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San Antonio School to Make Changes After Transgender Student Leads Protest

February 26, 2015 By: jaysays Category: activism

Memorial High School Transgender ProtestYesterday, we learned that Jayden Blake Castillo, a transgender student at Memorial High School in the Edgewood School District of San Antonio, Texas, had planned a protest at the school to highlight the discrimination he has faced. Through social media, Jayden recounted the problems he had been facing with the school. Many teachers, including the school Principal, Michael Rodriguez, refused to acknowledge Jayden’s correct gender and insisted on referring to him with female pronouns. The catalyst that sent Jayden into action was a recent episode on a school bus, when Jayden was forbidden from riding the “boys bus” under a newly implemented gender segregation policy.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. yesterday, Jayden, along with his parents, several supportive students and human rights activists, arrived at the school seeking action and answers. Several media outlets were also present. During the protest, Principal Michael Rodriguez, who Jayden alleges had previously been dismissive and condescending to him, greeted the protesters and invited Jayden, his parents, and transgender activist, Nikki Araguz-Lloyd to come speak with him.

Jayden emerged from the meeting with several promises from Principal Rodriguez, which if implemented properly should make the remainder of Jayden’s high school tenure more tolerable. The agreements included sensitivity training from Memorial High School staff and a promise to lobby the Edgewood Independent School District officials to do the same at all schools within its District. The Principal also promised they would stop gender segregation on the buses and would work directly with Jayden to provide him access to a bathroom, in hopes of avoiding future problems.

According to Roland Martinez, a spokesperson for Edgewood School District, the district is reviwing its policy on interaction with transgender students. The current policy is to address such students according to the gender noted on legal documents supplied to the school.

Jayden’s “victory” yesterday isn’t his alone. He’s bold action and bravery will undoubtedly impact future students at Memorial High School and how those students are treated by faculty and staff. However, there is much more work to be done to insure a safe learning environment for transgender youth. As noted earlier, Jayden experienced severe bullying at his prior school.

The Texas legislature enacted anti-bullying legislation in 2011, which provided for a formal reporting process for Texas School Districts with respect to incidents of bullying. However, the original text of House Bill 1942 and its sister legislation Senate Bill 471, were modified after concerns were had over whether the bill was passable with sexual orientation and gender identity included in the enumerated categories. To overcome this concern, the enumerated categories were removed and such enumerations were left to each school district. The end result is that each of the 1,031 School Districts in Texas will be responsible for determining how episodes of bullying are reported, making statistics gathering more difficult and addressing the underlying causes of bullying particularly challenging. Thus, district by district we must walk, to effect the change we hope to see within the education system so that students like Jayden, and every other child in our public schools, has not only equal access to education, but fair access to it.

Stupid Things People Say About Gays – Anti-Gay Pastor James Manning Admits Homosexual Fantasies?

November 08, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Stupid Things People Say About Gays

James Manning, a Pentecostal minister in New York who is no stranger to controversial statements, recently recorded a rant in which he interpreted God’s loving words as follows:

It is time now for those of us who know the truth to stand up and push back against this homosexual lesbianly LGBT agenda, and those are the correct alphabet.  It is time for us to stand up and declare that homosexuality is not normal, it is abnormal.  That it is an aborition.  That it does not fit the nature called. It does not fit any place within the universe.  It is a perversion of humanity, homosexuality is.  We also need to know that biblically, whether you are a biblical subscriber or not, have understood that homosexuality is not only a sin and there’s a remedy for sin,but homosexuality, homosexual activity perversion goes beyond the definition of sin and has been described by the holy spirit in the bible as an ab… abomination, that is to say that it is so wicked before the eyes of God that he is not readily with a remedy of forgiveness for those that commit such an abomination.  That it is below the caliber of sin and that is not easily forgiven.
It’s highly unlikely that any member of the LGBT community hasn’t heard a similar speech.  However, Mr. Manning went a step further in his tirade, proving that Shakespeare had it right again, he does protest too much.  In his rant that smelled of a recruitment video for religious extremism, Mr. Manning bluntly admitted to his own homosexual fantasies:
You look at a homosexual couple and you wonder what were they doing last night in the bedroom…
How long do you wonder on it Mr. Manning?  Probably as long as he fantasizes about trashy white people having sex with black people, as stated in an earlier rant:
It is common knowledge that African men, coming from the continent of Africa — especially for the first time — do diligently seek out white women to have sexual intercourse with. Generally the most noble of white society choose not to intercourse sexually with these men. So it’s usually the trashier ones who make their determinations that they’re going to have sex.
Of course, Manning’s recruitment video was his unfortunate attempt at damning homosexuals rather than a coming out video (although if history does indeed repeat itself, watch for him at Man Hunt).  He also stated:
We gotta use strong language, like fag, bulldykers, sodomites, but what they do is they get people’s attention. *** Don’t be afraid to use fag, bulldykers, sodomite. It is not hate.  It isn’t at all.  It isn’t fear either.
But perhaps Manning hit the lowest point when yellow text scrolled the screen stating “toilet= rectum” while he made this statement on the origins of AIDS:
A lot of people say that AIDS was created in the toilet of some homosexual man. That’s were it was created, it wasn’t created in the vagina, but it was created in a man’s toilet and that’s were it came from.”


