News Briefs

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Race Against Time in Canada

Irish Government Contests Lesbian Marriage Claim

Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan of Ireland are asking their homeland to recognize their marriage in Canada for tax purposes. In November, the court cleared the case for trial, but now the government has announced it will fight the women, PlanetOut reported.

The couple is appealing based on the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Texas House Bans Gay and Lesbian Foster Parents

The Texas House of Representatives has passed legislation prohibiting “homosexuals, bisexuals, and transsexuals” from becoming foster parents. It now goes to the state Senate.

The bill would allow state social services “to investigate the backgrounds of current foster parents and remove children living in non-heterosexual households,” Yahoo News reported. Those wanting to be foster parents will have to certify their sexual orientation on their applications.

Kansas Guv Resists Ban on Gay Parents

Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sibelius of Kansas has indicated that she is not interested in legislation banning gay people from adopting children. “I think that, hopefully, all children need to be in a home with loving parents,” she said at a press conference last week. “I would hesitate to say, as a law, that any potential loving parent shouldn’t be able to parent a child and that we’d rather leave them parentless than with a loving parent.”

At the moment, there is no legislation pending in Kansas to ban gay adoptions. But the right wing there, flush from their success earlier this month passing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, is considering making a push on the issue.

Kalamazoo Dumps Partner Benefits

Municipal employees in Kalamazoo, Michigan will no longer be entitled to health benefits for their same-sex partners, WWMT reported. The city acted in response to a state constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage or marriage-like benefits.

The city commissioners did vote, however, to sue for their right to provide such benefits, which State Attorney General Mike Cox ruled were now illegal.

Five employees of the city are affected by the decision.

Meanwhile, a state appeals court threw out a lawsuit challenging the Ann Arbor school district’s provision of domestic partner benefits. The court said that the right-wing Thomas More Law Center, funded by the Domino’s pizza baron Thomas Monaghan, failed to demand that the district discontinue the policy, a necessary legal step before filing suit.

ACLU Sues Wisconsin for Domestic Partner Benefits

The Democratic governor of Wisconsin, Jim Doyle, made a half-hearted attempt to extend domestic partner benefits to employees of the University of Wisconsin this year, noting that it was the only Big Ten school not to and arguing the school was losing top gay and lesbian professors to institutions that do. The Legislature demurred, citing fiscal concerns and that was that.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state on behalf of six state employees in order to secure domestic partner benefits and family leave for all state workers. “This is a matter of basic fairness,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director for the ACLU Foundation of Wisconsin, “of whether gay and lesbian employees should receive less compensation than their straight [counterparts] for the same work.”

Lesbians Fight for Right to Marry in India

Shilpi Gupta and Usha Yadav of Allahabad, India are going to court to seek the right to marry each other. They were arrested after living together for six months and told police that they would commit suicide if they were forced to separate. Shilpi’s father told Sify, a local newspaper, that his daughter had turned down many offers of marriage from men because she is lesbian.

Indian law does not allow for same-sex marriage, but there is no law prohibiting same-sex cohabitation. The story said that some legal experts want the nation’s Supreme Court to look at the issue. But Vijay Kumar, the president of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Shiv Sena political party, said, “We cannot convert our country into Lesbos.”

Australian-Fijian Male Couple Out on Bail

Thomas McCoskar, 55, of Australia, and Dhirendra Nadan, 23, of Fiji were sentenced to prison in the latter’s homeland for having sex, a violation of the “gross indecency” statute. They were released on bail, pending an appeal of their conviction.

The case has attracted protests from groups in Australia and Fiji as well as the Human Rights Watch in New York. Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase justified the anti-sodomy law as based on biblical teaching and is telling outsiders to butt out. Fiji is 52 percent Christian.