Eastern Bank Corporation received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), and is recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as one of the “Best Places to Work for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality.” The CEI is the premiere national benchmark for LGBT workplace inclusion and provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees.
“Eastern Bank is honored to be nationally recognized as a best place to work for LGBT equality,” said Nancy Stager, Executive Vice President, Human Resources & Charitable Giving, Eastern Bank. “We embrace diversity in our workplace because it makes us a better employer and a better provider of service to our customers. Our diverse workforce helps us truly understand the challenges facing our communities and better positions us to be able to target resources to build and maintain the fabric of our communities.”
The 2014 CEI rated 934 businesses, with 303 achieving the top rating of 100 percent and earning the honor of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” The CEI rates companies on 40 specific policies and practices. To achieve a perfect score and the coveted distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality,” companies must have fully-inclusive equal employment opportunity policies, provide equal employment benefits, demonstrate organizational LGBT competency, publicly declare their commitment to equality, and exercise responsible citizenship.
A recognized leader in diversity through its advocacy efforts and internal programs, Eastern Bank in 2010 was the first company in the country to sign GLAD’s amicus brief that asked the US Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). On March 26, 2013, a strong contingent of Eastern Bank employees joined MassEquality and GLAD and hundreds of supporters at Government Center in opposition to DOMA, as the US Supreme Court heard cases related to Same Sex Marriage. Three months later, Eastern Bank testified for the second time on Beacon Hill in support of public access for transgender people.
In June, Eastern Bank also joined a short, but growing, list of companies in Massachusetts by expanding its health insurance to include coverage for gender-related care, including transition-related surgery and supporting services. It continues to work with organizations and employers across Massachusetts in this regard.
A complete list of 2014 Corporate Equality Index rankings can be found here.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking recently in Mexico, expressed his support for same-sex marriage in his home country.
In an interview with Ynet News on Sunday while in Guadalajara, Peres said that "even a person who is a homosexual is a human being, and he has rights. We have no power to take away (their) rights."
He added, "We cannot take away someone's rights because they are different. We cannot take away their right to breathe, right to eat or right to start a family. We must allow everyone to live as is natural to them."
Peres’ comments came in response to two new bills being promoted by the Israeli Justice Ministry. One is called “Living together,” which attempts to regulate some form of a civil partnership between same-sex couples the other bill aims to secure equal marriage rights to same-sex couples.
To see all of today's big stories from the LGBT world check out Boston Spirit's Fab 5
Javier Pagan, on of the heroic first responders during the Boston Marathon bombings, is back on a magazine cover. Pagan, the openly gay office who also serves as the LGBT liaison for the department, is joined by fellow officers Rachel McGuire and Kevin McGill as well as Red Sox slugger David Ortiz on the current cover of Sports Illustrated.
Pagan, seen below on the cover of the July issue of Boston Spirit magazine, was stationed right by the marathon finish line and was one of the first officers to take action when the bombs went off.
CLICK HERE to read the Boston Spirit feature article on Officer Pagan. The article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue.
Every November, for the past 23 years, the Boston Living Center (BLC) has gathered people living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones together to celebrate the joy of life. Almost two years after merging with Victory Programs, the BLC and its most heartfelt tradition live on.
On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, at 5:30pm Victory Programs’ Boston Living Center will host the Celebration of Life Thanksgiving Dinner at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. When the BLC was founded in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, those gathered never knew if they would be around for their next holiday. Today, guests celebrate the advances in HIV/AIDS medicine and healthcare that allow them the opportunity to live long, healthy lives.
As many as 700 people, those living with HIV/AIDS—and their loved ones, will gather for a full Thanksgiving meal. All of the food, including 500 pounds of turkey and 120 pies, decorations and technology has been generously donated by local businesses and nonprofits, making the event free and open to anyone living with HIV/AIDS in the Commonwealth.
“The Boston Living Center’s annual joyous Celebration of Life dinner is one of the most beautiful, spirited and important events in our city of Boston,” says Victory Programs’ President and CEO Jonathan Scott. “Of the near 1,000 attendees—guests and volunteers—each has in some way endured loss in the history of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and each participates in giving comfort and support. In the true spirit of celebration, this dinner gathering creates a sparkling room of hope and community. There is no better place to be as we begin the holiday season.”
The event will feature entertainment by Lakia Mondale, Michael O’Connor and Woza Moya, and One Love, a chorus of HIV positive teens. Liz Walker, former WBZ newscaster and current minister at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain, will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies. Other local celebrities and community leaders on hand to serve the Thanksgiving meal include Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, AIDS Action Committee Executive Director Rebecca Haag, Doug Berman and Ray Magliozzi of NPR’s Car Talk, Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett and State Representatives Gloria Fox, Liz Malia and Jay Livingstone.
The evening will include special recognition of Mayor Thomas M. Menino for his commitment to HIV/AIDS services throughout his 20-year career. The winners of the 2013 Peter Daniel Clark Award, co-owners of Boston’s Club Café Jim Morgrage and Frank Ribaudo, will also be recognized for their commitment to the HIV/AIDS community.
The Celebration of Life is Victory Programs’ largest fundraiser, raising more than $100,000 to ensure vital HIV/AIDS programming is preserved.
For today's 5 biggest stories in the LGBT world, check out Boston Spirit magazine's Fab 5
Today the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously declined Gov. Chris Christie’s request for a stay of a lower court’s ruling that civil marriage licenses be granted to same-sex couples beginning Monday, October 21st.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin issued the following statement in response to today’s decision:
"The New Jersey Supreme Court has sent a momentous and vital message to the entire country," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "No government should stand in the way of committed and loving couples seeking to marry. And I have no doubt that when this case is resolved on the merits, marriage equality will come to the Garden State permanently.”
The unanimous ruling from the Court explained that this is a matter of equality:
“The State has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today. The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”
The New Jersey Supreme Court will hear arguments in early January on the merits of the case, which was brought forth by Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal on behalf of seven New Jersey same-sex couples.
A team of Russian athletes competing at the World Outgames in Antwerp, Belgium have released a NOH8 photo in an attempt to bring attention to Russia’s recently passed anti-gay legislation. The legislation, championed by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, bans the distribution of "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."
The legislation imposes hefty fines for providing information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to minors or holding gay pride rallies. Those breaking the law will be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($156) for an individual and up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) for a company, including media organizations.
Since the announcement of the new law there has been considerable debate on whether the 2014 Winter Olympic Games should still take place in Sochi, and if so, what could potentially happen to visiting LGBT athletes taking part in the games.
Putin has said that Russia will comply with the Olympic Charter's provision against discrimination of any kind, but has also stated that the new anti-gay law would be enforced the games.
According to their Facebook page, the World Outgames “bring(s) together lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes from around the world in unprecedented numbers for a celebration of sport, culture and human rights. In the spirit of true inclusiveness, the World OutGames are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.”
BAGLY and Campus Pride are helping LGBTQ students and their supporters make informed decisions about attending LGBTQ-Friendly colleges and universities. As this year's annual LGBT Friendly College Fair comes back to Boston, over 30 colleges and universities will be coming together while specifically catering to LGBTQ students and addressing their questions and concerns. This is a free event, and is open to all LGBTQ youth and young adults, allies, and families.
Grace Sterling Stowell, BAGLY's Executive Director says, "This college fair is an important opportunity for LGBTQ youth and young adults to get more information about safe and supportive learning environments. In addition, it sends a strong message to the LGBTQ communities that there are dedicated and safe spaces for them when they consider attending an institution of higher education."
“Accessibility to higher education for LGBT youth should be a number one priority. Research tells us that LGBT youth are at higher-risk when it comes to harassment and safety in secondary education, so we need to be sure that they find the right college for post-secondary education,” said Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride, “The colleges at this fair are actively providing services to LGBT students and want students who are out and part of the campus community.”
BAGLY is also providing FREE statewide transportation through The AGLY Network for those who need it.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R), in an appearance on WHP-TV in Harrisburg this morning compared the marriage of same-sex couples to the marriage of a brother and sister.
In response to a question about a recent statement made in court by Corbett’s lawyers, comparing same-sex marriage to children marrying, Corbett said, "It was an inappropriate analogy, you know. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don't you?"
Word of the governor’s statement began to spread very quickly and was widely condemned, especially in the LGBT community. Said HRC Vice President Fred Sainz, “Gov. Corbett proved today he is horribly out of touch with reality and does not represent the views of fair-minded Pennsylvanians. Americans of all political stripes are embracing marriage equality and the nation is moving forward on the issue while Gov. Corbett wants to turn back the clock.”
“Opponents of equality are becoming increasingly desperate these days. Gov. Corbett’s remarks embody that desperation, especially as equality efforts pick up speed in Pennsylvania," Sainz continued.
At 11:30 this morning Governor Corbett released a statement apologizing to those he may have offended stating his “words were not intended to offend anyone.”
Corbett says his comment during the WHP-TV morning news interview was meant to provide an example of the categories of people who aren’t legally entitled to obtain marriage licenses in Pennsylvania.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has announced that Jennifer Lopez will receive the 2013 Ally for Equality Award at HRC’s sold-out National Dinner on Saturday, October 5 in Washington, DC.
“Jennifer Lopez embodies the spirit of an ally to the LGBT community and we are thrilled to present her the Ally for Equality at our National Dinner in October,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “We recognize Jennifer for her talent, style, compassion, philanthropy and generosity, but foremost for her public commitment to LGBT equality.”
The Ally for Equality Award recognizes the outstanding efforts of those who dedicate time, energy, spirit and whole-hearted commitment to better the lives of LGBT people. This award is given to allies outside the LGBT community who stand up on behalf of equality for all Americans.
For years, Jennifer Lopez has been vocal about her love for the LGBT community, from her outspoken support for marriage equality, to the millions of dollars she’s raised for HIV/AIDS research and her efforts on behalf of bullying and youth anti-violence causes. Currently Lopez serves as executive producer of ABC Family’s hit TV series The Fosters, the #1 new cable TV series of the summer with millennials. The Fosters is a compelling, one-hour drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms. Lopez was on the receiving end of a boycott campaign from One Million Moms, a project of the radically anti-LGBT group American Family Association.
“Even facing pressure from anti-LGBT groups, Jennifer stands her ground as a strident equality supporter,” added Griffin. “Throughout her career, Jennifer Lopez has always stood for fairness, justice and equality, and that’s what being an ally is all about.”
The HRC National Dinner, which is expected to draw 3,400 guests, will be held the evening of Saturday, October 5th at the Washington Convention Center. Also in attendance will be the plaintiffs and attorneys from the historic Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) cases before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year. This will be the first time all five plaintiffs will be together in the same room.
Pasta company Buitoni has come up with a clever response to anti-LGBT comments made last week by the chairman of its competitor Barilla.
Buitoni released the image above on their facebook page with the hashtag #pastaforall. To date the image has been ‘like’ by more than 3,000 people and ‘shared’ by more than 6,000.
Last week Guido Barilla, chairman of the Barilla Group, said his company would not have a gay family in any of his company’s advertising because he wants to market to “traditional families.” He then went on to say that anyone who disagrees could go "eat another brand of pasta."
Guido Barilla made the anti-gay comments during an interview with La Zanzara on Radio24 Wednesday. When asked why the company has no same-sex couples in its advertising Barilla responded, "We have a slightly different culture. For us, the 'sacral family' remains one of the company’s core values. Our family is a traditional family. If gays like our pasta and our advertisings, they will eat our pasta; if they don’t like that, they will eat someone else’s pasta. You can’t always please everyone not to displease anyone. I would not do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect toward homosexuals – who have the right to do whatever they want without disturbing others – but because I don’t agree with them, and I think we want to talk to traditional families. The women are crucial in this."
Once word of Barilla’s comments began to spread he released a new statement in which he said:
Regarding my comments at the radio program La Zanzara, I [apologize] if my words generated misunderstandings or controversy or if they hurt some people's feelings. In the interview I just wanted to underline the centrality of the woman's role in the family. To be clear, I just want to specify that I do have great respect of every person, without any kind of distinction. I do respect gay people and everybody's freedom of expression. I also said I do respect gay marriage. Barilla in its advertising has always chosen to represent the family because this is the symbol of hospitality and affection for everyone.
Since marriage equality became the law in Maine many gay and lesbian couples have tied the knot in the ‘Pine Tree State.’ Only one of these couples has had a former U.S. President serve as a witness at their wedding. Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, co-owners of a Kennebunk general store in Kennebunk, Maine, also happen to be longtime friends of former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara.
According to Clement the newly married couple has known the Bush’s for years. In an email from London (where the couple is on their honeymoon), she said this was a “monumental this time is in our lives.” She went on to say “Who would be best to help us acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world. When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgment of being ‘real and normal.’”
As for a statement from the former President, his representative Jim McGrath stated,
“They were private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”
by Loren King
Filmmaker John Greyson, who directed the acclaimed gay-themed drama Lilies (1996) and several episodes of Queen as Folk in 2001 and 2002, remains imprisoned without cause in Cairo, Egypt along with Dr. Tarek Loubani. Greyson and Loubani through their Egyptian lawyers said that they will be refusing food beginning September 16 to protest the arbitrary nature of their detention by Egyptian authorities.
During the recent Toronto International Film Festival, more than 300 high-profile stars including filmmakers Ben Affleck, Sarah Polley, Atom Egoyan, Alex Gibney, actors Charlize Theron, Alec Baldwin and Danny Glover, and author Michael Ondaatje called for the release of Greyson and Dr. Loubani. Both men were arrested Aug. 16 after entering a police station to ask for directions. At the time of their arrest, Toronto-native Greyson, a filmmaker and professor at York University, and Loubani, a doctor from London, Ontario, were heading to the Gaza Strip. Loubani teaches emergency room medicine at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Greyson was planning to make a documentary. They have been held behind bars ever since and have not be charged with any crime. Egyptian authorities have given no reason for the extension or ongoing detention.
At a press conference during the TIFF, members of the filmmaking community joined Cecilia Greyson, sister of John Greyson, in demanding the immediate release of Greyson and Dr. Loubani. A website has been set up (tarekandjohn.com) with information and a petition calling for their release that has so far been signed by more than 100,000 people.
“We can only imagine the anguish that John and Tarek feel after realizing that their detention could be extended for so long in what can only be described as an arbitrary process that lacks any credibility,” said Cecilia Greyson. “We know that they did not take the decision to begin a hunger strike lightly, and we want them to know we will do everything we can to support them and get them home soon.”
Massachusetts State Representative Carl Sciortino has launched a new television ad for his campaign to fill Senator Ed Markey's now empty seat in the U.S. House.
Sciortino, who is openly gay, 'comes out' to his father (played in the commercial by his real father Carl Sciortino Sr.) as a liberal Democrat. Sciortino Sr. is a Tea Party supporter. The commercial is a clever play on the concept of 'coming out' to your parents.
"I'll never forget that conversation with my dad where I had to come out and tell him that I was a Massachusetts liberal," says Sciortino Jr. in the ad.
In a statement released by Sciortino Jr., he said, "My father and I disagree on just about everything. I am grateful that he was willing to appear in my TV ad even though he probably thinks he should be running against me."
Dustin Reeser thought he was just helping his roommate out. He agreed to go to the local Home Depot (in Salt Lake City), to assist with picking up some party supplies. Once Reeser and the roommate turned into the lumber aisle, he realized something wasn’t quite right.
“They come out, and they’re from all the different places I’ve lived in the world, so to see them all in one place at one time was kind of ridiculous,” Reese said. “I start to recognize people, and then I start to recognize more people, and I’m thinking in my head it’s a really nice graduation gift, but a little weird.”
That’s when the flash mod started. About 30 of Reeser’s family and friends took part, including his parents and two adorable little girls in ballet outfits.
Spencer Stout , Dustin’s boyfriend and the man behind the flash mob, said he’s known he wanted to propose for a while, but the idea for the flash mob came in May, the first time he heard the song “Somebody Loves You” by Betty Who.
“Not very well known, but the words just kind of amplify how I felt about Dustin, so I had seen some flash mobs online and started talking to my friend, and my wheels just started turning,” Stout said.
Why Home Depot?
“The very first time we met, we walked through a Home Depot, and he showed me what he had built and showed me what we had done, so I thought it would be a great place for the proposal because it was kind of our first date,” Stout said.
At the end of the performance Stout got on one knee and proposed. Reeser said yes and they are planning their big day.
The Massachusetts anti-LGBT group MassResistance recently launched a campaign selling anti-HRC stickers in an attempt to play on the traditional HRC logo containing two parallel lines (the symbol for equal)
The sticker is a crudely rendered version of the HRC equality logo in lavender with a black, diagonal bar through it.
The blue and yellow HRC logo is a ubiquitous symbol synonymous with the fight for equality for LGBT Americans. It first debuted in 1995, and has since become one of the most recognizable symbols for the LGBT community. In March 2013, HRC’s red version of the logo went viral, after millions of people shared the logo and countless memes to show their support for equality.
A headline on the MassResistance website states;
Tired of having the homosexual "equal" sign always thrown in your face? Stick it back at them -- and counter the gay agenda -- with MassResistance's stickers!
Have some fun countering the "gay" agenda
And a post on the site goes on to say “like the "equal" sticker, the "not equal" sticker is suitable for all kinds of creative uses. If they can do it, we certainly can! Good people need to be willing to tell it like it is.
It fits perfectly on your car between your "Impeach Obama" and "NRA" stickers!
Today Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin sent a letter to the heads of the top sponsors of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressing concern over the anti-LGBT Russian law criminalizing “homosexual propaganda.” In addition to raising awareness about the law that has led to multiple human rights abuses, particularly hate-based violence against LGBT young people, the letter calls on the corporate leaders from Dow Chemical, Coca Cola, General Electric, McDonalds, Proctor & Gamble, Panasonic, Samsung, Omega, Visa, and Atos to take the following steps:
1. Adopt a clear and unequivocal public position in opposition to anti-LGBT laws like the one adopted by the Russian government.
2. Denounce targeted violence against LGBT people in Russia and demand investigation and accountability from Russian authorities.
3. Ask the IOC to obtain concrete, written commitments from the Russian government about the safety of international Olympic athletes and attendees—and urge the IOC to reject future Olympic bids from countries with laws that outlaw support for LGBT equality.
4. Affirm unequivocal support for non-discrimination and equality, and ensure that policies and practices reflect this commitment.
5. Put marketing and creative advertising resources to use—helping to build awareness and demonstrate support for LGBT equality in Russia and globally.
6. Support the local LGBT community in Russia.
The HRC Foundation is creating an online resource that will reflect the actions taken or not taken by IOC sponsors with regard to these six areas we have outlined.
In June, a law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" was passed by Russia’s Federal Assembly and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. Under the guise of protecting children from "homosexual propaganda," the law imposes fines or jail time to citizens who disseminate information that may cause a "distorted understanding" that LGBT and heterosexual relationships are "socially equivalent." The fines are significantly higher if such information is distributed through the media or Internet. Foreigners, such as those visiting Russia for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, will not only be fined but also face arrest and up to 15 days in jail, followed by eventual deportation, according to the new law.
When former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords was shot in 2011 several bystanders were hailed as heroes and credited with saving her life. Among that group was Daniel Hernandez, then an intern for Giffords.
Hernandez, and out, gay man, now serves on the school board for the Sunnyside Unified School District just outside of Tuscon and is facing a recall election complete with homophobic rhetoric.
A flyer has been distributed throughout the district stating, among other things, “Put a REAL Man on the Sunnyside Board...Daniel Hernandez is LGBT...We need someone who will support Sports and cares about our kids. We don’t need someone who hates our values.”
Hernandez has opposed extending the contract of the current superintendent and has advocated for gun violence prevention.
"I've had a target on my back from my fellow board members for awhile because I don't go with the flow, and if something doesn't sound right or make sense, I call them out on it," Hernandez said. "My governing board president has started the recall process on me, with the people who are his friends and closest allies in the community. I'm not overly concerned they're going to get the 1,300 signatures, but just the negative tone and nature of the way they're doing it has been really bothersome and upsetting," he continued.
Those opposing Hernandez need to collect 1,300 signatures before December 14th to get a recall vote on the ballot.
Despite protests from many within the LGBT community, including a Change.org petition that gathered more than 28,000 signatures, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant will remain in Russia.
Bravo television host and celebrity Andy Cohen, who is openly gay and was slated to host the pageant, has told organizers that he is boycotting the event due to Russia’s "discriminatory" and "unsafe" policies.
The pageant, which is owned by Donald Trump, issues a statement saying it
"believes in equality for all individuals and is deeply concerned by the laws recently enacted in Russia and currently in place in several other countries." The statement also points out that Russia’s anti-LGBT laws are "diametrically opposed to the core values" of the company. “It is our hope this year's Miss Universe contest in Moscow will help foster a common understanding and appreciation of the rights of all individuals, regardless of their nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation."
LGBT media watchdog organization GLAAD appears to agree with the pageant’s decision stating, "Miss Universe is an organization with incredible impact all around the globe. Following this important first statement, Miss Universe has a unique opportunity to continue to speak out against the anti-LGBT violence and laws in Russia and demonstrate that the international community does not support Russia's anti-LGBT brutality" said GLAAD spokesman Omar Shariff Jr.
Is Fox News going pro-gay? It is if you believe the conservative group ‘America’s Survival Inc.’ The group, in conjunction with ‘Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’, has issued a report and press release blasting Fox News for replacing its evening host Sean Hannity with Megyn Kelly.
"Pushing Sean Hannity out of the 9:00 p.m. slot, to make way for pro-homosexual advocate Megyn Kelly, is another sign of the channel's left-ward drift and decline," said America's Survival president Cliff Kincaid said in the press release.
The attack on Kelly and Fox News was part of a 73 page report which included other headlines such as "Fox News Rolls Over on Homosexuals in the Military," "Long Term Consequences: The Decline of American Civilization," and "Shepard Smith: The Next Anderson Cooper?"
As for what makes Kelly, currently a daytime host for the station, pro-gay? In a section of the report titled “Megyn Kelly: New Hero to the 'Gay' Lobby?" the group cites a few examples including her interview with Tony Perkins, leader of the antigay group Family Research Council. In that interview Kelly asked Perkins to provide evidence that same-sex marriage had harmed the country. Also mentioned is Kelly’s support of Chaz Bono during his transition.
For those concerned that Fox News is embracing a new, pro-gay, agenda no need to worry. According to the blog Media Matters Fox News’ coverage of LGBT issues has not changed. The station has recently referred to a new California law protecting transgender youth as “anarchy and Madness,” called a trans woman as a “burly man in a dress,” and completely ignored the topic of Russia’s anti-lgbt laws and how they might impact athletes traveling there for the Sochi Olympics
Darren Young, a wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has come out as gay.
The admission came during an impromptu interview with a TMZ cameraman while Young was at Los Angeles International Airport. The cameraman asked Young if a gay wrestler could be successful in the WWE. Young answered "absolutely, look at me. I'm a WWE Superstar and, to be honest with you, I'll tell you right now, I'm gay, and I'm happy. Very happy."
Young continued, “"I guess if you want to call it 'coming out,' I really don't know what to say it is," he said. "I'm just letting you know that I'm happy [with] who I am, I'm comfortable with myself, and I'm happy to be living the dream ... Some people might not like it. Some people will like it. I'm here to please myself. I'm here to be happy ... I'm hoping to make a difference. It's very important to me to make people understand that someone's sexual preference shouldn't really matter. It should be about the person."
WWE has since commented on the interview. In a statement released to The Huffington Post, the WWE announced. “WWE is proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality, and we will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar. Today, in fact, Darren will be participating in one of our Be A Star anti-bullying rallies in Los Angeles to teach children how to create positive environments for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation."
Young began wrestling professionally in 2002 and joined the WWE in 2005.
Mintz Levin, a Boston-based law firm with a tradition of supporting the LGBT community that goes back more than 25 years, has organized a live, online discussion about the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling on everything from health benefits, to personal income taxes, to the transfer of wealth. The online discussion, Legal Rights & Obligations Post-DOMA, will be held on August 12 at 1:00 pm, and is free to attend.
“When it comes to benefit programs, both employers and their employees with same gender spouses have work to do,” says attorney Alden Bianchi, who leads Mintz Levin’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation practices and will be discussing health plans and other benefits issues.
On the list of things that have changed for the better, you can add immigration benefits. Those with spouses who are foreign nationals “can finally ‘get into the line’ on the path to citizenship, feel welcomed, and become a real part of the fabric of the United States,” says Mintz Levin immigration attorney Doug Hauer, who will be speaking about the immigration implications of the ruling.
Taxes, on the other hand, might be a mixed bag for legally married same-sex couples. There’s the marriage penalty tax, for example, and the question of whether or not it’s better to file jointly or separately. Scott Goffstein, CPA and managing partner at Scott Goffstein Associates in Waltham, will weigh in on the tax issues that couples now have to consider.
“Significant questions remain for creditors and debtors in individual bankruptcy cases,” says attorney Adrienne Walker, who will address the issues that many couples may now have to face, “including discharge of domestic support obligations, claims arising from a marriage, and access to state exemptions for married same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize marriage equality.”
The webinar will also address the ruling’s impact on bankruptcy, litigation, and securities. Those that attend can send in their questions.
Legal Rights & Obligations Post-DOMA Details
When: Monday, August 12, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 pm EST
Registration & Information: http://www.mintz.com/Post-DOMA-Webinar
The annual list of most lgbt friendly and least lgbt friendly college campuses has been released by the Princeton Review. Not surprisingly the list of Top 20 most friendly lgbt campuses is well represented by New England colleges and universities. Boston’s own Emerson College took the top spot with Frankiln W Olin College of Engineering in Needham and Smith College in Northamptom also placing in the top 10.
One major surprise was the presence of the University of Rhode Island in the top 10 of least lgbt friendly campuses. On the heels of Rhode Island’s recent passage of marriage equality (which had bipartisan support in the state) URI’s rank of ninth in the least lgbt friendly list was a bit unexpected. URI was the only New England representative on the least friendly list.
According to the Princeton Review the rankings are based on questionnaire responses from 122,000 students throughout the country. The students are asked 80 questions about "their school's academics, administration, student body, and themselves."
Top 20 most lgbt friendly (New England rankings):
01. Emerson College (Boston, MA)
07. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, MA)
08. Smith College (Northampton, MA)
11. Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)
12. Bennington College (Bennington, VT)
14. Yale University (New Haven, CT)
19. Marlboro College (Marlboro, VT)
A new book entitled ‘Erotic Lives of the Superheroes’ by Italian author Marco Mancassola has “outed” Batman and Robin going so far as to portray the dynamic duo as “a bickering couple” whose sex life has “gone flat.”
As if that weren’t shocking enough for many fans of the DC comic superhero, Mancassola’s Batman also picks up a variety of young men for one night stands. “Batman has always had a very dark side. And it shouldn’t be a shock that my version of this character indulges in weird forms of fetishism and extreme sex,” said Mancassola.
“Narcissism is his inner abyss. He let his only real love story miserably fail because he is in love with the mystery of youth – that inaccessible, fleeting kind of spirit that he sees in the eyes of his young male and female pick-ups.”
This is not the first time that Batman’s sexuality has been brought into question. Grant Morrison, who authored several Batman stories for DC comics, previously stated that “(Batman’s) intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay”. And George Clooney, who played Batman, in the 1997 film Batman & Robin said he intended for his character to appear gay.
Mancassola realizes that there are some fans who “can’t forgive me for what I’ve done to their beloved characters. This is true especially when it comes to Batman, who comes across as the least nice character of the book – egocentric, ridiculously vain, in some way ‘perverse’. But, actually, I depicted him that way because I love him. He is human. He embodies the tragedy into which contemporary society has transformed the fact of getting older.”
The novel also delves into the erotic obsessions of Superman, Mister Fantastic and Mystique.
Tonight in Chicago the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame will induct its very first class of honorees. The group leading the way into the Hall includes former major league baseball umpire Dave Pallone, tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis and former Boston Celtic Jason Collins.
"It is a tremendous honor and ... I hope it gives young people and adults alike who happen to be LGBT and want to be in professional sports another example of why they should continue to strive for their dreams," Pallone said.
Among the events schedule for the weekend is “Out at Wrigley” which is being billed as the largest “gay day” at a major league sporting event.
"This will help preserve history," said Executive Director Bill Gubrud. "You are not going to know where to go if you don't know where you've been and many in the gay community don't know Glenn Burke." Burke is also being inducted, posthumously. He played for the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1970s.
According to Burke, Chicago was chosen as the host location for the Hall for a variety of reasons including the fact that the Chicago Cubs, more than a decade ago, became the first professional sports team to place an ad in a gay newspaper.
The little state that should have been a slam-dunk dragged its heels on the way to the altar, but ultimately got there
NOTE: This story first appeared in the July/August 2013 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.
by Tony Giampetruzzi
Frank Ferri plans to marry his partner of 32-years, Tony, today, August 1, the couple’s anniversary.
A democratic state representative from Rhode Island, Ferri has seen many August firsts come and go and, as a long time marriage equality advocate, each has been bittersweet. But Rhode Island became the tenth U.S. state, and the final state in New England, to allow gay marriage when lawmakers voted approvingly in May.
Conveniently, for Ferri, the first day that the law goes into effect is August 1.
“It’s still settling in. It’s a funny feeling to know that I don’t have to get out of bed tomorrow and advocate another day for gay marriage,” says Ferri, an elected official for six years, but someone who has walked the Statehouse floors for nearly two decades advocating for marriage equality. “I’ve been talking to so many people over so many years about it and trying to educate people. You know, every chance I got I was advocating for it, even if it was just in subtle ways. So, now it’s happened, it’s strange. Pinch me! It’s a really, really strange feeling.”FULL ENTRY
Former Massachusetts Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez is joining the board of directors of GOProud, an organization that advocates for LGBT issues in the Republican party, according to a statement from GOProud.
"I'm honored to join the board of GOProud," said Gomez, according to the organization's press release. "I'm looking forward to working with the rest of the GOProud board and staff, reaching out to young voters, conservative activists and lawmakers with our message of free markets, limited government, and personal responsibility. I often said during my campaign that I did not support any type of discrimination and groups like GOProud are important, now more than ever, as we expand the conservative movement."
Bishop Desond Tutu, in advance of the launch of the United Nations gay rights program in South Africa yesterday, told a French newspaper that he would rather go to hell than to a homophobic heaven. Speaking to Agence France-Presse Tutu stated, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this”.
He went on to say, “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place”.
Tutu, who has a long and distinguished history of fighting for civil rights, including battling apartheid, even went to so far as to compare the current fight for lgbt rights to his past battles in South Africa. “I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level,” he concluded.
LGBT leaders from across Boston are gathering for an event in support City Councilor Mike Ross. The list of hosts for the event, which continues to grow, includes almost every Mayoral LGBT Community Liaison going back 20 years.
"Mike has already been a strong advocate and ally of the gay community, and we know as Mayor he will continue to stand up for all Bostonians," said Dr. Steve Boswell, one of the event co-hosts.
Event hosts include Louise Venden and Sally Deane; Steve Boswell and John Neale; Shawn Ford; Neal Hartman and Michael Burton; Steven Corkin; Mark McGrath; Carl Rosendorf; Eric and Ian Tzeng; Liz Page; and Stephanie Spooner.
Ross has been a champion of issues facing the LGBT community -- from transgender equality to a recent hearing on the issues facing LGBT seniors -- since his election as a City Councilor. Ross has marched in every pride parade since 1999 and was one of the first elected officials in Massachusetts to support marriage equality. In addition, his mother is openly gay.
"It's an honor to have the support I do within the LGBT community. As Mayor, I'd continue Tom Menino's tradition of making sure Boston is a leader in equality for all," said Ross.
"I keep thinking how strange it is ... I kill a man and most people understand and forgive me. However, I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgivable sin; this makes me an evil person. So, even though I never went to jail, I have been in prison almost all my life."
From the book "Nine ... Ten ... And Out! The Two Worlds of Emile Griffith"
Emile Griffith was a three time World Welterweight Champion. He was also gay, at a time when all gay professional athletes remained staunchly in the closet. Griffith died this week at the age of 75.
Griffith is best known for a 1962 title fight against Benny Paret. In the fight Griffith beat Paret so badly that Paret died 10 days later. In a documentary about the fight called ‘Ring of Fire’ Griffith talked about remarks made by Paret before the fight that may have played a part in the savage beating. In those comments Paret had called Griffith a “maricon,” Spanish for faggot. “When I had him in the corner in the 12th round … I was very angry in the ring,” Griffith said in the documentary. “Nobody ever called me a faggot.”
Griffith had a professional record of 85-24-2. He was the WBA and WBC welterweight champion throughout the Sixties.
His life is the subject of a new opera, "Champion," which debuted in St. Louis last month.
Arin Andrews and Katie Hill look like your typical teen couple. Andrews, 17, and Hill, 19, both live in Oklahoma and both have a lot in common. One of the main things they have in common is that each is transgender.
Katie, 18, spent the first 15 years of her life as Luke, while Arin, 16, was born a girl called Emerald.
The two met at a trans support group and immediately fell in love. “All I saw was a handsome guy. We're perfect for each other because we both had the same troubles growing up. We're both size five, so we even swap our old clothes our mum's bought us but we hated. We look so convincing as a boy and a girl, nobody even notices now. We secretly feel so good about it because it's the way we've always wanted to be seen',” Katie recently told the British tabloid The Sun.
As for Arin, after struggling through his childhood always feeling as though he didn’t belong in hos own body, he finally feels content. “Now when I’m out in a public pool or lifting weights, no one raises an eyebrow. They just think I’m a guy. ... I can wear a tank top, which I couldn’t before, and I can go swimming shirtless. I can just be a regular guy. And I’m so lucky to have my family and Katie to rely on,” he said in The Sun interview.
As for the parents of the two teens, they are extremely happy and supportive of their kids.
"Knowing what Katie went through for eight-plus years -- there's nothing worse than watching your child suffer," Hill's mom, Jazzlyn, told Tulsa World. "It's still my baby -- male or female, she's still my child. And I don't have to kneel at her grave."
As for Andrews mother, she added, “Seeing Katie go through her surgery was helpful to Arin. It was being around it and seeing her getting to transform. And being a couple at the time was I think just the cherry on the cake. Every transgender person would love to have the transformation physically because it just completes them as a person."
Boston Spirit magazine July/August 2013 issue, featuring Boston Policeman Javier Pagan as photographed by Joel Benjamin.
The cover story for Boston Spirit magazine's July/August 2013 issue features Boston Police Department LGBT Liaison Javier Pagan, who details his experience as a first responder at the Boston Marathon blasts
by Scott Kearnan
Javier Pagan was just feet from the finish line when he heard the boom. But when you’re a first responder in a time of crisis, it’s not the terror of the first explosion that tests your courage. It’s the knowledge of the second.
“You hear a lot, ‘Where there is one bomb, there are probably two,’” explains Pagan. “The second one is always there to kill the first responders. Because regardless of what is happening, they’re going to go rushing in.”
And when he heard that first boom, that’s exactly what Pagan did: he rushed in. Most of us watched the horror unfold, hand over mouth in shock and sadness, from behind the shield of a TV screen. But he was there. He heard the boom. And he rushed toward it. Was he scared?
“Was I scared?” answers Pagan. “I don’t think I had time to be scared.”
For Boston Police officer Javier Pagan, April 15, 2013 started like any other Marathon Monday. But when two pressure cooker bombs planted by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev exploded near the finish line at 2:49 p.m., killing three spectators and injuring 264, the day was changed for everyone. The rest of the week went by in a blur: grief, anger, surveillance photos, news cameras, a memorial service, a manhunt. By the time it was over, another victim had been tragically laid to rest. Boston, though, proved resilient — and its people stronger and more united than ever.
Things were different for Pagan, too. A photo by Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki, taken within seconds of the first explosion, had become perhaps the most iconic single image associated with the Marathon bombings. It shows Pagan and two fellow officers springing into action, a runner jolted by the blast fallen at their feet. It was splashed across newspapers, magazines and social media. And it famously made the cover of Sports Illustrated, making Pagan possibly the first out gay man to claim that distinction.
Oh yeah, he’s gay. In fact, for the past 12 years Pagan has served as the Boston Police Department’s liaison to the LGBT community. His association with the now-iconic photograph has resulted in lots of attention: the community has bandied with pride the words “gay hero.”FULL ENTRY
With Queen Elizabeth’s royal assent in place Britain now has legal marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Parliament had passed the measure on Tuesday, the Queen’s stamp of approval (also known as royal assent) was simply a formality. The law, which had the backing of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow as well as Prime Minister David Cameron enables gay couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales,
(the Church of England is barred from conducting same-sex unions). Couples who are currently in a civil union can also convert their union into a marriage.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told supporters that the new law would ensure LGBT people felt “recognized and valued, not excluded. Extending marriage to same sex couples changes nothing in respect of freedom of speech … this is why further changes to the law are not necessary and could indeed be harmful, by casting doubts where non currently exist.”
Maria Miller, the UK Culture Minister said, “The title of this bill might be marriage but its fabric is about freedom and respect, freedom to marry regardless of sexuality or gender, but also freedom to believe that marriage should be of one man and woman and not be marginalized.” It is “clear affirmation that as a nation respect for each and every individual is paramount, regardless of ages, religion, gender, ethnicity and sexuality,” she continued..
The first same-sex marriages are expected to take place next summer.
A coalition of national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organizations, has issued an open letter in response to the recent ruling in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case.
The letter, cosigned by more than 30 national organizations (including the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, PFLAG and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, states that Trayvon Martin “deserves justice and his civil rights,” and also mentions several of the many lgbt victims of violence.
Here is the full text:
An Open Letter: Trayvon Deserves Justice
We cannot begin to imagine the continued pain and suffering endured by Trayvon Martin’s family and friends. We stand in solidarity with them as they continue to fight for justice, civil rights and closure. And we thank everyone who has pushed and will continue to push for justice.
Trayvon Martin deserves justice and his civil rights. We support the organizations and community leaders who are urging the federal government to explore every option to ensure that justice is served for Trayvon and that his civil rights are honored and respected. But our work does not end there: we will honor Trayvon Martin by strengthening our commitment to end bias, hatred, profiling and violence across our communities.
We represent organizations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies. Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, profiling and violence. We have experienced the heart-breaking despair of young people targeted for who they are, who they are presumed to be, or who they love: Rashawn Brazell, Lawrence King, Ali Forney, Brandon Teena, Brandon White, Matthew Shepard, Marco McMillian, Angie Zapata, Sakia Gunn, Gwen Araujo and countless others.
Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.
Justice delayed is justice denied and in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “a right delayed is a right denied.” We honor Trayvon by seeking justice for all people.
American Civil Liberties Union
Believe Out Loud
Bisexual Resource Center
Center for Black Equity
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Work
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network)
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Harvey Milk Foundation
Human Rights Campaign
Movement Advancement Project
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Minority AIDS Council
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
The Trevor Project
Trans Advocacy Network
Transgender Law Center
Trans People of Color Coalition
Chances are you have never heard of country singer Steve Grand. He doesn’t have a record label, isn’t touring with a big band, and his latest music video cost only $7,000 to produce. That video, however, is currently taking the YouTube world by storm.
The song/video, titled “All American Boy” has topped 600,000 views in only one week.
The song is about a young gay man who thinks he is falling in love only to find that the object of his affection is not gay. The lyrics reflect a true life event for Grand. "I was a 13-year-old boy (at camp)," said the 23-year-old singer-songwriter. "One of my counselors was warm and strong and he took an interest in me — not sexually, but as a friend, and it really moved me. I remember leaving with a horrible ache in my heart."
The song has resonated not only with gay youth, but all youth. Grand has received messages from people across the country who have idenitifed with his lyrics of heartbreak. "Just the hundreds of people who have said, `Your story is my story. Thank you for this,' is enough for me," he said recently.
Grand realized he was gay in the eighth grade. When his parents found out they forced him to go to conversion therapy (which he did for five years).
As for the future, Grand doesn’t know what is in store just yet, but he does know that finally, after years of ‘failed conversion therapy’ and heartache he is finally happy. "Like I said, I would die a happy man today," Grand said. "And it's the first time in my entire life I can say that."
The second annual North Shore Pride Parade and Festival will take place tomorrow in Salem, MA.
The parade will kick off at noon on Margin St., turning right on Norman St. and heading down New Derby. It will continue to Derby St. and onto Hawthorne Boulevard where it will end up on Salem Common, where the Pride festival will take place from 1-5 p.m.
The festival will feature a wide variety of vendors including local businesses, non-profits, artists and galleries, and more. There will also be an afternoon long line up of entertainment with acts such as Johnny Blazes and the Pretty Boys, Bikini Whale (New England's premier B-52s cover band), Singer/Songwriter Kenny Chambers, Chelsea Berry, and Gunpowder Gelatine (the world’s ONLY all-female Queen tribute band).
Following the festival the official North Shore Pride afterparty will be held at Murphy’s Pub (300 Derby St. in Salem)
Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) has announced that will be introducing the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) later this week. The FMA would define marriage as between one man and one woman but, unlike DOMA which was a federal law, Huelskamp will propose the FMA as an amendment to the Constitution.
As an amendment to the Constitution the act would require support by two-thirds of the House and Senate as well as ratification by 38 (or more) states.
This is not the first time that a marriage amendment has been introduced. In 2006 a similar measure was defeated by a vote of 236 – 187 (290 votes were needed for passage). Judging by the current make up of the House and Senate the new amendment proposal would have little chance of success.
Prior to yesterdays Supreme Court ruling CNN released the results of a poll showing that 55 percent of those asked support marriage equality, up from 53 percent just days earlier.
That did not deter Huelskamp who stated, "Today, 37 states still have traditional marriage amendments and laws. Those are not overruled, which is the good side of this. It's not over."
The Massachusetts Catholic Conference issues a statement regarding the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA
The Massachusetts Catholic Conferences (the public policy arm of the four area bishops) has issued a statement regarding the Supreme Court's decision earlier today which struck down several key components of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
From the Conference:
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman and a gift to children and society. Today, more than ever, the institution of marriage needs to be strengthened, not redefined as twelve states (including Massachusetts)and the District of Columbia have done.
This morning, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA) which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. The Court based that decision primarily on the principle that DOMA deprives equal protection under the Fifth Amendment to those citizens lawfully married in those thirteen jurisdictions. The Court did not hold that the Constitution requires marriage redefinition in those states that do not recognize same sex marriage.
The Bishops of Massachusetts are extremely disappointed that the Court has struck down DOMA. The Church continues to stand for the traditional definition of marriage, an institution which unites one man and one woman with any children who may come from that union. Marriage, as a natural institution, predates both religion and government and is grounded in the nature of the human person. Protecting the traditional definition of marriage affirms the basic rights and dignity of women and men while safeguarding the basic rights of children.
How will this DOMA ruling affect real lives?
A coalition of LGBT advocacy groups have put together a series of fact sheets describing the practical application of the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling. It explains how lesbian, gay, and bisexual citizens can expect to be impacted by the decision.
The post-DOMA landscape affects over a 1,000 policies, which touch the lives of many LGB citizens through taxation, medicaid, social security, and more.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and nine other organizations are making the information available via the web. You can find the information on GLAD's web site at http://www.glad.org/current/post/after-doma-fact-sheets.
The other organizations that have joined forces to create this useful resource are American Civil Liberties Union, Center for American Progress, Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and OutServe-SLDN.
One way or another it looks as though history will be made on Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. It is at that time that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to release its decision on two cases, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Proposition 8 case, and U.S. v. Windsor, the case challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
After concluding today’s session Chief Justice John Roberts announced that opinions on the three remaining cases before the court will be released tomorrow, prior to the courts scheduled summer vacation.
The Proposition 8 case will decide the fate of marriage equality in the state of California while the “Windsor case” will decide whether certain aspects of the Defense of Marriage act are discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional.
As the lgbt community awaits word from the United States Supreme Court regarding marriage equality on California and the legal merits of the Defense of Marriage Act, one justice who will be ruling spoke out recently regarding the “sanity of having a value-laden decision such as (marriage equality) this made for the entire society by unelected judges.”
The statement was made by Justice Antonin Scalia on Friday while he was speaking at a North Carolina Bar Association event.
Scalia, in comments made at the meeting, said that judges shouldn’t delve into the moral components of issues such as abortion, the death penalty and same-sex marriage because they’re no more qualified than anyone else.
“I am questioning the propriety, the sanity of having a value-laden decision such as this made for the entire society by unelected judges,” Scalia said to the attorneys and judges attending the annual meeting. “We have become addicted to abstract moralizing.”
The Supreme Court is expected to render a decision, perhaps as soon as Tuesday morning, on two major cases closely ties to the lgbt community. The court will rule to either uphold Proposition 8 in California (defining marriage in that state as between a man and a woman) or strike it down (ensuring marriage equality in that state).
In addition the Court will rule on whether the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) discriminates against same-sex married couples when it comes to receiving federal benefits.
Earlier today Republican Senator Lisa Murkowsjki (Alaska) joined fellow GOP Senators Rob Portman (Ohio) and Mark Kirk (Illinois) as the only sitting Republican senators publically supporting marriage equality. Murkowski cited several reasons for her change of heart, she supported a state gay marriage ban in 1998, including her experience with a lesbian couple who lives in her home state and has adopted four children.
Regarding the couple, Murkowski stated:
Despite signing up and volunteering to give themselves fully to these four adorable children, our government does not meet this family halfway and allow them to be legally recognized as spouses. After their years of sleepless nights, after-school pickups and birthday cakes, if one of them gets sick or injured and needs critical care, the other would not be allowed to visit them in the emergency room – and the children could possibly be taken away from the healthy partner. They do not get considered for household health care benefit coverage like spouses nationwide. This first-class Alaskan family still lives a second-class existence.
Murkowski went on to state that changing views across country on marriage, and relationships in general, played a large part in her “evolving views.” She discussed the rise in divorce rates and the increase in cohabitation as societal changes that are making the traditional notion of marriage (“til death do us part”) as more the exception than the rule.
“Why should the federal government be telling adults who love one another that they cannot get married, simply because they happen to be gay? I believe when there are so many forces pulling our society apart, we need more commitment to marriage, not less,” said Murkowski.
She continued, “This thinking is consistent with what I hear from more and more Alaskans especially our younger generations. Like the majority of Alaskans, I supported a constitutional amendment in 1998 defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, but my thinking has evolved as America has witnessed a clear cultural shift. Fifteen years after that vote, I find that when one looks closer at the issue, you quickly realize that same sex unions or civil marriages are consistent with the independent mindset of our state – and they deserve a hands-off approach from our federal policies."
YouGov BrandIndexhas named their Top 20 of the best perceived brands by the LGBT community. Coming in at number one on the list is YouTube (taking he place of the Android Operating System which slipped to number 15).
Nearly half of the brands in the Top 20 are in technology or entertainment, including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon.com, Samsung, Kindle, Google, Android, iPhone, PBS, HBO. Amazon, Google, HBO.
Falling out of the top 20 this year: iPad, Disneyland/Disney World, Apple, Advil, LG, Starbucks, Comedy Central, iPod, and Skype.
Capital One made the largest gains in perception by the LGBT community during the first half of this year with Coca Cola making the second biggest gains.
All 1,100+ brands in the YouGov BrandIndex brand universe were measured with the company’s buzz score, which asks respondents “If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?” All results were filtered for respondents who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender.
The White House announced the nominations of James Costos, an accomplished businessman and current executive at HBO, as the United States Ambassador to Spain, and Rufus Gifford, a former finance official for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Obama for America, and the Democratic National Committee, as the United States Ambassador to Denmark. Last week, President Obama also nominated Daniel Baer, the openly-gay Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, to be Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. If all three are confirmed, they would become the fourth, fifth, and sixth openly-LGBT people to serve as a U.S. Ambassador. Spain and Denmark are two of the 13 countries in the world that have marriage equality. Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin issued the following statements:
“Ambassador-designate James Costos is a true citizen of the world. He has incredible global business experience and is a respected and innovative leader. He has solid business and political relationships at the highest levels and a proven commitment to community, philanthropy, human rights, and democracy that make him an outstanding choice to be the nation's next Ambassador to Spain.”
“Rufus Gifford is a terrific choice to represent our country in Denmark. His demonstrated leadership and unwavering commitment to democracy and human rights will serve him well as he represents America’s interests abroad. I urge the Senate to confirm his nomination.”
Gifford also has strong ties to the Boston area as his parents, Chad and Anne Gifford, live on the North Shore. Gifford was also honored recently by Greater Boston PFLAG for his work on behalf of the LGBT community.
Although France recently legalized marriage equality one Mayor, Jean-Michel Colo of Arcangues (in Southwestern France) is refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In fact, Colo recently stated that he will “go to the gallows” before officiating a
“I am not discriminating as a same-sex couple is sterile. It’s a parody of equality, it’s a big lie,” Colo said. “When people close the door at home, they do what they want. For me, marriage is for a woman and man to have children.”
Colo rejected a marriage license application from Guy Martineau-Espel and his partner Jean-Michel Martin last week. The couple is planning to sue.
According to French Interior Minster Manuel Valls, Colo could face discrimination charges for refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and penalties including up to five years in jail and a fine approximately $100,000.
“The elected [officials] who do not respect the laws of the republic will risk significant sanctions,” Valls said.
Colo has vowed not to change his mind, saying, “I will go to the gallows.”
Nike has expanded their Be True line of footwear and clothing making the items available for purchase online, previously the line was only available in limited markets.
The line, which features multi-colored sneakers and sandals, among a variety of other items was launched last year in a show of support for the LGBT community. A portion of the profits from sales of Be True items will be donated to the LGBT Sports Coalition, with the aim of ending discrimination in the athletic world.
Jason Collins, who is in talks with Nike regarding coming on as a spokesperson for the campaign, wore the Be True T-Shirt while marching in the recent Boston Pride parade.
Nike is also holding its annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit this week.
The event includes college and professional athletes, coaches, athletic administrators, political figures, LGBT advocates and journalists.
20 year old Jonathan Allen from Lawrenceburg Tennessee made quite an impression on viewers and judges on last night’s America’s Got Talent.
Allen, in a behind the scenes interview, told the story of how his family disowned him at age 18 when he came out as gay. While he said he still loves his parents very much he also has not seen them in more than two years.
After performing Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye,” Allen received a standing ovation from the audience and all four judges. Judge Howie Mandel told the young singer “With your talent, the show has become your family, and we’d like to say, welcome home. We love you, and we accept you.”
Check out Jonathan’s performance below.
Glee star Jane Lynch has announced that she and her wife of three years, Lara Embry, are getting divorced. The couple, who were married in Western Massachusetts, met at a fundraiser in 2009. “I thought she was cute,” Embry told People magazine when she and Lynch married.
“Lara and I have decided to end our marriage. This has been a difficult decision for us as we care very deeply about one another. We ask for privacy as we deal with this family matter,” Lynch told People magazine.
Lynch was also the stepmother to Embry’s daughter Haden. "My greatest pleasure is Haden, my stepdaughter," Lynch told People last March. "I am surprised how much love you feel and how you would do anything for your children."
Lynch, 52, is currently making her Broadway debut in a revival of "Annie." She's portraying the role of Miss Hannigan from May 16 to July 14
It’s been quite a year when it comes to the melding of the lgbt world and sports world. Several current and former players have come out as gay including, former Boston Celtic Jason Collins, WNBA star Brittney Griner, and recently MLS player Robbie Rogers.
On the heels of all of this momentum Nike recently held its second annual ‘Nike LGBT Sports Summit which brought together advocacy groups, athletes, coaches, and journalists to discuss the LGBT community in the world of professional sports.
In addition, New York marketing firm Target 10 has released its list of Top 10 LGBT Sports Cities in the country. The list was compiled by using data such as LGBT population, number of gay sports leagues, number of gay sports bars, as well as a few other data points.
Boston ranked 6th on the list behind Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Atlanta. Rounding out the top 10 were Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and Philadelphia.
In keeping with his administration’s tradition President Obama has released a proclamation that the month of June will be recognized as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.
The proclamation, which can be seen in full HERE, begins by stating, “The story of America's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors who continue the task of making our country a more perfect Union. It is a story about the struggle to realize the great American promise that all people can live with dignity and fairness under the law. Each June, we commemorate the courageous individuals who have fought to achieve this promise for LGBT Americans, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
While President Obama has highlighted progress in his annual proclamations for several years, this is the first year that the Department of Defense has also recognized the month of June as LGBT Pride Month. A statement from the DoD remarks that that "the LGBT community has written a proud chapter in this fundamentally American story by reminding us that integrity and respect remain corner stones of our military and civilian culture."
After going into some detail on all of the advances made on the LGBT front during the recent past the President’s proclamation takes a moment to express confidence in the future stating, "We have a long way to go, but if we continue on this path together, I am confident that one day soon, from coast to coast, all of our young people will look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility," says the proclamation reads. "I am confident because I have seen the talent, passion, and commitment of LGBT advocates and their allies, and I know that when voices are joined in common purpose, they cannot be stopped."
Boston Pride Week launches with a Rainbow Flag-raising ceremony at City Hall at noon on Friday, May 31 (photo: James Lopata)
It's Pride Week again in Boston!
The 2013 festivities commence this coming Friday at noon with the raising of the Rainbow Flag over City Hall.
This year, Thomas Menino hosts the flag raising for the last time as mayor of Boston. Menino is also being honored as a Marshall for the Pride parade on Saturday, June 8.
Below is a rundown of some of the key events happening in conjunction with Boston Pride Week.
For more information on all the events, be sure to check out Boston Pride’s web site at www.bostonpride.org.
Rainbow Flag Raising Ceremony
Friday, May 31 — Boston City Hall
With host Mayor Thomas Menino.
Pride Day at Faneuil Hall
Saturday, June 1 — Boston’s Faneuil Hall
Live music and performances from The Urban Ballet, South End Show Stopperz Dance Team, Crystal Foxx, Rolla and more. Hosted by Raquel Blake. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday June 3 — Machine Nightclub
Lake Mondale and Raquel Blake crown the king and queen of Boston Pride at 7 p.m.
Boston Pride Festival
Saturday June 8 — City Hall Plaza
From noon to 6 p.m. with vendors and live entertainment — including Boston-based headliner Karmin.
Boston Pride Parade
Saturday June 8 — The streets of Boston
Parade starts at 12 p.m., with celebrity marshal Denise Crosby (Star Trek).
ESME Women's Block Party
Saturday, June 8 — 1 Boylston Place
DJ Linda Lowell spins the annual women's favorite. 2 p.m. in the alley at 1 Boylston Place.
Pride Block Party: Back Bay Edition
Sunday, June 9 — St. James Avenue in the Back Bay
Dancing in the streets from noon to 8 p.m.
Pride Block Party: JP Edition
Sunday, June 9 — Perkins Street, Jamaica Plain
Dancing in the streets of JP from noon to 7 p.m.
Fred Phelps Jr., the son of Fred Phelps who leads the Westboro Baptist Church, has tweeted that he believes the tornadoes that recently leveled areas in and around Oklahoma City are the result of Kevin Durant's support of former Celtic Jason Collins. Durant plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA and Collins recently came out as gay.
Durant has also pledged to donate $ million to the recovery efforts in Oklahoma City.
The LGBT Aging Project, New England's premier organization for cultural competency training, programs and advocacy for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) older adults, will become an affiliate of Fenway Health effective July 1, 2013. The LGBT Aging Project will become part of Fenway's research, education and policy division, The Fenway Institute. This new affiliation will reinforce the commitment of both the LGBT Aging Project and Fenway Health to the growing LGBT older adult community.
"The LGBT Aging Project will maintain its mission, identity and staff with the Fenway Institute as our new home, "said Lisa Krinsky, Director of the LGBT Aging Project. "We are excited to join the Fenway family, and to grow our programs to positively impact the lives of larger numbers of LGBT older adults and caregivers. We are equally excited to help Fenway expand their work in LGBT aging."
This affiliation will tightly integrate community-based services, training and advocacy for LGBT older adults with research relevant to the aging LGBT population and access to health care. The resulting synergy will increase visibility for LGBT older adults and their unique social service and health care needs. As part of The Fenway Institute, the LGBT Aging Project will continue to build upon its successes in providing training, capacity-building, and community-based services and collaborate with Fenway faculty and staff to conduct critical research on the LGBT older adult community. This will help sharpen training, outreach and educational efforts at both organizations.
"Fenway is extremely excited by this partnership. As more members of our community reach their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, care and services for LGBT older adults are going to be increasingly important," said Stephen L. Boswell, MD, Fenway Health President and CEO. "We look forward to working with the staff of the LGBT Aging Project on growing their programs and tapping into their expertise to help Fenway better serve our elders."
Founded in 2001 by a group of advocates from both the aging service network and the LGBT community, the LGBT Aging Project is dedicated to ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults have equal access to the life-prolonging benefits, protections, services and institutions that their heterosexual neighbors take for granted. Through LGBT cultural competency training for mainstream elder service providers, community building for LGBT older adults themselves, and civic leadership, the LGBT Aging Project ensures that LGBT older adults can age with the dignity and respect they deserve.
For more than forty years, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. Fenway's Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center cares for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless or living on the streets; struggling with substance use or abuse; sex workers; or living with HIV/AIDS.
Notre Dame de Paris (photo: Tom S. from WikiCommons, public domain)
After ranting against gay marriage in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, conservative author and activist Dominique Venner left a note at the altar and then put a pistol in his mouth and fired it, killing himself, according to the UK Guardian.
The Guardian further reports:
The motive for the suicide and the contents of the letter were not immediately clear, although Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right Front National, tweeted her "respect" for Venner and said his death was an "eminently political" gesture.
Manuel Valls, the French interior minister, arrived as officers cordoned off the site. He told French TV: "At the time of this act, the suicide of a desperate man, there were 1,500 people in the cathedral. These people were evacuated very quickly."
Notre Dame's rector could not recall if anyone had ever taken his or her own life in the cathedral during the building's 850-year history.
Kaitlyn Hunt, an 18 year old high school girl from Florida, has been removed from her school and arrested for "lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 16" after the parents of her 15 year old girlfriend called police. Hunt and the other girl had been dating for almost one year.
"These people (the parent’s of the 15 year old) never came to us as parents, never tried to speak to us... and tell us they had a problem with the girls dating," Kaitlyn Hunt's mother, Kelley Hunt-Smith, wrote on Facebook. "...They were out to destroy my daughter. [They] feel like my daughter 'made' their daughter gay."
“This should have never been a legal matter, it is a family matter. They are trying to send an innocent young girl to prison because they are full of hate and bigotry. These girls are teenagers in high school, who had one mutual consenting sexual experience. My daughter isn’t a criminal, she isn’t a predator. The (other) daughter has said from day one, she cares about my daughter, she never wanted her parents to do this, she was 100% consenting and it was by her own choice that she was with my daughter. She doesn’t want Kate to be punished at all, and feels like they did nothing wrong.”
Originally the Sebastian River High School administration denied the request of the other girl’s parents to have Hunt expelled. A judge’s order also allowed Hunt to stay in the school. That, however, changed when the parents petitioned the school board. The board removed Kaityn from school shortly before she was due to graduate.
The state attorney's office has offered Kaitlyn Hunt a plea deal which includes two years' house arrest and a year of probation.
A Change.org petition urging the Indian River County State Attorney's Office to stop prosecution of Kaitlyn Hunt had drawn more than 30,000 signatures and "Free Kate," a Facebook group supporting the girl had amassed nearly 20,000 followers.
One Million Moms (OMM) is demanding that Disney put a stop to the 23rd annual Gay Day at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom on Saturday, June 1.
OMM is an organization with less than 57,000 likes on Facebook. It is known for its call to boycott of JC Penney last year, after out gay talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres became a spokesperson for the retailer.
The group's latest targeted marketing calls on members to contact Disney's CEO to demand that he end Disney Gay Day.
Disney claims that they have no control over Gay Day or who enters the park on any given day.
Adding interest to the story, Instinct magazine points out that the new president of Disney World, George Kalogridis, is gay.
June 1 Gay Pride Day at Disney
As soon as school lets out at the end of May, many families will plan to take their family vacation right away. Tens of thousands will make reservations in Orlando, Florida, for the first weekend in June. Warning! Not everyone there will be excited, innocent children anticipating a fun weekend at Disney World. The first Saturday in June, homosexuals, bisexuals and transvestites will be at the Magic Kingdom with an agenda and purpose different than what would be expected at Disney.
Homosexuals will be celebrating the 23rd anniversary of Gay Day wearing matching Gay Day merchandise, such as T-shirts. There will also be transvestites dressed in drag showing their support for the event. This event is planned with the intent to expose and desensitize children to this lifestyle by same-sex couples holding hands, hugging and kissing. In short, a Gay Day participant's main goal is to be seen versus seeing Disney World.
In past years when we have contacted Disney representatives about this same issue, their response was simply that they do not sponsor this event.
On June 1, unsuspecting families will witness a well-orchestrated event that Disney says they have no control over. Disney has taken no action to stop this, which leaves families stunned and offended. So instead of a normal day at this popular theme park, parents will be angry at the harm this causes families.
Disney has been irresponsible for far too long. Disney representatives and security need to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere and require proper conduct and dress code on a daily basis.
Parents who have already made travel plans to be in Orlando during this time should make arrangements to visit a park other than the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, June 1.
Please click on the following link to send your email to Disney's CEO and other Disney officials urging the park to no longer "go along" with Gay Day. Disney should monitor this day and event for public displays of affection and require proper conduct and appropriate attire. This should always be policed, but especially on Gay Day.
Delaware became the 11th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage yesterday as Gov. Jack Markell signed a gay marriage bill into law just minutes after its passage by the state Senate.
“I do not intend to make any of you wait one moment longer,” Markell told a group of supporters following the 12-9 Senate vote only half an hour earlier.
“Delaware should be, is and will be a welcoming place to live and love and to raise a family for all who call our great state home,” Markell said.
Under the bill, no new civil unions will be performed in Delaware after July 1, and existing civil unions will be converted to marriages over the next year. The legislation also states that same-sex unions established in other states will be treated the same as marriages under Delaware law.
Lambda Legal, a national gay rights advocacy group, applauded passage of Delaware’s gay marriage bill.
Susan Sommer of Lamba Legal saluted Delaware for joining 10 other states who have legal marriage equality “Today, we celebrate with the thousands of Delaware same-sex couples and their children who will soon be able to have the full recognition and respect accorded to married families,” said Sommer.
Not all in Delaware were happy about the legislation including many in the Catholic Diocese.
“Let’s be careful about the concept of social evolution,” said the Rev. Leonard Klein, a Roman Catholic priest speaking on behalf of the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, which serves more than 200,000 Catholics in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“When you remove male and female from the definition of marriage, all bets are off,” added Klein.
Next up for marriage equality supporters looks to be Minnesota. A bill for marriage equality has already been endorsed by the governor and appears to have enough backing in both the Senate and the House.
Jason Collins played for the Celtics this past year and recently announced that he is gay.
Jamie Collins has yet to start his professional career.
Jamie Collins was introduced to the media and fans of the New England Patriots last week during rookie media day at Gillette Stadium. Jamie was the second round pick of the Patriots in the recently completed NFL draft.
While on hand to introduce Collins, Patriots owner Robert Kraft took a moment to comment on the other Collins in the news these days, Jason Collins.
“My hearty congratulations to him,” Kraft said. And when asked about the possibility of a Patriots player coming out, Kraft responded, “We’re about winning, and [if] someone can come in here and help us win I don’t care what ethnic background, what racial background, what gender preference they have, if they can help us win and they’re about team then I’ll be happy to have them here.”
With the recent passage of the Marriage Equality Act, legalizing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, there are now 10 states allowing for legal same-sex marriages in the U.S., including all 6 New England states.
Now that Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed the Rhode Island bill paving the way for marriage equality in Rhode Island, what is next in line for the marriage equality caravan?
Here are six upcoming states that will be tackling the issue in the near future:
The state’s House recently approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage by a 23-18 vote, the bill will now be voted on in the Senate. Recent polls show that the majority of voters in Delaware support same-sex marriage as does Governor Jack Markell.
The state’s Senate voted in favor of a marriage equality bill in February. The bill is now in the House where it is unclear if there are enough votes to secure passage.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn supports marriage equality
Marriage equality legislation has passed committees in the House and Senate and will now move to the full House and Senate. There is also a civil unions bill up for consideration.
Minnesota Governor Mark Drayton supports marriage equality.
Governor Chris Christie vetoed marriage equality legislation last year and would like the issue to be decided by New Jersey voters.
According to recent polling, if put to a vote, the majority of voters would vote in favor of marriage equality.
In 2004 Oregon voters passed legislation banning same-sex marriages. There is now a movement underway to include a question on the 2014 ballot that would reverse that ban. Among the supporters of including the question is current Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.
The state Senate recently passed a resolution to repeal the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the first step in a long process to legalize marriage equality in Nevada. The measure must be passed by lawmakers this year and in 2015, and then go before voters in 2016 for ratification.
Congressional members of the ‘Gang of Eight’ currently working on new, comprehensive immigration reform, have hit a stumbling block regarding what to do same-sex partners of American citizens.
The immigration bill, concocted by four Democratic Senators, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), as well as four Republican Senators, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), includes provisions for legal immigration for highly skilled immigrants, migrant farm workers and those living here illegally however there are no provisions for same-sex partners of American citizens.
“There’s a reason this language wasn’t included in the Gang of Eight’s bill: It’s a deal-breaker for most Republicans,” said Senator Flake.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has proposed a separate measure that would allow immigrants in long-term same-sex relationships to obtain residency with a green card. Senator Susan Collins of Maine is a co-sponsor of Leahy’s amendment. “Our legislation would simply update our nation’s immigration laws to treat binational, same-sex permanent partners fairly,” said Collins.
According to Senator Rubio, “This immigration bill is difficult enough as it is, if that issue (same-sex partners) is injected into this bill, this bill will fail. It will not have the support. It will not have my support.”
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee will stand on the steps of the Rhode Island State House later today and sign the Marriage Equality Act into law, thus allowing for legal same-sex marriages in Rhode Island. Chafee, elected as an Independent Governor, was formerly a Republican Senator for the state.
Chafee took the occasion of the signing to write an article for the New York Times. In the article he discussed the magnitude of the moment stating, “A historic realignment is happening all around us, as Americans from all walks of life realize that this is the right thing to do. It is occurring both inside and outside of politics, through conversations at the office and over kitchen tables, and at different speeds in different parts of the country. But once the people have spoken, politics should do its part to make the change efficient and constructive.”
He goes on to highlight a rather unique byproduct of signing the Act into law…economic growth. “Many experts have found evidence of a strong correlation between tolerance and prosperity, particularly in high-tech sectors. One of them, the author Richard Florida, has identified the “three T’s” — talent, technology and tolerance — as the fundamental basis for the growth of new economies.”
He continued, “The point is not simply that we are welcoming to gay people, though we are. It is that we want to welcome everyone. The talented workers who are driving the new economy — young, educated and forward-looking — want to live in a place that reflects their values. They want diversity, not simply out of a sense of justice, but because diversity makes life more fun. Why would any state turn away the people who are most likely to create the economies of the 21st century?”
Last week the state legislation voted to advance the Act for the Governor’s signature by a vote of 26 – 12. The majority of Rhode Island citizens favor marriage equality. Once Governor Chafee signs the Act into law Rhode Island will join the other 5 New England states in allowing for same-sex marriage.
As for what Governor Chafee will be thinking when he stands on the State House steps and signs the Act into law…
“I will be thinking of the Rhode Islanders who have fought for decades simply to be able to marry the person they love. I will be thinking of how Rhode Island is upholding its legacy as a place founded on the principles of tolerance and diversity.”
ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard, while appearing on the cable station’s show Outside The Lines, yesterday compared homosexuality and premarital sex to an “open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ.”
Broussard who began his sports writing career for The Plain Dealer before moving to the Akron Beacon Journal where he started covering the NBA. He joined ESPN Magazine in 2004 and started appearing on ESPN shortly thereafter.
While on Outside The Lines (to discuss NBA player Jason Collins' announcement that he is gay) Broussard commented that he doesn’t "believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly ... like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says 'you know them by their fruits.' It says that, you know, that’s a sin."
He went on to say, “if you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality -- adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals -- whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."
Shortly after the program aired ESPN released the following statement:
We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.
The following statement is from Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers on Jason Collins' announcement today:
“I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’s a pro’s pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite “team” players I have ever coached. If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance. One of my favorite sayings is, I am who I am, are whom we are, can be what I want to be its not up to you, it’s just me being me."
Collins, as you can read HERE has announced that he is gay in an article appearing in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. He played for the Celtics this year until being traded to the Washington Wizards for Jordan Crawford
Jason Collins who played for the Boston Celtics this season, prior to being traded to the Washington Wizards for Jordan Crawford, has come out as a gay man in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. Collins cited the recent NBA lockout, the Boston Marathon bombings and his old college roommate, Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, as some of the reasons he decided to make the announcement now.
I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."
Collins also discussed wearing number 98 as a player. He wore the number in reference to 1998, the year Matthew Shepard was killed. Shepard’s murder is one of the best known acts of anti-gay violence in modern times.
Collins has played in the NBA since 2001. He has played for the New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, and Washington Wizards.
Collins twin brother Jarron also played in the NBA.
"There is an irony that the most active anti-gay [groups] are al-Qaeda and the American right-wing," said Barney Frank, in an interview with Buzzfeed about the March 2013 issue of al-Qaeda's Inspire magazine, which features Frank and his husband.
The magazine spread claims that the U.S. has "no values." It cites statistics showing that half of Americans favor marriage equality and features a quote from President Obama where he supports same-sex marriage rights.
More from Buzzfeed:FULL ENTRY
Members of the board overseeing San Francisco Pride have backtracked on their earlier decision to name Bradley Manning, the military intelligence specialist accused of leaking classified information to the website Wikileaks, as a Pride parade Grand Marshal.
"That was an error, and that person has been disciplined. He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride," said SF Pride Board President Lisa Williams
A committee of former San Francisco Pride grand marshals did select the 25-year-old Manning, who is openly gay, for the honor, but the Pride Board decided his nomination would be a mistake, Williams said.
"In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes for Bradley Manning," Williams said. "However, as an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader community, SF Pride repudiates this vote."
While the event's grand marshals are typically celebrated as they wave from convertibles during a downtown San Francisco parade, naming Manning as one was destined to be a symbolic gesture. He is in custody at a military prison in Kansas while he awaits court-martial and would have been unable to attend the June 30 parade.
Rainey Reitman, a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, was excited when Manning was chosen as a Grand Marshal however that excitement proved to be short-lived. "I and many other LGBT Manning supporters are deeply disappointed by this sudden change in position on the part of the committee," Reitman said. "Bradley is a gay American hero who sacrificed a great deal so we could learn the truth about our government, and he was fairly elected to serve as grand marshal in the parade."
On the other hand, the Pride committee’s change of heart was applauded by others.
"Manning's blatant disregard for the safety of our service members and the security of our nation should not be praised," said Stephen Peters, president of American Military Partners Association. The group, which advocates for same-sex military families, had called on the Pride Committee to rescind the invitation.
"No community of such a strong and resilient people should be represented by the treacherous acts that define Bradley Manning," Peters said.
Given that yet another state is on the verge of enacting marriage equality for same-sex couples (Rhode Island) you would think that something as basic as the right for people to work without fear of being fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, would be the law of the land. Right?
Today, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. lawmakers introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which prohibits worker dismissal solely on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, for consideration — again.
Since as far back as 1974 some politicians in U.S. Congress have tried to outlaw employment discrimination for gay, lesbian and bisexual workers, when Bella Abzug introduced the Equality Act that year.
ENDA was first introduced in 1994. Almost every Congress since then has had the bill presented to it for consideration. No Congress has passed it, yet.
This year may be different. According to the The Huffington Post:
... given the public discussion on gay rights over the past year, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), a co-sponsor, told HuffPost he thinks the bill has about as good a shot as ever in the Senate.
"There's a growing recognition that discrimination is wrong" against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Merkley said Thursday. "The same concept that's driving the marriage debate will help drive success on employment discrimination."
Gay marriage now has support from all but three Democratic senators -- Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) -- as well as Republican Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Rob Portman (Ohio). ...
For the ENDA bill, Merkley's co-sponsors include Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), as well as Kirk and fellow Republican Susan Collins (Maine). A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a statement pushing for passage of the act, noting that, "it is perfectly legal to fire lesbian, gay and bisexual people under the laws of 29 states and transgender people are not protected by the laws of 34 states." More from the HRC release:FULL ENTRY
The Rhode Island state Senate voted late this afternoon in favor of a marriage equality bill putting Rhode Island on course to become the tenth U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The full Senate voted 26-12 in favor of the bill, just one day after the Judiciary committee voted 7-4 to advance the measure to the Senate floor.
The Senate also voted 10-28 to defeat a proposed amendment to put the issue to popular vote on the 2014 ballot; that same amendment was rejected by the Judiciary committee on Tuesday.
The Senate had long been seen as the true test for same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, currently the only state in New England without marriage equality.
The bill now returns to the state House for a largely procedural vote on small changes made to the bill on the Senate side. The House previously voted 51-19 in January in favor of the bill.
House Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence), who is gay and a supporter of same-sex marriage, said a final vote could come as early as next week.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an Independent and supporter of same-sex marriage, has promised to sign the bill.
The first marriages could take place Aug. 1, when the legislation would take effect.
Late this afternoon the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 to recommend S38, the marriage equality bill, to the full Senate. This move sets up Rhode Island to join the five other New England states in allowing for same-sex marriages.
positions Rhode Island, the final holdout in New England, to pass marriage equality. This.
The vote on the full floor of the Senate will be tomorrow (Wednesday).
The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed the marriage equality bill earlier this year after a unanimous committee vote and strong bipartisan support. And, earlier this week the Senate Republican Caucus announced that they are unanimous in their support for the bill.
Governor Lincoln Chaffee, a strong supporter of marriage equality in Rhode Island, has already indicated that he will sign the measure once it reaches his desk.
After a months of debate and tempestuous demonstrations on both sides of the issue, French legislators approved civil marriage for same-sex couples, according to the Associated Press. From the report:
France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate and protests that flooded the streets of Paris. Legions of officers and water cannon stood ready near France's National Assembly ahead of the final vote, bracing for possible violence on an issue that galvanized the country's faltering conservative movement. ...
France is the 14th country to legalize gay marriage.
All five of Rhode Island's Senate Republicans say that they unanimously support marriage equality, according to the Associated Press.
The Rhode Island Senate is scheduled to determine whether or not to advance legislation that would legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples today, Tuesday, April 23. According to AP:
The Senate Republican Caucus announced Tuesday that its members will support legislation allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. The senators cite their support for liberty and limited government and say same-sex couples deserve the same marriage rights as anyone.
While the GOP caucus only holds five of the Senate's 38 seats, its support is another indication of the growing support for gay marriage in Rhode Island, now the only New England state that doesn't allow gay marriage.
The bill has already passed the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee will decide Tuesday whether to forward the measure to the full Senate for a debate.
GLAAD held its 24th annual Media Awards in Los Angeles this past week and among the winners was former President Bill Clinton. Clinton, a somewhat controversial choice as he is the President who signed DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell into law, has since committed himself to "keep working on this until not only DOMA is no longer the law of the land, but until all people, no matter where they live, can marry the people they love."
Clinton went on to state, "I believe you will win the DOMA fight and I think you will win the constitutional right to marry, if not tomorrow, then the next day and the next day."
Clinton also touched on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) -- "We still need to pass that. From what you've seen tonight we still need to fight bullying and the right kind of immigration reform that doesn't discriminate against anybody," and on the recent proposal by the Boy Scouts of America to end their ban on gay scouts -- "We're about halfway home on that."
Clinton also took time to thank his daughter, Chelsea, citing that she has a "profound impact on the way I see the world... Chelsea and her gay friends and her wonderful husband have modeled to me the way we ought to all treat each other without regard to our sexual orientation or any other artificial difference that divides us."
More from Clinton’s speech:
"People who oppose equal rights for gays in the marriage sphere are basically acting out of concerns for their own identity not out of respect for anyone else. We are less racist, less sexist, for all the problems, we're far less homophobic than we used to be, but we have a new bigotry in America. Apparently, we don't want to be around anyone who disagrees with us about anything...Whenever we turn away from treating someone with the dignity and honor and respect we would want accorded to ourselves, we have to face the fact that it's about to us and we're afraid we wouldn't be us if we couldn't hold on to this, that, and the other little box that doesn't make any sense in a world we're all crashing together in."
"The whole story of the life of our country, of a more perfect union, is to widen the circle of opportunity, to strengthen and enhance the reach of freedom and cement the bonds of community as it gets ever more diverse. Don't you let anyone tell you otherwise. You have made this a better, a more interesting, and a more well-prepared country for the future. We need you fully-armed for the continued struggle for equality. You are the agents of change."
The Boy Scouts of America Executive Committee has proposed a resolution that would establish a nondiscrimination policy ending the longstanding discriminatory ban on gay Scouts, but has kept a policy that discriminates against gay and lesbian parents and Scout leaders. The resolution, which proposes a policy that, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” is national in scope, as opposed to a previous approach that would have allowed local sponsoring organizations to make their own decisions.
The resolution will face a vote by 1,400 leaders of the Boy Scouts of America during the National Council Meeting, May 22-24.
“It is good news that BSA leadership is open to ending the ban on gay Scouts, but this resolution must go further,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans. What message does this resolution send to the gay Eagle Scout who, as an adult, wants to continue a lifetime of scouting by becoming a troop leader?”
Unanswered in the resolution is the issue of employment discrimination by BSA. Currently, the BSA job application for “professional commission” explicitly says gays need not apply. The application, which comes from the BSA’s national office and appears to be in use across the country, reads: "The Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals.”
New Zealand became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to allow same-sex couples the right to civil marriage, according to the Associated Press via NYTimes.com. From the report:
Hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates celebrated at New Zealand's Parliament as the country become the thirteenth in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.
Lawmakers voted 77 to 44 Wednesday night in favor of the gay-marriage bill.
Out, gay Boston police officer and LGBT Boston Police Department Liaison Javier Pagan on the cover of Sports Ilustrated, on the right. (photo: from Sports Illustrated Facebook page)
Out, gay Boston police officer and LGBT Boston Police Department Liaison Javier Pagan is on the cover of the current issue of Sports Illustrated.
The cover photograph captures Pagan and two fellow police officers racing into action to help a fallen marathon runner after the explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Pagan joined the Boston police force in 1995 and is a long-time member of the Gay Officer's Action League (GOAL), according to his Facebook page. The Greater Boston Business Council (GBBC), Boston's LGBT chamber of commerce, gave him an Award for Excellence for outstanding service in 2005.
The already iconic photo is making the rounds on Facebook and other social media platforms.
The Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing funerals of military veterans, victims of terrorist attacks, and the victims of the Newtown school shooting has weighed in on yesterday’s marathon bombings.
Westboro, based in Kansas, tweeted: “BREAKING: Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals of those dead by Boston Bombs! GOD SENT THE BOMBS IN FURY OVER FAG MARRIAGE! #PraiseGod.”
Another tweet, referring to the Ellen DeGeneres Show, said:
“Everyone can give a big thanks to the likes of @TheEllenShow in supporting same-sex marriage – THAT is the reason GOD SENT BOSTON BOMBS!”
The group came into the spotlight in 1998, for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was killed in a homophobic attack in Wyoming.
In 2005, Westboro began its campaign of picketing the funerals of fallen US troops.
The church also blamed homosexuality for the Newton massacre in Connecticut where 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook elementary school in December.
Ireland’s constitutional convention has voted to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Members of the convention (which is comprised of one third politicians and two thirds citizens) were overwhelmingly in favor of allowing same-sex marriage with 79 percent recommending that the constitution be amended to allow for marriage equality. The convention's recommendation will now be sent to the Government, which has pledged to hold a debate and respond within four months.
As for what form the constitutional change will take, there are two options, a directive amendment ("the State shall enact laws providing for same-sex marriage") or a permissive amendment ("the State may enact laws providing for same-sex marriage").
78 percent of the convention’s members voted for a directive amendment.
Asked what form the constitutional change should take 78 percent of members voted for a directive amendment while 17 percent opted for a permissive amendment
The members also voted in favor of recommending that the State pass laws "incorporating changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children".
"It is a major milestone on the remarkable journey to full constitutional protection for lesbian and gay people and families in Ireland," said Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) director Brian Sheehan. "It builds on the extraordinary progress we have achieved over the last 20 years, and clearly demonstrates that Ireland is ready to take the next step to complete that remarkable journey."
A spokesman for the Catholic Communications Office said: "While the result of the constitutional convention is disappointing, only the people of Ireland can amend the constitution. The Catholic church will continue to promote and seek protection for the uniqueness of marriage between a woman and a man, the nature of which best serves children and our society."
DC Comics, who introduced openly gay and lesbian superheroes last year, has taken lgbt inclusion a step further with their first ever transgender character.
Alysia Yeoh is the roommate of Batgirl Barbara Gordon in DC’s relaunched Batgirl series. In the newly-released Batgirl #19, Alysia – who is also bisexual – comes out to Barbara as a transgender woman.
Over the past year DC has presented several gay and lesbian characters including
Batwoman, Northstar and Green Lantern Alan Scott.
“I looked out into the audience (at the Wondercon Convention), saw dozens of faces I knew well — LGBTQ folks, mostly — all avid comics readers and superhero fans and DC supporters,” writer Gail Simone told Wired magazine. “And it just hit me: Why was this so impossible? Why in the world can we not do a better job of representation of not just humanity, but also our own loyal audience?”
She went on to state, “Look, we have a problem most media don’t have, which is that almost all the tentpoles we build our industry upon were created over a half century ago… at a time where the characters were almost without exception white, cis-gendered, straight, on and on. It’s fine — it’s great that people love those characters. But if we only build around them, then we look like an episode ofThe Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.”
Simone wanted to have “trans characters who aren’t fantasy-based,” noting that Alysia will be a “a character, not a public service announcement… being trans is just part of her story.”
Simone hints that she’s working on a transgender character for another comic and would like to see a trans character take center stage. “It’s time for a trans hero in a mainstream comic.”
The National Hockey League, and the NHL players association, has announced a partnership with the You Can Play Project.
You Can Play, launched in Boston by Patrick Burke, is an advocacy group that fights homophobia in sports. Burke, son of former NHL executive Brian Burke, started the You Can Play Project after his brother Brendan was killed in a car accident several years ago. Brendan was an athlete and student manager at Miami University for the men's ice hockey team and made international headlines for coming out, advocating for tolerance and speaking out against homophobia in professional sports.
Speaking on the partnership Burke stated, "The NHL sets the standard for professional sports when it comes to LGBT outreach and we are incredibly grateful for their help and support. We will work with League and NHLPA officials, teams and players to ensure that we create a more inclusive hockey community at all levels."
Said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "Our motto is 'Hockey Is For Everyone,' and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way. While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, we are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players' Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands."
"NHL players have supported the You Can Play Project since its inception, which we are pleased to formalize and expand upon with today's announcement," said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. "The players believe our partnership with the NHL and You Can Play will foster an inclusive hockey environment from the grassroots level to the professional ranks."
The partnership includes a significant commitment to education and training for teams, players, media and fans plus the production and broadcast of more public service announcements.
"As NHL players, we all strive to contribute towards helping our teams achieve success on the ice. Any player who can help in those efforts should be welcomed as a teammate," said Ron Hainsey, Winnipeg Jets defenseman and NHLPA Executive Board member. "This partnership solidifies the message that the hockey community believes in fairness and equality for everyone."
You Can Play will conduct seminars at the NHL's rookie symposium to educate young prospects on LGBT issues. In addition, You Can Play will make its resources and personnel available to each individual team as desired.
The NHLPA and NHL also will work with You Can Play to integrate the project into their Behavioral Health Program, enabling players to confidentially seek counseling or simply ask questions regarding matters of sexual orientation.
Out Magazine has released its annual Power List of the Top 50 most powerful “gay men and women whose power and prestige is instrumental in influencing the way Americans think about, and engage with, the world.”
The list is cross-section of personalities from the worlds of business (Megan Smith from Google, Robert Hanson from American Eagle Outfitters, Tom Cook from Apple), politics (Congressman David Cicilline, Senator Tammy Baldwin, New York City Councilor Christine Quinn) and entertainment (Neil Patrick Harris, Andrew Cohen, Jane Lynch).
New comers to the top 10 include the darling on the 2012 presidential election “statistics guru” Nate Silver and musician Frank Ocean who came out last summer. You can see the entire list HERE. The Top 10 are below.
10 Frank Ocean
9. Tammy Baldwin
8. Shepard Smith
7. Peter Thiel
6. Nate Silver
5. Anderson Cooper
4. Rachel Maddow
3. Ryan Murphy
2. Ellen DeGeneres
1. Tim Cook
An e-mail from a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel warns officers to be on guard for soldiers affiliated "Domestic 'hate groups'," according to Fox News.
In the communication, the Family Research Council, Westboro Baptist Church, and American Family Association are listed as "Associated Anti-Gay Groups."
Fox News commentator Todd Starnes writes:
A group of Army officers were advised to monitor soldiers who belong to what they considered to be anti-gay, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration organizations, according to a military email obtained by Fox News. ...FULL ENTRY
The email was sent by a lieutenant colonel at Fort Campbell in Kentucky to three dozen subordinates – warning them to be on the lookout for any soldiers who might be members of “domestic hate groups.”
At 1 p.m. today, a hearing will be held on Beacon Hill to discuss the possibility of creating an LGBT Elder Commission in Massachusetts.FULL ENTRY
Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, in an interview with the Des Moines Register, has predicted that the Supreme Court won’t “make the same mistake in the (current marriage equality) cases as they did in Roe v. Wade. I’m hopeful the Supreme Court learned its lesson about trying to predict where the American public is going on issues and trying to find rights in the Constitution that sit with the fancy of the day.”
Santorum went on to say that there is “an increasing mood” on supporting gay marriage, but “it is not a well thought-out position by the American public.”
When asked about the current surge of politicians who support marriage equality, including several Republicans, Santorum likened the situation to the abortion debate that took place in the 70s as Roe v. Wade came before the court. “I’m sure you could go back and read stories, oh, you know, ‘The Republican party’s going to change. This is the future.’ Obviously that didn’t happen,” Santorum said. “I think you’re going to see the same stories written now and it’s not going to happen. The Republican party’s not going to change on this issue. In my opinion it would be suicidal if it did.”
Local website Barstool Sports, long known for its sophomoric brand of humor, exploitation of women, and anti-lgbt rants is at it again.
In a post on the site, a writer known as elpresidente has posted a piece in which he comments on the opening of Boston Chops, a new steakhouse located in the South End.
Among other things, the writer claims that "everybody knows gays don’t eat meat. Like aren’t 80% of gayballs vegetarians?" And goes on to state, "Bottomline is men eat steak. Big burly men like me. Powerful men. Not gayballs."
Finishing the post with, "Steak is for heteros."
As homophobic rants go, this one is pretty weak and not particularly original. And judging by the crowds at Boston Chops recently it looks like the restaurant is doing just fine without elpresidente and his big burly friends.
According to Brendon Ayanbadejo, who was recently cut by the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League, a “handful of players” currently in the league are discussing coming out as gay. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Ayanbadejo said it will happen “sooner than you think,’” stating, "We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.”
"Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It's cool. It's exciting. We're in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We'll see what happens."
Ayanbadejo ,along with Minnesota Viking punter Chris Kluwe, has been an outspoken leader within the NFL for lgbt rights including marriage equality. Although he is no longer playing he plans on continuing his activism and working with the NFL to make the league a more inclusive place. "The NFL wants to be proactive about what's going on with players and some of the remarks and incidents that have been happening with the LGBT community,” he said. “The NFL wants me to talk to the rookie class and they are talking about potentially having talks with all the guys about LGBT sensitivity. I think all the major sports groups need to be productive and take a stance.”
"Everyone has a relative or friend that's in the LGBT community, whether it's (former NFL commissioner) Paul Tagliabue's son or people in the Ravens organization who have relatives in the LGBT community. There are a lot of opportunities opening up, but I had nothing scheduled because I had been anticipating playing. I knew there was a possibility that I could be released. I have no regrets. I wouldn't change a single thing. It's been a good ride. If the Ravens call me in training camp, so be it. If not, I'll still be busy with a lot of great things."
Finally, Ayanbadejo thanked his fans in Baltimore and across the country.
"The Ravens have a ton of gay and lesbian fans nationwide and in the city of Baltimore," Ayanbadejo said. "I get a ton of supportive emails and letters. It's pretty cool. We have blue-collar fans, a diverse set of blue-collar fans, a diaspora of great people.”
Accused of ‘comical’ methodology, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group is taking heat from cities for its new Municipal Equality Index’s narrow focus on laws and policy and ‘one size fits all scoring’
Note: This article first appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.
By Scott Kearnan
The inaugural edition of this now-annual study examined municipal policies in 137 cities nationwide, and awarded points for criteria that ranged from employment non-discrimination laws to school anti-bullying initiatives. Based on its findings, the MEI ranked the LGBT-inclusiveness of each municipality on a point scale of 0 (that’s bad) to 100 (that’s good). Overall, New England fared fairly well: Boston and Cambridge were two of only 11 cities that scored a full 100 points. Hartford, Connecticut scored a solid 95, and Providence, Rhode Island received a so-so 76.
But other New England locales rated by the MEI, including several spots widely considered gay enclaves, received poor rankings. Provincetown scored just 59, Northampton 64, and Montpelier 68. Augusta, Maine received a 67, and Concord, New Hampshire received the region’s lowest score at 53. Yikes. New England prides itself as being a progressive region for LGBT people — yet if these were class grades, some of our prized pupils would have flunked the test.
That has many New Englanders steaming mad. They say the HRC study fails to accurately reflect LGBT life. Its methodology, they argue, applies cookie-cutter criteria without regard to the unique infrastructural realities of certain communities.
One critic is Provincetown’s Val Marmillion. Marmillion runs a national PR firm that works with the town’s tourism office, but he also has a personal connection to P’town; he has a home there, co-owns retail store The Little Red with his partner Juan Pisani, and is highly active in the local community. He takes exception with a study that would rank the LGBT-inclusiveness of Provincetown below that of, say, Albuquerque.
“This study did not apply key research or logic to its methodology to arrive at this outcome,” says Marmillion, who has extensive experience analyzing data for local government organizations; his firm has done strategic planning work for the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities. He says many pro-gay policies rewarded by the MEI are moot in Provincetown, where LGBT life is simply an established part of the social fabric. “I give credit to the HRC for stimulating conversation,” says Marmillion of the report. “But there is an almost comical lack of understanding of the threshold question: Where did these communities begin?”FULL ENTRY
Minnesota Vikings Punter, and staunch lgbt ally, Chris Kluwe has penned a brilliant Op-Ed for CNN regarding the prospect of an NFL player coming out as gay. Kluwe say, among other things that “There are millions of people across America who work with gay co-workers every day, and they handle their business without riotous orgies consuming the work environment. In the extremely unlikely event that a gay player harasses you? We have an HR department. File a complaint, just the way a female employee would if you harassed her.”
He discusses the many reasons that he felt compelled to write the column in the first place, including , “so that coaches, managers, players, owners and fans realize that the first gay player who comes out won't spontaneously cause rainbows to erupt out of everyone's rear.” And because he feels that “it's not right that professional sports, and especially the professional sports media, have created an environment where gay players are willing to hide essential components of themselves as human beings in order to pursue their dreams, in order to not be a distraction.”
Kluwe, along with former Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo, have been outspoken in their support of the lgbt community and their support for any professional athlete who is gay and is thinking of coming out of the closet.
Kluwe closes his piece with some supportive words of advice for any athlete struggling with hiding his/her sexuality stating, “You are a teammate, a friend, and you do not have to sacrifice who you are for the team to win, no matter what anyone else says.”
See Kluwe’s full column below:
"Don't be a distraction." These words are pounded into every single NFL player's head from the day he enters the league until the day he leaves (and I would imagine it holds true for just about every professional sport).
The same message, over and over and over -- "The team comes first," "Sacrifice your personal goals to win," "Only be judged by what goes on between the lines" -- which is why I find it unsurprising that there are no openly gay athletes in any of the big four professional sports leagues in the U.S.: the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.
The message is pushed on us so hard, in fact, that players run the very real risk of losing their jobs if the team deems them too much of a distraction, and unfortunately it seems gay players feel that being comfortable with who they are has to take second place to keeping their jobs.
This isn't right.
It's not right that professional sports, and especially the professional sports media, have created an environment where gay players are willing to hide essential components of themselves as human beings in order to pursue their dreams, in order to not be a distraction. It's not right that our insatiable lust for sports coverage creates an atmosphere where someone would willingly subordinate his life to a backward and bigoted worldview in order to stay employed.
It's not right that we can't just accept someone for who he is.
Why do people care so much about someone else's sexuality? Why do people give two s***s how someone else lives his life? Why do people have this absolutely idiotic notion that being gay has any sort of effect on how well a player can play football, or basketball, or baseball? Why the f*** do I even have to write this column for a major news organization to talk about something that shouldn't even remotely be a factor in sports?
Well, the reason is simple. I'm writing this because no gay player is currently out, and the first gay player who eventually does come out needs to know that -- despite all the indoctrination from the league about not being a distraction -- if he's the one to take the first step, he will have allies. He will have support. He will have those of us who realize that people's sexuality doesn't define who they are, just as their jobs don't define who they are, and that guys who bring our wives and children to games and team events are no different than those who would bring their husbands and children.
Most importantly, I'm writing this so that coaches, managers, players, owners and fans realize that the first gay player who comes out won't spontaneously cause rainbows to erupt out of everyone's rear.
In professional sports, the players on a team are a team. We eat together. We practice together. We watch film together, and we succeed or fail together. We see each other more than our own families during the season. To think that a gay player is suddenly going to destroy all that because he's out is asinine.
The idea that a gay player will be a distraction needs to change.
Coaches, administrative personnel -- will an openly gay player bring extra attention? Maybe, but guess what -- there's a whole bunch of other crap that happens during the season every year, anything from sexting to arrests to profane letters, and somehow we've managed to find a way through it each time without the entire edifice of football collapsing into ruin.
Instead of looking at an openly gay player as a distraction, ask yourselves -- how much better would that player play if he didn't have to worry about hiding a core part of who he is? How many more sacks would he have, free of that pressure? How many more receptions? How many more rushing yards?
Fans, media -- will an openly gay player be a distraction? Only if you make it one. Only if you insist on denying someone the freedom to live his own life on his own terms, instead of under someone else's control. Stop worrying about who a player dates; worry about his completion percentage, or tackles for loss, or return average. I can promise you, on Sundays the only thing he's worried about is lining up and doing his job to the best of his ability, or else he's going to be cut (just like any of us).
Players -- Those of you worried about a gay teammate checking out your ass in the shower, or hitting on you in the steam room, or bringing too much attention to the team -- I have four simple words for you. Grow the f*** up. This is our job, we are adults, so would you kindly act like one?
There are millions of people across America who work with gay co-workers every day, and they handle their business without riotous orgies consuming the work environment. In the extremely unlikely event that a gay player harasses you? We have an HR department. File a complaint, just the way a female employee would if you harassed her. If the media want to ask you about a gay teammate? He's a teammate, and you're focused on winning -- together. As a team.
And finally, to the gay player who does eventually come out, whoever that brave individual happens to be -- will you have to deal with media attention, with heightened scrutiny? Yes. Despite everything Brendon, Scott, myself, and all your other allies do, despite all the articles we write and interviews we give, despite the growing acceptance across this entire country, there are going to be people who insist on looking at you through the lens of your sexuality, and not at your skills as a football player. But you know what? All of us understand the truth.
You are a teammate, a friend, and you do not have to sacrifice who you are for the team to win, no matter what anyone else says.
You are not a distraction.
Republican Senator Mark Kirk, Illinois, has announced his support for marriage equality today. Kirk joins fellow Senator Tom Carper (Democrat, Delaware) who made a similar announcement today.
The addition of these two Senators to the ‘pro-marriage equality’ group in the Senate means that, for the first time, half of the United States Senate supports marriage equality. Both Kirk and Carper represent states where legislatures are currently considering marriage equality bills.
In a message posted to his blog, Kirk explained how he came to his decision to support marriage equality, "When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others. Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage," he wrote. "Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back -- government has no place in the middle."
Kirk joins Senator Rob Portman of Ohio as the only two Republican Senators who publicly support marriage equality.
Carper used his Facebook page to announce his support of marriage equality:
As our society has changed and evolved, so too has the public's opinion on gay marriage – and so has mine. I pray every day for God to grant me the wisdom to do what is right. Through my prayers and conversations with my family and countless friends and Delawareans, I've been reminded of the power of one of my core values: the Golden Rule. It calls on us to treat others as we want to be treated. That means, to me, that all Americans ultimately should be free to marry the people they love and intend to share their lives with, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that's why today, after a great deal of soul searching, I'm endorsing marriage equality.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, appearing on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, said that gays are “entitled to friendship,” but not sexual love or marriage.
Dolan also said that the church “is not anti-anybody,” and that it needs to do a better job conveying that message.
When asked by Stephanopoulos to respond to gays and lesbians looking to get married in church, Dolan said, "Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, 'I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship.' But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally. We gotta be – we gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that."
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski , in an interview with ESPN Radio on Wednesday, said he would accept a gay teammate saying “If that’s How they are, that’s how they are.”
In the interview with Stephen A. Smith and RyenRuocco, Gronkowski said, "You've got to accept the player. Everyone has their own ways to live their life and as long as he's respecting me, keeping distance, respecting myself, I'll respect him back.”
"If he's being a great teammate and he's a guy on the field doing a great job, well then you've got nothing to complain about. He's another teammate and another friend."
As a follow up Gronkowski was asked if he thought other players in the NFL feel the same way he does. "I'm not really sure," he replied. "I never went around asking players on my team or in the NFL, 'Hey, what would you think if someone on our team is gay? How would you take it?' I never thought of that, and never asked anyone that and never tried to find out if there is [a gay player] on the team.
"If someone is on my team and they are a great teammate and a great player on the field, helping the team win -- that's all you've got to ask for."
The interview comes on the heels of a report this week from Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com in which Freeman states that a current NFL player is “strongly considering” coming out publicly in the next few months. Freeman bases conclusion on a series of interviews that he has had with several current and former NFL players.
According to Freeman's report the player is not worried about the reaction from inside the locker room but is more concerned about the reaction from outside of the locker room…from the public.
From Freeman's article:
This player's true concern, I'm told, is not the reaction inside an NFL locker room but outside of it. The player fears he will suffer serious harm from homophobic fans, and that is the only thing preventing him from coming out. My sources will not say who this alleged player is.
Bay Windows, a weekly newspaper serving the area’s lgbt community, has launched a new, non-traditional, model for increasing its revenue. The 30 year old weekly is turning to its readers.
In an article in this week’s edition a letter written by co-publishers Sue O’Connell and Jeff Coakley points out that “the dynamic of how newspapers make money has changed. While community newspapers like ours fight for ad dollars, readers demand more from our publication. Bay Windows is exploring additional revenue models to meet this demand.”
The letter goes on to state, “We (Bay Windows) request your financial support. We believe a viable model to bring the revenue needed to improve Bay Windows is a mix of advertising revenue and voluntary financial contributions from you, our readers.”
Bay Windows is distributed every Thursday and is free of charge. It has been a pillar in the lgbt community since 1983 and received national attention in the recent Presidential election for its coverage on Mitt Romney when Mr. Romney served as the Governor of Massachusetts.
According to the donation page supporters can donate anywhere from $25 - $1,000.
Read the full letter below:
Bay Windows has been proud to serve the New England LGBT community since 1983. Bay Windows has always been a free publication, and our online website has always been free.
For the past thirty years, our newspaper and website have been advertiser supported. How much news we can cover, how many pages we can print or post, how many papers and how many locations we can deliver, has been determined by the revenue from the advertisements that appeared in our publications.
The dynamic of how newspapers make money has changed. While community newspapers like ours fight for ad dollars, readers demand more from our publication. Bay Windows is exploring additional revenue models to meet this demand.
Some publications, including The New York Times and The Boston Globe are moving to a reader-funded models for their online content. Jeff and I never want to put any of our content behind a paywall—there should be as few barriers as possible between those in need and the information about our LGBT community.
We request your financial support. We believe a viable model to bring the revenue needed to improve Bay Windows is a mix of advertising revenue and voluntary financial contributions from you, our readers.
Bay Windows turns 31 this year. Will you pledge your support for the upcoming year by contributing funds? Your contribution will help us keep the website and paper free and improve our coverage.
Please, if you are able, we welcome your support and ask you to spread the word.
Please note - your contribution is not tax deductible.
Is Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly pro marriage equality?
Judging by his comments to fellow Fox anchor Megyn Kelly this week it would appear that he is. O’Reilly stated that he didn’t "feel that strongly one way or another" about gay marriage. "I want all Americans to be happy," he said, adding, "I live in New York. New York is fine with it." He also stated that he felt that decisions regarding marriage equality should be left to the states.
In response to Kelly’s statement that pro-marriage equality proponents have been very convincing as opposed to their opponents, O’Reilly agreed, stating, "I agree with you 100 percent. The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals. That is where the compelling argument is. We're Americans, we just want to be treated like everybody else. That's a compelling argument, and to deny that you've got to have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn't been able to do anything but thump the Bible." He finished by adding that the bible thumping approach was not a basis on which to enact public policy.
In the past O’Reilly has argues that legalized marriage equality would lead to polygamous marriage and has asked if people “should be allowed to marry turtles” if they want.
Jenna Wolfe, weekend anchor for the Today show, has announced that she and girlfriend Stephanie Gosk, a news correspondent for NBC, are expecting a baby.
“This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to us,” Wolfe told PEOPLE exclusively in its new issue. “But I don’t want to bring my daughter into a world where I’m not comfortable telling everyone who I am and who her mother is.” Added Gosk, “The beauty is that we live in a time where there’s no need for secrecy. This is a spectacular moment for us.”
Wolfe made the announcement on NBC’s morning show Wednesday, saying, “I’m quite pregnant, actually.” The baby is due in August. Wolfe has also started a blog in which she will post stories related to the pregnancy and allow her fans to follow along in the process.
It's the month 5 B.C. (Before Childbirth, as in 5 months before I give beautiful birth), and I'm sitting down to share what's been brewing on my mind lately. I assume that by the time 5 A.D. comes around. (After Delivery, as in 5 months after this little kicker comes out) the following will be nothing more than a barrel of laughs. But for now, it's taking up a lot of real estate in my daily life.
Of all the jaw-dropping, head-turning and eye-popping things I've ever told my friends and family ("I swam with killer sharks," "I jet-packed 30 feet out of the water," "I scaled the tallest building in Canada"), nothing garnered more shock and awe (and, yes, some tears) than when I told people I was pregnant.
Just writing those words -- "I'm pregnant" -- is surreal to me. After all, I was never the kid that ran around playing house. I never had daydreams about being a mom and raising a family. I was the kid who jumped out of trees and skinned my knees and taunted bees. As a kid, I would have chosen raising my adrenaline over raising children any day of the week. But then a funny thing happened on my way to adulthood … I grew up. I ran smack into the old nursery rhyme: "First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes Jenna pushing a baby carriage." Granted, things aren't falling into that exact order. (And are they still called carriages? Aren't they strollers? Clearly I have a lot to learn.)
But while my life didn't quite unfold as rhymed, it's awfully close. How close? My girlfriend, Stephanie Gosk, and I are expecting a baby girl the end of August
Stephanie, a foreign correspondent here at NBC, spent years in war-torn countries, risking life and limb in the most dangerous places on earth to tell amazing stories. Ever since I can remember, I've been a thrill-seeking, dare deviling, adventure-hopping, fearless chick who enjoys the rush of life. Between the two of us, we've seen and we've done more than most will in a lifetime. And yet both of us agree that THIS little girl will be the biggest and best adventure of our lives.
What is it with all the red equal symbols flooding Facebook and other social media?
The Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) popular logo, which features a yellow equals sign in a blue box, was redesigned in red. HRC Director of Marketing Anastasia Khoo explained the significance of the color choice in a press release. “By harnessing the passion that equality supporters feel for the freedom of loving and committed couples to marry, the internet is awash in a sea of red – the color of love,” said Khoo.
The symbol caught on quickly and has been spottedon many notables' Facebook pages. According to HRC, "U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., announced his support of marriage equality for the first time by changing his Facebook profile image to HRC’s red equal sign and many other public officials have followed suit."
Others featuring the symbol in their social media communications include U.S. Senators Chris Coons, Al Franken, Mazie Hirono, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Menendez, Chris Murphy, Patty Murray, Bernie Sanders, Brian Schatz, Jean Shaheen, Jon Tester, Mark Warner and Elizabeth Warren, as well as celebrities like Sophia Bush, George Takei, Tegan & Sara and Lance Bass, according to HRC.
HRC released a statement about the symbol that included information about its provenance and its rapid distribution:
As part of HRC’s robust social media efforts around the two cases before the Supreme Court, the red logo launched on the HRC Facebook page at 1:00pm ET Monday and the original image has been shared more than 100,000 times and created upwards of 10 million impressions in all 50 states – not including countless user-created versions. ...
Many variants have popped up as a meme all over the web, such as images of the symbol with the Statue of Liberty kissing Justice, Lantern, Ernie and Bert, the first landing on the moon, Mark Rothko, Fenway Health, Yoda, Peanuts, Les Miserables, and a thank you.
Below are a few.FULL ENTRY
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenging California’s Proposition 8 that revoked same-sex couples’ ability to marry in the state.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defender’s (GLAD) Civil Rights Project Director Mary Bonauto, who successfully argued for the right of same-sex couples to marry in Massachusetts, had this to say in an e-mail to supporters:
Today I had the privilege to sit in the nation's highest court and hear the clearly articulated argument that there is no justification for a state to exclude gay and lesbian Americans from the respect and dignity of marriage. ...
Attorney Ted Olson keenly made the case for equality on behalf of the California plaintiffs and gay and lesbian people everywhere - and the Justices engaged the question fairly and respectfully.
We know, and the Court has heard, that momentum - and the basic fairness and commitment to equality of the American people - are on our side. Poll after poll shows that a growing majority of Americans support the right of everyone to marry the person they love.
It is not a question of if, but when, this right will be extended to all gay and lesbian people across the country.
Tomorrow [Wednesday], the Court will hear about thousands of already married loving, committed same-sex couples - couples whose marriages are respected and celebrated by their families, friends, faith communities and the states they call home. Couples like those I'm so proud to represent in our two cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Gill v. OPM and Pedersen v. OPM.
My friend and colleague Robbie Kaplan will show the Court - on behalf of her client Edie Windsor, and all of us - that there is no justifiable reason for the federal government to discriminate against these marriages as it now does with DOMA.
I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts after yet another historic day.
We truly have much to celebrate, and much work to continue.
GLAD's Executive Director Lee Swislow released this statement:FULL ENTRY
Rally for marriage equality at the Massachusetts State House on June 14, 2007 (photo: James Lopata)
The United States Supreme Court begins hearing arguments concerning marriage rights for same-sex couples tomorrow, Tuesday, morning.
Massachusetts, the birthplace of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the U.S., is rising to the occasion with rallies and other activities.
Tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, a rally in favor of marriage equality is scheduled at 3 p.m. near the Government Center T stop at City Hall Plaza. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is scheduled to speak along with Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality; Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD); Tim Coco, a Haverhill businessman who cannot sponsor his Brazilian spouse for residency under DOMA; State Rep. Carl Sciortino; and others. Already, several hundred have indicated on the rally's Facebook page that they will attend.FULL ENTRY
On Wednesday this week Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, told investors that if they had a problem with the company’s decision to publicly support marriage equality they could sell their stock and go elsewhere.
The exchange took place at Starbucks’ annual meeting when a shareholder named Tom Strobar described Starbucks’ first-quarter performance as disappointing, and suggested the results were due, in part, to a boycott by the National Organization for Marriage.
“In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earrings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing,” Strobhar said.
This prompted Schultz to reply that the company’s stance on marriage equality had nothing to do with earnings but were about “respecting diversity.” He went on to state, “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.” Schultz’s statement was met by loud applause from those in attendance.
For 2012, Starbucks delivered a 14 percent increase in net revenues over the prior year, reaching a record $13.3 billion. The company returned approximately $1.1 billion to shareholders through share repurchases and dividend payments.
In February, Starbucks joined nearly 300 other companies in filing a brief calling on theU.S. Supreme Court to overturn a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.
Folk singer Michelle Shocked, who made headlines earlier this week for her spontaneous anti-gay rant during a show in San Francisco, and the subsequent fall out from the rant, has issued an apology...of sorts.
During the show, at club Yoshi, Shocked stated “If someone would be so gracious as to please tweet out, ‘Michelle Shocked just said from stage, God hates faggots.’ Would you do it now?” among other anti-gay sentiments (the audio can be heard HERE).
In a statement distributed by her publicist yesterday the singer has attempted to distance herself from the rant.
I do not, nor have I ever, said or believed that God hates homosexuals (or anyone else). I said that some of His followers believe that. I believe intolerance comes from fear, and these folks are genuinely scared. When I said “Twitter that Michelle Shocked says “God hates faggots,” I was predicting the absurd way my description of, my apology for, the intolerant would no doubt be misinterpreted. The show was all music, and the audience tweets said they enjoyed it. The commentary came about ten minutes later, in the encore. And to those fans who are disappointed by what they’ve heard or think I said, I’m very sorry: I don’t always express myself as clearly as I should. But don’t believe everything you read on facebook or twitter. My view of homosexuality has changed not one iota. I judge not. And my statement equating repeal of Prop 8 with the coming of the End Times was neither literal nor ironic: it was a description of how some folks – not me – feel about gay marriage.
The show, and the rant, was spontaneous. As for those applauding my so-called stance that “God Hates Faggots,” I say they should be met with mercy, not hate. And I hope that what remains of my audience will meet that intolerance with understanding, even of those who might hate them.
Folks wonder about my sexuality, but denying being gay is like saying I never beat my husband. My sexuality is not at issue. What is being questioned is my support for the LGBT community, and that has never wavered. Music and activism have always been part of my work and my journey, which I hope and intend to continue. I’d like to say this was a publicity stunt, but I’m really not that clever, and I’m definitely not that cynical.
But I am damn sorry. If I could repeat the evening, I would make a clearer distinction between a set of beliefs I abhor, and my human sympathy for the folks who hold them. I say this not because I want to look better. I have no wish to hide my faults, and – clearly – I couldn’t if I tried.
That statement was followed by a second:
I believe in a God who loves everyone, and my faith tells me to do my best to also love everyone. Everyone: gay or straight, stridently gay, self-righteously faithful; left or right, far left, far right; good, bad, or indifferent. That’s the law: everyone.
I may disagree with someone’s most fervently held belief, but I will not hate them. And in this controversy, that means speaking for Christians with opinions I in no way share about homosexuality. Will I endorse them? Never. Will I disavow them? Never.
I stand accused of forsaking the LGBT community for a Christianity which is – hear me now – anathema to my understanding of faith. I will no doubt take future flack for saying so. I’m accused of believing that “God hates fags” and that the repeal of Prop 8 will usher in the End Times. Well, if I caused such an absurdity, I am damn sorry. To be clear: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any so-called faith preaching intolerance of anyone. Again, anyone: straight or gay, believers or not: that’s the law.
That means upholding my punk rock values in the most evangelical enclaves and, in this case, speaking up for the most fearful of fundamentalists in, well, a San Francisco music hall full of Michelle Shocked fans.
As an artist in this time of unbearable culture wars, I understand: this means trouble, and this is neither the first nor last time trouble has come my way. And that’s fine by me.
I know the fear many in the evangelical community feel about homosexual marriage, as I understand the fear many in the gay community feel toward the self-appointed faithful. I have and will continue speaking to both. Everything else – facebook, twitter, whatever – is commentary.
After news broke of the singers rant all 11 of her remaining scheduled shows were cancelled...10 by the clubs where she was to play, and 1 by Shocked herself.
UPDATE: All 11 remaining shows on Michelle Shocked’s current tour have been cancelled. The singer was scheduled to appear at HopMonk’s Tavern in Novato, Calif., SPACE in Evanston, Ill., eTown in Boulder, Colo., the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland, Ore., Meander’s Kitchen in Seattle, Cozmic in Eugene, Ore., the Palms Playhouse in Winter, Calif., Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz, Calif., and McCabe’s in Santa Monica, Calif. and at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Harmony Bar in Madison, Wisc., announced that Shocked’s May 5 appearance has been canceled “by the artist.”
Folk singer Michelle Shocked stunned the audience at her Sunday night show at San Francisco club Yoshi when she broke into a hate filled anti-gay rant complete with the statement, “God hates fags and you can tweet that I said so.”
“I live in fear,” said Shocked, “that the world will be destroyed if gays are allowed to marry.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle approximately two thirds of the audience walked out of the concert after the singer’s rant. The manager, assistant club manager, and sound production engineer who were on duty shut down the show immediately, turning off the lights and cutting off the microphone, said Yoshi’s representative Lisa Bautista.
The club also apologized to the audience and offered refunds to anyone interested.
Shocked, who had been rumored to be a lesbian earlier in her career, is a born again Christian and has, in the past, stated that she feels homosexuality is a sin.
Shocked followed up her performance on Sunday with a tweet that read, “Truth is leading to painful confrontation.”
As of late Monday afternoon, at least four venues (in California, Illinois, Colorado and Oregon) have cancelled upcoming performances by Shocked.
According to a new poll by the Washington Post and ABC News support for legalizing same-sex marriage is at an all time high.
According to the poll 58 percent of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married; 36 percent say it should be illegal. These results are almost exactly opposite of what they were a decade ago when, 37 percent favored same-sex marriage and 55 percent opposed it.
Among young adults age 18 to 29, support for gay marriage hit a record high of 81 percent in the poll. As for their elders, those aged 65 years old and up remain opposed with 44 percent say same-sex marriage should be legal; 50 percent say illegal.
Also of note, according to the poll the majority of respondents in across the political spectrum now support marriage equality.
Hillary Clinton came out today in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples in a video posted to the Human Rights Campaign website.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the following statement concerning Clinton's video:
Hillary Clinton Joins Human Rights Campaign’s Americans for Marriage Equality Series
WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today joined the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Americans for Marriage Equality series, a public engagement campaign featuring prominent Americans who support committed gay and lesbian couples getting married.
Her full statement can be viewed at: www.hrc.org/Clinton
A hallmark of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement is the fight to have our relationships recognized as equal under the law. Full marriage equality is an important measure of our success in this area.
The Americans for Marriage Equality series has included political and civil rights leaders, professional athletes, film and music celebrities, and business leaders: www.hrc.org/americansformarriageequality
According to a new report, fast food chain Chick-fil-A, who caused a stir in Boston last year when Mayor Menino took issue with the companys policy of donating to anti-gay groups, has not only continued to donate to these groups but in 2011 increased it’s donations over previous years.
Last summer Menino had threatened to stop the restaurant from opening a location in downtown Boston. In a letter to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy Menino wrote, “I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston,” Menino wrote. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston.”
Menino later backed off that claim stating that he was simply using the “bully pulpit" of his office to call attention to Chik-fil-A policies.
According to a report by Think Progress, the restaurant chain nearly doubled its contributions to anti-gay groups from 2009 to 2011. According to Think Progress, the Winshape Foundation (the charitable arm of Chick-fil-A) gave $2,896,438 to the Marriage and Family Foundation in 2011, a massive increase over the $1,188,380 donated in 2010.
The Marriage and Family Foundation was founded in 2007 Dan Cathy and originally called the “Marriage and Family Legacy Fund.” Its purpose was to serve as the “implementation and funding” arm of Marriage CoMission, a group which promotes the “traditional family structure.”
Although a few reports came out last year stating that Chick-Fil-A would cease its policy of donating to anti-gay groups, those reports have proven to be erroneous. When asked about the company’s policy in an interview with the Baptist Press, Cathy said that Chick-fil-A was “guilty as charged” regarding its millions of dollars in contributions to established anti-gay organizations.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has released a letter sent by his office to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding an investigation on whether possible draft picks were asked about their sexual orientation during the league's combine, which is illegal in New York.
In the letter, Schneiderman requests that the league:
Issue a public statement clarifying its position "that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by league teams or their employees or agents against potential recruits or players is a violation of state, local, and in some cases, contractual law, and will not be tolerated."
"Memorialize this commitment in a written policy" and distribute the policy throughout the League.
Advise NFL prospects to contact League officials if they have ever been asked questions about their sexual orientation.
Schneiderman asked Commissioner Goodell to contact him by Wednesday to schedule a meeting on the matter.
In a statement by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, the league revealed that it is already looking into the matter. "Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws," the NFL said in its recent statement. "It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline."
Local LGBT and immigration advocates are planning to at Sen. Elizabeth Warren's office on Friday.
Members of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP) plan to gather at 2 p.m. on March 14 at the JFK Federal Building before a meeting at Sen. Warren's Boston office. At the meeting, undocumented LGBT people are expected to disclose their status to the senator's staff in order to raise awareness about the connection between LGBT and immigration issues.
“We’re fighting for inclusive immigration reform that doesn’t leave anyone out—especially our LGBTQ community and immigrant detainees," said Alan Pelaez, grassroots organizer for QUIP in Massachusetts and Connecticut and self-identified undocumented and queer immigrant, in a statement. "As Massachusetts residents, we will give voice to the pain our communities are feeling, as thousands of moms, dads, brothers, and sisters are deported every day to meet an artificial quota of 400,000 deportations per year. Queer rights and immigrant rights are directly intertwined.”
Here's from the press release:
A coalition of groups working on behalf LGBT Catholics and their allies offered prayers and hope that the new pope's oft-cited humility will make him amenable to hearing the voices of those who they say have been "denigrated" by the Church in the past.
Noting that, as a cardinal, the current Pope Francis once characterized equal marriage for same-sex couples as "a machination of the Father of Lies,” Equally Blessed, which includes participation from DignityUSA, New Ways Ministry, Call To Action, and Fortunate Families, stated that many of the comments he once made "are not statements worthy of a pope, or, for that matter, anyone in pastoral ministry."
The groups say they pray that "God will grant him the courage to listen to the voices of all of God’s children, especially those who have been oppressed, marginalized and denigrated by the church in the past."
Here's from the complete press release statement:FULL ENTRY
Now that a new pope has emerged from the conclave, gay Catholics around the world are wondering, will Pope Francis attempt to move the church in a new, more progressive, direction? Or will he continue the path set by his predecessor?
If Cardinal Bergoglio’s own words are any indication it looks as though there will be no shift in the church’s position on homosexuality. While serving in Argentina Bergoglio strongly opposed legislation on same-sex marriage and claimed that gay couples adopting was a form of discrimination against children, a stance Argentina president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said reminded her of “medieval times and the Inquisition.”
Regarding the marriage equality legislation he wrote, “At stake are the lives of many children who are discriminated against in advance by depriving them of human growth that God wanted to given with a father and a mother. At stake is a total rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts as well.” He added, “we are not naive: it is not just a political struggle is a destructive attempt to God’s plan. It is not just a bill (this is only the instrument) but a ‘move’ from the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
Below is a statement released by the Human Rights Campaign:
“We congratulate Pope Francis in his new position as leader for the Roman Catholic Church. As Pope, he has enormous power to be a source of spiritual healing for millions around the world. But for him to be the best kind of spiritual leader, he must acknowledge the signs of the times and embrace LGBT people as worthy of dignity and respect. American lay Catholics are fully supportive of equality, even more so than the broader population. The new Pope should follow the virtuous lead of his flock.
“We hope the new Pope understands the time for religious-based bigotry is not only over, but must be denounced. Demonizing LGBT people and their families from this powerful platform not only fails to keep faith with the most charitable principles of Catholic teachings and the Jesuit tradition of caring for the marginalized, but it does real psychological damage to millions of LGBT people around the world.”
Boston Spirit magazine's 2013 LGBT Executive Networking Night originally scheduled for March 7th has been rescheduled for Wednesday night March 20th. For more information and to RSVP visit www.bostonspiritmagazine.com
"I've always known I was gay from the time I was a little kid. I can't remember a time when I wasn't aware of it, even before I knew what it was or the name of it."
- Anderson Cooper
CNN Anchor/Reporter Anderson Cooper, winner of the 2013 GLAAD Vito Russo Award, has opened up to Sirius XM radio host Michelangelo Signorile about winning the GLAAD award, being gay, and Madonna.
Cooper, currently in Rome covering the Vatican conclave for CNN, called in to Signorile’s OutQ radio program and said that being gay “is a blessing.” On the award, Cooper stated, "It has tremendous meaning, I wish I knew him (Vito Russo). The work he did founding GLAAD and producing The Celluloid Closet, to get more people to know who Vito Russo was … I certainly don't think I'm worthy of it, but if it helps GLAAD and if it helps have more people know who Vito Russo is, then I think it is certainly worthwhile."
Past winners of the award include Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen Degeneres.
Cooper talked about coming out to his closest friends in high school and to his family in college. He remained closeted professionally until just last year (Cooper stated that reporting from war zones around the globe was a major factor in not addressing his sexuality publicly). On finally coming out he said, “over time I started to realize that by not saying something I was sending a message or giving some people the mistaken impression that I was uncomfortable or ashamed and that made me really sad because I really didn’t want to give that impression. I think that being gay is a blessing. I couldn’t be more proud of being gay.”
Further discussing his coming out, and whether others should follow his lead, Cooper stated that “as a community I think we are all better off, gay people and straight people, when we are all visible.”
Cooper also said it was “amazing and crazy” to learn that Madonna would be presenting the award to him, and said he is a “huge fan” of her music.
In a particularly touching part of the interview Cooper also discussed his bother’s suicide and the effect that it has had on his life.
You can listen to the entire interview HERE.
Boston Spirit magazine's 2013 LGBT Executive Networking Night originally scheduled for March 7th has been rescheduled for Wednesday night March 20th. For more information and to RSVP visit www.bostonspiritmagazine.com
Queen 'fights for gay rights,' trumpets UK headline; Not quite, say underwhelmed LGBT activists and Buckingham Palace
Is Queen Elizabeth now a full-fledged gay rights activist? You might think so from the blaring headline in the UK Mail newspaper this past Sunday: "Queen fights for gay rights."
The story behind the provocative headline is not nearly so bold. The queen is signing a new Commonwealth Charter that includes the following language:
‘We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.’
Fighting for gay rights? The Queen won't even mention them. She dare not speak our name – that is, if you believe she is even referring to gay people; if you buy the newspaper's inference that "other grounds" denotes an "implicit support of gay rights".
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson provided a bit of clarification on the queen's position, as quoted from the UK Mail:
‘In this charter, the Queen is endorsing a decision taken by the Commonwealth.’ But he added: ‘The Queen does not take a personal view on these issues. The Queen’s position is apolitical, as it is on all matters of this sort.’
Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School in South Hadley, Massachusetts, is taking heat for staging a play that imagines Adam's partner in the Garden of Eden as Steve rather than Eve.
According to CBN News, the school has received e-mails and calls from people who oppose the selection and who say they may protest the production during its run, which begins March 15. But the school is defending its decision. According to CBN News:
In a letter to parents, administrators at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School said the play is consistent with the school's philosophy and appropriate for a high school audience.
But they did admit to receiving email petitions and phone calls describing the production as "blasphemous and hateful."
Some of the messages from opponents also say they plan to organize protests through local churches.
The school's website announces performance dates and times and provides a description of the play:
What if Adam’s partner in the Garden of Eden wasn’t Eve, but … Steve? In The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, two First Couples—not only Adam and Steve but also Jane and Mabel—experience life’s joys and perils from the biblical world to the modern day. This satirical comedy by Paul Rudnick (author of I Hate Hamlet and Jeffrey) is cheeky, raucously funny, surprisingly tender and ultimately wise as it dissects history, relationships, gay politics and the mystery of faith.
Former President Bill Clinton has joined the ever growing group of current and former politicians urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when the justices take on the case later this spring. Clinton, in a op-ed piece he wrote for the Washington Post, states that the country was in a very different time when he signed the Defense of Marriage Act. “In no state in the union was same-sex marriage recognized, much less available as a legal right, but some were moving in that direction. Washington, as a result, was swirling with all manner of possible responses, some quite draconian” he states.
He goes on to write that he now believes that “DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution.”
More from the op-ed piece:
Because Section 3 of the act defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, same-sex couples who are legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia are denied the benefits of more than a thousand federal statutes and programs available to other married couples. Among other things, these couples cannot file their taxes jointly, take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse or receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees. Yet they pay taxes, contribute to their communities and, like all couples, aspire to live in committed, loving relationships, recognized and respected by our laws.
When I signed the bill, I included a statement with the admonition that “enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination.” Reading those words today, I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory. It should be overturned.
One hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln concluded a message to Congress by posing the very question we face today: “It is not ‘Can any of us imagine better?’ but ‘Can we all do better?’”
The answer is of course and always yes. In that spirit, I join with the Obama administration, the petitioner Edith Windsor, and the many other dedicated men and women who have engaged in this struggle for decades in urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.
(This article is appears in the current issue of Bay Windows and is being re-printed with permission)
Maureen Dahill, a candidate for State Senate in the 1st Suffolk District, today circulated an online petition to urge South Boston’s elected officials to fight for an inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade that allows gay and lesbian groups to march.
“I am proud to be from South Boston. I am proud of the deep roots and the amazing people who have ultimately shaped who I am today. South Boston is a vibrant community. It is a diverse community and it is a welcoming and inclusive community,” said Dahill.
Her petition is collecting signatures from voters asking Congressman Stephen Lynch, Representative Nick Collins and Councilor Bill Linehan to urge the Allied War Veteran’s Council to allow gay and lesbian groups to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“Last year over one million people visited South Boston to watch the St Patrick’s Day Parade. With this year’s parade falling on the St Patrick’s Day holiday, there will be likely even more people. It’s time we showed our neighborhood in its true light and allowed gays and lesbian groups to march in the parade’, added Dahill.
State Representative Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Boston) has already signed on to Dahill’s proposal, according to Dahill’s campaign.
“This is an opportunity to put our past behind us and to begin a new and positive chapter for all of us in South Boston. It's a simple, yet powerful gesture that could heal deep wounds,” said Dahill.
The petition can be viewed at http://www.maureendahill.com/petition
Dahill is a candidate for the special election for the 1st Suffolk State Senate seat. The primary election is April 30th.
Tonight's Boston Spirit magazine LGBT Executive Networking Night has been postponed due to inclement weather. The event will take place on Wednesday, March 20th. For more information visit www.bostonspiritmagazine.com
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), is claiming that he received an honorary degree from a university that is no longer incorporated, according to the The Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
Brown, leader of NOM, a group that opposes equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, tweeted on Monday that he received an honorary degree from "American Urban U. & Church of God in Christ" in Memphis. HRC verified that the American Urban University's corporate status has been suspended.
Here's from HRC's press release:
NOM President Brian Brown Touts Honorary Degree – From Non-Existent University
Records show the American Urban University’s corporation status has been suspended
Washington – National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown is touting an honorary degree he’s received from a non-existent university. On Monday, Brown – fresh off a jaunt to Paris in an attempt to take NOM’s anti-LGBT message abroad - tweeted that he was “honored to receive honorary doctorate this weekend in Memphis from American Urban U. & Church of God in Christ!” Brown also tweeted a picture of himself receiving the “honorary degree.”
Unfortunately for Brown, American Urban University does not exist. HRC has independently confirmed that the school is not in operation as a postsecondary institution.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, there is no American Urban University accredited postsecondary institution anywhere in the country. The Tennessee Higher Education Committee lists no such school on its database of authorized institutions.
“NOM just continues to remove itself further and further from reality,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “Brian Brown has made it a habit of denying the growing support for marriage equality despite the historic victories we achieved in 2012 and a wide array of polling that shows support growing across virtually all demographics. He has conveniently ignored the fact that his membership base is rapidly deteriorating and that his organization relies on the deep coffers of just two donors. And now apparently he thinks it’s perfectly normal to receive a degree from a non-existent university.”
In fact, public records indicate that the “university” was incorporated in California – not Tennessee - and has had its corporate status suspended. According to the California Secretary of State, some of the reasons an entity can have its status revoked include a failure to pay taxes or other fees, or a failure to file all required information with the state.
“This is just more bizarre, head-scratching behavior from NOM and Brian Brown,” added Sainz. “Congratulations to Mr. Brown on his well-deserved recognition from the non-existent American Urban University.
Carly Rae Jepsen, whose song ‘Call Me Maybe’ took the world by storm last year, has backed out of a scheduled performance at the Boy Scouts of America 2013 National Scout Jamboree.
Jepsen tweeted that “as an artist who believes in equality for all people, I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer”
Another major headliner for the Jamboree, the band Train, has also stated that they will not perform at the Jamboree unless the BSA changes its anti-gay policies before the summer.
GLAAD, who orginally asked Jepsen and Train to reconsider performing at the event has commended their decisions to back out of the Jamboree. “No fair-minded media outlet, corporation or celebrity will want to partner with the BSA as long as the organization puts discrimination and anti-gay bias before the needs of young people,” Rich Ferraro, GLAAD's vice president of communications, said in a statement. "GLAAD will continue to call for partners of the BSA to speak out against the anti-gay ban until the BSA puts Scouting first and adopts a national non-discrimination policy. Carly Rae Jepsen and Train's decisions not only send the right message to the BSA, but remind LGBT young people that they are supported and accepted."
Please join Boston Spirit magazine this Thursday night, March 7th, for our annual LGBT EXECUTIVE Networking Night. This is the largest LGBT business networking night in New England with more than 1,000 attendees and 50 exhibitors. Also, this year's Keynote speaker is Gautam Raghavan, the LGBT liaison in the White House. This promises to be an amazing night. To RSVP visit www.bostonspiritmagazine.com.
Gautam Raghavan, the Associate Director of Public Engagement and LGBT liaison in the White House, will serve as the Keynote Speaker at Boston Spirit magazine’s annual LGBT Executive Networking Night this Thursday night.
The networking night, now in its sixth year, is the largest business related lgbt event in New England. In March 2012 more than 1,300 attended the event. Past speakers include Patriots owner Robert Kraft and television personality Chaz Bono.
Raghavan, a Washington veteran, has also served as the Deputy White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense and as the Outreach Lead for DoD’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Working Group. In addition he worked for the Obama campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and Progressive Majority.
In his current role as LGBT liaison Ragahvan’s duties include advocating gay issues within the White House, letting the public know where the President stands on LGBT issues, and explaining the work progress of equality legislation. This for a President that is widely known as the most lgbt friendly President in history.
The event, sponsored by Eastern Bank, Fidelity Investments and Mintz Levin, among others, will offer a unique opportunity to hear, first hand, about the inner workings of the Obama White House as it relates to LGBT policy decisions…particularly timely on the heels of the historic amicas brief that the President filed last week calling on the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8, California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Boston Spirit’s LGBT Executive Networking Night takes place on Thursday night, March 7th, at 6:00 p.m. at the Copley Marriott Hotel. For more information and to RSVP visit www.bostonspiritmagazine.com.
Pope Benedict's 'intense relationship' with 'handsome male companion' scrutinized by Andrew Sullivan
Pope Benedict XVI with his secretary Georg Ganswein, May 10, 2007, in São Paulo, Brazil. (photo: Agência Brasil/Wikipedia Commons)
An unusual relationship Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has with his secretary Georg Ganswein is under scrutiny by blogger Andrew Sullivan.
Calling the former pope's connection with the "handsome" secretary "intense," Sullivan wonders why Ganswein is expected to continue assisting the former pope even while maintaining his role as prefect of the household for the next pope.
Are we supposed to think that’s, well, a normal arrangement? …
This man – clearly in some kind of love with Ratzinger (and vice-versa) will now be working for the new Pope as secretary in the day and spending the nights with the Pope Emeritus. This is not the Vatican. It’s Melrose Place.
More from The Dish at dish.andrewsullivan.com.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) successfully fought to allow a high school student in Connecticut to wear a shirt that included anti-gay imagery.
Wolcott High School initially banned student Seth Groody from sporting a t-shirt with an illustration of a rainbow with a slash through it and a man and a woman holding hands with the words "Excessive Speech Day" on it. The school changed its position after ACLU intervention.
"The First Amendment was written to protect unpopular speech, which is naturally the kind of speech that will always need protection," Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut, told WFSB of CBS. "The ACLU has fought hard for same-sex marriage and we couldn't agree with Seth less on that issue, but he is absolutely correct about his right to express his opinion."
TV (and lesbian) icon Ellen DeGeneres has weighed in on the Proposition 8 issue headed to the Supreme Court. Degeneres has filed a brief with the Court....via Facebook.
In the brief, which appears on the Facebook page for the Ellen Degeneres show, she quotes Benjamin Franklin as saying "We're here, we're queer, get over it." (Yes, it was a joke)
California’s Proposition 8 is headed to the Supreme Court. Hundreds of companies and families as well as Republicans are submitting briefs urging the 9 judges to allow gay people to marry. I thought that was ridiculous. Why would judges want all of that underwear? Then, after a quick talk with some people, I found out what a brief was.
I’ve never filed a brief to the Supreme Court, so I thought I would post mine here. I’m sure someone will tweet it to them.
Portia and I have been married for 4 years and they have been the happiest of my life. And in those 4 years, I don’t think we hurt anyone else’s marriage. I asked all of my neighbors and they say they’re fine.
But even though Portia and I got married in the short period of time when it was legal in California, there are 1,138 federal rights for married couples that we don’t have, including some that protect married people from losing their homes, or their savings or custody of their children.
The truth is, Portia and I aren’t as different from you as you might think. We’re just trying to find happiness in the bodies and minds we were given, like everyone else.
Coming out was one of the hardest things I ever did. I didn’t intend to be on the cover of Time magazine saying, “Yep, I’m gay.” The truth is, I don’t even remember saying that. I mean, I definitely said the “I’m gay” part. It’s the “yep” I don’t remember. I’m not really a “yep” person. “Yes siree Bob” maybe. But not “yep."
In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We’re here, we’re queer, get over it.” And there’s another famous quote that says “A society is judged by how it treats its weakest members.” I couldn’t agree with that more. No one’s really sure who said it first, so if anyone asks, tell them I said it.
I hope the Supreme Court will do the right thing, and let everyone enjoy the same rights. It’s going to help keep families together. It’s going to make kids feel better about who they are. And it is time.
*I was just told Benjamin Franklin did not say that first quote. I apologize and see that I have a lot to learn about stuff.
Please join Boston Spirit magazine this Thursday night, March 7th, for our annual LGBT EXECUTIVE Networking Night. This is the largest lgbt business networking night in New England with more than 1,000 attendees and 50 exhibitors. Also, this year's Keynote speaker is Gautam Raghavan, the lgbt liaison in the White House. This promises to be an amazing night. To RSVP visit www.bostonspiritmagazine.com
Local 'pro-family' organization leader compares Massachusetts school administrators to "Nazi concentration camp guards"
In a recent radio interview with VCY America Brian Camenker of the anti-gay, ‘pro-family’ group MassResistance, compared Massachusetts school administrators to “Nazi concentration camp guards” in response to the Mass Department of Education’s directive regarding the use of bathrooms and participation on sports teams for transgender students.
Camenker, while on the talk show Crosstalk, said "These school administrators, you know I mean you think of them as what the Nazi concentration camp guards must have been like where they are doing this horrible evil and they are just taking orders or something, they believe in it. People need to rise up because it is only going to get worse."
The directive in question states that ‘‘the student may access the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that corresponds to the student’s gender identity.” It goes on to state that “whether a student identifies as a boy or girl is up to the student or, in the case of younger students, the parents.”
Not to be outdone, FOX news host Bill O’Reilly also jumper on the anti-LGBT bandwagon earlier this week calling the Massachusetts Department of Education’s decision “insane” and “madness.”
"Here’s how insane you are and this whole thing is, and this is truly madness, ladies and gentlemen. You’re telling me that a kid can go to a public school in Massachusetts, immediately upon entering the school take off the kid’s shirt and put on a dress, go to the girls’ room when he’s a boy, and then change his name from John to Tiffany. And then after school, put the shirt back on, go home, and he’s still John," said O’Reilly.
Equality Blog has written an excellent piece explaining, in clear and factual terms, the many reasons why O’Reilly’s rant was misleading, incorrect, and factually inaccurate.
According to one college football senior NFL teams have taken to asking college prospects about their sexual orientation at this year’s pro football combine. Top college players attend the combine in order to highlight their skills for NFL executives. During the combine players go through a series of drills to test their athleticism in addition to spending time interviewing with team personnel.
One prospect, Nick Kasa, a player from the University of Colorado, told ESPN radio that several teams had asked him questions such as “Do you have a girlfriend?” and “Do you like girls?” Said Kasa, “it was just kind of weird.”
Many who follow the NFL, including Mike Florio of NBC Sports feel that the questioning is directly related to the rampant rumors surrounding Notre Dame star Manti T’eo. "Here's the elephant in the room for the teams and it shouldn't matter, but we have to step aside from the rest of reality and walk into the unique industry that is the NFL," said Florio. "Teams want to know whether Manti Te'o is gay. They just want to know. They want to know because in an NFL locker room, it's a different world. It shouldn't be that way."
Rumors of T’eo being gay have been front and center since it was learned that he took part in a hoax in which his girlfriend of three years, Lennay Kekua, was found to be a fictional character and not, in fact, a real person.
Fox Sports Jason Whitlock penned an article yesterday in which he implored NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose brother is gay, to take a stronger stand against homophobia in the league.
Let’s be honest. I think it’s reasonable to assume that 15 percent of NFL players are gay and/or bisexual. Generally speaking, they’re forced to conceal their sexuality out of fear of being ostracized and potentially released from the team. They need to be set free, released from the grip of the most hostile work environment in America. Is there a more homophobic work setting than a football locker room? I can’t think of one.
There’s a terrific opportunity here for Goodell. He can make the NFL a zero-tolerance zone for homophobia. He can use the weight of his office and the power he wields because of the player-conduct policy to go after players and organizations that tolerate any form of sexuality discrimination. He could send a clear message the NFL commissioner is a friend to gays and will take every possible action to ensure they’re treated fairly. Goodell can create an environment that entices a closeted gay player to come out and be the hero/role model gay kids, parents of gay children and overgrown idiots need.
How can he accomplish all of this? He can start by partnering with gay-rights activists and establishing an oversight committee that investigates, monitors and trains NFL teams in issues related to anti-gay workplace hostility. He can then begin treating offenders with the same heavy hand he uses on players for illegal hits and off-field incidents.
A group of at least 75 prominent Republicans have signed a brief in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples that is being submitted to the Supreme Court, according to The New York Times.
The New York Times notes:
The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers — 75 as of Monday evening — who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who have changed their previous positions.
Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.
While briefs of this kind — called amicus, or friend-of-the court briefs — do not often sway Supreme Court justices, there is a sense that this brief may be an exception. More from the Times:
Tom Goldstein, publisher of Scotusblog, a Web site that analyzes Supreme Court cases, said the amicus filing “has the potential to break through and make a real difference.”
He added: “The person who is going to decide this case, if it’s going to be close, is going to be a conservative justice who respects traditional marriage but nonetheless is sympathetic to the claims that this is just another form of hatred. If you’re trying to persuade someone like that, you can’t persuade them from the perspective of gay rights advocacy.”
In an explosive interview with CNN’s Christine Amanpour former Dominican Friar Mark Dowd claimed that half, if not more, of those attracted into the seminaries and the priesthood are gay. Dowd went on to say that homosexuality is “the ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church,”
“On the one hand the church teaches that the condition of same sex attraction is intrinsically disordered, those are Cardinal Ratzinger’s own words from 1986 and yet we know that actually about half, if not more, of all the people attracted into the seminaries and the priesthood are gay themselves,” said Dowd.
“When you have this culture of secrecy and guilt and repression,” he continued, “you have conditions which foster the potential for blackmail and for manipulation.”
Dowd, who is now a journalist, said that gay men are “massively over-represented” within the Church. He base his statements on what he called “on- and off-the-record conversations with members of the Church, as well as personal experience.”
Vatican journalist Marco Politi disagreed with Dowd’s claims and the recently reported notion of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican.
“The idea of a gay cabal is rubbish,” he said. “Here in the Vatican, there are monsignors who have love affairs, with women and with men. But they hide it. They are liberals or conservatives, but certainly they don’t act like a gay lobby.”
Suze Orman recently penned a column detailing the inequities between heterosexual couples and same-sex couples when it comes to federal benefits. Inequities that, hopefully, will be corrected when the Supreme Court hears cases related to DOMA this spring.
Speaking on her own relationship with her partner, Kathy Travis, Orman writes:
If the federal government recognized same-sex marriage, then when one of us dies our assets would seamlessly transfer free of tax to the survivor. That's a basic right that every heterosexual married couple has.
But because there is no federal recognition of same-sex marriage, if I die first, or vice versa, before either of us can inherit what is now jointly our assets, there would be a federal estate tax bill that one of us would currently have to pay. Again, to be clear: If we were a heterosexual married couple, there would be no estate tax regardless of the size of the estate or who died first.
Orman goes on to detail other issues, specifically with Social Security:
Married heterosexual couples can maximize their Social Security retirement benefits by taking advantage of the highest-earner's benefit. When both spouses are alive, the lower earner can opt to collect a monthly benefit check that is equal to 50% of his or her spouse's benefit. For many married couples, that 50% spousal benefit is often much higher than what the lower-wage-earning spouse could collect based on his or her own earnings record. Most important, when the high earner dies, the surviving spouse is allowed to collect 100% of the deceased's higher benefit.
Because same-sex marriages aren't recognized on the federal level, gay and lesbian couples are not eligible for Social Security spousal benefits. The lower earner cannot claim any benefits based on the higher earner's benefit. A heterosexual couple married for just a few months is able to collect a federal benefit that same-sex couples who have been together for decades can't.
And finally, on health insurance, Orman details that the current regulations are costing same-sex couples nearly $200 million in additional costs and employers nearly $60 million.
Health insurance is another area of severe federal financial discrimination against gay couples. I am so glad to see more employers extending health insurance benefits to same-sex partners. But because same-sex couples are not considered legally married under the eyes of the federal government, the dollar value of the health coverage is considered taxable income.
A 2007 study estimated that this gay health insurance penalty costs same-sex couples an aggregate $178 million ($1,069 per household), while employers paid an additional $57 million in payroll tax on that taxable income. No heterosexual married couple or their employers pay that penalty.
CLICK HERE to read the entire piece.
St. Peter's Basilica seen through a keyhole at the Villa Malta (photo: AngMoKio/Wikimedia Commons)
An article in an Italian newspaper contends that Pope Benedict XVI may be resigning as a result of a scandal involving homosexuality at the Vatican.
A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.
The pope's spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.
The La Repubblica story contends that Benedict decided to resign on the day that he received an internal report concerning the 'Vatileaks' case, which involved information leaked by the pope's butler.
More from The Guardian:
According to La Repubblica, the dossier comprising "two volumes of almost 300 pages – bound in red" had been consigned to a safe in the papal apartments and would be delivered to the pope's successor upon his election.
The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were "united by sexual orientation".
In an apparent quotation from the report, La Repubblica said some Vatican officials had been subject to "external influence" from laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature". The paper said this was a clear reference to blackmail.
Further, The Guardian helpfully provides broader context for the accusation of a 'gay network' at the Holy See:
La Repubblica's report was the latest in a string of claims that a gay network exists in the Vatican. In 2007 a senior official was suspended from the congregation, or department, for the priesthood, after he was filmed in a "sting" organised by an Italian television programme while apparently making sexual overtures to a younger man.
In 2010 a chorister was dismissed for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting. A few months later a weekly news magazine used hidden cameras to record priests visiting gay clubs and bars and having sex.
More at The Guardian: here.
The Advocate is reporting that popular, Christian quarterback Tim Tebow, is tweeting that he is withdrawing from speaking at First Baptist Church of Dallas, which has a history of using anti-LGBT rhetoric.
According the report, Tebow tweeted:
"While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, ... due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!"
Oscar Pistorius, the paralympic runner who captured the world’s attention at the London Olympics last year and more recently for being charged with premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, has been dropped from South Africa’s “It Gets Better” campaign.
In the video, which is to be launched on February 20th, Pistorius says “Just remember that you’re special. You don’t have to worry. You don’t have to change. Take a deep breath and remember ‘It will get better’.”
According to South African prosecutors, Pistorius, who garnered the nickname “Blade Runner” for the prosthetic legs he runs on, shot Steenkamp multiple times through a bathroom door in his home. Pistorius claims he thought she was an intruder.
President Obama Speaks on Strengthening the Economy for the Middle Class in Chicago, including a mention about the importance of having “loving ... gay or straight parents” in society. (Video: The White House)
Has any president uttered the word ‘gay’ as much as President Barack Obama? It’s doubtful.
Much was made of his soaring rhetoric in his second inaugural speech, with words that have already attained legendary status in the LGBT community:
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; ...
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. ... Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- (applause) -- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. (Applause.)
But just in the past week, beginning with his State of the Union (SOTU) address last Tuesday, Obama has included ‘gay’ in his public remarks on three separate occasions, in three different ways.FULL ENTRY
Robbie Rogers, a player on the U.S. National Mens Soccer team, and former player for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, has penned an open letter on his website announcing that he is gay.
Rogers, 25, also announced his retirement from the sport:
The Next Chapter…
Things are never what they seem… My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family. In today’s society being different makes you brave. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith in your purpose.
For the past 25 year I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my secret would get in the way of my dreams.
Dreams of going to a World Cup, dreams of The Olympics, dreams of making my family proud. What would life be without these dreams? Could I live a life without them?
Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.
Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.
I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.
Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.
Illinois is now one step closer to joining the growing number of states to pass legislation for same sex couples to legally marry.
In a vote taken today (of all days, Valentine’s Day) the Illinois Senate approved a same sex marriage bill by a vote of 34 – 21. Governor Pat Quinn has already stated that if passed he would not veto the legislation and has gone so far as to urge the General Assembly to pass the bill
Recently Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady backed gay marriage, leading to an unsuccessful call for his removal by members of his party
If the bill is also approved by the state House of Representatives, Illinois will become the 10th state with legal marriage equality as well as Washington D.C
Has Facebook played a role in helping you find love (or even ‘like’?) If so there is a Facebook group for that! LGBTQ@Facebook is a page that has been launched to show
the "impact that every individual can have" by using Facebook.
According to the group’s creators, "We are dedicated to creating an environment where people can be their authentic selves and share their own diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and ideas. We understand that there are issues that are unique to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Facebook users and we are working with the LGBTQ community to better understand the needs of this population and offer helpful resources."
For Valentine’s Day the group is encouraging its members to share their stories of how Facebook has played a role in bringing them together.
Submit your story, or just read others. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find your true love.
LGBT activists are planning a rally at US Senator Marc Rubio's Florida headquarters at 3 p.m. ET, today, February 14. They are calling on the Republican legislator to be sure that LGBT people are included in the immigration law that Congress is considering.
National LGBT civil rights organization GetEQUAL is staging the demonstration. Here's from the group's press release:
On this Valentine's Day, LGBT immigrants with the group GetEQUAL -- a national civil rights organization fighting for the full equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans -- are asking Senate Marco Rubio not to leave them out of an immigration reform bill that is currently moving through Congress. While most loving couples will be celebrating, LGBT immigrants and their partners have to choose between the country they love and the person they love.
"LGBT immigrants are caught in the perfect storm -- we live in a country that doesn’t recognize our marriages and the broken immigration system leave us without a pathway to citizenship," says Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, GetEQUAL's National Field Director. "I grew up here and became undocumented while a young man. Even though I’m married to permanent resident, I’m still not able to adjust my immigration status."
Undocumented LGBT community members and allies will gather to take action outside Senator Marco Rubio’s Florida headquarters in Orlando. They will ask questions about Senator Rubio’s position on a clear pathway to citizenship, asylum rules, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), and the end of harsh enforcement policies.
More information on the action can be accessed at GetEQUAL's website.
"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, ..." love only existed between one man and one woman. Until now.
But don't expect any hanky panky between Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo — not just yet anyway — Star Wars: The Old Republic is set 3,500 years before the start of the storyline made popular in the Star Wars films. Furthermore, same-sex relationships are currently limited to the planet Makeb.
A group of students, along with some parents and a teacher, at Sullivan High School in Indiana, have started the process to organize their own prom…one that would exclude lgbt classmates.
"We don't agree with it and it's offensive to us," said Diana Medley, a special education teacher at the school. "Homosexual students come to me with their problems, and I don't agree with them, but I care about them. It's the same thing with my special needs kids, I think God puts everyone in our lives for a reason," said Medley. (Yes, apparently the special education teacher at Sullivan high feel that special needs kids and lgbt kids are in the same category)
Medley continued, "I believe that it was life circumstances and they chose to be that way; God created everyone equal. So the same goes for gays? Do you think they have a purpose in life?' No I honestly don't. Sorry, but I don't. I don't understand it. A gay person isn't going to come up and make some change unless it's to realize that it was a choice and they're choosing God." she said.
Apparently there is a group of students who agree with their teacher, including Kynon Johnson. "If we can get a good prom then we can convince more people to come and follow what they believe," said Johnson. Another unnamed student went on to add "We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don't think it's right nor should it be accepted."
At last one local man, also using the church as the basis for his argument, disagrees with the ‘separate prom’ group. "We shouldn't be condemning people, and that's what judgment is. Christ came to save the people not to condemn them." said Jim Davis. "Love them as a person. You don't have to love what they do, because the gays may not love all the mistakes you make," he continued.
"The feeling of being loved and belonging is universal," said Davis.
A release today from Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announces the extension of benefits to same-sex couples.
Here's the statement:
"Seventeen months ago, the United States military ended the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We have implemented the repeal of that policy and made clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation has no place in the Department of Defense.
"At the time of repeal, I committed to reviewing benefits that had not previously been available to same-sex partners based on existing law and policy. It is a matter of fundamental equity that we provide similar benefits to all of those men and women in uniform who serve their country. The department already provides a group of benefits that are member-designated. Today, I am pleased to announce that after a thorough and deliberate review, the department will extend additional benefits to same-sex partners of service members.
"Taking care of our service members and honoring the sacrifices of all military families are two core values of this nation. Extending these benefits is an appropriate next step under current law to ensure that all service members receive equal support for what they do to protect this nation.
"One of the legal limitations to providing all benefits at this time is the Defense of Marriage Act, which is still the law of the land. There are certain benefits that can only be provided to spouses as defined by that law, which is now being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court. While it will not change during my tenure as secretary of defense, I foresee a time when the law will allow the department to grant full benefits to service members and their dependents, irrespective of sexual orientation. Until then, the department will continue to comply with current law while doing all we can to take care of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and their families.
"While the implementation of additional benefits will require substantial policy revisions and training, it is my expectation that these benefits will be made available as expeditiously as possible. One of the great successes at the Department of Defense has been the implementation of DADT repeal. It has been highly professional and has strengthened our military community. I am confident in the military services' ability to effectively implement these changes over the coming months."
A document outlining more details on the policy can be found here.
In a truly beautiful bit of irony Fox News columnist Suzanne Venker mistakenly used a photo of a lesbian couple (which was supposed to show a “traditional couple”) to accompany her column on the failures of feminism and female independence.
The photo, which first appeared on Huffington Post, is of Lela Mc Arthur and Stephanie Figarelle a lesbian couple from, Alaska on their wedding day. McArthur and Gigarelle were the first same-sex couple to marry at the top of the Empire State Building after New York State legalized gay marriage…recreating the famous scene from the movie Sleepless in Seattle.
In the article that accompanied the photo Venker says, “As products of divorce, the modern generation has few role models for lasting love. That alone is a problem. But young women have an added burden: they’ve been raised in a society that eschews marriage. They’ve been taught instead to honor sex, singlehood and female empowerment.”
She also identifies 2 major failures on the feminism movement as she sees it.
1. Women postpone marriage indefinitely and move in and out of intense romantic relationships, or even live with their boyfriends for years at a time. Eventually, their biological clocks start ticking and many decide they better hurry up and get married to provide a stable home for their yet-to-be-born children. Trouble is, their boyfriend’s not willing to commit.
2. Marriage becomes a competitive sport. The complementary nature of marriage—in which two people work together, as equals, toward the same goal but with an appreciation for the qualities each gender brings to the table—has been obliterated. Today, husbands and wives are locked in a battle about whom does more on the home front and how they’re going to get everything done. That’s not a marriage. That’s war.
Venker then concludes, “It’s time to say what no one else will: Feminism didn’t result in equality between the sexes – it resulted in mass confusion. Today, men and women have no idea who’s supposed to do what.”
Openly gay Massachusetts state Representative Carl Sciortino announced on his Facebook page today that he would be running for the US Fifth Congressional District seat currently held by Rep. Edward Markety, who is running for US Senate.
Here is Sciortino's full announcement:
MEDFORD, MA – Today, Massachusetts State Representative Carl Sciortino (D – 34th Middlesex) announced his candidacy for the Commonwealth’s Fifth Congressional District.
“I am running to continue the strong progressive leadership that the families of the Fifth District have always counted on,” said Sciortino. “I look forward to bringing my record of accomplishment to Washington to fight for our progressive values.”
The Fifth Congressional District is currently represented by Rep. Edward Markey of Malden, the frontrunner in the special election to replace Sen. John Kerry, who was recently appointed Secretary of State by President Barack Obama.
“I am proud to call Ed Markey my Congressman and I am dedicated to helping elect him as our next U.S. Senator,” said Rep. Sciortino. “His record on behalf of Massachusetts families – fighting for jobs, consumers’ rights, and a healthier environment— is the kind of leadership Massachusetts needs in the Senate and it is a record I look forward to continuing in Congress.”
A leading progressive voice, Rep. Sciortino was first elected in 2004, upsetting a 14-year incumbent at age 25. One of the Commonwealth’s seven openly-gay legislators, Sciortino is the leading voice for LGBT rights on Beacon Hill, championing the fight for marriage equality and co-authoring the 2011 Transgender Equal Rights Bill. In 2007, Sciortino co-authored the bill which created the 35-foot buffer zone that protects the entrances to women’s reproductive health centers. He has led the fight to close corporate tax loopholes and make the state’s minimum wage the highest in the nation.
Rep. Sciortino, a graduate of Tufts University, represents the 34th Middlesex District, including parts of Medford and Somerville. He resides in Medford with his fiancé. To learn more or get involved, visit www.carlforcongress.com.
President Barack Obama announced the nomination of two people to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, including an openly gay lawyer, Todd Hughes.
If confirmed, Hughes would be the first out gay judge on a federal circuit court.
Todd Hughes, a lawyer in the Department of Justice's civil division, was nominated for the Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He would be the first openly gay circuit judge in the country if confirmed.
The Federal Circuit hears patent appeals from around the country, including high stakes cases like Apple Inc's smartphone battle against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. Its docket also includes trademark cases and some claims against the federal government.
The administration previously nominated Edward DuMont for the Federal Circuit in 2010. He would have been the first openly gay circuit judge had he been confirmed. However, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee did not hold a hearing and DuMont ultimately withdrew, saying some Republican committee members opposed his bid. DuMont did not identify those senators.
Hughes graduated from Harvard College in 1989, according to a biography provided by the White House:
Todd M. Hughes is Deputy Director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice, a position he has held since 2007. He also has served as an adjunct lecturer in law with the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and as an instructor for Duke University’s writing program.
Hughes received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1989 and completed a joint degree program with Duke University, earning both his J.D. with honors and his M.A. in English in 1992. After graduating from law school, Hughes clerked for the Honorable Robert B. Krupansky of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1994, he joined the Commercial Litigation Branch as a trial attorney. Five years later, he was appointed to be Assistant Director for Commercial Litigation, a role he held until assuming the title of Deputy Director in 2007. Throughout his career with the Department of Justice, Hughes’s practice has been devoted to matters of federal personnel law, veterans’ benefits, international trade, government contracts, and jurisdictional issues regarding the United States Court of Federal Claims. He has extensive experience before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the United States Court of International Trade, and the United States Court of Federal Claims, and he has garnered a number of special commendations from the Department of Justice and a special contribution award from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In the wake of several anti-gay proclamations last week by professional athletes, most notably San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has taken to twitter to air his thoughts.
Last week Schilling sent out two rapid fire tweets. From @gehrig38 (Schilling's twitter name):
Also, I've never understood this 'issue' with gay players? Who cares? I know I played with some, their sexual orientation never had much to
That tweet was quickly followed by:
To do with how they hit with RISP, or pitched in late and close situations, why the hell would what they do in the bedroom ever matter?
