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The L-Word

the lesbian voice of the northcoast
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The L-Word is a monthly publication based out of Humboldt County, CA written by and for local queers highlighting local and international events and hot topics.

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Queer News

the other Barb (t.o.b.) has been giving us highlights of what's happening in queer life all over for most of the L-Word's existence. And we're finally getting that on line. We'll put last month's queer news here somewhere close to the beginning of every month--so if you want to really be currant you'll have to subscribe but if you don't mind being a little behind you can get it here.

January 2011

Prop. 8 Likely to be  Struck Down By Circuit Court

In early December the three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments concerning the fate of Proposition 8, the 2008 California referendum that banned same-sex marriage.  The question was whether to uphold or overturn the judgment of U. S. district court judge Vaughn Walker, who ruled in August of this year that Proposition 8 violated the constitutional rights of California’s same-sex couples. Judge Vaughn Walker wrote, "Prop. 8 both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."  In the appeals hearing, which was broadcast on C-Span, the three judges -- Michael Daly Hawkins, Stephen R. Reinhardt, and N. Randy Smith--dismantled with their questions the claims of the defenders of Prop. 8, and it seems likely that they will rule to uphold Judge Walker’s ruling.  Charles Cooper, the lawyer defending Prop. 8, argued that marriage exists for society to recognize male-female relationships that can lead to children.  Judge Reinhardt replied, “That sounds like a good argument for prohibiting divorce. But how does it relate to having two males and two females marry each other and raise children as they can in California and form a family unit where children have a happy, healthy home?"  Theodore Olson, representing the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, argued that Prop. 8 attacks a right that that the Supreme Court has said is fundamental, sexual conduct between consenting adults of any gender. How, he argued, can you take away marriage rights because of a Constitutionally protected activity. The plaintiffs’ lawyers cited cases involving interracial marriage and the 14th Amendment, which accords all individuals the right to marry.  Also at issue was who has the right to appeal Judge Walker’s decision, since ProtectMarriage, the official proponent of Prop. 8, could not show how allowing gay people to marry would harm them in any way.  Since the Governor and Attorney-General refused to defend Prop. 8, a deputy clerk from Imperial County stepped forward to argue that repealing Prop. 8 directly affects her job since she would have to sign marriage certificates.  Such lame arguments seemed not to sway the three judges.  The question is how far will they go in striking down Prop. 8.  It seems likely that they will uphold Walker’s decision without making a broader ruling that gay marriage is constitutionally protected and must be all over the U.S.  However they word their ruling, it is certainly headed for the U. S. Supreme Court, and if they too agree that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional, it will be the death knell for the Defense of Marriage Act and all the state amendments and laws that ban same-sex marriage.  Sources: San Francisco Bay Guardian,, Mercury News, Huffington Post, ABC News

2010:  Gay Marriage Around the World

2010 was a good year for gay marriage rights.  In January a registered partnership law became effective in Austria.  In March Slovenia’s lower house passed a same-sex marriage law.  In May President Anibal Cavaco Silva ratified same-sex marriage legislation in Portugal, making it the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage. In June the government of Iceland passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, and Johanna Sigurdardottir, their prime minister, became the first head of government to enter into a same-sex marriage.  In July the Irish Seanad passed a civil partnership law.   In July Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the President of Argentina, signed into law a same-sex marriage bill.  In August the Supreme Court of Mexico upheld a Mexico City law that permitted married same-sex couples to adopt children and that all 31 states in Mexico must recognize the same-sex marriages performed legally in Mexico City.   Source: Wikipedia

2010:  Gay Rights In Africa

Africa is a continent on which gay rights definitely decreased in 2010.  The BBC has estimated that homosexuality is outlawed in 38 of its 54 countries.  The only bright spot is South Africa, whose post-apartheid constitution guarantees gay and lesbian rights and legal same-sex marriage. Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigeria have laws making homosexuality punishable by death.  In Uganda, homosexuals face life imprisonment.  American evangelicals went to Uganda to encourage them to propose a new bill that would raise the penalty for being gay to death.  A Ugandan newspaper published a photo spread of 100 gays with the headline, “Kill Them!”  In an international survey of public opinion about homosexuality, Kenya ranked lowest in the world.  The countries of Angola, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal also ranked 15% or lower in public acceptance of homosexuality.  Sources: Wikipedia,, democracynow

2010:  Gay Rights in California

According to Equality California, twenty-five pieces of legislation passed the California legislature in 2010 that benefit gays and lesbians.  Among those are the creation of Harvey Milk Day, bills that make it easier for youth to access mental health services, close the gap between domestic partnership and marriage, assurance of equal rights for same-sex couples married out of state, and a purging of California’s codes of discriminatory language (such as referring to “curing homosexuality”).  For more details on these bills and for information on how your legislators voted, go to www. eqca. org / publications for their 2010 legislative scorecard. Source:  EQCA

2010:  Who’s Out Now?

The biggest celebrity to admit to being gay in 2010 was singer Ricky Martin, who in March confirmed what many had suspected. “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am," Martin wrote to his fans on his blog.  Martin is the father of twin sons, who were born via a surrogate in 2008. He says he is in a relationship, but prefers to keep it out of the spotlight.  Sean Hayes, who played a gay character Jack on “Will and Grace,” finally admitted in April what everyone assumed already, that he is gay. Country music singer Chely Wright made headlines this year by admitting she is a lesbian.  Wright was named Top New Female Vocalist in 1995 by the Academy of Country Music.  Meredith Baxter, best known for playing the mother on the sitcom “Family Ties,” revealed this year that she is a lesbian and has lived with her partner since 2005.  Actress Amber Heard came out at the 2010  GLAAD anniversary event. In May Chastity Bono officially became female-to-male transgender person, Chaz Bono.  Bono is the offspring of Sonny and Cher. Sources:,

Florida Overturns Gay Adoption Ban

A three-judge appellate court panel ruled against Florida’s 1997 ban on adoption by gays and lesbians, stating there was no “rational basis” for the law.  Governor Charlie Crist and AG Bill McCollum both stated that they will not appeal the ruling in the case filed by the ACLU on behalf of a Miami man who wished to adopt the two children he and his partner had been raising for six years.  Florida was the only state with a blanket ban against adoption by gay people. In Arkansas and Utah, any unmarried straight or gay couple is barred from adopting or fostering children.  Mississippi bans gay couples, but not single gays, from adopting.   Source:  Miami Herald, Huffington Post

U.N. Restores Protection for Sexual Orientation

On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly voted 122 to 0 (with 59 nations abstaining) to restore the phrase "sexual orientation" to a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The resolution urges countries to protect the right to life of all people, including by calling on states to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds, and for ten years the resolution has included sexual orientation. But in November 2010 the reference to sexual orientation was removed at the committee level with an amendment sponsored by Benin on behalf of the African Group in the UN Assembly. The removal was also supported by the United Arab Emirates. The representative from Zimbabwe likened homosexuality to bestiality. The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) immediately protested the removal. Said Cary Alan Johnson, Exec. Dir. of IGLHRC, "This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development. It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people - a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality." Said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "Laws that criminalize gay relationships don't just violate human rights, they hinder social cohesion, economic development, and public health." The U.S. was able to persuade Albania, Rwanda and South Africa to vote for the inclusion.

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