The National Guard’s top officer said Tuesday that the number of states refusing to provide equal benefits to same-sex couples in guard units has dropped in recent weeks, but he promised to keep pushing until all states comply with Defense Department policies.
“We are adamant that same sex benefits will be equally extended,” just as they are to heterosexual couples in the guard, Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, who represents the guard on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Washington.
The issue came to a head recently in Texas, where a group that represents gay military spouses says the Texas National Guard is refusing to process a military housing allowance application for a same-sex couple, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Following a Supreme Court ruling that the federal government was required to recognize same-sex marriage, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in August ordered the U.S. military to extend equal benefits to all married couples. Nine states, however, refused to issue ID cards to same-sex spouses.
Grass said he has been working the phones with National Guard commanders nationwide, and the issue now persists only in five states: Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia.
In places where state constitutions bar recognition of same-sex marriage, officials have found workarounds, such as establishing federal processing centers where all guard members apply for benefits.
“We’re going to find a solution, we’re going to make this fair,” Grass promised
Teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by a Taliban militant last October after campaigning for girls’ right to education, has won the prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize, KidsRights announced Tuesday.
The Pakistani 16-year-old will receive the award from 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner and women’s rights campaigner Tawakkol Karman at a glittering ceremony in The Hague on September 6, the Amsterdam-based organisation said.
Malala “risked her life in the fight for access to education for girls all over the world,” KidsRights said in a statement.
“By awarding the 2013 International Children’s Peace Prize… KidsRights shines the spotlight on a brave and talented child who has demonstrated special dedication to children’s rights,” it added.
The passionate advocate for girls education was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while on a school bus near her home in Pakistan’s Swat Valley last year.
She was given life-saving treatment in Britain where she now lives, but the attack galvanised her campaign for greater educational opportunities for girls.
Malala’s brave fight back from her injuries and her speech at the United Nations in July have made her a leading contender for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
A Pakistani teenager nearly killed by Taliban gunmen for advocating that all girls should have the right to go to school gave her first formal public remarks Friday at the United Nations. It also happened to be Malala Yousafzai’s 16th birthday.
“Today, it is an honor for me to be speaking again after a long time,” she said. “Being here with such honorable people is a great moment in my life.”
She looked out at an audience of hundreds of children from around the world and U.N. members, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and told them that she was wearing a pink shawl that once belonged to Benazir Bhutto, the two-time prime minister of Pakistan who was killed in 2007 in a suicide attack at a political rally.
“Dear sisters and brothers,” she said, “we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way when we were in Swat, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.
“The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens,” she said.
“The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”
This fear is partly based on the Taliban’s own lack of education, Yousafzai said. And, she said, world leaders should “change their strategic policies” to press for peace and ensure that children’s and women’s rights are protected.
“We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education — all around the world for every child.”
Yousafzai presented Ban, the U.N. secretary-general, with a petition signed by nearly 4 million people in support of the 57 million girls and boys around the world who are denied education.
In October, six men were arrested in connection with the attack on Malala and the other schoolchildren who were on the bus as they headed home from school.
All of the men were released from jail because of a lack of evidence against them.
The one named as the primary suspect, identified by police as Atta Ullah Khan, a 23-year-old man from the Swat district, remains on the run, authorities told CNN.
Khan was studying for a master’s degree in chemistry.
In his majority opinion invalidating the federal application of the Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Anthony Kennedy did more than strike a blow to a statute championed by religious conservatives. By detailing the cruel motives of lawmakers who couched their purpose in preserving the nation’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, Kennedy’s opinion quite remarkably scolds members of Congress for using religiously based “morality” as a bludgeon to the rights of other citizens.
Obviously the Court in United States v. Windsor did not hold that Congress cannot legislate morality; it only held that this particular law violated the equal protection rights of certain citizens. But by finding that “the principal purpose” of DOMA was to “impose inequality,” the Court majority cast a dim view on efforts to legislate alleged “Judeo-Christian” morality, and to use that as an excuse for discrimination.
Indeed today’s opinion aims directly at the heart of the religious right’s operating principle that “biblical principles” must undergird all legislation. The corollary of that operating principle is that laws also must protect the “religious freedom” of those advancing “biblical” laws by depriving LGBT people of equal rights. Kennedy shot down, rhetorically at least, both those principles today.
In detailing DOMA’s legislative history, Kennedy wrote that the “interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, a dignity conferred by the States in the exercise of their sovereign power, was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence.” In other words, Kennedy rejected the notion that DOMA supporters were defending or supporting anything but discrimination.
Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.
Friends and critics alike have said it’s not enough to simply change our message or website. I agree. I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today. I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated.
Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.
This is a step forward. One road block less for equal rights.
More: I Am Sorry
“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard,” Tony Moore, Board member of Exodus. The message came less than a day after Exodus released a statement apologizing (www.exodusinternational.org/apology) to the gay community for years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole.
“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”
Now this is interesting. Not only did Exodus International issued an apology for their actions, but voluntarily closed their operations.
Though he (and the Ravens)) knocked my Patriots out of the AFC Championship game….this is an excellent message coming from a very unlikely profession.
Can the Super Bowl be a platform for same-sex marriage?
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo hopes so, and dreams of celebrating a victory in New Orleans two Sundays from now by dancing with Ellen Degeneres.
Read more: newsbusters.org
This is a followup video to this one.
In compiling a list of those wingnuts — Christian, Jewish and Muslim varieties — who immediately blamed Hurricane Sandy on gay rights, abortion or whatever else they hate, I missed Rabbi Noson Leiter, Executive Director of Torah Jews for Decency. But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo didn’t. He put out a press release hammering the guy:
‘The comments made by Rabbi Noson Leiter that sought to link the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to our state’s embrace of marriage equality are as offensive as they are ignorant. This catastrophic storm claimed the lives of more than forty New Yorkers. This kind of hateful rhetoric has no place in our public discourse, and is particularly distasteful in times of tragedy. Our state is proud to offer equal rights to all our citizens, and we will never tolerate the use of a tragedy like Hurricane Sandy to promote a divisive and bigoted agenda. I call on Rabbi Leiter to apologize immediately for his hurtful comments.’