Chile’s Senate Approves Bill For Same-Sex Marriage

A gay man places a wedding ring on the finger of his husband

A gay man places a wedding ring on the finger of his husband

The Washington Blade: reports a bill has passed in Chile’s Senate that would make same-sex marriage legal in the South American country.

On June 1, President Sebastián Piñera publicly announced his support for marriage equality and asked lawmakers to expedite legislation on the issue. The bill now heads to the Chilean House of Representatives.

Although same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions in Chile since 2015, the country’s conservative ruling party has been slow to pass marriage rights for LGBTQ couples.

Currently, the only South American countries to legally recognize same-sex marriage are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay.

SCOTUS Declines To Hear Challenge To Trans Bathroom Rights

The Supreme Court building in Washington DC

The Supreme Court building in Washington DC

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by a Virginia school board that hoped to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban.

That decision leaves in place lower court rulings that found the policy unconstitutional.

From the New York Times:

An appeals court had ruled that the policy violated the Constitution and a federal law by prohibiting the student, Gavin Grimm, from using the same bathrooms as other boys. The school said Mr. Grimm could use a private bathroom.

The Supreme Court had agreed to hear an earlier appeal in the case but dismissed it in 2017 after the Trump administration changed the federal government’s position on transgender rights. The Biden administration has since adopted policies protecting transgender students.

What this means: there is now strong precedent that schools in the 4th Circuit (Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia) cannot prohibit students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

Last year, the Supreme Court for the first time ruled in favor of transgender rights, saying that a federal employment discrimination law applied to LGBTQ workers.

6 Years Ago Today: Marriage Equality Becomes The Law Of The Land

Six years ago today the United States Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across the nation

Six years ago today, the United States took a huge leap forward in equal rights for all when the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality was a constitutional right.

And just like that, my marriage was valid and equal to all.

Easily one of the most impactful, emotional days of my life. I will never be able to articulate the emotions that came over me in the minutes, hours, days after the news was announced.

And then, just to put the cherry on top of the sundae, the White House celebrated the occasion awash in the colors of the LGBT rainbow.

Still so far to go, but it’s important to slow down for a second and remember the good days.

Japan’s Ruling Party Accused Of Violating Olympic Charter Over LGBTQ Rights

Logo for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo

Logo for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo

The ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan’s Parliament is opposing a bill that would protect the rights of LGBTQ athletes at the upcoming Olympic Games saying that “LGBT goes against the preservation of the human race.”

From The Guardian:

Japan’s ruling party has been accused of violating the Olympic charter after it failed to approve a bill to protect the rights of the LGBT community, during discussions marred by homophobic outbursts from conservative MPs.

Closed meetings held this month to discuss a bill, proposed by opposition parties, stating that discrimination against LGBT people “must not be tolerated” ended without agreement after some Liberal Democratic party (LDP) MPs said the rights of sexual minorities had “gone too far.”

A decision on a rival LDP proposal that calls on the government to “promote understanding” of LGBT people was postponed, according to Japanese media accounts of the meetings.

A few weeks ago, an adviser to the LDP’s committee to study sexual orientation and gender identity gave a speech titled, “The LGBT issue is getting out of control.”

Following the lack of an approved bill, human rights advocates say Japan deserves a “gold medal for homophobia.”

Japan is the only G7 nation that does not fully recognize same-sex partnerships or marriages.

Utah High Court Confirms Transgender Right To Change Name & Gender Marker

Sign welcoming people to Utah

Sign welcoming people to Utah
(photo: JoshuaT/Pexels)

Good news coming out of Utah today.

From Equality Utah:

After 3.5 years, the Utah Supreme Court ruled today In Re Gray and Rice (20170046) 2021 UT 13, and confirmed the right of transgender Utahns to change the name and gender marker on their birth certificates.

This is a landmark ruling that allows transgender Utahns to fully integrate as equal members of society.

We send our love and appreciation to the legal team of Chris Wharton, Kyler O’Brien, and Beth Jennings (Wharton O’Brien) Troy Booher and Beth Kennedy (Zimmerman Booher) and the courageous joint plaintiffs Angie Rice and Sean Childers-Gray.

It has been an unprecedented year for transgender Americans. Over 30 states introduced legislation to restrict the freedom of transgender youth.

But here in Utah, we chart a different path. The Utah Legislature rejected two anti-transgender bills, and today, the Utah Supreme Court has upheld transgender rights to live freely as their authentic selves. This is ‘equality under the law’ in practice right here in Utah.

Biden To Trans Americans: ‘Your President Has Your Back’

President Joe Biden calls for Congress to pass the Equality Act

President Joe Biden calls for Congress to pass the Equality Act
In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Joe Biden spoke to several issues as well as his proposed American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.

Along the way, the president took time to call for the passage of the Equality Act: “I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans.”

He added a special message to transgender folks: “To all the transgender Americans watching at home — especially the young people who are so brave — I want you to know that your president has your back.”


The Equality Act would add legal protections for LGBTQ Americans to existing federal civil rights laws. The legislation has already passed in the House, but faces a steep climb in the Senate where Democrats will need 10 Republicans to join them in passing the bill.

A CBS News poll following Biden’s address showed 85% of Americans who watched approved of his speech, 15% disapproved. And 78% say the speech made them feel “optimistic” about America.

As an example of how partisan politics have become, of those who watched Biden’s address, 54% identified as Democrats, 18% as Republican and 25% as independent, according to CBS News. So, basically, Republicans didn’t tune in to watch.

By comparison, 76% of the audience (that leaned Republican) approved of Trump’s speech in 2017.

Switzerland Will Hold National Vote On Same-Sex Marriage

A gay man places a wedding ring on the finger of his husband

Switzerland will hold a public referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage

I was surprised to learn today that Switzerland, of all countries, still has not legalized same-sex marriage.

One of the few European countries still lacking marriage equality, Switzerland will now ask its citizens to vote on the whether gays and lesbians can marry the person they love.

Switzerland’s journey to same-sex marriage has taken several twists and turns over the years.

Swiss lawmakers have been working on the issue since 2013 when the first bill was presented by the nation’s Green Party.

But the legislation stalled as lawmakers contemplated whether the move would require a change to Switzerland’s constitution.

In April 2020, the Council of States, the nation’s upper chamber, finally agreed a legal change was unnecessary.

On December 18, 2020, the National Council (Switzerland’s lower chamber) voted in favor of same-sex marriages by a vote of 24 to 11 with 7 abstentions. That bill also provides lesbian couples with access to sperm donation.

That vote triggered an uproar by two conservative groups – the Federal Democratic Union and the Swiss People’s Party – who quickly got to work collecting signatures for a petition calling for a referendum on the issue.

Reuters reports that Switzerland’s democratic system allows opponents of decisions by parliament the right to force a referendum, or a public vote, if a group can collect 50,000 signatures within 100 days.

On Tuesday, the Federal Chancellery confirmed that over 61,000 signatures had been collected.

In May, the government will announce a date for the vote which will probably happened this fall.

The good news is a survey commissioned by the LGBTQ advocacy group Pink Cross in 2020 showed 82% of Swiss citizens (in a country of 8.5 million) support same-sex marriage.

Supreme Court Sidesteps LGBTQ Case Between TX & CA

The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)

I guess you could call this a “win by default…”

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a legal argument between California and Texas centered on ‘religious beliefs’ trumping LGBTQ rights.

From USA Today:

The Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a heated dispute between one of the nation’s most liberal states and one of its most conservative in a case that had pit freedom of religion against gay rights.

California passed a law in 2016 prohibiting taxpayer-funded travel – such as for state employees to attend conferences – to any state that doesn’t ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Texas law allows foster-care and adoption agencies to deny same-sex couples on religious grounds.

Texas took California directly to the Supreme Court last year, asserting the travel ban was “born of religious animus” and that it violates the Constitution.

Conservatives Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas issued a dissent over the court not taking the case because of course.

North Carolina Wedding Venue Turns Gay Couple Away

Highgrove Estates in North Carolina
Sign out front of Highgrove Estates in North Carolina
(screen capture via WTVD)

Another gay couple denied service by a business because of the owners’ beliefs in the “sanctity of marriage.”

Local news station WTVD in North Carolina reports a gay couple approached the Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina for their upcoming nuptials but were turned away after the owners became aware they were a gay couple.

Ironically, the venue purports to offer “the best of Southern hospitality.”

McCae Henderson, an attorney, and Ike Edwards, a cosmetic dentist, told WDTV they filled out an inquiry form for the venue. In the spots where they were to identify the ‘bride’ and ‘groom,’ they left a note saying they were both grooms.

The Christian-owned estate sent a reply saying they don’t host same-sex weddings and offered a list of alternative venues.

The rejection was “disheartening,” said Henderson. “We had not had anything like this throughout the process or really in our lives.”

“This is us. We are gay and we did not choose to be gay,” he continued. “The fact that we don’t have access to things other people do is discrimination in my eyes. I think everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe to an extent. I don’t think you get to be racist because your religion tells you to be racist. I don’t think you get to be homophobic because your religion tells you to be homophobic.”

“Highgrove has always welcomed vendors, guests and employees of all orientations and we do not discriminate against a people or group,” read a statement from the Highgrove owners released to WTVD. “We believe in the sanctity of marriage as God says in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman and we choose to honor Him above what the world decides what marriage should be.”

So, two things.

One, they are discriminating against “people or a group.” They refuse to treat LGBTQ people the same as heterosexual people.

Two, in citing the “sanctity of marriage” I’d like to know if they’ve ever hosted the wedding of someone who’s been divorced? Cause….that’s a sin in the Bible that’s directly connected to the “sanctity of marriage.” This is just more picking and choosing parts of the Bible that support their bias.

Highgrove Estates in North Carolina
Highgrove Estates in North Carolina (image via official website)

While there are federal civil rights laws that protect against discrimination – based on race, color, creed, religion, sex and national origin – there are no such protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.

And in North Carolina, some local ordinances have passed protections against LGBTQ discrimination, but not in Highgrove’s jurisdiction.

The Equality Act – which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal civil rights laws – recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. But the legislation faces an extremely steep climb in the U.S. Senate where Democrats would need 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster blocking the bill from a vote.

Court Recognizes Same-Sex Parents Have Parental Rights

Photo of mother and daughter hitting 'high five'
Photo of mother and daughter hitting 'high five'
(stock photo: Any Lane from Pexels)

Yesterday, the Michigan Court of Appeals recognized two unmarried women as parents where one parent is a genetic parent and the other parent gave birth.

LaNesha Matthews and Kyresha LeFever were a same-sex couple who had twins together using assisted reproduction. The children were conceived through in vitro fertilization using Kyresha’s eggs, and LaNesha gave birth. Last year, a trial court ruled LaNesha is a surrogate with no parental rights because she is not a genetic parent, even though she always intended to be a mother and parented the children since they were born seven years ago.

After the parents broke up, they shared custody for several years before going to court after a dispute. The trial court ruled that LaNesha was not a parent, removed LaNesha from the birth certificates, prevented her from participating in their educational or medical decision-making, and allowed her only limited visitation as an unrelated “third party.”

On April 1, 2021, the Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the trial court’s ruling, finding that LaNesha and Kyresha are both equal parents to their children. One of the judges wrote an additional opinion explaining that all parents and their children have a constitutional right to be recognized, regardless of birth or genetics.

“We are grateful that our client and her children are once again recognized as a family,” said NCLR Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura. “We know that families are formed in many ways. Recognizing genetics as the only basis for parent-child relationships leaves out many families and harms children by separating them from their parents.”

NCLR represented LaNesha on appeal before the Michigan Court of Appeals along with her trial counsel Regina Jemison.

(via press release from NCLR)