Connect with us

National

Same-sex marriages begin in New Jersey

Gov. Chris Christie on Monday announced his administration will drop appeal of marriage ruling

Published

on

Gov. Chris Christie on Monday announced his administration would not appeal a decision that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in his state. (Blade file photo by Michael Key).

Gov. Chris Christie on Monday announced his administration would no longer appeal a decision that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in his state. (Blade file photo by Michael Key).

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday announced his administration will no longer challenge a court ruling that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

“Chief Justice Rabner left no ambiguity about the unanimous court’s view on the ultimate decision in this matter when he wrote, ‘same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,'” Christie spokesperson Colin Reed said, referring to the state Supreme Court’s unanimous decision on Friday that denied the governor’s request to postpone Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s Sept. 27 ruling that found the state’s civil unions law prevents same-sex couples from obtaining federal marriage benefits until the justices rule on his administration’s appeal of it. “Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law.”

Christie’s announcement comes hours after gays and lesbians began to exchange vows in the Garden State.

Lambertville City Councilwoman Beth Asaro and Joanne Schailey, who in 2007 became the first same-sex couple to take advantage of New Jersey’s civil unions law, exchanged vows during a brief ceremony that Lambertville Mayor David DelVecchio officiated at midnight.

“We remained optimistic and hopeful that we would be able to get together and do the just thing, the right thing,” DelVecchio said. “Now we’re here.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who defeated former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonehan last week to succeed the late-U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), officiated seven same-sex weddings at Newark City Hall shortly after Asaro and Schailey tied the knot. A heckler briefly interrupted the proceedings before security personnel escorted him out of the building.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop married eight gay and lesbian couples at Jersey City Hall after midnight.

Louise Walpin and Marsha Shapiro of Monmouth Junction, who filed a lawsuit seeking marriage rights in 2011 on which Jacobson ruled, exchanged vows at the home of state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) shortly after midnight. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) walked the two women down the aisle.

Steven Goldstein, founder of Garden State Equality, an LGBT rights group, read a Jewish blessing.

14 states and D.C. now allow gays and lesbians to marry.

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case that is expected to determine whether same-sex couples can legally marry throughout the state. LGBT rights advocates have filed lawsuits on behalf of gays and lesbians seeking to exchange vows in Pennsylvania and other states that include Virginia, Ohio, Nevada and New Mexico.

Illinois lawmakers this week are poised to potentially debate a measure that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Lawmakers in Hawaii will consider the issue in a special legislative session that begins on Oct. 28.

Oregon officials on Oct. 16 announced they would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

Observers noted Christie had little choice but to drop his appeal of Jacobson’s decision.

“The handwriting was on the wall as clearly as it could possibly be,” Larry Lustberg, a lawyer who represented Walpin and Shapiro and the other plaintiffs in the 2011 case, told reporters on a conference call on Monday as he spoke about the state Supreme Court’s decision. “This was inevitable.”

Hayley Gorenberg of Lambda Legal said during the same conference call that the justices’ ruling is “the last word from the court and marriage equality is now the law in New Jersey.”

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo applauded Christie’s decision to drop his appeal of Jacobson’s ruling.

“Governor Christie apparently knew he was fighting a losing battle in continuing to fight against marriage equality in the Garden State,” Angelo said in a statement. “Rather than engage in legal gymnastics, decided to plant himself on the right side of history. Log Cabin Republicans thanks Governor Christie for doing the right thing.”

National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown sharply criticized the state Supreme Court and Christie.

“The refusal of the New Jersey Supreme Court to order a stay of the same-sex ‘marriage’ ruling was wrong, and the latest example of an activist judiciary running amok, substituting their views for those of the people of the state,” he said. “Still, we are extremely disappointed in Gov. Chris Christie for withdrawing the state’s appeal of the underlying decision, effectively throwing in the towel on marriage. The mark of a leader is to walk a principled walk no matter the difficulty of the path. Chris Christie has failed the test, abandoning both voters and the core institution of society – marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

New Jersey, gay, gay marriage, Washington Blade

Same-sex couples celebrate their weddings inside Jersey City Hall in Jersey City, N.J., on Oct. 21, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Bullock)

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

National

LGBTQ groups largely praise Biden’s State of the Union speech

HRC president attended with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)

Published

on

President Joe Biden delivers his 2023 State of the Union speech on Feb. 7, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LGBTQ rights groups have largely praised President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech that he delivered on Tuesday.

