Anchorage anti-bias measure faces opposition
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An initiative adding gender identity and sexual orientation to the Anchorage non-discrimination rules is up for vote a vote on April 3, but interference from larger national anti-gay groups may make the fight tougher for supporters.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, which has intervened in pro-LGBT ballot measures across the country for many years, has begun weighing in on the measure.
“The ultimate concern with enacting something like that is that it infringes on religious freedoms,” said ADF lawyer Holly Carmichael. “There’s a huge constitutional concern here.”
But Anchorage employment lawyer Thomas Daniel is defending the expansion of protections, saying that religious institutions should remain confident that exemptions in the law will allow faith groups shelter from frivolous litigation.
Boy Scouts join ‘no name-calling’ week
NEW YORK — Despite a history of policies barring gay men from participation, Boy Scouts of America may be signaling a change this week by signing on to support a national gay group’s anti-bullying effort, according to the Huffington Post.
A contributor to the Scouts’ official blog published an editorial introducing readers to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s “No Name-Calling Week,” an annual anti-bullying event.
“I’m delighted the Boy Scouts of America’s official publication is calling on its adult leaders to join with the tens of thousands of educators and other youth-serving professionals who are currently observing No Name-Calling Week in order to improve the lives of millions of youth,” said GLSEN executive director Dr. Eliza Byard.
Minn. court revives marriage case
MINNEAPOLIS — After a Hennepin County District Judge threw out a lawsuit brought by same-sex couples seeking marriage, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has revived the case.
The three-judge panel unanimously ruled that District Judge Mary Dufresne inappropriately relied on a 1971 Minnesota Supreme Court decision, and sent the case back to the trial court, according to New York’s Gay City News.
The decision in the 1971 case, Baker v. Nelson — brought by two men seeking to marry in Minnesota — was deemed faulty in this week’s appeals court decision, because it failed to take into consideration the state constitution in its analysis, as is required. The United States Supreme Court refused the case, saying it lacked any federal impact.
The decision, written by Judge Renee L. Worke, asserts both that the courts must apply an additional level of scrutiny in questions of due process and equal protections, and that constitutional law has evolved significantly since 1971, which merits a fresh analysis of the question.
“Appellants claim that the government cannot deprive them of their fundamental right to marry without showing that this denial is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest,” Worke wrote. “But even if the right to marry is not considered a fundamental right, appellants should have been granted an opportunity to show that MN DOMA is not a reasonable means to its stated objective –– to promote opposite-sex marriages to encourage procreation. The district court failed to conduct an appropriate analysis under the Minnesota Constitution.”
Both sides will now decide whether to appeal this decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court or to return to district court.
Gay strategist runs for Maine state house
Matt Moonen, former political director for EqualityMaine, announced that he is running for an open seat in the Maine House of Representatives representing Portland, according to Maine progressive blog, Dirigo Blue.
Having spent many years working on LGBT issues, Moonen worked with Mass Equality during the first successful push for same-sex marriage in America in Massachusetts, as well as the Fair Wisconsin campaign to defeat a ballot measure barring same-sex marriage in that state. Most recently he worked with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, and is the vice chair of the Portland City Democratic group.
“I am looking forward to a positive campaign,” Moonen said in a statement. “Working together with the people of Maine, we can find innovative and effective solutions to the problems we face, and ensure that Maine continues to be the best place to live, work and raise a family,”