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December 14, 2012

News Briefs

Anti-gay bias is a serious problem, say most in poll

Princeton, N.J.--Almost two-thirds of respondents in a November 26-29 USA Today/Gallup poll said that bias against gays and lesbians was a serious problem in the United States.

The poll used a random sampling of 1,015 adults, as well as 250 LGBT adults who had been in previous polls, to compare the two samples.

Among all American adults in the poll, 23 percent said anti-gay bias was a “very serious” problem, and another 40 percent said it was “somewhat serious.” Just over a quarter of respondents, 26 percent, answered “not too serious,” while only nine percent said “not serious at all.”

Among the LGBT respondents, 38 percent thought bias was “very serious,” half answered “somewhat serious,” and only nine percent and three percent responded in the final two categories.

The numbers were much closer in response to questions about how difficult it is in the respondents’ communities to be openly gay, with just a percent or two separating the general responses from the LGBT group’s. Over half of each said that it was not difficult, with 42 percent of the general group saying it was “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult,” and 40 percent of the LGBT group giving those responses.

The LGBT people polled were far more optimistic about whether LGBT issues would be resolved, or would always divide the country. Of the larger group, 45 percent thought the country would always be divided, while 51 percent thought consensus would eventually be reached. Among the LGBT respondents, however, 21 percent answered the former, 77 percent the latter.

State’s first TG representative resigns

Nashua, N.H.--State Rep.-elect Stacie Marie Laughton will not be New Hampshire’s first transgender lawmaker after tendering a letter of resignation on December 6.

There were calls for Laughton’s resignation after it was discovered that she had been tried on three charges relating to a credit card fraud ring. She arranged a plea bargain with prosecutors, resulting in a 4½ month sentence in jail and a ten-year suspended sentence.

The fraud charges stemmed from before her transition, when she was known as Barry Charles Laughton Jr.

New Hampshire law allows felons to hold public office as long as it is not between sentencing and “final discharge.” It is unclear whether the ten-year suspended sentence should have prevented her from running, and the state’s attorney general has yet to rule on the matter. Laughton, however, said that even if the matter is decided in her favor, she would not be able to get anything done in the legislature with this shadow hanging over her.

The first gay Cabinet secretary?

Washington, D.C.--Turnover in his cabinet for his second term might bring an openly gay commerce secretary, as President Barack Obama is reportedly considering nominating U.S. Export-Import Bank chairman Fred Hochberg to the post.

It would make Hochberg the first openly gay cabinet secretary.

A source, who spoke to the Washington Blade on the promise of anonymity, said that the administration is considering Hochberg for a number of roles, but that the Commerce Dept. would present the best fit.

Former Commerce Secretary John Bryson resigned in June after suffering a seizure while driving.

Hochberg was a Clinton-era deputy administrator at the Small Business Administration, becoming its acting administrator.

Another gay Obama administration member, Office of Personnel Management director John Berry, is also being considered for Secretary of the Interior, according to Capitol Hill rumors.

Mexican high court rules for marriage

México, D.F.--The Mexican Supreme Court on December 5 struck down a law in the state of Oaxaca restricting marriage to an opposite-sex institution.

Three same-sex couples filed suit in August 2011 after being rejected for marriage licenses; a state court ruled in April in favor of one couple, but against the other two.

An appeals court in Oaxaca ruled for the couples, noting that the Mexican constitution bars anti-gay discrimination, and ordered state officials to allow same-sex marriage.

The Oaxacan government asked the Supreme Court to rule on the case.

México City has allowed same-sex marriages since 2010, and the high court has previously ruled that states must recognize marriages performed legally in the distrito federal. Much like Washington, D.C., the capital also known as México D.F. is a self-governing entity, separate from the nation’s 31 states.

Pennsylvania lawmaker comes out

Harrisburg, Pa.--State Rep. Mike Fleck is now officially Pennsylvania’s first out gay state legislator, and also the state’s first out gay Republican legislator. He came out at the beginning of December, a month before the first gay man elected to the Pennsylvania statehouse, Brian Sims, takes office.

Fleck is the second openly Republican state legislator in the country, the first being Missouri’s Zach Wyatt, who came out in May.

Both, however, came out after they were in office. The first openly gay Republican to be elected to a state legislature is Ohio’s Tim Brown. He has been out for years as a Wood County commissioner before winning the District 3 seat in the Ohio House last month.

Colorado to get civil unions next year

Denver--Colorado is likely to pass a civil union law next year, after Republican lawmakers who quashed the measure in previous sessions were voted out of power.

House Democrats had enough votes to pass a civil union bill this year, but the leadership refused to let it come up for debate. That decision helped create a new 37-28 Democratic majority in the House in the November election.

Rep. Pat Steadman, who has pushed for the bill, will not be able to enjoy it, as his partner died in September. Steadman also would rather see full marriage, but the state has passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino will be the new speaker of the House of Representatives, the first openly gay man to hold the role. He expects the measure to be passed by the end of March.

Gov. John Hickenlooper supports civil unions, and is likely to sign the legislation.

‘Opposition to gay marriage is dying’

New York City--Conservative commentator George Will on December 9 read the eulogy for opposition to same-sex marriage, saying on the ABC News show This Week, “There is something like an emerging consensus. Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It’s old people.”

He was, in part, referring to an ABC News-Washington Post poll that found 51 percent of the country supports same-sex marriage, and that number gets higher among younger demographics, lower among older people.

Eleven years ago, only 35 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.












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