PUERTO RICO: Sweeping LGBT Rights Bill Passes, Heads For Governor’s Desk
Via press release from the National Lesbian & Gay Task Force:
The Puerto Rican House of Representatives today approved a sweeping nondiscrimination bill that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in employment, housing, governmental services, public accommodations and private entities. Last week, the Senate approved the bill in a 15-11 vote and Gov. Alejandro García Padilla has vowed to sign the bill into law. The House today also approved a bill to add protections for sexual orientation, marital status and gender identity to the domestic violence law. It now moves to the Senate.
Local activist Pedro Julio Serrano applauds:
“Today is a thrilling day in Puerto Rican history. A decade ago, LGBT Puerto Ricans were criminals under the sodomy law, today we’re second-class citizens and when this bill is signed into law, we will be closer to achieving the first-class citizenship that we deserve. Equality is inevitable. Puerto Rico will be for all.”
United Kingdom: House Of Commons Passes Gay Marriage Bill By 366-161 Vote
The Huffington Post UK reports:
MPs were encouraged to be “proud” after the government’sgay marriagebill easily cleared the House of Commons on Tuesday evening. However,David Camerononce again failed to convince the majority of his own backbenchers to back the legislation and had to rely on Ed Miliband’s support. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received its third reading by 366 votes to 161 - a majority of 205. Early reports suggested around 133 Tories voted against the bill with 117 voting in favour. Culture secretary Maria Miller, who had the difficult job of piloting the bill past through the Commons and past more than half of her own backbenchers, said the party should be “proud” of bringing in gay marriage. “We will look back on the passage of this bill as we now look back on the introduction of civil partnerships. We will be in no doubt that equal marraige is right and we will be proud that we made it happen,” she said. Miller’s message may well have been aimed at several Tory MPs who voted against civil partnerships when they were introduced in 2005 - but have since changed their minds. Recognising the wounding split the bill has opened up in the party, she added: “Let us make equal marriage possible because it is the right thing to do, and then, let us move on.” Having secured its third reading the bill will now be scrutinised by the House of Lords - where opponents of the bill hope to still be able to kill it off. David Cameron has come under intense pressure from backbench MPs and grassroots party activists to drop the bill. Former Conservative cabinet minister Norman Tebbit told the prime minister he had “really fucked things up” by changing the law on marriage as it would open up the possibility of a lesbian queen and fathers marrying sons. Yvette Cooper, the shadow equalities minister, said MPs should be pleased they were able to deliver “joy” for gay couples who wanted to get married. “No one has any excuse to ditch or delay this legislation,” she said. In February, 136 Tories voted against the bill’s second reading while 127 voted in favour. In total the bill passed 400 votes to 175 - a majority of 225 - but it needed Labour and Lib Dem support to overcome Tory opposition. Highlighting the necessary role Labour played in getting the bill through, Cooper encouraged anti-gay marriage Tory MPs to “stop talking abot the anger and start talking about the joy”. And she dismissed objections that gay marriage would in any way impact on heterosexual couples. “The idea that two brides tying the knot says anything about their neighbours next door is simply ludicrous,” she told the Commons. “It’s not a definition its a discrimination.” Writing for The Huffington Post UK on Tuesday, Ed Miliband said Cameron was being pushed around by his “backward” MPs. “This week we have watched the prime minister looking desperately over his shoulder at the MPs behind him over the issue of same-sex marriage,” he said. Former Tory police minister Nick Herbert, the leading pro-gay marriage backbencher, said the bill “will do no harm but a very great deal of good by celebrating love and commitment”. He added that his Tory colleagues who opposed the move would be shown to be wrong in time, just as those who opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality had been. Fellow Tory Charles Walker, who supported the bill, enthusiastically told MPs: “I didn’t come into politics to be defined by what I am against, I ame into politics to be defined by what I am for. “Tonight is a good night.”
76 countries still criminalize consensual same-sex relationships and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere continue to suffer violent attacks and discriminatory treatment. In this simple, high-impact video from the UN human rights office, individuals from diverse backgrounds pose questions directly to the viewer designed to expose the nature of human rights violations suffered by LGBT people around the world. The video includes cameo appearances by UN Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. The UN’s message: LGBT rights are human rights. Together we will build a world that is free and equal.
A bid to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland has failed. Unionists voted down a motion at Stormont’s Assembly which called on the power-sharing ministerial Executive to legislate. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without marriage rights for gay couples. The issue sparked impassioned debate, with protests outside the legislature and verbal clashes between campaigners in favour of or opposed to the change. Amnesty International has warned of a likely legal challenge. Sinn Fein South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane said: “Attitudes in Ireland are changing because people do not want to see people discriminated against. “The gay community has said enough is enough, they are standing up for themselves and their communities.” She claimed young people were turning to suicide by because of the taunts. “If they don’t have an alternative voice to the vitriolic gay bashing they will internalise it,” she said. “There is no room for sitting on the fence on this, this is about fighting for all our children’s rights.” Church leaders had urged Assembly members to vote against the legislation, with the Catholic church asserting marriage was between a man and a woman. However, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s orthern Ireland programme director, said: “States may not discriminate with regards to the right to marry and found a family, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Yesterday’s petition of concern at the Assembly tabled by the largest unionist party, the Democratic Unionists, ensured Sinn Fein’s motion would be defeated after a majority of unionists failed to back the change. John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project health organisation for gay men and a rights campaigner, said he would continue to press for change. “This will be won slowly so we appreciate every vote that we got. We are disappointed with the outcome. It has always been a difficult march towards equality here but we will continue to fight the good fight.”
America finally has its first openly gay and still-playing male major professional sports athlete. Jason Collins writes today for Sports Illustrated:
I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.
I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.
My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.
I’ve played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you’re in the league, and I haven’t been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates’ teammates. Or one of your teammates’ teammates’ teammates.
Now I’m a free agent, literally and figuratively. I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.
He says he wears the #98 on his uniform as a tribute to Matthew Shepard:
The parents of Matthew Shepard say they are floored at the news that Jason Collins secretly chose 98 as his uniform number as a tribute to Matthew Shepard and the Trevor Project, which was founded in August 1998 two months before Shepard was murdered.
“It made me cry,” Judy Shepard told FOXSports.com during an interview Monday afternoon. “It was really quite a tribute, and I was very honored. And I know Matt would be thrilled.” And the Shepards hope, someday, to be able to thank Collins personally for his bravery in opening himself up to the world and honoring their son’s name in the process. “I would really love to speak to him, because I know Judy and I would just like to thank him,” Dennis Shepard said. “Because, No. 1, he had the courage to come out, period, and No. 2 that he wore 98 in honor of Matt, the year that he died. “(Collins) couldn’t have been that old (when it happened), so it must have had a tremendous impact on him, the story behind Matt, for him to want to do that. And then to wear it all this time without telling people why until today, that’s incredible.”
The head of the Trevor Project says they plan to reach out to Collins about working together.
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