Gay youth may join the Boy Scouts
January 1st, 2014
05:38 AM ET

Gay youth may join the Boy Scouts

Starting Wednesday, openly gay youths will be allowed to join scouting.
Boy Scouts of America made the decision in May to accept them into their ranks. The resolution took effect when the new year rang in.
More than 60% of the group's 1,400-member national council voted back then at an annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, for the change.

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Filed under: Boy Scouts • Gay and lesbian • Texas • U.S. • Uncategorized • World Update
September 12th, 2013
04:56 PM ET

Pennsylvania judge orders clerk to obey same-sex marriage ban

A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday ordered a suburban Philadelphia county clerk to comply with the state's same-sex marriage ban and stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

Since July, D. Bruce Hanes, the elected Montgomery County register of wills, has given out 174 licenses to same-sex couples, ignoring a 1996 state law that defines marriage as "between one man and one woman."

The state Department of Health sued to stop Hanes, saying he is in "direct defiance" of the ban and "risks causing serious and limitless harm to the public."

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August 20th, 2013
03:19 AM ET

Judge to rule in teen's same-sex case

Will Kaitlyn Hunt remain free on bond or go to jail?

A Florida judge will decide the gay Florida teen's fate Tuesday after prosecutors pulled her plea deal when they discovered she'd exchanged about 20,000 text messages with the underage teen girl at the center of the case against her.

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Filed under: Florida • Gay and lesbian • Justice • U.S.
Same-sex couples start new lives with new law
August 1st, 2013
04:11 AM ET

Same-sex couples start new lives with new law

They've been a couple for two years and are eager to raise two children together. But it wasn't until Thursday that Holli Bartelt and Amy Petrich were allowed to legally wed.

They wasted no time.

They made plans to tie the knot one minute after a law permitting gay marriage went into effect in their home state of Minnesota.

At 12 a.m. Thursday, Minnesota and Rhode Island officially became the latest among 13 states - and the District of Columbia - to allow same-sex marriage. Both states passed applicable laws in May.

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Filed under: Civil Rights • Gay and lesbian • Minnesota • Rhode Island • Supreme Court • U.S. • Uncategorized • World Update
April 23rd, 2013
04:56 AM ET

France: Final vote due on same-sex marriage

France is set to become the latest nation to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday, despite vocal opposition from conservatives, when legislation goes before lawmakers in the lower house for a final vote.

The bill, which would also give same-sex couples the rights to adopt, was approved in the Senate earlier this month.

Since no amendments have been made during debate in the lower house, it will be the final vote on the legislation. The measure is expected to pass.

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Filed under: France • Gay and lesbian • Same-sex marriage
French Senate to debate same-sex marriage
Tens of thousands of people protest against France's same-sex marriage bill on March 24 in Paris.
April 4th, 2013
03:40 AM ET

French Senate to debate same-sex marriage

The French Senate will debate a controversial bill Thursday that would extend the right to marry and adopt to same-sex couples.

The lower house has already approved the legislation, in the face of large demonstrations from those opposed to the measure.

If it passes the Senate, it would mark the biggest step forward for French gay rights advocates in more than a decade.

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Filed under: Adoption • France • Gay and lesbian • Same-sex marriage
DOMA plaintiff: Case 'went beautifully'
March 27th, 2013
01:20 PM ET

DOMA plaintiff: Case 'went beautifully'

  • Today's arguments focused on federal Defense of Marriage Act.
  • It denies Social Security, other spousal benefits to same-sex couples.
  • The court heard 80 minutes of arguments yesterday focused on California same-sex marriage ban.
  • Live updates below. Also, read the full story; and share your thoughts.

[Updated at 1:36 p.m.] We're wrapping up Day 2 of the same-sex marriage court debate here - check out our main story for more detail and analysis as it comes today. As always, we want to hear from you.

[Updated at 1:20 p.m.] "I'm very optimistic that DOMA will be struck down, it has no rational basis for being," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said just now. Pelosi was at the Supreme Court to hear arguments over DOMA and California's Proposition 8 over the past two days.

