Reuters – France to pass gay marriage, adoption law

France to pass gay marriage, adoption law

PARIS | Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:21pm EDT
(Reuters) – France’s new Socialist government is to legalize marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday, reflecting a shift in public attitudes in the majority Catholic nation.

President Francois Hollande, who took office last month, had pledged to legalize gay marriage and adoption during his election campaign but had given no time frame.

Since Hollande’s Socialists won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections two weeks ago, the conservative UMP party, which had opposed the measure under former president Nicolas Sarkozy, can do little to stop it.

“The government has made it an objective for the next few months to work on implementing its campaign commitments on the fight against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Ayrault’s office said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the junior minister for families Dominique Bertinotti told French daily Le Parisien that a law on gay marriage and adoption would be passed within a year.

The statement from prime minister’s office did not confirm the time frame, but asserted a law would be implemented.

In addition, the government would hold discussions in the autumn on ways of making life easier for trans gender individuals, whose dealings with French administration are often complicated by their change of name and sex.

A law granting full marriage status to gay couples would bring France, which currently provides only for same-sex civil unions, into line with fellow EU members Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.

It would also mark a profound change in French society, where more than two-thirds of people still describe themselves as Roman Catholic, according to a 2010 survey by pollster Ifop.

However, fewer and fewer of them adhere to strict Roman Catholic teachings on sexual issues or back the Vatican’s condemnation of homosexuality. Church attendance has collapsed.

As recently as 2006, surveys indicated that most French were opposed to changing the definition of marriage, but now more than 60 percent support the idea, the pollster BVA said. A majority also favor allowing gay couples to adopt children.

Nevertheless, gay rights advocates say homosexuality remains taboo in many areas of public life. Media tend to use euphemisms such as “long-term bachelor” to hint that someone is gay.

“Today, it’s still very difficult to put a name on things, as if saying in public that someone was homosexual was to violate a taboo,” a group of gay professionals wrote in an opinion piece in the newspaper Le Monde on Friday, the eve of a Gay Pride march in Paris.

A gay marriage law would boost Hollande’s credentials as an agent of social change in the tradition of late Socialist president Francois Mitterrand, who appointed France’s first female prime minister and scrapped the death penalty.

Hollande fathered four children out of wedlock with his former partner, fellow Socialist Segolene Royal.

A debate on gay rights might also draw some attention away from the economic woes weighing on his popularity.

Still, there is certain to be opposition from conservatives and practicing Catholics.

“We are convinced that young people’s development requires the presence of a mother and a father,” said Thierry Vidor, head of the Familles de France umbrella group, which represents some 70,000 families, and campaigns for traditional family rights.

“We will take action to try to show that this measure is ultimately dangerous for society.”

(Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Michael Roddy)

Seattle Times -Gay donors back GOP legislator who voted for same-sex marriage

Gay donors back GOP legislator who voted for same-sex marriage
When the Legislature legalized gay marriage, state Rep. Maureen Walsh’s passionate speech in favor of the law went viral. Now, as the Republican from Walla Walla gears up to defend her seat against a member of her own party, she is seeing an uptick in campaign cash from pro-gay marriage donors from around the country.

By JAVIER PANZAR
Seattle Times staff reporter

When the time came to vote on a historic bill legalizing gay marriage in Washington, state Rep. Maureen Walsh stood up and delivered an emotional speech explaining her decision to buck her party and vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

The 51-year-old Republican from Walla Walla told her fellow representatives about the death of her husband and how badly she missed the loving bond they shared: “How could I deny the right to have that incredible bond with another individual in life? To me it seems almost cruel.”

Her outspoken stance brought an outpouring of support from around the world — and something else: an infusion of campaign contributions from wealthy gay donors from across the country for her re-election.

A prominent national anti-gay-marriage group has promised to spend big to help challengers defeat Republican legislators who voted for gay marriage, but, so far, that money has not materialized in this race.

With the general election still months away, records from the Public Disclosure Commission show that more than 60 percent of Walsh’s individual contributions have come from out-of-state backers, amounting to just over $5,000. It is a small amount compared to the money she has received from political groups, but it is coming in at a faster pace than previous elections.

In 2008, before Walsh became a known champion of gay rights, she raised just $3,800 from individual contributors. Almost none of them were from outside Washington.

But Walsh came on the radar of pro-gay donors in 2010 after supporting domestic partnerships and receiving a censure from the Franklin County Republican Party in the process. In her re-election race that year, she received large donations from prominent gay-rights backers, including Colorado software giant Tim Gill, who chairs the powerful Gill Action Fund, a political-action group that supports gay-friendly legislators.

