France Legalized Gay Marriage, but Anti-Protests Continue

Flag of France
Mass Demonstrations Against Gay Marriage and Adoption Fill Streets

France became the fourteenth country on April 23rd to legalize marriage for all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.  As early as June, same-sex weddings can take place.

Socialist President Francois Hollande, campaigned with a promise to endorse marriage equality. Recent polls showed that a majority of the French people favor equal rights for same-sex couples., but the minority continues to let their opinion known.

Protests Then

The bill was protested by the center right Union for a Popular Movement in the streets.  Before the Assembly passed the measure, 331-225, there were nightly demonstrations around Parliament resulting in a number of arrests, rioting, and vandalized cars. A protest crowd of 300,000 was estimated in March.  Jean-Marie Le Pen, the far-right former National Front leader, said “it was a surprising phenomenon, including for people in power, “to see that the demonstrations concern hundreds of thousands of people.”

Two days before the measure passed, the National Assembly president Claude Bartelone received a letter supposedly containing gun powder. The letter threatened “war” and attacks on Socialist lawmakers if the lower house approved the legislation.

Protests Now

A mass protest took place on May 26th to demand the law’s withdrawal and a gay marriage referendum.  In central Paris, tens of thousands of people protested France’s new gay marriage law and adoption.  Marchers set off from three separate points across Paris, and by early evening, they filled the Invalides esplanade just across the Seine River from the Champs Elysees. There was a separate, smaller march by conservative Christians in this Catholic country.

Estimates from police number around 150,000 people were in attendance, but march organizers claimed on their Twitter account that the number of demonstrators was close to a million. Because of previous anti-gay marriage protests have seen clashes between far-right protestors and the police, approximately 5,000 police were on duty on May 26th, France’s Mother’s Day.

A recent poll shows many French are losing patience with the protests against the “marriage for all” law that passed on May 18, In general, the demonstrations have been by religious leaders and their followers who oppose gay marriage as well as those who object to the ability of gay married couples to adopt children.

Largely peaceful, nineteen demonstrators were arrested after they climbed onto the headquarters of the Socialist Party and unfurled a banner demanding that President Hollande resign.  A van with masks, banners and smoke bombs was seized by police officers.  They used tear gas toward the end of the demonstration to break up a gathering of some masked protestors believed to be rightists known as “ultras.”

Perhaps the most violent demonstration was the suicide of an anti-gay activist Dominique Venner  at Notre Dame Cathedral’s altar on May 21st.

Half A*s Attempt by Boy Scouts for Equality


Allows Gay Members, but not Adult Leaders

The Vote Itself

On May 23, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow gay youth to join Scouting.  Sixty percent were in favor of this historic vote that overturned a twenty-two year-old ban on openly gay Scouts.

More than 1,400 voting members of the organization’s national council in Texas voted.    Delegates voted on whether openly gay boys and teens should be allowed to participate in scouting.  The meeting, at which more than 2,000 Boy Scout leaders and officials attended, concluded on May 24th. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2014.

History of Boy Scouts’ Boycott

The issue of gay Scouts has divided many people.  In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the Scouts could legally bar homosexuals from being troop leaders.  A gay Scout leader, James Dale, who was dismissed in 1990, was at the center of the case.

The California Supreme Court in 1998 heard a similar case of a gay scout, Tim Curran. Curran took a male date to his senior prom.  He sued The Mount Diablo Boy Scout Council that later barred him for scouting activities.  The California court ruled for the Scouts.

Diverse Opinions About Gay Inclusion

Many conservatives are upset at the vote’s outcome.  About 70% of all Scout Troops are run by faith-based organizations: about 37% are Mormon, 10% Methodists and 8% Catholic.  The Mormon Church, the largest supporter, has said that the change will not affect its support for Scouting.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released May 9 found that 63% of Americans support allowing gay Scouts to join and 56% believe openly gay adults should be allowed to serve as Scout leaders.

Boy Scouts of America Statement

“While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting.”

Thousands Condemn Murder of

Earlier this week thousands of people marched in Manhattan, New York to denounce a stark increase in violence against the gay community in the city and specifically the brutal aggressive shooting on of Mark Carson last weekend.

