Las Vegas Church Stands By Martin Ssempa
July 1st, 2010
That’s the upshot of this report by Jason Whited that appeared in today’s edition of Las Vegas CityLife, the city’s weekly alternative paper. Whited reported on Canyon Ridge Christin Church’s support for Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, an ardent campaigner for that country’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Controversy over the church’s support for Ssempa has simmered for several months, but bubbled over when it was learned that the same church which supported Uganda’s efforts to kill and/or imprison gay people would also play host to free HIV testing on June 27 as part of National HIV Testing Day.
Whited spoke to Mitch Harrison, executive pastor at Canyon Ridge, who defended their support for Ssempa:
Church leaders said they support Ssempa financially, but they refused to say how much they give to his ministry. Mitch Harrison, an executive pastor at Canyon Ridge, said activists have it all wrong. He said Ssempa actually opposes the more disturbing aspects of the Ugandan legislation that demands the death penalty for homosexuals who molest children or rape the handicapped.
We have gone over this dozens of times before. But every time I see someone misrepresent the bill, I feel compelled to go over it again. Harrison is either misinformed or completely lying about the bill, the text of which we’ve posted online numerous times. For the sake of transparency, here is the relevant portion once again:
3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the
(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;
(b) offender is a person living with HIV;
(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;
(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;
(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;
(f) offender is a serial offender, or
(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,
(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.
(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.
As you can see, the provisions concerning child sexual abuse and “raping the handicapped” are a red herring. The provision against having sex with a disabled person doesn’t take consent into account. And other provisions of Ugandan law already prohibit sex with a minor, regardless of gender. The death penalty is clearly aimed at gay people, particularly those who are HIV-positive or “serially” gay — which pretty much opens the death penalty up to just about anyone. Despite claims to the contrary, the bill has not been officially modified nor has the death penalty been dropped. It’s very disappointing that the enterprising reporter didn’t catch the good pastor on that bit of misrepresentation.
Pastor Harrison continues:
“This year, we’ve had discussions with Martin about [the legislation], and I can tell you what’s being reported about him in the American media is wrong,” Harrison said. “He’s repeatedly said he wants the death penalty [provision] removed and that he’s not in favor of death for [homosexuals].”
Despite the hysteria among some left-leaning talking heads, official documents back up Harrison’s claim. In letters to his supporters and in official policy statements, Ssempa — who heads up a Ugandan AIDS eradication effort funded by both the U.S. government and popular evangelicals such as Rick Warren — walked back some of his earlier support for the Ugandan bill.
Longtime BTB readers will be interested to learn that we are among the hysterical “left-leaning talking heads.” It appears that the reporter relied rather heavily in a couple of pieces of paper provided by Canyon Ridge instead of the extensively documented words taken directly from Ssempa himself. Ssempa’s active campaign on behalf of the bill can be traced all the way back to a march he led in April, 2009, some six months before the bill was introduced in Parliament. That’s when he and a handful of others garnered local media attention by “storming Parliament” and demanding that Uganda’s already tough laws against homosexuality be strengthened. Depending on which statute the individual is prosecuted under, he could be liable for twenty years or lifetime imprisonment under current laws. There is, in fact, little room to strengthen the law except to add the death penalty and change the definitions of the law to make prosecution much easier. Which, in fact, is only part of of what the final bill would actually do.
But Ssempa’s campaign on behalf of the “kill-the-gays” bill picked up in earnest in October 2009, shortly after the bill was introduced in Uganda’s Parliament. That’s when he made a statement to Dr. Warren Throckmorton, saying “I am in total support of the bill and would be most grateful if it did pass.” That bill, of course, famously included (and still includes) the death penalty provisions I’ve quoted above.
Since the bill’s introduction, Ssempa has repeatedly pushed for the bill’s immediate passage without delay or modification. In exclusive video provided to BTB on Dec 23, Ssempa is seen in local news reports attending a meeting with Ugandan Parliament leaders urging fast-tracking of the bill. He also denounced President Barack Obama’s statement against the proposed legislation, accusing the White House of “preach[ing] a gospel of sodomy.” On Dec 27, Ssempa appeared on state-owned UBC television alongside the bill’s sponsor, MP David Bahati, where the two of them repeated the false claim that the death penalty applied only to rape or child sexual abuse, despite the very clear and plain English of the bill itself. And ever since then, Ssempa has made it his habit to repeatedly try to explain away the death penalty as though it didn’t actually apply to gay people — the same misrepresentation made by Canyon Ridge’s pastor. It appears that they are both reading from the same fraudulent paper.
