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Politics

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, state will not recognize legally performed same-sex marriages

Posted by David Zimmerman March 26, 2014 02:15 PM

Snyder.jpg
(AP: Rick Snyder)

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has announced that that state will not recognize the nearly 300 same-sex marriages that were performed last Saturday in the state.

“With respect to the marriages, we believe those are legal and valid marriages,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “The stay being issued makes it more complicated. Because of the stay, we won’t recognize the benefits of the marriage until there’s a removal of the stay,” he added.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to provide some clarity, at least from our perspective, relatively soon.”

The marriages were performed after a recent court decision in Michigan legalizing marriage equality. That decision was appealed by Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette. The current stay could remain in place until 2015 when the Supreme Court is expected to hear the case.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston SPirit's Fab 5

State Rep. Carl Sciortino to lead AIDS Action

Posted by David Zimmerman March 25, 2014 03:32 PM

AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts today announced that it named Carl Sciortino as the organization's Executive Director. Sciortino is a state representative from the 34th Middlesex District. He plans to resign from the legislature on April 4.

According to AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts:

“Carl’s entire career has been defined by his work on social justice issues and his advocacy on behalf of those infected, affected, and at risk for HIV,” said Douglas Spencer, chair of the AIDS Action Board of Directors. “Even with health reform and better access to care, there is still much to do to prevent the spread of HIV and ensure access to care and treatment for all of those who are infected. Carl will lead us into a new era in which we can finally win the battle against HIV and look forward to an AIDS-free generation.”

During nine years in office, Sciortino distinguished himself as an effective and reliable proponent of policy changes, as well as allocation of resources, to aid those living with, and vulnerable to, HIV infection. In 2012, he supported passage of a law resulting in expanded HIV testing, and he has consistently sponsored budget amendments seeking increases in funding for HIV outreach, prevention, and education. He has championed social justice issues throughout his career including the right of same-sex couples to marry; banning discrimination against transgender people; expanding access to health care; and increasing resources for anti-poverty programs.

“As a gay man living with HIV, I am honored to lead one of the country’s oldest and most effective organizations in the battle against this disease which has raged on over 30 years,” said Sciortino. “My goal for AIDS Action in the years ahead is simple: continue the work that has resulted in lowering the rate of new HIV diagnoses in Massachusetts; provide the multitude of services needed to keep those living with HIV/AIDS connected with health care providers; and continue the public conversation about HIV needed to reduce the stigma that is still so closely associated with this disease.”

Sciortino will be the first person living with HIV to lead AIDS Action since its founding in 1982. The agency has been led since 2003 by Rebecca Haag. Under Haag’s leadership, AIDS Action merged with two smaller organizations in 2010 and 2011, and last year announced a new strategic partnership with Fenway Health.

This new model is one of the first of its kind in the nation and combines Fenway’s nationally recognized expertise in HIV care and treatment with AIDS Action’s community-based services. This is consistent with the movement in health care reform to provide a medical home model that addresses the comprehensive needs of patients to ensure better health care outcomes and lower health care costs.

“I can think of no one better than Carl to lead AIDS Action in the years to come and to work closely with Fenway Health to maximize our partnership on behalf of those we serve,” Haag said. “Carl has been an invaluable legislative and advocacy partner over the last decade. He is uniquely positioned to advance the state and national conversation around treatment and care of those living with chronic conditions, and the need for health care reform to pay for the vital support services necessary to keep treatment costs sustainable.”

Sciortino was first elected to office in 2004. In 2011, he was named Legislator of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers. In 2010, the Massachusetts School Psychologists Association named him Legislator of the Year. He is a founding member of the Young Elected Officials Network. Prior to being elected to the state legislature, he worked as a research manager for Fenway Health. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Tufts University. He lives in Medford with his husband.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Obama appoints Bostonian as Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy

Posted by Jim Lopata March 24, 2014 07:08 PM
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Douglas Brooks as photographed for a profile on him in Boston Spirit magazine in 2010. (photo: Tony Scarpetta for Boston Spirit)

Local LGBT player Douglas Brooks is moving from Dorchester to Washington, D.C.

The White House announced today that the Senior Vice President for Community, Health, and Public Policy at Boston-based health and human service agency JRI, has been appointed to become the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.

“Douglas’s policy expertise combined with his extensive experience working in the community makes him uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach,” President Obama said. “I look forward to having him lead our efforts from the White House.”

The Bostonian, who grew up in Macon, Georgia, was profiled in Boston Spirit magazine in the May/June issue of 2012.

In the interview, he talked about being appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS that year, saying, “In many ways it is the highest honor I’ve received and also deeply humbling. There are many people out there as qualified and as dedicated as I am to eradicating HIV/AIDS. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be at the White House swearing to work on a project that is so important to me.”

And now, he's on to something even bigger. He'll be missed by many in Beantown.

Here's from the press release:

FULL ENTRY

Catholic League president calls for boycott of Guinness, Heineken, and Sam Adams

Posted by David Zimmerman March 19, 2014 09:45 AM

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(Catholic League)

Late last week Boston Beer Company, brewer of Sam Adams, announced that they would end their sponsorship of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade due to the fact that parade organizers would not allow LGBT veterans to march, openly, in the parade.

Shortly after this decision both Heineken and Guinness announced that they would not take part in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. While the moves were applauded by LGBT groups, and supporters of the LGBT community, there are others who are not very happy with the decisions. One of those groups is the Catholic League.

Catholic League president Bill Donahue has called for a boycott of all three beers.

None of these companies believe in diversity. No gay person has ever been barred from marching in any St. Patrick’s Day parade, anymore than the parade bans pro-life Catholics or vegetarian Catholics; they simply cannot march under their own banner. The parade has one cause: honoring St. Patrick. Those who disagree do not have to march—that’s what diversity is all about.

The parade is quintessentially Catholic, beginning with a Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It is this Catholic element that angers those who are engaged in a bullying campaign against the St. Patrick’s Day parades. The bullies also have nothing but contempt for the constitutional rights of Irish Catholics.

In response to Donahue’s statement, Guinness released a statement.

The statement reads:

Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.

Late last week the Boston Beer Company stated:

We have been participating in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade for nearly a decade and have also supported the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast year after year. We’ve done so because of the rich history of the event and to support veterans who have done so much for this country.

We were hopeful that both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible.

Concluded Donahue “I have had my last Guinness and Sam Adams. Heineken was always slop, so there is no sacrifice there. I urge Catholics, and all those who believe in tolerance, diversity, and the First Amendment, to join with me in boycotting these brews.”


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

Boston restaurant drops Sam Adams beer over St. Patrick's Day Parade

Posted by David Zimmerman March 13, 2014 03:05 PM


Club Cafe, a South End restaurant fixture for more than 30 years and popular night spot for the city's LGBT community has posted an open letter on its facebook page stating that it will no longer carry Sam Adams beer "until such time as either the Parade organizers change their position, or Sam Adams removes its support of the St. Patrick Day Parade."

The letter states, in part, "It is hard to understand how a community like Boston, where Gay members of the Police force, military and others have, and continue to, put there lives on the line for ALL BOSTONIAN's, that organizers of The St.Patrick's Day Parade feel it is just to discriminate against us as a community," and is signed by longtime owner Frank Ribaudo as well as longtime General Manager Jim Morgrage.

See the entire letter below:

Club Cafe is very disappointed that Sam Adams does not understand that the organizers of the St. Patrick's Day Parade continue to demonstrate that they do not respect LGBT Irish Americans by excluding LGBT members of this community from openly marching in the St.Patrick's Day Parade.

It is hard to understand how a community like Boston, where Gay members of the Police force, military and others have, and continue to, put there lives on the line for ALL BOSTONIAN's, that organizers of The St.Patrick's Day Parade feel it is just to discriminate against us as a community, and that Sam Adams does not take seriously the impact that their support of bigotry will have on their relationship to the LGBT community and their business.

Therefore Club Cafe will no longer sell Sam Adams until such time as either the Parade organizers change their position, or Sam Adams removes its support of the St. Patrick Day Parade.

Frank Ribaudo, Jim Morgrage, and Club Cafe


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Michele Bachmann: Gay community has 'bullied the American people'

Posted by David Zimmerman March 11, 2014 10:00 AM

Michele Bachmann, the Republican Representative from Minnesota, while speaking on a radio program at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference, said the gay community has “bullied the American people” and “intimidated politicians.”

Bachman was primarily speaking about SB 1062, the "religious freedom restoration act," which was vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. “There’s nothing about gays in there, but the gay community decided to make this their measure,” Bachmann said. “And the thing that I think is getting a little tiresome is the gay community have so bullied the American people and they have so intimidated politicians that politicians fear them and they think they get to dictate the agenda everywhere. Well, not with the Constitution you don’t.”

Previously Bachmann said she was “sorry” that Brewer had vetoed the bill stating, “Just like we need to observe tolerance for the gay and lesbian community, we need to have tolerance for the community of people who hold sincerely held religious beliefs."

She also had some harsh words for President Obama during the interview saying, "He's a lawless president who's violating the Constitution with every executive order."

You can hear the entire interview here.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Support for marriage equality at an all time high according to ABC News/Washington Post poll

Posted by David Zimmerman March 9, 2014 10:48 AM

A recent poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post shows that support among Americans for marriage equality is at an all time high. The poll also found that the majority of respondents also oppose the ‘right’ to refuse business to someone on the basis of religious freedom (similar to the recent Senate Bill 1062 which was vetoed in Arizona).

According to the survey 59 percent of those who responded support marriage equality, up from just 32 percent in 2004. 34 percent opposed marriage equality, this number represents a 13 percent decrease since 2012.

The poll also found that 81 percent of respondents oppose allowing businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians; 65 percent say so even if business owners cite there religious beliefs

Regarding adoption and on and parenting, 61 percent of respondents said gay couples should be allowed to adopt, and 78 percent said gays “can be as good parents as straight people.”

MassEquality issues statement regarding St. Patrick's Day Parade rejection

Posted by David Zimmerman March 5, 2014 10:19 AM

Kara Coredini, Executive Director of MassEquality, has issued a statement regarding the ongoing saga between the LGBT non-profit and the organizers of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Coredini says that MassEquality is “extremely disappointed” with the parade organizers and references the “abrupt and hostile tone of the Parade organizers’ rejection (of MassEquality’s application to march without conditions).”

Here is the full statement from MassEquality:

We are extremely disappointed with the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council’s decision yesterday to continue their long history of banning LGBT people from marching openly in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. We were under the impression that negotiations were positive and ongoing, and we were surprised by the abrupt and hostile tone of the Parade organizers’ rejection.

We know from experience that change comes through conversation and dialogue. We were encouraged to have an historic opportunity to meet face-to-face with Parade organizers to discuss a contingent involving LGBT veterans, and we did so with open hearts and open minds. We regret that the Parade organizers shut down conversation before an agreement could be finalized. MassEquality represents LGBT people across the lifespan. We were proud to work with a group of LGBT veterans to end the Department of Defense’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and those same veterans would have been proud to represent the end of the Parade’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Throughout this process, we have heard from many people with diverse perspectives about this Parade. Stories from those who marched openly and at great personal risk in this very Parade decades ago touched us deeply. LGBT people should never have to silence who they are to be safe, to be equal, or to celebrate other parts of their identities.

MassEquality is marching toward justice, and we remain committed to full equality and inclusion for everyone in our LGBT communities. We are grateful to all of the elected leaders who declined to march in the Parade because of its history of exclusion. And we are grateful to Mayor Walsh for taking that leadership one step further by pushing for dialogue and reaching toward resolution.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Immaculate Heart of Mary School pulls out of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Posted by David Zimmerman March 5, 2014 09:27 AM

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(IHM School)

The historic South Boston Saint Patrick's Day Parade will go on as planned once again this year, but without a blessing from Saint Patrick, himself. After more than 20 years, IHM School's iconic float bearing the majestic Saint and a bevy of irish children and angels (IHM students) will not be seen waving and smiling on West Broadway this year due to the controversial presence of a gay activist group which will be marching.

So says the website introduction to yesterday’s press release from the Immaculate Heart of Mary School, based in Still River, MA.

The release, which includes several quotes from the school’s principle Br. Thomas Dalton, states in part that the IHM School decided to pull out of the parade after “learning that a homosexual advocacy group will be allowed to march in this year’s parade.” (Editor’s note: as of the posting of this column no LGBT groups have been allowed to march in this year’s parade. A second application submitted by MassEquality has been rejected by parade organizers)

“We must stand firm with the Church which states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II, that ‘homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity’ and ‘are intrinsically disordered…Under no circumstances can they be approved.’(#2357)” said Br. Dalton in the release.

Newly elected Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to negotiate a solution which would allow LGBT groups to march in the parade. A recent attempt failed when the parade organizers stipulated that MassEquality could march, but could not wear and clothing or hold any signs that had the word “gay” or mentioned sexual orientation.

According to reports, negotiations are ongoing.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

LGBT group MassEquality responds to the invitation to march in South Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade

Posted by David Zimmerman March 1, 2014 03:27 PM

Over the past couple of days Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has been working with the organizers of the South Boston St Patrick’s Day Parade in an effort to finally end the stalemate between the parade organizers and the LGBT community.

It has been a longstanding tradition that LGBT groups were not welcome to march in the parade. As a result former Mayor Menino did not march in the parade and Mayor Walsh has stated that he would not march either if the anti-LGBT stance remained in place.

The Boston Globe reported earlier today that Mayor Walsh and parade organizers have negotiated a deal that would allow for LGBT advocacy group MassEquality to march in the parade, however there are conditions attached. Marchers from the group would not be permitted to wear T-shirts or hold signs that include the word gay or refer to sexual orientation.

From the Boston Globe article:

“They can march under the MassEquality banner,” Tim Duross, one of the parade coordinators, said Friday. “We’d be happy to have them here. And we’d be proud to have them here. Everybody knows who MassEquality is.

“We said, ‘You’re a great organization, you do wonderful things for people, and therefore we’d be happy to have you in our parade. But we’d rather you just wish everybody a happy St. Patrick’s Day and left it with that.’ ”

Reaction to the news via comments on Boston Spirit magazine’s facebook page was overwhelming negative. One comment called for a boycott of MassEquality if the group accepted the conditional invitation, others compared the situation to the recent Olympic Games in Sochi and the U.S. military’s recently overturned Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.


Late this afternoon (Saturday) MassEquality issued a statement regarding the invitation to march as well as the conditions attached to the invitation.


The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade has a long history of banning LGBT people from freely expressing themselves. This morning, the Boston Globe reported that Parade organizers had issued an invitation for MassEquality to march in the Parade. MassEquality has not yet had any direct discussion with Parade organizers and learned about this invitation through the Boston Globe. Any reports that a deal has been reached are incorrect.

The fact that Parade organizers are willing to have a conversation with MassEquality is an important part of ongoing public dialogue about LGBT people and the Parade. But at this point, it’s still just a conversation. MassEquality has not accepted any invitation to march, and will only consider accepting an invitation that allows LGBT people to march openly.

We have heard from LGBT people who are Irish, who are veterans, and many others who would like to march in the Parade and to be able to express all of who they are. LGBT people should not have to silence who they are to celebrate other parts of their identities.

Ultimately, MassEquality is marching toward justice and we are committed to full equality and inclusion for everyone in our LGBT communities. We welcome a direct conversation with the Parade organizers about making the St. Patrick’s Day Parade truly welcoming to LGBT people.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit magazine's Fab 5

Dear South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers...meet Arizona

Posted by David Zimmerman February 28, 2014 08:17 AM

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Dear South Boston St Patrick’s Day organizers,

You might have seen a news story this week taking place in Arizona. It involved a piece of legislation called SB 1062, also known as the ‘Restoration of Religious Freedom Act’. The senate bill allowed for business owners in Arizona to deny services to certain citizens if those citizens lived a life that conflicted with the business owners religious beliefs. If signed into law an Arizona business owner who is a devout Catholic could have, for example, denied services to a gay or lesbian person. There are other examples as well.

When the Republican-led legislature in that state passed SB 1062 it created an immediate and widespread uproar. Corporations doing business in Arizona, including Apple, Marriott and others, urged Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. So did several prominent politicians (included Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake – both also Republicans), as well as the National Football League and Major League Baseball.

Television pundits from across the globe began a full scale assault on the bill. Even Fox News weighed in saying this was a bad piece of legislation…that is saying something!

This bill was, in essence, legalized discrimination. They must be crazy in Arizona right? Too much sun maybe? Imagine being mocked by the entire country? Told that your views were archaic and out of touch. Called “morally repugnant” by none other than John Stewart. The U.S. does not allow for discrimination of this kind, we’re better than that was the prevailing opinion.

Unless of course it’s the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the last bastion of Massachusetts-led, religious-based discrimination. Our own very special version of archaic and out of touch thinking. How dare gays and lesbians be allowed to march in your parade, you say.

“Saint Patrick was a Catholic archbishop and is a Catholic saint,” said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic League, in a statement Thursday. “How do you honor a Catholic saint by providing a platform to those who express pride in rejecting Catholic morality? And who castigate that morality as bigotry, hatred and homophobia?”

Well Mr. Doyle, how about we ask the organizers of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin? You know, the place where it all began. Apparently they have no problem at all reconciling your dilemma. They openly welcome gays and lesbians to take part in their parade and celebration.

By the way, have you taken a quick peek around Southie lately? In case you haven’t noticed it has become one of the hottest up-and-coming ‘gayborhoods’ in the region. There are Southie-based LGBT neighborhood groups such as One Southie and others. And along with this new influx of young straight and gay residents Southie has seen an incredible growth of beautiful new residential buildings, new restaurants and more.

Kudos to Mayor Menino and now Mayor Walsh for doing the right thing.

No gays and lesbians allowed huh? Can you imagine if someone in Boston ever put up a sign that read “No Irish Need Apply”? Oh wait…


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.


Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoes controversial 'discrimination' bill

Posted by David Zimmerman February 27, 2014 08:34 AM

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(AP)

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed Senate Bill 1062, also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill, passed recently by a Republican led state legislature, created a firestorm across the country from concerned citizens, businesses, politicians, and even the National Football League and Major League Baseball.

If passed the bill would have allowed for Arizona businesses to practice ’legalized discrimination’ under the guise of religious freedom.

Brewer issued her veto last night at 5:45 p.m. A transcript of her remarks are below.

Good evening and thank you all for joining me here this evening.

I’m here to announce a decision on Senate Bill 1062. As with every proposal that reached my desk I give great concern and careful evaluation and deliberate consideration, especially to Senate Bill 1062.

I call them like I seem them despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd. I took the necessary time to make the right decision.

I met and spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation.

As governor I have asked questions, and I have listened. I have protected religious freedoms where there is a specific and present concern that exists in our state, and I have the record to prove it.

My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona. When I addressed the Legislature earlier this year, I made my priorities for this session abundantly clear. Among them are passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona’s economic comeback. From CEOs, to entrepreneurs, to business surveys, Arizona ranks as one of the best states to grow or start a business.

Additionally, our immediate challenge is fixing a broken child protection system. Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk.

Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona.

I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.

To the supporters of this legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes, however, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and nobody could ever want.

Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination. Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizona and Americans.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

The National Football League's statement regarding Arizona's 'discrimination' bill

Posted by David Zimmerman February 25, 2014 11:58 AM


SB1062, the controversial bill recently passed by the Arizona legislature that would allow for legalized discrimination, under the guise of religious freedom, has, apparently, caught the eye of the National Football League…among others. The bill, which will either get approved or vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer this week has been a hot topic across the country with many civil rights activists and politicians (including several who initially voted to pass the bill) urging Brewer to use her power of veto.

The NFL is currently scheduled to hold the 2015 Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Yesterday, the host NFL team, the Arizona Cardinals, joined the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL in releasing statements regarding SB 1062.


From the Arizona Cardinals:

What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together. We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home.

From the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee:

We share the NFL’s core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state’s economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation. Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL’s values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX.

From the NFL via spokesman Greg Aiello

"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time."

Senator John McCain calls on Arizona Governor to veto 'discrimination bill'

Posted by David Zimmerman February 24, 2014 02:00 PM

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Today, GOP Senator John McCain joined a group of Arizona politicians who are urging their Governor, Jan Brewer, to veto Senate Bill 1062.

