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LGBT Notable News Happenings – (September 3, 2009 – September 10, 2009)

September 12, 2009 By: MJ Category: Featured, LGBT News

LGBT NewsGay Sailor Brutalized by Own Unit and Discharged in CA (September 3, 2009)

Former Petty Officer Third Class Joseph Rocha was brutalized for more than two years by members of his own unit in Bahrain. He was returned to CA suffering from P.T.S.D. and was forced to admit to his sexual orientation – then was discharged under D.A.D.T. Others were also brutalized and the military is investigating.

Bill Recognizing Harvey Milk’s Birthday Passes CA Legislature (September 4, 2009)

Once again a bill to recognize Harvey Milk is waiting for the signature of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – and would recognize Harvey Milk on his birthday – May 22nd.  If signed – Harvey Milk would join the only three other days of recognition in the state.

LGBT Activist Runs For Mayor in Idaho Town (September 5, 2009)

Melissa Sue Robinson is an LGBT activist and transwoman running for mayor of Nampa. She was previously married for 17 years and her ex-wife now plays a major role in her election campaign. Some of those not so pleased that she is running include a person who started a fraudulent Twitter account in her name – which has since been closed.

Los Angeles Mourns Death of Albert L. Gordon –  Gay Rights Attorney (September 6, 2009)

Albert L. Gordon was married and had twin sons – both sons are/were Gay. Mr. Gordon became an attorney in his 40’s and fought for LGBT rights. His first wife and one of his sons died before him. He was known as the leading pro bono lawyer to L.A.’s Gay community.

Catholic Church in Maine Supporting Anti-Gay Marriage Referendum (September 6, 2009)

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has requested that its parishes have a special second collection this coming weekend – with the money collected to go to Stand for Marriage Maine. Stand for Marriage Maine is leading the effort to repeal legal Same-Sex Marriage in Maine – the Catholic Church is exempt from federal taxes as a non-profit religious institution in spite of its political dealings.

Openly Gay Man Accepted for Training in Church of Scotland Ministry (September 8, 2009)

The Church of Scotland has selected to train a Gay man –  in a Civil Partnership – for ministry despite a ban. Church officials backed his candidacy after receiving advice from an internal body that supports would-be trainees. The ban was put in place after the appointment of The Rev Scott Rennie.

Lesbian From U.S. Army Fighting Deportation From Canada (September 8, 2009)

Former Pte. Bethany Smith – who changed her name to Skyler James – requested discharge then decided to leave the U.S. Army after harassment and death threats from within her unit. She was unable to report the threats because of D.A.D.T. and was outed by another soldier. Skyler James is now fully employed and living in Canada. but faces deportation.

Proposed Law to Repeal Ban on Healthy Gay and Bisexual Blood Donations (September 8, 2009)

There is new proposed legislation which would allow healthy Gay and Bisexual men to donate blood. The legislation was approved by the Assembly Tuesday and is called the U.S. Blood Donor Nondiscrimination Resolution – and it moves to the state Senate in January 2010.

Gordon Brown Honors Contributions of Alan Turing During WWII in UK (September 10, 2009)

Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician and was most famous for his work in breaking German Enigma codes during WWII. In 1952 he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ (for being Gay) and sentenced – then took his own life just two years after that. Gordon Brown acknowledged that a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT Activists made it possible for Mr. Turing to be honored.

mjpngwnz: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.

LGBT Notable News Happenings – (July 25, 2009 – August 1, 2009)

August 05, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsLGBT Author E. Lynn Harris Passes in CA (July 25, 2009)

E. Lynn Harris wasn’t always a novelist.  He had lived the earlier part of his life as a heterosexual – but on the “down low” as a Black Gay man.  While at the University of Arkansas he was the first Black yearbook editor – as well as the university’s first Black male cheerleader.  His “down low” life continued.  Mr. Harris became a successful computer salesman for three of the leading major corporations after graduation – and lived in several locations in the eastern half of the country.  While at a corporate conference in 1983 he met a person whose encouragement helped him to change his life; Maya Angelou.  She strongly encouraged him to write.  In 1990 he made some serious changes in his life – and then he moved to Atlanta to devote himself to his writing.  His first book was self-published using the last of his savings – that was in 1992 when he published “Invisible Life”.  From then on he continued to be a writer – and also appeared on Broadway as a narrator in “Dream Girls.”  Everette Lynn Harris passed away on “July 23, 2009 after collapsing at a Beverly Hills hotel during a book tour,” just one month after his 54th birthday.  Rest in peace Mr E. Lynn Harris – and thank-you for sharing your life with us.