Back to Ssempa. On December 30, he called for a massive rally to push for the bill’s passage by Easter. The following day, Ssempa released a video statement addressed to his former supporter, Saddleback pastor Rick Warren, in which Ssempa again falsely claimed that the death penalty would apply only to rape or child sexual abuse. On Feb 16, Ssempa led his promised rally in the city of Jinja, again calling for the bill’s immediate passage, death penalty and all. On March 8, Ssempa had the chutzpah to once again repeat those very same lies about the bill’s death penalty provisions right here on Box Turtle Bulletin. By then, we were regularly challenging him to quote from the text of the bill itself and openly taunting his refusal to do so. It wasn’t until March 12 that Ssempa relented and decided that he would not support the death penalty.
But despite the fact that the bill still has not been modified, Ssempa still — still! — continues to defend the bill and call for its passage, death penalty and all.
As for Pastor Harrison’s claim that Ssempa has “said he wants the death penalty [provision] removed,” well there is evidence that he has called for it once or twice. Maybe that qualifies as “repeatedly,” but it hardly stacks up against the many more times he has called for the bill’s swift passage in its current form and lied about what that current form is — a lie repeated, knowingly or unknownly, by Harrison himself.
After all the close scrutiny we’ve given developments in Uganda and the literally hundreds of stories we’ve written on the subject, it is very disheartening to see a paper which sees itself as a heavy-hitting investigative news outlet give defenders of imprisoning and killing gay people such a soft ride. It’s as if that one sheath of paper from Ssempa dated March 12 somehow obliterated the active campaigning Ssempa has done for the unmodified bill, both before and since then. One sheet of paper makes him less odious and his critics “hysterical.” But when that paper is accompanied by the same blatant misrepresentation of what the plain English of the bill actually says, there is ought not be any credibility lent to either the paper nor the softly-spoken words accompanying them.
But such is the state of reporting these days. Pretty amazing.
But there is a silver lining out of all this. Whited reports that the Southern Nevada Health District will re-evaluate its working relationship with Canyon Ridge in future HIV testing events:
Stephanie Bethel, health district spokeswoman, said until recently she was unaware of Canyon Ridge’s partnership with Ssempa.
“We just found out about it. We were completely unaware of their partnership with the pastor. We disagree with [Ssempa's] theory on homosexuality, and we are now re-evaluating our partnership with Canyon Ridge.”
S. Nevada Health reconsidering connections to Ssempa-supporting church
June 23rd, 2010
Several of us contacted the South Nevada Health District or signed a petition to express our concern about their partnering with Canyon Ridge Christian Church. This church has a global partnership with Martin Ssempa, the primary religious supporter of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, a legislative effort to execute HIV positive gay people and to incarcerate HIV negative gay people for life.
Michael Bussee, onetime founder of Exodus International and friend of Box Turtle Bulletin, has received a response.
Dear Mr. Bussee:
Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of the Southern Nevada Health District. We were completely unaware of Canyon Ridge Christian Church’s partnership with Pastor Martin Ssempa or his stance on criminalizing homosexuality. The health district is absolutely opposed to the stated efforts of Pastor Ssempa and plans to evaluate and strongly consider any future partnership with Canyon Ridge based on this new information.
However, due to the timing of the testing event, and the outreach efforts that have already occurred related to this testing site, we do not feel we can cancel this venue for next week’s event. We do not condone the church’s continued partnership with Pastor Ssempa; however, we feel the immediate risk of canceling this venue just days before the scheduled event takes precedent at this time. If just one person shows up at a canceled event and decides to delay getting tested, that will be one person too many.
We share your concerns regarding this issue and remain committed to promoting testing in an environment that is comfortable for our clients. Thank you again for your input and for bringing this important issue to our attention.
Southern Nevada Health District
This appears to me to be a reasonable and responsible approach. Thanks to all of you who helped raise this issue with the SNHD.
Las Vegas Church Which Supports Ugandan “Kill-The-Gays” Pastor Wants To Test You for HIV
June 22nd, 2010
A Las Vegas church wants to test you for HIV. That church’s strategic partner and “dearly beloved friend and family” wants to put you to death if you are HIV-positive.
Canyon Ridge Christian Church, which lists Uganda pastor Martin “Eat Da Poo Poo” Ssempa as an international “strategic partner,” will host for National HIV Testing Day on June 27, 2010. According to a notice on the church’s web site:
Because of Canyon Ridge Christian Church’s commitment to “be a show of compassion” to our community and an instrumental force in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, we will be offering FREE HIV testing from 10 AM – 4 PM provided by the Southern Nevada Health District (fingerprick test with results in 15 minutes).
That compassion to the community also apparently extends to providing continued support for on of Africa’s most virulently homophobic pastors. Canyon Ridge has defended their partnership with Ssempa despite his avid support for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which adds the death sentence for LGBT people under certain circumstances. Ironically, one of those circumstances which call for the death penalty is simply being HIV-positive. Here is the bill’s text for that section:
3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the
…(b) offender is a person living with HIV; …
(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.
It doesn’t end there. The bill also mandates that those who are accused of homosexuality be tested for HIV, presumably to determine their eligibility for the death penalty:
(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.
The bill would also criminalize employers, family members and medical professionals who fail to report LBBT people to the police within 24 hours. The bill would further jeopardize HIV/AIDS prevention efforts by imposing criminal penalties on anyone who “aids and abets” homosexuality or provides accurate information on safe sex practices for the prevention if HIV infection.
That Canyon Ridge — or indeed any American Church — would continue to defend its association with Ssempa is, frankly unimaginable. But that is precisely the case here. In a post to Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton, Canyon Ridge pastor Mitch Harrison not only refused to disassociate from Ssempa, he said that Ssempa was among his “dearly beloved friends and family.”
This dearly beloved friend has been the public face for the “Kill-The-Gays” movement in Uganda. He eagerly embraced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill since its inception. Ssempa has been the instigator behind several forced outing campaigns, and he has hurled accusations of homosexuality toward rival pastors in an attempt to improve his own standing. Since the draconian bill’s introduction in Parliament last fall, Ssempa responded to international criticism by blatantly lying about the bill’s contents on several occasions. Those same distortions have been picked up by several leading American backers of the bill as well. More recently, Ssempa has resorted to showing hard-core graphic pornography in churches and press conferences in order to stir up hatred and revulsion toward gay people.
And Canyon Ridge is providing material support for all of this activity, while simultaneously generating positive press in Las Vegas for their “outreach” to the gay community. It’s time for the LGBT community in Las Vegas to make their presence known.
[Hat tip: Warren Throckmorton]
Update: Change.org has a petition urging the Southern Nevada Health District to demand that Canyon Ridge condemn Ssempa’s work in Uganda. The form automatically sends an email directly to the Southern Nevada Health District. You can sign the petition using the widget below:
Why Does This Las Vegas Church Still Support Uganda’s “Kill-The-Gays” Pastor?
June 11th, 2010
Uganda pastor Martin Ssempa has become the public face of the “Kill-The-Gays” movement in Uganda, having eagerly embraced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill since its inception. Ssempa has been the instigator behind several forced outing campaigns, and he has hurled accusations of homosexuality toward rival pastors in an attempt to improve his own standing. Since the draconian bill’s introduction in Parliament last fall, Ssempa responded to international criticism by blatantly lying about the bill’s contents on several occasions. Those same distortions have been picked up by several leading American backers of the bill as well. More recently, Ssempa has resorted to showing hard-core graphic pornography in churches and press conferences in order to stir up hatred and revulsion toward gay people.
Ssempa had previously enjoyed backing from several American conservative Christian leaders and organizations, but one by one, they have mostly dropped him, either in embarrassment over his latest antics or in revulsion over his relentless support for proposals to kill gay people under certain circumstances. Most notably, Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, who had previously been identified as having had ties to Ssempa, “vigorously condemned” the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in December and disclosed that he had cut ties with Ssempa in 2007 over his “beliefs and actions.”
Another American backer, the Evergreen, Colorado-based abstinence advocacy group WAIT Training, announced that “[r]ecent developments in Uganda and around the world associated with Ssempa have caused us to sever all former associations with him.” WAIT Training is so adamant about it that this notice appears on the front page of WAIT’s web site (Note: A video automatically plays when the page is loaded). Philadelphia Bible University, which had previously granted Ssempa an honorary doctorate degree in 2006, denounced Ssempa’s activities and “categorically condemn[ed] any position that calls for violence against human beings created in the image and likeness of God.”
Not so with Las Vegas-based Canyon Ridge Christian Church. They continue to list Ssempa as a Global Outreach Strategic Partner. Last February, Grove City College professor and Evangelical Christian Warren Throckmorton contacted the church to ask about their association with Ssempa. Executive Pastor Mitch Harrison responded:
With the oversight of our elders and missions team, we constantly evaluate our ministry partners and their activities. We will only support those who engage in and promote activities consistent with the redemptive and grace-filled purposes of Jesus Christ in the world.
