September 7, 2010 – The New York Times
Seymour Pine Dies at 91; Led Raid on Stonewall Inn
by Dennis Hevesi
Seymour Pine, the deputy police inspector who led the raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, on a hot summer night in 1969 — a moment that helped start the gay liberation movement — died Thursday at an assisted-living center in Whippany, N.J. He was 91. His death was confirmed by his son Daniel. Inspector Pine, who later apologized for his role in the raid, was commander of the New York Police Department’s vice squad for Lower Manhattan when he led eight officers into the Stonewall Inn, an illegal club frequented by cross-dressers, just after midnight on June 28, 1969.
Although the ostensible reason for the raid was to crack down on prostitution and other organized-crime activities, it was common at the time for the police to raid gay bars and arrest cross-dressers and harass customers. The club, on Christopher Street near Seventh Avenue South, was owned by members of the Mafia. Inspector Pine later said he conducted the raid on orders from superiors. About 200 people were inside. When the officers ordered them to line up and show identification, some refused. Several cross-dressers refused to submit to anatomical inspections. Word of the raid filtered into the street, and soon hundreds of protesters gathered outside, shouting “gay power” and calling the police “pigs.”
The turning point came when a lesbian fought with officers as she was pushed into a patrol car. The crowd rushed the officers, who retreated into the club. Several people ripped out a parking meter and used it as a battering ram; others tried to set fire to the club. It took police reinforcements an hour and a half to clear the street. It was the start of several nights of rioting, during which the police used force to disperse crowds that sometimes numbered in the thousands. Fewer than three dozen protesters were arrested, but hundreds were detained and released.
“The Stonewall uprising is the signal event in American gay and lesbian civil rights history because it transformed a small movement that existed prior to that night into a mass movement,” David Carter, author of “Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution” (2004), said in an interview. “It is to the gay movement what the fall of the Bastille is to the unleashing of the French Revolution.” In 2004, Inspector Pine spoke during a discussion of the Stonewall uprising at the New-York Historical Society. At the time of the raid, he said, the police “certainly were prejudiced” against gays, “but had no idea about what gay people were about.”
The department regularly raided gay clubs for two reasons, he said. First, he insisted, many clubs were controlled by organized crime; second, arresting gay people was a way for officers to improve their arrest numbers. “They were easy arrests,” he said. “They never gave you any trouble” — at least until that night. When someone in the audience said Inspector Pine should apologize for the raid, he did.
“There’s been a stereotype that Seymour Pine was a homophobe,” Mr. Carter said. “He had some of the typical hang-ups and preconceived ideas of the time, but I think he was strictly following orders, not personal prejudice against gay people.” Seymour Pine was born in Manhattan on July 21, 1919, one of four children of Nathan and Anne Pine. Besides his son Daniel, he is survived by another son, Charles; a brother, Arnold; a sister, Connie Katz; and seven grandchildren. His wife of 45 years, the former Judith Handler, died in 1987.
Soon after graduating from Brooklyn College in 1941, he joined the police force, but within months he was serving in the Army, first in Africa and later in Europe. He returned to the department after the war, rising to deputy inspector in the late 1960s. He retired in 1976. “He once told me,” Mr. Carter said, “ ‘If what I did helped gay people, then I’m glad.’ ”
September 21, 2010 – OnTop Magazine
NY Governor David Paterson Signs Gay-Inclusive Adoption Bill
by On Top Magazine Staff
New York Governor David Paterson has signed an adoption bill that allows gay couples to jointly adopt a child, New York-based NY1 reported. Paterson, a Democrat and a gay ally, signed the bill on Sunday. The law allows unmarried partners to jointly adopt a child in New York State. The bill also replaces the term “husband and wife” with “married couple.” Bill sponsors say the law was needed to ensure children get lifelong support, including insurance and benefits, from both adults even in the event couples split.
Gay marriage is not legal in New York. A bill that sought to legalize the institution died in the state Senate last year, despite the governor’s support. The state, however, does recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples from other states. Gay marriage is legal in neighboring Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Canada. Bordering New Jersey recognizes gay couples with civil unions.
New York-based activists have rolled out an aggressive campaign to oust senators who voted against marriage equality. Another campaign by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest gay rights advocate, features Hollywood stars and celebrity politicians urging New Yorkers to support attempts to legalize gay marriage in the state. Other states limit, or in the case of Florida, outright ban, gay couples’ access to adopt.
September 23, 2010 – PinkNews
Florida ends ban on gays and lesbians adopting
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The US state of Florida has overturned its ban on gays and lesbians adopting children. Governor Charlie Crist announced the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruling yesterday and said the ban would end immediately, although the decision can be appealed. The 1977 law made Florida the only US state to ban gay adoption, despite permitting gays and lesbians to foster children. Yesterday, the court upheld a 2008 ruling by a Miami-Dade judge who approved the adoption of two young brothers by Martin Gill and his male partner.
The boys were neglected by their biological parents and were placed with Mr Gill and his partner in 2004. Writing on behalf of the three judges on the appeal court panel, Judge Gerald Cope pointed out the disparity of allowing gays and lesbians to foster but not adopt children.
"It is difficult to see any rational basis in utilising homosexual persons as foster parents or guardians on a temporary or permanent basis, while imposing a blanket prohibition on those same persons," he wrote. "All other persons are eligible to be considered case-by-case to be adoptive parents."
Gay rights campaigners in Florida have warned that gay adoption opponents may seek to place a measure in the state constitution barring gay people from adopting. Speaking after the ruling, Mr Gill said: “This is just the news that we have been waiting so anxiously for here. This is a giant step toward being able to give our sons the stability and permanency that they are being denied.”
Leslie Cooper, a senior staff attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, which supported Mr Gill, said: “Florida’s law unconstitutionally singles out gay people and the children in their care for unequal treatment, denying many children the long-term security that comes with adoption. We are grateful that the court saw the cruel consequences this law has on children, especially those in foster care who may never know the security of a permanent home.”
September 27, 2010 – PinkNews
Almost half of HIV-positive gay men unaware, US study says
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A US study estimates that almost half of HIV-positive gay and bisexual men are unaware they are infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study also suggested that one in five of gay men in cities most affected by HIV have the virus. The research studied more than 8,000 gay and bisexual men in the 21 cities which have the highest HIV rates. They were given HIV tests by CDC researchers. In Baltimore, 38 per cent of the men tested were found to be HIV-positive, while just six per cent in Atlanta tested positive.
The highest number of infections occurred in black gay and bisexual men. This group were less likely to be aware of their infection with 59 per cent unaware, compared to 46 per cent of Hispanic men and 26 per cent of white men. Men under the age of 30 were significantly less likely to be aware of having HIV. Sixty-three per cent of HIV-positive gay and bisexual men between the ages of 18 and 30 did not know they had the virus, compared to 37 per cent of HIV-positive gay and bisexual men over the age of 30. Dr Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, told Reuters: “We can’t allow HIV to continue its devastating toll among gay and bisexual men, and in particular, among young black men.
“We need to reinvigorate our response to preventing HIV among gay and bisexual men. The severity of the impact of HIV in the gay community is nothing new,” said Carl Schmid of the non-profit AIDS Institute. “What has been missing is an appropriate response by our government, at the federal, state, and local levels, and the gay community itself.”
The research was published ahead of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is on Monday September 27th. According to CDC, gay and bisexual men represent approximately two per cent of the US population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV and are the only risk group in which new HIV infections have been increasing steadily since the early 1990s.
September 29, 2010 – ABC News
U.S. Television Getting More Gay Friendly
by Jill Serjeant
Los Angeles (Reuters) – "The Good Wife" is getting a gay brother; new teen TV show "Hellcats" features a lesbian cheerleader; and as for "True Blood" — TV watchers now need two hands to count the vampires who will suck the blood of either gender. The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters on prime time U.S. television is growing, with 58 regular LGBT roles on network and cable shows this season, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said in a report on Wednesday.
GLAAD said that 23 LGBT characters account for 3.9 percent of regular characters in scripted network shows like Emmy-winning comedies "Modern Family" and "Glee" in the 2010-2011 TV season, which started last week. On mainstream cable networks, the number of regulars jumped to 35 from 25 last year, with HBO’s surreal vampire drama "True Blood" taking the crown as the most inclusive program on TV with six recurring characters who are either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
There are an additional 32 recurring roles on broadcast and cable TV shows, but GLAAD lamented the fact that there were no black LGBT characters on network comedies and dramas. GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios said the increase in gay and lesbian characters on TV reflects "the shift in American culture toward greater awareness and understanding of our community."
"The recent critical and commercial success of shows like ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Glee’ clearly indicate that mainstream audiences embrace gay characters and want to see well-crafted stories about our lives," Barrios added. ABC’s mockumentary-style "Modern Family" won the Emmy for best comedy series, and earned another Emmy for the actor who portrays one-half of a gay couple raising an adopted baby. Popular Fox musical comedy "Glee" won a best directing Emmy and features an eclectic cast, including a gay teen and a high school singer raised by two men.
September 29 2010 – 9 News
Transgender teen stripped of homecoming title
By ninemsn staff
A transgender student in the US has been stripped of his Homecoming King crown because he is still officially a woman. Fellow students voted overwhelmingly for Oakleigh Reed, from Michigan, to be named Homecoming King but he was disqualified by his high school because he is enrolled as a female, US media reports. After undergoing counselling, the 17-year-old has decided he will undergo gender reassignment surgery when he turns 18. He has already cut his hair short and wears boy’s clothes.
Outraged by Oakleigh’s disqualification from the title, friends have started a Facebook campaign demanding their teachers at Mona Shores High School reinstate him. Oakleigh said he was pulled aside by his school principal when it became clear he had won the vote. "They told me that they took me off because they had to invalidate all of my votes because I’m enrolled as Mona Shores as a female," he was quoted by US media as saying.
The teenager said he had decided at the last minute to nominate herself for the title. "I just said, ‘Vote for me for Homecoming King.’ I don’t see why someone who is different shouldn’t be on court. I thought, ‘Hey, why not put myself out there? I have just as much qualifications as anyone else in the school." Oakleigh said the school had made several concessions to his gender in the past, including allowing him to wear a male tuxedo for his band uniform and a male robe for his graduation ceremony.
September 30, 2010 – NewsOK
Norman City Council members express views about gay, lesbian proclamation
City council members deluged this week with opposition to a proclamation designating October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender History Month express their views about it.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Oklahoman
Norman — City council members say they were deluged this week with e-mails and phone calls from constituents opposed to a proclamation designating October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender History Month.
Ward 7 Councilman Doug Cubberley said some messages left on his answering machine "threatened my livelihood.” Hal Ezzell in Ward 3 said many vowed to unseat council members who supported the proclamation. In the end, all of them said they voted their conscience. The proclamation passed Tuesday with a 7-1 vote. Councilman Dan Quinn dissented. Councilwoman Carol Dillingham was absent. "I don’t personally think the proclamation says much, but it means a lot to some people. I have to go with my constituents,” Quinn said.
The chairman of the city’s Human Rights Commission said he was surprised by the degree of opposition expressed at Tuesday’s meeting. The commission sponsored the proclamation because of testimony from members of the gay community who say they are harassed, Mike Ridgeway said. "We saw it as a way to promote understanding and ensure that all people are treated equally,” he said.
