Month: August 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gay couples rushed to a courthouse in Las Cruces on Wednesday after the county clerk decided to issue same-sex marriage licenses in a surprise move that came as several legal challenges on the practice make their way through the courts.
“I was in a coffee shop grading dissertations when my partner sent me an email saying, ‘you want to get married?’” said Char Ullman, 51. “I went home to brush my teeth and headed to the courthouse.”
Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said his office had provided 35 licenses to same-sex couples compared to four or five given on an average day to heterosexual couples.
“It’s a happy office today. Lots of happy people,” he said. “One of the first couples that came in today said they had been waiting 31 years. Another couple says they’ve been waiting 43 years. It’s time to stop waiting.”
Jeff Williams, a public information officer in the county’s government and a reverend with Universal Life Church, said he was marrying same-sex couples all day long while wearing his rainbow-colored tie.
Outside the courthouse, television reporters were busy interviewing the people getting married and there was no sign of any protesters.
Ellins said he had carefully read state laws and concluded the “state’s marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not expressly prohibit Dona Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples.”
Later in the day, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he had no plans to challenge the move by Ellins or another other county clerks who might allow the practice.
Ellins said he had been considering issuing the licenses since June, when King released a position paper saying state laws don’t allow same-sex marriage. King had asked county clerks to hold off on issuing licenses, even though he believes the laws are unconstitutional.
Ellins, however, said “any further denial of marriage licenses to these couples violates the United States and New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Human Rights Act.”
SANDUSKY, Ohio — An amusement park here is canceling a wedding contest after a gay couple organized a protest against the promotion.
Cedar Point amusement park initially limited the contest to heterosexual couples because it said state law doesn’t allow gay couples to legally marry in Ohio. A spokesman says the park decided to cancel the event once it started to take on political undertones.
The amusement park that sits along Lake Erie in Sandusky had planned to select 13 couples to get married there on Friday the 13th in September.
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s highest court has ruled that a commercial photography business violated a state anti-discrimination law by refusing to take pictures of a gay couple’s commitment ceremony.
Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, opposes same-sex marriage and had refused to photograph the 2006 event because of her religious beliefs.
The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday the business’s refusal to photograph the ceremony between two women violated New Mexico’s Human Rights Act “in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”
Nickelodeon star Lucas Cruikshank, best known for playing the hyperactive Fred Figglehorn in the television movie “Fred,” came out as gay in a recent YouTube video.
Cruikshank, 19, made the clip with the help of his friend Jennifer Veal, star of the Disney show “Jessie.” In it, the pair answer questions posed by Twitter followers.
Aug 21 (Reuters) – Actor and screenwriter Wentworth Miller, best known for his leading role in Fox television drama “Prison Break,” came out as a gay man on Wednesday in a letter declining an invitation to attend a Russian film festival in light of Moscow’s recently adopted anti-gay laws.
Miller, 41, turned down an offer to attend the St. Petersburg International Film Festival as a “guest of honor” in a letter posted on the website of advocacy group GLAAD, which monitors media representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people and issues.
“Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes. However, as a gay man, I must decline,” Miller wrote to festival director Maria Averbakh.
Miller wrote that he was “deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government,” and did not want attend a festival in a country where “people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.”
(Reuters) – New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie on Monday signed into law a measure to prevent therapists from counseling gay and lesbian youths to change their sexual orientation, making his the second U.S. state to ban so-called conversion therapy.
The state senate approved the measure in June, putting it on the desk of Christie, who is seeking re-election this fall and also widely considered a White House contender for the Republican Party in 2016.
Citing medical and psychiatric research that sexual orientation is determined at birth, the law bans state-licensed counselors, therapists and social workers from practicing a method of talk therapy that opponents have said is deeply damaging to the self-esteem and identity of gay youths.
Christie said he was signing the legislation based on research that found “efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks, including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.”
Campus Pride in collaboration with Huffington Post announced today Campus Pride’s 2013 Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges & Universities. The listing highlights the positive work being done in higher education for LGBT students and those campuses who are out in front leading the way.The Top 25 listing is based on the final responses to the Campus Pride Index, a national benchmarking tool provided by Campus Pride, which self-assesses LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices.Unlike the Princeton Review LGBT rankings, the Campus Pride Index is based in research on policy, program and practice and is conducted “for and by” LGBT experts in the field of higher education. Annually campuses update and use the Campus Pride benchmarking tool to improve LGBT living and learning on campus. Over 80% of participating colleges last year improved from their ratings using the index benchmarking measures.In order to be in the Top 25 this year, a college had to achieve 5 stars in Overall, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression categories. Each campus also had to be 4.5 stars or above in the eight LGBT-friendly factor areas. The final Top 25 had the highest percentage ratings. The final list reflects colleges with student populations from 2500 to over 25,000, public and private schools alike
via BACK TO CAMPUS: Campus Pride’s 2013 Top 25 LGBT-friendly Colleges & Universities announced in partnership with the Huffington Post | Campus Pride | The leading national organization for LGBT student leaders and campus groups.
The Social Security Administration has begun processing limited benefits and payments for some same-sex couples in compliance with the Supreme Court’s invalidation of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the agency announced Friday.
“Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due,” Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, said in a statement.
At the end of June, the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, marking an historic victory in the fight for marriage equality. As the LGBT community took to the streets for Pride to celebrate just a few days later–and as scores of gay couples proposed to their partners–the wedding industry was celebrating too, as market insiders predict a million dollar boon to the business.
Yet even as the industry prepared for a wave of new business, insiders we spoke to cautioned that the boost would be short-lived.
“Overall, I would say you’re probably going to see a bump,” says Shane McMurray, founder of The Wedding Report, a research company that tracks and forecasts number of weddings, spending, and consumer trends for the wedding industry. “The likelihood that it’s going to be this big boom is probably not true. If you look at any of the States, that have legalized gay marriage, there is a small bump and then it levels off to regular patterns.”
One reason the post-DOMA boost will likely level off is that, while gay marriage might have only recently be legally recognized in many States, gay weddings are certainly nothing new.
The Knot has been covering gay weddings for years now, but, in a moment of fortuitous timing, they launched a separate gay wedding vertical just days before DOMA was overturned.