Openly gay Mark Carson was shot in the face after being followed and subjected to homophobic verbal abuse and slurs in through New York’s Greenwich Village. Witnesses claim the man charged with Carson’s murder, Elliot Morales, asked him “Do you want to die here?” and “What are you, gay wrestlers?” before shooting him in the face.

New York City Police Department chief Ray Kelly said, “It is clear that the victim here was killed only because, and just because, he was thought to be gay,”

Many are shocked by the crime, believing New York, which legalised same-sex marriage in 2011 was a safe place for gay people to live. Indeed the area of Greenwich Village is a well gay friendliness and acceptance. “There aren’t supposed to be anti-gay hate crimes taking place almost in the shadow of the Stonewall Inn,” said political analyst Richard Socarides.

On Monday, thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the shooting. Some of those present carried placards dedicated to “gay angel Mark Carson” whilst some others chanted slogans like “Hate No, Gun Control Yes” and “Homophobia’s got to go”.

The New York Police Department have said anti-gay bias crimes in the area have risen sharply compared to the equivalent period last year, from 14 incidents to 24. However the figures may not tell the whole truth for many believe that only a few anti-gay crimes are actually reported to the police for a number of reasons, not least the fear of not being treated fairly.

Morales has yet make a plea and is currently being held in custody without bail.

Gay Couple Faced Death Threats During Anti-Gay Attack In London

A gay male couple were walking through a South London park during the early hours of Sunday 19th May when they were viciously assaulted by a gang of men, one of the attackers saying “stay down faggot.”

Christopher Bryant, 42, along with his partner Damon Truluck, 38, were walking home across Betts Park in Penge, in the London Borough of Bromley, when six men approached them. “We saw them too late to get away. We ran, and I was getting away, but they caught Damon, my partner, and so I doubled back. I tried to get them off him, and that’s when they thumped me to the ground.“ Mr Bryant told local media.

“When I looked up to see if he was ok one of them kicked me in the face, and said ‘stay down faggot’. Every time I looked up to see what was happening to Damon they either thumped or kicked me, and said ‘don’t try anything’. They went through my pockets and took my wallet and phone. But they kept hitting. Before they ran off they pushed us together and told us to stay still for 5 minutes or they’d kill us.”

The vicious assault took place not long after midnight, just hours after Mr Bryant had celebrated his 42nd birthday. The attack has left both men bruised and battered with Truluck also having injuries to his back and hip, finding it difficult to walk.

In a cruel ironic twist, before this anti-gay attack both men were raising awareness of Friday’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia through online magazine

London’s Metropolitan police are investigating the incident but so far no arrests have been made.

Paris Protest Against Gay Marriage Turns Violent.


More then a million homophobes marched through the streets of Paris, France last Sunday 26th May in a specially organised demonstration against the recently passed French law that legalised same-sex marriage and adoption.

At least that’s the number the organisers, Manif Pour Tous, would have you believe that attended their march and demonstration of intolerance. The authorities paint a slightly different picture of the event that rapidly turned to violence at the end, with nearly 300 people being arrested, for they announced the estimated number of attendees amassed a little over 150,000.

Regardless of the actual number of people present, there is little doubt that not everyone in France is happy about the same-sex marriage and adoption bill that was signed into law earlier this month by President François Hollande.

Manif Pour Tous, have organised several demonstrations against the bill over the recent months, that have seen hundreds of thousands of people marching on the streets of the capital. However, much like many of the previous demonstrations, tensions rose until violent clashes erupted between the police and demonstrators during the evening. According to official reports, b by the end of the night the police had arrested 293 people had been arrested and thousands of dollars worth of damaged caused.

The demonstrators hurled glass bottles, smoke bombs and even sound grenades at police whilst chanting various things including “Hollande resign!” Some protesters carried signs that read “Made in Mama + Papa,” while others waved pink and blue flags.

