September 22, 2011 | by Staff reports
National News in Brief: September 23

Maggie Gallagher, chair of the National Organization for Marriage, surprised attendees of the premiere of ‘8’ when she was spotted in the audience. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gallagher attends ‘Milk’ screenwriter’s Prop 8 play

The star-studded premiere of Dustin Lance Black’s play ‘8’ based on the Proposition 8 trial had an unexpected audience member last week — National Organization for Marriage’s board chair, Maggie Gallagher.

The marriage equality opponent, Gallagher, is portrayed in the play by Tony-nominated actress Jayne Houdyshell. According to Andy Towle of Towleroad.com, who captured several photographs of the anti-marriage leader, Gallagher engaged in debate with marriage advocates outside of the play, but beyond crinkling a loud bag of snacks she brought in throughout the show, was otherwise not disruptive during the performance.

The show features Ellen Barkin, Bob Balaban, Matt Bomer, Campbell Brown, Anthony Edwards, Morgan Freeman, Cheyenne Jackson, Larry Kramer, Christine Lahti, John Lithgow, Rory O’Malley, Rob Reiner, Yeardley Smith and Bradley Whitford. The script is based on the transcripts of the historic ‘Perry v. Schwarzenegger’ trial, currently being appealed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge: Prop 8 trial video will be released

SAN FRANCISCO — A Federal District Court judge has ordered the tapes released from the 2010 Proposition 8 trial, despite pleas from gay rights opponents to keep the tapes secret.

“Foremost among the aspects of the federal judicial system that foster public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the process are public access to trials and public access to the record of judicial proceedings,” Chief Justice James Ware wrote in his ruling, which is stayed until Sept. 30. “Consequently, once an item is placed in the record of judicial proceedings, there must be compelling reasons for keeping that item secret.”

In 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Prop 8, the California constitutional amendment barring marriage between citizens of the same sex. The Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial was allowed to be recorded, and the sponsors of the case, American Foundation for Equal Rights have called for the release of the tapes as a matter of transparency.

Michigan House approves ban on DP benefits

LANSING, Mich. — Despite vocal opposition during debate, last week the Republican-controlled Michigan House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation, stripping the state’s public universities of their right to offer domestic partnership benefits to same-sex partners of employees.

Citing the 2004 Michigan Constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 2, Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandville) pushed HB 4770 and 4771 to prohibit the benefits, according to the Michigan Messenger.

The fate of the bill now rests in the state Senate, also Republican controlled. Whether or not Gov. Rick Snyder would sign the measure is unclear, as one of the governor’s legal counsels, Michael Gadola wrote to the majority leaders in both houses calling into question the constitutionality of both bills.

Australia implements trans-friendly passport policy

CANBERRA, Australia — In a move that may lead to changes around the world, Australia has announced that it will allow transgender or intersex citizens to choose against identifying with either “M” or “F” on passports.

According to the blog ThinkProgress, citing challenges that trans and intersex residents face in security while traveling, Australia will allow residents to apply for passports with the gender designator “X.” Australia also will no longer restrict gender marker changes to trans people who have already undergone gender reassignment surgery, and allow the changes after an applicant receives a doctor’s note.

Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus launches

WASHINGTON — Reps. Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott and Trent Franks are launching the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, which will take a leading role in the House of Representatives in advocating for stronger HIV/AIDS policies both at home and abroad.

“American leadership in the global fight against HIV/AIDS began a decade ago when Republican and Democratic leaders stood together and refused to allow a deadly disease to claim a generation of African teachers, nurses, doctors, parents and children,” said senior adviser Michael Gerson in a press release from the caucus. “The HIV/AIDS caucus announced today will remind Congress of a great bipartisan achievement – and of a continuing responsibility to save lives.”

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