11/4新聞

大選端牛肉》同志團體向馬、蔡、宋喊話 要婚姻、伴侶權

 王鼎鈞

2011年11月2日 10:40

記者王鼎鈞/台北報導

法務部日前表示,將研擬同性戀婚姻可行性,而民進黨總統參選人蔡英文也提出「伴侶權」的立法主張,民間組織「台灣伴侶權益推動聯盟」更發表了《伴侶制度草案》,朝野、民間在總統大選打得火熱之際比拚牛肉,是否會跟「廢死刑」一樣,因未獲「社會共識」而告終。

同志諮詢熱線協會秘書長彭治鏐表示,蔡英文能提出這樣的主張是一個好的開始,民間團體也結盟提出了草案,接下來將舉辦公聽會,廣徵社會各界意見。他批評,觀察這十幾年來,我國執政當局的腳步,還停留在拿國外經驗做研究的階段,顯然無心。

彭治鏐要求兩黨候選人,端出具體的政策內容,他特別提到,在2008年大選時,兩黨總統候選人也回應了同志婚姻議題,但都回答事關「社會共識」。他認為,人權議題不該用社會共識看待,否則像身心障礙者、愛滋病患這些少數群的權利誰來顧?

他說,同志在這塊土地上,跟大家盡一樣的義務,跟夫妻一模一樣,也都繳稅;共同生活在這塊土地,為社會付出,身為同志、身為台灣的公民跟國民,應該享有一樣的權利。台灣作為一個民主社會開放多元、人權立法的國家,不該忽視。

宗教團體必反?NO!
在宗教團體的立場上,也不是全然反對。關顧同志信仰與服務同志的基督信仰團體「同光教會」幹事小恩表示,很多人對於非異性戀伴侶權益的漠視甚至反對,來自於宗教理由,特別是基督教。但以客觀觀察或神學研究來看聖經記載或千百年的歷史紀錄可以發現,基督教在本質上其實是個照顧弱勢的信仰與宗教。除了從《聖經》新約舊約裡對於孤兒寡婦的照顧與保障得見一二外,整本聖經也記載著上主對於苦難與需要的顧念。
而且,這些紀錄對於早期的信仰群體(以色列民族)來說,更不只是信仰、信念,甚至是白紙黑字的法律條文。基督宗教的核心是愛,在愛裡我們願意傾聽、了解、看見需要;在愛裡,因為認識,所以不會排斥與歧視;在愛裡我們擁抱每個人,把指摘他人為罪人的權力交還給上主。


法鼓山創辦人聖嚴法師在世時,他在回答同性戀家長的提問時就曾說:「告訴另外兩個孩子,對大哥的同性戀,要接受它、面對它;再者,大兒子和男朋友都有工作了,何不請他們出去自組小家庭呢?讓妳不會那麼不安和不便。」
聖嚴法師還說,「同性戀者不快樂,是因為自己習性和一般人不同,格格不入;如果大家不以為他們是異類,那也就沒有什麼問題。當孩子告訴你,他是同性戀,做父母的只有接受。」一般人印象,
小恩強調,相愛、願意一起扶持、生活的伴侶(夥伴),不只是同志而已,更包含許多無法或不想進入婚姻的族群,但是這些人在既有的法律中,完全不被認可,完全沒有保障。一個看見老百姓需要的國家,應該要不惜成本與代價,用法律條文來維護與表達(甚至教育)這個國家對弱勢的重視和保護。而在立法過程裡所需對大眾的教育、溝通與協調,更是當局政府應當一肩扛起的,而不該只稱說「等待社會共識」。
小恩也鼓勵LGBT族群(女、男同性戀者、雙性戀者、跨性別者)勇於展現自己,從較沒有利害關係的人開始,例如選購飾品時,售貨員詢問要買送給誰的,可以勇敢地說出來。小恩更呼籲,LGBT佔人口10%,這些人可能是我們的同事、家人或朋友,唯有大家營造一個友善空間,他們才不用隱藏身分,例如,遇到適婚年齡的人,不要問人家結婚沒,而是問「有沒有喜歡的人」。
社團結盟促修法 發表《伴侶制度草案》

由同光同志長老教會、台灣同志諮詢熱線協會、台灣女同志拉拉手協會、台灣同志家庭權益促進會、婦女新知基金會等民間團體結盟,成立「台灣伴侶權益推動聯盟(伴侶盟)」,他們在研擬兩年後、推出了《民法》「伴侶制度」修正草案,以具體行動證明國家行政、立法部門的怠惰,要讓台灣朝亞洲第一個承認所有公民均享有自由、平等成家權利的國家邁進。

以下為伴侶盟的說明:

在台灣社會高不婚比例、高離婚率、少子化的表象下,台灣人民正進行一場寧靜的成家革命。台灣政府顯然搞錯了問題,台灣人民沒有不要成家—只是得在缺乏任何法律保障的情況下自力救濟!自民國75年祈家威偕男友欲辦理公證結婚被拒,迄今25年來,國內至少已有上百對同志伴侶公開完成「結婚」儀式。然而,建國百年之際,同志成家的實質權益未曾往前邁進半步!粗估台灣同志人口至少佔總人口的十分之一,始終不肯正視多元成家實踐早已成為「台灣民情」一部份的官員、專家諸公們,一再地以「考量本國民情」、「社會共識」、「研議先進國家法律」、「立法技術層面牽涉過廣」等空言作為搪塞、延宕非異性戀伴侶爭取法律保障需求的藉口。

人權保障基本法草案沈睡10年,總統府人權委員會研擬的國家人權報告迄今未展現其捍衛人權的決心,然而台灣人民的成家權利豈容國家行政及立法怠惰再錯過下一個25年?

