Gay USA News & Reports 2011 Apr-Jul

1 Group alleges abuse of gay, transgender prisoners 4/11

1a Rep. Frank: Antigay Hatred Losing Steam 4/11

1b Therapy Matters – Reflections of a young clinician 4/11

2 Delaware approves civil unions for gay couples 4/11

2a Growing Up Gay and Transgendered in Appalachia 4/11

3 Two Gay Men Raising 12 Children In Arizona 5/11

4 Deportation of gay illegal Irishman stopped by Feds 5/11

5 After years feeling lost, Katie finds her new identity 5/11

6 After 60 Years, an Unfaded Desire to Make It ‘Legal’ 5/11

7 Delaware governor signs civil unions bill 5/11

7a Project Coming Out: Gay Teenagers in Their Own Words 5/11

8 Woman files for divorce from gay husband in the UAE 5/11

9 Isolated gay people and support from the LGBT community 5/11

10 President Obama declares June ‘LGBT Pride Month’ 6/11

11 American Gay Youth at Risk in School 6/11

11a Two Spirits: Overlapping Identities for First Nations People 6/11

11a1 Is Coming out Always a Good Thing? 6/11

11b Hightstown High School lacks a Gay-Straight Alliance, but…6/11

11c Generation HIV: Young Gay Men At Risk 6/11

12 NY Allows Same-Sex Marriage, Largest State to Pass Law 6/11

12a The Gay Bar – Why the gay rights movement was born in one. 6/11

13 Rhode Island governor signs gay civil union law despite doubts 7/11

14 Acknowledging the Past 7/11

15 Hate crimes against gay, transgender people rise, report says 7/11

15a Keane: Gay marriage becomes just a matter of time 7/11

16 Gay candidates gain acceptance 7/11

17 Obama Ends ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy 7/11

17a One in four Massachusetts gay teenagers ‘are homeless’ 7/11

18 After Long Wait, Same-Sex Couples Marry in New York 7/11

19 Gay Marriage – Goin’ to the Mansion … 7/11

20 Couple who sued for right to marry seven years ago… 7/11

April 14, 2011 – 365Gay

Group alleges abuse of gay, transgender prisoners

by Jennifer Vanasco/editor
(Washington) For 22 hours a day, Alejandro Cortez-Reyna, who is transgender, was confined to a 5-by-9-foot cell in immigration custody. Eventually the time out of the cell was reduced to about 45 minutes. When Cortez-Reyna once asked why dayroom time for gay or transgender immigrants at the Theo Lacy facility in California was cut to less than two hours, a guard responded, “Because you need to learn not to be a faggot.”
The guard’s response is part of a civil rights complaint filed Wednesday on behalf of Cortez-Reyna and 12 others. It alleges systemic abuse and neglect of gay and transgender immigrants while in custody at facilities owned or contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Chicago-based Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center filed the action with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Inspector General’s Office.

Alliance leaders said the allegations go beyond mistreatment by a few guards. They include blanket policies against the immigrants such as the rule at Theo Lacey that keeps all gay and transgender immigrants confined to their cells for 22 hours and the practice at a Santa Ana, Calif., jail that denies hormone treatments to transgender immigrants. The complaints were filed on behalf of men and women currently or recently detained in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Some have been granted asylum or have been released to pursue asylum appeals. “It has become clear that the Department of Homeland Security is incapable of ensuring safe and nonpunitive conditions for sexual minorities,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of Heartland Alliance.

McCarthy says Heartland wants the Obama administration to investigate the allegations along with two pending complaints it filed alleging sexual assault against two detainees. One of those complaints goes back nine months. A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Gillian Christensen, said the agency plans to review and investigate and address any claims. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement takes any allegations of mistreatment or abuse very seriously,” she said.

The agency has discussed detention reforms previously with Heartland Alliance and other groups it meets with regularly, Christensen said. As a result, the agency last month issued guidelines for the housing and care of “vulnerable and special needs populations,” she said. Margo Schlanger, Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog, said her office will investigate promptly. Cortez-Reyna, who wants to be considered a woman goes by the name Alexis, said she and other gay and transgender immigrants were stripped to their underwear and searched in front of other immigrants who were not gay. Cortez-Reyna’s complaint says an officer frequently threatened Cortez-Reyna and other immigrants. Many kept silent about mistreatment because they feared retaliation or that it would affect their immigration cases, the complaint says.

“As a human, it really got to be really depressing. I didn’t choose to be homosexual, that’s who I am. They did not treat us like human beings,” Cortez-Reyna said in a phone interview. In another case, a transgender detainee whose name was redacted from an affidavit released by Heartland Alliance was held in a McHenry, Ill., facility for nine months, an experience the immigrant called “living in hell.” The detainee was isolated except for officers who were verbally and physically abusive, the complaint said. “I am treated very poorly compared to other prisoners … I am not allowed to leave my cell … the officers say the detainees can only talk to members of the same gender and say that I am not any gender,” the complaint says.

One of the Obama administration’s immigration initiatives has been to improve conditions at detention facilities. Early in Obama’s term, Immigration and Customs Enforcement promised to monitor and enforce contract performance standards. Advocates say the administration has fallen short of its promises. The Homeland Security Department owns and operates its own immigration centers, which are privately run, and contracts with local law enforcement for another 33,000 beds. The administration planned to replace private contractors with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at 52 facilities where about 80 percent of the immigrant detention policy is housed.

Facilities named in the complaint are: Theo Lacy Facility, Santa Ana City Jail, Mira Loma Detention Center and El Centro Processing Center in California; Houston Processing Center, IAH Polk County Detention Center and Willacy County Processing Center, Texas; Florence Service Processing Center and Eloy Detention Center in Arizona; Otero County Detention Center, New Mexico; Kenosha County Detention Center, Wisconsin; McHenry County Jail, Illinois; La Salle Detention Center, Louisiana; and York County Detention Center, Pennsylvania.

April 16, 2011 – The Advocate

Rep. Frank: Antigay Hatred Losing Steam

The Massachusetts congressman has little faith there will be a federal remedy for gays and lesbians seeking to marry anytime soon, but he also believes marriage equality is quickly fading as a controversial issue.

by Editors
Rep. Barney Frank has little faith there will be a federal remedy for gays seeking to marry anytime soon, but he also believes marriage equality is quickly fading as a controversial issue while antigay prejudice becomes less acceptable in society.
In a May interview with Playboy on subjects ranging from health care reform to the legalization of marijuana, the Massachusetts congressman said, “Overall I think antigay prejudice is on its way out.”

An excerpt from the interview:
: Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Although states may allow same-sex marriage, only recently did Obama say the federal government would no longer defend DOMA in court.

Rep. Frank: There are lawsuits against it that I think will win anyway, because the federal government can’t discriminate. Beyond that I don’t see anything about gay marriage happening on a federal level. More and more states will go that way, though. When they do, people will see, as with health care and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” that there are no negative consequences. Places that have gay marriage have had none of the negative consequences that people warned us about. Zero. The divorce rate hasn’t gone up. There have been no calamities. Marriage hasn’t lost its meaning. Same-sex marriage as a divisive issue is losing its steam. Overall I think antigay prejudice is on its way out.

Playboy: Antigay sentiments are still expressed, often from the conservative right and especially from the Christian right. There are still hate crimes against gays.

Rep. Frank: Yes, and we have to deal with them. We passed a bill to add crimes against gays and lesbians as hate crimes. Hate crimes, whether against gays or anyone else, can’t be tolerated. Overall, antigay prejudice is diminishing. It won’t be used by the far right the way it once was. It just doesn’t work anymore. But I worry about what will replace it. I think they will increasingly focus on abortion, escalating it as their issue to inflame people. They’ll work on whittling away the right to have an abortion, striking down any federal funding.

Read the full article and interview here.

April 19, 2011 – Psychology Today

Therapy Matters – Reflections of a young clinician

by Tyger Latham, Psy.D.
Scientific Homophobia
When it comes to homosexuality, we have not always practiced what we preach.
Published by Tyger Latham, Psy.D. in Therapy Matters

The recent debate about gender conformity and sexual identity sparked by last week’s J. Crew advertisement controversy has me thinking a lot about gender stereotypes. Stereotypes can be dangerous. They frequently lead to the type of black-and-white thinking that is so often associated with discrimination. Our own psychiatric field is not immune to this phenomenon; in fact, at times we have even been responsible for perpetuating it. While our field has done much to educate others about the dangers of stereotyping, we have not always practiced what we preach. Take, for example, the use of psychological science to perpetuate homophobia.

Throughout history science has been appropriated to support morality, particularly as it related to sexuality. Often scientific theories have been presented as objective truths, analogous to the laws of physics or evolution. It is certainly understandable why moralists would wish to use science to support their beliefs. In our Western world, good science is thought to be irrefutable. Science often provides a framework for understanding natural and human phenomena without the apparent bias of emotion and subjective experience. It relies on detached observation, logic, and reason. Unfortunately, those who practice science have sometimes allowed themselves to be blinded by morality when studying human sexuality (Mohr, 2010).

American Psychiatry and Homophobia
Given all the evidence to the contrary, why did it take so long for psychiatry to publicly denounce the pathologization of homosexuality? The answer to this question is rooted in morality, not science. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association made the much belated decision to delete homosexuality as a diagnostic category from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Ironically, this decision was not based on new scientific evidence but the result of political pressure from activists in and out of the Association (Mohr, 2010).

American psychiatry, as with clinical psychology, has suffered from "scientific heterosexism," an idea that rests on the very unscientific assumption that heterosexuality is "normal" and all other form of sexuality – such as homo- and bi-sexuality – are aberrant. If that were not bad enough, psychiatrists and psychologists have created empirical-supported treatments designed to correct these so-called sexual aberrations.

Contradicting their own medical training, the American Psychiatric Association for much of the 20th century argued against the idea that homosexuality was biologically-based, claiming instead that it was a response to environmental conditions interfering with "normal" psychosocial maturation (Terry, 1999). This belief led the profession to develop a disease-based model of homosexuality that remained on the books until recently. The original DSM (1952) listed homosexuality as a "sociopathic personality disorder." It was later upgraded in 1968 to a "sexual deviation" but it was not until 1973, after the APA’s proclamation against homophobic diagnoses, that homosexuality was removed entirely from the diagnostic manual. However, the revised DSM-II continued to make reference to a less pathological "ego-dystonic homosexuality," a classification reserved for homosexuals who were distressed about their sexual orientation. In essence, this more benign form of homophobia allowed psychiatrist and psychologists to continue to treat their patients’ homosexuality as though it were a disorder. It was only in 1987 that reference to ego-dystonic homosexuality was removed entirely from the DSM-III.

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20 April 2011 – PinkNews

Delaware approves civil unions for gay couples

by Jessica Geen
The US state of Delaware has become the eighth to give gay couples the right to civil unions. The measure was approved this month by 13-6 votes in the Senate and 25-16 votes in the House. It must now be signed into law by Governor Jack Markell.
He said after the House vote: “I congratulate everyone who worked so hard to make these rights real and look forward to signing this bill into law. When it came to this legislation, it was clear that it was about rights, it was about opportunity and it was about time.”

The law will be implemented on January 1st next year. Gay couples “will have all of the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities as married persons under Delaware law,” the measure says. Faiths will retain the right not to carry out the ceremonies if they wish. The bill survived several attempts to water it down. These included an amendment to allow anyone to refuse services in relation to a civil union on the grounds of religious belief.

The bill’s chief House sponsor, Rep Melanie George, said this could lead to mixed-race couples being denied goods and services. Five US states and the District of Columbia allow gay couples to marry.

April 30, 2011 – The Atlantic

Growing Up Gay and Transgendered in Appalachia

by Alex Hannaford
Tyler Watts remembers having a happy childhood: His parents gave him everything he ever wanted, but as a young teenager growing up in Hindman, Kentucky, a small town of around 700 people, nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Watts was also fighting demons. Comments and jokes — both from strangers and even some members of his own family — about "gays" and "fags" would jolt right to the pit of his stomach, but at the time, Watts wasn’t quite sure why.
Looking back, the 37-year-old says he was terrified of admitting who he really was because of those comments he had heard growing up. "I was worried what people would think of me," he says.

I hated it with a passion. In my head I was thinking ‘You’re dressing me like a girl and I’m not a girl’." Watts was born Tammy Watts, but for the last three years he has lived as a transgendered man. And thanks to an oral history project spearheaded by the nonprofit StoryCorps, whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds with the opportunity to preserve the stories of their lives for posterity, and the Kentucky Equality Federation, which is focusing on sexual orientation in rural Kentucky, Watts is about to share his tale of growing up in rural Appalachia in the hope it can help other people like him. The stories are to be preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

"I remember when I first started school and in my mind I related to myself as a little boy," he says. "When I went into first grade I’d get ready to use the bathroom the boys used and the teacher told me ‘no no no — this way’." At first Watts thought he was gay. "Society coerces you into thinking you’re something you’re not," he says. "My parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses at the time and I remember my mom would want me to wear dresses to meetings and I would throw a fit. I felt so uncomfortable in a dress, even as child. I hated it with a passion. In my head I was thinking ‘You’re dressing me like a girl and I’m not a girl’."

Watts began dating a girl in high school and eventually came out to his parents, but said it was when he went through his transition three years ago that the problems started. "My parents learned to deal with thinking I was a lesbian. But when I came out with my transition … my mother has every right to hurt. She still lives [in Hindman] and works in a small office there and you know how small-office politics are."

He says he understands the emotions his mother is going through, but insists it’s important for parents of transgendered children to go through a process of acceptance. "You may never understand it, but you can accept it. There’s a lot of information out there. And your child is not the only one going through this." Quinton Lewis’s experience growing up in rural Kentucky was not dissimilar. Now 17 years old and in his final year of high school, he says he first realized he was gay when he was eight. "I didn’t want to tell anybody. I felt alone. But I ended up telling my mom when I was ten and my friends when I turned 12." Lewis remembers the day he broke the news to his mother. It was the night of November 2nd, 2004. "I was laying in bed, watching TV," he says. "I told myself that mom should know; that she will love me no matter what, so I wrote it on a piece of paper and told her to read it. She started crying and told me she’d still love me the same no matter what I am or who I date. I felt a lot better after I told her, but to this day I don’t really talk about it with her.

"I’m scared to go to school; there are kids that pick on me because I’m gay. I’m scared to use the bathroom because I might get into a fight. These are rednecks and country people. I’m thinking about moving to a bigger city where I’ll feel more comfortable living there; probably California or New York. I feel that if I tell other kids my life story, they might understand how I feel. They might be going through the same things I went through and I want to tell them how to get through it, who to talk to, and if they get picked on in school, who to tell and how to avoid it."

May 01, 2011 – On Top Magazine

Two Gay Men Raising 12 Children In Arizona

by On Top Magazine Staff
Steven and Roger Ham are raising 12 children in Arizona, a state that bans gay and lesbian couples from adoption and marriage. The Hams, known as daddy and papa to their adoptive children, were profiled in Sunday’s The Arizona Republic. The men met in 1993 in Reno and fell in love on their first date. But it would be 8 years before they decided to adopt what was supposed to be their only child, Michael.

But Michael continually worried about his four younger siblings, who still were in foster care, so the men rounded up Elizabeth, Andrew and the twins, Jackson and Madison. “It was very heart-wrenching to see this little 5-year-old with these big adult concerns,” said Steven. “He should have been playing with his Legos.”

“It broke our hearts,” Roger added. Ten of the children are adopted in Arizona, and legally belong only to Steven, because the state does not allow gay couples to adopt or a gay spouse to adopt a partner’s child. The dads are considered full parents in two adoptions from Washington state. “With only one legal parent, children in gay households are not entitled to health and Social Security benefits, inheritance rights or child support from the other parent,” the paper wrote. “If a gay couple splits up, only the legal parent has custody rights.”

The couple has taken in 42 foster children over 10 years; some moved on, some stayed. “We knew the kids deserved a better life, and someone who would love them, no matter what,” Steven said. “None of my kids will ever tell you, anytime in their lives, even years from now, that they didn’t feel loved.”

May 08, 2011 – Irish Central

Deportation of gay illegal Irishman stopped by Obama administration

An undocumented gay Irishman, Paul Wilson Dorman, is at the center of a major battle by the Obama administration to set aside the Defense of Marriage Act which states that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Attorney General Eric Holder has asked the Board of Immigration Appeals to set aside their ruling deporting Dorman to Ireland under the act on the basis that the act is now being challenged in court and may be set aside. His actions have once again put the issue of gay marriage and whether it can be acknowledged legally in America back on the front pages.

Dorman has lived illegally in New Jersey where he has a civil partnership with another gay man. He was liable for deportation after his undocumented status was discovered. Now however, in an extraordinary move, Holder has halted the deportation and asked the The Board of Immigration Appeals judges to reconsider the case and judge whether Dorman can be considered a spouse of an American citizen or if there are other extenuating circumstances to keep him in America. The Obama administration stated in February that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and this is the first step in that process.

Dorman and his partner had already decided to take their case to a federal appeals court because they believed the decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals was based on the Defense of Marriage Act which they believe is unconstitutional. The fact that the Obama administration has now jumped in on their side is seen as highly significant. People who are facing deportation can ask immigration judges let them stay in the U.S.

Lavi Soloway, a New York immigration attorney and founder of Immigration Equality, a group that advocates for the immigration rights of gay couples told the Associated Press the Dorman decisions is long overdue because there is clear discrimination against gay couples on immigration issues because spouses legally marriesdby law in several states cannot sponsor their partners "This is the right path. Until Congress can pass legislation to remedy this, the executive branch can and should act," Soloway said.

May 8, 2011 – Tulsa World

After years feeling lost, Katie finds her new identity

by Cary Aspinwall – World Staff Writer
Bixby – Katie Hill tries not to take it personally when people don’t understand what transgender means. She didn’t know herself for a long time. A common assumption is that it’s something like a drag queen, or a person who likes to dress up in the opposite gender’s clothing on occasion. Except that for transgender individuals, it’s not about the costume or outfit. They genuinely feel like the gender they’re born into simply doesn’t fit. "It wasn’t my fault," Katie said. "It was just nature handing me something that wasn’t fair. I couldn’t look in the mirror without wanting to cry."

It’s hard to look at a 16-year-old considering gender reassignment surgery and not think: "But she’s so young!" In life experience, yes. In terms of children experiencing gender identity disorder, not really. Dr. William Reiner at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center specializes in pediatric urology and child/adolescent psychiatry. His patients are children born with chromosomal and genital abnormalities that cause reproductive health issues, intersex children and, on rarer occasions, transgender children.

Katie is not one of his patients. Most of his are younger. Some children start exhibiting gender identity disorder as young as 3 or 4, Reiner said. In many cases, they won’t necessarily end up as transgender adults. It’s simply part of an "extraordinarily" complex journey of humans that scientists believe can be influenced by genetics, environment, temperament and personality. If children are still exhibiting gender identity disorder by ages 12-13 and into adolescence, they most likely will remain transgender for the rest of their lives, Reiner said.

Pediatricians can give children who have gender identity disorder puberty-blocking hormones to allow more time to decide before their bodies fully develop into mature characteristics of their birth gender. In most cases, doctors recommend waiting until age 16 to let them begin living as the opposite of their birth sex. But doctors have to weigh that against the anxiety and depression that transgender children often struggle with. "If you ask what is the right thing to do with children who are transgender, the answer is we don’t really know," Reiner said. "What’s really important is to listen to the kids and try to figure out what it all means to them."

Standing tall
Becoming Katie Hill meant that she would never have to live unhappily as Luke again. That didn’t mean being Katie would be easy. Katie’s first day of her junior year at Bixby High School upset her so much that she left the district she had attended since elementary school and enrolled in Oklahoma Virtual High School. Katie heard that some parents called Bixby High School and said they wanted their kids’ schedules changed so they wouldn’t have classes with her. "They did not want their kids to be in a room with a child like ‘this,’ " her mother, Jazzlyn Hill, recalled.

Enrolling Katie at another high school in a different district wasn’t an option. Jazzlyn and her ex-husband Randy Hill both work, and no one could drive Katie across town every day to go to another school. Randy teaches the ROTC program at Bixby High School. He did not respond to interview requests for this story. Katie planned to finish her high school degree at home, where she felt safe to be herself without taunting and whispering from classmates who used to know her as Luke. But she would have no Spanish class, no prom or school dances, no lunch period with friends.

An "A" student, she planned to breeze through her coursework and move on to college. But after months of studying at home, Katie’s choice became tolerating isolation or teasing. She decided she would rather put up with stares and whispers than spend eight hours each weekday at home, alone with nothing but her books and computer for company. She needed human contact beyond Facebook and texting. At Bixby High School, a Safe Team is in place to protect her and all students from bullies. There are friends, in addition to the stares, and teachers who are fond of her.

And there’s Brandon.

May 11, 2011 – City Room

After 60 Years, an Unfaded Desire to Make It ‘Legal’

by Corey Kilgannon
Richard Adrian Dorr first sang for John Mace at the Juilliard School of Music in 1948: a rendition of the show tune “All the Things You Are,” in which the singer elegantly explains all the wonderful things his lover is to him. Mr. Mace knew the song intimately and he accompanied Mr. Dorr on piano, with no sheet music. The song ends with the hope that, “someday I’ll know this moment divine, when all the things you are, are mine.”
For Mr. Mace, who is 91, and Mr. Dorr, 83, that moment divine would come with a marriage in New York City where the couple has lived together for more than 60 years.

“Our friends have told us, ‘You two guys should get married in Massachusetts or Connecticut,’ but we’ve always been New Yorkers, and after 61 years of togetherness, we feel we have a right to be married in New York,” Mr. Mace said recently inside the sprawling apartment on West End Avenue and 96th Street in Manhattan where the couple, both of whom are voice teachers, live and work. They have taught the likes of Bette Midler, Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Kim Basinger and Marsha Mason.

Both men continue to teach full time, and they took time between lessons to discuss their new role in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in New York State. They have become part of an online advertising campaign in support of the change. A short video about the couple has been making the rounds in the past week, as part of a campaign by Freedom to Marry, a gay-rights advocacy group that is helping lead the effort on same-sex marriage.

In 2009, a bill that would have allowed gays to wed was defeated in the State Senate after winning passage in the Assembly. But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has made same-sex marriage a priority and is campaigning across the state to promote the effort, leading some advocates on both sides of the issue to believe that the measure will come up for a vote before the end of the legislative session on June 20.

“This couple has lived and loved for 61 years — haven’t they waited long enough?” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. “They made a commitment and lived life’s ups and downs together. They can’t wait forever — they deserve the freedom to marry.” Mr. Dorr chuckled at the couple’s new role. “We’ve become poster boys — poster seniors, I should say — because even if we don’t live to see it, we’ll have been of some help in getting it to happen,” he said as they sat in Mr. Mace’s studio, presided over by a stately bust of the opera singer Enrico Caruso. Nearby, on the wall was a photograph of Bette Midler signed with the words: “You are both so wonderful.”

Both men hid their sexuality when they were young, were closeted in their early years, including while they served in World War II. After the war, both studied at Juilliard with Mr. Mace graduating and working for the school while Mr. Dorr was still a student. The moment Mr. Mace first set eyes on the tall Mr. Dorr, with his lovely baritone voice and looks to match, he knew he was a goner.

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May 11, 2011 – The Washington Post

Delaware governor signs civil unions bill into law for gay, lesbian couples beginning in 2012

by Associated Press,
Wilmington, Del. — Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has signed a bill into law that gives same-sex couples legal protections and recognition beginning in 2012. It makes Delaware the eighth state to allow civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. The Democratic governor signed the civil unions bill Wednesday night before a cheering crowd of more than 600 at The Queen theater Wilmington.
The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.

At an event organized by Equality Delaware, Markell said the legislation is a historic moment for the state. He says it serves the greater good to speak out and oppose bias, prejudice or outdated laws that “lessen any one of us.” Markell says that for the children of gay and lesbian parents, the law will recognize their families with equality.

May 20, 2011 – New York Times

Project Coming Out: Gay Teenagers in Their Own Words

The New York Times embarked on the project “Coming Out” as an effort to better understand this generation’s realities and expectations, and to give teenagers their own voice in the conversation.

The Times spoke with or e-mailed nearly 100 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender teenagers from all of parts of the country — from rural areas to urban centers, from supportive environments to hostile ones. The newspaper contacted them through various advocacy groups, as well as through social networking sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Read the Project report

28 May 2011 – GME

Woman files for divorce from gay husband in the UAE

by UAE Editor for GME
Dubai: Gulf News reports that a woman has filed for divorce after she claimed to have made a chance discovery of her husband’s alleged relationship with another man.
The woman, believed to be from a Gulf country, filed her divorce claim before the Dubai Sharia Court, saying she accidentally noticed a love text message that her husband received from his gay partner on his mobile phone.

The woman alleged in her claim that her husband started behaving “oddly and abnormally” a few months after they got married and she had seen him wearing “her lingerie at nights and using her perfume”, a court source told Gulf News. It is interesting that Gulf News reports that the husband “wears women’s underwear” which is often cited in connection to homosexuality in the Arab press throughout the gulf as a sign of “abnormality” and “disease”. In other words, if this is true, it is a homophobic attempt to discredit further the husband.

She said she received the “shock of her life” when she heard her husband hiding in another room and chatting with another man on his mobile phone. At first the woman tried to avoid confronting her husband, until her suspicions were confirmed when she discovered that her husband is cheating on her with another man. The woman alleged in her claim that her husband was constantly chatting with his gay partner online or exchanging mobile messages with him.

When she confronted her husband, the woman claims that he refused to break up with his gay lover and she also learnt that he “enjoyed playing the woman’s role”. The woman claimed that she learnt that her husband’s lover too was married and had two children. The woman claimed that her husband had confessed to her that he was gay. He had also apparently told her that she was free to stay with him or file for divorce. The claimant also stated that her husband told her that he did not care for her opinion or decision. GulfNews reported that a a judgment is expected soon.

Gay Middle East fully understands the pain and disappointment in such unhappy marriages. Such problems would be resolved very quickly if homosexuality was decriminalised in the UAE and social expectations would be adjusted. If families were to accept their members as who they are rather than forcing them to get married, a lot of toil and trauma would be spared from everyone involved. We call upon the Dubai court to act responsibly, dissolve the marriage (without penalising the husband) and advise the Dubai Emirate to change its laws to avoid such unhappy situations in the future.

