Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Around The Nation

Minnesota GOP Lawmaker Ready To Co-sponsor Proposed Same-sex Marriage Law
SAINT PAUL, MN -- A Republican Minnesota state lawmaker has announced that he is preparing to become a co-sponsor of a bill to legalise same-sex marriage the state.
Branden Petersen, a first term senator who had previously served in the House told reporters from the Star Tribune
“At this point, I am concerned about doing the right thing,” said Petersen, an Andover resident who is married and has two young children. “I have a certain amount of peace about that, and I will let the chips fall where they may.”
According to the paper, Petersen would become the first Republican legislator to publicly support same-sex marriage. In the interview with the Tribune, Petersen, 27, admitted his decision could be politically damaging back home and cycle. him his seat in the next election cycle.
The Senator also noted that because his father-in-law has been in a same-sex relationship for nearly 20 years, the subject has been problematic, telling the Tribune that this issue has fiercely divided his family in the same way it has split the rest of the state. He started discussing the issue with colleagues, his pastor and close friends before taking his public stance.
His agreeing to co-sponsor the proposed measure is a radical shift from his previously held position on the subject of same-sex marriage, Petersen was among a majority of Republican legislators who put a state constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot asking voters to add language banning same-sex marriage.
Minnesota voters defeated that amendment which political analysts claim gave significant momentum to return and try to erase the state’s long-standing law against same-sex marriage. They also noted that having Petersen on board as a co-sponsor/author would be an enormous political coup for same-sex marriage advocates as the drive to get the measure through the legislature moves forward.
Petersen also told The Tribune that he has several concerns that must be addressed before he will sign onto the measure. He wants to add language guaranteeing that any religious leader can choose not to wed same-sex couples. He also insists that kids in same-sex marriages have the same financial guarantees as children of other married couples in time of divorce.
“It’s only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is legal,” Petersen said. “I thought it was important to engage the issue now, and when we do it, do it right, and that there’s some perspective from the people I represent in that.”
Openly gay Senator Scott Dibble, (DFL) chief sponsor of the measure told the paper he was thrilled to have a Republican backer adding that he is willing to agree to Petersen’s additions.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “I think it also allows a lot of space for other legislators to consider the same. Everything he has articulated, I see no problem with. At all,” said Dibble.
Petersen said be believes his support will clear the way for other Republicans to join him in voting to legalize same-sex marriage.
“I know there are other Republicans who are very interested in supporting same-sex marriage,” he said.
District Of Columbia
D.C. Lawmakers To Ease Gender-Change Regulations
WASHINGTON -- A bill introduced Tuesday by D.C. council member at large David A. Catania will allow transgender District residents to legally change to their appropriate gender identity. The law would require that a resident present a signed affidavit from a physician indicating that that person now wants to be gender identified as a man or a woman, making the legal change on their birth certificate,
According to Catania, current D. C. law provides a process is too cumbersome and outdated because some transgender individuals can change their sex without surgery and the existing law requires a court order before a man can legally become a woman or vice-versa. If approved, the Vital Records Division would also be required to issue a new birth certificate with the applicant’s new sex instead of marking an existing certificate as “amended.”
Catania noted that the proposed measure would bring the District in line with 19 other states and New York City.
Catania said the provision will help remove the stigma associated with sex changes. Catania’s bill has six co-sponsors, meaning its passage is virtually assured when it comes up for a vote on the 13-member council later this year.