Politics

Looking Out: 89 percent of Equality Maryland's endorsed candidates win primaries

Looking Out: 89 percent of Equality Maryland's endorsed candidates win primaries

The results of primary elections in Maryland on Tuesday bode well for LGBT rights -- at least according to Equality Maryland, the state's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights organization.  Read more

HBO's 'The Normal Heart' brought back memories of death, and I'm only 28 [Commentary]

HBO's 'The Normal Heart' brought back memories of death, and I'm only 28 [Commentary]

As I watched HBO's new film "The Normal Heart" this weekend, sharp memories kept flashing through my mind of emaciated young people wracked with sores and dying before my eyes.  Read more

DOMA plaintiff, attorney receive honorary degrees, applause at Hopkins commencement

DOMA plaintiff, attorney receive honorary degrees, applause at Hopkins commencement

The two women who successfully challenged the constitutionality of the federal law banning same-sex marriage received honorary degrees during Johns Hopkins University's commencement ceremonies in Baltimore on Thursday.  Read more

Looking Out: Baltimore to receive award for LGBT equality ranking

Looking Out: Baltimore to receive award for LGBT equality ranking

Back in November, we reported that Baltimore was among just 25 cities across the country to receive top marks for LGBT equality in municipal policies, according to an analysis by the Human Rights Campaign.  Read more

Therapy to change sexual orientation at center of debate in Maryland

Therapy to change sexual orientation at center of debate in Maryland

Christopher Doyle says he doesn't think there is anything wrong with being gay, but he also believes he can help children and others rid themselves of "unwanted same-sex attractions" through therapy sessions in a tidy suburban home in Bowie.  Read more

Gallaudet diversity official's discrimination lawsuit against school dismissed

Gallaudet diversity official's discrimination lawsuit against school dismissed

A federal judge in Washington has dismissed the high-profile discrimination lawsuit of a Gallaudet University official who claimed she was unfairly demoted for signing a petition to put Maryland's same-sex marriage law to referendum.  Read more

Looking Out: Coalition launches campaign to promote Maryland's new transgender protections

Looking Out: Coalition launches campaign to promote Maryland's new transgender protections

Advocates in Maryland who backed the successful passage of the first statewide legal protections for transgender citizens in housing, employment and public accommodations this legislative session don't consider their work complete.  Read more

Equality Maryland endorses Frosh for attorney general

Equality Maryland endorses Frosh for attorney general

Equality Maryland has endorsed Sen. Brian Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, for attorney general, calling him a "firm ally" of the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.  Read more

Looking Out: Same-sex marriage is on the march again

Looking Out: Same-sex marriage is on the march again

That pesky question of whether marriage is a fundamental right under the Constitution? It's back.  Read more

Looking Out: Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps dead at 84

Looking Out: Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps dead at 84

The founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, the Kansas institution that stages anti-LGB protests across the country, died Thursday, according to multiple reports.  Read more

Marylanders in favor of transgender rights bill, poll says

Marylanders in favor of transgender rights bill, poll says

A new poll found that Maryland residents overwhelmingly support a proposed bill that would ban discrimination based against transgender individuals.  Read more

Maryland lawmakers urge Obama to issue LGBT employment protections

Maryland lawmakers urge Obama to issue LGBT employment protections

More than half of the members of Maryland's congressional delegation signed a letter dated March 18 to President Barack Obama asking him to issue an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.  Read more

Gay 'conversion therapy' bill withdrawn as advocates pursue regulatory oversight

Gay 'conversion therapy' bill withdrawn as advocates pursue regulatory oversight

Gay rights advocates and the state legislator who introduced legislation this session to ban so-called "gay conversion therapy" in Maryland have withdrawn the bill, saying they will instead pursue regulatory oversight of the controversial practice.  Read more

Looking Out: South Carolina House votes to punish colleges for assigning LGBT-themed books

Looking Out: South Carolina House votes to punish colleges for assigning LGBT-themed books

Some South Carolina lawmakers weren't thrilled to learn that two public universities assigned books with gay and lesbian themes as reading for students.    Read more

Young Republicans support same-sex marriage

Young Republicans support same-sex marriage

The generation gap that many credit with moving the needle on same-sex marriage apparently crosses party lines.  Read more

Bill would ban 'self-declared homosexual football players' from NFL

Bill would ban 'self-declared homosexual football players' from NFL

The Republican lobbyist who was seemingly grandstanding all week about introducing legislation to ban out players from the NFL has released the text of the proposed bill.  Read more

With Olympics underway, Russia's gay-rights record leaves some Marylanders uneasy

With Olympics underway, Russia's gay-rights record leaves some Marylanders uneasy

When Maryland first lady Catherine Curran O'Malley sits down to watch the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, she'll feel a little uneasy.  Read more

Looking Out: Russian editor fined for printing that being gay is normal

Looking Out: Russian editor fined for printing that being gay is normal

A Russian newspaper editor was fined Wednesday for printing a quote indicating that being gay was normal.  Read more

Two LGBT candidates will go head-to-head in Md. Senate race

Two LGBT candidates will go head-to-head in Md. Senate race

Transgender rights advocate and Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer announced Thursday she is challenging state senator Rich Madaleno in the upcoming Democratic primary.  Read more

Obama briefly mentions LGBT equality, Sochi Olympics in State of the Union

Obama briefly mentions LGBT equality, Sochi Olympics in State of the Union

President Barack Obama briefly reiterated his commitment to LGBT equality around the globe in a section of Tuesday night's State of the Union speech, but he did not address the stalled Employment Non-Discrimination Act or whether he would issue an executive order to prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors.  Read more

Olympic officials tackle gay protester on Olympic torch route

Olympic officials tackle gay protester on Olympic torch route

Those wondering how Russia will treat LGBT rights protesters when the Sochi Olympics begin in February might have their answer.  Read more

Transgender rights bill introduced in Annapolis

Transgender rights bill introduced in Annapolis

A bill to protect transgender Marylanders from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations was filed Tuesday in Annapolis by Sen. Richard Madaleno.  Read more

Gansler says Maryland to recognize Utah same-sex marriages

Gansler says Maryland to recognize Utah same-sex marriages

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said Friday that same-sex marriages performed in Utah -- but thrown into question there amid a court battle -- will be recognized in Maryland.  Read more

Del. Cardin introduces bill to ban gay conversion therapy for children

Del. Cardin introduces bill to ban gay conversion therapy for children

Baltimore County Del. Jon Cardin introduced Wednesday a bill that would prohibit administering so-called "gay conversion therapy" to Maryland minors.  Read more

Supreme Court order halts same-sex marriages in Utah

Supreme Court order halts same-sex marriages in Utah

The Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages in Utah on Monday in the wake of a federal judge's ruling that would have made Utah the 18th state to allow same-sex marriages.  Read more

Equality Maryland endorses Brown for governor

Equality Maryland endorses Brown for governor

Choosing from a slate of three Democratic candidates who have all been friendly to its cause, Maryland's largest gay rights organization on Monday endorsed Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for governor.  Read more

Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages held out of state, judge rules

Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages held out of state, judge rules

Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages held in other states on Ohio death certificates, a federal judge decided Monday in a case sparked by an Ohio couple's July wedding on the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport tarmac.  Read more

Looking Out: India re-criminalizes gay sex

Looking Out: India re-criminalizes gay sex

Gay sex is now illegal -- again -- in the second-most populous nation in the world.  Read more

Baltimore remembers the lives of its transgender victims

Baltimore remembers the lives of its transgender victims

When Kelly Young was killed in East Baltimore in April, the well-liked transgender woman was mourned publicly, with friends and family asking for help bringing her still-unidentified killer to justice.  Read more

7 questions about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act you needed answered

7 questions about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act you needed answered

Republican Senator Dean Heller, the junior Senator from Nevada, announced Monday his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which likely makes him the crucial 60th vote in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's attempt to get the bill approved by the Senate.  Read more

Looking Out: Harry Reid moving Employment Non-Discrimination Act toward a vote

Looking Out: Harry Reid moving Employment Non-Discrimination Act toward a vote

Happy Halloween! Let's talk about something truly terrifying: LGBT discrimination in hiring.  Read more

Baltimore's gay community to name Pelosi a 'Hometown Hero'

