DOMA  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.

CIVIL UNIONS PUSH
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.

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.”

CIVIL UNION PUSH
POLAND: GLBT rights groups in Poland have begun a campaign to push for the introduction of civil partnerships in the central European state. Poland is one of only a handful of EU members that provides no legal recognition of same-sex relationships and the “Love Doesn’t Exclude” hopes to change public opinion through an internet and billboard campaign.

JAIL & LASHES
SAUDI ARABIA: A 27 year old Saudi Arabian man has been sentenced to five years jail and fined $14,000 for “indulg[ing] in obscene acts that contravene Islamic teachings” while in prison for impersonating a security officer. The man, who will also receive 500 lashes, was convicted of practicing homosexuality after being arrested by the kingdom’s religious police.

RIOTERS UNPUNISHED
SERBIA: One month on, none of 140 men arrested for taking part in riots against Belgrade’s 2010 Pride march have faced court or been convicted. The rioters injured 100 people and caused $1.5 million in property damage. In reaction to the riot by far right groups and soccer fans, Serbian lawmakers extended the period that rioters could be held without trial from 8 to 30 days.

PARENTING STUDY
USA: The University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Williams Institute has released data showing that children in Lesbian headed households suffer parental abuse at far lower rates than kids in other kinds of households. None of the 78 seventeen-year-olds surveyed by the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study reported ever being sexually or physically assaulted- a rate of zero percent within that sample.

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