June 1 2009 – Southern Voice
U.S. grants asylum to gay Cuban: HIV immigrant ban stalled approval
by Lou Chibbaro Jr, Washington Blade
U.S. immigration officials have granted political asylum to a gay man from Cuba who said he would face anti-gay persecution and internment in an AIDS sanatorium because of his HIV-positive status if forced to return to his homeland. "It has been determined that you are eligible for asylum in the United States," the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services informed D.C. resident Raul Hernandez in a May 26 letter. "We’re just elated and relieved that justice was finally done in this case," said Christopher Nugent, Hernandez’s attorney.
Nugent, who disclosed the news about the asylum approval on Friday, said the favorable decision by the immigration agency marked the end of nearly a decade-long odyssey for the 40-year-old gay man, who first arrived in the U.S. in 2000. At that time, Hernandez intended to defect to the U.S. under a law passed by Congress in 1966 that provides an expedited process for admitting Cubans seeking to flee the Communist regime of Fidel Castro. But after a lengthy application and appeal process, Hernandez, who initially settled in Arlington, Va., was turned down in 2005 for admission under the Cuban Adjustment Act because he’s HIV positive.
U.S. immigration authorities informed him that the longstanding U.S. ban on HIV-positive visitors and immigrants would take precedent over the Cuban Adjustment Act, which normally provides an almost automatic approval process for Cuban immigrants. The Blade first reported on Hernandez’s plight last month. Last year, Congress repealed the law that put in place the HIV visitor and immigrant ban. However, the ban remains a part of a regulation carried out by the Department of Health and Human Services governing the admissibility of immigrants with potentially communicable diseases.
The Obama administration is currently taking steps to repeal the regulation, but the administrative process for removing it is not expected to be completed until late this year or early next year. AIDS activists this week criticized the Obama administration for not moving fast enough to repeal the regulation after as many as 60 Canadians complained that they were subjected to burdensome and "humiliating" hurdles in their effort to enter the U.S. to attend an AIDS conference in Washington because of their HIV status.
U.S. officials said the Canadians were eligible to apply for a waiver that would allow them to enter the country. The AIDS advocacy group Housing Works said the Canadians claim the waiver application process involved overcoming a number of unnecessary hurdles, including traveling to a U.S. consular office in Ottawa and being forced to reveal details about their personal medical condition on a form and in an interview.
Nugent said because Hernandez couldn’t benefit from the Cuban Adjustment Act, he had to assemble specific evidence to show that gay people and people with HIV are routinely subjected to discrimination, persecution and often are forced against their will to live in isolation centers created for people found to be HIV positive. "Mr. Hernandez…established that there exists a pattern and practice of state-sponsored and condoned persecution of political dissidents, openly gay men, and people with HIV," Nugent wrote in a legal brief filed with the Citizenship and Immigrant Services office. "These people are commonly quarantined in sanatoria, obviously in violation of their human rights, and/or sent to military prisons when considered dissidents," he said in the brief.
Spokespersons with the Cuban Interests Section office in Washington, which serves as an informal Cuban embassy, and with Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York, did not respond to requests by the Blade for comment on the Hernandez case. "This will bring real peace to his life," Nugent said Friday, in discussing Hernandez’s reaction to the asylum status. As someone approved for U.S. political asylum, Hernandez is eligible to apply for permanent U.S. residency status in one year. He currently works as a caseworker assisting HIV patients at Washington’s La Clinica Del Pueblo. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
June 01, 2009 – USAToday
President hails gay pride month
President Obama has issued a proclamation honoring "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Pride Month 2009." Gay pride month is observed every June to commemorate the "Stonewall riots," an uprising that took place in 1969 when police tried to arrest gay patrons at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The bar is shown here on the 25th anniversary of those events — widely viewed as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement.
Brad Luna of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights organization, says Obama’s proclamation is not a first: President Bill Clinton regularly recognized gay pride month during his second term in office. Luna says Obama is right in claiming that he has tapped more openly gay nominees for high profile posts early in his administration than any previous president.
Here are a few excerpts from the president’s proclamation:
"LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic. Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration."
June 01, 2009 – On Top Magazine
Nevada Lawmakers Approve Gay Partner Bill
by Carlos Santoscoy
In a stunning – and unexpected – come-from-behind victory for gay rights advocates, Nevada lawmakers have passed a domestic partnership bill over the objections of Governor Jim Gibbons, the AP reported. Assemblymembers agreed 28 to 14 Sunday – and Senators 14 to 7 Saturday – on the controversial bill that offers gay and straight couples limited benefits associated with marriage, including matters such as community property and responsibility for debt. Both votes barely nudged the two-thirds majority needed to override the governor’s decision.
“What a historic and amazing day for Nevada’s LGBT citizens,” said Tod Story, a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada. “Committed couples in Nevada who currently cannot get married or choose not to get married will now have the option of domestic partner legal protections granted by and recognized in our state. Nevada’s tradition of libertarian independence and self-determination continues with the passage of this law and these rights.” Passage of openly gay Senator David Park’s bill by override was unexpected. Four lawmakers – two from each chamber – flipped their previous no vote to yes.
In the Senate, two Republican senators, Dean Rhoads of Tuscarora and Dennis Nolan of Las Vegas, joined Democrats in approving the legislation. Nolan said he received many “ugly, vulgar and threatening messages” from opponents of the bill. In the Assembly, two Las Vegas Democrats came on board to seal the deal for gay rights advocates. Marilyn Kirkpatrick altered her previous no vote, while Jerry Claborn, who had been absent during the original vote, voted in favor of the override.
Gaming leaders, including gambling giant Harrah’s Entertainment, had mounted a lobbying campaign in support of the bill, saying a boycott of the state by gay and lesbian groups could devastate the state’s economy, especially in tourism dependent Las Vegas. Critics of the bill had argued that such unions are too similar to marriage and go against the will of Nevada voters who approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2002.
“We are saying to our citizens their votes do not matter,” state Senator Maurice Washington, a Republican from Sparks and a minister, said. “This bill is a slap in the face against the people of this great state.”
Parks, a Democrat from Las Vegas, said passage showed the state could be progressive and thanked supporters. “I could never have done it alone,” Parks said. “It was a wonderful, concerted effort on the part of lots and lots of people, right down to lobbyists who didn’t have anything to gain from it but thought it was the right thing to do.”
Nevada’s domestic partnership registry is the second major legislative bill to become law against the wishes of a governor this session. In April, Vermont lawmakers barely managed to override a gay marriage bill veto by Republican Governor Jim Douglas.
The new law goes into effect on October 1.
June 1, 2009 – PinkNews
Nevada overrides governor’s veto to provide domestic partnerships
byBy Jessica Geen
Nevada Assembly has voted 28-14 to override Governor Jim Gibbons’ veto of a law allowing domestic partnerships for gay and straight unmarried couples. During the weekend, the US state’s Senate voted 14-7 to override Gibbons’ veto, meaning the bill will become effective from October 1st. It will allow gay and straight couples the same responsibilities as married couples relating to issues such as property and debt, and also protect them from discrimination. No solemnisation ceremony would be required for domestic partners, who will be able to choose whether to have one or not.
State Senator David Parks, the bill’s chief sponsor, said: "I’m immensely pleased that the veto of the governor has been overridden. It’s a great day for fairness and equality in Nevada." The law means that couples, whether gay or straight, will be able to sign a registry at the secretary of state’s office and then pay a fee for a domestic partnership contract which offers some of the rights and responsibilities available to married couples. However, employers are not required to offer healthcare and other benefits to domestic-partner couples. In 2002, Nevada voted for a constitutional amendment specifying that a marriage can be between only a man and a woman.
June 3, 2009 – The Choice
Harvard to Endow Chair in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies
by Jacques Steinberg
Courtesy, Harvard University Archives F.O. Matthiessen (1902 -1950)
Harvard University will endow a visiting professorship in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies, a position that, it believes, will be the first endowed, named chair in the subject at an American college. The visiting professorship was made possible by a gift of $1.5 million from the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus, which will formally announce it at a dinner on Thursday, after Harvard’s commencement exercises. With the gift, Harvard said it would regularly invite “eminent scholars studying issues related to sexuality or sexual minorities” to teach on campus for one semester, according to a draft of a university press release.
The chair is being named for F.O. Matthiessen , a Harvard scholar and literary critic who “stands out as an unusual example of a gay man who lived his sexuality as an ‘open secret’ in the mid-twentieth century,” according to the release. Professor Matthiessen, the release added, “leapt to his death from the window of a Boston hotel room” in 1950, despondent, at least in part, over the death several years earlier of his partner, the artist Russell Cheney.
While lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies represents a relatively new field of study at American universities, Harvard’s would not be the first such endeavor. The first university program in gay and lesbian studies was established at the City University of New York in 1986, according to Harvard’s research. In the late 1990’s, Yale rejected the offer of an endowed chair in gay studies from Larry Kramer, the writer and AIDS activist. Yale later accepted $1 million from Mr. Kramer’s brother, Arthur Kramer, a money manager, to help finance what had become a growing gay and lesbian studies program.
June 4, 2009 – The New York Times
New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
by Abby Goodnough
Boston – The New Hampshire legislature approved revisions to a same-sex marriage bill on Wednesday, and Gov. John Lynch promptly signed the legislation, making the state the sixth to let gay couples wed. The bill had been through several permutations to satisfy Mr. Lynch and certain legislators that it would not force religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage to participate in ceremonies celebrating it. Some groups had feared they could be sued for refusing to allow same-sex weddings on their property.
Mr. Lynch, who previously supported civil unions but not marriage for same-sex couples, said in a statement that he had heard “compelling arguments that a separate system is not an equal system.” “Today,” he said, “we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities — and respect — under New Hampshire law.”
The law will take effect on Jan. 1. As originally cast, the legislation exempted members of the clergy from having to perform same-sex weddings. Then Mr. Lynch, a centrist Democrat, said he would veto the bill unless the legislature added language also exempting religious groups and their employees from having to participate in such ceremonies. Mr. Lynch also ordered that the bill protect members of religious groups from having to provide same-sex couples with religious counseling, housing designated for married people and other services relating to “the promotion of marriage.” But the House rejected that language last month by a two-vote margin, and legislative leaders appointed a committee to negotiate a compromise.
The committee last week recommended changes further emphasizing the rights of religious groups not to participate. They include a preamble to the bill that states, “Each religious organization, association, or society has exclusive control over its own religious doctrine, policy, teachings and beliefs regarding who may marry within their faith.” Republicans have called the committee’s work tainted because the Senate president, Sylvia B. Larsen, a Democrat, replaced one of its Republican members when that legislator would not sign off on last week’s compromise. Under legislative rules, the committee’s decision needed to be unanimous.
As more states have legalized same-sex marriage, opponents have increasingly lobbied for “conscience protections,” language that exempts religious organizations from having to participate. But many of the bill’s opponents believe the language adopted by New Hampshire and several other states does not go far enough because it protects only religious groups and their employees. New Hampshire’s bill does not exempt photographers or florists, for example, from having to provide services.
But groups that advocate for gay rights, some of whom poured money into the state in recent months, said the law was yet another step toward mainstream America accepting same-sex marriage. “As people get to know the loving and committed couples at the heart of marriage equality,” said Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, “our culture is moving to equality.” Kevin Smith, director of the Cornerstone Policy Research, a group opposing the bill, said lawmakers “rammed this legislation through” in a way that “reeks of backroom deals and a subversion of the legislative process.”
June 9, 2009 – indie Wire
Safety First: Daryl Wein’s “Sex Positive”
by Michael Koresky
Richard Berkowitz, the man at the center of Daryl Wein’s intelligent and engaging “Sex Positive,” is the ideal documentary subject: with his combination of self-effacement and daunting confidence, Berkowitz easily commands the screen throughout its short running time. Such an appealing figure is especially crucial for a film that focuses on a subject as potentially didactic and strictly educational as the promotion of safe sex for the gay community. Yet director and editor Wein smartly doesn’t use Berkowitz, a groundbreaking writer and safe-sex spokesman who contracted HIV in early eighties New York, as a mouthpiece for an agenda-driven doc; rather he presents the debates surrounding safe-sex discourse, and its connection to scientific theories surrounding the virus itself, as integral elements in Berkowitz’s biography. In a sense, Berkowitz, who’s all at once wily, compelling, articulate, and sardonic onscreen, is the hook: once we’re sucked in, though, we learn a great deal about the history of the epidemic, and the various responses to it, presented in a sharply linear fashion.
What makes Berkowitz—who nationally spoke and wrote on the practice of safe sex at a time when many gay activists, such as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis’s Larry Kramer, were trying to distance the community from such loaded terms as “promiscuity” and thus from Berkowitz—an engaging, even seductive, conduit through which to examine the era is not just his presence onscreen but also his personal history. One might call him a reluctant activist, if even an activist at all, as his seeming hesitancy to delve into certain aspects of his past helps reveal. Now a self-proclaimed “old fart,” Berkowitz, after coming out early and first showing signs of political engagement battling homophobia at Rutgers, had found his erotic calling as a hustler specializing in S&M. As the interstitial moments that open “Sex Positive”—showing an off-the-cuff Berkowitz arguing with the filmmaker about not wishing to discuss his once-upon-a-time sexual practices—illustrate, he doesn’t want to dig up stuff that had once stigmatized him, and perhaps even damaged his promise as an important voice in the battle against AIDS.
June 16, 2009 – CNN
Commentary: Transgender people are everywhere
by Donna Rose: Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Donna Rose is a speaker and advocate for transgender and transsexual issues. She is the author of a memoir, "Wrapped In Blue: A Journey of Self-Discovery." Her Web site is http://www.donnarose.com/
CNN – It was only a matter of time. The real-life drama of being transsexual has come to Hollywood. Chastity Bono, the impossibly cute little blond girl who, for many of my generation, remains frozen in time as the sweet, chubby-faced cherub closing many a Sonny and Cher show in the arms of her doting parents, recently announced that he is transsexual and will be transitioning from female to male. He will go by the name of Chaz. As shocking as this news may be to some, it is yet another reminder that all is not necessarily as it appears and that each of us is more complicated than simply the skin and bones of our bodies. Rather, it is our heart and spirit that defines us.
Transgender people — that is, people who may not experience or express their gender in ways that are necessarily typical for the physical sex of their body — have been part of the fabric of cultures for as long as history has been recorded. We’re a cross-section of society — pilots, engineers, doctors, factory workers, artisans and pretty much anything else you can imagine. It was only a matter of time before we came to Hollywood. Make no mistake — Chaz isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last.
Despite what others choose to believe, transsexual people are no longer relegated to hiding in safe little shadows for fear that society will detect them and punish them. We are far more than traditional stereotypes of transpeople as hookers, drug-users, porn stars or social misfits relegated to the fringes of society. In a very real sense, transgender people are no one thing. We are everyone, everywhere. Whether you realize it or not, we go to your school, we are active in your communities of faith, we are your neighbors, your co-workers, your family members.
We live in a world that tries to force all of us to conform to the expectations and roles established for our bodies at birth, yet our heart and our spirit often realize that we have been miscast in life. We are forced to ask questions of ourselves about things that few ever consider. The search for answers is indeed the pathway for overall happiness and fulfillment in life. This is a journey that each of us is on — trans and not — and the simple fact of the matter is that the transgender journey may appear unique, but the end goal is a universal one: Happiness.
June 17, 2009 – PinkNews
Obama’s gay federal benefits ‘not permanent and won’t include healthcare’
by Jessica Geen
President Barack Obama is to extend federal benefits for partners to same-sex couples but critics have said the move will not be permanent, probably won’t include healthcare and will not be applied to those serving in the military. According to reports, he will today sign a presidential memorandum equalising benefits for federal workers. The concession comes after a Department of Justice decision last week to defend DOMA, or the Defence of Marriage Act. However, it has been suggested that the move will not be permanent.
Speaking on the Rachel Maddow show, Chuck Todd of NBC News said that because this is only a "memorandum", it will expire when Obama leaves office. Meanwhile, Advocate.com reports that health benefits will not be included due to legal obstacles posed by DOMA. It is also unclear how those serving in the US military would access benefits for their partners, as it would require them to out themselves, something which is grounds for dismissal. DOMA allows states to reject gay marriages performed in other states and bars gay couples from accessing federal benefits.
The Justice Department’s defence of the law last week invoked incest and child marriage as part of its legal argument, infuriating gay activists. Others said he had essentially declared gay rights less important that black rights, on the anniversary of Loving v Virginia which struck down laws against interracial marriage in the state. In May, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled equal benefits for gay partners of US diplomats stationed overseas. Howard Berman, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had asked the State Committee to ensure benefits such as medical care, transport between postings and security training were offered to same-sex partners.
June 19, 2009 – Examiner.com
Gay pride around the world
by Leslie Davis – Atlanta Lesbian Relationship Examiner
Gay Pride is taking places in cities around the world this month. I’ve been browsing the festivities, appreciating the festivities vicariously through friends and strangers. China’s first gay pride festival closed in Shanghai on Sunday after a week marred by authorities’ last-minute cancellation of events. Events for Shanghai Pride were organized at private venues, without a public parade, to avoid attracting unwanted official attention. Evidently their effort to ‘fly beneath the radar’ was less than successful. Shanghai authorities prevented a film screening and a play and police patrolled Saturday’s major events. The festival had to take place discreetly in order to go ahead.
From GlobalPost: Shanghai, like many Chinese cities, has a vast and vibrant gay scene that operates with little interference from Beijing. The government’s hands-off approach is sometimes called the Triple No Policy: no approval, no disapproval, no promotion. It is the Chinese equivalent of "don’t ask don’t tell," an opaque tactic that critics claim leaves both activists and ordinary people caught in an invisible web of rules that dictate when and how you can and, or can’t, be gay. China’s gay community is estimated to be around 30 million, though it is difficult to accurately approximate in a country where homosexuality is heavily stigmatized. China de-criminalized gay sex in 1997, though homosexual behavior was officially viewed as a mental disorder until 2001. Some government-funded medical institutes are still trying to find a "cure" for homosexuality. None of the mainstream media carried any reporting about Shanghai Pride on Sunday.
In Croatia, approximately 300 people gathered last Saturday at the 8th Gay Pride parade in Zagreb, uniting under the slogan "Destroy fascism, support gay activism." The event was marred by verbal clashes between gay and anti-gay groups. A group of around 200 nationalists gathered, shouting insults and carrying slogans such as "Gay parade, shame of our city," "Birth rate is dropping" and "Gays today, pedophiles tomorrow." Police intervened, arresting four people. The annual parades are commonly marred by violence due to the perception that sexual minorities are “sick" and "deviant."
In Israel more than 20,000 gays, lesbians and onlookers turned out for Tel Aviv’s 11th annual Gay Pride Parade on Friday, June 12. A small group of right-wing and religious protesters demonstrated, holding up banners reading: "God hates debauchery." Interior Minister Eli Yishai had tried to convince Prime Minister Netanyahu to cancel the parade. Five gay couples wed Friday in a ceremonial marriage on Tel Aviv beach, at the culmination of the city’s 11th annual Gay Pride Parade. The ceremony, held at sundown, after an all day disco on the beach, began with a serenade by gay pop star Ivri Lider. Three female and two male couples exchanged vows.
Jerusalem will host its own pride parade on June 25th, an event that has previously sparked fierce opposition from Jewish and Muslim clerics and politicians.
Never at the forefront of gay tourism, Switzerland hosted Euro-Pride throughout May, 2009 in Zurich. The parade was held on the final weekend, June 6, 2009. Organizers say 50,000 people attended. Though Zurich may not leap to mind as a primary destination for gay travelers, Switzerland has one of the best developed gay infrastructures in the world, with many places to socialize regardless of how much or how little clothing you choose to wear. The home page of the Zurich police department says that their central preoccupation is “Sicherheit als Grundlage einer toleranten und freien Gesellschaft.” Translation: Safety as the foundation of a tolerant and free society. I wish more local police departments would put this mission on their home page.
Last weekend São Paulo, Brazil hosted the largest gay pride in the world, with over 3 million people in attendance. Dancing and waving rainbow flags, people jammed Sao Paulo’s main boulevards for the 13th annual gay pride parade. Marchers carried signs condemning homophobia and demanding equal rights. Sunday’s carnival-like parade drew gay men, lesbians, cross-dressers and many heterosexual couples with their children for a massive march down skyscraper-lined Avenida Paulista to the beat of loud music blasting from 20 sound trucks. There were two attacks reported. A man was attacked by a group of men on the street in a gay neighborhood and beaten. He suffered brain injuries and remains in a coma. In a separate incident, 21 people were injured when a home-made bomb exploded was detonated in the crowd.
In New York City, Pride celebrations center around five events held during the fourth week of June, from June 20-28, 2009: The Rally, PRIDEfest, The March, the Dance on the Pier, and Rapture on the River. The events all take place in the West Village, very close to the city’s other gay-popular neighborhoods like Chelsea and the East Village. This year is expected to be impressive since it is the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.
There’s have been many festivals held worldwide this far and there are many more to come throughout the rest of the summer. I look forward to enjoying the revelry from my living room.
June 21, 2009 – New York Magazine
The Gay Generation Gap
Forty years after Stonewall, the gay movement has never been more united. So why do older gay men and younger ones often seem so far apart?
by Mark Harris
These unnuanced generalizations, as everyone who makes them quickly notes, do a gross injustice to both groups. The gay communityor more accurately, communitiesis hardly monolithic, and its divisions, not just of age but of race, gender, region, and income, are too complex to paint with a broad brush. And Pride Weekwhich this year falls on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riotsis a reminder that we have always been able to unite when faced with either a common cause or a common enemy. It’s when we’re not on the front lines that tensions flare. On its simplest level, says Jon Barrett,40, the editor-in-chief of the 42-year-old gay magazine The Advocate, we think they’re naïve. And they think we’re old.
Even on those front lines, it’s a complex moment. Last November, eight days after the election, I found myself marching with thousands of gay men, lesbians, and friends of the cause from Lincoln Center to Columbus Circle to protest the passage of Proposition 8 in California. The air was charged; many of us were eager to call out the enemya well-organized, well-financed coalition of conservatives who were using churches as political-action bases designed to roll back civil rights for gay Americans. And our response was anger. We held up signs with slogans like Tax This Church! We yelled ourselves hoarse.
But the demeanor of many of the young attendees felt unfamiliar to older protesters. They were smiling more than seething, and I noticed that many of their picket signs "Let Me Get Married, Love Isn’t Prejudiced, NYC Loves Gay Marriage" were more like let-the-sunshine-in expressions than clenched fists. Shouting did not come as naturally to them.
Activism is an unlikely realm in which to spot a generation gap; by definition, a rally attracts people who identify themselves by a shared goal. But it’s sometimes an uneasy union; the march marked an encounter between age groups that, although part of the same community, had previously spent little time together. And a difference in outlook was unmistakable. After Prop 8 passed, a tremendous number of young people who had never been to a protest before wanted to release that energy, says Corey Johnson, the event’s 27-year-old organizer. And that night was a great example of the two generations being bridged in a productive way. But my impression is that there is a difference. Young people are, I think, upset, but it’s not with the level of anger that a lot of older folks feel, and perhaps there’s more hopefulness involved.
To many young gay people, the passage of Prop 8 was shocking but not alarming; it has jolted them into action, but one suspects it’s out of a Milk-fed belief that identity-politics activism can be ennobling and cool. What doesn’t seem to be driving them is fear; their cheerful conviction that history is going their way seems unshakable compared to ours. That can lead to callousness on both sides; we patronizingly warn them that their optimism is dangerous; they patronizingly tell us that we’re too embittered by our own past struggles to see the big picture.
The notion that anger no longer has a primary place in the gay-rights movement can feel awfully uninformed to anyone raised on the protests of the late eighties, when say-it-loud outrage was one of the movement’s only effective weapons. To some of those whose identities as both homosexuals and activists were forged in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, this new aura of serenity is way too Kumbaya. It’s hard to overstate the centrality of the AIDS crisis in any gay generation gap (the divide between those who are currently 45 and their elders once yawned at least as wide). If you want to know where you stand in gay history, ask yourself where you were in 1982, when the disease took hold in public consciousness. If you were already sexually active by then and you’re still here to read this, you are someone who surely knows that fury has its uses. If you were in your teens, wondering how to take even your first steps into life as a gay man in a world in which a single encounter could become a death sentence, you understand fear, and its warping effects down through the decades. And if you were a kid, you grew up seeing AIDS as an unhappy fact of life.
But what about the ever-growing cohort of gay men who weren’t even born in 1982? For most of them, AIDS is not their past but the past. No wonder some of us feel frustrated; when we complain that young gay men don’t know their history, what we’re really saying is that they don’t know our historythat once again, we feel invisible, this time within our own ranks.
June 25, 2009 – PinkNews
White House to hold gay Pride reception
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The President of the United States is to mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots with a reception for LGBT people at the White House. The event will be held on June 29th. “Next Monday’s event is a chance for the White House to recognise the accomplishments of LGBT Americans," White House spokesman Shin Inouye said. "Invited guests include families, volunteers and activists, and community leaders. This event was long planned as a way to applaud these individuals during Pride month.”
Barack Obama’s election as President last November brought hope to many in the gay community, but since he took office in January there has been frustration at the slow pace of change on issues like gays in the military.
Out gay Congressman Barney Frank has urged LGBT people to stick with Obama. "The notion that if someone doesn’t agree with you 100 percent, then you shouldn’t be supportive of him, versus someone who disagrees with you 100 percent, is very bad politics," he said.
July 1, 2009 – San Francisco Cronicle
Panel wants openly gay guardsman discharged
by Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
A military review panel recommended Tuesday that National Guard Lt. Dan Choi, the gay Arabic translator who became a national figure in fighting the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy after declaring his sexuality on television, be discharged from the service. The four-member Federal Recognition Board of Army officers in Syracuse, N.Y., had no recommendation Tuesday for how the 28-year-old should be discharged. It’s recommendation that the Army no longer recognize Choi as an officer must be approved by the First Army commander and the chief of the National Guard Bureau before Choi would be discharged.
Choi’s attorney, Maj. Roy Diehl, said the process could take weeks or up to a year. For now, Diehl said Choi, who was a grand marshal in Sunday’s Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco, will "continue drilling" with his New York National Guard unit. Tuesday’s decision was especially painful to gay leaders after watching President Obama preach patience Monday at a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that are considered the birth of the modern gay rights movement.
"I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy – patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who’ve served this country well," Obama said Monday. He had continually pledged to overturn the law as a candidate.
"But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it’s the right thing to do but because it is essential for our national security," Obama said. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Pentagon lawyers are trying to make the law more flexible until it is changed. "And the issue that we face is, how do we begin to do preparations and, simultaneously, the administration move forward in asking the Congress to change the law?" Gates said.
Still, some analysts say Choi’s case is another example of how Washington leaders aren’t showing much urgency – or leadership – in overturning "don’t ask, don’t tell." Obama has said he wants Congress to overturn the law; congressional leaders have said that they are waiting for the president to take the lead; and military leaders say they won’t change the policy unless directed by Congress. "It’s a hot-potato party," said Nathaniel Frank, a research fellow at the Palm Center, a UC Santa Barbara think tank. "Democrats have the mistaken impression that if they lead on something that smells like a culture war issue – or if they go against the military – they will get pounded. But that’s not true. Public opinion is with them."
Last month, a Gallup Poll found that 69 percent of Americans would "favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military" – up six percentage points from November 2004. The survey found that 58 percent of conservatives and 60 percent of weekly churchgoers felt the same way. The Obama administration doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the Clinton administration, which took a major political beating when it tried to fulfill its campaign promise of overturning the gays-in-the-military ban shortly after Bill Clinton took office in 1993, political analysts say. That year, 44 percent of respondents to a Washington Post-ABC News poll said those who are openly gay should be allowed to serve in the military.
Choi became a national spokesman for gay rights when he said "I am gay" on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show in March. At Tuesday’s hearing, he presented 150 letters and more than 250,000 signatures on a petition supporting him.
E-mail Joe Garofoli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
02-Jul-2009 – Gay & Leabian Times
Gay soldier at Camp Pendleton murdered
GLT exclusive Guest Commentary
by Nicole Murray-Ramirez, San Diego City Commissioner and Chair of the San Diego Human Relations Commission
We all know there has always been a “gay network” on Capitol Hill and in the White House, regardless of whether there is a Republican or Democratic at the head of the administration. In fact, there is a “gay network” everywhere we are: in the entertainment industry, the media and in the military. We are and always have been everywhere.
In the early morning of Tuesday, June 30, the body of 29-year-old gay sailor, Seaman August Provost, was found in a guard shack at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside. Soon after the 3 a.m. discovery, the “gay network” on base began reaching out to the GLBT community. Serious concerns were rising by late afternoon, because no official announcements of this murder were being made, although internal reports were being written and passed along through the military brass.
Calls about the murder swarmed in while hours passed and both gay and straight military sources continued to grow more concerned. Activists within the GLBT community began receiving reliable and very accurate information about the murder as it was being reported on base long before mainstream media began investigating the story and reporting it to the public.
On Wednesday morning, Ben Gomez, from the San Diego Chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights, began discussing our deep concerns about the fact that there as no public media coverage about the murder.
I began to receive reports from sources on base that Seaman Provost was not only gay, but that he had possibly been harassed by other servicemembers for his sexual orientation and for being perceived as gay. Some reports that came from the base even stated that Provost may have been the subject of anti-gay harassment only hours before he went on duty and was killed. Yesterday, Wednesday, July 1, an official flag raising ceremony of the Rainbow Flag was held at the Navy Training Center Liberty Station to officially kick off San Diego Pride Month.
As I arrived at the event at which I was speaking, I received more information from sources on base about the murder that occurred 24-hour prior. I spoke with officials from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and the American Veterans for Equal Rights, who joined me as Chair of the San Diego Human Relations Commission (HRC) in asking for a complete investigation on this possible hate crime. Last month the HRC voted to urge the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and officially requested the San Diego City Council take an official stance on the repeal of the policy.
July 2, 2009 – The Examiner
Raid on the Rainbow Lounge, Ft. Worth Texas
by Arthur Hampton – Dallas Gay Relationships Examiner
In the early morning hours of June 28th, on the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we were given an excellent reminder of what the gay rights movement is all about. The Rainbow Lounge is a gay bar in Fort Worth. It is a relatively new bar in a rather non descript part of town- definitely not what one would consider to be top of the hour news, yet after the events of this past weekend it is making national headlines.
Shortly after midnight, the patrons of the Rainbow Lounge were interrupted by several policemen and TABC agents who- according to many eyewitnesses-used unnecessary force to detain twelve people. Four men and one woman ended up being arrested for public intoxication. According to eyewitnesses, the police and TABC were not wearing clothing that identified them and their organization. The TABC agents were simply wearing t-shirts that had the words “State Police” on the back of them. This seems as if it was meant to intentionally confuse people and perhaps antagonize the people at the bar. The TABC and police apparently showed up with a paddy wagon also. It is interesting that they did not feel the need to have the paddy wagon at the two previously raided bars.
Chad Gibson, one of the arrested, sustained serious injuries while in the custody of the police. The police are claiming that he fell and hit his head because he was so drunk, however, eyewitnesses and a photo showing Chad being treated very poorly beg to differ with this claim. The police and TABC agents are excusing their behavior against Gibson due to the fact that he “groped one of the officers in a sexual manner.” This cannot be confirmed by eyewitnesses.
Chad was released from police custody and into the hands of paramedics a little after two in the morning after he had lost consciousness. Whether this was due to his head trauma or the effects of alcohol is unclear. What is clear, however is that it didn’t have to happen. The use of unnecessary force by the Fort Worth Policemen and these agents from the TABC could have severely damaged Mr. Gibson for no reason. At the time of the writing of this article, Mr. Gibson’s situation has been downgraded from serious to fair.
There are many different opinions on the events of this night. Some people think that the police and TABC were well aware of the Stonewall Riots and the significance of the date. They think that they raided the bar with the full intention of causing trouble for the gays and lesbians that were at the Rainbow Lounge enjoying themselves. Given the circumstances of the evening, this seems a viable conclusion.
Another school of thought is that this was not intended as a gay bashing, but the use of excessive force leads to a violation of civil rights. This notion is supported by the fact that the Police and TABC raided two bars before the Rainbow Lounge. One was apparently a Latino bar and the other was what has been referred to as a mixed bar. Whatever the actual reasons behind this horrible occurrence, the fact of the matter remains that it should not have happened in the first place. Neither the police nor the TABC have the right to treat people in the manner in which they were treated in this instance.
The overall sentiment is one of anger and disbelief- the GLBT community in the DFW Metroplex has always had a reasonably healthy relationship with their respective police departments. This is a shock not only because it is such a rare occurrence, but because it seems such a senseless one. The TABC and the Fort Worth Police Department are being called upon to investigate the situation. Equality Texas and the Human Rights Campaign are both demanding that something be done and Lambda Legal has offered to foot all the legal bills. Twelve different law firms in the Dallas area alone have offered their services for free.
Eyewitness accounts and much more information is available on the Rainbow Lounge Raid facebook page. Please join and show your support.
July 06, 2009 – OnTop Magazine
Wisconsin Recognizes Gay Unions With Partner Benefits
by On Top Magazine Staff
Wisconsin lawmakers approved recognition of gay unions with the passage of a domestic partner registry last week, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported. The state becomes the first with a constitutional amendment banning marriage and civil unions for gay and lesbian couples to recognize their unions. Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, lobbied for the legislation, which extends a limited number of protections for gay couples, by including the language in his biannual state budget unveiled in February. Democrats, who control the Legislature, gave him a standing ovation.
“This isn’t an issue of being gay or straight – we are not judging people’s lives here,” Doyle said in his budget address to the Legislature. “But I don’t want the state to stand in the way of someone being able to care for their long-term partner. And I don’t want the state to be less competitive at our university and other institutions because we don’t treat people fairly.”
Four states – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa – have legalized gay marriage in 2009, but several states are moving more cautiously, providing basic protections for gay couples first, including Wisconsin, Washington State, and Nevada. In Washington State, lawmakers agreed to extend a domestic partnership law to include all the rights and obligations of marriage, a move being challenged by opponents. All three states prohibit gay marriage by law or constitutional amendment.
Opponents, who have called the law an “end run” around the state’s ban on marriage and civil unions for gay couples approved by voters in 2006, say they will challenge the law. “In scope and in intent, this is very marriage-like and shows that it’s an attempt to overturn the will of the people,” Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, which supported the anti-gay marriage amendment as the Family Research Institute, told the paper.
But Appling’s group repeatedly asserted during the campaign to pass the gay marriage ban that they were not against granting gay couples basic rights, and were only interested in protecting marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The registry opens Monday, August 3.
July 14, 2009 – PinkNews
Bill Clinton says gays should be able to marry
by Jessica Geen
Former US president Bill Clinton has said he is now "basically" in favour of gay marriage. Speaking at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington DC, Clinton was asked if he supported gay marriage. According to the The Nation, he replied: "Yeah. I personally support people doing what they want to do. I think it’s wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [gay marriage]." During his term, Clinton opposed gay marriage. He was responsible for the Defence of Marriage Act, which bars access to federal benefits for gay couples and gives federal recognition to heterosexual couples only.
Current president Barack Obama has described the law as "abhorrent" and promised to repeal it in his election campaign. The law was defended in court by the Justice Department in June. The defence invoked incest and child marriage as part of its legal argument, infuriating gay activists. However, Clinton added he still did not believe gay marriage was "a federal question".
In May, he told an audience at Toronto’s Convention Centre that his views on the subject were "evolving". Clinton is the most high-profile politician to date to change his views on gay marriage. Five senators – Patrick Leahy, Christopher Dodd, Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer and Tom Harkin – have also come out in favour.
July 14, 2009 – PinkNews
Video: US protestors stage ‘kiss-in’ outside Mormon temple
by Jessica Geen
Around 100 gay and heterosexual couples held a ‘kiss-in’ outside a Mormon temple in Salt Lake City to protest over a couple who were stopped by security guards for embracing on its property. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped bring about Proposition 8 in California, which banned gay marriage. Matt Aune and his partner Derek Jones had been spotted hugging and kissing by security guards on the temple’s plaza last week and were told to stop.
When they argued, guards said public displays of affection were not permitted on temple property and the couple were handcuffed. They were lated cited by police for trespassing. On Sunday, around 100 gay and heterosexual couples met at the plaza’s south entrance, which is public property, to exchange hugs and small kisses.
In a statement given to the Salt Lake Tribune, church spokeswoman Kim Farah said that the men were "politely asked to stop engaging in inappropriate behaviour – just as any other couple would have been. They became argumentative and used profanity and refused to leave the property," she said.
A police spokesman said the pair had been cited with misdemeanor trespassing, adding it did not matter why they had been asked to leave. No altercations happened at the kiss-in.
July 14, 2009 – Science Daily
Understanding The Process Of Homosexual Identity Formation Among Asian And Pacific Islander Youth
ScienceDaily – Young American-raised Asian and Pacific Islanders (API), who are in the sexual minority, face psychological and social stresses in dealing with their families’ values and ancestral cultures that significantly impact the development of their ethnic and sexual identities. API teens and young adults identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender face a different set of challenges than their western or Caucasian peers, which can lead to rejection from their families who emigrated to the U.S. and a stigmatization by the larger Asian community.
In a new study, Hyeouk Chris Hahm, Assistant Professor at the BU School of Social Work has developed a new intellectual framework for the development of positive ethnic/sexual identities among API gays and lesbian adolescents.
The process of homosexual identify formation among API youth, where the role of family life, personal sacrifice for family tranquility and generational clashes are central social stresses, is in addition to the external factors as racism, sexism and acculturation, that many Asian Americans face. This combination of ethnic and gender differences has led the BU researchers to develop a new model of identity formation for this group which also serves to increase understanding of the diversity of the "new gay teenager."
Their study is based on Hahm’s earlier study, about 1,000 Asian American adolescents and young adults (18 to 27 years old), who said they were attracted to the same sex. This group struggled to both fit in with the prevailing American culture and also establish an authentic sexual identity that they knew was different from the norms of mainstream U.S. and their parents culture ( primarily from China, Japan and Korea).
"For instance, in South Korea, where male children have obligations to marry and create a traditional notion of family, homosexuality is considered a deviant behavior that brings family dishonor and shame," the study states, noting that this cultural barrier leaves this sexual minority with multiple oppressions and a sense of fear and inability to accept their sexual identity.
API women who are gay also face an Asian culture that requires them to stick to family values, marry men and have children or place shame on their families, neighbors and community. Researchers found that many Asian cultural norms render women invisible and silent. Thus these women compared to heterosexual API women and both heterosexual and homosexual API men had a higher prevalence of tobacco, binge drinking, marijuana and other drugs.
The reasons? The API women who were gay were less likely to adhere to traditional family-oriented gender roles, were unable or willing to gain or receive emotional support from their families and were likely to compete with men for masculine privileges so they could escape sexist oppression.
Often, the result for both young men and women is to mask homosexual behaviors and avoid alienating their family and parents’ communities. In their relationships with others, they often have to decide which identity will take precedence: an ethnic or sexual identity.
"In the Western gay and lesbian community, ‘coming out,’ is final revelation that you are homosexual while for API in America of Korean descent, there is ‘coming home,’ where you want to integrate culturally and be both an American and Korean," said Professor Hahm. "This is not staying closeted but rather alluding to your sexuality to a family member, who may not challenge it, as long as the status quo within the family is maintained."
Over time, many manage the conflicts that arise from choosing one over the other and enter into a homosexual identity with many negative stereotypes and assumptions related to their ethnic identity. Still others sublimate their sexual identify and appear asexual until they are able to synthesize an identity that incorporates both ethnicity and sexuality.
The researchers developed an API sexual minority model that simultaneously explores sexual development and cultural identity development in four stages: initiation, primacy, conflict and identity synthesis. These are combined with the four strategies of acculturation – the process by which foreign-born individuals and their families learn to adopt the language, values, beliefs and behaviors of their new cultural environments. Those strategies are assimilation, integration, separation and marginalization. Together they set API sexual minorities apart from Western gays and lesbian community.
