Friday, January 30, 2009
A federal judge has denied Prop. 8 supporters’ request for a preliminary injunction to keep anti-gay donors’ names secret.
The Wall Street Journal reports that social issues like gay marriage haven’t played as important of a role in elections lately as they once did.
The Seattle Times editorial board writes that same-sex marriage will take time to pass – but that the time is now for legislators to extend the rights of marriage to same-sex domestic partners “without much fuss” as “a matter of fairness and equality.”
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Stories are circulating that FedEx, recently named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, was dishonest about its domestic partner benefits – they are only extended to a select few employees in California and Dallas, and not offered companywide as claimed. Employees in New York are among those who get left out by this “best” company.
Antonio Pagán, the divisive and often-criticized openly gay Latino NYC City Councilmember who served from 1991-1997, passed away last weekend.
The West Virginia Supreme Court will soon hear a challenge that an anti-gay adoption group has brought to the adoption of a foster child by the lesbian couple she has lived with her entire life.
The Salt Lake Tribune predicts that paranoia will keep LGBT bills from passing in Utah.
In civil union news: a domestic partnership bill in New Mexico is currently being considered in committee, New Hampshire lawmakers may tweak the state’s civil union laws to include insurance requirements, and an Arizona couple has taken the first steps to but a civil partnership bill on the 2010 ballot.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
An appellate court in California has decided that a Lutheran high school that expelled two 16-year-old students for being lesbians acted lawfully, as it is not a business and therefore doesn't have to comply with the state law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. The girls’ lawyer plans to take the case to the state’s Supreme Court.
California Attorney General Ed Brown doesn’t think the people who donated money to the Prop. 8 campaign should be able to hide from the public eye, and he’s filed a brief in response to Yes on 8’s ridiculous lawsuit to conceal the names of these donors.
The first in a series of bills affecting the gay community being introduced in Utah this session has been rejected by the state’s Senate judiciary committee. The bill would have allowed financial dependents - besides spouses, parents and children - to sue if a breadwinner suffers a wrongful death, and would have affected both gay and straight residents.
A bill to give same-sex couples all the protections of marriage – without calling it marriage – has been introduced in Washington’s state legislature.
Iceland may be on the brink of naming one of the world’s first gay prime ministers.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The New York Observer has the play-by-play account of Paterson’s pick of Kirsten Gillibrand for U.S. Senator, and how gay rights factored in to the events that unfolded the night before his announcement.
Despite being disappointed that Caroline Kennedy wasn’t chosen, David Mixner is excited that Gillibrand is the first U.S. Senator from New York to support marriage equality.
Last week, a New York appeals court upheld a policy granting benefits to the same-sex married partners of state workers.
Over 2,000 foreign policy government employees signed a letter delivered to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on the government to give equal benefits to same-sex partners.
A Politico blogger thinks “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be one of the top 5 legislative fights ahead for Obama’s administration.
Civil union legislation that has stalled for years in Hawaii may finally have a chance at passing.
This L.A. Times op-ed, written by a man who grew up in foster care, does a great job of explaining why same-sex adoption bans are ridiculous: “Based on my own experience, I'd say children in foster care don't care about the sexual orientation of people wanting to adopt them. They want loving, permanent and safe environments.”
Remember those San Diego firefighters who sued the city because they were “forced” to march in a gay pride parade? They’re back.
Sweden is likely to become the seventh country to legalize same-sex marriage.
In Hollywood news, GLAAD has announced its nominees for its media awards and its plans to honor Tyra Banks and Suze Orman, and Sean Penn has won the SAG award for best actor for his performance in Milk.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The Pride Agenda recently released its 2007-2008 Annual Report for the
Each year the Network educates the State of
Network members serve LGBT New Yorkers in many ways, including programs that focus on advocacy, clinical services, and health and wellness for LGBT seniors. Some of our member organizations provide services in the legal world ranging from offering direct legal representation and working on precedent-setting lawsuits to heading policy initiatives focusing on anti-discrimination. Another area covered by many of our members is LGBT people of color issues, including anti-violence programs, education and prevention services, community organizing to create change, and family wellness.
