Tasmania's Parliament To Consider Same-Sex Marriages: Move Is Ahead Of Federal Government
HOBART, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA -- Tasmania's Premier Lara Giddings, during a speech delivered to the State Labor Party conference Saturday, announced that she would move to legislate same-sex marriage equality by the end of the year.
The move appeared to catch the Australian federal government and the six other states by surprise, with a spokesperson from the government of Victoria noting that there has not been consideration on whether or not it would recognise same-sex marriages from Tasmania - and restating its view that marriage laws were a federal matter.
Constitutional law expert Professor George Williams on Sunday argued his position that marriage falls under the ''concurrent'' or shared powers of Section 51 of the federal constitution - leaving the way open for states to legislate on gay marriage.
The constitution grants two types of power to the Commonwealth. Section 51 gives concurrent power over topics such as taxation that can be the subject of both federal and state laws. Section 52 grants exclusive powers only to the Commonwealth over matters such as the seat of federal government. Marriage falls into the first category.
"For most of our life as a nation, marriage has been regulated by the states. The Commonwealth first passed a law on the topic in 1961 when it brought about a national scheme. The question today is whether one or more states might re-enter the field to legislate for same-sex marriage.
The only limitation is that, where federal and state laws conflict, the Commonwealth law takes precedence. My view is that a state same-sex marriage law would not be inconsistent with the federal Marriage Act after it was narrowed in 2004 to make sure it dealt only with heterosexual marriage. However, this could only be determined by the High Court.
The first jurisdiction to permit same-sex marriage will probably not be the Commonwealth. While NSW is also unlikely, given the difficulty of passing such a law through its lower house, the law might be enacted in the ACT, South Australia or Tasmania, " he wrote. ~ The Sydney Morning Herald
Premier Giddings said she had obtained legal advice from the solicitor-general that there was no obstacle to stop legislation. "Labor has a proud history of tackling discrimination and introducing important social reform,'' she said. "I expect the rest of the country will be watching closely as we work through this process." Giddings also said that under the legislation being considered, Tasmania would grant marriage licences to same-sex couples from the other six states.
HRC Sends $1M More Funds To Fight Same-Sex Marriage Referendums In Four States
WASHINGTON -- The Human Rights Campaign announced a further $1 million cash infusion adding to earlier funding and significant on-the-ground work in the four states facing marriage-related ballot measures in November – Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. The cash infusion brings HRC’s contributions to legislative and electoral marriage issues in the 2011-2012 cycle to $4.8 million.
“This is a tipping point year in the fight for marriage equality that requires significant investment,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We are committed to making sure this is the year that our opponents can no longer claim Americans will not support marriage equality at the ballot box.”
Nationally, support for marriage equality is at 54 percent according to a June 2012 CNN poll. Additionally public polls in Maine, Maryland and Washington show majorities of voters favoring marriage for committed gay and lesbian couples and polls in Minnesota also show voters there opposing the discriminatory constitutional amendment.
HRC has established a special ballot measure PAC to aid funding of all four states. Today’s $1 million contribution will be split evenly among Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.
“Bans on marriage for same-sex couples have sent the devastating message to young people that they cannot grow up to live their dreams and be full and equal citizens,” said Griffin. “This is the year we will change that.”
In Maine, voters will be asked for the first time in the country to affirmatively pass marriage for gays and lesbians at the ballot box. Voters in Maryland and Washington are being asked to affirm legislatively passed marriage equality laws. In Minnesota, voters will consider a constitutional amendment to ban gay and lesbian couples from marriage.
“All of these campaigns are winnable but they need resources to educate voters and fight back the lies from groups like the National Organization for Marriage,” said Griffin. “The country is moving in the direction of equality and a win in any of these states will show that marriage equality is quickly becoming a mainstream, American value.”
|Gravesite of SSGT Leonard Matlovich, USAF|
Congressional Cemetery, SE Washington D.C.
Photo By Michael Key, The Washington Blade
National LGBT Veterans Memorial Donation Campaign Launched
WASHINGTON -- A national memorial honoring Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender veterans representing the five armed services- Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines & Coast Guard is slated to be constructed on the grounds of the historic Congressional Cemetery in Southeast D.C., Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Russell, U. S. Army retired, and chair of the National LGBT Veterans Memorial (NLGBTVM) board of directors announced last week.
Russell noted, “The time has come for those of us who were forced to serve in silence to honor our fellow veterans with a dignified and impressive memorial in our national capitol. The National LGBT Veterans Memorial will provide a fitting resting place where our veterans may, as Leonard Matlovich urged us to do, ‘leave a lasting record of our accomplishments.’”
Leonard Matlovich, a USAF veteran was discharged as the first gay service member to purposely out himself to the military to fight the ban on service by openly gay and lesbian servicemembers. His case resulted in articles in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, numerous television interviews, and his photograph appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975, issue of Time magazine, making him a symbol for thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers and gay people generally. Matlovich was the first openly gay person to appear on the cover of a U.S. newsmagazine
The Congressional Cemetery or Washington Parish Burial Ground is a historic cemetery located on the west bank of the Anacostia River. Over 55,000 individuals are buried or memorialized at the cemetery, including many who helped form the nation and the city of Washington.
Though the cemetery is privately owned, the U.S. government owns 806 burial plots administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress.
Many members of the U.S. Congress who died while Congress was in session are interred at Congressional.
Russell also said that board and supporters are hoping to unveil the National LGBT Memorial on Memorial Day 2014
“The concept behind this project is to create a place where military veterans can proudly proclaim their service to their country as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person they are,” the site reads. “ If they qualify for burial in a national cemetery, they cannot declare their sexuality on their tombstone. Because we have served in silence and often been persecuted for our sexuality, it is important to many of us to openly proclaim for all the world to see that we did our duty and we did it well.”
Donations are tax deductible and qualified current or former members of the military can purchase memorial urns or bricks to commemorate their service.