Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Around The Nation

New Mexico
New Mexico Woman Suffering from Life-Threatening Brain Cancer Asks Court to Let Her Marry Her Partner of 21 Years
SANTA FE -- Lawyers for a New Mexican Lesbian couple filed an emergency request Wednesday with New Mexico’s Second Judicial District Court to allow the Pojoaque, N.M. couple to legally marry immediately because one of the women suffers from a severe medical condition that may prove fatal in the immediate future.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) filed an emergency request on behalf of Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, declaring in the court paperwork that Roper suffers from a life-threatening form of brain cancer, and her health has deteriorated severely in the past few months.
The request seeks an emergency order from the court that would allow the couple to marry so that Neuman and their three children will be legally protected should Roper pass away. 
"I want to know that my family will be protected if I pass away," said Roper. "Angelique and I have been married in our hearts for 21 years and raised three wonderful children together. 
Because of my illness, we do not have the luxury of waiting years for the courts to decide whether loving, committed same-sex couples can marry in New Mexico. For us, the time is now."
According to the couple, they met in Socorro, N.M. during their first semester at New Mexico Tech University, and fell in love almost immediately. Although the State of New Mexico does not recognize their relationship, the couple considers themselves married for the 21 years they have been together. The couple settled in Northern New Mexico after the United States government's Los Alamos Labs hired Neuman to work as an engineer. Later, they adopted three siblings from the New Mexico foster care system. Their oldest child is enlisted in the U.S. Army and is currently in basic training.
Due to Roper's sudden and severe illness, the couple cannot travel out of state to marry in a place that does not discriminate against same-sex couples. The only way they can hope to protect their family in this time of crisis and realize their dream of being legally married is for the New Mexico courts to grant emergency relief that would allow the County of Santa Fe to issue them a marriage license now, while the case proceeds.
"Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed of growing up and getting married," said Neuman. "I knew Jen was the one almost as soon as we met, and I don't want to lose the opportunity to marry her. 
It is very important to us that our relationship is recognized as what it is: a marriage."
Lesbian detective's family asked to repent or leave church forever over their support of her and her wife
COLLEGEDALE -- The suburban Chattanooga city of Collegedale's decision to grant benefits to same-sex couples was a victory for veteran police detective Kat Cooper and her wife Krista. However, the decision by the city, the first in the state of Tennessee to offer benefits to same-sex spouses of its government employees, came at a tremendous cost to her family.
Cooper's mother Linda, who had stayed by her daughter's side throughout the months long process to win council approval for the benefits, holding her hand literally and hugging her after the August 5th 4-1 City Council vote, found herself meeting with the leadership of her church who told her and her relatives they were no longer welcome to be members or attend services.
The Chattanooga Times reported that in the eyes of the church's pastor, Ken Willis, the family's support of Cooper was as good as them making an endorsement of homosexuality as acceptable.
Detective Cooper told the paper;
"My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That's it," said Cooper. "Literally, they're exiling members for unconditionally loving their children -- and even extended family members."
Cooper's family had been members of the church for over six decades and were told that the only way they'd be allowed to remain as members of the congregation was if they repented their sins, in this case, their supporting the detective and her wife.
"The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle," Willis said. "The Bible speaks very plainly about that."
They were given an ultimatum: They could repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation. Or leave the church.
Willis said the church didn't expect the Cooper family to disown their daughter.
"But you certainly can't condone that lifestyle, whether it's any kind of sin -- whether they're shacked up with someone or living in a state of fornication or they're guilty of crimes," he said. "You don't condone it. You still love them as a parent."
Cooper's father said his wife is still too distraught over the church's actions to comment.
"She is just so traumatized and so upset," he said. "It has been days and she's still crying. It's almost like losing a family member."
Cooper's parents were practically founding members of the Ridgedale Church of Christ according to Cooper. Her father was a church elder and his picture still hangs on the wall there. Cooper grew up helping her grandfather clean the pews and helped her grandmother hang bulletin boards for Sunday school.
Cooper and her wife were married in Maryland this last May.

State's High School Sports Governing Board Delays Transgender Policy
LINCOLN -- The Nebraska State Activities Association board of directors said Wednesday that it will allow member schools to decide whether they want the association to set a policy for handling eligibility issues with transgender students. The NSAA is comprised of middle and high schools throughout the state. It administers championships and rules for school athletics and activities.
The Journal Star reported Wednesday that NSAA Executive Director Rhonda Blanford-Green said that having the membership move the issue forward is the best and most open way to draft a policy. 
Blanford-Green told the paper she had previously put a policy on the NSAA's website after a general board discussion in November which would have required students who want to participate in sports with members of the gender opposite from their biological gender to prove their gender identity through the testimony of experts such as hormonal experts and psychologists.
Blanford-Green said that officials later realised that the policy had not been voted on nor approved and it was removed from the website.
Omaha attorney Joni Stacy, who a board member of Omaha's Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians, (PFLAG) chapter, offered to be a resource for board members as they discuss a policy, which she said is supported and mandated by the federal government.
Blanford-Green was an associate commissioner of the Colorado High School Activities Association, prior to her current position, where she helped lead the efforts to adopt policies establishing the rights of transgender student-athletes to switch teams. Colorado was among one of the first two state athletic associations in the country 
"Having a policy would allow Nebraska to be proactive, not reactive, on eligibility issues involving transgender students," she said. 
"It would ensure the association treats all students equitably. It's not about advocacy," she added, "it's about education and making decision that are not discriminatory and are in compliance with federal law."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.