Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Morning Sweep

Openly gay Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell met with Gov. Paterson to talk about the open U.S. Senate seat on Monday. He put his odds of being appointed at about one in 10, or “about the same as the population of gay people in the world.”

More gay year-in-review roundups: The Advocate breaks it down by month and Bilerico goes for the top 10 approach.

USA Today’s “Year in Religion” review includes the battle over gay marriage.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Morning Sweep

The New Jersey State Division of Civil Rights has ruled that a lesbian couple can go forward with its discrimination complaint against the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association for refusing to let them use an oceanfront pavilion for their civil union ceremony. The pavilion, although owned by the religious organization, has often been made available to the public for ceremonies such as weddings.

Last week, President Bush signed a bill that makes it mandatory for businesses to roll over retirement benefits to a same-sex partner in the event of an employee’s death.

Time for the year in review: EDGE has its top 10 gay news stories of 2008, and Gay Wired has its political highlights of the year.

The first-ever head of the 13-year-old United Nations AIDS program is retiring, and the New York Times highlights some of his accomplishments, including giving a voice to marginalized groups such as gay men in poor countries.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Morning Sweep

New York Times columnist Frank Rich writes against Obama’s choice of Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration. Warren now claims on his church’s website that his positions on homosexuality are not as extreme as he has stated in the past.

CNN reports that an increasing number of single men – both gay and straight – are becoming fathers through surrogacy.

The shooting of Leeneshia Edwards in Memphis on Christmas Eve marks the third crime against trans women there in the past six months.

In its “Snapshots of 2008” series, a Ventura County newspaper profiles a gay couple married before Prop. 8 passed and a 20-year-old active Prop. 8 supporter.

A new study has found a direct link showing that gay teens rejected by their families are more likely to be suicidal and engage in risky behaviors.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Morning Sweep

Caroline Kennedy, who is in the running to replace Hillary Clinton as U.S Senator from New York, stated her support over the weekend (through a spokesperson) for full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

The Times editorializes in favor of marriage equality over civil unions. It calls to task New Jersey's state legislature, which continues to drag its feet on passing a marriage bill, even though Gov. Corzine has promised to sign the bill into law.

Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank expressed his displeasure with President-Elect Obama's selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama's inauguration.

North Country Public Radio's blog examines Obama's choice of Rick Warren within the larger framework of divisions within the Democratic Party. Ultimately when it comes to equality for LGBT people, says the blogger, political leaders cannot have it both ways.

Towleroad has coverage of of the "Light Up the Night for Equality" candlelight vigils that took place around the country on Saturday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Morning Sweep

For the first time ever, the issue of gay rights was brought before the UN General Assembly. Pressing for an "official declaration," more than 60 countries--mostly from Europe and Latin America--supported decriminalizing homosexuality. Shamefully, the United States did not support the declaration, citing "legal and technical" reasons.

President-Elect Obama responds to concerns from the LGBT community over his selection of anti-gay pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

LGBT activists across the country are taking a new approach to their opponents by helping several traditionally anti-gay faith-based organizations (like the Salvation Army in this case) with their holiday food drives.

New York native Bill White, the openly gay president of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, is being considered by Obama for Secretary of the Navy. If appointed, it would be the first time an openly LGBT person will be in charge of a branch of the military (which raises some obvious questions about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell")

The Victory Fund is not happy so far with Obama's cabinet selections, saying that "openly LGBT people are accepted and involved in nearly all aspects of American life, but they still will not have a place at the table at the highest reaches of their government" (via Joe.My.God)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Morning Sweep

Rick Warren, anti-gay marriage pastor of the Saddleback Church, will deliver the invocation at Obama’s inauguration, sparking the anger of many gay marriage activists. Towleroad has the Obama camp’s talking points on the reasoning behind their choice.

The City of Phoenix has established a domestic partnership registry to guarantee that same-sex couples have hospital visitation rights.

A new poll shows that 52% of Connecticut residents believe their state’s Supreme Court made the right ruling in legalizing same-sex marriage.

A British Columbia study has found that lesbian and bisexual youths are more likely to get pregnant than their straight counterparts.

A rewrite of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is cause for controversy among many, including some transgender advocates.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Morning Sweep

The New York Times editorial board writes that the anti-gay, anti-Hispanic murder of Ecuadorian immigrant José Sucuzhañay is “a reminder that bigotry can be deadly, not just to the groups intentionally targeted, but to anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path.”

The L.A. Times profiles a young gay Muslim woman from Queens seeking acceptance from her family.

As a follow-up to its cover story on the biblical case for marriage equality, Newsweek has a debate between a pro-same-sex marriage pastor and the anti-same-sex marriage vice president for public policy and research from the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Time magazine writes on Ivy League schools rethinking their policy of banning ROTC from campus – a move made largely because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Morning Sweep

The Binghamton City Council has passed a law to outlaw discrimination against transgender individuals.

Several Central Islip legislators are calling for the passage of a federal hate crimes bill after the two brutal immigrant killings that have happened in the past six weeks.

Queerty has an interview with the R.N.C’s Online Communications Manager, who says he believes his party has failed to embrace "the emerging role of gays in the Party and society at large – not as outcasts, but as equals."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Morning Sweep

Governor Paterson's marriage recognition directive continues to bear fruit: it was reported over the weekend that birth certificates will now recognize the married partner of the woman carrying a baby--regardless of what the partner's gender is--as the fully legal second parent.

As New York's first female High Court Chief Judge steps down, the Times editorializes on why Judith Kaye was exceptional, noting some of her decisions that espoused justice for LGBT people.

Hundreds attended a rally memorializing an Ecuadorian immigrant who was beaten to death because of his ethnicity and because, as he was walking arm-in-arm with his brother, he was perceived to be gay.

The Binghamton City Council is set to vote on a Human Rights Law that would make it illegal (among other things) to discriminate against transgender people. The bill is expected to pass.

The Buffalo News reports on an Episcopalian faith community that is moving from its old home and into a new, temporary facility after breaking from the diocese because of the Church's decision to consecrate an openly gay Bishop. The reporter, in my opinion, fails to capture the important other side of the story--the voices of the families within the congregation who support inclusion of LGBT people.

A columnist for The Forward discusses the non-issue of (relatively new) LGBT acceptance within the Conservative movement and then proceeds to artfully compare the Hanukkah holiday with coming out of the closet.

Shrek the Musical opened on Broadway last night, and Reuters noted some gay pride themes running throughout the show.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Morning Sweep

The New York City Anti-Violence Project says hate crimes against LGBT people may be on the rise for 2008.

Following the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission’s recent report, Gov. Jon Corzine said that the state’s civil unions law "hasn't done enough to narrow the gap" and that same-sex marriage should be established in New Jersey "sooner rather than later."

The vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals has resigned following backlash to his comments in support of civil unions for gay couples.

The West Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in which a lower court judge ruled that two lesbian foster parents are unfit to adopt the 2-year-old they’ve cared for since birth because they are a “homosexual household.”

Gay rights advocates are critical that the U.S. has not signed on to the proposed statement calling on the United Nations to condemn discrimination and persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Morning Sweep

Police in Buffalo are investigating anonymous anti-gay hate mail that was sent to several Elmwood Village businesses, possibly in connection to their inclusion in a LGBT-friendly shopping guide.

Police have now launched a homicide investigation in the case of the Ecuadorian man who died on Tuesday after he was brutally attacked while walking hand-in-hand with his brother in Brooklyn.

Obama’s pick to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley, is the first openly gay person appointed to a senior role in his administration.

Despite the lack of participation in yesterday’s “Day Without A Gay” protest, many activists supported the concept.

The New York Times writes on what’s being called a new generation of LGBT activists.

The Times also has the details of Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing on Iowa’s same-sex marriage ban.

New Jersey’s Civil Union Review Commission has concluded that the state's civil union law doesn't do enough to give same-sex couples the same protections as straight married couples, and that the legislature should pass a same-sex marriage bill.

Despite the Catholic Church’s opposition, the EU is still hoping to convince the U.N. to support a resolution to decriminalize being gay in countries where laws against it still exist.

Toe-tapping Senator Larry Craig’s latest attempt to appeal his guilty plea has failed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Pride Agenda Responds to Sen. Malcolm Smith’s Press Conference on Leadership Negotiations

Today we released the statement below following Senator Malcolm Smith's comments at a press conference discussing State Senate leadership negotiations. We'll keep you updated on this issue.

Statement by Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle

December 10, 2008 - “We applaud Senator Malcolm Smith’s ongoing efforts to lead the new Senate Majority that voters chose during the recent elections. By stating that reform in the Senate cannot include bargaining away civil rights, Senator Smith has once again demonstrated his commitment to standing up for all New Yorkers.

The Pride Agenda looks forward to continuing to work with Senator Smith when the legislative session starts. In the meantime we will be working with legislative leaders—Democrats and Republicans—and continuing to do what we’ve been doing all along: working with our community and our allies across New York, including those from communities of faith and organized labor, to earn the votes we need to bring the marriage equality bill to the floor of the Senate for passage.”

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Morning Sweep

New York police are investigating a possible hate crime that occurred in Brooklyn on Sunday when two brothers who were walking arm-in-arm were brutally beaten. Their attackers, who used anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs, may have attacked the brothers because they thought they were gay.

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that the state of Virginia must enforce a Vermont court order awarding child-visitation rights to the former partner of a child’s mother.

An international health organization has officially recommended the use of hormone blockers for children and teens diagnosed with gender identity disorder.

The Lesbian and Gay Band Association has been accepted to march in Obama’s inaugural parade as the first LGBT group to ever participate.

Lawrence King’s killer has been ruled competent to stand trial as an adult.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Morning Sweep (PM Edition)

A NY appellate court has rejected a Broome County trial judge’s denial of a name-change petition for a transgender woman. Although a court order isn’t required for a name change, it can be crucial for transgender individuals seeking official documents such as driver's licenses, social security cards and other forms of identification that reflect their gender identity.

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear arguments against the state’s same-sex marriage ban tomorrow.

This week’s Newsweek cover story focuses on religion and same-sex marriage and deconstructs many of the Biblical arguments against it. The issue also features a Newsweek poll that finds increasing national support for relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a legal challenge to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” can proceed.

An appeal to a Miami judge's ruling that Florida's same-sex adoption ban is unconstitutional will be filed on behalf of the state Department of Children & Families.

Socially conservative Anglicans in the U.S. and Canada are proceeding with plans to create their own branch of the church, despite warnings that official recognition could take years. The split from the Episcopal church comes in part due to the conservative members’ opposition to same-sex marriage.

The AP profiles the difficult life and untimely death of Duanna Johnson, the Memphis transgender woman who was beaten by the city's police and recently murdered on a street corner near her home.

The New York Times has an interesting story about the town of Juchitán in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, where the local people are accepting of residents they call "muxes" - transgender women who express their gender identities in many different ways.

In two separate cases, a US Appeals Court has found that gay men from Iran and Guatemala who have been denied asylum here should have their cases reheard.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Morning Sweep

Tis the season to be busy! We apologize for no Sweep yesterday. Here’s an update on what we missed and today’s news:

The Ali Forney center for homeless LGBT youth, formerly in danger of closing due to loss of NYC funds, will be able to stay open thanks to new Ryan White funding.

A NYC firefighter who was critically injured in a 2003 fight with a colleague after being targeted with anti-gay slurs for years has reached a $3.75 million settlement with the city.

Huffington Post provides an update on the progress in repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Mark Begich, Alaska’s new Democratic Senator, opposes amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and supports same-sex partner benefits.

A new poll finds that religion and economic status were the biggest factors in voters’ decisions for or against Prop. 8. Age and race played a less significant role.

GLSEN’s “That’s so gay” ad campaign, which aims to educate young people about homophobic language, has won an award from the national Ad Council.

For the first time ever, the U.K. will collect information on sexual orientation in its next population survey.

An Iraqi journalist has been jailed for violating public decency laws by writing a story about homosexuality.

India’s federal government has told the Delhi High Court that homosexuality is the result of a “perverse mind” and should not be decriminalized.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Morning Sweep

On Joe.My.God., The Pride Agenda highlights our work on marriage equality and our goals for the future in response to the New York Times' claim that we are in a "quiet period."

Time magazine writes on the Vatican’s opposition to a proposed U.N. declaration calling for countries worldwide to end discrimination against gay people.

A new GLAAD poll finds that 75% of U.S. adults favor marriage, domestic partnerships or civil unions for same-sex couples.

Although Arizona voters rejected a same-sex marriage ban two years ago, this analysis aims to explain why they approved it in November.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Morning Sweep

Gotham Gazette covers civil rights legislation that has been passed by the New York State Assembly and may pass in the newly Democratic Senate, with a big focus on same-sex marriage legislation and the politics surrounding the issue.

The Binghamton City Council listened last night to local advocates speak about the need for a proposed law that would protect against discrimination based on gender identity.

The Vatican is experiencing backlash over its announcement that it will oppose a proposed U.N. resolution calling on worldwide governments to decriminalize being gay.

The AP profiles retiring Massachusetts Justice John Greaney, who wrote an eloquent concurring decision in the state’s Supreme Judicial Court’s landmark ruling making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Virginian-Pilot writes on same-sex couples who have religious commitment ceremonies, despite the state’s 2-year-old same-sex marriage ban.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Morning Sweep

Today is the 20th annual World AIDS Day. Towleroad has a great roundup of related news, including this New York Times story about a new memorial to those who have died of AIDS .

The AP asks the question: are gay rights civil rights?

As the Iowa Supreme Court prepares to hear a case on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage next week, a new poll shows that 28% of Iowans support same-sex marriage and 30% support civil unions.

Haiti’s World AIDS Day march yesterday was a first opportunity for many openly gay people to show their pride.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Morning Sweep

This is the last sweep that we'll post until Monday, December 1. The Pride Agenda wishes everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

The Syracuse Post-Standard editorializes on the recent bias-fueled murder of a trans woman and suggests that Syracuse could use a "heavy dose of communication and education about transgender people and issues...A community's ignorance can easily morph into prejudice and violence."

A circuit court judge in Miami ruled yesterday that Florida's decades-old law banning same-sex couples from adopting is unconstitutional.

The reviews are in for Milk--and they're glowing: the Times' A. O. Scott said it was "the best live-action mainstream American movie I have seen all year."

A state commission in California will be looking into whether or not the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints overstepped the legal limits of campaign funding in their support for Prop 8.

The New Republic analyzes the likelihood of a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by the Obama Administration, noting that it's a much different situation that what Pres. Clinton faced in 1993.

Swedish tennis hero Bjorn Borg recently added a gay-friendly dating service to his website and is marketing it using a fabulous video of two priests getting married.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Morning Sweep

The New York Times editorial board writes on why California’s Supreme Court should rule Prop. 8 as unconstitutional.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board feels the opposite: that overturning Prop. 8 would overturn the will of the voters.