Canyon Ridge Christian Church does not wish to enter into the debate over the legislation in Uganda. We do encourage those involved to seek God’s leadership in humility and grace and to follow Jesus command to love one another as they wrestle with this difficult issue. Our prayers are for the good of the people Uganda.
That was in February, and Canyon Ridge hasn’t bothered to life a finger “for the good of the people of Uganda” since then. Meanwhile, Ssempa led a march in Jinja calling for swift passage of the proposed death penalty for HIV-positive gay people and “repeat offenders”. He has also appeared on ABC’s Nightline, in which he was shown displaying gay porn in his church. He also called homosexuality a form of “sexual terrorism.” More recently, Ssempa was featured on Current TV’s Vanguard episode, “Missionaries of Hate,” again displaying porn at churches, news conferences, and virtually everywhere else he can think of.
And still, Canyon Ridge dithers. In response to the Vanguard documentary, Canyon Ridge sent the following message to Warren Throckmorton:
The mission partners of Canyon Ridge Christian Church are more than just names on a bulletin board or a web site, they are our dearly loved friends and family. Because of this, we take seriously our commitment to them. When accusations or ill reports come to us about one of our partners and their ministry activities, we’re committed to do what the Bible instructs us to do; we go to our partners (when possible, going to see them face to face) and work through the issues with them personally. We don’t make public statements about our partners until we have worked through issues with them personally and brought those issues to resolution. We have been and are currently in conversation with Martin Ssempa and others regarding the controversy in Uganda and his activities in addressing it.
One has to wonder how long Canyon Ridge can dither while Uganda burns. More importantly, one wonders what Canyon Ridge stands to gain by being publicly associated with a man who wants to either kill gay people or imprison them for the rest of their lives. Or who wants to imprison the friends and families of gay people who refuse to turn them over to police. These issues aren’t something new that Canyon Ridge has only now discovered. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was tabled before Parliament last October, but Ssempa’s public outing campaigns were going on in the Spring of 2009. And those weren’t the first for him either. He also participated in public vigilante and outing campaigns in several successive years prior to 2009.
Given Ssempa’s egregious and dangerous activities, it is critical to know exactly what kind of support Canyon Ridge provides to further his cause. How much money does Canyon Ridge supply to Ssempa? What other resources have they provided and continue to provide? In what ways exactly are Canyon Ridge facilitating Ssempa’s campaign to literally legislate gay people out of existence?
And for how much longer will they continue to provide that support?
Some observations on the Primary results
June 9th, 2010
I’ve not commented much about Democratic candidates in this primary election. For the most part, the major candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for various positions have been supportive of our community, so there were few races in which any particular outcome stood out in importance.
But this has been an interesting season for Republican politics, especially in my home state of California. And yesterday’s election held some moments of victory and some disappointments. Here are a few of my observations about the results.
CA Governor: As expected Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman will face each other in November. Whitman and her opponent Steve Poizner are both fairly moderate on social issues but as Poizner ran his campaign emphasizing that he was a “real conservative”, Meg is probably the better outcome.
Although Whitman has been pilloried in the gay press as “anti-gay”, her positions on gay issues would have her receiving awards for support just a few years ago. Although she voted for Proposition 8, she supports civil unions and her objections to marriage equality seem perfunctory rather than devout. She advocated allowing the 18,000 couples who married in the 2008 marriage window to remain recognized as married.
US Senate from CA: It was disappointing that Tom Campbell did not do well. With 25% of the vote, he fell well below Carly Fiorina’s 55%. This is an undisputed victory for the anti-gay activist group National Organization for Marriage, who had run television ads opposing Campbell.
The slight consolation is that Chuch Devore did even worse than Campbell. Devore was the homophobe’s dream candidate. And Fiorina is probably somewhat moderate on our issues, having established a domestic partnership registry why leading Hewlett Packard.
CA Attorney General: Steve Cooley, a friend of the community who supports marriage equality, swept to victory.
CA Lt. Governor: Democrats selected another community friend, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, for their Lt. Governor nominee. Republicans selected Abel Maldenado, the only Republican to vote in the legislature for Harvey Milk Day.
NV Governor: Remember Jim Gibbons? He was the Nevada Governor who vetoed that state’s all-but-the-name domestic partner registry. Well, not only did the legislature overturn his veto last year, but he lost his party’s nomination for reelection to Brian Sandoval, a pro-choice Hispanic Republican who supported the DP bill.
IA Governor: In Iowa, all the Republican candidates are opposed to marriage equality and support “a vote of the people”. But there were degrees. While two of the candidates made wacky claims about what they would do, particularly Bob Vander Plaats who thought he could just issue a declaration and reverse the courts, former Governor Terry Branstad did not give the issue much emphasis in his campaign. Branstad won handily.
