Romanian Referendum May Permanently Criminalize Same-Sex Marriage

Romania, one of the European countries that bans same-sex couples from marrying, may prevent gay couples from marrying permanently with a referendum vote to be held on October 6th and 7th.

According to US News, the referendum's goal is to change the definition of marriage in the Romanian constitution to a union between one man and one woman. This would effectively deny same-sex couples the right to marry as their union would not be recognized under the law. 

Over three million signatures in favor of this change have been collected and with three million more, the referendum will be valid.

Romania is an eastern European country with a strong Orthodox Christian influence, which creates obstacles for people in favor of marriage equality. However, there are human rights groups that protest this referendum, saying that "human rights should not be put up for a vote."

Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are the European countries that recognize same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, if the referendum passes, Romania will never join those countries in regard to marriage equality.  

Same-sex marriage map Europe detailed

1May include recent laws or court decisions which have created legal recognition of same-sex relationships, but which have not entered into effect yet.  (wikimedia.com)

h/t: US News

President Miguel Díaz-Canel Of Cuba Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

American LGBTs saw the power of the presidency in action when President Obama announced his ‘evolution’ and support for marriage equality in May 2012.

His statement made an enormous impact on the fight for marriage equality. And three years later, same-sex marriage came to all of the United States.

Now, Cuba is preparing for a nationwide referendum on changing the language in its constitution from defining marriage as a “voluntary union of a man and a woman,” to recognizing marriage as “between two people.”

And the president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has publicly announced his support.

According to the BBC, Díaz-Canel said in an interview with Telesur he favors recognizing “marriage between people without any restrictions.”

He added that embracing marriage equality is “part of eliminating any type of discrimination in society.”

The Cuban president acknowledges that Cuba has “been going through a massive thought evolution and many taboos have been broken.”

Much of the credit for Cuba’s ‘evolution’ on marriage is due, in great part, to the efforts of Mariela Castro, daughter of former President Raúl Castro.

Ms. Castro, who leads the Cuban National Centre for Sex Education, has spent years speaking out on behalf of LGBTQ rights. And those efforts are clearly paying off today.

Cuba bears a long, hideous history regarding the treatment of LGBTs.

In 1959, after the rise of Fidel Castro, 25,000 gay men were rounded up and sent to labor camps.

And during the height of the AIDS pandemic, those with HIV were quarantined in government-run sanitariums. That practice ended in 1993.

But even with the country’s “thought evolution,” it comes as no surprise that there are still hills to climb in the form of Cuba’s religious leaders.

Cuba’s Catholic Church, Assembly of God Pentecostal Church, the Evangelical League and Methodist Church all vigorously oppose the idea of marriage equality.

Cuban citizens head to the polls in February to cast their votes on the new constitution.

(h/t BBC)

UK Study: LGBTs Waiting Later In Life Than Heterosexual Couples To Marry

New data from the UK shows same-sex couples are more likely to marry later in life than heterosexual couples.

Commissioned by the Office of National Statistics in the UK, the study, titled “Being 18 in 2018,” examines different aspects of life for young adults who were born in 2000.

The subjects of the study include life expectancy, employment, becoming parents, and getting married, among many topics.

While couples are allowed to marry in the UK at the age of 18 without parental consent, the statistics show young folks are waiting longer and longer to walk down the aisle.

In 1970, for instance, the average age for women getting married was 22-years-old; and for men, it was 24-years-old.

Of course, that didn’t include any LGBT folks since marriage equality didn’t arrive in the UK until 2014.

Note: same-sex marriage is still not legal in Northern Ireland, although civil partnerships are allowed.

Looking at 2014, the average age of women who married men had risen to 31, and for men marrying women it was 33.

But when it comes to gay and lesbian couples, the average ages are noticeably higher.

The average age of lesbian couples getting hitched as 35, and for gay male couples it was 38.

By 2015, the average age for gay male couples had risen to nearly 40-years-old.

These stats do spark the question: why are LGBTs getting married later in life? Or - put another way - are young people not that drawn to the idea of marriage?

What do you think, readers?

(h/t Gay Star News)

Coca-Cola, IBM & More Urge Legalization Of Marriage Equality Legal In Northern Ireland

Several major corporations have signed on to a letter urging the UK Parliament in London to introduce legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Marriage equality has been the law of the land in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014, and the Republic of Ireland voted for marriage equality via public referendum in 2015.