May 2011 –

Isolated gay people and support from the LGBT community

An excerpt from Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, A Psychiatrist’s Own Story.

by Loren A. Olson, MD
I once cared for an aging lesbian who began to have memory problems.

She went to a neurologist who said bluntly, “Get your affairs in order. You have Alzheimer’s disease.” My patient was confused, devastated, and depressed. She asked a companion to accompany her on her return visit. This time the neurologist said, even more bluntly, “I never told you that you have Alzheimer’s disease!” Enraged, her companion suggested that she get a second opinion. The second neurologist compassionately confirmed the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Most Americans, especially those over sixty, worry about the quality, access, and affordability of health care. In general, the sicker you are, the less satisfied you are with the care you receive. Writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2008, Jennifer Wolff and Debra Roter suggested that having a companion accompany you to your doctor visits allows even the frailest and most vulnerable to have more confidence in their doctor’s skills, to feel better about the information they receive, and to have a better relationship with their doctor. According to the findings, companions facilitated communication, recorded physicians’ instructions, provided medical history, asked questions, and explained instructions to patients. In addition, they offered moral support, provided transportation, and handled details like appointments and paperwork. The more functions the companion performed, the higher the patient’s satisfaction for the services received.

It is difficult to age well without a social support system, and families often act as a protective buffer. For many LGBT seniors, prejudice disrupted their lives and their connections with their families of origin. When LGBT individuals become estranged from their families, that buffer is removed. They are also less likely to have children of their own. The MetLife study found that more than three-quarters of gay men and women rely on the emotional and social support of their “families of choice” rather than their families of origin.

Both the “Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults” report and the MetLife study suggest that those who are partnered have a greater sense of well-being. They tend to have fewer sexual problems, lower levels of regret about their sexual orientation, and less depression. Because gay relationships are misunderstood, when caregiving decisions are made, the roles of the family of origin trump those of the family of choice. Kristijan, whom I wrote about earlier, told me that as his lover lay dying, his lover’s sister pushed Kristijan aside during the final days. She had been estranged from her brother since learning several years before that he was gay, but during his final days she rushed back into his life. The gay community consists of a wide variety of family structures. There are marriages, civil unions, partners with and without children, single parent families, and reconstituted families that were once estranged. It is tragic that Kristijan’s lover’s family of origin, like so many other families, doesn’t accept this.

My friend Bernie described his experience with caregiving in this way:
I did not divorce until after Mom died. My good former wife, Wilma, often said—once she “caught on” [that I was gay]—that if Mom were alive I would have remained married. Talk about my avoidance of who I was then! Later she “came around” and really liked a couple of my partners, especially Carl.

My wife died six years ago of a nonmalignant brain tumor—a slow death over seven years. When she needed constant care and was wheelchair-bound, I took care of her on some weekends to give our oldest daughter some respite. Wilma gracefully lived with Carl and me. She adored Carl, and she often asked him to sing for her. Once I had to go out of state for a speaking engagement and I asked Wilma if she would mind my leaving her in Carl’s care. Without a moment’s hesitation, she chimed, “Go ahead; Carl and I can get along better than you and I used to deal with each other.” Happily, their friendship deepened.

So here is the dilemma for gay people: medical care improves when you have a companion, but more than half of gay men between sixty and seventy-nine years of age live alone. Aging gay seniors also must become assertive about developing a good support system and a family of choice when there is no family of origin available. But the LGBT community must also begin to recognize the needs of gay people who are isolated, alone, and unable to advocate for themselves. This is an increasingly serious challenge for our LGBT community.

2 June 2011 – PinkNews

President Obama declares June ‘LGBT Pride Month’

by Christopher Brocklebank
President Obama has declared June to be national Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in the USA.
In a White House press release that highlights his administration’s achievements in terms of gay rights, the President states: ”Each June, we commemorate the courageous individuals who have fought for LGBT Americans, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The press release also lists progress on LGBT rights in the US and abroad, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the country’s dedication to pressing the United Nations to ensure LGBT are treated fairly internationally. President Obama also mentioned how it is now illegal for hospitals to discriminate against gay and lesbian partners when making hospital visits. The press release ends: “I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.”

June 10, 2011 – CNN

American Gay Youth at Risk in School

by Elizabeth Landau
(CNN) – "Mama thinks you’re gay," Tempest Cartwright’s younger sister told her as they walked to Wendy’s one day.
"That’s … ’cause I am," Tempest, who was 15 at that time, told her. And with that admission, relief and joy flooded over Tempest. She’d spent much of her life hiding how she felt about girls; she’d made sure to have a boyfriend whenever she could, but secretly would inevitably have a crush on his mother. Eventually she told her father about her sexuality, and then her mother. Both support her fully. "I felt like I was really me for the first time ever," she recalls.

But once word got around in school, Tempest’s peers broke the spell of happiness. "I lost a lot of my friends," including her ex-boyfriend, who was also her bandmate. People at church stopped talking to her; she started hearing the word "faggot" in the hallways at school. "I had a while that I went through a big phase of depression about it," said Tempest, now 17. "I tried to keep myself around the people I knew loved me. I just tried to focus out all the negative."

With more and more high schoolers like Tempest speaking out about the mistreatment they face because of their sexuality, and reports of bullying and harassment becoming more commonplace, the federal government is paying more attention to the issue.

Siblings say gay brother ‘broken’ by experimental therapy
The government’s focus on it is an important step forward in the long, tortured road of gaining equality for young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning, although there is still much work to be done. Two pieces of legislation in Congress, the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Nondiscrimination Act, give the sense that "they’re really pushing to make this a priority," says Liz Owen, director of communications at PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

At the first Federal LGBT Youth Summit that took place in Washington this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke about the government’s efforts to curb bullying of these students, such as her department’s LGBT Coordinating Committee; a new work group to address the needs of LGBT youth and their families; and the website The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also just released the largest government report to date on the topic of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth and risky health behaviors. It found that these teens are more likely to engage in substance use, behaviors related to attempted suicide or that contributed to violence, among other things.

Study authors say lack of acceptance from friends and family is the likely culprit. Discrimination, disapproval from families and social rejection at school can all contribute to these outcomes, said Laura Kann of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, and lead author of the report. This corroborates what many smaller studies have found, including research from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The group’s analysis found that LGBT students are less likely to want to continue education beyond high school if they are experiencing victimization.

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June 13, 2011 – Huffington Media

Two Spirits: Overlapping Identities for First Nations People

It is a great honor and privilege to share my thoughts about the film Two Spirits. The first time I saw Two Spirits, I left the room and and cried when it was over. The story of Fred Martinez’s life and death is a compelling story for so many reasons. Particularly the fact that the movie was the first time I have seen the story of Two Spirit people highlighted, front and center. I am grateful to the filmmakers and participants who brought Fred’s story forward. I have great faith that his life will continue to provided us with so many opportunities for growth and cross community understanding.

My coming out story and experience is different from Fred’s. I came out when I was older and I also lived in a city. Yet, there are also many similarities in our growing up experiences. I grew up in rural South Dakota on the reservation near towns just like the one Fred lived in when he died. These towns are called border towns because they border a reservation or are near a reservation. Border towns are mostly white and they are often sights of heightened hostilities between native and white communities.

I think one of the most important aspects of this story is the acceptance that Fred received from his family and community. In the beginning of the film it states, "This is the true story of a Navajo boy who was also a girl." As a Lakota person, my spirituality informs how I walk through the world. My spirituality has taught me that each person is on their own spiritual journey and we cannot judge someone else’s path. I say all this because I see it reflected back to me in Two Spirits. Fred’s family understood that he was different, they did not judge that. They relied on their traditional knowledge to accept and love him no matter what. In his own community, Fred was safe.

Native people experience high rates of violence, often at the hands of people outside their communities. Fred’s presentation as a female challenged gender norms in a small rural town. I think the combination of presenting as female, challenging gender norms and being native is what made Fred more vulnerable to violence. This is often the case for those of us who live at the intersections with overlapping identities.

That is part of the gift of Fred’s life. He provides an entry point to another aspect of this community. The memory we bring forth as First Nations people is of a time and way of life where LGBTQI folks were accepted. Fred’s legacy goes beyond tacit racism and cultural appropriation because it provides us with an opportunity to see each other reflected in a range of common experiences including violence, targeting due to our sexual orientation and gender identity, living in small spaces of safety and being loved by family for who we are. These common experiences should challenge all of us to to see our connection more than our distance and differences. The legacy of Fred’s life and the belief in our ancestors shouldn’t just live in our memories, it should exist in our every day practice of patience, love, acceptance and non-judgement.