這部台灣史上第一個由民間自主起草的「伴侶制度」回應了現行婚姻制度所無法滿足的多元成家需求。伴侶制度不僅爭取同性伴侶的平等成家權,也提供不願進入婚姻制度的異性戀伴侶務實的法律保障。伴侶制打破台灣以結婚作為解決「少子化」困境唯一方案的意識形態迷思,不再以雞肋般的政策補貼利誘異性戀夫妻生產報國,而改採尊重非婚同居/同志伴侶們合法生養的意願,以積極的法律回應公民的需求。

相對於現有婚姻契約的意識形態假設,伴侶盟的「伴侶制度」草案尊重當事人自主意願,允許當事人彈性協商權利義務,並鼓勵好聚好散的伴侶關係,讓人民根據需求,自由選擇適合的制度來成家立業。
伴侶盟同時推動伴侶制度以及同性婚姻的立法運動,其中同性婚姻的民法修正草案,預計將於2012年完成,此次伴侶盟於今年9月底推出的民法修正草案包括新增伴侶制度、修訂收養章以及“家”章的規定,以下簡述「伴侶制度」異於婚姻的幾個特別具開創性的制度面向:

一、不限性別、性傾向、並不以性關係作為締結伴侶的基礎:
無論是異性、同性情人或無分性別、願意相互扶持的朋友,都可以簽訂伴侶契約並登記 為伴侶,依法及依約享有權利、負擔義務。伴侶制破除現行婚姻限定”一男一女“的組合以及以“性、生殖、愛情”為中心的假設,承認組織家庭形式的多元可能。

二、鼓勵好聚好散的親密關係:
現行婚姻制度不允許無過失離婚,導致實務上產生許多怨偶因為分手不成,歹戲拖棚,深陷於因為離婚困難所造成的悲劇之中。與此相對,伴侶制鼓勵親密關係中的人們好聚好散、允許單方可以不附任何法定理由即終止伴侶契約,如此一來,伴侶之任何一方均不能利用關係的解消作為情感、物質或子女監護權的“合法勒索“工具。伴侶制度雖允許單方終止,但伴侶雙方對於未成年子女之扶養義務,則明定不因伴侶關係終止而受影響,以保護未成年子女之利益。

三、伴侶制正面肯定家務勞動價值,明文規範”家務勞動利益返還請求權“:
伴侶制以分別財產制為其法定財產制,除另有約定外,伴侶關係終止時,並無剩餘財產分配請求權。但比起婚姻制度對於家務勞動價值的含混處理方式,伴侶制正面、明文地規範家務勞動利益返還請求權,讓實際從事家務勞動的人,在關係終止時,有權利向他方請求家務勞動的合理報酬,以彰顯家務勞動的價值與雙方夥伴關係的公平性。

四、在財產及繼承權等事項,允許伴侶自行協議切合所需的條款:
相較於婚姻制度對於權利義務的強制性、高密度規範,伴侶契約允許伴侶自由協商,以安排最適合彼此之權利義務關係。例如一些年紀大了才找到第二春伴侶的阿公阿嬤,他們在生活中和老伴相依扶持,但不見得想要把身後財產留給這個老來伴,一方面是不需要,二方面他們希望照顧各自的子女,但如果兩人結婚,對方依法就必定成為自己的繼承人,這個心願就無法達成了。

也有一些伴侶,他們的經濟各自獨立,並不擔心自己走後對方失去經濟依靠,因此,希望把財產留給更需要被照顧的家人或朋友,甚至想捐給社會團體。就此,與婚姻制度不同的是,伴侶制度不強制規定伴侶間的繼承權,對於這些財務另有規劃的伴侶來說,本草案秉持尊重伴侶自主意願的原則,將繼承權利之有無以及繼承順位等交由雙方自主約定,讓制度更貼近不同人的生命需求。

此外,與婚姻相仿的是,伴侶制亦允許同志伴侶共同收養子女或收養他方子女的權利,且在收養章增設收養事件的反歧視條款,禁止法院以收養人之性傾向、性別認同或性別氣質為由,拒絕認可收養,以落實同志平等成家權利。

本草案並修改「家」章規定,廢除傳統父家長思維下的家的概念,肯認平等、不以親屬關係為必要、自主選擇的多人家屬關係以回應多人成家的需求。透過伴侶與多人家屬制度的立法,我們將擴大肯認親屬與家屬在我國法制上的身分關係基礎,有了這個基礎,其他法領域將得依此進一步配套修法,完整地回復多元家庭成員過去長久以來被剝奪的權利,包括緊急醫療同意權、社會福利受益權以及稅法上的權利等等。