The bill, passed by a Republican-led state legislature, allows for legally sanctioned discrimination. It has been named the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Ron Barber have all previously asked Brewer to veto the bill.

The fallout from SB 1062 has been swift with one legislator who voted for the bill admitting to the Arizona Capital Times “I screwed up.” Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, told Capitol Media Services Sunday he now thinks the legislation, billed as providing protections for those of faith, is a bad idea. “I’m trying to make it right” he told Capitol Media Services.

And, according to Kristin Jarnagin, vice president of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, just the fact that the Legislature approved the measure has resulted in cancelled trips. “We have already lost untold amounts of tax dollars due to the negative perception that this legislation attaches to our state’s image, and the bill hasn’t even been signed into law yet,” she told the Arizona Capital Times.

“We literally begged lawmakers to consider the unintended consequences not only on our tourism industry but on our ability to attract new businesses and jobs to our state,” she said. “Unfortunately, those pleas fell on deaf ears.”


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Q&A with the gay man who could be the next governor of Maine

Posted by Jim Lopata February 24, 2014 01:33 AM


The Maine Gay Guy

If Mike Michaud hangs on to his lead in the polls, he could become the nation’s first openly gay person to be elected to a governorship, making him arguably the most powerful out politician in the U.S.

by Tony Giampetruzzi

Will Maine be the first state in the nation to elect an openly gay governor? It certainly could be if Congressman Mike Michaud (D-Maine) holds his (slim) lead in very early polls against other declared candidates, sitting Republican Governor Paul LePage and Independent businessman Eliot Cutler.

Michaud, 58, who announced his bid for the Blaine House last summer, put rumors to rest in November when he announced that he is gay in an op-ed that ran in Maine’s largest newspapers. Few people were shocked, something Michaud as much as predicted in his announcement.

“ … I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay,” he wrote. “Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: ‘Yes I am. But why should it matter?’”

The outcome was anything but dramatic. Just as states that legalize gay marriage no longer grab above-the-fold headlines, Michaud’s statement did little more than make him the eighth openly gay member of Congress and confirm what many people already seemed to know. There was little awe, even from the voters in his district, which rates as the largest east of the Mississippi, and one of the more conservative in New England.

“For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer,” Michaud wrote. “One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.”

Mainers agreed en masse. Polls immediately following Michaud’s op-ed showed no statistical shift in his support, and the media was hard pressed to find anyone who would turn against Michaud, even among those who have a bone to pick with homosexuals. In the Bangor Daily News article—“Spectrum of reactions to Michaud coming out: shock, surprise, ‘we all knew it’”—published a couple days after the oped, a comment from a 70-year-old retiree from a Millinocket paper mill may have been the most telling.

Dick Waceken said that “Michaud’s homosexuality, while known—‘if somebody’s gay, it gets around fast’—never mattered much.”

“We all knew Mike was gay,” Waceken told the Bangor Daily. “They still voted for him because he is from the area. And he’s an honest man. I think I am anti-gay. I think women should be with men and men should be with women, but I am still going to vote for Mike.”
For voters in his district, Michaud commands respect: like his father, and his grandfather before him, Michaud was a mill worker in northern Maine for 30 years before his election to Congress in 2002. During that time, he was elected seven times to the Maine Legislature, adjusting his shifts at the mill to accommodate an erratic schedule in Augusta.

In Congress, Michaud was staunchly pro-LGBT out of the gate, even going on record as opposed to previous versions of ENDA because it didn’t go far enough on trans inclusion.
With plenty of time for the political winds to shift in a state where a majority of voters identify as Independent, the gubernatorial race is just now starting to take form. All indicators suggest that it will be close and contentious: LePage maintains support from his own party despite a series of high profile gaffes, while Cutler appeals to Independent and Democratic voters who point to his fiscal experience in the private sector as enticing.

Now, with the gay question behind him and no loss of momentum, he tells Boston Spirit that he’s looking forward to the race, that he enjoys being a role model for those seeking to “come out,” and that, when he needs to blow off a little steam, pulling out the chainsaw and doing some backwoods work is the best stress-reliever.

[SPIRIT] For many people, uttering those words “I’m gay” publicly can be emancipating: how did you feel when, suddenly, it was no longer a secret?

[MICHAUD] Actually, people have been very supportive, After I came out and it made the news, support from family, friends and colleagues—from around the country and even some people from overseas who were originally from Maine—has been overwhelming. As I told one reporter, I’m the same Mike that I was last month or last year. I haven’t changed, but what has changed is that several people have come to me since I came out and they have told me that I provided them with the impetus to come out.

FULL ENTRY

Arizona pizzeria refuses to serve legislators

Posted by David Zimmerman February 22, 2014 08:22 AM

In the wake of Arizona’s legislature recently passing a law that allows for discrimination (under the guise of religious freedom), a pizzeria in Tucson has decided that it will no longer serve Arizona legislators.

Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza is taking a stand against the politicians who have voted in favor of Senate Bill 1062 which gives Arizona business owners the right to deny service to gays and others on the basis of religious freedom.

On Thursday the pizzeria posted a photo to its Facebook page (seen above) along with the message “"Funny how just being decent is starting to seem radical these days."

"A customer posted the sign to my Facebook feed, so I printed it up and laminated it," owner Anthony Rocco DiGrazia told The Huffington Post Friday (via Facebook). "The response has been overwhelming and almost all positive from across the globe. I just want to serve dinner and own and work in a place I'm proud of. Opening the door to government-sanctioned discrimination, regardless of why, is a huge step in the wrong direction. Thanks for all the support."

SB1062, which was approved along party lines (in the Republican controlled legislature) reads, in part:

Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

From the Democratic side Senator Anna Tovar had this to say, "SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation. This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability."

While Republican Steve Yarborough had this take, "This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

The bill is now in front of Governor Jan Brewer who can either pass it or decide to veto it.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

MassEquality honors Speaker DeLeo with Political Icon award

Posted by David Zimmerman February 10, 2014 09:48 AM

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MassEquality has announced that House Speaker Robert DeLeo will be honored as a Political Icon at their upcoming ICON Awards ceremony. Also receiving awards will be community leader and philanthropist Harry Collings, as MassEquality’s 2014 Philanthropic Icon, and Boston-based, national consumer healthcare advocate, Community Catalyst as the 2014 Community Icon.

The Icon Awards celebrate the exceptional leadership of individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to bettering the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and allies in the Commonwealth through elected office, legislative advocacy and public education and engagement.

Now in its third year, the 2014 Icon Awards gala also will celebrate the 10th anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts by honoring a special group of individuals, advocates and policy makers whose history-making leadership preserved equal marriage for generations to come by convincing 151 of 200 State House lawmakers to keep the issue off the ballot in Massachusetts.

The awards highlight game-changing allies in MassEquality’s recent efforts to ensure a majority of pro-LGBTQ champions in the State House and secure legislation and policy to end youth bullying, advance protections for transgender people in public spaces, improve HIV/AIDS prevention, support older LGBTQ adults, improve health care access and ensure a fairer workplace for LGBTQ individuals and couples who are disproportionately impacted by efforts to secure equal pay for equal work, raise the minimum wage, and expand access to workplace sick leave.

“I’m honored to receive this award and to be a part of the LGBTQ community. I’m especially honored to receive this award from MassEquality because without it my partner of 32 years and I would not have had a wonderful wedding to celebrate our relationship,” said Harry Collings.

“Community Catalyst is honored by this recognition and proud to work with MassEquality to advance the rights of the LGBT community. We look forward to continuing our work with MassEquality and other partners around the country to ensure all LGBT individuals and their families have access to high quality, affordable health care,” said Community Catalyst Executive Director Rob Restuccia.

“For some of us in the legislature, the fight for marriage equality was incredibly personal, but for all of us, it was transformative,” said Jarrett Barrios, chief executive officer for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts and the first openly gay man to serve in the Massachusetts legislature. “We are so honored to be recognized for our work but, to a person, know how blessed we are to have had the opportunity to be part of this historic victory.
“From HIV/AIDS to transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination and health care to marriage equality, each of these awardees has envisioned, initiated and championed campaigns on the most cutting edge issues of our time,” said Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality. “The honor is all ours to thank them and to hold them up as the standard setters for advancing justice and equality for all LGBTQ people from cradle to grave.”

Political Icon: Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo
House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s leadership was central to the successful effort to pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill and in ongoing efforts to address the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness, end anti-LGBTQ schoolyard bullying, and ensure state support for life-saving social services for older LGBTQ adults, survivors of intimate partner violence and those living with HIV/AIDS. Speaker DeLeo first championed LGBTQ civil rights while working on the House Committee on Ways and Means. He was one of the first state legislators to allocate funds for LGBTQ youth and persisted in these efforts despite receiving hate mail from some of his constituents and from other people across the country. Speaker DeLeo has been outspoken about his commitment to addressing the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness in the Commonwealth.

Philanthropic Icon: Harry Collings
Harry Collings has been the LGBTQ community’s “ambassador” for more than four decades. When the AIDS Action Committee was founded in 1983, Harry led the remarkable all volunteer fundraising effort, and helped build the organization that became one of the most important agencies in the U.S. fighting the AIDS epidemic. Harry went on to manage the first capital campaign for Fenway Health, negotiating the donation of land, commandeering the funds, and overseeing the construction of its first new building in 1991. On the political front, Harry has worked closely with Mayors Kevin White and Ray Flynn and, for 20 years, he has enjoyed a close relationship with his personal friend, Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Philanthropically, Harry has given away almost as much money as he has raised, supporting a wide variety of LGBTQ causes and MassEquality partners such as AIDS Action, Fenway Health, The Theater Offensive and Community Servings. He married his long-time partner, Dan Moon, in 2005.

Community Icon: Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a Boston-based, national consumer health advocacy organization working to ensure that all individuals and communities can influence the local, state and national decisions that affect their health. In the last year, Community Catalyst has championed Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation that serves the needs of LGBTQ individuals and families. This includes ensuring non-discrimination in state-based, partnership and federally-facilitated marketplaces, ensuring consumer assistance programs (such as Navigators) are culturally competent, and influencing the inclusivity of the essential health benefits package. Community Catalyst has been persistent in its efforts to ensure better access to health coverage for LGBTQ individuals and their families, including organizing and leading the effort to ensure access to health insurance coverage for transgender-related medical care.

