LGBT Notable News Happenings (May 18, 2009 – May 23, 2009)
Rodger McFarlane was a gay activist who set up the first AIDS hotline in 1981, using his own home phone and an answering machine. He went on to establish many other organizations and services to help those with AIDS. In addition to being an activist, Mr. McFarlane was a very lively man and made seven over-ice expeditions to the North Pole. Mark Thompson, a Los Angeles author, said, “He was one of those fantastically energetic, self-possessed visionary people who knew what had to be done.” In 2002 Mr. McFarlane broke his back in an Eco-Challenge race and his health had been deteriorating since then.
CA School Agrees to Settlement (May 18, 2009)
A high school in the Vallejo Unified School District has agreed to pay a former student named Rochelle $25,000, and adopt new policies regarding bullying and prohibiting discrimination. Sadly, the worst of the anti-gay harassment toward her came from one of the teachers at the school who ridiculed her by saying, “… she did not know whether she (Rochelle) was a boy or a girl.” Other teachers at the high school also refused to let her into the girl’s locker room. Rochelle now attends another high school.
Schools Block LGBT Web Sites (May 20, 2009)
The ACLU had been truly hoping to avoid taking court action against the Knox County and Nashville school systems. Web sites specifically falling into the category of LGBT have been completely blocked from student access, but websites which are anti-LGBT or which promote so called LGBT “cures” are fully accessible. A system was set up whereby the teachers would have been able to unlock the access to an LGBT web site for a student, but the student(s) would have been forced to “come out” to the teacher in order to request the access.
Report on Harvey Milk Censored by Principal (May 19, 2009)
Sixth-grader Natalie Jones was inspired after seeing the movie “Milk” and decided to write a report about his life and death for her class. Instead Natalie’s presentation was stopped and she was sent to the office of her principal Theresa Grace. The Principal of Mt. Woodson Elementary School decided that the sixth-grader’s report would require letters to parents notifying them of a lesson dealing with sex. These letters offered the parents the option to decline to allow their children to participate in a “sex education” lesson. The ACLU has responded.
New Lawsuit Filed Against DOMA (May 21, 2009)
The Defense of Marriage Act is being challenged again, hopefully with better results for all concerned. Dean Hara, a widower, was married legally to former out gay US Congressman Gerry Studds, who died of a blood clot to his lung in October 2006. Mr. Hara is still fighting for survivor benefits – which would not be a problem in the same circumstances for a survivor of a heterosexual marriage. Several other widowers and couples are also involved in the newly filed lawsuit. According to Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor, “It’s far from a slam dunk, but it’s a powerful and plausible case.” Mr. Tribe is not involved in the lawsuit.
Love Matters More for Former San Angelo, Texas Mayor (May 21, 2009)
They met and got to know each other locally and then it turned into a beautiful relationship. J.W. Lown and his partner did discover some difficulties and then the newly re-elected fourth term now former Mayor, and his partner, decided it was time for both of them to return to Mexico. His partner is a citizen of Mexico and Mr. Lown has citizenship in both the U.S. and Mexico. This is a beautiful story of love and immigration and working hard to follow the law. For J.W. Lown it was a difficult decision to leave San Angelo, but to him some things do matter more than even a successful political career.
Swastika Used in Hate Crime at Home in Merced, CA (May 22, 2009)
Frances Martin had moved into her new home only a few days ago. She decided to move in order to take care of her eight year old granddaughter while her own daughter is deployed in Iraq. Ms. Martin’s son had just mowed the lawn when she realized something didn’t look right. When she waked out to the sidewalk she was surprised to see a swastika burned into her lawn. Ms. Martin and her family are African American. The swastika is a white supremacist symbol, and an emblem of the German Nazi Party, which has been used both hatefully and violently against the LGBT community, African Americans, the Jewish people and other minority groups. Ms Martin was simply looking for a safer place for her granddaughter.
Much Needed LGBT Center Now at San Jose State U. (May 22,2009)
Seven months ago San Jose State University opened the first center for LGBT students on the campus. Larry Arzie and David Stonesifer graduated from SJSU back in the 1960’s at a time when there was no center for LGBT students to gather. Back then, “… students who were wrestling with sexual identity were counseled to undergo psychiatric counseling.” Fortunately that is no longer the case. The successful couple, who have been living in Los Gatos, recently gave a very generous bequest to the new LGBT Center at SJSU which is their Alma Mater.
CA Supreme Court Set to Announce Decision (May 23, 2009)
The LGBT community and our allies throughout California and many other locations have been waiting and waiting for this decision. On this coming Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific standard time the decision will be announced as well as posted on the web – the website link is included in the article. Marc Solomon the marriage director of Equality California said, “We hope they rule the right way, but we are prepared to win marriage back at the ballot box.”