Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Policy Matters: September 12, 2012

Front Page Headlines:

The Battle for Marriage Equality Gains Speed in Maine: After months of mostly one-on-one campaigning, gay marriage supporters are rolling out television advertising, bumper stickers, and yard signs as they seek to make Maine the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through a statewide vote. Opponents also are stepping up their efforts. Hundreds of gay marriage advocates gathered Monday at Portland City Hall to launch a “Yes on One” referendum push over the next eight weeks leading to the Nov. 6 election. Mainers United for Marriage will follow up with a $100,000, weeklong television campaign beginning Tuesday [Boston Globe]. 

“You Can Play” Movement for Equality and Respect in Sports Takes Off: Following the lead of several other major sports franchises, the Washington, D.C. Capitals announced that they are supporting a project called “You Can Play,” which endeavors to foster equality, respect and safety for all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation. The move by the Capitals follows local support for the movement by D.C. United, the George Washington University atheletic department, sport franchises across the nation. It comes not only during an election season when gay rights issues are on the ballot in four states, but also in a month when a pair of NFL (National Football League) players have come out vociferously in support of gay marriage rights [The Washington Post].

Recent Study Shows that the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Has Had No Negative Effects on the Military: The Palm Center, a UCLA School of Law-affiliated research center, released a study showing that ‘the repeal of DADT has had no overall negative impact on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.’ Researchers released 12 total findings, including that ‘in no case did negative consequences outwieght benefits. In balance DADT repeal has enhanced the military’s ability to pursue its mission.’ Also, retention and recruitment were ‘unaffected’ by repeal, and the policy change did not lead to ‘any new wave of violence or physical abuse.’ [The Virginia Pilot]

Women Challenge Michigan’s Marriage Amendment: A lesbian couple already battling the state’s ban on adoptions by unmarried couples has expanded their legal fight to tackle Michigan’s marriage amendment. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who have three special-needs children, made the announcement Friday, September 7th, during a news conference with their legal team at the Penobscot Building. The couple is the first to challenge the state’s marriage amendment since it was passed in 2004. In the amended lawsuit filed Friday in federal court, the Hazel Park women are seeking to change the state’s laws that prevent same-sex couples from marrying and adopting children. [The Detroit News]

Policy Watch:

Non-discrimination Ordinance Will Be Put to a Vote in Salina, Kansas: Salina voters will decide in November whether to repeal the city’s new ordianance barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The City Commission rejected a motion Monday to roll back the protections that took effect in June. The panel then voted unanimously to put the proposal to repeal the ordinance on the Nov. 6 ballot. The commission approved the ordinance in May on a vote of 3-2. The local law bars discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in housing, employment and public accommodations [Kansas City Star].

The Fight for LGBT Equality in Australia Faces Huge Obstacles: Senior Labor Party figures are pushing for a vote on gay marriage, possibly as early as next week, to oppose increased LGBT rights and clear the issue off the agenda. But as many as five government ministers argued in favor of legalizing gay unions in the parliamentary debate, and have hope that such an early vote would look like a ‘cynical move on Labor’s part.’ While campaigners say they are hopeful a majority of senators could be gathered, they admitted change was unlikely because the opposing coalition was bound to vote against it. [Sydney Morning Herald].

 Vermont Joins New York and Connecticut in Opposition to DOMA: Vermont’s Attorney General says the state is the latest to ask an Appeals Court to rule that the federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. Attorney General William Sorrell said Friday that the Defense of Marriage Act deprives same-sex couples of federal benefits and unfairly discriminates against them. He says Vermont, New York and Connecticut, all states where gay marriage is legal, filed a brief in a case brought by a New York woman who had to pay $350,000 in estate taxes when her partner died [Huffington Post].

Question From the Field:

Dear Policy Matters,
            I’ve been paying attention to the state campaigns for marriage equality around the nation, and can see that they’re really starting to take off as we get closer to the election. It looks like its going to be a pretty tough fight, and I’m not sure what the best way is for me to help. Even though I don’t know any one in a marriage amendment state, ensuring equality for those folks who will be affected is still incredibly important to me. I want to help in whatever way I can, but am not sure how since I’m not connected to any of the marriage equality campaigns.

Any ideas for the best way to get involved?



Dear Meredith,

            Thanks so much for writing to Policy Matters! We’re thrilled that you’re so eager to get involved in the fight for equality, and there are many different roads you can take to helping ensure success for PFLAG families at the polls this November.
            You’ve already taken the first step by paying attention to what’s going on around the nation. As you may know, there are four different states (Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota) that will have a marriage equality amendment on the ballot on November 6th. Each of these states have their own specific campaigns that are solely dedicated to making sure that November 6th is a successful day for equality. However, as you also pointed out, the road ahead is anything but free and clear. There are going to be a lot of obstacles, especially in states like Minnesota that are attempting ban marriage equality instead of affirm it, and we need all the help we can get to make sure every member of the PFLAG family gets the protection they deserve. That’s where you come in.
            If you live in or near one of these four states, you can get directly involved with their state marriage equality campaigns and offer them your time and energy. If you’re not sure how to get involved in these campaigns, simply contact your local PFLAG chapter, and they will have all the information you need. They’ll be able to tell you about all of the events going on to protect PFLAGers at the polls and the many different ways you can help out and get involved.
            If you don’t live near one of these states, you can still get directly involved in their campaigns through our Adopt-a-State Initiative. This includes calling any friends or family you may have in a ballot initiative state and encouraging them to vote or even get involved. If you don’t have any contacts, you can help out by staging letter-writing campaigns, completing phone banking for voters of that state, and many other activities. We promise you’ll find one that fits your skills and abilities, there are so many ways that you can help push equality forward through November. To get in touch with these campaigns, contact your local PFLAG chapter, and they'll be able to set you up. 
            Additionally, apart from your focus on marriage equality, one of the most important things you can do to help members of the PFLAG family is to be sure that you, your family and friends all get out and vote on November 6th. It’s one of the easiest and most powerful ways to raise our voices, and it’s important that every individual takes advantage of it.

Thanks for your enthusiasm in helping us move equality forward,

Policy Matters

Action Alert: Want to get more involved in the fight for equality this election season? Visit our PFLAG Take Action Center or contact your local PFLAG chapter to learn more about the many opportunities to get involved and raise your 

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