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Waiting to Learn the Fate of Our Families

November 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

noon1Today, three major human rights issues are being placed in the hands of the voters of Washington state, Kalamazoo, Michigan and Maine.  In Washington State, voter’s are being asked to approve Referendum 71, which essentially gives same-sex couples all state (but not federal) rights provided to opposite-sex couples.  It’s a “separate but equal” initiative, but will help our families tremendously in dealing with legal challenges and medical issues.  Ballots are mail-in only, so it could be a while before we know the results.

In Kalamazoo, the voters are being asked whether or not an amendment to the current City Ordinance should take effect.  The original anti-discrimination ordinance prohibits discrimination based upon race, religion and other suspect classifications.  The amendment is designed to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the current ordinance.

In Maine, voters are being asked to deem same-sex marriage illegal in the state.  Maine already recognizes same-sex marriage, so again (as in California) we see the people voting to take away a right that already exists – a disgusting precedence for a “free” people.

Because of these three very important human rights battles, I feel a bit like the person in the waiting room at a hospital waiting to find out the fate of my loved one.  I no longer have any influence or control at all over the turnout.

Voters in Maine, to beat my analogy to death, have our relationships in their hands.  They are prepared to decide whether my family can continue to be legally recognized as a family or not.  That’s the only question being presented really.  Are same-sex couples a “family”?

Regardless of the way the vote goes, they will not be able to conquer our love for our would-be husbands or wives.  They will not divorce us.  Our relationship, our love, our person will remain fully intact as we identify ourselves to be.

So, I sit in the waiting room with one glimmer of hope – my love will survive.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what condition he’ll be in when I get him back.

LGBT Heroes Project: Dr. Stephen Erich, Ph.D: Gay & Lesbian Parents of Adopted Children

October 07, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: LGBT Heroes Project

From Jude: As part of our Heroes Project, I am delighted to introduce Dr. Stephen Erich, Ph.D. and researcher on adoptive families with gay and lesbian parents. Dr. Erich was kind enough to provide us with the latest research in this area. For those of you with more interest, The Journal of Adoption Quarterly has a special issue coming out this winter on gay families and adoption.

First of all, thank you Jude for giving me the opportunity to talk about a social issue that is very important to me. I have been doing research and speaking about adoptive families with gay and lesbian parents since 2002. As, no doubt many of you know, there has been an abundance of research on families with gay and lesbian parents whose children emerged from previous heterosexual relationships or who were planned through donor insemination. The 20+ years of research on these families is uniformly positive and has certainly influenced the emergence of research on adoptive families.

While research regarding lesbian/gay adoptive families is a relatively new phenomenon, there have been important contributions to our knowledge base in the last few years. I have summarized a few of these studies in the following paragraphs. In 2001, Van Voorhis and Wagner (2001) conducted a content analysis of a dozen prominent social work journals covering a 12 year period and reported that there were no articles dealing with lesbian and gay individuals or couples as adoptive or foster parents. Shortly, thereafter, Ryan and Cash (2004) published a study with gay and lesbian parents that included 183 families and found the parents were able to attain high levels of social support despite the presence of institutionalized discrimination throughout society.  In 2007, Ryan re-examined the data from their original study and found these parents had sufficient parenting skills leading the author to conclude that the adopted children in this study were being raised in healthy family environments.

Erich, Leung, Kindle, and Carter (2005) assessed adoptive family functioning, adopted child behavior and support networks in lesbian/gay families and reported that the forty-three adoptive families in their study scored within the normal to high ranges on a measure of family functioning. The results also indicate these families were able to develop effective support networks and that their adopted children’s behaviors were typical of any family. In a subsequent analysis, that compared the previous sample of lesbian/gay adoptive parents to a similar sample of heterosexual adoptive parents, the results included no statistically significant differences in adoptive family functioning, support networks, and adopted child’s behavior (Erich, Leung, & Kindle, 2005). In still another analysis involving the original group of adoptive families with lesbian and gay parents and two other groups of adoptive families, sexual orientation of the adoptive parent was not a significant predictor of the quality of family functioning. However, lesbian/gay parents who adopted older children, did exhibit better family functioning when compared to their heterosexual counterparts (Leung, Erich, & Kanenberg, 2005).  All three of these analyses involved adoptive families with children whose average age was between 6 and 9.

