Connect with us

News

Illinois poised to enact marriage equality

Obama hails action making home state 15th to legalize gay nuptials

Published

on

Illinois State Capitol, Springfield, gay news, Washington Blade

The Illinois State House approved marriage equality legislation (Photo by Meagan Davis via wikimedia commons).

By LOU CHIBBARO JR. & CHRIS JOHNSON

The Illinois House of Representatives on Tuesday approved legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in the state; the Senate quickly followed suit, clearing the way for approval by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who has promised to sign the bill.

When the governor gives his stamp of approval of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act, as expected, the legislation would take effect June 1, 2014, making Illinois the 15th state plus the District of Columbia to grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

State Rep. Greg Harris, who’s gay, closed the debate on the legislation by acknowledging that people hold many different views on the issue, but the right action is a “yes” vote.

“At the end of the day, what this bill is about is love, what it’s about is family, what it’s about is commitment,” Harris said.

Following the remarks, Harris held up an American flag he said he received from an Illinois soldier currently serving in Afghanistan. Harris said the soldier asked him to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois, so when he returns home, he could marry.

President Obama praised the vote in a statement released Tuesday night.

“Tonight, I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly, a body in which I was proud to serve, for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state,” said President Barack Obama in a statement released by the White House.

“As president, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” he said. “So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.”

Following nearly three hours of debate, the Illinois House voted 61-54 to approve the legislation under rules that required 60 votes to pass the measure in the 118-member body. Two members voted “present” and another was absent.

The vote came after the Illinois Senate voted 34-21 to approve a slightly different version of the bill on Feb. 14. The Senate voted quickly to approve a slightly revised House bill.

The House version includes a change of the date on which the law would take effect and expands the exemption for religious or religious affiliated private organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, from having to allow their facilities to be used for same-sex weddings or celebrations.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a lesbian, also spoke on the floor, saying the bill is personally important to her because it would send a message to her family and other families like hers in the state that “it does get better.”

“This bill goes directly to how I am defined, how our family is defined by the state,” Cassidy said.

State Rep. Sam Yingling, who’s gay, similarly referenced his family, saying the legislation is important to him and his three children. Addressing assertions the bill provides insufficient protections to religious institutions, Yingling gave assurances there are “vast protections under this bill.”

“My God stands with me and my family today as we are all created in his image and he never turns his back on his children,” Yingling said.

Deputy Majority Rep. Lou Lang spoke out in favor of the bill by decrying the arguments that opponents have used against it, which he said includes accusations the bill opens the door to litigation and polygamy.

“Where do any of you read that in this legislation?” Lang said. “My guess is that some of the people who have said that haven’t even read the bill.”

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz read a letter she said was from a child adopted by a gay male couple, becoming teary-eyed when she came to a part where the child wrote that her previous foster parents had broken their promise to provide love, but not her gay adoptive parents.

Although the bill was initially written to go into effective immediately, it was amended to make the effective date June 1 to lessen the votes needed for passage during the veto session.

Lawmakers opposing the bill said it would take away religious freedom in the state by redefining marriage and challenging the religious beliefs of those whose faith tells them marriage must be a union only between a man and a woman.

“Real marriage is the building block of human civilization,” the Chicago Tribune quoted Republican Rep. Tom Morrison as saying.

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said the vote was “a victory for all families and their children” in the state.

“It was a victory for hundreds of clergy who joined forces in support of the law, and for scores of major employers who made the business case for equality, and for parents who just wanted all their children to be treated the same,” Cherkasov said.

Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, an Illinois LGBT rights organization, credited rank and file LGBT people and their supporters throughout the state for pushing their representatives in the legislature to support the marriage equality bill in a campaign that took several years.

“It’s taken thousands of Illinoisans to do the heavy lifting to get to this point, contacting their representatives and just normal, everyday folks speaking out as to why they feel this is something Illinois should adopt,” he said. “So we’ve been aggressively pursuing it and it feels so good to finally be here.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sally Beth Edelstein

    November 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Another victory for gay marriage as Illinois joins the other 15 states in finally removing some of the barriers to Gay and Lesbian full participation in the American Dream.

    As ideas of traditional marriage slowly dissolve the notions of traditional marriage are as dated as some of the vintage images we've grown up with.

    It wasn't long ago that the notion of gay marriage was inconceivable as portrayed in a 1972 homophobic comic book which ominously predicted a future filled with…gasp gay marriage. To view these and other vintage images concerning traditional marriage, visit http://envisioningtheamericandream.com/2013/04/01/marriage-equality/

Leave a Reply

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

Virginia

Va. businessman apologizes for burning of rainbow flag poster

‘Shocked and horrified’: Ashburn incident caught on video

Published

on

Organizers of an event where a Pride symbol was burned say the incident was a misunderstanding.

The owner of a Virginia technology company that hosted a private Veterans Day party on the grounds of an Ashburn, Va., brewery in which a company employee used a flame-throwing device to ignite a rainbow flag poster said the selection of the poster was a mistake and he and his company have no ill will toward the LGBTQ community.

The Washington Blade learned about the poster burning from a customer of the Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, where the incident took place on its outdoor grounds. The customer made a video of the incident with his cell phone and sent a copy of the video to the Blade.

The video, which includes an audio recording, shows a man using a hand-held flame-throwing device to ignite the rainbow poster, which was hanging from a cable and appeared to be mounted on cardboard or a thin sheet of wood. Bystanders can be heard laughing and cheering as the poster is set on fire.

The poster consisted of a variation of the LGBTQ Pride rainbow flag that included the word “love” configured from an upper white stripe on the rainbow symbol.

The customer who took the video, who has asked not to be identified, thought the decision to set the poster on fire was a sign of disrespect if not hatred toward a longstanding symbol of LGBTQ equality and pride.

Chris Burns, Old Ox Brewery’s president, shared that view, telling the Blade he and his staff were “shocked and horrified” when they learned later that a rainbow flag poster had been burned on the brewery’s grounds. Burns said Old Ox supports the LGBTQ community and participated in LGBTQ Pride month earlier this year.

He said the company that held the private party paid a fee to hold the event on the brewery’s grounds, but the brewery did not know a rainbow poster would be burned.

“I’m mortified that our event was interpreted in this way,” said Nate Reynolds, the founder and partner of Hypershift Technologies LLC, the Falls Church, Va.-based technology company that organized the Nov. 11 party at Old Ox Brewery. “I can assure you that ZERO ill-will or offense was meant,” Reynolds told the Blade in a Nov. 24 email.

“We held a small private party for a few clients, which included a demonstration of Elon Musk’s Boring Company ‘Not a Flamethrower,’” he said in his message. He was referring to one of billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s companies that specializes in boring through the ground to create tunnels for cars, trains, and other purposes. 

“After so many being isolated during COVID, we wanted to have an event that was lighthearted and to some small effect, silly,” Reynolds said in his message to the Blade.

According to Reynolds, in thinking about what should be used for “fodder” for the flame-thrower, he went to a Five Below discount store and purchased items such as stuffed animals and posters, including a “Space Jam” movie poster as well as what he thought was a poster of the British rock group The Beatles.

“When I pulled the Beatles poster out of the tube it was instead the ‘Love’ poster,” he said, referring to the rainbow flag poster the Blade asked him about in an earlier email.

“All I focused on was the ‘Love’ wording and not the rainbow and did not draw the conclusion that the poster was an icon that represents the LGBTQ community,” Reynolds said. “It was my own ignorance of not connecting the symbolism of the poster. If I had realized it was a symbol of the LGBTQ community, I would not have used it,” he said.

“I feel terrible, and I want to emphasize that I am solely responsible for this mistake – not the Old Ox Brewery,” he wrote in his message. “Nobody at Old Ox had anything to do with this activity.”

Reynolds added, “Hate has no place in my heart, and I sincerely apologize for any offense that could have been drawn from what I now realize was poor judgement on my part. I simply didn’t correlate this poster with the LGBTQ pride symbol.”  

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before Reynolds issued his statement of apology, Burns, the Old Ox Brewery co-owner, told the Blade in an email he was “saddened and upset” over the rainbow poster burning on the grounds of his brewery.

“We do not wish to benefit from this event,” he said in his email message. “Therefore, Old Ox is donating 100% of the revenue generated from the private event to GLSEN.”

GLSEN is a national LGBTQ advocacy group that focuses on education and support for LGBTQ youth. Burns said Old Ox Brewery also donated proceeds from a Pride month event it organized earlier this year to GLSEN.

LGBTQ activists and organizations contacted by the Blade said they were unfamiliar with the variation of the rainbow flag with the word “love” that was the subject of the poster burning incident. The poster is available for sale at Five Below stores in the D.C. metropolitan area for $5.

Small print writings on the poster show it is produced by Trends International LLC, which describes itself on its website as “the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and social stationery products.” The Blade couldn’t immediately determine who designed the poster.

 The video of the poster burning incident can be viewed here:

Continue Reading

Local

Fairfax schools returns LGBTQ-themed books in high school libraries

Review found ‘no pedophilia’ in texts as critics claimed

Published

on

(Book cover insert courtesy of Amazon)

The Fairfax County Public Schools announced on Tuesday that following a detailed review by two committees appointed by school officials it has returned two LGBTQ themed books to its high school libraries that had been temporarily withdrawn after being challenged by critics who claimed they included sexually explicit content inappropriate for students.

The two books, “Lawn Boy,” a novel by author Jonathan Evison, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which is described as an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe, each contain descriptions of sexual acts.

But supporters of the books have argued that they have won praise by literary critics and, while describing intimate relationships, they tell stories that do not fall into the category of pornography.  

Fairfax County Public Schools, the name used for the county’s public school system, on Tuesday said in a statement that a thorough review of the books by two committees consisting of educators, school officials, parents and some students found that neither book contained content that could be considered to depict pedophilia as claimed by some parents and others opposing the two books.

School officials announced they had temporarily withdrawn the two books from school libraries following a Sept. 23 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board where strong objections to the two books were raised by parents.

“Two books that were subject to formal challenge have been deemed appropriate for high school readers following a two-month review process and will be reinstated to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) libraries,” Tuesday’s statement by the school system says.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’s ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” the statement continues. “Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

The statement says the final decision to reinstate the books was made by Noel Klimenko, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for its Instructional Services Department.

The two books have received favorable reviews in various literary publications. Both have received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, an annual award that recognizes the year’s 10 books written for adults that the association says have a special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.

“The robust committee process took place over several weeks and considered whether the books flouted regulations by being obscene or harmful to juveniles as defined by the Code of Virginia,” the school system statement says. “The members also considered the work in line with an excerpt from the FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook pertaining to possessing obscene visual imagery as defined in the Code of Virginia,” the statement says.

“After careful consideration, neither books were deemed to have fallen foul of these regulations,” it concludes.

The decision by Fairfax school officials to reinstate the two books came about six weeks after more than 425 LGBTQ students and allies from over 30 Fairfax County public high schools sent a letter to the school board and the school system’s superintendent urging them to reinstate the two books.

The Pride Liberation Project, a coalition of LGBTQ and allied students in Fairfax County, organized the joint letter.

“Student representatives from over 30 schools, including nearly every high school in Fairfax County Public Schools, have signed this letter, and many of us are students of color, low-income, gender expansive and not out to our families and communities,” the letter states.

“We are writing to ask you to reject calls to remove Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer’ and Jonathan Evison’s ‘Lawn Boy’ from Fairfax County Public Schools libraries,” the letter says.

It points out that “hundreds of books in our schools already depict heterosexual relationships and physical intimacy,” and says singling out LGBTQ themed books with similar stories of intimacy for rejection is unfair.

Continue Reading

En Espanol

Matrimonio igualitario a un paso de ser ley en Chile

Solo falta una última votación en el Senado

Published

on

Una manifestación en favor del matrimonio igualitario en Santiago, Chile, en 2017. (Foto cortesía de Francisca Becker)

VALPARAÍSO, Chile — Como un triunfo “histórico” para los derechos de la diversidad sexual y de género, calificaron los activistas LGBTQ en Chile el avance del proyecto de ley de matrimonio igualitario el martes en el Congreso. Ahora solo falta una última votación en el Senado para convertirse en ley.

“Con 101 votos a favor, 30 en contra y dos abstenciones se aprueba el proyecto de ley que regula el matrimonio igualitario, que pasa a su tercer y último trámite en el Senado”, ha informado el Congreso Nacional chileno en un comunicado.

La votación se enmarca en uno de los momentos políticos más complejos para la población queer de ese país latinoamericano, luego de que el pasado domingo en las elecciones presidenciales y de congresistas la ultraderecha y anti-LGBTQ liderada por el candidato presidencial, José Antonio Kast del Partido Repúblicano obtuvieran un buen desempeño electoral.

Kast, que ha afirmado en muchas ocasiones que existe un “lobby gay” que “busca influir a las personas”, fue el candidato más votado y se enfrentará en el balotaje del 19 de diciembre al izquierdista Gabriel Boric.

“Frente a los discursos de violencia y odio, hace falta responder con amor. No queremos sesgos dogmáticos ultra ideologizados”, apuntó el diputado Diego Ibáñez, del Frente Amplio, la coalición que lidera Boric.

El proyecto de matrimonio igualitario fue firmado por la expresidenta Michelle Bachelet en 2017 y presentado ante el Congreso durante su segundo mandato. Sin embargo, no fue hasta enero de 2020 cuando la sala del Senado aprobó en general el proyecto con 22 votos a favor, 16 en contra y una abstención.

Posteriormente, el presidente del país, Sebastián Piñera, mostró su apoyo a la medida y ordenó suma urgencia.”Pienso que ha llegado el tiempo de garantizar esa libertad y esa dignidad a todas las personas, el tiempo del matrimonio igualitario en nuestro país”, dijo el jefe de Estado en su última cuenta pública.

“Luego de tres décadas de lucha, falta solo un trámite en el Senado para conquistar la hasta ahora esquiva igualdad legal que merece todas las parejas y familias”, destacó la vocera del Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), Javiera Zúñiga, a través de un comunicado de prensa.

“Festejamos este nuevo paso, ahora con la total convicción de que estamos en la recta final. Especialmente felices porque se aprobaron por amplia mayoría todos las indicaciones sobre filiación y adopción homoparental que introducimos en la Cámara. Hablamos de 30 años de lucha, pero de siglos de segregación, cuyos días están contados, lo cual terminará con las injusticias y desigualdades que sufren las parejas del mismo sexo y las familias homoparentales”, añadió Zúñiga.

De no ser aprobado en el Senado, el proyecto de ley pasaría a una comisión mixta. Sin embargo, la actual presidenta de la Cámara Alta se comprometió a realizar su mayor esfuerzo para que sea despachado lo antes posible.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular