Federal Court Upholds Ca. Ban on Conversion Therapy For Minors

State’s Ban on Conversion Therapy Does Not Violate Free Speech

The 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on August 29 that the state’s ban on conversion or reparative therapy that aims at turning gay minors straight does not violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment. This is a precedent for California and prohibits health practitioners from offering psychotherapy aimed at changing gay youth’s sexual orientation.

Excludes Religious Groups

Unlicensed pastors and lay counselors affiliated with church programs that seek to change gay youth to straight sexual identity are exempt from this law. The therapy’s effect on gay persons has been questioned or rejected by all the mental health professional associations. Reports of suicide, low self-esteem, depression have been experienced by those who have undergone reparative therapy. There are no long-term studies of the efficacy of the therapy.

Alan Chambers, Director of Exodus International, one of the more well-known ex-gay Christian organizations, issued an apology in June as did Robert Spitzer, M.D. of Columbia University who retracted his “Ex-Gay Study of 2001 last April. Spitzer, one of the original psychiatrists who led the movement to have homosexuality as a disorder removed from the Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual in 1973, deemed his study faulty.

Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris stated that the ban was necessary to protect children from a coercive practice that can put them at increased risk of suicide. Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey recently signed into law a similar ban on reparative therapy for minors in his state.

Injunction Against SB1172

The new ban was scheduled to go into effect January 1 but was put on hold by the 9th Circuit. District Court Judge William Shubb blocked the law banning the harmful therapy.
The cases that the appeals court had to decide on were brought by professionals who practice sexual orientation change therapy, two families who said their teenage sons benefitted from the therapy, and a national association of Christian mental health counselors argue that the ban infringes on their free speech, freedom of association and religious rights, and in the case of the counselors, jeopardizes their livelihoods.

However, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1985, Judge Susan Graber, a 1998 appointee of Bill Clinton’s, and Judge Morgan Christen, a 2012 appointee of President Barack Obama, heard the case and unanimously held that California has the power to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies deemed harmful, and the fact that speech may be used to carry out these therapies does not turn such bans into prohibitions of speech.

The law says therapists and counselors who treat minors with methods designed to eliminate or reduce their same-sex attractions would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards.

WAL-MART Employee’s Domestic Partners To Receive Health Benefits

Full-time Associates in 2014 Can Cover LGBT Spouse or Domestic Partner

The world’s largest retailer and single largest employer outside of the federal government said on August 27 that it will offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners of its U.S. employees in all fifty states next year. Regardless of local laws that vary from state to state on same-sex marriage, Wal-mart spokesman David Tovar said, “since we operate in all fifty states, we thought it was important to develop a single definition for all Wal-Mart associates in the United States.” Another spokesperson Randy Grove, stated that “by adopting a single definition, we’ll offer clarity and consistency for our associates.”

Wal-Mart, that, in the past has had human rights violations, is not only extending the usual health benefits, but is adding a vision plan, critical illness or accident plans, life insurance, and 100% coverage for some surgeries, including hip replacement and programs to quit smoking.

Conditions for Receiving Benefits

In a postcard that was sent to workers, employees were notified that the “full suite” of benefits will be available starting January 1. The sign-up period runs from October 12 to November 1. To qualify, the employees’ domestic partners can be covered if they are legal spouses, not legally separated or a domestic partner defined as “someone living in a relationship similar to marriage for at least twelve month with the intention to continue sharing a household indefinitely.”(Of course, the benefits also apply to heterosexual couples who are domestic partners.)

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, isn’t looking for proof from employees that they have met the requirements; they are working on an honor system. More than half of its 1.3 million U.S. employees are on its health-care plans. However, the company currently does not know how many employees will use either of the new benefits.

Policy Change

The policy change occurred after discussions within the company, but not the result of any board vote. The inclusion of LGBT domestic partners is regarded as a “business decision,” not a moral claim.

The company caused controversy when previously it halted plans to build stores in D.C. after the District passed a law requiring large retailers to pay at least $12 an hour to employees. Executive Director of the LGBT labor group Pride at Work, Darren Phelps, said he wants to see more from the company in terms of wages for employees.

According to Human Rights Campaign’s 2013 Corporate Equality Index, Wal-mart previously offered an LGBT-inclusive policy, but lacked partner benefits and didn’t provide transgender-inclusive health insurance or LGBT competency training or resources. The implementation of domestic partnership benefits will improve the company’s rating on the HRC’s CEI score.