It is a pattern that is becoming more common as more state legislatures tackle gay marriage: A Republican or a conservative Democrat takes a bold public stance in favor of same-sex marriage, and soon after, receives the support of wealthy donors trying to offset possible backlash.

The four Republican senators from New York who provided crucial votes to legalize gay marriage there in 2011 are the most well-known examples. It was reported earlier this year that they were lavished with campaign contributions.

Walsh is the only legislator seeing a noticeable benefit in the form of donations in 2012 Washington state races. Of the six Republicans who crossed party lines during the gay-marriage vote, Walsh is the only one who will face a challenger from within her own party this fall.

Four of the six aren’t running for re-election this year, and state Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, who provided one of the key votes in the Senate, is running against a Democrat in a socially liberal district.

Conservative district

Walsh, on the other hand, is running for re-election in a staunchly conservative district against Mary Ruth Edwards, a teacher from Prosser and a former Marine who is anchoring her campaign in part with her opposition to gay marriage.

Edwards ran for a U.S. House seat in 2010 as a member of the Constitution Party but was eliminated in the primary. She said she decided to run this year after she learned redistricting would place her in Walsh’s district.

“After I looked up who my representative was, I said to myself: I don’t want to be represented by someone who says she is a Republican, but was a co-sponsor of the bill to redefine marriage,” she said.

Edwards has raised $807.75 for her campaign so far, but she could see a significant boost if the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) — one of the largest funders in the fight against gay marriage — makes good on its pledge to funnel $250,000 to any Republican willing to challenge GOP legislators in Washington who voted for the marriage bill.

NOM President Brian Brown won’t comment on specific plans for Walsh’s district, but he said his group is committed to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat gay marriage at the ballot in Washington, as well as individual races.

Despite that looming threat, Walsh, a mother of three who spends her time outside Olympia running a kitschy onion-themed restaurant in Walla Walla, is in a good position for re-election. Sixty-four percent of her district voted against extending domestic partnerships to gay couples in 2009, but a year later, they overwhelmingly re-elected Walsh, despite her support for the measure.

“It is certainly (NOM’s) right to pump all that money, but to be honest, I think I am on the right side of history,” she said. “It’s a waste of money for them to do that. My district knows me.”

It isn’t unusual for politicians to be out of step with their district on a high-profile issue and still be re-elected time and again, said Chris Vance, a political consultant and former chairman of the state Republican Party.

“Voters look at the whole person,” Vance said. “Voters are willing to re-elect people even if they take a position against them.”

Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, bucked his party and voted against gay marriage, but his staff took the time to respond to letters from voters explaining how he came to his vote. The personal touch helped, he said, and it hasn’t been an issue in his re-election campaign so far.

Rep. Glenn Anderson, the only other House Republican to vote with Walsh in favor of gay marriage, is now running in a crowded field for lieutenant governor. He said that the marriage vote has had a marginal effect on his campaign, which is lagging behind other candidates in fundraising. He is focusing on his conservative fiscal record and is not accepting any donations from interest groups.

Taking no chances

Despite Walsh’s incumbent advantage and strong margins in the past, gay donors don’t want to take any chances.

Notable gay philanthropists Mel Heifetz and Weston Milliken are among her top contributors. Both gave Walsh the maximum contribution of $900. Famed gay and lesbian advocate Urvashi Vaid has also given to Walsh.

With more states taking up the issue of same-sex marriage, there is more interest in state races among gay donors than ever before, said Mike Dively, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., and runs a foundation that supports gay and lesbian youth around the country.

He keeps an eye out for important state races and gave $250 to Walsh after a friend forwarded her video to him.

“Donors are becoming much more conscious of the importance of not just making a contribution here or there, but being very targeted and being very thoughtful about candidates,” he said. “And certainly it doesn’t matter if they are Republicans or Democrats.”

Edwards criticized her opponent for taking support from donors outside the state, calling Walsh out of touch with her district.

Walsh acknowledged that taking money from “out-of-towners” may turn off some, but added that she was happy people had been moved by her story.

Soon after her emotional vote, Walsh received a phone call from a gay teenager from the Midwest who had just come out of the closet and was contemplating suicide. He had seen her video and decided not to harm himself.

