In a wide-ranging interview with LGBT journalists and bloggers Thursday, White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said President Barack Obama had chosen to take steps at the agency level to eliminate inequities for same-sex couples and gave no indication he would move toward supporting full marriage equality.
Asked if the president would go beyond incremental fixes to address a lack of marital rights for same-sex couples before 2012, Barnes noted that the president "has consistently called for the repeal of [the Defense of Marriage Act]" and used his "executive authority" to help provide more benefits to same-sex couples through federal agencies.
"That's the course that he has identified, that's the course that he has supported," Barnes said.
An SF MTA meeting held last night at the Eureka Valley Community Center drew about twenty or so nearby residents, mostly bikers themselves judging from the content of the Q&A, who came to hear the details of a plan to expand accommodations for bicyclists on Market between 17th and Octavia.
The need for increasing bike lane availability was stressed throughout the evening via Power Point graphics displaying some eye opening statistics: A 54% increase in bicycle ridership between 2006-2009 (a huge, somewhat dubious sounding increase come to think of it), and a mere 6% of SF streets currently able to accommodate these bikers. Given this state of affairs, the MTA's expressed goal - to have continuous bike lanes on both sides of Market between 17th and Octavia - is actually rather humble.
San Francisco's LGBT Pride Parade and celebration has come a long way. That much was obvious as hundreds of thousands of people gathered last weekend for the 40th annual event.
"It seemed like people were having a great time," said Amy Andre, executive director of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee.
She said Pride officials don't have an official crowd estimate, but from what people told her, this year's attendance seemed up even from last year, when there was an estimate of at least a million people. San Francisco police typically do not provide crowd estimates.
The Dignity for All Students Act, which would protect LGBT students from bullying and harassment in schools, passed the New York state senate Tuesday evening after years of effort. Governor David Paterson is expected to sign the bill into law, which would mark the first time gender identity and expression are included in state law.
Senators approved DASA by a bipartisan vote of 58-3 late Tuesday night after some 90 minutes of speeches. All three no votes came from Republicans.
The assembly passed the bill in May for the ninth time since 2002.
The Obama administration unveiled a plan Tuesday that is intended to end chronic homelessness by 2015 and homelessness among families, youth, and children by 2020 — and LGBT youth are one of the target populations being included in the initiative.
"On any given night in America more than 640,000 men, women, and children are without housing," said Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. "While some are scarred by war, others are families who have recently lost their home; still, others are youth aging out of foster care or are perhaps unable to stay with families [that are] hostile to their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Gareth Thomas — one of the top scorers in the history of rugby and one of the most successful athletes in Wales — tells HBO's Real Sports in an episode airing Tuesday night that he would go to church regularly to pray that one day he would turn straight.
Thomas is the only out gay male athlete playing in professional sports.
"You gotta be strong, you gotta be muscle, and you know, you gotta be straight," he tells reporter Bernard Goldberg about the sport of rugby. He says he used his built-up anger and frustration over the years against his opponents on the field prior to coming out. He also talks about his constant battle with establishing his masculinity in the press, in the locker room, and to himself.
The 40th annual celebration, "Forty and Fabulous," features music, dancing, Faerie Freedom Village and more on more than 20 stages and venues. Celebration: noon to 6 p.m. Sat. and noon to 7 p.m. next Sun. Civic Center Plaza. Parade: 10:30 a.m. at Market and Beale streets to Market and Eighth streets. Free. www.sfpride.org.
Dyke March 2010
The traditional kickoff to Gay Pride Weekend features world music DJs from noon to 3 p.m.; speakers and performances from 3 to 7 p.m.; march begins at 7 p.m. $5-$10 suggested donation. Dolores Park, 18th and Dolores streets, San Francisco. (510) 533-5489. thedykemarch.org.
LGBT advocacy group, Equality California (EQCA) released a statement Wednesday praising the new IRS policy granting greater tax equity to same-sex couples.
The new policy calls for federal recognition of California's property rights for committed same-sex couples first introduced under the Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, which EQCA sponsored.
The legislation mandates that couples in registered domestic partnerships "combine their incomes and report half on their individual tax returns."
Couples will also be given the opportunity to amend past returns - a measure that could grant refunds to thousands of Californians who have paid discriminatory taxes in the past.
"We welcome news of this policy change that will result in significant savings for many same-sex couples, which is especially important at a time when many are struggling in a brutal economy," said Geoff Kors, Equality California's Executive Director.
While the organization commended the new policy, Kors noted that there is still more to be done.
The nation of Iceland, which is the only country with an openly gay prime minister, voted unanimously on Friday to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Althingi parliament voted 49-0 to change the wording of its marriage legislation to include same-sex couples.
Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland, told Reuters that the country is fairly pragmatic, and that the international press made a bigger deal out of the sexual orientation of lesbian Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir than the domestic news outlets.
Openly LGBT candidates made gains in primary elections across the country Tuesday, with wins in states including California, Montana, and Maine.
According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which supports out candidates, "Openly LGBT candidates won political races literally from coast to coast last night, with key wins in California, Montana and Maine. At least 16 of the Victory Fund’s 21 endorsed candidates on the ballot yesterday either won their races outright or advanced to general elections."
Winners include gay Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet (pictured, right), a Democrat, who will face Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, the widow of the late congressman Sonny Bono.