One Equal World

Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage

A mass gathering of protestors in Taiwan who are holding signs in favor of marriage equality.

Protestors gather in Taiwan to voice their support for marriage equality.
Photo credit: weniliou / Shutterstock

Chi Chia-Wei spent more than five months in jail in 1986 for publicly being out as a gay man. That was when Taiwan was under martial law, and he secured a pardon before the year was out, but that was only the beginning of his fight for actual justice. In the 30 years since then, Chia-Wei has campaigned for gay rights in Taiwan, leading petitions and lawsuits against the island nation’s evolving government.

His work has finally borne fruit. In a ruling that may set a brand new precedent for Asia, Taiwan’s constitutional court announced on Wednesday, May 24th, that laws against same-sex marriage have been found unconstitutional. The legislature has two years to amend their Civil Code to reflect the decision or to pass laws specifically regarding same-sex marriages. If they fail to do so, those marriages will be legalized by default.

The justice’s wording called sexual orientation an “immutable characteristic that is resistant to change,” and therefore laws against same-sex relationships violate the personal freedom and protections of everybody.

While Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, has shown only lukewarm support for the cause and there have been outspoken rallies against it, the general atmosphere around this decision is not one of surprise. In 2013, the marriage of two transgender women was upheld. In 2015, the most recent year Chi applied for permission to marry his committed partner, the legislature was already considering changing Taiwan’s Civil Code, which they are now obligated to do.

Chi and many others are going to remain active in the legislative process surrounding the new decision. They are adamant that it is the Civil Code which must be amended, rather than a separate marriage law for same-sex couples.

“In Asia, every country’s situation is different,” Chi said after the announcement. “But this should certainly offer some encouragement to different societies to consider following in Taiwan’s footsteps and giving gays and lesbians the right to marry.”

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A photo of a homosexual male couple consulting with a tax professional.

Image: Shutterstock

Last year, the Supreme Court finally recognized the rights of same-sex couples to get married. However, the IRS has just now managed to catch up with the tax side of things. On September 2nd, the changes finally went into effect which removed language like “husband and wife” from tax documents and regulations.

A variety of regulations have been affected, such as Income Tax, Estate Tax, Employment Tax and others, meaning that people in same-sex marriages can finally, legally, enjoy the same tax benefits as people in heterosexual marriages. It’s been almost a year since the IRS and Department of the Treasury suggested making these changes, so it’s not like the IRS was just twiddling their thumbs. They proposed the changes in October of 2015, and SCOTUS only recognized same-sex marriage in July of 2015, so all things considered, that’s a pretty quick turnaround.

Of course, there are a lot of hoops to jump through when you’re trying to change an entire system. But rest assured, the new regulations will be there for the next tax season so that same-sex couples can file their taxes the same as their heterosexual neighbors. Good news for tax advisers who have access to a whole new field of clients!

Depending on whom you talk to, joint filing is either a boon or a curse; for some people being married comes with tax benefits, while for others it puts them into a higher bracket. The details vary from state to state, so if you’re filing as a married couple for the first time (gay or straight!) you should definitely consult a professional to ensure you get everything right.

On the bright side, straight and queer folks alike can now complain equally about taxes.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 is a day to go down in Utah history. Salt Lake City, home to the Mormon Church, elected their first openly gay mayor, former lawmaker Jackie Biskupski. And better yet, it was a surprise to no one.

Biskupski says that Utah has come a very long way. When she was first elected to office in 1998, some of her lawmaker colleagues would not shake her hand. And now LGBT issues didn’t even define the race between her and her mayoral opponent, the incumbent Ralph Becker. The two are friends, and he’s vowed to work with her to ensure a smooth transition.

Becker, 63 and a Democrat, helped pass a 2009 city anti-discrimination ordinance and officiated dozens of the first gay marriages after Utah’s surprise ruling overturned their same-sex marriage ban.

The election does, however, come on the heels of a number of local strikes against the queer community. In the days before Biskupski’s victory, a SLC judge removed a foster child from a lesbian family to place her with a heterosexual couple, and the Mormon church issued new rules targeting gay members and their children; specifically that the children of gay Mormon couples could not be baptized until they reached adulthood and publicly disavowed same-sex relationships.

It might not need to be said that Biskupski is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She says that one of her first goals as mayor is to sit with church leaders and discuss their stance, especially in the light that earlier this same year, the church endorsed a statewide anti-discrimination law that included protections for gay and transgender people. While the church is not under her jurisdiction, obviously, they have always played a role in SLC politics.

No word yet on whether this is the peak of Biskupski’s political ambitions. But one could hope she casts her eye on the gubernatorial seat in a few years. She’s more than proven she’s not afraid of the work that progress requires.

This week, more than 300 veteran Republican lawmakers, consultants, and operatives came together to sign an amicus brief at the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage. The amicus brief, also known as a “friend of the court brief,” was organized by prominent Republican political consultant Ken Mehlman.

Gay MarriageEarlier this year, the United States Supreme Court announced that it would hear oral arguments in a case challenging the ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. According to TIME, the amicus brief was filed for “the four same-sex marriage cases the Court will hear on April 28 that could legalize unions nationwide,” as an initiative to persuade the court to rule in favor of the freedom to marry. TIME also points out that Mehlman headed a similar effort to overturn California’s Proposition 8 – a state constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage – in 2013.

Many prominent Republicans came forward to sign the amicus brief as a showing of political solidarity on the issue of marriage equality. Republican signatories include former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, GOP billionaire David Koch, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, and Senators Susan Collins and Mark Kirk. As of March 5, the list of signatories had reached 303.

The fact that so many influential Republicans have come forward to support marriage equality is truly encouraging; hopefully the amicus brief will aid the fight for marriage equality in what many are considering a historic Supreme Court hearing.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality after the April 28 hearing, this would make it possible for same-sex couples across the rest of the country to wed. “The decision by the justices is potentially historic and could add to the rulings and other actions that now make it legal for gay couples to marry in 37 states and the District of Columbia,” writes Catalina Camia for USA Today.

It is projected that the Supreme Court justices will deliver a nationwide ruling on the issue of marriage equality by June 2015.

A 2013 poll from Out and Equal Workplace Advocates revealed that 67 percent of American adults now believe that nationwide marriage equality is inevitable. Happily, this opinion is one that is shared with many politicians, legal advisors and analysts, and policymakers across the country. With marriage equality momentum gaining in states from coast to coast, it appears that the freedom to marry nationwide is in fact inevitable.marriage-equality

Prominent political figures such as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, former Vice President Al Gore, former First Lady Laura Bush, the Clintons President Barack Obama, and many others have come out in support of marriage equality. President Obama once said, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” a statement that many politicians have echoed.

Celebrities, attorneys, judges, and social commenters have also been influential in directing the national dialogue about marriage equality. Kendall Coffey, an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law has been gauging the fight for marriage equality through a legal lens, and notes that the momentum is going to continue. Even Florida, an unlikely state to champion marriage equality amid its southern neighbors has had multiple judges vote in favor of the freedom to marry. Coffey and other legal analysts predict that his kind of momentum will only grow, and that inevitably, same-sex marriages will be legally permitted nationwide.

Adam Buska’s NOH8 Campaign is another place that reveals just how many individuals support same-sex marriage. Those who are photographed for the campaign are essentially pledging their support for the freedom to marry; the photographs feature celebrities, politicians, lawyers, television and news personalities, athletes, and other people from all walks of life.

With so many influential figures and the majority of the American public showing their support for marriage equality, hopefully it won’t be too long before same-sex marriages are recognized nationwide.

Image via paintings / Shutterstock.com

The United States Ambassador to the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe has married his partner Brian Walsh, Baer began the fourth openly gay person in a state department emissary role when he came into the position back in September. He is the seventh openly gay person appointed by President Obama.

Said Baer in a tweet, “So, I got married this morning. Thank you @BarackObama @HilaryClinton &@JohnKerry for your commitment to equality.”

gay-marriage-tweet-Daniel-Baer

 

Baer and his now-husband Brian Walsh married in Vienna, Austria surrounded by friends and family.

Many European countries, such as Austria, do not currently permit gay marriage, however civil partnerships are allowed. The Advocate is reporting that Baer returned to the United States to receive a marriage license, presumably in Massachusetts where he is also a professor at Harvard University.

The Advocate also reported that the marriage took place in the garden of Baer and Walsh’s home in Vienna. If true, he was married in the officla residence of the US Mission, which would be US federal territory, where the US federal government also doesn’t allow for same-sex marriage.

Rev. Frank Schaefer back in December was defrocked after he officiated the marriage of his gay son.

Schaefer at the time had met with officials, who originally put him on suspension for thirty days. The period was meant to be a time of reflection, meant to have the Reverend to accept that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings. However, Schaefer stated he would not do that stating:

“I cannot voluntarily surrender my credentials because I am a force now for many, for tens of thousands of LGBT members in our church. … I cannot uphold the United Methodist Book of Discipline in its entirety. . … I cannot uphold those discriminatory laws … that are hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and sisters in the church.”

Schaefer was kicked out of the church, however in a move that is surprising many, the United Methodist Church have voted to let him return to the pulpit. This comes on the heels of Schafer’s appeal of the ruling.

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

“The nine-person [appeals] panel ordered the church to restore Frank Schaefer’s pastoral credentials, saying the jury that convicted him of breaking church law erred when fashioning his punishment.

“I’ve devoted my life to this church, to serving this church, and to be restored and to be able to call myself a reverend again and to speak with this voice means so much to me,” an exultant Schaefer told The Associated Press, adding he intends to work for gay rights “with an even stronger voice from within the United Methodist Church.” …

The appeals panel, which met in Linthicum, Maryland, last week to hear the case, upheld a 30-day suspension that Schaefer has already served and said he should get back pay dating to when the suspension ended in December.

The jury’s punishment was illegal under church law, the appeals panel concluded, writing in its decision that “revoking his credentials cannot be squared with the well-established principle that our clergy can only be punished for what they have been convicted of doing in the past, not for what they may or may not do in the future.”