#SameSexMarriage

Religious Groups Get Approval For A Referendum On Marriage Equality In Taiwan

Taiwan’s race towards same-sex marriage has just reached a major obstacle.

We’ve kept you updated on the entire situation surrounding Taiwan and its legal battles towards marriage equality. Despite the country’s highest court stating that the Civil Code’s definition of marriage, being between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional, religious groups are fighting to keep the definition that way.

After making that historic ruling in 2017, Taiwan’s parliament, the Legislative Yuan, was tasked with creating a new law that would overrule the old one or updating the old Civil Code to match the court’s ruling. Unfortunately, the parliament was given till the start of 2019 to enact this law.

While the parliament made sure to take the full two years, religious groups have been advocating for an overruling of that court decision.

Religious groups in Taiwan started working towards a referendum earlier this year, and now it looks like they got it.

Conservative group, the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, has been petitioning for a referendum (or public vote) on marriage equality and the legal definition of marriage.

According to the Japan Times, the organization got enough signatures for the second round and the referendum was approved earlier today. Even worse, the election commission has also agreed on a referendum focusing on LGBTQ education in schools.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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LGBTQ activists have expressed being upset by this turn of events, but as Jennifer Lu, the coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, expressed, “We do not have time for disappointment.”

Lu has urged allies of LGBTQ citizens in Tawain to have “millions of conversations” on the topic and let everyone know that marriage equality is a good thing. In addition, she has urged citizens to show up and vote for same-sex marriage.

Perhaps this referendum will end up like Romania’s where citizens chose not to show up to vote on marriage equality. This then kept it from being blocked.

If the vote does take place in Taiwan, the situation could get sticky. Several polls before the historic court decision showed that the general populace was nearly split on the topic. With religious groups becoming more vocal to stop marriage equality, there is worry that they will incite more citizens to join them.

We’ll see what happens in Taiwan, the country that almost became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, as we get closer to the vote.

h/t: The Japan Times

Trump Administration Will No Longer Grant Visas To Same-Sex Partners Of Diplomats

In reversing a nine-year policy begun by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Trump administration continues to demonstrate hostility to same-sex couples.

Beginning Monday (October 1), the U.S. State Department will require same-sex partners of staff of international organizations based in the U.S. to be married in order to qualify for a proper visa.

The policy change will affect foreign employees of organizations like the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

From the State Department’s website on G-4 visas: “Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses.”

The State Department issued a statement saying the policy change is meant to “help ensure and promote equal treatment” between straight and gay couples. In order to obtain a G-4 visa, straight couples are required to be married.

The difference for same-sex couples, however, is that in many of their native countries same-sex marriage, or even homosexuality, is illegal.

Of the 193 United Nations member states, only 25 have recognized same-sex marriage. And then there are countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran which have death penalties for being gay.

And, as Fabrice Houdart, a human rights official at the United Nations told NBC News, “The policy seems to presume that same-sex partners should be able to easily visit the United States on a tourist visa where they could get married. But for people in many countries, particularly poor and conservative countries like the ones that do not permit same-sex marriage, obtaining a tourist visa to visit the United States is extremely difficult.”

Under the new policy, the partners of United Nations workers, for example, that are not legally married will have 30 days after the new year to either get married or exit the United States.

So, what do these couples do?

The choices available to them are to abandon their careers here in the U.S. or get married here only to face possibly severe penalties back home.

Former Ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, called the move “needlessly cruel & bigoted” via Twitter.

 

 

And the Human Rights Campaign followed up saying the policy change “reflects the hostility of the Trump-Pence administration toward LGBTQ people and our friends and allies.”

“It is hatred, and it is unacceptable,” the HRC added.

 

 

(h/t NBC News)

(image via Flickr/Paul VanDerWerf - CC License)

The Social Security Administration Wants To Remind Married Gay Couples To Apply For Benefits

The Social Security Administration (or SSA) is trying to make sure that same-sex couples in the United States of America know their social security benefits.

For decades, gay couples in America have wished for the same rights as their straight peers. Instead, they had to worry about the lack of benefits and rights like hospital visits/information, financial backing, and post-mortem support.

Thanks to 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges however, same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states of the USA. That said, many gay couples are unaware of their rights as legally married citizens. In addition, several couples have yet to claim the benefits that they can now legally acquire.

And what benefits do same-sex couples under those categories have? The SSA is reaching out to let gay couples know.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Same-sex couples, and especially married couples, can collect spousal benefits based on their wife or husband’s work history.

