All Articles Tagged "gay marriage"

Federal Benefits Are Now Officially Extended To Same-Sex Couples

July 10th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Getty Images

The wall that once blocked same sex couples from obtaining federal marriage benefits is now obliterated.

After a long-fought battle, same sex couples finally won the right to marry in a Supreme Court ruling that changed America. The high court declared that no state can deny marriage rights to gay Americans on June 26 in a 5-4 decision.

“…Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch added a cherry on top of this historic moment by revealing that same sex couples will gain federal marriage benefits.

“Thanks to [Justice Department staff’s] leadership and the quick work of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, today I am proud to announce that the critical programs for veterans and elderly and disabled Americans, which previously could not give effect to the marriages of couples living in states that did not recognize those marriages, will now provide federal recognition for all marriages nationwide,” Lynch said on Thursday.

These newly accessible federal marriage benefits include spousal survivor benefits, lump sum death benefits, programs for gay and lesbian service members, receiving health insurance through a spouse’s employer, obtaining immigration benefits for non-citizen spouses and much more.

Looking at it from a business standpoint, according to Houston Chronicle, employers are itching to drop their domestic partnership benefits, a perk designed “for employees to obtain health insurance and other benefits for their same-sex partners.” Now that everyone can get legally marry, companies are questioning whether they need to continue the program.

It’s a lot easier to run one benefit for everyone rather than two separate programs.

Jesse Gelsomini, an employment lawyer at Houston-based Haynes and Boone, predicts that when employers start dropping their domestic partnership programs — which benefits both heterosexual and homosexual unmarried couples — more people will be walking down the aisle. “They may not want to be married, but to keep the benefits they’ll have to get married,” he said.

In the end, Gelsomini thumbs up the ruling since it “levels the playing field.”

“Employers will no longer have to ask where the employee got married or where they’re living now to determine if the marriage is legally recognized,” Houston Chronicle said.

h/t Time

My Issue With Rev. Bill Owens, And His Call For “Civil Disobedience” Against Gay Marriage Ruling

July 10th, 2015 - By Cynthia L. Dorsey
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The recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges has sent many Christian leaders and groups into an uproar. The ruling mandates that all 50 states of these United States of America are now lawfully required to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Some leaders, including Rev. Bill Owens, president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, are calling for Christians to participate in a “civil disobedience” against the ruling. Rev. Owens speaks proudly of his past participation in the civil rights movement, including protesting through sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in the 1960s. Owens believes the zeal that Blacks displayed to obtain the right to vote, eat at any restaurant, drink from any water fountain, be educated at any school, and to dismantle Jim Crow laws and all laws that kept Blacks institutionally, religiously, and racially oppressed and denigrated by Whites during that time, is the same zeal Black Christians should have when protesting against the legalization of gay marriage.

As a Black Christian heterosexual woman, there are many things I want to say to Rev. Owens. I want to protest the common unfair practices against women right in our own churches, but that’s another column for another day. However, what I will say to Rev. Owens is that the gift that has been afforded to all Christians is that we recognize and believe in the life and works of Jesus Christ. During His life, Christ walked and talked with beggars, thieves, and murderers. He healed the lame and the sick and performed miracles for those whom people turned their backs on. Our goal, as Christian men and women, is to aim to live our lives as Christ did. Christianity does not make a person exempt from homosexuality. Furthermore, it is beyond oxymoronic for one oppressed group of people to perpetuate the oppression of another group of people. It is certainly not Christlike. Just as Blacks have been discriminated against and oppressed for decades, the LGBTQ community has faced a great deal of cruelty. The legalization of gay marriage gives gays and lesbians a right that was once denied to them, just as Blacks were denied our fundamental human rights (and often still are) for quite some time. And need I mention that there are many Black Christians who are homosexual in congregations throughout the world?

The misuse of scripture has sought to legitimize slavery, justify hangings and killings by hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, and it is frequently a tactic in the gay marriage debate. The Bible is a sacred book of stories, lessons, advice, and instructions that everyone can benefit from reading. We Christians use it to guide our religion and our lives. Unfortunately, people often misuse the Bible and its teachings to promote and justify their agendas. One story frequently referenced in the gay marriage debate is the story of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis chapters 18 and 19. Homosexuality is often deemed the sin that caused God to “rain down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus He overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.” The men of the city were out of control and demanded sex with two angels disguised as men who were visiting Lot’s house. The Sodomites and Gomorrahites had the aura of entitlement that we later learn in Ezekiel 16:49-50, was, in fact, the real reason for God’s wrath against Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities.

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me…

But in case you missed the memo, homosexual men and women today aren’t seeking to gang rape random men and women. They just want to be legally married to the one they love.

Another common scripture that is used against the sanction of gays and gay marriage is taken from the Unlawful Sexual Relations portion of the 18th chapter of Leviticus. But the focus is usually put only on verse 22, which states “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” In the King James Version, it is considered an “abomination.” But then again, this law is found among 22 others, including “Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period,” “Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father,” and “No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations.” These laws were put into place because everybody was sleeping with everybody.

What I’m trying to say is that as Christians, we believe Jesus came and died so that our sins might be forgiven. Homosexuality is no greater a sin than premarital sex. However, it is not our job to take on, identify, and judge the sins of others because we all sin. Don’t let the arrogance and entitlement that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah destroy you. In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest in the law.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We have been commanded to act in love, and that is what we should do. That is why love will always win.

Supreme Court Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

June 26th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

Today, the Supreme Court ruled that every state in the country is now required to license and recognize same-sex marriages. Marriage equality is now officially the law of the land.

The court was charged with the task of answering two questions: “Does the 14th Amendment require states to license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and does that same amendment require a state to recognize legally valid same-sex marriages performed elsewhere?”

They answered yes to both questions, granting same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states.

Interestingly enough, the 14th Amendment, the one which this historic decision hinged upon, was originally adopted to ensure to come to the aid of another minority group in this country: African Americans.

As you may know, the 13, 14, and 15th Amendments are known as the Reconstruction Amendments, meant to ensure the former slaves would be granted the same rights and privileges of citizenship as Whites. And since marriage is the civil right of every American citizen, a person cannot be denied the right to marry based on a same-sex union. 

The way the media frames and spins things, you would think everyone in the Black community opposes same sex marriage. We’re not the only ones. There are people all over the world who struggle with the idea.  Still, I won’t pretend that Black folks, with some of our strong Christian backgrounds, haven’t been some of the loudest dissenters. Which is why I find it beautifully poetic that the very same amendment that was used to help us obtain the fullness of our freedom is being appropriately applied here to help those who simply want their love to be recognized and affirmed by their country’s government.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the majority 5-4 decision.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Beautifully stated.

Remember this day ladies and gentlemen, it’s a historic one for our country and for human rights.

Poll Reveals People Believe Businesses Should Deny Gay Couples For Religious Reasons

February 5th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Angry/upset business co worker making a threat

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From The Grio 

While finding that Americans narrowly favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, a new Associated Press-GfK poll also shows most believe wedding-related businesses should be allowed to deny service to same-sex couples for religious reasons.

Roughly half the country also thinks local officials and judges with religious objections ought to be exempt from any requirement that they issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, according to the poll.

That view of the same-sex marriage issue echoes that of the Mormon church. Last week, the church called on state legislatures to pass new laws that protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination but also to protect the rights of those who assert their religious beliefs.

David Kenney, a self-employed Catholic from Novi, Michigan, said he’s fine with same-sex marriage being legal. He’s among the 57 percent of Americans who said wedding-related businesses — such as florists — should be allowed to refuse service if they have an objection rooted in their religion.

“Why make an issue out of one florist when there are probably thousands of florists?” asked Kenney, 59. “The gay community wants people to understand their position, but at the same time, they don’t want to understand other people’s religious convictions. It’s a two-way street.”

Kenney isn’t alone. About a quarter of those who favor legal same-sex marriage also favor religious exemptions for those who issue marriage licenses, the poll finds, and a third say wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service.