Councilman Tom Kovach said the proclamation was about "good behavior. That is what this proclamation supports. Don’t those members of the community and their families have a right to feel safe in this community?” Kovach said many of the protesters at Tuesday’s meeting asked why the council was wasting its time on such a proclamation. "The only time we’re spending on it is because the public is asking us to debate it. I’d trade you equal rights for gays for this proclamation any day. Truth is, they don’t have equal rights,” he said.
The council should uphold the rights of everyone "whether they agree with them or not,” Cubberley said. Councilman Jim Griffith said he looked at the proclamation "as an opportunity to learn. I don’t believe for a minute it is fostering a lifestyle. We need to lose attitudes of discrimination. Discrimination in any form is wrong.” The proclamation was brought to council "because of a problem in the community,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said. "It doesn’t create a special status for anyone. It simply calls for dignity and respect for all people.”
More than 100 people attended Tuesday’s meeting, with people speaking for and against it. "I think it’s about 50-50,” Cubberley said.
October 1, 2010 – PinkNews
Four US teens bullied for being gay commit suicide in a month
by Jessica Geen
At least four incidents of young men killing themselves after being bullied over their sexual orientation have been reported in the US in the last month. The most recent death was of New Jersey student Tyler Clementi, who jumped from a bridge after his roommate allegedly taped him having sex with a man. Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, New Jersey, and Molly W Wei of Princeton have been charged with invasion of privacy after they allegedly streamed the footage on the internet.
On September 23rd, 13-year-old Asher Brown, from Houston, Texas, shot himself in the head. His grieving parents said he had been persistently harassed by other students who thought he was gay. Fifteen-year-old Billy Lucas, of Indiana, hanged himself on September 9th. Classmates said he had been bullied for years over his sexual orientation. Another 13-year-old, Seth Walsh from Minnesota, died in hospital on Wednesday, eight days after attempting to hang himself from a tree. He is said to have endured taunts and abuse for being gay from other students.
It is unclear whether suicides for young gay men are up, or if there has been better reporting of their deaths. LGBT students are known to be at a higher suicide risk than their heterosexual peers. No one is expected to be charged over the harassment which led to the deaths of the three younger boys. In Seth’s case, police found that no crime had been committed. In Billy’s case, a Facebook memorial set up for him was hit by more homophobic abuse, as well as apologies from some of the students who had harassed him. Meanwhile, Asher’s parents say they repeatedly complained to his school about the persecution but officials did not take the reports seriously.
One report claimed that Asher had come out to his stepfather on the morning of his death. The Houston Chronicle reported that the boy’s stepfather accepted his declaration. In another tragedy, 19-year-old Rhode Island student Raymond Chase hung himself on Wednesday. The student was openly gay but it is not clear whether he had been bullied. The deaths have shocked America and lesbian chatshow host Ellen DeGeneres implored the country to take action and prevent further deaths.
Speaking on her daytime show yesterday, the presenter said: "Something must be done. This needs to be a wake up call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing. We have an obligation to change this." On Clementi, whose body is thought to have been recovered from the Hudson River, she added: "He was outed as being gay on the Internet and he killed himself… One life lost in this senseless way is tragic." New York-based gay rights group Empire State Pride Agenda said in a statement. “It is difficult to say if this is a trend, or if our society is becoming sensitive to this kind of story that we have heard far too often in the LGBT community.”
Judy Shepard, mother of the late Matthew Shepard who was killed a decade ago for being gay, called for schools to be made safer. “Our young people deserve better than to go to schools where they are treated this way,” she said. “We have to make schools a safe place for our youth to prepare for their futures, not be confronted with threats, intimidation or routine disrespect.”
Forty-four US states have anti-bullying laws, but gay campaigners complain that many are not comprehensive enough and do not detail what bullying can involve. Since Billy Lucas’ death, Indiana legislators have promised to tighten laws to help prevent future tragedies.
October 01, 2010 – Newsweek
Is the ‘Bullying Epidemic’ a Media Myth?
A series of suicides by gay teens has attracted national attention, but the phenomenon may not be new.
by Jessica Bennett
Last week it was Asher Brown, a Texas eighth grader who shot himself in the head, the subject of antigay tormenting at school. On Tuesday it was 13-year-old Seth Walsh, a California boy taken off life support nine days after hanging himself from a tree in his backyard—also a victim of antigay bullying. But perhaps the most twisted story yet came last Wednesday, when Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University student and accomplished violinist, threw himself off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate used a Webcam to broadcast Clementi’s tryst with a man live on the Web.
Blogs and news stories said that these young men were "bullied to death"—a ubiquitous label for the crime of the moment, the explanation du jour for tragedies and cruelty that are as old as humanity. It was made famous in a cover line on People magazine, in reference to the 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, who hanged herself last winter, and it’s even been used in conjunction with Fox reality-TV chef Gordon Ramsay, the host of Kitchen Nightmares. Last Friday, one of the contestants on the show’s first season plunged into New York’s Hudson River, an apparent suicide. The irony? On one episode, taped in 2007, Ramsay had offered the man advice on how to turn his struggling New York restaurant around, telling him, "Your business is about to f–king swim down the Hudson."
These terrible stories inevitably become instant national news, fueling the idea that we’re in a bullying "pandemic." Yet while each tale is heartbreaking, awful, despicable, most are infinitely more complicated than the media megaphone makes them sound. The Clementi case in particular is sure to become latest potent symbol for why, in the digital age, schools need bullying policies and states need legislation to punish bullies. But the question isn’t just whether these students should be held accountable—they should—but whether the bullying of today is truly any worse than the bullying of past.
It’s not that bullying isn’t a problem, particularly for kids who are gay, lesbian, or transgender. Research shows it affects one in five American students each year, and nine in 10 LGBT students, according to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. It is also known to increase levels of depression—and, thus, suicide. (Though teen suicide rates are down since 2004, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, LGBT kids are four times more likely to commit it.) But forget, for the moment, the talk-show specials, the George Washington Bridge, the Florida dad who rushed onto a school bus to scare his 13-year-old daughter’s bullies straight. The reality, say social scientists, is that bullying is neither more extreme nor more prevalent than it was during the days of pigtails dipped in inkwells—and in fact, over the past decade, prevention programs have been effective in lowering it. "The picture created in the media," says Norwegian psychologist Dan Olweus, a world-renowned bullying expert, "simply does not fit with the reality."
Cyberbullying has indeed added a new and potent threat—it can be more invasive, further-reaching, and harder to wash away than hurtful comments scrawled on a bathroom. And the medium for some of these cases—like with Clementi, the young Rutgers student—is often video or images distributed far and wide, making the torment all the more detailed and excruciating.
A decade ago a cruel classmate might have simply taunted Clementi for being gay or kissing a man, or perhaps described seeing them together. That could be upsetting enough. But now, a Webcam allowed Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, to post the video live—Clementi’s sexual life was instant fodder for potential campuswide mockery. And it was far too easy to gather: Ravi simply turned on his computer remotely, and saw Clementi kissing another man. On Sept. 19, he tweeted "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." In the new world, even the alleged suicide note became a piece of social media when Clementi wrote on his Facebook page "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."
This particular scenario simply couldn’t have happened a decade ago. But there’s something else going on here, too—and it’s more than awful behavior by a bunch of nasty teens. We are a culture for whom bully-spotting has become a sport; bullying itself a ubiquitous label (and damning accusation) fueled by a breed of helicopter parents who want to protect their kids from every stick and stone, and of news commentators who whip them further into a frenzy. When it comes down to it, antibully crusading has become almost evangelical in its fervor. It’s also a become a "cottage industry," says Suffolk University Law School’s David Yamada, complete with commentators and prevention experts and a new breed of legal scholars, all preparing to take on an enemy that’s always been there.
None of this is to say that bullying is not a serious problem, or that tackling it is not important. But like a stereo with the volume turned too high, all the noise distorts the facts, making it nearly impossible to judge when a case is somehow criminal, or merely cruel.
October 02, 2010 – OnTop Magazine
Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, Lance Bass On Tyler Clementi Suicide
by On Top Magazine Staff
Openly gay stars are speaking out on the suicide of gay Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. Officials fished Clementi’s body out of the Hudson River on Thursday. The 18-year-old student took his own life last week after learning that his roommate secretly posted on the Internet live video of him having sex with another man. Clementi’s death is the latest in a string of recent incidents where young teens took their lives after being bullied for being gay.
Among the stars speaking out are chat show host Ellen DeGeneres, How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris and former ‘NSYNCer Lance Bass. “Let me assure you, if you’re getting bullied and feeling like you’re on the outskirts, it gets better,” father-to-be Harris said in a video posted on MTV.com. “Because, when you get older, you find that people are actually drawn to individuals with different points of view who are proud of who they are and who make interesting and different and unique choices for them – at least I am.”
“My heart is breaking for their families, for their friends and for our society that continues to let this happen,” DeGeneres said Friday on her show The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “We can’t let intolerance and ignorance take another kid’s life.” In his video message, singer Bass confessed to bullying gay kids in his youth. “I had the secret this whole time. And so if people can look at me and see that I was one of those bullies that, like, always made fun of gay people and I had this huge secret, there is always more to the story than you see.”
October 2nd 2010 – The New York Daily News
Rutgers honors Tyler Clementi, tortured freshman who took his own life, before football game
by Henrick Karoliszyn, Mike Jaccarino and Larry Mcshane Daily News Writers
Rutgers University, during its homecoming weekend, honored a student who won’t ever graduate: Tyler Clementi, the tormented freshman whose killed himself last week. A moment of silence was observed inside the 52,000-seat Rutgers Stadium before Saturday’s football game against Tulane, as students and alumni stood quietly to remember the 18-year-old student. "This week, the Rutgers community has been deeply saddened by the tragic death of our first-year student Tyler Clementi," said the stadium announcer as the late teen’s name appeared on the stadium scoreboard.
After the silent acknowledgment of the Ridgefield, N.J., teen, the announcer extended the university’s "heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and to all who knew him and mourn his loss." It was the first of two events honoring Clementi, a talented violinist who killed himself Sept. 22 after his same-sex dorm room tryst was streamed on the Internet by his roommate. The Rutgers Symphony Orchestra dedicated its performance last night to Clementi, starting the evening with a moment of silence.
"Let’s hope the lessons we learn from such a tragedy help make our society better," conductor Kyman Johns told the crowd. "Tyler Clementi lived and celebrated his life through music. Let’s continue that celebration tonight." Rutgers graduates back on campus for homecoming were angry and disgusted by the tragedy. "What happened was really horrible," said Sean Glasgow, 38, a 1992 alum. "Unfortunately, lives were ruined forever."
Undergraduate Peter Baldwin, 21, rested his head sadly on a stadium railing for the moment of silence. He wore a black T-shirt to the game in mourning for Clementi. "I’ve had to deal with stuff like that – being bullied and made fun of," said Baldwin, of Belleplain, N.J. "I really find it disgusting."
The tormented Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge three days after his sexual encounter was broadcast via his roomie’s webcam. A pair of Rutgers students were charged with invasion of privacy for the cybersnooping. Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, both 18, face five years in jail.
October 3, 2010 – CNN
Rutgers suicide incident raises legal issues
by Moni Basu, CNN (CNN) – Amid intense public attention, Tyler Clementi’s family remained quiet Friday, except to say that their personal tragedy has raised a host of legal issues for the country. "We understand that our family’s personal tragedy presents important legal issues for the country as well for us," said a statement from the family of the Rutgers University student who committed suicide after an internet broadcast of him engaged in a sexual encounter with a man. "Regardless of legal outcomes, our hope is that our family’s personal tragedy will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity," the statement said.
