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HRC on the Record, Part 1: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Diversity.

March 09, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Thought of the Gay, Youth Issues

Human Rights Campaign LogoIt’s no secret that I’ve been critical of some of the decisions made by the Human Rights Campaign (“HRC”) and comments made by their spokespeople, but what should also be apparent is, like any organization, the HRC was developed with people power.  Like me, all of those people are fallible.  Mistakes can and do happen.  It took me a long time to recognize that for myself.  Sometimes, I speak for me, sometimes I speak for an organization – at no time is my speech necessarily correct.

About two months ago, I had an interesting conversation with Darrell Parsons.  Mr. Parsons is a member of the Board of Governors for HRC and Chair of the San Antonio Gala Planning Committee.  He suggested that I come to the Gala Planning meetings as media, putting on the record “the good, the bad and the ugly.”  It was an offer that a queer blogger and grassroots activist like me could not pass up.  For one, it would allow me to grow my understanding of the motivations of those involved with the HRC.  It would also provide me with a method to hold the organizational process publicly accountable when I witnessed them going astray.  While I saw the opportunity as a way to prove me wrong about some of my perceptions of HRC, I did not fully consider the very real possibility that I could be right.  What could my “report” mean for the community?  Will it build it up or further tear it down?  Would an “ugly” moment divide us more than any “good” moment could possibly pull us together?

After two committee meetings and finding budding friendships with many of those participating, I now find myself reluctantly upholding my responsibility to report “the good, the bad and the ugly.”

The Good.

One of the most obvious “good” scores was discussed in the preceding paragraphs.  It’s the fact that I was even invited to attend these meetings on the record.  This shows a willingness on the part of our local HRC chapter to be transparent to the community and to be held accountable publicly should they go astray.

Another “good” score was obtained by the HRC Gala committee developing a “Diversity and Outreach” sub-committee.  As an enormous fan of radical inclusiveness, I would be candidate number one to be on such a committee; however, my purpose with the group is as a reporter, not as a committee chair.  That position was filled by Kevin, who is also the faculty advisor for a college LGBT organization, “OUT.” While diversity should be a key factor of any organization rather than a sub-committee, this development at least shows that there is a willingness to try to solve the overall exclusion problem within the larger HRC organization – even if it is an afterthought.

The good didn’t stop there.  This year, the committee decided to offer a significantly reduced student rate of $75.00.  To further that, they have offered to allow members of the community to purchase a student ticket at that rate and have the ticket later donated to a worthy student.  They’ve also allowed for payment plans – HRC Gala, on lay-a-way.  The reason I put this in the “good” category isn’t because a $75.00 meal is affordable, but it is certainly a step in the right direction to bring less affluent members of our community to the table.

A less substantial “good” that deserves a mention is the social aspect of volunteering with the HRC.  There are many wonderfully charming and intelligent people volunteering their time to promote the organization. When asked, many stated that they chose to work with the HRC because they believe that we are all deserving of equality.  Whether we agree or disagree on the methods and inclusiveness of various organizations, we can agree that at the finish line, we will all celebrate the victories.

The Bad.

In the “good” section, I discussed the fact that the committee had a sub-committee devoted to “Diversity and Outreach.”  A bad moment was when Mr. Parsons found himself stumbling for a way to explain the committee’s function, stating its purpose was to reach out to those that might not be familiar with HRC and try to get them to come to the Gala event.  Examples of this outreach included approaching the black and Latino communities.  This was “bad” to me as it seemed to solidify the perception of the organization as being a predominantly white, upper class group that is completely out of touch with the remainder of our community. It’s possible that it would make it into the “ugly” section as it seemed to focus more on race than full diversity; however, diversity is often difficult to explain and starting with race is often the easiest path for people to get to the whole picture.

Another bad revolves around the issue of giving credit where credit is due.  I mentioned the Target debacle to Darrell Parsons and the recent interview in Billboard Magazine with Lady Gaga.  I noted that it seems like the company may be making an effort in the near future to make amends with the LGBT community and Mr. Parsons quickly noted that HRC pressured them into it.  While I would concur that HRC contributed to the pressure on Target with their petition campaign and removal of the company from their buyer’s guide, credit should also be given to grassroots organizers who took actions against the store – including, but certainly not limited to, a PFLAG mom who, on her own volition, returned a basket full of items purchased from Target and explained the rationale behind her return to management, and the group Queer Rising, who invaded Target stores in their “Target Ain’t People” campaign declaring, “Attention Target Shoppers” – know when you shop at Target, your money is going to fuel hate. Pressure on the company came from many avenues within our community without one direct action being planned by HRC directly.  No one organization or group deserves full credit for any progress made.

This isn’t the first time HRC has ignored or outright taken credit for grassroots’ efforts.  In fact, immediately following the National Equality March, HRC declared the event “big” and responsible for a “burst of momentum” in a fundraising email.  At no point did they mention that they fought against the National Equality March tooth, nail, fist and high heel all the way to D.C.

The Ugly.

Perhaps the thing that makes the “ugly” so very “ugly” was the fact that it directly affected one of the “good” items on my list, the reduced rate for student tickets.  I heralded the more reasonable rate on Facebook, noting that San Antonio is trying to bring more people to the table.  However, when a “Table Captain” and active member of the Steering Committee for HRC was asked about purchasing an entire table for students, the inquirer was quickly told that the problem with donating a table to students is that students won’t pay attention, won’t “bring anything to the table, will be drunk and won’t purchase silent action items.”

While this is ugly on its face for the “drunk” comment if for none other, it’s also terribly wrong.  I have worked closely with the students and LGBT Youth organizations on many occasions as a volunteer to help them out and as an organizer looking for them to help me out.  Each time, the students have brought a lot to my table, including: passion, energy, intelligence and hard work.  While it may be this person’s experience that students aren’t worthy of a place at the HRC Gala, I wholeheartedly disagree and would like to refer this individual to their Diversity and Outreach committee for further training.

It isn’t the official policy of the Human Rights Campaign to disregard the value of students.   According to Mr. Parsons, “Students are our future and bring a great deal to the table; which is why we have focused on supporting the student organizations over the past few years.”  But actions speak louder than words.  The San Antonio chapter of HRC has taken pro-student actions in the past, including assisting St. Mary’s University students in getting recognition for their GSA and speaking to the Alamo Community College District Board in support of a fully inclusive anti-discrimination policy; however, it is still “ugly” to call the students drunks and dismiss them for choosing to have a meal the next day instead of buying silent auction items.

Righting the Wrong.

I’ve always believed it’s never too late to right a wrong.  Hopefully, the Gala planning committee, and more particularly the offending “Table Captain,” will make it up to the students by donating a table to the local student groups, free of charge as the benefactor had originally intended to do, and with no obligation for the purchase of a silent auction item.  Of course, they may have to lock up the liquor cabinet before inviting all those pesky alcoholic students.

HRC on the Record: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Diversity, Part 1.

HRC’s Eric Alva Speaks about DADT and Obama’s Defense of Policy

October 17, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

"We Will Not Be Silent." Don't Ask Don't Tell ("DADT")Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva (Ret.) was the first American wounded in the war in Iraq when, on March 21, 2003, while traveling to Basra, he stepped on a land mine.  In 2006, Sgt. Alva began working with the Human Rights Campaign, the “largest” LGBT Rights organization, to speak out against the military’s now (but likely temporarily) halted “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (DADT). He now tours nationally for the organization and continues to lecture about DADT.

On Friday, October 15, 2010, just days after a Federal Judge ordered an injunction against enforcement of the unconstitutional policy, the Gay and Lesbian Association of San Antonio College hosted a lecture by Sgt. Alva as part of their Coming Out Week events.

Sgt. Alva began his lecture by discussing his tenure in the military and its abrupt and tragic end, with the triggering of the land mine.  He went on to explain that, after his medical discharge, he contacted the HRC to find out how he can work with them to educate and inspire a repeal of DADT.  Not only did his lecture included his personal experiences working toward a repeal, but he also used the opportunity to address the division within the LGBT community, stating that he never refers to us as a “community,” but instead prefers to refer to us as a “populace” because of our varied lifestyles, opinions, culture, etc.

