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Posts for December, 2010

Couple recognition, state by state

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:

Marriage
on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:

Massachusetts
Connecticut
Iowa
Vermont
New Hampshire
District of Columbia

Civil Unions
– a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:

New Jersey
Illinois

Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population

California
Oregon
Washington
Nevada

Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population

Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships

In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.

Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.

Parade Commodore to 14-year-old Girl: “Go To A Country Where They Hang People Like You”

Jim Burroway

September 30th, 2010

The reigning “Riverfest commodore” for a La Crosse, Wisconsin, annual festival reportedly shoved a 14-year-old girl who was carrying two rainbow flags just before a parade on Saturday.

According to the La Crosse Tribune, the girl was rollerblading and carring two gay pride flags as part of the Seven Rivers LGBT Resource Center’s float when the ugly encounter occurred:

Commodore Mark Schneider, who was on a float nearby, approached the girl and put his hands on the flagpole, [the LGBT center's Executive Director Rosanne] St. Sauver said. St. Sauver walked over, placed her hands on the pole and told him, “Please stop, she’s a 14-year-old child.”

“He said, ‘I do not care. Look what you are teaching them,’” St. Sauver said.

That’s when, St. Sauver said, Schneider shoved the girl with his body.

St. Sauver said Schneider told the girl: “Go to a country where they will hang people like you.“

The incident left the teen crying, and others upset, St. Sauver said. This is the first year the center has participated in the parade.

Schneider denies shoving the teen or making offensive comments. Schneider claimed that his objections were to the alterations to one of the two flags. One of the flags’s design was based on the American flag with the red and white stripes substituted for rainbow stripes.

Schneider has been cited for disorderly conduct. He has since apologized for the confrontation. The Riverfest president, Mike Schieber, and the LGBT center president Kathryn Heitbrink have written a joint statement following a meeting yesterady evening:

Mark Schneider, Riverfest Commodore for 2010 offered his personal apology to Emily St. Sauver and others that might have been affected for events that happened that day. This apology was accepted with the understanding that both organizations will collaborate to promote La Crosse and the surrounding community as a safe place for all people, where all members of the community can be celebrated.”

With all the craziness we’ve seen over the past two weeks, it’s good to see at least one incident come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

Wisconsin ban on all couple recognition upheld by state supreme court

Timothy Kincaid

June 30th, 2010

In 2006, Wisconsin voters passed (59% – 41%) the following referendum:

Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.

This was challenged in court under the argument that this referendum actually addressed two issues rather than one as is required: 1) shall marriage be banned, 2) shall civil unions be banned. Supporters of gay couples argued that those who wished to ban marriage but allow civil unions did not have an option.

Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced their decision (Grand Forks Herald)

The court’s 7-0 ruling concluded that the constitutional amendment was properly put to voters in a statewide referendum in 2006. Justices rejected a lawsuit that claimed the amendment violated a rule limiting constitutional amendments to a single subject.

Court: Wisconsin gay parents don’t have rights

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2010

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Wisconsin appeals court says gay parents do not have full parental rights when it comes to their adopted children.

The court ruled Thursday against a woman who was seeking guardianship of two adopted children for whom she acted as a stay at home mother for years.

Cuz it’s in the interest of the kids, ya know.

Sigh.

Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2010

US Map

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.

For Halloween, these Sheboygan residents were Blithering Idiots

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2009

It seems that common sense wasn’t very common in Sheboygan, WI, this Halloween. In fact, it was missing altogether.

For fun, let’s see how many really stupid decisions we can count in this story.

The incident began Oct. 31 when [a 20 year-od gay man] told police he was at [Julia] Laack’s house, 1603 S. 13th St., drinking heavily with the three adults and several other juveniles.

He said at one point a 15-year-old boy pulled him into a bathroom to ask if he was gay, and he said yes, but nothing else happened. The boy told police the two hugged after the 20-year-old told him he was the best-looking guy in the house and he would like to take him home.

Oh but it gets worse.

laack

Laack saw the two together in the bathroom, and she confronted the victim when he was back at the house drinking with the group Nov. 3.

The victim said Laack told him what happened in the bathroom is wrong and he shouldn’t get away with it, saying, “You are going to get us money for this.” Tibbs said they should “just kill” him.

Laack later told police the victim was told he could pay money, get beaten up or have his actions reported to police. The victim said he was confused and tried to leave, but Laack blocked the door and Tibbs said blood would be shed if he tried to leave again.

Wow. I think I lost track of how many truly abysmal choices were made.

The 20 year old then contacted police who recorded the next demand for payment. And now Julia E. Laack, Ethan T. Massey and Bret A. Tibbs are facing multiple extortion charges.

Wisconsin to Keep Domestic Partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2009

On this day that we mourn the loss of equality in one state, we can rejoice that another has had a victory in its efforts to provide some measure of protection to its gay citizens.

In 2006, Wisconsin voters passed a constitutional amendment by 59%-41% which banned both same-sex marriage and “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage”. And anti-gay activists rejoiced, believing that this ensured that lifelong committed gay couples would be denied any and all rights that were given willy-nilly to any six times divorced, drunken Vegas chapel, heterosexual couple.

But in June, the governor signed a budget which included the authorization of a registry for domestic partners and which granted a very limited number of specific rights.

Determined that gay couples should not be allowed to enjoy hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, joint tenancy rights, and the ability to take Family Medical Leave (FMLA) to care for a sick/injured partner or non-biological/non-adopted child, anti-gay activists sued claiming that such a registry violated the “no rights for gay people” clause of the state constitution.

And they appealed directly to the state supreme court, hoping that such protections could be denied promptly. The Wisconsin Supreme Court did not grant their wish. (KSTP)

The state Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s domestic partner registry.

The court offered no explanation in an order issued Tuesday.

But while this is a victory for decency and equality, it is not settled. They can still go through the process of trial court and appeals.

Congrats, Wisconsin Couples

Timothy Kincaid

August 3rd, 2009

Today is the day that Wisconsin same-sex couples can register as domestic partners. Most of the small list of rights and benefits deal with health care or probate issues. (Capital Times)

The extension of health care benefits to same-sex couples is one highlight of the registry. Other perks include the ability for same-sex couples to inherit their partner’s property or other assets, even if they do not have a will. Without these protections, the property and other assets of gay men and lesbians without a will would go to their parents or siblings — not their significant other — at the time of death.

What to bring if you plan to register: Couples must provide proof of residence, certified copies of their birth certificates and their Social Security numbers. For those who have been previously married, a certified death certificate or divorce judgment is required. The fee is also the same as for a marriage license, $115 in cash per couple in Dane County.

Who qualifies for the registry: Two individuals must be at least 18 years old, be of the same gender, share a common residence, not be nearer of kin than second cousins, and not be married or in another domestic partnership.

This day is historic in that Wisconsin became the first midwestern state to grant recognition of same-sex couples by legislation and it is the first state with a clause banning “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage” to offer any limited recognition at all.

Anti-gays, of course, have sued to stop gay people from being able to cover their loved ones on their health insurance or visit them in the hospital. It’s not that they hate you, want to make your life as difficult as possible, or see you as an enemy in a culture war. Oh no, they just want to protect marriage, you see.

Wisconsin Gets Domestic Partnerships

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2009

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed the state budget into law today. That budget includes provisions for a Domestic Partnership registry to provide protections for same-sex couples as well as insurance rights for State employees. Protections include hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, joint tenancy rights, and the ability to take Family Medical Leave (FMLA) to care for a sick/injured partner or non-biological/non-adopted child.

Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

June 18th, 2009

In 2006, voters in Wisconsin passed the following amendment to their state constitution:

Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.

The second part of that amendment effectively bans the creation of civil unions or of domestic partnership agreements that are “identical or substantially similar to that of marriage”. However, as part of the budget process, the State Senate and Assembly have passed language (pdf 1,743 pages), at the request of the Governor, that establishes domestic partnerships within the state.

The domestic partnerships are dissimilar to marriage in that while marriage requires a license and the performance of a specific ceremony, domestic partnerships are recognized by means of a registry:

Under the bill, a domestic partnership may be formed by two individuals who are at least 18 years old, are not married or in another domestic partnership, share a common residence, are not nearer of kin than second cousins, and are members of the same sex.