NOTE: For more of the column, Stupid Things People Say About Gays, click here.

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When is a Hate Crime Not a Hate Crime? – When SAPD Investigates

March 20, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Hate Crimes

The San Antonio Police Department has refused to investigate the murder of Troy Martinez Clattenberg as a hate crime in spite of a confession from his murderer, Cody Carmichael, wherein Carmichael stated to police that he shot Clattenburg because the victim made sexual advances toward him.

Troy was murdered on February 21, 2010 in my hometown.  His murderer, was charged this past Monday with bail set at $100,000.00.

Troy’s body was found laying under a poster of the ten commandments in his apartment.

Troy’s murderer, Cody Carmichael, states that the sexual advances came while an unidentified man was with them, providing Cody with the gun.  Cody then left the apartment, took the man home and returned.  Troy had dinner in the microwave, some meat loaf and green beans, when he answered the door.  He didn’t get to eat.  Cody shot him.

As his murderer prepares for the highly successful Gay Panic Defense, let’s talk about what San Antonio’s pro-LGBT Police Chief is doing for the community.

Apologizing, again… and again

This latest slap in the face from the department comes just weeks after an SAPD officer raped a transwoman in the backseat of his patrol car and just months after the SAPD raided the home of a lesbian couple, laid panties and bras on the bed and harassed the two women about their sexual orientation [see links above].

I’ve had my own problems with discrimination from the San Antonio Police Department, including an incident where a group of skinheads threatened to murder me for being a “faggot.”  When the police arrived, they escorted me from the scene and released my assailants.

Isn’t it about time we say, “ENOUGH!?”  Isn’t it about time we GetEQUAL?

***UPDATE***

Cody Carmichael has been released on bond.

LGBT Notable News Happenings (June 7, 2009 – June 12, 2009).

June 15, 2009 By: MJ Category: Featured, LGBT News

LGBT NewsSalt Lake Celebrates LGBT Pride (June 8, 2009)

There were brightly colored floats, rainbow banners, marching and dancing men and women in brightly colored attire.  This year the Utah Pride Center,  organizer of the celebration, also held a political rally in conjunction with the festival.  Grand marshal was LGBT activist Clive Jones – who incidentally thanked The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for supporting Proposition 8.  Clive said, “We thank you for unifying us as never before.  We thank you for teaching our young people that they must be prepared to fight for freedom.”  It is easy to feel like part of the fun – just go to the article and click the “play multimedia” link on the red and white striped face !!  Happy LGBT Pride month everybody!!

D.C. Pride Fest Honors Franklin Kameny (June 8, 2009)

Franklin Kameny is known as one of the original LGBT activists, and this year he was honored as a part of the Pride Fest in D.C.  Kameny was part of the first Gay Rights picket in front of the White House in October 1965 – and although he has been involved in many parts of the LGBT rights movement – he prefers to be remembered for coming up with the slogan “Gay is Good” in 1968.  The slogan is really very important to him.  Mr. Kameny said, “The phrase encapsulates the whole underlying driving force and rationale for everything that I’ve been involved in.”  Mr. Kameny is still quite active at the age of 84, and has been advising DC Council member David Catania on the gay marriage issue as well as continuing to lobby Congress to end D.A.D.T.   A volunteer group called the Kameny Papers Project donated more than 50,000 of his documents – which have been catalogued by the Library of Congress.   These are just a few of the ways in which Franklin Kameny has continued to enhance our movement.

