Friday, January 29, 2010

Morning Sweep

The New York Times editorializes in support of ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Next week the Defense Department will propose a "way forward" on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are expected to outline steps for a repeal during a special hearing on Tuesday.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Morning Sweep

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama pledged to work with Congress repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2010.

LGBT advocates had mixed reactions.

Testimony in the Prop. 8 trial ended yesterday and Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker gave no timeline for his ruling, but said he will take time to review evidence before hearing closing arguments.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A message from the LGBT Health and Human Services Network

The Pride Agenda recently released its 2008-2009 Health and Human Services Report for the New York State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health and Human Services Network. Below is a message from our Network staff in Albany:

The Empire State Pride Agenda is proud to announce the publication of the 2008-2009 Annual Report of the New York State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health and Human Services Network.

Each year, the Network helps to educate the State of New York on the health needs of LGBT New Yorkers and the resources needed to address these concerns. The Network Annual Report, which is informed by data collected by LGBT service providers in NYS, reflects the programs offered by Network organizations and the types of services that are being provided across the state.

The Network is a coalition of more than 50 community-based organizations that provides non HIV services to LGBT communities across New York State. Ranging from homelessness prevention and legal assistance to youth empowerment and mental health treatment, Network organizations are providing invaluable services to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.

In addition to maintaining the statewide infrastructure that keeps these organizations connected, the Pride Agenda works with Network organizations to advocate for the funding needed to continue their work. Since the mid-90s, the Pride Agenda has been successful in securing over $45 million for LGBT-focused organizations.

Like many not-for-profit agencies in the state, the Network’s organizations are struggling to meet an increased demand for services, even though public resources have actually decreased. Nonprofits across the state are being asked to do more with less, and Network organizations are no exception. Network member organizations have, for the first time, reported providing services in all 62 counties of the state. The members of the Network also increased services to LGBT youth by over 15% and engaged over 2,000 volunteers in the work being done in those organizations.

Despite a tough economic climate, the Network continues to serve LGBT New Yorkers and is looking forward to a challenging and successful year ahead.

Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan van Capelle announces departure

This morning, Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan van Capelle announced his departure from the organization.

As Executive Director for seven years, Alan has provided remarkable leadership for the Pride Agenda and New York’s LGBT community. Alan’s decision to move on to a new, exciting position comes at a time when the organization is stronger than it ever has been.

As he told the Daily News this morning, “The tremendous success the Pride Agenda has had over the last seven years may have been while I was executive director, but it wasn't solely because I was executive director...There are a lot of talented people who could lead this movement. My departure will provide an opportunity for somebody else.”

The Pride Agenda’s plan for 2010 is exactly the same as we have recently told you about—our talented staff and Board will work with our allies to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act early in the legislative session, and then launch an aggressive electoral campaign for the fall, which will put us in a position to win marriage equality in 2011.

Later this week, we’ll be reaching out to you again with even more details about 2010. We look forward to continuing to work with our amazing supporters as the Pride Agenda and New York’s LGBT community grows even stronger. As our organization transitions to new leadership, Alan will continue as Executive Director through February. Joe Tarver, the Pride Agenda’s current Managing Director of Operations who has been with the Pride Agenda for nearly 10 years, will then serve as Interim Executive Director as we move forward with our search for the next Executive Director.

Below is the press release with more information on Alan’s departure.

Seven-year tenure makes van Capelle longest-serving Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda

The Boards of the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation and the Empire State Pride Agenda, Inc. today announced the resignation of Executive Director Alan van Capelle. The Boards also announced that Managing Director of Operations Joe Tarver will serve as the Interim Executive Director while a search takes place for the Pride Agenda’s next Executive Director.

Alan van Capelle has accepted the position of Deputy Comptroller for External Affairs with the Office of the New York City Comptroller.

“Alan has provided remarkable leadership for the Empire State Pride Agenda and New York’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community,” said Board Co-Chair Frank Selvaggi. “Our community has taken significant strides towards winning equality and justice this past decade. During Alan’s seven years as Pride Agenda’s Executive Director, he has built an extraordinary record of accomplishment, by enhancing the organization’s reputation as a leader in the LGBT civil rights movement and ensuring the LGBT community is part of the political fabric of New York State in an unprecedented manner. Alan will be sorely missed at the Pride Agenda, but he has left an organization and a community stronger than they were seven years ago and for that we are enormously grateful. We are also incredibly excited for what lies ahead for Alan, and we are happy that others will now benefit from his enormous talents as he takes this new direction.”