Special Recognition: Marriage Champions
MassEquality formed in 2002 as a coalition of local and national LGBTQ organizations working to promote marriage equality in the Commonwealth. After the historic Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health court decision in 2003 declared that same-sex couples could not be denied civil marriage rights in Massachusetts, MassEquality and its partners worked until 2007 to keep the decision off the ballot. By securing support from a supermajority of State House lawmakers – an incredible 151 of 200 – to keep an anti-marriage amendment to the state constitution off the ballot on June 14, 2007, MassEquality and its partners succeeded in preserving Massachusetts’ leadership as the first freedom-to-marry state, ensuring marriage equality for generations to come and catalyzing marriage equality victories in dozens of other states across the U.S. as well as the demise of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The 2014 Icon Awards will bring together and salute many of the people who were most influential in the campaign to preserve equal marriage in Massachusetts from 2002 - 2007. This coalition of campaign workers, legislators, advocates and opinion-leaders formed the foundation for MassEquality — and changed the world as we knew it.

CLICK HERE for more information on the MassEquality ICON event.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wants rainbow flag taken down

Posted by David Zimmerman February 7, 2014 03:27 PM

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(AP)


Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wants the rainbow flag flying at the city’s City Hall taken down.

The flag, flying at many city halls across Canada is there as a show of support to gay athletes competing in the Olympics currently taking place in Sochi Russia. “It’s not about someone’s sexual preference,” Ford said. “I do not agree with putting up the rainbow flag. We should put our Canadian flag up.”

When told the gesture was meant to protest anti-gay laws in Russia, Ford replied: "Let Russia do what they want. We're Canadians here.''

Other elected officials in Toronto have come down on both sides of the issue. Councillor Sarah Doucette said she doesn't agree with Ford's position as there are already Canadian flags flying at city hall. "If he's not prepared to change then I don't think he should be mayor," she said.

While Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong said an Olympic or Canadian flag should be raised instead. "This should be about sport and about Canadians," he said. Ford is no stranger to controversy with the LGBT community. He has routinely skipped Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade and plans to skip it again this year too.

"I'm not going to go to the Pride parade," he said recently. "I've never gone to a Pride parade. So I'm not going to change the way I am."

To see all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

Human rights groups urge Olympic corporate sponsors to speak out against Russia's policies

Posted by David Zimmerman February 3, 2014 11:43 AM

Corporate sponsors of the Sochi Winter Olympics should act now to urge Russia to halt the rising tide of discrimination, harassment and threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, 40 of the world’s leading human rights and LGBT groups said today, in a joint open letter.

The letter to all of the leading sponsors of the Sochi Olympics asks them to use their leverage as underwriters of the 2014 Winter Games in a variety of concrete ways. The groups urged sponsors to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, which violates the Olympic Charter’s principle of non-discrimination, and to ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to undertake systemic reforms to monitor and prevent human rights abuses in future host countries.

“Time is running out for the sponsors to take a clear stand in defense of Olympic values,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “These companies are sponsoring an Olympics marred by ugly discrimination and serious rights abuses. They should speak out forcefully for equality and human rights.”

The joint letter is addressed to the 10 TOP Sponsors of the Sochi Games (members of “The Olympic Partner” (TOP) Program)--Atos, Coca Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa. The Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch and several other groups have engaged with the sponsors for nearly a year to urge them to act on abuses.

“Corporate sponsors are failing to stand up for Olympic values, which they proudly claim to be the core of the Olympic brand,” said Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of All Out. "The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that the Olympic Charter’s Principle 6 includes protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. While the Russian government may be considering amendments to the anti-gay laws, sponsors still don’t have a good reason to remain silent way while gays and lesbians in Russia suffer.”

The letter was signed by a wide range of international human rights organizations, including All Out, Amnesty International, Athlete Ally, Freedom House, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, PEN and the Russian LGBT Network.

The complete list can be found at the bottom of the letter.

The groups call on the Olympic sponsors to take four specific actions:

*Individually and/or collectively, condemn Russia’s anti-LGBT “propaganda” law, which clearly violates the Sixth Fundamental Principle of the Olympic Charter (“Any form of discrimination… is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement”);

*Use their Olympics-related marketing and advertising – both domestically and internationally – to promote equality;

* Ask the International Olympic Committee to create a body or other mechanism to prevent serious Olympics-related human rights abuses in host countries and to monitor those that do occur; and

* Urge the IOC to ensure that future Olympic host countries comply with their commitment to uphold the Olympic Charter, including the principles of non-discrimination and media freedom.

“Corporations with a track record of support for equality should not shy away from their espoused values by staying silent as Russia wages an attack on its LGBT community,” said Ty Cobb, director of global engagement for the Human Rights Campaign. “In just a few days Russia will be trying to present an international image of a strong, vibrant country. Corporate sponsors must condemn Russia’s anti-gay law and not advance President Putin’s pageantry.”

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

More LGBT young adults facing homelessness

Posted by Jim Lopata January 31, 2014 12:42 PM

Happy 18th Birthday! You’re Now Homeless!

Disproportionately affecting hundreds of LGBTs, out-of-date government policies are placing young adults out on the streets when they turn legal

by James Lopata

Note: This story first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.

When Jeremy turned 18, his foster parents had to kick him out.

They didn’t want to.

But the government assistance that the foster family relied on to provide for him ceased to arrive. There was a mortgage to pay. And, much as Jeremy wanted to pay rent, he could only cover so much.

So Jeremy found himself “couch-surfing”—the colloquial term for young adults who have no permanent roofs over their heads.

Jeremy is not alone. There are an estimated 700 children who “age out” of the system in Massachusetts each year—not to mention approximately 40 who age out nationally every day.

It’s a disturbing national trend that is getting worse. Job opportunities for young adults are disappearing and young people who grow up in traditional homes are having to remain under their parents’ roofs for many years past the formerly ubiquitous maturation age of 21. Consider that the average age that children stay in their childhood homes is estimated to be anywhere between 22 and 30 years old.

In official parlance, it’s known as “aging out.” The word “out” in the label, aptly describes a problem that includes an estimated 20 to 40 percent who identify as LGBT, compared to just 6 to 8 percent estimated LGBT youth in the mainstream population.

Jeremy.jpgJeremy

Jeremy, who preferred to keep his last name off the record, was put into the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Family (D.C.F.) when he was three, due to his mother’s drug use and her inability to care for him. At age five, he was moved to his grandmother’s to be raised—only to be kicked out at 15 when his devoutly Christian grandma took issue with his newly declared homosexual orientation.

FULL ENTRY

St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers reject application from MassEquality

Posted by David Zimmerman January 31, 2014 08:28 AM

On Wednesday, organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston left an after-hours voicemail rejecting MassEquality’s application to participate in the 2014 parade. In doing so, organizers cited the 1995 US Supreme Court decision in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, which held that parade organizers are legally able to exclude openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people from participating.

Parade organizers were quoted today in a Boston Globe article (“Group claims win in breaking parade ban on gays”) clarifying that their acceptance of an application by the South Boston Association of Non-Profits (SBANP) does not signal a change of their long-standing policy of exclusion (Click here to read the story):

"We don’t know who’s gay in the parade, and we don’t ban gay people. We ban gay
demonstrations, people that are sending out the wrong messages, messages that we don’t agree with.”

The SBANP was explicit in its application about its intention to include LGBTQ individuals in its marching contingent.

MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini issued the following statement in response:

“Since when does being open and proud of being an LGBTQ person in the City of Boston send the ‘wrong message’? It’s stunning that in 2014 a high-profile cultural institution like the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade would force LGBTQ people to retreat back into the closet in order to participate. This is just another version of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’

"While the LGBTQ community in Massachusetts faces many issues more urgent than the ability to participate openly in a parade – youth homelessness, bullying, anti-transgender discrimination, HIV/AIDS, elder abuse, and more – this kind of public rejection perpetuates a hostile climate that enables the community’s more life-threatening challenges to thrive.

“Rejection by their families is why 57% of transgender people attempt suicide and why up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. According to the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, rejection by fellow students is why LGBTQ students are twice as likely to skip school and four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. Rejection is also why the mere fact of being an openly LGBTQ person results in higher stress and poorer health.”

“We appreciate the efforts of the South Boston Association of Non-Profits and of Boston’s elected and community leaders who partner with the LGBTQ community to reverse these shocking statistics. Together, we will continue to improve lives by working for the day when openly LGBTQ people are included in all aspects of civil and social life.”

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Sochi Mayor on gays "We do not have them in our city"

Posted by David Zimmerman January 27, 2014 02:01 PM

According to Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of 2014 Winter Olympics host-city Sochi, there are no gay people in his city.

In an interview with the BBC Pakhomov was asked how gay visitors would be treated in Sochi. He replied, “Our hospitality will be extended to everyone who respects the laws of the Russian Federation and doesn’t impose their habits on others.”

But when asked whether gay people had to hide their sexuality in Sochi, the Mayor said: “No, we just say that it is your business, it’s your life. But it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city.”

When asked to confirm that statement (regarding having no gay people in Sochi), Pakhomov said “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”

At another point in the story, filed by BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney, Sweeney recounts going to a gay bar in Sochi and being told by people in the bar that there are, in fact, two gay bars in Sochi. .

Opposition party leader Boris Nemtsov later confirmed this claim while, at the same time, seemingly rebutting Pakhomov’s claim.

“As far as I know there are several gay clubs in Sochi,” he said. “How do they survive? Why they are not bankrupt?”

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

Report Tracks Pres. Obama’s Use of ‘Gay’

Posted by David Zimmerman January 24, 2014 08:10 AM

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(HRC)


A new HRC report shows that President Obama’s unprecedented usage of words including “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual” and “transgender” in his public statements is contributing immensely to the political mainstreaming of LGBT people and marriage equality within American society. The report, which also examines the public statements of former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, found that President Obama has used the word “gay” more than any of his predecessors – 272 times. The report shows that during President Obama’s time in office, support for marriage equality has exploded from 40 percent in 2008 to 53 percent in 2013.

“Words matter an enormous amount, and when President Obama uses his platform to declare that LGBT people are just as American as anyone else, it has a huge and historic effect. President Obama has helped the American people get to know LGBT people on a personal level, and evidence suggests that when people know us, they don’t want to discriminate against us,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “President Obama has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of LGBT people, and the power of his rhetoric has been an essential part of that legacy.”

Key findings from the report include:

Throughout his time in the White House, President Obama has said the word “gay” in a public speech, statement or proclamation at least 272 times.

President Obama has used the word “transgender” at least 33 times in speeches, statements and proclamations. He’s used the word “bisexual” at least 28 times, and “lesbian” at least 88 times.

On the 2012 campaign trail, Obama used the word “gay” 62 times at rallies and fundraisers. Mitt Romney spoke about marriage equality onlyonce, and it was in the context of excluding loving, committed same-sex couples from marriage.

In his two terms in the White House, President Clinton used the word “gay” 216 times in public speeches, statements or proclamations, of which 46 instances were regarding gays in the military and 80 instances were regarding Matthew Shepard or hate crime legislation.

President Obama has consistently emphasized that rights and the pursuit of success should not be denied to anyone based on whom they love.

Since President Obama has been in office, the percentage of Americans who support marriage equality has risen from 40 percent in 2008 to 53 percent in 2013, according to Gallup polling.

Immediately following President Obama’s 2012 endorsement of same-sex marriage, the number of African-Americans who supported marriage equality skyrocketed to 59 percent, up from an average of 41 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The rising tide of public support for marriage equality has been reflected in opinion shifts by prominent GOP lawmakers as well. Republican Sens. Rob Portman, Mark Kirk and Lisa Murkowski have all endorsed marriage equality. And in February 2013, more than 150 Republicans signed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit striking down Proposition 8.

“When an elected official uses his or her platform to send a message of dignity and respect, Americans respond,” said Griffin. “We hope that the growing momentum for equality will ensure future presidents – regardless of their party affiliation – continue this trend.”


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world check out Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Senator Patrick Leahy to "explore" tying foreign aid to human rights

Posted by David Zimmerman January 23, 2014 09:13 PM


Speaking yesterday at the 2014 World Economic Summit being held in Switzerland, Senator Patrick Leahy suggested that the U.S. might need to take a closer look at the way countries treat LGBT citizens before approving forieng aid packages.

Leahy was speaking as part of a panel discussion taking place at the Forum.

The discussion was moderated by CNN and Time Magazine contributor Fareed Zakaria and included J-FLAG Executive Director Dane Lewis, Russian and American journalist Marsha Gessen, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, Elliott Management Corporation founder Paul Singer, Third Point founder Dan Loeband Alice Nkom, a lawyer and LGBT activist from Cameroon.

"I think that we have to explore our foreign policy with countries that have these horrible laws," said Leahy. "As one who handles the foreign aid in our Senate, this is going to become increasingly on my radar of how we look at foreign aid in countries that violate human rights this way," he continued

The event has attacted some of the most well known and influential business and political leaders from around the world, including University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent and Peter Bakker of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Putin warns LGBT visitors "leave the children in peace"

Posted by David Zimmerman January 17, 2014 03:28 PM

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(AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, while trying to ease fears among LGBT participants and visitors to the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, stated today that “We aren’t banning anything, we aren’t rounding up anyone, we have no criminal punishment for such relations unlike many other countries.” Putin went to say that the law in place bans “propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors” and added that while gay visitors are welcome in Sochi they must “leave the children in peace.”

International condemnation on Russia’s anti-gay policy has been wide spread including a demonstration outside the set of the Today Show this morning. A group calling itself Queer Nation staged the protest aimed at NBC, the broadcast partner of the Olympics.

“NBC and Matt Lauer will have remarkable access to Vladimir Putin and the Russian LGBT community,” said Ken Kidd, one of the Queer Nation protesters. “Along with that comes the responsibility to report the real news. We are putting NBC on notice: Making Sochi a two-week travelogue infomercial for Putin would turn NBC into his media collaborators.”

Craig Robinson, NBC Universal’s executive vice president and chief diversity officer, on Thursday sent a memo to all (out) gay and lesbian employees stating that the company “will do everything possible to protect the rights, safety and well-being of our employees.”

He went on to say “The spirit of the Olympic Games is about unifying people and countries through the celebration of sport and it is our very strong hope that spirit prevails. Until then, we have and will continue to cover these human rights violations on our broadcast and cable news networks as the story continues to evolve.”

President Obama has also weighed in on the law in Russia stating he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgendered persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.” In another clear response to the anti-gay law Obama is sending former tennis star Billie Jean King, who is openly gay, to serve on the U.S. delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies at the games. (Openly gay hockey player Caitlin Cahow will also serve on the delegation)

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

U.S. District Judge Rules Oklahoma Ban on Marriage Equality Unconstitutional

Posted by David Zimmerman January 14, 2014 05:26 PM

Today U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. His ruling is stayed pending appeal, meaning marriages will not occur immediately in the Sooner State. Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:

“Judge Kern has come to the conclusion that so many have before him – that the fundamental equality of lesbian and gay couples is guaranteed by the United States Constitution. With last year’s historic victories at the Supreme Court guiding the way, it is clear that we are on a path to full and equal citizenship for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Equality is not just for the coasts anymore, and today’s news from Oklahoma shows that time has come for fairness and dignity to reach every American in all 50 states.”

Two plaintiff couples, Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, filed their case, Bishop v. Oklahoma, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma in November 2004. Lead counsel in the case are Don Holladay and James Warner of the Oklahoma City law firm Holladay & Chilton PLLC.

The ruling comes on the heels of a year-long string of electoral, judicial and legislative victories for marriage equality. In recent weeks both the New Mexico Supreme Court and a federal district judge in Utah have ruled in favor of marriage for lesbian and gay couples.

(Former) Boston Mayor Menino recommends ...

Posted by Jim Lopata January 13, 2014 10:22 AM

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Local fashion and style maven Ricardo Rodriquez gets the scoop on Boston’s favorite former mayor’s favorites — book, breakfast place, underwear(!), and more!

Mayor Menino is not only the longest sitting mayor in the history of Boston but undoubtedly the most appreciated and beloved. He has made sure that during his tenure everyone from every walk of life was represented, respected and welcomed.

As we all know, the time has come for him to move along in his life journey. I find myself (along with my husband Michael) very fortunate to count him and Angela as friends. And I know that most people in the city feel the same way. Strike up a conversation with anyone at a coffee shop, cocktail party or park and it becomes clear that there are not many people that he hasn’t met, helped, shook hands with or had a conversation with.

Despite how much we already know about his extremely high profile public life we still want more juicy details. Just a little bit more. And this is where I come in…

I have taken the liberty of putting the Mayor in the hot seat (okay, not so hot, maybe warm) and asked him some questions, some personal and some too personal.

I wanted this to be a chance for all of us to get to know a little bit more about the man. So, thank you Mister Mayor for your candor and for a job incredibly well done!

Chocolate or vanilla?

FULL ENTRY

U.S. Supreme Court halts same-sex marriages in Utah

Posted by David Zimmerman January 6, 2014 04:32 PM

The Supreme Court on Monday put same-sex marriages on hold in Utah, at least while a federal appeals court more fully considers the issue.

The order grants an emergency appeal by the state following the Dec. 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates gay and lesbian couples’ constitutional rights.

More than 900 gay and lesbian couples have married since then.

The high court order will remain in effect until the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to uphold Shelby’s ruling.

The state’s request to the Supreme Court was filed with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency appeals from Utah and the five other states in the 10th Circuit. Sotomayor turned the matter over to the entire court.

The action now shifts to Denver, where the appeals court will consider arguments from the state against same-sex marriage as well as from the three gay and lesbian couples who challenged the ban in support of Shelby’s ruling. Shelby and the appeals court had previously rebuffed the state’s plea to stop gay weddings pending appeal.

The 10th Circuit has set short deadlines for both sides to file their written arguments, with the state’s first brief due on January 27. No date for argument has been set yet.

James Magleby, a lawyer for couples who sued to overturn the ban, said that while the halt to same-sex marriages is temporary – assuming the appeals court does not reverse Shelby’s ruling – it is disappointing because it leaves Utah families waiting to marry until the appeal is over.

“Every day that goes by, same-sex couples and their children are being harmed by not being able to marry and be treated equally,” Magleby said in a statement that also proclaimed confidence in his side’s case before the appellate judges.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world check out Boston Spirit's Fab 5

Clay Aiken exploring a run for Congress

Posted by David Zimmerman January 3, 2014 11:29 AM

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(AP)

According to an article in the Washington Blade, former American Idol runner up Clay Aiken is considering running for Congress. Aiken is exploring running for the seat currently held by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) representing North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district.

Aiken, who came out as gay in 2008 after years of rumors, has been active in politics in the past especially regarding North Carolina’s Amendment One which defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

"The polls in North Carolina show that over 60 percent of North Carolinians actually support some recognition for same-sex couples, be it civil unions or domestic partnerships," Aiken said. "As North Carolinians see what it's done, and what it will do, I think they will support the fact that President Obama did speak out on principle... I think we'd like to see politicians speak out on principle a little bit more."

According to the article Aiken has “made phone calls to gauge support, talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and has met with figures in Raleigh, N.C., about a potential bid.”

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit Magazine at www.bostonspiritmagazine.com

Former NFL punter says he was fired for supporting marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman January 2, 2014 06:50 PM


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(Minnesota Vikings)

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, best known for his support and activism on behalf of marriage equality, is speaking out against his for former NFL coaches. In an article Kluwe has written for the website Deadspin he has alleged that, among other things, his former Special Teams coach Mike Priefer stated in a meeting that "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."

Kluwe punted for the Vikings for 8 seasons prior to getting cut from the team before to the current season. He was then picked up by the Oakland Raiders cut shortly thereafter. In the article Kluwe states that “I honestly don't know if my activism was the reason I got fired. However, I'm pretty confident it was.”

In explaining his history with the marriage equality movement Kluwe writes about first being approached during the summer of 2012 by the Minnesotans for Marriage Equality group. The group asked Kluwe if he would help them defeat the Minnesota Gay Marriage Amendment, which defined marriage as between a man and woman.

“After talking to the Vikings legal department, I was given the go-ahead to speak on the issue as long as I made it clear I was acting as a private citizen, not as a spokesman for the Vikings, which I felt was fair and complied with. I did several radio advertisements and a dinner appearance for Minnesotans for Marriage Equality,” writes Kluwe.