It is very likely that the Department of Justice will appeal the lower court’s decision to the 9th circuit in an effort to halt a judicial repeal of the policy.  If such appeal is perfected, it means that the Obama Administration is attempting to keep the policy in place, rather than repeal it as has been stated by Obama to be his goal.  You can read more about that issue, here, including discussion of other cases which were not appealed by the justice department.

Sgt. Alva, in addressing the recent injunction, Obama’s appeal of the decision and the fact that Obama has continued to refuse to sign an executive order ending the policy, stated, “I do not want Obama to sign an executive order, ending don’t ask, don’t tell.”  He went on to explain that, if the president chose to end the policy it would put an end to the discussions; discussions he believes are important in light of the recent and highly publicized LGBT youth suicides.

DADT has been the policy of the United States Military for approximately 17 years.  Prior to implementation of the policy, the military’s policy was simply, you can’t serve if you’re gay.

Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva was the first American wounded in the war in Iraq. On March 21, 2003
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We The People and the HRC

October 14, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

hrcmoneyBefore you start reading below, I would like to caveat this.  While I’m frustrated and angry with the “Human Rights Campaign” for disregarding “We the People,” I acknowledge that they do very important work.  Indirect action matters as much as direct action, but frankly, I can’t afford to go to HRC events.

This morning, I received another request for funds from the HRC.  The email had no less than three direct links to give them money and several to a video about what their $200,000.00 would accomplish.  Now, I’ve kept my hands clean of the HRC issue, but now I have to admit they’ve gone too far.

You may recall that the HRC provided little or no support of the march up until the final few days before.  While “officially” they were mildly supportive of the effort, the elite HRC folks in confidential message boards called the march things like a “shit storm” and declared that we the people could not possibly effectively lobby congress.  They said no one would come to the march.  They said our resources are better spent in Maine and Washington.  They said a lot of things except, “Come one, come all and we will win this fight together.”  Now, they expect me to write them a check.

They also claimed that we need to fight these battles on a state by state basis – yet now they ask for money for their federal campaign?

As a counter-proposal to sending your check to the HRC via this email, please consider donating money to the No on 1 campaign in Maine or Refrendum 71 in Washington.  These groups could really use your help.

As to the HRC – I do hope the next email from them says something like, “Momentum is building and we need your help.  We need you to step forward in your area and build a stronger more united presence.  We have to keep fighting at all levels – city, state and federal.  In that spirit, we are hosting a series of workshops in communities across the U.S. to help build a stronger force to oppose the oppressors and fight back against bigotry.”  Of course, I’m spitting in the wind.

Here is the email – all links have been removed:

After this weekend, we have a burst of momentum.

But without a major advocacy push now, it could be lost.

Watch this video and help us raise $200,000 to capitalize on this moment.

Click here to watch the video!

This weekend was big.

From President Obama’s speech at our National Dinner to final House passage of hate crimes to the National Equality March, the nation’s attention is on LGBT equality – we have a burst of momentum.

But this is no time to grow complacent. We need your help to capitalize on this moment. [emphasis added]

The next month and a half will be tough – while we fight against anti-LGBT ballot initiatives in multiple states, we must also act NOW to push our federal agenda to its tipping point, or we could miss this window.

We need to raise $200,000 for a renewed effort to seize this opportunity and advance our federal agenda and fight for marriage equality in the states without delay. Will you be part of this fight?

We’ve created a video that shows how your support helps us cut through the lies.

Watch the video and help us raise $200,000 by October 26 to make sure a signed hate crimes law is just the first victory we seize this fall.

We’ll have to be strategic to build on our momentum. It won’t last forever. Because the signs of our opposition are all around:

  • Right-wing groups up in arms over President Obama’s speech, declaring that he “used the bully pulpit tonight to defy the Creator” and supports “radical social policies,” while demanding that he meet with “ex-gays” at the White House.
  • Anti-LGBT groups behind a Prop. 8-style initiative in Maine blanketing the airwaves with the same fear-mongering ads they used in California, including their claim that same-sex marriage would be “pushed on students.”
  • The new President of the UN General Assembly – which is charged with protecting rights and safety around the world – calling homosexuality “totally unacceptable.”