Baltimore's gay community to name Pelosi a 'Hometown Hero'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Baltimore native, will next month receive a "lifetime achievement award for her longtime dedication to LGBT rights and her work to fight HIV/AIDS in Congress," gay leaders in Baltimore said Friday.  Read more

Rawlings-Blake 'extremely honored' to receive Black Pride ICON award

Rawlings-Blake 'extremely honored' to receive Black Pride ICON award

When the first gay and lesbian couples legally allowed to marry in Baltimore began preparing for their big moment at City Hall in the first minutes of 2013, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was there to officiate.  Read more

Special military leave for same-sex marriages often denied

Special military leave for same-sex marriages often denied

When the Department of Defense announced it would begin offering benefits to same-sex spouses, it also announced its intention to grant up to 10 days of special leave for military personnel who needed to travel more than 100 miles to a locale where same-sex marriages were legally recognized.  Read more

Looking Out: IOC 'fully satisfied' that Russia anti-gay law doesn't violate Olympic charter

Looking Out: IOC 'fully satisfied' that Russia anti-gay law doesn't violate Olympic charter

In news as infuriating as it is unsurprising, International Olympic Committee officials said Thursday they were "fully satisfied" that a Russian law barring gay propaganda doesn't violate the Olympic charter's anti-discrimination language, the Washington Post reports.  Read more

Married same-sex couples still not eligible for veterans' benefits

Married same-sex couples still not eligible for veterans' benefits

A recent Pentagon announcement made it clear that same-sex spouses of U.S. military personnel will begin receiving full benefits immediately. But once military service ends, they may be out of luck.  Read more

Obama has 'no patience' for Russia's anti-gay stance

Obama has 'no patience' for Russia's anti-gay stance

In a broad-ranging interview on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama addressed Russia's recently passed anti-gay laws by saying he has "no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them."  Read more

Looking Out: Russia's anti-gay law will be enforced at Sochi, minister says

Looking Out: Russia's anti-gay law will be enforced at Sochi, minister says

Despite previous assurances from the International Olympic Committee, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that athletes and spectators at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics could be arrested for violating Russia's anti-LGBT propaganda law.  Read more

Commentary: Why boycotting Winter Olympics in anti-gay Russia isn't the right move

Commentary: Why boycotting Winter Olympics in anti-gay Russia isn't the right move

Those suggesting a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia due to the country’s recent passage of draconian anti-gay laws should reconsider.  Read more

Looking Out: Pa. county defies state's same-sex marriage ban

Looking Out: Pa. county defies state's same-sex marriage ban

The fight for marriage equality in Pennsylvania just got mighty interesting.  Read more

Judge rules gay Ohio couple's Maryland marriage should be recognized

Judge rules gay Ohio couple's Maryland marriage should be recognized

When John Arthur and Jim Obergefell chartered a private medical jet to Maryland last month to get married — the only safe means of transport for Arthur, who is terminally ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease — the gay couple fulfilled a last wish and set out to leave a lasting legacy. They returned with their Maryland marriage license to Ohio, which doesn’t recognize same-sex nuptials, and sued. This week U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black sided with Arthur and Obergefell, granting a temporary restraining order against Ohio’s 2004 law banning the recognition of same-sex marriages. The immediate practical impact, lawyers said, is that death records would reflect the marriage should Arthur die. But gay rights leaders as well as same-sex marriage opponents say the ruling could have broader implications. The ruling comes as activists stage a national effort to strike down state bans on gay marriages — an effort that opponents contend tramples on states’ rights. Marriage is governed by state law, but states have traditionally recognized marriages performed elsewhere. “It’s a powerful decision,” said Brian Moulton, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay advocacy organization, of the Ohio court ruling. Mathew Staver, chairman and founder of the Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal group that has argued against same-sex marriage laws across the country, said his group will “definitely be involved” in the Ohio case if it moves forward. “It certainly does interfere with the state’s rights in terms of their marriage policy,” said Staver, who is also dean of the law school at the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. “Not every marriage is required to be recognized by every state.” Obergefell and Arthur, for their part, say they are happy to be married and proud to be fighting to ensure other couples won’t face similar struggles in the future. They have been buoyed by Judge Black’s decision. “It was like the universe saying, ‘Yeah, this needs to happen,’” Obergefell said. “It means that we exist.” They know their struggle has hit home for many people, something gay rights leaders have noticed as well. As the Ohio case moves forward — the state is expected to appeal Black’s ruling — it could rise to national prominence, just as a New York woman’s lawsuit against the federal government’s taxing her inheritance from her deceased wife rose all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That case led to last month’s decision that a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, allowing for federal recognition of same-sex marriages for the purpose of providing federal benefits. “With litigation, you want the most compelling story, and this is a really compelling story,” said Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland. Arthur and Obergefell, who have been together for more than 20 years, wed in a special medical jet on a tarmac at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport on July 11. Arthur suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and can't travel without such medical support. Family and friends helped fund the expensive flight, pitching in to provide the bulk of the $13,600 it cost to charter the jet. Local media covered the couple’s journey, and news of their story spread. Soon after, a friend put them in touch with a civil rights attorney, and they began considering litigation, Obergefell said. “It was very quick,” he said in an interview Tuesday. In their lawsuit against Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Cincinnati Vital Statistics Registrar Camille Jones, the couple acknowledged that Arthur is likely to die soon and claimed that the state's refusal to recognize their marriage in Maryland, including on Arthur's death certificate, would cause them severe harm. In his decision, Black wrote that his order restraining the state from enforcing its laws applied to Arthur and Obergefell only, through Aug. 5 or as extended by the court, and said in that limited scope it would not have an affect on Ohio or its other citizens. However, Black also took aim at the state's current law, saying Arthur and Obergefell “are not currently accorded the same dignity and recognition as similarly situated opposite-sex couples” in Ohio. Black referred to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, and challenged the notion that Ohio could pick and choose which out-of-state marriages to recognize — even among those that would be illegal in Ohio. Black found that Ohio already recognizes opposite-sex marriages between first cousins and minors that are legal in other states but not in Ohio. “How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single out same-sex marriages as ones it will not recognize?” Black wrote. “The short answer is that Ohio cannot ... at least not under the circumstances here.” The argument is one that is likely to appear in more cases across the country in coming months, said Evans of Equality Maryland. With the Supreme Court case erasing the federal government’s refusal to acknowledge same-sex marriages, such couples have a much stronger 14th Amendment case when they return to their home states and challenge bans there, she said. “The 14th Amendment states that you cannot treat similarly situated individuals differently,” Evans said. State Sen. Jamie Raskin, a constitutional law professor at American University who helped lead the push for same-sex marriage in Maryland, said cases like the one in Ohio will continue to appear as gay-rights advocates consider the findings in the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling, which found “no conceivable reason” for the nation’s block on federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples. “That holding is the wind behind the sails of the Ohio judge, because it tells him that Ohio needs to demonstrate some valid purpose for withholding recognition,” Raskin said. Evans said she believes Arthur and Obergefell’s case is the first in which a Maryland marriage license has been used to challenge another state’s laws. In part because of its possible implications on state marriage laws, same-sex marriage opponents like Staver of the Liberty Counsel have reacted to the Supreme Court’s decision with sharp criticism. They’ve reacted the same way to Black’s decision in Ohio. Still, state officials have not indicated whether they will appeal Black’s order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Robert Nichols, a spokesman for Kasich, said the governor’s office doesn’t “comment on pending litigation except to say that the governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.” DeWine, the state’s attorney general, had argued in his own response in the case that any ruling in favor of the couple would set a bad precedent — threatening the state's constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriages that was supported by Ohio's voters. “Just as Maryland is free to choose to recognize same-sex marriage, Ohio is free to follow tradition,” he wrote. Not everyone named in the lawsuit is on board with that stance, though. John P. Curp, the city solicitor in Cincinnati, said the city “will not defend Ohio's discriminatory ban on same-sex marriages.” In fact, Cincinnati officials named July 11, the day Obergefell and Arthur were married in Maryland, as “John Arthur and James Obergefell Day” in the city, which has a record of passing broader legal protections for gay and lesbian citizens than the state. For Arthur and Obergefell, the widespread attention to their case has come as a bit of a shock, Obergefell said. But the support they have received from people all across the country — including from a man in Frederick who lost his father to Lou Gehrig’s disease and thanked the couple for sharing their story — has been a source of strength. “We’re blown away. We’re thrilled,” Obergefell said.  Read more