Manif Pour Tous are already planning other events, regardless of the fact that there is little chance of the new legislation being repealed “[The] message is that we’re not letting go of anything, that we’re going to continue to resist. The idea is to show that although the law has been passed, we are still mobilised,” Marie-Camille Richard, deputy communications director of Manif Pour Tous said. “We are a movement that must now be considered a part of the French political landscape. Not political in the sense that we will engage in politics, but political in the sense that politicians today must recognise our presence.”

Whilst many of the anti-gay marriage campaigners and commentators have blamed the violent behaviour of some of the demonstrators on ultra far right groups, they have done little to distance themselves or their campaign against equality from such groups, even utilising their social network pages and profiles to help organise events and mobilise supporters.

While the same-sex marriage and adoption bill may already have been passed, there are still many questions yet to be addressed of assisted reproduction and surrogacy for gay and lesbian couples which will come up for debate shortly. Both issues are vigorously opposed by France’s social conservative and religious groups and Manif Pour Tous have promised they‘ll be there every step of the way.

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Gay-Rights Issue to Immigration Reform Bill Is At a Standstill

May Become a Senate Showdown

An amendment sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) would allow U.S. citizens in long-term relationships to sponsor foreign partners for green cards (as opposite sex married couples are allowed by law). Out of the 300 proposed changes that have been filed by Judiciary panel members, this amendment, seems to be causing the most controversy.

Leahy has two amendments: One would implement the Uniting American Families Act; the other would exempt immigration law from the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that could be struck down by the U.S Supreme Court next month anyway.


Gay-rights groups want President Obama to offer more support to immigrants in same-sex marriages.  Equal treatment for same-sex couples was included in the president’s principles for comprehensive immigration reform last January. Yet, the President could do much more to advocate for amendments sponsored by Senator Leahy. Obama has said that “protection for same-sex bi-national couples is “the right thing to do” yet does not say that it has to be part of immigration reform. Through an executive order, it’s speculated that Obama could extend equal treatment to same-sex couples under immigration law.

The lead author of Senate immigration reform legislation and a co-sponsor of Leahy’s Uniting American Families Act, which would extend equal immigration treatment to long-term same-sex couples is Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin, D-Ill. are the two Democratic members of the bill-writing group known as “Gang of Eight.” The eight senators have committed to join together to defeat amendments from either side that could derail the bill. Schumer and Durbin have not said how they will vote.  Durbin, Senate Majority Whip, said the bipartisan coalition did not agree to add the gay partner amendment.

One of Leahy’s amendments would implement the Uniting American Families Act; the other would exempt immigration law from the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that could be struck down by the U.S Supreme Court next month anyway.


The Democrats are in a tough place.  They are being forced by Republicans to choose between delivering a win for gay families and maintaining bipartisan support. They don’t want to tell gay rights advocates that the amendment may not get a vote in the Judiciary Committee and take the blame.

If the amendment gets into the immigration bill, it could endanger the whole comprehensive immigration reform plan.

The four Republicans among the eight senators who  wrote the immigration bill have said that such a provision could cost their support and kill the bill. Said Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., “if that issue is injected into this bill, this bill will fail.”

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) commented on May 13, 2013 that “if the Judiciary Committee tries to redefine marriage in the immigration bill they will lose me and many others.”

Also opposed are religious groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention that have backed the immigration reform

A Stalemate?

Gay-rights advocates said on May 15, 2013, they didn’t know when Leahy will offer his amendment to require equal treatment for same-sex couples.  One source predicted it would come late in the markup of the bill, which is expected to span a couple of weeks, but before the Memorial Day recess.






Bill Protecting Religious Freedom Passes Arizona House


Senate Bill 1178 Passed the House of Representatives with a 32-24 Vote

Last Wednesday, May 15, 2013, the Arizona House passed a measure that would offer further protection for the religious liberties of its state citizens. The bill seeks to strengthen religious freedom in the state by predominantly giving all “impending” religious liberty violation, as opposed to a violation which has already taken place. The measure also expands the definition of exercise of religion to specifically include both the practice and observance of religion.

Will Bill Hurt Small Business?

The bill passed despite opposition from civil liberties groups who are afraid that the measure will inspire lawsuits over alleged First Amendment violations. They believe that the bill will be a nightmare for businesses because it doesn’t specify what constitutes a potential violation of religious liberty.