July 15, 2009 – Los Angeles Times
Episcopal leaders vote to lift ban on gay bishops
The church may move to sanction blessings for same-sex couples as well, further alienating conservative parishes.
by Duke Helfand
The Episcopal Church, casting aside warnings about further alienating conservatives within its ranks, on Tuesday lifted a de facto ban on the ordination of gay bishops and is continuing to weigh a measure that would sanction blessings for same-sex couples. Bishops, clergy and lay leaders voted overwhelmingly at the denomination’s General Convention in Anaheim to open "any ordained ministry" to gays and lesbians.
The liberalized policy represents a reversal from guidelines adopted by the church at its last convention in 2006 that effectively prohibited the consecration of bishops whose "manner of life" would strain relations with the 77-million member Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the communion. The new approach is likely to deepen theological fissures that led some traditionalist Episcopal congregations and dioceses last month to form a rival church. And it is almost certain to trigger a backlash among conservative Anglican leaders who have urged the U.S. church to refrain from relaxing ordination and marriage standards.
But progressives in the 2.1-million member denomination said the move toward inclusion reflects the reality of a church that is home to many partnered gays and lesbians who belong to parishes that encourage their involvement and already bless their unions. "Being an Episcopalian means you can disagree and still worship together," said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles. "We’re going to leave the door open for all those who disagree with us to find a place here and peace here."
Tensions have been mounting since 2003, when a partnered gay priest, V. Gene Robinson, was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire. Several conservative Anglican leaders, especially in Africa, cut ties to the U.S. church after his election. The spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, had expressed apprehension during a brief visit to the conference last week about decisions "that could push us further apart."
On Tuesday, an elated Robinson celebrated the lopsided vote in the church’s two legislative bodies — the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, composed of clergy and laity. "I’m simply delighted at the possibility that another diocese will recognize the gifts of a gay or lesbian clergy person," he said. "I long for the day when someone who shares my experience as an openly gay bishop joins me in the House of Bishops. It has been lonely."
July 31, 2009 – Examiner.com
Billie Jean King to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
by Brenda Barrera – Women’s Sports History Examiner
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in our country and it’s given to people who "make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public, or private endeavors."
One of this year’s recipients is tennis legend Billie Jean King. Here’s an excerpt from the White House press release:
Billie Jean King was an acclaimed professional tennis player in the 1960s and 1970s, and has helped champion gender equality issues not only in sports, but in all areas of public life. King beat Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match, then the most viewed tennis match in history. King became one of the first openly lesbian major sports figures in America when she came out in 1981. Following her professional tennis career, King became the first woman commissioner in professional sports when she co-founded and led the World Team Tennis (WTT) League. The U.S. Tennis Association named the National Tennis Center, where the US Open is played, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2006.
For more info: –Billie Jean King / Presidential Medal of Freedom. Below is a video from Billie Jean King’s acceptance speech after receiving the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign in 2006 (it’s over 13 minutes long, she doesn’t get into her speech until about 5 minutes if you want to scroll forward).
July 31, 2009 – The Washington Post
House Subcommittee Backs Extension of Benefits To Gay Partners of Government Employees
by Joe Davidson
Reflecting changing national views on gay and lesbian relationships, a House subcommittee voted Thursday to extend employee benefits to the same-sex partners of federal workers. The debate that preceded the 5 to 3 vote along party lines quickly moved beyond the federal workplace and into such fundamental cultural issues as religion, morality and the state of marriage — heady stuff for a House Oversight and Government Reform panel that more typically deals with the arcane details of government employment.
The action by the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia would grant same-sex partners of federal workers the same benefits provided to spouses of workers, including health insurance and retirement and disability benefits. It would also subject partners to the same obligations of spouses, including abiding by anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.
Subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.) said the bill promotes "the basic concepts of equity and fairness," while giving the government an additional tool in federal employee retention and recruitment. He also said the bill would place "the federal government on par with the private sector, where health insurance, retirement, disability and other benefits are already widely available to domestic partners."
But all three Republicans on the subcommittee objected, with Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah saying: "I fundamentally do not believe that we should be creating benefits like this based on sexual orientation . . . or lifestyle choices. The exception I obviously make is for the traditional view of marriage, which is between one man and one woman. I think what is sought in this bill is a recognition from the federal government of a certain lifestyle and orientation choices, which I cannot support."
The legislation, he added, seeks "in many ways to redefine marriage, and I will not, I will not stand for that." His notion that gay and lesbians choose their sexual "lifestyle" reflects a view that was largely discredited and rejected years ago. "It is offensive and . . . anti-science," says Leonard Hirsch, the president of Federal Globe, an organization representing gay and lesbian federal workers. "The choice here is to live as an American a lifestyle as possible to support one’s partner."
Chaffetz also complained that the bill discriminates against unmarried heterosexual partners. Lynch replied that heterosexual couples have the option to marry, and he said the Office of Personnel Management recognizes common-law marriages between heterosexual couples. The measure will now be considered by the full Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
VIPs from the Obama administration and Congress put the spotlight on efforts to feed the hungry this week as they delivered tons of food collected by federal employees to the Capital Area Food Bank.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, General Services Administration Chief Human Capital Officer Gail Lovelace and Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) used the occasion to draw attention to the Feds Feed Families program, which is part of President Obama’s call for volunteer projects to serve America.
"I see a single-mindedness of purpose in the government workers and volunteers gathered here at the Capital Area Food Bank," Berry said Tuesday. "Across the government, federal workers have mobilized to collect nonperishable items for local food banks nationwide." Many federal agencies hold food drives. More information is available at http://fedsfeedfamilies.gov.
The federal Senior Executive Service is 30 years old this month. To mark the occasion, the Senior Executives Association is conducting a survey of upper-level civil servants, those in grades GS-14 and 15, to determine their interest in applying for SES positions.
SEA President Carol Bonosaro said her organization is undertaking the survey because of reports that many eligible federal employees "do not aspire to positions in the executive corps. The reasons most often cited include the loss of locality pay and of a guaranteed annual national comparability raise, increased hours and responsibilities, and executive pay overlap with the General Schedule and the National Security Personnel System."
Information gathered in the survey can be used to develop "incentives . . . to attract the most talented of the GS-14s and 15s to help lead agency programs," added Linda Brooks Rix, co-chief executive of Avue Technologies, which is providing technical support for the survey.
The survey is open until Aug. 14 and can be found at http://www.seniorexecs.org.
Contact Joe Davidson at email@example.com
August 6, 2009 – The New York Times
Psychologists Reject Gay ‘Therapy’
by The Associated Press
The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments. In a resolution adopted by the association’s governing council, and in an accompanying report, the association issued its most comprehensive repudiation of so-called reparative therapy, a concept espoused by a small but persistent group of therapists, often allied with religious conservatives, who maintain that gay men and lesbians can change.
No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the resolution, adopted by a 125-to-4 vote. The association said some research suggested that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies. Instead of seeking such change, the association urged therapists to consider multiple options, which could include celibacy and switching churches, for helping clients live spiritually rewarding lives in instances where their sexual orientation and religious faith conflict.
The association has criticized reparative therapy in the past, but a six-member panel added weight to that position by examining 83 studies on sexual orientation change conducted since 1960. Its report was endorsed by the association’s governing council in Toronto, where the association’s annual meeting is being held this weekend. The report breaks ground in its detailed and nuanced assessment of how therapists should deal with gay clients struggling to remain loyal to a religious faith that disapproves of homosexuality.
Judith Glassgold, a psychologist in Highland Park, N.J., who led the panel, said she hoped the document could help calm the polarized debate between religious conservatives who believe in the possibility of changing sexual orientation and the many mental health professionals who reject that option.
“Both sides have to educate themselves better," Ms. Glassgold said. “The religious psychotherapists have to open up their eyes to the potential positive aspects of being gay or lesbian. Secular therapists have to recognize that some people will choose their faith over their sexuality.”
One of the largest organizations promoting the possibility of changing sexual orientation is Exodus International, a network of ministries whose core message is “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.” Its president, Alan Chambers, describes himself as someone who “overcame unwanted same-sex attraction.” Mr. Chambers and other evangelicals met with association representatives after the panel was formed in 2007, and he expressed satisfaction with parts of the report that emerged.
August 06, 2009 – 365gay.com
Coming out early: the fight to help LGBT youth
by Cory Stottlemyer, reporter, 365gay.com
Dr. Robert Reid-Pharr was in New York City walking his dog one morning when he was approached by a young black teenager. He appeared to be 15- or 16-years-old with slightly feminine mannerisms, Reid-Pharr said later. He propositioned the professor: sex in exchange for food. Like so many other homeless gay youth in New York City, the young man in front of Reid-Pharr has resorted to prostitution in order to survive.
Reid-Pharr, a critical essayist and professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, turned him down. “I asked him what he was doing and he said his mom was addicted to crack. He had been out all night because there were people doing drugs at his home and he couldn’t stay there,” Reid-Pharr recalled. “He said, ‘usually when guys take me home they give me food first.’”
Like the young man who Reid-Pharr encountered, gay youth take to the streets for a variety of reasons, some resorting to hustling to survive. Whether they are kicked out by their families for being gay or are forced to leave to escape abuse, staying at home may not be an option for many gay youth. According to a 2007 study done by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth in the United States identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. The same study also found that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 homeless youth in New York City, of whom 3,000 to 8,000 are LGBT.
Even when they are able to live at home, a gay kid’s life may not be easy. Bullying and a lack of support are pervasive problems in schools. A 1997 Massachusetts Department of Education Survey found that gay students hear anti-gay slurs as often as 26 times each day. Faculty intervention occurs in only about 3 percent of those cases. Yet national attention for gay youth seems to be limited to only the most extreme stories, like the 2008 murder of Lawrence King, an openly gay 15-year-old student who was shot and killed by a fellow classmate.
When gay children are being murdered by their classmates, why are the issues of gay youth not more widely covered?
Carl Siciliano, the executive director of the Ali Forney Center, a housing center in New York City for homeless gay youth, explained why he believes gay youth are sometimes ignored or overlooked in the wide spectrum of gay rights. Siciliano believes that a new generation of gay youth has risen up, different from past generations of gay men and women who were accustomed to coming out later in life.
Kids are coming out earlier than in previous generations, Siciliano said, and gay organizations are only now paying attention. Older generations were accustomed to coming out later in life when they were out of their parent’s homes and able to support themselves. Today, kids who come out as young as 12 and are kicked out of their homes need the help of these gay organizations to survive.
“Just the concept of a gay organization protecting gay youth is new,” said Siciliano. “We need to set standards because some of the [programs for gay youth] that have come around are lacking and grossly substandard.”
August 6, 2009 – Edge Boston
Minn. Offers World’s First Online Gay School
by Kilian Melloy, Edge Staff Reporter
GLBT youth who long for an alternative to schools where they may be subjected to anti-gay harassment may have another alternative to look forward to if a new online school for gay youth succeeds. The new school, the GLBTQ Online High School, may eventually serve as a model for other online educational programs aiming to serve gay and lesbian students.
An Aug. 5 Pioneer Press article that was posted at TwinCities.com reported on the new GLBTQ Online High School, which is based in Mapelwood, Minnesota. The article said that the school is thought to be the first online high school for GLBT youth.
Other schools meant primarily as safe learning spaces for gay and lesbian high school students do exist, most notably Harvey Milk High School in New York City, which has a student body of about 100 and is open not only to GLBT students but also to straight youth. Harvey Milk boasts an unusually high graduation rate–nearly 90% according to the Web site of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which founded and backs the school.
The new online school was created by David Glick, who, the TwinCities.com article noted, serves Minneota’s Department of Education as its online learning coordinator. So far, two dozen prospective students have applied, as have a hundred would-be instructors. The online nature of the new school means that even though the school is based in Minnesota, the students can apply, and learn, from anywhere in the country. The same is true of the faculty: the applicants for positions at the school have applied from around the globe.
Glick acknowledged that the students and their teachers would be interacting remotely. "We may not bring people closer physically-but we will in every other way," he was quoted as saying. "We want to make them feel more confident about who they are," added Glick, who went on to note that GLBT students outside of urban centers who might not otherwise have access to safe school environments would benefit.
Aside from allowing young gays and lesbians the chance to remove themselves from potentially hostile environments, the online school would also allow them to interact with other GLBT youth, the article noted. Even so, worries that the students would be "isolated" by online learning, rather than by being in physical proximity to their peers and instructors, was given voice by the University of Minnesota’s David Johnson. The article quoted Johnson, an instructor in social psychology, as saying, "The danger of the online high school is that kids will stay isolated and feel uncared for."
August 12, 2009 – CBS5
Harvey Milk Receives Posthumous Medal Of Freedom
San Francisco (CBS 5 / AP) – The late San Francisco supervisor and gay rights champion Harvey Milk was one of 16 people awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday at the White House. The medals, which represent the country’s highest honor for a civilian, are the first to be awarded by President Barack Obama.
Milk was elected supervisor in 1977, becoming the first openly gay elected official in a major U.S. city. He was a champion for equal rights, encouraging gays and lesbians to live their lives in the open. He was shot and killed in 1978 by former supervisor Dan White, who also killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.
During the ceremony, Milk was remembered with the following statement:
Harvey Bernard Milk dedicated his life to shattering boundaries and challenging assumptions. As one of the first openly gay elected officials in this country, he changed the landscape of opportunity for the nation’s gay community. Throughout his life, he fought discrimination with visionary courage and conviction. Before his tragic death in 1978, he wisely noted, "Hope will never be silent," and called upon Americans to stay true to the guiding principles of equality and justice for all. Harvey Milk’s voice will forever echo in the hearts of all those who carry forward his timeless message.
Other honorees were: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, tennis legend Billie Jean King, archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, physicist Stephen Hawking, and civil rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery. Former Rep. Jack Kemp, who died in May, will, like Milk, receive a posthumous award.
August 15, 2009 – The Salt Lake Tribune
Gay-rights backers gather for smooch rally
Dozens of couples, gay and straight, gathered at Library Square amphitheater Saturday morning to smooch. The demonstration of affection was part of a "Great Nationwide Kiss-in" across U.S. and Canadian cities, organized by gay-rights bloggers on the East Coast.
"The seeds have already been planted for the biggest cultural shift GLBT people will have ever experienced," actor and activist Charles Lynn Frost told a crowd of 100 to 150 people. "And it will largely happen with children who will soon be adults," he said. "Who choose not to hate, frighten or be divisive but choose to see no differences between any human being that makes them worth loving."
Organizer Ash Johnsdottir, a Provo activist, said the demonstration was in response to the detention last month of a gay couple who kissed on the LDS Church’s Main Street plaza, and to similar cases in Texas. It was the third local kiss-in since the detentions. Unlike the second demonstration, no counterprotesters appeared.
"Simple acts of innocent affection, no matter what the gender of the kissers, are a human right and it shows the love that binds us together," Johnsdottir said. Another kiss-in will be scheduled a year from now to reaffirm the movement, she said.
Frost, the creator of radio character Sister Dottie S. Dixon, a proud Mormon mother of a gay son, introduced his 5-year-old granddaughter as an example of a young mind others can learn from. He urged the crowd to "keep planting the seeds" by teaching, talking and listening to children, by showing them how to celebrate authenticity, pride, courage and honesty, and by being shining examples of integrity.
Other speakers included Salt Lake City Council candidate Jennifer J. Johnson and KRCL RadioActive Executive Producer Troy Williams. Williams, a self-described Mormon and "queer" said his main message was that "there will never be peace between the Mormons and the gays until the LDS leadership takes responsibility for their actions and seriously begins to address their wrongs against us." Williams said the burden of change has always been on the gay community. Events like the kiss-in remind people that gay people are not going away and will continue to demand full civil equality, he said.
Amanda Anderson missed the two previous demonstrations and showed up late Saturday. "I wanted to show up to support a fantastic cause," the Westminster student said. "Public affection should not be dominated by heterosexual privilege. It should be something everyone can express."
