Possible headway with Scouts

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Sources have confirmed that Boy Scouts of America officials have proposed a new policy — which could be voted on as early as 2013 — that would allow local chartering organizations to decide whether or not to accept gay youth and leaders. The proposal comes after Eagle Scout Zach Wahls (pictured with credit to GLAAD) delivered more than 275,000 signatures to the group’s National Annual Meeting calling for the reinstatement of a lesbian den leader in Ohio who was removed due to her sexual orientation, and for repeal of the ban against openly gay scouts and scout leaders.

Wahls met with the BSA’s Public Relations Director, Deron Smith, and other top-ranking Boy Scout officials who asked not to be named at the May 31 national gathering.

Court extends crucial parental rights

SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Supreme Court issued a decision June 1 extending critical protections for non-biological mothers raising children with same-sex partners. The Court held that a woman who raises a child with another woman and assumes parental and financial responsibility for the child can be a legal parent under New Mexico law, just as a male parent would be, regardless of whether she is a biological parent.

Bani Chatterjee and her partner, Taya King, decided to have a child together through international adoption. Because they could not adopt jointly due to discrimination against same-sex couples, only Taya legally adopted their daughter but both co-parented her. The couple ended their relationship after nine years and Taya moved to Colorado with their daughter and tried to prevent Bani from having any contact with their child.

Chatterjee filed a petition in the New Mexico district court to establish parentage and seek custody under the New Mexico Uniform Parentage Act because she openly held out the child as her own and established a personal, financial or custodial relationship with the child. The district court dismissed Bani’s case. The New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled that New Mexico law only allows fathers, not mothers, to establish parentage based on these facts, but said Bani might be able to seek visitation as a non-legal parent.

The New Mexico Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and ruled that a woman who holds herself out as the child’s parent and has a parental relationship with the child can be a legal parent under New Mexico law. The Court also made it clear that once the non-biological parent is recognized as a parent, they have equal standing under the law to seek custody.

Ninth Circuit rules against Prop 8

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — On June 5, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied review by a larger panel of judges of that Court’s Feb. 7 decision striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional. Proposition 8 is the 2008 measure that stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry in California. The Ninth Circuit’s February decision held that Proposition 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution because it “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

The court’s denial means that Prop 8 supporters have 90 days to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

Report shows trans elders’ needs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) have released “Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults: Recommendations for Policy and Practice,” a new resource on the current state of transgender aging. Transgender older adults face unique challenges including overwhelming disparities in health and health care access, employment, housing and more. The report recognizes the importance of examining these factors as they directly affect the financial security, health and overall well-being of older transgender individuals.

The report includes a detailed literature review, profiles of personal experiences of transgender elders around the country and more than 60 concrete recommendations for policymakers and practitioners.

To download “Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults,” or to learn more about the issues covered in the report, visit sageusa.org or transequality.org.

Court upholds right to assemble

STRASBOURG, France — The European Court of Human Rights ruled June 12 that Moldova violated the law when it denied LGBT activist group GENDERDOC-M the right to hold a peaceful demonstration in front of the Moldovan Parliament. The decision is important because it establishes that “public morality” is not be an objective and reasonable justification for a difference in treatment under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2005, the Chisinau Municipal Council and the Mayor’s Office rejected GENDERDOC-M’s application to peacefully demonstrate in front of Parliament for the adoption of laws protecting sexual minorities. The denial was later upheld by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice.