Obama Speaks of Gay RIghts in Inaugural Address

gay_rightsIn what will surely become an historic inaugural address, President Barack Obama made two strong mentions of gay rights.  According to Politico, Obama “became the first president to use the word “gay” in an inaugural address in reference to sexual orientation, making two references to gay rights as he began his second term.”

The first reference, mid way through his address, was to Stonewall and the riots that took place there in 1969.  The riots were spurred by a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in Greenwich Village.  The Stonewall riots were a pivotal moment in the gay rights movement.

Obama referenced Stonewall in the same sentence in which he also referenced  Seneca Falls (the site of the 1848 Women’s Rights convention) and Selma (where Alabama state troops attacked civil rights marchers in 1965).

The second reference came in the next section of the address:

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

I am overjoyed that President Obama acknowledged the struggles of the gay and lesbian community not once but twice in his inaugural address.  This is a good day, America.

Watch the video on Politico.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Defense Budget Bill Includes ‘Conscience’ Provision

Gay MilitaryAccording to a top House Democrat on defense issues, the final version of major Pentagon budget legislation includes watered-down “conscience” language similar to the anti-gay provision found in the House version of the bill.

Language similar to — but more limited than — Section 536 of the House bill was included in the conference report for the fiscal year 2013 defense authorization bill, according to Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Language prohibiting same-sex marriages from taking place on military bases was removed from the final version of the bill, according to Smith.

According to the Washington Blade, Smith said:

“We struck the second provision.  There is modified conscience clause language still in the bill … Basically, you can believe what you believe and not be punished for it, but if your actions based on those beliefs are counter to the Uniform Code of Military Justice or counter to what’s necessary, that can be held against you. But you can’t be punished solely for your beliefs. We modified that first language, struck the second language.”

Smith added that he does not personally support the ‘conscience’ language of the bill and feels it does not belong in the bill.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

LGBT Asylees Win Life in U.S. After Persecution Abroad

The Nigerian Senate has passed a bill that criminalizes homosexuality, forcing even families to report their loved ones if they are in same-sex relationships. Its House of Representatives will soon vote on it.  Many LGBT people are seeking asylum in the United States.

Here’s a link to an ABC News story that is quite potent:

LGBT Asylees Win Life in U.S. After Persecution Abroad

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

Tie the Knot’s Fall/Winter Collection Proceeds to Benefit Human Rights Campaign

For those who have not yet heard of Tie the Knot, it was launched by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Mitchell on ABC’s Modern Family, and his fiancé Justin Mikitaa.  According to the duo, “the goal of Tie the Knot is clear: to advocate for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans throughout the United States and to look damn good while doing it.”

The project sells unique bow ties with all proceeds donated to organizations that fight for lesbian and gay civil rights.  The proceeds of the fall/winter 2012 collection will go to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Here’s what Jesse and Justin have to say about their organization:


For those who have no idea how to tie a bow tie, fear not.  Tie the Knot has released a nifty how-to video:

Kudos to Tie the Knot for their efforts to support lesbian and gay rights!

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

Election 2012 Victories for the LGBT Community!

With the 2012 elections now over, it is time to rejoice in the victories.  President Obama will serve 4 more years.  That is good news for the LGBT community. At least we don’t have to worry about an anti-marriage amendment for the next 4 years.

Maine and Maryland were victorious in ballot measures legalizing same-sex marriage in those states.  Minnesota’s voters struck down a proposed amendment that would limit marriage to one man and one woman.  Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard on those causes.  Three very solid victories!  It appears that Washington voters are also in the process of approving a referendum to allow same-sex marriage in that state (results won’t be final until some time today).

Openly gay legislators were elected last night, making for a more diverse and representative governing body.  Tammy Baldwin will be the first openly gay U.S. Senator!  What a strong victory for the LGBT community!  Can you tell I’m thrilled?

While preparing for the next election, it is your duty to educate as many people as you can about the issues faced by the LGBT community and why equality matters.  It’s not too early to start.  In fact, the earlier you start, the more you will prevail.  So don’t waste a moment.  Have every conversation you can possibly have with as many people as you can.  Arm yourself with solid information.  Give them copies of fact sheets and articles that discuss the LGBT issues of inequality and make them understand that when they vote, these important issues must be considered as well.

Congratulations to the entire LGBT community.  2012 will go down in history as being a year of victories!