To form a domestic partnership, the individuals apply for a declaration of domestic partnership to the county clerk of the county in which at least one of them has resided for at least 30 days. Each applicant must submit identification and a certified copy of his or her birth certificate, as well as any other document affecting the domestic partnership status, such as a death certificate or a certificate of termination of domestic partnership. The clerk must then issue a declaration of domestic partnership, which the parties must complete and submit to the register of deeds of the county in which they reside. The register of deeds must record the declaration and send the original to the state registrar of vital statistics.

The domestic partnerships receive certain specific rights which are similar to those granted by marriage:

  • Inheritance Rights:
    • Inherit if intestate or if the will was written before registration
    • Full property interest the decedent had in a home
    • Inherit partner’s interest in a boat
    • The rights to probate court and summary procedures
    • Exemptions for certain personal items and for limited exemptions from the estate’s creditors
    • Inherit wages due from an employer
  • Wrongful death actions and death benefits under workers compensation
  • The right to bar former partners from testifying about private communications
  • Employment Benefits:
    • The right to family leave to care for a domestic partner
    • Pension benefits provided to public employees
    • Fraternal benefit society may provide insurance coverage to domestic partners
    • Local governments may provide health and life insurance for domestic partners
    • Protection in state government employment from arbitrary discrimination based on domestic partner status.
  • Joint tenancy rights in property

While these are far fewer rights than come with marriage, they will not be of insignificant benefit to same-sex Wisconsin couples. The budget has differences between the House and Senate versions which will be hammered out but domestic partnerships are likely to survive and to be signed by Governor Doyle.

Wisconsin Senate Approves Domestic Partnerships

Jim Burroway

June 17th, 2009

The Wisconsin Senate approved this year’s controversial budget by a very tight vote of 17-16. Tucked in that budget was a provision to provide for a Domestic Partnership registry. Among the very limited benefits of Domestic Partnerships include provisions for jointly owning property, hospital visitation rights and inheritance. Domestic partners of state employees would also be eligible to receive the same state retirement and health insurance benefits as spouses.

The State Assembly passed the budget last week with the same Domestic Partnership provisions by a vote of 50-48. There, the registry endured a separate 50-48 vote to remain a part of the budget. The budget now goes to a conference committee to iron out differences before final approval in both houses and the governor’s signature.

If domestic partnerships become law, Wisconsin would be the first state with an existing constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriage and civil unions to provide domestic partnership protections for same-sex couples.

Wisconsin Assembly Passes Domestic Partnerships

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2009

The Wisconsin Assembly pulled an all-nighter overnight to finally pass a budget in the early hours of Saturday morning. That 50-48 party line vote by the Democrat-controlled Assembly for the $62.2 billion budget also included important policy changes, including the establishment of a Domestic Partnership registry for same-sex couples. Among the very limited benefits of Domestic Partnerships include provisions for jointly owning property, hospital visitation rights and inheritance. Domestic partners of state employees would also be eligible to receive the same state retirement and health insurance benefits as spouses.

The budget will now go to the Senate, which is expected to vote on it sometime next week.

If domestic partnerships become law, Wisconsin would be the first state with an existing constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions to provide domestic partnership protections for same-sex couples.

Wisconsin May Offer Recognition

Timothy Kincaid

May 22nd, 2009

In 2006, Wisonsin voters passed the following amendments by a margin of 59%-41%:

“Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”

Now the legislature is seeking to find a place short of “substantially similar” to allow recognition for same-sex couples. (Chicago Tribune)

The Legislature’s budget committee voted 12-4 Friday for a plan allowing gay and lesbian couples who live together to form domestic partnerships and receive some of the same benefits as married couples.

The Wisconsin plan would allow couples who register with their county register of deeds to jointly own property, inherit each other’s assets and visit each other in the hospital, among other things.

Wisconsin Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Const. Amendment

Timothy Kincaid

May 14th, 2009

Per the Wisconsin Radio Network:

The court announced on Thursday it will review a case brought by William McConkey.

The UW-Oskosh political science professor filed a lawsuit challenging the 2006 amendment on the grounds that it was improperly put before voters. McConkey argues the ballot question not only asked voters to ban gay marriage, but also any “similar” legal arrangement such as civil unions. He says the question was unconstitutional because the issues should have been put to voters separately.

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