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Swiss voters narrowly reject anti-marriage proposal

Tax equity initiative failed by a 51-49 percent margin



Switzerland, gay news, Washington Blade, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality

Switzerland, gay news, Washington Blade, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality

LGBT rights advocates rally in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples in 2014 in Bern, Switzerland. Swiss voters on Feb. 28, 2016, narrowly rejected a proposal that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman in the country’s constitution. (Photo courtesy of Maria von Känel/Swiss Rainbow Families Association)

Swiss voters on Sunday narrowly rejected a proposal that would have prevented same-sex couples from receiving marriage rights.

Election officials indicate the initiative failed by a 51-49 percent margin.

The Christian Democratic People’s Party of Switzerland proposed the initiative — titled “For the Couple and the Family — No to the Marriage Penalty” — in 2012 as a way to address tax “inequality” among married couples. The initiative also sought to amend the Swiss Federal Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

“Marriage is the sustainable and regulated union between a man and a woman,” reads the proposed amendment, according to ILGA-Europe. “From a fiscal point of view, marriage constitutes an economic community. It cannot be discriminated against other ways of living, in particular in terms of tax and social insurance.”

“This initiative was anti-LGBTI sentiment masquerading as tax reform,” said Joyce Hamilton, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, in a statement on Sunday. “The Swiss public saw through the proposal and said they didn’t want to be part of it.”

Swiss LGBT rights advocates also welcomed the vote’s outcome.

Pink Cross posted a picture to its Twitter page with the caption “Yes! A no!”

The Bern-based advocacy group was among the coalition of more than LGBT organizations that urged Swiss voters to oppose the initiative.

“We are very happy that we won this vote,” Pink Cross Secretary General Bastian Baumann told the Washington Blade.

Maria von Känel of the Swiss Rainbow Families Association described Sunday’s vote as “a successful fight against a significant setback.”

“We succeeded in mobilizing a large section of the general public in preventing the enshrinement in the Swiss constitution of the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman,” she told the Blade.

Switzerland has legally recognized same-sex relationships under its Partnership Act since 2007.

The country’s highest court later ruled that gays and lesbians in long-term relationships were entitled to receive the same death benefits from their partner’s pensions that heterosexuals do.

Members of the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Council, which is the lower house of the Swiss Federal Assembly, in February 2015 overwhelmingly recommended that the country extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. The Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of States, which is the upper house of the Swiss Federal Assembly, last September approved the proposal by a 7-5 vote margin.

The Swiss Federal Assembly later this year is expected to debate the issue.

Von Känel told the Blade on Sunday that 70 percent of Swiss people support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“The result of the vote strengthens our resolve to continue our struggle for marriage equality, a parliamentary initiative on which topic is currently being discussed,” she said, referring to Sunday’s vote.

Baumann made a similar point.

“So now we approaching more conservative MP’s and try to convince them for marriage equality,” he told the Blade. “In other hand we try to show the diversity of love and couples in Switzerland with our campaign.”

The Council of States on March 8 is scheduled to vote on a bill that would extend second-parent adoption rights to LGBT couples.

“We are hopeful and cautiously optimistic that the bill will pass,” von Känel told the Blade.

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Puerto Rico activists condemn police raid on LGBTQ-friendly bar

More than 20 officers descended on Loverbar near the University of Puerto Rico



Lovebar (Photo via Twitter)

Activists in Puerto Rico have condemned a police raid on an LGBTQ-friendly bar that took place on Thursday night.

Local media reports indicate more than 20 officers with the San Juan Municipal Police Department entered Loverbar, which is near the campus of the University of Puerto Rico, at around 11 p.m.

A video posted to social media shows that some of the officers who entered the bar were armed with what appear to be shot guns.

Video de La Police entrando.
¿Cuál es la necesidad? Cualquiera juraría que esto es un raid a un punto— ✨ A d o n i s ✨ (@MrWolfheart) July 23, 2021

Media reports cite local authorities who said Loverbar did not have the necessary permits to operate as a bar, and the officers arrived there to fine them. San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero in a statement said officers fined Loverbar and seven other businesses in the city on Thursday for either not having the necessary permits or excessive noise.

Comparto mis expresiones sobre la intervención de anoche de la Policía Municipal de San Juan y la Oficina de Permisos en negocio de Río Piedras.— Miguel Romero (@Miguel_Romero_) July 23, 2021

“The Municipal Police of San Juan led by Miguel Romero intervened last night with a queer bar,” tweeted Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para [email protected], a Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group. “This reminds us of a time when LGBTQI+ people were prosecuted, criminalized and villified.”

“We won’t tolerate homophobia and transphobia in San Juan,” added Serrano.

The Municipal Police of San Juan led by @Miguel_Romero_ intervened last night with a queer bar.

This reminds us of a time when LGBTQI+ people were persecuted, criminalized and vilified.

We won’t tolerate homophobia and transphobia in San Juan.— Pedro Julio Serrano (@PedroJulio) July 23, 2021

Comité Amplio Para la Búsqueda de Equidad (CABE), another Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group, has called for an “exhaustive and independent investigation into the excessive use of force and intimidation by the Municipal Police of San Juan last night” at Loverbar.