The legal closure to this case is far from apparent. It’s still not clear what charges Clementi’s roommate Dhuran Ravi and his friend Molly Wei will ultimately face. The two Rutgers students have been charged with invasion of privacy for surreptitiously placing a webcam in Ravi’s dorm room and streaming online Clementi’s encounter with another man. Ravi allegedly sent messages on Twitter about the video and invited his friends to watch the video on iChat.
On September 22, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. New Jersey prosecutors were determining Friday whether additional charges, including bias, may be brought against Ravi and Wei. ”The initial focus of this investigation has been to determine who was responsible for remotely activating the camera in the dormitory room of the student and then transmitting the encounter on the internet,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan said. ”Now that two individuals have been charged with invasion of privacy, we will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges,” Kaplan said in a statement.
What is clear, though, is that the Rutgers case has reignited debate over cyber incivility and whether tougher privacy laws are needed in a technologically advanced age when anyone can instantly disseminate information about another person with relative ease. Newark attorney Henry Klingeman, who used to be a federal prosecutor, said that in many cases, it’s unlikely that anyone would serve significant jail time on invasion of privacy charges like Ravi and Wei are facing. He said federal laws are stronger, but most cases are tried in state courts. Gathering or viewing sexual pictures without consent is a fourth-degree crime, and broadcasting them is a third-degree crime.
"State laws treat it like a nuisance, like graffiti on a street," Klingeman said. He likened cyber-voyeurism to the illegal recording of phone calls and said: "It took a while for the law to catch up. Now, wiretapping is illegal." This summer, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews appeared in Congress to express support for federal legislation to strengthen stalking laws. The man convicted of videotaping her through a hotel peephole was sentenced to two years in prison. Her sentence, she said, was a lifetime of looking over her shoulder.
The legislation would cover technologies such as electronic monitoring, spyware, bugging and video surveillance, said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-California. Under current law, a victim must have a "reasonable fear of physical injury" before a case can be prosecuted, Sanchez said. Sometimes, that is too late. All the facts in the Clementi case are yet to surface. Ravi’s lawyer, Steve Altman, told The Star Ledger newspaper that he did not see how, under New Jersey law, Ravi and Wei could be held accountable for Clementi’s suicide.
"To my knowledge, whatever the allegations are that justify the criminal complaints filed against the students, would not justify under either legal or common law any culpability for the suicide," Altman told the newspaper.
October 2, 2010 – GlobalGayz.com
Tyler Clementi isn’t the only victim of homophobia…read more
October 4, 2010 – PinkNews
US research says 8% of men and 7% of women are gay or bisexual
by Jessica Geen
American research suggests that eight per cent of men and seven per cent of women describe themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. The results come from Indiana University’s Center of Sexual Health Promotion, which surveyed almost 6,000 adults. Last month, a British study of 450,000 adults claimed that just 1.5 per cent were lesbian, gay or bisexual.
However, critics pointed out that the British research had taken place over the phone or on doorsteps, where people may be less likely to declare their sexual orientation. The American survey is said to be the country’s biggest poll on sexual health and behaviour for 16 years.
While only seven per cent of women and eight per cent of men called themselves gay or bisexual, many more said they had experienced a same-sex sexual encounter. Fifteen per cent of men between the age of 50 and 59 said they had received oral sex from another man at least once in their lives.
October 4, 2010 – WCAX.com
Vigil for recent suicide victims
by Jennifer Reading – WCAX News
Burlington, Vermont – A string of suicides by gay teens has brought national attention to the issue of sexual orientation harrassment in schools. Young people in Vermont say they too have been bullied because they’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. According to Outright Vermont, a local advocacy group, young people struggling with their sexual orientation in Vermont are eight times more likely to consider or attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. That’s why on Monday night UVM and Outright Vermont hosted a candlelight vigil to remember victims and shed light on this issue.
In the past three weeks at least five young adults have committed suicide after being bullied over their sexual orientation. On Monday night a few hundred gathered on UVM’s green to mourn those young lives lost to ignorance. Their candles lit up the green. Some brought signs of hope. Others came to cope with these suicides that hit all too close to home. Many who attended the vigil said they could identify, on some level, with the isolation those five young men experienced and have felt that same fear of bullying and marginalization.
"Feeling like you don’t have anyone it’s a horrible place to be and I entirely understand what those kids are going through," said Lindsey Lauble who attends Champlain College.
Dan Merril spoke at Monday’s vigil:
"I feel like I am a strong and happy person, well adjusted prepared for the future," he said, "Which is exactly what I was not when I was younger and dealing with the pressure of being gay and having no one in the world know about it but me. I felt like for years and years if anyone ever knew my secret it would just be the end of the world."
Merril, and others who spoke out at Monday’s vigil, came to lend their support and understanding. They want to let others in the LGBT community know that they are not alone. "When you finally are able to be who you truly are it’s not the ending," said Merril, "It’s just the beginning."
"You really just need to find that one person in your life that’s going to love you no matter what," said Lauble.
Vigil organizers say they hope the somber gathering will allow this community to cope as well as shed light on the dire consequences of bullying. "The vigil tonight is another way that we can come together and mourn the loss and honor the lives of these youth and try to do something about it so the world is a little safer for queer youth," said Melissa Murray, Outright Vermont’s executive director. "Bullying is not okay and it does hurt people. It kills people," Lauble said.
Outright Vermont has been an advocacy group for youth in the LGBT community since 1989. The organization offers programming, support groups and other resources in communities and schools throughout Vermont. For more information about the group click on their website.
October 5, 2010 – PinkNews
‘Homophobic’ attack at New York’s Stonewall Inn
by PinkNews.co.uk Staff Writer
Two men were arrested on Sunday evening after a man was beaten in a "homophobic" attack in the Stonewall Inn in New York. The pub is a symbol of the birth of the gay rights movement after patrons staged protests in 1969 against police raids. According to Associated Press, police say that Matthew Francis, 21, and another man attacked the victim in a bathroom after asking what kind of pub the venue was.
Assistant district attorney Kiran Singh said that when the victim replied that it was a gay bar, Francis used a homophobic slur and told him to get away. Then, he is said to have demanded money and punched the victim in the head before tackling him to the ground while a co-defendant held the door closed. The incident took place at around 2am on Sunday morning. The victim was treated in hospital and was later released.
Mr Francis’ lawyer Angel Soto said that the incident had not been motivated by homophobia and that his client had not tried to rob anyone. "There may have been a fight, but it certainly wasn’t a hate crime," he said. One of the owners of the Stonewall Inn, Bill Morgan, told Associated Press: "We at the Stonewall Inn are exceedingly troubled that hate crimes like this can and do still occur in this day and age.
"Obviously the impact of these men’s violent actions is even deeper given that it occurred on the premises of the Stonewall Inn." On Friday evening, a group of gay men in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood were confronted by five men after bidding an affectionate farewell to each other. They were allegedly told to leave the area. Two of the aggressors were said to have thrown punches, while another, Andrew Jackson, 21, was arraigned on hate assault charges after allegedly throwing a metal garbage can at a victim.
October 5, 2010 – Boston.com
The Web as a weapon
by Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist
The Tyler Clementi tragedy showed how America has come a long way but still has a long way to go. The suicide of the Rutgers University freshman, after his intimate encounter with a male friend was streamed live on the Internet by his roommate and a classmate, resulted in a campus outpouring far beyond gay and straight boundaries.
To be sure, gay organizations and celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres expressed outrage, but so did the Rutgers campus. A vigil was held and there was a moment of silence at the Rutgers football game. The fraternity Phi Delta Theta created a memorial for flowers and condolences. The glee club marched to the memorial singing the “Rutgers Prayer,’’ generally sung to mourn the loss of members of the Rutgers community.
“Everyone is pretty devastated, and frankly, it’s embarrassing that something like this would happen here at Rutgers,’’ glee club member Jonathan Ramteke told the Associated Press.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie not only called it an “unspeakable tragedy,’’ but he personalized the suicide by saying, “As the father of a 17-year-old, I can’t imagine what those parents are feeling today.’’ As for the suspects, he said, “I don’t know how those two folks are going to sleep at night.’’ When a tragedy involving sexual orientation hits everyone hard, that is progress. When Rutgers spokesman Steve Manas said, “How could one roommate do this to another?’’ the question was not about gay roommates or straight roommates, just about roommates.
But as this suicide so profoundly demonstrated, the Internet is a vehicle for which we yet have no agreed value system, no clear rules of civility. It was disturbing to read in the New York Times coverage, “students debated whether the surreptitious broadcast was a thoughtless prank or crime.’’ It was unsettling to see USA Today ask out loud, “Was what happened to Clementi a hate crime, bullying, a prank or all three?’’ We need to speed to a place where the question need not be asked. The digital age is no place for thoughtless pranks, when humiliations streamed around the world can haunt victims forever.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health last year found that 14 percent of bullying is now electronic and of a “distinct nature from that of traditional bullying.’’ In traditional bullying, the highest levels of depression are found among youth who both bully and are bullied, but in cyberbullying it is the victim who is at the most risk. The researchers said, “Unlike traditional bullying which usually involves a face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their harasser; as such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack.’’ Ominously, the survey data of schoolchildren came from 2005-2006, which only begins to incorporate texting and social networking.
In a telephone interview, a co-researcher for the studies, Ronald Iannotti, said, “It is a whole different dimension when you can videotape someone, put it on the internet, and spread it to huge audiences around the world and the victim has no idea who’s watching.’’ Traditional bullying is bad enough, with gay and lesbian youth having a particularly terrible time in the last month. Three teenagers killed themselves in California, Texas, and Indiana after alleged anti-gay bullying. But as the Phoebe Prince suicide demonstrated in Massachusetts, occurring after brutal taunting over straight boy-girl dating issues, bullying is not an exclusive world.
It would be a distraction if all the debate over Clementi’s suicide went into whether the alleged tormentors, roommate Dharun Ravi and classmate Molly Wei, should get up to 5 years for invasion of privacy or up to 10 years because the element of sexual orientation element elevates this to a hate crime.
Ravi and Wei may actually prove how desperately we need common standards of digital etiquette and fresh federal statutes for those who do not abide by them. By accounts thus far, they were not homophobes, but students who momentarily lost their minds with their gadgets. Tyler Clementi’s suicide showed that as wonderful as our laptops, webcams and cellphones can be to connect us, they can also be the most terrible of weapons. Their use to hurt someone can never be considered a prank.
October 6, 2010 – The New York Times
Whiplash Can Follow a Car Crash or a Wedding Announcement
by Peter Applebome
Teaneck, N.J.- Teaneck’s tale of love, money, sexual orientation and Torah began innocently enough. A young couple, who grew up in Conservative Jewish congregations, who met at a Jewish day camp and whose lives have been dominated by Jewish interests, sent a wedding announcement to The New Jersey Jewish Standard. It said that Avichai Smolen, 23, and Justin Rosen, 24, planned to be married this month by Rabbi Joshua Gruenberg at North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, N.Y.
Photo by Avi Smolen
After much deliberation, the newspaper ran the announcement — the first in its 79-year history for a same-sex marriage — in its Sept. 24 issue. Then, in its next issue, citing complaints from Orthodox rabbis and a “firestorm” that resulted, it issued an apology for the “pain and consternation” the announcement had caused members of the Orthodox community. It promised not to run similar announcements again.