“It’s our duty to protect all the people’s rights and freedoms,” said Biden. “Make no mistake: If Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it. Let’s also pass the bipartisan Equality Act to ensure LGBTQ Americans, especially transgender young people, can live with safety and dignity.” 

The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights law. The bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives in two previous Congresses, but did not come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate. 

“In re-upping his call for Congress to pass the Equality Act and protect transgender youth, the president is leading by example to expand freedom so no one is left behind,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis commented on Twitter. 

Likewise, Equality PAC, the political arm of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, was committed to the president’s vision of a safer U.S. for LGBTQ+ people. 

“At a time where LGBTQ Americans, especially those who are trans, are increasingly under attack by right wing extremists, these [legal] protections have never been more dire,” remarked U.S. Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who co-chair Equality PAC. “We remain committed to working with President Biden and members of Congress to pass the Equality Act and enshrine additional LGBTQ rights into law.” 

The National LGBTQ Task Force in its response to the State of the Union noted how all of the issues on which Biden touched — Social Security, fair wages, Medicaid expansion, access to education, reproductive rights and police reform — have the LGBTQ community “at the center of all the issues.” 

“LGBTQ people are often disproportionately impacted because of the discrimination our community faces every single day. LGBTQ people are not fully able to participate or benefit from all that our country has to offer. For too many queer people, the American dream is out of reach,” said National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Kierra Johnson. 

Research from the Trevor Project notes 36 percent of LGBTQ youth have reported they have been physically threatened or harmed due to either their sexual orientation or gender identity. Sixty percent of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it, and 89 percent of them said seeing LGBTQ representation in the media made them feel good about being LGBTQ.

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson, who attended the State of the Union alongside House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), said “we appreciate that President Biden is making a point to focus national attention on this urgent topic and stand up for transgender kids, because we need our nation’s leaders to show up and prove that, collectively, we are greater than hate.” 

Log Cabin Republicans President Charles Moran had a far different take.

“Last night, all Americans heard from President Biden was a laundry list of expensive new spending bills and tired campaign slogans, couched between a series of lies about Republicans and the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, inflation is still wrecking American families, our debt is skyrocketing out of control, and nearly half of American families — including LGBT ones — are worse off financially than they were just a year ago,” said Moran in a statement. “Not surprisingly, we heard nothing from Biden condemning the woke, race-and-gender-obsessed forces coddled by his administration. LGBT conservatives are thankful that we now have a Republican House to put a stop to the Democrats’ radical policies and look forward to working with Republican leadership to advance our own pro-America, pro-equality and pro-freedom agenda.”

Continue Reading

Federal Government

Rachel Levine tackles bad information on COVID, gender-affirming care

Assistant health secretary is highest ranking transgender person in Biden administration

Published

on

Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In a visit to one of America’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, Adm. Rachel Levine answered questions and offered insight about two of the most controversial healthcare issues of this decade, long COVID-19 and gender-affirming care.

Long COVID is the mysterious phenomenon in which patients endure debilitating, long-term effects from being infected by the coronavirus and gender-affirming care, treatments for transgender youth that are being targeted by lawmakers nationwide.

“Long COVID is real,” said Levine, the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the highest-ranking transgender official in the Biden administration. “We heard from patients who have suffered heart issues, lung issues, issues of fatigue and brain fog, after their COVID-19 infection. And we heard from providers at Yale who are forming a multidisciplinary clinic in order to evaluate and treat these patients.” 

In a public session held Monday at the Yale Law School, four of these “long haulers” shared their challenges with the admiral: Shortness of breath, pulmonary disorders, lifestyle and work limitations and disabilities that are hidden to most observers.

“Hearing the patients tell their stories is so meaningful,” she said, calling it a privilege to better understand the challenges they face.

“That helps us drive policy as well as research,” Levine said. 