Read more about this poll at TheGrio.com 

‘We’re Not Against That At All:’ Stacey Dash Says Republicans Support Gay Marriage

June 17th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Stacey Dash just loves talking politics. TMZ recently caught up with the “Clueless” star and she spoke on behalf of Republicans in regard to same-sex marriage. According to Stacey, Republicans are definitely in favor of gay marriage.

“We are for equal marriage,” the 47-year-old actress said. “We’re not against that. We’re not against that at all. We believe everyone should have the same rights.”

Stacey went on to say that she doesn’t get why folks believe that the GOP are against same-sex marriage in the first place.

“That’s just propaganda, that’s not true. That’s just a certain amount of people. You can’t just throw a blanket over everyone because certain people have one opinion.”

Though most naturally roll their eyes when Stacey opens her mouth to discuss politics, we’d have to agree with what she says about making generalizations about everyone in a particular party. However, at the same time, it’s important to note that the official stance of the Republican party on same-sex marriage is that they’re against it. Not to mention that the party’s national platform calls for a ban against it.

As you may recall, last month it was announced that the controversial star would be joining the FOX News team as a regular contributor.

“Stacey is an engaging conversationalist whose distinctive viewpoints amongst her Hollywood peers have spawned national debates,” said Bill Shine, Executive Vice President of Programming, in a statement. – See more at: “We’re pleased to have her join Fox News.”

This should be interesting.

 

Black Clergymen Threaten Illinois Lawmakers Who Are Poised to Legalize Gay Marriage

November 11th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Celebrating gay marriage in Illinois. via Getty Images

Celebrating gay marriage in Illinois. via Getty Images

Legalizing gay marriage seems to be picking up momentum in America — but not without a few bumps in the road. Illinois is on its way to being the 15th state to allow marriage equality with Gov. Pat Quinn saying he will sign into SB10 into law on November 20 at 3:30pm now that it has passed the state’s legislators. But African-American pastors in the state  just won’t let it happen without a fight, CBS Chicago reports.

Last Tuesday, the Illinois House of Representatives narrowly passed the bill to legalize same-sex marriage with a 61-to-54 vote. An hour later, the state Senate followed suit with a 32-to-29 vote in favor of marriage equality. “Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history,” Gov. Quinn said.

According to the Washington Post, President Obama was pleased with Illinois’ push for same-sex marriage: “As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” he said in a statement. 

Black clergymembers, however, are threatening Illinois legislative leaders to put a stop to the passage of this law. And they aren’t too impressed with Obama’s statement.

“We love him,” said Bishop Larry Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago. “We want him to be a great president. But on this issue we differ. It’s unfortunate that he is our hero, he is a hometown boy, but I think he needs to understand that when he speaks for this he’s not speaking for the majority of people.” Bishop Trotter, who has 10,000 members in his congregation, and Bishop Lance Davis of New Zion Covenant Church, who has 500 members, are promising that “there will be consequences for those lawmakers who support same sex marriage,” CBS Chicago notes.

“What we’re here to do is not only protect the sanctity of the Word of God, but to also tell our legislative leaders that they can’t take the role of God,” Davis said.

“I think that they will feel the crunch. I think that they cannot take for granted that they can come to the church; and get the church’s sanction, and votes, and signatures; and then go to Springfield, and don’t speak what the people want them to speak. And so now, if that’s how we have to be heard, we will be heard,” Trotter said.

Davis and Trotter, who are backed by 100 other African-American clergymen, noted that if the lawmakers do not carry out the wishes of the people, then re-election will be quite challenging for the supporters of gay marriage.

Should Gov. Quinn sign the bill, same-sex couples will be allowed to marry by June 1.

How the DOMA Ruling Affects Children

July 1st, 2013 - By Rich
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Last week, the Supreme Court made a historic decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), giving same-sex couples access to the same federal benefits as straight couples. It’s being called a big victory for adults, but it also has far-reaching consequences for the children of gay couples.

A statement from the American Association of Pediatrics identifies the changes as first and foremost an important emotional boost. “The American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated that civil marriage for same-gender couples is the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children. If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so. Stable relationships with caring adults are important for children, and so are financial security, social support and access to health care” In delivering the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said children would perhaps be the biggest beneficiaries of the changes. “[DOMA] humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.”