ME Governor: NOM is crowing that their choice Paul LePage, a Tea Party favorite, was selected as the Republican nominee for Governor. He will face Maine Senate President Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell. This is a particularly important race in November as Maine’s legislature will likely try again for marriage equality and LePage has promised to veto any marriage bills.
There are undoubtedly many other races of importance and as they come to my attention I may add them.
Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples
March 3rd, 2010
About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.
Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.
There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).
But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.
In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.
Some shady fellas at the Shady Lady
January 6th, 2010
We told you last month about the Shady Lady Ranch in Beatty, NV. It’s a purveyor of the world’s oldest trade that is seeking to expand business by employing a few good men. Now proprietress Bobbi Davis is going to get her chance.
“I personally feel, as do the many other women who have made contact with me since I started this, that this is a service whose time has come,” Davis said in a letter to Nye County officials.
A county board’s vote Tuesday affirming that Davis could offer “shady men” to her clientele followed months of rancorous debate among the state’s legal brothel community. The industry, in its own peculiar way, is somewhat conservative: Considered an anachronism of bawdy mining camps by some Nevada newcomers, it often balks at change.
None of the locals showed up to object. Perhaps they figured that any employment in this economy was bound to benefit the town.
But that doesn’t mean that no one objected. The complaint came from the man employed to protect the industry.
George Flint, longtime lobbyist for the Nevada Brothel Assn., has said that allowing male prostitutes could be the industry’s Pearl Harbor. He has hinted that brothels possibly offering gay sex — a choice each prostitute, as an independent contractor, would be free to make — might sour some legislators on the entire brothel system.
“This is the first time in the history of the world . . . that men have been licensed to sell sex,” Flint said Tuesday, his voice rising. “It’s never been done!”
Oh, I very much doubt that. And he needn’t worry so much about GAY SEX (eeeeek), as most of her business will probably come from women or couples.
Now that the licenses and approvals are in order, Bobbi is ready to select from the 100 or so applicants. If you rush, you can get your application in before she makes the cut.
Best Little Whorehouse in Nevada
December 14th, 2009
The Shady Lady Ranch has made Nevada history. For years now, men have been excluded from marketing their wares in houses with brocade walls and velvet chairs due to public health restrictions. But that has all changed now.
Men were previously barred in Nevada from the oldest profession because codes specified that prostitutes must undergo “cervical” testing for sexually transmitted diseases, which ruled out men.
Bobbi Davis, owner of the Shady Lady Ranch, a small brothel near Beatty, wanted to add male prostitutes to her stable of sex workers.
And while there have been plans for brothels to hire men in the past, Davis made the first-ever request to have the Nevada State Board of Health add urethral exams to the guidelines. That allows male sex workers to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
Beatty is a lovely little stretch of desolate desert outside of Death Valley National Park. It is small, it is dry, it is Republican, and it is home to at least two legal brothels. I am quite sure they are the fanciest, and probably the most profitable, establishments in town.
As for customers, the Shady Lady is egalatarian and all about individual determination.
Davis has said the men could start working at her five-bed brothel starting in the New Year. The male prostitutes will decide for themselves whether to accept male or female clients, she said, just as the female prostitutes do now.
If you would like to be a Shady Lady guy, here’s who they are looking for:
Between 21 and 40.
Have a Good Work Ethic.
Must be Service Oriented.
Have a Willingness to Please.
Have a Positive Attitude.
And, of course, be willing to undergo a weekly urethral exam.
I am not familiar with the Shady Lady, and I certainly don’t wish to suggest anything negative about the lovely gals working there, but I think the fellas might be a welcome addition.
October 1st, 2009
Today the law goes into effect allowing same-sex couples to register with the State of Nevada as Domestic Partners and receive all the same state rights, obligations, and responsibilities as married couples.
Nevadans Can Pre-Apply for Domestic Partnerships
August 19th, 2009
Nevada’s everything-but-marriage Domestic Partnership law will go into effect on October 1st. But the Secretary of State is allowing couples to start preregistering on Monday so as to allow the state to issue certificates on the first day they are legal. (LV Review-Journal)
“Gauging on the inquiries we have received, we expect a very, very high volume,” Miller said. “That is why we are offering preregistration.”
Sen. David Parks, the author of the domestic partnership bill, notes that neighboring non-Nevadans may take advantage of the registration, even if their state does not recognize their relationship.
He said a couple from St. George, Utah, called him and expressed concern that they have nothing to show when they travel that they are a couple devoted to each other.