That leaves Northern Ireland as the only part of Western Europe to not allow LGBT couples to marry. The only legal recognition available for same-sex couples are civil unions thanks to UK-wide legislation passed in 2005.

According to Gay Star News, the government of Northern Ireland basically broke down in early 2017 when a coalition of rival parties stopped working together.

And so, activists and business leaders are asking UK Parliament to step in regarding same-sex marriage.

The list of over two dozen multinational businesses supporting the marriage equality letter to Parliament include Coca-Cola, Bank of Ireland, Deloitte, Citi Belfast and Pinsent Masons.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion contribute to a happy and productive workforce and can help in attracting global talent to Northern Ireland,” says John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project and member of the Love Equality consortium. “However, without full legal recognition of same-sex marriages retaining and attracting talent can be difficult.”

Petre Sandru, Country Manager for Coca-Cola Ireland, agrees.

“As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, Coca-Cola celebrates diversity, inclusion and equality,” says Sandru. “At Coca-Cola, we know that creating an environment where everyone can reach their full potential, regardless of gender age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, ability or socio-economic background, is key to driving businesses forward.”

Corporate support has been shown to be a powerful component in the fight for equal rights.

In 2015, hundreds of major companies signed on to an amicus brief in support of marriage equality as the U.S. Supreme Court weighed the issue.

And in Australia, Coca-Cola, Quantas Airlines and more voiced their support for same-sex marriage as the country readied to vote in a mail-in referendum which eventually led to marriage equality becoming legal ‘down under’ in January of this year.



(h/t Gay Star News)

Costa Rica's Supreme Court Says Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Is Unconstitutional

Costa Rica’s Supreme Court voted to end the ban on same-sex marriage earlier this week.

According to Deutsche Welle, the Costa Rican Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday night that the laws banning same-sex marriage were discriminatory and must be immediately changed.

The Supreme Court made this decision after the historic Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling from January. While that original ruling was born from a Costa Rican case and acted as an example that marriage equality should be legal in 20 different nations, it did not directly affect Costa Rican law. But now, the Supreme Court has.

According to News Week, the Supreme Court has given Cosa Rican legislature 18 months to amend the law banning same-sex marriage. If they cannot change the law to unban same-sex marriage, it will officially become legal anyway after a year and a half.

Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado celebrated this victory on Twitter by saying:

“We continue to deploy actions that guarantee no person will face discrimination for their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that the state's protection be given to all families under equal conditions.”

But not everyone’s celebrating. In fact, several religious leaders and politicians are openly condemning this court decision.

Lawmaker Jonathan Prendas said the Supreme Court’s decision was like they  “put a gun to our head.”

In addition, Enrique Sanchez, who is the first openly gay politician in the country’s legislature, said lawmakers most likely won’t agree on a bill draft.

"What I see happening is that the norm [the gay-marriage ban] will simply be declared unconstitutional in 18 months' time," Sanchez said.

No matter what, same-sex marriage is coming to Costa Rica. Citizens might just have to wait a year and a half for it.

h/t: Deutsche Welle, News Week

It's The Five Year Anniversary Of Gay Marriage In Rhode Island

Today marks the exact five year anniversary of when the state of Rhode Island had its first same-sex weddings.

While the famous Obergefell v. Hodges case brought marriage equality to the entirety of the United States of America, the state of Rhode Island legalized gay marriage back in 2013. Then on August 1st of that year, many couples walked down the aisle.

Rhode Islanders are now celebrating the fifth anniversary of their marriages and the trials they went through to get to this point, according to ABC’s Providence Affiliate ABC6.

"It's hard to believe it's been five years, both considering how much progress we've made, including winning marriage equality across the country, and how much those gains are at risk today, particularly given the national politics around LGBT rights," said GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (or GLAD) Executive Director Janson Wu to the news source.

"It took over a decade of tireless activism and LGBT people really coming out and telling their stories and sharing their families with all of Rhode Island to get us where we are today," Wu added.

"Our greatest strengths were our families, were the same-sex couple who had been together for 30 years and had parented three children together, were the mother and father of the gay teenager who just wanted to see a world where their child could get married.”

