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Archive for March, 2008

I’ve already commented on how the State Department discriminates against its gay employees by denying their partners the benefits that spouses of straight employees enjoy. This story highlights how they discriminate against married gays in passport application process. Jason Hair-Wynn, a gay man married in Massachusetts was denied a passport because he legally changed his surname by hyphenating it his husband’s. His passport application rejection came with a letter stating that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibited the legal recognition of his new name, even though it is in fact his legal name!

Hair-Wynn will have to reapply for a passport using his original surname, in spite of the fact that both his driver’s license and social security information include the hyphenation.

I understand the prohibitions on gay recognition that DOMA enforces, but in this case it seems the State Department is going above and beyond its requirements. While trying to deny the legal existence of gay couples (as DOMA requires), the State Department is actually refusing to recognize the legal identity of gay individuals who choose to change their name.

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In case you missed it, check out this clip of Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern’s tirade against gays.

Kern has refused to apologize and maintains that she is not a gay-basher. She reportedly received a standing ovation from fellow Oklahoma Republican lawmakers in a closed meeting on Monday for her remarks.

Another notable contribution of Rep. Kern was her sponsorship of HB 2200, which would prohibit public schools from penalizing students whose religious beliefs are in conflict with scientific theory. An identical bill, HB 2211, passed the OK House Education Committee last week. Jamelle has more at US of Jamerica.

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Marriage in Iowa

An attempt by Iowa republicans to push through a state constitutional amendment to keep gays from marrying has failed. The state supreme court is still considering the case after a Polk County judge found the decade old ban on marriage equality violated the state constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses last August.

Could it actually be that Republicans won’t be able to gay-bait their way to office this election? We’ll have to wait and see–a recent poll shows Iowans are split on the issue. 62% oppose marriage equality, but a majority favor civil unions. Iowans are about evenly split over a constitutional amendment, with 48% in favor and 47% against.

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Speaking about same sex unions at a campaign stop in Appalachia today, Obama said:

I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.

Although Obama doesn’t think gay unions deserve the word marriage, I think his rhetoric on behalf of gay equality is very compelling.  It’s not just that fact that he’s using religiously-based, but easily translatable moral imperatives to counter religious homophobia, but that he’s speaking on behalf of gay equality to largely hostile crowds.  Even if Obama doesn’t deliver on his rhetoric, it is very promising that we have a major Presidential contender speaking this compellingly and unabashedly about gay equality.

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