“Transgender Day” Proclaimed in Houston (July 25, 2009)

The Transgender Center in Houston, TX proudly celebrated its first anniversary.  Jolanda Jones, a Houston City Council member attended the celebration.  At the celebration Ms. Jones read a proclamation from Mayor Bill White proclaiming July 25, 2009 as “Transgender Day”.  The Transgender Center provides Transgender individuals with a safe place to gather – or to just be and relax – and also provides helpful and supportive services and information.  Please also follow this link to find out more about the Center.

LGBT Solano Families Group Forming in CA (July 26, 2009)

Ramsey Rickart and her wife Marnie Webb were married in California in 2008.  They live in a community named Vallejo north of San Francisco and west of Sacramento.  The couple has a daughter named Lucy – she is “4-and-a -half” (that half is very important to Lucy).  Her moms – Ramsey and Marnie – were wanting to share their lives with other LGBT families in the area – so that their daughter could experience the diversity of other families.  Right now the group is meeting once a month – but it hopes to meet more often and have a variety of activities to choose from.  There is already a group “Vallejo Gay Network” which meets once a month – but LGBT Solano Families intends to focus “… specifically on parts of the community with children,” Ramsey Rickart said.  In addition to furthering the establishment of the group – they are working on establishing a Yahoo! listserv to help the group communicate.  At the first meeting, 6 families were in attendance – hopefully many more families will be able to join the group and just have a good time sharing their lives!!

Transgender Groups Protest for Passage of GNDA in New York (July 26, 2009)

After two separate incidents of Transgender women being attacked, a rally was held in Jackson Heights (Queens), NY.  The latest attacks which sparked the rally occurred during the short span of just two weeks.  Joann Prinzivalli spoke at the rally, “We have a real desperate need for a passage of a bill called ‘GNDA,’ the Gender Non-Discrimination Act which is stalled in the State Senate in Albany.  We know we have enough votes to get it passed but the leadership doesn’t seem to get it to a vote for us.”  Queens Pride House – along with other LGBT groups – organized the rally.

Armed Services in UK Celebrate 9 Years of Diversity in Service (July 27, 2009)

Personnel in the military in Britain who are Gay once had to deal with the same discrimination that we have here in the US.  Well, that was until January 2000 when it became legal for members of the LGBT community to serve openly in the military in Britain.  This came as a result of a “two year legal battle involving three Gay men and a Lesbian, who had been discharged from the Royal Navy and RAF after being found to be Gay.”  A lot of personnel, who were discovered to be gay (or even suspected to be gay), were dismissed from service prior to 2000.  Here in the US we have been fighting hard to have D.A.D.T. repealed so that our LGBT service members can do their job openly.  In this article it was also revealed that, “Perhaps most tellingly, senior officers from the US have been quietly holding talks with their British counterparts on how America can change its ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy which has seen more than 12,500 members discharged since its inception 16 years ago.”  British LGBT service members also now have an online forum for support.

Three Gay Men Attacked at OutGames in Copenhagen (July 27, 2009)

Three gay men were attacked for their sexual orientation at the OutGames in Copenhagen.  The attackers, who were yelling “homo pig” at the men during the assault, were taken into custody and will remain in custody for the remainder of the games.  The attack took place as the three men were returning from the opening ceremony of the World OutGames.  According to Henrik Vedel of the Copenhagen Police, “…the two attackers, who both have criminal records, are believed to have been under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time.  The suspects said they could remember nothing about the incident.”  The police in Copenhagen have been working closely with the organizers of the OutGames – and also issued specific guidelines for handling hate crimes to stations in the city.

Online Petition to Stop Ban on Gay Blood Donation in China (July 28, 2009)

Many in our community – and our allies – have known that Gay men (and women who have had sex with gay men) are banned from donating blood to the Red Cross in this country.  Well in 1998 it seems that a law was enacted in China  – banning the Gay community from donating blood as well.  Even in China – no matter who donates the blood – the blood is then tested for several diseases (including sexually transmitted diseases) before it is made available to those in need.  A group of Lesbians in China have decided to organize an online petition – to allow Gay people to donate blood to the Red Cross.  A spokeswoman for the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center said, “China bars potential blood donors from giving blood once they have ticked the Gay and Lesbian box on the application form.”  The petition seems to be doing well – so far they have 540 signatures from persons identifying as Lesbian – and they are hoping for 1,000 signatures.

Prom Night Ruined For Transgender Student in Guam (July 29, 2009)

Prom is meant to be a fun time and a happy celebration for high school seniors.  Jeremy greatly anticipated event.  There was planning and shopping – as well as the final preparation and, of course, dressing for the evening itself.  Jeremy arrived at the door to the prom, but the teachers / chaperons stopped him.  They would not allow him to enter – not because of a lack of a prom ticket or because his outfit was in bad taste – but because Jeremy was wearing a dress.  Other students at the prom were dressed in what they wanted to wear – some female students were even in tuxedos and were allowed entrance.  The principal of the school indicated that Jeremy cannot just choose to be the way he wants when he wants.  Jeremy said, “When I walked in, one of the teachers put me to the side and had the audacity to ask me, ‘Are you a male or a female?’, and I said, ‘What does that matter?’ and he said, ‘It matters!”  The chairperson of the Guam Education Policy Board – Joe San Agustin agreed with Jeremy – and said so in an interview. Mr. San Agustin said, “If the male chose to wear a dress, so be it.  That should not be the business of the school.  The parents know their children.  If it’s acceptable in their home, then it should be acceptable in the schools.  Students go to school to be taught the basic subjects.  Why are we even getting involved?”  Jeremy was able to get a refund for the price of his prom ticket – but unfortunately not for what he wore to the prom he never got to attend.

Utah Prosecutor Drops Trespass Charge in Gay Kiss (July 30, 2009)

This is a follow-up to a previously reported article about charges filed when an LGBT couple exchanged a kiss on Mormon owned property.  The plaza became the property of the LDS Church when the city exchanged the public easement for a community center.  The ownership of the property means it is not a public right of way (although used frequently as such).  Salt Lake City Prosecutor Sam Gill said, “The two individuals believed — albeit mistakenly — that they had the right to be there.  Fairness requires that either that property be not open to the public or you condition that [openness] in a way that the person who comes on understands that it is private property.”    The LDS Church still maintains what they refer to as the so called “passionate kiss…” took place – but the article also includes a glorious mention of the “Nationwide ‘Kiss-In” to be held on August 15, 2009.

Copenhagen Church Holds Special Blessings for LGBT Couples (July 31, 2009)

Something else very positive has happened for Same Sex couples during the OutGames in Copenhagen.  One of the most prominent churches in the city opened its doors and had a special blessing ceremony – for couples whose own churches do not support their sexual orientation.  Vor Frue Church happily blessed 18 LGBT couples – along with other activities during that same day for all who were interested.  Vicar Mia Rahr Jacobsen said the blessings were offered in Danish, English German – and also through sign language.  The Vicar also wanted to emphasize that, “It was intended to bestow blessings over the love that gives life meaning – and that love is sacred regardless of whether you love a woman or a man.”

Pres Obama to Bestow Medal of Freedom to Milk & B.J. King (July 31, 2009)

On August 12, 2009, President Obama will “bestow the nation’s highest civilian honor,” the Medal of Freedom, on 16 named recipients.  Among those designated to receive the award are Harvey Milk and Billy Jean King.  The President has received some praise from the LGBT community for these two choices.  When the announcement was made by the White House they said, “Milk encouraged Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender citizens to live their lives openly and believed coming out was the only way they could change social equality.”  Gloria Nieto – an out Lesbian who has chaired the Democratic National Committee’s Gay and Lesbian caucus – acknowledged the announcement.  Former San Francisco supervisor – now State Sen. Tom Ammiano – also a Gay man – was thrilled at the recognition of Harvey Milk.  He also added, “If Harvey was alive today, he would say, ‘Thanks for the honor – now repeal those bills.'”  (Referring to ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ and ‘Doma’.)  President Obama will present the awards on August 12, 2009.

Alleged Murderer of Seaman August Provost Found Dead in CA (August 1, 2009)

This is a follow-up to a previously reported story.  On June 30, 2009, Seaman August Provost was murdered while serving on duty at his post, Camp Pendleton, in California.  Jonathan Campos was later arrested on a variety of charges – including the murder of Provost.  The accused was on a suicide watch – and was found dead of asphyxiation in his cell.  Investigators announced that they believe that Campos may have taken his own life.  It is horribly sad that August Provost lost his life – but it is also quite sad that Jonathan Campos has lost his life as well.  The pending charges had yet to be proven – and it seems that Jonathan Campos needed more assistance with his own personal situation than was provided.  May they both rest in peace.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – as LGBT Couples Wed in Protest in Australia (August 1, 2009)

Once again the LGBT community was denied Marriage Equality in Australia.  This time they answered back – not with yelling and anger – but with happiness in the form of protest.  “More than 250 couples even tied the knot, albeit illegally, to mark the occasion.”  In Sydney – protesters assembled outside Town Hall while Aretha Franklin’s famous song “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” blared out over loud speakers.  Then the crowd of 1,500 marched to the harbor where the Labor’s National Conference was taking place.  There were similar Marriage Equality protests in various cities throughout Australia – including marriages officiated by Pastors and Clergy of local churches.  Respect through Equality is definitely something that our community seeks – and deserves – along with all minorities!
mjpngwnz: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.

LGBT Notable News Happenings – (July 4, 2009 – July 12, 2009)

July 14, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsAustralian Sailors Competition Under Investigation (July 4, 2009)

Australia is not the first country to be embarrassed by its military – the US has had a couple of investigations of its own. This time it’s Australia’s turn. A vessel of the Australian Navy was docked in Singapore this past May. While the vessel was in port there – something along the lines of a contest was discovered. It seems that a group of sailors on this ship had a contest (with cash prizes) for bedding their female colleagues. That’s right. There was an extra (cash) incentive for bedding or sleeping with an officer (female), or a Lesbian or having sex in an unusual place (pool table). The name of the ship is the HMAS Success – no my fellow readers I am not kidding. That is the true name of the vessel. The Success has a crew of 220. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that the allegations are “disturbing.” Hopefully all those involved will feel full and appropriate justice for their “alleged” contest.

LGBT Feel Life Better in Iraq with Saddam (July 6, 2009)

The life of a homosexual individual in Iraq has been dangerous for a very long time. When Saddam ruled – 1979 to 2003 – the LGBT community lived in fear of their lives. Since the overthrow of Saddam our brothers and sisters have seen things go from bad to even worse. Yes there are still arrests and killings – but since 2003 there has been horrific torturing and even violence against the dead. There are accounts of partners being removed from their homes and murdered – then the bodies found at a later time – further mutilated. A team for the BBC – is creating a documentary “Gay Life After Saddam”. They have been granted permission to speak with individuals in an Iraqi safe house run by an organization based in London – and the documentary will air at a later date. The safe houses are managed from London by the Iraqi Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group. Please be aware that the article contains very graphic information about torturing – and about mutilation of bodies of the deceased.

Death of Seaman Provost at Camp Pendleton in CA (July 7, 2009)

Seaman August Provost was from Houston – and was standing duty as a guard at his base. (I personally have driven past the road to Camp Pendleton many times and there is no easy access for those who do not belong on the base.) While on duty he was shot and killed – then the guard shack where he had been on duty was burned down. Seaman Provost had been telling members of his family that he was being harassed – but that he could not report it to his superiors because he wanted to continue to serve. Many wonder if he would still be alive if D.A.D.T. had already been repealed. According to a senior Navy officer, “As it stands right now, we have no indication that there is any tie to what may or may not have been his sexuality. He did suffer gunshot wounds, and there was a fire in a pretty clear attempt to destroy evidence. But he was not bound, he was not gagged and he was not mutilated.” At this time the investigation is continuing. Local LGBT activists planned a candlelight vigil outside the gates of Camp Pendleton – Friday July 10, 2009 several hours after memorial services were to be held near his home in Texas.

Events in Maine to Honor Slain Charlie Howard (July 7, 2009)

On July 7, 1984 Charlie Howard was badly beaten and tossed into a stream – solely because he was Gay. He was 23-years old and he drowned. Some good has come from his untimely death. His death did lead to an anti-discrimination ordinance in Bangor – and a state hate crimes law. This year – on the 25th anniversary of his death – Maine passed a bill allowing Same-Sex couples to marry. Mr Howard has been remembered in many ways this past week – and memorial has been dedicated near to where he was drowned.

Superheroes Publicize LGBT Protection Laws in Colorado (July 7, 2009)

Our community has so many concerns about safety and legal protections that when the laws are there – we need to let everybody know. Well that’s exactly what the GLBT Community Center of Colorado has done – using superheroes. With the help of Peak Creative Media the campaign is being rolled out – “with a series of online ads, bar napkins and coasters, and videos and publicity events at GLBT Pride festivals”. They have been working to put the laws into a format which is more attention getting – and understandable. Jim Jonas of Peak Creative Media said, “That’s why we came up with the superhero theme. It’s an engaging, fun, entertaining and yet informative way to get people to become familiar with the laws.” “The five laws, passed from 2005 through this year, support second-parent adoptions and designated-beneficiary agreements for unmarried couples; provide enforcement against hate crimes; and prohibit job and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.” Please – I highly encourage you to take a look at the superheroes and what they represent – located just below the article itself. What a great idea GLBT Community Center of Colorado! Seems like a good inspiration!!

El Paso Restaurant Ejects Gay Men For a Kiss (July 8, 2009)

A group of gay men had decided to stop at a Chico’s Tacos in El Paso, Tx. While they were there two of the men exchanged a simple kiss on the lips. This was not at an hour when very young or impressionable children would have been in the restaurant – it was at about 12:30 a.m. on the morning of June 29th. The security guards approached the men and instead of maybe alerting the men that customers complained and asking them to refrain from any more displays of affection – the guards began a verbal assault. Carlos Diaz de Leon called police “when he feared he and his group were targets of discrimination.” The security guards waited until the group sat down and then said, “they didn’t allow that faggot stuff to go on there.” Then – according to Mr. de Leon – they were made to leave. Approximately one hour later a police officer arrived – after several calls from both the security guards and from Mr. de Leon. The officer (just one) refused to listen to the group of men until he had spoken with the security guards first. Then, the officer told the men they could be cited for homosexual conduct. It is unfortunate that the officer – and possibly the El Paso police department – doesn’t keep up with revisions in the law. But then the US Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional back in 2003 – but maybe they have gotten a little behind in their reading.

Gay Man Visiting New York Beaten in Hate Crime (July 10, 2009)

Joseph Holladay had already moved away from New York to Boston – but he had to return to New York on business and stayed with a friend. It was around 4:15 a.m. and he left the apartment briefly to help another friend hail a cab – then stopped just long enough to have a cigarette. “Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was attacked by some men, they were calling me faggot,” he said at a July 1 press conference. “They beat me hard, and unconscious, leaving me laying in a pool of blood.” When he woke up he was in the hospital being given multiple stitches in his head. Fortunately there were witnesses to this horrible attack – and most fortunately Mr. Holladay survived. Once the investigation truly got underway – the authorities realized that there were at least five more cases in which the same perpetrators were very involved. The investigation is still underway and they are actively pursuing the suspects. The article includes a photo of Mr. Holladay at the press conference – just a few days after the beating. The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP) has been assisting both Joseph Holladay and the New York City Police – to arrest those involved in the attack and also link them to the other attacks to which they apparently have been linked. Please join me in wishing Mr. Holladay – and the others – a full and safe recovery from their injuries.

State of Massachusetts Sues Feds Over D.O.M.A. (July 11, 2009)

The state of Massachusetts now has another first – to the benefit of the LGBT Community. The state was the first to legalize same-sex marriage – and now it is the very first state to sue the U.S. government over a law which “interferes with the right of Massachusetts to define marriage as it sees fit.” Cheers for the state of Massachusetts !!! The lawsuit – filed in federal court in Boston – “argues the act ‘constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law’.” Approximately 16,000 Same-Sex couples have been married in Massachusetts since it became legal in 2004 – and the lawsuit says that they are “unfairly being denied federal benefits given to heterosexual couples.” Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley said, “They are entitled to equal treatment under the laws regardless of whether they are gay or straight.” The federal lawsuit also addresses issues such as eligibility for Medicaid benefits and veterans burial benefits – among others. This could become just the catalyst President Obama needs to start the repeal of D.O.M.A. Hopefully other states will follow. Thank-you very much Massachusetts – for taking the time and energy to care!
mjpngwnz: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.