…Straight On Till Morning

In early 2010, Pope Benedict XVI condemned equality legislation in various nations, arguing that it was contrary to “natural law.” On 2 February, the United States Tax Court decided, in O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner, that medical associated with gender identity disorder are tax deductible. On 1 March, Fiji became the first Pacific Island nation to decriminalise homosexuality with the Crime Decree 2009.

On 2 March, the European Court of Human Rights ruled, in Kozak v. Poland, that homosexual couples can not be excluded from tenancy. On 31 March, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe recommended a measure to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Also on 31 March, in Fields v. Smith, the United States District Court in Wisconsin declared the 2005 Inmate Sex Change Prevention act, which prohibited doctors in Wisconsin prisoners from prescribing hormone treatments or performing sex reassignment surgery, unconstitutional because it constituted cure and unusual punishment.

On 16 April, a state court declares Arkansas Proposed Initiative Act No. 1, which banned adoption by same-sex couples, unconstitutional because it violated the privacy clause of the 14th Amendment. On 29 April, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council on Europe adopted a resolution which called “on member states to address issues related to the rights of LGBT persons.”

On 10 May, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom heard arguments in HJ and HT v. Secretary of State for the Home Department. In June, they ruled that the ‘discretion test,’ which had been used by a lower court to deny an asylum claim of two men, one from Iran and one from Cameroon, arguing that the men would not be persecuted if they concealed their orientation, was contradictory to the Convention on Human Rights and could not be used in the future to determine asylum claims. Lord Hope, Chief Justice, stated “To compel a homosexual person to pretend that his sexuality does not exist or suppress the behaviour by which to manifest itself is to deny him the fundamental right to be who he is.” The asylum requests were remitted back to the Home Office for reconsideration based on the Court’s ruling.

On 18 May, Malawi found itself on the front page of international news. Two persons, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza (who identify as female and male respectively) were sentenced to 14 years hard labour for committing “unnatural offences” and “indecent practices between males” under section 153 and 156 of the Malawi criminal code for participating in an engagement ceremony. They were pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika after international pressure and a personal appeal from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The laws which created the arrest and sentencing, however, are not altered.

On 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights ruled, in Schalk and Kopf v. Austria, that a State not legislating for or recognising same-sex marriage does not violate Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights. On 28 June, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, that public universities (ones which receive state and federal funding) may refuse to recognise student organisations that refuse admittance to members based on gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The ruling does not apply do private or for-profit universities.

On 8 July 2010, the downfall of the Defence of Marriage Act begun. A United States district court judge ruled in two cases. declaring DOMA unconstitutional: Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services and Gill v. Office of Personnel Management. The ruling stated that any definition of marriage enacted by the federal government was a violation of the Tenth Amendment* of the Constitution of the United States, and the equal protection section of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment*.

On 19 July, the UN Economic and Social Council accredited the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission the status consultant, which allowed the IGLHRC to attend UN meetings, and contribute to various UN official statements and collaborations. On 22 July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled, in P.B. and J.S. v. Austria, that denied access to insurance for same-sex couples on equal terms as heterosexual marriages was in violation to European Court of Human Rights laws.

On 4 August, a district court judge ruled, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, that California’s Proposition 8 violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment, and that the state of California had no basis to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses. On 16 August the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay, without explanation, preventing any marriage licenses to be issued. On 10 August, the Supreme Court of Mexico rule that the Mexico City same-sex marriage law was constitution, that any marriages issued in Mexico City had to be recognised throughout all of Mexico, and that it was unconstitutional to ban married same-sex couples from adopting. On 31 August, an appeals court in Dallas, Texas reversed a 2009 ruling in a same-sex divorce case arguing that since Texas had a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages and therefore does not recognise them, district courts in Texas don’t have the jurisdiction to hear same-sex divorce cases.

