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by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Lesbian San Diego councilwoman marries
Out Lesbian San Diego City Councilwoman Toni Atkins and her partner of eight years, Jennifer LeSar, got married September 6 at the Lodge at Torrey Pines along the coast on the city's north side.

A May ruling by the California Supreme Court legalized marriage for same-sex couples.

"It felt wonderful!" Atkins said in a September 11 interview. "I feel completely different as a couple now. I wasn't sure if we'd feel different afterwards as a married couple, after having been together for about eight years, although we didn't live together until this year. But we both agree that it feels different. It feels more real, I guess I have to say.

"I felt my commitment was real before but somehow this feels 'even more so,' if that makes sense."

Atkins said "people cried, particularly Jennifer's mother."

"She was very happy for us."

The ceremony, attended by "just a handful of very close friends," was conducted by City Council President Scott Peters.

The couple said the timing of their wedding was affected by the looming threat to same-sex marriage in California.

On November 4, voters will have a chance to amend the state constitution to undo the Supreme Court ruling and possibly prevent same-sex couples from marrying in the future, though gay activist lawyers are ready with an array of tactics to thwart the amendment's coming into force should voters pass it.

Three recent polls have found that between 51 percent and 54 percent of California voters oppose the amendment and between 40 percent and 42 percent support it.

Court: Florida's Gay adoption ban unconstitutional
Florida's Gay-adoption ban is unconstitutional, Monroe County Circuit Court Judge David J. Audlin Jr. ruled September 9.

The law illegally singles out homosexuals for punishment, Audlin determined, according to the Miami Herald. It also violates the state constitution's separation of powers by preventing family court and child welfare judges from determining what is in a child's best interest.

"The Gay adoption ban operates as a conclusive or irrebuttable presumption that ... it is never in the best interest of any adoptee to be adopted by a homosexual," Audlin wrote.

The ruling came in the case of a Key West man who has raised a 13-year-old boy as a foster parent since 2001.

The Herald said Audlin's ruling is unlikely to function as legal precedent if it is not appealed, given that the adoption ban previously has been upheld by state and federal appeals courts.

Equality California says it's passed 50 pro-Gay bills
California's statewide Gay lobby group, Equality California, said September 8 it now has passed 50 pro-Gay bills through the state Legislature.

"Partnering with the LGBT Legislative Caucus and allied lawmakers, EQCA has helped move California from a state with extremely limited rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people, to the state with the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation," the group said.

The 50-bill milestone was reached when all five EQCA-sponsored bills in the current legislative session passed both houses of the Legislature.

The measures, including a bill establishing a day honoring the late Gay activist Harvey Milk and legislation protecting seniors, foster youth and same-sex couples, are headed to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk.

"It's easy to forget how far we've come in just 10 short years," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "A decade ago, LGBT people were not protected under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act. Transgender people could be denied routine health care by their insurance providers, and same-sex partners were legal strangers."

EQCA helped create the country's first domestic-partner registry, protect LGBT youth in schools and ensure that Transgender Californians can secure employment. The group also helped make history in 2005 and 2007 when the California Legislature passed bills granting same-sex couples access to marriage, the only two times any state legislature has done so.

Schwarzenegger vetoed those bills but in May of this year the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, and weddings began taking place June 16.

"When I first came to Sacramento as an assemblymember in 1994, California literally had no legal protections for LGBT people," said Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica. "We've completely turned that around. ... California now has the best, most comprehensive laws in place to protect LGBT people in every aspect of their lives."

"A decade ago, few people could imagine a California where same-sex couples would be able to marry," said Assemblymember Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, author of the marriage-equality bills. "Equality California's strategic and tireless legislative work not only paved the way for this incredible victory in California, but it has also had a transformative effect on the rest of the country, giving hope to millions that the seemingly impossible can be done."

Obama answers written questions from Washington Blade
Barack Obama answered several written questions from the Gay newspaper Washington Blade on September 10.

"Michelle and I have been blessed with many openly Gay and Lesbian friends and colleagues whom we have been close to for many years," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "While that fact has made the issues facing the LGBT community more personal, the fundamental reasons I have for supporting equality are greater than any individual. ... We need to end the divisive politics of George W. Bush and pursue policies that treat all of us, regardless of identity or background, with dignity, equality and respect."

In response to another question, Obama said: "A college professor of mine helped me to see the lives of LGBT people from a different perspective. He was the first openly Gay professor that I had ever come in contact with, or openly Gay person of authority that I had come in contact with. And he was just a terrific guy. His comfort in his own skin and the friendship we developed helped to educate me on a number of these issues."

And Obama vowed, "If elected, I would call on Congress to enact legislation that would repeal DOMA and ensure that the over 1,100 federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally recognized unions."

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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