Lawsuit: Service members win full pay
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Jan 7, the government agreed to settle a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 181 former service members who had their separation pay cut in half due to a Defense Department policy targeting service members honorably discharged for “homosexuality.” Under the terms of the settlement, plaintiffs will receive their full pay, which amounts to approximately $2.4 million. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Mexico filed the lawsuit.
Federal law entitles service members to separation pay if they have been involuntarily and honorably discharged from the military after completing at least six years of service in order to help ease their transition to civilian life.
‘Advocate’ ranks the ‘Gayest Cities’
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — National LGBT magazine The Advocate has compiled its fourth annual list of the “Gayest Cities in America” and the results sidestep many of the expected gay hotspots. As the feature notes, “Outside of fabulous soirees and mimosa brunches, there is much more to LGBT life in America.”
“We never know which cities will make the list until we start tallying the points,” said Matthew Breen, editor in chief of The Advocate. “So it’s a nice surprise to us as well when an unexpected place delivers more gay cred than we expected. But the dialogue this list sparks is the ultimate goal.”
The list can be read online at advocate.com/print-issue/current-issue/2013/01/09/gayest-cities-america-2013.
High Court sets Prop. 8, DOMA dates
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, on March 26. The very next day, the High Court will hear oral argument in United States v. Windsor, a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Enacted in November 2008, Prop. 8 eliminated the right of gay and lesbian Californians to marry. Early last year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling upholding the August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Prop. 8 unconstitutional.
Enacted by Congress in 1996, DOMA nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law. The broad reach of the law affects such matters as inheritance rights for surviving spouses, the ability to file joint tax returns and immigration rights for gay Americans with non-citizen partners.
Hagel nomination met with concern
WASHINGTON, D.C. — LGBT rights groups issued statements ranging from concern to outright opposition to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. During his time in the U.S. Senate, Hagel scored an abysmal four percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard and 14 percent with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
“With our country facing so many important battles ahead on such crucial issues as immigration reform, climate justice and gun control, it’s baffling why President Obama would spend political capital on a nominee who so clearly is at odds with his Administration’s values,” said Heather Cronk, managing director for LGBT rights group GetEQUAL.
National Cathedral will marry gays
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marriage equality advocates applauded the Washington National Cathedral’s announcement that it will begin celebrating weddings of gay and lesbian couples. The Cathedral is the most visible faith community within the Episcopal Church.
Following recent victories for marriage equality across the country and particularly in Maryland and here in the nation’s capital, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, observed, “It is now only fitting that the National Cathedral follow suit. We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God — and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation.”
Celibate gay bishops allowed
LONDON, England — For the first time, the Church of England will allow gays to serve as bishops provided they pledge to remain celibate. (Note that this change applies to gay men only, as women are not permitted to serve as bishops.) Historically, Anglican clergy are allowed to marry. The celibacy requirement for gay bishops was a compromise between liberals, who advocated for full equality, and conservatives, who initially rejected the idea outright.
The move is certain to further widen the split that has developed between liberal Anglicans in the U.K., Canada and America — The Episcopal Church (USA) — and conservatives, particularly in Africa. Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, who heads the largest province in the Anglican Communion, said the decision “could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion.”