U.S. Ambassador to Australia Marries Partner

John Berry Weds Long-time Partner in Washington, D.C.

Shortly after being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Australia on August 1, John Berry, married Curtis Yee, a retired attorney and native Hawaiian on August 10.  The couple, together seventeen years, wed at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.  Yee will move to Australia with Berry.

Other Gay Ambassadors

Berry is not the only openly gay ambassador appointed by President Obama.  James Costos, an Executive with HBO, will be Ambassador to Spain.  Rufus Gifford, Chairman of the President’s 2013 Inaugural Committee, has been appointed Ambassador to Denmark.

The highest ranking openly gay male politician during the Obama administration, Berry, despite conservative activists’ objections, is the first openly gay U.S. ambassador to serve in a Group of 20 nation. Berry and Yee will be in a country that does not have legalized same-sex marriage.

Ambassador to a Country without Same-Sex Marriage

Said Rodney Croome, who congratulated the couple on their nuptials, a national convener for Australian Marriage Equality, “It will be a source of deep embarrassment for many Australians that our law fails to respect the marriage of the chief representative of our closest friend and ally, the United States.” Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged to introduce a marriage equality bill within the first 100 days of the re-elected government on Sept. 7. The opposition leader Tony Abbott won’t commit to a conscience vote and said his party would only consider the issue after the election.  Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong, a lesbian, made it public on television that she wants to marry her partner, the mother of her child.

Berry Has Always Been a Champion of Gay Rights

While at the Interior Department as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget or during the Clinton administration from 1997 to 2001, Berry worked to create a complaint procedure for employees who experienced discrimination owing to sexual orientation, to expand relocation benefits and counseling services to domestic partners of employees, establishing a liaison to gay and lesbian workers, and to eliminate discriminatory provisions of the National Park Service’s law enforcement standards.

He also supported a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by ex-President Clinton. Berry previously stated support for benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees.




#ProudToLove: Rainbow-Hearted Reflections on YouTube’s First LGBT Pride Celebration

Loving Equality: Making Summer of Love More #ProudToLove

England’s marriage equality law becomes official in a matter of days.  Marriage Equality and DOMA decisions in the United States continue to send a positive beacon of hope to LGBTQ folks everywhere.

“Set those precedents,” the Litigating Angels seem to be telling us, blowing their glittery faery dust around the world.

Okay, sure…“faery dust” is a bit much—but c’mon: this is the queer “Interwebs” we’re talkin’ about!

With the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court (lifting the same-sex marriage ban) and California following suit, the launch of YouTube’s official LGBTQ-themed #ProudToLove channel rides the waves of change that continue to ripple worldwide.

Continuing its yearly site-wide support of gay rights, parent company Google Inc. created YouTube’s #ProudToLove channel http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbpi6ZahtOH6Ep59vnHOZ0KBngOp-XiUP) and video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDm0zsw9vjY) on June 27.

In like fashion, Google relaunched its customary Rainbow Colored search results just in time for the summer of pride.  This yearly Easter Egg that revealed itself when visitors typed  LGBTQ-focused keywords like “gay,” “lesbian,” “transgender,” “marriage equality,” LGBT” or “bisexual”  (Google’s rainbow search results have been a tradition since 2008—or eons, in Internet years).

Graced with the soundtrack of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” YouTube’s #ProudToLove video featured military “coming out” confessionals, Ellen DeGeneres, teenaged hero Jonah Mowry, Davey Wavey, Latrice Royale, Chaz Bono & Cher, Dan Savage, George Takei, Barack Obama at the White House LGBT Pride Month Reception, Willam Belli, and several uber-romantic LGBTQ-themed marriage proposals, all culminating in emphatic yeses.

Prominent and renowned LGBTQ advocacy organizations–if they weren’t already

partnered with the campaign–quickly posted #ProudToLove content in solidarity, chiming in with words, images, videos and sentiments of their own.

Other #ProudToLove ripple effects and highlights include:

Detractors have tried to troll this hashtag and idea, finding little success so far.  Such is the beauty of hashtags: creating instantaneous solidarity and community-building becomes easy-to-understand and propagate.

Pride Month’s really happening all summer long.  Isn’t that always the way?  Kudos to all for making Pride newsworthy every single day.

Being #ProudToLove is an international thing—how do you show your pride?  Who or what are you #ProudToLove? Share your thoughts, videos and tweets with us.  Make sure to include the hashtag, so your peeps can find you!


Illogical Arguments against Same Sex Marriage-Opinion


This morning I stumbled on Bishop Harry Jackson’s July 3, 2013 guest blog on the Christian Post website Wounds of This Generation Can Harm Children.  Bishop Jackson is a senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in Washington, DC.  He is also the presiding Bishop of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches, a network of more than 1000 churches around the world.

As an LGBTQ advocate and psychologist with expertise in research, lifespan development and human sexuality, my feathers still get ruffled when I read this type of faulty argument in support of denying the rights of same sex couples to marry and raise children.

In his blog Bishop Jackson mentioned the consequences of “father abandonment.” He stated  “Children who grow up without their fathers are more likely to be poor, use drugs, commit crimes, drop out of school and commit suicide. The marriage debate has become so focused on the desires and demands of various groups of adults that we have forgotten the legitimate needs and terrible suffering of children.” Then he attempts to support his position by referencing the lyrics of a rapper and another musician who both grew up without fathers.

Decades of psychological and sociological research support an increased risk of drug use, criminal behavior, low education achievement, and depression for children who have been abandoned by their fathers. But let’s focus on the concept of parental abandonment. It refers to someone who by expected by assumed biological parentage and law to be involved in the life of a child. Research has looked at the impact on a child of having had a father active in their lives that later withdrew their emotional, physical, and/or financial support.

So how does this research about the impact of children being abandoned by a father have any connection to whether we allow gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to get married and raise children? It doesn’t.  Allowing same sex couples to get married provides an opportunity for any children they adopt or conceive via artificial fertility technology to have two parents would like love and nurture them.

When same sex couples, married or not adopt a child, they are adopting a child that has already been abandoned by both of his or her biological parents. Adopting such a child and providing them with emotional, physical, and financial support lessens the risk of all of possible outcomes of parental abandonment.

When same sex couples have a child using donor sperm, donor ovum, or both; the child is born into a two parent family.  Research has not examined the impact of not knowing who your sperm or ovum donor was and whether it has any type of impact on the child. When a father or mother abandons a child, the child feels there must have been something bad about them that made the parent leave.  How can a child feel shame and worthlessness about a sperm donor not knowing that he or she even exists?

Bishop Jackson goes on to say that the debate about same sex marriage will affect future generations of adults in terms of their thinking about marriage and parenthood. He supports this position by mentioning “two decades of social experimentation in Scandinavia-since legalizing registered partnerships and gay marriage in Scandinavia, an overwhelming number of adults have simply stopped bothering to get married in the first place.” [Note: Registered partnerships in Scandinavia: Denmark 1989; Iceland 1996; Norway 1993; and Sweden 1994.  Same sex marriage in Scandinavia: Denmark 2012; Iceland 2010; Norway 2009; and Sweden 2009.

Bishop Jackson ends his blog with “The looser we make the definition of marriage, the fewer people will feel bound to its obligations and constraints. And while broken relationships can hurt adults, they can destroy children.”

Since the 1970’s the divorce rate of opposite sex couples in the United States has continued to climb. More than half of first marriages end in divorce. The rate of divorce of second and third marriages is even higher.  The research on divorce supports the part of Bishop Jackson’s conclusion about broken relationships hurting adults and destroying children.

Now let’s get back to the topic of same sex marriage. Vermont was the first state in this country to grant same sex partnerships in 2000. Massachusetts in 2003 was the first state in this country to legalize same sex marriage. Connecticut in 2008 was the second U.S. state. So the divorce rate for opposite sex couples was already high thirty years before same sex couples were ever recognized in this country.

We really do have a lot of work to do.

Rethink Gay Marriage says UK Bishop

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtham has suggested in a letter to UK daily newspaper, The Telegraph that it was time for the church to “rethink” attitudes about same-sex marriage, as Christians had done with slavery and apartheid.

“No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.” The religious leader argued that same sex marriage did not “detract from heterosexual marriage” and that the “development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage”.

The same-sex marriage bill that would allow same-sex couples, who can currently hold civil partnership ceremonies, to marry is currently being debated in the UK parliament. There are religious safeguards already written into the bill in which religious organisations would have to “opt in” to offering weddings, with the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned in law from doing so.

The bill has been backed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, his Lib Dem deputy PM Nick Clegg as well as the opposition leader Ed Miliband and the majority of their party members. Although many Tory backbenchers oppose the bill and voted against equality, showing that for all Cameron’s talk of being a progressive party and worthy of leading the country for the next decade is just talk and empty promises.

Lord Carey warns ‘Gay marriage plan ‘paves way for polygamy’

Same-sex marriage sets a “dangerous precedent” which could lead to sibling marriage or polygamy, so says Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury – the head of the Christian church of England.

His aggressive anti-gay outburst comes just days ahead of the same-sex marriage bill being debated in Britain’s unelected second political chamber – The House of Lords.

The vile former archbishop of Canterbury argued there could be “unintended consequences” in allowing marriage equality in an article for the think tank Civitas. He says the bill will essentially change the definition of marriage to “a long-term commitment between two people of any sex, in which gender and procreation are irrelevant”. He claims not to be alarmist but says the logically next step to allowing gay people to marry would be to extend marriage to “say, two sisters bringing up children together” or “multiple relationships, such as two women and one man“. – “Ultimately, the proposed legalisation of same-sex marriage represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of marriage,” he claims.

This isn’t the first time the cleric has verbalised gay hate views, last year at the Conservative Party Conference he spouted that gay marriage was a “slippery slope” to allowing a “Mormon-style relationship”. He also previously courted controversy by likening critics of gay marriage to persecuted Jews in Nazi Germany.

The UK’s same-sex marriage bill passed through the House of Commons the elected political chamber of the UK’s political system last month and now heads to the House of Lord’s, the second chamber in the next few days, where it is expected to face stiff opposition. One lord, the former West Midlands chief constable Lord Dear has put forward an amendment to refuse the bill a second reading in the Lord’s – which if passed would effectively kill the bill‘s progress and set the UK‘s equality battle back at least fifteen years.

Stonewall, the equality campaigning charity, chief executive Ben Summerskill said: “This is regrettably hyperbolic shroud waving. We pray other peers will be a little more attuned to the 21st Century during next week’s debate.


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.

Gay Marriage Bill Passes In UK Parliament

Campaigners demonstrate for a "yes" vote to allow gay marriage, as they protest outside Parliament in London
Marriage Equality in the United Kingdom came a step closer on Tuesday Night when Members of Parliament voted to approve the Marriage (same-sex couples bill) at it’s third reading by 366 votes to 161, a majority of 205.

After two days of debate, with many amendments offered and discussed, the Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller told Mps just before the crucial vote “I accept that for some colleagues their beliefs mean that the principle of this issue is an insurmountable barrier to supporting this change.

“But to other colleagues I say, now is the time. Let us not be side-tracked nor distracted. Let us not expand the remit of this bill beyond its original intention. Let us make equal marriage possible because it is the right thing to do and then let us move on. I am pleased to commend this bill to the House.”

It has been a most dramatic time at London’s House of Parliament, on Monday the bill was in danger of being completely stalled by an amendment from a backbench Tory MP, thankfully in a deal with the opposition leader Ed Miliband, they overcame the wrecking amendment, which was designed purly to slow up and even halt the bill in its

There were a few further complications on Tuesday afternoon because of an amendment calling for Humanist marriage ceremonies to be legalised at the same time. Even though it had widespread support from Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs – the amendment was withdrawn after the attorney general warned that it would fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under the bill, the Church of England and the Church in Wales would be banned from offering same-sex marriages because of their strongly stated opposition, unless they changed canon law. Whilst other religious organisations would be able to “opt in” to holding same-sex ceremonies.

Marriage Equality and getting the bill passed the Commons has been an enormous challenge for the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and is seen by many as a key part of his modernisation of the Conservative party, giving it wider appeal to the younger generations. However, such a move has cost the leader support from many old guard in the party, MP Crispin Blunt conceded that it has cost Cameron support – “He’s made his point, everyone knows the fire he’s going through with some of his own colleagues in order to deliver this and I hope people are going to be appropriately grateful for the fantastic leadership that he’s shown on this.” he told gay media in the UK

In terms of the current opposition to the measure, Mr Blunt added: “Once this is done, it’s finished, it’s over and everyone will wonder what on earth all the fuss was about.”

The Bill will now head to the House of Lords where it is likely to face determined and uncompromising opposition. The House of Lord’s are the older unelected chamber in UK’s archaic political system and are well known for their opposition to such moves towards equality. If the bill passes in the House of Lords, it could mean that same-sex marriages could be legal in the UK as early as the autumn of 2014.

No Marriage Equality for Northern Ireland

Marriage Equality in Northern Ireland took a step back earlier this week when the unionist politicians defeated a Sinn Féin bid to create marriage equality for gay couples. The votes of the Democratic Unionist party and Ulster Unionist party in the Stormont Assembly combined to heap defeat a Sinn Féin motion backed by the SDLP, Alliance and the Green party.

The defeat of the proposed bill could set the scene for a legal challenge in both the British and European courts against the continued ban on gay marriage in that part of the UK. Amnesty International repeated warnings that the prospect of a a gay couple taking a legal case to the European Court of Human Rights is now a distinct possibility.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for South Down Caitriona Ruane said: “Attitudes in Ireland are changing because people do not want to see people discriminated against. The gay community has said enough is enough. They are standing up for themselves and their communities.”