Eventually, all of that struggle led to August 1, 2013 when several couples celebrated the right to get married. One such couple was Federico Santi and John Gacher.

According to the Providence Journal, these two went to Newport City Hall on that historic day to change their civil union into a marriage.

The two had been in a civil union since 2011, but changed to a legal marriage as soon as the chance was given. Now, they’ve enjoyed 46 years together and five being legally married.

“We wanted to do it because one could do it. Because it was finally our right to do it,” said Santi.

It’s important to celebrate the milestones and the anniversaries. In a time where the U.S. government, and many others across the globe, are hostile towards LGTBQ people, we must celebrate the profound fact of love and being together.

Congratulations to all the Rhode Island couples celebrating today.

h/t: ABC6, Providence Journal

Cuba's Constitution Draft Could Lead To Marriage Equality

Cuba is getting one step closer to legalizing marriage equality.

The communist country of Cuba has been making great strides in terms of LGBTQ rights, such as non-discrimination laws, in the past few years. This is mostly due to the advocacy of Castro’s niece Mariela Castro.

 According to Reuters, Cuba’s secretary of the council of state, Homero Acosta, told lawmakers earlier today that the new constitution will open the door to gay marriage.

As for why they are drafting a new construction, it's because Cuba’s government is currently trying to replace its 1976 Soviet-era Magna Carta.

The current draft for the update is being worked on by a commission led by former President, and father to Mariela, Raul Castro. The draft defines matrimony as between two individuals rather than between a man and a woman.

“The possibility of marriage between two people strengthens our project’s principles of equality and justice,” Acosta told lawmakers.

That said, it’s not time to celebrate yet. The new constitution hasn’t been passed and can be altered before that. In addition, there would need to be further changes before gay marriage would become legal in Cuba.

That said, there are several people fighting for marriage equality and gay rights in general.

Activist Isbel Diaz Torrez posted to social media that he and his colleagues will continue to fight until marriage equality and other rights were given to LGBTQ citizens.

“We will continue in the streets until the final process of the constitutional reform,” said Diaz Torres. “And after the constitutional modification has been approved, we must ensure that same sex marriage is approved.”

h/t: Reuters

Historic Judge Rulings Say Ecuador's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Illegal

Two Ecuadorian judges ruled in favor or marriage equality!

The judges from the Family, Women, Children and Adolescents Court ruled in favor of two lesbian couples who had their marriage license applications rejected by the Civil Registry.

Both Judges Iliana Vallejo and Ruth Alvarez ruled that the Civil Registry should “immediately” allow the women to get married.

The two ruled this way after citing the historic Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling from January that opened the door for same-sex marriage in 16 countries.

According to GayStarNews, the two judges also stated that the Civil Registry’s refusal to offer the two lesbian couples marriage licenses violated the right to equality and non-discrimination in the pursuit of building a family.

Unfortunately, the Civil Registry office has already appealed the decision and thus the court case will move up to the Provincial Court of Justice of Azuay.

That said, many LGBTQ advocates and allies are celebrating and some think this appeal is a blessing.

"It is expected that this advance in human rights in Ecuador, will strengthened in the appeal and that opens the possibility for same-sex couples are really free and equal to realize their dreams," a spokesperson for the Feminist Legal Collective told Gay Star News.

We’ll see what happens to same-sex marriage in Ecuador in due time.

Texas GOP Solidifies Its Homophobic Party Platform, 15 Years After Sodomy Ban Was Repealed

The Texas Republicans have reaffirmed their homosexuality this weekend at their convention in San Antonio this past weekend.

In an act right out of Gay Cake Wars IV, the party released the document titled Report of 2018 Permanent Platform & Resolutions Committee which includes multiple negative policies toward our community, some calling for the repeal of local, regional, or state nondiscrimination statutes which protect LGBTQ persons.

The entire platform may be read and searched here.  Some of the more volatile ones against our LGBTQ+ community are:

14. Counseling and Therapy: No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to sexual orientation counseling for self-motivated youth and adults.

102. Hate Crimes: We urge the complete repeal of the Hate Crimes Law since ample laws are currently in effect to punish criminal behavior towards other persons.

240. Gender Identity: We oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity. We call upon our legislature to enact laws prohibiting the use of hormones before the age of 18 in an attempt to change gender. We believe it should be illegal to remove healthy body parts in minors in an effort to try to transition to the opposite sex.