The only CA Supreme Court justice who voted against hearing the Prop. 8 case has a history of being supportive of LGBT rights, so legal experts are wondering what her motivation was.

The latest Prop. 8 opinion poll shows that since the election, 8% of CA voters have changed their mind and wish they hadn’t voted in favor of banning same-sex marriage.

A Florida judge will rule today in the case of a gay foster parent seeking to adopt the children he’s been caring for, despite the state’s gay adoption ban.

Legislators in Australia are expected to pass laws to give gay couples all the same rights as straight couples – just not same-sex marriage.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Morning Sweep

In accordance with Gov. Paterson’s instructions, The NY State Insurance Superintendent has issued a letter to insurance companies telling them that they must respect legal out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

Carmen’s Place, a Queens shelter for homeless LGBT youth, may be forced to close due to a lack of funds.

Obama may delay taking action on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” until as late as 2010, so he can first focus on “foundation building and reaching consensus.”

Nothing like a little not-so-friendly sibling rivalry to get the week going: Candace Gingrich, LGBT rights activist and sister of Newt Gingrich, wrote a scathing note to her “big bro” on Huffington Post in response to his recent anti-gay comments.

Protestors in Arkansas rallied at the state capitol against the ban on unmarried couples adopting and becoming foster parents. A two-thirds vote by the Legislature could overrule the discriminatory ballot measure.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Morning Sweep

A local news station in Syracuse covered yesterday’s Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) events.

Transgender activist Donna Rose reflects on TDOR.

SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) faces sizable budget cuts under the Bloomberg administration’s current plans.

Gay City News summarizes all the New York Prop. 8 protest action and gets reaction from local LGBT leaders, including the Pride Agenda’s Alan Van Capelle.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Morning Sweep

California’s Supreme Court has voted to review Prop. 8’s constitutionality, but opted not to allow same-sex marriages to continue until they hear the case in March.

The L.A. Times editorializes on the complexities of the Prop. 8 case.

The first in a series of gay rights bills being proposed in Utah – a bill to amend state law so that all financial dependents (including same-sex couples) could sue if a breadwinner suffers a wrongful death – is already meeting opposition.

The former police officer accused of beating Duanna Johnson, the Memphis trans woman who was recently murdered, has been indicted for exercising unreasonable force, using a dangerous weapon, and causing bodily injury.

The online dating site eHarmony has settled a lawsuit brought against the company for its refusal to offer matching services for gays. The site will launch a same-sex matching branch called Compatible Partners by March 2009.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Transgender Day of Remembrance Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Nov. 20, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a national day established in 1998 to memorialize transgender and gender non-conforming individuals who have been killed because of who they are. The Day of Remembrance is also a day to raise public awareness and increase education about anti-transgender violence, and it’s a chance to renew our commitment to ending the prejudice and discrimination that leads to these crimes.

As a tragic reminder of why the Transgender Day of Remembrance is so important, one person being memorialized this year is Latiesha Green, a 20-year-old from Syracuse who was murdered just last weekend.

Another person being memorialized this year is Lawrence King, the 15-year-old California student who was murdered at school by a fellow student who was disturbed by King's gender identity/sexual orientation. King's story reminds us of the urgent need for the Dignity for All Students Act in New York to protect students from bias-based bullying.

Also, let's remember is Sanesha (Talib) Stewart, 25, who was stabbed to death at her home in the Bronx. Her neighbors' stories of her sweetness and self-acceptance urge us to fight on for the New York Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).

There are Transgender Day of Remembrance memorials and educational events all over New York. Click here to find out more about events near you.

Sign up here to join the campaign for GENDA and here for Dignity for All Students, so that you can help bring us closer to the day that legal protections and social acceptance will overcome this hate.

Morning Sweep

The tragic victim of a brazen murder in Syracuse last weekend was transitioning, according to family and friends. Her murderer could likely be charged with a hate crime.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee told the ladies of “The View” that gay rights aren’t civil rights because LGBT people haven’t had violence committed against them. Oh really? Please see above, Mr. Huckabee.

A task force met in Islip yesterday to discuss ways to combat hate crimes.

The lead sponsor of a federal bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” says it could be passed within the first year of Obama’s presidency.

Queerty identifies several openly gay members of Obama’s transition team.

The group that won marriage equality in Massachusetts and Connecticut has announced its plan to win same-sex marriage in Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire by 2012.

The controversial plans for an LGBT high school in Chicago have been put on hold for at least a year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Morning Sweep

President-elect Obama’s transition website now lists his civil rights agenda for the LGBT community, including expanding hate crimes statutes, fighting workplace discrimination, supporting civil unions and federal rights for same-sex couples, opposing a federal DOMA, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and expanding adoption rights.

More than 100 retired U.S. military officers have signed a statement calling for the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

California’s attorney general has asked the state Supreme Court to review Prop. 8’s constitutionality.

The murder of Duanna Johnson, a Memphis transgender woman who had previously been the victim of police brutality, has revived scrutiny of her case.

The outgoing governor of Puerto Rico has prohibited government agencies from discriminating against same-sex couples, but the governor-elect might reverse the measure.

Monday, November 17, 2008

El Diario editorializes in favor of marriage equality

For those of you who can read Spanish, I strongly recommend reading this moving editorial from the highly-read El Diario La Prensa, New York's most widely circulated Spanish-language newspaper. It eloquently argues the need to support marriage equality and likens discrimination against LGBT people to discrimination based on skin color and nationality.

Igualdad de derechos para todos

Los latinos han luchado muy duro y por mucho tiempo por la igualdad de derechos. Por eso debemos unirnos y apoyar a un sector de nuestra comunidad que aún sigue siendo más discriminada que cualquier otra: los gays y las lesbianas.

Este fin de semana en todo el país hubo protestas contra las medidas que prohíben los matrimonios entre parejas del mismo sexo. La medida es golpe duro para esta comunidad en California, donde miles de parejas se han casado desde que la Corte Suprema de Justicia legalizó el matrimonio entre homosexuales la primavera pasada.

Tras esa decisión, el gobernador David Paterson anunció que los organismos del estado de Nueva York reconocen los matrimonios del mismo sexo realizados en otras jurisdicciones.
Sin embargo, aquí también hay fuertes voces contra el matrimonio gay, entre ellos está el senador estatal y pastor Rubén Díaz.

El reverendo Díaz y otros quieren quedar bien con todos: supuestamente están en contra de negarle derechos a los gays y las lesbianas, pero creen que el matrimonio debe ser entre un hombre y una mujer. Sin embargo, es esta misma posición discriminatoria la que sirve para excluir a las parejas gays y negarles sus derechos, sus beneficios y el trato que a los heterosexuales se les da por entendido.

Este uso de las creencias religiosas para bloquear los derechos civiles básicos socava la cláusula de separación de la Iglesia y el Estado en esta nación, fundamento de en el que se basaron algunos de los primeros colonizadores de América – Ellos huyeron de la persecución religiosa en otros lugares y salieron a buscar de la tolerancia y la libertad en el "Nuevo mundo".

Los latinos - así como otros grupos - deberían tener una conversación honesta acerca de la homofobia que hay dentro de nuestras comunidades. La discriminación sobre la base del color de la piel, el estado de inmigración o la sexualidad no es aceptable.

Al mismo tiempo, una agenda de los derechos de los homosexuales debe ser representativa del LGBT (Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales, Transexuales) y de los latinos y de las profundas injusticias que tienen que enfrentar. Es necesario cerrar las diferencias entre las luchas por los derechos de LGBT y las luchas por la justicia económica y social.

Morning Sweep

A tragic murder in Syracuse on Friday appears to have been motivated by sexual orientation and gender expression.

Marriage equality advocates rallied across New York on Saturday.

The L.A. Times editorializes that its unethical for the Catholic church to ban gay priests from serving.

Blackmail is commonly used against gay men in India, where homosexuality is a crime.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Morning Sweep

Newsday writes on Long Island same-sex couples who married in CA and now face uncertainty over the status of their unions.

A New York Times blogger provides personal anecdotes of the grief over Prop. 8 passing.

There is still confusion over when same-sex marriage in CA officially became invalid, as some couples were able to obtain marriage licenses after Nov. 4.

If legal challenges to Prop. 8 fail, reinstating same-sex marriage will most likely be on the ballot in 2010.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Morning Sweep

Gay City News covers last night’s protest against Prop. 8 in NYC and the backlash against the California marriage ban occurring across the U.S.

Much of the organizing against Prop. 8 nationwide is occurring online.

Same-sex marriages began in Conn. yesterday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Morning Sweep

Connecticut will start issuing same-sex marriage licenses today.

Same-sex marriage could come soon in New Jersey.

An op-ed in the New York Times laments the new Arkansas ban against unmarried couples adopting or becoming foster parents.

More than a third of California’s legislators have signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief in support one of the three lawsuits seeking to overturn Prop. 8.

Criticism over the way the “No on Prop. 8” campaign was run is now abundant.

The L.A. Times suggests the critics learn from the Prop. 8 mistakes and get ready to continue the battle.

Apparently, people who voted for Prop. 8 are annoyed by all the protests. Kind of like the protesters are annoyed by their hateful votes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rochester Volunteer Spotlight

A message from Todd Plank, our Western New York Field Organizer:

Bess Watts and Ann Tischer, volunteers who have been involved with the Pride Agenda for years, received the Community Leadership Award at the Equality Leadership Conference in Rochester on October 30. The Conference was attended by hundreds of business and workplace leaders from Western New York.

Bess Watts and Anne Tischer have been involved as Marriage Ambassadors with the Pride Agenda, and their energy and enthusiasm have inspired those around them.Watts, for example, is an active member in the County & State Employees Association (CSEA), one of the largest unions in New York State, and has founded a Pride @ Work Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter that is active in the Pride in Our Union program. Both are indefatigable activists who have elevated public consciousness of the injustices faced by people of color, the impoverished, and local laborers without fair representation, as well as LGBT people.

Morning Sweep

The Obama transition team has made it specifically clear that it will not allow bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity in its hiring.

A ruling on the legality of Prop. 8 could come as soon as this week from the California Supreme Court.

Arizona same-sex marriage supporters are rallying against their state’s marriage ban, too.

Gay rights leaders in Utah are planning on testing the Mormon church’s claims that it is not antigay. Gay and lesbian members of the State Legislature will sponsor a five-part legislative agenda including protections for same-sex couples in health care and hospitalization decisions, housing, and employment.

USA Today argues that same-sex marriage supporters shouldn’t push the envelope too far – they should aim for civil unions, instead.

TIME also looks at what’s next for gay rights activists.

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on same-sex marriage has been making news online – his emotional plea is particularly moving.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Morning Sweep

The Albany Times-Union reports that Canada is experiencing a same-sex marriage “mini-boom” from gay and lesbian New Yorkers who are choosing to wed there.

Nearly 300 gay rights activists protested Prop. 8 in California yesterday.

A protest against Prop. 8 is planned for this Wed., Nov. 12 in New York. Towleroad has details here.

The Washington Post editorial board expresses disappointment against all of the same-sex marriage bans that passed.

Calif. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hopes the state’s Supreme Court will overturn Prop. 8, and urges gay rights activists to “never give up.”

Antipathy toward Obama in Arkansas may have helped the same-sex adoption ban pass there.

The small city of Silverton, Oregon has elected the country’s first transgender mayor.

Anti-gay religious groups, enthusiastic about their win in California, are now preparing to fight against same-sex marriage in states like New York.

Pride Agenda Board Co-Chair Frank Selvaggi writes on David Mixner’s blog on the need for the LGBT community to recommit to the fight against inequality now that Prop. 8 has passed.

A Bilerico Project guest blog explains why Prop. 8 is devastating to straight allies as well as the gay community.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Morning Sweep

Gay City News and the AP write on the Democrats’ new control of the NYS Senate.

Opponents of Prop. 8 have finally, unfortunately, conceded defeat.

A CNN legal analyst predicts that the legal challenges to Prop. 8 will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Catholic Church and Church of Latter Day Saints have both released statements saying their support of Prop. 8 doesn’t have anything to do with bigotry or discrimination – rather, they are “preserving God’s plan” and protecting the “sacred and divine institution of marriage,” respectively.

Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate writes eloquently on the change the LGBT community can hope for in the future despite the setbacks we now face.

A L.A. Times editorial also sheds a hopeful light on the disappointing passage of Prop. 8.

The passage of Prop. 8 is already negatively affecting businesses that had benefited from the same-sex wedding boom in CA.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Morning Sweep

The Albany Project has a roundup of stories about New York’s new Democrat Senate Majority.

The New York Times summarizes the effects of the three new same-sex marriage bans in CA, AZ and FL. Thirty out of 50 states now have same-sex marriage bans, and while same-sex couples in CA will still be able to get civil unions, AZ and FL have no such option.

The Times editorial board writes on their disappointment over the passage of the four ballot measures that write discrimination against same-sex couples into state constitutions.

Several openly gay politicians won significant state and national seats in this election, including Jared Polis for U.S. Rep in Colorado and Kate Brown for Oregon Secretary of State.

CNN’s exit polls found that 27% of gay voters chose McCain. Towleroad is surprised.

Prop. 8’s passage has resulted in protests and legal action.

There is still much uncertainty as to whether same-sex marriages performed in California before Nov. 4 will be recognized as legal now that Prop. 8 has passed.

The “No on 8” campaign is holding on to hope – they say that until provisional ballots are counted, it’s too early to say if Prop. 8 has passed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Morning Sweep – Election Recap (PM Edition)

Pardon our lateness in posting the sweep – we’ve been recovering from being out in the field yesterday and seeing the results pour in. We’ll have much more on election results for you tomorrow!

The New York State Senate has flipped from a Republican Majority to a pro-LGBT Democrat Majority. Democrat Brian Foley defeated Republican incumbent Caesar Trunzo in Long Island and Democrat Joseph Addabbo defeated Republican incumbent Serphin Maltese in Queens, gaining two seats. There are now 32 Democrats out of 62 total Senate seats.

Barack Obama, President-elect, is already at work preparing his transition team.

Democrats also gained at least five seats in the U.S. Senate.

Four major LGBT bills will face the new U.S. Congress.

Connecticut voters rejected a ballot proposition to hold a Constitutional convention which would have opened the door to the possibility of a same-sex marriage ban there.

And now for the bad news: California’s Prop. 8 to ban same-sex marriage looks to have passed, according to the AP. Same-sex marriage bans in Arizona and Florida also passed. And Arkansas voters approved a ban to keep unmarried couples from becoming foster parents or adopting.

Gay rights activists react to the passing of Prop. 8.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Morning Sweep

The New York Times outlines the benefits that same-sex couples who are married or have civil unions typically have, versus those they still need to be concerned about.

The Daily News writes on the most hotly contested NYS Senate races.