原文網址: 大選端牛肉》同志團體向馬、蔡、宋喊話 要婚姻、伴侶權 (第4頁/共4頁)| 頭條新聞 | NOWnews 今日新聞網 http://www.nownews.com/2011/11/02/91-2753626_3.htm#ixzz1cjBZTngm

選前不知愛的是她…女議員出櫃

【史托克頓訊】

November 03, 2011 09:00 AM | 3282 次 | 0  | 5  |  |

加州中央山谷地區選出的州眾議員蓋吉亞妮(Cathleen Galgiani)揭露自己同性戀身分,成為加州第八位公開出櫃的議員。

民主黨籍的蓋吉亞妮1日接受訪問時出櫃。她說,此舉是希望給受自己性向困擾的年輕人一個正面的訊息。她在受訪中表示,一些年輕人只因天生如此而輕賤自己的生命,令她十分難過。

47歲的蓋吉亞妮說,2006年她當選州議員之前並不知道自己是同性戀。她是第二位當選後出櫃的州議員。

前州參議員艾西本 (Roy Ashburn)因在州政府附近的同志吧喝酒後駕車被逮捕,而在2010年出櫃。共和黨籍的艾西本之後在州參議會極力爭取同志權益。

主張興建高速鐵路的蓋吉亞妮說,她沒有長期性伴侶,但「好像已嫁給鐵路」。此外在她任期屆滿時她會回到士德頓 (Stockton)的家鄉競選下屆州參議員。

http://www.worldjournal.com/view/full_news/16269062/article-%E9%81%B8%E5%89%8D%E4%B8%8D%E7%9F%A5%E6%84%9B%E7%9A%84%E6%98%AF%E5%A5%B9%E2%80%A6%E5%A5%B3%E8%AD%B0%E5%93%A1%E5%87%BA%E6%AB%83-?instance=instant

台中一中商圈 阻同志進駐

社區列不歡迎 同志團體擬遊行抗議

2011年 10月28日

【朱俊彥╱台中報導】位在台中一中商圈的同志健康文化中心「彩虹天堂」,年底面臨搬遷他處的命運。一中西門町管理委員會的社區公約,將「同性戀」列為不受歡迎店家,要求房東不得與該中心續約。但有店家表示,該中心並沒有影響商家行為,甚至還可以吸引各種消費族群,有助提振商機。對於社區的性別歧視,同志團體表示,將在十二月十七日發動遊行抗議。

「彩虹天堂」發言人劉信詮表示,去年年初該中心以月租三萬租下一中西門町商圈二十多坪店面,致力於中部地區多元性傾向健康文化營造及交流平台,今年還獲行政院衛生署疾病管制局頒發「防疫獎勵團體獎」。
劉信詮說,房東幾天前拿著社區管委會的會議紀錄及公約向他表示,因公約規定該商圈不歡迎「同性戀團體」等八種行業團體進駐,也要求他不得再與該中心續約。 

市府提供搬遷點

房東還轉述一名管委指著他的鼻子說,「你沒發現他們都是男生嗎?」、「你知道他們都在你房子裡做什麼?」、「那是一種骯髒病吶!」劉信詮說,「心中的感覺就像是闖進別人的家,這個世界沒有屬於我們的生活空間,一點點的呼吸聲都只能關起門來,彷彿只有角落才是我們生存的地方!」市府曾提供幾處可搬遷的地點,但都在清水、和平、大甲等區,地點都不如現址來得理想。 

未影響其他商家

《蘋果》前往「彩虹天堂」發現,該中心像一般的交誼中心,提供民眾關於同志的諮詢服務。但不願具名的社區管理主任表示,社區公約確實如此規定,會議紀錄也決議請屋主不得再與該中心續約。
《蘋果》訪查商圈內其他店家,他們說,除了少數幾次該中心的會員在商圈打烊還在店外聊天外,但經反映後已改善,未有其他影響商家行為,不排斥同志團體進駐。 

http://tw.nextmedia.com/applenews/article/art_id/33773247/IssueID/20111028

言論自由與《反仇恨法》的對弈

[2011-11-01]

