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Archive for April, 2010

Everything Mississippi Should Have Learned from Glee.

April 30, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Youth Issues

Ceara Sturgis denied photograph in High School Yearbook

Ceara Sturgis Class of 2010. Congratulations Ceara on your graduation from all of us at jaysays.com!

It’s starting to seem like the State of Mississippi has declared an outright war on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.  This bully pulpit is evident in numerous decisions by school districts to exclude openly LGBT kids from school activities.

There’s the obvious and well publicized case of Constance McMillen, an openly lesbian student at Itawamba Agricultural High School (“IAHS”), who, after receiving notice that same-sex couples would not be allowed at the school’s prom, requested permission from school officials to take a same-sex date.  School officials knew they couldn’t legally deny her request, but to prevent her from taking the date she wanted to (and from wearing a tux) they canceled the event all together.  The school eventually had two proms, sending Constance and a few other students to one and the rest of the students to another.

Of course, this wasn’t the first attack at IAHS against LGBT students and won’t likely be the last.  Prior to Constance there was Juin Baize, who was suspended for being biologically male but wearing make-up and woman’s clothing.

It seems it’s now Copiah County School District’s turn at the bully pulpit.  Graduating senior, Ceara Sturgis, not only had her photograph removed from the yearbook because of her choice to wear a tuxedo and sport a “male” hairstyle, but there was no mention of her in the yearbook.

That story line may sound a bit familiar to my fellow Gleeks?  In the Mattress episode of Glee, Rachel wanted the Glee Club photo included in the yearbook; however, Sue Sylvester objected stating that it would subject the student’s photos to graffiti and humiliation (her real purpose wasn’t so noble).  History had not been kind to the outcasts of the Glee Club as photographs were defaced with mean commentary by fellow students; essentially because the vast majority felt that the Glee Club was representative of the outcasts, the geeks, the nerds and the homos.  Unlike in Mississippi, however, the Glee photograph made it into the yearbook.

While no state is immune to bigotry, Mississippi has long since had a reputation for racism, homophobia and sexism that is virtually unchallengeable.  Through the “Christian Identity Movement,” many Mississippians have excused their hate in the guise of religion. Members of my own family from the state have preached the soullessness of the black man (the Curse of Ham), women’s servitude of man, and homophobia in the name of Biblical law.  While it must be stated that not all Mississippians feel the same, it certainly seems to be a prevalent and recurring issue.

Maybe it’s time we give Mississippi a little dose of Glee – Equality style.

The Cost of Free Speech – City Ordinances and Permit Fees

April 23, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Headline

Pay Up or Shut Up - The Cost of Free SpeechIn 2007, the International Woman’s Day March planned to hit the streets of San Antonio to support women around the globe.  However, San Antonio parade ordinances require not only permitting, but a fee for the services by the police department for traffic control and other safety matters.

On its face this sounds like a very reasonable ordinance; if you want the city to block streets and provide public safety, then you should have to reimburse the city for the costs, but in San Antonio (and other jurisdictions), not all events are charged equally.

The International Woman’s Day March Planning Committee and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition had enough of this inequality after falling victim to the associated fees and filed suit against the city for violation of their first amendment rights.  The lower court, overseen by Judge Xavier Rodriguez, issued an injunction against the city preventing enforcement of the policy.  In 2008, the city issued a new ordinance (that would not be subject to the injunction against the original ordinance) and continued collecting fees for parades (City of San Antonio Ordinance No. 2008-03-13-0201).

The new ordinance declared that the city would not charge the first $3,000.00 for “First Amendment Activity;” however, estimates from the city indicate that the charges could be from $4,000.00 – $30,000.00 for political and expressive marches (less the $3,000.00 waiver).  While these costs are extreme and deter many from planning such events, the inequality doesn’t stop there.

Under the 2008 Ordinance, three marches deemed as having “political appeal” have the fees associated with traffic control waived: The Diez y Seis Parade, the Martin Luther King March and the Veteran’s Day Parade.  Further, in 2008, the City Council of San Antonio determined numerous other marches would have the fees waived, including: the Cesar Chavez March, the 60+ Mardi Gras Parade, Fiesta Flambeau Parade, the Battle of the Roses Parade, the King William Parade, the San Antonio Marathon, and the Pilgrimage to the Alamo.

In other words, if the city endorses the speech you wish to promote, you are not charged these excessive fees; however, if the city feels the speech is not worthy of their approval, the charges can be extraordinary.

In March, 2009, Judge Fred Biery dissolved the injunction and dismissed the Plaintiffs’ case against the city on summary judgment.  The Plaintiffs appealed, which brings us to today.  The case is scheduled for oral arguments before the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans on April 27th.

If you haven’t noticed, this case has broad and sweeping impact on the current LGBT rights movement, particularly the grassroots groups that certainly could not afford a $50,000.00 bill from the city for traffic control and whose message would not likely be endorsed by the city.  In their Second Amended Petition, Plaintiffs acknowledge this, stating:

“The paradigm public forum for free speech and associative expression in San Antonio is the public streets and sidewalks. Political and expressive marches in the public streets have long been a way for groups, particularly groups that lack governmental or institutional power and resources, to express their views and to inform other members of the public about issues of importance to our communities. To make access to public street marches available only to those with political influence or financial wealth is to profoundly limit freedom of speech and the quality of public debate in San Antonio.”

A copy of Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Petition is available here.

NOTE: The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center of San Antonio is planning a bus trip to New Orleans to take concerned members of the community to the oral arguments.  No one is being denied a ride on the bus regardless of whether or not they can afford the charges.  Therefore, Esperanza can use our help.  Please consider making a donation to assist them in paying for the trip.  You may do so at this link.

Biphobia and Discrimination from within the LG…b…t… Community.

April 21, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Stand Tall, Play Ball (unless your bisexual)Not enough thought is given to attitudes of lesbian and gay people toward our bisexual community members.  In fact, many times our own community turns against the “B” and sends them out, tail between their legs.  While some biphobia translates into small slights against individuals, such as the incident discussed with Drea on Closet Talk, others ring more fully and show the issue in full light.

After a team from San Francisco finished second in the Gay Softball World Series two years ago, a complaint was filed by an opposing team because three of the San Francisco team-members were not “gay.”  The team members identify as bisexual.  Upon consideration of the issue, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (“NAGAAA”) ruled that the teammates were “non-gay” and stripped the team of their second place victory.

A lawsuit has now been filed against NAGAAA by the men claiming that the action was discrimination.  In response, NAGAAA has claimed that the men were not illegally discriminated against as NAGAAA is a private organization that can determine its membership.

While it may be true that no illegal discrimination occurred, this is a blatant act of discrimination.  Further, the organizing documents of the NAGAAA have no prohibitions against bisexual team members, but the documents do specifically allow for up to two heterosexual team members per roster.

Please take a stand against discrimination of our bisexual community members and contact NAGAAA board members and advise them that such acts are not only unconscionable, but are counterproductive to the cause of equality for all persons.

The following lists the Board of Directors and their contact information:

Roy Melani
Commissioner
commissioner@nagaaasoftball.org

Chris Balton
Assistant Commissioner
assistantcommissioner@nagaaasoftball.org

Jim Young
Secretary
secretary@nagaaasoftball.org

Jerry Travis
Treasurer
treasurer@nagaaasoftball.org

Gary Carter
Business Development Director
businessdevelopment@nagaaasoftball.org

VIDEO: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Protests Interrupt Obama Fundraising – Dan Choi and Others in Chains Again

April 20, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

GetEQUAL activists interrupted President Barack Obama during a speech designed to raise funds for California Senator Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign.  The group shouted for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the U.S. Military’s policy prohibiting openly gay soldiers from serving this country.

President Obama attempted to regain control of the speech and stay on topic, by acknowledging the group, then returning to endorsements for Senator Boxer.  Early on during the interruption, Obama states:

I don’t know why you have to holler, we already hear you.

Thereafter, Obama continually advises the group that he supports the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, but again reiterates his inquiry:

Barbara and I are supportive of a repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, so I don’t know why you are hollering.

But support doesn’t equate to action, and therein lies the problem.

In what is becoming typical fashion for GetEQUAL organizers, bicoastal events were held.  The day after the group interrupted Obama in Los Angeles, Dan Choi, Autumn Sandeen and 4 others chained themselves to the the gates of the White House [photo by David Mailloux of dymsum]:

Repeal DADT GetEQUAL: Protestors outside of the White House

CNN has some video footage of the chained veterans available here.

Stop the Destruction of the Rain Forest – Repeal DOMA Now.

April 15, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

recyle logo - Protect the Earth - Repeal DOMAShortly after the passage of Proposition 8 in California, the rights and privileges of opposite-sex couples were enumerated and totaled, at the Federal level, 1138 rights of marriage that are not enjoyed by same-sex couples.  Since that time, that list has shrunken slightly, to 1136 rights.

The first right to be granted to same-sex couples was a side-effect of George W. Bush declaring, upon leaving office, that the beneficiary of your retirement plan no longer has to be a relative to avoid taxes.  Obviously, this was a benefit to more than just same-sex couples.

The second right to be granted to same-sex couples wasn’t really granted, but suggested by President Obama.  In an act that heterosexist America would call unconscionable, Obama suggested that hospitals grant visitation rights to same-sex couples and comply with their Powers of Attorney.  This suggestion is similar to the suggestion that states make the legal drinking age 21 – do it, or you won’t get certain funding.  In the present case, Obama declared that should a hospital not follow the suggestion, Medicare/Medicaid benefits would be cancelled.

While I’m very happy that Obama would take such a step to help those of us who are affected by such horrifying inhumane acts of discrimination, I’m concerned that non-complying hospitals will begin denying treatment to Medicare/Medicaid recipients for fear of losing the funding.

This victory is bitter sweet, but evidences the path we’ve been taking for decades in the quest for full equality under the law – we’re getting it, but only one right at a time.  So let’s do it Obama’s way.  Let’s take one right at a time and 1136 more rights (and countless pieces of paper) later, we’ll have less trees, more waste and still suffer the stigma of “separate but equal.” However, a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) would help institute all remaining 1126 denied rights using far less paper and energy while simultaneously eliminating the ideology that separate can ever be equal.  Come on Obama, save a rain forest and repeal DOMA now!

SAPD Admits Murder of Troy Martinez Clattenburg Was a Hate Crime (Finally).

April 14, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Hate Crimes, LGBT News, Uncategorized

Troy Martinez ClattenburgAs previously reported here, Troy Martinez Clattenburg of San Antonio, Texas, was shot in the back of the head.  His murderer, Cody Carmichael, confessed to shooting Troy because Troy allegedly made sexual advances toward Cody.  During the investigation, Detective Cardenas of the San Antonio Police Department continually denied that Troy’s murder was a hate crime and stated that it was not being investigated as such.  In fact, when Troy’s sister, Ginger Hicks, inquired further, Detective Cardenas stated that just because Troy was gay and murdered, doesn’t mean it was a hate crime.

While it is true that a gay person can be murdered without bias or prejudice being the motivator, the murderer’s own confession seems to tell the truth of this situation.  Troy was murdered because he was a gay man.  But Troy was much more than just a homosexual, he was a brother, a friend and a son with a family who loved him enough to speak out about what had happened to Troy and demand answers from the police department.

In a closed meeting yesterday afternoon, Troy’s mother and other members of his family sat with three Deputy Chiefs of the San Antonio Police Department, including Jose Banales, and Dr. J. Lynne Armstrong of the Texas Police Officers Training Corp.  Upon inquiry, the deputy chiefs readily admitted that Troy’s murder was a hate crime, a revelation that came as a shock to his distraught family who had been continually advised otherwise without a reasonable explanation.  In fact, my own inquiries and those of other media persons found similar results.  This change of tone of the San Antonio Police Department came just days before the pre-indictment hearing of Cody Carmichael, who was released from prison 3 days after his confession on $100,000.00 bond.

Mississippi High School Curriculum: It’s Better to be Cruel than Gay.

April 05, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

Constance McMillen: A Fake Prom?Remember the story of Constance McMillen, the Mississippi student whose school canceled prom rather than let her bring a same-sex date?  Today, LezGetReal.com reported that Fulton, Mississippi held two proms – one, Constance was invited to and had 7 couples in attendance, the other is reportedly the “real” prom said to have had district personnel help in the planning.

It seems that warped sense of “morality” stuck again.  It is better to lie and play a cruel joke on an 18 year old girl wanting to have a wonderful prom memory just like anyone else than to be a homosexual.  I suggest those involved rent the movie, Carrie, to fully appreciate the importance of prom to a young high school girl.

What amazes me isn’t this horrific display of homophobia, it’s the strength of LGBT individuals.  We are treated in this manner our entire lives and then, when we get fed up with this sort of treatment, Homophobic America screams we are self-loathing.  They pass legislation which prevents us from participating in actions in which heterosexuals are allowed to participate (such as serve in the military or get married).  However, in spite of all of this adversity and hatred directed at us, we still manage to find a way to love ourselves… usually.

But we don’t always overcome.  Some of us wind up self-destructing.  Some of us wind up on the streets turning tricks to support ourselves (and sometime our habits).  That’s when Homophobic America screams out that we are just drug and sex addicts and further take away our rights.

The hate will never stop.  It hasn’t stopped against other minority groups and it won’t stop against LGBT people; however, it will subside.  Some day, it will not be the popular opinion.  Some day, there will be no laws specifically targeting LGBT people.  Some day, all men will be equal in the eyes of the laws of the United States… unless of course all those rumors about 2012 marking the end of the world are true.

The ACLU is investigating the “fake prom” held in Mississippi.

Army Secretary McHugh’s Big Fat April Fool’s Joke on the Gay Community.

April 01, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

"We Will Not Be Silent." Don't Ask Don't Tell ("DADT")When reports hit the blogosphere that Army Secretary, John McHugh, was ceasing prosecutions under the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, there were more questions than answers.  But before our minds could fully wrap themselves around the implications, Secretary McHugh backtracked, stating that:

With regard to the three soldiers who shared their views and thoughts with me on ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, I might better have counseled them that statements about their sexual orientation could not be treated as confidential and could result in their separation under the law. [emphasis added]

That’s right, Secretary McHugh totally pulled a take-backsy. Roughly translated, McHugh acknowledges that they will still fire military members from their employment, based solely on that person’s sexual orientation – talk about a need for an inclusive “Employer Non-Discrimination Act!” Further, McHugh likely realized the potential backlash from conservative America should he decide not to prosecute homosexuals.

Secretary McHugh needs to learn the rules of April Fool’s jokes – you can’t just outright lie about something until 12:00 midnight on April 1st.  If you do, your April Fool’s joke is invalid.  So, if I have this right, Secretary McHugh’s take-backsy is void and his earlier statements about a moratorium on DADT remain in full force and effect.

As far reaching as that argument may seem, it’s still as rational as the arguments by opponent’s of a repeal on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell who claim that, based upon their interpretation of words translated by politicians (i.e. King James), and according to their imaginary friend in the sky, gay is bad and should therefore be prosecuted.

Equality Across America – Texas Conference. Are “Ya’ll” Ready to Rumble?

April 01, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

Harvey Milk Day - May 22, 2010 - EAA Call to Action and Texas ConferenceYou can stop asking what you can do to help further equality in the United States (and beyond) now.  As previously discussed on Closet Talk with Tanner Efinger, Equality Across America has made a call to action for the week of Harvey Milk Day (May 22).  In response, grassroots organizations and activists have been popping up all over the country.

Organizing of the EAA – Texas conference is well underway, with most of the logistics already worked out.  Now, we get to do the fun stuff.  Remember though, even if you can’t help organize, you can start planning to attend.  Here’s a chance for you to help from the Equality Across America – Texas team.

*****

Regional conferences organized under the banner of Equality Across America, the network that has emerged out of 300,000-strong National Equality March on Washington last October, have drawn hundreds of people in Chicago and Boston, with more to come.

We are going to build a conference here in Austin, and you should be part of the process! We have selected the dates May 21-23 to coincide with the holiday honoring Harvey Milk, and we will have a march and vigil in his honor as part of the weekend’s events.  The Texas regional conference will feature plenary talks and workshops about the history and future of our movement.

The ultimate goal is to establish long-lasting regional and national networks of grassroots activists who want to fight for full equality for LGBTQ persons at the federal level.

We have learned that we can’t rely on politicians to give us equality.  Throughout history, fighters for justice have had to mobilize intense public pressure on elected officials.  This kind of activism pushed the system to institute reforms like the right for labor to organize, desegregation, the right of Black citizens to vote, rights for immigrants, and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons in our society.

Today thousands of new activists are ready to fight for LGBTQ equality. They are feeling the frustration with decades of mostly fruitless lobbying and electoral campaigning.  People are realizing that it will take energized and coordinated activism to win, and we are on the move again!  We must get together to educate ourselves and strategize for the future–and the Texas conference aims to be a forum to do just that.

An Invitation to an EAA Organizing Meeting:

WHAT

Organizing meeting for Equality Across America – Texas Regional Conference,

May 21-23, 2010

WHEN

This Monday, April 5, 7:00 p.m.

WHERE

University of Texas-Austin, Mezes Hall room 1.204.  Map here

WHO

Any individual or LGBTQ and allied activist groups are invited.

We want to build a broad, inclusive movement that welcomes diverse political orientations and open discussions about where to go from here.

WHY?

Please forward this information to members of every potentially interested organization and activist and urge them to get involved.

Sincerely,

EAA Regional Conference–Texas Statewide Organizing Committee

Join the Impact-Austin

Equality Now-Austin

Equality Across America-Houston

Queer LiberAction-Denton

jaysays.com

Add your name to this list of endorsers by sending an email dcloud@mail.utexas.edu

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