Louisiana judge rules in favor of the freedom to marry, 40th victory since June ‘13

Today, September 22, Judge Edward Rubin of the 15th Judicial District Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in a state legal challenge to an amendment in Louisiana that denies same-sex couples the freedom to marry.

The case, Costanza and Brewer v. Caldwell, was filed in 2013 on behalf of Angela Marie Costanza and Chastity Shanelle Brewer, who are raising their 10-year-old son in Lafayette. The case sought respect for Angela and Chastity’s marriage license; since Louisiana did not respect their marriage, one mother was not permitted to legally adopt her son.

The ruling today grants the second-parent adoption and affirms that the Louisiana amendment violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

The ruling today comes just three weeks after U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman became the first federal judge since June 2013 to uphold marriage discrimination, when he ruled in Robicheaux v. Caldwell in favor of marriage discrimination in Louisiana. Judge Rubin’s order today is a swift rebuttal of the out-of-step decision inRobicheaux and is another demonstration that America – all of America – is ready for the freedom to marry.

In total, 40 separate rulings have been issued since June 2013 in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. More than 80 cases have been filed in state and federal courts across the country. In five cases, all parties have urged the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari this year and resolve the question of whether same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.

(Courtesy of FreedomToMarry.org)

Louisiana judge rules in favor of the freedom to marry, 40th victory since June ‘13 was originally published on Lesbian News

250,000 gay couples married in America in the first decade of marriage equality

The United States Census Bureau has found that there are now over half a million married gay and lesbian Americans, ten years after Massachusetts became the first state to allow them to marry

Over half a million Americans have married a partner of the same-sex, new Census data released this month reveals.

The United States Census Bureau estimated in 2012 that there were only 182,000 same-sex married couples in America.

However revised estimates from the bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey upped that figure substantially to nearly 252,000.

That figure does not include same-sex couples who married but then later divorced.

In comparison there are 56 million American households that are headed by opposite-sex married couples.

Until May of this year the US Census Bureau lumped people who reported being in same-sex marriages in with unmarried couples who were living together, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of how many gay and lesbian Americans have actually married.

The first same-sex couples to legally marry in America began doing so ten years ago on 17 May 2004 in the state of Massachusetts following a November 2003 ruling by its state Supreme Judicial Court.

The Census Bureau also found that only 50.3% of Americans over 18 were in married relationships in 2013 – down from an all time high in 1960 when 72.2% of Americans were in opposite-sex marriages and same-sex relationships were illegal and not recorded.

It wasn’t until two years later in 1962 that Illinois became the first US state to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults.

(Courtesy of GayStarNews.com)

250,000 gay couples married in America in the first decade of marriage equality was originally published on Lesbian News

Alison Bechdel Awarded MacArthur Fellowship: ‘Fun Home’ Creator One Of 21 New Fellows

On Wednesday, cartoonist [and former LN cover] Alison Bechdel was named one of 21 new MacArthur Fellows.

Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel via Lesbian News, September 2003

Bechdel’s name may be familiar to you from her graphic memoirs Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother?, or you may recognize her as the deviser of the Bechdel test, a metric she described in a 1985 comic strip that assesses whether movies have meaningful interactions between female characters. For decades, she’s been assembling a groundbreaking body of work that plays with what the cartoon form can do, through her graphic memoirs as well as through her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For.”

Bechdel’s choice as a MacArthur Fellow made a splash, however, as it marks only the second time a cartoonist has been selected for the honor. The first, Ben Katchor, was awarded the fellowship in 2000.

Graphic novels and cartoons have been catching more and more of the spotlight in recent years, with serious, realistic comic books such as Bechdel’s memoirs, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Craig Thompson’s Blankets helping push the form further into the literary mainstream. Not all attention is positive, however; the American Library Association has made graphic novels the theme of 2014’s Banned Books Week (Sept. 21-27), because “despite their literary merit and popularity as a format, they are often subject to censorship.”

Bechdel’s choice for a MacArthur fellowship, however, demonstrates that the increasingly serious critical attention shown to cartoonists and graphic novelists can pay dividends. The fellowship provides $625,000 over five years to each recipient; Bechdel noted to the Los Angeles Times, “It will give me a lot of security that I don’t have.”

Though no novelists or short-story writers numbered among the 2014 winners, new fellows also included poet Terrance Hayes, translator and poet Khaled Mattawa, and playwright Samuel D. Hunter.

Read more about all 21 MacArthur Fellows from 2014 here.

(Courtesy of HuffPost.com)


Alison Bechdel Awarded MacArthur Fellowship: ‘Fun Home’ Creator One Of 21 New Fellows was originally published on Lesbian News

ICYMI, k.d. lang Featured on Canada Post Stamp

k.d. lang Canadian Post Stamp

Singer-songwriter k.d. lang is featured on a new stamp released by the Canada Post, pictured above. Each stamp features a photo of lang taken by Jeri Heiden, whose art direction can be seen on lang’s many iconic album designs. The stamp is one of five in the Post’s Country Legends stamp series, honoring some of Canada’s most recognized country musicians, and part of Canada Post’s larger 2014 stamp program, which aims to demonstrate Canada’s diverse combination of achievement, progress, and culture. The new k.d. lang stamp is now available to order via canadapost.ca.

“Collectively we continue to capture moments that will long live through our stamp collection,” says Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post. “And we encourage everyone to take note of these stories as they truly mark who we are as Canadians.”

k.d. lang’s latest album, Sing it Loud, was released on Nonesuch Records in 2011 and followed the 2010 career retrospective Recollection, which marked the 25th anniversary of her recording debut. She made her Broadway debut earlier this year in the new musical, After Midnight. In 2013, lang was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. She had previously won eight Juno Awards, four Grammy Awards, a BRIT, an AMA, a VMA, and four awards from GLAAD. In 1996, she received Canada’s highest civilian honor, the Order of Canada.

(Courtesy of nonesuch.com)


ICYMI, k.d. lang Featured on Canada Post Stamp was originally published on Lesbian News

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Watch 6th Circuit For SCOTUS’ Next Move On Gay Marriage

People seeking clues about how soon the Supreme Court might weigh in on states’ gay marriage bans should pay close attention to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a Minnesota audience Tuesday.

Ginsburg said cases pending before the circuit covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee would probably play a role in the high court’s timing. She said “there will be some urgency” if that appeals court allows same-sex marriage bans to stand. Such a decision would run contrary to a legal trend favoring gay marriage and force the Supreme Court to step in sooner, she predicted.

She said if the appeals panel falls in line with other rulings there is “no need for us to rush.”

Ginsburg didn’t get into the merits of any particular case or any state’s gay marriage ban, but she marveled at the “remarkable” shift in public perception of same-sex marriage that she attributes to gays and lesbians being more open about their relationships. Same-sex couples can legally wed in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in some other states continue to make their way through the courts.

“Having people close to us who say who they are — that made the attitude change in this country,” Ginsburg said at the University of Minnesota Law School.

The Supreme Court returns from a summer recess in early October. Ginsburg wasn’t the only justice on the lecture circuit Tuesday; Justice Clarence Thomas was addressing a gathering in Texas.

Thomas, one of the court’s conservatives, expressed his firm belief in the strict construction of the Constitution during his appearance at the University of Texas at Tyler. As a judge, Thomas said, he’s “not into creative writing,” the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported.

And Thomas said he’s motivated by the belief that if the country “is not perfect, it is perfectible.”

Fifteen months ago, the high court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied a range of tax, health and veterans benefits to legally married gay couples. Rulings invalidating state gay marriage bans followed in quick succession.

Ginsburg spent 90 minutes before an audience of hundreds discussing her two decades on the Supreme Court as well as her days as an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer. In a question-and-answer period, she predicted that cases dealing with the environment and technology would make for watershed decisions in years to come.

Privacy of information carried on smartphones in the context of criminal searches could be particularly big, Ginsburg said. “You can have on that cellphone more than you can pack in a file cabinet,” she said.

The liberal justice said the court is the most collegial place she has worked as she fondly described her close relationship with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. She made sure to plug a comic opera about the two of them — “Scalia/Ginsburg” — that will debut next year in Virginia.

And the 81-year-old Ginsburg elicited plenty of laughter by highlighting a Tumblr account about her called the “Notorious R.B.G.” and a never-realized dream job.

“If I had any talent God could give me, I would be a great diva,” she said.

(Courtesy of HuffPost.com)


Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Watch 6th Circuit For SCOTUS’ Next Move On Gay Marriage was originally published on Lesbian News

Writer for ‘Orange Is the New Black’: Show helped me realize I was gay

When “Orange is the New Black” writer Lauren Morelli started working on the series, she didn’t realize how much it would also script her future.

As Morelli wrote in an essay for Mic.com in May, writing for the Netflix hit helped her realize that she was gay — even though at the time, she was married to a man. When production began on “OITNB,” Morelli had been wed for five months.

“I realized I was gay in fall 2012, one of my first days on the set,” Morelli wrote. “It wasn’t so much one thing, but the sum of many small details: how uncomfortable I felt around groups of lesbians or how I considered myself … a ‘not very sexual person.’ When considered alone, these seemed like little quirks that made me me.”

But on the set of “OITNB,” where she helped shape the story of main character Piper (Taylor Schilling) and her relationships, “these small moments came into sharp relief,” Morelli continued. “I was finally forced to consider a question that had never, ever occurred to me before … am I gay?”

That answer, she discovered, was yes. Watching a love scene that she’d written between Piper and Alex (Laura Prepon) unfold in front of the cameras, Morelli said she found her emotions paralleling the show. “I’d found a mouthpiece for my own desires,” she wrote in her essay, “and a glimmer of what my future could look like.”

According to TMZ, Morelli and her husband of two years, Steve Basilone, have now amicably split and have jointly filed for divorce. The OITNB writer is also reportedly dating one of the show’s stars, Samira Wiley, the actress who plays Poussey and who sometimes pops up in Morelli’s Instagram feed.

“I went through it all on set: I fell in love with a woman, and I watched my life play out on screen,” Morelli wrote on Mic.com. “This is my story, which is messy and nuanced and a constantly moving target, but one I’m grateful for.”

(Courtesy of CNN.com)

Writer for ‘Orange Is the New Black’: Show helped me realize I was gay was originally published on Lesbian News

Web censor lifts ban on gay content for millions of users

Symantec, the software firm behind Norton AntiVirus, routinely allowed customers to filter out LGBTI websites

One of the biggest web filtering services in the world has announced they are scrapping a system that allows Symantec has allowed access to LGBT web siteshomophobes to block access to ‘gay and lesbian’ content.

Symantec, the online security firm behind Norton AntiVirus, has routinely been filtering out LGBTI websites offering news, charity and support as they consider them to be essentially the same thing as child porn.

The fourth-largest software company in the world, they say the ‘lifestyle-sexual orientation’ category will now be steadily removed from its databases.

‘Making this change was not only the right thing to do, it was a good business decision,’ said Fran Rosch, executive vice president, Norton Business Unit, Symantec today (16 September).

‘Having a category in place that could be used to filter out all LGBT-oriented sites was inconsistent with Symantec’s values and the mission of our software.’

While Symantec will allow customers to set their search to block offensive websites, there will no longer be an option to block websites just because they have LGBTI content.

The AP reports the firm’s shift came after customers at Au Bon Pain cafe and bakery set up a campaign after they found the free Wi-Fi was blocking access to LGBTI charities.

GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said the change proves that ‘Symantec gets it’.

‘It’s time that our software reflects our values, and that means filtering out discrimination,’ she said.

Earlier this year, following pressure from Gay Star News, Dell scrapped their own filtering system that allowed the blocking of LGBTI websites.

(Courtesy of GayStarNews.com)

Web censor lifts ban on gay content for millions of users was originally published on Lesbian News

Sara Gilbert: My Wife and I are Having a Baby

Sara Gilbert found an amazingly awesome way to tell her co-hosts and the audience on “The Talk” that she and her wife, Linda Perry, are having a baby.

Sara Gilbert is perhaps best-known for playing Darlene Conner on the ABC sitcom “Roseanne,” and for her role as Leslie Winkle on “The Big Bang Theory.” But Gilbert is also the co-host and executive producer of CBS’ “The Talk.”

“The Talk” this week has a segment called “Face You Fears,” during which randomly assigned co-hosts have to face their greatest fears on live TV. Gilbert was supposed to become the stuffing for a bed of nails sandwich to help her through her fear of being hurt.

But Gilbert declined to take part in the challenge — for an excellent reason.

“I’m actually not going to do the dare,” Gilbert, choking up, tells her co-hosts, who include Sharon Osborne.

“I’m going to tell you guys why. I, we found out about the dares this week, I was scared to do it, I really do believe in facing your fears and doing things that make you uncomfortable, but,” Gilbert says as she starts to cry, “I actually can’t do the dare because I’m pregnant.”

Her co-hosts, and the audience, jump up in applause and scream for joy.

Sara Gilbert and the hosts of The Talk

Watch — it will make your day.

Gilbert married former 4 Non Blondes front woman and producer Linda Perry in March.

The couple got engaged in April of last year. Gilbert, who is 39, has three children from previous relationships. Perry is 48 and this is the first marriage for each of them.

(Courtesy of thenewcivilrightsmovement.com)

Sara Gilbert: My Wife and I are Having a Baby was originally published on Lesbian News

Appeals Court Appears Ready To Strike Down Idaho, Nevada Same-Sex Marriage Bans

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the fifth federal appeals court to hear arguments on same-sex couples’ marriage rights this year.

9th Circuit of Appeals9th Circuit Court of Appeals

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals appeared poised to strike down bans on same-sex couples’ marriages in Idaho and Nevada in nearly two hours of arguments on Monday.

All three judges hearing the cases — Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Marsha Berzon, and Ronald Gould — appeared ready to rule the bans unconstitutional as violating equal protection guarantees.

