Friday, February 27, 2009
In a Gannett news story (featured in the Elmira Star Gazette and Rochester Democrat & Chronicle), Pride Agenda executive director Alan Van Capelle reiterates what we’ve been saying all along – the Democratic Majority in the Senate doesn’t guarantee marriage, but it does guarantee that it’s time to do the hard work necessary to win hearts and minds.
The White House has announced that Jeffrey S. Crowley, and openly gay Senior Research Scholar at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, will be the Director of Office of National AIDS Policy.
Legislation update: New Mexico’s domestic partnership bill was voted down in the Senate, and Rhode Island has introduced a marriage bill in both houses.
Colorado State Senator Scott Renfroe, who during a debate on partner health benefits on Tues. compared extending benefits for the “sin” of homosexuality to legalizing the sin of murder, has clarified his statements. You see, unlike murderers, he doesn’t think homosexuals deserve to be punished – but he does stand by his beliefs. Thanks for your leniency, Sen. Renfroe!
Speaking of gays and violence, a clip of Liberty Counsel radio host Mat Staver’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday is circulating widely. Staver says gay parenting leads to kids being raised in “fatherless households,” which turns them into violent offenders. So inversely, having two gay daddies will make you a Rhodes scholar, right?
Continuing on today’s “gay and violent” theme, Sean Hannity was unhappy with gay kissing at the Oscars, saying “They keep showing the scenes of men kissing. And I’m thinking do we have to expose our children to more and more sex, more and more violence, you know, more and more controversy?” GLAAD responds with a video montage of all the kisses – 14 straight and 3 gay – shown at the Oscars. What Zac and Vanessa want to do in the privacy of their own home is one thing, but not in front of the children…
Bilerico guest blogger Monica Helms, president of the Transgender American Veterans Association, reflects on the recent series of articles on trans veterans in the Tucson Daily Star.
The home of Franklin E. Kameny, who has been called "the father of gay activism," has been designated as a D.C. Historic Landmark.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee is deadlocked on the state’s civil unions bill. Democratic Senate leaders could overrule the deadlock and move the bill to vote on the Senate floor if more than one-third of senators approve. The civil unions bill has already passed in the state House.
The show will go on: the L.A. high school that received media attention for banning a production of “Rent” has decided to put the musical on after all.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
First introduced in 2003, GENDA would ban discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment, credit, public accommodations, and other areas of everyday life.
GENDA passed in the Assembly for the first time ever in June of last year with a vote of 108-34 and a record 74 co-sponsors.
With the new pro-LGBT Majority in the State Senate and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith in support of GENDA, we are finally poised to win GENDA in both the Assembly and the Senate —and when we do, we have Governor Paterson’s promise to sign the bill into law. The Pride Agenda will keep working hard to make this happen—and we’ll keep you updated on GENDA’s progress as we do!
The California resolution to invalidate Prop. 8 has passed out of the judiciary committee and will now go to the Senate floor for a vote. The resolution argues that the ban on same-sex marriages was a constitutional revision, and therefore should have needed approval from the legislature to be put on the ballot.
Democrats in Utah’s State Senate are calling for Sen. Chris Buttars to be removed from his post on two additional committees because of his anti-gay remarks. Buttars has already lost his chairmanship on the judiciary committee.
Also in Utah, Gov. Jon Huntsman would have liked to see the state’s “Common Ground” pro-LGBT legislation passed. He recently told Politico: “I’ve always thought that we were a little bit behind in terms of equality for people born under the same constitution.”
The public relations firm behind the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign reveals their playbook – and Queerty translates the lessons we can learn from it.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of a Kentucky high school student who wants to sue his school district over a policy that allegedly barred him from expressing his opposition to homosexuality.
When asked if he supports the idea of civil unions, new RNC Chair Michael Steele responded, “What are you, crazy?”
The Washington Post takes note of the contribution being made to the nation’s political dialogue by LGBT bloggers. Pam Spaulding provides insight into the growing trend.
Monday, February 23, 2009
In a New York Times op-ed, a pair of pro- and anti- same-sex marriage authors come to the conclusion that the federal government should, for now, provide the federal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples who have civil unions or marriages in their home states.
Hawaii has become the latest civil unions battleground. As the nation’s first state to pass a “defense of marriage” amendment, it would become the fifth state to pass civil unions legislation.
A Tucson, Ariz. newspaper is investigating the National Department of Veterans Affairs’ policy not to cover health costs associated with transitioning for transgender veterans.
Utah State Senator Chris Buttars has been removed as Chair of the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee after his comment that gay activists are "probably the greatest threat to America going down."
Friday, February 20, 2009
The New York Times writes on “Rent: the High School Edition” being banned from some schools, and argues that the musical is a sort of cultural litmus test for changing attitudes about LGBT issues and sex education across the country. We guess “Spring Awakening: High School Edition” is out of the question, then?
LGBT legislation update: Wisconsin’s governor has proposed a domestic partnership plan that would grant many of the same legal protections as straight couples; an Idaho Senator is proposing a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity; and the West Virginia legislature isn’t biting on legislation proposed by anti-gay activists to amend the state's constitution to further ban marriage for gay couples.
At a recent U.N. conference, the U.S. reversed its Bush-administration position opposing a statement calling for the universal decriminalization of being gay.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
On Tuesday, the Pride in My Workplace 2009 Business Leaders for LGBT Equality Series launched with a panel discussion at the offices of Nixon Peabody LLP. The Business Leaders Series highlights the experiences of individuals and companies leading the way for LGBT workplace equality.
Tuesday’s panel, “Best Practices in Action: Engaging Straight Allies,” brought together over 25 professionals from a variety of industries to talk about strategies for engaging straight and non-trans allies in the workplace. Panelists included moderator Leotis Sanders from Macy’s East, Robert Christmas from Nixon Peabody LLP, and Marsha Bonner from the New York Times. The panelists had some great insight into ways that professionals can encourage straight allies to become advocates for LGBT equality and engage on a level that makes them feel comfortable and welcome.
In the below video clip, straight ally Leotis Sanders speaks about the challenges in encouraging others to “come out” in support of the LGBT community.
Marsha Bonner talked about the difference between “compliance” in accepting LGBT people at work and “commitment” in becoming a straight ally.
Robert Christmas spoke about the importance of giving straight employees the opportunity to talk about LGBT people and families and to move outside of their automatic comfort zone.
The second panel in the 2009 Business Leaders Series will discuss “Best Practices in Marriage Recognition” and will be held in May in NYC. For more information, contact Pride in My Workplace Coordinator, Wazina Zondon at email@example.com or 212-627-0305.
The benefit will include the Broadway debut of Marc Shaiman's internet sensation, Prop 8 - The Musical, a special performance by Stephen Schwartz (composer of Wicked), and appearances by Cyndi Lauper, David Hyde Pierce, Harvey Fierstein, Carson Kressley, Judy Gold, Nathan Lane, Michael Urie, Mark Indelicato, Rue McClanahan – and many more. These stars will also be joined by members of the casts of Billy Elliot, The Color Purple National Tour, Gypsy, Hair, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, South Pacific, Spring Awakening, Wicked – and even more. New cast members are being added every day as more people and organizations sign on to make a difference for LGBT rights.
Tickets are $50-$100 – for more information or to purchase, click here. We hope to see you there!
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will release today its recommendations on whether to allow gay clergy.
There’s lots of legislative action affecting LGBT people occurring across the country:
North Dakota’s Senate has voted to expand the state’s anti-discrimination protections to gays and lesbians. The bill now goes to the House.
The Denver Post editorializes in favor of two bills to make it easier for gay couples to file paperwork to share benefits and plan estates, and to grant partners of gay state employees health and other benefits.
A Kentucky paper editorializes against a proposed ban on foster parenting and adoption by unmarried couples.