Erich, Kanenberg, Case, Allen, and Bogdanos (2008) rectified this limitation by studying adopted adolescent attachment to their adoptive parents with a sample made up of lesbian/gay and heterosexual adoptive parents and their children. The key finding from this study was that no group differences were found regarding level of adolescent attachment to parents by parent sexual orientation. It is important to note that all research has one or more limitations and the ones mentioned above are no different. However, do not be dismayed by this reality of research with humans, the sheer volume of studies that support the practice of adoption by gay and lesbian parents represents a strong foundation for accepting the viability of this practice. Within the past year or two, several more articles and books have been written that are expected to be published in the near future.  These new publications will document new research and synthesize these findings with existing research-so keep an eye out for it.

The result of this research has likely encouraged a relatively ongoing and positive change in public attitudes, agency practices and policies along with changes in state marriage or civil union laws regarding people with a same sex sexual orientation. For instance, a recent study by Brodzinsky and colleagues found that approximately 60% of adoption agencies in the U.S. are willing to accept applications from gay and lesbian parents or couples. Additionally, a few states have recently decided to legally recognize gay and lesbian couple relationships which ultimately benefit the children of these couples.

All in all, much progress has been made. But more still needs to be done. Much of this research has not been yet been discussed in mainstream media venues which may help more people to reconsider their belief systems.

Stephen “Arch” Erich, Ph.D., LCSW

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 – (June 27, 2009 – July 4, 2009)

July 06, 2009 By: MJ Category: Featured, LGBT News

LGBT NewsCivil Partnership in Ireland Celebrated With Parade (June 27, 2009)

Dublin was the scene of a loud and happy celebration where it was estimated that 12,000 people were gathered. Some of those who attended were dressed in tuxedos or wedding gowns to celebrate the new Civil Partnership Bill – which granted many of the rights of heterosexual marriages. There were others who were also happy – but “some 60 people dressed in a half tux or wedding dress … the move was to symbolize the ‘half measures’ offered in the Bill”. The Bill – which will be enacted and operational by the end of the year – gives statutory rights to Gay and Lesbian couples. Some of the rights included are the “protection of a shared home, pension rights, the right to succession and equality with married couples of treatment under the tax and social welfare codes.” Congratulations to our brothers and sisters in Ireland. There are some important rights missing – but this seems like a good start. The theme of the celebratory Pride Parade was – “Pride and Prejudice.”

LGBT Pride Month Recognized in US Labor Bldg (June 29, 2009)

The agency headquarters for the US Dept. of Labor prominently recognized LGBT Pride Month by installing and displaying Gay Pride posters in their building. The posters included photos of eight prominent LGBT Americans and were posted in the elevators. Unfortunately not all employees of the agency agreed with the recognition of LGBT Pride Month. Secretary Hilda Solis has denounced some vandals who not only defaced and even removed posters – but who also tore the actual poster frames completely off the elevator walls. Labor Secretary Solis sent out an agency-wide email indicating she would not tolerate anti-gay misconduct. Ms Solis said, “It appears, however, that some members of the Labor Department team have a different view, as it has come to my attention that most of the posters have been continually defaced or removed.” Secretary Solis also said, “I do not believe these actions represent the majority of our employees, so I refuse to let this situation define us. But I do want to make myself absolutely clear: Respect for others is nonnegotiable at the U.S. Department of Labor.” The posters which had been vandalized were immediately replaced. They were on display from June 22, 2009 until the end of the month. I hope that I speak for all of us when I say thank-you Secretary Solis for standing up in this way for the LGBT Community !

“Gaby Boom” Generation Speaks Out in US (June 29, 2009)

Many anti-gay politicians and religious leaders choose to speak out against Gay Marriage – especially about what they think is possibly harmful to the children of these families. It seems that most of these outspoken folks have spoken about the children of LGBT families – but they have they ever actually spoken to any of them!! Well the situation has been rectified. This article features several grown children of same sex families who have now been given the opportunity to share their views and feelings about growing up in lgbt families. They seem to be just like any other grown children – some have rebelled in their own ways, some call one parent by their first name and some go hiking and play catch – but they all seem to have grown to be healthy and happy persons. Here is yet another positive result of a child – or children – growing up in a loving home with parents who really care about them. “Gaby Boom” seems to be an LGBT reference to the “Baby Boom” generation – of which I am proudly a member – and I think it really works!. I truly recommend reading the entire piece – even if you prefer to read it a smaller portion at a time. It is well written and shows a variety of diversity within our own community. Well done kids! Another well done to the author of the piece!