The certificate may also assist in applying for benefits from such employers as offer them.
Nevada Legislature Overrides Domestic Partnerships Veto
May 31st, 2009
The Nevada Assembly voted 28-14 to overturn Gov Jim Gibbons’ veto of a bill to allow domestic partnerships in Nevada for same-sex couples. This vote follows Saturday’s successful 14-7 override vote in the Senate. Nevada now becomes the 17th state to recognize the relationships of same-sex couples. The new law will allow domestic partners to have the same rights as married couples in matters such as community property and responsibility for debts. It also prohibits discrimination against domestic partners.
It’s been a bad year for Gov. Gibbons. With the domestic partnerships bill joins eleven other overrides to make Gov. Gibbons the most overridden governor in Nevada history.
Nevada Senate Votes To Override Domestic Partnership Veto
May 31st, 2009
Two Republicans changed their vote to override the governor’s veto. Sen. Dean Rhoads (R-Elko) changed his vote after reciving e-mails from heterosexual couples interested in Domestic Partnerships for themselves. He also was swayed by lobbyists from the casino industry on behalf of their employees. Also changing his vote was Sen. Dennis Nolan (R-Las Vegas), who had received many calls that were “ugly, vulgar and threatening messages” from people who oppose the bill.
The bill now goes to the Assembly, which had approved the measure 26-14. The bill needs two more votes in order to override the veto.
Gibbons Vetoes Nevada Domestic Partnerships
May 25th, 2009
Gibbons said in a statement released during the Memorial Day holiday that Senate Bill 283 conflicts with a state constitutional amendment approved by Nevada voters in 2002 supporting marriage between a man and a woman.
“Only the voters should have the right to undo or amend constitutional mandates,” he said.
The Nevada amendment was one that only assigned the name ‘marriage’ to heterosexual unions and did not seek to ban all comparable forms of domestic union. Gibbons is creating a mandate where none previously existed.
It is unclear whether the legislature will override Gibbons’ veto. An additional two votes are needed in each house, a not insignificant hurdle to overcome. However, the Nevada Resort Association – a very powerful lobby in the state – is calling for Domestic Partnerships to be passed and for the veto to be overturned.
It is worth noting that Gibbons vetoed the bill on a holiday, when the decision will receive the least notice from his constituents. And Gibbons made certain to note that on Friday he had signed a bill that banned discrimination in the state on the basis of orientation.
Harrah’s Casinos Lobbies for Nevada Domestic Partnerships
May 22nd, 2009
In Nevada, Harrah’s Casinos operates
- Harrah’s Reno
- Harrah’s Lake Tahoe
- Harvey’s Lake Tahoe
- Harrah’s Las Vegas
- Caesars Palace
- Paris Las Vegas
- Flamingo Las Vegas
- Bally’s Las Vegas
- Imperial Palace
So it is fair to say that Harrah’s is no small player in the Nevada business community.
Harrah’s makes an effort to target the gay community in it’s marketing, particularly for Paris Las Vegas. And now Harrah’s is adding its power to the fight for rights in Nevada.
The State’s legislature has approved a Domestic Partnership bill providing many of the rights, priveleges and obligations of marriage to same-sex couples. However, anticipating a veto from Governor Jim
Doyle Gibbons, supporters are hoping to marshall the votes needed to override the veto. It appears that they will need two more votes in each of the House and the Senate.
So Harrah’s Senior Vice President Jan Jones has written a letter to legislators encouraging them to consider the impact that their vote can have on the state’s ecomony. (Trading Markets)
“Our state cannot afford to lose any more revenue to other destinations because of a reputation as a place which is not socially or politically the right place to do business or to vacation,” Jones stated in the letter, dated Tuesday.
Gays and lesbians have the highest disposable income of any segment of the population, according to Jones.
“Our company does aggressive marketing to this community,” Jones said Wednesday. “How can we say to them ‘we want your business, but we don’t care about your rights.’”
Jones’ concern is not without basis. Gay couples may decide that Atlantic City is their better gambling choice; in case something happens to one of them, New Jersey’s domestic partnership laws provide protection and access to medical facilities.
But in either city, I think I’ll choose Harrah’s for my lodging and gaming.
Although Harrah’s was the most proactive, they are not alone in their support for Domestic Partnerships (Forbes)
The powerful Nevada Resort Association, representing the state’s biggest hotel-casinos, joined Friday in support of a domestic partnership bill that may be vetoed by Gov. Jim Gibbons.
Bill Bible, head of the association, said the bill would help to ensure the resort industry’s thousands of employees have “the fundamental right to the same benefits enjoyed by other Nevadans.”
