Civil unions bill moves to Ill. House floor

By Andrea Zelinski
Friday, Mar. 06 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Supporters of gay marriage say 2009 could be the year Illinois seriously considers establishing civil unions, but opponents say the pendulum of public support is swinging the other way.

A bill giving gay couples the right to form civil unions squeaked through a legislative committee Thursday. It would not legalize same-sex marriage, but it would give gay couples many of the legal benefits of marriage.

Rep. Deb Mell, who is gay, said 648 state laws — on topics from inheritance to health care — help married couples.

“I find it very strange that I can be elected to the General Assembly and vote on rules and laws, but these don’t apply to me and my family,” said Mell, D-Chicago. “We’re not protected.”

The bill was approved 4-3 by the House Youth and Family Committee. Similar legislation also made it to the House floor last year, but the sponsor said he never had enough support to call it for a vote.

Supporters say that could change this year as people grow more accustomed to the idea of same-sex marriages and civil unions.

Gay couples now can marry in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Civil unions are granted in Vermont, New Jersey, California and New Hampshire, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia issue domestic partnerships.

“The more people talk to people about this — person to person, neighbor to neighbor — there’s no reason for this not to pass,” said Evan Wolfson, director of New York-based group Freedom to Marry.

Opponents, however, argue that trends are moving in their direction.

In November, 52 percent of California voters elected to change the state constitution, defining marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. The Illinois committee’s action came on the same day that the California Supreme Court heard arguments on challenges to that vote.

“If there’s growing support for anything, there’s growing support for marriage between one man and one woman,” said Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, advocating for every family to have a mom and a dad.

Opponents say the civil unions bill is really a bill for gay marriage.

“Don’t be misled. The legislation is all about same-sex marriage,” said Robert Gilligan, executive director for the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

Groups speaking out against the bill claim gay marriage would jeopardize families, tarnish traditional marriage or force churches and businesses to endorse relationships they find immoral.

In a civil union, couples would have the same legal rights as married couples. For instance, people couldn’t be turned away when trying to visit a sick partner in the hospital and they would have authority to make medical decisions for their partners.

The sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, was happy about the committee vote but said the real battle is rounding up enough votes in the full House.

“It’s something that’s very much on the front burner,” said Harris. “The tougher discussion will be on the floor.”

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Vermont Dems pledge gay marriage bill passage

By 365gay Newscenter Staff

03.06.2009 1:00pm EST

(Montpelier, Vermont) The state leaders of the House and Senate have announced they will begin work on passing a marriage equality bill when the Legislature returns March 16.

Send / Share Add Comment At a joint news conference at the State House Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin (D) and Speaker of the House Shap Smith (D) said the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a week of testimony and a public hearing on the bill beginning March 16.

The bill was introduced last month, with 59 sponsors in the House – all Democrats.

Shumlin and Smith said they expected the committee to approve the measure and that it would easily make it through both houses despite Republican opposition.

Vermont was the first state in the country to legalize civil unions in 2000. Since then LGBT groups have criticized the law for creating a “two tiered” system – marriage for opposite-sex couples and civil unions for gays.

An 11-member commission was set up last year by Shumlin and Smith to look into the civil unions law to see if it is providing equality for gay and lesbian couples.

It submitted its report to the legislature last April, but made no recommendations on revising the law to allow for same-sex marriage.

Shumlin, who spearheaded the civil union bill nine years ago, said at the news conference that the law hasn’t kept up with the times. Massachusetts and Connecticut allow same-sex marriage and gay marriage bills are under consideration in Maine and New Hampshire.

“[I]t’s become clear that we can and should work to pass a bill promoting the equal right to marry this year,” Shumlin told reporters.

But if the bill passes the legislature it is doubtful Republican Gov. James Douglas will sign it.

Douglas, through a spokesperson, said that the governor believes civil unions are sufficient.

“Gov. Douglas believes that we have achieved equality through our civil union law,” said Douglas’ Deputy Chief of Staff Dennise Casey. Last November, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Boston-based LGBT rights group that brought the successful legal challenges leading to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and Connecticut launched the “Six by Twelve” campaign to legalize gay marriage throughout all six New England states by 2012.

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WBT Issues

Believe it or not WBT issues go far beyond fighting with transvestites and arguing over whether or not transgenders are human beings or just fetishistic pantie-wankers.

Many of us are older and while we may well be so assimilated that our history isn’t an issue we are forced to confront the same two headed economic discrimination monster tha faces our WBW peers and that is far more problematic employment especially in this economic crunch due to ageism and sexism.

I work retail with other people with college degrees.  We are held to part time so we recieve zero benefits, no regular hours which make taking a second job difficult and constant anxiety due to the economy.

Thus Globalization, the Health Care Crisis in America, the World Wide Depression, Faith Based Hate, aging and relationships are all WBT issues.

I take my cues from y’all.

For example many live in isolation and need to connect with other people as they get older.  In that we are like many other members of the alphabet soup of queer.

How often are you afraid to visit a new doctor because of a nagging health issue and reluctance to discuss all factors?  Adequate health care is a WBT issue.

I could think of a hundred or more but today is my day off and I am going to dinner with my honey.

Male Privilege and Heterosexual Male Transvestites

I’m not one of those “nice feminists” who succor heterosexual male transvestites.

I don’t shop for them.  I don’t tell them what make-up to buy. I didn’t put up with them hitting on me in lesbian bars because they knew I was WBT and they expected me to be nice.

When I used to go to dyke bars it was to do my version of “The L-Word” character Shane. If I wanted to kaikai with a non-op Id have gone to a queen hang out.

You see, because I am a feminist I understand the patriarchal oppression of women.  Because I was an obvious transkid I faced bullying on a daily basis.  Bullying mandated by an invisible sky daddy cum bully who demanded the enforcement of heteronormative masculinist behavior on transkids as well as on the other obvious kids in the LGB/T/TQ alphabet soup.

I see heterosexual transvestites as playing dress-up while maintaining all their straight male privilege.  Even drag queens who only dress up for events do not have that straight male privilege as they are gay 24/7/365.  When you dress up in the closet and even your friends and neighbors do not know then you are like Marie Antoinette dressing up and playing sheppard as the masses starved in pre-1789 France.

If you expect applause and a pat on your dress clad back don’t look for it from me.

If you are the obvious transvestite and his wife who shops at the store where I work and my co-workers snicker regarding your pancaked stubble don’t expect more than a shrug of the shoulders and an “It takes all kinds” as a defense of your behavior on my part.  If your appearence and behavior is such that it upsets women when you enter the women’s room don’t expect me to defend you because I’m a woman and if other women are upset then the likelihood is I will be too.

If your wife leaves you I will probably take her side because as a feminist I always put the interests of women before those of men.

As a bisexual who has made the political choice to identify as lesbian and who is aware of the homophobia practiced by Tri-Ess and many heterosexual transvestite organizations I have more than enough work to do promoting queer rights and queer equality than to waste my time on helping the oppressor just because he plays dress-up.

Happy International Women’s Day


(From Wikipedia) International Woman’s Day (IWD) is marked on March 8 every year. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Started as a political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries (primarily Russia and the countries of former Soviet bloc). In some celebrations, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love to the women around them in a way somewhat similar to Mother’s Day and St Valentine’s Day mixed together. In others, however, the political and human rights theme as designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

The IWD is also celebrated as the first spring holiday, as in the listed countries the first day of March is considered the first day of the spring season.

The first IWD was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it came to commemorate the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions. By urban legend,[1][2] women from clothing and textile factories staged one such protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City.[3] The garment workers were protesting against very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked and dispersed by police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later.

More protests followed on 8 March in subsequent years, most notably in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights[citation needed]. In 1910 the first international women’s conference was held in Copenhagen (in the labour-movement building located at Jagtvej 69, which until recently housed Ungdomshuset) by the Second International and an ‘International Women’s Day’ was established, which was submitted by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified.[4] The following year, 1911, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, on March 19.[5] However, soon thereafter, on March 25, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City killed over 140 garment workers. A lack of safety measures was blamed for the high death toll. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on 8 March 1913. In the West, International Women’s Day was commemorated during the 1910s and 1920s, but dwindled. It was revived by the rise of feminism in the 1960s.

Demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR “in commemoration of outstanding merits of the Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, their heroism and selflessness at the front and in rear, and also marking the big contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples and struggle for the peace. But still women’s day must be celebrated as many other days.”

2009 International Women’s Day

On occasion of 2009 International Women’s Day the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that the specific health-care needs of women are often ignored or insufficiently taken into account in war situations.

In the world’s least developed countries, many of which are at war, women are 300 times more likely to die in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications than in developed countries, according to UNICEF. While armed conflicts and other violence affect entire communities, women are particularly at risk of rape and other forms of sexual violence. Because of poor security conditions or because they have no means of transportation, it is often impossible for women to reach a health-care facility so as to give birth safely.[6]

For women born transsexual the struggle for equality is often a struggle to be treated the same as every other person with a vagina.

While transgenders may consider us separatists on this point our need for for this form of equality is an act of solidarity with other females.  Surgery is a dividing line.  It separates those of us who become female from those who commit to living as women.