December 22, 2011 at 10:41 am EST | by Phil Reese
National news in brief: Dec. 23
Bob Menendez

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) — once a vote for DOMA — has signed on to help lead its repeal. (Photo by Luigi Novi)

Menendez is 32nd co-sponsor of DOMA repeal

WASHINGTON — Though he voted for the law in 1996, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is now co-sponsoring the bill to kill the Defense of Marriage Act.

Joining 12 other colleagues that once supported DOMA and who are now co-sponsoring its repeal, called the Respect for Marriage Act, last week Menendez became the bill’s 32nd co-sponsor.

“Since my vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act 15 years ago, like tens of millions of Americans, I have reflected deeply and frequently about this issue,” Menendez wrote in an editorial for the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “For me, this comes down to the principles I learned as the child of immigrants and that I cherish as an American: that we believe in equality for all people under the law.”

Prop 8 repeal group to gather signatures

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Secretary of State has approved language for signature gathering to a group seeking to overturn by ballot California’s Proposition 8, which banned marriage rights for same-sex couples in that state.

Los Angeles-based Love Honor Cherish formed during the original Proposition 8 fight in 2008, and has pledged to take Prop 8 back to the ballot in 2012. The group will have until May 14 to collect 807,615 valid signatures in order to qualify for the November ballot.

Equality California decided against supporting a 2012 ballot measure due to optimism surrounding the Perry v. Brown federal trial and worries about the ability to raise enough cash to fund another ballot battle.

Orlando approves domestic partnership registry

ORLANDO, Fla. — Last week, the Orlando City Council voted unanimously to approve a domestic partnership registry, becoming the first city in central Florida to do so, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The registry opens to both same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples on Jan. 12, and will allow couples to register for $30, giving them the ability to make health decisions for one another, end of life decisions and visit one another in the hospital and in jail — all rights automatically granted to married couples. Same-sex couples in Florida are denied marriage rights due to a voter-approved constitutional amendment.

Mich. seeks to void anti-bias ordinances

LANSING, Mich. — Republican state representative Tom McMillan introduced a bill in the Michigan House that would undo LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances around the state.

HB 5039 says that a state agency or local government cannot adopt ordinances or regulations protecting classes not specifically listed in the state’s list of protected classes, the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Currently Ann Arbor, Lansing, East Lansing and Kalamazoo bar employment and housing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Efforts to add LGBT Michiganders to the statewide list of protected classes have failed in the past.

Gov’t drops deportation case against couple

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Michael Thomas and John Brandoli now know they will be spending this holiday together, and likely many more in the future.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has stopped seeking deportation for Thomas — who is fighting his order to leave his husband and return to his native Trinidad. Upon the insistence of Sen. John Kerry, I.C.E. has agreed to join the motion to stop the removal.

Brandoli and Thomas were legally married in Wilbraham, Mass., on March 28, 2010. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing legal marriages performed in states like Massachusetts that occur between members of the same-sex, which creates hardships for married bi-national couples.


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