U.S. Embassy Philippines issued its first visa to same-sex couple
|U. S. Embassy complex, Manila, the Philippines|
MANILA, Luzon -- The United States Embassy in the Philippines announced earlier this week that it had issued its first fiancé visa to a same-sex couple. According to the Embassy, Noel “Aeinghel” Amaro and Robert Cotterman were the first gay couple in the Philippines to receive a fiancé visa on December 2, 2013. Cotterman serves in the U.S. military and is scheduled to return from a tour in Afghanistan in January 2014.
Although same-sex marriage is not yet recognized in the Philippines, gay Americans are now able to petition for family-based visas on behalf of their Filipino spouses, fiancés, and their children.
"This change comes months after a momentous decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Overturning DOMA signifies that the U.S. federal government must extend all federal rights and privileges of marriage to any married couple, regardless of sexual orientation. Currently, gay couples can marry in 16 of 50 American states, and the nation’s capital. This extension of rights includes immigration benefits." The Embassy said via its press release on the Embassy's website adding;
Advancing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender equality has been one of President Obama’s top priorities. Upon the first issuance of a same-sex visa in London, Secretary of State John Kerry stated that one of the “most important exports by far is America’s belief in the equality of all people.” He noted that “the State Department, which has always been at the forefront of equality in the federal government . . . is tearing down an unjust and an unfair barrier that for too long stood in the way of same-sex families being able to travel as a family to the United States.”
The announcement by the Embassy highlights the fact that American officials wants to educate gay Filipinos about new visa opportunities.
Filipinos in same-sex relationships with Americans are encouraged to view the Visas section of the Embassy website at manila.usembassy.gov for more information.
Russian Prime Minister: Gay propaganda law "exotic, unworthy of support"
|Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev|
By Brody Levesque | MOSCOW -- Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told Russian journalist Marianna Maksimovskaya Friday that he thinks that the Duma, Russia's Federal Parliament, has recently switched its focus from political bans to private life. Referring specifically to the "gay propaganda" law passed last June and signed into law by his predecessor and current President Vladimir Putin, Medvedev said that that law along with similar measures "laws were passed to protect feelings of religious believers." Laws proposed last week by lawmakers who sponsored the anti-gay laws included initiatives to ban free abortions and children beauty pageants.
Medvedev told Maksimovskaya that the Duma "may offer exotic initiatives, but that does not mean that they should be supported."
“In every parliament there have always been initiatives that are systemic, and others are exotic. They may be diverse. Some of them do not get any support. These initiatives are mentioned, but neither the executive authority, nor the president do not have anything to do with them. They were formed by the parliament." Medvedev said and then added that although the Duma is structured into factions and parties it includes real people.
“They are not cogs of the machine. They may have their own ideas about morality, about the good and the bad. So sometimes they propose some quite peculiar initiatives… you know , it’s their attitude towards life.
It does not mean I endorse them. On the contrary, I am not a supporter of hypocritical approaches to life. I emphasize again, these are people who make decisions and formulate their proposals. They need to be treated with a certain respect, but that does not mean that they should be supported."
The Prime Minister noted that other nation's parliaments have similar situations with "such exotica." "Parliament is a place where opinions of huge number of people collide," he said.
In addition to his duties as Prime Minster, Medvedev is a chairman of the ruling majority “United Russia” party which voted in favor of the gay propaganda ban law.
Recent polling by Russian firms the Levada Centre and the Public Opinion Foundation, have shown that the anti-gay law has a great number of supporters among Russian population. About three-quarters (77%) of Russians said homosexuality should not be accepted by society, while just 16% said it should be accepted and only 7% are neutral or had no opinion.