Civil 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.”
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 !
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
“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.
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.