Wednesday, January 27, 2016

235.1 - Notes on progress on LGBTQ rights

Notes on progress on LGBTQ rights

Let's start off with a few updates on things related to same-sex marriage and overall LGBTQ rights, something I haven't talked about in a little while.

One sign of the slow but grinding process of change is that Kraig Powell, a member of the Utah legislature, has proposed legislation that would eliminate terms like "husband" and "wife" from state laws in favor of the gender-neutral "spouse." He also said he is drafting a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal the provision in Utah's state constitution that bans same-sex marriage. He indicated this was just a matter of accepting legal reality.

Now, I don't expect to see this pass, but the fact that it was even introduced by a Utah Republican shows something is happening.

Then there is the execrable Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who on January 6 ordered the state's county probate judges to ignore the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and refuse to issue licenses for such marriages, arguing that "nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides" their "ministerial duty" to in essence place Alabama law above federal law.

Unhappily for the unrepentant bigot Moore, most Alabama counties ignored his order and continued issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and one of the handful that followed his order reversed itself the next day.

But that doesn't mean the bigots have given up, either in Alabama or elsewhere. An anti-same-sex marriage bill filed in South Carolina in December declared Obergefell v. Hodges, the SCOTUS decision that struck down bans on same-sex marriage, "unauthoritative, void, and of no effect," again declaring that state law overrides federal law and decisions of the Supreme Court. A similar bill was introduced in Tennessee in September.

You know, this nation fought its bloodiest war over slavery, but the legal issues involved were nullification and interposition, essentially the supposed right of states to nullify or block federal authority within their borders. Apparently, there are those willing to repeat that experience to promote and maintain their own bigoted sickness. Which in a twisted way I can understand: It must be galling for these folks to be so incredibly far on the wrong side of history.

Meanwhile, two things internationally were interesting.

First was that last month, a bill allowing for same-sex civil unions passed the Greek Parliament by a wide margin. One Greek campaigner for equal rights said the bill
does not provide equality before the law, especially in regard to adoption and custody of children, but it comes close.
Latvia is now the only country in the European Union which does not recognize some form of same-sex partnership, either civil union or marriage.

The action was not without opposition in notoriously homophobic Greece, a fact which makes the bill's passage all the more notable. For example, the Greek Orthodox bishop Ambrosios of Kalavryta called on the church faithful to "spit on [LGBT people]. Condemn them. Blacken them. They are not human! They are freaks of nature!"

On the other hand, in another one of those perhaps-grudging "recognize reality" statements, another Greek prelate, Chrysostomos, the Metropolitan of Messinia, said
[h]omosexuals, like all humans, are a creation of God and they deserve the same respect and honor, and not violence and rejection.
Admittedly, that's several steps short of accepting LGBTQ rights, but in the context of what surrounds him, a noteworthy statement.

Finally, the development I personally find the most interesting.

A man named Sun Wenlin - that's a pseudonym, not his real name - has filed a lawsuit after he was denied a marriage application for himself and his same-sex partner.

What makes the case particularly interesting is that this is happening in China. It is the first such suit ever in that country.

Sun is basing his claim on what could be considered a technicality: The original text of the Marriage Law does not say one man and one woman, but a husband and a wife, which are not necessarily gendered descriptions.

Meanwhile, hormone and electroshock treatments to "cure the gay" are still practiced in China. Technically, they are illegal, but the police don't seem to do much about it.

A decision on Sun's suit is expected within six months.

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