June 20, 2011 – ScienceDaily

Is Coming out Always a Good Thing?
Disclosing Sexual Orientation Makes People Happier Than Thought, but Mainly in Supportive Settings

by University of Rochester
ScienceDaily — Coming out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual increases emotional well-being even more than earlier research has indicated. But the psychological benefits of revealing one’s sexual identity — less anger, less depression, and higher self-esteem — are limited to supportive settings, shows a study published June 20 in Social Psychology and Personality Science.
The findings underscore the importance of creating workplaces and other social settings that are accepting of all people, but especially gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals, says coauthor Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.

"In general, research shows that coming out is a good thing," says Ryan. "Decades of studies have found that openness allows gay people to develop an authentic sense of themselves and to cultivate a positive minority sexual identity." By contrast, research has confirmed that being closeted poses serious psychological risks, including more troubled romantic relationships, more distress, and even increased suicidal tendencies, adds Ryan. Despite the costs of staying in the closet and the benefits of coming out, earlier studies uncovered only slightly improved mental health from revealing a minority sexual identity. The problem, says Ryan, was that these studies lumped everyone together — people who came out in supportive settings as well as those who faced stigma and discrimination.

By teasing out the effects of different contexts, this study shows that "environment plays a huge role in determining when coming out actually makes you happier," says Nicole Legate, a doctoral student at the University of Rochester, who led the study with Ryan and Netta Weinstein from the University of Essex in England. Among accepting groups, individuals experience significant psychological payback from being open about their sexual identity. But among hostile groups, the costs and stigma of identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual cancel out these benefits. In judgmental contexts, "those who come out may actually feel no better than those who conceal," says Legate.

To measure these different effects, the researchers asked 161 lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals detailed questions about their experiences with five groups: friends, family, coworkers, school peers, and religious community. The participants were recruited from discussion boards, community and social networking web sites, and university LGB alliance listservs. They reported their answers anonymously online. For each of the five contexts, participants indicated their level of outness, their sense of well-being, and their perceptions of acceptance or "autonomy support." For well-being, they rated the veracity of such statements as: "When I am with my family, I am lonely" or "When I am with my school peers I feel positive about myself." For autonomy support, they agreed or disagreed on a seven-point scale with assertions like: "My coworkers listen to my thoughts and ideas" or "My religious community provides me with choice and options."

Across all contexts, participants were more closeted in environments they rated as controlling and judgmental. They kept their sexual orientation hidden the most in their religious communities (69 percent), schools (50 percent), and at work (45 percent) and were somewhat more open with their families (36 percent). Friends by far represented the most accepting group for most lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals. All but 13 percent of participants had come out to their friends, and they reported feeling significantly less anger and greater self-esteem with friends than with any other group.

The study, which included participants from 18 to 65 years old, found that age made no difference in who comes out. Nor did gender or sexual orientation. Instead, the key determinant for revealing a minority sexual orientation was the supportiveness of the environment. "The vast majority of gay people are not out in every setting," says Ryan. "People are reading their environment and determining whether it is safe or not."

Disclosing in some situations, but not in others, had no effect on mental health, suggesting that such selectivity may be neither helpful nor harmful, the authors concluded. Other results from the study suggested that gay men experienced lower well-being across measures, while lesbians enjoyed the most autonomy support. Lesbians were the most out of the three groups, bisexuals the least.

June 23, 2011 – EastWindsorPatch

Hightstown High School lacks a Gay-Straight Alliance, but officials say they’re not opposed to one.

by Geoffrey Wertime
It’s many kids’ worst nightmare: getting teased, pushed around or even beaten up at school. It’s a problem that’s particularly prevalent among members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and a recent study shows that sort of bullying has negative, long-lasting effects on its victims.

As reported by our partners at the Huffington Post, a study last month by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University determined that students experiencing slights like hearing “that’s so gay” up through those who are physically attacked is linked to long-term problems in health and development. Entitled “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Adolescent School Victimization: Implications for Young Adult Health and Adjustment” and published in the Journal of School Health, the study found targets of LGBT-related bullying in school face increased risk of adult depression, suicidal thoughts, social adjustment issues and risky sexual behavior.

Those who reported high levels of victimization, as compared to those who reported lower levels, were found to be 5.6 times more likely to report suicide attempts, twice as likely to report being clinically depressed and more than twice as likely to report a diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection by young adulthood. “The power of this research is that it can help the educators, staff and administrators understand that this is serious, it has long-term effects. It is not just something that, ‘Oh, everybody says those things and we’re not going to pay attention to that.’ People have to take that seriously,” said Carol Watchler, co-chair of the Central Jersey Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

“Being name-called one time, no matter what it’s about, maybe people would say they’ll get over that. But to know that this is happening in social situations for youngsters’, just over and over again…” she continued. “I asked people yesterday how many have heard the term ‘that’s so gay’ within the recent past. Every hand in the room goes up and they know this is being used as a put-down. That’s the little stuff, where we have to start to step up, because it’s easy to make changes with that; it’s hard when it starts to become bullying directed at somebody specifically and then becomes even physical stuff. We’ve got to start working on it with the level of casual comments and change those casual comments so that an atmosphere of respect is just in the air, it’s what people expect.”

Watchler noted that New Jersey’s new anti-bullying law, adopted in the wake of the highly-publicized September 2010 suicide of Ridgewood’s Tyler Clementi and signed by Gov. Chris Christie in January, now requires schools to look into reports of bullying. Since Clementi’s suicide and a spate of others by LGBT teens that received widespread media attention, bullying has also become a topic in popular culture. Syndicated columnist Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project, in which adults post videos online encouraging young victims of LGBT bullying to stick it out and telling them that their lives will improve. The Fox TV show “Glee” recently featured a storyline where a gay teenager, Kurt, was bullied by a classmate, and Watchler said things like that can do a lot to help LGBT kids out.

“I think it gives them just a little boost of confidence to know people are talking about it,” she said. “People are able to see the connection and we need to keep pointing out to them the long-term deleterious effects, and in some cases very serious actions being taken right now.

Another source of comfort to LGBT teens are Gay-Straight Alliance groups in schools, which GLSEN supports with resources when students ask. Watchler says the Central Jersey region has “a lot” of GSAs, but not one at Hightstown High School, and she said GLSEN would be happy to help set one up there. “We feel that it would be very helpful, and sometimes it just takes the right combination of students stepping up and a potential advisor knowing that that need is there and is coming together. Somehow or other this has not happened at Hightstown High School apparently right at the moment, and we’re just hoping students who are willing to step forward and make that request of the administration will do so.”

Hightstown High School Supervisor of Counseling Jessica Cotignola acknowledged the school lacks a GSA, but said it’s not due to any institutional opposition. “From my understanding, several years ago there was a club at the high school called Allies of Diversity,” she said. “In the past few years, the faculty member who oversees the club has offered to hold meetings, but the club has not generated any interest. I would welcome the opportunity to work with GLSEN, and I have worked with Carol in the past in a previous school district I worked in. If our students wished to begin the club, I would whole-heartedly support it, and I’m sure that all the counselors (and staff members) would support the work of the club as well.”

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June 23, 2011 – The Village Voice

Generation HIV: Young Gay Men At Risk
– There’s one group that is seeing HIV rates accelerating: twentysomething gay men

by Joe Erbentraut
Three decades ago, the sexual revolution skidded to a halt when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first reported a bizarre strain of pneumonia besieging gay men. After having decimated an entire generation, AIDS now threatens another. Today, young gay and bisexual men account (especially men of color) are responsible for the most alarming surges in new HIV diagnoses and represent the only demographic group whose rates of infection have continued to climb each year since antiretroviral drug therapies introduced in the mid-’90s gave patients hope. The highest rate of new HIV infections are occurring among black men 13 to 29 who have sex with men.

Welcome to Generation H, the twentysomething queers who’ve never known a world without AIDS and yet appear reluctant to use condoms. Advocates and health workers are scratching their heads and asking, “Who or what is to blame for so many young gay men contracting HIV? Rebellion? Complacency? Arrogance? A desire to self-annihilate?” Maybe it’s because they’ve missed the most effective prevention program of all: funerals. “They don’t realize what we went through, but that’s human nature,” says Mark King, who blogs “If I wasn’t there, I don’t get it and I don’t have time to listen to you because I’m 26 and my friends are waiting for me at the club. And that’s exactly how we behaved. The only thing that made it different for us is that we were living in a horror movie.”

Sean Strub, a veteran AIDS activist and founder of POZ magazine, doesn’t buy the argument that young gay men “don’t get it” when it comes to HIV. On the contrary, he argues that Generation H is “healthier about their sexuality—especially in self-acceptance—than any previous generation of gay men in recent history. They also are quite sophisticated. Part of the reason they turn off and don’t heed safer-sex messages is because they’ve figured out that many of those messages are overly cautious, not heeded by nearly everyone, and paint a picture of an unlikely outcome.”

For Michael Tikili, 25, the “unlikely” outcome of an HIV diagnosis became a reality for him almost two years ago. But he sees seroconverting (becoming HIV-positive) as actually having changed his life—and not all bad. “Everyone that doesn’t have it thinks it is the worst thing in the world, but we need to stop looking at it as a death sentence because it’s not,” he says. “You can lead a healthy life with HIV.” The experience of the virus for Tikili and his friends include seeing healthy, humpy guys living with HIV, as well as six-packed models in omnipresent pharmaceutical ads touting the medications that have allowed those infected with the virus to live near-normal lives. You have to read the fine print to understand the nasty side effects of, and eventual resistance to, these wonder drugs. Nor do the ads mention how expensive they are.

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June 24, 2011 – The New York Times

New York Allows Same-Sex Marriage, Becoming Largest State to Pass Law

Albany — Lawmakers voted late Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, making New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed and giving the national gay-rights movement new momentum from the state where it was born. The marriage bill, whose fate was uncertain until moments before the vote, was approved 33 to 29 in a packed but hushed Senate chamber. Four members of the Republican majority joined all but one Democrat in the Senate in supporting the measure after an intense and emotional campaign aimed at the handful of lawmakers wrestling with a decision that divided their friends, their constituents and sometimes their own homes.

With his position still undeclared, Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a Republican from Buffalo who had sought office promising to oppose same-sex marriage, told his colleagues he had agonized for months before concluding he had been wrong. “I apologize for those who feel offended,” Mr. Grisanti said, adding, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.”

Senate approval was the final hurdle for the same-sex marriage legislation, which was approved last week by the Assembly. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the measure at 11:55 p.m., and the law will go into effect in 30 days, meaning that same-sex couples could begin marrying in New York by late July. Passage of same-sex marriage here followed a daunting run of defeats in other states where voters barred same-sex marriage by legislative action, constitutional amendment or referendum. Just five states currently permit same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.

At around 10:30 p.m., moments after the vote was announced, Mr. Cuomo strode onto the Senate floor to wave at cheering supporters who had crowded into the galleries to watch. Trailed by two of his daughters, the governor greeted lawmakers, and paused to single out those Republicans who had defied the majority of their party to support the marriage bill. “How do you feel?” he asked Senator James S. Alesi, a suburban Rochester Republican who voted against the measure in 2009 and was the first to break party ranks this year. “Feels good, doesn’t it?” The approval of same-sex marriage represented a reversal of fortune for gay-rights advocates, who just two years ago suffered a humiliating defeat when a same-sex marriage bill was easily rejected by the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats. This year, with the Senate controlled by Republicans, the odds against passage of same-sex marriage appeared long.

But the unexpected victory had a clear champion: Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who pledged last year to support same-sex marriage but whose early months in office were dominated by intense battles with lawmakers and some labor unions over spending cuts. Mr. Cuomo made same-sex marriage one of his top priorities for the year and deployed his top aide to coordinate the efforts of a half-dozen local gay-rights organizations whose feuding and disorganization had in part been blamed for the defeat two years ago.

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June 28, 2011 – Slate

The Gay Bar – Why the gay rights movement was born in one.

by June Thomas
On Dec. 31, 1966, a dozen plainclothes policemen observed the New Year’s festivities inside the Black Cat, a gay bar in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. At the stroke of midnight, as revelers celebrated with "Auld Lang Syne" and the traditional New Year’s kiss, uniformed cops burst into the bar, billy clubs swinging. For many of the bar’s customers, 1967 began with a blow to the head. Sixteen patrons were arrested inside the Black Cat, and police chased two more men into New Faces, another gay bar nearby.
There, the cops struck the female owner and beat three employees who came to her defense. According to Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons’ book Gay L.A., one of the bartenders suffered a ruptured spleen; when he came to at County General Hospital, he was charged with assaulting an officer. The New Year kisses led to six men being charged with lewd conduct.

All of them were found guilty. The gay community was outraged by this police harassment. Activists organized protests and distributed leaflets outside the Black Cat for weeks after the raid. But thanks to Los Angeles’ sprawling geography, few passers-by witnessed the incident or noticed the protests, and the episode received little media attention. It would be two and a half more years before a similar incident, at a bar on the opposite coast, would change the gay rights movement forever.

It’s no accident that this movement was born in a bar. In the 1960s, more and more gay men and lesbians were frequenting such establishments, even though they were often targeted by law enforcement for raids and crackdowns. In the tumult of the civil rights movement, a confrontation on this turf was bound to happen. And yet there were many incidents like the one at the Black Cat that failed to ignite widespread anger and protest. It took a special combination of circumstances to spark the movement, circumstances that came together at the Stonewall Inn almost by accident—and would be hard to re-create afterward. The Stonewall Inn holds such an iconic place in gay history (and, as we saw when joyful New Yorkers gathered there to celebrate the passage of marriage equality legislation, it remains iconic today) that it can be hard to remember how unusual the incident was. What was it about the night of June 28, 1969, that was different than all the nights that came before it—and all the nights that have followed?

In 1969, the Stonewall Inn at 51-53 Christopher Street was well-attended but not well-liked. Writer Vito Russo described it as "a regular hell hole. The pits. It was also one of the hottest dance bars in Greenwich Village. It was a bar for people who were too young, too poor or just too much to get in anywhere else. … A place everyone loved to hate. Seedy, loud, obvious and heaven." People went there because it was relatively large, and because it was one of the few gay places in the Village that allowed dancing. But it had little else to recommend it. There were no fire exits, drinks were watered down yet expensive, and the hygiene standards were appalling. There was no plumbing behind the bar; dirty glasses were simply dipped into a rubber tub filled with filthy water that sat there all night. (In 1968, this practice was suspected to be the cause of an outbreak of hepatitis.) The New York Hymnal described the Stonewall as having a "filthy john" and "high prices" and declared it "the tackiest joint in town."

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2011 July 02 – Reuters

Rhode Island governor signs gay civil union law despite doubts

by Zach Howard – Reuters
Provicence, Rhode Island – Rhode Island’s governor on Saturday signed into law a controversial bill legalizing same sex civil unions, but said it does not go far enough toward legalizing gay marriage. Governor Lincoln Chafee, an independent who supports gay marriage, nonetheless signed the measure with the promise that it would move Rhode Island closer to the ultimate goal of legalizing gay marriage. Chafee had urged the General Assembly to consider same-sex marriage this legislative session. But some legislators felt it would be doomed in a state populated by many elderly and Catholic voters, and a civil unions bill was passed instead.

Rhode Island is the second state to act on gay unions just before state legislatures adjourned for the summer. New York lawmakers a week ago voted to legalize gay marriage, making it the most populous state to allow gay nuptials. Chafee said he signed the civil unions bill with "reservations" because it "brings tangible rights and benefits to thousands of Rhode Islanders. It also provides a foundation from which we will continue to fight for full marriage equality." He had two major criticisms of the civil union bill: that it failed to provide full marriage equality to same-sex couples and that it allowed religious entities to choose to not recognize civil unions.

Describing the proposal that passed the tiny New England state’s Senate this week as "a step forward," he said it did not fully achieve its goals of giving same gender pairs the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities as married couples. The new law includes a section that says no religious organization — including some hospitals, cemeteries, schools and community centers — or its employees may be required to treat as valid any civil union, providing a religious exemption "of unparalleled and alarming scope," Chafee said in a statement.

As a result, a civil union spouse could be denied the right to make medical decisions for his or her partner, access to health insurance benefits, property rights in adjoining burial plots or family memberships at some community centers. That could cause partners significant harm at critical moments in their lives, the governor said. "This extraordinary exemption eviscerates the important rights that enacting a civil union law was meant to guarantee for same sex couples in the first place," Chafee said.

The legislation, sponsored by Democratic state Representative Peter Petrarca, essentially grants legal rights to same-gender partners without the historical and religious meaning associated with the word marriage, according to the Rhode Island General Assembly. Gay advocacy groups supported some aspects of Rhode Island’s civil unions bill but largely shared the same objections as the governor. Opposed to it altogether is the National Organization for Marriage’s Rhode Island chapter. The group said same-sex civil unions threaten the concept of one man-one woman marriage and the bill does not go far enough in protecting the religious liberties of businesses and individuals.

Rhode Island and Maine have not joined their four New England neighbors – Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut — in legalizing same-sex nuptials. Same sex marriage is also now legal in Iowa, the District of Columbia and, most recently, New York, but it remains banned in 39 states.

Civil unions were approved in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey.

(Reporting by Zach Howard; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

July 5, 2011 – Metro Weekly

Acknowledging the Past

News Analysis: DOJ’s admission of the ”regrettable role” of the federal government in anti-gay discrimination – and criticism of state and local discrimination – is historic

by Chris Geidner
The Department of Justice’s July 1 "Defendants’ Brief in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss" in Karen Golinski’s lawsuit seeking equal benefits at work in the federal courts so that she can insure her wife is a must-read legal filing that became a historic document almost immediately upon its submission.
In opposing the House Republicans, who filed a brief in June seeking to have Golinski’s case dismissed, the Department of Justice went much further than Attorney General Eric Holder did in the Feb. 23 letter he sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) – the letter that detailed his and President Barack Obama’s decision that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional and that they would no longer defend it in court.

