Monday, August 29 2011 06:07

National News, Apr 29 - May 12, 2011

By  Rex Wockner

Maryland Trans Rights Bill Dies

A transgender nondiscrimination bill that had passed the Maryland House of Delegates died in the Senate on April 11. Senators voted 27-20 to return it to committee. The development took state LGBT activists by surprise, as they believed they had lined up the needed votes for passage. In the end, 16 Democrats voted with the majority.

“Senators ... took a walk on justice and fairness today and turned their backs on the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey added, “Without legal protections, transgender people are made particularly vulnerable to ... neglect, bias and abuse.”

Delaware Legislature Passes Civil-Union Bill, Governor to Sign

Delaware’s Senate and House of Representatives passed a civil-union bill April 7 and April 14 respectively. The Senate vote was 13-6. The House vote was 25-16. The measure grants same-sex couples the state-level rights, benefits and obligations of marriage, and recognizes same-sex civil unions and marriages from other states, treating them as Delaware civil unions.

Prop 8 Judge Comes Out to Reporters

The judge who struck down California's Proposition 8 last August came out to reporters April 6 in San Francisco. Former U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker also said he's in a relationship with a doctor. Walker said his sexuality was irrelevant to his handling of the Prop 8 case, and that things such as gender, ethnicity, and national origin also should not affect which cases judges hear. Walker's strikedown of Prop 8, which amended the state constitution in 2008 to re-ban same-sex marriage, is on appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hawaii Protects Transgenders

A bill banning employment discrimination based on gender identity cleared Hawaii’s Legislature April 19. Transgender people already were protected in the areas of housing and public accommodations. Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to sign the bill. Twelve other states and the District of Columbia protect transgender people from discrimination.

Ariz. Governor Signs Anti-Gay-Adoption Bill

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a  bill April 18 that requires public and private adoption agencies to give primary consideration to  placement with a married man and woman unless other factors make it not in a child’s best interest. The Human Rights Campaign denounced the new law, calling it a “major defeat” for children and youth.

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