Rainbow Lounge in TX Raided on Stonewall Anniversary (June 29, 2009)

Many people have good reason to see parallels between the raid at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, TX – and the raid at the Stonewall Inn exactly 40 years ago. The Fort Worth police officers claim this was a planned inspection – and that two other bars were also on the list for inspection that evening. But what happened at the Rainbow Lounge was far from an inspection. It seemed more to be like a twisted anti-gay commemoration of the anniversary. The owner of the Rainbow Lounge had previously been contacted by authorities and had agreed to an inspection of the bar – based on the liquor license. When the police arrived at the bar – one of the patrons thanked them for coming to protect them on that particular night. The officer replied that wasn’t the reason they were there. Several people were arrested and made to stand against the wall outside the bar – one person was badly injured and ended up in intensive care with bleeding in his brain. (The latest update is that the injured young man (Chad) is still hospitalized and will be suffering with extreme pain in his head for years.) The news report from tv station WFAA is included in the article. Protests took place later outside the bar and another at the Tarrant County Courthouse.

President Obama Hosts LGBT Leaders at White House (June 30, 2009)

As a part of the officially designated LGBT Pride month of June, Pres. Obama and his wife Michelle hosted approximately 250 elected officials and activists of the LGBT community. One of the community leaders in attendance was Bishop V. Gene Robinson who said, “The very fact that he would invite 200 LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] leaders from across the nation on the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the gay liberation movement is just an outstanding thing.” Some believe the White House has taken deliberate steps to demonstrate the president is committed to LGBT rights – due to the recent Justice Department responses to DOMA and DADT. Certain additional rights were also extended to partners of civilian federal employees. Our community and our allies continue to wait for (and look forward to) the time and place when President Obama begins to fully set into motion the promises he made to us as Candidate Obama.

Transgender Passengers File Complaint in Philadelphia (June 30, 2009)

Equality Advocates Pennsylvania – an LGBT civil rights organization – filed a complaint against SEPTA on behalf of a Transgender woman name Charlene Arcila. The transit system offers a discounted pass which can be purchases in advance – called a “transpass” – with each pass requiring a sticker designating the rider as “m” (male) or “f” (female). Ms Arcila uses the transit system regularly to commute to her job – as a counselor for people living with HIV/AIDS and substance abuse. One section of the manual governing the “transpass” requires that the driver must verify the “m” or “f” sticker on the pass. Since Ms Arcila identifies as a woman she had an “f” (female) sticker on her pass – but drivers have refused to allow her to use her pass. Finally she decided to have the sticker replaced with an “m” (male) – and the drivers still wouldn’t allow her to use the “transpass”. Ms Arcilia said, “The driver said, ‘You can’t use that,’ and I said, ‘Why can’t you all make up your mind?’ That last time two years ago, I’d had enough.” Since then she has been paying full fare or uses tokens – no longer receiving the discount for more frequent riders. Other passengers have received similar mis-treatment. One is Christina 28 who has a “f” (female) sticker – she identifies as a more masculine lesbian – and she has been denied use of her pass many times. This is a transit system which claims to protect the rights of its passengers, yet requires its drivers to question the gender of those same passengers. Interesting / discriminating name for a discount pass on a city transit system – “transpass”. Hopefully Equality Advocates Pennsylvania will be able to get this resolved so that the rights of all of its riders are protected – and they can just get to where they want to go.

Military Panel – Lt. Dan Choi Should be Discharged (July 1. 2009)

Lt. Dan Choi is an Arabic translator with the National Guard – who also happens to be a Gay man. The Military Panel has decided that he should be discharged – but hasn’t decided how he should be discharged. According to his attorney Maj. Roy Dehl, “the process could take weeks or up to a year. For now (he) will continue drilling with his New York National Guard unit.” “I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy – patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who’ve served this country well,” Obama said Monday. Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated that Pentagon lawyers are trying to make the law more flexible – until it is changed. “And the issue that we face is, how do we begin to do preparations and, simultaneously, the administration move forward in asking the Congress to change the law?” Gates asked. Our community has been waiting ever so patiently for this administration to put eloquently spoken words into action – and is still waiting. Please join me in offering a show of support to Lt. Choi and all the other service members who are facing the loss of their jobs (or have already lost their jobs) due to a very mixed up and horrible miscarriage of their civil rights.

