Thursday, April 10, 2008

Specific discussion of siting policy

Currently there are two siting policies on the table. Which one should be adopted? Or are there other alternatives that would be better?

APSA Proposal

Responding to Restrictive Legislation. Restrictive state legislation creates a presumption of a relatively unwelcoming climate for same-sex partners attending APSA meetings, though the wide variety of local circumstances does not guarantee this will be the case in each locality in those states. Consequently, it is proposed that APSA adopt a special multi-stage policy in response to this issue.

(1) In locating its meetings, APSA would presume that a city in a state whose legislation restricts local jurisdiction’s rights to recognize same-sex partnerships is an unwelcoming environment for our members. APSA would notify the CVB’s and conference hotels in cities that otherwise meet our annual meeting criteria in these states of our position that their state legal environment does not appear to create a welcoming environment for our members. We will assure these localities that if the state restrictions change, APSA would welcome proposals to site our meetings there.

(2) APSA also recognizes that on a case by case basis there may be cities within these states that warrant an exception to our presumptive policy, because of demonstrated positive local practices or other Association goals. Examples of evidence of positive local practice could one or more items such as the following:

a) adoption of anti-discrimination legislation for its employees;

b) presence of equal opportunity legislation;

c) opinions of and invitations to APSA of local civil rights and LGBT advocacy organizations;

d) recognition of medical power of attorney from city and local hospitals;

e) experience of other associations or groups meeting in this locality; or

f) other evidence of the local climate in respecting same-sex relationships.

Additionally, APSA may consider other information in a decision to accept the locality as a meeting site. Examples of such other information might include regional accessibility, advice and invitations from local political science departments, or contractual responsibilities.

(3) An exception to the restrictive state policy would be handled in the following way:

a) a proposal to meet in a city in one of the restrictive states would be coordinated by the Annual Meeting Committee on the instruction of the Administrative Committee. The Annual Meeting Committee would consult widely and work with APSA staff on relevant information gathering;

b) the annual meeting review committee recommendation and background information would be given tentative review by the APSA Council who could either reject the site or seek member comment;

c) if sent forward, the proposal would be circulated for member comment for a period of at least one month; and

d) the Council would make a final decision about the site.

Policy in Non-restrictive States. In the remaining, non-restrictive, states, while not presuming there is an unwelcoming climate regarding this issue, APSA would still follow a practice of reviewing each site in light of the city’s anti-discrimination record, as our hotel contract language calls for.

APSA would also review the legislative record of states annually to see whether revisions are needed to the list of restrictive states, and would publicly state its position on the difficulty of holding its meeting in states with such restrictions.

Brown and Hirsch Bright Line Policy

The APSA will not hold conferences in any state which, by law, severely restricts the recognition of domestic relationships legally recognized in other jurisdictions.*

*Our intent is to prevent the Association from meeting in those states (19) which fall into the category of "most dangerous," as classified by Lambda Legal Defense.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

General discussion of the NOLA question

What should happen next? Again, please debate vigorously, but please be respectful.

Brief and unofficial list of siting controversies over time

  • Segregation: The Southern Political Science Association for many years restricted itself to the two locations with hotels that would allow unsegregated meetings
  • ERA: APSA pulled out of a meeting scheduled in Chicago because the state of Illinois had refused to pass the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday: APSA officially adopted a policy not to meet in states that did not have an MLK Day holiday
  • Anti-sodomy laws: activists tried but failed to persuade the national leadership to adopt a policy refusing to site in locations that maintained anti-sodomy laws targeting lesbians and gay men
  • Same-sex marriage: in 2004, the LGBT status committee opened discussions with the APSA leadership about not siting annual meetings in states that had banned same-sex marriage

Louisiana's Constitutional Amendment

Marriage in the state of Louisiana shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall construe this constitution or any state law to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any member of a union other than the union of one man and one woman. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall recognize any marriage contracted in any other jurisdiction which is not the union of one man and one woman.

Louisiana Constitution, Article 12, Section 15.

So reads the Louisiana Constitution as it was amended by the voters of Louisiana in September of 2004. This amendment passed by a vote of 619,908 for to 177,067 against (78% in favor). In Orleans Parish, which is the city of New Orleans, the vote was 46,357 for and 38,500 against (54.6% in favor).

What does this language mean for members of the APSA who may be expected to travel to New Orleans for an annual meeting in 2012? The problem is that right now, no one knows. If a gay APSA member becomes ill and has to go to a hospital, will his partner in New York be allowed to make medical decisions for him? If a lesbian graduate student who has insurance benefits through her partner's job has an accident, will the hospital recognize her coverage? If a non-married couple's child travels with them to the meetings and has an emergency, will city officials respect both parents' legal relationship as a form of parental authority?

The city has issued a statement that it will not enforce Amendment One, but it's not clear what that means yet. Perhaps it will be clear by 2012, for better or worse. But perhaps it won't.

Welcome to the blog! (PLEASE READ)

This blog is primarily for members of the APSA to discuss 1) the general question of siting annual meetings so that all members of the association feel reasonably safe, comfortable, and welcome at the site and 2) the specific question of siting the conference in New Orleans in 2012.

The blog's main work will be through comment threads. I encourage and expect vigorous debate, but any posting I deem to be a personal attack, or to be racist or homophobic, will be removed as soon as I see it or hear about it.

Unlike some of the comment blogs, I will make occasional new posts to update on the situation as it develops on the ground. If you hear about some major development, drop me a line and I will try to blog it here.