WASHINGTON — The government says it will begin extending immigration benefits to gay married couples in light of the Supreme Court’s decision striking down key portions of a federal gay marriage law. That means that U.S. citizens or permanent residents with foreign spouses would be able to sponsor their partners for U.S. residency, like straight married Americans can. Read More Here.
HANOI ― June 21, 2013: International human rights advocates rarely give communist authorities here a thumbs up. Vietnamese bloggers, folk singers and journalists are behind bars for deeds and words that in many countries are considered birthright freedoms. Yet in one respect, Vietnam's powers-that-be seem open-minded. As the U.S. Supreme Court ponders the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, Vietnam's National Assembly delegates have agreed to debate the same moral and legal question, raising the possibility that Vietnam could become the first Asian country to sanction such unions. "I'm optimistic," says activist Tran Khac Tung during a recent "LGBT" political workshop. The English acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender has become shorthand here for a cause that has swiftly moved from a taboo to a popular topic of political discourse. In a culture with folklore that exalts the plodding perseverance of the turtle, the advance has been swift . A process that required decades of struggle in the West has been compressed into a few years here. Only recently have Vietnam's gays and lesbians stepped from their shells in such numbers large enough to be considered a movement. Last summer, Hanoi hosted Vietnam's first gay pride parade that, unlike other unsanctioned demonstrations here, did not result in any arrests. Things were much different only six years ago, when Le Quang Binh left the international non-profit Oxfam to founded iSEE, a Hanoi-based research and social justice advocacy group. There was scant data regarding gays and lesbians homosexuality in Vietnam. The LGBT community, such as it was, could most readily be found in a variety of online forums that attracted tens of thousands of participants, the vast majority of whom used pseudonyms. When Binh reached out to the Ho Chi Minh City-based webmasters of these forums, some suspected he might be a government agent. Achieving a sense of trust, the scattered constituency agreed to collaborate and promote openness and equal rights. At an early strategy session, activists targeted 2020 as the year Vietnam would legalize same-sex marriage. Could they beat their goal by seven years? "Ask the prime minister," Binh says, laughing. … There is less cynicism now. "I've seen there's change," Binh says. "They understand that human rights is human rights. It's the right thing to do." And as one box gets checked off, they could move on to others. "We always push for more freedom, more justice, more equality," Binh says. "We test the waters." Read More Here.