Top Aide to Martin Luther King Receives, Posthumously, Presidential Medal of Freedom

Bayard Rustin Organized March on Washington in ‘63

If you, like I, didn’t know the name of Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), don’t feel ashamed. Called “the unsung hero of the Civil Rights Movement, Rustin was unapologetically Black and unapologetically gay and for a significant period of history he was erased,” comments Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition for Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Early Pacifist

Raised as a Quaker in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Bayard Rustin learned from his grandmother Julia to take a nonviolent yet effective stand for equality at an early age. Rustin rallied against Jim Crow laws and the case against the Scottsboro Boys in his youth.

In the 1940’s, he was jailed for refusing to fight in World War II. He helped found the Congress of Racial Equality and led the first “Freedom Rides” of the 1940’s. He initially planned a “March on Washington” in 1941, but” the threat to stage a march on Washington to protest racial discrimination prompted Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination throughout defense industries,” wrote David Garrow at The New York Times.

Affiliation with Dr. King

Rustin first met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1956 when he help organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It was he who educated King in Gandhian nonviolent protest principles. He is credited with mentoring King and helping to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He became the top lieutenant to King and labor leader A. Phillip Randolph.

“The New Niggers Are Gay”

Early on, Rustin saw a need for coalition building and forming allies. He debated Malcolm X and stressed the importance of seeing the world’s various races as one big family. In a 1986 speech, “The New Niggers Are Gay,” he raised the similarities between the struggles of the black and LGBT communities: “The new “niggers” are gays. It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change. The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.”

It was Rustin who organized the 1963 March on Washington that brought more than 200,000 people to the rally at which King delivered his famous “I have a Dream” Speech, the same year that Medgar Evers was assassinated and Birmingham saw police violence against civil rights demonstrations.
A master at logistics and details, Rustin organized buses, lunches, child care and celebrity speakers. He accomplished all this without the help of internet and computer.

Very Much His Own Person

Rustin was openly gay in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. “This was unprecedented for a Black man at that time,” said Reverend MacArthur Flournoy, director of Faith Partnership and Mobilization for the Human Rights Campaign.

The F.B.I. had a large surveillance file on Rustin. Strom Thurmond lambasted Rustin as a “communist, draft-dodger and homosexual,” After Rustin was arrested in 1953 for a “sex perversion” offense, and sent to jail for sixty days, his credibility suffered as a civil rights activist. The U.S. government also used his sexuality to undermine him. Thurmond had Rustin’s arrest file entered in the congressional record.

After his arrest, he became more discreet with his liaisons. He met his partner Walter Naegle, then 27, whom he later adopted (they couldn’t marry) in 1977. Naegle is white as was Rustin’s previous partner, Davis Platt, who died in 2008.

Naegle has been working with a team within the Bayard Foundation to keep his legacy alive, notably helping in the 2002 documentary Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. Rustin was one of the sixteen honorees to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom which was presented to Naegle for Rustin’s contributions.

Disgraced Bob Filner Leaving Mayor’s Office

Openly Gay Interim Mayor Todd Gloria Takes Reins

Todd Gloria, the President of the 9-Member City Council, will replace the resigning groping Bob Filner until an election can be held. Gloria, age 35, will take over on August 30th. Gloria has not confirmed that he will be running for the permanent job in ninety days, but during his mayoral job, he will no longer act as chairman of the council meetings nor be allowed to veto City Council actions. Councilwoman Sherri Lightner will run City Council meetings while Gloria serves as Mayor.

Elected to the council in 2008, Gloria was re-elected last year. At the start of his second term, Gloria was unanimously elected council president. Democrat Gloria, a graduate of the University of San Diego, represents District 3 which includes the city’s popular gay neighborhood of Hillcrest where he lives.

Replay of 2005

In similar circumstances, Toni Atkins, also openly gay, in 2005, became Mayor of San Diego for four months after Mayor Dick Murphy and Acting Mayor Michael Zucchet resigned. Mayor Filner was forced to resign on August 24 as part of a mediation agreement met in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former aide, Irene McCormack Jackson. Eighteen women have made sexual harassment allegations against Filner.