In addition, any children can claim benefits from both of their legally recognized gay parents. Plus, both parents can then place their names on the child’s Social Security number record.

Also, disability benefits are available for the family if a partner becomes disabled and meets the government’s requirements.

As the SSA writes:

“One in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire.”

Disability benefits provide financial support for disabled workers and their dependents, including our wounded warriors. You can apply for Social Security disability benefits online.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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That support during the hard times continues even in death.

“The loss of a loved one can be both emotionally and financially difficult. Some widows, widowers, and children may receive survivor benefits to help them cope with the financial loss,” writes the SSA.

That said, it’s not all on the SSA as same-sex couples will need to put in effort too. Not only will same-sex couples need to apply for benefits as soon as possible, but couples also have to report on other updates like divorce or death.

“You must tell us if you get married, enter a non-marital legal relationship, or divorce because your marital status may affect your entitlement to benefits. If we stop your benefits because of marriage or remarriage, we may start them again if the marriage ends,” says the SSA.

If you are married, going to get married, or are entering a new phase after getting married, you should keep the SSA up-to-date. They will have you covered with legal benefits, so it’s only right (and responsible) to keep them in the loop.

"Social Security has always changed to meet the needs of the people we serve and will continue to help secure today and tomorrow for you and your family," said the SSA.

After you do that, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy both your relationship and your legal rights.

h/t: The SSA

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)

LGBTQ Ally Kelly Clarkson Does Not Suffer Haters Lightly

Do not come for the gays on Kelly Clarkson’s Twitter account or you will be named and shamed.

On Sunday, the ever-and-always American Idol offered congrats to a couple of fans who had just tied the knot.

 

 

But one fan wasn’t down with Clarkson’s support for same-sex marriage, tweeting, “Sorry Kelly…. love your music but I don’t dig the dikes…still a sin any way you cut it.”

 

 

The Voice judge clapped back saying originally she wasn’t going to give the hate a spotlight, but decided the truth was more important.

Clarkson tweeted: “I almost didn’t respond 2 this because hate doesn’t deserve a spotlight but u know what, truth does, & the truth is that God is Love, & Love shared between two people should be praised not condemned in my personal opinion. I love u 2 although we see the world/love differently.”

 

 

BOOM!

#WeLoveYouKellyClarkson

Episcopal Church Approves New Rules To Allow Same-Sex Marriage in All Dioceses

There’s good news for LGBTQ folks who belong to the Episcopal Church. 

At the Episcopal Church’s General Convention last week, a triennial event, the Church’s House of Bishops and House of Deputies approved resolution B012, which will allow gay and lesbian couples to be married in their home parish even if their local bishop has moral objections to gay marriage.

At the Church’s 2015 convention, gender-neutral marriage rites were approved for use in same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed by clergy who were willing to participate. But, bishops were still allowed to forbid such ceremonies in their diocese if they disapproved.

Under the new resolution, which goes into effect in December, when a same-sex couple wishes to marry in a diocese where same-sex marriage is not condoned, the priest who has agreed to conduct the ceremony will be allowed to reach out to an Episcopal bishop in another diocese who can step in and provide pastoral support for the couple.

To be clear, though: no priest can be forced to perform any marriage ceremony they do not wish to be a part of.

The majority of convention attendees agreed with the solution.

From LifeSiteNews:

One priest said, “For 40 years our LGBT brothers and sisters have been at the back of the bus and, every so often, they are invited to move forward one row at a time.”

Another delegate who is a longtime pro-LGBT leader said she supported the resolution “recognizing that this is a hard-won compromise but one which I believe will lead us forward into that work as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.”

The chairman of the General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, “implored deputies to complete convention’s actions on marriage. ‘We are fond of saying around the Episcopal Church that all are welcome, and all means all, y’all,’” according to an Episcopal News Service report.

According to the Episcopal Church website, the 8 holdout bishops who did not condone same-sex marriages were:  Albany Bishop William Love, Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer, Dallas Bishop George Sumner, Florida Bishop John Howard, North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, Springfield Bishop Dan Martins, Tennessee’s Bauerschmidt and U.S. Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs.

Bermuda Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage - Again

They say strange things can happen in the “Bermuda Triangle,” and this story may be even more proof of that.

In June of 2016, the citizens of Bermuda rejected the idea of legalized marriage equality by a vote of 69% against.

Boo!

Then, in May of 2017, Bermuda’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

Yay!

And then, in December, the Bermuda Assembly voted to halt same-sex marriages by passing the Domestic Partnership Act (DPA) making domestic partnerships the legal recognition offered to same-sex couples. These would offer the same rights as opposite-sex marriage, but without the title of ‘marriage’.

