Connect with us

National

Attorneys general urge Supreme Court to strike down Prop 8

Brief comes ahead of expected introduction of Del. marriage bill

Published

on

Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade
Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade

13 state attorneys general on Thursday filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case challenging California’s Proposition 8. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Fourteen state attorneys general on Thursday filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“Equality under the law is a founding principle of America, but we will not all be equal until everyone has the freedom to choose whom to love and whom to spend their lives with,” Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said during a news conference in Wilmington. “It is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry.”

The brief onto which Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and Washington Attorney General Robert Ferguson argues California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 denies a variety of legal and social benefits afforded through marriage to same-sex couples and their children. It also highlights nine states and the nation’s capital allow gays and lesbians to marry.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday filed a separate brief with the U.S. Supreme court that urges the justices to strike down Prop 8.

“Our experience in Massachusetts has unequivocally shown that ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage has only strengthened the institution,” Coakley said. “We urge the court to strike Proposition 8 down because it discriminates against gay and lesbian individuals and their families.”

The briefs come ahead of a likely debate on a bill in the Delaware Legislature that would allow gays and lesbians to marry.

An Illinois state House committee on Tuesday approved a same-sex marriage measure, while Minnesota legislators earlier on Thursday introduced a bill that would allow gays and lesbians to marry. Lawmakers in New Jersey and Rhode Island are expected to consider the issue in the coming days and weeks.

“We at Equality Delaware could not be any prouder of our attorney general, Beau Biden, for standing up for freedom and marriage equality for all Delaware families,” Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman, who spoke at Biden’s news conference, told the Washington Blade.

The state attorneys general filed their brief with the court on the same day Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings again expressed their support for marriage rights for same-sex couples in their own brief that urged the justices to strike down Prop 8.

Equality Virginia, the Utah Pride Center, the Campaign for Southern Equality and other LGBT advocacy groups on Wednesday filed a brief that urges the justices to uphold lower court rulings that found both Prop 8 and DOMA unconstitutional. Former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.,) Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, gay California Assembly Speaker John Perez and the U.S. Conference of Mayors are among those who have either filed briefs in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples or signed onto them.

Biden and other state attorneys general are expected to file a brief in the DOMA case on Fiday.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the two cases on March 26-27.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Federal Government

Veterans can now identify as transgender, nonbinary on their VA medical records

About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity

Published

on

Graphic via U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced Wednesday that his department added the options of transgender male, transgender female, nonbinary and other, when veterans select their gender, in medical records and healthcare documentation.

“All veterans, all people, have a basic right to be identified as they define themselves,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “This is essential for their general well-being and overall health. Knowing the gender identity of transgender and gender-diverse veterans helps us better serve them.”

The statement also noted that the change allows health-care providers to better understand and meet the medical needs of their patients. The information also could help providers identify any stigma or discrimination that a veteran has faced that might be affecting their health.

McDonough speaking at a Pride Month event last June at the Orlando VA Healthcare System, emphasized his support for Trans and LGBQ+ vets.

McDonough said that he pledged to overcome a “dark history” of discrimination and take steps to expand access to care for transgender veterans.

With this commitment McDonough said he seeks to allow “transgender vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side,” McDonough said. “We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do, but because they can save lives,” he added.

In a survey of transgender veterans and transgender active-duty service members, transgender veterans reported several mental health diagnoses, including depression (65%), anxiety (41%), PTSD (31%), and substance abuse (16%).  In a study examining VHA patient records from 2000 to 2011 (before the 2011 VHA directive), the rate of suicide-related events among veterans with a gender identity disorder (GID) diagnoses was found to be 20 times higher than that of the general VHA patient population.

McDonough acknowledged the VA research pointing out that in addition to psychological distress, trans veterans also may experience prejudice and stigma. About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity.

“LGBTQ+ veterans experience mental illness and suicidal thoughts at far higher rates than those outside their community,” McDonough said. “But they are significantly less likely to seek routine care, largely because they fear discrimination.

“At VA, we’re doing everything in our power to show veterans of all sexual orientations and gender identities that they can talk openly, honestly and comfortably with their health care providers about any issues they may be experiencing,” he added.

All VA facilities have had a local LGBTQ Veteran Care Coordinator responsible for helping those veterans connect to available services since 2016.

“We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do but because they can save lives,” McDonough said. He added that the VA would also change the name of the Veterans Health Administration’s LGBT health program to the LGBTQ+ Health Program to reflect greater inclusiveness.

Much of the push for better access to healthcare and for recognition of the trans community is a result of the polices of President Joe Biden, who reversed the ban on Trans military enacted under former President Trump, expanding protections for transgender students and revived anti-bias safeguards in health care for transgender Americans.

Continue Reading

Florida

Prominent LGBTQ+ activist found dead in Florida landfill

Diaz-Johnston was the brother of former Miami mayor and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz & he led the fight for marriage equality

Published

on

Photo courtesy of Don Diaz Johnston

Police in Florida’s capital city confirmed that the body of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, 54, who had been reported missing was found in a Jackson County landfill Saturday morning.

Diaz-Johnston was last seen alive Jan. 3 in Tallahassee, more than an hour from where his body was found, according to a missing person notice released by police. Detectives are investigating his death as a homicide, a police spokesperson said.

Diaz-Johnston, was the brother of former Miami mayor and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz. As an LGBTQ advocate he led the fight for marriage equality, he and his husband were plaintiffs in an historic 2014 lawsuit that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Miami-Dade County.

ABC News reported at the time that a South Florida circuit court judge sided with Diaz-Johnston and five couples suing the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Florida dropped its ban on same-sex marriage in 2015.

His husband wrote in a poignant Facebook post; “There are just no words for the loss of my beloved husband Jorge Isaias Diaz-Johnston. I can’t stop crying as I try and write this. But he meant so much to all of you as he did to me. So I am fighting through the tears to share with you our loss of him.”

“We are heartbroken to learn of the death of Jorge. He and his husband Don were two of the brave plaintiffs who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and helped win marriage equality for all Floridians,” Equality Florida said adding, “Our deepest condolences to Don and Jorge’s extended family.”

Detectives urge anyone who may have information to call 850-891-4200, or make an anonymous tip to Big Bend Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

Continue Reading

National

Bill prohibiting ‘gay panic defense’ clears New Hampshire House

New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of ‘gay panic’ as a defense

Published

on

New Hampshire State House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Legislation prohibiting defendants accused of manslaughter from using the victim’s gender, gender identity or sexual orientation as a defense, which had died in committee during the 2021 regular session of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, was reintroduced this session and passed with a 223-118 vote last week.

House Bill 238, stirred up controversary from opponents who claimed that state statues already covered murder and manslaughter. During a Criminal Justice committee hearing last Spring, Rep. Dick Marston, a Manchester Republican, voiced opposition, saying that the laws already cover murder and manslaughter and that “there’s no way in heck that you’re going to be able to say ‘Well because he or she was some deviant sexuality that I’m not–‘”

Marston was cut off by committee chairman Daryl Abbas, a Salem Republican, who gaveled him down and rebuked him for the derogatory language the Concord-Monitor reported

Later, the committee Republicans blocked an effort to move the bill out of committee alleging it needed more work and was not necessary because a jury could already strike down a similar attempted defense. The bill was then stalled in the committee, effectively killing it from being pushed further in last year’s session.

As the measure now heads to the state Senate, New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of the ‘gay panic’ as a defense.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular