Friday, July 24, 2009

Morning Sweep

Note: The Pride Agenda will be taking an office-wide recess next week. Our regularly scheduled blogging will resume on Monday, Aug. 3.

The father of two prosecution witnesses in the Syracuse trial of Dwight DeLee for the hate crime murder of Lateisha Green was shot and critically injured Wednesday night. Police say they are "looking at the possibility that this may be some kind of retaliation" for DeLee's conviction.

Advocates will rally in Queens this weekend in support of the victims of two recent anti-gay attacks.

Due to lack of support from her colleagues, Senator Gillibrand has been unable to move forward with her amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have put a 18-month moratorium on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Attacks are getting nasty against Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, who has been endorsed by the GOP to run for Rep. John M. McHugh's congressional seat. Some don't think she's conservative enough due to her record on issues like abortion and gay rights.

USA Today has an interesting story on straight people who chose to worship in predominately gay congregations because they prefer the more accepting, welcoming atmosphere.

New York Times magazine profiles a W. Va. lesbian couple facing difficulty adopting a child because of murky laws there.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Morning Sweep

A judge has ruled that there is enough evidence for Brandon McInerney to be tried as an adult for murder as a hate crime. McInerney had plead not guilty in the Feb. 2008 shooting death of fellow student Larry King in CA.

David Mixner has some interesting thoughts on the LGBT civil rights movement and the need for action NOW. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is under fire for conflicting comments he made about gay adoption.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Morning Sweep

Several amendments have been added to the federal hate crimes bill (part of the Defense Department authorization bill) in the Senate.

Funding for an expanded F-22 fighter program has been removed from the Defense Department authorization bill. This is good news for the hate crimes portion, as Obama has threatened to veto the entire bill if the planes were part of it.

a California Senator has introduced a bill to provide full recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed out-of-state.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Morning Sweep

The L.A. Times writes extensively on the trial of Lateisha Green's killer and the lack of legal protections based on gender identity and expression.

The preliminary hearing has begun for Brandon McInerney, who is accused of murdering openly gay 15-year-old classmate Lawrence King in CA in Feb. 2008.

Time magazine and the New York Times report on how homophobia and intolerance are fueling Africa's AIDS crisis.

The Washington Post editorial board suggests that those frustrated with the Obama adminstration's lack of action on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" direct their activism toward the Congress.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Morning Sweep

The town of Brighton, NY has adopted a resolution in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.

The AP summarizes the trial of Dwight DeLee, who was convicted on Friday of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime in the murder of 22-year-old transgender Syracuse woman Lateisha Green.

David Boies, part of the high-profile lawyer duo challenging Prop. 8, wrote a well-argued opinion piece on the legal reasons to overturn Prop. 8 in the Wall Street Journal. He writes: "Gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters, our teachers and doctors, our friends and neighbors, our parents and children. It is time, indeed past time, that we accord them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It is time, indeed past time, that our Constitution fulfill its promise of equal protection and due process for all citizens by now eliminating the last remnant of centuries of misguided state discrimination against gays and lesbians."

A growing number of sponsors have signed on to bills in the U.S. House and Senate to help keep families together by recognizing same-sex couples for immigration purposes.

There's still much work to be done for equality in the workplace: a new poll found that 44% of LGBT participants feel unable to talk freely to co-workers about their partners, and up to 78% don't feel comfortable bringing their partners to corporate social functions.

A shocking amount of violence occurs against LGBT people in Jamaica, despite it being one of the hottest spots for Caribbean vacationers from the U.S.

Organizers are planning a first-ever Pride House for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Like other country-specific hangouts, the area will be a place for LGBT athletes and their friends and family to get together.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Justice Won for Lateisha Green

Today, a jury convicted Dwight DeLee of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime in the Nov. 2008 murder of 22-year-old Lateisha Green, a Syracuse transgender woman. You can read more about the trial from our post yesterday and on TLDEF's website. You can also learn about the implications of this important trial from our statement issued when the trial began on Monday.

Lateisha's murder raises awareness of the need to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) in New York State in order to include gender identity and expression in the State hate crimes and human rights laws. However, during this tragic time, it's important that we do more than call for legislative action--we need to provide support to Lateisha's family as well. Lateisha's mother, Roxanne, and her family had always been supportive of her, and since her death have been outspoken in their tireless efforts to ensure that the public learns as much as possible about Lateisha's life and the tremendous violence that transgender people continue to face.

Please take a moment to write a note to Lateisha's family expressing your sympathy, thanking them for their support of our community, and pledging your commitment to fight for GENDA. It would mean a lot to us here at the Pride Agenda, and we're sure it would also mean a lot to Lateisha's family to know that you care about their loss and their efforts.

Morning Sweep

The jury is currently deliberating in the Lateisha Green murder trial in Syracuse.

State Senator Tom Duane gave an impassioned speech about the HIV/AIDS crisis early this morning at an all-night session of the Senate. The Senate then passed a bill that prevents people living with HIV or AIDS and receiving public assistance from having to pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent, 52-1.

The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to expand the federal hate crimes bill to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender. The expansion, tacked onto a must-pass defense bill, is expected to pass sometime next week.

Obama spoke at the NAACP conference last night, and he made a powerful statement against discrimination of all kinds: "But make no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Justice for Lateisha Green

The trial of Dwight DeLee, charged with murder as a hate crime in the Nov. 2008 shooting of 22-year-old Lateisha Green, began in Syracuse on Monday. Teish, a transgender woman, was shot and killed as she sat in a car with her younger brother and a friend outside of a house party, and her murderer allegedly used anti-gay slurs before committing the crime. The trial is receiving national attention, as it marks the first hate crimes prosecution in New York State involving the murder of a transgender person. The Pride Agenda recently released a statement on the trial, and comprehensive updates are available on TLDEF’s blog. Here’s a summary of proceedings so far:

On Monday, Teish’s openly gay younger brother, 19-year-old Mark Anthony Cannon, testified on the events the night of his sister’s murder. Mark testified that he drove Teish and a friend to the scene of the crime so that they could talk to a friend. After just a few minutes of sitting in the car, someone fired a gun, and the bullet hit both Mark and Teish, though his injuries were less severe. When asked to identify the shooter, Mark pointed to Dwight DeLee. Teish died from her injuries later that evening in the hospital.

On Tuesday, one witness testified that she saw a man (who by process of elimination, would be DeLee) go into the house, get the gun, and shoot Teish after hearing his friends use anti-gay slurs. However, DeeLee’s friend and girlfriend, Johhny and Jasmine Gaston, recanted their official statements about witnessing the shooting and DeLee expressing guilt over it afterwards. Both said that they had been scared when interrogated by the police and had just signed their statements because they wanted to go home.

On Wednesday, the judge made a public statement against an altercation that happened on Tuesday night outside of the courtroom resulting from threats made by friends and members of accused shooter’s family. During the day’s proceedings, he also told DeLee that he was aware that people who knew DeLee were threatening witnesses, and that such threats could result in criminal charges.

Two witnesses testified that they heard DeLee use an anti-gay slur, and then heard the gunshot or saw DeLee holding the gun after the shooting, although they didn’t see the actual shooting happen. A different eyewitness testified that she did, indeed, see DeLee shoot the gun into the car. And two final witnesses testified that they saw someone with dark skin shoot into the car (with DeLee being the only person present who matches that description). Several of the witnesses confirmed that DeLee had made anti-gay threats before the shooting.

Today, the jury heard closing arguments, and it is now deliberating. We’ll keep you updated on the verdict in this important trial.

Morning Sweep

NYC Comptroller William Thompson writes in USA Today that New York could benefit from the revenue that marriage for same-sex couple would generate.

The AP has an update on the proceedings of the Lateisha Green murder trial in Syracuse. For comprehensive updates, TLDEF also has great coverage.

The federal hate crimes bill reached the Senate floor yesterday.

In a typical confirmation hearing avoidance move, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotamayor dodged a question about marriage for same-sex couples yesterday.

Bishops at the Episcopal conference voted yesterday to approve a measure that gives them the ability to bless the unions of same-sex couples, without creating an official rite for such ceremonies.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Scenes from the Hamptons Tea Dance

This past Saturday, July 11, the Pride Agenda was out in East Hampton for our 17th annual Hamptons Tea Dance. We sipped cocktails and danced to the tunes of DJ Lady Bunny at 10A ranch, the home of hosts Will Trinkle and Juan Granados. The weather was perfect, and our great volunteers, energetic event co-chairs and host committee, and festive guests made it another Tea Dance to remember! Here’s some of the event coverage in the press and a few photos:

Vanity Fair has a great writeup of the event and a lovely photo gallery. summarizes the event and the work of the Pride Agenda.

Plum TV’s interview at the Tea Dance with Governor Paterson has been picked up by Capitol Confidential and the Daily Politics.

Fabulous DJ Lady Bunny

Host Will Trinkle, Executive Director Alan Van Capelle, U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand,
host Juan Granados, and Board Co-Chair Mitch Karsch

Edward Albee and Governor Paterson

Morning Sweep

It’s Rochester Pride Week, so the Democrat & Chronicle interviewed local LGBT activists on what marriage for same-sex couples would mean for them.

The Episcopal Church officially declared gays and lesbians eligible for "any ordained ministry" positions yesterday. The vote is expected to upset world Anglican leaders who had sought a clear moratorium on consecrating another gay bishop.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is the fifth senator to publicly change his position on the issue of marriage equality this year.

The mayor of Forth Worth, TX has apologized for the raid on a local gay bar that has upset many in the LGBT community.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Morning Sweep

The Syracuse Post-Standard covered yesterday’s press conference about the Lateisha Green murder trial, and Newsday wrote on the day’s court proceedings. We’re glad to see so much good, fair coverage of this extremely important case.

The Politicker interviews Alan Van Capelle, recapping some of the work that we’ve done during this contentious legislative session and previewing what’s to come.

According to The Nation, former President Bill Clinton--who signed DOMA into law in 1996--now supports marriage equality.

At its convention in CA, the Episcopal Church has moved toward affirming its acceptance of gays and lesbians for all roles in ministry, despite pressure from fellow Anglicans worldwide to stop consecrating openly gay clergy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Morning Sweep

Now that the Senate is tenuously up and running again, it appears that much of its business, including a potential vote on marriage for same-sex couples, will be put on hold until a special session in September.

The New York Times editorializes that the Senate still needs to take up and pass important issues that have been pending, like marriage for same-sex couples.

Gay City News expresses the same sentiments.

The murder trial for the accused killer of Lateisha Green, the 22-year-old transgender woman who was shot and killed in Syracuse last November, begins today.

A suspect has been arrested for the string of anti-gay Upper East Side attacks in May and June.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand may be planning to announce an amendment to put an 18-month moratorium on the discharge of gay and lesbian service members under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

A rainbow flag was raised at Rochester City Hall yesterday in honor of Pride week there.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the 50-year-old civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others, is seeking to remove the president of its Los Angeles chapter in response to his support of same-sex marriage in California.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Morning Sweep

The NYS Senate impasse is over, as Senator Pedro Espada has rejoined the Democrats as their new Majority Leader.

A trans woman in Queens was assaulted on Wednesday. Her attackers may be charged with a hate crime.

Trans activist Melissa Sklarz writes on her experience last week at Obama’s meeting with LGBT leaders. She has a cautiously optimistic outlook on his future promises.

In a recent sit-down with reporters from the Catholic media, Obama made this statement: "For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it's clear that they feel victimized in fairly powerful ways and they're often hurt by not just certain teachings of the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally. And as a Christian, I'm constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for gays and lesbians."

Pennsylvania Senators have introduced a marriage equality bill.

Hateful Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kearn is back to her usual anti-gay shenanigans. Her new, pointless “morality proclamation” states that “this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same-sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse and many other forms of debauchery."

A new "refuse to sign" campaign is urging clergy to avoid signing marriage licences and to stick to just blessing the unions in order to create a more clear-cut distinction between church and state.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Morning Sweep

Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley has sued the federal government to overturn the section of DOMA that denies federal benefits to spouses in same-sex marriages. MA is the first state to challenge DOMA.

The ACLU, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights want in on the Prop. 8 lawsuit action to advocate on behalf of the LGBT community.

The mother of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the 11-year-old MA boy who killed himself due to anti-gay bullying, testified before Congress yesterday along with other parents, students, educators and psychologists on strategies for improving school safety and violence prevention.

An anti-gay group in Maine may have obtained enough signatures to keep marriage for same-sex couples from moving forward. The law allowing same-sex couples to marry is supposed to take effect on Sept. 12, but if the group’s signatures are verified, the issue will instead go to the public for a vote.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Morning Sweep

The National Education Association has adopted two resolutions calling for LGBT rights: one in support of equal rights for same-sex couples (they stopped short of endorsing marriage) and one in support of a federal law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. The NEA is the nation’s largest professional employee organization with over 3.2 million members.

Now that D.C. officially recognizes the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed elsewhere, the next step is marriage equality in the District.

USA Today editorializes against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Journalist Kerry Eleveld writes for the Huffington Post that she is not impressed with the condescending undertones of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ statement that he is seeking "a more humane way" of enforcing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Morning Sweep

A homophobic Brooklyn teen who murdered a gay man in Crown Heights in 2007 has been sentenced to 23 years to life.

A column in The New Yorkers encourages the LGBT community to stand up for its rights in the spirit of the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.

The militarty is investigating the murder of an openly gay sailor at California's Camp Pendleton as a possible hate crime.

West Virginia lawmakers are considering a state same-sex marriage ban.

The Gov. of Maryland stated in a radio interview that he is open to recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed elsewhere, but that his preference is still for civil unions in his own state.

D.C.’s law to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, a subject of much contention over the past few months, has officially taken effect.

In the meantime, former D.C. mayor and current city council member Marion Barry, a self-professed “moral leader” vocally against marriage for same-sex couples, has been arrested for stalking a female acquaintance.

Blessing of marriages of same-sex couples and the lifting of an informal ban on the ordination of gay clergy are expected to be top issues discussed at the 10-day Episcopal General Convention, which begins tomorrow in CA.

A Forbes guest columnist writes on the huge impact that the Dehli High Court's decriminalization of homosexual sex will have on culture in India.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Morning Sweep

NYC police believe that several recent attacks of gay men on the Upper East Side could be linked.

USA Today looks into some of the complexities of counting legally married same-sex couples in the 2010 Census.

Last weekend’s raid at a Fort Worth gay bar on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall has continued to make news and upset LGBT activists across the country.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Morning Sweep

The Pride Agenda’s Ross Levi and Somjen Fraizer, author of our new LGBT health and human services needs assessment, penned this column in the Huffington Post about the report’s findings and the need for more comprehensive health care and services for LGBT New Yorkers.

A new report by the New York Anti-Violence Project finds that anti-LGBT violence was down by 12% in 2008, but that the severity of the attacks when they did happen was increased.

Police are investigating two violent attacks of gay men on the Upper East Side in a span of just a few days.

David Mixner does an excellent job articulating the frustrations that many are feeling about Obama’s lack of action on LGBT issues.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is now investigating a Fort Worth gay bar raid that occured (coincidentally?) on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.

A court in India has made a groundbreaking ruling to decriminalize consensual gay sex, which was previously labeled an “unnatural offense” and punishable with up to ten years in prison. The Delhi High Court ruling, the first of its kind, applies only in New Delhi.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Morning Sweep

The New York Blade
writes comprehensively on our LGBT health and human services needs assessment, which found that there is still much work to be done in the state the close the gap in disparity of services for LGBT New Yorkers.

In a trial yesterday, a Syracuse military board recommended that Lt. Dan Choi—a national activist against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell—should be discharged for being openly gay. If this recommendation is followed, Choi will become the first New York National Guard member discharged for violating DADT.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is looking into ways to tone down the use of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell until the law can be repealed.

Matt Barber of the anti-gay Liberty Counsel penned this lovely op-ed in support of DADT for Oregon magazine. Our favorite hateful line: “It's understandably disquieting to wonder whether your foxhole buddy ‘has your back’ or wants to rub it.”

In a meeting with more than 250 LGBT rights activists on Monday, Obama reaffirmed his support for LGBT rights and asked for patience.

This columnist writes that Obama’s remarks to LGBT “hit all the right notes.” This editorial says his promises are great, but he should hurry up and take action. And this Washington Post story reports that not all LGBT leaders are thrilled at the idea of being “patient” and waiting for change.

The New York Times’ Frank Rich wrote eloquently on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, how far we’ve come since then, and how far we still have to go.

More stories on NYC Pride and the anniversary of Stonewall here, here and here.

Police in Suffolk County have arrested three people on charges of assaulting a woman while making anti-gay remarks, although the woman’s injuries are not severe enough for her attackers to be charged with a hate crime.

A hearing on a federal injunction to stop the Prop. 8 ban on marriage for same-sex couples in CA is scheduled for Thursday, but it is unlikely that the judge will allow marriages to resume before the federal trial on the ban takes place.

A proposal to lift the decades-old federal HIV travel and immigration ban is just a 45-day approval period away from finally being implemented.

New York Magazine’s Daily Intel has one of our favorite images from the Pride Agenda’s march in NYC Pride (See the last picture in the slideshow).

We're not sure how accurate this New York Times Style story on gay-straight male friendships is, but it's interesting nonetheless.