作者:文思達

加拿大最高法院最新一宗有關《反仇恨法》(Anti-hate Laws)案件,核心問題在於既保障言論自由,又得保護少數人免遭仇恨言論侵犯。事緣於2002年,反同性戀男子屈葛特(Bill Whatcott)因派發仇視性質傳單,指同志乃「龍陽君」(sodomites)及「戀童癖」(child molesters),2005年遭沙省人權仲裁委員會判罪,要向投訴人賠償17,500元名譽損失。屈氏不服上訴,強調他並非仇視同性戀者,只針對他們的行為而已。2010年沙省上訴庭推翻人權仲裁會決定,屈氏得直;人權仲裁會隨後上訴加國最高法院,此案剛審理完畢,等待宣判。
屈氏的代表律師要求高院推翻對仇恨言論的裁定,因不可能清楚界定何謂「仇恨」行為。類似以言(仇恨)入罪的官司也有先例:1980年代自稱法西斯成員的譚泰力(John Ross Tayor)在安省以電話散播仇恨訊息遭判囚,該案上訴至最高法院,1990年高院法官以4比3裁定他罪有應得,認為《反仇恨法》限制當事人仇恨言論合理,因《加拿大人權法》的言論自由並非絕對。當年持異議的大法官是麥郝蓮(Beverley McLachlin,現為加國首席大法官),當時她認為:「鼓吹種族仇恨是否必須『以言入罪』,值得商榷。」
以危害國家安全為由遣德國
另一法庭常客曾德爾(Ernst Zundel)在加國定居40多年,他拒絕承認納粹德國所做的「猶太滅族」(Holocaust),反猶觀點(anti-Semitic)也常見於他出版刊物及網頁;1992年加國最高法院推翻下級法庭對他「散播虛假消息」的判罪,認為侵犯了他獲加國憲法保障言論自由權利。2005年,這位德裔加人最終被聯邦法院以危害國家安全為由遣返德國。
從反同性戀者屈葛特案看,加國對言論自由的神聖和權威地位保障,遠不如美國。美國修訂憲法,保障3K黨和新納粹主義者(neo-Nazis)在黑人聚居地和平示威遊行自由。已故總統傑弗遜(Thomas Jefferson)說過:「我寧可自由太多而忍受所帶來的麻煩,也不願自由太少。」
目前加國《反仇恨法》模稜兩可,令人難以界定何謂冒犯(offensive)性質言論、何謂徹頭徹尾的仇恨(hateful)言語。連高院法官雷比爾(Louis LeBel) 也指出:「人權仲裁會倒不如先擔當『經文檢討會』的角色吧。」事實上,要禁絕仇恨言論,何不先從《聖經》及《可蘭經》入手?《聖經》新約《羅馬書》第1章26節指出,男女同志們「捨正路而弗由」的行為應受譴責及懲罰。支持保留目前《反仇恨法》言論審查制度的律師則認為,少數人的權益須受保護,尤其在資訊泛濫的互聯網時代,人人都有發表言論自由。
如要審查網上言論不但徒勞無功,簡直癡人說夢。當然,直接鼓吹以暴力針對某人或某類團體的說法,應予禁止,但對言論自由的發揮則可留有很大空間。
與其辯論言論自由與仇恨罪行的界線,不如仔細玩味法國思想家伏爾泰(Voltaire)名句:「雖然我不同意你的觀點,但我誓死捍衛你說話的權利。」

http://news.singtao.ca/vancouver/2011-11-01/canada1320141912d3515253.html

UK: Government grants gay civil partnerships in churches

Thursday, 3 November 2011, 19:48 (IST)

A Christian advocacy group fears for the future of religious liberty in Britain as the Government lifts the ban on same-sex civil partnership ceremonies in churches.
Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone was to confirm today that the ban will be lifted on December 5 in a move that has the full backing of Prime Minister David Cameron.
She insisted that churches would have the freedom to decide if they want to offer same-sex services.
Christian Concern said that even if the scheme was initially voluntary, churches that do not agree to offer the services are “likely to be put under huge pressure to change their policy by campaign groups”.
The organisation said it was “almost certain” that homosexual campaigners would take legal action against churches that refuse.
Chief Executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said the change could “open the door towards severe restrictions on religious liberty” and see pastors and vicars forced to undertake the ceremonies against their beliefs.
“In no way are there sufficient protections for those who object on the grounds of conscience to providing this service,” she said.
“Churches will inevitably be coerced into performing these ceremonies, and those that don’t will be vilified and sued.
“Nobody will seriously believe the Government’s assurances to the contrary, given the way in which previous assurances on civil partnerships have been shattered.”
The move comes not long after the Government confirmed it was committed to changing the legal definition of marriage to include homosexual unions.
Ms Williams said the Government was forcing the redefinition on all of society “whether they want it or not”.
“Such a redefinition will affect the whole of society profoundly, and has severe repercussions for the family,” she said.
She added: “The church at large needs to wake up very fast, or else church leaders who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman may well lose their liberty to continue acting according to that belief, and may be forced in the future to resign their positions.”

http://in.christiantoday.com/articles/uk-government-grants-gay-civil-partnerships-in-churches/6804.htm

Bill could repeal same-sex marriage

By Amelia Acosta, The Dartmouth Staff

Published on Friday, November 4, 2011

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is currently considering a bill that would replace existing same-sex marriage laws with civil unions, according to State Rep. David Bates, R-Rockingham, the bill’s sponsor. House Bill 437 — which the House will vote on in January 2012 — proposes a return to the definition of marriage as the “union between a man and a woman,” which was New Hampshire law before the state voted to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in April 2009, Bates said.

“It’s a reinstitution of civil unions, which carry no distinction in terms of rights and privileges from a marriage,” Bates said. “The previous law was applicable only to homosexuals, and this in contrast will be a contractual agreement that provides reciprocal benefits and obligations to parties that are part of the agreement. It’s open to anybody who is 18 years of age and competent to enter into a contract.”

If passed, the bill will not invalidate existing gay marriages that occurred in the state since April 2009, Bates said.