The fifth and final “Common Ground” LGBT bill in Utah has been voted down. The bill would have offered unmarried couples - straight or gay - inheritance rights and the power to make medical decisions when the other partner is incapacitated.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
We recently launched a new resource to help combat some of the common myths that anti-marriage equality forces use to argue against marriage for same-sex couples. Same-Sex Marriage Myths Busted presents misconceptions about marriage along with the facts, documents and links that prove them wrong. Some of the topics covered include the current status of same-sex marriages in New York State; the difference between civil unions, domestic partnerships, and marriage; the claim that same-sex marriage threatens religious freedom; marriage as a changing institution through history; and same-sex marriage’s financial impact.
We hope this resource will be useful not just as a tool against the opposition’s false arguments, but also for supporters who want to learn more about the fight for marriage equality here in New York State.
Utah House committees have voted down two more bills that were part of gay rights groups’ “Common Ground” legislative agenda: one which would have allowed same-sex couples and other unmarried pairs to adopt and foster children; and another to protect gay and transgender residents from housing and employment discrimination. Only one “Common Ground” measure out of five total has yet to be voted on: a bid to expand protections for same-sex couples so they can visit a partner in the hospital, inherit property and make medical decisions.
A jury has decided that the four San Diego firefighters who were mandated to march in a gay pride parade were sexually harassed, and has awarded them a total of $34,300.
The risk for HIV/AIDS is increasing among gay men from Asia, and the World Health Organization warns that better access to health services is necessary to curb the increase in cases.
Apparently, it’s not the season of love in Newport Beach: the principal at a local high school is getting national attention for shutting down a production of “Rent” due to it’s gay characters.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Times also wrote on the vandalism at the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth Center, which was ruled out as a hate crime last week.
In France, civil unions created for gay couples are being used by straight couples as an in-between status for those who aren’t quite ready for marriage.
The anti-gay bishop who called Hurricane Katrina “God’s punishment” for gay sin in New Orleans has withdrawn his nomination to become auxiliary bishop.
“All My Children” featured daytime TV’s first-ever lesbian wedding yesterday between characters Bianca and Reese.
Financial advisor Suze Orman delivered a Valentine’s Day message on her show arguing that same-sex couples should be able to marry.
Friday, February 13, 2009
In Hawaii, a measure to make civil unions legally equivalent to marriages of straight couples has been approved by the state House and will now go to the Senate for consideration.
In Washington, a similar bill has passed the House Judiciary Committee and will now be go to the House floor for a vote in the coming weeks.
Yesterday was the one year anniversary of 15-year-old Lawrence King’s murder by his classmate in Oxnard, California. A vigil was held at his high school in his honor.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has appointed a special committee to study the issue of civil unions.
Out comedian Wanda Sykes has been chosen to entertain at Obama’s White House correspondents’ dinner in May.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The largest school district in Minnesota has finally done away with its decade-old anti-gay policy, which read “Homosexuality [will] not be taught/addressed as a normal, valid lifestyle.” The new policy directs school teachers and staff to treat LGBT subjects “in a respectful manner that is age-appropriate, factual, and pertinent to the relevant curriculum.”
A hatefully anti-gay infomercial produced by the American Family Association slated to run on a Grand Rapids TV station has been pulled amid controversy and rescheduling issues.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
WHEN: Thursday, February 12 at 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
WHERE: Manhattan Marriage License Bureau, 141 Worth St. (at Centre St.), Manhattan
Although both gay candidates in Fort Lauderdale’s mayoral election were defeated yesterday, there’s good news: the winner – former Florida state Rep. Jack Seiler (D) – supports gay rights and replaces former mayor Jim Naugle, who was staunchly anti-gay.
The ACLU is suing a Florida high school for refusing to allow students to form a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus.
LGBT-owned business are mostly suffering in this economy – except for the gay nightlife. Cheers!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
New York representative Jerrold Nadler will reintroduce a federal bill on Thursday that would allow gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born domestic partners for U.S. citizenship.
Elena Kagan, current Harvard Law School Dean and Obama’s nominee for the nation’s solicitor general (the attorney who represents the government before the Supreme Court and the nation’s appeals courts), is very opposed to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Kagan has called the military’s ban on gays “a moral injustice of the first order,” adding, “The importance of the military to our society—and the extraordinary service that members of the military provide to all the rest of us—makes this discrimination more, not less, repugnant.”
Massachusetts has changed its policies for changing gender on state driver’s licenses; a transgender person now needs only to fill out a form signed by a doctor confirming their gender identification, and will no longer have to provide proof of sexual reassignment surgery or an amended birth certificate.
Fort Lauderdale residents are casting their ballot today for a new mayor, and two of the four candidates are openly gay.
Arizona’s new domestic partnership registry will give same-sex couples hospital visitation rights. A couple interviewed for the story sums it up best: "It's sad that we have to deem this a huge deal, but this is a step in the right direction. Progress is progress."
Monday, February 9, 2009
Good As You’s Jeremy Hooper responds to the NYT story, saying that in the face of so many questions about whether marriage equality is possible in 2009, the best thing to do is to “do our part” by making our voices heard on the issue.
A New Jersey state judge has ruled that a lesbian couple married in Canada can legally divorce in New Jersey.
A NYT op-ed contributed by a veteran argues straightforwardly for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
After much talk about whether his new faith-based council would include LGBT representation, Obama has appointed a gay leader to the council.
A U.S. district court judge will soon decide whether a Miami woman can proceed to trial with her lawsuit against a local hospital for denying her visitation of her dying partner.
A measure to put a same-sex marriage ban before Wyoming’s voters has failed in the state legislature.
Friday, February 6, 2009
We wanted to share with you a Perspectives column in this week's Gay City News written by Ross Levi, our Director of Public Policy & Education, about the evolution of marriage equality in New York State:
Marriage Equality's Political Mainstreaming
By: Ross D. Levi
At the press conference two weeks ago when Kirsten Gillibrand accepted Governor David Paterson's appointment to become New York's next US senator, she spoke about how she would be going to Washington to fight for economic and social justice issues like women's rights and marriage equality for same-sex couples.
This first-ever public commitment to marriage equality by a US senator from New York was certainly noticed by the LGBT community.
Less noticed was the fact that this was probably the most high-profile instance of a New York State politician using marriage equality as an illustration of their progressive Democratic credentials. In less than six years, marriage for same-sex couples had gone from being a controversial hot-button issue in statewide politics to a demonstration of New York Democratic bona fides.
It is easy to forget that not even six years ago, in 2003 when Canada became the first jurisdiction in our hemisphere where a New York same-sex couple could get legally married, national polls showed that only between 31 and 40 percent of Americans supported the idea of same-sex couples being allowed to marry, with between 51 and 56 percent opposed.
The Pride Agenda's most recent polling, in 2006, showed those numbers had basically flipped, with 53 percent supporting same-sex couples having the ability to marry versus 38 percent who opposed.
This evolution of marriage equality as a mainstream political issue did not occur by accident. On the contrary, marriage equality advocates have engaged in a long, hard-fought, and very deliberate campaign to have marriage equality - like reproductive choice - treated as a bellwether issue for Democrats from New York. The Empire State Pride Agenda, for one, knew that any high-profile LGBT equality and justice issue would need the support of a majority of New Yorkers before it would be passed into law.
So we began a statewide effort to change hearts and minds. Working with the LGBT community across the state, we held dozens of town meetings, trained hundreds of "Marriage Ambassadors," and created a statewide Family Photo Album, with pages showing loving LGBT families, that were displayed in libraries, community centers, and coffee houses all across the state.
In 2006, much of this work came together when, less than 12 hours after the state's highest court said New York's Constitution was not violated by same-sex couples being barred from marriage, we were able to organize thousands of New Yorkers to attend rallies in half a dozen communities from Buffalo to Long Island.
We also began gathering non-LGBT allies to stand with us, and advocate for us. We compiled dozens of testimonials from prominent New Yorkers in support of marriage equality, from local politicians to union leaders to clergy. Hundreds of faith leaders from dozens of congregations started speaking out publicly in support of marriage equality as part of our Pride in the Pulpit program. Unions began passing resolutions in support of it and, more importantly, began asking about the issue as part of their political endorsement process.
And we're not the only ones organizing New Yorkers to demonstrate their support for marriage equality. Similarly great work is being done by Marriage Equality New York and a more recent arrival, Join the Impact.
