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Trans NH rep-elect withdraws

Gay News, Washington Blade, Transgender New Hampshire, Stacie Laughton

Stacie Laughton

A New Hampshire Democrat who in November became the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature in the country announced on Wednesday she has ended her campaign to run for the state House of Representatives.

“Due to circumstances out of my control, I have decided to withdraw (from) the race for state representative,” Stacie Laughton wrote on her Facebook page.

Laughton, who would have represented portions of Nashua in the New Hampshire House after voters elected her on Nov. 6, announced in late November she would resign amid reports she pleaded guilty in July 2008 to conspiracy to commit fraudulent use of a credit card and identity fraud and falsifying physical evidence related to a police investigation into the allegations while living in Laconia. She served slightly more than four months in the Belknap County jail before her Nov. 2008 release.

New Hampshire law states a convicted felon cannot seek or hold public office “from the time of his sentence until his final discharge.” Laughton’s probation ended in Nov. 2010, but questions arose as to whether she was qualified to serve in the state House because she received two concurrent suspended 10 year sentences for good behavior in connection with the two other charges.

Laughton told the Union Leader on Nov. 28, the day after she said she would resign, that she had planned to take office this month. She filed paperwork on Friday to run for the seat to which she had initially been elected, but Laughton told the Washington Blade that Secretary of State Bill Gardner told her earlier on Wednesday he received a letter from state Attorney General Michael Delaney that concluded her sentences “have not been fully discharged under the law.”

Delaney recommended his office should forward Laughton’s case to the state Ballot Law Commission to make a final determination over her eligibility to run for political office.

“This is the same question we faced a few weeks ago after I won the election,” she noted. “It’s starting to wear on me and I’m not wanting to have to go through the whole Ballot Law Commission thing. And I just decided it’s time to put an end to all of this and just resign and try again in a few years.”

Gay New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, who initially applauded Laughton’s Nov. 6 election, responded to her decision to end her campaign in a brief statement to the Blade.

“Stacie has made the right decision to focus her energies on resolving her outstanding personal issues,” he said.

Laughton stressed she plans to take “a good several years off” before she considers another run for political office.

“I’m going to stay involved in my community and the other work that I do,” she said.

Laughton added she feels her criminal record has received too much attention.

“I understand those things will always be attached to my name and to my record, but human beings have the ability to change and that’s what I’ve done,” she said. “I’ve moved forward from my past. I’ve tried to live my life with honesty and respect. Too much emphasis has been placed on my past and what life was like for me in Laconia. I really wish people would just look at me for who I am today and judge that.”


Attorneys general urge Supreme Court to strike down Prop 8

Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade

13 state attorneys general on Thursday filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case challenging California’s Proposition 8. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Fourteen state attorneys general on Thursday filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“Equality under the law is a founding principle of America, but we will not all be equal until everyone has the freedom to choose whom to love and whom to spend their lives with,” Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said during a news conference in Wilmington. “It is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry.”

The brief onto which Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and Washington Attorney General Robert Ferguson argues California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 denies a variety of legal and social benefits afforded through marriage to same-sex couples and their children. It also highlights nine states and the nation’s capital allow gays and lesbians to marry.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday filed a separate brief with the U.S. Supreme court that urges the justices to strike down Prop 8.

“Our experience in Massachusetts has unequivocally shown that ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage has only strengthened the institution,” Coakley said. “We urge the court to strike Proposition 8 down because it discriminates against gay and lesbian individuals and their families.”

The briefs come ahead of a likely debate on a bill in the Delaware Legislature that would allow gays and lesbians to marry.

An Illinois state House committee on Tuesday approved a same-sex marriage measure, while Minnesota legislators earlier on Thursday introduced a bill that would allow gays and lesbians to marry. Lawmakers in New Jersey and Rhode Island are expected to consider the issue in the coming days and weeks.

“We at Equality Delaware could not be any prouder of our attorney general, Beau Biden, for standing up for freedom and marriage equality for all Delaware families,” Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman, who spoke at Biden’s news conference, told the Washington Blade.

The state attorneys general filed their brief with the court on the same day Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings again expressed their support for marriage rights for same-sex couples in their own brief that urged the justices to strike down Prop 8.

Equality Virginia, the Utah Pride Center, the Campaign for Southern Equality and other LGBT advocacy groups on Wednesday filed a brief that urges the justices to uphold lower court rulings that found both Prop 8 and DOMA unconstitutional. Former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.,) Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, gay California Assembly Speaker John Perez and the U.S. Conference of Mayors are among those who have either filed briefs in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples or signed onto them.

Biden and other state attorneys general are expected to file a brief in the DOMA case on Fiday.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the two cases on March 26-27.