What’s more, this brief was being researched and written as Obama himself was taking some pretty hard hits – and repeated questions – about his commitment to equality due in large part to his ”evolving” status and unwillingness to publicly embrace marriage equality. By not trotting out the brief in the midst of that criticism and waiting until after the White House LGBT Pride Month Reception to file, however, the administration made a strong statement that this brief was just that – a legal filing removed from and independent of the political debate.

The brief, filed in the Northern District of California, is the single-most persuasive legal argument ever advanced by the United States government in support of equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Moreover, although the case did not include transgender issues, the government’s previously described position that the same legal standard should apply to gender identity classifications could prove helpful for court cases looking at gender identity-based discrimination.

Some sentences in the brief will become staples of every filing in every lawsuit attempting to advance sexual orientation nondiscrimination, most notably when the Justice Department acknowledged, "The federal government has played a significant and regrettable role in the history of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals." The Justice Department goes on to spend two pages detailing the specifics of that discrimination, including efforts by the State Department, FBI and U.S. Postal Service to seek out or track those who were thought to be gay.

This admission is an essential part of lawyers’ arguments before courts when they are arguing why ”heightened scrutiny” should be applied under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause to laws that classify people based on sexual orientation. To have an admission from the Department of Justice that the government did so is significant because lawyers can now go into court and say, "Not only do we think this, but so does the federal government – and they admit that they have been part of the problem." What’s more, Justice took a hard line against state and local discrimination, citing more than 20 different instances of state or local discriminatory practices – from laws and judicial opinions making adoption and teaching more difficult or impossible for gay and lesbian people, to police raids of gay bars, including notations of raids over the past years in Atlanta and Fort Worth, Texas.

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July 13, 2011 – The Los Angeles Times

Hate crimes against gay, transgender people rise, report says

by Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report says violent crimes against people in the LGBT community rose 13% in 2010, and that minorities and transgender women were more likely to be targeted. An 18-year-old gay man from Texas allegedly slain by a classmate who feared a sexual advance. A 31-year-old transgender woman from Pennsylvania found dead with a pillowcase around her head. A 24-year-old lesbian from Florida purportedly killed by her girlfriend’s father, who disapproved of the relationship. The homicides are a sampling of 2010 crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people compiled by a national coalition of anti-hate organizations.

The report, released Tuesday, showed a 13% increase over 2009 in violent crimes committed against people because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or status as HIV positive, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Last year’s homicide count reached 27, up from 22 in 2009, and was the second-highest total since the coalition began tracking such crimes in 1996. Of those killed, 70% were minorities and 44% were transgender women. The data are compiled by the coalition’s 43 participating organizations and are not comprehensive. They include crimes reported to the groups by victims who did not seek help from law enforcement. In fact, 50% of the 2010 assault survivors did not make police reports, with minorities and transgender people the least likely to come forward, the report said.

Among the cases was an April 2010 attack on Cal State Long Beach transgender student Colle Carpenter, who was cornered in a campus restroom by an assailant who carved "It" on his chest. Jake Finney, project manager with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, said campus police initially "were not clear that the word ‘It’ was a slur and indicated anti-transgender bias." The center contacted the FBI, which assisted in the investigation, and the crime was ultimately classified as hate-motivated, Finney said.

The 2010 murder count is second to the 29 logged in 1999 and 2008. Among the 2008 fatalities was gay Oxnard junior high school student Larry King. The classmate charged in that killing, Brandon McInerney, is on trial. Coalition members said hate crimes tended to increase after other high-profile attacks and when civil rights advances for the LGBT community were publicly debated. "As we move forward toward full equality, we also have to be responsive and concerned with violence that may run alongside of it," spokeswoman Roberta Sklar said. "We don’t want to go back into the closet to avoid it."

July 15, 2011 –

Keane: Gay marriage becomes just a matter of time

by Tom Keane, The Boston Globe
The fight over same-sex marriage a topic undiscussed 20 years ago, a shocking proposition a decade ago will soon be over. It will take some years more, and battles remain, but the outcome of the war is clear.
That may seem a remarkable claim, given the federal Defense Of Marriage Act, the 2008 rejection of same-sex marriage by California voters, and the laws of a majority of states, all of which aim to preserve traditional, heterosexual marriage. And there are still more than a few politicians who indulge in homophobia, most notably Michele Bachmann, who recently became the first presidential candidate to sign an anti-gay-marriage pledge.

Moreover, same-sex marriage is legal in just six states and Washington, D.C., representing a scant 11 percent of the country’s population. So why the optimism? Gay marriage is no longer working as a wedge issue. For a long while, conservatives liked to think of gay marriage and abortion as related — if you opposed abortion, then you’d also oppose gay marriage. As with abortion, gay marriage was used effectively as a club against any variety of politicians, often with tremendous electoral success.

But the two issues are quite different. It’s been nearly four decades since Roe v. Wade, but abortion continues to leave people uncomfortable. "Americans are at once pro-life and pro-choice" concluded a 2011 analysis of opinion polls by the American Enterprise Institute. That ambivalence was underscored by President Bill Clinton‘s line about making abortion "safe, legal and rare." "Rare," of course, was an acknowledgement that even the pro-choice crowd recognizes abortion has real costs.

Not so with same-sex marriage. While the argued harm of abortion is ending a potential life, it’s hard to see what damage might be caused by gays getting married. If anything, gay marriage — like all marriage — discourages promiscuity in favor of building long-term monogamous relationships. That, of course, is a state of affairs that conservatives should want. Then too, the one-time fears that homosexual marriages would somehow undermine heterosexual relationships have not been borne out. In Massachusetts, the divorce rate has actually dropped since the introduction of same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriages themselves are, like all marriages, pretty noncontroversial — you’ll find pickets at abortion clinics but not outside a gay couple’s home. The result has been a dramatic change in attitudes. A Gallup survey from May found a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage. A year ago, the figure was only 44 percent.

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July 19, 2011 – USA Today

Gay candidates gain acceptance

by Susan Page, USA Today
Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona state senator considering a bid for Congress next year, says she realizes that as a young, single woman, she’ll have hurdles to overcome with some voters. And the fact that she’s openly bisexual? "Arizona doesn’t really care," the 35-year-old lawyer says, dismissing the issue as irrelevant. "They just want to have low property taxes and no gun control."
Sweeping changes in public attitudes toward sexual orientation have led to fundamental realignments this year in everything from the military, where gays now can serve openly, to marriage. Sunday, New York will become the sixth and largest state to permit same-sex marriages.

In politics, the number of gay men and lesbians running for public office and winning has begun to increase significantly, although gay candidates, especially in more conservative areas, continue to face skepticism and opposition from some voters. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund calculates that 107 openly gay candidates were elected to office nationwide in 2010, an increase of one-third from 2008 and nearly threefold the number of a decade earlier. The political action committee projects another significant jump in 2012. In a seismic shift, Americans by more than 2-1 say they would vote for a gay candidate for president.

A potential breakthrough looms next year. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who became the first openly gay candidate to win a first term in Congress in 1998, is poised to compete for the U.S. Senate if former senator Russ Feingold doesn’t run. He promises a decision by Labor Day. Baldwin, 49, would be favored to prevail in a Democratic primary and competitive in a general election. If she won the seat, she would be the first openly gay member in Senate history. In addition, at least four openly gay and bisexual challengers, including Sinema, are viable potential 2012 contenders for the House of Representatives, which has four openly gay members.

"At some point, you reach the what’s-the-big-deal stage of all this," says Paul Maslin, a Democratic strategist based in Madison, Wis., part of Baldwin’s congressional district. That day isn’t here, but he sees it approaching. These candidates, if they’ve been in office a long time and grown in terms of stature and credibility, are now being judged for lots of other reasons than sexual preference," Maslin says. "It becomes not meaningless, but a relatively unimportant consideration."

"Most of my constituents don’t know my sexual orientation, and they don’t care," says Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., a two-term congressman from Boulder who is openly gay. He laughs and adds, "Most of my constituents, I hope they know my name." Polis and Baldwin are from liberal Democratic enclaves, and Sinema is from a state with deep libertarian roots. Openly gay candidates in conservative locales such as South Carolina and Iowa describe navigating more difficult landscapes. The Victory Fund says four states (Alaska, Mississippi, South Dakota and West Virginia) have no openly gay elected officials at any level.

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July 22, 2011 – The New York Times

Obama Ends ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy

by Elisabeth Bumiller
Washington — President Obama formally certified on Friday that the American military is ready for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as Pentagon officials said that nearly two million service members had been trained in preparation for gay men and women serving openly in their ranks.
Enactment of the repeal will come in 60 days, on Sept. 20. The two-month waiting period is called for in the legislation passed late last year that ended “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the 17-year-old law that banned openly gay men, lesbians and bisexuals from military service.