Gay Man From Philippines Wins Asylum in CA (June 8, 2009)

Philip Belarmino is an English Professor from the Philippines, and taught there at university for 17 years.  He has been staying with his parents and his sister who are permanent residents in the Bay Area.  After his visitor’s visa expired in 2006 Professor Belarmino consulted an attorney in San Francisco and began his fight to stay in the U.S.  He had been sexually assaulted a number of times in the Philippines and he had been fearful of being subject to further abuse because of his sexuality if he would have been forced to return.  That was part of the court testimony heard by Judge Loreto Geisse who fortunately finally granted political asylum in the United States to Philip Belarmino.  This was not the Professor’s first attempt to stop his own deportation but this time it was successful!!!  During his celebration of asylum he also showed courage in another way – he “came out” to his own family for the first time.

The Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to DADT (June 8, 2009)

Former Army Capt. James Pietrangelo II, whose military career was forcibly ended by the unconstitutional law “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, had joined with others hoping to having D.A.D.T. overturned.  Kevin Nix – spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network – responded by saying, “We don’t see that at all as bad news for repeal.  What happens today puts the ball back into the court of Congress and the White House to repeal the law, and that’s where we think it should be right now.”  Previously President Obama indicated he supported repealing the law and hopefully he will begin that process very soon.  Until then many LGBT military service personnel are still being fired from their careers unjustly.

First LGBT Pride Events for Shanghai (June 11, 2009)

The events are being organized by Shanghai LGBT – which is an association of English speaking expatriates.  Money raised by the Pride Events will go to the Hong Kong-based Chi Heng Foundation, which funds education for children orphaned by AIDS in central China.  In order to avoid the need for government permission “Shanghai Pride” will not include a colorful parade – and will be centered around events held in private venues.  Even with the use of private venues there is still concern that the government of China might show their presence and attempt to stop the celebrations.  The medical community in China officially stopped viewing Homosexuality as a mental disorder only as recently as 2001.  Hopefully our brothers and sisters have been having a great and proud time at Shanghai Pride #1 !!  We look forward to the year when they can celebrate loud and with full rainbow colors!

U.S. Officially Speaks Out Against Anti-Gay Violence in Iraq (June 11, 2009)

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad has come forward in raising the issue with Iraqi government officials.  State Department spokesman Ian Kelly has been speaking out directly to the Iraqi government as an official representative.  It is believed (at the time of the article) that as many as 25 boys and men have been killed in Baghdad alone – their only “crime” being that they were Gay or believed to be Gay.  Statistics are not available regarding girls or women who have been killed.  A previous article in this column mentioned that London-Based Amnesty International also wrote directly to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki this past April.  Hopefully more voiced concerns along with even more powerful voices will begin to curb the violence against our LGBT brothers and sisters – and hopefully will also someday change the laws.

CA Gov. and Atty. Gen. Oppose Injunction Against Prop. 8 (June 12, 2009)

The Federal lawsuit already filed by David Boies and Theodore Olson also includes a request for an injunction to freeze the current Gay marriage ban in CA.  According to the article, “(Attorney General) Brown and (Governor) Schwarzenegger argued separately that it would create too much havoc to put the law on hold until the constitutional issues are resolved, perhaps eventually by the U.S. Supreme Court.”  If the injunction were granted – LGBT couples could resume marrying in California.  Attorney General Brown said that he agrees Proposition 8 “imposed a special disability on gays and lesbians and their families on the basis of sexual orientation.”  He also mentioned that it is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s promise of equal protection and due process.  Actually the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “disability” as; “1 a:  the condition of being disabled;  b:  inability to pursue an occupation because of a physical or mental impairment.”  Possibly the Attorney General meant to use a different word in describing the lack of equality gays and lesbians and their families are experiencing.

Fed D.O.J. Dismisses Suit Filed by Gay Couple Married in CA (June 12, 2009)

This lawsuit was actually filed prior to the suit filed by the attorneys Boies and Olsen.  The first Fed lawsuit was filed to argue the case of Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, who were legally married in California during 2008.  The recent ruling upholding the actions of Prop. 8 means their marriage is still legal, but their concern is the legality of their marriage in states other than California where LGBT marriage is not approved or is still illegal.  The U.S. Justice Department has filed the necessary motion to dismiss the case – the motion was filed on Thursday.  According to the article reported by the AP, “In a separate filing, the California attorney general moved Thursday to dismiss the state lawsuit by the same couple, saying Hammer and Smelt lack standing to sue because their marriage was unaffected in any way by the passage of Proposition 8, the voter-approved gay marriage ban.”  The case was originally in California state court before it went to Federal court.

pngwnz [photo coming soon]: jaysays.com contributor, MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King. She has been an invaluable resource as a reader and idea bouncer-off-er [yeah, that’s the word we are using] and we are pleased to have her as part of the team!

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.

Why Would You Say That – Really?

June 03, 2009 By: MJ Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

reallyWhen I was a shop steward and a union activist (not so very long ago) I fought for the rights of my co-workers and myself.  We had a contract between our Union and the major corporation we worked for – and as shop stewards our purpose was to make sure that the rights of not even of one person were violated under that contract.  Another side of that same purpose was to educate and assist our co-workers so that no union members knowingly violated the contract either.  More importantly we worked really hard to try to resolve issues before getting to the point of needing to file grievances or other types of legal complaints.

There were dissenters within our membership who felt from time to time that the Union was handling things wrong and they were entitled to their opinion.  My fellow stewards and I found that communication and compassion was a very important part of what we did.  It was a job I gladly volunteered for and, although it took a significant amount of my own time, I’m still glad I was a part of that.

Saying things about other people when you don’t really know … – now I’m thinking you are likely wondering how in the world I jumped to this topic.  Well, it has to do with what I have already mentioned and with what I am about to mention.  In the Union activism there were things that were said (by members of management and also by some co-workers) – that were not very nice – and there were whispers and rumors and other unpleasant references.  In the matter of the other issue (which I will get into shortly) the notion of saying something without really having first hand knowledge has been and still is a very great problem.  Sometimes the right to saying some of these things is protected by law – meaning that the person making the statements is protected by law – under certain circumstances.  The laws and the circumstances vary by state, country and province.  I may have left out a geographic designation or two in that description but I hope you get the idea.

Making a statement about an individual (or a particular group of people) can be as innocent as saying “(so and so) is as silly as a goose” or as hateful as words and phrases I feel are not appropriate to print in a respectable forum such as this.  When somebody makes a statement or accusation about another person (or group of people) and, for example –  the statement or accusation is false and damaging to that person (or group) – the law can possibly become involved depending on where this action takes place, etc.

As a shop steward when I was told by some that my actions were foolish or were going to hurt the company or other similar things, I either defended my actions with facts or just did not answer to what was said.  Some of the co-workers I represented were told things by their direct supervisors which simply and contractually were not correct – my initial response was to advise the co-worker what the correct information was – then mediate an agreement with the supervisor to resolve the situation.  Sounds relatively simple and sometimes it was – but sometimes it grew into the grievance process and sometimes even further than that.

Now I’ve just about come to that other issue (I really am getting there).  First though I want to say that I am now a gay activist, and also that I fully believe in the freedom of speech – as protected by the Bill of Rights – and here it is:

Article – the third [Amendment I]:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yes the law in this country is quite specific.  I really do wonder though, why anybody would really want to specifically say anything that would hurt another person – or a specific group of people – in any way.  I would like to look at these issues from the following point of view:

  • Everybody I have ever met has feelings (emotions) – some people hide those feelings more deeply than others – some people are quite pronounced with their feelings – and many are somewhere in between.
  • I don’t understand why one person would want to purposefully hurt the feelings of another person – publicly or privately.
  • I don’t understand why one person would want to purposefully hurt the feelings of an entire group of people – publicly or privately.

Then there is this;  I don’t understand  … how in any way or form of being – one person could claim to know what another person is feeling in terms of attraction toward someone of their own gender or toward someone of the opposite gender.