Mediation Deal Made With Filner

The Council last Friday voted, 7-0 to accept a mediation deal that included a swap: Filner resigns and the city will allocate $98,000 for his private lawyers in the sexual harassment lawsuit against Filner and the city. The city would pay his share of any damages awarded in court or in a pretrial settlement. The city, in the form of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Councilman Kevin Faulconer, and Gloria, spent three days in negotiations with Filner.

In the fall elections, Gloria endorsed Filner, but Filner, combative, criticized not only Gloria, but also Jan Goldsmith, accusing her of being unprofessional and bringing high-profile misdemeanor prosecutions from her office.

Filner, who had served in Congress for ten terms, the San Diego school board, city council, complained that the council “strong-armed” by refusing to pay for his legal defense unless he resigned.”

Gloria’s Plans

Said Gloria, a former member of the San Diego Housing Commission and former chairman of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, “we have lost ground over the past few months. As of today, we are done losing ground. San Diego is back.”

At a news conference, Gloria said “over the next few months, until an election can be conducted, I’ll be working together with the council and the city’s executive team to establish priorities for the concerns addressing our city.”

Gloria is having a ‘top down review’ of all city departments, ‘swift action’ on items that sat inoperative on Filner’s desk for months, and weekly media briefings to assure transparency and accountability. He said that there would be some staffing changes and that a backlog of public record requests would be administered.

“We must communicate, said the acting Mayor, “that we are making every effort possible to correct our problems and that nothing less will be acceptable. Our objective is to provide our citizens with a fully functioning city government with ethics, integrity, and transparency.”

The Gay Divorcee, No, not the 1934 Astaire-Rogers Movie

Statistics from The Williams Institute

One of my favorite comediennes and television stars lesbian Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester, the caustic cheerleading coach on the popular GLEE television show, filed for divorce on July 13, 2013. Lynch, who has won Emmy, Golden Globe, and People’s Choice Awards, married in May 2010 psychologist Lara Embry who has a child. A wonderful actress, Lynch has had several recurring guest roles as Charlie Harper’s psychologist in Two and a Half Men. She played a lesbian in the hilarious mockdocumentary “Best in Show” as well as in the “L” Word.”

How Many Other LGBTS Are Getting Divorced?

With gay marriage is so much in the news, especially since the June Supreme Court ruling last June, you wonder how many average Joes and Janes have filed for divorce? To find out, I turned to a reliable source: The Williams Institute, a gay-legal think tank located at UCLA – Los Angeles Study of Divorce and Marriage Rates for Same-Sex Couples.

Williams Institute Findings on Divorce
Although the study by M.V. Lee Badgett and Jody L. Herman is dated almost two years ago when same-sex marriage was legalized in only six states (as opposed to thirteen plus the District of Columbia currently), the authors found that:

• The data shows that same-sex couples marry at much higher rates than they enter civil unions or other legal statuses.
• When a state allows marriage for same-sex couples, over 60% of those who marry come from other states.
• The divorce rate for same-sex couples in legal unions is about 1.1 percent as opposed to 2% of married different-sex couples divorce.
Researchers concluded that the lower divorce rate may be owing to the fact that gay couples tend to have been together for longer periods of time, and have “weathered the stormy middle years of coupledom.” The LGBT persons have consciously committed to being a family, according to Badgett and Herman, lawyers.

Limited Data Available

As gay marriage is so new, and not every state has legalized same-sex marriage, it is difficult to gather statistics. The Massachusetts Health Department, says “there is no gender field on a divorce certificate in Massachusetts,” the first state to legal gay marriage. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate at 2.2 per 1,000 married couples. Generally, the divorce rate is 20% lower in states where gay marriage is legal. In Nevada, where gay marriage is not legal, the divorce rate is the highest.

“It’s Complicated”

According to Susan Somer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal which litigates on behalf of gay rights, most states won’t grant divorces for same-sex unions formed in other states. It gets exceedingly complicated if, for example, a same-sex couple moved to a new state, splits, can’t get a divorce, and one of the partners wants to re-marry someone of the opposite sex in a new state.

While no one wants to walk down the aisle with divorce in mind, attorneys say the smartest thing is to plan for a possible divorce in the state in which you live.

Monument for Gays Persecuted by Nazis Planned in Tel Aviv

Symbolic Pink Triangle in Meier Park Planned

Israel’s first monument to homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis will be erected later this year near the headquarters of the Gay Center in Tel Aviv. There is a concrete triangle containing a pink triangle, the symbol used by the Nazis to mark homosexuals. A plaque beside the monument and a bench will give information about the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust. The memorial will be inscribed as such: “To the memory of those persecuted by the Nazi regime for their sexual preference and gender identity.”

