4 November 2009 – Fridae
Maine voters overturn state’s new same-sex marriage law
by San Francisco Chronicle
Same-sex marriage advocates in Maine were dealt a crushing blow as Maine voters overturned the state’s same-sex marriage law yesterday. The following is an excerpt from "Maine voters overturn legal same-sex marriage" by Joe Garofoli published in the San Francisco Chronicle. For the full article, follow the link at the end of the page.
Voters in Maine repealed a state law legalizing same sex marriage, which backers of the measure said shows "voters don’t want to change what you call marriage." Advocates of same-sex marriage refused to concede defeat early Wednesday after supporters declared victory. Nearly 53 percent of voters backed the referendum of a law the state legislature approved in May and the governor signed.
"Voters have a pretty good grasp about what they think marriage should be," said Jeff Flint, the Sacramento strategist for the Yes on 1 campaign. "It’s not that they’re discriminatory or bigoted. They just draw the line at what they think marriage should be." Mark Sullivan, a spokesman for No on 1/Protect Maine Equality, refused to concede, saying votes needed to be counted in all of Maine’s counties. "We’re going to continue operations until every vote is counted," Sullivan said. "We’ll see what the final count is (later Wednesday) and take it from there."
The vote in Maine comes a year after California voters rejected same-sex marriage by a nearly identical margin. Voters in almost three dozen states have rejected such marriages through constitutional amendments, while same-sex marriages are legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa.
"For the same-sex marriage movement to move ahead, it has to win a state like Maine," said Corey Cook, a political science professor at the University of San Francisco. "It’s not a liberal bastion, but it is fairly progressive – sort of an impartial bellwether." Maine’s law, passed in May, had been suspended.
November 6, 2009 – PinkNews
Washington voters approve expanded gay rights
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Gay rights advocates have claimed a victory in Washington where the latest tally shows the state’s voters opted to allow increased rights for gay couples. According to the latest unofficial returns, 72 per cent of the vote had been counted by yesterday afternoon, where the ‘approve’ campaign was running at 52 per cent. AP reported that this vote makes history as it is the first time a state’s voters have approved a gay equality measure at the ballot box.
Referendum 71 will expand the state’s current domestic partnership law, essentially giving gay couples all the rights of marriage.These include the right to use sick leave to care for a partner and rights related to adoption, child custody and child support. The move will also give gay couples new inheritance rights. It was due to come into power in June but was put on hold due after Protect Marriage Washington collected the 120,000 signatures needed for a referendum.
Washington has had domestic partnerships since 2007 and it is estimated that almost 6,000 have been carried out.
November 12, 2009 – The New York Times
Mormon Support of Gay Rights Statute Draws Praise
by Kirk Johnson
The Mormon Church has been a target of vituperation by some gay rights groups because of its active opposition to same-sex marriage. But on Wednesday, the church was being praised by gay rights activists in Salt Lake City, citadel of the Mormon world, for its open support of a local ordinance banning discrimination against gay men and lesbians in housing and employment.
The ordinance, which passed unanimously Tuesday night, made Salt Lake the first city in Utah to offer such protections. While the measure probably had majority backing on the seven-member City Council anyway, the church’s support was seen by gay activists as a thunderclap that would resonate across the state and in the overwhelmingly Mormon legislature, where even subtle shifts in church positions on social issues can swing votes and sentiments.
“It’s the most progressive and inclusive statement that the church has made on these issues,” said Will Carlson, the manager of public policy at Equality Utah, the state’s largest gay rights group. “What they’ve said here is huge, in protecting residents in other municipalities, and statewide.” In its statement backing the ordinance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said that while it remained “unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman,” the question of how people were treated on the job and in finding places to live were matters of fairness that did not have anything to do with marriage.
“Across America and around the world, diverse communities such as ours are wrestling with complex social and moral questions,” Michael R. Otterson, a church spokesman, said in a statement to the City Council. “The issues before you tonight are the right of people to have a roof over their heads and the right to work without being discriminated against.” Mr. Carlson at Equality Utah said the wording of the church’s statement was crucial. The church previously had used more neutral language when asked about antidiscrimination statutes or hate-crimes legislation, often saying that it was “not opposed” to such measures.
About 100 cities in the United States have passed similar housing and employment protection statutes, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national gender rights organization. Salt Lake’s ordinance will take effect next April, and will authorize the mayor to appoint an administrator to investigate complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
November 14, 2009 – The New York Times
A Sapphic Victory, but Pyrrhic
by Frank Bruni
Before millions of television viewers, under the dewy and beneficent gaze of Oprah Winfrey, the two of them traded moony glances. They held hands. They spoke the language of sonnets and torch songs.
“It was like an arrow was shot through my heart,” one said, describing an early meeting. “I felt weak at the knees.”
“I’m going to be with her until the day I die,” responded the other. Then their wedding video was played. It showed them in white — both of these brides.
In what may have been the most public display of gushingly romantic affection between two gay or lesbian celebrities, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi professed their love in the secular chapel of Oprah Winfrey’s daytime talk show on Monday. The moment came less than a week after voters in Maine, like those in 30 states before it, rejected same-sex marriage, and just a day before New York legislators would again postpone consideration of a bill to legalize such weddings, conceding inadequate support.
And it underscored what a fascinating example Ms. DeGeneres is setting, not to mention how tough it is to figure out precisely where Americans stand on an issue so fiercely contested that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., said last week that it would scale back social service programs if the district legalized same-sex marriage.
In the handful of states where same-sex marriage is legal, legislatures and courts — not voters — have made it so. A few polls in recent months have suggested that while a majority of Americans believe that gay couples should be able to enter into unions with some of the legal protections of marriage, a minority believe that gays and lesbians should be permitted to “marry,” per se. Same-sex marriage doesn’t fit into the kind of family that many Americans believe should be idealized; it offends many others’ deeply felt religious principles.
And yet Ms. DeGeneres, who exchanged vows with Ms. de Rossi during a span last year when same-sex marriage was legal in California, seems more popular than ever — and among audiences squarely in the mainstream. A decade ago, she had trouble getting work, a development that she and many observers chalked up to her being “the most famous lesbian in the world,” as Ms. de Rossi described her on “Oprah.” But now she’s on the cover of the current issue of O magazine, exclusive real estate usually inhabited by Ms. Winfrey alone. She’s a pitchwoman not only for American Express but also for Cover Girl makeup, a heartland product if ever there was one.
Come January, she’ll join the other judges on “American Idol,” the highest-rated prime-time television program in America, one that Middle American moms, dads and kids watch together.
Read Article HERE
November 16, 2009 – The New York Times
Help for Gay Caregivers Who Look After Elderly
by Bao Ong
When Michelle Obama pitched the president’s health care reform efforts to a room of women at the White House last week, one group of New Yorkers present clung to every word. And when Mrs. Obama mentioned that “families come in many different configurations,” Karen Taylor, the director of advocacy and training at Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, nodded in approval.
SAGE, a New York-based nonprofit group that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caregivers, this week is beginning a “Caring and Preparing” initiative to provide such caregivers an array of resources: assistance with insurance benefits and entitlements, counseling, legal assistance, and various outreach and support programs.
The program comes as research suggests that gay and lesbian baby boomers are more likely to be caregivers than their heterosexual contemporaries, including siblings. The challenges facing gay elderly people are also drawing more attention: Last month, the health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, announced plans to create a national resource center to support elderly gays and lesbians.
In a statement, Rea Carey, executive director of the Washington-based National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the move “marks a critical step to address the needs of a highly vulnerable and largely invisible aging population.” One in four gay baby boomers are likely to be caregivers compared with one in five of the general population in the United States, according to a 2006 study conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute.
Roberta Raeburn, 57, a Staten Island resident who watched Mrs. Obama speak at last week’s gathering, understands why. Many gay people she knows absorb the caretaker role because they have no children or because family members believe they have the time, she said. When her companion, Terry, had a major stroke in 2005 that affected her ability to talk and walk, Ms. Raeburn put her in a nursing home. “When she was gone, I didn’t know what to do with myself,” said Ms. Raeburn, whose 94-year-old mother lives on the floor above Terry.
With the responsibility to care for two women, Ms. Raeburn, who works for a pest-control company killing bed bugs, sought support through SAGE, which provided counseling and support groups. She described it as her godsend. Michael Adams, SAGE’s executive director said, “It’s straining and stressful.” “For anyone it is,” Mr. Adams added. “It’s even more stressful if you do it on your own.” Gays and lesbians, he said, sometimes find themselves asking, “Who is going to do for me what I’m doing for my family?
01 December 2009 – Voice Of America
World’s Largest AIDS Conference to Finally Return to the US – Washington, DC will host 2012 gathering
by Joe DeCapua, Washington, DC
The world’s largest AIDS conference is coming to the United States in 2012. The 19th International AIDS Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. The gathering has not been held in the U.S. since 1990, when it was hosted by San Francisco. The long gap was due to government policy limiting travel to the U.S. by those infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The International AIDS Society (IAS) says the former policy was based on “fear, rather than science. It says the change represents a significant victory for public health and human rights.” Robin Gorna, IAS executive director, is in Washington for the announcement of the meeting being held in the U.S. capital. “We’re delighted that the International AIDS Conference will be held in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. It’s been 22 years since we’ve been able to hold the…conference in the United States,” she says.
She’s grateful to President Obama for “taking the final steps” to lift the travel ban.
Why a U.S.-hosted conference is needed
“It’s very important to have the conference here in the United States because the U.S. has shown such tremendous leadership on HIV,” she says, “with significant research funding and also, very importantly, in being the government that has provided the most funds for scaling up the international response to AIDS.” The effort to overturn the travel restrictions began many years ago.
“The travel restrictions were brought in in 1987 and they were supported by (Senator) Jesse Helms. And they added HIV to the travel exclusion list that was already in existence in the public health service,” she says. Attempts to overturn them in the early 1990s failed.
“As a result of that, the International AIDS Society decided that we simply could never hold a conference here until they were overturned,” she says. In 2006, President Bush issued a waiver allowing HIV-positive people to visit the U.S. for 60 days for business or tourism. However, Gorna says that wasn’t good enough.
“We know that these travel restrictions created untold damage to individuals and family life. But they also sent a very bad signal that discriminating against people with HIV and taking punitive measures was a good way of controlling HIV. It simply isn’t. It was bad public health, as well as an abuse of human rights,” she says. Things began to change in mid 2008 and the announcement was made in November 2009 that the travel restrictions would be lifted on January 4.
Why not a developing country venue in 2012?
The International AIDS Conference often alternates between developed and developing nations. Next year’s meeting is set for July in Vienna. Then, two years later, it comes to the U.S. Gorna says developing countries are not being ignored. “We certainly do want to have the International AIDS Conference in a developing country whenever possible. It has become tricky because we now attract over 25,000 people to our conferences and there are very few sites in the developing world where we can host our conference. But we’re firming committed to the 2014 conference being in a developing country,” she says.
She says it was important to seize the opportunity to hold it in the U.S. when it arose. “We have worked with activists around the U.S. for so long to lift these travel restrictions,” she says. A pat on the back for the U.S. “We really want to encourage the U.S. government to maintain its significant global leadership in financing the international effort in making sure that quality research is undertaken and delivering such effective HIV responses both overseas and here,” she says.
December 1, 2009 – Baptist Press
D.C. council votes to legalize ‘gay marriage’
Washington (BP) -The District of Columbia Council voted 11-2 to legalize "same-sex marriage" Dec. 1, putting the capital in position to become the sixth U.S. jurisdiction to approve such unions. The action is the first of two votes required to pass the legislation. A second vote by the council is expected to occur Dec. 15. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has committed to sign the measure after a second favorable council vote. Congress will have the opportunity to review the bill after it becomes law, but it appears unlikely legislators will overturn the D.C. action.
Five states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa — recognize "gay marriage." In none of those states, however, have voters approved "same-sex marriage" in a ballot initiative. All 31 states that have held ballot initiatives on the question of "same-sex marriage" have approved the traditional view of the institution.
D.C. residents have been blocked from voting on a proposal to prohibit "gay marriage." The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics ruled Nov. 17 against an initiative that would define marriage as only "between a man and a woman," saying it could not go forward because it "would authorize discrimination prohibited" under the city’s Human Rights Act.
The Alliance Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight D.C. citizens calling for approval of an effort to place the initiative on the ballot. Council member David Catania, the openly homosexual sponsor of the bill, said in a written statement after its passage, "Today’s vote is an important victory not only for the gay and lesbian community but for everyone who supports equal rights. Gays and lesbians bear every burden of citizenship and are entitled to every benefit and protection that the law allows."
The only two D.C. council members to vote against the "gay marriage" bill were Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander, both Democrats. Barry, the former D.C. mayor, said before his vote, according to The Washington Post, "I stand here today to express in no uncertain terms my strong commitment to the gay and lesbian, bisexual, transgender community on almost every issue except this one." The bill’s opponents, including the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, say the legislation will harm the institution of marriage, as well as families and society. They also contend the measure does not appear to provide enough protection for the expression of religious belief by those who oppose "gay marriage."
"It will lead to the violation of the consciences of children in schools as they are subjected to teachings in an authoritarian environment that same-sex marriage is a legitimate form of marriage," ERLC President Richard Land told the D.C. elections board before its ruling. "Changing the definition of marriage would likely also result in government restrictions on the religious freedom of religious groups, potentially exposing them to government reprisal for honoring their faith convictions" regarding homosexuality.
The D.C. council voted 12-1 in May to recognize "same-sex marriages" performed in other jurisdictions. The law enables homosexual couples living in D.C. to have wedding ceremonies in states where "gay marriage" is legal and have those unions recognized by the district. The debate in D.C. comes as supporters of "gay marriage" in New York and New Jersey pressure legislators to pass bills redefining marriage.
The New York Senate could take up the issue later Tuesday in a vote that has been long-anticipated by the bill’s supporters, the New York Daily News reported. Because it already passed the Assembly and because Democratic Gov. David A. Paterson has pledged to sign it, the bill’s fate lies with the Senate, where Democrats hold a 32-30 edge. At least two to three Democrats have publicly expressed their opposition to it, however. A victory in New York — the nation’s third most populous state — would be monumental for homosexual activists.
Meanwhile, the push to legalize "gay marriage" in New Jersey has stalled following the election of Republican Gov.-elect Chris Christie — who has said he would veto such a bill — and following the vote by Maine’s citizens to prohibit "gay marriage." If the bill is to become law, it must pass before Christie is inaugurated Jan. 19. Lame duck Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, says he would sign it.
"They’ve lost the momentum," state Sen. Kip Bateman, a New Jersey Republican, told the Star-Ledger newspaper. "I don’t think it’s going to happen."
Said Steve Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a New Jersey homosexual group, "Many of us in the progressive movement just want to throw up. Democrats put out one hand out to ask for money, and with the other they stab you in the back."
A November Quinnipiac University poll found New Jersey adults oppose "gay marriage" by a 49-46 percent margin. More than 200 Democrats signed a letter released Tuesday urging the New Jersey legislature, controlled by Democrats, to pass the bill.
In California, a second major liberal group cast doubt Monday on the likelihood Proposition 8 could be overturned in 2010. That group, the Courage Campaign, released a statement calling for "more research and time to change hearts and minds before returning to the ballot to restore marriage for gay and lesbian couples in California." The statement did not say it opposes a 2010 ballot initiative, but the fact that the group hasn’t yet begun collecting signatures for its own initiative — or committed to a 2010 timetable — is significant. In August, Equality California, the state’s leading homosexual group, said it would wait until at least 2012 before trying to reverse Proposition 8, which passed last year and prohibits "gay marriage."
One California group calling itself Love Honor Cherish already has started collecting signatures for a 2010 anti-Prop 8 initiative, but it does not have the backing of the other major liberal and homosexual organizations. It hopes to gather the required 700,000 signatures solely by using volunteers and social networking — something that other groups, both conservative and liberal, say is likely to fail.
Reported by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode and BP assistant editor Michael Foust.
December 02 2009 – SFGate
Interesing shifts in teen and tween attitudes and beliefs
Marina Park, Girl Scout CEO, lawyer, mom
Kids gone bad tend to make news. If you are among those who have formed the impression that our youth and their values are on a downward slide, here’s some evidence to the contrary. Girl Scouts of the USA just released the findings of a nationwide random sample of schools and 3,263 girls and boys from the third through twelfth grades, asking the same questions as a 1989 survey, with some updates for relevance.
The 2009 survey, conducted with Harris Interactive (formerly Louis Harris Inc., the same firm that worked on the 1989 study) shows a marked shift in values and civic involvement among teens and tweens. This study focuses on self-reported attitudes and beliefs. And we all know that attitudes don’t always translate into behaviors. But knowing and caring about good behavior is a step in the right direction.
The findings on views about diversity and civic engagement are striking. Among 7th- to 12th-graders, nearly six in 10 (59 percent) say that being around people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds is important to them. This appears to be particularly important to girls (63 percent versus 55 percent of boys) and youth from diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds.
Youth are more accepting of gay relationships. Fifty-nine percent of teenagers agree with the statement, "Gay and lesbian relationships are OK, if that is a person’s choice." Only 31 percent agreed in 1989. And when asked whether they would continue a friendship with a gay or lesbian friend, 48% said they would, compared to just 12% in 1989.
Compared to 20 years ago, youth today are more likely to say they intend to vote in the future (84 percent vs. 77 percent), as well as give to charity (76 percent vs. 63 percent). Some 79 percent say they will volunteer in their communities. And here’s some good news — youth exhibit a strong sense of community and global responsibility in their attitudes toward environmental stewardship. Fully 78% of 7th- to 12th-graders — girls and boys across all age groups — agree that everyone has a responsibility to take care of the environment.
Nearly two out of three young people (62 percent) surveyed in 2009, say they would not cheat on a test compared to about half in 1989. And only 18 percent say they believe smoking is acceptable if a person finds it enjoyable. In 1989, more than a quarter of those surveyed thought smoking was acceptable.
The survey also probed changing attitudes about drugs, sex, drinking, abortion and willingness to fight in a war – you can see all of the findings in the link above.
For those of us who are working with kids, whether in our careers, volunteer work or as parents, the other thing that comes through the study is that teens want to do the right thing, but, they still struggle with knowing what that is, or how to make it happen. The study emphasizes the important role that parents, friends and an extended constellation of adults play in helping teens discover and act on their values.
The survey conclusion – Where Girl Scouting Goes From Here – reinforces the path we are on — offering girls opportunities to develop their voice and values, and help girls actualize the intentions they have shared in the study — to make positive decisions and become the best version of themselves they hope to be. I look forward to continuing to support volunteers and girls to help make that happen.
December 2, 2009 – Examiner.com
Gay people of color win big in Georgia elections
Lest it seem the news is all bad on the LGBT front–what with the defeat of a same-sex marriage bill in the New York State Senate on December 2–there is exciting news for both gays and people of color out of the state of Georgia this week. The first victory to report is the election of Simone Bell to the Georgia State House of Representatives on December 1. By edging out her opponent (fellow Democrat Asha Jackson) with 53 percent of the vote, community organizer and activist Bell has become the first openly lesbian African-American state legislator in US history.
But wait, before you drop the balloons, there was another significant electoral win in Georgia: Atlanta voters sent Alex Wan to the city council, making him the first openly gay man and the first Asian-American to serve on that body. Progress, thy name is…Georgia? Meanwhile, in Houston, lesbian City Controller Annise Parker has a good chance of becoming the city’s first openly gay mayor in a runoff election scheduled for December 12. Could there be still more good news for the LGBT community on its way from the South to offset the recent disappointments of the Northeast?
December 3, 2009 – The Journal Star
New York state lawmakers reject gay marriage bill
by Michael Gormley
New York lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have made their state the sixth to allow gay marriage, stunning advocates who suffered a similar decision by Maine voters just last month. The New York measure needed 32 votes to pass and failed by a wider-than-expected margin, falling eight votes short in a 24-38 decision by the state Senate. The Assembly had earlier approved the bill, and Gov. David Paterson, perhaps the bill’s strongest advocate, had pledged to sign it.
After the vote, Paterson called Wednesday one of his saddest days in 20 years of public service and he criticized senators who he said support gay marriage but "didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to vote for it. Senate sponsor Thomas Duane, a Manhattan Democrat and the Legislature’s first openly gay member, expressed anger and disappointment. "I wasn’t expecting betrayal," he said. During debate, Sen. Ruben Diaz, a conservative minister from the Bronx, led the mostly Republican opposition.
"If you put this issue before the voters, the voters will reject it," Diaz said. "Let the people decide."
But Sen. Eric Adams, D-Brooklyn, challenged lawmakers to set aside their religious beliefs and vote for the bill. He asked them to remember that once even slavery was legal.
"When I walk through these doors, my Bible stays out," Adams said.
"That’s the wrong statement," Diaz countered later. "You should carry your Bible all the time."
Others told personal stories of friends and relatives who are gay and unable to marry. Many also spoke of grandparents who survived the Holocaust and racism and said they wouldn’t want to see gays subjected to such treatment. Supporters had been hopeful they could eke out a narrow win, or a much closer vote. But afterward, they said private assurances were broken. In the end, a half-dozen Democrats opposed the measure when it was expected only two or three would vote no. While no Republicans supported the bill, most advocates expected it would attract as many as four or five GOP senators.
"This is a loss for every family in New York," said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "This is a loss for every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender New Yorker." Others tried to put a positive light on it. Immediately following the vote, gay rights advocates chanted: "Equal rights now!"
"We have a road map for 2010," said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire Pride Agenda, a leading proponent of the bill. "We certainly know who are friends. We certainly go to bed tonight knowing more about where our support is, and that’s a victory." But a fight in the election year next year might be more difficult. Gay marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont. A New Hampshire law takes effect Jan. 1.
New York also doesn’t allow civil unions, but has several laws, executive orders and court decisions that grant many of the rights to gays long enjoyed by married couples. Karen Taylor of Queens stayed home to watch the legislative debate with her partner Laura Antoniou. The women, both 46, were legally married in Toronto, but hope to be able to marry in New York someday.
"It would have more meaning to both of us to be able to marry in New York," said Taylor, the national advocacy director for Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders in New York City. "This is something that should be available to us as New Yorkers." A Marist College poll released Wednesday showed 51 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing gay marriage, while 42 percent opposed the measure. The poll questioned 805 registered voters November 12-16, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 points.
3 December 2009 – Queeried
11 Year Old Boy Hangs Himself Following Daily Homophobic Bullying
An eleven year old boy from Massachusetts was found dead earlier this year (April 6th) after he committed suicide by hanging himself with an electrical cord at his home. Speaking out about her son’s death his mother, Sirdeaner L. Walker, said Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover had been subjected to anti-gay taunts day after day at his school, the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts, and that she had been in touch weekly with school administrators over the last six months in an attempt to get them to do something about this homophobic bullying.
Saying that amongst other taunts, Carl had been told “you’re gay, you must be gay, you act like a girl” , his mother also reports that on the day of his death her son told her he had been given a five-day suspension for bumping into a girl who verbally abused him and threatened him with harm, something the school has denied occurred.
The president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Neil G. Giuliano, in speaking about Carl’s death, said it showed just how important it was that anti-LGBT defamation be eradicated and that “Words matter and can turn what should be a safe place for learning into a dangerous and isolating [place] for many students – gay and straight – who regularly face verbal and physical attacks.”
December 5, 2009 – The New York Times
2nd Gay Bishop Elected for Episcopal Church
by The Associated Press
Los Angeles (AP) – The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elected a lesbian as assistant bishop Saturday, the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican fellowship, which is already deeply fractured over the first. The Rev. Mary Glasspool of Baltimore needs approval from a majority of dioceses across the church before she can be consecrated as assistant bishop in the Los Angeles diocese. Still, her victory underscored a continued Episcopal commitment to accepting same-sex relationships despite enormous pressure from other Anglicans to change their stand.
The head of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, is scheduled to consecrate Glasspool on May 15 in Los Angeles, if the church accepts the vote. ”Any group of people who have been oppressed because of any one, isolated aspect of their persons yearns for justice and equal rights,” Glasspool said in a statement, thanking the diocese for choosing her. Glasspool was elected on a seventh ballot that included two other candidates. She won 153 clergy votes and 203 lay votes, giving her just enough to emerge as the winner.
The election began Friday with six candidates vying for two vacancies for assistant bishops. The winner for the first vacancy was the Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce, rector of St. Clement’s-By-The-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente. As the balloting progressed for the second vacancy, two other candidates eventually withdrew. The Episcopal Church, which is the Anglican body in the United States, caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Breakaway Episcopal conservatives have formed a rival church, the Anglican Church in North America. Several overseas Anglicans have been pressuring the Anglican spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, to officially recognize the new conservative entity. The Rev. Kendall Harmon of the traditional Diocese of South Carolina, which recently voted to distance itself from the national church, said Saturday’s vote would further damage relations among Episcopalians, their fellow Anglicans and other Christians.
”This decision represents an intransigent embrace of a pattern of life Christians throughout history and the world have rejected as against biblical teaching,” said Harmon, an adviser to the diocesan bishop. The 77-million-member Anglican Communion is a family of churches that trace their roots to the missionary work of the Church of England. Most overseas Anglicans are Bible conservatives.
In 2004, Anglican leaders had asked the Episcopal Church for a moratorium on electing another gay bishop while they tried to prevent a permanent break in the fellowship. Since the request was made, some Episcopal gay priests were nominated for bishop, but none was elected before Glasspool. Last July, the Episcopal General Convention, the U.S. church’s top policy making body, affirmed that gay and lesbian priests were eligible to become bishops.
Jim Naughton of The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican clergy and lay people who advocate on behalf of gays and lesbians, called Glasspool’s election ”a liberation.” ”We’ve been around this issue for 30 years,” said Naughton, an adviser to the bishop of Washington. ”It’s unreasonable to expect us to refrain from acting on the very prayerful conclusions that we’ve reached, especially when we think there are issues of justice involved.”
Robinson said he told Glasspool before the election that he was grateful she was willing to put herself in the stressful position of running for bishop. ”One of the reasons she is so the right person for this is that she knows who she is and she knows she belongs to God and she knows everything else falls in place when you keep that central,” Robinson said in a phone interview. ”She’s no stranger to people who think she shouldn’t be a priest because she’s a woman, or think she shouldn’t be a priest because she’s a lesbian.”
Glasspool, 55, an adviser, or canon, for eight years to the Diocese of Maryland’s bishop, said in an essay on the Los Angeles diocese Web site that she had an ”intense struggle” while in college with her sexuality and the call to become a priest. ”Did God hate me (since I was a homosexual), or did God love me?” she wrote. ”Did I hate (or love) myself?” She said she met her partner, Becki Sander, while working in Massachusetts, and the two have been together since 1988. When a colleague recently asked for permission to submit Glasspool’s name as a candidate in Los Angeles, she agreed because she believed it was time ”for our wonderful church to move on and be the inclusive church we say we are.”
A graduate of Dickinson College and Episcopal Divinity School, Glasspool was ordained in 1981, and has led parishes in Annapolis, Md., Boston and Philadelphia. Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno, who leads the diocese, urged Episcopal dioceses to approve Glasspool’s election and not base their decision on fear of how other Anglicans will react. The Los Angeles diocese has 70,000 members and covers six Southern California counties. Jardine and Glasspool, whose titles will be suffragan bishops, are the first women bishops in the Los Angeles diocese.
December 7, 2009 – PinkNews
Archbishop of Canterbury criticises lesbian bishop’s appointment
by Jessica Geen
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has criticised the election of a lesbian assistant bishop in Los Angeles, saying it was a threat to the cohesion of the Anglican Church. The Rev Mary Glasspool of Maryland, 55, is the first out gay bishop to be elected since 2003. She was selected this weekend. But Williams said her appointment raises "very serious questions" and suggested that diocesan bishops should reject her.
Williams said yesterday: "The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.
"The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications. The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."
In July, Anglican clergy and laity in the US voted to reject a three-year moratorium on the consecration of gay clergy. Glasspool made reference to her sexual orientation in a statement released this weekend: "Any group of people who have been oppressed because of any one, isolated, aspect of their person yearns for justice and equal rights." She added: "I am very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church, and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future."
Williams’ comments are likely to come in for criticism from liberal Anglicans and gay groups after he refused to comment publicly on the anti-gay law currently passing through Uganda’s parliament. It would mean death or life imprisonment for gays. In a statement given to the Times last week, Lambeth Palace said he was in "intensive but private" discussions with the Ugandan Anglican Church over the bill.
But a spokesman from Ekklesia, the liberal church group, told PinkNews.co.uk that the silence was more to do with current battles over homosexuality.
December 2009 – Two Spirits
Two Spirits, a documentary directed by Lydia Nibley and produced by Say Yes Quickly Productions, received a standing ovation from a sell-out crowd of more than five hundred people at its world premiere on Saturday, November 21 at the Starz Denver Film Festival.
Members of the Two-Spirit Society of Denver performed honor songs before and after the screening to bless the film’s work in the world and honor the memory of Fred Martinez. The film was followed by a panel discussion and reception hosted by the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Fred Martinez was nádleehí—someone who possesses a balance of masculine and feminine traits—a special gift according to his traditional Navajo culture. But his determination to express his truest identity tragically cost him his life. At age sixteen, he was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was murdered in Cortez, Colorado.
A Life Destroyed
On a warm summer evening, Fred Martinez—ignoring his culture’s warning to avoid going out in the dark of night—hugged his mother, said he would return soon, and left the trailer house in which they lived to attend a rodeo carnival. Dressed as he usually did with a touch of mascara, wearing a small bra stuffed with socks beneath his sweatshirt, and carrying his favorite purse, he spent several hours with friends, then he disappeared. His savagely beaten body was found five days later in a shallow canyon near his home. His murder attracted limited media attention, and the residents of the small off-reservation town in which he lived struggled to comprehend how someone so gentle—and so determined to experience a big and meaningful life—could have his life so senselessly destroyed.
The Two Spirits documentary film and the education and outreach efforts of the Fred Martinez Project are poised to play a role in deepening and expanding the ongoing national dialogue about self-identity, gender, freedom of expression, and human rights. Enough time has passed since his death that its lasting impact on his family, friends, classmates, teachers, and the law enforcement officers who investigated his murder can also be weighed as the voices and personal stories of those most intimately involved reflect the ways his death changed a community.
Why are people harassed, attacked, and killed simply for being who they are? How do these crimes affect society as a whole? And what do we do to end these tragedies? This powerful documentary—together with the project’s interconnected outreach components—place what occurred in Colorado in a universal context, illuminating one of the most complex issues of our day through the story of Fred Martinez.
The number of anti-LGBT incidents reported to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has risen in the past two years, which signals a retrograde environment where violent incidents that range from threats, harassment, and vandalism, to physical assault with weapons and vehicles, and escalate even to torture and murder are on the increase.
Fatal assaults against gender non-conforming people continue to rise, and many teens have been murdered in attacks motivated by their gender identity or gender expression–most of color, disadvantaged, and gay, lesbian, or transgender. Chillingly, offenders who were 18 years of age or under represent fully twenty percent of all offenders. There has also been a disturbing increase in gang-style violence, in which a group of perpetrators "hunt" someone they identify as LGBT, targeting them for harassment or violence.
One of the most important ways to change this dynamic within the culture is by telling the stories that humanize the issues and transform fear and bigotry into insight and compassion.
December 15, 2009 – On Top Magazine
D.C. Council Approves Gay Marriage Bill
By Carlos Santoscoy
Lawmakers in the District of Columbia have approved a gay marriage bill. Passage of Council member David Catania’s gay marriage bill came as little surprise. Today’s vote mirrored a December 1 first reading of the bill where only two members disagreed with its passage: Yvette Alexander and Marion Barry, the District’s former mayor. The remaining 11 members voted in favor of the bill.
“Today’s vote is an important victory not only for the gay and lesbian community but for everyone who supports equal rights,” Catania, an Independent, told supporters. Catania, one of two openly gay members on the council, has taken a measured approached to the issue, first introducing a gay marriage-recognition bill in the spring for the council to approve. The city’s law recognizes marriages performed in the five states which have legalized the institution: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s law takes effect January 1.
Mayor Adrian Fenty, a Democrat, has promise to sign the bill, though gay couples will have to wait 30 working days for Congress – which has final say on laws approved in the District – to respond. Whether Congress moves against the legislation remains to be seen, but opponents of the measure have already vowed they will urge lawmakers to act against the bill.
Bishop Harry Jackson, a minister at the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, has become the face of the anti-gay marriage movement in the District, forming Stand4MarriageDC.com in the spring after councilors approved the gay marriage-recognition bill. Jackson is suing to get a question prohibiting gay marriage on the ballot after the city’s Ethics Board ruled such a measure would violate the city’s Human Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. And his group began lobbying members of Congress to oppose the measure last week.
Passage in the District might give efforts to approve a gay marriage bill in New Jersey a much needed boost. Enthusiasm for the bill appears to be on wane after senators in nearby New York killed a similar bill last month and voters in Maine “vetoed” a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers in the spring. If Congress fails to intervene, the measure will likely take effect in mid-March.
D.C. gay marriage law signed at Unitarian church – Interfaith clergy coalition mobilized to promote same-sex marriage in nation’s capital.
by Jane Greer
History was made Friday, December 18, when Washington, D.C., mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed a bill in the sanctuary of All Souls Church, Unitarian, legalizing same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. The law was approved by the D.C. City Council December 15.
The Rev. Robert Hardies, senior minister at All Souls, is co-chair of D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality, one of the groups instrumental in securing the law’s passage. “I applaud Mayor Fenty and the D.C. Council for standing on the side of love and ending discrimination against gay and lesbian Washingtonians,” he said in remarks during the signing ceremony.
In addition to Fenty and Hardies, D.C. city counselors Vincent Gray, Jim Graham, David Catania, and Phil Mendelson spoke. When Fenty finished signing the document, a crowd of several hundred erupted in cheers. Around 100 members of the All Souls congregation were among the crowd, according to Adam Gerhardstein of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Washington Office for Advocacy, including many supporters of the UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love public advocacy campaign. The choice of All Souls for the signing was ideal, counselor Graham told the Washington Post. “It’s great that [the mayor’s] chosen one of the key churches in this struggle, rather, in this victory, in the most diverse ward in the city.”
Hardies credited strong multi-faith religious support as a key factor in the law’s passage. The Rev. Christine Y. Wiley and the Rev. Dennis W. Wiley, ministers of the predominantly African American Covenant Baptist Church, co-chair D.C. Clergy United with Hardies. “From the very beginning we built a multiracial, multicultural clergy group to support marriage equality,” Hardies told UU World, “so we could avoid some of the myths that are often told about marriage equality: that it pits black people against white people and people of faith against secular people.”
When the coalition sponsored a petition, called the “Declaration for Religious Support for Marriage Equality,” almost 200 D.C.-area clergy representing churches, synagogues, community groups, and divinity schools signed on. “We had more D.C. clergy supporting gay marriage than opposing it,” Hardies said. “That’s a powerful witness.”
D.C. Clergy United had an important foundation, Hardies said, in the pre-existing relationships that had been established among many of the coalition’s members. “When I, as a white gay UU minister, could call on a black straight Baptist colleague for support, we already had a relationship of solidarity and trust to draw upon,” he said. “It’s important for churches and ministers to work hard at building relationships of solidarity over time.”
The law’s signing is the culmination of an intentional campaign, Hardies said. After gaining supporters for the declaration, Hardies and Dennis Wiley co-authored an op-ed that appeared in the Washington Post on October 18. “Opponents of marriage equality would like us to believe that one cannot be both pro-God and pro-gay,” they wrote. “Yet, we lead a coalition of nearly 200 D.C. clergy who support marriage equality precisely because of our commitment to God’s inclusive love and justice.” On October 26, Hardies testified on behalf of the clergy coalition at a city council hearing on same-sex marriage.
The new law is not yet set in stone. All D.C. legislation is submitted to a thirty-day review period by Congress. Opponents, Hardies said, are filing for a referendum.
December 30, 2009 – On Top Magazine
New Hampshire Rings In 2010 With Gay Weddings
by Carlos Santoscoy
Gay couples in New Hampshire will welcome the new year with champagne toasts and wedding rings. A gay marriage law approved by lawmakers takes effect on January 1. Gay couples who want to be among the first to marry in the state will be making their wedding vows along with their new year resolutions. New Hampshire officials began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on October 3. As of Wednesday, 29 lesbian and 11 gay couples had secured marriage licenses, which expire after 90 days.
Stephen Wurtz, acting director of the state’s Division of Vital Records, told On Top Magazine that the state does not impose a waiting period for a marriage license, predicting the number of same-sex weddings on the law’s first day would not be possible. In an email, Wurtz said the state has recognized 809 gay couples in the past 24 months since a civil unions law went into effect. In its first month, January 2008, 174 gay couples tied the knot, but since then the number has steadily decreased, with only 6 civil union licenses issued so far in December.
Couples joined with a civil union can apply for a conversion to marriage or a new marriage license, but all civil unions will automatically convert to marriages on January 1, 2011. The state will no longer issue civil union licenses after December 31, 2009. Several large gay marriage celebrations are being planned for New Year’s Eve.
The New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, the group that lobbied for the gay marriage law, will hold a large celebration ceremony on the steps of the state capitol in Concord on New Year’s Eve. Claire Ebel, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, will serve as justice of the peace. (The group would not comment on how many couples they expect will marry at the event.)
Another reception is being hosted by Events Without Borders at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester. The event – Live Free or Die Single – will blend a traditional New Year’s Eve party of champagne toasts with a wedding celebration.
“This event is an affordable way for same-sex couples to legally marry, make history by being amongst the first couples to wed on the first day the law is enacted in New Hampshire, and to start the new year by publicly declaring their love while standing up for their rights at such a legislatively critical time in gay history,” Tim Harrises, event coordinator, said in a statement. New Hampshire joins Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont in legalizing gay marriage. Lawmakers in the District of Columbia have approved a gay marriage law expected to take effect in February.
December 2009 – HIV Law and Policy
Hidden Injustice: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Juvenile Courts, The Equity Project
This report examines the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth in juvenile courts nationwide. Despite the fact that LGBT youth comprise a significant portion (up to 13%) of youth in detention, they remain invisible to many juvenile justice professionals and are often treated unfairly and harshly in the justice system. Drawing from first-hand accounts of more than 50 LGBT youth and in-depth interviews of more than 60 juvenile court judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, probation officers, and detention staff from across the country, Hidden Injustice sheds light on the numerous barriers to fair and effective treatment of court-involved LGBT youth. Among these, it discusses common misconceptions about LGBT youth in the Juvenile Justice system; attempts to control, change, or punish LGBT adolescents’ sexual orientation or gender identity; the impact of family rejection on these youth and their experience in the juvenile justice system; the lack of services available to meet the needs of LGBT youth; and harmful practices in pretrial detention and unsafe and unfair conditions of confinement for LGBT youth. It also discusses barriers to defense of LGBT youth that attorneys may face.
The report provides juvenile justice professionals, policymakers, and advocates with detailed practice and policy recommendations to help them address these problems. For example, one of the report’s core recommendations is that juvenile justice professionals from judges to detention staff receive training and resources regarding the unique societal challenges facing LGBT youth and how this relates to their professional responsibilities. It also recommends that all agencies and offices involved in juvenile justice develop, adopt, and enforce official policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination against and mistreatment of LGBT youth.
The Appendix includes a model non-discriminatory services policy and a sample court order to ensure a transgender youth receives appropriate medical and mental health services related to gender transition.
Click here to download this document
2009 December 31 – PubMed.gov
Sexual Partner Concurrency and Sexual Risk Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender American Indian/Alaska Natives
by Cassels S, Pearson CR, Walters K, Simoni JM, Morris M.
From the *Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology; daggerSchool of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; double daggerDepartment of Psychology; and section signDepartments of Sociology and Statistics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
American Indian and Alaska Natives suffer pervasive health disparities, including disproportionately high rates of HIV. Sexual network dynamics, including concurrency and sexual mixing patterns, are key determinants of HIV disparities.
We analyzed data from the first national study of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender American Indian and Alaska Natives to examine the prevalence of concurrency, sex and race of partners, and level of risk across different partnership patterns. Egocentric network data were analyzed at the level of the respondents, who were grouped according to the sex of their last 3 partners.
Overall rates of HIV and concurrency were high in this population. HIV prevalence (34%) and cumulative prevalence of concurrency (55%) were highest among men who had sex with only men, while women who had sex with only women reported lower concurrency and HIV. Women who had sex with women and men also had high HIV prevalence (15%) and reported slightly higher concurrency risk and low condom use, making them effective bridge populations.
The uniformly high rates of Native partner selection creates the potential for amplification of disease spread within this small community, while the high rates of selecting partners of other races creates the potential for bridging to other groups in the transmission network. These findings provide some of the first insights into sexual networks and concurrency among Native gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations and suggest that both men and women deserve attention in HIV prevention efforts at individual, dyadic and population levels.