Columbia to the entire nation, feature gay and lesbian couples fighting for the covers in bed, arguing over sex, and complaining about not getting enough time together. The announcer then asks the question, “What’s wrong with gay marriage?” And the answer is, “The same thing that’s wrong with all marriages.”
Oprah in South Africa for World AIDS Day
The Oprah Winfrey Show will originate from the AIDS-plagued country of South Africa on December 1, with segments including former presidents Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela, both of whom have been criticized for not doing enough about AIDS while in office and praised for leading international campaigns once out.
Variety reported that Clinton told Winfrey that working on his AIDS initiative is “just as rewarding as being president was.”
Mandela is bringing Winfrey to a “star-studded concert” for his 46664 AIDS Awareness Campaign, the title of the group coming from the number that was tattooed on his arm at the beginning of his 27 years in prison for opposing the apartheid regime. Also appearing in concert on Winfrey’s show is Bono of U-2.
Same-Sex Dancing Stopped at Wyoming School
Two girls were marched out of the Big Piney High School homecoming dance by police in rural Wyoming for dancing together, a state action being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Amanda Blair, a senior honors student, who is heterosexual brought a female friend as her date “in order to help lesbian and gay students in her district who may want to bring dates to school dances in the future,” a release from the ACLU said.
“I couldn’t believe that our school was so threatened,” Blair said. The ACLU of Wyoming and the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project sent a letter to school officials demanding that same-sex couples be allowed to attend school dances, citing the 1980 federal case brought by Aaron Fricke in Rhode Island to gain access to his prom with Paul Guilbert (now Paul Philippe)
“Too many schools don’t understand that students have a constitutional right to take a same-sex date to events like homecoming and prom,” said Ken Chloe of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the ACLU.
Kris Blair, Amanda’s mom, said, “Gay students in our town should not have to face this kind of humiliation in the future.”
Support for British Partnership Bill High
Eighty-three percent of the responses received by the U.K. Parliament about its “consultation document” that would give same-sex couples most of the same rights as married couples were supportive, the Labour government announced. The bill was set to be introduced this Wednesday.
Alan Duncan, the sole out gay Conservative in Parliament, told The Guardian, “There will be a distinction between same-sex civil partnerships and opposite ones, which could lead to claims that the government hates straights.”
A free vote, unconstrained by party discipline, will be held on the issue in 2004. If passed, it will cover England and Wales.
Qualified support for the measure surprisingly came this week from the conservative former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, who said in a BBC interview, “In my book, as long as we don’t call it marriage, there may well be a case for looking sympathetically at civil partnerships.”
Carey has strongly opposed the ordination of out gay people in the Anglican Church and rites for same-sex couples.
“Blessing of weddings, a relationship between a man and a woman, we call that marriage,” he said. “I am worried that when we slip in blessings in church, we are very quickly talking about marriages. That is something I do not approve of.”