Then, after firestorms from other corners, the newspaper released a statement on Tuesday reconsidering its reconsideration. It said the paper may have acted too quickly and listened to only one segment of its readership, which includes Bergen County and beyond, Orthodox and non-Orthodox. What it says about Teaneck, a community with a history of diversity, a contentious civic culture, a Muslim mayor and an increasingly dominant Orthodox Jewish community, is worth an entire rabbinical commentary in itself. But coming at the same time as the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student, it played out like a Talmudic variation on contemporary themes.
Jews may have a reputation for tolerance, but they are splintered on gay issues. Reform and Reconstructionist communities tend to be supportive, Conservative ones conflicted but generally not hostile, and Orthodox leaders, if not all congregants, usually staunchly opposed.
So there was some sympathy for The Standard’s plight.
“This is one where they almost couldn’t win,” said Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor in chief of The New Jersey Jewish News, which serves a much less Orthodox readership. Mr. Silow-Carroll said his publication ran its first same-sex wedding announcement in January and received no response. “The Orthodox community has huge economic clout,” he said. “If they put out the word that their members shouldn’t be reading or advertising, it could be crippling for a newspaper that size.”
October 10, 2010 – NewsOn6.com
Gay Teen Takes Life After Norman City Council Meeting
by Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
Norman, Oklahoma — A 19-year old gay man committed suicide following a heated Norman city council meeting that focused on homosexuality, the teen’s family said. The family of Zach Harrington said their son killed himself after attending the September 28 city council meeting. In a 7-1 vote, the council approved a proclamation that night recognizing October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in the city of Norman. But before the vote, dozens spoke to the council in favor and against the measure.
"I also think it’s not dark thinking or bigoted thinking to have an opposition to this…But it’s clear thinking," said one Norman resident during the meeting.
"Recruiting children into these lifestyles will be very easy with this kind of open format," said another resident during the city council meeting.
Zachary Harrington’s father said it wasn’t the meeting alone that drove his son to take his own life, but it certainly didn’t help. Van Harrington said his son, who was living in Arkansas, drove all the way to his hometown of Norman to see what the city council would do. What he and so many others got was a three-hour verbal debate on the gay lifestyle.
"So many of the comments tonight are made out of lack of understanding, a lack of education, and just plain ignorance," said a Norman resident at the city council meeting. Zach’s father said his son was a very private person who came out during high school. He said the Norman North graduate was bullied and harassed at school for being gay. Van Harrington said he feels a lack of acceptance from society and what he calls a "toxic meeting" last month is what finally pushed Zach over the edge.
Several events are planned this week to spotlight gay youth and bullying.
Tuesday, October 12 the University of Central Oklahoma’s GATE (Gay Alliance for Tolerance and Equality) organization is holding a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. at Hafer Park in Edmond to discuss the issue of bullies who target gay and lesbian youth.
On Wednesday, October 13 the University of Oklahoma Sooner Ally organization is holding a candlelight vigil at 8:00 at the Unity Garden on campus to remember those who have experienced harassment.
October 14, 2010 – NewsOK.com
Norman council members express disappointment in residents’ comments about gay community
City council members expressed disappointment Tuesday night by the level of hostility expressed toward the gay community, which may have contributed to the death last week of a Norman man, officials said.
by Jane Glenn Cannon
Norman — City council members said they are disappointed by the level of hostility expressed toward the gay community during a public meeting that some say may have contributed to a Norman man’s death.
Zach Harrington, 19, killed himself at his home Oct. 5, a week after anti-gay sentiments were expressed at a Sept. 28 council meeting in a debate about a proclamation declaring October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month.
"I have talked with many people since then who could not believe the level of vitriol that was expressed,” Councilman Tom Kovac said. "An unintended consequence of that was that a young man who attended took his own life.”
Kovach said the disrespect shown at the meeting to the gay community was "mean and degrading.” "Those people had an absolute right to their opinions, but they didn’t have the right to speak hateful things,” he said.
Council members discussed the Sept. 28 meeting during miscellaneous discussion at Tuesday night’s council meeting. Carol Dillingham of Ward 4 said she missed the meeting because she was on vacation, but watched it later on television. "I watched with amazement that such incivility and hate speech would be bandied about in this chamber in my hometown,” Dillingham said. The gay community is entitled to the same rights as any other citizen, she said, "and that others can look people in the eye and be so hateful is shocking to me.”
The council voted 7-1 to pass the proclamation. Councilman Dan Quinn cast the dissenting vote. "This has been a very stressful time for all of us,” Quinn said. "There have been some inflammatory remarks made to me and my colleagues for our vote. We each try to decide what is best for the community, and among ourselves, we often disagree, but we disagree with respect.”
Councilman Doug Cubberley said Harrington "obviously took to heart those comments, and it is with my deepest regret and sorrow that he did. It was bigotry; I don’t think we can call it by any other name.” Cubberley said he had hoped the Norman community embraced diversity, "but what went on wasn’t a dialogue, but a diatribe. I found little hope in what was said.”
Resident Dean Simmons, a co-founder of PFLAG Norman (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) , said he felt compelled to address Harrington’s death at Tuesday’s meeting. "How could we, in an enlightened community, let this happen?” he asked.
October 20, 2010 – PinkNews
Pentagon tells military to start accepting gays and lesbians
by Jessica Geen
The Pentagon has told US military recruiters to begin accepting out gays and lesbians. Last week, California-based US District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that the gay ban must end immediately. Yesterday, she issued a final ruling refusing to stay her order while the government appeals. The Pentagon has suspended sackings of out gay soldiers and has confirmed that military recruiters have been told not to reject candidates who declare they are gay.