A few months later, in September 2012, Kluwe writes that he was called into Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frasier’s office and told that he "needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff."

The bulk of Kluwe’s wrath is directed at his position coach, Mike Priefer. Throughout the article Kluwe recounts instance of homophobic language being used by Priefer including the “nuke it until it glows” statement referenced above, and Priefer stating that Kluwe “would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible.”

So why is Kluwe writing the article now? He answers that question very clearly;

“If there's one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it's to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level. It's inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else. I also hope that Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman (the Vikings General Manager) take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are the people they truly profess themselves to be.”

Kluwe closes out the article by writing;

“Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Never be afraid to do what's right. If no one ever says anything, nothing ever changes. —Chris Kluwe, former NFL player


UPDATE -- Mike Priefer has issued a statement denying Chris Kluwe's allegations. The full text of the statement is below.

I vehemently deny today's allegations made by Chris Kluwe.

I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.

The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way. As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field.

The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children.

I will continue to work hard for the Minnesota Vikings, the Wilf family and all of our loyal fans.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit magazine at www.Bostonspiritmagazine.com

Boy Scouts of America begin allowing openly gay scouts

Posted by David Zimmerman January 2, 2014 10:42 AM


As of yesterday (Jan 1) the Boy Scouts of America began allowing openly gay scouts for the very first time. The BSA, which had resisted the change for several years, has been losing a substantial number of corporate sponsors recently over its exclusionary policy. Most recently Lockheed Martin decided to stop its donations to the group due to the anti-gay policy.

Openly gay adults are still banned from serving as Scout leaders.

"We're pleased that the overwhelming majority of our members, families and chartered organizations remain committed to the Boy Scouts of America," said Deron Smith, spokesman for the BSA.

In anticipation of the change the BSA has set up a new set of guidelines regarding privacy as it relates to showering, dressing and sleeping arrangements. For example, “The adult leaders have the discretion to arrange private showering times and locations,” the BSA says. And, regarding sleeping arrangements, “If a Scout or parent of a Scout makes a request to not tent with another Scout, their wishes should be honored.”

The organization is also about to install Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as it’s new President. Gates, who served as Secretary under President Obama, was supportive of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’.

"We see the installment of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates as the BSA's next president as another reason to be optimistic about the future of Scouting," said Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality.

"We know that change won't happen overnight, and we're ready to do the work," Wahls continued.

India's Supreme Court declares gay sex illegal

Posted by David Zimmerman December 11, 2013 08:16 AM

In a major setback to India’s gay community the High Court there has once again ruled that homosexual sex is illegal.

The ruling, which was delivered today, overturns a lower court ruling from four years ago which decriminalized gay sex. Section 377 is the law, from India’s Colonial-era days, that bans people from engaging in "carnal acts against the order of nature."

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that the penal code was constitutionally valid.
It was up to parliament, the court said, to decide whether or not to keep the law in the statute books.

International reaction has been swift with Amnesty International India calling Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling "a black day of freedom in India. It is hard not to feel let down by this judgment, which has taken India back several years in its commitment to protect basic rights," the group said.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch called on the Indian government to take steps to scrap Section 377. "The Supreme Court's ruling is a disappointing setback to human dignity, and the basic rights to privacy and non-discrimination," the group said in a statement. "But now the government should do what it should have done in the first place and seek to repeal section 377."


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world check out Boston Spirit magazine's Fab 5

Israeli President Peres supports marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman December 4, 2013 08:45 AM

Shimon-Peres.jpg
(AP)

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

New Jersey Supreme Court issues unanimous decision against Chris Christie

Posted by David Zimmerman October 18, 2013 03:50 PM

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.

Club Café, Boston's gay social hub, turns 30

Posted by Jim Lopata October 11, 2013 10:01 AM

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Club Café New Year's Eve celebration 2000 (photo: courtesy Club Café)

This weekend, Club Café celebrates its 30th birthday, when co-founder and owner Frank Ribaudo marries his longtime partner; big party!

The following story was originally published in the September/October 2013 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.

The Beat Goes On

Club Café celebrates 30 years as the heart of Boston’s LGBT scene

by Scott Kearnan

Club Café founder Frank Ribaudo will never forget his anniversary. Either of them.
On October 13, Ribaudo will marry his longtime partner Joe Posa. They’ll celebrate their reception, which after certain hours will be open to the whole community, at Club Café. That’s because their wedding coincides with a second reason to celebrate. October marks the 30th anniversary of Club Café, which has become iconic in New England’s gay scene. For one generation, it has been a community center: a comfortable second home filled with old friends. For another, it’s a party palace: where stepping inside, grabbing your first drink, and scoring your first date has become a veritable rite of passage. And Club Café shows no sign of slowing down.

“2013 has been a banner year for us,” says Ribaudo joyfully. In a more accepting world, where it’s harder and harder to keep gay establishments afloat, Club Café is enjoying some of its best business.

But that success wasn’t always a sure thing, and Ribaudo admits that early on he never would have believed that Club Café could wind up a decades-spanning landmark in New England’s LGBT culture. “To be honest, for the first five years all I thought about was how to keep from going bankrupt,” says Ribaudo. “I don’t think we made a dime.”
That’s because 30 years ago, everything about Club Café was a calculated risk: from its willingness to challenge a bullying nearby business to its wide wall of windows that, in a brazen move at the time, planted a highly visible gay establishment right on the Boston streetscape.

Here’s the story of how it stayed there.

FULL ENTRY

Russian athletes pose for NOH8 campaign

Posted by David Zimmerman October 8, 2013 09:00 AM

russianno8.jpg
(Adam Bouska)

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.”

Pennsylvania Governor compares same-sex marriage to "brother and sister" marrying

Posted by David Zimmerman October 4, 2013 11:49 AM

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 to honor Jennifer Lopez

Posted by David Zimmerman October 1, 2013 01:35 PM


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.

Barilla Pasta's anti-LGBT stance prompts resonse

Posted by David Zimmerman September 30, 2013 08:54 AM

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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.

Former President George H.W. Bush serves as witness at same-sex wedding in Maine

Posted by David Zimmerman September 26, 2013 09:11 AM

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(Courtesy of Helen Thorgalsen and Bonnie Clement)


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.”

Congressional candidate Carl Sciortino 'comes out' to his dad in a new commercial

Posted by David Zimmerman September 17, 2013 07:07 PM

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."


MassResistance launches anti-HRC campaign

Posted by David Zimmerman September 4, 2013 11:01 AM

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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!

HRC Calls on Olympic Sponsors to Condemn Anti-LGBT Law in Russia, Advocate for Equality Worldwide

Posted by David Zimmerman August 30, 2013 04:06 PM

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.

Former Intern who helped save Gabby Giffords facing anti-gay recall campaign

Posted by David Zimmerman August 27, 2013 10:19 AM

hernandez.jpg(Right Wing Watch)


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.

2013 Miss Universe pageant to remain in Russia despite LGBT protests

Posted by David Zimmerman August 21, 2013 12:46 PM


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?

Posted by David Zimmerman August 16, 2013 01:51 PM

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

Local law firm to address a post-DOMA world

Posted by David Zimmerman August 8, 2013 01:55 PM

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
Where: Online
Cost: Free
Registration & Information: http://www.mintz.com/Post-DOMA-Webinar

Sen. Warren calls ban on gay men's blood donations 'contrary to science,' seeks action

Posted by Jim Lopata August 2, 2013 03:22 PM

Sen. Elizabeth Warren today called on the federal government to reevaluate its ban on the donation of blood from gay men, calling the policy, "contrary to science," according to a statement released from her office.

Warren was prompted to act when a constituent contacted her office saying that he had been denied the ability to donate blood in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Warren sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that was signed by Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, requesting more information about the policy. Among those who signed the letter are U.S. Senator Edward Markey and Representatives Jim McGovern, John Tierney and Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts.

"For me, this has been a basic issue of fairness and of science — blood donation policies should be grounded in science, not ugly and inaccurate stereotypes," Senator Warren said. "When a Massachusetts man told me he wanted to donate blood during the bombings but couldn't because of his sexual orientation, I dug deeper into this discriminatory ban and I didn't like what I found. Current policies are contrary to science. They promote discrimination and don't make the system any safer. It's long past time for HHS to make blood donation policies fairer and more effective."

Below is more from the press release:


FULL ENTRY

How Rhode Island—Finally!—Got Marriage Equality

Posted by Jim Lopata August 1, 2013 08:51 AM

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Rhode Island state Rep. Frank Ferri with his partner. (photo: courtesy Frank Ferri)

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 Senate candidate Gomez joins gay Republican org's board

Posted by Jim Lopata July 30, 2013 02:26 PM

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."

Desmond Tutu would choose hell over a homophobic heaven

Posted by David Zimmerman July 27, 2013 09:14 AM

tutu.jpg
(Desmondtutu.org)

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.

Mayoral candidate Ross courts LGBT leaders in Provincetown

Posted by David Zimmerman July 26, 2013 10:09 AM

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.

Queen Elizabeth signs off on marriage equality law

Posted by David Zimmerman July 17, 2013 10:51 AM

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.

LGBT seniors' hearing at Boston City Council next week

Posted by Jim Lopata July 11, 2013 07:50 AM

Boston City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing "to support Boston's growing senior LGBT community" on Tuesday, July 16.

City Councilor (and mayoral candidate) Michael P. Ross called the hearing.

In Ross's order, he notes that many LGBT seniors, "Now, having entered later years of their life, many are entering into assisted living or nursing home facilities … As a result, many LGBT elders find themselves reverting to hiding their sexuality from their peers."

The LGBT Aging Project, a Massachusetts-based organization that advocates for LGBT seniors, is calling on local LGBT seniors and their friends to "fill the chamber" next Tuesday.

Mike Ross's order is below.

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President Obama talks gay rights to Africa

Posted by Jim Lopata June 27, 2013 04:19 PM

At a press conference in Senegal, U.S. President Barack Obama took the occasion of the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down DOMA to give his thoughts to Africa about issues of gay and lesbian rights.

At the Presidential Palace in Dakar, with Senegal President Sall at his side, Obama said, "The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they're treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa." Obama made it clear that he believed "everybody has to be treated equally."