The process for proposing the legislation started almost a year ago, but was delayed due to the Republican leadership’s focus on “budgetary and economic issues,” Bates said. The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the legislation last week, and the bill will now be subject to a full House vote during the House’s next session in early January, he said.

If passed by the House, the bill will be considered by the State Senate and then the governor’s office. Gov. John Lynch, D-N.H., who signed the marriage equality act into law in 2009, will not seek re-election in 2012, so the deciding vote on the bill is currently undetermined.

Although the language and content of the new bill is almost identical to that of previous civil union legislation, the new bill includes a new clause that allows for “religious protection for conscientious objectors,” Bates said.

“The bill includes a religious liberty section that allows people to not be compelled to offer services or benefits to people in civil unions if they have a religious objection about doing so,” he said.

Bates had considered an amendment to the New Hampshire state constitution to redefine marriage, but said he suspended the proposal in light of the attention the bill is receiving.

“I made the decision not to present the amendment because the bill is well on its way to passing,” he said. “It seemed that it was most appropriate that if we are going to change the definition back, we should do it by the same process as it was changed before, in 2009.”

The bill could have wide-reaching implications for the state if passed, women and gender studies professor Michael Bronski said.

“This is a question of simple equality under the law,” Bronski said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “If there’s a marriage bill for same-sex couples, it’s outrageous and unfair not to extend it to everyone.”

One of the most immediate concerns about replacing marriage with civil unions is in the “considerable” economic, social and cultural advantages that accompany marriage, Bronski said, citing health care benefits in particular.

“I’m interested in extending the benefits that come with marriage to as wide a group as possible,” he said. “By installing marriage as the only way to get benefits for couples, ethically you run into a problem where you end up denying people access to health care.”

Previous legislation that allowed both married couples and couples in a domestic partnership to receive the same benefits were “eminently sensible,” Bronski said.

The proposed legislation mandates “pretty plainly” that those who enter into civil unions will be entitled to the same rights and obligations as those in a marriage, and there is “no distinction” between the two, Bates said. Complaints about equal access are more likely to come against federal legislation like the Defense of Marriage Act, he said. Under the Defense of Marriage Act, gay marriage is prohibited at the federal level and states are allowed to bar gay and lesbian couples from receiving federal benefits.

The potential changes to marriage law in New Hampshire is an important consideration for potential College employees, according to Pam Misener, advisor to LGBT students.

“When Dartmouth talks about wanting to recruit and retain the best, most diverse and most talented workforce that we can, we have to pay attention to the environment we’re inviting people to move into and consider living in,” Misener said. “People pay attention to what rights they or their neighbors will or will not have, so as an LGBT profession inviting potential employees into what could potentially be a quagmire of legal intricacies is certainly something to be mindful of.”

Misener said the legislation also concerns students, both while they are undergraduates and when they leave the College.

“I want every student on this campus to have the same access to civil liberties and civil rights for as long as they are living and working in New Hampshire,” she said. “I would love for New Hampshire to be a viable option for students when they finish their undergraduate or graduate work here, but unless we maintain what we currently have or build on it, we won’t be as attractive of an option as we could be.”

The bill presents a potential “legal quagmire” in terms of determining rights for individuals, couples and their families, Misener said.

“For people who live in a state of social power that comes with the privilege of being able to be in a social marriage, there is no sense of what it would mean to have to navigate the terms of a civil union,” she said. “Its hard to think about how do you even begin to discuss who has access to what given your legal status and your relationship with your spouse or child.”

If the bill were to pass, the validity of marriages in New Hampshire that came before the change could be called into question, according to Bronski.

“You have the same situation out in California where the state of certainty on some marriages is constantly in question,” Bronski said. “I think that politically and legally it’s a nightmare, and it’s a nightmare easily avoided by leaving things the way they are.”

Bates has supported the stricter definition of marriage with the assertion that a union between a man and woman is the only way to naturally produce children, according to The Boston Globe. This argument is “under-informed at best and ill-informed at worst,” Misener said.

“We’ve seen and heard this argument time and time again, and it doesn’t just hurt LGBT-identified people,” Misener said. “If that’s the measure we’re going to use, anyone who’s beyond their childbearing years shouldn’t be allowed to get married, and neither should anyone who’s infertile.”

http://thedartmouth.com/2011/11/04/news/bill

LGBT politics are about more than civil rights alone

Posted by LGBT WeeklyLatest IssuePolitically AwareThursday, November 3rd, 2011

Commentary: Politically Aware

BY JOEL TRAMBLEY

Questions about Councilman Carl DeMaio’s commitment to the LGBT community have reached fever pitch in recent weeks, leaving many of us to wonder: Did he really tell a major newspaper he was single? Why didn’t he refuse, and if not, why doesn’t he now disavow himself of Roger Hedgecock’s endorsement? Why isn’t the councilman more visible at LGBT events?

In 2008, when he was a candidate for City Council, DeMaio’s alleged sin was taking money from Douglas Manchester, who had donated $125,000 to gather signatures for what became Proposition 8. Despite the fact that Manchester’s donation came after helping with a fundraiser, DeMaio did little to explain why he even wanted Manchester’s support. His reticence to be viewed primarily as a “gay” candidate earned him a blank page from the Gay and Lesbian Times after he declined an interview request.