Now … I think you might know where I’m going with this.  Some heterosexual adults (or at least some of the adults publicly claiming to be heterosexual) claim to know exactly what sexual attraction feels like for a homosexual person.  I absolutely don’t understand why or how.  I mean even if you cut your finger and I cut my finger exactly the same way (accidentally hypothetically and minor injuries only of course) we are going to feel a different amount of pain, the bleeding will take a slightly different amount of time to stop and the healing will be different.  Your worry or concerns about the cut and the details of it will be different from mine, you might use a different type of bandage than I do or you might not even use a bandage at all.  The list of differences can go on and on and on.

Just looking at an example like that, which doesn’t even deal with heterosexuality or homosexuality, I’m hoping I have  made a point here – that you don’t feel absolutely what everybody else feels.  Nobody does. Things just don’t happen like that.  So – if you are heterosexual and I am homosexual (which I am – a lesbian, in fact) there is really no way that you can accurately tell me who I am attracted to sexually (or in any other way) any more than I can tell you who you are attracted to sexually (or in any other way).  So ……  why in the world (just using a commonly used saying here) would you insist that homosexuality is a choice?  Why in the world would you say that I am really attracted to persons of the opposite sex (and that I am really a  heterosexual) but that I have decided I would rather be with somebody of my own/same gender?  I mean – free speech laws/rights and all that considered – you have the legal right to say it – but why in the world would you want to say that – really??  To my way of thinking  – well it just absolutely makes no sense.  I am homosexual and (as a lesbian) I am attracted to ladies.

Well wait a minute, though, using your logic does that really mean that even though you are heterosexual you are really attracted to persons of your same gender but have decided instead to stick with persons of the opposite gender ?????

Thank-you !

About the Author: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com.  Her work can be found under the LGBT Notable News Happenings.  She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King. She has been an invaluable resource as a reader and idea bouncer-off-er [yeah, that’s the word we are using] and we are pleased to have her as part of the team!

LGBT Notable News Happenings (May 24, 2009 – May 29, 2009)

May 31, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsBritish Clergy Fear New LGBT Rights Bill in UK (May 24, 2009)

In the U.S. some Church leaders, and others on the far right, have expressed major concerns that the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill now in the Senate will hurt the rights of the Church to preach to Church members.  Well, it looks as though our community here in the U.S. is not alone in trying to correct misinterpretations and misunderstandings.  In Britain there is an existing law titled the “Criminal Justice and Immigration Act”, and this year a new “clause” has been proposed.  Our brothers and sisters in the UK seem to be experiencing similar frustrations.  The Public Order Act of 1986 includes Part 3 which prohibits expressions of “racial hatred”.  This new “clause” is simply extending the protection to the LGBT community.  The “clause” or Part 3 is not meant to cause any new concerns to leaders of a Church.

LGBT Hate Crime in Cape Cod (May 24, 2009)

A young man named Eric Patten, just 23 years old, was quite drunk and was asked to leave a club in Provincetown.  According to police he began screaming anti-homosexual slurs on the sidewalk outside the club and approached and began attacking two lesbian women.  Police also said Eric called one of the women an offensive slur which would refer to a gay man.  Then, he pushed one of the women into a cafe window both breaking the window and injuring the woman.  Both women were taken to the hospital and bystanders were visibly upset about what they had witnessed.  Mr. Patten is facing a number of charges including resisting arrest.

Gay Minister Appointed in Scotland (May 25, 2009)

The Rev. Scott Rennie was relieved and humbled as the ruling body of the Church of Scotland voted to dismiss the challenge against his new appointment.  Rev. Rennie is now an openly gay minister with a partner and his most current appointment was originally challenged because of his sexual orientation.  He believes the challenge came from religious conservatives within the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion would be the equivalent to the Anglican body here in the U.S., where openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2003 in New Hampshire.

New LGBT Youth Cafe in Ireland (May 25, 2009)

Many of the young people in Limerick haven’t really had a place where they can feel comfortable and safe.  Many don’t even feel comfortable or safe in their own local schools.  The cafe is meant, for LGBTQ young people aged 13 – 25, to be a place where they can stop by for a chat with a youth worker, or even just hang out for awhile.  Although it was originally meant for LGBT youth and those who are questioning – non LGBTQ family members and friends are also welcome.

Prop. 8 Upheld by CA Supreme Court (May 27, 2009)

The majority of the justices of the CA Supreme Court voted to uphold the Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage.  They said that Prop. 8 was a limited constitutional amendment which did not require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to be put on the ballot.  The justices decided unanimously that the approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages would still be legal in the state.  The one justice who did vote in favor of overturning Prop. 8, Justice Carlos R. Moreno, said the ruling was, “not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.  The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities.”

Fed Lawsuit Filed to Overturn CA Prop. 8 (May 27, 2009)

Back in 2000 there was an highly disputed presidential election with memories of hanging chads, butterfly ballots and challenging Electoral College votes.  Recently a new advocacy nonprofit called American Foundation for Equal Rights was formed and they hired attorneys David Boies and Theodore B. Olson to represent two gay couples in a Federal lawsuit challenging Proposition 8.  The two attorneys, Mr. Boies and Mr. Olson, were each the lead attorneys during the court battle over the 2000 Presidential election – and are now working together because they see Federal possibility of overturning Prop. 8.  Mr Olson, who served as solicitor general under former Pres. Bush was quoted as saying, “Creating a second class of citizens is discrimination, plain and simple.  The Constitution of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln does not permit it.”  Hopefully their combined legal experience along with their determination will help to win marriage equality for California, as well as other states.

CA School Board Votes to Adopt Anti-Bullying Curriculum (May 27, 2009)

Previously in this column an article was included about a school district in Alameda, CA considering adopting a well written curriculum to help students and teachers have better respect and understanding for the LGBT community.  That vote has taken place and there were cheers when the results of the vote were announced.  The members of the board voted 3-2 in favor of adopting the new curriculum.  Some members of other minority groups present at the meeting were not as happy with the vote – citing problems which exist toward their own groups.  The district Superintendent Kirsten Vital answered them by acknowledging the concerns and saying, “We need to do a better job as a school district, but you don’t take away from one group to support another…”.

More Killings of Gays in Iraq (May 28, 2009)

During the past three months approximately 30 more people have been killed in Iraq because they were either believed to be or know to be homosexual.  Amnesty International wrote directly to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take action to stop this from happening.  Some believe that these people were tortured then killed in baghdad at the hands of the Mahdi Army, some believe tribal vigilantes were responsible.

Air Force Lt. Col. Battling for Career Over DADT (May 28, 2009)

Lt. Col Victor Fehrenbach is the winner of nine medals for distinguished service in flight and is trying to save his 18-year Air Force career.  A year ago an acquaintance told his bosses he was gay, now Fehrenbach is trying to save his career with the help of The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.  He had been trying to stay in the service until the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” – but he has decided it is time to speak out.  Lt. Col. Fehrenbach said, “I will fight this in uniform and I’ll fight it without.  I swore an oath to defend and support the Constitution, I’m going to speak out and fight this until the law is repealed because it is not constitutional.”  He has also appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show.

High School in CA Elects Male Prom Queen (May 29, 2009)

When Sergio Garcia, a senior at Fairfax High School in the Hollywood area, submitted his application for Prom Queen earlier this month he told his classmates he would wear a suit and not a dress to the prom.  Then, at his prom the majority of the students voted by paper ballot to elect him.  Senior Keith Perez, who was elected Prom King said that he, “didn’t mind at all” dancing with the school’s first male Prom King.  Vanessa Lo, the senior class president and the prom date of Keith Perez, was happy to announce Garcia as the newly elected Prom Queen that evening.  Many notable alumni of Fairfax High School include members of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers, actresses Mila Kunis and Demi Moore … and another not so notable nor famous alumnus … your humble news gatherer – MJ.

LGBT Notable News Happenings (May 18, 2009 – May 23, 2009)

May 25, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsRodger McFarlane LGBT Activist Mourned (May 23, 2009)

Rodger McFarlane was a gay activist who set up the first AIDS hotline in 1981, using his own home phone and an answering machine. He went on to establish many other organizations and services to help those with AIDS.  In addition to being an activist, Mr. McFarlane was a very lively man and made seven over-ice expeditions to the North Pole.  Mark Thompson, a Los Angeles author, said, “He was one of those fantastically energetic, self-possessed visionary people who knew what had to be done.”  In 2002 Mr. McFarlane broke his back in an Eco-Challenge race and his health had been deteriorating since then.

CA School Agrees to Settlement (May 18, 2009)

A high school in the Vallejo Unified School District has agreed to pay a former student named Rochelle $25,000, and adopt new policies regarding bullying and prohibiting discrimination.  Sadly, the worst of the anti-gay harassment toward her came from one of the teachers at the school who ridiculed her by saying, “… she did not know whether she (Rochelle) was a boy or a girl.”  Other teachers at the high school also refused to let her into the girl’s locker room.  Rochelle now attends another high school.

Schools Block LGBT Web Sites (May 20, 2009)

The ACLU had been truly hoping to avoid taking court action against the Knox County and Nashville school systems.  Web sites specifically falling into the category of LGBT have been completely blocked from student access, but websites which are anti-LGBT or which promote so called LGBT “cures” are fully accessible.  A system was set up whereby the teachers would have been able to unlock the access to an LGBT web site for a student, but the student(s) would have been forced to “come out” to the teacher in order to request the access.

Report on Harvey Milk Censored by Principal (May 19, 2009)

Sixth-grader Natalie Jones was inspired after seeing the movie “Milk” and decided to write a report about his life and death for her class.  Instead Natalie’s presentation was stopped and she was sent to the office of her principal Theresa Grace.  The Principal of Mt. Woodson Elementary School decided that the sixth-grader’s report would require letters to parents notifying them of a lesson dealing with sex.  These letters offered the parents the option to decline to allow their children to participate in a “sex education” lesson.   The ACLU has responded.

New Lawsuit Filed Against DOMA (May 21, 2009)

The Defense of Marriage Act is being challenged again, hopefully with better results for all concerned.  Dean Hara, a widower, was married legally to former out gay US Congressman Gerry Studds, who died of a blood clot to his lung in October 2006.  Mr. Hara is still fighting for survivor benefits – which would not be a problem in the same circumstances for a survivor of a heterosexual marriage.  Several other widowers and couples are also involved in the newly filed lawsuit.  According to Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor, “It’s far from a slam dunk, but it’s a powerful and plausible case.”  Mr. Tribe is not involved in the lawsuit.

Love Matters More for Former San Angelo, Texas Mayor (May 21, 2009)

They met and got to know each other locally and then it turned into a beautiful relationship.  J.W. Lown and his partner did discover some difficulties and then the newly re-elected fourth term now former Mayor, and his partner, decided it was time for both of them to return to Mexico.  His partner is a citizen of Mexico and Mr. Lown has citizenship in both the U.S. and Mexico.  This is a beautiful story of love and immigration and working hard to follow the law.  For J.W. Lown it was a difficult decision to leave San Angelo, but to him some things do matter more than even a successful political career.

Swastika Used in Hate Crime at Home in Merced, CA (May 22, 2009)

Frances Martin had moved into her new home only a few days ago.  She decided to move in order to take care of her eight year old granddaughter while her own daughter is deployed in Iraq.  Ms. Martin’s son had just mowed the lawn when she realized something didn’t look right.  When she waked out to the sidewalk she was surprised to see a swastika burned into her lawn.  Ms. Martin and her family are African American.  The swastika is a white supremacist symbol, and an emblem of the German Nazi Party, which has been used both hatefully and violently against the LGBT community, African Americans, the Jewish people and other minority groups.  Ms Martin was simply looking for a safer place for her granddaughter.

Much Needed LGBT Center Now at San Jose State U. (May 22,2009)

Seven months ago San Jose State University opened the first center for LGBT students on the campus.  Larry Arzie and David Stonesifer graduated from SJSU back in the 1960’s at a time when there was no center for LGBT students to gather.  Back then, “… students who were wrestling with sexual identity were counseled to undergo psychiatric counseling.”  Fortunately that is no longer the case.  The successful couple, who have been living in Los Gatos, recently gave a very generous bequest to the new LGBT Center at SJSU which is their Alma Mater.

CA Supreme Court Set to Announce Decision (May 23, 2009)

The LGBT community and our allies throughout California and many other locations have been waiting and waiting for this decision.  On this coming Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific standard time the decision will be announced as well as posted on the web – the website link is included in the article.  Marc Solomon the marriage director of Equality California said, “We hope they rule the right way, but we are prepared to win marriage back at the ballot box.”