Because of the hard work of the Empire State Pride Agenda in conjunction with the Network, LGBT service providers have secured over $40 million in total through the State to fund these programs since the Network was first created in the mid-90s.
In addition to providing these crucial services to local LGBT populations, the Network also works with the State to develop more LGBT-friendly policies. Over the past year, we’ve worked with the Office of Children and Family Services to create safer spaces for LGBT youth in juvenile justice facilities and the Office of the Aging to ensure that LGBT seniors are receiving more competent care. These are just two examples of how LGBT organizations can come together to make a huge difference in the quality of life for thousands of LGBT New Yorkers.
The Network looks forward to a successful and challenging year ahead.
Starting before Gov. Paterson’s Friday noontime announcement and continuing through the weekend, major local and national news outlets have been quoting the Pride Agenda in their stories about New York’s new U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and her positions on LGBT issues, including marriage equality. Here are some of the highlights of that coverage. (We’ll update you on other LGBT news in a later post):
The New York Times’ editorial on Gillibrand also mentioned that she has “she has bravely endorsed gay marriage.”
The Gannett news story reports that gay rights groups are pleased with
Gay City News wrote on Gillibrand’s evolving views on LGBT issues.
Google News’ “Comments by People in the News” features a note by Van Capelle on Gillibrand’s evolution: “Wherever she might have been a few years ago isn’t really important to the Pride Agenda. It’s where she is now, and she’s clearly going to be a strong advocate for LGBT people in
Salon writes that Gillibrand’s pro-same sex marriage stance puts her “to the left of Schumer and Clinton, alongside
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The prayers at Obama’s inauguration are being considered as inclusive as possible – not just to the LGBT community, which felt slighted by the Rick Warren pick, but also to “nonbelievers,” different religious denominations, and people of color.
The Daily News reports that LGBT activists are ready to move on past the Rick Warren choice.
There weren’t too many protesters at the inauguration – especially if you disregard the
The L.A. Times urges Obama to “drop the semantics” and come out in full support of marriage euqality.
The New York Post writes on a lesbian couple that has been chosen through a contest to have their commitment ceremony at the top of the
Grassroots groups in CA are already mobilizing to collect the necessary signatures to put a Prop. 8 repeal on the next ballot.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Barack Obama is the 44th President, and his new civil rights agenda on the White House website demonstrates his commitment to LGBT rights.
The JTA Jewish news service writes on Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, recipient of a Pride Agenda Star Award in recognition of the synagogue's leadership in working for marriage equality.
On Sunday, The NYC South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association partnered with other organizations to hold Rock for Rights, a benefit concert at the
Newsday profiles a gay family headed to the inauguration.
The Obama transition team has posted a video of a meeting that took place in December between LGBT leaders and members of the transition team. The video shows only four minutes of the more than two-hour meeting, including parts where LGBT leaders highlighted policy concerns about federal legislation, the upcoming U.S. Census, and HIV/AIDS policy.
A new GLSEN study has found that sexual orientation and gender expression are the most common reasons LGBT students of color report feeling unsafe in school.
This lovely Forbes opinion piece deals a swift backhanded compliment to the Obama family by lauding its “model of proper parenting and spirituality for the next generation” – which according to the columnist, includes alienating “feminist, gay-rights and ultra-secularist activists.” Oh, and for good measure, he throws in a semi-racist comparison to “The Cosby Show”…
Queerty laments the homophobic Red Cross policy that still prohibits gays from donating blood.
Buffalo News previews "Prayers for Bobby," a Lifetime movie premiering this Saturday that takes a harrowing look at the need for acceptance for gay youth. The Trevor Project, a nationwide suicide prevention helpline for LGBT and questioning youth, has an excellent toolkit for the movie and suggests hosting a viewing party for your friends and family.
Friday, January 16, 2009
The openly gay mayor of Nyack, John Shields, has announced he will not seek re-election.
Forty bar and legal organizations have submitted a brief to the California Supreme Court expressing their opposition to Prop. 8.
A Washington Post columnist argues against
New ID cards available in
Mary Frances Berry, former chairwoman of the Commission on Civil Rights, opines in the New York Times that a serious overhaul of the Commission is necessary, and that addressing LGBT rights should be its “first order of business.”
A NYT television columnist reflects on the unrealistic yet sometimes empowering Showtime series, “The L Word,” as it begins its final season.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
A local paper writes on how
Obama has appointed John Berry, openly-gay director of the Smithsonian's
A coalition of very influential labor unions in
David Mixner guest-blogs on Bilerico about the need to reevaluate and possibly rewrite national civil rights legislation.
Al Sharpton has eloquently voiced his opposition to churches being involved in anti-gay advocacy:
“It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being delegated into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners. There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people’s bedrooms and claim that God sent you.”
Stan Lee, former head of Marvel Comics and creator of characters such as Spider Man, The Hulk and X-Men, is unveiling a gay superhero.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
A new study by Freedom to Marry confirms that legislators who vote in favor of marriage equality do not damage their chances of being reelected in any way.
When asked if Obama plans to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, gave the most direct confirmation to date: “You don't hear a politician give a one-word answer much, but it's 'yes.'”
Some gay rights activists are finding encouragement in Obama’s choice of Rev. Gene Robinson to open his inaugural festivities on Sunday.
The media has confirmed that Obama will name Fred Hochberg as the head of the Import-Export Bank.
A Huffington Post columnist looks at the status of civil rights for both gay and Black Americans.
The number of hate groups (including anti-gay organizations) are on the rise, and some experts say the trend is directly related to the failing economy.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Have any plans for tonight? We suggest DEFYING INEQUALITY, an evening of benefit cabaret performances at the Gershwin Theatre in NYC (222 W. 51 Street) featuring cast members from WICKED as well as special guest performers. The show – held simultaneously in
Tickets to DEFYING INEQUALITY are only $25 for Advance Regular Admission (which includes one free drink), or $30 at the door. Or opt for the VIP treatment for $100, which includes 2 free drinks, access to VIP Area, a signed WICKED poster, and a WICKED gift bag. Call 866-811-4111 or click here to get your tickets now.
Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. We hope to see you there!
Fred Hochberg, the openly gay Dean of the Milano School of Management and Public Policy at the
Obama will also likely be putting off some of his campaign promises – including working to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – to focus on the economy.
After weeks of criticizing Obama’s Rick Warren pick, Bishop Gene Robinson has been invited to give a prayer at one of the inaugural events.
Anti-LGBT activists in
Former evangelical pastor Ted Haggard, promoting his new HBO documentary, has said he “went through a wandering in the wilderness time,” but he has now repented for his gay sex scandal.
CNN reports that business is booming at the 11
The L.A. Times has a very interesting story on the emergence of what they are calling a “vibrant gay hip-hop subculture.”
Friday, January 9, 2009
Gay City News has a great summary of the controversy leading up to Wednesday’s election of Malcolm Smith as Senate Majority Leader.
The New York Blade writes that although the new NY Senate is the most gay-friendly ever, there is still much work to be done before marriage equality can become a reality.
The Blade also writes on the emergence of LGBT advocacy Facebook groups and mentions the Pride Agenda’s OffSprung! group for young professionals in
Despite Gov. Paterson’s instructions to state agencies to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages in
The New Yorker extensively profiles Barney Frank, the openly-gay U.S. Congressman.
Supporters of Prop. 8 are suing to block their campaign finance records from being public, saying the reports have led to the harassment of donors.
Ex-Senator Larry Craig has finally given up his attempts to withdraw his guilty plea from his 2007 airport sex sting.
Nine men in
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Ross Levi, our Director of Public Policy and Education, is at it again (two posts in one week!) and this time dicussing Governor Paterson's inclusion of LGBT issues in the State of the State address, delivered yesterday in the State Capitol.
It’s been a few years since LGBT issues were referenced in the New York Governor’s State of the State Address. The last time we could recall was Governor Pataki’s mention of hate crimes and the Sexual Orientation of the Non-Discrimination Act in 2002. So we were thrilled to hear Governor Paterson’s discussion about community in his speech. The beginning parts of that “Community” section were written in his prepared comments as follows:
"Particularly in these difficult economic times, we must make sure that we
respect one another, serve one another and protect one another.
It saddens me to report that, over the past few months, we have failed. In Suffolk County, in Brooklyn and in Syracuse, our residents have suffered brutal murders provoked by ignorance, intolerance, and hate. As we sift through the fallout from these awful crimes, we must make one thing plain: hate has no place in the Empire State.
I call upon all parents to increase their efforts to teach their children respect for all people – no matter their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin. And we in State government must strengthen our school-based curriculum to reinforce the critical message of acceptance and tolerance.”
We think Governor Paterson deserves great praise for bringing attention to the horrible murder of a transgender woman in Syracuse, and the beating and resulting death of a Brooklyn man accompanied by anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs. The Governor’s call for a school-based curriculum to address intolerance we think is a direct reference to the Dignity for All Students Act, whose passage after many years of one-house movement in the Assembly should now be a no-brainer in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. We see all these comments as evidence of Governor Paterson’s continued commitment to civil rights legislation.
We were also heartened to hear the Governor’s discuss his philosophy on health care, which is the model that has been championed for years by the NYS LGBT Health and Human Service Network, coordinated by the Pride Agenda. The Governor said:
“[W]e still incentivize the wrong care in the wrong setting at the wrong price. Where we are overpaying for inpatient or institutional care, we must shift funding to primary, preventive and community-based care.”
We couldn’t agree more. Health and human services are best provided early on and by and among the community that best understands the need. This is exactly the sort of care provided by the over fifty Network groups who provide health and human services to the LGBT community literally all across New York State.
The Governor has so far put his money where his mouth is and continued strong budgetary support for LGBT health and human services in his recent Executive budget. The Pride Agenda and the members of the Network will continuing to work throughout the budget process to maintain and expand state support for these vital community services.
The Governor’s line about hate having no place in New York received a standing ovation from the legislature and other audience members in the Assembly chamber. We hope this as a positive sign that there may be an increasingly receptive environment for passage of legislation to benefit the LGBT community here in New York State, most notably marriage equality and the transgender civil rights bill, GENDA.
Click here for the full text of Gov. Paterson's State of the State address.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The New York State Senate will vote today on its new Majority Leader. The New York Times reports that a deal was reached last night to elect Senator Malcolm Smith, putting Democrats in power for the first time in four decades.
Supporters and opponents of Prop. 8 argued in court Monday over whether the state's Supreme Court has the authority to overturn the anti-gay marriage initiative.
A new National Gay and Lesbian Task Force report reiterates that it was party identification, age, religion and political views – not race – that had the biggest impact on voters’ decisions for or against Prop. 8.
Bob Barr, author of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, editorializes in the L.A. Times that he now wants the law struck down – not because he supports same-sex marriage, but because “It truly is time to get the federal government out of the marriage business.”
An anonymous letter threatening to poison patrons was sent to 11 gay bars in
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Ross Levi, our Director of Public Policy and Education, had the following to say about the Brennan Center's recent report on the workings of the New York State Legislature:
Not to toot our own horn, but we here at the Pride Agenda know a little something about the workings of Albany. Our organization was founded by a New York City PAC merging with an Albany-based grassroots political organization, and since then we have helped get dozens of laws through the state Legislature.
So we are all too familiar with what a complex, stubborn and even sometimes annoying machine Albany can be. The levers can stick too much, it can move way too slowly and the whole thing is just bigger and more cumbersome than it would be in an ideal world. For this reason, our public policy agenda states that, “We support actions that foster a more open, transparent and efficient state government.”
