Oral arguments began Dec. 22 in San Francisco regarding a pair of lawsuits seeking to have California's one-man, one-woman marriage law declared unconstitutional. The Associated Press reported that the consolidated cases were brought by the city of San Francisco and by gay advocacy groups representing a dozen gay and lesbian couples. They were the result of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision last winter to defy state law by granting marriage licenses to gays and lesbians. The California Supreme Court ordered San Francisco officials to stop sanctioning the marriages. However, it also invited the city to request a judicial review of Newsom's claim that the state's ban on gay matrimony violated the civil rights of his same-sex constituents.
In Georgia, a mother who said her children were taken away from her because she is gay has regained custody after a state appeals court reversed a previous order by a juvenile court judge, the Associated Press reported. In a unanimous opinion, the appeals court panel wrote that although the judge listed Amber Crosby's 'lifestyle' as a reason why she was an unfit mother, he had no evidence that was true. Judge Herbert Kernaghan Jr. had signed an order Feb. 5 to remove Crosby's two children, ages 4 and 6, from her custody. Crosby's grandparents were granted custody of one child, while the other went to the child's biological father.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested in a German newspaper interview that the Republican Party should move 'a little to the left,' a shift that he said would allow it to pick up new voters, according to 365Gay.com . Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has taken an unorthodox approach since winning office last year—standing by a promise to be fiscally conservative while being socially liberal on issues such as gay rights and the environment. In an interview with Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, Schwarzenegger said that 'the Republican Party currently covers only the spectrum from the right wing to the middle, and the Democratic Party covers the spectrum from the left to the middle.'
Utah governor-elect Jon Huntsman Jr. first suggested legislation to grant rights to unmarried, cohabiting adults in the heat of an election-year debate about gay rights and the state's marriage amendment. Now, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, a bill is being drafted that would put some of Huntsman's ideas into place—a bill that the governor's chief of staff is carefully describing as an effort to preserve 'human dignity.'
In a groundbreaking move in Delaware, the borough of Lansdowne became the first municipality in Delaware County to offer domestic-partnership benefits to unmarried employees in long-term relationships and to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to The Delaware County Daily Times.
In Idaho, efforts to pass a state constitutional amendment banning marriage may fall short, according to an Associated Press report. An Idaho Falls-based newspaper called the Post Register has identified 12 state senators who at least partly oppose the amendment—enough to kill the effort.
There is now a project taking place in several major cities to take rapid HIV testing to the streets, according to The New York Times. The eight-month-old experiment is under way in cities such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Detroit; the tests are administered in gay bars, teenagers' clinics, homeless shelters, and drug-treatment centers. The test is the OraQuick Rapid HIV-1 Antibody test, a pinprick blood test that shortens the wait for the results of a test from two weeks to 20 minutes.
The International Network of Lesbian & Gay Officials ( INLGO ) announced that it is merging with the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute, the non-profit arm of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute, the Washington Blade reported.
Los Angeles-based Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing has received a $1 million gift from the Annenberg Foundation to support the building of Encore Hall, RainbowNetwork.com reported. Encore Hall is the nation's first non-profit, affordable housing development that includes a community service center supporting the needs of LGBT older adults. The gift will be used to fund construction of the $18.6 million 104-unit building, which is designed to house individuals of mixed incomes under an affordable housing model, with 30 percent of the units set aside for people who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, or living with HIV/AIDS.
Workforce policies are gradually putting sexual orientation on the same level with other dimensions of diversity, such as race, Workforce Management Online reported. Some companies embrace gay training because of philosophical beliefs in equality while others see it as a way to foster teamwork, enhance productivity, or attract gay consumers. For example, Whirlpool, the top U.S. home appliance manufacturer, ensures that employees understand the buying power of gay consumers by devoting a training module to the business case for diversity.