Park Setting

The monument, erected in central Tel Aviv’s Meir Park, said attorney Eran Lev, the ‘brains’ behind the project,” is highly significant. One of the first restrictions the Nazis imposed on the Jews was against going to public parks. We’re bringing that memory back into the public space. It’s very moving, We felt it was important to present it as part of the park.” It will be guarded all the time.

Professor Yael Moriah, a landscape architect, is responsible for the park’s renovation over the past years, is in charge of the planning. Lev, a member of the municipal council from the Meretz party, received support from Mayor Ron Huldai.

References Hirschfeld and Beck

The only homosexuals who will not be mentioned on the new memorial are those who are members of the Nazi party. Although the monument is universal, and does not distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Nazi regime, it will also contain a reference to Jewish gays, including Magnus Hirschfeld, a prominent doctor and advocate for sexual minorities as well as Gerhard Beck, the last gay Holocaust survivor who died in 2012.

Even After Camps, Returned to Prison

Similar monuments to the gay victims of the Nazis have been built in Sydney, San Francisco, Cologne, Montevideo, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin. Most of them contain the triangle. It is unknown how many closeted gay men were sent to concentrated camps under other pretexts. Following the WWII, many men who had been imprisoned for their sexuality by the Nazis were returned into the German prison system under the Allied government and they were denied the compensation pay outs given to other groups of victims.

Paragraph 175
In fact, Paragraph 175 of the Nazi penal code, which made gay sex a crime, remained on the books until after WWII. The law was finally repealed in 1969 (the pink triangle was not displayed at Dachau until forty years after the camp was liberated!).

Lesbians

Approximately 50,000 gay men were convicted under Paragraph 175. Between 7,000 and 10,000 were murdered in the camps. Historian Moshe Zimmermann, pointed out that “the persecution of lesbians was often concealed using other pretexts. They were considered “asocials,’ a group that included unemployed people and alcoholics.”

Lowest Regard by All

“The numbers aren’t official,” states Zimmermann, “as for the Jews and Gypsies, but the deportation of 15,000 people to the concentration camps for homosexuality was a deliberate act of persecution.”
The “homosexuals” were regarded as the lowest of the low, even by the other inmates, prisoners, and guards. They were often subjected to the most grueling labor.

Movie Industry Lags Behind TV in LGBT Roles

GLAAD Faults Hollywood Studios

Media watchdog group GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) criticizes Hollywood in its first substantial study of releases from the major film studios. Called “2013 Studio Responsibility Index,” the study found that of 101 films from the six major studios in 2012, only fourteen included characters who were identified as LGB, and none were transgender.
GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz found that as opposed to movies, television has become increasingly inclusive , including a record high percentage of LGBT characters in the 2012-2013 broadcast season. Says Cruz, “as a major influence in American culture and one of our nation’s largest media exports abroad, the lack of LGBT characters in big-budget films needs to change. Until LGBT characters are depicted in these films in a substantial way with more regularity, there will remain the appearance of LGBT bias on the studio’s part. Whether it’s an action hero or a supporting character, moviegoers should be able to see LGBT people as integral players in the stories told by leading Hollywood studios.” Although this year’s hit, Skyfall, had a bisexual main character, Javier Bardem, he was portrayed as devious and villainous.

Cruz’s organization plans to meet with the major studios about the absence of LGBT characters. Just two decades ago, there were more films, 48 with significant LGBT characters, that grossed over $1 million dollars at the box office.

Conclusions of the Study

The study also found that:
• 56% of those inclusive films featured gay male characters, 33% featured lesbian characters, and 11% contained bisexual characters.
• Of the 31 different characters counted: 26 were white, four were Black/African-American, and one was Latino. There were no Asian-Pacific Islander or recognizably multi-racial characters counted.
• There were more LGBT characters in 2012 releases in comedies. 34 genre films (action, sci-fi, fantasy) made up the majority of the 2012 releases, though only three of those included any LGBT characters. Only one of 21 dramas and one of four documentaries were inclusive.