But how will the new federal benefits actually help children? First and foremost, both parents in a same-sex union can claim children on their income taxes. According to USA Today,

“…most married lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers pay more in income taxes than they would if allowed to file as “married, filing jointly,” especially for spouses with very different incomes. For example, a working parent with a taxable income of $60,000 a year and a stay-at-home spouse with no income would pay $2,900 more as individuals than filing as a couple.”

With more money a family’s pocket, children can have more of their needs met.

The new ruling also makes it easier for both parents to chip in with caring for a sick child or spouse. Though the federal government already includes gay couples (or anyone “acting as a parent”) in the Family and Medical Leave Act, in states where gay couples aren’t allowed to adopt children, a spouse can now care for a child that doesn’t legally belong to him.

Same-sex military families will receive important benefits, too. If a couple married in one of the states or Washington, D.C. that have legalized gay marriage, they maintain their rights if they’re moved to a base in a state that doesn’t allow gay marriage. Health coverage and other benefits will be extended to military spouses and their children. Unfortunately, the same will not hold true for the VA. That agency makes its decisions based on a couple’s state of residency rather than where they were married.

Binational families can breathe more easily as well. With DOMA overturned, a same-sex partner from another country can now stay in the U.S.  While there’s much the rulings haven’t changed, children are already being called the biggest beneficiaries of DOMA’s demise.

A Gay Dad on the Meaning of Pride Month

June 19th, 2013 - By Rich
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Bryan Leffew is the proud father of the boy who read a touching letter to Chief Justice Roberts on YouTube, asking for marriage equality. In honor of Pride Month, we asked Bryan to share his thoughts on being a father who also happens to be gay.

 

Many of our attitudes and perspectives on life make a big change once we become parents. Suddenly we are in charge of protecting this little soul and everything in our lives becomes seen through that lens of protectiveness. For instance, we may drive a little more carefully, we pay more attention to nutrition and health, and find ourselves saying things we only ever heard our parents say. It’s a subtle transformation that takes place in us as parents without us even noticing it.

Someone recently asked me what Gay Pride Month means to me now as a parent. It was a complicated question to ponder because, as a gay father,  my parental self saw it first through the eyes of protectiveness. From time to time my husband and I  have taken our family to see the parade in San Francisco. We have even marched in a few. It’s been as much a part of our summers as backyard BBQs, tank tops, and  swim lessons. Pride has been a positive and fun event not only for our family, but for thousands of others who fill the streets of San Francisco and make finding a bathroom for my 8-year-old daughter nearly impossible. Questions of safety and helping them understand the event in an age-appropriate way were all challenges we had tackled in our first years together as a family and so I felt my parental concerns had been satisfied long ago.

But there was another aspect to the question of a parent’s view of Pride  that I hadn’t thought about. I was only considering the meaning of Pride from a parent’s point of view  of logistics, protectiveness, and teachable moments and I had ignored the gay part of me for whom Pride had so much meaning. Being both  gay and a dad imparted Pride month with so much more meaning that I had not recognized.

As a young twentysomething, I barely had two toes out of the closet when I went to my first Pride parade. I remember that I had felt a mixture of fear, awe, and wonder and I was exploring this new world, fearful that my parents would somehow catch me on the news and so would end my new life as a gay man. Growing up in a homophobic family, I heard nothing but terrible things about gay people (and by extension, myself). Being in San Francisco at that parade helped me unlearn all I had been taught and gave me a place to not feel like the only gay person on earth. Here, everyone came together in celebration and I learned that being a gay person was not a curse but a wonderful gift.

It was also the first time I had seen the hundreds of same-sex families that I have affectionately come to call the stroller brigade marching by the hundreds with their children and sometimes their supportive parents. It opened my mind to the fact that I didn’t have to give up my hopes of someday meeting a man I would love and starting a family. I had been told those things would not happen for me if I came out. It was a dream I had to let go of and grieve for, or so I thought then.