Instead, new recruits who are openly gay will be warned that the legal situation may change if the Obama administration successfully argues at a higher court to temporarily keep the ban in place. Douglas Smith, spokesman for US army recruiting command based at Fort Knox in Kentucky, told Associated Press: “If they were to self-admit that they are gay and want to enlist, we will process them for enlistment, but will tell them that the legal situation could change.”
Although President Obama supports repealing the law, he is keen to see it overturned through Congress, rather than the courts. A review of how the ban can be lifted will be completed in December. The Obama administration asked Judge Phillips to stay her order but she declined, saying that it had not given proof that her decision would harm the military. Gay rights campaigners have urged the government not to appeal further.
“Judge Phillips once again did the right thing for our national security. We call on the administration not to appeal her decision,” said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. “The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rule’ is an unconscionable law that forces brave lesbian and gay Americans to serve in silence … The law is detrimental, not only to our national security, but also to the core American value of fairness,” he added. The 1993 law was a compromise which allowed gay and lesbian people to serve in the military but required them to keep their sexual orientation secret, hence the nickname Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
October 20, 2010 – PinkNews
Video: Hillary Clinton adds voice to ‘It Gets Better’ campaign for gay teens
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Arguably the most powerful woman in the world, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added a moving voice to the ‘It Gets Better’ YouTube campaign to show solidarity with gay youth. In her message, Mrs Clinton told young gay people that they are not alone and to “hang in there.” Mrs Clinton’s video comes in response to a spate of suicides by teenagers who either were gay or were thought by others to be gay. Most of them had been bullied over their sexuality or their perceived sexuality.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to the discrimination of hate and prejudice,” she said. “These most recent deaths are a message to all Americans to overcome bigotry and hatred. Hang in there and ask for help, your life is so important to your family, your friends and to your country. There is so much waiting for you both personally and professionally. There are so many opportunities for you to develop your talents and contributions.
“The story of America is a story of people coming together, tearing down barriers and insist on equality. Not only for themselves but for all people. In the process they create a community of support and equality that endured When I think of the progress made by women in my lifetime, by religious minorities and by gays and lesbians many of whom can now live their lives are free to live their lives openly and proudly.
“Here at the State Department, I’m grateful every day for the work of our LGBT employees who are serving the US as foreign service officers, civil servants here and around he world. It wasn’t long ago that these men and women were not able to serve openly, but now they can because it has got better, and it will get better for you, so take heart and have hope and please remember that your life is valuable and you’re not alone. Many people are standing with you and sending you their thoughts, their prayers and their strengths, count me among them. Take care of yourselves.”
October 20, 2010 – She Wired
Ninth Gay Teen Suicide Since March 2010
by SheWired Editor
A 19-year-old Oakland University sophomore took his own life Tuesday, a few months after telling his family and friends he was gay. Family members of Corey Jackson say they believe the Rochester Hills, Mich., college student had been bullied over his sexual orientation, and it ultimately led him to commit suicide.
"I believe [it happened] because he recently realized he was a homosexual and he was getting pressured at school by his peers because he told his family and nothing changed here," his grandmother Carolyn Evans told Click On Detroit. "Corey was the most loving, giving, funny person. He had the most wonderful personality. He had cousins from ages 14 down to 2 and he never said a bad word about anybody. When he went to school and he realized his sexual preference had changed, he changed completely. He withdrew."
Oakland University president Gary Russi said in an e-mail to students that Jackson’s death "diminishes us all."
"In our mourning, I am hopeful that we will not focus on the manner of Corey’s death, but rather celebrate the life he lived and the people he touched," Russi wrote. Students organized a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to honor Jackson. The president Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, of which Jackson was a member, wore a purple shirt Wednesday in remembrance of Jackson and in support of ending bullying of LGBT teens. Police are still investigating Jackson’s death, but the Oakland County medical examiner’s office confirmed that it had been ruled a suicide.
October 31, 2001 – Bradenton.com
Southeast High student stands up for gay classmates
by Natalie Neysa Alund
Southeast Principal Katherine Smith called Max a passionate young man with vigor. The two sat down this week to discuss his preliminary plans. Smith, who backs his efforts, said they’re just waiting on formal approval from the Trevor Project about how Max will facilitate the workshops and start the club. “There‘s a lot of external pressures nowadays. Home lives aren’t what they used to be,” Smith said. “As much as we think kids are totally resilient to things, they’re not. They’re getting negative thrown at them from so many different directions so anytime you can help a student, that’s what you want to do.”
“I see our kids handling diversity here very well,” Smith said. “When you walk into our cafeteria everybody sits with everybody. You’ll always have people who have deep, embedded beliefs that will want to challenge certain things in life and anytime you have a controversial issue they have a tendency to make their place known but that’s part of the democratic process. We’re going to be working side by side with people all our lives. We’ve got to work to find ways to celebrate diversity, not just argue and get angry.”
Max’s mom, Patricia Staebler, stands behind her son’s efforts.
“I could not be any more proud knowing my son will contribute to saving young lives,” said his mother, who is past-chair of Junior Leadership Manatee. She said Max also plans to work with Junior Leadership Manatee to raise awareness.
“We’re very proud of Max in showing such great leadership in trying to stop all forms of bullying,” said schools Superintendent Tim McGonegal. McGonegal said he plans to meet with Max’s mother sometime this week about her son’s efforts.
Blake Hanes, a Braden River High School alumnus, said he’s hopeful the club will get started but doesn’t expect it to happen any time soon. “It will happen but will take a lot of effort,” said Hanes, a freshman at State College of Florida, who was teased when he came out in middle school. “When the bullying started, I talked to the principal of my school at the time, I really think they just didn’t know what to do. Didn’t have much experience with it. So I think it’s an incredible idea and I’m really proud of Max for doing that.”