For the first time, the bill to repeal the Respect for Marriage Act, which repeals the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), has a Republican co-sponsor: Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. DOMA defines marriage as between one man and one woman and denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages, as well as the legal benefits attached to marriage, including Social Security survivors' benefits, family and medical leave, and immigration rights.
Representative Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, stated, "I voted against the constitutional amendment defining marriage [in 2006] so I'm pleased to cosponsor the repeal of DOMA and work with my colleagues on marriage equality." Ros-Lehtinen also voted to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, the policy that forced lesbian, gay, and bisexual service people to keep their sexual orientation a secret or face possible expulsion from the military.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, indicated her support for Ros-Lehtinen, saying, Ros-Lehtinen's "support for this important bill confirms that equal respect for all marriages is a bipartisan, mainstream value. Working with Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Nadler, and the Respect for Marriage Act's 124 co-sponsors, Freedom to Marry will continue to make the case to Republican and Democratic members of Congress that it's time to return the federal government to its proper role of honoring all marriages legal in the states-without a gay exception."
Media Resources: Freedom to Marry Statement 9/23/11; Advocate.com 9/23/11
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .