US Treasury will recognize ALL same-sex marriages

Two thousand thirteen has been a very big year for marriage equality. A very big year, indeed!

While still basking in the afterglow of the recent news of Supreme Court victories for California (where marriage equality was restored) and at the federal level (where section 3 of DOMA was found unconstitutional), the LGBTQ community received news today of one more milestone to celebrate.

Today, the Treasury Department announced that all same-sex couples who are legally married will have access to all federal tax programs, including income tax, gift and estate taxes, deductions, exemptions, retirement accounts, and child tax credit.

Read more via GayWeddings.com!

HRC: Landslide Victory for LGBT Equality Up and Down the Ballot

From marriage campaigns to reelecting President Obama and other priorities, LGBT Americans were the big winners on election night

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization, reacted to the overwhelming electoral victories for LGBT people, calling it a milestone year with a clear mandate for equality moving forward. For the past two years, HRC has been laying the groundwork for its largest mobilization effort ever to ensure 2012 is a turning point year for LGBT equality. HRC and its energetic supporters have raised and contributed more than $20 million to reelect President Obama and to advance marriage equality and other electoral priorities this cycle. On marriage equality, HRC invested $8.4 million this cycle to include $5.5 million in the four marriage ballot measure states.

When the history books are written, 2012 will be remembered as the year when LGBT Americans won decisively at the ballot box. The dreams of millions of fair-minded Americans were realized as discrimination crumbled and equality prevailed. – Chad Griffin

HRC President Chad Griffin released the following statements:

Marriage Wins at Ballot Box for First Time in Maryland, Maine & Washington State

“For the first time, voters (in three states) voted to allow loving couples to make lifelong commitments through marriage – forever taking away the right-wing talking point that marriage equality couldn’t win on the ballot….The momentum for marriage equality has never been stronger, and with poll after poll showing a growing majority of support, we have a renewed certainty that we will win this fight.”

Minnesotans Stand Up Against Marriage Discrimination; Reject Divisive Amendment

“Minnesota is a prime example that we are experiencing a sea change in how Americans view their LGBT neighbors.  With 30 states having voted to write discrimination into their constitutions, Minnesotans stood up and said, ‘not us,’ and more are sure to follow their lead. No amount of lies and deception funded by deep-pocketed donors could convince Minnesotans that loving and committed couples should be excluded from marriage.”

Pro-Marriage Equality President Wins Reelection

“As millions of Americans celebrate President Obama’s reelection, the LGBT community is particularly elated to return the most pro-equality President ever to a second term. There is no doubt that we will continue to see tremendous strides forward like we’ve made during his first four years with our Ally-in-Chief back in office. While some pundits predicted the President’s support for marriage equality would hinder his campaign, we know the opposite is true. His historic and heartfelt declaration that all loving and committed couples should be able to marry further motivated millions of voters and sparked conversations that led to wins for marriage at the ballot box. His win is further proof of the marriage equality movement’s momentum.”

First Openly Gay Senator

“Another milestone was celebrated as Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin has again earned her spot in the history books. As the first openly gay person elected to the United States Senate, she is a role model for LGBT youth and all young women across the country. With a relentless focus on the issues that matter most to Wisconsin voters – economic security, access to healthcare, and fairness and inclusion for all – Senator-elect Baldwin earned the respect of all her constituents, gay and straight.”

Pickup of Fair-Minded and Openly LGB Members of Congress

“For LGBT youth who aspire to public service, we have shattered a glass by sending Tammy Baldwin to the Senate and increasing the number openly LGB members of Congress. In the Senate we have at least three new marriage equality supporters who proudly declared their support for marriage for gay and lesbian couples on the campaign trail.”

Voters Retain Iowa Justice Who Decided for Marriage

“Iowans have made a strong statement for judicial independence and refused to let politics get in the way of judges doing their duty to uphold the law. Anti-gay groups trying to exact political retribution on judges should learn their lesson. Marriage equality remains the law of the land in Iowa and judges like Justice Wiggins will continue to do their jobs.”

LGBT Voters Flex Political Muscle, Break for President

“Our community has flexed our political muscle with exit polls showing an increase from 4 percent of the vote in 2008 to 5 percent this year. And the President gained many more supporters among lesbian, gay and bisexual voters – jumping seven points to garner 77% of our vote.”

Moving Forward

“Tonight we celebrate, but tomorrow morning we get up and get back to work so that the victories we hail tonight are felt everywhere across this great country. Too many people are denied the ability to marry. Too many people go to their jobs without workplace protections. Too many young people go to bed at night and stare at the ceiling, sleeplessly wondering what awaits them the next day at school or at church or in their own home. Thanks to all the hard work in achieving tonight’s victories, we finally have momentum on our side and we will not rest until the promise of equal justice under the law is realized for every single person living in every single corner of this vast country.”

The Human Rights Campaign is the author of this press release and is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Episcopal Church Approves New Rites for Same-Sex Unions, Passes Transgender Inclusive Policies in Ordination and Church Life, and Supports Equal Immigration Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, applauds the Episcopal Church for approving a new liturgy for blessing same-sex unions, two proposals adding gender identity and expression to the Church’s nondiscrimination canons for ordained ministry and in the “life, worship, and governance of the Church,” and a resolution supporting legislation for equal immigration rights for same-sex couples. The votes took place at the denomination’s General Convention in Indianapolis. While the passage signifies a step in the right direction, the Canons of the Church still use the definition of “marriage” as between a man and a woman.

“This is a great day for the Episcopal Church and people of faith everywhere. The Church reaffirmed to LGBT Episcopalians they are also God’s children and they deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.” — Rev. MacArthur Flournoy, deputy director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program

These votes were a long time in the making. Since the 1960s, many clergy have provided private blessings to gay and lesbian couples, but the Church had no official practice. Following the 2009 General Convention, the Church said bishops may provide “generous pastoral response” to gay couples, especially in states that allow civil unions or gay marriages. The Church has been relatively silent on issues related to transgender clergy until this weekend.

“The Episcopal Church one of a growing number of denominations to see a new day in the intersection of faith and sexual orientation and gender identity. This is not only good for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people but it is good for the soul of the church,” added Rev. Flournoy.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Turning Point for Marriage Equality: Federal Appeals Court Declines to Rehear Historic Prop 8 Decision

Opponents of Equality May Now Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON – In an announcement that could either lead to a return to marriage equality in California or a historic case before the U.S. Supreme Court, today the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to review a February decision of that court ruling that California’s constitutional amendment stripping loving, committed gay and lesbian couples of marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.  With today’s announcement, the proponents of Prop 8 are now likely to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit is likely to continue the stay of its decision until that process is complete.  In the event that the Supreme Court decides not to hear the case, the lower court ruling would stand and gay and lesbian couples would again be able to marry in California.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese released the following statement in response on the day of this historic announcement:

“Once again, a federal court has affirmed that the cherished guarantees of our Constitution are there to protect all Americans – including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  For over three years, the plaintiffs, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies have shown tremendous fortitude and perseverance in their fight for marriage equality.  With today’s announcement, we are one step closer to ensuring that gay and lesbian Californians – and, one day, our entire community nationwide – are able to join the institution of marriage and have their love and commitment respected equally.

“Today’s announcement is another significant step on a path that we all know leads to equality.  While the U.S. Supreme Court may ultimately decide the outcome of this case, we must all continue to walk that path – in this case and other courtrooms, in legislatures, at ballot boxes and at kitchen table – until all LGBT people are fully and equally part of the American community.”

In response to a 2008 decision by the California Supreme Court ending marriage discrimination in the state, anti-equality forces succeeded in placing a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Despite over 18,000 same-sex couples having married, California voters adopted the amendment, known as Proposition 8. After the California Supreme Court determined in 2009 that the adoption of Prop 8 did not itself violate the California Constitution, two plaintiff couples — Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo – filed suit against the State of California in federal court, represented by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies and supported by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, an organization co-founded by incoming HRC President Chad Griffin  The proponents of Prop 8 intervened in the case to defend the constitutionality of the amendment.

Judge Vaughn Walker, then-chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, held a historic trial in January 2010, in which the plaintiffs presented substantial testimony and evidence to show that Prop 8’s only purpose is to discriminate against same-sex couples.  In August 2010, in a historic decision, he concluded Prop 8 is unconstitutional.  That ruling was appealed to a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed Walker’s conclusion that Prop 8 in unconstitutional in February 2012, but stayed its decision as the proponents sought a rehearing.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.