303. Religious Freedom for Business Owners: We support the removal of laws and regulations that are used to force business owners and employees to violate their sincerely held beliefs.

319. Overturn Unconstitutional Ruling: We believe this decision, overturning the Texas law prohibiting same-sex marriage in Texas, has no basis in the Constitution and should be reversed, returning jurisdiction over the definition of marriage to the states. The Governor and other elected officials of the State of Texas should assert our Tenth Amendment right and reject the Supreme Court ruling.

According to OutSmart Magazine, “In response to the efforts of the Log Cabin Republicans, delegates removed an especially heinous anti-gay sentence from the platform stating that, ‘Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible.'”

We expect society to go backwards as 45 has given many of the more conservative and backwards thinking citizens a voice.  They've been here before but the moral compass was progressing in such a good way.  Now, it's clicking back down.

Let us not forget that June 26, 2018 is the 15th anniversary of the legalization of gay sex in Texas–and other states.

Despite practice by heterosexual couples, the laws were specifically designed to target and to punish same-sex couples. In 1960, every state had an anti-sodomy law. That all changed with the case of Lawrence v. Texas, which fortified the right of consenting adults to engage in private sexual behavior–of any kind. - thegavoice.com

In June of 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6 to 3 that such laws were illegal. Prior to 2003, 15 American states had laws banning sodomy, even between consenting private adults (Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Utah, Texas, and Virginia). Many of these states did not take these laws off the books, but these old laws are considered null and void and cannot be used by the state to punish LGBTQ or any citizens.

Will we see the rise of Texas and its anti-LGBTQ+ laws?

h/t: thegavoice.com


Manila, Philippines Celebrates Pride As Courts Discuss Marriage Equality and 61% of Pinoy Say NO!


It is estimated that about 7 thousand people attended Manila's annual Pride March today, Saturday, June 30th, as the country's top court deliberated a case seeking to legalize same sex marriage in this predominantly Catholic nation.

The Philippine Supreme Court began oral arguments on June 19 regarding a case filed by a self-declared gay rights lawyer seeking to strike down Family Code provisions that prohibit LGBT couples from getting legally married.

President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson said the public was not yet ready for LGBT unions. The government's lawyer has also urged the court to disregard the petition because it failed to go through the lower courts first.

A poll conducted in March reported that six in 10 Filipinos opposed same-sex marriage.

LGBT rights groups said homosexual couples should have the same rights to marriage and its economic benefits as other Filipinos, while some lobby for the institution of same sex civil unions as a compromise.





Safe Space

The event is organized every June to provide a “safe space” for LGBT members to “call for their rights,” Nicky Castillo, overall co-coordinator of Metro Manila Pride, told ABS-CBN News.

“This is the one time in the whole of 12 months that suddenly they are listening to us,” Castillo said.

This year’s Pride March, coming days after the Supreme Court concluded its oral arguments on same-sex marriage, is “a call for the realization, promotion and fulfilment of our human rights,” she added

Castillo said they have been pushing to legalize same-sex unions “not for the “cakes and parties” but to be recognized as their partner’s legal spouse and immediate family.  abs-cbn.com


Same-sex marriage in the Philippines

Hours before the Pride March began, the Social Weather Stations released a survey that showed about 61 percent of Filipinos said they disagree with the proposed law that would permit same-sex marriages in the country.

The SWS study showed that about 44 percent of the total 1,200 surveyed nationwide said they “strongly disagree” with the proposed law while 17 percent said they “somewhat disagree” with it.  The SWS survey ran from from March 23 to 27, 2018.

The SWS noted that most of those who opposed belong to Christian denominations, followed by members of the Muslim and Roman Catholic faiths.

Meanwhile, 22 percent of the surveyed respondents said they agree with the proposal to have  a same-sex marriage law in the country.

The survey also revealed that about 16 percent of the respondents said they are still undecided on their support to the  proposed law.

The SWS study was conducted using a face-to-face interview with  1,200 respondents.

However, the polling body did not specifically identify if the respondents were members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community.

The Supreme Court has yet to set a date for deciding on a petition to revise a Family Code provision that limits marriage between a man and a woman.



h/t: newsinfo.inquirer.net

video: euronews.com