Last week Culliver, in a pre-Super Bowl interview stated "I don't do the gay guys man, I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do." In response to a question regarding the possibility of gay players on the 49ers.
Culliver later apologized for his statements and will begin sensitivity training before starting volunteer work The Trevor Project.
“He’s so passionate about youth and people being comfortable with who they are and accepted by all,” Culliver's spokesman told NESN. “He’s excited to learn. The plan is with The Trevor Project, and their concerns are that he is genuine about his words.”
Today the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Board put off until May a decision on changing its membership policy to include gay scouts.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin issued a statement in response to the Board’s inaction.
“Every day that the Boy Scouts of America delay action is another day that discrimination prevails,” said Griffin. “Now is the time for action. Young Americans, gay and straight, are hurt by the inaction associated with today’s news. The BSA leadership should end this awful policy once and for all, and open the proud tradition of Scouting to all.”
HRC also cited statistics showing that most American voters support ending the ban on openly gay scouts.
oll results released today by Quinnipiac University shows a strong majority of U.S. voters believe it is time for BSA to end its ban on openly gay members. Only 33 percent of voters said the ban should remain in place.
For more information, connect to the HRC web site here.
The 'ex-gay' movement took another blow when Christian Post columnist and self-professed ex-gay Matt Moore was discovered with a profile on popular gay hook-up app Grindr.
The Huffington Post reports:
An "ex-gay" Christian advocate, who blogs about how religion saved him from a life of homosexual sin, was recently discovered on gay hookup app Grindr.
Matt Moore, a blogger for the Christian Post, writes extensively about how Christianity has helped him to turn away from a gay lifestyle. But, apparently it didn't help him quite enough to steer him away from Grindr.
Freethought Blogs writer Zinnia Jones, LGBT rights activist and HuffPost GayVoices blogger, was the first to expose Moore's Grindr account on Monday. At first, she questioned if the account could be a fake, but Moore later admitted the Grindr profile was his.
The full story can be accessed here.
As if the more than 50,000 "It Gets Better" videos weren't enough to demonstrate to bullied LGBT teens that life improves — for the most part — after the acne years, a new scientific study proves the point with numbers.
High school students who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual tend to face higher rates of bullying in school than their heterosexual peers. But a new study suggests that things get better for these young people, with harassment declining as they get older and leave school.
The improvements, however, are relative for gay and bisexual boys, who face a greater likelihood of being victimized than heterosexual peers.
The full article can be accessed here.
President Obama, in a pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS' Scott Pelley yesterday, called on the Boy Scouts of America to end their ban on gay on gay scouts and leaders.
The President had a simple, one word answer, when asked if gays should be allowed in the Boy Scouts, "Yes."
He then went on to say, "Gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everyone else does."
You can view Pelley's question to the President, and the President's answer HERE.
Texas Governor and former presidential hopeful Rick Perry, an Eagle Sout, took a different position. "Hopefully the board will follow their historic position of keeping the Scouts strongly supportive of the values that make Scouting this very important and impactful organization. I think most people see absolutely no reason to change the position and neither do I," said Perry.
Perry concluded by saying, "to have popular culture impact 100 years of their standards is inappropriate. I think you get tolerance and diversity every day in Scouting."
The scouts Board is expected to vote on the anti-gay policy in the next week.
Support for marriage equality in Rhode Island is at an all-time high, according to a poll released yesterday by Public Policy Polling.
The results show a strong 57 percent of Rhode Islanders support same-sex couples' right to marry. Only 36 percent opposed marriage equality. Support has increased from just one year ago, when a PPP survey found 50 percent supported marriage equality, while 41 percent opposed.
Rhode Island’s Senate is expected to vote on marriage equality legislation in the spring, after its historic passage in the House last month.
From Public Policy Polling:
The other main finding on our Rhode Island poll is that voters in the state strongly support legalizing gay marriage- 57% support it to 36% who are opposed. When we polled the state on this issue in February 2011 there was 50/41 support for it, and the 12 point increase in the margin in favor of same sex marriage reflects the national movement on this issue over the last few years. Among Rhode Islanders under the age of 45 there's 65/31 support on the issue. Looking more broadly at legal rights for same sex couples 85% of voters, including 75% of Republicans, at least support civil unions. “If public opinion has anything to do with it Rhode Island will legalize gay marriage this year,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “Voters in the state strongly favor it and support is increasing by the year.”
Elton the Gay Dog. Sounds a bit like a children’s book used to teach kids about the lgbt community doesn’t it? Sadly it isn’t. It is the true story of Elton, a male pitbull/American bulldog mix who was sent off to be euthanized by his owner because he thought the dog was “gay.” And why did the owner, who lives in Jackson Tennessee, think his dog was gay? Because the dog was “humping” another male dog’s leg.
Fortunately the story has a happy ending. The story of Elton got picked up on Facebook and a campaign was started to try and save him. From Facebook:
This guy was signed over to RC, not bc he's mean or bc he tears things up, but because... His owner says he's gay! He hunched another male dog so his owner threw him away bc he refuses to have a "gay" dog! Even if that weren't the most assinine thing I've ever heard, its still discrimination! Don't let this gorgeous dog die bc his owner is ignorant of normal dog behavior! He's in kennel 10L and he WILL be put down tomorrow bc there is no room at the inn!
Stephanie Fryns saw the Facebook campaign and posted that she would be adopting the dog. "I am adopting this big boy first thing in the morning," she wrote on the Facebook page. "He will be neutered/ htwm tested/ and vetted. He will be temperament tested and then places in a rescue verified and approved home."
Stephanie adopted Elton yesterday morning only hours before he was scheduled to be euthanized. According to Stephanie, Elton is doing well so far. "[Elton] was pretty friendly so far. He’s pretty scared of everything, which is understandable. But he loved the car ride.”
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man accused of inventing a fake girl as part of an elaborate hoax played on Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o is now claiming to be a “recovering homosexual.”
Tuiasosopo allegedly impersonated a female named Lennay Kekua and embarked on a three year relationship with Te’o which resulted in Te’o referring to Kekua as his “girlfriend” on many occasions.
Appearing on the Dr. Phil show Tuiasosopo was asked if he is gay. "I asked him, straight up, was this a romantic relationship with you?" said Dr. Phil "And he says, 'yes.' I then said, are you then, therefore, gay? He says, 'Well, when you put it that way, yes.' And then, he caught himself and said, 'I am confused.'"
Tuiasosopo went on to say, “You’ve heard of recovering drug addicts? It takes a lot of courage to stand and say that. To recover from homosexuality and this type of thing. Not only that, coming back to your real life, as hard as a task as that is I’m going to do all that I can to live right.”
According to excerpts released from the show Tuiasosopo also discussed his “confused” sexual identity and said that he "fell deeply, romantically in love" Te’o over the course of their relationship.
Tuiasosopo also stated that Te’o played absolutely no part in the hoax and was unaware that Kekua was not, in fact, a real female.
(Update -- after posting this article Chris Culliver, through the San Francisco 49er public relations staff, has issued the following apology, "The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.")
The Human Rights Campaign is condemning comments by San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver in which he says gay players wouldn’t be welcome on his team. The homophobic remarks stand in stark contrast to the numerous NFL players who advocate for equality – including Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo, an outspoken straight ally who will take the field against Culliver this Sunday.
Culliver made the remarks during a Super Bowl media day interview yesterday, telling a radio host: "I don't do the gay guys man. I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do….Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can't be…in the locker room man.”
“Chris Culliver’s comments represent the height of ignorance and the type of homophobic banter that professional athletes rarely use anymore,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “Chris Culliver’s irrational rant against LGBT people is reprehensible, and the fact that he is about to face off in the Super Bowl against Brendon Ayanbadejo – a steadfast ally for our community – only exacerbates how unacceptable his comments are. Culliver should recognize how far most of his fellow athletes have come on this issue and apologize immediately.”
The Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo is one of the most prominent voices in the NFL advocating for equality – he donated a good deal of his time to the recent successful push for marriage equality in Maryland. Chris Kluwe, with the Minnesota Vikings, is another NFL player who has spoken out frequently for LGBT Americans.
In addition to facing off against Ayanbadejo this weekend, Culliver’s comments also may not sit well with many of his own teammates on the 49ers. The 49ers were the first NFL team to film an ‘It Gets The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization – is condemning comments by San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver in which he says gay players wouldn’t be welcome on his team. The homophobic remarks stand in stark contrast to the numerous NFL players who advocate for equality – including Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo, an outspoken straight ally who will take the field against Culliver this Sunday.
In addition to facing off against Ayanbadejo this weekend, Culliver’s comments also may not sit well with many of his own teammates on the 49ers. The 49ers were the first NFL team to film an ‘It Gets Better’ video aimed at LGBT youth.
Are French bishops of the Roman Catholic Church for or against same-sex marriage laws that are being considered in France? Without answering a definitive 'oui' or 'non,' they recently released a document entitled "Expand Marriage to Persons of the Same Sex? Let's Open the Debate!" which keeps the question open.FULL ENTRY
Recently released framework for immigration reform does not address the issue of same-sex couples who are legally married in the U.S., and if you believe Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, it will remain that way. When asked the question about same-sex couples Graham responded, "Why don't we just put legalized abortion in there and round it all out."
Graham went on to warn that if President Obama pushes to include same-sex couples, the reform initiative will fail.
It looks as though Graham’s warning has fallen on deaf ears. According to White House spokesman Jay Carney President Obama believes there is a need to recognize same-sex couples as families as part of immigration law.
"The president believes that it should be included and that should come as no surprise," Carney said. "As we've said all along, this is consistent with the principles he has laid out over the last four years. And the president has long believed that Americans with same-sex partners from other countries should not be faced with the painful choice between staying with the person they love or staying in the country they love."
Several other members of the committee working on the legislation, including Sen. Chuck Shumer and Sen. John McCain have said it is too early to tell whether or not language addressing same-sex couples will be added.
"We haven't even gotten that far yet," McCain said. "This is thrown out by the people who think we have gotten into the details, which we haven't. We haven't gotten into those kind of details."
A new study found that gay people who come out are less stressed than closeted gay people. The research, published in Psychosomatic Medicine and conducted by Canadian researchers, further discovered that openly gay people tend to be even more relaxed than their heterosexual counterparts.
The Telegraph reports:FULL ENTRY
According to an exclusive report from NBC news, the Boy Scouts of America is very close to ending its policy of banning gay scouts and gay scout leaders. NBC is citing a source who is “familiar with internal discussions.”
Under the new rules the BSA would leave it up to local councils who would be free to decide for themselves on whether to admit gay scouts and scout leaders
“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” said Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization. He went on to state that parents “would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families,” Smith said.
The NBC report states that the new policy, if approved, could be announced as early as next week. The genesis of the proposed change is apparently due to pressure coming from many of the local councils.
"We're a grassroots organization. This is a response to what's happening at the local level," said one official from the BSA
As previously reported by Boston Spirit magazine, many Massachusetts based Boy Scout councils already allow for gay scouts and leaders.
The Ontario legislature in Canada has elected Kathleen Wynne to lead the government, making her the first openly gay premier of a Canadian province.
The Canadian Press is reporting on the historic nature of the event:FULL ENTRY
Global rally for gay marriage rights in France planned for Sunday includes Boston, Montréal, and more
This Sunday, January 27, rallies are being planned in cities around the world — including in Boston, Buenos Aires, Rome, and Montréal — in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in France.
A press release from Boston Pride explains:
The French government and parliament are currently working on a Marriage Equality bill which will allow LGBT couples the right to marry and adopt children. While anti-equality forces have shown great determination and have chosen to adopt a retrograde and homophobic discourse, marriage equality proponents will rally everywhere in France this Sunday, in support of the continuation of the French legislative work so that all couples may be granted the same rights: marriage, adoption, recognition of bi-national filiation etc… French expatriates around the world are expected to organize rallies as well.
Française du Monde, a global French political and cultural organization is organizing the demonstrations around the world
In Boston, the protest is being held at the Consulate General of France, 31 St. James Street, Boston.FULL ENTRY
This week, the Connecticut legislature confirmed Andrew J. McDonald as a justice for the supreme court. He is the first openly gay person to serve on the state's highest court.
The General Assembly overwhelmingly confirmed former Stamford state Sen. Andrew McDonald as the newest member Connecticut's State Supreme Court and the state's first openly gay appellate jurist.
An article in The CT Mirror noted that McDonald's sexual orientation did not come up as an issue during debate, although other issues did, such as his lack of experience as a judge, and suspected biases based on prior legislation he worked on:FULL ENTRY
Count Jim Harbaugh, Coach of the Super Bowl bound San Francisco 49ers among those in professional sports who would welcome a gay player on his team.
Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle’s IPad 49ers magazine Harbaugh stated “I ask all players to play through their own personality and be who they are. What you ask of a player is to be a great teammate and be a good player. My expectations would be the same. Personally, there’s no discrimination in my heart.”
Harbaugh went on to say that he would treat the player the same as any other player.
Most players on the 49ers echoed the sentiments of their coach.
“At the end of the day, we are all family in this locker room, and we accept each player for whoever they are,” said linebacker Larry Grant. “Whatever makes you happy, do it,” cornerback Tarell Brown said. “I just feel like, you shouldn’t hide it. At the end of the day don’t be embarrassed with what you are, or what you do. If you are that way, that’s you.”
The 49ers are the only NFL team to have produced a video for the It Gets Better Project. In the video several members of the team deliver the following message:
There’s nothing easy about being young. About being yourself. About being an individual. Every day brings different changes and challenges that define who you are. But something you should never experiences is being bullied, intimidated or being pressured into being someone or something you are not. The San Francisco 49ers are proud to join It Gets Better.org to let all LGBT teens know that It Gets Better. Believe in yourself, set goals for yourself. Look to the future and it will get better.
You can see the video HERE
Not to be outdone, the Baltimore Ravens also have a representative playing in the game that is speaking about lgbt related issues. Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo, an ardent supported of marriage equality, is looking to use his platform in front of the massive press corps covering the game to advance the cause. Ayanbadejo recently emailed several marriage equality supports asking, “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”
“It’s one of those times when you’re really passionate and in your zone. And I got to thinking about all kinds of things, and I thought: how can we get our message out there,” Ayanbadejo recently told the New York Times. “I was raised around gay people in a very liberal society. Discrimination was never allowed" he continued.
In 2009, Ayanbadejo,in a blog post for Huffington Post, wrote, "If Britney Spears can party it up in Vegas with one of her boys and go get married on a whim and annul her marriage the next day, why can't a loving same sex couple tie the knot? The divorce rate in America is currently 50 percent. I am willing to bet that same sex marriages have a higher success rate than heterosexual marriages."
And finally, readers of sports illustrated will get a little surprise when they open the current issue. The magazine will feature a photo (below) taken at Hi Tops, a gay sports bar in San Francisco, showing two men kissing to celebrate the 49ers win that sent the team to the Super Bowl.
Rhode Island took another step toward becoming the final state in New England to allow same-sex couples to marry on Thursday when the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a same-sex marriage bill.
The final count was 51 in the affirmative and 19 in the negative, with five members not in attendance for the vote.
“It was important that this House of Representatives stood and finally said we stand for equality, we stand for justice, we stand for tolerance in the shadow of our great founder Roger Williams,” said House Speaker Gordon Fox.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where a contentious battle is expected to unfold. Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, is an opponent of the bill, but she has indicated she will not block a vote out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judiciary Committee Chairman Michael McCaffrey, D-Warwick, is also vote against the legislation, but advocates say they are confident the committee will allow the bill to go before the full Senate.
Fox, who is openly gay, said he plans to speak to Paiva Weed regularly about the legislation and said he is isn’t concerned about the bill being held up until the House approves other pieces of legislation that the Senate may want passed.
“Just pass it,” he said.
Thursday’s vote came following 70 minutes of generally civil discussion on the House floor and was met with loud cheers from the several hundred supporters in attendance. For 23-year-old Kyle Marnane and 27-year-old Donny McKendall, both of Cranston, the passage was the culmination of years of lobbying to bring a same-sex marriage bill to a vote.
“This took a lot of hard work and a lot of momentum over the past couple of years so it was nice to see it all come together now in the House,” Marnane said.
The couple is planning to get married next year in Massachusetts, but said they’d like to get married in Rhode Island.
“The fact that now it’s come and we can see it coming is just so exciting,” McKendall said.
But not all lawmakers were pleased with the outcome of the vote. Rep. Doc Corvese, D-North Providence, delivered an 11-minute speech chastising those who support same-sex marriage. Corvese called the legislation an “irrevocable, societal game changer.” He predicted the bill will have trouble passing in the Senate.
“I think the absence of religious rights of conscience legislation will be noted by the Senate,” Corvese said.
Rep. Doreen Costa, who voted in favor of the legislation in Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee meeting, voted against the bill Thursday. She said she plans to submit a letter of opposition with 7,500 signatures to Senate.
“It had its day today,” Costa said. “It is what it is.”
Other lawmakers said they put their religious views aside to vote in favor of the bill. House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, admitted that as recently as three years ago, he didn’t support same-sex marriage. But he said his change of heart came because he believes that marriages are public contracts and “everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law.”
“I’ve given a lot of thought over the past three years and I finally came to conclusion that you have to separate your personal religious viewpoints from the needs of society at large,” Mattiello said.
Nine states and Washington D.C. currently allow same-sex couples to marry. In 2011, Rhode Island lawmakers approved a bill that allows gay couples to enter into civil unions, but critics say an amendment that allows religious institutions to not recognize the law has stopped couples from seeking civil unions.
Last September, a WPRI 12 poll found that 56.3% of registered voters support legalizing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, with 36% opposed and 7.8% unsure.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who last year signed an executive order recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages, called the vote a “significant step forward.” He called on the Senate to pass the legislation.
“Although this vote is indeed historic, there is still a long way to go, now that the House has swiftly acted, I urge Senate leadership to ‘call the roll’ – for our economy, for our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors, and for history,” Chafee said.
Senior class awards are an annual event at just about every high school in the country. Whether it’s Most Popular, or Most Likely to Succeed, we all have aging yearbooks that remind us of who was supposed to succeed.
While most of us tend to forget our award winning classmates over time, that will probably not be the case for Jacob Rudolph’s senior classmates in Parsippany, New Jersey. Rudolph was on stage in front of his entire class to accept the award for Class Actor when he began an acceptance speech that will not soon be forgotten. .
"Sure I've been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly, I've been acting every single day of my life," Rudolph said. "You see, I've been acting as someone I'm not. Most of you see me every day. You see me acting the part of "straight" Jacob, when I am in fact LGBT. Unlike millions of other LGBT teens who have had to act every day to avoid verbal harassment and physical violence, I'm not going to do it anymore. It's time to end the hate in our society and accept the people for who they are regardless of their sex, race, orientation, or whatever else may be holding back love and friendship. So take me, leave me, or move me out of the way. Because I am what I am, and that's how I'm going to act from now on.
Video of Rudolph’s speech, uploaded by his father, has become an internet sensation. Rudolph’s father also went on to say that his son’s speech "took more guts to do than anything I've ever attempted in my life."
As for Jacob, "It felt like this immense weight was gone," he stated. "I'd been carrying it around with me for years. It affected me academically, emotionally, socially. It's like my life is now before and after. I think that explanation is what made this whole process make sense."
In the United Kingdom, Parliament will pass legislation shortly to allow for the first child of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge to rule as monarch regardless of whether they are a boy or a girl. Along with that legislation is a new amendment proposed by Labour MP Paul Flynn. The amendment will extend the protection to include the eventuality that the child is gay or lesbian.
If accepted, the change to the law could lea to the reign of an openly gay or lesbian king or queen and for their same-sex partner to be recognized as consort. Any children born to the couple through artificial insemination or surrogacy would succeed to the throne so long as the couple are in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership. Current inheritance laws mean that if the couple had a child through adoption, they would not join the line of succession for the throne and it is not clear MPs would seek to change this.
John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, would need accept the amendment in order to continue to full debate. This looks to be a certainty as Bercow is a strong ally to the lgbt community and a supporter of lgbt rights.
As we ready ourselves to celebrate what would have been Rev. Martin Luther King’s 84th birthday an article in Huffington Post by local Rev. Irene Monroe asks the question ‘Would King, a champion of civil rights, have been a vocal supporter of equal rights for the lgbt community?’
As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day 2013, we no longer have to hold King up to a godlike standard. All the hagiographies written about King after his assassination have come under scrutiny as we have come to better understand all of him: his greatness and his flaws and human foibles. As I comb through numerous books and essays, learning more about King's philandering, his sexist attitude toward women at home and in the movement, and his tenuous relationship with the openly gay Bayard Rustin, I am wondering whether King really would be a public advocate for LGBTQ rights.
Monroe goes on to report that King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, while speaking to Lambda Legal, an organization of lawyers supporting lgbt rights, stated they she felt Dr. King would have been a supporter of the cause. "I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King's dream to make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people," said Scott King.
Monroe, however, appears less convinced and goes on to offer up recent examples via other members of Dr. King’s family:
King's youngest and only living daughter, Rev. Bernice King, who has been rumored for years to be a lesbian, as well as his niece, Alveda King, have historically thought otherwise. In 2004 the cousins, along with thousands of protesters, participated in a march against same-sex marriage in Atlanta. In January 2005 Newsweek asked Alveda, who has aligned herself with the religious right and frequently wields her family name and her voice against LGBTQ rights, whether Martin Luther King would be a champion of LGBTQ rights. "No, he would champion the word of God," she replied. "If he would have championed gay rights today, he would have done it while he was here. There was ample opportunity for him to champion gay rights during his lifetime, and he did not do so." She added, "My cousin, the Rev. Bernice King, has said that she knows in her sanctified soul that her father did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage."
And finally there is this, from Bayard Rustin, whom many considered to be Dr. King’s chief strategist and most trusted advisor:
Martin Luther King, with whom I worked very closely, became very distressed when a number of the ministers working for him wanted him to dismiss me from his staff because of my homosexuality. Martin set up a committee to discover what he should do. They said that, despite the fact that I had contributed tremendously to the organization ... they thought that I should separate myself from Dr. King. This was the time when [Rev. Adam Clayton] Powell threatened to expose my so-called homosexual relationship with Dr. King.(In an effort to marginalize Rustin, several people conjured up rumors of a homosexual relationship between Rustin and King)
Rustin offered to resign and King did not reject the offer. "Basically [King] said I can't take on two queers at one time," according to one of Rustin's associates.
Monroe concludes by recalling a letter she wrote to an associate on the topic, "I agree that you have to wonder whether King would support LGBTQ rights today, even if he felt he couldn't in the 60s. You'd like to think he would given his courageous stands otherwise. I now believe that not only would King not have supported LGBTQ rights but his relevance on social issues would have continued to wane considerably had he survived.”
Did Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o take part in an elaborate hoax, which included having a girlfriend who didn’t actually exist, to hide the fact that he is gay?
That’s one of the many questions being asked these days as journalists, sports fans, and the general public struggle to come up with an explanation for Te’o’s behavior. Te’o told his heartbreaking story of the passing of his grandmother and girlfriend within hours of one another. He said that he and Lennay Kekua had met online several years ago and that she had died of leukemia shortly after his grandmother had also passed away.
A recent article on the website Deadspin has revealed that Kekua never existed. From Deadspin:
There was no Lennay Kekua. Lennay Kekua did not meet Manti Te’o after the Stanford game in 2009. Lennay Kekua did not attend Stanford. Lennay Kekua never visited Manti Te’o in Hawaii. Lennay Kekua was not in a car accident. Lennay Kekua did not talk to Manti Te’o every night on the telephone. She was not diagnosed with cancer, did not spend time in the hospital, did not engage in a lengthy battle with leukemia. She never had a bone marrow transplant. She was not released from the hospital on Sept. 10, nor did Brian Te’o congratulate her for this over the telephone. She did not insist that Manti Te’o play in the Michigan State or Michigan games, and did not request he send white flowers to her funeral. Her favorite color was not white. Her brother, Koa, did not inform Manti Te’o that she was dead. Koa did not exist. Her funeral did not take place in Carson, Calif., and her casket was not closed at 9 a.m. exactly. She was not laid to rest. Lennay Kekua’s last words to Manti Te’o were not “I love you.”
Reports have now surfaced that Te’o’s friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was the person behind Kekua’s fake twitter account and that Te’o and Tuiasosopo had seen each other as recently as November when Notre Dame played USC in Southern California.
Here is Te’o’s take on the entire incident, “this is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.”
Concludes Cyd Ziegler of Outsports.com:
I personally don’t know (whether Te’o is gay). But it seems to be the question everyone is asking. If he is, I hope he finds strength and acceptance; The vast majority of his friends, teammates and fans will support him whole-heartedly. If he’s not, I hope he can answer some questions, because people want to know why on earth he would concoct this totally fabricated story — including eight-hour phone calls — if they never happened. I can certainly understand why people think this might be pointing to his sexual orientation. There has never been a publicly out NFL player. There has never been a publicly out Div. 1 football player. But we know they’re out there. And if they were out there and wanted to hide their sexual orientation — or a relationship with another man — a fictitious girlfriend is a good way to do it.
President Obama has replaced conservative, anti-LGBT Rev. Louie Giglio with pro-LGBT Rev. Luis Leon to deliver the benediction at the upcoming inauguration on January 21st.
The original choice of Giglio caused a bit of an uproar in the lgbt community as audio tape of the conservative evangelical surfaced in which he spoke out against the “aggressive agenda” of the gay community and went on to say that gay people could change their lifestyle “through the healing power of Jesus.” Giglio asked out of the inauguration fearing that his prayer would be "dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration."
Leon's parish is known for welcoming openly gay members. The church has had a gay bishop, blesses same-sex marriages and has stated that it would ordain transgender priests.
Both President Obama (and his family) and former President George W. Bush (and his family) have attended Rev. Leon’s Episcopal church on a fairly regular basis.
Leon was baptized into the Episcopal Church in Guantanamo, Cuba. In 1961, when he was 12 years old, he came to the U.S. and settled in Miami. A graduate of the University of the South, he has a Masters in Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary, and in 1999 was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of the South. He is well known for teaching courses nationwide in parish building and stewardship
While accepting the Cecil B. Demille award at the Golden Globes Sunday night actress Jodie Foster revealed what many have know for years…that she is a lesbian.
"While I’m here being all confessional, I just have the sudden urge to say something I’ve never been able to air in public,” said Foster. “A declaration that I’m a little nervous about. Not quite as nervous as my publicist, huh, Jennifer? But uh, you know, I’m just going to put it out there. Loud and proud. I’m going to need your support. I am -- single!" she continued.
"I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age. In those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends, and family, coworkers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her."
Foster concluded by adding, "If you had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you, too, would value privacy above all else."
A host of celebrities have commented on her speech including former Red Sox player Jose Canseco who, apparently, was so moved that he would like to become a lesbian too!
Here are a few celebrity tweets:
Wow Jodie Foster at golden globes makes me want to join the lesbians
Pure Jodie, rightfully defending her privacy while doing it with brains and a smile. She is pure class.
Yep, the Jodie Foster speech got me. Well done lady.
Jodi Foster is one of the most amazing actresses of all time. More than that she is one of the most amazing people.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson:
Jodie Foster. You are perfection. I love you.
Jodi Foster On your terms. Its your time! Not before nor after. Its when it feels right!
Jodie Foster is an inspiration. Incredible speaker. So moving.
History will be made this weekend when Kylan Arianna Wenzel, 26, competes in the Miss California USA pageant. Wenzel, 26, will be the first ever transgender women to compete in a Miss Universe Organization Pageant.
The rules for the pageant, until a recent change, had stated that all contestants had to be “naturally born women.” This rule was changed by pageant organizer Donald Trump after an earlier pageant had disqualified Jenna Talackova of Canada upon learning that Talackova is a transgender woman.
“The first time I watched a beauty pageant was when I was 11, in 1997, when Miss USA won Miss Universe. And ever since then, it’s kind of been implanted in my brain,” Wenzel told Frontiers during a Jan. 3 phone interview. “I wasn’t sure how it would happen for me, but it was something I put out there. You have to put it out to the universe—what you want to do—and you have to follow up on it,” Wenzel continued. “So, let’s say for transgender individuals, even if you haven’t had your sex change and you’re not sure, you have to act like you are Miss Universe or you are the woman you see yourself being. And you do that in everyday life. So I just worked really hard. I saved for surgery. I started getting procedures early like laser hair removal—things like that. It really is about believing in yourself. But you also need people to believe in you, because you can’t really get that far, sometimes, when you don’t have that kind of support.”
“I always knew I was female, but it was really hard to register those feelings because of my development growing up,” Wenzel said. “And I also come from a very abusive background. But no matter how much I got beaten or what I was going through, there was kind of a fire in me that just said, I will! and I can, no matter what they say!”
On her beauty, Wenzel says, “We all know that beauty is just skin deep. Beauty is not something that is earned—it’s something you’re born with or the doctor helps you with, whatever. Beauty is what you do with it. [The judges of Miss Universe or Miss USA] always pick someone who embodies a certain kind of role model. It’s the girl that understands that the platform represents something bigger than themselves—that when they win this, it’s not about them but what they can do for others. If you want to be successful in life, it’s not about what you can win or how much money you make. It really, really starts by serving others. When you can develop a connection and you can serve other people, people will follow you, because, first, you’re inspirational, and two, you become influential. What the pageant does—it motivates every individual girl to really become the best of themselves. They’re trying to find the highest expression of themselves.”
Pageant producer Keith Lewis finds Wenzel inspiring. “I so admire what Kylan’s doing, because she’s fought so hard to be here,” Lewis told Frontiers. “I think she will be successful in whatever she decides to do in her life. When we talked about her participating, she said, I really just want the other girls to accept me. And I think they not only accept her but will celebrate her because she’s loving and she’s open and courageous and she’s trying to do the best she can, like pretty much all of the rest of us.”
According to an article in the Providence Journal, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee would veto a bill that would put marriage equality up for a statewide vote. Democratic state senator Frank Ciccone has hinted at introducing such a bill.
Chaffe, a supporter of marriage equality, believes that elected officials should be allowed to decide the issue.
It is expected that Rhode Island will join the other five New England states in allowing same sex marriages in the near future. The current make up of the state legislature appears to carry enough votes to pass a marriage equality bill which Chafee has already stated he will sign into law.
One past sticking point in similar proposed legislation in Rhode Island has been language that would allow religious organizations the power to have "exclusive control over its own religious doctrine, policy, and teachings regarding who may marry within their faith, and on what terms." Language in any new bill is expected to protect clergy from being obligated to officiate any ceremony that is against their religious principles.
At this point even the most ardent opponents of marriage equality realize that Rhode Island will soon complete the New England map of states allowing for same sex marriages.
Pastor Louis Giglio, who had been slated to perform the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration, has withdrawn from the program. Giglio had a history of anti-LGBT rhetoric, including advocating for ex-gay therapy. HRC President Chad Griffin released the following statement in response to this news:
"It was the right decision. Participants in the Inaugural festivities should unite rather than divide. Choosing an affirming and fair-minded voice as his replacement would be in keeping with the tone the president wants to set for his Inaugural."
Giglio’s serman, "In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality," states that being gay is a sinful choice and that gay people will be prevented from "entering the Kingdom of God."
The "only way out of a homosexual lifestyle ... is through the healing power of Jesus. We’ve got to say to the homosexuals, the same thing that I say to you and that you would say to me … it’s not easy to change, but it is possible to change."
In its fourth annual ranking of LGBT municipalities, Advocate, a national LGBT news magazine, ranked two New England cities in its top 15. Providence, Rhode Island came in 12th, and Springfield, Massachusetts — yes Springfield! — holds the number 2 position.
The survey employs unorthodox criteria, such as how many roller derby leagues a city has.
With places like New York City and Provincetown not even cracking the top 25, the list defies expectations.
Here's how the Advocate explained its Springfield ranking:FULL ENTRY
In Rush Limbaugh's radio show yesterday, he compared an effort to "normalize pedophilia" with the battle for civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Here's some of what he said:
There is an effort underway to normalize pedophilia. Yep. And it has two aspects to it. One is that sex with children doesn't hurt them. Kids like it, and so do adults, and there's nothing wrong with it. It is something... I want to take you back. I want you to remember the first time, wherever you were, that you heard about gay marriage, and I want you to try to recall your reaction -- your first gut reaction -- when you heard that some activists or somebody was trying to promote the notion of gay marriage. What was your initial reaction?
"Aw, come on. It'll never happen. That's silly. What are you talking about?"
There is a movement on to normalize pedophilia, and I guarantee you your reaction to that is probably much the same as your reaction when you first heard about gay marriage. What has happened to gay marriage? It's become normal -- and in fact, with certain people in certain demographics it's the most important issue in terms of who they vote for. So don't pooh-pooh. There's a movement to normalize pedophilia. Don't pooh-pooh it. The people behind it are serious, and you know the left as well as I do. They glom onto something and they don't let go.
Today, the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post exposing former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) long history of anti-gay positions. He is widely believed to be President Obama’s pick for Secretary of Defense, and could be nominated by the President as early as today.
The Washington Post ad addresses Chuck Hagel’s recent apology by stating, “Chuck Hagel’s Apology: Too Little, Too Late.” Hagel’s apology was submitted after his anti-gay remarks opposing the Ambassadorship of James Hormel for being "openly, aggressively, gay" surfaced in the media. In Hagel's apology to Politico he said his comments did not reflect the "totality of [his] public record."
A bit more on Hagel’s past with the lgbt community:
In 1996 Hagel said he supported the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law defining marriage as one man and one woman. He also supported a state constitutional amendment barring gays from marrying.
In 1998 Hagel opposed the nomination of James Hormel as Ambassador to Luxembourg, arguing that an "openly, aggressively gay" man should not be selected to represent the U.S.
In 1999 Hagel opposed repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, saying, "the U.S. armed forces aren't some social experiment."
In 2005, in reaction to a federal judge's ruling that Nebraska's voter-passed ban on same-sex marriage violated the constitutional rights of lesbians and gay men, Hagel opposed the decision saying, "I am hopeful the federal appeals court will recognize the rights of Nebraskans to determine their own laws governing marriage and reverse this decision."
"At Chuck Hagel's request, we looked into the 'totality' of his public record on gay rights, and it did nothing to assuage our concerns that his anti-gay record makes him the wrong choice to oversee the ongoing integration of gays and lesbians in the military," stated Gregory T. Angelo, Interim Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans. "Until his name surfaced as a potential nominee for Secretary of Defense, he has stood firmly and aggressively against not only gay marriage, but also against gay people in general. Log Cabin Republicans helped lead the charge to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and is extremely invested in seeing that we don't lose any ground due to a lack of sincere commitment to gay people and their families on the part of the incoming Defense Secretary."
Today's ad is Log Cabin's second to condemn Hagel, following a December 27th advertisement in The New York Times.
Retiring Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank has revered course and now says that he is interested in filling the senate seat that will open up when current Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is appointed Secretary of State.
Frank, appearing on msnbc's "Morning Joe", had the following to say:
“A few weeks ago said, I said wasn't interested. It was kind of like, you're about to graduate and they said, you've got to go to summer school. But that [fiscal cliff] deal now means that February, March, and April are going to be among the most important months in American financial history."
Frank continued, "Yes, in fact, I'm not going to be coy, it's not anything I've ever been good at. I've told the governor that I would now like, frankly, to be a part of that. It's only a three-month period, I wouldn't want to do anything more, but to be honest, it's a little arrogant."
"Coach, put me in."
The temporary appointment to fill Senator Kerry's seat is expected to last until sometime this summer.
The Boston PrideSports Awards organizing committee has announced the 2013 award nominees. Winners will be announced at the Gala which will take place at the Westin Waterfront hotel in Saturday night, January 26th.
And the nominees are:
Inspiring Athlete Award
Steve Harrington – Boston Gay Basketball League
Bryan Innocenti – Tennis4All
Michael Kloc – Ironsides Rugby Football Club
David Bolivar – Boston Pride Hockey
Marc Davino – Boston Gay Basketball League
Luciano Grubissich – Boston Ironsides Rugby Football Club
Richard Moore – FLAG Flag Football
John Natale – Boston Strikers Soccer Club
Caros Terra – Tennis4All
Rob Silliman – Beantown South Bowling League
Kiwi Diaz – Boston Ironsides Rugby Club
Cliff Gibbons – Tennis4All
Brad Mayeux – Boston Gay Basketball League
Robert Saurer – FLAG Flag Football
Jay Biethan – Liquid Assets New England Swim Team
Alexander Cerone – Boston Ironsides Rugby Football League
Jake Culley - Monday Night Bowling League
Rick Doyon – Cambridge Boston Volleyball Association
Craig Haas – FLAG Flag Football
Dave Hodges – Beantown Soft-Tip Dart League
Troy Liston – Boston Strikers Soccer Club
Elaine Otte – Beantown Softball League
Bob Quist – Boston Gay Basketball League
Rob Silliman – Beantown South Bowling League
Rudy Vargas – Boston Pride Hockey
Chris Wood – Tennis4All
Winners will be announced at the Gala on January 26th. Join local, out, sports columnist Steve Buckley and hundreds of local athletes and friends for a great night of food, fun, and dancing. The event is open to everyone and tickets are only $60. For more information and to purchase tickets CLICK HERE or visit BostonSpiritMagazine.com
As Republicans in the House of Representatives ramped up to the recent ‘fiscal cliff’ showdown one message front and center was the need for spending cuts. Apparently those cuts do not apply when fighting the Defense of Marriage Act is concerned.
In a recent meeting the House Republican Conference gave the go ahead to the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG -- the House legal team) to continue paying outside counsel to defend DOMA.
According to a report released in October by Democrats on the House Administration Committee, BLAG has already spent more than $1.5 million to defend DOMA after the Obama administration decided to cease defending DOMA after finding it unconstitutional.
Huffington Post obtained a draft of the bill which is expected to pass the House shortly:
(1) CONTINUING AUTHORITY FOR THE BIPARTISAN LEGAL ADVISORY GROUP.
(A) The House authorizes the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the 113th Congress –
(i) to act as successor in interest to the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the 112th Congress with respect to civil actions in which it intervened in the 112th Congress to defend the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (1 U.S.C. 7) or related provisions of titles 10, 31, and 38, United States Code, including in the case of Windsor v. United States, 833 F. Supp.2d 394 (S.D.N.Y. June 6, 2012), aff'd, 699 F.3d 169 (2d Cir. Oct. 18, 2012), cert. granted, No. 12–307 (Dec. 7, 2012), cert. pending No. 12–63 (July 16, 2012) and 12-ll (Dec.___2012);
(ii) to take such steps as may be appropriate to ensure continuation of such civil actions; and
(iii) to intervene in other cases that involve a challenge to the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act or related provisions of titles 10, 31, and 38, United States Code.
(B) Pursuant to clause 8 of rule II, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group continues to speak for, and articulate the institutional position of, the House in all litigation matters in which it appears, including in Windsor v. United States.
Windsor v. United States was recently added to the list of cases to be brought before the Supreme Court in 2013.
According to Rhode Island state Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Cranston), he will introduce legislation tomorrow that would allow gay couples to marry in Rhode Island. Since the November elections, when Maine passed a law allowing for same sex marriages, Rhode Island has been the only New England state that does not allow for marriage equality.