Now, six years later, the "hearts and minds" work is paying big dividends. Every Democrat who has been elected or appointed to statewide elected office since 2006 -Â including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller - has been in full support of marriage equality, as well as other important LGBT issues like transgender nondiscrimination and safe schools for LGBT youth. Marriage equality also has the support of the speaker of the New York State Assembly and the majority leader of the State Senate.
And, most tangibly, in 2007 when the marriage equality bill received its first vote in any chamber of the New York State Legislature, it passed the Assembly 85 - 61.
Clearly the work is far from over. For example, there is one lone holdout among statewide elected officials - Senator Charles Schumer, who has yet to voice his support for marriage equality. Also, there are not yet the necessary votes committed in the New York State Senate to pass a marriage equality bill - but there will be, with continued hard work by all of us across the state.
In the meantime, it is worth noting that a significant milestone has already been reached. When the nation watches the "debut" of a new senator from New York, and she proactively highlights her support for marriage equality for same-sex couples, the issue has certainly arrived as a threshold litmus test for all statewide Democrats. And now that it is out there, there is no shoving this issue back into the political closet.
Legal experts say that recent same-sex marriage rulings in California could indicate that the federal DOMA could one day be ruled unconstitutional.
The Delaware Supreme Court has overturned a state family court's ruling that a lesbian's longtime relationship with the biological child of her former partner was sufficient to award her de facto parental protections. The ruling means that an “emotional bond” isn’t enough for an unmarried parent to claim custody rights of a child they haven’t legally adopted.
Bishop Gene Robinson testified in favor of New Hampshire’s marriage equality bill yesterday, saying “Don't let the religious opponents to marriage equality you will hear from today and in the days to come make you afraid to do what is right.”
A federal bill to give the same-sex partners of legal U.S. residents the same immigration rights as heterosexual couples will be reintroduced next week.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Several religious right groups are challenging Obama’s picks for top Justice Department positions.
Joe.My.God blogs about “Tell 3,” a new joint effort by several LGBT rights groups to encourage people to talk to their families and friends about being gay.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth Center is receiving support from the community after this past weekend’s vandalism.
The Oscar Wilde Bookshop in Greenwich Village, which is believed to be the oldest LGBT bookstore in the country, will close in March due to economic troubles.
Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner from New York's 9th District will serve as the vice chair of the U.S. House's LGBT Equality Caucus. Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin are co-chairs of the caucus, which was formed last June.
A bill to keep Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally out of state, like New York does, is moving in the state legislature.
The California Supreme Court will hear a challenge to Prop. 8 on March 5, and will have three months to rule on the case.
The Obama administration will soon announce a new faith-based advisory council that will help steer government money to religious and neighborhood groups doing social service work. The LGBT community is expected to receive some sort of representation on the council.
The Department of Justice has re-hired Leslie Hagen, an attorney who was fired during the Bush administration due to rumors she was a lesbian.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The final tally shows that more than $83 million was spent by people either in support and opposition of Prop. 8. In the end, slightly more was raised by opponents, due largely to donations in the last few days before the election.
David Mixner is really sick of talking about Prop. 8, and would like to move on to 2009’s more pressing LGBT issues.
Openly gay U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin is calling on Hillary Clinton to make the State Department more LGBT-friendly.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Obama is building trust with military leaders before pushing his campaign promises of recalling troops from Iraq and repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The L.A. Times editorializes in favor of keeping Prop. 8 donors’ names public, pointing out that the best way to deal with illegal harassment against them is through law enforcement, not by stopping crucial disclosure laws that keep government transparent and open to all.
Iceland’s new prime minister, openly gay Johanna Sigurdardottir, was sworn in over the weekend.
An Austrian pastor who claimed Hurricane Katrina was “divine retribution” for gay sinners in New Orleans is being promoted to the rank of bishop.
The New York Times has an interesting story on “womyn’s lands” – small lesbian separatist communities that are becoming increasingly uncommon as newer generations of lesbians are less likely to retreat from what some call “a man’s world.”