HAWAII

Civil unions promise
Voters in a state election in Hawaii have elected a pro-gay Democratic Governor while rejecting “family values” candidates, paving the way for the group of islands to become the sixth American state to recognise same-sex relationships short of marriage.

Governor Neil Abercrombie has promised to pass a civil unions bill if it can pass the legislature where Democrats maintain majorities in both houses.
A similar bill had been vetoed by his Republican predecessor.

USA

Defence of Marriage Act challenge

With the Obama administration having lost control of the Congress, the fight to defeat the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans the US Federal Government from recognising same-sex marriages, is heading to the courts.

81-year-old New York resident Edie Windsor is suing the Federal Government in the US District Federal Court for refusing to recognise her 40-year relationship with partner Thea Spyer, which culminated with the couple marrying in Canada in 2007.

Same-sex marriages conducted in foreign jurisdictions are recognised by New York even though it does not yet perform same-sex marriages itself.

When Spyer passed away from complications from a heart condition and multiple sclerosis in 2009, Windsor was asked to pay over $350,000 in estate taxes by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which she would not have been charged had she been in a heterosexual marriage.

The IRS cited the Defence of Marriage Act in denying Windsor’s claim for a refund.

Windsor’s relationship with Spyer was the subject of the documentary Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.

Meanwhile, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAB) is mounting another case on behalf of eleven people denied benefits under DOMA in a Connecticut Federal Court.

UGANDA

Gay porn preacher dropped

An American megachurch has pulled financial support from the ministry of Martin Ssempa, the Ugandan pastor who showed hardcore gay pornography to public meetings to raise support for the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

On October 25 the Las Vegas based Canyon Ridge Christian Church announced it could no longer support Ssempa.

“While we have come to understand that Pastor Ssempa advocates for an amended version of the Anti-Homosexuality bill that removes the death penalty and reduces other severe penalties, he still supports passage of this bill,” the statement read.

“We … do not support him in this effort.

“We are in the process of determining how we can redirect our support in Uganda to activities specifically related to addressing HIV/AIDS issues.”

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