Boy Scouts of America Delays vote on Gay Scouts

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Despite receiving the signatures of more than a million people from around the country who support a lift on the ban keeping gay members and leaders from joining the  Boy Scouts of America, its national executive board has decided to delay a vote on the matter until May. They also decided to keep the discriminatory ban in place until the matter has been voted on.

On Monday various organizations delivered over 1.4 million signatures asking scout leadership to end the ban.

“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,” Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement this morning.

According to NBC News’ Pete Williams,”The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.”

President Obama lent his support for ending the ban on Sunday. The President told CBS News,”The Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives, and I think nobody should be barred from that.”

The organization’s 1,400 voting  members of the national council are expected to take up the matter when they meet in Texas this spring.

Click HERE to learn more on how you can help convince the scouts to do the right thing.

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Number 8: Maryland Lawmakers say,”I Do” to Marriage Equality

Maryland is poised to become the eighth state in the Union to allow same-sex couples to marry. On a vote of 25-22, the Senate passed the legislation Thursday evening.

Maryland’s Governor, Gov. Martin O’Malley, plans on signing the bill within a week.

“All children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home, protected equally under the law,” O’Mally said in a statement following Thursday’s vote.

The bill narrowly passed Maryland’s House of Delegates last Friday.

Two weeks ago, lawmakers in Washington State passed a similar measure, which was signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire during an emotional ceremony in Olympia.

Lawmakers in New Jersey also passed a marriage equality bill but it was vetoed  last week by N.J. Governor Chris Christie.

Six states and the District of Columbia  already allow same-sex marriage.

According to CNN: “Legislation [has also been] introduced recently to allow same-sex marriages in Illinois, and bills from 2011 remain technically active in Hawaii and Minnesota. An effort is also underway to put a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage on the November ballot in Maine.”

As for when wedding bells will ring in Maryland, that is  still anybody’s guess, “Implementation of the measure is far from certain. Even supporters concede that the law will likely be petitioned to referendum, and they expect Maryland voters to have the final say in November. The legislation has an effective date of January 2013 — well after the November election,” reports the Baltimore Sun.

Add the Words, Idaho Plans Silent Protest and Candlelight Vigil at GOP Lincoln Day Dinner

When the Republican majority of the Senate State Affairs committee voted not to print a bill that would amend Idaho’s human rights act, many thought the issue was over for the session.

It turns out that wasn’t the case.  In the weeks following the hearing those pushing for the  legislation have continued placing sticky notes on state house doors, they’ve met with signs at political events and they’ve silently protested in order to let the Senate leadership know that, for the LGBT community at least, the issue is still very much on the table.

The community has been trying to gain a public hearing for the bill for the past six years.  Despite positing hundreds of sticky notes from citizens across Idaho, as well as heavy turn out at rallies in 14 cities during a day of action last month, GOP lawmakers once again told the community, “no”.

When supporters gather at the high-profile Ada County Lincoln Day Dinner on Thursday night, February 23rd, the message will be the same one it has been since volunteers began the Add the Words campaign last October,”pass the bill.”

Ironically, had he lived in present day Idaho,Lincoln himself could be fired, lose his housing and be refused service based solely on the appearance of his own behavior of sleeping with another man.

Supporters say the pressure on the legislature for a rehearing for the Add the Words bill is growing and is only getting stronger,”Our goal in “protesting” at these events is to show that Add the Words is not giving up! We want our voices to be heard and we want Idaho’s gay and transgender citizens to be protected!,” says organizer Lisa Perry.

Those wishing to participate in the protest should meet outside the front entrance of the Boise Center on the grove between 5:30 and 7:30 pm. According to a Facebook event page,”Electric candles and cups will be provided. Please dress warm.”

Click HERE for More info.

If you can’t make it, please take a moment and call or write the six committee members and ask them to reconsider their votes:

Sen. McKenzie: CMckenzie@senate.idaho.gov (208) 367-9400
Sen. Lodge: PALodge@senate.idaho.gov
Sen. Winder: CWinder@senate.idaho.gov (208) 343-2300
Sen. Fulcher: Rfulcher@senate.idaho.gov (208) 332-1340
Sen Davis: BMDavis@senate.idaho.gov (208) 522-8100
Sen. Hill: BHill@senate.idaho.gov (208) 356-3677

Marriage Watch: Christie No; Maryland Yes

Marriage equality backers took to the social networking sites  on Friday to blast New Jersey’s Republican Governor, Chris Christie, for vetoing a bill that would have allowed for same-sex marriage in his state.