The Daily News also summarizes the news surrounding Prop. 8.

Although Obama and McCain have both said they are against same-sex marriage on a federal level, McCain has endorsed Prop. 8 while Obama has spoken against it.

This past weekend, the L.A. Times made a final, compelling argument against Prop. 8.

Prop. 8 opponents made the final push against the same-sex marriage ban personal this weekend by going door-to-door and sharing personal stories.

The ballot measure calling for a Constitutional convention in Connecticut has same-sex marriage supporters there worried. The Conn. Attorney General urges a “no” vote.

Despite all the campaigning done for Florida’s Prop. 2 to ban same-sex marriage, polls still show it's short of the 60% approval required for it to pass.

Freshman U.S. Congressmen have made good on their pledges to support gay rights, according to HRC’s newest Congressional Scorecard.

U.S. World & News Report writes that gay adoptions may be the next big LGBT rights issue.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Morning Sweep

Gay City News writes on the Democrats’ battle for control of the State Senate and profiles important races, including several with candidates endorsed by the Pride Agenda. See our endorsements in our 2008 General Election Voter Guide.

Gov. Paterson will be campaigning in Long Island this weekend for State Senate candidates Brian Foley (SD 3) and Kristin McElroy (SD 6), who are both endorsed by the Pride Agenda.

The Vatican has released a report suggesting that candidates for Catholic priesthood go through psychological testing to weed out men with "strong homosexual tendencies," since being gay is a "deviation, an irregularity and a wound."

The “No on Prop. 8” campaign says its website was attacked by hackers and shut down for several hours on Wed. night. The “Yes on 8” campaign denies responsibility.

Out magazine’s story on the gay reporters on the campaign trail sheds light on this group of “boys on the bus.”

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, a writer explains how attending a friend's same-sex wedding was a politically meaningful experience for him.

A Huffington Post blogger writes on how important it is for straight parents to stand against Prop. 8 as allies of their same-sex counterparts.

A L.A. Times blog discusses the parallels between the political climate in the new Harvey Milk biopic “Milk” and the fight over today’s Prop. 8.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

2008 Progress Report

Gay City News’ 2008 Progress Report – a special section with reports written by local LGBT organizations, activists, and lawmakers – features a piece by the Pride Agenda’s Executive Director, Alan Van Capelle. In “Well Positioned for Victories,” Alan discusses how public opinion in New York State is on the side of the LGBT community. The other authors of progress reports include State Senator Thomas Duane, Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell, Marriage Equality New York, the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and the Log Cabin Republicans, among others. Alan’s report is below, and the rest of the Progress Report can be found here.

PROGRESS REPORT: Well Positioned for Victories
By Alan Van Capelle

Our community in New York has never been in a better place than it is now when it comes to winning equality and justice.

Two years ago, the Pride Agenda polled in key areas across the state to find out where New Yorkers stood on marriage for our families. In a State Senate District in Suffolk County, 57 percent of voters supported our freedom to marry while just 38 percent did not. In a Nassau County Senate District, the numbers were 58 percent in support to just 37 percent against; in a Westchester County District it was 51 to 41 percent; and, in a Rochester District, it was 51 to 41 percent.

Statewide, the overall number was 53 percent in favor of marriage equality to just 38 percent against.

This year we polled New Yorkers for the very first time about where they stand on passing a law outlawing discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment, and other areas of everyday life. A phenomenal 78 percent said New York should have such a law while just 13 percent said we shouldn't. This percentage is so high that it doesn't matter how you break down the data - by party affiliation, geography, or any other way - New Yorkers have arrived at a consensus that discrimination against transgender people is wrong.

The support we have from New Yorkers for ending discrimination and winning our equality does not happen by accident. LGBT New Yorkers have been working hard for years to educate their friends and neighbors about why marriage matters, about discrimination against trans people, and about the unsafe learning environments LGBT youth face everyday when they go to school.

Not only do poll numbers show New Yorkers are responding, but we also see it in the people who go to Albany to advocate for our issues. They're not just LGBT anymore. They're straight, they're union members, they're clergy, and they're business people. They're parents and neighbors, and they're from all over the state.

That's why I shook my head when I picked up the New York Times a few days ago and read that a spokesperson for the current leadership in the State Senate - a leadership that refuses to act on our top issues - said that our community's agenda is part of a "national left-wing agenda" and that it has no place in races for the New York State Senate.

When the leadership of the Senate majority says to the people of Suffolk, Nassau, and Westchester Counties and the City of Rochester that their opinions on an issue like marriage equality have no place in elections and are part of a "national left-wing agenda," they've got a problem. When it says the same thing about 78 percent of New Yorkers - Republicans, Democrats and Independents - who want an end to legal discrimination against trans people, they're showing just how far out of touch they are.

If this is the bubble the current leadership of the State Senate wants to live in, then that's their choice. If they want to write off the opinions of voters in Long Island, Westchester County, and elsewhere, then they certainly can, but they're also writing their political obituary.

New Yorkers long ago moved on when it came to the issue of discrimination - of any kind. They're not for it, plain and simple.

It took the leadership in the State Senate ten years after two-thirds of New Yorkers said they supported the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) and the Assembly first passed SONDA to get that message. That was too long, and there is absolutely no reason why our community should have to wait ten years for them to do the same thing with the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).

Since 2003, when same-sex couples began going to Canada to get married, New Yorkers have been learning about the importance of marriage to our families. More recently they've learned the startling fact that New York State provides 1,324 rights and responsibilities to a couple when it gives them a marriage license. Once New Yorkers have this information, they understand that access to marriage is about equality and strengthening families, and they move in our direction. With a majority of New Yorkers already on our side, these numbers will only grow larger in the years ahead.

I am proud of the way we've talked to New Yorkers about our issues. We have been respectful to those who disagreed with us, and we have worked hard to win their hearts and minds. I have also been genuinely touched by the ability of many New Yorkers to move beyond the false stereotypes they have of us and to better understand our community.

The leadership of the State Senate shouldn't be so quick to dismiss our issues or the opinions New Yorkers have on these issues. Times have changed and New York has changed, and, if they don't get that, they may very well find themselves dismissed by the voters on Election Day.

Morning Sweep

A front page Wall Street Journal article takes a look at same-sex couples who have gotten civil unions, domestic partnerships and marriages in multiple places, all in an effort to make their unions as secure as possible.

The New York Times covers Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban ballot measure. A similar measure was rejected by AZ voters in 2006.

If California’s Prop. 8 passes, experts predict a period of “legal chaos” for same-sex couples who married in the state between June and November.

California labor unions have not only donated money to the “No on 8” campaign, but have also included messages against the proposition in their campaign literature.

A legal opinion released by the Connecticut Attorney General says that all justices of the peace in the state must perform same-sex marriages and cannot opt out of the ceremonies due to their personal beliefs.

Voters in parts of South Carolina are receiving phony robo-calls from an unknown source that is claiming to be a gay rights group. The calls are trying to scare voters from choosing State Senate candidate Mandy Powers Norrell by saying she is for same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Morning Sweep

The Binghamton City Council is considering adding protections for transgender residents to its local human rights law.

The Ithaca Journal covered yesterday’s debate between the candidates vying for the 51st State Senate District, and challenger Don Barber – who is endorsed by the Pride Agenda – spoke about his support for marriage equality. Incumbent Jim Seward, a DOMA supporter, said marriage should be a union between a man and a woman.

With six days left until the election, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom (via Huffington Post) has suggestions for what you can do to help protect marriage equality in California.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Morning Sweep

Although the FBI reports all national hate crimes are down one percent from last year, anti-gay hate crimes increased by six percent.

A N.C. newspaper reports on the difficulty many gay victims of domestic violence have in finding help.

Scientists in Australia think they may have identified a genetic difference in transgender people.

Same-sex marriages should begin next month in Connecticut, after the appropriate paperwork is established.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Speeches from the 2008 Fall Dinner

Last Monday was our annual Fall Dinner, the Pride Agenda’s biggest fundraising event of the year. With more than 1100 supporters in attendance, we had a great mix of donors, activists, elected officials, and celebrities.

The night kicked off with our fabulous emcee, Whoopi Goldberg. From her sharp political and social commentary, one of our favorite lines of the night was: “If you oppose gay marriage, don't marry a gay person!”

We had a great musical performance from South Pacific’s Kelli O’Hara, and then heard from Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle. Part one of his speech is below:

(Click here for Part 2).

Our keynote speaker was Governor David Paterson, who spoke about his experiences with civil rights battles and pledged to continue to persevere for LGBT legislation, including marriage equality. Part one of his speech is below:

(Click here for Part 2).

Alan also spoke about Ralph Lauren, the recipient of our 2008 Douglas W. Jones Leadership Award. For that speech and more from the Fall Dinner, including Whoopi and our Board Co-chairs, Frank Selvaggi and Kim Kakerbeck, visit the Pride Agenda’s YouTube page here.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make the Fall Dinner a success!

Morning Sweep

Gov. Paterson’s remarks at the Pride Agenda’s Fall Dinner make more news in the New York Blade and Gay Wired.

A Detroit News columnist writes that the Northeast sets a gay-friendly example for the rest of the U.S.

With Election Day near, the New York Times sums up some of the action in the fight for and against California’s Prop. 8.

Many Justices of the peace in Connecticut are looking forward to performing same-sex marriages.

A L.A. Times columnist interviews Father Geoffrey Farrow, the well-publicized Catholic priest who recently revealed he is gay and opposed to Prop. 8.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Morning Sweep

Gay City News interviews Dave Noble, the director of LGBT voter mobilization for the Obama campaign.

Prop. 8 supporters are trying a new scare tactic – sending menacing letters to businesses that have donated money to help defeat the same-sex marriage ban.

The Wall Street Journal doesn’t think the California Teachers Association should have donated to the “No on Prop. 8” campaign.

The New York Times has an interesting story on Jörg Haider, a far-right wing Austrian politician who was recently outed after his death.