“Win or lose, my next campaign — and I certainly want to win — but when you hear things like that, you think, ‘My work is done.’ ”

Javier Panzar: 206-464-2250 or jpanzar@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @jpanzar

Miami Herald – Gay activists in Cuba demand that parliament respect their rights

Gay activists in Cuba demand that parliament respect their rights

Just days before Cuba’s second annual Gay Pride march on Sunday, gay rights activists demanded respect from Cuban lawmakers.

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM
Cuban gay activists held a kiss-in demonstration and presented a demand for respect to the country’s parliament on Thursday, as they prepared for the upcoming island’s second annual Gay Pride parade.

Fifty people — mostly gay rights activists but also a handful of dissidents such as Guillermo Fariñas and Martha Beatriz Roque — signed a petition calling for civil rights and handed it to the National Assembly of People’s Power, said Ignacio Estrada, a gay activist and dissident.

“Our document calls on the Cuban government to fully comply with international agreements it has signed on human rights, especially those that apply to LGBT rights,” Estrada said after delivering the petition.

The petition also calls on lawmakers to launch an investigation of the Military Units to Aid Production, or UMAPs — hard-labor camps created by Fidel Castro during the 1960s to detain homosexuals and government critics — and requests trials for government officials responsible for the camps.

Activists are also demanding that authorities stop applying the vaguely worded crime of “pre-criminal dangerousness” to gays and instead investigate complaints of those who are beaten or fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation, Estrada said.

Estrada married Wendy Iriepa last year after she underwent transgender surgery. At the time, Iriepa claimed that Mariela Castro, Cuban President Raúl Castro’s daughter and head of the National Center for Sex Education, fired her from her job at the CENESEX for consorting with a dissident.

Estrada said three gay rights groups that are independent of the CENESEX — the Cuban League Against AIDS, the Open Door Foundation and LGBT Observatory — will stage the island’s second annual Gay Pride march on Sunday.

Before last year’s parade, Cuba didn’t allow the march, which marks the Stonewall riots against police raids in New York in 1969, saying that the demonstration wasn’t necessary on the island. Police detained a number of gay activists last year to keep them away from the march, but about 20 managed to join.

The march this Sunday will start at the Capitol Building, once home of the Cuban government, move down Paseo del Prado boulevard and end at the seaside Malecón, Estrada told El Nuevo Herald by phone from Havana.

The “Kiss-In for Diversity and Equality” at the Ramón Fonst sports arena was organized by Project Rainbow, which calls itself an “anti-capitalist and independent LGBT group,” to mark the Stonewall riots.

The group was founded last year by Yasmin Portales Machado, who is described in her blog as a mother, a feminist and a “critical Marxist.”

“With this public and affectionate action we invite you to make the LGBT community in Cuba visible,” the group said in a statement. “We are part of the nation.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/28/2873429/gay-activists-in-cuba-demand-that.html#storylink=cpy

New York Times

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To the Editor:

Connect With Us on Twitter
For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.
Re “How My View on Gay Marriage Changed,” by David Blankenhorn, the founder of the Institute for American Values (Op-Ed, nytimes.com, June 23):

While I am pleased that Mr. Blankenhorn realizes that his earlier views against gay marriage are growing less mainstream, his logic continues to confound. According to his article, gay couples — because they cannot conceive — undermine the notion that parenthood is fundamental to marriage.

If this is the case, what of couples who cannot conceive or those who choose not to for fear of passing on a hereditary illness? Do these heterosexual couples also undermine marriage?

Furthermore, Mr. Blankenhorn remarks that gay marriage is “a significant contributor to marriage’s continuing deinstitutionalization.” How could gay marriage, which is outlawed in 42 states either by constitutional amendment or law, have such a deleterious effect on an institution as old as society itself?

Mr. Blankenhorn rightly asserts that gay couples should enjoy the same rights as their fellow heterosexual citizens. But his path to this conclusion is marred by its own contradictions.

TRAVIS C. STALCUP
Honolulu, June 23, 2012

To the Editor:

I’ve read most of what David Blankenhorn has published since “Fatherless America (1995),” and have always been impressed. His work has been a mixture of solid scholarship, moral acuity and concern for our children, in an era that devalues all three.

I have just finished his Op-Ed article and believe that he has done the right thing, for the right reasons and in the right way. This explanation of his position and how he came to it makes clear that the welfare of children remains his primary concern, and it demonstrates his continued faithfulness to the public roles of scholar, student and citizen.

His legacy will be found in the lives of those whose childhoods were made more secure because of his research.

JOHN HEARN
Jamestown, N.Y., June 23, 2012