The Original Bill

Senator Steve Yarbrough of Chandler, the bill’s sponsor, initially introduced a broader bill that would have alllowed people to sue governments over attacks on religious freedom, regardless if the government was involved in the claim.

The original bill also stipulated that governments could only limit religious liberties to further an “interest in the highest magnitude.” If allowed, that version of the bill, would have been one of the strongest in the nation, according to supporters.

Stricter Language on New Version

Arizona law and the U.S. Constitution already protect the free exercise of religion, but proponents want stricter language.  The Center for Arizona Policy,which supports the bill, said in a statement on its website that “it is necessary to update Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and to close loopholes that might jeopardize a person’s free exercise of religion in Arizona.” Persecuting individuals or groups for their religious beliefs creates second-class citizens who are seen as less valuable because of their faith.”

“To ensure religious liberty is protected to the maximum extent possible in our state, “ the bill “makes important clarifications and updates,” says The Center for Arizona Policy.

Drawbacks of New Bill

Rep. Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix) does not like the revamped bill because it does no longer allows a defendant to sue to the government over an attack on religious freedom regardless of the whether the government is involved.  He remarked to the AZ Capitol Times “while you may not be encouraging litigation (with the new version of the bill), …I think you are opening the door for litigation that is probably unnecessary and burdensome, especially for small businesses. “

Yarbrough said on May 15th that he would have preferred the original version, but he supports the amended measure and wants to see Senate Bill 1178 go to a Senate vote.


Church of Scotland Accepts Gay Ministers.

The Church Of Scotland's General Assembly
The Church of Scotland‘s ruling general assembly has voted to allow congregations in Scotland to admit gay ministers, if they elect to do so, in a radical departure from more than 450 years of history and ending a four year long argument.

The ‘gay ministers’ issue has dominated discussion within the church for some time after an openly gay minister, Scott Rennie, was selected to lead a parish in Aberdeen in 2009.

The general assembly rejected a motion which would have made gay ordination – solely for ministers in civil partnerships or who are celibate – the default position of the Church of Scotland, by 340 votes to 282.

The new deal now has to be written into a new church law and authorised by next year’s general assembly, affirms the traditional teaching of the church as favouring heterosexual ministers, but will allow congregations to opt in to select gay ministers if they wish.

Due to the archaic and complicated law-making procedures within the church little is expected to change until at least 2015, however commentators are applauding this new measure – “This has been one way or another, a massive vote for the peace and unity of the church.” John Chalmers, the Church of Scotland’s principal clerk said, adding that both sides of the debate had moved to agree a compromise.

The Church of Scotland has been edging ever closer towards gay ordination since Rennie’s appointment. During in 2011 the general assembly voted to allow gay ministers already employed, to remain in place, so long as they were in openly-declared civil partnerships or were celibate and had been ordained before 2009.

Not everyone is happy, many critics of gay ordination after still warning the new measure will further drive a dividing wedge in church membership and force some members, ministers or congregations to leave the church.


Connecticut Bill to Restore Benefits for Discharged Gay Veterans To Hit Gov.’s Desk soon

Gay and Lesbians Veterans Discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) was the official United States policy on gays serving in the military from December 21, 1993, to September 20, 2011.  The policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual persons from military service.

The act prohibited any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages of other familial attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces.  The act specified that service members who disclose that they are homosexual or engage in homosexual conduct should be separated (discharged) except when a service member’s conduct was “for the purpose of avoiding or terminating military service: Since DADT ended in 2011, open gays and lesbians have been able to serve.

Veterans’ Eligibility for State Benefits

On May 16, the state House of Representatives voted 134-0 in favor of legislation making veterans eligible for state benefits if they have been denied federal benefits solely because of their sexual orientation. Another requirement is that the veteran’s federal benefits must have been reinstated.

Last month, the bill, in a 34-0 vote, was passed by the Senate. Senator Carlo Leone ( D-36 of Stamford and Darien) said last month that the bill “cannot undo the mistakes of our past but can help restore rightly earned benefits.”

The legislation will soon be on Governor Dannel Mallory’s desk.