Guardian – Gay relationships could be factor in US deportation cases

Gay relationships could be factor in US deportation cases
Policy is part of federal program designed to improve use of government resources on low-priority cases

Associated Press in San Francisco
guardian.co.uk, Friday 3 August 2012 18.43 EDT

US homeland security have reiterated that same-sex relationships may be a factor when deportation is being considered. Photograph: Jeff Gentner/AP
After pressure from lawmakers, US homeland security officials have reiterated that a foreigner’s longstanding same-sex relationship with a US citizen could help stave off the threat of deportation.

Homeland security spokeswoman Marsha Catron said on Friday that binational gay couples are eligible for consideration under a federal program designed to focus government resources away from low priority deportation cases.

But that does not mean the Obama administration will automatically shelve deportation cases or process green card applications involving foreign citizens married to same-sex American partners.

The statement, which builds on comments homeland security officials first made last summer, comes three days after 84 lawmakers demanded the agency put its position in writing to help protect same-sex couples from deportation.

Immigrant advocates welcomed the comments but said a formal policy is still needed.

Taipei Times – Couple wed in first same-sex Buddhist service in Taiwan

Couple wed in first same-sex Buddhist service in Taiwan

By Loa Iok-sin / Staff reporter

Yu Ya-ting, left, and her partner, Huang Mei-yu, stand in front of a statue of Buddha in the prayer hall of a monastery in Taoyuan County after getting married yesterday.
Photo: Rueters
Blessed by the Buddhist Master Shih Chao-hwei (釋昭慧), Yu Ya-ting (游雅婷) and Huang Mei-yu (黃美瑜) became the nation’s first lesbian couple to be married in a Buddhist ceremony yesterday.
“Do you, Ya-ting, take Mei-yu to be your companion for life, to have and to hold, in sickness and in heath, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, keeping yourself solely unto her for as long as you both shall live?” Shih asked to Yu in front of more than 100 guests attending the wedding and a statue of a sitting Buddha, after reciting Buddhist chants and a teaching on the meaning of marriage.
“I do,” Yu answered.
Shih then turned to Huang and asked the question, to which Huang also answered “yes.”
“You may exchange Buddhist beads now,” Shih said.
“Congratulations to both of you,” Shih said. “I am certain you will lead a life of happiness together, especially after you have overcome so much difficulty and societal discrimination. You have blessings not only from the Buddha, but also from those whom you may or may not know who are in attendance.”
The couple then stamped their seals on a marriage certificate, as did Shih and two friends of the couple who hosted the wedding.
Shih said that for Buddhists, marriage is a vow two people make to move their relationship to the next level and turn their love of themselves into love for the other.
The wedding took place at a Buddhist monastery in Guanyin Township (觀音), Taoyuan County.
Although the wedding was attended by a sizable crowd that gave the couple their best wishes, the absence of the couple’s parents reminded them that same-sex marriage is not so widely accepted by society.
“My parents have known my sexual orientation for many years, but at first, they couldn’t really accept it,” Huang told the media before the wedding. “So, when we started dating seven years ago, I took her [Ya-ting] home frequently to meet my family and let them know who I was going out with and gradually, they came to accept it.”
Huang said Yu’s parents only learned their daughter is a lesbian when they began to prepare for the wedding.
“Our parents originally agreed to come to our wedding, but they felt they were not prepared for the media exposure, so they decided not to come,” Huang said.
Another reality they have to face is that the wedding is not legally recognized. The couple has written an open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) urging the government to recognize same-sex marriage as soon as possible.
“Marriage is a basic right, and the Constitution protects the equal rights of each citizen of this country to enjoy equal rights, so there is no reason that same-sex marriage should be excluded form legal recognition,” said Chuang Chiao-ju (莊喬汝), a member of the Taiwan LGBT Rights Advocacy. “Ma calls himself a gay-friendly president so he should use his power to push for the legalization of gay marriage.”
Huang said they decided to have a Buddhist wedding because they are Buddhists and since around 80 percent of the population are more or less Buddhist, they hoped a wedding blessed by a Buddhist master would help change society’s views about same-sex marriage.

Huffington Post Gay Voices – Obama Boy Scouts Statement: President Opposes Group’s Gay Ban

Obama Boy Scouts Statement: President Opposes Group’s Gay Ban
The Huffington Post | By Paige Lavender
Posted: 08/08/2012 4:55 pm Updated: 08/08/2012 5:07 pm

President Barack Obama shakes hands with supporters as he arrives at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo, Wednesday, Aug, 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

President Barack Obama expressed his opposition to the Boy Scouts of America’s reaffirmation of its policy of excluding gays on Wednesday.

The president called the rule, which was renewed in July after a two-year review, “discrimination” in a statement to the Washington Blade.

