Out-of-state marriages OK’d
NEW YORK, N.Y. — New York Gov. David Paterson (pictured) issued a directive May 29 instructing state agencies to change their policies and recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples performed in other jurisdictions, such as Massachusetts, California, Spain and Canada. Paterson first announced his intention to grant the directive in a videotaped message played May 17 at the Empire State Pride Agenda dinner.

Legal experts said the governor’s directive would not allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in New York, but would make it the first state in the country to fully recognize gay marriages performed in other states or countries. New York state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has said that same-sex marriage can only be legalized by the New York Legislature. A marriage bill was passed by the Democratic-led state Assembly but was not given a vote in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Richard Burns, executive director of N.Y. City’s LGBT Center, said, “Governor Paterson has proven himself once again to be a true ally to the LGBT community and to our families. As we await New York State’s pending legislation legalizing same-sex marriages, I want to thank Governor Paterson on this bold move.”

Slim majority support marriage
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A new Field Poll conducted after the state Supreme Court’s ruling for same-sex marriage indicates that public opinion in California has moved toward support of marriage for lesbian and gay couples. According to the poll, 51 percent of Californians agree that such couples should be allowed to marry, while the percentage opposing marriage for same-sex couples has shrunk to 42 percent.
Right-wing groups are seeking to prevent gay marriages through a constitutional amendment that will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. The survey revealed that 54 percent oppose changing the state constitution to exclude gay couples from marriage, while only 40 percent favor such a change. Ballot measures that start off with a majority in opposition historically go down in defeat.

Democrats were overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage, with Republicans overwhelmingly opposed. Evangelical Christians were against, 68 to 24 percent. Protestants were against, 57 to 34 percent. Catholics were nearly evenly split. Voters from other religious groups favored gay marriage, 61 to 33 percent. Eighty-one percent of people with no religious preferences supported gay marriage.

New equality law in Colorado
DENVER, Calif. — Gov. Bill Ritter signed legislation May 29 prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, public accommodations, credit transactions, juror service, and nearly 20 other areas. The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Jennifer Veiga and state Rep. Joel Judd, expands existing laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, sex, religion, disability and other characteristics. The new law takes effect immediately.

Anti-gay Focus on the Family founder James Dobson opposed the law. He argued that it would put women and children in danger by allowing “a predator, bisexual, cross-dresser or even a homosexual or heterosexual male” to use the women’s restroom.

“As Gov. Ritter has said, this law is about basic fairness and treating people equally,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Opponents of equality did their best to scare and divide Coloradans, but it’s heartening to see that their tactics were rejected. This is a positive step forward for Colorado, coming on the heels of two pro-equality laws enacted in 2007.”

Shareholders inch Exxon forward
DALLAS, Texas — Although falling short of passage, shareholders at Exxon Mobil Corp. voted with record support for a resolution to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the company’s official equal employment opportunity policy. The percentage of shares voted in favor of the proposal has grown each of the last nine years, with 39.6 percent of shares voting in favor of the policy in May. This is the first year the resolution has included “gender identity.”

ExxonMobil is the only Fortune 50 company that refuses to write sexual orientation protections into its primary non-discrimination policy. The company’s competitors, BP Corp., Chevron Corp., Dow Chemical, DuPont and Shell Oil, all have non-discrimination statements inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Prior to the merger, Mobil Corp.’s equal employment opportunity policy included “sexual orientation,” and the company offered domestic partner benefits to its employees. Upon Mobil’s 1999 union with Exxon, the non-discrimination protection was removed and the domestic partner benefits program closed to new employees.

Nunn: Time to revisit military ban
WASHINGTON, DC — Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (pictured) said earlier this month that he believes it is time to revisit the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that bans lesbians, gays and bisexuals from serving openly in the military. Nunn, one of the principal sponsors of the 1993 law, said in Atlanta, “I think [when] 15 years go by on any personnel policy, it’s appropriate to take another look at it — see how it’s working, ask the hard questions, hear from the military. Start with a Pentagon study.”

The response from Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, was frosty. “It’s a bit of a stretch for Sen. Nunn to now suggest a Pentagon study when one was done by the Rand Corporation in 1993 and whose findings were totally at odds with the proposed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law. Unfortunately, Senator Nunn rejected that study and instead gave us ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ … But I am happy that he thinks, however belatedly, that it’s time to take another look at the law.”

Since its implementation, the ban has resulted in the dismissal of more than 12,000 men and women from the armed forces.

David Stout

David Stout is the associate editor of QNotes. He can be reached at editor2@goqnotes.com.