Although there is no word yet on whether this has yet changed the vote of any legislator, no Nevada politician wants to be on the wrong side of the largest, most powerful economic and political force in the state.
Nevada Legislature Passes Domestic Partners Bill
May 15th, 2009
In April, the Nevada Senate voted in favor of a domestic partnership bill that would allow Nevadans most of the rights and responsibilities of marriage but not the dignity of the institution, which was banned by Constitutional amendment.
The Tahoe Daily Tribune is reporting that the bill has now passed the Senate.
The Assembly Friday gave final legislative approval to legislation creating domestic partnerships in Nevada.
The bill goes to Gov. Jim Gibbons who has said he will veto it.
The vote was 26-14 with Democrats Mo Denis and Marilyn Kirkpatrick of Las Vegas joining the Republicans in opposing the measure. Republican Ed Goedhart of Amargosa Valley voted for it and John Carpenter of Elko was absent Friday.
Nevada DPs Pass out of House Judiciary
May 12th, 2009
Per the SJ Mercury News
On a party-line vote, the Assembly Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday for a bill to give domestic partners, whether gay or straight, many of the rights and benefits that Nevada offers to married couples.
Republicans were outvoted by Democrats who control the committee as SB283 moved to the full Assembly. If approved there, it must return to the Senate, where it was backed previously, for a review of Assembly amendments. Gov. Jim Gibbons has threatened to veto the plan if it reaches his desk.
The Current Status of Marriage Equality – 5/5/09
May 5th, 2009
With marriage equality issues changing so very quickly, here’s where the current status stands (my apologies for any inaccuracies):
California – the State Supreme Court has until June 6 to announce whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008. There are mixed opinions on what the court will decide.
Colorado – The legislature passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.
Illinois – a bill has been introduced to enact Civil Unions. The bill is currently waiting for a House vote.
Maine – The House and the Senate have both passed a marriage bill. Tomorrow it goes before the Senate for final approval and then to Gov. John Baldacci, who is “keeping an open mind”. Anti-Gays will immediately seek a “People’s Veto”, a process by which an enacted bill can be placed before the voters for an up or down vote. They would need about 55,000 valid signatures by the first of September. It would be led by Michael Heath who has established his reputation in Maine as an extremist and a homophobe.
Nevada – The Senate passed a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage. It will go before the Assembly Judiciary on Friday. The Governor has promised to veto the bill but some sources say that there will be a compromise crafted before the legislature disbands in a month.
New Hampshire – The House and Senate have both passed a marriage bill. The Senate version had specific religious protections that were not in the House bill. The House Judiciary has approved the changes and they will go before a House vote tomorrow. The Governor has stated that he is opposed to gay marriage in the past but has not addresses this specific bill.
New York – A marriage bill has been introduced in the house. Log Cabin Republicans announced that they have found additional Republican support in the House for marriage. Senate Majority Leader Smith will not bring marriage to a vote in the Senate until adequate votes will assure its passage, which probably means that four to six Republicans will need to be convinced. Empire State Pride is doing polling in Republican districts and seeking to give them assurance that a vote for equality will not result in an election defeat.
Washington - a bill to upgrade the state’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and House with large margins and will be signed by the Governor. A petition has been filed to put it to the voters.
District of Columbia – the Council voted to recognize out of state marriages. This bill will be signed by the Mayor and then Congress has 30 days to review and possibly overturn it by a majority vote in both houses and the signature of the President. A same-sex marriage bill is expected later this year.
Nevada Senate Passes Domestic Partnerships
April 22nd, 2009
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, the state Senate approved a bill allowing domestic partners most of the same rights as married couples. The bill now goes to the Assembly for approval before facing an anticipated veto from the Governor. Although the bill did not pass with a veto-proof majority, the bill’s sponsor is will work to get the support needed to overcome a veto. One interesting quote came from Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno:
Raggio said that he has talked with friends who are domestic partners and that they said Parks’ bill goes too far. The rights they want and really need concern medical, inheritance and funeral decisions, he said.
I call bullpoop. While I do think couples did tell him that they need medical, inheritance and funeral decisions, I do not think that a single solitary gay couple encouraged him to vote against the bill because “it goes too far”.
And it’s time that news reporters stop letting these “my gay friends” claims go unchallenged. They are not credible and should not be treated as such.
It’s time for reporters to look the Senator in the eye and say, “Produce them, Raggio.”
Sources in Nevada tell us that Raggio is scupulously honest. So if he says his gay friends told him it was “too far” then they probably did. They also pointed out that Raggio’s in his 80′s so his friends are probably from a different generation.
