Senate Passes Gay Rights Bill
Gay rights advocates should celebrate this week: In a historical legislation, the Senate passed a bill to forbid discrimination in the workplace based on sexual identity or gender. The vote was 64-32, with 10 Republicans joining all the Democrats in favor. The down side? The measure doesn’t appear to have much of a chance in the House, with John Boehner expressing concerns about “frivolous” lawsuits against businesses.
The fight for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act actually began 17 years ago, notes the Washington Post, but the legislation languished over that span. “Let freedom ring,” said chief sponsor Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, before the vote. “This is the right thing to do,” added John McCain before casting his own. Passage comes just days after Illinois lawmakers voted to become the 15th state to legalize gay marriage.
New Jersey OKs Gay Marriage
Chris Christie is not happy: As of Monday, gay couples can get married in New Jersey. NJ’s Supreme Court ruled 7-0 today to uphold a judge’s ruling that gay marriages can begin in the state on Monday, at least for now, NJ.com reports.
The court will make a final ruling next year. “The state has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: Same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,” the court ruled, reports the AP. “The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”
In September, a state superior court judge ruled that New Jersey’s same-sex couples were losing out on federal benefits and equal rights since the US struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Gov. Christie appealed, saying gay marriage should only be allowed by public vote. He also accused the Obama administration of denying rights to same-sex couples by not extending them to civil unions, which are considered equal in New Jersey.
New Jersey became the 13th state to OK gay marriage.
Wentworth Miller To Russia: No Thanks, I’m Gay
Didn’t this happen already? No?
Anyway, news that former Prison Break star Wentworth Miller just came out as gay are making waves online.
Wentworth was invited to attend the St. Petersburg International Film Festival in Russia and decided to decline… because of his sexual orientation.
“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,” the 41-year-old wrote to the festival’s director, which was posted on GLAAD’s website. “However, as a gay man, I must decline.”
The actor went on to explain:
I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.
Miller is of course referring to Russia’s new anti-gay laws, which are a ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” as part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values over Western liberalism, and prohibit the adoption of Russian-born children to national and international same-sex couples.
The actor concluded his letter by stating, “Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I’ll be free to make a different choice.”
Russian Runners Share Kiss To Protest Anti-Gay Policies
As the debate heats up over Russia’s anti-gay policies, two female Russian runners yesterday made a blunt political statement when they shared a kiss atop the winner’s podium at the World Athletics Championship in Moscow.
Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova had just won gold in the women’s 4X400 relay causing an uproar in anti-gay Russian groups.
Meanwhile, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko spoke out today, reports the AP, saying that Olympic athletes’ private lives won’t be subject to the law. “The freedoms of Russian and foreign athletes and guests who come to Sochi will be absolutely protected,” he said. But he showed no signs of softening with regard to athletes who might be inclined to make public statements: “We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations.”
Pope Francis: Gay People Are Not That Bad
Pope Francis gave his first news conference during his overnight flight back to the Vatican. When asked about a Vatican monsignor who is close to the pope and was said to have had gay sexual relationships years ago, Francis simply replied:
“Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? You can’t marginalize these people.”
Could this be a step forward?
The Wall Street Journal and CBS News stack his comments on gay priests next to previous ones to come from the Vatican (which called homosexuality a “disorder”) and Pope Benedict (who in 2005 signed a document stating that men with “deep-seated” homosexuality should not enter the priesthood).
The women were not so lucky: on the question of women as priests, Francis gave a firm no, saying the topic was “definitely” settled by Pope John Paul II. Yet, he added, “we cannot limit the role of women in the Church to altar girls or the president of a charity, there must be more.”
Ted Allen Gets Engaged To Boyfriend Of 20 Years
Ted Allen celebrated the death of DOMA yesterday with an announcement of his own
“Proud to announce on this historic day that my partner of 20 years, Barry Rice, and I are engaged to be married. ” the Chopped host tweeted on Wednesday.
Allen and Rice have been residing in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed a marriage-equality bill, paving the right for gay couples to legally marry, in 2011.
Jason Collins breaks barriers by announcing he’s gay
Washington Wizards center Jason Collins has announced that he’s gay, thus becoming the first active player in the four major American sports leagues to do so. Look for many more to now follow Collins’ lead.
Collins revealed the news in an article for Sports Illustrated … saying, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. … He continued, “I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.
“I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”
Collins — and his twin brother Jarron — have been high profile athletes since high school … when they were two of the highest rated prep players in the country. They both went on to become standouts at Stanford … and were each drafted into the NBA in 2001. Jason says he didn’t come out to his twin until last summer, and Jarron was “astounded.”
He described how he lived a “double life,” even getting engaged at one point.
“When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue,” he said.
Collins has played for six NBA teams in his career. The Boston Celtics traded him to the Wizards earlier this season in exchange for guard Jordan Crawford. He’s currently a free agent.
“Now I’m a free agent, literally and figuratively. I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.”
As to why he opted to address his sexuality now, Collins says that he was partly inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings: “It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.”
Former NBA player John Amaechi, who came out as gay after he retired, tweeted his congratulations to Collins.
Zenit St Petersburg Fans Demand White Only Team
Russians are taking intolerance to the next level after soccer authorities received a letter from fans of one of Russia’s biggest teams demanding the club exclude non-white and gay players.
According to the BBC, Zenit St. Petersburg’s largest supporters’ group issued an open letter to the team saying black players were “forced down Zenit’s throat” and gay players are “unworthy of our great city.” The team, winners of the Russian Premier League last year, was the only one in the league without a black player before two signings earlier this year.
Zenit’s Italian head coach described the fans’ letter as “stupidity” and pledged to support efforts to tackle racism. He told The Guardian, “Tolerance for me is most of all the ability to understand and accept differences,” adding “I can personally assure you that I will do everything I can to help those who seek to explain to people what tolerance is, and the need to respect other cultures and traditions.” The chief of Russia’s soccer players and coaches union suggested that foreign players boycott the league until authorities get serious about addressing the racism issue.