Handy is currently working on getting co-sponsors for the bill and will most certainly approach openly gay House Speaker Gordon Fox.
One past sticking point in similar proposed legislation in Rhode Island has been language that would allow religious organizations the power to have "exclusive control over its own religious doctrine, policy, and teachings regarding who may marry within their faith, and on what terms." The language would protect clergy from being obligated to officiate any ceremony that is against their religious principles.
The good, the bad, the in-between — what made the news for New England LGBTs in 2012
• The Advocate ranked Cambridge as the 3rd-gayest city in America in its annual report. The designation came with references to the town’s having nude yoga classes, WNBA teams, and appearances by bands such as the Veronicas and the Cliks. (Boston received an honorable mention at 24.)
• The Health Resources and Services Administration, of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, awarded a $248,000 grant to The Fenway Institute to fund the creation of a national training and technical assistance center for LGBT health issues, marking the first time the HRSA has funded an LGBT-focused cooperative agreement of this scale.
• Mayors for the Freedom to Marry organization launched with 116 New England mayors and counting. The bipartisan coalition affirmed their support of same-sex couples to marry, saying “it enhances the economic competitiveness of our communities, improves the lives of families that call our cities home, and is simply the right thing to do.” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is one of five co-chairs.
Pope Benedict XVI used his annual Christmas address to the Vatican to take aim at homosexuals, who he said were destroying the “very essence of the human creature.”
"People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being," he said. "They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man's fundamental choice where he himself is concerned," he said.
"When freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God," Benedict continued.
The Pope went on to say that allowing gays to adopt children was “an attack” on the traditional family.
Several Catholic groups in the U.S. were quick to respond to the Pope’s remarks.
"Increasingly Catholics in the United States and around the world see what we see. Catholics, following their own well-formed consciences, are voting to support equal rights for LGBT people because in their churches and communities they see a far healthier, godly and realistic vision of the human family than the one offered by the pope," said a statement from the groups Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.
Barney Frank on coming out, legalizing marijuana and prostitution, the Supreme Court and the future of LGBT rights
Outgoing Congressman Barney Frank sat down recently for an interview with Huffington Post Senior Editor Michelangelo Signorile. Frank was, as usual, very candid in discussing topics ranging from his ‘coming out’ in 1987, the legalization of prostitution and marijuana, Prop 8 and the Supreme Court, and the future of LGBT rights.
Here are a few highlights:
On coming out:
“I simply would not have won in 1980 if I was out,” he continued. “The fact would have destroyed my chances. I didn’t deny it but just did not volunteer it. I came to Washington and it was just not satisfactory. I told myself, ‘I’m going to be a gay man privately and publicly I’m not going to say anything.’ And what I learned is that, particularly in a prominent position, you can’t live half gay and half closeted. So I decided to come out, and I was wrestling with when to do it, and the Stewart McKinney funeral drove me over the top.”
Regarding the legalization of prostitution (and marijuana):
“I always have thought prostitution should be legal,” he said. “I know people said, ‘Oh it victimizes women.’ And the women are vulnerable. We’ve seen this recently where the women are prosecuted when the customers, the men customers, have gotten away with it. But I think in the first place it’s a matter of personal choice. I’m for legalizing marijuana. I’m for legalizing gambling. I don’t think the government should be trying to make you a better person. But beyond that, the practical effect, the women, who are predominantly the prostitutes, they’re worse off when it’s illegal, because they’re outside protection of the law. They’re more subject to violence and subject to abuse because they can’t go to the law for protection.”
On the upcoming session in which the Supreme Court will hear arguments on Prop 8:
“I was critical of the decision to take Prop 8 to court,” he said. “I don’t the think the five-member Supreme Court majority that we have is ready to declare that there is a constitutional right to marry everywhere. To bring a lawsuit when you’re not likely to win it, prematurely, is a mistake. So I was very critical of those people in California who were doing that. When the Supreme Court decides the Prop 8 case, what I believe is likely to happen is that they will accept the decision by of the circuit court in the west coast [ the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had narrowed the decision to apply only to California]. It’s people being rescued from themselves. Some of them are still trying to push the broader case, which I think is a mistake.”
On Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s well known anti-lgbt views:
“I was glad that he made clear what’s been obvious, that he’s just a flat out bigot,” Frank said. “I’d previously said he was a homophobe. And Fox and the rightwing said, ‘Oh just because he’s not for same-sex marriage? And I said, ‘No, let me be very clear. That’s not it. This is a man who has said you should go to prison for having sex.’ It was an extraordinarily abusive sentiment and it was dead wrong. And, by the way, for a guy who is supposed to be so smart -- quite stupid.This young man said to him, ‘Why do you compare sodomy to murder?’ And he said, ‘Well because I have a right to say if I think something is immoral.’ Well the question wasn’t about his right. The question was, By what morality is expressing your love for someone in a physical way equivalent to killing that person? It makes it clear that the man is an unreconstructed bigot, and given that you have a bigot on the Supreme Court like that, it is useful to know.”
Regarding the future of LGBT rights:
“The next time we have a Democratic House, president and Senate,if DOMA hasnt been found unconstitutional -- which, I still believe it will be -- then it will be repealed,” Frank stated. “And you’ll be able to get a transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The transgender issue -- it’s interesting to see how time speeds up. In 1972, I filed the first gay rights bill in Massachusetts history [as a state legislator] and I remember at the time encountering this sense almost of disgust and discomfort from my colleagues. They didn’t want to think about it. And over time we eroded that. Now, the transgender issue is a new issue in the sense of being raised. When we were first dealing with it even five or six years ago, we ran into this same discomfort, unease, etc. We’ve made much quicker progress there. The time on this has sped up. So I believe we are now at the point, which we weren’t at even a few years ago, where we’re we’ll be able to get the transgender legislation.”
Her case may not be the most publicly appealing, but it’s pretty much a slam-dunk case of legal injustice
NOTE: The following is a story slated to run in the upcoming January/February 2013 issue of Boston Spirit magazine. We are running it here and now to include in the continuing coverage of the Michelle Kosilek case, including today's story from the Metro Desk of the Globe.
Every time Michelle Kosilek makes headlines, Gunner Scott’s phone rings off the hook.
Kosilek is in prison for committing a murder. By law, all prisoners are entitled to medically necessary procedures. For Kosilek, that means gender reassignment treatments. A U.S. District court has unequivocally stated that withholding treatment is a “violation of Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care.” For the judicial system, the case is a no brainer.
For just about everyone else the case can be confusing at a minimum, and downright infuriating at its worst. And some of those most disturbed by the case are often those who, like Kosilek, identify as transgender.
Gunner Scott, as executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political coalition, fields a number of these calls from frustrated and angry members of the transgender community who pepper him with questions like: Why is Kosilek up for getting treatment paid for by the state that they themselves can’t get from their own health insurance? Do I need to go to jail to get the health care that I need? How did a murderer become the face of transgender health care rights?
Republican Representative Todd Aiken, he of the "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," statement, is at it again. Aiken, a Representative from Missouri who was beaten in the November election by Democrat Claire McCaskill is now spending his last few days in Washington targeting gays in the military.
Aiken is pushing to have a bill pushed through congress that will, essentially, give military personnel a “license to bully”. From Aiken’s proposed bill:
The Armed Forces shall accommodate the conscience and sincerely held moral principles and religious beliefs of the members of the Armed Forces concerning the appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality and may not use such conscience, principles, or beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment. [...]
No member of the Armed Forces may (A) direct, order, or require a chaplain to perform any duty, rite, ritual, ceremony, service, or function that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain, or contrary to the moral principles and religious beliefs of the endorsing faith group of the chaplain; or (B) discriminate or take any adverse personnel action against a chaplain, including denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment, on the basis of the refusal by the chaplain to comply with a direction, order, or requirement prohibited by sub-paragraph (A).
In other words, military personnel would be able to discriminate, deny promotions, schooling, training or assignment based solely on sexual orientation. Senator John McCain, among others, are also supporting Aiken’s bill. Aiken has tried to get these provisions put into bills in the past and they have failed each time. Here’s hoping that our elected leaders will (as Aiken feels a woman’s body can do after being raped…) shut that whole thing down.
Seeking to be ‘morally straight,’ as the Boy Scouts' oath states, New England LGBT allies seek ways to resist the national organizations’ discriminatory policy against gays
Editor's Note: The following story is adapted from the November/December 2012 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.
by Scott Kearnan
On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
— The Scout Oath
The date is not set yet, but the invitation went out.
A leader of Boy Scout Troop 6 in Brookline, Matthew Christensen, reached out to Greater Boston PFLAG (Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to speak to the membes of his troop.
“It make would make a lot of sense for what we’re trying to push, which is for scouts to be leaders in anti-bullying,” said Christensen in a recent phone interview with Boston Spirit. And, he said, it reinforces the idea of the troop being a “safe space.”
Christensen is walking a fine line. When the national office of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced this past July — less than a year after the US military successfully repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — that it would reaffirm its longstanding policy that prohibits the inclusion of openly gay scouts and scout leaders, a policy first officially articulated in 1991, councils and council leaders across the United States had to decide how to respond.
In New England, where LGBT rights are mainstream, many local councils — which oversee local troops, like Brookline’s Troop 6 — are wrestling with the policy. Six area Boy Scout groups are listed as “supporting councils” on the website of Scouts for Equality, an organization that advocates for LGBT inclusion in the BSA.
But only one other council leader responded to interview requests from Boston Spirit: Sean Martin, from Boston Minuteman Council.
Twenty-five of the nation’s wealthiest LGBT citizens sent an open letter to U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner and other government leaders urging Congress to increase taxes on high income Americans.
In the letter, the signatories, who include Suze Orman, Andrew Tobias, and Tim Gill, explain:
For LGBT Americans, this "fiscal cliff" isn't just an abstract concept. A report released by the Center for American Progress, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and a coalition of 23 national LGBT organizations outlines the real and lasting impact it would have.
Across-the-board cuts would compromise LGBT health by reducing programmatic funding used to address the health care needs of gay and transgender Americans, impair the federal government's ability to investigate claims of workplace discrimination, and remove critical resources from government agencies working to prevent bullying and school violence.
At the same time, higher tax rates would further endanger middle class and working class members of our community. LGBT Americans have lower levels of income than other Americans, according to a recent Gallup report, and face additional economic obstacles caused by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the lack of federal workplace protections.
A copy of the full letter can be found at www.fiscalpride.org.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched a new website with the goal of promoting “greater sensitivity and better understanding” among Latter-day Saints with regards to same-sex attraction.
“When people have those (same-sex) desires and attractions our attitude is, ‘stay with us’” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a video that introduces the subject of the website. “I think that’s what God is saying: stay with me. And I think that’s what we want to say in the church: stay with us, and let’s work together in friendship and commonality and brotherhood and sisterhood.
“Here (in the church) more than anywhere, it’s important that there be love, that there be hope’” Elder Christofferson continued. “We want to be with you and work together.”
The website is part of an effort by the church “to teach and clarify the church’s positions” on various issues, said LDS spokesman Michael Purdy.
Production for the site has been underway for more than two years, Purdy said.
“Too often these types of big, important issues are dealt with in sound bites, and often by individuals who do not have the complete picture of what the church is doing’” Purdy said. “We hope (the website) will be a resource for better understanding and better communication.”
Utilizing personal, real-life stories told by members of the church who have first-hand experience with same-sex attraction themselves or through close friends and family members, the website’s goal is to help Latter-day Saints “come together to foster a climate of goodwill and a determination to understand the workings of God in each individual life.”
“We’re not endeavoring here to cover the waterfront and address every issue that could be, and needs to be, addressed in different settings relating to same-sex attraction,” Elder Christofferson said. “The idea is to open all of us to greater understanding.”
Elder Christofferson noted that “although we don’t know everything, we know enough to be able to say that same-sex attraction is not itself sin. The feeling, the desire is not classified the same as homosexual behavior itself.” Sexual identification, he continued, “is but one aspect of any person’s life, and it need not become the consuming element of any person’s life.”
What is important, he said, is “how we relate to one another, how we preserve hope and understanding and love, and how we struggle together in some cases.”
“We want people to feel that they have a home here (in the LDS Church), and that we have much more in common than anything that’s different about us,” Elder Christofferson said.
The ladies at One Million Moms are at it again. The group, which has nowhere near one million members (their Facebook page has 50 thousand followers), was launched by the conservative Christian group American Family Association and made their first public splash when they urged supporters to boycott JC Penny in response to JC Penny’s hiring of Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson.
Apparently OMMs disgust with JC Penny is alive and well. The new target for their venom is JC Penny’s new commercial in which Ellen plays an Elf. Yes, the holiest of Christian icons…the elf.
From One Million Moms:
“Since April, JC Penney's has not aired Ellen DeGeneres in one of their commercials until now. A new JCP ad features Ellen and three elves,” writes OMM. “JCP has made their choice to offend a huge majority of their customers again. Christians must now vote with their wallets. We have contacted JC Penney's several times in the past with our concerns, and they will not listen. They have decided to ignore our complaints so we will avoid them at all costs.”
For what it’s worth, the Facebook group "1 Million people who support Ellen for JC Penny" has more than 325,000 followers.
Other recent targets of One Million Moms include Skittles (for their commercial in which a girl kisses a walrus), Urban Outfitters (for some questionable language on their website), NBC’s tv show ‘New Normal’, Oreo (for supporting Gay Pride) and DC Comics (for introducing a gay character)
Note: Story updated shortly after 11 a.m. to include local commentary from MassEquality.
According to a new study, LGBT advocacy organizations experienced a significant jump in revenue from 2010 to 2011.
The report, by The Movement Advancement Project (MAP), a think tank concerned with LGBT matters, found that some of the nation’s largest and most influential social justice organizations focussed on LGBT issues—such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Lambda Legal, Victory Fund, Immigration Equality, and the National Center for Transgender Equality—saw revenue increase 17 percent from 2010 to 2011.
“We are seeing more of a willingness to give on the part of donors, both those who are new to MassEquality and its mission to end discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, as well as those who have been with us from the beginning,” said Kara Suffredini, MassEquality executive director. “Part of that is because the economy is improving and part of that is because donors interested in advancing social justice see that we are a smart investment.”
The full press release from The Movement Advancement Project is as follows:FULL ENTRY
A federal judge has temporarily blocked California from enforcing a first-of-its-kind law that bars licensed psychotherapists from working to change the sexual orientations of gay minors.
U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb made a decision just hours after a hearing on the issue, ruling that the First Amendment rights of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals who engage in “reparative” or “conversion” therapy outweigh concern that the practice poses a danger to young people.
“Even if SB 1172 is characterized as primarily aimed at regulating conduct, it also extends to forms of (conversion therapy) that utilize speech and, at a minimum, regulates conduct that has an incidental effect on speech,” Shubb wrote.
The law, which was passed by the California Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October, states that therapists and counselors who use “sexual orientation change efforts” on clients under 18 would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards. It is set to take effect on Jan. 1.
Although the ruling is a setback for the law's supporters, the judge made clear that the ruling only applies to three people -- psychiatrist Anthony Duk, marriage and family therapist Donald Welch, and Aaron Bitzer, a former patient who is studying to become a counselor who specializes in clients who are unhappy being gay.
The exemption for them will remain in place only until a trial can be held on the merits of their case. However, the judge noted he thinks they would prevail in getting the law struck down on constitutional grounds.
“We are disappointed by the ruling, but very pleased that the temporary delay in implementing this important law applies only to the three plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit.” National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter said. “We are confident that as the case progresses, it will be clear to the court that this law is fundamentally no different than many other laws that regulate health care professionals to protect patients.”
Hillary Clinton spoke today at the 20th anniversary of GLIFAA (Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies), a group representing LGBT people in the United States Department of State. The White House Office of Communications released her complete speech to press organizations.
Clinton’s remarks included a condensed history of LGBT participation in the State Department. She said:
Now, it wasn’t really that long ago since this organization was created, but in many ways it was a completely different world. As we heard, in 1992 you could be fired for being gay. Just think about all of the exceptional public servants, the brilliant strategists, the linguists, the experts fired for no reason other than their sexual orientation. Think of what our country lost because we were unable to take advantage of their hard work, expertise, and experience. And the policy forced people to make terrible choices, to hide who they were from friends and colleagues, to lie or mislead, to give up their dreams of serving their country altogether.
That began to change, in part because of the brave employees here at State, who decided that it was time for the bigotry, the ignorance, the lying, and discrimination to end. The LGBT community deserve the same chance as anyone else to serve. And indeed, as we all know, many had for many years, just without acknowledgment of who they were. So enough was enough, and that’s how GLIFAA was formed. And thank goodness it was.
We’ve come a long way since then, and we have seen milestones along that journey over the last 20 years. I remember that I think on my husband’s first day in office back in ’93, he announced that gays and lesbians working in the federal government would receive equal treatment under the Civil Service Reform Act. Two years later, Secretary Warren Christopher made clear those rules would be enforced within the halls of the State Department when he issued a statement that explicitly prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Now over the past four years, we’ve built on those and other steps to really acknowledge and welcome LGBT people into the State Department family and other agencies. We’ve extended benefits to same-sex domestic partners of State and USAID employees, Foreign Service officers, personal service contractors, third country nationals at missions overseas. We’ve institutionalized these changes by creating a classification for same-sex domestic partners in the Foreign Affairs manual. We’ve also made it clear in our Equal Opportunity Employment statement that the Department doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression.
We’ve helped to make it easier for transgender Americans to change the gender listed on their passports, because our mission is not only to protect the rights and dignity of our colleagues, but also of the American people we serve.
And we’ve taken this message all over the world, including the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where we worked to pass the first ever UN resolution affirming the human rights of LGBT people.
Now, together we have worked to make something very simple and right come true. Our people should not have to choose between serving the country they love and sharing a life with the people they love.
The complete speech, as released by the White House, is here:FULL ENTRY
The Nashua Telegraph is reporting that Stacie Laughton is withdrawing from becoming a New Hampshire state representative after it was revealed that she had been convicted of a felony for committing credit card fraud.
“After a lot of thought and after talking with the state party chair and my Democratic caucus director, I’ve decided to resign my position of state representative-elect,” Laughton was quote as saying in the Telegraph.
More from the story:
“A lot of my supporters did know, and the ones that didn’t know, they didn’t ask,” Laughton said, referring to her criminal past. “I would’ve been more than happy to discuss it with them if they had asked me if I had any criminal background … I don’t feel as though that I ever deceived anyone, but for those that feel as though that they were deceived, I am truly sorry and that was never my intention.”
Medicine Wheel vigil from World AIDS Day a few years ago. (photo: Medicine Wheel Productions)
This Saturday, December 1, is the 25th World AIDS Day.
Over 30 million people have died of HIV/AIDS-related causes since the disease was first documented in 1981, and over 34 million people are currently infected with the virus, according to UNAIDS.
In Massachusetts, over 12,000 have died, and more than 18,000 are living with HIV, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of HIV/AIDS.
Several events are planned to observe World AIDS Day 2012. Here are a few:
December 1: 24-hour Vigil
Boston Center for the Arts, South End, Boston
This year marks the 20th anniversary of this incredibly powerful, experientially immersive installation commemorating those affected by HIV/AIDS. Medicine Wheel creator Michael Dowling invites people to “bring a stone and a story” to place in the ongoing memorial this year.
More information: www.mwponline.org.
The Human Rights Campaign has released its first ever Municipality Equality Index which rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories: non-discrimination laws; relationship recognition; the municipality’s employment practices; inclusiveness of city services; law enforcement; and municipal leadership.
Boston and Cambridge join 9 other cities in the U.S. who scored a perfect 100%.
According to the HRC the 100 cities that scored 100% incorporate “excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services”.
Provincetown and Northampton were also included in the Index. Northampton received a score of 64% and Provincetown came in at 59%. Both scored 0 in the Law Enforcement category which significantly impacted their overall score. See the entire report HERE and a detailed city by city breakdown HERE
Of the 137 municipalities included in the Index 25% received a score of 80% or higher.
For many years those within the lgbt community have read stories in lgbt press regarding the Salvation Army. Most of these stories revolved around the fact that the nation’s largest charity is decidedly anti-gay.
Now, with the explosion of social media, the noise regarding the Salvation Army’s policies is getting louder. Recently America Blog began urging people to print out vouchers (see below) and to place the voucher in the red donation bucket in lieu of cash.
Significant anti-lgbt moments in the Salvation Army’s past include:
In 2002 the charity made waves when it announced a policy that would have offered health insurance for a “legally domiciled adult” living with an employee. Essentially granting health benefits for same-sex partners of employees. This policy was reversed after only 2 weeks
In 2003 the Washington Post reported that the Bush administration was working with the Salvation Army in an effort to issue a regulation making it easier for government-funded religious groups to discriminate against gay people in hiring. According to an internal Salvation Army report the Bush White House gave the charity a “firm commitment” to work to protect them from state and city laws that prevent discrimination against gays in hiring and domestic-partner benefits
At the time the Salvation Army spent approximately $100,000 to lobby in favor of President Bush’s faith based initiative. (The Bush administration wound up not working with the Salvation Army on the regulation)
In 2004 the charity threatened to leave New York City if Mayor Michael Bloomberg enforces a new ordinance requiring all groups with city contracts to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of employees. Bloomberg was against the ordinance and did not enforce it.
In June of this year the following passage appeared on the official website of the Australian Salvation Army:
"[Homosexual activity is] as rebellion against God's plan for the created order... Homosexual practice, however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the [Salvation] Army."
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) saw a steep decline in the amount of money it raised in 2011 – dropping to $6.2 million from the $9.1 million it raised the previous year. Just two donors were responsible for funding 75 percent of the anti-gay group – the organization reported two donations of approximately $2.4 million each. The information is available in NOM’s 2011 990, which NOM made available this evening after the Human Rights Campaign requested the documents.
“The National Organization for Marriage continues to push the notion that there is some sort of grassroots support for their discriminatory anti-gay agenda,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “Last week, that notion was soundly rejected by voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State. Now, NOM’s own financial records are serving as the latest proof that support for LGBT equality is common-sense and mainstream. NOM is nothing more than a conduit channeling the anti-gay agenda of a few secretive, wealthy donors.”
The sharp drop in funding is notable also because NOM experienced significant financial growth each year since its founding in 2007, when it was formed to demonize LGBT people in California as part of efforts to pass Proposition 8. 2011 marks the first year in which the anti-gay group’s funding declined.
In addition to illustrating that more than $4.7 million of NOM’s total $6.2 million reported came from just two mysterious mega-donors, the documents also reveal some interesting information about NOM’s closest affiliates. For example, NOM paid $870,000 to CC Advertising – a group HRC recently filed an FCC complaint against for spamming unsuspecting cell phone users with anti-gay, anti-Obama text messages. The organization also paid nearly $375,000 to Frank Schubert, their ad guru who makes his living largely off of promoting anti-LGBT propaganda.
NOM spent upwards of $5.7 million on attempts to prevent marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, and Washington; write discrimination in Minnesota’s constitution; and politicize Iowa’s judicial system. Voters in all five states soundly rejected NOM’s discriminatory messaging. The anti-gay organization remains embroiled in several legal battles over revealing the identities of the few mega-donors who fund their work.
More background on NOM, including information on the organization’s leadership and details on its close financial ties to religious institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus and the Church of Latter Day Saints, is available via HRC’s NOM Exposed project.
The nation’s barometer for workplace equality -- the HRC's Corporate Equality Index (CEI) – was released this week. In the 2013 CEI a record 252 businesses achieved the top rating of 100 percent, earning the coveted distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” By comparison, 13 businesses earned a 100 percent in the first CEI 11 years ago. The policies, benefits and practices businesses must implement to earn a perfect score are best-in-class demonstrations of corporate commitments to LGBT workers.
The top rated businesses span across industries, geographies, and size.
“Corporate America continues to raise the bar in workplace fairness,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “LGBT-inclusive workplace policies are not only the right thing to do and good business practices, they are the new normal. Americans have spoken, and as we celebrate our victories at the ballot box, we hope Congress will follow corporate America’s lead and create a level playing field – including passing fully-inclusive workplace non-discrimination legislation.”
This year’s report at a glance:
• A record 74 major businesses and law firms publicly supported pro-equality legislation at the state and federal levels – including those that took an active role in the marriage campaigns this fall.
• The 2013 CEI saw the largest growth in the survey’s history with 54 new businesses participating. The number of employers officially rated in the CEI has skyrocketed from 319 in 2002, to 688 this year, a jump of 116 percent.
• This year’s CEI marks the first time a majority of Fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination policies that cover gender identity (from 50 percent to 57 percent), while an astonishing 84 percent of overall CEI participants cover gender identity.
• Transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage continues to rise. Now in its second year as a mandatory criterion for a company to earn 100 percent, 287 (42 percent) participating companies offer comprehensive healthcare coverage to their transgender workers, up from 19 percent last year.
While basic protections for LGBT employees have become the norm, record numbers of American businesses have also updated their larger benefits packages, adding “soft benefits” for LGBT workers, including things like retirement benefits to domestic partners and relocation assistance. With benefits accounting for roughly 20 percent of an employee’s compensation, companies recognize this as a matter of equal pay for equal work.
Over the past 11 years, the CEI has become the gold standard for corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees and their families. The CEI rates companies on 40 such policies and practices. A total of 889 businesses have been rated in the 2013 CEI, including the entire Fortune 500. This year a record 293 of the Fortune 500-ranked businesses have an official CEI rating, with the other 201 rated based upon publicly-available data.
CLICK HERE for a free subscription to Boston Spirit magazine, New England's premier lgbt magazine
According to a new report released by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Roman Catholic Church spent approximately $2 million in an effort to defeat marriage equality initiatives in the four marriage ballot states of Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington this election cycle. An updated HRC report, available HERE, provides a snapshot of just how much money the Church, along with its close ally the National Organization for Marriage(NOM), poured into campaigns aimed solely at depriving LGBT Americans of dignity and respect.
In Minnesota, the Roman Catholic Church spent upwards of $1.3 million, funding nearly 25 percent of the failed attempts to write discrimination into the state’s constitution. The Church’s funding included hundreds of thousands of dollars from dioceses across the country. The report also highlights the Roman Catholic Church’s donations to states where voters affirmed marriage equality – more than $100,000 in Maine; well over a quarter-million dollars in Maryland; and $307,000 in Washington.
Despite voters rejecting the anti-LGBT agenda financed by the Roman Catholic Church and NOM, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently re-committed to fighting against equality for LGBT Americans. San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone – a leading anti-LGBT voice within the Roman Catholic Church and one of the chief architects of Prop 8 - said the Church must continue funding discrimination because people “don’t understand” marriage.
The report breaks down publicly reported in-kind and cash expenditures from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the Knights of Columbus, and NOM to the four ballot states. Final campaign figures from Maine and Maryland will be available in the coming weeks.
On November 28, 1998, two men followed transgender woman Rita Hester to her apartment in Boston and fatally stabbed her inside.
One year later, transgender activists in San Francisco remembered the event with a candlelight vigil, which has become an annual, globally commemorated observance known as the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Recently, organizations like the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) inaugurated Transgender Awareness Week.
This year, MTPC is working with Fenway Health to provide an array of events, including launching of a new video. Other organizations, including local colleges and towns, have also scheduled activities.
Here’s some of what is being offered:FULL ENTRY
According to Change.org, United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS), a corporate donor of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), has announced a new policy that will “cease all future funding to the Boy Scouts until gay Scouts and leaders are welcome within the organization.”
UPS, much like Intel Corporation (which was one of the Boy Scouts largest corporate donors), gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Boy Scouts despite the organization’s anti-gay policy.
Both UPS and Intel have traditionally scored high marks on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
”UPS showed true bravery today in standing with the 80,000 Americans, including thousands of Scouts and Scout leaders, who oppose the Boy Scouts’ hurtful anti-gay policy. That bravery is what Scouting is all about,” said Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality. “Corporate America gets it better than most: policies that discriminate aren’t simply wrong, they’re bad for business and they're hurting the Scouting community. You would think that after all the Boy Scouts have lost as a result of this policy, they would understand that,” he continued.
According to GLAAD, due to the UPS Foundation’s new non-discrimination policy organizations (like the boy Scouts) that adhere to an anti-gay policy will no longer be eligible for funding.
UPS released the following statement:
“The UPS Foundation seeks to support organizations that are in alignment with our focus areas, guidelines, and non-discrimination policy. UPS and The UPS Foundation do not discriminate against any person or organization with regard to categories protected by applicable law, as well as other categories protected by UPS and The UPS Foundation in our own policies. These include, but are not limited to race, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or military status, pregnancy, age and religion.”
The decision by UPS reverses an earlier statement in which the said they would continue to support and donate to the Boy Scouts.
”The time is now for the BSA to end this outdated and unpopular ban before other corporate funders pull dollars and scouting families drop their support’” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “All of the great work that the BSA does to help young people will continue to be overshadowed by their blatant discrimination until they join other inclusive organizations like the Girl Scouts of the USA and the 4-H Club.”
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), has issued a statement in response to Tuesday night's election results which saw all four states with ballot initiatives pass marriage equality.
Brown, as expected, does not see the results as an affirmation of marriage equality, but more as an issue with funding, voters in 'blue states' and the media.
From the statement:
"Obviously we are very disappointed in losing four tough election battles by narrow margins. We knew long ago that we faced a difficult political landscape with the four marriage battles occurring in four of the deepest-blue states in America. As our opponents built a huge financial advantage, the odds became even steeper. We ran strong campaigns and nearly prevailed in a very difficult environment, significantly out-performing the GOP ticket in every state.
Despite the fact that NOM was able to contribute a record amount to the campaigns (over $5.5 million), we were still heavily outspent, by a margin of at least four-to-one. We were fighting the entirety of the political establishment in most of the states, including sitting governors in three of the states who campaigned heavily for gay marriage. Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case. Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.
Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it. Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback. There is much work to do, and we begin that process now."
The most recent national polls taken show that approximately 53% of those asked support marriage equality while approximately 39% are opposed.
As last night’s election results are dissected and reviewed one thing is perfectly clear, it was a historic night for the nation’s LGBT community. Starting with the victory for President Obama, the first sitting US President to endorse marriage equality, to the election of the first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, there were positive results across the country.
As of the posting of this article, voters in three of the four states voting on marriage equality have voiced, loud and clear, their support for the right for LGBT couples to marry. Our neighbors to the north, in Maine, have joined majorities in Maryland and Minnesota in ensuring marriage equality for all. While optimistic, we await results from Washington State. It looks, however, as though marriage equality will prevail in all four states in which it was on the ballot.
In Massachusetts voters have elected Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren who is considering a very strong ally for the LGBT community.
In Rhode Island openly gay congressman David Cicilline was reelected for a second term. In New York Sean Patrick Maloney defeated Congresswoman Nan Hayworth to become the first openly person elected to represent New York in Congress.
In upstate New York, Republican Senator Mark Grisanti, who voted for the marriage equality legislation that passed the New York state legislature last year, won his race for reelection, and in Hawaii Mazie Hirono, an LGBT-friendly U.S. representative from Hawaii, will move up to the Senate with her victory over Linda Lingle, who as the state's governor had vetoed civil unions legislation.
Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, issued the following statement regarding last night’s historic results:
“Tonight we celebrate, but tomorrow morning we get up and get back to work so that the victories we hail tonight are felt everywhere across this great country. Too many people are denied the ability to marry. Too many people go to their jobs without workplace protections. Too many young people go to bed at night and stare at the ceiling, sleeplessly wondering what awaits them the next day at school or at church or in their own home. Thanks to all the hard work in achieving tonight’s victories, we finally have momentum on our side and we will not rest until the promise of equal justice under the law is realized for every single person living in every single corner of this vast country.”
One out of every 10 gay voters supported Barack Obama in the 2012 election, according to pre-election polling by Community Marketing Inc.
In a national survey taken a few days before the November 6 election, six percent of the gay voters said they were casting votes for Mitt Romney and four percent declared for other candidates.
The poll also found:
- 95 percent of gays and lesbians said they intended to vote;
- 41 percent of gay and lesbian indicated they participated in early voting; and
- 41 percent said they had donated money to the Obama campaign.
Here’s additional information from the press release:
The election poll of 6,625 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) United States citizens was administered November 2-4, 2012 and responses were received from all 50 states. LGBTs represent an estimated 5% of United States voters and an overwhelming majority supported the coalition that produced Barack Obama’s victory. 90% support for Obama was seen in all Battleground States and the percentage was similar to the level that Obama received from the African American community.
In a fascinating story of family and politics the family of Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel have penned an open letter in opposition to his beliefs on same-sex marriage.
The letter, signed by eight cousins of Mr. Mandel's wife and appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News yesterday, details the wedding of Ellen Ratner and Cholene Espinoza, two cousins of Ilana Shafran Mandel, Mr. Mandel's wife. Ellen and Cholene were married eight years ago in Massachusetts.
According to a Mandel campaign spokesperson, the candidate "has never met any of those 'cousins' who signed that letter, but looks forward to having the opportunity to meet them someday."
Mandel currently trails his Democratic opponent in the senate race,
Here is a copy of the letter as it appeared in the newspaper:
Open Letter to Josh Mandel, Republican Candidate for U.S. Senator from Ohio
Four years ago you came into our family. We still remember the excitement surrounding your wedding, and how happy our family members were as they described it afterwards. So we were deeply saddened when you announced during your October 18th debate with Senator Sherrod Brown that you believe only some people should share this right to marry the person they love, while others should not.
Your cousins, Ellen Ratner and Cholene Espinoza, are among the many wonderful couples whose rights you do not recognize. They were married almost eight years ago in Massachusetts, at a time when it was the only state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage. Their wedding, like yours, was a beautiful and happy occasion for all of us in our family. It hurts us that you would embrace discrimination against them and countless other loving couples in Ohio and around the country.
We are equally distressed by your belief that gay men and women should not be allowed to serve openly in the military. Like you, Cholene spent many years in the armed forces. A graduate of the Air Force Academy and an accomplished pilot, she became the second woman in history to fly the U-2 reconnaissance plane. And yet, you have argued that she, like many gay and lesbian soldiers, should be forced to live a life of secrecy and lies.
Josh, as you know, our roots are deep in the Cleveland area and we have friends and family we love throughout Ohio. This family is sprawling and diverse, but it has always believed strongly in the values of equality and inclusiveness. Your discriminatory stance violates these core values of our family. Nevertheless we hope that over time, as you advance in years and wisdom, you will come to embrace the values of inclusiveness and equality as well.
Michael Ratner, Bruce Ratner, Karen Ranucci, Pamela Lipkin, Rebecca
Ratner, Elizabeth Ratner, Patrick Markee, Jacob Ratner, Ana Ratner
Earlier this week chaplain John McTernon claimed on his website that Hurricane Sandy was the result of God punishing America for its pro-gay agenda. From McTernon's website:
God is systematically destroying America. Just look at what has happened this year. There was an incredible heat wave and drought that destroyed massive amounts of the crops. This drought has not let up and now covers about 65 percent of the country. The drought triggered record forest fires in the West. The East was not affected by the drought, but now the most powerful hurricane on record is heading directly towards Philadelphia and New York City. It could do catastrophic damage to the entire Northeast! If you add the area of the drought and now the hurricane together, it would be about 80 percent of the country! As I said, the Holy God of Israel is systematically destroying America right before our eyes. Just last August, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans seven years later, on the exact day of Hurricane Katrina. Both hit during the week of the homosexual event called Southern Decadence in New Orleans!
McTernon went on to sate (in response to a comment posted to the article) that
It is not the homosexual community that is the cause, it is the government of the United States making homosexuality an ordinance which is the cause of the judgment. If you commit the act of homosexuality that is between you and God. When a nation promote homosexual "marriage" then it faces God's judgment.
Not to be undone, just yesterday, as reported on RightWingWatch.org, Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency, stated on the radio program Crosstalk that "the Great Flood in the time of Noah was triggered by the recognition of same-gender marriages." He went on to say "The Lord will not bring another flood to destroy the entire world but He could punish particular areas with a flood, and if we look at the same-gender marriage recognition movement that's occurring, that certainly is a message for us to learn. We have to learn that the Lord does watch what we do and if we don't shape up He will deliver divine justice."
According to their website,
The Crosstalk Radio Talk Show is heard each weekday on over 90 radio outlets across America and worldwide on the Internet. Crosstalk covers the issues that affect our world, our nation, our families and the Christian church from a perspective centered in the Word of God. Whether we discuss the economy, the political scene, the continuing moral collapse of our nation, legislation that affects the family, or the state of evangelicalism, our authority is found in the unchanging standard of the Holy Scriptures. Veteran co-hosts Dr. Vic Eliason and Jim Schneider have worked as a team for over 20 years to bring solid information to the body of Christ.
Video found of Governor Romney discussing same-sex parents, says "It's not right on paper and it's not right in fact"
Over the past few months several articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, on Boston.com and in Boston Spirit magazine calling into question former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's controversial statements on gay families and same sex parents.
In September Boston Spirit published an article detailing a meeting between then Governor Romney and several same sex couples from Massachusetts. In that meeting Governor Romney is reported as stating "I didn't know you had families," to the group of lgbt couples in the meeting. He later stated to Julie Goodridge, in response to her question on what to tell her daughter (if same sex marriage was repealed) the Governor responded "I don't care what you tell your adopted daughter." Goodridge's daughter is not adopted, she is her biological daughter.
Now video has surfaced of Governor Romney, speaking in 2006, to a group of supporters in South Carolina. In the video Romney states that same sex couples having children is "not right on paper and it's not right in fact." The video backs up a story published by Murray Waas of the Boston Globe last week.
In Waas' story he reports that "Romney overruled efforts by his own Department of Public Health to change birth certificates after gay marriage was legalized in the state in 2003. The department wanted to feature a box labeled "father or second parent." Romney refused to allow the change. Instead, he required review of individual births to gay parents by his own top legal staff. Once that special review was complete, hospitals and town clerks were authorized to cross off "father" and write in "second parent" on birth certificates, in pen."
Click Here to view the video of Mitt Romney speaking on gay parenting.
Glen 'Doc' Rivers is about to begin his ninth season as head coach of the Boston Celtics. During that time he has seen his share of ups and downs and has handled them all with a sense of class that has restored the time honored tradition of Celtic Pride to its rightful perch in the NBA. Rivers led the Celtics to first place finishes in the Atlantic Conference for the past five years, advanced the team to the NBA Finals twice, and won the championship in 2008.
Rivers lives in Orlando, Florida with his wife Kristen and their four children. His oldest son Jeremiah plays basketball for Indiana University, while his daughter Callie played volleyball for the University of Florida. Rivers' younger son, Austin, played basketball for one year at Duke University before being drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in June of this year.
Recently Rivers sat down with Boston Spirit magazine to discuss former NBA player John Amaechi, the prospect of a gay player in the NBA, dealing with racial prejudice, and more.
Boston Spirit: You were one of the first people to come out and stand behind John Amaechi when he came out. Did you have to think about that at all? Were you worried what people might think?
Doc Rivers: No, I could care less what people thought and I didn't worry about it at all. It's not one of those things where we had to have a front office discussion. It's funny, I actually think someone in the front office wanted to have a discussion and I said 'For What? And that's how I felt about it. It was easy for me. John's a great, great guy.
BS: Was it a surprise to you when John came out?
DR: No, not really. Sexual orientation is always talked about in locker rooms just like everywhere. I was happy that he came out. It wasn't a surprise to me that he came out because he hadn't shared it — but he had, if you know what I mean. It probably was a surprise for others.
