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Posts for March, 2014

Marriage Equality (Partly) Arrives In Britain

Jim Burroway

March 13th, 2014

Today, registrars across England and Wales began accepting declarations of intent to marry from same-sex couples as major portions of the recently enacted same-sex marriage legislation went into effect at midnight. This means that the first weddings taking place in England and Wales will take place on March 29 following the required 15-day waiting period. There are exceptions to that waiting period:

The official guidance states: “The Registrar General can allow a marriage to take place without the normal 15-day notice period where one of the couple is seriously ill and is not expected to recover, and in other urgent cases such as where a person is due to be deployed overseas in the armed forces. Such marriages of same sex couples will be possible from Thursday, 13 March 2014.”

They won’t however been the first same-sex married couples in England and Wales. Couples who were married overseas got a head start in becoming legal spouses today as their marriages became legally recognized at the stroke of midnight.

Procedures for converting civil partnerships into marriage will be put in place later this year.

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II has given her Royal Assent to Scotland’s same-sex marriage law today. Same-sex marriages in Scotland will become legal sometime later this year.

Northern Ireland remains the only corner of the United Kingdom where there has been no movement on marriage equality. This is despite more than half of residents supporting same-sex marriage, with particularly strong support among Catholics.

Scotland to Offer Asylum to LGBT Ugandans

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2014

Glasgow is set to host the Commonwealth Games this summer, which several athletes and members of the Ugandan government are expected to attend:

Humza Yousaf, Minister For External Affairs, has written to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague detailing the Scottish Government’s gesture to welcome “any Ugandan” persecuted by the new laws.

…With prominent members of the Ugandan government due in Glasgow this summer, the Scottish Government will also meet representatives of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups to discuss proposals on handling human rights issues during the event.

…In his letter Mr Yousaf has urged Mr Hague “to offer asylum to any Ugandans who feels threatened or persecuted by the legis­lation”, adding that “Scotland will play her part in providing asylum for those seeking refuge from this draconian legislation”.

He adds that during the Games “no one from any part of the Commonwealth who visits Scotland will be under any doubt about our values as a welcoming, open and tolerant society”.

A senior source said: “The issue is now so high profile it is hardly something the Scottish Government or anyone involved in the Games can now shy away from.”

Scotland Approves Marriage Equality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 4th, 2014

Members of Scotland’s Parliament have overwhelmingly approved a marriage equality bill in a historic 105-18 vote:

And Health Secretary Alex Neil revealed the first marriages could take place this autumn – earlier than first thought.

He added: “We’re doing a remarkable thing today, we are saying on behalf of Scotland to the world, loud and clear that we believe in recognising love between same sex couples as we do between opposite sex couples.”

Neil said the legislation would “allow same sex couples to do what thousands of opposite sex couples do every year – get married”.

But he stressed the Scottish Government “respected the decision” of those religious groups who did not want to perform same-sex marriage, with protections included in the legislation “so they can not be forced to solemnise a same sex marriage”.

Scottish ministers have also reached an agreement with the UK government for an amendment to the 2010 Equality Act, which protects religious individuals and institutions which do not solemnize same-sex marriages from discrimination lawsuits . That amendment will need to be approved by Westminster before Scotland’s law can take effect. Scottish officials believe that same-sex marriage may become available in Scotland by fall.

Marriage equality will become available in England and Wales beginning March 29.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, February 4

Jim Burroway

February 4th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Federal District Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Virginia Marriage Lawsuit: Norfolk, VA. Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the Federal District Court of Eastern Virginia will hear oral arguments today in the case of Bostic v Rainey, a case brought by two same-sex couples challenging the constitutionality of Virginia’s state constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Representing the pro-equality side is Americans for Equal Rights, led by California Prop 8 lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies. Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom, the same group that defended Prop 8 in Federal court, is again representing the anti-equality side. Oral arguments had originally been scheduled for last Thursday, but were rescheduled for today due to the snow storm that hit the East and South. Oral arguments begin this morning at 10:00 a.m EST, and is expected to last about two and a half hours.

Scottish Parliament to Hold Final Vote on Marriage Equality Bill: Edinburgh, Scotland. Members of the Scottish Parliament are expected to conduct a final vote today on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, a bill granting marriage equality to same-sex couples in Scotland. Before that final vote is taken, several MSPs are expected to offer amendments to the bill to provide special exemptions for those who oppose marriage equality. If the bill clears Holyrood, the British Parliament in Westminster will have to alter the UK marriage law before marriages can begin in Scotland. If all goes well, marriage may begin in Scotland by autumn, and perhaps as early as July. Meanwhile, same-sex marriages will become available in England and Wales on March 29, nearly nine months after Westminster approved its marriage equality bill.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Arizona Gay News, February 18, 1977, page 2.

 
The Bandit’s Den of Show Low, Arizona, was happy to announce its upcoming grand opening in the pages of the Arizona Gay News. But lest anyone forget the nature of the small, predominately Mormon town high on the Mogollon Rim, the ad reminds potential gay patrons that the clientele will be a “mixed group… be discreet.”

The Congo River, north of provincial capital of Mbandaka, Équateur province.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
AIDS Cases Discovered from 1976: 1988. Common wisdom today, even with all that we know about the history of the epidemic, often still sets the start of AIDS with the June 1981 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describing five gay men who had died of a mysterious disease in Los Angeles (see Jun 5). When the HIV virus was isolated in 1984 and a test for the virus became available in 1985, several avenues of research opened up to try to figure out where this virus came from. Doctors in Paris and Brussels, who had long been treating wealthy African patients from their former colonies bearing all of the hallmarks of the new disease, pointed to Africa as a possible source for the virus. On February 4, 1988, the New England Journal of Medicine published a report by Dr. Nzila Nzilambi from Kinshasa, Zaire and other doctors from Belgium and the CDC which strongly suggested an African source for the virus, and revealed that AIDS had been a persistent health problem in rural Zaire as early as the mid 1970s.

Commercial center of Mbandaka, Équateur province.

In 1976, there had been an outbreak of Ebola in the northeastern Zaire province of Équateur along the Congo river. In the course of the medical investigations, hundreds of serum samples were collected from people throughout the area. Those samples remained preserved Zaire and were flown to Atlanta for testing. Investigators then went back out to Équateur in 1986 and collected more samples from as many people as possible, 388 in all. Ninety of them had also been among the 659 samples collected in 1976. Five of the samples from 1976 tested positive for HIV. Two were still alive ten years later; one was healthy, but the other was already showing signs of a suppressed immune system. Three were dead. One woman tested positive in 1976 was confirmed dead, “after a prolonged illness characterized by weight loss, fever, cough, and diarrhea” — all common symptoms of diseases associated with AIDS. Another woman, the wife of one of the two HIV-positive men still alive, “died in 1981 after a long illness associated with fever, weight loss, skin rash, and oral lesions.” Again an apparent death from AIDS. The third was a child who was seven years old in 1976, who “died of pneumonia and weight loss at the age of 16.”

The doctors concluded: “The results of our study showed that HIV infection was already present in an isolated area of the Équateur province of Zaire in 1976 and that the prevalence of infection in the general population there did not change significantly over the 10-year observation period.”

[Source: Nzila Nzilambi, Kevin M. De Cock, Donald N. Forthal, et al. “The prevalence of infection with human immunodeficiency virus over a 10-year period in rural Zaire.” New England Journal of Medicine 318, no. 5 (February 4, 1988): 276-279.]

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Marriage Bill Published in Scotland

Jim Burroway

June 27th, 2013

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill (PDF: 1.3MB/46 pages) has been published, marking its first step in the long journey toward becoming law.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Alex Neil said the publication of the same-sex marriage legislation marked a “historic moment for Scotland and for equal rights in our country”.

The Scottish government proposals also aim to protect the rights of religious celebrants and groups who are opposed to allowing gay couples to wed.

Mr Neil told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We are striving to create a Scotland that is fairer and more tolerant, where everyone is treated equally. That is why we believe that same sex couples should be allowed to marry.

Scottish supporters are in talks with UK government officials seeking an an amendment to the UK bill to to protect individual members of clergy who may not want to conduct same-sex ceremonies even if their denomination supports them. The UK bill has just completed its committee stage in the House of Lords and will reach Report stage in July.

Church of Scotland allows ministers in relationship

Timothy Kincaid

May 21st, 2013

20130520-230145.jpgTwo years ago, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland allowed congregations to choose gay or lesbian ministers. Now it has expanded that to include ministers in same sex relationships.

In a compromise, it confirmed the majority’s traditional view of sexuality as being the position of the denomination while allowing more liberal congregations freedom to follow their conscience. ABC

Albert Bogle, who proposed the motion, said it was a compromise to move the debate between the traditionalists and revisionists forward.

“My motion is to be permissive and to allow those who want to do this to do it. But I want to affirm the position of the Church of Scotland in the historic tradition of the church,” he said. “It will give everyone what they want but it will keep us together.”

Due to the Presbyterian structure of the church, the decision now goes back to local areas (presbyteries) for confirmation.

Scotland’s legislature unveils draft marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

December 13th, 2012

Scotland has introduced marriage legislation: (GayStarNews)

The Scottish government launched the ‘Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill’, which will introduce marriage equality, yesterday (12 December) alongside a 14-week consultation on its implementation.

The draft legislation will allow same-sex marriage in Scotland and give all religious and belief bodies (for example Humanist) the right to conduct same-sex marriages, if they wish to do so.

The timeline suggests that weddings may begin in about a year.

Following the close of the public consultation on 20 March, the Scottish government will make any changes to the bill that are considered necessary, then introduce the bill for a vote into the Scottish parliament.

It generally takes at least 6 months for a bill to go through parliament, so if the bill is introduced by May or June, it might be passed by around the end of 2013.

Depending on unforeseen changes to the timetable the first same-sex marriages in Scotland should take place in 2014.

In a month jam packed with international (and local) marriage news, this story uniquely appeals to me in an emotional way.

In gradeschool, there was a class – weekly, I believe – on music; kids played recorders and other instruments (poorly, probably) and sang songs. The song I recall as being the most interesting to me was about a bonnie prince fleeing for his life to an island called Skye.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Scotland seemed such a mythical place. The men wore plaid skirts and played bagpipes and there were craggy cliffs and deep lakes and even a sea monster. Where else would a pretty prince sail off into the sky?

In college, a class on immigration and emigration sparked an interest in knowing my family background. Over time I discovered that the romance of the bonnie boat had a reality that played it’s role in the game of chance and genetic continuation that led to me.

Kincaid House – the oldest portions date to 1690.

In 1745 and 1746, the Highland Scots fought their last effort to remove George II, a German Hanoverian, from the throne of England and Scotland and restore the Scottish house of Stuart. The Kincaids were a Lowland family, but near the Highland border and with a long history of political intrigue and loyalty to the Stuarts. So although his father had political connections to King George, Samuel Kincaid and three of his brothers served in the rear guard supporting Charles Stuart (bonnie Prince Charlie) until their capture/surrender in April or May of that year.

Perhaps not surprising, they promptly “escaped” and fled to Glasgow where they boarded the ship where their wives and children were waiting and sailed off to America. And eight generations of Kincaids later, me.

So while I’m no more “Scottish” than I am the ethnic product of any of the other 254 people who contributed their genes eight generations back, I share the surname of that ancestor. And to the extent that any non-American place can be (my roots go far far further back here), Scotland is the land of my ancestors.

Scotland predicts equality

Timothy Kincaid

February 1st, 2012

From Pink News

The Scottish government, led by the Scottish National Party, concluded public consultation on equal marriage on 9 December. It was the government’s largest ever public consultation, with over 50,000 responses.

It will now analyse the feedback and publish their response in spring along with a draft bill, which will be open for expert consultation and voting by mid-2013, expected to pass as law by the end of 2013.

And why not? The Scots want it.

Opinion polls suggest a majority of Scots support equal marriage, including the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2010 which indicated 61% support versus 19% opposition. This included a majority of respondents following all the major faiths and political parties in Scotland.

Police Say Stuart Walker “Was Victim of Sex Attack”

Jim Burroway

October 25th, 2011

More details are emerging of last weekend’s murder of a gay Scottish man who was found beaten and burned outside of Cumnock in Ayrshire last weekend. Initial reports said that Stuart Walker’s body was found tied to a lamp post, but police say that those reports were incorrect. They do however say that the 28-year-old was the victim of a “violent and sustained” attack and that he may have been sexually assaulted. There are now reports that his charred body was partially undressed when it was found. According to the Daily Mail:

At a press conference at Kilmarnock police office, (Divisional Commander John Thomson) confirmed Mr Walker – a former assistant manager at the Royal Hotel in Cumnock – had almost certainly known those who killed him at Caponacre industrial estate.

Mr Thomson said: ‘I don’t think it was a random attack by someone who will strike again. I suspect Stuart may have known this individual or met this individual shortly before his death.’

Mr Thomson, who described the murder as a ‘vicious attack’, said there was a  ‘possibility of a sexual assault’.

The Telegraph says that Walker suffered “horrific” injuries and may have been burned alive. Police have told the local Cumnock Chronicle that they are following a “‘significant’ line of inquiry” and believe that Walker may have known his killers. The Daily Record says that “names of suspects already understood to have been flagged up to detectives.” Police are not yet ruling in or out the possibility that the murder was a hate crime.