“I was very active,” said Hannah Hurtenbach of Wethersfield, Conn., a 30-year-old registered nurse who was diagnosed with post-COVID cardiomyopathy, cognitive brain fog and pulmonary issues. “I loved hiking and being outside. I was constantly on the move and now I barely leave my couch. I barely leave my house and I can’t really handle even a part time job now when I used to work full time. So that has been really difficult at age 30 to be facing those sorts of issues that I never really anticipated feeling.”

Hurtenbach told the Washington Blade she appreciated Levine’s visit.

“Sharing my experience today with the admiral was probably one of the more highlight moments of this experience,” she said. “Knowing that the federal government is taking action, is paying attention, and listening to these stories means more to me than anything else, and especially knowing that what I’ve gone through over the last couple of years can be led and used into the future research and help others just like myself.”

A woman named Christine told the Blade that even though she is so impacted by long COVID that she needs assistance to walk and has to pause as she speaks because of her shortness of breath, she felt attending this event was worth all the struggle to get there.

“I’m so glad I came. I learned a lot from hearing from the others,” she said, who like her are trying to recover from long COVID.

Levine told the Blade that so far, she herself has not contracted COVID, and that she is double-vaccinated and double-boosted. With the president announcing the end of emergency COVID declarations on May 11, she said the administration is pushing Congress to approve extra funding for long COVID and other related needs. But how can she expect to get that through a House of Representatives full of anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and COVID-deniers, including in GOP leadership?

“Long COVID is real and we hear you,” she said. “We plan to engage Congress to talk about the funding that we need. And we’ll continue to work. We do have to get past misinformation in this country, but we are here to give the correct information about COVID-19 and long COVID, and we’ll continue to engage Congress on that.”

Hurtenbach expressed disappointment in those colleagues in healthcare who came out publicly in opposing vaccines and mask mandates.

“I just wish they had paid better attention in school and learned more of the science,” the nurse said. “I wish they would trust the science that they are supposed to be promoting for their patients as well.” 

Following Monday morning’s public meeting, Levine held a private session with long COVID patients and Yale doctors, researchers, counselors, physical therapists and other providers. Then in the afternoon, the admiral spoke at another event, held at Yale Medical School: “A Conversation on LGBTQI+ Health and Gender-Affirming Care.” Although it was closed to press, Yale Asstistant Professor of Medicine Diane Bruessow attended the event and shared with the Blade what Levine told those gathered, which is that she remains positive and optimistic. 

“I think over time, things will change, and things will get better,” said Levine, adding the caveats, “I don’t know if they will get better everywhere in the United States. I also don’t know if it’s going to be quick. I think the next two years will be really, really hard.” Especially with more than 270 anti-trans pieces of legislation moving their way through state legislatures.

“But I am going to stay positive. I’m going to think that over time, things will improve,” Levine said, pledging that both she and the Biden administration would do everything they can to help families with trans kids. “I think the tide will turn.”

Levine: Long COVID is real

Continue Reading

National

Patrons of The Eagle NYC robbed of thousands

NYPD investigators believe the criminals used facial recognition to access the victims’ phones and funds once they were incapacitated

Published

on

The Eagle NYC (Screenshot/YouTube)

The New York City Police Department, (NYPD) confirmed that a series of robberies committed at The Eagle NYC, a Chelsea gay leather bar last Fall, had the three victims losing thousands of dollars after the criminals used facial recognition to access the victims’ phones.

NBC News Out correspondent Matt Lavietes reported the three men, who were in their late 30s and 40s, visited The Eagle NYC, on separate nights in October and November and were each robbed of $1,000 to $5,000, according to the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of public information. 

No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing, authorities said.

Capt. Robert Gault of the city’s 10th Precinct, who spoke about the incidents at a police community council meeting last week, told NBC News that NYPD investigators believe the criminals used facial recognition to access the victims’ phones and funds once they were incapacitated.

“What we think is happening with this scheme is they’re being lured away from the club, maybe to say, ‘Hey, you wanna come with me? I got some good drugs,’ or something like that,’” Gault said. “And then, once they get into a car to do whatever it is that they’re going to do, at some point or another, they don’t know what happened when they wake up.”

Criminals use facial recognition to patrons at NYC gay bar:

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular