Catching up on some gay news
Posted June 25, 2014on:
Good afternoon Widdershins. It has been awhile since I’ve written anything specifically in regard to things going on in the world of our gay brothers and sisters so I though I’d write about a few things that have been happening.
How about some good news: Obama has decided to extend additional marriage benefits to same sex couples that had not been approved previously. This will require regulatory changes that will have to be promulgated by the Labor Dept according to the NY Times article and I would think also that OPM will have to make some changes also. This is of course all due to the two decisions by the Supremes last year in Prop 8 and the U.S. v Windsor. And isn’t it amazing that the world is still spinning on its axis, and sun and the moon rise and set as they did before.
The Labor Dept has said:
it would clarify that federal employees will be able to take leave from their jobs to care for a same-sex spouse, something that has long been limited to heterosexual married couples. The Social Security Administration and the Veterans Affairs Department said they would also expand benefits for same-sex couples, subject to some legal restrictions.
After decades of blocking gay married couples from receiving the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts, most federal agencies are now treating married couples alike, regardless of gender.
Now I’m a little curious as to what it is the VA and Soc. Security will be doing and what it is that’s “subject to some legal restrictions”. That one kinda set my gay antennae to twitching just a bit. The article also goes on to say “most federal agencies are now treating married couples alike, regardless of gender.”.
Mmmmm…what’s up with the “most federal agencies”? Okay, I just found out what that is about and I”ll get to that. But here’s some more of the good stuff:
Under the changes, same-sex spouses of Defense Department employees now receive all the benefits of heterosexual husbands and wives. Federal immigration laws apply equally to gay and straight married couples. The Internal Revenue Service recognizes the marriages of all gay couples. The spouses of gay federal employees get health insurance, life insurance and flexible spending accounts.
And here’s VA and SSA thing:
But officials said that a small number of provisions in federal law explicitly prohibit the government from providing benefits to same-sex couples. Those laws apply to the Social Security agency and the Veterans Affairs Department, where officials said that Mr. Obama is unable to provide benefits by simply changing regulations.
The officials said the president would call on Congress to pass legislation to change those provisions.
And that may be the hangup for those two agencies. I can’t see this Congress getting together to be able to pass any of the necessary legislation. There will simply be too many Ralph Reeds and Tony Perkins up on the Hill to see who votes yea or nay.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, a group advocating marriage equality, praised Mr. Obama’s efforts and called on state and federal lawmakers to go even further.
“Gay couples who are married, like non-gay married couples, now share in the crucial federal safety-net of protections and responsibilities, even in states that continue to discriminate,” Mr. Wolfson said. “But because of ongoing marriage discrimination in 31 states, hundreds of thousands of couples continue to face the cruel denial of important Social Security and veterans’ benefits. Congress should move swiftly to pass curative legislation for our veterans and seniors.”
Sadly it’s probably going to take another court case or two (or more)challenging those laws affecting those two specific agencies and then the courts striking the current regulations down. It will be things that are, for instance buried deep in Title (something or other) sec this and that and it will be found unconstitutional in light of the Windsor decision or something. (Mr. Prolix, help me out here!)
Also, hooray for the Presbyterians!
The Presbyterian Church (USA) – hey that’s how they describe themselves apparently – voted recently to allow gay and lesbian wedding in their churches. This vote makes it one of the largest denominations in the country to take a step toward same-sex marriages.
By a 61-39 percent vote, the General Assembly of the 1.8 million-member PCUSA voted to allow pastors to perform gay marriages in states where they are legal. Delegates, meeting in Detroit this week, also approved new language about marriage in the church’s Book of Order, or constitution, altering references to “a man and woman” to “two persons.”
This change will not become church law until a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries vote to ratify the new language. But given the lopsided vote, approval is expected.
Now the vote was not without some dissension, with the The Presbyterian Lay Committee urging congregations to start a financial boycott. Oh my.
“The Presbyterian Lay Committee mourns these actions and calls on all Presbyterians to resist and protest them,” the group said in a statement. ” … You should refuse to fund the General Assembly, your synod, your presbytery and even your local church if those bodies have not explicitly and publicly repudiated these unbiblical actions.”
“God will not be mocked,” the statement continued, “and those who substitute their own felt desires for God’s unchangeable Truth will not be found guiltless before a holy God.”
Now under the new rules, pastors are not obligated to conduct gay weddings if they don’t wish to and also the weddings can only be conducted in the 19 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex civil marriage is legal.
Some members of the church hope that this will perhaps draw in new members as the numbers in the Presbyterian church have been falling: the church’s decades-long decline in membership — it has lost 37 percent of its membership since 1992 —has continued. These losses have been led by conservative-leaning congregations that defected over what they lamented as the church’s embrace of more liberal values.
“I fear that our church brand is in jeopardy,” said church member and public relations professional Margaret Blankers to the General Assembly. “Some question the relevance of a church they see is not living up to its reputation for fairness. Do we really want to be known for not accepting and embracing our LGBT brothers and sisters?”
The General Assembly’s vote reflects change in the nation, where in rapid succession during the past year, judges have struck down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. And a steady stream of opinion polls shows Americans’ approval of gay marriage has risen dramatically in the past few years, to around 55 percent today.
“The nation’s largest churches — Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, Mormon, United Methodist and most evangelical churches — recognize marriage only as between a man and a woman, though many Methodists are pushing for a change. The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ all allow same-sex marriage.”
So to close, I’m going to put up this youtube clip. When The Broadway Album came out (no puns) and if you happened to be in a gay bar enjoying an adult beverage and this came on, heads would turn toward the video, looking up in adoration as lips formed the word “Barbra” when the music first started and then…the lip synching would start along with Barbra. Yep, this was the unofficial anthem back then.
This is an open thread.
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