Though the veto surprised no one, those who support the legislation say they are disappointed. In a statement following the veto, Freedom to Marry founder and President Evan Wolfson wrote,”By vetoing the bill that would ensure that all loving, committed New Jersey couples and their families can share in the freedom to marry, with all its protections and meaning, Governor Christie planted his feet firmly on the wrong side of history.  Fortunately, his ‘no’ will not be America’s – or New Jersey’s – last word.  It is simply an obstacle we overcome as we continue on the road to liberty and justice for all.”

Not even the plea of fellow Governor and Roman Catholic Christine Gregoire  could persuade Christie not to veto the bill, which passed 42:43 in the assembly on Thursday.

Following the vote thousands of equality supporters too to Twitter to trend #ShameOnYouChris.

Christie’s action, “sets the stage for work to line up the votes needed to override the veto and make the bill law,” writes Wolfson.

It wasn’t all bad news on Friday, however,  a similar bill  made it past the House of Delegates in Maryland.  the bill will now be sent to the Senate, which, according to the Washington Post, “approved a similar measure last year.”

Ron Paul: No Real Threat To LGBT Community But Not a Friend Either

Make no mistake about it: Idahoans love Ron Paul. Gay people, straight people, libertarians, conservatives and even a few progressives agree that he’d make a great candidate if he weren’t so, as one friend put it, “out there.”

It’s kind of hard to argue with a guy who believes that the government should get out of the drug war business, a guy who opposed the occupation of  BOTH Afghanistan and Iraq and who believes in maximizing personal freedom.

When it comes to issues of equality though, Paul has been kind with his votes, but not so kind with his political philosophies.

Paul’s LGBT supporters are quick to point out that he not only voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004, he also voted to repeal the Pentagon’s discriminatory  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

Dig a little deeper though and one finds enough material to set off a glitter bomb.

John Becker with Truth Wins Out writes,”On his best days, Ron Paul supports the so-called “states’ rights” position regarding marriage equality. On his worst, he has specifically bragged about his efforts to obstruct and attack LGBT people’s civil rights and gone out of his way to slander and mischaracterize LGBT people.”

Becker then goes on to list a few less-than-LGBT-friendly facts:

1. “Paul’s Iowa state director is Mike Heath, a long-term Christian-right activist who formerly served as the board chairman of an SPLC-certified anti-gay hate group known as “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.”

2. “Paul has a long history of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments.”

3. “Paul supports the so-called “states’ rights” approach to marriage, but interestingly, only for LGBT couples.”

4.”Paul’s presidential campaign issued a flyer that boasted about the candidate’s efforts to introduce legislation that would remove challenges to the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act from the federal court system.”

5. “Paul has a long history of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments.”

6. “Paul opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers.”

That last item should ring a bell to Idaho’s LGBT community. It’s the federal version of the same policy that we have been fighting for here in Idaho for the past six years.

According to Gay City News,”Paul’s scores on a number of issues with Human Rights Campaign have averaged just over 33 out of 100 over the past five Congresses and ranged from zero in the 107th Congress to 59 in the 111th Congress, which included 2009 and 2010.”

Slate Magazine’s David Weigel writes,” In 1994 Paul argued that “those who don’t commit sodomy, who don’t get blood transfusions, and who don’t swap needles, are virtually assured of not getting AIDS unless they are deliberately infected by a malicious gay.” The same year, he doubted that older gays worried too much if they got AIDS; “sex is the center of their lives,” he explained, and anyway, “they enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.”

Not exactly the type of guy you would want hanging out at your PFLAG group.

Still, most LGBT leaders consider Paul a small threat when it comes to more mainstream candidates like Rick Santorum.

Sex advice columnist Dan Savage tells Weigal,“There is no comparing Paul and Santorum,  because Paul is a leave-us-alone libertarian. Ron is older than my father, far less toxic than Santorum, and, as he isn’t beloved of religious conservatives, he isn’t out there stoking the hatreds of our social and political enemies.” he explained. “Ron may not like gay people, and may not want to hang out with us or use our toilets, but he’s content to leave us the fuck alone.”

Idaho’s LGBT community will get their chance to mingle with Paul and his supporters twice this week. The first, this Thursday, February 16th at Roper Auditorium. Doors open at 10:45 a.m., and Paul is scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m.

Paul will also be speaking in Boise this Saturday at a yet-to-be scheduled event.
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