Report Card for the Studios

The criteria to measure the quality of the LGBT roles was whether a character was identifiably LGBT: whether it was not solely or predominantly defined by its sexual orientation or gender identity, and whether it was tied into the plot in such a way that its removal would have significant effect.
Cruz uses the animated family film “ParaNorman” as a good example of an LGBT-inclusive film in 2012.

The six studios were rated by the SRI and their grades are as follows:
• 20th Century Fox and Disney received failing grades.
• Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. got “adequate” grades.

Other Tests to Pass

Before the SRI Index, there was the Bechdel Test to ascertain if a movie properly represented female characters. A Bechdel-inspired set of criteria developed into the Russo Test, named for GLAAD co-founder and film historian Vito Russo. Less than half of the films of 2012 passed the Russo Test.

Criteria for Vito Russo Test
• The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.
• That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e. the character is made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters).
• The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect.
• Only 6 of the 14 studio films featuring LGB characters actually passed the Vito Russo Test, including Cloud Atlas, Pitch Perfect, Rock of Ages and The Five Year Engagement.

Gay Activist & Writer Larry Kramer Weds

Marries Long-time Partner Architect David Webster

Larry Kramer has always done things his way.  While many people would shop for the perfect venue for their wedding and the perfect outfit to wear, Larry, on July 24, 2013, married David Webster his long-time partner in the ICU unit at NYU’s Langone’s Medical Center.  Wearing a hospital gown and recovering from a surgery performed on July 21, owing to a bowel obstruction, Kramer and husband Webster, an architect and designer, were married by Judge Eve Preminger in a noon ceremony. Twenty friends and relatives attended the unscripted vows that included an exchange of Cartier rings. The groom, Kramer, was not able to make his own reception afterward at Riverpark. ”We’ll have a party once he’s out of the hospital,” said Webster, 67, who met Kramer in the 1970’s.

The couple had planned to be married on their Greenwich Village terrace of their apartment (they also have a Connecticut home that Webster has renovated) a few weeks earlier before Kramer’s health flared up while Webster was on a trip. Kramer, for a long time, was critical of state laws permitting what he called “feel good” marriages for gays without federal benefits. Once the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down in states where same-sex marriage is legal, Kramer decided it was time to marry his partner of over twenty years.

A Lifetime Spent in Opposition

Larry Kramer now seventy-eight, attended Yale University where The Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies is now named in his honor.  After the Centers for Disease Control declared that a “gay” cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, was affecting young gay men in New York and San Francisco in 1981, Kramer founded, along with others, in 1982, The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a New York City-based non-profit, volunteer-supported and community-based AIDS Service organization still active. It was the first and largest advocacy and protest organization.

Once called “the angriest man in America,” Kramer resigned in 1983 to form the more militant ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in 1987 when the AIDS crisis was in full bloom.  New York’s and President Reagan’s Administrations were not responding quickly enough to the tragedy – the thousands of lives that were lost.

Kramer’s play, “The Normal Heart,” dealt about this 1980’s plague and had more than 600 productions.  Revived in 2011, the same year that New York legalized same-sex marriage, it was a roman a clef about his involvement with Act Up.  Winning a Tony for best play revival, I happened to see the riveting drama after which Kramer was handing out fact sheets about HIV and AIDS at the theatre exits.  He’s never lost his chutzpah nor energy for which he received a Special Tony for humanitarian service in June.

 

 

 

First Openly LGBT American To Run For U.S Public Office Dies

Jose Julio Sarria Dies At Age 91
Nowadays, it’s not that unusual to find LGBT persons running for political office. Tammy Baldwin is Senator of Wisconsin; Jared Polis is a Senator in Colorado, and Christine Quinn is running for Mayor of New York City, to name a few. But to run as a gay man for San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961 takes guts. LGBT politicians owe their current positions to a trailblazing icon for equality, Jose Sarria.

“The Rosa Parks of the Gay Rights Movement” – Nicole Ramirez, San Diego City Commissioner
Although he did not win the Board of Supervisors’ election, Jose Julio Sarria has the distinction of being the first openly gay American to run for office. California Senator Mark Leno called Sarria a “fearless community leader.” “When Jose threw his hat into the ring for San Francisco Supervisor more than fifty years ago, he became one of the first to publicly proclaim that there is no reason, constitutional or otherwise, to deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people first-class citizenship, respect and dignity under the law. Jose’s visionary and legendary leadership helped build the foundation for our successful, modern-day LGBT civil rights movement.”