Pelosi's district has been at the epicenter of gay rights for decades. She called the oral arguments at the Supreme Court "thrilling."

FULL POST

March 27th, 2013
01:04 AM ET

Day 2 of same-sex marriage at Supreme Court

Day Two of the culture wars at the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, and another opportunity for the justices to give political and legal clarity to a contentious issue.

The momentous week kicked off on Tuesday with arguments over California's same-sex marriage ban, and there was little indication when they concluded how the court might rule.

The stakes are high as the justices could, in one scenario, fundamentally alter how American law treats marriage with polls showing the public becoming more aware of the issue, and in some cases, more in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to legally wed.

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Filed under: Courts • Gay and lesbian • Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
Supreme Court appears deeply divided over same-sex marriage
March 26th, 2013
12:40 PM ET

Supreme Court appears deeply divided over same-sex marriage

  • The Supreme Court is hearing two cases this week in the appeals to state and federal laws restricting same-sex marriage.
  • The court today first tackles an appeal of California's ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8.
  • Tomorrow, the justices will hear oral arguments over the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
  • Live updates below. Also, read the full story.

[Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET] We're signing off on this end for now - check out our main story for more detail and analysis as it comes today. We answer your questions here, and want to hear from you here.

Don't forget to join us again here tomorrow, when the Supreme Court hears the second round of debate on same-sex marriage: the Defense of Marriage Act.

[Updated at 12:31 p.m. ET] Director Rob Reiner, who watched today’s oral arguments, is a vocal critic against Proposition 8. Here's what he had to say after court adjourned:

“Today is a historic day for all those who believe in freedom and equality. After more than four years of working our case through victories at the federal District and Circuit courts, we finally had an opportunity today to present our arguments in support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans before the highest court in the land. This case has always been about the love shared by two individuals and about the central promise from our nation’s founding that all men are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights, including the pursuit of happiness.

[Updated at 12:11 p.m. ET] Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, tells reporters outside the court that he believes both sides of the argument have agreed that it is impossible to know with certainly how society would change by redefining "a fundamental institution such as marriage.

[Updated at 12:04 p.m. ET] “Today we feel we clearly presented the winning case for marriage,” says Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, who is speaking with reporters now.

[Updated at 12:01 p.m. ET] Charles Cooper, lead counsel defending Proposition 8, told reporters that he couldn't sum up his argument in a couple of sentences. "We believe Proposition 8 is constitutional," he said, making a brief statement.

[Updated at 11:48 a.m. ET] Kris Perry, a plaintiff in the Prop 8 case, just spoke, saying: "In this country as children, we learn that there's a founding principle, that all men and women are created equal. … Unfortunately with the passage of Proposition 8, we learned that there are group of people in California who are not being treated equally."

"We look forward to a day when prop 8 is officially eliminated and equality is restored to the state of California."

[Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET] Republican Ted Olson and Democrat David Boies, who joined forces to argue against Prop 8, are speaking outside the courthouse now. What's important from today, Olson said, is "the American people were listening to the argument. The other side, nobody really offered a defense."

"We're very gratified they listened, they heard, they asked hard questions, (but) there is no denying where the right is, and we hope the court (rules that way) in June."

[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET] According to Toobin, there were a lot of questions along these lines from Justices Scalia and Alito: We don’t know the effects of same sex parenting on children, so why don’t we wait and let the states go experiment? Why do we, the Supreme Court, have to get involved in this process?

Toobin said Roberts also seemed sympathetic to these questions.

[Updated at 11:39 a.m. ET] The attorney general and the governor of California have refused to defend Prop 8. So the question, Toobin says, is "Who can defend the law? Who has the standing?" The answer to that question will be key to resolving the case.

Conservative Justices Scalia, Alito and Roberts were "very hostile of idea of the court imposing same sex marriage," according to Toobin. The four Democratic justices seemed favorably disposed.

