aroundtheregion

Wisconsin
A couple that sued Wisconsin for the right to marry are asking a judge to allow both of their names on their children’s birth certificate, the Associated Press reports:

Karina Willes and Kami Young were among a group of same-sex couples who persuaded U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to legalize gay marriage last year. They filed a motion with Crabb on Monday asking her to order records officials to place both gay parents’ names on their children’s birth certificates.
They say they’ve tried unsuccessfully to persuade the state’s Vital Records Office to amend their daughter’s birth certificate to include both their names, and Crabb needs to clarify that the presumption of parenthood applies to both heterosexual and homosexual married couples.

Milwaukee Business News notes that an Indiana-style “religious freedom” law may be coming to Wisconsin:

It’s probably just a matter of time before a bill similar to Indiana’s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act is proposed for the Wisconsin legislative pipeline.
Wisconsin may be on the clock. AshLee Strong, press secretary for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Our American Revival, said, “As a matter of principle, Governor Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience.”

Walker, a presumptive presidential candidate, is the son of a Baptist minister.

Spokeswomen for Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said a similar religious freedom bill has not yet been proposed in Wisconsin this year.

Kit Beyer, spokeswoman for Fitzgerald, noted that the Wisconsin Constitution already contains a strong freedom of religion clause.

However, with Republicans controlling both legislative chambers, the governor’s mansion and the state Supreme Court, many Capitol insiders presume it will be just a matter of time in Madison, following other Tea Party mandates such as voter I.D., same-sex marriage bans and right-to-work laws.

“In some respects I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already,” said Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin. “We would oppose it. This goes too far and would be used to discriminate against people in the public sphere.”

Iowa
A Des Moines Catholic school is allowing a gay-straight alliance to meet, the Telegraph Herald reports:

The approval came a little more than two weeks after school officials drew criticism for opting to not hire a substitute teacher full time after learning the teacher was gay.
Dowling President Jerry Deegan sent a letter to parents on Friday saying the club will support students who might identify with same-sex attraction or have questions about it.
“Pope Francis has challenged us to be sensitive and provide a caring, compassionate, respectful environment for all of our students on their faith journey,” Deegan said in the letter.
Student organizers said One Human Family will be a safe place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, as well as their straight friends, to ask questions and get support for everything from homework to personal problems.
“I’m sure we’re going to get some backlash, but it’s a big step forward for students at Dowling and in the community in general,” said Liam Jameson, a junior who started a petition that garnered 1,700 signatures in support of the club.

A presentation in Dubuque will focus on LGBT rights, the Telegraph Herald notes:

Keenan Crow will present “Court is in session: Why courts matter for LGBT rights” at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in Room 106A at NICC Town Clock Center, 680 Main St. Crow is outreach coordinator for One Iowa, which calls itself the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization working toward full equality for LGBT individuals.
“The state and federal courts play a pivotal role in the lives of gay and transgender Americans, often serving as the last resort in protecting LGBT rights,” according to a press release. “Who sits on these courts matters, and current vacancies must be filled with judges who understand that the Constitution provides LGBT Americans the same freedoms as everyone else.”
The event is open to the public. It is sponsored by One Iowa, Dubuque PFLAG and City of Dubuque Human Rights Commission.

The Log Cabin Republicans have opened a new chapter in Iowa, the group said in a press release:

“Momentum continues to build for our grassroots network as we catapult toward 2016,” Log Cabin Republicans National Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo stated. “With the resurgence of our organization in the all-important caucus state of Iowa as well as continued growth in the pivotal state of Florida, Log Cabin Republicans has laid the groundwork to play an influential role in the upcoming election cycle.”
“As Republicans who believe in equality under the law for all, free markets, individual liberty, limited government, and a strong national defense, I am excited to bring together all Iowa LGBT Republicans to make a more welcoming party that builds a strong Iowa and an even stronger country,” Log Cabin Republicans of Iowa Chapter Leader Richard Dedor said. “We are getting started now to help mobilize and begin the important conversations that will happen in Iowa over the next 18 months.”
“As a longtime LCR Chapter Leader in New York, I’m excited to grow Log Cabin Republicans in the Sunshine State,” Log Cabin Republicans of Central Florida Chapter Leader Gerard Gershonowitz said. “We’re looking forward to building relationships and moving ahead so that every Floridian is treated equally.”

Rep. Steve King, a Republican who represents the western part of the state, introduced a bill that would ban federal judges from overturning state bans on same-sex marriage, the Des Moines Register reports:

King has titled the legislation the “Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015.” He says it would leave the issue of same-sex marriages to the states, where he believes the issue belongs.
“For too long, federal courts have overstepped their constitutionally limited duty to interpret the Constitution,” King said in a statement. “Rather, federal courts have perverted the Constitution to make law and create constitutional rights to things such as privacy, birth control and abortion. These unenumerated, so-called constitutionally protected rights were not envisioned by our Founding Fathers.”

Rep. Jared Polis, a gay democrat from Colorado, filed a fictional bill poking fun at King’s bill, Raw Story reports:

Rep. Jared Polis released a statement announcing what he called the “Restrain Steve King from Legislating Act,” a direct response to King’s bill that would bar federal judges from having jurisdiction over any cases involving marriage.