Boo again!

Now, the island nation’s Supreme Court  just ruled in favor of same-sex marriage again, making marriage equality the law of the land - again.

Yay again!

The Bermudan Supreme Court ruled against the section of the Domestic Partnership Act (DPA) which banned marriage equality.

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley said the sections of the Act which repealed the right to same-sex marriage were invalid because they were not in line with Constitutional provisions which give the right to "freedom of conscience and creed."

Johnson Lord and Hartnett-Beasley, Directors of OUTBermuda, helped turn the marriage equality issue in Bermuda around.

In a statement, the duo said:

“We all came to the court with one purpose. That was to overturn the unfair provisions of the Domestic Partnership Act that tried to take away the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Revoking same-sex marriage is not merely unjust, but regressive and unconstitutional; the Court has now agreed that our belief in same-sex marriage as an institution is deserving of legal protection and that belief was treated by the Act in a discriminatory way under Bermuda’s Constitution. We continue to support domestic partnership rights for all Bermudians to choose, but not at the expense of denying marriage to some.”

LGBT advocacy groups applauded the result as well.

From the Human Rights Campaign’s Ty Cobb: “The Bermuda Supreme Court has righted the injustice that occurred when Bermudian lawmakers made the islands the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality. We congratulate the plaintiffs in this case on their historic victory ensuring that once again. Love Wins!”

And from Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD said: “Today the Bermuda Supreme Court affirmed what we already know – that love can never be rolled back and that all loving and committed couples deserve the protections that only marriage affords.”

Watch reactions to the ruling below.

 

Reactions -

 

Gay Couple Wins Residency Rights At EU's High Court

Romanian-born Adrian Coman and his American boyfriend, Clai Hamilton, married in Belgium in 2010 after dating for 8 years.

Living in New York City in 2012, Coman requested residency permits for Mr. Hamilton to live and work in Romania. But the request was denied on the basis that the country doesn't recognize same-sex marriage.

The couple took their case to the Romanian courts in 2016 which referred the gentlemen to the European Court of Justice to inquire whether EU law applied to the issue of same-sex marriage.

EU law permits a non-EU spouse of an EU citizen to join his or her spouse in the member state where the European national resides.

According to the BBC, the EU court ruled on Tuesday that member states must recognize marriages contracted between people of the same sex in member countries.

“Although the member states have the freedom whether or not to authorise marriage between persons of the same sex, they may not obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his same-sex spouse, a national of a country that is not an EU Member State, a derived right of residence in their territory,” the court said.

"We are grateful to the EU Court and to the many people and institutions who have supported us, and through us, other same-sex couples in a similar situation," said Coman in response to the ruling. "It is human dignity that wins today."

Of the 28 member nations of the European Union, only 14 have moved to legalize same-sex marriage. Six member nations have no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

Which Alvarado Will Win In Costa Rica Today? Will Marriage Equality Be Victorious?

IT'S Easter Sunday and polls opened at 6 AM today in Costa Rica for a vote on whom will be that nation's next president.  The Conservative candidate,Christian singer and former TV journalist Fabricio Alvarado Munoz, looks to swing the current government's stance away from embracing gay rights.

An Inter-American Court of Human Rights based in San Jose, Costa Rica decided during a trial in Panama in January that marriage equality should be law. (Costa Rica: Pro Marriage Equality Court Ruling to Carry Over to a Total of 20 Nations (Jan 2018))

Not only is the ruling binding for the Central American country [of Panama], the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling also sets precedent for 19 other countries who have agreed to abide by the court’s decisions. The ruling is legally binding in Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.

The current Costa Rican center-left ruling party candidate, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, supports following the above ruling.

Related Post: Costa Rica 'Accidentally' Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage? (July 2013)

Fabricio, seems to have based much of his campaign on his defiance of the court ruling, which may have helped him defeat his other 12 candidates in his party in February.

“We’re united... in defending life and family, but also to defend ethics and transparency and the battle against corruption,” the singer, who is a member of the Protestant Pentecostal movement, said on the eve of Sunday’s vote in a video appeal to Catholics, who account for more than six out 10 people in the country, seeking to forge common cause. - UK.Reuters.com

Like the US, the more modernized, coastal, and cultural areas of Costa Rica seem more moderate and liberal while the inner rural and less advanced communities are conservative.

Is marriage equality THE topic of the election?  It seems that the subject has overshadowed other crucial aspects, for one, the massive budget deficits

 

 

h/t: UK.Reuters.com

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