“The Board, staff and our supporters feel great respect and affection for Alan,” said Board Co-Chair Mitch Karsch. “It was Alan's recognition that the Pride Agenda had to be more than just a lobbying organization in Albany that worked to advance our community’s objectives. He realized that Albany would never respond on important human rights issues like transgender non-discrimination and marriage equality unless non-LGBT New Yorkers were brought in and made part of a larger coalition that was energized to act. The local organizing programs the Pride Agenda built starting in 2003 targeting the faith, labor and business communities have resulted in a significantly broader base of New Yorkers who are demanding equality for LGBT people. It is also because of Alan’s commitment and leadership that we were able to: pass statewide laws giving domestic partners the same access spouses have to loved ones in the hospital and control over partner remains; and, to get record amounts of funding appropriated for our community’s health and human services needs.”

“When the LGBT community and our allies pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, marriage equality legislation and a bill combating bias-based harassment in schools—and we will—these grassroots organizing programs Alan conceived and implemented will be seen as an integral part of each of these victories,” said Board Co-Chair Frank Selvaggi. “In the meantime, while the Pride Agenda Boards undertake a search for the position of Executive Director, we will be moving forward with Joe Tarver and our tremendous staff to continue doing the work that is necessary to win here in New York State.”

Alan van Capelle said, “It has been an opportunity of a lifetime to work for the Empire State Pride Agenda over the past seven years. The amazing volunteer Boards, the talented staff, our many dedicated supporters, the statewide community and all of our allies, in elected office and elsewhere, have been a tremendous inspiration. I will always treasure that the Pride Agenda entrusted me with the responsibility to advance our community’s agenda in New York and I look forward to supporting the Pride Agenda’s work in the years ahead.”

Alan van Capelle will continue as Executive Director through the end of February. After that Joe Tarver, who has been on staff at the Pride Agenda since 2001, will serve as Interim Executive Director until a new Executive Director is in place.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Morning Sweep

A New York Times feature on TLDEF's name change project profiles the growth of legal services and specialists focused on transgender people in New York.

Plaintiffs in the Prop. 8 trial are likely to rest their case today and the backers of the marriage ban will begin to present their testimony.

The Hawaii Senate has approved same-sex civil unions. The bill now moves to the House.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Morning Sweep

Michigan State Rep. Paul Scott, who announced his candidacy for MI Secretary of State just five days ago, is causing major shock waves with one of his four top policy priorities: "to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance."

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is posting daily transcripts of the Prop. 8 trial here. Re-enactments of the important moments of the trial are also being filmed and posted here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Morning Sweep

Buffalo residents, including Mayor Byron Brown, are calling for increased public safety measures after a recent bias-based attack.

More children raised by same-sex couples have been taking active roles in campaigns and civil rights groups.

Another study has confirmed that being raised by same-sex parents has no different affect on a child's well-being than being raised by a heterosexual couple.

Cindy McCain has joined her daughter as a vocal supporter of marriage for same-sex couples.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Morning Sweep

Maureen Dowd interviews Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor who authorized same-sex unions in 2004, about his impeding exit from politics.

Just three weeks after New Hampshire's new marriage equality law took effect, The NH House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on proposed measures that would repeal it. The House is expected to reject the measures when they are brought to the floor in the next few weeks.

The Advocate has named Atlanta the "nation's gayest city." Guess they've forgotten about the little-known part of NYC called Chelsea.

Why not plan your same-sex nuptials as an exciting destination wedding...say, Mt. Everest?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Morning Sweep

The New York Times profiles Queens an area with an increasing acceptance of LGBT people, as evidenced by the success of newly elected out New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm.

The U.S. Justice Department has intervened in the case of a Mohawk Central School District student who says that the district failed to stop other students and a teacher from bullying him because of his sexual orientation.

The two men who attacked openly gay Jack Price in Queens in October have been indicted on hate crime charges.

The U.S. Rep. who helped create "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and is considered the top House Democrat for military issues has come out against overturning the policy because of the potential for "disruption" of campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will hear a case on whether or not the names of those who signed a petition to put Referendum 71 on the ballot in Washington state will be revealed.

Maureen Dowd interviews Ted Olson and David Boies, lawyers in the Prop 8 trial.

Although many same-sex couples spend thousands of dollars legal paperwork intended to afford them the same rights and benefits as their married counterparts, here's more evidence that these efforts still fall short of the protections of marriage.

GLSEN, the Trevor Project, and the Matthew Shepard Foundation are among 100 charities competing to win $1 million in a competition sponsored by Chase on Facebook.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Morning Sweep

The Supreme Court has ruled that none of the Prop 8 trial can be televised.

The New York Times
editorializes that this "could have been a moment for the entire nation to witness a calm, deliberative debate on a vitally important issue in the era of instant communications. Instead, the United States Supreme Court made it a sad example of the quashing of public discourse."

Lawyers for the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, are recommending a delay of at least a year in beginning the process to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

The Washington, D.C. City Council has projected that the District's marriage equality law would likely take effect on March 2, 2010.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lady Gaga hosting a benefit to support the Pride Agenda in Atlantic City this Saturday!

This Saturday, January 16, immediately following her Atlantic City concert, Lady Gaga will host “Hands Up for Marriage Equality,” an evening in support of the LGBT civil rights movement to support the Pride Agenda and other LGBT advocacy organizations. The benefit, held by Lady Gaga in conjunction with Out in AC, the LGBT signature event brand of Harrah’s Entertainment in Atlantic City, will be at Club Worship in the House of Blues at Harrah’s Showboat Casino. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Empire State Pride Agenda, Garden State Equality, Equality Pennsylvania and The Power.

Lady Gaga's shows in NYC sold out in a matter of minutes, so hundreds of members of the LGBT community and its supporters are already headed to Atlantic City this weekend to see Gaga in action. If you're already taking the trip, make sure to check out this amazing benefit after the show! And if you're still looking for something to do on your long weekend, why not plan a great night in Atlantic City and support the work of the Pride Agenda at the same time?

Lady Gaga has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT equality, joining the call for full civil rights protections for LGBT people at the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. last October and declaring her opposition to all homophobia and sexism in the music industry. “I am honored to be able to continue to raise awareness and money for this cause and these outstanding organizations,” she said. “Organizations like these are in the trenches every day working on behalf of all of us, whether you are LGBT or straight. Equal and full civil rights are supposed to be for all of us.”

Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan van Capelle encourages everyone who can make it to attend the benefit. “We are thrilled to be a part of this event,” he said. “Lady Gaga has been a passionate, outspoken ally to LGBT people, and she’s a great example of how celebrities can use their popularity to help secure equal rights for millions of Americans. We also thank Harrah’s Entertainment, which is clearly setting the bar high in its industry by being a model employer for LGBT people and by taking a public stand in support of legislation that improves the lives of LGBT Americans.”

WHAT: Hands Up for Marriage Equality, a benefit to support the LGBT civil rights movement hosted by Lady Gaga

WHEN: Saturday, January 16, 10 PM – 4 AM

WHERE: Club Worship, House of Blues at Harrah’s Showboat Casino
Atlantic City

COST: Admission is a minimum donation of $20 at the door. No advance tickets will be sold.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Morning Sweep

Despite Harold Ford's declaration that he supports marriage for same-sex couples, Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan van Capelle reiterated his support for Kirsten Gillibrand. Ford may challenge Gillibrand for her seat as junior U.S. Senator from NY.

The first day of the Prop. 8 trial brought personal testimony from Kristin Perry, the 45-year-old child services professional who brought the case with her partner and a male couple.

CNN lightens the mood with our favorite quote from the trial so far: ""[It's] like putting a Twinkie at the end of a treadmill and saying, 'You can only have a bite.' And you want the whole thing. ... All I want is to be married."

Newsweek profiles Perry and her partner, calling them "accidental activists."

Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court, acting on an appeal from the backers of Prop. 8, temporarily stayed U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to post video of the trial on YouTube.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Morning Sweep

A transgender woman who was subjected to harassment and later fired by the New York State Thruway Authority has been awarded more than $55,000 in damages by the state Division of Human Rights. She is still seeking reinstatement to her job.

State Senator George Onorato, one of the eight Democrats who voted against the marriage bill, has announced he will not run for re-election this November.

The Buffalo News writes extensively on anti-gay hate crimes in light of two recent attacks.

Buffalo Spree magazine, a regional Western New York publication, has a great story on the unique challenges faced by same-sex couples in their Weddings issue.
The federal Prop. 8 case begins today.

The New York Times
highlights the ideological differences between the two lawyers arguing against the proposition. One of them, Theodore B. Olson, outlines the conservative arguments for same-sex marriage in Newsweek.