His reliability as a tepid member of the LGBT community has been consistent, and so have the desirable (to DeMaio) results of his actions, and positions.

Thus, the cognitive dissonance about DeMaio’s predictable positions isn’t necessarily threatening to the candidate.

However, one component of the discord should be worrisome to the DeMaio camp. It’s a steady thumping sound, barely audible amid the current din: It is the sound of young LGBT activists marching off to DeMaio’s battle for smaller government.

These are a cohort of young people I work with on LGBT causes, whom I respect and consider friends, that are reminiscent of young “Reagan Democrats.” It doesn’t bother me that they like DeMaio. I do too. While he may not have supported marriage equality as loudly or as early as some may have liked, we will be lucky if his District 5 successor ever supports a pro-LGBT position or issue.

Nevertheless, I would feel better if DeMaio’s young LGBT supporters were wearing rose-colored glasses and seeing him in so positive a light, simply because theirs is a gay candidate. The troubling truth is that while still supportive of LGBT rights and other progressive causes, they believe that DeMaio’s reduce-government reforms are the best path toward fiscal solvency for San Diego.

Before joining the chorus of those asking “What are these supporters thinking?” a more pertinent question may be, “Who can blame them?”

For one, it’s easy have the best plan when there is no competition. Rather than offer their own plans, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher have jumped on the bandwagon and have themselves endorsed DeMaio’s Comprehensive Reform Plan (CPR). Release of Congressman Bob Filner’s (the lone Democrat in the mayoral contest) plan is still pending. Intellectually, it is unfair, as DeMaio’s opponents have done, to combat a detailed plan with a list of grievances and a vague promise of something better, particularly when the status quo is unsustainable. By the way, that was President Obama’s as well as House and Senate Democrat’s argument during their fight for passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Even an innovative plan by Filner, however, may not fix a deeper problem progressives in general may face politically. During the lives of most 20- (and even 30-) somethings, the rhetorical cure for government problems has consistently been billed as less government, regardless of what the real medicine (a return to Clinton-era tax rates?) for curing those problems may or may not be.

President Reagan promised solutions through tax cuts and deregulations. President George W. Bush doubled down on that plan, passing tax cuts for the wealthy that turned the first government surpluses in many decades into historic deficits. Somehow, we tend to forget that the federal budget and deficit grew during both of those Republican administrations. We also minimize the budget impact of George W. Bush’s new entitlement, the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, which bought the former president untold numbers of senior votes in 2004.

While conservatives pushed their rhetoric despite a lack of results, liberals became too timid to call them out on it.

In the 1990s, after a failed attempt at health care reform and sweeping midterm losses, President Clinton declared “the era of big government” to be over. And, in fact, by delegating to Vice President Al Gore, his Reinventing Government program did reduce the size and cost of executive branch departments significantly. Furthermore, President Obama’s legislative successes haven’t exactly come with full-throated support of government. The stimulus started as a grand investment in infrastructure, but was enacted as a package of tax cuts with a few projects lauded not for their own sake, but for their alleged economic impact. And, the Affordable Care Act was finally passed through budget reconciliation as a way to reduce the deficit, not because it would dramatically increase coverage.

The lesson many young people have learned from recent political history is more government: bad; less government: good. Carl DeMaio bills himself as a less-government guy; that may turn out to be the right stance come election day.

http://lgbtweekly.com/2011/11/03/lgbt-politics-are-about-more-than-civil-rights-alone/

LGBT groups withhold support from education bill

November 2, 2011 |  1 Comment text sizeprintemailtranslate

By Chris Johnson on November 2, 2011

Several LGBT organizations say they “do not support” the Senate version of education reform legislation as it currently stands due to the lack of protections for LGBT students and what they say is a rollback of federal accountability for schools.

In a letter dated Nov. 1, a group of eight LGBT organizations wrote to leaders on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee to express “grave concerns” about the Elementary & Secondary Education reauthorization bill and to withhold support from the bill.

“As legal and advocacy organizations committed to ensuring that [LGBT] students, as well as those who are perceived to be LGBT, have access to an education unhindered by discrimination and harassment, we are writing to express our grave concerns with the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011, which we do not support in its current form,” the letter states.

The Senate HELP Committee passed the ESEA reauthorization bill on Oct. 20 with a bipartisan vote of 15-7. However, despite calls from LGBT advocates, measures providing explicit protections for LGBT students known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act weren’t included in the larger bill.

The letter has eight co-signers: the American Civil Liberties Union, the Family Equality Council, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Action Fund and PFLAG National. The Human Rights Campaign and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network are not among the co-signers.

The letter, addressed to Senate HELP Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), asks the senators to “address our significant concerns” as the legislative process moves forward

The signers criticize the lack of explicit protections for LGBT students in the education reform bill on the basis that studies have shown LGBT students are a vulnerable group and face a higher risk of suicide. The letter says the education bill, intended to update the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, is “the ideal vehicle” to address the problem.

“Discrimination and harassment of LGBT students, and those perceived to be LGBT, is a serious problem in public elementary and secondary school districts across the United States,” the letter states. “Despite this fact, the ESEA Reauthorization Act of 2011 fails to include any express protections for this vulnerable student population, or even to make reference to them.”