Here is the relevant passage from Obama's remarks, which were released by the White House Office of the Press Secretary:

Now, this topic did not come up in the conversation that I had with President Sall in a bilateral meeting. But let me just make a general statement. The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they're treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa. So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions. And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.

But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort.

That’s my personal view. And I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens.

So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you -- the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law -- people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.

Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule -- treat people the way you want to be treated. And I think that applies here as well.

Kansas Rep to introduce constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage

Posted by David Zimmerman June 27, 2013 10:34 AM


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

Posted by David Zimmerman June 26, 2013 05:08 PM

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.


Gay candidate seeks Markey's Congressional seat

Posted by Jim Lopata June 26, 2013 04:16 PM

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Carl Sciortino (photo: Courtesy Sciortino for Congress)

Now that Edward Markey has won the U.S. Senate seat for Massachusetts, openly gay Massachusetts state Rep. Carl Sciortino is officially announcing his intention to fill Markey's former Congressional seat.

Sciortino launched his campaign to represent the 5th Congressional District on the steps of the Massachusetts Statehouse today.

Here's from the press release from his campaign:

“This race is not going to be about who is the woman’s candidate or the gay candidate or the law and order candidate,” said Sciortino. ... “It’s going to be about who is the progressive Democratic leader who has always been there and always will be there to fight for progressive values.”

Sciortino continued, “As Governor Patrick said last year, we need Democrats with backbone. From my very first campaign, through my legislative accomplishments, I have maintained the view that the toughest challenges have to be met head on. I’m the only candidate for Congress in this race who enthusiastically supported Governor Patrick’s effort to make generational investments in transportation and education, to create jobs and move our economy forward.”

Sciortino also contrasted himself with the other candidates in the race.

“I’m the only candidate who has stood up for workers rights, veterans rights, immigrants rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, LGBT rights and privacy rights every day I’ve served in this state legislature. No other candidate in this race can say that.”

Sciortino, who coincidentally launched his campaign on the same day as the Supreme Court handed down decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act, also addressed the rulings.

“When I first ran for State Representative in 2004, I couldn’t have imagined how much progress we would make on marriage equality in nine short years. We are headed to the day to all couples have the right to marry whoever they love in any state in the country. But we are not there yet. Today is a great step forward for the thousands of couples living in states with marriage equality, and I’m so proud of Massachusetts for being a leader for equal rights. We must keep working until there is true marriage equality in every state.”

Carl Sciortino represents the 34th Middlesex District in the Massachusetts House, which includes parts of Medford and Somerville. He is the author of the Buffer Zone Bill, The Transgender Equal Rights bill, and fought to close corporate tax loopholes in Massachusetts. A Tufts alumnus, he resides in Medford with his partner, Pem.

Supreme Court to decide landmark lgbt cases tomorrow

Posted by David Zimmerman June 25, 2013 02:00 PM

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.

Justice Scalia, decision on same-sex marriage should not be made by "unelected judges"

Posted by David Zimmerman June 24, 2013 01:27 PM

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.

Murkowski becomes third Republican Senator to support marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman June 19, 2013 02:50 PM

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."

Gay Boston native Rufus Gifford nominated for U.S. Ambassador to Denmark

Posted by David Zimmerman June 17, 2013 11:17 AM

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.

Mayor in France will "go to the gallows" before officiating a same sex marriage

Posted by David Zimmerman June 14, 2013 12:25 PM

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
same-sex marriage.

“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.”

Obama nominates out, gay Daniel Baer as an ambassador

Posted by Jim Lopata June 10, 2013 06:20 PM

President Obama nominated Daniel Baer to be the next Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

If Baer is confirmed, he would be the "4th openly-LGBT person to serve as a U.S. Ambassador abroad, and the first to a multilateral institution," according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT advocacy organization.

Baer is the current Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He is a Colorado native who received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College.

“Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer has led a distinguished career of public service, both at home and abroad,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. “Over the last few years at the Department of State, Daniel has worked tirelessly to promote democracy and human rights in every corner of the globe, helping to secure and protect the freedoms of the world’s most vulnerable communities. This, paired with his years of global business experience, makes him an outstanding choice to be our nation’s next Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.”

President Obama proclaims June as LGBT Pride Month

Posted by David Zimmerman June 4, 2013 09:05 AM


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 kicks off at noon on Friday at City Hall with Mayor Menino

Posted by Jim Lopata May 29, 2013 08:06 PM

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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.

Royal Pageant
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.

Delaware becomes 11th state to legalize same-sex marriages

Posted by David Zimmerman May 8, 2013 10:05 AM

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.


With Rhode Island complete, where is next in line for marriage equality?

Posted by David Zimmerman May 6, 2013 09:18 AM


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:

Delaware

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.

Illinois

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

Minnesota

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.

New Jersey

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.

Oregon

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.

Nevada

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.

GOP opposes provision for same-sex partners in immigration reform bill

Posted by David Zimmerman May 2, 2013 12:04 PM

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 Chafee to sign Marriage Equality Act today

Posted by David Zimmerman May 2, 2013 09:03 AM


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.”

San Francisco Pride committee backtracks on WikiLeaks suspect Manning as Grand Marshal

Posted by David Zimmerman April 27, 2013 09:24 AM


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.

Congress asked to protect LGBT workers — again

Posted by Jim Lopata April 25, 2013 06:14 PM

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?

Nope.

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

Rhode Island Senate votes in favor of marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman April 24, 2013 05:58 PM

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.

Rhode Island Senate committee approves marriage equality bill, sends it to full Senate for vote

Posted by David Zimmerman April 23, 2013 05:31 PM

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.

France approves gay marriages

Posted by Jim Lopata April 23, 2013 12:09 PM

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.

R.I. Senate Republicans unanimously support marriage equality, according to AP

Posted by Jim Lopata April 23, 2013 11:51 AM

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.

Clinton accepts GLAAD award

Posted by David Zimmerman April 22, 2013 11:22 AM

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(Photo: GLAAD)


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."


Ireland's Constitutional Convention votes for marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman April 16, 2013 09:31 AM

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."

Massachusetts LGBT Elder Commission called for on Beacon Hill

Posted by Jim Lopata April 9, 2013 11:05 AM

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.

MassEquality and the LGBT Aging Project are the leaders in this discussion. Here's from their joint press release:

FULL ENTRY

Santorum: Political "suicide" for Republicans to support marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman April 9, 2013 08:50 AM


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.”

Former Balitmore Raven says a "handful" of current NFL players will come out soon

Posted by David Zimmerman April 5, 2013 10:26 AM

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.”

Vikings Punter to gay players, "You are not a distraction"

Posted by David Zimmerman April 4, 2013 09:38 AM

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(Photo: Minnesota Vikings)


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?

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.


Actor Jeremy Irons on marriage equality, 'Could a father marry his son?'

Posted by David Zimmerman April 4, 2013 08:38 AM

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In a recent interview with Huffington Post Jeremy Irons, who won an academy award for his role in Reversal of Fortune, opined that legalized marriage equality could lead to a father and son getting married.

"Could a father not marry his son?" Irons asked Huffington Post’s Josh Zepps. “It’s not incest between men" because "incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don't breed," he continued.

Irons went on to state, "It seems to me that now they're fighting for the name. I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that." He also discussed whether same-sex marriage might allow fathers to pass on their estates to their sons without being taxed.

Despite all of this, Irons stated several times that he "[doesn't] have a strong feeling either way" on same-sex marriage, and said that he "[wishes] everybody who's living with one other person the best of luck in the world, because it's fantastic."

"Living with another animal, whether it be a husband or a dog, is great," he said. "It's lovely to have someone to love. I don't think sex matters at all. What it's called doesn't matter at all."

It's official, half of the current Senate now supports marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman April 2, 2013 02:31 PM


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 Dolan states that gays are "entitled to friendship"

Posted by David Zimmerman April 2, 2013 11:32 AM


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(Photo: Catholic News Agency)


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."

Is Bill O'Reilly pro marriage equality?

Posted by David Zimmerman March 28, 2013 01:08 PM

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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.

Support for marriage equality hits all time high

Posted by David Zimmerman March 18, 2013 02:39 PM

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.

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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.

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Hillary Clinton voices support for gay marriage

Posted by Jim Lopata March 18, 2013 12:28 PM

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

Undocumented LGBTs to meet with Sen. Elizabeth Warren aide on Friday

Posted by Jim Lopata March 14, 2013 09:13 AM

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:

FULL ENTRY

Clinton urges Supreme Court to overturn DOMA

Posted by David Zimmerman March 8, 2013 11:07 AM


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.


Dahill circulates petition to allow lesbian and gay groups to march in Southie St. Patrick's parade

Posted by David Zimmerman March 7, 2013 11:52 AM

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(Bay Windows)

(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

Anti-gay group president touts honorary degree from defunct university, according to HRC

Posted by Jim Lopata March 6, 2013 07:03 PM

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.

White House LGBT liaison to speak in Boston

Posted by David Zimmerman March 4, 2013 09:29 AM

Gautam.bmp
(White House)

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.

Ellen Degeneres files Supreme Court brief....on Facebook

Posted by David Zimmerman March 2, 2013 08:33 AM

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)

Ellen's letter:

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"

Posted by David Zimmerman March 1, 2013 01:44 PM

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.


Prominent Republicans tell Supreme Court to support gay marriage

Posted by Jim Lopata February 26, 2013 08:40 AM

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.”


Suze Orman: LGBT couples pay more, receive less from government

Posted by David Zimmerman February 25, 2013 03:45 PM

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.


Obama says ‘gay’ a lot

Posted by Jim Lopata February 17, 2013 09:15 AM


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

Illinois Senate passes marriage equality bill

Posted by David Zimmerman February 14, 2013 03:28 PM


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

LGBTs to demonstrate at Sen. Marco Rubio office

Posted by Jim Lopata February 14, 2013 09:53 AM

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.

Fox News uses image of lesbian couple as "traditional couple"

Posted by David Zimmerman February 11, 2013 10:14 AM

fox_couple.jpg
(Huffington Post)

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.”


Carl Sciortino announces run for US Congress

Posted by Jim Lopata February 8, 2013 08:48 PM

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 Obama calls on Boy Scouts to end ban on gays

Posted by David Zimmerman February 4, 2013 09:22 AM

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 at an all-time high

Posted by David Zimmerman February 1, 2013 12:54 PM

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.”