“For too long, Steve King has overstepped his constitutionally nonexistent judicial authority,” Polis said in his statement. “Mr. King has perverted the Constitution to create rights to things such as discrimination, bullying, and disparate treatment. These efforts to enshrine these appalling values as constitutional rights were not envisioned by the voters, or by King’s colleagues who must currently try to restrain his attempts to single-handedly rewrite the nation’s founding principles on a bill-by-bill basis.”

Polis, who is gay, said that the fictional bill “would preserve the right of millions of voters in all 50 states who would prefer that Steve King refrain from legislating a role for himself in their marriage decisions.”

Republican presidential hopefuls were in Iowa last week courting the religious right. The Family Leader, an anti-LGBT group, hosted a forum, the New York Times reports:

Nine declared and prospective 2016 candidates appeared in a church for a forum sponsored by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, drawing together more than 1,000 people in a state where social conservatives hold significant sway in the state’s leadoff presidential caucuses.

The forum gave candidates an opportunity to show off their conservative bona fides, with speeches on religious freedom and social issues that repeatedly brought the crowd to its feet.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida who is running for the GOP nomination for president, recently said he would attend a gay wedding of a family member or close friend if invited. That has prompted reactions from religious right activists in Iowa, the Business Insider reports:

Rubio risks alienating people like Bob Vander Plaats, the head of The Family Leader in Iowa, whose endorsement is coveted by many Republican presidential hopefuls each election cycle.
“There’s a lot to like about Marco Rubio,” Vander Plaats told Reuters.
Vander Plaats said he wanted to hear specific strategies from the Republican candidates on how to fight gay marriage. Any attempts to straddle the issue would be a problem for him, he added.
While calling attendance at a gay wedding a personal decision, “I probably wouldn’t be going” to a same-sex ceremony, he said. “That shows me endorsing and supporting something that I frankly really disagree with.”
Rubio, a Roman Catholic who often talks about his faith, has long defined marriage as between a man and a woman and said that it should be left to the states to regulate marriage. Asked whether his comments over the past week represented a softening in his views, a Rubio spokeswoman, Brooke Sammon, said his position was “clear and well-established.”
The Log Cabin Republicans’ Angelo said, however, that Rubio was “not as adamantly opposed to all things LGBT as some of his statements suggest.” The staff meetings did not include Rubio, he said.

Rubio spoke with Pat Robertson’s CBN in Des Moines:

David Brody, “Marriage in the Supreme Court, a big case coming this week to be argued. Where are you on this whole idea of a constitutional right that many people think…”

Marco Rubio, “ It doesn’t exist. There is no federal constitutional right to same sex marriage. There isn’t such a right. You have to have a ridiculous reading of the U.S. constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex. There is no such constitutional right. Can a state decide to change their laws? Yes, but only through the political process…”

Marco Rubio: “They (advocates of same sex marriage) want to stigmatize, they want to ostracize anyone who disagrees with them as haters. It’s very simple. This is not a policy against anyone. I believe, as do a significant percentage of Americans, that the institution of marriage, an institution that existed before government, that existed before laws, that institution should remain in our laws recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that Christians need to “fall on our knees and pray” against marriage equality, Fox News reports:

Sen. Ted Cruz and other GOP declared and prospective 2016 candidates wooed evangelical Christians in Iowa with remarks that emphasized religious freedom and opposition to gay marriage.
The Texas senator noted that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in four states’ same-sex marriage cases this week and said that between not and then, conservatives must “fall to our knees and pray.”
“We need leaders who will stand unapologetically in defense of marriage and life,” Cruz said in his remarks that drew a huge applause.

North Dakota
A gay Fargo teen has transfered schools after bullying, the Forum of Fargo Moorhead reports:

Former West Fargo high schooler is fighting back against bullying after his own experience drove him to start over at a new school.Fargo South sophomore Gunnar Lundblad is gay and says transferring there from Sheyenne is the best decision of his life.
“I didn’t feel like going to school at all,” Lundblad said. “It was terrifying.”
Before his sophomore year at South, it was a full year of verbal and physical harassment at Sheyenne High, Lundblad said.
“‘Why are you even in our school? You don’t even belong here,'” Lundblad said.
He says he faced students there who didn’t like diversity.
“They’d bully people because your hair is a different color or you don’t dress like everyone else. It’s basically they’re targeting exactly at a certain group,” Lundblad said.

Two couples from North Dakota are headed to Washington, DC, for the Supreme Court hearing on marriage equality, the Forum reports:

Celeste and Amber Carlson-Allebach, and Bernie Erickson and David Hamilton are headed to Washington, D.C. for one of the largest U.S. Supreme Court cases in decades: Same-sex marriage.

“We think it’s really important to be there when history is being made,” Hamilton said.

“To be part of that is really pretty amazing,” Celeste Carlson-Allebach said.

A church group held a prayer protest in support for the right to marry in Fargo, WDAZ reports:

Grace Murray/Plymouth Congregational Church, “It means that this is an important issue that people want their relationships recognized, want to be able to be with the person that they love in all the areas of life.”

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