The groups write that the need for the federal government and schools to act to address discrimination and harassment of LGBT students “is critical.” Additionally, they urge that the action taken shouldn’t “rely on overly punitive school discipline policies which worsen the problem of the school-to-prison pipeline.”

The groups also say they “share the concerns” of other civil rights organizations, business groups and education officials on what they say is the bill’s “weak accountability system” for schools. Non-LGBT groups involved in education, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, have said the legislation doesn’t require states and districts to set measurable goals for students and lacks consequences for states failing to demonstrate continuous improvement.

The letter says proposed rollbacks will “have a particularly harmful impact” on minority students, such as students with disabilities, low-income students and students of color — as well as LGBT students.

“Unfortunately, this reauthorization, in its current form, will permit far too many low-achieving students across the country to slip through the cracks, without any federal accountability,” the letter concludes.

In response to the letter, a Harkin spokesperson said the senator “has long supported efforts to ensure that all children feel safe and secure in our schools.”

“As is well-known and as he emphasized during the Committee’s consideration of the bill to fix NCLB, Chairman Harkin believes that no student should be forced to endure harassment, discrimination, violence, bullying or intimidation for any reason, including their sexual orientation or gender identity, and is an original cosponsor of the Student Non-Discrimination Act,” the spokesperson.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act, or SNDA, would prohibit school activities receiving federal funds from discriminating against or allowing the harassment of LGBT students. During the committee markup of the education reform bill, SNDA’s sponsor, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) introduced the bill as an amendment but then withdrew the measure before a vote could be held, saying he would introduce the measure on the Senate floor.

The Harkin spokesperson said the senator “is committed to working with Sen. Franken to bring up and pass SNDA as an amendment when the reauthorization of ESEA comes before the full Senate and is hopeful that his colleagues will join him in standing against discrimination, bullying and harassment of any student.”

Enzi’s office didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on the letter or concerns about the lack of protections for LGBT students in the measure.

In addition to SNDA, the Safe Schools Improvement Act, or SSIA, is another bill that would address school bullying. The legislation would require schools receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct that prohibit bullying and harassment, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill was also offered as an amendment during the markup by its sponsor, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who withdrew it before a vote could be held and said he’d bring the measure up on the floor.

Although the education reform bill doesn’t contain either SNDA or SSIA, the legislation addresses bullying under a provision called Successful, Safe and Healthy Schools, which requires schools receiving grants under the program to have student conduct policies that prohibit bullying and harassment.

Ian Thompson, the ACLU’s legislative representative, said the general anti-harassment language in the education reform legislation isn’t enough for the signers of the letter.

“The general anti-harassment language in ESEA is insufficient, as it includes no enumeration, including actual/perceived sexual orientation and gender identity,” Thompson said. “In addition, we feel strongly that it is critically important to bring LGBT students under the protections of federal civil rights law, as SNDA would do.”

The absence of two LGBT groups — HRC and GLSEN — from the list of signers is notable because HRC is the largest LGBT rights organization and GLSEN is the LGBT group that focuses most directly on LGBT students.

Michael Cole-Schwartz, an HRC spokesperson, said the organization shares the concerns expressed in the letter, but didn’t want to sign a missive withholding support for ESEA reauthorization.

“We share the concerns but we do not have a position on the underlying ESEA reauthorization bill therefore we were unable to sign a letter that said we ‘do not support’ it,” Cole-Schwartz said.

Daryl Presgraves, a GLSEN spokesperson, said his organization is working to pass specific pro-LGBT student bills, but backs the organizations that signed the letter.

“Our focus has been specific to SSIA/SNDA, but we support the work of our partners who signed on,” Presgraves said.

http://www.washingtonblade.com/2011/11/02/lgbt-groups-withhold-support-from-education-bill/

New federal bill would defund abstinence-only programs, include LGBT youth in sex-ed discussion

By Sofia Resnick | 11.03.11 | 4:44 pm

Under newly proposed legislation, the federal government would no longer fund projects that only teach sex education in the context of “abstinence only until marriage.” In addition, organizations applying for federal sex-education funding will be required to address LGBT youth and their sexual-health issues in grant programs.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced House Resolution 3324, or the “Real Education for Healthy Youth Act” into both chambers of Congress on Wednesday. The bill would require student instruction on both abstinence and contraception. Information taught to youth and young adults will have to be “medically accurate and complete,” meaning the information provided to students will have been verified and supported by scientific research. This bill also prevents federally funded programs from withholding “life-saving” information about the efficacy of using condoms and other contraceptives correctly and consistently.

“Research has shown programs that combine information about abstinence and contraception effectively delay the onset of sexual intercourse, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase contraceptive use among teens,” said Lee in a statementintroducing the bill. “These programs also reduce unintended pregnancy and the transmission of STIs, including HIV.”

“Growing up isn’t easy and our kids find themselves in tough situations every day,” said Lautenberg.  “They need all the information to make smart choices and ‘abstinence-only’ programs don’t work.  It’s time to bring sex education up-to-date to reflect the real life situations facing young Americans.”