A workshop at a right-wing conference in St. Louis – “How to Counter the Homosexual Extremist Movement” – on how to be less “nice” in fighting against gay rights.

We’re fighting back. With your support right now, our first step is to get the hate crimes bill signed into law; then we’ll make it illegal to fire and harass LGBT employees once and for all with an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

These vital protections – and the millions more LGBT people who will be able to come out because of them – will lay the foundation for the toughest Congressional battle: repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.

I know exactly what it is that will allow us to win these battles. I saw it in the crowd at our dinner. I see it in the hundreds of volunteers who have met with Congress members through our No Excuses campaign. And it was in every face at the National Equality March.

It’s determination. Plain and simple and unrelenting.

Please give as generously as you can today – help us pass the life-changing bills before Congress and win multiple state-level challenges.

Thank you for being part of this historic fight with us.

Joe Solmonese
President

Dear Jason,

After this weekend, we have a burst of momentum.

But without a major advocacy push now, it could be lost.

Click here to watch the video!

This weekend was big.

From President Obama’s speech at our National Dinner to final House passage of hate crimes to the National Equality March, the nation’s attention is on LGBT equality – we have a burst of momentum.

But this is no time to grow complacent. We need your help to capitalize on this moment.

The next month and a half will be tough – while we fight against anti-LGBT ballot initiatives in multiple states, we must also act NOW to push our federal agenda to its tipping point, or we could miss this window.

We need to raise $200,000 for a renewed effort to seize this opportunity and advance our federal agenda and fight for marriage equality in the states without delay. Will you be part of this fight?

We’ve created a video that shows how your support helps us cut through the lies.

We’ll have to be strategic to build on our momentum. It won’t last forever. Because the signs of our opposition are all around:

  • Right-wing groups up in arms over President Obama’s speech, declaring that he “used the bully pulpit tonight to defy the Creator” and supports “radical social policies,” while demanding that he meet with “ex-gays” at the White House.

  • Anti-LGBT groups behind a Prop. 8-style initiative in Maine blanketing the airwaves with the same fear-mongering ads they used in California, including their claim that same-sex marriage would be “pushed on students.”

  • The new President of the UN General Assembly – which is charged with protecting rights and safety around the world – calling homosexuality “totally unacceptable.”

  • A workshop at a right-wing conference in St. Louis – “How to Counter the Homosexual Extremist Movement” – on how to be less “nice” in fighting against gay rights.

We’re fighting back. With your support right now, our first step is to get the hate crimes bill signed into law; then we’ll make it illegal to fire and harass LGBT employees once and for all with an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

These vital protections – and the millions more LGBT people who will be able to come out because of them – will lay the foundation for the toughest Congressional battle: repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.

I know exactly what it is that will allow us to win these battles. I saw it in the crowd at our dinner. I see it in the hundreds of volunteers who have met with Congress members through our No Excuses campaign. And it was in every face at the National Equality March.

It’s determination. Plain and simple and unrelenting.

Thank you for being part of this historic fight with us.

Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese
President

This link is specific to you, so please make your donation to this campaign before you forward to your friends. Having trouble clicking on the links above? Simply copy and paste this URL into your browser’s address bar to take action today: https://secure3.convio.net/hrc/site/SPageServer?pagename=fall_campaign_go

Closet Talk: TransIssues with Allyson Robinson, Associate Director of Diversity, HRC

August 31, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkEven a summary of Allyson Robinson’s life and work within the LGBT community would fill a book. Allyson is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, a pastor with a Masters in divinity, the Associate Director of Diversity for HRC, a wife and a mother. Just in case I forget to mention it later, Allyson is also transgender – and she blogs! In this episode of Closet Talk, we discussed Allyson’s life before coming out/transitioning and her life now.

Interestingly, Allyson is also legally married to a woman, something we further discuss on the show.  Their marriage, while illegal for most same-sex couples, is recognized by the United States government because Allyson was married prior to her transition.  Listen to the show to learn more about this “loop-hole” in the law.

Unifying the Queer Community: Trans-Inclusion

August 24, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

transgenderJust because those of us who blog like to think we know everything, doesn’t mean we do – so here’s your chance to help me learn a thing or two.  My guest this week on Closet Talk will be Allyson Robinson, Association Director of Diversity for HRC.  We will be discussion Allyson’s transition process and I’ll be getting a lot of questions about the transcommunity answered for myself.  I do hope that by becoming more educated about issues outside of the “G” in LGBTQ, I can become fully inclusive in my activism and at jaysays.com.

In preparing for the show, I’ve been considering how to be more “transinclusive” at jaysays.com.  Perhaps, in the near future, a contributor from the transcommunity will be added to the site in order to fill the hole here.  In the meantime, it’s all on this gay boy from a red state to try to figure out.

So, to you dear reader, how do you feel we (the LGBTQ bloggers of the world) can be more transinclusive?  What sorts of questions do you have about the transcommunity?  You may submit your thoughts via the comments to this post or, if you feel more comfortable for privacy’s sake, you may use the contact page.  Either way, please share your thoughts – seems I’m running out of my own!

LGBT Notable News Happenings – (June 15, 2009 – June 27, 2009)

June 29, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsCoalition Reports Gay Bias Killings Up in U.S. (June 6, 2009)

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports that the number of people of the LGBT community killed in bias-motivated incidents increased by 28% in 2008. This is the greatest increase documented by the Coalition since 1999. Although the FBI reports slightly different figures – “the FBI doesn’t record bias crimes against transgendered people because gender identity isn’t covered by federal hate-crime law”. The figures reported by both the FBI and the Coalition might be a little lower than reality because some (understandably) fear retribution and do not report the crimes at all. Some victims also do not report the crimes because they are not ready to out themselves to the police – possibly fearing bias from the authorities themselves. Sharon Stapel theorized that some of the violence from 2008 was due to backlash against issues from the presidential campaign. She said, “The more visibility there is the more likely we’re going to see backlash, and that’s exactly what we see here.” Whether or not that is the reason for the increase – hopefully the Hate Crimes Bill will pass in the Senate and there will be more justice and less hate.

Fresno Hospital Denies Medical Access (June 15, 2009)

Meet in the Middle was held in Fresno CA the Saturday after the CA Supreme Court announced it would not overturn Prop. 8. Many people had already been planning their trip to Fresno prior to the decision. LGBT individuals and couples along with allies of our community came from all over the state – and also from other states. Kristin Orbin and Teresa Rowe were there – and they actively participated. When Kristin suddenly became ill an ambulance was called. Neither the ambulance driver or the hospital personnel allowed Teresa to see Kristin – even with medical documents and power of attorney. It just wasn’t allowed. Teresa tried to warn the hospital staff not to give her partner the drug Ativan due to previous medical problems – but medical personnel gave it to her against pleas from Teresa. Fortunately there was no permanent damage from the medication. When politicians say that the LGBT community has the same rights as everybody else – they need to be reminded that basic human rights are ignored every day.

GA Court Says Gay Dads Friends & Kids Can Meet (June 15, 2009)

Most parents take it for granted – their kids will meet their friends – even after a divorce. In fact many parents really look forward to introducing their children – because it can be very exciting. One former spouse became rather bitter after her divorce and was granted a court order that the children could not meet their dad’s Gay friends. Fortunately the Georgia Supreme Court disagreed with that order and ruled that Eric Duane Mongerson could introduce his children to his perspective partners as well as to his friends. Justice Robert Benham said, “…there is no proof exposure to homosexuals is harmful to children. Such an arbitrary classification based on sexual orientation flies in the face of our public policy that encourages divorced parents to participate in the raising of their children.”

UK Tribunal Rules in Favor of Gay Postman (June 15, 2009)

Liam Black had worked as a postman and had to put up with inappropriate comments made about him – both directly and when he wasn’t there. Finally last summer Mr. Black left work early for the same reasons. He then felt he couldn’t return and resigned his job with the Royal Mail. A panel at Ashford Employment Tribunal accepted Mr. Black’s claim and investigated. After investigating the panel ruled that the “stereotypical language” was “derogatory” and “discriminated against Mr. Black on the ground of his sexual orientation.” The panel also ruled that Mr. Black’s dignity had been “violated”, and in addition found that the Royal Mail had “failed to follow proper procedures after he made a formal complaint”. Mr. Taylor was the immediate superior – the line manager for Mr. Black. Liam Black accomplished a lot in a short period of time – using the resources of a small village.

Orbitz / HRC LGBT Friendly Commercial (June 16, 2009)

Recently a new television commercial was launched for Orbitz travel. This time there is not only a man wearing a blue shirt with an “HRC” logo – but as a comment (below the actual article) mentions – there is an LGBT Pride flag on one of the golf bags. Usually I skip over commercials (thanks to my dvr) but I watched the video a few times (with pauses) to look at everything carefully. I encourage you to watch the video for a proud moment of pro-LGBT viewing (the link is directly below the photo of the commercial).

Lithuanian Parliament Votes New LGBT Ban (June 17, 2009)

The new ban is an amendment to the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information. An anonymous worker in Seimas said, “The subject of homosexuality is not welcome in our schools.” A conservative coalition member Vilija Aleknaite-Abramikiene said, “We prefer a family model, the traditional family model, but of course if parents want to teach such propaganda they can, but according to our constitution, children are under protection.” Ms Aleknaite-Abramikiene voted in favor of the law but indicated she agrees with the ban against hate speech against homosexuals. LGBT organizations and activists are organizing along with students and supporters to petition the president. The president is given 10 days to sign the bill into law.

Poll Show Australians Support Same Sex Marriage (June 17, 2009)

A recent poll found that about 60% of Australians support Same-Sex marriage – a significant increase from the poll in 2004 which showed support to be at 38%. The poll was a Galaxy poll commissioned by the Australian Marriage Equality group. Peter Furness of Australian Marriage Equality has said that growing support for Same-Sex marriage and the recognition of LGBT couples married in other countries has increased pressure on the government to review its stance. Mr. Furness said, “This poll scuttles the only rationale put forward by the Rudd Government for opposing equality, namely that a majority of Australians believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman.” Looks like there is some new momentum for our brothers and sisters in Australia to build on.

Gay Referee in Turkey Stripped of License (June 17, 2009)

There are no laws in Turkey making homosexuality illegal. That hasn’t helped Halil Ibrahim Dincdag who is 33 – since he decided to come out proudly as Gay. He has since had to leave his home in Trabzon and go into exile. Mr Dincdag said, “I have not committed a crime, I have not defamed my profession. I’m only a homosexual.” Fortunately he still has the support of his family – including his brother who is an imam. The offices of KAOS-GL (the group for gay and lesbian rights in Turkey) sees his case as a step forward for the movement. Ali Erol – a KAOS-GL member- said, “Turkey, which has managed to break taboos on the Armenian genocide and the Kurdish problem, is yet to openly face the reality of homosexuality.” Mr. Dincdag vows to fight to restore his career and has indicated he will go as far as the European Court of Human Rights – if need be.

Obama Expands Some Bens to Federal Employees (June 18, 2009)

President Obama offered increased coverage of some benefits to LGBT partners of federal employees. The new benefits are limited – however – to health coverage only for long term illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, and the ability to use sick leave to care for an ill partner or non-biolgical child. The expanded benefits also include allowing LGBT partners of diplomats use medical facilities at foreign postings. Expanded coverage does not include comprehensive health insurance benefits nor does it include survivor benefits. The President indicated that the Defense of Marriage Act prevents more generous benefits for same-sex partners. Although Pres. Obama continues to insist that he intends to repeal the discriminatory policies our community faces – he has yet to act in that direction. LGBT families/partners in the military – need not apply for the expanded benefits (as long as they want to keep their jobs…).

NY Man Charged With Assault as Hate Crime (June 19, 2009)

In Central Islip NY three openly gay men were approached and two of them were physically assaulted by a man named Wenzola Rountree. Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks of the Hate Crimes Unit said that Mr. Rountree was charged with assaulting the men while they were walking out of a friend’s home. Anti-gay slurs were yelled and punches and kicks were landed – causing cuts, scrapes and bruises to the gay men. One of the victims needed nine stitches and also had a swollen eye. The officers indicated the men were attacked solely because of their sexual orientation. Mr. Rountree told police that he would attack his victims again if he could. In a statement released by Suffolk police, County Executive Steve Levy said, “Attacks on an individual or individuals simply due to their sexuality are not tolerated in Suffolk County, and the perpetrator will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the applicable laws.” Mr. Rountree was ordered not to make contact with the victims – hopefully he will abide by the court mandated order.

LGBT Movement Including Stonewall Changes Lives (June 24, 2009)

This is a history of LGBT events from another more personal perspective. The author was not at Stonewall itself – but was nearby. He has witnessed some more personal aspects of our history – and in a way which could be helpful to others. Tim Gay – the author – also shares insights he has learned from those he has been close to. His perspective is refreshing and seems to be an interesting way to reflect on the LGBT history gone by – as well as the LGBT history yet to be made.

Survey Shows Minority Discrimination in UK (June 24, 2009)

A recent survey done in Northern Ireland shows that those surveyed have several prejudices against folks who they consider minorities. Those surveyed were asked about living next door to a member of the travelling community (aka gypsies) and 51% didn’t like that idea. They also responded that they would not want a person with mental illness as a neighbor – nor would they want to even work with a member of the LGBT community. It is interesting that of those surveyed 92% also indicated a strong need for equality legislation. Please take a moment or two to listen to a message from the Equality Commission Chief Commissioner Bob Collins. He speaks about educating folks to better understand and be open to the needs of others – minorities. The message is included in the article.

Chicago School Will Be in Pride Parade (June 25, 2009)

Many of the families at Nettelhorst Elementary School decided they wanted to march together in the 40th annual Gay Pride Parade. The school proudly displays thousands of strips of dyed fabric – matching the colors of the LGBT Pride Flag – hanging on its black metal fence. The local community is excited that Nettlehorst “will be the first Chicago public school to march in the city’s gay pride parade.” The school also proudly displays a sign which reads, “We believe family means everybody.” Amy Goodman – a parent from Nettlehorst said, “I love that my kids will understand that there are all different kinds of families. When it comes to any kind of differences, I think the only way to realize how much we have in common is to celebrate and acknowledge our differences.” There is a delightful picture of Amy and her kids preparing for the parade – in the article.

Fed Suit Filed by Former GA State Employee (June 26, 2009)

U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story cleared the way for a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former state employee – fired because she was undergoing a Gender Reassignment procedure. Vandy Beth Glenn had been working as a legislative editor for the General Assembly before her boss fired her. U.S. District Judge Story on Friday “denied an attempt by Georgia legislators to dismiss the lawsuit on grounds that it could lead to a new round of court scrutiny of public employees.” Lambda Legal said, “Story’s decision is a signal that the state legislature can be challenged for violating her constitutional rights.” Hopefully this will help more Transgendered members of our community in their ability to fight for their rights – and equality will be gained in the process.

Play in India Sends Message to Government (June 27, 2009)

The play entitled “Karnataka Queer Habba” was staged to showcase the plight of sexual minorities. The entire cast of the play consisted of LGBT individuals and it took place in Bangalore. Another reason for the play was to send a message to the government and the people to repeal “section 377” of the Indian Penal Code – which makes homosexuality criminal. Other events took place as part of the celebration – including a pride march, public debates and a cricket match. The following organizations have been working hard in the campaign to decriminalize homosexuality – NAZ Foundation, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), The Law Commission of India, the Union Health Ministry, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Planning Commission of India. The article also mentions the United Nations messages to the government of India.

Author’s Note

Now that I have reported the news I would like to apologize for not reporting last week – it was unavoidable. Some of the news items do go back a little bit in time – but I decided to included them as well. Also I want to personally acknowledge the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall. Hopefully this Anniversary will not only remind us of the past and what has happened since – but also bring more energy to the LGBT Community and our Allies – in our pursuit of Equality. Thank-you for your understanding. mj
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.