Justice Kennedy seemed like he was in the middle, he said things that would "give comfort for both sides," Toobin says. Kennedy suggested the issue was brought prematurely before the court.

[Updated at 11:37 a.m. ET] The justices seemed very focused on how Prop 8 affects children, with Justice Kagan at some point suggesting that California have a law allowing same-sex marriage for people past child-bearing age, Toobin said.

Kagan said, according to Toobin: “I assure you if two 55 year old people, there aren’t a lot of children (coming from that marriage).”

[Updated at 11:34 a.m. ET] "This was a deeply divided Supreme Court, a court that seemed groping for answers," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said after watching the arguments. "Now I think its even harder to predict the result of this case after hearing this argument."

[Updated at 11:31 a.m. ET] Oral arguments have wrapped up, according to CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears. They went just a bit over schedule, lasting about one hour and 20 minutes.


[Updated at 11:23 a.m. ET] While we wait on word from the courthouse, consider this: A new CNN/ORC International Poll indicates that 53% of Americans support same-sex marriage. In the same survey, 57% of respondents said they had a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian.

Here's a look at the issue, by the numbers.

[Updated at 11:06 a.m. ET] The same-sex marriage debate is a huge issue, and the lawyers inside were penciled in for an hour to make their cases. Doesn't sound like much time, but to be fair, the oral arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") last March lasted roughly two hours.

Tomorrow's DOMA arguments have been given one hour and 50 minutes. We'll see if they stay on schedule today.

[Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET] If all is going to plan, Jean Podrasky, a lesbian whose first cousin happens to be Chief Justice John Roberts, is inside the court hearing the arguments.

"I know that my cousin is a good man," she wrote in an op-ed this week. "I feel confident that John is wise enough to see that society is becoming more accepting of the humanity of same-sex couples and the simple truth that we deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and equality under the law."

You might see a lot of red avatars with a “=” equal sign in your Twitter feed today. Supporters of marriage rights for same-sex couples are wearing red today to show their support – both on their persons and their social media accounts. That includes Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

FULL POST

March 18th, 2013
12:21 PM ET

Hillary Clinton backs same-sex marriage

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced for the first time Monday she supports marriage rights for same-sex couples, saying that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."

"America is at its best when we champion the freedom and dignity of every human being," Clinton said in a video produced by the Human Rights Campaign.

FULL STORY
March 15th, 2013
10:04 AM ET

Portman's marriage reversal gets mixed reaction

Hours after Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced he reversed his position on same-sex marriage, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he won't second guess Portman but he's not entirely embracing the Ohio senator's change of heart, either.

Portman told CNN's Dana Bash that after his 21-year-old son came out two years ago, he came to the conclusion that same-sex marriage "is something that we should allow people to do."

FULL STORY
March 15th, 2013
03:26 AM ET

Conservative's reversal on gay marriage

You probably recognize Sen. Rob Portman from his tireless campaigning for Mitt Romney in 2012. He was even on the short list to be Romney's running mate.

He's been a leading Republican voice on economic issues for four decades.

Now, the prominent Ohio conservative will be known for something else: reversing his hardline position against gay marriage.

He invited CNN to his Senate office to reveal the news.

"I'm announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about that has to do with gay couples' opportunity to marry," Portman told CNN.

It has to do with another revelation, one deeply personal. His 21-year-old son, Will, is gay.

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Ohio • Politics • Same-sex marriage
March 13th, 2013
03:41 AM ET

Survey: Can gay, straight Scouts share tent?

The questions go to the heart of the issue, presenting possible scenarios some may find challenging.

The Boy Scouts of America, now considering a change in the group's longstanding policy against allowing openly gay members, has sent out surveys to leaders and parents.

The survey asks nine questions on the issue that go beyond a simple yes or no. Among them: Is it acceptable or unacceptable for a gay scout and a straight scout to share a tent on an overnight camping trip?

The five multiple-choice answers range from "totally acceptable" to "totally unacceptable."