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Brad Pitt to Match HRC Contributions

Human Rights Campaign

“This is our last chance to make a difference. If you’re like me, you don’t want to have to ask yourself on the day after the election, what else could I have done?” – Brad Pitt

Make an urgent gift to HRC’s national marriage fund in the next 24 hours, and Brad Pitt will double it – all the way up to $100,000.

Donate Now

It’s unbelievable to me that people’s lives and relationships are literally being voted on in a matter of days.

In Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, voters will go to the polls to decide if gay and lesbian couples – our friends and neighbors – are worthy of the same protections as everyone else.

But that’s the system we have and I’m not going to back down from the fight for loving and committed couples to have the ability to marry. Especially when groups like the Human Rights Campaign are fighting these battles day-in and day-out.

So, here’s what I’m going to do. If you make a contribution to these ballot measure campaigns in the next 24 hours, I’ll double it – every dollar of the way, up to $100,000.

This is our last chance to make a difference. If you’re like me, you don’t want to have to ask yourself on the day after the election, what else could I have done?

Every person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in our country’s Declaration of Independence, but powerful, well-funded groups are flooding the airwaves with lies trying to take away those rights from certain people… and we can’t stand for it.

Let’s make history together.

Contribute to HRC’s National Marriage Fund right now, just as I’ve done, and together we’ll put our country on the path to the day when there are no second-class citizens.

Thanks,
Brad Pitt

Donate Now

 

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Romney Believes States Should Decide if Gay Couples Have Hospital Visitation “Benefits”

Okay folks, we’re getting down to the wire now.  If you are still undecided, this just might change your mind.  If not, pass it on to someone you know who is leaning toward Romney.  Scary stuff.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Romney  adviser Bay Buchanan told Chris Geidner:

“Governor Romney also believes, consistent with the 10th Amendment, that it should be left to states to decide whether to grant same-sex couples certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights and the ability to adopt children.”

Benefits?  Romney’s stance on lesbian and gay issues is clear.  He opposes gay marriage and would fight for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage country-wide.  Now he further insults the LGBT community by referring to what should be rights as benefits?  Some sort of privilege?    Help!

Read: Romney May Stop Hospital Visitation for Gay Couples

Meanwhile, you and your partner should execute a document granting each other the authority to visit each other in case of emergency hospital treatment.  As a lawyer, I routinely prepare such a document (among others) for my lesbian and gay couples.  Read more about documents of protectionfor lesbians and gays in Connecticut on my website. 

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

LGBT Issues Not Discussed at 2nd Presidential Debate

In an election year in which LGBT issues have figured prominently, the LGBT community is rather miffed that issues such as same-sex marriage and the repeal of DOMA were never explicitly discussed at the 2nd presidential debate.  According to the Washington Blade,

“Romney never explicitly said he was excluding opposite-sex couples when touting the importance of a “two-parent family” as the correct way to raise children, but didn’t take the opportunity to say that marriage should be between one man, one woman.”

The Blade also observed that,

“President Obama made a reference to opposing discrimination during the presidential debate in response to a question on pay equity for women, though he said nothing explicit on LGBT issues.”

Obama has expressed his support of LGBT issues throughout the campaign.  Romney has expressed that he does not support gay marriage and would, in fact, support a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage throughout the country.

For more, read:   LGBT issues again absent from prez debate

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Come On Out for National Coming Out Day!

Today is National Coming Out Day.  It’s a special day in the GLBT community.  If you’re a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person who is not yet out, today is the day to shout it out to the world and be yourself.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has some wonderful guides to help you.  You may download the free guides from their Coming Out Center or view them online in virtual format.

The HRC also offers a guide, published in conjunction with PFLAG, for the straight supporters in your life.  They can download the free guide, Coming Out as a Straight Supporter or read the virtual edition online.  Be sure to pass it on to all of your straight friends, colleagues, neighbors and family members.  In this critical election year, the support of straight allies is more important than ever.

So wherever you are, whatever you’re doing today … Come on OUT!

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

How did Companies Do with their LGBT-Inclusive Policies in 2012?

If you’re interested in how corporate America scored in terms of those companies with (or without) LGBT-inclusive policies, you should give the HRC’s 2012 Corporate Equality Index a read.  Published each fall, the index “provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.”

The index is available for download as a .pdf file or you may choose to read the virtual edition online:

Download Corporate Equality Index 2012  (give it a moment, it’s a large file)

Read the virtual edition of Corporate Equality Index 2012

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.