“The President believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century,” White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said. “He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation.”

The ban has been faced with opposition by some former scouts, several of whom returned their badges in protest of the rule. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney also expressed opposition to the ban, saying “all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Despite the opposition, the Boy Scouts’ chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, said most Scout families support the policy, which applies to both adult leaders and Scouts.

The AP reported earlier:

The Scouts cited support from parents as a key reason for keeping the policy and expressed hope that the prolonged debate over it might now subside. Bitter reactions from gay-rights activists suggested that result was unlikely.
The Scouts’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press that an 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, came to the conclusion that the exclusion policy “is absolutely the best policy” for the 102-year-old organization.

Smith said the committee, comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers, was unanimous in its conclusion – preserving a long-standing policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and has remained controversial ever since.

This isn’t the first time Obama has expressed his support for the LGBT community. In May 2012, he became the first sitting president to announce his support for same-sex marriage, and in June he held a Gay Pride Month reception at the White House.

UPDATE: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) decried the Boy Scouts’ “outdated policy” in a press release:

“Our nation’s leaders from across religions and political persuasions have joined hundreds of thousands of Americans in speaking out against the blatant discrimination that the Boy Scouts of America teaches young adults today,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “It’s clear that this outdated policy will be changing in the future. How long will the Boy Scouts continue to bully young gay Americans into hiding who they are and hurt children of gay parents by denying their parents an opportunity to participate in their children’s lives?”

Los Angeles Times -Gay-rights supporters plan kissing protest at Chick-fil-A

Gay-rights supporters plan kissing protest at Chick-fil-A
August 2, 2012 | 5:16 am

“Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” an event Wednesday in which supporters converged on the fast-food establishment to back its chief executive’s controversial stance on gay marriage, is not the end of the controversy.

Gay rights supporters are planning a “National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A” on Friday. As part of the event, couples are encouraged to go one of the chicken restaurant’s locations and take a photo or video of themselves kissing.

“Let’s show Chick-fil-A thanks for their support of Love, Equality, and the Real Definition of Marriage! Invite your friends!” organizers said on its Facebook page.

Gay rights advocates on Wednesday also suggested that supporters eat at KFC instead of Chick-fil-A.

On Wednesday, much of the attention was focused on supporters of the embattled eatery.

Mark Almlie, 39, said he’s never had Chick-fil-A food, but drove from Simi Valley to the restaurant Wednesday to support “people that will stand up for what they believe in.”

“I’m not against gay rights by any means, but I think this guy is getting a bad rap,” Beaumont resident Ed Vatter, 57, said over a plate of chicken nuggets and waffle fries at the Chick-fil-A in Laguna Niguel.
“Plus,” he told The Times, “the food’s pretty good.”

Hundreds of people turned out at chicken eateries throughout the state Wednesday in support, including at a Northridge Chick-fil-A.

Gwilym McGrew, who drove to the fast-food restaurant from Woodland Hills, said more than 100 cars were waiting along Tampa Avenue to pull into the parking lot. “A couple hundred” people had lined up on foot, he said, some drinking water distributed by employees.

“It’s very calm madness,” McGrew said. “Everybody’s very orderly.”

McGrew was one of many people who ventured to the restaurant to show support for Chick-fil-A, which drew criticism after chief executive Dan Cathy recently said he and his company were against gay marriage. The comments drew strong reactions, with customers pledging to boycott the chain and some mayors proclaiming they would not allow Chick-fil-A to open in their cities.

In response, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared Wednesday to be Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, calling on people to eat at the restaurant to show support.

McGrew said he came to the restaurant to support Cathy’s religious beliefs, even though he said he himself is not religious.

“I’m not getting myself involved in the issue of gay marriage and all that; I’m not getting involved in a religious debate,” he said. “I’m getting involved in the government putting their thumb on a businessperson for his religious beliefs.”

Customers said they waited in line for about 20 minutes, and were told it would take about an hour longer before they could order food.

Earlier Wednesday, more than a dozen people stood outside the Northridge Chick-fil-A, waving American flags and holding signs: “Free to speak, to build, to boycott.” The event was organized by the San Fernando Valley Patriots, a local arm of the tea party.

“That man — just like you or I — has a right to say, ‘This is what I believe and not be punished for it,” Karen Kenney of the San Fernando Valley Patriots told KTLA.

The Northridge restaurant declined to comment and referred questions to the company’s corporate office.

[For the record, 7:10 a.m., Aug. 2: An earlier version of this post and headline incorrectly stated that the protest was organized by the gay rights group GLAAD. It was organized by grass-roots activists, but is supported and promoted by GLAAD. GLAAD is also supporting — but not organizing — an effort to eat at KFC instead of Chick-fil-A.]