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Two injured in gunfire outside crowded 14th Street restaurants

Witnesses say 20 shots fired near Blade, Whitman-Walker offices



Police are looking for three suspects in connection with Thursday’s shooting.

D.C. police are seeking the public’s help in identifying at least three suspects involved in a shooting in which two men were wounded shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 22, on the 1700 block of 14th Street, N.W. where the offices of the Washington Blade and Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive health center, are located.

The shooting occurred while dozens of people were dining at restaurants along the bustling street in the heart of the city’s Logan Circle nightlife area.

Police released a video showing two men – one wearing a white hooded sweater or sweatshirt and the other wearing a dark colored similar hooded shirt running along the street and entering the front and rear passenger doors of a black car double parked on the street that police described as an older model Honda Civic with D.C. license plates.

The video shows the car driving away at a fast speed with a third person driving the vehicle.

“Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Third District seek the public’s assistance in locating suspects and a vehicle in reference to an Assault with Intent to Kill (Gun) offense,” a statement released by D.C. police says.

“At approximately 8:20 p.m., members of the Third District heard the sounds of gunshots and responded to the listed location,” the statement says. “Upon arrival, members located two adult male victims, both conscious and breathing, suffering from gunshot wounds,” according to the statement. “DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and transported the victims to area hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.”

The shooting incident took place at a time when many city residents and police were on edge following the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old girl on July 16 in Southeast D.C. and the firing of gunshots last Saturday outside Washington Nationals Stadium during a game, which prompted people inside the stadium, who heard the gunshots, to duck for cover.

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who was accompanied by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at a news conference at the scene of the shooting on Thursday night, said investigators believe one of the two men wounded by the gunfire was a target of the shooting. Contee said police believe the second victim was hit in the crossfire.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can as an entire system here in the District of Columbia to hold offenders accountable when these things happen in our community,” Contee said. “This is unacceptable. That’s the bottom line. It is totally unacceptable behavior,” he said.

“I’m asking the community to take a look at these videos,” he told reporters at the press conference. “If you know the person or the vehicle or somebody who is in that – there is one individual with a very distinctive hoody that he was wearing – please look at that very closely,” he said. “We’re asking for the community’s help.”

When asked by a reporter to comment on expressions of outrage by members of the community over the widespread outbreak of gun violence in the city, Bowser said she shares that concern.

“Well, I’m outraged. The chief is outraged. And the community should be outraged,” the mayor said. “What we saw tonight and unfortunately what we saw over the last several days is an illegal firearm brazenly used on D.C. streets,” Bowser said.

“And we know that our investigators and detectives are going to track down every lead. Our citizens have already been helpful in supplying leads and video and anything else that they saw so that we can get these individuals off the street and hold them accountable,” the mayor said.

Witnesses have said the Thursday night shooting on 14th Street reportedly occurred at the intersection of Riggs Street outside the Mexicue Restaurant, which is located at 1720 14th Street, N.W. The Blade office is located just a few doors down and Whitman-Walker’s Elizabeth Taylor building is a short distance away across the street at 14th and R Street, N.W.

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Senate confirms lesbian, trans nominees to high-profile defense roles

Skelly is second out transgender appointee to obtain confirmation



The U.S. Senate confirmed on Tuesday two Biden nominees — one lesbian, another transgender — for high-profile positions at the Defense Department by unanimous consent.

Gina Ortiz Jones, a lesbian former Air Force pilot and Texas congressional candidate, was confirmed as under secretary of the Air Force, and Shawn Skelly, a transgender 20-year U.S. Navy veteran and a defense appointee in the Obama administration, was confirmed as assistant secretary of defense for readiness.

For the second time in U.S. history, the Senate has confirmed an openly transgender person as a presidential appointee — and did so without controversy by unanimous consent.

Just months ago, Rachel Levine was confirmed as assistant secretary of health on a party-line basis after enduring rude, invasive questioning from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during her confirmation hearing on transgender health care.

Jones has also made an achievement through Senate approval: She’s the first out lesbian to win confirmation to serve in a high-level defense position.

The Senate confirmation of the nominees by unanimous consent is consistent with their confirmation hearing, which both Jones and Skelly breezed through without hostility.

Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, pointed out in a statement the two newly confirmed presidential appointees both served in the U.S. military under bans against LGBTQ people in the armed forces.

“Gina and Shawn served their country when living openly could result in discharge and a lost career, so their ascension to key leadership positions is a powerful moment for those servicemembers who served or continue to serve in silence,” Parker said. “Their confirmation will transform perceptions of LGBTQ people within the ranks of the U.S. military, but also among the leaders of militaries we work with around the world.”

Another out LGBTQ person nominated by Biden for a high-profile defense role is Brenda Sue Fulton, whom Biden nominated to become assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs. Her nomination, however, has not even had a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee. It’s unclear why her nomination hasn’t moved forward.

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