On 9 September, a judge for the United States District Court for the Central District of California ruled, in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America, that the US Defence Department policy of don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue violated both the First and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution. On 10 October, an anti-gay group in Belgrade, Serbia attempted to disrupt a Pride parade. Although the parade wasn’t prevented, the rioting caused serious damage to businesses and some city infrastructure. On 2 November, voters in El Paso, Texas passed a law which stripped health insurance from unmarried partners of city employees in an attempt to target the partners of homosexual city workers. On 22 December, President Barack Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t tell Repeal Act of 2010, which officially struck down the ban on openly gay serving members of the US military.

On 18 January 2011, a county court judge in Bristol, England ruled that the owners of a bed and breakfast in Cornwall violated the right of a homosexual couple when they were refused a room based on the owners’ Christian beliefs. On 28 January, the Constitutional Council of France ruled that the French definition of marriage as between one man and one woman does not violate the French constitution. On 1 February, the US State Department amends its passport applications to be non-gender specific.

On 21 March, a jail in Chicago began a new policy which allowed for the housing of prisoners based on their gender identity and not based on birth sex. On 26 April, the Charity Tribunal of the UK stated that Catholic Care adoption agency may not deny same-sex couple the right to adopt. In May, the Nepal census recognised a third identity. On 5 May, the Presbyterian Church of the US approved the ordination of homosexual clergy members in same-sex relationships. On 2 September, California passed Seth’s Law, which required primary and secondary schools in California to implement an anti-harassment and anti-dscimination policy for perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. On 8 October, the British Secretary of State for International Development outlined financial aid cuts to African countries that persecute homosexuals.

On 7 February 2012, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. A stay is issued. On 22 February, a US District Judge ruled that the Defence of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. On 29 February, Russia’s Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly passed an anti-LGBT rights bill, which included fines up to $17,000 USD. On 1 March, the High Court of Malaysia ruled that police have the constitutional right to ban gay arts festivals. On 12 April, Transport for London banned an advertising campaign proposed to run on the side of city busses which suggested that homosexuality can be cured by therapy. On 31 May the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States declared the Defence of Marriage Act unconstitutional. On election day 2012, US President Barack Obama is re-election, partially on his campaign promises from the 2008 on equal rights. Voters in Maine approve Question 1 which overturned same-sex marriage ban in the state, Maryland approved Question 6 which allowed for same-sex civil unions, Washington state approved Referendum 74 which legalised same-sex marriage, and Minnesota voters rejected Amendment 1 which would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

On June 19 2013, Exodus International, an organisation which proclaimed the ability to turn homosexuals strait, shut down. On 25 June, the Russian Parliament approved a ban on “gay propaganda” and education of homosexuality and homosexual rights to minors, and offending religious believers. The law included definitive jail time, based on offence. On 26 June, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in United States v. Windsor, that Section 3 of the Defence of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The ruling required the federal government to recognise any and all same-sex marriages performed within the United States. SCOTUS also dismissed Hollingsworth v. Perry, which was an appeal to validate the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in California. The two rulings combined laid the groundwork for the legislative cases that would come in the next two years, essentially invalidating state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. On 28 June, same-sex marriages became legal in California.

On 30 June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law the homosexual propaganda act. On 17 December, the Parliament of Uganda passed the Uganda Ant-homosexuality bill, which punished homosexual acts with life in prison. On 19 December the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the state must issue marriage licences regardless of gender. On 20 December, a US District Judge in Utah ruled, in Kitchen v. Herbert, that Utah’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional because it violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

On 13 January 2014, Nigeria passed a law making same-sex marriage, displays of same-sex relationships and belonging to a homosexual group illegal. The law included a prison term of 14 years for those in a same-sex marriage or civil union; and a 10 year prison term for those who register, operate or participate in homosexual clubs, societies and organisation, and those who directly or indirectly make public displays of affection toward a same-sex person. On 14 January the judicial trend of 2014 began when, in Bishop v. Oklahoma, a US District Court Judge ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. The decision was immediately stayed, and was appealed by the government of Oklahoma. On 27 January, North Cyprus repealed the criminal code provision that made sexual acts between adult men illegal.