Joe Pitti and Mark Chambers of Salt Lake City, partners since 1991, said they, too, wanted to support gay rights in Utah. They said they have never had a negative interaction in Utah. "We don’t feel like we harm anybody and would like to be able to hold hands in public," Chambers said. "The more the people are aware that we are your neighbors and your co-workers, the more people will understand and accept us as who we are."
Utah gay rights kiss-in history
July 8 » Matt Aune and Derek Jones were apprehended by security guards from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the pair was seen "kissing and hugging" on the church’s Main Street Plaza. The two were detained by the church security and police were called.
July 12 » About 100 people held a kiss-in demonstration in support of Aune and Jones at Main Street plaza. Church security watched the protesters, and called police when they crossed onto the property, but there were no altercations.
July 19 » Second kiss-in demonstration at the Main Street Plaza. More than 200 people showed up. Counter-protesters showed up to express their views too.
Saturday » A kiss-in is held at Library Square as part of a "Great Nationwide Kiss-in," featuring events in 50 U.S. and Canadian cities.
August 15, 2009 – Examiner.com
Focus on the Family sells its ‘ex-gay’ program to Exodus
by Kelvin Lynch Gay & Lesbian Issues Examiner
Focus on the Family, has sold off its "ex-gay" program called Love Won Out to Exodus International. According to the Minnesota Independent, FOTF has posted a record profit loss of $6 million so far this year. The group was founded by James Dobson in 1977, a vehemently anti-gay religious leader who has maintained tremendous political influence over GOP leaders. The sell-off is a move by FOTF CEO Jim Daly to downsize the organization, which has already laid off 20% of its workforce since December, due to declining donations.
The move comes suspiciously soon after the American Psychological Association strongly repudiated "ex-gay", "coversion", or "reparative" therapy, saying there is absolutely no evidence that it works, and that it can cause psychological harm including depression and suicidal tendencies. Exodus International’s leader Alan Chambers has denied that his group practices "ex-gay" therapy, so it’s curious that it would be buying an "ex-gay" program. A press release on the Exodus International website announcing the move refers to Love Won Out as a "conference" that has has "educated and equipped Christians for decades about the reality that unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome."
"Exodus is thrilled with this opportunity as the Love Won Out conference is a natural fit in our ongoing efforts to share the hope we’ve found," said Chambers. "Love Won Out has been and will continue to be a powerful event dedicated to helping the global Christian church better understand and more effectively reflect biblical truth and Christ-like compassion to a hurting world." Exodus International VP of public relations Gary Schneeberger said, "Exodus is moving aggressively to strengthen its church outreach. Our financial challenges have led us to recognize a strategic opportunity that makes sense independent of economic circumstances."
August 17, 2009 – PinkNews
Obama administration says marriage law discriminates against gays but will still defend it
by Jessica Geen
The Obama administration has admitted that the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) is discriminatory but has said it will still defend it in court. The 1996 law restricts federal recognition of marriage to only that between a man and a woman. It means gay couples are barred from a number of federal benefits, such as healthcare rights. It also gives states the right not to recognise gay marriages performed in other states. President Barack Obama described it as "abhorrent" in his election campaign.
Association Press reports that court papers filed today show the administration wishes to repeal the law. However, the same briefing reveals the Justice Department will defend the statute as it can be argued that the law is constitutional. It is the responsibility of the Justice Department to defend laws from constitutional attack.
"The administration believes the Defence of Marriage Act is discriminatory and should be repealed," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, because it prevents equal rights and benefits. The department is obligated "to defend federal statutes when they are challenged in court. The Justice Department cannot pick and choose which federal laws it will defend based on any one administration’s policy preferences," Schmaler added.
A previous Justice Department briefing filed in June angered some gay rights campaigners, who said it compared gay marriage to incest and child marriage. Other critics said he had essentially declared gay rights less important that black rights, on the anniversary of Loving v Virginia which struck down laws against interracial marriage in the state. The case in question was brought by gay California couple.
Last month, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit which argues that DOMA violates the US constitution by interfering with the right of states to define the marriage status of their own residents. It was the first US state to legalise gay marriage in 2004 and is now the first to challenge the controversial Act. The suit, filed by state Attorney General Martha Coakley in the US district court in Boston, also states the 1996 Act forces states to discriminate against gay married couples regarding various benefits rights.
August 22, 2009 – Associated Press
Lutheran gay clergy vote tests mainline churches
by Eric Gorski, Associated Press Writer Eric Gorski, Associated Press Writer
In breaking down barriers restricting gays and lesbians from the pulpit, the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination has laid down a new marker in a debate over the direction of mainline Protestant Christianity, a tradition that once dominated American religious life. By voting Friday to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, the 4.7-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will either show how a church can stand together amid differences, or become another casualty of division over sexual morality and the Bible, observers say.
"We’re going to be living in tension and ambiguity for a longer time, partly because the culture has shifted," said David Steinmetz, a Duke Divinity School professor of Christian history. The question is whether the mainline church will shift alongside, or if it will decide that the more welcoming attitude toward homosexuality is wrong, he said.
The ELCA — the nation’s seventh largest Christian church — reached its conclusion after eight years of study and deliberation. That culminated Friday when the church’s national assembly in Minneapolis struck down a policy that required any gay and lesbian clergy to remain celibate. The assembly also signed off on finding ways for willing congregations to "recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same gender relationships." The church fell short of calling that gay marriage, but conservatives see that as the next step.
August 21, 2009 – The Bilerico Project
Anti-gay beating raises concerns about violence in Kalamazoo
Filed by: Guest Blogger
Editors’ note: Todd Heywood is a professional journalist for the Michigan Messenger.
Activists and leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are raising a red flag of concern about the potential for violence following the attack on a gay 15-year-old in Portage, which sits across the Kalamazoo city limits, where a battle is underway to win approval of a controversial anti-discrimination ordinance.
And some fear that the conditions are right for more violence as rhetoric around the anti-discrimination ordinance heats up.
Josh Vandeburgh, who chairs the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality (KAFE), said the attack is a worrisome development.
August 23, 2009 – Talk2Action
After 5 Years of Legal Gay Marriage, MA Still Has Lowest Divorce Rate in US
In an -August 20th column for the Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman writes,
Opponents of same-sex marriage reject it on religious and moral grounds but also on practical ones. If we let homosexuals marry, they believe, a parade of horribles will follow — the weakening of marriage as an institution, children at increased risk of broken homes, the eventual legalization of polygamy and who knows what all. Well, guess what? We’re about to find out if they’re right. Unlike most public policy debates, this one is the subject of a gigantic experiment, which should definitively answer whether same-sex marriage will have a broad, destructive social impact. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire have all decided to let gays wed.
Actually, the "experiment" has been running in Massachusetts for fully 1/2 decade now. Over three years ago I wrote a story, "Christian Right Wrong on Gay Marriage", summing up the apparent non-impact of the then-2 year "experiment". Now, we have 4 consecutive years of data. According to the most recent data from the National Center For Vital Statistics, Massachusetts retains the national title as the lowest divorce rate state, and the MA divorce rate is about where the US divorce rate was in 1940, prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Provisional data from 2008 indicates that the Massachusetts divorce rate has dropped from 2.3 per thousand in 2007 down to about 2.0 per thousand for 2008. What does that mean ? To get a sense of perspective consider that the last time the US national divorce rate was 2.0 per thousand (people) was 1940. You read that correctly. The Massachusetts divorce rate is now at about where the US divorce rate was the year before the United States entered World War Two.
Back in summer 2006, after more than a year of poring over accumulating data I reported what was, to my mind, a foregone conclusion; after two years of legal gay marriage, the Bay State still boasted the lowest divorce rate of any state in the nation. That was notable in light of the absurdly histrionic claims made by leaders on the Christian right that legal gay marriage in Massachusetts would be an "apocalypse" that would lead to the destruction of Western Civilization or even the world.
Now Steve Chapman has taken the next step. As he writes in his Chicago Tribune column,
I contacted three serious conservative thinkers who have written extensively about the dangers of allowing gay marriage and asked them to make simple, concrete predictions about measurable social indicators — marriage rates, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, child poverty, you name it.