An op-ed in the Times argues that the pre-trial rulings in the Prop. 8 case show that the judge is biased toward LGBT advocates' side. Judge Walker has ruled that things like TV advertisements, press releases and Prop. 8 sponsors' personal beliefs can be considered relevant evidence. He has also ruled that the trial can be televised, though not live.

The L.A. Times praises Judge Walker for allowing the trial to be televised.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Morning Sweep

The Buffalo News calls for tolerance and justice after two recent anti-gay hate crimes.

The New Jersey Senate defeated the state's marriage bill yesterday, 20-14. Same-sex marriage advocates have vowed to take the fight back to the state’s highest court, which in 2006 ordered lawmakers to give same-sex couples the same rights as others whether or not they called such unions marriages.

Here's a preview of the arguments on both sides of next week's Prop 8 trial.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Morning Sweep

The New York Times editorial board urges New Jersey legislators to vote in favor of marriage equality today and "show real leadership and stand up for the fundamental rights of New Jersey’s gay and lesbian citizens."

Christine Quinn has been re-elected as NYC Council Speaker.

The judge in the Prop. 8 case has ruled that footage of the trial can be updated daily on YouTube, but it will not be shown live.

Thirty-nine members of Congress have signed an amicus brief filed in D.C. superior court calling for a voter referendum on same-sex marriage in the District.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No Contest: Gillibrand is exponentially better than Ford, Jr. for LGBT New Yorkers

A note from Alan van Capelle, Pride Agenda Executive Director:

Today’s news that Harold Ford Jr, a former Tennessee Congressman and former candidate for the US Senate representing Tennessee, may seek to challenge Senator Gillibrand here in New York should be particularly disturbing to LGBT New Yorkers.

Ford supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In fact, he voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment both times it reached the House floor. He has also gone out of his way to condemn court rulings (New Jersey’s, for example) that called for equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples. During his last year in the House, Ford received a 25 (out of 100) rating on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard.

Ford’s anti-LGBT positions run in marked contrast with Senator Gillibrand’s unyielding support for our community. In the year that she has been in the US Senate, Senator Gillibrand has been an outspoken and passionate supporter of every single piece of pro-LGBT legislation that currently exists at the federal level. She has often led the charge in the Senate for calling for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” She became the first US Senator from New York to support marriage equality, and she actively lobbied members of the New York State Senate to support the marriage equality bill before it received a vote on Dec. 2, 2009.

For our community—and any New Yorker who cares about equality for LGBT people—there is no contest here. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand deserves our full support if she is going to be challenged by someone who has a dismal voting record on our rights—someone like Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee.

Morning Sweep

A Buffalo woman was stabbed after she and two friends were attacked by two gay-bashing women outside a downtown club following a New Year's Eve celebration. The attack occurred a little more than 12 hours after two Buffalo women were arrested on hate crime charges for attacking a 20-year-old gay man.

The NJ Senate is scheduled to vote on the state's marriage equality bill on Thursday.

Amanda Simpson, the first openly transgender Presidential appointee, says she's worried about being labeled a "token" pick, but she " intend(s) to do a far superior job than any other person" to prove that's not the case.

The Obama administration has added language to the federal jobs website that explicitly bans employment discrimination based on gender identity in the federal workplace.

Opposing sides in the federal Prop. 8 trial scheduled to begin next week are dueling over whether or not the trial will be televised.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Morning Sweep

President Obama has appointed a transgender woman, Amanda Simpson, to be a Technical Advisor at the Commerce Department.

Advocates in New Jersey are still hopeful that the marriage equality bill might pass before the state changes Governors on Jan 19.

The New York Times
editorial board calls upon the U.S. Government and others to make it clear to Uganda that if its anti-gay legislation becomes law, "it will lose millions of dollars in foreign aid and be shunned globally."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Morning Sweep

Today the U.S. officially lifted a 22-year immigration ban which prevented anyone with HIV/AIDS from entering the country.

New Hampshire officially began marrying same-sex couples on Jan. 1. The state passed its law in June, becoming the fifth state with marriage equality.

Three U.S. anti-gay activists may have been a driving force behind Uganda's proposed legislation to persecute gay people. The activists presented a series of talks in Uganda last March about "the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family."

The LGBT community in Uganda feels threatened by the high level of official government-sponsored anti-gay hate speech.