She claimed young people were turning to suicide by because of the taunts. “If they don’t have an alternative voice to the vitriolic gay-bashing they will internalise it,” she said.

Unionists were backed to oppose the bill not only by the main Protestant churches but also the Catholic Church. However, the gay Christian lobby group Changing Attitudes Ireland condemned the unionist veto on marriage equality. Church of Ireland minister Canon Charles Kenny, the secretary of Changing Attitudes Ireland, said: “The year is drawing nearer when the love and justice expressed in the gospels will win out and sweep away the faith-based prejudice against gay and lesbian couples.”

Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist party defended the stance his party made, saying he was proud of his party’s veto and said colleagues would use it again to defeat “reckless” legislation.

Many feel the lack of advancement in Northern Ireland, on many issues, including women’s rights, equality, marriage equality and abortion is reflecting badly on the rest of the United Kingdom more liberal views.

No Need For Marriage Say Gay Pop Star

UK openly gay pop star Marc Almond has caused some controversy with an interview in the London evening newspaper the Evening Standard questioning why gay people want to get married in a church that hates them. He also believes that its wrong to expect religious organisations to modernise.

During the Evening Standard interview, the singer that first found fame with 80’s pop combo Soft Cell claimed he did not feel the “need” to enter into a civil partnership or marriage with his lover. “I think a civil partnership or a register office marriage is a modern, sensible thing to do,” he said, “So you have something in law that means that when you die some greedy relative doesn’t come out of the woodwork and grab your chattels. But I’m not an advocate of marriage. I grew up as a child of an unhappy marriage so I know it is not always best for children.”

“And why, as a gay man, would you want to get married in the house of a religion that doesn’t welcome you with open arms, that thinks you are a sinner? To be blessed by a supernatural deity?”

The entertainer now in his mid-fifties and still producing enchanting albums also said it was a mistake to expect religion to modernise: “It is what it is, a set of rules, and you either adhere to it or you don’t. You can’t say, ‘Well, I want to invent a new kind of Christianity where you invite all sorts of other people in’: that’s a different sort of cult.”

Of course, religion itself is difficult to modernise, but religious organisations, the churches themselves can, do and should change, modernise and progress, albeit at a much slower pace than that of society.

The last few years have been a rather difficult for the singer, at least health wise, during 2004 he almost died in motorcycle accident, “I have a liver disease, a progressive sclerosis, which I usually keep controlled.”

“I had to have a spleenectomy and my gall bladder removed over the course of last year, which put me out of action for about three months. I had been ill before that. My health was quite depleted and I was kind of swollen. I was very tired and anaemic. The past few years have been a bit of a struggle but I have never stopped working. I’m a great believer in getting on with things.”

French Gay Marriage Update.

There were many celebrations in France during the evening of Tuesday 23rd April and that date will go down in history as the day that the large European country became the 14th nation in the world to legalize marriage laws for same-sex couples.

The French National Assembly in Paris passed the equal marriage bill on Tuesday afternoon with 331 MP’s voting in favour of the bill, 225 against and there were 10 abstentions. According to many, the country could see the first gay marriages taking place towards the end of June.

The new legislation also awards adoption rights for same-sex couples, is expected to be approved by the Constitutional Council and then rapidly signed into law by President Francois Hollande, who made it a manifesto pledge whilst he was trying to become president and is a keen supporter of equality.

“I hope people across the country will celebrate this moment,” marriage equality campaigner Martin Gaillard told the media.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told legislators on Tuesday evening the law was “very beautiful reform.”

The good news from Paris has been welcomed by many gay groups throughout Europe, Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, said: “We congratulate the French parliamentarians and the French nation for this historic step. The country whose motto is ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ has finally fully applied it to all citizens when it comes to marriage.

“We also hope that this latest development in France will inspire other European countries to take concrete steps to eliminate discrimination and to ensure equal rights to same-sex partners and their families.”

“Equality cannot be partial, if a country is serious about equality for same-sex partners and their families, it means removing all legal obstacles and differences, it means equal access to marriage and adoption entitlement.”

I am delighted for my French brothers and sisters that will now have the opportunity to tie the knot in public, in front of their friends and family. It is a great step forward, not just for the gay population of France, but also for gay people all around the world. Slowly and surly marriage equality is coming to many countries and the more nations that legalize same-sex marriage the easier it will be to campaign in favour of equality. No longer can those that oppose marriage equality be able to say it will destabilise and cause the destruction of traditional marriage values, as just even a courtesy glance at the 14 nations that allow same-sex marriage, prove otherwise. Change is coming, marriage equality is coming, one nation at a time!