Consequently, we have great admiration for the many good government groups working here in Albany to achieve that very goal. That includes NYU’s Brennan Center which annually recommends improvements to the functioning of state government.
There are a number of points in the Brennan Center’s latest report, however, with which we disagree. Most notably, we question whether the low ratio of bills introduced to bills passed into law is any indication of the inefficiencies of state government. The Brennan Center contends that because only 1,693, or 9% of the bills introduced in 2008 became law, legislators should be limited in the number of bills that they can introduce each session. The report implies that the practice of passing “one house bills,” i.e. one chamber passing a bill that never receives a vote in the other chamber, is a waste of government’s time.
We beg to differ, based on our past experience. As you can see in the statement we issued yesterday, it has been an important part of past advocacy efforts to have LGBT civil rights legislation passed in one house – which in our history has overwhelmingly been the Democratic controlled Assembly – even when we knew a measure stood little to no chance of seeing any similar action in the other house during that same session.
We think it is wrong for the legislature to have that leadership used against them as a sign of legislative dysfunction. Quite the contrary, it has routinely been an explicit part of our advocacy strategy to get a bill passed in one chamber, build its backing in terms of numbers and bipartisan support and use that passage to increase the momentum and political pressure for the other house to move. It is also an important tool to “smoke-out” legislators’ positions around a measure, either for later votes or for when legislators move onto new elected positions, such as when they move from the Assembly to the Senate.
The strategy was a success with hate crimes legislation and the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, which each passed the Assembly for years before seeing even a vote in the Senate, and it is part of our work around the Dignity for All Students Act, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and marriage equality legislation (though we hope and expect those measures will not need similarly long trails of one-house passage).
The rest of the state knows there is a value to one-house bills, too. When SONDA first passed the Assembly, it made the front page of the New York Times Metro section. This media attention is another value to one-house bills, in that it can appropriately bring attention to an issue that is going unaddressed, and serve as an important moment to begin or expand a civic “conversation.”
It is an appropriate part of the democratic process for one chamber to champion bills it views as priorities, even as those measures languish in the other house. The Brennan Center has a point that more frequent use of conference committees to reconcile similar-but-not-identical bills passed in both houses might be a good improvement. But we simply can’t agree that one chamber’s leadership on a one-house bill amounts to a waste of time and government resources. There are plenty of places to find inefficiencies in the legislative process, but surely this is not one of them.
Ross is based in the Pride Agenda's Albany office and is the longest serving current staff member at the Pride Agenda, starting as Legislative Counsel in 2000.
An openly gay man, Brad Kiley, has been appointed to a non-Cabinet level position in the Obama White House: Director of the Office of Management and Administration.
The New York Times editorializes on Arkansas' recently passed law banning gay couples--and unmarried heterosexual couples--from adopting, saying that the shameful law needs to be struck down by the state's Supreme Court so that bigotry can once again be replaced by the best interests of the child.
Columnist Deb Price writes about the gay-friendly freshman class in the new Congress.
The Forward discusses the increasing understanding and acceptance of transgender Jews in several Jewish faith communities, notably within the Reform and Conservative movements.
Monday, January 5, 2009
The Albany Times-Union has a feature on “HomoRadio,” the weekly Capital Region radio show on WRPI.
The Buffalo News writes on Spiritus Christi Buffalo, a local splinter congregation of the Catholic Church that is more inclusive and welcoming to all, including same-sex couples.
The L.A. Times writes about
U.S. News & World Report explores the debate over LGBT high schools and asks if helping LGBT teens overcome bullying is worth segregating them from other kids their age.
Sam Adams, the new mayor of
The Advocate has recommendations for how the Obama administration can make progress with the LGBT community after its divisive Rick Warren pick.
More than a dozen families are suing in
The Sacramento Bee profiles Jerry Brown, the 70-year-old California Attorney General and former Governor who has filed a brief against Prop. 8.