GOP warns against including lgbt couples in immigration reform

Posted by David Zimmerman January 29, 2013 03:51 PM


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."

Canada gets first openly gay province premier

Posted by Jim Lopata January 27, 2013 10:35 PM

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

Rhode Island House approves same sex marriage bill

Posted by David Zimmerman January 24, 2013 09:05 PM

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.

Would Martin Luther King Jr. have supported the gay rights movement?

Posted by David Zimmerman January 20, 2013 08:22 AM

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?’

Writes Monroe:

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.”

Obama chooses pro-lgbt priest to deliver benediction at upcoming inauguration

Posted by David Zimmerman January 16, 2013 08:53 AM

leon.jpg

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

Rhode Island Governor Chafee will not put marriage equality up for public vote

Posted by David Zimmerman January 11, 2013 08:28 AM

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.

Anti-LGBT pastor removed from President Obama's inaugural ceremony

Posted by David Zimmerman January 10, 2013 12:23 PM

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."

Gay Republicans blast Hagel nomination to Secretary of Defense

Posted by David Zimmerman January 7, 2013 01:23 PM

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.

Barney Frank interested in Massachusetts Senate Seat

Posted by David Zimmerman January 4, 2013 09:00 AM


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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.

House GOP willing to spend to defend DOMA

Posted by David Zimmerman January 3, 2013 08:50 AM


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.

Barney Frank on coming out, legalizing marijuana and prostitution, the Supreme Court and the future of LGBT rights

Posted by David Zimmerman December 22, 2012 08:55 AM

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 hasn’t 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.”

Rep. Aiken pushing for lgbt discrimination in the military

Posted by David Zimmerman December 19, 2012 08:56 AM

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.

LGBT millionaires petition Congress for a tax increase

Posted by Jim Lopata December 7, 2012 02:07 PM

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.

Is the Salvation Army anti–LGBT? Yes

Posted by David Zimmerman November 27, 2012 07:31 AM


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.

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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."

National Organization for Marriage sees sharp drop in donations following election night defeats

Posted by David Zimmerman November 17, 2012 08:32 AM


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.

Roman Catholic Church spent $2 million to defeat marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman November 15, 2012 10:43 AM


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.

The National Organization for Marriage responds to election night defeats

Posted by David Zimmerman November 9, 2012 09:37 AM

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.

Recap: A historic night for the nation's LGBT Community

Posted by David Zimmerman November 7, 2012 08:55 AM


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.”


Open letter from Ohio senate candidate's family opposes his LGBT beliefs

Posted by David Zimmerman November 3, 2012 08:01 AM

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

Dear Josh,

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.

Your cousins,

Michael Ratner, Bruce Ratner, Karen Ranucci, Pamela Lipkin, Rebecca
Ratner, Elizabeth Ratner, Patrick Markee, Jacob Ratner, Ana Ratner

Video found of Governor Romney discussing same-sex parents, says "It's not right on paper and it's not right in fact"

Posted by David Zimmerman October 30, 2012 03:20 PM


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.


Obama Endorses Marriage Equality in Washington, Maryland and Maine

Posted by David Zimmerman October 26, 2012 08:55 AM

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.


Portland Press Herald:

"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."


Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"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."


Baltimore Sun:

"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.

Romney in the Des Moines Register:

"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."

American Unity Super PAC commits $500,000 to Tisei campaign

Posted by David Zimmerman October 18, 2012 09:54 AM


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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.”

Ann Coulter tweets "disown your [gay] son day"

Posted by David Zimmerman October 16, 2012 03:28 PM

Conservative media pundit Ann Coulter has tweeted a message in response to last week's National Coming Out Day;

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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.


Bruce Springsteen speaks out for marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman October 3, 2012 12:45 PM

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.

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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.


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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.

Mayor Menino to host fundraiser for Equality Maryland

Posted by David Zimmerman October 1, 2012 01:10 PM

On Wednesday night, October 3rd, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake will be co-hosting an event to support marriage equality in Maryland. The event will take place at Club Café (229 Columbus Ave.) from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

In 2012, The Civil Marriage Protection Act was passed by Maryland's General Assembly and signed by Governor Martin O'Malley. Pending voter approval in November, the law will go into effect on January 1, 2013 and same-sex couples will be able to marry in Maryland.

Maryland is one of four states that will have the issue of marriage equality put to public vote in November. Current polling shows that Maryland, Maine and Washington all show a majority of voters supporting same-sex marriage. Recent polling in Maryland indicated that about 51% over voters in the state support same-sex marriage with approximately 43% opposed. In Washington the numbers are even more impressive with 56% in favor and 38% opposed.

As for our neighbor to the north, citizens in Maine look like they are also poised to legalize same-sex marriage although the numbers are still very close. Current polling numbers show that 52% of Mainers are in favor of legalizing marriage equality with 44% opposed.

The closest race remains in Minnesota with 48% in favor, 47% opposed.

For more information on Wednesday’s event at Club Café CLICK HERE.


Boston Spirit magazine, New England’s Premier lgbt magazine, is published 6 times per year. For a FREE subscription CLICK HERE.

Elizabeth Warren to speak at Human Rights Campaign dinner this weekend

Posted by David Zimmerman September 21, 2012 10:40 AM

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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.”

Chick-fil-A to cease giving money to anti-gay organizations

Posted by David Zimmerman September 19, 2012 10:25 AM

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.”

Romney a wimp? Not so much, say gays who engaged with him as governor

Posted by Jim Lopata September 11, 2012 01:10 PM

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.

FULL ENTRY

Rapper Jay Z supports same-sex marriage, says to those who don’t 'It’s discrimination, plain and simple'

Posted by David Zimmerman September 8, 2012 09:00 AM

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Rapper and media mogul Jay-Z spoke recently about the topic of same-sex marriage and whether or not he thought that President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage will cost him votes in the upcoming election. The rapper was very clear that he is a supporter of same sex marriage as well as the President.

On the topic of same-sex marriage:

I’ve always thought of it as something that is still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business, they can choose to love whoever they love. That’s their business. It’s no different then discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.

Regarding whether or not the President’s views will cost him votes in the upcoming election:

I think it’s the right thing to do, so whether or not it costs him votes … it’s really not about votes, it’s about people. So whether or not it costs him votes, it’s the right thing to do as a human being.

Any chance we can get Jay Z on the phone with Stevie Wonder????

New Report Claims that LGBT Workers in the Public Sector Face High Rates of Discrimination

Posted by David Zimmerman August 30, 2012 01:55 PM


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.”

Young Conservatives Support Marriage Equality

Posted by David Zimmerman August 17, 2012 02:29 PM


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.

Sincerely,

Leadership Committee,
Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry


Comprehensive survey of congressional positions on marriage equality released

Posted by David Zimmerman August 3, 2012 07:01 AM

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 Supports Mayor Menino

Posted by David Zimmerman July 26, 2012 08:25 AM

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.”

Recent Poll Results Show Progress for Marriage Equality

Posted by David Zimmerman July 19, 2012 12:30 PM

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.

President Obama's LGBT Pride Reception and Remarks

Posted by Jim Lopata June 18, 2012 01:04 PM

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.

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.

FULL ENTRY

LGBT Donors Pouring Money into Obama Campaign

Posted by David Zimmerman June 6, 2012 11:30 AM

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.

Memorial Service Scheduled for Robin MacCormick

Posted by David Zimmerman May 29, 2012 12:05 PM


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(Photo: Boston Globe)

"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! Colin Powell, NFL Rookies, a Gay Cricketer, and Target's Gone Gay

Posted by David Zimmerman May 24, 2012 07:52 AM

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.

Moving on....

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

62 Percent of Americans Support Same Sex Unions

Posted by David Zimmerman May 14, 2012 01:53 PM


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.

Local and National Reaction to President Obama's Backing of Same Sex Marriage

Posted by David Zimmerman May 9, 2012 05:35 PM

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

MassEquality:

“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:

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.”


Secretary of State Clinton Discusses LGBT Rights

Posted by David Zimmerman April 25, 2012 08:25 PM

hillary-clinton.jpg


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke recently at Syracuse University. Secretary Clinton spoke on a wide range of topics including human rights in the United States and abroad, specifically targeting women’s rights and those of the LGBT community. In discussing the rights of the lgbt community Clinton highlighted the difficulties in dealing with some African and Middle Eastern nations that refuse to even acknowledge the existence of lgbt citizens.

“[The United States] believes that [countries] should not be discriminating against or permitting violence against the LGBT community. And in many places, in particularly Africa and Asia, that is just a totally foreign concept. I mean, the first response is, “We don’t have any of those here.” (Laughter.) Second response is, “If we did, we would not want to have them and would want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. And it’s your problem, United States of America, that you have so many of those people. So don’t come here and tell us to protect the rights of people we don’t have or that we don’t want.” (Laughter.)

And so, I mean, I call leaders and I say, “You’ve got a legislator who’s just introduced a bill that calls for the death penalty against LGBT people. That’s really a terrible idea.” “Well, we don’t have any of them. They’ve been imported from the West” – (laughter) – “and we don’t need them.” I said, “Well, all right. Let’s start at something very basic. Why do you have to kill them?” (Laughter.) “Well, maybe you’re right about that. We won’t impose the death penalty, but they may have to go to prison.”

Okay, that’s the kind of discussions that you have when you’re talking about human rights. And it’s not that people get up in the morning and say, “I’m against human rights.” It’s that from where they come, on women or LGBT or minority groups, you say, “You don’t treat that minority group very well.” If you’re talking in the Middle East sometimes, “Take better – be nicer to your Shia or your Sunni.” Or, “Please don’t discriminate against your Christians.” It’s a very difficult conversation because it’s just not been one that people have had up until now. I think it’s very important we do that, but I give you this sort of flavor so that you understand we can either have a conversation and try to convince people to move in a certain direction, to provide greater protection for human rights, or we can lecture at them, we can call them names, we can preach, and the lives of the people who are being discriminated against will not change.”

Clinton went on to speak about environmental issues and challenges, the reluctance of young people to get involved in politics, her career as Secretary of State and more. The full transcript of her remarks can be found HERE

About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!
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