Gay Man’s Body Found Beaten, Tied To Lamppost And Burned in Scotland

Jim Burroway

October 24th, 2011

Friends and family grieve at the scene of the crime.

A small town in Scotland is mourning the brutal murder of a “popular and well-known” man, whose burned body was found on the side of a road at an industrial park outside of Cumnock in Syrshire. Stuart Walker, 28, was found beaten, burned, and tied to a light pole early on Saturday morning after he failed to show up for his grandmother’s 80th birthday.

Detectives say that they have not ruled out Walker’s sexuality as a factor in his murder. The Scottish Sun quotes “a police insider” as saying, “Stuart was a gay man and this will be one of the things that is looked at, but by no means the only thing.” The Guardian says that police are refusing to speculate on motive or possible suspects:

Detective Inspector John Hog said Walker was last seen alive about two hours before he was killed.

He said: “Stuart had been out with friends in the Cumnock area earlier during the night and was last seen alive by a family friend near to the fire station in Glaisnock Street around 2.30am on Saturday morning – nearly two-and-a-half hours before he was found.

“It is imperative that we find out where he was between 2.30am and 4.50am, who he was with and why this happened to him.

“From our inquiries so far, we understand that there may have been a number of house parties in the nearby Netherthird housing estate in the early hours of the morning.

“At this time we do not know if these parties are linked to our investigation or not, so, again, any information on that is important.”

Police are reviewing closed circuit security video tapes and are carrying out door-to-door investigations in the area to try to piece together Walker’s last hours. A Facebook page has been set up in Walker’s memory.

Welcome out, Graeme Obree

Timothy Kincaid

January 31st, 2011

Graeme Obree is a bicyclist with an impressive record (bikeradar.com)

Both Obree’s private life and his achievements on the bike have combined to make him one of cycling’s most enigmatic figures. The Scotsman claimed the World individual pursuit title in 1993 and 1995 but is best known for his innovative and pioneering attempts at the World hour record.

He claimed the hour record twice, in 1993 and 1994. The first successful, in Norway, saw him best a nine-year-old record held by Italian Francesco Moser using a hand-made bike constructed from spare parts dubbed ‘Old Faithful’. That record lasted only a week as Englishman Chris Boardman improved on Obree’s effort in Bordeaux, France during a rest day of that year’s Tour de France.

Obree reclaimed the record in April, 1994 on the same track used by his English rival after making adaptations to ‘Old Faithful’. That record was improved upon by Spaniard Miguel Indurain five months later.

But Obree’s accomplishments did not bring satisfaction. Because Obree had as issue nagging at him, one which he desperately sought to hide from himself. It led him to two suicide attempts before seeking professional help. (PinkNews)

“I was brought up thinking you’d be better dead than gay,” he said. “I must have known I was gay and it was so unacceptable.

“I was brought up by a war generation – they grew up when gay people were put in jail. Being homosexual was so unthinkable that you just wouldn’t be gay. I’d no inkling about anything, I just closed down.

“People say, ‘How can you be gay and be married and have kids and not know it?’

“But when I went to my psychologist she reckoned I had the emotional age of about 13 because I’d just closed down.”

But now the hiding is over. Obree came out to his ex-wife and children several years ago – and more importantly, to himself. Today he made his orientation public in a Scottish newspaper.

Scotland Couples Can Adopt

Timothy Kincaid

September 23rd, 2009

From the anti-gay website LifeSiteNews

Scotland’s devolved parliament has announced that, starting next week, homosexual partners may adopt children together and both be regarded as the child’s parents.

Previously the rules said that homosexuals could adopt only as singles. Legislation in 2005 granted adoption rights to unmarried couples, including homosexual partners in England and Wales.

Scottish Catholic Bishop Spews Homophobia

Timothy Kincaid

March 14th, 2008

A doddering senior level Bishop is convinced that there’s a secret gay “huge and well-orchestrated conspiracy” against Christian values.

Rt. Reverend Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, said, “Rant rant rant vent drool spittle…”

Well, really I don’t care what he said. I just marveled at the idea that there actually is a Bishop of Motherwell and that his name is Rt. Reverend Joseph Devine. I mean, really, isn’t that the sort of name and title you’d expect of a nefarious churchman in a Shreck movie?

But if you want to know more you can check out the bile that abides in the brain of Father Devine or the response of the non-drooling crowd.

And enjoy your weekend.