BS: Was it a surprise for his teammates?
DR: I would say it was about half and half. Later on I got some calls from some of his teammates. Some of them brought it up and some didn't some said they were surprised and some said they weren't surprised at all. What I was happiest about is that you could tell it wasn't a big deal for them. Obviously he was a bit removed because he made the announcement when he wasn't playing for us, it was later, but not one guy made a bad comment. It really wasn't a big deal.
BS: Is that your only experience during your time playing and coaching basketball with ‘the gay issue?’
DR: It's the only experience as far as someone coming out.
BS: ESPN asked some ‘experts’ recently which league would be the worst at handling a gay player and the NBA was the pick. Do you think that’s the case?
DR: I think the NBA might have been named as worst, and I don’t think it should be, because the NBA has always had an image problem, because people know who you are. They see you, the players are in shorts and tank tops, everyone sees your face and there’s only twelve of us. When you have people with baseball hats on, and helmets, you don’t really get to see them. People know us and I think that might be why the NBA got picked. I think the reaction by all the sports would be about the same. I don't think one would be better or worse than the other. Hockey has its ethics code; baseball has its own clubhouse rules, and football does too. I personally think people are more open-minded than they get credit for. I've always believed that. I remember when I was playing for the Knicks and I was doing something on Imus [the Don Imus radio program] — I think I was injured at the time — he asked me if there were any gays in basketball and I said "yeah, absolutely." The next day I got a call from the league and said "Did you say that?" and I said, "Listen guys, it’s a ratio, just look at the numbers." It was an obvious answer, it was easy.
BS: David Stern and Charles Barkley have both said that the NBA is ready for an openly gay player. In your opinion, is the league ready?
DR: I think it is. I think it would depend on the team but even with a bad team, I think it would be a story for about a week and then it would go away. It would really help if it were a good player [laughing]. If you're a bad player the team doesn't care what your sexual orientation is, and if you’re a good player the team doesn't really care what your sexual orientation is — that’s the bottom line.
BS: How about the players on the current Celtics, do they talk about a topic like this?
DR: Sexual topics come up all the time. Honestly, I try and stay out of the locker room, but I've heard them talk about everything. They argue about things. They laugh about things. And they laugh about every orientation. That’s what people do in locker rooms. But at the end of the day I think they would handle it great.
BS: Shaun Thornton of the Bruins told me that if one of the Bruins came out, he would fully support that player and he felt the rest of the team would too. He compared the team to a family. Do you feel the same thing would happen with your team?
DR: Absolutely. They would support him first, and then harass him second [laughing] — in a locker room fun way, not in a bad way. He would get razzed just like his teammates would get razzed. There would be no difference or change. I think it would be a one week story at home. Eventually one of the players would get upset because every time you go to a road game, the road reporter who hadn’t had a chance to ask the question would want to ask it and the player would finally say, "I'm done with this'" and that’s what would happen.
BS: You’ve played on and coached a lot of professional basketball teams over a number of years. How has the culture, as it relates to gay issues, changed (or not changed)? Any examples?
DR: Well, thinking in the world has changed and so if it’s changed in the world, it's changed in the locker room. I've always thought that sports is the leader, not the follower. For example, when you think of racial divisions, sports led the way, long before the active community. The reason is that we’re part of a team, and when you're part of a team that is trying to win, [teammates] don’t care what color you are; they don't care if you’re green. They just want to win. I remember in the ‘60’s, the high school I went to had a big racial riot and the thing that brought everyone together was the Proviso East basketball team that won the state title in Illinois, and all of a sudden, instead of having the state police split the road so the whites could walk on one side and the blacks on the other — they literally did that, it was on 60 Minutes — all of a sudden everybody was embraced because the team was mixed. I think that happens a lot in sports.
BS: What has shaped your way of thinking on this whole topic? Did you have any particular influences?
DR: You know, I am interracially married. I’m open minded, I've always been open minded. I don't think there was one thing that influenced me. My father was a cop, my mother worked on an assembly line. I don't like anyone that is prejudiced. I dealt with it growing up in Chicago. I don’t think you should be judged by anything except for your actions and what you do. That’s just the way I was brought up. Look, there are going to be people who hate in everything. There are people who hate me for being an awful coach or for being black or being whatever. That’s just the way it is. Like Bill Cosby said, he had the number one show on television for five or six years and he got 100,000 hate letters a year. So it goes to show, you’re not going to please everyone.
Boston Spirit magazine is New England's premier lgbt magazine. Click Here for a free subscription.
President Obama released statements yesterday on three upcoming state ballot initiatives on marriage equality. In all three cases the President, as expected, spoke in favor of marriage equality.
"While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect’” said Michael Czin, Northeast regional press secretary. “The president believes same-sex couples should be treated equally and supports Question 1."
"While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. Washington’s same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally’ and that is why the President supports a vote to approve Referendum 74."
"We're moving forward to a country where we treat everybody fairly and everybody equally, with dignity and respect, and here in Maryland, thanks to the leadership of committed citizens and Governor O'Malley, you have a chance to reaffirm that principle in the voting booth in November. It's the right thing to do>"
On the flip side, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been consistent in his opposition to marriage equality.
"The actions that I take as president depends in part on the state of play in Washington, the people that are there and what options exists - but certainly I would defend the Defense of Marriage Act which the current president has refused to defend. I believe that the Defense of Marriage Act was well constructed and should be maintained."
In response to an October 10th tweet from New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes, MassEquality has called on Spikes, and the New England Patriots team, to produce an It Gets Better video. MassEquality's Executive Director Karen Sufredini, pointing out in a statement that the tweet took place in the middle of National Anti-Bullying Month, noted the need to focus on "continued action to make all people, particularly young people, feel safer."
She goes on to say;
For too long anti-LGBT putdowns—whether they are made on the playground or on social media—have been simply laughed off. But bullying is not a joke. In Massachusetts, which as the first state in the nation to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples is seen as a beacon of equality for the rest of the nation, one-third of Massachusetts gay, lesbian, and bisexual students report that they’ve experienced bullying.
LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and eight times more likely to when their families reject them; up to 40 percent of our unaccompanied homeless youth population identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and the vast majority of them are living alone on the streets because their families have, in fact, rejected them. Gay and bisexual men represent four out of 10 new diagnoses of HIV, and the state Department of Public Health reports that the mere fact of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Massachusetts results in higher stress and poorer health outcomes.
Failing to take seriously offensive remarks by public figures is one of the reasons why we see statistics like those. If Brandon Spikes is serious about the fact that he was joking, then let him prove it by making an 'It Gets Better' video. In fact, we like to see the New England Patriots join the Boston Red Sox in making an 'It Gets Better' video. That would send a tremendous message to Pats fans everywhere that there is no place for bullying on the sports field or off.
While quite a few professional sports teams have produced It Gets Better video’s, so far the only Boston based professional team to do so is the Boston Red Sox.
Orlando Cruz, highlighted in a recent Boston Spirit blog post (see below) as the first active professional boxer to come out as a gay man, made history again last night. Cruz, the World Boxing Organization's fourth ranked featherweight became the first openly gay boxer to step into the ring and, fittingly, he won.
Cruz won a unanimous decision again Jorge Pazos in Kissimmee Florida.
"That was my moment, my opportunity, my event, and I won," said Cruz. "I was very happy that they respect me. That's what I want — them to see me as a boxer, as an athlete and as a man in every sense of the word," he continued.
For the first time in the history of professional boxing, an active fighter has come out as gay. Featherweight Orlando Cruz, a 2000 Puerto Rican Olympian with a professional record of 18 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw, released a statement yesterday in which he called himself “a proud gay man.”
From the statement:
"I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself. I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man."
"I don't want to hide any of my identities. I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman that always bring his best to the ring. I want for people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship. But I also want kids who suffer from bullying to know that you can be whoever you want to be in life, including a professional boxer, that anything is possible and that who you are or whom you love should not be impediment to achieving anything in life."
"I want to thank my family, especially my mom, who's my inspiration and my best reason to continue to live and my brother and my sister. I want to thank my friends for their love and support. And I also want to thank my team for believing in me and being so supportive not only in this decision, but throughout my career. I am and will always be a proud Puerto Rican gay man."
Cruz’s next fight is scheduled for October 19th , against Jorge Pazos, in Kissimmee, Florida.
Boston Spirit magazine, New England’s premier LGBT magazine, is published six times per year. For a free subscription click here.
According to a breaking news release from the ACLU, a federal appeals court ruled today that the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) unconstitutionally discriminates against married same-sex couples.
In striking down DOMA, the court held that government discrimination against lesbians and gay men now is assumed to be unconstitutional and that DOMA's defenders could not offer any good reason for treating married same-sex couples differently from all other married couples.
This is the first federal appeals court decision to decide that government discrimination against gay people gets a more exacting level of judicial review, known as "heightened scrutiny." The law had been challenged by Edith "Edie" Windsor, who sued the federal government for failing to recognize her marriage to her partner Thea Spyer, after Spyer’s death in 2009. Windsor and Spyer, who were a couple for 44 years, were married in Canada in 2007, and were considered married by their home state of New York.
"This law violated the fundamental American principle of fairness that we all cherish," said Windsor. "I know Thea would have been so proud to see how far we have come in our fight to be treated with dignity." In her lawsuit, Windsor argued that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution because it requires the government to treat same-sex couples who are legally married as strangers. Windsor's lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
When Thea Spyer died in 2009, she left all of her property to Windsor, including the apartment they shared. Because they were married, Spyer's estate normally would have passed to her spouse without any estate tax at all. But because DOMA prevents recognition of the otherwise valid marriages of same-sex couples, Windsor had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes.
"Yet again, a federal court has found that it is completely unfair to treat married same-sex couples as though they’re legal strangers," said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU LGBT Project. "Edie and Thea were there for each other in sickness and in health like any other married couple, and it’s unfair for the government to disregard both their marriage and the life they built together and treat them like second-class citizens."
Windsor, a senior computer systems programmer, and Spyer, a clinical psychologist, met in the early 1960s, and lived together for more than four decades in Greenwich Village. Despite not being able to get legally married, they were engaged to each other in 1967. Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Windsor helped her through her long battle with the disease. They were finally legally married in May 2007.
"We are pleased that the federal circuit that represents three states that provide their gay and lesbian citizens with the right to marry affirmed the decision of the district court," said Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, counsel to Ms. Windsor. “Given her age and health, we are eager for Ms. Windsor to get a refund of the unconstitutional tax she was forced to pay as soon as possible."
Windsor has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case. The court has not yet decided whether to hear her case, or any of several other challenges to DOMA.
"Edie and Thea’s home state of New York has long respected the marriages of same-sex couples and explicitly supports the freedom to marry'" said Mariko Hirose, staff attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union. "It is only right that the federal government respect the state’s decision and treat all married couples fairly."
Republican Super PAC American Unity PAC has committed more than $500,000 to the campaign of Massachusetts congressional candidate Richard Tisei. Tisei, a gay Republican and the former Massachusetts senate minority leader, is in involved in a very close race with incumbent Congressman John Tierney. Tisei could become the first non-incumbent openly gay Republican elected to Congress, and the first Republican elected to represent Massachusetts in the House in nearly 20 years.
The funds will be used primarily for broadcast advertising with a smaller portion going to online advertising.
American Unity PAC was launched by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer and has contributed to campaigns supporting marriage equality in New York and New Hampshire. The Super Pac also supports presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
According to their website American Unity PAC
“is the voice of Republican voters who are committed to equal rights and full relationship recognition for gay and lesbian Americans. We are committed to the values of freedom – limited government, free enterprise, individual liberty, personal responsibility, a strong national defense and the importance of family. In the spirit of these values, we believe the promise of America should be extended to all, regardless of their orientation. Our mission is to engage in federal elections to protect and promote inclusive Republicans.”
Conservative media pundit Ann Coulter has tweeted a message in response to last week's National Coming Out Day;
While apparently a joke, Coulter's tweet has not gone unnoticed by lgbt organizations around the world. Aaron McQuade, director of news and field media for GLAAD, released in a statement:
I recognize that this is a joke, and that she is not really taken seriously in any context anyway, but with this coming right after National Coming Out Day, at the start of Ally Week and just days before Spirit Day, I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about this idea of hers. There was a time in our culture's history when, if thousands of LGBT kids were to come out on the same day, the next week genuinely would be exactly what Ann describes, all across the country. Fathers disowning their sons and kicking them out onto the street. Mothers locking up their daughters or sending them to charm school. Children forced to undergo electro-shock or even worse forms of "therapy" to rid themselves of their orientation. To learn how to not be true to themselves.
And although we've come a long way from those ideas as a cultural collective, I have no doubt that last week, more than a few American households experienced the tragedy that Ann joked about. Approximately 50% of LGBT youth experience some degree of family rejection. There are as many as 100 thousand homeless LGBT youth on our nation's streets, and it's estimated that LGBT youth make up as much as 40% of our nation's homeless youth population. LGBT youth who are completely rejected by their parents are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide. Pretty funny, right?
Again, I know it’s a joke, but ANYTHING that adds to the idea that family rejection of LGBT young people is expected, or even "normal" enough to be casually joked about, causes harm. The kind of harm that Spirit Day was specifically created to protect against.
So this week we'll let the rest of America stand up for those young people. With Spirit Day on Friday, I thought it would be a nice thought to list some of the corporations and individuals who will be standing up against Ann Coulter's idea, and showing their support for LGBT youth this week by going purple:
Facebook, the NBA, Major League Soccer, Times Square, the New York Stock Exchange, the hosts of ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘The Talk,’ ‘E! News,’ ‘Chelsea Lately,’ Dianna Agron, Sir Ian McKellen, Fun., Bernadette Peters, the cast of Days of Our Lives, Joel McHale, Cesar Milan, the Duke Energy Tower, Toyota Financial Services, AMC Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Nielsen, Omnicom Group, American Apparel, AT&T, PepsiCo, American Airlines, Thomson Reuters, Warner Bros.
Not to mention the millions of everyday people across North America who will be participating, and standing up in support of every LGBT young person, including – and especially – those who came out last week. Like I said, I've never taken Ann Coulter seriously, and I'm certainly not going to start now. But the idea of family rejection is one that does deserve serious attention as a society. Go purple on Friday, not just to show LGBT young people that you support them, but to show Ann Coulter what you stand for.
The Human Rights Campaign is launching a sweepstakes opportunity that will send a winner and a guest to California, where they will have dinner with Modern Family stars Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet.
The participation of Ferguson and Stonestreet represents one of the first times celebrities are lending their voices to raise funds for the nationwide marriage equality fight in the 2012 election cycle and beyond.
“Jesse and Eric are longtime allies both of the LGBT equality movement and of the Human Rights Campaign,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We’re thrilled to have them once again speak out for marriage equality and help us in raising funds for the critical work we have to do in ensuring that all families are treated with dignity and respect. Jesse and Eric have magnetic personalities, and we’re confident that with their help we’ll be able to continue making impactful investments in this fight.”
In the video, the two make the case for why they’re getting involved in the fight for marriage:
“Whether you are gay or straight, the family we portray on TV might remind you a little of your own and this election year couldn’t be more important for securing equality for committed relationships, like the one we are,” says Ferguson. “…on TV”, adds straight ally Stonestreet.
Today, October 11, marks the 24th anniversary of the first National Coming Out Day (NCOD). NCOD was launched after a march on Washington by more than half a million people in support of lesbian and gay rights on October 11, 1987. The purpose of National Coming Out Day is to promote government and public awareness of gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender rights and to celebrate homosexuality.
Back in 1987, after recognizing that the LGBT community often reacted defensively to anti-gay actions, Rob Eichberg (who ran a personal growth workshop called, The Experience) and Jean O’Leary (who was the head of National Gay Rights Advocates) came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of the march on Washington as the day.
While only18 states supported the very first NCOD, today the day is recognized by all 50 states as well as many countries around the world including Australia, Canada, Croatia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In the US National Coming Out Day is currently organized by the Human Rights Campaign.
In association with the day the Human Rights Campaign has published a series of guides designed to help people interested in “coming out”, as well as A Straight Guide to LGBT Americans for heterosexuals who identify (or would like to identify) as an ally to the lgbt community.
Some highlights of National Coming Out Day over the years include:
* Rob Eichberg and Jean O'Leary were the originators of the idea of NCOD in 1987
* In 1990, Lynn Shepodd, who later became a member of HRC’s Board of Governors, was hired as executive director and obtained tax-exempt status for the organization
* In 1991, Geraldo Rivera hosted a coming out day TV program that featured Dick Sargent, a gay actor famous for playing Darren on Bewitched, openly gay California Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl and Eichberg.
* Candace Gingrich, half-sister of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, became a National Coming Out Project spokesperson and full-time activist in 1995
* Dan Butler, who played the character Bulldog on NBC-TV's Frasier, was NCOD spokeperson in 1995
* Rock musician Melissa Etheridge did a radio public service announcement, reminding people that "Labels belong on records, not on people."
* Fashion photographer Don Flood in 1996 shot past spokespeople Bearse, Butler and Gingrich, along with Olympic diver Greg Louganis, actor Mitchell Anderson, newly minted gay activist Chastity Bono and Sean Sasser, who had appeared in MTV's The Real World.
* In 1996, actress Judith Light, pro golfer Muffin Spencer-Devlin and, in her first appearance at a gay rights event, Cher spoke at a Come Out Voting rally in Washington, DC
* In September 1997 the project brought in its first straight spokesperson, Betty DeGeneres, mother of actress/comedian Ellen DeGeneres.
* Patrick Bristow (formerly of the Ellen TV show), Dan Butler, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno, longtime activist Donna Red Wing, Betty DeGeneres, Gingrich and SF Mayor Willie Brown were featured in a 1998 NCOD event in San Francisco’s Delores Park
* Chicago-native and founding member of the rock group Styx Chuck Panozzo celebrated a special homecoming in 2001 when he came out at the Human Rights Campaign annual Chicago dinner.
* On National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, 2002, a benefit CD featuring the songs of openly LGBT musicians and straight allies was released. Cyndi Lauper, Queen, k.d. lang, Jade Esteban Estrada and Sarah McLachlan are among the artists who donated songs to the album.
* Etheridge's name appears on a poster celebrating the 2002 theme along with 18 other openly LGBT artists, including Ani DiFranco, Michael Stipe, the Indigo Girls, RuPaul, Rufus Wainwright and The Butchies
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, and its Coming Out Project, in partnership with PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), the original family and ally organization, and its Straight for Equality project, today released a comprehensive update of Coming Out as a Straight Supporter.
Straight supporters are so important to our fight for full equality for LGBT Americans,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Just as it takes an incredible amount of courage to come out as LGBT, it also takes courage to stand up and say, I am a straight supporter.”
PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby said, “PFLAG was founded by Jeanne Manford, the Mother of the Straight Ally movement, 40 years ago: a time when standing up and saying ‘I have a gay son,’ or ‘I have a lesbian friend’ was unheard of. Since she came out as an ally, we’ve seen the power of parent allies in PFLAG, and friends and colleagues through our Straight for Equality project. This guide provides support for that first step in the coming-out process for straight allies.”
The resource is intended to be a welcoming guide for straight supporters to build bridges of understanding when someone they know comes out to them. The guide answers initial questions, and shares facts, strategies, and ways to show your support of LGBT equality.
The revamped resource is released as a growing chorus of high-profile straight individuals have spoken out in support of LGBT equality. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo, actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, actress/singer Beyonce Knowles, Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates, musicians Jason Mraz and Carrie Underwood and more have joined millions of everyday straight supporters who have stood up for their LGBT friends and relatives.
Polls in recent years show that nearly 80 percent of Americans know someone who is lesbian or gay, and a majority of Americans have a close family member, friend or coworker who is lesbian or gay.
“With National Coming Out Day approaching on October 11, this resource can prove to be an important tool in helping LGBT people and straight supporters on their coming out journeys,” Griffin said.
“It’s crucial,” says Huckaby, “that straight allies come out, too, and this is another great resource to support how they will take that action on and speak up.”
A new website called 'The Four 2012' has launched in an effort to keep people informed on upcoming votes in 4 states for marriage equality for gays and lesbians. The 4 states in question are Maine, Minnesota, Washington and Maryland. Among the celebrities highlighted on the site as supporters of marriage equality is Bruce Springsteen, long an ally to the lgbt community.
Other celebrities on the site include Lady Gaga, Josh Charles (who spoke at the HRC dinner in Boston recently) and Pink.
According to the website, polling in all 4 states is showing that a majority of voters are in favor of allowing same-sex marriage with Maine showing the largest lead.
From the site:
Marriage equality is about to take a huge step forward. Momentum is on our side and - if we can create a massive groundswell - we can create a massive victory for marriage equality in the United States. In FOUR states there are marriage ballot initiatives - FOUR states we have to win.
With enough of us talking about marriage, sharing, tweeting and donating - we can drive people out to vote on November 6 and deliver marriage equality in 3 states while fighting off a total ban in another.
We can make history by winning marriage equality ballot initiatives in Maine, Maryland and Washington State. In Minnesota the fight is a different one - we’ll be stopping a total ban on same-sex marriage.
Every day, The FOUR will be putting out a new piece of interesting content from a celebrity or artist - if you like it, all you need to do is share it.
Anti-gay and anti-human rights organizations in our country are mobilizing - putting vast sums of money and resources into all four states to defeat us. In the past, despite great polls - we have lost ballot initiatives. Our opposition is organized and well-funded. But we have what they don’t - we’re fighting for love, not against it.
Fifty-six percent (56%) of Rhode Islanders say they are either "strongly" or "somewhat" in favor of "legalizing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island," according to a new poll by WPRI.com, Eyewitness News. The survey results can be accessed here.
A story about the poll, as well as a look at out U.S. Representative David Cicilline's current lead in the polls in his re-election campaign, can be accessed here.FULL ENTRY
Answer: 2.4 million.
Question: How many tweets have contained variations on a derogatory, six-letter term for ‘homosexual’ that begins with ‘f’ since July 5, 2012?
A new website — nohomophobes.com — launched today by the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services aims to demonstrate just how widespread potentially homophobic language remains in the realm of new media.
And, given numbers like 2.4 million tweets for ‘f****t’ (this is a family blog) over the course of just under three months, homophobia seems awfully widespread.
Other derogatory terminology tracked include:
— “So Gay,” at 800,000 tweets;
— “No Homo,” at 800,000 tweets;
— “D*ke,” at 300,000 tweets.
The institute is suggesting that users tweet hashtag #nohomophobes when witnessing homophobia on Twitter.
An excerpt from the iSMSS press release provides further context:FULL ENTRY
Two Massachusetts-based organizations that advocate for transgender rights released a joint statement expressing “disappointment” that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is appealing the recent court decision granting Michelle Kosilek medical treatment for gender reassignment surgery, as reported on Boston.com.
Here’s the full statement from Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC):FULL ENTRY
More than 200 delegates representing 83 Pride organizations from 17 different countries will be attending the 30th Annual World Conference of InterPride, which Boston Pride is hosting October 3 – 7 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. InterPride, the International Association of Pride Organizers, was created in Boston, Mass. in 1982. InterPride is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, back in the city where it all began.
75 workshops will be presented to delegates from as far away as Australia and the Philippines. Five African countries – Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda – are expected to be represented at the conference. Additionally, Pride committees from seven European nations will be attending. They are France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Organizations from Canada and Mexico will also join their counterparts from the United States, including representatives from Puerto Rico.
“We are pleased to see so many delegates from different nations and cultures coming to Boston for the InterPride conference,” said Anna Dubrowski, co-chair of the InterPride 2012 conference. “Our community faces tremendous challenges around the globe. We can all learn and grow from hearing from each other about what has worked and what hasn’t as we seek to achieve equality.”
InterPride was originally created in Boston in 1982 after Pride organizers from Boston, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego and Los Angeles convened to form the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Pride coordinators. InterPride’s vision is a world where there is full cultural, social and legal equality for all. InterPride hopes to raise awareness of cultural and social inequality through its network of Pride organizations, and to effect positive change through education, collaboration, advocacy and outreach.
The five day conference in Boston will feature a variety of activities and workshops for attendees to hear best practices, learn about event planning, a chance to network with fellow organizers, to find solutions to improve and enhance pride and community events, and to educate and energize the LGBT community. Workshops include a development and fundraising workshop called “From The Ground Up: Building Partnerships Not Sponsorships”; an event planning seminar titled “Grassroots Organizing And Community Mobilization”; a talk on the global outlook for the LGBT community, “The State of LGBT Human Rights in the World: “Have Rainbow, Will Travel — The International Experience Of The LGBTQ Community”; and a community building effort called “Old And Bold, Including LGBT Seniors In Pride,” among others.
“InterPride delegates will gain a lot of practical knowledge at the workshops and seminars,” said Sylvain Bruni, InterPride 2012 co-chair. “But they will also have the opportunity to learn about how their counterparts in communities around the world are taking on some of the challenges that we all face. We’re excited that so many presenters - more than 75 – are going to be a part of the event.”
Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend a pre-conference session in Provincetown, Mass. on Oct. 2-3. The pre-conference will feature workshops on fundraising and social media and also give attendees the chance to experience Provincetown’s rich cultural history.
To participate, or for additional information on the 2012 InterPride Annual Conference: www.InterPride2012.org.
By James Lopata
Is this the year the Supreme Court takes on marriage?
The consensus seems to be, yes.
On Monday, September 24, the Supreme Court has scheduled a closed meeting, with marriage cases involving same-sex couples on the agenda. The Court could announce its intentions regarding these cases as early as Tuesday, September 25.
And Massachusetts could figure prominently—in fact, more prominently, than the much hyped, though still important, Prop 8 case from California.
One of the most promising cases is Gill v. Office of Personnel Management. And the lead counsel on that case is New England-based Mary Bonauto.FULL ENTRY
The 31st annual Human Rights Campaign –New England dinner will take place on Saturday night, September 22nd, at the Copley Marriott hotel.
Featured speakers include Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, new HRC President Chad Griffin, and ‘The Good Wife’ actor Josh Charles. There will also be a performance by 80s pop sensation Tiffany.
Warren, fresh off her first debate with incumbent Senator Scott Brown, has been a tireless worker on behalf of LGBT equal rights. She has appeared at a variety of LGBT events during the past year including Pride festivals in Northampton and Boston.
Said Warren, “We must remain committed to promoting fairness and equality for all, and work to end the two-tiered system created by the Defense of Marriage Act, pass a fully-inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act, and work to create welcoming schools and prevent bullying."
Josh Charles, known for his role on the CBS legal drama The Good Wife, has also appeared in Sports Night and the Dead Poets Society. Charles is also a fierce advocate for LGBT equality. He has appeared in an HRC-produced Americans for Marriage Equality video testimonial and has been continuously outspoken about his commitment to equal rights across the country.
Tickets to the event are still available and can be purchased by visiting hrcboston.org
The Human Rights Campaign, bills itself as “America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.”
The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois’ largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, has released a statement confirming that Chick-Fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations.
From the statement:
In a letter addressed to Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.” In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.
Also, according to TCRA, senior management has sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that stated that, as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender,” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.” This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.”
“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “I think the most important part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased their donations to anti-gay groups in 2011 and going forward. With some of the groups that they were donating to being classified as hate groups, and others actively trying to halt the movement toward full civil rights for LGBT people, Chick-fil-A has taken a big step forward. We are encouraged by their willingness to serve all people and ensure their profits are not used to fight against a minority community that is still trying to gain full and equal civil rights.”
“Although we are encouraged by their internal statement, we still would like for the company to adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level,” said Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda. “It is one thing for a company to say they respect everyone they serve and employ, it is quite another for them to put that into their policies and demand that all employees adhere to that behavior. As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal. It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made.”
The 14th annual 2012 Reaching Out conference of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) graduate business school students is coming to Boston. The conference, which attracts more than 1000 students and industry professionals representing all sectors of the business community, from finance and marketing to government and the arts, provides a unique opportunity for LGBT students to network with Fortune 500 companies, business leaders and recruiters from across the globe. The 3 day event will be held at the Seaport Hotel World Trade Center in Boston October 18 – 20, 2012.
This year’s theme, “Together, Building Community” illustrates the conference’s mission to provide an inclusive environment for prospective and current LGBT MBA students to connect with LGBT professionals in a way that fosters personal and professional growth. This year’s keynote speaker is Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better Campaign” a project that empowers members of the community to share stories on how and why life gets better to help prevent suicide among LGBT youth.
According to Kevin Smith, President of the Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference Board of Directors, the conference is a major catalyst in shaping the future of LGBT MBA students in the workplace. “Our organization is dedicated to promoting the acceptance and visibility of LGBT businesspeople and their interests in the work environment,” said Smith. “Through workshops, networking, social events, and career expos, we hope to further strengthen the LGBT network and engage leaders in discussions that will help us achieve full equality both in the US and abroad. Equality in the workplace begins in the classroom.”
The only student run MBA conference of its kind in the country, the Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference is organized by current LGBT MBA students from MIT Sloan, Yale School of Management, and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. At this year’s conference more than 80 companies will be represented including Google, Southwest, Amazon Inc., McKinsey & Company, American Express, Boston Consulting Group, Ernst & Young, Fidelity, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Target, Toyota and Wells Fargo. In addition, many top business schools will be attending including Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, NYU Stern, Columbia, Yale and Georgetown. “There is no other opportunity or venue for LGBT MBA students to have this type of access to the top employers and graduate schools,” revealed Smith. “We are proud to be able to provide the resources and contacts that will help strengthen the vital LGBT business community.”
The Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference will be held October 18 – 20 at the Seaport Hotel World Trade Center, Boston, MA. For registration and information, visit www.reachingoutmba.org.
By Alan Tran
The last of this year’s New England LGBT Pride festivities are in Worcester on Saturday, September 15, in Vermont on September 22, and for the New England Latina and Latino community from September 21 through 29.
It’s been a year of record-breaking Pride participation across the country, but the season is finally winding down. The last of this year’s New England LGBT Pride parades and festivals is Pride Vermont — which is the creative name Vermonters don for their gay Pride festivities — which will be held on Saturday, September 22, at Battery Park in Burlington.
The annual Vermont Pride cruise on Lake Champlain will be held Friday the 21st. During the festival there will be a NOH8 Campaign photoshoot, turning everyday citizens and celebrities alike into icons of equality, and the Northern Decadance Food & Travel Expo, showcasing LGBT-friendly businesses that encourage Vermonters to have their equal rights cake and eat it too, among other culinary delights.FULL ENTRY
Note: The following story is adapted from the September/October 2012 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.
By Scott Kearnan
It was 2004, after the Supreme Judicial Court had cleared the way for same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses in Massachusetts. Governor Mitt Romney remained a roadblock, endorsing a constitutional amendment that would ban it.
Julie Goodridge and other plaintiffs in the landmark case had written a letter to the governor, asking for a meeting. He ignored it, so they staged a press conference at his office to read the letter to the media. That, finally, got them through his door. Once inside, they were shocked.
For about 20 frustrating minutes, say those in attendance who Boston Spirit interviewed recently, they shared their stories, pled their case, and tried to explain how equal marriage would protect them and their families. Romney sat stone-faced and almost entirely silent.
“Is there anything else?” Romney asked when they finished. With that, the meeting was over.
“It was like talking to a robot. No expression, no feeling,” recalls David Wilson, one of the plaintiffs in the case who met with Romney that day. “People were sharing touching stories, stories where you’d expect recognition in the other person’s face that they at least hear what you’re saying — that there’s empathy. He didn’t even shake his head. He was completely blank.”
Occasionally Romney would say something.
“I didn’t know you had families,” remarked Romney to the group, according to Wilson.
The offhanded remark underscored that Romney, the governor of the first state prepared to grant same-sex marriage, hadn’t taken the time to look at what the landmark case was really about. By this point the plaintiff’s stories had been widely covered by national media — in particular, Julie Goodridge’s heartrending tale of how her then-partner, Hillary, was denied hospital visitation following the precarious birth of daughter Annie. It was the ignorance of these facts — and Romney’s inaccurate, insensitive answer to her parting question, that pushed Julie Goodridge to her breaking point.
‘For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide’ author Keith Boykin visits Hispanic Black Gay Coalition
Author and media commentator Keith Boykin preparing to speak at the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition gathering at Club Café in Boston
Have you heard of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover?
Author and media commentator Keith Boykin visited a standing-room-only gathering of the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC) of Boston over the weekend to talk about the underreported concerns of gay and queer Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Still Not Enough, as the title of his new collection of essays, which he edited, puts it.
Boykin pointed out that many people are familiar with Tyler Clementi, who was the gay man who committed suicide in New Jersey after his roommate recorded him with his boyfriend, but that few know of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover.
Ready for transgender theology?
Even as religious debates over homosexuality continue, Christian academics have begun working through transgender and intersex (definition below) theological issues. To help address some of the questions, the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Mass., is sponsoring a panel on the topic tomorrow, Friday, September 7, at 3 p.m., at EDS, where Rev. Dr. Patrick S. Cheng will be moderating a discussion among leading thinkers in the field.
Boston Spirit asked Cheng to provide some context on the topic, to say a little more about how the panel came about, and to address any aspects of the discussion that may be controversial. He e-mailed the following response:
Fresh from her big speech last night at the Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama electrified an enthusiastic crowd at a luncheon this afternoon for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.
While most of her comments predictably outlined her husband President Barack Obama’s dedication to LGBT issues, some of her unscripted moments garnered the most enthusiastic reactions from those gathered, according to the official release from The White House’s Office of the First Lady. Here are a few:
At one point, the First Lady’s speech was interrupted with a shout out:
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love Barack!
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, I do, too. (Applause.) We have something in common. (Laughter.)
At another point in her remarks, she attempted to impress on the attendees the urgent necessity of working hard on the reelection campaign. When she attempted to appear stern, an audience member played right into her ploy:FULL ENTRY
In a wide ranging interview with The Guardian (UK edition) music legend Stevie Wonder was asked, among other things, what he thought of rapper Frank Ocean’s announcement this past summer that Ocean is gay. Wonder replied that;
I think honestly, some people who think they're gay, they're confused. People can misconstrue closeness for love. People can feel connected, they bond. I'm not saying all [gay people are confused]. Some people have a desire to be with the same sex. But that's them.
Ocean’s announcement, back in early July of this year, came courtesy of a public letter on his tumblr page. In the letter Ocean explained
4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence…until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life.
Does that sound like someone who is confused? I don’t think so either.
A report released recently by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the American Federation of Sate, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) entitled “Gay and Transgender Discrimination in the Public Sector,” reveals that LGBT people continue to experience high rates of employment discrimination and are often not afforded equal benefits on the job. In addition, it details why workforce discrimination poses significant problems for state and local governments, public sector employees and taxpayers.
According to the report;
Only 43 percent of state employees work in a state with a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Only 31 percent work in a state with a law also prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. This means that the majority of Americans working for state governments still do not have statutory protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When it comes to benefits, a majority of state employees do not work for a state that offers equal partner health insurance. Only 47 percent of state employees with same-sex partners have access to equal workplace benefits, compared to 53 percent who do not.
AFSCMA claims that approximately one million LGBT employees work in the public sector for local, state or municipal government.
In a statement by Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, “The discrimination that LGBT public sector workers still face is deplorable. While some states have passed laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, a majority of state workers can still be legally fired for being gay. No worker should be subjected to these high rates of harassment or be forced into unemployment, deprived of health insurance for themselves and for their families. This is a wrong that we need to right, right now.”
AFSCME describes itself as “the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union with more than 1.6 million active and retired members.”
The Center for American Progress describers itself as “an independent nonpartisan educational institute dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action.”
In advance of the Republican National Convention, Boston Spirit confirmed Senator Scott Brown’s past stated positions on gay issues, some of which are not in accord with positions being reported to be included in the proposed GOP platform.
When asked for comment last Friday on parts of the GOP proposed platform that support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and other positions that have been widely reported on, particularly on Buzzfeed, which released a leaked draft of relevant parts of the platform, and which can be read here, the campaign e-mailed the following statement to Boston.com Boston Spirit blog:
“Scott Brown believes gay marriage is settled law in Massachusetts and it’s time to move on to issues like jobs and the economy. He opposes a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman.”
The campaign’s statement is notably silent on where the candidate stands on DOMA and whether he would vote to overturn the law, which is unpopular with gay rights advocates.
Californians are clashing over whether or not to ban gay conversion therapies for minors. A bill is moving forward in the state’s legislature that would make it a crime for medical professionals to offer services to change a person’s homosexual orientation to a heterosexual one.
Many arguments line up in the usual for-and-against manner, but some points being expressed are more equivocal.
In the ‘ban’ camp are mostly Democrats who support the bill. These proponents note that reparative therapies have proven ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. They include the bill’s sponsor, Calif. state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and James Guay, a San Francisco-based therapist who testified in favor of the legislation by explaining how the "ex-gay" therapy he had as a child led to a mental breakdown, according to a HuffPost Gay Voices article that can be read here.
OR NOT TO BAN
In the ‘don't ban’ category are many Republicans who oppose the legislation primarily on the grounds that it deprives mothers and fathers of their parental rights. "The default of this Legislature is to assume authority over parents by getting invested in issues of medicine, which is something it is not qualified to do, especially regarding matters of medical decisions made between parents and children," said Orange County Assemblyman Donald Wagner, (R-Irvine) in an article in the Orange County Register, which can be accessed here.
THAT IS THE QUESTION
Then there are some in the ‘not-totally-for-or-against’ bloc who have expressed more nuanced concerns. Many of them find common ground with Democratic state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach). By most accounts Lowenthal is a friend to the LGBT rights movement. He voted in favor of a bill that required gay history be included in the state’s education curriculum, and he has been a supporter of marriage equality. But Lowenthal has some reservations about the conversion therapy legislation. He told the Los Angeles Times (in an article that can be read here) that he has heard concerns from some professionals that the measure may be “overly broad and might prohibit their ability to engage in discussions about sexuality.”FULL ENTRY
A group calling itself the "Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry" has made public a letter they sent to Robert F. McDonnell, Chair, Republican National Committee Platform Committee, urging the RNC not to oppose marriage equality at Committee's meeting next week.
The letter cites Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney, among others, as part of the group's plea for equality. The authors of the letter describe themselves as "politically active young conservatives who believe strongly that support for the freedom to marry is in line with [their] core belief in limited government and individual freedom."
The full text of the letter is as follows:
August 15, 2012 The Honorable Robert F. McDonnell Chair, Republican National Committee Platform Committee Republican National Committee 310 First Street, SE Washington, DC 20003
Dear Governor McDonnell:
We, the undersigned, make up the leadership committee of Young Conservatives for the
Freedom to Marry. We understand that the Platform Committee will be gathering early next week to develop and finalize the document that will be submitted to the full convention later this month. We appreciate your considering our perspective on this matter.
We are a group of politically active young conservatives who believe strongly that support for the freedom to marry is in line with our core belief in limited government and individual freedom. As President Ronald Reagan said, it is the role of government to "work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back." We feel strongly that excluding committed same-sex couples from marriage does not mesh with those principles. To quote former Vice President Dick Cheney, "freedom means freedom for everyone."