Here I am twenty-something years later, a husband and a father to two wonderful kids. Not that it was easy; there were many bumps a long the way. As I write this we are anxiously waiting to hear if the Supreme Court will render Prop 8 finally dead. It has been a long battle to see this day. As I consider what Pride meant to that young man, it dawns on me how much I have been through for the privilege of  being able to realize the dreams I once thought I had to let go of. In light of that, Pride is even more of a celebration. Once that celebration was just in finding the courage to accept myself as a gay man worthy of respect and dignity. Now it is also the acknowledgement of all we have come through to be standing at this remarkable point in time. And as always, Pride is still a window into our lives as LGBT people that the world still sorely needs. I know, both as a gay man, a husband, and a parent that we still have further to go before we no longer have to fight for our full legal rights.

I have come to realize that the meaning of Pride month for me as a gay person has been enriched by the experience of being a parent, a job I treasure every day. It makes me hopeful that I will again have more to celebrate in the next 20 years. And who knows; maybe I’ll be a grandpa? I can only hope.

Bryan Leffew is a stay-at-home dad and blogger who, along with his husband and two children, are a part of the Gay Family Values channel on YouTube. As a family they attempt to show their day to day lives in the hopes dispelling the myths and misconceptions about LGBT families and the importance of marriage equality.

Quiet As It’s Kept, ‘Gay Is The New Black,’ State Experts In Documentary

June 12th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Source: 'The New Black' Documentary

Source: ‘The New Black’ Documentary

 

From BlackVoices 

While nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that legal recognition of gay marriage is inevitable and an increasing number of states are proving their belief to be true, a new documentary is telling a different story about support for same-sex marriage in the U.S.

Produced by award-winning filmmaker and journalist Yoruba Richen, “The New Black” takes viewers into the pews and onto the streets and provides a seat at the kitchen table as it tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland and charts the evolution of this divisive issue within the black community, the film’s website explains.

According to Richen, the documentary, a follow-up to previous works that includes “Promised Land” and “Take It From Me,” is fraught with politics and personal stories on both sides of the same-sex marriage campaign. And at the core of it, the black church’s homophobic tendencies, she says.

“The reality is that the African-American community and the black church is diverse and opinions on this issue have reflected that,” Richen told POLITICO. “There were some black public figures who took stances very early on in support of gay rights — look at Jesse Jackson’s rainbow coalition in the 80’s — while others spoke out against it. Also in terms of polling, African-American support (like other groups) has varied depending how you phrase the question and the religiosity of the respondents.”

In one such poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center earlier this month, 66 percent of African Americans said that they believe being gay is a choice, a lifestyle that gay men and women decide to lead.

The poll also revealed that fewer Americans would be upset if their son or daughter were gay or lesbian, and that more people favor gay and lesbian couples raising children, findings that Pew attributes to the fact that most Americans now say that they know someone who is gay or lesbian. As Pew noted, “even holding demographic factors constant, those who have many gay acquaintances, or close gay friends and family members, are more likely to favor same-sex marriage than those who do not.”

Read and see more at BlackVoices.com 

Are Kids of Gay Parents Happier?

June 5th, 2013 - By Rich
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Just as Pride Month begins here in the United States, a small-scale study from Australia suggests the children of gay parents may be happier than their counterparts raised by straight parents.

The research from the University of Melbourne created a program called the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families. Researchers assessed the well-being of 500 children, evaluating their self-esteem, health, and happiness. There was no indication that there was a connection between sexuality and the amount of time parents and children spent together. While the children of same-sex parents had the same self-esteem levels as children raised by straight parents in the study, what researchers found about their emotional state and health was shocking. According to the Huffinton Post, “Children of same-sex couples scored higher for overall health and family cohesion, so overwhelmingly in fact, that researchers said it would only occur by chance less than 1 in 10,000 times.”

So why the discrepancy? It seems that families that have to face tough issues together, like the questions about their family makeup or possible bullying, they become closer. The communication required brings families closer. “This fosters openness and means children tend to be more resilient,” said the study’s lead author. “That would be our hypothesis.”

This research flies directly in the face of recent claims made by an Australian politician that gay marriage harms children.