LGBT Notable News Happenings (May 7, 2009 – May 13, 2009)

May 18, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsMarriage Issues in the UK (May 7, 2009)

Our community has been fighting for lgbt rights around the world, and the UK is no exception.  Looks like our brothers and sisters in Ireland have decided, according to a poll, that Civil Partnerships are not good enough for them either.  The LGBT community in Ireland joins us in solidarity for marriage equality.

Health Insurance Obstacle for Couples (May 8, 2009)

Gay and Lesbian couples, especially those with families, find additional difficulties in obtaining health insurance.  Some employers do offer options for Domestic Partners but those options (when available) can be costly and legally daunting.  Even in states with Legal Domestic Partnerships – some employers end up deferring to DOMA and do not make the insurance available.

Helem Protects LGBT in Beirut (May 9, 2009)

The only overtly gay rights organization in the Arab world is preparing for a campaign to overturn the law which makes homosexuality illegal.   The organization put together what is  believed to be the first gay rights protest in a downtown Beirut square where nearly 2 dozen gays and lesbians gathered.  Helem also assisted last year when a gay man was murdered and the police took his friends into custody in order examine them rectally – to determine if they were gay.  Fortunately Helem was able to secure their release.

Two LGBT Bills in Texas (May 11, 2009)

Texas based LGBT organizations are busy lobbying lawmakers in support of two pieces of legislation.  One of the bills involves protection in schools from bullying and the other bill  would ban employment discrimination.  Erin Moore of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas said, “For the first in a long time, we haven’t had any anti-LGBT bills – so we’ve been able to spend our time working on behalf of good bills.”  The article also includes a link to Equality Texas –  for more information.

Russia Says No to Lesbian Couple (May 12, 2009)

Irina Fedotova and Irina Shipitko, a lesbian couple, applied for a marriage license in a Moscow government office – but their application was denied.  In spite of the denial the two held hands and shared a loving kiss near the marriage registry office.  Fedotova later told journalists, “We won’t stop in midstream”.  The couple said that they will marry in Canada because Russia does recognize marriages registered abroad.  They had originally hoped to be married before the start of Russian Gay Pride activities.

New York Assembly Passes Marriage Bill (May 12, 2009)

Five Republicans voted with the Democrats in favor of the bill. The Empire State Pride Agenda is leading other gay rights groups in a campaign of statewide advertising including commercials.  Two of the Republican Assemblymen who had previously voted against marriage equality changed their minds and voted in favor of the bill.  Richard L Brodsky, a Democrat said, “We do nothing revolutionary or extraordinary today”.  Supporters like Brodsky insisted the bill was nothing earth-shattering.

School District Proposes Lessons to Stop Bullying (May 13, 2009)

The Alameda Unified School District in Alameda, California held a meeting at the City Hall with an overflow crowd.  So many people arrived for the meeting that many were actually asked to leave.  The District has proposed lessons to address slurs and bullying against gays, and were surprised that 200 people had turned in requests just to speak at the meeting.  There will be one more meeting before the school board makes their decision – the decision is expected to be made on May 26th.

Upcoming Closet Talk Episodes

April 24, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach

Closet TalkHere’s a line up of the upcoming episodes of Closet Talk with jaysays.  Remember, if you are interested in being a guest on the show, please visit the Closet Talk page and complete the form!

Closet Talk: Kyle’s Story – 4/29/2009: 10:00 PM CT / 8:00 PM PTCloset Talk

In this episode of Closet Talk, jaysays talks with Kyle Levinger, a 22 year old gay man who came out at 19 years old. Kyle grew up in Idaho but moved to California 3 years ago. He is an artist whose work can be viewed at http://www.kylelevinger.com.

Closet Talk: Preston’s Story – 5/6/2009 : 10:00 PM CT / 8:00 PM PT

Preston Parsley, a member/organizer for Join the Impact San Antonio, will be sharing his story with jaysays during this episode of Closet Talk. Preston came out at 16 years old and received a mixed response from his closet family members. Although he misses his family, he recognizes the familial relationships available to him within the gay community.

Closet Talk: Becky’s Story – 5/13/2009: 10:00 PM CT / 8:00 PM PT

Becky is a heterosexual; however, her son recently came out of the closet as “gay.”  In this episode, we will be talking about Becky’s own “coming out” as a parent of a gay child and how it has impacted her life and relationship with her son.