As with other appellate courts to hear marriage cases this year, the court did note that the judges expect the matter to be headed to the Supreme Court. When Monte Stewart, the lawyer arguing in support of both Idaho and Nevada’s bans, questioned the court’s view of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in last year’s case striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, Reinhardt retorted, “I think you’re going to have an opportunity to find out what Justice Kennedy thinks.”

Although not as fireworks-filled as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals arguments over Indiana and Wisconsin’s ban, the arguments Monday at the 9th Circuit were, in a way, even more lopsided. This was so because of the judges on the panel, all of whom have written or joined significant gay rights opinions previously, and because of a decision from the 9th Circuit earlier this year in which the court held that sexual orientation discrimination claims would face additional scrutiny by the court.

In that case — SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Laboratories, a case about whether potential jurors could be dismissed solely for being gay — the 9th Circuit held that sexual orientation-related discrimination is subjected to heightened scrutiny. In equal protection claims, courts use heightened scrutiny to help decide whether people claiming governmental discrimination should succeed in their claim. If intermediate scrutiny applies, for example, then the state law or practice in question must advance an important governmental interest. If no heightened scrutiny applies, then courts only ask whether the law has a “rational basis.”

Notably, two of the judges from the SmithKline Beecham decision, Reinhardt and Berzon, were hearing Monday’s marriage cases. In the livestreamed arguments on Monday, though, all three judges and the lawyers for the same-sex couples appeared to agree that heightened scrutiny applies here under the SmithKline Beecham precedent and that such bans are unconstitutional under heightened scrutiny.

Berzon additionally took some time to ask about the argument that such bans also are sex discrimination, saying that she could not understand why other courts had been so skeptical of the sex discrimination argument and stating outright that such bans clearly are sex discrimination.

The judges asked lawyers Deborah Ferguson, representing Idaho couples, and Lambda Legal’s Tara Borelli, representing Nevada couples, about the specifics of the equal protection claims, but appeared to be settled on the issue, at least as to sexual orientation discrimination. They focused their questions to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, though, on whether the judges needed also to decide the question of whether the bans violate same-sex couples’ fundamental rights.

Stewart, the lawyer for Idaho and for the coalition that backed Nevada’s marriage ban, argued in defense of the bans and faced an uphill, if not hopeless, task. He focused on arguments he has advanced in his writings and in defense of Utah’s marriage ban about the distinctions between “genderless marriage” and “man-woman marriage” — and Nevada’s and Idaho’s claimed right to prefer to highlight their support for “man-woman marriage” through a marriage definition that excludes same-sex couples.

Stewart argued that Idaho’s ban is key to the state sending a message about the importance of a man and a woman to parenting, claiming that the contrary message of allowing same-sex couples to marry would be that “fathers are not a necessary part of marriage.” Berzon, however, shot back that Idaho’s ban and Stewart’s arguments in its defense were “using another group as a scapegoat … including the children” of those couples in order to send a message.

The two cases were paired with a case about whether a lower court ruling against same-sex couples in Hawaii was moot and should be vacated after the state passed marriage equality. Same-sex couples and Gov. Neil Abercrombie argued the lower court ruling should be vacated, while opponents of marriage equality argued the case should be held until a state-court challenge to Hawaii’s marriage law is decided.

Monday’s arguments made the 9th Circuit made it the fifth federal appellate court to hear arguments over marriage bans this year. The 4th, 7th, and 10th circuit courts of appeals all have ruled states’ bans are unconstitutional in Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin, and Oklahoma and Utah, respectively. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in early August over Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee’s bans and has not released a decision. The 5th and 11th circuit courts of appeals have cases pending before them in Texas and Florida, respectively, but no arguments even scheduled.

State or local officials in Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia already have asked the Supreme Court to hear their appeal of the appellate decisions — with the same-sex couple plaintiffs in those cases agreeing the justices should take their respective cases. The justices could act on the petitions as soon as later this month when they return from their summer recess.

(Courtesy of BuzzFeed.com)

Appeals Court Appears Ready To Strike Down Idaho, Nevada Same-Sex Marriage Bans was originally published on Lesbian News

Two women in their 90s get hitched after 72 years together

(Photo credit: Thomas Geyer)

(Photo credit: Thomas Geyer)

Vivian Boyack, age 91, and Alice “Nonie” Dubes, age 90, have been together for 72 years, and this weekend they tied the knot. As the reverend who performed the ceremony in Davenport, Iowa said, “This is a celebration of something that should have happened a very long time ago.” What does it take to sustain a relationship since circa the middle of World War II? A lot of love and work, according to Boyack. “We’ve had a good time,” Dubes says.

(Courtesy Feministing.com)

Two women in their 90s get hitched after 72 years together was originally published on Lesbian News