Despite the sad news that lesbian and gay faculty at the University of Wisconsin may be forced to quit their jobs since the recent passage of the ban against same-sex marriage and civil unions will leaving many partners without medical insurance, and the unfortunate fact that same-sex marriage laws in Massachusetts are becoming the focal point for conservative anti-gay rallies, sometimes it's worth looking for that silver lining. And today the planet provided a little more sparkle than most.
This week the Associated Press reported that for the first time since the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples get the same rights as married couples, one newborn's birth certificate will show that legally she really does have two mommies. Until recently only the biological mother of a lesbian couple was listed on the baby's birth certificate. Still, the New Jersey ruling still leaves many questions as to how it will be implemented. Among the concerns: Will the ruling will be retroactive for families with babies born before the Oct. 25?
Across the globe in South Africa, a country once synonymous with discrimination and inequality, parliament voted this week to become to first African country to allow same-sex marriages. In fact, the progressive bill is a direct legacy of apartheid in the sense that the writers of the country's post-apartheid constitution went to great lengths to ban all possible forms of discrimination. The rainbow ruling will no doubt attract some storm clouds, and in the wake of the announcement most of the media centered on the flood of criticisms from prominent politicians to ordinary folk calling the decision "unacceptable," and "a disgrace to the nation and to God" but that isn't stopping Lindiwe Radebe, 25, and her partner Bathini Dambuza, 22, from gushing about their impending nuptials.
And finally, the Seattle Times brought us heartening numbers from a queer nation. A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA used census data to find the cities with the highest percentages of gay households, and found that the total number of gay households increased by 30 percent between 2000 and 2005. This is a happy development not because (as some haters fear) liberal society is a breeding ground for sexual deviance, but because gay households are increasingly comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation. The fact that so many more gay people are speaking up and being counted has potentially powerful political implications. As senior researcher Gary Gates told the Seattle Times, "Basically, we're looking at the size of America's closet" -- a room that may shrink with the next census.