We, as conservatives, have traditionally cited the importance of marriage because it contributes to society and promotes stability and shared responsibility. Marriage makes our nation stronger socially and economically by strengthening families and communities. Committed gay and lesbian couples share with other couples the importance of family and community; worries - like making ends meet or the possibility of losing a job; and hopes and dreams - like finding that special someone to grow old with, and standing in front of friends and family to make a lifetime commitment. Same-sex couples who want to make that commitment in life before family and friends should be able to share in that commitment under law through marriage. And, if we truly
believe in family values, then we must value all families.
On this cause, attitudes have shifted rapidly, and continue to shift towards support for the freedom to marry. Nationally, multiple public polls now show there's solid majority support for the freedom to marry. A May 2012 Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that among all Americans, supporters outnumber opponents 53% to 39%. That same poll shows that, among younger Republicans, support for the freedom to marry is approaching majority, with 46% of self-identified Republicans aged 18-44 in support and 46% in opposition. And according to veteran Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen, only 29% of Republicans oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples. The trend lines are clear—support for marriage will continue to grow on the right, with younger Republican voters leading the way.
Over the past several years, elected Republicans have played an increasingly important role in advancing freedom to marry legislation. Last year in New York, it was a GOP-led state Senate that moved marriage equality legislation. And earlier this year in New Hampshire, the overwhelmingly GOP controlled New Hampshire House voted down a repeal of the popular freedom to marry law in that state, by a lopsided 211-116 margin, with a majority of GOP lawmakers voting against repeal. To date, 197 Republican state legislators across the nation have stood up for the freedom to marry. And of course, no one doubts the Republican credentials of former Vice President Dick Cheney, former First Lady Laura Bush, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman. They are all supporters of freedom to marry.
We are not new to the political process and understand there are divergent opinions on the freedom to marry within the Republican Party. Yet in this environment with rapidly changing perspectives and discussions taking place around dinner tables throughout the country, we ask that the Party respect these differences by not opposing the freedom to marry in its platform.
Giving people more personal freedom is the foundation of the Republican Party, which, as the Party of Lincoln, has a proud tradition of expanding liberties. We respectfully request that the GOP honor that tradition as it considers how to address the freedom to marry in its plank.
Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry
The platform committee of the Democratic Party endorsed marriage equality for same-sex couples today, according to the Associated Press.
Further, The Washington Blade is reporting that the committee's decision was unanimous.
The platform also includes a call to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
The Blade is reporting the approved wording as follows:
“We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law … We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference. … We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.”
Final approval of the platform must come from delegates that will assemble for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, in early September.
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate pick, has consistently voted against legislation supported by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT advocacy group.
Ryan has not supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), or the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal Act of 2010, as well as many other positions important to HRC and its members.
Ryan received a "zero" ranking for his positions on LGBT legislation in both the 111th Congress and the 109th Congress.
Ryan received 10 points for his positions on LGBT legislation in the 110th Congress, because he did not cast a vote on the Murphy Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act.
New Hampshire Pride organizers reached an agreement to have a Nashua Chick-fil-A franchise sponsor its festival this Saturday, August 11. Now, local chapters of LGBT activist groups Join the Impact and GetEQUAL say they are pulling out of participating in the event.
When a local Chick-fil-A supports a Gay Pride festival, what is a gay rights supporter to do?
Eat at the restaurant?
Boycott the Pride?
Anthony Piccola, manager of the Pheasant Lane Mall Chick-fil-A in Nashua, NH, decided to cut through the national noise surrounding his company's president's opposition to marriage equality for same-sex couples. His Chick-fil-A agreed to sponsor the New Hampshire Pride festival, which is to be held this Saturday, August 11 at Veterans Memorial Park Manchester.FULL ENTRY
In a new Associated Press (AP) article, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign re-affirmed Romney’s position from the 1990s that the Boy Scouts should be open to all participants, "regardless of sexual orientation," while also saying that the Boy Scouts had the right to make its own decision on the matter.
From writer David Crary’s AP story:
Back in 1994, during a political debate in Massachusetts, Romney said this: "I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation."
A Romney spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in an e-mail that this remains Romney's position today.
The whole story can be found here: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/eagle-scouts-return-medals-gay-ban-still-firm.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has released a Comprehensive Survey of Congressional Positions on Marriage Equality.
Among both the House and Senate, 181 members support marriage equality (34 percent). 234 have made statements against (44 percent) and 122 have an unclear or unknown position (23 percent). 36 Senators and 145 Representatives support marriage equality with 52 Senators and 182 Representatives opposed.
All 100 Senators, 431 sitting Representatives and 6 Delegates were asked whether or not they agreed with this statement: “Gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to pledge their love and commitment through the civil institution of marriage. I believe that two committed adults of the same sex should be able to receive a government-issued marriage license, while religious institutions retain their right to determine which marriages they will perform.”
Among Democrats, support is at 72 percent with 9 percent opposed and 19 percent unclear or unknown. Only one Republican in Congress supports marriage equality – Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. Support is strongest in the East (58 percent) and the West (51 percent) and weakest in the Midwest (25 percent) and the South (15 percent). In states where gay and lesbian couples can marry, 69 percent of Senators and Representatives support marriage equality while 17 percent are opposed. And in the four states facing marriage-related ballot measures in November, 56 percent of leaders are supportive of marriage equality with 21 percent opposed.
Scores for the two Senators from Massachusetts (as well as all Representatives) can be found online simply by entering your zip code. Senator John Kerry scored 100% on the survey while Senator Scott Brown came in at 33%.
The Human Rights Campaign has released a statement supporting Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s stance against fast food chain Chick-Fil-A’s anti-LGBT “practices”. Recently, Mayor Menino sent a letter to Chick-Fil-A’s President Dan Cathy. In the letter Menino calls out Cathy for his “prejudiced statements” against same-sex marriage and said that having a branch of the restaurant chain across from City Hall “would be an insult.”
HRC Vice President of Communications and Marketing Fred Sainz released the following statement:
“We applaud Mayor Menino for calling out Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBT practices. We have been asking people to make their own decisions about whether to continue supporting Chick-fil-A based on the facts available, and Mayor Menino has done just that. Mayor Menino’s rebuke of Chick-fil-A sends a strong messages that their habit of supporting hateful organizations that demonize LGBT Americans are out-of-step with not just Bostonians, but the majority of fair-minded Americans. Chick-fil-A is on the wrong side of history, and we look forward to seeing more and more elected officials and businesses speak out against their discriminatory practices.”
The Center For American Progress recently released the results of a wide range of polls surrounding the topic of marriage equality. The results, for those who support marriage equality, are very positive.
Among the many findings are that the majority of voters polled back the freedom to marry. The range of results is as follows:
*A Gallup poll found that 50 percent of respondents supported marriage equality
*An ABC News/Washington Post poll reported support for marriage equality at 53 percent
*An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll as well as a June CNN/Opinion Research poll found support one point higher, with 54 percent
All of these polls took place in May/June 2012
Other highlights of the report that the ‘enthusiasm gap’ (defined as those who feel ‘strongly’ one way or another, has also shifted:
The ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 39 percent of voters strongly support marriage equality, while only 32 percent strongly oppose. This stands in contrast to polling from just last summer, where the same poll found that 32 percent strongly supported equality and 36 percent stood strongly opposed.
As for results by age group:
A June 2012 CNN poll found that a whopping 73 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds support allowing same-sex couples to wed, far above the average of 54 percent for all respondents. In 2009 support among young people was just 58 percent, marking a substantial shift in favor of marriage equality.
Earlier today Change.org made an announcement that Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and an executive board member of the Boy Scouts of America would be joining fellow Board member James Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young to help change the current Boy Scouts of America policy that bans gay scouts and leaders.
According to reporter David Taffet of the Dallas Voice, “Stephenson’s spokesman, Marty Richter told Dallas Voice he’s committed to changing the policy... Richter said he believes Turley will lead the effort to make the Boy Scouts inclusive with Stephenson’s full support.”
Stephenson’s spokesperson went on record with this commitment after Jennifer Tyrrell, a gay mom from Bridgeport, Ohio who was ousted as her son’s den leader in April of this year, started a petition on Change.org calling for an end to the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay troops and leaders, which has attracted more than 300,000 signatures. In June 2012, Tyrrell began a second petition on Change.org calling on Stephenson to work to end it. More than 75,000 people have signed it to date.
According to Tyrrell, “All I’m asking for is the opportunity to meet with a Boy Scouts official and resume my post as den leader of my son’s Cub Scout Pack -- a post that was taken from me as a result of a discriminatory policy that’s unpopular with Boy Scouts and leaders across the country,” said Tyrrell. “I hope they’ll listen to my story and the stories of hundreds of thousands who have signed my Change.org petitions.”
Now it looks as though that meeting will not take place and that Stephenson and Turley will have their work cut out for them. The Boy Scouts of America has released a statement today affirming their policy on banning gay scouts and leaders.
Said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, “This is a missed opportunity of colossal proportions. With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued. These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.”
Stay tuned, it seems like this story is not going to go away.
Attendees at the Rise Above H8 vigil—to bring awareness to violence against LGBT Youth—at the Massachusetts Statehouse, June 29, 2012 (photo: Alan Tran)
By Alan Tran
On Friday, June 29, more than 50 people gathered at a “Rise Above H8” vigil in front of the Massachusetts Statehouse to draw attention to violence against LGBT youth. The vigil was one of 15 held across the country that day in response to the shooting of two lesbian teenagers in Texas the previous Saturday, one of whom died from her injuries.
While the tragedy in Texas has been a flashpoint in the national media, bringing attention to violence against LGBT youth amidst a month of Pride parades and celebrations, it is only one of several un- or underreported cases of which the vigil sought to raise awareness. Participants came to mourn for the victims of the shooting in Texas, but also to express their outrage and determination to fight against all instances of injustice and intolerance against LGBT youth.
Get Equal, a national LGBT advocacy organization, coordinated the vigil with Join the Impact, another advocacy group with a strong Boston presence. While the number of participants was modest, they represented a wide variety of community members, from advocates to allies to parents and LGBT youth, including members of the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition, GLAD, Boston GLASS, and the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth. A number of organization representatives gave speeches reacting to the violence and encouraging those attending to continue their efforts to fight homophobia.FULL ENTRY
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signing the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Act into law November 23 of last year, with, from left to right: MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, state Sen. Ben Downing, state Auditor Suzanne Bump, BAGLY Executive Director Grace Sterling Stowell, state Rep. Carl Sciortino, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Executive Director Gunner Scott. (photo: Marilyn Humphries)
As of July 1, Massachusetts joins sixteen states and the District of Columbia in providing legal protection against discrimination based on gender identity or expression in employment, housing, education, credit, and hate crimes.
As of today no citizen of Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be fired from a job for being transgender. The Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Act took effect at the stroke of midnight July 1.
Massachusetts now becomes one of sixteen states and the District of Columbia to provide legal protection against discrimination based on gender identity or expression in employment, housing, education, credit, and hate crimes.
MassEquality, one of the primary organizations lobbying for the protections, released comments from several individuals associated with the passage of this historic legislation, including Governor Deval Patrick, and Attorney General Martha Coakley.
“No individual should face discrimination because of who they are,” said Patrick. “This law gives Massachusetts the necessary tools to stop hate crimes against transgender people and to treat others fairly.”
Coakley noted in her comments that the legislation moves Massachusetts closer to ending unfair treatment for residents.FULL ENTRY
MassEquality Deputy Director Carly Burton, Mass Dept. of Secondary and Elementary Education Regional Director Donna Harlan, Liz Doherty, GLBT Youth Commission Chair Arthur Lipkin, and Mass Appeal Court Clerk Erika Rickard (photo: Alan Tran)
The Bay State may boast a generally congenial place for queer youth compared to other states, but bullying, youth housing shortages, and sexual education anomalies are still problematic
By Alan Tran
A boy comes out to his parents via letter because he can’t bear to tell them in person. A young lesbian, now an adult, escapes from the home where she’s beaten by her parents only to be beaten by the girls at the protective shelter, because she’s “different.” An out teacher receives hate mail from her students. Social workers ask children to "pinky swear" that they won’t be gay, or else they won’t get into heaven.
These are some of the stories that were heard at the public hearings of the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth, held June 20 and 21 at the Boston Statehouse and Holyoke Community College on the twentieth anniversary of what was then called the Governor’s Commission on GLBT Youth. As with the first hearings twenty years ago, the purpose was to illuminate the struggles that LGBT youth still face in Massachusetts and to recommend policies and actions for the commission to consider.
The panel heard testimony from a wide range of speakers on topics including housing and homelessness, bullying and domestic abuse, and discrimination in the legal system. Health officials presented findings on the disproportionate risks facing LGBT youth. Case worker Tharyn Grant from Boston GLASS spoke about the stigma associated with seeking supportive services, saying “the fear starts to outweigh the need for the benefits.”FULL ENTRY
President Obama commemorated LGBT Pride at a White House event at the end of last week.
Here's the report as submitted last Friday at 5:46 p.m. by White House pool reporter Sophie Quinton of the National Journal:
The President is hosting a reception to celebrate Pride month, as he has done for the past three years. Pool was ushered into the East Room at 4:45pm.FULL ENTRY
A military band welcomed guests with some smooth jazz. Various community leaders, students, politicians, members of the armed services and-- we hear but cannot verify-- Broadway stars mingled. The place was packed; rough estimates peg the head count at around 500.
Pooler was stationed near the appetizers but was totally unable to identify most of them. Little pastry parcels much in evidence, and what appeared to be cheese puffs. There were definitely tiny cupcakes, both chocolate and vanilla. All around the room, champagne glasses clinked and people took photos of each other with their phones. Attendees favored conservative suits.
POTUS entered to deliver remarks at 5:15pm, to huge applause and many raised phones, as people took more photos and recorded the speech.
[A video of the president's remarks can be accessed here. A full released transcript his remarks is below.]
"You have every reason and right to push loudly and forcefully for equality," POTUS told the assembled LGBT advocates and allies. "But three years ago I also promised you this ... we would see progress ... we would see real and lasting change. And that's what we're witnessing."
POTUS went through the achievements of his administration, from banning health insurers from denying insurance based on sexual orientation or transgender status to repealing the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Repeal of DADT got the most applause; second runner up was the administration's decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act.
POTUS recognized some military service members in the audience. "We celebrate your joy at being able to come here, with your partners with your spouses to the White House," he said.
"Americans may be still evolving when it comes to marriage equality but as I've indicated, personally Michelle and I have made up our minds on this issue," POTUS said, to applause.
"As long as I have the privilege of being the president, I promise you, you won't just have a friend in the White House, you'll have a fellow advocate," POTUS said.
Pool ushered out shortly after 5:30.
According to Change.org Boy Scouts of America officials have proposed a new policy -- which could be voted on as early as 2013 -- that would allow local chartering organizations to decide whether or not to accept gay youth and leaders.
The proposal comes as a result of a petition, launched by Zach Wahls, collected more than 275,000 signatures. The petition, delivered by Wahls to the National Annual Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America, calls on the Boy Scouts to reinstate a lesbian den leader in Ohio, Jennifer Tyrrell, who was removed from her position because of her sexual orientation, and to end the Boy Scouts’ long-held policy barring openly gay scouts and scout leaders.
“Last Wednesday I delivered 275,000 petition signatures -- including the signatures of thousands of scouts and scout leaders -- to the Boy Scouts of America because I love the organization and I refuse to stand by idly as it forfeits its cultural relevancy at the very moment this country needs it most,” said Wahls. “In proposing to allow local charter organizations to decide whether or not they’ll include gay youth and leaders within their ranks, the Boy Scouts of America has taken an historic step forward, and I applaud their bravery in doing so.” He continued, “As both an Eagle Scout with a personal investment in the success of the Boy Scouts of America and as the son of a lesbian couple, it means a lot to see this change finally set in motion,” added Wahls.
Wahls delivered the signatures on behalf of Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom who was removed as den leader of her seven-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop in Ohio last month. After being removed from her position, Tyrrell started a petition on Change.org asking to be reinstated, and urging the Boy Scouts to stop dividing families and communities with a policy that excludes gay familes, scouts and leaders.
Included in the signatures were those of many Hollywood celebrities including GLEE’s Dianna Agron, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Ricky Martin, Fran Drescher, Kelly Osbourne, Benicio Del Toro, and more.
Panelists for Boston Pride Committee's "Being Included in History": Fenway Institute’s Director of Health Policy Research and member of the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth Sean Cahill, youth leader Karter Blake, Executive Director of MassEquality Kara Suffredini, and Executive Director of BAGLY Grace Sterling Stowell. (photo: Alan Tran)
During a recent panel discussion, the Human Rights & Education of the Boston Pride Committee brought together leaders for a lively discussion on how the Bay State — even though a recognized leader on LGBT issues — still lacks in certain areas of education policies and transgender rights
By Alan Tran
The parade isn’t until this weekend, but Pride is happening in Boston all week long.
At the Human Rights & Education panel entitled “Being Included in History," held this past Tuesday, June 5, at Fenway Health, a small but highly interactive group of people came together to talk about work that can still be done to make education and legislation more inclusive on LGBT issues, even in Massachusetts, with its reputation for being a progressive state.
Panelists included a range of community leaders involved with LGBT issues, including Sean Cahill, the Fenway Institute’s Director of Health Policy Research, who also serves on the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth with another panelist, Grace Sterling Stowell, the first Executive Director of BAGLY. Youth leader and panelist Karter Blake spoke about his experience in high school and the lack of out LGBT models in the classroom. And panelist Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality reflected on the hard-won success of passing the majority of the Transgender Equal Rights bill in Massachusetts last year, as well as pending legislation currently working its way through the state legislature.
In the question and answer segment, one of the issues brought up was how teachers should address LGBT topics in the classroom, and how to talk about a teacher's own sexuality. One audience member shared personal experience as one school district’s only out teacher, saying that although some educators wanted to bring up LGBT issues in the classroom, they were hesitant because they felt they might be opening up “a can of worms in the classroom that they’re not going to be able to handle.”
There have been many articles published recently detailing the staggering amount of fundraising taking place for the upcoming presidential election. Numbers that are now being discussed in terms of 'billions.' So where does the lgbt community fall in all of this? Well, according to recent article by CNN, lgbt donors have stepped up their financial support of President Obama, and that support has not gone unnoticed.
From the article:
"A CNN analysis of President Obama's biggest fundraisers, known as bundlers, shows that at least 33 -- or about one in every 16 bundlers -- is openly gay. Together, they have raised at least $8 million for the campaign between January and the end of March."
Read the full story.
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit today declaring parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional constitutes a significant victory for many local activists, lawyers and plaintiffs.
Praise has been almost uniformly bestowed on the ruling by those who advocate for marriage equality.
What follows is a round-up of a few of the statements.
Mary Bonauto, attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), who argued the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, which was one of the two cases decided by the court's decision, said in a statement:FULL ENTRY
"Robin MacCormack had a gift for blending in. With a neat dark haircut, a winning smile, and the cachet of his Irish-Catholic surname, City Hall’s first liaison to the gay community was an ally to politicians, a buddy to police officers, and a trusted resource to the city’s gays and lesbians. His appointment was lauded in newspapers at the time as the first liaison on gay issues in any major American city - represented a dramatic shift in relations between the government and the city’s gay and lesbian population.
But just a few years after he was appointed by Mayor Kevin H. White in 1979, MacCormack melted out of public view. And on April 6, 2012, after years without contact with family or friends, he was discovered dead by police in his Dorchester apartment, he was 63." (Taken from a May 6, 2012 article in The Boston Globe)
When this article appeared, Mr. MacCormack was still in the Boston City Morgue, his remains unclaimed by his family. It would be several weeks of legal work, by Attorney Joe Donnellan and Retired Boston Police Sergeant Herb White, longtime friends of Mr. MacCormack, before his remains would be released to them and with dignity and loving care Cremated.
Since the cremation, Mr. Donnellan and Sgt. White have worked with a number of community supporters, and the Trinity Church pastoral staff together they have arranged a fitting and dignified Memorial Service for Mr. MacCormack. The memorial will be on Thursday, June 7th, at 6:00PM in the Trinity Church located in Copley Square. It is no coincidence that this service of honoring Robin takes place during the Annual Boston GLBT Pride week events.
The public and the community at large is graciously invited to attend, and we encourage all to attend, and acknowledge the contributions that Robin made in the very early days of the “Gay Liberation movement” as it was called in the 70’s. Among those attending will be several of the individuals who would later carry the banner of being “The GLBT Liaison to the City of Boston and the Community”.
In an interview with the Boston Globe in 1980, Robin is quoted as saying, “ …that his goal was to change assumptions about what it means to be a gay person. “I’m often asked how the gay community is going to react to something,’’ MacCormack said. “And I have to ask, how is the straight community going to react? And they say, you can’t say that; there are so many different people in the straight community. Well, there are, too, in the gay community.’’ But MacCormack was also a guarded person, a trait that became increasingly prominent as he grew older. “For all of his public role, Robin was extremely private,’’
What: Memorial Service in Memory of Robin MacCormick
Where: Trinity Church, Copley Square
When: Thursday, June 7th 6:00 p.m.
What a week so far. Typically most of the blog posts do their ‘week in review’ posts on a Friday but we just couldn’t wait. Here’s a little rundown of some highlights from this week so far:
Former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell supports marriage equality. Powell made the remarks in an interview taped for CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. In talking with Blitzer, Powell cited his LGBT friends and their committed relationships as a driving force in his support.
Colin Powell is the latest in a string of leaders within the African-American community to support marriage equality – joining Russell Simmons, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Jay-Z. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows African-American support for marriage equality at 59 percent – an all-time high. The poll also found support for marriage equality nationwide at 53 percent – the latest in a series of national polls to show a majority of Americans supporting the right of loving and committed same-sex couples to marry.
Powell’s support also is indicative of increasing support for marriage equality among fair-minded Republicans. An NBC News/WSJ poll released yesterday showed support for marriage equality at nearly 50 percent among Republicans under the age of 35.
For all of you international sports fans, England cricket player Steven Davies became the first professional cricketer to come out. Davis, 24, said in a recent interview "I'm comfortable with who I am - and happy to say who I am in public." He went on to say “This is the right time for me…I feel it is right to be out in the open about my sexuality. If more people do it, the more acceptable it will become. That must be a good thing. To speak out is a massive relief for me, but if I can just help one person to deal with their sexuality then that's all I care about."
In keeping with the sports theme, Outsports.com recently attended a series of National Football League rookie events and found that a great many ‘soon to be’, current, and former NFL players would have no problem with a gay teammate. And one former professional player, Ahman Green, went so far as to open up about his gay brother and lesbian sister. It’s a very interesting article in which the common theme seemed to be ‘as long as a person can play and help the team win, that’s all that matters’
Oh, and finally, Target (yes, THAT Target, the recipient of an lgbt boycott for some questionable campaign donations) has launched an lgbt T-Shirt line, several of which were designed by rockstar Gwen Stefani.
So, what have we learned?
1. Colin Powell is in favor of marriage equality
2. England has its first publicly out professional cricket player
3. Many of the NFL’s incoming rookies would have no problem with a gay teammate, and
4. Target has launched an lgbt T-Shirt line
All in all, not a bad week
Over the weekend one of the nation's most influential civil rights organizations, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), declared support for civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Local LGBT leaders have been weighing in on this important development in the efforts to secure marriage equality.
Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC) Executive Director Corey Yarbrough:
The Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC) is pleased to learn of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) passage of a resolution in support of marriage equality. The NAACP’s announcement is historic for confronting homophobia within communities of color and moving the country forward in the direction of justice and equality for all.
HBGC extends our appreciation to the entire NAACP board of directors, Benjamin Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, and the local allies who helped make this possible.
We are inspired by the pledge of America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization to fight against legislation that discriminates against and revokes the constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. In upholding its commitment, we hope the NAACP’s support for LGBT equality will lead to additional efforts for correcting other injustices that disproportionately impact LGBT individuals of color, such as employment discrimination, youth homelessness, and violence perpetuated against LGBT individuals.
We look forward to continuing to develop our partnership with the Boston Branch NAACP this year by featuring President Michael Curry at our Day of Awareness and Action at the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, June 14, 2012 and collaborating with the local branch on a voter mobilization campaign this summer.
MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini:
The Human Rights Campaign released the results of a new poll conducted by CBS News and the New York Times. The results of the poll are encouraging for supporters of same sex marriage...the trend continues to shift:
From the HRC:
A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that 62 percent of Americans support recognizing same-sex relationships via either full marriage equality or civil unions. That number jumped to 70 percent when asked of those aged 18-44 across parties. Independent voters back marriage equality and civil unions by a robust 62 percent. A Gallup poll released late last week also showed that a considerable majority of independents strongly backed President Obama’s support for marriage equality.
In a recent interview with ABC News President Obama voiced his support for same sex marriage equality. Local and national reactions have been swift and divided. Locally Rebublican congressional candidate Richard Tisei was one of the first to comment on the Presidents position. Additional statements from MassEquality, GLAD, the Human Rights Campaign and many others have followed. Below is a sample of what some local organizations (and politicians) are saying.
As of this post, neither Senator Kerry nor Senator Brown have issued official statements. Senator Kerry is on record as being a staunch supporter of same sex marriage. In a recent interview with CNN Senator Brown did not offer an opinion saying only that it is ‘settled law’ in Massachusetts
Republican Congressional Candidate Richard Tisei:
“I support the evolution, as he has called it, of President Obama’s position on gay marriage. I’ve been a strong advocate for equal rights for all people in the area of marriage equality and elsewhere for years. As a country, we need to respect one another even when we sometimes don’t understand each other – especially when we don’t understand each other. In Massachusetts, I joined with other elected officials in both parties in support of these rights – not special rights, but equality.
President Obama is to be commended for changing his personal view on this matter, even as he reiterated his support for the right of states to do as they please regarding gay marriage. I would urge President Obama to work with people in both parties to lessen the fear surrounding this issue and to avoid its use for political gain. No one in either party should use this issue for political advantage. Voices need to be lowered and more tolerance needs to come into play throughout our land. When the Pilgrims came over so long ago, they didn’t agree on everything. So they focused on how they could successfully govern themselves and drew up the Mayflower Compact. They looked at what they had in common and how they could get along. We need to continually re-affirm our support for each other as Americans, even as times continue to change.”
Lee Swislow, Executive Director, GLAD:
We have just heard the exciting news that President Obama has made public his support for marriage equality.
The President has traveled a road that many Americans have traveled in recent years. He understands that gay and lesbian couples have the same love and make the same commitment as all couples, and deserve the same recognition as full citizens.
His journey has been guided by the work our community has done for decades - telling our stories, filing lawsuits, fighting ballot measures, and having conversations with our neighbors, families, co-workers and friends about our lives.
At GLAD we remember filing our marriage equality lawsuits in Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut; we remember our profound emotions when Massachusetts became the first place in the nation where gay people could marry; we remember filing our DOMA lawsuits in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Our country's history is one of expanding the circle of constitutional rights and protections to include more citizens, and our nation is always the better for it. We are proud to play a role in expanding the circle.
It remains to be seen what the President's statement will mean for our causes generally, and for our DOMA lawsuits in particular.
But for today, we celebrate your work and ours and the expanding American circle of equality
“As the first state to secure marriage equality for generations to come, we in Massachusetts are thrilled by the President’s announcement. It’s hard to imagine anything more significant to the marriage equality movement than the most powerful leader in the world declaring his support for the right to marry for all Americans. It’s a powerful affirmation before the country and world of the basic human dignity of same-sex couples and their families.
“The President’s evolution on marriage equality is not unlike the experience of the majority of Americans who have come to understand why marriage is so important to loving same-sex couples and their children. Listening, learning, growing, and changing is the American way, but it takes courage and leadership. We applaud President Obama for showing both today.
“We can’t help but note the irony of the President’s statement coming just one day after voters in North Carolina approved an amendment to the North Carolina state constitution that denies any form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Despite this setback, today marks another step forward in the unmistakable trend toward public acceptance and embrace of marriage equality. At least seven national polls have found majority support among Americans for marriage equality. These polls, and major advances on marriage equality this year in Washington and Maryland, show that the day is fast approaching when we will finally put the politics of discrimination around marriage equality behind us.
“Here in Massachusetts we have been privileged to celebrate the right to marry for just a week shy of eight years. What we’ve learned is that our communities are safer, happier, and healthier when all families are respected, supported and celebrated. As time goes on and even larger majorities of Americans come to support marriage equality, we look forward to the day when all Americans can enjoy the freedom to marry.”
Boston Pride is congratulating President Barack Obama for affirming his support for marriage equality. The President told Robin Roberts of ABC News today, “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
As members of a community who every day face discrimination in this country and around the world, we appreciate President Obama’s willingness to take this courageous stand. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same sex marriage, and since then, we’ve only seen support for marriage equality grow. Yet even while it has grown, there are those who would continue to deny us the basic right to love, marriage, and family. As such, we thank President Obama for his public statements in support of marriage equality and we look forward to the day that all Americans have the right to marry their partner, regardless of gender or orientation.
American Civil Liberties Union:
President Obama said this afternoon in an interview with ABC News that he believes that the freedom to marry should be extended to same sex couples.
Until now, the president has only favored civil unions, although he had said his views on same-sex marriage were “constantly evolving.” While in office, President Obama and his administration have taken critical strides toward LGBT equality by refusing to defend the discriminatory and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act in court and pushing Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and reaffirming support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
“President Obama is doing the right thing and showing leadership by recognizing that lesbians and gays should be treated as equal citizens,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. “The freedom to marry whomever we love and want to share our life with is fundamental to who we are and what we stand for as a country. The fight for fairness and equal treatment under the law for all Americans took a critical step forward today.”
Human Rights Campaign:
“Today, President Obama made history by boldly stating that gay and lesbian Americans should be fully and equally part of the fabric of American society and that our families deserve nothing less than the equal respect and recognition that comes through marriage.
“His presidency has shown that our nation can move beyond its shameful history of discrimination and injustice. In him, millions of young Americans have seen that their futures will not be limited by what makes them different. In supporting marriage equality, President Obama extends that message of hope to a generation of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, helping them understand that they too can be who they are and flourish as part of the American community. And his words remind gay and lesbian families across the country, who, like their neighbors, struggle to afford healthcare and college for their kids, pay their taxes and plan for retirement –but with the added burden of discrimination— that they do not face those challenges alone and unheard.
“Americans fundamentally believe in fairness, but many, like the President, have struggled to reconcile that core belief and the question of marriage equality. The President’s words will no doubt inspire thousands more conversations around kitchen tables and in church pews. We are confident that our nation will continue to move inexorably toward equality and we thank the President for so boldly leading us in that direction.”
Boston Pride has announced the Grand Marshals of the 2012 Pride Parade. The Committee has revealed that Fast Freddy (of Mix 104.1 FM) and The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition will serve as Grand Marshals. In addition,the late Brendan Burke has been named an Honorary Marshal.
The Committee's statement is below:
Boston Pride is pleased to announce that Mix 104.1’s Fast Freddy and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition have been named Grand Marshals of the 2012 Boston Pride Parade. Additionally, the late Brendan Burke has been chosen as an Honorary Marshal.
The Boston Pride Parade is a march to celebrate and promote equal rights for the region’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities and is the staple event of Pride Week. As one of the most popular and scenic gay pride marches in the country, organizations and individuals from around New England will walk together to advocate for inclusivity, equality and respect. The theme of the Boston Pride Parade this year is “Celebrating 30 Years of Worldwide Pride Movement” in honor of the annual InterPride conference, which will be held this year in Boston in October.
Fast Freddy was selected through an online vote by supporters of Boston Pride and members of the community. Fast Freddy is a weekday afternoon on-air personality, with Gregg Daniels and Sue Brady, at Mix 104.1, one of the most popular radio stations in the region. He began his career in radio as an intern for local legend, Sunny Jo White and has worked for Mix since 2005.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) was chosen by the Boston Pride Board of Directors in recognition of their work supporting the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, which was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in January. The law made Massachusetts the 16th state to add non-discrimination laws for gender identity in employment, housing, K-12 public education, and credit. Additionally, Massachusetts hate crimes laws were also updated to include gender identity.
The community also voted to name Brendan Burke as an Honorary Marshal, which is given posthumously. Burke, who was an athlete and student manager of the RedHawks ice hockey team at Miami University (Ohio), made international headlines in 2009 for coming out as a sophomore in college and for advocating tolerance in professional sports. Burke, whose hometown is Canton, Massachusetts and who graduated from Xaverian High School in Westwood, Massachusetts, was killed in a car crash in 2010. Burke’s father, Brian, is general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and of the US Olympic Hockey Team and USA Hockey established the “Brendan Burke Scholarship” in his honor. His brother Patrick Burke has established the nonprofit You Can Play, to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
“We are excited that Fast Freddy and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition will be the Grand Marshals of the 2012 Boston Pride Parade,” said Linda DeMarco, president of Boston Pride. “Fast Freddy, a strong voice for our community on the radio airwaves and a volunteer supporter of many nonprofits in our community, is a great choice by our supporters and he’ll bring a lot of energy to the parade. As a committee, we wanted to honor the work of MTPC, who worked tirelessly and patiently to pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, which is an important milestone for the community. We are also pleased to be honoring the legacy of Brendan Burke, whose courageous decision to come out has set an example for young athletes around the country.”
Just in time for International Workers Day, activist Cleve Jones urges remembering that labor movements gave rise to gay rights, and that LGBT advocacy groups’ ties to corporations demonstrate a lack of inspiration
By James A. Lopata
Today, with the likes of Goldman Sachs and other major corporations donating tens of thousands of dollars to the Human Rights Campaign and other major LGBT rights organizations, it can be easy to forget that 30 or 40 years ago big companies studiously avoided any affiliation with anything gay, and that about the only groups interested in associating with queers were leftists, anti-war demonstrators, and labor movement workers.
In a visit to the offices of MassEquality, Massachusetts' largest LGBT advocacy organization, less than a month before International Workers Day on May 1, LGBT rights activist Cleve Jones urged activists to remember that LGBT rights have sprung from the struggles of labor.
"I joined the movement 40 years ago," he said. "And for me, the gay liberation movement—as we quaintly called it then—was an extension of the movement I had already joined to fight the war in Vietnam, to support the Equal Rights Amendment, and to stand with Cesar Chavez and the farm workers. And I think that most of us who were around during that time saw gay liberation as part of a broader struggle for peace and social justice."
Many may know Jones as the man who conceived of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, or as Harvey Milk's cute assistant portrayed by Emile Hirsch in the 2009 Academy Award-winning biopic Milk. At 57, Jones still boasts a cute grin, but his larger build and additional facial wrinkles belie the aging that accompanies someone who has been on the front lines of long battles for civil rights.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, with her Civil Rights Division Chief Maura Healey, and GLAD Attorney Mary Bonauto (seated). (photo: Joel Benjamin)
[NOTE: This story ran in the September/October issue of Boston Spirit magazine. It provides some back story to today's court hearing on challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).]
Three local women take on the feds in overturning DOMA and holding the government up to the values enshrined by our forefathers in the nation’s constitution
by Tony Giampetruzzi
On July 8, a federal judge ruled that Army Veteran Darrel Hopkins won’t have to choose whether to be interred in a Arlington National Cemetery in recognition of his devoted service to his country, or be buried next to his husband Tom Casey Hopkins elsewhere—a choice married couples with opposite-sex partners have never had to make. And Mary Ritchie won’t be denied benefits if her spouse, Kathy Bush, a state trooper, dies on duty. Further, Jo Ann Whitehead will receive $13,000 more per year now if her wife Bette Jo Green passes away before she does. And also, Marlin Nabors and Jonathan Knight will pay several thousand fewer dollars each year in taxes.
And while U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro’s July decisions are likely to be appealed, even up to the Supreme Court, they represent a clear and major victory in the fight to overturn DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which bans the federal government from providing any recognition of marriage between partners of the same sex.
That such a clearly pro-equality ruling came from a judge appointed by former president Nixon, comes thanks—in no small measure—to the work of three local women.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, along with her Civil Rights Division Chief Maura Healey and GLAD Attorney Mary Bonauto, are taking the United States government to task for not upholding the basic values enshrined in this country’s constitution.FULL ENTRY
NOTE: In light of the news of yesterday's federal court appeals ruling that California's ban on civil marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional, we are posting an article from Boston Spirit from November/December 2010, which reveals the extent to which Massachusetts residents have rallied to support marriage equality in California. Up until at least October of 2010, Bay Staters' average per capita contributions to the campaign to defeat Proposition 8 were only surpassed by those of The Golden State.
OUT-OF-STATE DONATIONS PER CAPITA TO DEFEAT PROP 8
Proportional relation of average per capita donations by state for defeating Proposition 8—supporting equal marriage—through October 2010. (Massachusetts' average per capita donation reaches nearly .023%.) (Source: Data gathered from publicly available sources as accessed and compared from projects.latimes.com/prop8 and www.sfgate.com/webdb/prop8 and analyzed by Boston Spirit.)
Only California Claims More Anti-Prop 8 Donors Per Capita
The Bay State boasts more out-of-state citizens donating to repeal Prop. 8 than any other state; though at least one prominent Bay Stater defies that trend, Michelle Ainge, wife of Celtics president Danny Ainge
Proposition 8 has been one of the biggest gay stories since equal marriage became law in Massachusetts.
In 2008, this California initiative to amend the state’s constitution to ban civil marriage for same-sex couples, shattered local and national finance records and attracted more money on both sides than any other campaign that year, with the exception of the presidency.
The initiative passed, and same-sex couples were banned from getting married. Then, this August, a federal judge ruled the amendment unconstitutional, and with appeals in motion, the legal battle could be decided by the Supreme Court. Or a referendum for repeal could be passed.
Either way, money has been pouring in from adherents on both sides of the battle. And except for Californians, more Massachusetts residents, per capita, are putting up money to ensure Golden State same-sex couples the right to marry than residents of any other state.
The largest AIDS service organizations in Boston and New York really want to help their clients.
With the slew of friendly wagers being made between mayors and fans on Super Bowl XLVI, the leaders of New England’s AIDS Action Committee (AAC) and New York’s GMHC saw an opportunity to join in the good-natured rivalry and possibly boost fundraising.
AAC President and CEO Rebecca Haag believes the Patriots will have no trouble defeating the Giants.
GMHC CEO Marjorie Hill thinks different. She, naturally, stands behind the Giants.
So each put a grand on the line. If the New England Patriots win, then AIDS Action Committee’s annual AIDS Walk will receive a $1,000 donation from the GMHC contingent. If the New York Giants defeat the Patriots, then GMHC’s AIDS Walk will receive $1,000 from AIDS Action donors.
“I have a lot of confidence in Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Vince Wilfork. So I’m pretty sure we’re going to win on Sunday,” said Haag. “But regardless of the game’s outcome, services for people with HIV and AIDS will win out with a donation to this critical work.”
Governor Deval Patrick signing the Massachusetts' Transgender Equal Rights Bill. On the left is Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality, and on the right is Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. (photo: Marilyn Humphries)
In a celebratory gathering at the Statehouse yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick ceremonially signed the Massachusetts' Transgender Equal Rights Bill into law.
Photographs of the momentous event displayed here were captured by photographer Marilyn Humphries.
Below are official statements released in relation to the signing by some of the major players, who helped secure passage of this historic legislation:
— Gunner Scott
Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
“This bill includes essential protections for transgender youth, adults, and families and is a life-changing piece of legislation. Its passage is historic ... While we celebrate today, we are also continuing our advocacy and education about the need for the vital protections that are missing in public accommodations.”