“As of Sept. 20, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. He signed the certification, along with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about 3:30 p.m. in the Oval Office. The certification comes after an extended preparation period, sought by military leaders and Pentagon officials, many of whom were initially reluctant to end the policy in the middle of two wars. Pentagon officials said they would use the 60-day period to review the possibility of extending some limited health, housing and legal benefits to same-sex couples.

The 60-day period is in the legislation because of the late Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, who as his price for supporting the bill in May 2010 demanded that the measure return to Congress for a two-month review period. It is unclear to what extent Congress will review the law and whether any hearings will be held. In the meantime, Pentagon officials said that more than 1.9 million of 2.2 million active-duty and reserve service men and women had been trained in preparation for the end of the policy. They said the training sessions lasted from 45 minutes to 75 minutes and were conducted in groups of 50 to 250 service members. The sessions included a PowerPoint presentation, the ubiquitous communication tool of the military, as well as discussions of hypothetical situations.

For example, one hypothetical situation posed the question of what a commander should do about two junior male service members in civilian clothes seen kissing and hugging at a shopping mall, or how to handle reports that a service member has been seen “hanging around” a gay bar. In the case at the shopping mall, the answer is that if the kissing and hugging “crosses acceptable boundaries” for the commander’s unit for members of any sexual orientation, a correction should be made. In the case of the gay bar, the answer is that commanders cannot place an establishment off limits simply because it caters to a gay clientele.

At least one gay rights advocate in the military said he was generally pleased with the training, even though it had slowed down enactment of the new law. “While S.L.D.N. has been critical of this protracted process, at the end of the day I think it will result in more buy-in and stability and certainty,” said Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran and the executive director for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Pentagon officials said they would be looking in the next two months at “gray areas” that might allow them to extend some benefits to same-sex married couples in the military. But under current law, particularly the Defense of Marriage Act, the Pentagon is prohibited from giving federally financed benefits to those couples. Those benefits include base housing, health insurance, certain death benefits, legal counseling and access to base commissaries and other stores.

22 July 2011 – PinkNews

One in four Massachusetts gay teenagers ‘are homeless’

by Staff Writer
A study of teenagers in the US state of Massachusetts suggests that one in four are homeless. The study, carried out by the Children’s Hospital Boston, looked at the sexual orientation and home status of 6,317 teenagers from data in the 2005 and 2007 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys. Researchers found that while less than five per cent identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, they accounted for 19 per cent of all those who were defined as homeless.

Homelessness was defined as having no fixed, regular, adequate place to sleep at night. Just 3.2 per cent of exclusively heterosexual students were defined as homeless, compared to 15 per cent of bisexual students and 25 per cent of lesbian and gay students. Twenty per cent of students who said they were unsure of their sexual orientation were defined as homeless. Study lead author Heather Corliss said: “The high risk of homelessness among sexual minority teens is a serious problem requiring immediate attention.

“These teens face enormous risks and all types of obstacles to succeeding in school and are in need of a great deal of assistance.”

July 24, 2011 – The New York Times

After Long Wait, Same-Sex Couples Marry in New York

by Michael Barbaro
Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples, from retirees in Woodstock to college students in Manhattan, rushed to tiny town halls and big city clerks’ offices across New York to wed in the first hours of legal same-sex marriage on Sunday, turning a slumbering summer day into an emotional celebration. They arrived by subway cars and stretch limousines, with children and with grandparents, in matching sequined ties and pinstriped suits, to utter words that once seemed unimaginable: I do.

Even those who had been together for decades, watching same-sex marriage become legal in surrounding states but suffer rejection in New York, said there was something unexpectedly moving and affirming about having their unions recognized by the state in which they live. “We feel a little more human today,” Ray Durand, 68, said moments after marrying his partner, Dale Shields, 79, whom he met 42 years ago by a jukebox in a West Village bar. The start of same-sex marriage in New York instantly doubled the number of Americans who live in states where gay and lesbian couples can wed. Gay-rights advocates, energized by their victory in New York — the sixth and largest state where it is allowed — are turning their attention next to Maryland, but they face long odds in much of the country, where there are tougher legal and political obstacles.

Several thousand people rallied in Midtown Manhattan to protest the new law, waving signs that said “God cannot be mocked” and calling for a public referendum on same-sex marriage. Their cries were echoed by smaller crowds in a few cities upstate. “Today, we start the war,” State Senator Ruben Díaz Sr., a Bronx Democrat, declared. Despite the demonstrations, long lines and bureaucratic glitches, a spirit of patience and good humor pervaded. In Lower Manhattan, brides and grooms defiantly opened dozens of rainbow-colored umbrellas to block the protesters from view.

There were scenes, too, of striking public embrace. Outside marriage bureaus, police officers offered unsolicited congratulations, passers-by honked their horns and strangers tossed hand-made confetti at the newlyweds. After a bruising multiyear legislative battle that ended when the State Senate approved same-sex marriage last month by a narrow margin, some of the state’s top elected officials seemed determined on Sunday to demonstrate public support for the new law. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hosted a party for same-sex marriage advocates in Manhattan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg presided at a wedding in the backyard of Gracie Mansion, and the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, visited marriage bureaus in several boroughs.

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July 24, 2011 – The New York Times

Gay Marriage – Goin’ to the Mansion …

By Adriane Quinlan and Elizabeth A. Harris
They were not the first same-sex couple to be married in New York on Sunday, but they may have had the largest audience, if you include those watching on television. Standing before 150 guests and several television cameras, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg officiated at the wedding of two members of his staff, John Feinblatt, 60, and Jonathan Mintz, 47. The ceremony, in front of the steps of Gracie Mansion, unfolded just as the sun began to set on Sunday evening.

“Usually when the three of us are together, we are arguing the finer points of guns or consumer fraud,” Mr. Bloomberg said. This time, the occasion was both very public and very personal, and the smiling Mr. Bloomberg said he was “glad I asked to be part of it.” (The crowd chuckled, and Mr. Bloomberg added, “I did!”) Mr. Feinblatt and Mr. Mintz emerged from opposite sides of the mansion’s porch, each led by one of their daughters, Maeve, 8, and Georgia, 6. The girls, dressed in lacy white frocks and gold ballet flats, looked like little brides.

The two men draped their arms around Maeve and Georgia throughout the ceremony, much of which was broadcast live on CNN. After the vows, the actor Joel Grey sang “Married” from the musical “Cabaret.” Then Mr. Bloomberg introduced the breaking of the glasses, a traditional moment in Jewish weddings. Each man stomped a glass, and the newlyweds embraced, pulling their daughters into a four-way hug. The crowd tossed biodegradable confetti at the family.

Mr. Feinblatt and Mr. Mintz then proceeded to enjoy themselves with their guests, including the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, and the actor Matthew Broderick — but not too much, as the couple did not have the following day off. The celebration went on, nonetheless. “This is a great day for New York, a great day for love,” a beaming Mr. Mintz said when the ceremony was over. “That sounds a little bit trite, but I got married a minute and a half ago.”

July 25th 2011 – The New York Daily News

Couple who sued for right to marry seven years ago finally wedded by gay judge

by Lore Croghan – Daily News Staff Writer
Yesterday was a long time coming for Jo-Ann Shain and Mary Jo Kennedy – just as it was for many gay and lesbian couples. But unlike most, the Brooklyn moms had sued for the right to wed in New York seven years ago – and briefly won their case, only to have it taken away. So their Sunday at the city clerk’s office in lower Manhattan, in the company of hundreds of gay and lesbian couples who got hitched on the very first day same-sex marriage became legal in New York, was especially emotional.

"There were tears – absolute happy tears," Shain, 58, said after the Ditmas Park couple got married as their daughter, Aliya, 22, and other loved ones joined them in an office room that was converted into a temporary wedding chapel. "It was way more moving and meaningful than I expected – and I expected a lot," said Shain, a freelance medical editor. She and Kennedy, 56, a physician, have been together for 29 years. Around their necks, they wore leis made with flowers in the rainbow colors of gay pride. They were one of five couples who filed suit in a marriage-equality case known as Hernandez vs. Robles – and in 2005, a Manhattan Supreme Court justice ruled in their favor.

The following year, the state’s highest court overruled that decision, leaving it to the Legislature to change state law, which didn’t happen until last month. Another touch of history in their day: The Manhattan judge who officiated at their wedding was Rosalyn Richter, the state’s first openly gay appellate court justice, appointed in March 2009 by then-Gov. David Paterson. A veteran advocate for gay civil rights, Richter, 55, was the executive director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund in the early 1980s. Richter, who was beaming with joy during the ceremony, also wore a rainbow-hued lei draped over her judge’s robe. "It was very moving to have her marry us; it was so personal," Kennedy said. "We’ve been friends for more than 20 years."

As part of the ceremony, Shain and Kennedy switched rings they’d been wearing on their right hands to their left hands – onto the finger where wedding rings traditionally belong. "She said to us, ‘We’ve all waited for this time’ – and she was thrilled to marry us," Shain said.

"It was a beautiful moment."