We’ve heard from another Nevada source that challenges Raggio’s integrity. This source shares that Raggio has a history of anti-gay attitudes and that his “friends who are domestic partners” may well be fictional.
So again, we are back in a situation in which a politician uses nameless unspecified “friends” as evidence that his position is the correct one. Is he a truthful guy with old conservative friends or is he a shameless politician saying what he needs to say to support his agenda? Unless he trots his friends out, we’ll never know.
Why do we let them get away with this?
Nevada’s Governor to Veto Domestic Partnerships
April 15th, 2009
Nevada’s Senate is now considering a bill to create a Domestic Partnership registry (pdf) which would provide domestic partners with “the same rights, protections, benefits, responsibilities, obligations and duties as do parties to any other civil contract created pursuant to title 11 of NRS” (marriage law).
But even should this bill pass, Gov. Jim Gibbons has said he will veto the bill:
Responding to reporters’ questions, the Republican governor said Tuesday that he will veto SB283, the domestic partner measure now under consideration in the state Senate, if it reaches his desk because “I just don’t believe in it.”
One interesting thing about Nevada is the power held by just one industry. Financed almost entirely by casinos, the State of Nevada collects neither income tax nor sales tax. And what is good for the Vegas Strip is good for Nevada.
Should the rest of the Strip decide to join Paris Las Vegas and seek to market to gay travelors, Jim Gibbons may well see a miracle that cures his disbelief.
State Marriage Equality Update
April 9th, 2009
There has been a lot of movement recently in various states on the issue of recognition for same-sex couples. Here is a brief synopsis (I apologize if I missed anything):
Arkansas – on March 27, a bill was killed that would have banned cities and counties from creating domestic partner registries.
California – the State Supreme Court is deliberating on whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008.
Colorado – at least two initiative drives are underway to either change the constitution to allow for gay marriage or alternately to statutorily create civil unions. The legislature has just passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.
Connecticut – last week codified – with bipartisan support – marriage equality in the state’s laws to agree with the decision of the state Supreme Court.
Delaware – proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage defeated in the Senate in the last week in March.
Hawaii – Civil Unions bill was tied up in committee. Although the bill has a strong majority of support in the Senate, they voted not to pull it from committee.
Illinois – a bill (HB 0178) has been introduced to legalize same-sex marriage along with a bill (HB 2234) to enact Civil Unions. The marriage bill is resting in the Rules Committee but the Civil Unions bill passed out of committee in March and now faces a House vote.
Iowa – last week the Supreme Court found that the state must recognize same-sex marriage. It will go into effect on April 27. The Governor, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House have all announced that they will oppose efforts to change the Constitution. Iowa has no initiative process so it would require a change in leadership and several years before it would be possible to revoke this right.
Maine – both a marriage bill and a civil unions bill are before the legislature. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on April 24. Gov. John Baldacci is “keeping an open mind”.
Maryland – on April 7, the State Senate upgraded benefits offered to same-sex couples in domestic partnership relationships but do not allow for official state recognition of those relationships.
Minnesota – there is a bill before the legislature to provide new marriage equality. It is unlikely to pass.
Nevada – a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed out of committee and is before the Senate.
New Hampshire – at the end of March the House passed a bill to allow for gay marriage. It will be considered by the Senate, where Democrats have a 14-9 advantage (a dozen Republicans in the House supported the bill). Governor John Lynch has not stated whether he will veto the legislation, should it pass.
New Jersey – a commission has found that civil unions are inadequate and polls have found that residents favor gay marriage but a bill before the legislature appears not to be moving.
New Mexico – in March the Senate defeated efforts to enact Domestic Partnerships.
New York – the Governor has announced that he will push for a vote in the Senate on gay marriage. Although marriage equality has passed in the House, without support from some Republicans, the votes do not appear to be there in the Senate.
Rhode Island – a gay marriage bill is unlikely to make it out of committee. A “reciprocal beneficiary agreements” bill, a darling of anti-gays who want to label gay couples as identical to roommates or cousins, has been proposed as a “compromise”.
Vermont – this week the legislature overrode the governor’s veto to pass marriage equality.
Washington - a bill to upgrade the state’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and will come before the House soon.
West Virginia – last week the House of Delegates defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.
Wisconsin - the Supreme Court is being asked to review the constitutional ban on marriage. The Governor, in his budget, has proposed Domestic Partnership benefits.
Wyoming – in February the House defeated a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
District of Columbia – the Council voted unanimously to recognize out of state marriages. Same-sex marriage bill expected later this year.