In his honor, in 2006, the City of San Francisco named a section of 16th Street in the city’s Castro district Jose Sarria Court. Although Sarria did not win a seat on the Board of Supervisors (with his 6,000 votes), his indefatigable support of Harvey Milk, who did become the first openly gay person in 1977, helped Milk be elected to the Board of Supervisors. He supported Milk’s first campaign in 1973 as well. Sarria’s and Milk’s Castro District became a gay voting block in San Francisco.

Past History
Born in San Francisco, Sarria attained the rank of Staff Sargent in WWII before being honorably discharged at the end of his service in 1945.He was a drag Queen, using the name Empress Jose, the Widow Norton as well as The Nightingale of Montgomery Street where he performed at San Francisco’s The Black Cat until it closed in 1964.

“He was a national LGBT icon” – Toni Atkins, Ca. State Assembly Majority Leader
Besides being a waiter, drag queen, LGBT rights activist, Sarria formed The Tavern Guild, the county’s first Gay Business Association. He also developed an International Court System from a loose alliance of social groups, with associated Chapters in over sixty-eight cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Said Nicole Ramirez, who succeeded Sarria in 2007 as the International Chairperson of this fraternal LGBT charity organization, “ the Imperial Courts are like the gay Shriners/Elks of North America and have raised millions of dollars.” In 1961, he helped to form one of the first gay rights organizations in the U.S. and the first gay non-profit registered in California, the League for Civil Education. Two years later, he co-founded the Society for Individual Rights (SIR)

For his efforts, Sarria was given numerous awards, including the Harvey Milk Humanitarian Award. His collection of GLBT historic documents are at the LGBT Historic Society of San Francisco and the Smithsonian Institution.

“Making Successes Possible” – Wilson Cruz, National Spokesman for GLAAD
“His work as a politician, humanitarian, and performer was unprecedented, and has rightfully earned him a place in history. He was an icon who stood his ground for himself and so many others when it was hardest to do so. He will forever reside in the hearts and minds of the LGBT and Latino communities and their allies. Thank you.”

New Zealand Now Has Gay Marriage

15th Country to Allow Same-sex Marriage

On Monday, August 19, 2013, New Zealand became the thirteenth country to welcome same-sex marriage.  Some newlyweds, estimated at three dozen, took advantage of the new law such as  Rachel Briscoe and Jess Ivess as well as Richard Rawstorm and Richard Andrew in Rotorua, New Zealand.  As promised, the Modern Family star was present at the marriage of Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau for the first gay wedding in New Zealand..

Married at 39,000 Feet

Activist Ferguson, with his new husband laywerJustin Mikita, who were married in New York City last month, attended the wedding aboard Air New Zealand,  “What an unforgettable way to mark the new law and “a great celebration of New Zealand’s diversity!” exclaimed Chief People Officer Lorraine Murphy. The flight went from Queenstown to Auckland and carried family, friends, and their three foster children. of Bendall and Wanikau. Together for thirteen years, the couple, both childcare workers, were married by celebrant Kim Jewell Elliott. Following the ceremony, an unexpected choir performed the traditonal “Pokarekare Ana,” a love song that was sung last April when the New Zealand Parliament marriage equality law was passed. Commented the airborne couple, “to be married at 30,000 feet beneath strings of fairy lights with our children, friends and family as witnesses makes an already memorable day that much more special. It was surreal to have Jesse play a part in the ceremony too – we’re big fans of “Modern Family.”

Reasoning Behind Marriage En Flight

Bendall and Wanikau won a promotion by national carrier Air New Zealand.  In the winning video of the competition, their foster children held handwritten signs saying why their parents should get married on a plane.  One read “Wow!! Imagine that for news at school!”

Why Ferguson and Mikita Were Attendees

Although not bosom buddies with the lesbian couple, Ferguson, who advocates for marriage equality through his appearances and tietheknot. organization that raises money for same-sex marriage, “was present to bring some attention to this great day.” Ferguson said that with gay marriage not legally recognized in thirty-seven U.S. states,” there is plenty of work to do there to change attitudes. “Modern Family,” which normalizes homosexuality,” is a great way to sneak into a lot of living rooms with no agenda.”

Nearby Australia does not have legalized same-sex marriage, but a measure to do is expected soon.  The U.S. Ambassador to Australia, John Berry, recently married to Curtis Yee, is openly gay.