FULL STORY
Obama's same-sex marriage decision expected
Prop 8 and another appeal over the federal Defense of Marriage Act will produce blockbuster rulings from the justices in coming months.
February 28th, 2013
02:48 PM ET

Obama's same-sex marriage decision expected

President Barack Obama faces a monumental choice today over whether to put the force of his office behind the idea that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

Government sources say the Justice Department will by day's end articulate a legal position in the so-called Proposition 8 case, a ban by California voters over same-sex marriage that is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.

FULL STORY
Obama DOJ weighs in on marriage law
Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of New Jersey holds a gay marriage pride flag in front of the Supreme Court last fall (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
February 22nd, 2013
09:12 PM ET

Obama DOJ weighs in on marriage law

In a preview of a major constitutional showdown at the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, the Obama administration said Friday that a federal law denying financial benefits to legally wed gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.

The Justice Department filed the first of a series of briefs in a pair of cases dealing with the multi-layered issue, outlining the executive branch's positions.

The high court will hear oral arguments next month on the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 congressional law that says, for federal purposes, marriage is defined only as between one man and one woman.

FULL STORY
February 15th, 2013
10:08 PM ET

Publisher draws fire for hiring anti-gay writer on new 'Superman' series

A writer commissioned to help launch a new "Adventures of Superman" digital comics series is drawing controversy for the comics' publisher not for his perception of the Man of Steel, but for his perception of marriage - specifically, his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card has been commissioned by longtime "Superman" publisher DC Comics to write a two-part story launching its new "Adventures of Superman" digital series. Card is perhaps best known for the classic 1985 sci-fi novel "Ender's Game," but he also has sparked controversy with his outspoken criticism of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

In a 2004 essay titled "Homosexual 'Marriage' and Civilization," Card wrote, "... either civilized people will succeed in establishing a government that protects the family...or the politically correct barbarians will have complete victory over the family - and, lacking the strong family structure on which civilization depends, our civilization will collapse or fade away."

News that Card would be among writers on the new "Adventures of Superman" digital comics prompted marriage-equality group AllOut.org to launch a petition drive aimed at DC Comics.

FULL STORY


Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Media • Same-sex marriage
February 14th, 2013
04:59 PM ET

Illinois Senate passes same-sex marriage measure

The Illinois Senate passed a measure Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage, voting 34-21.

The state House will consider it next. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has indicated that he would sign the bill.

Illinois would be the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage, according to Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization.

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Illinois • Same-sex marriage
February 14th, 2013
01:22 AM ET

Illinois Senate to vote on same-sex marriage bill on Valentine's Day

The Illinois Senate will vote Thursday Valentine's Day on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

Because Democrats have supermajority control of the General Assembly, the measure is expected to be approved. After the Senate vote, the measure would be considered by the House.

Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has indicated he would sign the bill.

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Gender • U.S.
February 6th, 2013
10:34 AM ET

Boy Scouts delay vote on gay membership ban

We're going to have to wait a bit longer to see whether the Boy Scouts will drop their across-the-board ban on openly gay members.

The Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday delayed its vote on a proposal to let local troops decide whether to allow openly gay members and leaders.

The organization, which had been expected to vote Wednesday, said it needs more time to get input from its members. The vote will now be held in May.

"After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy," the group said Wednesday morning.

"To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns."

Read more about the delay here.

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Filed under: Boy Scouts • Gay and lesbian
February 5th, 2013
05:44 PM ET

Pentagon expected to expand benefits to same-sex spouses

Same-sex spouses of U.S. service members could soon be granted some benefits that they had been denied until now.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to announce this week that service members' same-sex spouses will receive some of those benefits, according to an Obama administration official.

The Pentagon has been reviewing what benefits it could extend without violating the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay rights groups have been calling for the change. Among the benefits gay rights groups say can be legally extended are housing on military bases, military ID cards to access on-base activities and programs, access to commissaries and the consideration of a same-sex spouse and family in duty assignments.

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Military • Pentagon • Same-sex marriage
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