The “Real Education for Healthy Youth Act” is a follow-up to H.R. 1085, or the “Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act of 2011,” which was introduced by Lee and Lautenberg earlier this year. That bill, which has 44 co-sponsors in the House and 10 in the Senate, would simply eliminate funding for abstinence-only education programs, while the “Real Education” bill goes into great detail about what sex-ed programs will have to address in order to receive federal money.

Specifically, the bill would prevent federal dollars from funding health-education programs that:

  • “deliberately withhold life-saving information about HIV”;
  • “are medically inaccurate or have been scientifically shown to be ineffective”;
  • “promote gender stereotypes”;
  • “are insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of sexually active youth or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth”; or
  • “are inconsistent with the ethical imperatives of medicine and public health.”

Grant proposals would be evaluated by the the Office of Adolescent Health and would be rewarded to groups proposing “comprehensive sex education,” defined as a program that includes age- and developmentally-appropriate information on a range of topics related to sexuality and human development, including: relationships, decision-making, communication, abstinence, contraception, disease, pregnancy-prevention, gender identity, sexual orientation, dating violence and bullying. All information must be inclusive of lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and straight people. Sex-education under this bill would be extended to university-age people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be involved establishing a common set of performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of grant projects funded through this legislation.

The bill makes note of the “rights of young people to information in order to make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexual health.”

In September, Lee introduced legislation aimed at addressing the ongoing criminalization of persons living with HIV infection. Monica Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), told The American Independent Lee and Lautenberg’s new bill attempts to address the stigma that many persons infected with HIV face in our society.

“It’s problematic when we put the burden on others and it’s dis-empowering … to HIV-infected or people infected with other sexually transmitted diseases,” said Rodriguez, a sexuality educator. “Good sexuality helps people to understand their responsibility to protect themselves.”

SIECUS is among several reproductive-rights and LGBT-advocacy groups that are supporting the “Real Education” bill, including Advocates for Youth, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Chocie America, the Guttmacher Institute, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Rodriguez said the bill will likely see opposition from organizations that support and benefit from abstinence-only education funding, but certain provisions, she said, should not be negotiable.

“It is unethical not to provide young people with life saving information” Rodriguez said. “Sexual education needs to be based on science and data and reality as opposed to our fantasy about how we wish the world was. We have issues and this bill attempts to address some of them.”

http://www.americanindependent.com/202803/new-federal-bill-would-defund-abstinence-only-programs-include-lgbt-youth-in-sex-ed-discussion

LGBT adoption bill would help children

By Emily Brooks

Published on: Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Modified on: Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On Friday, Sen. Kristin Gillibrand, D-NY, announced that she will introduce a new adoption discrimination bill called “The Every Child Deserves a Family Act.” If passed, the bill would prohibit adoption discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

According to Gillibrand, “by removing all barriers for LGBT families to serve as foster parents, New York State has increased its foster parent pool by 128,000 prospective parents. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families.”

A version of the legislation was introduced in the House in May by Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., and has received bipartisan support.

It is far past time for such legislation. It is well known that there are more children in the adoption and foster care system than adults to take care of them. The National Survey of Family Growth estimates that for each family seeking to adopt there are 3.3 children waiting to be adopted. This time last year there were over 400,000 children in the foster care system with 107,000 children awaiting adoption in the US. They will wait an average of 37 months before being placed with adoptive parents.

Despite the dearth of available placements, many US states still discriminate against prospective parents. Five US states outright prohibit same-sex adoption, and ambiguous laws in 28 other states facilitate discrimination against same-sex couples, unmarried couples and other potential adoptive homes.

Detractors claim that being raised by same-sex parents will damage children psychologically or influence their sexuality later in life. But there is no evidence to justify denying these children loving homes. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, decades of research “shows that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or in their relationships with peers and adults.”

Interestingly, the researchers found that the only additional challenge that these children faced was bullying and discrimination within their communities.

Gillibrand’s bill coincides with the release of a new report from the Family Equality Council, Center for American Progress and others. The report, entitled “All Children Matter,” focuses on how discriminatory adoption laws and practices harm children. The report finds that indirect discrimination, such as restrictions on unmarried couples, prolongs the wait times for children to be placed in homes.

The AACAP study found that the less time a child spends in the foster system, the better. Over 30 percent of children in the foster care system have severe emotional and psychiatric problems. Many of these children were removed from abusive situations. Children that grow out” of the adoption system without ever finding a home have higher rates of poverty, early parenthood and incarceration as adults. Gillibrand’s bill will hopefully allow such children to be placed in a loving and supportive environment.

Ultimately, marital status, gender identity and sexuality are not determinants of one’s ability to be a good parent. Responsible adoption services conduct notoriously vigorous assessments to determine if an applicant will be a fit parent.

The adoption system may not be perfect, but prohibiting discrimination can only help more children be placed more successfully and more quickly. If a couple wishes to provide a stable, loving home for a child that desperately needs one, why should their gender or orientation matter?

Emily Brooks is an economics senior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com.

http://thedailycougar.com/2011/11/01/lgbt-adoption-bill-would-help-children/

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