On 1 August, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of Uganda was invalidated by the Constitutional Court because a quorum was not met. On 6 October, The US Supreme Court denied appeal requests from five states which sought to prohibit same-sex marriage. This action effectively legalised same-sex marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. By the end of 2014, marriage equality was the law of the land in 33 US states, and the US Supreme Court had agreed to hear a case which would involve the constitutionality of marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, although the Court’s ruling would create precedent for the remaining 14 states that prohibit same-sex marriages. The Court will hear the case in April 2015, a decision is expected in June.

As with all social progress, ambivalence cannot happen. Although the trend for equality has been established, and legislation and courts are making legal precedent in favour of equality, assuming that the trend will continue is dangerous. History shows that social movements, and acceptance of social movements, are a roller coaster. Perseverance until full equality is both legally and socially achieved is the only way to continue. All it takes, particularly in countries with strong moral and religious foundations, is one election, one ambivalently fought campaign season, and those rights could be taken away far easier than they were achieved. The second half of the second decade of the 3rd millennium C.E. should be a time where social acceptance of equality, a time where hatred of who you love falls into past consciousness, a story we tell our children and our children’s children, a time that history looks back on and grimaces. But for that to happen, the world has to stay vigilant. Hate breeds hate, but love breeds love. One day, in the not so distant future, there will be no closet doors because love in all forms will be accepted. But for that to happen, the world must remember the journey it took to get where it is today, and not become complacent. One day, when closet doors are gone forever, and no one feels persecuted because of love, the world will look back on this time and see the foolishness in the social atmosphere that evolved to create this journey. On that day, our children and our children’s children will understand the fight that resulted in society understanding that gender and identity and orientation do not matter. They will grow up in a world that only sees one thing: love is love.

Civil Unions/Domestic Partnership/Marriage:

2010: Portugal (marriage), Iceland (marriage), Ireland (limited civil union), Argentina (marriage), Tasmania (recognise marriages and registered unions performed outside jurisdiction)

2011: Illinois (civil unions), Hawaii (civil unions), Isle of Man (civil partnerships), Brazil (civil unions), Delaware (civil unions), Liechtenstein (registered partnerships), New York (marriage), Rhode Island (civil unions), UK island of Jersey (civil partnership), Colombia (marriage), Queensland Australia (civil partnerships), Brazil state of Alagoas (marriage)

2012: Washington (marriage), Maryland (marriage), Denmark (marriage), Brazil state of Sergipe (marriage), Brazil state of Espírito Santo (marriage), Brazil state of Bahia (marriage), Caribbean Netherlands (marriage), Maine (marriage), Brazilian Federal District (marriage), Brasil state of Piauí (marriage), Brazil state of São Paulo (marriage)

2013: Brazil state of Ceará (marriage), Colorado (civil unions), Germany (marriage). Uruguay (marriage), New Zealand (marriage), Brazil state of Rondonia (marriage), Brazil (marriage), Rhode Island (marriage), Delaware (marriage), Minnesota (marriage), France (marriage), California (marriage), England (marriage), Wales (marriage), Hawaii (marriage), Illinois (marriage, New Mexico (marriage)

2014: Scotland (marriage), Gibraltar (civil partnerships), Malta (civil unions), Oregon (marriage), Pennsylvania (marriage), Luxembourg (marriage), Mexican state of Coahuila (marriage), Virginia (marriage), Indiana (marriage), Wisconsin (marriage), Oklahoma (marriage), Utah (marriage), Colorado (marriage), Kansas (marriage), North Carolina (marriage), South Carolina (marriage), West Virginia (marriage), Wyoming (marriage), Estonia (cvil partnership), Alaska (marriage), Arizona (marriage), Montana (marriage), Finland (marriage), Estonia (civil unions)

[DISCLAIMER: yes, I know, I glossed over the court cases which forced marriage equality in about 20 US states… mostly because this post was already 2500 words and I didn’t want it to be ridiculous.]

[The Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution says that any power not specifically given to the Federal government in the Constitution and its amendments is reserved to the states. Since marriage isn’t specifically stated as something the Federal government can regulate, any law making a definition of marriage is therefore unconstitutional.]

[Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment says that all legal rights owed to a person must be respected. In this case, the Justice argued that refusing to recognise and defining marriage at the federal level violated Gill’s legal rights.]


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