Wednesday, February 18, 2009

HRC Update

(Human Rights Campaign)

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today issued a statewide action alert in Utah supporting Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. (R-Utah) and Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative, which sought to advance equal rights for all Utahns. The HRC alert is in response to an advertisement purchased in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News by the hate group called “America Forever.” The full-page ad which misrepresents the legislative package proclaims, “Shame on Governor Huntsman for… endorsing the Common Ground Initiative.” To view the action alert online, visit:

“We will not sit by while extremists buy advertisements to distort our lives and spread outrageous lies attempting to dehumanize an entire group of Americans,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We want to thank Governor Huntsman for supporting protections for our community and refusing to ignore the inequities LGBT Utah residents face everyday. We commend him for standing with Equality Utah in backing 'Common Ground' legislation to improve the lives of LGBT residents and their families.”

In the paid advertisement, the “America Forever” hate group purposely promotes lies and distortions, including the following:

1. Lie: If LGBT people are protected by antidiscrimination laws, they will have more rights than other people and employers, neighbors and others will be forced to tolerate inappropriate sexual conduct.

Truth: Including sexual orientation and gender identity in antidiscrimination laws protects everyone –straight or gay, transgender or not— from being fired, refused service, or denied housing just because of who they are. This legislation has nothing to do with inappropriate behavior in the workplace or common living areas, and their claims are refuted by decades of experience in 20 states and hundreds of municipalities with non-discrimination measures in place.

2. Lie: Allowing the government to redefine marriage hurts children because children need a mother and father to do well in life.

Truth: All scientifically reputable studies on the subject of same-sex parenting show that the sexual orientation of a child’s parent does not affect a child. Furthermore, all leading children’s welfare and rights organizations conclude that there is no measurable difference between children raised by loving lesbian and gay parents and those raised by different-sex couples.

3. Lie: The ad claims that the “reality of the gay movement” is revealed by a “Homosexual Declaration of War,” which states that “we will sodomize your children. All churches who condemn us will be closed.”

Truth: The quote is from a satirical piece published by Michael Swift of Gay Community News in 1987, a piece that also called for a new society “governed by an elite comprised of gay poets.” It was intended as humor, and to distort it into actual LGBT goals is absurd.

In the wake of last November’s vote on Proposition 8, a measure seeking to amend California’s constitution to eliminate marriage by gay and lesbian couples, Equality Utah and pro-equality legislators in Utah proposed the Common Ground Initiative, a set of measures aimed at advancing equal rights for LGBT people in Utah. The initiative was designed as a response to statements by leaders of the LDS Church that despite their campaign and financial support of Prop 8, the church does not oppose civil unions or other measures aimed at basic LGBT equality.

The Common Ground Initiative included a package of legislative bills that would have:

• Provided domestic partnership rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples;

• Added sexual orientation and gender identity to Utah’s anti-discrimination laws for employment, housing, and health care;

• Given domestic partners of public employees insurance and retirement benefits.

• Given domestic partners access to the courts if their loved one is killed because of negligence or malpractice; and

• Repealed the second clause of Utah’s Anti-Marriage Amendment which is used to prevent gay and lesbian couples from receiving any kind of relationship recognition in the state. ...

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, today issued a statement on recent developments in the Indiana state legislature. Indiana’s Senate Republican Caucus voted this week not to consider a resolution that would have proposed amending the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. This vote means the amendment is unlikely to advance during this legislative session. The resolution would require approval by the Senate and House in two consecutive legislative sessions, and, if approved, would then go before the voters.

“The Human Rights Campaign is glad to see that this divisive, unnecessary amendment appears to have stalled,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We congratulate Indiana Equality, its coalition partners, HRC members and others throughout the state who urged their legislators to reject this resolution.”

Indiana Equality Action Vice-President Randy Studt said, “Indiana Equality is glad to see that the Senate has finally decided this issue is unworthy of their time, after passing a similar measure on four occasions. We appreciate the calls and emails by our supporters to help defeat this measure.”

HRC is proud to be a coalition partner with Indiana Equality, working to oppose the proposed amendment. HRC organized its members to contact their legislators, urging them to oppose the resolution. Nearly 800 HRC members in Indiana took this action.

The Senate Republican Caucus’s vote appears to have effectively killed the proposed amendment for this legislative session. Similar measures were also introduced in the Indiana House of Representatives, but House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer has indicated that they will not be considered this session. The legislative session is scheduled to end in late April 2009.

Indiana statutory law already prohibits marriage by gay or lesbian couples. The resolution, which sought to place the proposed amendment before voters, would have written this prohibition into the state constitution and also threatened to prohibit other forms of relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples.

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