New Delhi Court Rules Gay Sex No Longer Criminal (July 2, 2009)

In India – more specifically the state of New Delhi – being LGBT is no longer a crime. Consenting homosexual adults now have the freedom to truly intimately express themselves without fear of being arrested. “I’m so excited and I haven’t been able to process the news yet,” Anajali Gopalan, the executive director of the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, a sexual health organization that had filed the petition, told reporters. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code had been in place since the era of British colonialism – or British rule. That outdated law made homosexual sex punishable by 10 years in prison. Congratulations to our brothers and sisters in New Delhi – and hopefully this is just the beginning of new found freedoms in more and more states in India.

Rights of Lesbian Parents Increased in Copenhagen (July 3, 2009)

In the past – when the Lesbian partner of a woman who gave birth wanted to adopt their child – the Lesbian partner had to wait until three months after the birth of the child. This was part of a general law regarding adoption based upon a mother giving up her child for adoption – and being given three months to change her mind. Beginning July 1, 2009 that has changed for the better for Lesbian couples. Now the non-birth mother will have the legal right to adopt the baby from birth – in the cases of the use of artificial insemination. This change in the law also includes a provision which entitles the (adoptive) partner to 14 days of parental leave immediately following the birth of their child. According to the article “this provision is in line with similar rights for fathers” – “previously, the female partner was only entitled to leave if her employer agreed to it in advance.” This is a great step forward for Lesbian families in Copenhagen – Congratulations!

“In Pictures: Pride Party Politics” in the UK (July 4, 2009)

Here in the US we have been proudly celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots. The Gay Pride parades and other festivities are acknowledging Stonewall in some way. Well the UK also has a significant history of LGBT rights and events. Some of these events are shown in a wonderful slide show. Please – please go directly to this slide show provided by the BBC NEWS – and have a photographic look at some of the Gay Pride history of the UK. Hope you enjoy – I definitely did!

JASMYN Holds Prom Specifically For LGBTQ Youth in FL (July 4, 2009)

“In 1984, the Federal Equal Access Act was passed by Congress and stated that public schools could not bar same-sex couples from school functions. But many gay students still find they face discrimination, and in some cases are still told they are not allowed to go to prom for fear of repercussions.” JASMYN – the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network – held their prom on June 19, 2009 for the ninth year in a row. The organization provides safety, comfort and activities for LGBTQ young people under the age of 24. The annual event is provided so that they can celebrate the Prom they missed from their own high school – or attended but did not feel at all comfortable being themselves. Here is an organization which treats young people simply with respect and understanding for who they are – and also offers support to those still trying to figure that out. Hope they had a great time – seems like they did.
mjMJ, 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 – (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.

LGBT Notable News Happenings (June 2, 2009 – June 6, 2009)

June 08, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsWA LGBT Group Might Expose Petition Signers (June 2, 2009)

There has been a lot of discussion lately about publicly recognizing people who are anti-LGBT in their actions.  Previously, contributors to anti-LGBT legislation such as Prop. 8 in CA have been listed on weblogs and other internet sites.  When a registered voter signs a petition, and it has been properly certified, the names then do become a matter of public record.  Now two organizations are planning to create a similar type of post showing those who sign petitions for Referendum 71.  Recently WA passed an expansion of their Domestic Partner Bill and Referendum 71 is an attempt to overturn that approved expansion of LGBT rights.

Denmark Study – Kids of Lesbian Moms More Mentally Healthy (June 2, 2009)

According to a study done in Copenhagen – children raised in families headed by Lesbian mothers have a lesser chance of developing mental illness than those children raised in families headed by heterosexual parents.  Merete Lauberg of the University of Copenhagen said, “The findings suggest that concerns that alternative families have a negative effect on child development are over.”  Hopefully this will be the beginning of many more adoptions by LGBT parents  – to be.  Good news and definitely very interesting news for our community.

Harvard Joins Yale in LGBT Studies (June 3, 2009)

The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus has made a large gift to the university to endow a chair – being named for F.O. Matthiessen.  The gift will be used to invite “eminent scholars studying issues related to sexuality or sexual minorities” for a one semester period on the Harvard campus.  Professor Matthiessen was a Harvard scholar and literary critic who also was a gay man.  Candace Gingrich a youth outreach manager at HRC, and sister of Newt Gingrich said, “Any time a university as renowned as Harvard feels it is important and sees it as important to have an endowed professorship in LGBT studies is recognition that it is an important issue.”   Although Yale originally turned down the endowment they were offered, the university later accepted the endowment and also has an endowed chair in LGBT studies.

Catholic Charities in Legal Dilemma in UK (June 3, 2009)

Adoption is one way of growing a family in LGBT households.  Here in the U.S. some couples are finding it very difficult if not impossible to adopt.  For LGBT households in the UK the Charity Commission is the legal board in England and Wales which regulates charities.  The Charity Tribunal was set up as part of the Charity Commission.  Recently Catholic Charities has come under scrutiny for discrimination – because of their “heterosexuals only” policy.  The Catholic Church and Catholic Charities now are facing a decision of choosing between the tenants of the Church and their legal status as a charity in the UK.

New Hampshire Joins in Legalizing Gay Marriage (June 3, 2009)

Governor John Lynch signed the bill after it passed the state Senate and the state’s Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.  The law will go into effect on January 1, 2010 – and will also recognize out-of-state gay marriages and civil unions.  “Today, we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities, and respect, under New Hampshire law,” Lynch said in a statement.

Former N.C. Mayor Sues Radio Host for Libel (June 3, 2009)

Tom Fetzer, a former Raleigh mayor, filed a lawsuit against a radio show host – the purpose of which he claims was to protect his name.  Mr Fetzer claims that Curtis Wright knowingly forwarded an anonymous letter containing false information – which implied that Fetzer is gay.  Fetzer said in a statement, “It is justice that I seek, not vengeance.”  A 1994 state Court of Appeals ruling said that falsely accusing someone of being gay or bisexual wasn’t automatically slander because such an accusation is not tantamount to charging someone with a crime.   Fetzer is a candidate for chairmanship of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Gay Penguins Raise Family in Germany (June 3, 2009)

The penguin couple – at a zoo in Bremerhaven – were given an egg which was rejected by its biological parents.  The couple named Z and Vielpunkt have been happily raising the chick as their own since the zoo allowed them to adopt the egg as an “Easter gift”.  A statement from the zoo said, “Since the chick arrived, they have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual (penguin) couple to do.  The two happy fathers spend their days attentively protecting, caring for and feeding their adopted offspring.”  Best wishes to the happy and growing family.

State Workers in AZ Could Lose Domestic Partner Benefits (June 3, 2009)

Last year then Governor Janet Napolitano’s administration added domestic partner benefits.  Critics of the benefit now site many reasons why they feel the benefits should be removed, including estimating a financial savings to the state.  Republican legislative leaders are currently proposing a budget which would eliminate those same benefits effective Oct.1 of this year.   “Department of Administration spokesman Alan Ecker said it’s impossible to know how many domestic partner benefits are going to same-sex couples because the state doesn’t track that information.”  Accordingly, there is no way to really determine the amount of money the state of Arizona would save by eliminating the benefits.

Ted Olsen & David Boies Have Filed Fed Lawsuit (June 4, 2009)

In a previous post an article was included about the Federal suit and some opinions both for and against the suit.  This particular article includes a more thorough background as to why Olsen and Boies joined with American Foundation for Equal Rights to file the suit.  Also included in the article is a photo history, “pictures of the gay-rights movement, from Stonewall to Prop. 8”.  I urge everyone to take a look at these historical and quite moving photographs – an appropriate and sobering reminder of why we are continuing to fight so hard for LGBT equality.

Staten Island Pride Parade Year Five: “We Are Here!” (June 6, 2009)

They were out and proud and having a lot of fun.  There were “church groups and students, seniors and toddlers, lawmakers, union members, business owners, and co-grand marshals riding in flag-draped convertibles”.  Hundreds of LGBT folks with their friends and families filled the streets in celebration of LGBT Pride.  Happily there were no protesters – just supporters and participants for the nearly 2-mile parade.  Jim Padula, who came out just a few years ago – in his 60’s – said, “Twenty years ago I would have been scared to be here.  Now it is like family.”

Close to 50,000 Attend Europride in Zurich Despite Rain (June 6, 2009)

Europride festival which was first held in London in 1993 travels to a different city each year.  This year it was held in Zurich, Switzerland and next year it is expected to be held in Warsaw.  The Christian Social Union (BCS) had called for the defense of the “Christian family model”, and some people were seen handing out their leaflets, but that stayed pretty quiet.  Michael Rueegg the organizer said while at Europride, “Up to now, there are about 50,000 people participating in the parade, but there will be some more people coming for the festivities later today.”  The article also includes a map of the location and pictures of the fun.