Gay couple wed in Maryland sue Ohio governor for recognition

Gay couple wed in Maryland sue Ohio governor for recognition

A gay couple from Ohio who were married in a medical jet on a tarmac at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport earlier this month are now suing the governor and other officials of their home state in a bid to have their marriage recognized there.  Read more

LGBT groups say 'Trayvon Martin deserves justice'

LGBT groups say 'Trayvon Martin deserves justice'

Days after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, a coalition of LGBT rights groups has issued an open letter declaring "solidarity" with Martin's family and friends.  Read more

Backer of Maryland's same-sex marriage effort announces 'roadmap' for national push

Backer of Maryland's same-sex marriage effort announces 'roadmap' for national push

A prominent gay rights organization that helped bankroll Maryland's effort to pass same-sex marriage last year announced on Tuesday a new $3 million plan to push for such unions in several more states in the next three years.  Read more

Prominent gay marriage opponent to depart Annapolis in 2014

Prominent gay marriage opponent to depart Annapolis in 2014

A prominent opponent of same-sex marriage and other gay rights initiatives in Annapolis for the last two decades is officially retiring from the state legislature next year -- capping a long career in which his stance on gay issues has increasingly put him at odds with legislative colleagues and younger voters.  Read more

Md. Rep. Harris co-sponsors amendment to ban same-sex marriage

Md. Rep. Harris co-sponsors amendment to ban same-sex marriage

In a friendly reminder (like you really needed it) that last week's Supreme Court decisions are far from the end of the marriage equality debate, 29 Congressional Republicans have come out in favor of a bill proposing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the United States.  Read more

Secretary of State promises fight wherever 'homophobia raises its ugly frightened head'

Secretary of State promises fight wherever 'homophobia raises its ugly frightened head'

The U.S. Department of State is committing to fighting homophobia and is looking for new ways it can protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in countries around the world, including within the United States, Secretary John Kerry said during a "Pride at State" event held Wednesday.  Read more

LGBT adults 'less happy' than general public, survey finds

LGBT adults 'less happy' than general public, survey finds

Even as an overwhelming number of America's LGBT adults say society has become more accepting, members of the LGBT community are less happy with their lives than the general public, according to a new Pew survey released today.  Read more

State's LGBT business group looks ahead, and back

State's LGBT business group looks ahead, and back

Want the back story on that red-and-pink Human Rights Campaign logo that sweeped Facebook as the U.S. Supreme Court prepared to hear arguments on two same-sex marriage cases earlier this year?  Read more

Mizeur is shaking up the governor race

Mizeur is shaking up the governor race

A lot of people are talking about the 2014 race for governor today -- nothing like a few big announcements to stir the pot -- so I figured I'd take the opportunity to bring up the big LGBT storyline in the race.  Read more

Md. man's button collection tells story of gay rights movement

Md. man's button collection tells story of gay rights movement

When it comes to history, Al Feldstein is an equal-opportunity collector.  Read more

Peace Corps opens door for same-sex couples to serve together

Peace Corps opens door for same-sex couples to serve together

The U.S. Peace Corps will begin accepting applications from same-sex couples who wish to serve overseas together for the first time next month, the agency announced Tuesday.  Read more

Baltimore percentage of same-sex couples raising kids among highest in nation

Baltimore percentage of same-sex couples raising kids among highest in nation

Same-sex couples in the Baltimore area are raising children at a higher rate than in most large metropolitan regions in the nation, according to a new study released by a think tank at the UCLA School of Law.  Read more

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Kevin Rector joined The Sun as a breaking news and general assignment reporter in 2012, after working for years as a reporter in Baltimore's suburbs. An Ellicott City native, Rector attended high school at Loyola Blakefield in Towson and graduated in 2007 from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also pursued a concentration in LGBT Studies and participated in the university's LGBT Speaker's Bureau. He also spent a summer learning about grassroots advocacy as an intern at Equality Maryland, and has written often on LGBT issues. In 2010, Rector spent a year away from journalism in rural southern Africa, as a fellow with a nonprofit fighting childhood HIV/AIDS and malnutrition.

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